Loving you forever, can't be wrong
Even though you're not here, won't move on
And there's no remedy for memory
Your face is like a melody, it won't leave my head
- Dark Paradise, Lana Del Rey
"We've found DNA belonging to your daughter in several new locations… and we've connected it to a woman named Rose Quartz. She was last seen in Beach City, Delmarva, ten years ago. Her clothes and car had matching samples. She is now the prime suspect in the murder and disappearance of Pink, and she has been arrested in absentia."
Blue clutched the phone in her hand when the call ended. The police investigator's formally detached voice lingered in the room. She latched onto the piece of new information, like a fragment of driftwood on a storming sea, letting it keep her afloat. Barely above the surface.
Rose Quartz… Finally a name, someone responsible, someone to pay. Blue had seen enough similar cases to know that it was only a matter of time now. Rose was the one who stole Pink's life. What did that vile woman let Pink go through in her last moments? How dared she live on, after leaving Pink in the forest that day?
After so many years of nothing, nothing but clues leading nowhere, endless media speculation and the harrowing emptiness, this was a devastating sense of relief. She closed her eyes, feeling warm wetness running down her face. She wanted Rose to pay, she wanted her to be punished in the worst way possible, and it would never be enough. Blue had passed many death sentences in her field of work, but this was no time to ask any higher deity to have mercy upon the guilty one.
She had never felt more merciless. Strikingly relentless. She wanted to do worse.
What good will any of this do?
She found herself walking up the stairs again, unable to stop herself. The door in the far end of the hallway on the third floor seemed so plain and unassuming, but once she unlocked it a world of color surrounded her. She breathed the still and dusty air, as her knees gave way and she sank to the floor.
She blinked slowly as she stared in front of her, tears running down her cheeks and neck. She tried to push herself up again, but all her strength had left her.
"They say it'll all be over soon," she mumbled. "I wonder what you would think…"
She closed her eyes.
That was how Yellow found her later. She stepped into the room, seeing Blue wipe her face with the hem of her dress, and sit up with an exposed expression.
She used to be so formidable, relentless. There was something majestic about how Blue moved, in long sweeping dresses or her black court robe. Her hair flowed like a veil around her when she wasn't in court, and Yellow found it so pleasant to part it and see her face bared, and those clear blue eyes. That was the woman who had captured Yellow's attention back in university: her regal aura, her calm yet authoritative voice to her peers, and her detachment to most things going around her. She had quickly assembled a group of loyal followers.
Blue on the other hand had been captivated with Yellow whenever she passed her by, the confident stride and high heels that made the crowd part of her. Already back then, Yellow wore her short hair like a crown, when she spoke everyone turned to listen attentively, and no one ever opposed her.
They had been together ever since then, startled by the first kiss they shared on a secluded balcony during a dinner party. Like two polar opposites, yet cut from the same cloth, they matched perfectly. Whitney had accepted Blue into the family without complaints, seeing how it would benefit the corporation. They had married two years after their respective graduations.
Yellow looked at her now, saw the deep permanent bags underneath her eyes, how sunken her posture had become, but it didn't matter – she was still her Blue.
Yellow supposed she herself had become worn as well. She had worked harder than ever these years, while Blue had mostly quit her duties in court. They could live comfortably for the rest of their lives if they wanted to, but Yellow would never let the corporation fall apart. Whitney had taken a step back from it and left most of the decision-making to her daughter. People were counting on Yellow's leadership, and with thousands of employees all over the world, retiring was never an option.
She crouched down in front of Blue, placing her hands on her arms.
"I thought we agreed, that we would not come here anymore. Let's focus on the trial and put all of this behind us."
Blue didn't answer, looking at Pink's bed and dresser, all the things she had once used and touched. A fine layer of dust covered everything, sullying the bright colors. The photos had been removed from the frames and the shattered remains of the mirror had been disposed off, but everything else remained like the night she disappeared.
Disappeared. That was the official verdict, as there were no suspects and no body. Presumed murdered on the same day.
Her room had been shut off from the rest of the house by Yellow, but now and then Blue returned to wallow in memories. They had had their first real fight in years when Yellow tried to get the room cleaned out, and now it had become a museum of their lost child.
A distasteful idea, Yellow thought. She had been the first one to erase every trace from their lives once the primary investigation shut down. For Blue's sake as well, had all the family photos of Pink's and all her other belongings been stuffed away. Only the photos of Yellow, Blue and Whitney remained in the house, depicting them in their university days, young and ambitious and ready to conquer the future.
As if their daughter was only a temporary, forever closed chapter in their history. Blue looked at the missing spot where the mirror used to be; the wallpaper was a shade lighter than the rest.
"Why can't you just let me grieve?" She turned away from the embrace.
Yellow straightened up, her tone hard. "It's been sixteen years, Blue! You can't keep coming here forever!"
"Why not?" Her voice sounded like it was about to break into a million sharp shards.
Yellow let her voice become softer. "How can you stand being here? There is no use in wallowing in all this regret. Of course we will still love her, and we're always thinking of her, but now there's nothing we can do!"
She felt weary and unstable the longer she remained in Blue's presence. She longed to emerge herself in work again; logical and rational work, but she couldn't leave Blue like this. She stepped closer to her and took her hands in her own, gently pulling her upright.
"Resume your position in the corporation. It will take your mind off things. We can work together like we used to."
She knew it was more of a plea than a request, but Blue didn't look at her. "I can't."
Yellow felt a wave of emotion that made her chest clench. She sharply turned away and leaned against Pink's bed frame, gritting her teeth to hold back the tears.
"Don't you know I miss her too?" she whispered, half-choked. Being here in this damned room was a screaming reminder of everything that she never wanted to remember.
Tears ran down Blue's face as she leaned against Yellow's back, hugging her from behind. They stood like that for a few minutes before Yellow straightened up, finally finding her composure again.
But Blue could only look back.
"Now there's nothing we can do…" she mumbled and withdrew. Like a ghost, she moved down the hallway with heavy steps. Her thick hair that once had been so magnificent was heavy against her back and unbrushed. She had worn the same dress for days, and her complexion looked ghostly pale.
All Yellow could do was to stay by her side.
They rarely crossed paths nowadays; Yellow mostly shut herself into her office with work when she was at home, while Blue remained in their bedroom, spent long hours at the grave, or in Pink's room. Yellow had usually left for work by the time Blue left her bedroom in the morning and Blue was asleep by the time she returned. Their maids took care of the house and prepared their meals. They could be strangers for weeks, even months, before they took time to reconcile.
The disturbance of the phone call today had shattered Blue's carefully laid out routine. She couldn't bring herself to stroll in the garden or even distract herself by preparing for court duty. There was nothing, but resentment and sadness, always blended.
That night she couldn't sleep, like so many others, seeing the light coming from Yellow's office. She moved numbly through the dark, empty house until she ended up in the master bathroom.
An area made of bright marble was dedicated to a shower, and she let her heavy night robe fall to the floor. She stripped out of her nightgown and let her hair fall down her back, before turning the shower on. The warm misty water filled her senses; she had always found the sound so comforting. She stepped into the wide space and leaned her back against the cold wall. Her body slowly heated up, but she still felt cold. Empty.
Memories came flooding, and she was unable to stop them.
She is two weeks overdue, and her entire body feels heavy, like some kind of underwater creature. Her back and breasts are constantly aching, and water is the only thing that gives her relief. When she steps under the stream, she can hear Yellow behind her and smiles tiredly. Yellow's short blonde hair flattens and surrounds her face in beautiful spikes when she joins her in the shower. Their moments together have been scarce lately.
"I wish she would just be here already," Blue mumbles, resting her hands on her belly.
Yellow strokes her hair from her face. "You know what the doctor said. She'll come out when she's ready."
"I can't wait to see her face." She leans against Yellow, and they stand together in the pouring warmth, with Blue's belly between them. It's like an island, close but still isolated. The baby is a moon, an asteroid, orbiting her, still shadowed but never too far away.
They feel the baby move underneath their joined hands – nighttime is her playtime. Yellow seems relaxed, the way she only is when they are alone, as she lets her hand run across Blue's tense skin.
"Soon enough," she says confidently and starts massaging her tense shoulders.
Feeling silly and tearful, Blue kisses her. The baby feels like an amphibian, having lived and moved inside of her for so long. A sudden nudge from within makes her lose her breath for a moment and she smiles, leaning her head against Yellow's steady chest.
The opening of a door brought her back, and she heard someone entering the bathroom.
"Yellow?" Her voice sounded weaker than she'd like.
"I'm here, Blue."
Blue stared at the wall, feeling tears mix with the running water. When Yellow stepped in behind her she finally turned her head. She was prepared for another lecture, but Yellow didn't say a word as she gently touched her shoulder. When was the last time they had been together like this?
Blue turned around in a movement that surprised them both, and pressed their bodies together as she cried without restraint.
The next day, she decided to visit the grave. She had slept close to Yellow all night, and those few hours of deep sleep had been oddly helpful. Yellow had declined to come, saying she was busy with work, but demanded that Blue let her handmaid Azul accompany her.
Blue crouched in front of the empty grave and let her veil fall back, no longer bothering to shield her face from view like she normally did in public.
Beautifully engraved letters in the polished marble stone, signing the date of birth and death. The letters shone in white, perfectly preserved after all these years. Enormous roses in pink adorned the stone, a tribute to her daughter's favorite color. They had grown around the edges and spread by the wind, and Blue knew that if Whitney bothered to visit the grave she would demand they all be cut off. Blue had carefully preserved every single one of the roses, tending to them with obsessive care, refusing to move a single thing.
If she let everything stay exactly as it was, maybe time would stop.
She picked up the little necklace from her pocket and cradled it in her hand. A tiny pink diamond on a chain. It had never been resized when Pink grew up; her neck remained so small, it was just the same as when she received it.
A pale sunrise has colored the sky and she gazes at it for a moment with weary eyes. Her daughter has finally fallen asleep in her arms. In her few hours of life she has already given several nurses a headache.
Now she sleeps soundly as Blue strokes her light hair. It feels like silk, and she smells so good. Yellow has not left their side for a moment, and Blue saw, through the haze of exhaustion, the look in her eyes when their child finally took her first breath. And cry she did – she let everyone know of her existence, the new Diamandis member.
Blue lets her index finger run along the baby's face. "Look, her cheeks are so pink!" Her skin is saturated in a strong peachy pink hue, and her face is glowing with the color. "It suits her, don't you think?"
"Pink." Yellow looks at the baby with a tired smile. "You were worth the wait."
Her very tiny fingers spread wide in her sleep. She's much smaller than all other babies Blue has seen, despite being born so late. Blue remembers the word the doctors had mentioned – amniotic fluid. There had been too much of it, and it had been a cause of concern for all of them, until now.
"She's perfect," Blue whispers, leaning back against the pillows in her bed, and her tears starts running again. It feels a bit silly, and she wipes them away. She's exhausted but she can't stop looking at her daughter. The connection she feels is so vividly intense. She has refused to let the nurses handle Pink more than absolutely necessary and Yellow has enforced that rule. Some of the country's most prominent doctors and nurses has been present during the birth.
Yellow leans over her and strokes her hair once. "Sleep, Blue," she says, her tone is soft but authoritative. "I will take care of her." She eases the baby from her grip and Blue feels the relaxation and weariness hit her. She can sleep knowing Pink is in safe hands.
Through the windows of her room, she can see Yellow walk back and forth in the hallway with Pink when she starts fussing. Yellow cradles her against her shoulder, mumbling – singing? – something to her. Pink is stubborn, but Yellow even more so, and her steps doesn't falter until Pink once again has fallen asleep.
Later that day a nurse announces that they have a visitor. Yellow is about to scold her, when a familiar voice drifts in.
"Let me see her." Whitney Diamandis' powerful, sing-song voice. She moves into the room like a hurricane, all dressed in white silk and fur as usual. Her high heels chatter against the linoleum floor. "Where is my grandchild?"
Yellow stands in front of the bed and her voice has that rare diplomatic tone she only has when speaking to her mother. "Blue's been in labour for twenty hours. We should let her rest." But Whitney walks right past her.
"This is Pink," Blue introduces her, having finished nursing. She is proud, but she still feels uneasy as Whitney inspects her baby. Pink yawns and blinks slowly.
Despite slight resistance from Blue and a disapproving look from Yellow, Whitney lifts the baby into the air like she's a bag of flour.
"Support the back of her head with your hand," Yellow instructs, her voice is restrained. No one else would have the nerve to approach them like this.
"Hello there, Starlight," Whitney cooes intensely. Pink protests with a cry that makes both Blue and Yellow tense.
"Welcome to the family," the older woman smiles, paying no mind to Pink's protests. "My, my, you're much smaller than I expected."
She returns her granddaughter to Blue as if she suddenly has lost interest in her, then places her palms together in a big gesture and chuckles to herself. The terrified nurse quickly leaves the room. Whitney opens her bejeweled bag and presents the necklace. Blue and Yellow has seen it before; it's been ready months in advance. It matches the small necklaces both Yellow and Blue wears.
It's not a gift given by affection; it's a token of their status. Of Pink's status, and the life that awaits her now.
"The heiress is finally born! Ah, do I have plans for her!"
Finally, it would all be over soon.
Blue's grief and her own, everything that had gone wrong since that day. The incident could have been the downfall of the corporation, of everything their family had built for generations, of the empire. The trial and execution of the guilty would be the end.
Sometimes Yellow could still feel it, a stirring inside of her, the resounding emptiness, and Pink's bright laughter. It never really faded from her memory; when she was at her most vulnerable it hit her. Her eyes stung from the sleepless night and she tried to focus on the screen in front of her, but it all lingered around her. Blue's breakdown. Her trying to stay composed, for her sake, for the corporation. The night they had spent intertwined in the bed, clinging to each other as if they would drown if they lost body contact for even a moment.
A headache was starting to spread along her temples and she could see herself like through a looking glass, hear her own voice telling a young Pink to leave her alone.
"Why? I wanna be here with you!" The small Pink from her memory spread her arms wide, balancing on her desk. She turned to look at Yellow, and her voice had an eerie tone, as if her voice was cracking open.
"No!" Both Yellow's memory and her present self protested.
"I'm just having fun…" Memory Pink ripped her diamond necklace from herself and threw it away, and Yellow found herself shouting and reaching for it, but no words came over her lips.
Pink's eyes were cold and hard and she smiled in a way that was unlike her, too wide, showing teeth. Her lips were dark and her lashes too heavy, her fluffy hair stiffened.
"Come look for me Yellow! I'm over here!" and she was crawling out behind her desk, too bright, too eerie. Yellow felt a cold sweat breaking out and struggled to remain calm.
Her hands were shaking. She had spent all day locked into her office, after only getting a few hours of sleep, and all the caffeine in her system made her heart beat painfully hard.
"This is what you made me do," the hallucinatory Pink accused childishly, and her voice changed, "There you are!"
Yellow flinched violently. Whitney Diamandis had come into her office, without knocking as always, and was now standing behind her. She felt a thin hand with long, claw-like nails on her shoulder.
"Oh Yellow… Yelena…" Whitney said with her bright, cheerful voice. It almost sounded pitying, but impersonal, as if she was commenting the results of a football game. "A little bird told me the guilty one has been identified and is awaiting trial."
Yellow gritted her teeth.
Whitney moved closer, her long silk cape flowed behind her. "I have already made arrangements with my lawyers." She almost sounded amused by the turn of events. "My, my, what a hassle. I expect you and Blue to handle it. I'm leaving for Mallorca tomorrow morning."
Yellow looked stiffly at the screen, refusing to meet her mother's gaze.
"Now, now, Yelena, don't you have work to do?" Whitney reprimanded. "We can't let this little… distraction hurt the business any longer."
Yellow stood up, but Whitney shook her finger in a scolding fashion. "I'm talking to you, Yelena."
"I have an urgent call to make," Yellow lied through clenched teeth and left the room.
Pearl saw so much of her in Steven. It was getting more prominent every day; his excitement, his curiosity and the way he made everyone his friends. He was unapologetically himself, the way she had been, once she found the version of herself she wanted to be. It was a bittersweet reminder. Steven was like a son to her, just like he was to the others. If only they knew… what they had been fighting for, fighting with, all these years.
Tomorrow was his tenth birthday and she tried to focus on that. When she kept her mind on logical, organizational tasks like cleaning, sorting things in alphabetical order, and teaching complex mathematical equations and how to organize strikes to Connie, she was in control. For once in her life.
Amy never was in control of anything, a trait that drove Pearl insane a couple of times a week, but she couldn't picture a life without her and Garnet. They had been living together for so many years, raising Steven together, and they were a family, for better or worse. Amy had been found in a basket outside a kindergarten when she was an infant, and Garnet had fled from a war-torn country in her youth. They had created a new, happy life together.
But out of all things Pearl disliked, she especially disliked Amy's… influence on Steven.
As an early birthday present, Amy had taken him to see a wrestling match, which was a hobby of hers. Now the boy was completely enthralled with what he had seen. Amy had practiced with Garnet on the beach, but Pearl would not let him engage in such… sports.
"Please! I wanna join them and wrestle too!"
"You're too young, Steven. Why don't we solve a puzzle instead?"
He shook his head. "I need to get strong like them!" His eyes were sparkling with excitement and he had tied a mis-matched sweatband around his forehead to match his new look.
"Steven…" Pearl picked up his shirts from the floor and folded them into a neat stack as she spoke. "I know you look up to them, but there are different ways of being strong. Garnet and Amy – when they're together, sometimes they get out of control. They can get so overzealous! Remember the beach umbrella Greg gave us? Broken right off!"
She looked away and frowned. "Strength isn't just about who wins an arm-wrestling competition."
"Come on, Pearl! Don't you wanna try too? Lars and Sadie are coming over to try out the new gym! We're gonna get beefy!"
She sighed and crouched down so she was at the same height as him. "I'm telling you this for your own good. Being strong in the real way is not when you tackle someone to the floor, it's... when you can stand up to someone who's more powerful than you, someone who you're afraid of. True strength is when you dare to do what is right for you, even if it's not what the world expects."
"But Amy never loses a match, she stands up to anyone! And Garnet is the strongest person I know!"
Pearl straightened up again, putting his folded shirts away in their proper place. "All power comes at a big expense."
"It won't be expensive! Dad helped me build the gym!" He smiled, all caught up in his plans as he ran out the door to great his friends – an anticipating Sadie dragging Lars with her. Steven smiled bright, holding up a megaphone.
For a moment Pearl could picture Rose, standing in front of a sea of protesters, the police approaching, her fearless stance as she called for justice.
Steven yelled into the megaphone. "Let's get strong in the real way!"
He was his mother's son indeed.
To be continued.
A/N: Thank you all for your support! I love to hear your thoughts so keep it coming!