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The Question

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The first time Bismuth asked, she genuinely wanted to know. She hadn’t been in the Crystal Gems’ base for even five minutes, and she laid eyes on the Pearl polishing a spear. It was a beautiful, intricate weapon, and Bismuth couldn’t help but admire it. She wanted to compliment the gem who owned it right away, so she made her way over, leaning down to speak to her.
“Aren’t you a pretty little Pearl?” She complimented, flashing a crooked smile, and the Pearl looked up at her. The little gem’s face took on an uncertain expression, studying her with a poised hesitance. It wasn’t the patient and blank gaze she was used to receiving from Pearls awaiting orders. “Who do you belong to?”
The rage burning in her eyes was not at all what she expected.
“Nobody.” Pearl’s vitriolic words stabbed at the larger gem, and she threw the spear with the skill and dexterity of a practiced warrior. It lodged itself precisely into a nearby tree, piercing through a single leaf and pinning it to the trunk.
Bismuth got the message loud and clear.
The spear looked even better when it was aimed directly at her. She ducked out of the way, deflecting it with a hammerhand.
She knew the spar wouldn’t be easy, but she wasn’t giving up. The other gems cheered and taunted, and it was no secret that most of the bets were in the little Pearl’s favor.
The renegade, they call her.
Bismuth charged forward, preparing to slam her hammer down on her, but she leapt out of the way, graceful as ever, and her foot fanned over her as she twirled to collide painfully right into the larger gem’s jaw.
She beamed even as she staggered backwards, and a groan of sympathy came from the crowd. Somehow she was sure she wasn’t the only one to be caught off guard by her opponent’s balletic blows.
“Oof, almost got me there, sweetheart. Hey, someone needs to control their Pearl!” She shouted, making the gathered gems hoot and holler. When she looked back at Pearl, the little gem was biting back a smile, even though the challenge in her eyes was still as deadly as ever.
“Who do you belong to?” Bismuth made a show of leaning on her hammer arm, feigning exasperation. Pearl took the opportunity to pull two more spears from her gem, pirouetting in a flourish of her weapons.
“Nobody!” She cried, and the cheers were deafening as she ran forward for another attack.
The torch Pearl carried for Rose clearly wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The renegade was fierce in her own right, of course; always so brave during combat, and her sharp wit and endearing eccentricity made her a favorite of even the most battle-hardened gems. The only time she ever acted like a common Pearl (or, Bismuth supposed, the way Homeworld expected Pearls to behave) was around Rose Quartz.
There was something just a bit sad about watching Pearl acquiesce every little offhanded comment Rose made, how willing and ready she was to be at her beck and call.
On Homeworld, that would have been all she’d ever known.
Would she have been happy?
Bismuth caught Pearl’s arm as she walked by, on her way to fetch something from Rose’s room for her.
“Hey.” Her voice was hushed, and her eyes held a true question in them, beyond the one spoken. “Who do you belong to?”
Pearl had never hesitated before, but now her eyes flicked down, and Bismuth might have said she saw a scintilla of shame dancing in those pretty blues. When their gaze met again, she was resolute.
“Nobody.” Her voice was a firm whisper, but she couldn’t keep it from shaking.
If nothing else, she was grateful to explore Pearl’s strength in such a recreational way. Warm kisses peppered across the little gem’s jawline, ghosting down the hollow of her throat and cascading over her sternum. Gone was the untouchable renegade; her fire transformed into another kind of intensity altogether, hotter than any forge Bismuth has ever been in. Pearl’s sharp edges did not soften but no longer threaten to pierce, and she became a being of smooth skin and slender muscle and breathy sighs. Witnessing her at such ease, being the gem that made her toes curl and her back arch, was terribly alluring. Bismuth continued her leisurely travel south, and Pearl gasped when teeth scrape tauntingly over the softness of her stomach.
“Who do you belong to?” Bismuth had found her place, but it seemed Pearl knew hers had not changed.
“Nobody.” She whispered, as her fingers threaded through brightly colored dreadlocks.
Bismuth knew the answer, but that didn’t stop her from asking. It became a dance nearly as elegant as any of Pearl’s, and rehearsal never made it lose its novelty. In fact, it achieved quite the opposite. Sometimes it seemed Pearl was itching to be asked, was waiting impatiently for her triumphant shout and defiant spark. It invigorated her, and she invigorated Bismuth.
Now the battle was not just a friendly spar; the Homeworld soldiers were coming at them left and right, and for a moment, Bismuth lost sight of the renegade.
Swinging her weapon wildly to make her opponent stagger backwards, even just for a moment, she searched the battlefield.
There she was, in all her grace and glory, locked in combat with a gem three times her size. Bismuth grinned- that poor sap didn’t stand a chance.
She slammed her hammerhand into her opponent’s temple, and a poof of smoke indicated that she’d won. She looked up just in time to see Pearl’s spear bury itself into the other gem’s ribcage, sending her down hard to her knees before she met the same fate.
“Great move, darlin’!” Bismuth crowed, cupping her free hand around her mouth so Pearl could hear her at a distance. Pearl’s eyes were on her immediately, and she waited, her brows taking on an expectant tilt.
“Who do you belong to, anyway?” Bismuth loved to ask because Pearl loved to answer. With an illuminating smile, the renegade punched the air.