A light rain fell as Steven hugged his friend goodnight.
She had to admit, it felt nice. She deeply missed the feeling of being wrapped in the arms of someone she cared about. Nobody but herself had been able to hug her for the last 5,000 years. She hugged him back, savoring the moment. Maybe it kept away unpleasant 'dreams,' Steven had called them. Compilations of thoughts create sometimes lifelike scenarios during sleep.
"'Night, Bismuth." The child said.
"Night, Steven." She replied. Steven ascended the stairs to his bed and crawled into it. The gem wrapped herself up in the blanket the boy had provided, and laid her head on the pillow. No wonder humans liked doing this daily. It felt so nice, like a hug, but even better.
She closed her eyes, enjoying the comfort the blanket provided. Soon enough, she found sleep.
Unfortunately, it did not last long. She awoke to absolute nothingness. Her feet were planted on nothing, yet she still stood upright with solid ground under them.
Is this a dream?
She started to walk, nervous energy filling up her mind. No matter where she walked, nothing.
Then the black turned to red.
The ground turned to grass.
She heard the screams of her enemies and her allies as gems sliced their opponents in two or through their midsections. She heard the cracking of gems and the falling of their shards to the ground. She felt a prick in her foot as she stepped onto a dark green shard.
And then she saw her. A Rose Quartz reaching out to her, seemingly cornered. Bismuth ran toward her leader as fast as her legs would carry her...
But she couldn't keep going. She collapsed onto her knees, to watch Rose poof every gem in stabbing distance. Then Rose grabbed her soldier's hands, pulling her off of the dirt and into her arms. She resisted the urge to break down in tears, although Rose wouldn't have minded anyway.
"It's alright, it's alright..." Rose repeated softly, as she held her sword over Bismuth's back. A sharp pain ran through her as Rose jammed the sword through her body. She looked up, horrified, at Rose's smiling face. Her form disappeared, and she felt the haunting, familiar sensation of being inside of her gem. She was trapped in a prison of rainbow metal. She tried to reform. No luck. Nothing worked.
Let me out of here!
She recognized the claustrophobic sensation of the bubble that was most likely surrounding her gem. Though she did not need to breathe, it grew increasingly difficult as she wondered if it was real or not. She didn't like this dream thing anymore. She wanted to wake up. But she was stuck.
This is reality.
The semblance of a body she had left curled up inside of the gemstone and wept until a voice broke through the familiar sound barrier.
"Bismuth! Please, wake up!"
Bismuth sat up, feeling for her gem. Only the dark, quiet house and the noise of the rain remained. She looked over to find Steven coming at her face with a chubby hand, ready to wipe away her tears. How did he even know? Her hand brushed against his as she reached for her face. Teardrops wet her hand.
"When a gem dreams," Steven explained, "it projects from their gem... Is that what it felt like being bubbled? Just... an endless cycle of waiting and pain?"
Steven's eyes shimmered with tears. The maternal instinct she didn't know she had drove her hand to wipe the child's eyes.
"Steven..." Bismuth sighed, inviting him to sit next to her. "It's honestly... just that simple. You can't hear anything but yourself, you can't see anything but the coloring of your gem. There's not really much to do. You'll scream and nobody will hear you... You just... wait and wonder if you'll ever get out."
"So... you just sat there for 5,000 years?"
She let out a pained groan. "Almost every second... I just... kinda cried. It was the only thing I knew I could do, it was just... s-so lonely... Better yet, nobody would see it. After everything, during the war... It was kinda refreshing to get an opportunity to just let it out of my system. I just... wish maybe, just maybe, that there was a shoulder besides mine to do it on."
"Y-you... How could you live like that?"
"It wasn't a matter of changing anything. I just had to wait until somebody came for me. And if I could have done something else besides cryin' my eyes out 24/7... I think I would've done it. When I knew it was popped, I didn't even know what I was gonna reform to... Heck, I could have reformed to a trial room in front of the Diamonds or something. I was just happy to be out. Anything would have been better than that. All that matters right now is that at least for now, it's over. Now you people get to watch me be all depressed, don't ya now?" She ruffled Steven's hair, both of them chuckling at her little self-deprecating joke. It wouldn't have been funny any other time, the two just needed something to laugh at.
"Do you think you could go back to sleep after that?" Steven queried, concern laced in his tone.
"That... doesn't seem like the greatest idea right about now. Maybe I just need a bit of fresh air." Bismuth stood, scooping the tired child up in her arms. "Meanwhile, somebody else better get some shut-eye." She set him down in his bed, pulling the blanket over him.
"Goodnight... again." He whispered.
"Have yourself some nicer dreams than mine, kid."
She left the child to rest, and quietly made her way outside, reassured by the sand under her feet that this wasn't another bad dream. She agreed with herself that sleep wasn't for her. Nor was food, in her opinion. Everything she'd experienced over such a short time was so strange and new.
She could barely see anything in the darkness, but she didn't mind too much. She simply stood on the beach, feeling the sea breeze and the sand. She was free.