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"Isn't it comfortable, being bubbled?" Lapis asks. "Time doesn't pass, so you don't get bored. Nothing hurts. You don't wonder about your life. You don't fear for the future."

Jasper is still regenerating, still a sharp gem who can't answer back, but Lapis knows she can hear. She herself heard enough, during the centuries she was trapped in the mirror.

When Jasper does come back, there will be a solid cage around her. Peridot made it, so it should resist even the corrupted Jasper's strength.

"But now that comfort has ended for you, and you will have to decide," Lapis continues. "You wanted to fuse with me again. Will you pay the price? I certainly won't fuse with a corrupted gem, so you'll have to exert yourself for this."

Lapis almost feels wrong abusing Steven's good heart. Steven saw Jasper begging her, so when Lapis said she could try to help with the corruption if they gave her Jasper's gem, he saw it as a very natural demand. Lapis is not even sure all the other Crystal Gems know.

She needs Jasper, and so she will heal her, if she can. Because when she thinks about the Diamonds coming, she wants to scream and flee this planet forever. Except when she sees herself as Malachite. A Malachite that she controls, with Jasper's strength and anger, and her own will.

And she would do anything to get that. Because she won't leave her friends, and they won't follow her. And maybe if she's good enough at convincing the others it's for the greater good, she can convince herself too. She was actually sure of it, when she talked to Steven and Peridot. But now that she's alone with Jasper, her worst impulses flare up again.

"I know you can hear me, but maybe you're scared of me?" she taunts. "Or maybe you're too weak to regenerate fast. I could understand that. You've been through a lot. Of course, I'd be... agreeably surprised if it’s taking you so long only because you're fighting the corruption. If you appear before me as yourself. Can you do that?"

She doesn't really believe it will happen, though. Maybe Jasper will regenerate and spit in her face and say she no longer wants her. But that's the worst that could happen, and it couldn't make the situation harder than it already is for Lapis. If Jasper can't be convinced by logic, she will just be bubbled again. It's not like Lapis really cares about her feelings.

She doesn't like Jasper. She just understands her better and better, and that's not the same thing.

Finally, there's a bright light, and Jasper is here. Lapis takes her time looking at her dispassionately. She looks mostly like herself, the right shape and color, with a few blue stripes. Steven drooled on her all he could, and now, the only thing left to fix is her mind.

Jasper glares at the cage with fury. Lapis didn't mention it, now that she thinks about it. But Jasper deserves some bad surprises too.

"So, how are you?" she asks, in a cold, contained voice.

"Why did you put me in this cage?" Jasper screams. "Why didn't you free me?"

"Because I didn't know if you'd be yourself, or a monster. You're doing okay, I guess. Maybe I'll let you out." She looks into Jasper's eyes with a haughty look, and sees her shiver.

"You'd really get back with me?" Her voice is brutal, but there's despair in it.

"I wonder," Lapis says. "I thought you wanted me. But when you wanted to fuse with someone, you just took any lowly gem, so was it ever really about me?"

"You know how you made me feel!" Jasper spits.

Lapis is not sure she knows. When they were Malachite, it was not a real fusion where they felt the same things. They fought. She was actually surprised when Jasper asked her to do it again. It felt good, of course, but only for her, she had thought? Also, it was so tiring.

"So, explain what you did with this thing, that turned you into a monster," Lapis asks.

"I just wanted to be strong!" Jasper screams. "With you, it's not the same, I want to, I want to... I want to be yours."

"I want that too," Lapis says. "But I won't fuse with you when you're like this. So I'll have you another way, as it's done on this planet." It's wrong and it's dirty and she wants it so much. She wants it almost as much as being Malachite again. "Come here."

"I have no idea what you're talking about!"

"Stop lying!"

She loves this. The harshness, the control. And worse, she is getting used to loving it. Not only does she expects it, she relishes it. It's not what she usually is, but it makes everything so much easier. And, she hopes, it will make her able to be nicer to her friends, concentrating all the evil things in her into hurting Jasper. She can’t be entirely good, but she can still have control over her life.

"I mean, why should I do what you say?"

"Because you want me. If you manage to overcome this corruption, I'll promise to be Malachite again. And because you're not a coward, are you?"

And Jasper slowly approaches her from the other side of the bars. She looks wary, and angry, but she still obeys.

Lapis feels almost safe when she slips her hand between the bars, and puts her fingers on Jasper's muscular thigh. And once she made her feel it, the niceness and the insufficiency of this touch, she rubs her hand merciless between her legs.

"Stop that!" Jasper says, shocked. "It's dirty."

"Well, you said the same thing about fusion before." Actually, it is a bit dirty, all wet and sticky, but it will defile Jasper more than her. Make her submit.

Jasper could easily crush her hand between her thighs. She doesn't even pretend to try. She stays motionless, shivering in shameful pleasure.

"Stop!" she says again. It's more a plea than an order, this time.

"Your corruption is dirty," Lapis objects. "What I'm doing to you is good. Focus on me. Forget that you ever shared yourself with someone else. Or better, think about it, then reject the idea in disgust, and then forget it." Jasper moans. "Yes, that's good."

"It is not! What are you doing to me?"

"Can't you just assume I'm right this time too? I'm helping you. I'm purifying you."

The corruption is only psychological, she knows, it hasn't left marks that can't be washed away. She just has to make Jasper sure that it's no longer there. She needs to be shocked, destroyed and remade, more deeply than destroying her light form did.

There are probably other ways, but she feels that this one is faster. Jasper doesn't respond well to niceness. And if in the same way, she can make her easier to mold to her whims, even better.

Finally Jasper ends in a shudder, like an earthquake. She has to hold on to the bars of the cage, because her legs are failing her. Lapis is just a little bit disappointed not to see her kneel again.

She raises her soiled hand and brings it to Jasper's lips. And Jasper kisses her hand.

"Lick," she orders. She has been on this planet too long, watched too many shows. She's too used seeing others play with human bodily functions, even if it's still alien to her. But at least she knows.

And Jasper does lick her hand, shivering, maybe in disgust, maybe in fascination.

Lapis strokes her cheek, then studies her and is pleased to see that the blue marks have withdrawn. There are a few small blue spots left, though.

"This is not good." she says, pointing at the blue marks. "What do you want?"

Jasper looks at her angrily. "You know that. I want you."

"You have me. You have more than you deserve."

"Not like this. I want Malachite." There's despair in her voice, and shame, and need.

"You know what? I’m going to give you a little time. Concentrate. Get rid of this. If you can, I'll free you and give you what you want, for a little while, and see how you manage. If it isn't enough, I guess we can try again."

She leaves Jasper in the cage. Her heart is beating fast. Her plan is working, she thinks. She will win. She won't have to leave Earth. She can even help to save it, for Steven and the others.

Maybe Jasper will even succeed and be ripe for fusion, after the few hours she has given her. Part of Lapis hopes she can play with her at least one more time first.