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A Twist in Our Story

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Another human. Another one to steal her attention. Another one for her to play with for a couple of decades until it loses its charm and eventually die, like always. Like the weaklings that they are, and always would be.

 

Of course, Rose will cry for at least a decade more after it’s gone, since her toy of the moment just got broken by their own biological limitations, and when she is finally finished, she will go back to me…

 

'…As always. As if she never had set me aside for someone else.'

 

Pearl’s mind repeated those thoughts while she walked away from her Diamond in disguise and their unaware companions; who were too busy laughing from a made-up song that the human Greg had just played for them to notice her absence.

 

Not that it would make any difference. Her behavior was already expected, her misery turned into some kind of running joke among them, to the point she even wondered if they had come to enjoy seeing her in such a degrading state.

She wouldn’t put beside them. She was well aware that as a Pearl, her feelings were very much ignored, common knowledge establishing them as something more akin to a flair for the dramatic than anything else.

 

They weren’t supposed to make her feel like this. They were supposed to be her friends, and Rose was supposed to be…

 

 

…She must walk away. She must think.

 

As the laughter and joy from her friends and the human fade away from the distance, Pearl decided to wander aimlessly, until she felt a little more like the slave, the tool she was made up to be, than the self-aware being who was feeling so mocked, and so used by all the unfair circumstances that her Diamond imposed upon her.

 

The worst thing about all this was the fact that she couldn't do anything to counteract the root of the problem. She was programmed to love and obey her Diamond's every wish, after all, she never had any choice since the beginning of Rose's nonsensical rebellion.

 

---

 

After seemly countless hours of walking, wandering, teleporting from one warp pad to another without any propose or direction in mind, Pearl eventually reached an almost forgotten place from her memories.

 

The Galaxy Warp.

 

This place still made her long for space, for the comfort of the stars so close to her and more importantly, away from the annoying organic life that Earth had in each despicable part of its surface.

 

It felt almost like… Home, that is, if she ever could return to Homeworld without being shattered on the spot.

 

"…How ironic." Pearl said, staring at the star-filled sky, without any care but the need to vent to the silence of the night just how unfair everything in her existence seemed to be. "I was made to serve, to be loyal and to follow her every whim. I fought a war trying to accomplish this objective, but after everything that was said and done, this planet still is so despicable. I cannot leave it even if I actually hope for it every second of every day that I am forced to remain here.”

 

Closing her eyes, Peal allowed her angry tears to fall. “…This planet is nothing more than a prison that forces me to keep an infinite cycle of misery.”

 

The gem opened her eyes and turned her gaze to the ground, looking around for nothing in particular, until she saw something.

 

“Wait, is that…?” She walked slowly until she reached what she had seen, crouching and picking up from under the debris that the Galaxy Warp still had. “A Gem powered mirror?”

 

Pearl had heard terrifying stories about those kinds of artifacts. They were just rumors, and she never paid too much attention to them around that time. She had a war to win for her Diamond and she could not waste time looking into other matters, as curious it might have been to her.

 

She turned the round mirror around, trying to analyze its design and intricacy, fascinated and perplexed with its eerie beauty, when she noticed the cracked Gem on its back.

 

‘This Gem… I believe it’s a Lapis Lazuli?’ She thought while walking around in circles with the mirror cradled on her hands.

 

“…But why would a terraformer Gem be stuck in a mirror? They are so valuable to Homeworld’s efforts to simply… Unless…”

 

‘Unless she was defective… Or worse’

 

Pearl thought about the almost endlessly number of corrupted Gems that Rose Quartz, her Diamond, made them battle since that fated day which ended the war. Their former allies, friends, and even enemies being turned into nothing more than wandering beasts that were bound only to a monstrous need to cause havoc and destruction, without being capable of reason, without any mercy and anything that actually made them as a sentient species.

 

Animals. No better than those evolved primates, primates who kept trying to hide how beast-like they were, when in the end, that would always be what they really were.

 

That Lapis Lazuli stuck on this mirror since that time, could be easily one of those warped Gems, with not a single memory of what made her a rational being. Not to mention, she could be shattered even if she handled the mirror in a way where the cracks could worsen.

 

“What should I do with you?”

 

‘Maybe I could heal her using Rose’s Fountain or maybe I could ask Rose…’

 

Pearl took a sharp breath and shook her head from side to side. She knew very well how that would go.

 

‘Rose would heal the Gem, certainly, and if she happened to be corrupted, she would just put it into a bubble and I would be mocked by Amethyst or lightly reprimanded by Garnet while Rose would whine… And I would end up being blamed for it. Like always. Of course, if the Gem isn’t corrupted, Rose would try to bring her to our side and this could go really bad, which would again, leave me to take all the blame, or even worse… Someone else to make me feel even more unwanted that I already do.’

 

“Unless…”

 

Unless she was her secret. Unless she handled this Gem without any interference from the others around her, especially if the possibilities around this unforeseen predicament could make her existence even more annoying than the influx of human playthings that Rose kept around.

 

She was Pink Diamond's Pearl. A servant of the owner of this planet. She would never understand why Rose keeps being so insistent in her obsession with those humans.

 

‘But it’s fine, I suppose’ Pearl eyed the mirror carefully, gently caressing its surface. ‘She can have her precious humans while I figure out how to properly free you.’

 

“I will help you. I promise.” Peal said to the Gem on the mirror while walking towards the only working pad.

 

The Gem on the mirror could not vocalize her answer, but if Pearl could hear her, she would know that she was thankful.

 

---

 

‘Thankfully empty. Good, I really didn’t want to have a confrontation right now, thankfully, I already hid the mirror inside my Gem, so no worries at least on this matter.’ Pearl thought while she approached the Crystal Temple entrance. She allowed her Gem glow and approached the door, already devising more details around her plan for the mirror.

 

“Pearl? Oh, thank the stars you’re finally here!” A sweet and almost sugary like voice echoed behind her, startling the pale Gem immediately. “Ah, I’m sorry, I just was so anxious waiting for your return!”

 

‘Rose… Missed my company? Could that be right?’ Pearl’s eyes almost lighten up in surprise, receiving Rose’s usual gentle smile. The same smile that Rose Quartz gave to her when things went exactly the way she wanted and this action alone was enough to cease any warmth inside Pearl's body.

 

‘No. I will not allow things to go like that, at least not without trying something.’

 

Peal took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She firmly stared at Rose’s dark eyes, her expression cold and hard. This made Rose instinctively recoil, shocked that her Pearl would behave in such unexpected way. However, Rose Quartz wasn’t someone easily impressed by unforeseen actions on her plans, and she recovered quickly, smiling again.

 

“You know, you never took so long to get back to the Temple. Is something of the matter?”

 

‘And you never even bothered to go back home while you were “having fun” with your human toys to even bother with how I was feeling.’ Pearl thought bitterly, without looking at her Diamond’s direction.

 

Rose stood awkwardly in silence, waiting for her Pearl to give an answer. After a minute of silence, without Pearl even looking at her face, she sighed. "Pearl. Please."

 

Turning her gaze towards her Diamond, Pearl flatly answered. "I'm surprised you even noticed my absence since you were so much entertained to care for anything else."

 

Rose nervously laughed, suddenly more interested on the rocks around the warp pad and the ambiance around them than to face Pearl’s eyes.

 

Typical.

 

"Oh, uh, you know. Greg was telling such a funny story about the time he caught a fish and when he tried to cook it, it was actually one of those realistic fake ones that those humans stores sell for decoration, and then he was telling me that he had to-"

 

Pearl almost snarled in anger, but since she was physically and mentally incapable of doing so by whatever command the Diamonds inserted on her psyche, it had come out as a wave of barely restrained anger. "I don't care for anything that human has to say, Rose. If you knew me enough you should have seen this coming."

 

Roses gasped. A part of Pearl felt horrible for making her Diamond so distressed, but she restrained the instinct to grovel and beg for her forgiveness and focused in lashing out as much as she could.

 

“If you cared, you wouldn’t try to replace me for any new human you happened to meet; or it is the shortness of their pitiful existence so appealing to you, that you could go around breaking my heart whenever you feel bored with me, or whenever you find anyone more captivating?” Pearl’s eyes filled with tears and they fell down across her face fast, a current of repressed emotions being finally voiced to the person she just wished she was enough.

 

Rose whined, her expression one of sadness and pain, her eyes leaking such an abundance of tears enough to make Pearl’s natural submissive nature to her Diamond kick in, and she cautiously approached her. “R-Rose? I’m so sorry, I-”

 

Her Diamond shook her head negatively and run to the Temple’s door, clearly opting to hide in her own Gem room, leaving Pearl to look at her retreating form.

 

As always, with Rose abandoning her to her own pain.

 

“Oh, what have I done now…” Pearl hold her head, staring at her own feet.

 

She walked away until she got to the Warp Pad. She could not stay here until she had cooled off.

 

‘Maybe I should really check Rose's Fountain… At least this one I will not make matters worse by crying for something I've said. Oh, my stars… I really am defective. Perhaps I've should have been replaced.'

 

But while Pearl was teleporting to the Fountain’s familiar pad, she bitterly spoke to the emptiness of her own thoughts.

 

‘…Maybe that’s the exact reason she always does that.’

 

---

  

“Well, the Fountain is already working, now I just have to take the Mirror Gem and place it on the water…”

 

Pearl looked upon the Mirror one more time. There was not a single thing that she could do with this artifact that wouldn’t end up in a problem for her. Maybe keeping it on her Gem would actually be more sensible than to unleash whatever was lurking on it out. Maybe it was the right thing to do.

 

“Ugh, Mirror, what should I do to help things go better?” She said while staring upon its reflexive surface.

 

The mirror flashed for a moment and it showed weird flashes of her voice and apparently images of her that it had somehow recorded.

 

“I will help you, I promise. This planet is nothing more than a prison that forces me to keep an infinite cycle of misery, I am forced to remain here.” It somehow tried to communicate using some of the words she had said while in its presence.

 

To say that Pearl was perplexed was an understatement.

 

“Incredible…” She let her eyes grow big with curiosity while she caressed the mirror’s surface. "So, I’m afraid to even ask, but you can understand what I am saying, yes?”

 

The mirror repeated the image and sound Pearl just uttered. “Yes.”

 

‘Well, then I can say for a fact that this isn't a corrupted Gem since it is showing signs of sentience…'

 

“All right, listen to me: Your Gem is damaged, with a deep crack on it, and I am unsure if I can remove it gently enough without breaking you by accident. So, I have no other choice but to place you on this Fountain so your Gem can be healed from its damage. Do you understand?”

 

The Mirror repeated another phrase. “I’m afraid. I am unsure, but this planet is so despicable. I cannot leave even if I actually hope for it every second of every day that I am forced to remain here. Help me. Place it on the water. Help things go better.”

 

“Oh, I get it now, even if the vocabulary is a little limited due to the circumstances, but I will heal you now, and then I will remove you from your prison. At least someone here can be free of their shackles.”

 

With no more delays, Pearl gently let the Fountain's waterfall over the cracked Gem on the back of the mirror, feeling somewhat joyful into witnessing another of her Diamond's impressive characteristics manifesting onto this Gem, even if it wasn't her original intent.

 

And faster than anyone would expect, the Gem was healed, any sign of damage gone from its surface.

 

‘It never ceases to amaze me how Rose can do things like this…' Pearl sighed and shook her head. There would be another time for feeling pitiful. Right now, she has a Gem to set free.

 

“How are you feeling? Can I safely try to free you?”

 

The mirror showed a different image this time. It wasn't any of Pearl's words or any facial expression she had made while in the mirror's presence, but instead, a shadow of a Gem with shining blue eyes stared back at her. “Get me out of here. I want to be free.”

 

That was the confirmation that Pearl needed, so she took hold of the Gem stationed upon the Mirror’s back and started to pull. She tried once, twice, and each time she observed that the water around the fountain seemed to be reacting to her efforts.

 

“I will not give up. Not when it’s certainly working!” She shouted, feeling far more like her real self during the war than the dull-like version she was forced to become while Rose kept her interests exclusively to those humans; still treating her as a slave even if she said otherwise.

 

That line of thought made Pearl feel even more angry, her frustrations, her pain and despair all turning into leverage, into something that she could use to pull that Gem off the mirror, making her roar with all her repressed rage. "I AM PEARL, AND I'M NO ONE'S SLAVE!"

 

With that shout, she removed the Gem from the Mirror, feeling its surface shatter and with the impulse, the Gem flew from her hand, making Pearl fall on her back.

 

"Ugh…" She moaned in pain. The strength she used, combined with the strange blast that the mirror released when she broke it, was enough to make her feel like a huge Quartz had stomped all over her body.  She tentatively turned around and felt her mouth drop at the sight before her.

 

The Gem was emitting the usual reform light, but it was quite a majestic sight to behold. The body slowly took form, making what seemed to be this Gem chosen appearance fall on her knees while her back was turned.

 

‘Such a beautiful color, so beautifully blue… It really must be a noble Gem by the looks of it…’

 

Pearl shook her head as if to clear her awestruck thoughts and raised to her feet, walking towards the Gem. “Are you ok? Do you need assistance?”

 

The Gem turned towards Pearl’s direction immediately, almost like she was startled. “What! Who…?”

 

Pearl rose her hands cautiously and stopped on her tracks. “Calm down, I was the one who freed you from the mirror, I just wanted to talk to you.”

 

The Gem stood up and stared at Pearl's eyes. Weary, but not defensive at least. "I am listening."

 

“Well, that’s a relief, at least something is going ok, hahaha…” At Pearl’s awkward attempt to defuse the situation turned it even more uncomfortable, the heavy silence like a crushing hammer upon her Gem. Without any way out of that situation, she sighed. “I really don’t know what to say. I guess I wanted to ask your name?”

 

The Gem raised an eyebrow inquisitively, and the action made Pearl’s discomfort raise. It was almost as embarrassing as the times she flirted with-

 

“Lapis Lazuli…” The Blue Gem said, interrupting Pearl’s thoughts. “I am… Thankful that you freed me. Now tell me, who are you?”

 

Taken aback due to Lapis candidness, the pale Gem was shocked. "Oh, I'm nobody important, I mean, I am just a Pearl…"

 

“I am aware that you happen to be a Pearl, but you really aren’t just a Pearl.” Lapis pointed said, crossing her arms. “So, tell me.”

 

Pearl wanted to laugh and cry over the irony of that statement. “Oh Lapis, if only others thought like you.”

 

"So, you are mistreated by your owner? Haven't they given you a name to call your own?" Again, the Blue Gem's quick and sharp answers were too much for the pale Gem to deal with.

 

“No, that’s not it, I…” Pearl took a deep breath, not because she needed it, but more like a way to allow her to process what she wanted to say. She gave Lapis a firm stare. “I am known simply as Pearl, and as strange as it may be, I don’t have-”

 

A sharp pain coming from the center of her Gem manifested as soon as the thought was made. Apparently, to deny her Diamond’s ownership was something she wasn’t even allowed to say. She tried to keep her physical form stable and decided to relent. “I mean, I do serve someone, but is not like you are thinking”.

 

Lapis eyebrow rose again and she frowned. "I still feel like you have an owner who is mistreating you. That isn't unheard off, but I never understood why would any sane Gem work hard to be rewarded by the Diamond Authority and to receive her own Pearl, just so she could treat her badly. Don't they have Rubies and other grunt-like Gems to thrown their frustrations upon? Why would anyone even damage such an exquisite prize?”

 

“P-Prize?” At Lapis unexpected compliment, Pearl felt her cheeks burning, probably turning into that strange blueish hue that Amethyst often made a mockery of. “I’m not a prize! I am my own person, I-”

 

In a flash, Lapis crossed the distance towards Pearl and closely stared at her, giving her a smile that almost made her eyes look like a pair of stars. “But you are quite the Gem. You did free me as soon as you found me, and I was waiting and waiting for who knows how long.”

 

“Uh, I assume you mean since the war? You might not like to hear about it.”

 

Sitting around the Fountain’s borders and motioning to Pearl to sit by her side, Lapis stated. “Allow me to be the judge of that.”

 

Pearl hesitated for a moment before sighing and sitting by Lapis side.

 

‘I have a bad feeling about this…’   

 

"Well, you know the war turned horribly since all the shattering..." Pearl had to force those words out, feeling the urge to cover her mouth just by even thinking about this matter. "Hm, that thing that happened to the, uh… Earth's ruler."

 

“Wait! So Pink Diamond was shattered?” Lapis awestruck face wasn’t enough for Pearl’s to even focus on, her Diamond commands still fresh on her mind as it was five thousand years ago.

 

‘Lets never speak of it again. Those were her orders. I cannot disobey her until she actually frees me from it…' 

 

But her commands impulses could be evaded in other ways. She just needed to use a different language to express her intentions.

 

Pearl nodded towards Lapis, who took it as a confirmation of her own statement.

 

“That’s really unexpected… Wait!” The Blue Gem grabbed Pearl by her clothes and shook her almost desperately. “If the Rebels did that, doesn’t mean the other Diamonds-!”

 

“Yes. They brutally retaliated.” Pearl concentrated and made her Gem project a Hologram of the Diamonds final attack on Earth. “Rose Quartz, the leader of the rebellion only had time to grab a handful of Gems around her and hid them behind her shield before the Diamond Authority unleashed their most powerful weapon.”

 

Lapis gulped, dread evident in her semblance and voice, as she releases her hold on Pearl. “And that weapon is…?”   

 

With a sigh, Pearl allowed her Hologram to show the same blinding flash of light and a similar eerie tune that she remembered until this day. “Corruption.”

 

The blue Gem stared at the projection in silence, seeing the forms of all the Gems not protected by Rose’s Quartz shield change into grotesques mockeries of what they once were, becoming essentially beasts.

 

“Please, don’t be alarmed.” Sighing and trying to divert Lapis increasing shock from what she just showed, Pearl said. “Homeworld retreated afterward and since then, they never bothered us."

 

“Wait!” Lapis abruptly rose to her feet. “When you say ‘us’, did you mean that you were one of those rebels?”

 

Feeling taken aback yet again by Lapis tone and accusation, the pale Gem carefully tried to not escalate the situation any further. “Look Lapis, I am, but it isn’t as you think!”

 

The Blue Gem growled in anger. “One of you attacked me! I remember this clearly, and it was a Bismuth Gem!”

 

Now Pearl was the one startled. "Wait! Did you fight Bismuth? Where is she? Have you destroyed her form? Shattered her?!"

 

“I don’t know what happened to that damnable Gem, but I didn’t even attack her. I just tried to fly away and she sucker punched me as fast as she could.” Through her gritted teeth, Lapis body shook from her head to her toes. “After this, I became stuck on that forsaken mirror, since Homeworld thought I actually was one of you!”

 

Pearl's mind was turning around itself, the flux of information being almost too much for her to handle all together. "Homeworld did this to you? But you weren’t one of us! How could they do this?”

 

The sound of Lapis and Pearl's exhaling and inhaling echoed through the fountain. Lapis anger slowly being replaced with bitterness and sorrow. "That's is what I kept thinking over and over since I was stuck into that glass prison. Since then, I was thrown away while they retreated, cracked by some Gem imbecile on the run and then forced to stare at this sky and rubble for thousands of years, begging to just be shattered already so that everything would end."

 

“Lapis, I…” Pearl stopped what she was going to say when she saw the Blue Gem cry in frustration, even if Lapis tried to cover her eyes in an attempt to hide her pain.

 

But Pearl knew. Pearl knew what it was to have your trust wrongly placed into something and to fight on the name of someone just to be replaced, locked up and promptly discarded when no longer served a purpose.

 

‘She is not much different from me…'

 

Approaching tentatively, Pearl wrapped her thin arms around Lapis hunched torso, caressing her hair in a soothing gesture. To her credit, Lapis only flinched for a moment before relaxing on her arms. “We are alike… In so many ways. I never wanted to be part of this war, I only did because someone had brought me into the fray, and now I am stuck on this planet, without any chance to escape its influence. I know what you felt was way worse than what I got, but I can say for a fact that you didn’t deserve this.”

 

Carefully holding Lapis cheek and making her look at her, Pearl whispered. “I’m sorry. I want you to know that if you want to take your rage upon someone, you can release it upon myself.”

 

“…What are you saying?” Lapis voice was painfully weak, seemly confused and in awe. “Why would you even do this for me?”

 

“Isn’t obvious?” Pearl smiled a sad smile, one borne from the pain she had to endure in silence, either ignored or diminished by others around her. “I am a Pearl. Isn’t the purpose of my existence to serve, shelter and please others?”

 

Lapis frowned, but it wasn't due to any resentment but by conviction. "Then I will also free you from your prison!"

 

As suddenly as she spoken those words, Lapis cradled Pearl’s body gently with her hands and let her Gem project a pair of water wings on her back, taking flight as fast as she could, while the pink haired Gem in Lapis arms yelped in reflex and holding on the Blue Gem with all her might.

 

“AHHHHH! LAPIS WAIT! WHERE ARE WE GOING?”

 

“Away from this place! I don’t know, maybe we could go back to Homeworld? What you think about that?”

 

Breathing hard and having trouble to emit words, especially knowing how the air around them was becoming too thin due to the attitude, Pearl tried to reason with her. "Lapis, they might just lock us up. We don't know how they will behave if two strange Gems just appear out of nowhere around them. They have absolutely no reason to even listen to what we have to say."

 

Lapis stopped her momentum and let her body hover above the clouds, leveling her ever inquisitive gaze upon Pearl's obvious frightful eyes. "So, you want to stay here? Doesn't this place suck? Isn’t this the reason why you want to leave?”

 

"Maybe we could stay close to it, away from Earth, but also away from the Diamonds influence..." Pearl whispered, having suddenly a bright idea. "Have you ever gone to the moon? Or maybe around other planets from this solar system?"

 

“I never really bothered with it. Why, do you have somewhere in mind?”

 

Looking at the night sky, Pearl gave Lapis a real, unrestrained smile. She pointed to the place above their heads, and with an emotion she hasn’t felt in ages, shouted. “Take me to the moon!”

 

Lapis laughed and the sound was as cute as the form manifested by her Gem, making Pearl blush unexpectedly. “All right, Pearl, let’s go.”

 

Still looking at Lapis, Pearl didn’t bother to gaze back to the place she was leaving.

 

In the back of her mind, she knew that it was a matter of time before Amethyst, Rose or Garnet did something about it, especially with Garnet’s future sight aiding them, but she also didn’t care for anything like it, at least at the moment.

 

She would face the music when it was actually time for it.

 

‘Heh. Maybe Earth had something worthy of my time all along.'

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

To say that Lapis was relieved was an understatement. After five thousand years stuck in a mirror, without being able to move, to scream, and to do anything at all, she was actually impressed with how she didn’t become completely insane.

 

‘Or should I say corrupt? Such an unthinkable punishment, but I guess I did remember a very bright light encompassing the sky, way back then… At least I wasn't affected by it.'

 

She tried to sigh but noticed how the air still accumulated on her mouth had instantly drained on the empty depths of the space.

 

‘Figures. I suppose I did forgot how things worked for a moment while I was imprisoned. Stupid anachronisms.’

 

The blue Gem let herself observe the moon, remembering Pearl’s brief explanations.

 

‘Hm. Pearl said that there used to be some kind of observation structure on the darkest side of this moon, and that's a relief. If this moon only had that pathetic looking flag on its surface that we just passed as a relevant point of interest, then I would certainly try to convince Pearl to go somewhere else.'

 

They flew around for a few moments, with Lapis powerful water wings making them approach their intended location faster than they would have imagined, and the blue Gem could not help but stare in awe at the unmistakable Gem structure right in front of her.

 

The Moon Base.

 

‘Pink’s Diamond Personal Observatory. It is quite the sight to behold, I have to admit.’

 

She had seen this structure before, back when she was assigned to terraform parts of the Earth among the others Lapis Lazulis like herself. Sure, it was just a passing glance from one of the many colonization ships that brought them to that forsaken planet, and like before, she still could not help, but be completely amazed by how well preserved it seemed to be.

 

Placing Pearl gently on the moon’s ground, Lapis unsummoned her water wings and walked towards the imposing door that guarded the observatory. Next to it was a panel with the design of the Diamond Authority.

 

She pressed her palm against it and then, the panel lightened up with the four colors of their Diamond's rulers.

 

‘Or should I say, former ruler, at least when Pink Diamond is concerned.'

 

But Lapis suppressed her thoughts about the matter. She still wasn’t set on the idea that she should just forsake Homeworld, even if they did lock her up. Everything was changing too fast for her.

 

‘There would be time for this later.’

 

The door quickly opened, and they had to brace themselves for the sudden impact of the artificial atmospheric pressure from the observatory, clashing against the emptiness of the space around them. They made each step slowly, with Lapis holding a hand for Pearl to clutch on when the pale Gem almost lost her balance. In no time, they were safely inside the structure and Pearl closed the door using the panel next to it.

 

Lapis stared back at her pink haired Gem companion, giving her a small smile. “Well, I have to say, Pearl, this place seemed very well kept for a five thousand years structure. Have you ever been here? Is this your handiwork?”

 

The pale Gem stuttered for a moment, one of her hands suddenly flying up to her own mouth, covering it.

 

‘Huh? That’s strange. Why would she do anything like this?’

 

Pearl’s hand slowly fell down from her mouth and Lapis noticed how she was frowning, clearly annoyed with something. She shook her head and motioned. “Please follow me, Lapis.”

 

‘Well now, that’s definitely odd. She is trying to change the subject. I will keep this in mind.’

 

Pearl walked towards a point of the room, where she delicately proceeded to touch the surface of the floor, looking for something. After a few moments, the floor lightened up and a set of floating stairs had sprung right off it, forming a perfected staircase for them to walk upon.

 

“Wow, Pearl! Nice work on discovering this little feature. Are there any more surprises around here?”

 

The pink haired Gem turned her head to look at her blue-haired companion and gave her an almost awkward smile. "Oh, well. You see, there are a few things, here and there. Perhaps you would like me to show you around?"

 

“Go ahead. I’m right beside you.” Lapis said with another small smile. She noticed how Pearl’s cheeks gotten a slight deep hue on them as a result of their banter.

 

It made her feel… Good, for some reason.

 

‘This Pearl really is something. Well, she is a fancy one, now that I can look at her closely, so it's not a surprise…’

 

“As you can see all around the walls of this observatory-” Pearl gesture to four different points around them, her Gem lightening up and providing both of them with enough illumination to properly see what she was describing. “-Those are artistic representations of the Diamond Authority. In each panel, you can also see each of their respective colonies, with White Diamond obviously having far more influence, as you can notice by the number of planets under her command.”

 

Lapis raised an eyebrow and chuckled. Pearl’s behavior was really becoming somewhat endearing.

 

The pale Gem stopped on her tracks and pointedly stared. “What is so funny, Lapis?”    

 

"Oh, it's just that you almost looked like a tour guide. Showcasing all those details with such precision." The blue haired Gem playfully smirked. "It was adorable. You really are quite knowledgeable."

 

“Ah, uh…” Again, the pale Gem’s cheeks turned slightly blueish, this time taking even a deeper tone. “I’m just trying to be useful. It’s not a small feature to walk with a member of Blue Diamond’s royal entourage on another Diamond’s base …”

 

Lapis felt her own cheeks warm up at the compliment, and for a moment, she was sure her companion seemed to be pleased by it.

 

‘I like it, and I really don’t mind feeling like this again.’ She concluded.

 

They reached the next floor and the blue-haired Gem noticed that this room had not a single design aside from strange looking patterns on its walls. Instead, it seemed made from a different material. At the center of it, there was an inconspicuous sphere shinning with a blueish hue.

 

“On this room, we have the Colony Observation Logical Device, also known as C.O.L.D.” Pearl walked towards the sphere and gesture at its surface. “As you can attest by touching it.”

 

Lapis lightly touched the sphere and could feel cold like sensation, almost as if a watery substance was coating it, without any moisture remaining on her fingertips. "Wow. It really is cold."

 

At this, the pink haired Gem tentatively asked. “I can demonstrate how it works, if it is troublesome for you, Lapis.”

 

Lapis snickered. “Nah, it is actually quite soothing. You have no idea how I missed having this feeling around me.”

 

At her words, Pearl smiled. “Well, you can use this to observe any of Earth’s locations covered by this Colony base technology, even the ocean.”

 

“Oh. Earth.” Lapis answer was devoid of any enthusiasm. “How joyful.”

 

Gently removing the blue Gem palm from the sphere, Pearl awkwardly whispered. “Maybe I can show you.”

 

Lapis shrugged and crossed her arms, opting to observe her companion tinker with the device.

 

In a flash, the room's walls turned into a seemly infinite ocean. Logically speaking, the blue-haired Gem knew she wasn't underwater, but she had to admit how very efficient that technology was in capturing a perfect rendition of Earth's locations.

 

"This is the Lunar Sea Spire." The room's walls changed again and showcased a familiar structure to the Blue Gem. "You probably know all about this place, and while it is abandoned since the war, as you can see, it still is in good condition."

 

Lapis eyes softened. She remembered when she had come to Earth and had the opportunity to explore it. It was amazing how it still could resist the test of time.

 

‘But then again, so did I.’

 

“Hey Pearl.” Lapis approached her companion and removed her hands from the device, powering it off. “Let me say something.”

 

The pink haired Gem expression turned shy, and again, she stuttered. “O-of course. Go ahead then.”

 

‘That’s it. This Pearl is just so cute. Her owner is a total idiot, who would mistreat someone so adorable?’

 

“I just want to thank you for trying to cheer me up, you know.” Seeing the pink haired Gem bristle at her words, Lapis simply shook her finger negatively at her. “And don’t bother denying it.”

 

After saying those words, Lapis calmly walked away to the next set of stairs. “All right Pearl, let go see what is waiting on the next floor.”

 

Nodding in agreement and trying not to chuckle at her words, Pearl followed her.

 

---

 

“Finally, we are at the prime observation interface.”

 

Lapis snickered. “Didn’t you mean the P.O.I.?”

 

To her credit, Pearl almost didn’t look insulted. “Oh really? I will have you know that I wasn’t responsible for the name of the Colony Observation Logical Device, so don’t you even start.”

 

Lapis raised her hands in a defensive but placating gesture, laughing. "All right, Pearl. Take it easy. I was just joking, I swear."

 

Pearl huffed but gave the blue-haired Gem a chuckle of her own. "OK, Lapis. I will pay homage to your suggestion and from now on, I will call this room ‘P.O.I.' since you liked it so much."

 

“What?” Now, Lapis was snorting. “Oh, you are definitely a sneaky one! I like it!”

 

“You do?”

 

Still smiling, Lapis crossed her arms. “Yeah. I really like talking to you. Maybe it’s the whole ‘five thousand years stuck in a prison’s’ influencing my behavior, but I think we will get along just fine.”

 

When Pearl's face turned blue in embarrassment at her words, Lapis kept counting the seconds it would take for the color to fade from her companion's cheeks until the pink haired Gem shook her head and walked towards the end of the staircase, reaching a huge chair next to a control station.

 

“AHEM!” Pearl cleared her throat. “Now this is the commanding chair reserved for the Diamond overseer, and right next to it is the main control station, where all the colony’s structural projections were established and categorized.”

 

"Interesting..." Lapis said while she took a seat at the huge looking chair. "Sit here with me Pearl."

 

“What?” Pearl flinched on the spot. “But… That chair belongs to-”

 

“-To a shattered Diamond.” The blue Gem interrupted. “One that no longer has any ownership claim over anything that she happened to leave behind. Don’t you agree?”

 

Pearl blinked for a couple of seconds and seemed lost in thought. After a minute, she nodded and took a seat right beside her companion. "You are probably right about it."

 

Snickering in response, Lapis playfully ruffled Pearl’s hair. “But of course I’m right, C.O.L.D captain!”

 

“Ugh! Stop messing with my hair!” Even as she said those words, the pink haired Gem was laughing. “And if I am the C.O.L.D. captain, then you are the P.O.I. Supreme leader!”

 

Laughing intensively, Lapis felt overjoyed, her face clearly blushing from all the attention. “Yeah! So, my captain, what would you say if we started poking around those long-lost Diamond files just to see what we can come up with?”

 

At her words, Pearl's face turned almost completely blue with embarrassment but still seemed quite pleased with herself. "Well, my supreme leader, I believe it is quite a good plan for starters. However, I would like to propose an idea."

 

"I'm listening," Lapis smirked at her companion. "But I hope it beats staying on this room looking at Pink's Diamond dirty little secrets."

 

“I don’t know about that, but I believe you might like it.” As she said those words, Pearl’s Gem shined and she proceeded to take out a couple of items from it.

 

The blue Gem was confused. “Uh, Pearl, would you explain what those things are?”

 

"Ah yes, this one, for example, is a book, a recipient where humans usually use to write their beliefs, thoughts, theories, scientific experiments and made up stories, to name a few." The pink haired Gem opened the strange object. "As you can see, they use a simplified version of vocalized sounds translated into symbols which they call their alphabet, however, different cultures among the Earth have other symbols which differed greatly from the most conventional way showcased in usual books."

 

Lapis curiously picked the book on her hands, feeling its texture with her fingertips and staring at it. “What is this book about? I cannot read this language.”

 

“Oh, pardon me, Lapis! Here, let me read it for you!” Pearl gently took the book from Lapis hands and cleared her throat. “This one is called ‘Moon Machines, a detailed guide of all devices on the moon’. And I just had an excellent idea that requires the use of this manual.”

 

The blue Gem blinked and raised an eyebrow. “So, you want to teach me about those machines?”

 

“What? No, Lapis, that’s not it. I actually wanted to use some parts of those things to make a new machine, where we could try to connect with this Moon Base and use Earth’s internet to watch some of their entertainment programs.”

 

At those words, Lapis could not help but scoff at the notion.

 

‘This again? Ugh! I don’t like that planet, why the obsession with it?’

 

"Look, Pearl, I really don't want anything to do with Earth. Why do you insist on bringing it up? Don't you hate that place?"

 

Pearl recoiled and Lapis wanted to kick herself for the way she talked.

 

“I’m so sorry Lapis… It’s just…” Pearl looked sadly at her own feet, her voice soft and frail. “You’re right. I apologize for making you uncomfortable, I don’t know what I was thinking.”

 

‘Dammit. I made her sad. Ugh! I cannot believe I am going to do this!’

 

Lapis turned her body in Pearl’s direction and gave her an awkward hug. “That’s OK. Sorry for being rude. It’s just that I don’t want to be reminded of that place. However, I can help you build your machine if you want to.”

 

Pearl seemed shocked for a moment before she cautiously returned the hug. “Are you sure? You’ve been through a lot. I don’t want to aggravate you.”

 

“Aggravate me?” Lapis backed away so to look at Pearl’s face and took a hold of her chin. “You saved me from a destiny worse than death. I would be a lousy friend if I didn’t help you around as well.”

 

The pink haired Gem seemed a little taken back, but also, smiled as brightly as she could and Lapis felt herself smile just by looking at her reaction.

 

She really looked way better like this. It was almost like magic, and an infinite source of joy for someone bitter as Lapis.

 

“You know Lapis, you are a very gentle Gem. I’m glad you consider me a friend.” Pearl blushed slightly. “The feeling is mutual, in case you are wondering.”

 

"Well, that's settled then, let's find those moon machines.” Lapis raised up from the chair and place both of her hands akimbo. “How hard can it be?”

 

Following Lapis example, Pearl opens the book. “Not that hard since this book has the exact coordinates of those machines. There is some of them that ceased operations a few decades back, so let’s focus on those. The first one would be the Lunar Prospector since it was recently decommissioned and it is made from useful materials like its body mounted solar cells and its s band transponders."

 

Lapis grabbed Pearl’s hand. “All right, C.O.L.D. captain, lets put this technological talk on hold for the moment and let’s follow those coordinates.”

 

As both of them went down the staircase, Pearl jokingly exclaimed. “Affirmative, oh supreme leader!”

 

---

 

It took quite some time to find, move the machines without damaging their structure, and properly dismount them into parts. Pearl seemed pleased with the result, and from her Gem, she took a strange device. She excitedly motioned to Lapis to come closer. “Look Lapis, do you know what this is?”

 

The blue Gem eyed the strange device skeptically. “I don’t know, some weird nonsensical Earth stuff?”

 

Rolling her eyes, Pearl answered. “Oh Lapis, this is a human machine, but it is useful. With it, I can properly weld those scrap parts into something new. They are called Welding Machines for that reason.”

 

The blue haired Gem could only answer this with a simple word. “Ah.”

 

…Which predictably made Pearl react as if she was baffled with her. While Pearl sighed in frustration and muttered something like ‘I will show you how it's done and you can see for yourself how awesome it is’, Lapis thought about her.

 

‘I cannot help myself. She gets all worked up with such things. It's endearing to witness such a complex being so full of life and determination. It is inspiring. It is beautiful but most important of all, she is a wonderful companion. I was lucky that someone like her freed me.’

 

Lapis felt that she could trust Pearl. She knew what is like to be used and to have others abuse you. So, she made a silent promise to protect Pearl from returning to that horrible circle of suffering that both of them were prisoners, no matter the consequences.

 

---

 

Pearl spend a couple of hours on her machine, while Lapis observed and learned all about the different tools, reactions, and other technological babble that her friend seemed so fond of. It wasn't as bothersome as she first thought, and she had to admit that it was interesting, and a piece of useful knowledge to have around, in case they ever needed.

 

After pressing a couple of buttons, Pearl, who was a little dirty due to her tinkering, smiled in triumph and made a thumbs-up gesture. “I finally finished!”

 

“It took quite a while, I won’t lie.” The blue Gem teased, in amusement. “But its looking awesome. Good job, Pearl!”

 

Straightening her back and apparently feeling pleased with herself, Pearl answered her. “Nice for you to notice. Now, would you care to do the honors and start the system?”

 

“Yeah, sure. I just have to place my palm over this panel on the control chair, right?”

 

Pearl nodded. “Yes. It should allow us to tamper with Earth’s many television channels, not to mention, we might even be able to use its internet.”

 

At Lapis inquisitive look, Pearl made a placating gesture. “It’s a global human database where you can access a lot of information on different subjects and entertainment.”

 

“Ah.”

 

Pearl bristled again. “Oh, don’t you ‘ah’ at me again!”

 

Now it was Lapis turn to placate her companion. “Sorry, it was too good of an opportunity to just waste it. C’mon Pearl, sit by my side and let’s see what your machine can do!”

 

“Always so laid back, but excitable, aren’t you, miss Lapis?” Pearl took her seat by Lapis side, and watched her press the palm of her hand on the panel, turning the machine on and sending to the control station projector some kind of menu. “Well, now let’s choose a channel. Hm, this one over there...”

 

Pearl tapped a few buttons on the control station and suddenly, the projector showcased what seemed to be a couple of humans, dressed in what Lapis could identify as metal pieces. They were crouching against a ravine and one of them was pointing and shouting at a strange, white, fluffy like creature.

 

“What is this thing?” Lapis turned to Pearl. “Seems kind of cute.”

 

“It’s a rabbit, also known as a bunny. They are cute but harmless."

 

At the exact moment that the pink haired Gem said those words, Lapis saw on the projector one of the humans approach the rabbit only to be killed by it immediately. The other humans panicked and all tried to kill the rabbit with their weapons, but the fluffy creature tore at them with ease. The apparent leader of the humans screamed ‘run away' and they all left the area while the rabbit seemed to feast on their dead companions' corpses.

 

“Those things are harmless?” Lapis said with a hint of fear. “If I ever saw one of those creepy creatures, I would use my hydrokinesis to tear it limb from limb before it even got close!”

 

At that, Pearl laughed out loud, while Lapis looked at her perplexed. “I mean it! Those things are deadly!”

 

The pale Gem just gave Lapis hand a little squeeze, calming her down, and they both proceed to watch the show attentively.

 

After it ended, the blue-haired Gem turned to her friend. "I had no idea those human shows could be so fun!"

 

“I knew you would find it entertaining.” Pearl gently smiled. “I like their humor and of course, their artistic expressions, like for example, their ballet dances.”

 

“What is ‘ballet’?” Lapis curiously asked. “Can you show me an example?”

 

Beaming at her, Pearl tapped a few more commands and then, the ‘channel’ changed to a different one. There was a female human, who looked just like Pearl, and she started to move beautifully across a stage. A beautiful song accompanied her movements and Lapis felt completely enthralled by her.

 

When the last act ended, Lapis grabbed her friend’s hand and interlaced their fingers together. “Pearl! That was utterly beautiful.”

 

“I wasn’t sure if it would be to your liking, but I’m glad you appreciated it.”

 

“It was quite complex, but I really liked it because it somehow reminded me of you”. The pink haired Gem blushed. “And it somehow reminded of what you did for me.”

 

Pearl frowned for a second before realization dawned to her. “You mean the fact that the Nutcracker was broken, but it was saved and fixed by Clara?”

 

Lapis nodded. “Yes. Exactly it.”

 

“Well, I am feeling flattered.” Pearl squeezed Lapis hand back. “Maybe I can show you some ballet moves if you want.”

 

“Maybe later. Right now, I want to explore a little more around this moon.” The blue Gem raised from the chair and proceed to walk down the stairs, turning at her companion when she was about to go to the next floor. “Do you want to come with me?”

 

Unfortunately, Pearl shook her head negatively. “I think I will clean up around here. I can’t simply leave those scrap parts laying around and dirtying up the place. When you go back, everything will be in order.”

 

Lapis snickered. “All right, C.O.L.D. captain. I will be back soon.”

 

"See you soon, Supreme Leader!" Pearl answered while she started to organize the mess on the floor.

 

‘I guess some things are just easier for each of us. Oh well, I will be back later and if she still is tidying up the place, I will give her a hand. Now let’s see if this moon really has some water underneath its surface…’

 

---

 

Meanwhile, on Earth, a panicked Rose Quartz was looking all over for her lost Pearl. Her fellow Crystal Gem's tried to soothe her anxiety, but without success. The sole human among them shuffled from one foot to the other, feeling out of place and slightly uncomfortable with the whole situation, but like Amethyst and Garnet, tried to calm down the pink haired leader among them.

 

“Calm down, Rose. I’m sure Pearl is OK…”

 

In frustration, Rose bent down and hugged herself. "You don't understand, Greg. Pearl never did disappear for such a long time! She'd always be right here in her room. This is inconceivable!"

 

“I dunno Rose. I kind of agree with Greg on this one. She probably is just being uptight and sensitive, and will come back when she gets the drama out of her system.” Amethyst said while she laid across the floor. “Its just her own weird way of dealing with things. She is totally OK.”

 

Garnet eyed the purple Gem beyond her glasses. “I am sorry for being the bringer of bad news, but I used my future sight to try to predict Pearl’s actions, and I can say that she isn’t going to return to us on her own.”

 

At the fusion’s statement, Rose suddenly grabbed her by the shoulders. “What did you mean by that, Garnet? Where is her?”

 

“Rose, I can barely believe myself, but right now, Pearl isn’t even on Earth.” The fusion cautiously said.

 

“WHAT!” Rose’s, Amethyst’s and even Greg’s voices were filled with shock.

 

“HOW CAN SHE EVEN BE ABLE TO-”

 

“THAT’S SIMPLY IMPOSSIBLE, GARNET! SHE WOULDN'T-”

 

“HOW DID THIS EVEN HAPPENED-”

 

“Calm down all of you.” The fusion said, and while the others were itching to keep asking questions, they restrained themselves for the moment. “I cannot see how she left Earth, but right now, she seemed to be inside of a base on the moon’s surface.”

 

“ARE YOU SERIOUS, GARNET? HOW THE HELL WOULD SOMEONE LIKE PEARL BE ABLE TO JUST GO TO SOMEWHERE AS FAR AS THE MOON?” Amethyst shouted.

 

“Maybe she used one of those teleport thingies you Gems keep using?” Greg shyly offered.

 

The purple Gem scoffed. “Nuh-uh! No way! There isn’t a warp pad that can bring us to the moon, so that’s not an option, Gregory.”

 

While Amethyst and Greg proceeded to have a small argument over it, Garnet noticed that Rose was eerie quiet. He facial expressions seemed to turn into one of dread, panic, despair and even anger... But when Rose noticed that she was being watched, she turned her back at Garnet and started to walk away.

 

“Where are you going, Rose?” She called after her.

 

The pink haired Gem turned her face slightly at her friend. "Don't worry about it, Garnet. Please respect my privacy and allow me to handle this matter by myself."

 

Garnet frowned. “So, you don’t want any of us interfering? Pearl could be very well in danger.”

 

Rose turned back at the fusion’s direction, her expression serious, intimidating and a strange emotion that made Garnet feel a genuine twinge of fear. She stared at her like that for a few moments, enough to make her feel deeply uncomfortable, and then, she walked until she was right in front of her.

 

Being the target of Rose’s impassive stare was terrible. The fusion reminded back, on the war, that it was a terrifying sight to behold, one that brought fear into the immaterial heart of their enemies.

 

Garnet flinched after a few seconds, and then, Rose spoke, her voice low, flat, and laced with something almost sinister. “Do. Not. Interfere. This is my problem and I would appreciate if you would respect my authority and would just do as I say. Please.”

 

Taken aback, and feeling somewhat scared with how Rose was behaving, Garnet sighed exasperatedly. “…As you wish, Rose… But please, don’t do anything rash, Pearl probably wasn’t trying to upset you.”

 

Rose simply nodded but offered no answer. She walked off into her Gem Room inside the Temple and left them all alone.

 

Amethyst and Greg, finally noticing that Rose's absence turned to the fusion.

 

“What’s going on with Rose?” Amethyst’s voice was filled with concern. “Why would she suddenly leave like that?”

 

Greg put his hands on his pockets and looked down. “Yeah… She didn’t even say anything to us, she just… Walked away.”

 

Garnet was silent for a moment, and then she turned her attention to her companions. "I don't know what Rose is planning to do, but I don't think it will go as she might believe…"

 

“What you mean by that?”  

 

Taking her glasses off and staring at both of them with her three eyes, she ominous declared. “What I mean is that I will respect Rose’s wishes, so I will not use my future sight or anything until she comes back, but I have a feeling she might just make matters worse.”

 

Greg dreadfully asked. “Then, what should we do?”

 

“Right now, we can do nothing, except wait.” Garnet turned her gaze to the sky, staring at the bright moon. “But I hope Pearl can choose what is best for her, for a change…”

 

Even though her companions were slightly confused, Garnet said no more.

 

From the brief glimpse of the future that she saw before making her promise to stay on the sidelines, she could see that things would change drastically.

 

For better.

 

For worse.

 

That still remains to be seen.

 

Chapter Text


 

 

Pearl looked around the room. After a long time, cleaning, disposing of the trash, and of course, organizing everything on sight, the pink haired Gem decided that she was satisfied with the results.

“I’m glad everything is in order. Back then, nothing was easy…”

'Of course, it wasn't so simple. I was too busy trying to keep my Diamond safe, and she always manages to get herself into trouble with the others from the Diamond Authority, especially with Yellow.'

Yellow Diamond was a strict and usually logically inclined Gem. That seriousness and her low tolerance for nonsensical matters were traits that never worked well with Pink’s usually childish, playful behavior. Whenever both Diamonds had an argument, her, and Yellow Pearl, had to gently stir the conversation into more neutral directions.

However, it usually failed, and in the end, she had to comfort her crying Diamond to the best of her ability.

‘But I never was enough. Not before, not now, and definitely not on the future.’

When Pink Diamond created her Rose's Quartz alter ego, Pearl hoped to finally have her unrequited feelings reciprocated. It was a silly dream, but far more tangible than any of the other Pearls could ever have.

Yellow Diamond would never love Yellow Pearl, treating her strictly as a personal servant, and from what Yellow Pearl would grumble, she never got too ‘personal’ with her.

Blue Diamond wouldn't behave much differently. Her usual fatalistic take on everything, rejecting anything that would damage her own vision of what is right or wrong, and especially her barely restrained contempt for anyone who isn't a Diamond like herself… Blue Pearl would never have a chance to even be around her if she wasn't groveling at her feet.

And White Diamond and White Pearl… The thought of anything like it sends shivers at her immaterial heart.

‘I can’t think about them. They are too sinister. Like, there is a dark veil covering anything related to them.’

The other Gems who happened to have gained enough favors with the Diamond Authority to be able to receive their own Pearls were something that no Pearl in her own sane mind would try to imagine. From being beaten, humiliated, psychologically mistreated and in some unusual cases, even sexually assaulted, their lives weren’t any different from being dead.

Because, let's face it, who would want to be alive in those circumstances? She wouldn't, and even though her situation could be better, she at least didn't have this horrible fate.

‘…But that didn’t mean that I am happy with my own practical joke of a destiny.’

Yes. Rose once said that she loved her, and for a time, Pearl believed her. She would do anything for her, despite putting herself at risk. She would give her Gem to be shattered by those beautiful hands of hers if that would make her smile. Pearl would do absolutely anything for her precious beloved.

That is until her beloved Rose decided to have fun with her precious humans.

Males, females… Her Diamond never truly cared what form her interests took, what mattered for her was to keep herself entertained, and someone like Pearl would never compare with a human and their infinite perchance for being utterly disgusting.

‘I cried for years when she got her first lover. I almost got physically broken with how distraught and miserable I had become. Instead, I only lost all hope of ever being worth anything.’

Yes. Rose tried to hide it at first, but soon enough, when she noticed that Pearl wasn’t as gullible as she would have thought, she’d come clean.

‘And what had she said? Something along the lines of ‘Pearl, I’m sorry for lying about this, I just didn’t want to hurt your feelings by telling you that I need some excitement now and then. You understand, right? Humans have short lives, so it's not like they are a threat to our relationship. You just have to bear with me and my quirkiness, right?’- Like I even had a saying on any of this...’

Even if she wanted to do anything, it's not like Rose would allow her. She just needed to give her an order and there… Pearl would nod and go back to her corner while the love of her life, her owner and her so-called best friend acted like it was Pearl's obligation to accept her behavior.

She knew she wasn't meant to have any saying in a Diamond's personal matters, but sometimes she was just so angry and sad, that she would try to make Rose's toys suffer since she could not ever say to Rose what she really wanted.

‘That would go well. Imagine that. ‘Rose, I don’t want this kind of relationship, either you stop having those affairs or I will leave you!’ – Ha. As if she would allow me to do anything like it. Rose would just bat those big beautiful eyes of hers, cry a little, say that we love each other and that I am unreplaceable… And I would run back to her.’

All those thousand years wishing for a miracle… Wishing for the impossible.

‘And now… I don’t even know if I will ever see her again; or if she even wants to see me.’

She could picture her Diamond, worried, crying, looking all over for her…

Oh no. She made a mistake.

‘Rose must be so worried about me, what was I thinking? Letting myself be kidnapped by a strange Gem that I just happened to rescue? Had I no consideration for her feelings? I should be shattered for this, its no wonder that she never loved me as I wanted her to, I am defective and so horrible to her!'

Pearl grabbed her head and tried to calm herself down. From what she once read on a human self-help book, what she seemed to be experiencing is a nervous breakdown. Trying to remember what she could on this situation, she breathed and exhaled slowly, soothing her emotions and the seemly never-ending thoughts.

At a sudden wave of panic, a mental voice, one full of reason and mysteriously similar to Lapis, echoed on her scrambled thoughts.

‘If you were irreplaceable, she wouldn't take any lovers besides you. If she was honest, she would have come clean about her desire for more partners, instead of waiting for you to find out. If she cared about your feelings, she would not try to guilt trip you until you would give in into her demands. Lapis didn't kidnap you, you were the one who wanted to run from Rose, and if you should be shattered for hurting her feelings, then she should be destroyed as well for treating you as a slave even though she promised you'd be free.'

Those thoughts made her calm down. No longer feeling anxious, Pearl close her eyes.

‘Why my voice of reason is so similar to what Lapis would tell me? Why do I think she would tell me things like that? Is it because I consider myself her friend? But I also have Garnet and Amethyst as friends and I never heard my own thoughts mirroring their words… So, why?’

Pearl turned her head into the direction of the staircase. Silently, she took the steps down until she reached the first floor, with the Diamond's Authority murals. The pink haired Gem stared at the door to the outside and had an epiphany.

“Its because we are the same… We are on the same level, we were both used, so we see each other as equals and not as-”

A bright flash from the opposing side of the room startled Pearl and stopped her words. From that light, a strange, pink lion jumped from it, sliding through the floor at a high speed until it slammed against the wall.

But this wasn’t what really made Pearl gasp in surprise and fear.

It was the tall pink-haired Gem that was mounted on it.

“Shhh… You did a wonderful job, my lion. Now go… Rest for a bit.” Rose’s soothing voice made the lion yawn and soon enough, the feline closed its eyes, clearly exhausted.

Rose turned around and met Pearl’s panicked gaze. “There you are, my Pearl. I’ve finally found you.”

“R-Rose!” Pearl took a step back. “You shouldn’t be here!”

Ignoring her Diamond calling her name, Pearl runs back to the second floor – trying to go as far as she could, but soon enough, before she could reach the final steps of the third floor, she felt her right arm be grabbed by Rose's hand. "Stop. Please, tell me what's going on."

Pearl felt herself stop immediately. Rose was giving her the look, the one where she showed compassion and patience, the same one that she had given to so many Gems back on the war. Even though it wasn’t her wish, Pearl had to acquiesce to what her Diamond wanted.

She had no choice.

“…I’m tired of being hurt by you, Rose.”

The tall Gem seemed shocked. “What? When have I ever hurt you, Pearl?”

“I don’t know, Rose. Maybe when you decided to have dozens of humans as lovers.” The pale Gem sarcastically stated.

Rose's eyes grew big as saucers. "Oh Pearl, all of this just because of that? I've thought we had talked about it and you were fine with it."

"Well, I'm not! I never was OK with this!" Pearl shouted, making the tall Gem flinch. "You told me to ‘bear with it' because you simply could not help yourself, and I accepted it because-"

Rose grabbed Pearl’s hands. “Stop Pearl. Please… I had no Idea you were bothered by such a silly thing.”

‘She interrupted me. Am I that unimportant that you would not just hear me out?’

Pearl silently glared at her owner. She could do nothing, Rose gave her a command, and she felt compelled by the nature of her own Gem into submission.

After some moments gathering her thoughts, Rose gently squeezed their hands. “I was worried for you, we searched all around for any trace of your presence. You really gave me a scare...”

The silence was Rose's only answer.

Sighing, the tall Gem whispered. “You know you can answer me, right Pearl? I won’t get mad, I swear.”

Pearl felt her mouth relax, finally being able to talk back at her. “…How did you find me?”

"Ah, this?" Rose sheepishly scratched her head, laughing awkwardly. "Oh, you know, Garnet used her future sight to pinpoint your actions and she was the one who told me you were on the moon base…"

The pale Gem nodded. “…And how were you able to reach me here?”

Rose looked back to the staircase as if she was considering her words. "Uh, you see, its quite a funny story, if you think about it-”

“How can this thing teleport?” Pearl bluntly demanded.

“…I made it. I’ve found a pack of lions on the desert, I trained them, nurtured them, until one of them needed my intervention, or it would die.” Shaking her head, the Diamond in disguise showed clear signs of frustration. “Why are we even talking about this?”

But Pearl wouldn’t let this be. Not this time. “…Why have you kept this a secret, Rose? Aren’t I your confidant? Your best friend? Your lover?”

At her words, Rose instinctively released Pearl’s hands and took a step back. She looked guilty. “Pearl… I…”

Silently gazing at her, feeling her own immaterial heart brake, the pale Gem waited.

‘Go… Tell me what I already know…’

Then, Rose answered. “I’m sorry. There are things that are better kept as a secret…”

“Like the fact that you don’t trust me and rather spend all of your time with your beloved humans?”

Rose’s voice turned serious. “Enough. I don’t want to talk about it. You wouldn’t understand.”

Once more, Rose’s command made Pearl shut her mouth, even though she wanted to say so much to this person that broke her trust uncountable number of times.

‘But at least I know the truth. I’ve should know better, I should have expected something like this…’

Gently touching Pearl's shoulder, Rose's expression turned earnest. "You know I love you, right? What we have is so very special… We are, after all, lovers and best friends, right?"

“…Am I that easy to fool, Rose?” Pearl’s voice was tired, laced with hopeless despair, and mostly with the cruel truth. “You know very well that you are your own best friend. It’s in your own nature.”

Initially perplexed by the pale Gem words, after a few moments, Rose realized what Pearl meant by it. “I cannot believe you are talking about this. We made a promise to never speak of it, why are you trying to break it?”

Pearl sighed. “You know perfectly well that I had no choice on the matter. You made it impossible for me to even talk about it.”

“And what choice did I have?!” Rose shouted, clearly angry. “It had to be done, or else it would ruin everything that we worked for.”

The pale Gem gave a cheerless laugh. “You mean, everything that I had to do, or you would not be able to behave as you wished.”

“It had to be done, Pearl, or we would never be free!”

At her words, Pearl snarled back. “Do I look free to you, Rose?!

Rose huffed, she opened her mouth, but no words came out. After a minute in a heavy silence, she said. “You never behaved like this. Someone has turned you against me.”

Pearl shook her head, but Rose wasn’t having any of it. “I didn’t want to do this Pearl, but I must know the truth. It’s for your own good and for our future. I order you to tell me who, or what brought you to the moon. Now.”

Pearl suddenly felt that horrible sensation. The same one that compelled her to act on her Diamond’s wishes, no matter what they entailed. She struggled against it, but the pain was unbearable. After an excruciating amount of time, which was actually just for a few seconds, she finally complied with her orders.

“I was brought here by a lost Homeworld Gem. Her name is Lapis Lazuli, and she was locked on a mirror artifact. After I freed her, I told her about the moon base.”

After she spoke those words, Pearl felt the pain subside. She breathed in, obviously relieved, but turning her gaze to her Diamond, and her unreadable expression, she felt a cold sweat trailing down her face.

“So, this is the real reason for this behavior…” Rose grabbed Pearl’s arm. “Come with me. We are leaving.”

“Rose, please stop this!” Pearl pleaded.

The tall Gem shook her head negatively. “You aren’t in your right mind, Pearl. I have to do what is best for all of us. So, stop fighting me.”

Pearl felt her body relax and comply with Rose’s order.

“Now, we just need to go before-”

“You aren’t going anywhere.” A cold, loud voice reverberated across the room.

‘Lapis! She already returned…’

Turning around and staring at the staircase, Rose frowned. “You must be the Lapis Lazuli who kidnaped Pearl.”

Fast steps could be heard, and soon enough, Lapis appeared at the bottom of the staircase. “And you must be the leader of the rebellion, Rose Quartz. Funny, I never would have thought that you would be the type to mistreat your own subordinates, but I shouldn’t be surprised, dumb Quartzes like yourself are bound to be nothing more than brutes.”

“How dare you say those things?” Rose released the pale Gem arm and took a defensive stance. “You know nothing about us.”

Lapis laughed loudly. "Is that what you think? Then you really are as dense as everyone made you be."

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“What I mean is the fact that different from Gems like you, I understand subtlety and I’m observant, so it wasn’t that hard to figure that something was wrong among all this.” Lapis casually inclined her body towards Rose’s direction, a smirk on her face. “Especially when you were too busy shouting at Pearl instead of wondering if someone might be listening in.”

Startled at Lapis words, Rose seemed impressed. “You heard everything?”

“Yes. Every single word.”

Rose summoned her sword and shield. “Then you must let us leave. You have no right to interfere in our lives.”

Lapis scoffed. “Stop this nonsense, Rose Quartz. I know the real reason why you’re here. Stop using Pearl as an excuse.”

“Oh really?” This time, Rose was the one who scoffed in response. “Then, pray I tell, what is the real reason?”

The Blue Gem crossed her arms. “Loose ends.”

‘Uh? Did she mean that I…?’

Pearl looked at Rose. Her Diamond in disguise looked back at her for a moment before returning her gaze at Lapis. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

"Oh please, stop playing the innocent hero. I'm not one of your pathetic soldiers who followed you into battle." Sneered the Blue Gem. "The real reason why you're here is that you don't want to risk Pearl telling the truth to anyone. It would ruin everything, isn't that right?"

Rose flinched and gagged. Her own words seemed more like babbling than anything else. “W-What m-makes you t-think that?”

“The fact that you don’t want anyone knowing the truth about Pink Diamond demise.”

Pearl moved silently as she could, so she would be able to look at the tall Gem’s face.

For the first time in her life, Rose seemed completely scared. This made Pearl's heart shatter again.

Lapis had figured it out… But how?

“H-How…?” Rose’s voice was weak. “Pearl shouldn’t be able to-”

The blue Gem shrugged. “She hasn’t broken her orders. You made it impossible for her, after all, you commanded her to keep quiet, have you not?”

Rose shot Pearl a look full of guilt. “I had no choice.”

Lapis laughed again. “Keep telling yourself that. Someday you might even truly believe it.”

The tall Gem grunted in frustration. “You know nothing about what happened.”

“Yeah, I do.” Lapis laid against the wall, still a smirk on her face. “You made Pearl turn into your form and then, ordered her to kill her true Diamond. That’s how you got yourself such a fancy slave and killed one of your enemies without putting yourself at risk.”

‘Oh, she made the wrong assumption.’

Rose’s face turned from fearful to confused and suddenly, to one full of relief. That prompted Lapis to arch one eyebrow, but the blue Gem didn’t stop. “I knew you were nothing but a fraud, a liar who seduced her troops with promises of freedom and love when what you truly wanted was to rule alone over Earth. Not so different from the Diamonds that you claim to oppose.”

“Silence!” The tall Gem shouted. “You are speaking of things that you know nothing about, and I will not stand here to be insulted by a Gem that did nothing, but become stuck on a mirror artifact for thousands of years.”

“Just look at that!” Lapis sarcastically scoffed. “Not used to have anyone saying the truth, isn’t that right?”

Rose snarled. “I will not repeat myself again.”

“Says the Gem who promises freedom and love while delivering slavery and sorrow.” Lapis sneered. “Save your threats for those who care about them.”

“Pearl isn’t my slave. She doesn’t belong to anyone even though she is irreplaceable to me!” Rose huffed. “And our love isn’t any of your business.”

Lapis closed both of her fists in anger. “If she were truly irreplaceable as you’d said, you would not have taken a bunch of stupid humans as your lovers or whatever you did with them when Pearl wasn’t looking. You would have told her the truth and would not have forced her to accept your actions using the excuse that you could not help yourself. You wouldn’t have forced her to conform to your demands.”

‘Those words… They are almost like what I imagined she would say…’

“She never was free. She wasn’t when she served Pink Diamond and she wasn’t after her owner died. If she truly was free, you would not have her hold this secret against her will, you would have trusted her, and treated her as equal, which she never was in your eyes, your hypocrite!” Lapis coldly said.

Seeing how confounded and disconcerted Rose became just by hearing her words, Lapis decided to give the tall Gem another slap on her ego. “And to make it clear: I never kidnaped Pearl. She wanted to come here on her own. She wanted to stay away from you, and different from what you may think, I actually respect her wishes and I see her as a dearest friend. Now, do I need to hammer it into your thick head, or have you finally got it?”

"HOW DARE YOU!" Rose's roar reverberated across the structure walls. She leaped and raised her sword, attacking the Blue Gem.

“Tch!” With a simple movement of her hand, water projected from it and deflected the tall Gem’s attack to the ground. “Keep trying, you idiotic Quartz, you won’t win against me.”

Rose didn't answer and just kept attacking. Lapis simply jumped backward, letting her water wings appear and quickly flying away towards the first floor.

“Come back here!” The tall Gem run after her.

Pearl followed both Gems back to the first floor and she witnessed something she never expected.

There was Lapis, flying and attacking Rose, while that strange pink lion laid across the floor, apparently unconscious. Her Diamond in disguise was blocking the blue Gems attacks by hiding behind her mighty shield, however, was proving difficult due to the sheer power in each hit.

“Wait!” Pearl tried to reason with them. “Stop fighting, please!”

“Pearl! Don’t move! Please do not interfere!” Rose commanded. “That’s an order!”

Suddenly, Pearl gasped and fell to her knees. “…Stop…”

The pain… Even blinking felt like a terrible effort on her part. The pale Gem could do nothing but stare into the fight, feeling the weight of the world filling her entire body.

‘Lapis…’

Her friend looked at her and seemed distraught for a second. Rose took this chance to throw her shield into Lapis direction. The blue Gem barely had time to dodge it before it bounced against the mural behind her.

“Hahaha!” Lapis giggled. “So that’s how you want to play, you damn lump of rock. Well, you will regret that.”

A water chain sprouted from Lapis hands and tied itself around Rose's ankles, keeping her into her place. "Argh!"

Suddenly, the water turned into ice and proceeded to cover the tall Gem’s body. When it became almost completed frozen, Lapis made it shatter all around Rose and directed the sharp edges of the ice directly against the tall Gem’s body.

Rose screamed. Lapis kept laughing.

‘She is taunting Rose… That overconfidence can be used against her… I must warn Lapis!’

Even though she wanted to, Pearl’s body wouldn’t budge. She felt inside her Gem core her orders reverberating endlessly.

A Pearl cannot disobey her orders. A Pearl has no will. A Pearl ultimately belonged to her Diamond. A Pearl was just disposable. A Pearl cannot ever be free.

A Pearl isn’t a real being.

Those orders, encrusted on her deepest part taunted Pearl with their prohibitions, and the excruciating pain she felted started to become absurdly intense. She felt her form intensively struggle, to the point it was almost as if her so-called ‘soul' had left her own body, and now she was looking from outside of it.

‘Move, you stupid, idiotic body!’ Pearl thought while she saw her own self paralyzed on the floor, her knees trembling with the effort of remaining in place despite her own wishes. ‘Do something!’ She felt her ‘astral self’ walk slowly towards her frozen self. When she was about to touch her head, where her Gem was located, Pearl felt some kind of invisible wall separating her from herself.

‘Oh, for the love of all stars in the sky…' A gigantic headache made her almost lose her balance, but Pearl kept pressing her ‘astral palms' against the seemly invisible barrier, all the while she still could sense the fight going on around her.

It wasn’t going well.

Half of the room was damaged and Lapis seemed to be struggling with Rose’s ability to jump higher than she expected. Right now, she was on the defensive and her wings were proving to be a disadvantage on this closed space than Rose’s own skill set.

‘Of course, she's confused. Rose is a Diamond and not a Quartz! Its no wonder she was surprised by her abilities!’

Pearl could see Rose’s smirk. She knew what she was about to do.

‘Rose is going to drop her shield and sword! She intended to put Lapis on the defensive so she might open her guard! This will leave her exposed to her unarmed attack!’

A Diamond strength wasn’t something to ignore. Any Diamond could destroy a Gem physical form with their bare hands. This was a usual strategy for Rose whenever she wanted to catch powerful enemies unaware.

‘Lapis!’ Pearl punched the invisible wall repeatedly. ‘I need to save her!’

‘This isn’t fair!’

‘Why can’t I do anything?’

‘Why can’t I do what I want?’

‘Why can’t I be real?’

‘Why can’t I protect her?’

‘Why can’t I do this for her?’

Pushing her entire body against the barrier, Pearl seemed to stretch itself in and out in absolute pain. She felt as if her entire body was shattering on the spot, her hands tearing up at the seams, her legs exploding from within and her mind in an endless stream of agony.

You must obey your Diamond.

Your Diamond knows what is best for you.

You’re nothing.

All that you are is for her.

All that you do is for her.

Seeing Rose getting close and close to Lapis and feeling powerless to stop it, Pearl almost lost all her hope, until she remembered a glimpse of her dearest friend words:

‘…Your owner is mistreating you…’

‘Loose ends…’

‘…A liar who seduced her troops with promises of freedom and love…’

‘…You wouldn’t have forced her to conform to your demands…’

‘She wanted to stay away from you…’

Suddenly, Pearl felt something burning so intensively inside her own Gem core, and with a strength she never thought she was capable of, her mind screamed:

‘I AM PEARL AND IM NO ONE'S SLAVE!'

She punched the wall with everything that she got. All her anger, all her misery, all her conviction that Rose’s orders were wrong and that she shouldn’t be bound to her commands ever again.

The invisible mental barrier shattered into tiny fragments, and Pearl could finally touch her frozen body.

In the blink of an eye, all the pain was gone.

 

---

 

What happened was almost in a flash.

Lapis was surprised when Rose ditched her shield and her sword, throwing herself against her. She wasn't expecting a Quartz to move so fast and she suddenly realized that she would not be able to avoid her attack or at least would receive a good part of it.

However, as surprising as this was, what really made her gasp and stare perplexed was what happened soon after.

Seconds before Rose’s fists could even hit her, they had actually hit something else.

And this something was no one other than Pearl.

“How...?” Rose gasped, baffled with what she had seen and what she’d ended up doing.

Between Rose’s fists and Lapis… Pearl was the one who received the attack. She had tears on her eyes.

"Pearl!" Lapis shouted. Her friend sighed, the tears falling and her physical form collapsing, leaving only her Gem behind.

Rose grabbed Pearl’s Gem before it even hit the floor. “That’s simply impossible! Completely unheard of!”

‘Pearl… She broke her orders for me… That’s was supposed to be unachievable, but she did it… She saved me.’

"I'm so sorry Pearl!" Rose was crying and caressing Pearl's Gem. "It will be all right! I will bring you home and we can just go back to the way things were!"

“You aren’t going anywhere with her!” Lapis said with barely restrained hate. “I’m tired of playing with you.”

Rose was baffled and seemed even more insulted. "Haven't you done enough? Look what you did to her!"

“Shut up, you irrelevant, narcissistic lump of rock!” Lapis was seething with rage. “You were the one who attacked her!”

“I didn’t want to attack her!”

“And she didn’t want to obey your orders! That’s why she managed to broke them to save me from you!”

The tall Gem opened her mouth, but no words came.

“Give me Pearl. She doesn’t want to be around you anymore.” Lapis raised her hand, motioning to Pearl’s Gem. “That was fricking obvious from the start.”

“N-No…” Rose recoiled and fearfully said. “This is a lie. She would never do this to me! You cannot force me to comply with this!”

Sneering in response, Lapis answered. “Again, you are mistaken, your sick, obsessive, organic freak. I can force you to give her to me and there is nothing you can do about it.”

“What?!”

“Let me put this in a way so even a chump like you can understand.” Lapis opened her arms, in triumph. “You are standing over my trap. Congratulations.”

“Trap?” Rose looked around the room, trying to find something amiss. “You’re bluffing.”

Lapis smile was positively evil. “Keep thinking like that, you moron. You have no idea what you got yourself into.”

“Oh really? Then explain to me.”

“This moon’s interior is full of water.” Lapis said while noticing Rose’s face paling by each word she uttered. “I can control this water, force it to expand and from there, I can destroy whatever is dear to you.”

The tall Gem seems to be struggling for an answer, so Lapis kept talking.

"For example, I can use this water to destroy this moon from inside out, making the precious planet that you love so dearly lose one of its principal natural resources for the management of its oceans, not to mention the inevitable debris that is bound to wreck its surface." Lapis sarcastically said. "I don't know about you, but I am pretty sure most of your humans and whatever other animals who live there would die horribly."

Rose gasped, realizing how that would affect Earth and its inhabitants, the number of casualties, and how serious Lapis seemed.

"And there is more!" By her tone, one would think that the blue Gem had received a prize by the manner she was behaving. "After I destroy this moon, I could simply get Pearl back from your dirty little hands and drag you away with this moon's water, using the momentum caused by the explosion to simply throw you against the sun! Then you really would have a star printed all over yourself!"

“Y-You wouldn’t.” Rose stuttered, trying to stall the inevitable. “If you destroyed Earth, you wouldn’t have anywhere else to go. The Diamond Authority would never accept a Gem that they haven’t heard of for eons, especially if she’s simply arrived into their domain.”

Lapis guffawed. “Wrong again, Rose Quartz! What do you think that the Diamond Authority will do when I bring them the news that I’ve just killed the one who shattered Pink Diamond? Do you really think that they will care when I got to do exactly what they wanted for what, five thousand years?”

Lapis boldly walked until she stood right in front of the tall Gem. "Let me give you a hint: They won't even care about where I came from. Only that I became their hero.”

“Gh… Argh!” Rose gritted her teethes. “You…You!”

"Now that I think about it, I shouldn't even be talking to you since by doing all of this, I can get what I want anyway!" Playfully pointing a finger to the floor, Lapis snickered. "On the count of five. One… Two… Three… Four-"

“ALL RIGHT!” The tall Gem loudly exclaimed. “I-I yield. You can have her.”

Lapis grabbed Pearl’s Gem immediately, offering Rose a mock salute. “A pleasure doing business with you, your inconsequential pebble. Now get out of my moon. Or else.”

Rose walked until she reached her pink animal. She shook it until it recovered its consciousness. The creature struggled to keep its body raised, but after a few tries, it finally stood up over its four legs. Then, Rose Quartz mounted it and turned to Lapis. "This is not over by any means!"

The blue Gem disregarded her threats. “Actually, it is over. Now go away, your presence makes me feel unclean.”

Lapis could feel Rose’s glare. She was seething, clearly hating everything that she had said, but feeling powerless to stop her.

Without any other words, the creature roared and a portal made up by light was created. The animal jumped into it and like that, both of them were gone.

Standing alone on the moon, without any sound, but her own unnecessary respiration, Lapis could finally sigh in relief.

“Thank the stars I had taken that stroll around the moon’s surface…”

While she was exploring the outside, she felt that the quantity of water on this astronomical body was far more than what she expected. Not that the dumb Quartz needed to know those details anyway. She remembered how eager she was to finally be able to tell Pearl all about it, knowing that her friend would get so excited and probably would ask Lapis to if could show it to her. However, when she opened the door, she heard Pearl's voice arguing with another Gem, and noticed the strange pink creature lying around the floor. The blue Gem promptly tried to silently drown the animal using her water powers, but only managed to knock it out. She then took a moment to clear some doubts and assumptions in regards to Pearl's owner by overhearing what the stranger what saying… And then, she found herself arguing, insulting, and fighting against no one but the fabled Crystal Gem leader, Rose Quartz herself.

“And to think that creep made Pearl obey her orders…”

There also was that impressive feat that her friend managed to do. She actually disobeyed her owner's order and protected Lapis from harm. All this time, since the day she had been created, Lapis never heard of any Pearl who managed to do something like it. To witness such a miracle happening just before her eyes… And for her own sake… It was something that warmed her entire Gem and made her feel a complete and different feeling towards the pale Gem who saved her.

“Pearl, hang in there, my dearest friend…” Lapis gently caressed Pearl’s Gem, blushing and smiling lovingly at it. “I will never let anyone hurt you ever again. I’ve got your back.”

The blue Gem walked away, towards to what Pearl would call the ‘P.O.I. room’, feeling the need to watch some ballet performances, waiting for her brave friend to return.

‘There is a lot to talk about, but as long we help each other, everything will be fine.’

 

---

 

Rose returned to the Crystal Temple. She wasn't looking at anyone and ignored any question made by the others. She mechanically opened the door to her own room with her Gem and left without a word. Right now, Greg and her own friends could bear to wait. She had more pressing concerns.

On the infinite cloudy room, the Diamond in disguise made an order. Suddenly, it had changed into the moon base, most specifically, the moment where Pearl had broken her command.

The tall Gem looked at her. Pearl’s face was one of defiance, her posture one of attack, like the ones she would do without question back during the war, but with two clear different points.

The first one would be the fact that Pearl was the one challenging her, not an enemy.

The second would be how much Pearl’s visage seemed different from anything she ever witnessed by her side.

Brave eyes. Brave actions.

Then why would her beloved Pearl, her lover, her servant, her friend, even protect someone like… That Gem? What made her so special that she would defy her own Diamond like that? Why was Rose's heart filling with such misery? With such jealousy? With such… Hate?

“Stars… I hate her. I hate that Lapis Lazuli…” She said to no one.

There wasn’t anything that she could do for now. She needed to think.

She needed to understand why would Pearl leave her.

On the silence of the room’s still mirages, Rose cried.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

The days go by… But Pearl still had to come back.

Endlessly loneliness … Lapis felt like she was locked away on the mirror all over again.

‘I miss having someone to talk to.’ She thought, still holding Pearl’s Gem on the palms of her hands. ‘Someone that I could trust.’

If she were to use her reason and coldly analyze this situation, the Blue Gem would have to admit that her friendship with Pearl still was too much tender to actually claim to trust her. However, the circumstances around their meeting, their kinship, and loyalty towards each other were something so unexpected that she honestly couldn’t care less.

Also, she had so many questions that needed to be answered.

‘How could Pearl brake away from her orders? Why Rose Quartz had different abilities from other Quartzes? How many Crystal Gems remained on Earth? Will they take revenge over my threats? Is Pearl still a Crystal Gem? What should we do?’

But there was another question, one that Lapis would not voice out loud, even if her friend’s physical form couldn’t hear her…

‘…Why I am so… Elated that Pearl decided to defy her owner’s orders so she could protect me?’

Lapis felt deep inside her Gem that what she was experiencing wasn’t relief over the lack of damage she sustained from her enemy’s attack. It was different from that, in fact, it was a sentiment similar to her feelings of gratitude, but amplified so much that it could also mean something entirely different.

‘It almost feels like… Adoration?’

The warm all around her body, the same one that she’d got after the annoying Quartz had retreated from their base, still remained. She felt somewhat giddy and wanted to talk to her friend immediately, but even if she felt like her cheeks were burning, Pearl still hadn’t returned.

And that was driving her into an insane amount of anxiety.

“I can only watch so many ballet performances before I start to imagine how would’ve you look like doing them…” She sighed. “Maybe I should have accepted Pearl’s offer to show me some Ballet moves…”

‘But if I had taken up her offer, I would not have known that this moon had so much water inside of it, and invariably, this could have extended the battle for stars know how long…’ She reluctantly admitted.

She tried to change her line of thoughts into something more practical, like analyzing her actions in regards to that chump she had humiliated.

Lapis scoffed, remembering how entitled the Crystal Gem leader acted until she threw the truth right at her face, and threatened to destroy that miserable planet of hers. Looking back on her actions, the Blue Gem wanted to kick herself for not going ahead with her threats. She had absolutely no obligation to allow a traitorous Gem like Rose Quartz to retreat so she could present herself as a problem on her unforeseen future, especially after everything that sick creep made Pearl do.

‘If I see that stupid pebble again, I will end her.’ She concluded. ‘But I’m not so sure Pearl would like to hear how I destroyed the planet she lived for more than five thousand years without her knowing. I should at least get her input about this before doing anything, even if it would give me huge satisfaction.’

The Blue Gem glanced at the Gem resting comfortably on her lap and caressed it with the tip of her fingers. “I know you’ll probably take your time before we could see each other again, and I’d rather be alone until you feel like you’re ready to meet me. I’m not like that abusive imbecile who thinks she can just order you around… Even if I miss your company, my friend.”

‘Ah. Perhaps all that time locked away made me soft. No matter. Is not like anyone is listening to what I am saying.’

Sighing, Lapis turned her attention to the panel where the Swan Lake performance was being exhibited.

‘…What’s a swan, anyway?’

 

---

 

One month. Thirty days without anyone to talk to… And the Blue Gem was almost screaming in frustration over it. Especially when she thought about the implications around Pearl’s extended absence.

‘Stars… What if the effort to break away from her programming actually shattered her for good? What if she is forever condemned to be stuck on her Gem, without any way to contact me? If that is the truth, so that means that her fate is worse than death?’

Lapis turned the panel off and spared a quick glance at Pearl’s Gem for the thousand time since the last couple of hours. She proceeded to do what she usually did since the day her friend lost her form.

“Hey Pearl!” She said, her voice echoing around the empty room. “I’ve seen so many ballet performances since you left that I feel I’m turning into an expert. Is not like I don’t appreciate them, but I still have no idea how to change the channel, so I don’t get much of a choice around what I could see while you’re gone.”

The silence was Lapis only answer. She already expected that even if she hoped for a different result.

“So, my favorite still is the Nutcracker. I think that’s because we watched together, that one time…” She absentmindedly let Pearl’s Gem rest on her lap while she stretched. “Too bad that my posture suffers so much since I’m sitting here all day and-!”

Before she could finish her sentence, the Gem on the Blue Gem’s lap hovered over her and emitted a very bright light. Lapis stared at it in fascination, seeing it slowly form her friend’s new physical body.

The Pale Gem had drastically changed her design. From what she could notice immediately, the attire was completely different, her hair was slightly longer and she had changed her pallet of colors. What really caught her attention was the presence of a pair of ribbons tied around Pearl’s neck and wrists. It almost looked like broken shackles.

Considering what she had accomplished, it was very much appropriate, even if her attire was a little distracting to her.

‘That’s very nice- OOOOMPH!‘

She just completely forgot that Pearl’s form had projected itself right over her lap.

Her face turned blue for the first time since last month, having a full view from her friend. “P-Pearl?”

“Hm…” The pale Gem stretched, loud, popping sounds coming from her effort. “Is everything all right, Lapis?”

Nodding dumbfoundedly, the Blue Gem could not form proper words, too busy being overloaded with the physical sensation of having a very attractive, fancy Pearl, pressing herself against her body.

If she was being sincere, the feeling was amazing, comfortable, if unexpected.

‘That’s what I get for not giving her some space…’

Not that Lapis cared all that much at the present moment.

They both exchanged a look and Pearl could properly notice the position they both were. She blushed and gently removed herself from her friend’s lap. “My apologies, Lapis. I had no idea I would fall right over you.”

“Huh?” Blinking, the Blue Gem noticed the absence of the warm body over her own and felt slightly disappointed over the lack of contact between them, but suppressed as best as she could. “I-Its all right, Pearl. Don’t worry about it.”

“So, what did I miss?”

Giggling, perhaps to hide the fact that her cheeks still were dark blue from embarrassment, Lapis answered her. “Oh, you’re going to love this…”

 

---

 

"-And then, I realized that it would've been far more fun with you around here explaining all those human things than trying to guess their significance." Lapis said. "Like, how I'm supposed to know what a swan is? Is not something monstrous like those rabbit creatures, right?"

Pearl snickered. From her Gem, she projected an image of a swan. “Not at all! A swan is a large waterbird with a long flexible neck, short legs, webbed feet, a broad bill, and typically all-white plumage, although, there are some who have a beautiful dark color.”

“Oh! So that’s what it meant…” Lapis concluded, seeing Pearl’s hologram fade. “I was a little confused when I was watching it. Thanks for telling me.”

“I’m glad I’ve could offer you some assistance.” Pearl smiled and walked towards the staircase. “However, if you would like me to, I can show you some moves. Interested?”

Lapis stood up in a flash, practically leaping out of the room, grabbing Pearl’s hand and pulling the pale Gem with her. “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

At Lapis earnest show of excitement, Pearl squeezed her hand.

They arrived in the C.O.L.D. room. The pink-haired Gem walked until she reached the floating sphere and pressed her palms on it.

The area around them changed and suddenly, they appeared to be on a beautiful stage. “This is the famous Bolshoi Theater.”

“I think I saw this place on some performances.” Lapis whispered while taking the time to look around the projection. “It’s a bit dark, though.”

“I believe they closed the theater for the day.” Pearl offered as an explanation. “They do have to do some maintenance from time to time, or this place would fall apart.”

Lapis nodded. “So, what I should do?”

“I think you would be more comfortable if you were sitting, perhaps you can make yourself a water chair?” The pale Gem stretched her body. “Tell me when you are done.”

“Uh, sure…” Lapis used her hydrokinesis and made a simple, armless chair. She took a sit and placed her hands over her lap, grabbing a fistful of her long skirt, obviously anxious. “I am ready.”

Pearl smiled, and from her Gem, four copies of her body, and each of them proceeded to play a strange looking apparatus. “A good ballet performance needs its orchestra. So, a couple of violins would suffice for now. Right?”

Lapis nodded again, far more interested in seeing Pearl dance than to bind herself to little things like formalities.

The song started, and Pearl took a stance. Her feet were close, high up, to the point that Lapis wondered how she could do it without inflicting any damage over her body. Her taut body straightened and somehow inclined back with impossible precision.

She leaped off the air, and for a moment, it felt like she was flying.

Lapis opened her mouth in awe, not noticing how her body had relaxed entirely.

Pearl pirouetted and fell gently on the floor. Her right leg made a 90º degrees motion, circling fast and as quick as it has happened, she changed her balance by leaping again on the air.

The blue Gem felt her body warm further.

The pink-haired arms moved as if they naturally flowing, like a body floating over the water. She could notice how her muscles were rigid as if they were performing a great effort, and paradoxically feeling so relaxed.

Lapis lost herself into it.

It was like she was experiencing a dream. A beautiful being was dancing for her, a gorgeous creature was calling to her, inviting her to partake on those hypnotic movements.

She could not help herself. Her body rose from the chair and she reached to touch her friends’ fingertips.

They exchanged looks. Pearl’s face was flushed with effort. Lapis face was flushed by just watching her.

Without saying a word, they grabbed each other hands.

And then, they weren’t dancing ballet anymore.

Lapis only moved a few steps before she noticed what she was doing. She felt embarrassment, shame for interrupting her friend’s dance and timid for reasons she could not phantom for the moment.

“I’m so sorry!” She released Pearl’s hands. “I don’t know what I was thinking, interrupting you like that. I’ve just… Just-”

Pearl’s expression was unreadable. After a few seconds, she offered a small, polite smile. “You don’t need to apologize. I am a Pearl. This kind of reaction is expected from something that is bound to my own nature.”

The holograms suddenly disappeared. The pale Gem looked away. “I was made to please, among other things. Singing, dancing… As long I entertained my owner or their eventual guests, everything was allowed.”

Lapis felt a horrible feeling covering her immaterial heart. It wasn’t her intention to make her friend feel like she needed to do anything remotely like what she used to do for her Diamond.

She just wanted to dance with her.

“I never wanted to make you feel like this, Pearl.” Lapis tone was sorrowful. “I just wanted to dance, to share the happiness I’ve felt just by watching you move across this room. You have no owner but yourself.”

Pearl turned her gaze towards Lapis. Her expression was unreadable.

The pale Gem gently cradled the Blue Gem’s cheeks. After a few moments, she approached her face and pressed a kiss on the tip of Lapis nose.

The Blue Gem gasped.

“You are a very kind Gem, Lapis.” Her voice was light. “I’m glad I have a friend like you.”

Lapis felt a shiver run across her spine. The pink-haired Gem released her.

“I want to dance with you, sing a song for you and care for you. Not because for a misguided sense of ownership, but the sole reason that I like your company.” The blue haired Gem stated. “But only if this is something that you want for yourself.”

Pearl nodded. “Of course. I want the same things, Lapis.”

The Blue Gem grabbed Pearl right hand and pressed a kiss on its back. “As long we are on the same page.”

At that, her friend giggled. “Ah, so you learned how to use this expression? I’m so proud of you, oh Supreme Leader.”

The strange moment passed. Whatever curtain of complex emotions that circled both Gems was lifted, leaving their usual feelings of companionship. She had no idea, but in the near future, they wouldn't be able to avoid it. However, for now, they returned to their usual good-natured banter.

“I’m glad I could surpass your expectations, oh C.O.L.D. captain.” Lapis released Pearl’s hand. “Now, how about you let me ask you a couple of questions regarding that entitled prick who invaded our base?”

A shadow flickered across Pearl’s eyes. A strange smile formed on her face. “Gladly.”

---

“So, tell me, Lapis…” Pearl pressed her back against the wall, sparing a glance at the half-damaged room. “Aside from the obvious wreckage that Rose Quartz left behind, what is new?”

“Oh, you know.” Lapis wrapped a lock of hair on her fingers. “I did threaten to blow up this moon with the all the water inside of it and used its destruction to kill everything on Earth if she didn’t leave us be.”

Pearl blinked once, twice, and sighed. “Well, I had not expected that.”

“You aren’t angry with me?” Lapis raised one eyebrow. “I mean, I almost caused a mass genocide, even if it would be an organic one, it is a little concerning, don’t you think?”

To Lapis surprise, Pearl simply laughed out loud. "Imagine those primates faces, seeing that their moon just blew up and their debris falling all over their cities."

The pink-haired Gem gave Lapis a wink. "Even if the thought was entertaining, I'm glad that it didn't actually happen. I did live in that planet for five thousand years and spend an awful lot of time going from one place to another, battling corrupted Gems and what not. It would be a shame to just see it turn to pieces after everything that I've done to preserve it."

“Not to mention that your fellow Crystal Gems still live in there, am I right?” Lapis boldly affirmed. “I doubt you, as one of them, would be inclined to see them gone.”

Pearl stared at the Blue Gem. “You mean ex-Crystal Gem. I’m no longer consider myself one of them, you know.”

‘Hm. So I was right in my assumption. Good.’

“Still, even if you no longer are one of them, I don’t think you would want them dead, right?”

Pearl backed away from the wall and turned her body towards her friend. "You are right. I mean, I don't want to see Garnet or Amethyst getting hurt, but Rose Quartz is a totally different story."

“What you mean by that?”

The pink-haired Gem approached and gave Lapis an almost evil smile. “I want her gone, shattered into tiny little pieces, turned into space dust for all that I care…”

She closed her fists and continued. “And I want to be the one to do that to her. I want to see her face covered in fear.”

At her friend's tone and hate-filled words, the Blue Gem answered. "Woooah! Weren't you in love with her or something?"

Pearl’s sarcastically guffawed. “As if a Pearl have a choice when it comes to her feelings toward her own master.”

‘Huh? That’s is strange…’

“But Pearl, weren’t you Pink’s Diamond personal servant? Then how come you were programmed to love Rose Quartz? Weren’t you supposed to be in love with your Diamond, if that’s the case?” Lapis felt she was missing something very important. “I mean, I know you took Rose Quartz as your owner after you shattered Pink Diamond, but isn’t impossible for a Pearl to stop loving her original owner? I’m so confused right now.”

Joining the palms of her hands and pressing them against her right cheek, Pearl exclaimed. “Oh, Lapis, it is quite simple if you think about it.”

She lowered her hands, her smirk turning wide. “They are actually the same Gem.”

Lapis felt many things at once. Shock, disbelief, denial, a little bit of anger, but most of all…

Dread.

“WHAT!” She shouted, and Pearl instinctively backed away from her. “T-THEY ARE THE SAME? BUT HOW’S THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?”

“Ugh, it was so very irritating!" The pink-haired Gem said with exasperation. "When Pink Diamond first arrived on Earth to overseer her precious colony, she got bored very fast, like the irresponsible selfish Gem that she is."

Pearl projected a hologram showing Pink Diamond looking bored beyond her mind while she stared at the projections for the Earth colony. Lapis could see Pearl at Pink Diamond’s side, trying to serve the distressed Diamond to the best of her abilities, without much success.

"As you can see, she found everything to be dull. That is until I announced that the first Quartzes soldiers were about to emerge from Earth's Prime Kindergarten." The hologram changed again, this time showing Pearl and Pink Diamond on the C.O.L.D. room. "She insisted to see the moment where her future subordinates came to life but got so disappointed for not being there in person."

Lapis was perplexed. “But why would she even want that? She is a Diamond, for stars sake!”

“Yes, but she always was quite different from the others of her kind. She wanted to play with her soldiers, like it was some kind of game what we were doing on this planet, instead of an invasion.” Pearl scoffed. “She got so downtrodden when she resigned herself to the fact that there was no way the other Diamonds would allow her to even go to the Prime Kindergarten, not without a convoy to guarantee her protection.”

The hologram changed yet again, this time showing a sad Pink Diamond. “So, like the slave that I was, bound to her orders and commands, even when it wasn’t necessary for do so, suggested to her to disguise herself as a Quartz soldier, so others wouldn’t notice who she really was.”

Lapis mouth hanged open, the shock of what she was hearing far too more unexpected than anything else until now. “Are you really saying-”

“Yes, yes, Lapis.” Pearl waved away, dismissing the point. “I was the one who suggested this entire charade.”

“Why?”

The pink-haired Gem sneered. "I already told you. I was programmed to serve all of my Diamond's needs, whatever they were. She wanted to have fun, so I needed to provide her with what she desired."

Lapis felt like screaming. She disheveled her hair with her hands, frustrated, impressed, and feeling so many things all at the same time she couldn’t even process. “Stars… You didn’t have a choice… That’s messed up in so many levels!”

Pearl was quiet for a moment, she closed her eyes and angry tears leaked from them. “You have no idea how much I blamed myself for all of this, even if I had not a single choice.”

‘Dammit. I feel like a jerk. For a moment, even I blamed her for all of this.’ The Blue Gem angrily thought. ‘I don’t deserve her friendship.’

"Pearl, I'm sorry!" Lapis approached her friend and lowered her head, staring at her own feet, obviously ashamed. "I… I… IT ISN'T NOT YOUR FAULT!"

Instead of the usual kind and compassionate tone, Pearl's voice was flat, almost devoid of any emotion. "I don't need you to tell me that. I know it wasn't my fault. However, I accept your apologies."

‘I… I feel so small right now… This is horrible…’

Lapis practically shrank in herself. Pearl’s words were hard to swallow, but they also were true.

She blamed her friend, and even though she knew that as a Pearl, it was impossible to ignore her mistress wishes. Lapis acted like the other Gems in Pearl's life, Gems who didn't know anything about her, who didn't witness her make an almost impossible choice between her owner and a Gem she barely knew…

She felt something on both of her eyes. Touching it with her fingers, the Blue Gem noticed she was crying.

Her face scrounged up. She turned away, attempting to not make matters worse by showing such weakness.

This wasn’t about her. 

That is until she felt a pair of delicate and thin arms wrapping her gently around her chest.

Lapis turned her head so she could look at Pearl's face. She seemed sad, and her eyes were also glistening but full with a deep emotion that beckoned to her. "I'm sorry… Please don't cry. It's OK to be scared, but we are in this together. None of this is our fault…"

Then, Pearl kissed her tears, and as she did so, a sound was emitted by Lapis throat.

"I like how you are purring," Pearl whispered on her ear, making the Blue Gem shiver from head to toe. "It's so very charming."

Lapis closed her eyes and sighed in bliss, her previous feelings of sorrow being rapidly replaced with warmth and adoration. She let her body tightly press against Pearl’s, breathing in her scent.

“Lapis.” Pearl unwrapped one of her arms and caressed her friend’s blushing cheek. “I simply adore you, even though we don’t really know each other for that long. Please don’t be afraid of voicing your opinions. We are the same, even if we have different Gems. That’s the only way we can move forward against everything that Homeworld and the Crystal Gems did to us.”

‘She is absolutely right. We didn’t want to bear the sins of our masters in our Gem crusts, to let our skin be tainted by their choices and to be blamed by it.’

“Yes.” Lapis let her hand cover the one that was caressing her cheek. “You are right. Let’s never allow ourselves to be used by anyone ever again.”

They stood in silence, just holding each other. Just feeling each other.

She felt so relaxed.

After a long time, Pearl whispered. “…Do you want to hear the rest?”

Lapis nodded. “I do, but can I wrap myself around you while you do it? It feels quite comfy.”

"All right, but you will have to do me a favor later, OK?”

The Blue Gem raised an eyebrow. “What kind of favor? Don’t tell me that you need a bath or something.”

"Not really, but I wouldn't shy away if I did get my body dirty. I do have to clean around this room in particular since you aren't exactly a tidy Gem, am I right?" Pearl giggled.

Lapis joined her on her laugh. “Well, it seems we have a deal. Let’s get this over with.”

The Blue Gem did as she said, she turned around, facing Pearl, and she wrapped her body tightly around hers, allowing her nose to rest on the crook of her friend's neck.

After she was settled on the position she wanted, Pearl resumed her hidden tale of Rose’s Quartz rebellion, all the while she was running her fingers through Lapis hair. "So, as I was saying before, Rose Quartz and I both used the new defunct Galaxy Warp on the moon base to teleport to the Prime Kindergarten. There, she interacted with the Quartzes soldier, all the while pretending to be one of them, and I just watched her from the sidelines."

“Hm… Go on.” Lapis snuggled further into Pearl’s warm body.

"Everything was fine until I warned her against calling too much attention toward herself, but since I didn't want to see her disappointed, I also suggested that we could take the time to explore other places on Earth." Pearl's hands stopped for a moment, but soon enough, they resumed her caresses. "So, we toured the planet. Sight-seeing so many incredible things, like the changes of weather, their flora, and fauna, seeing all different kind of animals, and even playing around together."

"You know, for all the time I was on Earth, I never really saw much of it," Lapis said. "I have no idea what it even looked back then, just some places, here and there. I wonder how it is nowadays."

Tugging on her hair, Pearl let her nails gently scratch the Blue Gem's scalp, making her emit a pleasing sound. "If you want to, we can both see it for ourselves. Now that I am free, I'm not sure my experiences will feel the same way as before. Hopefully, it will be even better."

“…Have Pink Diamond taken you on many places?” Lapis cautiously asked, a weird irritating feeling interrupting her comfortable state. “Before and after the war?”

The pale Gem seemed embarrassed for a moment before nodding. “Yes, she did. It wasn’t a big deal, but-”

“Then I want to see them with you.” Lapis interrupted Pearl and she muttered in annoyance. “I don’t think it will be anything worth the hassle, but at least I will be able to actually have proof that Earth truly sucks if we happened to find her again.”

Pearl’s laugh was almost like a song, sweet and with an almost hypnotic cadence in its tone. “Indeed. Then it’s a promise for the future.”

‘As If I will let my friend’s last memory of this despicable planet be with that abusive entitled liar. I will be damned before letting this happen to both of us.’ The Blue Gem concluded.

“Now, continuing the story, everything was going well until we happened to meet a pack of primitive humans.” Pearl’s voice lost a bit of their light tone. “She’d come to the realization that if she completed Earth’s colony, everything would die on Earth, except the Gems who would be created by its resources.”

Lapis scoffed. “So, what? Biological creatures are intellectually and physically inferior to us anyway. They are generally unstable and prone to violence without any sense of order.”

The pale Gem scratched Lapis scalp again, running her fingers through her thick hair locks, which made her make all kind of different sounds, truly enjoying herself. The blue Gem repositioned her face so she could press her mouth to the crook of her friends’ neck, eliciting a sharp gasp from her.

"C-Correct!" Pearl's voice had sounded weak, but it sounded very enchanting to Lapis. The Blue Gem felt her friend press herself tightly against her. It was becoming hard to keep standing up like this. "D-Do you want to sit down? If I lay across the floor, we can snuggle better."

Lapis backed away so she could stare at her friend's face. Now that she could properly look at her, her entire visage was covered in a bluish hue, her blush very intense, and her pupils seemed a little dilated.

Not that she was in better shape, she was sure of it.

"Y-Yeah!" Now Lapis was the one stuttering. "I've would love to, but won't you get hurt? I can at least make a cushion out of water, even if it might get a little slippery."

The pink-haired Gem bit her lips, attracting Lapis gaze immediately.

She could not look away. The action seemed very enticing.

“Its fine by me, oh Supreme Leader of mine.” Pearl winked at her. “Let’s get ourselves some cushions, shall we?”

The Blue Gem nodded. “Right away, my Captain.”

With a flick of her wrist, a pack of big pillows, cushions and what like had formed on the floor. The pale Gem slowly lay her back against them, and slowly beckoned her to join her, giving the Blue Gem a come-hither look.

It took just a couple of seconds until Lapis pressed herself against her again, inhaling her scent as deeply as she could. The pale Gem whimpered due to the action, but soon they settled back into a comfortable position.

“…You can resume your story, C.O.L.D. Captain.” Lapis sighed happily.

“Right. As I was saying before after Pink Diamond realized that all life on Earth would end due to Homeworld's intervention, she no longer was interested in keeping her colony, so she tried, again and again, to convince her fellow Diamonds to leave her planet alone." Pearl let her fingers get back into Lapis scalp. "However, they didn't really care for what she said. Yellow Diamond simply stated that she needed to finish what she started and Blue Diamond just made a Zoo and threw a bunch of humans on it."

“…And White Diamond?”

At this question, the pale Gem stopped her motions. She looked away. "Pink Diamond didn't have the best of relationships with her, so she avoided even talking with her altogether."

"Makes sense. No Gem on their right mind would even try to interact with her if they could avoid it. It never was a good sign when White Diamond took an interest in something, especially for anyone else involved." The Blue Gem remarked. "Thank the stars I've never personally met her."

Pearl was silent for a moment. She resumed her actions, but there was something strange about it. However, Lapis could not and wouldn't ever blame her for it.

Nothing good ever came from White Diamond. Nothing.

“…Let’s resume our little tale, shall we?” Pearl smiled at her. She smiled back. “So, since Pink Diamond’s words kept being ignored by Yellow Diamond and Blue Diamond, she decided to become someone that they couldn’t ignore, someone that would scare away the Gems from Earth by force, someone who’d be considered a real threat.”

The Blue Gem kept quiet.

“She created a name and a symbol, one that would differentiate from Homeworld’s banner. Instead of a Diamond, the rebels would use a Star.” The pink-haired Gem’s gaze seemed lost for a moment. “And then, she created the Crystal Gems, and I followed her to the best of my own abilities, even if I wasn’t made to fight.”

Lapis sneered. “Course she forced you to fight. It’s not like you could do anything else with her calling the shots, that prepotent defective Diamond.”

Pearl nodded. “Indeed. Back then, I was truly convinced that what I was doing was something out of pure love. I still could not understand how unhealthy everything was. I don’t know if I want to even acknowledge it as a possibility.”

“I’m so sorry you had to deal with this.” Lapis backed away and firmly stared at her friend’s blue eyes with her own. “I cannot even begin to understand what you experienced. To be around someone, to feel obligated to do their bidding and worse, to artificially love them… That’s just cruel.”

Pearl gave her friend a little pat on her head. “Thanks. Even if it was a horrible experience, I’m no longer bound by it anymore. You freed me, remember?”

“No Pearl, you freed yourself.” Lapis corrected her. “I did nothing.”

“Actually, you did.” Pearl sat up, bringing the Blue Gem’s body along with her. “You gave me the opportunity to be away from all that toxicity, not to mention, I wanted to break my Diamond’s command so I could protect you. Don’t sell yourself short, you are very dear to me.”

Lapis blushed again timidly covered her face with her hands. “You keep saying those things. I don’t know how to react.”

“Just be yourself. We are friends, so we’re supposed to be truthful with each other.” The pale Gem gently uncovered her friend’s face with her own hands. “See?”

The Blue Gem nodded. “Ok, but don’t blame me if I say something weird.”

“Lapis, we are laying around over a bunch of pillows made from water, on a secret base on the moon, while we are cuddling and I’m telling you the story how my ex-owner started a war against herself so she could protect her pets.” Pearl smiled. “Nothing can top this on any weird scale.”

The Blue Gem guffawed, laughing and laughing until tears were leaking from her eyes. Her friend joined her soon enough and both Gem’s lost themselves in the absurdity of everything.

After a long time, after both of them calmed down, Lapis snickered. “So, Pink Diamond created her own rebellion? How cute.”

"You don't know how annoying it was. The sheer number of things she had me do to make everything go smoothly. So exhausting." Pearl's voice was laced with exasperation. "Although, everything started to change when we tried to send Blue Diamond's a more direct message by attacking her entourage while she was present."

‘What? Were she the one who…?’

"You were the so-called ‘Renegade Pearl' who was accompanying Rose Quartz! Now I remember you!" Lapis exclaimed. "You looked totally different, I mean, you already were very pretty back then, but right now you are absolutely gorgeous."

“Oh, stop!” The pink-haired gem smirked, blushing happily. “But thanks for calling me gorgeous. You aren’t so bad yourself.”

“We are awesome.” Lapis winked. “I was among that Blue Diamond entourage. Like, there was even a Ruby who fused with a Sapphire, among all things.”

Pearl raised an eyebrow. "You aren't scandalized by what had happened?"

"At the time? I was more impressed that it even was a possibility, to begin with." The Blue Gem explained. "Nowadays, I don't really care. If a Sapphire can fuse with a simple Gem like a Ruby, then anyone can fuse with whatever they want to for all I care."

“I’m glad you think it so.” The pale Gem breathed out in relief. “Especially since I used to fuse with my Diamond a lot.”

As fast as Pearl’s words were said, Lapis was completely startled, now properly scandalized. “WHAT!”

Pearl seemed confused for a moment before she started laughing awkwardly.

"After we witnessed what had happened on the Sky Arena, Rose and I tried many times to fuse with each other, until we successfully managed to create something, and what we made together was a beautiful Gem called Rainbow Quartz.” Pearl timidly twiddled her thumbs. “It became easier after we brought Garnet to our side, the same Sapphire who fused with that Ruby. She gave us many tips on how we could properly synchronize with each other."

Lapis wasn’t amused. “Forgive me for being blunt Pearl, but I really don’t want to think about you fusing with that imbecile.”

The pink-haired Gem blinked once, twice and nodded. "I see your point. It's not good to dwell on something like that with someone who didn't respect me enough."

Lapis crossed her arms, eagerly nodding. “Exactly.”

“That’s why I don’t want to fuse with anyone ever again.”

Both of the Blue Gem’s eyebrows were raised. She somehow felt a little disappointed, but as fast as it appeared, it was gone. She honestly was feeling happy to hear that her friend is cutting ties with her past and what made her suffer. Besides, fusion is too troublesome for anyone with half a mind.

She isn’t curious at all. Not really.

“Let me wrap this up.” Pearl suddenly exclaimed. “After what happened on the Sky Arena, not only Blue Diamond was demoralized in front of her entire entourage, but a sheer number of Gems started to defect to the Crystal Gem’s cause. Pink Diamond hoped to use this as an excuse to justify to the other Diamonds that they should just abandon Earth as a colony and go somewhere else.”

Lapis nodded, acknowledging what was said, but still imagining what a fusion between her and Pearl would look like.

But she wasn’t really interested in fusing with anyone. Really.

“As you known, they didn’t budge.” Pearl waved her hand. “One of the Crystal Gems, a Bismuth Gem to be more specific-’

“If I find that sneaky dirty piece of trash, I will make her regret ever existing.” The Blue Gem snarled.

“-As I was saying before being rudely interrupted…” Pearl frowned. “Bismuth helped us to make all kind of weapons, she was the one who made Rose’s fabled Sword to accompany her shield.”

Lapis grunted, still annoyed.

“…Anyhow, Bismuth disappeared during a battle-”

“I hope she got sucker punched and stuck on a mirror, on the purpose of fairness!”

“Lapis, please. I’m almost done with the story.” The pale Gem brusquely declared. “I would appreciate if you would let me finish it without further interruptions.”

“Fine, fine.” Lapis scoffed. “But I’m not sorry.”

Pearl looked like she wanted to say something but seemly changed her mind about it. "So, Bismuth disappeared, and Rose got angry. She talked to me in private and she'd come up with a plan that supposedly would turn the tide of the war and free everyone… Or should I say, a plan to free herself, since that promised freedom never existed for me, after all, I was her Pearl."

The pale Gem took a deep breath and revealed what she wanted to say for more than five thousand years. "She made me shapeshift into her Rose Quartz persona while she ingested some fake shards of a Pink Diamond that she assembled on the spot. Then she turned back into her Pink Diamond form and demanded that I should just destroy her physical body with her sword while hiding her real Gem from the others on her entourage. With this, we created the illusion that Rose Quartz had shattered Pink Diamond, and to tie any loose ends that might arise from it, she commanded me to never speak of it again."

“That’s the reason why that idiot was so relieved when I said that you killed your real owner.” Lapis concluded, feeling somewhat annoyed with herself. “Now I’m pissed. That arrogant moron fooled everyone, even me.”

“Not completely, my friend.” Pearl offered. “You were right about many things, like how she only came here to be sure the truth wouldn’t be revealed, and to tie any sparing loose ends. She got really furious with you, I could tell.”

“Good. That perverted lump of rock had this coming for a long time.” Lapis stood up. She offered a hand to her friend. “I’m tired of just laying around. What about that favor that you asked me before?”

Grabbing the Blue Gem’s hand and standing up, Pearl smiled brightly. “I just want to show you my fighting skills. I do like to show off from now and then, and like ballet performances, it takes a lot of practice.”

This peaked Lapis curiosity. She only saw Pearl fight once, a long time ago, and from what she witnessed, it was marvelous.

“Let’s go then.” The pale Gem linked their hands and guided her to the C.O.L.D. room. “Maybe you can teach me a thing or two.”

"I can, but I warn you, I am a very strict teacher!" Pearl smirked. "You might even get hurt if you aren't careful."

The Blue Gem squeezed her hand and poked Pearl’s nose. “As if you can lay a finger on me.”

Lapis had no idea how wrong she was when she spoke those words.

Chapter Text

 

“All right, Supreme Leader, let’s get started," Pearl said while she took a sword from her Gem. "To learn how to properly fight with swords, you first need to learn about your posture and movement, going from there to basic techniques."

Lapis nonchalantly snorted. “Do I really need to? I can just fly around and correct my balance without having to bother with all that hassle.”

"Yes, you could attempt to use your own natural abilities on a swordfight, however, I would refrain from doing that since you shouldn't allow the outcome from a battle to be dependent solely on your skills as a Lapis Lazuli." Pearl explained while she walked around her friend. She raised an eyebrow and gave her friend a small smile. "Things might take an unforeseen turn, and try as you may, your powers might not be available in every situation, especially if the ambiance restrict their extended use."

"Wouldn't that just suck?" The Blue Gem sniggered. She then gave her friend a crooked smile. "Very well, my captain, continue."

Pearl nodded and from her Gem, she summoned a copy of herself.

The copy’s design looked just like her past appearance, the one before her present reformation. She was holding what seemed to be a spear. “Do you wish to engage in combat?”

Lapis raised both of her eyebrows. “Wow. That’s a surprise. I did not expect to see you fighting your past self like that”

Pearl chuckled. She turned, holding her arm with her right hand behind her back, smiling brightly.

At this, Lapis blushed and without noticing, opened her mouth, apparently fascinated with how her friend could move so swiftly.

‘And I must have looked pretty cute while doing this. I am, after all, a beautiful Gem.’ Pearl thought.

She motioned to the Hologram and its sword. "Well, I needed a partner so I could properly demonstrate some techniques, not to mention, since I'm no longer a Crystal Gem, it would make sense that I was fighting one of them. Also, I'm sorry if my hologram is using a spear. I only got a few of them stored in my Gem since the other weapons are… Unavailable."

“You have a weapon collection? Maybe even a sword collection?” Pearl nodded and the Blue Gem eyes seemed to shine in excitement. “That is neat. I hope you can show me someday.”

“Certainly, I would be delighted to.” Pearl walked until she stood in front of her Hologram. “First thing to keep in mind is that on a formal duel, you should pay some respect to your enemy. Now, on a usual fight, you can ignore this step since you cannot expect your opponents to offer you the same courtesy.”

The pale Gem bowed and her copy did the same, albeit very mechanically.

“No doubt about it.” The Blue Gem snickered. "Even if I was to formally fight someone, I wouldn't bother with it, since I would royally beat them up so much that they'll probably forget who they were even fighting with."

“I hope you are taking this seriously, Lapis.” Pearl gently reprehended. “It isn’t like a walk on the moon, it could have dangerous consequences if not followed right.”

The Blue Gem nodded.

“Now, going back to what I was saying…” Pearl opened her mouth, but seemly reminded herself of something, and offered her Hologram an order. “Start the beginner’s presentation, threat level: Apprenticeship.”

The Hologram seemed to be abiding by the Pale Gems order. It changed position to a battle stance, one that Lapis could recognize as the standard one, at least from what she briefly observed from other Gems. “Command accepted! Setting the simulation to the lowest level!”

Clearing her throat, Pearl continued her explanation. “The first movement that I’m going to teach you is the one known as the ‘strike from above’, and it consists of a few easy steps. Your left foot should be the leading foot, and you have to keep your waist turned towards your opponent, never let it be turned otherwise while applying this technique or it could hinder your movements, which could offer the perfect opening to an enemy attack.”

The pale Gem turned her body into the said position. "You also have to balance your weight so it could be evenly distributed all along your body, don't let it rest on one point or another, just let yourself feel it being shared on your entire posture. This will not only make your movements faster but also allow you some leverage in case your opponent happened to attack you, by letting you back away smoothly."

"Your sword has to be held on shoulder level, just like I am showing. This allows you to maintain your balance and to make different kind of moves." Pearl turned her attention to the Hologram. "As the movement itself, is a fluid action, but for the sake of this presentation, I'm going to break it down into few steps."

"You got it, Pearl." Lapis said, her voice carrying some amusement. "Show me how it is done."

“Always the charmer.” The pink-haired Gem smiled. “For the first step, you’ll want to close the distance between your opponent and yourself, by bringing your sword forward. This way, you can protect yourself from a last-minute counterattack. As for the stepping, you step towards your opponent, but at the same time, a little bit to your right, out of their line of attack, should there be any attempt to react to your movements.”

Pearl moved in one fluid motion as she explained, but deliberately making it slow enough so her friend could notice all the needed details. "The last part of the movement would obviously be the act of bringing down your blade in a straight line, hitting your opponent. Depending on your and your opponent's height, different areas can be reached. For the sake of this presentation, I will use my own height."

“That’s fine by me. If I happened to fight a runt or that Pink Diamond chump, I can adapt to them.” The Blue Gem nodded to herself. She smiled. “Besides, we all have to start with a simple example, so why not one who is easily reachable? We can use different copies later.”

"I aim to please." The pink-haired gem winked, prompting a small blush on both of their faces. "Now, returning to my explanation, that simple strike can also allow you to protect yourself from another counterattack opportunity. Not only you remove your head and neck away from your enemy blade, but you can also decapitate your enemy quickly, not to mention, if they tried to retaliate, you are protected by the cross guard of the sword itself."

Pearl moved her sword just as she explained. The Hologram reacted just as well, and she hit it across the neck, making it disappear as soon as it got decapitated. The pale Gem projected another copy following a similar design and behavior. Then, she showcased an attack where it didn't hit the opponent's neck but allowed Lapis to see how her sword guard protected her from the Hologram's counterattack.

“Now, to make it more likely for you to measure how a blade can be devastating on a well-trained knight’s hand, I will use a more tangible example.” From her Gem, Pearl took a cabbage. “One of my ex-companions in the Crystal Gem group, the one that I called Amethyst, seemed utterly fascinated with the bizarre human habit of eating. She usually would dirty up the place, so I had to keep some of those things away from her, and this vegetable, which is an edible plant for human consumption, is perfect to show you how a quick movement, like the one I demonstrated, can be essential to turn a tide of battle.”

 “…Humans eat plants?” Lapis face scrunched up. “Seems disgusting enough that they would need to do it, but why would any self-respecting Gem do anything like it?”

"I've asked her many times, and every single one of them I was met with a similar answer: ‘Because it is awesome, feels nice and cozy, not to mention it could be very tasty and fun'." Lowering her voice conspiratorially, like she was gossiping with Lapis, Pearl giggled. "The worse part isn't even that, but what happens to the biological matter that isn't processed by the body, it turns into a foul smelly waste that comes out from the lowest body's cavity… Which is also something that Amethyst found to be ‘fun'."

Lapis face twitched, disgusted with what she just heard. “Please tell me you never did that.”

"Stars forbid, I've never done and I never want to do anything like it, believe me, between feeling disgusted by it and watching Amethyst acting like that, any curiosity that I might ever have on the matter ceased thousands of years ago." Now Pearl's face was the one that twitched. "To make matters worse, did you know that to be able to ingest, or technically feel anything like humans do, you need to study their anatomies and to replicate their biological systems? Why would anyone even bother to do something like that? At least with most of it, I mean."

‘Well, not every biological need was bad… Observation and emulation of sexual interactions from different races always were a thing, even when I lived on Homeworld, but I have to admit that the Human set of sexual parts and their reactions were actually a good experience, if replicated correctly. At least it was whenever Rose Quartz and I did it to each other, although I might have a different opinion now that I’m no longer controlled by her motivations.’ Pearl secretly thought.

“You know, it’s a blessing that you no longer belong to that group. Bunch of weirdos.” The Blue Gem muttered. “Now that I am happier with the fact that we are on the moon and not around any smelly humans and their weird habits, can we return to the lesson? I really want to chop something up after hearing that absurdity.”

The pale Gem nodded. She placed the cabbage on the Hologram’s hands and took some steps back. She assumed the battle position, making sure that her blue friend was observing her stances. “Lapis, pay close attention to this.”

Pearl raised her sword, and in one quick movement, brought it down, its blade chopping the cabbage in a fast motion.

The two halves fell down, hitting the floor. Lapis was awed.

“That was awesome!” The Blue Gem jumped into place. “Let me try it, please let me!”

The pale Gem nodded, offering her sword to her friend. "Of course. As soon as you practice with the Hologram as I just showed you, then you can cut all disposable vegetables that I, unfortunately, have stored in my Gem."

“Do I have to?” Lapis whined.

Pearl found it too adorable.

“Yes, you have.” The pink-haired Gem wagged her index finger. “Now, I don’t want to lecture you on this again, so just follow the steps I’ve shown you before starting anything, missy.”

Lapis raised an eyebrow, slightly confused. "My name is Lapis."

Pearl laughed. “Yes, I know, oh Supreme Leader. Just as a reminder, ‘missy’ is a human title prefixed to the name of a female human, derived from the usual formal term. By saying it like ‘missy’ instead of the usual ‘miss”, I am turning it into a playful thing instead of an act of reprehension.”

The Blue Gem seemed to be processing what was explained to her and she offered her companion a smirk. “All right, missy C.O.L.D. captain. Watch me.”

Lapis assumed the stance her friend showed her, being careful to correct her positioning until it reflected what it was explained to her. She gripped the sword carefully and proceed to strike the Hologram from above. She hit it, watching how the sword's guard protected her from the Hologram's attack. Its form faded into the light and soon enough, Pearl took another vegetable from her Gem.

“Well, that one is a little different from the cabbage one. What is called?” The Blue Gem asked while her friend stood in front of her, holding the food.

"This one is called lettuce." The pale Gem held it just like her Hologram had done moments before. "Its as horrible as the previous one. Now, let me see your chopping skills.”

“That will be easy, just you watch.”

The Blue Gem took a deep breath and raised her sword as her friend had explained. She brought it down, trying to keep a clear, smooth cut away from Pearl’s form, worried that she might hit her by accident.

The sword had made a straight cut through the soft vegetable, but it had almost hit her friend’s thumb. Lapis gasped and immediately reached for the pale Gem’s hands, looking for signs of damage.

Pearl watched her, her expression unreadable.

“I didn’t hurt you, right?” Lapis worriedly asked. “I’m sorry, I should’ve taken this more seriously.”

Pearl sighed. "I'm fine, Lapis, you didn't hit me, although it does show you that you need to work on your overconfidence if you're having trouble with this movement."

Touching her friend chin with the tip of her fingers, making her raise her head so they both could gaze into each other eyes, the pink-haired Gem gently smiled. "But I'm sure you will be able to raise up above situations like this one if you dedicate yourself... Even if your overconfidence is very endearing to me."

The Blue Gem blushed, looking away. “R-Right!”

Lapis took hold of Pearl’s hands, making the chopped vegetable fall on the ground. “I want to spar with you. Please don’t hold back, I have to learn through difficulty, even If I get hurt while doing it.”

“That is exactly the motivation that you needed, Lapis.” Pearl squeezed the Blue Gem’s hands. “On your guard. I have many moves to demonstrate, and I want to fight you properly, so I won’t hold back.”

Lapis smiled, releasing the pink haired Gem's hands and shooting her a firm look. “That’s good to hear. Just so you know, I have a lot of stamina, therefore I can keep going with you for a long time until we get really exhausted!”

At her friend’s words, Pearl blushed and covered her mouth with the tips of her fingers, trying to hold in her laugh. She gazed at the Blue Gem, still smirking. “Ah, Lapis. You have no idea how’s that can be interpreted, however, it adds to your charm, I suppose.”

The Blue Gem shot her a bewildered look, obviously missing the point.

‘All right, enough teasing my poor friend. Let’s get this over with.’

“Prepare yourself, oh Supreme Leader.” The pale Gem deflected the mood by turning her friend’s attention back to the practice. “Let’s start the second lesson.”

 

---

 

Lapis lay on her back, feeling the coldness of the room’s floor and staring at the tip of Pearl’s sword for what seemed to be the thousand time.

“You are showing some remarkable tenacity, Lapis. Maybe if we keep up this rhythm every day, you can improve your technique even further.”

“You are kidding, right?” Lapis hoarse and tired voice echoed on the room. “I am so tired right now that I can faint and… What is that weird thing that humans do when they are out of strength?”

“Sleep?” Pearl tentatively offered.

“Yes, that sleeping thing. I saw on a ballet performance, I think the name was ‘The Sleeping Beauty’.” Lapis groaned. “I didn’t see the point of it back when I was watching, but now I really get it.”

Pearl unsummoned her holographic sword and grabbed Lapis real sword from the Blue Gem's hand, putting it back into her Gem. Then, she sat by her friend’s side, exchanging looks with her. “You know, I live on Earth all this time, but aside from the occasion faint by an enemy attack, I’ve never indulged myself on any sleep.”

“Ah.”

The pale Gem bristled. “There you go with your ‘ah’ again.”

“It is just… I thought that you had some experience with it. Maybe then we could try to sleep together, see what is all the fuss about.”

Pearl laughed. “Oh Lapis, I would recommend you to not use this term loosely.”

“Huh? Why?” The Blue Gem asked.

"Oh, nothing." Pearl waved away her question. She did want to make fun of her friend obliviousness for a little longer, so she didn’t want to just ruin it by explaining what it meant. “Regardless, do you have any idea how humans sleep?”

Lapis frowned. "From what I could understand, you first need to stay still in a comfortable position, then you close your eyes and stay quiet."

"Hm, like this?" Pearl lay by her friend's side and closed her eyes. "Am I doing it right?"

“I don’t think we can talk while we are trying to sleep.” Lapis seemed to reach a realization, eagerly shaking her companion until Pearl opened her eyes. “I have an idea! I can make more of those cushions and then we can snuggle up and don’t think about anything. Maybe we can sleep if we do it this way.”

Pearl smiled. “Well, if you want to try it, I’m not going to complain. Let's have our water cushions.”

With a snap of her fingers and some concentration, Lapis projects more of her water cushions and pillows, this time, right from under them. When it settled on its form, the Blue Gem cuddled with Pearl’s arm. “Now that we are comfortable, we can try it for real.”

“Yes, maybe it will work.” Pearl snickered. “Let’s close our eyes, and think about nothing at all.”

They stayed in complete silence. The stillness of their bodies and empty thoughts lulling them into a state of lethargy, a feeling that none of them ever experienced.

Soon enough, Pearl felt disconnected from everything but the silence of her own mind.

 

---

 

Time flew by and Pearl eventually awoke.

Lapis was even more snuggled into her, the Blue Gem’s body laying on top of her own, their legs intertwining and Lapis head resting between her breasts. It was a comfortable position, she felt cared for and appreciated, and most of importantly, felt no maliciousness from her friend's innocent actions.

She wasn’t trying to get anything from her but what she told her. She wasn’t trying to take any advantage from her.

They just wanted to bask in each other form, like they were, to experience different things and to share on their friendship.

Pearl scratched the Blue Gem's hair, combing through her soft locks carefully. Lapis unconsciously pressed herself further into her and emitted an unexpected sound.

She was snoring.

‘Oh. That’s interesting and funny. I will tease her about this.’ Pearl smiled to herself. ‘I wonder what she is even thinking of?’

Pearl herself didn’t have any memories from what she was dreaming. From the little to no information that she had around the theme, humans didn’t seem to dream every time they fell asleep. It wasn’t a guaranteed fact and most of the time, it was a jumble of thoughts, emotions and disconnected from any logic. It wasn’t any wonder that Gems like herself would not understand this without trying it firsthand. It just wasn’t logical for beings like her who didn’t enjoy chaos.

Nevertheless, it wasn't a bad experience. Maybe she could seldom indulge in it in the future.

Lapis snored again, this time, a little louder. A little bit of droll fell down from the corner of her mouth, coming into contact with the pale Gem breasts. Pearl sighed and project a tissue from her Gem, cleaning her friend up.

"…Huh? What...?" The Blue Gem waked up. "…Where is that hideous pink rabbit? I was about to crush it…"

“I believe you were having a dream”. Pearl smiled, then the smiled turned into a smirk and she side eyed her friend. “Also, you were drooling. Utterly adorable, even if you did make a mess all over me.”

Startled by Pearl’s words, the Blue Gem looked at herself and at her friend. She noticed the wet path over Pearl's breasts, prompting a blush. Then, Lapis carefully touched the side of her own mouth. The Blue Gem groaned when she felt the remains of the said droll and hid her face on Pearl’s shoulder. “Not a word about it, please.”

"I'll make no promises, teasing you is just too endearing, but I will refrain from making a fuss." Pearl giggled. "So, tell me, what were you dreaming about?"

Lapis sat up over Pearl’s abdomen, looking at her excitedly. “It was quite an amazing if weird dream! I can just jump into place while thinking about it, you know!”

Pearl let both of her hands rest on her friend’s waist, keeping her into place, feeling both worried with the idea of having Lapis jump while sitting on her and elated with their closeness. It shows how much trust they had on each other, and how natural everything turned to be.

Even positions like this one.

‘I should not get worried about this coming out of hand. She is just happy, that’s all. Besides, it is quite relaxing.’

“Well then, don’t let myself stop you.” Pearl stretched. “You were saying something about a pink rabbit?”

"Yes!" Lapis jumped up and down, Pearl's midsection warming up. The Blue Gem snorted as if she was remembering something like a joke from her dream. "It was weird, but remember that movie we first saw on the P.O.I.'s room projector? The one with the metal wearing humans and that rabbit? It was like we were the knights but instead of fighting a normal looking bunny, we were fighting a pink one."

The pale Gem raised an eyebrow. “Why it was pink? Is there a reason?”

"I don't know, maybe it changed colors after all the blood of its enemies filled it up, or something." Lapis shrugged her shoulders. "Anyways, we were there and we could not hit it since it would retaliate with an evil attack that would shatter us on the spot until you handed me the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and I threw it on that hideous creature direction. It exploded, and it was almost dying, but when I was about to crush it with my bare hands, you woke me up."

Pearl guffawed. “I’m sorry for ruining your moment. You deserved a nice ending.”

"At least that thing was crippled and it would be a matter of time before I could kill it," Lapis muttered. "Too bad I don't really have a weapon besides my natural hydrokinesis to assist me whenever I am in trouble.”

"You have to admit that your skills are already very impressive to behold, though..." Pearl stated. "However, its never a problem to carry something extra for a raining day.”

At her friend’s words, Lapis seemed confused. “What is ‘rain’?”

‘Right. There wasn't any rain in Homeworld or any changes in its weather for that matter.'

“Rain is just liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. It also is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power harvesting and crop irrigation.” The pink-haired Gem explained. “They came from the clouds and sometimes it can be accompanied by thunders, which are the sounds caused by lightning. Depending on the distance from and nature of the lightning, it can range from a sharp, loud crack to a long, low rumble, due to the change on atmospheric pressure. When someone says that they are keeping something for a raining day, they mean that they are saving something for an unforeseen situation, like a backup plan."

“Pearl, you are so knowledgeable.” Lapis gave her friend a bright smile. “I’m lucky that I have you to explain those things, or else I would be as lost as a Ruby on a laboratory.”

Smiling back at Lapis, the pale Gem felt a warm feeling settling on her immaterial heart.

“And I am glad to have a friend like you who can appreciate that kind of knowledge.” Pearl looked away, remembering something sour, making her expression fall for a minute. “When I was a Crystal Gem, I never got this kind of respect from my peers, since to them, I’ve come across as ‘annoying’, 'uptight' and even as 'bossy'.”

Lapis scoffed and sneered. “The more I hear about those morons, the more I dislike them.”

The Blue Gem raised up, and turned her back to Pearl, looking away.

“Lapis…” The pink-haired Gem stood up and walked towards her friend, who was frowning and clenching her fists. “Please don’t be mad at them.”

“Mad?” The Blue Gem turned her head briskly at her friend’s words. “I’m furious. Those Gems claimed to be your friends but thought so little of you. Of course I would want to give them a piece of my mind.”

The silence was Lapis answer.

‘She has a point, but…’

“They behave as feeble as the lies that they were fed, Lapis.” The pale Gem finally said. “As long they aren’t aware of what is truly happening around them, they are nothing more than convenient paw pieces in Rose’s hands. However, I…”

Lapis turned to her body towards Pearl. Her face filled with determination. “You have a plan?”

Pearl gave her a strange smile. "Yes, however, let's say that they are going to get as hurt as I did since they are too much into Rose's convenient lies to even bother listening to whatever we have to say. I will tell you later, but now…"

The pink-haired Gem gently pried Lapis hands open. She squeezes them, feeling her friend’s mood improve by it. “I would like to propose a tactical move.”

“I’m listening.” The Blue Gem squeezed the hands back.

"There is a place on Earth, most specifically an old Gem battlefield with gigantic strawberries." From her Gem, Pearl made a simple projection of the aforementioned environment. "What is important about this place is the sheer number of dangerous weapons just laying around. We can acquire some of them and keep it for a situation where they might prove themselves useful, not to mention, we can recover all kinds of lost equipment while we are there. For example, I lost a very powerful pair of daggers in this place five thousand years ago and it would be wise to look for them in our current situation."

Lapis was quiet, pursing her lips.

“You don’t need to come with me, Lapis.” Pearl said. “I would never want to force you to be around things and in a place that you abhor, although I might need your help just to reach the field and to get me back when I give you a signal, so you wouldn’t need to wait for me to be done.”

The Blue Gem seemed to be in awe. She held Pearl’s face on the palm of her hands, firmly staring at her. “I’m not going to let you go alone on a place like this. I will help you with my powers so we might get things done quicker, and when we both get back, I will have an immense satisfaction to know that those stupid Gems aren’t going to use those weapons against us in the near future.”

Now, Pearl herself felt humbled by Lapis words. She had no way of knowing, but in the future, this moment would be essential for both of them… And to the world. However, right now, she just smiled.

“Then let’s get ready. I even an idea where we might even start looking.”

 

---

 

‘Even after five thousand years… My memories of this place still feel so fresh in my mind…’ Pearl thought while both Gem’s approached the large field. The Blue Gem slowed down and carefully set her friend on the grass. She unsummoned her wings and stood at her pink-haired companion's side.

“This place seems so familiar…” The Blue Gem muttered. She skipped over some stones on her way and grabbed one of the oversized strawberries from the ground. “Although, those things are a new addition.”

“This is a Strawberry. Is another edible human food, from the fruit type, but due to the high Gem influence on this area, they apparently grew into this colossal size.” Pearl gestured to the fruit on Lapis arms. “They are scattered all around this place, so watch out for anything hiding beneath them. I already got my form destroyed by misstepping around those things, although, since they are so filled with juicy like substances, I’m sure you can use the water substance inside them to your favor.”

“All right.” Lapis threw the strawberry away, not caring where it landed on. “Let me just concentrate for a minute so I can get some water from those things.”

The pale Gem nodded and proceed to carefully look around for anything useful.

‘Yes, there are those gigantic swords that I can see just fine, but Lapis and I have no use for them, and I doubt Garnet, Rose or even Amethyst would use them when they all have their own set of weapons. Still, I might take one for the sake of being through, even if I do get a little jittery with it.'

Pearl closed her eyes and absorbed the gigantic sword into her Gem. As she predicted, the effort of compartmentalizing such a colossal object took a toll on her for a moment. She took a deep breath and tried to quell the incoming headache. After some moments, she returned to the task at hand.

She needed to find those daggers.

Much like Rose’s Sword and Scabbard, Bismuth had also gifted her with a special kind of weapon. Although her reasons for doing so could range from simply being nice to somehow taunt their leader.

Of all the Crystal Gems, Bismuth was the kindest and most empathetic one, at least whenever I was concerned.’

Her lost friend never did behave quite how Rose would like her to, often questioning her motives and generally arguing against some of her orders. Especially when those orders somehow limited the pale Gem’s own involvement in battles.

‘She understood that I needed to fight and respected that, that’s why she often would spar with me without holding back and would treat me with the respect that I deserved as a warrior, even if I wasn’t supposed to be one… Which was something that most Crystal Gems didn’t seem to get.’

So, when her playful gray friend arrived with a pair of exquisite looking daggers on a red colored box tied with a ribbon, she felt a surge of happiness that she couldn’t even describe.

She still remembered what she had said to her…

‘I know you are a little down since Rose’s latest temper tantrum.’ Bismuth said while offering the red colored box. ‘We both know for a fact that Rose can be overbearing when it comes to those humans of hers or your safety, but different from what she may believe, I don’t think there is a better warrior than you on this rebellion. So, what about something to show you my appreciation?’

Pearl opened the box and found a pair exotic looking of daggers. One had a deep black color that seemed to become blue on the light, and the other was so white that could almost blind someone.

‘Beautiful, and deadly looking. Just like yourself, doll.’ Her friend winked at her, prompting a chuckle from the pale Gem.

Pearl shook her head, trying to stray her thoughts away from her lost friend. She should not think about it. It would only lead her to pain. Bismuth is gone and she would never come back.

Suddenly, she heard the sound of a thousand gigantic strawberries exploding around her. Their liquid-like substances mixing up with Lapis natural abilities of water projection and control, allowing the Blue Gem to comb the area for anything on the floor. Like a river bringing forth floating logs.

“Hey Pearl!” Lapis shouted. “I will use my hydrokinesis to bring up every object on the ground, I will make them float and you can pick them up, or whatever.”

“I appreciate the help, Lapis.” Pearl looked up, searching for anything relevant. “Now let's see where- Oh my stars!”

On the middle of the red like liquid, there was Rose’s lost Sword scabbard.

Lapis turned her head to her. “Do you want me to bring it down?”

Pearl paused for a moment before nodding. With a flick of her wrist, the Blue Gem brought the scabbard forth, letting it fall slowly toward her friends’ hands.

‘Such a long time, and it still looks brand new.’ The pink-haired Gem thought. ‘Before, I would bask in the sight of it as the humans do on their temples, but right now, I can only think how this might prove useful if I need to trade it for information, or something else…'

Even now, she knew that no one who knew her would believe what she’d become.

‘Rose Quartz’s perfect doll, her little toy soldier, turned into a Gem that wants nothing but her former mistress destruction. How ironic.’ She thought, almost sneering to herself. ‘I will make her pay for everything she has done to me.’

Pearl took the scabbard and carefully let her Gem absorb it. She returned her attention to the weapons floating around her on the liquid substance, looking for anything else.

“Lapis, if you see a pair of Daggers made from Earth pearls, please tell me.”

The Blue Gem grunted in answer.

For long hours, they looked for the daggers and anything they could make use. They found all kind of interesting objects, from weapons and armors to other seemly interesting gadgets, which Pearl kept storing on her Gem, even if she got a bit dizzy and nauseous whenever she had to do it.

However, there wasn’t any sign of the daggers.

"I can't find the daggers, Lapis..." Pearl said. "It is sad to admit it, but they might be gone for good.”

“Hm. Perhaps I can look from the top?” The Blue Gem pointed to the sky. “I do have flight capabilities.”

Pearl frowned. “But you already spend such a long time just holding this on your own, so you must be so tired. If you fly around while keeping control of the strawberry juice, there is a chance that you will collapse from exhaustion.”

“Who do you take me for?” Her friend proudly exclaimed. “I’m a Lapis Lazuli, and I would never allow myself to be defeated by any of human's disgusting set of food groups. So, watch me go!"

As soon as she said those words, water wings sprouted from her friend’s back and she flew away, piercing the watery red substance floating above them.

The pale Gem glared at the place Lapis had gone into. She anxiously waited for her return, feeling very much worried about the Blue Gem's well-being.

For what seemed to be hours, there was no sound except for the wind blowing through the trees, making the leaves rustle, almost as if they were whispering secrets.

Secrets of life, secrets of war, secrets of death, secrets of the birth of something new, secrets of peace, secrets of betrayal.

Secrets that she held on for so long.

‘The dead tells us no tales, and broken-hearted slaves are just the same… Except me…’

Pearl thoughts were interrupted when she felt a series of drops falling over her head. She looked up and notice her friend's stained colored form staring at her with a very mischievous smile.

‘Oh no, she isn’t thinking about doing that-’

Lapis cackled. “Have at you, C.O.L.D. captain!”

The Blue Gem flickered her wrist, and all the strawberry juices had come crashing down over her friend, even if she took care to not let its force overwhelm Pearl nor allow any object to hit her.

All in one, the Blue Gem just was teasing her… At a very messy level.

The area became submerged with the juicy like substance.

"LAPIS!" Pearl shouted, her head and torso been the only part not submerged by the pinkish-red liquid. "You sneaky Gem!"

The flying Gem snorted, laughing loud. “Now we are both in need of a bath. That’s for you to learn to not underestimate my abilities.”

“All right Supreme Leader, my omnipotent authority figure. I understand clearly.” Pearl sighed. “Now, could we just go take a bath with real water? Even if we can just spring it off from our forms, I would rather feel a good watery sensation before doing so.”

The Blue Gem nodded. “Agreed. Let’s get out of here.”

Lapis offered a hand to the pale Gem. Pearl took it and the Blue Gem carried her on her arms much like a prince would do to a princess. “By the way, I think I’ve found your daggers. Here.”

Floating behind her on a puddle of strawberry juice, were a pair of beautiful looking daggers, exactly the ones that Pearl longed so much to see again.

"Oh, Lapis…" Pearl cradled the weapons on her hands, nuzzling on her friend's neck. "Thank you so much. You have no idea what it means to me."

The Blue Gem blushed. “Oh, right. It’s nothing. I mean, you can count on me.”

They flew until the reached a lake, more precisely, one close to the Fjord around them. Immediately after been placed on the grassy ground, the pale Gem walked straight into the water, letting her physical body become cleaned from any strawberry remnant on her skin. She observed her friend do the same and turned her attention to her precious daggers.

Pearl felt an epiphany when she started cleaning the weapons. The awe turning into a content smile.

She turned to her friend and walked towards her.

“Hm? What’s up, Pearl?” Lapis asked while she combed her hair with her fingers.

Pearl offered her the white dagger. “I want you to have this.”

“Huh?” Lapis stared at the white, pearl-like blade. “But isn’t this important to you? Why would you do such a thing?”

The pink-haired Gem carefully pried her friend’s hands open and placed the dagger’s handle on it, along with its small scabbard. “Here on Earth, there is a tradition where when two people are close, a gift is shared between them. I know we aren’t what they would deem as ‘people’, but still stands to reason for me that I can give you a gift to represent our friendship.”

Lapis gazed at the dagger and its scabbard fondly. She looked at Pearl, her eyes filled with so many emotions, and gave her a huge smile. “Thank you. Now, we match.”

Pearl looked at her own dagger. She was right. They both matched each other.

“Yes.” She said while returning the smile, her eyes glistening. “We match...”

They both gazed into the setting sun. The moment gave Pearl an idea. “Lapis, do you wish to see a human city? Perhaps even going there to acquire something for our moon base?”

Lapis also seemed entranced by the setting sun. After a moment, she answered. "I would be delighted to, but if any human gets on my nerves, they will find themselves drowning in seconds. It's that OK with you?”

Pearl laughed. “Yes, of course, whatever you need.”

Soon, Lapis took flight with Pearl on her arms. The pale Gem directing them to a specific human city where it was supposed to be filled with anything they could possibly need.

'Empire City... Here we go.'

 

---

 

Meanwhile, Amethyst was having a heated discussion with Garnet regarding Rose’s increased absence.

“I’m telling you, Garnet! We shouldn’t just leave her there all alone in her room!” Amethyst exclaimed. “Since she won’t come out, it’s about time we do something!”

The fusion shook her head negatively. “No. From what I can see, any future where we force her to talk to us in her room lead to terrible outcomes for Rose.”

“Like what?” The purple Gem scoffed.

The fusion crossed her arms. “Like, having Rose abandoning the Crystal Temple, so she could have more privacy to cry.”

Amethyst groaned in exasperation. “Then what are we supposed to do? Just, I don’t know-, Wait for her to appear?”

Garnet glared at the star-shaped door.  “Yes. She is about to come out in three, two, one…”

As soon as she said those words, Rose Quartz walked out from her room.

She was hunched, staring at her own feet, her entire countenance reflecting her current state of mind: depressed and fragile looking. Completely different from what their charismatic leader usually presented herself.

‘This is worrisome.’ Garnet thought. ‘She still is lost in her pain.’

“Rose!” Amethyst suddenly squeaked, nervously giggling. “I’m so glad you’re here! Do you want to go see Little Butler with me?”

The tall Gem raised her head to look at her small friend, her face scrunched up. Her eyes were drenched, copious quantities of tears falling endlessly from them. She sniffed and wailed.

“Oh dammit!” The purple Gem turned to Garnet in desperation. “What we do? What we do?”

Behind her visor, Garnet frowned. She walked until she reached her crying friend. “You should tell us what happened on that day, Rose. It will make you feel better, and we might even help you to find some solutions.”

Rose glared at her friend’s impassive stance. For almost a minute in complete silence, she just stood there, contemplating her options.

She nodded distractedly, apparently gathering her words.  “Then you both better be ready for some unexpected things.”

The tall Gem motioned to her companions to follow her. She sat on the Warp Pad and patted the space at her side. After Garnet and Amethyst took their seats, she whispered. “I’ve found a working Warp Pad on the Galaxy Warp conflux. I used it to reach the moon base on my own.”

“What!” The purple Gem exclaimed. “How’s that even possible?”

Rose shook her head. “I have no idea, but that’s what happened.”

The tall Gem took a deep breath and resumed talking. “When I arrived at the moon, I discovered a lost moon base, and of course, I’ve found Pearl.”

Amethyst and Garnet nodded, a feeling of dread appearing on the air around them.

“I tried to talk to her, and asked her to come back with me, but she refused.”

“WHAT!” The purple Gem shouted, obviously shocked. “When have Pearl ever refused you anything?”

Rose was silent for a moment, then she cried again. At Garnet’s stern look, Amethyst refrained from commenting anything further.

The fusion hugged her crying friend. “Shhh... Rose, please do continue.”

“O-Ok…” Rose sniffed. “S-She just started talking about how much I’ve hurt her and that I only cared for myself, a-a-and how she didn’t want to go back to us.”

Amethyst scoffed. “Like she is one to talk. Pearl is so full of herself! What does she want? For us to beg for her to come back?”

“This is unusual.” Garnet frowned. “Pearl always had a perchance for the dramatic, and normally would have a nihilistic take on how others would perceive her. It isn’t impossible to consider how she would believe we are intentionally hurting her, even when we don’t know what she meant by that.”

“Yeah, whatever you just said.” The purple Gem agreed. “But this isn’t all, right Rose?”

Rose nodded. “Yes. Pearl also told me that she found an uncorrupted Homeworld Gem imprisoned on a mirror. She freed her…”

Both Amethyst and Garnet gasped. Rose closed her eyes. “…The Gem is a Lapis Lazuli, from Blue Diamond's entourage, and she was the one who brought Pearl to the moon and convinced her to stay there with her.”

The purple Gem groaned in irritation. “Argh! How come Pearl can be so stupid? That Lapis Lazuli is obviously using her for something.”

“Of course she is using her! But Pearl would not listen to me.” Rose bitterly cried. “And then, that Lapis appeared and she wouldn’t let me take Pearl back with me, a-and I ended up fighting her…”

The tall Gem wailed. She covered her face with her trembling hands. Her companions exchanged worried looks and gently hugged her. After long moments of just hearing their leader cry her eyes out, Rose bitterly groaned. “During our fight, when I was about to finish things, I accidentally hit Pearl, who had thrown herself in my way to protect that Gem... I poofed her by accident.”

“What!” Garnet was the one who interrupted. “Why would Pearl do anything like it for a Gem she barely knew?”

Rose shook her head negatively. “I don’t know, but I believe that Gem said something to her, she somehow turned her against us!”

The tall Gem stood up. “Pearl would never leave me. She would never intentionally hurt me like that. She would never… Never…”

Garnet slowly rose up from where she had sat and placed a hand on her weeping friend’s shoulder. “Thank you for being honest with us, Rose. I think now I have a clear picture of what has happened.”

“Yeah, thanks a bunch Rose…” Amethyst hugged her friend’s legs. “Don’t worry. We will get Pearl back. She probably didn’t even have a saying in all of this, so it isn’t really her fault.”

Rose gave her small friend a look, a shadow of something glinting in her eyes before she nodded in acknowledgment. “Thank you all for your kindness. I truly needed the emotional support to deal with all of this.”

The three of them looked at the sun rising on the horizon. Rose face was unreadable, Amethyst seemed determined, but Garnet’s was internally troubled.

‘There are a lot of things that aren't adding up to this story... I feel that something is wrong, but I don’t know what is, exactly. Perhaps Pearl can give me some insight… Maybe even give me some answers in regarding what is going on, or at least her own side of this story.'

Using her future vision, Garnet could see a number of futures where things ended in tragedy, but one where she could talk with her friend, and this future seemed more dependent of her next actions on the near future.

She needs to make some preparations, whether Rose would approve of them or not. After all, she wanted to keep every one of her friends safe, more than anything else in this situation. They didn’t seem to notice how they were behaving, and this could be dangerous, especially in a situation where the damage could be catastrophic for everyone involved.

 

Chapter Text

 

They flew away for a time with Pearl trying to direct her at first, then whenever Lapis felt tired, they would use the closest Warp Pad to save their strength.

However, they still needed to fly for the remaining of the road, and as Lapis argued, it would be safer this way.

…And she would have Pearl’s arms around her neck for a little longer.

‘I like when she scratches my head to make me smile and nuzzles on my neck when I fly too fast. It is blissful.' She thought.

“Lapis, I believe we’re here…” Pearl whispered on the Blue gem’s ear. “Lets land on the outskirts of the city.”

“Ok!”  Lapis exclaimed and flew down at high speed, making Pearl yelp in surprise.

When they reached the ground, the Blue Gem gently allowed her friend to step away from their embrace. The pale Gem still trembled but chuckled. "I swear, I almost lost my physical form when you dived. How you can keep going like that is beyond me."

Lapis puffed her chest at her friend’s remark, feeling a swell of pride. “I know! I’m awesome like that, missy.”

Pearl ruffled the Blue Gem’s hair. “All right, smart-mouth. Let’s start walking. I want to show you around, at least, to what I remember.”

They chatted about their environment with Lapis feeling very curious over the complete change of scenario. Any kind of reference she had over how a human city was supposed to look like came from what little she saw on the P.O.I. projector.

‘I just hope they are cleaner and less disgusting looking than the one that appeared on the movie with the knights… And that they also don’t have those dangerous fluffy vermin lurking around, trying to kill us when our guard is down.’

Also, Pearl explained that humans usually piloted combustion-based vehicles named cars, or variants of it called motorcycles. She pointed some examples as they passed by.

‘I like those motorcycles things. They’re cool.’

When they came across a huge plaque, with human drawings, or could it be their alphabet for all that Lapis cared, Pearl grabbed her hand. “This is the welcome sign to the city. Let me be the first to welcome you to the city that never sleeps.”

“City that never sleeps? So the humans all just collapse by exhaustion?” Lapis raised an eyebrow. “Seems counterproductive.”

“I agree, it’s a weird thing to announce to newcomers.” The pale Gem nodded. “Not to mention, this is probably a lie. For starters, their city isn’t alive, therefore can’t sleep, so it was probably just a publicity stunt of sorts…”

“Still weird though…” Lapis shrugged and squeezed Pearl’s hand back. “Humans are bizarre.”

Pearl smirked. “Yes, they are, and thanks to the stars you’re here with me.”

Both Gems entered the city, exchanging playful looks.

 

---

 

“This is huge, but nothing compared to Homeworld’s monumental spires.” Lapis remarked after they passed through a structure that Pearl described as ‘Paris Tower Casino’. “What is a casino anyway?”

“A casino is where the humans usually go to lose their hard-earned currency. I was here twenty years ago with the other Gems and I witnessed them do so many scandalous things because of this obsession.” Pearl explained as she sneered at a downtrodden human leaving the said building. “They expect to increase their revenue by leaving everything to chance, playing obviously rigged games in hopes their thrills can be appeased. Disgraceful.”

Lapis simply nodded. “Ah”.

Pearl rolled her eyes "I won't even say anything. Your ‘ah' already became your intellectual property at this point."

Guiding them away from the casino, Pearl brought Lapis to a very crowded, large street, buzzing with activity. “This is their very own boulevard. They have all kind of shows, musicals and other features being displayed here. It does cost money, so we cannot choose to see everything, I’m afraid.”

The Blue Gem frowned. “Why humans do such unnecessary things?”

“They are usually trying to fill their time with meaningless distractions to run away from their boring existences, I believe.” Pearl remarked. “Some of them are interesting, though. I love their musical presentations.”

“I’m not surprised.” Lapis smiled. “You like pretty things.”

The pale Gem blushed. “Oh, you know me so well.”

Both Gems giggled. “I mean it Pearl, everything about you is so delicate and charming, I feel just like-”

Lapis words were interrupted when someone cleared their throat. Pearl turned her head to look at the person in reflex.

It was a tall, long-haired human, apparently a female looking one. She leered at Pearl from head to toe, a perverted smile on her face. “Nice legs, sexy girl. When they open?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Lapis scoffed at the stranger. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

The female human seemed to just have noticed Lapis presence. She sneered at her and offered Pearl a crooked smile. “You know, hot stuff, you can do way better than this blue-skinned weirdo. She’s nowhere close to our league.”

‘WHAT!’

“I can make you feel so good that you won’t be able to do anything for a month after I finish with you, I can guarantee that you won’t even be able to walk straight.” The human seemed to have an afterthought and gave Pearl another smirk. “Then again, with a perfect body like that, I doubt you are straight at all.”

‘This human will die.’ Lapis angrily thought.

But before she could summon her hydrokinesis to drown the human, the pale Gem surprised her.

“Very well. Lead away, human.” The pale Gem smiled strangely at the female. “I will make you feel something unbelievable.”

“WHAT!” Lapis grabbed her friend’s arm. “Pearl, you can’t be serious!”

The pale Gem turned her head towards Lapis and this made the Blue Gem gasp.

Lapis always took care to observe and read everyone’s intentions around her, but Pearl’s eyes were almost dark-looking, glinting with malice. Like there was nothing on them, but cruel intentions, even if her visage seemed neutral.

Her friend gave her an eerie smile. “let me handle this.”

The pink-haired Gem returned her attention to the female human. “I will go, but my friend here needs to watch everything. Do you agree with it?”

“Yeah, sure, but I’m not tapping that blue emo since she really isn’t my type, so if she wants to watch how the top dogs act, that’s fine by me.” The female human crassly snorted. “Let’s go have a quickie on that back alley over there.”

Lapis almost growled at the human, holding herself from doing anything.

‘Pearl have a plan. I should trust her judgment, and she asked me to follow her, so at least I don’t need to be worried.’

They followed the human to the back of a secluded alley. The almost deafening sound of the cars honks and generally buzz from traffic was annoying, but also allowed them to not be so easily eavesdropped by anyone who might be walking close to the alley.

“We’re here!” The female said, approaching the pale Gem and forcefully grabbed her chin. “Now, let me suck all of your sugar, baby.”

The human approached her face to Pearl’s, who was smirking in that strange way. When the irritating fool it was about to do… Something with her mouth, everything took a different turn.

Pearl’s hands had wrapped around the human’s throat and raised the female body from the floor. The pale Gem tightened her grip around the offending human and slammed her against the nearest alley’s wall.

“Allow me to be perfectly clear with you, your bag of blood and flesh.” Pearl giggled, sending a shiver down Lapis spine. “I’m keeping your life on my hands, and I can end it just as easily.”

As she said those threatening words, Pearl used her free hand to grip one of the struggling woman’s wrists. She paused for a second before snapping it.

The human screamed in pain, but the tight grip on her neck made it sound more like a dying shriek.

“Now, your rude simpleton, I will give you two very simple options. One, you struggle and I’ll kill you as painfully as I can…” Pearl’s eyes widened, apparently feeling livid. “Or… You will leave your wallet and run away as fast as you can and will never bother any woman again. What it will be?”

At the gasps, struggles and lack of a well-made answer, Pearl relaxed her grip, slowly scratching down the woman’s neck with her nail, allowing the human to emit an answer and to sooth the pain.

"H-Here!" The woman threw a thick looking object at Pearl's feet. The pale Gem kept glaring at her, and the human, still gasping, slowly slid down against the brick wall until she was awkwardly sitting on the ground.

Pearl crouched at the woman’s eye level, tilting her head to the side, absentmindedly playing with the human’s shirt lapel. “Now, what to do with you…?”

 "Please don't kill me! I didn't want to be rude to any of you! I swear, I thought you were just a hot bimbo and-" The female tried to justify her actions, just when she felt Pearl's fingers tilting her chin up so she would be forced to look straight at her eyes. 

The pale Gem’s expression seemed devoid of anything for a moment, but soon enough, her eyes got heavy-lidded and her smile lazy-looking.

"You thought that I was an easy target. So very easy to manipulate, to take advantage of." She let her free hand wander to the paralyzed woman's hair, resting it gently on her long locks. "This body is my own. I won't share it with the likes of you and I would never allow myself to sink low as to go for a rude creature such as yourself."

The pale Gem suddenly yanked the woman's head back by her hair. The woman seemed to be both fearing and enjoying the way Pearl was acting with her, the human's face flushed, her eyes heavy with desire. "I'm beyond your comprehension, therefore, you cannot possibly understand my needs. I'm giving you a chance to walk away, but next time this won't happen."

She released the female hair and gently caressed her face, going as close as she could, with her lips almost touching the fearful woman ones. "And never insult my friend ever again. Or I will make you suffer so much that you’ll end up enjoying being killed by me.”

Pearl finished this by simply tapping the female human’s nose, making a ‘booping’ sound.

The woman nodded quickly, her face a bizarre mixture of panic with lust. She spared a small ‘sorry’ to the Blue Gem’s direction and run away as fast as she could.

Pearl grabbed the object the human had thrown away, looking into it. “I’m sorry for all this, Lapis…”

‘What she meant by saying she’ll make her suffer until she would start to love it? How’s that even possible?’

Lapis shook her head, trying to dismiss those thoughts, then she offered her hand to her friend, helping her raise up.

The pale Gem gently took hold of the offered hand and stood up. They exchanged looks, and for a moment, Pearl seemed ashamed.

“Pearl… You didn’t do anything wrong…” Lapis hugged her friend. “I mean, that human was being rude and stars known what she might have done to you if you weren’t a Gem.”

The Blue Gem backed away so she could kiss Pearl’s nose. “From where I stand, you only defended yourself, and you even let her walk away with her life, which I personally, would not have done; but you don’t need to be worried, I don’t think any less of you.”

Pearl seemed to perk up. Her eyes, once a mixture of maliciousness and sadness, now were full of adoration. “Lapis… Thank you for being so kind-hearted.”

The pink-haired Gem ruffled Lapis hair, prompting a laugh from her. "Now, let us resume our little tour around the city? I swear if some any other human bothers us again, I'll let you drown them."

“Deal!” Lapis grabbed Pearl left hand. “Now let’s watch those human displays filled with clothes!”

They walked away from the dark alley and ended up looking at many shop windows, with Lapis pointed excitedly at a particular one. “Look at this Pearl! It seems so cool!”

Pearl gave a small smile. “You like this… Hm, what they called? Oh, right... ‘Punk motif’? Or is it ‘Grunge’? I guess it might even have a ‘Gothic’ feel to it…”

“Punk motif? Grunge? Gothic?” The Blue Gem considered those strange human words, finding them somehow appealing to her. It made her feel powerful, and Lapis loved this feeling. “Yeah, I think I would look good on those leather clothes... And…”

Lapis paused, feeling embarrassed. She secretly wondered if Pearl would find her pretty on them, but was too afraid to voice her thoughts.

The pink-haired Gem raised an eyebrow and tentatively nudge Lapis. “…And?”

“Oh, nothing…” She looked away, trying to hide her flushing face. “But what about you? Is there something around here that you would like to use?”

Pearl pierced her lips and frowned, looking around the shopping windows until she pointed delicately to another set of clothes on display.

“What are those? They seem different.” The Blue Gem curiously asked. “Still pretty though. I would certainly use it.”

"This is a blazer, is like a dress coat of sorts, at least this model is." The pink-haired Gem remarked, examining its design. "With a few adjustments here and there, it would be improved but I can just shapeshift my own form to adjust it as I want."

“Oh, right.” Lapis deflated for a moment. “You are totally right about it.”

Pearl turned to her and looked from the clothing to Lapis face for a couple of seconds before she gave her friend a determined smile. “Let’s buy those clothes for you!”

“Uh? Why?” Lapis said as she was dragged to the store’s interior. “I can shapeshift my form into it, just as you said. There is no need to spend anything.”

Pearl side-eyed her. “You are indeed correct, but if there is something that I learned about this planet is that futility is actually a necessity. You don’t need those clothes to guarantee your survival, but having them would make you happy, and feeling good about yourself. By that logic, buying those unnecessary things can also be fundamental to our existence in this strange world.”

Then, the pale Gem held Lapis cheeks on the palms of her hands. “Besides, they would look really beautiful on you.”

Lapis face turned dark blue from embarrassment. She felt so very pleased with herself, and shyly nuzzled Pearl's hands.

‘I feel strangely happy with all of this.’

They bought the clothing, but instead of using them, Lapis shapeshift her form to a similar design. When Pearl questioned, she simply remarked that she would not use any human-made clothing until she finds something fit for Pearl's own tastes.

Pearl herself blushed beautifully at her comment, calling her ‘sweet cheeks’ and kept the clothes stored on her Gem.

‘I like this term of endearment, for some unexplainable reason. It makes me feel important to her.’

They both shapeshift and walked away from the store with clothes based on their own personal conceptions of design, baffling the workers and buyers alike with both of their presence and obviously supernatural skills, with some of them fainting due to shock.

However, none of them would be able to claim that those two weren’t gorgeous-looking women. All of them were swept away by their presence for a reason or another. From attraction to envy, they all had to admit that both ladies were like a perfect couple.

Even so, none of the two Gems ever knew what those humans thought of them and of their interactions. Even in their future, when things became clearer to them, they still wouldn't know.

None of this mattered though since both Gems were lost in their own private paradise, holding hands and walking around the city's street, too busy with each other to care for the rest of the world.

 

---  

 

‘Well, when Pearl told me that humans enjoyed those things, I wasn’t expecting anything like what we just saw, and she was the one who said it would be good, and I’m still trying to get all of it.’

They both just finished watching their musical. They both looked shocked with what they had witnessed, Lapis even more than she herself expected. Weirdly enough, she didn’t dislike it, quite the opposite. It was just so very surprising for her to be able to enjoy something so, as Pearl would say, preposterous.

But the thing is, Pearl seemed to really have enjoyed herself too. The songs on it were marvelous.

‘And that Columbia woman kind of looked like Pearl, so there is that…’

They both got close to another of those strange devices that her friend called ‘public utility poles'. Next to one of those poles was one that was covered with colorful papers, there was a couple of metal boxes. Lapis didn't waste any time by jumping and sitting over the said box, prompting Pearl to cross her arms.

"You have north, south, east and west filled with benches to sit and of all places, you chose to sit on a post office box under this utility pole." Pearl laughed, the sound similar to a song to the Blue Gem, who batted her eyes shyly, playing coy. "You really are like that Eddie fellow from that show we just watched. So rebellious."

Lapis smirked. “If I am like Eddie, then you’re like Columbia. You both look so beautiful and have a wonderful voice, not to mention, she kind of moves like you.”

Pearl made a playful gasping sound and covered her mouth with the tips of her fingers. “Oh my, aren’t you a charmer? Such things you say…”

Then she inclined her head towards Lapis, her facade turning different, a smile that made her eyes glint. “And I like them very much. Please never change.”

Now it was Lapis turn to be playful, giving the pink-haired Gem another coy look. “All right, Hot Patootie.”

The pale Gem blinked once, twice before her face flushed in a beautiful light blue color. “Hot Patootie? From the song?”

“Yes. Exactly! Since the day we met, I really am having a lot of fun and flying around with you, talking to you, joking around and hugging you is so nice. Everything that we do together makes me happy.” Lapis exclaimed, nodding to herself, before adding. “Just like the song. So you’re my very own Hot Patootie.”

Pearl was silent for a moment before she poked her friend's nose with the tip of her finger, giving her a smirk. "Well yes, but I'm not calling you Eddie if that's what you're expecting. Rather yet, I will call you something else."

Lapis curiosity perked. “Tell me what it will be, oh captain, my captain.”

"Something more like you" Pearl gave a soft tap on the top of the Blue Gem's hair, scratching her friend's scalp and locks just the way she liked it until she almost started purring. "I will call you my ‘Little Lappy', whenever it fits the opportunity."

‘Little Lappy? I don’t know if I am offended or delighted with it. I guess I will pick delighted, though, since its Pearl who made this up for me.’ She concluded.

“Ok Hot Patootie, I liked it.”

Pearl playfully hugged the Blue Gem with one arm. “I’m glad you did, Little Lappy.”

They stayed on this position, laughing for a few seconds before they heard someone loudly clearing their throat.

‘Blasted be those stupid humans. I will definitively kill them if they even dare to look at Pearl like that creep from before.’

Both Gems turned to the sound of the voice, clearly annoyed with the interruption, but as soon as they did, Pearl seemly lost her breath.

Standing before them was a tall, slight purplish-red Gem. She had a visor covering which Lapis assumed were her eyes. She looked familiar to the Blue Gem, and when she moved both of her hands, Lapis could see a pair of Gems on her palms.

‘It's her. The fusion. The one Pearl called ‘Garnet'. The Crystal Gem that can tap on the future, as that pink liar said on the moon base.’

Immediately, Lapis summoned her White Dagger from her Gem. She was about to unsheathe it and lash out against the fusion when she suddenly felt Pearl's hands holding her right arm. "Wait, Lapis. Let's try talking to her first."

The pink-haired Gem turned her attention to the newcomer, releasing her friend. “Greetings, Garnet. It has been some time.”

"Hello, Pearl, I missed you too." The fusion said while taking a moment to glare at Pearl's chosen attire. "Rose told us she had accidentally destroyed your form. I assume this is the new you?"

“No, it is not, I’ve just have chosen this so I would be able to hang out on this city with something else other than my new form.” Pearl placed one of her hands on her hips. “However, you aren’t here just to see how I look like at the moment.”

The fusion nodded. “You’re right. I came here so I could try to make sense of what has happened, what made you leave our company and isolate yourself on the moon with an unknow Homeworld Gem.”

Lapis growled, tightening her hold on her White Dagger. “I’m standing right here fusion, don’t act as if I’m not present.”

Garnet turned her head at Lapis, her expression unreadable. “Yes, I know you are, and I’m not attempting to separate you from this discussion, I just wanted to understand how this entire situation happened by hearing Pearl’s words, then I want to hear what you have to say about it.”

Lapis scoffed. “Why? Haven’t your chump of a leader already said ‘the truth’?”

Garnet pursued her lips, and even if her eyes were hidden by her glasses, Lapis could notice that her words annoyed her. “Rose said many things. Before I make my own judgment on them, I want to know what happened from your point of view, there isn’t any need for hostility.”

"As if you aren't already set on what you want to believe." The Blue Gem sneered. "It must really be so very convenient on your conscience though, you can go back and pretend that you gave a damn about what Pearl and I had to say, all the while you can distort and use everything to justify an attack on us."

The Blue Gem growled, adding. “How very clever of you.”

“You aren’t making my first impression of you any different from what Rose said you were.” Garnet flatly stated. “Now please, Pearl, answer me.”

Pearl crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. “Before I say anything to you, I first want to ask you to do something for me.”

"What is it, Pearl?" The fusion inquired. "if it is within my reach, I will try to do it.”

The pink-haired Gem nodded, and her expression turned completely neutral. “I want you to unfuse.”

There was a deafening silence. Only the sound of the vehicles around them could be heard.

‘Oh yes, take that!’

 "…Why?" Garnet asked uncomfortably. "This isn't necessary for our discussion."

Pearl sneered. “Actually, it is.”

The fusion seemed to be glaring at the pink-haired Gem. “I will not unfuse for you without a good reason, and you know it.”

“Oh well, what a pity.” Pearl dramatically shrugged her shoulders and turned her head to the Blue Gem. “Say Lapis, since this conversation is over, I think we can go now. Bye Garnet.”

They both walked away from the fusion, all the while, Lapis observed her friend whispering as silent as she could. “Ten, nine, eight, seven-”

“All right!” Both Gems stopped walking when they heard Garnet voice. The Blue Gem noticed a smirk briefly cross Pearl’s face before she returned to her cordial facade.

They both returned to the fusion side, with Pearl hiding both of her hands playfully behind her back, skipping all the way until she stopped right in front of her former comrade. “I’m so glad I could change your mind.”

The fusion answered Pearl with a grunt and suddenly, Garnet’s form glowed and disappeared, leaving two other separated Gems on her place.

A red Gem, with a fiery look on her eyes and a blue calm Gem.

‘They definitively were the ones that I saw five thousand years ago. They are truly unforgettable.’

“There!” Ruby said, clearly annoyed. “We unfused, now can you tell us what is so important that you needed us to do that?”

 “Sapphire… Ruby…” Pearl’s gave both of those short Gems another of her strange smiles. She curved her body a little towards them, and with that same smile still kept on her face, she answered them. “How does it feel to do something that you both really don’t want to do, something that you abhor just for the sake of another Gem personal needs? Isn’t miserable? Doesn’t it feel like a stab on your Gemstone?”

“YOU MADE US UNFUSE JUST SO YOU COULD PROVE A POINT?!” Ruby growled in fury.  She took a step forward, offering Pearl a scoff. “Rose was right! You’ve changed! The Pearl we knew would never sink so low as to ask anything like it from her friends!”

Then it was Lapis turn to sneer at Ruby’s words. “And that just shows what you know about her, thinking that Pearl would behave such horribly with you.”

The Blue Gem turned her head to Pearl, sarcastically saying. “This one is who makes the weakest part of Garnet, am I right Pearl?”

Immediately, the red Gem charged at Lapis, snarling. The Blue Gem expertly took flight and landed just behind the two Crystal Gems before her. “You missed. Better luck next time, footsoldier.”

“Stop this, Lapis!” Pearl flatly said. “I know you want to protect me, but you don’t need to be that insensitive to them.”

‘Wait, what?’

Lapis frowned but reluctantly conceded. “Fine, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you.” Pearl answered, turning her attention to Ruby, who, in her anger, had made the metal post box into nothing more than a puddle of thick molten metal. “Now, allow me to answer your argument.”

The pale Gem gesture to Sapphire e Ruby.

"Both of you are hurt by what I just asked of you, I gave you both an option and didn't technically forced any of you to abide by my wishes, but yet, you both felt like you had no other choice but comply with what I demanded of you, no matter the damage it might've caused on both of your hearts." Pearl's expression turned sorrowful. "I want you both to imagine doing this for almost every day of your life since the moment you were made by the Diamond Authority. Like, being forced to give up what you wanted because what the other Gems demanded of you, from forcefully threatening you, to making you get filled with guilt over something that isn't even your fault, to begin with."

“Isn’t that just sick?” Pearl added with such emptiness that Lapis herself felt her emotions dull with her statement. “Can you understand any of it?”

Ruby calmed down enough that she seemed disturbed by what Pearl said. Sapphire, however, still looked impassively.

Then again, it is a Sapphire. Everybody knows that Sapphires have a tight grip on their own emotions and hardly anything bothers them. Must be due to the future sight guiding their actions.'

“We see the point you tried to come across, Pearl, but why are you talking about this?” Sapphire said in a calm, controlled tone.

“This is the reason why I left the Crystal Gems and I no longer consider myself a member.” Pearl bluntly stated, her words made both of her former companion’s gasp perplexed with what she just declared. “I never wanted anything to do with this miserable planet. I never believed in it and I was just fighting for it because I had no choice on the matter.”

Sapphire moved the bangs out of her eye, so she could stare at Pearl. She trembled, still reeling from the shock of what she had just heard. “If that is true, then why have you done it?”

“As I said before, I was forced.” The pink-haired Gem said, bitterly whispering. “Rose was the one who made me do all of those things.”

Ruby sneered at the pale Gem. "Stop it, Pearl. You can't blame your decisions on Rose. You followed her because you wanted to, and you fought for her because you cared."

Pearl gave a loud, sad, empty-filled laugh. “Ah… If only you both could see what I’ve seen, heard what I heard and did what I was forced to do.”

“Pearl, please just admit it. The reason you left us was due to your usual temper tantrums over another of Rose’s temporary lovers.” Sapphire declared, gesturing to the pink-haired Gem’s direction. “I know you are upset about it, but Rose only do this once in a few decades, and they do die so very fast. She still loves you and won’t ever throw you away for any of them. Besides, Greg isn’t so bad when you take the time to know him, I’m sure your hate for him will subside as soon as you both reach a common ground.”

Pearl's eyebrows raised up, and she seemed shocked for a moment…

…Until she guffawed loudly, going as far as almost releasing tears from how much she was giggling over what was said. Lapis felt herself smile and giggle with her, due to the absurdity that what they both just heard.

‘It's so ridiculous that it had become really funny if we think about it'

Ruby and Sapphire eyed each other in confusion. “What is happening with her? What is so funny that she is laughing like that?”

“I don’t know Ruby…”

The pale Gem held Lapis arm for support, going as far as to nuzzle on her shoulder, trying to cease her laugher. She stared at Lapis. “Oh dear! They actually believe that I care if Rose is having sex with her pets or not! And To think that they presume that I hate Greg… It’s hilarious!”

“What a shame, isn’t it?” Lapis ruffled Pearl’s hair, while she smirked at the two Crystal Gems. “They really think you are that shallow, isn’t it? No wonder you left those guys, they really don’t have a clue of what is going on around them.”

“Hey! What do you both mean by that?” Ruby asked, apparently feeling even more confused than before. “Answer us!”

The two giggling Gems tried to reel their laughter. After some tries, when they managed to settle it down, Pearl placed both of her hands akimbo. "What I mean is that you both, as Garnet, should remove your Rose-colored glasses from your faces and start noticing how much of a hypocrite your leader is, instead of doing her bidding without questioning why. Until you both can figure this out by yourselves, anything that I say to you'll have a risk of being distorted or taken out of context."

Pearl smiled a first, real smile to her former companions on this entire conversation. “Rose can't stop the motion of the ocean or the sun in the sky, she can try to do it, but if she does, just a fair warning in advance: we will fight back.”

"That doesn't answer anything!" Ruby screamed in frustration. This only made Pearl shrug, she pivoted and grabbed Lapis hand, walking away from the two appalled Gems. "Come back here!"

Pearl tilted her head back, smiling. “All of this conversation made me feel so tired. I don’t think I want to keep talking to you both right now. Can’t we leave this all for later?”

“Wait!” Lapis felt someone grabbing the hem of her jacket. She turned and saw that Sapphire was the one doing it. “At least just answer me this: What are you planning to do with Pearl?”

‘Interesting. I expected that Ruby would be the one who would reach out to me like that.’

Lapis gently pulled her jacket away from Sapphire hands. She eyed the Gem firmly, trying to be as sincere as she could. "I plan to make both of us happy. Happy and safely away from anyone who wants to make us prisoners again."

Then, she turned around and crouched so she would be at the noble Gem’s height. “You can't stop the river as it rushes to the sea. You can try to stop the hands of time, but you just know it just can't be done... And if anyone does try to stop us, we will beat them up. It is inevitable. Everything is simple as that.”

Lapis stood up and actually gave Sapphire and Ruby a small, polite smile. "Please respect our privacy. We just want to be away from that chump's influence, and if push comes to shove, we will retaliate brutally."

With that, Lapis pivoted and hugged Pearl’s arm, both Gems walking away.

 

---

 

When both Gems disappeared at the distance, Ruby turned to Sapphire in panic. "Did you hear what they said? They are dangerous!"

To the red Gem’s surprise, her beloved shook her head negatively. “No, Ruby…”

Sapphire held Ruby’s cheeks and kissed her lips. “They’re in love, or at least they will be in their future.”

Both of their forms shined bright and melded into one, forming Garnet, their love being given a physical form. The fusion looked around and sighed tiredly, whispering to herself. "Oh boy… That kind of situation, I could not ever predict in five thousand years…"

The fusion walked away, deciding to go back to the Crystal Temple for a moment. She needed to think about she heard and try to pierce Pearl’s motivations, all the while attempting to think if Rose really had omitted some details of her story due to her own sorrow… Or benefit.

‘It is too complicated, even for my future vision.’

Garnet tried to concentrate into the possible futures. An eventual confrontation between the Crystal Gems with Lapis Lazuli and Pearl was inevitable at this point, however, she could see that this didn’t mean the results would be bad in the end.

‘Maybe, I’ve just saved our friendship on the long run by confronting both of them.’

When Garnet returned to the Crystal Temple, she sneaked into the Boiling room, then she sat on the lava pool inside of it and closed her eyes.

‘Love… I wonder if Pearl even notices any of it.'

 

---

 

Lapis walked off with Pearl for a long time. When they were sure that Ruby and Sapphire had understood their message, Lapis stopped. Pearl gave her a questioning look, and the Blue Gem motioned to a nearby bench for both of them to sit together.

As they both took their seats, Lapis asked. “Pearl, why haven’t you told them the truth about Rose Quartz? Why even bother to keep them on the dark?”

Pearl gaze upon the distance, seemly lost in her thoughts, until she gave Lapis an answer. “They wouldn’t believe in me. As much as they might empathize with my predicament on some level, Rose still is the Gem that made their existence legitimized, the one who told them to not be ashamed of what they made together, to love themselves as Garnet”

"Oh… I see…" Lapis whispered. "Their gratitude is something that makes them doubt anything that might contradict what Rose Quartz is supposed to be."

“Correct. However, there also another matter surrounding this particular issue…” Pearl turned her gaze to her friend, and Lapis could practically feel the resentment on it. “I could have just told them the truth, but if I did, I wouldn’t be able to see the look on their faces when they eventually find out the Gem they admired so much was nothing but a manipulative liar.”

The pink-haired Gem grinned, and for a moment, Pearl's teethes almost looked too sharp. "Then, after they gone through all of this pain, they will finally have a small idea of how much I suffered because of Rose Quartz. Only then, they will be able to understand."

 ‘She is completely right. They deserve to feel worthless after making Pearl so miserable. They deserve to have their hopes and dream shattered.’

“I get where you’re coming from, Pearl, and I will stand by you.” Lapis placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder. “I’ve got your back and if they don’t get it, then that’s their own problem. We’re a team.”

The pink-haired Gem seemed awed. She touched the hand that was holding her shoulder and brought it to her lips, kissing its knuckles. “Thank you, Lapis. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

"Don't you ever worry about it." Lapis let her hand that was in Pearl's grasp move until she was caressing her friend's cheek. "If those Star-fanatics challenge us in the future, we'll give them such a thrashing that they will need half a century to regenerate back to their forms."

"Star-fanatics…" Pearl said distractedly, while she purred under her friend's caresses. "If they use a star as their banner, then let us use something that opposes them, but not a Diamond since, you know…"

"Yeah, I get what you mean…" Lapis also trailed off. "So, what will our symbol be, C.O.L.D. captain? A shattered crystal?"

Pearl shook her head, smiling excitedly. “Close, but not quite!”

“Then what do you suggest?”

“If they use a star, then let us use a shattered one.” Pearl pointed to the buttons on her blazer, which looked just like the usual symbol on her form. “Like this one. A shattered star.”

The Blue Gem nodded, also becoming excited. “That’s awesome! From now on, my captain, oh captain, we will be known as the Shatter Stars.”

Pearl giggled, seemly pleased. “Yes. That’s a good name.”

‘It also will serve as a reminder that we aren’t joking around. If they try to harm us, they will die. Simple as that.’ Lapis somberly thought.

After some moments basking on their happiness, the pale Gem tapped Lapis shoulder. “I have an idea that you might like.”

“What is it, Hot Patootie?” The Blue Gem playfully said. “More musicals?”

“Very funny, little Lappy.” Pearl answered. “What I mean to suggest is: why don’t we go to a pawn shop so we can exchange some gold stones that I have in my Gem for a high quantity of money? That way we will be able to go into a shopping spree all around the city and we might get a lot of things for our moon base.”

Lapis raised an eyebrow. “I know humans like gold for some reason, but is it worth it anything?”

"It is. Currently, I have something like ten kilos of pure gold stored on my Gem. Since I don't have to keep it for Rose anymore, we can make use of it." Pearl stood up from the bench, helping her friend to also raise with her. "I believe that each kilo of gold is like forty thousand dollars, so we don't even need to use everything. Let's trade just one and we can buy practically everything we might want. What do you say?"

‘Amazing. I guess Pearls really are something else. I’m so glad that we’re friends, I don’t know what would I do without her help.’

“Let’s go!”

Pearl and Lapis held each other hands and walked off.

After sometime exchanging the gold piece, with a different set of humans analyzing and making all kind of suspicious questions to them regarding how and when they had obtained such a pure piece of metal, they finally were able to get their exchanged money.

Pearl explained a little about how their business exchanges worked, showing how the banknotes each had a different representation and how to properly use them. The Blue Gem eyed everything carefully, doing her best to learn what it was explained to her, even if made her feel a little bit dizzy.

‘Stupid anachronisms. Still makes my life feel so out of place.’

They had strolled all around the city, buying strange looking gadgets which rapidly took Pearl's attention, clothes, and even a huge bed. When the Blue Gem complained that they could just sleep on the water beds that she made, Pearl chastised her by saying that sleeping on it usually left her feeling very wet, so a human version was in order.

Lapis grumbled but resigned herself.

Then, as just as fate seems to be, Lapis practically demanded that they buy a Motorcycle. Pearl bristled against it, but also accepted it in the end. It was only fair.

They had bought everything that they could imagine, with Pearl feeling rather wobbly due to the increased effort of carrying everything on her Gem. Lapis could only store a few things on her own, but Gems like Pearls could practically have a huge number of items on their possession.

Still, the Blue Gem did her best to help her tired friend as they enjoyed their stroll.

“Well, we can call it a day, I guess.” Lapis declared. “Is there anything else that you might like to have?”

"Just one more thing." Pearl said while she pointed to a place filled with books. "This is a bookstore. I wanted to buy some and see if I can find some pens and notebooks to help you learn how to read and write. Would like that?"

‘Hm. It would be quite useful. I can’t rely on Pearl all the time. She might need my help with it someday and I won’t be able to do anything if I don’t know how the humans communicate through their writing.’ 

"Sure thing. I might even find something interesting to pique my interest in writing while we're there." The Blue Gem said, shrugging her shoulders.

They both entered the store, and Pearl walked through the place, looking for the aforementioned items. Lapis glanced around, trying to take some interest on the books displayed to them, without much success.

‘It all looks like someone just scrawled on their surface. Humans really are weird if they choose to communicate like that.’

She sighed and was about to turn away when she noticed another section of the store. With curiosity guiding her steps, she decided to explore it. When she looked around, she saw thick books with pretty drawings on them.

‘What is this?’

She opened one and tried to make sense of what she was seeing. She could not read it, but the characters were so well done, and she really liked how beautiful everything seemed to be. 

“Pretty Hairstylist? Who would have thought you would be a fan of Manga.”

Lapis jerked away from the voice, obviously startled by its sudden appearance, when she noticed who was talking to her. “Dammit Pearl, I almost lost my form right now.”

“Sorry for that, I have called your name but you did seem too much into it to notice me.” The pale Gem gestured to the book. “Why don’t you buy some of them? We can use them as an exercise for your writing and you would have fun while learning. What do you say?”

“Great idea, Pearl. Let me just grab some of them…” Lapis said while she started to pile some books over each other on her arms. Pearl giggled at her said, gently replacing some of them for others. “Uh? What have you done?”

"You were picking the same edition over and over, so I placed different numbers in order, that way you can follow the story the way it was meant to be learned." Pearl gestured to the cashier line. "Come with me, let us buy those manga of yours and get back home."

‘Home…’

To Lapis, everything still was too tender. Being locked up, having her Gem cracked, spending thousands of years waiting for someone to release her from her prison, then meeting Pearl, finding out the truth about the fabled Rose Quartz and her sham of a rebellion… Sometimes she just wished everything was like before, with everyone on their places and acting as they were supposed to act and being whom they were supposed to be.

But she just needed to look at Pearl's face, hold her hand and laugh with her and she just knew that she would not trade her new-found peace for anything that Homeworld might offer her.

Pearl’s companionship was her home. Being around her made the Blue Gem happy, and this was enough for now.

Lapis kissed Pearl’s cheek, prompting a blush from both of them. “Yeah, my captain. Let’s go home.”

And they returned for their little piece of heaven. Lighter and happier than when they left it.

 

---

 

Meanwhile, Rose Quartz concocted a plan. She couldn’t find Garnet on the Temple when she was looking for her, but now she noticed that the fusion had returned. She knew that her friend had gone looking around for Pearl, probably trying to talk to her, and resourceful as Garnet was, she probably found a way to contact her lost pearl.

Rose would feel betrayed over it if she didn’t already predict something like that happening.

Things were spiraling out of control very fast. Every day that Lapis Lazuli kept Pearl as a prisoner was a day closer to have everything that the Crystal Gems fought for being destroyed.

‘I will never allow it.’ The Diamond in disguise thought to herself. ‘I will save Pearl and then we will go back how things were supposed to be.’

It would take some time, but ultimately, her plan would work flawlessly.

She would get her beloved back, that Homeworld Gem would rue the day she dared to come out of her prison. No one would use and abuse of Pearl. She would never allow it.

With that belief, the lie that Rose Quartz told herself over and over in hopes to turn into truth, she prepared her plan. Soon, she would go to battle, and she promised herself that she would bubble that insolent Gem that dared to get between her and her one true love.

The lies we tell ourselves are as damaging as the ones we tell others. Rose Quartz would learn how painfully truth those words could become.

Chapter Text

 

“Whoosh! This was heavy…” Said Lapis as she placed the wooden table carefully under the White Diamond’s mural, right next to the Colossal Broadsword they found. “So now that we cleaned the mess caused by that pink liar and settled all of our new things on the base-”

“Which wasn’t easy on my Gem, let me tell you!” Pearl shouted from where she was crouching, close to Blue Gem’s new motorcycle she was finishing calibrating. “Also, now your new vehicle is properly tuned for a ride, just in case if ever want to try it on Earth, since we don’t exactly have a proper road for it.” 

“Nice! You’re amazing, Pearl!” Lapis said as she hugged her crouching friend. “However, I wanted to ask if you want to teach me how to read? I really want to learn so I can understand my books…”

‘Ah, its good to see her so eager. I really enjoy teaching, and I can finally help someone who truly is interested in it.’ Pearl thought with delight.

"Of course, my Supreme Leader. Let's go to our bed and I will bring the necessary learning materials for our first lesson!" The pink-haired Gem happily said. "Go to the P.O.I. room already, while I finish a few things."

The Blue Gem nodded and left the room.

"Now, let me see…" Pearl said as she opened the bookstore box. "I need the manga, the pens, the notebook, and the learning book… Here!"

The pale Gem picked the necessary materials and proceed to walk the stairs, already thinking ways of how she could didactically teach her friend.

When she arrived at the P.O.I. room, Lapis was already laying on their new bed, rolling around the sheets, jumping and apparently, testing their damping capacities.

‘How adorable. Lapis really is so playful.’

As endearing as it was to observe her friend’s curiosity, Pearl needed to keep her mind on what she promised to do. She cleared her throat, attracting Lapis attention. “Pearl, this bed is interesting. It really was a great idea to buy it.”

“And you thought I was exaggerating.” Pearl smugly said as she placed the materials close to Lapis, on the bed. “Now then, let’s begin the lesson.”

The pale Gem climbed on the bed and gave Lapis the notebook and a pen. "The humans use notebooks like this to write or draw. The pen is the tool they use for their writing, although there are some variants like pencils, mechanical pencils and what not, it all depends on what the person wants to do with them."

Lapis opened the notebook and felt the paper texture with the tip of her fingers. “Nice.”

"Well, you might have some trouble getting everything at first, but with some perseverance, we can get the basics done in no time." The pink-haired Gem said as she opened another book. "Books like this one, for example, is generally used by young human children when they are learning to read and write."

Pearl gave the book to her friend so she could see the cover. Lapis confusedly stared at it. “What is this thing? An Earth animal? It looks weird.”

The pale Gem projected the realistic projection of the animal from her Gem. “This is a simplified drawing of a species of feline, more known as a domestic cat, tailored to look ‘cute’ enough so young children might take more interest in learning.”

“It really doesn’t look like the cover at all.” The Blue Gem flatly said as she stared at the realistic projection from Pearl’s Gem. “Still, this one is cute, at least.”

“Indeed.” The pink-haired Gem said as she nodded. Then, she took the book and read its cover. “This book’s name is ‘AlphaFUNbet’, written by Beth Alpha. From what I could gather around the bookstore, she is supposed to be a famous writer of children’s educational books.”

The pale Gem approached her friend and opened it on the first lesson. "Let's get started."

 

---

 

After many hours, Lapis seemed to be finally able how to write her name and read simple sentences, even if she still had some trouble differentiating the letter ‘U’ from the letter ‘V’, but not much. The Blue Gem even dared herself to pick some mangas to try her hand at reading them, which apparently, she seemed to have been succeeded.

‘It fills me with pride to witness such a dedication.’

Pearl was currently reading one of her own books, the one called ‘The Big Book of Science', which was an in-depth compilation of experiments, articles and scientific works all related to different areas of scientific interest. The Astrophysics section was beyond amazing, and she truly enjoyed absorbing even more knowledge.

‘Nobody mocks me for being interested in those things anymore. I’m no longer called ‘nerd’, even if Lapis might not understand everything. At least, she wants to learn what she can so she isn’t dependent, a characteristic that I vastly admire.’

“Hey Pearl.” Lapis said to her, making the pale Gem close her book and set it beside her on the bed. She turned her head to her blue friend. “Thanks for teaching me. I’m sorry if I took too much of your time…”

“Nonsense!” Pearl answered as she smiled sweetly at her friend. “I enjoy teaching you. Also, you are the first being that isn’t annoyed with me for doing it.”

Lapis rolled her eyes, already feeling annoyed. “Let me guess, the Crystal Chumps didn’t appreciate any of it?”

Pearl hesitated for a moment before awkwardly nodding.

“Then they are nothing but a bunch of ungrateful lumps of rocks.” Lapis declared, as she ignored her manga and turned on her side on the bed, so she could look at her companion. “You are so much better off without them.”

Still smiling, Pearl whispered. “And I’m so much happier with you.”

Lapis cheeks flushed on their beautiful deep blue color. “Yeah. With me.”

They both giggled, the atmosphere light and playful. At that moment, there wasn’t anything wrong in their existence, their world comprising only by each other and their happiness.

“Do you want to take a nap?” Lapis asked while she tentatively touched her friend’s extended arm. “I mean, we had quite a day.”

“Hm…” Pearl pretended to be thinking, while she observed her friend bristle. “Ok, Little Lappy!”

 "On it, my Hot Patootie!" Lapis said as she immediately snuggled with the pale Gem, letting her legs intertwine with her friend's own and allowing her body to rest on top of Pearl. "Ah… This is so relaxing."

“I agree…” Pearl said as she hugged the Blue Gem’s body tightly against her own. “I suppose this is what humans call ‘Heaven’?”

“What is this?” Lapis said as she let her cheek rest between the pink-haired Gem’s breasts. “I did see this written in my manga, I think…”

Pearl let one of her hands caress her friend’s hair, combing through her locks expertly. “From what I know, it was initially related with a particular religion, but soon enough it became a synonym of a peaceful, happy place where someone could relax and not worry about anything. Just be themselves… Just be free…”

"Free?" Lapis said as she raised her torso from her friend's. She crawled and until they both could see each other eye to eye. "It sounds so wonderful…"

Pearl’s hand that was on Lapis hair slid down against her neck, making the Blue Gem shiver. “You are wonderful.”

“Look who is talking.” The Blue Gem said as she let one of her hands caress her friend’s cheek, which made the pink-haired Gem purr. “The kindest, gentlest and most loyal friend anyone could have.”

"Oh, you!" Pearl's hands grabbed the Blue Gem's neck and brought her friend's face very close to her on, only to kiss her on between her eyebrows. "For the record, I think the same thing from you, so you're not the only one."

They both giggled and set themselves into a comfortable position.

“Have a good nap, Pearl” Lapis whispered against her friend’s neck. “Sweet dreams…”

The pale Gem laughed. “For you as well, my friend.”

Both Gems let the strong pull of the slumber engulf them.

And this peaceful silence, Pearl had a dream.

 

---

 

She was in a dark place. A place she remembered. A place she wanted so badly to forget.

She was at Pink Diamond’s Palanquin. Most specifically, on that fateful day…

Pearl saw herself holding Rose Quartz Sword. She saw her ex-owner whispering, and she saw her uncertainty in her own eyes.

“There’s got to be another way!” Her own self exclaimed. “I mean, maybe-”

“Blue and Yellow don’t care. They never have.” Rose Quartz interrupted her servant. “This is Pink Diamond’s colony, we can end it all, right here, right now.”

Just like before, Rose Quartz didn’t care for the consequences. Like the Diamond that she was, she wanted only the results and everything else could all go to the dust.

Pearl herself could go to the dust. Her opinions never mattered.

So, when she saw herself subserviently look at her ex-owner with a resigned expression, she almost cried. “You know this is crazy, right?”

Rose nodded. Of course, she did.

What mattered to her the puny thoughts of a simple Pearl? What did it matter if she didn't consider the consequences of her actions and how every Gem's existence could potentially end because of it?

What mattered to anyone… As long she could take the easy way out and not take any responsibility ever again?

“Your status, my purpose, none of it will matter anymore.” Her past self tried to weakly argue. So weakly, so irrelevant in the end.

Is not like she had the power to contest anything. She was just… A pearl. One that wasn’t even wanted as she should. So easily replaceable if she acted on her wishes. Like the one before…

She silenced the thought. She couldn’t deal with it. She repressed it for a reason.

Rose Quartz nodded again. Not caring, not worrying. Let the pearl handle this. Let the pearl feel what she could not care less. Let the pearl cry until there wasn’t anything left on her.

“This will change everything.” Her past self said, already feeling the weight that she would be forced to carry hovering over her immaterial heart.

“I know!” Rose Quartz exclaimed, apparently feeling very excited at the prospect of her next actions. “Isn’t it exciting?!”

And then… Her weak, gullible self, who wanted nothing more than to please, serve and be loved by her owner, sighed and shyly smiled. “It is.”

Rose Quartz closed her eyes for a moment, opening with a look filled with determination. “We can leave our old lives behind. If this is really my world, I want to give it to the Crystal Gems.”

Her ex-owner voice increased in her excitement, already feeling the taste of things to come. The taste of her freedom and Pearl’s condemnation. “I want to live here with human beings, I want to live here with you! We’ll both finally be free!”

With lies like that, what could a weak, and very foolish slave like she was, do to stop it?

Her past self cheeks had flushed, like the idiot she was, dreaming of a mirage, dreaming of an illusion.

Dreaming of love that she would never have.

“Ok, I’m ready.” The fool said, playing on her ex-owner trap.

“Pearl!”

Then they hold hands.

So easily manipulated.

Her little, precious, toy soldier.

“I can’t believe I’m going to do this…” Her past self whispered in bewilderment.

Noticing her hesitation, Rose Quartz changed her gaze from her past self eyes to their hands, before returning it to her servant’s eyes yet again, just to give her the last straw to finally set her plan into motion. “I can’t exactly shatter myself.”

Then, they hugged and Pearl could practically taste the satisfaction of her ex-owner plan coming into fruition.

She just needed the perfect paw for her risky chess move.

Her little knight, her little piece, her little slave.

Her little victim.

Rose Quartz shapeshifted back into her Pink Diamond form, picked a pile of dirt and rocks from the ground. As the irony of her destiny would have it, a pink pale rose was among the residue. And just to add insult to a very purulent injury, her past self picked the rose from the dirt and placed it behind her ear.

Pink Diamond wasted no time in using her skills to pressure the rocks and dirt into an Earth's copy of a diamond similar to her own.

A mirage. An illusion. Just like she always was.

She showed her past self what she had concocted. “Convincing?”

“Very much so, my Diamond.” Her past self carefully said, feeling distressed from seeing the broken remains, as fake as they were.

Just like Rose’s love for her.

“Soon it will be just Rose.” Pink Diamond said before she devoured the shards.

Her past self was about to take Rose’s sword from its scabbard when Pink Diamond interrupted her. “Wait, there’s one last thing I need to do.”

“Yes?” Said the toy soldier.

“No one can ever find out we did this. I never want to look back. So, as my last order to you as a Diamond, let’s never speak of this again.” Pink Diamond said as she gave her an order that would consume and torment her for the next five thousand years, making her cover her mouth. “No one can know.”

Then, as if she hadn’t destroyed her servant’s life by giving her an unbearable weight to carry in silence, she smiled and left the Palanquin.

Pearl felt tears drop, as her past self assumed Rose Quartz’s form and proceed to carry her orders.

She wanted to attack someone desperately.

As she saw her disguised past self approach Pink Diamond, she decided to do something.

And she did.

Before the fake Rose Quartz could even approach Pink Diamond, she summoned her Black Dagger. Without any warning, without any regret or mercy, she made a sneak attack on the unsuspecting Diamond.

She screamed.

Pearl loved it.

She kept stabbing her Gem over and over, all the while she was shouting things like “Die your sick monster! I will destroy everything that you polluted with your presence!”

There was an eerie silence on the area. Not a single Gem made a sound.

As Pearl felt her body raise from the remains of her ex-owner, she saw that everything looked frozen over, no one seemed to be able to even move or think.

Except for her past self, the one who looked like Rose Quartz.

“Once, you had a best friend that now is a stranger.” She heard her past self say on the desolated land. “She became a monster, and in your eyes, her mirage was dissipated.”

The illusion of her past gestured to the remains of Pink Diamond. “You’re like a queen, and a queen can always turn her pain into raw power.”

Pearl said nothing.

“But this power comes with a price. A dangerous one.” With a snap of her fingers, the area changed. She now was standing on the Crystal Temple, over the remains of the Rose Quartz.

She felt a rush of satisfaction.

"This pleases you, but you soon will realize just how much consequences a simple action can have, and how your choices guided by your lust for revenge can cause so much misery around you." Then suddenly, next to Rose's remains lay her ex-companions shards.

Garnet. Amethyst.

Her friends. Shattered.

Pearl glared at the remains and then at her own hands. Shards were covering them.

She gasped and tried as she could to get rid of their implications, of the dread that she knew to be the truth.

“I-I Killed them?” She heard herself ask, her voice weak and trembling, tears falling down from her eyes. “No, that’s impossible, I would never…”

“Are you so sure?” Pearl heard another voice behind her.

Lapis.

The Blue Gem stepped over Rose Quartz’s remains, as she walked to her friend. “They are going to stand against you. They are going to call you a liar, or a fool. They aren’t going to understand.”

She felt the weight of her friend’s words. It was truthful, but then, she remembered.

“Sapphire asked you what you intended to do to me…”

Her friend stood in silence.

“…And you said that you wanted to make both of us happy.” Pearl gazed at her friends’ eyes. “They understand us. Sapphire and Ruby understand that we don’t want to harm them. Yes, I want Rose Quartz dead, but they had come after me, and they took the time to try to understand my feelings, so I won’t let my fear control me and ruin the chance to make peace with Garnet and Amethyst… Even if they deserve the pain that is coming to them.”

The ambiance seemed to change. Suddenly, she was standing on the moon base, with the mirage of her friend.

“…What about me?” Lapis asked, her voice weak and sorrowful. “Are they more important than me?”

She dropped her Dagger and run to the Blue Gem. She hugged her as strongly as she could, staring at her eyes. "No, they aren't. You healed my heart in a way that I could not even dream of, even if there are things that not even our friendship can fix, and none of this is our fault, but I know we can deal with them together."

“So, you are going to battle them with me?” Lapis asked shyly. “Not back down for their sake?”

Pearl nodded. "Without any hesitation. I promised to myself that I would remember what Rose Quartz had done to me, I would remember and make her pay, never to forget how someone who pretended to be so many things could actually be a monster. I won't forgive, I won't forget, I won't let this go just because Garnet and Amethyst are important to me."

“And if they hate you?” Lapis questioned. “What if they decided to not let you go?”

Pearl smiled a sharp grin, determined, brave. “Then they better get ready, because its no longer a matter of who is going to let me, but rather, who is going to stop me?”

Lapis smiled brightly. She kissed Pearl cheek. “I adore you. You’re my heroine.”

The warm filled her entire heart. “I adore you too…”

She then, felt her body stir, the sleep giving in to awareness.

As the pale Gem opened her eyes, she noticed that her friend’s legs got even more intertwined with her own. In fact, it was almost impossible to discern where she began and where she ended.

Also, it made pretty hard to even move too much without waking the Blue Gem up.

“You are my heroine.” She said to her drooling, snoring friend. “My Lapis… You’re wonderful.”

Pearl never felt so much in peace than this moment, even if in the future she would experience a deeper connection with her precious friend. Right now, she didn’t care for any guilt she might be carrying regarding battling her ex-companions.

She needed to put herself first. Her friends were being used, but she wasn’t responsible for this. She could only try to fix herself.

‘They choose to be blind. They deserve what is coming to them.' The pink-haired Gem thought as she remembered her dream. ‘I won't let fear rule my actions. I will fight them, I will win, and I will make my point across. I won't let my hate for my ex-Diamond destroy them.'

Pearl closed her eyes again; a weight she didn't know she was carrying being lifted from her conscience.

‘Thank you, dream.’

 

---

 

Meanwhile, on Earth, Rose Quartz checked her cannons placement and durability. Soon enough she would have everything to make her attack.

That Lapis Lazuli will be out of that moon base. She would make that damnable thief pay for taking her beloved as a hostage.

As she was verifying everything for the third time, she heard someone clearing their throat.

Greg. Obviously.

“Hey Rose, Uh…” He awkwardly started talking, sheepishly scratching his head. “Nice day we’re having, uh…”

“Greg, my darling, I’m busy right now.” The tall Gem said as she looked on her telescope. “I will play with you next week, Ok?”

The man recoiled, feeling hurt by the Gem’s condescending words. “Rose, you can’t keep doing this to me every single time something isn’t going according to your plans.”

"Uh?" The tall Gem stopped what she was doing so she could turn her attention to the long-haired man. "I'm sorry, it's just that I am so very worried about Pearl safety that I cannot think about anything else. Please bear with me for a little while?"

“Rose, have you considered the possibility that Pearl wants to stay away?” The human tentatively said. At his words, the tall Gem glared at him, apparently baffled. “Just hear me out, please?”

The tall Gem stayed in silence. She gave Greg a nod, to signify that she was listening.

"I know Pearl never really liked to be around me…" He said downtrodden. "I never wanted to make her feel like I was ruining her relationship with you, so maybe she has run away so you could be just with me, or something like that as if it was something that any of us would have wanted."

Rose eyebrows arched. “Are you implying-”

“Yes, I am!” Greg eyes glistened, drenched with tears that would not fall. “She came first in your life. Hell, there is no way that I, as a human, can possibly understand everything that both of you faced since that war that you all fought on.”

He closed his eyes, the tears finally falling.

“What I mean to say is that I don’t want to stand on the way of your love for each other. Pearl clearly never was comfortable with sharing you with anyone, even if you are. So, if I’m out of the picture, she might feel less threatened and alone, and might go back to you.”

Rose dropped her gaze to the beach’s sand. She saw the logic in Greg’s argument, she knew his plan would probably work, but she still hesitated. He was, after all, an impressive person, the first one who made her think about things…

…But if she had to make a choice, in those circumstances, she would always pick Pearl, the one who shared so many things in their past. She couldn’t even deny it.

“You are right…” Rose walked until she reached the human. “So, this is goodbye, Mr. Universe?”

Greg sniffled, trying to compose himself but failing. “I think so…”

They stood awkwardly, not one of them knew what to say.

“I’m sorry…” The tall Gem started. “I wish there was another way to solve things…”

"I-I know, it isn't your fault." He laughed, but his laugh carried so much pain that made both of them flinch. "W-We can't help whom we fall in love with…"

He took a deep breath and waved at the tall Gem. "So, goodbye, Rose…"

“Goodbye, Greg…” Rose whispered, letting the cold evening wind carry her voice.

The human walked away and Rose was consumed by a feeling of sorrow. She cried.

‘I will make your sacrifice count, Greg, I swear to you.' She thought. ‘I will bring Pearl back, and I will rekindle our love. For you, for me, and for her.'

And for the many secrets between each of them.

 

---

 

‘It hurts so much…’

Greg thought as he tried his best to not run back to the Crystal Temple. He was doing what it was right.

‘I never wanted to ruin their relationship…’

He thought as he left the beach and was aimlessly walking on the asphalt.

‘I just wanted to be loved. I just wanted to have Rose loving me…’

He hugged himself, feeling so much pain that he would do anything to make it go away.

‘I wished Pearl was my friend. I wanted her to love me as one.’

Greg fell on his knees, hitting a particular street sidewalk.

‘I wish I could do something, be anything… Anything rather than…’

Me.

He squirmed, falling on the cold ground, hugging his knees so much that he was feeling the strain of muscles, the reminder that they were in pain, but it came as a relief. Nothing was hurting as much as his heart, anything else was sweet relief from what was crushing his emotions.

‘Why can’t I do anything for them? I’m so useless. No wonder Pearl hates me. I’m just a nobody.’

Greg felt the weight of those depressing thoughts crushing him. The sneer of his parents, of his family that acted as anything but one, of Marty, of the people who passed by the street.

‘I wish I was dead. Then maybe I could stop being a huge disappointment to everyone in my life.’

On the back of Greg’s tormented mind, he was mildly aware of footsteps behind him.

“Greg…?”

‘I can’t open my eyes, it hurts too much.’

He only hugged himself even further, as if it would protect his heart from being further crushed. The long-haired man only could process agony in his mind.

Then he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. "C'mon, Greg, let's get you out of the street…'

Greg made the effort to open his eyes. The person before him was none other than his friend Vidalia. She looked extremely worried.

He took her hand.

She brought him to her house. Without asking any question, she fixed him a simple meal, brought him to the sofa and turned the tv, changing the channel until it arrived on a very dear sitcom.

“Ah…” He felt his facial muscles relax a little at the sigh. “Little Butler… You want to see it with me?”

Vidalia hugged him. “What kind of friend would I be if I wasn’t here for you?”

They both watched TV for hours, going from one sitcom to another, and when it became too late for Vidalia and the baby on her belly, she bid Greg a goodnight and said he could stay in her house until he felt better. She had provided him with a pillow and a duvet, which was far more than he could expect.

At that moment, Greg felt just a little better, just a little happier.

‘Maybe Pearl would care. Maybe someone would.’

 

---

 

A few days later, Rose Quartz called her fellow Crystal Gems into her room.

“Hi everyone!” Her mood had vastly improved since she started executing her plan’s preparations, and now, with everything almost ready, she just needed to do a few things, which also included talking with Garnet and Amethyst about it, to make sure they were on the same page.

"Hey, Rose!" Amethyst said, apparently feeling happy. "So, you're finally feeling better?"

“Not 100%, but we’re getting there!” The tall Gem said as she straightened her back. “Anyways, I called you both so we could discuss a little of battle strategy.”

“You intend to challenge Lapis Lazuli and Pearl?” Garnet spoke, her voice weary. “Is this wise, Rose?”

For a moment, the tall Gem felt offended by the fusion’s statement, however, she took a deep breath, calming herself. “Garnet, Pearl isn’t in her own mind, she is probably being moved by resentment over Greg and everything.”

“She is pretty resentful, all right...” The fusion muttered. She shook her head. “Listen, I had the opportunity to meet with them and they didn’t seem interested in anything but being left alone.”

Rose frowned. This was troubling.

“Garnet, Lapis Lazuli’s are filled with subterfuge and even a thirst for power. You know this.”  Rose gesticulated, nervous over the apparent reluctance of her friend in complying with her suggestion. “I highly doubt she is as altruistic as she claims. She probably has an agenda of her own”

The fusion crossed her arms. “Rose, I think you might be exaggerating. Lapis seemed blunt, and direct to the point, but she clearly had no ill intentions towards Pearl, this I can tell you with 100% certainty.”

Rose gritted her teethes. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. A new strategy was necessary to make her friend turn to her point of view.

“You probably know by now, but she probably was part of Blue Diamond’s entourage, back when Sapphire and Ruby fused with each other.” The tall Gem started talking, immediately picking the fusion’s attention.

Perfect. Now, she needed only to go for the kill.

“When you both fused, many of them, including all the Lapis Lazuli’s present, demanded that your Gem’s to be shattered by the crime of loving each other.” Rose rested her hand on Garnet’s shoulder. “If she did something like that, what kind of things she might be planning to do against Pearl once she starts to question her orders or logic? Do you honestly think she wouldn’t try to shatter or at least psychologically torture her until she does her bidding?”

Garnet grunted, both of her fists closing, clearly reining her anger.

“Someone like Lapis would never understand a manifestation of love like you are.” Rose gently smiled at her friend. “When you met her, was she rude to you?”

“…Yes.” The fusion reluctantly said. “She mocked, and taunted us…”

“See?” Rose gesticulated wildly. “She is too much of a wild card for us to simply let her be.”

The fusion grunted, apparently seeing the point in her leader’s argument. “And what do you suggest us do? We cannot exactly go around galivanting to the moon.”

“Well duh!” Amethyst exclaimed, playfully punching Garnet leg. “Rose probably have a plan, right?”

Their leader nodded excitedly. “I do have a plan. So, are you ready to jump in on it?”

Amethyst nodded excitedly. Garnet hesitated, but she ended up nodding.

Rose Quartz felt delighted.

Lapis Lazuli would pay for getting on her way.

So, the details of her plan were exchanged, and everything was set in motion.

The confrontation would happen soon.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“Interesting.” Garnet said as she observed the empty car wash. “I’m glad you have found a way to secure your income, Greg.”

“Ah, well, humans need to eat, you know…” Greg said as he scratched his hair. “Amethyst also thought this was a nice place to work, even if she did end up eating all the soap and I had to buy more.”

The fusion gave the man a smile. She felt happy that he seemed to be doing something good for himself for a change.

‘Just like Pearl, he thinks so little of himself, at least, the old Pearl used to do this…’

And both were terribly hurt by the same person.

Things would go invariably wrong, but then again, she could try to make amends in her own way.

“Greg…” Garnet tentatively said, interrupting her friend while he was inspecting the carwash brushes. “I have a favor to ask you.”

“Huh?” The long-haired man turned his attention to his friend. “Whatever it is, I will do my best to help you guys.”

The fusion nodded, then she placed a hand on her friend's sweat-drenched shoulder. "I want you to promise me that no matter what happened or the circumstances, you won't leave this carwash for today. Please."

"Well, I don't have anywhere else to go, except my van…" Greg said as he eyed the floor. "And believe me, that isn't a place that I'm looking forward to returning to after…"

“I know Greg. I know….” Garnet sorrowful said and she hugged the human. “I’m here for you, my friend. Don’t forget this.”

"Geez… Thanks, Garnet."

‘Now… We just need to wait and have faith that things will work out well for everyone.’

 

---

 

Lapis expertly cut the cloth over the table. She frowned for a moment before she cut it again on an angle, eventually smiling when she noticed how perfect it seemed.

“Excellent work, Supreme Leader!” Pearl said over the Blue Gem’s shoulder. “You do have a talent for this.”

“You think so?” Lapis timidly asked. She picked the cloth she had cut and folded it. “I mean, I only started this fashion thing for few days since we bought all our stuff, but I still need to improve.”

The pink-haired Gem nodded and raised a finger, she pointed to the cut pieces on the table. "Indeed, however, please remember that you showed a remarkable growth since you started, and even if you aren't on the level you intended, the last outfits that you made are quite functional."

“Yeah, ‘functional’, but not awesome.” Lapis muttered as she side eyed the mannequin wearing an outfit she had created. Too flawed, too simple, not worthy of her time. “I want to make something exquisite. Like those ballet outfits, like…”

“Like the Nutcracker performance?” Pearl curiously asked, receiving a tiny nod from her companion. “Oh Lapis, you’re using the wrong kind of fabric! Try using spandex or lycra, although this one might make you sweat a little, so you might want to take this into consideration."

“…What?” Lapis eye twitched. “So, all this time I was using the wrong… UGH!”

The Blue Gem groaned and threw the clothes away in a fit. "I can't believe it. Dammit."

“Hey Little Lappy, you don’t need to be upset.” Pearl gently said as she hugged her friend. “We can go back to Earth later so we can buy the right fabric for your work.”

Lapis grunted but calmed down as soon as she felt Pearl’s arms circling her body. “Fine…”

They stood like that for almost minute, with neither of them wanting to move away…

…Until the entire structure started to shake.

“What is happening?!” Lapis shouted and she immediately took flight with Pearl on her arms. “Are we under attack?”

“That’s impossible, we’re on the moon, there’s isn’t a way for anyone…” Pearl trailed off, her expression turning sour. “Oh dear… She did it.”

“Who did what?”

Pearl hold Lapis face on the palms of her hands and tried to explain. "Rose Quartz has a quartet of cannons that could reach the moon is they all fired a single, potent charge, she is probably using them to draw us out!"

"That scum piece of Gem thrash!" Lapis cursed as she flew down to the first floor. "Listen, Pearl, we can't just take their attack without any retaliation. We warned them, and apparently, they want to fight us."

Pearl nodded. Frowning and sighing in frustration. “You’re right. Let’s show them that we aren’t to be trifled with.”

“Good!” Lapis said as she flew to a huge line of chest boxes that they had bought for the variety of items they’d recovered from the Strawberry Battlefield. “Let’s get a few things to use against them! They’ll never see it coming!”

The pale Gem nodded, leaving her friend’s arms and starting to select a few items that would help against her ex-companions.

‘They will pay for this.’

 

 

---

 

They saw the Crystal Gems at a distance, as they approached their chosen base of operations.

‘Let’s see… The Garnet, the Pink Liar, and… A defective runt?’ Lapis thought as she floated in place with her friend on her arms, keeping a steady distance from her enemies. ‘Now’s that ridiculous.’

"Pearl!" Rose Quartz shouted as she stepped back from the canon quartet. "What is the meaning of this! Why do you look like that? Why is that Gem being so-"

“Oh, get over yourself, Rose!” Pearl sneered as Lapis gently let her down on the sand. “I chose this form for myself and I don’t care if you don’t like it.”

The Blue Gem snickered. “You tell them, Pearl!”

“Woah, P! Never would’ve thought you had it in you, nice!” The purple Gem remarked, receiving a frown from everyone present. “Ah! Don’t mind me!”

“This is all your fault!” Rose exclaimed, pointing her sword at the now scoffing Blue Gem in front of her. “You turned her against me!”

Lapis rolled her eyes, sneering. “You did it by yourself, your little manipulative sick freak.”

At this answer, Rose Quartz gritted her teethes, her face contorting in a very aggressive expression. “I will say this one more time: give me Pearl back and no harm will come to you!”

"I'm not an object to be ‘given back' to anyone, Rose!" The Pale Gem snarled, which in turn made her ex-companions instinctively recoil due to the force of her words. "And you can save your propositions to those whom you manipulate, we aren't here for anything like that!"

Pearl summoned her Black Dagger from her Gem, prompting a gasp from her ex-companions. The pale Gem eyes shone with unrestrained hate. "We are the Shatter Stars and we are here to make you pay for everything you did!"

“Shatter… Stars…?” Rose Quartz whispered, scandalized by the very notion of what this name implied. “Don’t be foolish! Your home is here with me, not with this Gem! She will never love you as I do!”

“Ugh, now you’re being delusional and hysterical.” Pearl said as took a menacing step forward. “Lapis and I are friends, something that you never were!”

“P, listen to us...” Amethyst said as she tried to reach out to her ex-companion. “You are confused, this blue smurf is using you!”

‘…What is a smurf? Ah, who cares. The runt will have to go after this indignity.’

Lapis took flight and as fast as she did it, she brought her right hand down at the purple Gem’s direction, making the sea water behind her do the same at the time.

“HEY! WATCH IT!” Amethyst screamed, jumping away from the attack, startled at the action. “Dammit!”

And then, all hell broke loose.

‘Those idiots really could at least take into consideration the fact that I control water before they decided to challenge us in an area full of them. Talk about being stupid.’ The Blue Gem thought as she made more and more attacks against the Amethyst before her.

The Amethyst rolled around the sand at a high speed and attempted to hit her as she was flying, only being met by failure as the Gem came in contact with a thick cold wall of ice.

“That’s so not fair!”

“Guess what, runt, life isn’t really that fair.” The Blue Gem sneered as she made water clones of the Crystal Gems and send them against her enemy. “You bore me, have fun being torn into pieces by your own copy.”

As the copies started to attack the Crystal Gems, Lapis turned her attention to Pearl.

‘Blast it!’

Pearl wasn’t doing that good. She just barely avoided a rocket punch from the fusion and was doing her best to not be flanked by Rose Quartz and Garnet, without much success.

“Pearl, stop this nonsense or I will be forced to make you stop!” Rose Quartz exclaimed as she jumped fast towards the pale Gem.

“I rather die than be around you!” Pearl screamed as she expectedly stabbed her ex-owner on the arm, disestablishing the form of Rose’s arms for a moment, allowing her to drop her sword.

“Pearl, watch out!” Lapis shouted as she flew down at high speed to block an incoming attack from Garnet. “You will have to go through me, fusion!”

The Garnet stayed quiet. No remarks, no battle shouts.

‘Is as if she already-’

"Lapis!" Pearl's voice broke through Lapis mind as she parried a shield thrown on the Blue Gem's direction, making it bounce back to Rose's hand. "Please be careful!"

“All right, my captain!” The Blue Gem playfully answered, making Pearl snicker, which in turn, made Rose growl at their display. “Oh look! That pink disgrace over there seems to be so annoyed.”

“Yes, she does, Supreme Leader.” Pearl said as she avoided a shield bash. “But if she is annoyed at this, imagine when we showed her our little gift!"

At this, Rose jumped back, trying to increase her distance from both Gems. “What do you both mean by that?!”

The Shatter Stars laughed out loud.

“Garnet! Do something!” Rose said as she turned to her friend’s direction, only to be met with the discouraging sight of her friend battling five different copies of herself. “Are you serious?!”

“Apparently!” The fusion answered back as she was heavily hit by a headbutt.

"Hey, Rose!" Pearl shouted. "You should worry about yourself!"

As Rose Quartz diverted back her attention to the Shatter Stars, she only had time to pick her fallen sword from the sand before she was sucker punched by a gigantic water fist, flying all over the beach and arriving on the cold asphalt of the city.

“Good job, Lapis!” Pearl said as she briefly hugged her friend; “I will go meet that liar with our little gift while you take care of everything here.”

The Blue Gem playfully winked at her. “Sure thing, I’ll take care of the rabble for you.”

“Just don’t shatter them, ok?” Pearl said exasperatedly. “Meet me there when you’re done playing with them.”

Lapis gave her friend a thumbs up, which Pearl took as a sign to run to Rose’s Quartz fallen location.

‘I don’t need to worry. Pearl is an awesome warrior and she can beat up that defective Diamond on her own… Especially with the little present we found on that Strawberry Battlefield…’

The Blue Gem turned back her attention to the two remaining Crystal Gems before her.

"I have to handle it to you, fusion, I didn't expect you to be able to stand to fight my water creations for that long." Lapis flicked her wrist and the sea spawned ten more Crystal Gems copies. "Then again, I also didn't expect you to be so dumb as to threaten and fight us after that talk we had."

The fusion did her best to avoid the attacks of the many copies before her, but as fast as Garnet was, she still received some blows. “I had no choice. You’re too unpredictable, and there’s no guarantee that you will respect Pearl.”

“You’re one to talk, like, are any of you even respecting Pearl’s wishes?” Lapis scoffed. Then, she lazily flew on her back, talking without a care on the world. “Or did Rose Quartz tell you her own version of the facts?”

“Hey, blue smurf!” Lapis turned her head to the purple Gem direction. “Don’t you dare to forget about me!”

Lapis snorted. "Oh, right. The runt, I completely forgot how you were even part of this."

“WHAT!”

‘Ugh! So annoying!’

“Listen, I’d love to chat with you, but I think it would go all over your head.” Lapis made a gesture and from the sea, a colossal copy of her hands appeared. She gestured at the purple Gem, making a grabbing motion, which in turn, made the water hands do the same. “Now, why don’t you retreat into your Gem while I have a talk with your more intelligent Gem companion?”

“Hey! I resent that-” Amethyst tried to say as she was promptly squished by the water, losing her form and leaving just her Gem.

“AMETHYST!” Garnet screamed as she attempted to run to her friend, only to be blocked by more water copies. “Don’t you dare to hurt her!”

The Blue Gem flew down to the sand and picked the fallen Gem still covered in water.

‘Just by simply looking, one wouldn’t be able to tell her apart from other, normal Amethysts, but then again, I’m not a Kindergarten expert, so I wouldn’t be able to know.’

“Listen, fusion.” Lapis said as she bubbled the Gem on her hands. “I’m not going to ‘hurt’ your friend as long as Pearl didn’t want me to.”

“Wait, then-” Garnet was interrupted by a heavy uppercut, which made her fly up on the sky and fall, deeply piercing the sand, making a hole.

‘Hm… Maybe I can just, hold her into place. Yeah, far less troublesome’

Lapis gestured to the deep hole on the sand and a huge water hand grabbed the squirming form of Garnet from it.

"Now, Garnet, or whatever you are called, fighting you simply bores me, I would be far more interested in fighting the Pink liar over…" The Blue Gem looked around, not really knowing where Rose Quartz had fallen off. "Whatever. However, I want to make some things clear to you."

The hand around Garnet clenched, tightening its hold on the fusion. “I’m not going to hurt Pearl, use her, manipulate her, or whatever lies your sham of a leader made up to justify her actions.”

Garnet grunted in pain but still was capable of talking. "What you mean by that?"

“Oh please, you aren’t dense as this defective Amethyst.” Lapis sneered, showing the bubbled Gem in her hands. “You know perfectly well how much of an abusive prick Rose Quartz is, or at least have the decency to know that by now, Pearl doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her.”

Lapis walked closer to the struggling Gem. “Not to mention, Rose Quartz doesn’t respect Pearl feelings and is trying to force her to come back by using her usual underhanded tactics, tactics that you are supporting!”

The Blue Gem took Garnet’s visor and come to face the three eyes of the fusion, all of which seemed full of emotions.

“How’s that for a reality check for you?” Lapis sneered again, throwing the visor away on the sand. “Who is truly being an awful friend? Who is obviously enabling an abuser to keep harming its victim?”

Garnet closed her three eyes and let her head fall, shame all over her. “…You’re right. I’m sorry... We just wanted to help and have things to go back as it used to be-”

"Well, they can't." Lapis snarled, interrupting the fusion's words. "Do you even understand how damaging Rose Quartz was to Pearl's mind? To her self-esteem? How much she used her for anything from petty squabbles to grand schemes? How much she made her want to die every single day for the last five thousand years?"

“What? Pearl wanted to die?” Garnet’s eyes started to tear up. “But why she-”

“Oh for all the celestial bodies in the sky! Are you just as moronic as the runt?” Lapis groaned, already feeling annoyed and even more bothered by talking. “Let me spell it to you: She didn’t trust any of you to take her seriously and not see her as being dramatic or crazy, like you guys always made her feel, no matter how much she wanted to be loved and respected by you!”

The fusion started to hyperventilate, taking heavy breaths, already beginning to panic.

‘Typical. Hypocrite.’

“But we all love her! We just never…” Garnet trailed off as she lowered her head. She stayed in silence for a moment. “No, there is no excuse. We were terrible to her, at least when it comes to really respect her…”

The form of Garnet gave in to a bright light and on the gigantic water hand wasn’t just one being been held, but two.

‘The shock must have been enough as to provoke the end of their fusion. Emotional instability? Is that what it was?’

“I’m… I’m sorry!” The Ruby wailed. “She-She was our friend and w-we never noticed!”

“I should’ve known…” The Sapphire meekly said as her sole eye also cried. “How could I not have foreseen this…?”

“As much as your crying might have meant something, it isn’t going to fix anything by itself.” Lapis flatly said, crossing her arms. “However, if you are truly sorry, then keep in mind that Pearl no longer wants to be around you and don’t think herself as a Crystal Gem. Me and her, we are the Shatter Stars, the ones who will shatter the lies that Rose Quartz made.”

“I still don’t get it! What lies?” Ruby asked. “We can’t do anything without knowing what you’re talking about!

“It’s not that hard to figure out, considering everything…” Lapis trailed off. “Still, I promised Pearl that I would let you, Crystal Gems find out by your own devices, and when you all do, we will be able to have a decent conversation about it.”

“Why not simply tell us?” Sapphire asked. “Why don’t you believe in us?”

At that, Lapis snorted. “Why haven’t you all believe in Pearl when she tried to talk about anything? The same courtesy you extended to her shall be extended to you, so no. You don’t get to choose anything.”

Lapis stepped away from the two Gems, side-looking them. “Now, if you two don’t mind me, I have to watch my beloved best friend give her abuser the beating she deserves.”

With that, Lapis made a clenching motion, which in turn, made the gigantic water hand around the two Gems do the same, destroying their forms and making them retreat into their own Gems.

The Blue Gem picked them up and carefully bubbled them as well, now carrying three bubbled Gems.

‘Well, it was at least more satisfactory than I expected, since the fusion wasn’t that bad to talk to.’

“Now, I have to find Pearl and see if everything are going as we planned.”

Lapis let her water wings sprout from her back and with it, she took flight, holding the bubbled Gems with care in her arms, not going too fast or too slow for her own liking.

‘Now, Pink Diamond, let’s see your Pearl shattering you for real.’

 

Ah, the irony.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

‘I don’t need to worry, Lapis won’t use too much strength against Garnet and Amethyst. She knows I care about them.’ Pearl thought as she left the beach and followed the trajectory that Rose Quartz was launched. ‘Now, where is that abusive ex-owner of mine when I need her?’

She wanted to shatter her really bad, worse than what she did on her dream.

‘What a fond memory it was.’

As she strutted around Beach City's boardwalk, Pearl politely knocked on the glass of a store. "Excuse me, sir, would you mind telling me if you saw a flying humanoid figure wearing a dress crossing over your fine establishment? I have a personal matter to settle with them."

The man in question was cowering on the corner, trembling from head to toe, holding an old woman in his arms. “Please don’t come any closer!”

“There’s no need for panic.” Pearl said as she leaned over the buyer’s stand, still holding her very threatening Black Dagger. “I just need to know if you happened to see this flying, uh, let’s say, woman?”

"I-I think she f-fallen down around the car wash, to the northwest!" The old woman said, far braver than the man. "Just… Go away, please…"

The pale Gem nodded. “Thank you for your cooperation, human!”

With that, Pearl left the scared people to their own devices, as she noticed how everyone was still panicking around her.

‘Hm… I don’t think they would listen to me any better than those humans from before. Oh well, at least I have a direction to look for her.’

The pale Gem nodded to herself as she sprinted to the specified direction.

As she finally arrived at the spot, she watched Rose’s groaning form standing up among the rubble. Her ex-owner shook her head and turned around, facing Pearl’s menacing gaze.

“There you are, Rose Quartz.” Pearl spoke in a sing-song voice. “It’s time for you to be shattered for real.”

“Pearl… Listen…” The tall Gem panted, straightening her body. “Stop this, please. Just listen to me for a moment, this is all that I ask.”

"Hm…" Pearl had an idea what her ex-owner might intend by stalling her but decided to feign obliviousness for the sake of humiliating her later. "All right. You better start talking then!"

Rose seemed slight happier at that and gave one step in Pearl’s direction, but stopped as soon as she saw her ex-servant giving her a growl. “Ok, I will talk.”

The air around them was heavy. The wind carrying dust and papers scattered on the street.

“I was wrong, Pearl. I thought that I needed the humans for enjoyment, but how could I even truly enjoy anything with them when in the end, they are so fragile? So very the same?”

"…Really?" The pale Gem voice carries a deep tone of mockery to it. "And what, in the sky's name has caused this sudden and convenient change in you when five thousands of years never could?"

"After you left, you made me see how everything truly was! I even broke things off with Greg!" Rose took another step towards Pearl. "When you and I were together, we were such a powerful team! No one could stop us, no one could truly beat us. Our battle strategy, our lovemaking, our fusion… Everything was so perfect!"

“Hm… So, you’re telling me you changed?”

Rose excitedly nodded. “Yes! You changed me for the better! Now I learned my lesson and I won’t ever choose anyone over you again! I swear!”

Pearl said nothing and again, the tall Gem took this as a sign that she could approach the pale Gem even further. “I’m the only one who could give you the love and affection you deserve! So, please, come back to me!”

The pale Gem closed her eyes for a second and opened them, a cold gaze directed to the Gem before her. “No. Never.”

Rose Quartz recoiled as if she was slapped. "…What?"

“What we had wasn’t healthy, in fact, like everything that has to do with you, our relationship was nothing more than a lie. Greg is actually lucky to be away from you.” Pearl pointed her Black Dagger at her ex-owner. “I never want to feel like that ever again! Never I will go back to that circle of suffering!”

And to add more damage to her statement, Pearl sneered. “Now, stop being an embarrassment to your entire class, and just accept your death already!”

Rose face contorted into one of anger. “You leave me no choice but to command you again!”

‘Oh, that will be good.’ Pearl mentally mocked the tall Gem.

“I, as your owner, command you to stop defying me and do as I say from now on!” The Diamond in disguise screamed at the pale Gem.

At the tall Gem’s words, Peal suddenly acted very much robotically. “Acknowledged, my Diamond.”

“Oh, that’s a relief!” Rose exclaimed as she approached the Gem…

…Only to be immediately stabbed on her Gem by her ex-servant, however, the attack just scratched her Gem due to Rose’s quick reflexes.

"Y-You…" Rose's form glitched for a moment but still looked pretty much the same. "How…"

Pearl guffawed. "Rose Quartz, if you hadn't notice, I broke your sick chain of orders that you imposed over me back on the moon, most specifically, when I chose to defy them to protect Lapis. I'm no longer your slave, therefore, your commands, orders, and what not are meaningless to me."

The tall Gem’s eyes grown big with fear. “N-No, that’s impossible…”

"The only thing that is impossible is the fact that you still don't get it!" Pearl snarled. "You are looking for someone to blame, but in the end, you only need to look in the mirror!"

As Pearl said this, she put away her Black Dagger back on her Gem and on its place, removed an ominous cube from it. “The role you made me play, the role of your little pawn, the one who suffered as you lied and laugh without a care in the world, is over!”

With that, the pale Gem, engulfed in a five thousand years’ worth of repressed rage, threw the cube against Rose Quartz.

Immediately, when the cube touched the ground, a blinding light was emitted, and an explosion from a sixteen feet radius occurred, making a loud noise across the area, muffling the screams of the tall Gem.

‘Now that I used the lightbox from the White Diamond’s troops, she must really be weak, since the box certainly absorbed much of her light capabilities. She might even revert back into her Pink Diamond original form just to save her energy, who knows.’

Unfortunately for Pearl, Rose Quartz still remained as her fake persona, but as she predicted, the Gem dropped her sword to the ground and her shield was gone, feeling so very weak.

“What… Have you done… To me…?” The effort to speak was apparently too much for the Gem, but to her credit, she still stood, trying her best to remain conscious.

“You would remember if you actually took the time to listen to what I had to say instead of just relegating those ‘boring’ tasks to me.” The pale Gem scoffed. “This was called Shining Maelstrom, and it basically a piece of light-based equipment that absorbs your light energy, therefore ending your form, but considering who you truly are as a Gem, its not much of a surprise that you're capable of resisting its devastating power."

“P-Pearl…”

The pale Gem took another item from her Gem. “But that’s Ok, I have something extra, just for you, since I am, hm, what are the words you used to say to me… Oh, right. Exaggerated and melodramatic.”

This time, however, Pearl didn’t throw the item on Rose Quartz direction, she actually dashed as fast as she could and crunched the fragile-looking box, blowing its contents all over her ex-owner face.

"Kyeeeeaar!" Rose shrieked, raising her hands only to be the target of a very intense shock.

With not even a blink, Pearl gave a spinning kick to the screaming Gem, making her fall down on the ground, which in turn, got wrecked even further by the pale Gem stomping all over Rose’s form. She let her left leg give the tall Gem an extra strong kick and step over her ex-owner arm, looking smug as she did it.

“You just inhaled another little tech from White Diamond’s high-ranking troops, and it’s called Rust Dust.” Pearl gloatingly said as she curved her body to Rose Quartz’s squirming form. “It helped her troops in shattering her foes by making her enemies Gem’s turn fragile, just like those human poisons that you were so fascinated with on the middle ages.”

Rose violently coughed, bits of dust coming out from her mouth, all in a pinkish color. “Oh, look at that, Rose! How do you feel to have your own Gem peeling from the inside out?”

Her ex-owner couldn’t answer her, only coughing up more and more dust particles.

“Now, a strong Gem like yourself wouldn’t die with just those little things I got you…” Pearl happily said as she summoned back her Black Dagger. She touched its sharp, eerie blade with a caress of a lover, her eyes shining with glee. “Therefore, I have here one of the gifts that Bismuth gave me back when she still was alive. Do you know what makes this dagger and its sister so special?”

Rose only groaned in pain, and Pearl kicked her further.

"Of course you don't know, you never even liked Bismuth, after all, she was so much better than you." Pearl said. "Both of those daggers were made to shatter Gems. They are small, and its owner needs to get close enough to her victims to be able to use it to its full potential, but here we are…"

As sudden as she said this, Pearl crouched over the agonizing Gem, with one hand grabbing Rose Quartz neck and tightening its hold around it, while the other hand, still holding the Black Dagger, grazed her ex-owner Gem.

“Now, my abusive ex-leader, ex-lover, ex-friend and all in between, its time for you to finally die. I hope it hurts as much as you made me agonize through all those thousand years-”

“No!” A male scream interrupted Pearl’s monologue, and before she knew, she was face to face to the terrified, but courageous, Greg Universe. “P-Please! Don’t kill her! I beg you!”

“Greg…” The pale Gem muttered, bewildered at the sudden interruption. “You are ruining my glorious moment. Step aside, please.”

The human negatively shook his head. “No, I won’t do this! I won’t let you kill the woman that I love!”

‘Ugh, this again?’

“Greg, please listen to me, Rose is nothing but a manipulative monster that forced me to obey her orders and abused me in every conceivable way for five thousand years.” Pearl patiently explained. “She doesn’t care for anything or anyone but herself. She is selfish. It’s in her own nature. Its better for everyone if she just died and let us be.”

The man seemed a little taken back by her statement, but then, he took the hand holding the Black Dagger away from Rose’s Gem and pointed to himself. “Then kill me too! I don’t have anything else left to live for!”

“Please, don’t be ridiculous! You have your entire short life ahead of you!” The pale Gem exasperatedly said, as she gently pushed him away from her. “Rose isn’t worthy of your pain. Haven’t you both broken up? Haven’t you just been thrown away by her?”

"No, I haven't." Greg bravely declared. "I was the one who suggested the break-up because I thought you had run away because of me…"

The wind around them blown more leaves, and the asphalt wreckage a testament to the chaos of their hearts and minds.

"Because I thought you hated me… That I had ruined your relationship…" He finished saying, tears falling from his eyes. "I thought I would be doing the right thing!"

“Oh, Greg…” Pearl felt a pang of pity for the man before her, no, more than that.

She felt sympathy. Kinship.

‘I know how you’re feeling… Because I felt just like this for such a long time…’

Pearl felt something in her eyes and before she knew it, the tears were falling from it.

“Greg… Come here.” She hugged the crying man, who was wailing in sorrow. “I know how you feel…”

And with that, she put away her weapon and stood up, still holding the man in her embrace.

She backed away from him and firmly stared at his tear-filled eyes. “Are you sure about this, Greg?”

“Yes! I am!” The human said just as resolutely as the pale Gem. “I love her. More than anything in this world.”

Pearl closed her eyes and tried to still her heart. She sighed, already regretting what she was about to do.

And then, she kissed the man's forehead. "Very well, Greg, in honor of your love for this thing, I won’t kill her.”

“Y-You won’t?” Greg’s face contorted in a radiant smile. “Oh, thank you! Thank you!”

He hugged her and swing her around in his arms, in a fit of pure relief and joy.

‘Not this again. Ugh, I will have to wait for him to settle down.’

When he was finally satisfied with turning around in circles with the Gem patiently waiting for his euphoria to end, he coughed, already feeling somewhat embarrassed of his own reaction. "Uh, sorry for that, I just was so happy that I could not contain my excitement."

"I noticed." Pearl drily said. She then turned to Rose Quartz direction, and she took another object from her Gem, this time, a small sphere. "Now, if you want to help her, just crunch this sphere over her mouth, and she will be cured of the poison that I just used on her."

“Hm, what is this thing?”

"It is an old Gem antidote, its name was Panacea. I believe your human legends spoke of a similar item. It is capable of healing most Gem's poisons and lasts for an entire day. Lapis and I both used before coming here." The pale Gem gestured to Rose Quartz agonizing form. "Now, are you going to stand around asking me unnecessary questions or are you going to help your beloved?"

“Ok!” Greg answered as he immediately did as Pearl had instructed.

After a few seconds after applying the Panacea, Rose Quartz tentatively stood up.

“Uh… Greg?” She groggy said, only to be hugged by the relieved man. “Its… Dangerous… Go… Hide…”

“You don’t need to worry about this anymore!” Greg happily exclaimed. “Pearl won’t kill you.”

After hearing his answer, Rose Quartz perked up slightly, hope in her eyes.

“Don’t even think about this, Rose." Pearl coldly said, making the Gem before she steps back from her. "I have a couple of things to make clear to you."

Suddenly, the sound of wings flapping around them was heard and Lapis Lazuli appeared at Pearl's side, carrying the three bubbled Gems in her arms. "I just want to add that I was observing everything untill now, if you don't mind me saying."

“Here you are, Lapis.” Pearl half hugged the Gem with one arm. “As you know, since you were watching things around here, there has been a slight change of plans.”

"Apparently" The Blue Gem sighed. "I might not agree with it, but I will respect your decision. It is something that you would know best than me, since it is so personal to you, right?"

They both exchanged smiles.

Rose fumed the Blue Gem with her eyes, but she wisely kept her mouth shut.

“Now, I think for this conversation, having the other Gems would be smarter, since, you know, some Gems enjoy keeping secrets from her friends, right Rose Quartz?” Lapis mocked, making the tall Gem bristle into place. “So, I will pop those bubbles. Ready, Pearl?”

The pale Gem nodded, and Lapis popped the bubbles around the Gems, allowing them to recover their form.

“-THAT!” Amethyst reformed as she still was ending her previous phrase. She pointed a finger to Lapis.  “Hey! You interrupted me! That’s so not cool!”

The Blue Gem merely rolled her eyes, clearly annoyed. “As if I care.”

“Why you-” The purple Gem was about to take a step towards the offending Gem but has held back by Rose Quartz.

“No… Don’t fight them… Please…” The tall Gem’s voice still sore from her wounds.

Even though Amethyst clearly seemed into the mood for a fight, she relented and only glared at the Blue Gem, who glared back.

Sapphire and Ruby's Gems suddenly shone and they both recovered their form. They seemed a little dizzy, but as soon as they noticed their surroundings, they turned their attention to Pearl and Lapis.

“Pearl…” Sapphire timidly said. “We are sorry.”

“WHAT?” Amethyst perplexedly questioned. “Why would you both be sorry for anything?”

“Because we made a horrible mistake, Amethyst.” Ruby said, clenching her fists, clearly ashamed. “We were terrible friends, and there’s no way but accept the awful truth.”

“What truth? Pearl is the one causing all this trouble!” The purple Gem exclaimed, making Lapis growl in anger, but the Gem was gently held back by the delicate touch of the pale Gem’s hand. “It’s her fault, not ours!”

Sapphire and Ruby both shook their heads and they held hands. As they did this gesture, their forms combined into one, returning to the form born from their love, Garnet.

"Amethyst, no matter the circumstances, we didn't respect Pearl wishes. She doesn't want to be around us anymore since we been treating her poorly on the last five thousand years since we knew her." Garnet took the visor off her face, letting her three eyes shown her own sorrow and regret to her companions. "We treated her as a dramatic, obsessive Gem, and whether we wanted or not, she was the target of many of our jokes and we always ignored how much pain she was going into."

“But she was being dramatic!” The purple Gem tried to argue.

"No, she wasn't." The fusion lowered her head. "She was in pain, and instead of taking the time to listen to her, we either ignored or mocked her. What kind of friends would do such a thing?"

"B-But…" Amethyst muttered but lowered her head as well. "…She never told us anything…"

"How could I, when none of you would take me seriously?" Pearl said as she bitterly sneered at her ex-companions, which made Lapis hug her, showing her the affection she needed at the moment. "It's not like any of you would even listen to me. I was just Rose Quartz little toy."

“Hey, that’s-” Rose tried to argue, but was interrupted by Lapis and Pearl growling at her.

After that, they all stood in silence for a moment.

“I will make some demands, and you all better listen.” Pearl coldly stated. “From now on, none of you will bother us, attack us or try to make any contact with us, unless is a matter of urgency. If any of you call us for anything less than something that would be a threat to us, Shatter Stars, we will finish what we started, and this time, we won’t be as merciful.”

The pale Gem glared at Rose Quartz. “And you, your sick vermin, you are to never, ever, try to contact me at all, in fact, this is the last time in my existence that I will acknowledge your foul presence. If you dare to talk to me, you die. You threaten me or Lapis, you die. Basically, you try to interfere in any way or form in our lives, you will die. Do you understand?”

"Pearl…" Rose hand raised up as if she wanted to touch her ex-servant face only to be sharply reminded of her reality by Lapis making an ice sword out of the water from her wings and pointed it to her throat.

“Are you deaf?” Lapis sneered, hate in her eyes. “She said: ‘do you understand’? Do I need to tear you apart until you get what we are saying?”

"N-No…" Rose reluctantly whined, tears falling off her eyes, clearly hating Lapis so very much for making her agree to this. "I understand…"

“Now, with that already established, I can formally declare this ‘non-aggression treaty’ between us, Shatter Stars and you, Crystal Gems finally in operation.” Pearl offered her right hand to Garnet. “Do you agree to those terms, Garnet of the Crystal Gems?”

The fusion eyed the hand. "Just one thing to add: If something major threatens this planet, you are to offer us assistance in dealing with it, and to let you, Pearl, decide if you want to talk to us if one day you wished to. If you agree with those conditions, our treaty can work smoothly."

“Are you sure about that, Garnet?” Amethyst worriedly asked. “Is this the right thing to do?”

The fusion nodded. “Yes, this is the best outcome of all.”

The purple Gem sighed, clearly sad. “Then… there’s nothing more that we can do but go for it…”

Rose Quartz seemed livid with anger, but she was restraining herself. Lapis threat a very real thing on the air.

With that, Garnet and Pearl shook their hands.

The treaty was made.

“Thank you all for your cooperation.” The pale Gem said. She then turned her attention to the very furious Rose Quartz. “Now there’s just a tad small detail that I have to take care of.”

Then Pearl grabbed Rose’s arm and backed both of them away enough from the others so she could whisper on her ear. “You better take this seriously, Pink Diamond, or else, I will tell your little secret to everyone, and then you will regret not being shattered by me right now… Oh, just look what you made me do, your little monster. Congratulations on becoming the most hated being in my entire existence."

Rose Quartz shook with fear.

“Your little games aren’t that much fun anymore, aren’t they?” Pearl giggled. “Now, every time you try to emulate how humans sleep, you will find me there, and I will be the actress starring in your bad dreams, in the role of the one who will kill you.”

With that, Pearl gave her ex-owner a condescending tap on the head as she brought her back to the rest of the Gems. "Now that I reminded our little Rose Quartz to not break our treaty, I think that we should take our leave, right, Supreme Leader?"

“Right away, C.O.L.D. captain!” Lapis offered her hand to her friend, and Pearl settled herself comfortably on the Blue Gem’s arms. “Hopefully until never, Crystal Chumps. I wish you all get as miserable as you made Pearl feel.”

And with that, they took their leave from the wreckage they made on Beach City.

Both literal and emotional.

 

---

 

‘Thankfully, I could save Rose from being shattered.’ Garnet thought as she saw the retreating forms of Pearl and Lapis fade on the sky.

"She really left…" Rose said as she fell on her knees on the asphalt. "She left me…"

Then she wailed.

“Rose…” Greg tried to comfort the crying Gem before him, but he also was crying, so none of them was emotionally capable of offering much support.

“Garnet, why haven’t you used your electric powers on Lapis when you had the chance?” Amethyst whispered discreetly at the fusion. “What was the point of all of our battle strategy?”

The fusion closed her three eyes. She turned her head to her smaller friend, opening her eyes and whispering back at her. “The point was to reach this result. If we tried to do what Rose had planned, Pearl wouldn’t even give us the chance to talk, not to mention, Lapis wouldn’t lose this battle, she would win just as she did today, but instead of this outcome, with everyone alive, Pearl and her could potentially raze this entire city in their anger.”

“Oh…” The purple Gem nodded. “This aside, have you noticed how close that Lapis Lazuli was to Pearl? Do you think they’re-”

“Not yet.” The fusion said as she put her visor back. “But maybe on the future.”

The purple Gem stretched. “Maybe? So, it’s not a guarantee?”

"No… There are things that are still setting themselves into motion, which can change the future even further, so I cannot say for certain." Garnet crossed her arms. "But one thing is for sure, they do have a deep affection for each other… And it can grow to become similar to what Sapphire and Ruby have for each other if they chose the right path for it…"

“Wow. Now that’s isn’t something that we see every day.” Amethyst crossed her arms as well. “But hey, Pearl was looking damn fine in her new form. I dig it.”

The fusion sighed. “Yes, she did.”

"How come she never graced us with that kind of hotness before? Like damn, if she looked like that for the last five thousand years, even I would have a crush on her." The purple Gem playfully snickered. "Although she would probably still get on my nerves with that pride of hers, so maybe it was better this way."

Garnet facepalmed, muffling a giggle. “Amethyst, please never change.”

“You got it, G!” The purple Gem gave the fusion a pat on her knees and walked away. “I will be back to the temple, I’ll meet you there.”

Garnet looked back at Rose Quartz still crying form.

‘Those next years will be hard to deal. Thankfully, Greg is here to help, more than what he would know.’

Indeed, Garnet. More than even what you would know, Greg would be essential to fill the hole that Pearl’s absence would leave in their hearts.

Chapter Text

 

“I’m so exhausted…” Pearl said as she laid on her back over the bed, bouncing slightly from it due to her jump impulse. “Let’s hope that everything will turn out for the best.”

“Yeah…” The Blue Gem answered her friend. “Why don’t you go to sleep? I want to clean things around the base.”

Pearl slightly raised her torso from the bed, resting the weight on her forearms. “You want to do some clean-up? That’s so unexpected of you.”

“Well, I can’t let you do all this housework by yourself all the time.” Lapis said as she shrugged her shoulders. “And yes, I know you enjoy doing this, but sometimes, it's nice to offer help, right?”

“Yes… It is.” The pale Gem said as she blushed. Then, she rested her back on the bed, closing her eyes and sighing. “Then don’t let me stop you, but you’re welcome to join me when you feel like it, ok?”

“Ok!” Lapis exclaimed as she felt her own cheeks flush. Pearl always manages to do that to her. “I’ll be going now. See you later, Hot patootie!”

With that, the Blue Gem left the P.O.I. room.

 

---

 

She spends some considerable time returning every object on their base back to their place. Fallen chairs, books, electronic devices, and trying to separate the ones that seemed damaged from those that weren't. Then, she cleaned up the floors as best as she could, even if it wasn't as good as her friend's handiwork, it was decent enough to be acceptable.

“I don’t know how Pearl likes to do this…” Lapis said as she sits on the couch. “At least, she isn’t overworking herself after what happened…”

And that is the real reason why Lapis volunteered to do this chore.

‘I still think it was a dangerous move to let that defective Diamond live. I doubt she will really follow this treaty. If what I could see of her behavior is right, she will find a way to cause us trouble in the future…’

However, Lapis had to admit, if that ended up as being the case, there would be nothing stopping them from killing Pink Diamond for good, whether the Crystal Gems interfered or not.

The Blue Gem sighed, willing her body to further relax on the couch. “But it was so fun to watch Pearl beating that smug imbecile…”

‘It was unfortunate that Rose Quartz happened to avoid her fatal attack, but I'm sure that Pearl will improve her technique with her dagger.'

Lapis summoned her White Dagger from her Gem. She caressed it as gently as she could.

‘Pearl gave me such a powerful weapon… What a wonderful friend she is…’

The Blue Gem never ever had received a gift from anyone, not one that wasn't attached with many strings and would-be favors to be collected later. Pearl was the first and the only Gem that ever treated her like that: as a being that she wanted to keep close simply for her company.

"Those Crystal Chumps are so stupid… Who would treat someone as amazing as Pearl as they did?"

What really perplexed the Blue Gem’s mind was the fact that Pearl still cared for those moronic Gems.

‘I expected Garnet to be way better at talking than that irritating Amethyst, but nooooo! The Ruby in it made that fusion as moronic as that defective poor excuse for Quartz. How that Sapphire can possibly stand to be fused with such a dumb Gem is beyond me.’

“But I guess this is what they call… Love?”

The very concept of someone being in love still baffled her.

‘Like, why would anyone even bother to be in love? Love sucks if what Pearl felted was anything to go by, not to mention, it makes them vulnerable. I will never allow myself to become so weak as to be in love with anyone. I just need my friendship with Pearl and everything else can go up in flames for all I care.'

Lapis nodded to herself, agreeing with her logic and feeling so very smug.

“Now, I should go back to bed, I need my cuddles and my beauty sleep, as I read It in my manga.”

She stood up and returned to the P.O.I room.

Pearl was sleeping, and even like that, she looked so elegant and beautiful.

‘She looks so exquisite… I doubt there is a Pearl as enchanting as she is, or better yet, any Gem as amazing as she is.’

Lapis slowly approached the bed, trying to not wake her friend up.

Pearl needed her own beauty sleep, even if she was so very attractive already.

‘There is nothing wrong in becoming even more beautiful. Overkill is the key for a satisfying victory, so becoming gorgeous beyond anyone’s expectations is just as right.’

The Blue Gem had an idea.

‘I will use that thing Pearl bought!’

Her friend had bought what she called a ‘Polaroid Camera’, and it took still moments when it was activated. She could take the opportunity to register Pearl’s beauty on it, and then the Blue Gem would be able to look at her whenever she wanted.

Lapis opened the first drawer of Pearl’s dresser and took the Polaroid Camera from it.

‘Now, I just need to point it to her and press this red button, right?’ She cautiously thought as she handled the camera.

The Blue Gem approached the bed and settled herself in a favorable angle.

She pressed the button. There was a bright flash, and a photograph was released from the camera compartment, which she grabbed.

‘Now, I wait.’ Lapis thought as she anxiously eyed the photograph, already hating to wait.

After a few moments, the sleeping form of her friend was shown on the photograph.

‘Ah… So beautiful.’ Lapis practically swooned as she stared at it. ‘I will keep this in my Gem.’

The Blue Gem immediately put the photograph safely in her Gem, feeling very much satisfied.

‘And all of this without waking Pearl up!’

“You know, if I had an inkling that you wanted to have my photograph, I would pose for you immediately.” Pearl said as she opened her eyes and smiled at her now, blushing friend.

“Ah, uh, I…” Lapis trailed off. “I’m sorry…”

The pale Gem chuckled. “Don’t you worry. Come here!”

Lapis only had time to yelp before her friend grabbed her hand and pulled her to the bed, making them settle in a very cuddly position. “Now, look up to the camera!”

They took many photos together. Some of them serious, others playful, but then, they resumed their own affectionate behavior in most of them.

‘It is impossible to not want to be mushy when Pearl is concerned, at least to anyone with half a mind.’

“Now, Sweet Cheeks, you should be fair and let me take a photo of you for my own safekeeping.” Pearl said as she smirked. “Although I can always just wait for you to sleep and starts drooling all over me before taking it…”

“Don’t you dare!” The Blue Gem bristled, earning a kiss between her eyebrows from her pale friend.

“All right, but I want a photo with just you on it.” The pink-haired Gem said as she nuzzled Lapis neck. “Please?”

“There’s no way I can say no to you when you act like that.” Lapis shyly answered. “What do you want me to do?”

Pearl sat on the bed. “Just be yourself. I absolutely adore you anyway, so don’t need to feel any pressure.”

“O-Ok...” Lapis sat at the end of the bed and crossed her arms. “Then let me at least give you one where I look awesome.”

“Ooooh, are you going to look like a bad girl, Supreme Leader?” Pearl snickered, her cheeks flushing in a light blue color. “Ready to take the photo whenever you are.”

‘Hm, let me think… I know! I will picture myself beating that defective Diamond over and over, while Pearl is cheering me. That’s quite a satisfying thought…’

Lapis gave her friend an almost looking evil smirk, so very pleased with herself.

Pearl took this as a sign to take her photo. She pressed the red button and the flash was emitted.

After a few moments, she was holding the Blue Gem’s photograph. “Now I have my own memento from my best friend pride-filled face.”

Both Gems exchanged giggles. Pearl put the photograph inside her Gem.

‘I feel oddly pleased with this.’ Lapis thought. ‘Like, now Pearl have a piece of me for safekeeping… Just like I have of hers…’

“Lapis, I will resume my sleep, would you care to join me now?”

The Blue Gem nodded. “Yes!”

They both settled in their usual close, snuggled, and affectionate positions with each other. “I hope you have a nice dream, Pearl”

“You too, Lapis…”

Both of them let their bodies rest. The deep grasp of the slumber bringing their minds to the emptiness of relaxation.

 

---

 

Lapis woke up, feeling so much energized in comparison to what she was when she had joined her friend in their bed. She gently left Pearl’s embrace and moved away to the end of the bed, trying to lazily pick one of her manga from the nightstand, but to her own chagrin, it wasn’t there.

‘Ugh, I probably left it on the shelf, or maybe close to my fashion things. I don’t remember.’

She sighed and turned her attention to her still sleeping companion.

‘Pearl must really be tired…’ The Blue Gem thought as she crawled towards her friend. ‘Just look how into it she is…’

Even as she looked at the pink-haired Gem upside-down, Lapis could not help but still think her as a gorgeous being. “So pretty”

Without restraining herself, the Blue Gem kissed Pearl between her eyes, backing away for a moment, and in an impulse, she kissed her friend’s Gem.

It felt warm to her lips, a pleasing sensation expanded all over her body.

‘Is this too intimate? Would Pearl get mad at me for this?’

The pink-haired Gem stirred and slowly opened her eyes. She seemed surprised for a moment, but she gave her a smile. “Hi there.”

“Hi…” Lapis whispered. “You kissed me between my eyebrows, so I gave you one of my own to pay you back.”

Pearl laughed, and it was like a song. “You’re too cute.”

“Were you having a dream?” The Blue Gem asked as she twirled one lock of her friend’s hair. “I mean, you were really into it.”

“Not exactly, but I did enjoy how it ended.” Pearl smirked. “Did you know that Pink Diamond have mental powers to some extent?”

“She what?” Suddenly, the carefree atmosphere was gone and Lapis worriedly eyed her friend. “Are you ok? She tried to hurt you?”

“Not really. She can’t possess the body of strong-willed beings or those who weren't from her court." Pearl sat up. "But she can try to communicate with them just as she did right now with me."

"What did she do to you?" Lapis asked as she holds Pearl's hands. "Please tell me."

“The usual pathetic things that she is so used to do to me, Little Lappy. First by pleading, then by threatening and lastly trying a compromise; and in each one, I brutally humiliated her.” The pale Gem giggled. “Also, I had the opportunity to kill her on this wonderful dream.”

“So, can we consider this as a violation of our treaty?”

Pearl shook her head negatively. “Actually, not. I did remind her that she had potentially violated our treaty, and I told her that I would return to Earth to tell the Crystal Gems the truth, then she immediately changed her tone. Not to mention, I actually managed to acquire a nice place for us to train.”

The pale Gem moved closer to her friend. “So, I said that I would let go of this violation once, but if she attempted to contact me or you again, I would make my threat a reality and I would kill all of the humans from that town just like I would kill her.”

“Good.” Lapis nodded, feeling pleased. “Now, she won’t have any choice but to finally comply with our terms. For real, this time.”

“Yes, but as I said… I still killed her on the dream.” The pink-haired Gem whispered conspiratorially. “Do you know what happens when she is killed in a dream?”

“I don’t know, she dies for real? Nah, that would be too good to be true…” Lapis remarked.

“Well, she still remains alive, but her form is destroyed and she has to retreat to her Gem. It's too much for her to handle, and it does leave some scars on her mind.” Pearl laughed. “She will be terrified of me forever after what I did to her.”

“What have you done?” Lapis eyes shone with excitement. “Please tell me!”

“All right, sweet cheeks.” Pearl said as she helped Lapis to rest over her lap. “Allow me to tell you the amazing tale of how I, Pearl of the Shatter Stars, tortured and maimed the abusive Pink Diamond.”

 

---

 

She was dreaming, or at least, partially.

“Let me guess, you couldn’t just leave things alone, couldn’t you, Pink Diamond?” Pearl scoffed as she pivoted around, coming face to face with her most hated person. “You are such an idiot that I’m still baffled how you can even be alive.”

“My name is Rose!” Her ex-owner said. “Pearl, please, I beg you, come back to me, I cannot live without you!”

“That’s your problem, not mine.” Pearl growled. “If you happen to die, then I would actually have an excuse to throw a party where I would celebrate your demise. So please, just die already.”

Rose Quartz face contorted into one of anger. “You cannot keep this rebellious act for long!”

“Hm? Haven’t your damaged head noticed?” Pearl mocked. “It isn’t an act. The truth hurts, doesn’t it?”

The tall Gem shook her head negatively, covering her ears as if it would stop herself from hearing what everyone knew to be the truth. “I don’t want to hear this!”

Pearl guffawed. “You cannot choose anything. You’re in my dream, Pink Diamond, therefore, I am the one who controls everything around here.”

“I will destroy you if you keep threatening me!” Rose growled at the pale Gem.

“Like you would even be capable of doing anything. Your threats filled with your usual dose of hypocrisy don’t faze me at all.” Pearl answered as she skipped around her ex-owner. “Not to mention, you’re the one who will be shattered, not me.”

Pearl willed her Black Dagger to appear on her hands, and there it was. “Now, let me finish what I had started.”

The pale Gem moved impossibly fast and proceeded to quickly stab Rose Quartz all around her body, her pain-filled screams like music to her ears. When she backed away, Rose’s Gem was cracked in many spots.

“P-PleaAAAase StoOOop!” The flickering form of her ex-owner faded in and out of place. “Let’s have an AGreEment! Reach A COmproMIse!”

“No. We had a deal, already made on Earth, and guess what? You just violated it.” Pearl smiled evilly. “Which means, that everything is off and I can tell everyone the truth!”

“NooOOo!” The distorted shout from Rose Quartz was as amusing as it could be. “I’m SoRRy!”

“Hm…” Pearl pretended to be thinking of it. “I could let this one-time infringement slide, if you never try to contact me or Lapis by any way or form, including you mind interference….”

She smirked further "And of course, formally declaring the Sky Arena a Shatter Star's domain, therefore, off-limits to any Crystal Gem. Also, let me add this: If you try to violate our treaty again, I will go back to that human town and I will kill every organic being from it, and only then, I would shatter you. Do we have a deal, Pink Diamond?"

“DdEaAal!” Rose Quartz said. “Now, PlEASe, let me Out of HeRe!”

“Of course, Pink Diamond, as soon as I kill you.” Pearl said as she immediately stabbed her ex-owner on her Gem. “You know you can’t leave the normal way. You’re in my mind, and thanks to you, I have a lot of repressed compartments on it, and once you’re in, the only way your mind can leave is through death.”

Rose couldn’t answer her, the glitching and phasing becoming too much for proper communication.

"Don't you worry, though, as much as I would love to see you truly die, once you are shattered in my dream, your real body will be waiting for you, that is when you reform." Pearl shrugged. "It's not like this is the first time you die in a Gem’s mind, although it has been five thousand years, so it will really hurt.”

With that, Pearl stabbed Rose’s Quartz Gem again, shattering it into tiny pieces, which made her ex-owner give her an ear-piercing death scream filled with agony.

Pearl eyed the dream remains of her ex-owner, smiling sadistically as she could. “Until never, Pink Diamond.”

As Rose Quartz form faded from her mind, Pearl felt many things. Satisfaction, pride, joy, but just as suddenly, she also felt a bolt of sudden pleasure filling her momentarily, which seemed unrelated and very confusing.

And then, Pearl awakened from her slumber.

 

---

 

“Wow!” Lapis said as she was filled with pride over her friend’s actions. “You were amazing, Pearl!”

“Thank you, Lapis, you’re too kind.” Pearl scratched her friend’s hair, making the Blue Gem purr. “I wished you had experienced this joy that I just had, the satisfaction of finally killing a very hated enemy.”

“I don’t even need to be there.” Lapis said as she sat up, her back turned at her friend. “I’m already experiencing it just by basking in your own fulfillment of it, my Pearl.”

“If you say so, then I’m glad to share this with you, my Lapis.” Pearl blushed, and she hugged the smaller Gem. “Hm… Let me try something.”

“What do you-Ooh…” Lapis trailed off as she felt Pearl’s delicate lips touching her Gem.

‘This feels good… So wonderful.’ The Blue Gem thought as she blissful trembled, feeling a strange kind of pleasure coursing through her entire body. It immediately relaxed her.

Pearl released her, already embarrassed. “Sorry, I just wanted to hug you and then I just-”

“I don’t mind.” The Blue Gem just got even bluer since her entire face was flushed in a deep bluish color. “I-I did kiss your Gem when you were sleeping, so we’re even.”

“Ah, so that can explain why I…” Pearl trailed off. “Never mind that. We are even.”

“Yeah…”

They both looked at each other, flushed and slightly confused.

“Do you want to try your new motorcycle on Earth?” Pearl tentatively tried. “I mean, it would be good to try it in an open road….”

Lapis nodded. “Yeah, sure thing.”

They both took the motorcycle, a pair of helmets and returned to Earth.

After a lot of accidents, some which Pearl had to fix the motorcycle in order to keep driving it, Lapis finally learned how to passably drive the vehicle.

To help her friend’s mood, Pearl also suggested that they could take the time to buy the spandex fabric that she wanted for her fashion attempts.

They bought five different colored rolls of it, but also, ended up buying parts for the motorcycle, a top of the line computer, a 40 inches plasma television and the newly launched console, PlayStation 2, with an assortment of games.

When they eventually returned to their moon base, they spend the time setting those electronic devices and fixing the motorcycle.

Pearl and Lapis both sat on the couch, their forms already cleaned from the grease, and each of them with their own chosen books to pass the time.

“When I finish reading this manga, would you teach me a little about your book?” Lapis shyly asked. “I mean, I might not understand it, but I can at least try to, before deciding that it isn’t for me.”

“Well, that’s good to hear. I would be overjoyed in being your tutor.” Pearl remarked, but as she noticed her friend’s practically star-filled eyes, she relented and added. “I will also read this manga of yours and we can both talk about it.” 

“Yay!” The Blue Gem hugged her now, embarrassed friend. “You’re the best.”

“The things you make me do, Lapis…” Pearl chuckled as they broke their embrace. “You’re too adorable.”

Lapis smiled at her shyly, twiddling her thumbs. “Hm, Pearl, can I ask you something?”

“Of course you can, Little Lappy.” The pink-haired Gem said as she gave her friend a reassuring smile. “Go ahead.”

The Blue Gem flushed and suddenly grabbed her friend’s hands, looking at her with her eyes shining. “Promise me that you won’t ever leave me? Please?”

Pearl blinked for a second before she simply kissed Lapis on her cheek. "I promise. I won't ever leave you as long as we love each other as we do."

Lapis sighed, obviously relieved. “Thank the stars for this!”

“Did you honestly thought that I would say ‘no’ to you?” The pale Gem asked as she raised an eyebrow.

“I just was embarrassed about it, Ok?” The Blue Gem whined as she crossed her arms. “Now let's just do something else, before I die from it.”

Pearl giggled. “And we cannot have that, can we?”

The pale Gem rose from the couch and offered her friend a hand. “Let’s go read my ‘Big Book of Science’. Then we can both read your manga.”

Both Gems grabbed their mentioned literature materials and then, they spend the time trying to reach out to each other’s hobbies.

 

---

 

For the next five years, they had so much fun in their home and on Earth. They even made a simple communicator that would allow the Crystal Gems to call them for help, just as they had agreed on their treaty, even if they didn’t even truly talk to them more than a few words when they brought the device to their so-called ‘neighbors’.

However, during all this time, the Crystal Gems kept quiet. None of them attempted to contact them, which Lapis personally loved.

Everything was just as peaceful for the Blue Gem as she never ever had in her entire existence.

That’s it, until, the Crystal Gems interfered with their little piece of heaven by contacting them.

‘Whatever it is, they better have a good excuse for annoying us.’ Lapis thought as Pearl turned the device on.

 

Ah, Lapis, you don’t know half of it.

Chapter Text

 

‘This is surreal.’

Pearl gazed at the infant safely sleeping on his crib.

‘Rose Quartz… Pink Diamond… Is finally dead.’

And more importantly, she somehow became this human. He has her Gem… He is…

‘This is too much for me to handle…’

“I still cannot understand all of this.” Lapis whispered at the pale Gem side, warily eyeing the child. “Just look at this thing… How the hell can we be sure it isn’t just another Rose Quartz’s usual tricks?”

‘She always enjoyed making people dance her own tune. I wouldn't put past her.' Pearl bitterly thought, still unmoving, still glaring at the child. ‘But she really has outdone herself this time. Well played, Pink Diamond.’

“I’m sorry if he is still fast asleep. This little guy was so very tired after… Everything and even now, it shows." Greg said as he comes out from the kitchen. "Thankfully, Vidalia did leave some notes on how to deal with a baby…."

The two Shatter Stars remained quiet. Pearl wouldn’t stop glaring at the infant.

“Are you both going to stare and whisper the entire day or are you going to say anything to us?” Amethyst interjected, her voice carrying a very annoyed tone. “Come on. Say something already!”

"Shut up," Lapis growled at the purple Gem, who scoffed at her. "You have no idea what this could mean."

“Well genius, then tell me what this,” The Quartz gestured at the sleeping child. “Could possibly mean to you, since you are so very smart?”

“Ugh! Just by talking to you I already feel dumber.” The Blue Gem scoffed back. She turned to the pale Gem beside her. “This was a waste of time. We should just go back home already.”

“…Lapis.” Pearl said as she finally looked up. “Wait for a moment, I need to talk with Greg about something.”

“That’s fine by me.” Lapis shrugged, crossing her arms and backing up against the far wall. “I will wait here.”

Pearl nodded and approached Greg. “Please explain everything from the beginning. I need to make sense from all of this and honestly, you’re the one who was with her in her final moments.”

“O-Ok…” The tired human let his head hang low and motioned to follow him back to the kitchen.

They took their seats by the room’s dinner table.

‘So many hypotheses… I wonder what he will tell me.'

“Since that day when you… Left us…” Greg started as he shyly eyed the pale Gem impassive gaze. “Rose changed. First, the trauma was so great that on the next day, she had to retreat back into her Gem so she could, uh, reform? I guess this is the right word for it?”

“Yes. Please do continue.”

“Well, when she finally returned after a week, she was… So depressed.” The human closed his eyes tightly. Apparently, feeling all of his repressed emotions just by remembering. “She started to go around in parties, flirting with all kind of people, sleeping around with them, putting herself at risk, you know, being reckless.”

Pearl frowned and sneered. “As if she never did anything like that before. You’re too naïve if you only noticed that behavior just now. She always acted like that.”

Taken aback by the pale Gem’s blunt words, Greg was quiet for a moment.

"…Going back to what I was saying, Rose was depressed. She seemed uninterested in doing that Gem stuff you guys did once in a while, beating those monsters up and what not." The human's hands were sweating, Pearl noticed with a brief look that the man had taken the bad habit of nibbling his nails since they were all impossibly small. "It was… Very hard on me. I would cry and we even had terrible discussions with each other-"

Rolling her eyes, Pearl interrupted him. “Let me guess: you ended up forgiving her and letting those things go so you could salvage your relationship.”

Greg gave her a tiny nod. The pink-haired Gem facepalmed. "Just as I expected. Believe me, I've been there, done that, all those things. It isn't good for you, Greg."

“…It's not like I can do anything right now about it." His eyes started to tear up, and he tried to clean them with the back of his hands, without much success. "Anyways, one day, she helped me to babysit Vidalia's little baby, and it was like a light was turned on her mind."

‘Ah… So, this explains this epiphany of hers.'

“She would ask me many things about the growing up process, saying that while she did spend five thousand years on this planet and interacted with other humans, she never took much interest in understanding how the growing up happened for us, so I took this as a mere curiosity.” He bit his lips, giving up his attempts of hiding his tears. His voice turned hoarse from them. “T-Then, she started to ask me if I wanted to have kids, and that she w-wanted one of her own.”

A feeling of dread crossed the pale Gem’s immaterial heart. She already had an idea what her ex-owner might have intended with this.

"Since she was… Straying away from me for so long, I eventually accepted… After a few tries, she was pregnant and it started to show. Rose gave the news to Garnet and Amethyst, and they both panicked and were rightly confused about it, but after some time, they calmed down and tried to make some preparations for it." Greg sniffled. The tears falling across his cheeks, his face turned slightly red and he whimpered. "But during all this time, she seemed so far away, like she was thinking of something else."

Pearl firmly stared at the human, waiting for him to conclude his story.

“When she finally was about to go into labor, the only thing she would say was… Your name.” Greg finally looked up and met Pearl’s serious gaze with one of his own. “After everything… It still was all about you. It really hurts, even until now.”

The pale Gem kept staring at him. “So, do you resent me, Greg? It’s that what you’re saying?”

“No! Never!” The human almost panicked at the pale Gem’s question. “I just wished you were there with me. I felt lost, and the only one who could truly get what I was feeling would be you, at least this is what I think.”

Pearl lowered her gaze to the awfully colorful tablecloth, sighing. “Just by hearing you, I feel overcome by nostalgia, Greg. I was, once upon a time, very much like you.”

She opened her eyes and stared at back at the human. “However, now I am a different Gem, and while I sympathize with your pain, I do not care about Rose Quartz dying words and even less if she missed me at all. No offense.”

“None taken…” Greg whispered. “Anyway, then there was this big bright light, and suddenly, Rose was gone and only our child with her Gem remained in her place.”

Pearl remained in silence. She waited for him to continue.

“…When we were deciding the baby’s name, we ended up choosing Steven if they were a boy, or Nora if they happened to be a girl. As you could see, the baby is a boy, so we call him Steven.”

The pale Gem nodded. “I see, and he was born just a few months ago, correct?”

“Yes. I’m so sorry if we didn’t call you both straight away. I honestly didn’t know if telling you guys would be the right thing, considering what had happened last time, so I decided to follow Garnet’s advice and we called you only now.”

“Don’t worry about that, Greg. We did end up meeting your son, so that’s what it really mattered, in the end.” Pearl remarked nonchalantly.

A piercing cry of an infant suddenly was made present through the house. "Oh, I'm sorry Pearl, I guess my little guy is hungry."

Greg stood up and approached the refrigerator, opening it and taking a baby bottle filled with milk. “I think that it already cooled down enough as to not hurt him with this excessive warm.”

Pearl stayed in silence, still pondering all that was conveyed to her. She raised from the chair and walked back to the living room, where a pink crib housed the now crying infant.

“Ugh, Pearl!” Lapis was covering her ears, looking very much annoyed. “Please tell me that those things come with an off switch, it is driving me mad!"

“HA!” Amethyst snorted amusedly. “You’re not so high and mighty now!”

Lapis sneered. “You’re covering your ears too!”

The purple Gem quickly uncovered her ears. “No, I’m not!”

‘I don’t have time for this non-sense’ Pearl thought as she rolled her eyes. ‘Funny as it might look.’

“Lapis, let’s go.” The pale Gem said as she grabbed her friend’s hand, already noticing how relieved she was by her suggestion. “We saw enough to make our own assessment of the situation."

They walked away from them a few steps, opening the front door when they heard Greg's startled voice. "Wait!"

“What is it, Greg?” Pearl asked, turning her body slightly at the man, noticing that he was carrying the baby on his arms. “Hm…”

“Ah, it’s just that Steven apparently wants to be held by you! Look!” As the man said this, the pink-haired Gem noticed that the infant had stopped crying and now was wobbling his arms and legs awkwardly in her direction, whining, wanting to be in her arms.

Pearl frowned, her eyes dark as the moment she was staring the child sleeping on his crib.

“Spare me the sentimentalism.”

With that, the Shatter Stars left the house, with only the baby’s wails accompanying their footsteps.

“I have a hypothesis regarding this whole situation, Lapis.” Pearl said as she hugged her friend. “Let’s go back to our base and we can talk about it. This place is driving me insane.”

The Blue Gem nodded and hugged her friend back. “Agreed. This place is annoying and filled with stupid people. Let’s go.”

As she concluded her words, Lapis wings appeared on her back and they both flew away to their moon.

 

---

 

"Don't worry about it, Greg," Garnet said as she took the baby from the baffled man. She played with him for a moment, willing him to stop crying, which she succeeded. "It was too much for Pearl to suddenly handle. She will understand. Someday."

Greg sighed. “Future vision?”

The fusion nodded. “Future vision.”

“Yeah, that’s nice and dandy, but man, have you both seen how they were dressed?” The purple Gem smirked. “Like, Pearl looked drop dead gorgeous with her pretty little black dress and high heels, hell, she had that gap on her leg that was a little too distracting!”

Garnet sighed. “Yes, Amethyst. We saw it. Pearl and Lapis looked both very beautiful.”

Amethyst waved off, not too amused by the Blue Gem’s inclusion.

“Bah, Lapis looked ok, but did you know that Lapis was the one who made their clothes? She was bragging about it while you and Pearl were talking on the kitchen." The small Gem laughed. "Girl was pretty much smug about the whole thing. I still don't get how someone as irritating and blunt as Lapis could be so mushy with our P."

Greg smirked. “You’re one to talk. You also are pretty much annoying you know.”

“Oh, come on, Gregory!” Amethyst baffled exclaimed. “Even you?”

Garnet smiled at her two squabbling friends. She wasn’t too worried, she knew Pearl would eventually come to understand Steven and would be part of his life.

No matter how long it would take for her to let go of her resentment of his mother.

‘Rose took some reprehensible decisions, and destroyed the chance to be anything for Pearl, but maybe her son can make different choices. It’s up to him.’

 

---

 

“I see.” Lapis said as she sighed, gazing at her best friend snuggled at her side on their couch. “That’s a complete mess. No wonder you’re annoyed.”

“You have no idea.”

“But why would Rose Quartz do anything like that?” The Blue Gem questioned as she scratched Pearl’s hair. “I mean, turn herself into a baby, or whatever that thing was?”

Pearl sat up. “If, it really is her. The baby, ‘Steven’, can also be just as the others said: a half-Gem, Half-human hybrid.”

Lapis groaned. “Damn, that is a whole new can of worms to open.”

The Blue Gem stood up from the couch. “And they just had to ruin our planned evening by making us go there.”

“I’m sorry for ruining everything with my past.” Pearl whispered, feeling sad. “I know how much you wanted to see the Nut Cracker with your own eyes.”

Lapis pivoted and briskly walked to her friend, grabbing her hands as gently as she could and kissing her knuckles. “I’m far more concerned with your happiness than this. Yeah, it sucks that I won’t be able to see it on its opening night, but I can buy more tickets online for tomorrow, and I can finally finish and use my dress!”

The Blue Gem kissed her friend’s cheek, making them shyly stare at each other.

Both of their eyes carried only adoration. “We can take this opportunity so we can match each other’s looks. Every single organic and non-organic will be awed by our beauty!”

“Hm…” The pale Gem played with her friend’s lapel. “Maybe I can wear that tux you made me. I think we would rule with any clothes you created. What do you think?”

Lapis giggled. “I think you would look pretty good with anything. It’s up to you.”

“Well then, I will let my feelings chose something tomorrow.” Pearl said as she kissed her friend’s cheek. “Now, how about we play some matches in All-Star Baseball 2005? You know I love to see you wreck your opponents.”

“Not as much as I do when I’m watching you play those Final Fantasy games." Lapis answered back. "I will get the game. Get ready for a show in skill!"

Pearl laughed lightly. “Thank you, Lapis. I don’t know what I would do without you.”

"And I thank you for existing, Hot Patootie." Lapis blew a kiss to the now blushing Gem. "I'll be right back."

As Lapis left their living room on the first floor, Pearl sighed.

‘I won’t let anything hurt you. If Rose Quartz is trying to somehow trick us, she will pay for her mistake with her life.’

 

---

 

“We might not agree with you, but I can respect your decision.” Garnet said to the Shatter Stars, one month later. “Although, I should warn you that Steven will have some questions regarding you on his future.”

"It doesn't really matter." Pearl shrugged. "If we need to get in contact, we will. If the boy happens to be there when we do, then we can talk to him. Right, Lapis?"

The Blue Gem beside her gave her a nod, staring at the Crystal Temple’s door. “Yeah. Besides, we might need to go inside to get more of your things.”

Pearl gave her companion a half hug. “Always so adorably considerate. Thank you.”

“I assume you both will be going now?” The fusion asked. “We do have plans to make a proper human house connected to this temple, so Steven can have both of his human and Gem necessities. Perhaps you would like to help?”

The pale Gem exchanged a look with Lapis. “What do you think?”

“As long as we can go away from here after, I won't mind. I just want to keep a healthy distance from that annoying Quartz, and the fact that she isn’t here right now is a true blessing.” The Blue Gem flatly answered.

The Shatter Stars ended up reviewing the housing project, which Pearl made some corrections and suggestions. By the time they were done with it, Greg and Amethyst decided to appear.

“Oh no. The gloomy party is here to ruin the mood.” The purple Gem said as she gestured at Lapis. “How fun. I already feel like slitting my wrists just by looking at her.”

Lapis sneered. “Oh, look at that. The Dumb and Dumber all wrapped into one just had to grace us with her appearance. Well done, you can have an imaginary cookie for the effort.”

“Why you!” Amethyst gave a step towards the Blue Gem when Garnet blocked her path. “Let me at her, G!”

“No fighting, remember Amethyst?” The fusion said. “We have a treaty.”

The purple Gem groaned. Lapis snickered.

“We will be going now.” Pearl said. “Do try to follow the project. You really don’t need an accident with this house.”

With that, the Shatter Stars left.

 

---

 

In the following years, Pearl and Lapis appeared rarely to the Crystal Gems.

Sometimes, when Garnet would contact them asking for backup against a particular corrupted Gem or another, they would go to offer them some assistance, but mostly, they just scoffed and said it wasn’t their problem.

During all this time, the young boy, Steven, always asked questions about his mysterious ‘aunts’ he never met, especially when anything was remotely related to the elusive Pearl.

He would dream about her, and he would wake up crying, confused, in pain, feeling something akin to the eerie sensation that he was somehow missing her, but how could he, when he never even met her?

Those confusing thoughts would plague his mind just as much as the thoughts related to his own deceased mother.

In a way, Steven felt like Pearl herself was his mother.

Luckily, fate was just as mysterious and it worked in such unexpected ways, and he ended up meeting her years later when he least expected.

The start of the complex friendship between Pearl of the Shatter Stars and the innocent child of her worst enemy, Steve Quartz Universe, from the Crystal Gems, would just begin.

 

Chapter Text

 

“I don’t know why we even have to invite those party poopers!” Amethyst complained as she opened the fridge, grabbing the first thing on her way and just putting it in her mouth.

"Amethyst, we have already been over this." Garnet sighed. "And please, do not eat all the ice."

The purple Gem swallowed and looked at the fusion. “Too late, G. Anyways, you know they will ignore us like the last ten thousand attempts that we made in all those years.”

“You know this isn’t entirely true.” Garnet crossed her arms. “They both helped us a few times.”

“Yeah! When it was something useful to them that they could bring into their love nest, or whatever they do on that moon all alone!” Amethyst exclaimed, feeling annoyed. “Like, why the hell would they even want to help us?”

Garnet walked to her still grumbling friend and placed a hand on her shoulder, making the smaller Gem look up to her. "They will take interest this time. We're bringing Steven."

Instead of reassuring her friend, the fusion made her scoff. “Steven can barely summon his shield, and last time we were lucky he didn’t get hurt against that Centipeetle, and don’t let me even get started on that giant eyeball thingy.”

“The Red Eye was destroyed by Steven timely use Rose’s Light Cannon, and Steven surpassed our expectations regarding the Centipeetle, which means he is ready to receive a test of his own.” The fusion remarked. “The Lunar Sea Spire is a simple mission. We just need to retrieve the Moon Goddess statue from a corrupted Gem and by the time we go back, he will be here to meet us.”

“Ugh! Garnet, you’re missing the part where Lapis and Pearl won’t want to join us!”

“No, I’m not. Listen, they will want to join us for this mission since the Sea Spire will get Lapis attention.” Garnet smiled. “She will want to help us so it could remain standing, and Pearl will join in to make her happy.”

Amethyst rolled her eyes. “Yeah, they do suck it up to each other. Those weirdos.” The purple Gem walked to the Temple’s door. “We better just call them already.”

Garnet nodded and entered the temple with her friend.

When they reached Pearl’s old room, they both sighed.

“I still miss her, G.” The purple gem quietly said. “It always sucked how she would get on my case all the time, but right now… There’s this empty space and it sucks even harder.”

“I miss her too, Amethyst.” The fusion jumped on the water platform, going to the stone pillar they had constructed with her missing friend help. “But she wasn’t happy here. We need to respect her space and the only thing we can do is reach out when the opportunity arises.”

The purple Gem joined her taller friend on the platform. “Still sucks, and now that she is on the moon, she has literally all the space around her.”

Garnet opened her mouth for a moment but closed it.

It would be better to not answer this.

The fusion touched the electronic device on the pillar. The device itself was small, the size of a common book, filled with complicated parts that surely took quite some time for Pearl to make it on her own.

‘She really put an effort into making something to allow us to communicate with each other. She cares enough about us to leave this possibility open.’

Garnet pressed the button and waited, staring at the small monitor.

After five minutes, which was spent with Amethyst either complaining or trying to grab anything that their missing friend left around, a familiar face appeared on the screen.

“Greetings, Crystal Gems.” Pearl said as Lapis face appeared at her side, looking at them neutrally. “What is the purpose of this call?”

“Hello, Shatter Stars.” The fusion answered. “We are calling to ask you both for assistance on a mission.”

Lapis rolled her eyes, already walking away. “Not interested.”

“The place in question is the Lunar Sea Spire.”

As Garnet said those words, Lapis pivoted and returned to the screen. “The Lunar Sea Spire? What’s happening there?”

“We are simply going to return the Moon Goddess statue to its place on the Spire, however, it is likely that the place is overrun by other creatures, and there is another matter.” Behind Garnet’s visor, her eyes closed. “Steven is coming with us. We want him to observe our actions on the field.”

The Shatter Stars eyed each other, frowning at the Crystal Gems.

They seemed conflicted.

"A moment, if you please." Pearl said as she walked with her friend off-screen.

The Crystal Gems could not hear what they were talking. Pearl probably had muted their voices on her side of the communicator, and since they weren’t on screen, neither Amethyst or Garnet could try to read their lips.

However, the fusion didn’t need to use her future sight or anything else but her patience to reach her goal.

A few moments later, the Shatter Stars returned. Pearl and Lapis were frowning but apparently seemed resigned. “We accept your invitation on the condition that the Lunar Sea Spire will be ours. The Crystal Gems cannot enter it without our permission, just like the Sky Arena.”

“Agreed.” Garnet said. “We shall retrieve the statue and you both should be here precisely in two hours. Until then, stay safe.”

“You too, Garnet. Farewell.”

With that, they ended the call.

"You know, G, we can't go around giving them all of our Gem places and other Gem stuff." Amethyst complained. "They need to respect us, and buying their help won't really change anything. I still don't get why Rose gave away the Sky Arena to Pearl, to begin with!"

"Rose probably meant it as an apology, even if Pearl doesn't care for it." Garnet said as she left the room, accompanied by her short friend. "Also, after this, I don't think we will need to make any exchanges for their help."

The purple Gem facepalmed. "Oh geez! Your future sight showed you this, right?"

Garnet nodded.

They both walked to the Warp Pad, Amethyst already smirking. “Well then, let’s get this show on the road.”

Both Gems activated the Warp Pad and teleported away from the Crystal Temple.

 

---

 

After two hours tracking, defeating the corrupted Gem and acquiring the artifact, Amethyst and Garnet finally returned home, covered in feathers.

“Welp, I just had to break that bird’s egg while getting the damn statue. Figures.” Amethyst muttered.

“Lapis and Pearl should be here soon, I will talk to Steven about it.” Garnet said as she walked to the door, counting to five.

One. Amethyst and her willed the remaining feathers of their forms.

Two. The purple Gem opened the fridge.

Three. Amethyst grabbed the milk carton.

Four. She put it on her mouth, drinking it entirely.

Five. The door opens, and an excited adolescent boy entered the room, carrying a card box package, freshly delivered from the mail.

"You're both back!" Then, he looked around the feathers on the room. "Uh, why there are feathers all around us? Were you both pillow fighting?"

Garnet laughed and she gently picked the young boy up. “No Steven, but we have good news for you.”

Steven smiled from one ear to the other, already excited. “Ohhh! What is it?”

“We would like to invite you to follow us in a mission.”

Steven's eyes shined brightly, almost like a pair of stars. "A MISSION? WITH YOU GUYS? YEAH!"

‘He is so happy… However, I still need to tell him about the Shatter Stars… Here we go.’

“There is something else, Steven.” The fusion said as she put the boy on the floor. “The Shatter Stars are going to accompany us.”

Steven stopped in his tracks for a moment. He frowned for a moment, apparently trying to remember where he had listened to this particular name when he suddenly realized what Garnet meant.

“No way! You mean-!”

Suddenly, the door to the house brusquely opened, and the Crystal Gems all turned their attention to the newcomers.

“Lapis Lazuli and Pearl…” Steven said in awe. “I… I…”

“We’re here, Crystal Gems.” Lapis said as she walked into the house. She spared a glance at Steven direction which turned into a glare as soon as the boy tried to smile at her. “Ugh, let’s just get this over with.”

“Oh…” The dark-haired boy deflated for a moment at the unfriendly tone the Blue Gem used.

Following close behind Lapis, Steven saw the person he wanted to see the most.

Pearl.

“Wow…” He could not help but stand in awe at Pearl’s elegance. “You are really amazing!”

“Hm?” The pale Gem seemed to just have noticed his presence, staring at him. “Oh. It’s you.”

Before Steven could even express his confusion, he was hit by another glare, but different from Lapis who was clearly scowling at him, Pearl seemed more cautious, as if she was trying to decide if he was a threat or not.

“Pearl… I… I-”

“Yo lets go!” Amethyst cut Steven words off as she dragged the boy away from the Shatter Stars.

"The faster we do this, the faster we both can be away from your stench, your runt." Lapis grunted at the purple Gem. "Don't you ever clean up?"

Amethyst growled at the smirking Blue Gem’s direction. “Shut up, you annoying emo douchebag.”

Lapis just crossed her arms, smirking. “Nah.”

“We do have a timed schedule, Lapis.” Pearl gently said as she caressed the Blue Gem’s hair locks, making her friend sigh. “Be nice.”

“Ugh, the things I do for you.” Lapis said as she blushed, which intensified when Pearl kissed her cheek.

“Steven.” Garnet called the boy. He turned to her. “Here is the Moon Goddess Statue. We need to place it on the top of the Lunar Sea Spire until midnight, or else the entire structure will come down. Think you can handle this task?”

“No problem!” Steven said excitedly. “Oh, I forgot to show you this!”

“Hm?”

The boy placed the box on the floor and proceed to open it. When he did, he took from the Styrofoam what seemed to be a giant cheeseburger-like canvas bag. “This is my new novelty bag! The Cheeseburger Backpack!”

“…What?” Lapis left eye twitched.

"Oh, uh…" Steven was slightly taken aback yet again by the Blue Gem's tone, but he recovered fast from it, resuming his excitement. "This is such a cool backpack that is shaped like a cheeseburger! It has so many pockets! Even the cheese is a pocket! I can fit anything in it!"

The Blue Gem scoffed. “Except self-respect, apparently.”

Before the other Gems could say anything to Lapis, Pearl interfered. “Lapis, play nice with them. Remember what we talked back home?”

The Blue Gem groaned. Pearl hugged her for a moment and Lapis flushed again. “Fine.”

Steven observed them and he looked slightly sad.

‘I can't allow him to lose his motivation’ Garnet thought. ‘I need to keep him focused.’

“Steven, perhaps you can fill this Cheeseburger Backpack with items that might help us in our mission.” The fusion smiled at him. “Would you care to help?”

The boy turned his attention to the fusion and smiled back. “Of course! Wait a minute! I will bring all of the supplies!”

‘Ah, Steven… I hope you don't try too hard to win them over. You probably will get hurt.'

 

---

 

‘Rose Quartz’s spawn is almost as irritating as the defective Amethyst.’ Lapis thought as she observed the young human wander from one place of the house to the other. ‘I really wanted to just strangle it. Why is he wasting all of our time with this nonsense? Stupid kid.’

However, she had promised Pearl that she wouldn’t try to kill Steven or the Crystal Gems, even if they acted like morons, which means, as they normally do.

‘But this thing takes the cake. I cannot see any way for me to stand his presence more than what is necessary.’

“Little Lappy.” Pearl discreetly whispered to her friend. “Steven is putting so many unnecessary things on his backpack, if he keeps like this, we might lose track of our mission.”

“You tell me, Hot Patootie.” Lapis also whispered back. “I bet he will bring every damn thing except the statue, at this rate.”

“Hm… Good point.” Pearl muttered even lower. “Perhaps I can bring it myself so to not waste everyone’s time by an eventual failure?”

Lapis nodded at her and the two Gems whispered back a little more between themselves. They both walked up the stairs, finding the excited boy placing even a teddy bear on his backpack.

“What are you doing?” Pearl politely asked. “I’m not trying to be rude, but we have a time limit for this particular situation, so if you would please hurry up, it would be appreciated.”

“Oh, I…” The boy seemed startled at Pearl’s sudden close presence, and at the fact she was directly talking to him. “I…I see. Ok...”

‘Ugh, look at this moron. He had to drop the statue while he put that plush thing on his useless backpack. Luckily, I’m here.’

Lapis discreetly picked the statue up and hid it in her Gem, without any of the Crystal Gems noticing anything.

“Do you have everything ready?” Lapis asked. “Is the statue with you?”

Steven nodded, feeling so much sure that he was carrying the statue on his backpack.

‘How amusing.’

“Then, let’s go already.”

Steven, Lapis, and Pearl jumped off the stairs and reached the other Gems on the Warp Pad.

They finally were able to teleport to their intended location.

 

---

 

‘I already dislike this annoying brat.’ Lapis thought as she observed the human jump up into place, excited with the imposing Gem structure of the Lunar Sea Spire. ‘I cannot wait to be finally rid of his presence.’

After all, nothing that comes from Rose Quartz is good. She was an abusive, manipulative liar. A monster disguised as a hero. Nothing but a spoiled, selfish brat of a Gem who only cared about herself and Lapis Lazuli was completely sure that Steven would be no different from his creator.

‘If he is actually a hybrid as Pearl seems to believe. He could very well be Rose Quartz trying yet another way to mess with everyone’s heads.’

She wasn’t buying this story. This thing that calls itself Steven was just another Rose Quartz trick in the Blue Gem’s eyes. She would not let her guard down around him… Her… It.

“Careful, Steven.” She heard the fusion alert the supposed human. “There’s a gravity pull that will bring us down if we tried to simply jump into the Spire’s interior, not to mention, there is a lot of structural instability.”

‘Unfortunately.’

“Cool! I know how we can reach the Spire!” Steven said as he opened his Cheeseburger Backpack, picking up two large sweaters and tying one sleeve into the other. “Watch me!”

Without any further delay, the boy threw one sleeve across a diamond-shaped hole on the spire, pulling into them and jumping towards one of the many openings on the structure.

“STEVEN!” Garnet and Amethyst shouted, startled at his sudden action, and even more so when the boy jumped to the Spire.

‘Come on… Fall down to your death already.’ Lapis morbidly thought. ‘Let’s get rid of Rose Quartz once and for all…’

But to the Blue Gem chagrin, Steven managed to use the two sweaters to climb the Spire’s walls and safely reach its interior.

“Way to go, Steven!” The purple Gem exclaimed as she summoned her whip and used it to wrap on the diamond hole, grabbing Garnet and Pearl, jumping just like Steven had previously done.

“Oh, for the sky’s sake!” Lapis scoffed as she simply made a bridge of solid water to the Spire, bracing her body for the gravity pull, but she was used to it from all her times going in and out from her Moon Base.

She crossed it flawlessly, taking care to hold on her Shatter Star pin, so it wouldn’t fall down as she was walking to the Spire.

As she entered the tower, she was immediately met by Amethyst scowl and Steven impressed look. "Wow! You can control the water? You are amazing!"

Lapis rolled her eyes and pushed the boy away from her. “Respect my personal space.”

“Oh, I’m sorry…” Steven stepped back. “I was just-”

“Whatever.” The Blue Gem waved him off, not caring for whatever he might have said. “Let’s keep moving.”

Steven was left speechless. Pearl approached him. “Good job.”

“Uh?” The boy turned to the pink-haired Gem but she walked away before he could answer her.

However, Steven seemed happy.

Lapis frowned.

‘It doesn’t deserve to be around anyone, especially Pearl.’

 

---

 

"This place is really falling apart..." Lapis muttered as they all walked up the stairs. "Such a sad sight. I hope we can fix everything, Pearl."

“Leave that to me. I will be sure to clean our Spire as soon as we are done with them.” The pale Gem muttered back at her friend, gesturing at the Crystal Gems. “The inside is even worse than the outside, though, and it really makes me feel quite disappointed just by looking at this mess.”

"Hey, what are you talking about?" Steven runs over to the Shatter Stars. "Is it a secret?"

“Nothing that concerns you, brat.” Lapis growled at the child, who flinched. “Now back off.”

“Hey! Stop being an A-hole, you rude smurf!” Amethyst snarled at the Blue Gem. “He only made you a question!”

“And I answered it, your mentally challenged imbecile.” Lapis snarled back. “Get out of my sight before I decide to annihilate you.”

“Both of you, that’s enough!” Pearl stepped between the two squabbling Gems. “We don’t have time for any unnecessary discussions. The entire Spire is unstable without the Moon Goddess statue, and while we are here, everything is about to fall apart around us.”

Lapis sighed in exasperation, kicking a small rock away. “Fine.”

“And you,” Pearl turned towards the boy. “I know you’re curious, but please keep your questions to yourself until we can guarantee this building integrity.”

“O…Ok.” Steven whispered.

“Good.” The pale Gem said as she walked away with Lapis.

The Shatter Stars and the Crystal Gems walked together in silence. Steven wouldn’t stop staring at Pearl’s direction, even if he was trying to be discreet about it.

They passed a statue of a fusion, but Lapis quickly noticed the presence of what seemed to be some kind of slug-like creatures sliding around it.

“Hm. Crystal shrimps.” Pearl unamused said. “Apparently the last century made them grow even further in size. I wonder if there is more of them.”

“Yes, it is. Check this out P.” Amethyst said from the top of the stairs. “There’s like, a lot of them over here.”

The other Gems reached where Amethyst was standing and Lapis rolled her eyes.

‘Of course, it would be an infestation. Let me just kill those things.’

With a snap of her fingers, a portion of the water around the Lunar Sea Spire reacted to her command and immediately turned into the shape of many, solid ice stalagmites. Lapis brought her hand down, and the stalagmites violently impaled all of the crystal shrimps, making them emit dying sounds and a red substance similar to human blood gush out from their fatal wounds, covering most of the area.

“There. They are all dead, now we can safely cross this.” The Blue Gem said as she reached the other side of the room. When she noticed that no one was following her, she turned around. “What now?”

Garnet and Amethyst were hugging the now very shocked Steven, who was trembling on the spot, his mouth hanging open and not emitting any sound.

“Steven! Please snap out of it!” Amethyst pleaded.

“Steven, please, say something!” Garnet seemed nervous and shook him, apparently trying to get any reaction from the still scared teenager.

“Allow me.” Pearl said as she approached the teen and firmly stared at him.

‘Hm. What she will do?’

“Listen to me carefully. They are dead. It was either them or us and what is done is done, so you can either deal with your fear by going to next area and finishing what we were meant to do here or just go back home without accomplishing anything and cry about what you witnessed." Then, the pink-haired Gem placed her hand on Steven's shoulder, gently cleaning his crying face with her thumb. "So, what will it be, Steven?"

The boy swallowed and gave the pale Gem a tiny nod. "L-Lets keep going."

"Good. Here, let me make this easier for you." Pearl said as she scooped him up in her arms and carried him to the other side. When she reached it, she let him down from her grasp. "There. Now we can finally go to the top and you didn't dirty your sandals with any of the creature's remains."

“T-Thanks” Steven shyly said, giving the pink-haired Gem a timid smile.

Lapis rolled her eyes. ‘Pearl shouldn’t be playing its thing’s game. She is making a mistake; this thing will only try to hurt us in the long run.’

“Way to go, P.” Amethyst run to them and gave the pale Gem a slap on her back.

This prompted a baffled reaction and Pearl’s indignant shout. “AMETHYST! Stop that!”

Garnet smiled and joined the other Gems. Lapis was fuming the purple Gem with her eyes.

‘How dare her just slap Pearl’s perfect body! I will make her pay as soon as we leave this place.’

The Gems had walked into another area, when one of the room’s walls broke down and an intense wave of water came out of it, blocking their path, and forming a ‘river’.

‘So annoying.’ Lapis snapped her fingers again and the water immediately froze up.

“Now we can cross it. It might be slippery, but you can all handle it, I don’t really care either way.” The Blue Gem flatly stated. “Come with me, Pearl.”

The Shatter Stars held hands and walked away together, crossing the water bridge without any difficulty. The Crystal Gems followed them soon after, even if they had to help Steven to cross it.

When they met each other on the other side, they kept going up the stairs in silence. After some time, they finally reached the top of the Lunar Sea Spire.

“It is already close to midnight.” Lapis sighed. “The statue. Now.”

“Ok!” Steven opened his backpack.  “Now where it is…”

Lapis bit her lips, trying her best to not laugh at the boy’s increasing distress.

‘I will enjoy this so much.’

“I CAN’T FIND IT!” Steven shouted. “I MUST HAVE LEFT IT BACK HOME!”

Lapis sneered. “You would… If I hadn’t taken measures to make sure the mission would be a success.”

Steven seemed perplexed for a moment, while Lapis summoned the Moon Goddess statue out of her Gem.

“Hey! If you had it with you all along, why did you ask me about it?” The boy whined.

“Because I enjoy seeing you being humiliated.” The Blue Gem smirked. “You traded the statue for a stupid toy. I merely picked it up after you said that you had it, just how useless you are?”

Garnet immediately run and stopped right in front of the Blue Gem, grabbing her by the top of her collar line. “Enough! You have no right to say any of this when you aren’t doing anything that you were supposed to do. Instead of gloating over a child mistake, you should just place the statue on the pedestal and stop wasting everyone’s time.”

“How dare you-!“

Pearl threw herself between the two Gems, separating them from each other. "We don't have time for this! Lapis, just place the Moon Goddess statue on the pedestal right now."

Lapis opened her mouth but she closed it as soon as she did. Grumbling, she placed the Moon Goddess statue on the pedestal and a very bright light was emitted.

The ground shook, and the entire tower glowed.   A beam of light shot up to the sky, illuminating the entire area, almost like a beacon, but after a minute, it subsided and the tower started to automatically repair itself.

“We’re done here, Crystal Chumps.” Lapis sneered at the Crystal Gems. “You can get out of our Lunar Sea Spire.”

Amethyst gave a step towards the Blue Gem's direction but was held back by Steven. "Wait, let me try talking to her."

The boy walked to Lapis. “Please, don’t make us leave so suddenly! There’s so much I want to ask both of you!”

He closed his eyes, and tears fell across his cheeks.

“There’s so much that I want to say to you, Pearl…”

‘As if we would waste time with the likes of you-’

Pearl walked to the crying teenager and kneeled on the floor. She gently gave the boy a pat on his head. “You did a good job following us, Steven. There shall be other opportunities for you to prove your worth. Don’t beat yourself too much about it.”

‘What?’

“Y-You really mean that?” The boy tentatively whispered. “W-We will see each other again?”

"Yes, we probably will." The pale Gem sighed. "Listen, we really are tired right now, and the three of you should leave us to our own assessment of the area. We will contact you later when we are ready."

“Ok!” Steven spontaneously hugged the pink-haired Gem, who immediately flinched at his action. “Thank you, mom-I mean, Pearl!”

Pearl awkwardly pushed the teenager away from her. “...You’re welcome, Steven.”

‘WHAT!’

Lapis pursed her lips, turning her gaze away from Steven and the pale Gem. After a few moments, when Pearl politely sends the Crystal Gems off the building, Lapis finally exclaimed when their ‘neighbors' left. "Can you please explain to me why did you even bother to answer that thing's irritating set of questions?"

“The Crystal Gems are essentially our respected rivals, Lapis.” Pearl said as she noticed that the roof of the building seemed completely restored by the Moon Goddess statue influence. “I don’t wish to antagonize them too much without a good reason, especially when we had something to lose if they somehow ended up carried away by any discussions we might provoke while mocking them.”

"I know you have a point, but…" Lapis clenched her fists. "The hybrid or whatever is that thing's definition was taking too many liberties toward us, and we can never be too careful when Rose Quartz toxicity is involved."

The pink-haired Gem embraced her friend, kissing the top of her head. “You are such a kind being, Little Lappy. I’m so lucky to have you in my life.”

“Uh, t-thanks…” Lapis flushed deeply at her friend’s compliment and affectionate behavior. “I’m just trying to look out for our safety. I don’t want you to be hurt by anything that that hybrid might attempt.”

"So gentle. Don't be worried about me, even if Steven happened to be Rose Quartz trying to fool us, I can guarantee that I am far more dangerous to her than her to me." Pearl caressed her friend's cheek. "I'm pretty sure that Steven is just an obnoxious, simple-minded half Gem, half human child. The only thing that he can do is test our patience with his incessant questions and lack of common sense."

“Tell me about it.” The Blue Gem groaned. “And that purple imbecile just had to slap your body as if she had any right to it. I swear I will make her pay for her stupidity.”

Pearl rolled her eyes and nodded. “Amethyst vulgarity never ceases to amaze me. It only increases each opportunity she gets. I admit that I’m beautiful, but I never liked this kind of a joke even when I was a Crystal Gem, and right now, it was very disrespectful of her.”

The pale Gem exchanged a look with her friend. "If she does anything like that again, it won't be just you that Amethyst will have to deal with, but me and my Black Dagger on her form. Maybe then she would understand that we gave her no liberty to play her antics on us, since merely saying on the last ten times wasn't enough for her stubborn mind."

Lapis hugged the taller Gem and kissed her neck, making Pearl shiver in reflex. "I'm glad we think the same regarding this. I wasn't looking forward to being perceived as weird, in case my reaction somehow bothered you."

“Don’t you ever worry about it, Supreme Leader.” Pearl said as she walked away. “Now, I know the tower is already repairing itself, but I really have this itch to organize this place. Do you want to come with me or do you wish to stay here?”

“Of course I will go with you, don’t be silly.” Lapis chuckled. “Now, lets clean this place up.”

Both Gems laughed as they took the stairs down.

It would take an awful amount of time, even if they both cleaned and organize everything together, but for the hours they spend in each other company, it was nothing short of a joyful experience.

 

---

 

“Ah, thank the stars that we are back!” Lapis exclaimed as she took a seat on their couch. “Wanna see something on Netflix? Or maybe we can watch some cat videos on Youtube. It’s up to you.”

"I'm fine with either option, Lapis." Pearl tiredly whispered as she let her body relax on the couch's comfortable surface. "Although I am more inclined to see cat videos. They are amusing to witness and your reactions always make me smile."

“Oh, stop being so cute.” Lapis playfully hugged her friend very tired form. “Ok, cat videos then!”

They spent an hour watching, smiling and enjoying each other company in front of their hacked plasma tv. When Lapis noticed that Pearl was tiredly dozing off, she took her into her arms and carried her to their bed, gently letting her friend’s gorgeous body rest.

‘She is really cute, especially when she is so relaxed.’ The Blue Gem swooned as she observed Pearl sleep. ‘I wonder what she is dreaming of?’ 

As ironic as it would be, Pearl's Gem shone and Lapis could take a glimpse over what her friend was dreaming about.

Normally, Pearl isn’t one to have dreams, but the few times that the Blue Gem happened to caught sight of her friend’s dream projection, it was generally Pearl dancing, stabbing Rose Quartz Gem until she turned to dust or her singing.

However, this time, the dream would be different.

Pearl was dancing, but she was dancing with someone, and that person, that Gem was no one other than Lapis.

‘This dance… Is this a waltz?’ The Blue Gem thought as she observed her friend dance away with her on her dream. ‘We look so happy…’

Pearl was really relaxed, giggling and having so much fun with her. Lapis smiled from one ear to the other.

‘Stars. How much I adore this wonderful Gem.’ Lapis blissfully thought as she lay by her friend’s side and hugged her as gently as she could. ‘You’re my home. I’m so glad I have you in my life.’

With a kiss on the pink-haired Gem’s cheek, Lapis let herself relax.

The slumber was a pleasantly relaxing experience. Not even Rose Quartz little spawn would be able to ruin her happiness right now.

‘I adore you, Pearl. You’re wonderful.’

She closed her eyes, and then, Lapis also joined her friend on her world of dreams.

 

---

 

Meanwhile, a happy teenager was smiling to himself, without being able to sleep.

‘Pearl was so nice to me… She is so smart and cool. I wished I was like her.’ The dark-haired boy smiled even further. ‘She is amazing. Just like I imagined she would be…’

Steven didn’t know much about his mysterious aunts, but he was determined to change this.

No matter what, he would do his best to have both elusive Gems in his life. He could feel in his bones that unmistakable truth.

Closing his eyes, he dreamed about them, a dream filled with dancing, joy and a sense of belonging.

‘Mom… My mom that I never met…’ Was his last thoughts towards Pearl before he truly slumbered away into the night, losing his awareness.

The young teen would meet his lost, projected mother figure again. Sooner than what he would expect, he would meet both Gems, and he would have more opportunities to talk to them.

Chapter Text

 

The Shatter Stars walked around the Lunar Sea Spire inner sanctum. Since the tower was now, fully restored after two weeks of organizing everything and killing any remaining crystal shrimps, they could finally access the most secluded area of the spire.

“I highly doubt we will be able to acquire anything useful from the main computer. I mean, any data is probably corrupted after five thousand years of being neglected.” Pearl said as she took a seat at the small stool of the computer, already typing away commands on the holographic screen. “However, it doesn’t hurt to be sure.”

After a couple of moments, Pearl’s commands seemed to finally start the computer. The screen increased its glow and lines and lines of gem code filled the screen. It wasn’t anything that Pearl couldn’t handle, so she could easily navigate through it, and it also made her proud of herself each time that Lapis sighed in awe at her side.

“You are a genius, Hot Patootie.” The Blue Gem said as she gave her best friend a tap on her head. “I don’t understand a word of what you wrote, and it is in our Gem language. Thank the sky that you’re here.”

Pearl smiled and gave her friend a smug look. “Yeah, I’m awesome. Praise me!”

Both Gems laughed. Their moment was interrupted when the screen finally showed the last thing it had broadcasted, and from the looks of it, during the Gem war.

It was a recorded video. On this video, an old enemy seemed to be discussing to a high number of Gem troops, particularly, her Nephrite troops.

“Oh dear… It’s her…” Pearl trailed off, resting her chin on the palm of her hand. “Hessonite.”

“Wow, a very high-ranking Gem. That we don’t see every day.” Lapis raised an eyebrow. “I assume from your reaction that you have already met this particular one, am I right?”

Pearl nodded. “Correct. She was quite the enemy. We crossed blades many times, and while we never had the opportunity to finish each other off, she had skills that were superior to my own, even if it was by a close margin.”

“Damn, she was better than you at sword fighting?” Lapis raised both of her eyebrows, seemly impressed and baffled at her best friend’s words. “She would destroy me in combat then, at least if we are solely talking about sword fighting. I still think she would be no match for my hydrokinesis.”

"You are probably right, but remember what I have told you, never be too much overconfident in combat. She was so fast that it might have surprised you and could catch you unaware. She is, after all, a Hessonite. Never take them lightly." The pink-haired Gem gently chastised Lapis. "Now, let me try to recover the audio of this video."

Pearl tapped a few more commands on the screen and made use of her hacking skills even further, finally being able to access the lost audio and add it to the video.

‘Now, lets us hear and see what Hessonite wanted to say to her troops.’

The pale Gem restarted the video.

"Listen to me, all of you! I come forward to announce we are retreating from Earth. The Diamond Authority finally decided to personally make those traitorous Gems pay for their insolence since they are becoming even bolder in their attacks. They managed to take my Prism from me and destroyed half of the Sky Arena in their last assault. If things keep escalating further, they might feel emboldened enough to try to attack one of our other colonies and their disruptive ideas might encourage other Gems into following those twisted beliefs."

Hessonite opened both of her arms, clenching her fists in anger.

 "Therefore, is with a heavy heart that I was ordered to sound the retreat of any of our forces on this planet. We are to regroup at the planet Mars immediately after the troops leave Earth. We aren't going to be able to wait for everyone, so you are to make sure your subordinates make out of this disgusting planet in time for the evacuation order. With that being said, you all are to immediately gather your troops and leave as fast as you can manage. Dismissed!"

The recording abruptly ended.

Pearl frowned. “Hm… They had actually attempted to warn their troops of the Diamond’s attack, at least…”

“From the sheer number of corrupted Gems this planet seemed to have, I can safely assume that not every platoon had succeeded in their retreat, am I right?” The blue-haired Gem inquired. “They probably hadn’t much time after the order was issued.”

“Correct. The Crystal Gems were attacking some of their troops at the Strawberry Battlefield when the attack happened. Rose Quartz only had the time to grab me and Garnet to stand behind a massive version of her shield before that bright light and eerie song covered the entire world.” Pearl sighed. “After the attack, every Gem that wasn’t protected by Rose’s shield turned into monsters and started to either fight among themselves or try to kill us. We had no option but running away from the area.”

Lapis rested her hands on her friend's shoulders, giving her a massage so to soothe her muscles. "But if the attack engulfed the entire planet, doesn't mean that no matter where you could have gone, the corrupted Gems would be there to engage you all into battle?"

The pale Gem turned her head to her friend. "Indeed. Luckily for us, we eventually managed to reach a secluded place, after only battling a dozen of those beasts. It was then that we decided to fight and bubble the corrupted Gems until we could figure out another way of dealing with what was made to them. However, after thousands of years, we couldn't find a cure for what ails those poor creatures."

"You don't need to feel that bad, Pearl." Lapis kissed her friend's cheek. "I highly doubt anyone but the Diamonds knows how to cure them if a cure is even possible at this point."

“Ah Lapis, you’re so sweet. Thanks for being such a darling to me.” Pearl whispered as she returned her attention to the screen. “Now, let me try to acquire any remaining information from this device, so we can properly decide what we can relay to our ‘neighbors’, or if we should tell them anything at all.”

The Shatter Stars kept scouring the database for any information, noticing that most of it were either fragmented or somehow related to Hessonite's presence on Earth. It wasn't a surprise to Pearl. They were on the Lunar Sea Spire, a place where aristocratic Gems would often discuss among themselves and with high-ranking military commanders the proper course of action they were to make in their invasion. It wasn’t anything new, so most of the information on the Lunar Sea Spire seemed related to those incursions.

After hours of searching, Pearl and Lapis were both satisfied with their results, copying their acquired data to a small cylinder-like device used to store and project information, with the pink-haired Gem already planning what she would tell the Crystal Gems and what she would omit.

‘I’m not going to say everything to them, especially if Steven or whatever that supposed hybrid was supposed to be is present. He was too much of an unpredictable player in this equation.’ Pearl thought. ‘For all that I know, Lapis could be right, although I find unlikely that he is actually Pink Diamond. However, he might be unconsciously be doing her bidding without knowing anything at all, which has a high probability of being the truth. I have to be careful around him.’

 

---

 

“Greetings, Shatter Stars.” Garnet said as she answered the communicator. “It has been quite some time since we last seen each other. Have you both been able to discover anything at the Lunar Sea Spire?”

“Indeed we have, Crystal Gems.” Pearl lazily stretched her arms, earning Amethyst curious attention. The pale Gem rolled her eyes. “Amethyst, could you please not act as if you never seen me, it’s creeping me out.”

The purple Gem was startled for a moment, suddenly feeling uncomfortable. “Ah! Sorry! My bad!”

Lapis laughed, giving her friend a high five. “Nice one, C.O.L.D. captain.”

Pearl gave her friend a smirk, giggling behind the tips of her fingers.

"As amusing as this situation is, we have called you to report that we managed to retrieve some information stored in the Lunar Sea Spire inner sanctum. If you wish, we can come to your headquarters and show you what we discovered." The pale Gem said as she twirled a hair lock between her fingers. "What do you both have to say about that?"

Garnet seemed to think for a moment before shrugging her shoulders. “You both can come anytime you want. Although I must warn you that Steven is here with a guest.”

“I don’t care. We will discuss our findings today. Be ready to welcome us.”

With that, the Shatter Stars ended the call.

"Good job calling out that runt's rude behavior. She can't keep treating you as she did in the past. That's the only way she will understand that you have changed." Lapis praised her pink-haired Gem friend. "Also, what can we say to those chumps and what we will omit?"

“I believe we should show them Hessonite’s recording and talk about the Prism inverted pyramid. However, we should leave out anything else.” Pearl remarked as she raised from her chair and took the cylinder storying the needed information. “We still need to decode the fragmented archives we have found and decide what we can use to our benefit and what we can trade up with the Crystal Gems."

“If you say so. I honestly don’t care for any of it, but if you think it might be useful, then I will support your decision.” Lapis said as she turned away. “Let’s go see those morons.”

The Shatter Stars left the room.

 

---

 

“Yo, Steven, Connie!” Amethyst shouted as she approached the two teenagers playing on Steven’s videogame console. “Move your butts to the kitchen! There’s something we have to talk about.”

“Uh, then why don’t you simply say what it is right now?” Connie asked, even if she put her controller away. “I mean, do you want to show us something, Amethyst?”

“Yeah, that too, but we have to sit there to wait for the My Chemical Depression to arrive from their love nest or whatever.” The purple Gem waved her hand the teenager. “So, you better just come down.”

“…I’m not sure I’m following what you just said.” Connie seemed perplexed. “Did you mean to say ‘My Chemical Romance’ by any chance?”

“Not really, it's just that that annoying blue emo and Pearl are about to arrive and Garnet said that you both should be present to greet them, or something like that.” Amethyst shrugged. “And I’m not about to question the boss over this.”

Immediately, Steven dropped his controller and turned the game console off, rising fast from the floor and motioning excitedly to his friend. "Oh boy! Connie, Pearl's coming back! I got to make her something!"

Still bewildered by the sudden wave of information all around her, Connie awkwardly nodded. “Uh, sure, do you want me to help you or something?”

“Yeah! I want to make something nice for her! Maybe a Together Breakfast?” Steven stopped in his tracks and his expression turned sour. “Ugh, never mind. I’m still too messed up since the last time.”

“Uh, Steven, you do know that Pearl doesn’t eat at all, right?” Amethyst said as she jumped from the stairs to the kitchen counter. “Maybe you wanna try something else?”

“Oh…” The teenager looked down, apparently feeling bummed by the new information. “Wait a minute! I have an idea!”

The dark-haired boy runs to the spandrel under his staircase and opened it quickly. From the spandrel, he took what seemed to be a box of crayons and a few paper sheets. "I will make her a drawing! That surely will put a smile on her face."

Amethyst shared a worried look with Connie and gently place her hand on the boy's shoulder. "Dude, listen… It might be better to just let her alone. They seemed very stressed, and Pearl can be very salty when she is like that."

The boy turned around. “If she is salty, then I can make her become sweet by showering her with lots of love!”

“Steven, you are missing the point…” Connie tried to talk to her friend, but he was already drawing away on the paper.

“No, I’m not! Just watch me, she will love this!”

Amethyst sighed and could already feel that things wouldn’t go as the boy planned.

‘But then again, maybe Steven does need to have a wake-up call from Pearl. Perhaps it will help him in the long run… I just hope she isn't too cruel with him…'

They waited for the arrival of the elusive Gems.

 

---

 

Lapis and Pearl walked to the Crystal Temple. Pearl noticed how her best friend’s mood seemed to be souring each step they took, so to make her feel better, the pale Gem hold her hand and gently kissed her knuckles. “Don’t worry, sweet cheeks, everything will be ok. We get in, relay our information and then we can get out. It will end before you know it.”

“Only you can make me stand those morons.” Lapis answered, her mood already vastly improved as she approached the pink-haired Gem and kissed her cheek. “Let's meet those idiots and go back home as fast as we can, and then we can practice more with our swords and daggers.”

“Indeed!” Pearl delightedly nodded in agreement.

The Shatter Stars stood before the door to Steven’s house and as politely as Pearl ever was, she gently knocked on the wooden surface.

Almost immediately, an excitable boy opened the door, his eyes shining with joy. “Pearl!”

Steven jumped and hugged the pink-haired Gem in a swift movement, making her flinch on the spot and becoming speechless for a few seconds before she forcefully pushed him away from her.

“Don’t you dare to take any liberties with me.” Pearl coldly said as she glared at the now, baffled boy. “I’m not here for your enjoyment and I haven’t given you any permission to touch my body, but is no surprise you are acting this way since Amethyst over there is hardly a good example of how someone should respect each other personal space.”

“HEY! You don’t need to be rude!” The purple Gem growled at Pearl, receiving an evil smirk from both Shatter Stars. “And why are you both smirking, your weirdos?”

“Oh nothing, its just that you are a practical joke just waiting to happen.” Lapis snickered at the smaller Gem, her teethes sharp. “After all, you don’t seem to understand that getting too personal with us is not only something rude as you claim but also makes you more of a hypocrite for calling us out.”

The purple Gem seemed irritated and took a threatening step towards Lapis. “Are you trying to start a fight? C’mon, twerp, I can beat you up any time!”

“Guys, please don’t fight!” Steven begged. “I’m sorry I was rude to you, Pearl. I won’t hug you anymore without your consent, I swear!”

Pearl raised an eyebrow and sighed, giving the boy a quick tap on his head. “Good. Take this as a lesson, boy.”

With that, the pale Gem walked pass the teenager who seemed happy for her small gesture and sat on the kitchen stool, while her companion crossed her arms right by Pearl’s side.

“Now, where is Garnet?” The pink-haired Gem asked absentmindedly as she checked her nails. “It isn’t like her to leave us here waiting.”

“Well, she said she would just check something on the boiling room and she would be back.” Amethyst shrugged her shoulders.

The temple door opened and an impassively Garnet walked towards them.

Lapis scoffed. “Speaking of the devil, here she is.”

“I’m glad to meet you too, Lapis Lazuli.” The fusion evenly said. “Now, would the two of you tell us what have you find?”

Pearl nodded. “Of course. Let’s enter my old room.”

Steven jumped excitedly. “Yeah! Let's all go to Pearl’s room!”

The pink-haired Gem suddenly pivoted into place and stopped the teenager on his tracks by staring him down.

“Uh… Have I said something wrong?” Steven asked with uncertainty.

“You aren’t coming. It’s not safe for you and it definitely isn’t safe for this human.” Pearl gestured at Connie. “I will talk with Garnet and Amethyst in private, and then they can tell you whatever they deem appropriate.”

Steven excitement deflated. He lowered his head and nodded. “Ok… I see you guys when you’re done…”

“Good.” Pearl turned her attention to the temple’s door. “Come. There’s much to talk about.”

The Gems left the half human and his friend on the living room and entered Pearl's old room in the temple.

"You did great, Hot Patootie!" Lapis whispered to her friend, both of them exchanging smiles. "Now the brat won't be around to annoy us."

“I aim to please, Little Lappy.” Pearl winked.

Lapis blushed.

Garnet gave both Gems a cough to get their attention. “Shatter Stars, if you both can tell us what have you found?”

“Of course, Garnet.” Pearl summoned the cylinder where the information was stored. “Allow me to show you this little bit of information.”

The Shatter Stars silently waited for their cordial rivals to see the video.

 

---

 

“Hessonite… So, she was one of the high commanders who had issued the evacuation order. I’m surprised she would even go through the trouble.” Garnet scoffed, still eyeing Hessonites still image. “After Rose had disrupted her control over her precious Prism, the coward immediately ran away from the battlefield. I actually expected her to have abandoned Earth at this point.”

“Dude, I don’t even know who the hell is that fella, so it isn’t like this means anything to me.” Amethyst crossed her arms, already showing boredom with the information relayed. “Please tell me you got something else to us, Pearl.”

“As a matter of fact, I do have something else of relevance.” The pink-haired Gem touched the cylinder again and turned it slightly, activating another data portion. “We also have the discovered the supposed whereabouts from the last location of the Prism. It is in your best interest, as you claim, - to find it and keep it away from anyone who might use it for their own benefit.”

The fusion seemed to think for a few seconds and nodded in agreement. “Perfect and methodic as always, Pearl. This will certainly be useful to us.”

Lapis snickered. “Oh, you know, just don’t call us to deal with this particular mess. We rather stay away from any Earth mess, if you get our drift.”

Amethyst rolled her eyes. “It's not like we expected you to do anything else, you fugly douchebag.”

Lapis growled for a moment before it turned into a laugh, and she gave the purple Gem an evil smirk. “I am surprised that a neanderthal nincompoop like yourself is actually capable of expecting anything.”

"WHAT!" The purple Gem jumped towards Lapis but was interrupted by Pearl who violently shoved Amethyst away.

“Don’t ever try to attack Lapis ever again, Amethyst.” Pearl coldly sneered. “And stop trying to provoke us. It is counterproductive to our relations as neighbors.”

Amethyst opened her mouth to argue, clearly irritated, but Garnet took a hold of her shoulders. “Amethyst. That’s enough.”

“Grr… FINE!” The purple Gem pushed the fusion slightly and without any further words, she jumped over a particular water stream that would certainly bring her to her own room.

‘And she called me a dramatic.’ Pearl bitterly thought. ‘It's no wonder she is so immature. She needs to accept that her behavior is not always justified as a joke.’

“We should take our leave, and you can keep this data drive. The area location is limited to a few kilometers around the Strawberry Battlefield. I hope you both can make use of this particular information.”  Pearl said as she grabbed Lapis hand and walked away from Garnet. “Farewell.”

With a curt ‘farewell’, the fusion dismissed the Shatter Stars.

As Pearl and Lapis opened the temple’s door and entered the human portion of their headquarters.

Steven and his friend were both sitting on the couch, with Steven apparently scribbing something on a piece of paper. When he noticed their presence, the boy stood up and sprinted towards them, holding the drawing. “Pearl, Lapis! I made you something!”

‘…What?’

“Ok…” Pearl raised an eyebrow, feeling somewhat confused.

“Here, you can have it!” The teenager placed the drawing on Pearl’s hand.

‘Hm, let me see what this is about, at least…’

Steven’s drawing was a simplistic, juvenile illustration that was expected of young human children. Nothing special about it in its technique, however, the intent behind it was unmistakable.

‘Wait, this is-’

“It's me, you and Lapis holding hands!” Steven exclaimed as his eyes shined brightly.

Pearl stared at the drawing in bewilderment and against her own will, she felt a small smile curl on the corners of her mouth at the boy’s gesture.

 “…Why we have no noses? Where are our fingers?” Lapis asked, her voice tone going from perplexment to mocking. “This is completely nonsensical.”

Felling put on the spot, Steven seemed slightly embarrassed with Lapis words. “Ah, uh… I just… It's not part of my drawing style…”

The Blue Gem laughed. “I noticed the lack of proportions and anything a self-respecting artist would do without your input, thank you very much.”

Steven recoiled slightly.

“…Thank you for your drawing.” Pearl finally said as she placed the drawing on her Gem, making the teenager smile brightly and Lapis to stare at her in bafflement. “…We must go.”

Both Gems walked fast to the house’s door, and the dark-haired boy ran after them nervously. “Wait! I… When I will see you both again?”

Lapis scoffed. “I don’t know, maybe if you showed us that you aren’t a sniveling kid that can’t do anything on your on would be a start.”

Steven nodded resolutely. “I swear I will do my best! I will show you that you can count on me and then we will have to spend time together!”

Pearl stared at the teen neutrally.

She honestly wasn’t sure how to proceed.

On one hand, she had this annoying son of her enemy disturbing her peace with his never-ending questions and spoiled behavior, much akin to what his mother would do.

On the other, she had this opportunity to be away from him for an extended amount of time without the hassle of damaging the delicate relations between the Shatter Stars and the Crystal Gems as opposing factions.

‘I just have to play my cards in the right way, and this might turn into something worthy of our time. Right now, I need to make my first move on this game of his...’

“…Very well. If you manage to impress us positively in the future, I shall reward you with my company. Do we have a deal?”

The dark-haired boy nodded excitedly and offered her his hand. “Let’s shake on it!”

Pearl sighed exasperatedly but shook Steven's hand delicately. "Then it is an agreement. Farewell."

With that, the Shatter Stars silently left the building.

 

---

 

They flew to the moon wordlessly.

Lapis seemed angry.

When they entered the base and closed the door, the Blue Gem immediately spoke. "Can you please explain to me why in the world have you indulged that annoying hybrid's demands?"

“I wanted to spend a long time away from them”. Pearl awkwardly answered. “Now we have our excuse.”

"Oh, C'mon, Pearl, why do we even have to play their games?" Lapis gesticulated towards the moon base's entrance. "We have no obligation to even interact with them at all! To hell with their demands, let's just do what we want without caring for their opinion.”

Pearl leaned back from her friend’s words, and try as she might, the pale Gem could not see anything wrong with Lapis logic.

Then, why she hesitated?

‘Do I want to give him a chance? Is that it?’

Then it clicked in her mind, she made sense of that hybrid strange behavior.

“…He doesn’t hate you…!" Pearl whispered, seemly perplexed for a moment before she frowned at her line of thought. "Rose Quartz absolutely despised you, and yet, that boy seems to want to be close to you. She would never be able to pull this off, even if she was in disguise.”

“So what, are you saying that he couldn’t be Pink Diamond since he is behaving differently?” Lapis scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous Pearl, it could very well be a trick, just another of her manipulation tactics coming into play. Don’t be swayed by its machinations.”

“Lapis, it isn’t a trick. I can feel it.” The pink-haired Gem argued. “Whatever Steven actually is, I can say for a fact that he isn’t Rose Quartz. I have no doubts that he is somehow influenced by her Gem, but he doesn’t have that sick Diamond mentality for certainly.”

“Pearl…!” The Blue Gem exasperatedly raised her hands and groaned in frustration.

Lapis shook her head negatively and walked away from her friend.

Try as she may, Pearl could not stop the feeling of hurt on her heart as she saw her beloved friend walk away from her.

When the Blue Gem left the room through the staircase towards one of the other floors, the pale Gem felt her eyes glisten.

‘I’m not going to be hurt by something nonsensical as this.’ Pearl thought as she repressed the will to cry. ‘I won’t be a burden to her. I won’t be a burden to myself.’

For the next three hours that they spend apart from each other, both Shatter Stars experienced a terrible feeling of pain in their immaterial hearts. No one could concentrate on anything due to the nagging sensation overflowing their senses.

Lapis was the one who broke their distance first, suddenly rising up from their bed and running down the staircase as fast as she could. When she saw Pearl curling on their couch in obvious distress, the Blue Gem waste no time in jumping towards her and tightly hugging her.

"Pearl, I can't stay mad at you." Lapis said as she nuzzled her friend surprised form, receiving a relieved sigh from the pink-haired Gem. "I'm sorry for leaving you all alone. Can you forgive me?"

The pale Gem pushed her friend away from her slightly so she could kiss Lapis between her eyes many times. “You were just looking out for us. I don’t really blame you, but I do forgive you.”

They spend the next few days cuddling and being overly close toward each other, lost in their own happy world.

However, in the back of Pearl’s mind, an old fear appeared.

‘Lapis would never hurt me as Rose have done in the past. She wouldn't.'

Ah Pearl, if only love could be flawless as it seemed to be.

Chapter Text

 

It took two entire months before the Crystal Gems attempted to contact the Shatter Stars.

Pearl was too busy cleaning and organizing their living room, so Lapis, being alone in the P.O.I. Room was the only one who could answer the call.

That is if she hadn't decided to ignore it and pretend that it never happened.

 

---

 

One week later, the Crystal Gems attempted to call them again.

Pearl was sleeping, Lapis was reading her manga.

Again, she ignored the call.

 

---

 

Two days after those events, they received another call from the Crystal Gems.

Pearl was awake and present when it happened.

Reluctantly, Lapis accepted the call and bitterly seethed at their neighbors.

“State your business, Crystal Gems.” Lapis sneered. “We don’t have all day.”

Amethyst growled, but Garnet glared at her, which made her keep whatever thoughts to herself.

‘Let’s see how long it will take until this imbecile breaks the silence. If only she would simply shut her mouth forever…’ Lapis thought.

“Hello, Shatter Stars. It has been some time since we last had the pleasure of talking with each other.”

“And you had to ruin it by contacting us.” The Blue Gem scoffed. “What is this time?”

Taken aback for a moment, Garnet seemed to be lost for words, before she shrugged and spoke. "We have come to report that the Inverted Pyramid on the Strawberry Battlefield did house a direct clue to the Prism artifact, which Steven accidentally activated after we managed to retrieve it from its lost location on South America."

"Interesting..." Pearl remarked as she seemed to think for a moment. "So, how it is the Prism? It is useful, at least?"

“Not exactly.” The fusion crossed her arms. “It seemed to recognize Steven as its owner, but Steven allowed it to keep its own free will. I’m not sure it is capable of understanding this concept, but it had disappeared after this.”

“Hold on a sec, you had the power of a very powerful Gem artifact at your hands and you just threw it away?” Lapis eyes twitched. “I can’t even begin saying how stupid this decision was.”

Pearl nodded. “Indeed. What if the Prism ‘wants’ to destroy humanity? Have you both even considered that this might turn badly?”

Garnet bit her lower lip. “What we were supposed to do? Try to destroy it? I don’t think we have the power to do such a feat, even if we were to receive your support.”

"Which we wouldn't get anyway since you guys kept ignoring our calls!" Amethyst exclaimed. "Seriously, what the hell made you both so busy with that you couldn't answer us?"

Pearl raised an eyebrow and laughed out loud. “Ok, let me put this in a way you could understand: We aren’t here to follow your demands, we aren’t going to just wait for the moment you both decide to ask us for help, and we have no obligation to even offer any assistance.”

“So, you admit that you ignored our calls?”

“I did notice that you were trying to call us.” Lapis smirked. “But I didn’t want to look at your faces or hear your shrieking voices, so I ignored it.”

Like the Blue Gem predicted, Amethyst and Garnet got annoyed with her words, with the fusion taking a deep breath, apparently trying to keep herself from saying anything… And Amethyst growling at them.

Pearl raised her hand and smiled at her best friend, making Lapis blush and give her a high five.

Their moment was interrupted by a familiar voice unheard until that moment. “Garnet? Amethyst? Are you both there?”

‘Dammit. It is that brat. Just my luck, now that thing can access the temple rooms.'

“Yes, we are.” The fusion answered the boy, who appeared on the screen. “We were talking with the Shatter Stars and-”

“Pearl and Lapis! Oh, how I missed you guys!” The boy excitement was evident in his voice. “I have so much to tell you!”

"I highly doubt that." Lapis muttered. "Let me guess, you managed to learn to summon your weapon or other inconsequential things that have no value to us?"

“Uh… I…” The boy stuttered, lost for words. “I did that, but I also learn a lot of other things!”

Lapis crossed her arms, sarcastically remarking. “Like what?”

“Oh, you know, I managed to help my friend Prism to become its own owner-”

“Which was ridiculous and really stupid.” The Blue Gem flatly said. “It is so pathetic that I cannot even laugh at you.”

Steven recoiled at Lapis words. He lowered his gaze, loss at words.

“Lapis. That’s enough.” Pearl whispered at her friend. “You don’t need to humiliate him like that.”

The Blue-haired Gem bit her lower lip and crossed her arms.

“…I also learned how to heal other people…” The boy whispered.

“What?” Pearl seemed startled for a moment, raising her eyebrows. “When this had happened?”

"I guess it was somewhere between curing Connie's eyesight and motivating Ronaldo to keep his pursuit of Beach City weirdness…" Steven muttered. "I also learned how to get in my mom's old room in the temple. How cool is that?"

‘I have to admit, that is a little bit impressive… If he wasn’t a complete failure in almost everything.’

"You still suck at this." Lapis sneered. "Its no wonder, you only had those two morons to guide you, of course, you would end up being a loser."

“HEY!” Amethyst snarled at the Blue Gem, which only smirked.

“Uh, if I’m this bad, can you both teach me how to be better?” Steven shyly asked. “I mean, I think I would learn a lot from you guys.”

‘Hell no! There’s no way-’

“Indeed. That can be arranged.”  Pearl said, much to the Blue Gem’s surprise. “We were interested in investigating a particular area, perhaps you would like to accompany us?”

Steven's eyes shined brightly, excitedly jumping in joy and smiling. "YEAH!"

The pale Gem nodded, giving him a small smile of her own. “Then get ready for tomorrow. We shall meet you at your home around 9: 00 AM. Remember to dress in comfortable clothing, since we will go to a tropical country.”

“Wow! We’re going to travel to another country!” Steven hugged the two Gems at his side. “Oh man, wait until my dad knows about this!”

“Greg? How is him?” Pearl seemed slight apprehensive. “Is he ok?”

The teenager smiled. “He is fine, although he did mention that he wanted to hear how you were holding up. I guess he misses you.”

‘What the hell?’

Pearl thought for a moment before she finally nodded. "Tell him to not worry about me. I will talk to him soon. Until tomorrow, Steven."

With that, Pearl turned off the communicator.

‘What had just happened?’

“Lapis, care to explain to me why you had omitted that the Crystal Gems attempted to contact us?” The pale Gem raised an eyebrow, crossing her arms. “I’m not angry, I just want to know what motivated you to act like that.”

“I…” The Blue Gem lowered her gaze, feeling a little ashamed. “I don’t know what I was thinking… I just…”

Lapis hugged herself, in an attempt to soothe her sudden sadness.

“Oh, sweet cheeks, don’t be sad, please…” Pearl hugged her friend and proceeded to kiss her forehead. “Just talk to me. Please let me understand how you are feeling.”

“Pearl…” Lapis relaxed in Pearl’s arms and instinctively hugged her friend back. “Promise you won’t think anything bad?”

“I promise.”

‘She is really so kind to me…’

“It might sound silly of me, but I was… Jealous.” The Blue Gem whispered. “I wanted to spend some time without sharing you with those idiots.”

Pearl stopped hugging her friend and gently cupped her friend’s cheeks in the palm of her hands. “Lapis, why haven’t you said anything? If this was what you wanted, you just needed to tell me, I would never think anything bad of you for wanting to spend time with me.”

“Pearl…!”

In a fast movement, Lapis hugged her friend even tightly, nuzzling on her neck. “I adore you.”

“Same here, my Supreme Leader.” The pale Gem giggled. “Don’t you worry. I wouldn’t trade your company for anyone’s else.”

They spend the rest of the day hugging and holding hands, neither of them wanting to keep more than a few minutes away from each other.

However, in the back of Lapis mind, she still was afraid.

‘…I don’t want to lose you to them.’

Jealousy and distrust… The Blue Gem had a really bad feeling related to the Crystal Gems, especially if she was talking about that kid and those mysterious circumstances related to the deceased Rose Quartz. 

If she only could know what kind of terrible consequences her impulsive actions would cause...

 

---

 

Nine in the morning, the dawn of the next day.

Lapis already was in a sour mood, but trying her best to not let her behavior bother her companion.

“It pleases me that you followed our time schedule to the letter, Steven.” Pearl said as she gave the boy a gentle tap on his head. “Good job, remember to always organize your time, especially during a mission.”

“Yeah!” Steven jumped in joy, a complete opposite of Lapis bitter mood. “I won’t disappoint you, Mo-Pearl!”

Pearl gave the boy a small smile. "Well then, let's go."

They both walked towards the Warp Pad, exchanging looks with Garnet and Amethyst. “Don’t worry about anything, Crystal Gems. We promise to bring him back safe and sound.”

“You better.” The purple Gem growled at Pearl.

“Is that a threat?” Lapis answered Amethyst with a growl of her own, secretly glad she had an excuse to be aggressive towards someone. “That would be so stupid of you.”

Instead of the expected angry retort, Amethyst simply said. “No. This is a promise if Steven isn’t back in one piece.”

"He will be fine." Lapis seethed. "Now beat it, you imbecile."

“Guys, stop fighting! I will be ok, I swear!” Steven tried to appease both Gems.

Lapis and Amethyst glared at each other.

“…Let’s go, Lapis.” Pearl whispered as she grabbed the Blue Gem’s hand and squeezed it. “We will back probably during the evening.”

With that, Steven and the Shatter Stars stood on the Warp Pad, with Pearl activating it to their chosen location.

 

---

 

South America.

Brazil.

The City of Diamantina… Also known as the Diamond City.

Even if they were just looking at the city from a distance, since the three of them were on the edge of a high cliff, the Blue Gem could tell that it very beautiful place full of old constructions back from the colonial baroque human era. Normally, Lapis would be completely interested in sight-seeing this new place, eager to learn and observe everything and everywhere around her.

However, Steven’s company wasn’t really helping her terrible mood, therefore her interest in this particular place had strongly diminished.

"Wow! I never even stepped away from the state of Delmarva, and look at us! We are in Brazil!" Steven laughed and pirouetted. "I have to take a lot of cool photos to show Connie, my dad and everyone else!"

Pearl laughed. “I’m glad you are having fun, Steven, but we aren’t here for any sight-seeing.”

The pale Gem projected a hologram from her Gem. “Long time ago, during the colonization process of this particular area, a labyrinth was constructed nearby. It served two purposes: One, to test a Gem’s capacity of navigation on an ever-changing complex terrain…”

At Steven awe-stuck gaze, Pearl gave him a giggle. “And Two, to artificially increase Gem production in this entire area, therefore allowing them to harvest a considerable quantity of resources.”

“Wow! That’s so awesome!” Suddenly, Steven seemed a little confused, raising an eyebrow inquisitively. “Wait a sec, what do you mean by colonization?”

“Oh… They haven’t told you anything about that…” Pearl awkwardly coughed, at loss of words. “Uh… How can I explain this…? You see-”

"What she means is that five thousand years ago, Homeworld Gems were colonizing your planet and took a lot of resources from it; like any sensible Gem would do, but thanks to a very selfish imbecile, this process was interrupted and a horrible war happened." Lapis bluntly interrupted her friend's words, already too annoyed to be able to control herself. "That is what we meant, and if you mentally challenged brain can't understand what the word colonization signifies, then you are stupid as you look."

The teenager took a step back, his confused expression turning into one of shock. “W-war? Colonization… Oh my god, this means that-”

“Yes, Steven…” Pearl cautiously took a step towards the boy, trying to calm him down. “The Gems tried to invade Earth a long time ago, but now, the Crystal Gems are trying to make up for the things they did during the war… I’m sure they wanted to tell you, but they probably weren’t sure if you were ready for this kind of information.”

“I… I…” The dark-haired boy started to tear up.

‘Oh, for the love of-‘

Pearl hugged the boy. “You may cry if you want, Steven.”

Immediately, Steven cried.

As the half-human wailed on the pale Gem’s arms, Lapis glared at him in disdain.

‘Great. Now that weakling is acting more pathetic than the usual. What an enjoyable day.’

“Steven.” Pearl said sternly after a minute. “Stop crying. This won’t accomplish nothing and you have to learn how to soldier on when faced with adversities.”

 “S-Soldier on?”

Lapis walked towards the teenager and firmly stared at him. "Yeah, you have to grow some backbone and stop being overly sentimental about everything around you, especially if it is something that happened long ago."

Steven sniffled and tried to stop his tears. “R-Right! I will soldier on!”

“Good.” The Blue Gem said as the half-human appeared to finally take control over his behavior. “Now, can we please just go do what we were meant to do in this place?”

With that, they started to walk towards their destination: The Forgotten Ruins.

 

---

 

After thirty minutes of a stroll through the dense tropical forest, they finally arrived in their destination.

A dense fog covered the area, just like the fragmented archives from the Lunar Sea Spire described.

"According to the archives we had uncovered, this place cannot be accessible by organics, since it uses a confusing light Gem identifier to assert our presence, so we won't be bothered by any of the locals or the wildlife," Pearl said as she took a few steps towards the fog. "Stay close to me, and listen to what we have to say, Steven."

“Ok!”

They walked for almost an hour, apparently in circles, when the fog finally receded, and they could see the elusive Forgotten Ruins.

“Wow, Pearl, we managed to find the ruins. Nice work.” Lapis high fived her friend. “Now, is there something we should know about this place?”

“This temple is actually just one room, even if it looks massive from the outside.” Pearl projected a hologram from her Gem. “It uses a metaphysical projection that defies logic and the laws of physics. The pure concept of time and effort doesn’t really exist behind its walls. I theorize that it works similar to a mind induced illusion that could become dangerous depending on the user decisions.”

 “In other words, it’s a test chamber.” Lapis concluded, receiving an affectionate caress from her friend.

“Correct, so we probably will experience something unusual as soon as we enter the building.”  The pale Gem directed her attention towards the half-human. “So, don’t get too impressed by it, Steven.”

“Wow! You’re so smart, Mo-Pearl!” Steven said in awe, clearly excited. “I’m so happy you brought me along!”

‘Ugh! That freak is so annoying.’ Lapis sighed. ‘I hope he at least gets hurt, so he could have a real thing to think about instead of saying anything else.'

They entered the building and suddenly felt everything around them fade from existence.

‘What now?’

After a moment, there was a bright light, and they found themselves in a familiar place.

“The Sky Arena?” Lapis looked around herself, trying to be sure of what she said. “Yep, the ruins apparently decided that this was a good place to go. Glad I can see this place looking good instead of the ruin that it is nowadays.”

"Cool!" Steven exclaimed. "I'd never been in two new places at the same time! Now that's an experience!"

Pearl smirked. “Indeed, but we were brought here for a reason. Brace yourself.”

Before them, a huge looking Gem covered by a veil stood alone.

“Welcome. I am the artificial intelligence based on the Amazonite X07, facet 4. By the direct orders of my creator, I shall now test your strength in three different instances.” The mirage of the Amazonite gestured to the arena. “First test: Strength. Please choose one of the contenders among you to face the memory of a selected Prasiolite.”

“I will go.” Lapis said as she stepped towards the A.I. “Let’s see how strong you really are, memory.”

“Commencing battle.” The A.I. flatly said as a huge green Quartz warrior appeared before them.

Without saying anything at all, the Quartz advanced towards Lapis.

‘This will be so easy.’ The Blue Gem thought as she avoided the first attack with ease. ‘Let me call forth my White Dagger.’

From her Gem, Lapis summoned her weapon and immediately flew towards the artificial Gem.

“Die.” She said as she expertly brought the blade down across the Prasiolite’s back, with the memory emitting a loud screech.

‘Ugh, how annoying, at least this was so easy that I could fall asleep while doing it.’

"The first test has ended. Success." The A.I said and the Prasiolite vanished in thin air. "Commencing the second test."

The arena changed and the mirage of another Gem appeared, this time it took the form of a Sapphire. “Second test: Intelligence. Please choose another Gem to test her will.”

“Let me handle this.” Pearl said as she cracked her knuckles. “I doubt this A. I. can win against me in a battle of wits.”  

“Commencing challenge.” The A.I. declared as the mirage of a Sapphire walked towards Pearl.

“I shall offer you a series of riddles.” The Sapphire stated in an ever-emotionless tone. "Answer wrong and the wrath of the Diamonds shall befall you, answer right and I shall bring forth another one until your worth is determined. Shall I begin?"

Pearl simply shrugged, apparently not caring for the consequences. “Yes.”

“First riddle: What begins but has no end and is the ending of all that begins?”

Pearl didn’t bat an eye, smirking to herself. “Death.”

The A.I. nodded. “Correct. Beginning the second riddle: You can hear me and control me, but never see me or touch me. What am I?”

This time, Pearl took a few seconds before answering the hologram. “Your voice.”

The mirage nodded again. “Correct. Beginning the third riddle: What does everyone need, want, and ask for but never take?”

“Advice.” The pale Gem said with certainty.

"Correct. Beginning the fourth riddle."

‘How long is that thing going to annoy Pearl with those asinine questions?’

 The A.I. continue its tirade. "They are dark and on the run, without the sun there shall be none. What are they?”

This time, Pearl bit her lips and closed her eyes. After a moment she answered. “Shadows.”

The A.I nodded. “Correct. Beginning the fifth riddle: I can bring a smile to your face, a tear to your eye, or even a thought to your mind, but I can’t be seen. What am I?”

Pearl sighed. “A memory.”

“Correct. Last question: They come out at night without being called. They are lost in the day without being stolen. What are they?”

The pale Gem turned her gaze around and stopped as she eyed Steven. She smiled. “Stars.”

‘Yeah, that seems about right.’

"Correct. The second test was completed. Success.” The A.I. concluded, the mirage of the Sapphire disappearing.

“Wow! I didn’t even know the first one! Good job, Pearl!” Steven waved at the pale Gem. “You’re amazing!”

Pearl giggled. “Thanks for your kindness, Steven.”

‘Ugh. That damn brat…’

“Commencing third test: Resistance. Please choose another Gem to face the test.”

Lapis gave an evil smile towards Steven. “Looks like it’s your turn, hybrid.”

Steven seemed startled for a moment before he nodded. “I will show you what I learned.”

The teenager walked towards the A.I. “I will be the one to challenge you!”

“Challenger selected. Beginning the third test.” The A.I. returned to its Amazonite form and stood before the half-human. “You shall receive pain into your form. You are to resist and to not retreat into your Gem.”

Without any further warning, a bright bean made of pure light hit Steven’s body, making him scream loudly.

“Steven!” Pearl took a step towards the boy, only to be held by Lapis. “Lapis, we must do something! Steven might die!”

“Calm down Pearl, I doubt he would die from this.” The Blue Gem stated, even as she was actually hoping for the opposite.

‘Die, just die already, your despicable waste of organic matter.’

Steven kept being attacked, his skin tearing up, blood covering the ground.

Lapis smiled.

But even as if the half-human seemed in agony, he still stood his ground.

‘He still lives? How is that possible? Is it because this freak is a Diamond?’ Lapis was both angry and impressed. ‘Just how strong is this moron?’

“AAAAAAARGH!” With a loud screen, Steven moved blindly towards the hologram, shaking off the light of his body towards the A.I. “I-I WON’T LOSE TO YOOOOOOU!”

The light hit the hologram and it suddenly disappeared.

The light stopped covering Steven’s body and he finally fell on his knees.

“STEVEN!” Pearl pushed Lapis away and ran to the boy’s direction, obviously worried, immediately hugging the half-human.

“Third test ended. Success. Reward being processed.” With that, the room glitched and disappeared in a thick fog.

However, no one seemed interested in whatever the A.I. could give.

Between Steven trembling on Pearl’s arms, the pale Gem trying to keep him awake and Lapis glaring in anger at them, no one could care less if they were going to receive anything.

A small, strange looking dark metal-like box floated on the air before them. "Here it is the secret of the secrets, the strength of the stronger, the healing balm for the healers and the promise of the promised: Metatron. May it many functions serve you well, but beware: Only twice it shall be used before turning into ashes. May this temple rubble mark the end of its days.”

And with that, they found themselves out of the temple, who now was suddenly reduced to rubble.

“Wait, the Metatron device can be used to heal!” Without thinking, Pearl grabbed the ancient artifact and pointed towards Steven. “Activate healing function!”

The box emitted a strange sound and flashed.

Steven body glowed for a moment and he opened his eyes. “What…?”

“Oh, thank the stars you are ok!” Pearl exclaimed as she hugged the boy. “For a moment, I thought that you were dead!”

"No way that would happen!" Steven smiled brightly, nuzzling Pearl's hand. "I am a tough guy."

Pearl laughed out loud. “Yes, you are. I’m so proud of you.”

The half-human seemed beyond happy at the pale Gem’s words, his eyes glistening. “T-Thank you, mom- I mean, Pearl!”

However, for Lapis who was staring at the teenager with obvious distrust, that apparently happy moment was horrifying. She silently picked the artifact and put it away on her Gem.

‘Why Pearl? Why can’t you see that this thing is evil?’

Ah, Lapis… If you only could predict what would happen…

 

---

 

“Oh man, I do love this food!” Steven happily said as he took another bite of his food. “Those cassava cheese puffs are so good! I’m glad we are bringing some to my dad and Connie!”

"Remember to keep them away from Amethyst then." Pearl scratched Steven's hair locks. "Also, be sure to tell them how incredible you were today."

Steven put his hands holding the paper bag with the food behind his back, playfully giggling. “Sure thing, Pearl! I will hide this so we can all share later!”

“I’ll pass on the food, kid.” Pearl laughed.

As much fun as the pale Gem was having, Lapis could only stare at them bitterly. She walked away, clenching her fist in anger.

It was so unfair.

"…We should go back." Lapis coldly said, picking Steven and Pearl's attention. "We promised that we would return the boy during the evening. It is time."

“Uh, right…” Pearl seemed at loss for words.

Lapis honestly didn’t care.

'I will go back alone if I have to. I can’t stand here watching this anymore.’

Silently she flew away, deciding to go back to the Warp Pad.

 

---

 

It didn’t take much longer before Steven and Pearl followed suit.

“You finally arrived. Good, we were waiting.” Garnet said as she immediately checked Steven’s body. “I’m glad you are all right, Steven.”

“Oh guys, if you could just see what I did, you would be so proud of me!” The teen exclaimed. “Tell them, Pearl!”

However, the pale Gem’s mood seemed considerably apathetic in comparison to what she was before. 

“You were pretty good, Steven.” She simply said as she walked towards her Blue friend, who seemed very impatient, waiting just outside the house. “I’m sorry to cut this short, but there are things that Lapis and I should do. We can talk later.”

“Wait-”

Pearl didn’t wait, she walked towards her companion, obviously worried. “Lapis, are you ok?”

“Yes, I am.” Lapis bluntly said. “Let’s just go back home.”

The pale Gem seemed bewildered but said nothing else. Like many times they had done, she hugged her best friend and waited for her to summon her wings, so they could return home.

This time, the feeling of sadness could not stop hovering in their minds.

 

---

 

They returned home, except, this time, Lapis didn’t want to stay there with Pearl.

‘This hurts. It hurts so much. Why is it hurting?’

“I will go out, I need to clear my head.” The Blue Gem whispered to her friend, summoning the Metatron artifact and placing on the pale Gem hands. “Please, don’t be worried.”

“Have I done something wrong?” Pearl cradled the metallic box, apparently distressed. “Please, just tell me.”

Lapis stared at the pale Gem. “Have you? I’m just too confused to be able to properly tell you. Suffice to say that I’m hurt, and I need to think before saying anything.”

“I… Fine…” Pearl whispered. “Please come back soon, we can talk about all of this when you are feeling up for it…”

Lapis nodded and left the Moon Base.

‘Why? Why am I so sad?’

Jealousy and distrust… Lapis Lazuli couldn’t decide which one was the worst feeling.

 

---

 

She lost track of the time.

Lapis flew from the moon to the edge of the solar system, trying to make sense of her painful feelings assaulting her mind.

When she returned to the Moon Base, she saw that her friend was waiting on the first floor, she even was sitting in the same place she had last seen each other.

‘She was waiting for me here of all the places? By all the celestial bodies, she must have been so worried…’

“Pearl….” Lapis closed the door. “You were waiting for me this entire time?”

“Of course! Who do you take me for?” Pearl exclaimed as she stood up and hugged the blue-haired Gem in relief. “I’m so happy that you’re back!”

 Lapis slowly hugged back her friend. “We should talk…”

“Yes, we must.” Pearl grabbed her friend’s hand and guided them to the couch, sitting at Lapis side. “Please tell me what is going on. I need to understand.”

The Blue Gem took a deep breath.

“Honestly, I’m confused about all that I’m feeling right now, but I know for a fact that hybrid is the cause of my distress.” Lapis lowed her gaze, staring at her feet. “I don’t think he has our best interests in his mind, and it hurts me that you could so easily trust him, especially considering who he might be.”

"Lapis… Steven isn't Rose Quartz." Pearl said. "As I already said before, he doesn't hate you, and Rose never was capable of standing anyone she disliked without showcasing any sort of disdain. Even when Bismuth still was alive, she would constantly question her decisions whenever she had the opportunity, and believe me, she wasn't someone who could hide her dislike towards anyone."

Lapis clenched her fists. “There is something else…”

“What is it?”

“I’m afraid that you will leave me for them.” Lapis closed her eyes, too ashamed of looking at her friend’s face after exposing such an emotional weakness. “I’m afraid you will like that hybrid’s company more than my own!”

“Lapis…” Pearl trailed off, hugging the Blue Gem tightly. “I would never choose anyone over you. Not before, not now, and definitively not on the future! There’s no one that could even compare to what we have with each other.”

Pearl cupped her friend’s cheeks on the palm of her hands, smiling affectionately at her. “You’ll always going to come first before anyone else in my life.”

‘Pearl… You’re so gentle that it hurts…’

Lapis eyes glistened, but she kept herself from crying. She already felt too much exposed, too much vulnerable. It would shame her even further if she displayed such behavior.

As a Lapis Lazuli, this way of thinking was close to absurd.

She honestly didn’t understand herself at this very moment.

“Lapis… Please never keep those things to yourself.” Pearl kissed both of her friend’s cheeks. “I know from experience that if you keep trying to ignore those painful feelings, it migth harm you even further, and the last thing that I want in my life is to hurt you.”

The Blue Gem acted in an impulse.

She pressed herself against her pale friend, making the taller Gem lay on her back over the couch due to the force of her sudden movement. She started kissing her neck, breathing in and out.

Both of them sighed in bliss.

‘I won’t let you hurt her again, Rose Quartz.’ Lapis thought as she settled herself comfortably against her best friend. ‘Mark my words. If Pearl is wrong and this is a trick that you are pulling, you will rue the day that you tried to fool us. If Pearl is right, then I won’t let you manipulate her.’

Lapis would put this promise through the test, especially when another person would soon take the spot of the target of her anger.

Jealousy truly was a terrible thing for a Gem like her. No one could ever prepare Lapis for those confusing feelings.

Then again, her affection towards Pearl always was unexpected, and if she was being honest, she thinks she would never trade what they had with each other for anything else.

Chapter Text

 

He felt strange.

It wasn’t anything bad since he actually never felt so healthy, so strong, so… Unlike him.

Even if this only started happening since… That day.

‘Man, those ruins were something else. Like, I don’t know how Pearl saved me, but I’m glad she did…’

Steven smiled to himself, remembering how his elusive ‘mom’ seemed so relieved when he showed her that he was ok. How happy he became just by seeing her worried about someone like him.

A weak, unreliable kid like him that had no business being around awesome Gems like Pearl and Lapis.

‘I want to be like you.’

Strong, smart, brave, beautiful and elegant.

‘I want you to love me.’

Love him like a family, care for his wellbeing, be there to teach him everything and to laugh with him about silly things.

‘I want to be your son.’

He already had a father that he loved so much, but he still wanted a mother figure and no matter how much Garnet and Amethyst tried to fill the void that his real mother left, they simply couldn’t give him what he longed for.

Rose Quartz… Pearl… He no longer could see much difference between them, except the fact that Pearl seemed far more important to him than the person shown in that painting.

The painting of a sad woman… The one hanging on the wall, staring at him every day as if she wanted to say something... As if she was holding on a secret.

As if she was capable of caring about him at this point.

‘Please be my mom.’

When they were walking together, chatting about silly things, his world seemed perfect.

He missed Pearl even before he could know anything about her, but now, it was driving him insane to not be able to talk, to spend time as any child, as any son would be able to do with their parent.

‘Is this why Lapis tries to protect Pearl all the time? Because she is the kindest person ever? Man, Aunt Lapis is really her best friend! Just like me and Connie.’

Maybe they could get close too. Lapis could teach him how to become fearless, powerful and observant.

How to be like her.

His smile turned in a full grin.

‘This is all good even if I am having those weird, scary dreams. Sometimes, I feel like I can hear those whispers even after I wake up…’

He never told anyone about it.

And he never will.

‘I don’t want them to say it was Pearl and Lapis fault that I’m having nightmares. I won’t let them keep my mom and my aunt away from my life. Not now when we are getting closer.

Even if the whispers on the back of his mind sometimes invaded their thoughts.

‘They don’t make any sense anyway, and I don’t remember much except feelings and few flashes of… Whatever those things were.’

A shadow of a tall woman dressed in strange clothes, the one with pink skin and an equally pink hair, with a diamond-shaped Gem in her navel; crossed his mind.

She smiled at him, that eerie, dark gaze of hers so scary, so familiar…

And as she whispered unintelligible things to him like she was sharing a secret, he could only understand a simple phrase:

“You will learn…”

“Uh? Have you said something, Steven?” Connie ignored the tv series they were watching, the one called ‘Under the Knife’, and turned her head towards her best friend. “I mean, I can tell you about how things work on real hospitals if you are curious about it.”

"Oh, ok." Steven nodded, feeling confused as to why Connie had made such an offer. "If you want to teach me about it, I wouldn't complain, but why are you saying this to me?"

Connie scratched her head awkwardly. “Ah, it’s just that you said something about learning, and I thought-”

Steven weakly smiled at his best friend as he interrupted her. “Right! Sorry for saying weird stuff. I just have a lot on my mind…”

“Hey, that’s ok, Steven.” Connie hugged the boy with care. “I’m here for you.”

The boy sighed, feeling relieved by receiving such love.

“Yo, Steveeeeeeen!” Amethyst suddenly shouted from the kitchen. “I’m gonna buy some pizzas, do you want some?”

Steven raised his eyebrows. “Amethyst, isn’t still too early to be ordering pizzas?”

“Uh, is never too early for pizza, Steven.” The purple Gem remarked, raising an eyebrow of her own. “And since when you reject pizza? In fact, you’ve been acting a little strange these past few days. Did that blue emo convinced you to go into a weird diet or something?”

The dark-haired boy shook his head negatively. “No! What makes you think that?”

“Well, the fact that you aren’t really eating much food and that the blue twig surely isn’t someone you should ever ask for any advice?” Amethyst pointed to the kitchen counter. “You even ignored the fry bits that I’ve gotten you this morning, and you never did that!”

“Oh, that.” Steven looked around himself, suddenly feeling embarrassed. “I’m just not that hungry, I don’t know why.”

The purple Gem shot him a worried look. “Steven, please promise me that you will tell us if something is bothering you?”

“Of course, Amethyst, you don’t even need to ask.” Steven turned his gaze to the tv show, noticing that Connie seemed far too interested in their exchange. “Same goes for you, Connie. I’m fine.”

Connie nodded, taking his hand and carefully squeezing it.

“Well, when Garnet is back from her mission, tell her that I left to get some food, would you?” Amethyst didn’t wait for his answer, just leaving both teens alone in the house.

Steven sighed and returned his attention to the tv series.

After ten minutes, in which both teens were either laughing at the shows medical inaccuracies or talking about the confusing story plot for that episode, Connie’s cell started to ring.

Steven eyed his friend’s handbag. “Is that your phone?”

“Its probably my mom.” Connie opened the handbag and took the cellphone out, smiling slightly at the name showed on its display as she said a simple ‘Call it’ to her friend, and she finally answered it. “Hi mother, its Connie!”

The woman seemed to be asking her daughter something, and Connie unconsciously nodded. “Yes ma’am, I’m at the home of Steven Universe.”

Again, the woman seemed to be asking her daughter more questions, with Connie nodding and answering her curtly. "Yes ma'am, we're just hanging out and-"

Connie’s expression froze for a second and she carefully gave her friend an unsure look. “Oh… Steven’s parents? They’re-”

Steven motioned to his friend to hand him the cellphone, apparently already thinking of something.

The dark-skinned girl sighed and carefully whispered to him while she muted the call for a moment. “Steven, I think she wants to talk to your mom or dad!”

‘Now that’s awkward since my biological mother gave up her form to make me, but I can’t say that to them right now.’

“Leave that to me, Connie, I think I know what to do.”

Connie unmuted her cellphone and passed it to her friend.

"Hi, Ms. Maheswaran! I’m Steven!” The dark-haired boy said, trying to not be overly nervous. “Connie told me a lot about you!”

The voice on the phone call carried an annoyed tone. “Interesting that my daughter just handled her cellphone to you without any care for what I had to say.”

‘Oh, bummer. Think something, Steven!'

“Ah, well, did you want to ask something?” The boy nervously asked, trying to deflect the already bad start. “A-About my family?”

"Yes, yes. I wanted to speak to your mother if you please."

‘What have I just asked her?’ Steven quickly questioned himself.

From the back of his mind, he felt that eerie whisper, the voiceless one that seemed to be talking to him since he was gone back from Brazil.

‘Tell her that your mother, Rose Quartz, just left the house to buy some things at the supermarket.’

Without thinking, he did as he was told.

"My mom, Rose Quartz just left a few minutes ago, she had to buy some stuff at the supermarket, sorry about it."

The phone call seemed silent for a few seconds, clearly, this answer caught Connie's mother off guard. "I see. Well, could you please tell your parents that my husband and I wanted to properly meet them? Perhaps tomorrow, during dinner so we might get to know a little more about the people whom my daughter is associating with?"

‘Agree with her. Suggest a time around 6 P.M. at the Crab Shack. They will approve it.’ The voice whispered again on his mind.

“Of course, ma’am! Maybe we can meet up at the Crab Shack around 6 P.M? They have an awesome selection of seafood!”

 "What a wonderful idea. I appreciate that my daughter is friends with someone with a refined taste." Connie's mother remarked. "So, its settled. You and your parents will meet Connie, my husband and I at this restaurant tomorrow. I'll be looking forward to it."

“Sure… Take care…” Steven said as they both ended the phone call.

‘What just happened?’

“Steven, what will we do?!” The dark-skinned girl nervously shook her friend as soon as the call had ended. “Your mom is gone, there’s no way we can bring her to the dinner.”

“Yeah… Oh, I ruined everything!” The boy sulked for a moment before a sudden thought crossed his mind. “Wait! I have an idea!”

Steven stood up and ran towards the temple rooms. “Connie, I will be back soon! Wait for me!”

He opened the door to his mother old room and closed it behind him.

“This place still scares me a little…” He whispered.

From one of the infinite clouds that covered the place, a small, pink whale projected itself. It greeted him with a happy sound.

"Hello, my little friend. I wanted to see how can I go to Pearl's old room, the real one, not a projection. Can you do that?"

Wordlessly, the clouds dissipated on Steven’s right line of sight, revealing what seemed to be a red mast.

“So, I just climb it? Or do I go down?”

A huge red arrow pointed up. Steven released an exasperated sigh.

“Oh well, it cannot be helped. Thanks anyway, tiny pink whale. Give me some fin!” Steven raised his hand and high fived the tiny whale’s fin.

The whale made what seemed to be a delighted sound and disappeared in thin air.

First stretching his arms as to not let them strain, Steven proceeded to climb towards Pearl’s room.

When he finally arrived, he jumped over one particular platform.

‘Well, I expected to be tired, but I’m still good to go, that’s reassuring, somehow…’ The teen thought as he walked towards the communicator. ‘Now, to contact Pearl…’

He really hoped she would be able to help him.

 

---

 

The Metatron artifact was supposed to be a very powerful tool only given to selected Gems. It unlocked the Gem's potential, making them capable of increasing their skills, their strength, and therefore, their value. That's why the Diamond Authority would create those facilities in order to test their most capable Gems in different fields and to reward them with those devices.

In other words: the Metatron used all of its power to unlock the mind, body, and power, therefore, it was coveted by most of Gems, at least from what she remembered.

That been said, Pearl knew that she didn’t order the artifact to unlock anything when she used it to heal Steven. It was supposed to be restricted to his health, if she had ordered it to use its primary function, he would have reacted differently.

Right? There is no way it would malfunction after the millennia it remained dormant, it was too well made to just break down like that…

Then why she is so worried about it?

‘I think that I’m starting to care for that kid. Unexpected, but not entirely unwanted, I suppose.’

What bothered Pearl’s thoughts was the idea that this particular matter might bring unforeseen consequences.

If Steven had died last week, the Crystal Gems would blame her and would probably declare war on them.

‘Even if it would not be much of a war when there are only two Gems against me and Lapis. We could easily destroy them if we wanted, but I would never consciously pursue a path where I would be forced to battle them.’

At the moment, the boy still seemed well. The artifact didn’t do anything unusual, so he was safe…

Pearl grabbed her head and she sighed.

Maybe she was overthinking all of this. If Steven happened to be suffering any adverse effect from the artifact, he would have already shown something by now, not to mention, Garnet and Amethyst would’ve already contacted the Shatter Stars.

‘I need to calm down. Nothing bad will happen.’

The communicator emitted its usual sound, informing that the Crystal Gems were attempting to communicate with them.

Pearl almost fell off the bed due to the timing.

Taking a deep breath, she proceeded to answer the call… “Greetings, Crystal Gems.”

…Only to be greeted by a startled Steven. “PEARL! You’ve got to help me!”

“Steven? What is the matter?” And then, Pearl braced herself. “Are… Are you feeling something bad?”

“Yeah, I am!” The boy expression turned sour. “I need you to do me a huge favor! Please help me!”

‘Wait a second…’

"…Why exactly you have called Lapis and me?"

Steven shook his head nervously. “No, Pearl, I didn’t call Lapis, I’ve called you!”

Pearl raised her eyebrow. “I’m not sure that I’m following-”

“PLEASE PRETEND TO BE MY MOM!” The teenager exclaimed.

The pale Gem confused expression turned into complete shock. They stared at each other in silence for a long moment.

‘This makes no sense.’

“…Why?” Pearl finally asked, still trying to process what she heard. “Why would you want me to pretend to be something as farfetched as a… Mother?”

Steven scratched his head. "It's not really farfetched, you are incredible, awesome, smart, beautiful…"

‘He thinks that highly of me?’

“Steven, start from the beginning. Tell me why you need me to pretend to be your parent.” Pearl gently smiled at him, making the teen relax a little. “Please.”

“Ok… Let me explain what just happened before I called you…”

 

---

 

“…And that’s why I need you to be my mom for a day.” Steven finally concluded. “I know that you’re too busy with your own stuff, but I am desperate! I don’t know what I will do if I cannot see Connie ever again!”

Pearl frowned and seemed to think for a moment before she offered the boy a sad smile. “…You really care about that girl, isn’t that right, Steven?”

With tears on his eyes, the teenager nodded. “Yes! I would do anything to keep being her friend.”

Pearl gave him a bitter laugh. “When you act like that… You look like your father.”

"Uh?" Steven seemed surprised. "You think so?"

“Yes, I do. I suppose that’s the reason why I like your company…” Pearl trailed off, not noticing what she had just said, but as she seen the boy smile so brightly and happily at her, she felt herself smiling just as well. “Although, I do have to say that I’m not thrilled that you want me to pretend to be Rose Quartz.”

Steven’s gaze lowered, in shame. “Sorry about that. I don’t know why I was so stupid…”

‘This is so absurd that it's actually amusing, even if I am annoyed by the very thought of it.’

"What is done is done, Steven. It's unbecoming to waste any further thoughts wondering whether this was a good decision or not." Pearl massaged her brow. "So, I will also pretend to be Greg's wife. Great."

“Is something wrong?” The boy raised an eyebrow. “My dad is awesome, why would any woman think otherwise?”

“Because not all women are interested in men, Steven.” Pearl flatly answered. “And even those who are interested in men don’t like being thrown in a situation like that. Keep this in mind.”

Steven seemed taken aback for a moment before he nodded and muttered. “Oh… So that’s why you…”

“Hm?” Pearl raised an eyebrow. “What are you mumbling?”

“NOTHING!” Steven briskly affirmed. “Sorry! I won’t assume anything ever again!”

"Good." Pearl stretched her arms. "I will be at your home tomorrow afternoon. I will talk to Greg and we can discuss how things will go."

“Thank you, Pearl!” The teenager excitedly exclaimed. “I’ll see you tomorrow! Bye!”

Wordlessly, the pale Gem turned the communicator off.

‘…I agreed to pretend to be Rose Quartz for a foolish plan of a child who is too scared of losing the one he is infatuated with.’ Pearl bitterly thought. ‘I’m really becoming soft.’

And in the back of Pearl’s mind, she also noticed that she had less than altruistic reasons for agreeing with this plan.

‘I need to keep an eye on that kid. I have to see if the Metatron had any adverse effects on him.’

However, try as she might, Pearl actually recognized that she cared about Steven’s wellbeing. More so than anyone would ever expect.

‘Is this a lingering effect of Pink Diamond’s commands, or have this child mellowed my heart just by the few moments we interacted together? Is this a hidden skill that he somehow has?’

Shaking her head, Pearl remembered Greg.

‘No. He simply had an awesome man for a father. I sincerely doubt that someone incredible as Greg could be called a "common human". Is no wonder that he would pick Rose Quartz interest. If I was attracted to humans, especially the male looking ones, I probably wouldn’t reject the idea of getting involved with him.’

But alas, the idea of getting intimate with male humans truly disgusted Pearl, for some reason. At least the females were pretty to look at, even if they were vastly inferior if compared to any interesting Gem.

Pearl suddenly thought about Lapis. She winced, already predicting how her best friend would react to her plans for tomorrow night, but there wasn’t any way around it.

Bracing herself, Pearl left the room.

On the first floor, Lapis was playing on one of their consoles, most specifically, her favorite baseball styled game, the one called ‘MLB Slugfest: Loaded'. Right now, the pale Gem noticed that Lapis had an entire team consisting of Sub-Zeros from the Mortal Kombat games playing against an entire team of Rodeo Clowns.

‘I really don’t get this game, but I’m so glad that Lapis love it. Even if it is weird.’

Just as Pearl thought about the game bizarre setting, she noticed that Lapis was beating up the enemy team with her players, while she scored a home run.

“Yeah! Suck my ice bat, your damn clowns!” The Blue Gem exclaimed in glee as she beat them up again and again. “That’s for being so annoying!”

"It's quite amusing that you only use that language when you are playing," Pearl said as she sat beside her best friend, who blushed in shame. "Don't worry, I'm not going to berate you. It's actually funny the way you curse at them. I like it."

Lapis sighed in relief. "Oh, thanks to the sky that you are ok with it. I didn't want to make you feel uncomfortable with the way that I deal with those damn bots."

Pearl giggled. Lapis smiled and returned to the game.

The Blue Gem played until the match was over, when she turned the console off, directing her attention towards Pearl. “You want to talk with me, right?”

"As a matter of fact, I do, Little Lappy." Pearl sighed. "Although I already can see how this will go, there is no way around it, I guess."

The Blue Gem raised an eyebrow. “You may ask, at least.”

“I need you to bring me to Steven’s house tomorrow afternoon.” Seeing how Lapis bit her lower lips and frowned, Pearl sighed in exasperation. “Don’t worry, I just agreed to help him to settle a particular matter.”

“Ok, what is about?” Lapis crossed her arms, clearly making an effort to not show how this was affecting her.

But Pearl noticed, and it saddened her to feel like she was hurting her best friend like that, even if it was something she could not really avoid, at least she thought so.

Lowering her gaze to her hands, Pearl hugged herself in an attempt to quell anxiousness. “In order to help him to keep the appearances around his best friend’s strict family, he asked me to pretend to be his mother to them… He asked me to pretend to be Rose Quartz.”

"WHAT?" Lapis shouted in surprise, the news clearly caught her off guard. "Why in the world would you even agree to something asinine as that?"

Pearl clenched her forearms in response. “I felt sympathy towards him. He truly didn’t want to lose his best friend and was willing to lie and pretend in order to keep his precious friendship with that girl, Connie.”

“So what? That’s his problem, it doesn’t have anything to do with us, especially if it involves having you pretend to be that monster who abused you for thousands of years!” Lapis held Pearl’s cheeks in her trembling hands, making the pale Gem notice how cold her body was and how this idea seemed to scandalize her. “Please Pearl! I’m worried that this might be too much for you to handle for the sake of whatever Steven is supposed to be!”

“Lapis, I already told you, Steven isn’t Rose Quartz. He isn’t evil, he is just a child starved for attention, who can act so annoying but also be so sweet to us.” Lapis frowned, and Pearl covered the Blue Gem’s hands with her own, squeezing them gently. “Please believe me.”

The Blue Gem sighed, and after a few seconds, her hands squeezed the pale Gem's own.

"Fine… I understand." Lapis said as she kissed her best friend's cheeks, making Pearl blush. "But I want to go as well."

“Uh, about that…” Pearl awkwardly trailed off. “There’s something else that I have to tell you…”

Lapis placed her hands akimbo. “Don’t worry about me, Pearl, I highly doubt that there is anything else around this matter that would shock me as I already have been.”

Still feeling uncertainty, Pearl simple decided to just go with it. "I have to pretend to be Greg's wife since he is Steven's father."

“WHAT!” The shock of that statement actually made the Blue Gem lean away from Pearl, her eyes first showing perplexity over what was said, when it suddenly frowned in obvious anger.

‘Oh dear… She really got angry…’ Pearl nervously thought. ‘This will take quite the long time to be settled…’

Yes, it would. Lapis jealousy wasn’t something to be mocked, especially if the said Blue Gem was seething in anger at the human in question and also carrying a concealed feeling of envy since he was going to pretend to be involved with her beloved best friend.

 

---

 

Next day, around 14:00 afternoon, the Shatter Stars arrived at Steven’s house.

Last night, Pearl remembered that Lapis spend the entire time on the couch, listening to strange rock songs on her old mp3 player, sulking and being monosyllabic towards the pale Gem.

In other words: absolutely outraged over the entire situation.

‘Well, at least she brought me here…’ Pearl side eyed her best friend, who crossed her arms and unceremoniously kicked a rock away from her feet. ‘So that has to count for something, right?'

If Lapis bitter expression was of any indication, no, it didn’t count for anything.

The pale Gem knocked on the door, and after a few moments, they heard footsteps and a nervous Steven greeted them. “Hi! You both arrived early!”

Lapis sulked. “Unfortunately.”

“Uh…” Steven coughed. “My dad is on the couch; do you want to talk to him?”

“Yes, of course!” Pearl immediately walked inside the house, looking around. “Greg?”

When she saw him, she could barely recognize her old friend.

On the past, back when Steven was a simple baby and she was too confused, angry and relieved over everything that happened due to Rose Quartz demise, Pearl did notice that Greg wasn’t looking the same as she once knew. He seemed a little overweight, his hair receded on some areas and he was sporting one of those ugly beards that the male humans sometimes have.

However, now he was truly bald, clearly obese, with a full beard and unkempt, his hair showing signs of turning white in some parts.

The pale Gem could not avoid the pitiful look she gave to the man. “Greg… What happened to you?”

“Pearl…” The human, who was sitting on the couch immediately stood up and gave a step towards her, bewildered with her presence. “Oh man, how I missed you…”

They exchanged looks, their eyes filled with so many emotions, their status as kindred spirits hovering over them like a familiar cloud.

Without further words, they both moved fast and hugged each other tightly.

They stayed in that position, with the human truly happy for meeting his old friend and with Pearl surprised over how much he had changed, and how guilty she felt for not keeping in touch with someone who obviously thinks so highly of her.

‘I need to deserve this admiration, at least I can try to help him a little.’

Pushing Pearl away so he could look at her, Greg gave her a bright smile. “You look beautiful as ever, my friend.”

“Thank you…” Pearl awkwardly answered. “And you look… I’m so sorry to say this, Greg, but you truly aren’t looking that good.”

The man self consciously looked at his body, grimacing. “Yeah… I know I’ve gotten fat-”

"That's not it, Greg." Pearl interrupted him. "It's not a matter of being away from the human conformity over a person weighted value. What I mean is that you aren't taking care of yourself on other things."

“Are you talking about my hair?” Greg slid his hand over his head. “It cannot be helped, in my family, all the guys end up bald after their thirties. It just happened to me…”

"That isn't an excuse to not caring for the health of your body, or for not dress in clean clothes." Pearl pointed to his dirty attire. "Seriously, when was the last time you've taken a bath?"

"Uh…" The man looked away, embarrassed over being put on the spot so bluntly. "I work on a car wash, so it's not like I need to be clean-"

Pearl wagged her finger negatively. "I don't want to hear any excuse. You will take a bath this instant and you will take better care of yourself, or I will do it myself if I have to!"

"What?" Greg asked as the pale Gem grabbed the man's forearm and dragged him to the bathroom. "Wait a second, Pearl! I can wash my body on my own, you don't need to give me a bath!"

“Then why don’t you act like it, Greg?” The pink-haired Gem sternly said, making the man flinch. “Either you take a bath right now and dress yourself in clean, adequate clothes or I will have to treat you as a child. What will it be?”

Greg gulped. “O-Ok…!”

“Good, now go!” Pearl nodded and pointed to the bathroom’s door. “I will get you a decent attire. We have much to talk about and I will not allow a minor matter like that to get in our way.”

Like a child, Greg Universe nodded and awkwardly entered the bathroom, finally taking his friend’s orders to heart.

Pearl turned away from the bathroom area and notice two things:

One, Steven seemed happy for some reason.

Two, Lapis was fuming… Also, for some reason.

‘Oh dear…’

Pearl walked towards the boy and placed one hand on her waist. “Steven, is Garnet and Amethyst aware of our plans for tonight?”

“Yes, they are.” The teenager grimaced. “They weren’t that happy when I told them that you would be my mom for today, especially Garnet. I think they might be jealous of you right now.”

Pearl simply shrugged. “I don’t really care. However, since I am going to play the part of your mother, there some things about her that I have to say to you.”

“What is it?”

"First, that I hated her with all of my immaterial heart." Pearl nonchalantly declared, making the teenager open his mouth in shock. "I don't know what Greg or the Crystal Gems have told you about what happened in the past between Rose Quartz and me, but your mother was an abusive Gem, one who did terrible things to others due to her own selfishness, even if she claimed otherwise."

“She… She what?” Steven seemed completely perplexed over what Pearl just revealed to him, his eyes slowly glistening with tears. “But… W-Why?”

"For her amusement, for her curiosity, and for her own inability of comprehending anyone besides herself." Pearl bit her lower lip before she thought something else to add. "We can talk about her when I feel that you are ready for what I have to tell you since is as Amethyst would say, ‘messed up'. Right now, let us focus on other things."

Steven seemed lost in thought and after a minute in complete silence, he nodded in agreement. “Ok… What are the other things that you wanted to say?”

"The second thing is that I won't shapeshift my form to look like her." The pale Gem pointed to the huge Rose Quartz's painting hanging over the house's door. "I did it once and it was a pretty traumatizing event for me, not to mention, it consumes a lot of energy to keep my form in an unnatural state for a long time, so I rather not risk it."

The dark-haired boy looked from Pearl to the picture hanging over the door, as if he was deep in thought. “Ok… I don’t really want you to be like her…”

"Forgive me for asking you, Steven, but why is that?" Pearl walked to the boy, standing behind him and she placed both hands over his shoulders. "What do you feel when you look at this painting?"

Steven didn’t look back at Pearl, his gaze deeply settled on his deceased mother sad, dark eyes, then, he suddenly whispered. “It might sound strange, but sometimes I feel like she was carrying a lot of regret on her mind, and I don’t want to go through something like that.”

The teenager turned his head away from the painting, looking back to the pale Gem. “And the reason is that I rather have you as my real mother, Pearl.”

In reflex, Pearl released the boy's shoulders and stepped back from him, not knowing what to do, or even say.

Steven gave her a bitter, sad smile. “You must really hate me…”

He sniffled and his tears fell down across his cheek, hitting the wooden floor.

“Steven…” Pearl tried to speak, but she trailed off.

‘What can I possibly say to him?’

She didn’t know the answer.

“I will call Connie and cancel this outing…” He walked away, slowly going up the stairs towards his room. “You no longer need to come to the dinner.”

"Steven…!" And with an unexplainable impulse born from somewhere unknown, Pearl jumped high towards the staircase, landing precisely in front of the boy.

And as fast as she appeared in front of the now bewildered teen, the pale Gem hugged him immediately. “I’m not leaving you. Don’t jump into conclusions without even hearing what I have to say.”

Pearl sighed.

‘Just how many times I thought about this kid well-being today?’

"Steven, I will be as sincere as I can, so please hear me out, ok?" With a slight push, the dark-haired boy left their embrace and stared at the pale Gem's blue eyes. "I truly hated your mother, and I rejoiced when she died, but I don't feel any hate towards you. Yes, I did think that you were very annoying when I first interacted with you, but in those few exchanges that we had, I realized that I truly enjoyed your company."

Caressing the boy’s cheek as gently as she could, Pearl gave the teenager her sweetest smile. “I don’t really understand human relations, especially those that involve family and children, but if it is of any consolation, you can think of me as your mother if you want to… As long as you understand that I’m not Rose Quart, that I have no intention of getting romantically or physically involved with your father, and of course, respecting my personal space when I ask you.”

Steven gasped as his expression turned into one of happiness, even if he was still crying.

Crying in joy.

"Mom!" Steven tightly hugged Pearl, with all of his feelings, and need for a mother figure in his life guiding his actions. "I hope it's not weird, but I really want to be like you someday, I want to make you proud!"

“It is a little weird Steven, but then again, maybe it is just the way you show that you care, even if it is a bit pretentious, so be careful to not overdo it, ok?” Somewhere inside Pearl’s immaterial heart, a feeling of happiness spread across her ‘soul’, and unconsciously, the pale Gem smile grew into a joyful grin. “And if our little trip to Brazil was of any indication, I’m sure you will accomplish great things.”

Steven jumped excitedly. “Yeah! We’re awesome, mom!”

‘I have to admit, it’s not really a bad thing to have this child considering me as a part of his family, I can’t really explain why.’

Even if Lapis seemed like she wanted to throw up over their entire discussion.

 

---

 

Hours later, Pearl and Greg were both alone on the carwash trying on new clothes… While the pale Gem was fussing over Greg’s attire for the third time.

“I’m so glad that you’ve come to your senses and avoided using that terrible rag that you call ‘shorts’.” Pearl gave the discarded cloth piece laying somewhere on Greg’s van a disgusted look. “Now that’s an elegant look for you. Those black pants suit you better.”

“Do you think so?” Greg looked down at himself, giving the pale Gem a small smile. “I mean, I’m not really as handsome as I should, but-”

“Stop that ‘I’m not handsome’ nonsense.” Pearl handed him a bottle of French Perfume taken from inside her Gem. “Being as you humans call ‘fat’ is not a synonym of being undesirable. I can guarantee that many people are attracted to you as you presently are. You just need to keep track of your health by not forgetting about keeping yourself well cared and clean.”

"And that doesn't mean that I should start a diet?" Greg's voice tone seemed to meant his question as a joke, but Pearl ignored this fact, not approving his self-deprecating behavior.

"If you want to start a dietary restriction, it shouldn't be for ridiculous reasons like trying to please the foolish conceited notions of what other humans deem attractive, but for your own desire." Pearl concentrated and changed her own attire into something  Rose Quartz would approve of.

A pink dress with symmetrical patterns, and just to add irony to the whole assembly, Pearl even managed to make diamond shapes on its surface.

She smirked, and then, Pearl turned towards the man and placed her arms akimbo. “In other words, if it is something that would make you happy, then go for it, if it is something that would make others happy in detriment of yourself, then just ignore those imbeciles.”

Greg laughed and playfully stroked Pearl's hair. "You know, buddy, I really like this new you. You're even more awesome than before if such a thing was even possible."

“Thank you, Greg, you’re too kind.” A thought crossed the pale Gem’s mind, and she felt the necessity to voice it to the man in front of her. “Also, your son thinks of me as his mother, instead of Rose Quartz. What are your thoughts on that?”

“He what?” The man stared at Pearl, obviously perplexed with what he heard. “I had no idea that he…”

Greg stopped talking and shook his head. “This is so awkward. I honestly don’t know what to say…”

“Whatever you’re feeling, just know that I’m fine with it.” Pearl crossed her arms and looked away. “Your son is a good kid. I like him.”

The human’s expression seemed even more shocked at Pearl’s words, but after some moments he tentatively gave her a smile. “Steven is something else, isn’t he?”

Pearl laughed. “Yes, he is, but that’s beside the point. Tell me how are you feeling, please?”

"Me? I don't know, Pearl…" Greg clenched his fists, but not in anger, but rather in anxiety. "It's not something that I would imagine being an option to even begin with, but I can tell you that it's just too much for me to handle right now…"

Then, Greg grimaced. "It's not easy hearing that your son prefers a woman that he only met a few times and heard passably about as a mother than the person who literally died to bring him to life."

 "We can't really control those things, Greg." Pearl shrugged. "This did catch me unexpectedly, but I have no qualms over it. Also, I'm alive while Rose Quartz is dead, therefore is completely understandable that Steven would behave as such."

“Maybe you’re right…” Greg moved his arms as if he wanted to hug her, but he stopped himself before getting too close. “Uh, sorry, I almost hugged you in reflex.”

Without further prompt, the pale Gem snorted and hugged the now timid human. “There. Don’t worry about it, Greg. We’re alike after all.”

They stood in the same place, hugging each other tightly. “You’re a great friend, Greg. I’m glad that I’ve met you.”

Those words made the short human gasp and Pearl could see that his face was turning red in embarrassment. “The feeling is mutual, Pearl.”

They moved away from each other, with both exchanging grins.

"Now, let's go impress that girl's parents and make our kid proud!" Greg exclaimed.

Pearl giggled and gave the brunette a pat over his bald head. “I would expect nothing else from both of us.”

They returned to the Crystal Gem’s headquarters.

 

---

 

Lapis was absolutely furious.

The way Pearl interacted with Steven's father and how that kid nonchalantly and easily got her best friend under his dirty thumbs not only irritated her but also unsettled her in all kind of different, terrible ways.

She stared in anger at the painting of the terrible Gem who was responsible for all of this.

‘I hate you, Rose Quartz, Pink Diamond, or whatever twisted persona you liked to pretend to be.'

Inside the Blue Gem’s mind, she felt an amalgam of negative feelings, but the two most prominent sensations that were painfully pulling her thoughts were anger and fear.

Anger at those despicable beings that insisted on getting on the way of their peaceful lives.

Fear at the idea that Pearl would prefer to return to them rather than stay with her.

‘I’m being ridiculous. There’s no way my Hot Patootie would leave me for them. She promised me, I have to believe in her.’

Believing that she wouldn’t suddenly go back being lost in her own loneliness.

In the past, Lapis wasn't aware how good it felt to have someone close to her, someone, that she could trust, rely on and be affectionate with. However, now that she had a taste of it, she didn't want to lose Pearl's company for anything, or anyone.

Those bitter feelings filled her entire being with hate.

Lapis could hardly notice when the door of the house opened and Pearl entered the room accompanied by Greg Universe.

Growling in anger, she clenched her fists.

‘This will be such a shitty night.’

 

---

 

When Pearl entered Steven’s house, she quickly noticed that Amethyst and Garnet still were absent.

Strange, but not really bothersome.

‘At least I won’t have to go through a tiresome exchange with them over the fact that Steven chosen me to play the part of his mother rather than both of them, the ones who helped raise him since he was born.’

That certainly was a low blow to their egos.

‘However as much I’m glad that situation was averted, I still wonder… Where they can be?’

Sitting on the couch, Lapis Lazuli was clenching her fists, staring at her feet, growling for an unknown reason.

‘I should approach her and ask her if she is all right…’

Carefully as to not startle her best friend, Pearl walked until she was close enough to make the Blue Gem unavoidably notice her, but not feel like she was invading her personal space. She crouched and gave her a reassuring smile, trying to coach a positive reaction, but she only managed to receive a glare.

“Sweet cheeks? Are you feeling unwell?” Pearl raised her hand, trying to touch Lapis cheeks, but decided against it at the last minute due to her best friend’s evident distress. “You’re angry? What is the matter?”

"I'm just peachy." Lapis gaze seemed to darken even further, even if her words said otherwise. "Let's just get this over with already."

Greg scratched his head awkwardly. “Uh, Lapis, its-”

“Shut up, meat bag.” The Blue Gem immediately snarled. “When I feel like hearing your nonsense, I will talk to you, otherwise, don’t try to force me to stand your presence.”

The human winced, letting his gaze waver. “Sorry…”

“Lapis, apologize right now.” Pearl frowned, her expression becoming cold. “You have no reason to mistreat him.”

The Blue Gem seemed taken back by how direct and candidly her friend reprimanded her words.

However, Lapis quickly recovered from the shock and sneered at her. "You seem to care too much for someone who caused you so much pain in your past."

“And what are you implying, Lapis?” Pearl calmly crossed her arms, her voice turning slight sarcastic. “I didn’t know that Greg was Rose Quartz all along! Go preach it to all corners of the town!”

Lapis rolled her eyes. “That’s not what I meant, and you know it.”

"Do I? Recently, I'm finding hard to believe that I can possibly know anything that you might be feeling since you won't tell me what is going on." Frustrated as Pearl suddenly seemed, she mostly shown tiredness in her whole visage. "I'm sorry if I was sarcastic, but I cannot bear having my two dearest friends arguing with each other."

The Blue Gem bit her lower lip, almost as if she felt shame over putting Pearl in this situation. She timidly stared at Pearl’s blue eyes lowering her head awkwardly. “I’m sorry too, I don’t know what I was thinking…”

“Lapis…” The pale Gem carefully hugged her friend.

After a moment in silence, Lapis hugged her back.

“There is something else you should know about the dinner…” Pearl backed away so she would be able to firmly stare at Lapis eyes. “Only Steven, Greg and I shall go meet his friend’s parents. You can’t come with us.”

Lapis face contorted again in an expression filled with anger, but she took a deep breath and gritted her teethes furiously. She answered Pearl's searching gaze with a slow, almost pain-induced voice. "I. Certainly. Understand. You."

“Oh…” Leaning back as if she was surprised with how passive the dark blue-haired Gem suddenly seemed, Pearl was at a loss of words. “W-Well then! You can wait here until we get done with the dinner, it won’t take long, knowing how humans lack the ability to make small talk in stressful situations, I’m sure we will-”

“Just go, Pearl.” Lapis weakly interrupted her. “I will be waiting for you…”

The way she spoke with such a fragility almost made Pearl give up on going to the dinner, and she felt like in her heart, there wasn’t anywhere that she rather be than at Lapis side.

But she made a promise to Steven, and she didn’t want to disappoint him.

‘Lapis can deal with this for a short while. I can make up to her later and is not like she can decide what I should do with my time, I'm not an object… Not anymore.'

Kissing between the Blue Gem’s eyebrows, Pearl stood up, walking away from the sad looking Gem. “Sit tight, I will return shortly.”

With that, Pearl and Greg left the house.

On the house’s porch, while they walked close to the staircase, Greg whispered. “It really is ok to leave her behind? I’m sure we can try to somehow fit her in on the dinner plans…”

"Always so kind-hearted, aren't you, Greg?" The pink-haired Gem sadly remarked. "Believe me, Lapis won't feel any better if she accompanies us, in fact, I reckon she will feel worse if she is forced to interact with others. She really cannot stand humans for longer than a few minutes. The entire dinner situation could escalate into an absolute debacle if she was present. Nevertheless, it's better to not risk it."

“If you say so…” Greg placed his hands on his pants pockets, stepping down the stairs followed by the pale Gem. When they reached the sand, he kicked a small lonely rock away from their path. “It’s just seemed like she was trying to not show you how much this bothered her.”

The bald man calmly looked away to the vast depts of the sea beside them, as if he was gauging which words to use.

They walked together in silence. After what seemed an eternity but actually were just a minute, he stopped in his tracks. “She truly seemed quite overprotective of you. She really cares.”

Pearl also stopped walking and she turned her head back to her human friend. "Sometimes, I wonder how true is this statement…"

If someone would consider what she just said about Lapis as ‘unfair', they weren't really paying attention to what Pearl was feeling among all those recent fights they were having nowadays.

‘I’m being ridiculous. Lapis isn’t trying to become my owner. She isn’t trying to control me. This is all circumstantial evidence. She is just worried about my safety due to everything bad that had happened to me in the past and her natural introverted behavior makes her distrust others. She isn’t like Rose Quartz.’

Even if Greg wanted to say what he and anyone with eyes could notice, with how obviously jealous the Blue Gem seemed, he couldn’t at the moment, for fate had a terrible sense of humor, and his son, Steven, had returned from the clothing store wearing a better formal attire that Pearl had picked for him, minus the leather shoes, instead wearing a pair of red sneakers.

“There you are, mom and dad!” Steven exclaimed as he hugged both adults affectionately, making both of them blush in embarrassment. “Sorry if I took so long, I really didn’t want to buy those shoes even if they were comfy.”

"Let me guess, they were made of real leather and you didn't want to wear something that harms animals just for the sake of being fashionable?" Pearl raised an eyebrow and shook her head negatively, affectionally giving him a couple of taps over his head. "I suppose it cannot really be helped, you are a gentle soul, its no wonder that you would feel sympathy even when something like the livestock is concerned."

Then, Pearl picked up the teenager in her arms effortlessly, grinning proudly. “Even if this effort might be unwarranted in some situations, I’m glad that you care this much.”

Steven squealed. “No problem, bud.”

"Now, now, Steven!" Greg picked his son from Pearl's hands. "You can't go to this dinner being so informal with your mother. How do we refer to a parent in those kinds of fancy situations?"

“Uh… I guess being more respectful?” The teen’s confused expression turned into an alarming one. “Hold on the phone! So, kids can’t joke around with their parents like you and I do, dad? Was my entire life a beautiful lie?”

‘You don’t know half of it, dear boy…’ Pearl silently thought although she was pretty sure Steven had meant it either as a joke or as something far different from the actual truth. ‘And honestly, I’m not looking forward to the day I will be forced to tell you the truth.’

"No, Steven. Greg merely said that in certain situations, like a formal evening similar to the one we're about to have, is socially expected that we adopt an appropriated behavior that might show respect to one's parents, in this particular case, you will have to measure your words and behavior to not come across to Connie's parents as overly informal." The pale Gem giggled. "They seem like the kind of people who would take offense over unnecessary demonstrations of informality, and dare I say, even affection if it wasn't socially warranted."

“Oh… Right!” The dark-haired boy nodded. “Wait! There’s one more thing that I have to do!”

“What is it, schtu-ball? Are you carrying a bottle of perfume in your pocket?” Greg asked as Steven took a small recipient from his pocket.

The teenager turned its round lid around and round, opening it, revealing that the recipient was filled with hair gel. He unceremoniously picked some of the gel on the tips of his fingers and spread it on his hair.

Both adults were confused while Steven was covering his hair in hair gel when the boy was satisfied with the results, he picked a small comb from his other pocket and combed his hair back.

Noticing Pearl’s and Greg’s perplexed silence, the teen gave them an excited smile. “I just wanted to do something different! Now it’s more like your smooth hair, Pearl!”

If the pale Gem said she wasn't feeling slight flattered with such statement, she would be lying, but a part of her was concerned over the fact that the dark-haired boy was a little too eager to emulate her.

"You're already fine as you are, Steven, but I appreciate the homage," Pearl observed how the boy seemed to deflate over her words, and the pale Gem sighed. "However, it is your body, therefore only you can define how it will look regardless of what others might think. Never try to change your appearance for the sake of anyone but yourself. Only do it if it will bring your personal satisfaction, do you understand me?"

Steven peaked over Pearl’s words, his eyes shining with awe and admiration. “Ok, mom!”

‘I can get used being called a mother by this child…’ Pearl smiled to herself, secretly glad for Steven’s impulse of inviting her for that outing and for Greg’s company. ‘I’m glad that I’m sharing this feeling with you both.’

Unbeknown to her, she was being closely watched by three jealous Gems, with a very particularly Blue Gem seething in silence…

 

---

 

A few moments shortly after Pearl and Greg had left Steven’s house, Lapis had groaned as soon as she was alone in the living quarters. “This could not get any worse…”

The door to the Crystal Temple’s inner rooms immediately activated and Garnet and Amethyst walked into the room, both of them sporting annoyed looks.

“I take back what I just said. Things just got worse…” Lapis rolled her eyes, already feeling tired just by gazing at them.

"Have you finally gone mental, your avatar's lost cousin?" Amethyst sarcastically scoffed at Lapis, receiving a threatening growl, which she ignored. "Talking with yourself is the first sign that you totally lost it, not that you weren't cray-cray, to begin with."

“You’re one to talk, being the walking Freudian example of an insecure person, who has to constantly challenge others to assure herself of her own value.” The Blue Gem evilly grinned as she effortlessly seemed to hit a sore spot on the purple Gem’s ego. “Although, it must be pretty hard for you since you always manage to behave as mediocre as possible. Congrats.”

Amethyst snarled and quickly grabbed Lapis by the collar of her top cloth. “I had enough of your bullshit!”

The purple Gem raised her fist and punched Lapis across her cheek. She reeled away due to the strength of the impact, but soon after, she smirked and loudly laughed. “Good job, runt, you’ve gone from being totally useless to become a huge disappointment. Rejoice!”

Before Amethyst could react yet again to Lapis taunt, Garnet held her back. “Enough of this, Amethyst. It will only worsen everything.”

With a grunt, the purple Gem reluctantly released her grip on Lapis collar. “You’re right, G. She’s not worth it.”

Lapis scoffed, and she absentmindedly fixed her now tousled top garment. “How interesting, this entire time you two were cowering somewhere in your pathetic rooms? How quaint, but it’s getting old to see you Crystal Chumps being so pathetic.”

"If we're going accuse each other, then I can also claim that the same thing can be applied to you, Lapis Lazuli." Garnet said as she removed her visor, allowing the Blue Gem to gaze into her three eyes. "You don't have to pretend to be fine over being left out by Pearl, and you don't need to insult us."

They stayed in an uncomfortable silence for few torturous seconds before Lapis bitterly laughed. "I had forgotten how subtle you can be, Garnet. Is it the Sapphire in you that cleaver?"

"Instead of asking an irrelevant question, perhaps it would be better if we focus on something more important." The fusion stared towards Rose's Quartz painting. "Like the fact that Steven barely knew anything about Pearl, but he seemed to think so highly of her that he chose her as his mother, while Amethyst and I are left out, even if we were the ones who raised him."

The Blue Gem snorted. “That’s a pretty bold assumption you’re making. Isn’t Steven’s father the one who did the real work around here?”

“Yeah, he did, but isn’t like we weren’t doing anything to help!” Amethyst exclaimed as she crossed her arms. “Just cut us some slack, no Gem could be prepared for this whole thing.”

“Spare my ears from hearing your exhausting rhetoric, I already know what you have to say.” Lapis pressed her hands against the couch’s surface, trying to quell the impulse that almost made her attack both Gems. "You were about to say something like ‘Steven is half-human, half-Gem. There's no one like him. He's special, a lovey-dovey sugar-coated sweetheart that is incapable of doing any harm even to a fly’. I heard it all before.”

“No, you don’t. You have no idea how hard it was for Greg, for me and Amethyst. We almost went insane trying to understand, trying to decipher exactly what Steven was since the moment he was born." Garnet scoffed. "He isn't entirely a Gem, nor he is completely human, but more so, he seemed to be something that goes even beyond what anyone can perceive. While you and Pearl were too busy gallivanting on the moon, we had to take care of him and of our own notions of what he could become."

Lapis nodded condescendingly at the fusion and flippantly said a simple answer. "Ah."

Garnet merely crossed her arms. “It’s amusing that you keep insisting that Amethyst is childish when you’re acting just as juvenile as her.”

“HEY! I resent that!” Both Lapis and Amethyst quickly retorted at the same time.

 They spend a few tense seconds in a staring match with each other until Garnet summoned her visor back and looked away. "Regardless of our particular differences, Lapis Lazuli, we had come here to ask if you also wanted to observe Steven's dinner event."

Lapis was taken by surprise, and she could not help herself but smile at them. “You mean that you wanted to spy on them.”

Before the Crystal Gems could muster any indignation, Lapis stood up and offered them her hand, in a cordial gesture. "Well then, let's go spy who is important to us already."

Wordlessly, Garnet shook Lapis hand and they left the house.

 

---

 

Pearl, Steven, and Greg left the van as they arrived at the Crab Shack, the place where they were supposed to meet Connie and her parents.

“Now… Where can they be?” Pearl whispered as she looked around, noticing a table settled just outside of the restaurant. “Maybe there?”

Lo and behold, as they approached the table, Pearl noticed Steven's friend and a couple of adults who seemed to be her parents taking a seat by the table.

‘They probably just arrived. I’m getting rusty if I couldn’t arrive before them. A new schedule program is necessary.’

Ignoring this line of thought for the moment, the pink-haired Gem eyed Greg and Steven, gauging their behavior.

As expected, both of them seemed to become increasingly anxious each step any of them took towards Connie's family.

‘That’s unbecoming, I won’t allow this to continue in such fashion.’

The pale Gem grabbed Steven’s left hand with her right one, and Greg’s right hand with her left, squeezing them in reassurance. “We got this. Everything will turn out ok.”

Both father and son relaxed and they squeezed her hands back.

The three of them approached the table, meeting the almost clinically cold gaze of Connie's mother. "Hm. I expected the three of you to arrive earlier than us since you were the one to suggest this place."

“My apologies, my husband and I wanted to look perfect before meeting such socially respected citizens like yourselves.” Pearl’s voice took a sugary sweet tone as she greeted the family before her, and the pale Gem expertly deflected the woman’s annoyance with a dose of charm laced with sarcasm. “Allow me to introduce myself.”

Elegant as she always was, the pink-haired Gem made a curtsy flawlessly. “I’m Rose Quartz Universe and this is my playful husband, Greg Universe and of course, my sweet son, Steven Quartz Universe.”

The couple gaped at Pearl, impressed with how she effortlessly and elegantly performed her actions and they could not help themselves but bask in her unusual appearance.

‘I know that for human standards, I was considered to be someone too thin, however since I was reformed as a free Gem, I did change a few relevant aspects of my physical self that I always was self-conscious about.’ Noticing how the couple were eyeing her, their cheeks flushing and how the awkwardly looked away, the pink-haired Gem smirked. ‘It is amusing how distracted and unguarded humans can become with just a pair of good breasts and a well-cared body. Regardless of any real lust or merely envy involved, it is undeniable how effective this tactic is.'

Even if the thought of getting involved with a human made her feel nauseous, at least she could use their own short-comings as something useful for her… Son?

‘It still feels awkward to call him that. Perhaps is the fact that I’m pretending to be Rose instead of myself? Not that it matters right now.’

“I… Uh…” Connie’s mother coughed in embarrassment. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran, this is my husband, Doug Maheswaran.”

The man nodded politely at Pearl, who answered him. "Likewise. I'm glad we could finally meet."

“Yes, we always wondered what kind of person your son was supposed to be, or even his parents.” Doug sternly said as he glared at Steven, who instinctively cowered in reflex. “We have to make sure our daughter isn’t spending her free time with a ruffian.”

"Ah… We can't have that, right?" Greg nervously said, his voice turning slightly high pitched. When he was faced by an even colder reception by the Maheswaran's, he side-eyed the pink-haired Gem, as if he was asking for her help.

With a sigh, Pearl squeezed his hand as an effort to calm her friend down.

As Greg squeezed her hand back, the man relaxed. “We live quite humbly, I have a carwash Steven is being homeschooled, and Pearl-”

“-She is a housewife!” Steven exclaimed.

Priyanka’s face scrunched up. “Are you saying that this educated woman doesn’t have a proper job?”

“Oh boy…” Steven bit his lower lips as he covered his mouth with one hand and he discreetly whispered at the pale Gem. “Help!”

‘…I think that I need to formally teach Steven about the importance of decorum…’ Pearl thought as she restrained herself by not chastising the boy over his reckless outburst. ‘However, I can deal with this later. Right now, I have some humans to charm.’

The pink-haired Gem smiled coyly at the couple, acquiring the reactions that she predicted.

Doug seemed to appreciate her behavior, while Priyanka, on the other hand, still glared at her skeptically.

She could easily work with this.

“You see, I do have some health issues, so I don’t really have the luxury of submitting my weak self to a battery of unforgiving work hours for the sake of being a suffragist.” She winked at the woman before her, as if she was sharing an inside joke. “Although, it isn’t easy to raise such a curious child, even if I do teach him everything I can.”

Priyanka’s posture changed at Pearl’s words, relaxing as she laughed. “Your humor is quite refreshing. Although as a doctor, I might indicate some colleagues who might be of some help in your particular situation.”

“I appreciate your concern, Ms. Maheswaran.” The pink-haired Gem smiled brightly at the woman. “Thank you.”

Priyanka gave her a nod and a small smile. “Well then, shall we order something?”

Steven gave an uneasy glance towards Pearl. “O-Ok, but I think my mom already ate back home-”

"Non-sense, Steven." The pale Gem gave the boy a slightly stern look, silently warning him to not pursue this matter. "We're here for a reason and I will partake on this restaurant’s fine cuisine.”

“Y-Yeah, Steven…” Greg stared at the boy. “Don’t worry about it.”

Even if the Maheswaran's raised their eyebrows at their exchange, they decided to not comment on it, instead, they opted to signal to the waiter so he could take their orders.

Inside Pearl's mind, she was annoyed at the situation but resigned herself to her fate.

‘This is unavoidable. I have no choice but to make myself a copy of the human’s digestive system so I can eat and pretend to those people that I’m enjoying the food. If I don’t, they might perceive my refusal as an insult and might thrown all of our efforts away.’

She gritted her teethes, bracing herself for the horrid experience she was about to endure.

‘I hope Steven is at least thankful for my sacrifice…’

“Good evening, how may I serve you tonight?” The waiter politely asked. “Have you already perused our menu?”

“Not really.” Greg awkwardly answered him. “Do you have a recommendation?”

The waiter opened the menu and quickly pointed to a specific item. “I personally recommend our Mexican Paella with Cauliflower Rice, since all of our previous clients who tried it absolutely loved its taste.”

Greg quickly smiled cheerfully. “There’s a first time for any kind of food. I want to try it.”

The waiter wrote Greg’s order down and turned towards Pearl. “And you, ma’am?”

‘Honestly, this and garbage looks all the same to me, regardless of their taste, so I guess I will pick something at random and pray for this torture to end soon.’

Resigning herself to her awful fate, the pale Gem pointed towards an item from the menu’s first page. “This one.”

The waiter looked at the item’s name and wrote it down. “I see. The Salmon Carpaccio, it is a delicious dish.”

“Can I choose something, dad?” Steven asked. “I liked the burger on the kid’s page.”

“Of course, buddy.” Greg ruffled his son’s hair. “Go for it.”

“Very well.” The waiter wrote Steven’s order down.

Turning towards the Maheswaran’s, the man also asked them what they wanted to eat and offered them his recommendations and soon enough, the couple settled for a salad and a shrimp risotto.

“Do you wish for some beverages?” The waiter also asked.

“Just a jar of orange juice for us.” Doug politely said. Then he stared at Greg. “What about you, Universe’s?”

“I guess some cherry sodas for the three of us?” Greg quickly said, eyeing Pearl discreetly as he whispered. “You don’t need to drink if you don’t want it.”

“Thank you.” The pale Gem answered him. “However, it cannot be avoided, but I appreciate your efforts.”

They exchanged happy smiles, glad for each other company at that troublesome situation.

‘I’m really glad Greg is here since he always tries his best even if he fails. At least shows that he cares.’

As the waiter left, Priyanka crossed her arms and gave Pearl an obvious looking fake smile. "So, tell me, Rose Quartz, how did you and your husband first meet? It must be quite the story for a woman of your stature to get involved with… Him.”

Greg laughed nervously. Pearl glanced at him and she could practically taste his low self-esteem increasing due to the said statement, how much that simple thing made him feel so small.

A part of her wanted to punch that woman’s condescending smile off her face and put this entire night away in a recluse corner of her mind, left to be forgotten like many other situations from her past, but she decided otherwise.

There are many ways one can hurt another with words.

The pink-haired Gem smiled.

“I met Greg on his first show in Beach City, many years ago. We loved the fact that regardless of everything, we are actually very much similar and since then, we always cared for each other.” Pearl shrugged. “Love is a beautiful thing. I pity the couples who marry due to an arrangement, they will never know what real love is, no matter what they do or how many years have passed.”

Priyanka immediately lost her smile and it was almost as if someone had slapped her face. Her expression had turned comically angry, then sad and simply bitter.

…As Pearl had expertly deduced.

‘So, she did marry her husband due to an arrangement instead of love. Interesting, even if this was a shot in the dark. I’m glad that I could make her pay for insulting Greg.’

Priyanka suddenly raised up from the chair, muttering a simple ‘excuse me’ and walked towards the bathroom. Doug coughed in embarrassment and followed her. Her daughter, Connie, followed them with her eyes worriedly.

“…I think you really hurt her, Pearl.” Greg whispered. “She gave the feeling like that she was about to cry.”

Feigning innocence, Pearl gave the man a look of shock. “Oh, my goodness, I had no idea! How could I possibly have known about it?”

“Thats ok, Pearl, it wasn’t your fault…” Connie said. “I will look for them, so can the three of you wait here until we return?”

“Of course…” Steven whispered to his friend. As Connie left their table to look for her parents, the boy turned to the remaining adults. “I hope she’s ok…”

“Don’t worry, Steven.” Pearl gave him an encouraging smile. “I’m sure your friend will be ok.”

The boy lowered his head, twiddling his thumbs. “I’m not really worried about her right now, like, her mother really seemed upset.”

They stayed in silence for a moment, and Greg nervously smiled at Pearl. “I’m sure everything will be fine. R-Right Pearl?”

The pale Gem read in the anxious man expression how nervous he was, how much he needed her assurance in this matter so he could offer his own son a semblance of comfort.

‘Greg, it just shows how much you are a good father for this boy, and how much Steven empathize with others around him, even if they don’t really deserve it.’

As much as Pearl tried at the moment, she wasn't used dealing with a teenager's feelings, so she, like Greg, did come across as nervous and anxious. "C-Certainly, Greg! W-Why it wouldn't? Everything will turn out ok…!"

‘Oh dear. For the sky’s sake, this really isn’t the time for me to get like this. Why am I so nervous?’

Pearl hugged herself, a feeling she didn't felt for so many years suddenly rearing its ugly presence in her immaterial heart, filling her entire self with uncertainty and fear. She no longer was used to dealing with it, so gave her the impression that it was worse than before.

But like a savior that fell down from heaven, Greg calmed her nerves with a firm, affectionate hug.

"There, there, buddy. I got your back." He reassured her frayed nerves. "We're doing this for our kid, so nothing that they say can harm us, and we won't let them keep Steven away from whom he likes."

Hearing Greg’s words, Pearl immediately relaxed, hugging back just as tightly. “Human/Gem best buddies?”

Greg giggled. “Yeah! Best buddies!”

‘Nothing can ruin this moment of peace and quiet for me!’

Little did she know that just a few meters away from them, behind the rock formation, Lapis, Amethyst, and Garnet were observing everything.

 

---

 

“What are they doing?” Amethyst asked as she tried to look over the stones before her without falling off the cliff. “And stop shoving me, your stupid bitch!”

Lapis rolled her eyes. “I wouldn’t be doing that if you weren’t crawling around like a creep.”

"Be quiet, both of you!" Garnet whispered, but almost sound like a shout with how imperious it was. "Do you want them to notice us? What do you think will happen?"

“I don’t know, something annoying?” The Blue Gem scoffed. “However, I find it hard to believe considering how bothersome this entire situation is.”

Garnet clenched her fists. “It will only get worse if you keep acting like a human child, so stop right now.”

Lapis opened her mouth as if she wanted to answer the fusion rudely, but she stopped as soon as she noticed Greg hugging Pearl. “What the hell was that?”

“Wait a sec.” Amethyst took a binocular from her Gem and used it to survey the table area. "Oh man, is Greg making a move on our Pearl? And here I thought that she wasn't his type!"

“WHAT!” Lapis grabbed Amethyst’s binocular from her hands and used it to observe Pearl. Just as Amethyst had said, Greg was tightly hugging her best friend. “That human must have a death wish!”

Garnet immediately grabbed both of the Blue Gem’s wrists. “Calm down!”

Lapis released the binocular and started to struggle against the fusion. “Release me, you imbecile!”

The fusion didn’t answer her, instead just opting to hold her down.

As Lapis jerked around the rocky cliff, she was able to see further, even without the binoculars, and she clearly saw Pearl hugging the human back.

Then, the Blue Gem saw red.

In a blink, Garnet was thrown away by a strong water current that sprouted from Lapis hands and she quickly summoned her wings.

Amethyst summoned her whip and tried to subdue the Blue Gem before she could take flight, but she underestimated the strength of Lapis wings, and promptly was thrown away like a rag as soon as Lapis flew away.

Quickly unleashing herself from the whip, the Blue Gem immediately flew towards the hugging friends, not caring for anything else.

 

---

 

What happened after their innocent hug was definitely weird, at least in Pearl’s opinion.

First, she heard a strange noise, then the sound of something heavy falling off, then a sudden gush of wind and then, out of nowhere, the wind around them almost thrown Pearl against the floor.

“What in the world is going on?” Pearl released Greg and assumed a battle stance, preparing herself for an attack…

…When she saw Lapis Lazuli, flying over them with her entire countenance giving off so much aggression that even her felt unsure.

‘What is she doing?’

“Lapis! What is the meaning of this?!” Pearl asked as she saw other customers and waiters staring at them in awe and fear. “I told you to wait back at home!”

The Blue Gem growled, but not at Pearl. “How dare you take advantage of her?”

“Uh?” Confused and a little afraid, Greg pointed towards himself. “Are you talking to me?”

“Who else is despicable enough to do something like this?” With a quick movement of her water wings, Lapis flew down, grabbed Greg by his sweater collar and raised him off the ground. “I will save her, just like she saved me!”

Struggling against the firm hold, the human tried to reason. “Y-You are mistaken! I didn’t-”

The Blue Gem raised her fist, and it became clear that she was going to punch him…

…Only to have her arm held by Pearl’s delicate, but firm touch. “Enough of this. You are taking things out of proportion. Again.”

Lapis frowned, looking at Greg and at Pearl for some moments when she sighed, releasing the human. “I… I don’t know what is really going on, Pearl! The only thing that I know is that I’m just so angry…”

Massaging her temples in an attempt to soothe an incoming migraine, the pink-haired Gem gave an exasperated answer. "That isn't an excuse. You can't go around doing things like that, threatening people whom I care for and expect me to just forgive you every time. Stop being so immature."

It was almost as if Lapis was slapped. Both of her eyes glistened as if she was about to cry. Then, she shook her head negatively, and she whispered at her. "I'm so sorry!"

And just as fast as she appeared, Lapis flew away, lost in the dark night.

Pearl stared at her retreating form, and she felt her own eyes glisten. She wouldn't cry for something as simple as this, but that didn't mean that she wasn't sad.

"She is pretty jealous, isn't she, Pearl?" Steven asked after a few seconds. "I hope she's all right…"

“Me too, Steven…” Pearl whispered. “Me too…”

The wind around them had calmed down, but to Pearl, it was almost as if she was thrown on the middle of a violent hurricane.

Her heart was so much worried about her best friend. Clearly, she wasn't ok, and she needed to spend more time with her to find out why she was acting like that.

“Can someone please tell me what the hell had just happened?" Doug Maheswaran angrily exclaimed as he approached their table. "I demand you to give us an answer this very instant!"

‘Oh, right. I forgot about them.’ Pearl rolled her eyes as if she turned to the now upset couple. ‘I’m tired of this charade. I will explain everything and if they try to keep Steven away from his friend, well, I can find other ways of making them accept their friendship.’

 

---

 

It took a long time, but Pearl, Steven, Connie, and Greg managed to explain what they could to the Maheswaran's. It still grated Pearl's nerves to give them the proper explanations, and part of her just wanted to simply throw this entire matter away and return home, but every second that she glanced and saw how hopeful Steven and Connie were, she could not help but be enthralled by their affection towards each other, with how much they cared for their friendship.

It made her remember her own friendship with Lapis and made her feel guilty for the way she talked to her.

So, she kept going and kept talking, finally reaching a common ground with the two very strict parents.

“My wife and I apologize to the three of you for this entire debacle.” Doug awkwardly said. “Perhaps if we were a bit more lenient in our approach, this entire situation could be avoided.”

“Indeed.” Pearl agreed. “Although I’m not Steven’s biological mother, as a responsible adult, I also dislike the idea of keeping this charade going.”

"Then, none of your other… Aunts are involved with you, Greg?" Priyanka asked. "They are this boy caretakers aren't they?"

Greg quickly answered. "God no! They really are nothing but good friends! I'm actually glad that they can keep Steven safe while I go to work, nowadays it is quite a feat."

“You tell me.” Doug agreed. “The number of teenagers that I see getting into trouble for all kind of reprehensible reasons has skyrocketed in the last few years. It’s a total miracle that we could keep our family relatively secure. I’m glad that your boy is similar to our Connie in this regard.”

With her eyes shining, Connie timidly asked. “So, I can still hang out with Steven?”

With a sigh and a nod, Priyanka reassured her daughter. “Sure.”

“ALL RIGHT!” Steven immediately ran and tightly hugged Connie, making her blush from head to toe. He didn’t notice, as he kept nuzzling her affectionately.

With an indignant huff, Doug separated both teenagers, giving a satisfied nod when they were a few feet away from each other.

Pearl could not help but exchange a smile with Greg.

‘Steven and Connie are really good for each other. I’m glad Steven have found such a caring person to be his best friend.’

And in the back of her mind, it only made Pearl long for Lapis company.

 

---

 

It took three hours, but Lapis eventually appeared at the Crystal Gem’s headquarters.

“Just look who’s back with her tail between her legs!” Amethyst sarcastically scoffed. “Have you come back to make everything worse, like you usually do?”

“Stop acting like that, Amethyst.” Garnet reprehended the short Gem. “I’m sorry for what happened. None of us behaved as we should in that situation.”

Lapis waved away. “It’s fine, Garnet. I was an ass to everyone, as they usually say.”

The Blue Gem let her wings disappear, feeling the sand beneath her feet.

Garnet sighed. “Pearl is inside. She’s really worried about you.”

Lapis flinched and for a moment, she seemed fragile. “Is she? Oh, I must have really upset her with the way I just… Wrecked everything.”

“You surely did, Smurf fest.” The purple Gem flatly remarked. “But Garnet is right, homegirl couldn’t relax the entire time she was here, no matter what we did. She also kept staring at your photo like a creep, so there’s that.”

Lapis perked up, her eyes grew big with hope, giving a sincere smile towards Amethyst, of all people. "She did?”

“Yeah, she did.” The purple Gem said as she raised an eyebrow. “What the hell is wrong with you both? Do you guys get crazy on the moon and keep staring at each other all day? Do you keep her hair on a bottle so you can smell later? Please tell me you don’t go around eating her stuff like a-”  

"Thank you so much!" Lapis grabbed the small Gem and gave her such a strong hug that for a moment, Amethyst felt like she would lose her form. The Blue Gem spun Amethyst around for a few times when she finally released her and flew away towards Steven's house, excited to meet and to make it up with her beloved best friend.

"Uh, you're welcome?" The purple Gem said, not really sure that Lapis even could hear her at this point, especially when the Blue Gem got inside Steven's house.

Amethyst turned towards Garnet. “What the flying fuck just happened right now?”

“Language, Amethyst, Steven might be able to hear.” The fusion reprehended her friend, but even as she did, she was smiling. “And I think that Lapis just started to bond with us, although, I’m sure she also was too lost in her joyful thoughts to be able to hear some of the things you said to her.”

“Like what?” The purple Gem seemed to think for a brief moment when she laughed. “Oh, you mean the part that I talked about their fetish? Man, I so want to annoy her with that.”

“Do try to keep this for yourself at least at this present moment, Amethyst…” Garnet approached her friend and gave her a tap on her head. “She still needs to get closer to us, or you might push her further away.”

“Argh, I hate when you’re right.” Amethyst sighed, but quickly she smirked. “So, do you want to see Pearl and Lapis being gay together?”

The fusion giggled. “Of course I do.”

They walked back to the Crystal Temple.

 

---

 

Pearl was nervously tapping her foot against the house's wooden floor as Steven explained the rules of the game. Honestly, she couldn't care less for it. The only thing in her mind at that moment was Lapis whereabouts and her well-being, so it was pretty hard to focus on anything else.

“I’m sorry, Steven.” Pearl said as soon as she found the strength to properly voice her thoughts. “I really think I’m not able to play any games right now.”

Steven put down the game pieces on its box. “You’re really worried about Lapis, aren’t you?”

Nodding slowly, Pearl looked down. “Yes, I am.”

“Don’t worry, mom.” Steven put a hand on the pale Gem’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. “She will be back. She likes you too, so she won’t ever leave you alone.”

Before Pearl could answer the boy, the house’s door opened with a sounding ‘blam’, and Lapis Lazuli made her presence known.

“Pearl!” The Blue Gem eyes glinted in the house’s light as if it were filled with stars. “I’m back!”

“Lapis!” Pearl stood up, ignoring the board game, ignoring the boy beside her, ignoring the house and everything else besides the Blue Gem before her.

Her eyes also looked like stars.

Without further words, they both ran towards each other.

When their bodies met, they immediately meld in a deep, strong, affectionate embrace, breathing each other smell, sighing in relief and feeling completely relaxed.

They didn’t move. They didn’t talk, at least, not for a long moment, too much lost in the blissful knowledge that they were finally together.

After what seemed years, but actually were just a few minutes, they both backed away, although, they held each other hands.

“I was an idiot.” Lapis said. “I don’t know what is happening to me, and why am I acting like a selfish brat, but you’re right. There’s something wrong and things cannot keep going like that. It isn’t healthy for me, for you, and for anyone else.”

"I'm glad that you are owning up to the things you did, but don't act like you are the only one who did something wrong." Pearl pressed a kiss between Lapis eyebrows. "We kept ourselves away from others for too long, then I suddenly start to become affable to other people besides you. It is obvious that things would go downhill from that."

The Blue Gem squeezed Pearl's hands. "Pearl, I appreciate that you care enough about us that you feel the need to point this, but you cannot read anyone's mind, and you can't be responsible for what I do or how I feel towards others, at least not like that. Don't blame yourself over something that you can't control. You already put so many things over your shoulders, you don't need to put our friendship as well."

Pearl’s entire face flushed. “Lapis…”

They hugged again, and she nuzzled her best friend’s neck.

Both Gems would keep being affectionate with each other if they didn’t hear the obvious sound of someone swooning.

They backed away and looked around.

Lo and behold, they were being watched by a swooning Steven, who seemed so happy that his cheeks were red with embarrassment, a clearly mocking Amethyst, who made kiss noises just to spite both Gems, and the ever-neutral Garnet, who did nothing but give both of them the positive sign that she made with her thumb.

Lapis could not help herself but blush at their presence. “I think we should go back home, Pearl.”

Nodding, the pale Gem quickly agreed. “Indeed, Lapis. Let’s return to our moon.”

With a few farewell words exchanged with the Crystal Gems, Lapis and Pearl returned to their moon base.

What an eventful, strange day.

---

 

Chapter Text

 

When the Shatter Stars arrived on their Moon Base, as soon as the door to the endless blackness of space was closed behind them, they immediately walked towards their couch.

They needed to have a serious talk. This ongoing situation was souring their relationship. It couldn’t continue.

With this on her mind, Lapis knew that Pearl wanted answers, therefore she needed to provide them as best as she could.

So, she took a deep breath just to soothe her incoming anxious thoughts and started the hard, but very needed conversation. “This situation is wrecking everything that we build together as friends, Pearl. It is my fault and you don’t deserve any of it.”

The pale Gem silently looked away.

‘That is going about how I expected…’

"What I mean to say is… I'm jealous. You already knew that, but I think you don't get the other reasons I have for that bothersome behavior." Lapis grabbed her head. "I've been going over this over and over again in my head and still doesn't make sense at all."

Pearl just nodded. “Go on.”

The Blue Gem sighed. “I always said that it was mighty suspicious how you suddenly became more affable to that kid, but after that weird thing with the Metatron, I was sure of it.”

“What are you implying?” Pearl asked. “Please, don’t be afraid to tell me.”

"I think that boy has some kind of natural empathy influencer, it wasn't very much visible at first, so I couldn't be sure, but after you used that Metatron device on him, it became far stronger and evident… You acted completely different since them." Lapis released her head and turned to her friend, who was staring at her completely awestruck. "Yes, I know you were opening up to him before you used the Metatron, but even you cannot deny that you suddenly were far more willing to go with his wishes as soon as you used that device on him. You even got completely nervous when he became slightly worried! You never did that, at least you never did since we met each other."

Pearl’s jaw slacked and she slowly nodded in agreement. “Stars… You are absolutely right! This is unnatural for me. When I wasn’t free, this behavior was expected of me since I was, quite frankly, very neurotic, but now, I shouldn’t be acting like that…”

“Now you see why I’m so disturbed about everything that is going on?” Lapis eyes glistened with unfallen tears. “I already told you that I was jealous of your proximity with them, this I won’t deny, but that uncertainty was driving me insane! I don’t want you to go back to be used by anyone, no matter if it is something that boy can control or not.”

“Lapis… Thank you for being sincere.” Pearl bit her lower lip. “I need to run some tests on the Metatron to be able to form a defense plan against this empathy attack, but it might prove difficult since I can’t use its last remaining charge without a proper reason.”

The Blue Gem grabbed Pearl’s hands. “I want to help you. I know that I’m not a genius like you, but I really want to do something!”

“Of course you can help me, Lapis. I always prefer your company over anyone else, you know.” The pale Gem kissed the tip of her friend’s nose, making her blush. “Now, let’s see what we can find about this device, shall we?”

Nodding in agreement, Lapis kissed Pearl’s nose, returning the gesture. “Ok, Hot Patootie.”

 

---

 

After hours and hours of tinkering and analyzing what they could of the Metatron device without activating it, Lapis could not help but feel stressed out. She didn’t voice her thoughts out loud but it was obvious that her companion seemed equally frustrated.

‘This Metatron thing better show us something or I think I’m going to use it on myself if I have to, just to make sure this matter could finally end.’

As sudden as this thought crossed Lapis mind, Pearl stretched her arms and turned towards the Blue Gem at her side. "I think I might have discovered something. Care to hear about it, my Supreme Leader?"

"Sure, let's hear it, C.O.L.D. Captain, my captain."

Pearl pointed towards the Metatron with the tip of her pen. “I didn’t properly disassemble it since it could have the risk of activating it by accident, but I could study the circuits and the other workings beyond the exterior husk involving it, and as you had inferred, this light-based device can increase a Gem inherent ability, be it something passively activated or not.”

“So, I was right. Steven does have a natural empathy influence over the others around him.” Lapis stated as she nodded to herself. “Well, as you said, it’s probably beyond his control. I doubt he can use this to force someone to do his bidding if it is something the Gem is particularly opposed.”

“I don’t think he knows about it, and to put it candidly, its not that powerful of a skill. I mean, he is a Diamond and all, but his organic side certainly diluted any kind of influence that he might have. So, no worries about him using others to do his bidding.” Pearl frowned. “However, the Metatron probably malfunctioned over all those thousand years that it stayed dormant. I believe that it might have gone haywire and it changed its preferences over the issued commands, therefore, increasing Steven’s natural influence over others. However…”

The pale Gem looked away, seemly nervous.

Lapis approached her and hugged her friend. “There… I’m here for you. You can tell me everything, Pearl.”

Pearl hugged the Blue Gem back, tightly and anxiously. After some moments, she pushed her away, making them gaze into each other eyes. “I discovered something else, and it only added fuel to my theory…”

Arching an eyebrow, Lapis tilted her head slightly. “Tell me.”

“This specific Metatron device was personally made by no one other than White Diamond.”

There was an uncomfortable silence around them. Lapis herself seemed nervous and slight panicked over it.

"W-White Diamond?" Receiving a nod in confirmation, the Blue Gem's eyes seemed to grow big in astonishment. "Oh, crap…"

“Yeah… I think I need to tell you something very terrible about me… I really didn’t want to ever talk about it, but this leaves me no choice on the matter.” Pearl took a deep breath. “I will apologize in advance over it, but please, do try to remain calm.”

‘Huh?’

Confused with her friend’s words but not knowing how to properly answer her, Lapis simply nodded in acknowledgment.

"Lapis… As you might know, Pink Diamond was the youngest of the Diamond Authority, so she was considered the, uh, ‘weakest' of them. Do you know why?" Pearl waited for Lapis to say something when she saw her friend shaking her head negatively, she proceeded. "Because she was the one who was overflowing with ‘emotions'. She was the most, let's say, defective of them. White Diamond made her by giving her all of her ‘flaws', therefore becoming completely perfect after it. So, we can say that there was a direct link between White and Pink Diamond."

The Blue Gem nodded, still not understanding where her friend intended to go with this argument.

“Which brings me to another thing: Pink Diamond’s Pearl and White Diamond’s Pearl.” Pearl closed her eyes and when she opened them again, they seemed empty of all emotions.

Lapis felt a twinge of fear while looking at them.

 “I wasn’t Pink Diamond’s original Pearl, rather, I was actually White Diamond’s Pearl.”

The Blue Gem backed away from her friend immediately. “WHAT?”

With a face that betrayed no emotion, no thoughts, nothing at all, Pearl seemed like a completely different Gem.

And it dawned at Lapis mind: At that moment, Pearl seemed just like White Diamond.

“If… If you are the White Pearl, then who…”

“Then who is the puppet-like doll that was acting as White Diamond’s personal servant in my stead?” Pearl bluntly cut through Lapis words. “The original Pink Pearl, of course.”

“Huh?” Lapis hold the side of her face, feeling an incoming migraine. “Then… White Diamond… Pink Diamond… Trade up their Pearls? Why?”

“The real reason for this belongs to no one but them, I’m afraid, however, if I may be so bold, I would think it has something to do with the relationship between Pink Diamond and her original Pearl.”

“Relationship?” Lapis thoughts were running wild on her mind. “Are you telling me they-”

Walking until she was just a few inches from her friend, Pearl held Lapis head.

"Yes. They were in a romantic relationship, and Pink Pearl, much like her owner; had a playful non-conforming personality that naturally despised being forced to obey norms and rules. Pink Diamond herself was like that, and when they made her personal Pearl, those repressed traits passed through to her servant, the same one that unlike her, wasn't really afraid to showcase her distaste over the infinite number of rules that Homeworld imposed over them." Pearl gave an eerie pitiful laugh as if she was scoffing over how ironic everything seemed. "While they did their best to hide their own nature around everyone else, it is no wonder that eventually it would slip past them. So, you can imagine how well that situation would go with the remaining members of the Diamond Authority."

‘Oh, my beautiful sky…'

Both of Lapis eyebrows arched. “They took her away from Pink Diamond since they blamed her for putting those ‘rebellious thoughts’ on her head?”

"Correct. White Diamond decided that Pink Pearl was a bad influence since she exacerbated Pink Diamond's flaws, therefore, she needed to have a rational and loyal Pearl who wouldn't be quick to go along with every plan that might turn her away from their preconceived notions… And who would be better for the job than a perfect Pearl personally made by the most perfect Gem?" Pearl released her friend's head. "However, it seems that White Diamond misjudge how influential the natural Pearl's loyalty command could influence the outcome of things since I ended up in a similar state just like Pink Pearl would.  Its no wonder how I could never adapt to Pink Diamond's visions of a ‘perfect' world. It's against my very nature to completely accept her behavior. I never believed in any of that, I just followed her orders as I was supposed to. My real personality is more akin to White Diamond's than to what one would expect of me as Pink Diamond's supposed Pearl, even if they did try to overwrite me so I could properly ‘fit' Pink Diamond's never-ending demands."

“By all celestial bodies in the universe… Pearl…” Lapis hugged the pale Gem with all of her strength. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea…”

Pearl hugged Lapis back. "Well, it's not like I wanted anyone to know about any of this. I repressed everything for a reason, and… There are much that even I don't know about regarding all of this. What I'm telling you is just what I can recollect."

“Still, this isn’t something to take lightly.” Lapis backed a little away so she could pepper her friend’s face with many kisses.

The pink-haired Gem blushed in her light blue color. “L-Lapis?”

Lapis stopped kissing her face and noticed how she had made her friend skin become beautifully flushed.

It made her feel a burst of happiness.

“Sorry, I just felt like it… Like you needed that…” The Blue Gem bit her lower lip, suddenly unsure. “A-Am I bothering you?”

Pearl shook her head negatively. “Not really, you just caught me by surprise. I mean… I thought you would be angry or something.”

Lapis raised an eyebrow inquisitively. “Why would I?”

“Because I didn’t tell you about any of this?”

This time, Lapis giggled. “I would never get angry over something like that. If I was in your shoes, I would do the same. It is the White Diamond that we’re talking about and let’s be realistic, she is creepy as hell.”

Both Gems laughed.

Caressing Lapis Cheek, Pearl smiled at her awkwardly. “As much as I wish to simply let this matter rest, there’s a reason why I told you about all those things. Care to hear about it?”

“Of course. Tell me.”

Pearl took a deep breath. “The reason that I told you about all of that is the fact that I wanted you to understand that there's is a link between Pink Diamond and White Diamond. Also, I wanted you to understand that the Metatron was made by White Diamond and since it can increase or restore a Gem’s abilities, it wouldn’t be a stretch if we theorize that this device somehow acted as a catalyst to Steven’s link as a Diamond towards me, even if I am a free Pearl. It might be something temporarily, but it can also be permanent, I don’t have enough data to make an affirmation either way.”

“By the emptiness of the vast space, this is so messed up that I cannot even phantom much about it.” Lapis sighed. “Well, it cannot be helped right now. At least now you know why I was weirded out by your sudden willingness to approach that kid.”

Pearl nodded. "Indeed. If it were just your jealousness, it would be one thing, but this adds an entirely new can of worms to this already complicated matter."

“You know, I think we need a break from everything that is going on.” Suddenly being struck by a thought, Lapis excitedly turned to her friend. “How about we play on the snow?”

Pearl blinked both of her eyes for a moment before she smiled sweetly at the Blue Gem. “Certainly. Do you have a specific place where you want to go?”

Jumping excitedly, Lapis exclaimed. “Let’s go to the South Pole! We can take pictures of the Penguins and not be bothered by any annoying humans while we go exploring!”

"Great Idea, Little Lappy." Pearl playfully ruffled Lapis hair. "Now, let's get our things to start our little vacation."

 

---

 

The South Pole was cold as she expected. Flying from the moon to this specific point proved to be slightly annoying due to the ice storm they were caught on as soon as they arrived. Even if Lapis only had to concentrate enough so she could make an igloo for them to wait, it was a fair trade for the peace and quiet it provided.

For the next hour, they waited around while Pearl played her violin. Lapis instantaneously relaxed hearing those soft, enthralling songs, humming in sync with each new melody added.

‘Such a peaceful thing can never be bought…’

She felt almost saddened when the storm had ended and they had to leave the comfort of their temporary shelter.

‘It doesn’t matter. We have all the time in the world to relax, but I really want to play around the snow.’

Lapis concentrated and the igloo came undone before their eyes. She turned towards her companion, smiling from one ear to the other. “So, my dearest friend, is there anything that you wanted to do with me in this place?”

Funny enough, Pearl seemed taken aback for a second before she snickered. “Oh Lapis, sometimes I forget how cute you are saying those things, especially since they can be taken out of context…”

“Huh?” Lapis raised an eyebrow. “You know, I don’t get it, have I said something wrong?”

Pearl kissed the Blue Gem’s cheek an gave her a bright smile. “No, I’m just joking around. Sorry for that.”

Lapis shyly smiled back. “I’ll forgive you if you dance with me.”

“You don’t even need to ask, I will always agree to dance with you.” Pearl looked around and apparently seemed like she had an idea. “Say, Lapis, what are your thoughts about ice-skating?”

“Ice-skating?” The Blue Gem have heard that term before. She pondered for a moment when it finally dawned to her. “Oh, that! I never tried, but it could be nice. What about you?”

Pearl's eyes seemly shined brighter under the faint sunrays that covered the sky. "I did a long time ago, but I never really danced while I was skating through the ice."

Excitedly holding her friend’s hands, Lapis eyes shined just as brighter. “So, we’re going to be each other firsts? Oh, I’m so happy!”

Again, Pearl seemed taken aback, and then, she blushed beautifully. “Geez, now you’re really pushing it…”

Lapis stopped and frowned in confusion when a thought crossed her mind and made her feel awkward. "…Am I saying perverted things without knowing, Pearl?"

The pale Gem sighed. “They aren’t perverted per se, is more like I’m the one with a wild mind, I think.”

In a flash, Lapis face became dark blue with embarrassment. “W-Well! W-We s-should move on, how a-about it?”

“Y-Yeah, that would be for the best.” Pearl smiled awkwardly. “If you could make an ice rink and give us proper ice blades so we can slide over the ice, that would be a good start…”

Lapis nodded. “Sure!”

With a flick of her hands, under their feet appeared thin ice-skating blades. “It’s a little weird seeing my feet with those things, at least it is if we consider the human’s standards.”

Pearl placed both hands against the Blue Gem’s waist, caressing it gently. “Luckily for us, there isn’t any stupid human around us.”

“Yeah… There’s just us…” Lapis returned the gesture by also caressing the pink-haired Gem’s waist with her hands. “No humans, no Crystal Chumps… Just us, as it was meant to be.”

They stared at each other, and that moment, Lapis only wanted to bask in her precious friend presence… And weirdly enough, she just knew that the same thought was crossing Pearl’s mind.

Their eyes were just the same. Just like everything about them.

Wordlessly, without any of them really asking, they moved.

Both Gem's danced across the ice, with Pearl majestically pirouetting and moving like a true goddess and Lapis as her close second. Every time they passed each other, their eyes would say one thousand things at once, and Lapis could do nothing but be drawn to her.

Pearl was like this shining beacon of hope in her empty existence, at least this is what the Blue Gem felt while she stared at the pale Gem’s direction, at her fluid movements that kept enthralling and beckoning her to approach her.

To touch her.

To do unspeakable things to her.

‘I want to… What?’

It was confusing. She could not really know the name that she wanted to say. It was like that Big Book of Science, when Lapis read about the microorganisms, most specific, how they could combine and make other ones seemly like it, or even as they could become just one entity.

Stars, she wanted to be absorbed by Pearl.

Wanted to feel that skin like her own, to become part of her.

The Blue Gem almost lost her balance when it finally dawned to her:

‘I want to fuse with her?’

As she was perplexed by this very thought, she didn’t notice how fast she slid away, and sooner than she could think, she crashed against a huge pile of snow.

“Lapis!” Pearl approached her dizzy friend. “Are you ok?”

Still feeling confused over that strange thought, Lapis shook it away from her mind as soon as she saw her best friend worried face staring down at her.

“I’m fine, C.O.L.D. Captain, I just became distracted…”

Pearl grabbed the Blue Gem and helped her to her feet. “I noticed, perhaps you want to take a break?”

Lapis shook her head negatively. “Nah, but can I have one request?”

"Go ahead, Supreme Leader," Pearl said even as she was batting the remaining snow away from Lapis clothes.

Blushing, Lapis shyly stared at her friend. “Can you hold me while we dance together?”

Pearl blinked but just as fast, she took one of the Blue Gem’s hands on her own. “You don’t even need to ask.”

And they danced together, this time, without severing the contact for more than a few seconds, always touching each other as much as they could.

In the back of Lapis mind, a bittersweet thought ran wild.

‘It doesn't matter if I want to fuse with Pearl or not, that won't ever happen. Pearl already made quite clear that she won't fuse with anyone again, and I would never ever subject her over this kind of pain just to sate my own curiosity. I care too much about her for that.'

And then, Lapis decided to kill any chance of ever wanting to fuse with her friend again.

Real friendship wasn’t about one forcing their wishes upon another.

Little did she knew that the same could be said about romantic relationships, but then again, Lapis still wasn’t aware of everything that was happening in her heart around this time.

They still hadn’t learned.

And they would invariably learn. Unfortunately, in the hard, painful, gruesome way.

 

---

 

They spend around five days on the South Pole. Dancing, playing on the snow, swimming in the cold waters and even interacting with the wildlife from the area.

All in one, a good vacation from all of their troublesome events that the Crystal Gems usually bothered them with.

When they returned back home, as soon as the door closed behind them, Lapis exclaimed. “I swear, that static flooring device that you made was one of the most useful technologies ever created by any Gem.”

Pearl left the Blue Gem’s embrace and playfully skipped around the room. “Oh? Are you saying this since neither the objects nor we aren’t being sucked away to the emptiness of the space? Or are you just trying to flatter my beautiful ego?”

Lapis giggled and coyly tapped the taller Gem’s nose with the tip of her finger. “I’m not insane enough to disagree with my Hot Patootie over any of those statements.”

“And I’m so glad my cute Little Lappy is so obedient.” Pearl grabbed the shorter Gem by her waist and spin her around like they did so many times on their dances. “Now, is there something that I can do for my little jealous best friend or can I go back to my science books?”

Blushing and feeling slight indignant over her friend statement, Lapis crossed her arms. “W-Well, you can try some of my new fashion creations, if I might be so bold.”

“How can I refuse to be pampered by my favorite fashion designer?” The pale Gem skipped over the stairs. “Well, I will race you to the third floor!”

“Pearl!” Lapis exclaimed before her friend started to go up the stairs, making her turn back. “I… I want to work on my jealousy issues… So… Maybe you can help me with that? I mean, when we have the chance to interact with the Crystal Chumps and all that…”

 Pearl seemed astonished, and she gave her friend a bright, joyful smile. “Of course I will. I’m glad you’re doing this. I’m so proud of you.”

“I just don’t think it will do anyone good to behave so insecurely, Pearl.” And then, Lapis flashed her usual mischievous grin. “Besides, I’m better than any of them combined, so I have no reason to even feel threatened by their pitiful existence.”

Pearl guffawed. “You’re right about that. I’m glad you finally noticed.”

The pale Gem turned around and kept going up the stairs.

Lapis sighed tiredly, but she was feeling genuinely happy.

‘Pearl is my best friend. My only friend. She cares for me, and now that I know everything, I feel far more at ease. That kid, Steven, is not a threat at all. I think I can start to be nicer to them…’

Even if that whole thing regarding White Diamond still creeped her out, on that simple moment, Lapis was completely and utterly happy.

Chapter Text

 

The strange place around him seemed surreal. Lion’s mane was something that would go beyond what the laws of physics would deem possible, but that whole situation was bizarre.

‘Why is there a whole new place inside Lion's mane? Why is there a tree? Is that a treasure chest? A shirt? A snowglobe? A pink sword? A Flag? And why in the world is everything so-’

Feeling ill for the lack of oxygen, the boy had to leave the mane for a moment before returning.

‘Ok, I can’t breathe at all while I’m here. What should I do?’

From the back of his mind, that dark corner he usually tried to avoid, the eerie voice made itself known.

‘Approach the tree. There's an old videotape for you.'

Steven quickly looked around and just by the tree side, there was an inconspicuous old VHS videotape.

‘What is the meaning of this?’

He walked fast towards the videotape and quickly picked it up.

‘Out of breath… Need air!’

Steven ran desperately towards the tall "grass" that encompassed that strange area, and just as immediately, he has transported away from that place, and back into his house.

As he took a deep and relieved breath, gasping for air, he turned his head back to look from where he had just come from.

“Lion… Why don’t you ever tell me that you can do those things? My head hurts just trying to think how many laws of physics you keep destroying with your weird stuff.” Steven sighed in frustration as Lion yawned. “And you don’t even care… As usual…”

Steven eyed the videotape warily. "Now… What-"

Then, his thoughts were bombarded by that eerie voice.

‘Go to the Big Donut. It has a VHS Player. Watch it.'

The teenager took a step back as if it could somehow increase the distance between the voice and himself, but he could never escape something that was coming from his own head.

“But… It’s locked… I can’t just break in… I can go tomorrow, I can ask Sadie and-”

‘It doesn't matter. You have to do it, it is far more important than the human concept of right and wrong. There are things on this tape that its only for your eyes and ears. If they heard, they wouldn't understand. You have to do it, for your own sake.'

Steven looked around himself, still feeling unsure. He stared at the videotape and knew that there was no way around it. He needed to see what was in that tape, no matter what.

If only to make the voice in his mind turn quiet.

---

 

It wasn't that difficult to break into the Big Donut. He expected to have a hard time getting inside, with the locked back door and all, but as strange as it was, he only had to push a little harder, and the doorknob broke like it was a twig.

‘Uh… Weird… Since when this knob was that fragile?’

Shaking those thoughts away from his mind, he nervously strode across the back room, tentatively touching the wall, looking for the light switch. When he finally managed to feel it beneath his sweaty hands, he immediately pushed it, turning the lights on and illuminating the room.

"Ok, Ninja-Steven… Time to use my hyper-sneaky skills to spot that VHS Player… Or should I say my detective ninja skills? Oh bother…" Steven trailed off as he saw the old Big Donut's VHS Player. He swallowed his increasing anxiety, trying to ease his mind. "O-Ok, now to watch the video…"

The teen picked the videotape from his Cheese Burger Backpack and inserted it into the VHS Player, then, he turned the device on and pressed play, feeling a mixture of excitement and fear over what he could possibly see… And hear. With a last sigh, he turned the TV on and waited.

After a few seconds with only static being transmitted to the room, an old recording appeared.

It was that weird place inside Lion’s mane. Rose Quartz was holding the Camera, giving it a strange unreadable glare. It was as if she was pondering her words, and seemed uncomfortable to do so.

Then suddenly, she spoke, her voice unexpectedly raspy. “Hello, Steven. If you are seeing this, it seems like Lion finally decided that you could hear what I have to say to you…”

“Mother...” Steven trailed off, feeling a strange feeling of dread.

Rose looked away for a moment before she gave him a crooked smile. "As you are aware, I had to die for you to live. We cannot coexist since we share the same Gem, but honestly, I don't know if you will be able to feel my own thoughts or feelings over anything or if you will be entirely your own person. That fills me with a fear that I cannot bear and excitement for the things to come."

The teenager recoiled into himself, feeling his own body turn increasingly cold with each word that Rose uttered.

“But this isn’t really what I have to say. It goes far beyond that. Anyone else, like Greg, Amethyst or Garnet could’ve said this to you in my place.” Rose gave an eerie laugh and it was like Steven’s blood had turned to acid, corroding his veins, his skin, and everything in its path. His mother, however, continued to speak. "You see, Steven, I have done terrible things… I made a huge mistake that I cannot ever make it right. I simply can't. It took me such an awfully long time to even process what exactly I've had done wrong, and even now, I'm still unsure over a lot of things, but I can safely say that I understand some of them."

Rose’s eyes started to leak a torrent of tears. “It can’t be easy for you to hear me say this, and certainly won’t ever be something that the remaining Crystal Gems will ever admit, but I cannot keep faking innocence over everything. It's time for me to take responsibility for what I have done… And what kind of being I have become. I tried to record this video many times, but now I think I know what I should say to you.”

Rose sniffled and tried to clean her eyes with the back of her free hand.

“Steven… For a long time, I had my Pearl… I mean, Pearl, in an unhealthy abusive relationship. She had no agency over it… She was… Forced to serve. To do everything I wanted, to cater to my needs… To do… Things… To…”

She trailed off, and she choked on her own words, coughing and suddenly laughing maniacally…

…Like she was filled with madness.

“I RAPED HER, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? I can’t pretend that what I was doing wasn’t really it! It was something against her will, she was forced to love me, forced to do everything for me, she could not defy my orders or she would lay broken… They had seen it to that… The unbreakable orders… She would… She would…” Rose covered her face with her trembling hands. “She… Heheheheh… She…”

Steven screamed, backing away from the sobbing, maniacally woman showcased on the old video as if she had violently punched him.

How could any child react seeing their absent parent that they only imagined or even heard amazing things about could be… Such a monster? 

And the video didn’t stop. It didn’t wait for him to recover from the shock. “Even if her love was fake, was something they forced into her, I didn’t care for how she was feeling! As long as I, the mighty Rose Quartz was ok with it, whatever she was going through turned to be just as irrelevant as her pain. So, I cheated on her with everyone, and she could never be free from it!”

Rose laughed harder and harder. Steven cowered against the wall, feeling his knees get weak but as much as he tried, he could not look away, or block those words.

“Which reminds me, Steven, do you know why our symbol, the Crystal Gem’s symbol, is a star?” Rose grabbed a fist full of her hair, with her eyes big as saucers, a maniacal glint in them. “Because humans are like stars, you see… So full of light, so shiny! I was always fascinated with it, and it always enchanted me… Hehehehehe…”

Then, she started to wail again, and her screams kept increasing and increasing.

It was making him feel as much insane as the woman in the video.

“But it wasn’t real! IT WASN’T REAL, STEVEN! The star! The light of the humans… I was mistaken, I learned this after Pearl left me! After she broke free from me… From them!” And Rose accidentally dropped the camera, and it rolled for a short moment before it was grabbed by her hands again. Her expression still carried the same crazed look. "After she left, after she did what no other Pearl had managed to do, and abandoned me to be with that Lapis Lazuli, I was so lost. I didn't understand, you see. I had to understand how she managed to get free, to understand what she meant, to see what I had done wrong and why I couldn't just let go just like before! So, I explored as I could and I managed to frequently go into human parties and I stayed with as many humans as I could, despite Greg's pain."

Steven felt like he was going to throw up, so he covered his mouth with his hands, shaking in fear, feeling the sour taste of bile filling his mouth, nausea almost overcoming his fragile senses.

"And then, after a long time, I realized a terrible truth! The truth about humans and the stars and their light that once fascinated me but no longer I could reach it!" She closed her eyes, and as she opened them again, her pupils, her ocular irises had changed to a lozenge-shaped pattern appeared. "Like the stars that fade out in their shimmering light, humans… Adult humans are nothing but dead stars. They lose their light as they age and there's nothing that they can do to recover it. When they are young and hopeful, their lights shine bright like a star, but as they age, they become weak, dead, brittle… Like a rotting human corpse full of maggots."

Rose giggled. "I made war, and a symbol to showcase my love for Earth, for the humanity as a whole, and they were dead all along! When I realize that I had made myself a fool during all this time, I could finally see a little of what Pearl had gone through, you know…"

She sniffled and covered her eyes with the palm of her hand.

“Pearl was right about me… Lapis was right about me… I thought I was in love with her all along, and in the end, I was only treating her as I did with my beloved Pink Pearl, my lost love. I wanted her to take her place, and yet I didn’t even understand or respect her feelings… I never had… And to make matter worse, the only adult human that had light in their own self after that realization was Greg, and I simply could not stand to be around him and hurt that innocent man more than I had done…” As Rose removed the hand from her eyes, Steven noticed that her pupils had changed back to the usual round shape. “So, I had an idea, one that would spare me the pain, the trouble, and everything else without making the situation worse: I decided to have a child, and that child would have the opportunity to fix everything and to be the light that I desperately sook in this universe. You would have the opportunity to truly make everything right, and I no longer would hurt anyone and they would never ever know the shameful truth about everything!”

Steven shook his head. That could not be happening.

“Steven, swear to me to never tell the secret that you know of the true Rose's hell. Or you might find yourself here, with me, repeating the same mistakes that I did, and hurting innocent people who don’t deserve to be abused by none of us.” Then, Rose raised from beyond the view a simple snow globe and shook it, making the artificial snowfall inside of it. "I will become part of you in a few days, Steven, I just know about it. Every time you love being yourself and you truly love others… Not what they can do for you but what they really are, it will be me loving being you, loving finally being able to really understand the love for what it is… And not for what they made me believe. Because you're going to be something, someone extraordinary! You're going to be a human being… A star filled with light…"

Rose’s eyes glazed, and she almost seemed like a doll, giving a small smile. “Take care of them, Steven… I lost the chance… Now you can do what I never could… Goodbye, my son.”

With that, the video stopped, and it turned into static.

For a long time, he kept staring straight ahead of him, hearing the disturbing sound of static echoing across the room. It didn’t matter to him.

Nothing did.

In his mind, his thoughts were getting increasingly disconnected.

‘Mother was a monster! She… She became insane! A-And she wants me, expect me to simply undo every bad thing that she ever did? She… She only had me so I could fix her mistakes? All this time and she only was… Was…'

And then, the eerie voice from his mind spoke in its soothing, scary voice. ‘Using you. Just like she used Pearl. Just like she used Greg. Just like she used and hurt everybody around her. It is in her nature, and she could not escape nor deny it any longer. No matter what the delusions that the Crystal Gems might have created to appease their own faith in their deceased leader.’

Grabbing his own head, trying to quench the ever-increasing pain bursting from it, Steven screamed again.

And then, as his voice became weak, he felt his body move toward the tv, where he mechanically turned it off, took the videotape from the VHS Player and turned the device off.

He felt his feet walking away, not bothering to turn off the lights or pick his fallen Cheese Burger Backpack, just leaving through the back door almost like he was a zombie.

Perhaps he was. What would even be the difference?

As he walked back to his house, he could not stop a particularly worrisome and sickening thought from crossing his mind.

‘If Rose was a horrible person, does that mean that I will become one as well?’

And he wondered if he was going to become a dead star just like his mother.

Just like a bunch of humans did, according to her.

And… If his thoughts were even of his own, now that he could think about it.

‘She talked about a Pink Pearl… Who is this person? Is she Rose’s girlfriend… Ex-girlfriend? Lover? Slave? Does it even matter at this point?’

He never felt so much anger in his life.

‘Of course, it doesn't matter! She… She was just used by her like Rose Quartz used everyone around her! That disgusting… Disgusting…!"

Without noticing, he was standing in front of his home’s door.

He opened it and walked into the room, immediately turning the lights on.

Closing his eyes and feeling that eerie voice again, he listened. ‘Now, Now, Starlight… You still need to learn. Right now, you must understand that Rose Quartz was no different from a mad dog that had to be put down or it would contaminate others. You have the opportunity to change, to become better… Better than her, but not for her sake. Do it just for… You.’

Steven agreed with the voice. It was soothing and always knew what to say. He felt like he could and should trust it, so he did.

He closed his eyes, for a moment. Then, he turned towards Rose's Quartz painting just over the front door.

He growled at it, absolutely hating her sad, empty eyes and everything she represented. “Your selfish monstrous creep!”

With that, he felt the weight of his summoned shield on the palm of his hands and threw it against the painting, tearing it in half and making it fall to the ground.

In a frenzy born of pure anger, Steven kept attacking the painting over and over again, screaming nonstop. “I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I WON’T EVER BE LIKE YOU!”

When there wasn't a single piece of it salvageable on the floor, he felt himself calm down.

The voice in the back of his mind cooed in a sing-song voice. ‘Well done. Now, go to sleep, you will start to see the changes in you when you wake up.’

He nodded and wordlessly walked towards his bed, going over the staircase automatically. Absentmindedly, he placed the Videotape back inside Lion's mane, who was too busy sleeping on the floor. As Steven relaxed his body over the soft mattress and got under the comfy bedsheets, he let himself think a lonely thought. ‘I’m better than you. I won’t ever become you! I despise everything that you are! I will change everything about myself if I have to!’

Steven closed his eyes and felt himself fall into a deep slumber.

The wind from the opened window caressed the room like a lover, making the remains of Rose's painting gather in the corner of the house.

Steven’s body glowed and started to change, following his deepest wishes. Unconsciously, he smiled in his own slumber.

Smiling at the edge of despair.

Chapter Text

 

He looked at himself at the mirror. The changes were far too much to be ignored.

Briefly, he wondered what will Garnet and Amethyst say. Far more pressing were the thoughts whether Lapis and especially Pearl would think anything bad regarding his present actions.

‘Although, there’s also Connie and dad… So, I can’t really avoid this…’

He sighed, combing his black hair back with his comb, seeing how the hair gel kept it slick and perfectly in place, just like that night with Connie’s parents. He carefully eyed his new outfit.

‘It was quite difficult to find any clothes that could comfortably fit me since my growth spurt from last night, thankfully, dad always kept some of his things around the house, not to mention, not all clothes are useless right now…’

Black boots, tight-fitting dark purple pants, a dark red long-sleeved sweater, and a ripped black jeans jacket…

He looked like he had come straight out from a 90ths gothic band. It really didn't matter all that much, even if this particular music style wasn't really what he was used playing or listen. However, since yesterday, he still thought that it would be appropriate to listen to some songs from those bands, just to fit better with his souring mood.

‘It's not like I need to care for whatever anyone will think. As the voice had said, they don’t really matter in the end. I’m feeling like this should be me for now, so they don’t get to have a saying over how I’ll dress up or how I should look. I’m tired of living in that woman’s shadow. It’s time for me to become more assertive, and to rebel against her lies… Just like Pearl and Lapis did.’ 

And if he had to face a discussion with Garnet or Amethyst… Then so be it.

He nodded towards his own reflex displayed on the mirror, opened the bathroom’s door and walked away from the house. The beginning of the dawn could be seen in the clear sky.

Without further thoughts, he walked straight to the Big Donuts.

There were some loose ends to deal with.

 

---

 

The Big Donut was, thankfully, empty. He strolled inside the building and observed the room he had seen that fated video. He felt somewhat disappointed that he hadn’t wrecked the room as he thought he had. Aside from the forgotten Cheese Burger Backpack, broken door handle and a few scattered objects, the room kept its relatively lively self.

‘Oh well. It's not like it even matters all that much. I should go back to the Crystal Temple and face Garnet and Amethyst, but I think I should also leave a note to Sadie and Lars about the break-in and apologize for the broken doorknob. I just hope it isn’t that expensive…’

The eerie and now comfortable voice from the back of his mind made herself known.

‘Steven, do not forget to talk to your father and Connie about your new changes. They will be supportive of you. Also, it will be in your benefit to contact Pearl and Lapis as soon as you can, if only to relay the news.'

The teenager nodded. As always, the voice seemed the exact words that he needed to hear.

“Do you… Have a name? I feel a little weird just calling you… Uh… Voice…” He trailed off.

In his mind, he could hear the very feminine, girlish giggle. ‘Oh, Starlight, don’t you worry about such tiny details. I do understand your curiosity, and if it will make you feel more at ease… You can call me …Vox.’

"Vox…" He muttered the name, feeling it slide comfortably away from his mouth, smiling to himself. "I like it. Well, talk to you later, inner buddy."

‘Of course, Starlight. I will be here when you need me.’ Vox spoke in her ever sing-song tone, making the teen smile even further.

Feeling better, he wrote the note down to Sadie and Lars, leaving it on the table. After he was done, he picked the Cheese Burger Backpack from the floor and returned to the Crystal Temple.

He already knew that Amethyst and Garnet would not like his new look… And all the sudden changes related to it.

‘Then again, I can’t be responsible for how they react, I can just be responsible for me… I just hope they can understand what I’m going through… Eventually.’

 

---

 

Amethyst had a weird night.

Sure, she did eat a box filled with rotten burritos leftovers from that dead-beat Mexican restaurant, - that still was laying there unattended in her room for some reason. – when she had the feeling that something bad was going to happen.

And it did.

Lo and behold, she had puked all over the place, and for once, she would agree with Pearl that it was a little too much.

‘Heh… Pearl. Homegirl probably would freak out if she saw how the room looked and smelled by now. Damn, I miss her and that annoying stuck up attitude.'

Not that the purple Gem would ever admit that to her friend's face, especially after Pearl had grown quite the backbone and mean stick since she abandoned the Crystal Gems for the insufferable company of Lapis, so it was fairly possible that her former companion wouldn't hesitate to shove the proverbial stick and bone far up her purple laughing ass.

‘But then again, with all things considered, that would not be too bad.’

That is if only Lapis wasn't her ever barking bitching self towards anyone who approached said hot girl. Amethyst really didn't want to get into an actual fight with the brooding Gem over Pearl, as much as pained her to admit to herself. Not that Lapis would ever get to hear her say this out loud.

‘That emo is so into Pearl that they managed to go both over the line of creepy as well as sugary cute. It’s a wonder how they can even stand it.’

She honestly didn’t understand how both of the Shatter Stars weren’t jumping each other bones all the time, with how much they kept being gay together, but then again, Pearl always was too much of a shy nerd to be able to do anything regarding romance, and Lapis, for all her bravado and bitching attitude, seemed as much useless in this department as Pearl.

Amethyst thought about it for a moment. It wouldn’t be hard for her to show up and just tell them exactly what they need to do to be able to admit and “consummate” their obvious attraction toward each other, hell, she was pretty sure both of them were gayer than Garnet herself, and let’s face it, the fusion had thousands of years for that.

It would be so easy… And the purple Gem smirked.

‘Nah. It's just too much fun watching them being stupidly awkward and cute around each other. Just like a private soap opera. Not to mention, I can keep annoying Lapis, like, forever before I finally get bored with it.’

Shaking her head, and still reeling from the effects of the spoiled food, she decided that it was time to see how Steven was doing.

‘All of that talk about not being hungry, tired and what not really is starting to annoy me. Dude is half human, and he needs to eat up his share, not just nibble and get that mushy healthy stuff in his stomach! Who else is going to share the tasty delicatessen that is junk food with me?’

She briefly thought about Greg and scowled.

‘Yeah, like he would go for it after the guy decided to start that strict diet of his. Man, that is no fun at all.’

Amethyst had just finished that line of thought when she entered the house through the Temple’s metaphysical door. She was about to shout a greeting to her favorite friend ever when her voice died in her throat.

“What the fuck…?”

Rose's painting, or what seemed to be the remains of it, has been destroyed. A deep puncture, looking strangely familiar could be noticed on the wall where it once hung.

“What the hell happened?” Suddenly, she turned around and tried to look for Steven, feeling somewhat afraid that something had happened to him. “Steven! Where are you?!”

She looked around the entire house, even going through the temple’s rooms, but had no success. Before she could properly enter in a state of panic while she sat on the living room’s couch, the purple Gem heard the front door opening.

She raised her head, expecting to see the young boy.

Instead, there was an unknown, albeit being a strangely familiar male teenager, dressed up as if he was trying to become a member of the Adam's Family… Or simply a Lapis Lazuli fanboy.

The thought resonated in her mind and Amethyst tried to really observe the stranger, internally hoping that her hypothesis wasn’t correct.

However, as much as she tried to deny it… It was.

“S-Steven?” She stood up from the couch and took a careful step towards the now tall teenager. “How… Why are you… What happened to you?”

Steven gave her a small, apologetic smile. “I grew up.”

That explanation only baffled the purple Gem. “What do you mean by ‘I grew up’? Dude, you’re like, five seven tall and looking as emo as the smurf Lazuli herself! There’s no way that anyone would change like that out of nowhere!”

At that, the teenager frowned and sneered, bitterly. “Maybe that doesn’t apply to normal humans, but you know that I’m not like them.”

“Still! That is-”

"Amethyst. Have you considered the possibility that maybe I just needed a change of perspective?" Steven looked away. "I… I know I haven't changed much in the past few years. I looked the same, acted the same, was the same. It was as if I was stuck in a loop, and I couldn't grow up, as I was supposed to."

The purple Gem could not properly form words. That’s how unexpected all of this was to her.

“And yesterday… I had to come to terms with some difficult things… And made me realize a couple of other things that I’m not comfortable sharing with anyone. Not yet anyway.” Then the teenager turned back to his sister-like figure, smiling in that characteristic way that he always did since he was just a baby, that way that showed that everything would be ok. “I woke up like that, and I picked some clothes that could fit me. Some of this stuff is from my dad’s wardrobe, and others are a few pieces that just happened to stretch enough to fit me. I just need to get new outfits, that’s all.”

Nodding in assessment, Amethyst had to admit that his argument was sound and made a lot of sense. Garnet always had theorized that Steven’s form was relative to his mind and heart, and if that birthday fiasco actually worked for something, it was to show them that this theory was definitely correct.

“…What about Rose’s painting, Steven?” The purple Gem suddenly asked. “Do you know what happened to it?”

Steven's left eye twitched and Amethyst could sense that question had an effect on his mood. The teenager, however, merely shrugged his shoulders in a nonchalant manner. "I destroyed it. I always hated that painting anyways and I never really considered that thing my mother, so nothing is lost by getting rid of it."

Amethyst’s jaw slacked in shock. “Why in the world would you do that, dude? Rose was your mother! The leader of the Crystal Gems! A true hero!”

“She was anything but that!” Steven’s voice was filled with anger and sounded much akin to a snarl than anything else. Instinctively, the purple Gem took a step back. “I don’t expect you or Garnet to be able to understand how I feel right now, but I won’t stand here worshiping a mentally unstable Gem like Rose Quartz out of some misguided sense of loyalty that I never had for her.”

He shook his head, and Amethyst could see tears in his eyes. “She was a monster. My real mother is Pearl, and it always will be, even if we aren’t related.”

“Wait! Did Pearl had anything to do with this?” Amethyst could not help but growl at the thought. After the way things ended between Rose and her former knight, it wasn’t that hard to assume that the pale Gem was responsible by this behavior. It would explain a lot. “Answer me honestly!”

“Pearl was nothing but sincere with me since the moment we first talk to each other. She didn’t hide her distaste for Rose Quartz, but she also didn’t try to influence me to think like her.” He crossed his arms. “Do you really think that for anyone to hate Rose Quartz they actually needed to be convinced by the Shatter Stars? This is all Rose’s doing, nobody could do that in her place. If you want to blame anyone for my hate for her, you could just remember her face… Since, you know, I destroyed her paint and all.”

Amethyst babbled, however, she was aware her words made no sense, even to her own ears.

She really wasn’t qualified to deal with all that shit.

“Garnet will be so pissed when she arrives…” She finally muttered.

The teenager sighed. “I know… We should all talk about it, but please, stop treating me as an unreliable kid, for once. I can make my own decisions and I can talk to you both without having anyone to babysit me.”

They both stared at each other. In that teenager's eyes, Amethyst could see the gentle boy, with the kindest heart and warmest smile, that wonderful human being that was her favorite person and could see that he was sincere.

Even if she didn’t understand or agree with all of those changes, especially those concerning Rose, she would try to respect it. That is what friends do.

They sat on the couch, and Steven cracked some jokes. Everything felt normal, and after a while, she felt comfortable in that new dynamic.

Until Garnet arrived.

Angry didn’t even define what the fusion seemed to be feeling, at least in Amethyst humble opinion.

As the purple Gem had done previously, Garnet questioned, argued, pleaded and finally had to accept that Steven’s new views weren’t up for negotiation.

Still, if the purple Gem could theorize anything (if she got the word right), she would think that Garnet had already predicted some bits of this whole awkward conversation, but still got totally floored by Steven’s arguments and insistence.

When they both were in Amethyst’s room at the temple, after the three of them exhausted their will to argue with each other, the Purple Gem jokingly exclaimed. “I guess Steven entered his rebellious phase, am I right, big G?”

Garnet turned her unreadable gaze to the shorter Gem, immune to the attempt to break the obvious heavy atmosphere. “There’s more to it than has been shown.”

“What do you mean, Garnet?”

"I believe that Steven is being sincere and that his changes all came from his own choice, however..." The fusion trailed off and bit her lower lip. "I can't really see anything related to this in the future! That never happened before, and this could not be a good sign."

The purple Gem felt a strong sense of dread hovering over her. “Then, what we will do?”

“That I don’t know… Yet.” Garnet took away her visor and stared at her companion. “But I have a feeling that we will find out soon. We just need to connect to pieces… And we probably need the Shatter Stars’ help.”

“You don’t think they have anything to do with how Steven is behaving?”

Garnet shook her head negatively. “No. For all their hate towards Rose, they certainly weren’t hostile, cautious, suspicious and resentful, sure… But not hateful, and Steven wasn’t acting like that before. He was completely ‘ok’ when Lapis and Pearl were here for that dinner with Connie’s parents.”

“Dude, that’s so fucked up…” Amethyst groaned. “I bet this will be annoying to solve. I just know it.”

Garnet nodded and walked away, her voice echoing in the room. “You are probably correct, Amethyst…”

‘Well… Maybe the spoiled box of burritos wasn’t what was really rotten… Maybe something truly bad is going to happen.’

Without knowing, the purple Gem turned out to be right.

Chapter Text

 

"I'm telling you, Little Lappy! Your last design is amazing!" Pearl said as she touched the soft fabric of the clothes. "This thin as a veil mesh shirt, this ripped vest, leather pants, and boots are such a wonderful look!"

“Yeah… But I have no ‘dude’ to try it on.” The Blue Gem sulked. “I mean, what is the point of making such complex design and grunge look if I don’t have a walking meat bag to use it?”

Both Gems glance at each other and laughed out loud. “Now that’s new. Since when you feel the need to have any human trying your works? You always were pretty satisfied with just our mannequins. Why the sudden interest?”

“I’m just trying to make an effort to reach out to them…” Lapis shrugged and lowered her gaze. “If you can stand their presence… They must not be so bad… Right?”

“Sweet cheeks, please tell me you aren’t feeling guilty for that dinner incident?” Seeing that the Blue Gem didn’t answer her, Pearl gently hugged her, nuzzling her neck. “Please don’t worry. I adore you as you are, and you don't have to force yourself to do something like that. I mean, I still think humans are inferior and disgusting, but a few of them can be good friends, as weird as that can be.”

Lapis took a deep breath and whispered. “Like Greg?”

At that, the pink-haired Gem slowly released her friend and took Lapis cheeks on her hands, gently caressing her. "I'm not into humans, especially the male ones."

She could feel Lapis cheeks get warmer, and her cute dark blue blush covering her face.

“…Then, what kind of beings are you attracted to?” Lapis covered the hands on her cheeks with her own, staring at Pearl’s light blue eyes. “Can you tell me? Please?”

Pearl tilted her head slightly, raising an elegant eyebrow. "Hm. That's quite the unexpected question, especially from you. I didn't know you were interested in this particular subject. Care to tell me why?"

The Blue Gem flinched slightly at her words, but her eyes didn't waver and seemed more determined. "I will tell you if you answer me."

They both let their deep stares fill the silence that suddenly was present between them.

It wasn’t uncomfortable.

It wasn’t truly unexpected.

It wasn’t annoying and certainly wasn’t something undesirable.

Pearl opened her mouth to answer her friend. “Lapis, I-”

…Only to be interrupted by the sound of the Crystal Gem communicator springing to life.

Backing away awkwardly from her friend, the pink-haired Gem muttered a small ‘sorry’, before turning her attention to the device.

If the Shatter Stars were to be sincere, neither of them seemed that interested in taking the call, but they also weren’t too sure that they could talk about whatever they were trying to without saying something that would change their dynamic.

But those questions, those mysterious, emotional inducing questions were asked and no matter how much they tried to stall their answers, those words would linger in their minds… Until those answers were finally granted.

Shaking her head in an attempt to quench her thoughts, Pearl activated the device. “Greetings, Crystal Gems. What can I help you with?”

On the screen, she saw Garnet and Amethyst. Their expressions showing distress.

“To hell with those pleasantries! We need your help as soon as fucking possible!” Amethyst suddenly blurted.

“Amethyst, language.” Garnet chided. “Remember, we can’t get used to-”

“It doesn’t matter if Steven is all weird, Garnet!” The purple Gem exclaimed, immediately catching both of the Shatter Stars attention. “You both gotta help us!”

Pearl frowned. “Slow down. Explain to us what happened.”

 

---

 

Meanwhile, Steven was being hugged by his father, who seemed both happy and sad at his physical and behavioral changes. ‘When you get older, things change around you’, he said.

‘There’s nothing wrong with changing your looks, Schtu-ball! I was so different before I got my rocker outlook! Besides, growing up is a normal part of life'… That is what he said.

Steven felt relieved. Vox was right about her father.

She always seemed right.

‘Now I only need to tell Connie… Well, there’s everyone else in Beach City, but she is my priority.’ He thought as his father released him. ‘I wonder what she will think of me?’

A strange line of thought crossed his mind, and as much as he tried, it made some sense.

‘Am I too different to be able to hang out with her? Would she still like me?'

Vox said that Connie would, and until now, Vox never was wrong about anything. So, he silently prayed that she would be right this time.

With that in mind, he excused himself from his father’s company and walked away, already picking his cellphone.

Two lost calls. Both from Connie.

‘Oh geez… I shouldn’t have left it in silent mode. I hope I can make up to her.’

He tapped Connie’s number on the screen, a number he already knew by heart, and put the cellphone against his ear.

Part of him was excited, another was afraid.

After a few moments, Connie picked the call. “Steven! Oh, how I missed you!”

He took a deep breath.

‘I can do this…’

"Hi, Connie! Sorry for making you wait!" Steven answered his friend. Hearing nothing but silence, he nervously asked. "A-Are you still there?"

After a few almost torturous seconds, Connie's timid voice could be heard. "S-Steven? Is that you? Your voice is so… Different."

He nervously gulped. “Is that bad?”

“No! It’s just…” Connie awkwardly said, and Steven could picture her pacing around her room. “I like it. You sound older and a little more... Uh…”

Steven rose one eyebrow. “More what?”

“Uh! Never mind!” His friend suddenly exclaimed. “I had called before to know if I can visit you today?”

Steven smiled. “Of course, you can, Connie! You’re always welcome, besides, I missed you a lot since, you know, that dinner thing and all!”

“Yeah, that could have gone better, but at least my parents are ok with your family and all.” His friend’s voice was like music to his ears. “Besides, we got to see the first episode of the next season for the ‘Under the Knife’!”

“Yeah!” He fist-pumped the air, feeling already happy with the prospect of seeing her again. “So, I’ll be waiting for you by the house. Just come in and we can start!”

With that, they both hung up.

From the back of his mind, Vox calming voice echoed. ‘See, Starlight? I told you that she wouldn’t feel anything bad towards your new changes.’

“I know… But I’m still a little scared. Is that stupid of me?” Steven whispered as he walked back to his home. “I really want her to like me, you know…”

Vox chuckled. ‘You worry about the silliest things, Steven, but then again, I’m here to help you. Don’t you worry, Connie will love you, especially when she ages, but for now, let’s keep things more… Ideal.’

Even though he didn't understand what Vox meant, he shrugged. Vox was helpful and really friendly. She always knew how to deal with anything, so if she said that Connie would love him, even more, when she also aged up, then there's nothing for him to worry about.

‘I wonder how she would look with my age?’

With those musings, the human returned home.

 

---

 

"Are you sure this will be wise, Pearl?" Lapis asked as she opened the huge suitcase, eyeing what they brought from their moon base. "I mean, I never gave him anything and out of nowhere, I'm just handing him stuff? Won't that be too suspicious?"

Pearl turned her attention towards her friend and assured the Blue Gem with a smile, which prompted a snort from Amethyst. “I understand your concerns, sweet cheeks, but Steven has a huge heart and I’m sure he won’t mind a few gifts, after all, he cares for us deeply.”

Amethyst bellowed out at them. “Get a room, you two!”

Both Shatter Stars gasped and furiously blushed from head to toes. They awkwardly looked away from each other.

Thankfully for their now embarrassed and frail nerves, the front door opened and they had an excuse to turn their attention to the newcomer.

“Steven, I’m glad you’re here.” Garnet said as she hugged him. “Pearl and Lapis have something for you.”

“Really?!” Immediately, Steven gently pushed Garnet away from him and ran with open arms towards Pearl. “Mom! I really missed you!”

The pink-haired Gem barely had time to brace herself before Steven’s taller form crashed against her, giving her slender frame a powerful hug.

Peal clearly was taken aback. It was one thing to hear about those abrupt changes from Garnet and Amethyst, another to witness how different he was.

From a small boy to a tall teenager, now Steven definitively seemed his age. He has a beautiful face, with feminine traces, making him sport a slightly androgynous look. She wasn't an expert on humans, but she could say without a doubt that a huge number of them, both male and female would find him attractive. This raised a small concern in the back of her mind. After all, she needed to be sure no one would attempt to hurt her son's feelings, he had a kind heart and some people might try to take advantage of that.

‘Should I have a talk with that friend of his? No, she is too young for that. Maybe when she gets older that will be necessary, but for now, I just have to make sure he is safe.’

Hugging the boy back and pushing him gently away from her so they could look at each other, Pearl smiled affectionately. “I missed you too, Steven.”

She patted his head, just like she used to, and the teenager seemed so pleased with it. Adorable.

“Steven, the Crystal Gems have told us that you had a growth spurt. So, Lapis and I brought you something to help you settle in your new form.” The pink-haired Gem motioned towards Lapis and carefully pushed her adoptive son in her best friend’s direction. “She made them herself, just for you. I hope you like it.”

With his eyes shining like a pair of stars, Steven eyed his would-be ‘aunt'. "Really? You brought me a gift?"

Being put on the spot, the Blue Gem blushed in embarrassment, but she took a deep breath and smiled at the teenager. “Yeah, I did. I can’t let you walk around looking somewhat unfashionable, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I kind of dig your style, but it’s a bit old school for me, and you would get so much better in what I made for you than what you are currently wearing, and-”

Seeing that she was rambling, Lapis coughed up and awkwardly raised the huge suitcase in her hands. “Huh, just take this from my hands before I yank your ears for the rest of the day.”

With a bewildered and curious look not much different from what he normally showed when he was a simple child, Steven took the suitcase from Lapis trembling hands. He placed the suitcase on the floor and opened it, gasping as soon as he saw what it was filled with.

“Oh geez…” He muttered in astonishment, as he took the first thing from the suitcase, smiling brightly. “It’s filled with clothes! Awesome clothes! Thank you so much Lapis!”

The Blue Gem could not even reply since she was tackled by Steven's excited form, so happy and joyful at the gifts he just received that he didn't think about how the recluse, antisocial Gem might perceive his current actions.

However, to everyone surprise, Lapis took a deep breath and hugged the boy back, albeit in a very awkward manner. “Yeah… I’m a saint… Now, could you please let me go? No offense, but I’m kind of weirded out…”

Steven quickly backed off from Lapis as fast as he could, standing up and shyly offering his hand to the Blue Gem, so his beloved ‘aunt’ could also raise from the floor. “Oh, my bad, I got a little carried away…”

“A little? Hah!” Lapis snickered, winking at the teenager as she got back on her feet. “But I’m flattered that you liked my work, since, you know, I made each one of them just for you.”

“Really?” Steven eyed the suitcase as if it was the most precious thing in the whole universe. “I swear, I will cherish those clothes for the rest of my life! I will get dressed immediately!”

And as sudden as he arrived at the house, Steven ran towards the bathroom, carrying the suitcase in his eager arms, giggling all the way.

As soon as he closed the bathroom’s door and began to change, Lapis sighed in relief. “Now that was a strange, but pleasant experience. I like that kid.”

“See? I told you so.” Pearl said as she gave Lapis a quick hug. “And I’m so proud of you. Thanks for doing this for him.”

The Blue Gem blushed. “Don’t worry about that. As I said, he is nice.”

Turning her attention to other matters, otherwise, they would end up in another awkward situation, the pink-haired Gem stared at the now vacant spot above the house's entrance. "It's marvelous to see this house finally cleansed from her prying eyes."

This, however, prompted a barely restrained angry reaction from the Crystal Gems, who practically growled at the Shatter Stars direction.

"Wow there! We aren't looking for a fight, so no need to get all worked up, you two." Lapis said as she carefully put herself in front of Pearl as if she was trying to protect her from an eventual attack. "Both of our groups have made a treaty, so let's not wreck it for the sake of someone who isn't even alive."

"Rose isn't alive, but that doesn't mean you two can just go around insulting her memory right in front of us." Garnet said between clenched teethes. "So, don't try our patience by making such remarks."

"Especially since Steven was the one who wrecked her painting and all as if this wasn't already irritating enough." Amethyst bitterly said, earning an annoyed look from Garnet and a shocked one from the Shatter Stars. "What? Have I said something wrong?"

“Steven did that?” Pearl whispered to Lapis.

Her fellow Shatter Star merely smiled and whispered back. “Awesome.”

Shaking her head, Pearl turned her attention to her ex-companions and offered them a polite smile. “Thank you for telling us this. I will consider this a favor, therefore, you both can ask us for something.”

Garnet always was difficult to read, even without her ever-present visor obscuring her eyes, but as someone who had five thousand years as experience at her side, Pearl could see that she was both relieved as she seemly was trying to keep her composure while in the Shatter Stars presence. "Really? There is something that you both might help us with."

 The fusion directs both groups to the couch so they could take a seat. "We would like to ask you to help Steven with his fusion attempts."

“What!” Immediately, Pearl rose from the seat, startled at the sudden question, and its implications. “Why do you need us to do that when you are already a walking, living expert on that matter, Garnet?”

"Apparently I'm not since neither I nor Amethyst managed to help Steven in this particular issue." The fusion calmly answered the ex-companion, even if the pink-haired Gem before her was glaring at her with barely restrained contempt. "We just thought that you both could try a different approach from us since the two of you clearly have a bond and-"

The pink-haired Gem quickly grabbed the front of Garnet’s suit piece, interrupting her tirade. “I’m never going to fuse with anyone ever again. No matter the reason or the circumstances, this won’t ever happen, so keep your filthy expectations away from us and never ask this again.”

Pearl released Garnet and angrily stormed away from the house.

There was an unnerving silence for a few seconds before Amethyst muttered. “Yikes. What’s bugging her so much that she would react like that? Do you know something, Lazuli?”

“Nothing that I would care to share with you both, no offense.” Lapis flatly said as she walked towards the door. “Look, I can talk to Steven about it, but don’t ask Pearl to do this. Seriously.”

With that, Lapis ran off to catch up with her companion.

 

---

 

“Pearl! Wait!” Lapis exclaimed as she summoned her water wings so she could fly towards her very angry friend. “Please don’t leave me alone with those losers.”

Pearl looked up, seeing her beloved best friend flying in her direction and she could not help but smile at her, with her anger subsiding just by being in her presence. This only increased when said friend landed on the sand before her and hugged her body affectionately.

Adorable. So adorable.

"I'm… Sorry. I know I overreacted to their… Request." The pink-haired Gem said after a few precious seconds with her body deliciously pressed against her friend's, enjoying how perfectly they fit together. "But I think it's ridiculous how they expect us, - especially me, a Gem that they usually ridiculed whenever fusion was brought up, - to succeed in something they have failed."

"I get it, Hot Patootie. They are insensitive morons and all, but for once, I don't think they knew how this could have affected you." At this particular statement, Pearl raised an eyebrow, prompting Lapis to make a placating gesture. "Think about it, is there any reason to believe that they could possibly know how much this entire business of fusion has affected you since you broke free from that defective Diamond?"

The pink-haired Gem frowned and looked away, seemly lost in her thoughts. After a moment, she turned her attention back to her companion. “You have a point… Sigh, now I feel like I deserve to be called neurotic, as Amethyst used to say.”

“Stop that. You aren’t that Gem anymore, and frankly, Amethyst is a total hypocrite for calling you that when I’m sure that if she knew she was defective, she would turn psycho all over us.” Lapis sneered as she caressed Pearl’s face. “They don’t get what is to be used and abused again and again, to have no control over your choices, having thoughts, wishes and dreams all tainted by an owner’s commands and to finally break free from them. So, they don’t get to say anything over how you react to their insufferable requests, especially when its something that they could’ve done by themselves but failed over their own incompetence.”

The pink-haired Gem stared at Lapis in awe, her eyes shining beautifully in that morning. The Blue Gem felt her artificial breath being taken away by her visage, her cheeks blushing without even noticing. “Wow…”

“Lapis, thank you for being such a good friend. I adore you with all my heart.” Pearl said as she smiled and kissed Lapis cheek. “You are the sweetest Gem ever. I’m lucky that you are there for me.”

Even though the word ‘friend’ started to unexplainably bother her, Lapis felt happy that she managed to improve Pearl’s mood. “Don’t mention it. I just said what I thought.”

“And thanks the vast sky for that.” Pearl said as she watched the ocean waves crashing against the beach’s shore. “Hey… Lapis, do you mind dealing with this request from the Crystal Gems? I know you can’t really offer that much help since you never really fused and all, but at least we will conclude our part of the deal, therefore, everything will be done in no time… I just can’t stand this, I'm so sorry…”

“Don’t fret, my C.O.L.D. Captain! Your Supreme Leader is here to help you.” Lapis chuckled as she returned the kiss to her friend’s cheek. “Meanwhile, why don’t you take the day off? I don’t know, go see Greg, have a talk with him, take a stroll, just relax and forget about it? I will take care of Steven.”

The pink-haired Gem blushed and gave her companion another beautiful smile. "Thank you so much for doing this. I mean it, I owe you one."

“I accept payment in cuddles, kisses and ballet dances.” Lapis said in a singsong tone, making both Gems giggle. “Now seriously, go. I have to return to those Crystal Chumps so they don’t think we just declared war or something, you know how stupid they are.”

They exchange hugs and Lapis flew back to the Crystal Temple, already rolling her eyes.

 

---

 

“All right, I’m back Crystal Chumps.” Lapis loudly announced as she barged inside the house.

“Didn’t take you long for acting like a royal pain in the-” Amethyst interrupted her tirade when she eyed her fellow Crystal Gem and not wanting to be on the receiving end of Garnet’s wrath, she chose to not swear. “-Uh, pain in the butt!”

At that, Lapis only rolled her eyes. “Look, I will help Steven with whatever and you both get off our backs, understand?”

“We agree to your terms, Lapis Lazuli.” Garnet said in her ever-calm voice. “Perhaps you will succeed where we have failed.”

As soon as the fusion said those words, the bathroom door opened and Steven walked into the living room.

It certainly was quite a sight. Lapis had merely guessed his measurements based on the information that Garnet and Amethyst had provided, and she had assumed that something might have gone wrong, but to her surprise, the clothes had fit the teenager like a glove. The black long-sleeved mesh shirt fit remarkably well, giving him a gothic feel that she usually enjoyed in her projects. The ripped black jeans vest also enhanced the aforementioned mesh shirt marvelously. The dark blue jeans pants seemed a bit simple, but her focus was Steven's torso since it would cause the biggest impact on the onlooker, since, you know, people usually looked to chest and face first. To finish the look, just a pair of black pleather combat boots since she didn't want to offend Steven's sensibilities over the ‘poor Earth animals' or whatever the teenager meant by that nonsense.

With that in mind, it was obvious that Lapis would feel a boost on her ego, as her natural prideful nature just accomplished something that had the odds of not working as she intended, at least if you consider her previous interactions with Steven.

Nevertheless, the Blue Gem still was surprised when the teenager, with his eyes shining, gleefully hopped towards her, hugged her body and spun her around as happy as she ever saw him.

“THANK YOU SO MUCH AUNTIE LAPIS! I LOOK SO COOL! I LOVE ALL OF THOSE CLOTHES!” He exclaimed loudly. “YOU ARE THE BEST!”

“P-Put me down, kid!” Lapis managed to speak to the eager teenager as soon as she found the strength to talk. “I’m so dizzy…”

“Oh, sorry! My bad!” Steven carefully placed the Blue Gem back to the floor and awkwardly scratched his head. “I guess I’ve got carried away again… I’m just so happy, you have no idea how much this means to me.”

Even through the haze of the fading dizziness, Lapis tried to recompose herself and chuckled in amusement. "Don't fret. If you need me to make something else or just a batch of new clothes, just tell me and I will see what I can do."

Then, Lapis crackled her knuckles and gave the teenager a small smile. “Now, you would make my day if we could go for a walk, just you and I. What do you say about that, Steven?”

“O-Of course!” Steven seemed both surprised as he was excited, immediately going to the house’s front door. “It will be so cool to hang out with you.”

“Yeah, sure.” Lapis muttered as she walked towards the door, giving a serious glance to the Crystal Gems sitting on the couch.

 

---

 

They walked for a long time along the beach shore until Lapis motioned to the teenager to sit on the slight moist sand. He sat, although it was pretty obvious that he seemed a little bothered by it since his pants would be covered in it, but was trying to not let it show. He relaxed when she said that her works would not be damaged by a simple thing like sand and water.

When both of them sat on the sand, the Blue Gem decided to start what she had come to do in this place. “So, the Crystal Chumps-I mean, the Crystal Gems have told me that you want to know about fusion.”

“Oh… That’s the real reason that you want to hang out with me…” Steven seemed disappointed, staring at his hands. “Never mind. Garnet and Amethyst couldn’t help me at all. So, what can you do to help me? And where exactly is Pearl?”

“Pearl wanted to take a walk by herself, so the task of having this amazing but awkward conversation falls down to me. Yay, right?” Lapis snickered, but her laugh seemed more restrained and bitter than her usual. “Steven, I know we aren’t close or anything of the sort, but I want to change that. However, I can’t if you don’t collaborate with me. Will you give me a chance?”

The teenager was obviously taken aback by the Blue Gem's sarcasm as he was by her candidness. However, as her words sank on his mind, his eyes became slight humid and soon enough, tears were falling across his cheeks. He nodded and gave her a happy smile.

Taking that as confirmation to her question, Lapis decided that she should get this whole conversation over with.

"Fusion is far more than simple synchronized dance moves. It's more like… A relationship of sorts." She started as she let her eyes stare at the sea. "Don't misunderstand what I just said. I know humans like to jump into conclusions and all, but I don't mean solely romantic relationships, it goes way beyond that. You have a familiar relationship with your father, with Pearl, - and correct me if I am wrong, but also with Garnet and Amethyst."

Steven nodded and Lapis continued. “So, by all means, you have a bond with them.”

“But you also have friends, and some of them are so very close that you trust and believe them with your life, like your friend Connie, so that’s also a relationship, a real fraternal relationship.” The Blue Gem noticed how Steven blushed at her comment. She shrugged, it wasn’t that important anyway. “And, I’m not sure that you have an experience like that, but sometimes, we have colleagues who we have to work with, and there are some which we get along better than others. That’s also a relationship, albeit a professional one… And of course, there are those who fuse for love, and by that, I mean the romantic variation of it.”

Steven nodded again, looking thoughtful.

“With all that being said, you can understand that there are many different reasons that a Gem might want to fuse with another. Therefore, you have to keep this in mind whenever you attempt to fuse.” The Blue Gem crossed her arms and glared at the teen before her. “Are you following me or am I too fast for you?”

Shaking his head negatively, the teenager raised his palms in a placating gesture. Lapis nodded and lowered her gaze to the sand between them.

“Regardless of the reason, fusion is also deeply entwined with a Gem’s emotions. So, a fusion might also be triggered by the depth of it between the Gems involved… Or the lack of it.”

“Huh? What do you mean by that?” The teen raised an eyebrow, clearly surprised. “I thought you had said that you need to trust the Gem, so how come they can fuse for the opposite reasons?”

Lapis let her hand grab a little of the sand, staring at it as if she was pondering something when she suddenly threw the sand towards the ocean. It sank on its surface quietly.

"I only heard about it. I never saw a Gem fuse for disturbing reasons, so it's not like I am an expert on it or anything. I only thought that it was fair for you to know that Gems could be attached to each other for less than decent reasons than those that I already have mentioned." The Blue Gem returned her gaze to the teen. "But more importantly, the personality and the classification of the Gem might also affect the fusion. For example, you are a…Huh, Quartz, so it is expected that your fusions are related to a particular emotion that you usually have."

“Oh…” Steven frowned. “I understand… I usually was… Happy…”

“With that, we can assume that you need to feel really happy and in synch with another Gem for it to properly work.” Lapis nodded to herself, giving the teenager a friendly tap on his back. “Don’t worry too much about it, kid, you will get the hang of it pretty soon. You are smart enough for that.”

Lapis rose from the sand and willed the sand away from her entire form. “Let’s return to your house, rocker.”

“W-Wait a second!” Although Stevens seemed slight please with the sudden nickname, he also needed to know another thing or he would never be able to relax at all. “Have you and mom… Have you both ever fused with each other?”

Lapis stopped walking and side looked at him with sadness and resignation. "No, and this will never happen. Pearl hates fusion thanks to a long period of bad experiences, so that's no longer a possibility for her."

"Oh… I understand…" The teenager muttered, looking at his boots. "Thanks for the talk, Lapis. I… I think I need to be alone for a while if you don't mind, but don't worry, Connie will arrive soon, so it's not like I will be alone."

“Got it. Well, I will go to your place on my own then. Stay safe, kid.” Lapis summoned her water wings and flew back to the Crystal Temple.

‘Not so bad for someone who never fused in her entire existence.’ She thought as she soared the skies.

 

---

 

It didn’t take long for Connie to arrive.

She was wearing a beautiful lilac dress, with knee-length white socks and cute doll-like red shoes. Like those from the Wizard of Oz, the ones that Dorothy used to teleport.

“Wow! Steven! You look so…” Connie’s eyes were big as saucers, and she seemed very much in awe. “God… So handsome… I…”

Then, suddenly she blushed and looked away.

“And you look so very…” Steven gave his friend a smirk, already knowing what to say. “Tiny.”

However, instead of the expected playfully annoyed reaction, his friend frowned and crossed her arms, apparently slight offended. "Easy for you to say, I didn't get to stretch as you did, also, it's not cool to make fun of me like that."

"Oh, sorry Connie, I just thought-" He shook his head, feeling terrible. "I'm an idiot."

“Hey… I-I haven’t meant to make you feel bad, I just….” Connie hugged her now, taller friend and nuzzled affectionately against his chest,  making Steven relax. “You might think I am being silly, but I am a little jealous of you.”

Steven stared at his friend in pure shock. “That makes zero sense, Connie. Why would you even be jealous of me?”

Connie tightened her hold on her friend's body and shyly stared at his dark eyes. "It's like… You were smaller, and you looked younger than me, then suddenly you grew into a handsome, tall guy with the prettiest voice and the coolest style… While I'm stuck like this, looking plain and boring… How long until you decide that I'm not cool enough to hang out with you?"

In a fast and unexpected motion, Steven grabbed Connie in his arms, caressing her cheeks with his hands as if she was the most precious being in the world. He stared at her eyes as deeply as he could, letting all of his affection, his adoration for that person before him, for that girl that meant the world to him… He let all of this visible in his gaze.

Then he sniffled and bawled.

“I would never leave you for anyone! You’re my best friend and best friends don’t do that!”

Feeling taken back at his sudden, but so very ‘Steven-like’ way to show how much he cared, Connie also cried, but in relief. “S-Sorry… I guess I just didn’t want you to think I’m uncool.”

"That's impossible! You're the coolest, smartest, prettiest person that I know!" Steven said with such conviction that even Connie seemed a little surprised. "We're a team! I'm never, ever, going to leave you!"

Connie smiled brightly, giggling happily. “Pinky promise?”

They both linked their pinkies fingers. “I pinky swear! We don’t need anyone’s validation to be awesome, and if they don’t like that, then they can… Shove it.”

The dark-skinned girl snorted, laughing out loud. "Steven! You said a dirty word!"

“I did, didn’t I?” For a moment, Steven seemed a bit nervous, but just as fast, he shrugged off, nonchalantly. “W-Whatever! I mean it, and if I have to swear to make my point, then I will!”

“You’re incredible, Steven.” Connie stood on the tip of her toes and gave him a kiss on his cheek. “I-I really love you.”

Steven touched his cheek absentmindedly, all of his thoughts running wild across his mind, a huge surge of happiness filling his heart completely and making his entire face blush.

Then, he grabbed his friend by her waist and spun her around joyfully. “I love you too!”

They giggled and after a few moments, without anyone or anything prompting them, they started to dance with each other.

It was goofy, and a little clunky, but they didn’t care. They felt like the coolest people in the entire world and in that moment, their existence only consisted of each other.

And then, when Steven miscalculated a move and lost his balance, expecting his back to meet the sand, - only to be held by his friend's careful arms,- they both felt something strange.

Blinding light. A peaceful, but warm feeling.

And then, there wasn’t a teenager boy named Steven Quartz Universe nor a teenager girl called Connie Maheswaran… But someone else.

In a moment of the purest form of friendship that one day would turn into romantic love, a being like no other appeared.

Their name was Stevonnie… The most awesome human-Gem created.

 

---

 

It was annoying to stand in silence among the Crystal Chumps, but Lapis surely hated whenever they tried to make small talk. Especially since Amethyst wouldn’t stop trying to get on her nerves.

“Admit it, Lazuli. Whenever Halloween comes up, you get dressed in your Avatar costume and go around punching kids on the streets, just so you can have their candies.” Amethyst said as she ate a bowl of popcorn.

Rolling her eyes, Lapis answered. “For the last time, your mentally challenged imbecile, I never even saw this movie, second, I don’t have any costume for Halloween and third, I don’t ever eat. Period.” 

“Oh, come on! Never?” The purpled Gem seemed shocked. “Don’t tell me that Pearl filled your head with all that judgmental talk about humans and how gross they are...”

“She didn’t have to. Eating is disgusting and unbecoming for any self-respecting Gem.” Seeing how the purple Gem growled at her, Lapis snickered and gave Amethyst a taunting smirk. “However, I’m not surprised that you would enjoy it.”

“What’s that supposed to mean, your stuck up, arrogant, little-” Amethyst ceased her tirade when she noticed the front door opening and a stranger entered the house. “What the heck?”

Lapis was about to give the stranger a ‘time out' in a water bubble, not really caring if they would drown in its interior when she noticed something unusual about that stranger.

The Gem, on their navel… Their looks… So familiar…

Then, it clicked.

“Steven?! Is that-!” She jumped high from the couch and landed just before the familiar stranger. “No… At least not entirely. You fused with somebody… With Connie?”

“WHAT?!” Amethyst jaw slacked, clearly in shock. Garnet, on the other hand, seemed both impressed but pleased with the situation.

“I guess my advice did work, right, Rockstar?” Lapis smirked, giving the stranger a friendly punch on their shoulder. “So how are you feeling?”

“I feel… Amazing.” Their voice sounded feminine and soothing. Appropriated. “Steven and Connie… I mean, I never felt this wonderful. Is that what being fused feels like?”

“You look great Steve- Uh, I mean Conn- Uh… I know! STEVONNIE? Yeah, it seems about right!” Amethyst exclaimed as she circled Stevonnie. “And look! Your outfits have also mashed up! So badass!”

"I know, right?" Stevonnie puffed their chest, feeling very proud of themselves. "It's like I'm the best of them, and they already are pretty great."

They laughed and barely noticed Garnet approaching. When the Gems finally noticed, they saw her smiling proudly at the new, unexpected fusion before her. “Stevonnie. You’re not two people, and you’re not one person. You are an experience! Make sure you’re a good experience.”

Touching their cheek affectionately, Garnet continued. “Now… GO HAVE FUN!”

With that, she pivoted and walked away from them, apparently satisfied with what she said and what they could do.

Stevonnie, on the other hand, seemed very much ecstatic, and they run away from the house giggling and practically dancing with each step they took. “Thanks! I will go do that! Bye!”

They slammed the door, and Garnet entered her room inside the Crystal Temple, leaving Amethyst and Lapis alone in the house.

“So… It’s just me, or Garnet took this way too well?” Amethyst said to the Blue Gem at her side.

"She probably foresaw this entire thing. Damn future vision." Lapis scoffed but playfully snorted at the purple Gem. "I will go babysit this hyperactive kid without them noticing, so wait here for Pearl or something."

Without even hearing the shorter Gem’s answer, Lapis left the house and took flight, observing the very happy Stevonnie frolicking around.

Inside the now almost empty house, Amethyst groaned.

 

---

 

Everything was going so well, and that’s exactly why everything had to go up in flames as soon as she got distracted for one, simple, irritating minute.

She should have predicted that something would go wrong the moment she saw the deadbeat warehouse filled with questionable humans and music, but she didn’t want to crash the ‘party’ without a very good reason.

And she also wasn't looking forward to the idea of making her way among the overcrowded warehouse, filled with disgusting humans drenched in sweat and stars know what else.

This was her undoing, as she begrudgingly admitted later.

She took a peek from one of the many broken windows around the building and then, she saw it… And heard it.

"I-I don't wanna dance anymore." Stevonnie said to a boy, apparently around seventeen or maybe eighteen years old. He leered at them predatorily, as if they were a piece of fresh meat.

"What are you talking about? We are the best thing that ever happened to this place! Come back out with me!" He said while gesturing at the place around them.

“Why should I?” The passive aggressive tone of Stevonnie’s voice could not be mistaken, and yet, the boy kept pushing and pushing.

“Because we’re angels walking among garbage people! We’re perfect for each other.” Indeed, Stevonnie was an angel compared to those pathetic, disgusting humans around them, but this also included that arrogant imbecile who was speaking to them.

“How can you say that?! You don’t even know us!” Stevonnie tried to back away from the boy, gesturing wildly with their hands.

"Woah! I'm just looking for a dance, don't get crazy." The boy sneered disdainfully as if he wasn't the one pushing their personal boundaries. Probably trying to gaslight them.

“No one’s crazy! I just don’t like feeling alone here!” Baffled and unnerved, Stevonnie tried to explain themselves to a guy who was clearly messing with their minds.

“If you feel so lonely, then dance with me.” The annoying prick finally said, and then Lapis couldn’t take anymore.

Without wasting any more time that she already had, she moved between the gap on the wall and quickly placed herself between the boy and Stevonnie. "That's enough, meat bag."

“L-Lapis? What are you doing here?” Stevonnie asked, their voice sounding as surprised as it was relieved.

“Don’t worry about it. Go back home while I will have a talk with this idiot.” Noticing that the fusion seemed a little unsure, Lapis turned her head at them and sternly ordered. “Stevonnie, go now. That’s an order.”

Stevonnie made a small squeak and eagerly nodded at the Blue Gem. "Y-Yes Ma'am!"

Then, they left the area, leaving Lapis with the boy.

“I get it, I’m just too hot, so you wanted me all to yourself, am I right?” The boy quickly recovered and leered at Lapis. “Heh, she seemed a little unstable for my own taste anyway.”

The Blue Gem growled. “It’s they, for starters, and you have bigger problems than trying to place the blame for your actions on someone innocent.”

Without waiting for him to answer her, Lapis grabbed him by the throat and smirked. “So you want to dance? Let’s dance then!”

Desperately trying to free himself from the tightening grasp around his neck, Lapis dragged the boy away from the building. It attracted the attention of the people partying, but considering that it was a rave, and most of the people present were either high, drunk or simply too scared to do anything, nobody tried to follow them.

Not that they would get to do anything against a very vindictive Gem from the caliber of a Lapis Lazuli, since they usually were prone to make those who challenged them suffer in terrible ways.

The Blue Gem summoned her water wings and quickly flew high into the dark, night sky. As she soared through the clouds and the temperature dropped, the boy jerked desperately, barely managing the words. “P-Please let me go!”

She briefly marveled over how strong his neck was for not snapping.

“Oh? Really?” Lapis approached her smirking face to the boy before her, enjoying each second of the whole situation. “That’s a terrible choice of words.”

She opened her hand holding the boy’s neck painfully slowly, watching attentively his already scared expression turn into a complete horrified one. When she finally released him, she guffawed loudly as he screams and fell to his death.

‘Well, it's not like there will be a body to mourn since we're high enough in the air for it to turn into a pancake as soon as it hits the water, and of course, no one will find it in the middle of the ocean.'

As a joke, she counted how long it would take for him to hit the water.

Forty seconds.

The comforting splash sound made her smile even further. Now she just needed to return to the beach house.

 

---

 

“I’m back!” Lapis shouted, but as soon as she crossed the door’s entrance, she was tackled to the ground by Steven and Connie. “Woah! Settle down, guys!”

“You saved us from that creep!” Steven excitedly said. “So, thanks aunt Lapis!”

“Heh, don’t worry about it.”

"Are you kidding?" Connie also exclaimed. "My mom told me that there were some boys that couldn't take the hint and might even try do something or make me think that I was crazy, but I never expect to actually see this happening to me… To us! You're a hero!"

“Our hero!” Both teens shouted.

Lapis blushed in embarrassment but she was genuinely happy. Somehow, she felt like helping those kids wasn't tiresome, or boring…

It actually felt like something she would do regardless of the reason. Something someone would do for… Family?

‘That makes sense. Ah… I’m turning soft. If the other Lapis Lazulis could see me now, they would think that they were hallucinating.’

The characteristic, familiar sound and sight of a camera’s flash interrupted the Blue Gem’s thoughts, and she saw that Pearl had taken a photo of the three of them laying on the floor. “What a sight! That will definitely go to our album!”

“Pearl! That’s so unfair!” Lapis groaned as she gently pushed both teenagers away from her and playfully tried to pick the camera from her friend’s hands. “I’m so going to delete this!”

“No, you won’t! That’s a keeper and you know it!” Pearl said as she expertly avoided her friend’s hands and placed the camera safely back inside her Gem. “I’m glad you had fun being a heroine and all, but I really want to go back home.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean, Hot Patootie.” Lapis stretched for a moment and gently took Pearl in her arms, sighing in satisfaction when the pale Gem nuzzled her neck. “You owe me cuddles and dances, though.”

Giggling in her very feminine and beautiful way that only Pearls seemed capable to do, the pink-haired Gem pressed a kiss against her neck. “Yes, Little Lappy, I do remember.”

When they left the house, Connie turned to her best friend. “Are they always like that, Steven?”

The handsome boy nodded and took the girl’s hand between his own. “Always.”

In the back of Connie's mind, she secretly wished that someday, Steven and herself  could be like them.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 20: Stars

 

 

She felt strange.

Her currently situation was understandable, considering that she, somehow, just managed to fuse with her very handsome best friend into another person. However, since that day she felt different.

Like, so very healthy and smarter.

Physical Education never was her favorite school subject, even if she didn’t dislike it nor were bad at it, but now, she suddenly seemed to do everything perfectly and without breaking any sweat. Heavy things are now very light to carry, her muscles didn’t seem to strain anymore, and her reflexes are sharper than ever.

And her mind was no different.

Just by seeing something once in a book her brain somehow manages to learn what she had read, making her classes a total breeze to get by, her answers accurate and the teacher’s praises more frequent than before. Aside from some classmates’ jealous looks, everything was perfect.

Too perfect.

Regardless of what other people might think, Connie never was naive. She knew something had happened, that those changes weren't natural and that something was responsible for those unusual side effects, no matter how positive those things turned out to be for her… And she could safely say that this started to happen after she fused with Steven.

‘Is Stevonnie’s existence related to all of this? And if that is indeed the case… Why?’

She shook her head, frowning when another, more sinister thought crossed her mind.

That nightmare that she had. That haunting, creepy thing that made her unable to sleep last night.

‘Maybe I can talk about with Steven? Is he having them too?’

Swallowing her uneasiness, Connie pressed the call button and waited for him to pick up.

After a few beeps, her best friend greeted her, singing a playful song with his entrancing voice. “Good morning pretty flower! How’s is your mood in this fair hour?”

“Oh… Uh, hi, Steven!” She stuttered, feeling her cheeks warm up at the unexpected praise. “You got me by surprise. I didn’t know you could sing so well.”

His easy-going laugh was almost distracting. “Thanks! Lapis said that I should practice so we can sing together! You should sing with us, that would be great!”

“Y-Yeah, I might take you on this offer…” Connie took a deep breath and tried to calm herself so she could start talking about what was bothering her. “Steven… I called you because I want to ask you something important.”

“Really? Well, I’m all ears, no fears or tears! So, you can tell me anything!” He said and Connie could picture him in her mind puffing his chest.

Connie’s nails tapped over her desk. A nervous habit that she never managed to overcome. “Well… Do you remember the day we fused into Stevonnie?”

“What about it?” Her best friend asked curiously, completely oblivious to the unease that was filling her nerves. “Did something bad happen?”

“Not really…” She trailed off, and shook her head, deciding to take a direct approach and just say what she wanted to say. “I had a weird dream… I think it was a nightmare.”

Steven was silent, so Connie took this silence as a sign to continue. “I was sitting under a tree. You were there right beside me, and we were up in a small hill… But the tree was dead, Steven, there wasn’t any leaves or flowers on it, just a husk and empty branches over us! In fact, the grass was dead, the sky seemed grayish and even us were acting weird… Like we were comfortable being there, or something like that.”

She could hear Steven’s breathing through the call, and she kept talking. “Then… I took your hand, and we intertwined our fingers and I said to you-”

-Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.” Steven’s voice suddenly interrupted her, startling Connie for a moment. “Sorry for talking over you… I… I had the same dream.”

Connie gasped. “You did? How is this possible?”

“Maybe is because we fused together, so we had this shared dream? I don’t know… I mean, what I do know is that those words are actually a quote from that Shakespeare book, ‘The Tempest’, but why in the world would we be dreaming about it… I have no clue.” Steven sighed. “Have you ever read this book? I, for sure, never have.”

She unconsciously nodded, even if her friend wasn’t there to see her. Slight embarrassed over it, she answered her best friend. “Uh, I have, but it was a long time ago, and I didn’t even remember most of it.”

Then, it clicked inside her mind.

“Hey, maybe my knowledge was somehow shared with you through the dream?” She frowned. “It still is weird, but at least it has a logical explanation…”

"Yeah, it seems about right…" Steven agreed. "But Connie, it was probably just a dream, like those we had about cotton candy and Dog Copter. Weird stuff happens and doesn't really mean anything by it."

“I know… It will sound silly, but sharing it with you makes me so relieved, you know?” Connie laughed awkwardly, feeling far more relaxed. “Thanks for having my back, Steven. I’m glad we talked about it.”

Her best friend giggled. Such a pretty voice. Connie swooned without even noticing. “No problem, Bob. I’m always here for you.”

“I know.” She said as she looked around, trying to see if her parents were nearby. “Hey… Uh… I-I love you.”

“I love you too, Connie! Talk to you later!”

When they ended the call, Connie touched her warming cheeks.

She really was silly for worrying over something as simple as that. A part of her wondered if she had done it unconsciously just to have an excuse to hear her friend's voice, to be able to talk to him without sounding strange.

‘And now I’m really acting weird. What’s my problem? I should stop being so clingy and just let Steven do his own thing. Friends can’t monopolize each other’s time like that.’

She tried to reassure herself for a few more minutes before she got up from her bed and decided to pass the time watching some tv on the living room downstairs. Picking up the tv controller and pressing the ‘on’ button, she observed that it was showcasing the recent news.

"-And the searches continue for the eighteen old boy Kevin Cooper, son of the famous Steel's industries tycoon Damian Cooper. An AMBER alert has been issued for the teenager since his disappearance one week ago. He was last seen leaving a party accompanied by a girl, although the testimonies were brought into question by the seemly unlikely veracity regarding most of them."

A recording of a clearly confused, obviously drunk and high teenager was seen on the tv. “He was there and then he and the girl got like, a pair of wings and flew away… Like high, really high, you know?”

The recording returned to the news anchor on the studio. “If you have any information regarding Kevin Cooper’s whereabouts or anyone suspect, please contact the local authorities, and now in some other news-”

Connie turned off the TV. She had a feeling that Lapis had something to do with Kevin's disappearance, but it didn't really seem to unnerve her as it should. Maybe is everything weighing over her mind, but for now… She really didn't care.

‘I hope I’m not a bad person for not caring…’

She really hoped she wasn’t.

 

---

 

Pearl tinkered a little more on the Metatron device over her desk on the corner of her and Lapis' shared bedroom, attempting to see if she could find anything else about the device while simultaneously trying not to overthink everything running through her thoughts. It was a blessing, considering that she always was called ‘neurotic' by her ex-companions.

But really, how in the world could her even keep calm with what her mind is trying to conjure?

Lapis wanted to know what kind of Gem she was attracted to. For a reason. A reason that she knows, and no longer can pretend that doesn’t exist.

Thus, the exact reason why she was acting so nervous since the moment this question was uttered ten days ago… And she kept stalling and pushing away, always using this device and her attempts into dismantling it without accidentally destroying/activating it as an excuse. However, even to her own mind, that excuse was getting old.

‘I need to talk to her. It is unavoidable at this point. Although I have to admit… It's not a bad development… I… I think I like it.'

Lapis chose that moment to appear in the room.

“Hey Hot Patootie, do you want to watch the ‘Les Miserables’ Movie with me?” The way Lapis shyly asked her, followed by the Blue Gem’s cute blush made Pearl smile in response.

“Certainly.” She walked towards her best friend and gave her a kiss on her cheek. “And after the movie is over, I want to tell you something, OK?”

Lapis blinked for a moment, making the connection between what Pearl said and what she could be intending to talk.

“S-Sure!”

Both Gems walked up the stairs.

Pearl could get the Metatron back after both of them finished their movie and their conversation, so there wasn’t much of a rush for it or anything. Spending time with her beloved best friend was far more important…

Just like their following conversation would end up to be...

 

---

 

“Who is this man?

What sort of devil is he

To have me caught in a trap

And choose to let me go free?

It was his hour at last

To put a seal on my fate

Wipe out the past

And wash me clean off the slate!

All it would take

Was a flick of his knife.

Vengeance was his

And he gave me back my life!”

 

“Hm. Not bad, I expected worse from this actor. What do you think, Pearl?” Lapis asked.

Honestly, she thought that his rendition of the song was actually pretty good, but Pearl wasn't interested in talking over it like her friend seemed to be. Therefore, she only shrugged and offered the Blue Gem a smile.

Lapis snorted and focused again at the projection, cuddling with Pearl even further on their huge shared chair.

 

“Damned if I'll live in the debt of a thief!

Damned if I'll yield at the end of the chase.

I am the law and the law is not mocked

I'll spit his pity right back in his face

There is nothing on earth that we share

It is either Valjean or Javert!”

 

The characteristic and annoying sound of the Crystal Gem communicator resonated loudly, and she had half of a mind in throwing it against the wall for ruining the best song of the musical, and certainly from this movie adaptation.

She sighed. “Lapis, could you get it? I really love this song and I think I will be angry at them if I answer the call.”

Lapis raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think that I won’t be angry at them?”

“Because you’re either annoyed or utterly sarcastic with them, so even if you do get angry, is not like they will make a fuss over it.”

“Good point.” Lapis muttered and rose from the chair, walking towards the communicator. “But you will get it next time!”

The pale Gem chuckled and turned her attention back to the movie.

 

---

 

When Lapis returned, the song was already over, but before she could joke with her about it, she noticed that she seemed distressed. “What is bothering you?”

Lapis swallowed.

This was getting worrisome.

“The… The Crystal Gems have found something disturbing. They… They think it has something to do with Homeworld.”

Immediately, Pearl stood up from the control chair, startled. “What?! Are they sure about that?”

"No, that's why they asked us to come to their HQ to check it out with them." Lapis trembled, hugging herself. "We should go as quick as possible."

“Yes, that would be for the best.” Pearl jumped and landed beside the Blue Gem, taking her hands. “Hey, they are probably overreacting. You know how they are…”

Lapis managed a weak smile, but she kept her worried expression, gently helping Pearl to settle on her arms as usual. “I hope so, Pearl. I hope so…”

They left the Moon Base, and try as she might, the pale Gem couldn’t shake the feeling that something terrible had happened.

 

---

 

“Oh good, you're finally here. Now we can start discussing what we learned. Have a seat, please.” Garnet immediately said as soon as the Shatter Stars entered the house.

“That won’t be necessary.” Lapis bluntly answered the fusion. “Just tell us what you have found.”

With a sigh, Steven crossed his arms and looked at them. “I was spending some time with Connie yesterday when something crashed against the house’s floor, breaking through the roof. It was one of those things.”

Steven raised a box and picked up what seemed to be a broken automaton device, albeit a new looking one, if Pearl wasn’t mistaken. “I used my shield against it immediately, but soon after, more of those things appeared in the same way, as if they were falling from the sky. So Connie and I ran towards the beach and we saw that a huge amount of them was around."

“And that’s when Garnet and I appeared to beat them up.” Amethyst quipped. “But there was too many of them, but Steven here made a plan.”

“Yeah, I noticed that those marble things were trying to get somewhere. So we followed them. It was weird when they suddenly fused together and became all big, but we just hopped over it and let the big marble guide us to where it wanted us to go.” Steven tapped the device with the tip of his fingers. “And it brought us to the Kindergarten where Amethyst was made.”

“The Prime Kindergarten!” Pearl exclaimed. “And what happened?”

Garnet crossed her arms. “It changed form and brought us to an engineering station. We tried to keep hidden and watch what it was doing but soon after, a screen appeared and a Gem was shown on it.”

Pearl gasped. “What Gem?”

“If what she loudly claimed was correct, I believe she was a Peridot.” The fusion bit her lower lip for a moment and continued. “Regardless of what kind of Gem was, she was definitely trying to accomplish something important.”

“I got tired of waiting and I tried to talk to her.” Steven said awkwardly. “And she asked if Earth was populated by ‘Stevens’ instead of ‘humans’. I was a bit nervous and I tried to see if she would tell us anything useful but I didn’t manage to learn much besides her intentions in ‘picking where they left off’, or something like that.”

“Then the green Dorito turned ballistic and attacked us out of nowhere and we had to beat her machines or whatever, while she said that she was the one who made that red-eyed thing appear on the sky, apparently to spy on us, - which we broke by ourselves just so you know." The purple Gem grunted. "And she kept whining about us destroying her stuff, and she shouted something like ‘I will report this!' and whoosh! Gone."

Pearl shot a worried look at her former companions. “This does not bode well.”

"Yeah, mom… I'm worried too..." Steven trailed off. "Right now, we can't do much but wait for them to appear, or something."

“Which begs the question: How they managed to reach Earth when you both are on the moon? Shouldn’t you be able to detect anything approaching?” Garnet said.

The pale Gem pondered for a moment. “I don’t think that this particular feature is still in operation, however, we must also consider that their technology had thousands of years of improvements. Therefore, they must have ways of avoiding detection.”

Garnet sighed. “Right now, we can’t do much but prepare ourselves for a possible Homeworld’s attack. Please be careful, Shatter Stars.”

At that, the Shatter Stars left the Crystal Temple…

Lapis still hadn’t said a word.

 

---

 

Pearl knew that Lapis wasn't feeling OK. It was obvious from her lack of words and unnerving silence, but when she brought them to the Galaxy Warp instead of their Moon Base, the pink-haired Gem had no doubt that something was terribly wrong.

“What are we doing here, Lapis?”

The Blue Gem quiet demeanor crumbled and Pearl could truly see how her friend really was feeling.

From the neutral expression, one born of dread and horror appeared.

Lapis was scared.

“Pearl, we have to leave this solar system!” Lapis declared while she pointed at the warp pads around them. “Look, they are all fixed, including the one from Homeworld, so they must have sent scouts and others Gems to spy this planet before they attack!"

The pale Gem summoned her dagger and stabbed the Homeword’s warp pad until it was broken. “Not anymore. At least, they won’t be using this to reach Earth.”

Pearl put the dagger back into her Gem and looked at her best friend, expecting to see the Blue Gem more relaxed but instead of reassuring her, Lapis frantic shook her head negatively. “It doesn’t matter! That Peridot must have already sent them valuable information regarding the state of this planet, including the fact that it would be fairly easy for them to take over!”

The pale Gem approached her distressed friend, opening her arms as if she was going to embrace her, but the sudden jerk from Lapis form moving away from her made Pearl stop in her tracks.

She sighed. “It doesn’t matter. They couldn’t beat us before and this is no different.”

“Yes, it is, Pearl! The Crystal Gems no longer have an army for starters!” Lapis clutched her head. “And we aren’t even part of the rebellion! There’s no reason why we should stick here and fight an impossible battle with the Diamonds! They had five thousand years to improve all of their weapons and to formulate new strategies, fighting them would be suicide!”

“You don’t know that-”

“YES I DO!” The Blue Gem shouted, interrupting Pearl. “I felt their anger on my Gem, they were so blind by their rage that they mistake me as one of the rebels and they tortured me without any hesitation. They’re going to take their anger on this planet just like they did before.”

“I can’t…” Lapis released her head and lowered her arms, clenching her fists. “I won’t get myself caught up on another war…”

Pearl shook her head negatively. “But what about our life in our moon? Our things, our dreams? We can’t leave everything behind, Lapis.”

The blue-haired Gem snapped. “There’s no need to get so emotionally attached to any of those things! We will die if we stay, what part of that statement you don’t seem to understand, Pearl?!”

Pearl flinched and this prompted a frustrated groan from her best friend, but the pale Gem frowned. "Lapis, we can run and hide as much as you want, but it won't change anything. Eventually, Homeworld will catch up to us and they will shatter us."

“Don’t be ridiculous, Pearl. They might just imprison us if we come with them willingly, and they might just set us back into our roles in their hierarchy.”

The pink-haired Gem scoffed. “How convenient it is for you to say that. You aren’t the one who will be forced back into a miserable life of servitude.”

Lapis stammered for a moment, looking away from her best friend’s glare. “I-I can ask them to let me be your owner, and-”

As if she was slapped, Pearl stepped away from the Blue Gem in shock.

She couldn’t believe what she just heard.

Her immaterial heart felt a sudden rush of pain that she had forgotten for so many years… And in a moment, it all came back crushing her mind and her feelings.

“How dare you…!” Pearl’s voice trailed off as her expression contorted into one of pure anger. “I’m done being a slave for the Diamonds, for Homeworld and for ANY Gem!”

Lapis took a step back from the pale Gem before her, apparently hurt by her statement. “It won’t be any Gem; it would be me-”

“And that’s is supposed to be different, Lapis Lazuli?” Pearl snarled, making the Blue Gem wince. “I’m no one’s slave! I’m not an object! I don’t belong to the Diamonds, nor the Crystal Gems, and I definitely don’t belong to you!”

“Pearl…” Lapis raised her hand but received a growl in response. “I didn’t mean it like that-”

Pearl interrupted the Blue Gem, giving her a glare full of rage. “I want to live, Lapis. Not survive! Hiding is surviving, and I rather die fighting them as a renegade who belongs to no one but myself than as a weak-willed coward who is just confident in her abilities when the odds are in her favor!”

Lapis raised her eyebrows and Pearl could see the Blue Gem’s eyes glistening. It was her turn to feel as if she was slapped, then, her expression changed into one of anger and she snarled. “So you want to stay here and die? Is that it?”

Pearl crossed her arms, seething at the Gem before her. “If you want to leave, then go away. You have absolutely no obligation to fight for something you don’t believe in. Neither of us cares for the fate of this planet, but different from you, I have no option but to fight for my freedom.”

A heavy and maddening silence filled their ears. Only the sound of the waves crashing violently against the border area of the Galaxy Warp.

Both Gems stared at each other, neither of them willing to concede to the other point.

‘I know how this discussion will end. I have no choice.’

“Lapis, I’m not asking you to stay here, you obviously aren’t interested in fighting Homeworld’s forces.” Pearl closed her eyes, deeply inhale and exhaled, bracing herself. “You should just… Go.”

Pearl opened her eyes again, devoid of any emotion, any distress. Numb to the silence.

Lapis lowered her gaze. She sighed and turned away from the pale Gem. “I’m not getting caught in the middle of another war.” 

‘What is the opposite of two?’ Pearl contemplated as she saw Lapis Lazuli, her best friend; summon her water wings and fly away into the dark sky. ‘A lonely me… A lonely you.’

She stood away in the empty silence. Unmoving, with only the sea that grew increasingly violent each second, to the point she briefly thought that a storm would appear at any moment.

The pink-haired Gem didn't move and waited for the arrival of the storm. The heavy rain caressed her face, cold and unforgiving, just like she wanted at that moment.

That way, she could let the repressed warm tears fall from her eyes as if they were being painfully extracted.

No wails. No cries. Only the pain, the unfazed expressionless gaze rooted in the place where she was last seen.

Pearl opened her mouth, and almost unconsciously - perhaps a mechanism of self-defense to protect her mind from the unbearable misery that consumed her entire being, - she started singing part of a recent song.

A song that she changed, to fill in the racing thoughts drowning her mind.

 

“And must I now begin to doubt,

Who never doubted all these years?

My heart is stone and still it trembles

The world I have known is lost in shadow.

Is she from heaven or from hell?

And does she know

That granting me my life today

This Gem has killed me even so?”

 

Pearl mechanically moved her hand and made a motion of grasping, as if she had a heart that was organic. As if she could open her chest to remove it. The heart that was half hers and half Lapis.

Her lips trembled.

The despair increased.

 

 

“I am reaching, but I fall

And the stars are black and cold

As I stare into the void

Of a world that I cannot hold

I'll escape now from that world

From the world of dreams past

There is nowhere I can turn

There is no way that could ever last.”

 

Then, Pearl turned to the waters that only grew in size due to the storm, that violent tempest that seemed to cover the entire world.

Her world.

And then, she walked towards the borders of the Galaxy Warp and closed her eyes.

She let herself fall into the depths of those waters.

She let the tempest take her.

From a distance, she almost could hear something… A familiar voice…Steven.

And it was as if her beloved son was whispering to her:

‘Hell is empty and all the devils are here.’

She couldn’t agree more with it.

 

---

 

When Pearl regained her consciousness, she was laying on her back on a familiar beach.

The distant shore of that place. Beach City.

‘The only one who could have brought me here was Lapis or Steven. Since I doubt Steven could have reached my mind without forcing me to kill him in it to let him out… I can only suspect Lapis. How gentle of her, bringing me to safety before running away.’

Pearl stared at the now calm clouds over her.

‘That’s a moot point. She’s gone now, and I have to worry about more pressing matters. If I am to live like this, then I will make sure those Homeworld’s Gems existences shall become as much hell as mine.’

Yes. Pearl didn’t care anymore. Right now, she only had her anger to guide her, and this time, she had no one to keep her stable.

The Crystal Gems, Greg and even Steven wouldn’t be able to do much for her. She would help them, for they shared similar goals, but ultimately, after the shock of being discarded like she was, - by someone who claimed that would never leave her…

…She trusted no one.

 

Chapter Text

 

Garnet stared at her hands, eyeing both of the Gemstones that made her form.

Since Pearl’s sudden appearance yesterday, - and her apparent desire to remain a recluse inside her old room - she was filled with worry and sadness for her dear friend.

Lapis abandoning Pearl made the pale Gem change again… But this time, instead of the hopeful feeling that it would be something good, now she could not help the sense of dread hovering the entire Crystal Temple.

And the worst thing is the fact she felt as both partially responsible for her friend’s sorrow as she felt powerless to do anything to help her.

“Garnet…” Steven approached her with glistening eyes. “I managed to talk to her a little, but besides the simple ‘She is gone’ that she already told us, I couldn’t make her stop being so… Expressionless and cold, even if she didn’t treat me like she did to Amethyst.”

‘Amethyst... Poor Gem just had to try Pearl’s patience when she needed her space. I know she was worried, but trying to convince her to return to our team, and arguing with her about it when she refused wasn’t the correct way to support her. She just got her heart broken by someone she trusted and loved, its no wonder she is so volatile.’

The fusion gave the teenager a warm hug. “She needs time, Steven. You would’ve felt the same if Connie disappeared on you and never came back.”

“That won’t happen.” Steven immediately answered, his voice carrying a sharp, unexpected tone. “She’s never leaving me. Ever.

Garnet could try to argue that he couldn’t predict what the future holds, - and that the way he sounded too convinced about it was worrisome - but then again… Neither could she.

At least when some beings are concerned.

Before Pearl's defection from the Crystal Gem's, Garnet would say that the pale Gem was mostly predictable. Between her obsessive, compulsive and self-destructive behavior, the fusion would proudly claim that there wasn't anything that Pearl could do that would truly shock her, therefore, she could use her future sight to pinpoint her future easily.

Until Pearl changed completely before she could even notice.

From that day, her future sight wasn’t as infallible as it once was. At first, she thought that Pearl simply had changed her way of thinking so much that she no longer could recognize her enough to make a decent prediction; but after more than a whole decade having a plethora of ‘hit and miss’ situations with her former companion, she came to the conclusion that her future sight simply was malfunctioning around her.

Be as that may, it didn’t bother her enough, besides hurting her pride, but since yesterday, her old friend became far more elusive, if this was even possible at this point.

‘It’s like there’s a strange aura when I try to predict her actions. I only feel pain in her future. Unexplainable pain and…’

Despair.

Something very wrong was going to happen, and she just knew that Pearl’s future was engulfed in thick shadows. The threatening Diamond Authority’s looming over the Earth was an easy sign that they will need more than her skills as a seer to get through this. Her own future and of her other companions were as much mysterious as Pearl’s, but they all shared the dreadful feeling of disaster.

Garnet hugged herself, and after a few moments, Steven joined her side. “Garnet, is Pearl going to be fine? Can you tell me that?”

She eyed the teenager and gave him the only answer that she could.

“Yes. Everything will turn out ok in the end”

‘Even if I know that this is a likely lie.’

The soothing lie that fooled no one.

 

---

 

Amethyst prided herself of not being an overly sensitive Gem. She never was one to get too much bothered by anything for long, more like annoyed, but sad? Depressed? That’s was impossible for the very laid back, impulsive Gem that she always was.

Until she wasn’t and it hurts like hell.

Although she knew that Pearl was obviously upset by being thrown away like garbage by that selfish blue bitch, the purple Gem saw the situation as an opportunity to be there for her friend. To support Pearl and help her get over that ungrateful asshole who didn’t deserve her affection and trust.

So, when she approached her seething friend who was hugging her own knees in silence, she said what she thought would really help her.

She invited Pearl to join back the Crystal Gems.

Instead of the hug and maybe crying words, - with a possible offer of kissing her to soothe her pain like the good friend that she was, - what Amethyst received was reduced to a sarcastic retort, a disdainful dismissal, and a glare.

And then, the purple Gem got irritated and decided that apparently was a good idea to bring up the fact that Lapis left Pearl all alone just like Rose did so many times in their past, and now Pearl had no one but them; that the reason she was abandoned by Lapis was due to the fact that she deserved it.

‘That was the stupidest, most inconsiderate, hurtful thing that I could possibly say to her. Why in the fucking hell I had this brilliant idea? Now she hates me!’

Yes. Amethyst knew she had just thrown her friendship with Pearl in the trash when the pale Gem summoned her dagger and managed to stab her form, damaging Gem. The only reason she wasn't shattered was due to Steven's healing powers and the odd angle that Pearl attacked her, which didn't allow her to do much damage.

But the fact remained: Amethyst managed to hurt Pearl so much that she tried to kill her.

Now, the purple Gem was crying like a little bitch inside her room, feeling more worthless than she ever has, depressed over her lost friendship, burning with self-loathing and most important of all: Feeling powerless to do anything to make Pearl recover from what Lapis did to her.

‘What was that thing that Steven said to me after Pearl left for her room? ‘Hell is filled with good intentions?’ Do I want to know why he is saying things like that? Have I just made everything worse by trying to force her to get better? Stars, I hate myself. No wonder Pearl and Lapis despised me so much. I’m a joke… A poor excuse for a friend…’

Even though Amethyst just wanted to help her friend, now she could only regret being so impulsive. If she actually took the time to really listen, to really think things through like Pearl usually did, then she wouldn’t be here adding more problems over a Gem who clearly got the entire universe against her, if the misery of her existence is anything to go by.

It was arrogant of Amethyst for thinking that she could push Pearl to get over something like that just because it would be more convenient for the purple Gem. Just because she wanted an opportunity to get closer to her.

Like the selfish being that she was.

Idiot. Idiot. She let lust and pride guide her actions. She was blinded by the ugly need from her heart to finally have the upper hand over Lapis, - who wasn’t even here to begin with – and to quell the desire she always had regarding Pearl.

Idiot. She was so stupid.

Pearl rejected her before for being in love with Rose. That was her excuse, however, now the purple Gem finally admitted to herself that maybe Pearl didn’t just reject her just for that reason…

…Pearl also rejected her for being too immature to properly understand love and what it entailed.

‘Which comes as no surprise, since I acted pretty much as a selfish prick to anyone who somehow wasn’t kissing my ass when I whined about something… Just like I… ‘

Just like she did with Greg when Rose died. Mocking his pain by taking her form, just to rub into his face that she was dead because of him.

Greg was a true saint for forgiving her as he did, but Pearl… Pearl wasn't like Greg at all. In fact, they were so different from each other that it shocked her when they became so close out of nowhere.

Jealousy didn’t even begin to describe what she felt. Before this whole Rose conflict thing between them, Pearl was so very affectionate with her. She always was holding her, ruffling her hair and being kind to her… To the point that Amethyst tried to do impulsive things just she had an excuse to have Pearl fussing all over her. Over time, Pearl started to lose her patience and became condescending towards her, much to Rose’s amusement, and feeling ashamed over being treated as a nuisance rather than someone she might grow to feel attraction, Amethyst decided to hurt Pearl as a way to protect herself from being rejected.

All that time… And only now Amethyst could see how horribly she had been acting since then.

‘Pearl don't deserve to be hurt over something she cannot control. Being friend-zoned by her gave me no excuse to mock and taunt her as I did. Her denial over returning to the Crystal Gems doesn't give me any right over saying something hurtful like I did. Its no wonder that she never was into me. A Gem would have to be the most comprehensive being of the universe to be able to love me.’

And honestly, Amethyst doubted such Gem existed.

If her fight with Pearl proved anything to herself, was the fact that no one would ever love her.

‘Who would be so dumb to try to love me? Who would admire me? Who would look at me and not see…’

Amethyst eyed her distorted reflection over a dirty puddle. She barely could see her tear-drenched eyes and quivering lips.

‘…How much of a fuck up I am?’

Across the galaxies, a green Gem thought exactly the same thing about herself. Another Gem that felt so unloved and worthless for not being capable of being perfect. Another Gem that secretly wondered why she was even made if she only managed to disappoint others.

Someone else unwanted in a universe full of perfect beings.

 

---

 

Steven didn’t feel any different towards Lapis. Sure, his aunt hurt Pearl, - his mother - in a horrible way, to the point that he could not help but want to take her pain away by any means necessary…. But he also knew that Lapis had her own reasons for behaving like that.

Vox told him that she was a tortured soul. Someone blameless who paid the price for being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. She suffered so much, and to him, no one, not even Pearl had the right to judge her for wanting to protect herself from further mental pain.

However, no matter how much he sympathized with his aunt’s situation, he also could not help himself but feeling like she lost some of the appeal that she had in his eyes. To him, she once was invincible, brave, strong and fearless. Now…

Now she was only… Imperfect.

‘It is funny if we think about it. Like, for all her talk, she was flawed as anyone else. Maybe flawed as me… Maybe more than me.’

From the back of his mind, Vox ever-soothing voice echoed. ‘Oh Starlight… You're wise beyond your words… Let me tell you a secret… The bravest being isn't the one who never fear anything, nor the one who can destroy their enemies with just a passing thought. The ones truly deserving of this title are actually those few individuals who are physically weak, those who are so very afraid, but despite those things, they still fight for what they believe in, they still face their enemies head-on, regardless of what others think. Like that old human story of David and Goliath. Someone as weak as an insect defeating someone strong as a giant, against all odds.’

Yes. Steven agreed. Lapis was powerful, perhaps the strongest Gem, but Pearl was even stronger than her for not backing down like she did, for never giving up in the face of adversity, persistently fighting against all odds. Stronger in the real way.

‘I don’t know when aunt Lapis will return but I know she will. Every time I feel like this, things end the way I usually dream... Just like I did when I dreamed of Pearl and that Shakespeare weird phrase…’

Although he was a little concerned over it for the initial minutes when Pearl came through the front door and told them about her fallout with Lapis, - and the fact that Pearl did dream of something along the same Shakespearean lines that he and Connie had – it was short lived since it did end up being something positive.

In other words, it didn't matter how or why, as long he got the results that he wanted.

‘Oh Starlight… You don’t even need to concern yourself over this. Everything will be… Okay in the end. With my guidance, you will get all that you wish for. So, don’t worry about anything.’

Steven could not help himself but be utterly relieved by Vox's words, especially after what Garnet tried to imply regarding the possibility of Connie leaving him for whatever reason.

Connie would never leave him.

Vox was right.

She will stay with him forever.

And ever.

And ever.

And if the last message she sent to his cellphone was anything to go by, the feeling was mutual. She had said in bold words: ‘Never leave me, please! I don't know if I could handle being alone again.’

So, he answered her: ‘Don’t worry Connie. No one will get in our way. I won’t allow it. We are best friends after all. I won’t let anyone or anything hurt you.’

To say they were both pleased with each other’s words was an understatement.

They won’t do the same mistake that Lapis did with Pearl.

 

---

 

Pearl thought that this old pain was almost like a familiar friend by now. It was the only thing that truly never would abandon her, no matter what life threw in her way. Everyone else always would try to use her for their benefit, even if they hid their intentions behind caring words and actions.

Because whenever push came to shove, when she really needed someone to keep their empty words and promises to her, they always will find an excuse to not doing their part.

Like Lapis, who at the smallest signal of the Diamonds, flew away, leaving her to deal with everything all by herself.

Exactly like Rose.

‘No. Rose at least did things for her own benefit in more ambiguous ways, and she would never leave the Crystal Gems to face Homeworld’s troops all by themselves, even if she didn’t care for me. At least it wasn’t a complete hollow promise. Funny, Lapis used to beg me to never leave her side, and look at us now… She was the one who ended up abandoning me.’

And the most amusing part of all of this was the fact that even after being thrown away, if Lapis was here, and said she was sorry, Pearl would forgive her.

That’s is how pitiful this entire situation is right now.

‘I believe that I will be able to do something by tomorrow. Tonight, I will keep wallowing in my sorrow, in broken promises, in broken friendships and all the pain that it entails… Tomorrow… Tomorrow I will stop acting like that and I will harness this pain into something actually useful.’

Pearl stared at her hands and clenched her fists.

‘Like ways to shatter anyone who threatens my freedom. By any means necessary.’

Not that Pearl would tell any of this to the Crystal Gems.

She was staying in their temple for the moment, but she will return to the Lunar Sea Spire and finish decoding the last remaining fragments she had over there. She will use what she learned as a tactical advantage and she will train. Perhaps she could even convince the Crystal Gems to help her without their knowledge.

As long she could reach the most favorable outcome for her own self.

‘Especially after Amethyst reminded me how much toxicity the Crystal Gems represents to my own mind, and I cannot really trust myself to not emotionally harming Steven as I am right now. So, it might be best to keep my distance from him. For both of our sakes, at least until this matter has been properly settled.’

Yes. She wouldn’t allow herself to put her son in harm’s way just because Amethyst was disrespectful.

She sighed, hugging one leg and letting the other dangle over the waterfall of the room’s impossible metaphysical properties.

And suddenly, an idea dawned over her head.

Bismuth Forge.

If she could have access to it… She would have the upper hand over possible battles.

With a nod to no one in particular, Pearl stood up and left the room in a hurry, using the warp pad to teleport to the exact location of her late friend’s workshop without anyone noticing.

 

---

 

It has been such a long time since she was here.

Bismuth Forge. Still closed off to the world around it. Like the painful knowledge that her friend was probably reduced to shards of her once beautiful Gem, without anything that she could mourn.

Except this… Even if she could never gain access to it.

Although, since Pearl felt that she had nothing to lose by trying to force her entry, she would not be deterred by a simple lack of an entrance.

She would get inside.

As she summoned her dagger and begun slashing the stone before her, she could not help herself but thinking that her late friend would enjoy seeing her so determined.

‘The only true friend that I ever had and she had to die because life apparently wouldn’t let me have one single Gem caring for my well-being… But I know for a fact that she would agree with me. I need to get inside Bismuth’s workshop and I will get myself something more dangerous to battle those Homeworld’s Gems.’

After a little more than an hour due to the sheer power that her dagger carried in its unnaturally sharp blade, Pearl finally breached part of the rocky structure into a large enough crevice, allowing her passage inside the almost unbreachable entrance.

‘The only reason I got this far was probably due to Bismuth’s dagger. Wherever your spirit is, Bismuth, I thank you.’ Pearl thought as she used her Gem to light the dark room. ‘Hm… Since I have forced my entry, apparently the forge didn’t activate properly. I need to manually start it by myself if I intended to learn something around here.’

 

---

 

Pearl remembered a very old memory back when her friend was alive and they both sneaked away from the Crystal Gem’s former base of operations so they could spend some time in this place; without anyone else seeing them.

“B-Bismuth, are you sure this is ok? Rose might get angry…” Pearl asked shyly as they both entered the mighty forge.

Bismuth chuckled in her playful, nonchalantly way. “She won't if she doesn't find out. I am not telling her anything unless you want me to?”

Startled, Pearl shook her head negatively. “No! I-I mean… Let’s keep this between us.”

“Sure thing, doll." Bismuth said as she opened her arms, gesturing to the various sets of weapons and armors around her. "Now, I know you're beautiful and delicate, but it would make me so happy if you would help me around here. Like, there are so many dangerous weapons that would look so sexy being held by those pretty hands of yours.”

Blushing, Pearl picked up a particularly beautifully crafted two-handed ax from the wall. “Uh… Ok… Like this?”

“Holy shear, Pearl. If you keep raising this ax in such a threatening manner like that, I might just crack my Gem in bliss.” Bismuth flirted, eyeing the pale Gem who turned into a deeper shade of blue at her words. "That would be a good way to go, just saying.”

“…You’re so weird, Bismuth.” Pearl shook her head, putting the ax back where it once was but gave her friend a charming smile.

“And you absolutely love me for it.” Bismuth approached the pink-haired Gem and placed her hand over the smaller Gem’s shoulder. “Now come on, you can always start things up by pushing that rock over there. In fact, I much rather watch you do it.”

Raising an eyebrow, Pearl asked. “Why?”

“Because it’s hot.” The Gray Gem laughed.

“Uh, this is a volcano Bismuth, of course is hot, but maybe you want to do that since you’re the one impervious to lava…” Pearl remarked.

“Nah, I said that because this is how you make me feel when you are your own true self rather than what Rose wants you to be.” Said Bismuth with a playful wink.

“…” The pale Gem was silent, looking down, suddenly frowning, which prompted her friend to say other things to not let their mood sour.

“Now, if you ever want to improve anything that I made here, you can coat them into the contents of those barrels, but I left you some notes and other things for you in that chest in the corner, in case you want to try your own hand at this whole smiting process, or need some advanced guides.” Bismuth pointed to a pearl made chest tucked between two shields.

“Thanks, Bismuth, but I much rather have you making any of my future weapons since they always end up being perfect.” Pearl said as she grabbed the Gray Gem’s hands and squeezed them.

“Says the prettiest Pearl in the whole Galaxy. Keep spinning that gentleness of yours and every single Gem will fall for you, you know.” Pearl felt her friend squeezing her hands back.

“If only that was the truth, Bismuth… If only…” Both Gems stared into each other’s eyes for a moment before they backed away, or they knew they wouldn’t be able to keep their friendship as it was.

If Bismuth made a direct move on her, Pearl knew that their friendship would be over. She knew that Rose would not forgive any of them. She knew that the unnatural commands implanted into her heart to love her Diamond above all else would take precedence regardless of anything.

No matter how sincere Bismuth’s love was.

 

 ---

 

Pearl shook her head to clear her mind from those past memories. Bismuth was dead, she no longer could waste time thinking about over things that would never come to pass.

‘And its better like this.’ The pale Gem bitterly thought as she approached a very dusty pearl chest, the one that once was so white that could probably reflect the sunlight, but now was covered in fumes. ‘If Bismuth is dead and my gentle memories of her are all that I have, then she will never use me like Rose did, she will never hurt me like Garnet and Amethyst did, and she will never throw me away like Lapis did.’

Pearl opened the chest, eyeing a small device floating in a glass-like structure. ‘I can keep pretending that someone actually never chose to leave me.'

Grabbing the glass-like structure and gently taking the device from its interior, Pearl activated it. A hologram appeared with Bismuth's smiling face, with a menu of sorts.

“Hey Doll! Or at least I assume it is you since otherwise would be so awkward! *AHEM* Anyways, since you probably used this to get an insight over what you need to do in my workshop, I left some written notes for you in those menus. I hope it can be something else for you to try your hand on since I'm still dazzled with what you did to that communicator hub last time! Those Nephrites never knew what was coming! Anyways, I digress! Just tap those options in the Holoscreen, read all about it and get the work going!”

Pearl chuckled and started to read what she could.

 

---

 

It took more hours and a few tries with a couple of simple weapons around her, but she finally got what she wanted.

Apparently, there was a sword that Bismuth once intended to give to Rose Quartz as a gift, one that would allow her to shatter Gems, much like her daggers. However, this weapon had been discarded between the making process, leaving a half-made sword, lacking many of its features. So, after finding this discarded weapon, Pearl tried to repurpose it by using what remained of it into making another similar sword.

She knew that she wasn’t like Bismuth. She wasn’t skilled enough to make a wonderful weapon like her friend could, but maybe she could try to make a close enough replica and use her dagger as a hidden weapon.

In other words, by using the long sword as a decoy for her real weapon, - for her Black Dagger - this allowed her to have the upper hand if she ever needed to catch her enemies off guard.

‘Not to mention… This sword is looking pretty deadly if I do say myself.' Pearl smirked as she eyed her handiwork. ‘Although, I highly doubt that I would get such promising results without Bismuth’s previous attempt, so it's more like a combined effort than a personal achievement.’

She also took the time to coat her Black Dagger and another assortment of weapons in thick diamond’s dust before letting them into her Gem.

The weapon’s resistance either increased or would allow them to maintain their quality, at least. Now, the only thing to do was to explore the hidden door that Bismuth instructed about in the notes.

Taking a deep breath, Pearl entered the inner part of the forge, the true workshop of her dear lost friend.

 

---

 

Steven was getting a little worried.

His mother had disappeared for an entire week, Amethyst blamed herself and Garnet was getting increasingly stressed over everything happening around her.

Thankfully, he had Connie and his dad to run to in situations like that.

“Don’t worry, kiddo.’ Greg said with a reassuring smile, always the optimist. “Nobody is strong as Pearl. She will get back. I believe in her, and honestly, I think you should too.”

“Yeah, Steven. Pearl will be back before you know it.” Connie said.

A few seconds later, the van’s door opened and Pearl appeared. “Don’t fret, I’ve returned.”

“Mom!” Steven approached the pale Gem and gave her a quick hug, not wanting to come off as clingy. "I was worried. You have been gone for a week, so I was starting to panic out here."

“Well, that’s no longer an issue. Look what I found.” Pearl gave him her usual pat over his head and showed him her new sword. “I’ll be using this from now on.”

“WOW!” Connie and Steven shouted in awe, their eyes shining almost like stars.

Scratching his now short beard, Greg awkwardly asked. “Uh, will this really be necessary? I mean… Homeworld still isn’t here, right?”

Pearl gave her friend a pointed look. “Although they aren’t here at the present moment, they will come, and they will want to fight us, Greg. I merely sook a way to properly defend myself.”

Greg seemed to want to say something regarding that statement, but after a sharp look from both Connie and Steven, he thought better than to voice his thoughts, saying something else instead. “You know, you two kids are so very synchronized with each other, its refreshing to an old dude like myself.”

“Thanks, Mr. Universe.” Connie politely quipped. “As each other best friend, we both get along just fine.”

Pearl let her gaze wander through the two teenagers and felt a pang of sadness inside her immaterial heart. When she was with Lapis-

The pale Gem shook her head and backed away from the trio. “I will be training at the Sky Arena. I am not to be disturbed in any circumstance. Do you understand?”

"Oh, ok Mom!" Steven answered, shrugging his shoulders. "I know you need space right now. It isn't easy for you, but when you feel like it, I will always be here to talk."

“Thank you, Steven. You are kind.” Pearl whispered, walking away from them.

As she disappeared from their sights, Greg turned to his son. “I still cannot believe that Lapis left her. I mean, she was obviously in love with her, so I figured that if she ever left, it would be because Pearl asked her to rather than… All of this.”

“I know. It is so surreal! I keep expecting to see her showing up shouting ‘April’s fool's or something. If only…” Steven combed his hair back with his hands, earning Connie’s curious gaze. “But I have the feeling that something will happen very soon. Still, it won't do us any good to keep thinking about all of this without doing something for ourselves.”

“What do you mean, Steven?” Connie asked as she poked his side. “I’m open to suggestions.”

"How about the three of us take Pearl for a stroll around the town, next week? That might cheer her up!" As if he was suddenly struck by an amazing afterthought, the dark-haired teenager turned to Connie. "Know what would be the cherry on the cake? If you brought you Camera, Connie! It will be so much fun!"

The dark-skinned teen giggled. “That’s a wonderful idea! And I can bring my violin!”

“Yeah! The four of us can play some songs together! Like a jam session! Maybe we can even make a demo record tape, or whatever!” Steven flashed a smile to his father. “Are you up for it, dad?”

“Ah, when you put it like that, how can I even refuse, Schtu-ball?” Greg laughed. “Then let’s make a surprise for her next weekend. She will really be amazed.”

With that, the trio started to brainstorm future plans for cheering up the pale Gem.

 

---

 

Nowhere, inside the empty creases of the dark, cold space, a solitary Blue Gem forced herself to fly farther away from the only one who ever cared for her. Her mind screamed at her, tearing herself down for what she was doing, and the tears that quickly fell from her eyes crystalized into ice due to the abysmally cold temperature around her.

But even so, she kept flying away, leaving for another galaxy.

 

---

 

Pearl eyed the thousand copy of herself that she just had defeated.

‘I’m getting better with this weapon. The balance is quite appropriate, and the blade isn’t prone to fail under duress.’

Then, the pale Gem briefly wondered how long it was since she left to this place.

‘Perhaps I should go back to the Crystal Temple if only to use their facilities since I sincerely am dying for a proper bath. I miss having water all around me.'

With that in mind, Pearl kept her new sword inside her Gem for further use and walked to the Warp Pad.

When she arrived at the house, she was tackled to the Warp Pad surface as soon as she arrived by her overeager son. Sighing and feeling a little perplexed over the fact that he somehow knew when she would appear in his house (or was standing here just waiting for her return), Pearl sarcastically said. “Oh my. What could I possibly have done to deserve such attention? Now release me at once, Steven.”

“In a moment, mom!” Steven said brightly and Pearl could not help herself but give a smile to the teenager. “I want to take a picture with you, Garnet and Amethyst! We can all summon our weapons so we look cool and stuff!”

After hearing what Steven just said, Pearl noticed a cautious Garnet, - who was giving her an awkward small smile – Connie holding a professional digital camera, - much like the one Pearl carried inside her Gem - and a sad looking Amethyst sitting over the kitchen’s counter.

‘Let’s get this over with. For my own sanity’s sake, at least.’ Pearl thought as she gently pushed her son away from her, standing up and walking towards the purple Gem.

Amethyst flinched when she approached, closing her eyes as if she was expecting to be hurt by the taller Gem, which made Pearl’s heart fill with sadness. “Amethyst, stop that. I’m not going to attack you. In fact, I want to apologize for what I have done.”

“Huh?” The purple Gem was shocked when she saw the pale Gem kneeling before her, exposing her neck, in a gesture that reeked of submission.

It baffled her, and she felt so much worse by seeing that her friend was putting herself through something as humiliating as that for her sake.

Amethyst jumped from the counter and immediately hugged the pale Gem with trembling hands and tearful eyes. “Y-You idiot! Stop doing that! I was the one being a fucked-up piece of shit towards you! If someone should ask for forgiveness, it should be me!”

Slowly, Pearl caressed Amethyst’s hair in a soothing, gentle motion. After a few moments, the pink-haired Gem emitted one of her very feminine chuckles. “Language.”

“Oh, screw you, P!” Amethyst backed away so she could give the taller Gem push on her shoulder. “But really, I’m sorry. I was horrible to you. I always manage to be like that. I don’t have any excuse for what I have done. Please teach me to be better, I don’t want to lose our friendship.”

Pearl expression was neutral for a couple of seconds before changing into a gentle, welcoming one. “Don’t worry about it. I forgive you… As long as you take this opportunity to learn with your mistakes.”

Then, before anyone could predict, the pale Gem kissed the corner of the shorter Gem’s lips, earning a gasp from Amethyst and the confused gaze from everyone else.

Backing away from the shocked and apparently pleased Gem before her, Pearl discreetly sang-whispered in her ears. “Make me walk, make me talk, do whatever you please; I can act like a star; I can beg on my knees…”

Giving her a wink, she raised from the floor and offered her hand to the purple Gem. “Shall we go, Amethyst? We have a photoshoot to partake in, don’t you agree?”

Stuttering and being at a loss of words, the shorter Gem eagerly nodded. "Y-Yeah! Let's do it P!"

Pearl could see that Garnet was curious over their exchange, and probably would want to have words with her after they were done with Steven’s antics, but was apparently letting the matter slide for the moment.

‘Good.’

As the Crystal Gems and the Shatter Star settle themselves in front of the Warp Pad, Steven shouted. “Everyone strikes a pose, or at least try to look awesome!"

“I’m already awesome.” Garnet proudly declared, giving him a small smile. “But I will summon one glove. That way, it will contrast well in the photo.”

“Yeah! You got the right idea, G!” Amethyst summoned her whip and kept skipping from one foot to the other. “My pose will be like that! Try to keep up with my smooth moves, Connie!”

Nodding, Connie smirked at the purple Gem. “Sure thing, Amethyst!”

“Hm, I will summon my shield like this-!” Steven said as he called forth his weapon. “and make a victory sign with my other hand. What you think about it, Connie? Am I cool?”

“You’re the best, Steven.” Connie timidly answered him, her cheeks blushing. “Just be you and I will be happy.”

Steven laughed, but also sport a blush, albeit a little more subdued in comparison to his best friend.  

‘Honestly, this is just a waste of time.’ Pearl bitterly thought. ‘But it will be in my best interest to maintain good relations with the Crystal Gems, especially if it will put a smile in my son’s face, even if I won’t be spending much time around him. I need to keep my objectives clear in case the worst comes to happen, and I need to keep training.’

Pearl eyed the purple Gem.

‘Yes. Including my plan B, in case things don’t go as smoothly as the Crystal Gems might expect.’

With that in her mind, Pearl merely let her fingers caress the hair resting over her right shoulder, giving a small smile to the dark-skinned teenager with the camera. “I will just comb my hair with my fingers and throw some meshes over my shoulder, like the beautiful Gem that I am, while I can summon and hold my sword with the other hand.”

“Wow, like an anime hime-trend. Good call, Ma’am!” Connie said as she gave the pale Gem a thumbs up. “Now, everyone has to get into your chosen positions and I will shoot. One, two and three!”

The camera emitted its flash and everyone proceed to take a peek at the result.

While they were distracted with this, Pearl let her gaze wanders to the distance, staring at the sea.

‘I need to keep my seduction as an option. I might need to use it someday and I hope I am sharp enough to fool the Homeworld Gem’s into believing me. I will do everything to protect the freedom that I have conquered. No matter what.’

With that in mind, Pearl once again downed her chosen mask. As long Homeworld remained a threat, and as long she felt so miserable, this painful mask would be part of her own self.

 

Chapter Text

 

After being dragged by her overeager son across the entire human town, - and submitted to an onslaught of unnecessary conversations accompanied by gawking from the humans from said town – Pearl had returned to the Crystal Temple.

‘Thank the sky that Steven, Greg, and Connie didn't accompany me back. After what happened with those humans, I really couldn't take any more of that ‘city tour’ they were using to ‘cheer me up’ or whatever was their objective.’ The pale Gem sighed. ‘Now, I can relax…’

“AHEM!” The sound of someone clearing their throat was heard.

Pearl turned her attention to the kitchen’s counter, where Amethyst sat.

‘Oh… Well, that’s a relief. She probably wants to talk about what happened early. Impressive, I expected her to restrain herself until after Garnet tried to talk to me. Well done, my friend.’ The pink-haired Gem smiled at the shorter Gem, who blushed when she approached. ‘We do need to talk without anyone else around, I think. Just to make a few things clear.’

"Have I made you wait for long, my dear?" Pearl asked as she let the tips of her fingers caress the purple Gem's cheek, earning her a deeper blush. "Ah, had I known about it, I would have returned sooner."

Amethyst gripped the counter and took a deep breath. “Hey, Pearl… Can we talk? In my room? Just the two of us?”

Pearl’s fingers moved to the shorter Gem’s neck, scratching and gently massaging her. The purple Gem sighed, closing her eyes in bliss.

"Of course, Amethyst. Lead the way." And then, Pearl immediately stops touching her friend, as if she never did in the first place.

Amethyst blinked slowly for a few moments, - apparently a little off-put by the sudden loss of contact with her friend - before shaking her head and jumping away from the counter she was previously sitting. “O-Ok.”

The pale Gem waited for her friend to open her room's door, a small smile still plastered on her face.

As they entered the garbage-filled room, Pearl could not help herself but rolled her eyes in annoyance. Apparently, her friend had worsened her habit of hoarding absolutely anything from a junkyard. She was surprised it didn't smell like one, so maybe it was a decent evolution in comparison to the last time she was here.

“I tried to clean a bit before you came back…” The purple Gem unexpected shy voice interrupted her thoughts. “Uh, actually, I used some air-freshener, put those cushions and that mattress I found around this part of the room, so we could sit over a cleaner place, or something…”

Pearl could argue that the cushions still looked like they had come straight from a garbage bin, that the mattress was old-looking at best and that the room’s smell was stuffy, but she refrained to do so over the shorter Gem’s effort to please her. Considering who Amethyst was and how she normally behaved, this was the best she could get.

And the fact that her old friend tried so hard to impress her was admirable.

“Don’t worry about it, Amethyst.” The pale Gem waved off her friend’s concerns, opting to cross her legs elegantly, smirking knowingly. “Now… What could you possibly want with me, all alone in your room? I am ever so curious!”

Amethyst took a deep breath and said her piece. “Why have you kissed me?”

Pearl raised an eyebrow. "I haven't done such a thing."

"Uh, yes you did!" The shorter Gem shook her arms nervously. "And said those weird cryptic words about doing whatever I wanted or something. What was all that about?"

Pearl took a seat over one of the many cushions, dusting its surface before sitting over it. She turned her attention back to her friend. “Oh, that!”

Amethyst gulped, obviously nervous. “Yeah, so?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” The pale Gem placed both of her hands over the cushion and inclined back slightly, tilting her head with a smile.

“Yes, so tell me!”

Then, as fast as she smiled at Amethyst, her smirking expression vanished and turned neutral, devoid of any emotion. “Because that’s what you wanted of me.”

The purple Gem frowned, confused. “I don’t understand…”

Pearl sensually crawled towards the shorter Gem. When she reached her, she placed both of her hands over her friend’s knees. “Don’t act so innocently, Amethyst. You know why we’re both here in your room.”

“I… I…” Amethyst swallowed and her entire body seemed to flush under the taller Gem’s attention. “I just wanted to talk about-”

“That’s not the truth and you know it.” Pearl interrupted her, a scowl in her face. “How can I be honest with you when you aren’t with me?”

Then, Amethyst stared at her friend. She let her slight sweaty hands cover the pale Gem’s hands over her knees. “All right… Let’s be real with each other, P.”

Both Gem’s entwined their hands, their gazes softening.

“I’m really, really attracted to you, Pearl.” Amethyst admitted. “I think I always was, but you also get on my nerves with that stuck up attitude!”

The pale Gem remained quiet. Waiting.

“You also only had eyes for Rose, and anyone else just wasn’t good enough for you!”

To Amethyst surprise, Pearl looked away. “And that’s where you are mistaken.”

“Uh… I mean before you freed L-”

“I’m not talking about her.” Even though her voice remained the same, there was clearly a hidden, painful inflection hovering her words. “But you wouldn’t understand and I’m not in the mood to elaborate. Suffice to say that there was someone else who was precious to me… But I could not act on it.”

Even though Amethyst seemed perplexed with her answer, she also seemed satisfied with it. “Got it…”

“Now that you have given me an honest answer, I will do the same for you.” Pearl pressed her brow against the purple Gem’s. “I never had any kind of romantic feelings for you.”

Amethyst lowered her head, her expression turning sad.

Until she felt the softest touch of Pearl’s hands tilting her head to look at her. “But this doesn’t mean that I don’t care for you.”

Pearl kissed the side of Amethyst’s lips. “You asked me why I have said what I said and why I kissed you.”

The pale Gem smiled. In her mind it was obvious.

“I said those words because I don’t mind ‘getting dirty’ with you, as you usually say, and it doesn’t have to mean anything at all. However, I kissed the side of your mouth for a different reason. Do you want to know why?” Pearl tilted her head, waiting for an answer. When Amethyst slowly nodded. “I didn’t properly kiss you on the mouth since I don’t have feelings for you. I also wanted to keep a distance, to make a clear difference between a physical relationship and a romantic one. What I had proposed to you was just sex, and that’s all.”

“Pearl…” Amethyst trailed off, suddenly feeling inadequate. “Are you really ok with that?”

The pink-haired Gem gave a bitter laugh. “Please, Amethyst. I’m ‘just a Pearl’. I know you don’t have much knowledge over how things work in Homeworld, but Gems like me commonly are used for sex by their owners. Every single Pearl in existence knows how to physically please a Gem…”

And in the back of Pearl’s mind, she could not help the passing thought. ‘And I know better than most of them combined. I was, after all, made by White Diamond as a gift for Pink Diamond’s needs. Obviously, she would make me act on her wishes, at least as a way to apologize for destroying her previous Pearl.’

“So…” Pearl cheerfully smiled at her friend. “Are we going to test your mattress or I can go back to my room?”

The purple Gem eyed the mattress and her friend several times, clearly conflicted.

Until she finally made a decision and pushed the pale Gem away. “I… I think… I guess… Uh… I don’t know…”

“Hey, don’t worry about it.” Pearl ruffled Amethyst hair just like she used to, in a long almost forgotten past, which made the shorter Gem close her eyes happily. “I’m glad we were honest with each other. That’s all that I wanted.”

With that, the pale Gem stood up and walked away from the still dazzled purple Gem.

‘Things ended as I expected. Although, if Amethyst had taken my offer, I wouldn’t complain about it.’ She smiled to herself as she left the room. ‘Now… I believe that Garnet needs to lecture me…’

Her smile turned to a smirk.

‘I think I will enjoy this.’

 

---

 

“There you are, Garnet.” The pink-haired Gem declared as she entered the boiling room, glancing quickly at the bubbled Gems over her head. “I had a feeling that you wanted to see me?”

The fusion, who was sitting inside the lava pool in the middle of the room turned her head slightly at her, frowning. Then, she left the pool and willed its remains off her body, just to make sure she wouldn't accidentally harm the much fragile Gem before her.

“Very perceptive of you, Pearl.” The fusion removed her visor and let her three eyes glare at the pale Gem. “Now, since you managed to infer that I wanted to have this conversation, then you also must know the reason why we needed to talk on the first place.”

Pearl crossed her arms. “You wanted to know why I kissed Amethyst close to her lips after almost dangerously harming her.”

"Your actions make no sense, except if you intended to somehow use them as leverage to emotionally harm her." The fusion' judgment was evident in each harsh word she emitted. "I'm warning you right now: Stop messing with her. She was wrong to disrespect your grieving, but that doesn't give you the right to play with her own insecurities."

“Really Garnet. I expected better from you.” The pale Gem scoffed, her face showcasing how offended she was by the accusation. “What makes you think that I would sink so low?”

The fusion clenched her fists and her eyes darted away. “…”

Pearl sighed and walked towards her friend until she was standing an arm away from her. “Let me guess… You are frustrated, worried for the future and the terrible implications that it might carry for our lives as free Gems...”

Then, the pink-haired Gem skipped a step, raising an eyebrow and scoffing at the taller Gem's silence. "And you either can't see how things will turn out for us or they are all so depressing that you are acting on a perceived sense of self-defense over anyone and anything that you judge part of your responsibility."

Garnet was pretty hard to read, even without her visor, but there was a subtle shift from her eyes, and Pearl quickly noticed how she had bitten her lips.

Being right over this matter didn’t please the pale Gem in the slightest. It never bodes well to witness her friend being so conflicted.

“…Perfect as always, Pearl.” Garnet lowered her head and stared at her friend. “I’m on edge, as you can see. Excuse my behavior.”

“Stop that.” Pearl grabbed the fusion’s hands, clutching them firmly to get the taller Gem’s attention. “I’m never going to blame you for acting like a leader.”

However, Garnet still seemed distressed. "Even so, I'm just so worried about things in general. When you did… That thing with Amethyst, a Gem that you never had any attraction, to begin with, it sounded so suspicious. I felt that I had to talk to you about it if only to avoid having you both fighting again…"

Garnet bitterly laughed. “Stars, now that I’m saying this out loud, it sounds so ridiculous…”

“I’m not judging you.” Then, Pearl looked away. “Even though you and Amethyst always considered me dramatic and obsessive when I was the one complaining.”

The fusion flinched at the snark sudden given to her. “I’m sorry, I-”

“And there’s nothing you can do to make up for that, so stop trying.” Pearl released the fusion’s hands and cradled the taller Gem’s face. “This isn’t what all of this is about.”

Garnet gazed at her friend determined expression, feeling that old regret that pushed Pearl away from them. “Then, what is?”

“I will tell you exactly what I told Amethyst: that if she wanted to have sex, I would have no qualms against it, but I’m really not interested in romance.” Garnet eyes comically grew big at the pale Gem’s words, and before she could voice her question, Pearl decided to answer her bluntly. “And no, that doesn’t have anything to do with Lapis.”

The fusion nodded. “I see. Then I assume Amethyst took you on your offer?”

“Not really. She seemed too overwhelmed by it, at least for now.” Pearl said as she caressed the fusion’s cheeks. “Also, just to make things clear, I’m also extending you the same offer.”

Predictably, Garnet jerked away from the pale Gem. “You know that I-”

"Yes, yes. I'm aware, you don't need to explain to me." Pearl said as she made a placating gesture with her hands. "However, since I made this offer to Amethyst, I thought it would be fair to do the same to you. I'm not looking forward to making any of you uncomfortable, including Sapphire and Ruby… So, don't worry about it. In fact, I was already expecting you, and I mean all of you - to refuse.”

Garnet sighed in clear relief. "I see… Thanks for the offer, anyway. Even if neither I, Ruby nor Sapphire are interested, I admit that it is flattering. You are, after all, a beautiful Gem."

Pearl winked. “You know it.”

They both stood awkwardly for a moment before the fusion asked. “But… Why would you do that at all? Why the sudden interest?”

“Why not?” Pearl shrugged. “I mean, everyone has their ways to cope with pain, isn’t that right? Also, I have my own reasons.”

The fusion nodded. “I understand. Thanks for being honest. I hope your pain subsides with time.”

“That I don’t know, Garnet, but I appreciate your wishes.” The pink-haired Gem pivoted in place and walked away. “Now, if you excuse me, I will be in my room.”

The pale Gem remained in silence until she reached her old room. She stood over the watery surface platform, one of many that was scattered across the room. Then, as gentle as possible, she started to dance a song that only her mind could concoct.

‘I'm glad Garnet will at least give me some space. Not that I expected her to accept my offer of sex, but I wasn't looking forward to having useless discussions with her nor Amethyst about whatever will happen in our future. Now Garnet and Amethyst won't have any reason to bother me while I plan my future actions against any invading Homeworld Gems. They will leave me be if only to avoid awkward conversations.'

In the back of the pale Gem’s mind, a bothersome thought made itself present.

‘I need to go to the Lunar Sea Spire to finish decoding those files that I found, and I have to return to the Galaxy Warp… If only to assess if a monitoring unit is necessary for that structure.'

Knowing she would need to return to that place, Pearl could not help but feel an onslaught of pain filling her immaterial heart.

‘As painful as this all is, I won’t let her break me.’

 

---

 

The Galaxy Warp was devoid of any activity since that horrible night. Not that she wanted to change this fact, but the awful memories still plagued her thoughts. Aside from a thick, almost insurmountable fog covering the entire area and the ocean around them for miles, nothing seemed out of place.

She shook her head and finished placing the small camera-like devices in different points of the structure.

‘Lapis probably has already left this galaxy…’ Pearl bitterly thought as she eyed the remains of the Homeworld Warp Pad that she had previously destroyed. ‘I have to move on. She left. Stop thinking about her.’

Yet, she couldn’t.

Pearl wasn’t able to close her eyes without being hit by endless waves of memories of the Blue Gem. It was impossible to not be overwhelmed by all of her repressed emotions regarding her ex-best friend.

Her smile.

Her eyes.

Her closeness.

Her voice.

And worse of all: Her broken promises.

‘I should have known…’ The pink-haired Gem gritted her teethes in anger. ‘She never was subtle around me. I should have known that she would betray me.’

It was humiliating. She should have known better than trust anyone like that. Not after everything she had gone through. Not after-

A sudden, ear-piercing sound interrupted her thoughts and drew her attention to the sky.

‘Something is coming!’ She immediately ran towards a tall, half-broken pillar, larger enough for her to hide safely behind. She jumped and punched her fingers against its surface, making a hole where she could grab without falling into the sea. ‘And from the look of it, it must be-”

The clouds parted and a small, red ship appeared in the sky.

‘Homeworld.’

The ship lighted part of the Galaxy Warp floor for a brief moment, probably assessing a place where it could land safely. After a few seconds, it landed slowly, and from its interior, a couple of Gems appeared.

With one hand still gripping the pillar, she let her other pick the small computer that controlled the different devices across this place. With a flick of her thumb, she activates the camera's small monitor so she could identify which Gems were present in the area.

The monitor took a few seconds to adjust, but soon enough, she could see at least three Rubies.

‘Hm… Foot soldiers. Nothing to worry about.’

Then, after a beat, another Gem, - this one far more dangerous - appeared.

‘Oh no…’ Pearl mentally groaned. ‘A Cadmium Gem…’

Cadmium Gems were dangerous scouts. Not only they could easily kill many organics with their poisonous claws, - if they were inclined to – but also were experts in hiding and killing silently.

Like the Ninjas the humans were so fascinated with, so to speak.

‘If Homeworld had sent one of them to Earth, it meant that they were gathering intelligence around the area. Probably after the confrontation that the Crystal Gems made with that Peridot, they decided to be cautious. They are probably trying to see if any old Gem construction still remained intact.'

Pearl could only hope that they had just arrived on Earth and still weren’t able to go to other Gem places.

The Cadmium cautiously eyed the Galaxy Warp, probably deciding if the place was compromised.

The pale Gem didn’t move, afraid that doing so would reveal her presence.

Then, the Cadmium raised her hand and pressed a finger at the side of her head. “Lieutenant Corundum, this is Cadmium. The landing area is secure. You may proceed whenever you want.”

‘Hm… Corundum… Is she some kind of Topaz…? Or a different Gem? Ah, who cares, she certainly looks as strong as a Topaz, so she must be hard to fight against.’

From the ship's interior, a large and tall Gem appeared, crossing the distance between herself and her scout in quick, decisive steps. "Hm… This backwater planet and its ever-changing atmosphere still disgust me after all this time."

Then, as an afterthought, she turned her attention to Cadmium. "You may begin your scan. We have to make sure that the Citrine traitor hasn't left her prison and that the Peridot wasn't mistaken in her assessment regarding the presence of Gems on this planet. It wouldn't be the first instance that a lower-class Gem like her wasted our time with false alarms. The gal of that pebble, demanding us to send in the famous Jasper to deal with her hysterics."

Cadmium kept her silence, composed, taciturn, indifferent and expressionless as they all seemed to be. Then, she pivoted in place, walking a few steps before crouching, apparently interested in analyzing the floor’s pattern.

The ship resumed its flying pattern and seemed to be checking the sea for any unusual activity.

‘This is troublesome.’ Pearl cursed in her mind. ‘The Rubies are easy to deal with, but the Cadmium and Corundum are a completely different issue. They can shatter me if I'm not careful.'

Then, an idea crossed Pearl’s mind. ‘Unless… I use one of those things I had found!’

Pearl smirked. This situation just might turn around in her favor…

As she planned her further moves, she observed one of the Rubies gawking all around the place.

‘Huh… That one must have had too many blows in her Gem and never properly healed, but I have to consider that all Rubies are dumb, so she might just be that stupid.'

And as circumstances would have, the lack of further actions managed to irritate Corundum's sensibilities. The higher-ranking officer grabbed the very smaller Gem in comparison and shook her violently. "Listen to me, your little speck of nothing! If you are done wasting time being useless while the other foot soldiers are checking this area, you can return to the ship and make sure it is properly secure. I do not need a repeat of the last time!"

“What has happened last ti-”

The violent sound of a backhanded slap echoed across the area, the force of the impact making the Ruby fly in an arch and almost fall off the Galaxy Warp area.

Pearl had to admit that even she winced when she noticed how hurt the Ruby was.

‘If she managed to harm her Gem with only a simple slap... Imagine if she fought seriously? Well, lucky for me, I no longer need to worry about it.’

The harmed Ruby signed desperately to the ship, apparently requesting entrance. After a moment, another Ruby, this one with a Gem in her chest and what seemed to be some kind of suspenders appeared. With a sigh, she carried the other Ruby inside the ship, shaking her head.

‘Now, there's only two Rubies, the Cadmium, and the Corundum to deal with. I can work in those conditions.'

When the Rubies had entered the ship, Pearl decided that it was the right moment to take action.

Carefully taking the small pyramid-like device from her Gem, Pearl threw it between the two Rubies that were walking around checking the area.

The scream they released was deafening.

Corundum and Cadmium's attention immediately shifted to the two screaming Gems, adopting a fighting stance. Even if they also were affected by the device, the two higher-ranking Gems stood their ground.

Cadmium frowned and her body seemed to shift in thin air, acquiring an almost shadow-like form, apparently in her stalker mode.

Corundum nervously kept glancing all around her, trying to pinpoint where her enemy might be.

‘Irrelevant. I have other matters to attend to.’

Carefully, Pearl summoned her Black Dagger. She approached the two paralyzed Rubies and with a flick of her weapon, destroyed their forms, leaving only their Gems. She moved silently towards the Homeworld’s lieutenant.

"I know you're there, whomever you are!" Corundum's voice seemed calm, but Pearl had been in enough fights to properly know when a Gem wasn't feeling threatened and when she was trying to sound confident. "Face me!"

From behind the corpulent Gem, Pearl whispered. “Fine.”

What happened could be described as a very ironic event.

Most Gems had their ears hidden by their hair or their form didn’t have them in a visible way. This particular Gem had its location in what would be her right ear, and just so happens that its size seemed a little too big to not represent a liability in combat.

In other words, the placement of that Gem in a very exposed area proved to be this so-called high-ranking Gem’s downfall.

The feeling of her dagger puncturing, crushing it to pieces and finally shattering the enemy Gem came as a soothing reminder of its dangerous power. It was fast, brutal and most of all, hidden by the fog around them.

Corundum hadn't time to scream at all. She just died and only the sound of the shards hitting the floor was witness to her arrogance.

However, Pearl's victory was short-lived as her back was immediately slashed from her shoulder to waist.

The pale Gem tried to suppress her shout, but even so, she still grunted in pain. Then, she rolled on the ground, trying to keep her awareness of the unseen enemy around her.

In her experience, Cadmiums Gems never were impulsive. They never did anything without double checking the risks and always preferred the shadows and the silence to unwanted attention.

So, it was a great surprise when one of those quiet Gems started to gloat at her.

“You know… I’m almost thankful that you shattered her. She was… Inconvenient.” Cadmium voice echoed all around the pink-haired Gem. “And you are in luck… The remaining Rubies inside that ship are too stupid to even notice what is happening right now. A sound strategy, one that I almost would admire.”

‘The voice is hard to pinpoint since she is practically whispering all the time, but maybe if I can make her change its inflection…’

An idea formed in Pearl’s mind. She smirked.

“Wow. A Cadmium admiring a Pearl like me? I’m so flattered.” The pale Gem declared as she felt a slight shift on her right. She quickly moved her Black Dagger in its direction.

Seconds later, she happened to block an incoming claw attack from the enemy Gem.

“Hello from the other side, kitten.” Pearl mocked the metallic gray Gem with a smile.

Cadmium, on the other hand, almost seemed surprised with how Pearl expertly blocked her attack. “That was… Unexpected. Especially from a… Pearl.”

Pearl used the Gem’s surprise to her advantage and suddenly pushed her away, making her collide against a pillar. “Aww! I bet you say that to every girl!”

As the gray Gem recomposed herself from the attack, she looked at her in bewilderment. “…What?”

Pearl didn’t give Cadmium a moment to process her words. She bolted towards her and pointed her dagger straight to the Gem in her enemy’s left upper arm.

Cadmium jerked her claw covered right hand to block Pearl's attack, resulting in the amputation of the said hand. The gray Gem showed no sign of pain, she seemed annoyed at her, but that was the extent of her reaction.

“I misjudged your strength…” She said as her remaining hand glowered in a bluish color. “I respect that… impressive...”

“Too bad I can’t say the same about yourself.” Pearl giggled and again, pointed her Black Dagger at her enemy. “Farewell, kitten.”

Pearl launched herself fast against the injured Gem, her Black Dagger ready to strike.

But instead of hitting her enemy, she was violently repealed by a seismic force, as if she was blocked by some kind of barrier.

"I've seen enough, Warrior Pearl of the Earth…" Cadmium said as she calmly regarded the pale Gem on the Galaxy Warp's floor. "It has been… Some time since I've met anyone that I could barely respect. Well done…"

The gray Gem briefly eyed where the Rubies Gems were located and she collected them in her remaining hand. “As a reward… I will endorse that Peridot’s request… Jasper will enjoy fighting you… You are… Unusual.”

“Leaving so soon, kitten?” Pearl sarcastically scoffed at her enemy, grabbing her Black Dagger and quickly standing up. “It will be a pity to not shatter you.”

The gray Gem was standing close to the ship’s entrance. She turned her head slightly to the side, gazing at the pink-haired Gem that battled her. “And so, she spoke, that Gem that I call Entropy... But now that fate beckons your fears, no one will be there to hear.”

Pearl tried to approach Cadmium, but when she reached the ship, it immediately closed itself. She slashed against it, which damaged the ship surface considerably, but even so, the spaceship took off.

Apparently… She failed.

“Just my luck…” Pearl groaned as she returned her Black Dagger to her Gem. “As if I needed anything more to stress me…”

The pink-haired Gem muttered in anger, starting to walk back to the warp pad that took her to this place, intending to return to the Lunar Sea Spire and think about further strategies when she stepped over the Corundum’s remains.

She carefully backed away and stared at the red shards. Only one thing crossed her mind.

And then, she knew she wouldn't hesitate. Especially when there was so much at stake. Not only her own freedom but everyone else as well.

Immediately, the pale Gem crouched and encased the remains in a bubble. She carefully held it while she stepped on the warp pad and teleported to the Lunar Sea Spire.

There wasn’t much time. Homeworld would attack soon, and she and the Crystal Gems should all be ready for it.

However, her contingency plan could work, if she played her cards right.

Nodding to herself, she started her research. Tomorrow she would talk to the Crystal Gems… And then… They would wait.