Pearl talked to mirrors. Any time she passed one, any chance she got. This was because seeing two of herself made her more comfortable with the idea that… well, now she really had two of herself.
It had been six weeks since her personality had been split in two — each side becoming its own unique half-Gem. And while they were refused for the moment and Pearl was whole once again, the situation remained delicate at best.
Pearl laid her hand against the full-length mirror in the living room. She stroked its smooth surface and lowered her head, staring at the reflection of her own feet.
“We can’t harbor this fury forever,” she whispered. That was her knowledgable half talking — beautiful, intelligent, but delicate. The Sea Glass. The other half of Pearl was the thorny, emotional half. The Coral. And Coral lowered her head to no one.
Pearl’s chin jerked up, her face twisting into a snarl. “Sure we can,” she said. “Because Amethyst and Peridot deserve it.”
Pearl’s eyes fell. “They didn’t mean to do anything wrong. They only meant to protect us.”
“Amethyst, maybe. But if Peridot had told us what Homeworld technology could do, we wouldn’t be in this predicament!”
“If we had trusted her and not gone prodding around in that room alone, we wouldn’t be in this predicament!”
Pearl gave out of a yell and summoned a weapon — a dagger. Without thinking, she trust it into the mirror. The effect was beautifully destructive. Cracks spidered out from the impact point, forming a web of lines that sent glittering specks of glass floating to the floorboards like razor-sharp snowflakes.
Pearl heaved with the effort of her attack on the inanimate object, and rather than trying to yank the dagger out of the mirror, she dismissed it from existence. The hunks of glass that it had been holding in place fell down with a less-than-satisfying crash. Steven’s footsteps hurried up the front porch.
“Hey, is everything–” he began to ask, opening the door. He looked at the mess on the floor, Pearl’s position in front of the destroyed mirror, and shook his head sadly.
“That’s the last one,” he said. “I mean, the TV’s still intact, and I guess you could still see your reflection in that if you…” His eyes went wide. “No, forget I said that! Let the TV live!” He scurried upstairs to protect his prized possession. Pearl wasn’t upset to see him go. She was embarrassed enough to be acting like this in front of him to begin with.
With the thumping of Steven’s footsteps up the stairs, Pearl sunk down in the sea of glass shards and covered her face with her hands.
Why? part of her asked, why can’t I let this anger go?
She looked up at the ceiling, waiting for the other half of her to inevitably answer. Because I’m afraid. I’m afraid that letting any little offense go will show I’m weak. I don’t want to be that cowering servant again. I can’t go back to that.
“Hey, Pearl,” Steven called from the loft. Of course he still worried about her. He was Steven. He worried about everyone.
“This is… just an observation,” he said nervously, halfway hidden by the railing. “But sometimes it feels like you’re trying to be two people at once. Walk two paths, you know? But you’re not split anymore. You’re refused.”
She tried to smile up at him, but it must have looked more like a grimace, because he rubbed the back of his head and let out an awkward laugh. “Anyways, um… I’m gonna watch a show now.” He ducked out of sight.
Pearl heard the clatter of the remote as Steven fumbled with it, then the dull background noise of incessant commercial jingles. She picked up one of the larger pieces of glass and turned it this way and that, trying to glimpse her reflection. The piece couldn’t catch her whole face, however, so she instead held it in such a way that she could see both gems on her forehead.
Steven was right, even if he didn’t realize how or why. She’d been trying all this time to go down two different paths at once. But life couldn’t work like that. If she didn’t make a decision, she was going to tear herself apart.
“Thanks for the talk,” she whispered, even though she knew Steven couldn’t hear. “I know what I have to do now.”
“And this is for you!”
Amethyst plopped something very large and heavy on Pearl’s lap. In normal circumstances, Pearl might have wondered if Amethyst was demonstrating the dangers of books by attempting to poof Pearl with the sheer weight of one. However, given the delicate state of their friendship lately, she had to at least assume that Amethyst’s gift had good intentions. Pearl looked down at her lap and ran her fingers along the book’s crips olive green binding. There was a square on the front cover into which Amethyst had slipped a photo of Rose Quartz — something that looked like it had been taken at one of those carnival photo booths.
A photo book. Wonderful. Pearl’s stomach turned. Amethyst’s thoughts were nice, but they didn’t change the fact that without her memories, photos of Rose Quartz didn’t mean much to Pearl, other than remind her of what Rose had looked like. And, of course, what she’d lost.
Still, she had had promised herself that she would at least attempt to mend things with Amethyst, and it would be impolite to put the book aside without even looking at it. So Pearl summoned her energy and cracked open the cover. Her eyes widened. She flipped through page after page, but it wasn’t the photos that fascinated her. In fact, for the thickness of book, it didn’t contain that many photos at all. But next to the ones it did have, there was at least half a page of writing. Amethyst had written, in every detail she could remember, all that had happened in each event pictured. Most of her words focused on what Pearl and Rose were doing and of course it had her own unique narration, “Note the joyful smile on Rose’s face as she enjoys an ice cream cone while Pearl holds to her opinion that awesome things are disgusting.”
Pearl sat there, she had no idea how long, reading over every detail, trying to etch back in her mind the events that had been pulled out. Amethyst, despite her typical impatience, sat and watched her in silence, swinging her legs and bumping the coffee table now and again, but otherwise, remaining silent.
“How long did this take you?” Pearl finally asked when she reached the last page.
“Oh, years,” Amethyst said, waving her off. “I pretty much started making it as soon as you and I met because I figured someday I’d really hack you off and then I’d need a way to apologize.” Pearl rolled her eyes, which made Amethyst grin widely. “A few weeks. Vadalia helped a lot. Most of the photos were hers.”
Pearl stiffened up a bit at this, and Amethyst quickly clarified, “I didn’t give her any details about why I needed them. Just said I was making something.”
Relief poured over Pearl, and her shoulders dropped. She could see the frustration creep into Amethyst’s face.
“Y’know, you shouldn’t be so embarrassed about telling people you’re a fusion now. It wasn’t like it was your fault,” she said. “You even tell Greg yet? Or Lapis?”
“No, and I don’t plan to!” Pearl snapped.
Amethyst crossed her arms. “I’m sorry, I know it’s none of my business,” she said. “But you’re gonna have to tell them sometime. You can’t keep using shapeshifting to hide your second gem like that.” She poked Pearl in the middle of the forehead, where there appeared to be a single gem. Her two real gems she had cleverly hidden in the projection of her hair when Greg had visited a few hours before.
Pearl sighed and released the illusion, reverting back to her form that left both gems on her forehead visible. Amethyst was right, of course. In fact, Pearl had always been the one to complain that Amethyst would hurt herself one day overusing shapeshifting the way she did. But the truth was, Pearl didn’t shapeshift purely to hide her re-fused state from Lapis or Greg. She did it because it helped her pretend that things had gone back to normal. That she was still a single Gem and not two half-Gems that still struggled to get along.
“Sorry,” Amethyst said again. “Arg, this was supposed to be about me doing something nice for you, and it turned into me bugging you all over again.”
“No, no, no,” Pearl said, and the book almost slipped off her lap, She grasped it quickly, and put it safely on the coffee table. “Amethyst, this means a lot to me. Really. Thank you.” She attempted a genuine smile, and to her surprise, it wasn’t that hard to summon. Whatever Amethyst had done, she had done it with the intent to save Pearl’s life. She couldn’t hold that against her. Not really. Despite all its flaws and frustrations, their friendship was stronger than that.
“I’m… I’m not angry with you,” Pearl finally said. Amethyst looked at her, and Pearl knew there was no need to clarify. It was time to start moving on.
Meanwhile, on Homeworld…
The yellow Pearl knew her place and was perfectly content with it. Delighted, even. Of course, she wasn’t just any Pearl. She was a Pearl belonging to the great Yellow Diamond. Were there other Pearls who could also claim this honor? Of course. But very few. On occasion, she even got to tell off a few Gems that most Pearls could never speak up against. She was an extension of her owner. And there was no better way for her owner to say, “You are not worth my time” than to send a message via her favorite household accessory.
“Yes, yes, put it there,” she heard Yellow Diamond saying from the next room. Apparently, some sort of delivery had arrived. The yellow Pearl twisted her fingers nervously. Her Diamond hadn’t called on her once this whole morning. She was starting to wonder if she’d done something wrong. But Yellow Diamond was never subtle about such things. If Pearl stepped out of line, she knew in an instant. Not that she ever stepped out of line.
“Exquisite,” came Yellow Diamond’s voice again, followed by another Gem’s voice that the Pearl couldn’t quite make out.
“Yes, yes, it’s in the next room,” Yellow Diamond said dismissively. Pearl stiffened. They can’t be talking about me, can they? She had a very uneasy feeling about what sort of delivery had just been made.
The other Gem’s voice spoke again, this time with some sort of question.
“No, no, don’t shatter that one,” Yellow Diamond replied. “I’m gifting it to a Nephrite that’s taking a mission out to Earth. It can get the coordinates from the home system.”
The yellow Pearl felt panic seizing her. She quickly hurried to the nearest console and placed her tiny hand inside. Information flowed into her, dates, logs, notes of all sorts. And the most recently added item was her worst nightmare come true:
Log date: 7 15 4
Scheduled delivery: Pearl, Facet-8H2T, Cut-4SY
Scheduled removal: Pearl, Facet-8H2T, Cut-4SA
The information on her new owner was there, too, but Pearl couldn’t bear to look at it. Of course, she knew she could go out of style at any point. But this quickly? With no warning? How long before higher-up Gems no longer gifted her to someone lower but disposed of her instead?
Being gifted to a Nephrite already… that was already sinking a bit low.
The yellow Pearl hugged herself as the sound of a larger Gem’s footsteps approached the room. She couldn’t even raise her head to see who was taking her away. One thought replayed itself in her head, and it paralyzed her: I’m no longer wanted by Yellow Diamond. I’m being replaced.