Chapter 1: First Meetings
Garnet is not jealous. Absolutely not! It's not that at all. She doesn't know what it is but she is very sure it is not jealousy. Because she totally understands the reason Pearl's hanging around Bismuth more than her so it can't be jealousy, right?
Well, maybe it's that Garnet's been nursing a little crush on the renegade pearl since their first proper meeting. But really, who wouldn't? Strong and skilled, graceful and just really cool. Garnet wants to be that cool one day. She isn't very interested in the kissing that Pearl and Rose do but her idle fantasies have concluded that maybe… holding hands with Pearl might be really cool.
Whatever she's feeling right now, she's pretty sure it's not jealousy. It's not like Bismuth is purposely stealing Pearl's attention away just to spite Garnet and Pearl is probably not actually indifferently brushing Garnet off to watch Bismuth lounge and flex in lava for hours. Logically, Garnet knows this. Really!
But it's harder to connect emotions to that, because for the past- almost countless- earth cycles, she's had Pearl's attention to herself. Watching Pearl sword-fighting, talking strategy, wandering around in general admiration of Earth or just chatting together, Garnet had gotten used to being good friends with Pearl.
Rose, of course, always had monopoly over Pearl's attention. Garnet hadn't really minded that aspect of knowing Pearl. It was just kinda a given. Plus, their sword fights (spars? Sword spars?) were always really amazing to watch. Garnet, now that she felt much more settled and coordinated, had started beginners' fighting lessons with Rose; Pearl was more likely to get caught up in the battle and try to stab her. Pearl had adamantly disagreed with this prediction but she did concede to wait to spar with Garnet until the fusion got better at fighting.
Of course, adding in a new member to the group threw off what had been an easy rhythm. Garnet had known where she fit in with the group when it was just the three of them. But with someone new, she felt off-balance.
Bismuth was big, extraordinarily confident, boisterously loud and very strong. Very strong. Garnet often found herself staring at Bismuth's arms wishfully. Lots of… muscles. Very easy for her to lift anything with very little effort on her part. Watching Bismuth casually lift boulders like pebbles was just… Garnet was wobbly for hours after seeing Bismuth just lifting heavy things for the first time.
So Garnet totally understood why Pearl was hanging out Bismuth more often. She would do the same thing, except that Garnet is just anxiously waiting for Bismuth to laugh at her for being a mixed-gem fusion and to just crush Garnet under her booming words. Both Ruby's and Sapphire's anxieties were mixing together unpleasantly and Garnet hadn't really been able to get them to relax enough for her to be comfortable being around Bismuth.
All of this might help explain why Garnet is sitting with Rose 'admiring' flower petals (honestly, Garnet might be very young and somewhat innocent but even she knows that Rose isn't really admiring flower petals, she's admiring Bismuth's arm muscles), barely twenty feet away from where Bismuth has found a convenient lava fall, Pearl perched a few feet away from the heat.
Bismuth is listening to Pearl chattering on and on about battle strategies that would benefit from Bismuth's lava swimming, like ambushes and sneak attacks. The huge rainbow gem is nodding thoughtfully, eyes fixated on Pearl. Pearl is most definitely enjoying the attention, preening ever so slightly, and Garnet cannot blame her. At all.
Garnet is absolutely not admiring flower petals either. Bismuth is literally glowing under the lava's slow moving, gloopy goo. How is she supposed to look at anything else?
Garnet kinda tunes into Pearl's speech, halfway interested, but her interest is suddenly snatched and put into laser focus when Pearl says loftily, "It'd be so useful if we had more gems with this ability!" Garnet is suddenly swept away by the utter certainty that she can swim in lava too and she stands up, shoves her bouquet of flowers at a befuddled Rose and marches right up to Pearl and Bismuth.
"I can!" Garnet declares, any tiny bit of anxiety gone to the winds. Her arms are ramrod straight at her sides, fists held tight.
Both gems look up in surprise. Garnet had been skittish around them and this burst of brazen confidence is new. "What?" Pearl asks after a moment.
"I can be in lava!" Garnet declares with a quick glance at the goop in question.
"Um…" Pearl sneaks a confused side glance at Rose, then at Bismuth. Bismuth looks skeptical but interested; Garnet has been shying away for days now and she wants to see where this is going.
"See!" Garnet pulls her leg up and plants it in the calf high lava in one quick move. It makes her leg feel tingly but it's not unpleasant. Her cheeks are puffed up in determination.
That, at least, gets Pearl moving. She jumps, arms flailing and face contorted into horror. "Garnet!" Pearl actually yelps, while Rose drops all the flowers.
Garnet feels a nervous giggle bubbling up. "Ah- see?" Her sudden burst of confidence is fading away at Pearl's panic and she can actually feel her anxiety mounting. Bismuth's presence makes her avert her eyes, pulling her arms close to her body and try to shuffle her feet.
Try being the operative word. She has one of her legs dunked in lava and it's kinda stuck. The upper layer of the lava is thicker, being ever so slightly solid and Garnet finds that when she tries to make a hasty retreat, she loses her balance on her land foot and ends up trying to stay on the other foot. But of course, Garnet's balance has never been the best even in the best of conditions. This is not really the best of conditions.
All of this is why Garnet wobbles, pitches headfirst into lava and for one long second, disappears into it.
During that one second, Garnet is tingly all over but in her eyes, it starts to burn uncomfortably and she squeezes them shut. She isn't sure which way is up and she has a faint thought about melting and being a lava gem or something equally ridiculous-
Then Bismuth's big hands (recognizable in any situation) latch onto Garnet's shoulders and bodily hauls her up to air and no lava. And really easily too, like Garnet's weight means nothing at all.
Garnet splutters, blinking as the lava slides off her face. She fuzzily focuses on Bismuth's impressed and curious face before Pearl squawks, "Garnet- are you okay- what were you thinking- Bismuth, quick, put her on land, Rose, do your tears heal melting-"
"She's okay, Pearl," Bismuth interrupts, giving Garnet a little shake to get rid of the last of the lava. Her legs flop back and forth with the movement. "And it looks like she actually can be in lava. It'll be a while before you're swimming though," Bismuth said in her teasing tone, making Garnet squirm embarrassedly.
Bismuth's smile widens and she sets Garnet back down in the lava, this time in a shallow part. Garnet sinks down until her shins are under, arms tingling not because of the lava (probably a cause though) but from Bismuth's touch. The rainbow gem's hands were red-hot and Garnet has heard the warnings about touching her when her skin is like that, mostly directed at Pearl, who was always holding onto someone's arm. It's really bad to touch her when she's fresh from a lava bath.
But Garnet just had those big hands on her and she feels fine (better than fine). And if she's not mistaken, she's pretty sure her own skin is glowing with heat too.
Well… okay. Looks like Garnet is actually impervious to lava.
"How your gems feeling?" Bismuth asks, startling Garnet out of her thoughts.
"Oh, um, they're fine," Garnet stutters, holding out both her palms on instinct then backtracking once she realized she was showing off two gems. This is it, Bismuth is going to laugh at her, she has two gems and it's never ever been close to being a secret that she's a fusion what with her three eyes and-
Before she can pull them back, Bismuth takes Garnet's hands in her own. "Good, good. Won't want such a pretty gem like you to start melting on me." Bismuth accompanies this with a wink that sets Garnet's face aflame.
"Ah-ah, um, thank you," Garnet mumbles, so very relieved and embarrassed. Now that that part is over, she feels so mortified that she would think so badly of Bismuth.
"Did you close your eyes? That's kinda important too, the heat can hurt your eyes," Bismuth asks, all concern and not at all teasing and Garnet only feels more embarrassed about thinking that Bismuth would make fun.
"I-I didn't know I had to at first, but I did, I closed my eyes. They're fine too." All three of her eyes blink up at Bismuth, proving her words.
"Then that was a good first try! Now, sit down with me! We'll go swimming another time." Bismuth keeps her grip on Garnet's hands and pulls the fusion down with her as she leans back to sit, lava splashing out of her way.
Garnet falls to her knees in front of her then crosses her legs under herself after a moment. She sends Pearl and Rose hesitant glances, Pearl mostly looking curious and Rose sending her looks of encouragement.
"Tell me about yourself!" Bismuth invites.
"Like what?" Garnet asks quietly, toes curling under the cover of lava. The prickly heat feels so strange in between her toes.
"Well… if it's not too rude, I'd like to know these gems' names," Bismuth says thoughtfully, tapping a gentle finger on the gems on Garnet's palms.
"Oh- oh, um, this is Ruby-" she pushes her left hand forward and then her right. "And this is Sapphire." Garnet shifts, faintly uncomfortable about showing the actual evidence of her being a fusion. The reaction of the Blue Court, unfortunately, seems to be her most prominent memory of what gems think of her.
"Ruby and Sapphire, huh? I think I like Garnet a little better, though," Bismuth says with a smile. "I think Garnet's very pretty, you see," Bismuth whispers, as if confessing a secret and leaning forward to tell it better unheard.
Garnet feels like she's going to be the first gem to poof by dying of embarrassment. Ruby and Sapphire have never really had to deal with flirting so they were both kinda not very helpful for this. "Oh. Well, you're- you're very beautiful too, so. I-" Garnet stammers, tripping over her words. She ducks her head to unsuccessfully hide her blush.
Bismuth laughs, but not unkindly, more like she finds Garnet's stutter-flirting cute. "Well, thanks! Feel free to tell me that anytime," Bismuth says with a bubbly laugh. "Here, how about we trade?"
Garnet looks up at her, inquisitive.
"You'll learn from me about lava and swimming in it and I'll learn from you about fusion. I've never fused and you've never swum so I think that's a fair trade. What do you think?"
"S-sounds good," she agrees, nodding her head.
In the following months, more rebels join Rose Quartz, wandering in from every direction, and, from where Garnet later learns, from just about every colony settlement. There's so many Quartz soldiers, Beryl troops, Ruby grunts and even some pearls inspired by the renegade Pearl. They come alone, in pairs, in a united group, all willing to betray their Homeworld.
It's a huge physical reminder of the fact that Rose is a soldier, a war general, or maybe she's a marshal now, because every gem that joins them is under her command. Rose is so serious, Garnet can't see the loving gem she's gotten to know in the past half year. Rose appoints the loyal, the strong and the wise to be her generals, making war councils with strategic talks, uniting disorganized troops into reliable squads with responsible and honest captains looking over them.
So far, Garnet is too green to be in battle but she's seen the soldiers troop out of the base and then days later, almost a whole month, only half of the soldiers would run into the base with arms full of gems that been forced back into their stones and others who rush to Rose, pushing the cracked gems at her desperately. Garnet doesn't want to say that she's not happy she's not included because battle looks horrifying but she aches to try and help. Rose doesn't have any time for beginner lessons with her, what with training her soldiers to work in mixed groups, spreading her doctrine, crying her healing tears and holding war councils. Garnet ends up practicing by herself, mimicking the forms done by the Carnelians and the smaller Quartz soldiers, figuring that with their somewhat similar builds, their fighting forms would suit her best.
Among the new recruits is a particularly beautiful Snowflake Obsidian. She's a little shorter than Garnet, with gorgeous black skin speckled with contrasting white spots. Her gem, embedded in the base of her throat in a oval shape, matches her skin tone. Snowflake is serene, perfectly honest and forthright, as she rarely shows anger or fear. She's an amazing warrior, keeping her cool under pressure and her weapon, a staff, is capable of ending conflicts peacefully, just like she can. Of course, as Snowflake is part of a military rebelling against their former government's army, she knows she has to fight violently if she has any hope of seeing the end of the war.
So that's how Snowflake and Bismuth meet: Snowflake goes to Bismuth's forge to ask for perhaps a new sword or a lance for battle and Bismuth falls head over heels to help her, offering additions for her summon weapon so she wouldn't have to change her style so much.
Garnet watches Bismuth blush and flirt, clumsily but sincerely, with amused eyes. After being flirted into a mumbly mess by an unfazed Bismuth far too often, seeing the opposite happen feels like well-deserved justice. Snowflake looks flattered by the attentions and flirts back, slowly but surely becoming more confident.
Garnet honesty doesn't mind Bismuth falling in love with someone else. She's always felt a bit crowded thinking about love applying to her, already having a wonderful relationship inside her. Just having crushes feels fine for her, but thinking about Bismuth, thinking about having more with her never felt bad at all. And, well, Bismuth is a very nice kisser so she doesn't mind that part at all.
When they kiss for the first time under the lava fall, Garnet finds she likes it more than she had originally thought. The intimacy of the heat all around them, of being in the dark because they were keeping their eyes closed, it all felt very lovely to the both of them and Garnet rather liked this type of kissing.
"I thought you liked Pearl? And… uh, Snowflake…" Garnet murmurs hazily. Her voice is muffled through the thick lava but she knows that Bismuth can hear her.
Bismuth hums, hands pulling Garnet closer, one on her back and the other tugging at her arm. "I've got plenty of love to share," Bismuth answers, a grin evident in her voice.
Garnet smiles, even though she knows Bismuth can't see her. She shyly leans forward to kiss where she guesses Bismuth's mouth is, although she ends up landing on the corner of her lips.
"Almost," Bismuth says, amused, turning her head to properly kiss Garnet. "This okay?" she checks, pulling away a little bit.
Garnet nods her assent, their noses brushing against each other. "Better than okay," she says, just to make sure Bismuth understood. One, two, three, four kisses then…
"I want to see you," Bismuth murmurs after a moment, hands lightly pulling Garnet toward the open air.
Garnet goes willingly, the two of them emerging from the lava flow easily. She blinks open her eyes, rolling her shoulders to get rid of the lava remaining on her. Bismuth is shaking out her dreads, droplets flying. Bismuth is also glowing from the heat and Garnet has no doubts she's doing the same.
"I'm so lucky, I get you like this like no one else," Bismuth says, a little flirty but completely honest. "You're very beautiful."
Garnet tries not to be overcome by the fluttery feeling that Bismuth's sweet words invoke, mumbling a half hearted denial, "Not really…"
"Hey now, Garnet," Bismuth says sharply, causing Garnet to look up in surprise. "I'm not a liar about anything, Garnet, and I would never lie to you," Bismuth says, tilting her head. "You know that, don't you?"
Garnet nods. Bismuth reaches out to brush curls of darkened pink away from the fusion's face and then rests her palm against Garnet's cheek.
"I'm not lying about how amazing you are. I don't care much about what that Court said about you," Bismuth says knowingly into Garnet's surprised face. Garnet had told her about that days ago. She hadn't thought that Bismuth would remember it and connect it so easily to Garnet's self-esteem. "You know they don't matter, right? You're strong and special and I'm so lucky to know you."
Now Garnet is blushing again but not of self-conscious discomfort. Her body feels warm and fluttery and she thinks that maybe this is the moment that she falls in love.
Three's a crowd, sure, but with Bismuth, she doesn't mind being crowded a little. Bismuth is special, she's important and kind and so gentle even with her huge power.
Yes, Garnet thinks as she leans forward to kiss Bismuth again, this might be the moment she truly falls in love.
Chapter 2: First Fusion
JSJSJKASHGDS I REALLY MEANT TO POST SO MUCH SOONER
Bismuth's forge is always smelling of melted things, like the metal she used for her weapons and the molten rocks that power the whole thing, and all those scents waft out of the forge's entrance in a heady mixture. Garnet breathes it in, trying to gather composure from it. She loves Bismuth and this is her promise besides. She wants to fuse with her so she knows that's not the reason why she's so nervous. Still, she's still feeling so anxious, she wishes she had a solid idea of why.
She guesses that the main reason why she's nervous because she doesn't actually know how to fuse. Garnet's a fusion herself, she certainly never had to do the act of fusing to be herself, that was all Ruby and Sapphire's doing. Even working off what they had done to fuse, Garnet really didn't think that would work. She didn't know how to dance and she didn't even know if Bismuth could. And the other option, of actually just tackling Bismuth into a surprise fusion, really felt like it would not work at all. Mostly, she guesses that it would be like tackling a boulder. Plus, consent for fusing is paramount.
But what else? Garnet wants to do this right, she wants to this perfectly for Bismuth. Bismuth deserves so much and Garnet wants everything to be just right. Unfortunately, she doesn't know where to start.
Her components stir, drawing her attention inward and they offer up thoughts and feelings from their fusion.
Trust her with you and yourself with her, murmurs the Ruby parts.
Open yourself, no false feelings. Be true to yourself and her, Sapphire's parts whisper.
Invent yourselves, Garnet finishes to herself. Together.
Oh. Of course. Dancing by itself wouldn't be the answer for them. It could be, one day. But for now, Garnet and Bismuth synchronized differently, bonded over something else.
Garnet has a spark of an idea for this. Her component gems flutter with amusement then subside, leaving Garnet to control her body and mind. She grins to herself.
She walks forward, the tunnel narrowing and tapering down into the doorway to the forge. Garnet can hear Bismuth hard at work, making swords quickly and efficiently. She peeks through the door, not wanting to disturb Bismuth's focus.
Bismuth is bent over a sword with an unusually curved blade. Likely a prototype for Pearl. So, that probably means that Bismuth's work is done for the day if she's testing out a new sword. Garnet supposes that this would be the best time to broach the conversation.
"Bismuth," she calls out, entering the forge properly with a touch of excitement. She's never wanted anything like this with anyone, wanting to fuse with her so much, and it gives her tingles of joy.
The rainbow gem looks up, surprise turning to a pleased expression. "Garnet!" She sets the curved sword aside. "What are you doing here? I thought you were the punching type, not the slasher type." She wipes off her hands on her apron, smearing dark metallic dust all over it.
"I want to keep my promise to you," Garnet says, finding the nervousness that she expected, had felt before, to be absent. Now that her single worry has been soothed, the rest is smooth sailing. She wants to do this and she wants this to happen with Bismuth.
"Promise?" Bismuth looks confused, shifting her hammer-hands into actual hands absently while waiting for clarification.
"Let's fuse," Garnet says simply.
Bismuth looks surprised for a second but she quickly tries to distract from it with a blurted, "O-oh really? I- well, I didn't want to press you but if you're sure you're okay with fusing? I mean, I know it's… really important to you…" Her cheeks are darkened.
Garnet smiles wider, feeling a little fluttery at seeing Bismuth's blush. But more to the point, she needs to let Bismuth know that she really wants to do this. "I'm sure, Bismuth. Do you want to fuse with me?" she asks in a clear tone. Fusing without consent wasn't ever a good idea.
Bismuth hesitates then nods. "Yes. Just so you know, um, I've never danced before," she confesses, eyes darting away as if expecting that to be a crime.
Garnet nods and holds out her hands, palms up, gems gleaming in the forge's red light. "That's okay," she says lowly. "We can learn this together." She looks up, suddenly almost feeling breathless at their proximity. But this is part of her plan so she then adds in her best teasing tone, "I won't be mad if you step on my toes. I know dancing's not your bismuth."
Bismuth's nervous mood cracks open to a startled laugh, incredulous and delighted in one sound. "You- I can't believe you-" she giggles, the sound almost high-pitched. "I thought you hated those jokes when I made them!" she finally says, grinning around her chuckles.
Garnet shakes her head. "I never hated them, I wanted to make one. You kept stealing them before I could. You have to give the rest of us a chance, you know!"
"Oh I see how it is then!" Bismuth declares dramatically. She takes Garnet's outstretched hands almost as an afterthought, saying, "You want to take my spot as the Maker of Puns in this rebellion. Well, there's only one spot and it's mine."
The fusion shrugs and pulls Bismuth closer to her, bringing them together with inches between them. "You haven't had any competition, Bismuth. Everyone wants some new jokes but there wasn't anyone to challenge you." Garnet holds up their joined hands at their sides then tugs them into a spin.
Bismuth follows the movement, too focused on rebutting the challenge to overthink her steps. "Oh so you think stealing all my jokes is a good idea? In a proper competition, you need new ideas! Innovation! Can't be just stealing them!" She gives Garnet a mock scolding look, which is ruined by her massive grin.
An uneven rhythm is made between them but the two gems' focus on on their banter. Bismuth barely even notices but Garnet tries to keep her moves simple even though she actually has no idea what she's doing with her feet.
"I'll innovate as soon as I actually have a chance to do it," Garnet says in a faux complaining tone, moving them into another easy spin. "How am I ever supposed to become a Master of Comedy with you stealing all the puns before I can?"
Bismuth laughs even louder, following her partner's lead. "Garnet, Master of Comedy? Never! You'll have to beat me first."
"That's the plan," Garnet returns. "I'll net that title before you know it." Her own face shows her disbelief of the fact that she actually made that pun.
Bismuth snorts again, eyes slipping shut as she ducks her head to muffle it. "That was terrible."
Garnet grins wider. "It wasn't muth, for a Master of Comedy, but you haven't metal of the requirements yourself."
They both let go with their left hand, Bismuth's hand going to Garnet's hip and Garnet's hand to Bismuth's shoulder. The two of them start to move in an uneven loopy pattern.
"That was even worse, and you suggest that I'm lacking in my puns?" Bismuth demands lightly.
"Well, you have to forge a few new ones every so often. Or else your sharp tongue may get dull," Garnet points out meaningfully, darting her eyes at the piles of swords in a very obvious manner.
"Garnet, oh, stop it," Bismuth splutters, giggling through it all. Their dance starts to slow as their gems start to glow faintly and unnoticed.
"I'm just saying! It might not be my bismuth but I gotta be honest with you," Garnet carries on, beaming. "You see-"
"This is gonna be terrible and you can't use the same pun already-" Bismuth tries to interrupts as their gems get brighter and brighter.
Garnet stands up on her tiptoes, staring directly into Bismuth's eyes. "I lava you."
Bismuth cracks, cackling loudly and pulling Garnet into her arms in a defeated embrace. "That was- Garnet-" she breaks off to laugh some more then attempts to kiss Garnet.
'Attempts' because she's laughing too hard to actually kiss properly but Garnet couldn't care less about that and they're both grinning too much to kiss so it's fair.
Their gems' glow envelopes their forms, the white light sparkling into a rainbow of colors. The two of them melt into each other, a morphing rainbow slowly outlining a tall four-armed figure. Beautifully curled hair blossoms out of her head and when she moves, the rainbow bursts open, showing off their fusion for the first time.
Her hair reflects the light, sparkling in every color and her curls fluffily settle around her face. Five eyes blink open, surprise in every feature. Her top set of arms start to reach up at her face while the bottom set prods at her clothes.
"Did you plan that?" she asks, running a tentative finger around her many eyes. She finds the eyes right on her cheekbones most interesting. "Well, most of it. Neither of us can dance."
She tugs at her clothes, especially interested in the splotches of color all over her apron and bodysuit. "That means I really can't dance," she says to herself, her true voice shining.
"Wow, though. I'm really… pretty," she murmurs, admiring her dark periwinkle skin and the iridescent hair that she could see. "And I'm tall. Hah, I'm even more muscular than Bismuth." She flexes a little with all four of her arms, admiring her muscles.
Looking around, she spots a reflective shield resting by the anvil on the center of the room. That would be perfect. She hefts herself to her feet but misjudges the effort required, almost face-planting the floor. She barely managed to get her arms up to stop the fall. "Oh." Garnet knew what this part was. The gems in her were used to one body type, not an entirely new one. Bismuth was big but not this big and the longer torso was a huge change too. "Baby steps," she decides and tries again, stretching out all four arms to try for balancing better.
One step after another. Baby steps. She giggles despite herself. "This is so cool," she whispers. Her components flutter in agreement and she wobbles again when she laughs.
She makes it to the anvil well enough and clumsily grabs at the shield. She hefts it up and stares at her reflection.
"Oh, wow," she breathes. Her bottom set of arms hold the shield steady while her top set explore her face. She traces the line of her nose, the edges of her thick lips. She pats her chubby cheeks, giggling at herself. Tugging at the side of her mouth, she sees her sharp canines, oohing at the sight.
"I'm so beautiful," she says, full of wonder. This is her body and she loves it. Her lips curl in a wide open-toothed grin, showing off those sharp teeth. "And my name… My name… My name is Ammolite! That's me. I'm Ammolite."
Ammolite makes a few silly faces, flexing her arms and seeing if she can wink with one side of her face and then if winking worked with the one eye in her forehead. She shakes her head, awed by the way the rainbow curls sends light scattering all over the walls.
"I have to show Snowflake!" Ammolite declares, dropping the shield with a metallic clang as she swings her way to her feet. She wobbles this way and that as she unsteadily runs out of the forge.