Steven still wasn’t a big fan of the kindergarten, but things felt much better without Moonlight breaking down.
Sunshine and Moonlight were serious, like they were all the time since Lapis' message, but they didn’t seem particularly emotive about being there.
“Why are we here, again?” Steven asked.
“Lapis said Peridot is coming back with backup,” Sunshine said. “We have been discussing it, and decided to also have our own backup!”
Steven looked around. “From… those?” He pointed to one of the machines left there. They looked dangerous.
“What? No, no.” Sunshine shook her head. “It’s another gem.”
“Another gem?” Steven asked, excited. He thought Sunshine, Moonlight, and Dawn were the only gems on Earth. And Lapis, before she fled back to Homeworld. And the corrupted gems they fought all the time. But still, the thought of meeting another gem made him happy. “Is she another Rose Quartz?”
“Nah.” Moonlight said. “She is an Amethyst.”
“What is her name?” Steven asked.
“The Amethyst is called Amethyst?” Steven asked.
“Gems don’t usually have names,” Sunshine explained. “We usually just go by our gem type.”
“Why do you guys have names?” Steven asked.
“It was Star’s idea.” Moonlight said, smiling. “She wanted us to have more of an individual identity.”
Steven nodded, unsure if he really understood.
“Besides, if we didn’t, you would have to call us all ‘Rose’.” Sunshine chuckled. “Wouldn’t that be weird?”
Steven also chuckled at the idea. Four Roses in his life? That would be confusing. “Yeah. So, does Amethyst live in the kindergarten?”
“We don’t know where exactly she lives.” Moonlight said. “But she hangs around here all the time, so we might find her here.”
“Was she made here too?” Steven was still getting used to the concept, but it seemed to make sense that this new gem was from there too.
“Yeah. But she was made around there,” Moonlight pointed to the walls nearest to the warp pad, “with the other Amethysts. Not as cool as the Rose corner.”
“We have the best holes in the kindergarten, right, Sunshine?”
“I don’t really care about this place.” Sunshine dead paned.
“So each hole is really a different gem?” Steven asked. “What are they like?”
“Quartzes, most of them.” Moonlight said. Steven had no idea what this meant.
“Many of them joined Star in the rebellion,” Sunshine explained. “Others remained loyal to Homeworld.”
“Which side was Amethyst?”
Sunshine frowned. “Amethyst is a bit-”
She was interrupted by Moonlight. “Right there!”
There was a figure about Steven’s height running away to another corridor. Sunshine and Moonlight started running after it, Steven following behind. He supposed that must be her.
The chase continued until the figure had nowhere else to go. It slowly turned around and sighed in relief.
“It’s just you.”
She was clearly a gem. Amethyst had purple skin and silver hair tied in a ponytail. She wore human clothes that almost covered the purple gem on her chest: large black pants, a dark long-sleeved shirt under a large sports t-shirt, a pair of sneakers. She carried a backpack bigger than Steven’s cheeseburger backpack, and it looked heavy.
“What’s up, Rosebuds?”
“We have names, you know,” Sunshine said.
“I don’t have the time to remember which sky-related phenomenon is each of you.” Amethyst teased. She seemed to finally notice Steven. “What’s that, you have a child now?”
“He’s Star’s child.” Moonlight said.
“Huh.” Amethyst nodded. “Where did he come from?”
“From Star,” Sunshine said. “He is really her child. You know, with the birds and bees and giving up on her physical form to give him her gem.”
“Woah. He has a gem?” Amethyst approached Steven and grabbed the bottom of his t-shirt. “May I take a look?”
He nodded, hesitating. She lifted his t-shirt just enough to see his gem.
“Yup, he is definitely a Rosebud.” She let go of his clothes. “A human Rosebud…”
“Why are you calling me Rosebud?” Steven asked.
“It’s my nickname for Rose Quartzes. You are definitely one… Humanrose? Roseman? I’ll figure something.”
“I think I am still more of a Roseboy.”
“Don’t encourage her, Steven,” Sunshine said.
“Steven?” Amethyst asked. Steven nodded. “I have a customer named Steven in Empire City. Lame man.”
“Costumer?” Steven asked. “Do you have a job? The Roses just fight monsters and stuff.”
“Lame,” Amethyst said, earning a glare from Sunshine. “I have a real job. I buy and sell things to people.”
“Mostly gem artifacts and technology,” Sunshine said.
“There’s a lot of this junk around and nobody is using it. I bring them to people who really need them.” Amethyst defended herself.
“She is the one who gave us Lapis' mirror.” Moonlight said.
“How was I supposed to know there was an actual gem in there?”
“There was a big blue gem attached to it!” Sunshine said.
“There are gems everywhere in those old gem places! Really, your armor things have gems! The walls of those decaying temples are covered by gems. Those UFO things crashed in the jungle have the hugest gems I have ever seen! How do I know when it’s a gem gem and when it’s just a rock?”
“When it’s on or in anything made by Homeworld, it’s safe to assume there is no such thing as ‘just a rock’.”
“This makes no sense,” Amethyst said.
Moonlight chuckled. “You see, Steven, Amethyst came out of her hole after the war was over.” She explained to the boy. “She is a bit like you. She doesn’t know much about Homeworld or other gems.”
Steven nodded. Most of the time he didn’t understand a thing of what the Crystal Gems spoke of gem stuff, so he could relate.
“Don’t know and don’t care,” Amethyst confirmed. “So, what brings you Rosebuds here today?”
Sunshine and Moonlight shared a worried look.
“Homeworld has their eyes on Earth again,” Sunshine said. “They are coming back.”
Amethyst’s eyes widened for a moment, but she tried to play it cool. “But I’m sure you guys got this, right?”
“Not really,” Sunshine confessed. “We don’t know how many of them are coming, or what technology they have.”
Amethyst frowned. “Okay, what do you need? There are sure some weapons left in the middle of all that old gem junk, right?”
“We need more fighters,” Sunshine said.
“We thought maybe you could join us.” Moonlight suggested.
“No way!” Amethyst exclaimed. “You are the warriors, Rosebuds, not me.”
“You may be out of practice,” Sunshine said. “But I’m sure with some training-”
“I’ve been out of practice since forever!” Amethyst said. “I have never been to a real fight, Sunshine!”
Steven noticed that she let it slip that she did know her name. He found it cute.
“Earth is your home too!” Moonlight said. “Don’t you want to help protect it?”
“I would love to, but I can’t! You said it yourself, I don’t know anything about Homeworld or other gems. I don’t even know how to be a gem!”
“And we haven’t had any contact with other gems in 5,000 years!” Sunshine said. “We are not that different right now.”
“But you are the Crystal Gems!” Amethyst said. “You are war heroes. You can do this stuff. I can’t.” She dropped her backpack on the ground. “I’m sorry, guys. I can’t help you.”
With that, she jumped high, over their heads, and ran in the opposite direction.
“Do we go after her?” Moonlight asked.
Sunshine shook her head, defeated. “Star never wanted to force her to get involved in our troubles.”
“But this is like, whole Earth’s troubles.” Moonlight pointed
Sunshine looked really down for a moment, but soon a smile appeared on her face. “But she is right! We are the Crystal Gems! We got this!”
Moonlight was about to argue, but she looked at Steven, who looked relieved by Sunshine’s words. “Yeah! Who needs her, anyway?”
Steven smiled, but he was still a bit worried. “What about our backup?”
“Don’t worry, Steven. We have other cards in our sleeves.” Sunshine said, winking.
“Okay,” Steven said, his smile growing more confident.
“Let’s go home.” Moonlight said. “If we hurry we can catch your crying food cartoon.”
“Race to the warp pad!” Sunshine shouted.
“No cheating this time!” Steven said, but Sunshine was already using her powers to get there first.
Moonlight laughed. “Here, let me help you.” She picked Steven up and placed him on her shoulders, so they could team up against Sunshine.
They didn’t need to worry too much this particular afternoon, not in front of Steven. He deserved to have some fun before the storm that was coming.