At first, Peridot wasn’t completely sure the fusion had succeeded. The two Gems seemed to take a much longer-than-average time to form, as if they couldn’t decide if being together was an advisable idea or not. However, when they did eventually settle and the resulting fusion stopped glowing, she seemed stable enough.
Her outfit was a deep blue skirted leotard, the sleeves and upper half much in the style of the Sapphire’s attire, with the foot coverings clearly inspired from the Pearl’s. She reminded Peridot of a dancer that she had seen on the image cube once. She had two eyes — each a slightly different shade of blue, and her sky blue hair cascaded down to just past her shoulders. The Steven stared at her in wonder, mouth slightly open.
“Oo, should I come up with another name now?” he asked.
“No!” everyone in the room said in unison. Amethyst, Ruby, and Peridot all looked at each other awkwardly, while the new fusion stifled the most ladylike giggle Peridot had ever heard. Sapphire and Pearl were each elegant in their own way, but this fusion had a manner about her that would have made her blend in at any high-class Homeworld gathering.
“You may call me Corundum,” she said. Her voice was deep, but comforting. Like… well, a little like Rose Quartz’s, if Peridot had to put a Gem to it. The thought made Peridot extremely uncomfortable.
“Steven,” Corundum said, turning to him with a serious look. “This fusion won’t last indefinitely. It’s up to you to convince Coral to regenerate as soon as possible.”
The Steven’s eyes widened at the responsibility she had just placed on him, and at once, he looked extremely unsure of himself. “Hey, Corundum? You’ve got future vision, right? So, can’t you just tell me how I do it?”
Corundum smiled and rubbed his head. “Things happen in their own time in their own way, Steven,” she said. Given everyone else’s expressions, they probably took her statement to be very wise and knowing, but Peridot saw it for what it really was. A sweet-sounding sentiment that actually meant nothing at all.
With the immediate crisis solved, the crowd around Steven filed out of the kitchen. Corundum said that her fusion would last the longest if she found a quiet place to do some low-energy meditation. Amethyst said the whole situation was way too tense and headed for her room to give her junk a good pounding. Peridot said they were all a bunch of clods for standing around and she was going to do something useful like go back to building the drill.
Steven didn’t disagree with any of them, but the fact remained that he hadn’t eaten breakfast, so he went over the table and set himself up a plate and a glass of juice. Ruby followed behind him, rubbing her arm and looking unsure of what to do with herself. When Steven put a bagel in the toaster and sat down to wait for the ding!, Ruby cocked her head and then took a seat next to him. She tapped on the countertop, which made a much louder sound than Steven expected it to.
When the toaster finished and Steven slipped off his stool, Ruby continued to watch him intently.
“Hey, you, uh… want something for breakfast, Ruby?” Steven asked, opening up the cabinet to the array of cereals.
Ruby tensed up. “Um, breakfast?” she asked.
“Yeah,” Steven said. “We’ve got everything.” He pointed to each box in turn. “Sugar Puffs, Sugar-O’s, Sugar Cubes… oh, wait… that’s not a cereal. Those are actual cubes of sugar…” He pulled out several of the boxes and felt kind of silly when he remembered that Ruby wasn’t a stranger in the house. She’d been there when they picked all this cereal up at the store in the first place. When he looked across the table, though, Ruby didn’t seem insulted that he’d forgotten this fact. She more seemed to be stressing out.
“Breakfast?” she asked, mostly to herself. “Do I want breakfast? I don’t need breakfast, but Steven might like it if we eat breakfast together.” She rubbed her chin. “Sapphire,” she said to the blank space next to her. “Do I want breakfast?” She took a pause. “Yes, that’s a good point.” She turned back to Steven. “No breakfast for me today,” she said, a little more loudly than it seemed like she needed to. “I’m good.”
“Um, who were you talking to?” Steven asked, slowly arranging the cereal boxes on the table and going to get his toast.
Ruby held her head. “Arg, nobody!” she yelled. “That’s just the problem!” She put her face down on the table. Hard. “Steven, I’m going nuts here. I’m always used to Sapphire and I making decisions together. Trying to decide anything on my own… all I wanna do is second-guess myself.”
Steven nodded sympathetically. He didn’t have too much experience with fusion, of course, but he understood plenty about second-guessing himself. It was practically a hobby. He placed the toast on his plate, poured himself a bowl of Sugar-Os, and sat down next to Ruby.
“You should talk to Corundum,” he suggested. “Tell her how you’re feeling. Maybe that would make you feel better.”
“Arg, you don’t get it, Steven!” Ruby said, lifting her head and giving the table a good pounding. “It’s hard enough to hold a fusion together when one Gem is hesitant. If they both hesitate, the fusion falls apart.” As if to illustrate her point, she smacked the table once again, this time hard enough to form a crack in it. Steven lifted up his plate and bowl to protect them from falling while, Ruby blushed and quickly pulled both her hands onto her lap.
“I know that Sea Glass was hesitant to do the fusion,” she said. “She was worried about separating us, but she went through with it anyway on Sapphire’s order. Sapphire needs to stay confident in that order for the fusion to survive.”
Steven looked sadly over the array of cereals he had left out. For the second time in as many days, he didn’t feel so hungry anymore. “Hey,” he said. “Concern is an emotion, right? So, maybe she’s not as… y’know, emotionless as we think?”
Ruby tried to smile. She wasn’t terribly good at it given the state of things, but it was a genuine effort. “Maybe you’re right,” she said and left it at that.
Peridot sat in the barn and looked over the schematics for the drill, but she might as well have been looking at jibberish. Nothing added up. It disgusted her to admit it, but she missed that annoying Pearl. Even though Peridot’s own intellect was far superior, she couldn’t deny the fact that Pearl was knowledgable enough to share her ideas with. Back on Homeworld, everyone just assumed Peridots knew what they were doing and only acknowledged them when their inventions failed. Having someone to helpfully point out where Peridot could do better without threatening to poof or shatter her was… refreshing.
But Pearl was gone. And she wasn’t coming back unless Peridot herself did something. It was sweet, really, how the Crystal Gems were trying so hard to solve the problem with talks and hugs and whatever else it was they had up their sleeves. Sweet, but stupid. Peridot had her own idea in mind for what they should be doing for Pearl. In fact, she had what she would call a most excellent idea. The trouble was, it had some serious drawbacks. For one, she would need access to a much better computer system than the one he currently had at her disposal — she needed something that could actually interact with the un-generated Gem directly. She had reason to believe that Pearl might have such a system in her room, but of course, Peridot didn’t have access to that. She could ask Steven or Garnet, but she had a strong feeling both of them would want to know what her plan was first. And then she would to tell them, and then they definitely wouldn’t give her access to the room. No, she needed someone who was willing to go to extremes. Who didn’t mind taking a few risks. She needed Amethyst.