Pearl knew the question was coming, but that did not make her cringe any less when Amethyst asked it.
"Man...what happened to us, Pearl?"
The two Gems stood across from each other on the porch outside the Crystal Temple. The echoing sound of waves crashing against the beach below and the gentle glow of stars in the sky above cradled them, but neither felt much like sleeping. That was what had brought them both out here in the first place, after all.
"Amethyst, please. I came out here to think, not to talk."
There was no bite to Pearl's answer. It was too exhausted for that.
"Yeah? Well same goes for me, but we're both out here now, so we might as well, right?" There was bite to Amethyst's reply. Exhaustion, too, but the bite was stronger. "After all...we're thinking about the same stuff, aren't we?"
Pearl slouched a bit against the railing with a long, low sigh. She straightened herself up immediately afterwards, shaking her head a bit. "I'm just sayin'," Amethyst continued, "we used t'form Opal, like, all the time."
That got a roll of the eyes from her fellow Gem. "Honestly, Amethyst, it was never that often."
"Yeah? Well, it was a lot more often than it is now."
Amethyst hopped up onto the railing, tossing her hair back and looking to Pearl with a waiting eye. Her words hung in the air for several moments, but Pearl gave no answer. She simply met her companion's gaze, a deflated little frown on her face and her arms folded softly across her chest. "Well?" Amethyst grumbled.
"There is no point in discussing this, Amethyst," Pearl said, turning away to look out at the beach. "We can't just...make things go back to the way they used to be."
"Well what if I liked the way things used t'be, huh?" the purple Gem snapped.
"Life isn't always about what we'd like," the pale Gem answered.
Amethyst hummed sharply through gritted teeth before growling, "Why do you always have t'be like this, Pearl? Why can't you ever, just once, unclench? Even for a second?"
"Probably the same reason you can't ever take a second to actually think about anything," Pearl muttered.
That got a long groan from Amethyst, who pulled tightly at her hair. "Gaaaaaaaaaah...! You see? This is what I'm talking about!" she yelled. "All we ever do anymore...!"
She was cut off by a sharply-placed finger to her lips from Pearl. "Keep your voice down!" the pale Gem hissed. "Do you want to wake Steven?"
The two locked gazes again, both absorbing the anger pouring out of their eyes. Amethyst flashed her teeth, and for a moment Pearl wondered if she was about to get a bitten finger, but instead her companion simply grunted ,"All we ever do anymore is argue."
Pearl slowly pulled her finger away, curling it back into her hand before wrapping her arms around herself again. "I know," she said softly, "and I don't like it any more than you do."
The porch creaked as Amethyst pressed her feet against the post. "Then why do we keep doing it?" she groaned.
She leaned back, legs keeping her hooked even as her body was soon pointing right down toward the sand below. Pearl lurched toward her briefly before stepping back, placing a tightly-gripped hand in front of her mouth. "Don't you remember what it was like when we were...y'know...friends...?" Amethyst mumbled, letting her arms lazily slink past her head. "Weren't we happier that way?"
"I...suppose we were..." Pearl said, nibbling just a touch on her hand.
"So?" Amethyst said, "Can't we just...be friends again?"
At that, the pale Gem creased her brow, letting her hands slide to her sides. "We both know it's not that simple, Amethyst."
Her companion gave a long groan as she pulled herself back up over the railing. "You and I...back then, things were different. We were different," Pearl continued, finally walking toward Amethyst.
"So we'll just...change again...." Amethyst replied half-heartedly.
Pearl was standing right next to her then. "Think about what you're actually asking," she said. "Do you really think, right now, you'd be able to just...stop? Being so impulsive, so...blunt? Or that you'd suddenly stop being bothered by my way of doing things?"
There was some lip-chewing and a bit of grumbling, but the purple Gem offered no direct answer. Pearl simply nodded. "I rest my case," she said.
For a moment, every inch of Amethyst flared up; her hair stood on end, her shoulders stiffened, her eyes and teeth clenched shut. Pearl stepped back, hands slowly raising up...but then, as quickly as it had come, every bit of tension seemed to seep right out of Amethyst, and she soon slumped down until she was sitting, knees tucked to her chin, on the floor. "So that's it...?" she whispered, "We're just...stuck? Like this?"
A gentle hand found her shoulder then, and she was face to face with a kneeling Pearl. "I didn't say that," the pale Gem said softly. "Amethyst...as long as you and I remain true to ourselves, we will always clash with each other."
She paused as Amethyst looked up at her, that one eye peeking out from beneath her long bangs. "And changing that...really changing that...it's going to take a lot of time."
"But...?" Amethyst spoke for her, a trimuphant little grin starting to form on her face.
"But," Pearl repeated with a little grin of her own and a raised brow, "I think...especially for Steven's sake...we can make that work."
Pearl's hand stayed upon Amethyst's shoulder, only to soon be covered by Amethyst's own hand. The purple Gem's little grin had grown into a full-blown smirk. "Knew you'd see things my way," she said.
Pearl groaned. "Do you really need to frame this so...childishly?"
Amethyst simply laughed, hopping back up onto her feet. "You know I do!" she said, sticking her tongue out before hopping back onto the railing.
Once again, Pearl rolled her eyes, slowly rising back up and turning to the door. "Sometimes I wonder why I bother..." she muttered.
Just as she was about to take the handle, however, she heard Amethyst's voice, sounding...gentler...than she had ever heard it before. "Pearl? Wait...."
She turned to face her companion, whose smirk had again changed, this time into something...warm. Something nice. "D'you..." Amethyst said, and if Pearl did not know better she would have described the tone as bashful, "D'you wanna...like...patrol the beach with me? As Opal? I mean...I dunno about you, but I still don't feel like sleeping, and..."
She scratched the back of her head, licked her lips, and continued, "Well...I figger if we're gonna give this a try, it'd be a good way to start."
Pearl stayed in front of the door for a moment. She knew it made the most sense to just go back inside while she had the chance.
She also knew what her answer had to be.
With a shrug of her shoulders, and the best attempt she could make to mimic Amethyst's carefree grin, she said, "Sure...why not?"
And so, a few minutes later, a giant woman moved with power and grace along the shoreline of the beach.