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Babysitting

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Summer had just ended, giving way to fall. While Del Marva barely changed in the first week or two, the trees slowly turned away and left leaves to pick up. Steven was just raking leaves with Connie and talking about their escapades when Connie mentioned an upcoming one.

"I have to babysit for a family of two toddlers and a baby on Saturday," Connie said while raking the leaves into a pile, "but it's just… I can't."

"Why not?" Steven asked. He would take the opportunity to babysit any time, but nobody really asked him.

"I have a ton of homework to do," Connie blushed slightly, a little embarrassed to admit her faults. She wasn't really one to fall behind, but she had been busy with lessons the past week. "my mom really wants me to do it, though. I'm not sure what to do."
If Steven were in a cartoon, he would have a light bulb over his head.

"I could do it!" the hybrid said, "I've always wanted to!"

"Why didn't you do it then?"

"Nobody asked me. Who wants a kid with superpowers watching their kids?"

Connie chuckled a bit at Steven’s joking tone. “I can ask the mom if she’s alright with that. She’s usually pretty flexible with that kind of stuff. You free tomorrow?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty free! The other Crystal Gems are handling some extra expansions on Little Homeworld, so my schedule’s been freed up.”

“That’s great! I’ll meet you on the boardwalk so I can walk you to her house.” Connie put the rake near the garage and headed inside the front door. “I gotta go, it’s almost time for dinner. Seeya!”

Steven waved goodbye to his friend as he started walking home, being rather used to walking to Connie’s house on his own so heading home was no problem, he knew how to not get lost.

When he got back, it was getting late. He had just finished microwaving some pasta when the other three Crystal Gems came in.

“We’re back, Steven!” Pearl excitedly waved hello at the hybrid boy while Amethyst gave him a fist bump.

“Hey guys! How’re the developments on Little Homeworld?” Steven inquired. Pearl looked excited at the question.

“Oh, it’s been great! Bismuth’s been working hard on some new rooms for the incoming Gems. She’s been more protective of her scaffoldings since… the incident…”

Steven remembered all too well. Back during the biopoison drill incident.

“We’ve got it all under control,” Garnet said with a smile. Amethyst sat on the couch on all fours and got all up in Steven’s face.

“So what’s up with you?” Amethyst asked excitedly.

“Well, Connie couldn’t take up a babysitting job for tomorrow, so I offered to help her out.”

“Babysitting? I think I’ve heard that somewhere before… isn’t that that thing where humans take care of other humans’ children?” Pearl inquired. “Yeah, it’s definitely not actually sitting on babies. Learned that the hard way.” Amethyst answered.

“Reminds me of when we first spent time with you as a baby,” Garnet said, patting Steven’s head. “Garnet, don’t remind me…” Pearl said, looking away nervously. This got a little chuckle out of the stoic fusion.

The four Crystal Gems talked the night away while Steven ate his dinner (and Amethyst only ate a few things instead of Steven’s entire fridge), and eventually it was getting late to the point that Steven needed to sleep.

Once all three Gems had left, Steven went up to his room and went to sleep, excited for the coming day.

------

Droplets of water covered the petals of the hibiscus flowers. They flowed from the watering can in Steven’s hand as he went around the warp pad dome, making sure the flowers were nice and healthy.

He was watering a tall pot near the doorway when he heard the warp pad activate. Maybe it was Bismuth or one of the other gems doing construction giving him news?

But there was no way he could mistake the long noodle arms wrapping around his waist multiple times before the figure coming in tacklehugged him, making him drop his watering can and pinning him down on the ground.

“Steven! It’s so good to see ya!” The fuschia gem with an upside-down heart-shaped gemstone smiled down at him.

“Spinel! It’s good to see you too! What’s with the surprise visit?” Steven said with a smile, glad to see one of his far-off friends again.

Spinel unwrapped her flexible arms from around Steven and sat up on her knees, a finger on her chin and looking away. “Weeeell, the Diamonds are really busy with their Diamond-y things, never really got all that political stuff.” She looked back at him with a smile, her black tear scars covering her cheeks. “And I just missed ya!”

Steven smiled and sat up, causing Spinel to step back. “Well, I’d love to hang out, but I need to go babysit for someone Connie’s family knows…”

An idea clicked in his head. “Hey, why don’t you come with me? I could teach you more about humans!” Spinel’s eyes lit up at this idea. “Ooh! Sounds like fun!”

Steven smiled as he stood up completely and took Spinel’s hand, the two sharing a smile before leaving the dome.

---------

“Spinel’s with you?”

Connie was rather surprised to see the fuschia gem with Steven. It wasn’t a displeased surprise or a pleasant one. Somewhere in the middle.

“Yeah, she came in for a surprise visit!” Steven said with his always heartwarming smile, making Spinel feel happy with just seeing it out of the corner of her eye.

“Oh, well, I don’t think that should be a problem. Come with me.” Connie led the way to the neighborhood, Steven and Spinel close behind.

---------

The door was quickly answered after Connie pressed the doorbell. A woman with frizzy reddish-brown hair stepped out, wearing a long black maternity shirt, as she had a rather pregnant midsection, with a jean jacket, dark blue jeans, and black flats. Her appearance reminded Steven quite a bit of Vidalia.

“Hey, Mrs. Harrington! This is Steven.” She gestured to the hybrid boy, who adjusted his pink letterman jacket and reached out to shake the woman’s hand.

“Well, if it isn’t Steven! Connie’s mom told me about you. Something about a hospital?” The woman had a friendly yet slightly raspy voice, like she was in her early to mid 40s.

“Uhh… yeah… I remember that…” Steven looked away nervously with a slight sweat, the memories from that night in the hospital with all the gem mutants still very clear in his mind. He turned to notice Spinel tilting her body to see past Steven and look at the woman.

“Oh! Mrs. Harrington, this is Spinel. She’s a gem from space, and she’s coming to visit me. I hope that’s okay.” Steven said as he moved a little to allow Mrs. Harrington to see the fuschia gem, who was looking at her with curiosity.

“Oooh, she’s one of those gems mentioned in the brochure, eh? Well, nice to meetcha, Spinel. You can call me Carrie.” She reached out her hand to shake Spinel’s. The fuschia gem replicated Steven’s movements, still learning formal Earth greetings.

“C’mon in, make yourselves at home.” The three walked in with Carrie as she closed the door behind them.

---------

“You guys want any tea? My husband likes vanilla the best. Fixed myself some rooibos tea.” Mrs. Harrington placed a tray onto the coffee table, with four white porcelain cups of tea on it. Steven and Connie picked up their cups while Spinel kept looking at their host.

“Mrs. Harrington, you only heard about gems from the brochure? There’s a bunch around town.” Steven said, putting his hand in a thumbs-up and gesturing behind him.

“Oh? Well, haven’t really been able to go out much. My husband thinks I should be more careful right now.” Mrs. Harrington said, putting her hand on her rather showing stomach.

As the conversation between the woman and two tweens continued, Spinel kept staring at Mrs. Harrington with an odd curiosity.

After a while, Steven noticed this from her.

“Uhh… Spinel?”

The gem didn’t respond to him. Instead, she sat up and walked over to the woman, who was just leaning slightly on the arm of one of her cushion chairs.

“Oh, Spinel, was it? What’s up?” The woman asked kindly.

Spinel leaned down towards her midsection. “I’ve never seen a human with a bump like this. What’s in there?” She put her index finger and thumb to her chin, looking curiously.

“Huh? Oh, my next baby’s in there. I show pretty fast since I got all stretched out from last time.” The woman said casually, gently tapping her hand on her bump.

“So you ate a baby? Pretty sure that’s where the stomach is, or so Steven’s said.” At this, Steven shot up straight nervously in his seat. “S-Spinel, that’s not how babies work…”

But the woman only chuckled at this. “Nah, that’s just where a baby grows. Maybe your friend can teach you sometime.” Steven looked away, his face flushed, while Connie only giggled.

“Y’know, you can put your hand on it if you want.” Spinel processed this request for a moment, and nervously put her hand against the bump. It felt pretty solid, unlike when she held Steven and found him more squishy in that area.

Suddenly, she jolted at feeling something on the inside hit against her hand, but just for a moment. “W-What was that?” Spinel asked nervously.

Mrs. Harrington found this curiosity in Spinel hilarious, chuckling at Spinel’s concern. “Don’t worry too much, he’s just kicking. Babies do that before they’re born.”

Spinel found a bit of an enjoyment of putting her hand against the bump and feeling the kick, giggling whenever she felt it. “There it is again!”

Steven couldn’t resist smiling at Spinel’s curiosity. Even when her innocence had been taken away by his mother’s mistakes, she still retained innocence in discovering the Earth.

Suddenly, they heard some kids upstairs yelling. “Oh, that’s just the twins. They’ll be like that. They need to nap soon anyways, I’ll put them to their nap, so you’ll just deal with my youngest at the start.”

As the woman walked out of the room and upstairs, Spinel turned to Steven with an excited look on her face. “Steven, how does the baby get in there?”

Steven didn’t know if he had the heart to answer that.

"Do you want to meet him?"

"Who?" asked Steven.

"My youngest," Carrie said, "I'll just put the twins to bed and bring him down. I have to leave soon."

As the pregnant woman disappeared into the upstairs hallway, Spinel turned to Steven. He was talking with Connie about the kids personalities, since she babysat them often. Steven was nervous about the event, but Connie assured him it wouldn't be difficult. Then Connie left. And Carrie left.

And then Spinel and Steven were alone with a baby. Steven mumbling to himself, "I can do this, I can take care of a baby, right? Yas, I can.." he seemed to be having a bit of trouble believing he was responsible enough.

Steven felt a hand that obviously didn't know it's own strength hit his back, nearly knocking the wind out of him. "I know you can do it, Steven! I'm here too," the owner of the hand, Spinel, said.

"Yeah, um," Steven looked down at the infant in his arms. "it's just one right now."

"Is this what you looked like when you were made, Steven?" Spinel asked, looking at the baby curiously.

"Yas," Steven said, not noticing how her eyes grew wide and a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth. "Not anymore, though."

"Can you do it again?" the gem asked, practically jumping up and down in her seat.

"Last time I did that, I had to stretch myself out for several hours," Steven said, blushing. "But.. if you want."

"Not if it hurts you!" Spinel sounded concerned.

"I'll figure it out!" Steven said. The conversation stopped as soon as the half-human and gem heard the pitter-pattering of tiny feet. "What.. was that?"

“Dunno…” The fuschia gem stretched her upper torso towards the source of the sound, as her squeaky boots would have alerted the attention of the moving beings.

Peeking around a corner, she spotted two kids, a boy and a girl with reddish brown hair that matched their mother’s, but not as frizzy. The girl had her hair tied in tiny pigtails, the boy with a classic yet messy bobcut, and they were both wearing pajamas. They were slowly creeping down the stairs, trying to stay quiet, but the floor still creaked under their feet.

Steven had followed Spinel’s torso as her legs silently caught up with her, seeing the kids creeping downstairs towards the TV room.

“Hey, what are you guys doing out of bed? Didn’t your mom put you in nap time?” Steven said just a little sternly. Spinel peeked from behind the corner, a little nervous about these other humans.

“Aaah! We’re caught! Run!” The boy sped off to the TV room, his sister following close behind.

“Oh no ya don’t!” Spinel stretched out her arm to grab the boy by his pajama shirt collar, linking the girl in her arm as she tugged them back.

The kids stared in awe at the fuschia gem for a moment, not used to anyone with such flexible limbs.

“Wheee!” The girl started swinging from Spinel’s arm, while the boy crawled up her other arm like a pole to sit on her shoulders.

“Hey hey hey!” Spinel stumbled a little from the constant imbalance of weight. She was used to playing with Pink, but not used to anyone like Pink playing on her.

“Woah there, no climbing on Spinel!” Steven tried to grab the son off of Spinel’s shoulders, but he quickly hopped onto her head to avoid the hybrid boy’s grasp.

Loud crying emitted from the living room, indicating that the infant needed their attention. Spinel tried to rush towards the sound, but found it difficult with the two kids on her constantly throwing off her balance and leaving her very close to falling.

"I'll get him," Steven said, running out of the room.

Spinel looked back at the children crawling all over her with disapproval. The twins kept going. Obviously they weren't that good at emotional intelligence. The pink gem was starting to wonder if she really did want Steven like this ever.

"Please get off," Spinel said, clearly holding back. She wasn't used to being touched, or being treated like a toy again. Maybe before she wouldn't have minded, but now she was a different gem. The two children slid off Spinel like she was made of glass.

Steven suddenly came back into the room with the baby. He barely registered the two toddlers behind him as they went into the TV room, and instead focused on Spinel.

"Spinel," Steven said, slowly walking towards her. Her hair was down and she was staring at the floor sadly. "What happened?" Spinel stayed quiet for a moment before looking at Steven. She was on the verge of tears.

"They were treating me like a toy, Steven!" she said, "I know I'm not, but it just reminded me so much of her!"

"It's ok, I understand," If Steven wasn't holding a baby, he would've probably been hugging her. "We should probably watch them, though."

Steven headed back into the TV room, leaving Spinel to come in at her own accord.

The kids had turned on the TV and were sitting on the floor rug in their PJs, not noticing Steven enter the room, followed by a rather shaky Spinel.

“Ok, you two, we need to talk.” The kids turned their heads towards Steven curiously.

“Be a bit more careful with my friend Spinel, okay? She’s… delicate.” Spinel felt a little nervous about his use of ‘delicate’, but his tone made her feel calmer. Maybe that was just the only word to get the children to understand.

The twins looked at Spinel with remorse. Spinel knew their faces spoke enough words.

She came a little closer to them, waving hello.

“Uhh… hi?”

The little girl got up and walked closer to her. As she reached the gem’s feet, she raised her arms up and started hopping. Spinel looked at Steven with confusion. “I think she wants you to pick her up, Spinel.” Steven said with a reassuring smile.

Swallowing her fears, she tried to mimic how Steven was cradling the baby, but with different proportions. She sat the girl on her arm, with the other arm wrapped behind the girl’s back.

The girl’s eyes sparkled as she reached up to tug a little on one of Spinel’s ponytails.

“Your hair is so pretty!” she said with an innocent, high-pitched voice. This made Spinel look away in embarrassment, feeling a little flattered.

“Uhh… thanks!” she said with a nervous smile. The little girl giggled and started bouncing around in Spinel’s arms. This startled the fuchsia gem, but it seemed harmless. She even started bouncing the child in her arms herself.

Steven felt a warmth in his heart seeing Spinel play with the child. It almost looked maternal. Like Spinel herself was a mother.

“Okay, you two, you both get dressed. Spinel and I need to take care of your baby brother.” Steven interrupted the moment, seeing the baby in his arms starting to get restless.

Spinel set the girl down as the twins rushed upstairs, giggling in excitement. Steven looked at the baby in horror as his calm demeanor went to howling. Spinel reached out to hold the baby and Steven reluctantly gave him to her.

"I'll go get.. something," Steven said, shuffling awkwardly out of the room. Spinel looked at the creature in her arms, bawling his eyes out.

"Um, hey, stop," the gem said, securing the baby's entire body with her arm and poking it with the other. He grabbed onto her pinkie finger and stopped crying. "Oh, okay."

Spinel held this pose for a few minutes. Eventually, Steven returned with a multicolored ring.

"Looks like he likes you," Steven said, replacing Spinel's hand with a toy. "Come sit on the couch."

Spinel followed the instructions she was given and sat down, still cradling the baby in her arms. It felt so soft, so fragile. She felt a strange tightness in her chest seeing the little thing squirm around and play with the toy, even putting it in his mouth a few times, but it didn’t feel like a bad tightness. She felt the urge to protect him.

The two watched the baby play with his toy, the room completely silent except for the tapping sounds of plastic.

Suddenly, after a while, the baby dropped the toy and stared up at Spinel. She stared back with curiosity, confused as to why he would put it down. The tiny human slightly reached up his hand towards her chest, just near her gem, trying to tug at something that wasn’t there as he made weird vocal noises.

Spinel raised an eyebrow at this. Why was he just grabbing at nothing? He seemed to be aiming for her chest, or maybe her gem. She turned to Steven, but was greeted by a rather flustered expression on his face.

“Uhh… Steven? You doin’ okay?” Steven shook off the red tint on his cheeks. “I-I’ll be right back…” He power-walked out of the room and quickly came back with a bottle of milk and a plastic container of weird-colored mush with a spoon on top.

“Carrie blended some veggies before we got here and told me how to heat them up. I think I can tell he just wants food…” Spinel looked at Steven curiously. “How could ya tell?”

This made Steven’s posture stiffen. “U-Uhh… w-well… female humans have these… things… on their chest that lets them feed their baby milk.”

The fuchsia gem’s eyes widened. “Wait, like cows?”

The comparison didn’t help the red on Steven’s face. “Uhh… yeah… basically. Sometimes the baby gets so used to that that they… uhh… try to pull down the mom’s shirt to get at it…”

“But why would he try that on me? I’m not wearin’ a shirt, and I don’t have those things that make milk. Wouldn’t he know that?” Spinel said, adjusting the baby, who was still trying to grasp at her, in her arms.

“Well… babies aren’t very smart. They don’t understand the world around them that well.” Steven shook the milk bottle a little and placed it next to Spinel. “So they just learn by following along with whatever happens.”

Spinel felt she sort of understood. But a non-intelligent human? Without even the capability to speak coherently or understand gem bodies? It intrigued her.

“Well… just hold that bottle near his mouth. He’ll latch on pretty fast, or so I’ve heard.” Spinel nodded at Steven’s instructions and picked up the bottle with the hand that wasn’t placed against the baby’s back. She slightly held it to the baby’s mouth, and it latched on quickly, just as Steven said.

“Woah, he’s really drinkin’ from it!” Spinel watched in awe at the baby’s understanding of his situation. The strange maternal recognition sparked in Steven’s mind again. Maybe Spinel was reminding him of a human mother?

"So, then what?" Spinel asked when the baby was done.

"Well, we still have the food," Steven said, bringing the spoon with mush up to the baby's face. He pushed it away immediately. "Uhh… ok, let me try again. No? Huh, this baby is a tough nut to crack."

Spinel held out her hand to take the spoon from Steven and try it herself, and she succeeded in doing so. Steven was making weird noises the entire time and saying 'airplane'.The duo watched as the baby eventually swallowed. "Ok! Another one!"

"This is great!" Spinel said, feeding the baby more.

It was great until the eventual backup. The baby had been making weird gargling noises for the first few moments, and it let out a high-pitched whine.

"What's going on, Steven?" the gem said, looking over at the boy. He looked petrified, like he knew what was about to happen, but he was powerless to stop it.

Before Spinel could ask again, the baby projectile spit-up in her face, leaving white fluid all over her face, and it even got in her hair. Spinel turned to Steven with a grossed-out face while the baby coughed. This got a slight giggle out of Steven, being returned by Spinel with a miffed expression.

“Ya mind tellin’ me what just happened?” Spinel said in a rather sickened tone of voice.

"He spit in your face," Steven said, holding back his laughs. His face was turning red from how much he was holding back. "It.. was.. super funny! You should've seen your face!"

"Get it off me!" Spinel squealed, "Ew, ew, ew.."

"This normally doesn't happen," Steven said, taking the baby from Spinel again. "you should go clean up. I can take it from here. There's a bathroom by the front door."

"Roger that," the pink gem said, trying to wipe some of the human saliva off of her. It only did worse, though, as it stuck to her hand instead.

On her way to the bathroom, Spinel encountered the twins. They were both dressed. The girl stopped Spinel as she passed by and stared up at her in wonder.

"Do you wan' have a tea party?" the toddler asked. She smiled sweetly, but Spinel couldn't help but feel a chill run down her spine. If she had one.

"Alright, I'll have this 'tea party' with you, but after I clean up, ok?" Spinel replied, crouching down to be as close to the toddler's height as possible without stretching. The girl nodded and pointed upstairs, and then she crawled back up the stairs to the second floor.

Spinel quickly found the bathroom and wiped the baby spit off her face. Steven could hold his own for a while, right? Spinel had to go to a 'tea party', after all.

-----

“What’s this thing?” Spinel asked the girl who was trying to place a plastic tiara on her head.

She was sitting in the girl’s bedroom on the floor in front of a mirror while the girl, dressed in a pink sparkly princess costume and wearing a pair of her mom’s high heels, was trying to fit some princess accessories on her.

“It’s a tiara! Princesses wear it in Mommy’s fairy tales!”

“What’s a… fairy tale?”

The little girl looked at Spinel with wide eyes. “Didn’t your Mommy tell you fairy tales?”

Spinel retained her confused expression. “‘Mommy’ is Carrie, right? I don’t have one of those. Gems are made from the ground, not born.”

“...Gem?”

Spinel didn’t feel like going too much into herself. Thinking about more gems brought good memories of spending time at Little Homeworld with the other Crystal Gems or on Homeworld with the Diamonds…

… but it also brought her back to her memories of the garden, and of Pink Diamond.

“It’s… a lot to explain, kiddo.” Spinel said, looking a little sad. The girl furrowed her tiny brows before rushing over to a bookcase and pulling out a big book, resting it on the floor.

“Whatcha got there?” Spinel asked while the girl flipped through the pages.

“Mommy reads stories from this book to me before I go to bed! Look!” She points to an image of a prince kissing a princess.

“What’s that… thing they’re doing with their mouths?”

“Mommy said it’s called kissing. The princess was poisoned by a mean ol’ queen, and she fell asleep for a while. But when the prince kissed her, she woke up!”

Spinel watched as the girl flipped through the pages. Spinel wasn’t all that good at English yet, so the little girl read out what she couldn’t understand. She had memorized the words her mom had read to her after having the same stories read to her many times.

“So… these princesses are like… the leaders, right?”

The girl nodded vigorously. “They live in big castles and always wear pretty dresses! When she marries a prince, she gets to rule the kingdom!”

A kingdom…

… like a colony?

Some of the princesses brought up memories of Pink, of which Spinel tried to shake off. Pink Diamond was gone now, so she needed to focus on the present, just like Steven taught her.

“... and they’re always friends with forest animals, and they have tea parties! I brought guests for mine!”

The girl pulled out a chair to an extremely short table with a tea set on it. There were other chairs set up around it with a bunch of stuffed animals on the seats, with one empty seat left open for Spinel.

Spinel was much taller than this table and the little girl, so she tried to sit as comfortably as possible, even though she had sit in a slightly discomforting position with her thighs raised at first, so she tried a slightly different position and moved around her legs until she found a more comfortable way to sit, even if it was just keeping her knees closer together than her initial sitting position.

The little girl picked up a teapot and poured out some apple juice into the various teacups set out for her stuffed animals, for Spinel, and for herself.

"I don't really drink," Spinel said, picking up the teacup and staring at the liquid inside.

"That's okay! Just pretend!" the little girl said, and Spinel did pretend. Spinel tried her best not to open her mouth but eventually, she did get some in.

And she immediately spat it out, startling the girl. The Gem laughed as she wiped her mouth to get the rest of it away from her. "Sorry if I scared ya, I just don't really like the aftermath of drinking when I'm not in a safe place."

"What's that mean?"

"Oh.. you know, the bathroom," Spinel blushed slightly, but not enough for the girl to notice.

"What about it?"

"What humans do in the bathroom."

Then the little girl laughed, and it was Spinel's turn to be startled. The sudden noise after those few awkward moments caused her to momentarily coil out of her seat. She settled back down after the laughter ceased.

"Nice to know I'm still a good comedian," Spinel said, leaning back in the tiny seat was much as she could. Just to look cool.

The little girl pulled a small oven out from under the table and plugged it into the wall. "Let's get cooking!"

"There's more!?"

-----

'Where is she? She hasn't come downstairs since the baby spit up on her…'

Steven could hardly take his eyes off the stairs, only looking away to tend to the baby still in his arms. The infant had gotten a little fussy since Spinel left for the bathroom.

The hybrid boy kept thinking about the pink gem. How she was really good with kids despite not understanding them well. Doing perfectly well with feeding the baby before he spit up on her, being able to keep him calm, dealing somewhat well with rambunctious toddlers.

Maybe she'd make a good mother, if she ever understood what that would mean.

She seemed to enjoy being around children. It made him think a little of how she would always play with Pink. It was somewhat like playing with a child, right?

His eyelids grew a bit heavy over time as he waited for Spinel. It felt like hundreds of years were passing.

Is this how Spinel felt?

He missed her.

Laying down with the baby resting on his chest, using his arms to keep him safe, he began to nap on the couch, drifting off into a light slumber.

------

"Uhhh… is it supposed to look like that?"

Spinel had burnt the cookie mix that she had made with the little girl. Never a very great cook.

The pink gem unplugged the oven from the wall, as the oven was smoking quite a bit. She knew smoke wasn't good for humans, so she had to deal with it fast.

"I'll be right back. Just gonna put this away."

The girl happily nodded as Spinel carried the tiny oven out of the bedroom, walking back down the stairs.

It was then that she saw through the doorway at the bottom of the stairs in front of her that Steven was napping on the couch, the baby in his arms.

Placing the oven next to the stairs, she walked over to Steven, tiptoeing so her feet wouldn't squeak so much.

Looking over the hybrid boy, Spinel couldn't help but notice how peaceful he looked when sleeping.

How relaxed his face was when he wasn't moving.

It was then that she remembered the books the girl had shown her. The princess was asleep in a glass coffin and when the prince kissed her, she woke up.

She was worried maybe Steven might not wake up if she didn't kiss him, as she often didn't see him sleeping, and never quite understood how he woke up again.

Fueled by her fears and by a strange excitement flooding through her body, she very lightly pecked him on the lips.

She was impressed by how soft his lips were. It was nice.

"Spinel…?"

She looked down again to see Steven waking up, a sleepy smile on his face.

"What's going on…?"

"You're awake!" Spinel smiled brightly. Her plan worked. "I wasn't sure how you were gonna wake up, so I kissed ya!"

Steven, upon hearing her words, immediately turned red. "Steven? What happened? Why did you turn red?" Spinel sounded panicked, "Do I have to kiss ya again? Are ya dyin’?!"

"Spinel," Steven said slowly. He pushed himself away from Spinel, still holding the fragile form of the infant they were babysitting. "I would have woken up without you kissing me, but.. thanks for trying?"

His eyes darted around the room, finding anything but Spinel to look at. "Steven," the pink gem said, "Did you like it?"

As she slowly closed the gap between them, Steven was prompted to answer, "Yas, but maybe not with 3 kids in the room?"

Spinel stopped crawling over and stared at the 2 toddlers giggling in the doorway and the infant in Steven's arms. She put her hands over her mouth, covering her own embarrassed blush. "Oh.. sorry."

"They're just like Mommy and Daddy!" Spinel heard one of the toddlers say. She looked back to Steven for confirmation, raising an eyebrow slightly.

"Haha, very funny," Steven said, getting up off the couch. He walked over to the two toddlers, who quickly scattered away.

"These kids are fun. They make me think of all the good times with Pink so much…" She looked down a little sadly at that last part, making Steven look at her with concern.

"But Pink is gone. I shouldn't have to worry about that stuff, right?" She tried her best to bounce back, but the thought of Pink kept haunting her.

The kids had run upstairs, so Steven carried the baby with him while they ran up to follow them.

The minute Spinel stepped into the room, she was grazed by a foam bullet.

"Here, we're gonna play 'battlefield'!"

The little boy tossed a Nerf gun at Spinel, he and his sister already holding some. The boy's was colored with blue, white, and orange, while the sister held a smaller one with pink, white, and purple. Spinel had been tossed a purple and white one.

"Uhh… how do ya use these things?" She looked at the gun, turning it around to inspect it.

"Press the button over here," the boy said, pointing to a crescent-shaped button. "you pull the plunger, and make sure to have bullets!"

"What are 'bullets'?" the Gem asked, pointing the front of the Nerf gun to her face.

"They're these!" the little girl said, holding up an orange foam bullet. She had been hit with that before.

"Okay! Ready!" the boy said, diving behind the bed on the opposite side of the room.

-----

"Hey, what happened?" Steven said, walking into the room. "I heard.."

Steven didn't even have time to pull out his shield before he was sprayed by foam bullets. His first instinct was to just turn around and protect the infant in his arms.

"Steven!" he heard Spinel whisper to him. He turned slightly to see the source of the sound, and saw Spinel hiding behind a desk she had pulled up to create a makeshift shield. She made a gesture for him to come over, but when he didn't she said it instead, "Come here, Steven!"

"What's going on, Spinel?" Steven said, ducking behind the table.

"Those kids wanted me to play 'battlefield' with them!" Spinel said, "And how could I say no to such lovely kids? Until they started shooting at me!"

Steven looked over the table at the two toddlers scrambling around the room, collecting bullets. He was promptly shot in the face with one of the foam bullets. While it didn't hurt, it was still uncomfortable.

"Let's trade," Steven said, smiling as he held out the infant to Spinel. She relaxed and held the child in her arms as Steven got the Nerf gun ready. "Did they even tell you what to pull?"

"Yas, but I didn't understand it," Spinel said, blushing.

"Fair enough," Steven said, perching the Nerf gun over the edge of the table.

Steven seemed to have a lot more fun with this game than she did. He even seemed to use some of the techniques he actually used while fighting. She thought about trying it herself, but considering how last time went, maybe that wasn't such a good idea.

She had started to get nervous with all the loud noises and the occasional loud tap of the foam bullets against the table. She held the baby safely in her arms, terrified of letting him go.

The baby seemed to be disturbed by the noise as well, as he was nuzzling into her gem. There was a bit of warmth and glow radiating from it.

"Yeah, you don't like fighting either, do ya?" She knew talking to a baby would prove fruitless as Steven told her it couldn't form proper words yet or understand the world, but it was comforting to try.

The baby looked up at her, holding him safe in her arms like a caring mother, calmly, but then he started making noises.

"Ma-ma."

"Huh?"

"Ma-ma."

"No, no, I'm not your mother," Spinel said, poking the baby's nose lightly, "She's not here right now."

The baby laughed, but otherwise continued to insist that Spinel was his mother. Even though he couldn't speak, but that's what it felt like to Spinel. The mostly-wordless on the infant's part argument between infant and Gem continued until Steven returned. He looked tired.

"All worn out, huh? They really did a number on ya," Spinel said, pointing to Steven's hair. Sure enough, it had foam bullets in it. Steven sat down and tried picking them out.

"What have you two been doing?" Steven said, wincing slightly when a foam bullet pulled his hair.

"Oh, this one's just been insistin' I'm his mom!" Spinel groaned, deflating. "But I'm not, cause I didn't make him!"

Steven chuckled, "Sometimes that happens. Pearl tells me about the multiple times I called her mom when I was a baby all the time," he leaned back against the table, and it stayed stable. "Sometimes I feel like she's using it to embarrass me. Which she is."

"Found you!" the boy laughed, jumping out from the other side of the table. Steven had time to react and pulled his shield from his gem, stopping the onslaught. He looked back at Spinel, smiling when he saw her own smile.

"What is THAT?" they heard the two toddlers squeal. Steven couldn't hold back his laughs as he stood up to face them.

"That's just my shield," he said, dissolving it. He rubbed the back of his neck, looking away.
"It was a reflex, sorry about that."

But the children didn't even listen, since they were passed out on the bed in the middle of the room. Steven cleaned up the room, picking up the foam bullets and putting them away with the Nerf guns. He walked out of the room, softly closing the door behind him. Spinel followed.

"Let's put the little guy to bed," Steven said, continuing down the hall. He opened the door to a yellow room with an empty cradle in the corner. There were parts of another cradle in another corner.

"Have a good sleep," Spinel said, laying down the baby in the cradle. He grabbed her finger as she pulled away, stopping her. "Um, thank you, but I'd like my finger back."

The infant didn't let go, and relaxed the rest of his body except for his hand. Which was curled around her finger. Spinel gently pushed his hand off of her and retreated to the side of the cradle. She looked to Steven, who was staring at the pile of wood and pillows in the corner of the room.

"Hey, Steven," Spinel took his hand in hers, "Let's go."

"Sorry," Steven said, following her out of the room. "I was just thinking about how lucky these kids are."

"Why?"

"They get to see both of their parents every day, or even meet them the first time," he sighed, looking back at the closed door. "but that doesn't matter. I shouldn't be thinking about that right now."

"Steven," Spinel took his other hand, turning and stepping closer, "you should think about yourself or you'll never get clarity in your life."

"I'm here to talk, Steven."

"Thanks, Spinel," Steven blushed, looking away slightly. He was startled when Spinel started to close the gap between them, but he reflected her when the shock wore off.

"I'm back!" The two of them stopped and pulled away when they heard Carrie open the front door. "The meeting wasn't that long, I suppose!"

Steven let go first, walking down the stairs. Spinel thought he could've just floated down since it would've been faster, but he didn't really do that in public.

"Hey Carrie! The kids are all asleep." Spinel heard laughs coming from Carrie.

"How'd you do that? Usually they never sleep during the day."

"We played battlefield." It sounded so natural coming from Steven, but when Spinel said it, it felt wrong. She shook off those thoughts. One day, it would sound right.

She bounced down the stairs as they began the farewells and goodbyes.

"Here, you two, you can have some money seeing as you did so well. And I usually pay Connie." the woman began searching through her purse, and she pulled out two ten dollar bills.

"Oh, no thank you," Spinel said, bowing. "Gems have no need for material possessions."

"I do!" Steven said excitedly.

"Well, then I guess you won't have to split it," Carrie laughed, handing Steven the twenty dollars.

"Thank you, Mrs. Harrington." Steven said, folding the bills neatly and putting them in the pocket of his letterman jacket. "We should get going."

"The kids'll be sad not to see you when they wake up, but I hope you can babysit again!" Carrie said, looking at the duo.

"Of course, Mrs. Harrington," Spinel said, "I'd be up to it anytime!"

Steven took Spinel's hand as Mrs.Harrington showed them to the door. She felt something strange in her gem, like being held by something warm. As soon as they were out of view of the house, Steven stopped walking and turned to Spinel.

"So.. you wanna wake me up again?" Steven said, avoiding the word 'kiss' for some reason.

"You mean kiss?" Spinel chuckled, nudging Steven with her elbow. He laughed. "Of course."

The hybrid boy chuckled a bit before leaning on Spinel’s shoulder, his eyes closing so he appeared to be sleeping.

Spinel gave him a soft smile before placing a kiss on his cheek, waking him up.

“Heh, you’re not a bad kisser for someone who’s so new at it.”

“Oh shush, I just copied what I saw in some of the picture books.”

“You’re doing a great job of it.”

“Well ain’t you a sweetheart?”

Chapter Text

“Something is definitely wrong,” Connie murmured, looking down at her phone. Steven was babysitting today, with Spinel. They had been babysitting together for a week or two now.

Connie was called less and less, but she found that Steven had been called more and more to babysit the family with three children. It wasn’t that often, every three days or so they would disappear during the day to the small suburban neighbourhood. But it was the fact that Spinel was there with him that irked her. And that they spent almost every day Spinel wasn’t on Homeworld together.

Connie felt a strange courage bubble in her chest. She needed to know what was going on. She began typing a message to Steven, asking if she could tag along. Steven, being the nice guy he is, accepted and said he would meet her at the house.


Connie was early. She was usually quite punctual, but today she wanted to see how the two got to the house. Did they hold hands? Did they walk up to her, laughing about a joke one of them cracked that she didn’t hear?

She checked her watch. 4:58PM. She had two minutes by herself.

When the duo finally came, they weren’t doing anything Connie had imagined. They were just talking, Steven had his hands in his jacket and Spinel didn’t look like she had killed anything recently.

“Hey Connie!” Steven waved excitedly from a few metres away.

“Hi Steven,” Connie laughed. She took a quick glance at Spinel, but returned her friendly gaze to Steven, “Are you ready?”

“Yep!” Steven walked up to the door of the small suburban house. He knocked on the door and waited a few seconds. The trio could hear the sounds of excited children behind the door.

Mrs. Harrington answered, “Come on in! and… hey Connie, it’s nice to see you!”

“N-Nice to see you too, Mrs. Harrington! I hope it’s alright I’m joining them.”

“It’s totally okay! The more help we can get, the better! Still need to go out and get some new toys for my little one.” She patted her pregnant stomach a bit to gesture.

“Kids! Guess who’s here!” She turned to call upstairs while the three babysitters walked inside the house.

Two toddlers rushed downstairs in excitement to run in for a hug.

“Uncle Steven! Auntie Spinel!” They said excitedly in unison, much to Steven and Spinel’s enjoyment.

“Heh, nice to seeya too!” Spinel chuckled, gently patting the head of the little girl in her arms.

Uncle Steven? Auntie Spinel? Connie’s eyes widened at this.

No. No, maybe it doesn’t mean anything. They’re little kids, so a boy and a female-esque person together taking care of them would be the obvious name for them.

But it still filled her with a sense of unease.

“Uhh… hi Lucas! Hi Monaca!”

“Hi Connie!” “Hiya, Connie!” They both said hello at different intervals.

She felt she was starting to think too into this.

“I’ll get James down in a moment. He’s napping, so don’t be too rowdy until he wakes up, okay?” Mrs. Harrington put a finger to her lips as if to indicate quiet.

“Okay, Mommy!” The twins said, then covering their mouths upon realizing they had yelled that. They instead nodded afterwards.

“Don’t worry, Carrie, we’ll be careful.”

Mrs. Harrington smiled and grabbed her bag.

“Oh! By the way…”

She leaned down to whisper to the sitters. “The twins might need a bath, but they keep getting feisty whenever I try.”

Steven chuckled at this. “Sure thing. Spinel and I have been reading babysitting tip books in our spare time.”

Spinel giggled at the memory of that. She had brought one of those books back to Homeworld but tried her best to hide it from the Diamonds, finding it embarrassing if they found out what she was reading.

“I’ll be back in 2 hours!” Mrs. Harrington said as she walked out the door.

“So, what should we do first?” Spinel asked the twins. They both jumped up and ran to the TV room, Spinel not too far behind them.

“Wonder what that means,” Steven chuckled, following the group.

Connie was left alone in the hallway. She took her time coming back.

“Heya, Steven!” Spinel said as he entered the room, “We’re playin’ ‘board games’! I hope it’s not too boring..”

Spinel read the name on the box, “Citchen Calamity? Whatsa citchen?”

Steven laughed a bit at her mispronunciation, and walked over to the Gem and two toddlers in front of the couch.

“It’s said like kitchen,” Steven pointed at the ‘c’, “I can understand why it’s hard to read, though.”

“Yes, I’m just learnin’ how to read English, I guess,” Spinel smiled.

“Well then, do you guys wanna play?” Steven asked the kids jumping around in the middle of the room.

“Yeah!” they said in unison.

“Where’s Connie?” Steven looked back to see Connie in the doorway, smiling softly. “Hey Connie, come on! We’re playing Citchen Calamity!”

“Sure,” Connie sat down with the group around the board.

It couldn’t be too bad, right? She and Steven used to play this game all the time. Sure, Spinel was there too, but nothing could get romantic at a board game, right?


“Huh? I got two eggs.”

“Double Sunnys! Nice job, Spinel, you won!”

The game had lasted a while, and the twins weren’t sore about losing. Spinel gave Steven an excited smile.

“You’re not bad for a newbie!” Steven chuckled, patting Spinel on the head. He slightly messed with her ponytails, which got a few giggles out of her.

Connie stiffened. She had to divert this.

“Uhhh… let’s play hide and seek!”

Lucas jumped up from sitting on the carpet. “Ok! Monaca’s it!”

Connie smiled. Hide and seek. It was perfect. A way to keep them apart. If they were apart, they couldn’t flirt with each other, right?

Everyone started heading around the house. Connie hid under the sink, and was found by Monaca within 10 minutes after her countdown ended.

“Found youuu!” Monaca giggled as Connie stepped out of the opened cabinet door.

“Heh, yep!”

She looked around. She had only seemed to find her and Lucas. Steven and Spinel were still hiding.

“Check your bedroom!” the brother said to his sister. She nodded and they ran upstairs to the pink-covered bedroom.

Monaca ran to the bed and lifted the blanket, exposing Steven and Spinel hiding under it.

“Found youuu!” she giggled. The two crawled out from under the bed.

They were still hiding together? Connie gripped her hands together to slightly alleviate her stress.

“Ok, who’s it next?” Steven asked. Lukas put a hand to his chin and thought.

“Ooh! Uncle Steven’s it!” Everyone darted off.

Connie decided to follow Spinel. She hid herself in a kitchen cabinet. Connie did the same, but hid in the cabinet right next to hers.

After a while, Connie recognized the sound of flip-flops tapping on the sleek kitchen floor.

Steven.

She kept the cabinet door open just a creak, enough for her to remain hidden. She could still see outside clearly...


Steven looked around. He knew he had heard squeaking in this direction, so Spinel must have hidden in there.

His attention was grabbed by stifled giggling coming from one of the cabinets.

He smirked.

“Oh no, I can’t find Spinel! I wonder where she could be…” he said, making sure Spinel could hear. More muffled giggling.

He slowly crept over to the cabinet where he heard Spinel giggling. “I wonder… maybe she’s…”

“... right here!”

He pulled open the door to find Spinel balled up trying to fit in the cabinet, wrapping her arms around her legs.

“You can squeeze into some real tight places, huh?”

“Heheh, yeah. I mean, I can stretch pretty far, so might as well use it!”

The two laughed together before Steven put his hands to her cheeks.

“Hey, you’ve got some dust on your face.”

“Aw jeez, really?”

Steven lightly dusted at her cheeks with his hand.

“There, all better!”

Spinel laughed, “Thanks! I guess I’ve been in there for a while!”

Steven looked around the kitchen, heightening his senses to check if Connie was there. He could tell she was in the room, but couldn’t hear her.

“Steven, what about Lucas and Monaca?”

“I found them, but not Connie. Do you wanna help?”

“But I know where she is!” Spinel said, striking a dramatic pose, “I can’t help you!”

Spinel giggled and skipped out of the kitchen, joining the two kids wrestling in the TV room.


Connie couldn’t believe what she had seen. She had only seen that kind of intimacy in romance movies.

No.

No no no.

That might not mean anything.

Steven is a caring guy, of course he’d want to help someone like that. He’s too oblivious and caring for his own good.

Connie stepped out of the cabinet under the sink and made her way to the TV room, seeing Spinel and Steven on the couch with the twins wrestling on the ground.

“Play nice, you two!” Steven said with a nervous smile. He didn’t want them to break something.

The boy turned to the entrance of the room, seeing Connie standing there. “Oh, Connie! Where were you?”

“Oh, sorry, guess I picked too good a spot, huh?” Connie scratched the back of her head with an embarrassed smile.

“Heh, you sure did.”

Connie didn’t particularly like how close Steven and Spinel were sitting together. She had to find a good excuse to get them apart.

“Oh! It’s dinner time. Mrs. Harrington said we could cook in her kitchen, and the menu’s on the fridge.”

Steven looked out the window. It was already getting late.

“Oh! Right! C’mon, you two.” Steven took Spinel’s hand while watching the twins stand up and run to the kitchen.

Spinel turned to Steven with excitement. “Steven! Can I help cook this time?”

Steven raised an eyebrow, but his grin didn’t falter. “You sure? Last time you tried to cook you ended up setting the fridge on fire.”

Spinel pumped her fist excitedly. “No, I’ve practiced! I’ll make ya proud!”

Steven calmly grinned as he pat Spinel on the head. “Alright, alright. But I’m helping you, okay? Don’t wanna burn the place down or somehow get carrot slices lodged in the floorboards again.”

The two chuckled at that and left for the kitchen. Connie just barely held it together.


The kitchen was a bit of a combination between a kitchen and a dining room. The sink, fridge, counter, stove, and oven with cabinets on the front sides of the counter lined one of the walls with a large window on it framed with fuschia-colored curtains, with a circular table in the center of the room.

The kids sat eagerly at the table while Steven and Spinel looked over the menu. Connie went upstairs to grab the infant.

“Mac and cheese is on the plan,” Steven said. Spinel felt a bit embarrassed for not being able to read much English, since she got there first.

“Whatsa Mac and cheese?” Spinel said, scratching her chin and staring at the brightly colored words.

“It’s like little noodles, and you put cheese in it and mix it around and it becomes cheese and noodles!” Steven said, excited to teach Spinel about something new. It didn’t happen much anymore, because she was familiar with most things in Beach City since she’d started visiting regularly.

“First we get the pot and fill it with water,” Steven said, following the instructions as he listed them, “Then you get a box of Mac and cheese, and put in the noodles. Not the bag too, last time I did that I just had Mac.”

“And then they boil! You wanna turn the knob?” Steven looked at Spinel, who was standing behind him awkwardly, watching the preparation.

“Do I? But where?” Spinel squinted at the stovetop.

“Right here,” Steven said, gently grabbing the back of her hand and guiding it to a knob below the stovetop. “And then you just turn it about.. 90 degrees counterclockwise. That’s the five.”

“And then what?” Spinel looked at Steven, who was leaning over her shoulder looking at the metal pot.

“You just wait, I guess. And stir it sometimes,” Steven grabbed a utensil from the nearest drawer. A large spoon. “when it starts to bubble you know when to start a timer for..”

Steven looked for the box. It was on a nearby counter. He grabbed it and reread the instructions. “Five minutes and thirty seconds.”

Spinel took the spoon from Steven’s hand and began stirring. She knew to be careful, as the last time she had stirred some stew at Steven’s place, she had gotten carried away and stirred far too fast, splashing stew everywhere. She tried not to chuckle at the memory of Pearl’s expression after seeing the stew-covered walls and floor.

“While you stir that, I’ll prepare a veggie platter. The note says that she’s trying to get her kids to eat more veggies, so they get to have mac and cheese if they eat their veggies.” He had whispered to keep the veggie platter a secret from the twins.

Spinel nodded, letting Steven stand next to her at the counter with a cutting board, cutting carrots into slices.

The fuschia gem was rather focused on her stirring, but sometimes her attention would drift away, if only for a moment, towards Steven again. His cooking was so precise. The way he prepared the veggies actually made Spinel want to try some.

Is this what hunger felt like?

She shook it off and kept stirring. She didn’t want to disappoint Steven.

Connie returned with the baby, putting him in his high chair. She found it almost impossible to look at Steven and Spinel as they cooked, but she knew if she didn’t make a move soon, she might lose her crush.

“Steven, do you want any help with that?”

“Huh? Nah, I’m alright. Can you just check if there’s ice cream in the freezer? They’re gonna want dessert after dinner.”

“Oh… sure…” Connie walked over to the fridge. There was a tiny freezer door at the top. She opened it and looked for ice cream, trying to busy herself from her increasing heartache.

“Spinel, you can just let it boil now. I’m done with the platter, so I’ll handle it.” Steven walked over to Spinel, putting a hand on her shoulder. She nodded and let him handle the spoon.

Spinel found cooking pretty fun, and without any stirring to busy herself with, she tried not to make the space between her and Steven awkward.

Then it hit her. She remembered a recipe she saw on TV once when Steven was on a call with the Diamonds late at night. She didn’t want Steven to have the exact same meal as the kids. She wanted him to have something special made from her own two hands. It just felt right.

She walked to the fridge and grabbed an onion, some square slices of mozzarella cheese, eggs, and milk. The cupboards had all the other ingredients she needed; some vegetable oil, a container of breadcrumbs, flour, salt, pepper, oregano, paprika, and garlic powder.

The fuschia gem felt she had a pretty good memory. She was made with one to remember all the different kinds of games that her Diamond loved to play. But she had used her memory once for games to remember a cooking recipe.

She started cutting the onion into slices and the cheese into strips, stuffing the raw onion slices with cheese strips.

“What’re you making, Spinel?” Steven asked with curiosity.

“Just you wait.” Spinel smirked. Even Connie was intrigued.

She put the cheese-stuffed raw rings in the freezer and set to work on the egg wash. She combined an egg (she got a little particular about making sure no shell pieces got into the bowl), a splash of milk, and a few shakes of the spices, then took a whisk and stirred it together. She was able to stir this a bit faster than the mac and cheese in the pot.

She suddenly felt a pair of hands wrap some cloth around her body.

“You should probably wear an apron if you might get messy.” Steven chuckled. Connie squeezed her hand into a fist so hard one of her knuckles made a cracking sound.

Spinel smiled at the cloth Steven tied around her. It was a baby pink color, which complemented her form’s colors.

“Thanks, Steven.” she giggled before returning to her work.

She set up two more bowls and in each poured in flour and breadcrumbs (she mostly eyeballed it, but remembered how the measurements looked on the show vividly) and a pinch of salt into the flour.

“Steven, how long have the onions been in the fridge?” Spinel asked as she whisked the dry ingredients together.

“They should be pretty frozen. Why?”

“Frozen ‘nuff for fryin’?”

It clicked in Steven’s head what she was making. “O-Oh! Yeah!”

Spinel flashed a smile at him as he took out the tray of frozen onion rings.

“Mind if I help you?”

“Sure! I don’t wanna burn the whole kitchen down again, y’know!” She laughed. Steven laughed with her before handing the wooden spoon to Connie. “Hey Connie, can you keep an eye on the mac and cheese?”

Connie felt a little down hearing that. “Uhh… sure.” She took the spoon from Steven and stirred the mac and cheese, turning down the heat as it was starting to get too hot. She watched the two cook out of the corner of her eye.

“How about ya cover the rings in the flour first?” Steven followed her directions, taking a ring and coating it with flour. Once he handed it off to Spinel, she used a fork to toss and move around the ring in the egg wash, then finally coating it with the salted breadcrumbs.

“Steven, ya mind real quick eyeballin’ a cup o’ oil in a pot and settin’ the stove to medium?” Steven’s eyes widened at how clearly she remembered the steps. “R-Right!” he said, following her directions while she coated the rest of the rings in the various bowls.

Once all the rings were coated, they were dropped into the oil, making satisfying hissing and bubbling sounds. When they looked fried enough, they took a pair of metal tongs and put them on a plate, which Spinel had set aside for Steven.

“Wow, Spinel, these look delicious! And you didn’t burn anything down!” Steven wrapped an arm over Spinel’s shoulder. This sent a pleasant warmth into Spinel’s gem, a warmth she found enjoyable.

“Alright, you guys, dinner’s ready!” Steven cheerily exclaimed to the twins’ excitement.


“Alright, you guys, before you get the good stuff, you have to eat the veggies first,” Steven said, bringing the veggie platter to the table.

“Should we put the good stuff in the microwave so it doesn’t get cold, then?” Spinel asked.

“Oh, right.”

“I’ll do it!” Spinel rushed away to the kitchen. She was probably more than happy to see her successful creation one more time before it was devoured.

Connie looked at the kids and smiled, “Okay, we can play a game with the veggies.”

“Mommy says you’re not s’posed to play with your food,” Monaca said, looking at the platter curiously.
“Well, this game is a good game! The rules are that you have to take one veggie, and whoever puts it in their mouth first wins!”

“Wow!” the two toddlers exclaimed in unison.

“When can we start?” Lucas asked, bouncing in his seat.

“In 3..2...1…” Connie counted down, “Go!”

Lucas got it in first, and Monaca wanted to play again, “Can we play it again?”

“Okay, we can do it until all of them are gone.” Connie said. Steven smiled. She had a way with kids, he realized.

The baby started slapping the table with his palms, getting a bit fussy.

“Oh, right. James.” Connie chuckled nervously.

“Don’t worry, I gotcha!” Spinel walked over to the baby, carrying a container of veggie mush that was left in the fridge. She scooped it up in a tiny plastic spoon and held it to the baby’s mouth. He whined and tried to push it away.

Spinel thought for a moment before remembering what Steven had done the previous times he had fed the baby. She stretched her arm up high.

“Whoosh! The airplane’s up hewe!” Spinel used her baby-talk voice, once used for demeaning her opponents, but now used for a tiny child’s enjoyment. The infant giggled at her flexibility.

She stretched it below the chair now. “Whooop! Down hewe now!” She stretched her arm up, down, back, and forth, getting laughs out of the baby from her movements and noises. “Whooosh! The airplane gowes up and downn! Uuup! Downnn! Whoooshhhh!! Aaand…” she stuck it in the baby’s mouth, who ate it with delight.

“Wow, Spinel, that was great!” Steven got up to hug Spinel. “Mind if I give you a hand?”

Spinel giggled. “Heh, I can’t say no to that face.”

Steven crouched a little to see the baby properly. Spinel stretched her arm back. “Here comes the choo-choo train, James! Vroom vroom!” Steven said, unable to do as good a baby-talk voice as the fuschia gem next to him. “Yeah! Hewe’s the twain! Vroommm!” Spinel mimicked Steven’s sounds. They continued doing this, and laughed excitedly whenever they’d get James to eat.

Connie clenched her hands together, staring hard at the two until she felt Lucas tug on her sweater.

“Hey! Do the countdown again!” Connie sighed with a sad smile. “Sure, Lucas. 3… 2… 1…”


The kids were excitedly eating their mac and cheese, now that they had finished their vegetables. Steven, on the other hand, was trying the onion rings he and Spinel made.

“Mmmm! Spinel, these are delicious!”

Spinel’s smile looked a mile wide. “Why thank you, Steven! Made ‘em just fo’ you!”

“That’s so nice of you! Thanks!”

Connie looked pained. She tried not to let Steven see her discomfort.

After a while, Steven checked the time on his phone.

“Oh! Hey Lucas! Monaca! Bath time!”

The kids jumped out of their seats. “No! No bath!” they giggled, running for the door.

Steven smirked. “Oh no you don’t, if we catch you, you take a bath!” He turned to Spinel. “C’mon, Spinel! It’s another game!”

Spinel looked a little excited at the prospect of a game. “I can catch those little tykes easy!” she spiraled her arm to demonstrate before they ran for the door.

“C’mon, Connie!”

Connie looked away. “Uhh… I’ll just get the bathwater ready and put James in his crib. I know where the bath toys are.”

Steven nodded. “Okay! Give us a minute!” he said before running off with Spinel.

Connie smiled at him, but frowned and sighed once he was out of the room.

Was she losing him?

She walked towards the stairs, cradling the baby in her arms, and took one more glance at the two chasing the twins around before walking upstairs.


“Get over here, ya lil’ tykes!” Spinel said with a smirk as she chased around Lucas. He was a quick one, jumping over the couch and being fast enough to make Spinel work up a sweat.

“No way!” Lucas rounded a corner suddenly and Spinel smashed into a wall. Luckily she hit it with her face instead of her gem, so there was only a soft thud.

Spinel fell back and pretended to play dead, closing her eyes like she had been in movies.

“Hey, where Spinel?” Monaca said, peeking around the corner where she last saw her. Lucas looked as well and ran over to the Gem.

With the two toddlers leaning over her, Spinel shot up and wrapped her arms around the two, lifting them into the air. They giggled and laughed.

She got up and kept holding them as she walked over to where Steven was, standing in the hallway.

“Told ya,” she said as she passed him and walked to the stairs. The two waited for Connie to call them up.

“Ok, it’s ready!” Connie said, looking down the stairs at Spinel and Steven with the two kids. “Mrs. Harrington moved the toys, but I found them eventually.”

“Thanks, Connie!” Steven said, walking up the stairs and gesturing for Spinel to follow. “you should eat, though. Did you? I mean, you do need food so maybe..”

Connie shrugged, “Ehh, that can wait. I’m sure my mom will probably have something when I get home.”

Connie’s phone rang, and she reached into her pocket and looked at it.

“Oh, speak of the devil, it’s my mom. I should take this.”

Connie walked down the stairs and told Steven to just bathe the kids without her. He obliged and found the bathroom down the hall.

“Alright, are you guys ready?” Steven said, looking at the water.

“It’s no fair! She tricked us,” Monaca said. Lucas giggled, knowing he had caused it.

“Well, ya didn’t say I couldn’t trick you, didja?” Spinel put the two toddlers on the floor. Monaca gave her a glare and Lucas ran to the bathtub, but was stopped by Steven.

“Forgot about the clothes.”


“Hey, Lucas, no splashing your sister.” Steven said as he tried to lather shampoo in Lucas’ hair. He and Spinel were sitting on their knees outside of the bathtub, while the twins were sitting

However, that was replied with a splash of bathwater to Steven’s face, causing the toddlers to laugh.

Steven smirked, taking off his organic letterman jacket. “Oh, so that’s how we’re gonna play it? You better watch out!” He chuckled as he splashed Lucas back.

“Water fiiight!” Lucas shouted as he and Steven splashed each other. Spinel rolled her eyes and looked at Monaca, who was holding a mermaid bath toy with a moving tail.

“Boys, amiright?” Spinel chuckled. Monaca looked at her for a moment, as if lost in thought, before splashing her too.

The water dripped from Spinel’s ponytails, but she only looked at the girl with wide eyes for just a moment before a devious grin appeared on her face.

“Oh no ya don’t! Auntie’s gonna getcha!” Spinel giggled as she relentlessly splashed Monaca. The little girl giggled as well, Spinel’s laughter being almost contagious.

Steven turned to Spinel with a big grin on his face. She was just so cute with kids.

Wait… cute?

The sudden realization of what he just said about the fuchsia gem made his cheeks go pink. He really just called her cute?

Steven continued to bathe Lucas while he watched Spinel and Monaca playing together.

“Spinel, you’re gonna have to wash her hair sometime.” Spinel stopped splashing Monaca and turned to Steven. “Oh! Right!” She remembered how she saw Steven applying the shampoo into Lucas’ hair and copied, squirting some onto her palm, rubbing her hands together, and lathering them in Monaca’s hair. It was quickly covered in strawberry-smelling bubbles, as her hair was rather short. After a while, she splashed some water on her hair to rinse it all out.

“You’ve been studying those babysitting books, huh?”

“Yep! Read over ‘em almost a hundred times!”

“Speed reader much?”

“I’m fast in more than just runnin’ around, Steven.”

They laughed together as they talked.

Meanwhile, they didn’t notice a certain someone peeking out from the creaked-open bathroom door.


Connie sighed. She didn’t know how much more her heart could take.

But wasn’t there just some doubt at all?

Of course there was. That might not mean anything.

Still…

“Hey Mom…” she whispered.

“Can you pick me up soon? Okay, thank you…”


“Ok, you two. Time for-”

Steven was quickly greeted by a pillow being thrown in his face.

“Bed?”

Spinel stifled a laugh when she saw Steven’s stunned face. He quickly shook it off, though and grabbed the pillow to throw it back.

“Steven, wait-” Spinel reached out to stop him before he could throw the pillow. Knowing his control of his powers relied on his emotions, he could seriously hurt someone. He also knew this and threw the pillow softly, which didn’t make much of a difference since it was the same speed it had been thrown at him.

It hit the two toddlers on the edge of the bed with relatively mild strength, and it bounced off of them onto the floor instead of sending them 3 or so feet.

They sent it back and Spinel stretched her arm to grab it before it hit Steven. Monaca grabbed another pillow off the bed before Spinel could throw back. One team launched, but the other had decided on having a civil war. Spinel turned to Steven with the pillow in her hands and hit it on Steven’s head.

“That’s how you wanna play-huh!” Steven was startled when another pillow hit his side.

“Team up!” Lucas yelled, charging for Steven. The two kids started hitting him with pillows, but they mostly grazed his legs.

Steven looked at Spinel. She smirked, and lifted the pillow over his head. Steven was knocked to the floor and pretended to play dead, but his laughing alerted the kids he wasn’t dying, so they kept hitting him.

Spinel stretched her arms until they touched the ceiling, getting ready to drop the pillow on him. The momentum would be enough to make it seem like a hit, and when she dropped it, Steven flinched.

“Oh no-” Steven could only stare as the pillow dropped and hit him square on his face. The two toddlers jumped up again and began hitting Steven with all they had.

Which was a lot, and continued for several minutes until Steven had enough control to put them to bed.

“Okay! We’ve got to go to bed,” Steven said, picking up the two kids. He deposited Lucas on the bed in the corner, which seemed newly set up.

“Well, goodnight, you two.” Steven turned to leave after giving Lucas a pat on the head.

Spinel pat Monaca on the head as well before turning to leave as well…

… but felt a tiny hand try to grip her finger.

“Hey. Mommy always sings us a lullaby.” Monaca said, shattering the silence of the room.

Lucas turned to Steven. “Yeah! Sing us a lullaby!”

Steven looked at Lucas and smiled. “Heh, well, alright.”

He turned to Spinel. “Do you wanna try? You’re pretty good at singing.”

Spinel blushed and scratched the back of her head. “M-Me? Ya sure?”

“Definitely.”

“Well… if you insist.”

Spinel took a deep breath and sat on the edge of Monaca’s bed.

“Here in the garden
Let’s play a game
I’ll show you how it’s done.”

Steven’s brows furrowed slightly, his smile slowly fading.

This was…

“Here in the garden
Stand very still
‘This’ll be so much fun!’”

Spinel’s lip trembled, the smile on her face difficult to keep up.

As she was sitting on Monaca’s bed, the little girl noticed the slight vibration of her trembling quicker.

“And then she smiled
‘That’s what I’m after’
The smile in her eyes
The sound of her laughter.”

Tiny tears welled up in Spinel’s eyes.

“Happy to listen.
Happy to play.
Happily watching her driiiiiift away…”

She felt a hand on her shoulder.

“Someday, somewhere, somehow
You’ll love again
You just need to find someone.”

Steven began to sing now.

Spinel stood up just a bit to be at Steven’s level. Her smile slowly returned.

“Someday.”

“Somewhere.”

“Somehow.”

They both sang together.

“You’ll love again.” “I’ll love again.”

“We just need to find…”

Their hands intertwined.

“Someoooooneeee…”

They began harmonizing. They remembered this moment like it was yesterday.

But the feeling felt new.

Steven was still holding her hand this time.

“Someone
Who treats you/me better
Someone who wants you/me around.”

The kids relaxed and smiled at their two babysitters, who almost forgot they were in a room with two toddlers.

“Someday
Somewhere
Somehow
You're/I’m gonna feel found.”

Steven turned back to the kids, and he smiled. “Just follow my lead.”

Spinel nodded.

Steven adjusted the blanket over Lucas.

“Let’s go in the garden
You’ll find something waiting
Right there where you left it
Lying upside down.”

Spinel felt a little uneasy at the lyrics, but something made her smile.

When she heard Steven sing it, it felt like a comforting embrace. That he didn’t mind how broken and cracked she was. He didn’t care about her past. He cared about her present.

The words bubbled up to her mouth, as if her pure and uncut feelings were controlling her voice.

“When you finally find it
You’ll see how it’s faded
The underside is lighter
When you turn it around.”

They began to sing together. They tugged the blanket further over Monaca, keeping her nice and snug as they softly sang together.

“Everything stays
Right where you left it
Everything stays
But it still changes
Ever so slightly
Daily and nightly
In little ways
When everything stays.”

When the two looked around the room, the twins had finally slept soundly.

“Heh, you really know how to sing a good lullaby, Spinel.” Steven whispered. Spinel’s face was almost gleaming with a goofy smile. “Aw shucks, your singin’ voice is way better…”

They slowly stepped out of the room, only to hear whining from the other room.

“Oh, guess James is still awake.”

“I’ll handle it, Steven.”

The fuschia gem walked off to the baby’s room. Steven couldn’t help but silently follow. He peeked his head past the side of the door to watch.

Spinel looked over the baby in the crib and lifted him up. She had memorized how the book she had read told her to carry an infant with clarity, cradling him in her arms.

His noises stopped and was replaced with “Ma-ma. Ma-ma.”

“Heh, no, James, I ain’t ya Mama.” She spoke softly, so as to soothe him and not wake the toddlers.

“Ma-ma. Ma-ma.”

“Ya Mama ain’t here right now. It’s just Auntie.”

“Ma-ma.”

Spinel found it exhausting to argue with a baby that couldn’t even understand her. She instead gently rocked the infant in her arms, singing softly.

“Let’s go in the garden
You’ll find something waiting
Right there where you left it
Lying upside down…”

As Spinel softly continued to sing the lullaby to James, Steven felt a strange warmth in his heart. It looked so maternal. She’d be an amazing mother.

But…

Gems don’t reproduce like humans do. What pinched his heart was the realization if she managed to have a child of her own someday…

… she wouldn’t even be around to take care of it like this.

Maybe there could be another way. His dad and mom didn’t know another way back then. But now, here they were in the future.

Perhaps maybe it wasn’t right to think about that now. It was best to enjoy this moment.


“Oh, you put the kids to sleep? They’ve been so rowdy lately, it takes me about an hour just to get them to go to bed.” Mrs. Harrington smiled, her dimples showing.

Steven chuckled. “Heh, it was nothing. Spinel and I sang them a lullaby.”

“Woah, you two must be really good, cuz even I can’t get them to sleep with just one.”

Connie watched them talk as she sat on the couch. She fiddled with her fingers and was lost in thought, looking away when she thought they might be looking at her.

She had seen everything. She had snuck upstairs to watch them sing a lullaby, and watched Steven as he was spying on Spinel. She knew it couldn’t be doubted anymore.

They were getting closer.

“Oh, hey Connie, c’mere, I gotta pay you and Steven off for the night.”

“Oh, right.” Connie stood up to take the cash from Mrs. Harrington. “Have a good night, you three.” The three stepped out the door as Mrs. Harrington closed it behind them.

As they split up to go home, Connie didn’t head home immediately.

She knew if she was going to have Steven, she’d have to do something soon.

Really soon.

She couldn’t let the closest person in her life be taken away.


Steven was relaxing in bed. The room was quiet and calming, with only the sounds of the waves from outside filling it audibly. A few crickets chirped here and there.

Tonight had been great. It was great to see the Harrington family, but it felt even better to spend that time with Spinel and Connie. Specifically, Spinel had been growing so much. She had learned to cook without destroying the kitchen by accident in the process. She lulled young children to sleep. She was so motherly that James had even mistook her for his actual mother on multiple occasions.

He felt so proud of her.

However, his thoughts were cut short by a buzz from his phone.

Picking it up, it was a message from Connie.

‘Steven. Meet me outside.’

‘I need to tell you something.’

Chapter Text

Steven pulled on the first clothes he saw and rushed down the stairs to the front door. He stepped out into the cold, night air and saw Connie.

“Steven, I have to talk to you about something,” the girl stepped closer to him, and he could see she’d been crying.

“What happened? Are you okay?” Steven circled around her to see if she’d been hurt, but the clothes she’d been wearing didn’t show any signs of injury.

“It’s fine,” Connie said, “It’s about Spinel.”

“What about Spinel?”

“Steven, I’d kinda.. like to hang out with you more,” the words sounded hoarse as she forced them out of her mouth. Connie finally made eye contact with the hybrid and they both froze.

“Oh, I guess we haven’t really properly hung out in a while. I can arrange a movie night sometime if you-”

“Steven, I didn’t mean like that. For a long time, I… I wanted to be with just you. You keep spending all this time with Spinel, and I’m… worried…”

“Why? Spinel isn’t trying to kill me like that one time. Besides, if you wanted to hang out with us, you could just ask.”

“Steven, I mean just you.” Steven started getting the bigger picture, as if a switch flipped in his head.

“O-Oh, I, uh-” Steven started to lose his composure. Connie? With him? But they were just friends, weren’t they?

“Steven, I just don’t think Spinel is good for you. I mean, she’s toxic! She always hangs around you and it’s rare to see you two not together anymore.”

Toxic? Sure, Spinel was a bit toxic with her clinginess and constant dependency, but she was changing, bit by bit, ever so slightly. People didn’t change overnight, he knew that all too well. She was learning to better herself, so why would Connie say that?

“Connie, Spinel was alone for so long. The least I can do is give her company when I can.”

“Steven, it’s not like she’ll die if you aren’t glued to her hip for an hour.”

Connie’s tone started to change. It started to get slightly aggressive. Steven knew not to fight fire with fire like that, so he kept his speech and tone calm and collected.

“Connie, is there something you’re not telling me?”

“No! I just think Spinel isn’t a good fit for you. She might hurt you, she might hurt the kids!”

Hurting the kids.

Steven knew for a fact that couldn’t be true.

He was perceptive when it came to others’ emotions and the way they felt towards others. It was a sort of empathetic skill he’d learned.

He remembered vividly the scene of Spinel standing in the darkened room with James in her arms. The slow and careful way she cradled and rocked him, her softened tone of voice, the gentle swaying of her body. She loved those kids like they were her own family. It was like she’d found a new ‘best friend’ in all three of them.

Hurting them was out of the question.

“Connie, Spinel would never hurt them.”

“But she could! You’ve seen how she gets when she’s emotional, she could lash out and try to kill you again!”

The hybrid was starting to get fed up with this. Hearing Connie spout such hurtful things about another friend felt like acid was burning away his heart.

“Connie, that’s enough!”

Steven quickly covered his mouth after losing his composure. His expression was that of someone who just witnessed a murder.

“Connie, I… I think you should go.”

“But Steven, I-”

“Just go. We’ll talk later.”

Steven made his way back to the steps of his beach house. Connie, with tears in her eyes, started making her way home.

Little did either of them know that a fuschia-colored gem was watching the whole scene unfold from the screen door.

Seeing Steven start to make his way back, she ran to the couch and sat as casually as possible, waiting for Steven to enter the house.

Steven stopped at the screen door and looked into the house. Spinel was looking at the door, but she quickly adjusted her gaze to one of the crystals by the temple door. Steven opened the door and silently stepped into the house. He contemplated just leaving and going back upstairs, but he had to talk to Spinel.

The gem tensed up when Steven sat on the couch next to her. They stayed silent for a few moments.

“Hey, Steven,” Spinel said, looking back to the hybrid boy. She was keeping her tone as calm as possible. Steven just smiled back. “what’s up?”

“Oh, it’s nothing, Connie just called me about something,” Steven said, avoiding the topic. Spinel deflated slightly.

“That’s it? What was it about?”

“Uh.. her homework.”

“Uh-huh..” Spinel eyed Steven curiously, checking for anything that could prove he was lying to her. “What’s up with your leg?”

Steven stopped bouncing his leg and kept his hands planted firmly on his thighs. Spinel could probably tell he was lying, he thought. But he continued to avoid the topic, “It’s a thing I do sometimes.”

“I know it’s a thing you do sometimes, but only when you’re nervous,” Spinel said, “so do ya want to tell me or not?”

Steven felt his cheeks heat up. He looked away so Spinel couldn’t see it. She knew him too well. But that’s not a bad thing, exactly…

“Maybe,” the boy said, his words constrained, “it was.. about you.”

“Yeah?”

“Connie thinks I shouldn’t hang around with you anymore because you’re ‘dangerous’ or something, but you aren’t! She can’t tell you’ve changed!” Steven practically threw his head in his hands, trying to hide his anger.

“And you’ve helped me to do that, Steven,” Spinel moved a bit closer to the teen, hesitating on whether or not to touch him. She decided not to and set her hands in her lap.

“I’m happy I can help you, and hang around with you, but she.. I don’t get it.” Steven leaned back on the couch, his hands moved away from his face. He still looked angry, but it was more sadness than frustration. “What does she want? To hang out with me more? Probably. But it seems like.. she wants to keep me away from you.”

“Do you want to hang out more with her? I can go.. back to Homeworld for a while if you want,” Spinel choked out after a long period of silence. When Steven didn’t answer, the pink gem began to get up from the couch.

Steven rushed to grab her hand before she could even get her legs away, “No, no wait! I.. want to hang out more with you. After what Connie said, I just.. I don’t know if I can face her for a while.”

Steven’s phone dinged multiple times, and he pulled Spinel back to the couch and they both looked at the screen. It was the Harrington’s landline phone. Steven swiped to accept the call and put it to his ear.

“Wait, you are? Are you sure? I.. well, if you have to,” Steven looked at Spinel. A slight frown was evident on his face.

Steven set the phone down and stared at the back of it. He traced the stitches of his jeans, which was something he usually did when something was wrong.

“Steven, what was that?” Spinel asked, raising her hands a little in case she had to calm him down. She hadn’t needed to before, but the gem could never be sure of the half-human.

“The Harringtons,” Steven said, his voice was restrained in his throat, “they’re moving away. In a week.”

“‘Moving away’? What’s that?”

“They’re leaving Beach City to go live somewhere else. Mr. Harrington found a place closer to his work and they’ve decided to move there.” Steven said, and Spinel froze.

“No, they can’t just leave!” Spinel looked more desperate than Steven was during the call. “What will we do? What about the kids?”

“I’m not sure.. we’re just babysitters, Spinel,” Steven tried to force a laugh, but it only came in a few huffs. “it’s not like..”

“Monaca and Lucas are going to miss us so much, though! They can’t leave,” Spinel clenched her fists. “I.. I’ll miss James too.. and them..”

“It’ll be okay, I’m sure we can make arrangements, maybe Lion-”

“Lion isn’t going to want to take us there all the time, Steven..” the pink gem curled up her legs and wrapped her arms around them. She hid her face in between her knees.

The hybrid boy placed his hand on one of Spinel’s shoulder pads. “Hey. At least they’ll hopefully remember us, right? I mean, kids’ memories can be a bit weird…”

Suddenly, Spinel tightly wrapped her arms around Steven, her elastic limbs looping a few times around his waist as she pressed her face into his chest, loudly sobbing.

It made Steven’s heart want to break seeing Spinel so distraught. She looked like a mother who’d just lost her children.

A few small tears formed at the corners of his eyes as he gently returned the embrace.

“I’m gonna miss them too…”


The Harrington family had been particularly busy, with Mr. and Mrs. Harrington having less time to tend to their children. They had constantly texted Connie, but she hadn’t been picking up her phone. Steven and Spinel were coming more often as they prepared to move.

The twins had been relegated to air mattresses and blankets, with James’ crib yet to be moved. The two sitters tried their best to enjoy the time they had left with the kids, but that week had a rather solemn feeling hanging in the air.

Just two days before the family planned to leave Beach City, Lucas asked the two sitters a question as they were eating dinner together.

“Why’re you sad?”

Steven and Spinel didn’t have the heart to look him in the eye. Steven took a deep breath before responding.

“Well… you guys are moving… so it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll ever see you again.”

“WHAT?!” The two kids screamed, making James start to cry. Spinel was quick to run over and pull him out of his high chair, cradling him in her arms. It calmed him down quickly.

Monaca jumped out of her chair and gripped Steven by his jacket. “Nooo! Can’t you just come with us?!” Her eyes were starting to well up with tears.

Steven sighed and gently pat her head. “Sorry, but we live here. We can’t come with you.”

Lucas wrapped his arms tightly around Spinel’s leg. “I don’t wanna go!! No!! I don’t wannaaaa!!”

Seeing the two kids cry so much made Steven’s heart want to shatter.

“Believe me, we don’t want you two to leave either, but it’s your parents’ decision. We can’t change that.”

Spinel was trying to fight off the tears that were attempting to force themselves out of her eyes. Yet, she was starting to fail in that endeavor.

“... It’s gettin’ late. You two go upstairs an’ get changed, okay?” The twins sadly nodded and left the room, walking upstairs.

Spinel began to cry as she held James tightly in her arms. The idea of letting him out of them pained her.

All Steven felt he could do was place a hand on her shoulder as she quietly sobbed, trying not to let any tears fall on James’ innocent face.

“There you go. You two all tucked in?”

Steven pulled the covers over the twins’ air mattress. The family didn’t want to spend too much money buying multiple air mattresses that were only going to be used for a week, so the twins had to share one in their empty room, of which was only lit by the soft golden glow of a lamp.

“... Can you read us a story?”

“Huh? You want us to read ya somethin’?” Spinel asked, pointing to herself. The twins nodded.

Steven looked away at basically nothing, as if lost in thought. “Well… all your books are packed away… so I guess we’ll make something up.”

Steven sat down on the floor beside the twins, motioning for Spinel to do the same.

“Spinel, do you wanna start?”

“No, I’m just gonna watch for now.”

“Okay,” Steven turned to Lucas and Monaca, “once upon a time, there was a little princess who always wanted to go outside. The other princesses were always keeping her from going anywhere or doing anything that a normal princess would do, and they were always doing things better than her. One day, to prove she could do just as well, the little princess asked if she could do what they did too. She wanted to rule a kingdom.”

Spinel tensed a bit as she recognized the story, even if it was just the start.

“After begging and begging, they finally let her have her own kingdom to rule, to be a Queen. But they also wanted her to do terrible things to the land around the kingdom, to destroy nature and the animals around it,” Steven glanced at Spinel to check if she was okay and then went back to telling the story, “she didn’t want to. After seeing the beauty of the world, she wanted nothing more than to protect it. The little princess disguised herself in robes and started a rebellion against herself. No matter how much she told her fellow princesses, they told her to crush the rebellion. and continue to build.”

Steven looked at Spinel again. Their eyes met for a brief second, and she seemed to be interested in the story. Obviously she hadn’t been told the part of how Pink saved Earth yet, just the aftermath.

“She decided that the only way to stop herself, was to make herself disappear and live a new life. She wanted to blend in with the rest of the people, to live in their towns and talk with them. The little princess ended the war she had been waging with herself by going missing,” Steven heard Spinel gasp, “She lived among the people in the towns happily for a while, but one day an army came. All of the townspeople were taken away except for the little princesses closest friends. She lived with them in the abandoned settlement for years before people started to settle there as well.”

“Spinel, do you want to tell the rest?”

“There’s more?” Lucas yawned. Monaca yawned as well, and it also affected Steven.

Spinel chuckled at the antics, and agreed, “Sure thing. Well, the little princess found someone to love when the people started to settle in and they started to.. talk to each other more. And spend more time with each other… and one day she decided they should have a human baby. The little princess knew she could not survive, but she also..grr… wanted to leave everything behind because she.. she..”

Spinel clutched her ponytails, “She just wanted to leave everything to her offspring! And apparently she died, so he was the one to deal with all of it! And he had to fix all her problems, and when he learned he was the son of the missing princess, I guess he just had to reunite her family. And then.. I.. showed up..”

“Spinel, are you okay?” Steven moved closer to Spinel, wrapping his arm around her back. “You don’t have to keep telling the story. They went to sleep..”

Steven pointed to the two kids that were laying on the mattress, snoring softly. Spinel wiped tears she didn’t even know were there away. Her ponytails, which had lowered as she started to spiral out of control, went back to their perky, upright style.

“Oh! Yeah… sorry… got a lil’ carried away…” She sighed and scooted closer to Steven, leaning on his side. “I guess all the panic over them leavin’ just got to me and… I couldn’t help feelin’ sad ‘bout everything, ya know?”

Steven nodded and gently stroked her head, causing her to lean into his hand like a cat being pet. After a while, she stood up.

“I’m gonna go tuck James in. I usually wait ‘til we get these lil’ scamps to bed.” Spinel headed for the door. Steven followed her and peeked around the doorway. The faint light from the lamp lit up the dark hallway a little too, enough for Steven to clearly see Spinel holding James in her arms.

“Ma-ma. Ma-ma.”

“James, c’mon, I’ve told ya I ain’t ya mom.”

“Ma-ma.”

“Why do ya always say that? At least you’re gonna get to see ya mom again…”

Spinel’s voice cracked, a tear streaming down her face.

“I’ll miss ya, James…”

She looked at him in his small, glistening eyes. His skin was so soft and gentle to the touch. He slightly reached his arms up, as if to touch her face. Instead, he put a tiny hand to her gem.

“You be good for me, ya got that? Or Auntie’ll getcha!”

She tried to whisper her exclamations as she lightly tickled James’ stomach, causing the infant to giggle. She felt the corners of her mouth tug up into a wide smile, her tears unable to stop flowing.

Spinel began to hum a tune to the baby in her arms, the same lullaby she’d always sing him.

“Let’s go in the garden
You’ll find something waiting
Right there where you left it
Lying upside down…”

Steven tried to wipe his tears away as he watched the scene unfold. But he had a better idea than just standing there.

“When you finally find it
You’ll see how it’s faded
The underside is lighter
When you turn it around…”

Steven sang the next part of the verse, causing Spinel to sharply turn her head to the doorway. However, her smile quickly returned as they finished the lullaby together, placing James in his crib.

“Everything stays
Right where you left it
Everything stays
But it still changes
Ever so slightly
Daily and nightly
In little ways
When everything stays…”

James had fallen sound asleep. They sat by the twins until they heard the front door open. Quietly greeting Carrie and her husband downstairs, Steven took the cash and they left for home.


Steven listened as the rain battered the roof of the beach house. He could hear Spinel fiddling with something downstairs, seeing as she didn’t have to sleep.

Today, it wasn’t the rain that was keeping Steven awake. It was his thoughts about Spinel. How she’d leaned into him when they were sitting side by side as she calmed down, and how he didn’t want to let her go. He never wanted to see her cry again, but if she would, he wanted to be the one to wipe the tears away.

A bit of regret started to bubble up in Steven’s mind about how he told that story to the kids. He probably shouldn’t have, he had it in the back of his head that maybe he might be sad because of it. He shouldn’t have asked her to tell the rest of the story, but he did and it broke her.

He rubbed his eyes, trying to get the thoughts out of his head. He could see the early morning fog through the glass door in his room. Something fell downstairs, the alarm clock in his room made small sounds as the minute changed. And it continued to as the seconds went by.

Steven realized he was probably spiraling, since his hearing was immensely better than it was a few seconds before. But he couldn’t bring himself to get out of it. He heard a knock on the front door, even though it sounded more like the scratching of it. The boy begrudgingly threw the quilt away from his body and walked across the wood floor to the stairs.

Peeking over the edge of the wall, he saw something he thought he would never see. Lucas and Monaca were at the door, shivering and soaked from the heavy rain. Spinel rushed over first and threw open the door, inviting the kids inside. Steven descended the L-shaped stairs and looked at the two toddlers huddled around Spinel.

“What happened?”

“We don’t wanna go..” Lucas cried, holding on the Spinel’s leg tighter. The gem winced.

“Okay, but just tell us what happened,” Steven sat the human boy and girl in front of the furnace, on small pillows he pulled from the closet under the stairs.

“We ran away..”

Chapter Text

"You WHAT?!" Steven's voice cracked from his emotions reaching their peak.

The twins looked down, appearing guilty.

"Why?! How?!" Steven put his hands firmly on Lucas' shoulders, kneeling down to be more level with the child.

"We talked about it while we were getting dressed for bed…" Monaca spoke softly, still clinging tightly to Spinel.


"C'mon you two. I know it's early but we gotta go." Mrs. Harrington walked upstairs and poked her head into the bedroom to see her twin children trying to hide under the blanket.

"It's cold…" Monaca whined. Mrs. Harrington rolled her eyes and smiled, grabbing some blankets from the boxes in the corner of the room.

"Alright, I'll try to bundle you up and carry you. You need all the sleep you can get." She wrapped the two up each in one of the rather large-sized blankets with a pillow in each for the little ones' heads, Mr. Harrington coming upstairs to assist his pregnant wife.

As Mrs. Harrington gently placed her supposedly sleeping kids into the car seats, she was about to buckle them in when Mr. Harrington yelped after dropping something.

"Robert? I'll come over there."

"Carrie, no, you're pregnant, you need to sit down."

"I may be pregnant but I'm not useless. I'll get that. It's a small box anyway."

The kids opened their eyes and slid out of their blankets, taking the pillows and positioning them so it looked like they were still inside.

Once Lucas hopped out of the open car door, Monaca turned to her baby brother in the booster seat. She hugged him gently.

"Bye-bye, James. We're gonna stay with Uncle Steven and Auntie Spinel. We'll miss you."

Monaca jumped out of the car as well and followed her brother down the sidewalk, their parents' voices and the loud, thundering rain deafening their footsteps

They had been running for a while and had gotten completely soaked. They stood by The Big Donut as Monaca tried to twirl the water droplets off of her cream-colored dress.

Lucas was watching the activities inside the Big Donut when he spotted someone he had met before. Ronaldo Fryman, specifically, had been at one of the annual Beach-a-Paloozas only a few months ago during the summer. Lucas remembered that the blond curly-haired boy had walked out with a blackboard and had started talking about Bigfoot. He had enjoyed the drawings, but didn’t really understand the gibberish the boy was saying since it was so quick.

When Ronaldo stepped out carrying a bag, Lucas stepped in front of him and stopped the boy, “Wait! Where is.. Steven?”

“Steven Universe?” Ronaldo’s eyes twinkled in recognition of the name Steven. Lucas shook his head up and down violently.Ronaldo looked between the two children, confused, but submitted to telling them, “Steven’s probably at that house on the beach over there. Are you sure you’re...okay? Are you like, ghosts or something?”

Ronaldo lifted a hand to his face and stroked his chin. He had noticed the two children were pale and looked like they were freezing, but he had put it to them possibly being walking ghosts. It didn’t help that they were wearing light clothes, either.

“No,” Lucas said, grabbing Monaca’s hand and stepping off the concrete plot onto the sand.

The two barely 5-year olds walked down the coast to the first house they saw, the lights were dim but still there in the house.

“That?” Monaca asked, pointing at the house. Lucas nodded. They managed to get up the twenty or so stairs with their poor motor skills alright, and hopped onto the porch.

Then they knocked.


“I.. can’t believe you two would do this! We have to get back immediately, before they leave!” Steven groaned, rubbing his eyes. Spinel stretched an arm across the two kids to grab Steven’s shoulder and squeeze it reassuringly.

“We should probably go now, then,” the Gem said. Steven lifted his hands off his eyes and looked at Lucas and Monaca, huddled in a blanket between them. Then he looked at the heavy rain hitting the windows.

“Now? When it’s raining like that?” Steven pointed to the window.

“Don’t you have any of those ‘rain coats’?” Spinel leaned closer to Steven, and Monaca protested a bit to being squished closer to her brother.

“Well.. yes,” Steven groaned and walked over to the closet under the stairs, pulling out 3 raincoats. He turned to Spinel, “you want one too?”

Spinel shrugged.

Steven chuckled, and then called, “Lucas! Monaca, we’re heading back to your parents.”

Lucas burst from the blanket huddle, and yelled in protest, “No way! We wanna stay!”

“Well, you have to go! We don’t have beds for you. Or a place for you to sleep,” Steven eyed the couch for a second, then decided not to give in and let them stay, “you have to go. We’ll be there with you.”

“Ok,” Monaca rolled out of the blanket and walked over to Steven, who helped her get in a raincoat.

Lucas stayed where he was, arms crossed and in a firm stance. Monaca walked over and tugged on his shirt. He tried to pull away, but the girl’s grip stayed firm on his shirt.

“Monaca, let me go.”

“No, no, we need to go back. What if Mommy and Daddy leave us?” Monaca looked at her brother, and his eyes softened.

He huffed, “Ok.”

When the temperature-sensitive creatures were all suited up in raincoats, Steven led them out the door. Both Spinel and Steven took hold of one of the kids hands once they were down on the beach. It was difficult to navigate the tightly packed sand from the barrage of water, but they managed to make it onto the street the Harringtons lived on. It was only a minute and a half away from the boardwalk, after all.

The dim lights of the streets alerted Steven and Spinel that the Harrington kids parents were not there. The red car they usually parked in the driveway was gone, and a ‘FOR SALE’ sign stuck into the lot. When they got to the driveway, Steven ran up to the door and peered in through the blurry glass. The furniture was still there, though in very small quantity and it was only what had originally been there.

Steven turned to Spinel, who was coming up onto the front porch, two toddlers in tow, and sighed.

“They aren’t here.” Steven whispered.

“They left already?” Spinel said, trying to keep her voice low. It was hard for her, though, and Lucas noticed.

“They left!?” the boy said. Monaca’s eyes widened and she began to cry. Spinel turned around and stepped closer to the girl.

She bent down to her level, and gently took Monaca’s cheek in her hand, forcing her to look at her.

“Don’t worry,” Spinel said, “I’m sure they’ll realize you two aren’t there and come back soon. Very soon.”

Monaca continued crying, but she did advance to wrap her arms around Spinel’s torso the best she could. Spinel did the same, being able to fully embrace the frail human.

“I want them to.. come home,” was all the girl choked out, “and I want to stay.”

Spinel ruffled her hair, trying to calm her down, “And they will come home.”

Spinel stood up and turned to see Steven trying to open the front door. He stopped and blushed, “Well we’re not walking back home, are we?”

“No, we’re not, but you could have asked me to open the door,” Spinel laughed and stood beside Steven, who had moved to the door frame to see what Spinel was doing.

All three humans (and one half-gem) stared in awe as the flexible gem used her powers for what could be a serious crime in different circumstances. She shapeshifted her hand to be as flexible as mold and then pushed it into the keyhole. It clicked when she turned it. She pulled her hand back out. It was in the shape of the key that was normally issued for homeowners.

“That’s so cool!” Lucas exclaimed, running over to hug the Gem’s legs. Monaca did the same, rubbing her tears away and smiling.

“Yes, that is very cool,” Steven said, “but it should only be done this once because I think what we did is a crime.”

Spinel laughed and hopped into the house with Lucas and Monaca, “Sure thing, Steven!”

The three stepped into the darkened house and closed the door. Steven removed his jacket and held it by the shoulders, trying to shake off the excess water.

“Well, if your parents notice that you’re missing, then they’ll probably come back here.” Steven tried to say with a smile to the twins.

The twins smiled and hugged Steven’s legs tight. Spinel chuckled at the sight.

Steven looked around the darkened house, using his phone’s flashlight to light up the abode soaked in darkness.

“Well, the electricity and water is probably off, so we can’t wash all that rainwater off or heat up any food in the fridge.” Steven sighed, tying his drying jacket’s sleeves around his waist.

The twins whined. They hadn’t had a proper breakfast that morning since they had left so early.

Spinel looked at the twins with concern before widening her eyes in remembrance and putting her hand against her gem. The gemstone glowed a soft shade of pink as her hand phased through it, and stopped once she pulled out a few bags of chips and some bottles of water from it.

“Had these in here fo’ a while, and my gem keeps ‘em fresh.” The pink gem tore open one of the chip bags and handed it to the kids, then handing the other to Steven.

“Spinel, this is amazing! Thanks!” Seeing Steven’s excitement and perfect smile was all Spinel could ask for.

“No problem,” Spinel’s gem felt a little warmer now, and she clutched it with her hand subconsciously. She guided the kids over to the only piece of furniture in the room, a torn couch.

“When are they coming home?” Monaca asked between bites of chips. Lucas had already downed an entire bottle of water and was now starting on eating the chip bag just as fast. Steven sent him a look that made him start eating a bit slower.

“I’m not sure, but they’re bound to notice you’re gone eventually,” Steven turned back to the girl.

Tears started forming in her eyes again, and she clutched the bag in her hands until the chips were crumbs, “But I want them back now!”

“I know, but there’s no way to contact them..”

Monaca jumped off the couch and repeated her statement, “I want them back now!”

“They’re not coming back right now, I’m sorry. But they will,” Steven rounded the corner of the couch and advanced towards the girl, who stopped stomping her feet and moved backwards.

“I’m gonna find them!” she screamed, and sped off towards the front door. Steven looked at Spinel and Lucas, both of them tense as they watched the scene play out.

“She doesn’t know how to open doors, right..?” Steven asked, and Spinel let out a nervous laugh.

“I mean, when you told me how to open them, I had to tell someone..” Spinel blushed.

Steven wasted no time and ran into the front foyer to see the front door wide open. Some rain was making a puddle on the mat in front of the door. Spinel had already put Lucas down next to Steven when the hybrid had froze in the hallway.

“Oh, she’s gone,” Spinel remarked dejectedly, “I’ll go get her! I promise!”

Spinel rushed out the front door, almost stumbling over her steps. Steven looked down at the little boy that grabbed his hand. “I’m going with Spinel to go get your sister. Can you promise me you’ll stay here?”

Lucas sadly nodded before Steven let go of the little boy’s hand and ran after Spinel, hurriedly slipping on his jacket.


“MOMMY! DADDY! WHERE ARE YOU?!” Monaca’s tears blended with the raindrops on her tiny cheeks. Her tiny pigtails were drooping because of each strand being drenched with water, droplets flung all about as she ran.

Spinel caught small glimpses of her as the little girl kept turning corners around houses and buildings. She didn’t have good enough of a view on her to stretch out and grab her, so she just kept running.

The puddles of water kept collecting on the concrete sidewalk as the drops poured from the dark grey skies, thunder booming all around. Monaca, a child used to splashing in puddles of rain and mud regardless of the following consequences, paid this no mind.

At least, until she slipped on one.

A scorching pain flared from her knee. Cupping her knee with her hands to avoid touching the pained spot, she wailed loudly.

“MOMMYYYY!”

Spinel heard the cry loud and clear. She instinctively followed it and suddenly her chest felt as if it’d sink seeing the little girl cry. Stretching her legs to get to her faster, she turned to face Monaca.

“Monaca! Don’t ya go and run off like that! Ya scared me and Steven half to shatterin’!” But she quickly realized the girl was pressing her face into her thigh, her hands over her knee. “Are you… okay?”

Monaca looked up, shaking her head as she stopped wailing and instead whined, like a scared puppy. Spinel put her hands over Monaca’s, looking at the child with concern. “Can I… see?”


Connie wasn’t sure how long her umbrella was going to hold up. The rain was coming down so hard she was sure it would tear a hole in the object that protected her from it.

With her umbrella in one hand and a bag of groceries in another, Connie looked around the rainy street looking for the house number to direct her home. Not that one, no, nope-

“MOMMYYYY!”

Connie recognized that scream.

“Monaca?” She ran towards the source of the wailing, peeking from behind a building corner to see Monaca on the ground, crying her eyes out.

“Monaca!” Connie’s voice was deafened by the rain, so it didn’t reach Monaca’s ears. She was about to step forward and rush towards the injured little girl…

… until she saw Spinel rushing towards her.

Connie froze, unsure of what the pink gem was going to do to the child.

But her quickened heartbeat eased its pace when she saw Spinel kneel down in front of Monaca and put her hands over the little girl’s.

This hadn’t been what Connie expected. From what she remembered of Spinel, she was dangerous and unstable.

Maybe Steven had been right…


Monaca sniffled and removed her hands from her knee. Her soft skin had been damaged, and the bright red color indicated blood. Spinel gasped and put a hand to her mouth.

“Oh no, oh no no no…” Trying not to panic, Spinel refrained from tugging on her pigtails, which drooped from the rain soaking them and weighing them down.

Monaca saw Spinel’s distress and looked like she was about to start crying again. Spinel, noticing this, quickly embraced her. Since the girl was relatively small, she couldn’t stretch and loop her arms around her as many times as she could with Steven.

“Shh… it’s gonna be okay… Auntie’s here…” Spinel meant that for herself as much as she did for Monaca. She felt Monaca press her tiny, soft face into her shoulder, softly crying.

“I miss my mommy…” Monaca managed to say through her soft and squeaky cries.

“I know ya do… you’re gonna be okay…” She remembered all the times Steven told her things were going to be okay when she remembered Pink Diamond and the garden, so repeating these practices might help Monaca as much as it helped her.

“SPINEL!”

Steven ran over to Spinel, his poofy black hair completely soaked in water, though that effect didn’t show much besides the light shimmer from whenever a bolt of lightning struck.

“Spinel! Monaca! You’re okay! What happened?”

“Steven! There’s that red stuff that ya told me humans need to survive comin’ outta her leg!”

“WHAT?!” Steven hurried to Spinel’s side, kneeling down like her, and gasped upon seeing Monaca’s bleeding knee. “Oh my gosh, are you okay?! Does it hurt?!”

Monaca looked up at Steven, her eyes glinting with welled-up tears. “A little… Mommy always kisses it better… but… Mommy isn’t here…”

She looked like she was about to cry again. Steven placed a hand to her shoulder.

“It’s okay! I have healing powers, I can make it better! That okay?”

Monaca’s eyes widened before she vigorously nodded.

Spinel’s gem felt warm as she watched Steven kiss her injury like a parent to their child to heal her bleeding knee. Instantly, the cut and scrape healed.

“Woaahhh! Uncle Steven is so cool!” Monaca giggled. Steven smiled warmly and summoned his shield, using it as a makeshift umbrella.

“C’mon, we should get out of the rain. I’ll dry you both off.” Steven turned to Spinel and looked at her with that charming, wide smile of his. Spinel thought her gem would have melted right there from all the heat caused just by seeing Steven’s expression.

“Auntie Spinel! Auntie Spinel! Lift me! Lift me!” Monaca raised her arms up and stood right in front of Spinel, trying to hop into her arms.

“Huh? Me? Well, okay!” Spinel wrapped her stretchy, hose-like arms around Monaca a few times, keeping her close to her chest and letting her tiny head rest on her shoulder.

Steven chuckled a little at seeing Spinel’s hair all droopy and wet. “Heh, I haven’t seen you with your hair down like that in a while.”

“Huh?” Spinel tilted her head a little at this, but suddenly felt one of her wet pigtails lightly slap against her arm. “Oh. Heh, it happens.”

They made their way back to the Harrington’s old house, unbeknownst to them who was watching all of this unfold.


Connie was surprised, to say the least. Spinel hadn’t tried to harm Steven, and he looked… happy… with her.

Seeing Steven that happy… that was what made her the most happy too, right?

She still wasn’t sure if she was ready to lose him like that.

But she did know one thing.

She seemed to have been wrong about Spinel.

She wasn’t as violent as she had seemed to be. She hadn’t hurt Monaca or Steven at all. In fact, she was almost motherly in demeanor.

Maybe she shouldn’t have been so harsh. She remembered how upset she made Steven.

But she wasn’t sure if she could handle facing him yet.

Her bitterness began to fade, and was slowly instead replaced with guilt.

She smiled at the leaving couple before walking off, heading for her own home.


“It doesn’t look like they’re coming,” Steven said. It had been several hours, and the two kids roughhousing in front of them looked quite tired. Lucas seemed to be upset and Monaca had even less energy than before, so they were only sluggishly wrestling with each other. It was dark out again.

“Yeah, it really doesn’t. Should we go?” Spinel’s hair was still down, even after escaping the rain.

Steven opted to not say anything about her emotional state, since he could address that later when it wasn’t urgent, “Maybe. They seem tired too.”

Spinel stood up from the couch and walked over to the toddlers, who were now staring at the ceiling.

“Alright, you two, we’re gonna go to Uncle Steven’s.”

Lucas jumped up immediately, Monaca following shortly after.

“Really?” Lucas yelled, his excitement reaching its peak.

“Yeah, it doesn’t look like they’re coming back.. yet.” Steven said.

They were nearly bouncing off the walls while Steven and Spinel were gathering the raincoats and things they had left strewn around the house, trying to keep Monaca and Lucas from going crazy.


“Alright, you two, just sit down and I’ll make sandwiches,” Steven said, laying out various ingredients on the kitchen counter.

Spinel walked out of the bathroom with a towel, still drying her dampened hair. As she kept rubbing the towel against her pigtails, she glanced over Steven’s shoulder as he prepared sandwiches. Something about the way he cooked always captured her attention. It was mesmerizing.

The twins were bouncing on Steven’s couch excitedly, anticipating their dinner. Steven couldn’t remember the last time such childlike excitement had been in his house.

“Okay you two, dinner’s ready!”


The house was completely silent with the exception of chirping crickets and crashing waves outside. The kids laid on the couch bundled up in blankets, seemingly fast asleep. Spinel smiled at the sleeping children before walking up the stairs to find Steven sitting on the side of his bed. He appeared lost in thought until he snapped his head around to see the pink gem standing at the top of the stairs.

“Hey, Spinel,” was all Steven said.

“What’s up? Are you.. okay?” Spinel walked closer to the bed, not sitting but just leaning slightly over the edge.

“I was just.. thinking about the first time we babysat Lucas and Monaca, I guess,” Steven said. The cover of night hid the blush on his face, and Spinel didn’t notice.

“Oh yeah! Those kids were a riot!” Spinel said. She didn’t quite understand what a riot was, but she’d heard Amethyst use it a lot.

“Yeah.. um.. not about the kids, but.. do you remember when you, uhh, kissed me?” Steven asked, finally looking at Spinel.

He saw a splinter of recognition on her face before it disappeared into a calm, emotionless, response, “Yes.”

She didn’t understand what it meant, he thought. She didn’t understand the human custom of kissing, of course, because nobody told her. Steven internally slapped himself. Why didn’t he tell her what it meant? Was it because he was too embarrassed?

“Do you know what kissing means between humans?” Steven asked, wary of her response.

“Um, yeah, like… they do it.. sometimes?” Spinel shrugged.

Steven chuckled, “You’re close with the sometimes part. But.. it means a lot more to them. Me.”

“Then tell me what it means! Whaddya waiting for? A shooting star to tell you to do it?” Spinel sat down on the bed and nudged Steven’s side with her elbow.

“Ok, ok.. so, you know Garnet? That she fuses out of love?” Steven asked, wringing his fingers nervously.

“Duh.”

“Right, well.. kissing is like that, but you don’t have to come together to appreciate each other.”

Spinel leaned closer to Steven and squinted at him. Steven got ready to back up but was stopped by an arm around him, pulling him back.

“What do you mean?” Spinel asked. She was still leaning closer.

“Uhh.. Spinel, just hold on a second,” Steven put a hand on one of her shoulder pads to stop her and she stayed in that position as Steven was lost in thought.

His head snapped back up and he smiled, “I can just do it again! I’ll show you!”

“You’ll what?”

Steven cupped her cheeks and then kissed her. Spinel felt her gem get red-hot from the warm feeling that enveloped her body. Was Steven healing her? But her gem wasn’t cracked.

The kiss ended as fast as it had started. Steven looked beyond embarrassed, while Spinel just stared at him in surprise.

“Steven, I-”

“I care about you, Spinel. Kissing is… a sign of a special bond on Earth. People kiss when they love each other.”

Love?

Spinel knew she cared about Steven. But love? Wasn’t friendship a type of love? What more love could exist than that?

She didn’t know the answer, but she didn’t care.

“Then maybe I love ya.”

Spinel moved to sit on Steven’s lap, leaning in to kiss him again. They just sat there in the dim moonlight, only minding each other’s company. Eventually, they broke away, smiling at each other.

“Don’t Mommy and Daddy do that too?”

Steven and Spinel’s heads snapped to the entrance of Steven’s room. Lucas and Monaca, both wearing pajamas from Steven’s childhood that he had kept, were staring at them. They quickly dove behind the doorway, but it was too late. They’d been spotted.

“Aw, c’mere you two!” Spinel jumped off of Steven’s lap to chase the kids. The hybrid boy could hear giggling coming from downstairs. A quick peek showed Spinel holding the kids in her flexible arms, all three of them laughing.

Spinel looked up and smiled at Steven. He smiled back.