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Seven Nights With Malachite

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On the first night, Steven was nervous.

 

Or... Perhaps that wasn't quite the right word. Steven was nervous about this plan of his, certainly, willing himself back towards the mindscape through which he could communicate with Lapis. But as he slipped outside of his dream, off of Dream Lars' shoulders and into the dark void between his mind and the spiteful fusion's, and he saw the white-maned portal to Malachite's mind, Steven found himself struggling to move forward. The unhealthy fusion's mere presence was, quite frankly, terrifying. As much as he hated to admit it, Steven was scared by the sight of it alone. As he looked forward nervously at the swaying mane, the youngest of the Crystal Gems couldn't help but recall Malachite's birth – and the recollections were vivid .

Steven remembered the beach, littered with the rubble of the Emerald Hand that had brought the Homeworld Gems to Earth – that he and the others had been forced onto, and that would've been their grave, had he not shielded them during the crash... He could remember the sight and smell of the flaming wreckage, how the sickly green flames and the pillars of smoke choked his lungs, made his eyes (one of which had already swollen up and blackened at that point) sting, how it turned the coastal scene at sunset an uncomfortable, eerie pink. He remembered the feeling of helplessness as he struggled in Amethyst’s arms at first, desperate to reach a hurt Lapis, remembered the fear he felt when he and his family had barely survived, only to meet Jasper again. Jasper the invader, the root of this mess. Steven couldn't forget the violent fury in her eyes, the way she stared at them – at he and Garnet, in particular – with such malice, the fact that even after Garnet fought her off, even after the crash, she still kept on and had the strength to wrench Lapis Lazuli out of the air...

Just the way Jasper held his friend, the way she spoke to Lapis, that mad look in Jasper's eyes as she tore her way out of the wreckage, cast in the light of the flames, all of it made Steven shiver. And that grin on Jasper's face when Lapis outstretched her hand, and when the fusion began? Steven still saw it when he closed his eyes, some nights. And then there was Malachite herself: Massive, brimming with hatred and frustration, and powerful. Steven hadn't forgotten how strong Lapis was, how she was able to subdue Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl so soundly, how she was able to take the entire ocean and move it – and how even now, she kept her fusion buried under the weight of Earth's seas. Add that to Jasper's raw physical strength and... None of them could've stopped Malachite. As horrifying as it was to see Lapis drag them both under the ocean, with Malachite clawing furiously at the sands the whole way, it was a relief to know that the battle was avoided, however narrowly.

Malachite stirred, bringing Steven back into the present. The billowing white mane of the malicious fusion shifted, as though she were turning towards him. He scrambled to stay behind her as Malachite seemed to trot around in a circle. He noticed that the fusion's steps were heavy, labored, and slow – as though a heavy weight was pressing down on her back.

 

Lapis still had control, at least. That was a good sign.

 

Steven drew closer to the hair-portal, once Malachite had settled down. He stretched his hand out, to touch the fusion's head and enter Malachite's mindscape – but paused. Steven held himself back, nervous, and drew away, only to float back to the threshold time and time again. After the fifth attempt, he realized his fear, and drew away. Malachite didn't notice him, trapped in an endless mental tug-of-war between Lapis and Jasper. As Steven hid behind a large chunk of dream-debris (looked like... One of Amethyst’s junk piles?), Malachite bucked and strained against her invisible chains, and she growled to what she thought was a black, empty sea.

 

The first night, Steven just watched, until he awoke.