A/N: admittedly this chapter is not as interesting as i wanted it to be, but oh well

thank u everyone for the support so far!


Someone New

Peridot's sickness had been reduced to ashes in the next few days. Unfortunately, those ashes still made her cough, but she was almost 100% better. After laying in bed almost every day to sleep away the cold (flu? She still couldn't tell what she was sick with), she had been entirely energised and ready for college. Which is where she found herself now.

Peridot eyed the clock on her computer, watching the minutes roll over with complete disinterest as she stuffed a couple of chips in her mouth. Chicken flavoured crisps, as she preferred (and not just for the green packaging, but it was a bonus).

Peridot's index finger clacked against the mouse absentmindedly as stared down her assignment write up, the text cursor blinking at her patiently. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy her class; quite the opposite, she was finally learning how to craft her dreamed characters into 3D models. It was writing. Her skills in the writing department were, well, just above average. She was perfectly fine with grammar and spelling, but forming detailed sentences was just hard. It was hard enough to figure out the words she wanted to say, nevertheless to write.

She sighed. She'd need Lapis' help with this.

Lapis wasn't the, uh, best student in school, having to repeat a year before Peridot had come to know her and being generally careless about her work ethic, but she had an unusual talent for writing. From essays to poems, English was neatly tucked away with A grades amongst the rest of her C grades. It was something she was oddly proud of, and Peridot dared to allow Lapis smugly shove it in her face.

Deciding just that, she closed out of her document and ejected her hard drive, shutting down her computer for the day. The lecturer waved her goodbye as Peridot stuffed her belongings into her bag and left the room.

The weather had finally settled into its season, and a chilly wind breezed through Peridot's hair as she strode outside and towards her bus stop. The sun was still shining bright in the sky but the temperature had cooled down to one much more tolerable, and for that Peridot was thankful. Summer had been a few months ago, and they were nearing the end of autumn. It was about time the climate caught up.

As Peridot waited at the bus stop with one other student, her phone pinged with a standard message sound. A text from the library she realised as she tugged it out of her hoodie pocket. One of her books on hold had come in and it had only been a few days. Peridot smiled, grateful that it wasn't one of the long waits she had endured before (she had waited up to three months for book holds before).

The bus arrived shortly after, and Peridot found herself walking to the library after getting off at her normal stop, instead of taking her usual second bus to the apartments. She greeted the library doors with a hopeful smile; if she was lucky, her favourite librarian would be there. Killing two birds with one stone, so to say.

When she walked in, the library was much more busy than the last time. Little kids scampered around the children's area, being loud and boisterous (Peridot wondered where their parents were), and adults crowded around the computers and lounges, many with their faces stuck in books. There was no line at the front desk currently, but Peridot's spirits sank a little bit when she noticed there was no Pearl at the computer, rather one of the elder women.

She debated whether she really wanted her book on hold; the lemon-faced woman at the counter was rather intimidating, and Peridot didn't feel like choking on her words today. She gruffly browsed the fantasy section in thought.

Screw it. Getting her hands on the book was worth going through whatever irrational fear the librarian sparked in her. She hastily rounded the corner of the fantasy shelves and nearly ran face first into someone. Her heart thudded against her ribs like war drums; she received the fright prematurely. People who appeared out of nowhere were amongst the top of her jumpscare list.

She went to apologise quickly and rush to the counter, but the person she almost slammed into beat her to it.

"Oh, Peridot!" the not-so-stranger cried out in surprise. "I'm so sorry, I didn't see you coming!"

Peridot was forced to gaze up at Pearl, and her previous hope returned, along with her cheeks heating up and the war drums pounding just a little less in her chest.

"Sorry! I wasn't watching where I was going," Peridot admitted sheepishly, and eyed the books that had tumbled out of the librarians arms and littered the floor around her feet. "Here, let me help."

"Oh no, it's alright!" Pearl started, but Peridot was already down on the ground and collecting the strewn books into a small pile. She carried them up and held them out, wearing a proud smile. "Ah, thank you Peridot."

"You're welcome!" Peridot replied over-enthusiastically. Before an awkward silence settled in, she quickly added, "Well, I'm off to the counter, see you later Pearl!"

Pearl blinked, then seemingly jolted awake. "Oh! Your book has come in. I'll go get it."

Peridot watched Pearl rush to the counter, abandoning the books she previously had in her hands in the trolley beside the aisle, and disappear into the staff area behind it. Peridot raised a curious eyebrow and followed after, fiddling with her hands in her pockets. She sent one glance at the other librarian and inched away. The librarian didn't even acknowledge her as she waited, merely tapping away at the keyboard for a few moments before she got up and vanished into the maze of shelves.

Pearl finally returned, her smile shaky and a noticeable red tinge blooming on her cheeks. She dropped the book on the counter carefully and played around on the computer for a few seconds before she asked, "May I have your card?" like every other time.

Peridot handed over her card, but something seemed… different. She couldn't pinpoint what, but Pearl seemed more flustered than usual. Maybe she was still recovering from almost being ran into? Peridot put it as that.

"So how has your day been?" Pearl asked. Peridot indulged in the chit-chat.

"Alright. College as per usual."

"And how's your sickness?"

Peridot smiled as Pearl handed her card back, revelling in the librarian's trembling, soft fingertips grazing over her hand. "I'm all better!"

"That's good." Pearl mirrored Peridot's smile, but the shakiness was still there. "Well, uh, have a n-nice day."

Peridot slid her book off the counter and under her arm, but gave Pearl a contemplative frown. She could've left then and there, but something was nipping at her conscience. Pearl acted nervous at best.

"Are you okay?" Peridot asked, hoping her gaze wasn't becoming suspicious. She didn't want Pearl to think she was judging her.

"I—me? Yes! Y-yes, I'm quite alright!" Pearl answered, waving her hand in the air with a forced chuckle.

Peridot scrutinised her words. If Pearl was lying about her okay-ness, then Peridot supposed it wasn't her place to ask about what was really wrong.

"Okay," Peridot simply replied, replacing her questioning look with an encouraging smile. Pearl might've needed it for whatever she was afraid of. "Have a good afternoon, Pearl!"

"Um, you too," Peridot heard Pearl squeak out as she left the library.

Peridot slung her bag from her shoulder, sticking the book into it. She was looking forward to reading half of her afternoon away. As she reached the bus stop once again, waiting for her bus home, she thought about the expression Pearl wore. It seemed like… fear. Peridot frowned thoughtfully. She hoped Pearl wasn't in danger.

By the time she got home, she had shook the thought away. Whatever Pearl was facing, she'd be fine. She didn't look like she was afraid for her life, so it couldn't've been too bad.

…Right?

Peridot settled down on the couch. Lapis was home surprisingly, and unsurprisingly she was doubled over watching her fish in their aquarium.

Peridot spun around on the couch, peeking her head over the couch frame and resting her chin on it. "Why do you stare at your fish?"

"Pumpkin and Veggie-head are interesting."

Peridot scoffed. "They're fish. How can they be interesting?"

"I also bought a Siamese fighting fish today."

That had Peridot leaping over the couch and joining Lapis next to the fish tank. Well, tanks. Beside the larger aquarium was a slightly smaller one, where a black betta fish was lazily swimming through the still water. It came up to the glass and observed Peridot staring back at it. It's scale shined iridescent green and blue in the light.

"Do you have a name for it?" Peridot asked, eyes wide with amazement; admittedly, it was still a fish, but much more interesting than most other fish.

Lapis smiled the slightest at Peridot's happiness. "I know it's probably a dude, but I want to name her Malachite."

"Ooh, fancy! Keeping up with geological names, I see."

Peridot never understood Lapis' fascination with fish. When they moved in together after high school came to an end, Lapis already had the two fish - Pumpkin, a comet goldfish, and Veggie-head, a black moor. She often found Lapis sitting in front of the tank, staring at the fish staring back at her. Peridot chose not to question why she did this most times.

Lapis didn't reply, merely let her smile grow as she wandered into the kitchen and boiled the kettle. Peridot watched Malachite drift through the tank for a few more moments before she shook away her enticement and went back to lounging on the couch. Despite almost everything else Lapis owned being old and less than pleasing, the couch was probably the best thing she owned - a soft, black two-seater lounge. She often found Lapis sleeping on the couch rather than her own bed.

Peridot nestled herself into the cushions and made herself very comfortable as she took her book out of her bag, reading the blurb (even though she had read it many times before) before she flipped to the first page.

Her fingers grazed against something on the inside of the front cover - a pink sticky note.

The war drums were thumping against her rib cage again, louder than any she heard in movies, louder than thunder booming in the sky. Before she could stop herself, Peridot cried out, "OH MY GOD!"

"What?" Lapis asked from the kitchen, her tone indicating she was very interested in what Peridot had found. She lumbered over to the couch, a mug of coffee in one hand, and peered over Peridot's shoulder. The book went flying across the room and thudded against the floor next to the TV before she could get a glimpse of anything.

"Nothing!" Peridot squealed, standing stiffly straight up. Her eyes almost popped out of their sockets when Lapis quickly stalked over to the book and grabbed it. "Wait, no, Lapis! Don't!"

"Oh? Why not?" Lapis asked, already thumbing the pages and giving Peridot a sly smile.

Peridot leapt to her feet and bounded over to Lapis, but the latter had at least a foot of height on her and held the book above her head.

"Lapis!" Peridot shrieked, her entire body thundering with… something. She didn't know what.

"Oh c'mon Peridot, it's just a book. I want a peek," Lapis justified, rolling her eyes. She flicked through to the first page, and her smug smile grew. She echoed Peridot. "Oh my god. You got a someone's number."

"I didn't mean to!" Peridot snapped, reaching for the book again. Lapis finally dropped it into her hands and she desperately cradled it to her chest, trying to ignore the hotness in her face. The content's of the sticky note were glued to the inside of her mind. Dizziness plagued her head at the thought of it; a number followed by '- Pearl xx'.

"So, who is this Pearl?" Lapis asked, cutting to the chase as she sat down on the sofa, her cup of coffee back in her hand. She wore a legitimate grin.

Peridot stood still and kept the book close to her chest, trying to will the proud grin curving her lips to die down. "Nobody! Just somebody. Somebody attractive. You don't know her. She's cool."

Lapis raised an eyebrow. "Doesn't sound like nobody. You like her."

"No I don't! Of course not! I'm just so happy that this is real. Is this real? Oh my god Pearl just gave me her number."

"You're rambling. You only ramble when you're excited."

Peridot stayed silent and eyed Lapis with a glint in her eyes.

"Tell me about Pearl," Lapis encouraged, taking a sip of her drink.

Peridot gave in. She collapsed into the couch next to Lapis. "She's this cool librarian at the local library. She's got really pretty hair. And face. And everything."

"I wonder what you did to get her number," Lapis wondered.

"I don't know! I, erm, accidentally flirted with her a few times, but that's it!"

"Oh my god." Lapis shook her head amusedly. "You should definitely ring her tonight."

"I can't call her!" Peridot squeaked, almost falling off the couch at the prospect of hearing Pearl's voice on the phone.

It was at that point that Lapis decided to stop talking, as most conversations went - at a seemingly random point, she would always stop talking. Peridot never knew if there was a specific reason or timing to Lapis going quiet, or if it was just filling her socialisation quota.

Lapis merely gave Peridot's shoulder a squeeze and left the lounge room, most likely to nap in bed. Peridot wanted to be furious at Lapis for just leaving the conversation at that, but couldn't bring herself to be mad at anything. She got a phone number.

She got Pearl's flipping phone number.

Peridot's glare-that-never-came dissolved into a shy smile. So that's what Pearl was anxious about. In hindsight, she was actually quite brave. And not stupidly brave, like Peridot.

"So Pearl, not so subtle, heh heh," Peridot spoke aloud as she stared at her phone on the table. She opened the book and ripped the sticky note out, pasting it to her phone's screen and staring at it in awe. It was real.

Nobody showed interest in her when she was younger. Peridot supposed that was because she was cold, distant, and anti-social, but she wished people knew it was an act. It would've been nice to be liked.

There was only ever really one person who made contact before Lapis, and that was Jasper. A sports enthusiast with legs the size of tree trunks and hands big enough to pop someone's skull. She almost always seemed to wear a cocky smile, and liked to prove people wrong, and sometimes even terrify people by towering over them, but she wasn't a bad person. Everyone still thought she was a bully anyways, even Peridot.

So the day when Jasper collapsed at her lonesome table at lunch break, singlet showing off her toned arms, was the day when Peridot nearly toppled off her table with fear.

She was wearing her signature cocky smile, but she wasn't terrifying Peridot purposefully, so that was a start.

"Hey pipsqueak," she introduced, her voice gruff and intimidating, "Mind if I sit here?"

"Uh, no," Peridot managed to reply, swallowing her fear and keeping her attitude distant. She had kept her eyes trained on her food the entire time, too afraid to lay a single glance on the brute in front of her.

"Cool."

And it had started at that. Jasper never told her why she decided to bother talking to her in the first place, and she suspected she would've known if it weren't for her break up with Lapis.

Admittedly, despite all the bad omen around her, Peridot sometimes missed Jasper.

Peridot brought herself back to the present and eyed the phone with more vigour. She wanted to call Pearl now, get it over and done with. But she knew Pearl would be working until the library closed at 5pm, and it was only 3:18pm, and that was two hours of thinking of every word to say, every outcome of the conversation, every problem she could run into.

She tried reading for half an hour. After every page, Peridot would break her concentration away to think about the phone call, about the time of day, about Pearl, and then she'd have to convince herself to read the next page, only for the cycle to repeat.

It was annoying to say the least.

Peridot had gotten through six pages of her book in half an hour, and spent the next hour and 12 minutes staring from the sticky note, to her phone, to the television repeating an episode of a show her and Lapis often watched.

Lapis came out once between 3:18pm and 5pm, and only to get another coffee and stare at her aquarium for a few moments. At this point, Peridot was sure Lapis was being silent to spite her, for the fun of it all.

When 5pm hit, she immediately sprung off the couch, only to sink back into it again in realisation that Pearl wouldn't be let off right on the dot, and that she'd need some time at home to settle in for the night, and that she might be doing something after work, and—

Peridot cut off her train of thought and tried to calm her mind.

"Hey Lapis, what do you want for dinner?" she called out.

"It's 5pm Peridot, don't ask so much of me," Lapis shouted back jokingly.

Peridot grumbled to herself. "Do you want pizza tonight? I could do with some pizza."

"Yeah, sounds good."

Peridot kept that in mind as she paced around the apartment. She watched her feet fall against the floor with every step, the cycle somewhat soothing her. Cycles seemed to do that for her.

"You nervous?" Lapis asked, now suddenly leaning against the doorframe of her bedroom, an unreadable expression resting on her face.

"Yes!" Peridot cried out, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. "I've had almost two hours to think about this phone call, and now I'm all jittery and—ugh. Why do I have to overthink everything? Why can't I be—" Peridot put on a faux confident grin and let her arms loose, "—cool?"

"You scared?" Lapis questioned instead.

Peridot thought about that for a moment. "No. I want to talk to Pearl. I've just overthought everything and tried to predict everything that I or she could say, but I know I've missed things and it's going to throw me when we do talk."

"I wonder what she feels like," Lapis thought aloud.

"Hmm." Peridot considered this. She didn't know Pearl all that well in all honesty. Maybe she could ask about her life on the phone? That sounded reasonable. "I don't know. She seemed nervous when she gave me the book. It's possible she's nervous right now, like me."

"Well, then you're not alone." Lapis tried for an encouraging smile, but it fell after a few moments. "You'll be fine. If Pearl gave you her number, she obviously likes you. She won't say anything bad if you do manage to stuff up your talking."

"Hey," Peridot mumbled, frowning slightly.

"Sorry, that sounded more supportive in my head."

And with that, Lapis went back into her cave.

Peridot stared at her phone again for probably the 40th time in the past hour.

It was 5:09pm. Peridot decided to have a long shower to pass the time, despite the fact she already had one in the morning. She grabbed her phone and her pyjamas, heading to the bathroom and locking it behind her. Selecting a playlist on Soundcloud, she gazed at herself for a good few moments, not completely oblivious to the pink tinge in her cheeks, before she started undressing and hopped into the shower.

The water running down her body distracted her for a few moments, but she still played out possibilities of the phone call in her head. Different introductions, different topics, different wordings. It was hard to factor everything when there was another person involved. People were unpredictable. She didn't like that when she was younger, but now it made her happier, to be surprised by factors she hadn't thought of in day to day life.

Peridot sang in the shower to keep her mind at bay (it didn't matter to her if she was a terrible singer).

It was 5:33pm when Peridot was in her space-themed pyjamas, her hair dry against her previously damp skin, peering at her phone once again. She didn't really want Lapis to hear her conversation with Pearl, so she laid down on her somewhat messy bed (though nothing compared to Lapis') and held the phone close to her face.

It was a miracle the phone didn't slip from her hand once and hit her right in the nose.

Peridot held the sticky note in her other hand. Not entirely out of sheer boredom, she had memorised Pearl's number already. Her thumb grazed over the phone app, and it burst to life, showing the complete barren land of her recent calls. The last one was from weeks ago; her mum checking up on her.

Slowly, she tapped out each digit of Pearl's number. Afterwards Peridot would give her a prized place on her contacts list; a list of five people.

Peridot forced an odd calm over her mind. Well, she tried. Thoughts still nagged at her head, but she put on her brave face and tapped at the call button.

The phone rang once, twice, thrice, and somewhere between that and the fourth ring, the call was answered.

"Hello?" Pearl's distinctive voice greeted, and it seemed she knew it was Peridot because she heard the same nervous edge in it as earlier today.

"Hey Pearl. It's Peridot," she timidly replied, but breathed deeply and grinned at the fact that this was all happening for real. Someone she showed interest had shown interest back. It made a warmth seep into her chest.

"Oh, P-Peridot! I, um, see you, uh, read the… book."

"Yeah! I only got through six pages though."

Pearl's laugh was very strained from the other end. "I, um, didn't expect you to c-call."

"Why wouldn't I?" Peridot frowned. Did Pearl get ignored often? Or was she just pessimistic? She didn't realise a pessimistic bone even existed in Pearl.

"B-because I'm just a hopeless librarian." Another forced laugh that was devoid of joy. "Sorry, I'm driving you away."

"Hey, no, it's okay." Peridot bit her lip; she really wasn't expecting the conversation to turn upside-down so fast. "I've really wanted to talk to you for a while! But I wasn't really sure how to, erm, ask about numbers and contacts and such. So I'm really glad you gave me your number - in a pretty clever way too!"

"I'm sorry. This isn't something I do normally - like the whole thing." Peridot imagined Pearl was expressing her words with hand gestures - something she'd noticed often - and smiled. "I've never given my number out, or talk much over the phone at all. My friends convinced me to do this. But… I'm glad you want to t-talk. I didn't mean to be down about you calling."

"It's okay," Peridot repeated. "I personally think that was really brave of you!"

"Thank you, it wasn't exactly easy." Pearl hesitated. "But, um, would you maybe like to… c-catch up sometime? We can talk more then."

Peridot liked to think her previous comment gave Pearl a confidence boost. She grinned. "Heck yeah! Er, sorry, I'm a bit excited over this all."

"Th-that's okay! Would Friday afternoon be okay with you? Or Saturday, if that works better?"

Peridot checked her mental calendar - no college on Fridays. "Friday's good! Where do you want to meet up?"

"Um, do you know the Opalescent cafe in town centre?"

Peridot knew of the name - passed by it several times on the way to town. "Yeah, I think. What time are you thinking of?"

"4pm maybe?"

"Alright!" She made sure to make a note in her mental calendar. "Then it's a date!"

Pearl made a noise that Peridot couldn't place. "Er, well, I'll see you then!"

Oh. Peridot frowned. She didn't think the conversation would go that quickly, but she supposed Pearl was busy. She heard distant voices on Pearl's side of the phone before she replied, "Okay! See you later Pearl."

"Oh, and thank you for calling. It means a lot."

Peridot smiled proudly at that and the phone call went quiet. The conversation really didn't go to any of her plans.

All thoughts of her college assessment went out the window as she pondered spending the afternoon with Pearl three days away.


A/N: initially i was going to have their first date in this chapter but jeezus i cannot write short chapters for the life of me