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Never Knows Best

Chapter Text

“This is a really bad idea,” Peridot whispered for the 5th time that night as she ducked to avoid being hit by a loose metal fence.

“Jesus Christ, I swear that if you say that again I’m stuffing this entire pack in your mouth.” Amethyst was probably the least suitable person for Peri to call a best friend, and yet there they were. She waved the pack of cigarettes in front of Peridot’s face in a threateningly manner and turned around again. Peridot just sighed.

Both girls were almost at the center of the junkyard, where they were about to have a late night dinner next to a small fire and drink some beers. For Amethyst this was just another Friday night in her favorite smoking spot; a place she would come eventually to relax after the stressful events of the week. For Peridot, however, this was a nerve-wracking experience. It was her first time trespassing, her first time actually walking into a junkyard willingly in the middle of the night, and of course, her first time experimenting a cigarette. Even with Amethyst’s constant reassurance that she didn’t have to try anything she didn’t want to, Peridot was a shaking mess.

She didn’t know if it was because of the cigarettes or the fact that they were two girls walking alone in a black pitch darkness.

“Are we almost there?” Peridot had to keep herself talking to avoid fainting. The flashlight she was holding moved together with her trembling hand, and she was sure her blood pressure was rising in abnormal levels. She was ready to accept a stroke whenever.

“Yep, it’s right around the corner.” Amethyst adjusted the backpack on her shoulder as she turned after a pile of rusted cars. “And would you please trust me on this? I told you this is the safest place in town, there are guards in the entrance 24/7.”

“Yes, and they are so efficient that you’ve been sneaking up here for the past year.”

“No one knows about that entrance! I know because I cut the fence myself,” Amethyst sounded so proud of her criminal acts that Peridot honestly had no arguments. After a few minutes of silent walking, they arrived at the destination. “And here we go. Welcome, to paradise!”

Peridot looked over her friend’s shoulder just to see a slightly cleaner patch of ground with enough space for them to sit down. They were surrounded by piles of rusted cars and wooden boxes from every corner, and it didn’t really look that different from the rest of the place. To say Peridot was underwhelmed was a stretch. “Is that it?”

“Hey, it’s gonna be cozy after we start the fire. Help me out with the food, nerd.” Amethyst smirked and put down the bag. Peridot grunted all the way to their resting spot and grabbed the blanket first, stretching it evenly on the ground. As Amethyst started the fire, Peridot placed their sandwiches on the blanket, as well as their beers and some cupcakes they’d baked the night before. Amethyst had also insisted on bringing marshmallows to roast in the fire, so it would look like some kind of enjoyable camp. For Peridot, it was still a wasted day off.

“And done!” Amethyst announced as the little fire started gaining strength. She plopped down next to Peridot on the blanket and didn’t waste time on opening a beer. “Whaddya say? Not that bad now that we have luminosity, eh?”

“Psh,” Peridot scoffed, turning her flashlight off and opening a sandwich. “Still looks like a dirty junkyard to me.”

“Come on Peri, work with me here,” Amethyst lifted her can. “Cheers!”

Rolling her eyes, Peridot bit into her food and got closer to the fire. It was getting cold and she had to admit the warmth was welcome. Her eyes drifted to the pack of cigarettes lying down carelessly next to her leg and she felt her heart pick up a beat. “…So, how does that work?”

“How does what work?”

“The—” She caught her tongue, not wanting to sound too desperate. “This thing you do every Friday. Do you just come here alone with a couple of beers, a pack of cigs and start a fire?”

“Pretty much it.”

Peridot doubted there were actual guards at the entrance, seeing as they could probably spot the smoke from a distance, but decided to drop this particular question. Instead she went with, “Why?”

Amethyst gulped down the alcohol and burped, much to Peridot’s disgust. “It’s how I relax, dude. You’ve got your games and computer gigs, I’ve got my beers and clear night sky.” The girl smiled and looked up, making Peridot do the same. The blonde had to admit she wasn’t expecting to see that.

The sky was the darkest she’d ever seen thanks to the new moon, which enhanced the glow of the billions of stars above. Being a fan of all things space, she could make out pretty much every constellation just by focusing enough, and was ecstatic when she saw her first shooting star.

“Amethyst, Amethyst! I saw a shooting star!” It was her first smile since they left home, and Amethyst grinned at the happy reaction.

“Oh yeah, there are tons of them around here. I used to make a wish for each one, but ran out of wishes.” The chubby girl laid sideways with her head propped by one hand as she drank.

“Ran out of ideas for jobs you could apply for, you mean.” Peri smirked down on her and finished her sandwich.

“Got me there,” Amethyst laughed, unbothered by the harsh reality that Peridot’s job as a bartender was the only thing keeping them under a decent roof for the past few months. “But hey, I applied to most of them, so who knows right?”

Peridot chuckled as she grabbed a beer. “You got this.” She gulped down and sighed contently at the coldness of the liquid burning through her throat. She was starting to see the appeal of that place as she looked at the sky and felt her best friend’s comforting presence next to her in the fluffy blanket. It was good to get away from the noise of the pub she worked in; this day off was proving to be much better than she previously thought.

With her hectic work hours, Peridot very much enjoyed the eventual resting days she got. Working from 9pm ‘til 6am wasn’t easy, and her vampiric lifestyle prevented her from spending much time with Amethyst. When she heard about getting the Friday off, her first thought was to do something with her best friend. Amethyst was excited with the news and said she wanted to take her somewhere important to her, to strengthen their bond. Peridot had immediately agreed to it, but almost gave up on the idea as soon as she realized where they were heading to.

Right now, though, she was at ease.

“Hey, pass me the pack bro,” Amethyst’s voice brought her back to reality and she flinched.

“Oh. Sure. Yeah.” Peridot grabbed the cigarettes carefully and tossed them into Amethyst’s hand. She watched carefully as Amethyst tried to lit one up. After a few tries she finally managed to get it right and breathed out a puff of smoke. Peridot stared intently, trying to capture the exact movements she would have to make.

“You okay, dude?” Amethyst asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Y-yeah, I’m great.”

“You’re doing that thing you do when you’re about to try something for the first time.”

“What thing?” Peridot tried to look casual as she sipped her beer.

“The thing where I can basically see the gears in your head turning cuz you’re making some very methodical calculations to get it right the first time.”

“I don’t do that,” Peridot did that literally every second of her life, and she knew it. But there was nothing she could do about it, it was just how her brain was wired. New experiences were always terrifying, and analyzing every possible detail made it easier to figure out what exactly could go wrong at a particular scenario – so when things inevitably failed, at least she wouldn’t be surprised by it. For a bartender, this was an excellent skill to have, and she wondered if her boss was keeping her on the job because of this particular trait.

“Sure. So, wanna try it?” Amethyst offered finally. Peridot hesitantly grabbed one together with the lighter. “Okay so as soon as you light it up, you suck in the smoke and then release it slowly. You’ll probably end up coughing, don’t sweat about this part.”

“…Right.” Peridot looked at the object and brought it to her mouth. Her sweaty hands were halting her progress, making her unable to work the lighter in her favor. “Stupid lighter.”

Amethyst compressed her now empty beer can and opened another with a smirk. “Hang in there, Per.”

“Why am I even suffering, there’s a literal camp fire over here.” She was about to light up the stubborn cigarette in the easiest way when Amethyst grabbed her arm.

“No, the lighter is all part of the experience, man! Do you think a camp fire will always be available to you in the streets? You gotta learn how to survive in the direst situations!”

“You do realize this will be the one and only time I will ever smoke, right?” Peridot knew that nicotine addiction didn’t work that way, but still felt a little uneasy about it. They could really use the money Amethyst spent on cigarettes every month on something more useful, and having another smoker in the house would really make their situation a lot harder.

“Still, no fire allowed.” Amethyst laid back down with a happy sigh. Peridot tried the lighter again, but still no success. She was about to give up when both heard a sound coming from one of the junk piles behind them.

“What was that?”

Amethyst sat back up quickly, ready to bail if somehow it ended up being the police. Peridot was about to bolt right there, her head already creating thousands of terrible consequences for their actions. She would have to pay for their release from jail, which meant less money for food, which meant Amethyst would have to live on without her cigarettes for at least a month, which meant headaches for both of them since the girl became insufferable if she went on without smoking for more than 5 hours. She really was not looking forward to a cranky Amethyst.

Soon they managed to see a silhouette climbing up a bunch of wooden boxes, using a cellphone lantern to guide them. As the person reached the top of the pile, she sat down and turned off the light.

“Oh, it’s just her.” Amethyst sighed relieved, sitting back down.

Her?” Peridot hissed. Cranky Amethyst crisis avoided, another concern popped up, “You said you were the only one who knew about that entrance!”

“Relax, it’s just my mystery companion. This girl sometimes comes here to chill and smoke up there too. We never talked, but it’s always nice to know you’re not the only crazy person who thinks this place is relaxing.”

Peridot looked over at the girl, unable to see anything in the darkness. Then her face quickly became visible through the orange glow of a cigarette she’d light up; the outline of her features very clear as she sucked in the smoke. It was a brief exposure, but Peridot was completely entranced by it. It lasted barely a second though, and then she was consumed by the night once again. After a few moments, the girl inhaled again. Each time the cigarette was brought back up and the girl breathed in, Peridot could make out new details on her face.

“Peri?” Amethyst’s voice sounded so far away.

“Blue.”

“Say what?”

“And some freckles, I think.”

Amethyst frowned and followed her best friend’s gaze just to land on the girl above them. For a few seconds there was just darkness, and then she sucked in the smoke again, lightning up her expression. “Ohhh.”

“Brief. Like a shooting star.”

Amethyst finished her beer with a smile as she heard the blonde rant about whatever she was seeing. Peridot did that a lot – trying to put images into abstract sentences. It was like pouring out her feelings into random strings of words that didn’t really make sense most times. Amethyst really appreciated that in her best friend. It was one of the things that made her so damn pleasing to be around.

“You should make a wish.” Amethyst teased.

“What?” This broke the spell, making Peridot blush at how intently she’d been watching the girl. “Shit, you think she saw me?”

“Probably. This is the only bright spot in this whole place, kinda hard to miss the both of us.”

Peri ran a hand through her hair and sighed. She’d had worse situations at the pub with beautiful girls, but this was a whole new level of nervousness for her. The mystery of the whole scenario made it exciting, and the fact that the girl was probably watching her make a fool out of herself added to the thrill. Shaking her head to get rid of weird thoughts, she grabbed her beer and gulped in all down in one go.

“Wow there, try to make it home in one piece, yeah?” Amethyst laughed.

“Some of us have self-control,” Peridot retorted, trying to focus again on the task of making the damn lighter work. She stopped for a second to look over her shoulder for the last time, and widened her eyes at the sight.

The girl had lit up her lighter and was holding it close to her face, staring straight down at Peridot. Her expression was difficult to figure out, but the soft curve upwards on her lips was apparent. Peridot froze with no idea of what to do, her brain working at full speed. Her eyes moved intently, trying to capture the beauty of the girl as fast as she could before it disappeared forever. Blue eyes, blue messy hair, definitely freckles, beautiful cheekbones, huge bags under her eyes, probably no makeup.

She looked like someone who would frequent her pub alone and leave past four without talking to anyone. Peridot was mesmerized.

By the time she figured out what to do, the girl had put down her lighter and was nowhere else to be seen.

“She’s gone,” Peridot mumbled. She looked down at her own lighter and noticed she’d stopped sweating. Pressing the lighter once, she managed to make it work on the first try. Bringing it close to the cigarette, she lit it up and breathed in. The smoke made its way into her lungs in seconds, but she didn’t cough at all. Peridot closed her eyes and puffed it out slowly and steady, immersing herself in the sensation of it all.

“Nice one,” She heard Amethyst say. “So? How does it taste?”

She opened her eyes and looked over at the pile of boxes above them. “Bad.” Then inhaled again. “…And like freedom.”

Chapter Text

The noise in the pub mixed with the foggy breaths of people dancing and just generally making out created an interesting atmosphere. Everywhere she looked there was something new happening, something unique to the people involved. To the left, the bar. Four teenagers laughed as a brave fifth took a bodyshot from one of the waitresses. A bearded man drank alone, occasionally chatting with someone who would try to approach him. Two girls held hands as they gulped down their fourth vodka shot. To the right, the dancefloor moved and vibrated together with the crowd. A DJ blasted indie music, which apparently was the theme for tonight’s party. Men kissed men, women kissed women, men and women kissed, people who were neither, people who were both. People.

Lapis sat in a table exactly in the middle, and just observed. People’s expressions told her a lot, and she made a hobby out of it – of watching people. It was fascinating trying to find a troubled soul in a place like this. She was sure there were more problems in that cramped space than she could possibly count, but still most of the people in there were smiling. When humans interacted, they could make each other’s problems go away for a while.

Lapis smiled at the thought, and finished her drink.

“Can I get you something else?” As she put the glass down, one of the waitresses approached her. “Beer, tequila, some company.”

Lapis smiled softly at that last suggestion. “Just another Blue Hawaiian, please.”

“Blue is kind of your thing, huh?” The waitress was short and stubby, her blonde hair messy from walking in and out of the crowd. She had been friendly with Lapis from the moment she got there.

“It’s a nice color,” She retorted, sitting up straight. “And the drink is delicious.”

“Thank Peridot for that. She’s the best bartender we’ve had in years,” The waitress grinned, picking up the empty cup and turning to leave. “And she likes to know everyone who comes here, too. I don’t think I’ve seen you around. Maybe you should say hi.”

Lapis shifted her gaze to the bar, spotting the girl from the night before in the junkyard. She’d been watching her from afar throughout the whole night, just enjoying all the facial expressions and movements the short bartender made. Obviously someone would pick up on that sooner or later. “Maybe I will.”

“Great! Tell Sadie sent you,” Sadie winked and Lapis was left alone again. She didn’t get up immediately; the song blasting from the speakers was way too loud for any kind of proper conversation. She didn’t want their encounter to be rushed, so Lapis just sat there tapping her feet to the beat. There was something special about the bartender, and Lapis wanted to know exactly what it was. It had been a while since she felt this absorbed by someone, and she wanted to make this last for as long as she could.

Looking forward to something was rare in Lapis’ life.

The song finally died down and changed to a slower one. Lapis got up, walking past the crowd carefully to avoid unnecessary touches and arrived at the bar. She sat down and waited. Peridot was serving some costumers on the other side of the bar, chatting with a cocky smirk as the red liquid poured from her jar. The couple she was talking to laughed at whatever she said and thanked her after their drinks were done. They were two beautifully done Bootsy Collins, and Lapis was honestly surprised by how fast yet perfectly she managed to prepare all those drinks to hundreds of people each night.

Peridot approached Lapis with a smile that died on her lips as soon as their eyes met. “It’s you!”

Lapis laughed at the blush in Peridot’s face as soon as she burst out the sentence. The fact that she actually covered her mouth with both hands just made it more endearing. “It’s me.”

“I’m sorry, I— What would you like to order?” Peridot tried another route, the one where she focused on work to stop herself from babbling.

“A Blue Hawaiian, please.”

Peridot nodded quickly and turned around to grab the ingredients. Lapis laid her head in one hand as she watched the bartender with a soft smile on her lips. Seeing Peridot working from up close was a whole new experience. She was so methodical with her work, as if everything had a very specific role. The way she held the bottles as she poured down the liquid, the way she just seemed to know exactly when to stop, the perfect measurements, the swiftness of her hands.

Lapis wondered if her hands were this good when it came to other things, too.

It didn’t take very long and her cocktail was ready. “Here you go, miss…”

“Lapis.” She grabbed her drink. “Sadie asked me say hi.”

“Sadie— Of course she did.” Peridot shot a glare to the other side of the room where Sadie apparently was waiting to see how things were going. Once their eyes crossed, she just gave Peridot a thumbs up. Lapis chuckled.

“I was about to come, anyway.”

“Well, as long as she didn’t unnecessarily bother you. Wait a sec,” Peridot turned to fill a glass with beer and handed it to a man on the other side of the counter. She came back with two other empty cups. “Anyway. Hi!”

Peridot immediately cringed internally. Hi?!

“Hey,” Lapis returned the greeting and they stood in silence awkwardly for a few seconds until someone asked for another drink.

“Be right back.” Peridot excused herself.

“Don’t mind me,” She placed the straw on her lips and resumed drinking. As soon as Peridot turned around, she followed her with her eyes. Lapis wasn’t one to mindlessly stare at people for more than necessary, but everything Peridot did was exciting in its own way. She felt the beat of the new song resonating through her body and wondered if the adrenaline of the heavy bass mixed with having to run around the huge bar for hours was enough to get someone high. Seeing as how Peridot was precise with everything she did, it probably wasn’t.

Throughout the night Lapis and Peridot talked in quick intervals. The bartender would ask a question and receive the answer a few moments later when she was done with another cocktail. Lapis liked this dynamic between them. The fast-paced dialogue provided some sort of excitement from both parts and Lapis felt herself craving the girl more and more as she left in bigger intervals.

“Is this your first time here?”

4 shots of tequila.

“Yes.”

One Mojito.

“What brings you here tonight?”

Two Margaritas.

“I was in the neighborhood.”

One Cosmopolitan.

“So you’re not from around the block?”

Three beers.

“You could say that.”

Three shots of tequila.

“It’s past three, what made you stay?”

One Bloody Mary.

“I saw you.”

Peridot almost tripped on her way to deliver a Martini. “So you did recognize me from yesterday.”

“Well, you were staring at me for a long time,” Lapis teased with a smirk and Peridot smiled apologetically as some costumers started shouting her name in a very drunk way.

“Shit, I’ll be right back,” She paused and stepped back for a bit. “Um, don’t leave.”

“I won’t.” Lapis promised.

Apparently the girls yelling were long-date clients and it was the birthday of one of them. Peridot called for Sadie who just gave her another thumbs up. It took a few minutes for the girls to stop hugging and kissing Peridot’s cheeks and soon a cake emerged from the kitchen. The birthday girl immediately got up and started clapping her hands, and then a drunken chorus of Happy Birthday to You could be heard across the entire bar. Even the DJ toned down the music for the particular event.

Lapis looked around the place, basking in the feeling of suddenly having everyone in there coming together for some stranger’s sake. Maybe they knew the girl, maybe they didn’t. And still, not a single person didn’t sing their lungs out. Lapis felt herself clapping along as well, happy for the girl who would probably not remember any of that the next day.

As soon as the song ended, everyone snapped out of it and returned to their own entertainment. The girls hugged and thanked Sadie and Peridot for the surprise, and on a whim the birthday girl landed a soft peck in Peridot’s lips. The bartender was apparently used to this sort of behavior and simply laughed. She returned to Lapis moments later.

“Sorry about that,” She scratched the back of her neck.

“About what?”

“Um, the—” Peridot stopped, wondering if apologizing for the kiss would be weird. It probably would, since it was not like they were dating or anything. “Leaving.”

“The kiss.” Lapis corrected her.

Peridot sighed. Apparently this girl had the power to see right through her, like Amethyst. “…Yeah, that too.”

Lapis could only giggle. “Why would you need to apologize for that?”

Someone asked for a shot of tequila on the left side of the bar and Peridot excused herself, relieved for the interruption. Even with the extra time to think of a decent reply, she came back with none. “…I don’t really know. Felt like the right thing to say.”

The blue-haired girl blinked at that, surprised by the honesty in the bartender’s words. Everything about that girl seemed genuine, from her concentration to do a good job, to the answers to tricky questions. In a place like this, where she had to probably deal with drunk people all the time, it was a very intriguing trait.

Lapis noticed far too late that she had been reeled in by this girl who hadn’t even tried.

“You’re kinda great, you know that?” Lapis mumbled, their eyes meeting.

“What?” Despite the bass, Peridot could feel her heart skipping a beat.

“Felt like the right thing to say,” She repeated Peridot’s words with a soft smile. Both girls stood unmoving for a few seconds, and it took a waitress’s poke on Peridot’s ribs to get her to listen to one of the costumers asking for a Margarita.

“C-coming right up!” Peridot shook her head to get out of her trance, and when she looked back at Lapis, she saw her in a whole new light. “Stay here.” She stammered and hurried up to prepare the drink. The blue-haired girl nodded and finished her cocktail, feeling a bit lightheaded from the drink. If she was having problems tearing her gaze away from the bartender before, right now it was impossible. All she could see was Peridot. That one part of her brain that always tried to ruin everything told her that if the roof was about to collapse now, this wouldn’t be a bad last view. Lapis for once agreed.

The blonde slid over back to her with a sheet of paper and a pen. “Listen, I’d really like to talk to you for more than fifteen seconds without an interruption, so if you feel the same way would you write down your phone so we could meet up at some point?” Peridot was sure she’d never said anything so corny and so fast in her entire life.

It took Lapis a second to snap out of it and grab the pen. Maybe she was a bit drunker than she previously thought. “Definitely. Yeah.” She wrote down the number and double-checked it. “Here.”

Peridot folded it and put it inside her shirt, making Lapis smirk. “It’s the safest place.”

“I bet it is.”

Another interruption, and Lapis was alone again. She knew something was brewing, and it was probably dangerous considering all things, but maybe a little distraction from the world wasn’t so bad. It had been a long time.

The night passed by and they kept talking in intervals, and soon the bar began to clear out. It was five in the morning when Sadie came out of the kitchen just to see Peridot leaning on the balcony and talking excitedly with the blue-haired girl from before. She put both hands on her hips and grinned. “Hey, love birds! We’re closing in an hour.”

Peridot flipped her off and Sadie laughed out loud. Lapis straightened her back and looked around. “Oh, it is late.”

“We still have an hour,” Peridot said, then caught her tongue. “I mean, I still have an hour. You’re always free to leave whenever.”

Lapis chuckled, completely endeared by how the words just fell out of her mouth. She looked at her phone to check what time it was and sighed. “I should probably go, actually.”

Peridot dropped her shoulders at that, but nodded. “Of course,” Then she got back up and paused. “Um, can I escort you out?”

Lapis smiled. “I thought you’d never ask.”

The bartender smirked and jumped the counter. “Hey Sadie! Hold down the fort for me, I’ll be right back!”

“If you take more than ten minutes I’m giving everyone else left free shots!” Sadie made a point to yell the last part very loudly, and the twenty people remaining started to cheer.

“No you’re not!” Peridot replied, and both started walking. There was no Sun yet outside, and the streetlights created a path that seemed to stretch to infinity. Peridot briefly wondered where exactly Lapis was from, and if she needed a ride somewhere, but decided that this would be too much for a first encounter.

Lapis grabbed a cigarette from the inside of her jacket and offered one to Peridot.

“Oh, um. I don’t really smoke.”

“Really? What was that on the junkyard, then?” Lapis mumbled as she lit it up.

“I was just accompanying my friend. Thought I’d try one for the first time,” Peridot stuffed her hands in her pockets, casually trying not to stare so blatantly. The orange glow coming from her cigarette was the same one from the night before – the one that allowed Peridot to recognize Lapis’ face in the first place. Seeing it now up close was even more mesmerizing.

“I see,” Lapis puffed out a cloud of smoke. “And what did you think?”

“Of smoking?”

“Of the new experience.”

Peridot smiled at that. For some reason this told her that they were on the same page when it came to certain things, and she was glad to have found someone like that to talk to. “It was nice.”

Lapis removed the cigarette from her mouth. “I hope you didn’t hate the taste.”

“Why—”

Suddenly Lapis’ lips were very close to her own and she nudged them gently with her thumb, urging Peridot to open them slightly. She complied without a second thought, and felt a soft puff of smoke invading her mouth. Her eyelids fluttered as Lapis breathed out into her, ever so slowly. Once she was all out of breath, Lapis’ lips covered Peridot’s and the blonde instinctively closed her eyes.

They were softer than she could ever have anticipated coming from someone who looked so raw. There was a certain beauty to Lapis that Peridot had been trying to put into words for a while, but couldn’t. Maybe that was the beauty in it all.

Feeling a tongue making its way to her lower lip, Peridot opened her mouth and tangled her fingers on the hairs at the back of Lapis’ head. The taller girl moved one of her arms to Peridot’s lower back, but instead of holding her close, she guided the blonde’s free hand to her own waist. Peridot caught the hint and pulled their bodies together as their tongues touched. It tasted like cigarettes and alcohol – a taste that she was very familiar with, but that had never been so damn good. They kissed until what seemed like literally forever and Lapis finally pulled back.

“I should go,” She whispered faintly against Peridot’s lips.

“Yeah,” Was all she could say. Her head was spinning and she felt cold once she had to let go of the girl. “Okay.”

“Goodnight, Peridot.” Lapis waved goodbye and turned around.

“Bye.” The blonde watched Lapis walk away until she vanished in the distance, and then finally touched her back on the stone walls of the pub. She looked up, trying to make sense of everything that had happened that night, but gave up trying. Her head was a havoc and her lungs were out of air, so she returned inside.

As she walked in, all the 20 people left were waiting for her with a smile in their faces and shots in their hands. “What the—”

“Took you long enough!” One of the men said, and everyone laughed as they finally gulped down their drinks. Peridot only stared at Sadie, who shrugged.

“Fifteen minutes, chief.”

Peridot rolled her eyes, and elbowed Sadie’s ribs, who just laughed louder. The noises in the bar were toned down by her own thoughts as she licked her lips and tasted the last of Lapis. There was only one thing rolling in her mind besides the little folded paper inside her bra, and she smiled softly, running a hand through her hair.

It really does taste like freedom.

Chapter Text

It was 8am when Lapis got home.

She opened her apartment’s door carefully so it wouldn’t make a lot of noise and placed her keys on the table in the corner. Walking past the living room, she got to the kitchen and halted when she saw the little boy eating pancakes.

“Lapis, you’re back!” He greeted her cheerfully with a mouthful.

“H-hey Steven,” In a flash, she zipped her jacket all the way up to her chin. “What are you doing up so early?” Lapis made her way to the coffee machine, hoping that he hadn’t seen anything and desperately needing caffeine in her system despite being exhausted.

“I woke up and you weren’t here, so I decided to wait. Look, I made us some pancakes with jam! I didn’t know we had these,” Steven grabbed a pot of raspberry jam and turned in his hand, trying to figure out where it came from, but with no success. Lapis stared at the product and sighed.

“It got delivered to us.”

“Delivered? Oh…” When he realized what that meant, he placed it down again, not really in the mood for the pancakes anymore. “I’m sorry, Lapis. Maybe we should just have some eggs and bacon for breakfast.”

She pressed the button on the coffee machine and inhaled the scent of the beverage contently. “Don’t worry about it, Steven. You already went through all the trouble, and they look delicious. Let me have some.”

“But…”

Lapis walked up to him and placed a gentle hand on his hair. “It’s fine, really.” She ruffled his curly locks with a tired smile and went back for the coffee. The boy hesitantly nodded and served her a plate. Lapis sat down after a few sips and finally felt relaxed. “So what are your plans for today?”

Steven’s smile returned to his face and Lapis was glad. That kid was one of the biggest things that grounded her, and she couldn’t bear to see him unhappy because of something that was indirectly her fault. “I’m having lunch later with Connie by the river! She said there is an awesome hot dog cart near the riverbank, and that it’s not illegal to eat in the grass! Well, as long as we clean up the trash, I mean.”

She listened as he excitedly told her all the little details of his day and drank the coffee slowly. Images of last night started popping up in her head as Steven rattled and Lapis licked her lips, remembering the kiss at the pub. It was nothing like she’d ever experienced in a long time, and honestly she wasn’t sure what’d gotten into her to do that in the first place. Maybe she was testing Peridot in a way, to see if she wouldn’t run away as soon as she did something unpredictable. This had become a stupid habit of hers when it came to interacting with someone new, and she knew why. There were not many people who reacted positively to it, but apparently Peridot was already used to sudden displays of affection. She did get kissed by a drunk costumer, after all.

It was when Lapis remembered something she did unconsciously to the bartender that she felt a bit nauseous. She had reached for Peridot’s arm and guided it to her waist, inciting the blonde to take the lead and hold her. Lapis was a bit drunk during the kiss and cursed mentally for doing it back then. She should’ve known her unconscious was still messed up.

And then after all of that, she still had to go and take more from somewhere else. That’s all she ever did; take, and take, and take. The pulsating pain on her neck didn’t allow her to forget.

“…And then we were going to play tennis too, but I’m not sure her living room is the safest spot to place a net. Lapis?” Steven’s voice caught her attention and she looked over at the boy. She didn’t know what pushed her to say it, but she did anyway.

“I met someone.”

Steven’s eyes glowed. “Someone? Like, a good someone?”

She couldn’t blame him for thinking like this all things considered, so she just nodded. “Yeah, a good someone.”

The boy’s face cracked into a huge smile as he started jumping up and down. “Oh! Oh! Tell me!”

“She’s a bartender,” It was weird for Lapis to talk about something like this to Steven, but she knew he was more mature than he looked. It was just uncomfortable for her to open up about most things, but she had been pushing herself to do it with Steven. He had been supporting her for the longest time and there was no one else she trusted more with her messed up life than this boy. “Um. Short and blonde. Wears glasses.”

Steven just nodded, happily.

“Talks fast sometimes. One of her ears is pierced all the way.”

She took another sip of the cup and kept quiet for a moment.

“Are you… going to meet again?”

Lapis faintly remembered scribbling down her phone number in a sheet of paper and bit the inside of her cheek. “We might.”

“That’s great, Lapis,” He smiled softly, not wanting to push her any more than necessary. She was grateful for that, even knowing that he was probably waiting to hear something about Peridot’s personality instead of what she looked like. But she just didn’t have the energy for that yet.

Lapis finished her cup of coffee in silence and after chatting a bit more, got up. “I’m a bit tired, Steven, so I’m going to bed.” She placed the mug on the sink and yawned. “Have a great day with Connie.”

“Alright. Sleep well!” Steven got up to do the dishes while humming a song and stopped after catching a glimpse of Lapis’ plate. He sighed, a bit worried about the untouched food, but threw it in the garbage anyway.


 

It was 7am when Peridot got home.

She slammed the door open. “I need to rant, bear with me.”

Amethyst’s limp body groaned as she covered her head from the luminosity of the hallway. “Fuckin’ hell.”

Peridot took off her shoes and pants and plopped down on the mattress next to her best friend. The bed jumped up and down at the action and Amethyst mumbled louder curses, curling even more into herself.

“I met your mysterious companion from the junkyard and she’s amazing,” Peridot started, staring up at the ceiling as her brain tried to form cohesive phrases. “Like, really amazing? In a way you wouldn’t be able to describe unless you were there. Which you weren’t, because you were sleeping.”

The other girl tried to kick Peridot out of the bed, but the bartender grabbed her leg. “And I got her number in the corniest way and I wasn’t even drunk, but she might’ve been because she was staring at me a lot. You know, kinda like how I was staring at her in the junkyard.”

Amethyst’s leg was now a prisoner of Peridot’s vicious grip, and she tried to shake it off.

“And everything flowed so well. Like when you’re meant to meet someone, but fate delays the process, and when you finally do get to meet it’s like that one comma you were forgetting while programming suddenly appears out of nowhere and the software just works.”

Finally freeing her leg, Amethyst tried to push her off with her arm. Peridot pushed it back and they struggled for a while in between the sheets. “It was weird how we met, too. Back at the junkyard I could only see her for brief periods of time through her cigarette light, and today we could only talk in between quick intervals. And it was a bit frustrating because I kind of want to know her on her entirety. Is this creepy?”

Get the fuck out of my bed,” Amethyst mumbled drowned into her pillow.

“But maybe we’re not meant to sit down and talk calmly,” Peridot avoided a punch aiming straight to her jaw. “I feel like it has to be this way, always rushed and untamed. Like glimpses of an unpolished beauty in your life that makes you want to see more every time, because it’s just not enough. And maybe she doesn’t want it to ever be enough.”

Please shut the fuck up.” Too tired to try to push Peridot anymore, Amethyst turned around and covered her ears.

“Then she kissed me on the way out and the cigarette tasted differently, but the same, in a way. She’s just so…” Peridot sighed, angry at herself for not being able to come up with the right word. “Daytime doesn’t suit her, you know? Neither does a café, or a walk in the park, or an afternoon at the museum. Not that she doesn’t look intelligent or anything. She’s more like…”

Her hands started moving in some kind of desperate motion, as if an invisible orchestra was begging to be conducted. “When the Sun is setting and the first streetlights start working. An evening stroll to buy a pack of cigarettes in this one beat up store on the street corner that she’s been going for years now. Staring at the horizon on the bridge, as the yellow lights cover her skin. Looking down at the river and puffing out smoke. Then it’s dark, but the lights guide her wherever…”

Peridot trailed off in a sigh and looked sideways to catch Amethyst snoring. There were still so many things she wanted to say, but the exhaustion of her work finally hit her hard and she started dozing off as well. Getting under the covers, she turned her back to her friend and whispered.

“I get the junkyard, now.”

Then her eyes fluttered shut.


 

A faint ringtone made Lapis stir on her bed, and when it got louder, she groaned and lifted her naked torso to grab it from the shelf. The strong light from the screen made her moan in pain and she buried her head on the pillow again. After a while adjusting her eyes, she managed to see it was an unknown number calling at 4pm. Lapis was about to throw the damn thing across the room when she remembered it was probably Peridot. With a sigh, she sat up and ruffled her hair before picking it up. “Hello?”

“Shit, I woke you up didn’t I?” Then a pause. “It’s Peridot, by the way. The bartender from last night.”

“I know who you are,” Lapis chuckled in a hoarse voice. “And I had to get up anyway.”

“I can call later, if you want.”

“No, no—” Lapis stretched her muscles and a tinge of pain hit her neck hard. “Fuck.

“You okay?” Peridot sounded concerned.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Lapis massaged the pulsating spot as she talked quickly. “Hit my toe on the bed, is all. Forgot to open the curtains and it’s all dark.”

Peridot’s small giggle was adorable from the other side of the line. “Didn’t take you for a clumsy one.”

“Hey, I just woke up,” Lapis got up and made her way to the bathroom to assess the damage on her skin. “Are you telling me you always wake up with perfectly clear bearings?”

“You’re talking to a professional here, remember?” Something on Peridot’s phone made a creaking noise and Lapis smirked.

“Right,” She frowned at the huge purple spot that marked the left side of her neck all the way down to her shoulder. “But something tells me you’re not exactly completely awake, either.”

There was a short silence, followed by another soft squeak. “…How would you guess?”

“There’s a noise going on in the background, it kinda looks like a squeaky bed.” Rolling her eyes at the stupid hickey, she put her phone on speaker and placed it down on the sink.

“You’re good,” Peridot admitted. “Alright, maybe I did wake up just ten minutes ago.”

“Touché.” Lapis opened the bathroom cabinet and searched for a lost foundation she kept hidden for situations like this. Finding it, she opened the pot and started applying it carefully on the sensitive skin. “And your first thought was to call me?”

“Um. Yes, actually,” Peridot’s honesty was still incredible. “I forgot to take off my bra before collapsing and it bugged me as I woke up. And then I remembered the paper inside the bra with your number in it, so I decided to call.”

Lapis laughed at that and accidentally sprawled make up on her chin. “Okay. Now what?”

“I— calling was all I had planned out, to be honest.” She sounded nervous for the first time since the call started. “Which is not like me at all. I usually have a plan.”

“I could tell,” Lapis wiped off the foundation from her chin. “Everything you do seems to be very thought through.”

“It is,” Peridot moved and the bed squeaked again. “Say, ever rode on the back of a bike?”

The question was so random that it caught Lapis off guard. She stopped her actions midair and smiled, intrigued. “No?”

“Want to?”

She knew she should’ve thought this through for at least more than a millisecond before spilling, “Yeah.” Then she froze. “Uh, when?”

“Tonight. I don’t work on Sundays,” Peridot apparently noticed she was hesitant about the date and added, “Or maybe next week?”

Lapis looked at her neck and realized that the mark was too big for the foundation to hide properly. She cursed every single deity for her stupid decisions at 6am and sighed softly outside the phone’s radius. “Next week.”

“Alright! We can meet at the pub after dinner.” Peridot’s excitement apparently made her jump up and down on the bed, since the noises were more frequent.

Lapis couldn’t help to smirk at the mentioned hour. “After dinner? So no romantic dinner date?”

“We could, but I don’t think you’d want that,” She quieted down for a second. “I mean, I could be completely wrong.”

Lapis grabbed the phone and returned to her room, opening the curtains. The silence that followed wasn’t because Peridot had offended her in any way, but because of how put off she was by the fact that this girl was able to read her completely. She was different, exactly like Lapis had imagined, but it hadn’t struck her exactly how different until that sentence.

“You’re not. Just the ride sounds great,” Lapis sat on her bed and tentatively asked, “Are we heading somewhere specific?” Somehow, she was afraid the answer would be yes.

And still, she wasn’t surprised when the answer was no.

Chapter Text

4:35pm

“So you asked your girlfriend on a motorcycle date and you plan on taking her for a ride on this thing?” Amethyst’s amused voice reverberated through the parking lot where Peridot’s old Vespa was parked on.

“A, she’s not my girlfriend, B,” Peridot tapped the vehicle gently on the rear just to check how bad the situation was. When the metal shook, she knew she was in trouble. “You said you would help, so stop shoving my bad decisions in my face and be useful.”

Amethyst snorted and walked around the Vespa, assessing the damage. “How old is this thing?”

“Six years…?”

“Holy shit. What were you thinking? This thing can’t hold two people, it can barely take you to work without falling to pieces!” She took her cellphone from her back pocket and flipped it open. “Luckily for you, I know a guy who lives in a van and knows his stuff.”

Peridot rolled her eyes, but sincerely hoped Amethyst was being serious. When she opened her mouth to offer Lapis the ride the day before, she wasn’t thinking straight. It was like her judgement got clouded whenever it came to thinking about the girl, which was terrifying for someone who always had to analyze situations meticulously before making a decision. This was completely new territory to Peridot, and she was trying to make sense of this whole experience, but it just felt right with Lapis – not thinking about things and just doing them. She wondered if it was a good thing, that this woman had this effect on her.

“Hello?” Amethyst’s voice suddenly went quiet on the phone, and she became serious. “Is this Gregory Universe?”

“This cannot be his real name.” Peridot mumbled and Amethyst signalized her to be quiet.

“Yes, this is Denise from the collection agency.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake—”

“It has come to our attention that there are a few debts in your name written down in our system, and I was wondering—” Amethyst burst in a laugh suddenly, and Peridot rolled her eyes. She was not taking this seriously at all. “I’m joking, Greg, don’t hang up! It’s Amethyst, you old fart!”

The bartender was this close to kicking Amethyst’s ass, and she would if this mechanic decided to quit after that prank. She had less than a week to reform the old scooter in a way that would look presentable to Lapis, and she couldn’t afford to pay much for it. Amethyst usually saved her neck when it came to find cheap labor, since she seemed to pretty much know everyone in town to some extent.

And still, the girl mysteriously wasn’t able to find a job after all these months since she’d been kicked out of her last one. If she knew that many people, someone surely would be willing to help her out, but apparently not. Peridot wondered if Amethyst had done something bad on her latest job and wasn’t telling her.

“Yeah, a six-year old Vespa,” They were still talking as Amethyst paced back and forth on the parking lot, opening and closing her lighter. It was a habit she couldn’t seem to break. “Uh, yellow? All beaten up, makes weird noises when turned on.” She covered the phone’s speaker and winked back to Peridot. “Kinda like you.”

“Wha— Shut up!” She blushed and shoved her friend with her shoulder. Amethyst laughed out loud and turned her attention back to the phone.

“Hang on,” She looked back to Peridot. “You know this thing’s model?”

“1965, SS 180.”

Amethyst repeated that and waited for verdict. Then her face fell. “Uh-oh.”

Uh-oh? Uh-oh is bad,” Peridot’s chest compressed and millions of thoughts passed through her mind in a flash. There was no way to restore her treasured Vespa since it was too old, and since it was too old she wouldn’t be able to sell it because no one would ever want to buy it, therefore there would be no way of making extra cash for them in case Peridot got fired from her job, and Amethyst would have to quit smoking until they figured out a new source of income that allowed both of them to live under a roof, which would once again result in cranky Amethyst.

And also there would be no ride with Lapis, which sucked, but not as much as being homeless.

“Alright, well, give it a look anyway.” Amethyst’s voice brought her back to reality. “Yeah, we’re going right away. Okay. Thanks, man.”

“What is uh-oh??” Peridot yelled before Amethyst could even hang up properly.

“Calm down!” She held her friend by the shoulders, which she knew calmed her down in some situations. It made Peridot feel grounded. “Your scooter is too old and no one produces parts for it anymore. But Greg has this huge warehouse that might have something that could replace them. We just gotta take your baby there and we’ll see. Sounds good?”

Amethyst’s calming and reasonable voice was reserved just for her, and Peridot was so thankful for it. In situations where her anxiety got out of control, her best friend was always there to put her back on track again. It was weird how different Amethyst acted around her in serious situations, but a good weird. Peridot realized she never thanked her best friend enough for the things she had to put with for her.

She took deep breaths and calmed herself down, pushing the thoughts away and nodding firmly. “Yeah. Let’s go.”

“That’s the spirit!” With a strong slap on Peri’s back, Amethyst walked over to the Vespa. “Oh, wait. If I get on this, it’ll break apart before we even reach the shop. Guess we’re walkin’!”

“Is it far?” Peridot knew the answer was yes.

“Uh, define far.”

“I’ll put on some sneakers.” She turned around with an exasperated sigh, but stopped midway. “Oh, and… thanks.”

Amethyst tilted her head, confused, but wasn’t able to ask why as Peridot left in quick steps.


5:47pm

It took an hour.

“Did you know,” Amethyst had purchased a bag of chips on the way and was now talking with her mouthful. “That walking under the Sun… is good for your health? Vitamin D.”

“I will program… your alarm clock to go off at six in the morning every day… and make it so you won’t ever be able… to turn it off,” Peridot tried to speak in between intakes of air while pushing the Vespa slowly. Both girls were climbing what apparently was an entire mountain covered in concrete, just to get to the shop at the peak. There was no way this man had clients who were willing to go hiking for the sake of their vehicles. There had to be better options in town than this torture.

“I’m serious, though,” Despite also being breathing heavily and sweating like a fountain, Amethyst’s smirk never left her face. “There’s this research… from this professor guy, who says… that, like, 95% of our vitamin D… comes from the Sun. You like numbers, tell me how high is 95%. That’s right, hella fucking high.”

“Is this revenge… for my ranting on your bed?”

“I’m glad I made that clear.”

The ground finally got even again and both girls collapsed in a bench that was definitely located there for this very purpose. “Okay, new plan… next time we get a fucking taxi.”

“Agreed.” Peridot couldn’t care less about saving money for that; sometimes a taxi was necessary for survival.

“Look at the bright side… we made it!” Amethyst looked over at the shop, but all Peridot could focus on was the van parked in front.

“Wait. Does he actually live in a van?”

“You calling me a liar?”

She shook her head and got up. “Come on, time is precious.”

The shop and the warehouse were the same, seeing as the place was huge. The sign said “Mr. Universe” and nothing else, which didn’t really convey what the place was if you read it from far away. On the inside, huge shelfs that reached the ceiling and wooden boxes containing a variety of car and motorcycle parts were everywhere. The place looked cramped and dark, even with the lights turned on. The illumination was far too dim, and some of the lamps were out completely. Despite the dusty and disorganized appearance of the place, Peridot had to admit it was an impressive collection of mechanical gadgets.

They looked around, but there was no one to be seen. Peridot was afraid that they’d taken too long. “Maybe he’s out for lunch.”

“Nah, I know where he is,” Amethyst got out of the warehouse and walked over to the van. She took a deep breath and knocked loudly. “YO, GREG! QUIT WATCHING LIL’ BUTLER AND GET OVER HERE!”

The van’s door opened immediately and a bearded man rolled out of it. The top of his head was bald, but the rest of his hair was long and silky. Peridot had no idea how this was even possible, but she was in no position to judge.

“I was not!” Greg yelled back, disoriented for a minute. “Oh, hey Amethyst. You got here pretty quickly.”

“We took an hour, dude.”

“Oh.” He scratched the back of his head with an embarrassed smile. “Alright, maybe I was watching a few episodes.”

“This show is a curse, Greg, get rid of it,” Amethyst pulled him into a hug and both friends laughed. “Nice seeing ya. How’s the kid?”

“Oh, Steven’s fine. He’s been living with a friend and hanging out with Connie for the most part. I asked him if he didn’t want to come back home, but he said he’s needed there for some reason.” Greg stretched his sore back, and they cracked. “So for now, I’m renting the place and came back here! Van, sweet van.”

“Cool,” Amethyst reached for Peridot and put an arm around her. “So this is the relative, and that,” She pointed to the Vespa all the way inside the shop. “Is the patient.”

“Peridot.” The blonde fought her way out of Amethyst’s grip. “Nice to meet you, sir.”

“Please, Greg is fine. Sir makes me feel older than I already am,” Greg shook her hand earnestly and Peridot felt that he was a good man. All the worries of leaving her only means of transportation in the hands of this guy were slowly vanishing. “Now let’s take a look at this SS 180!”

The trio moved back to the warehouse and after a few technical analysis and a couple of hours searching for spare parts in the hundreds of boxes, they finally got to a solution.

“I guess these will do fine. It’s not gonna be exactly like it was before, but it will feel more powerful. And it definitely won’t shake anymore when you give someone a ride,” Greg announced proudly at the parts he managed to sort out and place on the floor next to the Vespa.

“Told you he was the man,” Amethyst whispered, but Peridot had other concerns.

“Will it be ready until Sunday?”

“Oh, definitely. I can deliver her to you on Friday, tops! You’ll have the pleasure of riding down the hill as you leave with the new motor I’m installing. It will feel like riding the wind,” The man confirmed with a thumbs up, and Peridot sighed relieved.

“And about the price…” She still had this to consider, but Amethyst interrupted her with a hand on her shoulder.

“One step at a time, eh? Mr. Universe here will do us a generous price, so you just relax and worry about what you’ll be wearing on your weird motor date.”

Peridot wanted to argue that the price was important to be discussed now, but Greg guaranteed that it was not going to be anything that she couldn’t afford. With not much power to continue the conversation, she thanked him for the generosity, and both girls left. It was the beginning of the evening as they stepped out of the shop, which meant Peridot didn’t have much time until her shift at the pub.

“Let’s just get a taxi, I don’t have the energy to walk all the way back.”

The other girl agreed and they made their way downhill in a comfortable silence. That’s when it came to Peridot’s mind. “How did you two meet anyway? I mean, he’s way older than you.”

“You saying I can’t have friends if I’m not sleeping with them?”

“Yes, those are the exact words that came out of my mouth,” Peridot elbowed her friend on the ribs and Amethyst just chortled.

“I stumbled into him one day at the video store. You know, that really old one next to the park? Which still sells VHS tapes?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Old stores attract old people.” Amethyst took a cigarette from her pocket and lit it up. “He was there renting every single season of Lil’ Butler – which is my favorite TV show – so I just had to talk to this guy. And so I did, and we ended up chatting for hours. Then he invited me over for a Lil’ Butler rewatch session and that’s how I met his son.”

“You went to a stranger’s house because he watched the same TV show as you??” To say Peridot was shocked wasn’t enough. She knew Amethyst was impulsive, but that was ridiculous, even for her. “Are you nuts?! When you get yourself killed don’t expect me to show up at your funeral.”

“Bullshit you won’t,” The girl smiled as she puffed out a cloud of smoke. “You’ll be there just to say ‘I told you so’, and then you’ll lower me into my grave, just so you can let me down one last time.”

Peridot punched her best friend on the shoulder hard, and Amethyst started laughing and running all the way downhill. The blonde followed her with more punches ready for her stupid face, but failed in hiding a smile.

The day had turned out okay, after all.


7:39pm

The last rays of the setting Sun leaked through the white curtains, giving a soothing look to the room. The window was opened, making the white fabric covering the glass float back and forth slowly and serene. Despite the gentle atmosphere of the place, the two people inside were feeling the complete opposite.

Lapis’ was sitting on one side of the bed, with her back turned to the other person lying in it. She was holding the sheets close to her front, in a pathetic attempt to cover her naked body. The other woman had her strong back turned from Lapis’ figure as well, not really feeling like getting up yet.

“I met someone,” For the second time that week, Lapis spilled out these words. She still couldn’t figure out why, and specially why to her.

“…Oh,” The voice was raspy, but not from sleep. “And?”

“Thought you should know.”

The person sighed and shifted her body so she was looking up to the ceiling fan. “You don’t need to tell me who you hang out with, you know.”

Lapis knew, but still always did it. She didn’t have an answer to that, so the just shrugged.

“…Did you kiss?” The woman asked.

“You just told me I didn’t need to tell you anything.”

“You’re the one who brought it up!” She sounded frustrated, and Lapis flinched at the louder tone. The woman breathed in, calming down, then lifted her muscular torso from the bed. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

She scoffed. “Right.” An awkward silence passed by, and the sound of cars beneath the city became louder. An ambulance made its way through the street, causing the traffic to get worse, and people started honking. “So… What about this person made you want to bring it up?”

Lapis knew the answer, but she felt like the explanation was reserved just for Peridot and herself. She didn’t want to share what she felt with the bartender with anyone else, but she was afraid this thing was too big for her to hold on her own. Also, her head still forced her to think she owned the woman an explanation for everything she did.

“She’s just… different.” So she settled for that, which wasn’t a lie.

“Different good, or different bad?” It was a bit ironic that she would ask her what Steven had asked her a day ago. Both these people were the complete opposite of each other, and cared for Lapis in two completely different ways. Steven always worried about Lapis’ happiness and tried to help in any shape or form, even if he didn’t know all of the details. He trusted her and loved her unconditionally.

Jasper cared for Lapis because anything she did was tied to her as well. There was an element of selfishness in it.

“Good,” Lapis decided that she didn’t want to be there anymore and got up. “I should probably leave.”

Jasper’s gaze followed her as she put on her clothes. “Suit yourself.”

Lapis paused midway, changing her mind. “Can I take a shower first?”

“Go for it,” Jasper got up as well and yawned, stretching her aching muscles from their activities from before. It hadn’t been as intense as it normally was, but her huge body always cramped up in some specific positions. Then she snapped her eyes open. “Wait!”

Lapis paused and turned to her.

“Don’t use the shampoo.”

“Why?” She whined. Her hair could really use some cleaning.

“…It got delivered to me.”

The words made Lapis’ stomach turn, and she nodded in understanding. “…Okay.”

Then she closed the bathroom door, and turned the shower on, hoping that the water would wash away all the dirt stuck on her body and mind. But as she looked up and saw the shampoo, she knew it would take more than water to make that go away.

Chapter Text

That had to be the slowest week in Peridot’s entire life. She thought that after making sure her scooter was in good hands, everything else would flow smoothly till Sunday. How wrong she was.

“You look distracted today, honey, something happened?” One of her costumers sitting at the counter yelled to get her voice across from the blasting sound of the dancefloor. Peridot finished serving her mojito and shook her head.

“Just anxious about the future, Jenny.” She responded with a crooked smile.

“We may not always know what the future holds,” One of the boys accompanying her butted in, hugging Jenny from behind and placing his head on top of hers. “But one thing’s for certain...”

“And what’s that, Sour Cream?” Jenny asked, leaning completely on him as she drank.

“My future always holds tequila.” He finished, pointing to Peridot. The bartender had to laugh at that and excused herself to grab his shot and be alone with her own thoughts for a bit. She briefly wondered why Lapis hadn’t showed up at the pub again after their first encounter. Maybe she was placing all of her expectations on that one ride towards nowhere, which was honestly the thing making Peridot the most nervous. So many things could go wrong.

Her Vespa could break down anyway because Greg wasn’t able to patch it up properly, Lapis could feel bored in the middle of the ride, there could be traffic preventing them from having a pleasant night, she could run out of topics for conversations, which would make Peridot rant nervously and talk nonsense like she usually did, which was fine to do in front of her friends because they knew her, but Lapis would think she was a weirdo and then they would say goodbye never to speak again and she would feel terrible for the rest of her life.

Peridot cursed herself for speaking without thinking for the 100th time that week.

But then again, maybe she didn’t have to think about it. Wasn’t this the whole point? Amethyst had to go through an entire monologue about how much freedom Peridot felt with Lapis that night, and now she was backing up on her own word. She was starting to think of Lapis as someone who would think like her past dates, when she was nothing like that. Lapis was different. She knew that for certain.

But did she?

Peridot looked at the shot in her hands and secretly drank it herself to calm down.

“Here you go, Sour Cream.” She came back a few moments later with another cup for the blonde boy, then spotted another friend. “Oh, hey Buck! Was wondering where you were.”

“The dancefloor called me,” The new boy answered, breathing heavily as he wiped the sweat off his forehead. He pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head and smiled. “How you doing, P-dot?”

“Thinking about the future,” Jenny answered for her as she pulled Buck down for a kiss on his cheek. “Give her inspirational words like Sour Cream.”

“No one can do inspiration like Sour Cream,” Buck pondered, ruffling the blonde’s hair. “But if it were me, I’d say to go to where your heart tells you to. My heart told me to go to the dancefloor, so I danced on my own.”

Peridot smirked. “And what does your heart tell you now?”

“Cuba Libre.”

“Gotcha,” She moved back to the bar and started mixing the drink. Buck’s words resonated on her mind, and Peridot decided that she should follow them. Talking to Lapis so far was all about new experiences and challenging herself and her fears, so that’s the path she should be taking. She wanted their encounters to be memorable and different, like they had been the first two times – on a junkyard in the middle of the night, and then in between interruptions at her own pub. Peridot had yet to ask how in the world Lapis had found her, but honestly she didn’t need to know. They had found each other, and that was all that mattered.

She returned with the drink in hands and interrupted Buck and Jenny’s make-out session. “Gonna make Sour Cream jealous.”

“Jealousy is an illusion,” Sour Cream said, matter-of-factly, but pushed himself onto the other two nonetheless. “Kisses aren’t, though.”

“Come here,” Jenny pulled him down and both kissed his cheeks, then Buck sat down at the bar to drink his Cuba Libre. Peridot smiled fondly at the three and turned around as someone asked for a beer.

“Gotta bounce. Thanks for the advice, guys.”

The trio gave her a synchronized thumbs up and Peridot knew she had the best friends in the world.

----

 It was Wednesday, and the bar felt familiar again even without Lapis’ presence. Sadie joked around and brought people together with her radiant aura, making Peridot feel at home.

----

Thursday was very calm, and the DJ thought it was a great time to put on songs that people usually didn’t enjoy as much. When Spice Girls started playing, everyone danced regardless.

----

On Friday she got her Vespa back. It was impeccable and looked brand new, and most of her worries regarding the ride vanished as soon as she rode it downhill. The wind on her face felt fantastic, and her heart was beating with excitement. She wanted to show this feeling to Lapis.

At the pub, Friday was always a busy day and Sour Cream was the resident DJ for the night. Jenny and Buck didn’t leave the dancefloor for a second, and Sadie and Peridot ran around the place to take orders as fast as they could. Sadie made a new friend called Lars, and Peridot made lots of friends each night – this one was not an exception. A cute girl was blatantly hitting on her, but she politely declined when she asked for her number.

Lapis was still swimming around in her mind. Peridot wondered if she had showed up at the junkyard that night. Grabbing her phone, she sent a message to Amethyst asking. She wasn’t really surprised when the answer was no.

----

Saturday started off great because Amethyst decided to crash at the pub. She didn’t go there often because ‘it didn’t make her style musically speaking’, but Peridot was still glad for the times she did. Everything just looked more lively with her around, from the people to the music.

“So where’s my mystery companion?” Amethyst asked, looking around. “I thought you’d be with your back shoved into a wall by the time I got here.”

“I work here, remember?” Peridot rolled her eyes, shaking a bottle. “And she hasn’t showed up since last Saturday.”

“Wait, like, at all?”

Peridot nodded.

“But you did call her throughout the week, right?”

“Um… once?”

“…When?”

“Last Sunday?”

“And you haven’t spoken since?”

Peridot shook her head.

“Aren’t you a bit worried she forgot about your date? Or about you entirely?”

“Of course not. She wouldn’t… I mean I don’t think she would—”

“Oh, Peri.” Amethyst leaned back with her beer in hands. “Your innocence is what gives me hope for future generations.”

“Shut up,” Peridot finished mixing a Margarita and walked over to the opposite side of the bar to deliver it. She returned soon and resumed the conversation as if it she’d never left. “It’s not like that. We’ve talked twice, but she was really excited for the ride.”

“So excited that she never came back here.”

“Why are you being a bitch? I thought you wanted this to work!” Peridot was feeling anxious again. She was so excited about meeting Lapis on the specific date stipulated that everything else outside of ‘Sunday after dinner’ had become irrelevant. Now Amethyst was making her question if this really was a problem.

“I do! I just don’t want you to get hurt,” Amethyst sat up straight again, knitting her eyebrows. “It’s good that you trust her this much, but people are assholes sometimes.”

“Yeah, you’re proof number one.” Peridot huffed as she walked away to take another order. Amethyst sighed, not wanting to fight with her best friend this early in the night. She was just worried about her heart, seeing as it was broken a couple of times and it was the worst feeling in the world to have a crying Peridot in her arms. The last time this happened, Amethyst had promised to kick the ass of the next idiot who decided to mess with Peridot’s heart. She didn’t want to have to fulfill it so soon.

When Peridot got back, she didn’t look in Amethyst’s direction. “Alright. I’m sorry, okay? Your date is gonna be great. I mean, look at what Greg did to your scooter, it’s amazing. She will be so impressed that when you make it home there will be cans hanging from the back plate because you’ll be just married.”

The blonde tried to hold back a grin, but failed.

“Come ooooon…” Amethyst smiled and reached over the counter to poke her friend in the ribs. “Smile for me, Peridactyl. You know you love me…”

“Cut it out,” Peri slapped her hand away with a snort. “I’ll have you kicked out.”

“Psh, right. I’m friends with half this joint.” Suddenly her cellphone vibrated and she picked up to read the message. Peridot took this cue to go fill another five cups of beer, and upon her return Amethyst’s eyes were glowing. “Peri, I got a job interview!”

“What?! Lemme see!” Forgetting about their argument completely, Peridot snatched her phone away and widened her eyes at the Facebook message. “Oh my stars, you do! Where??”

“It’s on the tattoo parlor I assigned for! Dude, this is rad.”

“Tattoo parlor?” Peridot sounded skeptical. “You can’t draw. You don’t even have tattoos.”

“I’m gonna be the receptionist, duh. Look,” She searched for the place and showed it to Peridot. “It’s this all-female tattoo shop called The Temple. Apparently there are only two other people who work there? They opened recently and needed someone who is organized with schedules and has good people skills.”

“So you lied.”

“Hey, I have good people skills. It’s only half a lie.”

Peridot flicked her on the forehead. “You can’t lie your way into a job, Amethyst. You better start practicing your organization skills. We could really use more cash.”

“I know, I know! I won’t mess this one up, promise.” She leaned back on her chair and sipped her beer. Peridot raised an eyebrow, but decided to trust her for now.

The music got louder and more intense as the night went by, and Amethyst’s beers turned into tequilas. Soon she was dragged to the dancefloor by some of her friends that Peri didn’t know and came back completely drunk and covered in hickeys. Peridot laughed at her friend’s state, and gave her a free water bottle. “Sober up, receptionist.”

“Peri, I have a plan, listen,” Amethyst gulped down the entire thing in an instant. “I’m gonna go to the dollar store, okay? Then I’m gonna buy those fake tattoos, like, butterflies and shit. I’ll cover my entire body in fake tattoos and then I’m gonna go to the interview.”

“Literally do not do this.”

“And then – hey do you have more water? – and then they’ll hire me because they’ll see how much I’m trying. I mean, did this girl really spend ten dollars in fake tattoos just for us? Fuck yes she did.”

Peridot slid another water bottle towards her. “They’ll kick you out in a second because you’ll look ridiculous.”

Amethyst laughed out loud and drank. As Peridot was about to move to take someone else’s orders, she felt her friend grabbing her shirt. “Hey, you know I love you, right? And that I only said that shit earlier because I don’t want anyone to ever hurt you, ever, right?”

Peridot was quite surprised at the confession, but nodded. “I know, Ame. Thanks for that.”

“…You don’t hate me, do you?”

“I could never,” She smiled, very aware of Amethyst’s own insecurities. Then she joked, “Alright, maybe when you forget your goddamn Hot Pockets on the microwave.”

Amethyst let her go and laughed again. Peridot really had the best friends in the world.

----

It was Sunday.

It was after dinner.

Peridot was making her way to the pub, gripping the scooter handle tightly as her heart threatened to burst out of her chest. All of her doubts and insecurities were back stronger than ever. She still hadn’t contacted Lapis, she still had no idea where they were heading to or what they were going to talk about, and her head was spinning with uncomfortable thoughts. She should have called Lapis at least once to make sure the date was still up, she should’ve done this, should’ve done that. Peridot was diving into the unknown and she hated it. Maybe she should just turn around and save herself the embarrassment.

Turning right, her eyes caught a glimpse of blue immediately.

Lapis was leaning on the stone walls of the pub, exactly where they had last seen each other, and smiled in her direction. Peridot felt like she could melt.

“You’re here,” The words fell out of her mouth instinctively.

“I’m here.” Lapis giggled. “What, you thought I wouldn’t come?”

Peridot almost said yes, but then realized that she wasn’t the one who thought that at all. It was what other people told her that made her that insecure. It was the memories of her past relationships that forced her to think that Lapis was the same. It was other people’s relationships that dictated what she should be expecting. But no one was the same, and Lapis definitely was someone different. How could she have been so dense?

Peridot smiled, relief leaking through every cell. “Never doubted you for a second.”

Chapter Text

It had been a while since Peridot felt someone’s arms encircle her from behind – someone other than Amethyst – and she felt her heart beginning to speed up as Lapis adjusted herself on the back seat of her scooter. The girl was quite taller than her, but the content sigh she gave after settling down was comforting enough, and told Peri she was well adjusted.

“Am I hurting you?” Lapis asked, in an almost whisper. Her voice sounded hoarse from this close, something that Peridot hadn’t noticed a week ago. She was already finding out new things about this girl and smiled unconsciously at that.

“I’m okay. Are you comfy?”

“Yeah,” Lapis giggled.

“Here,” Peridot handed her a helmet like hers. “It’s the law and I don’t wanna get you arrested.”

Lapis grabbed it, smirking. “Do you always follow the rules?”

“When I can. I almost always end up breaking them if I’m with Amethyst, though.” She started up the vehicle and soon both girls set off to the unknown.

The Sun had almost set entirely, persistently still hanging around in the horizon by just a few more moments before disappearing completely. The streetlights created a path of soft yellow glow that danced through the two women’s skin as they drove through the highway. The traffic was the same as usual, which didn’t bother them in the least seeing as Peridot was quite skilled with maneuvering her Vespa, and soon they made it to calmer streets in between houses.

“You said you’re not from around here, right?” Peridot asked, her voice a bit louder than normal because of the motor noises.

“I come to this neighborhood often, but my house is a few train stations from here,” Lapis answered. “There’s not much to do around where I live, so I usually end up here at the city center.”

Peridot made a turn, and felt Lapis’ arms tighten around her. “So where do you normally go when you come visit?”

Lapis chuckled at the term. “A few bars. That big market uphill; it has better products than the one back home. The video store next to the park.”

“Oh, really?” They turned again. “Amethyst likes to go there, too. You two seem to frequent the same places a lot.”

“It looks like it,” Lapis looked around, trying to make sense of where they were, and just overall absorbing the new environment. They were clearly in a residential area, seeing as there were buildings everywhere and small convenient stores at a few specific locations. “And yet we never spoke.”

“Why is that?” Peridot turned one last time and grinned when she finally saw the river that cut through the town in the distance.

“I don’t know,” Then a pause. “She seems a bit intimidating, to be honest.”

Peridot laughed out loud at that. “She’s just a dork.”

“You two seem pretty close,” Lapis smiled and rested her chin on Peri’s shoulder.

“We’ve been best friends for a long time. She’s a bad influence.”

They finally reached the highway next to the river and Peridot made the turn, feeling the wind already colder in her features. Lapis seemed to have noticed it as well, seeing as she sat up straight. Finally staring over at the river to their right, Lapis’ eyes widened and she mouthed, “Wow.”

Lapis knew the river quite well; she lived next to it, but a lot farther away. And she had seen it at night, too, but her neighborhood didn’t bother using the natural flow of water to do anything special. It was just there, peaceful and serene, composing the background of a suburban area. Some people liked to swim in it, fishermen in boats spent their days under the sun trying to catch something, and dogs took baths on it sometimes. The river was like an old friend of the residents, one who was always there, unmoving.

Near the city center, it was an entirely different story.

The colorful lights of casinos, night clubs, bars and restaurants all merged together next to each other and reflected on the water. The horizon was so bright that it looked like a whole other world. As the Vespa moved, so did the lights and the buildings. Lapis felt the cold slap of the humidity invading her pores and breathed in, closing her eyes. She could almost feel all the accumulated smoke in her lungs from years of cigarettes dissolving at that exact moment. Driving alongside the river in that speed was an experience she didn’t know she wanted to have, and now that she did, she never wanted it to stop.

“Can I be a bad influence too?” Her question was more of a communication, and Peridot nodded without a second thought. Lapis took her helmet off and leaned dangerously back. “Don’t slow down,” Then she carefully opened her arms, throwing her head back.

The blonde felt the shift in weight behind her, but did her best to keep the speed going. There were no cars as far as the eyes could see, which was normally the case at Sundays on the highway, so Peridot took her eyes from the road for a second to peek over her shoulder. Seeing Lapis leaning back with her arms open, her hair ruffling in the wind and her face pointing to the sky, took her breath away. This time she was the one who muttered, “Wow.”

They drove like this for a long time. The silence was a statement, and Peridot’s chest felt heavy and light at the same time. She was smiling all the way through the end of the highway, and if she had to put a name to this feeling, it would be pure and simple happiness. She liked to drive alongside the river alone sometimes to clear the stormy thoughts in her head, but her rides mostly just distracted her for a very short period of time. Right now, however, she couldn’t feel a single thing besides joy. No worries about the present or the future, no words swimming around in her brain and trying to get out at unsuitable times, no anxieties; it was like the fluttering mess in her mind moved down to her stomach, and it felt amazing. She wished she could feel like this forever.

The weight shifted again as Lapis returned to her position and immediately hugged Peridot’s back, burying her head on her shoulder. Peridot should’ve frozen at the action or at least been a bit surprised, but she stood still.

“Thank you,” Lapis whispered into her neck, and Peri nodded with a never ending smile.


Once the highway ended, Peridot made a left turn and started heading towards the residential area again. Now that the cold wind was gone, she realized that there was nothing else planned for them. She had thought about the river a few hours prior to meeting Lapis, but nothing after that, so her brain slowly started to work again, trying to think of something.

“Are you hungry?” Peridot asked, and Lapis shook her head, still drowned into her shoulder. She still held the helmet in one hand, and looked so comfortable and at ease that Peri was afraid of asking anything else and breaking the soft atmosphere. Security measures be damned.

They drove slowly through the streets, passing by buildings and houses, people and animals, and soon got to the park. The video store was opened, with its neon sign flickering and buzzing in the darkness. For some reason the streetlights outside the park entrance didn’t work, which gave an eerie look to the stores, but Peridot knew that the place was very safe. Lapis still hadn’t moved, and she wondered if the girl was even awake. “Lapis?”

“Hmm?”

“Oh, I thought you’d fallen asleep on me.”

Peri felt the girl’s chest jump up and down softly as she chuckled against her back. “I was just making the moment last.”

The blonde smiled, apologetically. “I’m sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt.”

Lapis shook her head again, lifting her neck a bit to whisper in her ear. “You’re part of the moment.”

Peridot felt a shiver go down her spine and her stomach did a somersault. She felt a sudden urge to kiss her, but held back as best as she could. “The video store is open, wanna check it out?”

“Okay.”

Peridot made a U-turn and parked the vehicle in front of the store. She helped Lapis get down, and the girl stumbled over her, laughing. “My legs feel like jelly.”

“The side effects of riding for a long time,” Peri giggled back and both made their way in.

The door ringed a small bell as they entered and Peridot looked around. The video store looked frozen in time, as if the 90’s never left. Everything, from the decoration to the wallpaper, screamed vintage. The place was small, but held a pretty big collection of VHS tapes and even some DVDs for the modern minds. Peridot had been there maybe once or twice with Amethyst, but never really took her time to look around and search for something herself. She didn’t have the time or energy to watch old cult movies or TV series, so most of her knowledge came from Sunday night Alien and Mad Max marathons with her best friend.

Behind the counter were some stairs leading to the upper floor, and she could hear someone making their way downstairs lazily. Soon a boy appeared, wearing really old clothes that looked more like pajamas than anything else. He had a Mohawk and large ear holes, and Peridot recognized him instantly.

“Aren’t you Lars?”

“Wha— Yeah, how do you know my name?”

“I’m Peridot. The bartender who works with Sadie?”

“Oh!” He suddenly blushed and put a finger in front of his mouth, whispering, “Shh! My parents can’t know I sneaked out!”

Peridot put both hands over her mouth and Lapis chuckled at the action. “My bad!”

“Y-yeah, don’t worry about it,” He scratched the back of his neck and sat down in the chair behind the counter. “Anyway, can I help you with anything?”

“We’re just checking the store out,” Peridot answered and looked over to Lapis, who had made herself comfortable in one of the neon poufs on the back. The blue-haired girl signalized for her to approach and Peridot felt her legs giving in. “We’ll call you if we need anything.”

“Suit yourself,” Lars then took his phone out of his pocket and started texting. Peridot wondered if he was talking with Sadie and rooted for the best for her friend.

Lapis was sprawled in the giant cushion with a relaxed expression and held out a hand to the bartender. “This is where I usually lie down while I wait for my friend to go through all the shelfs.”

Peridot held her hand. “Not a fan of old movies either?” She thought that Lapis wanted help to get up, but yelped as she felt herself being pulled down and falling on top of the girl. “Wow!”

Lapis laughed and Peridot blushed, rolling over to the small space next to her. Both were now lying side by side looking at the ceiling, and it felt comfortable despite being a bit cramped for two people. There was no answer for a while as Lapis sighed, contently. The night was going a whole lot better than Peridot expected, and seeing the girl next to her with such a peaceful expression made her melt on the inside.

“I do like movies. I just never know what to pick, so I trust him to pick them for me.” Lapis breathed out, finally.

“I’m the same with Amethyst,” Peri remembered the last time she had trusted Amethyst with a movie. The girl had come back home with Poltergeist and the Care Bears movie – ‘this one,’ she had said, holding Poltergeist ‘is for when we finish watching Care Bears.’ – and that was not a fun night at all. “I should really start renting things myself, though.”

Lapis chuckled and reached above her head, grabbing a random VHS tape. “Teen Witch.”

“Sounds incredible.”

“Sounds cliché,” She put it back and reached for another one. “Flashdance.”

“Oh, I watched that one!” Peridot smiled. “Not bad at all.”

Lapis put it back with a nod and reached for a third one. “…The Shining?”

“What the—” Peridot lifted up her torso to look over at the shelf above them. The sign said ‘Romance’, but the tapes in it were terribly organized. Jaws and Grease were side by side, and she plopped back down on the cushion. “Someone has terrible organization skills.”

“Or just a terrible sense of humor.” Lapis smirked.

Both girls laughed at that and Lapis put the tape back. They laid there for a few more minutes just enjoying each other’s company and listening to the store’s soundtrack, which was entirely composed of Madonna and Nirvana. After three songs, Lapis decided to get up and stretched her muscles. “Shall we go?”

Peridot nodded, getting up as well.

“Bye, Lars.” She bid the boy goodbye, and he waved uninterested.

Outside, Lapis walked a few steps and laid her back on the wooden walls of the store, looking up at the sky. Since the lights were out, she was able to see the stars clearly, just like in the junkyard. Peridot moved next to her, looking up as well. Stealing a glance at the girl, Peri cleared her throat.

“You know, I really like astronomy.”

“Oh, yeah? Tell me about it.”

“Well, there are a few constellations that you can clearly see from here,” Peridot pointed at the stars above. “That right there is Orion. It’s the first one I usually see. Those three stars aligned there are Orion’s Belt, a very famous formation.”

Lapis nodded, intrigued.

“Then we’ve got the Gemini constellation right above Orion,” Peridot moved her finger to the left almost imperceptibly. “Its most famous stars are the ones over there, Castor and Pollux. In mythology they were twins, therefore they’re part of Gemini. It means twins in Latin.”

“I didn’t know that,” Lapis smiled softly.

“I just think it’s fascinating how mythology and star systems are so interconnected,” Peridot’s hands started moving on her own as she ranted. “I mean, you’ve got the zodiac signs, which are all names of constellations, and are also essentially a product of Greco-Roman culture. And even the planets can’t be overlooked if we think about it! Roman gods were all named after them, like Mars, Jupiter and so on. The Romans were so important to modern astronomy, but some articles still insist on diminishing their influence when it comes to…”

As Peridot kept going, Lapis’ smile widened. That short blonde bartender was so amazing in so many aspects, and seeing her excitedly talking about her passion made Lapis’ insides twist in a warmth she didn’t know she still possessed.

Lapis had been through so much shit in her life, that she was convinced no one would be able to bring any sense of joy to her anymore. She tried to leech off Jasper for comfort and empathy, since both had been through the same nightmare together, but she knew that what they had was not even close to a healthy and happy relationship. It was just a codependency that neither of them were able to get over, since it had been like that for years. They needed something, someone to help them move on. But each time, it was just a matter of time until their life story leaked out and the person decided to leave. And who could blame them?

It was just so much.

“…and that’s what I wrote to NASA, but they still haven’t answer me. I’m thinking of sending it again, do you think I’d look too desperate?” Peridot’s question brought her back to reality.

“Oh, um. Not at all, you should definitely keep… sending them.” The thought of mails and deliveries made a shiver run down Lapis’ spine and she pushed herself off the wall. She started walking in circles in quick steps, rubbing her arms up and down.

Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it.

“Lapis, are you okay?” Peridot sounded concerned and Lapis swallowed hard. The darkness suddenly didn’t look so appealing, and she grabbed her lighter from the pocket.

“Y-yeah, just… too dark. Need some light.”

Peridot watched as the girl lit it up and kept pacing around. Each time the flame went off, she struggled to light it up again, and this pattern repeated itself in shorter intervals. Peridot had had her share of anxiety attacks to know something had bothered the girl.

“Hey, how about we get back on the scooter and get away from here?” She approached Lapis carefully not to startle her, her voice calm and not too loud. With a gentle hand on Lapis’ lower back, Peridot guided her back to the vehicle and hopped on, waiting for her to do the same. Lapis breathed in and out slowly, and put the lighter away, climbing up behind the blonde.

Peridot turned the scooter on and started driving. “Hold me.”

“W-what?” Lapis was still shaky and detached from things, so she hadn’t even realized her hands were resting on her sides.

“Hold me. It will make you feel better,” Peridot repeated, simply. Lapis laboriously brought her arms to the blonde’s waist and hugged her. She was hesitant at first, but as the Vespa moved to brighter territory, her grip on the girl in front of her tightened, and soon she was almost entirely buried into her again. They drove in silence for a while, and the dark cloud of thoughts in Lapis’ head started to dissolve little by little as Peridot started humming a song. Her voice was unexpectedly soothing and she had dealt with Lapis’ little outburst in such a caring way that the blue-haired girl was overwhelmed.

“…I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” Peridot replied. “It’s totally fine.”

Lapis felt a lump on her throat, and inhaled deeply. “Can we… go to the river again?”

“You mean that river?” Peridot smirked as she turned right, putting the river into view. The humidity hit Lapis’ face and she immediately felt better. Peridot extended a hand and Lapis tilted her head confused. “Give me your helmet, I can hold it in between my legs.”

“But…”

“The wind feels much better when it’s ruffling through your hair. I promise to avoid the cops.”

Lapis’ could feel all the butterflies in the world running loose in her stomach and passed her the helmet. She looked over at the bright horizon and soon smiled again as the wind messed up her hair, and patched up her soul. That was when she knew Peridot probably went on rides like this whenever she was feeling down; Lapis felt a rush of emotion run through her, knowing that Peridot was sharing this private experience with her.

The highway inevitably ended, and Peridot turned around. “Want to go again?”

Lapis shook her head. “I’m okay now,” She tightened her hug and leaned forward, brushing a kiss on her cheek. “Thank you, Peridot.”

Peri blushed at the gesture. “You’re very welcome.”

As they drove through the residential area again, Lapis replayed the events of the night in her head. With not much effort, she realized that they hadn’t done anything other than spend time with each other – mostly in a comfortable silence – and that she was starting to become addicted to the feeling of touching Peridot. She felt good whenever they were in contact. She felt…

Safe.

She didn’t want to go home.

“Hey,” Lapis started, not really sure how to ask this so suddenly. The last thing she wanted was to scare her off, but she had to try. “Is Amethyst home right now?”

“Probably. She has a job interview tomorrow.”

“Oh,” She didn’t want to bother her. “Never mind, then.”

“Why?” Peridot, however, knew where this was going. The last thing she needed after a panic attack was to be left alone, and so this type of behavior was familiar. “Do you want to come over?”

“No, I—” Lapis paused. For once, she wanted to be honest with her feelings. “Yes.”

Peridot chuckled. “Alright. Um, you can sleep over, too. Our rooms are separated.”

“I’d like that.”

“And, uh…” Peridot looked nervous all of a sudden, and gripped the handle of her Vespa. “Would you mind sharing a bed? With me, I mean. We don’t… have extra cushions.”

Lapis smiled and buried her face into Peridot’s neck. “I don’t mind at all,” She let out in a breath.

Chapter Text

For someone who allegedly didn’t smoke, Peridot’s apartment smelled of old cigarettes. Lapis identified the familiar scent as soon as she stepped into the hallway that led to each apartment and couldn’t suppress a smirk. Luckily the blonde was too busy fidgeting with the keys to pay attention to the mocking expression, and as soon as she managed to open the door, she halted and slammed it shut again quickly. “…Just a second. Stay here.”

Lapis tilted her head in confusion, but waited as Peridot barely opened it again and sneaked in. The wooden door wasn’t soundproof at all, she learned, as Peri’s muffled voice leaked through.

“Put some pants on, we have a guest!”

“What?”

“Lapis is here! Look at this mess, help me clean this up!”

“You brought her home? On your first date?!”

“It’s not like that. Holy— what is this??”

“Oh, so there is where that Cheetos from last week ended up.”

“You are disgusting.”

“Don’t hurt its feelings, it’s just a baby.”

“Why are you still sitting there?? She’s waiting outside, get the fuck up!”

“You do realize the door has zero soundproof.”

Then there was silence and Lapis had to bring a hand to her mouth to stop giggling. The two friends seemed to have a lot of fun together, and she was actually looking forward to finally meeting Amethyst properly. She pictured the girl sprawled on a couch without her pants on and a bag of Cheetos in one hand and smiled harder. After a few quieter mumbles and some noises, the door finally opened again and Peridot smiled, tiredly. “I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s fine,” Lapis replied, walking in. The place was small and very cozy, with a kitchen attached to the living room, and two bedrooms at the end of a small hallway. She immediately noticed the mess under the rug and mentally laughed at the desperate attempts of hiding their garbage. The TV in front of the single couch was very old, and VHS tapes were piled up on the floor next to it. It was a typical roommate house; not messy, but not exactly clean either.

“So, finally we meet,” She heard a voice coming from behind the kitchen counter and looked over to see a short brown-haired girl leaning in.

“Amethyst,” Lapis acknowledged with a nod.

“Lapis,” Amethyst greeted back. “So tell me, what are your intentions with my daughter?”

“Can you not?” Peridot sighed, exasperatedly. Despite being grateful for the way her best friend cared for her, she wished she would be less embarrassing.

“Nothing but rides and learning about space, ma’am.” Lapis said with a straight face, and snorted at Peridot’s disbelieving look. Then she winked at her, making the blonde blush and ruffle her hair out of embarrassment. Amethyst laughed hysterically, almost falling off the counter.

“Oh, man, I like her. Approved, P-dot!” She gave her a thumbs up. Peri just groaned and fell face-first on the couch.

Lapis sat down next to her, rubbing her back and saying ‘there, there’, then looked back to Amethyst. “Sorry for intruding on the night before your job interview.”

“No sweat,” The girl rested her chin in a palm, sounding very relaxed. “I’m confident my fake butterfly tattoos will give me the boost I need to get hired.”

“You did not actually buy fake tattoos.” Peridot got up immediately. Amethyst simply rolled up one sleeve and showed them her arm, entirely covered in the most generic butterflies possible. “I can’t believe you. You told me you were going to take this seriously!”

“Hey, I am taking this seriously! It’s a tattoo parlor, these are tattoos. What about this doesn’t scream ‘I’m really trying’?” Amethyst held up a hand at the exact moment Peridot opened her mouth to say something. “And these were free, before you implode. My girl Vidalia works at the dollar store.”

“Unbelievable.”

“I think they’re charming,” Lapis smiled down at Peri’s disgruntled face.

“Don’t encourage her.”

“See? Someone here knows her stuff. Thank you, Lapis.” Amethyst stretched her muscles and yawned, rubbing her belly. “Well, since I didn’t get gold medal at the Third Wheel Olympics, might as well just crash. Try not to make too much noise.” She winked in a smirk.

“Shut up.” Peridot flushed again, turning her back to her friend. Lapis chuckled and returned to rubbing the blonde’s back for some reason. She really did enjoy touching Peridot.

“Mind closing your eyes for a sec, Lapz?” Amethyst asked.

“Uh, why?”

“Cuz I didn’t have time to put pants on and I need to walk past you to go to my room.” It took Lapis a moment to process that this was the reason Amethyst had been talking to them behind a counter this whole time.

“Oh, of course!” She closed her eyes. “Go right ahead.”

She heard small and heavy steps making their way past her and then a door closing. Opening her eyes, she came face-to-face with Peridot’s rolling pupils. “She’s terrible.”

“She’s really funny.” Lapis smiled, leaning back to finally rest properly in the couch. Peridot adjusted her position to do the same and grabbed the TV’s remote.

“She’s got no common sense,” She mumbled, flipping through the channels. Despite sounding irritated, Lapis knew she wasn’t mad at all. The whole interaction made her feel comfortable, which wasn’t really normal for her whenever she met new people. There was always an element of awkwardness and anxiety that came with talking to strangers, but Amethyst’s outgoing and overall friendly personality was very soothing.

“How did you two meet?” Lapis asked, moving closer to touch arms with the bartender. The smooth gesture didn’t pass unnoticed by Peridot and she felt her heart leap a beat.

Scratching her neck, she mumbled. “…It’s kind of a long story.”

“It’s a long night,” Now Lapis was curious. She felt Peridot shift a bit uncomfortably on her seat and slowly dropped her smile. “It’s okay if you don’t want to tell me, though.” She knew more than anyone else that life stories were a private matter.

“It’s just a bit… embarrassing. Like, one thing I wish I could erase. But I can’t, because I live with her, so I have to see her face every day.” Then she felt guilty at how the words had come out. “N-not that I don’t like seeing her every day!”

Lapis nodded. “I understand.”

And did she.

“It’s not even that bad, it’s just…” Peridot stopped to organize her thoughts, and tried again. “We met on a blind date.”

There was a pause and the only sounds were the ones coming from the TV.

That was unexpected.

“We kinda… dated for a while?” Peridot spoke as if she was unsure of what exactly had happened between them at that certain point in time. “Then we realized that while we did enjoy each other’s company, we didn’t really enjoy it in a romantic sense. Just thinking about it gives me the creeps.”

Lapis chuckled softly, comprehensive. It was probably weird to think you’ve dated your best friend. “Did you decide to move in together when you were dating?”

“Yeah,” She threw her head back to stare at the ceiling. “I had found this apartment, but it was too expensive for me to pay on my own. We decided to share the place since she was working at the time and also wanted to move out. Then she got fired and we were in a pinch. She managed to find another job, though.”

“Then she got fired again?”

“She has this supernatural ability of lasting exactly 3 months in a job,” Peridot giggled, reminiscing old times. “Amethyst makes friends wherever she goes, but can’t keep an occupation. She has problems with stability.” Peridot widened her eyes and shut her mouth, apparently realizing she said something she shouldn’t have. Exposing Amethyst’s life like this when she wasn’t around to listen and defend herself wasn’t fair. “I shouldn’t have told you all of this…”

Lapis put a hand on her shoulder. “I promise I won’t tell. It’s alright.”

Peridot nodded, but still felt bad. She grabbed the remote again and zapped through the channels, a bit nervously. “Anyway, it felt natural when we broke up. It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m really glad we remained friends, though.”

“How long ago was this?”

“Five years.”

Lapis looked down and thought about her own history with Jasper. It was similar in a way, except for the fact that 20 years later they were still stuck with each other and weren’t exactly friends.

She moved her eyes to the TV as the images flickered and decided to shift positions. She placed her head on Peridot’s lap and stretched her legs, putting her arms up as well so they were all over the blonde’s thighs. Peridot froze at the sudden change, but welcomed it. It was getting quite cold, and Lapis’ hair brushing against her bare legs was a nice feeling.

“Hey,” Lapis’ hoarse voice made Peridot look down. “Thank you for letting me stay.”

“No problem.” She smiled.

They stood quiet again, but Peri noticed the blue-haired girl wanted to share something else. She didn’t push her, though, and Lapis didn’t say anything. They finally settled on a cooking show and watched the whole thing comfortably. Sometimes Lapis would ask if her head was too heavy, and Peridot would always say it wasn’t bothering her in the least. They’d laugh at the same time at someone’s mistake and Peri would get nervous whenever the time for the challenge decreased. The cook they were both rooting for stayed, and they rooted with silent cheers. The next show was rather boring and Lapis closed her eyes a little bit. The last time she’d slept on someone’s lap was on accident, and she felt a bit repulsed after waking up. Jasper had told her it was fine, but she knew it wasn’t – she’d just been so tired. Right now, however, she was truly peaceful.

Peridot looked down at the girl and hesitantly started threading her fingers through her hair. She always wondered if colored hair would feel different, maybe dryer than usual, but Lapis’ apparently took really good care of it. It was smooth and smelled good, and Peridot felt her eyes fluttering.

“You’re soft,” Peridot whispered, not meaning to. She blushed as Lapis smiled against her thigh.

“Yeah?”

“Hm-hmm.”

“Because of my hair?”

“That too. But…” It was difficult to hold her tongue when she was immersed in such a sensation. Babbling out of nowhere was Peridot’s specialty, but she didn’t want to weird her out. “Never mind.”

“No, tell me.” Lapis turned on her back so she could look at the blonde from beneath. Her smile and features were so tranquil that Peridot felt like she wouldn’t judge her for the weird things that were about to come out of her mouth.

“You as a whole,” She started, quietly. “The first time I saw you it was in such a… rough place. A junkyard at night filled with rusted cars and generally dirty. And you were smoking, too. You were just an orange glow in the darkness, but still shone brighter than all the stars in the sky.” The blush creeped through her neck, but she couldn’t stop herself. Her hands left Lapis’ hair and started moving on their own.

“And then we talked at the pub, which had lots of noises and flashing lights. It was also not soft at all, with all those interruptions. And the kiss was also pretty rough, but not in the way I was expecting it to be. It had an element of softness in it. I told Amethyst I wanted to know you in your entirety, but that maybe we weren’t meant to sit down and talk calmly like… this.”

Lapis didn’t move her eyes from Peridot for a second.

“But now that we are, I feel like I was wrong. You looked…” She struggled again with the words. “Um… fast. And earthly. From a distance, I mean. Like someone who… passes you by in the street, and catches your eye. But it’s too fast for you to really make out the details of this person, so you just go on with your day. I’m— not sure where I’m going with this.” Peridot’s heart was racing at this point, but she really wanted to finish her line of thought.

“I guess what I’m saying is… that I’m really glad you approached me at the bar. Because now that we have spent time together, I can see that you’re not a glimpse at all. You’re like…” She put her trembling hands down and inhaled. “The river. Present. And soft.”

The silence that followed was heavy. It gave Peridot the time to process everything that she’d said, and if Lapis wasn’t on her lap, she probably would have run out of the house by now. How could someone’s brain shut down in such a way that monologues just poured out like this? No wonder her past relationships never worked. It was just too much. Too weird. Too—

Lapis suddenly sat up, and placed her lips against Peridot’s. The kiss was so surprising that managed to replace Peri’s thoughts with fluttering feelings in her stomach. She closed her eyes, but opened them slightly when she felt something wet on her cheeks. Cupping Lapis’ face with one hand, she pulled away gently and saw the tears falling quietly. “Lapis…”

“Just...” Lapis shook her head with her eyes still closed, and brought their lips back together. “Please.”

How could anyone deny that?

Peridot parted her lips and soon their tongues met. It was different than their first kiss, more deliberately intimate, and she craved the taste more each time. Lapis inhaled deeply as she climbed on top of Peridot’s lap and the blonde remembered something from the night at the pub. Bringing one hand to the girl’s waist, she pulled her as close as she possibly could, which made Lapis sigh against her mouth. They didn’t do much more than this, and Peridot felt like nothing in her life could ever top what she was feeling at that moment.

The kiss ended at some point with both girls heaving against each other’s cheeks, and Lapis touched foreheads with the blonde. “Thank you.”

Peridot didn’t know what she was thanking her for, but she would never dare to ask. With a nod and a brave quick peck on Lapis’ lips, she smiled. “Should we go to bed?”

If it was anyone else or any other moment, the sentence would’ve been met with a smug smirk or a teasing comment. But right now it was just the two of them, sharing something that neither of them knew what it was, but that was there. Lapis got off her lap and helped Peridot up, and both moved to the room with their fingers intertwined.

Lapis crashed into Peri’s bed and almost immediately blacked out. The last thing she remembered was feeling something at the pitch of her stomach and falling asleep with tear-stained cheeks and a soft smile.

The last thing Peridot remembered was being spooned from behind.

Chapter Text

“You look so pretty, darling.” The voice praised her with a smile. “Tell her how pretty she looks, Jasper.”

Jasper repeated the exact words in a neutral tone because she didn’t want to be there. Lapis didn’t want to be there anymore either, but the strong grip on her arm stopped her from ever leaving. She could feel the huge nails digging into her skin, marking, bruising, making her a possession, something to be displayed.

“Now try the other dress,” Never menacing, always pleasant. That’s what the voice was like, that’s what it’s always been like. Lapis nodded weakly and got into her room again. She came out a few minutes later and the woman clapped her hands, excitedly. “Yes! You really do look good in blue. Doesn’t she, Jasper?”

“Yes.” Jasper answered again, faintly. Her eyes were barely focusing on Lapis at all.

“I think blue is your color. I’ll make a note to always buy blue clothes for you, now. I’ll cover you in blue, wouldn’t that be nice?” She reached for Lapis’ arm again and pulled her towards her, strongly. Lapis winced and felt herself being suffocated by the sudden hug. The woman smelled like the only expensive perfume she owned, and while Lapis was repulsed by the scent, she came to get used to it. She was forced to live with it for her entire life, anyway. She was practically numb to it by now.

“Don’t worry, Jasper, I’ll figure out your color one day.” The woman pushed Lapis roughly by the shoulders and crouched to be eye-level with her. “What do you think is your sister’s color?”

‘She’s not my sister’ Lapis wanted to yell at the top of her lungs every time the woman referred to the other girl as that. But doing so would only get her in trouble, and so she answered.

“Orange.”

“Oh, what a smart girl,” The woman got up and this time pulled Jasper by her arm. “Because orange and blue are opposite colors. And you’re nothing like each other. Is that it?”

Lapis had no answer to that. She’d just said the first thing that came to mind.

“You tire me.” The woman dropped her smile and pushed both girls away from her. Lapis fell because she was way weaker than Jasper, who remained grounded. “I buy you nice clothes and this is the thanks I get. Go clean the house.”

Without sparing another look to the two children, the woman left, slamming the door shut. Jasper walked towards Lapis and held out a hand to help her get up. Lapis slapped it away and got up on her own, swallowing the tears that threatened to fall.

She refused to cry.


Lapis’ eyes opened slowly, and everything was darker than it normally was whenever she woke up. For a second she thought it was still the middle of the night, but the clock by the nightstand registered 11am. She frowned and turned around, trying to make sense of her surroundings. She reached for her partner in bed, but there was no one there. Then she remembered she’d spent the night at Peridot’s, and not Jasper’s.

With a startle, Lapis lifted her torso and grabbed the cellphone from her pocket. Memories from yesterday were starting to return, and she remembered passing out completely on Peridot’s bed without a second glance at the girl. She had felt happy at the time, and it was the best night of sleep she’d had in months. Then she remembered the kiss and paused with her hand hanging midair.

She had cried.

She had cried for the first time in years.

And they’ve been happy tears.

Lapis looked back to the phone in hands and put it back down. She was feeling relaxed and light weighted, and she would not ruin this feeling by giving in to her addiction. Taking a deep breath, Lapis closed her eyes and counted to ten before exhaling. She tried to feel everything around her – the soft fabric of the sheets rubbing her bare legs, the comfortable darkness, the very quiet noise in the hallway indicating someone was up watching the TV, the smell of pancakes. Her stomach growled.

Crying made her hungry.

Lapis opened her eyes then, and put her hair up on a small ponytail. Opening the bedroom’s door, she squinted her eyes to get used to the brightness and walked slowly to the living room. Soon enough she spotted a short blonde girl sitting curled in the couch eating pancakes and very focused on whatever was happening on the TV. The smile that formed on Lapis’ lips was instantaneous, just as the leap of her heart. Peridot’s bed hair was incredibly messy and her alien pajamas were so endearing that Lapis felt herself melting at the sight. The girl loved space and had alien PJ’s. It was so cute.

“Good morning,” Lapis said, making her way to the couch.

“Oh, hey!” Peridot immediately got up. She didn’t really have a reason to, she was just happy to see her. “How did you sleep?”

“Amazing.” The way she said it was sincere and Peridot’s smile softened at that.

“I’m glad. There’s some pancakes for you on the table if you’d like.”

“That’d be great, actually.” Lapis moved to the kitchen and saw the plate with some maple syrup on the side. She grabbed it together with the fork also left for her.

“I was about to make some coffee, too.” Peridot sat back down. “I was just waiting for you to wake up.”

“Oh, yes please.” Lapis was always in the mood for coffee. She was about to go back to the couch when her eyes caught the glimpse of a letter on the counter.

Dear Peri,

I’m leaving for my job interview and will come back soon. With a job. Because my tattoos will make a difference. And then I will rub in your face how great of an idea that was, and you won’t get mad at me, because I will have a job. There’s some pizza in the fridge, nerd. And make your gf some pancakes. Chicks love them pancakes. I know cuz I’m a chick.

Love,

A soon-to-be one more slave to a capitalist society.

Lapis snorted at the messy handwriting, but decided to pretend she didn’t read it. It would probably just make Peridot embarrassed and she wanted to spend time with her while she was in a good mood.

“You look focused. What are you watching?” She sat next to Peridot and started munching on the food. She couldn’t help sighing at the taste of warm pancakes melting in her mouth.

“It’s just some silly space documentary,” Peridot was about to change channels when she felt Lapis’ hand covering her own.

“Let’s watch it together,” She smiled. “You can explain me all the technical stuff.”

The blonde’s eyes shone with emotion at the suggestion and nodded. The documentary was at the very beginning, which made it easier for Lapis to grasp the context of it all, but some terms and names were still foreign to her. She asked Peridot every time the narrator explained something that she didn’t quite grasp, and Peri excitedly explained to her what he’d meant. They chatted in between bites and Lapis felt herself getting more and more interested in what other discoveries scientists had made about the planet Jupiter as time went by. Half an hour later both girls were in complete silence, focusing on the show. It was only when a commercial popped up that they snapped out of their trance.

“So, wait… people can’t actually walk on Jupiter?” Lapis leaned back again. In her curiosity she had completely bent forward to pay more attention to the TV and hadn’t even realized it.

“Yes, because it’s primarily composed of hydrogen and helium, which are gases.”

“But didn’t he say that there was a possibility of life?” She frowned, genuinely confused. “I thought you needed water for that.”

“Well, it’s impossible to have any Earth-like life on Jupiter, but as the Miller-Urey experiment demonstrated, the combination of chemical compounds on the atmosphere could potentially bring to existence…”

Peridot explained and Lapis listened, and the pancakes in her stomach settled nicely and warm, and she was so at peace and happy with this whole morning that the thought of coffee was long forgotten.


That was the most punctual Amethyst has ever been in her entire life. She had left home early to catch a bus and get to the tattoo shop, and since she had arrived early, she made a small detour to buy a bagel and apple juice for breakfast. After finishing her food, she smoked sitting on a bench nearby until the appointed time was up and then made her way into the place.

The moment she stepped in, she was almost blown away by the smell of incense. Amethyst might have lost some of her sense of smell after years of cigarettes, but holy hell was that strong. The place was apparently empty and very small, but the rest of it was just hidden behind a curtain. The counter where Amethyst would probably spend her days was very tidy and shiny, as if recently polished, and she walked towards it to ring the small bell. “Hello?”

The curtain moved slightly for a moment and then someone came out from behind it. The woman was tall and slender, with pink short undercut hair and a skin as pale as white people could be. She was wearing a sleeveless white shirt and leather pants and Amethyst took back everything she’d ever said about love at first sight not being real. “You must be Amethyst.” Her voice was so melodious, too.

“That’s me!” Despite falling head over heels in less than 2 seconds, she had self-control. Peridot would probably be a mumbling mess, but not her. “And you must be Pearl.”

“Nice to meet you. Please, come in!” Pearl shook her hand and she couldn’t help but notice how smooth it was. This pink-haired goddess probably owned a moisturizing warehouse, too. They made their way behind the counter and across the curtain and Amethyst gaped.

The place was beautifully decorated. There were probably a hundred frames covering the pastel pink walls with sketches of tattoos and its prices on the bottom for display. The wooden floor was covered in different types of rugs that matched somehow, but still gave a sort of rustic and messy feel to the environment. The ceiling was high and two private rooms were located in the back – it was probably where the two artists worked. In front, a beige couch and two armchairs turned towards each other created a sort of waiting room, with a glass table in the center. There was an espresso machine next to it, as well as a balcony with water and a tea set. Amethyst felt like the place was trying for street-chic and had completely nailed it.

“Please, sit.” Pearl gestured to the couch. “I’ll tell Garnet you’ve arrived.”

“Sure thing.” Amethyst sat down and stared as Pearl opened one of the private rooms. She noticed the wings tattooed on her back that went all the way down her arms and swooned. It didn’t take long for another woman to come out and join them. As soon as she came into view, Amethyst was sure her heart wouldn’t be able to take any more gorgeous women coming in her direction that day.

Garnet was taller than Pearl, her skin darker than Amethyst’s, and her afro hair was half blue and half pink. She also wore a white sleeveless shirt, which allowed her to show the tribal tattoos on both her shoulders. Her shorts and fishnet tights complemented the look, with sunglasses for some reason, which prevented her eyes from being seen.

“Nice to meet you, Amethyst.” She greeted with a stoic nod and sat down next to Pearl in one of the armchairs.

“Your hair is amazing.” Amethyst tried to hold back the compliment but it was just impossible. Garnet looked so cool.

“Thank you.” She smiled softly.

“Well, let’s get down to business,” Pearl laid some papers on the glass table in front and Amethyst literally had to bite her tongue to stop from singing. “The Temple is a new concept, trying to bring comfort and style to the city center in a more fashionable way than most tattoo parlors around. While we do have the same quality and professionalism of any other shop, our work is more… refined than most. Everything we do here comes from our passion and skill, and the aesthetic ranges from a variety of art styles. People can come and ask for anything and we’ll be able to deliver it with the utmost perfection.”

As Pearl talked, Amethyst found herself getting distracted. The woman looked nervous, but only slightly so, as if she refused to show it in front of others. She spoke about the place with passion and enthusiasm, smiling even. Her words were precise, just like her hand movements, and she was just so pretty.

Amethyst then looked over at Garnet, whose eyes could be opened or closed and she’d never know. She decided to think that she was looking straight at her and returned her attention to Pearl’s rambling.

“—prices are, of course, consistent with the quality of our work, and we need to keep it this way to secure a good image for our brand. Did you get everything so far?”

“Absolutely.” She hadn’t.

“Very well. The idea of opening this shop came from a long time ago, when Rose Quartz—” Pearl was interrupted by Garnet’s hand on her shoulder.

“Maybe we should let her talk a little bit.”

“Oh. Y-yes, of course.” Pearl smiled, apologetically. “I’m sorry, I tend to ramble about this place. Please, tell me about your experience and why do you think you could handle the administrative part of The Temple.”

“Well…” That was what Amethyst had been waiting for. She crossed her legs and smiled coolly. “I’ve been working on retail for most of my life. People usually tell me I’m friendly and helpful, and I’ve dealt with all kinds of costumers in all seven years of experience in the area. I’m organized and appreciate a tidy work environment.”

She saw Pearl’s eyes shine at this and internally smirked. “I’m also outgoing and an excellent spokesperson. I don’t mean to brag, but I’ve got a good number of friends and followers on social media that are always interested to hear about great places to go. As your receptionist, I’d be more than happy to spread the word about The Temple as well. I think people have been waiting for a place like this, you know? Fresh and new. The city center is old, and change is always welcome around here. I, particularly, absolutely loved it.”

“Seven years is a really long time in the business,” Pearl muttered to herself, trying to hide the pride in her voice as Amethyst complimented the shop. “And we did need someone to take care of our social media, as well.” She looked over at Garnet, who was still unmoving.

“I can do it!” Amethyst mentally pumped her fist in the air. “I can talk on the phone, greet people, manage your time schedules, take care of your Facebook page. Don’t worry, leave it all to me.”

“Hmm, your résumé is quite impressive. You have worked in a lot of places.” Pearl took the résumé that she had printed the day before from her purse and analyzed it carefully.

“What made you quit?” Garnet spoke neutrally. Amethyst froze.

“What?”

“All these places you’ve worked on. It looks like you’ve spent little time in each one of them. What made you quit?”

Amethyst swallowed hard, but tried to play it cool. “You know, life happens, and changes happen too. Sometimes it’s hard to conciliate both things.”

“Hm.”

There was a silence and she knew that she had given the wrong answer. Garnet was probably looking for someone who wouldn’t quit on the first mistake, and while Amethyst definitely wasn’t a quitter, she was afraid of something else.

She was afraid of getting attached to one place. Garnet probably had realized that by now.

I blew it.

“Hired.” Garnet said after a few moments.

“What??” Pearl and Amethyst were caught off guard at the same time. Recomposing herself, the pink-haired woman asked, “Garnet, don’t you think we should interview at least two more people first?”

“She’s fine.” Garnet barely smiled and bent over to sign one of the papers in the table. “This is your contract. Feel free to sign it as soon as you finish reading.” Then she got up. “I look forward to working with you.”

“Y-yeah,” Amethyst blinked, grabbing the paper. “Yes, absolutely! I won’t let you down, thank you so much!”

Pearl smiled crookedly and followed Garnet back to her office, mumbling something to the taller woman. Before getting inside, however, Garnet turned around again. “Oh, and cool butterfly tattoos, by the way.”

Amethyst looked over at the woman who was giving her a thumbs up with a serious face, and couldn’t suppress a laughter.


Lapis really didn’t want to leave, but Peridot worked in a few hours and probably had to sleep a little bit before her shift. As the blonde accompanied her downstairs, she caught herself staring at her short figure fondly and grinning. Those past two days had been so incredible, and her heart compressed each time she remembered this was just the beginning of something. There were so many more things that they could share together, and she really hoped Peridot felt the same.

It didn’t matter what they did, she just wanted to spend time with her.

“You sure you don’t need a ride? I can take you to the train station,” Peridot asked for the second time, sounding a bit saddened by the goodbye.

“I’m sure,” Lapis answered. The station was barely five minutes walking, so she chuckled at the offer. “Thank you, though.”

“Okay.” As they reached the building’s exit, Peridot put her hands on her pockets. “So… I’ll see you soon?”

Lapis didn’t answer and instead bent down to press a kiss to her lips. Peridot inhaled and brought both hands to her cheeks, happily. She felt a slight suck on her lower lip and opened her mouth to deepen it. This time Lapis was the one who brought their bodies together, walking a bit to the side and pressing the blonde gently against the wall. Peridot pulled away for a bit to take a breath before kissing her again. And again. They kissed countless times before Lapis parted with her. “Very soon.”

Peridot’s legs were about to give in as the girl walked through the door for a last time. Turning around for one final look over her shoulder, Lapis smiled, “Thank you, Peridot.” And then she left.

“No,” Peridot whispered to herself. “Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Lapis fell. The woman clapped her hands once, furious.

“Again!”

Lapis got up and climbed the balance beam for the fifteenth time. Her knees were sore and the palms of her hands were completely red and scratched, but she had to keep trying again and again and again, until the witch was satisfied. She took a deep breath and balanced herself on the thin space, then stepped forward once, twice, and after getting enough impulse, she put both hands on the bar and turned upside down. Her legs lifted in the air and she could feel her arms shaking from the pain, almost as if they were being ripped apart. She clenched her teeth and slowly controlled her decent to the other side. When she felt the tip of her toe touching something solid, she exhaled and let her weight fall slowly to her left. Then she removed her palms from the bar, and with both feet grounded, Lapis stood up with impeccable posture on her feet.

“Magnificent!” The woman got up and started cheering. “Perfect posture! And all it took was some incentive. Wasn’t she wonderful, Jasper?”

“She was,” The buffy girl replied stoically.

“Now come here and give your mother a hug,” She approached Lapis quickly and suffocated her, shaking her fragile figure from side to side. Then she let her go. “I’ll treat you tonight. Let’s go to that restaurant you like.”

Lapis nodded and Jasper noticed her shoulders were shaking from the extreme strain put on them.

“Now go change. And here,” She took a comb from her purse. “Make yourself presentable. Dry your face, put your beautiful hair up. And don’t forget to wash your hands, God knows you’ve been touching that dirty bar for an hour now.” Then she turned to Jasper. “You, go with your sister. Comb this mane of yours, too. Don’t take too long.”

Both girls put their heads down and left for the gym’s bathroom. There was no one else inside the place and the first thing Lapis did was wash her sore palms. There was blood in them, but it had been hurting for so long now that she barely felt anything anymore. Jasper stood beside her and looked down at the wounds. “Do they hurt?”

As soon as her hands touched the water she winced. “Yeah.”

“Bitch,” Jasper scoffed, referring to the woman outside. Lapis breathed out a sarcastic laugh and finished her hygiene. She dried up her hands the best she could without tearing off more skin and then looked over at the comb. Jasper noticed she was having difficulties grabbing it, so she did it for her. “Here, let me help.”

“I’m fine.”

“Don’t be stubborn,” Jasper scolded. “If we take too long she’s gonna be pissed.”

Lapis had no arguments against that so she let Jasper run her stubby fingers through her hair. It was weird, the sensation of having that girl touching her so softly and intimately. They’ve been together since she was five, and yet they’ve never been this close.

Jasper combed it as best as she could and then tied it up in a ponytail. “There.”

Lapis turned around and looked at the mirror, surprised at the result. The taller girl had never been good when it came to delicate handwork, but her hair was decently centered and in a good height. She looked back at Jasper over her shoulder and let out a sincere “Thanks.”

“W-whatever,” Jasper crossed her arms. “Now go change while I try not to break this comb with my ‘mane’.”

Lapis giggled slightly and got into one of the bathroom stalls. Jasper’s cheeks reddened at the sound and she turned back to the mirror.

She was surprised to see an unconscious smile on her face.


The suburban neighborhood seemed dull after a night spent in the city, but Lapis was already used to the calmness of the surroundings. Upon leaving the train station, she bumped into the old lady who owned a flower shop near her house. Since they were going to the same direction, Lapis indulged her in a conversation that ended up being more about the woman’s grandchildren than any other topic. Lapis didn’t mind, though, and politely listened to everything she had to say about how Jenny and Kiki were completely different people even though they were twins. Lapis didn’t know either of those girls, but agreed with Nanefua.

It didn’t take long for them to reach the flower shop, and Lapis bid the grandmother goodbye. Nanefua then asked her to hold on and came out with a small cactus vase. “A gift for being such a good listener.” She said, and Lapis smiled and thanked the kind gesture.

Walking two more blocks, she met with Ronaldo and Peedee, two eccentric brothers who usually didn’t hang out together. The younger one held a camera while the older apparently recorded a documentary, and Lapis carefully avoided the lens; she didn’t want to ruin such an important feature film.

Finally arriving at the third block, she turned right and was finally on her street. There was someone in front of her door and her stomach dropped when she realized it was Jamie, the mailman. She breathed in deeply and calmed herself down before walking over to the man. “Good afternoon, Jamie.”

“Oh, hello miss Lazuli!” The mailman made a theatrical reverence. “What a coincidence for us to meet here, at your doorstep. Alas, some would call it fate.”

Lapis tried to indulge on his pompous act, but her eye wouldn’t stop staring at the box in his hands. It was big, which meant lots of things inside. “What have you got there?”

“This, my lady, is what some would call a Pandora Box!” That had been a joke, but it was the absolute truth. “Dangerous things await those who open it… but maybe you can bring peace to this town, instead of chaos.”

It’s chaos, alright.

“I don’t think I’m the right one for the job,” She played it off nervously. “Maybe you could take it back to the post office. Since it’s so dangerous.” There was nothing else she could possibly want more than have that box away from her, but she doubted Jamie would fall for this.

“Ha! Indeed, I could. But…” He took a deep breath and then returned to talk casually. “Barb would yell at me. Can you sign this?”

Lapis sighed. “Yeah… sure.” She signed the paper and put down her cactus so Jamie could give her the box in hands. “Thanks, Jamie.”

“No problem! Someone must really like you out there. You receive gifts every week!” His innocent smile was pure and he had meant that with no intentions of harming her at all, but unfortunately the damage had already been done. “It’s funny how the person doesn’t leave their address on the packages, though. I guess they know you won’t be returning the presents!”

“Shut up,” Her whisper was so low that she barely heard it.

“What was that?”

“N-nothing! Listen, I’m gonna go inside now. Have a good day,” Lapis spoke quickly and pushed the door open with her shoulder. As soon as it closed, she dropped the heavy box on the carpet and touched her back on the wall, sliding down to the floor. Her hand instinctively grabbed a cigarette and she lit it up, not caring that she was in the middle of the living room. Looking up at the ceiling, her mind started swirling with thoughts.

She puffed out the smoke and gazed at the box, kicking it once to let off some steam. Suddenly, she remembered that Steven was probably home. If he walked in right now, he would see her in a pitiful state. She had to get a grip, but it was harder than it looked, so her voice did her a favor.

“Steven? Are you home?” She yelled and it echoed through the corridors. The boy normally came running downstairs at this point, so the silence was all the answer she needed. Lapis dropped her head low and grabbed her cellphone to text.

[Lapis, 3:30pm]: i got a big box in the mail

She placed her phone down, not really expecting a reply right away, but not a minute later the device buzzed.

[Jasper, 3:30pm]: What’s inside?

[Lapis, 3:30pm]: haven’t opened it

[Jasper, 3:31pm]: You should probably check if it’s food, at least. If you leave it alone it’s gonna spoil.

The woman had a point. With a frustrated loud sigh and an enormous amount of effort, she managed to crawl to the box and open the damn thing. Inside there were quite a few things: A shampoo for dehydrated locks, a lineless notebook, some pencils and markers, two perfumes, soap, a pair of shoes. Everything was expensive, as they normally were, and Lapis was about to throw it all in the trashcan when she spotted the thing underneath all the other objects. It was a dress.

A blue dress.

She was going to be sick.

[Lapis, 3:33pm]: she sent me a fucking dress

[Jasper, 3:33pm]: ?

[Lapis, 3:33pm]: a fucking blue dress jasper the same exact one she made me wear for years

[Jasper, 3:34pm]: Hell no.

Lapis was angry. Everything that the woman had sent her for the past years had been a nuisance, a reminder of her grip on Lapis’ life even after she ran away from home, but nothing had felt so personal as that cursed piece of clothing. It reminded her of every single terrible thing she’d been put through in her childhood, and she wanted it gone. Now.

Grabbing her lighter, Lapis walked away from the box and opened the backdoor to the garden. Her long and heavy steps crushed the grass beneath and she held out the dress with one hand, and lit up the lighter with the other.

Slow and steady, she lit the dress on fire.

It wasn’t impressive at first since the flames were barely moving, but soon the heat increased and the fire grew rapidly. The shadows danced across her face as she looked at the flames consuming a piece of her past, and the orange glow on her skin was as eerie as her expression. Lapis only let it go once the flames reached her arm and she felt a tinge of pain, but on her fury she had barely recognized the danger. Then the grass started catching fire and she grabbed the extinguisher from the kitchen. It took her a while to put it all out, but she didn’t care. The dress was gone.

Lapis looked down at the mess and decided that she would deal with that later. The scorched patch of ground was the least of her problems now, and she grabbed her phone again as she felt it buzzing.

[Jasper, 3:36pm]: You there?

[Jasper, 3:37pm]: Don’t do anything stupid.

[Jasper, 3:42pm]: Hello??

[Lapis, 3:44pm]: too late

[Jasper, 3:44pm]: Goddammit what did you do?

[Lapis, 3:44pm]: i destroyed it

[Jasper, 3:44pm]: What does that even mean?

[Lapis, 3:45pm]: that i lit the dress on fire on my backyard

[Jasper, 3:45pm]:

[Jasper, 3:46pm]: Holy shit, Lapis.

[Lapis, 3:46pm]: yeah well it’s gone now forever and if she pulls this shit again i’m gonna find her

[Jasper, 3:46pm]: And do what?

[Lapis, 3:47pm]: haven’t thought this far yet

[Jasper, 3:47pm]: Psh, right.

Lapis walked into the kitchen again and lit another cigarette. She sat down on the floor, and clenched her fists. She couldn’t believe her entire amazing day was ruined because of a single piece of clothing.

It was not fair.

It was not fair that she was still a subject of that woman’s twisted mind games and it was not fair that she couldn’t be free. She had tried everything to escape her. She had run away from home, she had run away from her city, and still the witch found her and locked her up again. And it was not fair that talking to Jasper about all of this just made her feel worse. The shackles that bound Lapis and Jasper together were too tight and too big for them to handle on their own, but what could they do when there was no one else to turn to?

She exhaled a cloud of smoke.

[Lapis, 3:50pm]: im tired

[Jasper, 3:51pm]: I know.

[Lapis, 3:51pm]: why cant she leave us alone?

No answer for a while. She sucked in the fumes.

[Jasper, 3:52pm]: Because we won’t let her.

Lapis threw the phone across the room and buried her head on her knees.

She hated when Jasper was right.

Chapter Text

The door to Peridot’s room slammed open.

“I need to rant, bear with me.” Amethyst announced and jumped on her bed without a second thought. The blonde groaned loudly and covered her head from the brightness of the hallway, having very vivid flashbacks of a few nights ago when she did the exact same thing to her best friend – right now, there was nothing else she regretted more. She forgot how vengeful Amethyst could be.

“Go on,” Amethyst continued and Peri got confused.

“What.”

“Say it.”

“Say what.

“How much you’re sorry that you’ve woken me up like this the other day, how annoying I am, and how much you love me.” Amethyst kicked her shoes off and got comfy under the covers. “In this particular order, not necessarily this close to each other time-wise.”

“Fuck off.”

“Good enough for now,” She snorted and poked her back. “Where’s Lapis?”

“Went home,” Peridot really wanted to go back to sleep to be able to function properly at work in a couple of hours, but Amethyst was in a talkative mood and she really didn’t mind talking about Lapis for a bit. “Train.”

“Didn’t even offer to ride her home? Cold.”

“I did. She refused. Took the rain.” Peridot buried her head on the pillow.

“Too soon, eh? I get it, sometimes people need space.” Amethyst propelled her head in one hand as she lied on her side and looked at the wall above Peridot’s head, contemplating. “Also, from ‘when hell freezes over’ to ‘of fucking course’, do you think I could get a kiss from both my bosses in less than a month? Asking for a friend.”

The sentence was met with a silent hum and no action for a few seconds before Peridot lifted her torso quicker than anything Amethyst has ever seen her do. “Bosses?? You got the job?!”

“Jesus Christ!” The brunette put a hand on her chest, actually terrified. “Don’t do that Exorcist shit ever again.”

“Amethyst! Did you?” The bartender’s eyes were shining with anticipation and Amethyst really couldn’t break her heart at this point, so she just confirmed it.

“Call me Receptionyst,” Then she paused. “Wait. That was intended to be a pun on my name but I fucked up. Its funnier when you write it down.”

“This is so great!” Peridot then jumped into her best friend’s arms and both fell down on the bed, laughing. Things were finally looking up for them after such a long time of hardships and Peridot’s blood and sweat keeping them under a roof together, and she couldn’t be prouder. There would be no need to buy the worst instant ramen anymore; they’d finally be able to purchase the real ones. And they could even start buying sodas again, which was something Peridot dearly missed on her daily life. And who knows? Maybe they could add some good chocolate in it as well. And beer that didn’t taste like piss. What a time to be alive.

“Alright get off, your nerd is gonna stick on me.” Amethyst laughed and pushed the other girl back gently. “Also, I’d just like to point out that my butterfly tattoos were decisive in the choice to hire me.”

Peridot scoffed. “Right.”

“I’m serious, Garnet complimented them!” Amethyst lifted her arm and stroked the stickers on her skin. “Come on, you gotta admit that this was a smart move.”

“Never.”

“Sore loser,” She put her arm down and smirked. “And you haven’t answered my question.”

“What question?” Peridot took a moment to recall that there was actually more information on her previous sentence than just the words ‘my bosses’. “Oh my god, don’t.”

“You don’t understand, they’re so pretty.”

“Amethyst, I’m serious. You can’t get fired from this!” Peridot knew she had more common sense than that, but worrying about Ame’s impulses was ingrained in her core. “Don’t make out with your bosses.”

“Lame,” The brunette lied back down, closing her eyes. “Fine, I’ll just be friendly. For now.” Peridot shot her a very unamused look. “Relax, I’m joking.”

The blonde knew she wasn’t, but decided to drop the subject for now. Just the fact that she had gotten this job was already enough to let the girl off the hook, so she settled back on the sheets again. Looking over at her clock, Peridot sighed at the time; she still had three hours till her shift, and now with the adrenaline of the good news running fresh in her system, she knew that there was no way to go back to sleep. Peridot looked over at Amethyst and smiled, poking her ribs. “So tell me, how did it all go?”

“Well, it all began with me being hit in the chest by the sight of a pink-haired angel.” Peridot rolled her eyes, but allowed her to continue. “And then another pink and blue-haired deity showed up and I was like, really? I’m just a small gay, you can’t do this to me.”

“You’re bisexual.” Peridot corrected her.

“Details, Per. Anyway, there I was, with a Cupid’s arrow stuck on my chest and another on my ass, when they started asking me…”

She listened as Amethyst talked and tried to stop smiling, but failed. Her day had been great so far and just kept getting better, and Peridot’s mind started wandering off to Lapis’ kiss at some point, which only made the corners of her mouth widen and her stomach flutter with a warm feeling.

She really hoped that Lapis would show up at the pub that night.


When Steven got home he wasn’t expecting to see Lapis, specially not in the state she was in.

The woman was lying down sprawled in the living room couch with the TV turned on as the images flickered and reflected on her features. The lights were off in the whole house, and her left arm was hanging out from the safety of the white couch, her fingertips gently touching the glass ashtray on the floor. There was a cigarette in between them, and by counting the contents on the ashtray, it was her seventh. Lapis usually smoked compulsively when she was feeling down, and Steven got immediately worried.

“Lapis? I’m home,” He announced carefully, not wanting to startle her.

“Steven.” She honestly wanted to have the strength to pull herself together quickly, but her limbs failed her. Lapis hated to show weakness like this in front of the boy, but there were times when she just couldn’t help it. At least he was comprehensible about it – this wasn’t the first time Steven got home to such a sight. “Hey.”

“Hey…” He approached slowly, sitting down next to her. He noticed she had been watching a documentary about how crayons were made. “Are you okay?”

“I’ll be fine,” She forced her body to sit up straight. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Steven smiled softly, touching her back. “You don’t need to get up. I’m happy to see you at home.”

Lapis smiled tiredly and with his permission, laid back down with a sigh. Her eyes focused once again on the show in the screen and Steven stood by her side for a bit trying to enjoy it. When he saw her hand move towards her jacket pocket where she normally stored her cigarettes, he cleared his throat. “Hey, uh… Connie invited us for dinner this week, what do you think? She lives in this really big house with a pool and everything! I mean, it’s pretty much the size of ours, but her garden is bigger. And we can eat outside!”

The woman stopped and dropped her arm. She hadn’t even realized what she was doing and cursed herself for that. “That sounds nice.”

“Yeah!” Excited with the response, Steven continued. “I don’t think you two ever met, huh? Her parents are a bit scary, but they’re really nice people. And Connie is really cool, too! She’s so smart, I bet you’d love to hear all the awesome book recommendations she has.”

Lapis hummed in agreement, not really in the mood to go out and meet adults she didn’t know – not that she wasn’t one herself, she was 25 after all. Her brain just told her that she would be an embarrassment to Steven’s friend and that if her parent’s saw the kind of person he was living with, they’d call his dad. And then the boy would leave her, and she would be all alone again in that huge house.

And she couldn’t be alone.

“Maybe you could invite her to come here instead,” The words left her mouth before she could stop them in a desperate attempt to come up with an excuse to not see Connie’s parents.

“Oh…” Steven frowned and thought about it for a second. Then his face lit up. “Yes! Lapis, that’s a great idea! I’ll call her right away and ask!” he got up and ran to the kitchen, where the closest phone was located, and Lapis wasn’t quick enough to stop him.

“Steven, wait!” She jumped off the couch, but it was too late. On her pathetic attempt to throw the contents of the box away, Lapis had given up midway and just stuffed everything that could fit inside the trashcan. The shoes were popping out of the can, and the ashes of the dress that she’d managed to pick up from the yard were scattered on the floor messily. The fire extinguisher was also lying next to the clutter, uncared for.

The boy stopped next to the phone with a shocked expression and Lapis felt like she needed to explain, “I-I was going to clean it up, I just— I forgot about it, and then you got home and I—”

“That’s all hers, isn’t it?” The boy interrupted, walking slowly to check the objects in the pile. “The bad lady that keeps sending you things you don’t like.”

Lapis felt herself starting to shake and gripped her arms. “…I’ll deal with this, just leave it be.”

“But you don’t have to deal with this alone,” Steven turned to her, his eyes teary. “I know you don’t like to talk about it, and that it’s heavy for you, but… but I worry so much, Lapis! Every time we get something on the mail you get so sad and upset. I just—” Steven approached her, rubbing his face. “I wish you could let me help you…”

“Steven, please, don’t—” She kneeled down to come face to face with him and touched his shoulder. “Don’t cry. This is not something I can make you bear for me. Please understand, this thing… This woman, I’ve been dealing with her for twenty years. You weren’t even born when this whole mess started. I’ll be okay. I promise.”

Steven knew she was lying, and his heart, that had so much love to give to others, just hurt when Lapis shut him out. He knew it wasn’t his problem and that he wasn’t going to be able to make everything go away like that. And still, he always tried tirelessly and selflessly to cheer her up whenever possible.

And Lapis felt like a monster each time she denied his help, but that was just how things had to be. This boy was too good for the cruelties of the world, and way too good to her, and she spent every day thinking that she didn’t deserve a friend like Steven Universe by her side.

“Hey,” She ruffled his hair, trying for a fake smile. “How about that call to Connie? We can go shopping for ingredients together for our dinner.”

Steven looked up and nodded, smiling back. “Okay.” As he dialed, Lapis moved to the trashcan and started undoing the mess.

She grabbed a vacuum cleaner for the ashes and put the rest of the things on a larger plastic bag, tying it in a knot and then putting it on the larger can outside their house for the garbage truck. When she got back inside, Lapis turned on the lights and changed channels to something more cheerful. She threw all the cigarettes in the glass ashtray away and put the object back to where it belonged, together with her pack of cigs. Doing all of that took a toll on her sedentary body, and she crashed on the couch once she was done. Her back was hurting, and she thought she might be getting old.

Steven came back shortly after and sat next to her with two sandwiches in hands. “Made one for you.”

“Thanks,” Lapis smiled, truly grateful for the treat; she was starting to get hungry. The two friends stood in silence as an action movie aired, munching contently on their food, when Steven spoke.

“Is there anyone who knows?”

This caught her off guard. “What?”

“This problem with this lady,” He explained. “If you can’t talk to me about it, then maybe you could talk to someone else?”

Her first thought was obviously Jasper, but Steven didn’t know about her, and she intended to keep it this way. If there was one thing she wanted to keep him away from, was Jasper. She was sure the woman also never told people about Lapis either, as if this was some sort of silent agreement between them, one that she appreciated.

But then her thoughts shifted to another person, someone new and that had been the source of many happy moments for Lapis lately. A little blonde bartender who carried the entire universe inside her, and whose words made cracks in the wall that Lapis had been building up for twenty years; whose touch healed instead of causing pain, and whose eyes shone with genuine admiration each time Lapis spoke. She didn’t want to bring her past up with Peridot, but that didn’t mean that she had to shut herself home because of it. She was tired of the witch having control over how she felt every time she sent a goddamn package in the mail.

Lapis realized that she really wanted to talk to Peridot right now.

Immediately, in fact.

“…Yes,” She finally answered, then looked down at the rest of her sandwich and wolfed it down. Then Lapis got up, and turned to Steven. “I could.”

He blinked, but soon understood and smiled back. “Be safe.”

With a nod, Lapis grabbed her keys and ran outside.

Chapter Text

It was exactly 9:00pm when Peridot arrived at the pub, and exactly 9:13pm when a blue-haired mess of a person walked into the place gasping for air, as if she’d just run a marathon.  There was hardly anyone present in the place yet, since the old-timers knew that the party just started at 11:00pm, but the ones that were there went quiet and turned around to stare. Lapis stood still, just breathing heavily and recovering from her run from the train station before lifting her head and making eye contact with the one she went through all that for.

“Lapis!” Of course, Peridot exclaimed her name before she could. Lapis felt a rush of fondness immediately, and smiled; it was amazing what the mere sight of this girl did to her, and for a fraction of a second, she felt like things could be okay. After finally getting a grip, she walked towards the bar, where the blonde was getting her tools ready for another busy night. “You came tonight.”

“I did.” Lapis sat down in front of her.

“I was hoping you would,” As always, she was very open and honest with her feelings, which made Lapis’ smile broaden. She felt wanted, which was new and very weird, but in a good way.

“Yeah?” Her throat was dry and itchy from the exercise, but she wanted to let Peridot know how much she actually wanted to be there. “I, uh… I ran all the way here, actually.”

“Is everything okay?” Peridot got worried with that statement. “Wait, before that.” She bent down and grabbed a bottle of water, handing it to her. “On the house. You look really thirsty.”

Lapis let out a breathless chuckle, thankful for the drink, and gulped it down almost entirely. Peridot waited for her to finish with a soft glint in her eyes and a gentle giddiness in her chest. Lapis finally put the bottle down and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Thanks.”

“Your hair is so messy,” Peridot had been staring at it for a while and spoke without really thinking. Then she realized that the remark was probably rude and flinched. “I mean, in a good way!”

Lapis couldn’t help but laugh, still a little breathless. “No, it’s pretty bad.” She ran her fingers through it, pushing it back, and Peridot’s cheeks flushed at the sight – God, she was beautiful. Her pink-tinged cheeks from the exhaustion, the tiny gleam of sweat on her cheeks that made her innumerous freckles stand out, the way her chest moved up and down as she tried to control her breathing. Peridot wasn’t one to fall for people solely because of their looks, but holy shit that was just unfair. Everything surrounding Lapis looked so alive.

She wished the girl saw herself the way Peridot saw her.

“Besides,” Lapis’ hand left her hair and the bangs fell over her eyes again, as she smirked. “A good messy hair looks completely different.”

The innuendo didn’t pass unnoticed by the short gay bartender and she felt herself having aneurysm. “Y-you haven’t answered my question!”

“What question?” The smug expression didn’t leave her face.

“If you’re okay!” Peridot crossed her arms, still a nervous wreck. For a moment she saw Lapis’ expression falter a bit, and right away knew that the answer was no.

“I’m fine.” And obviously she lied. Lapis had left home in a frenzy ready to talk to Peridot about anything at all, and she was even ready to accept the consequences of what would happen if she opened up to her. But now, eye-to-eye with the blonde, and having fun despite being emotionally exhausted a few minutes ago, she didn’t want to. The bad feelings and thoughts were like a dark cloud that followed her wherever she went, but right now Lapis didn’t want to think. She just wanted to push that away and feel the things Peridot made her feel. So she lied, and she would keep lying if it meant getting to spend time with her like this.

“Are you sure?” Peridot decided to nudge just a little further, but when Lapis nodded, she dropped it. Sometimes it was better to leave things be, and she had a feeling that the girl would talk to her if she felt ready to. “Alright, miss marathoner.”

“With my lungs? Hardly,” Lapis took another sip of water.

“The cigarettes, huh?” Peridot rolled her eyes, teasingly. “I swear, you and Amethyst are long lost siblings. Can’t go jogging for a second that you already start heaving.”

“The price to pay for an addiction.” The words resonated on her head and cut deeper than she intended to. Her nicotine dependence wasn’t something that she had planned, but rather it was imposed on her – like most of her toxic habits, honestly. She had tried to grow out of it, but just like Jasper said, she wouldn’t allow herself to. The smoke on her lungs was a reminder that, just like the cigarettes, the witch would be a part of her life for as long as she breathed. It was a rather depressing thought, but one she was accustomed with.

“Maybe you should find better things to get addicted to.” Peridot casually remarked as she walked away to fill a cup of beer. The words were thrown out there with no second intentions – it was just what she usually told Amethyst – but they weighted on Lapis a lot. It looked like such an easy solution; distracting herself from what made her sad with other things that made her happy. It was something Lapis had been trying to do her whole life, but what kind of thing could she get attached to if she didn’t even know what happiness was?

Hell, she was five when that woman decided to mold her into her personal freak show. That changed a person’s sense of reality.

“Hey, stranger!” The thoughts were going to a dangerous place, but were interrupted by Sadie’s cheerful greeting. “Good to see you again!”

“Y-yeah.” Lapis finished her water bottle. “Nice to see you too.”

“I see things are working out great with Peri,” The chubby blonde waitress rested her tray on the balcony and adjusted her apron. “At least it looks like it, anyway. I could be completely wrong and you two hate each other.”

“She did just trade my company for a beer, so…” Lapis joked, trying her best not to bring everybody around her down.

“Oh, she does that to everyone.” Sadie laughed, picking up her tray again. “Something tells me she will be back for you soon, though. There are not many people who party on Mondays.”

“It’s still pretty early, too.” Lapis looked around and there were indeed a small crowd just chatting and eating fries on the tables. Just some lonely souls sat at the bar, and even then they stared at their phones the whole time while sipping their drinks. She got briefly curious about their reasons to be drinking on a Monday night with such gloomy faces, but then again she didn’t have the right to judge anyone.

“Sour Cream starts DJ’ing at eleven, so until then you’ll be pretty much free to talk. I, on the other hand,” She grunted with a stretch. “Still need to take some orders. Have a fun night, Lapis.”

“Good luck.” And with that, Sadie was gone. Peridot returned a few seconds later, and both girls chatted in a calm pace, much differently than when they first talked. Peri still had to leave now and then to mix up some drinks, but overall everything was peaceful.

At 10pm a few more costumers walked in.

At 11pm, Lapis decided to order her first alcoholic drink of the night as Sour Cream climbed up the stage.

At 12am, the tables were almost all full and the dancefloor started to get heated.

At 1am, Lapis ordered her third drink and Peridot introduced her to Jenny and Buck, and Lapis remembered Nanefua talking about her grandchildren. Jenny was completely ecstatic that Lapis knew her grandmother and they chatted for a long, long time while Peridot got busier with the orders.

At 2am, Jenny, Buck and Lapis toasted with three shots of tequila, and afterwards the couple asked her to dance with them. Lapis found out that they were Sour Cream’s boyfriend and girlfriend and smiled at the happy polyamorous relationship. It was the first time she’d ever seen one, and got unexpectedly giddy over the new experience and the new people she was able to meet that night. Peridot’s friends were truly kind and compassionate, which only reinforced what she already knew: That girl was full of love.

And maybe it was the drinks getting to her head and the heat of the dancefloor warming her up from the inside, but Lapis felt a sudden overflow of emotion taking over and had to excuse herself to walk over to the bar.

“Peridot!” She yelled over the blasting music, crashing into people on her way, but not giving a single damn. The bartender turned around after delivering a man’s Margarita and approached Lapis with a grin.

“You okay?” She yelled back.

“Dance with me!”

“What?”

Lapis smiled dumbly, grabbing one of her wrists. “Come dance with me!”

Peridot looked back to the bar where someone else was already calling for her and shot her an apologetic look. “I can’t, I—”

“Just for a little bit! Look,” The blue-haired girl looked around and spotted who she was looking for. She sprung an arm into the crowd and dragged Sadie out of it all of a sudden. “Sadie can take over for you!”

“Sadie can do what now?” The woman in question asked, confused.

“Take care of the bar while Peridot dances with me,” Lapis was so focused on her task that she disregarded anyone else right now. “It will be so quick, please Sadie. The other waitresses can take care of the tables for thirty minutes.”

“I—” Sadie was about to refuse because hell, they were at rush hour, but something on the way Lapis was looking at her, almost desperately so, made her reconsider in a heartbeat. “Oh fuck it, why not.”

“What?!” Peridot was stunned and let her jaw drop when the waitress took off her apron.

“Just go already! But if you’re not back in thirty minutes I’m gonna go in there and I’m gonna drag your ass back.” She smirked with a punch on Peridot’s arm.

“Thank you!” Lapis jumped up and down and pulled the cute stuttering blonde along with her. “Come on!”

And just like that Peridot was in the middle of the dancefloor, with this incredibly beautiful girl smiling stupidly at everything and everyone. Alright, she was definitely pretty drunk, but not enough to fall down face-first on the floor as soon as people bumped into her. The beat changed to a really cheerful song and everyone started singing loudly along with the lyrics, creating a really funny chorus of wasted human beings. Despite working on the pub for almost three years now, Peridot had hardly ever gotten near the speakers of that place. Her home was behind the bar, on the very opposite side of the dancefloor, so all she ever did was watch as bodies moved from the distance.

Being right in the middle of it, though, was exhilarating. Peridot usually felt uncomfortable with people touching her and cramped spaces, but being in the heart of everything with Lapis gave her an enormous sense of freedom that she never imagined to experience. She also noticed that the people dancing next to them weren’t strangers at all, but very familiar faces; Jenny and Buck, the birthday girl from a week ago, costumers that came pretty much every night to just have a good time, a man who literally never left the dancefloor whenever he decided to crash at the pub. All of those people recognized Peridot immediately and shot her huge smiles as they danced around them. She could faintly hear the cheers of “Peri’s here!” and her heart swelled with appreciation.

She felt amazing. That was such a good idea.

Then Peridot felt a hand touching her face and realized it was Lapis urging her to look her in the eyes. And oh, she did. It was like the crowd simply vanished in the background and all there was in the world was Lapis. Her messy hair bumped up and down as she jumped, and Peridot awkwardly tried to match her dance. She wasn’t much of a dancer, but that didn’t matter when Lapis was looking at her like that, moving with such vibrancy and color, such… happiness. She twirled around, moving her feet to the beat perfectly and then she bent down and her lips were on Peri’s and nothing else mattered.

Time stood still, but not for long because soon the lips left her mouth as suddenly as they arrived and Lapis laughed, grabbing Peridot’s hands and moving them along with her dance. Peridot couldn’t stop herself from joining in the laughter as well and she laughed so hard that her eyes filled with tears. Lapis swept a thumb through her cheeks and kissed her again. And again. This time the kiss lasted a lot longer and she felt Lapis’ tongue invading her mouth, and she reciprocated all the same. Then she felt lips moving to her cheek and then down her neck and a sharp pain shot through her whole body as Lapis bit down hard on the flesh. It was so sudden, but so fucking good that she involuntarily let out a moan.

Peridot thanked every single deity above for the loud music.

She thought that the hickey was over but apparently Lapis felt possessive, because her teeth made their way to the other side of her neck, biting just as intensely. Peridot threaded her fingers through the girl’s hair, biting her lower lip to stop herself from letting out another embarrassing sound. She felt Lapis smirking against her skin as she licked her way up to the hinge of her jaw and then her tongue was on Peridot’s mouth again. The kiss was so feral, nothing like the soft interactions they’ve had so far, and if there was one thing that Peridot learned that night was that she absolutely loved this side of Lapis too. And then she realized she loved every single side of this girl, and it was probably dangerous to think like this so early into this relationship, but Peridot had always been very honest with herself.

And right now she was sure she simply loved Lapis.

Eventually they had to stop kissing because Sadie wasn’t a girl of empty promises and she actually had walked into the crowd to drag Peridot’s ass back to the bar. Lapis let her go with a laugh and a half-baked apology to the waitress, who let her off the hook with a “That was a one-time thing, hear me?”

At 4am the pub was practically empty. Lapis was on the bar, resting her head down after finally getting too dizzy to stand up and being yanked away from the dancefloor with the help of Jenny and Buck. Peridot had given her another free water bottle, but Lapis insisted on paying for this one. She drank all of it and crashed on the balcony, a smile still lingering on her lips. Peridot stared at her fondly, still not quite recovered from the high from before, and scratched the top of her head gently.

“Finally passed out?” Sadie walked by, carrying a plate of nachos. And really, who ordered nachos at four in the morning?

“Yeah…” Peridot mumbled back, still focused on how Lapis’ hair felt in between her fingers.

“You okay, chief?”

The bartender was more than okay, but there was also something bugging her. “I just want her to remember this tomorrow.”

“I’m sure she will. And if she doesn’t, at least she left you a little gift to help her remember,” Sadie winked with a flicker of her eyes towards Peridot’s neck, and the bartender blushed, finally moving her hand. That wasn’t what she had meant, though. Sure she wanted Lapis to remember kissing her and biting her and driving her completely crazy, but most of all, she wanted her to remember how she felt while they were dancing.

Peridot was pretty sure Lapis was genuinely happy.

At 5am her shift was almost over and Lapis was still passed out, so Peridot did the sensible thing and decided that she was going to let her sleep on her house again that night. She wondered if Lapis was unemployed, since she was pissed drunk on a Monday, and then she realized that there were so many things about her life that she didn’t know. Peridot wanted to know everything about this woman, and this feeling had just doubled after that night.

At 6am Sadie helped her put Lapis on the back of her Vespa, and she finally rode home, very slowly to make sure she wouldn’t fall. And right before they arrived home, she felt Lapis shift against her back and bury her nose on the crook of Peridot’s neck with a really content sigh.

She could get used to this.

Chapter Text

To avoid further annoyances and vengeances in the future, this time Peridot made sure to get into her apartment as quietly as possible. Of course, this wasn’t that easy of a task when she had to basically drag Lapis’ limp body all the way upstairs and into the living room. Being shorter than her proved to be a really big challenge, and while Lapis’ legs did move eventually, she was still ridiculously heavy. Leaning against Peridot’s shoulder didn’t help much, but the bartender somehow managed to close the door with a foot and lots of grunts.

They stopped at the living room, and Peridot assessed the situation, calculating exactly what would be worse: She could either drop Lapis on the couch and leave her to rest there, or take the girl to her room and share a bed. The first choice was easily the most appealing right now, seeing as the blue-haired woman was slipping inch by inch from Peridot’s grip, but she also had to think of Amethyst; she would be waking up soon for her first day on the job, and Ame was known to be pretty loud in the mornings, especially early ones.

Now, taking Lapis to her room would require them to walk further right now, but the consequences the next day wouldn’t be so devastating. Amethyst would wake up without noticing a single thing, and Lapis would be able rest easily since Peri’s room was farther away from Amethyst’s than the living room. She also thought that Lapis would rather wake up next to her than in a strange couch all alone once she recovered her senses. And so, the bedroom it was.

“Alright, just a little longer, can you make it?” Peridot whispered, and Lapis’ head bobbed down, in some sort of understanding. They walked slowly in the darkness, step by step, and as soon as they reached the door, Peri pushed her in gently. She closed the door then with a foot, finally elbowing the lights on to see where exactly her bed was, and let Lapis go as smoothly as she could – which, to be fair, wasn’t smoothly at all. “Sorry!”

“Hmm…” Lapis grunted as she fell down in a twisted position, hugging the sheets close. Peridot sighed and stretched her sore arms, yawning. She looked over at the girl in her bed and grinned before going into the bathroom to wash up quickly. After brushing her teeth and putting on her alien pajamas, Peri went back to the room just to see Lapis slumped all over the mattress, leaving little space for her to lay on. She breathed out a laugh.

“Someone’s a bit spacious.” Peridot mumbled, sitting next to her and touching her back. Lapis just hummed and the bartender started stroking her shoulders, then her back, and finally her hair again, because she loved the feeling of it. Her eyes lost focus for a moment as she relaxed and took in everything that’d happened that night – from the giddiness of seeing Lapis at the bar on a Monday, to the thrill of their kisses on the dancefloor.

It was quite mind-boggling, how intense things seemed to be around Lapis – it felt like she just did whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, and Peridot had always yearned for something like that for herself, but didn’t really have the luxury. And that wasn’t a bad thing per se, because she was content with her life at the moment. She didn’t go on adventures (the closest thing to it was following Amethyst to strange places in the middle of the night, like a junkyard) or risked her life doing dangerous things (smoking one cigarette was already a stretch), but there wasn’t anything to complain about. She worked crazy hours, but met great people, so it was a fair trade; and every decision she had made led to meeting Lapis at one point, so really? Life was pretty good.

“A variable,” And as usual, her brain formed thoughts that her mouth tried to reproduce out of nowhere. “People usually look for a constant in their lives, but I never understood why. Variables are so much more exciting…”

Lapis sighed as she felt Peridot’s fingers running up and down her back, which told the bartender that she was still awake and listening. “Are you okay?”

“Keep talking…” Lapis’ voice was barely a whisper, muffled by a pillow she managed to snatch somehow. And had it been anyone else, Peridot would deny this request because she was always ashamed of the things she spilled involuntarily, but it wasn’t anyone else, it was Lapis who requested her to share these abstract words with her, and so she complied.

“It’s just… a variable is something unknown. It’s always changing, and the results depend on them. I like that about you. Which is weird for me to say because I’m always anxious about things and people, and I want to have a plan for everything. But that’s just normal, too.” She felt Lapis shifting beneath to finally give her space to lie down, and so she did. “We barely know each other, so… a variable. Is what you are, I mean.”

Lapis slightly opened her eyes as she turned away from Peridot to face the wall.

“But that’s fine, too. I’d love to know more about you, but in our own pace. I think we move differently. Much more…” Peridot struggled, frowning. She brought one hand up, which moved back and forth. “A flow. Like a stream of water? But one with lots of nuances. That sometimes halts because there is an obstacle blocking it, but eventually moves on. I know I already compared you to the river, but… that’s not really what I’m talking about now. Does that even make sense?” It was a standard question, and when Lapis didn’t answer, Peridot assumed that she had finally blacked out. It didn’t bother her, so she turned around and closed her eyes as well.

It was a nice feeling, sharing a bed with someone. It was a whole lot different from when she used to sleep with Amethyst because they didn’t have the money to buy another bed, but Peri couldn’t put in words the exact difference. She felt relaxed.

“I’m scared.” Lapis’ voice cracked the delicate atmosphere suddenly and Peridot immediately snapped her eyes open. She moved again to stare at her back.

“Of what?” She asked, quietly. A moment passed, and then two, and the stillness of the room suddenly felt a bit suffocating.

“…Of losing you.” Lapis confessed after what seemed like an eternity. “Of scaring you. I’m scary.”

Peridot waited for her to continue because she was sure there was a lot Lapis wanted to talk about right now, even though she seemed to be completely exhausted. When she didn’t, Peridot spoke. “You’re not scary.”

“You don’t know me.”

“Would you let me?” There wasn’t an answer. “Know you.”

Lapis shook her head faintly. “You don’t want to.”

But she did, and oh, how much so. There was nothing else Peridot wanted more at this point in her 24 years of existence than to know Lapis. “You know,” She swallowed and scooted closer to her body, trying a different approach. “When we first talked at the pub, I remember telling Amethyst the next day all the details about you. I rambled at 7am about how incredible you were and how much I wanted to see you again, and she almost hit me in the jaw.”

Lapis snickered quietly at that.

“And back then all I wanted was to… know you. This feeling hasn’t changed at all.” A yawn made its way out of her mouth, and she closed her eyes. “It’s okay if you don’t want to share anything right now. Just know that I’ll be here, either way.”

Once again, all that they could hear was some birds outside and a few occasional cars down the street. The silence was mortifying, and Lapis clutched the sheets strongly until her knuckles went white. She was going to spill it. She was still a bit light-headed, the blue dress was still on her mind, and Jasper wasn’t around to shut her thoughts out with an orgasm. She shouldn’t have drunk so much. Now she was about to lose Peridot because she couldn’t keep her damn past to herself.

“It’s so much,” Lapis closed her eyes tightly. “It’s too heavy and I can’t carry it by myself, and I’m about to— to drop all of it on you. I can’t— I can’t do this. It’s not fair to you, it’s not…”

Peridot had been almost asleep, but woke up at the sound of her stuttering voice. She tentatively wrapped an arm around Lapis’ torso, her small figure fitting perfectly against the taller girl’s back, and she whispered against her shoulder. “It’s okay. I can take it.”

Lapis let out a stupid sob – look at that, she was actually shedding tears over the woman again– and exhaled. “…Okay.” She removed herself from Peridot’s grip to turn around and stare at the bartender in the darkness. If she was going to ruin everything, the least she could do was face her.


I grew up in an orphanage in another Estate. I never knew my parents, and never wanted to. They abandoned me, and that was all.

The orphanage was a good place. There were lots of kids my age that had also been through the same thing, so we bonded fairly quickly. I loved the children there, we were like family. I played with them every day in the yard, we had breakfast, lunch and dinner together, we took showers together, we dressed up with the same clothes because we thought it was fun.

I loved the people in charge of the orphanage, too. Mr. Smiley was always telling jokes and Mr. Frowny always looked sad, but we managed to cheer him up often; he was also a great cook. Madame B.D. was the headmaster, and we were a bit scared of her, but she always meant well. My favorite was Miss Quartz, though. She taught us the alphabet and the wonders of the world, and for a good part of my life I never wanted to leave. But Miss Quartz started filling our heads with ideas of amazing things beyond the orphanage walls, and how great it would be once we got adopted by a loving family, and I started to get excited at the prospect. Being adopted suddenly seemed nice.

Despite being friends with most of the kids there, there was a girl I could never get close with. Her name was Jasper, and she was 3 years older than me. Madame B.D. told us that we had arrived at their doorstep on the same night, and that we should probably try to be nice to each other, but something about her threw me off. It was like she pushed everyone away on purpose. Maybe she wasn’t as comfortable with being an orphan as I was. I didn’t know her story.

When I was five and Jasper eight, we were adopted together by a single woman.

Her name was Merga.

She looked regal, almost like a celebrity. White hair up on a bun, a green dress and black heels, sunglasses, heavy silver jewelry adorning her thin wrists and neck, beautiful make-up. She was fourty-five years-old and had a pompous aura around her. Not a single wrinkle, not even on the corners of her mouth or in between her eyebrows. She introduced herself as a businesswoman of sorts, and the first thing that struck me was the scent of perfume. It was strong, and she told us it was an expensive brand. The woman was rich and was never able to get married or bear children of her own, so she wanted to give all her love to us. I was immediately enchanted.

The day Jasper and I said goodbye to everyone at the orphanage, I was a bit saddened, but also excited. I finally had someone whom I could call a mother. But from then on, I would also have to call Jasper my sister. For some reason, however, I never could. Jasper wasn’t my sister. We weren’t even friends, so it was very awkward. I decided to not dwell on it.

We were shocked when the first place Merga took us to was an airport. “We are going to live in another Estate,” She told us. That took me completely by surprise, because I wanted to be able to visit the orphanage once in a while. I hadn’t been prepared to never see Mr. Smiley, Mr. Frowny, Miss Quartz and Madame B.D., or the other kids ever again. I cried all the way to our new house, but eventually accepted that this was a new life for me.

It took us a few years to realize why we had been taken away.

Merga had run away from the prying eyes of the orphanage. She didn’t want to be found, and she didn’t want us to be found. Still, everything she had told us had been true; she was indeed rich. She was a businesswoman, she wasn’t married, she didn’t have kids. Her perfumes were expensive and her house was a mansion. She had legally adopted us, and nothing could take us back.

And, as we found out later on, she owned a circus.

“There is one single rule in this house,” She told us, pleasant as always. “You will call me mother, or refer to me by my stage name, only. Merga doesn’t exist.”

We were confused by her words.

“I’m Malachite. Okay, dearies?”

And that was the name we grew up hearing from her phone calls, here and there. So that was what she became.

For the first few months, she was nice. Gentle, even. Always pleasant, always complimenting me and Jasper, treating us well, feeding us and letting us play with the innumerous toys she owned for some reason.

Then we found the room.

It was huge, filled with innumerous circus equipment, and by the way Malachite smiled when we asked her what those things were, I was sure she was waiting for us to find it. She took the time to teach us the proper names of each equipment. “That’s a trapeze. That is called a Tissu, and that’s an aerial hoop. Those are juggling balls, Devil Sticks, Diabolo, that’s a ring of fire. Go on, play with anything you like.”

We were kids, so of course we were hypnotized by the colorful tools. I took a liking to the balance beam and trapeze. I’d always been good at things that demanded stability and keeping my equilibrium, so I climbed them with ease. Jasper was too clumsy for things like that, so she played with other stuff. For some damned reason, the objects she was most curious about involved fire.

“Why is this called a ring of fire?” Jasper asked, and Malachite’s grin was almost feral. We didn’t notice it at the time, though – we assumed she was just happy to share her knowledge with someone. I remember when she told me to keep playing, and then took Jasper somewhere else. That night, Jasper came back with her eyes gleaming with excitement. “She showed me lots of videos of people juggling with fire, and other things! Did you know you can spit fire too?”

That scared me, but I didn’t give it much thought. It was also the first time I ever saw Jasper smiling so hard.

A few months later, mother came back home saying that she had enrolled us in some classes. We assumed she was talking about school, since we hadn’t been doing anything for almost a year now, but it was nothing like that – it was a circus course. Malachite had decided that we would be home schooled, but she was a terrible teacher. The courses seemed to be everything that mattered, and so we grew up thinking that they were indeed the most important part of our lives.

Five times a week, we would learn how to bend our bodies in strange ways, how to have a better grasp of our reflexes, how to fall down without hurting ourselves. And she would watch, and yell at us if we messed up. “Again!” She would scream. And we didn’t have a choice, because she wouldn’t let us rest until we did what she wanted.

I was doing alright in everything that involved flexibility and acrobatics, but Jasper was not. Malachite scolded her the most, and I felt bad for her because she cried at night in our room. It didn’t take long for me to realize that our mother was getting tired of Jasper’s repeated failures, because she started complimenting me a lot in front of her. “Isn’t Lapis good at what she does? Isn’t your sister pretty? She is definitely a prodigy. If only you could be like her.” Those words hurt both of us, but what could we do? We were just kids that had been thrown into a world completely unknown to us. There were no other children around where we lived, and we weren’t allowed to go out of the mansion. All we had was each other, Jasper and I.

One day when I was seven and Jasper ten, she decided that she was going to make mother love her as much as she loved me. So she stopped trying to be flexible, and started reading about fire tricks. She asked our teacher to guide her through the process of controlling fire, and begged her to keep it a secret from our mother. Jasper wanted to impress mother in a way that she would never forget. She was angry.

And then she became obsessed.

When Malachite wasn’t home, Jasper would grab the tools she stole from our teacher and practice on her own. Fire belts, fire fans, a fire staff, she wanted to be good at all of them. First she trained without actually lighting them up, but as she improved, she wanted more. Jasper barely talked to me anymore, and I was worried about her behavior. When she asked me to help her light up the fire fans, I refused, arguing that it was a terrible idea. Jasper got terribly mad at me, “You want mother to hate me, don’t you? You love to have all the attention to yourself. Go away, then! I don’t need your help!”

I tried to refute, I tried telling her this was getting out of control, but she wouldn’t listen. Jasper pushed me and lit the fans on fire, turning them around, precisely, firmly, without a single mistake. Once her performance was over, she put down the flames and smiled triumphantly at me, like she had won. I was sure Malachite would yell at her for stealing from the teacher, but all she did was finally praise her. “Good girl.”

When I was ten and Jasper thirteen, we were naturals at our inclinations. I stopped falling from the balance beam and the trapeze, and Jasper’s twirls with the fire tools were impeccable. Mother was happy with our results, and praised us both equally now. I thought things would finally be okay now that we were both the same under mother’s eyes, but they weren’t.

I was jealous.

Jasper had been right; I did want mother’s attention all to myself.

Because that was how she had raised us. I just realized that once I grew up, but everything Malachite did for us was like a set competition. “Jasper, would you help your mother carry these heavy bags? Oh, Lapis, you just stay there, you’re not strong enough for this. Lapis, I dropped my earrings somewhere, can you help me find it? If I asked your sister she would probably step on them and ruin it. Which one of you can eat this soup faster? Which one of you can open this jar for mother? I love how quickly you take your showers, Jasper, dear. Lapis is going to bankrupt me with these water bills. Which one of you…”

Which one. Which one. Which one.

I had always been the one. Now Jasper was at my level. I hated it. I wanted her to fail in front of mother again, because I wanted to be praised more.

And so I burned her.

I didn’t do it on purpose. I didn’t want things to get so out of hand, but at the end of the day, that accident happened because of me. She was about to perform in front of mother with the fire fans at the gym, and knowing exactly where she stepped in her routine, I bent the carpet so she would trip. It happened so suddenly that I didn’t have the time to process exactly how terrible the burns were. One of the fans fell straight on her face, and on her panic, she dropped the other one and stumbled right on top of it with her left arm.

I watched as the girl caught fire.

She was rushed to the hospital, and I couldn’t move, or speak, or function. I saw the fans hitting her eyes. I was sure Jasper would go blind because of me.

By a miracle, she didn’t. But the pigment of her dark skin was gone in the places where the flames hit the hardest. She had a white patch of skin across her eyes and cheek, and half her arm. Her skin never healed, and we stopped talking for a whole year.

And the worst part? Malachite loved it. She complimented Jasper’s scars like it was a masterpiece, like her pain was something she had been blessed with. “My associates will enjoy this immensely!” She had never brought up her associates, but I was too shocked to ask.

Mother also didn’t care about my emotional state, because three days after Jasper was put into intensive care at the hospital, she forced me to keep going to the classes. Of course I did terribly. It was like my body wouldn’t respond anymore, and I had lost my balance completely. I couldn’t even climb the balance beam without shaking, but Malachite didn’t care. She pushed me to keep going, and acted like her other daughter wasn’t between life or death. That fucked me up.

When I was eleven, and Jasper fourteen, we started speaking again. Not because we wanted to, but because we had to.

We were isolated from other human beings.

No one knew the pain we were going through.

We were all that we had. If we kept going without speaking for another second, we’d go completely insane.

The weirdest thing was, we started getting a lot closer. We’d spent years together and never interacted that way before. Touches were getting more frequent, we started sharing a bed, we lied to Malachite to stop the other from getting into trouble. I was sure Jasper still hated me, and I could barely look at her face without remembering the dreadful thing I’d done, but I felt myself getting sucked into her. Being together with Jasper was becoming my way of surviving that reality.

I needed her.

Jasper never touched anything that had to do with fire again and she didn’t want to do the courses anymore. I was sure mother was going to yell at her until she figured out something else to do, but she didn’t. “Your beautiful skin has earned you enough points, already.” That fucked her up.

When I was twelve, and Jasper fifteen, we were introduced to Malachite’s associates. I will never forget that day. Just thinking about it makes me want to hurl.

We were blindfolded and taken somewhere, with Malachite’s constant reassurance that it would just be a short trip, and later we could eat burgers. That had been the nicest thing she had told us in months, so who were we to disobey? It was not like we had a choice anyway. I remember being dark, and cold, and she made me wear my gymnastics one-piece for some reason; for Jasper, she chose a sleeveless shirt and shorts, way too revealing for simple a visit.

Upon removing our blindfolds, we froze. Dozens of people in suits wearing masks stared at us from above, in comfy theatre chairs. There were spotlights on us, which blinded me for a second, and then a cheerful music started playing as Malachite’s loud voice reverberated through the place. “Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys, and girls! Step right up, and witness The Water Witch’s new acquisitions!”

Everyone applauded and I had no idea what was going on. I started shaking, fearful of those creepy, smiling masks, looking right at us like we were a prized possession, a display for them to enjoy. “First!” Malachite kept going, and I tried to make sense of where she was, but to no avail. “The world’s youngest fire-breather! Born from the flames, her skin blessed with the marks of the Sun God! She is just fifteen, but already taller and stronger than most men. Rub this beast the wrong way, and you will. Get. Burned. Only fifteen years-old, Red-Eyed Jasper!”

More applauses. I looked over to Jasper and she was pale. “Second!” My heart almost stopped beating. It was my turn now, I knew it. “She might be the thinnest, smallest girl you’ve ever seen, but don’t be fooled. This prodigy managed to perfect the static and swinging trapeze when she was just ten. Turn her around ten, twenty, a hundred times, and she still will land right on her feet! The perfect posture, the perfect reflexes, the perfect balance. She will never fall, because she is Stand-Still Lapis!”

People cheered for me. I was so shocked with the whole thing that the only thing my brain was able to process was that everything Malachite told them was a lie. Jasper refused to get near fire, and I could barely do a backflip anymore. Then the biggest question popped up: Just who were those people? And what were we doing there?

“Demonstrations in half an hour. Please, stand by and relax with some delicious popcorn.” And then Malachite’s voice was gone, as well as the spotlights. We were left in darkness, and soon I felt my arm being pulled. It was our mother, and she smiled pleasantly as she handed fire fans to Jasper, and pushed me towards a trapeze. We couldn’t move, and she asked us softly what was wrong. Jasper finally stuttered that she couldn’t do that anymore, and so did I. “Well, that is a problem, isn’t it? I’m sure you can figure it out. Lapis, you’ve always been the most sensible one, convince your sister to twirl those fans in the air and let’s get this over with. You don’t want to disappoint me, do you?”

The worst thing? Those words worked.

From the moment we were adopted until that day, Malachite had never landed a hand on us. Sure, she was rough with her gestures sometimes, but she didn’t use physical strength to make us obey her.

Her words were what stung the most.

And when she wasn’t emotionally manipulating us, she was nice. She fed us, bought us expensive food and clothes, let us play around with anything we wanted when we weren’t training, complimented us often. We didn’t want to disappoint mother.

That was how we saw things, back then.

When she wasn’t being a monster, she was nice.

So Jasper grabbed the fans, and I climbed the trapeze, and we performed in front of those people. I was crying the whole time, and so was Jasper.

But we didn’t want to disappoint mother.

After the show, Malachite talked for a few minutes with her associates, and we stood by her side shaking, but quietly. I was numb, so I didn’t really hear what she said, then we were blindfolded again and put inside the car. Malachite kept her promise and bought us burgers, and I ate them without tasting anything. That night, we collapsed in our shared bed, and cried until we didn’t have the strength to sob anymore.

I needed at least a month to recover from that humiliating exposition, but of course mother wouldn’t make things easy. We found out she was being paid ridiculous amounts of money for our performances, and so we would need to double our training. I was a kid, but it didn’t take a genius to realize what exactly was happening.

Jasper and I were just products for purchase. We were circus slaves. And Malachite had shaped us in a way that her words could make us do anything she wanted. That had been her plan all along.

Until this day, I wonder just how many orphans were adopted and then discarded by this witch.

And it was hard, you know? Saying no to her. Defying the witch. We’ve been molded into the perfect little servants, because what could we do? She took care of us despite everything. We were trapped into this nightmare with no way to leave. We were just kids.

Until the day when we were not.

I was sixteen, and Jasper was nineteen, and after years of humiliating circus acts and traumatic experiences, Jasper decided that enough was enough. Probably because she had suffered more abuse from the witch than I had, but one day for some reason, she snapped. “Let’s run away.” She said. Run to where? There was nowhere to go. But she grabbed my shoulders and slapped me across the face with such strength that I saw stars. “Wake up! This isn’t living, this is torture. I’m going to get the fuck out of here, and you’re coming with me.”

“Why?” I asked, not minding the pain on my face. To be honest, I welcomed it.

“Because I can’t live without you.” And we both knew that she didn’t mean it in a romantic sense. We were so codependent that just the thought of going anywhere without Jasper made me break in cold sweat. It was messed up, but what could we do if that was how we managed to cope with life? When I realized she was really leaving, I panicked, and accepted going with her.

We stole some cash from Malachite’s wallet and left the mansion. The door was unlocked because mother always thought we would be too scared to disobey her. And we were, because even then we were shaking terribly as we left the house.

We took the first bus to another city, and that’s how we ended up here. Then for an entire year, we were homeless. It was ironic, how we managed to make some money by doing circus tricks on the streets. What could we do, if that was all that had been taught us for eleven years? Eventually, we managed to move in to a shitty apartment, with one mattress in the floor and a smelly bathroom. Jasper and I tried finding a job, but no one would hire teenagers who had never attended school. I left home every day in the morning to perform on crowded places, and came back at night with some money. Jasper did the same in another part of town, and that was how we barely survived. In the darkness of our shared bed, we started finding comfort in each other, to block out the traumatic flashes of memories that made us wake up yelling in the middle of the night. I leeched off of Jasper, and she did the same to me.

Then the first package arrived.

It was a huge box, with so many things inside, things we hadn’t seen for a whole year. Ham and cheese, bread, butter, a dozen eggs, milk, flour and pasta, even meat. Everything was of the highest quality, and it was like we had just opened a box to paradise. We ate so much and so well that night, that we actually cried happy tears. Once the box was empty, I saw a letter at the bottom. Jasper grabbed it and read it out loud.

It was hers.

Everything that we ate was Malachite’s. The witch knew where we were, and she was sending us gifts.

“My dear daughters. I will admit that I was a bit saddened by your departure. I have no idea what came over you to leave the comfort and luxury of our home; the warmth of the fireplace on the cold Winter nights, the softness of your beds, the beautiful clothes, the cozy bathtub. I assume that it was a momentary divergence, because that is just how teenagers are. But do not fear, my lovely children, because Mother will always be willing to welcome you back with open arms. Do not think for a second that I am angry at you, because all I really am, is worried. How are you getting by? Is there enough food for you? A bed? Plumbing? A fridge? I am sending you this gift to show you how much I still care. Once you decide to end this charade, please, do return. Until then, Mother will take care of you, as I always have been. This will be the first gift out of many that I have to offer. Tomorrow, a special delivery should be arriving at your doorsteps. I hope you understand how much I love you despite the fact that you decided to abandon your poor mother. I am sad, but I will keep an eye on you for as long as I am alive. I know you miss me, and you will return to me. With love, Malachite.”

We wanted to vomit everything we had eaten. Jasper tore the letter apart, and in a fit of rage, punched the wall. I was scared because she had found us somehow, and she was still playing mind games on us. We had a restless sleep that night.

And, true enough, her next delivery arrived in the morning.

She had bought us a house. A huge house, not as big as the mansion, but incredibly spacious nonetheless.

We took an entire week to dwell on it. The house was there, on the address in the paper. It was ours, and Malachite had paid for it. The longer we stubbornly refused to set a foot in the place, the worse our condition became. Jasper was irritable, I was mad, we took it all out on each other under the sheets of our crappy mattress in the floor; the situation was unbearable.

So we accepted it. We moved in to this house because we didn’t have a choice.

“Just for now,” Jasper said, and I agreed. It was a suburban neighborhood, and we managed to find some work there. Things were finally looking up, because we were employed and soon enough we’d be able to get out of that place. It was just for now.

Malachite kept sending us expensive gifts, once a week. All the packages that came in the mail immediately went to the trashcan. We didn’t want anything to do with the witch. We were just living in the house because it was temporary. That was what we kept repeating in our heads.

But one day, I don’t know when, we started slipping. I caught myself inspecting the box to see what was inside, and secretly munched on a snack she had sent us – it was my favorite as a child. It was just one.

Jasper, too. Her hair was a mess, and Mother knew the brand of shampoo that worked. I caught the smell of it on Jasper’s hair one night, but decided to keep quiet. I needed a new shirt, and she had sent us one. Jasper needed a pair of shoes that fit her huge feet, and, oh, what a coincidence, there was one in the mail. We made accidents on purpose, and we were very aware of it.

It was like she was winning us back.

Two months later, Jasper snapped. “No! We can’t keep doing this to ourselves. Fuck that. Fuck her, I won’t let her control us like that. Throw your shirts on the garbage, now!” She slammed the door open and ran out of the house. Once she returned, she held a lighter in one hand, and a pack of cigarettes on the other. “I liked playing with fire before she turned me into this, so I’ll take this part of me back.”

That was when Jasper started smoking, and I did as well, because I felt that I owned her this one. I dyed my hair blue because Malachite told me I looked good in blue. If she wanted to cover me in blue, then I would do her the favor; I became obsessed with the color.

During all this time, we thought that we were rebelling, mocking her, outplaying her. But now I realize that we were not. All that we stupidly accomplished was doing things that reminded us of mother, because she was right.

We missed her.

And we were too weak to fight it.

Time went by, and eventually Jasper’s strong and athletic body did her a favor and she was called to a female rugby team. I was fired because I was a mess, but it didn’t matter; I had mother’s deliveries to sustain me. Jasper was doing great, and in six years she managed to make enough money to buy herself a good apartment. She told me to come with her, but I refused. I was tired of living with her, of having to look at her face every day, reminding me of the horrid things I had done, things I had gone through. I was sure she would argue, but surprisingly she accepted my choice of splitting up. I guess I reminded her too much of our childhood, too.

And now I’m here. Still living in Malachite’s house, still receiving her fucking packages in the mail, still too weak to refuse them. Jasper receives them too, and I know she looks through the stuff before deciding what she wants to keep. After all these years, Malachite still has us wrapped around her finger, and I’m afraid that one day we’ll break and really go back to her.

One day, we’ll go back to doing circus tricks.


Lapis finished the long tale with a tired sigh, unable to keep her eyes open anymore. “This is it. I’m sorry.” She turned around again to face the wall, and finally blacked out. Peridot didn’t move, didn’t speak, and didn’t think. Her eyes lingered on Lapis’ back for almost a minute, and then she finally lost the battle to her own exhaustion.

It really was a lot.

Chapter Text

The lack of birds singing told Lapis that it was probably very late in the afternoon when she woke up. Her whole body was like a rusted machine, and her mouth was so dry that it looked like she had spent the night licking an entire desert – or morning, seeing as it probably was past seven when they finally went to sleep.

Lapis breathed in deeply and let it all go in one slow motion. Even her chest hurt, and she tried to bend her limbs to feel something, and a jolt of pain made her grunt. Some pieces of memories from last night started flashing in her head, and Lapis buried herself further into the mattress. Opening her eyes, she realized that Peridot wasn’t in bed, and sighed. If she wasn’t so desperately thirsty, she wouldn’t mind never getting up – it was a thought that had crossed her head many times, so she didn’t care much for the casual existential despair. Counting to three, she finally managed to sit up, and the room started spinning.

She did not remember drinking that much.

The faint sound of the TV in the living room told her that Peridot was home, at least. After managing to regain some of her balance, Lapis got on her feet, and checked her back pocket. Her cellphone was still there, and she turned it on to check for messages, but there were none. That made her sigh – in frustration or relief, she couldn’t really tell – and she made her way to the bathroom to wash her face and mouth. With the foul taste gone and bit more awake, Lapis finally opened the bedroom door. Her hands were shaking, and she told herself that all she needed was to drink a cup of water, and then she would be on her way. Saying goodbyes was always hard, but she would pull through like always.

The living room was empty, save from the TV and couch, and Lapis looked around to spot Peridot in the kitchen with her back turned, apparently cooking something. Lapis had no idea what to say or do, so she stood there awkwardly for a minute, just gathering up the courage to at least say farewell.

“Hey,” She managed finally. When Peridot didn’t move, it was like a knife had been pierced through her heart. Fuck the glass of water, she couldn’t stay for another minute. “So… I’ll just go. Thank you for listening and… I’m sorry. For everything.” Lapis nodded to herself, forcing the tears to stay inside her eyes for at least a second and a half as she turned around and walked to the door. Just three more steps and she could break down, visit Jasper, take it all out on her, then go back to ground zero as always. It was fine. This always happened. She would pull through.

She would pull through.

She would…

She felt a hand grabbing her wrist. “Stop.”

Lapis spun her neck, shocked at the speed that Peridot had crossed the kitchen and the living room to get to her. She felt a lump on her throat and forced it down. “Please, don’t—”

“I don’t care.” Peridot was huffing, as if she had really sprinted.

“What?”

“You past. Your story, your background, the whole thing, I don’t care. I don’t… Argh, I can’t…” Peridot’s grasp on her wrist tightened as she tried to make sense of the sentences before speaking. Everything was too fast, too rushed, but she needed to let Lapis know exactly what she meant, so the strings of words came out jumbled as she frowned. “You’re not that. You are what you are now, not what you were then. You are not… other people. You are you. The water. You’re water, Lapis, because you were born beautiful and then you reached a city and toxic waste was dumped on you, things you didn’t ask for were forced into you. And you got sad, and angry, because the city is shit, and it treats the water like shit, but once you managed to… to rid yourself of it, once you managed to leave the city… when you left your old house, you started to recover. You’re not completely clean yet, because it was so much waste, the city is so dirty, but you’ll get there. You’re… You’re healing, Lapis.” Peridot let go of her, still breathing heavily and staring into the girl’s eyes. “Let me help you heal. Let me help you reach the ocean.”

Lapis stood frozen. She’d had her share of relationships in the past years after Jasper decided to move out. None of them lasted more than a month because she was too weak to carry the burden of her past alone. She was sure that getting involved and then getting hurt was going to be a repeated cycle in her life for as long as she breathed, but for some twisted reason Lapis was completely okay with that. Maybe she just wanted some proof that she really was too messed up to handle. It was like she needed others to hurt her so she could feel better about herself.

No one had ever held her wrist and told her she could stay.

“Look, I’m weird, I don’t make sense, I try not to be impulsive with my feelings but I can’t help it, and this has pushed people away before.” Peridot kept going. “I’m autistic and I’m pretty sure I’m incapable of lying to someone’s face without having a panic attack, so trust me when I tell you that I don’t want you to go. I just… I always thought that you tasted like freedom. You’ve given me sensations that I’ve never felt before with anyone, and I don’t want this to end. Not because of this. Not because you don’t think you deserve to be loved, because trust me, you deserve so much.”

The silence in the living room could be cut with a knife. Both women stared at each other, unmoving, too scared of breaking first. The sudden smell of something burning broke the spell, and Peridot jumped as she yelled ‘shit, my bacon!’ and ran to the stove.

Lapis was still speechless and felt her legs giving in.

Peridot managed to control the situation, and once she returned to the living room, Lapis was sitting in the couch with her legs pulled towards her chest and her head buried in both arms. The sobs were quiet, but they were there, and Peridot immediately sat down next to her and started rubbing her back. “It’s okay.”

“I burned Jasper on purpose…” Lapis mumbled.

Peridot didn’t say anything for a moment, and then spoke softly. “When I was little, I baked a pie for my teacher, but tripped and dropped it on the floor in front of her. The whole class laughed at me.”

“I was forced to perform in front of strangers for years in a swimsuit…”

“On my first job interview, my socks didn’t match.”

“I fucked my sister, and I’m still doing it.”

“My first kiss was with a boy and I said ‘ew’ right to his face when it was over.”

Lapis’ shoulders trembled with that, and Peridot wasn’t really sure if she was laughing or crying, but probably both. She lifted her head finally, and looked at the TV with tired eyes and tear-stained cheeks. “Why are you telling me these things?”

“Because they were also bad things that happened in my life.”

“But… they’re not…”

“Terrible? They were to me.” Peridot adjusted herself in the couch. “I wasn’t able to react like normal people when I was younger. Sometimes I still can’t. Everything slightly upsetting made me incredibly sad, and I always ended up crying my eyes out because of it. One day I stepped on an ant and my mother had to calm me down with water and sugar. Everything looked a thousand times worse than they actually were.”

Lapis rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand as she listened.

“I’m telling you this because I want to share experiences with you. Good and bad. Like when I took you on a ride and showed you the river, or when you puffed out smoke into my lungs on our first kiss, or when we danced yesterday. I feel good when we do things together, and when we share moments together.” Peridot got closer and touched shoulders with the girl next to her. “I told you I wanted to know you, and that means the bad things too. I had upsetting things happening to me too, and if you want I can share them with you. I don’t want us to compete in the Who Had The Worst Past Olympics. I just want us to share experiences, and get closer because of it. Bit by bit.”

The smell of burned bacon and the sound of the TV didn’t make for a pleasant combination, but somehow managed to calm Lapis down a bit. “Why would you want that? Why would you want this burden on you?”

Peridot kept quiet for a bit, and frowned, as if it was incredibly obvious. “Because… your problems are not a burden for other people. They should never be. You should be able to share, and find someone who accepts this part of you.” Then she stretched her neck and placed a gentle kiss on Lapis’ cheek. “So you can accept it yourself.”

The kiss was so unexpected that Lapis felt her insides overflowing with emotion at the thought that someone was still willing to touch her after she opened up. She always felt like a monster, because Malachite made her hate herself instead of hating the one who put her through this.

“Mother is so nice, and this is the thanks she receives? Why are you disappointing mother?”

Lapis could say with certainty that she hated Malachite, but she could also say that she hated herself more. For being weak, for almost blinding Jasper, for still being attached to the gifts she received, for being unable to let Jasper go even when she was seeing other people, even when they were supposed to split up. Lapis knew she was a victim, but she felt disgusted with herself every minute of her life.

And now this girl was telling her that she was not a burden. This girl, who had talked to her for barely a week, accepted the worst parts of her. How was this even possible, when Lapis spent twenty years trying to accomplish that?

“You really are weird…” Lapis mumbled through tears, and leaped on Peridot’s arms for a hug. They hugged for a long, long time, and Peridot’s pajamas got soaked, but she didn’t move an inch. She kept whispering words of praise and kindness, and patting Lapis’ messy hair while doing so. After a while, she didn’t have more tears to spill, and adjusted herself out of the bartender’s embrace to breathe. When she looked up, Peridot was smiling softly, and Lapis felt incredibly lighter. It was a feeling that she was definitely not accustomed with.

“Thank you,” Lapis felt that those words had to be the first thing to leave her mouth. She knew that she couldn’t properly show Peridot how thankful she was, not yet, but she vowed to keep trying.

“You’re welcome.” She replied. Lapis swallowed and looked down to where their hands connected, and intertwined their fingers gently.

“Peridot?”

“Hm?”

Lapis bit her lower lip. “I’m really thirsty.”

Peridot blinked and jumped off the couch. “Oh! Oh, goodness, you must be with a hell of a headache! Wait, don’t move, I’ll get you some water and medicine!” She scurried towards the kitchen, nearly tripping on the carpet on her way and Lapis couldn’t suppress a chuckle.

Of all the things she was expecting to do today, laughing wasn’t one of them.

Peridot truly was something else.


“Good afternoon, you’ve called The Temple. This is Amethyst, how can I help you today?” Amethyst’s voice was cheerful and very enthusiastic as she answered her tenth call that day. So far, every single one of the people who had called decided to schedule an appointment with either Garnet or Pearl, based on Amethyst’s description of each artist’s style. Pearl had been assigned to sit with her at the reception on her first day to assess the situation, and was fairly pleased to see how perky the girl was on the phone. “Yes, absolutely! Do you have a design in mind?”

Pearl observed each and every movement the girl made because that was just how she was. Everything had to be perfect, and she intended to keep it that way. So far, Amethyst’s only mistake was getting a girl’s name wrong, which she quickly corrected on the system.

“Alright, I can fit you in… Tomorrow at 4pm. What do you say? Perfect! I’ll see you then. Have a lovely day!” Then she hung up and immediately computed the costumer’s data on the computer. “And that makes it… Ten out of ten. Not bad for the first day in business, eh?”

“Yes, I admit that you are quite well versed,” Pearl smirked as she shifted on the chair next to her. “It’s a shame no one walked in so far, though…”

“They’re probably intimidated. Trust me, new businesses tend to run slow on the first week.”

“You sure seem to know a lot about opening a business.”

“Worked everywhere, remember?” Amethyst grinned and grabbed a pen to scribble on a piece of paper that she had adopted as an apparent sketchbook. “Anyway, we have five people scheduled for tomorrow, so we can expect some costumers already.”

“Right.” Pearl nodded, and both women kept quiet. This was normally the time Amethyst started a casual conversation to try to know her crush better, but since Pearl was her boss she couldn’t be blunt like usual. This time, she had to be Smooth Amethyst.

“Can I ask you something?” Operation, begin. “These wings in your back. Do they mean something?”

“Oh,” Pearl instinctively turned around to stare at her own tattoo. “You could say that. Every tattoo I have has a meaning.”

“So you have others?” That was already a new thing she had learned, and Amethyst cheered internally.

“Quite a few.” Pearl seemed unshaken, still focusing on the people outside, waiting for someone to walk in. Amethyst hummed and kept quiet for a bit before speaking again.

“What other tattoos do you have? If you don’t mind me asking,” She bit her pen, pretending to a bit anxious. “I’m just really interested in things like that.”

This seemed to grab Pearl’s attention, and she tore her eyes away from the street to finally stare back at the receptionist “Oh, well…” She hesitantly lifted her shirt a bit above her left hipbone and Amethyst honestly thought she was going to strip right there in front of her for a moment. “I have a rose on my hip. Some ballerina shoes on my left thigh, and a fencing sword on my right.”

Amethyst was absorbing the information, trying to figure out exactly what they could mean. Maybe Pearl liked flowers, as well as ballet and fencing for some particular reason. Maybe she used to be a fencer? Or a ballerina. She certainly looked elegant enough for it, but then again why would a promising athlete or dancer give everything up to open a tattoo parlor? She wanted to get to the bottom of it. Maybe during a date. Or under the sheets.

No, Smooth Amethyst had to move slowly. This was her boss, and she didn’t want to disappoint Peridot by getting fired so soon.

“This rose is beautiful!” And she wasn’t saying it just to impress Pearl; the tattoo really was incredibly well made, and the pink ink almost looked fresh. “Did you tattoo it yourself?”

“…No. Someone else did it for me.” Pearl covered the drawing back in a haste, and turned away from Amethyst’s inquiring expression. “So, about the clients for tomorrow…”

Okay, the rose was a touchy subject. Amethyst cursed mentally, but decided to respect Pearl’s boundaries and both started discussing the plans for tomorrow’s clients. After that, Pearl called Garnet and the three of them got into planning the best marketing strategies for their Facebook page and Instagram. Amethyst sneakily watched as Pearl and Garnet interacted and that was when a thought struck her, making her widen her eyes for a moment.

Were Pearl and Garnet dating?

Oh well.

Not that it mattered for Smooth Amethyst.

Chapter Text

The beeping sound on her cellphone made Lapis reach for her jacket pocket as she walked down the condiments aisle on the supermarket. She hesitantly looked at the screen, and immediately relaxed when she realized it was Peridot. “Hello?”

“Hey!” Her voice was cheerful as always, and Lapis smiled.

“Hi,” She replied as she tilted her head towards her shoulder to hold the phone in place. With both hands free, Lapis managed to grab a sauce from the shelf. “What’s up?”

“Nothing, I just wanted to hear your voice.” Peridot replied, then without even giving time for the other girl to talk, she added. “…Was this too sappy? I’m sorry.”

Lapis felt her stomach flip, and chuckled. “Don’t be sorry. I love it when you say these things.”

“Oh.” Something made a creaking noise on the background, telling Lapis that the bartender was once again speaking from her squeaky bed. “Okay.”

There was a silence afterwards, but not an awkward one. She felt at ease knowing that Peridot was on the other side, probably just relaxing as she waited for her shift. Thinking that the girl’s first thought upon waking up was to call her made Lapis’ cheeks redden, and she almost dropped her phone at the realization. “What are you doing right now?”

“Waking up.” It was 5pm on a Thursday, so that was to be expected. “Amethyst should be here in a few, I wanted to talk to her before leaving.”

“How’s her job at the parlor?” Lapis frowned, trying to choose between the most expensive brand, or the one she liked the most. Dinner was going to be special tonight, since Steven’s friend Connie was going to visit her house, and by his detailed description of her, the girl looked like she ate fancy food every day. But then again, she seemed to hate the fact that she did. Lapis put the expensive brand back at the shelf and grabbed her favorite: the cheapest tomato sauce in the whole town.

“Going great,” Peridot moved again, inciting another sound. “The store already has a lot of costumers because of her advertising. Who knew, banging half the town turned out to be useful.” Then she paused, horrified. “I shouldn’t have told you that.”

“It’s fine,” Lapis walked to another aisle. “Your secrets are safe with me. I mean, you already know mine.”

“Right…” Another silent rest, then, “What about you? Doing anything?”

“I’m at the supermarket. Steven’s friend is coming over for dinner.”

“Steven?”

“Oh,” She was so sure that Peridot knew absolutely everything about her life, that she forgot she never mentioned Steven at all. “A friend. A little boy who lives with me.”

“Cute!” Lapis snorted at the word. “Am I bothering you?”

“Never,” She smiled and turned to look for some pasta. Everybody loved pasta, so that was what they decided to cook that night. Steven had run off to look for ingredients for dessert, which was the most exciting part of dinner apparently, so Lapis was in charge of the actual healthy food. “Say, what kind of pasta do you like the best?”

“Hmm… Instant noodles?”

Lapis laughed. “I’m serious!”

“Me too!” Peridot grinned too. “It’s the closest to pasta me and Amethyst eat.”

“That’s not good for you, you know.”

“It’s so delicious, though.” Another squeaky sound on the background. “Alright, let me think… spaghetti?”

“Not creative enough.”

“What!” Peridot sounded so frustrated that Lapis had to bite the inside of her cheek not to laugh. “It’s the best one! After instant noodles!”

“It needs to be fancy, but not too much. Something that says… casual chic.”

“What kind of description is that?” There were so many sounds coming from her bed, like she was moving her legs up and down as she laid on her stomach. “Fine, then. How about… Penne?”

Lapis searched for it and found a few brands in the middle shelf. She grabbed a fair-sized box that had a relatively normal price and put in on her basket. “That’ll do. Thanks.”

“At your service.” She could almost hear the smirk on Peridot’s voice and realized that this girl probably got some game. Lapis was reminded of the first time she saw her from up close; she was talking to a couple as she prepared a drink is such a casual and quirky way, that her smirk had caught Lapis’ attention a lot. Sure she was closer to Peridot now, and knew her better than probably most people, but there was another side of the bartender that she wanted to explore.

Peridot was sweet and innocent, but that was probably because Lapis broke down in front of her. And that wasn’t a bad thing, not at all, since all she’d ever felt with Peridot from the moment their eyes crossed at that junkyard, was safe. She needed that, she loved that about the time they spent together, and there was nothing Lapis would ever change about it. But she was curious, too. She wanted to share experiences, and she wanted to know Peridot on her entirety as well, and that meant every facet of the girl, from innocence to lust. If she was honest, Lapis could definitely see herself fantasizing about certain things Peridot would do to her.

She was only human, after all.

“Oh, are you, now?” Lapis felt a bit daring as she walked towards the candy aisle to look for Steven.

“Huh?”

“At my service.” She explained, playing with her bottom lip with the tip of her tongue.

“Uh…” The sound stopped as Peridot was caught off guard and halted. “Yes?”

Lapis tried to laugh it off, getting nervous. “I’m just kidding.” Alright, that was definitely not a conversation they should have over the phone on a supermarket. “Listen, I gotta go find Steven. I’ll talk to you later?”

“S-sure! Yeah,” Peridot replied, apparently still confused over the inquiry from before. “I’ll see if I can call you on my break. I’ll try not to call too late.”

“Don’t worry, I’m always awake.”

“If you say so,” She chuckled. “Bye.”

“Bye, Peridot.” And with that, she turned the device off. With a deep breath and a headshake, Lapis calmed herself down and went after her friend.


“I’m hom—” Amethyst’s greeting was interrupted by Peridot literally flinging herself onto her. “What the hell, man?!”

“What does ‘are you at my service’ mean??” She sounded desperate and if Amethyst wasn’t in an excellent good mood, she would have dropped her friend on the floor.

“Say what?” She grabbed her Peridot by the shirt and placed her gently on the ground.

“Lapis asked if I was at her service and I didn’t understand so I said yes, but I think that was the wrong thing to say and I’m really confused because she might have been talking about something else, but what if I had misunderstood and answered something weird and—”

“Alright, no, calm down,” She pushed Peridot towards the couch and forced her to sit down with her. With both hands still on her shoulders, Amethyst guided her. “Organize your thoughts, start from the beginning, and take off these socks man, they are all torn apart.”

Peridot was about to close her eyes and breathe deeply before that last comment. “They’re my space socks and I’ll keep wearing them for as long as I’m alive.”

“Then I’ll personally organize your funeral,” She smirked and Peridot punched her arm. “Ouch, rude!”

“Piss off.” Their little banter had apparently calmed her down, though, and Peridot was finally able to say what she wanted without struggling too much. “I think Lapis was… flirting with me?”

“Uh… duh.”

“No, I mean,” She scratched her head. “I was talking to her over the phone a few moments ago all casual and whatnot, but then… she asked me something about pasta? And I helped her out, so she thanked me and I said ‘at your service’, you know, as a joke. But then she asked me if I really was at her service? And I got confused and nervous because I didn’t really understand the question. What do you think she meant?”

Amethyst stood frozen for a while before putting a finger on her chin, deep in though. Then, she widened her eyes. “Ohhhh...” She slapped her forehead, as if she had figured out the most obvious thing. “She wants to fuck.”

“Amethyst!” Her face immediately reddened at the blunt statement. She wasn’t sure if it was because of the way her best friend had put it, or because of the fact that this was something that she had, indeed, thought about a few moments after hanging up.

“What? It’s either that or she wants to make you her personal butler-slave. I’d go for sex, personally, but that’s just me.”

“You suck.” Peridot brought her legs together close to her body and looked away from Amethyst’s face. Her cheeks were still hot, and a thousand things started roaming through her mind. Was that what Lapis had meant? Did she really want to take that step forward into their relationship? Peridot wasn’t really sure what to think about it. Sure, they had talked for just two weeks, but the amount of affection she felt towards Lapis during that time surpassed everything she had ever felt with her past dates. Hell, they weren’t even dating, but it felt like they were, for ages. They worked differently, Peridot herself had said that before, so why was she so nervous about it? Maybe because she didn’t have much expertise when it came to such… activities.

Alright, that’s putting it lightly. The only person she’d ever slept with was sitting right next to her.

“Okay, let’s think about this.” Amethyst apparently decided to stop being an ass and poked Peridot’s back to grab her attention again. “Did she sound flirty?”

“…I guess?”

“And would you want that? If that was what Lapis meant.”

“I…” Peridot frowned. She didn’t really think about this stuff regularly, but she wasn’t a complete prude either. She tried to picture the two of them together, alone, in a tender atmosphere. Dim lights, maybe a nice song playing in the background to set the mood, some kisses that got gradually more heated, her hand on Lapis’ waist, pulling her closer, Lapis’ cold fingertips running through her belly and her sides, cupping a breast—

Okay, yeah. That was a thing.

“…Yes.”

“Then you’ve got nothing to worry about, bro.” Amethyst smiled and got up, stretching. “You know what I always say: sex is like double-dipped chocolate crust ice cream; it just makes everything twice as enjoyable. If both of you are okay with it and want to try, then go for it.”

“You and I are completely different when it comes to such matters, Ame.” Peridot deadpanned.

“Is Lapis, though?”

Peridot had no answer for that. She knew many things about Lapis now; her life and her past, and the things that made her sad or happy, but this side of her was a complete mystery. But wasn’t Peridot the one who said that she wanted to share experiences with her? Having sex was one of them. Eventually. Definitely.

“Aren’t we moving too fast, though…?” This was still a concern to her.

“Yeah, you’re asking this to the wrong person.” Amethyst couldn’t help but laugh. “They don’t call me Miss One-Night Stand for nothing.”

“No one calls you that.”

“You’d be surprised,” Her smile wavered, but she soon pulled herself together. “Anyway, that’s my advice. Take it or leave it, it’s your call.”

Peridot sighed because Amethyst was ultimately right. It was her choice, and if Lapis wanted that, then they should talk about it. Peridot definitely wouldn’t be opposed to the idea.

“I’m gonna take a shower.” She finally announced, ruffling her hair, her cheeks still pink.

“Have fun!” Amethyst yelled, and dodged as a space sock made its way to her face.


One step to the right, then one to the left. A few steps back as Steven’s little body walked towards the other side of the balcony with a hand full of whipped cream and a cheek smeared with chocolate, then another step forward as she tried to finish cutting the mushrooms. Lapis sometimes cooked some grilled cheese for herself when she decided to eat at home, but she had never tried so hard to make a serious plate. The taste needed to be decent, at least, but there were so many things to time and cook and cut and— it felt like a dance, and she was getting tired.

“Coming through!” Steven moved over to his spot once again and Lapis almost tripped on his legs.

“Sorry!”

“It’s okay!” He smiled, wiping his face. It didn’t help, he just got dirtier, and Lapis snorted as she stared down on him.

“Come here,” She kneeled to his eye level and cleaned the boy’s cheeks with a towel. “There, much better.”

“Thanks!” Steve giggled. “Man, cooking is so fun! I hope Connie likes our Special Cheese ‘n Mushrooms Triple Tomato Taste Pasta.”

“That’s quite a name,” Lapis got up again and leaned a little on the counter to take a break. The pasta was already boiling, as well as the tomato sauce. All she needed to do was add the mushrooms to the pan and then cut some cheese to put on top. Steven had come up with this idea, and she was trying her very best to not ruin this. Connie always made him happy, and she wanted to give the girl a good impression.

“The fancier the name, the tastier it’ll be. That’s what dad uses to say!” Steven stretched his arms in excitement. “I hope that my Chocolate Whipped Waterfall Deliciousness makes it through.”

The dessert was in the oven now, and Lapis had absolutely no idea what would come out of it since she’d been too busy with her side of things. “I’m sure it will. Who doesn’t like chocolate?”

“Right?” Steven smiled right at her and Lapis felt warm. She was truly lucky to have met someone like Steven, especially at the situation she was in back then. Lapis was hitting rock bottom, and it felt like the boy had descended from Heaven just to stop her from doing something stupid. It’s been almost a year since Steven decided to move in with her, and sometimes Lapis wondered what exactly fate had in store for her if it was sending angels at the toughest times. Maybe she was just supposed to keep going. The thought might’ve been regarded as depressing, but it calmed her down for some reason.

“Hey, Steven?” Lapis mumbled, looking at the sink.

“Yeah?”

“Do you think Connie is going to like me?”

The boy tilted his head and moved to touch his shoulder against her back. “Of course she will.”

“Really?” It was silly, but she needed the reassurance.

“Really, really.” And as always, he delivered. Lapis smiled again and nodded.

“Okay.” She leaned off the counter taking a deep breath, and nodded to herself. “Let’s finish our pasta.”

“Yes, chef!”

They worked for one more hour in between laughs and teases, and when the clock struck 7pm the doorbell rang. Lapis almost dropped the hot pan by how startled she was, but luckily she managed to steady her arms. Steven was frenetic, and jumped off the counter the second the sound went off. “I’m coming!”

Lapis smiled and placed the food on three plates, trying to serve the same amount to each one. Then she put the pan down and grabbed the sauce, which had been resting for a bit, together with the sliced cheese. Carefully adding the last ingredient to the mix, she placed a delicate leaf of parsley on the side of each dish because she remembered seeing a chef doing the same on the cooking show she’d watched with Peridot.

Grinning fondly at the memory, Lapis looked up to check for the hour. It was still pretty early, Peridot would probably just call her past nine. She felt giddy at the thought and almost reached for her back pocket to send the girl a message, but felt like it would be silly. Peridot would call soon.

“Lapis! Connie is here!” Steven’s voice coming from the living room made her snap out of it, and she walked over to the kids.

“Hello,” Lapis waved a bit nervously as she approached.

“Oh, hello! It’s very nice to meet you!” Connie waved back, apparently as anxious as she was. She was wearing a cute green floral dress with a pink ribbon tied around her waist, and looked exactly how Lapis had imagined her. Adorable, polite, and intelligent. “Steven told me so much about you.”

“Oh, did he?” She smirked down at the boy with both arms crossed.

“O-only good things, of course!” Connie quickly mended, afraid of causing problems to her best friend.

“I hope so,” Lapis laughed a bit. She knew that there was not a single ounce of menace on Steven Universe’s body, but years of being watched and talked about behind her back made Lapis rub her elbows, guardedly. So she changed the subject, not wanting to show any signs of discomfort on Steven’s special night. “Did he tell you what we have for dinner tonight?”

“No, he didn’t! I kept asking for days, but he wouldn’t budge.” Connie poked Steven’s sides, pretending to be mad.

“If I did, it wouldn’t be as tasty. The most mysterious the food, the tastier it gets! It’s what dad always says.” He poked Connie back and both kids started some sort of tickling competition that ended up with both laughing. Lapis couldn’t help but to join in the fun for a bit before excusing herself to bring the plates to the table. As soon as Connie saw the beautifully presented dishes, she stopped and genuinely gaped.

“Dinner’s served!” Lapis announced, and both children climbed their chairs enthusiastically. Connie asker permission to take a picture of the food, which was immediately granted by both Lapis and Steven at the same time. They giggled at this, and as soon as Connie was done, the three dug in.

Widening their eyes, both kids let out a “It’s so good!”, and Lapis chuckled, relieved.

The meal went by pleasantly. Connie and Steven chatted and made sure to include Lapis in every conversation, going so far as explaining every single inside joke they had to make sure she wouldn’t feel excluded. Connie asked some things about Lapis too, like what kind of shampoo she used to take care of her dyed hair, and how long did it take to discolor it. Lapis answered all of her curiosities with a soft smile and asked if she was thinking about dyeing her hair as well.

“My mom would kill me!” Connie replied with a nervous laugh.

“Oh, that’s a shame,” Lapis replied. “But if you ever want to try, I’ll be happy to give you some tips.”

“T-thank you,” She stuttered as a blush made its way to her cheeks.

As soon as the first meal was done, Steven walked into the kitchen to get dessert. He asked to go alone, because he wanted it to be a surprise to both Connie and Lapis, so the two girls stood alone for a bit. Lapis didn’t know how to start a conversation, so the atmosphere was awkward for a couple of minutes. She wondered what kind of topic she could raise to someone who was probably much more intelligent than her, so she decided to go with something that she’d learned a few days back.

“Say, Connie?”

“Y-yes!”

“Did you know people can’t walk on planet Jupiter?”

They spent a good amount of time talking about space, which was apparently not Connie’s area of expertise. Lapis tried to remember all the facts that Peridot had told her, but she wasn’t too good at it. For a while they just pondered if there was life outside of Earth – the answer, both agreed, was yes. Lapis’ chest swallowed with emotion at the topic and she could almost hear Peridot’s voice on her ear, matter-of-factly. She giggled unconsciously at that, and then Steven returned.

“Ladies and ladies!” He boomed, dramatically. “Steven Universe’s Chocolate Whipped Waterfall Deliciousness is! Served!”

The plate was a single huge broken chocolate soufflé, filled with whipped cream to the top. Melted chocolate leaked through every corner, really looking like a waterfall, and Lapis gasped at the size of it. Connie just took another picture sneakily and mumbled, “The number of calories...”

But in the end it didn’t matter, because the three ate absolutely everything.

“If I don’t make it… tell Lapis… that I forgot to water the plants yesterday…” Steven was lying on the couch after the three were done taking the plates to the kitchen, and dramatically reached for the ceiling. His belly was huge, and his face was once again smeared with chocolate.

“No, Steven! Not the plants!” Connie grasped his hand tightly, and closed her eyes. “They need water, or else photosynthesis is not effective!”

“The light…! Goodbye… cruel world…” And with that, he let out a ‘bleh’ and dipped his face to the side. Connie tried to keep the act going, but the fact that Steven’s belly made a terrific sound just a few seconds later made both of them laugh. Lapis, who was on the kitchen washing the dishes, smiled at the cheerful sound coming from the living room. Those two had really brightened up her day, and she was glad to have met Connie.

Looking once again to the clock, Lapis bit her lip. It was 9:14pm, so Peridot was starting her shift. Since it was a Thursday, the pub wouldn’t start to get crowded so early in the night. She tried to calm down and wait for Peridot’s call, but as time went by, Lapis just got more and more anxious to hear her voice. She was feeling so happy, and she wanted to associate this feeling with the blonde, so she decided that she’d call her once she finished the dishes. It didn’t take long, and five minutes later she left the kitchen.

“I’ll be upstairs, yell if you need me.” Lapis announced as Connie and Steven watched a movie leaning basically on top of each other.

“Okay!” Both answered in unison, and so Lapis went to her room.

She closed the door and leaned on it, taking her phone from her pocket. There were no new messages or missed calls, and she sighed in relief. Sometimes she forgot to check on purpose because of Jasper, but lately she’d been really excited to receive a call. Lapis searched for Peridot’s number, but stopped a second before hitting dial. She felt a bit silly for wanting to call the bartender so early in her night. Shouldn’t she wait? Peri said she’d call, and Lapis didn’t want to disturb her.

Placing her cellphone on the table, Lapis made her way to her bed and lay down. She could be patient if she wanted to. Steven and Connie were watching TV, she had organized the kitchen, there was nothing important to do, things looked peaceful for once. She turned to face the white wall and stared at the cigarette stain there. A few years ago she used to mark that spot in the wall when she was feeling alone for some reason, and it never washed off. Lapis brought her fingertips to touch the rough surface of the wall, not really thinking about anything. She didn’t usually spend her nights at home – mostly Lapis just wanted to stay out of that house for as long as possible – but then again, when she wasn’t visiting bars and night clubs at the city center, she was at Jasper’s. It wasn’t a really healthy lifestyle, but it was the only one she had. Until Peridot.

Lapis really wanted to go to the pub.

Sliding her thumb over the mark, she closed her eyes and rested for a bit. A few minutes later, she opened them again and got up, deciding to smoke outside on her balcony. She opened her window and walked outside. The moon was high in the sky, pretty but not full, and she lit up her cigarette. That was probably the first time in months she smoked on her balcony. It’s not like she didn’t like the place; the soft early Fall wind ruffled through her hair and she could see her beautiful garden from up there. She just wasn’t used to exploring her own house. It just irked her, knowing that the place she lived in was a gift from a witch.

More time passed, and still no sign of Peridot. Lapis’ cigarette had burned entirely, and she tossed it on the ground, making her way back in. She wondered what the kids were doing since it was already past ten. Maybe Connie had decided to sleep over. Honestly, she wouldn’t be surprised if both of them had fallen asleep in the middle of the movie. Steven did that a lot.

11:00pm. Sour Cream was probably DJ’ing. Lapis wondered what kind of music he would play that night.

12:00am. Lapis decided to go downstairs to check on the kids, and smiled upon seeing them exactly as she expected: sleeping on top of one another with the TV still on. She turned it off and covered both of them, adjusting Connie and Steven’s heads to fit on a pillow. Carefully, she made her way back up and closed the door again. The kids were asleep, she was alone, and the house was way too quiet. She was starting to feel fussy.

It was 1:00am when her phone finally rang. She was sure she’d never picked it up so quickly before. “Hello?”

“Hey!” Peridot’s voice was muffled by the blasting sound of music on the background. “Wait, I’ll go to the staff room, it’s too noisy here!”

Lapis smiled involuntarily. “Alright.”

The song on the other side of the line got progressively lower, until there was barely a sound. “Much better. Can you hear me okay?”

“Yeah,” Lapis answered. She was feeling extremely giddy all of a sudden and sat on her bed. “Couldn’t wait to reach the staff room to call me?”

“Uh… not really,” Peridot replied with a nervous laugh. “I’ve been wanting to call you since I got here, but today is a special event. I completely forgot that I had to help Sadie set up some decorations.”

“Oh, I see.” This made her feel a little better by not calling her before. “How is the party?”

“Pretty great! Sour Cream set up a really cool list for today and there are so many people I’ve never seen before. Tomorrow is gonna be even better.”

“I’ll try to go, then.” Lapis let her body fall to the side as she talked with the girl in the dark.

“Yes, please do! You’ll love it.”

“You’ll be there, of course I’ll love it.” That was corny, but she didn’t really care.

Peridot breathed out a giggle. “Have you been talking to Amethyst? Such a sap.”

“You’re a sap all the time!” Lapis protested.

“That’s because I live with Amethyst.” Peridot rebutted. Lapis rolled her eyes.

“Alright, fair enough.”

“How did dinner go?”

“Pretty good. Connie is a sweetheart.” She rolled over. “That’s Steven’s friend, by the way. A little girl who lives nearby.”

“You seem to be popular with kids.” Peridot teased.

“What can I say? I have a friendly face.” She never thought she’d be saying that about herself, but Peridot made her mind flutter.

“You have a pretty face,” Then the bartender flinched.

“Oh, who’s a sap now?” Lapis licked her lips as she smiled at the compliment. God, this girl.

“It just came out,” Peri apologized. “It’s true, though. You’re really pretty.”

“Thanks…” Rolling one more time, Lapis was on her back. “I think you’re pretty, too.”

“I’m just a nerd.”

Lapis laughed. “Nerds are hot.”

There was a pause as Peridot’s entire face heat up and she suddenly remembered Amethyst’s conversation with her prior to this. Was Lapis flirty again? Or was this just friendly banter? God, she hated not being able to distinguish people’s tones. In her panic, she said the first thing that came to mind. “You’re hot.” Then she literally punched a wall.

The blue-haired girl didn’t seem fazed, however. If anything, she was pleased with how this conversation was going. “Pretty and hot? Two compliments in one night, wow.”

“Y-yeah, that was totally what I meant to say and not an embarrassing thing that came out of my mouth whatsoever.” The more she talked the more she dug her own grave, but Peridot was far too deep now to feel ashamed.

Honestly, Lapis just found her more and more endearing as they spoke. The conversation kept going for a while, and when she asked if Peridot didn’t need to go back to work, the blonde just replied that they had hired another bartender for this special event.

“I have another hour or so.”

“Really? That’s good.” Lapis’ mind wandered to her subtle comment back at the supermarket and she decided that she wanted to resume that line of thought. She had an hour, and Peridot was apparently alone, so this was a good opportunity for her to test the waters. “Say, what’s this room you’re in? Everything is so quiet.”

“Oh, the staff room. It’s way in the back of the pub, with soundproof door. Only the staff members have access to it, we normally store stuff in here for events and whatnot. It’s the best place for a break.”

“You should take me there sometime.”

“Huh?”

“You know, for some privacy.” Lapis bit her lip, hoping this wasn’t too straightforward. She didn’t want to scare the girl; if she saw signs of discomfort, she would immediately back off.

Peridot’s eyes widened and she swallowed very hard. “S-sure. Though it’s not like it’s that private, staff members can walk in and out at any time.”

“Oh, okay.” Alright, this was awkward. “Never mind, then.”

“But…” Peridot continued. “If we were to have some privacy. What would you like to do?” She was not going to make a fool out of herself this time with oblivious remarks. That had been a pretty obvious sign of where the girl was trying to get at, and Peridot wanted to grab this bait that had been thrown at her. This could lead somewhere.

“Oh?” Lapis grin widened at that and she brought one leg towards her body, hugging it with a free arm. “I don’t know, we never really had many chances of spending time alone in a room. I guess… I just wish we could kiss longer.”

“That can be arranged.” Kissing was simple enough.

“I want to be able to remember how it feels like. Kissing you.” Lapis wet her lips, which were suddenly very dry. “It’s a nice memory to have when I’m alone.”

Oh, okay. So this is where they were going. “…Likewise.”

“Do you have something in mind?” Lapis wasn’t going to be the only one talking. She was starting to feel a bit embarrassed, even though she was the one who started this whole thing in the first place.

“Several,” Peridot only blurted that out because right now, her head was running apparently a thousand miles per hour, and every single thought was starting to get borderline inappropriate. “Uh— I mean! Yeah, d-definitely, I’m just… a bit nervous.”

“It’s okay. We don’t have to rush this.”

“But I do.” Peridot had to sit down in one of the room’s chairs to stop from shaking. “Want this, I mean. Wait, is this what we’re talking about? I’m sorry, it’s just… really hard for me to understand subtlety.”

Lapis blushed, but smiled at that. She kept forgetting that she needed to be very honest with this girl, so she decided to be. “Sex? Yeah.”

“Oh, okay,” Peridot felt the blood flow to her face. “Now that we’re in the same page. Yeah, definitely.”

“Have you thought about it?” Lapis decided to shift positions again, landing this time on her belly. “With me?”

“…Not before this, honestly.” Peridot felt like she was ruining the mood. “But I am now. Uh… thinking about it.”

“Right now?”

“…Yes.”

“Oh,” Lapis had a sudden thought, and munched on her cheek. “Me too. What are you thinking about? Tell me.” She turned around and put her phone on speaker, but on the lowest volume; Steven and Connie were still sleeping downstairs, after all.

“Uhh…” Peridot looked around instinctively, but there was no one in the room. “…Kissing you. A lot. Touching you, too.”

“Where?”

Peridot was either about to have a stroke, or she was starting to get turned on by how incredibly husky Lapis’ voice was. Probably both. “…Your waist. I want to pull you towards me first. You seem to like that.”

And she did, but just because Jasper’s possessiveness usually turned her on. She wasn’t going to say that, though, so she just closed her eyes and imagined Peridot doing it. “Okay. What else?”

“…I’d slide a hand under your… Wait, are you wearing a shirt?”

Lapis giggled. “Yeah.”

“Okay. I’d slide a hand under your shirt. Just take my time to feel your skin.”

Lapis lifted her shirt a bit so her stomach was exposed. She traced a finger there, gentle and slow. “…Feels nice.”

“Feels—? Ohhh,” Peridot wanted to punch herself in the face for not getting what exactly Lapis was doing until now. This was something terrifyingly new for her, seeing as she was not good with expressing herself accurately at all. Peridot always thought that physical contact was the best way for her to get her thoughts and feelings across, so dirty talking over the phone had not ever, in a million years, gone through her head. Also, she was in the middle of her shift. There was no way this would end up well.

“I wish I was touching you, too.”

That one sentence, in a low, seductive voice, was all Peridot needed to say ‘to hell with it’, and indulge Lapis in this. “…Let’s focus on you, first.” She could not believe she was doing this. Amethyst was going to have a field day with this story.

That suggestion made Lapis smile immensely. “Alright.”

“Um…” How the hell was she going to do this without sounding like a fool? “What are you wearing?”

“A black sleeveless shirt, jeans.”

“That’s it?”

“I could be wearing less,” Lapis’ sultry tone made all the hairs on Peridot’s neck stand.

“Yeah, you could.” She tried to close her eyes and picture the girl taking off one of her garments. “I mean, what are pants even good for, you know?”

Lapis giggled and sat up to unbutton her jeans. “You’re right. Bye, pants.” She slid them down carefully and tossed them on the floor. Her room was fairly warm, so she didn’t have to worry about getting cold. “Ah, freedom.”

“Heh,” Peridot couldn’t help but smirk. She was still nervous, she wasn’t going to deny that, but Lapis sounded so relaxed and casual that she was starting to relax too. “I think I’d go back to touching your sides, now.”

“Okay.” Lapis lay back down and resumed the gentle strokes on her ribs, passing through her belly button and going to the other side. The feeling of the bed sheets on her bare legs gave her a whole new sensation now, and she blushed a bit. “Would we be kissing, too?”

“Always…” Peridot licked her lips, her eyes still closed. “Kissing you is still the best part.”

Lapis smiled at that, letting her mind fantasize about the girl on the room with her. “Hmm.”

“I think I’d get curious after a while,” Peridot rubbed her feet together. “Maybe… slide my hand upwards?”

Lapis did it, landing her flat palm right in between her breasts on top of her bra. With a thick swallow, she spoke. “I’d let you explore anything you like.”

Holy shit, Peridot thought as she chewed her bottom lip. “I think… your shirt is stopping me from doing that.”

Lapis felt extremely constrained in her garment all of a sudden and arched her back to take it off. This time she wasn’t as gentle as with her pants, and pretty much tossed the shirt on the floor. Upon touching her bare back on the sheets again, she shuddered by the feeling of silk rubbing on skin. “Not—” She exhaled. “Not anymore.”

“Oh.” Alright, so if Peridot was correct, right now she was talking to Lapis while the girl was on her underwear, alone in her room, probably doing to herself whatever Peridot asked her to. This realization was almost too much for her gay heart to bear. “Then… I guess I can touch your breasts now.” She was sure everything she told Lapis came out extremely wrong, but the girl wasn’t complaining so far.

“Please do,” Lapis cupped both boobs with her hands and squeezed softly. The sensation was immediate, and okay, maybe she was more turned on than she previously thought by this whole situation. She didn’t know if the fact that there were two other people sleeping downstairs added to the thrill, but she felt her heart picking up the pace quickly. “But you know… I’m still wearing my bra.”

“Not for long,” The bartender imagined herself moving to kiss Lapis’ cheek, then neck, and finally her shoulder. She remembered something she thought was fun to try, and spoke hoarsely. “Cause I’m taking it off with my teeth.”

“Holy hell…” Lapis muttered under the breath and closed her eyes as she slid the bra straps down her shoulders, then unclipped it. Finally, completely free, her nipples hardened as the piece of undergarment fell down next to the other clothes. “Much better.”

“Hey, uh… are you lying down right now?” It came to Peridot’s attention that she really didn’t know which position Lapis was in as they spoke.

“Yeah, on my back.” She resumed squeezing her breasts with a smirk. “What about you?”

“I’m just sitting.” Peri looked around once more to make sure no one had infiltrated her cave of sin, then looked over at the clock. “Shit, I just have another half an hour.”

“I’ll be done before that on my current situation,” Lapis put bluntly, sending a shiver down Peridot’s spine.

“Oh yeah?” She exhaled. Alright, she very much wanted to be with Lapis right now. “Let’s not waste time, then.”

“How do you want me?” The question was so lustful, but in such an innocent way, that the bartender almost got up to punch a wall again. That was unfair.

“…J-just keep lying down. Use one hand to keep touching one breast.”

Lapis did as she was told, and flickered a thumb on her left nipple. She exhaled a breathy whimper at the gesture, and kept moving her hardened nub in circles as she tried to speak. “And the… other?”

“Slide it down, slowly. From one breast to your navel, then your hipbone…”

Her hand touched each of these parts, savoring the sensation. Lapis was never one to go slow on herself when she masturbated, because she didn’t really fantasize about anyone. Jasper was just a coping mechanism, and while she did admit that the sex was good, she didn’t want to think of her face when she pleased herself. But now, with Peridot’s low voice on her ear telling her exactly what to do, she felt like she needed to absorb the whole experience the best she could.

“Your body is a temple, and so, so beautiful…”

Lapis wasn’t expecting that and stopped. She had never been praised during sex, specially not from someone who wasn’t even seeing her at the moment.

“I wish you could see that. Are you feeling it?” Peridot didn’t know where that sudden appreciation was coming from, but she felt a need to let Lapis know just how much beauty she saw in the girl.

“Feeling w-what?” Lapis asked, breathless.

“Your whole self.” Peri explained. “It’s what I want to do the most, you know. Feel you.”

The girl didn’t know what to reply, but her chest felt warm. That was different, and such a Peridot thing to randomly say in the middle of phone sex, that she genuinely smiled as her hands roamed through her whole silhouette. “…I feel it.”

“Good.” Peridot smiled too, then licked her lips. “Now bring one hand lower…”

Lapis did it, and came in contact with the hem of her panties. “I’m still wearing something, you know…”

“I know. Do it over your underwear.”

“Hng, so mean…” She pretended to be mad, but was honestly loving this wicked side of the bartender too much to actually care. Rubbing up and down once made her abdomen flinch and Lapis couldn’t suppress a moan. “Fuck…”

“Do you always swear that much?”

“Shut up…” Lapis grinned with a blush a she kept stroking herself. Her left hand was still playing with one nipple, and she moved it to the other breast to give it as much attention. She immersed herself on the feeling of her most sensitive parts being stimulated by her own hands and closed her eyes to visualize Peridot’s tongue on her nipple, and fingers on her damp panties.

“Are you…?”

“Wet? Yeah,” She breathed out in a soft giggle.

Peridot could’ve sworn she was about to implode at this information. Her cheeks were incredibly hot, and she was sure she would come out of the room with sex hair even thought all she was doing was sitting down in a chair trying not to rub her thighs together to seek some friction herself. “Didn’t think I’d be ever doing that. Much less that it would work.”

“T-trust me, it is…” Lapis’ arched her back a little as her fingers worked a bit faster. “Can you p-please let me remove my panties now?”

“Hmm…”

“Please, Peridot…”

Dear diary, today Lapis begged me over the phone in between breathy moans. Did I manage to survive this? I don’t know. I’ll tell you once I wake up from this dream world I’m apparently in right now. Love, Peridot.

“God…” Peridot swallowed and had to get up and pace around the room. “Alright, take them off.”

Lapis tossed the last of her piece of clothing on the floor and sighed contently. She scratched down her chest and stomach, marking her own skin and pretending it was the bartender handling her roughly. She needed to tell her that she liked it rough once they were truly together, but for now she would just let the girl speak. “They’re off.”

Okay, Lapis was completely naked on her bed masturbating to Peridot on the phone. Of all the things the bartender was expecting that night, that was definitely not in any of her lists. Taking a deep breath to make sense of everything that was going on, Peridot spoke. “Imagine I’m hovering over you, with one thigh in between your legs. Rubbing up and down…”

Lapis brought a finger to her slick center and stroke slowly. She was way wetter than she previously thought, and had to bite the back of her left hand to stop herself from letting out a loud sound.

“Feels good?”

“Y-yeah.”

“I’m going faster now.”

Lapis’ fingers picked up the pace on her folds and she rubbed a gush of wetness on her nub. Just touching her clit once made her bite down hard, but she was unable to control the sound “F-fucking hell,” She panted against her hand, her eyebrows creasing.

“I move one hand to touch you now. Dipping one finger inside… then two.” Peridot grabbed her shirt as she spoke, leaning on a wall. The sounds of Lapis’ raspy moans were way too much for her to handle, and she felt herself growing wet as well. Despite the embarrassing situation, she couldn’t stop; she craved those sounds, and she wanted Lapis to moan more, faster. “Harder.”

“Peridot…” Lapis lifted her hips to the rhythm of the fingers inside her, moving in tandem. She was growing closer, and tilted her head to the side to groan. With a free hand, Lapis brought her fingers to her throat and pressed down softly, just to give it a bit of pressure. She imagined Peridot holding her, moving in and out, whispering ‘harder, faster, deeper’ as she scratched her throat, hard. “Sh— shit.”

“You close?” Peridot was breathing heavily herself, her heart beating stupidly fast.

“Y-yeah, I’m—” She touched a relevant spot and arched her hips. “Ah—”

Lapis came with uneven breaths, biting down her hand strongly. The spasms lasted a lot because she wouldn’t stop stimulating herself gently through it, so she rode out the orgasm for a long time in between ragged moans. Finally calming down and placing her hips back on the bed, Lapis removed her fingers from herself and shuddered. She exhaled a tired chuckle after recomposing herself. “Wow.”

If Peridot was turned on before, she sure as hell was about to die right now. “…Wow is right.”

Both girls stood in silence after that for a minutes as they truly absorbed what had just happened. “Are you okay?” Lapis was worried she might’ve scared the bartender, even though Peridot had been very much involved in the activity.

“I need a really cold shower.” She answered, her face still flushed. “Was it… okay?”

Lapis let out a laugh. “More than okay.” She turned to the side and touched the cigarette stain on her wall. “…Thank you, Peridot.”

“You’re… welcome.” She replied, because honestly she had no idea how to even keep functioning as a human being on her current situation. “Uh… I need to go back to the bar. Somehow. I’m— I’m sorry.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m the one who should be sorry.” God, she had probably turned on the poor girl and couldn’t even reciprocate the gesture.

“Don’t be. Ever. I mean—” Peridot sighed and ruffled her hair. “I gotta go. I loved this. We should do it again. But, uh, in person. Yeah, I’ll talk to you tomorrow?”

“Okay.” Lapis bit her lip in a smile.

“Okay. Yeah, goodnight!” And with this, Peridot hung up. She was sure she managed to work the rest of her shift somehow, but she honestly had no idea how, because the only thing that kept playing in her mind as she prepared drinks for the remaining hours of the night was Lapis’ moans.

She needed a really, really cold shower.

Chapter Text

“Hey, welcome to The Temple!” Amethyst’s cheerful voice greeted as a costumer walked into the parlor. She straightened her back, sitting up quickly, pretending she hadn’t been on Facebook 2 seconds ago. But then again, managing the store’s social media was technically one of her jobs, it’s not like anyone could complain. “Can I help you?”

“Hi,” The client was a short Asian woman with lilac hair and piercings on her nose, and Amethyst swooned internally. One of the best things about her job was the people who usually came in; they were mostly women in their twenties, looking for a fresh experience and overall just curious about the shop’s aesthetics. Their appearances were normally the same too: colorful hair, piercings in different places, some with already lots of tattoos in their bodies, incredible fashion sense. Amethyst fell in love at least 5 times a day, but so far she hadn’t been daring enough to strike a deep conversation with any of them. Maybe after a few visits. “Is this the all-female parlor that opened recently?”

“Yes, it is!” Amethyst smiled. “I’m Amethyst, nice to meet you. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.”

“Oh, I see!” The woman walked towards the counter to place her purse. “Are you one of the artists?”

“No, I’m just the receptionist. Our artists are Garnet and Pearl, but they’re in a session right now. Would you like me to check and see if they’re almost done?”

“No, no, it’s fine.” The woman shook Ame’s hand. “I’m Lynn. I usually walk past here on my way to work, so the store caught my attention.” She grinned politely.

“It does stand out, right?”

“A lot!” Lynn was adorable, and Amethyst wanted to try to reel her in. “I love the pastel colors. I was actually thinking about getting a new tattoo, do you have some kind of portfolio, or…”

“Sure, right here!” Amethyst bent down to grab Pearl and Garnet’s art books and handed them over to her. “What kind of design are you thinking about?”

Lynn checked Pearl’s book first as she mumbled the details of her tattoo. “Oh, it would be a small one. Delicate, like… with thin lines?”

“I’d recommend Pearl. She’s very used to delicate handwork, and she’s got a thing for perfectionism. Here, let me show you some of her best works.” Amethyst reached over the counter to show the woman, and explained the details efficiently. After a while, Lynn decided that she loved Pearl’s style, and marked an appointment for next week to discuss the design and colors of her tattoo. Amethyst bid her goodbye and leaned on the counter with her head on a hand, sighing contently. Pretty girls gave her energy to keep working.

Half an hour passed and Pearl’s client opened the curtain behind the counter, done with her session. Amethyst perked up with a grin. “Hey, welcome back! How did it go?”

“Hurt a bit,” It was a tall woman who had requested for an origami bird on her forearm. “But it turned out amazing.” She twisted her arm to show the result to Amethyst, and the receptionist widened her eyes.

“She is really good,” Ame mumbled more to herself than to the client in front of her. Admittedly, Amethyst was never one to appreciate art in such a big extent, but something about the way Pearl drew sizes and shapes was breathtaking. It was like the woman poured all of her feelings in a single line, sketching, erasing, redrawing, so she could reach perfection. She was the definition of hard work and passion. Garnet was, too, but her face was too hard to read most times, wherein Pearl was an open book.

“You take credit right?” The costumer asked and Amethyst nodded, receiving the payment.

“Thank you for coming, hope to see you again!” She bid the woman goodbye and leaned back on her chair to stretch her muscles. A few moments later Pearl came out from behind the curtain with two cups of coffee in hands, offering one to Amethyst.

“Good work today,” She smiled and Ame’s heart skipped a beat.

“Thanks!” She accepted the beverage with gusto. Sleep was finding its way into her, so the drink was very much welcomed. “Loved the origami on Jesse’s arm. So… sophisticated.”

“I suppose you could call it that.” Pearl giggled, sitting next to her and observing the people outside as she drank. They kept in a comfortable silence for a bit, appreciating the coffee break, when the phone rang and Ame rolled her chair towards it.

“Good afternoon, you’ve called The Temple. This is Amethyst, how can I help you today?” Moving towards the computer, she started typing information as the client spoke. Pearl had made a habit of watching the receptionist’s every movement whenever she was around, appreciating how hardworking she was. Amethyst was really good at multitasking, not to mention how convincing she managed to be when it came to attract customers. Pearl wondered if the good batch of clients they had gotten until now had been all thanks to Amethyst’s advertising. It probably was.

“Of course, what kind of tattoo are you thinking about?” Amethyst poked a tongue out as she typed, and Pearl giggled softly at how adorable it was. She caught herself staring perhaps too much, and turned her attention back to the cup of coffee with a small blush. “Oh, that’s rad. Yeah, absolutely. I’d recommend Garnet for a job like this, she’s got powerful strokes and works well with watercolor.”

Pearl finished her beverage and then got up with a content sigh. She touched the shorter girl’s shoulder and smiled down at her as she walked back inside, sliding her fingertips softly down Amethyst’s arm. The gesture was so unexpected that the client’s voice on the other side of the line vanished for a split second.

“I’m s-sorry, could you repeat that?” Amethyst blinked, returning her attention to the phone call. “Oh, of course! How about next Tuesday, at one in the afternoon? Alright, perfect! Could you please tell me your name? Uh-huh,” She typed down the data on the computer quickly. “All done. See you next week, Jasper! Bye, have a nice day.”


To say that Peridot was a jittery mess was like saying that lava was hot – true, but to a perhaps bigger extent than people probably realized. She tried to calm down in her usual ways – riding alongside the river in the evening, watching her favorite Moon documentary, programing useless stuff on her computer, dismantling her alarm clock just to put it back together again. Fourteen times.

Nothing so far has proved to be effective.

And the worst thing was that she knew why she was jumpy and nervous. She knew it, and yet she was denying it for the life of her. Her excuses varied from “my room is disorganized” to “Mercury is in retrograde”, none of which truly made her feel better about the tug on her stomach. Maybe Peridot should stop making shit up and admit it.

Lapis’ insanely vivid moans were still playing in loop in her head. She had no idea how to face the girl.

Lapis was going to the pub that night and the event was still going on, meaning that the bartender they hired to help Peridot was going to be there once again. She was scheduled for an hour and a half break, and the amount of plans she had made in her head for that time frame was ridiculous. The days where she got to rest and enjoy herself in her own pub were rare, but she didn’t use to mind so much because being behind the counter was fun enough. But now that Lapis was in her life, Peridot didn’t want to waste a single moment where she could be together with her. They could dance, they could sing their lungs out, they could kiss.

They could sneakily visit the staff room.

“No, no, no, no, no, nope, get a grip.” Peridot mumbled to herself, slapping her cheeks. She was an adult; she could control her sexual impulses, thank you very much. There was no way she was going to have sex with Lapis in a small room where anyone could get in at any moment. Well, she did have the room’s key, she could lock it just for a moment…

“No!” Peridot shouted again, getting up with a frustrated groan. If they were going to do this, then she wanted it to be special and not rushed. That night was reserved for a good time at the dance floor, with some kisses and hugs and lots of enjoyment, and just that.

“Alright,” With a sigh, Peridot sat back down and turned her attention back to the TV. There was no need for her to be so nervous, after all Lapis would probably be just as anxious. Or not. The smoker always seemed relaxed on the outside, despite her inner fears and struggles.

But Peridot knew her better than this. Lapis had trusted her enough with the weight of her past, something that she fought so hard against every day, and tried her best to forget. Casual sex talk seemed so small in comparison to sharing your biggest fears with someone.

This thought calmed Peridot down and she felt herself smiling unconsciously. God, what was wrong with her? It was Lapis she was talking about.

And Lapis wasn’t scary.


That night was probably the most crowded in Peridot’s entire career. She had no idea what happened, but suddenly it seemed like the entire town was smashed together in the pub, singing loudly and laughing even louder. It wasn’t a bad atmosphere per se, but the fact that she had been running nonstop for three hours was starting to exhaust her – even with the help of the other bartender things were chaos. Everyone apparently decided to have a drink at the same goddamn time, and the amount of alcohol she spilled accidentally on the floor at that point was getting worrying. Peridot was sure she was going to slip at any second.

“Excuse me, coming through, please make way for food, I know ya’ll love food… Hey buddy keep your hands to yourself or I’m gonna smack that smirk off your face real quick!” Sadie tried to cut through the crowd to get to the kitchen with her empty platter and Peridot snorted at the look she gave the man. Sadie would’ve definitely smacked the metal object against his face if she were able to put her arms down. Finally getting behind the counter to breathe a little, she huffed. “Holy shit, that’s a lot of people.”

“Tell me about it,” Peridot answered without looking at her. She was trying her very best to mix a Tequila Sunrise without getting bothered by the yells of drunk costumers. “Hey, you didn’t happen to see Lapis in your travels, did you?”

Sadie laughed at the term. “I traveled far and wide, found many lesbians, but none of them were yours.”

“Lapis isn’t mine,” Peridot laughed as well. Finishing the drink, she turned to high five the waitress and leave. “Good luck.”

“May the odds be ever in our favor.” Sadie reciprocated the gesture and dove once again into the wall of people. “Coming in!”

The night went by and Jenny and Buck finally showed up at the bar. Both were absolutely wasted and sweating like pigs from dancing so much, which was understandable. They wanted to be there for Sour Cream for as long as bearable, so when they arrived, Peridot immediately handed both of them 3 bottles of water. “Give one to Sour Cream!”

“P-dot you’re the best bartender this bar’s ever had, you know that?” Jenny stumbled on her words but managed to grab the bottles. “I could kiss you if you weren’t dating and monogamous.”

“I’m not, actually,” Then she paused, feeling the need to clarify. “Dating, I mean.”

“Aww, don’t bring my hopes up like that just to destroy them so quickly!” The girl laughed. “Where your girlfriend at?”

“We’re not—” Peridot stopped, knowing fully well that explaining once again wasn’t going to work anyway. “She didn’t arrive yet.”

“She’s coming though, right?” Buck asked, genuinely concerned that if Lapis didn’t show up, Peridot would have a mental breakdown of sorts.

“She said she would,” Peri smiled at the exaggerated apprehension. “She’s probably just lost in the crowd somewhere.”

“We should go find her!” Jenny grabbed Buck’s arm and dragged him back into the pit of doom. “We’ll be right back, Peri-Peri!”

“You really don’t have to!” The bartender tried to argue, but the couple was already long gone. She shook her head and chuckled, then turned her attention back to the costumers. Grabbing three bottles of beer, Peridot walked all the way to the other side of the counter and sighed, a bit frustrated that her break was probably not going to happen – not with the number of people that came out that night.

“Hey, bartender! I’ve been waiting for my Blue Hawaii for an hour, where is it?” Someone yelled from her side and Peri rolled her eyes.

“I highly doubt it was an hour, seeing as I don’t recall this order.”

“Oh yeah? Come and say it to my face!”

Placing the bottles down with a sigh, Peridot turned. “I said—” The sentence was interrupted as a pair of lips pressed against hers, and she jolted backwards, startled. She was about to call the security when a blur of blue hair came into focus, and her chest almost broke out of her ribcage. “Lapis!”

“Didn’t recognize my voice?” Lapis smirked, quite amused at the reaction.

“It’s too damn loud today,” Peridot replied with a blush. Honestly she was too immersed in her own thoughts to pay attention to drunk costumers, but not recognizing Lapis’ voice was quite shameful. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m kidding. Come here,” Lapis smiled softly and Peridot looked both ways before stepping forward. She bent down a bit and felt her lips touching Lapis’ again, softly and warm. She opened her mouth without really meaning to and deepened the kiss, missing the taste of Lapis’ tongue on hers. As soon as she felt teeth brushing her lower lip, Peridot sighed. Unfortunately, she was quite busy, so it didn’t last as long as she wished; pulling back, Peridot ruffled her hair shyly.

“Missed you.” Lapis said with cheeks flushed.

“Me too,” Peri answered sheepishly. “I-I need to take some orders. Are you gonna stay here?”

“Yeah. I’ll make some friends, maybe. This place is crowded today.”

“I know!” She put both hands in the air, and Lapis laughed at the reaction. “I was really looking forward to my break, too, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”

“It’s okay. We have time.”

Hearing Lapis say that made Peridot’s world spin. It was such an innocent statement, but with so much weight behind it – like Lapis was declaring that she wanted to stay and make some memories together for a long time. It was probably silly to think like that, but Peridot had always been a hopeless romantic. She hadn’t even told the girl how she really felt about her, and there she was, dreaming about a future.

“Alright.” Peridot halted and quickly pecked the girl’s lips again. “Enjoy your night.”

Lapis smiled, “Thanks.”

As soon as Peri left, Lapis propped her head up with one hand and just watched as the bartender worked, meticulously, efficiently, and passionately. Everything she did looked like a masterpiece in her eyes, and something on the pits of her stomach fluttered, and suddenly Lapis was really scared of admiring someone this much. It was so completely new and devastatingly real, that she called for the other bartender and ordered two shots of tequila at once to get rid of dangerous thoughts.

Perhaps dancing was in order.

Gulping down the drinks as soon as they arrived, Lapis got up and squeezed her way to the dance floor. Somehow she managed to find Sadie in her way and just shot her a thumbs up, receiving another in return. Finally arriving at her destination, she cleared her head and let the beat of the music guide her movements. Sour Cream was boosting a rap beat, which created a heated atmosphere in the place, but she didn’t mind. Some girls approached her out of nowhere and started dancing together, moving incredibly well and doing some sort of choreographed dance. Lapis laughed at this and tried to match their movements, but failed miserably. The girls applauded her efforts and waved goodbye, moving to another spot.

She accidentally bumped into someone and smiled widely when she realized it was Jenny. “Hey!”

“Lapis!” Jenny immediately went for a crooked hug and Lapis could tell she was drunk. “We found you! Buck, I found Lapis, we need to take her to Per-Per!”

Buck just gave her a thumbs up and Lapis laughed. “What?”

“We promised Peri we’d find you amongst the people and we did!”

“I think I found you, actually.”

“Oh,” Jenny looked crestfallen at that, but cheered up in no time. “You did! Where’s your girlfriend?”

“Oh, me and Peridot are not dating!” Lapis felt a bit bad at how fast she explained herself. The word ‘girlfriend’ sent a jolt through her body and she felt a bit nervous, so she tried to change to subject to something less complicated. “Sour Cream’s playlist today is great!”

“You’re not dating??” Jenny apparently wasn’t going to drop it. She put both hands on her cheeks, completely shocked. “No way!”

“Y-yeah, hah.” Lapis laughed anxiously, rubbing her arm. “I can see why you’d think that, though.”

“You’re so cute together! Buck, aren’t they cute together?”

“Not as cute as Sour Cream,” The boy pointed to his boyfriend up on the stage and sent him a shout out.

“Duh, no one is as cute as Sour Cream,” Jenny agreed and turned back to Lapis. “Well, since you’re single, come dance with us, girl!” She grabbed both her hands and pulled her next to the speakers. Buck followed and the trio started dancing happily together, without a single care in the world.

The drinks weren’t enough to get Lapis drunk, but they did make her giddy and full of energy. The party was great despite the crowd; no weirdos tried getting into their personal space and at some point Buck started breakdancing, much to everyone’s amusement. Jenny laughed until there were tears in her eyes, and Lapis couldn’t help but to join. Buck couldn’t get up after spinning so much and when Jenny tried to bend over to help him up, she fell too. The couple laughed even harder at that and Lapis grabbed her stomach, which was hurting from laughing so much. She offered a hand at them after getting a hold of herself and Jenny reached for it – only to pull her down too.

Lapis shrieked in surprise but didn’t hurt herself. She fell right into Jenny and Buck’s embrace and the three started laughing again. She felt safe despite the crazy situation and buried her head on the crook of Jenny’s neck. Buck ruffled his fingers on his hair and exhaled a happy sigh. “I’m drunk.”

“Me too,” Jenny agreed. She looked down and saw Lapis with her eyes closed and a very happy smile on her face. “Are you drunk too, cutie?”

“Nah,” She rolled to the side to take a look at the ceiling. The colorful lights flashed in an unspeakable speed, but Lapis basked in the adrenaline of it all. “I might be high on music, though.”

“That’s the best feeling in the world.” Jenny moved her head to place a kiss on top of Lapis’ head. “I wish P-dot was here lying down with us.”

“Me too,” Buck agreed.

“…Yeah.” Lapis swallowed hard. Just mentioning the bartender made her heart skip a beat and she sighed. “Feelings are complicated.”

“No they’re not,” Jenny and Buck said in unison and laughed dumbly at that.

“Why not?” Lapis asked, curiously.

“You just gotta be honest with them and you’ll be fine. For example,” Jenny looked down at her. “I’d totally kiss you, but I won’t because it would make Peri sad.”

“It would?” It was a dumb question.

“Yeah it would, baby.”

“Why?”

“Because she loves you, that’s why.”

It was a bit weird getting counseling from drunk Jenny while lying down on the floor of a pub right next to speakers blasting loud music, but somehow Lapis needed this to sort out her feelings. “Oh.”

“Oh wait, she didn’t tell you that yet.” Jenny closed her eyes. “Oops, never mind. Just pretend you didn’t know when she does.”

“Okay.” Lapis simply agreed because there really wasn’t much she could say at that moment. The trio sighed together and kept still for a while before someone inevitably started yelling at them to get the fuck up. They started laughing at that.

“We should really stand up, you guys.” Buck deadpanned, and the girls agreed. Obviously, they struggled at this task. It took them a while to actually stand up, and Jenny excused herself to go to the bathroom. Lapis followed her since Buck couldn’t actually go into the girls’ bathroom – which was weird considering it was a gay bar – and a few minutes later she found herself holding back Jenny’s hair as she puked in the toilet.

That was a really weird night, but one Lapis was grateful for. At least it helped her realize a few things.

Chapter Text

Amethyst had to admit she didn’t really like the junkyard when the moon wasn’t full. The surroundings of the place were already dark enough with so many rusted cars piled up on top of each other and mountains of crates and other garbage, so the illumination from the big nice ball in the sky was a welcomed sight. Alas, she couldn’t have everything she wanted, and so Amethyst’s flashlight guided her through the path to her relaxation.

Upon arriving at the usual spot, Amethyst stretched the blanket and started the cozy warm fire. She plopped down with a content smile and opened her first beer, gulping down the cold beverage with gusto. Looking up, Amethyst pouted at the lack of stars in the sky that night – the weather was cloudy, after all. She missed Peridot’s rambling about astronomy and science, and just her best friend’s presence overall. The time they’d spent together at the junkyard about two weeks ago was fun, and Amethyst cherished the moments they shared away from home. Sometimes she had selfish thoughts about Peridot skipping work just to hang out, but such ideas soon disappeared; they couldn’t afford it. Maybe in the future.

“Ahh... That’s the life,” Finishing her beer, Amethyst lied down with her arms sprawled to the side and scratched her exposed stomach. That shirt was too small for her, but she was attached to it – it had been a Peri present.

A sudden sound made her sit up immediately and she looked over at the crates above her head a few steps away. Someone was climbing up with a flashlight in hands and Amethyst smiled at the now familiar silhouette. “I’m sorry miss, you can’t trespass. I’ll have to arrest you.”

The figure stopped and pointed the light towards Ame. Realizing she wasn’t alone, she chuckled. “Please, officer, have mercy.”

“Oh, if you beg real nice I might,” Amethyst smirked and grabbed a cigarette from her back pocket. Then she threw the package as far as she could, hoping it would reach the woman. Incredibly, it did, and Lapis snatched it with one hand. “Are you gonna come down here or am I really gonna have to climb?”

A soft orange glow danced through Lapis’ features as she lit up one cigarette, and she inhaled the smoke before starting to make her way down. “Hold up.”

A couple of seconds later and Lapis was sitting down next to Amethyst and saying ‘cheers’ with a beer can in hands. Both girls chugged down the drink and Amethyst burped loudly, making Lapis laugh a lot. “Bless you.”

“Thanks. I used to know how to burp the entire alphabet, but Peridot always punched me afterwards and now I can’t. Guess I developed a trauma.”

“Oh, that’s such a shame.”

“I know! Such bullshit,” Amethyst brought the cigarette to her lips and inhaled. Being alone with Lapis for the first time like this was quite relaxing, and Ame could almost see what Peridot meant whenever she said the blue-haired girl felt like freedom. There was something untamed about her, a trait Amethyst really admired in people, because she was the same. Humans didn’t need to be loud and outgoing to look alive, and that was something Amethyst was starting to learn about life lately. Pearl also looked vibrant whenever she worked on new sketches and drawings – passionate was the word. Honestly, lately Amethyst was starting to doubt her own qualities and liveliness just by being side by side with people like Lapis and Pearl. Even Peridot looked looser than usual, and that was saying something. Taking another gulp, she changed subjects. “Speaking of the nerd, why are you here? Thought you’d go to the pub tonight.”

“I went yesterday,” Lapis shifted her gaze to the sky. “I just missed this place. I used to come here a lot more often, but lately I’ve just been… busy, I guess.”

“Busy, huh.” Amethyst smirked. “That’s got a name and starts with a P.”

“Yeah,” Lapis scratched the back of her neck nervously and took another sip of the beverage. “I really like spending time with her.”

“She loves talking to you, too. Girl won’t shut up about you, actually, it’s kind of annoying.”

“Sorry for bothering you, oh Great Dollar Store Butterfly.”

Amethyst threw her head back and laughed loudly at that. “Oh, man, that was the best idea I’ve had in ages! I actually got the job because of it, did I tell you that?”

“No way.”

“Yes way. Next time you walk by The Temple make sure to come in. I’ll ask Garnet to tell you how incredible my tattoos were.”

“That’s your boss?” Lapis finished her drink and reached across Amethyst to grab another.

“One of them,” Ame leaned back and touched her back in a rusted car. “The other one is Pearl. Tall, pink hair, actual angel.”

“Actual crush.” Lapis smirked with a cigarette hanging out from her mouth.

“True. But hey, I’ve got plenty of those.” Ame closed her eyes and sighed. “It’s not like I can ask her out, though. She’s my boss and I really can’t be fired. It’s not fair to Peri.”

Lapis nodded, understandingly. She remembered Peridot mentioning Amethyst usually lasted 3 months on a job and then quitted. Maybe things would be different this time; Lapis wished for the best for both friends.

She moved to sit next to Amethyst and leaned against the cold metal vehicle too. A comfortable silence settled in between them and nobody spoke for a couple of minutes. The crackling sound coming from the fire was relaxing and Lapis felt safe with Amethyst by her side despite the pitch-black darkness of the junkyard. She was glad to be talking like this to the girl for the first time; they’ve been silently sharing the same spot for a few months but never interacted before. And now, thanks to Peridot, she made another friend.

Lapis sometimes reminisced the time they first met and smiled at it – the conditions were so bizarre back then. Lapis was just amused by the jittery blonde who wouldn’t stop mumbling and decided to make her presence known for some reason. After that, another twist of life, and the girl was coincidentally the bartender of this random pub Lapis had never visited before. Lapis didn’t believe in destiny, but it was still quite interesting.

Her heart started racing as she thought about it, so she turned her attention back to the beer.

“Wanna play a game?” Amethyst asked suddenly, putting out the cigarette.

“Oh. Sure,” Lapis rolled her head towards the girl, lazily.

“Okay, it’s called Never Have I Ever. Know that one?”

“Not really,” And she didn’t, because there hadn’t been many opportunities to play such games in her life.

“So I say something like… ‘never have I ever had blue hair’. If you have done the thing, you take a sip of your beer. If you haven’t, you don’t. Got it?”

“Sounds simple enough,” And with that, she drank.

“That was just an example, dumbass!” Amethyst chuckled, elbowing her sides.

“I know, I was just thirsty.” Lapis replied with a smug grin and Ame rolled her eyes.

“Okay, I’ll start. Never have I ever been a vegetarian.”

None of them drank and Lapis chortled at the specific statement. “That was random.”

“I’m creative. Your turn.”

“Hmm… never have I ever… watched Star Wars.” When Lapis didn’t drink, Amethyst gaped.

Bullshit,” She almost shrieked, genuinely shocked. “That’s like saying you’ve never watched the freaking Titanic!”

Lapis didn’t answer and just grinned crookedly, making Amethyst put a hand on her chest, offended. “Holy shit, okay, I’m gonna need to have a serious conversation with Peridot about her dates.”

“We’re not really dating,” Lapis moved her gaze somewhere else, which didn’t go past Amethyst unnoticed. Her overprotective senses kicked in and she raised an eyebrow.

“Ohh, you’re not? Did you tell Peridot that, cause I’m not sure she knows it.”

Lapis noticed the sharper tone and flinched. She really hadn’t meant to sound ungrateful or anything, it was just a bit scary. “I mean, we’ve never… talked about it. I think she knows. We’re just seeing each other and enjoying each other’s company for now,” Lapis brought the cigarette back to her mouth and inhaled the last of it. “Anyway, back to the game. Your turn.”

“Hm.” Amethyst side-eyed the girl, but decided to let her off the hook for now. But not without another jab. “Alright. Never have I ever had a serious girlfriend. Or boyfriend.” She drank at that, but Lapis didn’t, which honestly didn’t surprise Amethyst that much. “Ohhhh, I see.”

“What?” Lapis shifted on her spot, raising her defenses.

“Just messing with ya,” Amethyst smiled softly. “I get it. Relationships are scary, right?”

“…Yeah.” She pushed her hair back, looking at the sky. “But hey, you had one. With someone incredible, too.”

“So she did tell you we dated.” Amethyst laughed. “It turned out to be a disaster, though. Don’t get me wrong, Peri is great, amazing even. But we just didn’t match like that, you know?”

“I understand.”

“Still, I’m glad we met. She’s different, you know,” Her grin was full of memories and fondness for the tiny blonde bartender. “Much more…”

“Bright.” Lapis mumbled, unconsciously.

“Good word,” Amethyst agreed, and Lapis blushed realizing she’d said it out loud. It was true, though, and she wasn’t ashamed of putting it out there. Meeting Peridot was like looking up from the bottom of the suffocating ocean and spotting a source of light for the first time in twenty years. It wasn’t something she could brush aside like it was nothing. Lapis wished she had the courage to say these things to Peridot one day, but it was still so hard for her to express genuine feelings. The weight of the cold water around her was too familiar, and she was absolutely terrified of reaching the surface. But slowly, she felt like she was getting there.

“Your turn, bud.” Amethyst’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Oh. Uh… Never have I ever… kissed a guy.” Both drank and giggled.

“Thought you were all into ladies.” Amethyst teased.

“Yeah, I realized I was after kissing said guy.”

“Savage,” She smirked and grabbed another cigarette. “Never have I ever had sex with a guy.”

Lapis chuckled, shaking her head. “Isn’t kissing one enough?”

“Sweet child, every human being is wonderful and fuckable. Learn this.” Ame said in between sips, then paused. “I mean, as long as they are of consenting age and everyone is cool with it.”

“I’ll take this wisdom to my grave.”

“Good,” Amethyst felt her face heating up from the alcohol and realized she should probably tone down with her own statements. “Okay pick something that won’t make me drink, I actually need to get home in one piece.”

“If you beg me real nice, I might.” Lapis smirked, repeating Ame’s words from before, and the girl had to bite her cheek to stop from smiling too hard.

“You little shit.”

“Thanks.” She pursed her lips, deep in thought. “Never have I ever… gotten arrested.”

“I said something that wouldn’t make me drink.”

“What!”

“I’m joking!” Amethyst laughed and received an eyeroll in return. “Not yet, anyway. If I ever do, it’ll probably be for trespassing. Either that or public indecency.”

“There are worst things you could get arrested for.” Lapis grinned lazily.

“Bless it up. Okay, uh… Never have I ever… um…”

“What happened to your creativity?”

“Shut up, I’m trying to think of something I didn’t do, but that you probably might have,” She passed her cigarette to Lapis and the girl accepted it, inhaling contently. “Okay, never have I ever ridden someone’s face.”

Lapis blushed immediately at the sudden shift of the conversation, but slowly brought the beer to her lips. “You suck.”

“Yes, plenty actually.” Apparently, their dialogue was now going to be full of sexual innuendos.

“And you really want me to believe you haven’t?” Lapis doubted that.

“I rather give others pleasure than get it myself, it’s just how I roll.” Her smirk was crooked, yet proud, and Lapis couldn’t help but to imagine certain situations. Shaking her head to get rid of these thoughts involving Amethyst of all people, she rebutted.

“Fine. Never have I ever used a sex toy.”

“You goddamn prude,” Amethyst drank, amused. “Honestly, it just enhances the experience! Remind me to take you to an actual sex shop one day.”

“I’ll make a mental note.”

“I’m serious, Peri will be thankful. Wanna know all her little kinks?” And with that, Lapis could swear all the blood in her body rushed to her face at once. She was surprised that she was still able to reply coherently, but when the words left her mouth, she realized the five cans of beer she had somehow consumed without realizing were probably starting to get to her.

“Yes.”

The silence was so deadly that when Amethyst burst out laughing, Lapis actually jumped on her seat. “Seriously?! Holy shit, I’ll tell you right fucking now—”

“N-no, it’s okay! I was kidding!” She tried to fix the embarrassing situation, but how could she when Amethyst was clearly in the mood to spill all of Peridot’s little secrets. Lapis would be lying if she told her she wasn’t interested, honestly – not after what they did on the phone. “…She has kinks?” Then another thought struck her. “Wait, how do you know that?”

“Uh… we dated?”

“Oh. I didn’t think you had… slept together.”

“It was only once, relax.” Amethyst scratched her belly and finished her beer. “It’s just weird thinking about it. But it did happen, it’s not like I can erase that fact from my mind.”

Lapis nodded. There were a few things she wished she could erase from her mind regarding sex –Images of dark chocolate hair sprawled against her body as she was bitten and scratched flashed through her mind, and she sighed. Everything her and Jasper had ever done had been completely consensual, but still, it left a bitter taste on her mouth.

“Still wanna know those kinks?” Amethyst asked, irritatingly persistent. And Lapis actually thought long and deep about it, but eventually reached a conclusion.

“…I kind of want to find these things out myself. With her.” Thinking about discovering new bits and pieces of Peridot everyday made her heart flutter. She didn’t want others to spoil the secrets behind the bartender’s smile – Lapis wanted to be the one to unravel them. Like a flower, she wanted to be able to watch it grow. It was the first time in her entire existence that she felt this intense desire of being a part of someone’s life. Usually her own fucked up past stopped her from creating meaningful bonds with others, but with Peridot it was like a blank page was filling up with color.

It was so very warm.

“Gotcha.” Amethyst smiled softly at her, and Lapis returned the expression, thankful. “Can I finish this game?”

“Go for it.”

“Never have I ever fallen in love.”

A second passed, then two, and the beer cans remained untouched. Amethyst closed her eyes, her understanding smile never leaving her face. “Alright, then.” She got up and yawned, stretching her lazy muscles. “Well, guess I should be going. Are you coming too?”

“I’ll stick around for a bit longer.”

“Okay,” Bending down and picking up the empty cans, Amethyst put them all in a plastic bag and Lapis got up to help her fold the blanket. Once the spot was practically clean – save from the fire still burning – both girls high fived a goodbye. “Good chat today. I’m glad we got to talk more.”

“Me too,” Lapis nodded. “Let’s do this again.”

“Hey, I’m here every Friday. See ya, Lapz.” With that, Amethyst turned around and waved goodbye. Lapis sat back down and looked up at the sky, feeling a fresh breeze flowing through her colored locks. A few stars were visible now that the sky had cleared a bit and her stomach turned with a giddy feeling. She shifted her gaze towards her half-empty beer can and thought back on Amethyst’s last phrase to finish the game.

Then, ever so slowly, she took a sip.

Chapter Text

Lapis was starting to become very aware of the weight of the cellphone in her hands, seeing as she had taken it out of her pocket fifteen minutes ago and was still holding it in the same position. Sitting on her bed and looking down at the metal device wasn’t the exact definition of a good time, but still, she had to do it. It was a pleasant afternoon; sunny and just a bit chilly, perfect for spending it outside, but for some reason she had to do this task inside the house. It just felt right, even though the whole situation was messed up.

Jasper hasn’t contacted her in days and she was worried.

Lapis sighed and threw her head back. She didn’t need to call her – she didn’t want to call her. Jasper was a 28-year-old rugby athlete who could break a person’s neck with her bare hands, nothing bad could possibly have happened to her. Besides, if it had, there would be news about it. Her team wasn’t exactly famous, but it was popular around the area, and she had some fans. The local news would have reported something about it, undoubtedly, so there was no need for Lapis to worry about her well-being.

She didn’t even know why she was feeling so anxious about it. Wasn’t the point of splitting up for them to not have to see and talk to each other every day? Ever since deepening her friendship with Peridot and her friends, Lapis hadn’t need to talk or think about Jasper at all, and it was a good thing. They needed to go their separate ways; being together brought nothing but painful memories and awkward sexual tension, things that Lapis didn’t need in her life. She had good people surrounding her now.

But did Jasper?

“Ughhhh,” Falling on her back, Lapis dialed and waited for the woman to pick the goddamn phone. It ringed once, then twice, and three times. Normally when Jasper saw Lapis’ number on her screen it was an immediate response. Maybe she was taking a bath, or jogging, or—

“Yeah?”

Or not. Lapis felt her throat tightening, but sighed, relieved, at the same time. How could someone make her feel nervous and relaxed both at once?

“Hey,” She managed. Okay, now that she’d made sure Jasper was alive, she could hang up. “What are you doing?” Of course she didn’t. It was a like a curse.

“Lunch,” Jasper replied, casually. “Why, is something wrong?”

Why would you care? Lapis wanted to ask, but being rude to an innocent question was just going to bring unnecessary conflict. “You stopped sending messages, so I was just wondering. I’ll hang up now.”

“Oh,” She sounded surprised. “No, I was just… giving you space. You said you met someone, so I assumed you were hanging out with them.”

Lapis frowned at this, a bit shocked. It was so genuinely considerate of Jasper that she didn’t really know what to answer. “I— I was, actually.” She couldn’t believe she stuttered, but it was too late to take it back. There was an awkward pause in the conversation and Lapis didn’t know why she hadn’t hung up yet, but something pushed her to speak. “What about you?”

“Huh?”

“Are you seeing anyone?” Casual chatter with Jasper was so weird. Lapis couldn’t remember the last time they had talked without being naked in bed, and the situation was very disconcerting.

“Uh… no,” Clearly Jasper wasn’t expecting Lapis to keep talking to her either. “I’ve been busy with practice lately. I’m taking a break this week, though.”

“Oh, okay.” Another weird silence hung in the air, probably advising her to hang up now.

“I’m going to the city center on Tuesday.” Jasper spoke suddenly.

“Okay?”

“Just… giving you a heads up.” Jasper wanted to make sure they wouldn’t randomly bump into each other in the street, and Lapis understood that. She nodded unconsciously, thankful for the warning.

“Alright.” Then a pause. “Thanks.”

“Yeah,” Jasper moved the phone to another hand as she stirred the pan in the oven. “So…”

Alright, now was definitely the time for them to cease this conversation. “Uh, yeah. I gotta go.”

“’Kay. Take care.” And with that, the phone went silent. Lapis was bewildered – to say the least – at Jasper’s unusual care and thoughtfulness, but she shook her head to dismiss the whole bizarre scenario. It was a Sunday, meaning Peridot didn’t have to go to work, and they were going to hang out in a few hours. Lapis filled her mind with thoughts of the bartender to calm down, and as always, it did wonders. She smiled as she rolled to the side and decided to leave her phone at home. She wanted to enjoy every minute with Peridot without distractions, so nothing would ruin the day for her.

Putting on her black leather jacket and rugged jeans, Lapis grabbed her keys and made her way downstairs. Leaving the house was always a good sensation, but knowing who would be waiting for her when she did was a whole new experience.


“Okay, pink or blue?” Peridot asked as she leaned on the doorframe of Amethyst’s room and put two shirts in front of her body.

“It depends, is it a boy or a girl?” Ame replied, not taking her eyes off the gossip magazine she had bought.

Peridot let out an exasperated sigh. “Spoilers: Brad and Angelina break up. Now get your head out of the tabloids and give me an opinion!”

“How could you do this to me, I had just started Season 20 of The Jolie-Pitt’s.” Amethyst threw her magazine on the floor and lazily peeked to see what the ruckus was all about. “Honestly you look like a flaming lesbian in both.”

“Why do I bother,” Peridot huffed and walked away, making Amethyst snicker.

“Come back nerd, let me take a look.”

Not two seconds later and the bartender was back, shifting from one shirt to another. Amethyst grabbed her chin and squeezed her eyes deep in thought, and ultimately came to a decision. “Pink.”

“Really?” Peridot put on the pink flannel and stared at her own reflection in the mirror next to Amethyst’s shelf. “Don’t you think blue matches better with black pants?”

“Literally any color matches with black.” Amethyst rolled her eyes. “And why did you even ask if you were going to ignore my opinion completely?”

“I’m not ignoring, I’m just… questioning your objectivity.”

“That means ‘ignoring’ in the P-ctionary.”

 “Ugh, fine.” Tossing both hands in the air Peridot walked back to her room and put the blue shirt back in the wardrobe. Besides, she remembered Lapis saying that the only reason she got obsessed with the color blue was because of her horrible adoptive mother – Peridot didn’t want to bring back bad memories or anything of the sort with her garment.

Moving to the bathroom, she washed her face and tried to brush her short spiky hair as best as possible – which always turned out to be a complete failure. Then she rinsed her mouth and sprayed some perfume and deodorant. Her eyes roamed around, looking for her contact lenses, but they were nowhere to be found. She crouched to search under the cabinet and sink, then somewhere in her room, but no luck.

“Amethyst, did you see my contact lenses??” Peridot yelled from her room.

“Behind your pill case!” Ame’s muffled voice replied, and upon moving the object, Peridot indeed found them.

“Thanks!” She removed her glasses and carefully inserted one gooey lens on her left eye, then on her right. Blinking to get rid of the watery feel, Peridot dried her cheeks with a towel and entered Amethyst’s room again. “Can you—”

“Do your make-up?” She was already holding a small brush and smirked. “Come here.”

Peridot exhaled a soft laugh and sat cross-legged on the bed, facing her best friend. Amethyst had always been the one to do her make-up whenever she went on social events or dates, since Peridot was a complete disaster when it came to such things. Ame had a natural talent for glamour and beauty, and with years of experience pampering and experimenting different styles of make-up on Peridot, she already knew what worked best. The blonde liked it simple; enhancing her features with a soft blush, some lipstick and light smoky eyeshadow.

“I can’t believe you’re actually forsaking your glasses for this girl,” Ame mumbled as she worked.

“The lenses are more practical.” Peri replied with her eyes closed.

“Right.” Ame chuckled. “You’re putting on make-up, dude, you’re not fooling anybody.”

“Shut up.”

Amethyst’s smile never left her face, and she stopped talking to just look at her friend for a moment. Peridot looked so happy. It had been a while since she’d seen her best friend this head over heels for someone, and while she appreciated everything Lapis was doing for her, she was also afraid. The game on the junkyard was still fresh in Amethyst’s head, and if Lapis was being honest, she wasn’t quite in love with Peridot yet. Of course love wasn’t a word someone could say openly and lightly – Amethyst herself had never truly experienced something like it before – but she didn’t want Peridot to get heartbroken. At the same time, however, she couldn’t hold it against Lapis.

Because Amethyst had been there.

She’d had more one night stands than she could possibly count, and whenever some of these people decided to call her back she just ignored them. Some were worthy of at least breakfast in bed (she liked to think of herself as a perfect gentlewoman), but more than this was rare. Of course, there had been exceptions where Amethyst hung out with her sex buddies for a month or so, but when she felt herself getting perhaps too attached, she broke things off immediately. It was just terrifying for her.

That was why she had decided to go on a blind date when she met Peridot. She wanted to try to fix this terrible habit of hers, and when she accepted dating this blonde nerd, she never thought things would go so well. Of course they decided to break things up, but Amethyst gained a true best friend with this experience, and she couldn’t be happier with it. If she had to admit, Peridot was the closest thing she’d ever gotten to love someone.

“What?” Peri’s voice broke her thoughts. A sudden rush of emotion ran through Amethyst’s body and she put the brush down to pinch her cheeks.

“I love you, you asshole.” And that was the biggest display of affection she’d ever shown her best friend. Peridot pushed her back and raised an eyebrow.

“What’s gotten into you?”

“I just realized I never told you that,” She thought for a bit. “At least not sober, anyway.”

The confused look on Peri’s face was priceless, and Amethyst returned to the make-up to hide her embarrassment. It was always weird for her to display raw affection like this to someone she actually cared a whole lot about, so she just tried to think about something else. Finally finishing the make-up, Amethyst leaned back. “Whatcha think?”

Peridot blinked and walked over to the mirror. She immediately smiled at the result; Amethyst was truly great at this. “Loved it. Thanks, Ame.”

“Lapis is gonna love it too, don’t worry.”

“…I wasn’t worried,” Peri lied, and Amethyst just chortled.

“Whatever you say. Go, you’re late already.”

“Right!” Peridot grabbed a purse and stuffed the apartment’s keys in it. She was about to leave Amethyst’s room when she stopped and turned. “Hey, I love you too, you sentimental potato.” And with that she left.

Amethyst stood frozen in place for a second before cracking a smile and falling backwards on her pillow. “Nerd.”


The street was calm for a Sunday, which Lapis appreciated. She wasn’t used to go to the city center in the early afternoons, usually she was either sleeping or walking around her neighborhood. For some reason she always pictured downtown as a crowded and restless spot this time of the day, so unless it was a bar or a nightclub, Lapis didn’t really care for socializing. The sunlight made her feel somewhat exposed; she liked it better when the lights were dim and there were walls around blocking the world outside. The only time she liked being out in the open was when it was too dark for people to acknowledge she was there.

Blowing her last cloud of smoke, Lapis put out the cigarette and looked around for the girl she was waiting for. Peridot was a bit late, which was unusual, but she knew it was just her anxiety speaking. First Jasper, and now Peridot; she really needed to get a hold of herself today.

Her loneliness didn’t last much, however.

“Hey!” Peridot waved from a distance as she walked in quick steps to get to Lapis, and the girl grinned, waving back. Getting close to Lapis, Peridot stopped to breathe a little and then shot the girl the brightest smile ever. “Sorry I’m late!”

“You’re not that late,” Lapis giggled. That was when she took the time to truly look at Peridot, and she felt her heart do a somersault. She wasn’t wearing her glasses, her hair was looking puffier than normal, and— was she wearing make-up?

The thought that she had put so much effort just to meet her today made Lapis’ insides catch fire.

“Wow,” She let out without meaning to.

“Wow?” Peri echoed.

“Y-yeah, I mean…” Lapis bit her bottom lip and smiled. “You’re really pretty.”

Peridot felt the blush rise to her face immediately and all the hairs in the back of her neck stand up. “T-thanks. Amethyst did most of it, honestly.”

Lapis shook her head. “Even if she did help, your face is still 99% you.”

This date hadn’t even started and Peridot was already so doomed. There was no way to even begin explaining what Lapis did to her when they were just side by side doing nothing, and now there she was, complimenting her like this. God, she was so…

“What am I supposed to say to that!” She asked exasperated, because really, how could she compete with this?

Lapis laughed out loud at her flustered reaction. “Nothing, I just wanted to tell you.”

“W-well, you’re pretty too!”

“It’s not a competition,” She mentioned in between giggled. “Besides, I kind of feel like a mess compared to you.”

“You’re a beautiful mess, then.” Peridot replied, not taking no for an answer. Lapis blinked at this, genuinely surprised at the attempt, because it worked. She felt the truthfulness in her words and her stomach twisted with a wonderful feeling.

“Okay, then.” And then she bent down, cupping Peridot’s cheek with one hand and placing a tender kiss on the girl’s lips. The response was immediate; the bartender touched the back of her neck and played with the hairs there lazily as they explored yet another great kiss. That was definitely one of Peridot’s favorite parts of hanging out with Lapis – her kisses were nothing like any other.

They had to part eventually because they couldn’t spend the whole day just kissing in the sidewalk – even if Peridot wouldn’t be completely opposed to the idea. “Let’s go?”

“Yeah,” Lapis answered and both girls started walking. Their hands brushed against each other accidentally time and time again, and after a few moments, Lapis decided to allow herself to be happy for once in her life, and gently wrapped her pinky around Peridot’s. The blonde looked at her surprised at the action, but didn’t mention anything. She smiled, tightening the grip on the delicate finger and kept walking with an incredibly giddy heart.


“You’re kidding me, you’ve never had Joel’s Triple Cheese Hot Sauce Smooth Bun Hot Dog?!” The way Peridot asked, it looked like Lapis had committed the most hideous of crimes.

“I’ve had Fryman’s Triple Cheese Fry Bits, does that count?” She tried to defend herself from the shocked eyes of the girl beside her on the line, but to no avail.

“No! You’re getting one right now and it’s gonna be great.” Peri countered and Lapis could only smile at how adorable she was. The date had started somewhat shaky because of the amount of fondness she felt for this girl – a feeling she didn’t really know how to contain in such a small heart – but now that they had engaged in casual conversations, everything was going smoothly.

“I trust that I won’t get food poison, then.” Lapis smirked and Peridot put a hand on her chest, as if offended. It was a quirk she probably got from Amethyst, Lapis realized.

“Joel’s Triple Cheese Hot Sauce Smooth Bun Hot Dog is so perfect that it repulses bacteria automatically.”

“If it’s so good, though, wouldn’t bacteria want to eat it?”

Peridot squinted her eyes. “Don’t twist my words, lady.”

“Next!” Lapis’ smart rebuttal was cut short by the food truck’s employee, which probably wasn’t Joel. Peridot ordered two Joel’s Triple Cheese Hot Sauce Smooth Bun Hot Dogs and waited on the spot next to the line for the delicious meal.

Their plans for today were: have lunch and just walk around town a little, visiting stores they thought were interesting and talking about whatever came to mind. It wasn’t a perfectly planned date, but just like their first one, it didn’t need to be. Being together and letting things happen in their own pace was all they needed to have a fulfilling day, and Peridot hoped to have a lot of time to get to know Lapis. Sure, she already knew most of her past and the horrible things she’d been through, but now she wanted to know about the good things too. Like what kind of music she liked, and if she’d ever been to a karaoke. Maybe they could go to one.

“Numbers 78 and 79!” The cashier called their numbers and Peridot grabbed both hot dogs with a smile.

“Here,” She handed one over to Lapis.

“Okay, these are huge.” She tried to grab it without dirtying her hand with grease, but it was impossible.

“A balanced meal. We have carbs, protein, vegetables…”

“Vegetables where??” Lapis laughed.

“I’m sure they probably mixed some lettuce in our cheese because the lady next to us ordered a BTL Hot Dog.”

They cracked up at this and moved to sit down in one of the vacant tables near the food truck. Then Peridot had a better idea. “Wait, don’t sit. Follow me.”

Lapis felt her legs giving in and just chasing after the blonde mindlessly, and after crossing the street and walking through a patch of grass, she found herself face to face with the river. It was the closest she’d ever been to the water, and the freshness hit her nostrils immediately.

“Let’s eat by the riverbank,” Peridot suggested and Lapis nodded with a smile. That sounded like the best idea in the world right now. Walking a few more steps, the river came closer and closer, and they finally sat down. The spot was completely empty as far as eyes could see and Lapis enjoyed the little privacy. Of course, the beautiful view didn’t pass unnoticed either.

“It’s even more gorgeous from up close,” Lapis muttered.

“It’s my favorite thing about this town.” Peridot agreed. “Well, second favorite.”

“What’s the first one?”

Peridot just looked at her for a while and without saying anything bit down on her hot dog. Lapis shoved her to the side with her shoulder, playfully. “Hey, tell me!”

“Later.” Peri replied with a blush and a mouthful. “Eat your Joel’s Triple Cheese Hot Sauce Smooth Bun Hot Dog, it’s gonna get cold.”

“So terrible,” She smirked, but did as she was told. It took her a while to actually figure out a way of biting it without spilling everything, but eventually she managed. Lapis’ eyes widened and gleamed as soon as all the tastes hit her tongue and she moaned in delight. “Holy shit…”

“Told you. It’s a religious experience!”

Shoving that huge piece of fast food down her throat was probably the least romantic thing to do on a date, but the feeling of Peridot brushing her shoulder against her own, the gentle wind blowing on her hair, the river shining in front of her eyes, and the city sounds in the background, made this moment in time something Lapis wished she could eternalize.

It was, without question, the happiest she had ever, ever felt.

“So,” Peridot spoke suddenly, swallowing an enormous bite. “Have you ever been to a karaoke?”

“Nope,” Lapis replied, fighting against so much cheese spilling out. “We have a karaoke machine at home, though. It came in one of the deliveries and Steven was so excited over it that I couldn’t throw it away.”

Uh-oh, the deliveries were a bad subject. Peridot thought a little before moving to more pleasant things. “How did you meet Steven, anyway?”

There was a weird pause for a few seconds and the bartender flinched internally. Shit, maybe that was a sore spot too.

“He saved me, in a way.” Lapis murmured after a while, then bit her food.

“We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” Maybe they could only talk about what kind of music they liked? Lapis looked like a Tegan and Sara sort of person.

“…Can I talk about it anyway?” She asked, looking at Peridot with a sad smile. The blonde blinked and returned the smile with one of her own.

“Of course.” Peri moved a bit closer and touched her arm with the girl’s. Lapis was really glad for the gesture.

“It was right after my latest break up.” She moved her gaze to the river. “I had been dating this girl for almost three weeks, but she was a bit paranoid. She kept checking my cellphone whenever I wasn’t around, because she thought I was cheating on her. One day I forgot my phone on the counter and went to take a shower, and Jasper called me. My date picked up and started asking her all sorts of questions. Of course Jasper hung up after that, but the damage had already been done. When I finished my bath, we went out to have dinner, and then she asked me to go to the park with her. It was late at night and no one was around, so she started asking me all these questions about Jasper. Who she was, why did she have my number, if she was the one sending me messages all the time.”

Lapis took another bite of her hot dog and Peridot did the same, staring at the waves in the water.

“I could’ve told her she was just my sister, but I didn’t. I had never called Jasper that in my life, and I wasn’t going to just so I could get away with it. Besides, she wasn’t wrong; I was cheating on her with Jasper. Not because I was in love with her, but because it was just… the thing I did. Sometimes when the nightmares were too much and life got too heavy, I needed to go to Jasper’s. But there was no way I could explain that to her without sounding like a bitch. So I just… admitted that I’d been sleeping with her.”

Some kids approached the both of them, but soon went away and Lapis sighed.

“She slapped my face and ran away, leaving me on the park’s bench. It was weird, because I was used to people leaving me after a while, but this one hurt a bit more. I stood there frozen, and then all these terrible thoughts came crashing down on me at once. I started shaking and crying with no idea of what to do, no idea if I even wanted to do anything anymore. Many things starting going through my head, but before I could get up to do something stupid, this little boy showed up.”

The corner of Lapis’ mouth turned at the memory and Peridot side-eyed her expression, curious. It had been such a sad moment, but remembering that she met Steven that night probably brought her more joy than pain.

“He said hi and asked me if I was okay, and I just… broke down in front of him. It was embarrassing,” She chuckled lightly. “He wasn’t weirded out, though, and just hugged me, whispering things like ‘it’s okay’ and ‘I’m here’. I didn’t even know this kid and he was comforting me better than anyone had ever bothered to. It was weird, but also a bit liberating.”

The wind rustled some leaves and Lapis finished her lunch with a content moan.

“At some point he told me to follow him and introduced me to his dad. I was sure he was going to be angry at Steven for bringing a stray mess of a person to him in the middle of the night, but he was so very welcoming. He had a nice van and told me to sit at the back of it with Steven so he could make some melted cheese and juice for us. I don’t know who was the craziest in the bunch: Steven for befriending a total stranger and bringing them to his dad, or me, for sitting in the back of a random van in the middle of the night. I honestly was too blinded by the kindness of this kid to even consider that he might’ve been a kidnapper. We had late-night dinner and talked for hours. It was one of the best experiences in my life.”

She finished by stretching her muscles and lying down on the grass. “And now he just… lives with me. Having Steven around makes my life in that house much more bearable.”

Peridot wasn’t really sure if she was supposed to say words of comfort, but she realized that Lapis didn’t need any. She wasn’t telling her this story to be pitied or because she needed advice; it was just another part of her life that she was sharing with her. She smiled and laid down as well, staring at the fluffy clouds in the sky.

“Thank you for telling me this.” Peridot said.

“Sorry, I feel like I always bring the mood down whenever I talk about myself.” Lapis apologized with a sorry grin.

“Don’t be. It’s the stuff you’ve been through that make you who you are.” She turned her face to stare at Lapis’. “Besides, you looked happy talking about him. I’m glad he makes you… feel.”

“Feel what?” Lapis asked in a whisper.

“Nothing specific. Just… feel. Not many people can do that.”

Lapis dipped her head to the side too and let her eyes roam through Peri’s entire face. Her green eyes, the thin bridge of her nose, her large forehead, the pinkish cheeks, the beautiful lips. It was the first time she took the time to just admire the bartender, and at that moment, she felt that all the famous masterpieces in the world were a joke compared to this girl in front of her.

She lowered her eyes to Peridot’s lips. “You make me feel, too.” Then she closed their distance in an awkward angled kiss that she wished could convey what exactly she was trying to tell her, but couldn’t. Not yet.

But gods, Lapis wished she could soon.

Chapter Text

“There is no way this is fake,” Lapis’ eyes were fixed on the TV, moving together with the illusionist’s hands as he made four coins disappear into thin air. The man then got behind a curtain and his silhouette started levitating. When his assistants removed the cloth, he was indeed a few inches off ground – the trick apparently took a toll on his body, since he was sweating and grunting. “Look at this, there is nothing under his feet!”

“No, that’s just a reflection trick.” Peridot said matter-of-factly as she threated her fingers on Lapis’ hair, which was sprawled over her lap. “The lights reflect somewhere and the cameraman films it in some sort of angle that makes us think he’s not supporting himself anywhere.”

“But there are people in the audience watching this live,” Lapis’ head turned to look at Peridot from beneath. “Are they being tricked too? All of them at the same time? Unlikely.”

“Oh please, they’re all part of the show. Every single one of these people were paid to pretend they’re shocked.”

“Even that little kid? The camera zoomed in on her lots of times and she always looks scared as hell,” Lapis smirked, reaching for more popcorn right above her head.

“Children’s behavioral patterns are always inconsistent, that means nothing.” Peri helped her out by bringing the bowl closer and Lapis smiled in return.

“Okay, but, like…” The smoker tried again, now with a mouthful of popcorn. “What if he was levitating.”

“But he’s not.”

“What if he waaaas…”

“It’s scientifically and physically impossible.”

“But what if he wa—” Lapis almost chocked on her laughter when Peridot reached down to tickle her sides.

“Cut it out, people can’t fly!” Peri let out in a stifled chortle, but she couldn’t pretend she was mad even if she tried. Lapis was acting so cute, and her laugh was the most beautiful sound probably in any galaxy – Peridot wanted to make her laugh more often, if possible. Lapis sat up and returned the tickles, forcing Peri to curl into a tiny ball of giggles.

“S-stop, I’m really tick— Hahaha, no!”

“Admit he’s levitating!”

“Never! Logic prevails— N-no not there, please!”

Amethyst, who up until that point had been eating a hot pocket at the kitchen counter unbothered, looked away from her magazine to the two dorks in front of her. “Jesus Christ, you’re grossly cute.”

Lapis stopped tickling the girl at the remark, but was still giggling with flushed cheeks. “Wanna join in on the tickle fight?”

“As fun as it sounds to torture Peri till she pees herself,” Amethyst smirked and finished stuffing the rest of her snack into her mouth. “I’m think I’m gonna pass. Gotta start getting ready for the night anyway.”

“You’re going out?” Peridot asked in between intakes of air. “You work tomorrow early.”

“I’m spending the night at Jenny’s, we’re playing cards and marathoning shitty movies from the 80’s.” Getting up, Amethyst stretched and burped contently, for Peridot’s disgust. “Plus, she lives close to The Temple, it’ll just make things easier in the morning.”

“Oh, alright.” Peridot eyed her suspiciously, but decided to trust her best friend for a change. “Just don’t forget to set your alarm clock.”

“Yes mom.” She walked over to her room to prepare a small bag with her pajamas and toothbrush, leaving Lapis and Peridot alone with their TV show and flirty conversations. It didn’t take long for Lapis to get comfortable again on Peri’s lap and resume teasing her about whatever was happening on screen at the moment. In return, the bartender caressed her hair and rebutted every single absurd argument with logical conclusions; if she was being actually serious or just pretending Lapis couldn’t tell, but she was happy and cozy nonetheless.

Amethyst then came out of her room with barely any make-up on and a simple backpack hanging from her shoulder. “See ya tomorrow nerd and cool human being.”

“Amethyst don’t be rude, Lapis is not a nerd.” Peri argued with a smug grin plastered on her face.

“Oh, ha ha.” Lapis poked her nose in return, receiving a giggle from the blonde.

“Peridot with a sense of humor? What have you been feeding her, Lapz?” Amethyst put a hand on her chest and gaped.

“Joel’s Triple Cheese Something With Buns And Sauce Dog, apparently.” She replied without missing a beat.

“You took her to eat a monster hot dog on your date?” Amethyst raised an eyebrow at Peridot.

“W-what, it’s the best lunch in town and you know it!” She blushed at the remark, now self-conscious that yeah, it was probably not the most romantic thing they could’ve done, but hey, no one deserved to live without tasting that hot dog. Peridot felt a hand on her cheek urging her to look down and came face to face with Lapis’ beautiful smile.

“I loved it, for what is worth.”

The blonde’s heart picked up the pace and she cleared her throat, turning away as Lapis giggled. Amethyst rolled her eyes and made her way to the door. “Alright you can be as disgusting as you want without me here having to witness it. Later.” And after ruffling Peri’s hair, she opened the door.

“Say hi to Jenny for me!” Lapis waved.

“Aye, aye.” Amethyst winked behind a half-closed door and then left.

“Finally, some peace and quiet!” Peridot yelled, hoping that her best friend was still around to hear it, then sank back in the couch.

“You know she loves you,” Lapis said with a playful expression.

“Yeah, yeah,” Peri crossed her arms, but her eyes were soft. “Despite being an inconvenience most of the time, and loud, disorganized, messy—”

“Aren’t these synonyms?”

“—and not giving a damn about other people’s boundaries,” Peri continued. “…I love her too.”

The blue-haired girl smiled lazily and turned so she was face to face with Peridot’s stomach. She traced a finger there gently, circling the area with no purpose. “You have good people looking out for you.”

Peridot put her arms down and looked down at the girl on her lap; there was a tinge of sadness in the way Lapis said that, but not one that asked to be elaborated. She was probably thinking about the people in her life and how unloved they all probably made her feel for years, which was extremely absurd in Peridot’s eyes. She couldn’t fathom the idea of someone spending a day with Lapis and deciding that she wasn’t worth anything, when for Peri she had opened a whole new world, making her feel things that only fairytale books would be able to describe properly.

“You have them, too.” She put her hands on Lapis back and scratched there softly, going up all the way to the nape of her neck and into her soft locks once more. “I’ll look out for you.” Peridot blushed as the words left her lips because it was just so cheesy, but it was what she was feeling right now, so she was going to honestly say it. She felt Lapis’ chest go up and down as she giggled.

“Thank you.”

No one said another word for minutes and they just stood like this, basking in each other’s presence and overall enjoying the tranquility that came with having a bit of privacy. The sound of the TV was long forgotten and Lapis had apparently taken an interest in caressing Peridot’s stomach over her shirt, which was quite relaxing.

Then the sudden realization that they were alone in the apartment came crashing down on Peridot and she started feeling really hot all of a sudden.

Her cellphone buzzed and she grabbed it to read the message.

[Amethyst, 7:50pm]: don’t do it on my bed because i will know and i will kick your skinny little ass

She blushed ridiculously so at the suggestion and tried to type with sweaty hands.

[Peridot, 7:50pm]: shUT UP

[Amethyst, 7:50pm]: you can use my dildo tho thats fine just clean it afterwards

“Oh my god.” Peridot muttered and threw her phone across the table. It landed safely on a pillow on the floor, but she lowkey wished it would just break so she wouldn’t have to read Amethyst’s incredibly inappropriate texts. But then again, she didn’t have the money to buy another one, so she breathed out relieved at the same time.

“What?” Lapis muttered with a sleepy voice.

“N-nothing, just Amethyst being Amethyst.”

Lapis giggled at this and turned on her back to stare at the blonde. “Okay.”

They locked eyes and Peridot could swear the shade of blue from Lapis’ irises changed everyday and managed to become more and more dazzling with each passing encounter. She could drown in those eyes effortlessly – they were like the tide, pulling her in inch by inch and threatening to consume her whole being. Peridot wouldn’t mind being sucked in like this, not right now, and not ever.

“I want to kiss you,” The words left her mouth before she could stop them, but Peridot didn’t want to stop them at all. Lapis smiled through heavy eyelids and sat up.

“Okay,” Her whisper was soft, but full of certainty – just like Lapis herself, Peridot thought. They met halfway and Peri couldn’t help but to exhale a happy sigh at the contact.

Very few things made her feel so at ease and so complete in her life; her mind was a constant jumble of floating words and thoughts that took so much effort to organize, but with Lapis it was like her mess could fly away freely and unjudged. Peridot lived in a constant battle with herself and the world because she was afraid of being misunderstood, of not being able to ever fit it, of being herself. She knew she had friends who loved her very much, but because she wasn’t like them, she lived in a constant fear of one day doing that one thing that would be too weird and that would finally make people walk away. It was there in the back of her mind, images of people avoiding her at work, on the streets, at home. And she had tried to push this thought away before, but it stood there, unmoving, towering above her like a menacing presence her whole life.

But not with Lapis. It was funny, how bizarre the whole situation was. Peridot trusted Amethyst with her life, but the fear of rejection involved her best friend too, despite being an absurd thought. She couldn’t help it; it was ingrained in her brain and it was bound to affect everyone. But not Lapis, and hell if she knew why not this girl in particular, but it just… didn’t. Peri could be as open as she wanted, as weird as she wanted, and something in her gut told her that if Lapis ever left, it wouldn’t be because of the things Peridot did in a jumble of emotions. She felt free to be herself completely when Lapis was by her side.

Lapis pulled back to turn her head to the other side and kiss her again, moving her lips slowly and lovingly. This time she was soft Lapis, not the rough Lapis from the dancefloor, and Peri smiled into the kiss at the thought that this girl had so many beautiful sides to her.

“What?” Lapis asked, feeling the corners of Peri’s mouth turn upwards.

“Nothing,” She replied against her mouth, still smiling like an idiot. “I just really like kissing you.”

“Then kiss me,” Lapis chased her mouth with fervor, and brought both hands to cup Peridot’s jaw. She nipped at her bottom lip and the blonde opened her lips, melting at the touch of her tongue. Her hands weren’t doing anything, so she brought one to the back of Lapis’ head and another touched her hips without really thinking. Their mouths moved in tandem, and the kiss started getting heated at some point, which Peridot didn’t mind in the least. She felt herself falling backwards and suddenly her back hit the couch. “Wow!”

She didn’t hit her head because Lapis was holding it gently. “Sorry! You alright?”

“Y-yeah,” Her head was dazed as she looked at the girl hovering over her. “You’re beautiful.”

Lapis blinked, then smiled shyly. She should’ve been used to the random compliments at the most unusual times by now, but it always caught her off guard. “A beautiful mess?”

“A beautiful mess,” Peri agreed, then cupped her cheek. Lapis’ eyes glimmered with affection and she bent down to kiss her again. Peridot ran her hands through her hair and neck, inciting a growl from the back of the girl’s throat that made all the hairs on Peridot’s neck stand up. Alright, there was definitely a shift in the mood, but the passion was still present in the needy kisses. Lapis was trying to move, but the couch was very ill-proportioned for such things, so she gave up midway. Peridot caught on that and gently pushed her shoulders to breathe. “Um… the couch is a bit small.”

Lapis breathed heavily with cheeks flushed. “It is.”

“So…” Peridot was so nervous that she started to tremble. Lapis of course noticed it and grabbed her hand with gentle eyes.

“Do you want to go to your room?” She asked without a single drop of malice in her voice. “We could totally stay here and keep watching people levitating, I really don’t mind.”

“He wasn’t levitating,” Lapis laughed at the fact that this was the priority in Peridot’s head. “Also, y-yes. We could go. To my room, I mean.”

“Are you sure?”

Peridot paused to appreciate how considerate Lapis was being right now despite her body language screaming at her that she wanted to throw herself into that comfy bed immediately. “I’m sure.”

Lapis smiled and helped Peridot up, and both giggled when the blonde bumped into her accidentally. They walked towards the room hand-in-hand, with pounding hearts and gleamy eyes, and upon entering, the first thing Peridot did was excuse herself to the bathroom. She brushed her teeth and washed her face, taking a moment to stare at the dirty mirror and process that this was going to happen. She took off her contact lenses because they weren’t necessary anymore, and put on her glasses even though she would remove them shortly.

The whole ritual of sleeping with someone was always an awkward one, and she told herself that Lapis would probably be just as nervous. Maybe a little less so, since she was the one who usually took the lead in this situation. Peri’s mind wandered to a few days ago in the pub, when she listened to the most obscene and gorgeous noises coming from her phone, and swallowed hard. Just thinking about it made her anxious, but in a good way; she really wanted to hear those sounds again.

“Okay. Alright.” Peri mumbled, and after taking a deep breath, she opened the door.

The sight took her completely by surprise and she nearly fell down.

Her room was dark, and she could only see through the dimly lit lamp on the floor, next to her bed. On top of said bed was Lapis, already lying down on her back and with a playful smile adorning her lips. Her shirt and jacket were on the floor and she was just wearing her bra and jeans for some reason – Peridot knew the reason, but it just made everything much more real – and as soon as Lapis saw the bartender, she motioned for her to come closer.

Peridot felt her legs giving in and, oh god, Lapis was just wearing her bra. Her body was so slim but also somewhat toned and – were those abs? They were barely visible, but Peridot knew that if she touched her stomach she would feel some muscle there. The blood rushed to her face immediately as she sat down on the edge of the bed, still awkwardly staring at the girl’s exposed body.

“Like what you see?” Lapis’ voice was low, and holy shit Peridot was not as confident as she thought she was.

“Y-yeah,” She babbled somehow. “A lot. Um… is this creepy? I don’t even—”

Lapis reached to touch her thigh and giggled. “It’s not. Relax, it’s just me.”

This simple sentence woke Peridot up and she calmed down considerably. It was just Lapis – impossibly sexy Lapis, but still Lapis nonetheless. “Right. Sorry, it’s just… I didn’t expect, uh… this? In a g-good way! I mean, your body, you’re just… wow.” She breathed. “Feel free to ignore anything I say.”

“It’s okay,” Her smile was lazy and she sat up to come face to face with the jittery bartender. “All those years of training had to count for something, right?”

Oh, right. She had been put through a forceful athletic regimen since she was a child. Peridot wondered if her beautiful body reminded her of those awful times and felt her heart sink. She wanted to protect this girl from so many things, but it was useless to dwell in the past, so she would just focus on being by her side from now on.

Peridot’s eyes flickered to her lips and she pushed forward, tired of thinking so much. Lapis sighed into her mouth and kissed her back with fervor. It didn’t take long for her hands to roam all over Peri’s back, bringing her impossibly close. The blonde felt Lapis’ lips making their way towards her neck and she whimpered at the contact. It was so soft and slow, and the wet touch of her tongue on her pulse point drove her crazy. She felt a tug on her shirt and wondered why the hell she was still wearing that goddamn garment.

“Can I take it off?” Lapis asked against her neck and Peridot didn’t even let her finish, leaning back and removing it herself, after taking off her glasses and folding them neatly on the nightstand. Lapis chuckled. “Someone’s feeling hot—” She was interrupted by Peri’s lips crashing against hers and completely forgot what she was about to say. This kiss was a lot hungrier than the last, and Lapis fisted a hand on the blonde’s hair, moving as closer as she could. Their chests touched and Peri’s mouth left her face to cover her neck and jawline, descending all the way to her collarbones.

Lapis chewed on her bottom lip and watched as Peri bit gently on the skin there, still threading her hair with adventurous hands. “Don’t be afraid to hurt me.” Peri looked up a bit confused, and saw Lapis’ clouded eyes staring back. “Be rough with me.”

“Oh,” She blushed at the husky tone, feeling butterflies in her stomach. “You sure?”

The smoker bent down to nibble Peri’s ear and whisper, “Make me yours. It’s okay.”

Well, when she put it like that.

Peridot resumed her bites, but now putting a lot more pressure on her teeth. Lapis gaped, letting out a dry gasp and arching her whole body into Peri’s figure. Alright, that seemed to be working. The blonde felt her hair being pulled with each bite and felt a warm sensation on her lower abdomen. She was starting to find out new things about herself that night, and grunted as Lapis scratched her scalp.

“Come here,” Lapis muttered and Peri was up again in seconds. She felt the girl guiding her hands towards her bra and the blonde unclasped it with ease. Alright, she was doing great so far despite Amethyst being the only other person whom she had ever shared intimate moments with – and Ame hardly ever let her do anything, it was mostly just Peridot getting pampered the whole night. She didn’t know why, but doing these things to Lapis just felt incredibly natural. It helped that she kept telling her what she wanted, and Peridot was glad to obey.

As soon as her bra was gone, Lapis reached to take off Peridot’s. The blonde threw it on the floor and kissed her again. She felt Lapis’ hands cupping her breasts gently and groaned into her mouth with delight. Peridot suddenly became very aware of the situation they were in, and because she was happy, she grabbed the girl’s cheeks and placed little pecks on her lips, nose, eyelids, and forehead, and Lapis giggled at the sudden gesture. “What are you doing?”

“Kissing you a lot,” She replied with a stupid grin glued to her face. Lapis looked so adorably confused in her high, but didn’t ask further.

“You can kiss me in other places, too.” She said suggestively and reached down to grab Peri’s hands and place them on her chest. The bartender nodded, still smiling and kissed her one last time in the corner of her mouth before moving to her neck and shoulders, while squeezing the girl’s breasts. She hadn’t appreciated Lapis’ boobs enough, and decided she wanted to. Without warning, Peridot encouraged Lapis to lie down and hovered above her, lowering her mouth to one breast. She kissed the valley of her breasts and moved around her left nipple with bites and licks.

“Harder,” Lapis breathed out and Peri, who had been afraid of hurting this sensible part of her, obliged. Lapis’ hands were in her hair again and her breathing was starting to become erratic with each bite. At long last Peri sucked on a nipple, eliciting a moan from the girl beneath. The sound alone was enough to arouse her all over, and she moved to the other breast to do the same. The feeling of her pants in the mattress was agonizing, and she needed to remove them right now.

Peri lifted her torso and was fumbling with the button of her jeans when she felt Lapis’ hands covering her own. “Let me do it.”

“Oh,” She blushed. “Okay.”

She was way taller than Lapis in this position – kneeling with her legs on both sides of the girl’s hips, while Lapis sat up, eye-level with her stomach. The blue-haired girl grabbed Peri’s sides and placed a kiss below her boobs, licking her way down to her navel and eventually getting to where jeans met skin. She opened the button with her hands, but took the zipper into her mouth, sliding it down with her teeth. Peridot could do nothing but stare with her mouth open and hope that she wasn’t actually drooling.

“Fuck.” She exhaled.

Lapis’ eyes looked up at her and she smirked. “Do you always swear that much?”

Peridot let out a stifled laugh, remembering that she had said those exact words to her on the phone that day. For some reason having them spitted back to her like this was so incredibly hot; she wasn’t sure she’d be able to survive this girl and the things she was doing to her. Without waiting for an answer, Lapis pulled down her pants and Peri had to get the rest off herself. With her legs free, she felt much better to move around, and leaned down to kiss Lapis again. “You’re pretty good at this.”

“At taking off your pants?” She replied, biting on the blonde’s bottom lip.

“That too,” And holy shit, very much so. “But at just making everything feel… natural.”

Lapis nuzzled her neck with tiny bites. “Yeah?”

Peri sighed into her hair. “Yeah. I’m a nervous wreck when it comes to these things, but you managed to make me all hot and bothered twice. And the first time I wasn’t even there.”

Lapis giggled, scratching her back. “Let me make you even more hot and bothered, then.” She put pressure on her nails and Peri moaned louder than she’d ever done, arching against Lapis.

“Holy—”

“You like that?” Lapis touched her forehead against her chest. “I can stop.”

Don’t,” Peri let out, then realized she needed to clarify. “Stop, I mean. Don’t stop.”

“Heh, okay.” Moving her hands to her shoulders again, Lapis buried her nails on her skin and scratched strongly all the way down. Peridot inhaled hard and fisted Lapis’ hair strongly, which also made the other girl’s breathing hitch. Peri didn’t think she would ever like pain this much, but apparently Lapis brought out some hidden parts of her. She was happy to figure out things that she liked with Lapis; it just felt right that it was her making her this damn aroused.

“Jesus,” Rigged breaths echoed all over the room and Peridot didn’t know if it was hers of Lapis’ at this point. Her panties were ruined and she really wanted them off, but thought it would be unfair for her to strip out of everything when Lapis’ jeans were still attached to her legs like a bear trap. “L-let me take care of your pants.”

Lapis let herself fall on the pillows again and grinned in her daze. “Please do.”

Peridot didn’t do anything fancy to remove the pants like Lapis did, but she did bring her teeth to take care of the girl’s undergarment. Lapis bit her lip as she watched Peri rip her panties off in a swift motion and gasped as the sudden cold air touched her private parts. The blonde was about to continue her ministrations somewhere else, but halted.

She took a moment to just look at Lapis’ naked body. The ambient was darkened, but her eyes had already gotten used to the illumination at this point and she could see everything – her glasses weren’t an issue because she didn’t need to make out all the details. Then a feeling hit her so strongly that she had to stop for a moment.

“Peridot?” Lapis’ voice sounded far away. “You’re okay?”

“Yeah, I…” She shifted her gaze to look at Lapis’ face. Before continuing, she had to do something, and so Peridot crawled all the way so she could press a kiss on Lapis’ lips. It wasn’t the usual lustful kiss, Lapis noticed, it was tender and it almost felt like the bartender was trying to convey a message through it. The kiss lasted for a while and Peri eventually lifted her mouth to breathe. “Thank you.”

“For…” Lapis swallowed the bump in her throat. “For what?”

“For letting me see you,” Peri explained. She didn’t care for making sense right now, she needed to get this out. “The whole you. For… trusting me with yourself.”

It took a while for Lapis to process this incredibly heavy thing that Peridot was telling her, and she felt tears prickling the corner of her eyes once she did. Those words hit her harder than anything ever had.

Through her whole life, sex had been just an experience to get pleasure and forget the shit she’d been through – especially for someone who constantly fucked her way out of her problems like she did. Jasper knew that there wasn’t a single drop of emotional attachment when they slept together, and Lapis’ other dates were average to say the least; none of them really thought much about sex, it was just a thing that happened in a relationship and that was it. She didn’t even remember talking this much during the activity, but the playfulness felt good with Peridot.

Now this girl was thanking her for it. Nobody in their right mind would thank people for letting them sleep with them, but apparently Peridot didn’t give a shit about being casual. She was so full of love and honesty, that it physically hurt Lapis to think that people had broken this woman’s heart before. Lapis was used to the pain, but Peridot didn’t deserve any of it.

She caressed Peridot’s cheek with the utmost care and was unable to stop herself from breaking Jenny’s promise. “Thank you,” The next thing to come out of her mind was the scariest sentence she’d ever said. “…for loving me.”

Peri widened her eyes and blushed. “I—”

“We don’t have to talk about it right now,” Lapis smiled, her heart beating at a thousand miles per hour. “Just…” She lifted her torso and kissed her again, a small tear falling down her cheek. She hoped Peri hadn’t noticed it, and was glad when the blonde started kissing her neck, making her way down. Each kiss now was like the touch of a feather, as if Peridot was worshipping each and every part her body. Lapis could feel the infinite amount of love poured into the touches and felt her heart fluttering. She knew that no other experience in her life would ever compare to this moment right now, and smiled as she wiped her eyes.

Peridot got to her stomach and looked up. “Can I do something?”

“Anything,” Lapis almost laughed at the ridiculous request.

Without warning, Peri gave a broad lick right on top of Lapis’ abs, moving down to her hipbones, where she placed a bite. Lapis involuntarily bucked her hips at the feeling with a groan. Peri lifted one of her legs and placed a kiss on the inside of her thigh, biting there again, sucking the skin and kissing the spot afterwards. She got closer and closer to where Lapis really needed her, but never quite reaching, and the girl was starting to get extremely needy. “Peridot…”

“You’re just gorgeous…” She mumbled, apparently unaware of anything besides this woman in front of her. “Here, and here too,” With each praise she would place a bite and a kiss, doing this to both legs until she, at long last, got to her aching center. With a broad stroke, Peri placed her head in between her thighs and started circling Lapis’ clit with her tongue, ever so slowly.

“Shit,” Lapis lifted her hips against Peri’s face, grabbing a fistful of the blonde’s hair and guiding her movements. She let her head fall back on the pillows and the sounds came out louder and louder from the back at her throat with each stroke of the bartender’s tongue. When Peri dipped inside, she almost lost it right there. “Fuck.”

Peridot had to admit that it was unbelievably hot the way Lapis cursed like a sailor. She was feeling really insecure to do that because she had only done it once in her life – Amethyst was feeling rather adventurous that one night and said that Peridot could practice on her. It turned out better than either of them expected, and Ame told her that any girl would be lucky to get an oral from the P-dot. She had to admit that this information inflated her ego, and ever since that she’d been anxiously waiting for the opportunity to do it again. Guess Lapis was the lucky one.

The slow pace was not doing it for Lapis anymore, however, and she needed release. “Peridot… please…”

Peri got the message and brought her fingers to help. She pumped her digits faster now, while her tongue sucked on the sensitive spot in a steady rhythm. Lapis’ moans were turning her on way more than she liked to admit, and she was sure her panties would need to be washed at least three times to get rid of the smell of sex.

When Lapis’ hips started twitching, she breathed out. “Peridot… c-come here.”

Peri stopped and looked up. “Huh?”

“H-here,” She reached for her and Peridot climbed up to her face. “Keep using your f-fingers and kiss me.”

She obliged, and Lapis tasted herself on Peri’s tongue. The taste was familiar to her, but it was just so much better this time around; sweeter and more intoxicating. She was really close and brought one hand to Peri’s back, scratching her sides. The blonde grunted into the kiss and Lapis mumbled in a husky tone. “Give me— give me your other hand.”

Peridot had to break the kiss and sit up a bit to do it, and Lapis guided her open palm to the base of her throat. “Press it down…”

This was a bit surprising. “O-oh. Are you sure?”

“Y-yeah.”

Peridot did as she was told, not really sure how strongly she wanted it.

“More.”

She kept adding more pressure, but was way too scared to hurt her too much. Her fingers were still working down there, and Lapis’ face was a masterpiece of its own. Her flushed cheeks, the half-opened mouth, the erratic breathing – everything was incredibly sexy and Peridot wanted to get sucked into the high.

Lapis cupped the back of Peridot’s neck suddenly and pulled her down, whispering in her ear. “Choke me…”

And fuck, that was maybe messed up, but at the moment, ridiculously hot. Peridot finally pressed down enough and Lapis came shortly after. Her breathing was cut off by the pressure, and she gasped, releasing raspy sounds that didn’t seem to stop. Peri let her go quickly and Lapis inhaled deeply, still trembling from the ecstasy. Her body kept shaking for a while, and Peridot was worried she had hurt her in any way. “A-are you alright?? Did I mess it up?”

It took a moment for Lapis to fully recover, but when she did, her eyes were glossy and there was a tired smile on her features. She shook her head. “It was amazing…”

Peridot let out a relieved breath as Lapis curled into her form, the tiredness taking over her body. The bartender held her close and they cuddled tiredly for a bit. “Thank you,” Lapis muttered against her neck.

“You scared me for a moment, there.” Peri admitted quietly.

Lapis just giggled. “I get that a lot.”

“Is this… really a good thing? Choking?” Doing it had never, in a million years, crossed Peridot’s mind.

“I like it,” Lapis replied. “The lack of oxygen makes your head hazy, and when the climax hits, it feels like… you’re floating, in a way.”

“That’s… interesting, actually.” It was probably the least appropriate moment for Peri to get genuinely interested in the chemical reactions and benefits of a certain kink, but she couldn’t help it. “I never thought about it.”

“Now you know.” Lapis lifted her head with a grin and placed a chaste kiss on the blonde. It lasted a good while and it warmed Peri’s heart in an indescribable way. Having Lapis in her arms and kissing her lazily like this felt like a dream, one that she didn’t want to wake up from so soon.

She felt Lapis’ thigh make its way in between her legs and gasped at the action. She moved against her leg slowly as they kissed, picking up the pace when Lapis pinched her nipple gently, twisting it slowly. “Aren’t you tired…?”

“You haven’t had your turn yet.”

“I don’t really need—”

“You’re soaking wet,” Lapis said bluntly, causing the instant reaction of blood rushing to Peridot’s cheeks. “Let me do this for you. And take off these panties already.”

“…If you insist,” She accepted defeat and removed the garment, finally exposed. She came back to rolling her hips against Lapis, the movement building up pressure quickly on Peri’s abdomen, and she was sure she could climax just by closing her eyes and remembering Lapis’ expression a few moments ago. A gentle hand cupped her cheek and Peri opened her eyes.

“Want to try something?”

“Uh… is it the choking thing?” Peri wasn’t sure she was ready for that yet.

“No,” Lapis giggled. “Sit up and get on your knees.”

Being ordered around somehow made the whole experience a thousand times hotter, and Peridot spread her legs as she did so.

“Now come here.” Lapis motioned her to get closer.

“Um…where exactly?”

“On my face, silly.”

Oh. Ohh. Alright, there was that.

Peridot had done this with Amethyst once, but it didn’t last long. Ame didn’t really have the patience to lie down while someone else hovered above her, it was just not her thing – which was a shame, because Peridot was enjoying the experience. Perhaps now she could go all the way.

She crawled up to Lapis’ face and lowered her hips so her center was close enough to her mouth. The girl beneath grabbed her thighs, spreading them a bit more and just basking in the scent. “You’re dripping.”

“D-don’t need the details!” Peridot stuttered, embarrassed. She was about to say something else, but then Lapis’ tongue was on her and everything stopped mattering. And it was quite shameful how quickly she came, but ultimately it was great for both of them, and that was all that mattered. Peri slumped next to Lapis afterwards and nuzzled the girl with an exhausted happy sigh.

“Did you know…” Lapis mumbled against her hair.

“Hmm?” Peri’s eyes were closing on their own at this point.

“That you taste really good,” The smirk was apparent on her voice and Peridot just buried herself further into Lapis’ chest with warm cheeks.

“Too many details…” She mumbled, and the last thing she remembered before blacking out was the sound of beautiful giggles and a kiss on top of her head.

And that Lapis knew she loved her.

Chapter Text

Heavy breathing accompanied strong footsteps as the woman ran in a steady pace. The first rays of sun in the horizon welcomed a new morning, a little bit chilly, but bearable. Every time her running shoes hit the sidewalk, the athlete felt her calves tensioning in a pleasant way. Her legs were pure muscle, as were her arms and basically entire body, so a jog like this wasn’t enough to get her tired. It was a habit she had picked up from her rugby training routine, and even though this was supposed to be her resting week, Jasper felt the need to go out and run for a bit.

Turning around the corner, Jasper nearly knocked down a homeless man in the way. She managed to avoid him just in time, but stopped nonetheless, looking back and taking off her headphones. “I’m sorry, are you okay?”

The man didn’t reply and flipped her off, walking away. Jasper just huffed in annoyance and resumed her peaceful jog. “At least I was polite when I was homeless,” She muttered in between ragged breaths, but let it go. After 30 minutes of roaming through the neighborhood, she decided that it was time to go back to the apartment for a nice shower. The day was going to be long and she had to get ready for… that.

The cold water hit her back and Jasper clenched her muscles, absorbing the sudden change of temperature. She exhaled as her body got used to the shower and rubbed her arms and legs with soap, not in a hurry. Looking up at the shampoo, Jasper sighed and eventually reached for it. That brand was difficult to find, but somehow that woman never failed to deliver a bunch of them; it was like she had purchased the company. Jasper scoffed at the though – she definitely would have.

After cleaning herself and washing her huge mess of a hair, Jasper put on a robe and walked to the kitchen for a healthy breakfast consisting of vitamins and a big ham and cheese sandwich. She turned on the TV to watch the news as she munched on her food, but eventually turned it off. There was nothing worth watching as usual, just deaths and sadness all around – and that she’d already had plenty of in her life.

With a full stomach and clean dishes, Jasper took her time to dry her hair and finally put on some casual clothes. She decided to go with beige cargo pants and a sleeveless black shirt, but just because it was a special occasion. Usually she tried to avoid short sleeves, but this time it was necessary – she was getting a tattoo on her arm, after all.

Jasper walked past the mirror in her room but stopped, stepping back to look at herself. Her gaze went directly for the white patches of skin on her arm, uneven and still pretty apparent. It had subdued considerably since it first happened fifteen years ago, but the burns were too intense and the skin never healed completely. It was a scar she would bear for the rest of her life, but she tried not to dwell too much on it.

Well, today she would have to, but it was for a good cause.

Jasper lifted her left arm, where the burn had been worst. The light skin covered her forearm entirely, going all the way to her hand. It was a shame, since she’d always been proud of her dark skin, but there was nothing she could do to cover it up. It was part of who she was, and she wasn’t ashamed of it anymore. Of course it had been hard for the first few years after it happened, but back then everything was terrible. Getting a third-degree burn was just another day in the life of Red-Eyed Jasper.

“Blessed by the Sun God…” Jasper mumbled to herself, remembering her introduction act word by word. It would never go away, just like the scars on her eyes and cheek; a constant reminder that she had been owned for the majority of her childhood and teenage years. Not a very healthy way of living, but what could she do after her real parents died? She had nowhere to go, so the circus devoured her alive.

Closing her eyes tightly and shaking her head, Jasper stepped back and knocked down some books accidentally. The loud noise startled her and she turned around with a whip of her hair, pressing a hand to her chest and breathing heavily. The pages scattered everywhere with the impact and Jasper only calmed down after processing what had happened. With a sigh, Jasper crouched to grab the books and put them in place again with shaky hands.

Walking towards the living room, she picked up her cellphone and typed a message, with the hope of focusing on something else.

[Jasper, 8:43am]: Just reminding you that I’m going to the city center today at 1pm.

She knew Lapis wasn’t going to answer, it was way too early for her to be up. The corner of Jasper’s lips turned almost imperceptibly upwards at the thought. That girl had always been a heavy sleeper, even when they were kids. Some habits were hard to break, she guessed. Then she realized she was thinking about Lapis and shook her head again.

“Focus, Jasper.” The clock on her wall pointed almost 9am, so she had a long time to waste before catching the train downtown. With nothing really in mind, Jasper grabbed a book and sat down on the couch, alone with herself, but not with her thoughts.

It was far too dangerous to be alone with her thoughts.


“Hey Pearl, check it out.” Amethyst grabbed the tattoo artist’s attention as she walked by with a cup of tea. Going around the counter to peek at whatever the receptionist was pointing out in the computer, Pearl squinted her eyes when the screen said ‘Unable to connect to the internet’.

“Oh no, is the wi-fi broken?” She said, worried.

“No, no, I turned it off for a bit.” Amethyst replied, waving her hand in dismissal.

“Why?”

“Cuz I wanted to show you my high score at the dinosaur game.”

“…Excuse me?” Pearl raised an eyebrow, inquisitively.

“You don’t know about the dinosaur game??” Amethyst widened her eyes, as if the woman in front of her had said the most absurd of things.

“I do not know about the…” Just saying it out loud sounded ridiculous. “Dinosaur game.”

“How can you not know about the dinosaur game?”

“I’m not a gaming person.”

“But this is like… Survival 101.”

“I don’t—”

The curtain that led to the back of the shop was lifted and Garnet came out of it with her usual sunglasses and stoic expression. “’Sup.”

“Garnet, Pearl doesn’t know about the dinosaur game!”

“Well, clearly Garnet doesn’t eith—”

“How can you not know about the dinosaur game?” Garnet interrupted Pearl’s sentence with a deadpanned reaction, which still sounded more surprised than she ever let on.

I don’t play games!” Pearl spread her arms in an exasperate motion and knocked some pens from the desk. With a grunt, she immediately walked around and crouched to collect them. “You’re all driving me insane!”

Amethyst couldn’t help but to laugh and Garnet smiled slightly, raising her hand for a high five. The receptionist complied, and the gesture made her feel like she was becoming more and more a part of the group. A happy feeling settled within her – also, annoying Pearl was way funnier than she previously thought it would be; the girl managed to be even cuter when angry.

“Okay, sorry, sorry,” Ame wiped her eyes from laughing so hard. “But really, there’s this game you can play if this message appears, all you have to do is—”

At this point, the parlor’s door opened with a ring and the three workers turned to greet the person at the same time. “Welcome to The Temple!”

Amethyst and Pearl froze immediately.

The woman who had just entered was at least 6’4”, with the longest and puffiest hair Amethyst’s ever seen, and built on pure muscle. The sleeveless shirt she was wearing allowed all of the curves and nuances of her arms to be pretty visible in the light, and she almost looked like she was shining. There were some patches of lighter skin on her arms, as well as her cheek and across her eyes for some reason, but these were the least of Ame’s concerns right now. This person was simply gorgeous.

“Hi, I’m Jasper. We talked on the phone?” Jasper said in a neutral tone.

It took a good three seconds for Amethyst to reply. “Oh, yeah! The one from the fire tattoo, right?”

“Yeah.” She rubbed her neck, awkwardly. “Nice to meet you.”

“Pleasure’s all mine,” Amethyst really tried to not sound flirty, but it was quite hard to hold herself back when this demi-goddess was staring down right at her. “Um, this is Garnet! She’s your artist for the day.” She tried to deflect any possible embarrassments by doing her job.

Garnet walked over towards Jasper and shook her hand strongly. “Good to meet you. Let’s go inside so we can discuss the details of your tattoo.”

“Sounds good.” Jasper nodded towards Amethyst and Pearl as she followed Garnet. “Excuse me.”

Amethyst nodded back and waited until she had vanished behind the curtain to melt on top of her table. “Holy shit.” She whispered, still quite in shock. Then she side-eyed Pearl, who was rooted in the same spot since Jasper came in, and seemed to be in some sort of trance. “Pearl?”

“Yes!” Pear blinked quickly and turned around. “Yes. I’m Pearl. That’s me. Did you need me?”

Amethyst frowned for a second before catching the redness of the artist’s cheeks, then smirked as largely as she could. “Ohhhh… I see I’m not the only one with good taste around here.”

“W-what are you talking about, don’t be absurd.” She walked around the counter again and sat down on the adjacent chair next to Amethyst, sipping her tea, which had gone cold by now.

“How can I be absurd if you don’t know what I’m talking about?” Amethyst teased, receiving a sharp glare in return.

“Oh, be quiet.”

“It’s okay, I mean. Did you see her? Damn.”

“Amethyst, she’s right there!” Pearl hissed, looking back to check for any movement. “This curtain isn’t exactly soundproof, you know.”

“Relax, she’s probably in Garnet’s office by now. You know how Garnet likes to talk inside,” Amethyst leaned against her chair, playing with one of her locks. “So you’re into big women, huh?”

Pearl’s face flushed again and she averted her eyes towards her cup. “I’m not answering that.”

“I just wanted to know you a little better, that’s all.” Her smirk turned into a soft smile and Amethyst looked at Pearl for a few moments before returning to her normal position in front of the computer. “I’ll stop pestering you now.”

There was a heavy silence that followed and Pearl’s fingers tapped the teacup as she lost herself in her own thoughts. She let out a sigh after a couple of minutes and finished her beverage. “I’m not going to deny that I find bulky women quite… attractive.”

Heh, she’s easy to read, Amethyst thought with an internal smug grin. “Kinda figured that out.”

“Yeah, well, what about you then? You seemed to be interested as well.” He tone was sharper than she intended, but just because she was embarrassed to be the only one spilling the beans. Pearl was a reserved person when it came to matters of the heart, and she rarely opened up like this.

“I don’t really have a type, I like everyone.” Amethyst replied casually.

“Everyone?” It seemed like a strange concept to grasp.

“Yeah. Men, women, non-binary folks. Just, you know, people. The human body is a masterpiece, and I appreciate them all.” Alright, sounding deep and philosophical wasn’t exactly in her plans, but the glint on Pearl’s eyes as she said that made Amethyst pat herself on the fucking back.

“That’s… a really beautiful way of thinking.” Pearl looked down at her empty cup with a distant expression, as if reminiscing something from a faraway past. “Someone I knew said something similar too, once.”

“Oh? What did they say?” Maybe this was the time to unlock a backstory.

“‘The world is beautiful, Pearl. If you take your time and look around, you’ll find so much joy in every little thing. Humans are truly a masterpiece’. That’s what she said.” Pearl’s lips turned upwards lightly, but her eyes were the saddest Amethyst has ever seen. Then she blinked and looked up again, snapping out of it. “Sorry, that was random. It just remined me of her.”

“Don’t be sorry, that was wonderful.” Any traces of playfulness had completely vanished from Amethyst’s body, and all that was left was this intense desire to hug this beautiful woman by her side. It was a weird tug in her chest, one she had a pretty difficult time dealing with, but right now she was also feeling at peace.

“Thank you,” Pearl moved her gaze to look at her, and Amethyst’s heart leaped a beat. “It’s weird, I don’t usually tell people about that. How come you brought it out of me so easily?”

“People say I’m easy to talk to,” Amethyst shrugged with a grin. “I’m always glad to be of help.”

Pearl giggled at that and – oh no, it was such a melodious sound. “Well, miss nice-pants. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about earlier.”

“Earlier?”

Pearl put her cup down and slid her chair really close to Amethyst. “Show me the damn dinosaur game.”


Garnet’s office was cramped and dark. For some reason the window blinds were down, making the only source of luminosity a small retractable light attached to the ceiling. The light was pretty strong, though – it had to be so Garnet wouldn’t mess up any lines as she worked. Jasper’s huge size didn’t really help her case in the small room, and she found herself sitting down on a chair quite awkwardly as Garnet finished the touches on her sketch on the tracing paper. “Something like this?”

Jasper stretched her neck to take a look. “Oh, wow. Yeah, definitely.”

“Alright.” Garnet smiled coolly and turned around to grab some gloves and hygiene products. “Give me your arm, please.”

Jasper did so and felt the artist washing the area with soap before anything else. Once cleaned, she grabbed the tracing paper carefully. “Where exactly do you want this?”

“Right here,” Jasper pointed to where her arm connected with her elbow, which was where her scar ended perfectly, and Garnet nodded, applying the paper around the area.

“Please don’t move.” She muttered as she enveloped the area, and was soon done with it. “What do you think?”

Jasper looked down, then turned to the mirror on her right, getting up to check how it would look. Her head hit the lamp accidentally and she reached up to move it away out of instinct.

“Careful, it’s hot!” Garnet managed to warn her before her hand connected to the flaming metal and Jasper immediately froze. A flashing memory crossed her mind in a millisecond, but she closed her eyes and inhaled deeply to make it go away. “Are you alright?”

“Ye— Yes.” Jasper sat back down. “Sorry. It’s a bit cramped for someone like me.”

Garnet didn’t laugh, but nodded nonetheless.

“It’s great, by the way.” Jasper continued.

“Glad you liked it.” She got up to open the office’s door. “We just need to wait about ten minutes for the sketch to dry. Can I offer you something to drink in the meantime?”

“I’m good, thanks.” The athlete got up, glad to get out of the tight space and breathe some air. She roamed around for a bit, just checking the innumerous drawings hanging from the frames in the wall and eventually sitting down and grabbing a magazine to pass the time. After a few mindless page turns, her eyes moved down to the sketched tattoo on her arm and she sighed. In a few minutes that thing would be etched forever in her skin and she would have to look at it everyday, with no escape. Jasper tried to cheer up by reminding herself that it was for a good cause, but it was still a bit hard.

“Let’s go?” Garnet’s silhouette appeared apparently out of nowhere, startling her.

“Oh, r-right.” Jasper put the magazine down and walked into the office again, sitting down facing the mirror. Garnet put on her gloves and grabbed the needle gun, dipping the tip in a strong blue paint.

“I’d say this might hurt, but with your muscles you’ll probably just feel a light sting.” Garnet said as she started to work. As soon as the needle connected, she looked up. “How is it?”

Jasper let out a breathy laugh. “I’ve had worse.”

As Garnet worked, they stood in silence. The buzzing noise coming from the little machine was pleasant for some reason – maybe because it cut through the suffocating quietness of the place. The artist didn’t seem like a very talkative person, which normally wouldn’t bother Jasper, but right now she really didn’t want to be alone with her thoughts.

“So… what prompted you to become a tattoo artist?” It was such an awkward conversation starter, but it was the first thing that popped in her mind.

“A friend.” Garnet replied, simply. Jasper waited for her to elaborate, but it never came.

“Was she an artist, too?”

“In a way.” She leaned back to wipe the paint off, then resumed inking.

“I see.”

More silence followed and Jasper fidgeted with herself to think of something else. She had such terrible social skills, it was ridiculous. It was normally better than this with her team mates and coach, but that was because they’ve known each other for years. Her team was like the family she never had, but it had taken her at least a whole year to finally feel like she fit in. With this stoic woman in front of her, she was hopeless.

“Is there a story behind it?” Garnet asked all of a sudden.

“Huh?”

“Your tattoo.”

Oh, good, now she wanted to talk. That wasn’t really the way she wanted their chat to go, however. “Isn’t there a story behind all tattoos?”

“Not really,” Garnet wiped the ink again. “Many people just get one because of the aesthetic.”

“Is there a story behind yours?” Jasper tried to turn this around.

“Which one? I have plenty.”

“These ones on your shoulders.” The tribal tattoos were the only ones she could see. If the woman had others in hidden places, she couldn’t tell.

“I just think they looked cool.” Garnet replied with a small smile and Jasper actually laughed at that.

“Got me there.” She looked at herself in the mirror and sighed, not wanting to stare at her reflection the whole time. Turning back to Garnet, Jasper spilled. “Yeah, there’s a story. Not sure you’d want to hear it, to be honest.”

“If you don’t tell the meaning of your tattoo to your artist,” Garnet wiped more ink from her arm. “Then you’re not telling anyone. I respect that, it just looked like you wanted to share.”

The athlete blinked, surprised at how sensible Garnet was behind the serious façade. And hell, maybe she was right; there were so many things Jasper had to bear on her own in this life, maybe confiding in a total stranger sometimes was important. It was not like she owned her anything, and they would probably never see each other again, so why not.

“Alright,” Jasper swallowed the bump in her throat. “…I just need someone to hate me.”

Garnet hummed a ‘really?’, still focused on the lineart.

“Yeah. I mean, she already does, but not enough. We just need to… be apart for good.”

“And this tattoo will make her hate you?”

“Hopefully.” Jasper knew that it definitely would, but deep down she was still hanging on the fake hope that maybe it wouldn’t really.

“She doesn’t like flames, I take it.”

She snickered. “Not really. Well, me neither, but… it’s complicated.”

“Life is as complicated as we make it.” Garnet turned around to dip the needle in more blue.

“Deep,” Jasper smirked, looking down. “We had an accident with fire when we were younger. She blames herself for… this.” She gestured to her forearm, and Garnet nodded in understanding.

“It must’ve hurt.”

“The pain is the thing I remember the most vividly,” It should’ve been uncomfortable for Jasper to talk about this, but Garnet made her feel at peace. She didn’t use to share her past with anyone, but the whole atmosphere of the small room was relaxing enough for her to just let these things out. “Ever had a flaming stick fall right into your eyes?”

“Can’t say I have,” Garnet chuckled, but not in a rude way. “I’m sure my sunglasses would protect me, though.”

“Hah!” Jasper laughed out loud at this, truly amused. “I should’ve thought of that.”

“These are scars, then.” Garnet said, without needing to elaborate.

“Never healed,” Jasper opened and closed her hand. “I’m used to them by now.”

“And why blue?”

“It’s her favorite color.”

“And this girl was responsible, so now you’re tattooing flames in your scar to make her feel guilty about it every time she sees you.”

“She won’t feel guilty, she’s already past that,” Her memories went years back, when they shared a mattress on a shitty floor. “She’ll just be angry. It’s all I want her to feel.”

“What about what you feel?”

The question caught her off guard. “What?”

“You’re the one who was burned, and yet you want to see flames in your body every time you look at yourself in the mirror?” Garnet removed the machine from Jasper’s arm and turned it off, looking up at the girl. She wasn’t about to continue until Jasper answered her clearly, and the athlete clenched her teeth, averting her gaze.

“…I don’t care about myself.”

The heavy silence was almost maddening, and Jasper really wished the woman would turn the machine on again just so she could hear some kind of sound. Garnet then did something unexpected, and lifted her sunglasses above her head. Jasper couldn’t help but to look right into her eyes, trying to decipher what that expression meant. It almost looked like pity, but it wasn’t it – empathy, perhaps.

“If you say so,” Then she clicked the needle gun and continued working on the tattoo. It almost felt like she was being gentler this time, but it was probably just Jasper’s imagination. “But I don’t think that’s really it.”

“Huh?” She felt almost angry. What did this woman know about her?

“You do care about yourself,” Garnet explained. “You just care about her more.”

Jasper had no arguments for that.


It took two hours, but eventually her tattoo was done. Garnet cleaned it the best she could and covered it in plastic to protect it from anything coming from the outside. After relaying to Jasper the list of things she should do in the aftercare, she thanked her for coming and turned around to organize her desk. Jasper thanked her for listening and apologized for any weird thing she might’ve said, but Garnet dismissed it with a smile.

Before walking out of the office, Jasper looked once more to the reflection in the mirror, now with the full view of her finished tattoo. The blue flames covered the top of her scar perfectly, going up all the way near her shoulder in a swift motion. Her heart felt heavy as she exited the place. It would’ve been a beautiful tattoo, if it wasn’t going to be used to push someone she loved away, but Jasper didn’t care.

She would hate herself a thousand times over if Lapis could be finally happy.

Chapter Text

“Say Jenny, how would you describe love?” Amethyst’s question was quite out of nowhere, but it was one that had been hanging in her mind ever since the day in the junkyard where she drank with Lapis.

“Fulfilling,” Jenny’s answer was immediate, no missed beats or doubts in her voice. Her naked body turned around to nuzzle against Ame’s and she sighed contently, still quite sleepy. “Why you askin’ all of a sudden?”

“I’ve been thinking, I guess,” Amethyst responded by threading her fingers in the girl’s hair and bringing the cigarette to her lips to take a drag. “With Peri being in love and all.”

“Peri is a treasure.” Jenny giggled. “And girl, put this junk down you’re gonna set the bed on fire.”

“Oops, habit.” Amethyst smashed the cigarette on the glass ashtray next to her pillow and adjusted herself to sit up against the headboard. “What about you Sour Cream, what’s love to you?”

“Letting you into our bed even though you’re like, BFFs with my mom.” The blonde boy muttered from the other side of the shared mattress, where Buck was attached to him and snoring after their activities. His stamina had always been lower than his other two lovers, and today specially since Amethyst had decided to crash. A foursome was way too much for the mayor’s son.

“Hah!” Amethyst laughed at the sincere answer. “Vidalia is great. Not everyone is willing to look at me in the eyes knowing I casually bang their son.”

“She’s like, twenty years older than you.” Sour Cream had never understood how their relationship worked. “How can you be so… close to her?”

“What, you think I only have friends my age? Most of my closest friends are in their forties and fifties, dude.”

“Weird.”

“It’s because you give people a reality check,” Jenny chuckled, placing a kiss at the girl’s sides. “Your conversations are like… timeless.”

“What does that even mean?”

“That you can talk about anything with anyone in a way that makes them comfortable.”

“True,” Sour Cream nodded, closing her eyes. “You don’t hide stuff; you tell it how it is. Adults need this, sometimes.”

“You’re 22, bro, you’re an adult too.” Amethyst deadpanned.

“I meant adults.” The emphasis on the word was supposed to explain everything, and Ame breathed out a laugh in understanding.

She looked up at the ceiling for a few moments as the gears turned in her head and she thought about life. Sometimes Amethyst wondered if her lifestyle was too much, but then she dismissed these thoughts by looking around and realizing how happy she actually was. Her parents might have kicked her out when she was a teenager, but she managed to find incredible people along the way, and now there was no one else she needed to be 100% happy. Her family had never been supportive and always treated her like shit, so Amethyst built her own. The ones who truly mattered stayed, and she could always fool around as much as she liked without being judged, because she felt safe and protected by her ‘squad’, as she put it.

Ame pursed he lips, resuming her line of thought. “So for you, love is like… love for a friend.”

“Yeah, that too.” Sour Cream confirmed.

“There are different types of love,” Jenny added. “All of them are fulfilling, though.”

“Hmm… yeah, I can see that.” Ame smirked and kissed the top of Jenny’s head. The girl reciprocated by squeezing her tighter.

“Are you in love with someone, honey?” Jenny asked. Ame chortled.

“Nah, I don’t do love.”

“That’s what they always say.” Sour Cream’s tone was playful, but still lazy.

“Hmm-hm,” Jenny agreed. “Then one day that special someone comes along and crashes this cold and distant façade of yours.”

“You have two boyfriends, Jenny, I can’t compete with that.” Amethyst reminded.

“It’s not a competition, sweetie. Just saying, it might happen.”

“Don’t count on it,” After a quick silence and more ponderings of her own, Amethyst mumbled. “I wonder what the difference is…”

“Hmm?” Jenny and Sour Cream hummed at the same time.

“Between us and, you know… real adults.”

“What are real adults, anyway?” Jenny asked, wriggling out of Amethyst’s embrace to look up at her. “People who have a job, pay taxes, go grocery shopping and stuff like that?”

“You make it sound like we’re real adults.”

“Aren’t we, though?”

“I don’t know.” Amethyst had a relaxed smile on her face. “Technically, yeah. But do real adults have foursomes every month?”

“They should,” Sour Cream said seriously, making everyone in bed laugh – except for Buck, who was still deep asleep. “It would make some of them less grumpy.”

“Here we go.” Jenny rolled her eyes and moved so she could snuggle against her boyfriend. “No step-dad talk in bed, baby.”

“Yeah, I don’t need to picture Yellow Tail as I lay here with three naked people.” Amethyst snickered, then paused. “…Shit, I just did. Dammit!”

Sour Cream just grunted, but welcomed the snuggle with a few kisses of his own. It soon turned into a heated make-out session and Amethyst stared fondly at them for a bit before getting up quietly and putting on her clothes – they could do with some alone time. It was always a bit weird to sleep with the three of them; Amethyst always felt like she was intruding. So far, however, they made sure she was comfortable with everything and it had always been a pleasant experience. Since they knew Peridot as well, their relationship flowed a lot better, and Ame was glad to have such chill buddies.

Walking to the kitchen to make herself some coffee, she thought back on Jenny’s words about the different types of love. A small smile formed in her lips as she looked out the window to the setting sun, and breathed in deeply.

Amethyst might not do the romantic type of love, but she definitely did the platonic one.


“We’re going out to celebrate and you’re coming with!” Jasper’s whole body was shoved to the side as one of her teammates tackle-hugged her out of nowhere. She hit the lockers harshly, but the metal doors had seen worse.

“Say what?” Jasper asked, not bothered by the rough handling.

“That freaking try you scored at the last minute, man! It was the best thing I’ve ever seen and the girls agree.” She pointed to the rest of the team who was changing clothes behind them, and they all yelled a ‘yeah!’ in return. “So, as a thanks, we’re going to treat you to some drinks at this awesome pub downtown.”

Jasper eyed her friend suspiciously. “Bismuth, that was hardly my best play and you know it. What’s really going on?”

“What! Ridiculous, what other motivation would we have to want to cheer you up?” Bismuth had the best of intentions always, but she was a terrible, terrible liar.

“Cheer me up, huh? I thought you wanted to treat me because I scored.”

She froze and the girls behind them started laughing. “Bis, you’re so bad at this.”

“S-shut up!” Bismuth turned around with reddened cheeks and threw a wet towel over them. “Ugh, fine, it’s not because of your play. You, missy, have been sulking for these past weeks, ever since you got this tattoo. So we thought we might hang out with you for a bit, make you smile a little.”

It was a really nice sentiment, but Jasper was not in the mood for social interaction. Honestly, ever since her skin had been marked with those blue flames, Jasper had been loathing herself even more than usual. It got to the point where she wasn’t even sad anymore, she was just goddamn angry at herself for being so cowardly, because she knew why she was feeling this way.

She hadn’t showed it to Lapis yet.

That was the whole point of the tattoo: making Lapis hate her to the point of wanting to get away from her for good, so she could finally be free from the memories associated with Jasper’s presence. That was the only way the two of them would be able to move on from this, but she still hadn’t had the guts to call her. It was ridiculous, quite frankly, and she was tired.

“Thanks for the offer, but—”

“Nuh, nuh, nuh, you don’t have a say in this. You’re coming.” Bismuth was persistent on the matter. “Really Jasper, you need a break from… whatever it is that’s been bothering you. We’re your team and we’re here for you.”

“Your burden is like the ball,” Another girl, with beautifully dyed green hair, butted in with a smile. “If you pass it to us, little by little we get closer to winning the game. Rugby is all about trust and sharing, right? Let us carry it for a bit.”

“Crazy Lace…” Jasper didn’t expect to get so touched by those words, but her chest felt heavy. She didn’t want to alienate herself from her friends because of her problems; they were the ones who made her feel safe and happy in times like these.

Her team had always been loud and impulsive. Sometimes they made bad decisions at 3am before an important game, other times they broke down hotel rooms with playful pushes, but they always took responsibility for their actions and tried to do better every day.

Bismuth was the heart of the team, simply a big softy who cried when others cried, and she was the first friend Jasper made when she joined. The two of them had gotten into more trouble than they’d like to admit, but their bond never wavered, it just got stronger as the years went by. If she had to describe Bismuth, it would probably be the sister she never truly had.

Crazy Lace was another ball of sunshine, always positive and happy, in contrast with her twin Biggs. That one was always arguing about something, hot-headed, but very loyal to the team members. Despite being twins, the two were completely different in both personality and even appearance – Crazy Lace was thinner and had a luxurious aura around her, but she was the most humble person Jasper’s probably ever met. Her long green hair made her stand out on the field, and she was the most popular member with the fans. Biggs was a lot more muscular and aggressive with her tone, but the team knew she didn’t mean to sound rude 90% of the time. Her hair was short, black and very spiky, which fit her better; the girl didn’t care much for taking care of her appearance, unlike her sister.

The other members were also like Jasper’s family, but these three were the ones whom she was closest with. Now even Biggs was worried about her.

“Come on, it’s gonna be fun!” Bismuth slapped her back affectionately. “If you hate it, we can go home. Give it a try.”

With everyone’s eyes turned to her now, Jasper couldn’t possibly refuse – not when she knew that they were all just concerned for her well-being. She smiled a little, glad to have her team by her side not only on the field, but on her daily life as well, and sighed in an exaggerated manner. “You won’t drop it, will you?”

“Nope!” All other 14 rugby players said in unison, which created a really loud echo around the locker room.

“Geez, do you have to shout?” Jasper teased, receiving Bismuth’s arm around her neck followed by a warm laugh.

“Is that a yes?”

She didn’t answer for a few moments just to be a bit of a jerk, but then rolled her eyes. “Fine.”

The sound of cheers filled the place even louder, and Jasper struggled out of Bismuth’s grasp with agility. In return, the girl tried to grab her again, and both ended up struggling with each other until Jasper managed to drop her on the floor and sit on her back. The girls laughed again and Jasper felt a little lighter.

Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, after all.


“You’re coming tonight?” Peridot’s voice on the phone was giddy as usual, and Lapis smiled.

“Yeah, wouldn’t miss it.” She answered as she cleaned the kitchen with a wet cloth. “Are there any special events tonight?”

“Well, Saturdays are always busy, but nothing too bad. Oh! Sadie told me the boss hired some performers for a special body shot night?” She sounded confused at her own sentence. “Not sure what that means, but I hope chaos doesn’t ensue.”

“Ohh, sounds hot,” Lapis smirked, then added in a suggestive tone. “Are you one of them?”

“Huh? N-not really!” She could hear the blush in Peridot’s voice. She was so cute.

“Aww, too bad.”

After a quiet moment, Peridot mumbled. “…I could be for you privately, though.”

Lapis nearly knocked her prized cactus off the table. It still caught her off guard whenever Peridot let out some of these bold comments on her own, but in a terribly good way. Lapis bit her lower lip and resumed her chore with fire in her movements. “That would be amazing.”

“Yeah?” It was always weird for Peridot to actually be this flirty, but she felt herself opening up a lot more around Lapis. Exploring her own fantasies wasn’t so bad once in a while. “That can be arranged.”

Despite loving this side of Peridot, Lapis forced herself to calm down and talk about other things that didn’t involve thinking about how her naked body had felt against hers that day. It was still a very vivid memory and Lapis treasured it a lot, but there were so many other things about Peridot that she liked – her sharp mind, for example. The girl was incredibly intelligent and talented, and Lapis found herself thinking back on the things she had learned because of her.

Being homeschooled – very poorly, at that – didn’t allow her to learn many things in life. Not that she wasn’t smart, but things like science and physics were completely foreign to her. She doubted Malachite knew many things about the subject either, the witch just talked about money and business. Lapis could’ve learned some things if she’d paid attention, but back then she wanted to stay as far away from that woman as possible.

“Say…” Lapis resumed on the phone. “Do you think opening a business is hard?”

“Hmm, well I know it requires a lot of money beforehand.” Peri answered without even inquiring about the random question. “You need a business plan first, so you can tell what exactly you’re spending and what your source of income will be. Then there are a lot of papers that need to be filled.”

“I see.” She didn’t want to think about the circus, but it happened to be connected to the subject. Malachite might’ve been a monster, but at least she was rich and had a clear idea of how these things worked. The fact that she made her income out of abused orphaned kids was a whole other story.

“Are you thinking about opening one in the future?” Peri’s voice was careful, almost as if threading on thin ice.

Lapis stopped wiping the floor with a thoughtful expression. “I don’t know. It was a thought that crossed my head just now. I would need to get a job first, though.” If there was one thing she absolutely dreaded was Malachite helping to fund her business, if she ever opened one.

“You can do it!” Peridot was always so supportive that it made Lapis’ body warm up with emotion. “I heard that partnerships are easier to handle, but I’m not really well-versed in the matter. Maybe… if you want, we could try something together someday.”

This idea hadn’t even crossed Lapis’ mind, and now she felt like she was floating in a dream. Meeting someone so selfless like that was the most intense experience of her life, because she didn’t know how to handle so much thoughtfulness coming from a person. If it wasn’t Peridot talking, Lapis might’ve thought she was just saying that to be polite; but this bartender didn’t have one insincere bone in her body.

“What did I ever do to deserve you…?” Lapis muttered under her breath.

“Did you say something?”

“No, don’t worry.” She smiled, then resumed her cleaning. “We could think about it, sure. Thank you for suggesting it.”

“Okay.” Her voice was very soft and Lapis just knew the girl had a loving gleam in her eyes.

“Lapis, I’m home!” Steven’s voice cut through the mood in a flash.

“In the kitchen!” Lapis yelled back. “Steven’s back, sorry.”

“It’s okay! I’ll see you tonight.”

She had heard these exact words a thousand times already, but it still made her heart leap a beat. “See you.”

Lapis hung up, smiling at her own reflection in the newly polished marble counter.

She had a feeling it would be a good night.


Something about the pub that night was different, livelier. The speakers were booming louder than usual and the people who normally sat at the tables far from the dancefloor were nowhere to be seen, because there was not a single soul sitting down. There was black light everywhere and at the entrance some new hostesses would rub people’s faces with phosphorescent paint, creating a beautiful display of glowing expressions.

“Welcome to Bitch City, remember to smile!” A tall blonde hostess welcomed Lapis that night, rubbing her cheeks and nose with blue paint. Lapis couldn’t help but to giggle at the coincidence of color and thanked her, pushing past the innumerous people and heading straight to the bar. She greeted some regulars on her way, receiving a very tight hug from this girl she never really talked to before, but who looked like a very sweet person. The music that night was mainly electronic remixes of popular songs, so there was an echoing chorus of people singing their lungs out wherever you went.

The bar was more crowded than usual, and Lapis soon saw why. At the very far right corner of the counter, there were three very muscular men and lean women standing above everyone, with dripping abs and very flexible bodies. One of the men lied down at some point and poured a bit of tequila on his bellybutton, and one of the costumers licked it clean with a very big smile. Lapis couldn’t help but to laugh at the thought of Peridot trying to be all sexy like that in front of so many people. She definitely wasn’t cut for this kind of job.

Despite the huge line for a turn on the body shot ride, things were quite organized. One of the great things about the pub was that people seemed to always be respectful towards each other; Lapis never witnessed a fight or a bad time at the place, which she was sure might’ve happened once or twice, but never when she was around. There were no lonely souls sitting at the bar either that night, just friends dancing with their drinks in hands, but carefully to avoid spilling.

At some point she managed to squish herself in between two people and lean at the counter. Her eyes roamed around looking for Peridot and she witnessed her on the left, mixing something with a serious expression. Focused as usual, Lapis thought with a grin, and decided to wait for her to walk by so she could say hi. She looked up at the menu carved in the wood above the bar and thought about what she would order that night. Getting wasted wasn’t in her plans, but if it happened she wouldn’t complain. The atmosphere looked ideal for letting herself go that night and she was really digging the playlist the DJ had created. She was sure it wasn’t Sour Cream – whenever events like these happened they hired new ones for the job. Lapis wondered if she would find Buck, Jenny and Sour Cream on the dancefloor.

One of the bartenders walked by and asked her if she wanted to order something.

“Can I get an Electric Lemonade?”

“Coming up,” He nodded, leaving the spot to grab some lemons. Not long after he was gone, Peridot walked by and Lapis sprung an arm to catch her attention.

“Hey, stranger.”

“Lapis!” Peridot unconsciously leaned in for a kiss and was met with a fierce one, as Lapis grabbed her cheeks. She had to pull back quite quickly, but her mind felt hazy nonetheless. “Can I get you something?”

“I asked your friend over there already.” She replied, pointing out with her head.

“Alright. I’ll try to walk by soon, I just need to take some orders.”

“Go on, I’ll be here.”

Peri hesitate a little before pecking her on the lips again and walking away in happy steps. Lapis laughed with a soft blush on her cheeks and propped her head up in one hand to follow Peridot with her eyes and a dumb smile on her face.


“Welcome to Bitch City, don’t forget to smile!” Jasper was met with a greeting and orange paint rubbed across her face and raised an eyebrow, looking at Crazy Lace by her side.

“Bitch City, seriously?”

“Go on, tell me this isn’t the best name for a gay bar.” The girl quipped, reaching up to wipe away some excess paint on Jasper’s nose.

“It’s the worst name for a gay bar.” Biggs interjected with her arms crossed.

“Makes it sound like a motel,” Jasper smirked as she looked around and immediately spotted the dancers on top of the bar counter. “They have strippers and everything.”

“They do indeed.” Crazy Lace bit her lip as she watched the shirtless men moving their hips in a ridiculously sexy way.

“You do know they are probably all gay, right?” Bismuth butted in as she saw the girl basically drooling.

“Let a girl dream, Bis.” She put one hand up in front of Bismuth’s face, refusing to move her eyes from the bar. “Besides, I’m not looking for a boyfriend, I just wanna lick those abs. Come on.” With nothing else to add, she grabbed Jasper and Bismuth’s hands and tried to pull the huge athletes into the crowd.

“Good luck with her!” Biggs shouted from the distance, knowing very well her sister became insufferable around attractive men.

Jasper wasn’t used to be in the middle of so many people, and if it wasn’t for her huge height, it would be terribly suffocating. As they walked, people looked up at them, quite surprised at the size of these women, but no snarky remarks or uncomfortable touches were made in the way. Jasper was surprised by that; honestly she’d been waiting to be grabbed from behind at some point – wasn’t that what people did at night clubs? The fact that the only things she received were smiles made her feel so much better. The song wasn’t bad either, and as soon as they reached the line, she felt more relaxed.

“Yeah, you do that, I’m gonna grab something to drink. You coming with, Jasper?” Bismuth was clearly not in the mood to wait for an hour to watch her straight friend lick some dude’s bellybutton.

“Lead the way. We’ll be back soon,” She looked over at Crazy Lace with a smirk, which wasn’t exactly an apologizing one.

“Yeah, you leave me here! I’ll make friends, I don’t need you!” The girl yelled dramatically and Jasper just rolled her eyes and walked away. They got to an emptier part of the bar quickly and looked up at the menu.

“Hmm… I’m thinking about a couple of beers to start, how about you?” Bismuth asked, then frowned. “Wait. Shit, can you even drink? You just got your tattoo and all, aren’t you supposed to wait like… a while?”

“It’s been more than a week, I’m sure it’s fine.” Jasper shrugged. “Besides, I’m not staying in a place called Bitch City while sober.”

Bismuth laughed. “Alright then! Hey, bartender, can we get some beers over here?”

“Coming right up!” Peridot yelled without taking her eyes off the Martini she was just finishing. With a swift move, she delivered the drink and walked back to grab two beer cups. Filling them to the brim, she slid over to Bismuth and Jasper. “Thank you for waiting!” And without really glancing at their faces for more than a second, she walked over to where another costumer was asking for a drink.

“Working hard,” Bismuth mentioned briefly and lifted her cup. “Cheers! For a well-played game!”

“For dragging me over here to cheer me up,” Jasper corrected with a smug grin and clinked their cups, gulping nearly everything down in seconds. It didn’t take long for beers to turn into vodka shots mixed with energetics, which was always a terrible combination, and soon Jasper felt herself laughing stupidly at basically anything. After a few bad jokes, they decided to leave the counter and walk over to the body shot line, where Crazy Lace was finally realizing her dream of licking some abs.

“If you wanted to lick abs all you had to do was ask!” Bismuth shouted as she lifted her shirt teasingly. Jasper could literally feel the eyes of every lesbian in the room turning towards them.

“Fuck off, I’m living here!” The green-haired athlete flipped her off and poured some more tequila on the dude’s bellybutton. Jasper and Bismuth laughed like idiots and decided to move to the dance floor to let out some steam. Decidedly, dancing was not on the list of things Jasper knew how to do, so she just moved side by side awkwardly, but without giving much thought to it. The bodies besides them crashed and collided against her, which was a feeling she was quite used to already.

A sudden harsh blow came in her direction however, and she accidentally stepped to the side and crashed with someone much smaller than her. Jasper’s reflexes kicked in and she grabbed the person’s back to stop them from falling, like she was dipping them in a romantic dance.

“Oops, sorry,” She said dumbly, but her smile vanished the second she looked at the girl in her arms.

At that moment, a few things happened.

First Lapis’ eyes froze on Jasper’s painted face, then they moved to her left arm, where the tattoo was exposed for all to see. Just then, she pushed Jasper away with a strength she didn’t know she possessed, and with a sudden overflow of anger, she nearly spat the words out.

“What the fuck is that thing?”

Chapter Text

Jasper’s head was way too jumbled for this kind of conversation right now, but what choice did she have when Lapis all but pushed her into the bathroom, away from prying eyes? Bismuth of course had tried to follow, getting defensive towards her team mate when she saw this blue-haired chick apparently picking a fight over the fact that Jasper had accidentally pushed her, but Jasper calmed her down and said that she would deal with her alone. Bismuth didn’t understand, but promised to wait outside – just in case.

And now there they were, facing each other inside a gay pub’s bathroom, with a ton of emotions swirling around. Jasper didn’t know if Lapis was drunk as well – she really hoped she wasn’t.

“Care to explain?” It was hardly a question, more like a demand coming out of Lapis’ mouth.

Jasper shifted uncomfortably, trying to focus, but there were two of the girl in front of her. “This is a really bad time to have this conversation.”

“Why? Are you drunk?”

“Yes,” Jasper hoped that one of them would at least have the common sense of sorting things out sober.

“Good, me too.” Was all Lapis said in return, and now Jasper knew that this was going to suck.

“You don’t look drunk,” She tried to avoid it by making stupid remarks, but it wasn’t going to cut it.

“Because I’m pissed.”

“At what?” She nearly laughed. “At me? Tell me something I don’t know, Lapis.”

“At this… stupid fucking thing in your arm!” Lapis raised her voice, gesturing to the blue flames adorning pure muscle. “Is this a joke? Are you mocking me?”

“I’m not—”

“No, screw that,” Lapis laughed, unbelieving. “Are you mocking yourself? After what happened, this is the first tattoo you decide to get? Fucking flames on top of your scar?”

“Oh, after what happened?” Jasper knew she shouldn’t lose her temper, she knew she should have stormed out of there the moment she realized Lapis was in the same vicinity – and honestly, that tiny girl wouldn’t be able to stop her from leaving with her bare hands – but she hadn’t. And now, with alcohol clouding her good judgement, Jasper was going to be an asshole and spill things that she knew would hurt the both of them. “Or after what you did to me?”

What?” Lapis was shocked. “I can’t… I can’t believe you’re bringing this up again, it’s been years—”

“Yeah, it’s been fifteen fucking years, and look how well my skin has healed!” Jasper pointed at her eyes, which she knew would hurt Lapis more. The scars on her arms were bad, but the younger girl’s biggest fear at the time was that she had blinded Jasper, and the athlete knew it.

There was a silence heavier than anything Jasper had ever experienced and she felt her heart race. Not even her training regimen gave her palpitations like that, and she was feeling sick.

“…That’s not fair.” Lapis finally muttered under her breath, as bangs covered her eyes.

“What isn’t?” Jasper knew the answer, but she wanted to hear it out loud. “Tell me, Lapis, what isn’t fair?”

“You don’t get to do this!”

“Fuck off,” She turned around to grab the sink tightly, afraid of snapping at something more delicate and break other people’s propriety. “I get to blame you for scarring me as much as I want, just like you get to blame me for doing this to you.”

“Doing what to me?” There was a quiver in Lapis’ voice.

“You know damn well what,” She sighed, looking up at her face on the smudged mirror. “Using you to get rid of my shit thoughts. Not denying you when you come over to fuck me when I know damn well you’re dating someone. Not pushing you away when you want me gone.”

“You’re so fucking hypocritical.” Lapis’ bitter tone dripped from her teeth like poison.

“We’re both fucking hypocritical, Lapis!” Jasper hated yelling, but her voice was just naturally loud. “We’re both still using all the shit she sends us, we’re both pretending we hate her when we’re just leeching off of the things she still does for us, and we’re both waiting for the day when she’ll come to this city herself and drag us back to her freak show!”

No sound came after that, the muffled beat of the DJ’s electronic music the only thing stopping them from going crazy with the silence.

Some girl walked in at that moment and stopped, sensing some tension in the air. Then she quietly backed off, leaving the bathroom again. Despite the soul-crushing atmosphere, Jasper couldn’t help but to chuckle at this. “This is stupid, we shouldn’t be talking about our shit history with both of us drunk out of our minds.”

“This is the only time we’ll ever talk about our shit history,” Lapis corrected, and touched her back on the tile wall with a tired expression. “We’ve been avoiding this ever since the packages started coming, might as well get it over with now.”

That was true, ridiculously so. Any form of contact the two of them ever had, had been purely physical, lacking actual adult dialogue for years, and this was the total opposite of healthy. Lapis knew she was going to lose something she wasn’t ready to if they ever sat down and talked about the things they did, but now there was no avoiding it anymore.

“Why did you do it?” Lapis asked, pointing to the tattoo with her head.

“To piss you off.” Jasper let go of the sink and mirrored Lapis’ pose on the opposite wall.

“Well, you accomplished that.” Lapis slid down to the floor. “Now what.”

Jasper did the same, grabbing a pack of cigarettes from her coat and then tossing it across the bathroom after lighting one up. “Now I hope you leave me alone.”

“Don’t pretend to be high and mighty,” Lapis grabbed it and lit one too. “You need me as much as I need you.”

“Yeah, I do.” Jasper took a drag. “But someone needs to be strong enough to break free from this shit storm.”

“And you think I can do it?” Lapis almost smiled as the smoke filled her lungs.

“You own me this.”

“Pfft, please.”

Jasper snickered with the cigarette hanging from her mouth and lifted her arm. “You damaged me irreparably, do something about it.”

It was twisted and sort of sick, but Lapis actually laughed out loud at those words. Jasper tried to dig around in her mind for a valid response to that, but right now all she could manage to do was to join in the broken laughter as well. The mixed drinks on both girls’ organisms were in full effect, and the reverberating chuckles seemed to go on eternally. They only stopped to cough the smoke out of their lungs and Jasper wiped the tears on the corner of her eyes – the whole situation was absurd.

“I loved you, you know.” Jasper said suddenly.

Lapis froze on her spot at the sudden confession. They stared at each other from across the bathroom for a while until Lapis broke into another laughing outburst. “You’re sick.”

“Yeah,” She only smiled dumbly and looked up at the smoke cloud on top of their heads. There was only one tiny window leading outside, and it wasn’t able to redirect all the fog out. For a brief moment, Jasper felt guilty for smoking in a place clearly not meant to, but this thought vanished as soon as it came. “You ever wonder how we would’ve turned out if we’d had a decent childhood?”

“What’s the fucking point of that?”

“I don’t know. Just something that keeps me awake at night.” Jasper inhaled more smoke.

Lapis did the same. “My life already sucks enough without me having to dwell on what ifs.”

“Hmm.” Was all Jasper said after keeping quiet again. She was suddenly feeling incredibly exhausted and knew she would need help getting up. A group of friends walked into the bathroom at that moment, too drunk to actually notice the smoke or the two people sitting on the floor. Once they finished using the toilet and washed their hands and faces, they left as if nothing was wrong at all. Lapis smiled lazily at that.

“Must be nice be normal. No nightmares, no traumas.”

“No sister-fucking.” Jasper chortled.

“You’re not my sister.” Lapis’ response was immediate – it was just reflex by now.

“I always wondered why you hated when people called me that.”

Lapis kept quiet and took another drag. “It just sounds wrong.”

“‘Cause we fucked?”

“Because we’re not sisters.” She replied with a piercing glare.

“Whatever you say,” Jasper shrugged. “It’d be weird, I guess, being in love with you at all.”

“Were you, actually?” Lapis asked in a more serious tone. “In love with me.”

“Most of my teenage years, yeah.”

“I’m so glad I’m drunk right now.” Lapis dipped her head back with a smirk, really not in the mood to dwell on these words right now. It was too sudden and too much for one night, but she was feeling numb and surprisingly calm. “…So that’s why you can’t be the one to walk away first.”

“I did walk away first,” Jasper put out her finished cigarette on the tile above her head. “I moved out.”

“Oh, right, you left me.” Lapis finished her last drag. “Fucking bitch move, by the way.”

“I asked you to come with me, you asshole, but you refused.”

“Good thing I did, too, since you were apparently in love with me.”

Jasper really wished she had something to throw at Lapis that moment, but there was nothing but emptiness inside her. They were derailing from the main topic of this whole conversation, and Jasper tried to put them back on track.

“Whatever. The point is, we can’t see each other anymore. I don’t care how many nightmares you have or how much you need me to fuck your brains out, find someone else.”

“I already have.” Lapis spit back rolling her eyes. “Thank you for your concern.”

“Good for them. I hope they can put up with your bullshit.”

“She does. Better than you’ve ever had.”

“I am part of your bullshit, Lapis.”

Lapis tried to think of a witty come back, but she was too tired to actually think, so she just poked her tongue out.

“What are you, twelve?” Jasper raised an eyebrow at the childish gesture. When Lapis showed her the middle finger, she grinned smugly. “That’s better.”

“So you did a permanent tattoo of one of your traumas to tell me we need to stop fucking?” Lapis frowned; saying it out loud made it sound stupid, but that was basically it.

“Yes.”

“You could have just asked me to stop coming over instead, you know.”

“Like you would listen.” Jasper scoffed. “That’s not how an addiction works, Lapis. You don’t just stop because you want to, you stop because something forces you to.”

“You think I’m addicted to you?” Lapis asked, baffled.

“You are addicted to me.” She replied, as if it were obvious. “And I am to you. I’m cutting you off of my life because if we ever hope to be happy one day, we just can’t be around each other at all.”

“I’ve been feeling happier than ever these past weeks, Jasper.” Lapis’ voice was trembling with indignation. “I haven’t even thought of you, so you can shove this stupid knight on shining armor act up your ass.”

“Good. Then you won’t care if we never see each other again.” Jasper talked neutrally and this made Lapis stop for some reason. Jasper then grunted, stretching her tired muscles. “Goddamn, I sure hope you remember this tomorrow because I am not having this whole conversation again. I already have a headache and I’m still drunk.”

“Fine.” Lapis put out her cigarette and tried to get up. She failed on the first time and Jasper laughed at her, which only made her try harder. This time she managed to wobbly stand by grabbing the sink and when she did, the world seemed to spin.

“You okay?”

“Like you care.” She only said that to be a fucking brat, and Jasper knew it anyway.

“Yeah, I did this to myself because I don’t care.” Jasper lifted her tattooed arm with an eye roll.

“You did this to yourself because you’re a fucking idiot.” Lapis turned the faucet on and tried to wash her face, which only resulted on water spilling all over.

“We’re both fucking stupid.” Jasper sighed and tried to get up herself. Her massive body was a lot heavier than she previously thought, and she was failing epically at the most basic movements at the moment. When Lapis looked over and saw her struggle, she grunted and walked towards her, offering a hand.

“Come on.”

Jasper slapped it away. “I’ll only drag you down with me.”

The gesture made a sudden image flash before Lapis’ eyes and she dropped her hand by her side. She remembered doing the same exact thing many times in her childhood when Malachite pushed her around and made her fall. Jasper had always offered her a hand to help her up, but Lapis slapped it away each time. She thought she was being strong by dealing with that shit alone and not depending on anyone, but all she really had managed to do was hurt Jasper’s feelings. Now that she knew how it felt to be on the other side of it, she felt her stomach turn.

Before she knew it, she was rushing to the toilet and emptying her stomach. Jasper could only stare with a pitiful look, before finally getting up. She walked towards Lapis and held her hair back as the girl puked, helping her one last time before disappearing from her life forever.

The last thing Lapis felt before blacking out was Jasper’s familiar fingers rubbing her back in a soothing manner, and then a cold shiver down her spine as she heard the words:

“Bye, Lapis.”


The bright lights were terribly blinding and Lapis buried her head on the fluffy thing beneath her head. Squeezing it a little made her feel better and her bare legs moved against something silky as she shifted a bit to get her bearings. Lapis realized she was in a bed and sighed relieved; at least someone had been generous enough to pick her up from…

Where was she yesterday, again?

When Lapis remembered, her heart jumped and started beating strongly against her chest, making the blood pound her head with a huge strength. Her mouth was dry and with a terrible taste, and she’d never been thirstier. Lapis forced herself to open her eyes to try to get a glimpse of where she was. The beige walls were the first thing to come into focus, along with the nearly-transparent red curtains and she immediately recognized the place.

Peridot’s room was a warm sight in the middle of such darkness.

Sitting up was a hard task, and she felt incredibly grateful when she saw the glass of fresh water waiting for her already on the nightstand. Lapis grabbed it and drank all of it in three gulps, sighing as she put it down. There was a note underneath it, and Lapis was afraid of reading it because she knew it would be something lovely. Trembling, she grabbed the piece of paper.

“Good morning! I hope you’re feeling better. I’m in the living room and we have food! I’ll cook you something, so feel free to wash up first if you want. – Peri.”

The weight of every bad thing that had ever happened to her came crashing down at that exact moment, when she read the note and realized how bad of a person she was compared to Peridot.

Her conversation yesterday with Jasper was fresh in her mind despite the hangover, and Lapis realized that she had just lost the only thing that had been stable in her life ever since she was a kid. Jasper was done with her for good, and she had no one else to turn to anymore when things inevitably went downhill with Peridot. Lapis had always treated Jasper as a backup plan, and as fucked as it sounded, she was now scared of what would happen to her.

She didn’t want to be alone.

She was terrified.

Lapis opened the door and dashed across the hallway. When she got to the living room and saw Peridot on her couch eating cereal, she felt the tears prickling her eyes.

“Oh, morning! Did you see my note?” Peri smiled at her like nothing was wrong, but dropped her cheerful expression when Lapis didn’t answer. “Lapis?”

“I’m… I’m so sorry…” Lapis brought one hand to her mouth and ran past her, opening the apartment’s door and running away.

“Wait! Lapis!” Peridot jumped off the couch and tried to run after the girl.

By the time she got to the first floor, however, Lapis was already nowhere to be seen.

Chapter Text

“Still no answer?” Sadie’s voice was full of sadness as she addressed Peridot. The two of them were getting ready for the night, cleaning some cups and organizing the tables, but there was a heavy atmosphere in the air. Peridot’s soul seemed to have left her body.

“No…” She answered with a quivering voice. Ever since Lapis ran away from her house three days ago, Peridot had been calling and sending texts nonstop, but the girl had yet to respond. At first, Peri’s anxiety was so bad that she had to miss work for a day and just spend time with Amethyst to calm down. Now, however, there was just sadness and emptiness inside her tiny body, and she wanted to cry 24/7. “I just left another voice mail…”

Sadie sighed with empathy and rubbed her shoulders. “Hey, I am positive she’s fine. Sometimes people need a time for themselves, you know?” When the bartender didn’t budge at the words, she tried a different approach. “Did she tell you what was upsetting her? Anything at all?”

Peridot shook her head. “Someone told me she was passed out in the bathroom that night and I just… I assumed it was because she had drunk so much. So I took her home and tucked her in… The next day she just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said she was sorry. Then she ran away faster than I’ve ever seen her move. I think something happened that night, but… how can I—?”

“Oh, Peri.” Sadie pulled the girl in for a hug, stopping momentarily their duties. She felt the bartender shaking in her arms and it was the worst feeling in the world. “I asked my friends in other bars and stores to tell me if they see a blue-haired girl walking in, okay?”

“Thank you,” Peri muttered, still buried into the hug.

“Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“No, it’s okay…” She pulled back to recompose herself and took a deep breath, rubbing her eyes. “Amethyst is coming tonight. I’ll talk to her for a bit.”

“Okay, sweetie.” Sadie gave her a heartfelt smile and turned around to resume the arduous task of organizing the tables. “You can take a break if you want tonight, too. I’ll take over for you.”

Peri just nodded as her robotic movements changed the order of the bottles. Her cellphone was in her pocket and she’d been waiting for it to vibrate for days, but it never did.

Her brain was in a constant loop of thousands of reasons as to why Lapis had told her she was sorry that day, the words as vivid as she could remember. Peridot didn’t know if she was the problem, or if someone else had done something to Lapis that night – if that was the case, then it was something very subtle, since there wasn’t any commotion at all in the pub that day. Peridot had even asked the bouncer and security guards if they’d seen anything out of ordinary, but none of them had.

Of course her line of thought then shifted to Lapis’ past, and all the things that had to do with it. The two people she always mentioned were Jasper and Malachite, so there was a high possibility that whatever had upset her was tied to either of them. This only served to make Peri even more worried; was her terrible adoptive mother back in town? Maybe Lapis had received a message from her and that made her scared. Or maybe Jasper had done something.

“Ugh,” Peridot scratched her head forcefully to try to get rid of her own thoughts. It was too much and she was losing focus faster than ever. All she wanted to know right now was if Lapis was okay.

She felt so helpless.


“Three days now?” Greg widened his eyes surprised as he put another marshmallow on his stick and hovered it over the grill fire. “Oh no, do you know what happened?”

“I don’t know…” Steven’s voice was partially muffled by the candy in his mouth; despite the cute face, his eyes were downcast and sad. “I was watching TV on the living room that day and Lapis came through the door. She looked so scared, dad. I asked her what was wrong, but she just ran upstairs and closed herself in her room. I’m pretty sure she was crying, too, but I couldn’t reach her, so I just told her I’d wait for her if she wanted to talk…”

“And when did she leave?”

“She was in there until very late at night,” Steven put another marshmallow on his stick. “I kept leaving her food in front of her door, and every time I came back the food was gone, but she still wouldn’t answer me. Then I fell asleep, and when I woke up there was a note on the kitchen counter. She just said she was very sorry and that she needed to leave the house for a while. She told me not to worry, but…”

“I wonder what upset her…” Greg shifted closer to give his son a side-hug. “Sometimes people need time to figure things out on their own.”

“But she hasn’t come back home!” Steven was on the verge of tears, which didn’t really match with his mouth full of unhealthy sweets. “Where is she sleeping? Is she eating properly? What about going to the bathroom??”

“Maybe she’s staying with someone else, kiddo.” Greg tried to calm him down by finding reasonable arguments as to where Steven’s friend might be hiding, but it was always hard to see his son in such a state. “Or maybe a hotel. There are a lot of places she could’ve gone to take care of these things.”

“You think so…?” The boy had really come to care about Lapis, and being all alone in a house that wasn’t his started to bother him a lot. He would’ve come back to live with his dad in the van, but he was worried about not being home when Lapis returned. “I feel like she has lots of problems that she doesn’t tell anyone. I wish I could help her…”

“Adults are hard to figure out like this,” Greg joked to light up the mood. “A lot of times they don’t want to bother other people with their problems, because they are supposed to be the mature ones. When I was younger, before you were born, I got in all kinds of trouble too.”

“You did?”

“Oh, yeah! Running away to become a musician, not really having a place to sleep sometimes, having to crash at a friend’s house until I got my life back together…” He ruffled Steven’s hair with affection. “It’s all part of growing up. Besides, you’re already doing the most important part!”

“Which part is that?”

“Making sure you’re there for her,” He smiled. “Nobody likes to feel alone. If you keep telling her how much you care and worry, I’m sure she’ll feel a little bit lighter.”

“But I do tell her!” Steven placed his stick on the floor next to his shoes. “I think… she doesn’t believe me.”

“Hmm… I wouldn’t say that she doesn’t believe you, I think it’s more of…” He scratched the top of his bald head, trying to think of a way to put it. “She doesn’t want to hurt you.”

“What? But she’s the one who is sad, not me.” Steven frowned, really not comprehending this whole situation his dad was laying down in front of him. Greg ate another marshmallow and hummed, thinking before speaking again. The sound of faint raindrops falling on the van’s metal was a nice change of pace from the hot days of the week, and it managed to soothe the turbulent feelings a little.

“Well, when you’re upset with something, do you tell Connie?” Greg finally asked.

“It depends on what’s upsetting me, I guess…”

“What if she’s having a really good day and asks you to come over to play, but you’re very sad over something that happened recently. Would you go?”

“I don’t think so,” Steven laid down on his sides and propped his head up with one hand, looking outside the van’s window where the raindrops were visible. “I’d tell her I wasn’t feeling so good and stay home.”

“Why would stay home?”

“Because I wouldn’t want to—” Then Steven widened his eyes, finally getting the message. “Ruin her day.”

“You see?” Greg turned off the grill and pulled over some blankets over the two of them. “Lapis is probably afraid of ruining your good day with her problems.”

“But running away without telling me what happened also ruined my day!” He sighed, frustrated.

“That’s why it’s tricky,” Greg made himself comfortable under the covers and turned off the flashlight that was illuminating the van’s interior. “By not telling us what’s wrong, sometimes people hurt us too. It’s hard to find a solution to a situation like this. But time is a great healer.”

Both father and son stood quiet after that, letting the rain be the only sound present. Steven pondered his dad’s wise words for a bit before sleep inevitably caught up to him. He decided that he should give Lapis some space, and he would try to understand that sometimes people couldn’t be helped right away.

As soon as Greg started snoring, Steven fell asleep, and the rain washed away some of the bad feelings.


You’ve got [1] new message. Please wait for the beep.

“Lapis? It’s me. Please, I don’t know what happened, but… I’m so worried about you, I— Please, if you don’t want to talk I understand, just… could you answer my texts? It’s been a few days and I just want to make sure you are okay. I know I’ve been calling a lot, but I’m really, really worried! Please, Lapis. I’m here for you, I’ll always be. So… whenever you feel like talking… You can call me. Or text me, too. Whatever makes you comfortable. I promise I’ll pick up the phone, it doesn’t matter the time, okay? I’ll— I’ll hang up now. I’ll keep texting. Bye. I… I’ll call you later, too.”

To repeat, press 1. To delete, press 2.

“Lapis? It’s me. Please, I don’t know what happened, but…”

The smoke rose above her head slowly and steady, as she rewound the voice message for the fifth time in a row. Her legs were numb underneath her, but that was just because she’d been sitting with them crossed for two hours without moving. Lapis didn’t mind though – her whole body seemed numb anyway. She took another drag of her eighth cigarette and looked at the horizon, where the sunlight faded as the star sunk deep into the river waters. Soon it would be dark enough for her to get up and roam mindlessly through the riverbank.

Not that she had the energy to actually do so.

When the message ended, Lapis moved her thumb on the cellphone screen to check on the messages she had sent Jasper.

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: jasper?

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: please don’t do this

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: im not ready

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: im too weak for this im still too fucking weak and you are too I know you are

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: I just… I ran away from her place im having a breakdown I need…

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: I need you

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: don’t ignore me jasper

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: not you, please

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: we were drunk yesterday we barely knew what we were saying

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: please say something

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: lets at least say goodbye face to face while sober holy shit

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: fine see if I fucking care

[Lapis, 2 days ago]: goddammit jasper…..

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: where are you

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: youre not home

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: hello??

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: did something happen to you you should at least text me back

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: you don’t need to pick up my calls but at least

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: say something so I know you’re not fucking dead in a ditch somewhere

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: wow

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: you actually meant that, huh

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: you must really hate me

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: what the hell is wrong with you

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: did you run away from home just so you could never see my face again?? am I not even worth a proper goodbye????

[Lapis, 1 day ago]: fuck you.

[Lapis, 6:23am]: I cant sleep

[Lapis, 6:23am]: im having nightmares shes there and its all too real and everything is dark and youre not anywhere

[Lapis, 6:29am]: why am I even still texting you whats the goddamn point

[Lapis, 6:29am]: why cant I let you go, why is my life such a fucking mess, why am I this torn up over you

[Lapis, 6:30am]: this isn’t doing either of us any good. I know youre reading this, please lets at least talk like decent human beings

[Lapis, 6:32am]: damn im so tired

[Lapis, 2:50pm]: I think I fucked everything up for myself

[Lapis, 2:50pm]: I had a good thing going on for once in my miserable life

[Lapis, 2:50pm]: and I just had to go and screw it up as usual

[Lapis, 2:50pm]: the worst part is that this isn’t even my fault its all yours

[Lapis, 2:50pm]: at least step up and take responsibility this time

[Lapis, 2:57pm]: ANSWER ME

[Lapis, 2:59pm]: fucking hell

[Lapis, 8:36pm]: its been 3 days and im still texting you how pathetic is this

[Lapis, 8:36pm]: this is the most ive ever texted you I think

[Lapis, 8:36pm]: what a fucking joke

[Lapis, 8:36pm]: all ive accomplished in these 3 days was worry Peridot

[Lapis, 8:36pm]: im such a hypocrite, I ask you to answer me when im not even answering her

[Lapis, 8:36pm]: I was so happy too

[Lapis, 8:37pm]: im such a fucking idiot

[Lapis, 8:37pm]: you are too

[Lapis, 8:40pm]: ill leave you alone.

She threw the phone on the grass with another sigh. Replaying the voice message and rereading the texts she sent Jasper was just messing with her head, but she couldn’t stop torturing herself for some reason. A part of Lapis wanted to scream, punch a wall until her knuckles were bloodied, just so she could feel something; that was the part of her that was engulfed in rage. Another part just wanted to run to Peridot’s arms, beg for forgiveness, and let her soothe all of her problems; that was the selfish, unrealistic part. In the end, she was too tired and depressed to even move a muscle to do any of those things.

She knew she was worrying Steven too – the other person who cared about her in this world – and Lapis hated herself every minute of the day because of it. It was bad, pushing people away when she needed them the most, but it was a defense mechanism. When it came down to it, her response to tough times had always been Jasper – Jasper’s arms around her, Jasper’s scent, Jasper’s presence. She was the one who was there whenever Malachite abused her.

Any other person was a stranger.

And strangers reminded her of the faceless crowds that came to watch her perform.

Crowds didn’t care about what she was going through, they just wanted entertainment. And so, Lapis thought she could live her life pretending. It was all she’d ever done anyway, so it couldn’t be that hard, right? Hide her past, pretend she wasn’t afraid, pretend she was a chill, cool smoker girl you find in bars in the middle of the night. Someone who kisses you and then leaves you wanting more. She could play the relationship game – she had Jasper when things went wrong.

Not having this sort of safety net anymore was like falling into the deep abyss.

Damn, she was right. Lapis was addicted to Jasper.

“Pathetic…” She brought the cigarette back to her mouth.

It was ridiculous, truly – how much she needed good, positive people in her life, but still rejected them when push came to shove. Lapis felt like a burden to herself and others, and people would be better off without that kind of trouble in their lives. Steven and Peridot were too bright for someone like her to get close without tainting.

And the worst part was that she knew Peridot and Steven didn’t care for any of that self-pity bullshit. She knew they would be there for her regardless, because they truly cared. So why couldn’t she rely on them? Why couldn’t she allow herself to be selfish with them for a single moment? She knew the answer, too.

You don’t want to disappoint mother, do you?

Lapis wondered for the millionth time if she would ever be able to truly live.

She looked up at the bridge above of her head, which was protecting her from the gentle drops of rain that were starting to fall, and inhaled the last of her cigarette deeply.

“Shit, fuck.” She breathed out along with the smoke.

A sudden rustling of grass by her side made Lapis turn her neck to check on the goddamn person invading her private place. All that she wanted was some peace and quiet to drown in her own misery, was that too much to ask?

“Oh, where did this rain come from?” The woman was tall and very slender, and she giggled at her own sentence. “I’m lucky I was near the bridge!”

Lapis tried to give her a smile, but gave up midway and just looked back to the horizon. If she ignored her, the woman would probably leave.

“I swear, this city’s weather is crazier than my old home town’s. And here I was thinking that this wasn’t possible!” She dusted off her shirt and jeans and checked for any soaked spots. Finding none, she sat down next to Lapis with a content sigh. “Mind if I sit here until the rain goes away?”

Yes, I do. “Suit yourself.”

“Thank you.” The two of them kept in silence then, and it was awkward. Lapis put out her cigarette and sighed loudly, hoping that this person would take a hint and at least move to sit down far away from her. The bridge was huge, did she really need to sit on that one freaking spot?

“Such a pretty sunset.” She spoke again and Lapis screamed internally.

“Hm.”

“It’s rare that I get to see a sunset like tha—” She stopped and jumped slightly on her seat. “Oh! Look at that, a rainbow.”

Lapis had been so caught up in her thoughts that she hadn’t even noticed the beautiful rainbow forming right in front of her eyes. This distracted her for a brief period of time; she was genuinely surprised. “…You’re right.”

“They’re such a magical sight, don’t you think?” The woman stared at her with a warm smile and for the first time Lapis felt that it would be rude not to reply.

“Yes.”

“I’m Pearl, by the way.”

“Lapis.” She didn’t know what pushed her to say it, seeing as she didn’t want to start an actual conversation right now.

“Nice to meet you.” Pearl smiled in her direction once more and turned to pay attention to the rainbow. Lapis thought she was going to say something else, but nothing came. The silence wasn’t as heavy as before, however, and she felt like she could tolerate this woman’s presence for a little longer. If anything, this was distracting her from listening to Peridot’s voice mail again.

Pearl then started searching for something in a bag she’d been carrying and grabbed a can of orange juice. Then she grabbed another and offered it to Lapis, who only stared at it confused.

“I’m okay.”

“Please, I insist. I feel like I disturbed you,” Pearl looked apologetic, but didn’t back down. With not much choice in the matter, Lapis grabbed the juice and opened it (she was starting to feel a little hungry).

“…Thank you.”

Both drank the beverage in peace, and for some weird reason, sharing a juice under the bridge with a stranger was one of those experiences that made Lapis’ mind calm down a tiny little bit. It was the same sensation she had felt way back when Steven first found her and took her to Greg’s van, and they shared stories in the middle of the night. It was funny, how even through her lowest times, little moments like these were still dear to her.

“I know I’m meddling, but…” Pearl suddenly spoke again. “Are you alright?”

Lapis didn’t answer for a while and sipped her juice, contemplating the vantages and disadvantages of starting a conversation with this woman. In the end, she decided that she was too tired to put up a façade.

“Not really.” She said neutrally.

Pearl visibly swallowed hard and opened her mouth once, then twice, trying to think of something to say. Lapis noticed that and breathed out a very weak chuckle. “Don’t worry about it. Thank you for asking, though.”

“O-of course.” Pearl looked down at her can and wriggled her toes. A few minutes passed, then she talked once more. “I’m… I was in a similar position once, that’s why I asked. A woman I’ve never seen before walked up to me and asked me if I was fine that time. It really helped me, so I thought…” She was blushing now, and giggled nervously. “It’s… r-really none of my business, I’m not good with these things like she was. I apologize.”

The whole confession caught Lapis off guard and she didn’t really know how to respond to that. This was an act of kindness that she rarely witnessed, so she was hardly used to something like that. Drinking a bit more of her juice, Lapis finally turned her head to fully look at Pearl. The woman was beautiful; her pink undercut hair fit her lean face spectacularly, and the wing tattoos on her back and arms were very attention-catching. She looked like an angel.

Lapis moved her gaze back to the can, taking it all in. She’d never believed in signs, but she knew good things in her life were rare; so, she took the opportunity.

“Can you…” Lapis’ voice was very raspy and she cleared her throat. “Can you tell me about this woman?”

Pearl’s face lit up at the question. “Oh, are you sure?”

“It might take my mind off things a bit.”

Pearl’s hesitation completely vanished at that point and her smile was immediate. “Well, of course! Oh, where do I begin?”

Lapis almost smiled at that. She must have been a very good person in Pearl’s life.

“Well, her name was Rose. We met when I was way younger and confused about… well pretty much everything. I grew up in a very strict and religious family, you see.”

Judging by her looks, Lapis would never have guessed.

“One day when I was a teenager, I ran away in an act of rebellion. My parents were furious!” She giggled fondly at the memories. “But I had to get away from them for a while. I didn’t know exactly where I would go, so in the end I ended up at the beach in an isolated place. I was crying, too… I was so angry at them. Anyone who walked by could see how miserable I was, but none of them bothered to glance twice in my direction.”

The rain was apparently subduing, but the story had Lapis’ whole attention.

“Then… she came along.” Pearl’s eyes softened as she looked down. Her smile was warm and full of love, an expression that made Lapis’ heart ache. “At first I was hostile, but then I looked at her and my heart stopped. She was so… beautiful. The first thing she asked me was ‘Are you alright?’. Hearing that made me very emotional at the time. I guess I was just surprised someone cared.”

Pearl then stared at Lapis.

“It was obvious that I wasn’t, so I saw no point in lying. Then Rose just… sat down with me on the sand and started talking about pointless things, really. About how soft the sand felt in between her toes, pointing to cute dogs that were taking a stroll, breathing in the sea breeze and saying how much she loved living in a city surrounded by the ocean. At some point I started laughing, and she was so happy when I did.” Pearl tightened her grip on her juice can and smiled largely than before. “She said I had the most beautiful laugh and I swear I could see stars in her eyes.”

There was such emotion in Pearl’s voice as she talked about this woman that Lapis felt her eyes getting misty. She reminisced the feelings that stirred inside her whenever she thought about someone special to her, and felt her heart hurt more than ever. No heartbreak had made her chest compress like that – but thinking about Peridot’s smile certainly did.

“Rose saw so much beauty in everything,” Pearl continued with a content sigh. “Her positivity and kindness was something out of this world, really. You could give her the worst possible news, and she would still find a bright side to it somehow.”

Lapis nodded, thoughtlessly, then she frowned a bit; something about that sounded familiar somehow.

“She helped me so much through my life. Rose made me feel special, even though I knew I wasn’t the only one she helped on a daily basis.”

“Was she a therapist or something like that?” Lapis asked.

“No, she used to be a volunteer at an orphanage.”

Lapis froze.

“She taught kids and helped them smile. I always thought that this was such a noble thing to do…” Pearl continued ranting, but everything else was muffled out as a flood of memories suddenly came crashing down.

“You— you said her name was Rose?” Lapis asked stiffly.

“Huh? Oh, yes.”

“Rose… Quartz?”

This time Pearl was the one who went pale. “…That’s right. Did you… know her?”

After hearing that, five different emotions crossed Lapis’ face – first surprise, then disbelief, nostalgia, sadness, and at long last, tearful joy.

The cycle of hellish nightmare that was her life constantly followed her, coming back around every now and then, but so far everything that had ever chased her were the bad things.

Malachite came back through packages;

Jasper came back through sex;

And the circus came back through her inability of creating meaningful bonds with people. Lapis had always felt stuck in this loop of darkness.

But now, a good thing from her past suddenly reappeared.

Hearing Miss Quartz’s name again brought back all the happy memories she had from the orphanage. Her classes, the way Miss Quartz spoke softly and gently, that time she taught Lapis and the other kids the alphabet, the joyous days they spent in the orphanage’s garden catching bugs under the summer sun, Miss Quartz’s laughter and the way she asked the children to keep secret when she brought them cookies from the outside.

She had been so happy once.

And at that moment, Lapis realized she could go back to being happy again.

Malachite had poisoned her, but the only reason she felt this miserable was because she had felt completely safe and loved once. The orphanage had been a very short period in her life, but one that she remembered vividly. And now that it was gone, she found herself smiling at the realization that something else had been replacing all of these feelings of safety and love in the present day: Peridot and her friends.

Lapis finally realized why she felt so happy at the pub.

It reminded her of the orphanage.

And Jenny, Buck, Sour Cream and Amethyst, Sadie and Peridot – they were all the grown-up versions of Mr. Frowny and Mr. Smiley, Madame B.D. and Miss Quartz.

She felt the smile on her face before the wetness on her cheeks.

“Lapis?” Pearl’s voice sounded earthly, present, there. Lapis looked at her and sobbed through broken laughs.

“Thank you,” She managed despite the knot on her throat, and threw her arms around Pearl. “Thank you so much.”

Chapter Text

Garnet was a very observant person despite her quietness. From behind her sunglasses, she saw pretty much everything that happened around her without missing a single detail. And when you spent a lot of time with two people behind closed doors, you learned to pick up the tiniest shifts in the mood – a small sigh here, a sorrowful gaze there, a quiet smile, blushing cheeks, pounding hearts. Garnet liked to think she knew her coworkers better than anyone.

She also wished they weren’t so obvious with their feelings so she could pretend she had noticed something no one else had.

“Alright, what’s wrong.” Garnet put down her sandwich and asked, as soon as Amethyst sighed loudly for the fifth time in two minutes.

“Don’t worry about it…” Amethyst replied sluggishly, rolling an olive in her plate.

“I wouldn’t, if your face didn’t scream ‘I want to tell you the reason I’m upset.’”

“My face is not—”

“You are clearly off today.” Pearl commented, placing a piece of tofu in her mouth.

“And you don’t get to say anything, I’ve never seen you happier in my whole life.” Garnet turned around to her pink-haired partner with a deadpan expression.

“What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Pearl blushed and occupied her mouth with more food. Garnet rolled her eyes as the table remained quiet again, but she knew it wouldn’t last more than five seconds.

“Alright, my best friend is miserable.” Amethyst finally broke; two seconds it is. “Her crush slash love interest suddenly disappeared on her with no explanation whatsoever, she can’t reach her through messages or calls, she’s been worried sick for four days and I honestly just want to punch the girl in the face for doing this to her.” Then Amethyst paused. “Punch the crush, not my best friend.”

“Ok.” Garnet simply nodded, leaving space for the receptionist to say something else if she wanted.

“I mean, how can someone even do this??” And she did. “I get it that she was upset over some bullshit, but not even bothering to answer a text message?? My friend is not asking for much, you know, she just wants to know if the girl she loves is alive! Ugh, I thought she was better than that.”

More silence followed as the three finished lunch a tad awkwardly. Amethyst sighed again, finally eating her olive. “Sorry for the outburst.”

“I rather have you speak up than bottle things inside.” Garnet gave her a soft smile, which Ame appreciated. “I hope things turn out okay for your best friend.”

“Yeah… me too.” Then Amethyst looked sideways at Pearl. “Your turn.”

Pearl almost choked on the last of her vegan plate. “Huh?”

“Spill the beans, who’s the lucky gal who managed to put a smile on your face?”

“It’s nothing like that!” Pearl’s face reddened and she reached to grab a napkin. “It was just... a weird experience yesterday.”

“Kinky.”

“Be quiet,” Pearl slapped her arm and Amethyst laughed for the first time in days. “I just met this girl as I was hiding from the rain under the bridge.” Pearl looked at Garnet. “She knew Rose.”

Amethyst raised an eyebrow confused – she got even more confused when Garnet broke her stoic façade and sat up straight. She’d never seen the artist this shocked before.

“What did she say?” Garnet asked.

“Well, she seemed really sad, so I— I tried to cheer her up, you know, like Rose used to do. Of course, I was terrible at it.” Pearl chuckled a little, but there wasn’t any joy in it. Garnet leaned forward a little bit and placed her hand on top of Pearl’s for comfort, and Amethyst felt like she was intruding on a very private matter. “A-anyway, I told her that someone had tried to cheer me up a long time ago when I was sad like that, and she asked me to tell her about it. Then I told her about Rose.”

“And then?”

“At first she didn’t know that I was talking about that Rose. Then when I mentioned that Rose had worked at an orphanage, she immediately knew.” Pearl’s smile returned to her face as she reminisced the conversation yesterday. “Then… she hugged me and started crying. I didn’t know what to do, so I just hugged her back and waited until she recovered. And Garnet, she was smiling then. She told me Rose was her teacher.”

“No way.”

“I know! I couldn’t believe it either!” Pearl giggled. “She told me how happy ‘Miss Quartz’ used to make her when she was still living in the orphanage. It was so cute! We talked about Rose for a long time, until the rain was gone. Then she got up and thanked me again, saying that she was feeling much better. I feel like I made a difference in someone’s life for once.”

Garnet nodded with a smile and Amethyst couldn’t help but to grin too. Pearl seemed so happy, and she was happy for her. That’s when she remembered Pearl talking about a woman a few times, and even mentioning her at the job interview; so she had to ask.

“Um, is this Rose the person who inspired you to open this shop?”

The two artists looked at her surprised at the fact that she had caught that bit of info, but Garnet nodded. “That’s right.”

“And she used to be a teacher? Nice change of pace.” She joked, then flinched – this woman seemed to be very important to the both of them, maybe she should’ve been more careful with her words. “S-sorry, I don’t mean anything bad by it!”

“It’s alright,” Garnet reassured her. “You’re a member of The Temple, you have the right to know the history of this shop.” She gazed at Pearl and the pink-haired woman nodded. “Rose Quartz was… a very good friend of ours. I guess you could say she was a mentor of sorts. Pearl and I, we had some rough times in our lives when we were younger, and Rose helped us get past it and stay true to ourselves.”

“She had a philosophy: people are supposed to grow and change. It’s part of life, and if we turn out to be completely different from what we thought we were going to be, it’s fine. As long as you stay true to yourself and know that this path will make you happy, then you’ve got nothing to fear.” Pearl’s eyes looked distant and melancholic. “I mean, I was supposed to be a nun.”

Amethyst tried to stop herself but her chortle came way too fast. “What??”

“I know right,” She smirked. “That was the last thing I wanted to be, but I couldn’t see another future for myself. Rose came along when I needed the most, and helped me see that there was more to me.”

“She was one of those people who said ‘you can be anything you want to be’, but actually meant it.” Garnet smiled. “When Rose’s orphanage shut down, she felt a little lost herself. She was glad that all the kids had been adopted, at least, and then she told us she wanted to do something meaningful to people’s lives. Something permanent.”

“Tattoos.” Amethyst assumed, and the artists nodded.

“She loved painting and creating art, so she started studying on how to become a professional tattoo artist.” Pearl folded her napkin neatly and started getting up. “It was a contrast, she said. While we are supposed to grow and change, sometimes we need something permanent in our lives to ground us, and remind us of important things.”

Amethyst’s eyes were shining at their words. She’d always had problems with commitment, be it to a person or a place – that was why her jobs never lasted and one-night stands were her preferred relationship statuses – so hearing something like that was mind-boggling.

She liked to think that life was one big unknown adventure, and that routine was a myth, but Pearl’s words really resonated with her soul. She did need something permanent in her life, and now that she thought about, she had one: Peridot was the most stable relationship she’d ever had. There was nothing in the world that could make Amethyst leave her roommate, at least not in the foreseeable future, and she was really happy with how her life had been going.

It was funny, how she’d taken Peri for granted without even realizing it.

“Rose seems like an amazing person.” Amethyst said, with a genuine smile.

“She was.” Pearl replied. That’s when Ame realized they’d been referring to her in past tense this whole time.

“Oh… was?”

Garnet and Pearl exchanged looks. “Yes… Rose passed away fourteen years ago.”

Amethyst’s stomach dropped and sadness washed over her. She didn’t even know this woman, but the amazing things Pearl and Garnet talked about her were enough to give her an enormous sense of empathy. “Oh, I’m so sorry…”

“It’s quite alright,” Garnet put a hand on her shoulder. “Actually, that’s why we named the shop The Temple. It’s a temple to Rose and all her ideals.”

“That’s beautiful.” Ame shifted on her chair a little. “Can I ask what happened?”

She noticed Pearl had walked away to wash her dishes and wondered if Rose’s death affected her more than Garnet for some reason. “Well, at some point Rose fell in love with a man, and got pregnant. There were complications at the time of birth, however, and she didn’t resist.”

“Oh, man. Did the baby…?”

“The baby was born. He’s fourteen now, healthy, and with a soul as beautiful as his mother’s.” Garnet smiled despite the mournful mood and Amethyst felt a wave of relief.

“I’m glad!”

“Yes, Steven is a great kid.” Pearl came back to the table and stretched her muscles.

Amethyst halted at the name.

“Wait, did you just say Stev—” At the same time she spoke, an ambulance ran down the street, cutting her off.

“I really hope Lapis is feeling better, though. I was thinking about going back to the riverbank today to check if she’ll be there.” Pearl continued, not having listened the receptionist. “Anyway, lunch break is over! Let’s go back to work.”

There were so many things flashing through Amethyst’s brain at that moment that she was actually unable to move for a couple of seconds. As soon as Garnet and Pearl walked past the shop’s curtains to the lobby, she jumped off her seat and ran towards them, already grabbing her cellphone.

“Did you just say Lapis?!”


“Steven? I’m home.” Lapis walked in carefully, afraid of what his reaction would be, but there was no one in the house apparently. She made her way to the kitchen and grabbed a cup of water, sighing at the lack of response. Turning around, Lapis saw a note pinned on the fridge.

Dear Lapis,

I’m with my dad back at the warehouse. I’ll be back tonight to wait for you! If you’re back and I’m not here, please call my dad! Here is his phone number. I hope you’re okay. I miss you a lot!

- Steven Universe.

Her eyes got misty, but she rubbed them strongly. Lapis immediately grabbed her phone and dialed the number, but stopped before she could muster the courage to press ‘call’; she needed to call someone else, first, so she decided to send him a text message. She knew she should have come home yesterday after her talk with Pearl, but she still needed some more time on her own to clear her head and breathe freely. It was too heavy to think about how much she had hurt Steven and Peridot, so she’d decided to put that on hold for a little longer.

Now that she was back and renewed, she could deal with this.

As soon as the message was sent, she dialed Peridot’s number. It didn’t even ring once.

“Lapis??”

“Peridot…” She thought she could manage without tears, but by the time that squeaky voice hit her ears, she was a goner.

“Oh my stars, are you okay??”

“Y-yeah. Yes, I’m…” She hiccupped, trying to regain her composure. “I’m okay now. I’m—”

“Oh, I’m so glad…” She heard Peridot sobbing as well and her heart hurt. “I’m so glad! I was so worried, are you back home? Amethyst called me and— she told me her boss talked to you yesterday, so I… are you safe? I can come and get you if you w-want, just tell me where.”

“I’m home, d-don’t worry.” Lapis knew that asking her not to worry was useless, but it was an automatic response until she could see Peridot face to face. She was also too tired to register that Pearl was Amethyst’s boss; she just wanted to focus on Peridot right now. “Listen, I… I need to stay home today. For Steven. But I promise, I promise I’ll come see you tomorrow and explain everything. I’m so sorry, Peridot. I’m really, really sorry…”

“It’s okay!” Lapis couldn’t believe that it was this simple. “I’m just so relieved you’re safe… take your time, okay? I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll— I’ll always be waiting for you. I promise.”

Her lips were trembling and she couldn’t stop sobbing, but Lapis forced herself to keep talking for Peri’s sake. “Okay… thank you, I really mean it.” A sudden wave of exhaustion hit her and she just wanted to curl on the couch and take the longest nap of her life. “Listen, I’m going to sleep for a bit. I’ve been awake for a while, but I promise I’m okay.”

“Of course! Try to eat something first, if you haven’t. And drink water, too! I heard that chamomile tea helps, if you have any.” Peri rambled, still shaky, but extremely relieved at the same time. Lapis’ chest swelled with emotion – she’d been missing for four days and Peridot wasn’t even yelling at her. Instead, she was acting as kindly as ever, even more so, and this made Lapis smile through her long trail of tears. She flashed back to her conversation with Pearl, and breathed contently at how much Peridot truly reminded her of Miss Quartz.

“Thank you.” Lapis bit her lip and felt her heart race. “Peridot, I—”

“Yeah?”

No, she had to do this in person.

“Thank you for not giving up on me.” She settled for that,

“I could never,” Was all Peridot answered. “Sleep well.”

After bidding her goodbye, Lapis made herself a sandwich, making sure to eat the whole thing before going upstairs and collapsing on her bed. She saw her phone flashing as Steven answered her text message with a ‘I’m so happy you’re okay!!! Can I call you or should I wait?’, and told him she was going to take a nap.

Still bewildered with the thoughtfulness of her friends, Lapis fell into a deep, nightmare-less sleep for the first time in a long while. Her sheets felt like hugs, and she could feel herself being enveloped by love.

It was the softest, most amazing sensation.


The next day was a hazard of emotions. Lapis had slept all the way through morning, and when she woke up, she felt Steven’s little hand cradling hers as he sat on a chair next to her bed. She squeezed his hand and smiled through half-opened eyelids, and Steven woke up at the gesture, immediately tearing up. They hugged for a long while as Lapis whispered apologies, and Steven reassured her that she hadn’t done anything wrong.

Then he guided her downstairs where an amazing breakfast was waiting for her, and she ate with a content sigh at the taste of pancakes and her usual morning coffee. That house had never felt like home, but right now, Steven had made it feel like one. The boy cracked a few jokes here and there, and never pushed her for explanations, which Lapis was glad for. She told him that she would open up in time and explain everything that happened, and Steven nodded with a smile.

“I’m just glad you’re home.” He told her as she ate, and Lapis blushed happily.

“Me too.”

Once she was done eating, Lapis took a long, warm bath, and brushed her teeth. The water running through her limbs had never felt so good, and she scratched her scalp slowly and calmly. It was like she was taking care of her body for the first time, handling it gently and caressing each and every muscle, scar and tissue. With every gesture, she could hear Miss Quartz’s and Peridot’s gentle voice, telling her how much they loved her for who she was, and how much potential she still had. Life had limitless possibilities, and Lapis intended to seize every one of them from now on, side by side with the people who made her feel loved.

She put on a white top and her usual comfortable jeans, and looked at herself in the mirror. The bags under her eyes would take a while to go away, but aside from that, she felt refreshed and generally renewed. It was like she had been reborn, lighter than ever. She smiled at herself and nodded confidently, then went downstairs.

“Steven, I’m going out. There’s someone I need to talk to. I’ll be back for dinner, would you wait for me?”

“Of course!” The boy was watching a cartoon and waved. “Have a safe trip.”

Lapis waved back and stopped before opening the door. She turned around and hesitated for a bit before bending down and placing a kiss on his forehead. The blush spread through her face in seconds – showing affection so blatantly like this was extremely awkward still, but she decided to change this part of her, starting today. “Thank you for the breakfast.”

Steven’s eyes widened, but Lapis left before he could say anything. So he just smiled and grabbed a pillow to hug.


The train ride was a little bumpy, but at least it wasn’t crowded. At that time in the afternoon, people were usually working, so the only passengers were her and some elders with their grandkids. Lapis’ heart was beating strongly against her chest as the station approached, and it seemed to take an eternity for her train to stop. Finally, the machine opened its doors, and she was out, walking in quick steps towards Peridot’s house.

The apartment was really close to the station, so at the pace she was going at, it didn’t take ten minutes for her to get there. Lapis felt herself shaking with each step now, and climbing the stairs was nerve-wrecking.

She was now almost there.

Peridot was almost within her reach.

Just a few more steps.

Now the door was in front of her. Lapis took a deep breath, held it in for five seconds, and exhaled. Then she knocked three times.

Nothing happened for a while, the silence crushing her. She could’ve sworn her senses were heightened, because every little crack of wood was making the loudest of sounds.

Then she heard steps running across the hallway.

Someone stumbling on the carpet.

Finally, unlocking the door.

And then she saw her. Bed head, alien PJ’s, glasses crooked on her nose, messy, sleepy, beautiful.

A knot formed on her throat in an instant.

“Perid—” Lapis tried to finish talking but the impact of the tightest hug she’d ever felt interrupted her. Suddenly, she was enveloped by tiny arms around her neck and small hiccups against her chest, and nothing in the world mattered but this girl in front of her. Lapis hugged her back, burying her nose on Peridot’s hair and breathing in her scent.

It smelled like home.

They stood there in the corridor for god knows how long, but neither of them wanted to risk pulling away – the fear that the other would disappear if they did was constant. Eventually, they had to move, and Peri was the first one to look up through her teary eyes and pull Lapis into the apartment with a bright smile. As soon as the door closed again, Lapis leaned her back against the wall and pulled the bartender into another hug.

“I missed you so much,” She mumbled against her hair, trembling, but smiling. Peridot could only nod. “I’m so sorry for disappearing like that.”

“You’re here,” The blonde said at last. “It’s okay.”

More time passed and Lapis pushed her away gently, so she could look at her in the eyes. And as soon as their gazes met, she was sure.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Lapis’ hands cradled Peridot’s cheeks and the bartender seemed hypnotized. “Can I kiss you?”

Her answer was lips crashing against hers, soft and familiar. The kiss was slow and full of emotion and hope – for the future, and for herself. It was a little wet, too, since the both of them were crying, but at least this time they were happy tears. They broke off, and Lapis rested her forehead against Peridot’s with a smile and closed eyes.

“I missed that, too.” Peri breathed in a chuckle and Lapis nodded. “What did you want to tell—”

“I love you.”

Time seemed to freeze, and Peridot was sure that she was at the risk of dehydration solely by how many tears leaked through her eyes at that exact moment. In the end, all that she could manage was a weak, dumb “…You do?”

And Lapis nodded fiercely, laughing and trying to clean Peri’s wet cheeks with her thumbs. “I really, really do.”

Chapter Text

The door lock turned and Amethyst practically barged into the apartment, huffing and moving her gaze until she caught a glimpse of who she was looking for. The blue of her hair was unmistakable, and relief washed over Ame for a moment as she walked over to where Lapis was snuggled with Peridot on the couch.

“Amethyst…” Lapis started to untangle herself from the bartender when a sudden force hit her cheek hard, burning through the skin.

“Amethyst!” Peridot grabbed Lapis by the shoulders as she fell back down. “What the hell?!”

“This is for the absolute shit you made Peri go through,” Amethyst spit after the slap, then took a deep breath and threw her arms around the blue-haired girl with a cracked voice. “And this is for coming back.”

It took her a second to regain her senses, but when she did, Lapis returned the hug, burying her head in Amethyst’s shoulder. “I deserved it.”

“You bet your ass you deserved it.”

“That was unnecessary!” Peridot’s heart was still threatening to jump right out of her chest – she remembered Amethyst’s promise to punch the next idiot who broke her heart, but she didn’t think she’d actually go through with it. At least it was just a slap (which still echoed loudly through the room).

“Nah, she’s right. I need to get my shit back together,” Lapis leaned back with a smile and Peri couldn’t help but to brush her thumb gently against the reddened cheek.

“I’ll get you some ice for that,” The bartender got up and shot a deadly stare in Amethyst’s direction as she walked past her. Lapis shrunk back into the couch and looked at her apologetically.

“She’s mad.”

“She’ll get over it,” Amethyst rolled her eyes playfully, then became serious again. “How are you doing?”

“Better.” Lapis wouldn’t say she was okay because she wasn’t quite there yet; it was a process, she realized. Healing took time, but she would get there eventually. She was just happy none of Peridot’s friends seemed to hate her for disappearing – if anything, they had been sending her text messages nonstop filled with love. Lapis couldn’t wait to hug Sadie, Jenny, Buck and Sour Cream back at the pub. “I’m really sorry for everything.”

“I know you are,” Ame just looked at her neutrally, then cracked a lazy grin and nudged her shoulder. “At least you came back.”

Lapis was glad for the answer. She didn’t want someone telling her that everything was okay and she shouldn’t apologize, because she knew she had screwed up. She really cherished Amethyst’s friendship because the girl was realistic and painfully honest – just because Lapis had been in a really rough place, it didn’t excuse her shitty behavior towards the people she loved.

“Here.” Peridot returned with a bag of ice and Lapis placed it gently against her skin.

“Thank you.”

They both smiled and blushed, averting their gaze at the same time, and Amethyst obviously caught on that. She squinted her eyes and analyzed the two dorks for a long quiet moment, and then widened her eyes. “Are you two dating?!”

“What?” Both sputtered at the same time, faces getting even hotter.

“Oh my god, you are!” Amethyst pointed at them and jumped up and down like a kid. “You’re acting all shy and cute and gross around each other, that means you’re a thing!”

“No we’re not!” Peridot replied, but then felt the immediate need to fix the sentence. “Acting like that, I m-mean.”

“Oh, so you don’t deny you’re dating.”

Peri stood quiet again and looked up at Lapis’ face, who smiled embarrassingly. “We might be?”

Might?” Amethyst wasn’t having it, and crossed her arms impatiently.

Lapis knew that the girl was the leader of the Peridot Defense Squad – as the pulsating pain on her cheek demonstrated – so being ambiguous and vague about her feelings around Amethyst wasn’t going to cut it. Besides, Lapis was tired of hiding that part of her, so she nodded to herself and looked at Amethyst in the eyes.

“I love her,” Lapis said with no tremors or doubts in her voice whatsoever, and Ame blinked, pleasantly surprised. “And I told her. We just… didn’t discuss anything further.” Then she turned to stare at Peridot. “But if… if you want to, we could. I mean… date.”

Peri’s eyes shone with a familiar gleam and Amethyst just brought her hands to her mouth, shifting her attention from one to another, like she was watching a dramatic scene in a soap opera.

“Like… girlfriends?” Peri asked meekly, and it was so cute that Lapis had to restrain herself from yelling to the skies how much she loved this girl.

“Yeah,” She bit her lip in a smile and put the bag of ice down to grab Peri’s hand. “Peridot, would you… be my girlfriend?”

Despite having shed more tears in a day than in the past year probably, Peridot’s eyes filled with water once again. She wiped them off quickly and nodded fiercely, squeezing Lapis’ hand on hers and practically jumping on the girl for a hug. “Yes!”

They laughed together with happy hearts and Amethyst quietly whispered ‘kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss!’ from behind. Lapis didn’t want to disappoint the girl who had smacked her in the face, so she pulled her new girlfriend for a long, passionate kiss that lasted longer than any other. They kissed for a long, long time lazily and Amethyst decided to get up and give them a moment.

Then she suddenly remembered the reason she had come home so exasperatedly in the first place – other than to hit and hug the shit out of Lapis – and sat back down.

“Um, guys, sorry to interrupt.” She placed a hand on Peridot’s shoulder making her turn around. “But can we talk for a sec?”

Peridot knew when her best friend was serious and sat back up, holding Lapis’ hand for comfort. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, uh. It’s just something Pearl told me back at the parlor, and it’s been bugging me because I think we might have lots of friends in common, Lapz.”

“Wait, Pearl?” She hunched forward. “Tall, pink undercut, tattoos?”

“Yeah, she’s my boss. She’s the one who told me about your whereabouts,” Amethyst shifted hesitantly on her chair. “And about Rose, too.”

A cold feeling went down Lapis’ spine and she squeezed Peridot’s hand. She was going to tell them about that eventually, since her conversation with Pearl was what prompted her to go back and talk to people instead of running away from her problems, but hearing it come from someone else was terrifying to say the least. The realization that Pearl probably told Amethyst that Lapis was an orphan was enough to bring a thousand questions to her mind. Lapis wanted to share her past with Amethyst at some point as well, but bit by bit, and at her own pace; she didn’t know what the girl would think about her after that. The fear of rejection was always there at the back of her head.

“Before you freak, she only told me that Rose was your teacher.” Ame continued, very familiar with the way people flinched around a sensitive subject – Peridot was like that, after all. “I’m sure you and Pearl talked about her a lot already, but I just want to make sure you know one thing.”

“Rose?” Peri asked, confused with all of that.

“Miss Quartz,” Lapis explained in a low voice. “My favorite teacher back at the orphanage.”

“Oh.”

“What is it?” Lapis asked Amethyst, anxiously.

“You… do know she had a son, right?” Ame needed to be careful with her words, which was a bit hard for someone like her.

“Yeah, Pearl told me… that Rose passed away a long time ago.” She remembered feeling a bit hopeless at the news back at the riverbank, but she knew Miss Quartz had led a wonderful and fulfilling life. All that Pearl had told her was that Rose had left a beautiful son into the world before dying, but nothing else after that. “What about him?”

“Lapis, Peridot told me you live with a little boy named Steven.” Amethyst looked at her intently.

“Yes…?” She frowned, then straightened her back. “Wait. You don’t—”

“Steven is Rose’s son, Lapis.”

The silence was deadly and Peridot looked at Lapis as the girl gaped. There were so many things in her life that were unfair and absurd, but now something had finally fit into the picture. Steven’s good nature and optimism had always reminded her of a long-forgotten kindness, but Lapis could never put a finger on why. The boy had saved her from a very bad situation, just like Pearl recalled Rose saving her, and it just made so much sense that he did.

She remembered Pearl’s words.

“The first thing she asked me was ‘Are you alright?’ Hearing that made me very emotional at the time. I guess I was just surprised someone cared.”

Very slowly, Lapis cracked a smile and felt a small tear rolling down her cheek. “Of course,” She looked up at the ceiling and sighed happily. “Of course he is.”

Peridot was still lost, but glad that whatever had happened, had put such a beautiful and soft expression on Lapis’ face. She hugged her sideways and rested her head on Lapis’ shoulder, kissing the skin there briefly.

“Also, I know his dad,” Amethyst apparently was full of surprises that day. She turned her gaze to Peri. “Remember the guy who fixed your Vespa so you could take your girlfriend on that first date?”

“Greg?!” Peridot almost yelled.

“Yep,” Amethyst smiled at the couple. “I guess you could say the Universe worked in your favor! Well, the Universes. Wait, the Quartz-Universes? Whatever.”

Lapis laughed with a sniffle and looked down, stealing a kiss from the girl she loved. She couldn’t believe a mother, a father and a son had all at some point helped Lapis and Peridot to live, meet and fall in love with each other.

The Universe truly worked in mysterious ways.


“Two-hundred!” Jasper grunted as she brought her face near the floor and pushed her weight back up with her arms. “Two-hundred and one!” She did it again, sweat dripping from her forehead. “Two-hundred and two!”

“That’s enough, man.” Bismuth frowned disapprovingly at her from her chair, but her teammate didn’t seem to listen.

“Two-hundred… and three!”

“You’ll fuck up your arms, Jasper.”

“Two-hundred… and… f-four!”

“Quit it!” Bismuth got up and kneeled close to her. “Hey, don’t ignore me!”

“Two…two-hundred…and…” Jasper’s muscles finally gave out and she collapsed face-first on the gym’s floor. Her massive chest moved up and down as she caught her breath and heaved, trying to fill her lungs with more oxygen than possible. “F-five…”

Bismuth just placed a bottle of water next to her and shook her head. “You’re messed up.”

“Tell me something… I don’t know…” Jasper coughed and made her best effort to get up, but failed. Her arms were throbbing with pain, so she rolled on her back and sighed loudly.

“Why are you doing this?” Bismuth asked with a mad expression. Jasper didn’t answer for a bit and just focused on readjusting her breathing. After a few moments, she closed her eyes and swallowed hard.

“Rugby is all I have. I need to get better.”

“Being a good athlete doesn’t mean pure muscle, you idiot.”

“I know,” She opened her eyes again and squinted at the ceiling. “I know that.”

“Your mental health comes first, Jasper. And you’re obviously upset about something, ever since that girl pulled you into the bathroom at the pub.” Bismuth didn’t want to bring this up since her partner had made it clear that she didn’t want to hear about it ever again, but she needed to push her limits. Bismuth knew that that was how Jasper worked; they’ve been through a lot of things together and they knew each other’s mannerisms like the back of their hands.

“Don’t.” Was all Jasper said with a piercing glare.

“Don’t tell me to shut up about this. I’m worried about you.”

“Then leave me alone,” Jasper grunted again and finally managed to get up. “I don’t know why you bother.”

“You don’t know— wow, fuck you, Jasper!” Bismuth was angry now, and got up to come face to face with her teammate. “Six years. We’ve been friends for six years, and suddenly you get in a mood and tell me to fuck off? Well, you can fuck off because I’m not about to leave your miserable ass like this. So you either get rid of me by force, or you suck it up and let me help you, you little shit!”

Jasper would have laughed at the absurdity of the words if they hadn’t hit her like a train. Pushing people away by force was her specialty – as her tattoo proved – and she absolutely would do it to Bismuth too if she didn’t drop it. Jasper rather hurt herself a thousand times over than put anyone she cared about through pain, and she didn’t mind the loneliness; it was a familiar feeling already.

“I’m going home,” She finally spoke, walking past Bismuth and roughly bumping shoulders with her. Bismuth turned to grab her wrist, but Jasper easily broke free from her grasp; despite being as tall as her, no one in the team could compare to Jasper in terms of strength – the girl was just in a whole other level. “I’m serious, Bis. Thank you for worrying, but let this go.”

And then she exited the gym, leaving a very frustrated and sad Bismuth behind.

The walk back home went by silently, since she had broken her phone a few days ago right after leaving the pub, so she couldn’t walk listening to her songs anymore. Honestly, the silence was the worst thing and one of the biggest reasons she had been so unstable the past days – she absolutely hated being all alone with her thoughts. Once Jasper got home she would turn the TV and calm down a little bit, but in the meantime, she would have to focus on the tempestuous thoughts in her mind that were quite honestly driving her crazy.

The conversation she’d had with Lapis played in a loop constantly in her mind. She wished she’d been drunker than she previously thought. That way, she wouldn’t have to remember vividly every single detail – from Lapis’ expression to her words, to her yells, to her sarcastic laughs, to the way Jasper told her she’d loved her, to the way Lapis replied she was sick for feeling like that, to her freckles. Everything Jasper had told her had been true, except for the part where she omitted the fact that she still loved her. Not romantically anymore, but as someone who had always been there and shared everything with her.

As an important person who was the closest thing to family she’d ever had.

As a sister, of sorts.

But she hated being called that, so Jasper pretended she didn’t love her that way.

Jasper’s eyes were so unfocused that she almost passed her building. Upon entering the elevator, she looked at herself in the mirror and down at the blue flames; it was the first thing her eyes focused on, always. Sometimes she wished she could erase that in any way possible, be it by tearing off the skin, or just ripping off her whole arm, but then the memory of how much pain the burn had felt years ago came back to her strongly as ever, and she shut this idea down.

Jasper tried to convince herself that it had been for a good cause, but now that she managed to push Lapis away, she wasn’t so sure that permanently inking her skin was a good idea.

“I really am a fucking idiot,” She snickered under her breath and exited the elevator. She barely managed the first step out when she saw the box. Jasper frowned, kneeling, and picking up the delivery, which was a lot lighter than the previous ones.

Weird, she thought. The Witch had sent her the last box three days ago, they never came in such short intervals. She opened her door and walked into her apartment before doing anything else, then she dropped the box on the kitchen table and decided to take a well-deserving bath before dealing with that. The TV was already on, so she made her way to the bathroom and took her time there, washing away the rough day and trying to calm down her heartbeat. It was impossible, though – the box was making her anxious.

With a sigh, Jasper came out of the shower and walked back to the kitchen, tearing off the box with her bare hands and picking up the things inside. Her usual shampoo, a new set of training gloves and… that was it. Under it all, there was a letter and Jasper swallowed nervously. It was the first letter she’d sent in years, and Jasper thought she’d be ready for it when it happened, but her hands were shaking absurdly.

A million thoughts crossed her mind in a second as she opened it.

After her eyes scanned the contents of the letter, Jasper’s legs gave out and she dropped the box. She stood frozen in time, unmoving, hardly even breathing, and the sound of the TV was muffled in the background. It was like she had entered an alternate reality and nothing was consistent anymore; Jasper felt her whole life slipping away through her fingers like sand, and she couldn’t do anything to catch it, to feel it solidly again.

In a heartbeat, she got up and dialed a number from the phone in the kitchen counter. Everything that had happened recently looked like a distant memory; her legs were shaking and she fought to stand up, biting the back of her hand.

Then the person picked up at the other side of the line.

“Lapis.” Her voice was cracked.

“Jasper? Are you serio—”

“She’s dying.”

There was a pause that lasted years, millions and millions of torturous years. Galaxies were formed in the meantime, races extinct and civilizations rose and fell, and Jasper was sure she could see all of it in front of her eyes as she waited for an answer.

“…I’m coming.”

And she hung up.

Chapter Text

“Mother, I scratched my knee…” Lapis’ tiny voice was almost tearful, but she fought hard to hold back a sob as she limped towards the older woman.

“Oh, my poor child!” Malachite scooped her up and assessed the damage. “It’s bleeding, too. But it’s nothing serious. Mother will take care of it.” She put the girl down and searched her purse, emerging with a band-aid not long after. “Come here.”

Lapis sat down and patiently waited as her mother attached it to the raw skin. “There, all new.”

“Thank you, mother.” Lapis’ smiled, rubbing one eye.

“I can’t wait for you to start your classes soon,” Malachite’s eyes were shining. “You’ll never fall clumsily like this again.”

“Really?” Lapis sounded shocked at the information and jumped up and down. “I can’t wait to start it either!”

“Good girl.”


She knew she shouldn’t bolt right away after Jasper’s call, but something buried deep inside of her made Lapis’ first instinct be to run over to Jasper’s house and talk to her face to face clearly. It was like the last three days had never happened – a single sentence made her flash back to the past and suddenly Lapis was running back to Jasper like a boomerang. It wasn’t her fault, she knew; her trauma was far too entrenched to simply vanish like that. Deep down into their cores, Lapis and Jasper knew that there was one place they would return to eventually, and Lapis wasn’t surprised that this remained true to this day.

“Wow, stop right there.” Amethyst blocked her way to the door and Lapis almost stumbled over the short girl.

“Please, move.” She couldn’t bring herself to look at her in the eyes, let alone turn around to face Peridot – she knew her expression would break her.

“You just came back.”

“I know! Look—” Lapis took her phone out of her pocket. “I’m not going to disappear, I swear. You can call me, I’ll answer you, I just have to go—”

“To Jasper?” Peridot spoke from behind her and Lapis flinched. Her tone wasn’t exactly sad or disappointed, but Lapis couldn’t help but to feel defeated anyway. “She called you, right? What happened?”

“…I promise I’ll be back,” Lapis tried again, stepping forward, but Amethyst wasn’t having it.

“Okay, before you go do something for me.” Amethyst placed a hand on her shoulder to root her in place. “Close your eyes.”

“Amethyst I really need—”

“Close your goddamn eyes if you don’t want a second smack in the face.”

Lapis huffed heavily, but did as she was told.

“Good, now breathe in slowly and count to three.”

She did, one foot tapping nervously on the floor.

“Now exhale… good. Now, tell me your name.”

“What—”

“Just do it. Keep your eyes closed.”

“…Lapis.”

“Your full name.”

Lapis bit her lip and her voice came out shaky. “…Lapis Lazuli.”

“Who are you?”

“Lapis Lazuli.” She repeated, with more conviction.

“And who am I?”

“Amethyst.”

“And where are you right now?”

“Peridot’s house.”

“Good. Now breathe one more time, count to three, and exhale.”

Lapis felt her lungs being filled, and then emptied.

“Open your eyes.”

She did, and Amethyst’s body suddenly stopped shaking so much. No, that wasn’t it; Lapis was the one who had stopped shaking. It was like the world had fallen into a calm flow again and she could think rationally for a moment.

“Feeling better?” Amethyst asked.

“Y-yeah… how did you…?”

“I live with a pile of nerves, you get used to calm people down after years of breakdowns,” Ame winked at Peridot, who couldn’t suppress a small chuckle. She knew Amethyst hadn’t meant anything bad by it, it was just the truth; Peridot’s anxiety was pretty bad, and she was glad to have her best friend around to ground her and ease her mind when possible.

“Thank you,” Lapis mumbled, still fidgety. “Can I please go?”

“Sure,” Ame moved and grabbed her phone from the table. “But we’re coming with you.”

What?

“I’m not letting you out of our sight, not when you’re clearly upset and not thinking straight.” And with that, Ame walked out the door. “So, do we take the train, or?”

Lapis stood rooted in place, still processing everything, when she felt Peridot grabbing her hand. The bartender’s touch alone was enough to send chills up her arm, and she finally turned to look at her girlfriend in the eyes.

“Let us help you this time.” Was all that she said, and Lapis frowned in a struggle. She knew she should accept help, but whatever had happened to Malachite was terrifying to her. She wanted to sort this out with Jasper alone, since that was how it had always been – suddenly pulling more people into this mess was unprecedented, and it made Lapis extremely uncomfortable. She was getting used to this, to opening up.

But maybe, all she really needed was a push in the right direction.

Lapis finally let out a shaky sigh and nodded, hesitantly.

“…Okay.”

“Good, let’s go.” Ame smiled and the three of them walked out of the building in hurried steps.

“It’s 20 minutes by train,” Lapis explained as she gripped Peridot’s hand. The bartender gently rubbed her thumb against the back of Lapis’ hand for comfort, which she appreciated. “When we get there, we can walk to Jasper’s home. It’s not far.”

“Gotcha.”

The train didn’t take long to arrive, but for Lapis it seemed like hours. She should have pressed Jasper for details instead of stupidly hanging up, but what was done was done. Besides, Lapis had a feeling that whatever had prompted Jasper to give her the news wasn’t good; she wanted to be by her side for support.

It was funny, how even after their argument, Lapis still cared for Jasper on a deep level that she hadn’t even realized.

“Can I ask you what happened?” Peridot’s voice brought her back to reality. Their seats were bumpy because of the ride, and the noise of the wheels sliding on the rails was loud and numbing. Now that she thought about it, Lapis felt a whole lot better with Peridot and Amethyst by her side; she definitely didn’t want to be alone with her thoughts right now.

It took her a moment, but she finally spoke. “Jasper said that Malachite is dying.”

Peridot widened her eyes and squeezed her hand. “Oh… I’m… sorry?” She didn’t really know how to react when it came to Lapis’ adoptive mother. She looked like such a horrible person, but she was still the one who raised her. “I-I don’t mean that this is a good thing, o-or a bad thing! Wait, no, that sounds worse…”

“It’s okay,” Lapis replied, still looking outside. “I’m… not sure how to react myself.”

“Uh… who’s Malachite?” Amethyst asked, completely out of the loop.

Lapis turned to her surprised, then back to Peridot. “You didn’t tell her?”

“Of course not,” Peri tilted her head and frowned. “It’s something so personal to you, I didn’t tell anyone.”

A wave of appreciation and love washed over Lapis and she managed to smile softly. “Thank you.”

“Okay, bad topic. Got it.” Amethyst sounded a bit hurt, but she understood. Some things were better left unsaid, even if they were about to dive deep into whatever matter was plaguing Lapis right now.

“No, it’s just… it’s a lot for one train ride.” Lapis wanted to tell Amethyst as well, but she didn’t know how to summarize it. It was impossible to put down her entire trauma and life story in simple words – it felt depreciating.

“Well… can I at least know who Malachite is? And this Jasper, too, for that matter.”

It suddenly hit Lapis that Amethyst was willing to fling herself into the unknow for the sake of not letting her get hurt, and she felt like she could cry; she was so not used to so much selflessness in a week. She took a moment to follow Ame’s instructions from earlier and close her eyes to breathe and situate herself before speaking. “Malachite is… my adoptive mother. Jasper was adopted with me. We’re technically her daughters.”

“Oh.” Was all Ame had to say.

“Yeah, she… we didn’t have a really good childhood. I wouldn’t call Malachite a loving mother. I can’t even call Jasper my sister, either.”

“Are you… on bad terms with Jasper?”

“No, we—” Lapis sighed. “We had a fight at the pub a few days ago. That’s why… that’s why I ran away. There were so many things in my head, things Jasper said, and it was too much to bear. I had to be alone for a while. I know I hurt people by isolating myself like that.” She sneaked a glance at the two girls. “I’m really sorry.”

“Hey, we understand, it’s okay.” Peridot smiled reassuringly and placed her head on Lapis’ shoulder. Lapis in return kissed the top of her head, feeling a little bit lighter at the confession.

“Jasper said that we had to stop seeing each other and I panicked,” Lapis continued, still resting against Peridot. “For years she was the only one who I could count on, because we’ve been through the same horrible things together. So when she said that, I just… felt really lost and alone.” She quickly reiterated. “I know I could have called one of you, or even Jenny and the others, but I didn’t want to… I didn’t want to burden anyone with my problems.”

“You know we’re not angry at you,” Amethyst bumped her shoulder playfully. “Even though that slap might’ve said otherwise.”

Lapis chuckled quietly at that. “It’s how you show you care, right?”

“Damn right!”

“What about Jasper?” Peridot asked. “Is she… okay?”

“I don’ think so,” Lapis’ expression turned serious again. “We’ve always had this policy between us. Whenever we’re together we don’t bring up other people, and when we’re with other people, we don’t bring up each other. It’s easier that way. Makes us feel safe, somehow. Like… we only exist in a bubble, separately from the outside world. In the bubble, we can talk about our nightmares and problems and feel as bad as we want. Outside the bubble, we laugh and smile with whoever comes our way.”

Peridot nodded, understanding very well how that felt. Every day was a struggle to put up a front and pretend she was a normal functioning human being, even though her anxieties and mannerisms often leaked through. She was constantly on edge, not knowing if she was acting normally, or if she was being weird without noticing. With Amethyst and her friends, however, she felt safe, and could relax and speak like herself.

“I don’t know if Jasper has other friends, like I do.” Lapis knew she had her team, but she had no idea how they acted around each other. “I’m worried she doesn’t really have anyone to help her out like you’re doing right now with me.”

“Well, now she does.” Amethyst said simply, and if she wasn’t so dead serious about it, Lapis would’ve laughed. “We’ll help her, too. And anyone else who needs it. Do you have any other adoptive siblings we should know about?”

“Have you ever heard of a thing called ‘sensibility’?” Peridot was this close to punching her best friend for her lack of tact.

“I’m serious! We’ll be like those superheroes, but for real. Oh, can I pick my hero name?”

“I swear to God.”

“I’ll be Ame-Rex, you can be The Peridactyl.”

“How are these friendly names?!”

“Who said they needed to be friendly?”

“If we’re going to help people with their problems, we should have soothing, friendly names!”

“Oh my God, you’re taking this seriously.”

“Wha— S-shut up!”

Amethyst and Peridot’s banter went on and on until the train stopped and Lapis couldn’t help but to laugh at their antics. It was such a random comical sight in the middle of her chaos that she genuinely forgot about Malachite for a moment. She didn’t know anyone could even accomplish that, and when they got off the train station, Lapis’ heart was beating fast for some reason. The more time she spent with Peridot and Amethyst, the more it became clear what that feeling in her chest was.

She wondered if this is what a real family felt like.


“Has anyone ever told you how beautiful your hair is, darling?” Malachite’s voice was low and soothing in the dim lights of her room, and she hummed contently as she combed Jasper’s hair delicately.

“Not really… some kids at the orphanage used to make fun of it.” Jasper replied, focused on the drawing in front of her.

“Oh, they were surely jealous.” Her mother scoffed. “When children want something, they make fun of it, you know.”

“You really think so?” Jasper put her pencil down and turned around to look at her mother for reassurance.

“I know so,” Malachite finished combing and placed a kiss on top of Jasper’s head. “Mother always knows best, sweetie.”

Jasper took a moment to think about it and stretched her chubby kiddy cheeks into a happy smile, returning to her picture. Once she was finished, she gave it to her mother, and the paper sheet containing a crudely drawn Jasper, Lapis and Malachite was pinned on the fridge for months. Every time they had dinner together, the three of them would sit facing the picture, and Jasper felt proud of something for the first time.


Jasper was sure that if things worked like they did on cartoons, her floor would have a hole in it from the amount of pacing around she was doing. She’s been trying to come up with ways to distract herself since Lapis hung up, but so far nothing had proved useful. TV wasn’t helping, her phone was broken, and she didn’t have anything soft to punch without ripping. She should’ve really bought that punching bag back at the gym a few months ago.

Suddenly someone knocked on her door, two times, then two more after a pause, and she knew it was Lapis. Their secret knock was one of the things that hadn’t changed since childhood days; sort of like a code so they knew who to expect on the other side. It usually calmed her down, but right now, Jasper basically flew over and almost tore the entire door off the hinges.

“…Hey.” Jasper managed to mumble. She thought she’d be ready to face Lapis again after saying so many times that they should stop seeing each other, but now she knew she was wrong. It was a bit pathetic, how weak that girl made her in every aspect possible.

“Hi,” Lapis replied with a conviction that caught Jasper off guard. “…Look, don’t freak, but I brought someone.”

“You what?”

“Two people, actually.”

“Lapis—”

“I know!” She almost yelled. “I know. But they’re… they’re here to help.”

“Help?” Jasper was baffled. “Help who? Help how? What is wrong—”

“Help us, Jasper! Jesus fuck, I didn’t come here to fight again, just let us in and tell me what happened.” Lapis’ voice was steady, strong, resolved. It honestly took Jasper by surprise just how much she had changed after their latest argument. With not much choice in the matter, she stepped aside and gestured for her to come in.

As soon as Peridot and Amethyst came into view, Jasper widened her eyes. “Aren’t you the receptionist of that tattoo shop?”

Amethyst halted and had to look up to fully take in all of that. When she did, she couldn’t help but to burst in a laugh. “Are you fricking kidding me?! So your Jasper is actually that Jasper? I was trying to pretend it was any other Jasper, but fuck, the universe strikes again!”

The three women just looked at Amethyst confused as she wheezed and tried to calm down.

“Okay! Lapis, girl, is there anyone else you need to introduce to us, because I’m pretty sure that whoever it is, I’ll know them! Fucking hell, this city isn’t even that small, how in the world do we all know the same people?? Hah!”

Jasper ignored her and then turned to Peridot. “And you are the bartender.”

“Huh? Y-yeah, I—”

“Of course you know Peridot too, I mean, how could you not?? We’re all connected by the red string of fate, am I right?” Amethyst laughed harder and Peridot had to punch her shoulder to make her cut that out. “Ouch! Rude.”

“If you’re done embarrassing us,” Peridot muttered between clenched teeth. “Maybe you could let her talk now.”

“Okay, okay, my bad.” Ame regained her breath and the living room became silent again.

“So?” Lapis spoke to break the intense atmosphere. “What happened?”

“Right,” Jasper stared at the two strangers once again and hesitantly walked over to the table to grab a paper. “I got home and there was a delivery waiting for me. I thought it was weird, since she’d already sent me one, and when I opened it there was a letter.”

Lapis took the letter with a palpitating heart. It was the first time in years that the Witch sent news, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to know. Her curiosity got the best of her, however, and she had to read it.

“Dear Jasper,

I’ll try to be brief. I am not sure you’ll even read this letter, but I’ll take my chances; you’ve always been the most reasonable one, after all.

It’s been such a long time, and I still find myself missing you and your sister every day. I wonder if my packages are reaching you, and what you’re doing with my thoughtful gifts. I truly hope that they’re not going to waste – I have the sincerest of intentions, even though you might not believe that.

How are you, I wonder? You two must be so grown up and leading a wonderful life. I’m sure you’re making the most of every day, and seizing all the great opportunities life is giving you. That’s how I was raised, and that’s how I hope I’ve come to raise you two as well. It doesn’t hurt to have a little motherly help, too.

The reason I’m writing you this letter is because my time in this world has been cut short. Mother’s old bones are not working properly anymore, and a sudden twist of fate has attacked my organs – the liver, to be exact. I’m sending you a copy of all my exams and a picture of the hospital I’m in, along with the address. It’s located on our sweet hometown, not far from our old home.

I have may regrets in this life, and the way I’ve treated you both is the biggest one. I have only but one wish before crossing to the other side: I want to see you one last time. I know it’s too much to ask, but I’ll fight to stay alive with the hope that you’ll walk through the hospital door and greet me soon. Please, try to convince your sister as well. It would mean the world to me if you could come and tell me all about your adventures since you left home. I could think of no better way to go.

I’ll be waiting for as long as I can.

I love you both. Never forget that.

Regards,

- Malachite.”

Lapis blinked and a sudden tear blotched the paper. She brought her forearm to rub her eyes and inhaled, counting to three, then exhaled. “What a fucking hypocrite.”

“Tell me about it.” Jasper grabbed a chair and sat down, gesturing for the other girls to do the same. “I’ve always been the most reasonable one? Please. Years of praising you for everything and putting me down, and then that’s what she has to say? She just knows I’m the weakest and that I’d probably crush under pressure and drag you along.”

Lapis sat down too, but Peridot and Amethyst felt like they were intruding on a very personal matter, so they stood up and listened.

“Probably,” Lapis replied, putting down the letter. “…So what are we going to do?”

“Nothing.”

“Is that it?”

“She’s a performer, Lapis. She’s probably lying her lungs out. I’m not going through the trouble.”

“She sent us all her exams and a picture of her hospital bed.”

“Malachite is rich and a scammer, you really think it’d be hard for her to fake these things?”

“What would be the point, though?” Lapis bit her lip, frustrated. “Say it is a scam. We get there, and then what? What could she even do to us after this? We’re both adults with a life and you’re ten feet tall, she can’t shackle us again.”

Jasper got quiet after that, as if she hadn’t thought about it. Lapis couldn’t blame her for it; she also had a part of her that accepted that one day they’d return to the circus where they belonged and live off of tricks for another ten years. “…I don’t want to go.” Her voice was so meek and fragile that Lapis felt an urge to hug her like old times. “I’m scared of her.”

The confession seemed silly coming from someone as big as Jasper, but Peridot knew that there was nothing funny about it. Everything Lapis had told her about their life with this woman sounded horrible, but she couldn’t even fathom the thought of having lived it for their whole childhood and teenage years. Lapis called her The Witch because that’s the image she evoked: a wicked villain from a fairytale that was created with the sole purpose of being absolutely terrifying.

Hell, even Peridot was scared of this old woman.

But she also knew that whenever she was scared of something, she could rely on people she loved to help.

“Let’s go.” Peridot’s voice echoed through the silent room and all three pairs of eyes turned to her, shocked.

“What?” Jasper sounded angry.

“Let’s go. The four of us.” She was shaking as the words left her mouth, but she pushed through. “You – and I’m really sorry to say this – you need to face her. I think. Um… I’m… not qualified to say what you should or shouldn’t do, but I just think that—” Jasper’s intense gaze was piercing through her skin, so Peri closed her eyes. “I think she wants to break you. I don’t think she’s faking her d-death, but I think she wants to make sure she still has control and power over you until her very last moments. So you… you have to prove to her that she doesn’t. That you’re happy. That you have people who care about you, and that these people are… stronger than anything she could ever throw at you.”

Amethyst gaped at her courage, but felt a tinge of pride at her words.

“I think what I’m t-trying to say is,” Peri opened her eyes and looked at Lapis. “Don’t give her the satisfaction. Show her that you’ve raised above her. That you’re living your life, not hers. And it’s okay to get scared! She was part of your life for so long, it’s not like you’ll erase that in a day. But you can show her that you’re healing. Because you have people who genuinely love you, now.” With a shaky breath, she finished. “Show her that you’re healing. Let’s go.”

There wasn’t a single movement for a long time and Peri’s face was about to combust with embarrassment. Before she could even think of punching herself in the face, however, Lapis got up from her chair and landed a kiss on her lips. Peri felt her tears along with the hands squishing her cheeks and kissed back, relaxing all her muscles at once.

“I love you,” Lapis whispered against her lips and Peridot melted. Then Lapis turned to Jasper and offered a hand, just like she’d done back at the pub. “She’s right. Let’s go.”

Jasper looked at her hand, then back up to Lapis.

And this time, she grabbed it, and got up with her help. “…Alright.”

Lapis smiled softly and Jasper couldn’t help but to return the expression. She had missed her sister’s smile more than anything in this world.

“Call a friend. We’re doing this together.” Lapis said and Jasper scratched the back of her neck.

“Yeah, about that… we kind of had a fight earlier.”

“Jesus Jasper, do you have to argue with everyone who cares about you?” Lapis’ words might’ve been harsh a while back, but now they were playful.

“I do, actually.” She replied, but grabbed the phone from her kitchen anyway. “She’ll come, though. She can’t leave me be for a second.”

“Good! More people that I probably know in some way or another!” Amethyst fist pumped, and for some bizarre reason, everyone laughed. Not in a million years Lapis thought she’d be laughing with Jasper again, right before traveling back to Malachite’s domain. It was so surreal, that she had to look back to Peridot to make sure this wasn’t a dream. And when the bartender smiled back and grabbed her hand, she knew things were too good to be one of her nightmares.

Chapter Text

“Alright, this feels like a camp trip already!” Amethyst’s sarcastic voice came from behind Peridot’s seat as she shifted, struggling with her seat belt. “Only instead of a lake, we’re going straight to Hell Town.”

“Don’t make me get up and punch your gut,” Peri was trying to relax as the bus closed its doors and left the station for a long 5 hour trip to the State next door, but her hyperactive best friend was terrible at relaxing on trips like this. It wasn’t because of the anxiety of an accident in the middle of the road (like the one Peridot was feeling), but simply because staying put in a moving vehicle for over 20 minutes was the definition of Hell for Amethyst.

Please do, at least seeing you attempt to punch me will give me something to do for five hours.”

“Is she always like this?” Bismuth, who was sitting behind Amethyst, asked Jasper by her side.

“Beats me, I’ve never met any of these people before yesterday.” Jasper simply replied looking outside, her mind far away from the current reality. “Except for Lapis.”

“So, Lapis is the blue-haired one,” Bis was trying to understand what exactly she’d thrown herself into.

When Jasper called her and apologized for her behavior, asking her to help, Bismuth’s immediate response had been yes. She didn’t really think much of the details – as long as she could be there for whatever trouble her teammate was going through, she would gladly buy a bus ticket to a town she’s never heard of before. But now that they were actually on the bus, she started to think properly. “And she’s your sister.”

“Adoptive sister.” Jasper corrected her.

“Right. Your sister’s girlfriend is that bartender from the pub we went to a few days ago.”

“I guess.”

“And fussy over there is her best friend, which is also the receptionist of the place where you made your tattoo.”

“Yeah.”

“So… who’s the one beside her?”

“I’m Amethyst’s boss,” Pearl explained without turning around, awkwardly. “Pearl.”

A few hours ago, when Pearl saw Lapis and Amethyst at the bus station, she had felt quite comfortable, but as soon as other people started showing up, her social skills pretty much vanished. Also, thinking that Jasper and another huge and muscular woman were sitting right behind her made her really weak on her knees – okay, so maybe she had a type.

“Okay…” Bis repeated each person’s name in a mumble to herself and sighed after a while. “Yeah, I already forgot your sister’s name.”

“Adoptive— look, don’t worry about it. Just try to sleep or something, it’s going to be a long ride.” Jasper finally removed her gaze from the road and leaned back with her arms crossed and a tired expression. She was starting to think that having so many people accompanying her on such a personal travel was totally inappropriate, but now it was too late.

Bismuth wanted to try to cheer her up; this place they were going to was clearly stressing her out for some reason she had yet to uncover, but right now she thought that it was truly best to let Jasper rest.

“Yes, sleep. A very good advice, Jasper.” Peridot said, turning around to face Amethyst. “An advice we should all follow.”

“Pearl doesn’t seem very tired.” Ame replied and Lapis had to place a hand on top of Peridot’s to stop the bartender from actually getting up and punching her friend in the gut.

“Let’s just calm down,” Lapis tried and Peri allowed herself to relax under her touch. The smoker then turned to Pearl with an apologetic look. “Sorry you had to sit down with Red Bull over there.”

“Oh, trust me, I’m used to her antics already.” Pearl didn’t seem fazed by her employee’s behavior and took her phone out of her pocket to text someone.

“You make me seem so unprofessional.” Amethyst crossed her arms.

“Pfft—” Peridot’s snort was met with a rough push on the back of her seat and she got up as far as she could to yell at Ame again. The two argued for about two minutes before Jasper pretty much growled from the deep of her throat, making both quiet down as quickly as they had started. Lapis for once agreed with Jasper’s rude tone, and smiled when she felt her small girlfriend rest her head on her shoulder, finally calming down.

“What a lively bunch.” Bismuth commented, but there was no follow up from the woman beside her, and the conversation was over. Not like it had started.

The rest of the trip went smoothly, with the three pairs pretty much just talking to each other occasionally and not bothering the other passengers, who were already eyeing them angrily from the ruckus from before. Peridot was constantly touching Lapis somehow, be it by resting on her or just holding hands when the position made her neck cramp, and she was glad for it. Having physical contact right now was proving to be much better than being alone.

It hadn’t really dawned on her yet that she was going to face Malachite in a few hours. Lapis was trying to distract her brain with other thoughts, such as seeing familiar places of her old home town again. She wondered if the restaurant she loved so much was still open, or if the park they used to go to sometimes was still full of dogs. There were other places she didn’t really want to go, such as the gym in which she was forced to train for years, and the old mansion. Lapis knew exactly where the mansion was even after all these years, so she was going to avoid that place for good.

She bit her lip and turned around to take a peek at Jasper, and was surprised to see that she was sleeping. Lapis knew her better than this, though, so she knew Jasper was just pretending so she wouldn’t have to deal with anyone. Lapis’ gut twisted in a sad and bitter feeling, and she felt this enormous need to sit next to her and just… be there, present. The bus was bumping on the road, though, so getting up was not recommended.

“You okay?” Peridot’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Yeah,” Lapis looked back at her. “Just thinking.”

“Bad thinking?”

“…Not necessarily.” It was funny; a few days ago, thoughts about Malachite, Jasper and her old life would definitely be on the ‘bad thinking’ list. Now, they were just… neutral thoughts. Not good ones, but not extremely awful either. “You being here helps a lot.”

Peridot smiled and squeezed her hand. “I’m glad. Um… sorry about the mess with Amethyst earlier.”

“It’s okay,” Lapis chuckled. “It lifted the mood.”

“Don’t let her hear you say that,” Both girls laughed a little before settling on a comfortable silence again. “It’s just… I’m pretty anxious, and arguing with her distracts me from it. It’s awful, I know.”

“Not really. I’m sure she does it because she knows it helps you.”

“Oh.” That thought had never crossed Peridot’s mind, but it was such an Amethyst thing to do that she was surprised she hadn’t noticed it before. “You think so?”

“She cares about you in her own… Amethyst way. That’s a good thing.”

Peri looked down and smiled a bit. “Yeah. I guess it is.”

Behind them, Pearl was with her eyes closed as she listened to music on her headphones, and Ame was trying not to bother her, but the silence was bordering unbearable. With a stretch, she accidentally (very much not) bumped her arm on Pearl’s shoulder, and retracted it immediately when she opened her eyes. “Sorry!”

“It’s alright.” Pearl responded and closed her eyes again.

“Um,” Ame searched in her brain for something to talk about before the conversation died again. “You think Garnet is managing the shop alright all by herself?”

“She’s resourceful.”

“Right.” She scratched the back of her neck. “So… what are you listening to?”

“You talking.”

“Ouch.” Okay, Pearl was definitely not in the mood to talk. “Got it, I’ll just… count how many cows we see in the road.”

Pearl sighed and removed her headphones. “I’m sorry. I’m just not used to travel with so many strangers. I guess I’m simply a bit nervous.”

“Oh, I see.” Ame smiled and playfully poked her arm. “Well… don’t need to be nervous around me, right?”

Pearl returned the smile and Ame’s heart jumped – that genuine happiness in her boss’ face was extremely beautiful and she really wanted to see it more often. “I’m sure no one is able to be nervous around you.”

“What does that mean?”

“That you’re easy to talk to. You’re very friendly and outgoing. There’s always that willingness to talk to others that you have, which I can’t quite understand, honestly.”

“Oh, that’s because I love people. It’s not that hard to get.”

Pearl’s smile turned into a melancholic one. “There it goes again…”

“Huh?” Amethyst paused, afraid of having said something wrong. Pearl reassured her with a shake of her head.

“You really sound a lot like Rose sometimes. It’s a bit frightening, to be honest.”

“Oh…” Rose again. Lapis’ teacher, Steven’s mom and Pearl’s… something. The woman sounded like a true angel on earth, and Amethyst didn’t really know how to act around Pearl when she brought her up so suddenly like that. “I’m… sorry?”

“No, it’s a great thing!” Pearl reiterated, now a lot more awake. “I meant that as a compliment. I mean… I wish I could be half of what she was.”

“You…” Ame wanted to say that she was a lot more than that, but how could she, when she had no idea how Rose Quartz was like? For Amethyst, Pearl was not only beautiful, but her genuine passion towards things was admirable; the way her eyes shone whenever she talked about her tattoo parlor or when she sketched new drawings for her portfolio, or even then way she got frustrated over a silly online game because she wanted to fit in. Pearl was diligent, organized and compassionate, things Amethyst truly valued in a person, because it was the total opposite of herself. “You’re your own person, though.”

“What?”

She wasn’t sure if she even had the right to say something like that, but seeing Pearl putting herself down because of Rose really bothered her. “You’re not Rose, sure, but I’m not her either. You have so many other good qualities.”

“Qualities I’ve only earned by trying to be like her.”

“So what?” Amethyst almost laughed at the ridiculous words. “Isn’t that how life works? You’re not born with a set of ideals that you carry forever, you learn and change by interacting with others. Hell, you went from nun to hot punk, if that isn’t proof of this, then I don’t know what is.”

Pearl stared at her in silence before breaking out in a contagious laugh. It was the first time Amethyst heard her boss laughing and she couldn’t help to bask in the pure joy of it. “Oh- oh gosh… aren’t you a philosopher?”

“I don’t mean to brag, but people used to call me Amestotle in college.”

“Did you even go to college?”

“…That’s not the point.”

As soon as the both of them managed to catch their breaths, Pearl turned to look at her in the eyes. “…Thank you, Amethyst.”

“For what?” She flushed at the direct eye contact, which was totally not like her to do.

“For reminding me of important things like that.” Then she looked out of the window again. “I might not be Rose, but I can try to carry out her legacy of helping people. I mean, this is why I even came on this trip.”

Pearl reminisced Amethyst’s call one day ago and grinned. She was home cooking a healthy meal, when her receptionist called and asked if she was free to go on a life changing trip with herself and Lapis. Pearl was extremely confused by her words, but when Amethyst explained the whole situation, something inside her felt heavy. Pearl dismissed the call at first, but couldn’t ignore the knot on her stomach, so she called Garnet for advice.

“What do you want to do?” Garnet had asked.

“W-well, I can’t possibly miss work. In fact, I can’t let her miss work either! I don’t know why I—”

“Go.”

“W-what?”

“It’s okay, there’s not much movement in the shop anyway. And I think you need this. It would be good for you.”

“But Garnet, I don’t…”

“It’s what Rose would’ve done. You know that.”

And those simple sentences were enough. Garnet was right; Rose would have jumped into the unknown at the first opportunity if it meant helping and making a difference in someone’s life. Pearl had always valued that in her, and often wondered if she would be able to do the same if it happened. Now that the chance had presented itself, she didn’t want to back down from this.

Besides, helping one of Rose’s students was going to be a privilege.

“I’m glad you did.” Amethyst smiled back at Pearl, and both just stared at each other for a bit more than probably was necessary.

“So…” Pearl broke the spell with a smirk. “Hot punk, huh?”

Amethyst nearly choked. “I m-mean, your style! It’s pretty much… come on, undercut and tattoos, that’s pretty hot punk!”

“I’ll take that compliment.” Pearl finished with a wink, and Ame’s chest felt weird.


Upon arriving, the first thing the six women did was use the bathroom. Peridot was rubbing the sleep off her eyes, as well as Bismuth, who couldn’t stop yawning; Jasper stretched her cramped muscles and Pearl and Amethyst tried to be subtle about staring, but failed absurdly.

Lapis just walked away from everyone for a while and stared at the sky, closing her eyes and breathing deeply. The chilling air of her hometown made its way into her lungs and she didn’t feel like smoking while she was there.

“Hey,” Jasper’s voice behind her made her open her eyes. “You good?”

“We’re back.” Lapis said, simply.

“We’re back.”

Peridot finally woke up enough to look around her and noticed Lapis and Jasper talking away from the group. She decided to let them be alone with each other for as long as they needed while on this trip; it was something personal for the both of them, after all. Peri didn’t know what was going on inside their heads, but it was probably really complicated. Seeing a familiar place was one thing, but when it brought back bad memories, it was probably a whole other story.

“Are we going?” Lapis asked.

“Do we have to?” Jasper sounded like a spoiled child who didn’t want to clean her room, and Lapis couldn’t help a tiny grin.

“Eventually, yeah. But not right now.” She looked up at her. “I’m starving.”

Jasper smirked back. “Lenny’s?”

“Lenny’s.”

Their favorite place to get a burger.

Lapis returned to the group and gathered everyone, explaining where they were going first. They bought a bus ticket, and after a 10-minute ride, arrived at a station near the famous restaurant. Lapis’ stomach growled as soon as they stepped in and she smelled the familiar scent. She looked at Jasper with a genuine smile and shining eyes, and the athlete reciprocated the expression. Peridot noticed that and grinned, happy to see the two of them getting along better than before.

“Okay, so here’s how this works,” Lapis said as they all sat down. “You’ll get a Number 5, no questions asked.”

“What if,” Amethyst looked at the menu. “I want a Number 7 instead?”

“You don’t. Trust me.”

“I’d trust her.” Peri affirmed.

“You’re biased.” Amethyst retorted, but gave up. “Alright, whatever you say. It’s your turf.”

“This is going to ruin our diet, man.” Bismuth frowned as she tried to search for something in that menu that wasn’t dripping with oil and fat.

“You’ll thank me later.” Jasper looked a lot more alive, and Bismuth’s heart swelled with emotion at her friend’s playful gleam. “Besides, I thought that an athlete’s health wasn’t all about the body, but the mind as well.”

“How is this good for the mind?? I can feel my heart constricting just by reading what’s in this thing, and it’s not of joy!”

Their banter went on and Pearl decided to just trust Lapis’ judgement. She was in an unfamiliar city with unfamiliar people around her, so she would just go with the flow. “I’ll have a Number 5, then.”

The waitress took their orders and the six huge burgers arrived in a relatively short amount of time. As soon as Lapis and Jasper gave the first bite, they sighed contently.

“Holy shit.” Both said at the same time and let out a chuckle at the coincidence. Amethyst and Peri exchanged looks and smiled at each other without sharing a word.

With a full stomach and paid bills, the six women exited the place only to stop midway to plan what they were going to do next. Jasper took the hospital address out of her pocket and checked on her phone the best way to get there. “So, we could take another bus and then go all the way… here. Then it’s just a twenty-minute walk.”

“Sounds great, but if I take another bus right now I’m going to puke.” Amethyst groaned as she patted her huge belly. “Can we stop somewhere for a bit? I need to digest.”

Jasper and Lapis exchanged looks. “Well… there’s a park near here. We could rest on the benches for a bit.”

“I was thinking more of an inside place. With an AC and cushions.”

“Hmm…” Lapis tried to think of a place like this. “There’s a shopping mall, too, but it’s a bit far away.”

“Ughh…”

“Why are you complaining so much? We’re not here on tourism.” Peridot put her hands on her hips, annoyed at the selfishness of her best friend.

“Excuse me, not all of us have the metabolism of a puma. I ate that whole burger and I need to lie down for a bit!”

“You’re not the only one in this group, Amethyst!”

As the two continued to argue again, Jasper rolled her eyes and kept checking her map. Lapis wasn’t sure of what to do; in one hand, she could use a resting spot before facing her worst nightmare, but in another she really didn’t want to delay this for too long. Those people had taken a day off to accompany her on a personal issue, and she felt bad for wasting their time like this.

“If I may suggest,” Pearl’s clear and calm voice interrupted the fight. “Is there a possibility of us spending one night at a hotel?”

“What?” Lapis was surprised at the idea. “But you have work tomorrow.”

“Well, that’s true, but Garnet said she’ll hold the fort and I trust her.” She turned to Amethyst. “I’ll let you off the hook, and if I’m not mistaken, Peridot here works at night. If we return tomorrow in the afternoon, she will be able to make it to work in time.” Then she turned to Jasper and Bismuth and tried not to stutter as she looked at the perfectly built bodies. “Of course, I don’t know if this would fit your schedule.”

“We’re on a break!” Bismuth replied with her characteristic friendly smile. “That wouldn’t be a problem for us.”

Jasper didn’t look up from her phone, but nodded.

“Well, that’s good then.” Pearl looked back to Lapis. “Besides… I think it would be good to take a little break before facing such a difficult thing. With your body and mind well rested, it’ll be much better.”

Lapis’ eyes gleamed and she smiled back, with soft eyes. “Okay. Thank you, Pearl.”

Amethyst side-eyed her boss proudly; to think that Pearl would go as far as missing two working days to help a stranger, that was a selfless act if she’s ever seen one.

“Found it.” Jasper said suddenly and everyone looked at her. “A cheap hotel.”

“So that’s what you were looking for in that goddamn phone.” Bismuth shoved her to the side playfully and Jasper just told her to shut up with a faint blush.

“Let’s go, then.”

Then they all followed Jasper.


“Good news, they’ve got three cheap rooms!” Amethyst came back with Jasper from the lobby with three keys; The two of them, incredibly, were the better suited people to strike a bargain. Well, mostly Amethyst – Jasper was there to be intimidating. “Bad news, we’ve got to share a bed.”

“How is this bad news?” Peridot teased with a smirk.

“Well, sorry, not all of us got to find a girlfriend before the trip,” She gave her a room key reluctantly. “So… how are we gonna split?”

“Like we did on the bus?” Peri came to the most logical conclusion.

“R-right. Yeah, that makes sense.” For some God forsaken reason, the thought of sharing a bed with Pearl made Amethyst nervous. She was never nervous around people she liked. Amethyst was the One Night Stand Queen, what was going on with her? Besides, wasn’t that a good thing? She’d been wanting to have some privacy with Pearl for a while now, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Ame decided to crack a joke to break the tense mood, so she looked at Jasper and Bismuth. “Are you even gonna fit in the same bed together?”

“You’ve never been to a training camp, have you, pipsqueak?” Bis replied with a wicked smirk, and Amethyst didn’t want to think about what happened on training camps for rugby athletes.

“Alright, that settles it then.”

Grabbing their bags, the six women went upstairs and walked into their designated rooms. The fun part was that the three rooms were all next to each other and had a balcony that led outside; if they needed to talk, they could just step out and chat.

The double bed in the middle of the room occupied most of the place. As soon as Lapis and Peridot walked in, they threw themselves in the bed and sighed contently. Peridot shifted so they could snuggle, and Lapis giggled at the gesture, placing a kiss on top of her head. She felt extremely relaxed.

Bismuth and Jasper threw their bags on the floor, and Bismuth jumped on the bed like a kid. She asked if Jasper wanted to jump with her, but her teammate just scolded her and stepped outside for a bit.

And Amethyst and Pearl sat on the corner of the bed, far away from each other. Pearl excused herself for a bit and Ame nodded with a crooked smile. As soon as she disappeared into the bathroom, Amethyst buried her face in a pillow.

That was going to be a long night.

Chapter Text

The night came fast. After walking around town for a bit longer and having a quick dinner, everyone returned to their respective rooms without exchanging many words. The group was pretty much divided into strangers who knew each other through other people, so conversation was reserved to mainly Amethyst, Peridot and Lapis. As soon as they bid each other goodnight, – but not before Ame’s obvious “don’t be too loud or I’ll kick your ass” joke towards the two girlfriends – they walked into their rooms.

The room was warm and cozy to compensate for the chilling air of the night outside, and Peri fell on the bed and wrapped herself up in the blanket right after Lapis closed the door. Turning around, Lapis halted at the cute sight of her girlfriend, who now looked like a burrito. “Cold much?”

“A little bit,” Peri yawned. “I’m also really tired from the trip.”

“Aww, that’s a shame…” Lapis made her way to the bed slowly. “I was really hoping to annoy Amethyst.”

“Huh?” It took a moment for Peri to get what she meant, and even after thinking a lot, she didn’t quite understand it. Her head was already usually fuzzy, but it got ten times worse when she was sleepy. Blushing, she finally asked. “Annoy her with… what?”

Lapis giggled, not fazed in the least, and lay down next to her. “She did tell us not to be loud.”

“Oh. Ohhh,” For some reason her heart shot up to the skies and Peri buried herself even more inside her blanket. “That.”

Not bearing to look at Peridot being this adorable without touching her, Lapis wrapped one arm around her tiny frame, bringing her body impossibly close and burying her nose on the crook of the girl’s neck. “I’m kidding. I know you’re tired, we should rest.”

Lapis’ whisper near her ear made Peridot melt, and she turned around to face her, untangling herself from the blanket. “I’m sorry…”

“Don’t be.” Lapis’ eyes were so close and they shone so brightly. “Just being here with you like this is… like a dream come true, honestly.” As soon as she said that, she blushed. “Wow, way to be a sap.”

“Hey, I’m the sap queen.” Peri murmured with a smile. “You can’t beat my sap.”

They both chuckled and stood frozen in time, staring at each other without a care in the world. For a second, everything wrong seemed to have vanished; Lapis’ anxiety regarding meeting her mother tomorrow, Peridot’s fear of the unknown, their worries and anguishes. At that moment, it was just the two of them, staring at the infinite.

“Like a galaxy…” Peri couldn’t stop herself, but Lapis was already used to the random words that left her mouth.

“Yeah?”

“Y-yeah,” Peridot swallowed, forcing herself to remember that this was Lapis, and that she didn’t mind her weirdness. “Your face. Your eyes always seem to shine and your… freckles look like the Milky Way. Sometimes I swear I can see shooting stars in them.”

Lapis’ heart was beating so fast already; there were no words that could possibly compete with the poetry that simply flowed out of the woman in her arms. So she said the first dumb thing that came to mind. “You should make a wish.”

Peridot’s memory flashed back to the first day she saw Lapis in the junkyard, where she mumbled the exact same nonsense to Amethyst. At that time, Lapis had briefly exposed her silhouette to Peri with her lighter, but she had vanished as quickly as she’d come. Peridot had called her a shooting star then, and it warmed her heart to realize that Lapis now was more than a rare beauty in the blink of an eye.

She was real, and she was there.

“You should make a wish.” Amethyst teased.

“I already did,” And then Peridot leaned forward, capturing the woman’s lips with her own. The kiss, unlike a shooting star, was long, and would last for as long as she wanted. A thousand wishes were made against those lips, and a thousand more popped up in Peri’s mind as soon as she was finished thinking about all the things she loved about Lapis. It didn’t matter what happened; Peri knew that this girl deserved a world of happiness. She swore she would try to make that a reality.

Lapis’ hands started to roam through Peri’s sides, and it was then that the bartender had an idea.

“Wait,” She broke the kiss, a little breathless. “Let’s take a shower.”

Lapis blinked, but then smiled, leaning in to give her another brief kiss. “I like this idea.”

At least this way the water would muffle the sounds.


“Man, that shower is a blessing!” Bismuth’s happy face came out of the bathroom and Jasper let out a snicker.

“You say that about every shower that comes with hot water.”

“Exactly! Training camp made me truly admire the little things.” Then she plopped down on the bed next to Jasper, who was flicking through the channels without paying much attention. Bismuth stared at her friend’s muscular back for a bit before speaking. “Say… how are you doing?”

Jasper finally found something decent and put the remote away. She looked down at her tattooed arm and sighed. “Scared.”

“Never thought I’d see that,” Bis smiled softly. “Big-ass Jasper, afraid.”

“My size doesn’t matter, Bis.” She pushed herself back on the bed and settled against the headboard. “It’s an emotional thing.”

“Right…” Bismuth mimicked her pose and looked down to her hands. “You know, I came all the way here to be supportive, but I still have no idea what is happening. I mean, I get that it’s a family thing, but…”

Oh. That’s right.

Jasper never told Bismuth a single thing about her past.

And she had a good reason not to, of course. Just like Lapis, she was afraid of pushing people away with her burdens, so bottling things up inside was for the best. But now that she had involved Bismuth in this whole mess, Jasper felt terrible for not even bothering to explain the basics. She was truly grateful that her best friend had decided to help her, no questions asked. It was just like Bismuth, to do something dumb for the sake of her team.

No. For the sake of Jasper.

“…I’m sorry, Bis.” Jasper looked at her with a guilty expression. “You came to help, and I did nothing but shut myself off. I’ll…” Taking a deep breath, she nodded to herself. “I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you everything.”

Bismuth smiled, and put a hand on Jasper’s shoulder. “I’ll be here for you, Jazz. Always.”

Jasper returned the grin. “Thanks. You should make yourself comfortable. It’s kind of a long story.”


“And then the guy wouldn’t stop calling me for three whole weeks! That’s when I decided to never give my phone number to anyone ever again, doesn’t matter how lovely the night was.” Amethyst finished her story as she rested against the headboard in the bed, earning a laugh from Pearl.

The TV was on, but on the lowest volume – there was nothing good on and Amethyst just liked to have some sort of sound around when she talked to potential crushes. It helped distracting both her and the person in question from awkward silences. Pearl was sitting next to her with her pajamas on after taking a shower and listened to her story with her eyes glued on the screen,

“I suppose that is a smart move.” Pearl nodded. “Although I don’t think I can flat out refuse someone when they ask for my number.”

“You just need to be polite,” Ame reached for a glass of water in the nightstand. “It’s way harder with guys than girls, though. Well, in my experience at least.”

“Oh, with men I can manage.”

The conversation, which had previously started as an ice breaker about the weather and the town, had at some point shifted to dates and past relationship experiences. Amethyst cheered internally, because this opened the opportunity to ask her boss a little bit more about her private life without it sounding weird or flirtatious. Not that Amethyst wasn’t trying to flirt.

She was just not managing to flirt correctly with Pearl for some goddamn reason.

“So I suppose you’re just interested in the ladies.” Ame tried.

“Oh, definitely.” Pearl’s answer didn’t miss a beat. “Not that I should be interested in men, either. Being a nun, and all.”

Ame snorted at this. “I’m sorry, I just— the nun thing is just so funny to me.”

“I get why.” Pearl looked up, reminiscing. “I’m really glad I didn’t go down that path. N-not that there’s anything wrong with nuns.”

“I get it,” Ame shrugged. “Just wasn’t your lifestyle.”

“Exactly.”

A quick pause followed as both of them stared at the TV in a comfortable silence, and then Amethyst spoke again.

“So… any awkward relationship story you wanna share?”

“Oh… w-well…” Pearl’s stutter was really cute. “I suppose we all have those.”

“So you do have one.” Amethyst smirked, leaning in.

“Just one,” The artist shifted on her seat. “It was so bad that no other beat it, though.”

“Damn. Um, you don’t need to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

“No, it’s…” Pearl looked over to her phone resting next to her leg and breathed in. “It’s alright. It was a long time ago.”

Ame felt like this conversation could really use some beers, but she didn’t know where the closest convenience store was. So she just nodded and paid attention.

“Well… this will probably sound obvious, since I’ve done nothing but talk about her, but... I more than simply admired Rose. I was genuinely in love with her.”

Oh.

Of course.

“At first I thought it was simply teenage admiration over this older woman. She was on her twenties and I was barely fifteen when she found me crying. After that day we started talking more and more, and I felt… things for the first time. I just wanted to be next to her all the time and make her laugh, you know, typical teenage behavior towards a crush. Then time went by and we were both adults, and the feeling just wouldn’t go away. It was actually stronger than ever.”

Amethyst looked back to the TV, still listening.

“Garnet knew what it was, of course. She’d been there, done that. I was just in a long period of denial.” With a small sigh, Pearl turned to her with a grin. “As you know, it didn’t really amount to anything. Rose met Greg and they fell in love, and that was that.”

Amethyst bit her lip, choosing carefully her words. “Did you… resent Greg for that?”

“Oh, absolutely!” Pearl didn’t miss a beat. “I was extremely jealous. How dare this… stranger come in between us? He didn’t know anything about Rose, and I knew everything.” Then she chuckled. “That’s what I thought at the time. Like I deserved to be the one, you know? We’d been through so much together, so why wasn’t she in love with me too? It took me a long time to realize that Rose didn’t… own me anything. She was free to fall for anyone at any time, and I had to accept that it wasn’t me. Garnet helped me see that, too.”

That really struck Amethyst, and she quietly nodded, lost in her own thoughts. Ame really cherished her freedom above anything else, and that was one of the reasons why commitment scared her to no end. She loved being able to kiss whoever she wanted and sleep with whoever she wanted, without having to give explanations or get nervous about things. She liked it simple, and she wanted to have fun.

So Pearl’s words were confusing to her at first, even though they shouldn’t be. Amethyst had never experienced true love before, so the idea of being jealous of someone because they stole the love of her life was ridiculous in her head. She always thought that if one day she fell for someone, that person had every right to not love her back, and she was okay with that. Amethyst didn’t think it would hurt that much, and she’d be able to move on easily.

But now she understood that it probably hurt a lot more than she realized.

“You know…” Amethyst said. “I never fell in love.”

“…What?”

“Yeah, weird, huh?”

“But… didn’t you say you love people?” Pearl frowned.

“I do love people. I love kissing and I love sex, and sometimes cuddling is okay. But I was never in love with anyone.” She picked the mattress, distractingly. “I forced myself to go on a blind date and try to have a girlfriend for once, to see if I could fix this part of me. That’s actually how I met Peridot.”

“Oh, you two dated?”

“Yeah, it didn’t last. But it was one of the best experiences of my life, because it got me a best friend and roommate. I can say for sure that I love Peridot more than my average friends, but I can also say that I was never in love with her. Not like Lapis, or like you and Rose.” Ame sighed. “So when people tell me love stories, I get a little lost. I mean, I understand the concept and all, but I can’t… feel it. I don’t know what that’s like.”

They stood in silence once again and stared as the TV program ended and the commercials played in a loop. Then Amethyst felt a warm, soft hand on top of hers, and flinched, looking at Pearl.

“That’s not something you need to fix,” The artist’s smile was soft and full of emotion. “Give it time, and just… do what you always do. Go with the flow.”

Ame’s heart started beating fast when she realized their proximity and for a second her eyes flickered towards her boss’ lips. “Can I be painfully honest with you right now?”

“Of course.”

“You’re really pretty and I’ve been wanting to kiss you for a while,” She swallowed hard. “And I totally would have by now if you weren’t my boss, but I don’t want to get fired so I restrained myself, does that even make sense? I mean, I totally get it if you think we should keep things strictly professional between us, I just wanted to let you know that someone out there really admires your passion and your attitude and your hair – I really love your hair and tattoos, by the way, they’re on point – because you work so hard to accomplish things, which is so amazing, and I just—”

“You’re rambling.”

“Yes I am,” Amethyst caught her breath. “I swear I’m much smoother than this. You do things to me.”

Pearl’s expression was unreadable for a few seconds, then she broke into a laughing fit, bending over to touch her forehead on Amethyst’s shoulder – who laughed nervously in return. When the laughter subdued, Pearl straightened her back and looked at her with teary eyes; Ame didn’t know if they were because of happiness or something else. “You’re quite amazing yourself.”

“I am?”

“You are,” She wiped a small tear from her eye. “We’re already sharing a bed, I think we can throw ‘strictly professional’ out of the window.” Pearl’s eyes had a mischievous glint to them, but she was actually really nervous.

“I mean, when you put it like that.”

Pearl’s eyes searched for something in Amethyst that she didn’t really know what it was. “Are you sure you never fell in love?”

“Positive. Why?”

“You’re not really acting like it right now.”

“It’s a crush, that’s different.”

“So you have a crush on me?”

“I—” Ame blushed. That was the worst flirting she had ever attempted in her life. “Yes.”

Taking a deep breath, it was Pearl’s turn to blush. “So you want to kiss me?”

“Yes.”

“Right now?”

“I guess?” Ame frowned at herself. “Okay, usually there are not that many questions, so I’m kind of lost.”

Pearl giggled and bit her lower lip. She didn’t want to disappoint, but this was all so sudden that she was a bit taken aback by the whole confession. “I… could I think about it?”

Ame immediately nodded. “Of course! Don’t feel pressured, or anything. I completely understand if you don’t want to.”

Feeling relieved, Pearl nodded and yawned, the day finally taking a toll on her body.

“We should sleep. I need to mentally prepare myself for the trip back,” Ame said, already tucking herself in. Pearl agreed and turned off the TV, settling by Ame’s side. It was comforting knowing that someone was nearby, Pearl thought, and turned off the lights.

Before drifting off, Ame felt Pearl poking her shoulder, and turned around to face her. “Yeah?”

“Thank you for admiring me.”

Ame smiled, her heart doing that thing again, and she just scooted closer.


It was nearly 4:00am when Peridot woke up. She’d just had a nightmare about a huge witch who had gobbled her up, so her chest was pretty heavy as she huffed. When she tried to move, she felt Lapis’ arms and legs tangled around her body and calmed down considerably at the touch. Peri didn’t want to wake her up, but the darkness of the room was making her nervous, so she placed a gentle kiss on Lapis’ forehead before moving carefully away from her grasp.

Peri crouched and touched the floor looking for her shirt and shorts – which had been tossed aside before… certain activities – and finally found them on the right corner. She put them on and opened the balcony window, stepping outside for a bit of fresh air.

The moon illuminated the night sky and she leaned forward on her elbows to appreciate the view. There wasn’t much to see from the balcony of that particular room, but Peridot still smiled at the thought that she was in a different city. She took a deep breath, and even the air tasted differently somehow. Today was the day Lapis would face her worst nightmare, and Peri wondered if she should prepare an encouraging speech or something, for both Lapis and Jasper. She wanted to help somehow, but at the same time she knew that this was too complicated to work out with simple words.

A sound made her turn her head to the balcony on the left and she was surprised to see Jasper walk out of her room with a lighter and a cigarette in hands. The athlete halted when she saw her. “Oh, hey.”

“H-hi,” Peri replied. It was the first time she was alone with Lapis’ sister – adoptive sister? – and she didn’t really know what to say. So she asked the first thing in her mind. “Are you… okay?”

“Been hearing that question a lot, lately.” Jasper mumbled as she took a drag of her now lit cigarette.

“Oh, it’s j-just… it’s really late and all, so I thought…”

“I’m fine.” Jasper answered. “Are you?”

“U-um,” The whole situation was making her tense, but she forced herself to calm down; that was Lapis’ sister, someone who was going through the same things her girlfriend was. There was nothing dangerous about Jasper. She was just intimidating. “I had a nightmare, actually.”

You had a nightmare?” Jasper almost laughed. “Out of anyone, I thought I’d hear these words coming from Lapis, honestly.”

“Oh, no, she’s sleeping well!”

Jasper hummed at the answer and brought the cigarette back to her lips. “That’s good.” She took a drag and exhaled. “Is she talking in her sleep?”

“Huh? Not really. I mean, I didn’t hear anything.”

“Gritting her teeth?”

“N-not at all.”

“Frowning, or grunting?”

Once again Peridot shook her head, negatively.

“Then she’s sleeping just fine.”

Oh, that’s right. Jasper used to share a bed with Lapis; she probably knew all of her quirks and habits. Peridot wondered if she missed that.

“Did she… have many nightmares?” Peridot ventured, wanting to know a bit more about her girlfriend.

“All the time,” Jasper looked up at the moon, reminiscing a few things. “She used to grab whatever was within reach and wouldn’t let go until morning. She’s stupidly strong, that girl.”

“She is pretty muscular…” Peridot mumbled and quickly covered her mouth. “I m-meant no disrespect by it!”

Jasper raised an eyebrow at the exaggerated reaction, and let out a heartfelt laugh. “You two are dating, you don’t need to be discreet about it.” Then she looked at the bartender from her head to her toes. “Besides, you’re wearing your pajamas inside out.”

Peri looked down and her immediate reaction was to cover herself for some reason. Jasper laughed again and took another drag. “I get why she likes you.”

“H-huh?”

“You’re genuine. I don’t really know you, but I doubt there’s a single drop of dishonesty in you.”

“W-well, I—” Peri was blushing at the awkwardness of the conversation, but Jasper seemed to be so at ease that she couldn’t help but to calm down because of it. “I can’t really lie to people. Whatever you see is the whole me. I mean, I think being honest with each other is what makes a relationship work out…”

“Yeah…” The athlete sighed. “Peridot, right?”

“Y-yes!”

“Lapis told you everything. About our past.”

“She did.”

“And you stuck around.”

“I wouldn’t leave her because of that.” Peri said with conviction. She might be nervous, but her feelings concerning Lapis were strong.

“Thank you.” Jasper finished her cigarette and Peri blinked, surprised at the words.

“You’re… thanking me?”

“I used to think I had to carry this by myself through my whole life. Lapis told some people about Malachite and all of them left after that. I couldn’t understand why she did it, but it kept happening.” She side-eyed her tattoo. “I wanted her to be happy, so I told her to keep her mouth shut about this. I never brought it up to anyone, and she shouldn’t either. But she didn’t listen, and kept getting hurt, over and over again. Until you came along.”

Peridot looked at Jasper’s blue flames and wondered why the athlete looked so disheartened by it.

“I see the way she looks at you and I’ve never seen her so… happy.” Then Jasper looked at Peridot again. “So thank you.”

Peri unconsciously analyzed Jasper, focusing on her expression and body language. The bartender had a terrible time understanding people, but was fascinated with how humans expressed themselves. If she could, she wanted to take a psychology course in the future to have a better understanding of people around her. Right now, Jasper seemed relaxed – shoulders down, sleepy expression, curved back, breathing slowly. She should’ve been terrified, afraid, scared of what tomorrow would bring, but none of that was showing – at least not that Peri could tell.

She realized that it was because she’d told her that Lapis was sleeping peacefully. That Lapis was happy dating Peridot. That Lapis wasn’t alone anymore.

As long as Lapis was fine, Jasper was fine too.

“You really love her, don’t you?” Peridot asked in a low voice.

Jasper didn’t answer for a while and stared down at the street. The silence was comforting, with a few crickets singing here and there, and the distant sound of occasional cars. “I do.”

“Have you told her that?”

“Drunkenly and in the worst possible way,” She scoffed. “She didn’t take it very well.”

Peri turned around and touched her back on the balcony, throwing her head back to look at the moon. Then she saw a shooting star and widened her eyes.

“You should make a wish.”

And so she did.

“Tell her again.”

“What?”

There was a fire in Peridot’s gaze when she turned to Jasper. “Before you talk to Malachite tomorrow, tell Lapis you love her. Truthfully.”

Jasper opened her mouth to retort, but closed it again at the intensity of the girl’s words. That shorty truly was something special. With a soft smile, Jasper turned around to walk back to her room. “Alright. Goodnight, Peridot.”

“Goodnight, Jasper.” Peri smiled back and mouthed a ‘thank you’ at the sky, before going back inside too.

Chapter Text

The first thing Lapis felt upon waking up was warmth. Her arms and legs were tangled in something – someone – and her heart instinctively jumpstarted. The shock subdued immediately when she realized that the limbs were too thin to be Jasper’s, and that’s when she remembered she’d been sharing her bed with someone else last night.

Finally daring to open her eyes, Lapis let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding when she saw Peridot’s face close. A smile slipped into her features easily and she took a moment to stare at her friend.

No, girlfriend now.

Lapis’ cheeks reddened at the thought and she let out a chuckle. It was so silly, that just a simple word could make her whole body tingle with such an amazing feeling. The butterflies went loose on her stomach as soon as she looked down at their position in the bed; Peri had her nose buried on Lapis’ neck, while an arm draped across her waist, holding her close. Their legs were perfectly wrapped up around each other and the bartender snored softly and blissfully. It was a sound Lapis would love to get used to.

This thought surprised her.

She wasn’t one to plan for the future with another person, but with Peridot it just felt… natural. Like she knew she would be there for her tomorrow, and the day after that, and for another month.

Dwelling on such thoughts so early in the morning was a bit suffocating, so Lapis started to move.

“Mornin’…” Peri exhaled against her neck and Lapis halted.

“Hey,” She smiled down at her tiny girlfriend. “Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”

“You didn’t…” The bartender yawned and pressed herself closer. “I wasn’t really asleep.”

Lapis shifted so she could get comfortable again and brought a hand to Peri’s hair, scratching there lightly. “You sure? You were snoring quite deeply.”

“Hmm… did that bother you?”

“Not at all,” Lapis’ eyes softened and she couldn’t hold herself back. Leaning in, she pressed a kiss to Peri’s forehead. “Nothing you do could ever bother me.”

Peri just grunted at the words and hugged her tightly. Lapis could feel her skin burn hotly against her own and laughed lightly. “Are you okay?”

“I’ll be okay once you are too,” The words flowed without previous thought and Lapis stopped her ministrations in her hair. Peridot had a momentarily delay and then opened her eyes nervously when she realized what she’d said. “W-wait, I didn’t mean—”

“No, it’s… it’s ok.” Lapis knew that she shouldn’t take it personally but her insecurities gnawed at the back of her head. In the span of a second the usual dark cloud of thoughts resurfaced and she wondered if she was being a burden to Peridot after all. Maybe she shouldn’t have told her about Malachite, maybe she should have come on this trip with Jasper alone, maybe—

“What I meant was,” Peri finally removed herself from the hug to look at her in the eyes. “I’ll be with you every step of the way today, and I can’t wait for this woman to be out of your life so I can make you happy.” She bit her bottom lip and searched for Lapis’ hand under the covers. “And I promise I will.”

Lapis stared at her for a bit and felt the tears prickling the sides of her eyes. She didn’t want to wake up crying today, but Peridot’s selfless devotion always made it hard to keep it together. So she did what she was able to do at that moment and captured the girl’s lips with her own in a morning kiss. Peri brought her hand to her sides instinctively and stopped when she realized that Lapis was shirtless under the sheets.

“Oh!” She gasped surprised after breaking the kiss. “Right! Clothes!”

“Huh?” Lapis frowned, confused.

“I forgot you were… I mean, that we had…” Peri stuttered, blushing like a school girl near a crush.

“Oh, that’s right…” Lapis looked down and shot her a devious smile. “Wait, why are you wearing clothes?”

“I… kinda woke up I the middle of the night.”

“Hmm, yeah?” Lapis’ eyes softened and she started to move forward to plant a kiss on the girl’s jawline.

“Yeah, t-then I was a bit cold, so I searched for my pajamas.” The kisses slowly moved to her neck. “Which were q-quite far away, by the way. It’s really hard to search for anything properly in the dark, you know.”

“I bet…” Lapis bit her collarbone softly and Peri brought both hands to her hair.

“S-so yeah that’s why— ah,” She arched her back upon feeling Lapis’ fingertips digging the inside of her thigh. “I’m wearing clothes.”

“I see.” Lapis moved up and whispered in her ear. “We should do something about that.”

It took a few seconds of pondering, but inevitably Peridot stopped talking and turned her head so she could steal another heated kiss.

Breakfast could wait.


“Are we all here? Let’s take attendance. Amethyst? Oh, that’s me! I’m here. Alright, next. Peridot?”

“You’re awfully cheerful,” Peri rubbed her eyes and yawned, leaning against Lapis. After meeting up at the hotel lobby, the group decided that they would go out and have breakfast together before facing the big thing no one was really looking forward to.

“Alright, grumpy Peridot is here. Lapis?”

“Here.” She decided to humor Amethyst and answered simply, smiling down at the tiny bartender who was still tired from their morning activities.

“See, Lapz knows how to behave nicely. Take some notes, Peridot.”

“Jesus Christ, can’t we just go? I’m starving.”

“Pearl?” Ame ignored her and turned around pretending to look for her boss, who was right behind her.

“Right here,” The woman responded with an affectionate smile, despite rolling her eyes.

“I know, you’re hard to miss.” Amethyst winked at her playfully and received a blush in return. Peridot and Lapis raised their eyebrows and eyed each other, but decided to ask later.

“Now… Jasper?”

“Yeah.” The tallest member of the group mumbled, clearly not in the mood for jokes.

You’re definitely hard to miss,” Ame whispered to herself, then finally called out the last person missing. “And Bismuth!”

“Yes, we’re all here, now let’s eat before you face something you wish you hadn’t.”

“Like what?”

“Like two starving rugby players,” Jasper pretty much growled, and everyone suddenly clammed their mouths and just nodded.

The restaurant they picked was pretty much empty and there was no line to order food. In a silent consensus, the group made way for Jasper and Bismuth to order first, then sat down. As soon as there was enough food in both player’s stomachs, they relaxed considerably. Bismuth even cracked a smile and started making jokes back to Amethyst, who was surprised at how fun she was.

Lapis and Pearl talked casually about nothing in particular. Pearl just wanted to take the girl’s thoughts away from her mother for as long as she could, so she made up topics quickly and effectively. Peridot inevitably started arguing with Amethyst at some point, and Bismuth joined in the teasing. Even Jasper snickered once or twice, and when Lapis heard the joyous sound coming from her, she blinked surprised.

The fact that they were both smiling moments before facing their worst nightmare again was surreal. Lapis looked around, taking in every detail of the faces of the people who were accompanying her, and felt inexplicably light.

Amethyst’s plump lips and purple streaks in her hair;

Pearl’s tattoos and sophisticated demeanor;

Bismuth’s rainbow-colored dreads and honest smile;

Jasper’s scars, tattoo, and sculptured muscles;

Peridot’s… everything.

Lapis realized that she hardly knew anything about these people, and yet they knew her entire life – that was the sole reason they were even there. A warm feeling rose to her chest and she tried to stop it, but the smile on her face was too genuine to hold back.

She felt someone squeezing her hand and looked down to see Peridot looking at her with a knowing expression.

“Thank you,” Lapis mouthed the words so no one would listen.

“You’re welcome.” Peridot mouthed back.

That was probably what having breakfast with your family felt like.


The hospital came into view as soon as they crossed the street, and the weight of the realization was jarring, to say the least.

Malachite was inside that building somewhere, waiting for them.

Lapis and Jasper immediately stopped walking as the building became visible, and the group looked back at them, worried. Bismuth walked over to her teammate and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder, asking her if she was okay. Peridot did the same with Lapis, intertwining their fingers in a lovely gesture. Lapis was sure she was having an out of body experience for a second, because her girlfriend’s touch was barely recognizable. She bit her lip and smiled crookedly down to Peridot, then moved her gaze towards Amethyst, as if asking for something.

Ame understood immediately, and walked towards her. “Okay, close your eyes.” She looked at Jasper. “You too.”

“What?” The athlete asked, a bit too briskly.

“Do it.” Lapis’ tone was serious, and Jasper sighed before complying.

“Good. Now breathe in slowly, and count to three…”

Pearl was stunned by how soothing Amethyst’s voice suddenly became and Peridot grinned proudly.

“Now exhale…” The two women followed the instructions. “That’s it. Now say your name out loud.”

“Lapis.”

“…Jasper.”

“What’s your name?”

“Lapis Lazuli.”

“Jasper.”

“And who are the people around you right now?”

“Amethyst, Peridot, Pearl, Bismuth and Jasper,” Lapis recited their names slowly and Jasper did the same after a hesitant pause, just replacing her name with Lapis’.

“And where are you right now? What is this place to you?”

“My home town.” Both sisters said at the same time.

“Good. Now breathe in and breathe out once more.” They did and Amethyst smiled. “Now open your eyes.”

Lapis felt the effects of the small meditation immediately and thanked the girl. She looked at Jasper, who mumbled something about that being a waste of time, but noticed how much more relaxed she was. Bismuth and Pearl looked at each other confused by what just happened, but Peridot quickly explained.

“It’s something Amethyst came up with to calm me down when I have panic attacks,” Her voice was sheepish. “It helps me get a grip on the world around me again, for some reason. I think it helped them, too.”

Lapis and Jasper exhaled again and started moving once more. Soon the group was inside the hospital and then paused, looking for someone to talk to. The lobby was filled with sick people, nurses and doctors rushing from one hall to another, never stopping and always with worried expressions in their faces. Some of them were a lot calmer and helped elderly people into their wheel chairs, or talked to children in an upbeat manner; there was a lot of contrasting actions going on in one place.

Pearl noticed that Lapis and Jasper didn’t want to ask for directions, so she stepped forward and took the role in their behalf. “Excuse me? We’re looking for a patient.”

“Oh, please talk to the receptionist over there,” The nurse pointed with her head and Pearl thanked her, taking the lead.

“Good morning, can I help you?” The receptionist was a lovely young girl with glasses way too big for her face, and greeted them with a beaming smile.

“Yes, we’re here to visit a patient.”

“Of course, what’s their name?”

Pearl looked over her shoulder and was about to ask when Lapis and Jasper stepped forward.

“Mala— Merga Lazuli.” Lapis nearly forgot her real name. She was visibly shivering, and the receptionist gave her a sympathetic look as she searched for the name on her computer.

“Oh, there she is. Miss Lazuli has requested that only two relatives visit her at a time. Which one of you wish to go?”

“We will.” Jasper answered, her voice nearly faltering.

“Very well. May I see your IDs?”

Both women grabbed their documents from their wallets in robotic movements and barely acknowledged the bureaucratic steps that would eventually lead them to the witch.

“May I ask what’s your relationship with the patient?”

“We’re her d-daughters.” Lapis couldn’t even say it without stuttering; it just sounded terribly wrong in her mouth.

“Alright, everything is clear. She will be on Room 404, just at the end of the hall on the 4th floor.”

“Thank you.”

Jasper and Lapis looked back once more, and the whole group smiled and waved, saying words of encouragement. Lapis couldn’t hold herself back and stepped forward, placing a kiss on Peri’s lips before walking away. “For luck.”

“We’ll be right here.” Peri whispered against her mouth and caressed Lapis’ face with the utmost affection. With a nod, the smoker finally turned around to see Jasper and Bismuth finishing their embrace with strong pats on each other’s backs.

“You got this, champion.”

“Yeah. Thank you, Bis.”

And with their goodbyes over, they entered the elevator, going up.

The elevator ride was silent and quick, but it felt terribly slow. Once the door opened and they stepped out, Lapis’ legs seemed to freeze on the spot. It was like her bones were suddenly rusted, and not even the world’s best oil would be able to make them work properly at the current situation. She bit her lip and looked over at Jasper, who was clearly feeling the same. She breathed deeply and forced herself to take the lead and get this over with.

“Come on. We’ll be quick.”

“No, we won’t.” Jasper replied with a tired expression. “There are a lot of things I want to tell her. Don’t you?”

“I… guess.” Lapis hadn’t even thought about what she wanted to tell the witch. Honestly, if she could help it, she’d rather not see her face ever again. “I don’t know.”

They were still standing in the hallway, and soon someone would probably show up and ask them if they were lost, so Lapis started moving. Jasper followed her helplessly and tried to calm her beating heart, to no avail. Malachite’s room was at the exact end of the hall, the number floating menacingly above their heads, and none of them wanted to open that door.

Lapis’ bottom lip was nearly bleeding from how much she’d been biting it in the past few minutes, so she licked it clean. “Okay… this is it.”

“…Wait,” Jasper reached for her wrist gently before she touched the door handle and Lapis stopped. “I need to tell you something. Before we go in.”

“What is it?”

“I…” Her voice cracked and she cleared her throat. “I love you.”

A silent pause hanged in the air for a couple of seconds before Lapis frowned. “What?”

“Yeah, I know, I could have said that better. Your girlfriend gave me this idea,” Jasper was actually blushing over how bad she was at expressing genuine feelings, and if Lapis didn’t know better, she would’ve thought that it was cute. “But I meant it.”

“Why do you always pick the worst possible moments to declare your feelings for me?” Lapis looked away, too awkward to face the athlete directly.

“N-no, not that type of love, idiot!” Jasper’s cheeks were officially red. “I meant as a—” She caught her tongue, not wanting to say it.

“Sister?” Lapis finished the sentence, looking down.

“…Yes,” She let out a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. “And I know that you hate that word, but that’s really how I feel about you. You can pretend we’re cousins, or anything else, as long as you’re aware that… that you’re family to me.” Jasper scratched her neck in a weird angle, and stared directly into Lapis’ eyes. “You’re the only one who’s always been there, always. Sure, I have my team to back me up, but when it comes down to it, no one has been through the same bullshit I have. No one else in the world can relate to these things but you. So I just wanted to let you know, before we face her. That I love you. And that all I’ve ever wanted was for you to be happy.”

With a sharp sigh, Jasper finally felt her shoulders relaxing. It was like taking a weight out of her chest, and even if Lapis didn’t care much for what she was saying, at least she managed to spill it in a truthful way. She would have to thank Peridot later.

Lapis reached out for Jasper’s tattooed arm and caressed the scar gently. Then she slowly brought the hand up to her face and left it hanging in the air, waiting for permission. Jasper blinked twice then closed her eyes, allowing Lapis’ calloused fingers to gently trace the scar’s pattern. Once she was finished, Lapis cupped Jasper’s cheek in the most affectionate way she’s ever had.

“I’m sorry for scarring you.”

Despite having apologized many times, it had never felt as genuine as in this moment.

“I forgive you.” Jasper smiled. The moment was so fragile that it felt like glass, and Lapis finally removed her hand from the scar and placed it on the door handle.

“Let’s go, sis.”

Jasper felt like she could cry.

Then both of them opened the door together.


The air was chilling. That was the first thing that hit them – the coldness of the room. Lapis wasn’t sure that such temperature was appropriate for a sick old woman, but she had other things to worry about. Once the door was closed, someone shifted from their position on the bed.

Then they saw her.

“Well…” Her voice sounded shriveled. “I wasn’t expecting an actual response.”

Her slow sentence fit well with the environment, since everything seemed to be happening in slow motion.

Malachite was there. In front of them.

And even looking like a decaying corpse, she was still as terrifying as she’s always been.

Perhaps even more.

“Mother.” Lapis and Jasper said in unison, and hated themselves for it. Calling her by this title was such a reflex that they felt like getting therapy the moment their mouths pronounced that word.

“My wonderful… wonderful daughters. You’ve grown so much.” Malachite tried to lift her arms to ask for a hug, but the tubes hanging from it prevented her from doing so. “Come closer.”

Lapis and Jasper exchanged looks before approaching carefully, barely even taking three steps.

“A bit more.”

“We can hear you from here,” Lapis was surprised at her own voice. She held onto Jasper’s arm for support, and received a subtle squeeze on her hand.

“Oh… I see.” She sounded so sad and disappointed. Lapis dug her nails onto Jasper’s tattoo, because she knew what was going through her head as well.

“You don’t want to disappoint mother, do you?”

She refused to let this sentence control this meeting.

“We’re here.” Jasper was the one who talked this time. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Must you be so brute with your sick mother?” Malachite was still so good with her manipulations that Jasper almost laughed.

Seeing her from up close like this now was honestly disturbing. This woman had always been the face of their nightmares for a decade, but now she looked… weak. For their whole lives, Malachite’s presence towered above them like a storm that never seemed to truly go away. They’ve been picturing her as the same woman of their childhood for such a long time; like an eternal deity sitting on her throne, timeless and immortal.

But now?

She looked human.

And the more Lapis and Jasper stared at her, the more details they captured from her wrinkled, pale face, and the less scared they became.

“You should be thankful that we are even talking to you right now,” Lapis felt a surge of confidence and anger mixed up together. She felt angry at Malachite for playing her games on Jasper, and she felt angry at herself for being so afraid of a person that was too weak to even lift her arms. She knew that her mother’s greatest weapon was her silver tongue, but Lapis was not going to fall for anything today. And not ever again.

“I do not wish to argue,” Malachite gave up trying to discipline her daughter. “I just wanted to make up for lost time.”

“There is no lost time. We only started to truly live when we left.”

“On the streets, you mean?” The woman frowned. “Away from the warmth and safety of your home? It’s really a good thing that I found you and fixed your lives for you. And yet, the first thing you do when we meet again is to be rude. I have yet to hear a ‘thank you’.”

“That is the last thing you’re going to hear from us,” Jasper stepped forward, baring her teeth. All the hesitation and uneasiness vanished, and now there were just 10 years of pent up anger. “You didn’t fix anything, Merga, you’re the reason we are broken. You’re the reason we had to sleep on the streets, you’re the reason we’ve had constant nightmares about faceless crowds chanting our names, and you’re the reason I’ve spent twenty years of my life unable to have a healthy relationship with the only person in this world who ever mattered to me!”

The witch’s face took on a somber glint. “I am Malachi—”

“Malachite is the monster you made up to haunt us and make us afraid of ever leaving.” Lapis interrupted, nearly spitting on her face. “And I don’t give a shit if you created this persona to cope with something else, because you molded us into people we never wanted to be for your own sick profit. You’re not our mother, and you should consider yourself lucky for not being in jail.”

The silence cut deep as Malachite gaped at the words. It was like she wasn’t expecting her perfect little experiments to turn on her like this. With not another word, she sunk deeply into the mattress, looking up at the ceiling. The sounds of the machines by her side were clear for the first time since the two girls entered the room, and it looked like her heartbeat rate had gone up.

“You think I’m a monster.”

This caught Lapis off guard. All of her fury dissipated in the air and she took a step back. She had no idea why that sentence had messed with her head like it did; maybe it was the completely defeated tone that the woman had mumbled that. With a tired sigh, Lapis saw two chairs on the side of her bed and walked over to sit down. Jasper followed her, a bit confused, but didn’t question it. They were now eye-level with the witch, but there was no fear or anger in their bodies anymore.

“…I think you are a bad person.” Lapis’ voice tone was quiet and simple.

“I see,” Malachite turned her head and looked at Jasper. “You too?”

“Yes.” Jasper replied.

The witch’s eyes were downcast and she closed them for a long time. Lapis couldn’t stop looking at her; that was the closer she’s ever willingly been to her face, and it was funny realizing that she was a flawed human being like the rest of the world. Merga was just a bitter, twisted old woman at the end of her life now. There wasn’t much she could do to hurt them anymore.

“Do you wish me to apologize?” She asked finally.

Lapis pondered for a bit, but ultimately, she knew the answer. “No. I wouldn’t forgive you, anyway.”

“Jasper?” Malachite’s throat was dry.

“I’m the same.”

“…Very well.” She sighed. “May I ask you a harmless favor?”

“It depends.”

“Could you pass me the cup of water next to you?”

Lapis shifted her gaze to the desk by her side and nodded. She grabbed the glass and waited for Malachite to press the button on the bed that allowed her to sit up. Her arms struggled to even move up, and Lapis sighed. “Here.”

She got up and pressed the cup against the woman’s lips, helping her to drink.

Malachite was truly dying.

“Thank you.” After finishing swallowing she lay back down. “…I doubt I’ll live to see tomorrow. I may not have any right to ask that of you, but… it would please me immensely if you’d tell me how your lives have been going. Jobs, relationships, anything you wish.”

The sisters exchanged looks, wondering if they should.

In the end, they knew that those were probably going to be the last words Malachite was going to hear.

So they complied.

“I’ll go first, then.” Lapis started.

And the first thing she told her, was about Peridot.


Peridot’s leg was shaking up and down as she waited in the hospital lobby. Lapis had been gone for almost an hour now, and she was starting to get worried. Oh, who was she kidding, she was worried from the moment the girl vanished into that elevator.

“Want some?” Amethyst offered her a healthy snack protein bar and Peri ate the whole thing in pretty much one bite. “Wow, slow down Speedy Gonzales.”

“Shouldn’t they be back already? I thought they didn’t want to talk to her. What if she ate them??”

“What.”

“She’s a witch, she might’ve gobbled them up or something!” Peri started biting her nails and Amethyst rolled her eyes, grabbing her hands before she bit through raw skin.

“Peridot, they’re talking to a sick old woman who’s got a terminal disease. She did not eat them.”

“You don’t understand how frightening this woman is,” Her brain had been playing Lapis’ story about her life and Malachite in a loop for the past hour, and she was sure she was going to go insane any moment now. “She might have a trick up her sleeve, or—”

Before she could finish the sentence, Lapis and Jasper came into view. Peridot got up and ran towards them with a happy yelp, diving into her girlfriend’s arms without a second thought. “You’re back!”

“We’re back,” Lapis was smiling, which was a good sign. She saw the rest of the group surrounding them and could pretty much see the question hanging from everyone’s minds. “It was… intense. But I think… I think we can finally close this chapter once and for all.”

Jasper nodded in agreement, and Bismuth got worried. “Is she…?”

“She slept in the middle of our conversation,” The athlete replied. “The machine was still counting her heartbeat, so she was still okay when we left.”

“Oh, thank goodness…” Pearl didn’t know how to react accordingly, but she never wished for anyone’s death.

“Yeah, well… that was that.” Lapis shifted uncomfortably. “We can get out of here now.”

Peridot smiled at her and nodded, pulling her hand with intertwined fingers. “Let’s go home.”

That word filled Lapis with an enormous sense of warmth, and she couldn’t help a grin. “Yeah… home.”

After leaving the hospital, Jasper guided everyone back to the station so they could buy bus tickets to return. Peridot stopped for a bit, letting the others walk in front of them, and turned to Lapis. “Um, I just wanted to say that I’m really proud of you.”

The blue-haired girl blinked and smiled. “I couldn’t have done this without you.”

“I—” Peri was about to say that she didn’t do anything special, but she knew that she had. Lapis valued her as someone incredibly important in her life, and she didn’t want to invalidate these feelings. “I’m happy to help.”

“You did more than just help, Peridot. You… you changed my whole life. And I’m not even saying that to be cheesy,” She blushed and hugged the tiny bartender, burying her nose into her hair. “One day I’ll be able to do this properly.”

“Do what?” Peri hugged her back, inhaling her scent.

“The whole… demonstrating feelings thing.”

Peridot chuckled lightly against her chest. “You already do. Oh! I just remembered something.”

She pulled back and got on her tiptoes to kiss her. Lapis melted against her mouth, digging her fingers through the bartender’s messy locks and pulling her closer. Peridot broke the kiss for a second to whisper.

“I forgot to tell you,” And touched foreheads with her. “I love you.”

Lapis inhaled deeply and tried not to spill any tears, but failed. She laughed and kissed her again, and again, and they only stopped kissing when Amethyst yelled at them from the other side of the road.

She felt…

Free.

Chapter Text

The news came two days later.

Lapis was watering her cactus on the kitchen balcony when her phone rang, the number unknown. Deep down, before even picking up the phone, she knew what this call was going to be about. Steven was thankfully at home, and after hanging up, Lapis walked over him and just hugged the boy tightly. He was a bit confused at first, but would never deny a hug from anyone, so he let Lapis’ arms encircle his back for a long, long time.

She pulled back after a while and sighed, rubbing her eyes.

Steven didn’t know if there were tears in them, but that didn’t really matter. Lapis looked up at the ceiling and then around the room, as if breathing in the details of the place for the very first time. Then she got up from her kneeling position and smiled down softly at Steven.

“Come have a tour of the house with me.”

The boy returned the smile and grabbed her hand, and they just walked around the place, checking every single room.

There were a few doors that hadn’t ever been opened, so they opened them. They were all just dusty empty rooms without even a lamp to bright it up. Lapis’ carelessness for that place really showed, but she didn’t feel guilty about it. That house had never been a place she’d felt at home.

After meeting Peridot and spending time at the pub and at her house, Lapis finally felt like she belonged somewhere. It was a nice feeling, and she wished she could feel like this every day.

She’d been thinking about that for a while now.

A few moments later the house tour was done, and Lapis excused herself to the garden for a bit. Steven allowed her some space and walked back in, putting on his tiny apron to cook some lunch.

A part of him felt like things were about to change.

It felt like a goodbye of sorts.


As for Jasper, she was at the gym, getting back to her training routine. Her new phone buzzed on her back pocket and she stopped the treadmill with ragged breaths. The call was short and simple, and Jasper thanked the person on the other side in a flat voice. She thought about calling Lapis, but reconsidered. Instead, she walked back to her locker and grabbed her things, calling someone else.

“Hey, Bis? It’s me,” Jasper looked at herself in the gym’s bathroom mirror. “Can we hang out? I—” It was weird, calling a friend and asking favors like this. “I need to get my mind off things.”

Bismuth barely let her finish before yelling a ‘I’ll be there in a sec!’ and hanging up. Jasper smiled softly at that and left the gym, heading home.

She needed to take a really long shower and think for a while.


The pub was crowded that night, and Lapis managed a smile as soon as she walked in. Something about going back to that place was really refreshing to her, even though there were sweaty bodies everywhere and the booming music didn’t allow for thoughts to venture too far. Maybe that was one of the reasons she liked it so much.

Squishing her way to the bar was easy enough, and soon she was settled. She saw Sadie first, and the girl stopped on her tracks to give Lapis a bear hug. The touch lingered for a long time, and Lapis was glad for it. Sadie whispered things like ‘welcome back’ and ‘we missed you’, and Lapis felt her shoulders relaxing and her chest fluttering.

Jenny, Buck and Sour Cream were next. The trio wasn’t drunk this time, and the three of them all but tackled her in a group hug, smiling and laughing contently. Lapis, who was not used to so much genuine affection at once, felt a bit suffocate by all of it, but was truly happy with the gesture. Buck asked her if she was cool, and Lapis had to shake her head with a soft smile.

“Not yet. But I’ll be.” It was the truth, and Buck appreciated her for that. Jenny kissed her cheek fondly and Sour Cream removed his party hat and placed it on Lapis’ head. She giggled and thanked them, waving goodbye and promising to meet them on the dance floor soon.

Her eyes scanned for the one person she wanted to see the most right now, and soon found her.

Tiny, meticulous, quick, fidgety, beautiful.

It still shocked her the amount of love she felt for that girl.

“Hey, stranger.” Lapis reached out for her and Peridot’s eyes immediately started shining.

“Hey!” She bent over for a kiss, instinctively. Lapis caressed her cheek once they were done and Peridot frowned. “Is everything ok?”

Of course she would notice.

“Not really,” Lapis brushed her thumb on Peri’s lips. “But we can talk about that later. Can I crash at your place tonight?”

“Of course,” Peridot nodded and excused herself. “I’ll just deliver this beer. Can I get you anything?”

“A Blue Ha—” Then she stopped. “Actually, get me something green.”

The meaning wasn’t lost in translation and Peridot softened her smile.

She didn’t want to get drunk that night, so the green drink was the only thing in her stomach. After that, she’d ordered some fries and Sadie winked at her as the plate arrived. She saw a piece of paper under the plate and put it on her pocket to read later.

The night went by and Lapis decided to dance for a bit. Moving her body to the sound of music and blinking lights never failed to make her fell light. It was one of the places that she felt she could float; like a mindless soul, not searching for anything, and yet absorbing everything.

Some girls approached her and they danced together. One man smiled so brightly at her that she could sense his happiness on her very core. A person, who didn’t look like either a boy or a girl, grabbed her hand and twirled her around to the sound of the bass. Lapis laughed and looked at them, and they nodded at her with a wink. She loved this – that knowing look exchanged between you and a complete stranger. She didn’t know what they meant by that wink, but she understood, and they did too.

Lapis looked up at the ceiling where the bright lights converged, and smiled softly. She followed one red circle with her eyes for a while and when it vanished, a yellow one appeared instead. It was hypnotizing; Lapis didn’t need alcohol in her system to feel the way she was feeling right now. When a hand sneaked around her shoulders, she looked around to see Amethyst, surprisingly.

“May I have this dance?”

Lapis laughed really hard at that for some reason and grabbed the girl’s hand. The song was really chill at that point and Lapis turned her back to Ame’s front, and the girl hugged her from behind. Their hips moved in sync and Lapis lulled her head back so it could fall on the shorter girl’s shoulder. She felt enveloped by so much love at that moment, a love she never knew could even exist.

For the majority of her life, Lapis thought that you either loved someone or hated someone – you either loved someone enough to fuck them, or hated someone enough to think about every bad thing they did to you 24/7. There was no in between, no platonic love, no friendship; nothing that could compare to what she was feeling with Amethyst at this moment. Lapis finally understood what Ame meant when she said she loved Peridot.

After meeting the bartender and her friends, Lapis learned so many things. Like different types of love a person could feel.

She felt an urgent need to call a certain someone.

Lapis faced Amethyst again. “I’ll be right back.”

“You better be,” Ame poked her playfully and Lapis walked outside.

Her phone told her that it was 3am, but she needed to make this call right now. So she dialed the number. And waited.

It rang once.

Twice.

It didn’t ring the third time.

“Lapis?”

“Jasper,” She thought that her throat would feel dry, that she would be shaking, nervous, anxious. Calling Jasper had always been one of the hardest things in her life, and a chore she tried to avoid as much as possible. So it was shocking to her when she felt her own cheeks widening in a smile. “Thank you.”

“…Huh?” The confused tone was so pure. Lapis grabbed her chest, pulling her shirt and smiling harder.

“Thank you for being by my side. Thank you for looking after me all these years. Thank you for putting up with my shit when I knew I was just making things worse for the both of us, just… thank you, Jasper.”

The silence was brutal, and yet Lapis couldn’t stop smiling.

“Fuck, I wanted to apologize too, but I feel like I already apologized too much. We both have apologized too much, and I’m done with that. I just wanted to call you to say thank you this time,” She blurted the next sentence with a sobbing, breathless laugh. “Thank you for being my big sister.”

More silence followed, and then, finally, an answer came. “Are you drunk?”

Lapis would have been mad if she couldn’t practically hear the smile in her sister’s voice. She knew she was crying, too, because that idiot couldn’t hold a sob for the life of her.

“I’m not, promise.” She leaned her back against the stone wall and cried too. “Are you crying, you big baby?”

“S-shut up, you are too!” Jasper was laughing.

“Yeah,” Lapis rolled her eyes. “I am. Fuck, we’re doing the same exact expression right now, I bet.”

“We are,” Jasper’s voice was raspy, and yet so soft. “That’s kinda messed up, isn’t it?”

“What is?”

“Malachite just died and here we are, just— laughing and crying on the phone.”

Lapis nodded to no one. She’d been thinking about that ever since the call in the morning. Her mother had just died, and yet she didn’t know what she should feel. She tried to cry, tried to be sad, tried to be upset. But she couldn’t.

So she realized that she didn’t own that woman shit.

“We feel what we feel,” Lapis looked up at the stars. “We don’t need to feel anything for the sake of anyone.”

“And what do we feel?”

She didn’t have to think about that answer. “Free.”

Jasper let out a breathy chuckle and they stood in silence for a while. This was nice, Lapis thought; being in each other’s company without exchanging words. Too many words had been said already, so they just let their emotions talk for now.

“Free,” Jasper spoke up suddenly. “Yeah, sounds about right.”

“Yeah…” Lapis sighed. “I just wanted to tell you that. I’ll hang up now. Call me if you need anything.”

These words hit Jasper really hard and her eyes watered again. “Okay. Thank you for this. Night, sis.”

“Good night,” She smiled. “Love you.”

Jasper let out a breath. “Love you too.”

Lapis hang up and walked back in.

It was the lightest she had ever, ever felt.


Ragged breaths filled the room as hands and tongue finished working and a final high-pitched groan made its way out of a certain bartender’s lips. She crashed on the bed breathing heavily and Lapis crawled back up on her elbows, smiling down at her girlfriend. “You good?”

“Y-yeah…” Peri swallowed in a daze. “Very good.” She turned on her side to press a lazy kiss on Lapis’ elbow, since it was the first thing in reach, and sighed happily.

Lapis grinned and kissed her hairline, then lay down with her as they basked in the afterglow. It was past 7am, Peridot was probably exhausted after work, and yet she didn’t complain one bit after getting home and sensing Lapis’ affectionate touches. Lapis had asked her again and again if she was too tired, if she wanted to sleep, and Peri reassured her every time. She loved this girl so much.

Lapis ran her fingers up and down her girlfriend’s ribs absent-mindedly. “Kay.”

The quietness of the room was nice, and Lapis could see the specs of dust floating on the thin sunlight coming through the window. Her mind started roaming to comfortable places and thoughts, which didn’t happen very often, but that was natural around Peridot.

“What did you want to talk about?” Peri mumbled against the pillow with her eyes closed.

“Hmm?” Lapis frowned a bit, then remembered. “Oh. We can wait till you’ve gotten enough sleep.”

“You can tell me,” Peri’s voice was so soft and calm. “I’m listening. Always listening to you.”

Lapis thought for a bit, but eventually gave in. “Well… Malachite passed away.”

Peri opened her eyes slowly. “Oh… I see.” She wriggled closer, tucking her head under Lapis’ chin. “And how are you?”

“I’m… feeling pretty good.” She wrapped an arm around the tiny bartender and squeezed. “I wasn’t certain on what I should feel. I thought that it was bad to feel happy after someone passed away, but… now I decided that I don’t mind. I’m not happy because she died. I’m just… feeling good because of other things.”

“What things?”

“Well… going back to the pub. Talking to my friends again. Dancing. Seeing you. Kissing you, sleeping with you, cuddling with you. This moment right now feels pretty good. So why shouldn’t I feel happy, you know?”

Peridot nodded with a hum as Lapis’ fingers played with her hair. “I also called Jasper.”

“What did you tell her?”

“I thanked her,” Lapis reminisced her sister’s voice on the phone and smiled. “For taking care of me this whole time even though we made each other’s life hell. I know I’ve been a shitty sister, so I thanked her for being my big sister. She cried, but she was happy. I cried, too.”

Peri smiled against her collarbone. “You called her sister…”

“Yeah…” Lapis blinked and touched her forehead on top of Peri’s head, inhaling her scent. “I did. It doesn’t feel wrong nowadays.”

“I’m so happy for you two…” Her tone was so genuine that Lapis felt like her heart would explode of love.

“I’m happy too.”

They drifted into a deep sleep after that, and Lapis never let go of Peridot.


Peridot woke up after her girlfriend, which was a first. Usually Lapis would stay in bed for a long while, so she wondered what time it was. Checking her clock, she saw that it was 3pm, so she yawned and got up as well, stretching her tired body. Peri put on some pants and her alien shirt and brushed her teeth, washing her face afterwards. Exiting her room, she started making her way to the kitchen, then halted. There was strange smell in the air, but it wasn’t a bad one.

Was Lapis… cooking?

“Morning, lazy pants.” Lapis’ voice was cheerful as soon as she spotted the bartender, and Peri tried to make sense of what was happening. Her girlfriend was next to the oven grilling something that smelled really good. Her hair was messy, the TV was on some space documentary and there were two plates on the kitchen table.

“Morning,” Peridot walked up to her and peeked. “What are you doing?”

“Grilled cheese with eggs,” She smiled. “Amethyst left a really sweet note that started with ‘Good morning, my favorite two people in the world’ and ended with ‘Stop fucking in the morning or I swear to god’.”

Peridot blushed, but Lapis just laughed.  “Are you hungry?”

“I am!” The bartender sat down on the table, allowing her girlfriend to continue cooking.

“They’ll be done in a minute.” Lapis turned around and bent over to kiss her. “Let me spoil you today.”

“Not going to say no to that,” Peri smiled dumbly and kept her eyes glued to Lapis’ back.

The whole situation was so nice and domestic that Peridot felt her stomach fluttering. Her brain started creating all of these scenarios and planning for the future out of nowhere, and all of them included waking up next to Lapis everyday and doing pointless couple-y things like this. The blue-haired girl looked so happy and high-spirited at that moment in time. It was like watching the sun coming up after a really long night. It was breathtaking.

They had late-brunch together and then moved to the living room to watch a bit of TV. Lapis had created a legitimate interest in space documentaries and was learning more and more each day. Peridot told her that they could visit the planetarium someday, and Lapis’ eyes widened like a puppy ready to go for a walk.

After the show was over, Lapis excused herself to make a call. Peridot didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but it wasn’t like Lapis was hiding. She called Steven and told him not to wait for her, but reassured the boy that she was okay and feeling very well. Apparently satisfied with her cheerful voice, Steven hang up, and Lapis dropped back down in the couch.

Peridot told her that she needed to buy some groceries in the supermarket, and asked if she wanted to come along. Lapis didn’t even think twice and nodded happily. So they went out, picking fresh vegetables and frozen food for Peri’s home, and Lapis had to constantly remind herself that she wasn’t living with her.

“I think Steven will like these…” She mumbled, putting some cookies on the cart. Peridot was about to grab her wallet when Lapis stopped her.

“Let me,” She took her credit card out of her pocket.

“What? No, it’s okay!”

“I’ll spoil you today, remember?” Lapis wouldn’t take no for an answer and paid for Peridot’s products.

“Thank you…” Peri blushed. “Only if I get to spoil you next time, though!”

“Deal.”

They walked back home, holding hands and plastic bags, and the evening sky was beautiful. The streetlights were starting to glow, some birds flew away taking the fresh wind with them, and people passed by them walking their dogs.

Everything was so perfect.

Lapis’ life right now, was perfect.


“So, can this be considered a date?” Amethyst asked with a smirk as both sat down at their restaurant table for two.

“Depends,” Pearl answered placing a napkin on her lap. “On what’s going to happen at the end of this night.”

“Oh, is that so?” Ame’s heart leaped a beat and she loved the thrill those words gave her. “Guess we’ll see, then.”

The two co-workers had arranged this sort of fancy dinner date so they could, as Pearl said, ‘see where this goes’. They had yet to kiss, but at least her boss knew the extent of Amethyst’s feelings for her. She had a crush and wanted a kiss, and maybe more if the mood was right. Right now, though, it was just really nice to spend time alone with Pearl like this.

“Have you been here before?” Amethyst asked taking a look at the menu. The dishes were more expensive than she thought, but also looked extremely appetizing.

“Just once with Garnet. They have a really good pasta selection.”

“Neat, I could go for some spaghetti,” Ame put the menu down and waited for Pearl to pick a plate. In the meantime, she wanted to ask something that’d been bugging her for a while. “Can I make a blunt question?”

“Go ahead.”

“You and Garnet… were you ever a thing?”

Pearl nearly dropped her menu and waved her hand negatively. “N-no, no, no, no, not ever! We’re just really good friends.”

“Oh, okay. I was just curious, is all.” Amethyst was intrigued by the hasty answer, but decided to drop it.

After choosing their dishes, the waitress noted them down and left. Amethyst then started talking about various pointless topics with her boss, and was met with equally pointless answers that didn’t demand further explanations. She found out many things about Pearl that she found endearing; like the fact that she really liked puzzles, knitting, and had a pet cat named Lion. Other things included her favorite artist, musician, and current series she was obsessed with.

“Never watched that one, but they say it’s really good.” Amethyst said with a grin.

“Oh, it’s phenomenal!” Their plates arrived at that point and they thanked the waitress. “Thank you— the themes of the show are so intriguing and it really makes you think, you know? Also, the actress who plays the protagonist is incredible…”

As she rattled on, Amethyst regarded her with fondness. The spaghetti was good, but nothing compared to the glint in Pearl’s eyes as she talked about something she liked. It was that raw passion in the artist that had attracted Amethyst so much, from day one. She remembered the way Pearl described her shop and its history when they first met, and it was right there that Ame was struck by Cupid’s arrow, as she put it. Of course, her looks weren’t to be ignored either.

Pearl was just so pretty.

“We should watch it together sometime.” Amethyst told her after a while.

“Oh, are you sure? I already watched most of the episodes.”

“Even better! You can explain me the hard stuff. I like watching series with experts.”

“I’m hardly an expert,” Pearl chuckled. “Just another fan.”

“Don’t belittle yourself, you already know a lot more than I do.”

Pearl was about to argue, but realized that the girl was paying her a compliment. “Alright, Miss Smarty-pants.”

“I could be Miss Smarty-no-pants.” Ame winked at her suggestively, and for once Pearl wasn’t caught by surprise.

“Keep playing your cards right and you could be.”

This time it was Ame’s fork that nearly dropped. This whole exchange was exciting and pretty hot, but Amethyst felt like something was off. Still, she decided to keep playing along as the night went by, and was met with many nice surprises along the way.

It was like Pearl was a whole other person suddenly.


Amethyst didn’t know exactly when things shifted from casual to this, but the taste of Pearl’s tongue in her mouth was stopping her from thinking clearly. The taller woman parted for a second to close the door behind them, but soon pressed Ame against the wall again, ravishing her mouth like crazy. And sure, usually her dates would end with a goodnight kiss and an invitation to come in, but she knew Pearl better than this.

“W-wait,” Amethyst pushed her gently by the shoulders.

“What?” Pearl asked, breathless. “Isn’t this what you wanted?”

“Fuck yes, but— something is weird.” Looking at Pearl right in the eyes, Amethyst placed a hand on her cheek. “Is this what you want?”

Pearl avoided her intense stare and looked away. “I’m the one kissing you, aren’t I?”

“Yeah, but… it feels… forced…?” Ame didn’t want to offend her, so she tried to choose her words carefully. “I’m not saying I’m not enjoying it, I really am, and if I’m full of shit then please tell me to shut up, it’s just that…”

“That what?” Pearl looked mad suddenly, and Amethyst flinched.

“It feels like you’re trying to be something you’re not for my sake. That’s all.”

The way Amethyst said that, seriously and concerned, caught Pearl off balance. She opened her mouth once, then twice, but ultimately closed it and sighed, getting off of the shorter girl. Pearl moved to sit down on her couch, feeling defeated.

“…I’m sorry. You’re right, I don’t usually do… this.”

Ame moved to get comfortable next to her and placed a hand on the small of her back, rubbing soothing circles.

“I haven’t had a relationship since… well, ever. I’ve only ever had eyes for Rose, and when she passed away I never felt like pursuing anything. You’re the first person who actually showed genuine interest in me.”

“Bullshit,” The word was blurted out of reflex and Ame bit her tongue. “I m-mean, look at you! You’re trying to tell me no one ever tried to ask you out?”

“A few strangers in bars, sure, but that’s all they were. Strangers.” Pearl fidgeted with her knees. “With you I have at least some sort of connection. We’ve talked, shared our interests. Hell, we even slept in the same bed and know the same people. I feel… comfortable around you.”

Amethyst nodded.

“But you’re so… much more experienced than I am. I felt intimidated. You’ve slept and kissed so many people, and never fell in love with any of them, while I just fell madly in love with one and nothing ever came out of it. I thought that… I wouldn’t be enough for you.” Pearl laughed weakly. “I didn’t want you to lose interest in me. So, I tried to be… wild, if you will.”

Not a word was exchanged for a while, then Amethyst got up and stood right in front of Pearl. She put a finger under her chin and tilted her head upwards, so their eyes could meet.

“I’m not experienced with love, either. You’re way ahead of me in this regard. And I’m never going to expect anything from you, Pearl. I didn’t get a huge crush on you because of some weird projection of you I made up in my mind,” She smiled, cupping the woman’s cheek. “I like you because you’re… you. Passionate, diligent, honest, a tad awkward and a bit of a nerd.”

“Excuse me?”

“Come on, puzzles and knitting? That’s adorable.”

“They are exercises for the mind!” Pearl blushed.

“My point exactly,” Amethyst giggled. “And I love that about you. And yeah, the fact that we do have a connection makes everything a lot scarier for me. But… I want to try.”

Pearl blinked, confused. “Try?”

This time Amethyst blushed. “Y-yeah, like… doing this. Um, hanging out more. Going to more dates, just the two of us, maybe? Then kissing for a bit? But really kissing, not just forcing a kiss you’re not ready for. If you want to, of course.”

It took her a while, but Pearl slowly frowned. “Amethyst, are you… asking me out?”

Ame froze. “Um… maybe?” Then she slapped herself. “No, fuck that. Yes, I am. Pearl, do you wanna date?”

“Exclusively?”

“Uh— s-sure. Just… you and me.”

“Like girlf—”

“Okay, don’t say the G word! Just— yes or no, before I freak.”

It took her a moment, but in the end Pearl smiled fondly and felt her chest about to burst. “I’d love to.”

Amethyst took a deep breath and nodded, trying really hard to process what she just did. And she was about to fall face first on the floor when Pearl cupped her cheek this time and got closer. “Can I kiss you?”

“You want to?”

“I really want to,” She whispered against Amethyst’s lips and finally, finally pressed their mouths together. This time it was gentle and sweet, and every single doubt that was clouding Amethyst’s mind vanished, and a very unfamiliar feeling in her chest replaced them.

For the first time, Ame wanted to kiss a specific pair of lips a lot more than just once.

Chapter Text

“Careful not to trip,” Lapis offered a hand, but Peridot was too focused on her steps to pay her any attention.

“How do you even climb this thing in the dark so quickly?” There were bumps everywhere she stepped, and the pile of garbage was a wobbly mess at best.

Peridot was sure that that particular place was not designed to hold two people – actually, she was positive that the spot wasn’t designed at all. It just happened to grow as piles and piles of trash and boxes accumulated over the years, and somehow it turned into a (kind of almost somewhat) stable mountain of things.

Lapis chuckled. “I got used to it. Know exactly where to put my feet by now.”

“Yeah, well, you are much more agile than I’ll ever be- whoa!” Peri’s sentence was brought to a halt when she accidentally crushed a doll’s head that went rolling down. Lapis was immediately by her side, grabbing her forearm so the tiny bartender wouldn’t fall. “T-thanks.”

“Peridot, it’s completely safe. The pile won’t crumble under your feet, trust me.” Lapis was smirking now, and Peri wanted to believe her, but her sense of self-preservation was a thousand times bigger than trust at the moment.

“O-of course. Safe.”

“You’re taking forever to climb because you’re trying to measure your weight. Just step anywhere with enough force and you’ll be fine.”

Peridot mumbled something, but tried. Impressively enough, when her foot touched the ground again, she felt a lot more stable than before. “Oh.”

“See?” Lapis grinned and let go of her arm.

“W-wait, no!”

“Come on, I’ll wait for you at the top.”

“Lapis!” She suddenly felt lost again and bent over to grab something and find her equilibrium. “Nooooo…”

And alright, maybe she was exaggerating, the top wasn’t that far away. A few measured steps and careful calculations later and Peridot finally managed to reach her girlfriend’s side. She sat down, still feeling uneasy and breathing heavily. “You abandoned me! How could you.”

“You’re sounding like Amethyst.”

“…Fair enough.”

Lapis laughed and pressed a kiss to her cheek, intertwining their fingers. Once Peri’s heart calmed down, she smiled back and rested her head on Lapis’ shoulder.

The clouds obfuscating the full moon finally floated away and the junkyard became visible. The illumination was beautiful despite the place they found themselves in, and looking at the vast wasteland from this high up was breathtaking. The pile allowed Peridot to see Amethyst’s usual spot, more piles of cars and junk, and even the gates of the junkyard – the place where the supposed security guards were watching the place 24/7. She failed to see anyone, however.

“Wow,” Peri murmured, eyes scanning the place. “I get why you like it here so much.”

“Hm.” Lapis nodded, lost in thought. There were a thousand things swirling in her mind, and she couldn’t pick one to focus on. She smiled lazily, shoving them away, and pointed with her finger. “There.”

“Huh?”

“There’s where I first saw you.”

Peri’s eyes shifted to Amethyst’s spot down below and her heart tightened with a nice feeling. “Oh, that’s right. Although I think I’m the one who saw you first.”

“No, you didn’t. You two had a fire going in the middle of the darkness, I saw that before even climbing.”

“Yeah, but did you see the me first, or the fire?”

“Actually, I think I saw Amethyst first.”

Peridot shoved her to the side and Lapis laughed out loud at that. Reminiscing the weird first encounter the both of them had was always a nice activity. Despite just seeing flickers of orange light, Peridot was sucked into Lapis immediately. She remembered exactly what she’d felt, too, and the words assimilated with this mysterious girl.

“Blue. And some freckles, I think. Brief. Like a shooting star.”

“You were gorgeous under the cigarette light…” The words left Peri’s mouth unintentionally and she blushed. “I m-mean, you still are. Cigarette or no cigarette!”

Lapis giggled. “Thanks.”

That’s when Peridot noticed something that she honestly should’ve realized a lot sooner.

Lapis hadn’t been smoking lately.

In fact, she hasn’t seen a cigarette near the girl ever since they came back from the trip. Peridot wondered if she should ask if things were okay, or if she should just leave it alone. Maybe this was something Lapis wanted to do on her own? Peri didn’t want to pry. But then again, what if she needed help with something, but was afraid to ask? Maybe Lapis didn’t want to bother her with trivial matters. Peridot wanted to tell her that nothing regarding her was trivial at all, and that she’d always be willing to help, no matter what. But then again—

“Wanna ask me something?” Lapis’ voice snapped her out of it.

“O-oh, um… not really…?”

“Well, that’s convincing.” She laughed and kissed the top of her head. “Go ahead, it’s okay.”

“I just… I noticed that you haven’t been smoking. Not when we’re together, at least. Is everything okay?”

Lapis didn’t answer for a while and looked up at the moon, feeling the gentle breeze flowing against her blue locks. She closed her eyes. “You do notice even the smallest things, don’t you?”

“I tend to do that with the things I love,” Then she quickly reiterated. “P-people, too! Not just things. You’re not a thing.”

Lapis wondered everyday just what in the world did she do to deserve someone this cute in her life.

She breathed in. “I guess I don’t feel like smoking anymore now that Jasper and I made up.” And opened her eyes. “The only reason I started was because I felt like I owned her that. Like some twisted way of atoning for what I did. But now it just feels… pointless.”

“I see.” Peridot nodded, understandingly. “And how is it going? I heard it’s really hard to quit. Amethyst tried and failed in like, five hours.”

“I thought it was going to be a lot harder, honestly.” Lapis shrugged. “But I know why it’s been easy. I wasn’t addicted to the cigarettes. I was addicted to my regrets.”

They stood in silence for a bit, Peri not exactly knowing what to say; or if she should say anything at all. Lapis then shifted and let her head fall into the bartender’s lap, relaxing her shoulders and mind. Peridot instinctively started scratching her scalp gently, now knowing that Lapis would talk to her if she wanted to. There was no need for awkward conversations at this stage of their relationship, and after everything they’ve been through together.

“I told her about you.” Lapis said suddenly in a quiet voice.

“Her?”

“Mothe— um, Malachite. Merga.” She was still getting used to the fact that she wasn’t a prisoner to the witch’s titles anymore. “She asked Jasper and I to talk about what we’ve been up to. I felt like it wouldn’t hurt to let her know before passing away.”

“Oh. And what did you tell her?” Peridot’s tone was so soothing and understanding.

“I told her that I had a girlfriend. That I loved her very much, and that she made me feel loved, too.”

Peri’s heart couldn’t help to beat strongly. “Those are very true statements.”

Lapis smiled. “She made that expression that used to haunt me. The one that said I had disappointed her.”

“Because you were dating a girl?”

“Yeah,” She turned to her side and faced Peri’s stomach. “Not that it mattered what she thought at that point, but it was still… interesting, I guess. To see her reaction to a gay daughter. Well, daughters.”

“So Jasper is also—” Then Peridot realized she was about to say something really stupid. “Never mind.”

“Honestly? I didn’t know. Sure, we used to sleep together and everything, but I always thought that what we had was something completely separated from the real world. Jasper didn’t talk much about her relationships and whatnot.” Lapis tugged at the hem of Peri’s shirt, distracted. “But then she came to my defense, sort of, and came out too. So yeah, Merga had to adopt the two gay kids.”

Lapis giggled a bit at that, like it was some sort of really funny joke, and Peri couldn’t help but to feel like she was intruding on a really personal matter. But then again, if Lapis was telling her this, was because she wanted her to know. Peridot grinned at the realization and kept playing with blue hair. “She adopted the two best kids.”

Lapis chuckled softly and closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation on her scalp. “What about you?”

“Me?”

“You never talked to me about your parents. How are they?”

Peridot stopped and pondered for a minute. She still felt like she was stepping on eggshells when the subject of family came up around her girlfriend, but ultimately decided that being honest was always the best course of action. “They are really great. My mom and dad were very patient with me growing up. You know, with me getting frustrated over every little thing and whatnot.”

Lapis hummed happily. “Any funny stories?”

“Oh, boy. My life is a funny story,” Peridot giggled. “When I was younger, I had such a terrible time communicating what I felt. I still do, honestly. Everything came out wrong because my brain shifted through the words too fast, so I kept saying things that didn’t make any sense to other people.”

“Like what?”

“You know when you take a bath and your fingertips get all wrinkled? I kept saying that my fingers had become winter.”

“Winter?” Lapis laughed softly.

“Yeah, because when it was cold mom used to put on socks that were all wrinkly when she took them off, so that was the first association I made.” Peridot was starting to feel a bit self-conscious and scratched the back of her neck. “Weird, I know.”

Lapis turned on her back and reached out to touch Peri’s cheek, fondly. “It’s not weird. I love this side of you, too.”

The bartender felt tears prickling her eyes and blinked, pushing them back. Lapis always told her how much Peridot had changed her life, but she had no idea that she had also made an impact on the blonde’s world. Perhaps a bigger one than she even realized.

“Thanks…” She mumbled, blushing. “I’m really glad that I can… put my walls down around you. I’m so afraid of rejection, all the time. I try to measure my words and actions around strangers, but I know that it’ll never be enough. People always notice something odd. That’s why I feel stupidly lucky to have you, and Amethyst, and everyone back at the pub. You all make me feel… safe.”

They stared at each other for a long time, lost in the feeling of being together like this, and smiled simultaneously. “I’m glad we met.” Lapis breathed out, finally.

“Life works in funny ways.”

“It sure does.” Lapis caressed her girlfriend’s arms. “It led me to you. And it led me to Steven. Who is Miss Quartz’s son, my favorite teacher at the orphanage. Who knew Pearl, who is now dating your roommate, who knows Greg, who is Steven’s dad and fixed your bike to take me to our first date.”

“Wow, okay, that’s a lot to take in.” Every time Peridot thought about the complex web of related people that they apparently all knew in some way or another, she got a headache. Still, she couldn’t deny that it was a huge goddamn coincidence that everything had fit as well as it had. “I’m just glad that whatever higher force allowed all of this to happen, made this happen too.”

“This?”

And then Peri bent over and kissed her.

And it was magical, kissing in the place where they first met; like everything came together full-cycle and whispered in their ears that this was right. That this moment right now was everything they needed, everything they struggled for. That kiss sealed Lapis and Peridot’s bond in a way that only they could understand, and gods, it felt good to feel loved.

Their moment was cut short when Lapis’ phone rang. She grunted against Peri’s lips and got up annoyed, making the bartender laugh. Lapis didn’t know the number and almost hung up, but decided to pick it up at the last moment.

“Hello? …Yes, that’s me. Yes. Yes…? That’s my sister.” A long, tortuous pause followed and Lapis’ face started to change slowly. First she frowned, then her eyebrows went up high, and she gaped. Peridot started to get worried at the lack of words after that, but she could hear the person on the phone still talking. Whatever it was, it seemed to be extremely important. “...I s-see. Um, wow, I… don’t really know if we can manage to get there. Oh. Is this possible? It would help a lot. Yes. Yes. My b-bank account? Of course, just a moment…”

Lapis then proceeded to spell out some numbers hastily and visibly shaking. A few more mumbled responses later, and they bid goodbye. Lapis didn’t move the phone from her ear for a few seconds, even though the person on the other side had already hung up, and Peri touched her shoulder gently.

“Lapis? What happened?”

She slowly closed her mouth and turned to look at Peridot. “I— I think I’m rich.”

The soul-crushing pause after that simple sentence was enough to crack the fabric of the Universe itself. And Peridot considered herself a rational, logical person most of the time, very eloquent too, but at that moment all she could manage to say was a dumb “What?”

“It was a lawyer.” Lapis looked at the phone in her hands. “Malachite’s lawyer, he… he told me about her testament. Apparently she… everything she owned, all of her money, her h-house, she just… it’s ours. Me and Jasper’s. We just need to sign some papers? I don’t— I don’t know.”

Well.

Nothing could have prepared either of them for this.

It was like time stopped, and they were floating right in the middle of an alternate timeline, one that shouldn’t have existed, but that miraculously did. Somehow. They couldn’t tell if this was actually real or not.

So Lapis did the only thing she could manage to do, and kissed Peridot.

Hard.


The following days were a mess.

Lapis was definitely not prepared to deal with paperwork and bureaucracies, especially not the ones concerning that amount of money. Not even the lawyer knew what to do at first, but eventually he learned more about Lapis and Jasper’s situation and understood what he was dealing with. Lapis thought that if she was together with Jasper they could manage this new information a lot better, but apparently, the athlete was as hopelessly lost as she was.

Peridot tried to help as much as she could, but in the end the one who was best prepared to organize the documents and bank information was Pearl. She had a lot more experience regarding this area, being the co-owner of a shop and everything, so Pearl pretty much took charge of the whole operation. She scheduled regular meetings with the lawyer, asked Lapis and Jasper relevant questions and passed the answers along to the people in charge. Her keen eye didn’t let a single information slip, and any shady action from either party was immediately repelled by her.

Lapis wanted to say that Pearl had done enough already for the both of them, but they honestly didn’t have anyone better suited for this job. So she allowed the tattoo artist to see it through the end, putting all of her trust in her. Lapis didn’t doubt her for a second, and she nearly cried when the whole endeavor came to an end, after months of tiring reunions and papers to sign.

Six months later, everything was in order. Lapis and Jasper had decided to split the money in half for each of them, but not before another long talk privately.

“Are we really going to accept that?” It was the first thing that Jasper had asked her when they first talked about the issue.

“Why shouldn’t we?” Lapis questioned, confused.

“I just… it feels wrong. Like we’re still living off her charity, even after her death.” She crossed her arms and looked away, clearly pissed. “Like we still can’t be free…”

Lapis nearly rolled her eyes and started arguing, but she restrained herself. She had promised to stop yelling at her big sister for every single thing, so she took a deep breath before crossing the room and closing their distance. “I understand your point. I felt the same after the shock had passed. But this is different.”

“How?”

“Because when she kept sending us shit to make us her prisoners, she was alive. She wanted us to come back running to her, to show her our gratitude. How many times did the thought cross your mind? My mind?”

Jasper grunted.

Lapis continued. “But this money? She did it to set us free.” She reached up and gently touched Jasper’s scarred face – a habit she had picked up recently. “Some people have different ways to atone for what they did.”

That sentence was simple, but the weight it carried wasn’t lost in translation. Jasper broke right there, under the touch and under the realization that Lapis was right. Merga wasn’t able to hurt them anymore; maybe her testament really was just a way of her to say ‘sorry’. Maybe a shitty way, considering everything, but it was the only way she knew how.

After all, part of that money did belong to them and their circus acts.

“…Alright.” Jasper answered, smiling a little. “So, what are you going to do with your share?”

Lapis frowned, crossing her arms. There were so many things she wanted to do, she just couldn’t put them all in order. But one thing had crossed her mind, and that was the most important one.

“I’ll turn something bad into something good.” Was all she answered.

And now there they were. Six months later, with more money than they could possible fathom. After Pearl bid them goodbye from their last reunion, Lapis sat on her couch and looked at the ceiling, taking everything in. It had been a hell of a ride, but now she was excited to put her plan in motion.

So, she started.

And it started with a call.

“Peridot? It’s me.” She bit her lip, unable to stop smiling. “Say, would you like to live with me?”

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7 years later

“I’m late, I’m so late,” A rush of black hair ran downstairs, putting on her shirt as she descended and almost tripped, falling face-first on the floor. Luckily for her, a short body collided with hers in a hug and stopped a terrible accident from happening so early in the morning.

“Oh my god, are you okay??” Lapis asked the woman in her arms, and felt a chest giggling.

“I should be asking you that!” Peridot detached herself from the taller woman and pecked her cheek. “Calm down, you’re hardly late. Come on, I made you breakfast.”

“I love you,” Lapis sighed, relieved, returning the small kiss with one of her one. They made their way to the table and ate together a healthy oatmeal and chocolate milk breakfast. Peridot tried to make some conversation, but Lapis was clearly too anxious to focus on anything other than the fact that today was her first day at work. Peri respected that, and smiled lovingly at the girl sitting next to her.

They’ve been together for so long, and she still managed to make her heart beat like the first time they kissed.

Lapis excused herself after finishing and locked herself in the bathroom to clean up. Peridot washed the dishes and organized the living room – not that it made much difference with the little ball of fur running around.

“Veggie, out of the couch!” Peri shouted at the dog, who just wagged its tail and jumped on her, licking her face. “Noooo! I just took a bath!” Still, she was too weak to deny the lovingly puppy’s affections.

A few moments later and Lapis got out of the bathroom, her jet-black hair pulled up and with beautiful make-up adorning her features. “How do I look?”

“Beautiful.” Was Peri’s immediate response, but the girl rolled her eyes.

“Do I look professional? Are these clothes too much? I don’t think I should be wearing heels? I don’t even know how to walk in heels!” She took her shoes off and replaced them with sandals. “Is this better?”

“Baby, they are kids. The last thing they’re going to notice is if your skirt matches your earrings. Relax, you’ll do great. I know you will.”

And as always, something about the way Peridot encouraged her always seemed to do the trick. Lapis’ tense shoulders relaxed and she breathed deeply, approaching the tiny girl and kissing her deeply, staining her lips with lipstick. “Thank you.” They stared at each other dumbly, until someone had to break the spell. “I need to go.”

“Okay. Have a wonderful day. Veggie, tell her to have a wonderful day,” Peri lifted the dog in her arms who barked, and Lapis laughed, petting its head.

“Thank you, Veggie.” She straightened her back and grabbed her purse. “Okay. I’m going. See you later.”

“Love you. Bye!”

Once the door to their house was closed, Peridot put the puppy down and looked at her hand. She brought the golden ring adorning her finger to her lips and kissed it, knowing that Lapis was doing the same with hers. “Good luck.”

The phone suddenly started ringing and Peridot picked it up. “Hello?”

“Yes, hello, is this Peridot?”

“Yes?”

“Hi, this is Denise from the collection agency—”

“Fuck off, Amethyst.”

Amethyst’s loud laughter echoed through the phone and Peri had to restrain herself with every fiber of her being to not join in the giggle session. “Wow, rude! I thought that getting married made a person less aggressive, but apparently not.”

“Remember to check with you in a few weeks. By the way, when are you going to grow some breasts and pop the question?”

“…Listen, asshole.”

“Touché.”

“Pearl and I are just going with the flow, alright?”

“Amethyst, you’ve being ‘going with the flow’,” Peridot moved her fingers to mimic quoting marks. “For seven years.”

“…The flow is just too big.”

“Oh my God.”

“Shut up, you nearly had a break down too when you were about to ask Lapis to marry you, don’t ‘oh my God’ me, missy.”

“At least I didn’t try to pretend I wasn’t in love her, unlike some people.”

“Outrageous.”

Peridot rolled her eyes with a smirk and sat down on the couch with Veggie in between her arms. “Just… ask Pearl the goddamn question. Stop running away from this.”

“From what? I’m not running away from anything.”

“From your happiness, you dumbass.” Peri scratched the dog’s ears fondly. “Why are you still trying to fool yourself? You’ve been dating for seven years, that’s the longest commitment I’ve ever seen from you. Hell, you don’t even love your cigarettes that much.”

Amethyst feigned a shocked gasp on the other side of the line. “Don’t talk about my babies like this, we raised them together! Years of beautiful baby smokes.”

“Years of secondhand smoking that probably destroyed my lungs, you mean.”

“Details.” Then Amethyst got really quiet for a while. “…I’m not pretending anything.”

“Right.”

“I’m not! It’s just… scary. To think I want to spend the rest of my life with one person.”

“Do you?”

No answer. And then. “…Maybe.”

“See, this is your problem right there. Your life is full of maybes. You need one certainty in it, and if Pearl isn’t that certainty then I don’t know what is.”

“I hate it when you’re right.” She sighed, and Peridot could hear something small made of metal clinking on the background.

“Wait, what’s that sound?”

“…Nothing.”

“Amethyst! That’s the ring isn’t it??”

“No, what ring, shut up.”

“Ohhhh you actually bought it! When are you going to ask her? Can I be maid of honor? Oh my God if you ask someone else to be the godmother of your children—”

“Holy shit, you’ve been watching way too many soap operas. Introducing you to telenovelas was a mistake.”

Peridot was bouncing on the couch, and almost threw poor Veggie out. She bit her lip and didn’t say anything else for a long time, allowing Amethyst to reply. The girl finally sighed exasperatedly on the phone and Peri could basically hear her physical pain.

“Next week, now shut up let’s not talk about this ever again how’s your wife.” The string of words was met with a fit of giggles from the blonde.

“Fine, I’ll let you off the hook.” Peridot settled down again. “She’s great. Today’s her first day, you know.”

“Oh, tell her I’m so proud!”

“I will. She’s really happy, you know?” Peridot smiled, thinking about just how much more often she saw Lapis’ smile now. Ever since she told Peri about what she planned to do with her share of the money, Lapis had been working nonstop. She’d asked for help, researched, hired talented people, and eventually, her plans came into fruition. Her dream seemed like such a long shot all those years ago, but now there it was, indisputably real.

“I bet she is.” Amethyst’s warm tone was apparent. “I’m happy for the two of you, dorks. You’re doing something amazing.”

“Yeah… we really are.”

“I miss you, you know? You need to come visit sometimes. A five-hour ride is just too exhausting to do everyday, but you know I would if I could.”

“I know. We’ll visit soon, I promise.”

“Good,” Peridot heard Pearl’s voice in the background and smiled. “Yeah, uh. I need to go. Talk to you later, nerd.”

“Good luck, Ame.”

“Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

She put the phone down and sighed happily, sinking in the couch.

Everything was okay.

They were okay.


Lapis finally reached her destination, stopping right in front of the old mansion’s door. It was funny, how terrifying that door had been years ago, but now how it filled her with hope. She’d walked this same path again and again for the past seven years, seeing how the reformation was going and keeping up with every single change in Merga’s old house. Eventually, the place that had been the nest of her despair and agony for so long, was replaced with a lovingly and warm home.

And the empty, huge rooms, were now classrooms and dormitories, which accommodated over forty orphan children.

And Lapis had been making damn sure that these kids received the love and care they deserved.

She took a deep breath and counted to three. “I can do this.”

Before entering the house, she felt her phone buzz. Picking it up, she saw a message and smiled as soon as she finished reading it.

“Good luck on your first day, Miss Lazuli.

I’m proud of you.

-Jasper.”

Her chest felt a thousand times lighter, and she finally opened the mansion’s door. She expected the noise of children running around playing, waiting for her to arrive, but instead was met with silence. Confused, Lapis closed the door and walked a few steps, before a sudden pile of kids popped out of the corridors with bright smiles and holding small paper signs.

“Welcome, Miss Lazuli!” All of them yelled in unison, their faces brighter than a thousand suns.

And at that moment Lapis knew, that everything she had gone through, every cruel thing that life had thrown at her, was worth nothing. Because she was alive at that moment, and because those kids who were the same as her, and were so genuinely happy to receive her at her orphanage, everything had a purpose.

She had a purpose.

With a sniff and not trying to hide the tears, Lapis smiled back.

“Hello, everyone. I’m Miss Lazuli. And I’m your new teacher.”

 

THE END