Nothing to see here besides chapter 3 ;P
I'm now making a rule of no more pre-chapter A/N's. They distract from and hold up the story, IMO.
"So... How about that explanation?" Amethyst stated expectantly, turning slightly to face me front on as she crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. A chill ran up my spine and I was immediately filled with a mixture of trepidation and unease. I wasn't scared of Amethyst, really, but more of how she and the others would take it.
What the heck was I supposed to really SAY in this situation? I didn't want to lie to them, especially after coming clean about what happened in the first place, but it's not exactly like I could just say 'Hey, you're all from a friggin cartoon about Steven's life! It's like Little Butler for you, don't worry.' *sarcastic :P face*
I cringed immediately and tried to think of an alternate way out of this, something I could come up with or some kind of excuse to give to either put it off or hang it up entirely. But I couldn't. Amethyst's presence, despite her meager 4-foot-tall stature, was stifling in the solitary environment of Steven's house. Her impatient foot tapping to mark the time wasn't making it any easier, either.
"Well?" The small Quartz piped up after several seconds of my tense silence, her foot stopping as she broke the awkward tension.
"Amethyst, I can't." I told her, my chest feeling heavy at the weight of reality. My eyes betrayed me by trying to well up with tears behind the scenes.
"Can't or won't?" She quipped, getting a little more than just impatient with me, now. "You come out of nowhere, IN Steven's body, know our names and who knows what else about us and you just expect me -or Garnet or Pearl for that matter- to just let it go because you 'can't' tell us?" Amethyst lectured scathingly, a bitter taste forming in my mouth -like eating a battery or a bunch of coins- as I was procedurally backed further into a corner.
"I SHOULDN'T!" I stopped her, the difference from my previous word giving her a pause enough for me to elaborate a bit. "Gahh! It's not even that I can't or won't! It would be almost too easy just TO say it. I want to, Amethyst, I do, but because of what it is, I shouldn't." I explained, pulling back the intensity in my voice as my fear returned and I clammed up a bit again. "It's... wrong... It would be too much. Too unsettling..." I add, letting my actual feelings on the subject come out. Though, in hindsight, I suppose I was taking the decision away from them. The good ole' "I know better for you" and "It's for your own good" arguments.
"So, what? You don't trust us to handle the truth?" Amethyst cracked, the tension in her voice palpable in the air. And she wasn't entirely wrong, either.
"No! I just don't want to deal with the fallout! I don't want to complicate things or make something worse. There's enough CRAP in my life, Amethyst, I don't need more! I just want to enjoy something for once!" I blurted, those stupid tear ducts of mine -err, Steven's- betraying me at the last second.
The stillness left over in the room was only interrupted by the distant sound of waves and the gentle breeze of the salty afternoon wind to accompany the radiant heat of the sun reflecting off the sand down below. Amethyst stood in a sort of aggressive but defensive pose, trying to appear stoic and hardheaded to me but it didn't last. The next thirty seconds I spent sniffling and trying to get my eyes to dry up were matched with Amethyst's expression and posture slowly melting and smoothing out as she saw the sincerity in my emotions.
In a way, we were obviously alike, and she seemed to cave to the sympathy and empathy she must've felt due to her own life being trying at times. I knew pretty much every one of those times from recent history, but that wasn't extremely relevant at the moment.
Finally, the purple gem sighed, stepping back fully from her stance and averting her eyes sideways. "Fine. I won't push. But Garnet and Pearl are gonna want answers, as well as anyone else that finds out..." She explained, the throbbing in my chest easing slightly as she gave up. "Is there anything you can say?" Amethyst asked.
That, at first, seemed difficult. What COULD I or SHOULD I come up with? That I knew them and we were friends? That I was from a future or past timeline? Maybe I read about them in history?
"W-well... I know all of you? But.. None of you know me... Could I even really put it like that?" I questioned myself out loud, sniffling again as the waterworks ceased. "No... Maybe it's more like I feel as if I know you, since, well... I never actually meet or have met you guys until now." I tell her, earning a scoff, an eye roll, and a half growl from Amethyst.
"You know what? Nevermind. This isn't funny anymore, Steven." Amethyst stated, noticeably vexed with me all of a sudden as she crossed her arms.
"Wait, what? Steven? I thought you listened to me..." I replied, a little hurt and perplexed.
"Yeah, well I'm starting to wonder WHY. Or at least why I didn't call it out when Garnet and Pearl left." She went on, pausing to huff before continuing. "I mean, come ON! This is stupid! How could it have been 'funny' at all!?" The compact quartz continued.
"It's NOT, this is serious, Amethyst. I'M serious!" I retorted harsly, getting quickly annoyed at her flip flop. And to think, she was being so nice, she even stood up for me. Did she really think it was all fake the whole time? Did something meld her mind for the hour that I've been around only to wear off now so she, and probably the other gems, can supposedly 'come to their senses' like this?
"Would you just cut it OUT already!? OF COURSE it's 'serious', Steven! You already have Garnet and Pearl out in SPACE again looking for some stupid thing that probably didn't even happen in the first place! That light was probably just one of those dumb rubies poofing!" Amethyst barked, on the verge of hysterical and obviously battling me for this.
"Oh, really. Because gems make LIGHT when they poof and not smoke. Or is it dust? I'm not entirely fucking sure since it's never explicitly stated on THE GODDAMN SHOW!" I snarked back, turning the last part into a shout as well as punctuating all of the last three words.
Amethyst was taken aback for a split second, probably shocked that I -or "Steven"- had now said TWO curses in a row. In the same sentence. Either way, she quickly recovered and after a moment of flustered stuttering blurted out "What show!?"
"Oh, gee, I don't know tiny tike, the show you all come from. The show in MY realm that I admire. The show originally created by Rebecca Sugar, with voice talent of Estelle, Michaela Dietz, and Deedee Magno Hall, who are Garnet, You, and Pearl, respectively. The show literally named after its main character; Steven Universe!" By now I was fuming on the inside with only my sarcasm and frustration to show on the outside. I could feel my borrowed tear ducts wanting to betray me again as they always did. I seemed to still have that stupid defect where I cried when I got too angry. What a loser that must make me look like...
Amethyst was at a complete and total loss by now, looking at me as though I had literally lost my mind. Which was technically true, the only way it wouldn't be would be if whatever brought me here literally put my brain inside Steven's head like when Timmy Turner swapped minds with a dog in that one Fairly Oddparents episode. I highly doubt that's the case here, though.
Anyway, her astounded look didn't last long as the overcooked Amethyst quickly changed to aggravatedly trying to strangle the air while grinding her teeth and making some kind of cross between a grunt and a growl at me. "THAT'S IT, I'M OUT!" She suddenly barked, throwing both arms up into the air in exasperation as she stalked towards the temple door, said entryway opening to her room as she turned around from just inside and leveled and angry glare at me with crossed arms. "You can deal with Garnet and Pearl yourself! I'm not helping!"
And with that, the door shut and she was no longer there.
As the air stilled and my eyes dried, I realized I was holding a tense breath and two balled fists at my sides. Blinking at once, I forcefully relaxed my grip and tried to de-tense the muscles in this borrowed body of mine while exhaling the air to try aiding that process. 'This is FUCKED!' I thought angrily, despite trying to decompress just a second ago. 'Man, forget this. I'm not sticking around here. They can come find me when their oh so great collaborative fucking effort can either figure this all out or decide to not be aggro anymore.' I mentally huffed, turning around and heading towards the door before stopping to check the pockets in the pants I was wearing.
'Phone, wallet, a key. Great. Almost like I'm in my OWN body. Only half the height and NONE of the familiarity...' I quipped mentally, turning just to get a quick glance at any possibly 'common areas' where money might be. 'Huh. Top of the fridge. Figures...' I mused, walking over and jumping up to the top of said appliance and snatching the jar there before I fell back down.
I quickly unscrewed the lid and took out the thirteen dollars and twenty-seven cents that was in it, not even bothering to really notice or care how different the money looked and stuffing it in the left pocket of Steven's pants. Screwing the lid back on and leaving it on the counter, I half-stalked right out the door and down the stairs. If I had to leave to get peace, then I was getting something while I was out.
Gems be damned. I'm not gonna be a prisoner.
Not to anger, not to distrust, not to this world, and not to this body...
Space. The empty decrepit vacuum of mostly nothingness that was somehow so vast that even DESPITE the vacancy, it still housed BILLIONS of galaxies, which housed TRILLIONS of stars, which supported QUADRILLIONS of planets. Probably more. And with the fact that this was only one of MANY universes, timelines, and realms, the number of all of the aforementioned bodies and gatherings was literally both limitless and inconceivable.
Of course, for the two alien beings inside of the small red ship just out of reach of Earth's orbit, they weren't quite entirely aware of that fact, yet. Nor would they be focused on it if they were. No, Garnet and Pearl already had priorities in mind. They were out here looking for Steven's bubble. Or, at rather, where it USED to be since they already picked him up.
With him claiming to be someone else after recovering from a near death experience.
Steven almost dying in space was frightening enough, but to have him wake up with abnormal memories followed by immediately CURSING -of all things- that he was inside of himself and then claiming to be someone else was off of the crazy SCALE!
And then, they just ACCEPTED IT! LIKE THAT!
How could they!? How was it even POSSIBLE that they just went along with something so brash, something so neurotic and unstable? They just flew back to earth like that was the new reality, and then flew back out to try to find the REASON it happened!
As if the reason was just SITTING THERE, right where it WAS! Right where HE was! Was what they saw even what they first assumed it was? Amethyst SAID it was a light... Or was that Garnet?
Pearl couldn't decide anymore. Too much was running through her head too quickly for her to really make sense of it all and if she didn't say something soon, the poor gem felt she might POOF under the pressure.
"Garnet!" The former servant blurted, backtracking and covering her mouth a split second before the fusion herself turned around from the captain's chair to address her.
"What." Garnet said simply, more of an affirmation to continue than an actual question.
"Why are we doing this? Why are we out here?" Pearl questioned.
"To find out why David is in Steven's body. To try to find a way to get him back." The Crystal Gem leader replied.
"But how do we know if that's the truth? How do we know if any of that was real? Why did we-" Pearl started, being interrupted by Garnet now.
"Just up and believe what we were told off the bat, bringing Steven -or "David"- back home and then promptly flying off into space to search for an unknown element that might not even be there, risking leaving a possibly mentally fragile Steven -or "David"- back at home with Amethyst and basically free run and will while we're gone...?" The taller of the two dragged on, almost quite literally voicing Pearl's thoughts aloud.
"Err... Yes..." Pearl confirmed, her admission falling flat in a sort of guilty tone when she said it.
"I don't know. All I DO know is that I still can't see much into the future and that WE were also somehow affected by this event. Whether or not Steven is "David" or if there's something else going on with him doesn't matter. Amethyst will keep him safe -relatively speaking- and we have to look for that light. It HAS to be connected to this, I can just feel it." Garnet explained, a tense undertone in her otherwise rational explanation.
Pearl was quiet for several moments before the awkward atmosphere in the ship got to her and the silence was broken like glass. "Are you sure...?" She posed simply.
Garnet's grip on the controls tightened as her lips pulled back to reveal her teeth pressed tightly together.
"YES!" Garnet snapped, growling a little as she became frustrated. "No! RRgghh, I don't know!" She contradicted herself, upset that she couldn't be certain of anything right now. "It doesn't matter! We're already out here! What are we going to do, just turn around and go back only for it to happen again, or worse?" The fusion continued, every muscle tense in her body as she tried to keep it together.
"But... What if.. What if he's just.. hurt? What if it's still Steven, only nearly dying in space caused him to... defect or something?" Pearl hypothesized. "Human beings have a whole variety of mental and emotional disorders that can arise from trauma. What if he has PTSD, or that THING where they forget their whole lives and subconsciously create a new one to cope! Wasn't there a movie about that!?" The ex-renegade went on, sounding much more like an overprotective mother hen than a slave turned terrifying renegade warrior.
"IT DOESN'T MATTER! ALL THAT MATTERS IS FINDING OUT ABOUT THAT LIGHT!" The fusion outright shouted, now twitching and glitching as her components struggled to the very limit to keep her together. "Even if it's TRUE, even if it IS just Steven with some problem that we don't understand, that LIGHT STILL CAUSED IT!" Garnet barked again after taking a few seconds to sort herself out.
"It HAD to. If it could make us so easily susceptible to suggestion AND block out my vision like it did, there's no telling what it could do to Steven. The ONLY thing I know is that... Is that I'm scared... and angry... and that we need to find out how to fix this..." She was now in tears, halfway to sobbing as she shook with the conflicting emotions roiling inside her.
Pearl had moved from her chair to Garnet's side, kneeling down and resting a supportive hand on one of the fusion's, gently prying it off the controls to grasp it gently between both of hers. Garnet's gauntlets dissipated, she having no knowledge that they'd formed in the first place as she took her other hand off the controls to hold Pearls' hands together in a way that only TRUE love bound family would understand.
Garnet's visor disappeared as she looked into Pearl's eyes with all three of hers. "I need your help, Pearl. WE need you... To help stay together... All of us.. I need you." She huffed brokenly, an unsteady breath leaving her as she tried to calm down again.
"Okay..." Pearl surrendered. "Okay." She paused. "I trust you..."
Not a second after the two had come to and understanding and smiled at one another did a series of disfigured and erratic explosions light flash in the distance.
flash-flash, flash, flash
The bursts were accompanied by one continuous three-second shockwave of turbulence, all of which immediately had the attention of both gems on board the space ship.
"There." Garnet said stoically, her focus regained as her visor reappeared on her face and she took the controls again.
"Here we go..." Pearl mumbled uneasily, standing and holding the back of Garnet's chair as the fusion drove them forward towards the source of the lights, which seemed to be continuing in tiny infinitesimal sparks compared to the original blasts.
As they got closer the intensity of the light show dulled down even further until it was BLUE instead of white like it had been. And then even further until it changed from flashes to a shuddering point of broidling blue fury with tendrils of pulsating energy radiating out from it that looked like writhing vines or tentacles.
"What on Earth..." One of them said, the other one obviously thinking it given the look on her face.
"Get closer to it, I think there's something else there.." Pearl noted, squinting in the light to try and make out what it was while Garnet maneuvered their 'borrowed' ship closer, still. Both of them noted how the tendrils retracted into the center of the light the closer they got to it, causing the light to get brighter there until it flashed one last time and solidified as a tiny mishappen ball of bright blue, seemingly in some kind of containment just floating there in space.
Of all things that could've happened next, a BICYCLE bunked into the windshield on the space ship, gently deflecting off and floating towards the light as Pearl became perplexed and distracted by the event. "Whaaaa? How did something like THAT get out here?" She questioned, not remembering of any HUMAN space program or launch that had a mountain bike sent with it.
Either way, Garnet's attention was pulled to the other object now brushing along the windshield of the Ruby ship. A backpack. One that was every so slowly rotating from the friction the ship provided until the 'face' of it -the part with all the compartments and zippers- turned around to show a name clearly printed on it with a small hand towel tied to the carry loop on top.
That was the name on the backpack.
Aside from the light, nothing else seemed to matter as Garnet snapped back into reality, quickly pulling the ship back and activating the tractor beam in the direction of the blue light.
The movement of the ship brought Pearl back, too, who quickly asked Garnet what she was doing. "Nevermind. Get ready to guide it in." The latter instructed, lining things up perfectly and hitting the necessary sequence of buttons to trap the atmosphere in the ship, open the front hatch, and activate the tractor beam to pull everything in.
Pearl noded and focused on the task at hand. First came some dirt. That was useless, so she let ignored it as a car bumper followed after. Another peculiar curiosity, but not -Pearl thought- what Garnet meant.
Next came the bike. Possible... Pearl grabbed it and set it down -shredded, blown up tires and all- before straightening and reaching out to grab the next thing.
It was the bookbag. With HIS name on it.
'No...' Pearl thought blankly for a moment, a pang of dread shooting through the core of her being as she tried to cope with and contemplate what this meant. It was too late, though. The bag dropped to the floor of the ship in a lump as it breached the interior and exited the tractor beam.
And what came behind it was far more 'alarming' in the traditional sense, anyway. It was the light. The thing that had supposedly caused all of this.
Only, it wasn't a light. No... As the tractor beam finished, the door to the ship closed, and the thing fell out of the air towards the ship's floor, it was quite obvious this thing was, in fact, a gem. The light it produced had settled and died down, and aside from the ever so subtly slow movement of energy INSIDE it, Pearl dared to say it almost looked NORMAL, too.
Either way, whether she meant to or not, Garnet had gotten everything around the light source, as well as the light, itself and was by Pearl's side in an instant, examining the object of their mission, which was now nestled perfectly in Pearl's delicate hands.
"It's..." The fusion trailed off, a little more shocked by this discovery in the moment than Pearl since the latter had a few seconds to understand it.
"It's a gem..."
Okay, so... Firstly, I have to apologize for not updating this sooner. Only working temp-labor and not having to go to school while mostly chilling at home all day leaves me with no excuse to not have had this up any later than 2-3 weeks after editing and recompiling chapters 1 and 2.
That said, long-term depression, and other mental/emotional problems as well as living with people whom I feel are holding me back and causing mental blocks is a real SOB.
Still not an excuse, and definitely not an excuse to do it again, it's just what happened. So I DEEPLY apologize to all of you readers, and I hope I can do better in the future because Steven Universe is life and I want this story to be one of my great achievements.
And to answer the guest reviews and anyone who's confused; Steven's consciousness is dormant while David's consciousness is inhabiting his body. Taking out David would return Steven to normal. The problem is "how do you do that, and what happens afterward, specifically to David, himself".
And THAT is why the fic is a fic. Right?
Anyway, guys. Questions, comments, support, love, hype, hate, whipping me into shape etc. It all goes in the reviews, right down here VVV
And THANK YOU for your patience, guys. Really. It means a lot. I hope you haven't given up on me. =3
Review, Follow, Fave. All that good stuff.
Have a good one!