Illustrations by Aliaspseudonym.
Do you know what it’s like to be Malachite?
I wish I didn’t. Because it was so intense, so painful, so pleasurable, that I didn’t want to leave. I feel like part of me didn’t leave, while part of Malachite broke off and stayed with me when we de-fused. And when my mind wanders, or when I fall asleep … sometimes, I become her again.
This time, it was while I was sleeping.
I was holding up the weight of the entire Earth’s oceans beneath me, standing on top of the tower that I’d tried to build to get back to Homeworld. My Gem was cracked, and the more I pulled at my chains the wider it split. But I had to keep doing it, because she was on the other side struggling against me.
The only thing I felt besides pain was hatred. Her hatred for me, my hatred for her, and Malachite’s hatred of everything. It was beautiful! I laughed, as I doubled over with the exertion, and saw my mirrored eyes in the water’s surface. And just beneath it, Malachite’s rows of eyes staring back at me.
I grinned down at her. Because I was her, and she was mine, and every part of us knew it.
If only Rose could see me now, I thought, as I struggled to stand back upright. How strong I was. I was invincible! I was so powerful, that the only thing on Earth that could hold me back was myself.
I had been all wrong about fusion. It wasn’t this weird thing that Rubies and deviants did. It wasn’t a cheap trick to make weak Gems stronger. It was the ultimate source of power! If I’d known, I could have beaten Rose and her minions thousands of years ago! But now it was just me and a handful of Crystal weaklings, and when I broke free I was going to-
“No!” I cried out, as the monster beneath the surface – the monster that I was – pulled me down to my knees. The tower of water shook, and the stars and clouds and the distant curve of Earth’s surface all seemed to spin for a second.
I gritted my teeth and forced myself into Malachite. Forced myself to consciously be her, and not just Lapis. To let go as her and stop struggling for a second, at the same time as Lapis pulled with all her might and stood back up. She hated me, and I hated her, and we both hated Rose Quartz.
I growled as I imagined her, the tower’s surface becoming a mirror and playing back our fiercest battles. She was so foolish! It was so predictable how she would make for her cracked, injured Gems, and heal them with-
“Steven?” I blinked, and stared down at the mirrored surface. A silhouette of the child that Rose Quartz had become was putting his hand to my back. And I watched the Lapis Lazuli silhouette stand up and spread her wings triumphantly.
Then the surface gave way beneath me, and I tasted salt water as Jasper roared out of the depths and grabbed me in both arms. The next thing I knew, I was Malachite, standing on top of the tower and laughing.
And spreading my wings triumphantly.
“Now I will have my REVENGE!” I bellowed, and took off from the tower I’d been holding up. It crumbled into soft, pillowy bubbles of water, toppling and splashing to the seabed below. I felt relieved at no longer having to hold it up, and invigorated by the raw power I had in this body.
I made a beeline for Rose’s temple, down past a layer of clouds, and grinned in anticipation. I was going to tear her apart. Along with that weak fusion, and that runt of an Amethyst, and the annoying Pearl that followed Rose around and had kept me inside her Gem and-
“Pearl!” I cried out in Malachite’s voice, stopping short in midair and putting both hands to my face.
* * *
I woke up, my head jerking up into the backs of Pearl’s arms and knocking her teacup away. We both made these startled, squeaking sounds, and got back to our feet in front of the couch.
“I’m sorry!” I whispered, in between Steven’s snoring from up on the loft. Moonlight shone through the windows, and onto the waves that were crashing outside. And my cheeks turned dark blue, as I realized I’d fallen asleep with my head on Pearl’s lap.
“It’s okay, Lapis. It’s not your fault.” She bent over with her back to me, getting the teacup I’d knocked aside and setting it back on its saucer. Then she stood back up and gave me a concerned look. “Are you okay?” she whispered.
“I’m f-fine,” I lied, and tried to stop shaking.
“Are you sure?”
I just blushed even harder, and looked down at the floor.
“Alright. Why don’t you have a seat on the dry part of the couch, while I clean this up.”
I sat back down carefully, my arms wrapped around my sides. While I did that, Pearl went to the kitchen and set her dishes in the sink without making a sound, then got a half-dozen paper towels off of the roll and set to work cleaning the couch.
I watched her for a few seconds before remembering what I’d dreamed about, and hanging my head in shame.
Pearl looked up at me, concerned. “Did you dream about being Mal-”
“Yes.” I held onto myself even tighter. "Please don’t say her name."
“Okay. I’m sorry, Lapis.”
I wasn’t looking at her, but I felt her put a hand on my knee for a moment. And for some reason, it helped me relax just a little.
I sat there in silence, watching her pat down the couch cushions to soak up the spilled tea. “Do you need me to get you some more of those?” I asked.
“That’s very kind of you, dear … ” Pearl got out a twirled-up cloth towel from her Gem, and laid it on top of the mostly-dry spill. “But I’ve got it covered.”
My cheeks turned blue again, as she went to throw the paper towels away. “Yes, you do,” I whispered to myself, feeling awkward and even more nervous.
Pearl rinsed her hands in the sink, and I got back to my feet and walked towards the Warp pad as quietly as I could. Steven’s snoring helped cover for me.
“Lapis?” Pearl looked up just as I walked past, and finished drying her hands off. “Where are you going?”
I stopped at the Warp pad, and waited for her to catch up. “Thank you for having me over,” I whispered to her, “but I need to go someplace to distract myself. It … it felt too real, this time.”
I could feel Malachite’s four legs and eyes, and stepped backwards onto the Warp pad reflexively. The polished crystal was cool under my bare feet.
“Would you like me to help distract you?” Pearl asked, and stepped closer. Her hands were clasped in front of her chest, as though she were pleading with me.
“I don’t know.” I looked away, embarrassed.
Pearl gave me a coy look, her eyes half-lidded. “You could chain me up instead of her ~ ”
“I don’t want to chain anyone up!” I unfolded my arms, so I could hold up my hands to protest. “Not now. Not right after Malachite!”
Pearl looked taken aback. “I thought you liked … ”
I sighed. “It’s complicated.”
Pearl just nodded slowly, seeming to process this.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, and took another step back. “I need to go.”
“If you must. B-but you’re always welcome here!” Pearl added quickly. She looked … worried? Desperate? It was like looking into the face of the puppy the campers adopted in season three. And I realized that either she meant what she’d said about wanting to help me, or she really enjoyed our time together.
I blushed hard and looked away, only meeting her gaze for a second when I spoke up. “I guess I could come over tomorrow, if that’s okay? If I feel up to it then.”
Pearl’s eyes lit up, and she held her hands up right next to her face. “Yes, absolutely! I’ll plan something special for you ~ ”
The way she said that almost made my knees give out. But I caught myself, and managed an embarrassed nod. “Okay, then. Goodbye for now.”
With that, I Warped back to the barn.
If I’d known “something special” meant tying me up and almost getting me poofed, I wouldn’t have come the next day.