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It all started as a simple wading pool party for Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, Steven, and Connie... Until Greg informs them that the Marie Cousteau Marine Research Facility has been robbed and it has a signs of being the work of a Gem. This leads to them discovering a bruised and battered Lapis Lazuli floating in the ocean. But a freed Jasper quickly proves to be the least of their problems...

Learning to Breathe Underwater is a Steven Universe fanfic on Archive of Our Own by Roads and Burrows.

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Tropes for Learning To Breathe Underwater include:

  • Action Girl: Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, Connie, and Jasper. Sadie also once again does battle with a Gem that's trying to kill Lars (and Ronaldo!), although she gets her butt kicked. Less traditionally, Pearl and especially Connie try to teach Lapis to fight in close combat, which pays off during her fight with Jasper in close quarters in Rose's Room: Reprise (Major Key), and Peridot, when she realizes she has no choice, builds herself a makeshift death ray and heads into battle with the rest of the Gems.
  • Actual Pacifist: Greg Universe will protect his son, but he really doesn't want to kill or even fight anybody, not even the three Homeworld Gems who tried to murder and/or abduct Steven.
  • Adult Fear: Finding out your daughter has been lying to you and doing things behind your back. Referencing canon, the Maheswarans don't react well at first, but eventually come to realize that if Connie is going to be honest with them, they need to ease up on her.
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  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Gem Buster AI appears to be this, but is a subversion. Homeworld higher-ups didn't bother with the programming much.
  • Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Pearl, Garnet, and Peridot all show enjoyment with the human desk toy known as a "Newton's Cradle", with Garnet even mentioning she wants a giant version. And when asked by Pearl where she'd put it, Garnet states she'd get a giant desk. When Dr. Jeong gives it to Peridot in the last chapter, it sits in the common area of the house where Garnet has it do its clicky thing.
    • Lapis is ambivalent about most of the human media Steven tries to get her to enjoy...until she's exposed to The Wizard of Oz.
    • Unsurprisingly, Peridot immediately cottons on to Big Donut's free Wi Fi (complaining the whole time about how primitive it is) and uses it to peruse such quality cultural content as MemeAwareness.com and videos of bedbugs mating.
    • Jasper likes heavy metal (describes it as 'ripping out someone's entrails, but in her mind'). Absolutely nobody is surprised. At the end of the fic, she steals Greg's walkman and one of his tapes: the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil".
    • At the very end, Lapis talks about visiting a museum and being entranced by what's clearly meant to be Van Gogh's "Starry Night". Garnet later gives her a lifetime pass to the Louvre.
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  • All-Loving Hero: Steven, Steven, STEVEN. To the point where he adopts the surviving component of the Gem Buster AI and convinces it to accept a change of programming so that it can go looking for corrupted Gems and inform the Crystal Gems of their whereabouts, instead of destroying them.
  • Aloof Ally: What Jasper becomes at the very end. She doesn't join the Crystal Gems (who doesn't know about her whereabouts, or if she's even alive), but she's preparing herself to fight Homeworld whenever they come to Earth (though it appears that she does it out of desire of revenge rather than wanting to protect Earth).
  • Ambiguous Situation: In Jasper's pre-Rebellion flashbacks, Rose Quartz's position on the Homeworld chain of command is left up in the air. She is seen commanding many lower-ranking Gems and in one scene speaks to Yellow Diamond as if they are equals, yet Yellow is able to effortlessly override her request for the young Jasper to be assigned to her command, and speaks about the other Diamonds allowing Rose to take in Gems considered rejects and deviants. The author stated that they wanted to leave it ambiguous whether or not Rose was a Diamond, meaning she could be interpreted as a high-ranking Gem outranked by the Diamonds, a Diamond outranked by the other Diamonds, or something else altogether.
  • And I Must Scream: Putting a living, intact Gem into a device as a power source, like what happened to Lapis, is called "embedding", used only as a punishment for Gems who have committed very serious crimes. Most Gems imprisoned this way do not retain any sense of sanity or self past the first millennium of their imprisonment, melding with the device they're powering. Removing a melded Gem from their device will kill both the device and the Gem. This is offered as an explanation as to why the Crystal Gems did not remove Lapis from the mirror: they thought she had melded with the device and removing her Gem from it would kill her.
  • Androcles' Lion: Used frequently and at one point directly referenced by Steven after he heals Jasper and she proves to be less than appreciative.
  • Artistic License – Law: Mayor Dewey's entire attempt to get three highly destructive antagonistic aliens to appear in court to answer for their crimes, including such gems as "grand theft aqua". He doesn't even bother to seal the summonses, and Beach City has no police force to speak of...
  • Ax-Crazy: Golden Apatite, though not seen, is described as "a poisonous little so-and-so who doesn’t know how to toe the line, but she’s too dangerous to put a leash on, so she has to be lured with games and dainties instead". Judging from context, the "games and dainties" involve hunting down the canon former Knight of Cerebus and a Broken Bird with off-the-scale water-manipulation powers...which begs the question of how crazy this Gem IS.
  • Badass Normal: Greg Universe, professional Non-Action Guy, almost manages to take down an alien super-soldier on the warpath with a van covered in amps and some ear-busting chords.
    • The humans of Beach City, who all volunteer immediately to help Steven's family despite (mostly) not being trained fighters. Double for the kids and teenagers, who manage to rescue Peridot and escape with her under the noses of a nest of Gem Buster robots.
  • Bad Boss:
    • During the war for Earth, Blue Diamond believed that all her Gems had to be willing to die for her cause. After Rose Quartz defeated the first wave of her warriors, every Gem in her court was conscripted into battle, even workers and artisans who had no idea how to fight. Any of her officers who came back alive from the fight after losing were either killed or subjected to a Fate Worse than Death.
    • Yellow Diamond doesn't care about anyone. Pearl's recording of her fight with Rose over getting Jasper reassigned to Rose's command implies that she doesn't even value herself except in terms of her own utility to Gemkind.
    Yellow Diamond: She exists to be used. As do we all, ultimately.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: When she was trying to ease the bad blood between Pearl and Lapis, Amethyst delivered this gem:
    Amethyst: And it may look like she’s super-controlling, but once you spend enough time with P-dawg here, you find out she’s like that with everyone.
    Pearl: Thank you so much for the vote of confidence, Amethyst.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The Gems have met a lot of scientist such as Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein, though Pearl tends to mock them. Pearl also claims that she helped the latter with the Relativity Theory. Pearl also claims that Chopin was a party animal. Given that it's Pearl talking about humans, most of what she said and did should probably be taken with a reasonable-sized grain of salt.
    • In the final chapter, Connie tells her mother that Pearl has personal testimonials from Charlemagne-de-lion, Tomoe Gozen, and Jeanne de Clisson in lieu of valid certification as a swordsmanship instructor.
    • The Mona Lisa is the Mona Garnet; it is displayed in the Louvre and as with the original, a part of the face "follows you around the room". Given that it's Garnet, the feature is the lips instead of the eyes.
  • Berserk Button:
    • For the Crystal Gems, do not badmouth Rose Quartz. Especially in front of Steven.
    • Thanks to her time trapped in the mirror, Lapis doesn't take well being told what to do.
    • Rose Quartz herself is and has been one for Jasper for most of her life.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Connie in the junkyard fight.
    • The Beach City kids rescue Peridot from Gem Busters when she tries to pull a Heroic Sacrifice and gets poofed for it.
  • Brick Joke: The Newton Cradle Peridot stole in the first chapter reappears in the end. Dr. Jeong gives it to her, stating she hates it because it reminds her of the 80s and she's been trying to foist it off on her colleagues.
  • Broken Bird: Lapis Lazuli and Jasper. Jasper is described as an ex-soldier suffering from PTSD, though Jasper disagrees with the "ex" part of ex-soldier.
  • Book-Ends: The fic starts with a pool party, and ends with another one.
  • Boxed Crook: Technically, by the end, Peridot is one of these. Despite her shenanigans creating an Omnicidal Maniac A.I, Mayor Dewey manages to wrangle her into updating Beach City to the digital age...and helping him deal with his e-mail spam.
  • Butt-Monkey: Peridot suffers all kinds of misfortune, both physical abuse and humiliation. Lessened as her Heel–Face Turn progresses.
  • Call-Back: To the TV episode "The Message", with Greg's artwork of a menacing, scary Lapis, itself a call-back to one of her early designs. Lapis loves it, and Peridot asks why she doesn't have awesome art of herself while giving Greg Puppy-Dog Eyes.
    • "Now X is gone, but Y is still here", in reference to Pearl's line from "Rose's Scabbard", crops up frequently enough to be considered Arc Words.
  • Cassandra Truth: Wrong Genre Savvy Cloud Cuckoo Lander Ronaldo has an unusual moment of clarity when he's tasked with alerting the other boardies that Jasper is on a rampage and headed into Beach City: if he runs down the street screaming about an alien warlord invading, he won't exactly get taken seriously. In the end, Sadie is tasked with sounding the alarm.
  • Cast from Hit Points: During the final battle, when Lapis is far away from any large sources of water and needs it to use her powers, Steven suggests that since the human body is 80% water, she could drain the moisture from his body and use that. Everyone, including Lapis, immediately shoots him down.
  • Child Soldier: Gems don't age the way humans do, but in a flashback to their pre-Rebellion days, Ruby, Sapphire, and Rose Quartz are visibly disgusted and appalled that Homeworld's forces put the first test batch of Kindergarten-bred Jaspers in a deadly warzone when they were barely three months old.
  • Clipped-Wing Angel: Jasper with her Gem intact is unpleasant, cocky, and aggressive. Jasper with her gem cracked is a homicidal one-Gem wrecking crew perfectly willing to kill Steven to try to get Rose to regenerate into her original form and destroy anybody who irritates her or gets in her way. Lampshaded by Pearl that a cracked Gem damages either a Gem's mental or her physical integrity. Taken to Body Horror levels when Jasper's bubble pops, and she immediately regenerates with her cracked gem...and starts to melt and fall apart.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Like on the show, Peridot's limb-enhancer-less form generates 'awws' and amusement from those around her despite her annoyance.
  • Damsel in Distress: Connie is briefly taken hostage by Peridot in an attempt to escape the Crystal Temple. She beats herself up later for allowing herself to become the victim of this trope.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Lapis has one. The exact details are not disclosed, since only fragments of it are seen, but it seems that she was ostracized on Homeworld, was Made a Slave, then was forced to fight for Homeworld during the Crystal Gem war, then got put in the mirror for 2,000 years.
  • Death Seeker: Jasper is shown as this during the battle against the Gem Busters, but flashbacks imply that she's been harboring this tendency ever since her entire platoon/batch was wiped out and she was the only survivor:
    Jasper: Tell me what I did wrong! We were all supposed to die, right? That’s what we were made for! But I’m alive! I must have done something wrong!
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Lapis starts out cold and hostile towards everybody sans Steven, but starts to slowly warm up as the story progresses, and even strikes a friendship with Amethyst when the latter introduces her to eating. Towards the end, she even admits she's starting to appreciate Earth.
    • Though not an Ice Queen by any stretch of the imagination, Connie admits to being afraid of Lapis in early chapters, but forces herself to spend time with her and later helps Steven rescue her from a Gem Buster and trains her in swordcraft, starting to befriend her.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Peridot and Pearl are temporarily distracted by the sight of Rose Quartz's hips during flashbacks to Jasper's past while they're all stuck in Rose's Room.
  • Does Not Like Spam: Amethyst doesn't like tea. Considering how much of an Extreme Omnivore she is, that says something about her standards.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Jasper takes over the Cool Car when they head to defeat the Gem Busters. She drives exactly like you'd expect her to.
  • Elemental Baggage: Lapis Lazuli can make a tower out of the ocean, crush a robot using water pressure alone, and make armies of clones and weapons out of water...when she's close to the ocean. When the Gem Buster A.I. seals her into its core construct with the other Gems, she's forced to use only the water she has to hand, i.e. her wings. Steven even tries, with no luck, to see if anyone brought a water bottle with them.
  • Enemy Within: Lapis thinks Jasper is this to her. It's actually Malachite, and the weight of her own self-loathing and bad history.
  • Eternal Engine: The Crystal Gems have to go into the main gem buster to defeat it due to it's massive size.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Peridot isn't especially impressed with humanity in general, or the Crystal Gems, but she saves Sadie from a rampaging Jasper, and later performs a Heroic RRoD to stop the homicidal AI she created from going on a quest to destroy all life in the universe.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Connie's parents come down hard on her for running away from home and doing dangerous things behind their backs, but even they are shocked when Peridot thinks they're going to incinerate her and Lapis thinks they're going to send her to "human child jail".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Peridot can't understand why the Crystal Gems care about "lesser" beings like humans. She also doesn't understand why Steven would be willing to try and befriend hostile Gems, including her.
    Peridot: He cares about everybody even when they’re trying to kill him. He’s thick as a tectonic plate.
    Lapis: Steven's not stupid.
    Peridot: I didn't say stupid, I said dense! He's got glitched friend-or-foe programming, or whatever it is humans call it!
    • Jasper is confused and appalled by Sadie and Kiki comforting Peridot after her Freak Out!.
  • Evil Gloating: Peridot does this when she takes Connie hostage and taunts the Crystal Gems; Connie promptly starts criticizing her Genre Blindness and trying to give her pointers, at least long enough to distract Peridot by poking her in the eye.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: When Pearl says how human teenagers are dumb, angst-filled and hormone-driven, she then realizes that Steven is a couple years from becoming a teenager himself. The idea of Steven growing facial hair terrifies her.
  • Expy: SILICA is pretty clearly a combined expy of Portal's GLaDOS and System Shock 's SHODAN with some JLU-flavour Braniac thrown in for good measure.
  • Fantastic Slur:
    • Besides the usual "clod", an unnamed Gem in Lapis' flashback calls her "one-karat" for being a sculptor. Based on context, it appears to mean "worthless" (a sculptor would be of little value to the militaristic, conquest-obsessed Gem empire).
    • Jasper also at one point calls Pearl "oyster waste", which seems to be a slur directed at Pearls specifically.
    • During an argument with Jasper, Peridot calls her a "variegated coal lump".
  • Foreshadowing: During a movie night, Steven, Greg, Connie, and Lapis watch a thinly-veiled analogue of The Iron Giant, a movie about an alien war machine who befriends a little boy and sacrifices himself to save humanity. Flash forward a few chapters and Jasper tries to do just that, although it's implied to be motivated by despair rather than love.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: A big theme of the story. While Steven wants to see the best in everyone and give all the Homeworld Gems a chance, the Crystal Gems and Greg are willing to see things his way, but not at the expense of forgetting Lapis, Peridot, and Jasper's records where attempted murder and mayhem are concerned. While it's played for laughs sometimes (see under Never Live It Down), at one point Greg tells Jasper outright that there is a part of him that will always hate the Homeworld Gems for having tried to kill Steven. He doesn't feel it would do any good to act on it, and he doesn't like the person that makes him, but given that this is Greg we're talking about, Jasper does the smart thing and takes him seriously.
  • Freak Out!: Peridot suffers one of these after she realizes everything she's done has been a catastrophic failure. Kiki and Sadie try to help her calm down.
  • Freaky Is Cool: Part of Homeworld's reason for disliking fusions is that they usually have additional body parts, which are seen as grotesque. Amethyst, however, thinks that it's pretty cool, besides an additional pair of arms can be very useful.
  • Freudian Excuse:
    • After having been rescued and offered caring and kindness by Rose Quartz, Jasper was lied to and used against Rose by Yellow Diamond, and she's not exactly happy when she learns the truth.
    • It is implied that Lars is so grumpy and cynical because he was bullied when he was younger. When Ronaldo criticizes him for his obsession with being cool, Lars responds, "I learned a long time before that that if you don't fit in, people will completely ruin your life!"
    • Lapis' Battle in the Center of the Mind hints that she's come from a Friendless Background, been bullied, was made to come to Earth by an abusive ex/owner, and when said ex tired of her, she was forcibly conscripted and made to fight against Rose's forces when she just wanted to run away.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Peridot's Jerkass attitude doesn't endear her to the Crystal Gems or the people of Beach City. That said, she starts to defrost when forced to ally with them, in order to defeat the sentient robot menace she accidentally created.
  • Genius Loci: Rose's Room, as usual, decides to take its own approach to interpreting Steven's needs and wishes: this time, it involves thrusting Lapis into a Battle in the Center of the Mind and forcing Jasper to relive flashbacks of her career as cannon fodder and how she met Rose. Multiple characters lampshade the Room's odd behaviour, from bringing up things neither Rose nor Steven could possibly know (justified by the events of "Chille Tid" in-story) to flat out ignoring Steven's direct commands, but when the pink whale puts in an appearance, it's heavily implied that Rose herself has been calling the shots in the room this time.
  • Genre Savvy: Connie, who uses it to stall Peridot long enough to get rescued by Lapis: see under Evil Gloating and Pity the Kidnapper.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: The Fanfic. Steven and Connie read comics and watch movies with Lapis. Steven tries to induce this with an unwilling Peridot by having an "intergalactic friendship breakfast" with her and taking her out for fries; he fails, but she sets up shop at the Big Donut for their free Wi Fi and trolls Ronaldo and Lars until Sadie kicks her out. When Jasper returns after her Villainous BSoD, Greg sits with her and lets her listen to his collection of heavy metal albums while they have a serious talk.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: A unilateral example: after days of seeing the Gems battle robots and overhearing them talk about how the robots are initially only interested in killing Gems (and Steven!) , Beach City's humans hold a town hall meeting in Fish Stew Pizza and resolve to help the Gems, whether they like it or not.
    • Pee Dee Fryman does this on behalf of Steven, to Connie, once again without being asked. His reasoning? She owns a BFS.
  • Gun Kata: Ronaldo tries to do this with two paint-ball pistols and skins his knees.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Peridot, Jasper, and Silica (the Gembuster AI).
  • Heroic RRoD: After a fight with the Gem Busters, the Crystal Gems and Lapis were so exhausted that their bodies poofed. Fortunately, all of them regenerated in a couple hours.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Jasper seemingly dies while taking down the last defenses of the Gem Buster AI. Turns out she survived.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Despite Peridot being complicit in perpetuating the forced fusion experiments at the Kindergarten, and Garnet's feelings on the matter, Garnet decides after a few minutes one-on-one with Peridot that she's an example of this trope, and that picking on her would just make Garnet a bully. Afterwards, while she's not exactly friendly to Peridot, she's more aloof and less confrontational to her.
  • Humans Are Insects: This trope more-or-less summarizes Peridot's (and presumably all Homeworld Gems') view of humans, as short-lived organic aliens living on a backwater planet that is of little interest to the Gem empire, aside from the whole thing that happened with Rose Quartz's rebellion 5,000 years ago.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Lars' reaction to finding out that Garnet is a fusion is to mutter that he wishes he was old enough to buy beer.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Pretty much any time Lapis or Steven talk about wieners and hot dogs. Later Lapis understands their double meaning when Garnet explains her about human sex and reproduction.
  • Insult to Rocks: Garnet says that Peridot is as immature as a child, then takes it back because that would be an insult to Steven and Connie.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lars is his usual rude, lazy, inappropriate self, but he gets very upset when he thinks the Crystal Gems are dead and apologizes to Steven, tries to be a bit more helpful after that, and even tries to defend Peridot from Jasper...by throwing rock-hard frozen donuts at her. With his eyes shut.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: A trip to Rose's Room induces this for both Lapis and Jasper, with Steven as unwilling tour guide.
  • Just a Machine: Steven, being Steven, notices the Gem Busters repairing each other and views it as them helping their friends: Garnet has to shut him down quickly, because as soon as the Gem Busters detect him, they do try to murder him. He saves and rehabilitates the AI, giving her the task of using a few robonoids to search for corrupted Gems and Forced Fusions.
  • Kill 'Em All: The Gem Buster's AI has decided that this is the best option for peace on a universal scale, so that only it remains.
  • Killer Robot: The Gem Busters, relentless Gem-hunting machines designed by the Homeworld to trap escaped Gem criminals and smash them to shards. Peridot mentions pairs of them being standard on all escape pods "since that one prison ship breakout". The real trouble only comes when one of Peridot's flask robonoids escapes and uses its nanites to repair one of the Gem Busters...which then starts building more Gem Buster robots.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The Gem Buster Hive Mind AI.
  • Last of Her Kind: Deconstructed and played with in Jasper: when she is the only one of her experimental Kindergarten clutch to survive a horrifying war zone under incompetent commanders, Yellow Diamond frames this as proof of her "strength" and informs her that all other Kindergarten Gems will be modeled on her. This later turns out to be a lie, as the Diamonds discuss removing some of Jasper's experimental assets (such as forced regeneration and resistance to bubbling) before starting new batches of Kindergarten soldiers.
  • Let's Play: Ronaldo suggests doing a Let's Play with Peridot after the battle with the Gembuster AI, specifically a drunk LP of Minecraft. Peridot's interest is piqued by Minecraft.
  • Literal-Minded: At one point, Mr. Maheswaran scolds Jasper for using the word "schist" in front of Connie and says, "Don't you dare use [foul] language in front of my daughter!" Jasper just says, "What am I supposed to do? Grunt and point?"
  • Little Miss Badass: As in canon, Connie, who takes her swordcraft Up to Eleven when she takes on giant robots and slices Jasper's arm off to rescue Steven when the former is on a cracked-gem rampage. At one point, Pee Dee reflects that out of all of Steven's friends and family, he called her to help Steven because instead of trying to run away from the Gem Buster that attacked the beach party they were all attending, she tried to run toward it.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Peridot insults Garnet, or better said her components, for being this to each other.
  • Mama Bear: All of the Crystal Gems, and to a degree eventually Lapis, but Jasper makes the mistake of turning her back on Pearl after having chased, grabbed, and threatened to murder Steven, and Pearl promptly ends their fight with extreme prejudice.
  • Martial Pacifist: Rose is described as being this during the war with Homeworld. She'd much rather have her enemies listen to reason and either join her side or drop their weapons and be neutral than fight them.
  • Meaningful Name: Silica, the Gembuster AI's new name, was chosen for two reasons. One is the fact that it's an acronym for Silicon Inhibited Life Intelligence Class Amorphous. The other is that it's a term for silicon dioxide, which is most commonly found on earth in the form of quartz.
  • Mecha-Mooks: The overarching antagonists of the story are these, as the Homeworld Gems go through various stages of a Heel–Face Turn. They're dangerous, but not intelligent at first.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Jasper was made as part of an experimental batch of Kindergarten soldiers and was the only survivor out of the six hundred. She saw her friend and Big Sister Mentor, Lydite, get killed right in front of her when a creature called a Spitter poofed her and then dissolved her gem with acid.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Jasper does this to Peridot on the Beach City pier.
  • Musical Assassin: Greg incapacitates and almost shatters Jasper's cracked Gem by rocking out with a LOT of speakers turned up full blast.
  • The Mole: Sapphire was one of these in Rose's forces during the Gem war. At least, until she foresaw the consequences of Homeworld winning, which was enough to have her to join Rose.
  • Morton's Fork: During the war for Earth, Blue Diamond forced every Gem in her court to fight the Crystal Gems, even the workers and artisans. She killed all the Gems that managed to come back alive after losing in battle. If you were one of her Gems, either you were shattered in battle, or you were killed by her after losing. Or you defected to the Crystal Gems...
  • Must Have Caffeine: Peridot becomes addicted to coffee while she stays at the Big Donut, which she pays for with stolen e-transfers.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Peridot has one of these when she realizes the Gem Busters have gained sapience due to her actions.
    • Lapis has a couple of low-key ones as she grows closer to Connie...and then remembers that she once tried to drown her.
  • My Greatest Failure: Garnet, and in particular Ruby, feels that she has some bad karma left over from only having been able to rescue Jasper; Ruby missed saving Jasper's last surviving friend and squad-mate by seconds. Sapphire also suggests that with her Future Vision she should have foreseen a way to counter the Xenotime Kosmochlor snafu; Ruby insists she can't stop Gem stupidity, but still feels guilt herself.
  • The Napoleon: Ruby gets rather irritated when Lars makes fun of her height. So does Peridot.
  • Never Found the Body: Despite everybody thought that she died, the fact that nobody found Jasper's gemstone made some believe she was still alive. And she is.
  • Never Live It Down: In-Universe examples:
    • Garnet brings up the fact that Pearl has a long-standing habit of being unkind and condescending to human scientists she meets, some of whom include the most famous scientific minds in human history. Pearl attempts to defend herself by pointing out that she wasn't rude to Rosalind Franklin...
    Garnet: You laughed at Isaac Newton for a solid half hour. Then you patted him on his wig and said his ignorance was charming.
    Pearl: That was one time.
    Garnet: You also really demoralized that guy Einstein when he made a pilgrimage to the temple that one time.
    Pearl: Well, his relativity work was painfully flawed, and he did take my suggestions into consideration…
    Garnet: You made some unkind remarks about his hair in the process.
    • Whenever Lapis is mentioned, somebody will bring up the time she stole the ocean.
    • As if Peridot didn't get enough grief, her poor driving skills re: the Giant Green Hand Ship are often brought up by unimpressed humans. At one point she even bursts out in frustration that she wasn't even at the controls when it went down.
    • All of this comes to a head when Barb Miller, Sadie's mother, delivers summonses to two of the three Homeworld Gems:
    Barb: Summons from the mayor’s office in lieu of an arresting officer, asking you to appear in county court on one charge of grand theft aqua. Isn’t that a gas? And this one’s for you. Destruction of property, uttering threats, assault, assault causing bodily harm, assault causing bodily harm and destruction of property, assault on a minor, contributing to the...anyway, you get the idea. Your court date’s in two months, maybe don’t wear the spandex jump suit, it makes you look like a Star Trek bad guy.
    • And later...
    Barb: You can be her character witness when she’s in court for, uh, let’s see here...didn’t get a chance to deliver this one...oh yeah, reckless operation of a vehicle weighing over two tonnes, says here in brackets “Green Hand Space Ship” and a bunch of question marks.
    • In the epilogue, Mayor Dewey offers Peridot absolution in return for community service, which amounts to acting as tech support for the entirety of Beach City.
  • Noodle Incident: The Crystal Gems were in jail once, in 1933. They stole a police car.
    Amethyst: I mean, in our defense, Rose just said "We have to catch up with that taxi", she didn’t say how
  • No Social Skills: Peridot doesn't understand why the other Peridots she was friends with stopped talking to her when she got better scores at something called Galactic Mineworks Simulator and rubbed it in their faces.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: In a flashback, Sapphire tells Ruby not to make a rude hand gesture in front of a young Jasper, saying, "You've got a three-month-old right there. She'll pick up bad habits."
  • Odd Friendship: Amethyst and Lapis start developing one of these, to the point where, out of the Crystal Gems who aren't named Steven, Amethyst takes it the hardest when Lapis bolts on them. Twice.
  • Oh, Crap!: Peridot suffers from this when Lapis briefly channels Jasper after she takes Connie hostage.
    • And again after she insults Garnet for being a fusion.
    • And again upon seeing Sugilite for the first time. Though at that time she almost completed her Heel–Face Turn
  • Omniglot: When talking on the phone to the parents of Beach City in Chapter 7, Garnet reveals that she can speak both Vietnamese (for Lars' house) and the "wah wah wah" language that that Onion's family uses.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Coprolite is a common swear among Gems. Bilingual Bonus kicks in when you realize that it's the scientific term for 'fossilized poo'.
  • Pet the Dog: Peridot rescues Sadie when Jasper throws her toward a rock wall.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: Peridot takes Connie hostage. It starts to go wrong for her when Connie berates her for taunting the Gems instead of escaping or negotiating, and ends in a slapfight between a powered alien super-being and an unarmed grade-schooler...at least until Lapis Lazuli steps in.
  • Primal Scene: When Garnet explains how human reproduction works, Lapis finds it generally hysterical and enlightening, but Peridot is so horrified by the concept that she lets out a Skyward Scream. She's even more horrified when she learns that humans as a species have live births instead of "doing something civilized like laying eggs," and continues to assume that babies are a communicable illness throughout the story.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Rose Quartz tended to gather "misfits" under her care. Steven seems to be following under her footsteps with Lapis, Peridot, Jasper, and The Gembuster AI.
  • Shout-Out: At the end of the story, when Lapis is preparing to go Walking the Earth to learn more about the world and humanity, Garnet gives her a lifetime pass to the Louvre, which Rose got when she questioned their acquisition of the famous "Mona Garnet". Her lips apparently follow you around the room.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: Ruby and Sapphire, like in canon.
  • Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: Jasper gives one of these to Stevonnie, mixed in with a Hannibal Lecture and a Heroic Sacrifice.
    Jasper: I’ll give you some free advice, runt. You’ll command armies someday, I don’t need any garbage future vision to tell me that. Learn this first, and learn it well: someone always has to die.
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Peridot develops this kind of relationship with Sadie and Lars, and to a degree Ronaldo: when her hurtful comments send him on a wild goose chase that ends up putting him in danger, she shows brief signs of remorse. He's later shown to be interested in starting a Wizards and Wishing Wells group that includes Peridot...and claims for himself the class that Pee Dee and Steven are certain Peridot will want (magus), leading both of them to speculate he's perpetuating the dynamic.
  • Spot of Tea: Even though she still finds the eating process disgusting, Pearl appreciates a perfectly brewed cup of tea. Amethyst comments that "[she] can't believe Pearl's favorite thing about Earth cuisine is dead boiled leaves".
  • Start of Darkness: Rose's Room gives the cast front-row seats to Jasper's.
  • Squishy Wizard: Lapis Lazuli. As Pearl points out, she might not be very strong physically, but she's a very powerful hydromancer.
  • Take That!: When reading one of the comics Connie brought her, Lapis mentioned that the characters looked more like inflated triangles rather than human beings. The author and artist of that comic? "Rob Snowfield". Then again, Lapis is shown not to be a fan of comics in general, and Steven obviously liked "Snowfield's" work enough to collect his entire run of Batman Expy "Fruitbatman".
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Lapis may be on good terms with Steven, but is rather hostile (at first) to the other Crystal Gems. The same goes for Peridot and Jasper, and later all three Homeworld Gems are having a harder time dealing with each other and their shared history than with the Crystal Gems and humans.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The fic appears to wrap up neatly...and then introduces a new Homeworld Gem Big Bad, her Dragon, and a potential bounty hunter with orders to kidnap Lapis, Jasper, and possibly Steven into the bargain.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Jasper delivers one to a very hateful minion of Yellow Diamond's that's intended for the entire Gem Empire, before smashing the tracker beacon that allows them to find Earth. Doubles as a "World of Cardboard" Speech.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Peridot and Jasper
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Sugilite is far less destructive and brutish than in canon. Justified, since Garnet and Amethyst made sure that this time she wouldn't go out of control. Peridot and Jasper also do so, though their's are both subtle.
  • Troll: in the epilogue, Peridot is said to systematically troll commenters on TubeTube.
    • Peridot is positive that SILICA is doing this to her by insisting on calling her "mother".
  • Unnecessarily Creepy Robot: The Gem Busters are apparently designed this way.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Peridot activated the Gem Busters to defeat the Crystal Gems, not become a sapient self-building AI out to kill ALL life in the universe.
  • Uriah Gambit: In Jasper's origin story, she was created as part of an experimental batch of Kindergarten Jaspers who were deliberately sent on missions that would destroy them, in order to find the inherent errors in their programming so the next batch of Gems would have improved features.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Believe it or not, Jasper, at least before Yellow Diamond got her hands on her and cut her off from Rose.
  • Walking the Earth: In the end, Lapis decides to take a journey to explore Earth.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Although she had an audience, the Gem Buster AI offers Peridot a chance to go home with a clean slate out of "gratitude", and none of the humans present could stop it; the AI points out that Peridot will be dead long before it reaches the Homeworld, so what does she care about the destruction of lesser beings and clods she doesn't even like when she could have everything she wanted? Apparently, the answer is: plenty.
    • Peridot tells Silica (the rehabilitated Gembuster AI) that while removing the 'destroy Gems' part of her programming, she could have deleted all of her programming with no one being the wiser. Silica is appreciative that she didn't.
  • Wimp Fight: What Peridot's attempt to take Connie hostage eventually degrades into.
    • Amethyst stops a physical fight between Pearl and Lapis Lazuli, mostly to protect them from each other but also on the basis that it would be one of these with their "little noodle arms".
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Lapis' Battle in the Center of the Mind is going badly, Steven jumps in to defend her this way.
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