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It's Been A Minute

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A long, low sigh emanated from the corner of the large, sparsely populated library. It was a familiar sound for such an environment and the slender, somewhat frazzled-looking blonde haired student it came from was equally a familiar sight. She sat back in her chair and shifted her glasses up in order to rub the bridge of her short, angular nose in frustration before bringing her gaze back down to the bright green laptop and mountain of papers organized neatly in front of her.

 

“Come on Peridot.” She muttered irritably to herself. “This section is algebra, algebra. You knew this inside and out back in 4th grade for star’s sake.” Indeed, the student should have found the section to be utter child's play due to, as she would put it, her ‘overwhelmingly exquisite brain power'. Instead, she was having a difficult time even focusing on the text in front of her, let alone dissecting it and solving the problems. To put it bluntly, she was distracted. Her, the great and lovable Peridot. Distracted. Inconceivable!

 

She put it down to the group of large individuals sat on the opposite side of the library. They were loud, rambunctious, and, to top it all off, they seemed to have taken a particular interest in her . The one nearest to her with bright, rainbow coloured dreads kept turning around in her seat and giving a cheeky grin before another of her posse would give a playful shove and she'd turn back around. It was a sight Peridot was familiar with, unfortunately. From her own observations, she could tell that they were obviously a part of some kind of sports team due to the brightly coloured jackets they wore which had the college's logo emblazoned on the back. Football, perhaps, or maybe wrestling? They definitely had the build for it.

 

All throughout high school, Peridot had been targeted by groups of knuckleheaded imbeciles due to her being the stereotypical ‘nerd’ and therefore someone they would deem an excellent victim. She had hoped that a college environment would encourage a more mature behaviour, but it appeared she was quickly going to be proved wrong. She had tried her best to just ignore them but it was apparent that the tactic hadn't worked in the slightest; responding with a brief wince as she heard one of the chairs slide backwards followed by the sound of heavy footsteps making their way across the carpeted floor towards her. She mentally prepared herself for the torment she suspected would be coming her way in a few moment's time.

 

A large shadow loomed over her table before a deep, gruff voice cut through the silence.

 

“Still as big of a nerd as ever, huh? I shouldn't be surprised, but still; you really are a walking stereotype.”

 

Peridot didn't reply, instead focusing on her laptop screen while silently praying her tormentor would bore of her and find a new target. No such luck.

 

“What's the matter, Peri? Not even gonna say hi? Thought you of all people would have had a good enough memory to know who the hell I am.”

 

Stiffening a little in surprise at the strangely familiar nickname, the short blonde blinked. Who did this person think they were? With a reluctant huff she sat up straight and replied, her tone sharp.

 

“Firstly, this is a library , a place where students go to study so my activities should be expected. Secondly...” She adjusted her glasses once more as her gaze turned upwards to her harasser. “My name is Peridot, not Peri you uncultured-” Before her condescending tirade could continue she found her mouth dropping open in surprise, words failing her as she took in the sight before her.

 

Broad shoulders, intimidating height, long, white blonde hair tied back into a loose ponytail that was clearly something done more out of necessity than a fashion statement: these were all features that were all too common for many of those who preferred physical education and the bravado of a sports team over mental stimulation - including many of the things Peridot found to be interesting - so they were not what caught her off guard. Instead, it was the pair of bright, amber eyes twinkling mischievously beneath a raised brow, and the mouth below that was open in an all too familiar lopsided grin, causing her mind to screech to a halt. After opening and closing her mouth silently like a stranded fish for about a minute or so, she finally felt the ability to speak returning to her.

 

“J-Jasper?!” She sputtered out in a tone that was several octaves higher than her usual voice. The larger woman let out a low, rumbling chuckle and reached over to scoop the blonde from her seat, eliciting a squeak of indignance and surprise.

 

“I knew it was you!” The burly woman exclaimed loudly, warranting a glare and a loud ‘shhh’ from the librarian. She ignored it and instead continued to hold her smaller companion in something that resembled both a hug and a headlock, ruffling her hair. “Was tellin’ the others that you looked familiar and Bis wouldn’t stop staring so I kinda needed to come over, otherwise she’d probably harass you on my behalf.” Another chuckle cut through the silent room. “Can’t believe it, how many years has it been? Man, you haven’t changed a bit!”

 

Peridot wanted to respond, she really did, but it was admittedly hard to speak when her airways were being partially cut off, her mouth being smothered in the heavily-built woman’s forearm the way it was. Almost frantically, she patted at the arm in question and let out a wheeze of relief when she was finally able to once again inhale the correct amount of oxygen needed for her continued existence.

 

“Stars...” She panted out as her feet touched the ground and she took a wobbly step back, still trying to process exactly what had just happened.

 

Just a few minutes ago she was minding her own business, stressing over her latest project due, and now she was stood in front of Jasper. Jasper; the one person she’d grown up with and leaned on for support over the many years of them both being in the foster care system. Jasper, the one who’d stood up for her whenever the bullies got too much, the one who she’d been proud to form an unofficial sisterhood with until their eventual adoptions split them up. She had honestly thought she’d never see her again, especially after Peridot was soon transferred to another high school across the state at the request of her newly adoptive parents.

 

Yet, here she was, having just relinquished her still impressive hold on her and giving her the signature smirk that Peridot had once known to follow some form of prank or practical joke; it was almost surreal.

 

“Stars? That’s all you’ve gotta say? Come on Peri, I thought you were the one who was good with words!” Jasper responded, chuckling once again.

The short blonde coughed and stood up straight as she made a vain attempt to restyle the hair that was now in complete disarray.

 

“Well, yes, I am.” She retorted as she folded her arms and pouted. “But I’m usually better at that when given time to prepare. Last time I checked long lost friends randomly showing up out of the blue isn’t something I’d be truly prepared for...” Trailing off, she scratched the back of her head and shifted from foot to foot. “...But nevertheless… I’m really happy to see you.” She gave a shy smile that was quickly smothered as she was pulled into another, much more balanced hug. She was able to return this one, albeit only slightly as her short arms barely made it around half of Jasper’s broad torso.

 

Now, Peridot wasn’t usually one for physical signs of affection, or any kind of affection for that matter, but there were some that were exceptions to the rule. Jasper being one of them. Granted, the last time they had hugged, the taller of the two was significantly slimmer, which she noted with a pat on the forearm as they broke the hold.

 

“You’ve really filled out huh?” She commented, poking her companion’s taught abdomen. “I mean, you’ve always been bigger than me but, stars, what are they feeding you? Bricks?” Jasper responded with a low laugh and shook her head.

 

There’s the Peri I know and love! You were always the queen of snark.”

 

“A title I wore proudly, I hasten to add!” Came Peridot’s quick reply as she grinned, her confidence returning now after the initial shock had worn off.

 

Clearly amused, Jasper opened her mouth to respond when a broad hand on her shoulder diverted her attention. It was the girl with rainbow dreadlocks from earlier, ‘Bis’ Peri presumed. She was just a hair shorter than Jasper with just as broad shoulders.

 

“Sorry to break up your little reunion here Jaz, but the coach wanted us down on the field by half past and we’ve now got 5 minutes to get down there. You know how she gets when anyone’s late!”

Jasper groaned as she glanced at the clock on the wall, Bis continuing to talk.

 

“I know it’s not the best timing but hey, you’re both on the same campus, I’m sure you’ll see each other around! Now come on, we’ve got to get our asses to the field before they’re chewed out by coach Holly!”

 

With another grumble, Jasper nodded reluctantly before turning back to Peridot.

 

“Sorry shortie, I’ve really gotta go, but before I do-” She fished in the pocket of her joggers and pulled out her phone, tapping on a couple of apps before thrusting the device her way. “Put your number in there. I know we’re on the same campus now like Bis said, but considering I know how much of a nerd you are, I doubt we’ll run into each other much and I’ll be damned if I let my little sis go again.” She said this with a teasing grin but it was clear there was meaning behind those words. She really cared for the blonde.

 

Peridot, clearly also saddened by the fact that their meeting was being brought to a quick end, took the phone and quickly tapped in her number before handing it back while making a teasingly disapproving comment about how it was a wonder that the phone hadn’t already been broken due to it lacking any type of protective casing. The taller woman laughed again, hugging her tightly before giving her a thumbs up and heading for the door.

 

When the group of large individuals eventually left her line of sight, Peridot slumped back into her chair in a bit of a daze. Part of her was still trying to process exactly what had happened, and how quickly she’d adjusted to the situation; despite having been apart for years she’d been able to interact with Jasper just as she would have done back in elementary school. Granted, they’d been glued at the hip since they were around 5 years old, so logically it made sense but… still. Her thought process was interrupted by her phone loudly buzzing in her pocket. Grasping at it she glanced at the screen and chuckled lightly to herself at the notification on her screen:

 

Unknown Number: Meet me at Fusion Coffees at 6 today. We’ve got a lot to catch up on!

 

With a grin, she quickly saved the number into her contacts and tapped out a reply.

 

Peridot: Affirmative, I’ll see you there.

 

There were a couple of texts afterwards teasing her about still using ‘nerd language’ but she just grinned, sighed, and rolled her eyes before popping her phone back into her pocket and returning her gaze back at her laptop screen. She probably wasn’t going to get any more work done today. It was worth a try, though.

 

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Several hours later, including a lot of cursing at her phone’s satellite navigation system that had caused her to take many a wrong turn, Peridot arrived at her destination. She’d never been there before, but it appeared to be an endearing, family owned establishment. She hadn’t needed to take her time locating Jasper as she had already spotted the heavily built woman through the shop window as she approached the entrance, but as she slowly pushed the small wooden door open and took a look around she hadn’t been able to help but take in the blue and red theme that seemed to continue throughout the entire establishment. It was charming, she supposed, in its own little way. The staff seemed friendly enough; she had received a chirpy greeting from the woman behind the counter to which she responded with an awkward ‘hello’ before heading over to where Jasper was seated.

 

Before she could sit down, however, Jasper spotted her and stood up, pulling her into another one of her tight hugs.

 

“There you are! Was wondering if you’d show up at all. Not like you to be late!” Jasper exclaimed teasingly as she once again ruffled Peridot’s hair. Being more prepared for the hug this time around she gave the taller woman an affectionate squeeze before she was released from her hold and able to slip into her seat; the words, however, making her flush somewhat.

 

“Uh, well... I encountered a bit of a distraction when I returned to my dorm room to go change. Sorry about that… But I’m here now! That’s what matters right?” She gave a slightly awkward grin; the whole situation still seeming bizarre to her. Jasper, however, always the more adaptable of the two, appeared relaxed, almost like nothing had changed and they’d never parted. She’d always admired that about her, that she was able to stay level headed despite the fluctuation that seemed to be a constant with them both having been in the system. You’d have expected such a hefty, jock-like individual to be quicker to anger and lash out, but that tended to be more Peridot. It would probably be amusing to an outsider, she mused silently, watching as a short, skinny nerd raged about something or other only to be hugged firmly and calmed down by an intimidating-looking girl who appeared better suited to the classic ‘bully’ archetype.

 

But there would be time to dwell on that later, she reasoned, instead returning her focus back to the here and now. This was meant to be a time for them to reunite and catch up on what they’d missed.

 

“Don't sweat it! You looked stressed earlier, I can't even imagine what strenuous classes you're taking. You just might be exerting your brain too hard!” Jasper chortled but patted Peridot’s shoulder in an act of comfort. “Ok, obviously I’m assuming you've never been here before since you don't know the area very well, but order whatever you'd like, it's on me! Coffee's always on the house thanks to Garnet whenever she's running the shift. She goes to Homeworld Uni too!” She nodded her head towards the cashier who smiled back at her and nodded curtly; a tall curvy woman with an afro large enough to compliment her curves, wearing a collared shirt and apron.

 

Peridot turned her head towards Garnet, grinning awkwardly at the formidable woman whose expression couldn't necessarily be read due to the fact that she was donning large shades.

 

“I always get a blended caramel iced coffee because I'm dead beat exhausted after practice with Holly, but yeah, get whatever you want. I'm sure you run off of caffeine like everyone else does at uni am I right?” An excitable Jasper continued.

 

“Ehh, my fuel is usually energy drinks. I'm not too keen on coffee, but I'll... hrm… a blended matcha green iced tea doesn't sound so bad. I'll take that.”

 

Jasper snorted and quirked an eyebrow.

 

“I know that shouldn’t surprise me because of how much of a sweet tooth you had back when we were kids, but come on, really? You don’t like coffee at all? Plus, aren’t those energy drinks all super unhealthy?”

 

“Says the girl who most likely drinks like a fish on the weekends.” Peridot quipped, raising her own eyebrow to mimic her friend’s expression. Jasper stared for a moment then laughed, shoulders shaking a little as her eyes crinkled with mirth.

 

“Damn, you always were the observant one huh? You sure called me out dude! Fair play, I won’t bug ya too much.”

 

With a snicker of her own Peridot leaned back in her chair and smirked. “Well, let’s be honest, you always talked about how much you loved going to parties and such growing up so I can only presume that love transitioned into bar crawls and clubbing as an adult. Isn’t much of a stretch of the imagination.”

 

Jasper let out another loud laugh.

 

“Alright then shortie, going off of that, would I be right in saying you prefer spending your nights cooped up in your room playing video games and yelling at kids over the mic?”

 

“Hey! ...Touche.”

 

The pair of them stared at each other in silence for a moment before both bursting out laughing; Jasper reached across to ruffle her companion’s hair which caused the smaller of the two to squawk indignantly and try her best to yet again regain the style she had spent so long creating with a plethora of hair gel. It ended up being a futile attempt, especially after the library earlier, so she just dropped her hands on the table and shot a playful glare in Jasper’s direction. The woman in question was still laughing, leaning back in her chair.

 

“After all these years… we really haven’t changed have we, eh? It’s like you never left.”

 

Peridot couldn’t help but wince a little at that.

 

“Heh… yeah.” She replied hesitantly, shifting in her seat. Part of her wanted to apologize for leaving when she did, but she knew it wasn’t her fault; her adoptive parents had transferred her to a different high school as soon as they were able.

 

“I know that look.” Jasper’s voice cut through her thoughts. She was staring at her. “That’s your ‘I’m overthinking and don’t know how to stop’ look. I know you didn’t have much of a say in it, and besides, it’s not like I would have wanted to hold you back anyway. You got into one of the best high schools in the state yeah? That’s what I remember you telling me anyway.”

 

“Yeah… after I was adopted it was clear my new parents wanted me to go to the high school they’d both gone to as kids. It was apparently a pretty high-end place according to them but... eh… It wasn’t all that great.” She shrugged. “I got good grades though, so there’s that.”

 

“Huh, interesting...” Came Jasper’s reply as she leaned forward in her seat. “Speaking of, what are they like, your parents? I think I remember you telling me they were both lawyers but I don’t recall much else.”

 

Peridot perked up a little at that. She really did have a lot to fill her old friend in on and aside from the whole ‘being transferred out and being taken away from the only person she’d been able to bond with’ thing, she really did adore her new family.

 

“Well, you got that right, surprised you remembered that actually.” She grinned sheepishly. “I don’t think I told you about them much because I was nervous. But, yeah, they’re lawyers; Zircon and Zircon, two of the best in the state! ...Well, according to them anyway.” She chuckled and Jasper followed suit with a snort, but she carried on. “Sometimes it gets a little much for me, I’ll admit, because I find it impossible to win at any argument... but… I do love them, you know? I picked them just as much as they picked me.”

 

“Sap.” Jasper said teasingly, prompting a playful glower from across the table. “But fair play, I’m glad you got good ones after all that hassle we had in the system, you deserve the best really.”

 

Now it was Peridot’s turn to snort. “Oh, now who's the sap?”

 

“Oh piss off, I know you’re thinking the same!”

 

“Stars, we really do have the same mindsets huh? Do you think that’s why we always got shipped around together?”

 

“I dunno.” The burly football player shrugged. “I honestly just figured it was because your smarts helped me keep my grades up and I kept the bullies away from you. It was a symbiotic relationship.”

 

“Look who's using the long nerd words now!”

 

“Fuck’s sake… you’re an asshole, Peri.”

 

“But you love me.”

 

“...Whatever.”

 

“Anyway, your turn!” Peridot cut in, still grinning a little. “What’s life been like for you?” She wanted to ask specifics about adoption etc. but a part of her didn’t want to presume and then put her foot in it.

 

Grinning, Jasper sat up straight and crossed her arms, puffing up her chest proudly. “Well, you'll be pleased to know I got out of the system not long after you!”

 

Peridot stared for a moment before leaning forward, grinning. “No way!”

 

“Yes, way! A few months after you left I got adopted by this bomb ass woman. She's super chill and had been wanting a kid for years so she says; I apparently caught her eye so she booked an appointment to meet with me and we clicked just like that! It was mental dude.”

 

“That… sounds surprisingly appropriate - for you, I mean.” Peridot replied, amusement in her tone. “You always were the spontaneous one after all, so it doesn’t surprise me at all if I’m honest.”

 

In response, Jasper just snorted and continued with a broad grin on her face.“You’d like her dude; Rosanda Diamante knows how to have fun. Sure, she knows how to do the mom thing when needed, but she figured out pretty quick that raising me is a definite ‘hands off’ approach, which works for her because she likes to party.” The taller girl smirked. “Sure, it took her awhile to get approved ‘cause of her plans to be a single mom and all, but she’s part of a really successful business so she could guarantee financial stability at the very least. Plus her work partners, well, two of them, work really closely with her so they ended up helping out with me at times. It was weird at times but Mari and Azul always made me feel welcome in their own ways. They’re all pretty badass women... Though I’ve never gotten the chance to meet Bianca, she always was pretty aloof.”

 

Tilting her head, Peridot listened to her friend’s tale with interest. She hadn’t wanted to admit it but a big part of her had been worried about what would become of Jasper once she herself had left. Sure, she knew the bigger girl was mature, but she knew how much the split had upset her so she could only imagine what Jasper had felt at the same time. Knowing that she’d also gotten herself a family warmed her heart (though she knew Jasper would probably tease her about not having a heart at all since she was a ‘little nerdy robot’).

 

“That’s pretty awesome.” She replied, pausing for a moment as their drinks were placed on the table. After both had offered their thanks to Garnet and the tall woman had left them alone once more, she took a sip of her drink before continuing.

 

“Seems we’ve both ended up being raised by some strong, hard working women.” She commented hesitantly. Jasper nodded as she picked up her drink and took a swig, before pausing and placing the cup promptly back on the table.

 

“Huh… you got two moms or something?”

 

Peridot shrugged and stared at her cup awkwardly. “Mhm, Jean and Zula Zircon, two of the toughest female lawyers you’ll ever meet.”

 

“Awesome.” Was all Jasper said before chuckling. “You know that that sorta thing never bothered me, right? Since I’m pretty sure I was open about my sexuality pretty early on. I’m happy you’ve got two badass moms dude.”

 

With a shy nod, Peridot took another sip. “Yeah, I knew you’d be okay with it, and it’s honestly a blessing; made things a lot easier when I had to come out.”

 

There was a brief moment of silence. Looking up, Peridot caught Jasper’s expression just as she registered what had been said. Her eyes widened and a grin spread across her face.

 

“Wait, wait what, you mean... Dude, are you gay too??”

 

Wincing a little at the loud tone of Jasper’s voice, Peridot made several hand gestures to quieten her excitable companion.

 

“Yes, yes, that is indeed the case. Can you please not shout quite so loud? I don’t want the entire campus to know my sexual preferences thank you very much.”

 

“Alright, sorry” Responded Jasper with a chuckle. “But for real, that makes so much sense. Like. You were never into any of the boys in our classes and I just put it down to you being a little nerdy virgin who loved computers over dudes, but instead, you’re just as gay as me! Stars, that’s adorable.”

 

“Adorable? Excuse you.” Peridot huffed, pouting a little at that. Jasper of all people should know how she felt about being called any word that was a synonym of ‘cute’. However, her companion kept going.

 

“Yep, adorable, and that’s a word I’m sticking to. Although. ” A smug grin spread across the bigger woman’s lips as she leaned forward, a playful look in her eye. “I’m willing to bet you’re still a nerdy little virgin. Am I right or am I right?”

 

The blonde sputtered, her face turning a deep shade of red as she reeled back in her chair in sheer embarrassment.

 

“J-Jasper! Stars-!”

 

“What? You know I’m right”

 

Peridot grumbled and narrowed her eyes, looking off to the side as the blush remained present on her face. “I’ll have you know.” She mumbled shyly. “That I do in fact have a girlfriend...”

 

Blinking, Jasper’s first instinct was to laugh and see it as a joke (it was easy to tell when Peridot was lying and she loved calling her out on it) but there was something in her friend’s manner that made her think again. She tilted her head curiously. “Wait, you for real?”

 

“You think I would lie?” Came an awkward sounding retort, to which Jasper shook her head.

 

“No no, I just… wow. It wasn’t something I was expecting is all.” Leaning closer she gave her friend a smile and raised an eyebrow. “So… how long?”

 

“Eh?”

 

“How long have you been together?”

 

“Oh...” Peridot fidgeted in her seat, her cheeks darkening in colour as she fiddled with her fingertips. “From what I can recall it’s been, um… a year, two months and eight days.”

 

Peridot nearly jumped out of her skin when Jasper suddenly slammed her hands down on the table in shock. They even got a funny look from Garnet from behind the counter. Peridot tucked away a mental note to be wary of that intimidating woman.

 

“How the HELL do you remember exactly how long you've been together!? Your photographic memory never ceases to amaze me. Meanwhile, I'm over here barely even recalling what I had for breakfast the day before.” Jasper guffawed heartily once her hands were kept busy once more by her coffee. “Ok, but for real though. I need details, STAT. Who is she? Where'd you meet her? Or is she an internet girlfriend that you met in some chat room? Wouldn't doubt it because who else would have the hots for a nerd like you. Is she taller? I'm assuming she's taller because damn you're short. Is she on or off campus? SPILL THE TEA PERI.”

 

“I was trying to “spill the tea,” before you decided to ramble on and assume things and doubt my capabilities of finding a compatible mate.” The smaller girl sat up a little straighter in her seat, a smug grin on her face and retorted, “I'll have you know that Lapis thinks my intellect is part of what makes me so attractive.”

 

“Lapis huh?” Jasper quirked a brow suspiciously.

 

“Yes, Lapis. What's with that look you're giving me?”

 

Jasper frowned then shook her mane vigorously, brushing off whatever she was thinking. “No, P- it's nothing. Go on though! I wanna hear more about your dorky love life.”

 

Peri pushed up her glasses and smiled a genuine smile. She wasn't super open with telling people intimate details about her or her partner, being kind of a homebody and slightly antisocial her entire life, but she had to admit that she was pretty excited to fill her long lost sister in on this aspect of her life. I mean….even she herself was slightly shook and overwhelmed the first time the word “girlfriend” rolled off her tongue.

 

“We met at the campus library. I was working there during the summer prior to me starting my education as my parents had an old flat in the area.” She began, ignoring the snort and look from Jasper that clearly meant ‘of course’. “And before you presume, no, we weren't ‘study buddies’ or whatever you like to call it. Quite the opposite actually. She had a bit of a reputation at the library for always returning books late; not super late mind you, just a day or so over the limit, but what with college libraries being so strict she would always have to pay a fine. Always. She was super argumentative about it too, I was actually warned about her in advance by another staff member regarding how difficult she could be, so I was prepared to an extent. However….”

 

She flushed a little.

 

“I wasn't quite prepared for how… attractive she was. It was a little off-putting, less at the beginning but it got worse, especially since she slowly began to only focus her attention on me whenever she came by to drop off a book; sometimes she'd come in just to talk to me. She teases me about it now, but apparently, my obliviousness was infuriating as according to her she was trying her best to flirt. I picked up on it occasionally but at the time I was just suspicious instead of flattered. I presumed she had an ulterior motive you know? Get her fines reduced or whatever. Which I never did, I hasten to add; I know the fines are often way too harsh but I wasn't going to attempt to break the rules, not even for a pretty girl.”

 

“Ah precious Peri, always a stickler for the rules.” Jasper playfully interjected, warranting a brief glare and raised brow from Peridot who decided not to entertain her friend's teasing and continue with her tale.

 

“Yes, yes, anyways! Because I really did seem clueless, I mean… I'd just started to expect it to be teasing because why would the edgy girl with tattoos and dyed hair want a nerd like me? She started getting more and more insistent, to the point where she came across as more aggressive, honestly. I asked her about it later on and, as it turns out, she's not used to being the one doing the pursuing apparently, it's always been the other way around. It totally makes sense too as she didn't seem to know when to escalate and when to back off… It's funny now of course since she always likes to pretend she's this smooth individual when any conversation she had with me turned her into an awkward mess.

 

“Granted, it was a mutual thing; there would be times when she'd saunter in wearing nothing but a vest top and a pair of jeans that were so tight you'd think they'd been painted on. Stars, Jasper, she knew what she was doing; I couldn't take my eyes off of her when she did that, and if she caught me staring she'd give this smug grin and raise an eyebrow and I'd want to just curl up under the desk and hide in embarrassment.”

 

“I see… thirsty for her then were you Peri?”

 

“Positively dehydrated.” Peridot deadpanned as she tried not to blush even harder. This caused the larger of the two to snort loudly and bite back another laugh. Garnet kept looking their way (well, she presumed she was, it was hard to tell where her gaze was aiming underneath those shades).

 

“Okay sorry, no more teasing, I promise. So when did it become, you know, official? Who asked who?”

 

Peridot rubbed the back of her neck, a shy smile on her lips. “Uh… you know, we both kept debating it. She was the one who finally dragged me out on a date and confessed her feelings for me… but she didn’t really use her words to do the confessing… heh...”

 

Jasper, eyebrows raised in surprise, gave Peridot a smug grin. She knew what she meant but Peridot didn’t really give her the chance to talk as she knew what she would say.

 

“We went on a few dates over a couple of months then one night I kinda… Came out with it? You know me, I like things to be labelled and categorized; uncertainty makes me genuinely uncomfortable and I just needed to know where we stood. You should have seen her face; I don’t think she was expecting me to be that assertive. But… yeah. It was pretty out of character for me but I just wanted to be sure you know? She’s… she’s just so wonderful Jasper, I kept doubting if she really wanted anything serious but she did and uh... Here we are.”

 

A silence fell over the table as Peridot looked down at her drink, feeling pretty embarrassed over her emotional speech. It wasn’t like her to go on and on like that about anything other than technology or video games, and she was sure Jasper was most likely caught off guard by her speech too. When she looked up however the usual gruff football player was leaning forward in her seat, her chin resting on the back of her right hand as she observed her friend with an uncharacteristically soft expression.

 

“You’re really in love huh?” She asked quietly, the corner of her mouth curling upwards into a small smile. “No no, don’t be embarrassed!” She continued, raising her free hand as she saw her friend shrinking a little in her seat. “I’m serious, it’s really sweet how smitten you are; repeating what I said before… you deserve this okay? We both know how rough our lives were before at times.”

 

Letting out a soft sigh Peridot gave a small nod, running a hand through her hair. “Heh… thanks, Jasper.” She replied quietly as she met her gaze again. “For all that bravado you’ve always had my best interests at heart, which I really appreciate.”

 

Jasper merely shrugged and reached over to pat her smaller friend’s shoulder. “Well, you know me, I may be tough on the outside, but I’m a bit of a soft touch, especially when it comes to little ladies like you.” With that, she gave a wink that caused Peridot to huff and pout, trying to hide the blush that was now a permanent fixture on her face.

 

“Aaaand now you’re back to teasing again, guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less from the self-proclaimed ‘queen of banter’, right?”

 

“Ahh whatever, I know that’s why you love me.”

 

“Speaking of...”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I’d really like to introduce you to her; Lapis, I mean. She’s a big part of my life now, heck we’re even thinking of moving in together soon since she tends to stay at my place most days cause we can’t bear to sleep apart, and you’ve also been a big part of my life and now you’re back in it I want to have two of the most important people in my life to get to know each other. She’s already met my parents and, well, you’re the last family member she needs to be formally introduced to. Don’t think I could really feel comfortable going much further without my sister’s approval.”

 

At that she reached over and took Jasper’s hand on hers, giving it a hesitant yet meaningful squeeze. “What do you say Jaz?”

 

Jasper thought for a moment, but only a brief one before squeezing the small blonde’s hand tightly in response that caused her to let out a small squeak. “Hell yeah! I wanna meet the girl that’s wormed her way into that cold little heart of yours. Just give me a time and a place and we’ll sort something out.”

 

“Heh... okay, phew. Just… don’t scare her Jasper, please?”

 

“I won’t! Unless she deserves it.”

 

“Jasper-!”

 

“Kidding! Kidding, I won’t get all in her face chill out. But I will be in protective sister mode so don’t think for one second I’m not gonna be analysing the shit out of her.”

 

“Fine… She’s pretty resilient so I’m sure she could probably stand her ground against you in the wits department.” Peridot smirked as she said this and finished the last drop of her drink. Jasper just rolled her eyes at that.

 

“Yeah, yeah, whatever. Say, got any pics? I’ve gotta see the face of the siren that’s wooed my precious little Peri.”

 

“Oh! Yeah, sure, why not. One sec.” Peridot pulled her phone out of her pocket and opened the lock screen on her phone. With a shy grin, she turned the phone around and handed it to the bigger girl. “Here, she and I are my phone’s wallpaper. I don’t like many pictures of me but we were really happy in this one and she looked amazing in it so... ”

 

Taking the device eagerly, Jasper looked down at the screen only to freeze, eyes widening slightly. She’d thought it might have been a coincidence; with so many gem themed names going around these days it would have made logical sense for it to be a different person… But there, on the screen with a broad smile on her face and Peri planting a kiss on her cheek was the girl with the unmistakable deep blue eyes and shock of blue hair she’d hoped to never see again.

 

“Lapis Lazuli...” Jasper muttered with brows furrowed in a most ferocious manner.

 

“Ehh? How do you know her last name? You two know each other?” Peridot replied back with wide eyes.

 

“Heh, you were absolutely right on the dot about this chick loving to be pursued. Cuz I was pursuing her for years back in high school.”

 

Peridot spluttered. “Wait WHAT? You had a… a THING for my girlfriend and went to the same high school!? Jasper, this...this is crazy! Please elaborate on this!”

 

Jasper scratched the back of her head awkwardly. “Yeah, this is fairly weird… and I was high key hoping I'd never have to see her again… but I guess we all gotta face our fears eventually. Especially since she's dating my sister. Ugh.” Jasper facepalmed and shook her head in disbelief.

 

“Yeah, ok so… I officially met Lapis at a mutual friend’s party. I was out on the porch and she wandered out to smoke a cigarette. She offered me one and we just started talking, I guess? I didn't really know her all that well. All I knew of her was that she was broody and didn't really have too many friends. Heard a lot of shit about how she was too blunt and aloof and kind of just did her own thing. Definitely saw her in the women's restroom smoking a cigarette one time while class was in session. She basically had the rep of being the water witch bitch. Always had the blue hair, the tattoos are new though, that's for sure. But damn, yeah, as I was saying… she was being really forward with me and she ended the night by pulling my hair to yank my head down and fucking kissed me dude… it was a done deal from there, I was obsessed and captivated by her from there on out.”

 

Peridot nodded her head, processing this odd information. “The cigarettes were a problem by the way. I've gotten her to try out e-cigs now with a lowered nicotine level, so she's getting better. I- stars, I'm utterly shocked. Didn't think she'd be into a big brute like you! I mean...what did that kiss lead to? You guys didn't do anything more than that did you!?”

 

Jasper rolled her eyes and scoffed. “I mean, at the time I wished we had. But Nah, bitch played hard to get. It was almost as if she got off on leading me on and allowing me to look but not touch from then on out. I'd always be trying to hit her up to no avail. Every encounter we had together was on her time schedule. I mean, we were both fairly busy, I had football practice and she was on the swim team. Damn, she looked so good when she'd swim in competitions doing the butterfly stroke. But yeah, at the time I had no idea what I was to her. One moment she'd be slamming her lips against mine and then she'd get all distant again. Towards the end of whatever we had going on together, she had me on my knees practically begging her to just tell me how she truly felt about me if she felt anything at all! Of course, she blew me off, played it all off like it was nothing. She fucked with my feelings, Peri. I was kind of unnerved about dating anyone after my experience with her. Like, damn, that girl is all kinds of sadistic. Or, at least, she was… assuming she's changed her ways. Huh. Well, now I know why she didn't want me I guess. She doesn't like 'em big and burly, more short and nerdy I guess. She must really like you, Peri, considering she had the balls to ask you out and didn't want to watch you suffer as she teased and toyed with you on the job. And… well, as upset as I am with what she did to me in the past, I'm happy that she can at least make my lil sis happy. And get her laid.” Jasper winked knowingly at her sister as she was shrinking into her seat in embarrassment.

 

Despite Jasper appearing to be somewhat chill after sharing such information, Peridot just couldn’t truly comprehend exactly what had been shared with her. She’d answered in as logical a fashion as she was able to her brain was still trying to play catch up. One second she was eagerly telling the burly footballer all about her first girlfriend and now she was having to comprehend the fact that said girlfriend had not only known Jasper but also manipulated her in the worst way. She, of all people, knew how Jasper was when it came to relationships; what with her reason for being given up for adoption being a more unpleasant one compared to Peridots. It really took a lot of time and energy for her to trust anyone, so for her to be under someone’s thumb like that… Stars; Peridot could only imagine the mental vandalization that had occurred during those times.

 

Eventually, however, she knew she had to speak. Jasper’s teasing facade that had been put up towards the end of the conversation was starting to fall a little in the silence so with a slight cough she sat up and reached over to grasp Jasper’s hand as the bigger woman’s head dropped slightly.

 

“I… I don’t really know what to say.” She confessed, feeling a little embarrassed to admit that. She’d always been the one with all the answers after all. “But, I will say this. She doesn’t talk about high school much, but when she does she definitely talks about it in a negative way. Once while we were sharing a couple of drinks at hers she confessed to me that she wasn’t the… best person in high school. Was known for developing a habit for leading women on and such. That shocked me because she’s so dedicated to her relationships now. When I pushed for more info she very bluntly told me she was ashamed of how she was and knew she was taking it out on others...” She sighed. “In other words. I know she can’t take back what she did to you, but trust me when I say that she’s definitely remorseful about her actions and if given the chance… I’m sure she’d want to apologize. Granted if she were anyone else I would say don’t bother giving her the time of day if she hurt you that much... But I know her, and more importantly, I trust her. Not as much as I trust you but still. The point still stands.” There was a pause. “I don’t want to pressure you into seeing her, of course, but I really believe it’ll be good for the both of you to talk. You pick a time and a place that would best suit you when you feel ready, and we’ll be there. Though... I hope you don’t mind but I’d like to tell her tonight, about you I mean.  She’ll need to have some time of her own to figure out how best to apologize to you. Heck, I’ll make sure of it.”

 

Jasper smiled weakly at Peridot, her eyes full of languishing at the distant memories, but she trusted her sister to be real with her regardless of how many years they had spent apart from each other.

 

“Thank you, Peri. Like, I'd understand if you wanted to defend her and whatnot, but the fact that you're being real with me right now and not siding with her exclusively is nice to hear… I trust you, therefore, I trust your judgement and… well, I'm just happy overall that you found happiness with her. And that she's happy at long last. Glad she knows what she finally wants and she's being faithful to someone, y'know. Besides, I mean, you did dig up old memories but I'm happy at the place I'm at right now. But, erm… I mean… I'm now somehow glad that I had such an awkward relationship with your gal considering who I'm currently with…” Jasper groaned, knowing she had to spill the beans and leave Peridot in an awkward spot now.

 

Jasper pinches the bridge of her nose, not entirely wanting to continue the awkwardness of their love lives but since Peri had been open with her, she wanted to do the same. Regardless of how her sis felt about it.

“I'm dating Pearl Petit. And YES, I know she's a nerd. I will bag on you both regardless of the fact I love you both. Did you know she's French by the way? I had no idea considering she doesn't have an accent but, apparently, her family immigrated to the US when she was young. I… um, I know your history with her somewhat-”

 

“WHAT.”

 

Peridot’s incredulously toned voice cut her off as the small blonde stared slack-jawed across the table. “No. NO. Do you mean that Pearl? The very same Pearl who always seemed to make it her mission in life to best me in every way and have that… that smug expression on her face that would always rub me the wrong way??”

 

“Like I was gonna say; I know you don’t have the best history-”

 

“Oh, you don’t know the half of it Jaz! Even when I changed schools I couldn’t get away from her! She and I would always end up meeting at any of those science competitions as school representatives and she kept beating me and graahhh!!”

 

Jasper sat, dumbfounded. She had just found out her sister was dating the girl who messed with her head and caused insurmountable mental strain and she’d managed to stay level headed and calm… While Peridot was just about losing her mind over someone who was purely an intellectual rival. It perplexed her but she did remember how bad the small nerd’s tantrums would get when she got in her head about something.

 

“Peridot.” Jasper spoke firmly. “Think what you'd like at the moment, but based on all you'd rant to me about in elementary school of her, I have to say that she's changed, and given the chance, she'd probably shake your hand in a truce and apologize. She's really not a bad person, I mean, I honestly didn't really know her well or pay her any mind back then, but you're only seeing one side of her and that was like… over a decade ago, sis. Let the feud go already.”

 

Peridot grumbled and muttered to herself in her seat, the internal turmoil over this vile revelation obviously eating her up inside.

 

“Did you know that her family was extremely poor when they came to the US, having had used all they had to immigrate here and then struggled with financial stability after that? Did you know that she has 2 other sisters, both the same age? One is a model and the other is a successful artist. There was always a power struggle between the three of them apparently, and lots of effort was put into earning their parents approval and taking care of them, meaning Pearl always having to overcompensate since her interests and long term goals included years of schooling whereas her sisters instantly became her parents favourites since they finished high school and kind of got a kickstart at their careers fairly quickly. Pearl was lucky to get into our college due to a scholarship. You're blessed to have rich lawyer parents to pay for your education. She also had a shitty ex-girlfriend who dumped her for a successful musician so that kind of shattered her self confidence too. So, please sis, can you overcome your differences for me? For us?

As hesitant as I am about being around your new and improved girlfriend, we're in stuck in the same boat right now. Honestly, this whole situation is starting to get more funny and ironic than awkward if anything.” Jasper crossed her arms and gave Peridot a knowing look that was sympathetic yet amused.

 

Peridot was frowning but she slowly nodded in understanding regardless of how stubborn to the situation she really was.

 

“I… was not aware of her upbringing and the struggles she endured, and is still enduring, I suppose. It doesn't excuse her for being a know it all! But, I will put all that aside for your sake. Besides, now I have every reason to tease you and call you a hypocrite for bagging on nerds considering you're currently dating one!” Peridot leaned in over the table and flicked Jasper on the forehead playfully then leaned back into her seat and clapped her hands together. “Alright, I suppose I have now mentally prepared myself enough for your cringe-inducing love story. Go on then!”

 

With a few blinks of surprise Jasper grinned.

 

“Oh haha, just like that then? Guess I really just had to let your robotic nerd brain finish processing this information. And no, the nerd jokes will never stop, my nerd bae is no exception. But damn, ok, where the hell do I start? I guess it goes back to last August at the first kick off game of the season! It was us, the Homeworld Diamonds against the Crystal Gems from Crystal College. It was sweltering hot that day too, like god damn I was dying, but, if you didn't know, I've been called by Holly Blue one of the best damn quarterbacks the Diamonds have had in years. So that heat wave was NOT going to stop me and my team from winning the first game of the season. I won't go into details because I'm sure you don't understand nor care about the science of football. But we won! My team and I freshened up and shared our victory in the locker rooms. We definitely planned to have a big after-party if we had won so that's what I thought would happen that night but I end up exiting the locker room to find this awkward looking girl whose skin looked like it rarely saw the light of day fidgeting nervously outside the entrance.

 

She looked hella startled when I noticed her. I just felt dumb cuz I was staring, not saying a word, cuz damn what a cute little thing she was in this little turquoise crop top and high waisted jean shorts. She just froze up and stared up at me I just, I dunno...didn't know how to react? But then she started talking even though she was spluttering and fumbling over her words; she said she was watching me at the game that her roommate dragged her to and that she had never watched a football game before, but that she appreciated my perfect form and throwing motions and I was just dumbfounded ya know? Cuz we had just won a game and suddenly I had an attractive girl showering me in compliments? She was all red in the face and scratching the back of her head saying her roommate put her up to this and she's sorry and will take her leave now and I was just like, no wait! I pulled out a pen without thinking and took her hand and scribbled my number onto the back of her hand, and wow...I was just torn between bewilderment and triumph because hey, this kinda shit doesn't happen every day, ya know! She scurried off and left but I got a text a couple of hours later where she introduced herself as Pearl; I told Bismuth and Topaz and they kept telling me to invite her to our little after party and PROMISED not to bug us if anything ended up happening. So I did and she came! Just as flustered as she was before, though. We talked and ended up coming to the realization that we went to elementary school together. I mean, how could I have known? I hadn't seen this girl since she was eleven years old and then 10 years later here we are talking and getting along even though we are polar opposites. She's studying aerospace engineering and I have a football scholarship. She's all brains and I'm the brawn. Also, I wouldn't mess around with her too hard Peri, she knows fencing and it's pretty intimidating.”

 

Peridot couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at that. Fencing? That was new; the idea of reedy Pearl waving a sword around was amusing for a hot minute but then she remembered how dedicated the girl always was to anything she put her mind to. Maybe it would be best not to cross her, she thought hesitantly.

 

Jasper, meanwhile, continued to talk, clearly caught up in her infatuated speech.

 

“But hey, she keeps me in line which you should be happy about. She keeps me from drinking myself to sleep some nights; she is honestly one of the purest people I've ever met and always encourages me to do my best no matter what. She started watching every game from then on, and God damn , it's fueled me to always be at peak performance. It made me so happy knowing I was being critiqued and watched by her blue eyes for some reason and, well, from then on, all thoughts of Lapis were only distant memories and Pearl was all that mattered. She helped me get over most of the insecurities I had due to all my prior relationship problems and I helped Pearl get over the insecurities that resulted from her ex.”

 

It was Peridot’s turn now to sit in complacent thought, but she couldn’t help smiling slightly before once again speaking.

 

“I may be repeating you here but… it seems you’re just as much in love as I am, if not more so. It’s… it’s relieving, to say the least. I know it goes without saying but I really did worry about you for quite a while after I transferred schools; we were each other’s support systems and I knew there was a chance things might have ended up getting a bit messy at your end if you didn’t have someone in your corner. It really is bizarre that your new support system includes Pearl of all people, but I have to agree with you that this is honestly getting more amusing the more I think about it.”

 

She chuckled.

 

“After all these years, we finally meet again and not only have we known each other’s significant other personally, but also have some level of disdain or distrust for them.”

 

“Heh, you’re telling me.” Jasper replied with a snort. “I’m really not sure what to do now, though. Like… We clearly need to confront things head on, but I don’t want there to be a total shit show? There’s a lot of loose ends to tie off between Lapis and I, and I’d imagine you and Pearl will have a lot to talk through too. How do we plan this out?”

 

Peridot frowned and both girls sat in their chairs silent for a moment, the mood of the table turning into something more perplexed than anything.

 

“Pardon me for intruding, but may I make a suggestion?”

 

Though the tone of the voice was calm, its sudden appearance in the silence made the seated pair visibly jump. Looking up they were greeted with the face of Garnet who was stood at their table with her notepad in hand. How such a tall and imposing woman had made her way so quietly over to them without being noticed baffled Peridot to a degree. She, herself couldn’t walk lightly and she was sure she was substantially shorter and slimmer than their new conversation companion.

 

As the two stared in silence, Garnet adjusted her aviators and continued politely.

 

“As I said, I am aware I may have interjected into a conversation that I had most certainly had no part in so I do apologize, but if you would permit me I would like to offer some advice on the matter?”

 

Peridot and Jasper looked at each other for a moment before the football player shrugged.

 

“Sure, why not. Got nothing to lose right?” As Peridot’s eyebrows shot up she shook her hand before she could be interrupted. “Garnet’s pretty level-headed and we talk sometimes; helped me out a few times honestly. You’re studying some kind of therapist course or something, right?” She asked as she turned to look up at the newest member of the conversation.

 

The tall women nodded and Peridot presumed she was pleased with Jasper’s reply; though it was hard to tell with her eyes obscured.

 

“Behavioural Psychology if we’re being specific; but you were almost there. I’m glad to hear you remembered something.” A small smile graced her lips. “Now, if I may, I’d like to put forward a suggestion regarding your current situation?”

 

This time both girls nodded, both equally as curious. As Jasper had said, nothing to lose, right?

 

Seeing as she had been given permission to continue, Garnet quietly cleared her throat before speaking once more.

 

“I wasn’t privy to your entire conversation, but from what I could make out you’re both at odds with each other’s partners, correct?”

 

They nodded and she went on.

“Then, I would suggest that the best way for you to clear the air would be to all meet up together.”

 

Peridot sputtered. “B-but surely that would be overwhelming?? The potential for two arguments going on simultaneously?”

 

“That may be a potential outcome.” Garnet replied coolly. “But I’m sure there would only be a small chance of that happening. You see, you’re going to be confronting a person that made some aspect of your life difficult, so, therefore, you would need the best support you can get and I’m sure your partners are most likely very important in regards to your support network. Furthermore; it’s clear that the pair of you both want to cross that bridge and truly make an effort to ‘bury the hatchet’ so to speak. If there is at least half of a group that has that mindset then it is more likely to have a positive outcome in the end.

 

“Of course, talking to your significant others and giving them some time to also process the information beforehand will help as well; it also increases the chance of them going into the interaction with the same mindset. With that said, I would recommend that you select an environment that is fairly open in case any of you decide you need some space, but also private enough to enable you to truly speak your mind. Of course, without knowing the full extent of your issues I can’t offer specific advice, but I hope that will prove beneficial?”

 

The two seated girls stared in surprise for a moment before Jasper chuckled. “I always knew you were smart Garnet, but damn, you really got us all figured out huh?”

 

“You could say I have a good sense of precognition.” Garnet replied with a knowing smile as she adjusted the grasp on her notepad. “I hope that you find my advice helpful. Now, I’m afraid a change of topic is in order as I did, in fact not come here initially to offer my advice; as friendly of a customer you are Jasper, the two of you finished your drinks some time ago and it seems that Mama isn’t too keen on having customers taking up seat without making any further purchases. Her words, unfortunately, not mine.”

 

A heart laugh left Jasper’s lips and she waved off her apology. “No problem, I know how tense Mama R can get regarding customers.” Glancing at Peri she elaborated. “Garnet’s parents run this place. Mama R, or Ruby, is the more… candid of the two. She’s small but ya don’t wanna piss her off that’s all I’m saying- No offence G.”

 

“None taken.” Replied the slightly amused Garnet. “But, as I was saying, if you would like to continue yo

ur reunion here it would be best if you ordered something else; even something small and inexpensive just to placate the situation.”

 

“Sure, no problem; I don’t really feel like leaving yet, what about you Peri?” Jasper asked as she toyed with her empty cup. Peridot nodded and gave a grin.

 

“As long as this time it’s on me. Can’t have you paying for everything.”

 

“Fair, fair.” Jasper snorted in amusement. “I’ll have the same as last time then.”

 

“Likewise. ” Peridot replied, to which Garnet gave a small nod.

 

“I thought you would.” She replied coolly. “Your orders will be out shortly, please bear with me.”

 

With that, she turned on her heel and smoothly made her way back to the counter. Once she was gone, Jasper stretched and gave the small blonde an amused look. “Well, today’s definitely been one heck of a ride, huh?”

 

“I would say I’m surprised but when it comes to you I should come to expect it by now. You always did revel in the unexpected, indulging in your impulsive nature.” Peridot replied as a small smirk settled on her lips. She received a swat on the shoulder and a playful ‘Hey!’ from her companion but laughed it off and returned with a light shove of her own. Sure, it had been an overwhelming situation and they should be thinking of what to do from here on out; but come on, they’d been apart for years, there would be time for important conversations later.

 

Right now they just wanted to make up for lost time.

Chapter Text

With a soft click, Peridot unlocked the front door of her apartment and let it swing open. Stepping inside, she softly pushed it closed behind her with her foot before turning and hanging her keys on the set of hooks in the hall; a small smile came to her lips as her eyes came to rest on the bundle of keys already hanging there. Even at a glance, it would have been easy to tell the difference between hers and Lapis' keys. She was a minimalist, only having what was absolutely needed to decrease the amount of weight in her bag while Lapis had always been a sucker for key rings; the more odd and outlandish the better, and mostly blue, of course. Lapis loved blue.

 

There had been countless times where she had stared wistfully at the two sets of keys imagining a matching pair of house keys on each of them, but tonight her mindset was different. She and Jasper had talked and talked until they were very politely removed from the establishment at closing time by a short, soft-spoken woman with long hair obscuring her face; Sapphire, she later found out. It had been a bizarre turn of events and despite the joy she felt at having her sister back again, she still couldn’t get over what Lapis, her Lapis, had done to Jasper. Yes, it was years ago, Lapis had most definitely changed for the better, and Jasper seemed more than happy to extend an olive branch for her sake, but it still left her feeling discombobulated.

 

The initial plan had been for her to talk with Lapis when she returned home while the information was still fresh in her mind, but she had been out for far longer than she’d initially intended and due to the lack of movement in the house she could only assume her girlfriend had already headed off to bed. She sighed and ran a hand through her hair before her ears perked up at the soft ‘pat pat’ sound of bare feet on linoleum. Speak of the devil, she thought to herself in amusement.

 

Opening her mouth she was about to turn and offer a greeting to the other girl, only to tense a little in surprise at the sensation of a pair of slender arms wrapping around her from behind. She let out a soft ‘eep’ as the arms were then proceeded by a warmth spreading across her back, indicating that the taller of the two had pressed herself up against her.

 

“Lapis?” She managed to squeak out, only to feel herself flushing as she felt warm breath on her cheek; her girlfriend responded with a soft muffled sound as she leaned down and nuzzled into the crook of her neck.

 

Peridot swallowed, flushing a little at the physical contact “Lapis?” She repeated.

 

“Mmm?”

 

“Thought you’d be asleep when I got home. I didn’t wake you did I?”

 

“Mmph.”

 

“Lapis… words please?”

 

Her girlfriend chuckled softly and planted a soft kiss on her cheek. “Nu-uh.” She replied playfully, to which the slightly frazzled blonde huffed and rolled her eyes. So that was how it was going to be then? Okay.

 

“I swear… you’re insufferable.” She sighed as she shifted in an attempt to free herself from her girlfriend’s grasp; it was a fruitless endeavour as the taller of the two had a firm grip on her and was refusing to let her go. To top it all of she heard the blue-haired girl giggle as she watched her struggle half-heartedly.

 

“Sorry, you know I love to tease you. I just missed you, that’s all.” She finally said softly as she buried her face in Peridot’s hair and inhaled, humming happily. “You used that shampoo I bought you… smells nice.”

 

“U-uhh...” Peridot’s mind attempted to reactivate and assess the situation “I… I missed you too” she managed to stutter out. “Sorry for being gone so long, I just got caught up in conversation and-”

 

“I know, I know.” Came the teasing reply as an exquisitely tattooed arm shifted slightly, fingertips wandering to toy with the hem of the blonde’s hoodie. “I know what you’re like when you get to talking, you really can’t shut up. But still...” Her head moved once again, breath coming out in soft puffs against Peridot’s ear. “It’s not like you to be so spontaneous. I had a little something all planned out for when you got home and you just bolted in and out of the door so quick I barely got to talk to you. No fair.”

 

The voice was soft and still held a teasing lilt, but Peridot could understand where her girlfriend was coming from. She was the type to stick to a routine, something Lapis was all too familiar with and made the most of. It paid to have a girlfriend who was predictable, apparently.

 

She coughed and reached back awkwardly to run her fingers through her partner’s dyed hair in an attempt to be affectionate. “Fair point; I’m sorry love.” She said gently, a small smile on her lips as she spoke. For as tough and intimidating Lapis looked, she really had the capacity for being a sweetheart; at least when it came to her that is. That sweet mindset was quick to dissipate, however, as the soft, upwards tugging off her hoodie caused the garment to ride up around her back and her face flushed a deep red as she felt the all too familiar sensation of skin on skin.

 

She gulped.

“Uh… L-Lapis?”

 

“Mhmm?”

 

Peridot could practically hear the smirk in her girlfriend’s voice, but she persisted regardless.

 

“You are… wearing clothes, right?”

 

There was a pause before Lapis responded.

 

“Hmm… define clothes...” Peridot’s eyes widened.

 

“You know what I meant!” She squeaked out, her heart rate beginning to accelerate. There was only a soft giggle in response before she felt a warm hand slip up under the fabric of her hoodie, a soft fingertip rubbing slow, teasing circles on her stomach.

 

“Lapis-!”

 

“Alright, alright, calm down babe, I was just messing with you.” Lapis giggled again. “If you must know, yes I am. Though… After my shower earlier I couldn’t find any clean clothes of my own to wear, so I took a pair of your underwear from the pile of clean laundry you left on the side. You know, the cute ones with little green aliens on them.”

 

Peridot nodded, trying to get the image of Lapis wearing her underwear out of her head. Granted, she’d seen it many times before, but still.

 

“Okay, and..?”

 

“And what?”

 

“What else?”

 

Lapis snorted, the endearingly dorky noise prompted Peridot to smile a little; god she was adorable.

 

“What is this, some sort of nerdy equivalent of ‘what are you wearing?’ God Peri, I love you but you can be a little dense sometimes.”

 

Spluttering indignantly, Peridot opened her mouth to speak but as she did so, Lapis partially relinquished her hold on her smaller girlfriend in order to take her hand and pull it gently behind her, letting her feel the soft skin of her side before slowly sliding it upwards.

 

“Does this answer your question?” Her voice was low as she spoke; playful but with a certain edge to it that Peridot knew meant trouble.

 

She gulped as she finally processed the information that was being fed to her by her hand. She couldn’t feel much as there was only so high up she could reach from this angle, but the lack of fabric gave her a pretty good mental image. All of a sudden the pressure against her upper back held so much more meaning.

 

There was a beat of silence as she felt herself blushing furiously. Stars, why was she always so mentally unprepared for these situations? She blamed Lapis’ seductive nature; she really was a master of manipulation and she was ashamed to admit she loved every second of it.

 

“You mean uh… that’s it?”

 

A giggle. “Hm?”

 

“My boxers, that’s… that’s all you’re wearing?”

 

Once again the pressure against her shifted and Lapis' lips pressed softly against the shell of her ear. “Ding ding ding, we have a winner!” Was all she said in a playful rendition of a game show host’s voice. The teasing tone remained the same, however, which caused Peridot’s brain to malfunction.

 

When she finally rebooted and the capability for speech returned, she took in a shaky breath.

 

“You, uh, seem to be in quite the eager mood today Lazuli.” she finally managed to fumble out “V-Voracious even, perhaps?”

 

She felt her lover’s soft lips curl upwards in a smile against the shell of her ear.

 

“Mmm… I love it when you use long words.” she hummed approvingly, to which Peridot squeaked once again.

 

“E-excuse-”

 

“Talk nerdy to me, Peri~” Lapis continued with a smirk as she opened her mouth slightly and Peridot just about overheated when she felt her earlobe disappear between slightly chapped lips as Lapis sucked on it softly.

 

This wasn’t how she had planned her evening. They had a serious conversation that needed addressing and it was imperative she did it sooner rather than later but-

 

“Peridot~” Lapis’ voice was low in her ear and- Stars, it was low and seductive and in that specific tone that almost caused heart palpitations in the blonde’s chest. Her logical side was telling her to stop but… She had to reluctantly admit that Lapis knew exactly how to push her buttons.

 

As if sensing her girlfriend’s change of mindset, the taller girl pressed her body flush against her as her lips moved lower, beginning to press gently against the sensitive skin of her neck.

 

Peridot wasn’t even aware of the light moan that had left her lips until the echoes of it reached her ears. She’d been trying to restrain herself, they needed to talk. But dammit, it had been a while since they’d been intimate due to her busy schedule driving her to exhaustion; she’d pass out as soon as she returned home more often than not.

 

‘Besides’ she thought hazily ‘Lapis won’t let up once she’s got her mind sent on something. And why would it be so bad to indulge her?’

 

A breathy chuckle from behind her brought her out of her thoughts.

 

“Hmm.. sounds like someone’s excited.” Lapis teased between kisses. “Feeling a little frustrated are we?”

 

Peridot groaned and took a deep breath. Screw it.

 

“Well, wouldn’t you be?” She replied, surprised at her ability to form a full sentence. “My half-naked girlfriend is pressed up against my back and providing me with some uh... Pleasing sensations, yet all the while keeping me restrained so I cannot return the favour.”

 

The kisses paused at that moment, lips moving in such a way that Peridot could practically predict the expression now on her girlfriend’s face. Eyes half-lidded, lower lip partially disappearing behind her teeth… She gulped.

 

“Well why didn’t you say so?” The taller of them cooed as she slowly relinquished her hold on her. “What sort of girlfriend would I be if I didn’t give you what you wanted~”

 

It took a moment for Peridot to adjust to the development; her body having become accustomed to being restrained. Slowly she shifted in her girlfriend’s arms and turned to face her, finally meeting her gaze. Despite it being the exact expression she had expected she felt her mind become a jumbled mess for just a moment. Yup. Lapis was most definitely topless, topless with a hungry look in her eyes. Granted she couldn’t see much as her girlfriend had resumed her tight hold on the shorter girl, their bodies pressed firmly against each other once again.

 

“See something you like?” The blue-haired girl murmured, tilting her head as she quirked an eyebrow playfully. Peridot swallowed.

 

Yes. 100% yes. Even after well over a year together there were times where she was truly baffled that such a woman had chosen her of all people. It was almost too much for her.

 

“Stars. You’re gorgeous, Laz.” She blurted out.

 

That seemed to catch Lapis off-guard. She blinked and flicked her eyes off to the side, shifting from foot to foot. “Oh… shush…" She whispered shyly, her normally incredibly pale cheeks reddening as a light blush spread across them. In response, Peridot’s eyebrows raised. It never ceased to amaze her that Lapis could be a total queen of self-confidence and seduction one moment, but all it would take was one heartfelt compliment from Peridot to turn her into a bumbling mess. It was confusing, but also incredibly adorable; one of the many reasons why Peridot loved her.

 

“Lapis…”

 

“...Mhm?”

 

“You’re ridiculous. Bizarre even. Ridiculously Bizarre."

 

Eyebrows raised, Lapis took a step back. “Excuse me?”

 

Noticing she was now the one with the upper hand, Peridot felt a rush of confidence and stepped into the space created, grinning playfully. “You’re a bumbling mess now but a few seconds ago you were possibly the most exquisitely sultry individual I’d ever met in my life. You baffle me, Lazuli, and yet I can’t get enough.” Finishing it with a chuckle of her own she leaned up, on partial tip-toes so they were eye to eye.

 

Lapis, clearly just getting what her girlfriend was on about, flushed a darker red and tried to look away but Peridot gently grasped the side of her face and directed it downwards. The shift in dynamic was sudden and would have caught many off guard, but not these two for some reason. Granted, Lapis was usually the more dominant of the two when it came to acts of seduction, but she’d fallen for Peridot for a reason; despite her dorky nature, she had a way with words.

 

Enjoying the moment, Lapis' eyes softened and she rested the side of her face in Peridot’s palm humming contentedly.

 

Watching in amusement Peridot wanted to chuckle but her eyes accidentally slipped downwards and the nudity she’d been unable to see was now on full display. She blushed in response but before her brain shut down once again she leaned up and pressed their lips together.

 

Lapis almost immediately melted into the sensation, letting out a soft mewl as she did so and wrapped her arms around her girlfriend’s neck while responding with fervour. Peridot finally took advantage of her freed arms and slid her hands down Lapis' soft back, fingertips digging into the supple skin as if she were trying to take all the exposed skin as quickly as she could. Kisses from Lapis were intoxicating, they had been from the start; the minute their lips had touched that very first time she knew she was in all kinds of trouble but didn’t want it to stop.

 

Together, they moved away from the door, one step after another before Lapis' hip came into contact with the kitchen counter. She was startled somewhat and broke the kiss, only to look down panting at the equally as breathless Peridot. Both pairs of eyes were huge, pupils were blown large with desire as they stared silently at each other for a moment.

 

“Uh… bedroom?” Came her shy request to which Peridot could only nod.

 

When the soft squeak of bed springs echoed through the open-plan flat, it was Lapis' lithe form that made the sound. She settled on the soft surface and gazed up at Peridot playfully who was eyeing her with a brow raised.

 

“What? Changed your mind?” She said with a giggle to which her short girlfriend just rolled her eyes.

 

“No, no, just a little perplexed; I was hoping after that little display earlier that you wanted to take charge tonight.”

 

Almost immediately Lapis shook her head as her bottom lip disappeared between her teeth. “Nu-uh, it's been a while and I've missed my dominant little nerd.”

 

Peridot was tempted to give another playful retort but the look in her girlfriend's eyes made her rethink the situation. Who would have thought? The tall tough-girl with tattoos and dyed hair preferred to take up the more submissive role. Granted, she would critique Peridot throughout their sessions most of the time, so she was still very much in charge. With that in mind, the blonde sighed and reached for the hem of her hoodie, pulling it up over her head under her girlfriend's gaze and folding it before placing it over the back of her desk chair.

 

There was a snort from the bed. “Seriously? Even now you're being a little neat freak?”

 

“Don't push it Lazuli.”

 

“Oh... sorry, am I being bad ?”

 

“Stars, this isn't a porno! No need for that voice you clod.”

 

“Clod? Really? You have such a huge vocabulary and you use clod ?”

 

With a sigh, Peridot shimmied out of her baggy jeans, folded them and placed them over the top of her hoodie before she clambered onto the bed; settling herself above her still playfully smirking girlfriend. “I only speak the truth Lazuli.” She replied, to which the older of the two chuckled and reached up to wrap her arms around her neck.

 

“Fine… am I a good kinda clod though?”

 

“The best.” Peridot replied without hesitation and quickly leaned down to kiss her before either of them got the chance to become flustered all over again.



It wasn’t until a few hours later, with a very out of breath Lapis slumping against her and a significant lack of any clothing that Peridot’s mind cleared once more from the addled, lust-caused brain-fog that had taken up residence. She knew that now of all times wouldn’t be the most appropriate, but if she didn’t say anything… well, she wouldn’t be able to sleep. It was times like this she really hated how her mind worked.

 

As she continued to contemplate her conundrum, her girlfriend let out a soft breathy chuckle as she settled lower in the bed, nuzzling affectionately into the crook of the blonde’s neck.

 

“Heh.. figured I’d be the one that would be quiet. You trying to catch your breath there Peri?”

 

Unable to stop herself, Peridot rolled her eyes. “Well excuse me, you weren’t the one who had her air supply cut off.”

 

“You’re the one who insisted on it! I was more than happy to just lay back and enjoy myself, but no, you wanted me to straddle your fucking face; so don’t blame me!” Came the indignant yet teasing reply. That was very much true, Peridot couldn’t deny that; but still…

 

“It takes two to tango, Laz.” She reminded her as she gently ran her fingers through the taller girl’s hair, warranting one of her lover’s signature snorts.

 

“God you’re such a smartass.”

 

“But I’m your smartass.”

 

“Damn right!”

 

Peridot shivered a little as she felt Lapis' arms wrap tightly around her. She’d always been the protective one and tonight more so than ever that had been proven. So… knowing the gravity of the news she would have to share made her feel uncomfortable. How would Lapis react?

 

“You know...” Lapis said quietly, her warm breath tickling Peridot’s neck. “Even though I did say I wanted you to take charge, I wasn’t expecting that much...” The blonde didn’t have to look to know her girlfriend was blushing. “You went in for a second round and not once did you allow me to return the favour.”

 

Peridot gave what she hoped was a casual shrug. "Well, I did abandon you earlier with little to no explanation. It was only fair I make up for that mistake."

 

"Hmmm…" A yawn. “That's very sweet of you Peri, but honestly, if I didn't know any better I'd say you were trying to butter me up."

 

That caught Peridot off guard and she tensed briefly; crap, how come she was still this intuitive?

 

The movement didn't go unnoticed and Lapis shifted again, Peridot feeling the smirk spreading across her lips with her face being pressed into the crook of her neck.

 

"Ahh, so there is something. Knew it! You're so predictable, babe."

 

"I am not!" Was the response, followed by a loud huff.

 

Lapis giggled once more and reached up a hand to playfully poke Peridot’s cheek. “Are too.” She replied smugly. “For all your intelligence you really can’t lie to save your life; it’s adorable actually.”

 

“Ugh...”

 

“And don’t you dare try to talk your way out of this. You’re adorable. Adorable and cute.”

 

“Ughh Lapis!” Peridot whined, wriggling a little as she felt the urge to defend herself from such vexing adjectives, but a gentle kiss on her cheek and a hand turning her head altered her mindset.

 

“I’m sorry honey.” Her girlfriend murmured as she stroked her cheek, lips quirked upwards in a cheeky smile as her sleep-laden eyes locked onto the blonde’s. “But you really are so easy to tease. Your face goes all red and you do this little pout; it’s-” She paused, seemingly trying to think of a descriptor that her girlfriend would find less embarrassing. “-beautiful. You’re beautiful Peri.”

 

Silent for a moment, Peridot stared, mouth slightly slack in surprise. She knew post-intimacy Lapis tended to be mushier, but that caught her off guard.

 

“Lapis….” She felt her cheeks flush. “I uh-”

 

“Beautifully cute.

 

LAPIS!”

 

A laugh bordering a cackle echoed through the apartment as Peridot glowered and glared at her girlfriend, who was laughing away merrily.

 

“You’re a devil.” Peridot groaned as she rolled her eyes and gave a half-hearted sigh. “You really revel in my discomfort don’t you? Stars… ”

 

A snort.

 

“Alright, I’ll stop, I promise.”

 

“And why should I believe you?”

 

“Uh… Because you love me?”

 

“...That statement is debatable.”

 

“Periii.”

 

“Clod dammit, fine. You always know how to get back on my good side...”

 

“I should hope so! We’ve been together for over a year after all; relationships don’t last long if there isn’t at least some kind of way to deal with fallouts.” The blue-haired girl smiled a little to herself as she gently ran her finger up and down the soft skin of her girlfriend’s free arm.

 

Chuckling, Peridot wanted to correct Lapis on the specifics of the relationship, but she didn’t think she could handle another teasing about being a ‘little nerd’; especially with the amount she’d endured during her time talking to Jasper.

 

Speaking of Jasper…

 

“You were right, you know.” She mumbled, shifting a little. Lapis looked up at her and blinked, raising an eyebrow quizzically.

“Huh?”

 

“I do have something I need to talk to you about.”

 

Another chuckle; Lapis settling back down beside her and shaking her head. “Called it.” A pause. “You hardly spoil me this much unless you have some sort of ulterior motive.”

 

Peridot sighed, sometimes she hated being so predictable. “True. But anyway.” She cleared her throat before launching into the story.

 

“I didn’t really get much of a chance to tell you anything earlier because everything was just so sudden. But… you remember when I told you about my time in foster care?”

 

She felt Lapis pause a minute in her continued gentle touches before she replied. “Yeah… You never really talked about it much but… I remember the basics. Why do you ask?”

 

“Okay, good. Uh, I told you I had a close friend who went through the system, right? Who I called my sister as we were always so close?”

 

“Yeah? Wait.. you mean?” Lapis sat up a little and tilted her head. “Was it her you went to see? Is that why you were so excited?”

 

Peridot gave a small nod, grinning awkwardly. “Yeah; we bumped into each other earlier today. Turns out after all these years apart she’s now going to the same college as me! I’m still trying to process it but I’m really happy to see her again. I’ve missed her so much.” She would have gone on and on but she knew she had a point to get to, and Lapis was looking at her with an adorably genuine smile.

 

“That’s so awesome!” She replied as she stroked the blonde girl’s hair. “I think you mentioned her a few times before, but nothing too specific cause to me it sounded like you just didn’t like bring her up due to bad memories or something. But, anyway! She’s here? That’s pretty wild; bet not even you could see that coming huh?”

 

“Heh, yeah no kidding. I got the shock of my life when she just appeared out of nowhere. I thought she was coming to pick a fight with me or something before I recognised her! But then again she’s always had that aura around her saying not to screw with her. Helped me out a lot in elementary school I’ll tell you that much!” Peridot grinned to herself at the amusing memories, but then swallowed hesitantly before continuing.

 

“But, yeah… I wanted to tell you about her because when we got to talking I ended up coming out. She’s the same way inclined, was always open about it, so that wasn’t a problem… then she just started teasing me about probably still being a uh...” She flushed. “A virgin. So… I had to inform her that information was false.”

 

Lapis, having been listening intently to her girlfriend’s tale, gave a chuckle at that. “Ah, so you told her about me then, huh?” Her tone shifted to something shyer; it wasn’t a secret that she got flustered when Peridot would tell others about her, knowing her girlfriend wanted to spend time talking about her with others was always flattering.

 

“How could I not?” Peridot responded swiftly. “I can’t fill someone in on my life without mentioning the person who's been a significant part of it for so long!” She sat up and looked a blushing Lapis in the eye. “I didn’t go into too much detail, granted, as we didn’t have a lot of time, but I told her about how we met.”

 

There was a groan as Lapis slumped back against the pillows. “Ugh noooo why’d you tell her that part? I was such a weirdo at that point with my horrible flirting skills and general awkwardness. That’s hardly going to make a good first impression!” She eyed Peridot with an expression that was half amused, half embarrassed.

 

Peridot swallowed. “Heh… about that. You don’t really need to worry about the whole first impression thing.” She glanced down at the confused look on Lapis' face. “She asked to see a picture of you so that she knew what to expect when she finally met you; as it turns out, you guys went to high school together.”

 

She paused at that moment, not wanting to go on until she had gaged Lapis' reaction. The girl in question was no longer looking embarrassed, instead, she was staring up at her with an expression that was hard to pin down.

 

“...No way.” The older girl ran a hand through her hair. “Talk about a small world. Wait, I was… I was a total bitch in high school though. Shit. She probably had a few choice words to say about me; I had a reputation that wasn't the best… As I told you. Did she have an opinion on me based on gossip or something?”

 

There was silence as Peridot racked her brains to come up with a delicate way of saying this. “Um...” She licked her lips. “No, not gossip. You actually kinda knew each other? As in, you interacted a lot? Spent time together?”

 

“What?” Lapis was staring blankly at her. “But, I didn’t really have any friends there. Shit, I didn’t have any friends at all. The only people I really spent any time with were the ones I...” She turned to stare at Peridot. “...Were the ones I used to mess with.” The realization was dawning on her and her expression was turning to one of shock. “Was she- I mean, did she say what I did? Did I fuck with her?”

 

With a light sigh, Peridot gave a small nod. “You.. remember a girl by the name of Jasper by any chance?”

 

Lapis' jaw dropped. “No.” She sputtered out. “No way. Jasper? As in, tall, long blonde-”

 

“-Hair? Vitiligo? Yeah.” Peridot cut in. “That’s her.”

 

Lapis just stared, her body going visibly tense; knowing her girlfriend’s mind was probably going at a million miles an hour, Peridot swiftly lay back down beside her and gingerly placed a hand on her shoulder. She wanted to ask if she was okay, but that was clearly not the case, so instead, she locked eyes with her. “Deep breaths okay? In and out. Don’t want you panicking on me here love.” Her tone was gentle as she tried her best to calm her girlfriend’s mood before she went off.

When it came to panicking, Peridot was the kind who had some sort of freak out on the daily. Lapis, on the other hand, would be few and far between, so when her emotions did get the better of her, they’d be explosive, like the aftermath of shaking a can of Pepsi. She’d gotten it under control more so as of late thanks to supporting from Peridot and her constant pestering to go to some sort of counselling. Nevertheless, Peridot was still nervous. A panicked Lapis was never something she liked dealing with.

 

“Peridot, I- No you don’t understand.” Lapis stuttered out. “I was horrible to her. I revelled in having control I-!”

 

“I know.” Came Peridot’s attempt at a soothing reply. “I know love; she told me what happened, what you did to her… everything.”

 

Lapis stared at her, silent once more before blinking and licking her lips. “If that’s the case… why aren’t you mad? You should be mad.” Her hands flew to her head and she began tugging at her hair in frustration. “Fuck, of all the people I had to fuck with it had to be your sister. Your sister, Peri!”

 

“Lapis… stars, it’s okay, I’m not mad. I’m just...shocked is all. Yes, it took me a while to process and I’m still trying to make sense of it… but I know you. You told me how you were back then, that you enjoyed manipulating people. That it came from a dark place. I know that that person is in the past, that you’ve changed.” Peridot let out a low sigh and removed her girlfriend’s hands from her head, gently holding them in her own. “As messed up as this situation is, I still trust you, and I trust her. If your reaction just now is of any indication, you’re truly repentant about this, and I know that Jasper is willing to talk with you.”

 

A tense silence followed; Peridot trying her best to keep Lapis' gaze while the blue-haired girl did everything she could to avoid locking eyes with her.

 

“...Why would she want to talk to me?” Lapis said quietly after a moment or two; she was holding Peridot’s hands tightly in her own as she continued to avoid looking her in the eye. “I saw what I did to her, Peri, she was manipulated within an inch of her life. I’ve never seen someone so proud and full of themselves go to grovelling on their knees as quickly as she did. I destroyed her; all for some sort of sick ego trip.”

 

Peridot, taking a deep breath, gave a slight shake of her head before replying as if to clear it. She didn’t want to be blunt like this but clearly, Lapis deserved to know the truth. “If I’m being honest here… It’s because of me.” She sighed. “If it wasn’t me you were dating, I don’t think she’d ever want to talk to you again.” Lapis shrunk a little at that but nodded in sad agreement as her girlfriend continued. “She told me that because I trust you, and that because she trusts my judgement, she’s willing to bridge the gap. I know it’s not an ideal situation, but think of it this way: you get the opportunity to apologize, well and truly, to someone you’ve wronged. You’ve both matured and grown, heck, she’s moved on and got a girlfriend of her own now! But that’s a story for another time… ehe. Anyway. You’re both different people now and life has given you an opportunity to partially cleanse your conscience and really prove to yourself how much you’ve grown.”

 

“You make it sound so simple.” Lapis replied in a tone that was somewhat dry. Her blonde girlfriend sighed again and shuffled closer, pressing their foreheads together.

 

“Well you know me, I always know what to say apparently.” That got a small snort out of Lapis, but she continued. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but you always told me that life never is, right? We haven’t picked a time or place to meet yet, so you’ve got all the time you need to think about this and formulate an apology.” She paused. “Something I’ll be helping you with, okay? I’m not having my sister and my girlfriend at odds with each other. That’d just be unacceptable!” She gave an awkward grin in the hopes that her words were proving to be some kind of encouragement. She knew Lapis' default was to run away from her problems, but she was refusing to let that happen this time. They’d face this together.

 

Fidgeting and biting her lip, Lapis rubbed her thumb gently over the back of Peridot’s hand. “...Okay.” She responded uneasily. “I’ll do it. She deserves an apology after all I did to her. As long as you help me figure out what to say because… well, you know me and words.”

 

“I’ll take notes.” Her girlfriend replied warmly. “I’ll even buy a new notebook to write it all in! Bullet-pointed and everything.”

 

“...You already have a billion notebooks in your desk drawer, Peri.”

 

“Lies!”

 

“-As well as a mountain of them sitting in a bag at my place. You haven’t even used any of them yet.”

 

A grumble. “...Fiiiine.”

 

“Nerd...”

 

“Yeah yeah.” Lapis smiled a little and settled back down into her most comfortable position: head tucked under Peridot’s and her face buried happily in her neck “... Can we stay like this for a while? I… I don’t feel like sleeping just yet.”

 

“Of course; with what I’ve just told you, it doesn’t surprise me you’re not tired yet. Although, I was sure our session would have tuckered you out.” There was a snort at that.

 

“...Were you seriously trying to tire me out to make it easier for you to spill the beans?”

 

“I mean… you’ve always been more malleable post-coitus so...”

 

“Okay, I know I said I loved it when you talked nerdy to me, but the mood’s totally gone, Peri. Shush.” There was a pause before both girls giggled a little; Peridot relinquishing her grip on her hands and wrapping her arms around her girlfriend’s waist while the older of the two hummed happily at the contact.

 

“We’ll be okay, Lapis.” The blonde murmured softly as she stroked Lapis' back.

 

“I know…”

----------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Jasper fumbled with her keys at the front door, dropped them, cursed under her breath, picked them back up, and kicked the door wide open. She flung her duffle bag on the floor and kicked off her shoes in a disorderly fashion as they were just completely obstructing the otherwise clean living room space of her mother, Rosanda Diamante. Honestly, from an outsider’s perspective, the single woman's house would have left most house guests bewildered but Jasper definitely thought her living space was quirky and fun in all the right ways. First off, the house was already an obnoxious shade of pink - the inside being only slightly calmer but more bizarre. Plants of a wide variety adorned the room from cacti, to begonias, to fig trees, and bamboo. And, where there wasn't a random ass plant, there was a random ass candle from scents like cupcake to Sakura blossom to fresh linen to rose. There was also an assortment of crystals laying on a velvet lined shelf, from obsidian to agates and aragonites, moonstones, and malachites. It was a pretty elegant hobby of hers, to be honest, going to gem and mineral shows and blowing a good grand on new gems to add to her little army. Aside from all the decorative elements of the room, there was a lovely variety of random paintings, also including a shelf lining the walls from the kitchen to the living room that held bottle after bottle of aged wine. The entire kitchen/living room was refurbished to include a mini bar and it was pretty damn amazing in her opinion. She was truly blessed to have the coolest mom on earth.

 

The sound of a cocktail shaker being shaken behind the mini bar startled Jasper away from her appreciation for the house she resided in, to the now current object of her affections. A heavily focused Pearl was reading some instructions for a mixed drink on her phone while wearing nothing but a lace cami bra and some high waisted shorts that had Jasper captivated. She realized her eyes were lingering on the smaller girl for much too long when Pearl looked up from her drink mixing and smiled at Jasper with a look of longing.

 

“Oh goodness, I didn't know what time you'd be back. I just invited myself in with your spare key under the doormat and thought 10 PM was the most appropriate of times to start drinking. Forgive me?” She winked cheekily.

 

Jasper quirked a brow and grinned. Pearl was really unpredictable at times and she loved it. She ambled towards Pearl, making her way around the mini bar to wrap her arms around the lithe girl's waist from behind, taking in a big whiff from Pearl's mop of hair that resembled a pale peach. Jasper had always had such a keen sense of smell and Pearl always had a lovely, pristine kind of scent that left her simultaneously at ease while also craving more. Jasper and Pearl usually always had the routine of spending the night at each other's respective places every other weekend; Pearl staying over at Jasper's place on one weekend and then Jasper staying over at Pearl's on-campus dorm the next weekend. The two of them rarely even had too much time to spend alone with one another. There was always Rosanda being a hella extra mom doting over her daughter and her respective girlfriend, or Pearl's roommate Amethyst always goofing around making suggestive comments leaving Pearl uncomfortable and Jasper heated. The larger of the two struggled internally with the side of her that wanted to immediately fill Pearl in on her meet up with Peridot but also indulge in the time they had alone together before her mother got off of work later in the evening.

 

“That eager to see me, huh?” Jasper teased as she kissed the back of Pearl's neck playfully before standing back up to her full height. Pearl shivered.

 

“Ah-- well, yes. Ugh, it's been such an exhausting week. My engineering physics class has been wringing me dry and I haven't been able to take a breather at all, whatsoever. It’s just been a daily routine of wake up, stress out, and maybe sleep. I've missed a couple of fencing classes these last 2 weeks, too. Not to mention, Amethyst has been driving me up the wall while being a constant distraction. And , I'm fed up with her constantly messing up the fridge whenever I organize it. Like, please explain to me why she had a mouldy pack of cottage cheese with “do not toss” written on it in sharpie? So yes , I am very pleased to see you, Jasper.” She placed her hands over Jasper's hands that were still lovingly wrapped around Pearl's midsection.

 

Jasper smiled, knowing all too well how riled up her girlfriend got when placed in tense situations and how she'd just start venting dramatically out of nowhere when she couldn't put up with everything any longer.

 

“Well, good thing you're here now with me back where you belong. I can't stop you from overexerting yourself because I know you won't listen, but I sure will give you the best damn weekend to compensate for your shitty week, babe.”

 

“Thank you, hun, means a lot.” Pearl closed her eyes in content and squeezed Jasper's hands with her much smaller ones.

 

“Whatchu making there by the way?”

 

“Oh, I was just scrolling down Pinterest and found this cute tequila cocktail that just reminded me so much of your mom that I giggled. It's called a Pink Senorita. How fitting right? If it turns out well, I'm definitely making her one when she gets back. Pass me a couple of glasses love?”

 

Well, that was beyond endearing. Pearl was a definite people pleaser if she liked you enough. And if she didn't like you, she'd just shoot you looks of disgust and give you the cold shoulder.

 

“Trying to get on Rosanda's good side tonight, are you? I mean, knowing her she's definitely gonna just drop to the couch and start ranting about her day and complaining about how Mari and Azul won't get off her back, so you definitely have the right idea going on here.”

Jasper regretfully unwrapped her arms from her willowy girlfriend's waist and retrieved 2 clear glass cups and watched as Pearl poured them out and garnished them with mint and a lemon wedge each.

 

“Oh you know she already loves me. It's nice being somewhere where I feel wanted for once.” Pearl said meekly. Jasper knew what it was like being the black sheep of the family but Jasper would still never understand or comprehend how her girlfriend’s parents could be so vile and greedy as to reject such a hard-working and wholesome girl like Pearl.

 

“Well, you're always welcome here! Just know that. Whenever you're feeling overwhelmed don't hesitate to come over, ok? I really can't imagine staying on campus and having to be constantly reminded of classes every god damn second of the day, but I am also blessed with a cool mom. But hey, you're already part of the family, you're stuck with our craziness. Cheers, by the way!” Jasper picked up her glasses and clinked it against Pearl's glass, taking a hearty swig, not being surprised whatsoever that the drink turned out amazing. Pearl did nearly everything perfectly. She watched her partner take a dainty sip and felt a surge of relief at the fact Pearl was letting loose tonight. She didn't partake in drinking nearly as much as Jasper did so Pearl really must have a had a particularly stressful week to be up for this.

 

“Oh wow, that's actually very pleasant. I think I'll save that pin.” She clicked the save button on Pinterest and closed the app, content with a job well done.

 

“This is bomb, like… I'll take 4 more of these please?”

 

“Um, no? One more and then I'm done being bartender for the night. I know you're a tank so you may as well take shots from then on out.”

 

“Fair enough.” Jasper shrugged. She really was perfectly capable of handling her alcohol given her vast stature. Growing up with a mother that let her start drinking at 18 didn't really help either. If anything, Jasper would be incredibly amused and happy to take care of and dote over a tipsy Pearl considering her slight stature and low tolerance.

 

Two Pink Senoritas and two shots in and Pearl was a giggling mess in Jasper's lap having just been told whilst watching a romantic lesbian comedy movie called “But I'm a Cheerleader” that Jasper had once taken cheer classes back in middle school and was reminiscing about it heavily. She had been considerably good at it since she had always been the tallest and bulkiest of her class and the damned best back spot turned quarterback her coaches had ever trained.

 

“Oh stars, I am just getting a real kick out of imaging you with pom poms chanting some ridiculous cheer.” Pearl giggled behind her hand.

 

“Hey, cheer is a legit sport! You don't know how exerting it really is! It was fun when I was a kid, but damn, I really wanted to get in on the competitiveness of college football and not be on the sidelines any longer. You would have made a great flyer if you had taken up cheer! You're light and flexible.”

 

“I mean, I definitely would not have minded basically being bench pressed by you in cheer if I had gotten into it.” The inebriated girl flung her arms around Jasper's neck and smiled into her shoulder sheepishly.

 

Jasper's heart swelled with joy at Pearl's openness and adorable little drunk affectionate actions. Jasper had had two drinks and 6 shots and was feeling mildly tingly all over. She couldn't remember when the last time she had felt this content had been, but what she was aware of was that her girlfriend was in her lap soaking up her presence and seemingly craving more affection. She also took a glance at the clock and realized the two of them would only have another hour of alone time before her mom came home from work and wanted to make the most of it.

 

“How are you so cute?” Was all Jasper could say as she got caught up in her feelings and sunk her abnormally sharp teeth into the spot where neck met shoulder, earning a shudder and a soft murmur of approval from the smaller of the two. She assumed those breathy little sighs of delight was all the permission she needed to start sucking vigorously at her neck, causing an already flustered Pearl to dig her pruned nails into Jasper's back, moving her head to the side slightly to allow Jasper better access to the sensitive skin. They both knew it’d leave a mark but they were past caring. Pearl liked wearing turtle-necks anyway so it’d be easy to hide if needs be.

 

“Did you just sidle into my place wearing only that bra Pearl? That's so very risque of you.” Jasper grazed her teeth across her girlfriend's jaw teasingly.

 

“Y-yes and no. I was... wearing a cardigan over it.”

 

“I see, so you took it off to seduce me and get me drunk, didja?” She lapped Pearl's neck with her tongue possessively and grasped at the soft tissue hidden beneath her bra, encouraging Pearl to relinquish reign and just submit to all that was Jasper after such a hectic and wearing week.

 

Pearl groaned, loving what she was hearing. “I just...oh stars, Jasper, quit teasing me already.”

 

Jasper shook her head, her thick mane of hair swaying back and forth.

 

“Nope, you're mine for the taking tonight. You deserve to be taken care of after the trying week you've had babe.” She murmured huskily into Pearls ear. Pearl knew at that very moment she’d found herself the perfect partner (she knew Jasper would disagree and say she was far from perfect, but she could think what she wanted). If it hadn’t been for that one brief lapse of judgement that had lead her to be dragged along by her rambunctious roommate to that one fateful football game, they may never have spoken a word to each other. In the haze that was her current state of mind, she reminded herself to thank Amethyst for encouraging her to take that big step and talk to the muscular woman who had transfixed her so much on the pitch.  

 

Jasper, meanwhile, continued her ministrations; assaulting the soft skin of Pearl’s neck with a mix of teeth and tongue that had the smaller of the two whimpering softly, her eyes closing.

 

“J-Jasper.” She mewled. “I truly am I’m enjoying this but… I’d love to return the favour.”

 

The football player smirked at that. As much as she loved to see her demure Pearl take charge in bed, she wanted to take care of her smaller lover tonight considering she had had such a demanding week of classes. The smaller of the two was also a lot easier to get off considering there was so little of Pearl to work with and so much of Jasper.

 

“Sorry babe, no can do.” She responded, her voice low and husky. However, despite this, Pearl seemed insistent, for she readjusted herself on Jasper's lap so she was straddling her with one knee wedged in between Jasper's thighs, moving in a slow, teasing rhythm with a shit eating grin on her pretty little face. Surprised, Jasper let out a low growl and held the slender girl’s waist in a firm grip. She wasn't aware of how feisty Pearl could get under the influence of alcohol but she certainly was amused and highly turned on by the ivory skinned girl's forwardness at the moment.

 

“You're something else, you know that Pearl?” Without even waiting for a response, Jasper hoisted Pearl up and off the couch, tearing a surprised squawk from her partner’s throat. Pearl's lips moved, trying to form a coherent response but Jasper took that moment to envelop them in a passionate kiss causing Pearl's eyes to flutter shut once more.

 

Jasper pulled away reluctantly, taking in Pearl's soft expression, flushed face, and half-lidded eyes.

“I don't know how much time we have but I'd much rather not get caught on the couch. I have a cool mom, but definitely not as cool as Regina George's mom from Mean Girls. So... Upstairs?”

 

“Yes please.” Pearl giggled as she grasped onto her girlfriend's broad shoulders for dear life and let herself be carried down the hall and up the stairs into Jasper's room. It was fairly messy, but even Pearl was in no mood to comment on the state of disarray it was in. She was thrown onto the bed rather roughly, but Jasper knew she didn't like being treated as if she was fragile. The larger girl crawled utop her lover whose face was now as peachy rose-tinted as her hair and engulfed her in a veil of her long thick hair, shrouding her from view completely.

 

For once Jasper was glad that her mom called her to let her daughter know she was going to be running late getting home due to a freeway collision, so the freeway was going to be temporarily closed until the debris was cleared from the lanes. Only made sense that there were irresponsible drunk drivers out around this time on a Saturday. Jasper was only relieved because now that she and Pearl had a little extra alone time, she supposed now was the moment to bring up Peridot to her sleepy and cuddly girlfriend. They bathed in the afterglow of the lovemaking they had just shared. Pearls hair now considerably mussy as she lay sprawled out on her stomach, body draped over Jasper and face tucked into the crook of her neck. Pearl stirred however and muttered something about water, getting up off of Jasper and returning 2 seconds later with an already half empty cup that she offered Jasper.

 

“Thirsty?” Jasper glanced down at the glass and grinned.

 

“Parched. You were merciless, brute. Pearl teased as she plopped back onto the bed gracelessly, legs still weak.

 

“You were really loud, it made me just lose it. So, sorry not sorry.” Jasper ruffled Pearl's hair affectionately and downed what was left of the water.

 

“Since we have a little extra time before your mom comes home, how about letting me have a chance to reward you for all that hard work?” Pearl's eyes glinted as she spoke softly into Jasper's shoulder, idly tracing circles up and around the built woman's torso.

 

Jasper shuddered slightly and gulped but shook her head vigorously, placing her hands upon Pearl's shoulders and looking her dead in the eye.

 

“Yes, I mean-- no, wait, Pearl I gotta tell you something, alright?”

 

Pearl looked at Jasper's anxious face with perplexed eyes, but shrieked with eyes wide as saucers as a curly, soft, pink haired woman slammed the door to her daughter's room wide open, a wide smile plastered her youthful face.

 

“Jasper!! My big baby girl, didja miss me!? Oh-- did I interrupt something? I'll just be in the kitchen then!” She slipped out of the door frame and swung the door back shut a little harder than should have been done and took her leave.

 

Pearl was staring daggers at her girlfriend who had just kind of froze in place and was still staring at the door with her mouth hanging wide open.

 

“You didn't lock the DOOR Jasper!? Stars, I don't think I can ever look your mother in the eye ever again!”

 

Jasper jerked her head towards Pearl at the sudden intrusion of her girlfriend's voice, once breathy and needy and now sharp and stern.

 

Well, this was just great. Pearl had been in such a tranquil state and now because of her little mistake, while she was in a lustful mood, there was no way in hell she'd be able to tell Pearl about Peridot and Lapis now.

 

“Uhh… I mean, in my defense I was carrying you when we got in here… and, well, at least the blanket was covering your chest right?” I mean, they were both covered to an extent. Jasper was still actually wearing her bra at least.

 

Pearl deadpanned at her insensitive girlfriend, put her nose in the air, and leapt out of bed with the grace of someone clinging onto whatever dignity they had left. She ignored Jasper's excuse, though, in search of her shorts and lacy bra and panties, angrily thrusting her legs into each pant leg when she found them (Jasper had them strewn throughout the room when they had been peeled from Pearl's body) and checked herself out in the mirror on the wall, trying to rearrange each stray strand of hair back into place. She then buttoned up the cardigan she hadn't actually even worn that entire night for a more modest look. Jasper scratched the back of her head, torn between wanting to comfort her perturbed girlfriend but also wanting to give her a moment to make herself presentable for her mother. The brawny girl decided on changing into pyjamas herself, which was really  just a pair of gym shorts and a random t-shirt. She caught Pearl's eye whilst changing, causing the slight girl to look down immediately and cross her arms. Jasper smirked.

 

“Cute, even when you're angry you can't help but to check me out.”

 

Pearl spluttered and flushed.

 

“I was not! I'm just waiting for you so we can get this confrontation with your mother over and done with. Seriously, a great way to kill the mood, Jasper. I owe your mother like… 3 pink Senoritas after that. And one for myself since I was startled sober. And none for you! Don't you dare give me those eyes!”

 

Jasper was indeed giving her agitated girlfriend the most adorably innocent puppy eyes and pouty lips she could muster to no avail.

 

“Alright, fine, let's go out there and face my mom. Hopefully she's chilled out cuz she seemed way too bubbly when she barged in… I'll make it up to you with a round two later on?”

 

“Don't push your luck.” Pearl pursed her lips as she opened the door for Jasper so she could follow behind in her hulking shadow and pretend to not exist.

 

They arrived back in the living room to find Rosanda laying back on the recliner in front of the TV, laughing hysterically at some sort of overly exaggerated reality show with a wine glass in hand. Jasper was always so amused over how whitewashed her mom was, even if her mother's pozole was authentic and delicious enough to be her last meal.

 

“Hey Mom, how was work? Sorry you got stuck in such bad traffic.”

 

Her mother turned her head and grinned toothily, leaping up from the recliner and consuming Jasper's large frame in a tight hug.

 

“I'm great! Sorry, it was crazy today! Hi Pearl! I missed you! I only see you like, what twice a month?” She pulled an abashed Pearl into the group hug momentarily before letting go and continuing her story as Pearl delicately offered to make some drinks for her girlfriend's excitable mother.

 

“Azul and Mari were arguing about the different ways we should be upholding standards and holding each other accountable for whenever something isn't done correctly and oh man, what a shit show that was!”

 

Jasper was honestly only half paying attention to her mom's work tale, fumbling through scenarios in her head on how to break the ice about Peridot and Lapis, not exactly wanting to shove it aside til the next day and potentially ruin their actual date day before classes again, where she would be lucky to get a few consistent texts out of Pearl throughout the busy work week.

 

Jasper was jogged out of her thoughts as Pearl sauntered towards her and begrudgingly thrust a drink into her hand before perching herself upon her knee facing away from Jasper's face. Jasper's free hand hesitantly reached out to hold Pearl around the midsection. Her willowy girlfriend placed her own free hand over Jasper's around her waist, thankfully. Meaning Pearl's sour mood was slowly starting to lessen.

 

“And that's how the three of us got Bianca to reveal to us why she's a stickler for perfection! Crazy right?” Rosada concluded even though Jasper hadn't heard nearly enough to piece everything she said together.

 

“Yeah, totally crazy. Uhh, thanks for spilling the tea. Maybe I'll meet her sometime soon?”

 

Rosanda downed her drink in one fluid motion.

 

“SHE BLUSHED JASPER, SHE BLUSHED! Whoo man, I see her in a completely new light now! But yes! I plan on holding another party soon and Bianca said she'll actually go this time! Wow, if it wasn't for this beautiful bonding moment tonight I would have been intimidated by her for an eternity!”

 

“She definitely seemed way too controlling, I'm glad that the three of you were able to change her mind!” Pearl chimed in. Of course, she had been paying attention. Pearl turned towards her and raised an eyebrow, obviously perplexed as to what was troubling Jasper suddenly.

 

“Definitely!! She was never any fun to be around that's for sure. So I'm really hoping she pulls through and becomes more accepting of our weaknesses as much as our strengths! Jasper dear, you look sick. Did you drink too much? Am I bugging you guys too late in the evening? Errr--morning?” She said as she looked up at the clock above the TV.

 

“Oh, I'm so sorry you two! I've kept you guys up for much too long. I just had to give you two the scoop on what went down tonight! However, that drink was absolutely amazing Pearl, you should really look into doing bartending on the side! Empire City isn't far from here and you're pretty enough to make some good dough over there! But hey, go back to your room! I won't disturb you guys next time.”

Rosanda winked knowingly. Pearl's lips tightened as her face reddened. Jasper scrunched up her face and bit her lip. She got up, however, jogging Pearl from her comfortable position atop her knee, but preventing her from falling due to her arm around the smaller girls waist.

 

Jasper pulled her mother into a tight hug, smothering a peeved Pearl along with her.

 

“I love you, Momma, get some sleep soon, okay? My mind has, uh… just been elsewhere tonight. I'm sorry.” And with that, she dragged a bewildered Pearl along with her back to her room, a little more hurriedly than was necessary, perhaps.

 

Jasper grimaced as soon as the door was closed and locked behind them this time. Pearl wriggled out of Jasper's grasp, brows quirked whilst frowning and leaning to one side with a hand on her hip.

 

“Jasper, erm-- what's going on? I've never seen you so on edge before. Care to tell me what's on your mind?”

 

Jasper avoided Pearl's eyes and looked to the side, staring fixedly at a small photo of a 13-year-old Jasper hugging her adoptive mother tightly after moving into her new home. Even at the age of 13, she was still taller than both her mother and Pearl. Ugh, how was she supposed to start this conversation off anyways? She was a loss for words and had the strangest feeling that she was feeling more uncomfortable over the upcoming topic of discussion than Pearl would probably feel. She imagined Pearl would feel just as awkward and distressed as she was feeling at the moment if Pearl had to endure a confrontation with Rose. Granted, Jasper and Lapis had never dated, but the heartbreak and emotional trauma would still always be there on the outskirts of her mind, and she was displeased that it was all likely to resurface once again. She took a deep breath and prepared for the worst.

 

“Uhh… before my mom interrupted us, I, well-- I wanted to tell you something. Something that involves both of us.”

 

Pearl may have been infuriated with her lioness of a girlfriend earlier but seeing her in shambles like this was very concerning and wrenched at Pearl's heartstrings. She reached out and took Jasper's large palm into her own slight hand and rested her other palm over Jasper's hand in reassurance, looking up at Jasper's face with earnest eyes.

 

“Hey gorgeous, you're safe here with me. Let me know what's up and we'll deal with it together. You're not alone hun.”

 

Jasper nearly melted like an orange creamsicle on a hot day at Pearl's sweet words and round empathetic eyes full of genuine concern and adoration. What had she done to deserve such a lovely human being in her life?

 

“You're fucking precious Pearl, I love you so much. But, well, I didn't exactly get to tell you about my day earlier. Your presence kind of distracted me... Well, you know how I messaged you earlier letting you know I was on a coffee date? So, earlier in the day I was at the library with Bismuth and Topaz and, well… you know that I was a foster baby. But ends up that the girl I always considered my sis growing up in the program was sitting right by us. Like… weird right? I had never seen her prior to that, I mean, yeah it's a fairly large campus, but what were the odds?”

 

“That's crazy Jasper! I'm so happy for you, though! Getting to rekindle what the two of you shared together. Of course you'd consider her family, with the two of you having no one at the time to care for and look out for you at the time. I can understand your pain to a certain extent. You know how my family is. But, ah well, did she recognize you? After all these years, did you two still end up sharing the same bond you guys had together before?” Pearl beamed at Jasper, eyes aglow.

 

“Honestly, yeah. It felt the same as it did over 10 years ago, to be honest. There was always a side of me that wondered if we'd ever meet up again in the future. And I'm glad the scenarios that played in my head stayed the same. She's… well-- shes kind of a nerd like you. Always was, always will be. But oh man, did she keep me in line back then. I was always the offense and she was my defence. We made a good team, kinda balanced each other out. Like, living whilst feeling unwanted and rejected really made it feel like it was us against the world. She got adopted before me, though, scored herself some rich lawyer parents that had her best interests at heart. But... ahh, yeah. She's the reason why I was running behind on getting home. We just had so much to catch up on.”

 

“No, no, it's completely understandable, love! You 100% deserve to have your sister back in your life again and make up for lost time! She definitely seems to be a good influence on you! It's not often that I get to see you feeling so sentimental and it's oh so endearing,” Pearl said, resting one of her own palms against her cheek coyly and her other arm wrapped around her midsection.

 

Jasper was half-heartedly ready to break the news. Already mourning the charming smile that was being thrown her way. The tanned girl scratched the back of her head in nervousness but no way in hell was she gonna back down now.

 

“Well, like I said. This involves you as well, Pearl. I uh-- well I told her about you. How we met, the whole gushy story basically. As it turns out, all three of us went to elementary school together. Of course, you didn't know me all that well back then and I never expected you to, considering I didn't really associate myself with anyone who was all that brainy besides my sis. But from what she told me, you two kind of butted heads back then academically speaking.

 

Jasper grasped Pearl's shoulders and looked down into her eyes earnestly.

“Who do you distinctly remember quarrelling with on science projects back then?”

 

Pearl scrunched up her face, one single name on the tip of her tongue.

 

“... Peridot? Conceited? Short?” Pearl quirked a brow.

 

“YES. Right on the dot! Or should I say, Peri dot? ” Jasper laughed hesitantly but was given the stink eye.

 

“Do you have ANY idea how much of a nuisance she was?” Pearl remarked whilst pinching her nose in distaste. “She wanted to outdo me in EVERYTHING. There were moments where we would bicker and my confidence would shatter for a second before I had to remind myself that I am indeed gifted and deserved positive validation. I may have been a bit too cocky at times with her, but I mean, after elementary school we basically became rivals so I tried to justify my behaviour since we rivalled against each other in science fairs. But-- stars, I've moved on from all that. I don't feel the need to prove my self-worth by besting her in science fairs anymore. I'm focused on me and not what others think of me now. Or, at least, I'm trying you know…”

 

Jasper held Pearl's left cheek in the palm of her hand, knowing both of their insecurities were bound to show tonight.

 

“Yes, Pearl, I know you are and you're doing such a good job babe.” Jasper purred. “I know more than anyone that you're not some pompous self-entitled brat. I told Peridot about your family situation and the challenges you've faced. But look at you now! Thinking about yourself instead of putting everyone else up on some pedestal! Now you're taking the world by storm and you should be proud, I'm proud of you Pearl.”

 

Pearl looked up at Jasper with large round saucer eyes, glistening slightly and perhaps a little damp around the edges, for she hastened to wipe her eyes on the back of her hand immediately.

 

“Thank you, hun. I really needed to hear that after this gruelling week I've had. Do you think she'll forgive me? I mean… she wouldn't still hold a grudge after all these years, would she? Does she expect an apology? I mean, she was as merciless at times. I mean, I'll do it but… ugh why'd she have to be your sister? Like, who would have thought? You're both complete opposites, I just don't--” Jasper cut her off by placing the palm that was on her cheek over her mouth and smiled.

 

“Hey, slow down girl, you're overthinking this. I already told her you'd probably want to shake hands in a truce and end the nerd war once and for all. If she starts pressing your buttons when you meet her, I'll tell her off. And yes , we planned on a… sort of double date kind of thing,” she quickly added as Pearl let out a gasp of discontent from beneath her hand.

 

“Hey, come on now, I wanna flaunt my cute nerdy girlfriend to my cute nerdy sister. And, well….I gotta admit that I'm a little nervous over this whole ordeal as well, because like I said… it's a double date. She is-- well, dating someone I also happen to know fairly well… you're aware of the trust issues and my initial unwillingness to open up to you in the beginning stages of our relationship, yeah? Turns out… my sis is dating the chick that fucked me up back in high school.” Those last words spilt out of Jasper's mouth somewhat hurriedly, an uneasy expression settled over her face.

 

Whaaaaaat!? ” Pearl squawked in a state of shock as Jasper's hand recoiled from her mouth. “Why didn't you bring this up right off the bat?? I knew you looked uncomfortable when you dragged me back to the room and I knew Peridot wasn't the source of that discomfort once you brought her up so it HAD to be something else bugging you. Stars, Jasper, who cares about Peridot and I! I am much more concerned with a confrontation between you and… Lapis? Forgive me if I forgot her name. I don't want you to have to relive that emotional trauma she put you through!” Pearl wrapped her arms around Jasper's midsection in a tight soothing hug, her face ending up in Jasper’s chest.

 

“I… I definitely was a tad anxious to bring this up tonight. Peridot and I told each other that we'd break the news to our partners tonight and I really didn't want to push it til tomorrow. Honestly, I knew you'd react this way. You care so much, it's endearing. And this is why I needed to tell you so badly, because stars Pearl I need your support right now. Funny, huh? Me actually relying on others for support when I used to be so headstrong and big headed. I kicked myself in the ass back then over how weak-kneed I had become over some girl but maybe I needed someone to fuck me up in order for me to realize even the strongest of people can become fragile. Also, do you plan on suffocating yourself in my chest?”

 

Pearl looked up from her current position and flushed when she made contact with Jasper's amber eyes, ignoring the question.

 

“She obviously impacted your life greatly and somehow helped mould you into the woman you are now… but-- are you gonna be alright? Sounds like it could very well be a shaky encounter between you two. Of course, I'll be there by your side, but are you comfortable with this? It's ok to ease into things at a slower pace if you don't find yourself ready for this confrontation.”

 

“I'd be lying to myself if there wasn't any sort of apprehension about what could possibly happen, but Peridot told me that Lapis has changed and is well aware of her toxicity back then and regrets all of it wholeheartedly. And what am I supposed to do? Not take my sister's word for it? I'll give her the benefit of the doubt in this matter. The fact she fell in love with my sister and bettered herself for her means something right?”

 

“I can only trust your judgement alone Jasper. If you believe you can handle this situation, then I trust you, and you know I'm going to be your first line of defence if anything bad happens.

 

“Thank you Pearl, just don't draw a sword on her out of nowhere.” Jasper grinned.

 

“Only on the unlikely chance that she's out to get you, love.” Pearl got up on her tippy toes to peck her girlfriend whom towered over her on the lips. “Are you feeling any better after getting all of this off your chest?”

 

“100% honestly. Wow. I wonder how that played out on Peri's end. Hopefully, Lapis was just as open and accepting as you Pearl.”

 

“We can only hope for the best. You better fill me in on everything she tells you next time you see her or receive a text from her!”

 

“I will, I will.” Jasper smiled warmly. “Now, I'd suggest round 2 right now, but you have some severe bags, Pearl, you look dead beat exhausted and I need you in tip top shape for tomorrow.”

 

“Oh? What can you possibly have in store for me tomorrow Jasper? And also, I never agreed to your round 2 offer and the mood was killed more than once tonight so, yes, I would greatly appreciate some shut eye right now.”

 

“Fair enough.” And with enough force to knock the breath out of Pearl, she was tackled Quarterback style onto the bed.

 

“Oof, and you were trying to be gentle with that one weren't you?” Pearl gasped.

 

Jasper unbuttoned Pearl's cardigan and kissed her chest sultrily. “Yessss, but I know you love it.”

 

“That I do, but Jasper hun, mind laying on your other side for me?” Jasper obliged to Pearl's request and turned over, Pearl immediately wrapping her arms around as much of her girlfriend's midsection as she possibly could, her chest pressed up against Jasper's broad back.

 

“You feel like a backpack when you spoon me.” Jasper retorted playfully.

 

“Oh shush, you.” Pearl said, smothering her face into Jasper's wild mass of blonde hair, pleased to be able to sleep soundly tonight side by side with her partner.

Chapter Text

“For the last time Amethyst, I already told you I got a scratch on my neck from a low tree branch. It's nothing more than that!” Said a peeved Pearl as the two roommates walked out of their respective classes and met up with each other. Pearl still had one more class, but that didn't start for another 30 minutes. Amethyst, however, was on her way to the parking lot where she expected her cousin Carnelian to pick her up and take her to a local house party she knew of. On a Monday night of all nights. Pearl had tried to convince her not to go, always giving her short rambunctious roommate a good scolding when she neglected her responsibilities and workload from classes. She was really holding Amethyst accountable for showing up for her 8:30 am class Tuesday morning. Pearl had memorized Amethyst's schedule and also happened to be on good terms with all of her professors, so if need be she would march on down to Amethyst's classroom during a free period and ask if she had shown up that morning.

 

“Aw P, come on just tell me! No one puts a god damned band-aid under their jaw of all places. What you hiding under that ugly turtleneck Pearl? SHOW ME!” The lilac-haired girl made grabbing motions with her hands and laughed menacingly.

 

Pearl rolled her eyes, tempted to turn back and let Amethyst walk to the parking lot herself to find her ride off campus. Pearl was indeed fibbing, though, Jasper had been relentless with the hickies that weekend, assuming she'd be able to hide them with just the ugly mustard yellow turtleneck she was donning at the moment. But underneath the high collar, ivory had turned to plum.

 

“You better drink responsibly tonight Amy. I know your cousins are...well...reckless to be completely honest with you. Just hope they care enough about your education to make sure you're dropped back off in the morning! Start drinking early so you fall asleep by 2 am at the very least.”

 

“Yes, momma! I'll be the good little girl you've always wanted me to be!” Amethyst said in a voice feigning innocence.

 

Pearl rolled her eyes, knowing her advice would go through one ear and out the other no matter how incessantly she tried.

 

“So what did Jaz have in store for you this weekend? I know you let her choose what to do when you're over at her place for the weekend so fill me in on the details P!”

 

“Hmm, well...yesterday she attempted to make me breakfast even though she very well knows that I enjoy doing that sort of thing for her . It was a sweet gesture though, her omelette turned into a scramble when she tried to flip it. Later that afternoon she took me to a retro gaming arcade that Mr Smiley apparently opened up in a neighbouring city I guess? I discovered I'm pretty good at Pacman considering I never play these sort of things. And then in the evening, we went to a wine tasting event. In case you didn't know, Jasper's mom really got me into wine. I don't drink it to get drunk of course, I do it for the sensory examination and evaluation of the wine! You critique wine from the aroma, appearance, “in mouth” sensations, and aftertaste! Jasper didn't seem to understand the whole practice of it and just got wine drunk in the end, but it was a lovely experience and I was happy regardless. I never know what to expect on the weekends that she takes me o-WWW!!”

 

During Pearl's reminiscing of the weekend with her girlfriend, she hadn't noticed Amethyst reach her arm up and peel the band-aid off from her jawline, causing a harsh stinging sensation. She was surprised the short girl could even reach her neck at all.

 

“Ohoho! Jasper did a number on your neck huh!? I knew it!” Amethyst said, hooting with laughter.

 

“Amethyst!! I'm going to wring your neck one day so you have some bruises of your own!” Pearl shrieked, a hand clasped under her own jaw to replace the missing band-aid and her face turning a vibrant shade of pink. She was so infuriated that she didn't even notice when she brushed up against the side of a tall woman with shaggy pink hair…

 

The woman turned her head to the side, dark greens boring into Pearl's blues, the ghost of a smile lingering on the taller woman's plump lips.

 

Ugh. Sabina. Pearl had had the pleasure of not bumping into her for a couple of months, but regardless of attending an exceptionally large college, it was hard to avoid certain people completely. Pearl smiled crookedly up at her per usual though.

 

“Oh damn, uhh...hey P! I see Carnelian's car over there, I'm gonna head out! Uhh--have a good night, bye!” Amethyst grimaced at the awkward confrontation happening before her.

 

“Ahh-Amethyst w-wait!” It was too late however, the shorter girl had booked it and left the taller of the two in an uncomfortable position without a second thought. She supposed there was no other option but to face the woman before her now, who was currently chewing at her bottom lip, causing her labret ring to slide back and forth through her lip.

 

“Ah...hi Sabina, it's been a while. How've you been?” Pearl asked awkwardly, fingers raking through the back of her hair nervously. Sabina had been, to put it simply, a rebound. After Rose had left her about a year and a half ago, Pearl had looked for anything and anyone to help fill the void that her ex-girlfriend had left her with and found that instantly with Sabina. Tall, fluffy and curvaceous in all the right places with luscious pink locks, Pearl had somehow picked up the courage to talk to her at a dorm kickback that Amethyst had dragged her along to (Amethyst dragging Pearl out to socialize and meeting attractive women seemed to be a recurring scenario), soon finding herself unabashedly making out with her in a corner of the room and waking up the next day with the guiltiest of conscious. The fling they had ended up going on for a month or two before Pearl had eventually let slip Rose's name while the two of them locked lips, ending the night with a very uncomfortable conversation and green eyes full of hurt and pity before they parted ways and attempted to steer clear of one another from then on out. Pearl knew what she had done wasn't right and she still felt her guts churn in discomfort every time they ran into each other. No wonder Amethyst had taken her leave so suddenly. She out of anyone had known how head over heels Pearl had been for Rose and had warned her slender friend about jumping into something she wasn't ready for so soon after a breakup, especially someone who looked uncannily like their ex.

 

Sabina didn't look nearly as perturbed as Pearl felt at least.

“Eh, I've been alright. Going to a show tonight. My bikes in the shop unfortunately so I had to hit up a friend from another college a good few miles away. Shouldn't take her too long though. Oh! Speak of the devil, I hear her bike right now. Damn, she's quick. Hey Lazuli!”

 

Pearl tensed up at the last name that had been uttered as well as the obnoxiously loud motorcycle revving coming from the approaching blue Kawasaki. The girl on the bike pulled up and removed her helmet, shaking her head in restrictive freedom, her Persian blue hair swishing back and forth revealing her hidden undercut. She was clad in what looked like a lightweight lambskin leather jacket, the skinniest of jeans Pearl had ever seen, and a pair of patent leather Dr Marten's boots. She definitely looked like the type of chick who'd be hanging around someone as cool and chill as Sabina, yet Pearl internally questioned for a moment why this woman would fraternize with annoying little pests such as Peridot before mentally kicking herself in the ass for still holding onto the mindset that her childhood rival was still out to get her.

 

“Hey, Bina! I got here as fast as I could! Down to hit a liquor store and chug a couple beers before we enter the gig?”

 

“Duh of course. I'm not gonna go in there completely sober, and now that I know you're giving me a ride I don't have to worry about being the DD this time around!” Sabina responded, tossing her hair back.

 

“You still gotta be sober enough to hang on to me on the ride back, stupid.”

 

Pearl barely realized she had been staring at Lapis Lazuli for far too longer than she should have been because it seemed Pearl's meekness had finally caught Lapis’ attention and she found the blue-haired girl looking her up and down, eyes lingering far too long on Pearl's jawline, causing the coral haired girl to want to shrivel up inside.

 

“Do I know you or something?” Lapis quirked a brow and stared at Pearl inquisitively.

 

Pearl was taken aback for a moment at Lapis’ forwardness, this girl definitely had a pretty aggressive personality. She instantly understood how Lapis could be a succubus and sabotage relationships like the one she had with Jasper.

 

“Well, no. But I do believe you know my girlfriend…”

 

Sabina stood back and watched the scene before her with wide eyes. Pearl had never bothered speaking of any relationships after whatever they had had together obviously. But perhaps Pearl should be glad to give Sabina closure that she had moved on.

 

Lapis, however, froze up, her quirky bad girl facade faltering and replaced with a face full of utter dismay. She looked like she was struggling internally on whether to fight or take flight. She went with the latter of the two options.

 

“Sabina, come on, let's go. I want to get there early before it gets too crowded.” Lapis said urgently, hopping back on to her bike, starting up the engine and nodding in the direction of a bewildered Sabina.

 

“Wait--Lapis! I… Jasper and I talked. What happened before between you two… it's all in the past. Jasper faces her problems head-on and I know she wants you to do the same. No need to turn tail ok? I mean… I have a mildly vexatious history with your girlfriend Peridot, but I'm not going to run from whatever negative confrontation may ensue. I'd much rather coexist in harmony than hold grudges,” Pearl smiled unsurely, not exactly sure what Lapis’ reaction would be.  

 

Lapis was holding her helmet halfway to her head when she stopped to listen to what Pearl had to say. She was chewing the insides of her cheeks, obviously not entirely sure as to what to say. Pearl decided to continue if that was going to be the case.

 

“I… I know Jasper mentioned to me that we're going to partake in a double date sometime soon? I've been thinking all day of what that could entail and was curious as to whether you and your girlfriend would like to go to Beach-a-palooza with us this weekend over in Beach City perhaps?” Pearl had definitely not rung this over by Jasper whatsoever and was internally crossing her fingers that her partner would be ok with this.

 

Lapis’ reaction was to pinch the bridge of her nose and laugh. The type of laugh you let out when you know you're in a pinch and there's no means of escape.

 

“Uhh….I mean to be quite frank, I don't really have a choice in this matter. I already told Peridot I agreed to this, so I guess it's now or never. Better than having her pester me with ideas as to what to do ya know? I'll run it by Peri and if she's down, she'll text your girlfriend in confirmation. We… were planning on going regardless. I participate in the surf tournament there every year. And I'm kind of a big fan of Sadie Killers and the Suspects who are playing there… that's how Sabina and I met anyhow, at one of their shows. Hopefully, this whole thing doesn't stress me out and ruin my chances on winning though…”

 

Pearl approached the bike Lapis was seated upon and extended a hand to her, Lapis quirked her brow once again at the gesture, but shook her hand warily.

 

“I'm Pearl by the way, uhh… I hope we can be on good terms with each other.” Pearl replied sheepishly.

 

“Damn, you're perfect for her… Jasper, I mean. I'm actually glad she fell for someone who's not a total bitch to her this time around. She's not that bad, to be honest, just a little egotistical and headstrong, but I'm not one to talk.” Lapis grinned sincerely.

 

“Just a little? More like a lot.” Pearl chuckled behind her hand. “I'd better let you guys go, you two have a fun night planned, while I've got… welp--7 minutes until my next class across campus.” Pearl pursed her lips as she whipped out her phone to check the time.

 

“Oh… yeah, don't want to keep you. You seem like the type that has the cleanest record in punctuality. Later then.” And with that Lapis lowered her helmet onto her head and motioned for Sabina to hop onto the back.

 

Sabina had been listening in silently to what was spoken between the two smaller girls but before she went to take her seat on the pillion, she approached Pearl, clasping a heavy hand upon one of the spindly girl's shoulders and beaming down at her.

 

“Congrats Pearl, you're dating a quarterback? She's pretty impressive. You've upgraded girl, and well….I hope you're happy with her ya know?” And with that, she winked at Pearl, swinging her leg over Lapis’ bike and securing her own helmet in place over her bushy pink head before Lapis pressed the gas and stormed off out of the lot, engine rumbling until they were out of sight.

 

Pearl stood back and watched them open mouthed until they were gone until she shook her head snapping her brain out of the conundrum of thoughts skirting around in there and sprinting towards the direction of her last class, sorely disappointed she would be unable to stop by the infirmary for a new bandaid to avoid stares from fellow classmates. Instead, however, she whipped her phone back out and sent the quickest of texts to Jasper before flinging the door of her classroom open with only seconds to spare.

 

Pearl: So….I may have unintendedly set up a double date with Lapis for this coming weekend...

 

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Peridot rolled her eyes and huffed in annoyance as her phone vibrated yet again. It had gone off several times throughout her class, forcing her to stuff it in her bag so the sounds went unheard by her classmates and, more importantly, her professor. Finally, when class finished she hurried out of the door and fished the offending device from her backpack, preparing to give whoever was pestering her a mouthful.

 

Tapping in her passcode she immediately noticed a couple of messages from Lapis, but right as she was about to tap on the notification her phone buzzed again, this time Jasper’s name flashing up on the screen.

 

“Seven unread messages?” Peridot muttered to herself in confusion and mild irritation. “Why the heck is she spamming me like this?” Sighing, she opened the conversation and began scrolling through.

 

Jasper: We need to talk dude.

 

Jasper: Dunno when your classes are but you need to hmu as soon as you can. This is important.

 

Jasper: C’mon dude! You can’t be that much of a nerd that you don’t text in class!

 

Jasper: Ugh. Seriously? I know you’re hearing these. You said you never turn that damn phone off.

 

Jasper: Whatever. Just. Text me asap. You won’t believe what Pearl’s just told me.

 

Jasper: I swear, for someone who claims to be connected to their phone at all times you really are terrible at replying.

 

Jasper: Answer me, dude!

 

Peridot stared at the barrage of texts, perplexed, for a moment; what was this about Pearl? And why was it so important?

 

She sighed and responded.

 

Peridot: For your information, I don’t answer my phone during classes. It is incredibly rude and unprofessional. Now, what’s all this about? I had to hide my phone away to stop the vibrating getting on my nerves so it better be worth it!

 

She didn’t even have the time to put her phone in her pocket before it buzzed again.

 

Jasper: Finally! Yeah yeah you’re a nerd I get it, but listen, this is important.

 

Jasper: It’s our girlfriends, man, they’re conspiring against us.

 

Peridot: Excuse me? Conspiring? Please elaborate!

 

The short blonde was walking home by this point, deciding it best to get a move on while she dealt with whatever situation was stressing Jasper out so much. Granted it didn’t take much to get the footballer all riled up, but considering the topic this conversation was based on, it might very well be something she too would possibly find stressful.

 

Jasper: I don’t think I can really be bothered to type it all out. Would be easier to just call you. Hang on.

 

Before Peridot had any chance to begin a reply her phone rang, loudly. With a huff, she answered.

 

“Alright, what’s going on?” She didn’t even bother with a greeting; she knew Jasper would most likely skip right to the point anyway.

 

You’re not gonna believe this dude. ” Jasper’s gruff voice came through the speaker almost immediately, the response causing Peridot to raise an eyebrow.

 

“Try me.” She responded flatly. Her sister was known for being a tad overdramatic at times, so she’d learned pretty early on to take any sort of tale she would tell with a pinch of salt.

 

There was a snort on the other end of the line. “ Yeah okay, whatever. Listen. I got a text from Pearl earlier which confused the fuck outta me. When I got her to elaborate she said, get this, that she bumped into Lapis on her way to class.

 

Now that got Peridot’s attention. Her pace faltered a little and she blinked. “Wait, what?”

 

I know right?! Apparently, she was talking to one of Lapis’ friends when she showed up. Sabrina or something?

 

“You mean Sabina? Tall? Pink hair?” Peridot corrected, surprised that Pearl of all people had been talking with her. She’d met her girlfriend’s companion a month or so into the relationship and had found her to be quite intimidating initially; however, she’d soon come to enjoy her company. On occasions of course. The environments that Lapis and Sabina usually preferred were out of Peridot’s comfort zone; gigs and bars were a far cry from her PS4, Doritos and mountains of blankets.

 

Yeah! That was her. Apparently, Pearl knew her or something. I asked for details but she seemed pretty cagey about it so I didn’t push; honestly, what is it with everyone knowing everyone? It’s a small damn world I tell ya. Anyway! Lapis apparently clocked who she was and got all awkward. Surprise surprise. But Pearl didn’t want her to just leave like that and took the opportunity to just up and organise our four-way date. Out of the blue.

 

“Pearl? Spontaneous? That’s a new one to me.” Peridot couldn’t resist the light jab. The woman had always been a stickler for planning throughout the time she (reluctantly) knew her.

 

Thankfully, Jasper seemed to agree with her. “ Tell me about it, she almost always runs any plans by me first if I’m involved in any way. Not this time though! She said she saw the opportunity and just took it; says Lapis ended up reluctantly agreeing to ask you about it.

 

“That would make sense. Before I saw your texts I spotted a couple of messages from her, which I thought was odd as she’s off to a gig this evening and doesn’t usually text me during... I haven’t had a chance to read them though so, uh, mind letting me in on what exactly your girlfriend has suggested?”

 

Well… you know the annual Beach-A-Palooza this weekend? Well, she’s decided there would be a perfect place for us all to hang out. Apparently, Lapis goes there every year anyway?

 

Peridot chewed her lip thoughtfully. This really was a surprise; not only had Pearl been the one to so forwardly plan a meeting all on her own, but also so soon. She wasn’t sure if even she was ready to cross paths with her old school rival with so little time to prepare… But it did logically make sense. She was always the kind to stress over things if she had too much time to think about it. Better to just rip the bandaid off and get it over with right?

“Yeah, she always enters the surf competition there and does pretty well. I went to cheer her on last year so I was, of course, planning to go with her this year too...”

 

Well, that makes things a little easier then. At least you two made time in your schedules for it anyway. Problem is, should we do it?

 

“I mean… What do you think?” Came Peridot’s immediate response. “I’ll admit I’m a little hesitant to see Pearl again after all these years, but we both know out of the two of us you definitely had the rougher time. Is meeting Lapis so soon something you feel you’re ready for?”

 

There was a moment of silence, Peridot hearing little but a low sigh before a response came through the speaker.

 

Honestly? ...I’m nervous. You already know what happened between us and, yeah I don’t hold any hatred towards her, but there’s a part of me that wants to back out. However… You’ve vouched for her, and now Pearl has made an effort to cross that bridge on my behalf. She even made a point of telling me herself just how apologetic and sincere Lapis was in their conversation, albeit a brief one.

 

Peridot sighed a little. Even now she still couldn’t get over just how much her sister had been impacted by her ‘involvement’ with Lapis; it boggled her mind that such a tough, strong woman could be taken down like this. “So...” She replied softly. “Do you think you’d be able to do it? Because, you know I’d support you no matter what, right?”

 

Heh… thanks, sis. You’ve always looked out for me huh?

 

“Of course, I’m always here for you, Jaz.”

 

True true. You know what? Yeah. I can do this. I’ll have Pearl and you to talk to if things get too much. Also, I can disappear to go get food or something when I need space.

 

“And Lapis will be spending at least an hour or so at the competition; you can get used to just seeing her without having to talk to her.”

 

...But you’ll be stuck with me and Pearl. Surely that’ll be awkward for you?

 

The blonde shrugged. “Eh… I’ll take it as it comes. Yeah, I still kinda hold a grudge against her after all these years, but if she’s willing to set this all up then that shows at the very least she’s willing to take the steps necessary towards stopping this rivalry once and for all.”

 

Wow, what happened to the ranting little nerd that was so dead set against ever talking to ‘that annoying, pointy-nosed bird’ ever again? ” Jasper replied teasingly, to which Peridot snorted.

 

“Yeah yeah, well I gave myself a talking to. Let’s be honest here, it would be hypocritical of me to behave in such a way, especially considering that I know I wasn’t exactly the nicest person to her in hindsight. She’s your girlfriend, Jasper, and that’s enough for me to at least make some sort of effort.”

 

Damn, my little sis really grew up huh?

 

“Well yes, I wasn’t going to stay little forever you know.”

 

Hmm… judging by the fact that our height difference has only gotten bigger, I beg to differ.

 

“Rude!” Peridot huffed indignantly as Jasper laughed heartily on the other end of the line. They both knew her height had been, and still was, a sore spot for her, what with her having been so small for so much of her life. She had to let things go, however, for now at least considering it seemed to have put Jasper in better spirits. She’d get her back later.

 

I know you love me really Peri!

 

“Unfortunately…” The amusement in the shorter girl’s tone gave away her true feelings. After all, she could never truly be mad at Jasper. She was her sister through and through. She chuckled then cleared her throat. “So, shall we call it a date then?”

 

A pause.

 

Yeah, let’s do this.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

“You sure you want me to drop you off here? It’s like, a block from your dorms.”

 

“For sure Lazuli, it’s better to do this anyways, what with your engine being so loud and all. Don’t want another noise complaint from my roommates about you roaring up to the front door.”

 

Lapis snorted. “Seriously? That was one time. Not my fault my bike’s got a kick to it.”

 

“...You revved it when that guy walked past and scared the shit outta him.”

 

“Again, not my fault! He was shit talking about how girls shouldn’t ride motorbikes and all that crap. Had to put him in his place somehow!

 

“Uh-huh.” Sabina chuckled and rolled her eyes before sliding off of the bike, pulling off the helmet and popping it on the back of the bike. As she turned to leave, however, she paused stopping mid-wave. “You wanna come up? I’ve got a can in the fridge with your name on it.”

 

Lapis flipped up her visor, sighed and shook her head. “Thanks, but I’ve gotta dash. Need to speak to Peri before she heads off to bed for the night.”

 

The pink-haired girl quirked a brow, noticing the worried expression on her friend’s face. “Aw c’mon, just one? You didn’t drink at all while we were out and it really looks like you could use a pick me up. You’re really tense.”

 

“Eh… I dunno. I really need to talk to Peri.”

 

“Is this about what happened earlier?” Sabina asked curiously. “You know, with Pearl? Because if it is, I’ve gotta admit I’m pretty curious myself.”

 

The way Lapis tensed when she heard the girl’s name was an answer all on its own; prompting Sabina to place a hand on her friend’s slender shoulder. “Right. This is clearly getting to you and I’m not letting you run off, not again okay? Come on, what happened? Why’d she want to talk to you about Beach-A-Palooza?”

 

“...It’s a long story.” Lapis replied hesitantly.

 

“Then come up and we can talk it out over a beer.” The taller girl responded almost immediately. “You need to get this off your chest and you know my place is a judgement free zone. Besides, if you’re that wound up it’d probably be best to decompress a little before heading back home. We both know how easily little Dot can get stressed so I’m sure you returning a little calmer would make the conversation much easier. What do you say?”

 

Lapis eyed her silently before groaning. “Fine… gimme a sec.” She revved the engine and slowly reversed her bike into a safe spot by the curb to park it before climbing off, tugging her helmet off and tucking it under one arm.

 

“There ya go. Come on then, let’s get you a drink.” A pat on Lapis’ back encouraged her to make her way down the path, Sabina by her side.

 

When they finally got inside, up the stairs, and into the dorm room, Lapis was quick to kick off her shoes and slump on the couch, dropping her helmet to the side and stretching her arms above her head with a grunt.

 

A minute later Sabina took a seat beside her, but not before tossing the promised can her way which she caught one-handed. Waiting until she’d cracked it open and taken her first sip, the taller girl finally spoke up.

 

“So, tell me everything.”

 

Lapis groaned, took another sip of her drink and pinched her brow. “Ugh… Straight to the point, huh? Okay, well… I’m not sure how much of this I can tell you, but you remember that Peri was in the foster care system for a while, right?”

 

Sabina nodded. “Uh-huh, yeah she told me a while back. Only brief stuff though since she doesn’t really know me all too well. What about it?”

 

“Okay, cool.” Lapis sighed and leaned back in the chair. “Basically, she had this girl she was shipped around together with while growing up that was pretty much her sister. The two of them lost contact when they were adopted into different families, but now after all these years, they bumped into each other in the campus library. Turns out they go to the same Uni now! It’s crazy. They met up a few days ago to properly reunite, and they’re fully back in each other’s lives again. Don’t think either of them has any plans to let the other go after all this time. Heh.”

 

“Okay...” Was the response as Sabina drummed her fingers on her can. “I’ll agree, that’s pretty crazy, but I get the feeling there’s more to this. Clearly, this is a good thing for her, right? So why are you so tense? And how is Pearl involved?”

“Uh…” Lapis hesitated. “well, this is where it gets complicated. When you and I first became friends, I was still dealing with the aftermath of a certain… Reputation I had back in high school.”

 

“You mean your hoe phase?”

 

“Sabina!”

 

“What? You know it’s the truth. You got around back in the day if I remember your stories correctly.”

 

“I didn’t sleep around though!”

 

“Fine fine, you didn’t sleep with any of them, but you certainly had a lot of girls at your beck and call. Some still tailed you even after graduation, right?”

 

“Ugh...” Sliding her fingers through her bright blue locks, Lapis rolled her eyes. “Okay, yeah, I’ll admit I wasn’t exactly… exclusive with my affections, but we’re getting off topic here. I would toy with a few girls here and there, have them under my thumb for a while then get bored and move on.” She couldn’t help but wince at that. Saying it out loud made it even worse. “One of these girls, one of the ones that I strung along for the longest time? ...She’s Peri’s sister.”

 

Sabina, having been in the middle of a sip, paused, her eyes widening as she set her can back down. “...Shit. Really?”

 

“Yup… I double checked. She recognised me immediately from a photo Peri showed her, launched right into every single gritty detail of what I did to her. When Peri told me I panicked, thought she’d be mad at me too but… She wasn’t. Just shocked. She told me she knew that side of me was in the past and that she trusted me, which should go without saying, what with us having been together for so long but… still.” The slender girl shifted in her seat and took another swig. “And before you ask again-” She continued, noticing Sabina’s raised brow. “The reason Pearl is involved in all of this is because she’s now in a relationship with Peri’s sister. That’s why she approached me; there’d been plans set in place to organise some sort of double date type thing where we could all get to know each other properly and heal any old wounds. So to speak.”

 

“Huh… wait, you mean we’re talking about Jasper?”

 

Lapis tensed again but nodded. “Yup. Jasper.”

 

“Damn...” Sabina shook her head in mild disbelief. “You and Jasper, huh? Didn’t see that coming. Fancy you once having the star quarterback at your beck and call. That must have been something… Though I’ve gotta say, it makes sense for Pearl to be dating her. That girl always liked them taller and bigger than she was.” She let out a wry chuckle.

 

Lapis, surprised, turned to look at her friend once more. “Hold up, how do you know Pearl?”

 

“Ah... that.” Sabina scratched the back of her neck awkwardly. “She and I kinda dated for a while? Not even exactly sure I'd call it dating honestly, what we had was brief."

 

Lapis’ jaw dropped. She thought out of the both of them that Sabina would have been the one surprised, but she’d remained chill throughout. “You’re kidding… You and Pearl?”

 

“Only for a little while.” Sabina clarified. “I’m pretty sure I was a rebound for her. Anyway! That’s in the past now, she’s moved on and so have I. Let’s get back to the story yeah?”

 

“I guess...” Lapis replied hesitantly as she stared at her now almost empty can. “Honestly that just adds a whole other level to this. See, Pearl and Peri know each other too. They were rivals for many years in science fairs and the like.” She glanced up, eyeing a mildly confused Sabina. “Seriously, it’s like a whole interconnected web of issues. Peri and I, Jasper and Peri, Pearl and Jasper, Jasper and I, Pearl and Peri… and now you and Pearl? Like, what?” She couldn’t help the high pitched laugh that left her lips at the bizarreness of it all. “I swear, it’s like there’s someone out there orchestrating this whole thing. Whoever you are, you can cut it out, it’s not funny!” She exclaimed in half annoyance, half confusion as she leaned her head back and stared at the ceiling.  

 

Observing her companion with slight amusement, Sabina patted her shoulder sympathetically. “Hey, it’s alright. I don’t blame you for being all stressed earlier, it definitely makes sense for you to be on edge after so many revelations at once. I’m glad you talked to me though, you needed it.”

 

“Yeah… thanks ‘Bina. I really did.” Lapis sighed. “You were right; I don’t think I could have unleashed all this on Peri all over again, she’s probably just as stressed as I am. Maybe more so...”

 

“Yup. Like I said. That little nerd is just a ball of stress sometimes. And you’re welcome. You know me, always happy to listen and I don’t judge.” She gave a grin which Lapis returned somewhat half-heartedly. “Now then, how about we finish these beers and put something on the T.V? Drinks and weird cartoons are a great way to bring anyone out of a funk. Works for me anyway.”

 

Lapis chuckled. “Alright, sounds good. As long as it isn’t that weird superhero one you’re so obsessed with.”

 

“Hey! She-ra is a classic!”

 

“Whatever you say! Just don’t expect me to sing along with any opening themes. I know you.”

 

“Trust me, after a couple of episodes you’ll be singing along regardless, whether you like it or not!”

 

Two hours later, Lapis finally left Sabina’s dorm and drove back to Peridot’s place. It wasn’t far, about 20 minutes as Peridot’s parents had made sure that the apartment had been within walking distance of the University for them, so that in turn, it would be the same for Peridot too. She knew how much the small blonde hated relying on public transport; or any type of transport really. The first time she’d taken her for a ride on the back of her bike she had clung to her as if she was going to fall off at any second; much to the tattooed girl’s amusement.

 

Humming to herself she hopped off the bike which she’d parked in the empty driveway and wandered up to the front door, the humming turning to slight singing as she rummaged for her keys.

 

“We must be strong and we must be brave- Goddammit Sabina-!” She cursed under her breath before chuckling a little. “Now that’ll be stuck in my head for days. Though I guess she did warn me…”

 

As soon as she opened the door she was greeted with the familiar sight of her girlfriend bundled up underneath several blankets, her controller in her hands as she focused intently on the screen. Despite this, however, her eyes broke away from the device to acknowledge Lapis’ return, as well as give her one of those small, quirky grins that Lapis always found so endearing.

 

“Hey.” Peridot chirped, returning her focus to the game. “Did you have fun? You’re back later than I thought you would be.”

 

“Oh, uh... Yeah. I had a blast.” Kicking off her shoes, Lapis then shed her jacket and hung it on the back of the door. “Chilled at Sabina’s for a little while after the gig ended, just to catch up you know?”

 

“Makes sense, you two haven’t hung out in what, a month or so?”

 

Lapis nodded and ambled over to the couch. Noticing this, Peridot moved slightly to give Lapis access to the cocoon of blankets. However, the taller of the two decided to forgo being wrapped up alongside her girlfriend, instead taking a seat beside her and laying down, resting her head on the blonde’s covered, well-cushioned lap and closing her eyes.

 

Peridot chuckled and continued playing her game silently for a moment before Lapis heard the sounds of shooting, explosions and various other effects suddenly cut out. She glanced up to see that Peridot had quit, instead deciding to flick through a few channels to find something of interest.

 

“Didn’t you want to play some more?” Lapis asked curiously. “I didn’t mean to distract you.”

 

“No no, it’s fine, really. I was just playing to pass the time while I waited for you to come home.”

 

“Oh… you sure?”

 

“Yeah don’t worry about it. Besides - now I’m not using the controller, my hands are free to do this.” Lapis suddenly felt the sensation of her girlfriend’s fingers softly running through her hair. She let out a happy sigh and nestled closer to her. She almost felt like purring at her ministrations, which caused Peridot to chuckle again. “You really like this huh?”

 

All she got was a slight nod in response. She licked her lips. “You’re a softie; who knew big bad Lazuli could be brought down by simple head scratches?”

 

“Tis my only weakness...” Lapis mumbled softly, grinning a little to herself.

 

“I thought my kisses were your weakness?”

 

“Hmm… that too.”

 

“What about my hugs? You seem to like those”

 

“Okay, fine… ” Lapis rolled slightly and opened her eyes to look up at her girlfriend. “How about we just say you’re my weakness. Happy now?”

 

“Extremely.” Came the smug reply, causing Lapis to snort and reach up to poke the blonde on the nose.

 

“Smartass.”

 

“You just love using that word don’t you?”

 

Extremely.

 

“Lazuli…”

 

“Sorry babe. You know me, can’t resist teasing you just a little.”

 

Peridot opened her mouth, presumably to give some sort of smart comeback, but instead, she closed it again and continued to stroke Lapis’ blue locks. When she finally spoke again, Lapis had closed her eyes once more.

 

“I’m glad to see you so relaxed.” She commented softly. “I’ll admit I was expecting you to come home at least a little stressed, what with all that happened today and all.” She felt Lapis tense but continued, her fingers still softly combing through her hair as she did so. “Before you ask, yes, I know about this weekend. Jasper called me on my way home from classes and filled me in. That’s why you stayed at Sabina’s right? To de-stress or vent?”

 

“I mean...” Lapis bit her lip hesitantly. “I guess? Wait, did you, you know… Figure something out then?”

 

“You mean about the date? Well, we agreed we’d both be okay with it. Pearl’s obviously down considering she was the one who initiated this idea. What about you?” She asked as she glanced down, one eyebrow raised.

 

Lapis, shifting a little, remained silent for a moment before responding. “We’re already going as it is...” She replied finally. “Yeah, it’s kinda nerve-wracking but like… it’d be better to do this sooner rather than later, right?”

 

“Right...” Peridot replied, her hand shifting slightly so she was still able to play with Lapis’ hair. “So you’d be okay with it?”

 

“I… Yeah.”

 

“Okay. Well, nothing’s set in stone yet . Jasper and Pearl might not be able to make it depending on their schedules considering its so last minute. We can back out at any time if you think you can’t do it.”

 

“No I… I need to do this. After everything that’s happened, I think the closure will do us all some good.”

 

“As long as you’re sure.” Peridot replied. “I’ll text Jasper tomorrow and we can clarify the specific details. If she has any ideas, of course. She never was one for planning.” She snorted “Guess it’ll most likely be down to Pearl.”

 

Lapis chuckled softly in response and snuggled back into the blankets, enjoying the warmth her partner was providing. “You’ve really known what to say lately.” She commented lazily as she relaxed once more. “How did you even know I went to Sabina’s to de-stress?”

 

“Well, your look was one of someone who had only recently relaxed from being tense for a substantial amount of time.”

 

“Huh...” Lapis closed her eyes. “Here I was thinking you didn’t really understand people that much, now you’re suddenly an expert?”

 

“Oh, I still don’t understand most of that.” Came the amused response. “Human beings in general baffle me, but I think I’m becoming somewhat of a specialist when it comes to the psychology of Lapis Lazuli.”

 

“So I’m an exception?”

 

“You’re an enigma; that’s for sure.”

 

The blue-haired girl sighed, amused. “You make me sound like some sort of science project.”

 

“Well, I have always said I’ve had a certain disconnect from the human race. Who's to say my biological parents weren’t human? I could be an alien sent to earth to study mankind.”

 

Lapis shook her head and snorted. “Sure, and I’m a sentient rock.”

 

“...That would explain the deadweight you become when we sleep.”

 

“Hey!”

 

“I’m just saying!”

 

--------------------------------------------------------------

 

Jasper: Hey Peeaaarrrllll, can I come over rn?

p l e a s e. I know it's late and you have an early ass class but pls pls pls

 

Pearl: Is this about what I texted you earlier? I mean...yeah I have a class at 7:30 buuuuut...Amethyst won't be back tonight so….I'll make an exception for you ;^)

 

Jasper: YES THANK YOU BABE I'M COMING OVER RN. BORROWING MOMS OLD VOLKSWAGEN BUG AND BRINGING WINE COOLERS >;)

 

Jasper pulled into the campus parking lot, now barren with the exception of a few straggler vehicles, owners probably in the library busting their asses on some assignment last minute. She looked quite comical stepping out of her mother's little pink beetle, as it was much too small for her to sit in comfortably, thankfully the drive to her University was a short one, any longer and she probably would have some excruciating body cramps.

 

Jasper concealed the wine coolers in her duffle bag and made her way up the stairs to the third floor, feeling blessed to be able to see her girlfriend once more after their weekend together. As she was walking up, a girl Jasper had only seen a handful of times was walking down, she had billowy pink locks, a flannel around her waist, was probably around 5'9, and had toasty tanned skin like herself just without the vitiligo. This girl always gave off the aura of an enigma for Jasper, but she smiled warmly up at her as if she knew her somehow.

 

"The vending machine up there isn't working, just FYI. Heard the one downstairs is though." The mystery girl stated simply.

 

Jasper raised a brow at her but nodded curtly.

"Noted."

 

Odd. Most of the times that woman had walked past her had been near a vending machine, Jasper always purchasing a bag of Cheeto Puffs. She continued making her way up the stairs until she stopped in front of Pearl's door and gave it a couple of hard knocks.

 

Pearl opened the door, wearing a cute little silky turquoise night dress that barely went to the knees and a pale pink robe that made Jasper's amber eyes widen.

 

"Stars, you're doing this on purpose aren't you? Never have you worn this in front of me before. Keep this up and you may not get much if any sleep tonight." Jasper crossed her arms, looking her girlfriend up and down and smiling mischievously.

 

"Well… Amethyst is usually here when you come over. So I decided to use that to my advantage and slip into something more comfortable ." Pearl said teasingly. "Come on in love, I have an insatiable need to cuddle now that you're here."

 

"That's honestly all I could ask for right now." Jasper replied, handing Pearl a wine cooler and opening one of her own.

 

"Developed a taste for wine I see?" Pearl remarked, taking a long drawl of her own.

 

"Not really, but when I had it this weekend I felt really sleepy, needy, and cuddly and that's how I feel right now."

 

"Fair enough." Her graceful girlfriend said as she sauntered onto the couch and patted the spot next to her. "Sit down and tell me what's on your mind hun."

 

The couch sunk in slightly as Jasper placed her weight upon it but she was quick to wrap her right arm around Pearl's shoulders, hoisting her slender legs over her own and pulling her in close, letting out a low sigh.

 

"I don't know whether to be upset or grateful about what you did earlier Pearl." Jasper said pensively, chin resting upon Pearl's petal peach head, her short A-line Bob slightly damp from a shower earlier. "Like… I'm upset because, damn, you usually ask me about things first, but also glad because... well… I probably wouldn't have had the balls to initiate this so suddenly myself. Like… I just had to deal with the sudden shock of it all on Saturday and now in less than a week I have to deal with it all in person right off the bat?" Jasper exclaimed, obviously highly perturbed over Pearl's erratic decision earlier.

 

"I'm sorry love… as dangerously blunt and intimidating as she seemed to me in the moment, as soon as I mentioned you she wanted to bolt away from our confrontation. I feel like she's just as much on edge over this as you. But just know I'll be there with you every step of the way! I am more than willing to stay over at your place again this weekend as a source of comfort come Friday night. I know getting over excess feelings and emotional residue can be rough… but things can't get better until progress is made. I at least… finally felt some sort of closure with Sabina earlier and I want you to feel the same with Lapis."

 

Jasper raised her head from its comfortable spot upon Pearl's and stared down upon her inquisitively.

 

"I wholeheartedly believe every word that you say babe, and yes please stay over Friday night. I'm gonna need the strongest and sexiest of support systems to subdue me this weekend. But could you possibly… enlighten me on your history between this Sabina woman and yourself?"

 

Pearl flushed in embarrassment and tilted her head down, staring at her knees before she spoke in a soft voice.

 

"I- well… I apologize for avoiding this question earlier today, but… you deserve to know. After Rose broke up with me, I kind of gravitated towards her based off of her uncanny resemblance to Rose. I know, I was pathetic. Pathetic, and I didn't give myself any time whatsoever to recover from the heartbreak, in turn… breaking Sabina's heart one night when Rose's name slipped out. I'd show you a picture if I had one… I'm sure you've seen her on campus before though. Voluminous pink hair, green eyes, flannel…?"

 

"Her!? Wait, is her dorm on this floor as well? As I was walking up, she was walking down! She smiled at me and said something about the vending machine not working. I don't even know why she was being friendly towards me at all, not like we know anything about each other."

 

"Yeah… she does reside on the same floor as me. She has a much different schedule than me though, so it's fairly easy to avoid her, but, well… I suppose she smiled at you because she assumed you were headed to my room. She knows who you are and that we're together. And as awkward as the encounter was earlier, I'm happy that she's happy for me. I hurt her, and yet she was satisfied knowing that I had moved on. You are obviously so very different from Rose. I had to learn to accept that there isn't solely just one person out there for me, and I'm content knowing that you need me as much as I need you. In a world full of rocks, you're a rare gem." Pearl looked up, cheeks still tainted pink and pecked her girlfriend on the nose.

 

Jasper blushed her own shade of ruddy rose and smothered Pearl in the tightest of hugs.

"Pearl, you are strong and pretty and you make me so very happy! I love you so so very much, don't forget about that or feel bad about feeling weak and powerless in the past. Did you expect me to think less of you or something for hooking up with this chick after being dumped and feeling unwanted? We've both been in the same boat babe, but look at us know! We're both strong in the real way!" Jasper ruffled Pearl's damp head and beamed down at her.

 

Pearl squeezed her arms out from under Jasper's unyielding embrace and laced her fingers around her girlfriend’s neck, kissing her fervently. Jasper immediately responded by running her hand down Pearl's slim waist and then suddenly dragging her nails up a milky white thigh. Pearl quivered at the touch and broke the kiss, pursing her lips and regretfully glancing off to the side, knowing that looking her in the eye at the moment could possibly make her succumb to Jasper's advances. Pearl had more self-control than that, however, and knew it was about time for her to get off to bed.

 

"Jasper, honey… you know I have a class in the AM… tonight, unfortunately, is not the night for that."

 

Jasper frowned glumly for a moment before rummaging through her duffle bag until she pulled out a black sports bra and a pair of boxers emblazoned with the flamin' hot Cheetos logo. She unabashedly peeled her shirt from her skin and got up off of the couch to pull down her sweats and change into her desired sleep-wear, striking a pose and blowing a kiss towards a defeated Pearl.

 

"You had this all planned out didn't you?" Pearl deadpanned whilst pinching the bridge of her nose.

 

"Yep! So can I stay the night? I won't see you again in like… 3 days! Let me be a big needy baby just this once please?"

 

Pearl rolled her eyes, feigning exasperation but internally pleased that her girlfriend was spending the night, regardless of the fact she was unable to sleep in.

 

"I mean, how could I possibly say no to an extra hot Cheeto like yourself? You definitely out teased me tonight."

 

Jasper raised out her hand out for Pearl to grab, lifting her up off the couch easily and smiling smugly.

 

"Nah, you definitely outdid me in the art of seduction tonight," Jasper said, forcibly getting Pearl to wiggle out of her robe. "Nice hickies by the way, who're they from?" Jasper bared her teeth mischievously.

 

"You obviously . I tried hiding them from Amethyst today but she outed me out of course." Pearl exclaimed sheepishly. "No more of those! Let these ones fade at least!"

 

Jasper guffawed heartily, taking her girlfriend’s hand and leading her to where she knew Pearl's shared bedroom with Amethyst was. Thank the stars that Pearl had a full sized bed, at least, to accommodate for Jasper's size owing that she took up nearly 75% of the space available.

 

Jasper crawled onto the bed first, taking the spot by the wall knowing that Pearl preferred sleeping on the edge so she could easily hop out of bed once her alarm rang. She instantly latched onto Pearl's back as the smaller of the two bid her goodnight and turned to her side, feeling instantly pacified when she breathed in the soft scent of cotton blossom on her lover’s skin. Thinking to herself, she hoped she'd feel as confident this weekend as she did now, in this very moment of unperturbed serenity.

Chapter Text

Jasper pursed her lips, concentrating hard on exaggerating the sharp wing of her eyeliner in her bathroom mirror. Who was she trying to impress anyway? She thought hard to herself. Why was she trying so hard this morning? She had been with Pearl long enough to where she knew she didn't have to put extra effort into her appearance each and every day in order to keep her girlfriend interested. Pearl had freakin' met her as she was exiting the locker room, still slightly sweaty from her team's successful game for fuck's sake. Jasper frowned at her reflection as an unwelcome thought struck her mind. Was she putting in the extra effort into her appearance because she wanted to impress Lapis? Perhaps not ‘ impress’ her, but well… perhaps prove to her that she was better off without her and that she was a new and improved Jasper? One that didn't easily cave to another's influence due to a lack of self-worth? Jasper bit her lip in frustration. She didn't need to prove anything to Lapis. She was in a healthy relationship with a woman who was wholeheartedly devoted to her and was always there to lift her spirits when they were at their lowest. Yet, she supposed a second first impression was greatly needed. People change, they live, they learn, they grow. Maybe Lapis was feeling the same way at the moment, perhaps they'd find themselves in accord with each other after all these years. 

 

Jasper stood back, hands on her wide hips, and checked herself out in the mirror. She was wearing a green bikini top adorned with little watermelon slices all over it and a pair of frayed black jean shorts over her matching bikini bottoms. She pulled her Sandy blonde hair up into a ponytail and squinted once more into the mirror, unsure if the thickness of her liner was even on both eyes. 

 

"Jasper? Are you decent?" A meek voice chimed in from behind the partially-open bathroom door. 

 

Jasper turned and quirked a brow towards the door. "Pearl, we've been together how long and you're still asking for permission to come into my bathroom that only I use? I could be taking a shit and I still wouldn't care if you intruded." 

 

Pearl pulled the door back and sidled inside, wearing a very stereotypical "itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini" and holding a bundle of turquoise in her arms. 

"Just wanted to let you know that coffee's ready! You've been in there an awful while but… wow. You really went all out today." Pearl said with a silly little grin decorating her face. 

 

"You look like you want to get your hands all up on these melons Pearl." Jasper smiled smugly. Ahh, getting Pearl all flustered this early in the afternoon truly was a blessing that calmed her nerves. 

 

"Oh don't tempt me, hun. Hold up though." Pearl pressed her lower back against the counter of the bathroom, raising herself up onto it with both arms, adjusting herself slightly before squinting and concentrating hard on Jasper's face, which was now eye level with hers. 

 

"Eyeliner." Pearl demanded. "Your left-wing is thicker than the right." 

 

Well... damn. Well played Pearl. Jasper handed her the liquid liner and closed her eyes, hands wandering to rest atop Pearl's bare thighs on the counter as her girlfriend's steady hands added thickness to her right-wing effortlessly.

 

"There ya go love! Perfectly symmetrical wings." And with that, Pearl pecked Jasper on the nose and hopped off the counter, donning just as smug of a smile as Jasper had but with the addition of soft powder pink dusting her cheeks. 

 

"Goddammit Pearl, you are such a tease ." Jasper growled. "Let's just call this whole thing off today and enjoy a beach day to ourselves. Beach-A-Palooza, just you and me? How does that sound?" Jasper suggested, already knowing the answer. 

 

"No can do love, there's no backing out now." Pearl said, as she was reduced to just a tuft of peach fluff due to the fact that she was pulling the long turquoise dress she had had in her arms over her head, making Jasper frown in disappointment that Pearl wasn't in fact just going out in that little yellow bikini today. 

 

"I know..." Jasper sighed defeatedly. "Sorry, I don't know why I'm having such last-minute second thoughts. I was so preoccupied before you came in with thoughts of having a fresh start and new beginnings with Lapis that I guess I was overwhelmed and overthinking my appearance today. But hey, you know what'll really complete my look?" 

 

"Hmm?" Pearl hummed as she pulled out a tube of waterproof mascara and applied it to her lashes. She was always minimal with her makeup routines. 

 

"Having you latched onto my arm." Jasper smiled warmly at Pearl through the mirror. 

 

Pearl followed Jasper's gaze from the mirror and smiled warmly. 

"All she needs to know is that you're happy hun. When I met her, she said I was perfect for you. Just act natural… act genuine." Pearl finished applying her mascara and moved towards Jasper's side, wiry arms snaking their way up the larger woman's biceps and clasping onto them. "Be the big buff Cheeto puff that you've been dead set on making yourself out to be, babe. And if you suddenly feel like it's all too much to handle, that's ok too! You just let me know, alright? Peridot and I know the true you, I'm sure Lapis wants to get to know you as well as we do." 

 

Jasper beamed down at her girlfriend wrapped around her arm and bent her head down to kiss her on the forehead. 

"You literally always know exactly what to say to make me feel better somehow baby girl." Jasper said happily, tugging Pearl into a firm hug with her free arm and lifting her off the tile floor slightly. "Alright, let me down that coffee so we can meet up with Peridot by 11." 



Pearl ended up insisting on driving Rosanna's little pink bug that day, considering Jasper was much too big to sit comfortably in the driver's seat. The goal was to get to Beach-a-palooza by 11 am. That was when Lapis was scheduled for the surfing tournament and would, therefore, give Jasper and Pearl at least an hour of alone time with Peridot (and an extra hour for Jasper to mentally prepare herself for an encounter with Lapis). The normal baren boardwalk and sandy shore of Beach City were vibrant and full of life this time of year, especially on this particular day of festivities. There was usually a free range of parking spaces but all the lots were full today. Luckily Pearl seemed to know an area that was not commonly known to the public eye and fairly hidden. She drove past the boardwalk where the storefronts finally ended and parked the vehicle on a stretch of the beach that was nearly completely hidden by a massive mountain with a rock carving of a woman with 4 eyes and 8 arms stretched wide in welcome. Atop the mountain was a dim and lonely lighthouse that had looked abandoned for years, decades maybe. 

 

Pearl parked the car and grabbed the beach towel from the back seat and stepped out to look up and admire the majestic mound of rock before them. 

 

"Isn't she grand? I discovered this little hidden area back when I had first moved around these parts. For such a monstrous formation to be this close-by to the city, you'd think it would attract a lot of attention but the people here seem to think she's bad juju." 

 

Jasper was also in awe of the giant rock woman before her, shutting the passenger door and standing at Pearl's side with an arm around her shoulders. 

 

"Can't imagine how this terrifyingly beautiful work of art causes bad karma, but eh, I don't know the history of this city." Jasper shrugged and turned around, steering Pearl in the direction of the vast sea of sand before them and towards the jamboree waiting ahead. 

 

"Well, I'm definitely fascinated! I think we'll have to venture out here more often and make a trip to the Buddwick public library one weekend to do some research!" Pearl exclaimed happily, locking the car behind her with a double click. 

 

"Sure sure, save that for a weekend that I'm over at your place though. You know libraries for me equal work, not fun." Jasper rolled her amber eyes, sliding Pearl's hand into her own. 

 

"Well, now you know what I have in store for us next weekend! Don't worry though, I'll make sure you're rewarded exponentially after the torture I put you through." Pearl glanced up at her girlfriend with a giggle.

 

"God damn Pearl you better make sure I survive through whatever happens today so I'll be alive for whatever you have in store for me next weekend." 

 

"Oh don't you worry, today is going to turn out just fine ," the shorter of the two said whilst squeezing Jaspers hand reassuringly. 



"Yo nerd! Over here!" Jasper called into the distance, spotting the small short blonde lugging around some oversized stuffed plush toy. 

 

Peridot turned her head back and forth in search of the noise calling out for her before her eyes finally landed on the pair directly in front of her. As she came into closer view, she seemed to be lugging around what was apparently a giant neon green stuffed alien with a top hat and bow tie. It clashed horribly with the forest green of her tankini. The shortest of the three girls looked back and forth swiftly between the two taller women in front of her, before avoiding the peach haired one completely and focusing on Jasper. 

 

"Hey! Look at what Lapis won me! Turns out I'm pretty bad at these carnival games because I had already blown like… pfft… 50 bucks trying to win this little guy? I told her like, hey Lapis, my parents are pretty well off financially and give me cash to compensate for all the classes I need to take for my potential career path but nooooooo she insisted on winning it for me herself! Pretty cool right?" 

 

"Oh please, you can whoop the asses of 99 twelve-year-olds in Fortnite Battle Royale but you can't win a simple carnival game?" Jasper sniggered.

 

Peridot stiffened at that, shifting her eyes back and forth swiftly as a panicked expression slid across her face.

 

"I… I don't play Fortnite" she replied in a hushed tone.

 

"Huh?" Jasper quirked a brow in confusion. "What are you talking about? You told me last week that you're one of the best players on your local server-"

 

"Shhh!"

 

A small hand was quickly clamped over the quarterback's mouth, silencing her as Peridot glanced about her again before stepping back and withdrawing her hand. She cleared her throat and stood up straight.

 

"I do not play Fortnite. That is a game for children and I am not a child!"

 

After a moment of silence and confusion, Jasper just rolled her eyes and snickered "Alright fine, you don't play Fortnite. Minecraft only eh?"

 

"Indeed! Now, if you follow me, I will be taking us to our designated seating spot." She spun decisively and began striding off away from them.

 

The large girl shook her head and gave Pearl an amused look before gesturing for them to fall in step behind the now retreating Peridot. Pearl followed suit, surprised to find herself amused by the whole ordeal. Even though Peridot hadn't greeted her specifically, the fact that she seemed able to engage in conversation in her presence meant something at least. She'd half expected the short blonde to freeze up or at the very least come across as overly defensive and snappy right from the get-go… but so far things seemed to be going well. She was a little hesitant about how the two of them hadn't spoken yet. Of course, she didn't exactly want to engage in conversation with the girl who had once taken her intellectual abilities as a cause for rivalry, but it had to be done. After all, she'd changed, why couldn't Peridot?

 

She was tempted to voice her concerns to Jasper, but she knew it probably wasn’t the best idea. After all, she and Peridot were merely old school rivals; Jasper… well, what had happened between her and Lapis was in a whole other league. She would deal with Peridot by herself; Jasper was the one who would be needing support.

 

So caught up in her own thoughts was she, that she barely even registered her girlfriend brushing past her. Looking up she realized that they’d arrived at the spot Peridot had selected; quite far up the beach but still with a good view of the ocean. While Peridot had made herself comfortable on a small green blanket she’d spread out on the sand, Jasper had yet to sit. She peered around her burly girlfriend’s form to see she had her eyes locked on a variety of brightly coloured food stands that adorned the boardwalk up ahead. 

 

That made Pearl chuckle; of course, her girlfriend would spot the food, the football player had the biggest appetite of anyone she’d ever known. She couldn’t blame her though, being so physically active all the time did burn a lot of calories. 

 

However, it was obvious to her that despite the interest in the food in front of her, Jasper was clearly conflicted. Having known her for so long, Pearl could read her face like a book. It was obvious; she wanted to go and eat, but she didn’t want to leave her girlfriend alone with Peridot (despite loving the process of cooking and preparing meals, Pearl would often find the smell or sight of street food unappealing to the point of nausea, so Jasper would often insist that she would go to these places alone in order to save her slender girlfriend’s stomach.)

 

Taking a deep breath she softly patted her girlfriend’s shoulder. “Go on.” She said softly. “I know you want to.”

 

Jasper turned to look at her, eyebrows raised. “You sure?” She replied in the same soft tone, amber eyes flicking between her and the back of a seated Peridot. 

 

“Jasper... I’ll be fine.” She offered a small smile, sliding her hand down the footballer’s arm and giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “It’s just Peridot. She’s hardly a threat.”

 

“True.” Jasper replied thoughtfully, then gave her partner a cheeky grin. “She probably won’t start anything, the girl hates confrontation… plus I did kinda tell her you to know how to swordfight so...” She scratched the back of her neck, chuckling.

 

Letting out a small snort, Pearl simply shook her head. “Really Jaz? Stars...”

 

“What? It just kinda came out; I’d say she looked even a little bit impressed when I told her.”

 

“So you know I’ll be fine.”

 

“Yeah but… I’m honestly more worried for Peridot at this point.”

 

“Jasper…!”

 

“Just… promise me you won’t impale her or anything?” The taller of the two gave another grin to while Pearl just rolled her eyes in amusement. 

 

“I promise. Now off you go, I know you’re dying to get your hands on some of that deep-fried junk food with abnormally high sugar content.”

 

“You know I’ll never stop eating it, regardless of how disgusting you try to make it sound, right?”

 

“I know, now shush! Just go love. I’ll be right here when you get back.”

 

“Alright, catch you in a bit.” The two exchanged a quick peck before Jasper turned on her heel and began her hurried walk over to the nearest fast-food stand. 

 

Taking a deep breath, Pearl closed her eyes to calm herself briefly, then returned her sight to Peridot as she began to walk the few short steps over to her.

 

Pearl unfolded the oversized beach towel she had brought along with them and held it by two corners, ready to throw it up in the air and set it down gently onto the sand, hoping it would lay out perfectly with no creases. The wind, however, was not cooperating with her efforts and was making it nearly impossible to lay it out properly. Pearl pursed her lips, glancing to the side to see Peridot casually eyeing her with an amused expression on her face. Pearl flared her nostrils and frowned in her direction, causing the blonde to purse her own lips and look away almost instantly. 

 

"Erm...would you like some help with that?" Peridot muttered, still unwilling to look the taller of the two in the eye. 

 

"Yes, please. Can you just hold onto the other side or something?" Pearl replied in exasperation. 

 

Peridot scrambled off her own towel to get up and help, taking the edges of the towel facing away from the ocean and with Pearl's lead, laying it down perfectly flat with the help of laying down a miscellaneous rock on each corner to keep the wind from letting the towel rise and getting sandy. 

 

"Thank you Peridot," Pearl said as she finally took a seat on the towel, her arms wrapped around her legs that she had pulled up to her chest. 

 

Peridot, however, did not respond to her appreciation. 

 

"I really hope this wind doesn't screw up Lapis' chances of winning…" The blonde mumbled, hugging her own knees to her chest. 

 

Pearl would have been aggravated that Peridot was just blatantly disregarding her gratitude if it wasn't for the fact that she could sense that the smaller girl was legitimately worried about her girlfriend's chances of winning. She thought hard of all the times she had actually neglected permitting herself in her dorm for Jasper's sake, just to watch her practice and remembered all the times she literally would cheer her on 'til she was hoarse. And that was just for practice games. She suddenly felt a need to console Peridot and encourage her to cheer her girlfriend on instead of incessantly worrying. 

 

Pearl clasped a hand onto Peridots shoulder and flashed a genuine supportive smile her way, causing the shorter girl to stiffen up and her eyes to widen in shock.

 

"Hey… it's going to be alright okay? She needs your support right now. I used to be the definition of a worrywart, but we have to realize we can't dwell on unfortunate possibilities and outcomes and just have faith in the people we love. I've been cheering on your sister for the past year, I want to see you cheer on Lapis as if your life depends on it. Do it for her!" Pearl gave Peridot’s shoulder a tight squeeze before letting go and distancing herself once more. 

 

"I uhhh…" Peridot seemed conflicted and unsure as to what she was feeling at the moment considering it was Pearl of all people who was consoling her; who she didn't even give a respectable greeting to when she had spotted Pearl with her big honking nose walking her way with big blue eyes filled to the brim with love and admiration for her sis. This was definitely a new side of Pearl she had never ever seen nor experienced before, so she supposed she may as well take a chance to be open with her ex-rival and form some sort of bond. 

 

"Thank you, Pearl!" Peridot wheezed, scrunching her eyes shut. 

 

Pearl went rigid, taken aback and not expecting the sudden outburst from the short demented blonde. 

 

"Yo-you're welcome Peridot. I- well… I understand and acknowledge that you're obviously not the same as you were before back then. So… I'm willing to take the first step forward into improving our relationship… if you’re okay with that." Pearl replied tentatively. 

 

Peridot scrunched up her face in displeasure, not in a way that showed that she disapproved of Pearl's earnest advances but more of utter discomfort and awkwardness towards the entire situation she was in. Ok yeah, Pearl seemed sincere in wanting to make ends meet, but aw man, was she bad at confrontation, whether it was pacifying or argumentative.  

 

"I…" Peridot coughed. "I just want you to know that regardless of how much I undermined your knowledge and capabilities, I always sort of admired you. A part of me was really hoping you'd be the one to apologize first for your actions, but… wow. Here I am. Apologizing to my lifelong rival. Even in the courses I'm currently taking, I always have lingering thoughts that none of my peers is as quick-witted as you were. And that was, damn… back in grade school. Way to go Pearl. You actually made an impact on me." Peridot concluded her confession, her words hanging in the air as the taller of the two tried her best to process what had just happened. Eventually, Pearl cleared her throat and allowed a warm, genuine smile to grace her lips. 

 

"Why… well thank you Peridot!” She replied brightly. “That is very gratifying to hear in all honesty. I'm not trying to validate my actions or the harsh words that were said at the time, but back then, I had a massive inferiority complex that I was trying to overcome in the unhealthiest of ways. I am well aware now that putting others down does not solve a single problem. But back then, I always envied your confidence and well… perhaps not your arrogance, but the fact that you were always so sure of yourself all the time, while here I was, constantly overthinking and just hoping I was good enough to fulfil the high standards that were compressing me from all sides. I just wanted my proficiency to be validated and I'm sorry that I had to put you down in the process of learning how to acquire the confidence that I lacked. I'd like to set aside our differences and end our history as rivals and accept that we are equals." Pearl extended a hand towards Peridot. The blonde looked apprehensive for a moment, but took her hand and shook it vigorously; with much harder of a grip than Pearl expected. 

 

"So uh… now that we're getting caught up in each other's lives again, can you divulge what you're majoring in?" Pearl asked curiously. 

 

"Computer science. I'd like to be a software developer. But shhhh, don't tell my parents that." Peridot put her right index finger to her lips. "So Jaz said you're studying aerospace engineering. How's that going along? Enraptured by space are you?" 

 

"Oh definitely . I've always felt like I never belonged on Earth, and if I can contribute to the exploration of whatever else is out there, and maybe even get to venture out of Earth's atmosphere one day; I will do anything and everything in my power to achieve that long term goal." Pearl stated proudly. 

 

"Damn, well your aspirations seem a lot more enthralling than my own, but hey; I'm glad you're dead set on doing what you want to do and being who you want to be." Peridot grinned, voice as nasally as it was charming.  

 

"Thank you! Say… I know we were having a heart to heart moment here Peridot but isn't Lapis out there riding the waves at the moment? Shouldn't we be watching out for her and cheer her on?" Pearl questioned the blonde bemusedly. 

 

"Ah, well. She doesn't particularly enjoy being watched. She claims she always feels put under pressure when all eyes are on her. She does, however, relish in the fact I out of everyone is watching and cheering for her from afar. Hey! There she is right now!" Peridot shouted out enthusiastically. Pearl looked over in the direction that Peridot was pointing and indeed saw the blue and black wetsuit-clad girl paddling forward as she attempted to catch a wave. Pearl knew just about as much on how to surf as she had originally known about football a year ago, but she could easily see that Lapis was a highly competent surfer that was well deserving of commendation. 

 

Pearl chuckled behind her hand. "Wow, we really are just two nerds ogling our athletic girlfriends. How about that?" 

 

“Well… I can’t deny that? I have to be honest and say that despite having been around such an accomplished surfer I still have no clue as to the rules of this competition. Nevertheless! I shall cheer on regardless.” Peridot chuckled and shook her head. "And if we’re talking stereotypical nerdiness, I mean damn Pearl, you're really freakin' pale. Like sure, I can admit that I'm as reclusive as they come, but I'm not nearly as pasty as your ass." 

 

"Ahh! Oh stars, shit. Um, Peridot do you by any chance happen to have sunscreen on you? I forgot to apply it before coming out here!" Pearl panicked as if expecting the sun's rays to give her 3rd-degree burns any moment now. 

 

"Oh yeah… I have some sunblock. Spf 40 ok?" Peridot replied, utterly puzzled by Pearl's sudden freakout. 

 

Pearl, however, was already lifting her turquoise sundress up over her head and tossing it aside to unveil her polka dot bikini and eagerly thrusting the palms of her hands face up towards Peridot. 

 

"Sorry, I just have really sensitive skin. It flares up out of nowhere sometimes over the smallest of things. You mind applying it to my back?" Pearl asked hesitantly. 

 

Equally as hesitantly, Peridot’s eyes flicked between the bottle she had just grabbed out of her bag and Pearl’s outstretched hands before nodding and popping the lid, squirting a substantial amount onto the pale palms before doing the same to her free hand and shifting around so she was behind her. 

 

Out of all the scenarios that had gone through her head throughout the morning, not one included her applying sunscreen to her old rival’s back. 

 

Maybe today would be full of more surprises, who knew? 

 

After several minutes of awkward sunscreen application, Peridot noticed Pearl was becoming slightly antsy, having already applied the sunscreen on the rest of her body. She too hesitated for a moment.

 

“Uh… sorry. I’m trying to go as fast as I can but… you know” Her hands twitched awkwardly. Pearl glanced over her shoulder with a confused look on her face before she turned back and laughed lightly. 

 

“Oh, no no, you’re fine. I’m just… Well, you know that Jasper has such large hands. I’m used to her being able to cover a lot more surface area at once.”

 

Peridot, raising an eyebrow, glanced down at her thin, pale hands and shrugged. “Alright, noted. That makes sense...” She trailed off and continued her ministrations in silence for a moment before speaking again. “You know… as much as I was shocked initially that you of all people are dating my sister, in hindsight it doesn’t surprise me?” Sensing Pearl’s inquisitive gaze on her again she elaborated. “She would almost always go after the girls that sported a certain degree of intelligence during high school; if they were tall and slim she’d say that was just a bonus. Don’t think I ever saw her returning the attention of the ditzy, air-headed types which was certainly a surprise considering the jock-like persona she adopted? Anyway. Not sure where I was going with this but… yeah. Despite the bizarre situation, this has put us in… you and Jaz make sense.”

 

The peach-haired girl sat there in contemplative silence. She’d still not completely adjusted to the long-winded apology and reconciliation a few minutes prior, and now this was being planted on her as well? She had always thought Peridot to be closed off and unsociable, but it seemed that once you got her talking about something meaningful it was hard to get her to stop.

 

“Well… Thank you.” She responded softly. “That means a lot coming from you. After all, you grew up with her. Sure I’ve had glimpses into her past now and then but she keeps things to herself a lot of the time; I’m sure you know she also has a tendency to overthink? You should have seen her this morning, trying her hardest to get her eyeliner to match...” She trailed off as she let out a chuckle.

 

“Oh?” Peridot tilted her head curiously. “I was meaning to ask about that actually. She used to overthink when it came to stressful situations, you’re right about that… Was she okay? There wasn’t any panicking was there?”

 

“Oh no no no, she was just a little nervous is all-” Pearl stopped herself mid-sentence. “Actually, I don’t think I should really go into it too much. I know she’d probably be happy for me to tell you about it, but I feel like it would be better for her to tell her yourself at her own pace, you know?”

 

“That’s… very considerate of you.” The blonde replied. “And I'd have to agree with you there. We’re probably two of the people she trusts the most, so she’d be happy to have this stuff shared with me on her behalf… But, yeah; we’ll probably end up having another heart to heart, later on, depending on how everything goes of course”

 

“Of course...” Pearl smiled slightly, then pursed her lips in thought. Peridot spoke again.

 

“...You’re curious as to how things were for Lapis and me, aren’t you.”

 

“Uh… how did…?”

 

“We may not have gotten along very well, Pearl, but I could always tell when you were dealing with conflicted thoughts at science fairs and the like. I know I’ve never been very in tune with emotions but… You were a bit of an open book back then when you panicked or overthought things at least.” 

 

The blonde decided not to mention that the reason behind this was she would often go out of her way to see if her old rival was panicking, at times even revelling in it… Her competitive nature really had brought out a nasty side to her. Thank the stars she’d grown out of it by now. Licking her lips she continued before Pearl got the chance to reply. 

 

“Anyway! I think it’d be okay for me to at least share the basics of this morning; after all, it’s not like you and Lapis have any sort of bond, and she’s often been pretty insular and relies upon me a lot of the time to talk for her. You wouldn’t know it looking at her but… Yeah. I can give you an idea if you’d like; might help the two of you if you end up stuck alone together. Break the ice and such.”

 

“Well… as long as you’re sure.”

 

“One hundred per cent. Besides, I don’t know how much Jaz talked about her so it’d be good to give you some inclination before she comes back up here.”



Several hours earlier:

 

“Lapis? You ready yet?” Peridot called out for what seemed like the umpteenth time as she finally finished packing a small satchel in preparation for the trip out. There was a groan from behind the bedroom door and she couldn’t stop herself from rolling her eyes. 

 

Her girlfriend had been incredibly stubborn this morning, more so than usual. While she herself had gotten out of bed the minute her alarm had gone off, the slender surfer had cocooned herself in blankets so she was little more than a lump of fabric with a tuft of blue hair sticking out of the top. She had kept popping her head back in to insist that she gets up, but either got a grumble or, when she’d apparently gotten irritating, a brief glimpse of a pair of narrowed blue eyes peering out at her. Eventually, though, she’d managed to persuade her to get up. She’d gone to the bathroom to freshen up while Peridot cooked breakfast, only to return to the bedroom once more in order to get fully dressed.

 

When she finally reemerged, clad in her favourite blue and black swimsuit that was covered by a loose-fitting t-shirt and cargo shorts, Peridot couldn't help but notice the dark circles around her eyes, complete with additional bags underneath. Her brow furrowed.

 

"Didn't you sleep well?" She asked, concern making its way into her tone. Lapis grumbled a little.

 

"Eh… you could say that." She mumbled as she opened one of the wooden cabinets, eyes squinted as she scanned the shelves inside.

 

"Why didn't you wake me? I could have done something to help. Or at the very least kept you company."

 

Another shelf searched, clearly rendering nothing desirable. "I know… I just didn't want to wake you; you took so long to get to sleep the least I could do was let you stay that way- hey do you know where the coffee is?"

 

The blonde shook her head. "All gone, sorry, I used the last of it to make you that mug earlier. The one you had while you were still in bed?"

 

"Shit… okay. Guess one of your drinks will have to do. Do you mind?"

 

"Uh… not at all. But I thought you didn't like them?"

 

"Needs must really," Lapis replied as she opened the fridge door and grabbed one of the many cans of energy drinks and cracking it open. She took a long swig only for her face to screw up in disgust as the aftertaste hit her full force. "Blegh. Why do you even like these? They're just so sweet and chemically."

 

"Because I like sweet stuff? And like you can talk. How you can drink your coffee black with no sugar baffles me… Anyway, why didn't you sleep well?" 

 

The silence and her girlfriend's sudden interest in the can clasped in her hand was telling, prompting the shorter of the two to fold her arms. 

 

"Is-"

 

"Yes. It's Jasper, okay? I just..." Lapis gritted her teeth as she shifted from foot to foot, her grip on the can tightening somewhat. "I thought I'd be okay, especially with the contest to focus on and all that, but… ugh."

 

Sighing softly, Peridot adopted a more sympathetic expression and reached over to take her girlfriend's hand.

 

"C'mon." She said softly. "Let's get some food in you yeah? I know you always think better on a full stomach." 

 

Shoulders slumping slightly, Lapis conceded with her girlfriend's suggestion and let her lead her to the table. When she'd finally sat down, the blonde placed a small plate in front of her, a selection of fried foods laid out upon it in a meticulous way that only Peridot would be capable of. Usually, the nerd's organisational antics brought a smile to Lapis' face, but today she just murmured a quick 'thanks' and proceeded to take a few, almost reluctant mouthfuls.

 

Peridot would have joined her girlfriend, seeing as having the chance to eat breakfast together was a rare occurrence at the moment due to conflicting schedules, but Lapis had taken so long to get ready and she’d been so hungry that she’d reluctantly finished her food long before her partner emerged. Therefore, she busied herself with washing up the various pieces of kitchen equipment she’d used. As she did so, she would occasionally hazard a glance over in Lapis’ direction; the taller girl was clearly still not all there mentally, but the food was definitely bringing her around somewhat. The energy drink she’d commandeered, however, kept causing her face to scrunch up in distaste every time she took a sip. She most definitely hadn’t slept well, Peridot reasoned, because usually there was no way in hell she’d ever persevere in drinking something that caused her such revulsion. Sure Lapis was stubborn at times, but usually not to this extent.

 

Eventually, when her girlfriend’s plate was empty, Peridot took it from her and quickly washed it up, making an effort to try and pull Lapis out of her funk with light conversation. It helped to a degree but the blue-haired girl kept zoning out. It wasn’t until Peridot had a brainwave that the mood of the conversation shifted.

 

“You know...” She said casually, glancing over at her girlfriend as she began putting the clean dishes away. “I spoke to my parents at the start of the month.” She watched her partner’s blue eyes lazily make their way up to meet her gaze, brow raised in curiosity. Taking it as an invitation to continue, Peridot continued. “I’ve been pestering them on and off for some time now as they’re pretty conservative about what I bring into this apartment, what with them owning it and all...” She smiled a little. “It took them a while, but they finally caved so uh. Providing all goes well and you’re still up for moving in with me to share responsibility-” A blush coated her cheeks at that. “-They’ve relinquished the ‘no pets’ rule.”

 

Lapis straightened in her seat and she stared at her partner, eyes wide. “Wait, for real?” She asked, her tone indicating a swift change in emotion.

 

“Of course! I wouldn’t lie about something like that you know.”  The blonde chuckled. “They were pretty insistent on it being a joint venture though; the main reason they didn’t want me getting any sort of animal is the fact that my studies would take up most of my time and I wouldn’t have time to take care-”

 

She was cut off as she was swiftly enveloped in her girlfriend’s arms and pulled into a tight, almost bone-crushing hug, causing her to wheeze in surprise.

 

“Thank you…!” Lapis exclaimed, squeezing Peridot tighter to which the blonde could only wheeze out a slight ‘you’re welcome’ in response before she was finally released from her partner’s grip. Turning fully around she was met by a broad grin and bright, glee-filled eyes. A complete 180 from her partner’s previous mood. She had planned on waiting until Lapis’ birthday to reveal the surprise, but seeing how stressed she was at that moment, she figured it would prove the perfect distraction and brighten her mood, albeit only for a little while.

 

At that point, Lapis was already pacing back and forth, tapping her lip.

 

“Do they mean any sort of pet?” She asked, turning to look at Peridot again. “Any size?”

 

Peridot nodded. “Within reason of course. Nothing huge… but yeah. If we can take care of it, we can have it.”

 

Stopping her pacing, Lapis grinned again. “So… we can get a dog?” Peridot knew this was coming. Lapis had spoken fondly about the family dog she’d had growing up, how important the little ball of fluff had been to her and how much she truly wished she could have the opportunity to have another one someday.

 

“Yeah.” She replied, chuckling. “We can get a dog.” 

 

Lapis moved towards her girlfriend again, but instead of a tight hug she gently slid her arms around her neck, resting their foreheads together. “Is this some sort of ploy to get me to move in with you?” She asked, grinning teasingly. “Because if it is…It’s been very effective.”

 

Peridot blushed and shrugged. “I mean… I’d hope after all this time we’ve been together that you wouldn’t need any form of bribe. But if it’s something that will encourage you to do so, well, I can’t really complain.”

 

A snort. Lapis leaned down and placed a soft peck on Peridot’s nose. “I’d move in with you, dog or no dog. But now that the options there…” she tilted her head, shifting from foot to foot excitedly. 

 

“I know.” Peridot replied, wrapping her arms around her partner’s waist as she gave her a crooked smile. “I actually took the liberty of doing some research. There’s a couple of shelters nearby with really good reputations, so when everything’s sorted… We could head down and check them out?”

 

A few exciting nods and a kiss on her cheek answered that question, but she raised an eyebrow when her partner leaned back and tried to stifle a yawn.

 

“Right.” She said as she stepped back and clasped her hands together. “As much as I’d love to spend much longer enjoying this heartwarming moment, we’ve got to get going. Grab your board and we’ll head out.”

 

Lapis stared at her. “But… we’ve got almost an hour before the event opens. It’ll only take us half that to get there.”

 

“If we leave now it’ll give us enough time to stop off at the local coffee place and get you a double espresso.”

 

In response to Peridot’s suggestion, Lapis glanced over at the table and eyed the half-finished can of energy drink, lips pursed. “...Good point.” She replied, clearly deciding that forking out some extra cash was worth it to avoid drinking what she viewed as a rather repulsive concoction. With a grin, Peridot shouldered the small satchel and grabbed the can, downing it in one go much to Lapis’ disgust.

 

“Alrighty then, you go grab your board, I’ll be in the car.” The taller of the two gave a nod, kissing her girlfriend on the cheek once again before hurrying off to go hunt out her board. Most likely buried under piles of clothes.

 

Peridot chuckled to herself, grabbing her keys before heading out the door. 





“That’s very sweet of you.” Pearl commented gently. “Distracting her like that. I’ve got to say, you really have changed Peridot. The girl I knew back in high school wasn’t exactly the...” She paused as if thinking for a politically correct word to use. “...Most socially adept individual, no offence.”

 

“None taken” Peridot replied almost immediately “I’ll be the first to admit I had little to no people skills, still don’t for the most part, but I’m getting better.”

 

“Well, that’s good to know. Being self-aware of your flaws shows your maturity, growth and so on.” Pearl smiled at that, still feeling surprised in herself for her change of opinion on the small blonde. Sure, they didn’t get along completely, but it really was bizarre to her how much their minds worked in similar ways. Her brow furrowed however after a thought crossed her mind “...You don’t think the lack of sleep will cause Lapis any issues, do you? In the surfing competition, I mean.” She asked hesitantly, ever the worrier despite not knowing Lapis all that well.

 

Peridot paused, then shrugged. “Eh, she’ll be alright, I got her three double espressos instead of one, so there shouldn’t be any issues. The water wakes her up apparently too so...”

 

“Goodness, three double espressos along with that drink of yours? I’m surprised she hasn’t gone into arrhythmia!” The peach-haired girl exclaimed.

 

“Hah! You’d be surprised. Lapis has an incredibly high caffeine tolerance. I’ve seen her down four black coffees in two hours only to go take a nap half an hour later. I mean I thought I was bad but-” 

 

"Damn, I'm gone for two seconds and you guys are already reconciling and being gay." The rough voice of Jasper cut in from behind the pair, causing Peridot to immediately cease slathering sunblock onto Pearl's back and raise her arms in a ‘freeze!’ sort of gesture and Pearl to flinch and look over her shoulder up at her burly girlfriend, who currently had a waffled pizza fry halfway to her lips. 

 

" PEARL SAID SHE GETS REALLY BAD SUNBURNS AND FORGOT HER SUNBLOCK AND ASKED ME TO APPLY IT FOR HER. IT'S NOTHING ELSE, I SWEAR! NO ULTERIOR MOTIVES WHATSOEVER!" A panicked Peridot screeched out. Jasper, however, reacted with a roar of laughter. 

 

"Wow, and here I was thinking you were putting the moves on my girl Peri."  Jasper replied sarcastically with a roll of her eyes. 

 

Pearl wrinkled up her face in distaste and pretended not to notice the jokingly yet still uncomfortable banter, the blush on her face being a dead giveaway, however. 

 

"Erm... I see you found something that appeased your appetite?” Pearl said with an awkward grin, knees pulled to her chest once more. 

 

"Oh hell yeah! So apparently Beach City Walk Fries and Fish Stew Pizza collaborated and created this decadent abomination. The line was long so yeah… sorry it didn't actually take two seconds but aye! Look at you two hitting it off so well! Seriously, what a great thing to come back to." 

 

“Sounds dangerously greasy and unhealthy, glad you’re enjoying it, hun. But yes, Peridot and I have indeed been catching up and having a heart to heart moment. It’s nice to have someone back in my life that I can have a clever conversation with.” Pearl and Peridot exchanged subtle smiles. 

 

“Oh yeah, I can totally see you calling Peri up one day when you’re irritated with me for some reason and just being like talk nerdy to me .” Jasper chuckled. 

 

“Except instead of talking nerdy to Pearl, I will, in fact, be indulging her in every embarrassing Jaz moment I witnessed whilst growing up with you!” Peridot smirked while Pearl stifled a laugh behind her hand. 

 

“Shit, having you two on good terms with each other now could definitely put me in a difficult position if you guys plan on tag-teaming against me! Also, mind scooching over a tad? So glad you brought the large towel Pearl, or my ass would be covered in sand.” 

 

The two smaller girls parted from sitting next to each other to make space for Jasper, who clambered in between them onto the towel, stretching out her legs and leaning back onto her arms. Pearl latched onto an arm almost instantly. 

 

“Soooo… plan to indulge me with any amusing Jasper related childhood moments Peridot?” Pearl said with a sly grin as she peered past Jasper’s protruding bosom to look Peridot in the eye, squeezing her girlfriend's arm ever so tighter. 

 

“Nyehehehehe, there was this one time when we were seven. This new kid to the foster program who was so irrelevant that apparently even I, who knows and remembers all, forgot her dumb name, decided to poke fun at me for the usual things everyone makes fun of me for! My height, wearing glasses, being a nerd, doing sudoku puzzles for fun, refusing to put my gameboy advance down…” Peridot listed on her fingers. 

 

“Oh cut me some slack P-Dot.” Jasper grimaced. “This is the only story I'm going to allow her to tell today.” She said this time turning to Pearl with a ruddy face. 

 

Today hmm?” Pearl cooed softly. “Count this as payback for every time you catch me off guard and leave me in an uncomfortable position.”

 

“Hey, I can’t help it! You’re just so easily flustered and easy to read. It’s cute.” Jasper chuckled and ruffled Pearl’s hair with her free hand. Pearl just pursed her lips into a thin line and ushered Peridot to continue. 

 

“Little did that clod know however that I have the most protective and intimidating sister on my side! So when that bully pried my gameboy out of my hands and chucked it on the ground with enough force to break my most cherished handheld console, which I still mourn to this day! Jasper came to my rescue and err… well… Turned the tables upon herself. She got so angry that she PEED herself!” Peridot busted into a fit of high pitched obnoxious laughter at the comical memory, causing Jasper to tense up and bare her teeth slightly as her girlfriend became enveloped in a giggle fit of her own. 

 

“I mean, I’m eternally grateful to this day for your noble self-sacrifice Jasper! Although I do definitely wish I had had the courage to stick up for you in return.” Peridot continued with her head turned towards Jasper. 

 

“Ah, whatever. I didn’t expect you to. You were never good at dealing with disruptive encounters. You paid me back tenfold with all the times you were there to control my emotional outbursts,” Jasper shrugged. 

 

“Aw, the wheel of fortune turned again! How did this childhood tale meant to embarrass you turn into another heart to heart!?” The small blonde feigned, rubbing mock tears out of her eyes. 

 

“Well the tide has changed again because I’m going to divulge some cringy Peri moments to Pearl now! Remember that one time when-”

 

“WAIT!” Peridot screeched. “THE COMMENTARY, LISTEN TO THE COMMENTARY!.” Peridot’s eyes were wide and her body went rigid as she stared out into the abyss that was the ocean.  

 

“CONTENDER LAPIS LAZULI HAS JUST CAUGHT A 20 FOOT WAVE. LAPIS LAZULI HAS BEEN A CONTENDER FOR THE PAST FEW YEARS BUT WE HAVE YET TO SEE HER RIDE A WAVE OF THIS HEIGHT.” Mr. Smiley commentated. 

 

Jasper’s eyes narrowed as Pearl’s widened at the scene splayed out before them. Lapis was indeed riding the tallest wave probably ever documented at the usually calm waters of beach city. 

 

“Usually the waves are only like… 10 feet here! Perhaps maybe 15 max. Lapis is an expert to a degree but she has never ventured off to larger beaches and gotten the experience needed to ride a wave this height!” Peridot babbled, flailing her arms around erratically as she explained the situation to the baffled couple. 

 

It only took those few seconds of explanation however for tragedy to befall them. 




Lapis thought she had it, the internal fist pump she had just made a second ago felt like a lost memory as she fell. One second she was falling over a 3 story building and then another second later she was being sucked into a waterfall. It was all too instant when the massive 20-foot wave that she had had the gall to attempt to ride suddenly pulled her under in an explosion of white water and weight. 

 

Fuck, Lapis mentally cursed. Did she even get a good breath in before she was dragged under? But suddenly all rational thought was driven from her brain as she unexpectedly became an expert contortionist. Her body was being wrung through an endless wash cycle as her limbs disobeyed her will and flailed uselessly around her. Which way was up? Which way was down? She felt trapped, and if there was one thing Lapis hated more than anything else, it was feeling trapped. Trapped in relationships, small spaces, depressive states, or in this case a black abyss. It didn’t help that the leash from her board was yanking on her leg and submerging her even further down. She clenched her eyes shut for a moment, desperately wanting to gasp for air but fully aware that it wasn’t an option.

 

  “Relax… just relax…” She internally chanted. “You have so much to live for. Peridot is out there probably terror-stricken over me… I’m going to resurface in a sentient state and she’s the first person I'm going to see… she’s up there waiting for me… I know it… so close… yet so far…”   She then opened her eyes. The force had let up a bit. In an act of pure instinct she desperately tried to kick her legs, only barely registering which way led back to the light. Lapis was becoming delirious, she didn’t know how much longer she had. It felt like ages that she had been consumed by this ravenous force of nature. Her mind was in a frenzy as thoughts of the unknown fought to raze at her will. When would the next turbulent wave strike? Her ears throbbed from the icy cold pressure. Her vision was becoming blurry as lightheadedness overtook her. She involuntarily gasped and her lungs were filled with piercingly cold salty seawater. The light that she presumed was above her grew fainter and fainter as the light transitioned from a dazzling white to a murky gray… to the blackest black. 

 

“So close… yet so far…”





There were a few moments of silence before Peridot jumped up, eyes wide.

"LAPIS!!" She shrieked, her arms continuing to flail in panic. 

 

Pearl sat motionless, then looked up at her girlfriend who was as equally as shocked as she was.

 

"What should we do?" She asked in a panicked tone as Peridot continued to squawk and flail, running back and forth as she watched two of Lapis' competitors swimming rapidly to attempt to retrieve her. "...Is there anything we can do?"

 

Before Jasper could respond, Peridot had stopped her pacing and bolted off down the steep slope, tripping over her feet in the process. Lapis had surfaced and was now being pulled back to shore. But… it didn't look like she was moving. At least, not by herself. Before Pearl knew it, Jasper too had gotten up and accelerated off after her smaller friend. Pearl hesitated and glanced around her. "H-hang on! I'll be right behind you!" 

 

She knew that wouldn't be true though, when Jasper got going she really could pick up the pace. 

 

Peridot, on the other hand, was far from athletic, so it truly was a surprise to Jasper that she was already there, crouched down beside Lapis before she herself had even managed to catch up with her. The blonde was shaking her unconscious girlfriend's shoulders, eyes wide with panic and shouting at her rescuers to find a paramedic.

 

"There's gotta be one here!" She exclaimed. "Who the fuck plans this sort of event and doesn't think to have medical staff on hand!"

 

"Peri!" Jasper grabbed her sister's shoulder firmly with her large hand, breaking the smaller girl out of her one-way screaming match. When her bright green eyes locked onto Jasper's, the footballer continued. "Just… deep breaths okay? Shouting won't help, they're doing what they can."

She glanced down, stomach twisting in knots as she took in Lapis' unconscious form.

 

"We need to do something!' Peridot cried. "Can we get the water out of her lungs? Force it out??" She looked around still panicking.

 

"That won't help." Jasper replied flatly.

 

"What?"

 

"You can't push the water out, she's gotta do that on her own. All we can do is make sure she's breathing and getting the oxygen she needs"

 

Peridot stared at her blankly. "How do-"

 

"I spent a lot of time by the pool okay? You learn this stuff. Just… trust me on this." Jasper grimaced and gave Peridot an uncomfortable yet pleading look, to which her sister gave a nod after a moment of silence. She was still panicking, but having some direction seemed to focus her anxiety into something helpful.

 

Jasper knelt down beside Lapis and took her wrist, thankfully still able to feel a pulse beneath her fingertips. After making sure she was laying flat on her back she leant her ear close to her face, raising a hand to shush Peridot's supposed question. After not hearing the sound of breathing or feeling any warmth on her cheek, she sat back and looked up at her sister. Even in this situation she still felt awkward. It was ridiculous.

 

"She's gonna need CPR." She finally said. "I know it'd be less awkward for you to do it but I know what I'm doing. And I got. You know. Bigger lungs."

 

It was as if Peridot didn't even register what was happening. All she did was nod. 

 

"Okay. Do what you gotta do." Came her reply, her eyes now locked on Lapis' face. "I just need her to be okay."

 

Jasper gave a nod and not wanting to waste any more time she bent down over the unconscious surfer. She swiftly began the chest compressions, keeping a steady pace before taking a break to tilt Lapis' head back gently, open her mouth, pinch her nose and seal her lips over hers, pushing a large puff of air into her lungs. She then returned to the compressions, counting in her head while muttering out a slight tune that seemed to keep her pace regular.

 

Pearl finally arrived alongside them, surprised to see her girlfriend taking charge. She'd had if mentioned to her in passing that Jasper had learned CPR at some point, but this was definitely something she wasn't expecting. She was unsure of what else to do, having already been passed by several people who were all desperately trying to locate some form of medical help, she'd even overheard that 911 had already been called. She resolved to do something to at least try and help with the situation, so she quickly sat beside Peridot, not even hesitating to place an arm around her and squeeze her gently.

 

"Peridot." She murmured. "Everything will be okay. She'll be fine. Just take some deep breaths okay? In and out. Here, I'll breathe with you."

 

Her logical side knew that being so optimistic may not be the best move in the long run, but it was the right one. Peridot, after a few strained whimpers, finally slowed her hyperventilating and began breathing in sync with Pearl, her eyes fixated on her girlfriend laying in front of her.

 

Barely even a minute had passed but to the three of them, it seemed like hours. Jasper continued her rhythm, cycling between chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth in a way that seemed almost robotic. The other two stayed beside her, silent.

 

Despite the situation, despite the cacophony of shouts and running footsteps around them, a strange sort of… calm washed over their small group. Peridot had stopped her panicked breathing at this point, instead, screwing her eyes shut and focusing hard on keeping her breathing slow and steady. 

 

Alongside her, Pearl too continued the deep breaths, only her eyes were open and watching Jasper intently. Her focus was only broken when she felt Peridot's shoulders shake slightly. Looking over she saw tears starting to run down Peridot's face.

 

"Lapis." She whimpered. "Wake up. Please. Come on I know you're there. Please…"

 

"She'll be okay." Pearl repeated softly, feeling herself tearing up she mentally cursed herself for being a sympathetic crier.

 

"But… but what if she isn't." Peridot replied, her voice coming out cracked. "She's still not breathing, what am I supposed to do? To say? I need her, Pearl, and she needs me. I just-" She was about to let out another sob when a loud sputtering noise caught them both by surprise, soon followed by a series of sporadic coughs. Startled, they both looked up.

 

Lapis was awake. Coughing and spluttering as she hacked up a substantial amount of seawater. Peridot almost immediately tried to dive down to hug her but was quickly stopped by Jasper's firm grip.

 

"She needs space." She murmured. "Let her breathe." Peridot swallowed, then nodded and leaned back, still trying her best to resist the urge to embrace her girlfriend. 

 

Lapis lifted herself up on one elbow, shakily, and coughed again, inhaling as deeply as she could each time.

 

The blue-haired surfer was finally regaining consciousness and was somewhat physically aware of her surroundings. Her vision was still a tad blurry but she scrunched up her eyes and tried to think back to the last thought she had had before she blacked out. 

 

Peridot! She’s right there, right in front of me right? She has to be! Who else would come to my aid after all? 

 

Lapis blinked blearily and hacked one last time as the outline of a figure, blurry around the edges, began to come into view. The figure seemed far too large, too tall, it... fuck. There was no way in hell this was Peridot. Their build was all too familiar and yet so very foreign for this sort of circumstance. Her heart began racing once more as her chest tightened up. Her breaths returned to being short and raspy as her muddled azure blue eyes met the unmistakable amber eyes of Jasper. 

 

Jasper stared back at her, both of them completely silent as the smaller of the two continued to process the situation. With an awkward half smile, the footballer lifted a hand in a half wave.

 

"Uh… hey." She said quietly, to which Lapis was about to respond before she felt a familiar pair of thin arms wrapping around her shoulders. Blonde hair now obscured her vision as Peridot, unable to stop herself any longer, buried her head in the crook of her girlfriend's neck and whimpered a little.

 

"Lapis!" Her voice came out muffled but still legible. "Oh my stars, I thought you were- I thought-" She pulled back a little and looked Lapis in the eyes, her own still blurry with tears. With a weak smile, Lapis reached up a hand and shakily placed it on Peridot's cheek. 

 

"I'm okay, Peri, don't cry." she coughed a little, her throat still tender but thankful for her girlfriends sudden intrusion as the anxiety from being face to face with Jasper ebbed away. "Will take more than that to get rid of me." Once again she was pulled into a hug, and this time she reciprocated it, sliding her arms around her girlfriend's neck.

 

While tearful reunion continued, Pearl looked over at Jasper, reaching across and squeezing her hand firmly before mouthing the words 'well done'. Jasper gave a lop-sided grin in response, taking her girlfriend's hand in hers and lacing their fingers together. Then there was the sound of fast footsteps across the beach to their left. A pair of uniformed figures were swiftly making their way down to them at the water’s edge.

 

"Oh, the EMT's are here!" Pearl announced, letting out a sigh of relief.

 

"They sure took their time." Peridot grumbled, leaning back slightly while still holding Lapis in a protective embrace. "Seriously, they had to be on-site at an event like this, what were they doing? Stars, if Jasper hadn't-" She paused, noticing the confused expression on her partner's face.

 

"...What did Jasper do?" Lapis quietly asked, brows furrowed slightly. 

 

"Oh… uh…" Peridot coughed awkwardly, scratching the back of her head. "Well, you see uh-" 

 

Puzzled by her girlfriend's response, she instead slowly turned her head to the burly woman, giving her a tired yet quizzical look.

 

Jasper fidgeted a little, then shrugged.

 

"You… remember how I used to be by the pool all the time, right?" She said hesitantly. "And that I took some courses ‘cause I was there so much...?"

 

It took Lapis a second to realize what Jasper was getting at, and when she did her mouth dropped open slightly.

 

"...You mean...?"

 

"Yeah…"

 

"I see…"

 

There was silence for a moment. Then Lapis spoke again.

 

"You still remember that? After all this time?"

 

Again, Jasper shrugged.

 

"I guess? It's a pretty useful skill to have so… I kept doing refreshers. Good to know that stuff as an athlete you know…"

 

At that moment the EMT’s finally reached them, cutting any conversation short. After a quick assessment, with Jasper making sure that Peridot wouldn’t get on their backs about being so late, they made the decision to take the surfer to the hospital. Lapis protested, assuring them she was fine, but her insistence was cut short when Peridot too, despite her irritation, agreed that she should go; just to be observed and to make sure she recovered properly. 

 

So with that, a few moments later Lapis was being helped into an ambulance. Peridot had somehow managed to persuade them to let her ride along despite her not being a family member. Jasper had grabbed her bags for her and she’d dressed as quickly as possible, not feeling comfortable sitting in an ambulance in nothing but her swimsuit.

 

“Keep me posted, yeah?” Jasper said softly as she gave her sister a hug, ruffling her hair. “I mean, I’m sure everything will be okay but-”

 

“I’ll text you when I can, Jaz. don’t worry.” The blonde murmured as she returned the hug and then slowly pulled away. “You saved Lapis’ life, I… I don’t know how to thank you.” 

 

“Ah… you don’t need to thank me.” Jasper grinned slightly, feeling a little embarrassed. “I did what was right… I’m just glad it worked.”

 

Peridot eyed her, then smiled softly. “As am I. And you’ll be receiving all the thanks I can give you, you bet your ass!… And I’m sure Lapis will do the same. When she’s completely better that is.”

 

“I’m already better!” Came a tired yet slightly irritated voice from the back of the ambulance. Peridot let out a slight sigh.

 

“Precautionary measures, Lapis!” She called over her shoulder, which only got a slight grumble in response. The blonde rolled her eyes and smiled a little. “Well, she certainly sounds better.” She commented. “Stubborn and sarcastic, classic Lapis.” Giving a small snort, she looked between the two girls in front of her and turned to Pearl. “I… just wanted to say I do think this meeting was a great idea and gave us a chance to reconcile. I’m glad I got the chance to talk with you after all these years.” She held out a hand.

 

Pearl blinked, then gave a small smile of her own and took Peridot’s hand on her own, shaking it lightly. “Likewise.” She replied softly, glad to know their conversation from earlier hadn’t all been in vain.

 

“However.” Peridot continued. “As beneficial as this was, I would like to suggest that we do this again another time, give us all a chance to socialize without… you know.” She glanced to the ocean. “The risk of a possible drowning.”

 

Jasper couldn’t help but chuckle a little and gave a nod.

 

“Sure thing, we’d be down for that, right Pearl?” The peach-haired girl gave another nod as her girlfriend wrapped a muscular arm around her waist. “Let us know whenever, after you’ve had a chance to rest, of course.”

 

Peridot grinned, nodded and gave her sister another hug before finally hopping into the back of the ambulance. As the door closed she gave them one final wave and the vehicle drove off, leaving the other couple by themselves on the sand.

 

“Well… that could have gone a whole lot worse.” Pearl noted whimsically. 

 

“Yeah, uhh… that definitely wasn’t how I expected today to go down whatsoever. I guess that was the first half the game and now we’ve reached the interval before the inevitable second half begins.” Jasper pondered, making quick use of a football analogy.  

 

Or … to put it into a more simple term that makes much more sense to people whom are half-witted in sports such as myself, this was just the prologue that will set us up for our next encounter . Think you’ll be ready for that? You got off easy today after all.” 

 

“Are you kidding me? I heroically saved the water witch who had my heart confined in a bubble for thousands of years, I’m ready for ANYTHING!” Jasper hollered dramatically. 

 

“Well, someone certainly had quite the adrenaline rush from this whole stressful ordeal.” Pearl chuckled in amusement. “So if Lapis is the water witch, does that make you an Amazonian Princess? Because if so, I will gladly be your emotional support knight.”

 

“A warrior princess and her refined knight? Sounds like a dynamic duo! Would my knight perhaps indulge herself in a piggyback ride up to the boardwalk? You’re looking a little peckish and all the suspense and mental strain of today’s adventure has got me hungry again! I heard they brought back Cookie Cat’s for a limited time today and are deep frying them.” Said the blonde amazonian enthusiastically as she knelt down on one knee for her reverent knight to clamber onto her back. 

 

“Well… alright, as long as you don’t mind my dead weight as you trudge through this sand. I could go for a bubble tea myself.” Replied Pearl as she was seated comfortably utop Jasper’s shoulders with her fingers embedded into her girlfriend’s mane. 

 

“Alright, hold on tight ‘cuz I’m gonna Naruto run up there.” Said Jasper gruffly as she did a single squat. 

 

“You are not! How utterly embarrassing.” Retorted Pearl with a rough tug of the reigns she had wrapped around her wrist constructed from Jasper’s thick mane. 

 

Jasper growled playfully as her hair was pulled and her face was forced to point upwards. She craned her neck and turned back to feast her eyes upon Pearl with glinted eyes and bared teeth. 

 

“What if I Naruto ran us to that Buddwick public library you were so excitable about after we get some grub before they close for the night?” 

 

Pearl took advantage of the position of Jasper’s face to swoop in and give her a peck on the lips before she loosened the grasp on her girlfriend’s locks. “Fineee…” She replied as she gave in with pursed lips and a subtle blush to her cheeks. 

 

Jasper responded by securely grabbing each of Pearl’s ankles and lumbering through the dense beach sand up to the boardwalk with a satisfied grin.