Spinel had tutted with mock disapproval as soon as she spotted Pearl's hoodie on the floor, laying in a crumpled heap by the bed.
She'd wasted no time in reaching out to the other side of their shared room and grabbing the offending, unorganized lump off the ground and into her own grasp. Pink Pearl is usually so tidy, Spinel thought as her arm retracted, bringing the oversized, pastel pink hoodie right to her. She was no stranger to mess, but it wasn't really like her friend to leave her things lying around.
Well- it's not really like her to own human clothing, either, but she's had this thing for at least as long as Spinel has known her. Although she evidently wasn't wearing it today, instead leaving the poor sad lump of cloth on their floor all by its lonesome.
Either way, it was no biggie. She didn't mind putting it away. She smiled, feeling warm at the thought of doing something nice for her friend. Well look at me, She mused. being all helpful.
Spinel glanced around the room- searching for some kind of hook on the pink stone walls to hang the hoodie from, some unfilled alcove it might usually belong to- but found nothing that fit the bill.
She huffed and instead inspected the sweater, screwing up her nose as she regarded the article almost suspiciously. Where does Pearl usually put this thing? Spinel brought it closer to her face, attempting to look it over once more-
and froze where she stood.
Her stomach fluttered.
It...it smelled familiar.
A scent that was almost perfumed, but not quite as overpowering as one was expect a perfume scent to be. It was muted and floral and sweet.
It smelled...like Pearl.
Hm. How about that.
Spinel swallowed. The article in her hands felt very...Precious, all of a sudden. It suddenly hit her what she was holding- something very well worn and adored by her friend, one of Pearl's few physical belongings. A lovely, cherishable thing. Something very sentimental, she was sure.
The realization made her feel strange, like the act of handling the sweater was something almost invasive or encroaching. Even more than that though, she felt the sudden want to keep it close.
Spinel...she'd never worn human clothing before. She just never saw a need- a gem could decide how they wanted to look at will, after all. Especially a gem with a stretchy and malleable form as Spinel's. Physical, removable articles weren't super useful when a change of getup on a gem's construction required only a flick of the hand, a quick flash of light. "clothes" would only take up space, get in the way. Like this hoodie was right now, actually.
But...Spinel would be lying if she said she wasn't feeling a little tempted.
It was a purely innocent curiosity in Earth culture. There was so much to consider, after all- would it feel different than wearing the "clothes" that were already fused with her form? Did it feel nice? Surely Pearl got something out of wearing the hoodie if she still owned it, if she wore it enough for the fabric to carry her scent-
Spinel gulped, heat rising in her cheeks.
She shook her head almost violently. Okay, okay! Maybe she just wanted to wear it for her own selfish, Pearl-centered reasons. It wasn't her sweater, sure...but Pearl wouldn't notice if she just tried it on, surely? She would just try it on quickly to satisfy her curiosity, and then take it off just as fast. She'd even fold it up all nice for Pearl when she was done.
If nobody saw, it would be as if it never happened. The act would just vanish into thin air, unremarked on and unmentioned- presto- all gone. A victimless crime. Excellent job, Spinel.
Having easily managed to convince herself, Spinel lifted the sweater high over her head with outstretched arms, dropping it so that it fell down onto her waiting form. She reached up and yanked on the front of the garment, pulling it down over her head and popping her face out of the hood.
She was...wearing the sweater now.
Spinel wasn't really sure what to do next.
She decided to try running her hand over her front, giving the material a feel. It just felt...soft, under her hands. Almost scratchy but not quite.
There were two little white strings coming out of two matching holes around her chest. She gave them an experimental tug, feeling the collar tighten and close in- although not uncomfortably- around her neck and shoulders. It wasn't choking, or anything, just...snug. It wasn't a bad feeling at all, either. It was unexpectedly comforting.
The way the sweater felt on her body was nothing like the sheer, thin material of her own outfit, either. It was heavy, and hung over her form. it would have fallen to the floor if the tightened collar didn't catch at her neck, the far-too-wide sleeves hanging off of her own thin, spindly arms.
It was...nice. Spinel felt strangely secure under the weight. It was warm, too.
She...She liked it. Spinel couldn't help a wide grin, her risk paying off wonderfully. No wonder Pearl wears this thing. It's not too bad!
She sat down on the bed, wrapping her new oversized sleeves around herself and enjoying the feeling. If she was being honest, Spinel often felt uncomfortable with physical touch. She could handle being struck or handled roughly in a fight, but when the touch was gentle, and came with kind intentions, It oftentimes made her shudder with a certain kind of revulsion she couldn't put her finger on. Like she just didn't want to accept it, couldn't accept it, even if it felt nice to recieve.
As if she just couldn't accept it in good conscience. Like she didn't deserve it.
But even still...Spinel craved touch despite her own apparent revulsion toward it in most circumstances, so self-soothing gestures like this were something she did often. It felt safer to show herself affection than to allow anyone else to.
The way she'd wrapped the sleeves tightly around her body right now, pulled the bottom of the sweater over her legs so as to cover her whole body sitting down very much felt like a warm hug. It was Pearl's sweater, and it carried her same scent...if Spinel closed her eyes, it was almost like she was getting a hug from Pearl herself. The thought of being held by her closest friend like that was a little overwhelming, but was also infinitely comforting- made her revulsion melt into something warm and soft, a lot happier to be embraced the way she really wanted to be.
It made her..emotional. made her feel so contented and safe and happy...
But...even that could be a little uncomfortable.
It could often be a problem for Spinel, spiraling into emotional extremes in her relationships. It was present in most of them to some extent- it was something she'd promised herself she'd work on before coming to Homeworld, and she was, but...she found with Pink Pearl the emotional highs felt, well. Different than they ever had before.
They were impossible to avoid. From the first day they'd met, just laying eyes on Pink Pearl had made Spinel feel something new. It was as if the moment their eyes met she'd been struck with warm lightning from the tips of her pigtails to the bottom of her shoes. She'd been drawn to Pearl immediately, far more drawn to her than any other gem she'd met in the palace...but hesitant to act on any of these intriguing new feelings. She'd become all too aware of her own tendency to cling, and, well, the idea of becoming closer to Pearl...It made her feel shy, almost embarrassed. She knew was nothing strange about wanting to make a new friend, and they'd even been roomed together in the palace so it made perfect sense to reach out, but...it had been so difficult for her to reach out, for some reason.
However, even despite her own initial misgivings, Spinel and Pink Pearl had connected quickly after figuring out how much they had in common. Their experiences with Pink Diamond weren't exactly the same, but there was a similarity, an intertwining of their two past lives that couldn't be ignored.
It hadn't always been smooth sailing, but Spinel had gained something very special- she had never said it out loud, and maybe she never would, but she did think of Pink Pearl as her very best friend. A real friend. Someone who wanted her around, even when she had bad days and wasn't particularly fun or entertaining to be with. They spent so much time together- exploring the palace, with the other pearls, performing tricks or pulling the world's most elaborate and beautifully coordinated pranks on any gem unfortunate enough to cross their path. Spinel's days were more alive with happiness than she'd ever dreamed of, spent with her new family and her very best friend- and she couldn't imagine her life without either.
Although...Even now, Spinel still felt a little bit insecure in their relationship. Maybe she always would- Spinel spent a lot of her time these days trying to understand her history of...what had Steven called them? Attachment issues? She knew that It boiled down into how she felt about other people, in the simplest of terms. How she percieved their relationships, how she acted within them. She knew she hadn't always had the healthiest of attachments, and Spinel was afraid of repeating those patterns. The idea of exposing Pink Pearl to the worst of her made Spinel nauseous to think about.
Her feelings about Pink Diamond...were still painful to think about for very long. Spinel wanted to hold onto her current good mood, so she decided to steer clear from that subject.
It had, though, been a negative relationship. One that hadn't worked out for her.
To put it, uh. Lightly.
But the way she'd attached to Steven- that was much more recent, far more vivid and easy to recall. It had been desperate, unstable. A need to be accepted by somebody, anybody. She'd taken his moment of kindness to mean that he had to be the one to love her in Pink's place. It was, though, unstable. Bound to explode in both of their faces. That she could easily see in hindsight.
Pearl was kinda like Steven in that way, Spinel supposed as she wrapped the sweater sleeves around herself, sinking into the warmth. Pearl was kind and supportive too.
But...the idea of snuggling into Steven's jacket, even when she'd been at her most attached to him, was almost comically strange and unappealing. No, Pink Pearl was different. It was a different kind of attachment that Spinel had with her. She didn't have a name for it, she didn't know if it was supposed to be avoided or embraced- but Pink Pearl was always so kind, so accepting of everything Spinel came with. Truthfully, she was a wonderful friend. She made Spinel feel strong when she never thought she could. Surely it couldn't be a bad thing, to adore Pearl the way she did when she was such a genuinely kind gem, so easy to like? Even if it felt different than loving Pink or clinging to Steven- although, perhaps it was a good thing that it felt different. That it felt better.
Was...was this what having a best friend was supposed to feel like? Was it supposed to be feather-light and dizzying and as if she was floating on air every time Pearl smiled her way? Had she just missed it this whole time?
Spinel brought the sleeves of Pearl's sweater to her face, nuzzling into the soft, sweet-scented fabric. She couldn't help a contented sigh as she cuddled closer into the sweater, a blissful smile spreading across her face. The sweater was soft, and warm, and it smelled like flowers and kindness and laughing at silly jokes until her stomach hurt. It made her think of the gem that- truthfully- she'd come to adore more than anyone...
Spinel froze, snapping out of her daydream in an instant.
Her gaze snapped to where Pink Pearl stood in the doorway- staring, wide-eyed, at the sight of Spinel on the bed, huddled into her sweater.
Spinel's blood ran ice cold with panic.
"Hey, Peeps." She blurted out, kicking herself as soon as she spoke. "What's...up?"
Pink Pearl smiled awkwardly in return. "H-hello, Spinel. I...I was going to ask if you'd seen my sweater." She gave something between a cough and an uncomfortable laugh, looking away. "I guess you did."
Spinel didn't know what to say. "Yeah." She said flatly. "I did."
A long, uncomfortable moment passed, neither speaking a word. Only staring.
Until Pink Pearl began to laugh.
Spinel couldn't believe her ears.
"What?" She demanded, leaning forward. Spinel felt tears beginning to sting the corner of her eyes. Why was Pearl laughing at her? "What is it? What's so funny?"
"Nothing! It's just a little." Pink Pearl brought her hand to cover her mouth, stifling a giggle. "Big on you, don't you think?"
"Well!" Spinel burst- she knew she looked more than a little ridiculous, her arms still hidden inside the sweater and its sleeves hanging limply at the sides. "If it's big on me, it must be big on you too! You're no bigger than me, Peeps!"
"I know," Pearl laughed, "But it just looks so silly." She paused, looking Spinel up and down. Her gaze was gentle, smiling so wide her eyes crinkled at the corners. "It doesn't look bad on you, though." She admitted.
Spinel's eyes widened. "It's-what? You're kidding."
"I'm not kidding...It does suit you, but I," Pink Pearl rubbed her arm, looking bashful. "I...I'd still like to wear my sweater."
The sweater. Right. She wanted it. And you shouldn't be wearing it.
"Right." Spinel hurried to grab the hem of the hoodie. "Yeah, 'course," She breathed, kicking as she tried to wiggle out of the article as quickly as possible. "Just lemme-"
"Wait." Pearl breathed- Spinel freezing in her efforts to kick off the sweater as a small hand was placed on her arm. She snapped her gaze to Pink Pearl's face, the other gem's expression...Worried?
"Don't take it off yet." Pearl said quietly. She looked almost...nervous, darker pink dusted along her cheeks and the bridge of her nose-
Spinel blinked. Was Pearl...blushing? Why was she blushing? She hadn't done anything blush-worthy! Spinel was the one who'd been caught red handed wearing a sweater that didn't belong to her, doing, um- she wasn't entirely sure what she'd been doing, but she certainly felt as if she'd been caught doing something. What was Pearl so nervous about?
"I have an idea." Pearl murmured, squeezing Spinel's arm. She bit her lip, eyes brimming with anxiety. "Can I try it? I...I think it's a good one."
Spinel only nodded numbly. "O-okay. Yeah. Sure."
Pearl nodded and started to move closer- before Spinel could say anything else, she'd sat down beside her on the bed and grabbed the hem of her hoodie, leaning down and pushing her head underneath.
"P-Peeps," Spinel stuttered, "What are you-?"
"You have to stay still." Pearl's voice was muffled from underneath the sweater. "Don't move, please."
Don't move? How was she supposed to stay still when Pearl was squirming around inside the sweater she was currently wearing? Nevertheless, Spinel held herself perfectly still until Pearl made her way up the sweater, filling up the space in the oversized hoodie until her head popped out of the same hole as Spinel's.
"There." Pearl faced Spinel's burning face with a crooked, nervous smile. "Now, we can...um. Both wear it. Problem solved?"
Spinel's face was burning. "Y-yeah." She squeaked. "P-problem solved."
Pearl didn't look very assured. "You don't..." She fidgeted under the sweater, playing with her fingers anxiously. "Mind, do you?"
"No!" Spinel said quickly. "No, no, I...I don't mind, haha." She moved her hand underneath the hoodie, grabbing Pearl's hand on impulse. "It's fine. I don't mind. Don't go, please." She added, kicking herself a little for how desperate it sounded.
Pink Pearl looked down at their hands, surprised- and then back at Spinel, her eyes immediately softening. It made Spinel's heart flutter.
Before she could untie her tongue and say something, Pink Pearl shifted and laid her head on Spinel's shoulder, resting her chin in the dip between her shoulder and her neck. "Is this okay?"
Spinel swallowed hard, melting as she felt the buzz of Pearl's voice against her skin. What was Pearl doing to her? "Yeah." She breathed, unable to stop herself from squeezing Pearl's hand. "It's okay."
"Are you sure? I know you don't always like being touched..."
"I don't mind." Spinel whispered. Her heart felt as if it were being squeezed. Not if it's you, went unspoken. Not if I feel as safe as you make me feel. "It's...it's nice."
Pearl was quiet for a moment, before she looked up at Spinel and gave her friend a wide, genuine smile, her eyes crinkled in the cutest way. Spinel thought it was one of the loveliest things she'd ever seen. "It is nice." She agreed quietly.
Spinel was still nervous- but she couldn't help but to return the smile just as widely.
She knew she still had a lot of work to do. She wasn't perfect. She still had her bad days, days when she didn't handle her feelings well. Friendship was still difficult sometimes. Maybe it always would be.
But she knew Pearl would be there for her no matter what. She had a friend who really liked her, really liked to be close to her. Didn't find her annoying or clinging or too much. A friend she adored just as much as her friend adored her. Just to think about it made her chest bubble with happiness she never thought she'd feel.
For the first time in so long, there were days where Spinel really believed that she was loved.
Pink Pearl really was her very best friend, Spinel mused as she wrapped her arm underneath the sweater around Pearl, pulling her closer and relishing in her friend's cute little giggle as she did so, leaning into Spinel's embrace.
And she couldn't imagine it any other way.