A/N: hello everyone, and welcome to the finale of Gasoline & Matches!-!
i'm soooo sorry it's taken so long omg. but it's here now and it's LONG - 9000+ words heck
thank you, every single one of you, for being here through the journey of this story and offering your support! it means so much to me, and i hope you all have a blast reading this final chapter! [heart]
longer note will be at the end!
Are We Still Young
The light shone through the thick canopy in thin rays, contrasting against the shadows casted by the trees. A cobblestone building was crumbling between the trunks of the trees, its moulded rocks glistening in the short bursts of light. A deer ran by, its ears perked. Spooked.
Peridot moved closer to the ruins. She wanted to run her hand over the rocks, feel every groove underneath her fingertips, the moss leaving her hands damp. Instead she heard her feet crackle the twigs and foliage underneath her as she stepped closer and closer.
The ruins weren't all that big; towering only a metre or so above her head, as opposed to a castle. The doorway wasn't much of a doorway anymore. It had mostly caved in, any light peeking through the canopy unable to reach the darkness past its collapse. Peridot went to squeeze through the gap she could see.
"Hey Peri?" Amethyst called from somewhere behind her.
"You've got a message from Lapis."
Peridot sighed and placed the controllers in her hands on the floor. She slipped the headset off and passed it over to Amethyst swinging off her office chair. "Well? You want to take over?"
"Hell yeah, you know I love VR." Amethyst grinned and leapt for the headset, handing Peridot her phone as she stood up.
"Remember it's an alpha, there's bound to be bugs," Peridot reminded her as she took a seat in the chair, eyeing Amethyst setting up the equipment before trailing her eyes down to her phone. One text was left by Lapis.
the one and only lazuli [5:34PM]: hey i'm on my way home now. see u soon [heart]
Peridork [5:36PM]: okay! how was the show?
the one and only lazuli [5:39PM]: driving home rn tell u when i get back
"How is it Amethyst?" Peridot asked after a moment, plonking her phone back on the desk and swivelling around in the chair.
"This is sick dude. Is it supposed to be horror because I've got the chills," Amethyst replied, glancing around the room with the VR headset over her head.
"No, it's just an exploration based adventure, though there are some creepy moments, heh."
"This would make an awesome horror. Just sayin'."
Peridot chuckled. "I suppose it would."
"So what did Lapis say?"
"She's coming home."
"Man, I wish I had gone to the show. Schedule's a bit tight at the moment."
Peridot silently agreed and watched Amethyst some more. It was interesting to watch people in VR; to be in two worlds at once, their actions in reality reflecting in the fictional world. Amethyst bent down and fell onto her knees, supposedly crawling through the broken down archway Peridot had seen. Intriguing.
She gazed between Amethyst's antics and the computer screen, watching the world be manoeuvred around by the headset. The game was a work in progress, but Peridot was proud to be working on it. It was admittedly not something she had planned to do when she was growing up, to make a virtual reality game, but she supposed her mother's business influenced her.
Peridot heard the front door swing open, and Amethyst must've too despite the headphones, and took off the entire headset.
"This. Is. Wicked," Amethyst complimented, her excited grin unmoving.
Peridot smiled abashedly. "Thank you." She stood up from the chair, stretching her arms a bit, and started walking out of the room. "Shall we?"
Amethyst didn't need to answer; she rushed past Peridot and jumped into Lapis halted at the front door.
"Woah, jeez Amethyst," Lapis greeted through chuckles. "Miss me much?"
"Eh," she grunted, smiling cheekily at Lapis. "I just wanna hear about the show."
Amethyst stuck her tongue out. Lapis shoved her out of the way, sending her tumbling into Greg whom stood beside her.
Peridot watched the spectacle amusedly, then sauntered up to Lapis. Her blue eyes flicked from Amethyst laughing against Greg to Peridot, her smile growing bigger.
"Hey nerd," Lapis addressed, placing her guitar against the wall and opening her arms wide. "C'mere."
Peridot launched herself into Lapis' arms, snuggling her face into the crook of her neck, inhaling the scent of rustic taverns and faint alcohol. It was a nice smell.
Peridot let herself fall out of Lapis' arms, her grin broad. "How was the show?"
"It was awesome!" Greg answered for her, beaming like Peridot. He placed his own electric guitar next to Lapis' acoustic, and fist pumped. "I have never had so much fun in my life!"
"Performing with Greg is the best," Lapis affirmed, wrapping her arm around his shoulders and giving him a quick knuckle rub on his head (through all the thick hair). "I finally got to perform one of my own originals! It was scary but definitely worth it for the applauds we received."
"That's great Lapis!" Peridot exclaimed, bouncing up and down on the spot.
"I bet you two got heaps of fans now," Amethyst added, crossing her arms tantalisingly. "Especially Greg; any fangirls taken your interest yet?"
Greg flushed a little. "Heh, no Amethyst. I'm not desperate, just single."
Amethyst faux huffed, but still wore her grin. "Sooo… how long will you two take to get ready?"
"Amethyst, it's…" Lapis checked her phone, "4:40, we don't need to be there til 6pm. Plus I'm kinda hungry."
"Yeah, and if we get there earlier we can eat earlier!"
Lapis raised her eyebrows. "Not happening."
"Ugh, you're no fun anymore."
"Since when was I ever fun in the first place?"
Amethyst grinned. "Okay fine. Peri and I have been ready for a while now, so we better be there at 6!"
"Whatever." Lapis faced Greg. "You need to go home to get ready or?"
"Nah, I'm good." He plucked at his black Mr. Universe shirt with a golden star in the centre; his band clothes. "I'm sure we don't need to be dressy."
Lapis hummed in agreement. "Yeah, you're probably right. You guys can chill and grab a snack if you like, I'm gonna take a break."
Amethyst took that as a sign to dig into the fridge, and ran off to the kitchen, Greg hot on her heels. Peridot frowned. That was exactly what she was avoiding, keeping Amethyst at bay with the VR.
Lapis noticed her frown and smiled coyly. "What? We have plenty of food."
"Yeah, and I want to keep it that way." Peridot rolled her eyes and stalked off to her office.
"Don't I get any welcome back kisses?" Lapis called out after her.
"You were gone for the day, not for an entire week."
Peridot rolled her eyes again, but smiled this time. She picked up the VR headset and controllers left on the floor by Amethyst and stacked them into the shelf, untangling all the cables and neatly placing them next to the set too. She felt Lapis' eyes on her back as she shut down her computer.
"Are you tired?" Peridot asked, making sure everything was packed away in the room before wandering over to Lapis standing in the doorway.
Lapis shrugged. "Kinda. Why?"
"Want to nap for a while?"
"What about Ms. Appetite and Mr. Universe over there?" Lapis gestured towards the kitchen, where already sounds of cooking came from. "Let them run wild?"
Peridot sighed. "Yeah sure, but they're cleaning up the mess."
Lapis grinned, taking Peridot's hand in her own and giving her a quick kiss. "Alright, I'm down for snuggles and Youtube."
Pearl fidgeted with the cutlery on the oak table, making sure all the plates were centred nicely and symmetrical to the other side. She couldn't help it. Perfection was key.
It was nearing 6pm, the sunlight glinting through the windows and glass doors hesitantly as the sun fell further towards the horizon. It cast a pretty orange shade across the dining and lounge room. Pearl often noticed it. It was hard to miss it when the sun was at your doorstep every dawn, its light glistening against the quiet waves lapping at the shore.
The beach house had received quite a few renovations over time, all thanks to Rose's father. The lounge room had been extended, giving more room for a dining table between it and the kitchen, which in turn had more space too. The shabby front door was replaced with sliding glass doors and maroon curtains. The loft also had new furniture installed to make it a more homey bedroom. And thank goodness, a driveway was implemented; even though it was a simple gravel one.
Pearl remembered the months spent away from her home with Rose, waiting in anticipation for the renovations to be complete at her parents'. It was always odd seeing her mum and dad; their relationship had grown over the years and despite everything, despite all the anxiety and dread, Pearl felt she could truly trust them.
Nonetheless, it was always odder being in her old bedroom, seeing most of her personal belongings cleared out of the area, only two drawers and her old bed being left behind. Her high school memories were held there, and she wished she could forget the countless times she cried distraught there, and just remember all the times she made love to Rose when her parents were away.
Again, Pearl fretted with the cutlery of one plate, humming when it looked satisfactory. Everything was set.
The rocky noises of car tyres rolling over gravel sounded outside the beach house. Pearl checked the time again - just past 6pm. They were surprisingly on time.
She went to greet the new arrivals, opening the glass doors wide and stepping out onto the balcony. She leant over the rails, observing her friends exiting their car beside hers, and smiled broadly. Everyone was here, even Greg, and the family felt complete for the first time in a long time.
A hand on her shoulder signalled that she wasn't alone. Garnet mimicked her smile, her eyes shining in the dusk sunlight.
"It's good to see everyone for the first time in a long time," Garnet admitted, speaking Pearl's thoughts out loud.
"It is." Pearl watched Lapis attempt to stick her leg out in front of Peridot's, then proceeding to catch the smaller woman before she tripped over. Those two have an odd relationship.
"Hello everybody," she called out, waving happily to her visitors.
"Pearl!" Amethyst cried back, leaping up the stairs with vim and vigour, briefly sending a cautious glance at Garnet's way, and slugged Pearl affectionately in the arm. "Dude, it's been forever! Where have you been for months?"
"Oh, you know, studying and family stuff," Pearl replied, rubbing her arm with a smile. Amethyst's ways of saying hello were always the most physical. Well, save for Rose. She would never get tired of her kisses.
Peridot stepped up behind Amethyst and grunted. "Studying is very time consuming Amethyst, for your information."
"Hey, I wasn't going to tease about that, I get it," Amethyst defended, deflating a little. "Just because I haven't done it doesn't mean I don't understand."
"Rightio," Lapis interrupted, pushing between the two and wrapping an arm around each of their shoulders. "How's the fam Pearl?"
"Oh, it's going wonderfully." Pearl strolled over to the front doors, fully pushing back the curtains to allow everyone in. "Please, come in."
She didn't miss the way Amethyst stood the furtherest away from Garnet as they all made their way inside, nor the way almost everyone bounced excitedly.
Amethyst squeezed past everyone and came to the front. "So where's Rose?"
"Coming!" a voice called out from the hallway at the back of the house. Pearl couldn't help a giddy smile; she loved the way Rose always sounded so cheerful.
A door in the hallway at the back of the house opened and closed, Rose stepping out wearing a gorgeous floral button-up and a loose skirt. She wore a smile as bright as the sun, the dimples in her cheeks accentuating and her eyes wrinkling with joy. Lion stalked at her ankles, his white fur puffing up at the visitors.
Pearl watched the way everyone's eyes glistened in awe and excitement, and let her giddy grin spread before focusing on Rose and her little gift to the world.
In her arms, wrapped in a small red blanket, was a baby, his eyes wide with curiosity at the new people in his home.
Lapis was the first to speak.
A simple name that seemed to melt her, from Pearl's perspective. And everyone else followed.
Amethyst waggled her fingers in front of his face, like he was a kitten. He smiled, made a few indecipherable noises, and grabbed her index finger with his tiny hand. He seemed pleased with his catch.
Rose sat down in a chair and Peridot came up with Lapis, holding her hand as she ran a finger over his tiny hand with her other hand. Her smile was something Pearl rarely saw without the presence of Peridot. She never knew Lapis could take such a liking to babies.
Garnet bent down to Steven's level in Rose's arms and murmured, "Hello Steven."
He responded with a few happy baby noises and smiled.
Garnet smiled back.
Greg was an interesting one to watch. After all, Steven was half of his genes, yet not his actual parent to raise him. Steven shared his dark hair, but the beginnings of brown hair were starting to grow curly, like Rose's.
"May I hold him?" Greg asked Rose nervously, but Rose beamed.
Pearl was glad any jealousy she had of Greg was completely gone. It didn't matter if Steven was half of Greg, her and Rose would raise Steven together and be his parents. And it was tiring and tedious, taking care of a child, but Pearl was committed. This is what Rose wanted, and she realised later, what she wanted. A family to call hers with Rose.
And a family with all her friends right there and then.
Greg held Steven in his arms, and the baby giggled delightfully, and Pearl saw the loving smile of Greg. He was not going to raise Steven, but he may as well love him as much as if he did.
After everyone greeted Steven personally, Pearl flitted about the kitchen, bringing pots and pans from one side to the other and preparing the dishes. Rose followed behind her, sending a sweet smile to their friends entertained by baby Steven, and wrapped her arms around Pearl's waist.
"It smells great in here," Rose hummed, resting her chin on Pearl's shoulder.
Pearl chuckled a little. "You know I can't keep cooking if you're hugging me."
"You want me to take over for a bit? You've been cooking for hours."
"It's okay, I like cooking. You know that."
Rose smiled and pecked Pearl on the cheek. "You go make sure Lion isn't attacking Steven with cuddles, I'll finishing cooking and preparing."
Pearl sighed and left the kitchen. Amethyst was holding Steven in her lap at the table, the chair opposite her homing a sleeping Lion. It seemed he was okay with the visitors now.
Peridot and Lapis were sitting next to each other at the table, talking about all kinds of stuff with Amethyst that Pearl didn't really listen to. Instead, she wandered over to Greg and Garnet chatting by the front doorway.
It was strange raising Steven with Rose. She never thought she'd have children, and if she did, they would've been adopted. And certainly not at this young of an age. But Rose really wanted to have a child of her own, to go through pregnancy and labour. Pearl still couldn't understand why. It seemed like such a painful experience.
Pearl was oddly grateful Greg was half of Steven's genes instead of a random stranger. Even though he'd be raised by two loving mums, he'd at least know his biological father. Steven would probably need fatherly advice growing up, and Pearl had a feeling Greg wasn't leaving anytime soon.
Rose brought out the dishes of food onto the centre of the long table. Plates of cooked meat and seafood alongside salads and oven baked vegetables littered the table; all of Pearl's proud work.
She took a seat beside Rose next to Steven in his baby chair, watching with amusement at Steven's excitement around the visitors. He was a charming baby.
They all took food from the centre dishes, styling their own plates to their desires. Pearl had a few marinated prawns and chicken with her potato salad.
"So Garnet, how was the UK?" Peridot asked, chomping down on a chicken wing.
"It was good to see my whole family again. Some of my old friends too. Too bad it's so cold over there; I would've liked to stay longer, but my mums and I were afraid we were going to freeze." Garnet smiled distantly. "I suppose you guys were missing me, so it was good I came back after only a couple of months."
Amethyst rolled her eyes and mumbled, "Duh, of course we missed you."
Garnet seemed to pick up on that and grinned wider.
"Are you thinking of re-enrolling in university?" Pearl asked after chewing on a prawn.
"Of course, can't leave you alone for much longer. How has uni been anyways?"
"Oh, the usual. Lots of study, stress and financial instability, but thank goodness for a rent-free home."
Peridot grumbled. "You two are lucky. I wish Lapis and I could find a rent-free home, but we had to move out of home eventually."
"Speaking of Lapis," Rose interrupted, grinning at the aforementioned woman, "How was your gig with Greg?"
Excitement flashed in Lapis' eyes. "Man, it was fuc— er, really awesome! It was only for the day, but Greg is introducing me to this lifestyle slowly. I can't wait for more though; it was so much fun!"
"It's great to hear your music career is kickstarting well," Pearl complimented with a broad smile.
"How about you Amethyst?" Rose asked, putting her elbows on the table and leaning into the back of her hands. "How's life been lately?"
"Oh, y'know…" Amethyst rubbed the back of her neck bashfully. "Livin' with Smokey, splitting the rent, tryna find a decent job, that boring schmuck."
"What about, yanno…" Lapis trailed off, hesitantly nodding her head towards Garnet.
"Really Lapis, you could be a bit more vague," Pearl scolded.
"It's okay," Garnet butted in. "We're just on another one of our 'off's."
"Garnet," Amethyst hissed through her teeth, blushing a bit. She wasn't very confident in discussing matters like… that.
Garnet shrugged. "Sorry, they asked, and it's really not much of a secret."
"It's okay," Garnet repeated, more to Amethyst this time. She grumbled in response. Steven seemed to sense the drop in atmosphere and made a few distressed baby noises, waggling his hands out in Amethyst's direction. She looked up and smiled.
"Well, if everyone's done with dinner, we can get into dessert!" Pearl announced cheerfully, nudging Rose's arm.
"You really went full out, didn't you?" Peridot asked, raising an eyebrow.
Pearl smiled slyly. "You all know I love cooking, and I can't resist pleasuring my guests with my skills."
"Oh my god, please tell me that was an innuendo," Lapis mentioned and snorted.
"I—what? N-no!" Pearl snapped and abruptly stood. "I am in a very happy monogamous relationship, thank you very much!"
"Jeez Pearl, I was only joking." Lapis continued snorting and Pearl rolled her eyes.
"Yes, of course."
Pearl collected everyone's dishes, some more cleared than others, and took them to sink. Rose followed behind her with the food dishes.
"Should I leave these out or store them in the fridge?" she asked Pearl.
"Um, Amethyst will probably want seconds. I'd leave them out for an hour or less then put them in the fridge."
"Ugh, please, no. That sounds like you're my grandmother."
"It's been three years and I still can't find a pet name you like."
Pearl scoffed. "That's because there aren't any good pet names."
"I'll find the one, one day," Rose hummed. "Would you like me to serve dessert?"
"That would be great." Pearl quickly brushed a kiss on Rose's cheek. "Thank you."
The city lights were always so pretty at night.
Lapis sometimes missed Beach City and its serenity, its sunrises on the beach, its homeyness. The city however, was somewhere she would never tire from. It wasn't a big city, so it was never crowded, but it had the perfect amount of shops and activities to do. She would often find herself browsing Greg's music store, or lost in a regular cafe, or back at the tavern she sometimes liked to call her second home.
It was odd remembering sharing these places with other people when she was younger. Peridot was someone she always wanted to share the city with, but… she spent a lot of time there too with Jasper.
Lapis remembered hating her in this very room, and never knew how to feel about it. Over the years she had gone from loving Jasper as a best friend, to despising her half-sister, refusing to believe her as family, and back to loving her again. It was a long process, but eventually she forgave her. They both knew it wasn't each other to blame.
Lapis sat opposite of Jasper, watching her with more interest than her food on her plate. All thanks to Peridot's continuous positive reinforcement and a bit of therapy, she learned to eat properly again, but that didn't mean she wanted to eat that moment.
It was hard getting in contact with Jasper lately. Well, actually, usually it was.
She still had the odd appointment here and there to take care of her and her venting issues. Lapis sometimes went along; Jasper always needed the extra care and encouragement.
Most of the time however, she was off exploring, finding temporary jobs here and there. She wanted to find a place to call home, but after a month or so, Jasper always returned back to Beach City.
It was the first time in two months Lapis had even heard of Jasper.
Lapis pushed around some food on her plate. "So how was your recent trip?"
"I went to Massachusetts, checked out all the places big and small. Didn't feel like home," Jasper admitted after shovelling a mouthful of steak into her mouth. "Running out of funds to keep travelling though, and it's not easy to find quick jobs on the run."
"Isn't Beach City your home?" Lapis asked, raising an eyebrow. She knew the answer; she asked this every time Jasper returned from an adventure.
Jasper sighed. "Yeah, but no? You know it's been chilly here for me since Mum died. Never felt like I really belong here after losing her."
"What about here here? Like the city? Find an apartment and job near Peridot and I?"
"Don't I invade your space enough?"
Lapis scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Dude, I take care of you every time I see you, which is not often. Of course you don't invade my space. And it's not like we'll be living in the same house."
Jasper smiled and chuckled. "Maybe. I dunno. I wanna see more of the world before I decide where I want to stay."
"Thinkin' about the Southern Hemisphere?" Lapis asked, finally taking a bite of her food. A fancy beef and beetroot burger.
"Maybe. All backwards down there and whatnot. Just need to plan the funds for it first. It's one thing to travel America, another to leave the country altogether."
"Will you ever go to college or uni?"
Jasper finished off her steak before replying. "Dunno. I could study physical education I guess, become a gym teacher. Or become an athlete. Maybe study something that'll get me around the world. I'm not sure yet. What about you?"
"Yeah, are you studying or anything?"
Lapis pushed her food around more. "Nah. Just work here at the tavern. But I did recently do a gig here with my friend Greg! That was super fun."
"That's great Lapis." Jasper smiled wholeheartedly. "You not gonna try to get into a music school?"
"Probably not. Maybe. I'm not sure if I want to make music my full time career, I just like it as a hobby or a small time thing, yanno? But I'm giving that decision time."
"Yeah, I get you."
The pair went silent as they finished their food, but Jasper still wore the same troubled expression she had worn the entire time. Lapis frowned at that.
"Want to tell me any more about your recent trip? You didn't really go into detail," Lapis asked, leaning back in her chair.
Jasper rapt her fingers on the table once and refused to look up from her empty plate.
"I saw Malachite in Boston."
"Or, well, I think I saw her. It's been a few years." Jasper looked up and saw Lapis' glare and bit the inside of her mouth. "She was working in one of the gift shops. Looked a little different too, her hair was dyed like aqua or something. Bunch more piercings too. I was so surprised I just stood there, staring. I mean, what are the chances of seeing her again?"
"What the fuck," Lapis swore, scowling now. She couldn't say anything more.
"When she glanced up and looked at me, I bolted out of the store. After all of my uh, counselling, I kinda figured it would be bad to stay around."
"You made the right choice. Damn." Lapis' frown turned into one eyebrow raised. "Wait, why were you in a gift store?"
"I, um, was looking for a gift. For you." Jasper shrugged sheepishly. "Yanno, 'cause I was gone for longer this time."
"Aw, you big softie."
"Yeah, yeah, I know."
Lapis thought back to Malachite. After she left the school, she had no idea where she went. Never bothered to ask Jasper either. It never seemed appropriate with both of their issues with her.
"You know, I never asked where 'Chite went after she left the school," Lapis reminisced. "I was mad at her, at you, and then after that it never seemed important."
"Oh, yeah." Jasper frowned. "There were rumours she went to a psych ward or hospital or something. Other rumours were she was arrested. She told me her family was leaving the state. Never knew which were lies and what was the truth. Whatever happened, she's still alive."
"Oh. Well, I'd mark Boston off your map for a returning visit."
Jasper grinned. "Heh, yeah."
Two waitresses came over to the table, one picking up the plates and the other leaning over the table as gracefully as possible. Opal and Sardonyx.
"How are you two lovelies tonight?" the latter asked, beaming with her crooked bright teeth.
"Sardonyx, Opal, you've met Jasper before. My half-sister." Lapis mimicked Sardonyx's smile. "Yeah, we're good. Just catching up for the first time in a while."
"That's great to hear! Would you two like a drink on the house? For Jasper's return, of couse."
"Y'know, I think I'll say yes," Jasper responded.
Lapis turned her grin to Jasper. It was about time she had some fun with her family.
It was a strange, old unit they had. The walls were bricks with no plaster or paint, just crumbling away in a oddly pleasant, rustic way. The red tiles that lined the roof only strengthened the rustic feeling. That, paired with the beach nearby, made it feel very homey. Almost like a stone version of the beach shack.
Pearl almost managed to knock on the mahogany door but it was pulled open before her knuckles reached it. She quickly corrected herself and hefted Steven into both of her arms comfortably (there was no point bringing the pram, it was impossible to lift it up the steps to the unit).
Amethyst swung the door open at full force and gave Pearl a wide grin.
"Yo, P! On time, like always."
"Good afternoon Amethyst," Pearl greeted as she stepped through the doorway, instantly being enveloped by warmth. The red bricked home had a fire burning in a furnace in the immediate lounge room, where Smokey was lying across a grey-brown couch in front of it.
Pearl hadn't realised she was shaking before. She cradled Steven closer to her chest, hoping to pass her warmth to him.
Amethyst grinned as Pearl sat down on the other couch (which, to Pearl's dissatisfaction, didn't match the first in colour), opting to sit next to her.
"Steven's been excited to see you, as per usual," Pearl commented, smiling now. "He keeps pointing to you on the family photos we have."
"Aww, really?" Amethyst rubbed her neck abashedly.
"Kid loves you dude," Smokey complimented, then raised their hand in greeting. "Hey Pearl."
"Hello Smokey. How have you two been lately?"
"Y'know, the usual." Amethyst shrugged. "Work, chilling, et cetera."
"I expected to hear about parties," Pearl admitted.
Smokey got up off the couch. "Do you or Steven want anything?"
"Ah, a tea would be nice thanks! Don't worry about Steven, I have stuff packed for him."
Smokey nodded and wandered off to the kitchen.
Amethyst watched her sibling for a moment before trailing her eyes to Steven. "I mean, yeah, the odd house party workmates invite me to, I go to. Nothing crazy."
Pearl hummed. She didn't really expect different; everyone had grown up a little bit more, and nobody really had the time anymore for parties.
In her lap, Steven smiled lazily and closed his eyelids.
"What's up with Ste-man? He's usually awake around other people," Amethyst asked.
"Well, Rose took him earlier to Funland Park, and he had quite a time there. He's a bit tuckered out from that."
"And you didn't go?" Amethyst pressed, raising an eyebrow.
Pearl looked away. "W-well, no, but that's because arcades and shows like that don't really interest me. It gave me time to study anyways."
"Dude, Steven is your son and Rose is your girlfriend. You're supposed to go on outings with your family!" Amethyst scolded, raising her voice a little.
Pearl blushed a little. "I know, I know. But Steven's with me now, and I'll be with Rose soon."
Amethyst bit her lip. "So I guess you'll be leaving in a moment?"
Smokey came back with a tray of three drinks; a tea, hot chocolate, and can of soft drink. They took the warm cup of hot chocolate.
Pearl took a sip of her tea. She came so often to Amethyst's and Smokey's apartment that they didn't even need to ask about how she liked tea anymore. Most of the time it was to drop off Steven for 'daycare'. After all, both of them loved Steven, and he loved both back.
Well, Steven loved everyone. Everyone he had ever met he giggled and waggled his tiny hands at, staring with fascination in his eyes. Most people couldn't resist his charm.
Pearl smiled. Steven was going to be a handsome child with that personality.
Amethyst sipped her cool drink then settled it back down onto the coffee table. "Here, pass him over."
Pearl carried Steven from her arms into Amethyst's lap, where she looked at him fondly. Pearl hadn't seen her give that look to anyone else other than… Garnet, really.
"So," Pearl awkwardly started, taking a sip of her tea. "How are you and Garnet doing?"
Amethyst groaned. "The usual. On and offness. I don't mind, really. Why do you have to ask?"
Pearl raised her arms in defence. "I was just asking. I thought since Garnet came back, you two would be back together."
"Well… I don't know. Garnet's not really into seeing people, and I'm really into it. We're polar opposites in the scheme of things, yanno?"
Pearl hummed. She didn't personally understand that, but she knew Peridot and Lapis were sort of polar opposites. "Did you talk to her about polyamory?"
Amethyst sheepishly stared at Steven snuggled soundly in her lap. "Nah, not yet."
Pearl rolled her eyes amusedly. "You know I'm just pushing you for your own good."
"She's right," Smokey butted in, dragging their eyes away from their phone, giving Amethyst an honest look. "Dude, just ask about an open relationship and you can be with Garnet properly, instead of this on and off thing you have."
Amethyst groaned loudly, throwing her neck onto the frame of the couch. "You guys, stop interfering with my relationships. You're not my parents."
Pearl grinned. "Okay, sure. We all know if you don't do it, Garnet will anyways."
Amethyst almost groaned again until baby Steven made a few noises, sounding his awakening.
"Hey Steven!" she greeted, returning to a normal sitting position and grinning at him.
He made more happy noises in reply.
Pearl smiled and checked her phone. Drinking the rest of her tea, she stood up, leaving her bag full of Steven's things on the couch and tugging her jacket closer to her body.
"Well, I'm off to pick up Rose."
Amethyst nodded, along with Smokey, both almost solemnly. "Okay, yeah. You two… have fun? That's not right."
Pearl also nodded in understanding. "Alright, we'll pick Steven up tonight. Remember to change his nappy! And to use the right chair when you guys have dinner! And—"
"Alright, got it P." Amethyst mocked a captain salute, then waved. "Seeya Pearl."
Back into the cold.
Pearl huffed into the collar of her thick jacket and quickly hopped into her car. Immediately she threw the heater on and pulled out of the driveway.
Rose was at the Big Donut. It's what she did on days like these. Pearl pulled up at the small friendly store shortly after leaving Amethyst's and Smokey's unit. The car had already gotten cozily warm and she didn't really want to leave. She texted Rose instead.
Pearl [4:28PM]: Hey! I'm outside the Big Donut in the car. Waiting for you x
Rose didn't need to reply. In a few minutes, Pearl watched her exit the store and quickly fumble her way over to the car.
She jumped into the passenger seat of the car, rubbing her gloved hands together, but quickly sighing in the heater's warmth. Pearl leant over and quickly pressed a kiss on her cheek.
"You ready?" she asked, already igniting the car.
Rose smiled. "As ready as I'll ever be, as per usual." She dropped the cup of coffee she had in her hand in the cup holder and leant back into the seat comfortably.
"How were Sadie and Lars?"
"Lars was complaining, as per usual."
Pearl held back a snort. She didn't really know the two of them apart from when Rose dragged her there, but she knew Lars' attitude.
Rose's smile turned into a grin. "But hey, it's why everyone loves him. It makes him surprisingly fun to be around."
"I'm surprised the both of them are still working there. I thought they would've gone to college by now, or at least a better job," Pearl admitted, driving away from the Big Donut and through the town.
"Why would they want to when they have amazing customers like myself?" Rose joked, making herself giggle a little.
Pearl merely laughed in agreement. Rose was pretty great.
They kept chatting throughout the drive, until the town became sparse and parks surrounded them.
Rose became quiet as Pearl parked the car. She grabbed the bouquet at her feet. Pearl noticed her silence, as per usual, and entangled her fingers with hers after they both got out of the car.
It was pointless asking if Rose was okay, so Pearl just offered her physical support.
The two of them walked through the gates hand-in-hand, Pearl giving Rose's palm the odd squeeze. She much preferred the soft texture of her hand than the fluffy glove, but that was probably just her.
Pearl kept her eyes ahead, scanning out the area. She didn't really need to. She came with Rose so often that the steps they took were ingrained like an unforgettable pattern.
Walk past the five old memorials, turn left at Ms. Baker's headstone, go forward four more strides, and so forth.
Rose stopped, and with her free hand, she gently placed the bouquet of pink tulips against Scarlett's gravestone. Pearl slowly let go of Rose's hand, and instead, wrapped her arm around her waist and pulled her close.
She did that every time.
"Pearl, this might be the last time I come in a while," Rose spoke in a hushed tone. She had a sad smile playing on her lips. "I don't want Steven to know about this place."
Pearl didn't think it was something to hide from their son. But it was Rose's past, and her decision. So Pearl nodded against her shoulder.
Some part of Lapis' brain was yelling at her to regret this.
But she couldn't. Steven looked so curious and excited to meet someone new, and…
Rose and Pearl sat close together on the couch, Steven cradled in the former's arms. Lapis watched the baby with half lidded eyes.
… and this was her idea after all.
Lapis turned around and slid open the front door. She watched Jasper's sandy hair tangle with the wind as she leant over the balcony.
"You don't have to look so dramatic," Lapis scoffed as she came to Jasper's side.
Jasper smiled amusedly. "Yeah, yeah, I know. This is just a big thing, yanno?"
"Yeah, I understand."
It took a bit of talking to make Jasper come. She had gone on another road trip around the state after Lapis first popped the question, which had irritated her quite a bit. But, she reminded herself, this was Jasper's recovery, not her own.
After disappearing from Beach City for two weeks, Jasper finally came back, knocking on Lapis' door with resolute and a tad of shame.
"I had a talk with Mum," Jasper had admitted at the door to Lapis' and Peridot's apartment.
Sympathy had clawed at Lapis' ribcage and she let Jasper in immediately.
Lapis accompanied Jasper to one of her sporadic counselling sessions, and even then it was highly advised.
So, the two found themselves here.
"Are you going to be okay?" Lapis asked, resting her hand on Jasper's forearm.
Jasper huffed. "Yeah, I think so. Um, I mean, they're not as bad as Malachite. Right?"
Jasper pulled herself off the balcony and took a deep breath in. She gave Lapis a confident nod, and the latter lead the way back inside. Pearl and Rose were sitting on the couch just as before, and Steven's eyes were looking right over her shoulder. Straight at Jasper.
"Hi," Jasper awkwardly greeted. Lapis grabbed her hand and lead her to the recliner. Jasper stood hesitantly.
"Sit," Lapis ordered, pushing her gently by the shoulders into the seat.
Jasper reluctantly obeyed and sunk into the recliner. Lapis pulled a chair from the dining table and sat beside her.
"Hello Jasper, how was your recent road trip?" Pearl asked, forcing a smile. Lapis wasn't sure if she appreciated that Pearl was trying to smile, or irritated that it needed to be forced.
"Um…" Jasper massaged a thumb into her thigh anxiously. "Yeah, it was good. Uh. Yeah."
Lapis squeezed her arm reassuringly. "Hey, it's okay. There's no need to be afraid."
"Okay." Jasper took a silent heavy breath, and looked up at her two hosts, trying for a smile. "Sorry. Just a bit nervous."
"That's alright," Rose assured. In her arms, Steven continued to stare at Jasper happily, his dark eyes alive with curiosity. Rose bobbed him a little. "This is Steven. Would you like to say hi Steven?"
Steven made a vague hand gesture and hummed a baby noise. Lapis immediately grinned affectionately. Jasper was a little harder to break, but Lapis saw the corner of her mouth twitch.
"How old is he?" she asked.
"He just turned seven months recently," Pearl recalled.
"Wow, seven months. I didn't realise you two were parents for that long."
Rose smiled, her eyes crinkling up. "Honestly, it's mind-baffling to us too. It only feels like yesterday we took Steven home for the first night."
"You remember that?" Lapis asked, raising an eyebrow. "I thought you would've, like, passed out straight away from exhaustion and pain."
"Well, kinda," Rose admitted with a giggle. "But I can't forget Steven's birth. We both love him dearly."
"I think everyone loves him," Lapis countered, grinning. "Well, except maybe big buff Jasper here. Don't worry, she'll break."
Jasper frowned and fumbled with her hands for a moment. "Hey, don't tell them I'm actually a softie."
She pretended to roll her eyes, and focused on Steven in Rose's arms.
"He's kinda cute," she admitted, eyeing the first signs of dark curls on his head.
"Well, Rose is his biological mother," Pearl teased, shoulder bumping her girlfriend.
Rose scoffed good-naturedly. "He'd be even luckier to have you as his biological mother."
"Okay, cut off the flirting you two," Lapis interrupted.
"As if you and Peridot don't flirt all the time," Pearl remarked, smiling coyly.
Jasper looked away, concentrating on her hands in her lap.
Rose glanced at her, a serious look in her eyes. "Hey, did you want to talk about… things?"
"No, not yet."
Rose silently nodded, then bit her lip in thought. She gave Steven a loving smile. "Would you like to hold Steven? I'm sure he'd love to say hi up close."
Jasper's eyes bulged a little. "Uh…"
Lapis squeezed her arm again.
"… I guess so?"
Rose's smile grew and she hefted Steven up, ambling towards Jasper. She stared at anywhere but Rose.
"Here," she offered, bending her knees a little and extending Steven a bit. With a bit of hesitation, Jasper outstretch her hands and picked the baby up, bringing him close to her midsection.
Lapis couldn't help the proud smile. Jasper had come so far, and to see her holding such a small child in her enormous hands with such care really sparked something in her.
"Hey Steven," she greeted not for the first time, waggling her fingers at him.
He giggled back, and Jasper finally broke, her awkward forced smile resembling something more natural and relaxed.
"He's sweet. I thought all babies cried and screamed," Jasper blurted, now focusing on the dark eyes continually staring back at her.
"He never was a screamer," Pearl acknowledged, chuckling a little, "But he does cry quite often."
"Oh yes, never forget the countless nights we had to stay up comforting him," Rose added, faking a sigh. She beamed.
Pearl laughed again. "But he is our little sunshine."
Lapis found herself grinning along at the anecdote, but watched Jasper.
She was finally getting the closure she needed.
Lapis' hand around her own felt very comforting in the freezing weather outside. Peridot wished she had gloves. In fact, she'd probably buy some right afterwards.
The cafe's bright lights were attractive in the dull winter afternoon. Inside, Peridot could see quite a few people crowding around tables and the fireplace, all sharing warmth.
"Come on, let's go in already!" Peridot insisted, dragging Lapis behind her. They'd been out of the car for a total of two seconds and she was already feeling her entire body shake at the cold.
Lapis didn't disagree and let herself be dragged by the hand into the homey cafe.
The warmth hit her in the face like a brick wall, and Peridot swore her glasses were already misting up. She glanced around the full cafe, and spotted what she was looking for.
"Over here," Peridot stated pointlessly, as she was still holding onto Lapis' hand and guiding her.
The couple squeezed through the masses and eventually reached a table by the windows of the cafe, a little further away from the fireplace than everywhere else, but also less crowded.
Peridot grinned. On the other side of the table, Iris and her mother sat, both with steaming drinks in front of them.
"Hey Mum!" Peridot greeted, and moved over to give her a brief hug. Lapis did the same with Iris.
"Hey you two," Iris addressed once the four of them sat down. She wore a cheeky smile. "How have you been? It's been so long!"
"Oh, it's been great!" Peridot exclaimed, grinning broadly. "College is coming to a close soon, but that's okay! Lapis, why don't you tell them how great it's been for you!"
Lapis snorted. "Of course dork. You remember my friend Greg, right Mum? Well, he's been taking me out sometimes for small gigs, and I'm really getting the hang of it! I actually got to perform one of my originals too."
"Oh, that's amazing Lapis!" Iris praised.
"Yes, that does sound like quite the pleasant scenario," Daisy added in, smiling slightly. "Do you two want anything? I'll pay."
"It's alright Mum, I can pay," Peridot insisted.
"Who's the one who owns a business?" Daisy pointed to herself smugly, then quickly pointed to Iris too. "I'm sure we have more money than the both of you. Anyways, it's my treat, since I haven't seen my daughter for so long."
Peridot gave in. "Alright. I think I'll have a chai latte."
"I'll have a cappuccino, thanks," Lapis added in.
Daisy nodded and got up from her seat after finishing her own cup of coffee.
Iris watched Daisy for a short moment before excitedly gazing back towards Peridot and Lapis. "Tell me about your first show!"
Lapis rubbed her hand across her sleeve. "Well, it wasn't really a show, just a small gig. But it was freakin' awesome! Like, the whole crowd was cheering on, and Greg was really living in the moment so it helped me feel a lot more confident. And everyone loved my original! They're really sweet at the pub."
"You should've told me when you were performing!" Iris sighed exaggeratedly. "I would've loved to watch my daughter's first gig."
"Psh, yeah." Lapis smiled anyways. "I'll invite you to the next one, okay?"
"As you should," Iris replied with a mocking tone.
Daisy returned and slumped back in her seat. "Oh, are you two bickering about already? It's been five minutes."
Iris poked her tongue out. "Just because you don't know how to have fun."
Daisy scoffed but said no more. Peridot grinned at that.
"So now that our lives have been evaluated, how have yours been?" she asked, propping her elbows on the table.
"Well, business has been good. We've had quite a few medical agencies interested in our virtual reality technology," Daisy boasted. "A video game company has been interested in working with us too - I thought that might be something you'd like."
"True, it would be, but business is boooring," Peridot whined, dragging out the last word. "I want to hear about your actual lives, not about work."
Daisy smiled amusedly, but Iris butted in. "Yes, despite all the good business stuff, things have been pretty alright lately. We decided that it would be good to move in together - of course, financially, it doesn't matter. But it's been…" Iris glanced at Daisy, "Lonely for quite a while, since both of you moved to the city."
"Iris is neglecting the fact that we work together almost every day," Daisy added in, raising eyebrows at her counterpart. "And that she bought a dog. Seriously, how can you call yourself lonely when you have a dog?"
Iris pouted. "Human companionship is still desired."
Daisy rolled her eyes, but smiled nonetheless.
"So I take it you two have been well," Lapis concluded, watching the spectacle with interest. "You should've told me you got a dog! I would've come visit more often!"
"So you'd come for the dog, but not me, your own mother?" Iris questioned dramatically, laughing a little bit.
Lapis faux shrugged nonchalantly. "Probably. What is the dog's name?"
"She named her Greenie. Greenie." Daisy rolled her eyes again.
Lapis snorted. "Oh my god, what sort of a name is that? I'm so glad I wasn't born when you had these naming skills."
"She symbolises Daisy and I's moving in together." Iris frowned. "It represents our colour schemes! Blue and yellow!"
Lapis merely raised an eyebrow. "You're terrible Mum."
"I tell her that everyday," Daisy mentioned, which earned her a shove in the shoulder. "It does nothing."
"You two just don't understand true beauty when you hear it," Iris argued playfully.
Peridot cleared her throat as their drinks came in. "Well, I for one think it's a great name!"
"That's because green is your favourite colour," Lapis deadpanned, then took a sip of her coffee.
"W-well, yeah! Doesn't make my opinion less worthy!"
Peridot huffed. "Well at least someone is taking Iris' side."
"Thank you, Peridot." Iris smiled.
Peridot grinned back and sipped at her chai. It was so nice to see her mother again, and from the fondness Lapis was displaying, she guessed she enjoyed seeing Iris again too.
They talked until their drinks were finished - it didn't feel like enough time. It had been months since either Peridot or Lapis had seen their parents (she really should catch up with her father along with Jasper sometime), and it was hard to condense those months into an hour of talking.
But it was okay. They'd see each other again (very soon if Lapis' excitement over a dog was an indicator).
Crowds upon crowds of kids rushed through the front doors, eager to finish the school day and finally return home. Some pushed and shoved, others tended to stick to the walls. Some parted ways on their own, some walked in groups, some ran onto buses, some stalked the car park.
Peridot watched it all from the other side of the street. Lapis watched too, but with less visible interest.
"This is weird," Peridot stated, but didn't make a move to leave. Besides, she wasn't the driver.
Lapis' hands tapped against the steering wheel. "What, watching kids or feeling nostalgic?"
Lapis smiled. "Yeah, it's weird. I mean, look over there - they've added more classroom blocks. The school looks a whole lot bigger now."
"They cut down half of the garden," Peridot scrutinised, frowning a bit.
"Yeah, that sucks. I really liked sitting with you under that big tree."
Peridot hummed. "Do you miss it?"
"No, high school."
Lapis raised her eyebrows in disbelief.
Peridot sighed quietly. "Y'know, not like the homework and early mornings and sometimes shitty days depending where you were. I'm talking about just going to a place where there's so many people your age to meet and be with, and to just have that regular socialising. To be really young still, and have so many opportunities for things."
"We're still young," Lapis pointed out. "But yeah. High school is unique. I don't really miss it."
Peridot was quiet for a moment. "I do. I miss meeting you for the first time, and I miss seeing everyone everyday."
"Huh." Lapis bit her lip thoughtfully, and continued to look out the window at the stream of kids parting and becoming smaller and smaller specks. "The only thing I really miss is living with Mum, I guess. But that's sweet of you Peri."
"There's just…" Peridot hesitated and thread her hands together. "There's just so many fond memories! I want to relive them all. Not specifically at high school, just of that time period. Like—like when you first broke your tough guy persona and talked to me! Or when you invited everyone to the tavern and we had a blast with Greg! Even that party we went to and, yanno, you kissed me."
Lapis smiled coyly. "I'm pretty sure you kissed me."
Peridot waved it off. "Whatever. But don't you want to relive those memories? Like, get that nostalgic feeling?"
"Well, yeah," Lapis admitted. "But we can do heaps of fun stuff now, not just back then."
Peridot felt her heart ache for the past. "I don't know. Yeah, we can, but there's just that feeling. It's really strong. I like it - like feeling like this. Just… thanks. For bring us back here."
"No problem." Lapis smiled. "Where to next?"
Peridot eyed the last student leave the premises of the high school. She wanted to feel it all again, everything she had gone through with her friends, her mother, Lapis, everyone. But Lapis was right - they could still do everything they did back then.
"Can we go to the hill beside the Big Donut? Maybe grab a donut whilst we're in the area?" she asked, leaning against the window.
"Uh-huh." Lapis put the car into drive and took off down the road through the centre of town. They passed by numerous shops that Peridot remembered in her high school years - sometimes she wished they didn't move to the city.
Lapis parked the car in front of the Big Donut. When Peridot got out, she felt the salty air of the beach breeze through her hair. It was cold, but it was a nice feeling.
Inside, Sadie greeted them both. Lars was nowhere to be seen, but Peridot wasn't entirely surprised. Lapis ordered two donuts for them each, and after a quick conversation with Sadie, the two left the warmth of the shop, cradling a bag of donuts and a drink to their chest.
Lapis left her car where it was and the two of them hiked up the nearby hill. Peridot held Lapis' hand on the way up - the warmth was nice.
The view on top of the hill was great like always. Peridot imagined the two of them sitting on the hill in their formal attire, next to Pearl and Rose sharing donuts.
"Remember when we had a double date with Rose and Pearl?" Peridot asked, plonking down on the grass and crossing her legs. Lapis followed suit.
"Yeah, kinda? We went to a restaurant, and then we sat here under the stars afterwards."
Peridot hummed her confirmation. "We should definitely go on another date."
"Yeah? You asking me on a date Peri?" Lapis asked in a mocking tone.
Peridot blushed a little. "Maybe? It's just been so long."
"Of course I'll go on a date with you, dork," Lapis teased, shoulder bumping Peridot before stuffing a donut in her mouth.
Peridot grinned and took a bite from her own donut. Looking back on it all, everything felt like a consequence of meeting Lapis. Coming out of her shell, finding her romanticism, experiencing a relationship, knowing her friends better, and… and well, there was some bad stuff Peridot was sure she wouldn't've been aware of if it weren't for Lapis.
Lapis shoulder bumped her again, then squeezed Peridot's hand in her own. "Hey, what are you thinking about?"
"About meeting you," Peridot nonchalantly replied.
"Since when did you become mushy?" Lapis laughed.
"Well, what if I didn't talk to you the first time I saw you? My friends pressured me to do it, and I almost didn't. Everything would be different," Peridot reminisced.
Lapis shrugged. "That's generally how time works, Peri. One little thing different and the whole timeline changes."
"Just…" Peridot sighed and took another bite of her donut. "I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm really thankful I met you. I'm thankful you left your crap first high school and came to mine, and I'm thankful you didn't push me away every time I talked to you."
Lapis feigned annoyance then chuckled. "Dude, stop being so sappy. I mean… yeah, I'm thankful you even talked to me in the first place, but it's been years man."
"Sorry. Seeing the school again has just lit a lot of memories in me."
"It's okay." Lapis smiled sincerely and swallowed down the last of her donut.
"Hey," Peridot mumbled, and scooted closer to Lapis, leaning her head against her shoulder. "I love you. That's what I was trying to say."
Lapis grinned and snorted. "I love you too. That's all you had to say, you made it so complicated."
"Oh shush," Peridot faux snapped, pretending to be offended.
Lapis merely laughed again and trailed a finger under Peridot's chin, guiding her face up before giving her a kiss.
The sun glowed dimly in the dull sky on the horizon over their shoulders, and over the entire town of Beach City.
The memories never died; Peridot promised to remember each cherished moment with the girl who changed her life.
Lapis deserved that.
A/N: thank you, seriously EVERYONE, (i know i already said this but shuuuuSH) for everything you've said and done for this fic. honestly, it wouldn't've gotten this far without every review, fave, follow, ANYTHING, that this has gotten. when i first started writing this, it was just going to be a little fic about Peridot and Lapis having cute dates and conversations with a similar twist at the end, but it became so much more when you guys motivated me!-!
a LOT of the previous chapters have been edited - but nothing mindblowing. the biggest thing really was emphasising Yellow's and White's past relationship and removing the replacement partners context thing. all errors regarding continuity have been fixed too!
Little Snuggle: honestly i've read your review like 10 times, thank u so much. every review you've left has been a pleasure to read, and this one's no exception! almost got teary-eyed there, reading it (you're too kind). but thank you SO much for sticking with the story from beginning to end, and i hope this finale is satisfying!
Jester of chaos: awwWW you're too sweet! i hope it turned out to be the great ending you sought for!
StoppedGalaxy: throws the Gamethyst
Popcorn: i'm so glad you enjoy the way i wrote Jasper! honestly she's been a blast to write, and because of that she's become a much more appealing character to me than when i first started watching the show (literally only like a week or two before i started writing this fic in September)
Moony: omg thank u so much!-!-! that really means a lot to me omg
NekusS: thank you so much for the review! honestly i'm really glad i got those reactions out of you, even if one was crying
thank you everyone, present or future, for reading this fic, and have a good day/night!-!