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i understand all your philosophies (but they hurt me just the same)

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Rose Quartz is Pink Diamond.

Steven has given a very abridged version of events and Garnet has taken some time to... well, process it all. 5000 years of processing in the space of a few hours has left her with a serious headache, and she wants nothing more than to warp out to somewhere remote, or swim to the bottom of the ocean, or split apart so Ruby and Sapphire can scream and cry and let it all out (or some hearty combination of all three). So she does.

Sapphire is furious. She releases every ounce of pain and fury on an unsuspecting Pearl, who is hanging her head in shame, ridden with guilt as Sapphire spits every venomous word she can think of, 5000 years worth of lies shooting out like vomit. Ruby is frozen to the spot. All she can think of is how can this be? How can Rose, who did so much good, who helped them fuse and fall in love and find their freedom... how can she possibly be the gem who started it all? For better or worse, how can she be the cause of it all?

Amethyst and Steven are trying to mediate, trying to keep the peace – trying to explain that Pearl couldn't tell them, couldn't say a clodding word – but it's no use to them now. Sapphire leaves, and Ruby doesn't follow.

It takes some time, for them to be alone with their thoughts, to cry and scream and process things in their own right, before they can face the reality of their situation together.

When Garnet finally comes back to herself again, after two days of Ruby tirelessly searching for Sapphire, she's all cried out. For now, at least. Sapphire's blazing fury has burned out to a simmering hurt, and Ruby is her anchor, holding her in place while they process the horrible truth of it all. When Garnet warps back in, Amethyst doesn't give her a chance to retreat to her room.

“You two need to talk,” Amethyst tells Garnet.

She wants to run. She wants to hide. But Pearl is sat on the decking, watching the sun sink lower than the ocean waves, and she knows she can't avoid this conversation forever.

Avoiding it for a week would be nice, or maybe a month, but she's burning with questions, and she knows that Pearl knows that too. In all honesty, she's impressed that Pearl hasn't made herself entirely scarce. The last time they fought, it took until they were about to be crushed in a gem prison for the two of them to talk things through.

Garnet clicks her tongue. “I suppose we do,” she says flatly.

Amethyst has her arm around Steven. She is struggling to understand too, Garnet can tell, but her life began after the war, so Rose being... well, Pink clodding Diamond, isn't the same knife in her back that it is for Garnet. As for Steven, Garnet isn't sure how he's coping (or if he's coping at all). Frankly, he looks a hearty mix of devastated and bewildered, which seems like a fair reaction considering that she's felt numb all over since he uttered those four simple words.

Mom was Pink Diamond.”

It's... terrifying, it's infuriating, it's... heartbreaking. For so long, Garnet has been convinced that Rose Quartz was a good person – no, a great person. She understood that Rose kept secrets, she understood that she didn't always make the best choices, but she always thought she knew who she was at her core; a gem whose life began on Earth, a gem who fell in love with the beauty of this planet, a gem who fought against the very ones who oppressed her.

Now that she knows the truth, she wonders how much more Rose has lied about over the millennia she's known her for.

Garnet pushes the door open. Ordinarily, Pearl would be jumpy at the loud creak cutting through the silence like a sharpened sword, but she makes no indication she even heard the sound. Her eyes are trained on the sparkling shapes that dance across the water as the sun glints off of the ocean's surface, and her concentration is so great she doesn't even acknowledge Garnet before she takes a seat right next to her.

“Pearl.”

“Garnet,” she says quietly. “I suppose you're very angry with me.”

“I'm hurt,” she confesses, folding her arms. “I'm scared. I'm furious.”

Pearl's face is pinched, like it's physically painful to even be having this conversation (and judging by the story Steven told them, it might be. Garnet keeps glancing down at Pearl's hands, fingers flexing nervously, just waiting to slam against her lips and silence her).

“Of course,” she murmurs. “I would be too.”

“Pearl, how in the stars could I have not known? How could I never... how I could I never see that?!”

“You wouldn't have been able to search for it,” Pearl offers timidly. “You had no way of knowing who... she was.” Her hands slowly unfurl, smoothing down flat against her thighs, and she exhales. “How could you have known? She was... very good at concealing the truth.”

“She silenced you,” Garnet spits out, and Pearl tenses up. “Steven told me. Told me what she did – what Rose did. Or Pink Diamond, stars, I don't know anymore! Who was she when she made you do that, Pearl? Was she my friend? Or was she your owner?”

Pearl has a deer-in-headlights look about her, eyes wide, mouth trembling, and as she opens her mouth to speak her hands slam against her mouth so violently it jerks her head back a little with the force. Garnet's seen Pearl's hands cover her mouth, of course, increasingly often when the diamonds are brought up (the thought is nauseating now that she knows that it's more than a coping mechanism, more than a quirk that makes Pearl Pearl) – but she's never seen it happen like that. She's never seen the look of panic on her face, never seen her try and wrestle a hand off of her mouth, and honestly? It shakes her to the core.

Pink Diamond still has her hold on Pearl. She still has a hold on Earth, 5000 years later.

After a few moments, her hands slowly pull away, and there are tears in her eyes, tears of embarrassment (she's ashamed, Garnet realises, ashamed of this spell she's powerless against). Pearl hunches over a little, thumbs away a tear from the corner of her eye, and sighs.

“Sorry. I want to give you answers, Garnet, I really do. I hope you can see now why that just... isn't possible.”

Garnet feels the urge to throw up. She feels sick inside, like she's rotting. Everything about Rose... her love for Earth, her appreciation for humans, her passion for gems to be themselves... was any of it real? Was it ever genuine, or just another game of strategy, with the crystal gems her player pieces on the chessboard of a diamond?

She removes her visor, and Pearl reluctantly meets her gaze.

“Garnet, you're crying.”

“It isn't right,” Garnet says, and she feels her words choking her. One hand reaches for the base of her throat, trying to ease the pressure there, and the other winds their fingers together, gripping onto Pearl's hand. “What she did to you. Pearl, I'm sorry.”

Pearl shrinks away from Garnet, ripping her fingers away like she's been burned.

“Wh... Garnet, don't... don't apologise, you have no reason to – I mean, I should be the one – it's been so long, Garnet, and I never even t-told you...!”

“This isn't your mistake to fix, Pearl!”

Garnet's gems graze together uneasily as she clasps her hands, hugging her knees. She hasn't sat at Pearl's side like this since she was an infant of a gem, with untamed hair splotched with reds and blues, unsure of herself and looking to Pearl for strength. She was the terrifying renegade back then, untouchable and fierce, with a smouldering kindness underneath that the upper class Sapphire part of herself felt undeserving of, having interacted neutrally with dozens of pearls over the years, but never with the same respect she now held for Pearl herself.

Was she really happy, back then? Was her freedom to be the renegade her own? Or was it another twisted plan of Rose's – no, Pink Diamond's – to have Pearl play along, act out the part of a ruthless renegade by day and Pink Diamond's passive pearl by night? Not knowing how it was almost feels as sickening as not knowing at all. For her entire life, she'd never known the truth about Rose and Pearl. Now it feels even worse that she will know the worst of it, without ever knowing the full story.

“I wish it had been different,” Pearl says desperately. More tears are filling her eyes. “I wish I could have been honest with you. But I need you to know, I... I have always cherished the memories of the rebellion. I've always loved being your friend. The way that I felt about her too... it wasn't... Her that I loved. I loved Rose. I... I still do, most days.”

“But not today.”

“No, not today. Not after having to show Steven what happened, having to show him a completely unfiltered memory of mine just so he could know the truth about his own m-mother. Not after seeing your pain.”

Garnet lets out a shuddering breath, wipes her eyes.

“I made a promise a long time ago, to never ask questions. I broke it today. A five thousand year old promise.” She studies how Pearl's face crumples. “I swore to Rose that I wouldn't. And then Bismuth was hidden away from us forever, Pink Diamond was shattered, supposedly, and the diamonds corrupted all of our friends. I blindly trusted her for all of these years.”

“Garnet...”

“I thought she was someone who could never hurt me, but I was wrong,” Garnet continues bitterly. “I never saw that every time I was spared the pain of knowing, you were the one getting hurt.”

“I swear I didn't know about Bismuth,” Pearl cries, fists clenched so tightly they were beginning to turn blue at the knuckles. “I thought she'd been lost too, Garnet. Rose never told me about her.”

A memory resurfaces in Garnet's mind. Shortly before the hand ship arrived on Earth, a memory that had been pushed to the back of her mind after the intensity of the Homeworld invasion. A memory of Lion, of Rose's scabbard, and the way Pearl had cried.

“You were forced to keep her worst secrets. That's why Lion hurt so much.”

Pearl laughs wetly, an underlying bitterness there.

“Now I hope you understand why I was so angry. All those years, being the only one she trusted these secrets to, only to lose to a star-forsaken lion. Sometimes... I wonder if it was the case of her wanting to trust me, or if she had to because she couldn't control anyone else the way she did me. And I tell myself that's not it, that she loved me, that for a while at least, I was her world like she was mine. It's painful to think about the alternative.”

Garnet wishes she could comfort Pearl with the reassurance she needs. There have been many times since the rebellion when she would find Pearl desperately insecure over Rose's waning attention towards her in favour of some fancy new human. Every time Garnet has been able to tell her things are different, she's everything to Rose, things will return to normal soon. This time, Garnet can't get those words out even if she tries.

What does she know about Rose, really? In light of recent events, she can't naively tell Pearl she's overthinking things, that Rose loved her far more than the control she had. She can't pretend that Pearl is just being negative. With how long Rose has managed to fool her, it doesn't seem like a stretch that she could have fooled Pearl too.

Just knowing that hurts.

“She's not here anymore,” Garnet says quietly. “But you are. Whatever this is – this spell she used on you – we'll do what we can to break it. If we do, I hope you'll talk to me. I hope you'll say everything you wished you could have said to me.”

She reaches over, gently untangling Pearl from the bannister and pulling her close. Pearl's eyes are leaking steadily, and she can't even look Garnet in the eye.

“All I want to do is tell you the truth. About who she used to be... about how we fell in love. She loved the Earth, Garnet, and she loved the rebellion. I know that with certainty. I hope I can tell you the rest some day.”

“I hope so too.”

Garnet hugs Pearl's small body close, and realises she can't remember the last time they hugged like this; the last time it hurt so much just to be with her. She's fragile. She's afraid to go back inside and try to answer Steven's burning questions however she can, fruitless as it may be. She's terrified because nothing can ever go back to normal now. Garnet's scared too. If she knew today would be the last day they could spend in blissful ignorance she would have done something fun, like packed a picnic and warped them to the flower fields, or invited Greg over for a family games night.

It all feels very far away right now, as Pearl sits in her lap, wetting her shoulder with her tears, all five thousand years of them. They'll find normalcy again some day, as sure as the sun will rise again in a few hours time, but right now the uncertainty of the future unnerves Garnet.

They sit in the dark until the moon has risen, and Pearl is well and truly cried out. She looks worse for wear right now, and Garnet can only hope that letting it all out has helped her somehow.

“We should go back inside,” she murmurs. “Steven needs to sleep.”

“Amethyst put him to bed,” Garnet assures her, because even with how this new revelation has screwed over her future vision, she knows on a day like this Amethyst will have gladly stuck Steven in a typical routine, just for the sake of trying to retain some normality in their day. “Anything he wants to ask, we'll handle in the morning. Right now, I think we all need some rest.”

Pearl nods tiredly, scrubbing at her damp cheeks, and Garnet picks her up, carrying her to the temple as she holds on. Amethyst is sat on the lip of the bathtub when Garnet passes by, talking to Peridot in a low voice. She makes eye contact, concern bleeding into her expression, and Garnet doesn't even know what to say. She shakes her head (no questions for now, we'll save it for the morning), and continues on to the temple, setting Pearl down on one of her fountains.

“Thank you for trying to tell me,” she says softly, and Pearl's face crumples up once more.

“I'm sorry,” she bleats, in a watery voice. “I'm really sorry about Rose.”

This isn't about her omitting the truth. This is about something so crucial to them it hurts.

Garnet swipes her hand, her visor materialising once more, masking the pain in her eyes.

“Yeah. Me too.”