A/N Redacted.

Enjoy the chapter!

o

It was surprisingly only about twenty minutes before the commandeered Ruby ship landed. Garnet had exited her hiding space moments earlier, leaving faint footprints that evaporated in seconds as she approached the console. "Land at the temple. We can keep Lapis and Peridot out of this for now." She instructed formally. Then again, most of how Garnet acted could be deemed 'formal' if not, nonchalant. Anyway, Pearl redirected the ship's course from its original landing zone of the barn and made her way towards the temple.

Garnet wasn't the only one that'd joined Pearl and Amethyst at the console. I'd gotten up and moved closer to the window when the ship broke the atmosphere and stabilized. After all, how likely would it have been that I got a chance to see the friggin earth from the edge of the atmosphere! Or space itself for that matter?

Not likely. So, despite the situation, I definitely took advantage of the view. My mind practically melded with the purest feeling of awe as I tried to look at absolutely everything I could see. There was no doubt that I had stars in my eyes and a smile wider than a semi-truck in Texas.

And descending to beach city? Hah! That made it even better. It just looked so much more REAL than I expected. Seeing it in person was OBVIOUSLY completely different from a cartoon, but the sheer, stunning, panoramic euphoria that filled my vision was even more than I ever dreamed of.

Speaking of which. Taking a second look at the gems, the effect was much the same. It reminded me of the gravity of the situation again, sure, but the visage of Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl standing amidst a control panel on the Ruby ship -with ME inside experiencing it all- was almost too much for my nerd mind to handle.

It seemed that delayed reactions would be the centerpoint of my experience for the immediate future.

Anyway. I looked back at the temple -and, more importantly, Steven's house- now that we were landing in front of it and promptly melted into fangirl jelly, murmuring things like "Beach city..." and "Steven's house..." and then, when I saw that big pink floof...

"LION!" I shouted, jumping off the console and darting towards the door as the Ruby ship settled. I pushed on the metal portal about three times before realizing there was a lever that I should pull. By now, I had the attention of the gems again. Specifically Pearl.

"STEVE- I mean, DAVID! Wait until the ship's landed! Don't endanger Steven's body!" Birdmom fired off, all of it going in one ear and out the other for me as I yanked the lever and leaped out onto the beach before sprinting around the ship, up the sandy incline, up the STAIRS, and then RIGHT into Lion's mane.

Yeah. In my excitement, I completely forgot exactly how the pink feline worked and ended up running RIGHT into his pocket dimension. He didn't even look like he budged an inch the whole time I charged him.

But now, on the inside of Lion's mane? My mind went from energized to stunned and wondrous once again. It was positively... Majestic in there. Like a plain or tundra of pink grass and gentle breezes. Off in the distance, I could see the pink tree hill. Two fluttering objects adorned the hill, one hanging from the tree, and one seemingly next to it. In addition to this, a big lump sat off slightly to the side, making the scene ALMOST complete aside from the missing sword and previously bubbled gem.

Of course, I knew what all these things were, and, of course, why the two missing items were missing. But that certainly wasn't going to stop me from exploring.

Unfortunately, a pair of hands and a lack of oxygen WOULD stop me. And pull me back out of the strange pocket dimension to the -relatively- real world.

I immediately inhaled a double lungful of air and twisted around to face them. "LION'S MAAANNE!" I exclaimed excitedly. "I wasn't even TRYING to go in there!" I added, my newfound glee still quite obvious as I partially ignored their expressions and reactions.

But the awkwardness quickly settled in as I saw that they were -for the most part- unreceptive to my enthusiasm.

"WHOMP WHOMP!" I quacked out of nowhere to break the tension, causing Amethyst to crack and chuckle while Pearl forcefully held it in with a hand over her mouth.

"This isn't a game!" Garnet piped up, frowning at us all. We shut up immediately, nonetheless, but I couldn't tell if that was directed more at me or Pearl and Amethyst given how they caved to my infectious new attitude. "You said so, yourself. We have to find a way to get Steven back, immediately." The fusion scolded, turning and opening the door to the house before proceeding inside and heading towards the warp pad/temple area.

"Now, Garnet..." Pearl started.

"The dude said he was struck by lightning, G. Give him a break." Amethyst interrupted, chiming in on both her AND Pearl's behalf.

THAT, combined with Pearl's agreement actually took a bit of the emotional stress away. I didn't exactly expect them to be receptive at all, least of which, Pearl. Especially given her performance on the ship.

"HE can do whatever he wants. WE need to figure out what happened and how to get Steven back." The leader clarified, both of her compatriots going 'oh' in realization of the misunderstanding and following her towards the temple door.

My initial analysis on who would be the least receptive to this whole fiasco was quickly beginning to change.

"Hey, wait. What am I supposed to do?" I asked from the middle of the main room, causing Pearl and Amethyst to stop and turn to look at me before glancing between themselves and then deciding to answer.

"Just... Don't get into any trouble. And keep Steven's body fed. And clean. And free of any... blockages." Pearl instructed. I almost wanted to deadpan at her until she made the comment about 'blockages'.

I outright snickered at that. "Sure thing, Pearl. That won't be a problem." I assured her, coming down from the mirth she instilled with her classic aversion to human bodily functions.

"Oh, and try not to talk to anybody..." She added, killing my mood the rest of the way before turning around and heading towards the door just as Garnet called for them again.

Just then, however, I suddenly remembered something from 'earthlings' that might be important. "Amethyst!" I called out, jogging to catch up with her just before she disappeared into the temple door. She turned just as I got there and I went right for her ear without even hesitating. "Uhh, did you tell Pearl and Garnet about Smokey?" I asked, causing the small Quartz to tense up and look at me with alarm.

"Uhh, noo! Steven and I were going to surprise them!" She whisper-shouted. "How do you even know about that? Wait! YOU AVOIDED ANSWERING ME, EARLIER!" Amethyst exclaimed, getting interrupted when Garnet shouted "AMETHYST!" from inside the temple, sufficiently distracting her and forcing her to drop the subject.

"We're not finished with this. And I'm not going to forget it again." Amethyst promised me, stepping through the temple door and disappearing.

"Okay! I promise I won't say anything about the thing!..." I shouted after her, progressively deflating throughout the statement due to how she flipped on me.

o

After that, I was left in an awkward silence with myself as the room went still. Much like before in the ship, I didn't exactly have time to truly take in my surroundings. But now, being left basically to my own devices -with a few caveats- I had more than enough time and freedom to fully enjoy the scope of the situation and allow myself to relax and be happy with it.

It started with one of those cringy fangirl squees of excitement before divulging into giddy laughter as I sprinted across the warp pad and back into the main living space. "Steven's house!" I exclaimed, throwing my hands up as my eyes darted to everything in an attempt to frantically pick out my next target.

Running around the counter and to the fridge, I opened it up and gave a nice jubilant smile to whatever was in there. "Steven's fridge!" I continued, swinging it shut and hop-twisting around before jumping up and climbing onto the ledge. "Steven's COUNTER!" I sighed happily, laying stomach-down on it and making a mock 'snow angel' before rolling off and landing on the floor.

The coffee table and couch were my next victims. Using the first as a springboard, I ran forward and jumped onto the couch like a stuntman would jump into a safety inflatable on a movie set. "STEVEN'S... COOOOUUUCCH!" I called loudly, pausing between the two words during my run up and then drawing out 'couch' as I sailed through the air and safely crashed into it with a haphazard tuck and flip thrown in as a garnish. Not to be confused with garNET, of course.

I giggled with glee and writhed on the white piece of furniture to the point that I actually rebounded off of it. I stopped immediately when I realized just how well I could bounce on the thing and quickly made to stand up on it. "It's springy AND comfortable!" I said, reveling in this discovery before putting it to the test mere moments later and falling into another fit of giggling as I used the couch like a trampoline and progressively bounced higher and higher with every jump.

And after getting as high as I could without hitting my head?

Well, it was then that I gradually accumulated more and more hang time with every bounce. It took a grand total of FIVE leaps after the five or ten original ones before I wound up coming back down slowly enough to notice I was defying gravity. I opened my eyes and looked down and then around me as I gently floated back down to the couch like a helium balloon that had hung around for a couple of days.

When I landed, I looked down at my hands wondering how in creation I managed to do that, my eyes starry but also wet and nearing tearful.

Could I use more of Steven's powers? Should I use them? Should I even try?

Should I keep this a secret and not do it again? Should I not go for anything more ambitious?

Why am I here? What does this mean?

What's happening?

Did I die and... get a second chance..?

Am I... meant to replace Steven...?

o

Meanwhile, inside the temple:

"Garnet. We don't even know how he got here or why. There's no way we can fix an unknown problem!" Pearl tried to reason, feeling just as distressed as the Crystal Gem leader was due to Steven being displaced by David, but also trying to maintain some level of rationality about it so they could -hopefully- expedite the solution.

"Gaah, I know that!" Garnet huffed distressedly, groaning a second later in frustration. "If only I could SEE!" She added in a grumble, alerting Amethyst and Pearl to the problem.

"Wait. What do you mean 'if only I could see'?" The purple Quartz questioned.

"Ever since that light exploded where we found Steven's bubble, I haven't been able to use my future vision for anything useful." The fusion explained.

"Well, did you try-" Pearl started, getting interrupted by a sudden look from the taller gem.

"Yes. I defused on the ship, and even Sapphire couldn't use it. For her alone, it was only marginally clearer and still not any more useful." Garnet stated bluntly, causing the other two to go quiet at that.

"What should we do?" Pearl said, breaking the silence after several long moments.

"What CAN we do?" Amethyst asked desperately, with an undertone of frustration.

"We go back out." Garnet replied levely. "We take the ship back into space and search the area where we found Steven's bubble for the source of that light." She explained. "THAT was most likely the cause of this trouble." The fusion added.

"Garnet, go easy on the guy. He's not trouble..." Amethyst trailed off, only a hint of uncertainty buried in the sound of her voice as she tried to defend their 'guest'.

"We don't know that." Garnet quipped. "Despite telling us the truth and taking it seriously at first, he treated it like a game when we landed." She explained. "Not to mention how he seems to KNOW a lot about us and the things that go on around here. How do you explain that?" The fusion posed.

"I know, I know... I've already decided to grill him about it when I get the chance." Amethyst clarified.

"Good. Then you can stay here and do that while Pearl and I take the ship to go searching." Garnet declared, standing up and simply moving forward, both literally AND with the plan.

Pearl, on the other hand, wasn't so sure. "Uhh, Garnet..? Don't you think maybe St- err, David himself might be the key to this?" She stated tentatively, getting a look from Garnet that could be nothing less than a stern 'explain..' as said gem turned to acknowledge her.

"I just think that maybe... examining him, might lead to a discovery..." Pearl trailed off, bringing up a fair point and causing Garnet to re-think part of the strategy.

"Fine. We'll go searching first, and then if we don't find anything, we'll come back and see what we can find with David, himself." The leader agreed, heading towards the door again with Pearl and Garnet in tow several paces behind.

o

Back in the house...

I'd ended up in the bathroom feeling distant and sick. After having to pee, I just stayed in there, pulling 'my' legs up to 'my' chest and wrapping 'my' arms around them to try holding myself together. Being able to access Steven's abilities... It made sense -in a logical sort of way- but it just felt wrong to me.

I distantly heard the door to the temple open, followed by barely audible muted footprints and then a mixed gasp between three sources. "Where is he!?" Garnet half-barked, Pearl following up with a hesitant and somewhat terrified "David?" as she too seemed to be in distress about where I could've wondered off to.

'Well, time to face the music, I guess...' I thought to myself, resigning to bury my own discontention for now, even if just to reassure the gems. "I'm in here, guys." I called out, Steven's voice shockingly foreign to me again, now.

In any case, I could practically hear AND feel all of the attention turning to the bathroom door as I slid off the closed toilet seat and padded over to open it. "Had to pee. Sorry if I worried you..." I explained, drastically different from the jubilant mood I was in earlier.

They seemed to notice, too.

Their eyes stayed on me for just a few seconds too long, making the whole situation sorta tense, uncomfortable, and awkward before Garnet became the first to break it with a sigh, an eye rub with one hand, and a simple advance towards the door as she made her way out with an explanation called behind her for my sake. "Pearl and I are going out. Amethyst is staying here, with you." The fusion explained.

Now. I have absolutely no idea how I came to the conclusion that I did. Maybe it was the possibly fake, possibly real 'original storyboard animation' that showed the Sardonyx dance containing a kiss between them. And maybe it was my odd emotional state that was searching for some kind of positive hope or something like a needy little misdirector, but what I said next was VERY stupid.

"Wait, since when are you two 'going out'?" I questioned somewhat suggestively, causing garnet to stop, pause, and look back at me. This was followed by Pearl stiffening from a few feet behind HER and putting both hands to her mouth -while undoubtedly blushing- and keeping her back to me.

I was thoroughly confused by their reactions. But when I turned to see Amethyst's mouth-agape expression it instantly hit me, and I facepalmed at my own blunder.

"Oh, geez, crap, I-I am SO sorry! I didn't mean- I mean I KNOW that you ARE a relationship, and that YOU don't- and I mean you loved..." I fumbled on, only being stopped when Amethyst got her wits about her again and moved forward to restrain me. And, more importantly, my running mouth.

Pearl had managed to turn around about when I realized my mistake, and by now, Garnet was just sighing and shaking her head. "Don't worry about it. You seem about as stressed as the rest of us." She commented, seemingly thawing to me just a bit as she realized it wasn't all Cookie Cats and Fry-Bits for me, either. In the current state of things, that is...

"We'll be back." Garnet said simply, Pearl having pushed past her to get a head start on whatever they were doing while also escaping the embarrassment as soon as she could.

Amethyst let go of me and I tentatively agreed with "Uhh, okay.." as the tall fusion stepped out the screen door and let it swing shut before descending the stairs back down towards the beach. A quick relocation to the big window coupled with the sound of alien engines firing up alerted me fairly bluntly to what was intended by the whole 'Pearl and I are going out' thing.

I watched Garnet board, and then watched the Ruby-ship disappear into the sky. Amethyst had joined me mere moments before they were out of sight, and we both watched the spot the two gems disappeared into for a while longer before the purple Quartz finally spoke up.

"So. How's about that explanation?"

o

Whelp, that's it for chapter 2. Cutting it at the 'standardized' 3k for this one since it felt like a good stopping point. Coming chapters might be longer. Depends on how they feel at the time. I'll shoot for 3k-5k words, but no more than 6k or 7k max. I mean, Long chapters make ME procrastinate reading, so I can only imagine how others might feel. Then again, too short and it's like "what's the point?" while also being a total tease, too.

Anyway, Review, Favorite, and Follow if you enjoyed. Or even if you didn't. Constructive Critisism can make bad fics good, and good fics great, after all. :3

Have a good one!

~Drunk