A fight with the Crystal Gems has left Peridot cracked within an inch of her life. Trapped on Earth, with no one and no way to get home, Peridot's all but given up hope. But she doesn't know the lengths Steven is willing to go to in order to keep her alive.


5. 5

So what are you going to do now?”

Steven shrugged, unseen. He held the phone clenched between his ear and shoulder. His chin tucked to his collar against the cold. His body felt small, curled in against the ocean wind. “I dunno really. I don’t like lying to the Gems.”

And they’re probably not gonna like it either when they find out.” There was a rustle from the other side as Connie adjusted herself. “One time, I lied to my parents about how many pieces of candy I ate. I said I had two but really I took five. They grounded me for two weeks after that.”

“That’s not helping, Connie,” Steven muttered into the phone. A chill wind ran past, and he shivered. The Temple’s porch took the ocean’s gusts at full blast. He pressed his back against the house and curled his legs up against his chest. He hugged them closer with his arms.

Sorry. Your thing is a little more…serious, I guess.” Another rustle, and the bounce of bed springs. “But you’re…you’re at least trying to do something good! It’s not like you’re lying to be selfish.”

Steven straightened his back and took the phone in his hand. “Yeah. I-I’m lying because I don’t want someone to die… Otherwise I wouldn’t lie to them.”

There was a pause on Connie’s end, another shift. “Steven? Sorry but, I’d be lying too if I didn’t say this… I think your reasons are good, a-and I’m proud to be friends with someone so selfless! …But is this maybe…not a good idea? Peridot almost killed you. And now you’re alone with her in the house, and you don’t have the Gems there to protect you.” Anxiety edged itself into Connie’s voice. “I know you’re doing this because you’re a good person, and that’s why you’re lying and doing a dangerous thing. Because you’re a good person! But I’m pretty sure Peridot…isn’t.”

Steven curled back in on himself. He focused off to the shoreline, on Lion dipping his paw into the tide. The sun hung almost directly overhead, but the sky was scattered with clouds, and its light was weak. Steven shivered again. “I was talking to her. She was mad, and upset, and scared…but she didn’t seem evil. Jasper wanted to just fight us, and hurt us… But I think Peridot just wants to get her job done.”

But she doesn’t care if that job involves killing you, Steven.” There was a thud from Connie’s end. Steven heard the creak of floorboards. “I was watching this documentary on animals in the wild. Most animals get aggressive when they’re hurt, because they’re confused and scared. And then a lot of people are attacked every year because they try to go out and help.”

“But Peridot isn’t an animal!” Steven pushed his palm against the icy deck. “She’s a person…a-almost. I’ve been talking to her!”

“Peridot’s worse, Steven. She’s almost like a human, and that means she’s probably smart like one. So she’s violent, and hurt, and scared, and smart…” Her voice trailed off. “The Gems are gonna come back sooner or later, a-and she knows she’s gonna die if they do. You’re the only thing between her and freedom right now. You’re in a lot of danger.”

“Connie…I don’t think she could hurt me no matter how much she wanted to.” Steven stood and faced the window. He stretched to his numbing toes to peer inside. His eyes settled on the wash of green inside the dog crate. “Her arms are gone. When she reformed…I don’t know, they just didn’t reform with her. All her technology and weapons and stuff, she did all of that with her hands. But now she doesn’t have any of that.”

“…Oh,” was Connie’s short response. “Why though? Is it because of the crack?”

Steven shrugged again. “A little bit, maybe. I mean there’s a lot of stuff that looks wrong with her.” He shut his eyes and shivered against the cold. “But Garnet knew that Peridot didn’t have her arms. They must have somehow come off in the middle of the fight.”

Like, prosthetics?”

“Like what?”

Uh, fake limbs. You give them to people who have lost their real arm or leg. They’re mechanical.”

Steven stared at his feet, thinking. “Peridot’s fingers are all not attached to her body. She can use them, but they’re different from the rest of her. And her forearms are a different color from her normal skin. Those are both missing now.”

Sounds like they could be prosthetics then… I hope so, actually. That means she can’t reform her arms and attack you.”

“It also means she can’t defend herself, no matter what.” Steven whispered. He clenched his fist. “And if she can’t defend herself, then I have to!”

…And how are you gonna do that? Are you going to keep lying to Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl?”

“I don’t know yet. They’re probably going to be gone for a while, but I don’t know for certain.” Steven squished the phone further against his cheek. “I really don’t like lying. I hate it. I really really don’t want to keep doing it, but if I tell them the truth then Peridot could die! And I don’t want that to happen.”

…If it makes you feel better, I won’t tell the Gems. Not unless I really knew you were in danger. So I’m here always to help you. I promise.”

Steven nodded. “Thanks Connie…” He glanced again inside. This time he didn’t look away from the crate. “…I’m supposed to call Dad too. His van broke down and he’s really worried about leaving me alone. But I don’t want to lie to him too! I don’t want to lie to my dad…” Steven pressed his free hand against the house. “And he trusts the Gems a whole ton. If he knew that Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl thought Peridot was too dangerous to keep alive…he wouldn’t be okay at all.”


His voice hitched, and he dropped back down to sitting on the deck. “I don’t want to keep lying, Connie.”

…So then, you don’t have any ideas. I don’t have any ideas. And you can’t ask the Gems or your dad because they’d want to kill her…” Another shift on the other side of the phone. Steven heard a door shut and lock. “That only leaves one person who might know what to do.”

“Oh…oh yeah.” Steven scrambled to his feet again. He rounded to the screen door and stared in.

Put me on speaker phone, Steven. Then go back inside and ask her if she has any idea what you can do. Maybe she knows something you don’t.”

Steven opened the door and stepped into the warmth. He heard the door slam shut behind him. The noise startled the thing in the cage. She tensed and spun. Her wide eyes were visible in the shadows of the crate.

…or, or even, use this as a change to figure out for yourself if you should save her. Because if not, then you can call the Gems back, and your dad, and you don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

“…Got it.” Steven tapped the speaker icon on Connie’s contact. A soft white hissing burst from the phone. “Peridot, I’m coming over. And I’m bringing my friend Connie. We’re gonna talk now.” He edged closer. His voice bounced around the edges of the open house. “And it’s maybe your only hope of not dying, so you should actually talk to us this time.”

Steven watched her eyes as he got closer. She didn’t blink. She didn’t move until Steven stood only a few feet away. Finally, her body went slack, eyes falling half-lidded. Her tension faded.

“Fine,” she muttered, then slumped against the cage wall. “What do I have to lose anymore?”

“Woah, you guys took out an entire Injector after I poofed?”

Garnet shrugged, and watched Amethyst prod the fallen machinery with an unreadable tension on her face. “Peridot did. She kicked it down and ran up its side. It was clever. She almost got past us.”

“She lost her footing after I threw my spear.” Pearl knelt in the damp dirt, hand tracing over the washed-out footprints. “Oh and I almost had her too! I could have just taken out her physical body. I suppose I was foolish to offer her a noble death,” she said, teeth and fists clenched.

“We all made mistakes in this fight.” Garnet crouched against the far wall. She shoved her hands into the loose mud. “I had the chance to crack her gem, but I tried to get information out of her first.”

Amethyst turned away from the Injector. She watched Garnet slough away layers of mud by the canyon wall. “Yeah well…I found her. So I at least did that.”

“Amethyst.” Garnet didn’t turn as she spoke. She dug further into the bank of mud that had been washed into the valley by the rain. “We cannot be reckless anymore. And we cannot be hesitant. There’s a time for mercy, but this isn’t it. Peridot could be the deciding factor in whether or not Homeworld returns to earth.”

Amethyst bit down on her lip. She shrugged, even though Garnet faced away from her. “Yeah I know that. What do you want from me?”

“For you to take this mission seriously.”

Amethyst looked away. “I am.”

“You’re not.”

Amethyst crossed her arms and muttered into her elbow. “It’s not like she’s a Diamond or anything…”

There was a shhhink from the dirt. Pearl forgot her interest in the fallen Injector and looked to Garnet. Amethyst looked up too, uneasy at the noise. Garnet thrust her hand back into the muck, and was met with another shhiink.

Her hands wrapped around something, and she pulled. Out of the slop came Peridot’s missing mechanical arm—one of them, at least. There was a thick dent, accented by a fissure along one side. Garnet turned it over in her arms before laying it down to the side. She dug back into the mud and surfaced with a matching arm, less damaged this time.

“Woah…Is that her—her arm dealies?” Amethyst lighted forward. She crouched, hands to her knees, to get a better look. “That’s so nasty.”

“She lost them during our fight. Whatever mental connection she had was severed when I cracked her gem.”

Amethyst stuck her face lower to Garnet’s soupy hole in the mud. “Sooo that’s gotta mean her gem’s around here too, yeah?” She straightened. “What if we just…you know, bubbled her? What’s the difference? She’s all armless and broken anyway.” She stuck her thumb to her chest. “Heck, I’ll do it! Save you guys the trouble and whatever.”

“Amethyst, I thought we settled this.” Pearl stepped forward, pushing Amethyst a few inches back. She clicked on her light and angled it down to the mudslide. “We’ll be able to see her gem’s refraction more easily with a direct light source.”

Garnet panned silently through the mud. Amethyst looked on with agitation. She shifted from one side of Pearl to the other, looking for the best view.

About an inch deep in the muck, Garnet plucked out a brilliant pale green shard. It was hardly bigger than a tooth pick. She held it up to Pearl’s light and twisted it. “I knew I hit her,” Garnet breathed. She summoned a pink bubble in that hand to contain the shard.

Two, three, four, five, six, seven. Garnet uncovered fragments of varying size stitched throughout the muck. She added each to the bubble. Combined, they formed a gram or two worth of material, but it was significant mass to be missing from a gem.

Amethyst moved up beside Garnet. She studied the shards with a muted anxiety on her face. “Yeah…you definitely did get her.”

Pearl hopped forward, light directed closer to the ground. “Which means her shattered gem must be around here too! It’s impossible that she suffered that kind of damage without losing her physical form.”

“Maybe she reformed before us,” Amethyst offered. She kept her eyes geared toward the dirt. “And just like…ran off.”

“And what?—Left her arms behind?” Pearl asked with a huff.

“How’s she gonna carry her arms if she’s got no arms?” Amethyst countered.

“She would reattach her arms.”

“Maybe she forgot.”

“How would she manage to forget the fact that she no longer has arms?”

Garnet stood and stepped away from the mudpile. Pearl and Amethyst fell silent as Garnet turned and surveyed the ground nearby. She repositioned herself where she’d stood the night before, and glanced down into the ground behind her.

Half-buried, something gold glinted back. Garnet bent to it: two halves of a broken Destabilizer.

“It’s broken,” Garnet remarked.

“That’s good.” Amethyst freed herself from her conversation with Pearl. She pulled one half up, pinching it by a prong. “Now we can’t get poofed.”

“That’s…weird,” Pearl answered uneasily. She glanced up at Garnet. “All three of us were hit with it… How could it break?”

“Easy.” Garnet stood up tall. She stared forward, hands clenched. “Peridot is gone even though her shards and arms are still here. Peridot’s gone even though she shouldn’t have been able to reform well enough to escape. And Peridot’s weapon is broken even though none of us were able to break it.” She turned to the broad expanse of the Kindergarten, facing the warp pad. “That all makes sense, because someone was here after us.”

“Oh?” Pearl turned with Garnet. Realization dawned on her face as she stared at the warp pad. Anxiety flooded over her features. “Oh…”

“Oh man…” Amethyst whispered.

“And that someone…” Garnet moved forward. Her arms were stiff at her side, eyes to the warp pad. “…is in a lot of trouble for lying to us.”

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