Author's Note: Hello again! Welcome back to another chapter. Now that we're starting the third book in the series, I must say I'm getting very pumped! Steven Universe is an integral part of Danger Watch, as well as a show I hold dear to my heart. If you're enjoying the story, be sure to give it a Favorite/Follow, as it means a lot! Now, enjoy the chapter!
Chapter 2 - Enter Steven
After 4 or 5 glances in her direction, and more than a little bit of muttering to himself, Steven decided it was certain. That was definitely her. At first, he wasn't sure. There weren't a lot of girls near his age that hung around this part of the beach, even if it was close to the summer months; as evidenced by the beaming sun and warm sea breeze. He hadn't been able to make out her face at first, obscured as it was by glasses and a wide-brimmed sun hat, but now he was positive, even with her face buried in a book.
That was the girl from the town fair.
Thinking back on last years carnival, the entire thing was more or less a mixed bag for Steven. For starters, he had to participate in the parade with his dad, which he didn't mind. Greg was a kind man, if a little strange, but even that was what Steven loved about him. Since he owned the local car wash, Greg had the great idea to dress up Steven as a soap brush. Steven was less enthusiastic about that part, but had went along with it, since he thought it would make his dad happy.
During the time leading up to the actual parade, the fair had been a ton of fun. Amethyst had come as a chaperone at the behest of Garnet, putting on a long-sleeve shirt and a baseball cap, and telling everyone they ran into that she "just really liked body art." They had tried all of the rides that Pearl would never have let him ride, and then got nearly sick on eating junk food. Then, the coordinator of the carnival, a local man named Mr. Smiley, announced that it was time for all of the parade participants co come over to the float tent. So Steven left Amethyst napping on a picnic bench, and went to join up with Greg.
Now, Steven had no problem being in the parade. As a matter of fact, there was a little part of him that loved to perform. He couldn't explain it, but being in front of people, whether it was singing, dancing, or just plain walking down the road, just put a smile on Steven's face. And so, by the time the thing got started, he'd forgotten all about the uncomfortable onesie and the fake soap in his hair, and was too busy shaking his groove thing to the repetitive marching band music.
People cheered and applauded, and even though his float (an inexpensive thing being pulled behind Greg's van, which was an entire story of its own) was nothing to vibrant, Steven made up for it by his ability to woo the crowd, and soon the crowd was shouting "Universe! Universe!" One member of the crowd had stood out to Steven. In the front row. She wasn't chanting, but she was watching.
She had the faintest smile on her face.
Then, Steven was shaken back to the present by a familiar sound. Something like an electronic chime, followed by the sound of energy dispersing. He would know the sound anywhere. He'd only heard it every day of his life.
The warp pad.
Jumping to his feet excitedly, Steven turned around and starting running up the sandy hill, a difficult feat to achieve when wearing pink flip flops. The warp pad meant the gems, and Steven had some important questions to ask them.
The house where the gems watched over Steven was an altogether pleasant place to live. It had a comfortable deck, space inside, and the back half was completely ripped out and connected to an ancient, gem-tech structure that seemed to lead into the foreboding, stories tall temple that was carved into the cliffside behind it. To anybody else, walking this far down the beach and spotting the temple would be jaw-dropping. To Steven, it was just where he slept and went to the bathroom.
As he made it up the last of the steps that led to his deck, Steven cast one last glance down at the girl from the fair. With a sudden jolt, he realized she was looking back up at him, and he laughed nervously, whipping around and scurrying inside of the temple.
"Oh, hey, Steven," said a familiar voice.
Amethyst was standing in the kitchen, which was only a few feet away from the warp pad due to the open floor structure of the house. The warp pad itself was a marvel to behold: tons of different geometrical shapes, made from the same opaque crystal, fashioned together to create some kind of platform. Then, when a gem stands on it, and harmonizes their gemstone with its, they can use it to teleport to any other warp pad its connected to. This warp, for instance, was connected to every warp pad on planet Earth.
Well, almost every.
"Hey, Amethyst!" Steven said, running over and jumping up onto the stool opposite her at the breakfast bar. "How'd the mission go?"
Garnet strode over from the warp pad, now, one hand behind her back. Steven looked up at her, a little in awe, as he always did when looking at Garnet. She gave a little smile, she couldn't hold it back, and then showed Steven what she had behind her back.
It was a gemstone, with no body attached. However, there were several things that seemed… off about it. For one, it was emanating an odd, cold aura, as if it were full of dry ice. On top of that, there seemed to be some kind of weird, fleshy eye inside of the gem, as if it were encased in ice. The eye flitted back and forth. Steven shuddered.
"Steven," Garnet said, putting her other hand on the boy's shoulder so that he would look at her. "It's important that you understand."
Amethyst gave her a sidelong look, and Pearl, who had been about to open her door and enter the temple proper, had turned to listen in as well, an eyebrow quirked.
"Do you remember why we fight the gem monsters?" Garnet asked. Steven nodded. "Tell me."
"Because… they're hurt. Right?" He said uncomfortably, looking to Amethyst for a lifeline. She pursed her lips, unable to offer him anything. This was all Garnet's territory.
"That's right, Steven." Garnet said, her cooing voice contrasting with her hard-as-stone expression. "We have to bubble the monsters, because otherwise they may hurt themselves, or others."
This was a subject that had been hotly debated in their household. Pearl was strongly on the side of not telling Steven anything about important gem things until he was older, and Amethyst often leaned towards telling him whatever he wanted to know. As with most things, Garnet usually ended up being the one to make the call. It did seem a bit sudden of her to bring it up at this very moment; but that was Garnet.
Steven looked like he wanted to ask a question, but just before he opened his mouth, the ground began to tremble. Things fell off countertops, and Steven had to grab onto the bar to keep from falling over. The entire quake lasted only a few seconds, but it was so jarring that it felt long.
"Another one?" Pearl shouted suddenly, running back into the room with the others. "We aren't even on the New Coast! I've never known Beach City to have this many earthquakes in a week."
Steven looked to Pearl, and then to Garnet, who gave him a thumbs up, and then placed her hand over the mutated gemstone. There was a warbling sound, and a perfectly round, red-pink bubble formed around the gem. Then, Garnet tapped the top, and it vanished. Steven gave her a thumbs up, too. He felt like they had a super cool secret now.
"That is strange…" Garnet said to Pearl.
"Do you think it has to do with the increase in mute-" Amethyst caught herself, "I mean… corrupted gems?"
"It seems likely," Garnet said.
There was a pause in the conversation, and Steven suddenly remembered the question that he was going to ask them.
"Oh, hey-" he started to say.
"Well, we just got back from the Ice Fortress. There was gem monster there, but no signs of anything else amiss in the dungeon itself," Pearl said, tapping her chin. Amethyst gave one pitiful look at Steven, but kept her focus on the conversation at hand.
"Still, we should keep looking," Garnet said. She was in her planning mode. Steven could tell by the way she crossed her arms, and wasn't particularly looking at anything. He sighed. He probably wouldn't be getting his question answered. "There are at least a half dozen other places that could have gone awry. We should do an inspection of all of them, and see if we can get to the bottom of this."
"What about the Sand Temple?" Amethyst suggested. "We haven't been out there in a hundred years, plus."
"Good idea, Amethyst," Pearl said. The smaller gem blushed a bit, and shrugged.
"Alright, Crystal Gems," Garnet said, all of a sudden full of zealous intent as she walked towards the warp pad, Amethyst and Pearl in tow. "Let's go."
"W-wait! You're leaving already?" Steven said. The three turned to face him. Amethyst made a pained face.
"Uh… Sorry, dude," she said. "Duty calls. We gotta make sure… bad stuff isn't happening."
Steven could tell she was censoring herself. The gems often did around him. He was used to it.
"Well… Can I come?" He asked, his eyes lighting up. The gems look awkwardly at each other.
"Erm, Steven," Pearl said, coming over and placing a gentle hand on the top of his head. "It's very dangerous in these dungeons; much too dangerous for humans, and you still haven't shown any signs of your gem powers developing… I would worry myself sick if you came along."
"Don't worry Steven," Garnet said, as Pearl and Amethyst gathered around her on the warp pad. "We'll be back before you know it, and then you can ask us that question."
"Wait, how did you-?"
"Goodbye, Steven!" Pearl called out. "I'll miss you!"
Then, a beam of light shot up from the warp pad's crystal surface, and in it, the gems disappeared.
Steven sighed, letting his head droop for a moment. Then, he sucked in a deep breath, puffed out his chest, and put on a game face.
"OK, Steven!" He said, "we can do this! We'll just… figure out how to make friends on our own."
He went over to the freezer, and reached inside, pulling out two things: a wrapped ice-cream sandwich labelled "Cookie Cat", as well as a second item which he stowed in his pocket. He unwrapped the ice-cream, and began to eat it gleefully. This was his favorite snack. If anything could pick him up out of a funk, it was a Cookie Cat. Once he had finished, he went over to the door of the house, and began to hype himself up.
"Hi, I'm Steven. HII'mSteven. Hi… I'm… Steven. Hi, I am Ste-ven."