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What We Really Are

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The two were then in a different part of the ship. It was sort of dark, if not for some green lighting that illuminated the room they arrived.

Lars basically called it his "thinking room". Though, before being adopted that way, that room was where he had built the Star Skipper. Since it had been destroyed, Lars would sometimes go down there to, well... think about life. Because he certainly needed, sometimes; considering he had freaking died, had done all sorts of absurd things to escape a totalitarian alien planet, save his friends and get back home. It was still too much for anyone to handle, honestly.

Steven seemed to be... astonished at it. Admittedly, the room was actually large. Well, it had stored a battle ship before, so yeah.

"Woah, it's... really big," Steven said.

"Right?" Lars agreed. "When I first saw this ship, I didn't expect to find it so big. The inside is a lot bigger than the outside, huh."

Steven nodded. "Yeah, I guess that's kinda the deal about Homeworld ships... it really is weird. How... something seems kinda ordinary on the outside, but then you find out how... big, deep it really is, on the inside."

The captain couldn't help noticing that Steven clutched his t-shirt again. In that same spot, where his gem was located...

"Uh, let me just, um... lighten things up a little," Lars said, internally groaning at the sudden pun he had just made.

In any case, his finger aimed for that specific button on the wall and pressed it. A noise was heard, which caught Steven by surprise. Soon enough, the structure of the ship changed itself to reveal a windowed surface that allowed space to be seen. The room then became a lot clearer.

Steven's eyes widened, as they encountered the millions of stars outside. Lars could still feel something deep inside him every time he opened that... window. It truly was fascinating.

"Holy smokes..." The young boy said, nearly breathless.

Lars smirked at the comment, but it faded away within a few seconds. Somehow, the dark, ugly bags under Steven's eyes were more visible there. It truly revealed how dead tired he was. His dark pupils suddenly seemed a lot profound once they reflected the outer space.

Lars was the first one to sit down and gave the other a sign for him to join. Steven seemed nervous at first, but soon committed to sitting next to Lars. Instead of, well... speaking, he ended up just... staring at the stars, still dumbfounded, but at the same time... regretful.

Guilty.

...

Lars sighed deeply, knowing Steven wouldn't talk anytime soon. He didn't want to pressure him, but he couldn't, well- not do anything.

The pink-haired teen then looked to his side, his eyes catching the things Steven had given him in his first visit - the box that had had everything his parents had sorted to him. On it were that... purple teddy bear and some plastic flowers (since his parents had probably figured real flowers wouldn't survive in the middle of outer space, anyway). Lars had left those things on that room so he would, well, feel closer to home. He had even admitted to, uh... having hugged the plush toy. He knew he shouldn't be ashamed, but it... still kind of was awkward. But it did make him feel better whenever he felt down, or homesick.

Lars glanced at Steven, then gazed at the teddy bear again. Maybe it could... help Steven, too.

He was quick to grab it, which hadn't even... gotten Steven's attention. He was lost in his own thoughts, lost somewhere, out there in space...

Lars looked at the teddy bear in his hands, then looked at him again. A little smile formed on his face.

"Hey, look who we have here," He said, drawing Steven's eyes to him again.

Lars raised his hands a little, revealing the purple teddy bear.

"It's your very good, uh... bear friend!" He stated... cheerfully? He didn't know what he was doing, anyway.

Well, he didn't stop there; he tried to make his own voice... goofier?

"Hello, Steven!" He moved the arms of the stuffed animal. "It's good to see you!"

Steven didn't seem to feel that better, though. Lars' smile faded slightly, yet he still tried to impersonate the little bear.

"Why the long face?" He asked, approaching it to Steven. "Is something wrong?"

The black-haired boy still did not speak, instead shrugging.

"Aww, come on!" Lars whined in that voice. "I can't bear to see you sad!"

Part of Lars groaned inside at such horrible pun, he- he hadn't even thought of saying that. It might have not even helped at all and- god, why couldn't he do anything-?

However, a little snort came from Steven. While he still looked pretty down, he noticed a... genuine little smile forming on his face.

... oh, Steven did like puns, right? Well, Lars was terrible at making them.

But seeing the little boy smiling... kind of brought a good feeling to him.

"Is there anything your good ol' bear can do?" He asked, still making that silly voice.

Lars opened its little arms wide, asking: "How 'bout a bear hug?"

Steven still smirked, looking away.

"Come on, now, don't leave me hanging," Lars said, as he got no response. "Pleeeeeeease?"

Steven finally gave up, letting out a laugh. Lars handed him the teddy bear, his own smile widening a little as he watched Steven hug it tightly. The younger boy looked at Lars, giving him a sad smile.

"Thanks," He said, quietly.

"No problemo," Lars winked, then shifting his voice to teddy bear mode: "It's what us bears are for - to give you lots of care!"

It made Steven laugh again, which was just so... relieving, after seeing him so blue...

"His name is Master of Ceremonies Bear Bear, by the way," Steven told him, the smile remaining. "MC Bear Bear for short."

"Oh," Lars nodded. "Is he like... a rapper or something?"

"Yeah, a talented musician - and also party host."

"Hah," Lars smiled. "Cool."

The two ended up being silent again, but at least MC Bear Bear was helping a little. Lars would gaze at the stars in the meantime. It was... all very peaceful. The room was always pretty quiet... well, when Homeworld gems weren't attacking or anything. It was still refreshing, since they wouldn't listen to all the machine, engine noises the ship made. Maybe only the rockets, but those were fine.

Lars had no idea how long they were down there, considering the... timelessness of space. Only then did he look at Steven again, noticing the smile on his face had disappeared. He still held tight to the bear, as if he clinged for... for some comfort. Lars sighed and decided to finally go to the main reason why they were there.

"So, you... wanna talk about it now?" Lars asked calmly, despite still feeling very worried.

Steven took some time to answer, as he pondered. He took a deep breath before speaking again.

"Well, I... I-I want to," He replied. "It’s- It's just... I'm..."

Lars awaited quietly, as Steven shut his eyes for a moment.

"I-I'm... afraid," He whispered.

"Afraid?" Lars repeated in confusion. "Afraid of... of what?"

Steven didn't answer, instead burying his face in the teddy bear's fluff. Lars waited but ended up pushing.

"Steven, what are you afraid of?" He insisted. "Just tell me-!"

"I-I'm afraid you might hate me, okay?!" Steven blurted out, as... tears formed on his eyes, and reflected the bright starlight.

Lars was... speechless, at first. He- He couldn't... why would Steven be afraid of that?

"S... Steven," He said, shocked. "What- Why is that?"

Lars tried rubbing the other's back, but Steven avoided it.

"Why- Why would I hate you?" The captain asked, lost.

As a response, Steven... laughed.

He just. Laughed.

What was so funny about it?

"I mean," Steven spoke, bitterly while still laughing. "I- literally possessed you, allowed you to be abducted and- and killed. The question should be why you DON'T seem to already hate me."

The captain wished he hadn't heard any of those words. He didn't want to believe they had been spat out of Steven's mouth at all.

But they did.

And... Lars didn't exactly know what to do about it.

"And guess what?" Steven continued. "It's even worse than you think! I just found out who my mom really was - she wasn't Rose Quartz, at all! She was the very gem that had been declared shattered back then, that everyone forced me to believe that it had all been a heroic act and not a huge lie!

"My mom was PINK DIAMOND!"

Wait.... what?

Rose Quartz was- huh?!

"H-Hold on, what?!" Lars yelled.

No... was that- actually true? But- Steven would never joke about something so serious!

Goodness, what was going on?!

"Yeah, that's right!" Steven snapped. "She was Pink Diamond! She was actually a powerful empress that owned the Earth, that- that started an ENTIRE WAR and got thousands of gems shattered and experimented to- to form a huge cluster fusion! That enraged the Diamonds to corrupt every other gem on Earth! That- That hurt and lied to everyone that loved her!

"And you know what else?! That makes me PINK DIAMOND, then!" Steven clenched his fists, as tears rolled down his face. "Everything I know is a LIE! I- I'm not even Steven Quartz Universe anymore, I'm supposed to be Steven Diamond DeMayo! STEVEN DIAMOND DEMAYO!"

He started sobbing furiously, frustration taking control over him. Steven buried his face in his own hands while Lars just stared at him dumbly. The older teen didn't even know... what to say. That revelation whacked him so strongly, he couldn't even- find the right words to describe it.

He- He probably... shouldn't be so surprised, considering how incredibly fast everything was happening in his life, but... it- it didn't make sense! How come Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond, a Homeworld leader- the gem that had been supposedly been shattered thousands of years ago?!

That story Garnet had told him and his friends, it- it hadn't been true, then?

But then... the Crystal Gems hadn't known of that, right? Because Garnet hadn't shown any doubts regarding the greatness of Rose Quartz.

Then... how had they found out?

Or- did they even know?

"I... I don't..." Lars tried to say something, but... he couldn't form accurate sentences. "How-?"

"Don't- Don't even say anything," Steven hissed. "I get that- that you probably hate me even more than you did, and- and you won't even want to look at my face anymore, and you will leave me once you get to Earth, just like everybody else did!"

"Steven..."

"But it's okay, because I DESERVE it! This- This whole thing is MY fault!"

"Steven-"

"I hurt everyone and-" Steven's hands grasped his own face. "And if it weren't for me, nobody would be angry at each other, the Diamonds wouldn't want to destroy the Earth and you wouldn't be dead nor lost in space in the first place-!"

"Will you just- cut it out ALREADY?!" Lars snapped, grabbing Steven by his arms.

It immediately silenced him. Steven panted in shock, though the tears would still make its way to the floor. Lars felt something burning inside him, perhaps- some sort of pain, a rage that was not aimed at Steven. He- He wasn't... mad at him, despite his tone saying otherwise. Yet having to listen to Steven blaming himself that way was harsh for anyone - especially as none of these things were particularly Steven's fault. Or, at least, the younger boy had not meant to do them at all.

"Stop," Lars ordered, managing to sound firm, but instead making his own frustration pretty clear. "Just- stop saying these things."

"But-!" Steven tried to protest but was shut down by the older teen again.

"Enough! It's not going to take you anywhere! It's not going to help either of us!"

Steven would have objected more, but his face softened upon hearing those words.

"I may- not be in the same place as you," Lars said. "And I get it, you- you have every right to be angry! To be mad at your mom, at everything she did - but if you don't collaborate, how am I going to help you?

"You wanted to come down here, to talk about what happened, and- and that's what I'm trying to do! I..."

He inhaled, trying to calm himself down a little. "I- I want to understand- at least... I want to try to understand what happened. But I can't do that when all you do is throw all that information in my face, expecting me to know what to think of it, and- and start blaming yourself for things you had no control of!"

He gazed at Lars with regret in his eyes. The captain closed his own eyes for a moment, releasing Steven from his grip. He hoped he hadn't been... coercive. The last thing Lars wanted was to make Steven feel like a burden to him.

"Ugh, I'm- really not good at this stuff," Lars mumbled.

"I'm... I'm sorry," Steven sniffed.

Lars sighed deeply again, softening his voice. "Let's just... do this from the beginning, okay?"

The other boy took a few seconds to nod in agreement.

"Like, how- how did you find out she was... Pink Diamond, in the first place?" Lars asked.

Steven looked at MC Bear Bear while pondering.

"It's... It's kind of a long story," He replied, quieter.

His dark eyes then faced the stars, as his thoughts tried to form the words, the narration to Lars. The captain tried to encourage him with a rub on his back. The tension in Steven's body was gradually gone thanks to the initial, shy form of contact.

"Well..." Steven sighed, suddenly looking a lot more exhausted. "P... Pearl told me. Like- she didn't, well... actually tell me. She... She showed me."

Lars blinked. "Wait, what... do you mean?"

"She literally showed me," Steven explained. "You see, Pearl can... store things and- and memories inside her gem. She put her cell phone in there, but she couldn't find it. Thus, Pearl put me inside her pearl so I could find her phone, but then it turned out to be a lot more... complicated than I had thought...

"Apparently, there are... Pearls inside Pearl's... pearl, and... and they are all different parts of her memories," He continued, as he avoided facing Lars. "The more they guided me to look for her cell phone, the further I... went to the past; the more I saw how messed up it was...

"Until I... finally found it."

Steven clutched his t-shirt once more.

"I... I saw the whole thing," He said. "I watched my mom plan the entire... 'shattering' with Pearl. I saw her changing her form..."

Steven lifted his t-shirt, showing his gem.

"I- I don't know how that's even possible," He continued. "But when my mom shapeshifted, she was able to... to change the position of her gemstone, so she could... look like a Rose Quartz. Like- if you turn this thing around, you'll see that it's not a normal Rose Quartz gem. It's... a diamond."

Steven sighed, hiding his gem and hugging MC Bear Bear again.

"Then, Pearl shapeshifted into 'Rose' and she used my mom's sword to... 'shatter' her in front of everyone. Nobody ever knew about this - especially as my mom ordered Pearl to never speak about the hijack to anyone.

"That's... how I found out," Steven finished. "Rose Quartz... never existed. It... it was all a lie."

For a moment, it seemed like there was... no light in Steven's dark eyes. They were hollow, pitch-black, as an endless, black void - even though he... was facing the stars outside.

Lars felt something inside him aching at that sight. He... He couldn't even imagine how Steven must be feeling at that moment. How everything he had known about his mother turned out to be a huge... distortion of what had happened. Of what Rose Quartz had truly been.

"Have... Have the others found out about this, too?" Lars asked.

Steven nodded miserably. "As soon as I got out of Pearl's gem, I... I told them the truth. T-They were so horrified... it- it was so bad that even Garnet split up!"

"Oh, no, really?" Lars gasped. He might have not known Garnet that well, but since Rhodonite was also a fusion of two gems (not to mention Fluorite), he had an idea of the bad meaning of splitting up.

"Yeah! Sapphire - one of the gems that form Garnet - was so heartbroken that... that she fled. The other one, Ruby, got really mad at Pearl, and- and Amethyst felt even worse about herself since my mom inspired her- all of them so much, and- ugh, basically, everyone is really mad and frustrated, and-"

Steven was close to crying again. Lars pulled him a little closer, while still rubbing his back.

"We've been looking for Sapphire for days," He continued. "But then Pearl sent me home because... well, according to her, she wanted me to get some sleep, even though I'm pretty sure she meant that Sapphire doesn't want to see me.

"I-In any case, I... I couldn't get myself to sleep. Because everytime I closed my eyes, I would see so many... horrible things...

"I've already had dreams about Homeworld stuff, but they've only gotten worse! I- I had nightmares about the Gem War, I saw my friends trying to attack me, I saw the Diamonds destroying everything and everyone I know... I- couldn't take it anymore.

"I was actually... planning to go somewhere else with Lion for a while because- this is all so draining, so... ugh," He groaned. "I don't even- know what to do anymore, because- because I don't want to leave my friends behind again, but I can't face any of them right now- and... and it's not like they even want to look at my face, anyway. Not- Not even my dad is doing well, after he found out who my mom really was."

Oh, goodness, there was Steven's dad, too! Just by witnessing the look on the younger boy's face already gave him all the pain, the stress everyone was going through.

"Connie is out of town," He said. "My friend Lapis, another gem, is flying to another galaxy right now, the Crystal Gems are all keeping distance from me...

"I... I-I... I have nobody..." Steven started crying again, so painfully, it legitimately hurt Lars.

"Steven..." Lars' voice broke.

"I'm alone..." Steven sobbed.

He didn't... what could he even... say about all this?

He wanted to make him feel better- he wanted to tell Steven it would be okay, but... but it wasn't okay. Lars didn't want to lie to him. Yet...

"Hey, y... you're not alone," Lars tried to assure him, placing a hand on the other's shoulder. "I'm here."

He struggled to smile at Steven, despite having to watch him crying. Lars wrapped an arm around him and pulled him closer, as Steven grasped his space suit and buried his face on it. The former could feel the tears wetting his clothing, but little did he care, honestly.

Steven sniffed violently, as his sobs were slightly muffled by Lars' body. Lars even covered him with his cape, as he felt the short boy shiver slightly. He didn't, well... feel so cold himself, anymore; and he figured that the ship would be freezing. Not to mention that spot they were in was sort of distant from the engines, so it wouldn't receive much heat, anyway.

Lars ruffled the other's hair, while Steven still clinged to him. The pink teenager leaned against the wall, letting out a heavy sigh he hadn't realized he'd been holding. The stars were all staring at the two lonely boys, possibly sharing words between themselves. Steven's sobbing progressively ceased, though his body was still shaking; it was noted as it was pressed against Lars' side.

The captain looked at Steven with despondence, not being able to take his eyes off of the dark bags that smudged the other's face. It was like... he could even feel some sort of bad, grim energy coming from Steven. All that joy, all that optimism... gone.

"Steven, I..." Lars still wanted to say something, but... there was not much he could say about everything he had found out. Perhaps only...

"I'm sorry you have to deal with all that," He said, finally. Maybe it was the best thing to tell him at the time, to be fair. "You... You don't deserve any of that crap, you're not- you're not guilty of what your mom did, or- or anything. Please, don't... don't think that you do."

Lars squeezed Steven's shoulder on impulse, but not roughly, he hoped. He really didn't want Steven to believe he deserved it. That he deserved to suffer. Just because his mother wasn't there, it didn't mean, under any circumstances, that Steven was the one that should pay for it. Even if he did have Rose's- Pink Diamond's gem, it meant nothing!

Steven sighed deeply but remained quiet. Lars didn't really expect him to say anything else, so both were silent again. No other sound could be heard, if not for Steven's shaky, yet quiet, breathing. Lars could also feel the other's heartbeat, which was... incredibly fast to him. His own heart didn't even beat the way it used to, so feeling a normal one was... odd.

After some time, he could feel Steven's body... relaxing on him. Lars' eyes first lied on MC Bear Bear, then basically Steven as a whole. He looked like a little kid afraid of falling asleep because of a nightmare. Sometimes Lars would forget Steven was fourteen years old. How come a fourteen-year-old boy already had to deal with so much? As exciting as Steven's life might sound on the surface, it was too much. The fact that Steven had to get through all that, to the point of- of freaking sacrificing himself to terrible dictators, of possibly becoming a leader of the Crystal Gems to follow his mother's role, only to find out his mom was the exact opposite of everything he had known about her...

It was honestly revolting. Steven didn't deserve it. Homeworld was beyond cruel to hunt down a kid for his mother's misdeeds. Although Lars didn't quite blame Steven's... moms, because they definitely didn't mean it, it didn't feel right of them to just- allow all this, to throw all that responsibility on Steven's back!

Even then, Lars didn't know the Crystal Gems all that well. He hadn't known Rose/Pink Diamond. He might have become friends with the Off Colors but considering how long they had been isolated from Homeworld's society, it didn't count. Garnet might have told them the story of the Crystal Gems, but considering how many things had been untruth, then... did he even deserve to voice his opinion in all of this?

Lars wished he could... he could do more. But all he could really do was to be there. For Steven.

He hoped it helped, at least a little.

"I don't... even know what to think of my mom, now," Steven suddenly said, taking Lars back from whatever world he was stuck in.

"Yeah?" Lars shook his head, a little distracted, but at least he had listened.

"I mean, I've never been... sure about it- at all. Everyone always told me how great, heroic she was. Many people looked up to her. Pearl was- is... devoted to her, for example.

"I always tried to be like her, because everyone expected me to," Steven continued, looking at the stars. "I... I tried so hard, because I believed, despite everything else, that... that Rose Quartz was this wonderful person, a gem that saved the Earth from Homeworld's hands."

Lars found light in Steven's eyes again. Only for it to... fade away once more.

"Then I found out about... about Pink Diamond's demise," The young boy resumed. "The worst of all is that the Crystal Gems never told me about it. I discovered it through the most painful way possible. I saw a gem corrupting, a Ruby soldier nearly shattered me, and- yeah...

"Finally, I saw the... the Diamonds' side," Steven still wouldn't look at Lars. "I found Blue Diamond grieving Pink back on Earth… and Yellow Diamond holds a grudge towards Earth. It even led Homeworld to make gem experiments, in which they force gem shards to... to fuse."

"Woah, seriously?" Lars commented. He was sure Steven had never mentioned that specific detail before. Maybe only at the beginning of their talk, but still. "Is that what... you meant by 'experiments'?"

Steven nodded. "There's a huge fusion experiment under the Earth's crust - the Cluster. It was supposed to destroy the planet once it took its form, but Peridot and I managed to stop it. For now..."

Wait, there was... an enormous gem shard thing right under everyone's feet, that could have... suddenly popped out of the ground and decimated the Earth?!

"Christ..." Lars mumbled, his eyes widening.

"Yeah... it was after all this that I saw that Rose wasn't... this good of a person. But I... I was afraid of commenting this with my friends. Maybe only my dad and Connie, but the gems refused to let anyone question my mom's intentions. They all loved her so much, so... I pretty much kept everything inside, so they never found out."

Steven sighed deeply, shedding a tear.

"And now," He sobbed. "I get to find out that my mother started the entire Gem War, not- not caring at all about Pearl's feelings, causing everyone to get corrupted, and- and making the Diamonds extremely furious at everyone I know. My friends are all fighting each other, and- and I don't know what I can do to get them together again.

"My mom caused all this harm... and- and now I'm the one hurting them," Steven hid his face in Lars' chest. "S... S-Solely for existing in the first place."

"Oh, Steven..."

It was enough to break Lars' heart - to mess it up even more, honestly. Having to hear all that hurt.

"I just... I still can't believe it was all a... a big act," Steven said. "How my mom pretended to be this- this ordinary Quartz soldier that fought back, that seemed to have had so many good intentions, only to be a huge liar! It's so- ugh!"

Lars looked at the floor. "God, this... this really stinks, dude."

He knew better than saying it all simply "stinked". Yet, there was no other word Lars could use. He was just... not sure how to feel about it.

The guilt on Steven's face suddenly shifted to... to downright rage. Lars admitted to being terrified of being introduced to that. He- He had seen Steven get angry, of course, but not like this.

"I can't believe her... I can't believe the leader of the Crystal Gems was a Diamond... one of those- giant tyrants... and she never even considered telling her friends the truth!

"She couldn't be questioned or- or else she would bubble them o-or force them to shut their mouth, like what she did to Pearl! Like- she even bubbled away one of her fellow friends, Bismuth, because she had questioned her! A-And Rose- Pink made it all seem like Bismuth had just disappeared without any explanation!

"She... She really was a horrible person. Just like... like the other Diamonds. I can't believe she made us all believe she was... better than them."

Lars merely... nodded while hearing Steven vent. He certainly was angry at Rose/Pink Diamond as well. At how she had left all that for her fourteen-year-old son and hadn't had any sense of responsibility nor- nor sensibility to consider her friends' feelings. Yet...

... he didn't know why a part of him was... trying to understand it.

As if... he sort of knew how Steven's mother must have... well, gone through.

...

He didn't want to invalidate Steven's feelings - like the Crystal Gems had unintentionally done his entire life. But...

... he wasn't... well, as revolted, after some time. Now that Steven had, well, actually explained things, in a way, adding Lars' own perceptions, well...

He thought about the Diamonds themselves. Lars had only seen Blue and Yellow - and, even then, had not heard a thing on the Trial, considering his head had been bubbled. He could remember the hatred in their eyes as they had looked down to Steven, had seen him as a mortal enemy.

Pink Diamond had been part of them. She had been like them... a colonizer. Someone that had chosen the Earth to gather all the resources, in order to expand their empire. Someone, expected to be perfect, had had to follow the... "Diamond code".

Yet...

She hadn't... done that.

She had given up.

...

 

"However, she began to take notice of her strange colony and the life that existed there."

Garnet's voice suddenly started echoing in his mind. Lars knew he should probably not take her entire narration into account anymore, but...

... was it all truly a lie?

...

There... there was a reason why Pink Diamond had given everything up.

Why she had done it.

"Curiosity turned to appreciation.

"Appreciation turned to fondness.

"And fondness... turned to love."

Why she had saved the Earth.

"Only Rose could no longer stand to continue aiding in the destruction of Earth. She had no choice.

"She had to fight."

... fight.

For Earth.

And for that, she had completely thrown her status as Diamond away.

If... she hadn't cared for Earth, then...

... then why would have she done it?

...

 

"Steven, I..." Lars sighed.

"What?" The young boy replied a bit harshly, but not directly at Lars, so he didn't think much of it.

The captain pulled his own pink hair, unsure of what he wanted to say.

"Actually, I... I don't... think your mom was... like them," Lars said without further thought, which immediately made him regret.

"W-What? But- she ran away from the truth, l-like the other Diamonds! Exactly like that!"

"I know! I meant that- ugh," Lars groaned. "I-I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound like she's-"

He sighed deeply. How come he was so... bad at expressing what he felt? Well, he understood how Steven must feel most of the time. And the last thing he wanted was to disqualify Steven's anguishes.

"Look, I... I hope I'm not... well, being too partial on this," Lars said. "I don't- I don't understand anything about this Gem stuff, I know, it's- it's just...

"Steven, your mom, she- she did do a lot of bad things," He noted, before anything. "I believe in everything you said. Your friends are hurt, you are hurt, and- I'm not denying that, because I can see that! It's... well...

"She wasn't like the other Diamonds. She might have technically been one, but...

"... she was, like... an Off Color."

Steven's face changed into confusion, perplexity.

"Like- not like... I mean," Lars quickly tried to rephrase it. "She... She didn't... fit the role for a Diamond, Steven. The Diamonds are ruthless, they are cruel, they- they don't give a flying damn about organic life. They only want resources, minerals, whatever. You've seen what Homeworld does to their colonies, right? Like that one planet of that moon you and Connie crashed in? It's what they all seek for- all that material to make new gems.

"When I first saw a Gem Colony myself, I was terrified. Because- the Earth would have ended the same way, Steven! None of the life, the nature- nothing we know about the Earth would even exist!

"If it weren't for your mom... we wouldn't exist," Lars said as the emptiness of space looked down at him, that mere... pink being that, while not even a true human anymore, was still as small.

As he faced the other again, he noticed that Steven's rage was suddenly... not to be found. He was struck by everything Lars was saying.

"And- And why else would she give up her status?" He asked. "Like, a-at least I don't believe she did it just for herself. I think she actually... cared about organic life, you know? Like, she could have just let humans, well, perish, if that were the case. But- ugh, I don't know! I don't know anything about your mom, especially not now after we discover her identity, but-

"Diamonds aren't supposed to hold any- empathy, right? Towards anything - not organic beings, not even other gems! Like, they- would have shattered the Off Colors if they had the chance! And they still do that to many others that don't fit their horrible mentality!

"Your mom could have rebelled against Homeworld without any help because- because she was a freaking Diamond! Like- she had the power to do it by herself, right? If so, then why did she free all those gems? Why did she free the Earth?

"Because... she cared, Steven. Unlike the other Diamonds, she cared. She was the first one to step in, to question it all. Because we, as humans, possibly... taught her that. We aren't perfect and- and... at least many of us still show love for one another. We still care, despite our flaws. Your mother had probably never seen something like that back on Homeworld."

Lars hoped he was... making sense. Everything he said was sort of what he was currently thinking, and he didn't even pause his... his monologue.

"Yeah, she- did make up everything, create an entire unnecessary drama," He said. "But s- she saw it was wrong, she learned that it was all wrong. She gave up on her status, her privileges- she sacrificed everything because of beings that she never... expected to care about."

He... felt something.

Something weird inside him as soon as the last words came out of his mouth...

She sacrificed everything because of beings that she never... expected to care about.

...

Lars realized he was staring at Steven, nearly forgetting about everything else. He quickly turned around, feeling... weird, for some reason.

He even became quiet for a moment.

He then resumed; though that strange feeling still resonated.

"S... So, she can't be... all that bad, right?" He asked. "I mean, I guess she omitted all that information because she... must have regretted everything she had done, and probably wanted to erase her past; she wanted to live as Rose Quartz and never deal with it again- which doesn't mean it's right, in any way.

"We can't, well... excuse her actions. She might have done something extraordinary, something Homeworld, possibly her friends and... even herself, in a way, would never... understand, but..."

He lowered his head, looking at his own hands.

"She still... hurt people. Like you said, she... she ran away from the truth, from... everything... and she...

"She left everyone that loved her... behind..."

...

...

What... was wrong with him?

Why was he...

... feeling so...?

...

"... Lars?" Steven called him.

Lars was quiet. He didn't even look at Steven. He didn't...

He stared at his own hands. He clenched his fists, then proceeded to look at his feet. He didn't know what was up with him.

...

He twitched as he felt something... in his eye.

Small, but...

... painful, in a way.

...

He sniffed.

He froze immediately.

Lars quickly reached his eye. His glove was slightly wet.

...

Oh, no.

No.

"Oh, no, no, no," Lars protested. "Am I really-?"

No, why- why was he-?

Why on Earth was he crying?

At a time like this?!

Steven was feeling terrible and- and Lars is the one to-?!

"Oh my god, I'm so-" Lars nearly snapped at himself. But he didn't

Just like that, he... he laughed.

He laughed uncontrollably.

Only for more tears to make its way down his face.

"I can't believe it," Lars said as he still laughed, wanting to freaking punch himself. "I'm- I'm the one that should be comforting you and now I'm-!"

Could- Could someone slap him? He can't believe he was pretty much... being a stupid, emo teenager in the middle of Steven's misery. Could he be even more pathetic?!

"I'm not- W-Why am I-?"

It hurt.

Everything hurt.

He suddenly felt everything stabbing him.

All at once.

He wanted it to stop.

But it didn't.

Lars hid his face. He- He didn't want Steven to see him like this. Not at a time like this. Not when Steven was suffering, Lars couldn't just- shove his own emotional crap down someone's throat, someone that needed him- why was he like this?!

"L... Lars..." He heard Steven say.

He tried to dry his face, but it didn't stop.

He felt someone wrapping their arms around his body tightly, like a small koala. He knew it was Steven, but he couldn't bear to look at him. It was like... their roles had been switched completely. Lars was the freaking sad bag for no damn reason and Steven had to swallow everything again to deal with his nonsense.

"I-I'm..." Lars tried to say something, but he couldn't, because it hurt.

He was sure Steven wanted to say something, but he didn't do it.

"I'm- I'm sorry," Lars sobbed quietly, not sure at who he was apologizing to, anymore. "I'm sorry..."

He kept on- on crying. He tried so hard to stop it, but it was useless.

Steven tightened the hug more, trying to pick all his broken pieces.

Neither said anything else.

 

Eventually - meaning a long time had passed - did Lars find himself calming down. His sobs ceased and his nonstop cursing came to an end.

It had been... too arduous.

Too hard to keep with all that pain inside, at first.

Lars had thought he'd get through this. Going to his 'thinking room' had been helpful, clearly. Yet he'd never have a moment like this in front of the Off Colors. He did trust them, of course. Though, he had never… talked about his feelings- even indirectly, like he had just done.

But Lars didn't... want to have this moment right when Steven was feeling bad. He shouldn't have made it about himself again! How selfish of him to ever do that!

Once Lars stopped sobbing and finally revealed his wet face, he couldn't really look at Steven. He was ashamed.

"F... F-Feeling any better?" Steven asked.

The captain sighed. "No."

He could see, from the corner of his eye, Steven's weak smile dropping almost immediately.

"O-Oh, Lars, I'm... I'm sorry," He said.

"N-No, it's not because of you, Steven," Lars tried to rephrase it again. "I wanted to make you feel better, and- and then YOU had to comfort ME because of all my emotional nonsense, like- ugh!"

"But- it's... it's okay, Lars," Steven assured.

He tried to smile at him again, but the older teenager just sighed in response.

"I'm the one that should be sorry," Lars said, after remaining silent for some time. "I just- started having a crying attack when you were miserable. God, I really suck at this- at everything..."

Steven sighed deeply. "I- I don't... think you suck, Lars."

Lars scoffed darkly. "Yeah, even though my selfish ass made it all about me."

"Seriously, like... all those things you said about my mom... I never really... stopped to think about it that way," Steven admitted. "And- And you say you don't know anything, but... but it seemed like you knew a lot more than I did just now.

"You showed me a side about all this that I haven't really figured it out at first, because- because I was mad at her. Well, I still am, but... I think you're... you're right. About my mom, about... everything.

"You didn't- you don't suck at all."

Lars should probably not... be this shocked upon hearing Steven say that. He already knew that the younger boy didn't think he sucked, even though he had every reason to. Nonetheless, he was still surprised.

"Y... You really... think that way?" Lars asked.

Steven nodded without hesitation.

"Yeah, you showed me that... well, Pink Diamond was an Off Color, too. It really seemed she only wanted to do it for herself, but now you made me really... think about it. You made me realize she still... cared, you know?"

Steven... smiled. It did show some genuine joy. Lars felt his own face lightening up a little upon noticing that.

However, he quickly frowned once he thought something.

"Though, um... j-just to remark something," Lars cleared his throat. "I don't, well... defend everything your mother did. I-I've probably said that, but I hope I didn't... sound like I fully support her. I do believe she should've been more honest with your friends and again, she- she still did terrible things. She may have wanted to avoid the past or whatever, but that's no excuse. You guys don't have to forgive her.

"I just don't... I don't think she is- was necessarily... evil... you know?"

"I know," Steven smiled sadly at him, proceeding to squeeze Lars in another hug, much to the captain's surprise... as well as adding:

"I know she isn't."