It’s something she’s completely forgotten about for the first time in her life, caught up in the whirlwind of events and feelings and experiences the past Earth rotations have provided. When it hits her, she is sitting, attention occupied by one of the flowers that richly line their little hideaway, busy both wondering at the softness and growing wary of the pressure she might unwittingly end up exerting on the fragile petals.
It is as merciless as she’s ever known it to be, and like nothing she’s ever dealt with before, and the intensity coupled with the strange duality that is part of her existence now leaves her crumpled on the floor, clutching at her head with both hands. A part of her remembers the beats of doing this, but a part of her is all but screaming are you-I- are we ok are you ok can I help- and it is the least helpful thing in the universe.
Close your eyes! she shouts, but doesn’t, and closes hers firmly. Then, she lets it flow. It still comes in fits and spurts, more unsteady than it’s ever been, but it’s a tolerably consistent trickle soon enough, and she lets out a long breath as the vision unfurls before her.
“Amazing,” Rose gasps out, filled with her own particular brand of wide-eyed wonder - something Garnet’s become very familiar with, but also something that’s somehow yet to make her feel at all uncomfortable. “So you’ve retained Sapphire’s seer powers.”
“Something like that,” Garnet mumbles back, still feeling groggy and strangely unbalanced and regretting not giving herself more time to recover before rushing over to Rose and Pearl.
“So what… did you see?”
“Blue Diamond is… angry,” Garnet begins slowly, closing her eyes and trying to focus on the flow again. Pearl snorts out an Obviously from her corner, and Rose says something in return, but Garnet isn’t quite there and she can’t make out what. “There’s going to be… a quartz squadron. At least six jaspers, tomorrow at the latest…”
“How will they find us?” Rose asks, calmly, in all the suddenly growing tension of imminent danger.
“I… don’t know. But I can see… a lake, and an ambush on a rocky shore, next to… a cave entrance.”
“Well, it’s not going to be much of an ambush if we know they’re coming.” Rose smirks, and gives Garnet an approving nod. “Thank you, Garnet.”
“I can help!” she repeats, almost desperate this time, as Pearl picks up the swords she’s been sharpening and stows them in her gem one by one.
“Can you? You can barely stand on your own, and you have no idea where your limbs are half the time. No, no no no no,” Pearl tuts, “I am not letting you anywhere near a fight.”
Garnet almost wants to scoff at the idea of a pearl letting her do something, but that kind of thinking is- like the shouts of disgusting! an outrage! in the arena that made her skin crawl and burn; it’s ugly, and unwelcome, and in the past, and she stomps on it decisively. Judging by Pearl’s exclamation of surprise, she’s also stomped on the actual ground. There’s heat rising to her face, but she grasps at her chance to protest. “You can’t take on six jaspers by yourself! That’s-”
“Absurd? Unbelievable? Well, all the better for me. I confess it was easier before this whole…” Pearl trails off and makes a vague gesture with her hand Garnet doesn’t really understand, “reputation thing happened. It’s much simpler to defeat someone when they don’t expect anything of you but to peacefully submit at the first sign of a direct command. But I suppose now that word has caught up with me, I’ll have to work with them merely not knowing what exactly to expect.”
Pearl is so obviously enjoying the whole insolent rebel act that Garnet is taken aback. Act? It wouldn’t really be an act, though, would it? And of course she is enjoying it. Sapphire has been around enough pearls in her flourishing diplomatic career, but this is the first one she’s met who’s gotten the chance to be someone - anyone, really. And Garnet has to admit to herself that, from what she’s seen, the part of the dashing rogue that Pearl so loves playing and Rose loves encouraging isn’t a bad fit for her at all.
“You know,” Pearl continues, amusement rising in her voice, “it might even evolve into fear some day - my, what a thought! and think of the intimidation tactics I could get to work with! - but, well, who can really tell?”
I can, Garnet almost says. She remembers the rumours and court whisperings and thinks - yes, they’re afraid, they’re afraid of what you represent, but they aren’t afraid of you.
She keeps it to herself, and thinks back to the attack on the arena, paging through multiple sets of experiences. There was a pearl there, too, she wants to say, what would you have done to her, with her, if I hadn’t happened?
But it feels far, far too personal, so she refrains.
“Anyway, until you get some serious training done in your new form, you should stay here, and Rose and I will handle everything.”
Garnet feels… a lot of things. She doesn’t want to be a burden, she doesn’t want to owe anyone but herself anything, and she certainly doesn’t want to be dead weight, sequestered away, almost as if she’s something shameful. “But I can help-,” she starts yet again.
“By doing what? Falling on them?”
Garnet flushes, but persists, determined. “I can help. I can’t fight- yet- but I know… possibilities.”
“Possibilities?” Pearl hums, a finger to her chin in thought. “Yes, I suppose I can work with those. Fine. Tell me what you have.”
The quartz ambush is beaten into a hasty, messy retreat. Rose comes back alone, a slightly mud-streaked pearl held in her hand, and Garnet feels ice crowd her insides. She was forced back into her gem by - as Rose tells it - a lucky shot. But Garnet knows it wasn’t, knows it was because Pearl listened to her, assumed things would unfurl as she saw, and planned accordingly.
The fear that sinks its claws into her feels like it’s going to tear her apart, but she strains and refuses to let it. But the certainty that she’s going to be broken for her error, no, crushed into dust, and all it will take is a wave of a long, cruelly blue hand-
There is little point in asking for it when kneeling before a Diamond, but the word mercy passes her lips several times.
“Garnet!” Rose is suddenly right by her, crouching down to her height, the pearl still in her hand. “Garnet, what’s wrong?”
“I…” Garnet almost whimpers, bent double, arms firmly around her own middle. “I’m so sorry. Please… it was a mistake, I didn’t…”
“An honest mistake, a miscalculation. We all make those. But it’s all right, believe me,” Rose’s voice is a pleasantly guiding, insistent thing, and so very easy to focus on, so Garnet does. “Pearl will recover, and we can all go through what happened, figure out what went wrong where, and be much better prepared for next time. You’ll see.”
Garnet finds she hates the casually certain next time, even as she knows it’s undoubtedly true. “I’m… I’m so sorry,” she wishes she could stop repeating those words, but she can’t find any others to fill their absence. Rose lays a hand on her shoulder and - it’s still strange, being touched, but it’s also… nice. She leans into it.
“It’s fine. She’ll be back soon, please don’t be upset - we would have been in far more trouble without you.” Rose is quietly soothing now. And then - of course, she isn’t a leader for nothing - she adds something Garnet wishes she could believe: “It wasn’t your fault.”
But it was her mistake, all of it. The pearl- Pearl is too unpredictable and Garnet doesn’t, but wants to understand - but she assumed things when it was the last thing she should have done. She doesn’t reply, but the hand on her shoulder stays, surprisingly soft and gentle for something she’s seen be so destructive, and they wait.
Pearl does return - astoundingly quickly for Sapphire’s notions and unacceptably late for Ruby’s and Garnet doesn’t really know what to think - and is enveloped in Rose’s desperate embrace immediately after the light of her regeneration dies down, swept off her feet before she even lands on them.
Perhaps, Garnet thinks, Rose wasn’t quite as calmly certain and unaffected by her absence as she pretended to be.
Garnet moves to give the two some privacy, but a sudden thought gives her pause. She may not have been around for a very long time, but it’s enough for her to have a growingly clear sense of her own feelings, and Garnet’s seen the way Pearl looks at Rose, as well as the way Rose looks back. It leads, in the end, to an idea. “You two could fuse.”
The both of them turn to gape at her, not loosening their grips on each other. Their expressions are similar in the way they all but scream that they’ve both thought of this quite a bit without daring to actually bring it up, and it makes Garnet feel like laughing - a happy, kind, approving laugh, free of mockery.
She smiles, instead, and watches the wordless exchange and growing agreement taking place before her.
Pearl is the first to speak. “How did you tw- how did you do it? When you meant to?”
We- doesn’t feel right, and Garnet pauses to think back. “Ruby and Sapphire just kind of… danced.”
“Danced?” Rose sounds amused, and quite taken with the idea.
“Yes! It was… They twirled around and it was nothing fancy, but it felt really nice and then… I just… happened. Because they both really wanted me to, even though they were maybe scared to say it.”
“Well, then,” Pearl extricates herself from Rose’s persistent hold and hops down into a graceful, if a tad too elaborate, bow. “My dearest Rose, may I have this dance?”
“I would be delighted,” Rose giggles, returning the bow and pressing a quick kiss to the back of Pearl’s offered hand.
In the end, it doesn’t take them too long. Their dance is rather more elaborate than anything Garnet remembers doing, and she’s not sure for whose benefit they’re putting on a show, but they’re clearly enjoying themselves, and each other, which is all they really need.
The light pierces all three - hee, three - of her eyes, and then it is gone, and she can see again. “Oh, wow.”
The Gem is at least a head taller than Garnet - she can’t really tell with these things yet, all she knows is she has to look up - and stands looking around herself, and down at herself, with four wide eyes. The grin on her face is uncontrollable and she launches into a somewhat clumsy twirl, giggling, then hugs herself in a gesture Garnet finds very, very familiar.
The laughter is infectious, and Garnet beams right back. The new fusion seems to be covered in all the colours Garnet’s seen in White Diamond’s prism displays during her palace visits, that she’s seen in the nacreous residue of freshly made pearls during long hours of guard duty outside the artisan chambers, that she’s seen in the spray of Earth’s waterfalls when the sunlight hit them just right.
Garnet hears a Whoops, sorry! as her vision fills with seemingly endless amounts of bright hair and the arm around her shoulder makes her stumble. The attempt they both make to stay on their feet turns into a somewhat awkward but heartfelt hug.
“Thank you,” the fusion whispers, pressing Garnet into her shoulder and almost lifting her off her feet. “This is wonderful, you are wonderful.”
“Wonderful yourself,” Garnet fires back as soon as the hold on her is loosened enough for her to speak.
The pause in the response is telling, and the obvious familiarity of the experience hits Garnet, along with the awareness of her power to help, and guide - and the profound desire to do so. “Try with an I. See how it feels.”
“I…” All four eyes narrow in thought, searching for something to grasp onto and build off of, and Garnet sees something dawn on the face before her. “I… like dancing.”
“Good,” Garnet nods sagely, the effect somewhat marred by the grin still on her lips. “In fact, so do I.”
They spin around, and stumble, and laugh, and for at least a little while that’s all that happens.