Doubles on Saturday

“Something pretty serious must be going on for Garnet to split up.” – Greg Universe, Keystone Motel

 

Saturday mornings in Beach City continued the weekend of fun, coming off the end of the work and school day for both residents and tourists who came to visit. For Connie Maheswaran, it was the continuation of what had been a wonderful and amazing Friday night. The day before had been her birthday – in years past, it had just been a normal, regular day used to spend time with her parents, extended family, or by herself.

In some cases, all three.

However, the night before her best friend had put together a grand party, with a DJ, a banner, balloons, homemade food, cake, presents…it was truly a night she wouldn’t forget. Fingering the pendant that currently hung around her neck – the gift her best friend had given her – she couldn’t stop the blush even if she wanted to. He had gone above and beyond with her first ever birthday party and she knew from his personality alone, this was not to be the last.

That’s where she was currently headed, her sneakers leaving the pavement of the boardwalk to hit the beach sands that led to his house. Technically, she was supposed to have a training session later in the day, hence why she had brought along her duffel bag, but until then, she had her very first friend all to herself.

As she got closer, the silhouette of the Crystal Gem Temple came into focus, along with the outline of the beach house that belonged to Steven Universe.

Being familiar with the home and its occupants, the newly minted teenager hurried up the steps and, knocking once she reached the door, opened it and stepped inside. Where she was immediately met by silence and an apparent empty house.

“Hello?” she asked, looking around.

Everything seemed to be in order, so she didn’t think anything had happened, but it was still odd when no one greeted her, especially when she knew Steven was expecting her. Pulling the strap of her duffel bag slowly over her shoulder, Connie set it down on the floor slowly; this was the point when her senses started to kick in and she was immediately on alert.

She couldn’t jump to conclusions – there could always be a simple explanation, such as the Gems were within the Temple proper or they had been called away on a mission – but it didn’t mean she wasn’t on the lookout for something. Thinking quickly, she pulled out her phone and hit the quick dial for Steven.

The response was immediate, with the familiar five note melody echoing in the house, and sounding like it was coming right behind her. Before she could turn however, she felt two arms go around her waist and pick her up, spinning her around twice and causing her give out a startled scream, followed by her laughter.

“Connie Bunches of Hugs!” came the call before the individual placed her back on her two feet, but did not release her. Instead, Connie could feel the rush of air pass her neck as her attacker laughed along with her. “Hello.”

“You know,” she giggled, leaning back against her captor. “Two more minutes and I would’ve thrown you over my shoulder.”

“Aw,” her attacker whined. “That’s not how you treat your fellow knight.”

“Says the boy who just glomped me from behind.”

“It was a good morning hug and you know it.”

Stepping out from the ‘good morning hug’, Connie turned to face her best friend, one Steven Universe. There didn’t seem to be anything different about him this morning – he was wearing his familiar red t-shirt, emblazoned with a large yellow star, jeans, and his ever-present red sandals – however, Connie knew the subtle difference in his appearance. While she had always been taller than he was, as of yesterday, that height gap had started to dwindle.

Taking both of his hands in hers, she gave them a squeeze, while sending him a smile that showed her affection. “Oh!” she said, letting go of one hand to reach into her pocket. “I have something for you.”

Steven watched as she removed a gold chain from her pocket, holding it out for him to see. It took his eyes a moment to follow the chain to where something dangled from it – a small circular object.

A biscuit.

The boy blinked in confusion for a second. “I thought you liked it?” he whispered, looking at the girl before him. The night before, he had given her that very same pendant, accompanied by a strawberry and held on a similar golden necklace. At the time, she had told him she liked it, loved it even, and had given him a kiss for it, but if she was returning it to him…

“I do,” she said, softly. Seeing his look, she hooked a finger under the chain around her neck to bring it out from under her shirt, showing him the very gift he had given her. “But I can’t be the strawberry and the biscuit.”

Smiling widely, Steven nodded. “It would be a major responsibility,” he replied, stoically.

“Agreed,” she said. “And that is why I am bestowing this shared honor right on your shoulders, Sir Steven.”

Leaning over him, Connie fastened the necklace around his neck, before pulling back to admire her handiwork. “Perfect,” she whispered, sending him another shy smile.

After a moment, the two laughed, leaning their foreheads against each other as they did. It was moments like this that Steven was glad for the quiet and relaxation these days provided him. He had once told Connie that one day they might have to fight against some bad guys – and those bad guys were increasingly looking to be hostile gems from Homeworld – and above all, he wanted her to fight beside him when they did.

But just because he knew a fight was coming didn’t mean he wanted that fight to come any time soon.

It didn’t take long before Steven felt a tingle behind his gem, but this wasn’t the familiar pull he felt whenever he and Connie fused, it was however a feeling that had been building for some time and always when he was with his fellow knight. He was almost sure this was what his dad felt about his mom, but he was always hesitant to ask – he knew bringing up his mother was equal to setting off a live grenade in a bomb factory surrounded by dynamite.

As much as he wanted to know the answer, he also knew that jumping into things wasn’t always a good idea and that was the last thing he wanted with Connie.

And it seemed to work in his favor today, as another moment between them was interrupted by the front door of the beach house opening, with Garnet walking through, followed by Greg.

“Hey you two,” the taller gem replied, sending the two a smile. She didn’t miss the matching blushes that appeared on the teens’ faces, nor the not subtle at all way they seemed to pull apart from each other.

“Hey Garnet,” Connie greeted. “Hey Mr. Universe.”

“Where’ve you two been?” asked Steven.

“Heh,” Greg chuckled. “We just got back from our weekly tennis match.”

“Or as we like to call it, ‘Garnet’s weekly smackdown’.”

“We do not call it.”

“I do.”

“Oh, I know you do,” Greg snarked, sending a look to the fusion. “But you know what? One of these days, I’m going to beat you. And then I’m going to beat Sapphire at chess and prove that Ruby’s poker wins are beginner’s luck.”

“You’ve met Ruby and Sapphire?” Connie asked. She of course knew Garnet was a fusion – Steven had told her of his adventure aboard Peridot’s ship, but also from the experience of trying to dissuade Jamie’s romantic intentions – but she hadn’t been aware that Steven’s father had known that.

As soon as she asked though, she mentally kicked herself. Of course he would know Garnet was a fusion, he had known her and the other Crystal Gems around the time he started dating Steven’s mother. However, knowing that Garnet was a fusion didn’t necessarily mean that he had met her components.

“I was kinda surprised at that, too,” Steven piped up. “You didn’t seem that concerned when Ruby and Sapphire had that fight in Keystone and with everything else going on, I never got to ask about it. Which means…”

Garnet chuckled, while Greg groaned slightly, though he joined in her merriment.

“That…was not the best way for us to meet,” replied the fusion.

“See, your mother and I had this big fight and…”

“Dad!”

“Steven,” Greg said, sternly. “You’re making me look bad because I know I taught you the difference between inside voice and outside voice, as well as the concept of near and far.”

Holding up a finger, Steven began his case. “Your honor,” he said. “I’d like to start by questioning the defendant.” Pointing at Greg, he asked, “Mr. Universe, isn’t true that there is an existing agreement betwixt us in terms of providing a light hearted, whimsical song that ties together with an upcoming story?”

Greg sighed. “Yes…”

“And isn’t it true that outside this very establishment, your van is parked on the beach?”

“Yeah.”

“And isn’t it true that within that van is the very guitar by which you compose those light hearted, whimsical songs that tie together with an upcoming story?”

“Steven, I just…”

“And isn’t it true that just a few moments ago you were about to start a story?”

Greg just looked at his son. “I should just go get the guitar, shouldn’t I?”

“Your honor, I rest my case.”

“I find in favor of the prosecution,” Connie ruled, sending a smile to Steven.

“Of course you would,” Greg grumbled, good-naturedly.

“And bonus points for using the word ‘betwixt’ in a compelling sentence.”

“No one uses the word betwixt anymore,” Garnet lamented.

By the time Greg grabbed his guitar and was heading back up the stairs, he saw that the group had moved outside and were now sitting at the small table they usually kept on the deck. “Well, I’m glad to see you’ve all gotten comfortable,” he chuckled, pulling out the last empty chair and sitting down.

“It’s a nice day,” Garnet replied.

That was true enough – spring time was always wonderful in Beach City, as it gave way to breezy and warm summers that held the prospect of fun in the sun and waters. Strumming away on his guitar, Greg began a light tempo melody, singing a song he hadn’t thought about in many years…

 


 

I’m sorry, love

I didn’t mean to break your heart.

I didn’t even mean to have this start.

They didn’t know how the argument started or what it was about at this point, but it had been pretty bad. There had been yelling – what argument didn’t have yelling? – and before long, they had stormed away from each other.

Sometimes my words get a hold of me

And I can’t see

What they’re doing.

But then we go back and forth

So baby, for what’s it worth

He was upset and he had made her upset. That hadn’t been his intention. He just…he missed her, he was scared about the future, and everything that came with it. The future was more than just a job – it meant looking at your life and seeing where it was going and…

He wasn’t sure where his was going.

I’m sorry, love.

Please don’t walk away,

I only wanna make you stay.

She was distracted and that made two of them. And it drove the others nuts. One romantic in their midst was probably one too many, so having two sets that were dating was the absolute worst.

What were they even fighting about now?

On one hand, she cared about one couple – though it was debatable if she cared because they were her friends or that she hoped neither one of them would set something fire or freeze them to death – on the other hand, she hoped this was the end game for the other couple. Obviously, she was here to comfort and be the shoulder to cry on, not him.

We may differ, we may fight

But I know this time it wasn’t right

Please don’t go, I’m sorry, love!

I’m so sorry.

 


 

1980s – Beach City, Delmarva

 

Despite living in Beach City for the last five years, Greg Universe was still awed by the beauty of the town, especially at night. The sky was so open, allowing for the stars to shine brightly among the clouds. For a small town star child, Greg took in all of the sights, sounds, and smells of the city.

If his younger self could see him now, he wondered what he might have thought – at this point in his life, nearing his thirties, the younger Universe would have assumed he was on the rise of stardom. He had dreams of being a musician since his was a kid and it looked as though that career was happening, at least until he gave a concert for one lone woman. Greg was sure his younger self would’ve made the same decision he had – giving up his musical aspirations for love.

Tonight however, Greg was really putting that aspect into question.

He had just gotten off of work and had immediately driven from the town car wash towards the strange statue that was situated on the beach. Usually there was a fence around this portion of the beach from the rest of the city, but around the time Greg began to spend more time on this side of town, the fence was removed; the true reason was because Greg’s van continuously ran through it, making it a point for those in the area to constantly repair it.

What most of the residents didn’t know was that there was a hidden temple inside this mysterious statue and it was the very place Greg was headed.

Five years ago, Greg Universe had been a headliner in his own concert in Beach City and on that very night, he had fallen in love. Or at least, he had fallen in lust with a tall, beautiful woman who had been the only attendee at said concert. It was only a few months into their ‘relationship’ that he and his lady love had actually discussed what they were to each other. That had been the turning point for him and for one Rose Quartz.

Greg had never been in love before – oh, he thought he had been, but looking back at it, he had never felt anything close with his past girlfriends the way he felt about Rose.

Which is why he was there at her ‘residence’, hoping to speak with her.

The last few days had been rough, for Greg at least. Earlier in the week, he and Rose had gotten into a pretty harsh argument and he had stormed off, least he said something else he would regret. In the end, it had been several days since they had seen or spoken to each other and it had been horrible.

They had officially been dating for nearly five years and in all of that time, they had never had this type of disagreement before. Oh, they were different for sure – Greg was human, a former musician, a college dropout, while Rose was an alien from an intergalactic galaxy who fought in a thousand year war. He didn’t know the whole story, as Rose didn’t really enjoy speaking about it, but he knew enough that it still weighed on her mind from time to time.

But he thought they had gotten over these differences; they were learning about each other and their respective cultures every day, but obviously those differences were still popping up. And that’s how their argument began. He didn’t want to think about it, he just wanted to get to the point where, hopefully, Rose forgave him and he hadn’t just ruined the best thing that had ever happened to him.

And that’s why he was there. He had thought about bringing flowers or maybe chocolates, but Vidalia had shot him down on that.

“You were a jerk. Flowers aren’t going to change that.”

She was right, so instead, Greg had arrived with just his van, his guitar, and some camping equipment. It wasn’t much, but he was hoping his apology would led to some deeper discussion. These things usually did.

So Greg made his way into the small cave within the giant, stone statue. Inside was a strange circular disc pad situated in the middle, sat immediately in front of an equally rounded door. On the door itself was a star that had five different gems within each of its corners – a rose quartz, a pearl, a sapphire, a ruby, and an amethyst.

There had been speculation in the town a few years ago, when a few scientists had been in the city and had tried to decipher what the carved structure was, why it was there, and what the different gems had signified. Luckily, the group who actually resided there had been gone on a mission and had missed the entire affair, though Greg was happy to report the event once they returned.

And just like that time, it seemed the area was completely devoid of life. Greg approached the warp pad, stopping before the steps and waited. Sometimes, if he was lucky, it would activate and deposit the gems before him in a light afterglow. But that wasn’t the case here, even after he stood for five minutes. And he was about to continue standing for another five if a voice hadn’t interrupted his vigil.

“I’m afraid Rose is out at the moment. She and the others had a mission to attend to, but they should return in a few hours.”

Startled, Greg turned to his left, surprised to see another gem coming into the light from the shadows. She was smaller, half his height, with long, pale blue hair that reached to her back and shielded her eyes. He had instinctively known this was a gem – after all, only gems knew about this area and what it held.

“Oh,” he stammered. He thought he had met all the gems there were, but here was someone he obviously hadn’t met. “Uh, thanks. For telling me, that is. Actually…do you mind if I set up camp and wait for her? It’s kinda important I see her.”

“Of course,” the gem replied, nodding in his direction.

Greg quickly went back out, running to his van to grab everything he needed. This wasn’t the first time he’d set up a camp for Rose – being new to Earth customs and traditions, the former quartz soldier loved everything Greg showed her while they were together. It wasn’t much – just a tiny little grill, some logs, and Greg’s guitar – but Rose loved it none the less.

It only took Greg around ten minutes to set everything up, a nice roaring campfire and his guitar. He considered it camping, even if many others might call out the fact that he was just on a beach, but that made it even better. There was something about Beach City, after all – the smell of the sea air, the sound of the waves crashing against each other, the felt of the grit of the sand.

For a musician, the view always tended to inspire Greg – from the colors of the sky as the sun set to the sounds of the sea and the city. The brunette began to strum a few cords before the beginnings of a melody took form, however the lyrics were elusive; he thought about his life, Rose, the gems, their future…but words to describe all he was feeling seemed fleeting.

“Do you mind if I join you?”

So wrapped up in his preparation, set up, and relaxation, Greg had completely forgotten about the smaller blue gem, who now stood next to him. Despite being dusk, Greg now had a better view of his new companion – not only was her hair blue, but so was she, darker then the shade of her hair. She wore a blue dress, seemingly combining those same colors within. Sitting down showcased their height difference, with Greg now at the same height as the small gem.

“Of course!” he exclaimed, surprised by the request and guilty that he hadn’t bothered to extend the offer himself.

With a nod of thanks, the blue gem sat down next to Greg, hands folded politely in her lap. The two sat in relative silence for a few moments – Greg strumming his guitar, the mysterious gem listening in silent appreciation – before curiosity got the better of the human and he managed a side glance at the gem seated beside him.

On the outset, she could be described as serene, but Greg had been around enough humans – and gems – at this point to see the set of her shoulders and the edges of her mouth curving downward. And though he wasn’t a hundred percent, he was pretty sure the sudden wave of cold and the small ice crystals forming on the sand had something to do with her.

“Hey uh…” he began. “I don’t mean to pry or anything and you can totally tell me if I am, but…well…are you alright? You seem kinda…” He stopped short, realizing the irony of his statement.

“Blue?” the gem supplied, sending him a small smile. “A good one, Mr. Universe.”

Greg smirked, though he was still concerned about the little gem. Hearing a sigh, he turned to look at her properly. “You don’t plan to let this go,” she said.

“What?”

“It’s okay,” she said. “I don’t think it’s in your nature to not be concerned about someone.”

“Oh,” Greg whispered. “Yeah, uh…I guess you’re right. But like I said, you don’t have to say anything.”

“Actually,” the gem began. “You might be able to provide some insight into a matter that I…am unable to find.”

It seemed the gem was struggling with what she wanted to say, so Greg kept quiet, continuing to strum his guitar while he waited. “I’m afraid I may have upset my…friend,” she whispered. “It wasn’t my intention, but obviously it has caused some…contention between us.”

“I know how that is,” Greg replied, switching between chords. “That’s why I’m here. I said some things to Rose that…I never meant when I said them. I know I hurt her feelings, which I never wanted to do.”

“Exactly,” the gem said, turning to look at him. “I was just…trying to look at things logical, but that never seems to work out.”

The musician chuckled. “That’s the thing about love,” he said. “It’s anything but logical.”

“I guess that’s true.”

“I mean,” Greg said. “If love was logical, Rose wouldn’t be with me. I’m…I’m kind of a mess, to be honest. I thought I was gonna be this big rock star, with nothing to worry about, you know? My friend Vidalia is like two years older than me and she’s got a kid, who she’s been raising by herself for like four years. It…got me thinking, about, you know, the future.

“And it scares me.”

“I used to see only one thread of the future,” came the response. “It was static, unchanged, unmoving. Everything was planned, laid out in such way there was no uncertainty. And then it all changed.”

The strumming stopped. “What happened?”

Despite being down, the gem couldn’t help the slight smile and blush that accompanied her words. “I met Ruby.”

The name didn’t mean anything to Greg, but by the way the blush on her face deepened, he could tell this was the ‘friend’ she had mentioned earlier. Taking up another tune, he nodded. “It’s amazing how one person can change your life, huh?” he asked.

“Yes.” The gem was silent for a moment before continuing with, “That’s why it’s always hard when you do something you never meant to do.”

“Let me guess,” Greg replied. “You two had an argument. It doesn’t matter what it was about, it was the fact that you both came at a problem in a different way and neither one of you wanted to back down on it.”

“You have an amazing deduction, Mr. Universe.”

The musician huffed. “Let’s just say you have the same look on my face that I do.”

The gem chuckled. “Is it that obvious?”

“To another person in love?” Greg asked. “Yeah, pretty much.”

“You’re constantly surprising me, Mr. Universe,” the gem continued. “I don’t just mean you in particular, but humans in general. Gems…gems are created with a certain purpose and in most cases, they adhere to that philosophy. Our fight for this planet changed all of that; it gave many of us a glimpse into lives that could change, that we could change. Fate doesn’t always need to be set in stone.

“But while that may be true,” she said. “It’s sometimes difficult to remember that. Often times, there are too many differences…Ruby is…hot-headed, impulsive, emotional, which…is the complete opposite of who I am…how do you do it?”

The gem looked at him. “You and Rose are…very different. And in our experiences, humans don’t exactly celebrate the differences of others.”

“Some don’t,” Greg admitted, setting his guitar aside and turning to look at her properly. “You know Garnet, right?” he asked, causing the gem to smile at him.

“Yes, I’m familiar with her.”

“Well,” he continued. “She gave me some really good advice once. A few times, actually, but what it all boils down to is she really pushed me to talk to Rose. There’s nothing wrong with being different, especially in a relationship; being different is what helps humans understand each other. Granted, if they’re willing to actually understand each other.

“But that’s how we come to appreciate things around us and the people around us.”

“That’s what makes you extraordinary,” the gem whispered.

“That’s what makes the people we love extraordinary,” he corrected. “I bet the things that make your Ruby different is also the things that make you love her.”

Again, the gem blushed. “It’s true,” she said. “She’s hot tempered, but only because she’s fiercely loyal to those she trusts and cares about. You never have to wonder what Ruby feels because she’s so very expressive and as for impulsive…it was her impulsiveness that changed how I saw everything. And I could never happier.”

“Rose and I are very different,” Greg nodded. “She’s a gem, I’m human; she fought in a thousand year war, I dropped out of community college. But I’m glad we’re different. There’s a lot of things we’re still learning about each other and that’s a good thing.”

Greg picked up his guitar and began to strum again. “How long have you two been together?” he asked.

“Well over seven thousand years.”

“Whoa!” Greg exclaimed, more for the wrong chord he hit and not the amount of years of a gem relationship. “Well, you have definitely beat my aunt and uncle for longest lasting relationship; thirty years seems kinda paltry against seven thousand.” The mysterious gem laughed.

“I hope Rose and I last that long.”

“Well,” the gem replied. “That would be highly unlikely, given the typical life span of humans. But…if anyone could defy that, I believe it would be you, Mr. Universe.”

Greg chuckled. “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he said. “And it’s Greg. Mr. Universe was my dad and I’m not that old or responsible yet to hold that title. Geez, talk about being responsible, more like being rude. We’ve had this great conversation and I haven’t even bothered to ask you your name.”

“Sapphire,” the gem replied. “Though we have met before. In a roundabout way.”

“Oh?”

“You know me, and Ruby by extension, as Garnet.”

Again, Greg hit a wrong chord, but this time it was due to the revelation he just heard. “Garnet’s a fusion!?” he exclaimed, wincing once he realized just how loud he was in the proclamation. Sapphire smirked at the human, moving her bangs to reveal a large blue colored eye. “Oh, that makes sense,” he said, chuckled. “And she does have two gems…”

“Indeed.”

“Oh wow,” Greg whispered. “I can’t believe Garnet’s a fusion all the time. And for seven thousand years, too. Huh. Do you guys have arguments like this all the time?”

“No,” Sapphire replied. “Despite being so very different, Ruby and I get along quite well. That is, until we don’t. It’s very rare, but there are occasions where we disagree to such an extent that…”

“You just need some time apart.”

Sapphire nodded, sadly. “The only problem with that,” she said, dejectedly. “Is that neither of us enjoy being apart from the other. And it seems as though as though every disagreement we have is based on something I’ve done and continue to do. Perhaps we’re too different…at some point Ruby might just…”

“Hold the phone,” Greg interrupted. “Now give the phone to me. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that people who are truly in love don’t just stop. No matter what.”

“That’s a lovely thought,” Sapphire replied. “But gems live a very long time and we’ve seen how times and lives can change. One day, Ruby may not want to continue being Garnet with me.”

“I hope that’s a horrible joke at my expense.”

“Ruby!”

Greg and Sapphire turned at the same time, seeing another small gem standing a few feet away from them. She was about the same height as the blue gem sat next to him, except she was red in color, with a rather square-ish afro. Greg was a little taken aback, as he had never heard the gem walk up on them and certainly, Sapphire would’ve been able to at least sense her (he thought. It was something Rose mentioned once, while they were out looking for a lost Amethyst).

The red gem stalked towards them with a determined air before stopping in front of Sapphire, who had immediately stood to anticipate her arrival. “Are you really that cracked?” Ruby asked, once she had stopped before her counterpart. “And here I thought you were the brains of this operation. How you could ever think I’d ever want to be apart from you is just unheard of. You can see into the future, Sapph, have you ever come across one where we’re not together?”

“You can see the future!?”

Both gems turned to look at the musician, who had unwittingly become audience to what he hoped would be a wonderful reunion. That is, until he blurted out his question in surprise. “Sorry,” he said, sheepishly, turning back around and starting around round of strumming on his guitar.

Turning back to each other, Ruby cupped a light blue cheek in her hand. “Honestly, do you really see a future where we aren’t together?” she asked.

“We can see a multitude of futures,” Sapphire said. “There’s always possibilities…”

“True,” Ruby said. “But we can change our fates. And believe me, I will change every fate that dares to tell me I can’t be with you.”

Holding the hand to her cheek, nuzzling it slightly as she sighed. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. “This was all my fault.”

“No, it was mine,” Ruby insisted. “You know I can be a little temperamental.”

Sapphire giggled. “A little, you say?” she teased, causing a slight blush to rise on the red gem’s cheeks. “I love that you’re a little temperamental. And a little impulsive. It’s what makes you so charming.”

“Well,” Ruby chuckled. “I charmed you, didn’t I?”

Sapphire laughed at that, a familiar tease between them. In hindsight, it was hard to actually determine who charmed who, especially when it was seemingly obvious that they had both charmed each other. Ruby joined in her laughter, wrapping her arms around the gem and spinning her around.

Their joyful twirl soon turned into a combined light that, while familiar, still managed to startle Greg with the application. Before long, where two small gems stood, now became one taller gem. Garnet stood proudly in the sand, continuing the laughter that her two components had previously been engaged in. “Garnet!”

“Greg!” the fusion exclaimed. “Thank you!”

“For what?”

“Bringing me back together.”

Greg chucked, running a hand through his rather long hair. “That wasn’t me,” he said, embarrassed. “That was Ruby and Sapphire. They know how to keep a relationship together.” Giving the newly fused gem a look and a smile, he added, “Obviously.”

Garnet laughed at that, though it didn’t have the same mirth Greg’s did. “I’m sorry you had to see that,” she admitted. “We were going to introduce you, but…not like this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he replied, shrugging. “It’s nice to know I’m not the only one with love troubles. Misery loves company after all.”

“What?”

“Oh, it’s just a saying,” Greg said. “Besides, you’ve given me all this great advice to help me and Rose. I kinda owe you one. More than one, actually.”

Once again, Garnet was stunned by the depths of how humans easily related to each other and to them, especially. She had given that advice to Greg because, well, he had been different than the others; Rose had been fascinated with humans even during the war and that intrigue hadn’t stopped after it either. Despite Pearl’s assurance that Greg Universe was just the newest beau in a string of unwanted and unwarranted romantic entanglements, Garnet thought otherwise.

Firstly, Greg had made actual effort. The others, once discovering Rose’s true nature or learning about fusion, had quickly ended things, fearing Rose and the other Crystal Gems to be sorcerers, demons, aliens (probably the actual one true statement) or worse. Greg hadn’t batted an eye at seeing a shapeshifted Amethyst or being threatened at being thrown over a fence, nor had he found the idea of fusion disgusting or weird.

If anything, he had not only embraced it, but had wanted to try it, despite not having the actual form to do so.

To find a human who not only appreciated fusion, but actively wanted to try it and understood it meant something to Garnet. When it was clear Greg wasn’t going to be like any of the others, Garnet – and thus Ruby and Sapphire – had wanted to introduce the very height of fusion, how two people could come together in what she considered the ultimate level of trust, understanding and love.

Which is why introducing them in the midst of an argument had not been the plan whatsoever.

A bright stream of light interrupted whatever thought Garnet wanted to share, causing the two to turn towards the warp pad. While Ruby had been stewing within the temple, Rose, Pearl, and Amethyst had gone on a mission, if just to give the youngest member an idea of their task to find and capture those corrupted gems.

As the light faded, the very three stood on the pad, with Pearl and Rose in an apparent discussion before Amethyst’s cry of “Garnet’s back!” caused the two to stop, just in time to see the young gem running towards the taller teammate. “Hey, and Greg’s here!” That started an odd chant of “Garnet’s back! Greg’s here!” as she ran around both of them.

“Greg?” Rose asked, tentatively, as she and Pearl approached the three. She hadn’t seen Greg in a few days, which wasn’t unusual for them, however the last time they saw each other hadn’t been…on the best of terms. Pearl had of course been by Rose’s side, calming the larger gem with words of reassurance, which had only made matters worse. Couldn’t Rose see this was just a ‘flash in the pan’, as humans would say?

“Rose.”

Standing up, Greg brushed the sand from his shorts and stood before his, hopefully still, alien girlfriend. “I’m sorry,” he blurted. “For the things I said, for…for everything. I know you don’t worry about the future the way we humans do, but…well, we’re constantly worried about the future.

“There’s growing up, bills, finding a job, bills, finding the right person to…start a life with, bills…”

“You’ve mentioned that a few times now.”

“That’s because it’s the thing we don’t want,” he laughed. “The point is…there’s all this stuff the future holds and it’s scary. It scares me. But you know what scares me more?”

“What?” Rose asked.

“A future that you’re not in,” he whispered. “I love you. And I want to face all the scary things about the future with you. That…that is, if…if you still want to do that.”

Rose Quartz, leader of the gem rebellion, commander during the war for Earth, and leader of the Crystal Gems, was now just a gem in love. Her eyes grew wide and starry-eyed at Greg’s heartfelt apology. There were so many things she didn’t know, didn’t understand about humans, and this human was doing his best to help her through that journey. She didn’t know anyone like Greg and that was why she loved him – he was so unique, in such a familiar way.

“Oh Greg,” she whispered. “I would love to do just that.”

“Does that mean Greg gets to hang around more?” Amethyst asked, looking up at the two. Feeling hands on her shoulders, the small gem turned to look up at Garnet, who smiled down at her.

“I think Greg’s gonna be around for a long time,” she said. She had access to various futures, good and bad, but ultimately there were none that didn’t have Greg, though she noted Rose wasn’t featured in those that had Greg, but Garnet had passed it off as just her concentrating on seeing if the human would be in the picture longer than he was now.

At this point in time, it was just easier to dismiss Pearl’s annoyed huff and eye roll, even if it did irk Greg and saddened Rose. “What’s all this?” Rose asked, looking around the musician to see the campfire and the small grill.

“Well, I hoping to have a ‘please forgive me’ cookout.”

“Oh! Oh!” Amethyst exclaimed, bouncing up and down. “Are you gonna make food? Can I eat it?”

Greg laughed, before mussing the younger gem’s hair. “Sure squirt,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve introduced you to the age old art of s’mores yet.”

“Smore?” questioned the gem. “What’s that? What is it? What is it?”

“I’m a little intrigued myself, Mr. Universe,” Rose giggled.

Gesturing towards the small fire, Greg announced, “Step into Che Universe, my good gems.” Rose and Amethyst happily took a seat around it, with Rose creating a little pattern in the sand for the younger gem’s amusement. Turning back to the remaining gems, Greg asked, “You guys want s’mores too? You’re more than welcomed to join us.”

“No.”

Pearl didn’t waste or mince words, especially when it came to Greg. She answered immediately before turning and heading towards the door to the temple, disappearing into her room with the express purpose of not leaving it until a mission – or more like, Rose – came around to get her.

“Thanks,” Garnet replied. “But I can’t.”

“No prob,” Greg said. “Actually Garnet, I was wondering…see, I have these free tennis coupons…” He shrugged, before rubbing the back of his neck. “I did a show at the country club outside Beach City and I guess in lieu of paying me, they gave me these unlimited tickets to play tennis whenever I wanted and well…I was thinking, I mean if you weren’t doing anything Saturday…”

“I’ll see you Saturday,” Garnet said, nodding. Like Pearl, she turned and headed towards the door of the temple, entering it and doing who knew what behind closed doors.

“Greg, come on! I want mores!”

 


 

After Greg finished his story, he looked up to see Connie and Steven wide eyed at his tale. “Wow,” they both whispered.

To his right, he heard Garnet chuckle. “Again, it wasn’t the most ideal meeting,” she said.

“It was just like when I met Ruby and Sapphire!” Steven exclaimed.

“Which was even less ideal.”

“But it’s so…romantic!” the teen gushed. “You were all prepared to serenade Mom and then you ended up helping Ruby and Sapphire with their relationship and everything worked out!”

“And now you and Garnet are like tennis buddies!” Connie added.

“Oh man,” Steven wheezed, turning to look at Connie, happily. “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could play against them?”

“What?” Connie asked, confused. “You mean tennis? Steven, you don’t even know how to play!”

“You could teach me!” he said. “You’re an awesome tennis player, Connie! You even won a championship!”

The younger teen blushed at the praise. “It was second place,” she mumbled, happily. “And it was a team effort.”

“Sounded like a challenge to me,” Garnet said, sending a smile towards Greg.

“It did indeed,” the musician agreed. “You two might have youth on your side, but we have experience on ours.” The elder Universe’s eyes suddenly grew wide in shock. “Aw geez, that was the same thing Sapphire told me before she beat me at chess.”

“And the student has followed the master,” Garnet said.

“I meant to say, I let her win. Because I’m a gentleman.”

“Hmmm.”

The two continued their friendly banter, even mentioning the elusive time Ruby managed to best him in cards. That was the story Steven and Connie wanted to hear, even though Greg was more embarrassed about it than Garnet was. Steven loved every moment – yes, he originally had plans with Connie, but what could be better than spending time with her, his dad, and Garnet? Especially when he got a story about his mother as an added bonus.

If this was part of his magical destiny, he wouldn’t dare dismiss it.