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How To Not Completely Trash It As An Intergalactic Monarch

Chapter Text

“Alright, she might attack us,” portly hands stayed planted on the bubble lay within his reach. The gem encased in the translucent bubble seemed, despite being an intimate object, lonelier than ever.

He still couldn’t believe that this was happening. He couldn’t comprehend everything turning out. If just a few days ago, someone had told him he would be in the middle of a vast meeting hall, about to actually worked together with the other Diamonds, he would’ve laughed. Maybe asked him a year ago, however, he could believe it. Now, he was living it.

“The one on Earth didn’t attack. She seemed quite attached,” the discourteous response from Yellow Diamond had Steven just the slightest bit hopeful that corrupted Jasper would be able to refrain from attacking them just long enough for them to heal her without hassle. Yellow’s features had seemed to be etched into her face ever since she had heard of the compromise just a while ago. She made her distaste obvious, too concerned for the exact reliability off the pact. For the first time, instead of just distrusting Pink, she brought up her concern for White’s similar betrayal.

 

“How can you hold each other up to standards,” she had voiced her opinion earlier, or much rather had yelled it. “What if Pink never comes back to Homeworld-“her eyes shot back to White- “What if White keeps you from ever returning to Earth?!”

“There’s always an easy solution to a problem, Calypso,” at first, Steven had been confused about White’s nicknames, of course until Pearl explained they were all connected with the galaxy, but now he had memorized all of them. As sweet as they were, he could still catch Yellow rolling her eyes from the corners of his vision.

“While Pink has her time on Homeworld, I’ll give her someone valuable to me on Earth to stay with the rest of her…friends. While she’s on Earth, one of her friends will stay with me,” words came out with ease, much different than the slight anxiety and agitation coming from Yellow and Steven combined. “That will keep us from breaking our promises.”

And apparently, they were really going to go through with it.

 

“She isn’t like Centipeedle. She may be more tough to get through too than her,” his gaze fell across all three monarchs equally gazing back at him. For the fifth time in his life, he wished he had acquired at least half of his mother’s height.

He turned his head towards the gargantuan corridor near the other side of the alcove, where three figures stood waiting by the exit. Despite how similar in stature they all looked, Steven had noticed the past few days how each Pearl seemed to resemble the Diamond they were made for. Yellow’s hair and outside seemed to be made by much more sharp arcs and angles than anything, and she held the energy like that of someone Steven found intimidating yet amusing. Blue, on the other hand, seemed much more gentle in personality and physical form, eyes covered by a blanket of beryl coiffure, and Steven had taken fond interest in the transparent skirt that bounced and swished whenever she walked. Just like White Diamond, White Pearl was intimidating, and Steven was still had so many questions regarding what had happened to her eye; and why she was so robotic.

“Alright, here we go.”

The boy pressed his palms against the surface of the bubble, and almost as soon as the gem fell into warm hands, it began to brighten. And then, it began to levitate and glow, causing Steve to step back, nearly all the way to the tallest’s heels. They had a plan, just like last time; Yellow would come in and heal her physically, and then Blue would aid in mental restoration, and Steven would keep her emotions in check until White Diamond made the final touch. Whether or not this would happen smoothly would be revealed in the next crucial moments.

It wasn’t long before a form began to take place in order with the gem, and Steven only felt his nerves grow. Soon enough, any unnatural light dissipated, leaving the corrupted Jasper monster in the middle of all four of them, confusion seemingly keeping it frozen.

When she didn’t move for nearly a couple of seconds, Steven gestured to the second-in-order, initiating the incorruption process. Just like on Earth, Yellow bent, though just as she was about to press a gentle finger to the top of the monster’s head, just then she decided to spring into action.

As soon as her finger came into proximity, the gem opened her mouth and successfully clamped down onto the appendage, causing Yellow Diamond to shriek indistinctively.

“Get this thing off of me!” Blue’s eyes were threatened, more concerned rather than surprised at the monster’s action. However, commotion slowed as Yellow’s opposite finger replaced the one originally landed onto the top of the monster’s head, and almost immediately, the trapped finger was released with a confused howl, and once more the form was engulfed in light.

Right in front of his eyes, the form shrunk. Inch by inch, it began to resemble something other than a horror movie villain. He began to recognize arms, legs, a normal body shape, and eventually, light dissipated again, leaving an uncorrupted Jasper, on the ground with nothing but a blank, expressionless face.
“Blue, it’s your turn!” Steven’s frantic shout was enough to shake Blue from her silent stare, disturbed even after the second time she had seen this. Thankfully, she managed to regain herself quickly, and just like her fellow Diamond had done, rested a finger on the form, just above her abdomen. Coruscations engulfed where the hip had been pressed for just a short moment, before they evaporated, and with unsteady movements, Jasper had flipped herself onto her hands and knees, a near dead gaze borrowing holes into Steven’s. And for nearly the seventh time that day, a shiver struck through his spine.

From his place next to White, he could see Jasper’s fists clenching and unclenching, and as he drew closer with caution, he could see almost all the tension the solider was holding in her stance. Centipeedle had been more vocal, begging everyone around her to stop, and this time around, Steven could see it all in Jasper’s eyes. Tears were beginning to form, slipping down her cheek as brazen eyes stared back at Steven. Just by how her eyebrows were furrowed and arched and the glossiness of her eyes as salty tears began to increase Steven could see the confusion, and quite frankly the pain, that overwhelmed her. There wasn’t a single other moment of hesitation as Steven raced forward to dispense saliva into the palm of his hand, smacking it perhaps a bit too roughly onto Jasper’s shoulder.

Even though the gem’s shoulder would no doubt be stinging for the next few minutes, tears seemed to stop forming, allowing the rest to slid over her chin and eventually to the ground. Pained eyes were replaced with ones of disbelief and shock, and as a final, large, osseous finger pressed itself to the small of the warrior’s back, she seemed to finally have clicked into her surroundings, like a toy robot coming to life as its batteries were incorporated correctly.

Jasper’s head was reeling, a fact made clear by how her head seemed to roll back and forth as she tried to adjust to not being in a bubble, let alone having a normal form again. Her eyes began to focus, focus directly with intent rather than just focus because that was the only thing she could do, and eyes landed on Steven, and almost immediately her expression rose before acknowledging the rest of the Diamonds on their spots next to the ‘human’. What was going on? Why was she on Homeworld, and how were the other Diamonds in the same room as Rose Quartz without stomping her into dust?

Jasper attempted to voice something, voice her own confusion and ask someone, what was going on. She wanted to show respect and formality to the leaders of her home planet, she wanted to summon her crash helmet and tear Rose to shreds herself. However, when she attempted to carry these out, talk, scream, let alone stand up on two feet, she groaned achingly, and found herself cowering closer to the smooth, glossy floor. And when Rose Quartz stepped closer and pressed her disgustingly disguised body against her shoulder to keep her balanced, she shamefully accepted the help.

“Jasper,” Steven’s voice started off soft, even if he knew at this point Jasper was more confused and angrier than sacred. “It’s been a while. There’s a lot that’s happened since.”

He had no idea if Jasper was listening to him, her eyes were trained on the three larger women, who in return, stared back. Yellow was stoic, White was more curious than anything, and Blue showed something Steven could only describe as sympathy. Though, Jasper’s gaze soon returned to Steven’s, and this time instead of confusion or anything of the sort, she looked stern and expecting, as if she were expecting an answer to a question she had already seemed form. Even If Jasper didn’t want to talk, Steven already knew what she would ask.

The boy could see it in her eyes, she had already begun to put two and two together; the fact that Rose Quartz was right there, able to hold a beloved Homeworld soldier in her arms right next to the Diamonds, which would’ve never happened if things played out as planned. If they did, Rose would already be executed.

Thousands of years ago.

With her own bare hands.

Steven found himself scraping his thumb between his index and middle finger, and whether Jasper could see the obvious anxiety in his form was unknown to him. For just a second, his gaze focused onto the Diamonds, looking for any reassurance. Unsurprisingly, Blue was the one who gave him the smallest of a nod, and Steven saw the start of a smile as she encouraged him on. Finally, he turned back to Jasper’s direction, and let out a sigh he seemed to be keeping in for months. He had been imagining the next time he saw the gem’s uncorrupted form again; and it was nothing like how it was going so far.

-

"She isn’t talking, at all?”

The question was no surprise to Steven, the past two days he had been asked that nearly five times. The only one she didn’t think would ever ask was Garnet, and so far, his assumption had been right.

He turned to the woman in question, who had still hadn’t talked at all, legs pulled as much as they could into her chest, chin rested atop covered knees. There, she traced a single claw around the stitched insignia on the fabric of her uniform, her stare miles away. Yellow Diamond had so graciously offered her resting quarters to all the gems as they took in new information, formed opinions, and prepared for the first week of the trade. Steven had inquired if they could all stay for a few days while they studied Jasper’s condition; he had wanted Jasper to be in an environment she felt comfortable in, and she wasn’t ready to go to Earth yet.

The spire Yellow Diamond had offered for their stay was alright to nearly all standards; of course, it was chilly, which only affected two of the group, easily solvable by blanket forts and pocket warmers, but they all had a place where they could rest while they at east attempted to ease Jasper’s torrent of self-decapitating thoughts. She may have been completely uncorrupted, but they didn’t know the side effects of such strain to her body and mind yet; something Pearl had required herself to figure out.

“Not yet,” Steven’s voice reverberated around the spire, due to the lack of actual walls in the edifice. With his reply to her question, the corners of Amethyst’s lips twitched, and her head was turned to face Garnet, who’s expression was almost completely similar. It was clear the shoddy quartz had been looking forward to reuniting with her ‘sister’, though it seemed that if she had any plans for her and Jasper to conversate and plan faulty tricks against the poor gems residing in the temple, she would have to wait.

"We can talk about that more, I want to get as far as possible from here. Quick,” an apprehensive voice butted into the conversation, and all eyes landed on the roseate boy currently leaning against one of the many arcs that surrounded the palace. Considering Steven had to be in his ship for it to operate, sending the Gems home in it would not be compatible to the pact. Sure, Pearl could find a way to operate it without him but considering she would be staying with Steven on his trips to Homeworld, that wasn’t an option either.

Just as their back up had stated, they had an entire intergalactic pirate gang ready to take the remaining Gems home, even if they had to make their way through impolite Diamond stares (“I think she’s broken,” Blue Diamond had stated when the Padparadscha Sapphire had yet to respond to her greeting. Soon after, Padparadscha shrieked, and attempted to pull a ‘Jasper’ and bite her finger off).

Lars was walking on pins and needles, just like the second fidelity fusion, Rhodonite, had as well. She had refused to step inside the spire at first, frantically rambling about a ‘Morganite’ and ‘still might be here’, though violently gripping Garnet’s palm, she had managed to take hesitant steps into the Homeworld grounds. Now, nearly two days later, she seemed as relaxed as possible, sitting between one of the many apertures, quietly chatting away with Fluorite, who had been a bit more relaxed in the first place than Rhodonite.

“You don’t have to worry…Captain,” unwrinkled words reassured the teenager, the pause only inevitable by Pearl’s missing knowledge of his name, and as she handed Steven’s beloved Georgia hot shaped bag into Amethyst’s possession, in to which the Rhodonite stares intently, confused, before she shakes her head in acknowledgement. “You and your crew and start preparing the Sun Incinerator, you can be on track back to Earth in just a few moments.”

With the news that the way back home would be beginning to board, almost everyone lazily sprawled around the spire floor and fenestrae all jumped with activity, whether it be rushing hurriedly where the ship had been parked or crowding the two staying and saying their momentary goodbyes.

“Do everything I wouldn’t do,” the badgering remark as well of the ruffle of the boy’s dark curls had Steven diverted, and as arms barely reached around Garnet’s curvilineal waist, she continued to speak, “You’re stronger than all of us, Steven, you’ve got this.”

“Don’t worry,” on the other side of the grounding, Pearl was attempting to pry Amethyst’s hardened grip against her waist, and if the agile Gem had needed air to live, she would be out immediately. Still, the undersized Quartz fussed, further nuzzling her front into the curve of the dancer’s midriff, in which Pearl wooed, allowing Amethyst to burrow against her lithe form for just a moment more. “I’ve been catching myself up on how to use Homeworld technology, we can communicate anytime you want.”

Steven snickered at both interactions, momentarily forgetting the lonely, muliebrous gem still pressed against the archway. She had been the only one to stay put, and completely, Garnet, Amethyst, Pearl, and Steven quieted as all eyes seemed to train onto Jasper. Steven couldn’t take it, and without hesitation, she urged Garnet and Amethyst forward towards the rest of the Gems that had already left the spire.

Thin arms wrapped across his stomach from behind, and not without a fit of snickering, both Steven and Connie turned their positions to face each other.

“When I get back, I’ll share everything that happened, down to every single minute,” Steven knew that Connie had felt disappointment knowing she would have to come back home with the Gems, and miss out on the adventures Steven would be facing on the home planet. The mood had been lifted when Pearl reminded her once the deal and visits became more solid and normal, with her parents permission, she’d be able to attend as well. “And you’ll have to tell me everything that happened on Earth.”

“As if that’ll be any news,” the source of the nasality voice had been silent for nearly the entire time they had arrived at the spire, only prompted to speak to either criticize anyone or with conversation with Steven, who Yellow Pearl still insisted on calling ‘Pink Diamond’. Reluctantly, Yellow Diamond had offered her Pearl as the first Homeworld gem to stay with the Crystal Gems while two of their own had to stay in an unfamiliar place as well. By both logistical viewpoints, each side would keep up with their pact in order to provide for the well beings of their teammates.

 

A large, final group hug indicated the farewell of the Crystal Gems, and it wasn’t long before Pearl and Steven were leading the rest of the Crystal Gems (and Yellow) towards where the portico of the ship had opened and laid down its platform, with Steven calling one last goodbye from where he perched next to Pearl.

Steven and Amethyst waved at each other impetuously until the ship’s entrance closed, leaving nothing behind but smooth, metallic wall.

And even then, Steven continued waving, to the point where Pearl had to use flexibility and the strength in lean muscles contained to trap the boy’s arm against his side, dragging him away from the ship’s engine and back into safety of the spire. Without nearly four times the gems, the space seemed much more filling, leaving more than enough awkward space between both Crystal Gems and Jasper, who still hadn’t noticeably moved. Only until deep rumbling dithered the ground below did she visibly flinch, and even if not necessary whatsoever, brawny palms slapped over the sides of her head, almost mocking how Pearl was currently protecting Steven’s ears.

The noise wared off as the ship eventually rose past the atmosphere, and both pairs of hands raised over ‘ears’ vanished, and silence engulfed the Gems once more.
“Alright, if I calculated correctly,” it had a while since Pearl had even used Homeworld’s terms to understand the passing of time, and she had placed the responsibility to relearning them properly upon her shoulders. “Our escort will be here at any time,” a hand fled to where her gem laid upon her forehead, summoning the beginnings of indigo light that was quickly transformed into something of a screen, something she also hadn’t done since deflecting the colony as ‘Rose Quartz’ thousands of years ago. “-they will stay with us when we aren’t accompanied by a Diamond or official the first few trips, and they will stay with us for the next half cycle, about twelves hours,” she added, knowing Steven would go blank with terms he had never heard of, “to bring a requested physical copy of Pink Diamond’s apparel for her Majesty."

As if on cue, a dull knock at the entrance of the spire directed all three’s attention towards two more forms stationed just past the port. Amethyst soldiers, Steven recognized, just like he had seen at the Zoo. These must be their escorts. The first one’s elbows were bent and wrists were outreached to form an obvious diamond just against her chest, and Steven had to remember that technically, he was their superior. Draped over a shoulder was what he could recognize as his mother’s uniform. The second one had her arms respectfully clasped behind her back.

“My glorious, wonderful, courageous Diamond,” the first Amethyst voiced, guttural words formed in compliments in attempt to please the boy, something that Steven would’ve never thought he would experience in his life time, let alone while still in his teenage years. The Quartz stepped forwards, just until she towered over him, something so unnatural and insimilar compared to how Amethyst barely came over his head. “We’re here to accompany you and your needs until the next half cycle, and will take you to where you will meet your tour guide.”

The Quartz carefully handed Steven the outfit, almost as if she were handing him a glass vase worth million, rather than what Steven could’ve assumed was a store bought costume abundantly manufactured back on Earth had he never seen them before.

“White Diamond ordered us to tell you, start quote ‘The next time we meet you will be given a supply of sustainable resources lasting till the end of this visit’ end quote,” the second Amethyst spoke the words with confusion, and as Steven tossed his head to face the soldier, the equally confused facial expressions made her questions apparent. How long would it to tell everyone on Homeworld that he was half human, and he himself wasn’t Pink Diamond?

The Amethyst still standing at the entrance had finally moved, her arms releasing from their position behind her back, and Steven could see her observing where Jasper sat for just a quick moment. Her expression started amused, then nervous, and finally returned to intimidated, and Steven remembered the stories Peridot had told her, that during the war, Jasper had been a respected, powerful solider.

Pearl had snuck up behind him while his mind wondered off, the screen dissipated, and Pearl’s hands covered in a comforter, which she carefully wrapped around the boy’s shoulders. “I think it’s time for you to get some rest, you’ve got a big day tomorrow.”

As the heavy blanket was rested over his body, he allowed his caretaker to lead him over to where his bags were placed against the wall, make shift pillows that with newfound weariness Steven concluded was the comfiest sight he’d ever seen. He lifted his head to catch Pearl’s eyes, who made no attempt to allow Steven to reveal what she was feeling. “Shouldn’t you get rest, too? Tomorrow isn’t just a big day for me.”

“I lived this day every day for more than a thousand years,” a simple grin was Pearl’s response, and Steven could only assume she was in the middle of a reminiscence of her times under Pink Diamond, memories Steven knew were bitter sweet.

“Yeah, but this time it’s going to be different,” Steven aided Pearl by resting himself down, adjusting the blanket over his sides and leaning down into the fort of ‘pillows’. Pearl’s smile was considerate, even if half forged. Steven was growing tired, and the warmth the blanket was emitting, as well as the hand that was smoothing down dark curls, was doing nothing in keeping him awake. “You don’t have any orders you have to take.”

The smile cinctured, and Steven could begin to see the whims of a frown at the corners of her lips. “Of course, things will be different time. Now, get some rest.”
Steven was more than happy to oblige, and even though he had no idea whether it was daytime or night, he bid Pearl a ‘gute nacht’, and eyes fluttered close, even if he wouldn’t be asleep for at least a few minutes.

 

The gentle hum of the ship’s engine was the only sound that resonated throughout the vector, and to Amethyst the altogether silence felt asphyxiating. Scratch that, to nearly everyone on the ship, the presence of no animated crowding or overbearing afflictions were unusual.

It was something they would have to get used to, considering both Pearl and Steven would be absent biweekly for who knows how long.

The new presence in the ship wouldn’t help with the disappearance, even when familiar nagging had begun.

“You’re rebels, aren’t you supposed to be…I don’t know, rowdy?” A twang voice broke the thick silence, leaving those who were not keeping watch on their route back to turn their heads to face the bisque gem, who, had seemingly strived for attention with her question, cringed at the spotlight placed upon her.

“We’re articulate, not unmannerly,” the muted voice of the venerable fusion responded, and an abrupt hum of curiosity broke with a grin. Garnet’s words provoked amusement from Yellow Pearl, who scoffed in response, in which the fusion replied with, “Tell me what you think we’re like.”

The pearl sneered once more, gesturing towards just about everyone in the ship; from the over-warmed Quartz, to the multiple-gem fusion, and the two humans, before speaking once more.

“Are you joking? What am I supposed to think? Your ‘cause’ started with a self-proclaimed ‘leader’ and a runaway pearl, was I really supposed to think you had any self-respect, whatsoever?”

Despite the cruel words, Garnet chuckled, and continued. “If you look at it that way. Maybe if you’d see it our way, you’d understand.”

A pause.

“If you could,” the last part of the conversation had the entire ship in question, quickly entertained by the whims of a smirk upon Garnet’s lips, and the frenzied expression Yellow began to display.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Complete silence from the fusion only increased the ongoing amusement, of course except for poor Yellow Pearl who had no idea what was going on, or that she was acting as the current punch line of a fast arising joke.

“Fusion!”

Chapter Text

 

While sleep had come easily for him, in slumber for almost ten hours, when he woke up, Steven was unimaginably tired. Usually, the only time he experienced nightmares was when another gem was trying to come into contact with him, or if a gem was attempting to slaughter him, yet when he had closed his eyes, he felt cold metal confined to his wrists and he still couldn’t shake it off.

It wasn’t much of a surprise to him as he opened his eyes when he spotted Pearl right next to his body, hands wrapped around skeletal knees, clasped around her narrow wrists.

Nothingless, when he pushed his body mutely out of the comforter’s grasp, Pearl cheeped, and with uncharacteristic inelegance settled herself as well, nearly foundering over the coverlet as she stood.

As the last of he initial lethargy left his system, he studied his surroundings once more. Jasper, still jam-packed against her spot against the aperture, hadn’t moved a single inch, though when Steven did initiate movement, cadmium flaxen eyes coiled to where he stood, hastily turning back to where they had been observing the ceiling for who knows how long. Assuming she hadn’t magically begun speaking overnight, his eyes went to the Amethyst guards, who like the night before, stood concrete at the entrance of the spire, and the boy concluded nothing compelling had happened overnight.

“...Good morning, Pearl,” the disparant comment acknowledging his caretaker evoked the two escorts stationed at the exit, and with notable speed, both had whipped around, arms arched into the familiar insignia he had grown used to. Pearl’s response was another counterfeit smile, though Steven didn’t prod, simply letting his nerves ease at rest assuming she was purely just anxious for the upcoming day. Steven couldn’t exactly blame her. He was more anxious for what the day would bring than when he was put on trial.

“My Diamond,” the first Amethyst soldier captivated Steven’s attention, “your presence will be required at our next location in a forty-eighth of a cycle,”  confused, he turned to his predecessor for help, who translated the words as ‘half an hour’. In turn, the Amethyst guards gawked at Pearl, equally as flummoxed as Steven had been with their sidereal terms.

Suddenly, attention turned to the discarded uniform from last night, bundled adroitly against his mountain of bags. There were no buttons or zippers as far as Steven could observe, and he knew that this costume was something he couldn’t just slip on with ease.

With cheeks rosing an undistinguished flush, he gyrated towards his caretaker, who locked eyes almost immediately. Her eyebrows raised in question, having noticed her the abashed expression on his features.

“Pearl, I think I need you to help me get this on,” Steven’s finger pointed towards the outfit on the ground. Pearl, as per usual, seemed to understand right away, and with the briskest nod, she hooked the outfit under her arm, tucked carefully against her hip, before making a call to the three other Gems still situated around the spire’s ground level.

“It would be greatly appreciated if all three of you turned the opposite direction for just a few moments.”

The Amethysts nodded, obeying the requests and even Jasper closed her eyes, though he didn’t know whether it was because of what he asked or because she was reminiscing in her mind.

-

“After you, My Diamond,” just twenty minutes later, Steven had been dressed, banqueted breakfast, and now it was time for him to start his first day as ‘Pink Diamond: ruler of Homeworld’.  Most of the required bags had been hastily consigned into Pearl’s dimensional pocket, though after a quick convocation of consideration, the hot dog bag stayed out, tucked tenderly under Pearl’s bicep.  Now, where they had been led to a primitive warp pad situated just outside the spire, Steven pulled the collar of his blouse, and had he known his mom’s outfit had been so itchy, he would’ve asked if he could have just kept his day to day clothes on.

Behind all four gems, a third Quartz lumbered closely behind, and seemed all the while disinterested at just about everything going on. Jasper had still yet to speak, though after an unknown amount of consideration, had stepped up as well when everyone had prepared to leave, even if she hadn’t had an option either way. Yellow Diamond had ordered her to come along with Steven and Pearl, and with the attention of an over-compassionate individual, Steven noticed throughout his time with Jasper how much she had been eyeing him since she had discovered the true relationship between Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz.

“Hey!” An undignified squawk from the thinnest gem broke Steven’s thoughts. He turned his head towards the commotion, greeted with the alarmed features on Pearl’s expression, as well as the mischievous grin pulling at the corners of Jasper’s lips. Even the Amethysts had stopped to acknowledge Pearl’s awed holler.

“What’s going on?” Steven’s inquiry caused the lithe gem to turn, teal blush coloring her cheeks as her eyebrows furrowed in new-found fury. Her hand rose, skeptically pointed in the Quartz’s direction.

“Why don’t you ask the one who thought it was a good idea to yank at my sash!” With the accusation out in the open, Jasper’s grin heightened. Steven’s brows arched, turning from one gem to another, and while Steven wholesomely discarded Homeworld’s stereotypes as much as he could, he wished he could’ve saw this coming; he knew Quartzes were hackneyed pranksters.

As if on cue, Steven noticed a flash of apricot race towards Pearl’s direction again, and almost comically had they been in a different situation, her entire form was thrust back, the hand against Pearl’s sash laughably retreated once more.

“Why you little…!”  Unlike earlier, this time, it was Steven’s turn to calm the gem down before a fight escalated, and stout arms were quick to wrap around Pearl’s midriff before she could properly confront the larger gem.

“Hey, come on!” Steven released his caretaker from his grip after a moment, though with quick action, he trapped an alabaster hand in one of his own, more as a tactic of stress relief for the gem rather than restraint. Jasper’s amusement had faded, and with Steven’ cry, any life from entertained eyes disappeared, and arms were quick to cross under her chest, now effectively distracted by the smooth, dilapidated marble of the warp pad. He would’ve asked the Gem to apologize, though knowing it would be a long shot trying to coax Jasper to speak, he restrained, and instead turned back to the soldiers waiting on the smooth surface of the pad. “Sorry," a quick apology was made towards the waiting quartzes, and without any more hesitation or distraction, he hopped on along with them.

Jasper and Pearl joined the three soon enough, and it wasn’t long before blatant light engulfed the gems standing on the smooth marble. The familiar feel of the warp stream brought Steven’s nerves at ease, and the hand that had originally clasped against Pearl’s stood back to his side.

However, the leisure that had washed over Steven came to the end as the phosphorescent light began to dissipate, and with time, he began to work out structures and surroundings through the azure, dematerializing rays.

Finally, the light departed completely, leaving the half-Gem to pause momentarily and take in his surroundings.

The room was large. Gargantuan, lipid walls loomed over the hundreds of other Gems making their ways towards different destinations, and along many apretures and openings, Steven noticed unusual scripts carved into the embankements, which he could only assume was Gem language. There were similar warp pads lined up as far as he could see, and near the end of the vast foyer, there was an opening what appeared to be a ship dock, the beginning of smooth metal ports available to Steven’s curious eyes. In the middle of the broad ceiling, a structure resembling a sharp-edged chandelier hung just past one fourth of the space between the ceiling and the ground. It was constructed from what had to be billions of allotrope cutouts. Surrounding the decoration was an aureole, casting silvery light to every corner of the structure. Glittering rhombus phantoms were propulsed as far as he could see. Everywhere he turned, gems of all types stood in lines, expeditiously capering from one pad to another, and more wainscoting at the entrance of the quay, the constant strumming of ship engines taking off rippled in the back of his ears. After a minute of observation, Steven concluded this place played a similar role as the Galaxy Warp did.

He recognized many different cuts of Gems; he could spot a few Aquamarines in the crowds, Jaspers pushed against the vesting embankments, chattering and gossiping away until an Agate shooed them off to a warp pad or their stations. Other Gems he didn’t recognize flew past his vision, and he even noticed at least half a dozen pearls, all sporting a similar, translucent web somewhere among their bodies. It was obvious that this area was not particularly restricted to just one court of Gems,.

“My Diamond,” a new voice filtering through his thoughts also caught of attention of nearby Gems, who had stopped at the mention of ‘My Diamond’ and Steven watched as about three dozen heads turned to all five on the warp pad. The Gem that had called the attention, who looked awfully similar to Peridot before she had been stripped of her limb enhancers, spoke once again, this time, her voice more besotted-like, as if this time she was more aware of her voice’s volume. “If you’ll follow me, I’ll be leading you to your ship that will take you to the Human Zoo.”

“The Human Zoo?” The beginnings of a smile plastered his face almost immediately, and had Steven completely forgotten where they were and what type of presence he had to keep up, he would’ve raced past his escorts, his tour guide, and all of the Gems and the guards stationed at the beginning of the ship dock. However, he restrained himself, and waited until the Peridot had turned before Steven followed. The Homeworld Gems that had gathered barely disparated as Steven made his way across the vast foyer, and he had to resist tucking himself against Pearl’s waist as they made their way to the bustling landing. Studying her anxious features, however, Steven decided it was his duty to bring comfort to the lithe dancer, and the hand that had never lifted off of Pearl’s gave her a comforting squeeze, prompting the tiniest of a twitch at the ends of her lip.

“Why aren’t we using my leg ship?” Steven’s audit barely prompted acknowledgement from the technician, despite the fact that Steven was one of the four galactic leaders of her and just about every other Peridot in existence. Steven shooed this off his shoulder as the fact he looked nothing like a Diamond, to his dismay. Maybe he would soon, however, he was still only a teenager and there was no way to tell how much he would grow in the next few years.

“Your ship is currently being worked on, My Diamond,” as they entered the passage way to the dock, the consultant froze for the smallest moment, metal fingers circling into a shape of a structured screen. At first glance, she seemed almost confused, however, eyes quickly fell to a ship near the starboard side of the wharf, and once more she lead the group of gems towards what Steven determined and remembered as a Red Eye, and finished her explanation to the boy’s question. “Once the technology inside is updated, you’ll be able to precede in travel in it for the rest of the trip. I apologize for any inconveniences.”

There were two more Gems waiting at the entrance of the Red Eye, gems that he had never seen before. They sort of looked like a cross between a Ruby and an Aquamarine. Though before Steven could ask what exactly they were, the Peridot interrupted him once more. He could ask Pearl later; she would know.

“The report my supervisor sent stated that you have no use of a pilot catching onto the ship with you,” as she spoke, the two Gems covering next to the entrance stepped back, as if graciously allowing access of the ship’s insides to the group of Gems. “If you need nothing else, I will leave you to your next objective,” and almost like that, the Peridot turned her body, as well as the two gems originally stationed to the opening of the Red Eye and retreated into the midst of the chaos of the rest of the dock.  Now, Steven would be on his way to his first duty.

-

The medial trip to the Zoo had been altogether peaceful. Sure; Pearl had grown angry at Jasper once again (‘’She won’t stop staring at me and I know she’s doing It to upset me!”), but once Steven had sent nothing but a simple stare towards the Quartz huddled against the wall, bickering ceased, and the rest of the ride was drawn out in amicable quietness.

The familiar structure of the Human Zoo came into view after what Steven could only assume was a few hours at most, and out of a nervous habit he had formed the past few days, fingers glided anxiously along the shortened frills of his sleeves. Déjà vu hit him like a truck, reminiscing to the time ago when he and his family had pulled off a heist in order to save his dad. He wondered if anything had changed since the last time they had come; maybe Holly Blue had grown less rude and churlish, perhaps the Famethyst had taken over the Zoo? Both options that had sprung into his mind would’ve been alright for him- the Famethyst would still hopefully be accepting of him, and he didn’t think he could accept any more mockery from anyone that could be inevitable if Holly Blue were still the same uptight Gem as before.

It wasn’t long before the ship had pulled into the dock, greeted by the checkered, pristine floors and walls decorated with astral diagrams and star constellations. The most notable, however, were the eloquent stairs that lead to where, much to Steven’s surprise, what seemed like the entire population of Gems in the building stood waiting, even more heads peaking from their places over the casting opening. Dead in the center, the familiar face of Holly Blue Agate stood with a chiveled amount of intimidation, even from the safety of the ship. The gentle hum of the ship’s engine decreased, and then completely stopped. Even as the ship’s entrance dropped once more, there was still hesitance in Steven to step out and face the crowd awaiting his arrival. There was no doubt they would remember him, but how would they see him now; as their leader?

However, he knew that there was still so much to do before the day ended and waiting around because of his silly fears simply couldn’t do. And soon enough, gripping Pearl’s hand with an iron handle, the ship was exited, followed closely by the trio of Quartzes, all five naked to the Zoo’s service people’s shocks stares.

The excruciating silence was nothing but nerve wracking for Steven.

Suddenly, it felt as if a volcano had erupted beneath their feet, most likely because of the loud crowd of Amethysts and Jaspers making their way towards the group, almost fighting each other down the steps. Steven thought he could hear someone exclaim “They ARE back!”.

There were a few moments in between the initial surprise of the crowd and when Steven felt himself become swiped off his feet. Before he knew it, he was pressed onto the shoulder of who he recognized as 8XJ, coiled ringlets brushing over his side. Throughout the commotion, Steven drew one glance towards where all of the Amethysts had originally stationed themselves- the only one still standing there was poor Holly Blue, shock present on her features, and despite her former behavior, Steven felt just the beginnings of sympathy for her.

He was placed down once more, though was immediately crowded by the towering Quartzes, with about seven questions being shot towards him a second.

“How did you get so… important?!”

“I don’t see Garnet or Ame, are they okay?”

“I always knew he was a Gem, I called it, guys!”

Overwhelming chattering and questions were put to a stop after the Gems quickly ran out of steam, and instead of exploding into another fit of laughter and excitement, stopped to listen to Steven’s answer.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you all. And there’s a lot to explain,” Steven felt himself stop short for a minute, and suddenly, his mouth felt dry. This was the fifth time he had had to explain to other Gems what had happened between himself, Rose Quartz, and Pink Diamond. Maybe next time he would be prepared with business cards for what would no doubt turn into a daily procedure. “Rose Quartz turned out to be Pink Diamond all along, and Rose Quartz gave up her form to become me, which means I have to take her place and help rule Homeworld.”

“He’s a completely different person from Pink Diamond,” an unhampered voice broke through the crowd, and out of the corner of his eyes, he saw Pearl hauling through prodigious bodies until she made it to his side, the basal color on the dancer’s cheeks barely noticeable. The beginnings of a low frown stewed her features as the Famethysts stood in silence, confused.

“Basically, think of Steven as an outer casing the gemstone is stuck in.”

Ohhhh!” Collective gasps of revaluation flooded relief all through out his body, and expeditiously, a silent thanks through a shared glance was created between himself and Pearl. “As for Garnet, Dad, and Amethyst, they’re all back on Earth. I’m going to be spending one week on Homeworld with my ruling duties and one week on Earth with my friends," he paused, “Shoot, you probably don’t know what a week is.”

“I don’t think you need to go into too much detail,” 8XJ spoke next, followed by collective croons of agreement.

“Of course,” a new, almost spiteful, voice came from the top of the chic companionway caused almost every single head to turn, followed by the unhurried click, click, click of Holly Blue’s heels as she made her way down where a mediocre gathering had formed. Nauseated eyes focused on Steven, momentarily stopping to review his outfit. And by the look on her face; she did not approve. “While I do understand this is a special…reunion, this is not in Pink Diamond’s schedule," hands originally glued to her sides, curled inwards at the wrists, spread out to combatively shoo the Gems away. “Shoo, all of you, even the escorts!’

Good, old Holly Blue, just the same as last time.

The soldiers were quick disperse, some finding asylum near the cavernous berth of the superstructure, though most were quick to evacuate up the stairs in a hurried bundle, leaving Holly Blue, Steven, Pearl, and Jasper. The Zoo supervisor seemed angered at the latter’s appearance, and just before her jaw could even open, Steven was quick to defend her presence.

 

“She can stay!” Almost protectively, the human stepped towards the Gem, who, like the past days, showed no outwards distaste or anger. The blue, sonsy Gem obviously felt unable to argue, and with a defeated sigh, turned away.

“The report I received stated we should tour around the Zoo for a check in and discuss the quality and condition we are in as well as potential interest for you to reign the zoo back under your court’s watch," without even the slightest of wait for response from any gem, she began to make her way back to the stairs, prompting the three she had left behind to follow suit. As they traveled up the luminous rungs, Steven wished he had asked to keep his original footwear on; the solid, frigid coolness of the flooring felt much different against his feet when he was hearing his tough soled sandals and the gaunt slippers he currently possessed. After this visit was done, perhaps he could ask Pearl to help him recreate more thick versions of the shoes.

Familiar surroundings brought nostalgia to the newly pointed leader; the long, transpicuous hallways, lozenge patterns embedded on the wall, and probably one of the most distinguishable features; the pink complexions. All over the place. For being half of a Gem with a name with the word Pink in it, he sure did grow tired of the color quickly. He remembered where they had been at the last time they had stepped foot in the Zoo. It was humorous; last time, he was a fraudulent prisoner, now, he was the palpable leader of not only the zoo, but the entire species of intergalactic aliens.

His brain had promptly wandered off, because before he knew, the band of Gems paused, right in front of the gargantuan, roseate entry, decorated in different arrangements of flowerets and posies- the same door that they had stopped at before, and they had waited until…

“I still don't know how to open the door," Steven didn't even know if he could open it, or whether they just worked for the gem race. Thankfully his caretaker seemed to notice his distress, pirouetting to the panel right at the side of the door and shooting Steven sympathetic smile. "I'm sure by the next time we're back the amethysts can perhaps update the panels so you can open the doors, too," the door leisurely slid open once more, granting all four access to the next part of the passageway.

“Ever since the outburst in the human containment area, we’ve seen more frequent outbursts of unfavorable emotions, which has caused the Zoo to use its problem-solving skills,” at Holly’s words, warm flush rose upon Steven’s cheeks, remembering when he and his father had caused the humans in the Zoo to detonate into an episode of bewailing, introducing them to an entirely new feeling that didn’t exactly feel great- all because his father had simply rejected them. Still, he was interested on what they had come to as a resolution, the brief arch of his eyebrows granting proof.

“We’ve found that the humans best calm themselves down with…therapeutic conversations,” Holly’s voice was befuddled, and Steven had to remember; Homeworld Gems probably didn’t just talk their stresses out with their fellow teammates. “The Amethysts here biweekly interact and communicate with each human, which has drastically improved their behavior patterns back to normal.” 

If Steven weren’t as polite as he was, Steven would’ve told her she could spend less time simply saying ‘therapy sessions’ (and would’ve recommended Holly Blue go to a session or two, too).

“That sounds efficient,” Steven steered away from the former approach, providing the Gem would most likely forgo the advice soon after. “I’m sure if it’s successful on humans, it would be a good idea to enforce talking sessions with Gems, too…?”

Steven was expecting some sort of formulated response. Not abhorrent laughter.

“Oh please!” Holly began, “Whatever works for simple humans would have no effect on gemkind, has your time on Earth made you forget how much more complex we are than them?” Not only was the response wrong- he couldn’t count how many times just talking with the Gems had helped relieve of acute stress- but was completely discarded. As they neared a door to the left, sentimentality deluged his being once more.

It was the entrance to the spacious bubble room, full of innocent, coral Rose Quartzes locked away in transparent bubbles.

 

CRASH!

 

From just around the corner, a clash of metal against Gem, followed by impious bickering circled across the reflective walls of the hallway, and Holly Blue was immediately sent into obvious hysteria. 

“Oh, those amethysts!” Holly’s voice was strained, and even before she addressed the Gems, heels lifted from the ground and raced toward the opposite end of the hall. “Please excuse me for just a moment!”

The fleeting clicking of Holly’s urgent steps slowly faded, and Jasper, Pearl, and Steven were left in the dust; momentary aghast. However, attention was turned back towards the hatchway.

“Pearl, can you open the door really quick?” With Steven’s request, Pearl respired discernibly, her words impassive to the boy’s determination.

 “We can’t go in there! That leads to- “

“I know where it leads to, that’s why I want to go in there!” Even with considering of Pearl’s cautious response, Steven ambled towards where the command pad lay against the wall, and he didn’t even want to try to open it, with the inexplicable scripting and patterns depicted against the screen. He knew in order to get his caretaker to comply, he would have to bring out his secret weapon.

“Steven!”

He turned.

“Oh, Steven, not the puppy eyes!”

With a defeated groaned, Pearl meandered next to his side, interpreting the patterns against the screen. With little adversity, the portcullis veered costivey, and almost as soon as the opening between the gates were large enough, Steven slipped through, followed by Pearl, and after a moment, Jasper.

Without the two large figures in the room, the room felt much more spacious. There was the tiniest strain to his eyes; considering everything was so much more pink now, from the vast masts stationed all about, to the large mass of obsolescent bubbles, hovering just below the spacious ceiling. The only relief to his eyes was the ceiling mimicking a midnight sky, deep mauve and periwinkle blankets with twinkling stars embodied amongst the backdrop.

“Now, Steven, I hope you only intend to look at the bubbles.”

“But they don’t deserve to be up there! If we were using their logic, the Diamonds would be the ones in bubbles,” Steven knew that it would be a battle to get Pearl to change her mind on the situation; even puppy eyes wouldn’t work this time. But if they all knew that ‘Rose Quartz’ hadn’t even been the one to shatter Pink Diamond, why should they have to pay such an unfair price?

“We can’t just unbubble them, they’ve been up there for thousands of years- Steven!”

Pearl’s words were completely ignored- Steven was already half way into the air, grasping his fingers towards one of the bubbles in the middle.

Pearl’s cry was frightened, and even had it been no use, her arms outstretched into the air, emaciated fingers unfolded, prohibiting her vision barely in the slightest. Steven kept his determination, through grasping onto the bubble’s smooth surface; even when it slipped from his fingers, abrading just barely against the outer part of the next globule, prompting a domino affect until nearly all of the bubbles had migrated against each other; against the wall, almost like a game of ping pong.

As the peak of his travel grew to an end, and he began to descent back towards the ground, he initiated one last attempt to cinch onto a bubble, arm outreached to the point where he thought the bone would dislocate. However, it was futile, and as he rapidly fell downward, failure was conspicuous on his features.

Consoling arms were quick to reach around his waist as he came just before the flooring, hands placed firmly to support his back. Once the initial shock of the landing faded, instead of being placed down, Steven found himself pressed even closer to Pearl’s body.

“Steven, I know you want to help these gems, but we can’t do it so quickly,” Pearl’s words were flinty, contrite, and soft, “Just like all of the corrupted gems, it’s going to take time for all of these mistakes to be fixed,” Finally, Steven was set down, though hands still did intertwine whilst Pearl’s free hand overextended back in the direction of the baldachin.

"If I was trapped in a bubble for something I didn't do," Steven wiped a fresh tear with the palm of his gloved hand. "I wouldn't want you guys to take time to unbubble me."

“I know, they aren't like you. They're bound to be angry when they reform. We’re taking one step on a time, alright? Now, let’s get out of here before Holly gets back before we can.”

As if on cue, through the impenetrable, perforate, portcullis, homespun clicking of familiar heels dully eavesdropped through the alloy.

“My Diamond?”

Despite how much trouble all three of them would be in, the inauguration of a smirk began to appear on both of their faces, and when Steven turned, Steven could notice Jasper, -while her lips stayed in a stressed, straight line-her eyes illuminated with diversion.

“My Diamond, where did you go?”

 

-

 

Aggressive, near ground-shaking debouching had been continuous for at least an hour, and both Blue and White Diamond had lost track of how many times Yellow had gaited around the elongated rostrum.

“Why did we agree to this?! Am I seriously supposed to go seven entire cycles without my pearl?!" The saffron leader had obviously broke with regret after not even an entire aeon of the deal. Even if the Diamond couldn’t and wouldn’t concede aloud, non-abased dependence had been placed upon her menial assistant.

“She is in safe hands,” Blue’s contrasting, affable response gave no relief to Yellow, who only stopped to glower at her fellow commander. “They know three of their own is in our hands, they wouldn’t dare to harm her.”

“What is she going to do without me? She’s probably already petrified without me to give her orders!”

“Are you sure you’re not the one dependent on her?” White’s opprobrious words prompted subaqueous blush on Yellow’s face, lost for words, even when Blue’s reticent snickering only abashed her more. “You seem awfully worked up for something you could've protested before.”

“This is such a horrible idea!” Yellow’s outrage caused no citable reaction from the greatest of the three, jet black lips formed into the usual, dispassionate smile. “We should just cancel this whole thing, why should we follow by Pink’s rules when she’s been nothing but disobedient for the past six thousand years!”

White nictated, detached eyes silent, increasing in the czar’s rapidly spiraling frustration.  “How long can we let this last?!”

“Don’t worry, Calyspo,” the tallest finally spoke, words effortless and quick, and with delicate subtlety eyes fell to the robotic-like pearl sown just to the right where all three of the Diamonds were positioned around the escritoire, her smile heightened.  “I think this will end much more quicker than you think it will.”

White’s cajolery raised conjecture from both Diamonds, who, in unison, turned to their curator with question.

“How so…?” Yellow’s disquisition aroused a conniption of apparent amusement from the statuesqued Gem, raising a fastidious hand, curled shapely into a fist with all but one finger, steered just below her chin, the salient, raven fingernail just barely grazing against the skin there.

 

“You’ll see, Calyspo, you’ll see.”

Chapter Text

The first day back on Earth was nothing but eventful, confusing, and all the while interesting.

Even the reunion- the ship setting down onto the warm sand of the beach, figures filing out of the ship’s entrance only to be greeted with the ecstatic  shrieking from where four more Gems had perched on the porch, now making their way down slight dilapidated stairs. Even little cat Steven and Pumpkin stood waiting just outside the temple door, Lapis and Peridot prominent in their new outfits- was nothing but exhausting.

Peridot’s outfit was nearly as similar as before, the only main difference was the flaxen star that had replaced the former diamond insignias against her chest and kneecaps of her bodysuit. Dark chartreuse, fingerless gloves instituted her hands.

Lapis had discarded her crop top and skirt for a jumper dress, similar in color as her original and cascaded down to her mid calves. Like Peridot, she had discarded her diamond, replaced with a fairly large star shaped patch, eastern and western most points outstretching past her waist. Her hair style remained the same, though whether it was intentional and permanent or not, the strands that enclosed around the sides of her face were coiled just a bit more.

 “You guys!” It was barely a minute since the ship had landed before Bismuth’s strapping arms had accosted the first figure closest to her. Luckily, it was the leader of the Crystal Gems, who greeted the joyous blacksmith with open arms. “That took so much longer than I thought!” Her joyous rambles paused as six unfamiliar figures evoked from the entrance of the Sun Incinerator, prompting her to move away from the packed hug.

“And who are these?” Bismuth’s hand outreached, motioned towards Lars and the Off Colors, who were wide eyed and barely paying attention to anything but the beach. When it was apparent they wouldn’t be the ones to answer the inquiry, Connie spoke up, a messenger between the star struck Gems and the blacksmith.

“These are the Off-Colors, Steven met them when he went to Homeworld the first time,” she motioned to each of the Gems one by one. “This is Fluorite, Rhodonite, the Rutile Twins, and Padparadscha. Lars has been our friend for some time now, he used to be just human. But now he’s human…I think… and an intergalactic pirate!”

“Looks like we’re going to need a bigger house,” the large gem nodded, much to the ignorance of the Off Colors, where little Padparadscha had just begun to show the same expression as the rest.

“And you need to make room for one more,” Amethyst’s voice was amused, her head turned the spacecraft. Suddenly, hands encased around stout lips, and called out with her voice raised higher. “Hey Yellow! Get out here!”

Twelve pairs of eyes had turned over to where one final figure had dubiously stepped just outside the entrance of the ship, hand planted onto the cool metal, and the features on her face were a disproportionate mix of alarm and loath.

Those who had stayed behind on Earth, still not informed of the constructed deal, gaped at Yellow Pearl, who put in the spot at the moment, crippled away from the stunned gaze, and to Connie it seemed like she was on the verge of crying.

Suddenly, Peridot gasped, sharp and boisterous, her expression one of absolute horror.

“What did they do to Pearl?!” And with that, Yellow Pearl actually did burst into tears. When Connie attempted to step closer and help the Gem calm, Yellow Pearl shrieked, and with inconsistent whimpers fled back to the safety of the ship.

“Looks like we’ve got a shy one on our hands, for whatever reason she’s here. Let’s hope she and Pearl…” Bismuth voice trailed, her eyebrows furrowed. Suddenly, her eyes bulged, and within seconds of her realization, alkaline tears pricked at the corners of coal eyes. As she spoke, the bottom of her lip trembled.

“Where’s Steven and Doll?” It was obvious Bismuth had assumed the worst of the situation, as well as Lapis and Peridot, and especially poor Greg; terrified at the whereabouts of his son, a hand pressed to his temple, his expression contoured into one similar to Bismuth’s.

“They’re not dead,” Garnet’s words brought immediate relief to the group of gems, where a sigh of collective relief was released through the beach.  With the simplicity and allayed expected from Garnet, she continued, briefing the questioning gems of their trip and pact. “Steven, Pearl and Jasper will be staying on Homeworld every other week to help lead with the Diamonds.”

“It was the only way we could get White to help the corrupted Gems,” Amethyst paused, “Or let us go in one piece. Since they get some of us on their turf,” her hand once again turned to the direction of the ship, “We get one of them.”

Greg’s expression was one of a scared parent, and absolutely none of the Gems could blame him; even if they couldn’t understand or empathize between the relationship between a father and a son. They all could understand the manipulatively of Homeworld and even with a deal set in stone, how down south anything could turn at any moment. It was obvious he was upset at the lack of say he had in agreeing with a pact that directly stripped custody of his child in half for who knows how long.

 “This is going to be strange to get used to,” Garnet could obviously sense the ruining mood- the rapidly spiraling depression that had started with a happy hearted reunion- and thus she was not going to stand it. “But we’ve survived more than just a routine change. We’ll be okay.”

She paused. A grin cracked the corner of her lips.

“Now, I think we have a few Gems we need to help welcome to Earth.”

 

 

It was obvious as soon as they had all crowded into the house that Bismuth would have to do major upgrading for the house. Poor Fluorite couldn’t even fit through the door.

Right away there were many problems across all ends of a spectrum of problems that could even happen that were called to the attention to the three humans and ten gems trying to comprehend the rooming situation.

The first thing they all noticed was how much the house seemed to have shrunk. It was easier when they had had only one new guest who could move into the bathroom, though anyone could see that the five new gems could not sleep in the bath tub.  Bismuth had barely finished reconstruction of the original damage to the Beach Temple from Blue Diamond’s arm ship, though now it seemed not only would she have to finish these repairs, she would have to renovate the house as well.

They had managed to coax Yellow Pearl out of the ship finally. She had hissed when Amethyst, Peridot, even the towering Bismuth had offered to help her get situated on Earth. Lapis had been the only one able to coax her out, and even then hesitantly. Connie hadn't even taken a mind to think about the culture shock any Homeworld gem would experience staying on Earth.

“She's probably confused and scared out of her mind,” the comment had been followed by an tedious laugh, though it was obvious she felt sympathy for Yellow, who since kicked out of the ship, had posted herself inside of the closet up in Steven’s loft, petrified of mingling with anyone else. The only other person it was apparent she could tolerate was Garnet; when she had come near her the first time she had hissed, though revealing the Sapphire gemstone hidden under her palm she had gasped in shock and apologized profusely. It was a bit of an understatement to say that even more complications had arisen between Yellow’s bubble of self pity and the rest of…well, everyone else.

 

“This is the bed,” Garnet had the most patience with the Padparadscha sapphire and had offered to show the gem around the house personally- if she had toured with the others there would’ve been immense frustration. A large hand encased a mittened one into her own, guiding it to the soft sheets, cautious of the gemstone pressing against her own against her palm. “If Pearl feels like she ever ‘sees’ too much lint she’ll get the vacuum from the closet and clean the sheets.”

Garnet found the slowed reactions incredibly adorable, and she relished once more in having someone to watch over and protect. Covered eyes glanced to where both hands were placed, and between her index and thumb she rolled a piece of lint. “If she were here, she would probably vacuum soon.”

Once again, silence.

Suddenly, Padparadsha perked, the hand captured under the amatory fusion’s adjusting to slid over the warm surface of the Ruby gemstone. “The closet,” she gasped, “The vacuum’s in the closet! I’ll go retrieve it!”

 

While the defective Sapphire’s reactions were slower than normal, her legs worked perfectly fine, and Garnet was a little too late stretching her arms desperately to catch the smaller gem. The damage had been done; she had sauntered across the flooring, both hands raised over embellished shoulders to grip the smooth surface of the door handle. The fusion could only watch with clandestine horror as the ingress was pulled open.

 Almost satirically, through the aperture, the obviously frightened Gem-huddled between the hoover and the mop- shrieked at the infiltration of her self-acclaimed hiding spot. Garnet watched in horror as the pearl raised a hand high over her shoulder as much as she could in such a crowded area, and before Padparadscha even had the chance to react, a saffron hand met a light maroon cheek with an obnoxious SLAP! Padparadscha, still silent and unresponsive, stumbled backwards, hitting the edge of the television as Yellow Pearl quickly scrambled to her knees, slamming the barrier to her hiding area closed once again with a shrill cry.

The noise of the slap caused all of the gems in the temple to face the commotion, and as Garnet finally rose to her feet, an anguished shriek finally came from the poor sapphire, prompting Connie, even from below seated on the couch, to cover her ears.

Padparadscha’s lips twitched, and just before Garnet managed to encase her arms over the irregular gem’s waist, she had begun to stomp back towards the closet, where gentle shuffling could be heard from the inside. It was clear Padparadscha was not afraid to get even with the pearl, and while the confidence was great, the fact that she was trying to fight her was completely terrifying.

Something that had concerned especially Amethyst the most was the fact that Steven nor Pearl had answered whenever they attempted to communicate via the allotrope communicator. The last time Garnet had seen the small Quartz, she had been huddled up in one of the many piles of junk in her personal room, twisting the Diamond over and over and over again, watching the luminance from the sides of the Diamond reflect as fingers curled along the edges. 

While they were most likely simply busy with the heavy responsibility of their new roles, though Amethyst couldn’t help but fret, and while it was a completely useless attempt of communicating, she had attempted to called both Pearl and Steven at least hundreds of times. By the third day, nearly all of the new gems had settled- even Fluorite had been settled down in most of the space in the upper loft, including the space near the closet. Yellow, upset with this, had finally left her hiding area, and while most of her time was spent sulking on the couch, mocking anyone and everybody, Garnet had been glad at her process of at least talking to everyone. Over the course of the rest of the week, all of them had heard snarky remarks about either their defects, gem faucets, or their position as Crystal Gems.

However, there was one gem that Yellow Pearl had learned to tolerate, enjoy company even.

 

“Mind if I sit here?”

Yellow’s shriek of alarm had nearly masked the question from Lapis, standing at the couch’s end. The bisque gem, disheveled at the water gem’s seemingly sudden appearance, silently shuffled just a bit towards her left, allowing Lapis space to sit next to her. The cushion visibly dipped as the shorter settled next to her, though she refused to even look in Lapis’s direction. She was unnerved, that’s what it was.

It’s not like she was afraid of a Crystal Gem, now that would be embarrassing. Silently, she brushed off her nerves over the fact the gem requesting her attention wasn’t a low status gem nor her Diamond.

“So, how are you liking Earth so far?” The question caught Yellow off guard, and comically to the other, her muscles locked, and she visibly straightened.

“A-“ her voice cracked automatically, prompting Yellow to clamp her jaw down, cough, and then finish her response. “Alright.”

Even without looking at the other, she could practically feel Lapis’s smirk against the back of her head. Silence was prominent after the response, and for the moment, Yellow was thankful for it.  She had conflicting views about this gem specifically; she was aristocratic, someone who would have commanded respect on Homeworld, but she was also a Crystal Gem, and even if they had come to mutual terms with her Diamond, this provoked nothing less of disgust and unannounced terror to the pearl.

“What’s my nickname?” If the last question wasn’t surprising enough, this one definitely was. With a sharp gasp of shock, she tossed her head over her shoulder.

“I’m sorry, what?” Yellow’s voice was much more expressed than she had originally planned, and as result, warm flush crossed over canary cheeks.

“You’ve given everyone here a nickname. Defect, Abomination, Fusion, More Disgusting Fusion…” Lapis seemed amused as she listed off multiple nicknames she had heard over the past days, and with each one stated, her index pressing against an outstretched finger on the opposite hand, much to Yellow’s dismay. “You’ve never gave one to me.”

“You’re different,” Yellow’s response was hesitant, as if she didn’t know how to respond. “You’re… higher than them, minus that sapphire stuck in that horrible fusion. That ruby is probably holding her hostage.”

Lapis seemed to take the answer into consideration, only a deficient hum following her words for a minute. Finally, a worded reply came to her lips, knowing and diverted. “Do you have a nickname for yourself?”

“Why would I?” With the feedback, Lapis’s grin further increased, followed by a passive sneer.

“Well, aren’t I higher than you?”

Yellow couldn’t believe the inquiry, of course she was higher than her! Stars, even an Amethyst would be higher than her, let alone a pearl. Gingerly, she responded with, “Of course!”

“Then why don’t you have a nickname for yourself?”

“I-“ Yellow’s logic was destroyed, and with that, her reasoning. With that, her jaw shut, leaving the water gem to gloat in her victory. She felt her cheeks warm more than they had earlier, and with an attempt to defend herself, her mouth opened again. “Why should I should I have a nickname if my proprietor is a high status gem?”

Lapis hummed, before she leaned back, palms of her hands pressing into the cushions. “You’ve got me there, but,” as much as she would never admit out loud, Yellow felt disappointment up when the water gem stood, hooking an elbow over her forearm, feet planted firmly. After the quick stretch, Lapis faced Yellow, and rather than a smirk like she had prepared for, a genuine smile, softest curl at the edge of her lips, was there instead. “We’re on Earth, if one of us has a silly nickname, all of us do.”

Lapis had stepped away from the couch, directed to the door, leaving Yellow in the dust with her cheeks a record dark.

Finally, Lapis turned once more, from her cheekbone down capped by deep cerulean strands. “Welcome to Earth, Canary.”

And as Lapis left Yellow alone, stiff silence replacing the former buoyant conversation, she commentated the nickname, the experience altogether, and what the hell was a canary?

 

The problems all of the gems faced throughout the week were tiny and at the most irritating, rather asinine dilemmas that required just a bit of brain storming to solve. Whether it be Yellow still refusing to talk to anyone but Lapis, or how Rhodonite had nearly gotten herself swept away into the ocean.

On the fifth day of the trade, things were beginning to feel normal. With Yellow reclaiming the couch as her own, the loft was free for Fluorite to shelter in, and Rhodonite and Padparadscha had volunteered for the bathtub.

To Garnet, there was only one problem left to solve.

Amethyst had always been intolerant of change or anything related, and locking herself in her room to moan on the piles of junk was a coping technique that the fusion would not tolerate any more either.

If what had been happening to them recently had taught them anything, it was definitely that holding things in too long was not okay.

Once she had actually managed to find a way into Amethyst’s room-without access to Pearl’s room she couldn’t simply just make her path down a waterfall after all- it wasn’t hard to find where Amethyst had hoarded herself the past days between the agleamed masonry and heaps of clutter. Whether it had been the sharp lashing of whip against alloy or the determined laments that followed after each one that initially drew Garnet to the Quartz, she wasn’t sure.

“Amethyst,” Garnet’s introduction was mellow, just there to confirm her presence- something that Amethyst completely ignored. She didn’t even look up from where she was beating up her poor junk pile, obviously overworked. If Garnet hadn’t known better, she would’ve thought she was about to poof from exhaustion.

With unneeded caution, the fusion stepped forward, still all too concerned for the gem who had been beating herself up for the past five days. Again, she tried to call Amethyst’s attention. “Amethyst, we need to talk.”

This time, Garnet’s words caused a reaction- even if that reaction was Amethyst abandoning her whip mid strike, allowing it to streak past its target, discarded over the pile of junk. When she did eventually turn to face her teammate, she looked absolutely horrible. It was obvious she had been crying recently, eyebags obnoxiously billowed, eyes glazed with a thin layer of tears; and it seemed Garnet’s presence only seemed to upset her more, because without even saying anything, unneeded breaths came out in sharp gasps. Much to her dismay, Garnet had been right when it came to Amethyst distressing over such a large routine change.

Without another word, Garnet promptly kneeled down, despite how abhorrent the dirt flooring felt against the fabric on her knees, and spread her arms out as an invitation for the other. Amethyst seemed hesitant for a moment. Then, after a minute of silence, the short gem finally made her way over towards the other, even if reluctantly.

It took a bit for Amethyst to actually come within arms reach of the fusion, however, when she did Garnet wasted no time wrapping brawny arms around the Quart’s midriff, and she felt momentary surprise when arms quickly returned its position against her waist, face effectively buried against one of Garnet’s considerable thighs. 

“It’s alright,” Amethyst’s distress was understandable to Garnet- not only was there an overwhelming amount of change happening, but two of her closest relationships was stripped, even if it were just for every other week. She understood that Amethyst wanted to cry, isolate herself. If the scenarios were switched and it were Ruby and Sapphire forced to split up, she would want to do the same; even thinking about a separation made her skin crawl, in to which tender rubbing against the small of Amethyst’s back continued, careful in their light massaging.

“I still can’t believe they haven’t called yet,” the murmur was barely audible, and Garnet had to strain to listen to it. Despite its horrible timing, Garnet responded with a low chuckle, the smallest of a grin apparent from where the Quartz tilted her head upwards.

“Steven is busy with his duties, and Pearl is keeping him in line,” while her words attempted, and succeeded, to be comforting, they also held a second goal, amusement laced at the last of her words. “They both have Jasper to look after, too. And besides, how would you know if they called if you’ve been in your room all of this time?” With the last statement, Amethyst’s stare widened, and she pushed away from Garnet’s grasp to bore holes into her visor, the edges of her lips curled into a frown.

“Did they really call?!”

Garnet smiled. “No.”

The sigh that followed her statement was an unequal display of disappointment and relief, though she did snicker at the realization of her double standard. “I guess, I just don’t want to go outside because of her. She gives me the creeps, and plus the last time I went outside she called me a ‘deficient waste of space’.”

“Don’t worry, she’s gotten better with calling us names,” Garnet recalled the beginning of the week, where she had begun to count how many times she heard ‘disgusting fusion’- it had gone to fifteen- and pleasantly considered the pearl’s progress. She silently reminded herself to thank Lapis for that later. “Why don’t we go out to the house and see if they’ll call us soon.”

“I doubt they will,” despite the diverted scoff, Amethyst squirmed her way out of Garnet’s grasp, gripping the hem of her top and gently ruffling it out. Once situated, she looked back up to the fusion- now standing with a grin- and simpered. “But it’s worth a shot.”

“That’s more like it.”

 

The itinerary back out of Amethyst’s room was taken in content silence, and Garnet was overjoyed to see the return of step and cheer in the shorter’s features; it seemed like all she had needed was a hug and a few reassuring words. Faith was restored that the pair still on Homeworld would call in for an update at anytime, even if unlikely, and quite frankly, it was re-ignited in Garnet as well.

As the temple door opened with a short ray of luminance, the shrill piercing of the communicator resting on the coffee table immediately came to both gems’ attention, and there was no hesitance to chase for the raconteur as it illuminated with light on and off and on and off again.

Even with the excitement of being able to see both Pearl and Steven again, Yellow, perched to the edge of the couch, didn’t share the elation of the two Gems, instead curled into her knees all the while further, glaring at the communicator with an intrigued stare.

Finally, it was Garnet who managed to grasp the communicator before its chiming came to an end and without a single trace of hesitation, firm hands perverted both sides of the device, successfully casting an allotrope of luster, transparent with a hint of coral.

The makeshift screen was clear for the first moments of its appearance, adding to the uncountable amount of anxiety that was radiating from the shortest of the three. Finally, after what seemed like days, a flash of white was quickly replaced with an image of two familiar figures, hunched over the screen with undoubtly confused expressions.

“Hello?” The thin gem's call was one of uncertainty, sounding almost static through the communicator. However, whatever complication they were facing must have vanished, because urgently, she seemed to gasp, ultramarine eyes widened, and thin lips were quick to form a smile.

“Amethyst, Garnet!” This time, it was Steven who spoke, and to the two back on Earth, it looked like he was about to start sobbing right then and there. A hand was placed over the edge of his top, right above his chest, almost as if he was trying to search for his own heartbeat. If Garnet was half-human, she would be doing the same. “How are you guys?!”

Garnet had begun to respond, though just as her lips parted, she was interrupted by a sob. Amethyst obviously had no intention to mask her relief at being able to see her teammates again, and with intent she crawled closer to the screen. “I miss you guys so much!” her words were barely comprehendible through the snivels that came with each unneeded breath, barely even bothering to swipe away the strands of hair that had grown stuck to the sides of her face.

“We’ve been coping,” Garnet’s response held more substance than Amethyst’s, who was ultimately content with blubbering incomprehensive sentences she knew were directed towards her lithe inamorata, who responded to the frantic ranting with an appreciative smile of her own. The hand currently not resting against Amethyst’s back pointed back towards the couch, to which its component squeaked, almost offended at the sudden onslaught of attention. “She’s been getting used to how we roll around here.”

Yellow Pearl merely hissed in response, her mouth downturned in a hostile frown, to which Garnet found amusing. “As if I had a choice to come here in the first place!”

With the hostile remark, quick silence was shared between the five, Steven's face turning an obvious pink.

“Anyways,” in an attempt to change the topic, which resulted in a glance that screamed ‘thank you’ from Pearl, Garnet continued the conversation. “What’s been keeping you two busy?”

Steven let out an exaggerated sigh, his following words laced with both exhaustion and excitement. “So much! This week we’ve been stationed at the Human Zoo, and so much has changed!” Garnet had just then taken the time to observe behind the two, only to be greeted with more…pink. The only thing she could make out was steps behind them, and the beginnings of a pillar to their left. “Holly Blue is still the same, but they’ve started counseling sessions with the Zoomans! And next the week we're here, we might be letting the rose quartzes bubbled in Pink Diamond’s room!” At the last statement, Pearl visibly coiled, and gently, she eased Steven away from the screen, where he had somehow come to overtake nearly three fourths of what the gems on Earth could see.

“I said we’re going to talk about the possibility of letting them go,” she corrected the boy, her words followed by a venomous frown that while not directed towards Steven, directed towards someone. “It’s going to be much more than just letting them go all on a whim.”

While Steven appeared thoroughly disappointed at Pearl’s correction, the acknowledgment of a future discussion was abandoned, and despite redoubling efforts, he came closer to the screen once more, looking out beyond just Garnet and Amethyst. However, disappointment became apparent again. “Where’s Connie?”

“She had some sort of practice,” Amethyst’s response, while informal, was a bit empathic towards Steven, who had obviously felt unkept excitement to talk with the knight again. “It has been five days, after all.”

“We’ll make sure to tell her you said hello.” Steven lit up at Garnet’s addition, and pulling away from the screen again, he responded with, “Thanks, Garnet!”

As quickly as the topic had been brought up, it was tossed aside by Steven, who involuntarily gasped and reached out for the hidden communicator. The image from the other side shifted, and when it adjusted again, rather than facing Pearl and Steven, Jasper came into view, curled against one of the rotund pillars situated near the entrance of where ever they were in. At the movement spotted out of the corner of her eye, Jasper’s head turned, facing the screen. Her expression showed no current emotion, only hidden interest demonstrated through the raise of her brow.

“Say hi, Jasper!” Steven’s command was overstated, almost overbearing, especially when Jasper did nothing to acknowledge the suggestion, merely curling the top of her boot over a clawed index finger.  A downhearted sigh could be heard out of screen, and it wasn’t long before Pearl and Steven became situated on the screen once more.

“She still hasn’t talked yet?” Amethyst seemed much more disappointed at the aspect of Jasper’s inability- or refusal- to speak.  No one knew the full effects of the corruption yet, not even the Diamonds, and whether or not she would ever talk again was still a mystery only time would solve.

“Not yet, though when we get back, I’m going to start helping her relearn how to!”  While obvious it wouldn’t be as easy as sitting Jasper down on the couch and telling her to “Speak!”, it was also clear Steven was determined to help Jasper regain full ability. “Or at least let her know it’s okay to talk again!”

“She may not be speaking, Amethyst,” Pearl’s words shifted the mood, from neutral disappointment and slight concern to amusement, and in Pearl’s voice, irritation. “But she’s just about as mischievous as you are. I’ve lost count of how many times she’s pulled at my sash.” While obviously annoying in the eyes of the dancer, to everyone else, even Yellow, an elongated chorus of chuckling became apparent, much to Pearl’s disbelief. “Though, I have to admit, it’s nice to have a reminder of what I have to come home to.”

From Steven’s side of the screen, a knock from the other side of the room captured both of their attention, and Pearl’s chide of “Yes?” commenced the beginning of a quiet period of silence. From where Garnet and Amethyst were, they could hear the dull grumbling of a third voice, whose words seemed to fill Steven and Pearl with both disappointment and joy. Finally, the sound of a heavy door sliding shut prompted both Steven and the dancer to face back towards Garnet and Amethyst.

“We have to go!” Steven grabbed at something behind him, beige straps clasped in his fist. “They’re doing renovations on the Leg ship right now, and the fastest ship they have on such a short notice is going to take two days to get us home!”

“Sounds reasonable,” Garnet’s hidden gaze turned to the pearl still curled onto the couch, who had been rather comfortable with the lack of attention on her. “Soon Lars will be taking Yellow back to Homeworld on the Sun Incinerator.”

“Thank the stars!”

Despite Yellow’s overly excited- and rather offensive- cry, Amethyst’s attention was still on Pearl, who in return, continued to smile right back. “You promise you get back here safe, alright?” Her words were teasing, and rather than scoffing, Pearl tittered back in response.

“I will, only as long as you promise to keep the temple as clean as you can.” Her snigger only increased as Amethyst’s hand fell to her temple, fingers curled into her palm except for her index and middle, as a sign of salutation.

“I promise I’ll let you down, P.”

“You better.”

“Come on Pearl, we have to go!” A large hand was placed around Pearl’s thin wrist, promptly breaking her gaze away from the smaller Quartz, and she barely had time to bid both gems a formal goodbye before the image paused, and after a moment, completely vanished, light returning into the communicator, falling back onto the surface of the coffee table once more.

 

 

“Just wait, Steven!” Pearl’s shout came out in the form of a frantic laugh as she was pulled along, though the grip against her wrist was eventually released, replaced by the bag that was quickly shoved into her reach. She was just as excited as the boy to return home to their friends, except unlike him, she was able to keep it refrained much easier. Even Jasper, who had still yet to speak a single word, seemed to show some level of joy at being able to escape the Zoo; Pearl had caught her on multiple occasions resting her hand to her forehead in obvious frustration, visibly restless. “You’re going to have to give me a minute to get all of our bags in my gem!”

“We can do that on the ship!” Steven didn’t even stop to exclaim his busy cry, hooking as many of his personal bags as he could over his wrists, using the wall as an anchor to balance on. He loved reuniting with the Famethyst, and even if she was frustrating at times, Holly Blue, but the aspect of being able to leave back for Earth as soon as they could was too much for him to handle. How could Pearl expect him to take it easy? The sooner they could get back to Earth, he decided, the better.

He knew better than attempting to drag Jasper along- he had tried it earlier, and he refused to ever cause that much pain to his back again-, and thankfully Jasper showed no signs of even needing him to. She had grown to the habit of following Steven’s steps the past week, which she seemed content with, and didn’t even complain when he draped one of his pillows between her bicep and hip, lodged between the small gap there. It was obvious to Steven that she had grown used to Steven’s exuberant fits.

Not even thirty seconds after the call with the gems back on Earth had ended, all three had packed up, and were on their way to meet up with the two Amethysts they knew were waiting right outside.

The Amethysts seemed shocked at the fast appearance of the gems emerging from the room, though didn’t find any need to complain. Still dazed, the Quartz nearest to the door’s frame spoke, her voice cracking and low.

“My Diamond, your ship awaits for you at the dock.”

Steven did not have the patience to wait to be escorted, and while he knew against his better judgement that waiting would’ve been better for his reputation as a leader, his own body betrayed him, pacing past the Amethysts and hadn’t it been for his sheer willpower he would’ve raced his way to the dock. Pearl and Jasper were quick to follow in his lead, leaving the poor Amethysts behind in their dust, confused and ultimately betrayed.

The past week, despite its rocky start, had been exciting and full of surprise after surprise. She had been hoping to hear even just a single word from Jasper, and while disappointed at the lack of, he was determined to help her when they reached Earth. He had already been informed of his schedule for next week- he’d be back at the Zoo, even if he had already had his fill of all of the agonizingly pink walls- and while he knew technically the week was still yet to be finished, he could conclude that Pearl would give him slack for acting a bit more loosely as his last few moments as a ruler for this week.

It wasn’t much of a shock to Steven when he spotted all of the supervisors of the Zoo waiting for him just outside the ship’s entrance- another Red Eye-, and as quickly as he possibly could without tripping down the reflective flooring, he skipped down to the landing, stair by stair, while Jasper and Pearl merely followed in a more reserved matter. Holly was the first to confront the group, her posture stiff and rigid, her hands pressed together behind her back.

“My Diamond, I hope that we’ve made your stay as comfortable as possible,” with faux concern, she stepped aside, nearly toppling over poor Carnelian, and one hand slid from its position against the opposing appendage, pointed in the direction of the awaiting ship. “We await your next visit.”

 

Chapter Text

Steven couldn’t believe that out of everything that had happened in the past seven days, the Red Eye landing on the beach was the most terrifying thing that had happened.

It wasn’t the fact that anything morbid or horrifying was happening when the ship had docked on the warm sand. It wasn’t watching the Red Eye retreat back into Earth’s atmosphere, becoming a tiny dot with the rest of the stars beginning to appear as the sky grew with oranges and yellows and reds; It was walking up the steps of the beach house. It was walking into the temple, pitch black, hearing mysterious shuffling in all different directions. It was when the lights flicked on, and a loud, collective shout of “Surprise!” followed profusely, and from the corner of his eyes he could see the thin gem beside him visibly jump.

It wasn’t long before he was engulfed in two different pairs of arms, immediately grateful for his lack of claustrophobia. He wasn’t surprised that Connie and was father were the first people to physically greet him; he was thankful even and embraced back with an equal amount of force.He didn’t realize he was crying until Connie had scooted back, pressing a gentle thumb to his cheek, which in return, made both of them cry even harder.

“I’m so glad that you’re back, it seems like its been forever since I last saw you!” Connie’s words were rushed, barely comprehensible, and even if she hadn’t been in the middle of a tearful, emotional reunion, she wouldn’t have tried to correct herself either way. “You have to tell me everything that happened!”

“I will, I promise,” Steven’s voice was equally galloped, and even as they were pulled away, his hands stayed pulled to Connie’s own, overwhelmed with emotion. “But I need to see everyone first!”

Their moment was paused momentarily as a loud crash to their left prompted everyone in the house to turn.

Surprisingly, it was Amethyst who was crying, toppled over Pearl-who had been effectively brought to the ground- her face buried into the lithe gem’s diminutive chest, fingers curled into the folds of her sash. Pearl seemed equally as hysterical, her head, resting against the wooded grounding, thrown back. While he couldn’t tell whether or not she was crying like Amethyst, Steven could only assume she was.

With both reunions thoroughly recognized, it was time for Steven to acknowledge the rest of the gems inside of the house. Bismuth was going to have to do renovations.

The first duo he noticed was propped against the kitchen island, and even from meters away he could see the obvious pride etched on Peridot’s features-perched against the counter-, clearly flaunting her new reformation. Bismuth’s arm was sprawled just next to her, and by the traces of dirt and dust sprawled over her cheeks, she had been hard at work refurnishing.

His eyes then shifted towards the temple’s couch, where two unlikely individuals sat nearly right next to each other. Lapis, situated in her new outfit, was leaning into the cushions, the smallest of a grin pulling at the corners of her lips. Right next to her, with posture drastically better than the former, Yellow Pearl held her arms pressed over her chest. Her expression seemed neutral, though if Steven really observed, he could pinpoint some sort of relief and distaste across her features.

Resting contently across the loft was the entirety of the Off Colors; save for Lars, resting just near the warp pad. Fluorite was spread cordially across the entirety of his long-missed bed, and Steven found it amusing how the Rutile Twins were lounging themselves against her body, legs sprawled over the dormer. Positioned right against the television, Padparadscha’s expression was still neutral, fairly called for with her continuous delayed responses. The last, Rhodonite was perched just near Padparadscha, her expression completely contrasted towards that of the defective Sapphire’s. Her countenance, to Steven’s confusion, was one of alarm and panic, her eyes glued behind where he was stationed.

Until then he had completely forgotten that Jasper, still silent, had been standing awkwardly against the doorframe, and as discomforted silence fell across all sixteen, her appearance was only more prominent.

“So, you all know Jasper,” his hand outstretched towards where the giant Quartz leaned against the doorframe, outwardly unbothered by all of the eyes on her form. He knew that the words were mostly unrequired, but to the three who had stayed behind on Earth who was unaware of her healing, especially Lapis, it felt responsible of him to give a warning. “She’s going to be staying with us since she’s not evil anymore,” He paused. “…I think!”

There was another, short silence that followed the exclamation, and it wasn’t until Garnet spoke a few moments later that it was finally broken. “I think we can all agree she will be a lovely addition.” Her words caused the left corner of Jasper’s lips to scowl down. “Our temporary guest will be leaving later today once Fluorite has finished upgrading the Incinerator’s engine.”

“About time!” It was amusing to watch Yellow Pearl’s expression of relief, and to Steven, it looked like she would cry for what he assumed was the tenth time that week.

“I believe someone has some interesting stories to tell us,” Bismuth’s words seemed to ignite- at least bring attention to- a feeling that Steven had felt many times during the week, and it wasn’t long before an exaggerated yawn broke from his lips.

“Actually, it’s been a really long day. I’m sorry for kicking you out of your spot, Fluorite, but is it alright if I tell you guys about the week tomorrow?”

“Of course, it’s alright,” Garnet’s words brought relief to Steven, who became painfully aware that he had suddenly become unable to keep his eyes open. He would have to change out of his costume tomorrow. “You look like you need some sleep too, Pearl.”

Steven turned to his left at her words, where both Gems crowded against the floor had stopped crying. Garnet was right; heavy dark circles made themselves present against Pearl’s usually porcelain skin just under her eyes, and the way they were in the middle of being open and closed only proved Garnet’s point. “I don’t need sleep. Gems don’t need sleep.”

There was obvious disappointment written on her face when Amethyst removed herself from atop her thin body; while they didn’t need it, she surely did appreciate the warmth that had spread from the shorter’s body to her’s. However, the despondency quickly turned to tired glee when she felt herself being lifted into Amethyst’s strong arms, her head leaning into her warm chest. “I’ll lay down with you, Amethyst, but I won’t sleep.”

-

“Steven!”

It was the same nightmare over and over again, every night for the past week. He could never see anything, everything was pure black, but he could feel objects and the past three days he could hear voices, too. It always felt to him as if biting chains were bound to his wrists, refraining him from moving from his position sitting on something cold.

He had barely had any repeated nightmares before, but when he had in the past, after the third time he was usually unafraid anymore, however, even after experiencing it for the eighth time, he still felt spooked.

Thankfully, usually as soon as the dreams started they faded away, drifting Steven closer to consciousness and beginning to slow rise of his day.

The first thing he noticed when his senses slowly rolled back to him was how amazingly comfortable his bed was. Sleeping with nothing but some blankets and the hard, marble floor had really taken a toll on his body, and he was suddenly grateful to have a mattress again.

The next thing that irked him was how uncomfortable it had been sleeping in his mother’s uniform. Unlike how he had changed into his sleepwear before resting the entirety of the week, he had been far too exhausted last night to take it off, let alone stay up past the sunset. The ends of the tumid sleeves had ridden up to his shoulders, making each movement uncomfortable. If he stayed completely still, buried under soft, silky sheets, he could forget the scratchiness of the outfit, and maybe he could somehow fall deep into his bed; maybe it had a pocket dimension like his lion, and then he would never have to get out of it.

But Fluorite needed her spot back, and he knew everyone was waiting for stories and tales of the week, which was why after groggy and drawn out hesitation, satin sheets were slipped over his pillow, away from his body, and immediately he shivered at the loss of the trapped heat. His feet met the cold floor and he grimaced, and suddenly he missed being inside a pleasantly balmy ship.

When he peered over the loft, he was surprised to see the two of his caretakers snuggled on the couch’s corner. Amethyst, sitting upright, was awake- strange for her considering it had to be no later than seven in the morning-, and the fact that Pearl was so still for so long in one place at once was a shocker. She lay sideways, her hear resting placidly against the shorter’s knees, her eyelids shut and her expression one that of peace. Steven found the lavender hand that gently cupped Pearl’s gem sweet, Amethyst obviously taking the dancer’s distaste of her broadcasting dreams and privacy into consideration.

“Good morning!” Steven’s shouted whisper prompted Amethyst to lift her head, greeting his cry with a grin, and it wasn’t long before she greeted him with her own salutation.

“Mornin’ Steven. Have you ever seen Pearl sleep this long?” Amethyst’s words held gaity among them, and when he squinted, he could even detect some sort of relief. “You know, you should sleep more, too. You were just an intergalactic leader for an entire week.”

“I had a nightmare, I’d rather just get up than risk having it again now that I’m thinking about it so much,” Steven’s steps down the loft stairs were light and miniscule, still adjusting to the brumal flooring. When he took a small glance over the temple, he was surprised when he lacked spotting anyone else in the house besides them. He knew Padparadsha, Rhodonite and Peridot were situated inside the crowded bathroom, and rather finding a space to relax in, Lapis had fled to the statue hand. Bismuth had stated she would find a place for Jasper, but with her off somewhere- most likely continuing her work renovating the structure of the beach house- it would be near impossible to find the Quartz. Especially not in these uncomfortable clothes.

“Yikes. Need to talk about it?”

“No, it was a silly one. Besides, I think Fluorite would appreciate getting her spot back,” Steven was thankful to see a fresh towel solemnly hanging across the hook rack near the front door, considerable in what he assumed was Garnet’s actions.

“I don’t think so. Just a bit ago Garnet took the Off Colors down to the beach. She won’t want her spot back for a bit,” Amethyst’s words seemed to disturb the sleeping gem across her lap, her expression contouring, and unconsciously, she writhed softly. Amethyst removed her hand from her gemstone and smiled. “Good morning, Sleeping Beauty.”

The nickname provoked a piqued growl from the waking gem as her eyes gradually slipped open.  Her cheek somehow found itself pressing to Amethyst’s thigh, so it was hard for the shorter to even consider the snarl hostile; it was adorable. “Shut up.”

“Good morning, Pearl,” Steven’s hailing evoked a shot of panic to visibly strike the gem, the drowsiness seemed to shoot from her form, and her eyes snapped open immediately.

“Oh!” Her posture splintered, though even as she sat up, she was still mellowly resting against Amethyst. Her hands were just about covering her mouth, and unlike when it had been due to the wrecking secret placed upon her shoulders for thousands of years, considering the light heartedness of it, the Quartz found it amusing. “I apologize, I shouldn’t have said something so indelicate!”

“Stars, P, so inconsiderate of the child,” Amethyst’s snarky comment was greeted with an elbow against her stomach, though quite frankly, even doubled over, she still didn’t regret it.

“I need to go take a shower, as much as I loved the accommodations provided on Homeworld, there’s still nothing like a refreshing shower in your own bathroom.” The towel was bundled over his shoulder. “I have a big day ahead. Yellow’s going away party and I have to start training Jasper!”

“Don’t forget you have to tell us everything about the trip.”

“Got it!”

 

 

Steven tried to take less than half an hour washing up, though in reality it took closer to forty-five. It was a miracle he hadn’t dozed off.

It was a relief when Steven was finally dressed into his own clothing, and he took a minute to simply appreciate how good he looked with the giant star insignia once again crossing over his stomach and chest. Maybe he could see about keeping the shirt on during his time on Homeworld rather than that costume.  Without the star, obviously.

The house was a bit more crowded when he left the bathroom. It seemed as if the Off Colors had had their share of the ocean, and as predicted, all five were crowded once again into his loft, where the Rutiles were much more invested in prodding the television rather than whatever was happening elsewhere. Pearl and Amethyst were still on their spots on the couch, though on the other side, Yellow Pearl and Lapis sat in the spot they had taken the past week, seemingly growing a bonding with each other (it made Steven smile, even if Yellow hissed at just about everyone else).  Bismuth and Peridot were at the kitchen, and to Steven’s surprise, the aroma of something on the verge of burning impacted. Suddenly, he wished he had a fire extinguisher.

“…Oh, you should’ve seen her face when he said that! She was furious, she even glared when she passed by me!” All pairs of eyes seemed to be stuck to Pearl, who, in the middle of a tale, clenched her fists and outstretched her arms. Besides her, Amethyst leaned against her side, star-eyed and grinning. It was obvious she was proud of her independence, and even if her week had been spent wallowing in her own depression, it was worth it to see Pearl’s ablazed confidence, and she was more than happy to oblige stroking her ego. “Steven has grown so mature and oh-! There he is now!”

Instantaneously, fourteen pairs of eyes were on him.

“Steven!” It was Peridot who spoke first, her shrill cry followed by soft shrieking of the stove. She would learn soon that she needed to concentrate when she was cooking. Especially with her metal powers. “You’re awake finally! Are you going to tell us about how you crushed Homeworld with your own bare fists?!”

“I didn’t exactly take over. I was kind of given it, really,” While it may have been a disappointment, it was true. He didn’t earn ownership over Homeworld, he simply inherited it. Whether he liked it or not. “But it was really exciting going to the Zoo! The Famethyst send their regards, Amethyst. I’ll tell you about them later, but right now I need to prepare for Yellow’s going away party,” that evoked a grimace from said person, “And where’s Jasper…?”

“Put her in Amethyst’s room, found her a bed and everything.” Bismuth’s response was met with Amethyst’s light snickering.

“I’ve had that bed for fifteen years.”

“She’s alone without supervision?”

“Gal’s fine,” Bismuth’s reassurance did the opposite of calm him. Despite that, he brushed it aside for now, promising himself he would check on her as soon as he wasn’t busy. “It’s not like she can escape without Amethyst opening her door.”

“If it’ll help you, I can go check on her now,” He perked visibly at Amethyst’s offer, vigorously nodding. He watched as Amethyst slipped from the couch, and Pearl, comically, almost fell face first into the cushion without someone holstered against her waist.

“Thank you. Now I can focus on first priorities.” Steven’s gaze turned to the thin, yellow figure silently perched on the couch, who cringed at the onslaught of attention from a ‘Diamond’ other than her own. “Sometime today you’ll be heading home,” Interrupted by another sigh, “So we have very little time to plan the best going away party!”

“I can go without one,” the adenoidal words that followed by the words were fitful, even if her features were enough to show her distaste. “I don’t think my Diamond would appreciate you overpampering me. I haven’t even done any work to deserve it.”

“You don’t have to do work to deserve a party, though.” He had had few interactions with Yellow, specifically, though from what he knew about Pearls on Homeworld, she was long overdue for a break. Long.

“Please. A Pearl being awarded for not following orders? Is that what you did with her?” Her hand, curled into a fist save for her thumb, neared the direction of Pearl, sitting on the opposite end with a newfound glare. “That didn’t turn out well.”

“If your definition of ‘didn’t turn out well’ includes having my own free will, learning how to fight and making my own decisions, then yes, it ‘didn’t turn out well’.”

“Good, Glad we agree on something.”

“Okay, okay,” He was disappointed that it would take more than a mere week to change her mindset, and while she would want to try and convince her at least one more time she left to think about how nice it was to act on her own, he wanted to avoid the argument before it grew farther, and preserve what confidence in Pearls’ independence she had left. “Let’s say you did a lot of work this week and Yellow Diamond rewarded you with a party. What would you want it to be like?”

“Irrelevant. I would never be granted a party. I would get an extra varnishing and nothing more.”

There was no possible way to debate with Yellow, and even if he thought there was a chance, he would never get the opportunity to. As soon as his mouth opened to speak again, the temple door was unlashed with an assemblage of light, and Amethyst rushed out quickly following as soon as the opening was big enough. “We have a situation!”

“Like…?” As Fluorite’s slow response was vocalized, Amethyst’s guise became even more frantic, and it wasn’t long before anxious hands racked themselves through the roots of her mop of hair. Whatever was wrong was freaking Amethyst out.

“Jasper is gone!”

“Jasper is gone?” The collective gasp was about as frantic as the original statement, and it was almost amusing to Steven how everyone seemed to react as if there had been a crack of a whip, everyone was on their feet, forms stiff and perturbed.

“That’s what I said! How did she even get out, I haven’t even used my door since I let her in there!” It was the first time Steven had seen Amethyst pace, uncomfortable shifting as her hand transferred from her hair to her lips, where she visibly began to lightly nip at the skin on her thumb.

“Okay, no need to panic, we just need to search for her. We can split up,” Garnet unsurprisingly took initiation, perking form her spot leaning against the wall. Her covered gaze momentarily switched to Steven, who in return, from his jean pocket, slipped out his phone, shifting it around his fingers rather than turning it on. “Steven can call Connie and they can search the town. Bismuth can search the battle field, I’ll check the ruins, Amethyst can check the Galaxy Warp, and Pearl will check the Great North. Gems, let’s move.”

-

Gems couldn’t be affected by the cold. They were made to adjust to any planet’s climate, they would be useless not to.

Still, that didn’t make things any better.

Everything about the Great North was dreadful when there wasn’t a first mission to attend to. How there was so much white and no diversity in color, how the snow melted against the warmth of her form and turned the bottoms of her slippers soggy with water. Why would a gem actively stay here, let alone one who could be inside snowless room, full of piles and piles of junk she could destroy if she really wanted to cause trouble?

None the less, Pearl continued, albeit uneagerly. It wasn’t like she would even be able to spot the Quartz if she was here; she was one gem, and there was acres and acres of forest. She could be at the temple right now, with her teammates she had been separated from for days, catching Amethyst up with stories. But rather, she was here, and she was not having a time with that.

And she was going to go insane with the noise of nothing but her feet contacting the packed snow, with each crunch, crunch, she was this far, this far closer to summoning her spear and driving it into her own gemstone atop her forehead.

It was impossible trying to get herself to even try just a bit to find her. She knew she wasn’t here. She would spend hours trekking through this snow all for nothing, only to find her back at the temple and informed that Jasper had merely been sitting at the beach the entire time. She was probably sinking her legs into the relaxing water this moment, and she was being forced to endure hours of this all for nothing.

Still, she had to listen to Garnet’s orders. She was their leader, and she still had trust in her.

CRUNCH!

Pearl paused. That wasn’t her. That definitely wasn’t her.

CRUNCH, CRUNCH!

Pearl barely had enough time to react before she felt a sudden rush of air whiz by her, just barely missing a large, swatting paw that had appeared so suddenly. Of course, she was so stupid! She didn’t have to focus on searching for the missing gem, but she could’ve at least tried to pay attention to the corrupted gems that could pop up anytime, as unfortunately demonstrated.

Even fighting, Pearl still held her elegance. The way her body arched and upended, creating distance between her and the monster. The way, even in the clumsy snow, her steps were calculated and accurate; her hands rising to the gemstone upon her forehead to summon her weapon, swiping the end of the bayonet once it began to form.

Before she could make her own strike, however,  she was swatted at again, this time, instead of completely missing, claws snigged onto the cloth of her sash, and rather than pirouetting forward like she had planned, the forepaw, with her sash still spiked, raised  backwards with a sharp movement, and the gem involuntarily followed suit. In the midst of being lobbed along, Pearl managed to forcefully pitch her spear, and even if it didn’t land where she intended, it snagged the corrupted monster in the stomach.

It wasn’t long-maybe ten seconds- before the claws lost its grip against her sash and Pearl was met with a face full of snow. While their bodies could accustom to cold, the straight impact of the packed and freezing snow against her gemstone was awful and distressing, and her mind was momentarily clouded as her hands reached to cup over the stone atop her forehead, and she groaned.

Even with her mind foggy as she tried to shake off the surprise and discomfort, from behind she heard careful padding that was growing louder by the second. She needed to shake this off quick, or she was going to become nothing more than a pile of dust.

“Watch out!”

 Suddenly, Pearl wasn’t about to become ripped into shreds, and she heard a loud smack!, and following suit, a POOF!, and she wasn’t sure what had just happen. All she knew was that her gemstone was freezing cold, and she certainly hadn’t been the one to poof the monster with her body curled and her hands nearly covering her closed eyes.

She almost cringed when she felt a hand grab at her ripped girdle, and she did squall when she felt her form lift from the cold snow. She felt a second hand gently grip against where her ribs would’ve been if she were a human, and from where her position was adjusted, she was nonplused at the figure who she locked eyes with.

Once she was effectively dangling in her grip, Jasper, who seemed uncharacteristically gentle, steadily lowered her until her feet lubberly met the ground. The hand that had formerly grasped against her sash released, though rather than returning to her own character, they eased Pearl’s hands from her gem. With unusual tenderness, the Quartz’s thumb pressed clemently against the surface, and she seemed to pause.

 “Cold.” Her voice was on the rugger side, though not as if it had been smooth and clear before. Pearl thought back to her first warning, and vaguely remembered how jagged that had been, too. She didn’t blame her, corruption was an intense strain against any form.

“…What- “Pearl’s words were ceased momentarily to throw the thumb against her head sharply to the side. “What on Earth were you doing out here?”

“Looking for corrupted gems to beat up,” When Pearl merely stared, she snickered, the pads of her fingers running to her own chest. “I’m a Quartz, I need to punch something when I’m angry.”

The answer provided no satisfaction to the shorter gem, and while she was relieved that she had been there when she had run into the monster, anger still laced in her mind. “Why didn’t you just punch at one of Amethyst’s piles of junk?!”

“I needed something real to help let my steam out. It was either a gem monster or one of your faces. Probably the fusion’s.”

“You could’ve asked one of us to spar!” From where they rested against her sides, her fists were curling, and despite how much she wanted to race to the warp pad to get back to the house and run a warm rag over her gem, Jasper needed a scolding first, in her opinion. “And you could’ve talked! Why haven’t you for the past week?!”

“If you had to learn everything you know was a lie, I don’t think you’d have the energy or want to talk to the ones that are the reason why that is.” Jasper’s tone was insensitive, though from the way she spoke, it almost felt as if it wasn’t directed towards her at all. This conversation was confusing her, everything was confusing her.

“Than why are you talking to me? Why didn’t you just let me take care of the corrupted gem myself?” Pearl was trying to keep her anger in check, even if he wasn’t physically there with them, she still wanted to be assured she was a perfect role model for Steven to follow.

“Because Pink Diamond hurt you, too. Hurt you the most, probably,” even if the answer was a hard slap of emotions to both gems, she spoke it casually, and she even shrugged half way through the sentence. “I don’t know why you gems think I’d want to join a group of gems who knew about this the whole time and never spoke a word.”

Pearl’s anger was beginning to calm, igniting from a bubble to merely a steam. She realized then that there had been too many misunderstandings Jasper thought as facts, and the fact that she and Steven did nothing all through out the week to fix them made her cheeks darken with shame.

“None of them knew that Rose Quartz was Pink Diamond’s persona, Jasper. I was the only one who knew, and I couldn’t say anything. Pink Diamond hurt them, too.” She was only partially shocked when Jasper’s eyes widened with surprise, and guilt? Pearl didn’t know for sure. “And you shouldn’t be mad at Steven, either. He’s not Rose.”

“Yeah, I’ve noted that considering how many times he had to say that on Homeworld,” Her eyes rolled despite showing no physical amusement or desire to tease. “Even if she… he was Pink Diamond, I wouldn’t be angry at him. I’m just- “

“Upset?” Jasper seemed to have difficulty finding a way to describe her emotions, and while she was still trying to evaluate her own, for stars sake, the least she could do is aid Jasper rather than make her upset. “Pink Diamond wanted the best for Earth, and I suppose I could be at partial blame for that, and even if she meant good, she was oblivious to the full responses to her actions.

If you were angry at her, you would have good reason to be. Just know no one else knew about this and we were all hurt by some of her actions. We all have much more in common with each other than you think, Jasper.” Pearl’s words were accompted with the nervous fiddling of her fingers, and she did that until she couldn’t loop her index over her thumb anymore.

Jasper did nothing but nod in acknowledgement to her words, and Pearl couldn’t be angry at that. It was a lot of information to take in all at once, and she wasn’t even over it after knowing everything for over six thousand years. “Now, have you gotten your steam out, now?”

“Yes. Are you just saying that so you can warm up your gem?” It was engrossing how Jasper’s former features of confusion, shock, and slight anger had completely disappeared in replacement of the coy grin that now formed upon her lips. She could only assume that within the next week or two, Jasper and Amethyst would be nothing less than best friends.

“Absolutely.”

 

By the time they had warped back to the temple, it was just approaching sunset. Everyone else who had gone to search had been resting somewhere either in the kitchen, living room, or loft. The smell of haloumi chicken radiated from the pots upon the stove, and Pearl was rather impressed that Peridot and Bismuth had succeeded in their cooking attempt.

Once the light of the warp pad dissipated, it wasn’t hard to spot the multiple pairs of eyes that crossed to where the two stood upon the marble, almost overwhelmingly so.

It was a lot more confusing when the unexpected greeting happened so suddenly, because the next thing she knew she was being pulled back into inept hands and she heard several weapons being summoned.

“My stars, what happened?!” The words made Pearl realize it was Bismuth who had scooped her into her arms, her free hand scoping through the ripped sash that was on the verge of completely shredding in half.

Coming back from the daze that had shouldered her, her head turned to the left, away from Bismuth’s chest, and she was agaped that Jasper had become suddenly surrounded, her hands stained together by Amethyst’s quickly summoned lash. Jasper looked just as shocked as Pearl, her gaze blank, and she didn’t even struggle against the whip restraining her wrists.

Oh. They thought Jasper had been the one to attack Pearl, not the corrupted gem.

“Wait!” Usually, Pearl wouldn’t hesitate to share a hug with the blacksmith, though considering the situation she was quick to wriggle her way away from Bismuth’s grip. She stumbled a bit as her feet met the ground, prompting the larger to stabilize her with hands on her shoulders.

Her cry was useless, muffled out by the sound of gauntlets forming. “I knew we should’ve kept her supervised,” Garnet’s bay was followed with short mumbles of agreement from Amethyst, who consciously pulled at the handle of the whip with newfound force.

“You let someone into your room, and they decide to attack your teammate!” Amethyst, despite her former excitement to have another Quartz to mess around with, was glaring at Jasper as if she had committed murder, and if she didn’t clear everything up soon, Pearl was afraid she was going to be the one committing.

“Stop!” She cried out a bit louder this time, which thankfully for her vocal chords, did the trick. Even though the whip still stayed where it was, painfully digging into Jasper’s wrists, Garnet stopped where she was, her weapons out stretched and ready for action. Even Peridot, who was at the sink, stopped, turning off the warm stream. “She didn’t attack me! She did the opposite, she helped me when a corrupted attacked!”

The words were followed by a considerably long silence, the whip around her wrists becoming loose, and then completely disappearing.

And then,frightening Jasper, a momentous amount of enlivenment bubbled throughout the gems around the temple, and she had to refrain from actually attacking someone when Garnet loosely pressed her fist against Jasper’s shoulder, a cocky grin edging her lips.

“Sorry for the misunderstanding, Jasper, thank you for helping Pearl.” Even though she had agreed -or rather, had been forced- to refrain from fighting with the Crystal Gems, she was still uncomfortable with the praise that she was receiving. If anything, only Yellow Diamond should be encouraging her, and the gems inside the temple greeting her like an old friend was a new experience, and she didn’t know If she hated it or not. Quietly, she responded with, “You’re welcome.”

“She talked!” She had completely forgotten Pink- Steven was even existent, and it wasn’t until she heard his joyous cry that she even thought about him since the conversation in the forest. He clung onto Garnet’s arm, the heels of his feet rocking against the floor, actively ‘see-sawing’ his body. “This is going to make training so much easier!”

“Training…?” The Quartz’s confusion was understandable; since she didn’t know any better, she was probably confused on why Steven wanted to train her when she was no doubt already such a great warrior. Learning from a tiny human, none the less, it was hilarious to her.

The leader of the Crystal Gems seemed to recognize her confusion, and while she wasn’t the one for physical contact, she allowed Garnet to swing her arm around her neck, pressing her hair against her skin.  “Don’t worry, you’ll get used to Steven’s vocabulary, soon. “

She rolled her eyes. “Can’t wait.”

Chapter Text

He found that the week had gone by incredibly fast; too fast for his liking. He loved Homeworld, but he missed everyone when he was there.

It was weird, to him at least, that Holly Blue had been the gem chosen next to situate on Earth for the week while Steven was here, and he could only pray that his family back home would be able to handle that. Garnet and Amethyst hadn’t seen her since their escape form the Zoo, and he could only begin to imagine the frustration that would spark between both sides.

Because of this, they’d be positioned on the Human Zoo again until they found her momentary replacement. Steven expected to be on the way to their next mission by the time it was time for Steven to sleep.

But until then, he was officially in charge of the Human Zoo. All by himself.

He supposed it wasn’t that bad, especially with Holly gone. The Famethyst, as usual, were incredibly nice, and he wanted to call home sometime so Amethyst could say ‘hello’. Even Jasper had seemed to grow a bit more comfortable with the Quartzes, and she had even stopped and spark conversation herself a few times.

“I don’t know if she’ll be the one to answer, but if she doesn’t someone can always grab her,” The words were useless and he knew it, there was too much excited chattering around as he propped the communicator against the wall. He turned to where Pearl and Jasper were on the other side of the barracks, where the thinner had summoned a light screen and the two seemed to be discussing what appeared to be was an interesting topic. Pearl had told him earlier that Jasper was surprisingly helpful when it came to juggling their schedule.

The communicator lit up, and its light began to take form and Steven had to cover his ears because of the noise that erupted through the expanse of space. Someone was answering on the other side, and Steven had to resist shattering the communicator because of how much noise it was creating.

When Amethyst appeared on the other side, Steven nearly doubled over.

“Amethyst!” A collective gasp of excitement followed her wide grin, and Steven was shoved away from the screen as dozens of Quartzes pushed their way towards it, and he saw his life flash before his eyes. Pearl and Jasper had stopped and turned towards the commotion, and while Steven had thought he almost died, their faces were amused.

“Famethyst!” Amethyst’s voice, despite slightly statically, properly displayed her own excitement, and the way she moved closer to the awning only proved his theory more. “I’ve missed you guys so much! How are you?!”

“We’ve been great!” Throughout his time at the Zoo, Steven had noticed that it was 8XJ who seemed to speak and stand for the entire group of soldiers, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when she was the first to speak; actually speak, not incoherently scream. “We’re greater now that Holl’ is over there. How’s she doing?”

“She’s doing horrible!” Amethyst’s grin completely contradicted her words, though he wasn’t surprised; she was probably milking amusement from Holly’s torture. “She’s been holding up in the ship so far, and she screamed at Garnet when she tried coaxing her out! Canary at least got along with Lapis, Holly isn’t getting along with anyone!”

“She’s been no where but the Zoo for thousands of years, it’s expected she’d get crabby,” 8XJ shrugged, just about as amused as her sister. “But because she’s gone, we’ve been able to do so many things. We’ve been able to go inside the human exhibit outside of counseling sessions! Those humans really are fun to chat with,” her words faltered, and her expression suddenly became ashamed. “I forgot about the counseling! It’s almost time to, isn’t it?”

“It is, why did we decide to call now? Now I’m too excited to do it!” 8XL groaned, and from where he sat pressed against one of the gem cubbies, he could see Carnelian and Skinny with the same expression, leaning against each other with the closeness of sweethearts. “We’re going to have to call you back, gal.”

“That’s cool, I can still talk with Steven, Jasper n’ Pearl,” Amethyst didn’t seem too phased at the sudden change of tone form the entirety of the Quartzes, she knew she had more time to catch up with her family. “I have nothing else to do. I’m pretty bored.”

“Actually, I’d like to see these counseling sessions for myself,” Pearl dissipated her screen, and the light returned into her gem as she turned to face the entirety of the other gems. “I want to see how much human culture are in them, they sound interesting.” Jasper seemed to nod in agreement, and Steven couldn’t help but notice how the two had practically become best friends. She had saved Pearl from a  monster, after all.

“Amethyst and I can just talk, then,” Steven was rather relieved that he could talk to Amethyst in private, there were some things that he needed to talk with her about that he had already tried to find advice for. He felt horrible that he was glad when the rest of the gems scrambled away, though it was quickly discarded as Amethyst spoke.

“How have you been, Steven, handling alright?” Amethyst and Steven had always had a unique relationship; like brother and sister. He appreciated Garnet and Pearl’s motherly-like traits, but it was just as nice to have someone he could be equally as goofy with.

“I’m still not used to how uncomfortable mom’s uniform is,” As if on cue, he pulled down the sleeve that had ridden over his shoulder again. “But it’s not too bad. The past day I’ve been really thinking about the Roses in the bubble room, though.”

“What about them?”

Probed on, Steven continued. “They don’t deserve to be inside those bubbles. If anything, Yellow, Blue, and White should be in them. It’s so unfair, and Pearl said that she would talk with the Diamonds about letting them out. But I know she’s afraid to talk about it, but she doesn’t want me to ask them.”

“Then just let them out,” Amethyst’s suggestion made Steven choke, and he had to take a moment to regain himself, before he turned back to Amethyst with a shocked expression.

“What?!”

“I said let them out. They deserve it,” Steven couldn’t believe how Amethyst was so calmly talking, as if she wasn’t telling him to do something that went against every rule he had been told. “It’s not as if they’re going to revolt against their Diamond.”

“That’s what the Crystal Gems technically did, Amethyst.”

“But the Roses aren’t Crystal Gems, Steven.” She grinned, “They can become Crystal Gems, though. Pearl would looove that.”

“Do you really think I should?” Steven was concerned; would he really do that? Pearl was frantic the last time he tried, how would she react If he actually succeeded?

“Even better, I think you should do it right now while the others are distracted, so they can’t stop you.”

Despite his concern and indecisiveness, he found himself nodding to her words and he realized now that he was going on autopilot and letting his emotions take control.

“Yeah, okay. I better hurry than before they come back.” Steven smiled. “Thank you, Amethyst.”

They said their goodbyes, and Steven’s feet were moving. He was really doing this.

The halls were quiet, and he realized this was the first time he had ventured off without Pearl or Jasper at his side. He was thankful he knew where to go down the rosy foyer, across the ship, and he was even more thankful that the screens had been programmed so he could open the doors, too; Holly would be angry at that.

Steven had been in this room the week before, and after that another time. It felt different this time, however, and Steven almost felt nervous stepping into the large expanse of space. The bubbles floating just near the ceiling were his main focus, and he barely registered when the heavy doors closed behind him.

Was he really going to do this?

Idly, he stepped forward, craning his neck to stare up at the transparent bubbles, eyeing the inactive gemstones incased in them.

He was, wasn’t he?

Would the Rose Quartzes look like Mom had? Out of all of the Amethysts he had seen, they had all looked partially familiar to each other; lavender skin, large bodies, you could tell what gems were Amethysts and which gems were weren’t. What about Rose Quartzes? Did they all have curly hair? Just then, he realized he had never seen a real Rose Quartz in his life.

How long would it take for him to unbubble all of them? Would he have enough time to free them all before Pearl and Jasper noticed he was gone? If he did, he would have to start the unbubbling right now.

He was thankful that he had the powers to levitate, because if he didn’t he would have no way to reach the bubbles without shapeshifting. And he didn’t know if he would be able to abuse his shapeshifting abilities to that extent; the space between the floor and ceiling was at least fifty feet, no doubt, and he was barely five.

The first bubble that landed in his hands really made him think about what he was about to do, and despite his thoughts, he managed to snag two bubbles under his arms He thought; he needed to put himself in their shoes. Imagine he had been locked inside a bubble for thousands of years for something he didn’t do. When he was let out, everything had changed, and he had no concept what was going on. He wouldn’t be surprised if there were negative reactions, and he decided he would need to be gentle and concerned.

Steven was suddenly  aware of the fact he was stuck in the air, both of the bubbles under his arms keeping him holstered and no matter how hard he tried, he was stuck. There was no way he could get down with both bubbles in his arm, that was clear. Rather, he came up with a new idea to get these gems down onto the ground. With struggle, he hooked another bubble over his leg, bringing it into his hands.

Then, he popped it.

With the two Rose Quartzes still holding him up, he gave himself a moment to observe the gemstone in his hands.

It was smooth, it looked like his own gem, minus the slightly paler hue, and he wondered if that was its original color or due to how long they had been in the bubbles.

He was questioned when then, even after a minute of observing it, the gemstone stayed inactive. The last time he had popped a gemstone from its bubble, both Jasper and Peridot, they were quick to reform. Maybe after being in a bubble for so long, they needed a bit more time to take form, and with that, he summoned a shield which would act as a basket, catching the gemstones as he carefully tossed them to the ground.

He watched as the first gemstone hit the shield below with a small clank!, and realizing that this would be a safe way to get them to the ground, he continued with the process. Using the two bubbles to hold him up, he’d grab another, pop it, drop it into the shield and repeat. It was a lengthy process, and by the time five minutes had passed, only seven or eight gemstones had found itself in his shield, and he groaned. The two gems under his arms quickly followed suit, and as he reached the ground, he paused.

Five minutes, it had been five minutes and not a single Rose Quartz had reformed. He dissipated his shield, prompting the gemstones to clatter to the floor harmlessly.

Why aren’t they reforming? He had never seen a gem take so long to reform.

Abruptly, the heavy door from behind signaled its unveil. Oh boy.

“Steven!” Pearl’s voice was more than agitated, if anything, it was the angriest tone he had ever heard his caretaker speak in. His head turned, and her expression was equally as terrified. Jasper was just behind her, though rather than terrified like the thinner was, she seemed more confused than anything.  However, it was painfully obvious they were both aware of the gems all over the floor.

“Steven, I can’t believe you!” Pearl made it apparent she wasn’t about to let Steven off the hook, and as she neared the boy, her hands flew to slap against the sides of her cheeks, looking out over the Rose Quartzes scattered across the floor. “What are you doing?!”

“I’m freeing the Rose Quartzes, it’s what they deserve!” There had been many times throughout his life where he argued with the Gems. When he was little, it was about what time he went to bed. Now, it was about whether or not he should be able to free innocent gems from indefinite prison.

“I already told you, we have to talk about this before we do anything!” Despite her anger made clear, gentle hands palmed against his shoulders, and she kneeled in order to come face to face with him. “Imagine if your mother hadn’t been a Diamond and you did this, do you know how much trouble we all would’ve been?”

Steven’s fists were clenched tightly, and despite knowing he had gone against Pearl’s orders, he felt no guilt whatsoever. “But the Roses-“

“Steven, I don’t think you understand what you did,” From behind, he could pinpoint the sound of the heavy doors shutting as Jasper had appeared just to his left. She didn’t speak, merely had her arms crossed across her chest, indifferent at the situation. “What have I been telling you since we got here? Only do as you’re told!”

“That’s not what rebels do.” Steven visibly challenged Pearl, and by the way her expression softened, and her frown disappeared, it worked.

However, she merely sighed, and this time, Steven regretted his actions, her guise acetous. “You’re not a rebel here, Steven. You’re a leader, and you need to show that.”

Steven was getting increasingly frustrated, however, just as he was about to reply, disturbance from behind him prompted all three gems attention.

The Rose Quartzes were lighting up, and forms were beginning to take place.

Immediately, Pearl seemed to sprout into a panic, her grip on his shoulders hardening, and he was ushered back near where the heavy door stood. He could hear the sounds of weapons forming, and Steven knew that Pearl had formed her spear, and Jasper her helmet.

Steven could only watch with interest and slight shock as forms began to crystalize and take shape, and as soon as they began, he knew that they would look similar to how his mom had looked.

It was a drawing moment between when the light had started and when it disappeared, leaving seven figures stumbled against the ground. All of them had hair similar to his mother; coiled ringlets that fell past their shoulders, except for one, who’s curls fell just past the sides of her cheeks. Pale skin was dyed slightly pink due to the atmosphere of the room, just like his own color, and it was obvious they were all at least seven foot. Possibly eight. His mom had definitely pulled off a good impression.

Their expressions were confused, shocked, and they didn’t seem to comprehend that they weren’t inside bubbles.

Pearl couldn’t either. When Steven glanced up, he saw a single tear pricking at the corner of her left eye, and she was no doubt aghast.

“What…” The first Quartz that spoke, the one with darkest shade of hair, had finally opened her eyes, and with a confused gaze, she squinted as she looked around. Finally, her eyes fell to the three figures right next to the door. Then, her eyes raised to face the remaining bubbles against the ceiling.

Her expression was no longer confused, it was enraged. It probably didn’t help that Steven was wearing Pink Diamond’s uniform.

Memories seemed to fly back to her, and the Quartzes behind her seemed to be placing memories together as well. “How long?”

Steven immediately regretted his actions, and as the Quartz stepped closer, Pearl’s spear was only gripped harder and readied even further.

“How long were we in those bubbles for, Pink?” The way she spoke her name prompted a shiver from Steven’s spine. She was definitely not happy. “500 years? 1000?”

“6000…?” Steven’s words were immediately met with a shocked mix of a gasp and a sob, and the Rose’s emotions only increased. Even with Pearl’s spear outstretched and Jasper’s helmet at the ready, she showed no signs of hesitation trying to reach at Steven, and he felt his life flash before his eyes for the second time that day.

He felt a strong hand grip at his uniform’s collar, and he was pulled forward and hadn’t it been for the hand keeping him up, he would’ve fallen to the ground. There were multiple different things keeping him distracted; the three other Quartzes rushing to where Jasper and Pearl had been left, how the remaining two had resided to repeat what Steven had done before in order to release the remaining bubbled gems.

They were in real trouble.

Rose Quartzes were beginning to fill the room, and Steven thought about how unfair it was that the gems were reforming so fast when they were against him, rather than when there had been a chance that they would be friendly and listen. There were many of them talking at once, at well.

“We’re out? What happened?”

“I can tell you what’s about to happen, Pink Diamond’s about to get her gem cracked!”

“Where’s Tiny? Has anyone seen her yet?!”

It wasn’t long before he was finally done being tossed around, though when he was finally brought to a stand still, he realized he couldn’t move his arms from where they had been pinned behind his back. Pearl and Jasper were in a similar situation, and It came apparent to him that the Quartzes were going to be nothing but hostile.

“Pink Diamond,” The first Rose Quartz that had spoken, who looked unnervingly familiar to his mother, seemed to take the lead of the entirety of the gems, and his panic was only heightened as she crouched, just in front of him in order to meet his eye.

There were so many nicknames he’d have to make for all of the gems, but there was no doubt this one’s would be one Pearl would never approve of. Since she had taken the lead, he ultimately ended up with ‘Chief’.

“What happened?” Her voice was faux concern and question, though her eyes showed her true intent of intimidation and amusement. “We thought you were shattered, by a Rose Quartz. What happened to that story?”

“We were right, all along,” the Quartz keeping Jasper delimited spoke next, her words followed by a scoff. “You really were just an anti-quartz, went as far as offering a reward to a Rose Quartz to pretend to shatter you and make us all look bad.” Her attention was then directed towards Jasper. “I wonder why you’re tagging her around.”

“So am I,” Jasper’s words prompted both Pearl and Steven to whip their heads towards where she stood, and the Rose in front of him grinned.

“That’s more like it,” The sentence seemed to cause the entirety of the Rose Quartzes- all effectively unbubbled at this point- to chuckle among themselves, as if she had stated a joke rather than three simple words. He was blown away as Jasper released, and the Rose formerly restraining her arms against her even gave her a pat to her shoulder.

“Jasper!” Pearl’s cry provoked the orange gem to turn around. Steven was relieved when he saw the beginnings of a simper across her lips. It was an act, she actually wasn’t betraying them. Thank the stars, he didn’t think he’d be able to handle any more surprises today.

“You’ve got it all wrong, I’m not Pink Diamond-“Steven’s words were immediately interrupted by the most deafening bout of laughter he had ever experienced, and had he had free roam of his arms he would’ve pressed his palms over his ears.

“You’re funny Pink,” Chief smirked, and she directed her gaze towards his outfit, and then towards Pearl. “You have your uniform and your Pearl,” She paused momentarily, “She’s even got the star!”

“She’s not mine, she’s nobody’s, and Pink Diamond was my mom!” They had no idea what a mother was, let alone how something among those lines could even happen, and he didn’t know why he was trying. “I’m not her! And you’re wrong on why she did it, she never meant to hurt anyone!”

“Oh, sure, and she didn’t team up with a rogue Rose Quartz while we’re at it.”

“Well, you’re not wrong.”

The glare sent his way prompted him to stop trying. There was no chance that they could get through to them right now; they were too angry, and he couldn’t blame them. He needed to stop while he was ahead, and he couldn’t believe how badly his plans had backfired, he’d never even think he’d become a hostage to the gems he had been thinking about helping for the past year.  “Whatever,” She turned to two Roses propped against the wall. “You two, go out there and let anyone who’s out there know we’ve got Pink Diamond. Cause a commotion, we need the other Diamonds to know about this.”

After the two gems left in an excited hurry, she paused. “I have an idea.” Chief’s sudden hum of concentration raised a brow from even the hostages. “We’ve got a Diamond in our hands. Can we let that go to waste? We can ask for anything, and have our demands met.”

“You’re a genius!” The shortest of the Quartzes, who he assumed was ‘Tiny’, seemed ecstatic, and a murmur of agreement rippled throughout the entire room. “What would we ask for though?”

“We need to make a list.” Chief turned, facing Pearl, and she snapped. “We need a screen, now.”

“I need my hands.” Pearl seemed ultimately unphased at the Quartz’s command, and while Steven appreciated and looked up to her bravery, he could only assume how she was actually feeling, probably being painfully aware of the similarities between her former lover’s persona and the gems currently treating her like garbage. Said nickname he had given them was at the top of his tongue again.

“We just need the screen, we know how to type,” The screen was finally formed, even if Pearl did roll her eyes midst its formation. “Tiny, can you type please?”

“No problem.” Pearl wasn’t short by any means, but compared to just about everyone who wasn’t Steven in the room, she was towered over, let alone Steven. However, Tiny was barely a centimeter taller than the dancer, which was most likely the reason why she was the one chosen to script.

“Alright, let’s put out heads together. What do we want in return for one of the most important rulers of Homeworld?”

Almost immediately, the entire room broke out into excited chatter, and Steven felt sorry for poor Tiny who had to keep up with it all.

“Our own bunker!”

“We should have a huge ball!”

“Our own pearls!”

We should replace Pink as the ruler of Homeworld!”

“Great!”  Chief pressed her palms against each other, the grin formulating on her lips awfully visible. She turned to Tiny, who was still frantically typing. “Now that we have our demands, all we have to do is wait. Wait until the other Diamonds find out, and then they won’t be able to refuse.”

-

Three days.

They had been hostages for three days, and by that time, many things had happened.

The Famethyst had been effectively driven from the Zoo. Entirely.

After two days of being held up in the room, they finally decided it was time to drive the Amethysts out once they realized they wouldn’t team up. (“It’s a shame,” Chief had stated, “They’re so brainwashed to they follow their leader that hates their Gem type.”) They were also ecstatic that this would only add to the hysteria they were causing. According to ‘Tiny’, the Diamonds had been notified of their revolt and would be making their way to the Zoo as quickly as possible.

They hadn’t been completely horrible towards them. They had given Steven his bags, full of the necessary supplies he needed such as his meals and his drinks. They were allowed free movement, even if they weren’t allowed to leave the bubble room or stay unguarded.

They had even been allowed to use the communicator and talk with their friends back on home.

“You two got yourselves stuck in a situation,” Garnet’s words came as no surprise, stoic as ever. Amethyst was no shocker either; Steven and Pearl had to wait to speak as she calmed down from her fit of laughter.

“What did you guys do to piss them off so bad?” She wiped a tear from her cheek, still slightly wheezing her words. “They’ve got you held back into a corner, literally!”

“I don’t know how this is funny to you,” Pearl rolled her eyes for what seemed like the fifth time the past two days, and her arms crossed over her minuscule chest. “If you were in this situation you wouldn’t be laughing.”

“Yes I would!” Amethyst came unbelievably close to the screen, her hand pressing against her gemstone. “I’m a Quartz! If I were there I’d join Jasper.”

“You were the one that convinced him to unbubble the Rose Quartzes,” even if their relationship had grown strong, Amethyst and Pearl were still prone to occasional bickering, and Steven was altogether glad there was rarely any actual arguments anymore. “You should be apologizing to us.”

“Fine, I’m sorry. Sorry that they didn’t ask more for their demands!”

“Oh, hush it!”

Amethyst was about to say something, probably another amused rebuttal, but was ultimately interrupted by the opening of the heavy doors of the bubble room.

“Get ready,” Chief was grinning as she entered, her arms placed at her sides, just near her hips. “Blue and Yellow Diamond are here.”

“Sorry to cut the call so short, we need to go,” Steven had grown accustomed to the Quartzes throughout the few days. He didn’t mind anymore when he was basically escorted as if he were a war criminal.

Which he technically was.

“Good luck with your nappers’ demands, P,” Amethyst was obviously discomforted as the Quartzes seemed to nearly shove Pearl and Steven away from the communicator, and it seemed like she was about to speak again but was interrupted once more. Not by anyone speaking, but by how forcibly the communicator was shut of- or more destroyed by how one of the Roses thought it would be amusing to stomp on it.

“Really wished White showed up,” Tiny, with her hands roughly placed on Steven’s shoulders, seemed disappointed, though after her initial mournful statement, she cheered, leaning down to face him.  “But at least Yellow and Blue though this was important enough to show up to, right? That’s two Diamonds!”

Despite being their hostages, some of the Rose Quartzes had been rather kind to them. Him, at least, and he had to appreciate that. “Yeah, do you think you’re going to get all of your demands met?”

“Of course, they have to,” Tiny grinned, and instantly, he regretted asking. “They have to if they want you back in one piece.”

Steven and Pearl shared a glance, and it was obvious they were both scared for their lives. Immensely.

It was amazing how fast the situation had grown; Rose Quartzes had completely taken over the Zoo. It had been his first time outside of the room, and hadn’t he known any better he would’ve assumed he would’ve been in the middle of an invasion. Quartzes were lined down the hall, everywhere he could see. “Where exactly are we going?”

“We’re meeting the Diamonds at the docking bay, since they want to get this over with as quickly as possible.”  That would make sense; Yellow and Blue were probably used to these kinds of situations. As far as he was concerned, Steven wasn’t completely in danger and this was one of the most basic situations they had been in.

It wasn’t long before the main hallway came into view, and when he listened closely, he could hear muffled talking through the walls. So, they had already started negotiating.

“Pink!” Yellow’s voice was the first thing he heard as the doorway leisurely slid open, drowning in disappointment. “I can’t believe you’ve gotten yourself in another situation!”

“Can you be surprised, Yellow?” Blue’s gentle hand found itself on her shoulder, carefully avoiding the armor there. “This is the third time in the millennia. First with those Amethysts in the kindergarten, and then those Jaspers.”

Steven turned to face Pearl, in to which she nodded in confirmation. He was starting to feel closer to his mother by the minute.

“I’m sorry,” Steven inhaled sharply, biting the inside of his cheek. There was no doubt he would get one of the most stern lectures in his entire life after this ordeal was over. “I didn’t want the Roses to have to pay the price for a crime they didn’t commit for any longer.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Chief rolled her eyes, and she snapped again. “Screen, now. We need to show our demands.”

When Pearl made no effort to form any partition, the larger woman seemed to lose her patience. Her arms crossed, and almost as if she were trying to intimidate the dancer, she leaned closer, towering over her. “I asked for a screen.”

“I know, I’m just not giving it to you,” She had seemed fed up with the Quartzes, and if Amethyst had been here she would probably be whooping right now at her disobedience, and he wanted to as well. Based on the meager smirk growing across her thin lips, Pearl was proud, too.

However, the pride eased, and then it turned to dismay when a shield was summoned from Chief, and Steven didn’t even know how someone could even manage to ram a shield into someone’s stomach hard enough to hurt them; but the next thing he knew Pearl had doubled over in pain with a muted groan and the screen was immediately summoned.

“Thank you,” Chief smiled, almost acerbically, and she gripped the formation harshly after the shield dissipated. Her fist curled against her lips, clearing her throat before she spoke once more. “Blue, Yellow, let’s start, shall we?”

“How polite,” Yellow hummed, seemingly unamused. “Let’s get this over with.”

“Our first demand,” It was a different Quartz who spoke this time, he had heard her been called ‘Curly’; all of their hair was coiled, but this one’s ringlets seemed to slip over her shoulders even right after she attempted to pull them back. He would’ve introduced her to hairbands- he was sure one had accidentally strayed into his bags- but a simple string of elastic would not be able to handle her mane. “We want to have a party. Our own party”

“We can arrange that, I’ll talk with my Aquamarines when I get back to my ship,” With Yellow’s announcement, the entirety of the Roses cheered with excitement, and the gems formerly tucked away against the edge of the hallway, as if they were eavesdropping, were now sharing hugs and fist bumps. “What’s next?”

“We want our own pearl. Each of us,” Chief probably didn’t mean to sound so enthusiastic, but it was hard to miss how she seemed to brighten at the request, and as Steven tilted his head, the rest of the Quartzes seemed to share the same expression, as well.

“That’s doable, even if you’re far from deserving. I’ll set a new batch in Kindergarten 5XL9,” Another thunderous round of applause erupted following her words. “Do you have any more demands, or can we be on our way?”

“No, we think that’s it!” Steven was surprised with the response Chief had given; they had spent so long trying to come up with demands for Yellow and Blue, and in the end,  they only came up with two solid ones? If he wasn’t fearing a shield to his stomach, he would’ve laughed in disbelief.

“Alright, thank you for wasting our time, we’ll let you know when your demands are ready for you to possess.” Blue and Yellow, much to Steven’s confusion, stood, propping their heads slightly in order not to brush against the top of the ceiling. It was as if they were ready to dock their ships.

Without them.

“Wait, where are you guys going?” Steven’s words prompted Blue to turn, her eyes welling with sympathy.

“We can’t have you back until we’ve met their demands, you’ll have to wait until we get things set before you can come back with us,” Even if she was showing slight warmth, her words were drawled with amusement. ‘You should know this from the last two times.”

“I don’t remember, how long did it take for their demands to be met?”

“I think it was about half a year,” Steven’s face paled. “Though I do admit, they had much more demands than just two. We’ll get them done quickly.”

“Have fun, Pink, you did this to yourself,” Yellow’s words were much less sensitive, and she didn’t even try to hide her amused chuckling. “We’ll be back later to pick you up.”

 

-

 

“And she released them all?”

“Every single one,” Yellow was tired, made apparent by how both of her palms were pressed against her cheeks, and despite her delight and enjoyment, Blue rested her hands against the small of her back gently, her thumbs tenderly tracing light patterns into skin. “All of this trouble, just because she wants to be immature. We should just throw her in her room for a few years or so and let her learn her lesson.”

“Calypso, you’ve haven’t realized…that’s not Pink,” Even through the miniscule screen projected onto the ship’s walls, she could see both Yellow and Blue raise their heads in confusion, and the cerulean gem paused her gentle massaging. “That ‘Steven’ has replaced Pink, her gemstone is stuck inside of ‘him’, strange, isn’t it? Calling him Pink and punishing him for her actions will do the opposite of encouraging him to comply.”

“Why did she get so attached to humans,” Yellow groaned, her eyes closing, and she sighed, obviously distressed and confused. “This all could’ve been avoided if we had waited to give her her own colony.”

“Shhh,” Blue hushed her quietly, her thumbs pressing a bit more callously into her skin. “You’re too tense, we have her now and that’s all that matters.”

“You two just need to make him happy,” White, in the middle of a rare bout of shared reassurance, raised her hand, grazing just below her chin. “Let him do as he pleases as long as he fulfills his duties. And stop calling him ‘Pink’, for the love of the stars, that will only make him hate his trips more, which will encourage him to act poorly.”

“You said ‘he’ has Pink stuck inside of him, correct?” White nodded in response to Yellow’s question, already assuming what she had to say, “Why can’t we just take her gem out of him?”

Both Yellow and Blue were surprised when White broke into a fit of brusque laughter, her hand loosely falling just below her cheek, her head somewhat inclined.

“Oh Yellow, you just want to get things done, don’t you?” Yellow had always been an impatient gem, one of her flaws made up for by her hard work and many successful colonies. “That is our last resort, that will do nothing but anger the rest of those Crystal Gems.”

“This entire situation is completely unprecedented!” Yellow’s outburst panicked Blue, her hands laying flatly across her lumbar.  She had been accustomed to her anger, and while it didn’t help amid the moment, she knew how to relax her afterwards. “Why are we letting them do this, running us thin! We should be punishing all of them, not letting them stay on Earth just to ‘make them happy’. We’re Diamonds, have you forgotten? We can overtake them!”

“Yellow, Yellow, Yellow, you want to make this so much more complicated than it needs to be.” White shook her head in mild amusement, the whims of an intrigued smile across her lips. Yellow and Blue, they got so worked up over the littlest of things, didn’t they? “You both need to trust me. You do trust me, right?”

Yellow and Blue send a feart glance towards each other, intimidated by their superior, and as they sent their gaze back up to the screen, they responded in strange unison. “Yes, of course.”

White smiled. “Good, that’s all I needed to know. Now tell me, are you really going to give them their own Pearls?”

Chapter Text

Staying on Homeworld a few days later than he should was tiring. Unbearably tiring.

It had taken four days for the Rose Quartz situation to be resolved, and even then, it wasn’t completely over. 

It wasn’t fair that the Rose Quartzes never did end up getting any of their deals met. Rather than getting a ravish ball and their own pearls, they had gotten rampaged and transferred to where Yellow had said ‘a place where they can stay as we decide the next step of action’. Steven was jittery, though was soon put to ease when Blue had let him know that they wouldn’t be bubbled or poofed, and that they would put efforts into easing them back into Homeworld society. She had even agreed to issue a proper apology.

His relief was short lived, however, when Pearl had drudgingly informed him that they would need to stay on Homeworld for an extra day or two.

What an absolute mood killer, especially as he was scourging through his bags for his shirt.

“No way!” Steven’s face had paled even after taking information in, and as the light from the warp pad disappeared, the muscles in his bottom lip trembled.

The cry prompted Gems from all around the Spire to whip their heads towards the pair. The weird and unusual stares from Homeworld gems had begun to unphase him at this point, because he couldn’t blame them for staring. Their leader had disappeared, they thought dead, for six thousand years, only to return in the shape of a prepubescent meatball. Every time, their reactions were the same. They’d stare in shock, though it wouldn’t be long before they would cross their insignia over their chest, and for the rest of the time he was in their eyesight they would gaze at him and whisper idly amongst each other. He let them; he knew they were saying nothing bad. They couldn’t.

And much to his immense surprise, after a moment of silent staring, as the pair turned, the whispering started.

“Is that Pink Diamond?”

“After six thousand years. I thought she had been shattered. What happened?!”

“She looks so weird.”

“Who cares? The Diamond Authority is whole again, the beginning of Era 3!”

Whispers faded into the background as his thoughts kicked at his brain again. Pearl and Steven no longer had to be escorted everywhere anymore; White had apparently dismissed the Amethysts assigned since the beginning to follow along with them everywhere. The sense of freedom was nice; in their free time, Pearl could show him Homeworld landmarks and memoirs.

Their trip to a legended Spire situated in a farther planet of Homeworld’s galaxy was much less peaceful and interesting and more confusing and distressing. “A Diamond Meeting?! We’re supposed to leave tomorrow, though!”

“Not anymore, it’ll only be a few extra days,” Pearl’s words were hushed, aware of the occasional stares that passed their way. “With ‘Pink Diamond’ back on Homeworld, a Diamond Meeting was bound to happen.” Pearl’s words were meant to be consoling, though the aspect of being placed upon a throne in front of the entirety of Homeworld did nothing but send shivers down his spine. “This is only your first, after this you won’t be afraid of them, they aren’t that horrible.”

“What happens in them?” The pair crossed paths with a spiraled staircase that would bring them to the next level of the Spire. He could view the platform already, and gems above who had been about to step down to their level had stopped, pulling themselves as they waited at the side for the two of them to pass.

“This one will probably be a bit different. They’ll probably spend some time welcoming you back. After that, you and the Diamonds will discuss accomplishments, problems, and anything that is relevant to announce to the entirety of Homeworld,” As they entered the second story, Pearl’s hand fidgeted with the hem of her turquoise scarf, draped over her shoulders. Yellow and Blue- and quite a few Homeworld Gems they had stopped by and chatted with- had clearly expressed their distaste in the star across her chest. Their concerns were resolved with something as simple as a scarf to mask the insignia, and Pearl had agreed that the next time she poofed and reformed, she would reside with an outfit where the star could be easily removed and masked.

“What do I say, though?” He had regretted not bringing a dictionary on his trip, even if it would do barely any help. He knew that for the entire night, he and Pearl would be up all ‘night’ reviewing gem terms that would help the meeting run smoothly.

“It depends,” Pearl stuffily shooed Steven away from the crowd of the second floor, leading him to an open balcony that overviewed the planet. This planet’s atmosphere was more pleasing than others he had visited; the sky was a light violet, and fluffy shapes that resembled clouds were strewn all across. If he had any pockets in his costume, he would’ve brought his phone to take a picture. “You’ll probably have to talk about… the ‘Rose’ situation, and the war, and you’ll have to talk about why you did it. I’d offer to help you, but I don’t think it’d be very appropriate for me to speak of you.”

“There’ll probably talk about what’s to come for Homeworld’s future, definitely about current colonies and the states of kindergartens.” The thinner’s words eased his fears by a little. He exhaled a breath, thankful to the clear air. “I’m sure that Yellow and Blue will talk with you before.”

“And White…?”

Pearl paused. “You probably won’t see her until during the Diamond Meeting.” Steven had only seen White once the entire time of the trade, when they had healed Jasper. White was mysterious, and how fearful Yellow and Blue, other diamonds, were of her, he knew he wasn’t the only one who was intimidated. He felt sorry for her pearl, who seemed to have to run around informing everyone of White’s opinions and messages, and he wished she could take a long-deserved break, sometime.

 

The day leading up to the meeting was stressful, tiring, and brought much more questions to Steven than most of the times in his life.

When they had gotten back to ship, Pearl showed no hesitance to start teaching him Homeworld terms that he would hear in the meeting. They had packed, this time, caffeinated drinks from home, but even then, by the time morning had written there were heavy bags under his eyes and he wanted to crawl into his blanket fort, even if for a few minutes to rest his eyes.

Pearl had scrambled to make sure Steven looked his best, patching up any holes in his uniform, making sure his appearance was up to Homeworld’s standards, and he couldn’t help but appreciate her work.

The ship had parted towards where the meeting would be placed and was expected to get there a few hours before it began, giving Steven enough time to chat with Blue and Yellow, who could probably help prepare him the most. Steven was never fond of public speaking, and he would be lucky not to screw this all up.

Now, climbing closer to the planet’s atmosphere, the entire ship had been engulfed in content silence, knowing it would most likely be the last time he’d be able to be alone with just his caretaker until they arrived back on Earth. The gentle humming of the ship’s engine brought short term relaxation, even if there were still questions he wanted to ask Pearl. She had informed him that this time, the meeting would be situated on one of Blue’s colonies.

“Did Pink Diamond ever bring up Earth at a Diamond Meeting?” The question visibly threw Pearl off track, and after recovering, he glanced at Steven, confusion in her expression. “Like, about wanting to protect it?”

“Multiple times,” She grinned, “No one except the Diamonds could outwardly criticize her, of course, and even then, they have to be mature in front of such a large audience. After the meeting was over, however, Yellow and Blue gave her an earful.” Despite the more than unpleasant reaction from Blue and Yellow, she seemed amused, and her chuckling interrupted her words momentarily. “When we got back to her colony, I had to comfort her for hours.”

He wasn’t surprised, based on the stories he had been told of his mother. “What would happen if I brought up Earth?”

The mood seemed to kill itself off, and the grin that had leisurely spread across her lips had immediately turned into a frown. “I think its best if you not bring Earth up.”

The tender vibrations turned to firm rumbling, something Steven had grown accustomed to, letting him know they had arrived at their destination. With Pearl’s sudden, sunken mood, his fears skyrocketed. As he dreaded as the humming came to an altogether end, Pearl was obviously trying to cheer herself up, her smile returning once more. “Come on, I think we’re a little late.”

A little late may have been accurate, but according to Blue and Yellow, it was as if they had skipped the entirety of the meeting.

As soon as the pair even made it into the room Yellow and Blue were waiting in, they were immediately bombarded with criticism and rushed greetings.

“Its about time you showed,” Yellow’s words were unamused, and Steven thought he would shrivel under her stare. “We have lots of stuff to talk about before this all starts.”

“Yes, we need to make sure White knows you’re ready for this,” Blue’s voice, while more gentle as always, was stern, and she turned to face her pearl, perched just next to the end of her dress. “Pearl, take Yellow and Pink’s Pearl to the dressing chambers and help Pink’s prepare.”

Blue Pearl didn’t speak, merely bowing her head slightly in her Diamond’s words, and her yellow counterpart seemed to follow suit. Steven turned to Pearl, her face had somehow paled more than it already was. “Good luck dealing with them,” His confidence returned when Pearl shot him a smile, even when Blue and Yellow neared the door, waiting for her to follow them out.

“Thank you, I think I’ll need it.” Pearl’s grin was quick to faulter as her two counterparts waited impatiently at the door, Yellow with tapping her slipper against the ground repeatedly.

Once the three of them were gone, Steven’s attention was once more on the Diamonds, who had waited just as patiently as him.

Yellow was the first one to interrupt the silence, her voice unamused and distasteful. “We already talked about it before, my Pearl will inform yours on the story you’ll be telling everyone. Now it’s time to inform you.”

“Story…?”

“Yes, a story,” Blue, as always, seemed much more open to helping his confusion than Yellow, and when he looked up to meet her gaze, he could pin point mild sympathy in her glance. “We can’t just tell Homeworld you left for six thousand years and suddenly decided to come back, they need a reason.”

“Dismissing the war and its events will only throw us more into the exposure of rumors,” Yellow once again dismissed his confusion, and he realized suddenly what they were saying. “Now, here’s what we were thinking we could tell them and-“

She wasn’t able to get far too along in her explanation before she was interrupted by Steven’s distressed cry, prompting both of the Gems to glare down at him-even Blue- with a judgmental stare. “Tell them a story? Why can’t we just tell them what actually happened?”

Yellow seemed far taken back by his words, and by the way she had instantly broken down into a fit of strained laughter, he could only assume it was for the worse. “Oh, Pink! Tell them that you started a war against the empire because you fell in love with a rock? Do you know how ridiculous that sounds?!”

For the first time since he had become aware of his mother’s stunt, let alone that she was a Diamond, Steven felt a tinge of guilt from himself rather than from his mom’s actions. The way she worded it had sounded…pathetic, and even though he knew she was vastly under sizing his mother’s reasons, it still felt horrible to even think it was true.

“She didn’t do it just for a rock,” At this point, he knew it was useless for him to attempt to defend himself. Yellow and Blue were not accustomed or open, even now, to appreciating or respecting why Pink had done the things she did. “She did it for humans, for life on Earth, for everything! We can’t just tell a huge lie. You two, out of everyone, should know how harmful lies can be!”

His last sentence seemed to pull something from Blue, and idly, his hand pressed against his cheek in preparation, just in case he had to wipe away any tears that decided to leak. Surprisingly, tears never came, and even more shocking, Blue’s expression twisted into one of exasperation.

“This is different this time! Pink, you’ve already been gone for so long, they need a reason for that that will appease to them!” He only groaned in response to Yellow, who had seemingly given up on trying to argue against them. With Pearl gone, his confidence was lost, and he knew the only way to let the rest of the meeting run off smoothly, he’d need to comply.

Finally, he sighed. “Fine, just tell me so we can get this over with.”

-

Steven couldn’t believe that he was about to go through with all of this. This meeting, this huge lie.

He knew this meeting wouldn’t take more than an hour. Despite that, he just wished he could get past it quickly. He wanted- scratch that- needed to curl up in his own bed and sleep.

He’d have to wait. Right now, he was just trying to get past the beginning of the meeting. He had been led to a large, stadium like infrastructure that opened out to the sky, littered with Aquamarines surveying the edges along the dome and Red Eyes. The walls along the building were filled to the brim with gems, even before the meeting started, excited chattering that to Steven, sounded like nothing but indistinctive rumbling, nearly making him sick. The middle had been hollowed out, a large insignia ingrained in the flooring. Four thrones were placed on separate sides of the stadium, risen above the crowds, the large height from where he was to the ground frightening him much more.

After his talk with Blue and Yellow, he had been directed onto his own throne, which, unsurprisingly, was much too large for him. His legs sprayed across the end, swinging subconsciously back and forth, his heels occasionally meeting the solid surface of the throne.

The Diamonds were sitting on their own respective thrones, even if the meeting hadn’t officially started, yet. When he looked down, his queasiness heightened, and the only thing he could think about was how much of a fall he would endure if he managed to slip off his throne, even with his levitating powers. He couldn’t believe how many gems had been seated into the crowds. Not everyone in Homeworld was there, of course. Yellow had informed him that the Red Eyes in the sky had Gems inside broadcasting the whole thing. While not everyone was there physically, just about the entirety of Homeworld was watching him at this moment, and he couldn’t even think about how much that disturbed him.

Faintly, the insignia on the ground light up, specifically the yellow faction. It was barely noticeable at first, though gradually, the dimmed light began to grow, until it had captured the entirety of the gems at the meeting; even the Red Eyes had tilted in order to get a better view.

Suddenly, the flash grew intensely really quick. However, as soon as it had appeared, it had seemed to fall and disappear completely, leaving Yellow Pearl in its place.

“Homeworld!” She began, her voice proud and unwavering. One hand was pressed to her chest, the pads of her fingers grazing her gem, her other reached out over her head, her fingers curled into a loose fist. “Prepare yourself for the grace, beauty, and elegance that is Yellow Diamond!”

With her final cheer, Yellow’s throne had brightened just like her insignia had, gems from the crowd absolutely losing it with their cheering and cries. Yellow, in return, lifted a single hand acknowledging the crowd with a shortened simper across her lips.

Once the crowd died down, the pearl let herself rest, her arms crossed behind her back, her feet placed firmly against the ground.

Blue was next, and Steven reminded himself for next time, he’d need to bring sun glasses. Two pairs, probably. It wasn’t long before her pearl appeared just besides Yellow, her position resembling that of Yellow’s original.

“Prepare yourself for the grace, cultivation, and dignity that is Blue Diamond!” Her cry, unsurprisingly gentler and quieter than the other’s, initiated a similar sequence of reactions has Yellow had. Cheering ensued once more, and Blue acknowledged the crowd with nothing more than just a simple smile. From the crowd, Steven pinpointed a desperate ‘We love you, Blue Diamond!’.

His turn was growing closer, provoking him to begin to prepare for what he would do when his name was called. What should he do? Blue and Yellow had seemed rather stoic with their responses, and even though he knew their personalities clashed and contrasted to no end, he wondered if he should follow suit. He stopped kicking his legs against the throne, straightened his posture, and watched intently as White’s part of the insignia was next to dim.

“Homeworld,” White’s Pearl was usually, yet horribly, robotic, and he had to repress the shiver that ran down his spine. “Prepare yourself for the elegant, beauty and luxury that is White Diamond!”

Just like Blue and Yellow, White barely acknowledged the crowd’s cheering, even if this round was slightly louder than Blue and Yellow’s had been. He came up to the conclusion that he would smile and wave as much as possible.

His part of the insignia finally began to light, much to his anticipation. Complete and absolute silence seemed to engulf the entire stadium, which somehow unnerved him.

Finally, the light dissipated, and he nearly wanted to start a chain of applause as Pearl was left, her hands pressed over her chest in the shape of a diamond. Something that intrigued, and slightly evoked sympathy, from Steven was how her top had been replaced with a different top; a sleeveless, light violet one, deprived of any stars. He wondered if it was just a shape shift or if she had somehow poofed and reformed in such a quick amount of time. From where he sat, at least fifty yards above, he couldn’t pinpoint any type of uncomfortableness from her expression, though he knew that she was probably feeling it some way or another.

“Prepare yourself, for the first time in the six thousand years, for the gracious, luminous, and brilliant St- “ She paused, obviously aware of her mistake. She didn’t have too much time to dawn on it however, before she corrected herself with an exaggerated exhale.  “Pink Diamond!”

The crowd that erupted was absolutely insane.

Steven would’ve covered his ears, but he wanted to go through with his promise, and as soon as he recovered from the shock, he smiled. He pressed his palm to his lips, intimidating a kiss, and then reached it out again. There were more cheers he could pinpoint this time from the gems down below.  

“We love you, Pink Diamond!”

“Welcome back, Pink Diamond!”

“I can barely see you, Pink Diamond!”

The cheers took quote a bit longer than the other to calm, and only until Yellow lifted her hand did they cease completely.

“Thank you for attending,” Yellow’s voice was a bit more cheerful, most likely due to their crowd. “We are flattered that you’ve come to watch your leaders discuss these topics that affect all of us greatly. Now, I think the first thing we’re bound to discuss is the safe return of Pink Diamond.”

Another bout of, despite much less intense, loud cheering followed her statement, and Steven once again blew a few air kisses towards his ‘fans’. “Now,” Yellow continued, “Just like us, you assumed she had been shattered by Rose Quartz. What Pink went through was horrible. We know she’d rather not speak about it, so Blue and I will clear the air and explain what happened.”

As curious chattering muttered throughout the crowds, Steven frowned, and when he glanced down, he could see Pearl as well. This had been the agreement with Yellow, he’d let them tell their story.

“Rose Quartz, thinking it was the only way to win the war, staged a fake shattering of Pink Diamond,” Her sentence caused a collective eruption of gasps from the crowd, and he suddenly felt the presence of too many pairs of eyes on him. He supposed it wasn’t too far from the truth just yet, though he knew that the next parts of her story would be far too far-fetched for his liking.

“Once she had poofed Pink Diamond, the rebel Crystal Gems trapped her in a bubble for thousands of years. Recently, an infantry, run by yours truly,” her hand fell to her chest, just above her gem, “…invaded the planet Earth where the remaining Crystal Gems had taken shelter, pathetically.”

Steven, in all his life, would’ve never thought he would be in a situation where anyone would talk about the Crystal Gems in such a demeaning way and let them get away with it. But now, in a situation where he was helpless to what Yellow said, to how the gems in the crowd reacted, booing and cursing his own family, there was nothing he could do to change anything. He had never expected this, yet he also hadn’t expected his mother turning out to be a Diamond. That was that.

“We managed to free and rescue Pink Diamond, and the remaining rebels have been taken of.” With the conclusion of the epic story, cheering and crying rippled through the crowd as she spoke one last time. “Thank you, we’re all thrilled to have Pink back.”

Suddenly, Yellow turned his way, prompting him to speak. He hadn’t been expecting to be put on the spot like that, and for once he was glad that he was up so high. It wouldn’t be very courageous and leader-like of him to visibly shake and break into sweats in front of his followers.

“I’m glad to be back,” He forced his voice much more than he should’ve strained it, trying to allow his words to be heard from everyone. “Thank you for welcoming be back with such open arms.”

“Now, we have arranged a special group of Gems who will be allowed to ask questions at the end,” White was the next to speak, much to his, and presumingly the other Diamonds, surprise. “But for now, we must move on. Blue, updates on your newest colony?”

“Of course,” Blue was visibly taken back a bit at White’s forceful change of topic, though quick to recover, she smiled, and continued, “My colony has been running smoothly. The Lapis Lazulis have finished terraforming the planet, and we’re about to start the construction of the infrastructures.”

“Very nice, thank you, Blue,” White’s satisfactory seemed to pull relief from said gem, leaning back just slightly and situating her hands against the arm rests. “And Yellow, what’s the status of the batches of Quartzes that just emerged from your newest Kindergarten?”

“Very fine, White,” Yellow purred, a bit more prepared for White’s inquiry than Blue. “All of the Quartzes have been checked, cleared, and sent off to their assignments. I expect that the rest of the Kindergarten will come with the same results.”

“Excellent, thank you, Yellow,” White’s content hum prompted the tiniest of a smile to twitch at the corner of Yellow’s lips. He had to grin as well, though quickly faltered when White turned towards him, and he suddenly felt in the spot light. “Pink, I don’t suppose you have any news you’d like to share? You’ve been back for a little while.”

Steven supposed White had a reason to ask. This deal had been going on for quite a few weeks, and she probably wanted to know that they hadn’t bee spent causing reckless trouble. He was determined not to disappoint. “I have released the Rose Quartzes bubbled in the Human Zoo. I feel as if they were being wrongfully imprisoned. At the moment, they are being rehabilitated and will return to their stations and help Homeworld’s cause.”

That was probably the smartest thing Steven has ever said.

Murmurs of appreciation from the crowd made his smile heighten. He could only pin point a few, however, such as ‘Pink Diamond, as sympathetic as always’, and ‘Back to her duties so quick! How amazing!’.

However, when he turned to White, there was the smallest of a frown on her lips. Whether he had been imagining it or not he didn’t have the time to acknowledge.

“A little fast to kick in, are we, ‘Steven’?” That shocked Steven, and White took visible amusement on how his jaw seemed to drop, his eyes widened in surprise. “I would like to discuss more about your duties and how they are coming, but as for my duties, they call, and I’m afraid I’ll have to excuse myself early.”

Her words brought disappointment and fearful groans from the flock of gems below, but rather than raise her hand to stop them, White merely let them continue until they died down, basking in the doubt and disappointment of her followers. “Don’t be quite heart broken yet, we still have questions to answer!”

As if on cue, a small group of gems- a Ruby, an Amethyst, and a couple of Topazes- had appeared in the empty platform besides the four pearls, a facilitated screen pressed into the Ruby’s hands. They all seemed jittery and nervous.

“My Diamonds, I feel very flattered to have this opportunity.” The Amethyst was first to speak, her voice slightly wavering. “I can never thank you enough. None of you.”

“Okay,” Yellow seemed unflattered, “Proceed.”

“I apologize,” The Amethyst appeared flustered, tossing a portion of her hair over her shoulders, allowing it to better fall around herself. “Our first question is to Pink. How do you feel towards Rose Quartz for trapping you for all these years?”

“I feel…insufferable rage,” Steven was obviously lying, it was apparent in his voice and his expression, the words forced through gritted teeth. He technically was Rose Quartz, and he wished he could tell everyone. However, he needed to stick with the story, and if he could fool everyone else, he would be satisfied. “I feel like she needs to pay for what she did to me.”

“Very understandable, my Diamond,” In response to his words, the Ruby with the screen seemed to type something down, most likely his answer word for word. He hoped she hadn’t also recorded his hesitance and nervousness, or especially the bead of sweat dripping down his temple. “Our next question. Once you situate back to Homeworld, not to rush you or anything, my Diamond, will you begin the construction of your next planned colony on exoplanet COROT-23b?”

Steven raised an eyebrow; his own colony? He glanced to where Yellow and Blue sat, and to his surprise, they seemed intrigued rather than natural or stoic. He had never heard of COROT…Whatever it was. He would need to ask the two of them about it later. “…I will, though I don’t know when.”

“Take as much time as you need, my Diamond!” The Amethyst’s voice was perked, all too bright for his likings.

Non the less, he smiled in response, appreciating her kindness, even if it probably was partially forced. “Thank you, I appreciate your patience.”

“Now, we only have one more question. I apologize, Blue, Yellow, and White,” The Quartz seemed momentarily unsteady; she had probably regretted not asking the other Diamonds any questions. However, he was sure the others couldn’t blame her; ‘Pink’ had just returned after thousands of years, there was no denying that the entirety of Homeworld, not just the Amethyst, was intrigued with her sudden reappearance.

“What happened to the remaining Crystal Gems you captured?” The Ruby was the one that spoke this time, obviously unable to contain her interest or excitement, though judging by how the Quartz looked back up to him, intrigued, as well, she was about to ask the same thing.

Steven was taken back. “Excuse me?”

“Well, Yellow said the remaining Crystal Gems had held you captive in a bubble, and that they had ben defeated them in order to rescue you,” The Amethyst’s words seemed to provoke collective mutters of agreement throughout the gems below, and as each second went by, Steven could feel this palms growing more clammy inside of his gloves. “What do you plan on doing with the rebels? A trial? Execution?”

There was suddenly a strict tightness in the air between Steven and the other Diamonds as they, even White, turned their heads towards the Ruby, and then back at Steven. They seemed just as shocked as him at the question.

It was Blue who spoke, and while she seemed outwardly confident, he could tell she was still trying to actively grab for an answer. “We are still deciding how to punish the Crystal Gems for their acts. We can not think about this decision lightly, considering their crimes.”

“I don’t mean to step over line, my Diamonds,” The Amethyst seemed a bit more nervous to speak this time, “But can you just give us some sort of idea on what you’re thinking? Incapacitation? Retribution?”

“She already said,” Steven could tell Yellow was getting agitated, but the crowd was becoming more restless. “We are still deciding.”

“But look!” Her hand suddenly leveled towards Pearl’s direction, who seemed to cower at the spotlight. “Is restoration and rehabilitation really the best choice? They’re war criminals, they don’t deserve empathy! Because, unless I’m mistaken, that’s obviously the renegade!”

A round of condemned booing erupted from the crowd, and Steven suddenly wished this whole thing would just end. Maybe if he shut his eyes, he’d open them and realize he was having nothing more than a nightmare.

“That’s enough.” White’s words, despite calm and low, caused the entirety of the stadium to grow quiet. She had single handedly stopped the hectic commotion that the meeting had gone to with two simple words, and despite his gratitude, he was also slightly disturbed. She turned to Yellow, allowing her to take the lead.

Yellow wasn’t afraid to show much more anger than White, and with her posture straightened, she glared down at the now shivering gems below, “Are you really questioning my authority?”

“N-Not at all, my Diamond!” The Amethyst was beyond terrified, even from below Steven could see how much she seemed to cower at her words. “I-I was just thinking- “

“We don’t care about what an Amethyst thinks about out judgment.”  Rather than standing- if she tried she would’ve slipped over the throne and fifty yards down, after all-, she leaned forward, her chin lowered, and she was glaring directly at the Amethyst. “We will take time to make this decision, and the decisions we’ve already made are final. Is that clear?”

“Yes, m-my Diamond!” 

“Good,” Yellow smiled, even if there was still tension in the air. “Then I think we’re done.”

 

The ship’s humming was the only sound in the ship that Jasper could pin point; not that it bothered her. She needed to concentrate, she knew how to control a ship, but she’d still rather take as much precaution as she could to not crash a giant pair of legs into the beach.

Both Steven and Pearl had offered and insisted on driving the ship home, but both of them had had eyebags under their eyes when they had gotten to the ship, and based on the clips he had seen broadcasting where she had been waiting, she could understand why.

Her head turned to where the two had situated themselves against the wall- both fast asleep, even Pearl. It was only the second time they had been on Homeworld for the deal, yet she could obviously tell that they were already to grow tired of the routine. Being shifted from planet to planet to planet definitely had its toll on a gem, let alone a human.

Landing the ship was hard, incredibly difficult even. Of course anyone could drive a Diamond ship, it was probably just a bit easier to someone to help and to be able to use her own legs to control it.

Thankfully, however, it wasn’t long before the ship pressed itself against the sand, and from the colossal glass window in front of her, she could see tiny figures emerging from the beach house.

She knew better than to wake Pearl and Steven up from their well-deserved rest. She knew that she was strong, and she knew that she could lift both of them and more up easily. Tenderly, both biceps cupped under Steven, bringing him into her arms. Pearl followed suit, slung over her broad shoulder.

The first one to greet her as she stepped onto the sand was Garnet, who, unsurprisingly, transferred Steven into her own arms as soon as she was close enough. She gently cupped his head in her palm, before her head gazed back up to-presumingly- meet eye contact with Jasper. “They had a long day, didn’t they?”

“Diamond meeting,” With Steven out of the way, she adjusted the thin gem in her arms so she wasn’t carrying her like a potato sack, instead mimicking the way Garnet held Steven, even if poorly. Amethyst would probably take her when she came to greet her. “As soon as we got in the ship, they both blacked out.”

“How did the meeting go?”

Jasper’s smile leisurely disappeared. “It could’ve gone better near the end. Steven will want to explain it to you himself, probably.”

Garnet didn’t have any time to frown before the next wave of gems joined them on the beach. Amethyst and Connie soon followed behind Garnet, and Jasper’s theory was correct. She had to crouch slightly as she let Amethyst take Pearl into her arms, whilst Connie merely clung onto Garnet’s thigh, watching the boy in her arms.

“Jeez, they’re worn out,” Amethyst grinned, Pearl’s head pressed against her chest, and Jasper raised an eyebrow as she gently covered one palm over her gemstone. She’d have to ask her about that later. “I guess it’s time to get them to bed. Reunion tomorrow.”

“This is the second time they’ve come home tired,” Connie’s observation prompted the three gems to glance down at her, all three with intrigued expressions (barely Garnet though, besides how her lips had split in a curious partition). “And Pearl never sleeps, this must really be taking a toll on them.”

“This is only a temporary solution, right now,” Garnet had turned around and began to walk back to the beach house without question, Connie, Amethyst, and Jasper swiftly scrambling to keep up. Her tone was as stoic as her guise, not outwardly showing her own weariness. “Once we can get to White Diamond, we’ll come up with something that puts less strain on the two of them.”

“It was the only way we could get White Diamond to hold back from shattering us, after all,” Amethyst seemed to cringe at her own words, and Jasper could only assume that she was looking back at the original ordeal, having nearly been wiped form existence. “You should remember that, Connie, she nearly killed you!”

“I know, it just seems too tough on them,” Still clinging onto Garnet’s thigh, she gazed up at the fusion, her expression a bit desolated, “How long can we keep this up?”

Her question engulfed all four into a tense silence, before Garnet spoke once more.

Her lips were pulled into a tight frown, and she looked straight ahead. “As long as it takes.”

Chapter Text

With the Diamond Meeting fiasco left behind them on Homeworld, there was nothing left they needed to do for the rest of the week besides recover; and Steven was thankful for that.

Just over a week ago he had been prepared for the next part of the trade, but of course he wasn’t told he’d be a hostage for four days and after that, he’d be made a spectacle in front of the entirety of Homeworld. If Homeworld had news, there was no doubt his face was all over their channels.

When he had awakened, he was surprised that he had already been changed into his own pajamas, a small consideration from Garnet assumingly that he was incredibly thankful for. This time, when he woke up, things were a bit busier than the first week back, with Bismuth and Peridot in the kitchen, and even if he couldn’t see, there were a few more gems chattering around on the sofa.

“Steven!” While Steven enjoyed and cherished her company, hearing Peridot’s voice first thing he woke up was something he wished he had been given a heads up about. “Look, we cooked chicken babies!”

“Short stack, they’re called ‘eggs’,” Bismuth’s response, while amused, held obvious interest as she tossed her head over her shoulder to look up to his loft. “It’s still a bit early, Steven, did our talking wake you up?”

He shook his head, and mid yawn, finally stripped off his bed and meeting the cold floor. Now he could see the gems who were on the couch, who had stopped their chatter to meet his eye. Garnet, Rhodonite and Padparadscha were all pressed against the cushions, with the tiny sapphire in the lap of the younger fusion.

“Oh my, Steven will wake up from sleep, and Peridot will mess up chicken babies for eggs!” The slowed response from the orange gem broke a collective bout of chuckles from everyone across the temple, with Rhodonite tenderly resting one of her hands against the top of her head. The only one who stayed stoic- well, more disgusted if anything- had been poor Holly Blue, who, despite the free space on the sofa, leaned against the hallway wall with her arms indigently crossed over her chest. While leaving back for the Human Zoo today, grouchiness from her came as no surprise with her view of Earth and the gems that inhabited it.

“Thank you,” By the time he had padded down the loft stairs his mouth had begun to water with the scent of the breakfast that radiated from the stove. Bismuth and Peridot had been hard at work sharpening their skills in the kitchen. Bismuth found the use of the knifes and the mixing tools and all of the utensils interesting and fun, while the shorter had simply seemed to tag along and had gotten just as hooked. Two large plates of bacon and eggs were placed against the counter, though by how the two were still at work, effectively spraying the counters with pancake batter, he wasn’t the only one they were cooking for. “Is everyone having breakfast?”

“Once everyone comes back in here, yes,” Bismuth multitasked, responding to Steven whilst also trying to keep the large bowl from tipping over the edge of the island. “Lion Two took Fluorite and the Rutiles down to town to meet the pizza twins, Jasper went off to release some steam back at the Great North, and Amethyst and Doll are in Amethyst’s room.”

“When Pearl woke up, she started crying!” Peridot’s words were, despite concerning in meaning, spoken as if she was entertained by them, however because she was nearly bent over the counter, there was no way of knowing if there was a smile on her face. “What did you and Jasper do to make her cry so bad?”

“Probably the Diamond Meeting,” Steven didn’t even want to talk about what happened, that was how embarrassed he was. However, talk about it was inevitable, and he knew there was no way to get out of it. “I messed things up. But that’s only because Yellow and Blue decided to lie about everything!”

“You’re stressing yourself out, Steven,” He turned when Garnet spoke, purposely reassuring and calm. “When everyone is around and breakfast is ready, you can tell us as much or as little as you want.”

 

Bismuth was working hard to expand the temple to fit all of the new people. And while they were patiently waiting, the entire living room would have to work as a table for now.

It wasn’t long before gems soon began to return into the house, and with each new visitor, the pancake stack was only getting higher. Steven didn’t even know they had that many plates until they were brought out, stacked in an even higher tower.

It was clear right away not everyone could fit on the couch; the couch was huge, but not fourteen people huge. Garnet, Padparadscha, Rhodonite, Lars, Jasper and the Rutiles had claimed the couch. With their original spot gone, Peridot and Lapis opted to sitting on the counter, and even Fluorite joined them- at least her upper half. With no more options left, Connie and Steven sat themselves over the loft, dangling their legs over the edge, shortly followed by Amethyst, Bismuth and Pearl. And, just as usual, Holly claimed her usual wall.

It was astounding, to say the least, that Bismuth and Peridot had actually managed to make enough food for everyone, minus Holly and Pearl obviously. With the Off Colors first time eating, Amethyst had been prepared for a spectacle.

With everyone settled in, finally, it was only so long until the dreaded topic came up.

“So, you three,” Bismuth was the first to speak rather than Garnet, shoving a forkful of bacon into her mouth. “How was your week as fearless leaders?”

“Well,” Before Steven could speak up, Jasper seemed much more interested in talking first, eyeing a link of sausage that rolled around her plate whenever she tried picking it up. “We spent the first four days as hostages. Steven released the Rose Quartzes at the Zoo and they decided they wanted to get something out of being imprisoned for thousands of years.”

“I did,” Lapis had been avoiding the orange gem much to her ability since she had returned. Steven had noticed, however, she seemed much more confident with Peridot by her side. Jasper had nearly recoiled at her interruption, as she was having a much harder time situating and getting used to living with the water gem. She had been put through a lot, and Steven didn’t blame her for still cowering. “I ended up getting a barn.”

“Correction, we were hostages,” Steven grinned, “You pretended to be on their side, For the entire time you were with 8XJ trying to see who could race up the cubbies the fastest!”

“Tell us how they treated you,” Once laughter died down, Garnet hummed with interest as she picked at the eggs on her plate. “I’m sure everyone would like to know.”

“They didn’t treat us too bad,” Steven recalled the days in the bubble room, “We weren’t allowed to leave the room, but they talked with us a bit. They mostly talked about their demands, though.”

“What were their demands?”

“They wanted their own party,” Leaning into the Quartz besides her, Pearl circled the rim of her mug with her finger. While she still refused to eat altogether, Amethyst and Steven had coaxed her to try a few drinks that she ended up growing a taste for, especially tea. “And their own pearls. They never ended up getting them, though. Now all they’ve got is a thousand years of forced rehabilitation.”

“Was that all you did this week?” Peridot’s hum of interest immediately prompted all three gems to glance at each other with downcast gazes; the topic that they had been avoiding was officially here. Garnet’s words about talking as little or as much about it rang through his head. While he wanted to skip the topic entirely, he would never do that to his teammates. He was a Crystal Gem through it all, and the least he could do while he was away was let his family know what was going on.

“There was a Diamond Meeting,” Steven bit against the softness of his lower lip, trying to put his thoughts into words. He couldn’t just say ‘Oh yeah, it was an absolute fail’, as much as he wanted to. “It didn’t go as good as we hoped near the end.”

When silence was his only response, he continued. “Yellow and Blue decided to tell a story about mom and I rather than the truth. She said I had been stuck in a bubble by Rose Quartz and was rescued by Yellow’s army when they invaded Earth and captured the rest of the Crystal Gems. One of the gems asked what they were going to do with you guys and Yellow got really defensive.”

“Oh!” As if Steven hadn’t just announced his failure to the Homeworld empire, Peridot suddenly stood, causing her plate to topple over her lap and onto the floor. Upon the shattering of the dish, a second cry came from Pearl, who carefully placed her mug against the floor and shot for what Steven could definitely assume was a broom. “I have to go get my arms, this might work!”

During the first week Steven had been gone, Garnet had taken Peridot back to the galaxy warp pad to retrieve her limb enhancers. She had only wanted her arms, however, accepting her height. She simply missed the technology, and after spending so long in the water it was a surprised that Peridot and Bismuth had managed to get the arms working again.

And even when there was much more space for her, Peridot still insisted on keeping her things in the bathroom.

Peridot eventually returned to the crowd, with a placid arm in hand. “Important broadcasts were always stored in the databases, which anyone with technology could get their hands on.” Ignoring the mess she had created on the floor, she scrambled back onto the counter, one hand against the blue gem’s shoulder. “If my arm screens can still access video footage, we can get the meeting footage!”

The hand was thrust into the metal arm with a loud pop, grinning as it sparked to life. The tiny fingers that had laid inert Peridot’s hand buzzed to life, steadily raising from her palm. When Garnet had first helped her with her reinvented arm, she had shown her obvious concern that she had forgotten how to use them. However, with each day the way she moved her fingers were getting better and better, to the point where she rarely had a finger burst out of control and shoot at an unsuspecting Padparadscha.

The entire temple seemed to grow silent besides the warm buzzing of the arm as a screen became to take shape. There was a bead of sweat running down the gem’s temple, her lips pressed together in a tight frown.

“Broadcasts, broadcasts, broadcasts…” Focused mumbling eventually turned to a sharp gasp. “Ah ha! Here it is, just transmitted!”

There was a click on the screen, and even if most in the temple couldn’t see it clearly, a monochromatic picture circulated across the monitor.

However, the words that were released from the screen were easily heard from everyone eating their breakfast.

Is restoration and rehabilitation really a good choice?! They’re war criminals, they don’t deserve empathy!”

The recording was frantically paused by Peridot, who upon seeing the three gems growing uncomfortable, with Pearl nearly crying again, had realized how soon it was to play the event. “Maybe we can listen to this another time?”

“It’s alright, it’s past us now, the meeting is over,” Bismuth’s reassurance broke agreed mumbling throughout the temple, even if Steven was slightly convinced they weren’t actually reassured.

“Now,” Amethyst’s arms were outstretched past her plate, trying to coax Pearl back to her seat, who had paused right near the closet. Hesitantly, she obliged to her request, curling herself back into her original position, allowing the shorter’s arms to wrap indulgently across her lap. “I bet you guys want to hear about what happened with Holly while you guys were gone.”

 

-

Hallway after hallway after hallway was the same, bright pale that hurt his eyes everywhere they darted. However, the pain in his sight was nothing compared to the wheezing pain that was pulsing through his abdomen every time he breathed.

Despite how badly his lungs screamed for air, breathy giggles escaped his lips as he continued down the hall, barely pausing to turn behind him to face the second figure following shortly behind.

“Hurry up, Pearl!”  From behind him, a second figure finally became visible from the last turn, nearly running into the wall as she struggled to keep up. The hair that was tied on either sides of her head were beginning to uncurl with occasional strands sprawling out in different directions. While she didn’t respond with her own words, tired laughter from her direction indicated her enjoyment as well.

They weren’t allowed in this area of White’s court, and he knew it. He knew they could get in trouble, but technically, he wouldn’t be breaking any rules if he didn’t get caught, and he didn’t plan on that. He hit the next hallway hard, and before he knew it the pearl behind him crashed as well, causing them both to collapse to the ground in a fit of exasperated laughter.

“W-we got away, I can’t believe we pulled that off!” Her voice was shaky as she attempted to catch her breath, gasping for unneeded air as she struggled to her hands and knees.

“White’s guards were guarding the entryway and we slipped right past them!” He eventually found the strength to pull himself up against the wall, and with his hand outstretched to help her up, Pearl eventually managed to lean herself back against one of the pristine walls. “Yellow and Blue are probably wondering where we are, we should start heading back.”

“Of course, my Diamond,” Despite more need to regain themselves, Steven knew that they’d need to get back as soon as possible. They had managed to run down personal hallways free of discipline, but he knew that being late to a Diamond Meeting would face severe consequences. If they wanted to be on time, they’d have to start their trip back now. The hallways they had run into out of sudden impulse for adrenaline were confusing and seemed to spiral forever. They’d get lost multiple times and that wasn’t a doubt.

Three times they had to retrace their path, specifically. He knew at any time, they could call White for help through Pearl’s light screen, but that would only lead to punishment for traveling through her hallways, and he’d rather be caught late to a meeting by Blue and Yellow than that.

Luck must’ve been on their side, because soon the walls began to fade from a painful white to a soothing, light coral, and hallways and passages soon began to grow familiar. With a quick fist bump shared between, a light jog was soon put into pace in order to arrive at the conference room on time.

 

A light jog took them fifteen minutes before they had arrived at the towering doors, and with one last smug grin, Pearl rushed to the panels against the wall, allowing the heavy gates to slid open with nothing more than a beginning, aching creak.

“There you are!” Yellow’s furious words were the first thing to meet a pair, which while vexatious, was nothing out of the normal. “What were you doing keeping us waiting like that?”

“We needed to fix an error in one of the reports for Kindergarten 9X,” He made sure that he always had an excuse on the back of his hand, prepared for his fellow Diamonds’ disapproving stares. Thy usually didn’t prod him about them any further, only sighing and shaking their heard before going back to business with only occasional lecture. “There was a miscalculation of how many Amethysts would emerge by the next cycle.”

“Interesting, I thought that’s what you told my Pearl when you informed her why you were late to submit the reports yesterday,” With Blue’s words suddenly butting in and the mile-wide frown that had suddenly etched itself into her features, Steven’s gut dropped and he suddenly felt ill. “I don’t suppose you were roaming around White’s hallways again, were you?”

He gasped, realizing he had been caught, and he turned to glance at Pearl, equally dreading. He realized trying to deny would only get him in even more in trouble, and looking back up to the other two Diamonds, he sighed in defeat. “We were, I’m sorry.”

“Pink,” Blue’s sigh was disappointed and ashamed, which might have initiated the worst feeling that he could ever feel; Blue and Yellow were sometimes overbearing, but they were still family. “We’ve told you so many times not to, why can’t you just follow what we say for once?”

“I don’t know why we even trust you to go out on your own anymore, you never follow our directions!” Yellow’s words were much harsher than Blue’s simple disappointment, her glare stern and nerve wracking. “We told you, you aren’t ready for your own colony!”

“I am ready for my own colony!” For once, Steven was holding his ground; he had left them push him around for thousands of years, why couldn’t they just understand he needed his own freedom without them watching over him? “We’ve only just started building the first gem structures and kindergartens!”

“Pink!” When Blue’s voice raised, he immediately recoiled back, and even Yellow seemed shocked at her sudden change of tone. “Can’t you understand?! We’re going easy on you, what would happen if it was White that found out you did this?”

“If I found out you did what?” As soon as the new voice entered the chamber, all three jaws dropped and turned to face where it had come from. The largest of the doors on the other end of the conference room leisurely slipped open, much to Steven’s dismay, and when he turned to face his fellow diamonds, their expressions were ones of shock and fear.

Seconds seemed to feel like hours before the door was completely opened, revealing the largest of the diamonds in its doorway. While her words had been an inquiry, curious and intrigued, her expression was near stoic, besides the tiniest of a smile crawling onto her lips. “Starlight,” She repeated, “If I found out you did what?”

“That I-“ He turned to Blue and Yellow once again, even if they provided no help. They were scared, and while that wasn’t unusual in the presence of White, in the given situation, it made the words in his throat catch over his breath. “That I was late.”

“I was late, too,” White raised her eyebrows, “Are you sure it’s not for another reason?”

“I- “

“I’m giving you a chance to tell the truth, Starlight.” With each passing second, White was growing more and more unamused. Her patience was wearing; but still Steven couldn’t find himself to speak. He couldn’t even bring himself to look in her direction, instead finding the pristine floors much more interesting.

“Pink, we’ve given you so many chances,” The white gem shook her head, her hand loosely rising above her chest. “If you would’ve just told me you were in my hallways, I could’ve let you off the hook easier.”

“She never listens to us, White, and we’ve done everything we could think of to make her more responsible,” Blue shook her head. Her words were gentle, even if agitated. Blue always had a habit of sharing her sympathy even during the most stern of lectures. “We gave her her own colony, her own pearl, nothing is teaching her the responsibility that she needs to lead as a diamond!”

“Maybe its not just her fault,” The corners of her lips rose with interest and realization, gazing down in his direction with disquisition. However, her eyes seemed to glare way past his body, and with alarm, he realized she was looking at Pearl. “Maybe someone close to her is giving her too much of an influence.”

“Pearl?” He gasped, “No, I’m the one that makes her tag along with me! If anything, you should be lecturing me for giving her an influence!”

“If that were the case,” Steven felt sorry for the slim figure that was still pressed against the smallest of the doorframes. When their gazes met, he could see the fear that was coursing through her body. “Wouldn’t she be reporting to us of your inability to follow our orders?”

“What are we going to do, if that is the case?” Yellow crossed her hands over her chest, her gaze switching from Steven, to White, and to her own Pearl, almost relieved. “We can’t leave Pink without someone to keep her in check.”

“I can’t become influenced, I’m faultless,” White’s solution came almost as soon as Yellow stopped speaking, nearly overlapping her last word. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while. My pearl is much more responsible and staid. Pink will greatly benefit from spending time with her.”

“Wait,” Blue’s jaw dropped for the second time that day, her eyes widened with shock as she gawked at the taller. “Are you saying that you want to switch pearls?”

“White, the gem placements, the outfits, wouldn’t it make much more sense to just give her a new, more responsible pearl?”

“And shatter a nondefective gem for the sake of what?” While her gaze was warm and seemingly comforting, her words were what washed Steven with a wave of balefulness, and just like Pearl, words were not complying and refused to leave his lips. “Besides, this may only be temporary if I can influence her pearl enough.”

“Wait- no!” Steven’s body finally began to work with him, with his feet no longer glued to the floor. He fumbled towards the closed door where Pearl had pushed herself off of the hall, and as soon as he was close enough rounded arms came to wrap around her waist, nearly defensive. “I don’t want your pearl, I’m just fine with mine!”

“Maybe you should’ve thought about that before you decided to break my rules,” White turned to Blue and Yellow. “We’ll have to reschedule the Diamond Meeting because of this,” She shook her head, “All of this trouble that could’ve been prevented. Take Pink to one of the unlit cells so she can think about her actions, I’ll take care of everything else.”

“No!” Pink felt herself panic when a blue hand gently pressed against her shoulder, tenderly prying her from Pearl. “You can’t do this!”

Her cries of insurgency were met with an even harder grip to her shoulder. She could make out a far away ‘Don’t make this harder than it needs to be, Pink’, but with the tears covering her vision and the rage that sparking through her body, it was hard to make out anything but the hot tears streaming down her face.

In another futile attempt of rebuttal, her own hand curled into a tight fist, and as she allowed the finger to flip her around, the fist met against the blue palm trying to grab at her. Despite its fail, Pink was more surprised at her own hand.

Her hand was gloved, pink and thin rather than small and stout.

Everything in the room seemed to disappear as she gazed down at her own body, petrified at what she saw. She was tall and lean, not short and chubby.

She was Pink, not Steven.

“No, no, no!” Suddenly the tears running down the sides of her face were raining for a different reason, light headed and dizzy. The room, everything in it now nothing more than faint shapes and forms, felt as if it were spinning, and Pink found herself unable to cope with it all. She crouched, her knees to her chest, her hands pressed to her temples, nearly bruising the skin there.  “Stop!”

 

“Stop!”

 

Suddenly, Steven found himself not in the conference room. He found himself sitting upright in his own bed on Earth, sheets thrown off of him and sweating profusely.

“Steven!” Steven turned his vision to his left to where the cry had come from. Connie, visibly frazzled, had jumped from her original position against the pillows next to him, now sitting upright and placing a gentle hand to his pajamaed shoulder. “What happened, are you alright!?”

“I had a dream,” Steven frowned, though it was quick to disappear when Connie only shifted closer, easing his nerves. He remembered last night, when she had offered to keep him company through out the night incase another nightmare struck. Subconsciously, he leaned into the hug, thin arms reaching around his shoulders.

“The same one you were talking about?” Steven had told Connie about the dream; and she had felt equally terrified, even if she wasn’t the one having them.

“No, it’s a different one. I’ve been having them more often.” Steven looked down at his hand wiggling them leisurely just to make sure they were his and he wasn’t in another dream. That thought was immediately relieved when he felt his foot falling asleep. “It’s like I’m having memories. Mom’s memories.

“I start off as myself, but at the end whenever I look at myself, I’m Mom.” He shifted, distributing his weight more equally across Connie’s lap. “I guess this is all really messing with my brain.”

“You just need to take it easy this week,” Steven felt Connie shift slightly, and when he lifted his chin, a smile fell across his lips when he saw the other running her hands through her hair, attempting to control how untamed it had become overnight. “I’ll make sure you do!”

He pulled himself away from the taller after a minute of silent relaxation, his breathing slowly evening. “I was thinking we could take Jasper out to the board walk later. I think she’s trying to grow as accustomed to Earth as Amethyst.”

“They’re practically best friends now,” Connie’s words were backed up; yesterday during breakfast Jasper and Amethyst had completely covered the kitchen in flour after a freak accident- it was hilarious, even if Pearl was not amused at all. “I can’t wait.”

 

 

“Diamond dreams?”

It was a perfect day for the boardwalk; The sun was out, yet there was a gentle breeze in the air that refrained it from radiating anything more than gentle, relaxing warmth. With barely a cloud in the sky, the ocean’s waves glimmered with the reflected light, resembling something that reminded Steven of a front picture of a traveling brochure. The air carried the scent of the salty breeze- or maybe the briny scent was coming from the pretzel that Jasper was ripping into.

“They’re more Pink Diamond dreams, if anything,” Jasper had agreed with coming along to travel around the city for the day, Amethyst tagging along. The topic of his dreams had been somehow brought up, and with one hand carrying the pretzel she had insisted on trying and the other pressing to one of Connie’s ankles that fell over her shoulders, she made no attempt to hide her curiosity.

“Maybe being in Pink’s outfit is taking its toll on you,” Connie, resting against Jasper’s shoulders, brought her arms to the top of the taller’s head, resting her chin against her palms. “What was the dream about specifically?”

“I was running down White’s hallways with her pearl, except she was pink,” Steven had just started explaining and he was already confusing himself, and he prayed that the others wouldn’t ask any questions he didn’t have answers to. “Then I met Blue and Yellow in the room that we were at before the Diamond Meeting. They were angry at me for breaking White’s rules. Then White came in and said that her pearl- well in the dream my pearl- was influencing me too much to be immature.

“She said she was going to take her away and give me her own pearl. The last thing that happened was that I looked down and I saw I was Pink, and everything disappeared. After that, I woke up,” The silence that followed his explanation was more tense than awkward, and he couldn’t exactly blame them. Even now, he was still trying to comprehend it.

“Wow,” Amethyst was the first to speak, her eyebrows raised, yet her gaze unfocused in front of her. “I’ve had weird dreams after eating rotten food before, but I’ve never had one like that before.”

“It makes sense, in some way. Whenever I have really important tests coming up that I’m stressing about, I’ll have weird dreams about them.” Connie shivered, “I once had a dream that my math exam came to life and chased me down the school hallways.”

“I’ve never ‘dreamed’,” Sleeping was something that Jasper was hesitant to try. Amethyst and Steven had taught her, and they had gotten as close as laying down against a pillow. At the last minute she had changed her mind, saying she would try again later. Steven and Amethyst had agreed, allowing her to get used to it at her own pace. “But it still seems weird that you’re dreaming about things you’ve never thought about.”

“Have you ever thought about White’s pearl being Pink?” Amethyst’s words were paused momentarily in between as she placed her lips against the straw of her milkshake, completely disregarding the melted chocolate running down the cup’s side.

“I’ve thought about what happened to her eye, but never about her being Pink’s. That was Pearl.” In his dream, the crack across her face had been replaced with an eye. He wanted to ask what had happened during his first week on Homeworld, but Pearl had advised him not to and shooed away the inquiry.

“Her eye-eye thing- is creepy. But I’ve only seen her when we went to Homeworld the first time.” Connie shrugged.

“I’ve never seen a gem like that. Her gem is on her belly, so why is her skin cracked?” He sighed, turning to Connie almost solemnly. “I wish you could come with me to Homeworld, it would make everything so much easier. At least less stressful.”

“I have school, my mom and dad may be less strict, but they won’t let me miss a whole week of school unless I’m in a hospital bed with an IV bag connected to my arm.” She shook her head, sharing a sympathetic glance with Steven. “During summer vacation and breaks I can, though.”

“As much as it will probably be fun for you to visit Homeworld, I really hope this all doesn’t last until summer.” He pressed the pad of his thumb against the bottom of his chin, deep in thought. “It’s weird though, all of these dreams that I’ve had end up coming true. The dream about Blue Diamond being on Earth. The dream with Pearl shattering Pink Diamond.”

“Really? Can you have a dream about right now and tell us whether or not I’m going to beat Jasper in a race to the shore?” Amethyst’s grin prompted Jasper to stop in her tracks. Suddenly, the half-eaten pretzel was discarded and tossed to the ground, and with Connie still on her shoulders, she burst into a sprint across the boardwalk. He couldn’t help but become amused at the startled shriek that left Connie as she visibly griped onto Jasper’s hair tighter.

With Amethyst quickly following in the chase, Steven was left momentarily alone on the boardwalk, leaving him with nothing but his thoughts.

Was his dream really true? He remembered when Pearl explained to he and Sapphire when she had fled to Rose’s fountain. He remembered the key detail of her telling them she had been ‘given’ to Pink Diamond. He hoped that his next dream would clear things up.

But why has he having them? His thoughts came to the nightmare he had been having since the trade had started; feeling trapped against cold metal, hardened chains clasped against his wrist. Would that come true?

He shivered; he did not want to think about what situation would lead to that outcome. He felt sudden sympathy for Garnet, she could see every single outcome, not just random ones that popped up in her dreams. She was a hero.

“Hey Steven!” A distant cry from the beach shooed his intrusive thoughts away, reminding himself that he wasn’t supposed to be worrying about this. This week was his week to relax, and he’d be absolutely stupid to waste it worrying.

His worries melted when he looked out across the scene on the sand; Connie and Jasper were sprawled onto the ground in a fit of laughter, struggling for air. Amethyst was grinning right besides them, her posture slouched and her hands resting against her knees. “I think we need a little bit of healing spit!”

“I’m coming!” Steven completely disregarded his worries in turn to make his own way to the sand, where the two were just starting to sit themselves upright, with Connie leaning against Jasper’s bicep. Her knees were covered in scrapes, while albeit bleeding were small.

“The greatest Quartz in existence, tripping over a tiny rock!” Amethyst was gasping, struggling to catch her unneeded breath.  “You should’ve seen how they fell, Steven, they basically rolled over like, three times!”

“I think I almost died!” Connie grinned, though it quickly recoiled when she shifted on the sand, pressing her foot against the ground. When she stretched her leg and twisted her heel, Steve noticed a particularly long gash across her shin. “Don’t spit on that,” Her smile returned, “It looks cooler if it leaves a scar.”

“That’s more like it, you’re practically a Quartz!” Surprisingly tenderly, Jasper’s amused remark followed a light nudge to Connie’s shoulder, in which both started snickering again. “Like they said back home, the best thing you can get during a battle is a cracked gem; show’s your loyalty to your cause.”

“I’ve never heard anyone say that.”

“Like I said, half pint, what they said back home.” It was impossible to take care of any of Connie’s scrapes seriously when no one was free of the laughter that had fallen over them again.

“If you’re not going to let me heal it, we should at least get home and clean it up, can you walk?” The gentle breeze was beginning to send a chill throughout the beach that was right on the line of shivering cold. Their day at the beach had exhausted him, which he hoped would help ease him into a peaceful, non-nightmareful sleep.

“Yeah, I can, I just need help up,” Jasper, unharmed and standing, reached her hand down to help the child up. However, when Connie grappled onto the large wrist and the bicep lifted, she stumbled nearly as soon as she had rose to her feet and a quick ‘ow!’   left her lips before she sheepishly sighed. “I might need help.”

Steven playfully rolled his eyes, and as Connie was lifted onto her shoulders once more, he looked out to the ocean again. Maybe he’d have a weird dream about their day. Maybe he’d have a dream that a giant squid erupted from the waters and that the only thing they could defeat it with was the half eaten pretzel that Jasper had discarded on the boardwalk. Maybe the pretzel would become the giant squid.

Yes, he’d have a dream about Earth, something about Earth. He’d have one about going to Funland with the gems and tell them all about it in the morning about how he had seen Amethyst scarf down two entire jumbo-sized bags of popcorn and then accidentally set fire to the prize booth.

He’d have a dream about Earth, so then for at least one week he didn’t have to think about Homeworld and Pink Diamond and White.

 It’s the least his consciousness could do for him.

Chapter Text

“You don’t think she’ll actually budge, do you?”

The week had drawn to an end much too soon for his liking, it was as if he had closed his eyes one moment and as soon as they opened, it was time for him to leave again.

“I’m not sure,” The gems had gathered around the temple; though curled away from where Steven and Connie sat on the couch. “But maybe if I tell her about you, she’ll let me stay an extra day.”

The fall that had sent Jasper and Connie spiraling on the beach earlier had ended up doing much more than causing a few scratches. Jasper had turned out completely fine, though with Connie receiving a sprained ankle, icepacks and Tylenol had been the price for their fun that day. Steven could have easily healed her ankle, though Connie had refused once more. She was afraid of the spit healing the gash above as well, and while usually Steven would’ve argued, realizing this could be a ticket for him to spend extra time with his family, he had merely smiled in response.

“If you think so, it’s worth a shot,” Connie shuffled against the seat of the couch, reaching for the wrap that was banded around her ankle. “White Diamond is stubborn, though. But then again, I’ve only met her once.”

“See? You’ve probably got the wrong idea about her, I’ve seen the…better side of her.” If the better side of White Diamond was the side that wasn’t trying to hurt his friends and the entirety of the planet, than yes, he had seen the better side of her. Even if it wasn’t much better than the worse.

“It’s sort of hard to see the better side of her when the last time I saw her she was ready to drive my own sword into my stomach…” Connie’s words were followed by awkward silence, her lips pressed into a tight frown, her eyes visibly raised. “But I’m sure you’ve befriended gems that have tried to obliterate you.”

“That’d be me!” Peridot raised her hand as if she had been chosen as a winner for a prize.

“And me.” Jasper’s response followed.

“Me for a few minutes.” Bismuth finished the string of add ins.

“That’s how things sort of roll around here,” As Steven spoke, his fingers slid along the sharp edges of the communicator, his thumb tracing against one of the tips that formed the allotrope shape. He had yet to use the communicator with White Diamond, let alone to ask for permission o break a rule of the deal. Maybe White would take in consideration that his week had been shortened by the Diamond Meeting. Albeit unlikely, he hoped that she would show his family a grant of mercy.

“Okay, I’m doing it now,” The gems got barely more than a quick warning before the communicator began to brighten as Steven let it raise from his palms. While just the expressions of the gems softened, Connie visibly scooted herself no more than an inch away from Steven. The tension in the air had immediately become overwhelming; nothing out of the norm with White Diamond as the topic.

Too soon for anyone the communicator’s screen took form, and it wasn’t long before the blurry vision of a familiar face came into view.

“Welcome to White Diamond’s control room,” The voice of White’s Pearl still managed to send a shiver across his spine, even when they were miles and miles away. White Diamond’s, too; their voices were so indistinguishable that he couldn’t tell them apart. There had to be some difference, and maybe with more time he’d be able to tell. “Who has authorized you to contact White Diamond?”

“Myself, I’m allowed to, tell her its Steven.” His voice was far too wavered for his likings, as if he had any reason to be nervous. He was technically another Diamond, why should he fear someone of his same status?

Not as if anyone other than a Diamond was below him, he would never think that; he just had to play by Homeworld’s rules. Still, it didn’t ease his guilt one bit.

“Thank you, I’ll let her know,” The slim figure pulled away from his view, allowing his eyes to glance across the temple. Especially Pearl, Garnet and Bismuth seemed uneasy, glancing at each other with unnerved eyes.

“’Steven’,” Once a new voice filtered through the screen, his attention was immediately hooked to the new profile on the monitor. White Diamond’s colored lips were pulled into a gentle smile, her eyebrows creased forming a soft expression that Steven had never seen. “Why are you calling? Are you that excited to come back to Homeworld?”

“I am excited,” Steven smiled, even if his statement was false. “However, I have something to ask.”

“Oh? And what would that be?”

“You remember Connie,” Leaning forward and pressing his hand to the communicator, he shifted the monitor towards the injured fighter, who was obviously unprepared for the interaction. She visibly froze, before lifting her hand to wave at the Diamond with stiff movements. “A few days ago, she was injured and still hasn’t recovered yet. I want to make sure she’s alright. Can I please stay one more day?”

White Diamond appeared to think for a moment, the corner of her lip pressed between her teeth, before she shook her head with a quiet sigh. “Starlight, I wish I could help you with your predicament, but you have duties to attend to, your schedule is far too busy for this arrangement.”

“But I just don’t have life on Homeworld!” Steven was trying, hard, to keep himself from emotionally lashing out, but the wall that he had built up the past weeks was steadily being chipped away, and while it was far from breaking, he did ponder exactly how long he could last. He turned the communicator again, this time facing the gems that had situated themselves against the kitchen island, who donned similar reactions as Connie like a deer in headlights.  “Look, I have family here that I need to look out for!”

“Hello friends,” White Diamond’s words were nearly mocking. “I’m sure they can take care of themselves considering they took the Earth for themselves. Besides, I never said they couldn’t come with you. Two of them already do.”

“They only come because I can’t go there alone. We had to stay an extra day for the Diamond Meeting, can’t we stay an extra day to make up for that?”

“Starlight, I’m sorry,” Although her words were sympathetic, Steven noticed in the back of his mind how forced they sounded. If he listened closely, they almost sounded fake. Unfortunately, he wasn’t surprised. “Your schedule is just too busy, there’s no room for any change. I’m sorry, soon we’ll try to loosen your schedule, okay?”

Steven sighed, his mood visibly dropped. “Okay. Thank you for trying.”

“If it will help you feel better,” White smiled, “Blue, Yellow and I have decided that you’re ready to start the process of running your own colony. This week will be dedicated to readying the planet and its first few Kindergarten.”

 His own colony? His worries dissolved momentarily at t he announcement of his own planet. He already knew that he genuinely wasn’t like most kids his age, he’d known that since he was born-and it certainly didn’t make him any better than anyone- but now he knew that he was officially the first teen in existence to own an entire planet.  Let alone an entire alien empire. “Really?!”

“Really,” White was the one to adjust her monitor this time, turning it to her side to show to her left. There was a second screen encased above her hand filled with foreign language he assumed was Gem, and when he squinted really hard, he could see the top of White Pearl’s head down below. “It’s the least we can do since our next assignment for you isn’t ready just yet.  As we speak, I’m assigning the amethysts to their stations.”

 

 

“Steven, slow down!” 

He had been sad-devastated- that he hadn’t been allowed to stay an extra day, however that was completely off his mind as he ran through the land before him; bright and green and rocky as far as he could see. Steep mountains all along its surface had made it perfect for a new colony, and the fact that there was no life to harm yet energy to preserve was the icing on the cake.

Pearl’s words were barely filtered in his mind, there was too much rock to skim along his fingers, too many pebbles and stones to collect to take back to Connie. However, he knew what Pearl needed him for, and knowing he had all the time in the world later to continue, he stopped his prancing and made his way back to the thin gem.

“I know you’re excited,” As Steven neared her, Pearl kneeled, setting the large, metal standpipe she had in her arms down. The tiny plastic mask that was attached to its end was unrestrained, and with gentle carefulness, she secured its strap over his mouth and nose. “Pink Diamond was excited to start her own colony, too.”

There was only one con about the planet that the Diamonds had understandable forgotten about; there was no oxygen in the atmosphere, and while Steven had unreasonably compact lungs for a human, most likely due to his gem half, he did notice when he began to feel light headed and dizzy after a couple of minutes. It was a precautionary measure by Pearl to haul around oxygen where ever they went, when Steven asked her where she had even gotten the tanks to carry around, Pearl had said it was none of his business. Though by Amethyst’s snickering that followed her response, he was able to easily put two and two together.

“Was it the same back than as it was now?”

“With Earth there was much more to be done with terraforming and getting the planet ready for the building to begin,” Pearl stood as Steven inched himself just to the right, wanting to continue on the tour down the steep valley that Yellow had asked him to inspect. “Though that’s all we were able to focus on before the colonization halted. I’ve never actually experienced past this.”

“But on the way here you said how amazing it was to see empty, sustainable planets turn into something that could ‘support millions of bustling gems on its surface’!” He supposed his voice raised an octave at the last quotation. It always did when he did an impression of Amethyst of Pearl, or really anyone that wasn’t Bismuth, Garnet, or Jasper. He didn’t mean to, nor did it mean to mock or make fun of his family. Though judging by the cerulean that fell to her cheeks, for whatever reason, it was best for him to drop the subject.

“Now, did Peridot ever tell you how to know when a ground or surface is perfect for gem creation?” Their walking pace was slow, with Pearl shuffling the large oxygen tank in her arms. With Steven’s acknowledgment of nothing but a starry-eyed shake of his head, Pearl continued, pointing to the deep walls that surrounded either side of them.

“The first thing you need to look at is if there is a wide enough expanse of ground, preferably a cliff, that’s deep enough for a gem to be created in,” Her gaze spread across the valley. “We can already check that off the list.”

“What’s next?”

“The minerals in the ground count, too. Usually, the best type of rock for gem development is chert or nepheline syenite.” Their walk was stopped momentarily as Pearl crouched to fish a few tiny pieces of pebble from the ground, shuffling them in her palm. “Do you know their characteristics?”

Steven shook his head. “Not one bit!”

Pearl smiled. “Well thank the stars I do, and we’re in luck,” the pebbles in her hand were prodded with the pad of her thumb. “This is definitely nepheline syenite; plutonic, consists of alkali feldspar and biotite, its fine grained and perfect for colonization.”

“You can tell that just by looking at a few tiny pieces of it?!”

“I’ve done this dozens of times before, it was one of the first things that was programmed into my gem,” The stones were discarded on the ground, her hand raising up to her bow to wipe the dust from her palm. With Steven’s confused at the last sentence, Pearl stopped to clear things up. “Just like how the first things you learned to do was crawl, walk, and talk despite not being specifically instructed to.”

The explanation was much better, even if it did nothing to stop him from being amazed at his caretaker. He wondered if he would ever be able to classify a rock by just its looks. He could do it with actual gems; he would tell exactly who was an amethyst, a jasper, a pearl, even if by looks rather than the faucets on their stones.

His head tilted in confusion, however. “ Is everything you guys do implanted into your gems?”

“It’s not as if we don’t have a free will, our gems don’t script everything out for us,” Pearl pressed a pale finger to her chin, obviously trying to come up with an explanation. “You didn’t need anyone to teach you how to cry or breathe or sleep, they came natural to you because your brain was created knowing how to. It’s like that with full gems; we’re created knowing what to do. An Amethyst knows she’s supposed to be a soldier and follow her commander’s orders, just like how a zircon is created knowing she’s supposed to defend people during trials. We don’t know the details, how to do them or our exact duties, but we immediately know the basic building blocks of them, it that makes sense. This makes it hard to rebel against our creation’s purpose because of those instincts.”

“Which makes it even cooler that you taught yourself to fight,” Steven has watched both Pearl and Connie fight on multiple occasions, teaming up against a Holopearl, or even in friendly spars together. Every single day, it was still fascinating to him how she had taught herself all of these things thousands of years ago. If he tried half of the things Pearl or Connie did, he’d be in the hospital.

“Oh, please,” the finger against her rose up and opened to cup her flushed cheek, flattered and embarrassed by his remarks. “I may have taught myself, but I never would’ve thought about doing any of that hadn’t it been for Pink Diamond.”

“You guys may have encouraged me to, but I never tell anyone that you three are the reason why I know how to walk.” That prompted chuckling from both, even if Pearl did cup the mask in encouragement for Steven again. Once the initial laughter faded, Steven puckered his lips, another question on mind. “Do you remember being first created?” He paused. “ Wait, that’s just like you asking me if I remember being born.”

“Not really,” Pearl shook her head, observing a particularly divided lean against the cliff wall. “Unlike humans, when gems are born, we aren’t infants. We’re already fully developed with a thinking and conscious mind. We’re just blank sleets, you could say.” She smiled. “I do remember; however it was thousands of years ago, and not interesting at all.”

“Do you think we’ll get to see any pearls emerge this week?”

“Oh stars no, the first priorities for kindergartens will be quartzes like amethysts and jaspers and citrines.” Pearl’s words were accompanied with a grin at Steven’s enthusiasm. “Now, I’m sure Yellow Diamond will want us back and let her know this planet is perfect for colonization.”

Steven had thought they had been walking along the valley for hours, however he was surprised when nearly five minutes of walking their original direction later, he could spot the silhouette of Yellow Diamond’s palanquin and the Amethysts who had been brought along to help begin the process of colonization.

“You’re back,” As they reached ear shot of Yellow Diamond, the screen she had formed above her hand dissipated, her attention to the two figures who had returned from their journey. “What’s the status of the quality here?”

“Very good,” While Pearl would’ve been much more better at explaining than him, he knew that Yellow would most likely rather hear the update from him than her; even if all three of them would benefit from her explaining it. “The cliffs and valley walls are perfect for kindergartens, and the soil is full of…”

He turned to Pearl, who mouthed her response.

“Oh! The soil is full of nepheline syenite! Very finely grained!” Sending a glance of thanks towards his caretaker, Steven’s spirits lifted when Yellow’s lips raised in satisfaction and slight surprise. “We are ready for the colonization.”

“Thank you for your report, Pink, I’ll make sure that the injectors arrive by the end of the next half cycle.” Yellow Diamond lifted her hand. “For now, you can supervise the amethysts work or make sure the lapis lazulis are doing their job at the west water body we crossed paths with earlier.”

“There’s lapis lazulis here?!” Steven turned to Pearl following his exhilarated shout, turning to chase the other with stars in his eyes and his grin wider than ever before. “I want to go see them, please, please, please?!”

“Yellow Diamond just said we could, so why not?” Gripping the large tank once more, Pearl lead the way to the direction of what Steven assumed was where the gems would be, and even at their slow pace, there was till bounce in his step, completely disregarding the mask in order to skip around his caretaker excitedly. Rather than waste time with a slow pace because of the tank, Pearl ultimately decided to place it back in her gem’s pocket. Once Steven began to feel light headed, she would bring it out once more.

“What do the lapises do?!” Not even five seconds into their trek he was already asking questions, obviously ecstatic. “How long till we get to them?”

“Lapis lazulis are used to adjust and utilize a planet’s liquids for its colonization, most of the time water,” Pearl explained, “They can help redirect bodies of water to somewhere else in order to build gem structures, and can even remove it entirely and redirect it to somewhere it will be saved for water structures on other planets. It shouldn’t take more than a fifteen minute walk if I remember when we crossed the path of that lake.”

“Water structures...” Steven breathed, obviously struck.  “Gem culture gets more amazing every day. You still need to teach me gem language.”

“I’m so happy that you’re interested in gem culture. You are gem, after all,” Pearl smiled, “Gem language is a written language besides a few spoken words. It has very unique characters that require years of studying for a human to master.”

“We can start soon, then! What are the catchphrases? How do you say hello?”

“I should’ve expected you wouldn’t give up so soon,’ She sighed. “It’s been so long since I’ve spoken it, let alone written. I don’t know if the pronunciation is as good as it can be.”

“It won’t matter to me!” Steven grinned, his hands curling into tight fists. “Come on, come on!”

“Alright, if you insist, if you want to say hello.”

The next words that came from Pearl’s lips, Steven couldn’t even describe.

“You can teach me when we get back to Earth…” Sheepishly, he scratched at the back of his head, trapping a single coil between his index and thumb. “Or maybe much later.”

“Understandable, that’s the only thing I remember, though I can still write and read it fluently,” The thinner brought her hand up to her gemstone for just a moment, pausing, before it was gracefully set back down. “I would show you, but I suppose there’d be a better time for that, right?”

“When Cen- Nephrite,” Since knowing his friend’s true gemstone, he had been trying to refrain from calling her her nickname. Afterall, he had never asked her if the nickname was okay. “When she wrote in it, it just looked like a whole bunch of scribbles.”

“Trust me, once you learn it it’ll look much better than just scribbl-“Pearl’s words and Steven’s focus were immediately halted when they both felt the ground beneath them suddenly disappear, far too distracted in teir conversation to somehow not notice the leaning dent in the planet’s surface. And despite their best attempts, surprise was far too much to even consider trying to catch their balance, and with a surprised protest both tumbled over the edge and down the crater’s wall.

Thankfully the crater wasn’t too deep, and it wasn’t long before Steven’s tumble down slowed to a clumsy halt. He was sure he had hit his head on the way down, but besides that and a few sore muscles he appeared to be perfectly fine. However, if someone who had a delicate source of energy on their forehead that could easily be scratched or damaged with just a single blow-

“Pearl!” Steven whipped his head to his left, where his caretaker laid resting on her hand and knees, her free palm cuffed over her gemstone. “Is your gem okay!?”

“I’ve had cracks, nicks, and scratches in my gem before, and it didn’t feel like what it feels right now,” Relief rushed through his veins when the other turned his way; her stone lathered in a thin layer of dirt and dust, buts still smooth and bare like usual. “I’m alright. It looks like the side of your head hit a rock on the way down, though.”

“I can’t believe we didn’t see a huge hole in front of us,” His hand rose to where Pearl had pointed it, sharp pain there slightly irritating where he tenderly rubbed. When he brought it back down, he was surprised to see that a bit of the fabric had been stained with a darker liquid. He frowned, realizing it was blood.

However, his distaste was almost instantly forgotten as he tilted his head upwards when he felt a single, cool drop of liquid fall to his nose. He went wide eyed when he spotted a vast body of water hanging meters above their heads, even in the air somehow managing to stay in its original shape as the crater. His eyes flew across the sky until they landed on three figures nearly concealed by the water, their movements synchronized as they contained the liquid in their power.

The water began to evolve from its cupped rotation, stretching thin across the sky as far as he could even see. And then, the water began to filter into tiny raindrops, trickling down from the sky. Steven could barely feel the raindrops due to their size, but it was still amazing that the water seemed to disappear into thin air.

The raindrops continued until the body of water had seeped into nothing at all. With the water vanished and taken care of, the three figures in the air finally brought their focus to the two gems still coiled against the crater, slightly damp from the rain drops.

“Pearl, did you see that?!” Steven turned back to his caretaker, who had lifted her head to watch the spectacle herself, smiling at his entertainment. “I’ve never seen anything like that, all of the water just disappeared!”

“I always did enjoy watching the lapis lazulis terraform planets,” It wasn’t until then that Pearl rose from the dirt, a simple cloth pulled from her gem. “The way they move water is always so fascinating.”

Steven nodded in response as he crawled towards the thinner, far too dizzy to bring himself to his feet yet. After he was cleaned up, he’d have to ask Pearl to bring out the oxygen.

“Hey, are you okay?” As the cloth was gently pressed to the bleeding scratch against his forehead, Steven shifted his eyes leisurely to glance at the source of the statement; the three lapis lazulis standing at the edge of the crater.

They all looked similar to Lapis; their color schemes and dress differentiated, though with the blue palette and the similar hair styles, it wasn’t hard to pinpoint who they were; especially with the tear like gem that was placed across the second’s cheek.

“Yeah, we’re okay,” Steven was shocked at the informality that the blue gem had addressed him with. He was used to gems saluting him and addressing him as ‘how are you today, my Diamond’ and ‘you’re glorious and magnificent my Diamond’. However, it certainly wasn’t angering him; he relished in how she talked to him, it reminded him of back home. “That was amazing what you did!”

“Thank you, it was just a routine terraform, though,” The second gem, who he desperately wanted to nickname ‘Cheeky’, pressed her arms over her head, palms pressing into her own shoulders. She donned a crop top, just like Lapis, however rather than a dress she was wearing sweatpants that were held with a gold elastic band. “What are you doing here?”

“Yellow directed us to check on your progress,” Whilst Pearl responded, she applied just a bit of pressure against the cut, her second hand gently cupping his shoulder. He was thankful that she felt comfortable enough to speak out. “Though it seems like you’re doing just fine.”

“You bet!” The first gem, he nicknamed inside his mind as ‘Cadet’- her skin was a pretty blue that reminded him of one of his favorite crayons in his tool box- was next to speak, confidence raised in her words. The only one who hadn’t spoken yet was the one at the far end, with her hands pressed to Cadet’s shoulders, who seemed more shy than the other two. “We’re the best Lapis trio in the galaxy!”

Steven was immediately fond of these gems; with their laid back attitudes and slumped statures, he found himself comfortable with them and immediately cherished his decision to supervise them rather than the amethysts. He hissed when he felt a cotton swab lightly scrape the skin around his wound. He had been too caught up in the conversation to notice that Pearl had retrieved a tiny medical box, spread out around the two. The hand on his shoulder sympathetically rubbed tender shapes into his skin.

“I’ve only met one other Lapis, she’s kind of like you. You’d like to meet her.” Steven grinned, already thinking about the hay day Lapis and Peridot would have meeting this trio. “Do you have names?”

“I’m Lapis Lazuli 84J Cut-“

“No, not like that! Like nicknames.” Steven turned to Pearl. “Like she’s…” Realizing he was still in the dark with her faucet name, his last syllable was drawn out. “She has a faucet name I don’t know, but Amethyst back home calls her ‘Pierogi’ and ‘P’…. and Renegade!” From the corner of his eye, he could see Pearl visibly roll her eyes and blush.

“I’ve never had one,” Cadet turned to the others who shook their heads in response.

“I’ve been called magnificent by a few Rubies if that counts,” With the final Lapis finally mustering a reply, the others broke into conspicuous laughter. “And we’re barely peeresses!”

“Then you can be called ‘Magnificent’!” Steven grinned, and as he moved on, his hand directed to the other two. “Cadet and Cheeky!”

“You’ve nicknamed so many Gems, Steven,” Pearl shook her head. “How do you keep up with them?”

“It’s better than having to remember faucet types,” His words wavered at the end when he felt rubbing alcohol press to his scratch, and he had to resist the urge to jerk his entire body and hit Pearl below the chin. “When do you think the amethysts are going to emerge?”

“Not for a day at least,” The three gems were visibly intrigued as Pearl continued her response, “Until we get to manage gem production, we’ll probably be observing the work already going on here, such as the lapis terraforming and the soldiers that are clearing out the kindergarten spaces.”

“Can we watch?” Cadet had suddenly summoned her water wings, and it wasn’t long before a blue face was only inches away from his own. “I’ve never seen a gem emerge before!”

“But we have our next assignment after this!” Magnificent and Cheeky were quick to follow suit, though rather than pushing themselves in front of his face, they merely rested right next to Steven and Pearl, with their arms crossed over their chests. “We can’t stay long enough to watch them emerge.”

“If I may remind you, ‘Magnificent’,” Cheeky grinned, “We have Pink Diamond with us, and her orders outrank our commander’s any day. She could station us here long enough to see them emerge.”

“We could hold her hostage until she lets us stay long enough!” Despite the playful remarks, Steven visibly exhaled sharply through gritted teeth.

“That’s already happened,” He shared a glance with Pearl, who, just like him, had a reminiscing and terrified expression, though they quickly faded. “But I can have you stay here for as long as you want.”

He stopped. “With one condition.”

All three gems perked, raising their eyebrows with interst in their gazes.

“You can’t call me Pink Diamond,” Steven tilted his head lightly as Pearl pressed a bandage to his head. “You can only call me Steven.”

The three water gems paused to glance at each other for a moment, as if discussing their simple option. Then, Cadet turned back to Steven, a smile edging her thin lips.

“You bet!”

 

 

 

 

“Yes, yes, goodbye now,” There was barely a moment between when the words left her lips and when the screen was shut off. She was silent for a single moment, before raven colored lips curled into a smirk, a chuckle bubbling from her throat.

She stood from her throne, her eyes gentle shutting as her nails traveled along the side of her face, momentarily tracing along her jaw. It still came to a surprise to her how perfect she was sometimes.

When she was finished relishing in her own talent and self, she glanced down to the pearl stationed at her feet, as obedient and perfect as always. She smiled as she crouched, the pad of her finger gently patting the top of her head. “As perfect as you can be, just like always.”

It wasn’t new news she was perfect in every shape and way. She had created the idea of a deal with ‘Steven’, and countless years ago she had fixed her pearl. It was a pity that ‘he’ drowned himself in the presence of less gems and beings, after all she had helped create him in her perfect image.

It was alright, however. She could change that, and she would.

Escaping from her throne room, White observed everything around her, just like she did countless times a day. The walls and floor were a pristine white, free of flaws, just like herself, as she should. Traveling down Blue and Yellow’s halls was always a difficult task; she could always pinpoint flaws no one else could. She tried her best to make every single gem as perfect as she, but she didn’t dare to spread herself that thin.

And perhaps a guilty pleasure, she was rather amazed on how she could keep such a perfect empire running even with flawful gems. It only proved her power and perfection and ability to lead.

The room she was striving for wasn’t far of a walk, merely a few turns around the corner and she was pressed her palm against the decretory screen and watching as the door leisurely slid open.

It was about time she did this; after all the sooner she could train them the better. She gazed across all the bubbles along the ceiling, the gemstones glistening with the light of her own body.

As it turned out, it was a blessing in disguise that Steven had released the rose quartzes from their imprisonment. She hadn’t even thought about using them to her advantage until Blue and Yellow had asked her what they’d do with them. Of course, Blue and Yellow didn’t know about this.

Her hand raised again, and when she snapped, the bubbles encasing the gems disappeared with a satisfying ‘pop!’. The gems began to clatter to the ground with gentle sounds of gem against stone.

White had never been poofed nor reformed, so she had no idea how it felt. She couldn’t expect the roses to reform right away, after all patience was a virtue she was blessed with. However, it was a delight to see that, by the light that was beginning to surround the inactive gems, she wouldn’t have to wait long.

It was satisfying to her, watching the form of the gems take their places. She could easily tell the defects just by their silhouettes. Those who statured smaller than the others, she had bee extremely grateful to let Pink keep them.

She was far too kind for her own good, wasn’t she?

She remembered when the quartzes had first emerged; Pink was so excited to have an army of her own. If only she could see where they were now; reforming with confused, angered, and mixed expressions. Not a single one formed their weapons, however; even rebelling against the ones that made them, no one could retain such a tough impression in front of her.

(She knew there were a few exceptions; though they were in the back of her mind. Who was she if she wasn’t the definition of intimidating and perfect?)

“What…?” The first Quartz that spoke had shakiness in her inquiry, her hand pressed to her forehead as she adjusted once more to being free from her bubble prison. She seemed confused for a moment, before her gaze lifted to meet White’s.

“Hello, gems, welcome back,” Her smile was a comforting one, perhaps sympathetic. “How do you all feel?”

“How do we feel?” The next one growled-the tiniest of the bunch- resting on her hands and knees and her lips parted in the smallest of a frown. “We got tricked, how do you think we feel?”

“Ah, yes,” White responded, “I would feel betrayed, too. You were promised something for your work,” If she could even call it work, “Only to be poofed again, just like you unfairly were thousands of years ago.”

“What if I told you I could make up for it all?”

That prompted all of the rose quartzes reformed to pause their collective angered mumbling, instead gazing up at White Diamond with a questioning look. They were speechless, confused, for a silent minute before the original finally spoke again.

“How would you do that?”

“Well, I can guarantee as long as you exist, you’ll never be trapped in a bubble again,” Her head tilted to her side, mimicking the expressions of the gems below her. “Have you ever watched the gems above and wished you were like them? Aristocratic?”

Another silence from the quartzes before a mumbled, “Keep talking.”

“How would you like to become the gems above?” The gasp that followed her words heightened her pleasure. “White Diamond’s personal soldiers? Defy your ranks and become greater than what you thought you could be?”

The rose quartzes were obviously starstruck at the fact that someone as magnificent as White Diamond was offering something as great as becoming her personal guards. They could become something greater than just an average quartz. “Do we have a choice?”

White Diamond hummed. “Not really, unless you want to stay in a bubble for who knows how long until Pink Diamond restarts her colony and you have a use again.” She crouched, prompting all of the gems to step back frightfully. However, a gentle smile was on her lips as she reached out her hand, or at least a single finger, and reached it out towards the leading quartz. “So, what do you say?”

She seemed to hesitate for a moment, turning to her fellow gems. They didn’t talk, however the way they huddled together and glanced at each other, it was obvious their choice was made.

She exhaled, before turning back to White with a determined grin. A flushed hand met her nail, following suit with a nod.

“Okay, we accept.”

Chapter Text

Anxiety wasn’t unusual for the gems on Earth once the pink legs took off from the beach, shooting into the atmosphere until it looked nothing more than the faded stars that donned the sky. Another week without Steven meant a week without the boy’s laughter in the temple or the angry cries as his video game console suddenly stopped. Not to mention the looming threat of White Diamond taking back her word, and potentially harming their family on Homeworld.

However, the anxiety was relieved when the Sun Incinerator started up for the third time since the Off Colors had landed on Earth, ready to pick up the next Homeworld gem staying with them for the week.

Their first week’s gem had been manageable.  Yellow had been difficult to tame, but later in the week they had managed to fish small conversations out of her, which was a much bigger achievement they had ever done with Holly Blue.

Not getting a heads up regarding who would stay with them was hard as they anticipated the return of the Sun Incinerator, multiple possibilities running throughout everyone’s minds. Peridot had stated how ‘unbelievably, completely and utterly radical’ it would be to have another Peridot stay with them. Many of the gems wished for a second of their faucet type to join them, all of course except Garnet; she was completely satisfied with the little Padparadsha.

The only thing worse than waiting for the Sun Incinerator to arrive home is watching it leisurely land on the sand of the shore, just as the sky was beginning to turn a milky blue with the weight of the growing stars as night crawled over the horizon.

The gems watched intently with anticipation. Whoever would be their replacement for the week was right behind the ship’s doors, and suddenly, everyone was holding their breath.

Their breaths were released when a familiar face made itself apparent as the ship’s gate slid open, followed up with a collective gasp.

“Canary!” There was barely a moment between when Yellow Pearl hesitantly stepped onto the beach and when water wings were formed from the blue gem on the temple’s balcony, leaving poor Peridot behind by herself, curling tiny arms around Bismuth’s bicep.

Even from the temple, it was clear how the pearl’s face brightened upon hearing the water gem call her name, and releasing her hardened grip from Garnet, the only other gem she felt the courage to interact with, a clumsy hug was shared as Lapis landed right in front of the yellow figure.

“Lapis Lazuli!” Garnet had no doubt that Steven would be proud of the other’s progress, as compared to last time when she couldn’t even exit the ship without the help of an aristocratic gem. It was a relief to all of the gems on Earth that someone familiar would be joining them for the week, expecting much more progress from the yellow gem. They deserved it after having to spend an entire week with Holly Blue.

“They chose you to come back again?”

“White Diamond did, on the contrary,” Yellow corrected, “My Diamond was much more hesitant to send me back here again, but White Diamond had been pleased with my report of the last time I was here. She said since Pink Diamond had been upset about her tight schedule, she would be nice to the gems on Earth and send them a familiar face they had enjoyed.”

“How caring,” Garnet hummed, crossing her arms over her chest. “I say we should all go back up to the temple and say hello to everybody else.”

 

“Why aren’t you moving?”

The initial exhileration of having a familiar face joining them in their week faded to simple pleasure as the gems inside the temple went back to their duties. Bismuth had been working non-stop on refurnishing the temple, Garnet and Amethyst had been called onto a mission, and the remaining gems, even Lapis, had called to a situation on the beach when Lars had barged into the temple in a panic (‘’Padparadscha and Steven’s pet are stuck in the ocean!” From where everyone was on the couch, through the window they could spot two, miniscule black figures a few hundred meters away from the shore. “Rhodonite and the Rutiles are too afraid to help and I never learned how to swim!”).

In the end, it had only left Connie, still a bit too pained to help the situation, and Jasper, who wanted to keep the young child company, in the temple. When Jasper had stood up momentarily to stretch her sore limbs from crowding onto the couch for far too long, Yellow had obviously found it interesting in the lack of Connie following suit.

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” Yellow didn’t hesitate at all as soon as Connie finished her question, partially frightening the girl due to the fact this would be the first time in both of the weeks that the pearl had directly spoken to her. “You’re a ’Crystal Gem’, aren’t you? Shouldn’t you be moving around all the time, too?” As she spoke, she pointed in Jasper’s direction, who had ceased her stretching to merely rest her arms against her side before finally situating back on the couch.

“If I could move, Jasper and I would probably be training, but I have a sprained ankle, see?” Steadily, Connie adjusted her body to bring her wounded leg onto the couch. It was comical how Yellow seemed to become intrigued, uncurling from her original position with her knees pressed against her chest, observing the wrap around the ankle with curious intent.

“A ‘sprained’ ankle?”

“That’s what happens when the bone of the ankle twists in an awkward way. The bandage keeps it from rolling anymore and helps the swelling,” Connie adjusted again, returning her foot to the ground, cringing momentarily when her heel hit the hard floor just a bit too hard for her liking.

“Why would you build your body that way? It’s so…constrictive,” Connie’s explanation confused the pearl, who pulled back to her original side of the couch. “Humans are designed with so many restraints, I’m surprised you are advanced as you are.”

“Don’t gems have weaknesses, too?”

“Not the Diamonds, no. We’re designed to adjust to any planet’s atmosphere, bounce back even after our physical forms have been destroyed. Even if our gemstones vary in strength and scratch resistance, our bodies have no flaws, excluding defective gems, though they can be barely considered gems.”

Connie was about to rebuttal her last point, as she felt the need to defend Amethyst, Padparadscha, the Rutiles, and every other wrongly-formed gem in Homeworld’s empire. Just as she was about to open her mouth, however, she was interrupted by the gem beside her, who had situated back into her own cushion.

“That’s what I thought at first, too,” Jasper’s butt in, while gradually becoming more and more normal, was still a bit of a shock for Connie. “Amethyst has one of the best whips I’ve ever seen, and she fights just as good as a regular Quartz.”

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” Yellow rolled her eyes, though her tone was much more less criticizing than Connie had expected. “I haven’t seen any for you gems fight at all. Isn’t that what you do?”

“When we need to,” Jasper raised an eyebrow in amusement. “Do you think we fight anything and everyone every single minute of the day? If we did that there wouldn’t be nearly as many humans on Earth.”

“Well, what do you in your free time, then?”

“Fun stuff!” Connie pressed her finger to her chin, trying to conjure ideas of past time entertainment that wouldn’t completely confuse the pearl. “I like going to Funland. The food is kind of gross, but the games and rides there are really fun!”

“Why aren’t you there right now?”

“My leg.”

Yellow scoffed. “What’s with it with you ‘Crystal Gems’? Always talking about how fearless you are yet letting the tiniest inconvenience stop you from doing anything. Crystal Gems and humans sure do have many things in common.”

“If that’s the only thing stopping us,” Jasper’s interruption prompted both Yellow and Connie to turn. “I can easily carry you. Let’s show Canary how fun life on Earth can be?”

“And I’m sure at least Amethyst will want to come with us! And Lapis!” Connie turned her head to glance out over the window near the temple’s door; the sun was out, basking the beach in a warm glow. It was the perfect day to go out. “It’s a great idea! Canary, you can ride the loop coaster!”

“I already told you not to call me that!”

 

Garnet had approved of their idea of taking Yellow to Funland; even she wanted to tag along. Bismuth had stated her interest in coming with them, but with she and Peridot working hard to extend their living quarters, the offer was politely refused.

It was still a fairly decent crowd, especially with the Off Colors insisting to Lars that they needed to come with as well. With Connie resting over Jasper’s shoulders and Padparadscha donning a child’s leash, Beach City’s Funland was the next sight in order.

“We could start with the Teacups, first!” Connie wasn’t used to Garnet not taking the lead, but was not unpleased with being informally appointed as the leader for mission. It was for the best, after all; she was the one with the most knowledge about human activities, and Lars was far too busy managing the Off Colors along. “Or we could grab something to eat!”

“I’m really trying to see the interest in this,” Yellow’s tone was grievous, her arms pressed strictly behind her back. When Connie leaned backwards a bit to glance in the other’s direction, Yellow appeared to shudder profoundly at something to her left. Turning her head again confirmed a human walking past with a gargantuan container of popcorn as the suspect. “But this is so…strange.”

“Humans are curious creatures,” as if providing comfort for the obviously shaken gem, Lapis pressed a consoling hand to her thin shoulder. “Its best to try and think positive. Some of their ideas are useful.”

Connie had been way past taking any offense to the gems’ words. The gem race was far more advanced than humans on every single level, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they’d suspect their species as inferior compared to their own. Besides, she had to agree with them; some of the things humans did made even her question their intelligence as a species.

“I think they’re neato’,” Amethyst’s words were partially mumbled as they passed one of the many food booths along the amusement park’s board walks, particularly eyeing what Connie had to assume the greasiest item on its menu. “But I might be biased. I’ve been living in the human lifestyle more than gen culture.”

“Then perhaps I’m ‘biased’,” Yellow seemed to forget her shun of every gem that wasn’t now Connie, Jasper, Lapis, or Garnet. “I didn’t even realize humans had a culture besides being irrelevant. They still partially are, nor do I still see a good reason why the Crystal Gems wanted to start a war against their own kind for them.”

“Being thrown in the middle of an unknown society is much different than being there as it develops,” Connie had never thought about how the gems had interacted and watched humans develop over thousands of years, and know that she was with Garnet’s words, she wondered exactly how much Garnet, Pearl and Rose indirectly and directly influenced human culture. “We don’t expect you to get used to it immediately.”

“That’s exactly what I said, ‘Garnet’,” Yellow’s call of ‘Garnet’ rather than ‘Fusion’ had been consistently growing more and more recurrent, and while the progress was great, Connie wished that the rest of the nicknames would eventually come to an end. She had lost count of how many times she had heard ‘Defective Waste of Space’ and ‘Malfunctioning, Less Important Than a Micha Mistake’. “…What exactly are we supposed to do?”

“Whatever you want to do,” resting her arms over the top of Jasper’s head, Connie pulled back from the shoulders slightly, allowing herself to crane her neck and observe the surrounding area. “I think it’s going to be best to go on some rides, first. We’ll definitely have to wait to go on The Looper until the very end.”

“The Looper?”

“Its right there!” Connie pointed to her left to a gargantuan, spiraling steel coaster that seemed to stretch across the entire amusement park. She craned her neck once more to look back at the yellow gem; she had stopped in her tracks, staring at the ride with what she could only describe was the most terrified expression she had ever seen on a gem.

”I-“ Yellow’s anxiety increased when the remaining gems turned their heads to face her. “I think I ran too much ahead when I accepted this invitation. I can’t do this yet!”

“That’s okay, Canary,” Yellow coiled back instinctively when a warm hand pressed to her shoulder. Though unlike other times, even after the initial shock she had yet to slap it away from her body. “We’re proud of you for trying.”

“I’m still getting used to gem culture,” created and raised on a human populated planet Amethyst had lacked the experience of gem society that the other gems had experienced, and Connie couldn’t help but appreciate that one thing that they had in common. “We aren’t expecting you to get used to everything by getting overwhelmed all at once.”

Yellow tilted her head. “But aren’t you a gem?”

“I mean, I don’t think the gems on Homeworld spend their time pulling off shit on humans.”

“…What is ‘shit’?”

 

 

“You tried!” Back home again, Steven had clearly expressed his excitement for the pearl’s attempts over the course of the week to dip her feet into the seas of human culture. Despite both Steven and Pearl’s exhaustion from the week, the boy had expressed his desire to stay awake for as long as he could before Yellow had to return to Homeworld. He often told Connie that he was jealous that the gems got to spend a week with their Homeworld guest compared to his barely a day.

“Yes… I tried,” Yellow leaned back against the cushions, crossing her legs over each other and resting her palms against her kneecap. “Huamn culture is something that will take time to get used to.”

“I watched humans develop their society throughout the course of thousands of years,” Steven was more than relieved that Pearl and Yellow had yet to bicker yet. For once, they seemed to be getting along. “Some of their choices throughout history have been interesting.”

“No offense,” from where Amethyst sat, leaning against the counter, she sent an apologetic glance to Connie. When she glanced back towards the purple gem, she could spot Bismuth and Jasper right beside her with the same expression.

“I’m used to it, and it’s true.”

Suddenly, Pearl furrowed her eyebrows, and she seemed just as confused when her gemstone began to glow. An allotrope shaped object summoned from her gem, and Steven immediately noticed it as an alerting communicator once the initial light dissipated.

“Oh!” Yellow Diamond had decided the last visit that Steven and Pearl should have their own communicators considering a situation from the week when Pearl and Steven had separated and Yellow hadn’t been able to get in contact with him. He raised an eyebrow, however, at the fact that Yellow wanted to contact his caretaker rather than him. “I have to take this really quick!”

Once Pearl exited the house through the temple door, Steven turned back to Yellow despite his curiosity and his strong urge to push his ear against the blinded window.

Before he was able to initiate a conversation, however, Yellow beat him to it.

“You saw my Diamond, right?” When Steven nodded in response, she continued. “What was she like?”

“She was upset about having you here again, and she seemed awfully stressed,” Steven brought his finger to his chin, recalling the past week at his interactions with the diamond. “I think she was having a hard time having to do the things that you usually do for her.”

Yellow was quiet for a moment, though when she spoke again, her tone was intrigued. “I’m sure she was just worried for me, being away from her for so long.”

“It seems like the opposite way, really. You’ve been doing better than her. At times it seems like she’s more reliant on you than you are on her.”

“That’s insane talk,” Yellow scoffed, “I’m the one that needs her. That’s what I was made to do, depend on her.”

“It doesn’t seem like that,” Connie was curious where this conversation was going, and Yellow did too as her smile seemed to probe her on. “The past week you’ve seemed just fine on your own. It’s almost seemed like you’ve been enjoying it.”

Yellow’s response wasn’t verbal, rather her cheeks turned a dark marigold, and she looked away from his gaze with a concerned expression.

Their attention was pulled from the conversation as Pearl came back through the door. Steven froze at the expression on her face.

“I just got off of the communicator with White Diamond,” Steven knew exactly what was coming; with Pearl’s body weight pressed to one leg and her arms crossed over her chest. “And, just like me, she was wondering why Blue’s pearl has gone missing.”

Yellow’s expression soured as she watched Steven grow pale, inhaling a sharp breath. Suspiciously, her eyes narrowed. “You didn’t kill her, did you?”

“No! No, no!” At the far-fetched accusation, Steven jumped from his spot on the couch, still cowering from Pearl’s disapproving gaze. “I didn’t do anything! I found her gemstone and was going to give it back to Blue!”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Because we were about to leave! I’m keeping her safe until we can get her back to Blue!”

“Where did you put her?”

“I…Don’t get mad please,” Pearl raised an eyebrow as Steven raced up to his loft, nearly tripping over his own feet and stumbling as he hurried towards his bed.  “I didn’t know any other place to put her without telling you guys.”

“You put her in your night stand?” Pearl gasped discernibly when he pulled his night drawer open and pulled out a smoot, round gemstone.

“Well, she wasn’t reforming! I wanted to put her in here just in case she reformed while I was sleeping!” Steven cupped the gemstone gently between his palms. “Then again, it would probably be uncomfortable to reform inside a crowded drawer.”

As soon as his words cut off, the stone in his hand begin to ruminant with a soft glow and rise gently from his hands. Steven pulled away from his bed, nearly falling backwards over the stairs. A firm hand pressed against his shoulder, easing him back as a figure began to take form in the midst of the light.

It wasn’t long before the light had dissipated completely, leaving a pale blue figure to gently ease herself to the ground. However, standing on her own two feet didn’t last long, nearly as soon as she came into contact with the ground her knees buckled below her, sending her down to her knees, her skirt of mesh piling around her thighs.

“Wait,” her first-cracked- word followed with her hands reaching up to guard her face, her posture visibly rigid as she seemed to prepare for an attack. Teal strands of hair were a bit messier than usual, and to Steven’s interest, from where he stood he could see the beginnings of an eye from where the strands parted.

“Are you okay?” The pearl slacked slightly when Steven’s voice broke her from her frantic haze, her hands lowering back to rest against the top of her thighs. Her head turned to survey her environment, her gaze resting on Pearl and Yellow for a longer period of time.

“I’m…not on Homeworld?” Blue hadn’t seemed to change anything in her reformation, everything from her sleeveless leotard and her wispy skirt remained as it had before; besides a few oddities in the midst of her franticness. “Where am I?”

“You’re on Earth with the Crystal Gems,” Steven was relieved as he stepped forward when the pearl made no attempt to coil back. Her fear seemed to dissolve, replaced with confusion. “I found you poofed when I was on my way back to the ship dock. What happened?”

“I,” even Yellow had grown snared in the interest of the situation, pulling her arms across over the sofa’s edge so she could face the gem up in the loft. “I was delivering a package to White Diamond on the behalf of my own, but I was nowhere near a ship dock.”

“What happened then?”

“I was confronted by a pair of quartzes. Rose quartzes,” Pearl and Steven shared a collective gasp of shock from the gem’s words, glancing at each other momentarily with widened eyes and raised eyebrows. However, they didn’t interrupt, wanting Blue to continue her story. “They said I couldn’t visit White without authorization. When I told them I was there on behalf of my Diamond, they asked for proof.”

“I’ve never heard of that before,” despite their eagerness for Blue to finish her story, Yellow found aspects of these ‘quartzes’ confusing, and at the very least unheard of. “Everyone knows if we’re away from our Diamonds it’s because we were ordered to be. We don’t need ‘authorization’. Besides, why do they need to know for White Diamond?”

“Let her finish the story, Yellow.”

“You couldn’t even start telling us that you were running off and abandoning us, you’re the one to talk.”

Fuming with her cheeks a light teal, Pearl completely discarded the other’s insult to turn her head back towards the blue gem. “Blue, can you continue your story?”

Blue nodded. “When I told them I didn’t have any authorization,” she paused, the corner of her lips pulled into a frown. “I don’t remember, they must have poofed me.”

“I’ve never poofed before, what did it feel like?”

“It was scary. Really scary. It was like I was in a void,” Steven felt a sudden rush of sympathy for the gem as a visible shudder ran down her spine. “I felt so alone. I still do, where’s my Diamond?”

“She’s on Homeword. She knows where you are,” despite her former sternness against her yellow counterpart, Pearl spoke much more gently to Blue than she had before, and she even traveled up a few steps of the loft and leaned down slightly, establishing what he assumed was eye contact with the other pearl. “When the Sun Incinerator flies back to Homeworld to drop Yellow back later today, you’ll join her. It’ll just be for a few hours.”

“Oh stars,” the hands originally stationed against her thighs crawled back up to cup her cheeks, her anxiety from earlier returning, hard and fast. “I can’t do this! What am I supposed to do without my Diamond?!”

“Hey, it’s okay!” Steven completely discarded his attempts of entering the loft slowly, completely abandoned with the urge to destress and minimalize the situation at hand before Blue erupted into another panic attack. With a bit too much force, he wrapped his arms over the other figure, applying the same amount of pressure he knew the other gems embraced him with; enough to help calm his nerves. “It’s scary, but you can do it!”

“But I’ve never been without my Diamond!”

“Yellow and especially Pearl have, they can help you!” he pulled away from the embrace so he could tilt his head and glance at the gems in question. “I’m sure they won’t mind helping you!”

“Not at all, I was just the same when I first joined the Rebellion, I know exactly how scared you are right now.”  Pearl turned her glare to Yellow, expecting another snarky remark about her betrayal. However, it never came, and satisfied and surprised, she smiled. “If I can get myself through five thousand years, I can get you through five hours.”

 

Amusement park take two was a success, for the most part and so far, anyways.

When it was obvious that Blue would need some sort of distraction from her grieving, Steven had suggested that they try to amusement park again. Yellow had right away shut down the idea, though when her blue counterpart stared silently at her with an upsetting glare for ten seconds straight, she appeared to instantly change her mind.

Yellow was much better this attempt than earlier in the week; Steven hypothesized because the presence of Blue. She had even agreed to try a bite of pretzel, though of course spit out immediately.

“You’ve survived longer than three minutes this time, Canary,” the sun was just beginning to slip lower into the sky and by dusk, Blue and Yellow would be on their way back to Homeworld. With Amethyst’s playfully meaned statement, however, she narrowed her eyes, only inching herself closer to Blue.

“I even went on one of your ‘rides’, yet you still decide to mock me.”

“You both should go on one more ride, like a big finale!” Steven had already crossed out ‘The Looper’ as an option for either pearl as soon as even the aspect of going to Funland was brought to his mind. “You two should ride the Ferris Wheel!”

“’Ferris Wheel’?” Yellow raised an eyebrow, “You’ve taken a basic tool and turned it into your entertainment?”

“It’s not an actual wheel, you just have to see!” Yellow nearly screamed when Steven grabbed both of their hands, though neither struggled when he began to pull them along at an enthusiastic albeit slow pace, prompting the other gems to catch up with them.

“That’s what you call a ‘ride’?” The yellow gem’s expression contoured in confusion as her head lifted to observe the entirety of the ride in front of her. “A wheel that rotates?”

“It’s really pretty when you get to the top!” As the trio neared the base of the ride, Steven released his grip on the two pearls in order to shove his hand in his pocket, pulling out two crinkled tickets in his palm.  “Here, I’ll even let you use my tickets!”

Once they had pulled up to the entry ramp, he extended his hand out to the ticket master. “Two rides on the Ferris Wheel, please.”

“Are you not coming along with us?”

“No! It’s for you two!” Steven’s eyes instantly narrowed, a smug smirk pressing the corners of his lips. “Like a date. Come on!”

“A ‘date’?” Yellow had no time for a response, however, as she was pulled once more, this time towards one of the tiny carts suspended by the metal frame of the wheel. It was tiny, just enough for both pearls to fit inside. When they were comfortably seated inside of it, Steven pushed the iron hand bar down across their laps, and Blue visibly recoiled when the cart slightly rocked from the disturbance.

When Steven stepped back, Yellow pressed her hand against the outside metal. “So, this is it? What’s the fun of th-“She was immediately interrupted with two surprised shrieks as the entire frame suddenly jolted, and out of first instinct, the blue gem was suddenly pulled into Yellow’s firm grip, reimbursing it with her hands wrapping across her waist.

“Have fun you two!” Steven’s voice slowly dimmed as the carriage steadily rose with the frame as it revolved, and once the shock of the initial jolt faded, both pearls summoned the courage to look over the edge as the ground before them grew farther and farther away.

“This is useless,” Yellow rested her elbow against the lap bar, two fingers pressed against her cheek while the other hand traced circles around the rusty metal of the rod. “This is an anti-climatic ending to being introduced to human culture. What’s the point?”

“It’s pretty. I wish I could draw it,” Blue pressed her palms together, her head slightly crooked as she leaned in against her shoulder. “Look at how far we can look out the ocean, this planet really would’ve been full of sources for Homeworld.”

“Maybe,” Yellow hummed, her lips downturned in a tight frown. “I think its better when it’s not colonized, show sympathy for the humans, I pity them.”

“Your time here has rubbed off on you, you’re starting to sound like Pink’s.” Yellow sent a curious glance towards the other as she spoke, her eyes partially narrowed with offense.

“She’s not Pink’s anymore. If she just wants to be called ‘Pearl’, maybe we should respect that.”

Her words trailed off into an awkward silence, with both pearls leaning back into their seats. Rather than trying to resurrect the conversation and make things far more uncomfortable, she looked out over the cart, eyeing the sun as it slowly sunk closer to the horizon. They’d have to leave soon.

“Do you want to stay here with the Crystal Gems?”

Yellow gawked nearly right after the words left Blue’s mouth, lifting her head with a startled guise. “W-What?!”

“Would you stay here with the Crystal Gems if you had a choice to?” Blue’s words were void of any anger or question. They were simply words, and it chilled Yellow despite their simple meaning.

“No! That’s crazy! I can’t live without my Diamond,” in a struggle to defend herself, she cried out a bit too loud. Maybe the gems below could hear. “Why would you think that?!”

When nothing but silence responded, Yellow pressed hard against her thin lower lip with her teeth. Is that what she really thought? Where was she getting this? She breathed out appalled shudder, though her gaze did return to the sky rather than the other. She was suddenly thankful for the silence; now she needed it to think about Blue’s words.

“When will this thing start moving again?”

 

 

“Where is she?!”

 Looking under the table was useless, if she had been under there, she would’ve reported out to her Diamond’s orders the first time she had called them out. Despite this, Yellow let her rampage continue, taking slight amusement in Blue’s frenzy. “Calm down, Blue, she probably got lost on her way to White.”

“She never gets lost! She’s been there dozens of times!” Blue stopped her frantic searching, her hands running over her now messy strands as she released a frustrated sigh. “What if something happened to her?! What if she was shattered?!”

“As if anyone would shatter a diamond’s pearl,” Yellow rolled her eyes. “Now we’re both without a pearl, welcome to the club.”

“You both are still so belligerent,” from the screen opened against the surface of the worktop, White shook her head, lips parted in an amused simper. “You’re both so upset over something as simple as a pearl.”

“You don’t get to say anything White, your pearl is always with you!”

“I don’t even know if mine is alive!”

“I just got off of the communicator with ‘Steven’s’ pearl,” White now seemed disinterested, turning away from the monitor. “She said he found yours poofed. She’s safe with him now and will return along with Yellow’s. She even apologized for his mistake, how responsible is she? She learned from the best, after all.”

With a relieved exhale, Blue visibly relaxed, her shoulders sinking back and her hands falling down to the sides of her face. “Oh, thank the stars! I thought I had lost her!”

“How did she get poofed? I’ve never seen that happen in…forever! Why would someone do something as silly as attacking a diamond’s pearl?”

“It is strange,” White hummed, glancing at the quartz soldier standing at her own doorway. She acknowledged her with nothing but her own grin, and she reincorporated it back for just a moment before turning back to the broadcast. “But I can think of a reason.”

Chapter Text

“We’re finally back, we’re almost finally back,” Yellow pressed her face unimaginably closer against the ship’s window, now marked with the cloudy marks of her cheek pressed against the glass .

Both pearls had isolated themselves from the rest of the ship; the pink human and the group of flawed gems who thankfully respected their need for space, chatting among themselves. The second week without her Diamond had been easier than the first. However, when she turned to face her blue counterpart, she didn’t even think she’d ever seen her with a smile that wide, not to mention contagious.

“It feels as if it’s been forever since I’ve seen my Diamond, I’m so thankful we’re almost home,” soft words were accompanied with the gentle trembling of her narrow shoulders, and with realization Yellow suddenly remembered this was the first time she had ever been separated from her diamond. Just to show her condolences, she rested her hand against her shoulder. “It was nice to talk to Pink’s, again.”

“Her outfit looks so weird now,” collective laughter spilled from both pearls, with Blue temporarily forgetting her fading discomfort and dependence without her padrone. It was true, Yellow didn’t particularly like star atop of chest, but if ever given the chance to try on an outfit similar, she wouldn’t complain.

Words from earlier that day suddenly hit Yellow with a wave of confusion and, especially, dread.

Did Blue really think she wanted to betray Homeworld? How had she come up with this realization? It had to be the remark about Pearl and only that. She pulled herself away from the window, her eyes focusing now on the expanse of land growing closer and closer rather than the figure next to her as she tried to organize her thoughts. ‘Steven’s’ observations about her enjoying being on Earth more did not help.

The familiar rumbling of the ship steadily making landfall broke her form her thoughts, thankfully. As soon as she was reunited with her Diamond and assigned usual duties, she wouldn’t have any free time to think about her thoughts about two entire people thinking she was an empire-betraying gem.

Both Blue and Yellow turned their heads when the door of the ship slid open, only to be greeted by two amethyst guards.

“We have been assigned to escort you back to Blue and Yellow Diamond.”

“Well, this is where we part ways,” for the first time in nearly an hour, Blue and Yellow turned their attention to the pink human, ‘Lars’. “We can’t wait for the next time we meet.”

Yellow felt her bottom lip tremble and using all of her strength to hold back an unflattered scoff, she turned once more, following the amethysts out of the ship. By the gentle padding of feet against the smooth surface of the ship’s flooring, she could tell that Blue was right behind her. Without her Diamond by her side, Blue had decided to nearly attach to Yellow’s side.

The walk back along the ship dock and to the warp pad was unusual for her; often in her Diamond’s presence, she was used to gems stopping to look in her direction. Barely any of the gems they passed through the pink hallways stopped to cast a glance her way, and when they did, it was almost immediately when they pulled away with disinterest. Yellow frowned, though she was quick to push her decapitating thoughts out of her mind. Of course, no one would cast a second glance at her, she was a common low class novelty, and without the presence of her Diamond there was no reason for someone to take interest besides a newly formed ruby or an easily impressed quartz.

Once the light of the warp pad faded, Yellow was convinced she was about to be shattered when they were immediately met with intense vibrations and a loud exclamation of “Pearl!”. Just as soon as she deflected off of the warp pad’s surface, she caught the glimpse of Blue Diamond crouching right next to the marble, with an equally ecstatic Blue Pearl racing into her outstretched hands.

“Oh, my pearl!” Yellow watched with amusement as the thin figure collapsed into the larger’s palms and had to contain a laugh when she almost completely disappeared as Blue Diamond pulled her hands against her chest. Tears were starting to spark at her eyes, and Yellow knew she had to prepare to wipe tear after tear from her own cheek very soon. “I missed you so much! You must’ve been beyond frightened!”

“I was! I was so lost without your presence!” Blue’s loud voice was barely more than a whisper for others, though it was a voice she rarely used, which made everything about tent times more important when it did make an appearance. “I’m so glad to be back!”

“Pearl, welcome back,” Yellow’s own attention was drawn as she suddenly realized the presence of her own diamond, glancing down at her with crossed arms and her lips drawn in a neutral line.

“My Diamond,” she was quick to fix her posture, including the diamond that was formed with thin arms over her chest, even with her voice coming out much softer than he had liked. “I am glad to be back in your presence.”

“We have lots of work to do,” the taller figure hummed, and Yellow watched in slight uncertainty and even uneasiness as she turned, with nothing more than a wave of farewell to the two still sobbing and babbling words of comfort to each other.

 

Yellow was thankful for the silence in the throne room, there was so much work to catch up on, and with the thoughts already causing turmoil in her mind, it was better if no one spoke at all.

Tapping furiously against the summoned, translucent screen in front of her, Yellow struggled to keep up with the onslaught of report after report that were waiting to be written and archived.

‘Colony 5K2 on Planet CORBOS 2X59 has been 59% completed.’

‘Amethysts 4X9L Cut 5A9 through 7X6 have emerged and have been sent to faulty screening.’

Why did Yellow Diamond’s pearl have to keep record of these miniscule things? Surely the commander on each of these colonies could keep track of these things and then send them to her; then all she’d need to do was organize and file them. She was working for a diamond, she should be only recording huge things such as transcripts for trial cases and completely completed colonies!

Maybe she was being too critical; Yellow Diamond deserved to know every single update about every single thing going on in her empire. But did she even check these types of things?

She let out a silent sigh. She had been doing this for thousands and thousand of years, why was she just now getting irritated at this?

Blue had to do these types of things, just like White -maybe- had to, and just like Pink did.

She scoffed internally to herself. Maybe she had joined Pink Diamond’s rebellion merely out of boredom. 

Why was she thinking about this? The past week she had been contemplating Pink’s decision to betray Homeworld much often than usual, and rather than feeling betray, she had felt interest.

She gasped in horror; was this what Blue was talking about? Were these thoughts the reason why Blue was questioning her stance on the Crystal Gems? She needed to talk to Blue, but she knew of no specific time their diamonds would be meeting again. She just couldn’t wait though.

A risky idea suddenly popped into her mind. Blue was no doubt back to her duties just as she was. She could be at her diamond’s communicator just as she was as well. However, if she wasn’t and a snooping Agate or even Blue Diamond received the message herself, she’d be in big trouble.

She knew there was a line between all of the diamond’s communicators, however she only used them solely when ordered to. She’d never even fathom of using the diamond’s personal arsenal without command, however she had also never imagined she’d not sneer at Pink at every conversation, so that was something new as well.

She glanced to her left, and then to her right. The large throne was facing towards the wall, and there was no other gem in the room. With an anticipated breath, the chat log was opened onto the screen, and she triple checked that it was one with just Blue and not White. If White figured out about this, she might as well would be shattered.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: Blue?

Yellow sucked in a breath as she waited for a response. As if Blue Diamond would be using the communicator instead of her pearl; that was one of her responsibilities. Even if it were an unsolicited agate or amethyst, she could lie her way out of it if they reported her; Yellow Diamond would believe her own pearl rather than a rowdy quartz trying to cause trouble.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: I will inform my diamond that Yellow Diamond requests her presence.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: NO!

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: DON’T TELL BLUE DIAMOND ABOUT THIS!

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: This is for you, Blue.

There were a few moments pause.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: Is this authorized by Yellow Diamond?

Of course if she responded with ‘no’, Blue’s thoughts about her might turn far worse. But if she said yes and let Blue discover she was lying with the context of their conversation, that would make things worse. Either way, there was a possibility that Blue would report this conversation to her own Diamond. She wouldn’t do that, would she?

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: No, but it’s very important. It’s also very important that no one knows about this.

She stopped her breath in anticipation as she waited for a response.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: As soon as this conversation is over, we can wipe out the memory logs. What do you need?

She sighed in relief. However, she didn’t know how long the relief would last when the topic of the conversation was brought up.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: Do you remember on the ‘Ferris Wheel’? When you asked me if I wanted to stay on Earth with the Crystal Gems?

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: What about it?

How could Blue be so calm? She had accused her of espionage, though she was responding as if they were talking about something as simple as the most recent Diamond Meeting!

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: Why did you say that? Was it something that I did or something that I said? Why would you believe such a thing?

She didn’t know how to go about this situation; this entire conversation was based off her pure impulsiveness. Blue’s response was something she didn’t even know if she wanted to read. She could wipe out the memory log right now and act as if this conversation didn’t happen. It wasn’t too late-

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: Because you seemed like you were enjoying the accompany of the Crystal Gems. The way you regarded Pearl with more than an ounce of respect also caught my eye. You were talking with the Lapis Lazuli a lot. You even have your own nickname- what does ‘Canary’ even mean?

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I was just trying to make the most out of a horrible situation, it doesn’t mean that I wanted to be there. Blue, how could you think that? I love serving my Diamond. Even if I didn’t, it’s what I was created to do!

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: I was there too. You seem to be liking Earth more and more.

What? Did Blue genuinely think that low of her?

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: Is that really what you think of me?! As a

 “Pearl?”

A stern voice from her left prompted her to quickly shut the screen, exiting the conversation and wiping off the log. She flipped her body from where the call had come from, thankful that her Diamond was still facing the opposite way. “Yes, my Diamond?”

Had she somehow figured out about their conversation? Silently, Yellow prepared herself for the confrontation and the inevitable punishment that would follow.

“I have a message I need you to deliver to White Diamond.”

Relief flooded her system; she was still in the clear. “Of course, my Diamond, I will contact her right away.”

“This message is different, what I need to send her is in Era One transcript,” the larger woman’s words sparked even more curiosity. It had been thousands of years since she had even heard a mention of any Era One devices or transcripts. “I need you to deliver it to her physically.”

That was good. She could use the walk to White Diamond’s throne room as a way to think more about her and Blue’s conversation. She could try to understand Blue’s words more, and when she got back, she would be refreshed.

“Yes, my Diamond,” When she got back, she’d have no more of these terrifying, intrusive thoughts. She’s be free from even thinking about the aspect of betraying her empire. She’d go back to her old life; free of confusion, free of betraying words in her mind, and free of crisis.

This is what she needed.

 

 

“She’s just so… bubbly.”

There was so much wrong with Pink’s pearl that she could pinpoint right away. She seemed to completely disregard respect for her diamond. She walked right beside her, talked without being talked to. And the worst part was that Pink Diamond didn’t seem to mind at all.

“She’s such a bad influence on Pink, how has she not been shattered by now?” Blue’s words were hushed; lined up right besides the door, they were careful to keep their voices quiet as their respective diamonds continued with their conversation over the large table that consisted most of the room’s space. “She isn’t even with us, she’s standing right next to Pink Diamond. Even while they’re meeting!”

“You two shouldn’t be talking at all,” the monotone voice from their right paused their conversation momentarily. Yellow wasn’t surprised from White’s words; she was the only one more stern and well kept than herself and Blue, they both had admitted that. Though neither could blame her, if they served under White, they’d be just the same.

“Our Diamonds said we could catch up if we did it quietly, we’re not to blame that your diamond never told you that,” Yellow’s gaze moved from the slim figure back to Blue, the smile on her lips only heightened. “Pink should be more like White. But then again having two Whites would be so much worse than having two Pinks!”

“I can hear you still.” White rolled her eyes, though she seemed to be much more interested about what was happening with the conversation the Diamonds were having than the other pearls next to her. Yellow had to admit, she was, too; Pink seemed to be angry with something, holding her pearl close against her body.

“We know that, and again, we don’t care,” maybe she was being too harsh, after all White’s personality was all due to her diamond. “You can join our conversation if you want. No one is forcing you to snoop and criticize us.”

“I can’t join your conversation unless my Diamond allows me to do so, and she hasn’t,” White tilted her head to face the two figures next to her, though just like usual, her eyes were nothing but emotionless, just the same with her words. Yellow shuddered; it wouldn’t hurt her to show just some sort of feeling every now and then.

Yellow scoffed in response. “Weirdo.”

 

Yellow’s walk was not as peaceful as she thought it would be. Suddenly remembering Blue’s ordeal from earlier, anxiety was starting to pulse through her body again. However, despite her worry, she was glad there was a new anxiety to replace the one regarding her thoughts and what Blue made of her.

She glanced down to the sheet in her arms, tracing her thumb against the light indentions etched into its surface. Homeworld really had evolved its technology throughout the centuries. Much more than what they had on Earth.

‘But then again, they get to use the technology they have on Earth as they wish.’

She was thankful that there was no one around in the empty hall she was traveling down- it would’ve been strange to see someone suddenly slap themselves out of nowhere.

When her own palm met her cheek right after the thought, she realized she had used far more force than expected, sending her stumbling backwards and nearly dropping the ancient sheet.

She squealed in surprise when strong hands pressed against her shoulders and she fell into a taller body. She was about to strike back to whoever had appeared so suddenly, though nearly as soon as arms pulled over her shoulders they disappeared, sending her spiraling back to the ground.

“What is this?” The palms of her hands landed far too hard against the floor, though she rather would’ve landed on her hands than on her stomach and chest. That would’ve been much worse. Turning her body back away from the floor and rolling onto her back side, she was more than surprised to find two rose quartzes towering over her, the message for White Diamond in the first one’s hands.

“That’s-“ before she finished her sentence, she paused to bring herself off from the pristine floor, and even though she hadn’t landed on it, she still cupped her gemstone carefully in her hands just to double check for any grit that could’ve gotten on it during her fall. “That’s a message for White Diamond sent from Yellow Diamond. I do not need authorization, and if you try to attack me for not having said verification, know you’ll be punished severely by Yellow Diamond herself.”

The second quartz, visibly far shorter than the other, merely reprehensibly chuckled in response. “It looks like you learned from the last one that came over here.  But you still don’t have the authorization we need.”

The shorter woman marched forward, and right as soon as Yellow thought she was about to follow in Blue’s footsteps, preparing herself for inevitable poofing, the taller quartz pulled her arm out, shielding her from the other gem.

“I don’t know, this does look genuine this time, look Tiny,” seemingly intrigued, the gem pulled the script from her chest, allowing the other, ‘Tiny’, to observe it as well. “It’s from Era One!”

“It’s far too ancient to be able to send over communicators, so I was order by Yellow Diamond to deliver it myself,” when Yellow attempted to snatch the sheet from the other’s grip, she was met with another firm hand wrapping around her thin wrist. “My Diamond won’t be pleased if I’m late to deliver it.”

“I don’t think we can argue with that, Chief,” Tiny glanced at the taller quartz, though the grip across her wrist only increased in strength. If she was a human, her wrist would be way past the bruising point. “We should escort her to White Diamond so she can go along with her business.”

 

 

“You can’t be serious, White!”

Pink was absolutely insane, both Blue and Yellow knew simply talking with her about this could get all three of them shattered. How had she gone from being the most disciplined gem she had ever known to an empire betraying rebel with such a horrible plan?

“It was the only way to save earth, you two!” Pink paced around the tiny room as much as she could, her infamous duel swords still attached to her sides. This was the first time Yellow had seen her renegade outfit so up close, and she knew that now, it would most likely be the last time she’d see her so up close period. “Trust me, I was just as terrified when she first threw the idea!”

“We know too many things, White, you keep on telling us too much!” Stress that had leisurely been placed on her shoulders began to grow too much of a burden, and no matter how much she loved her, she just wanted to throw it all back at her. “Why did you ever tell us Rose was just Pink’s persona?! And now you’ve gone and faked her shattering?!”

“Pink Diamond and I want to save Earth, is that so bad?!”

“When it’s against your own empire, yes! What’s going to happen now that we can’t see you at Diamond Meetings anymore? First we lost Pink and now we’re going to lose you?”

“You won’t lose me if you come back with me.”

White’s words evoked a flabbergasted gasp from the yellow gem. “Are you kidding? Join you? Are you really that empty minded?”

“Come on!” White unbelievably unsheathed one of her swords, and even if it was facing downwards, she still recoiled back when it was urged towards her. “You’ll like it, I can teach you how to fight, or you can do whatever you want!”

“You may be defective, but we aren’t,” her words may have been far too harsh, made clear with the aghast and pained frown that White suddenly donned on her features. “We actually know what we were made for and can handle that. We have no intent or interest in joining you! We just want what’s best for you!”

Yellow was quick to regret her words, it wasn’t usual when White was suddenly thrown into silence, a betrayed expression that had suddenly made itself apparent. However, words couldn’t help but fall from her lips; she had been keeping back her real feelings for longer than what was healthy, and with the opportunity to let them out, she was gladly accepting it. “Oh please! Don’t act so betrayed! As if Blue and I were the ones that asked you to deceive us and the rest of Homeworld!”

White was about to respond, though almost robotically her hands clasped over her mouth, and Yellow maliciously took amusement with how she struggled to pull them away. She turned to Blue, who had yet to speak at all.

“You have to understand how we feel, White,” perhaps a more gentle conversation would work. She forgot her own horror for the weapon to sympathetically place a hand against the other’s shoulder. “We’re okay with our life right now, and you have to understand we’re going to feel horrible that we’re not going to be able to see you as Pink’s anymore. It’s a change.”

White’s expression was neutral for a moment, as if she were actually considering her words. However, Yellow watched with dread as the hand was shooed off her shoulder, and Yellow barely had time to throw herself back before White outstretched her sword, placing it back in its original place against her hip.

“It’s not White anymore. It’s just ‘Pearl’ now.”

“White, you are insane,” Blue’s first words shocked both Yellow and White, both whipping around to face the most soft spoken of the trio. “Pink is now gone and replaced with Rose Quartz. Homeworld is enraged with her and won’t be afraid to unleash their greatest powers. Do you think you can really stand a chance against that?”

“I-“

“It’s a couple of thousand Crystal Gems against over a hundred thousand gems, much less zero versus three Diamonds,” Blue lifted her hand to brush away strands around her face, and joining the measle amount of times she had seen it, a single eye was revealed, glaring coldly at the pale gem. “If you stay with the Crystal Gems, you will die.”

Tears were beginning to well at the corners of White’s eyes, though it was obvious she was trying to keep her stature. “If that’s what it takes to keep Earth away from Homeworld’s clutches, that’s what I’ll sacrifice.”

Blue and Yellow could only watch in horror as White pressed her palm against her cheek, wiping away the tear that had begun its journey down her face. She turned to face the two with a sunken, almost tired, guise, and the next set of tears that threatened to spill over her cheeks she didn’t try wipe away.

“Remember, you can’t tell anyone about anything. I depend on it.”

 

“White Diamond, you have a guest.”

By the time Yellow had been escorted to the diamond’s throne room, her arm had lost its feeling due to the hand still wrapped around it. She never got the script back either, the large quartz, ‘Chief’ seemed entangled in its writing the entire way there.

Despite being a diamond, a gem she was supposed to show unrefined respect and love for, when the large gem glanced down at her emotionlessly, Yellow had to refrain a shudder.

“Ah, yes, Yellow told me I should be expecting you to come by with the Era One reports about Pink’s planet,” White rose her hand from where it originally lay against the arm rest, a smile slowly forming on her lips. “I just needed to see if any of the mineral percentages have changed since we last had our eyes on the planet.”

Yellow narrowed her eyes as her pearl approached the quartz with the script in her hands. She crooked her head to the side to try to provoke some sort of reaction out of her- she’d take anything, a glance, a soft smile, and even an expression of disgust. It had been centuries since she last saw her with anything but a blank, empty smile. She knew in the past she had teased her, but right now, she would rather have the bubble, cheerful and immature Pink back than the drained robot that had replaced her.

“You’ve been spending some time on Earth, haven’t you?”

The diamond prompted Yellow to jerk her head up in surprise with immediate regret as she was met with a fascinated gaze. It didn’t seem malicious in anyway, though it still uneased her to no end.

“Unfortunately, I have, my Diamond.”

“Unfortunately? You don’t like it?”

“N-no,” Yellow was relieved when the hand on her wrist finally pulled away. “I didn’t like it. I felt very lost without my Diamond with me, and the Crystal Gems were far too…rowdy for my liking.”

“Ah, of course, I forgot,” White seemed satisfied from the explanation, leaning down momentarily to pick up the sheet of writing from the gem at the foot of her throne. “I didn’t even think about that. I could only imagine how lost you felt.”

“I felt very lost, my Diamond.”

“I’d never even think about sending her to Earth without my supervision, I think she’d crack,” a single finger came to rest atop of her pearl’s chin, and Yellow wanted to say something, something among the lines of ‘but she’s already cracked’, but she stayed silent with her better judgment. “I hope your feelings aren’t hurt that we keep on sending you.”

“Not at all, my Diamond.”

“’Steven’ always seems to enjoy your company,” Yellow subconsciously perked at her words, though she didn’t visibly show any of her interest. “I just think ‘he’ likes when you act on your own, though I can imagine that’s very difficult for you.”

“Difficult and horrifying.”

“I’ll take that into consideration for when we have to send someone again, thank you for delivering this message to me,” she turned to the rose quartzes still standing at her side. “Escort her out of my hallways, and, please Tiny, don’t poof another pearl.”

“Yes, White Diamond!” Nearly in union, two hands once more found themselves atop her shoulders, this time gently shooing her towards the door they had entered through.

It wasn’t the smoothest transaction with White Diamond she had ever seen, but it was without much trouble, much less than when Blue had delivered a message to the diamond. She let out a sigh of relief for what seemed like the hundredth time that half cycle, and for once, she didn’t mind the quartzes that were pushing her along a bit too roughly now that they were out of White Diamond’s eyeshot.

She was suddenly pushed away from the quartzes, nearly toppling over again. When she turned, the quartzes were already facing away, making their way back to White Diamond’s throne room.

Now, without a distraction, Yellow once again fell victim to her thoughts.

Why had she felt so horrible when she spoke so badly of Earth? Everything she said was true! She had been scared out of her mind without Yellow Diamond with her on Earth, and the Crystal Gems were nothing but confusing with the lifestyle they led.

But it was also exhilarating. Yellow turned around the corner with a frown on her lips. She liked the uncertainty of the day. She liked being able to choose when and who she spoke to. She liked observing the relationships between the amethyst and the sapphire and the lapis and peridot and how it seemed equal. She liked it, and she longed to be a part of it.

She had blindly not questioned the ethics of Homeworld and the life she lived in the empire for thousands and thousands of years, there was a chance that this way of thinking was a phase.

But it didn’t seem like a phase, it felt much larger. It was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. The aspect of a more exciting and fulfilling life seemed like a dream to her now rather than a nightmare. At the same time, she knew it would be hard to adjust to an independent life without her diamond.

Would all of this become nothing but a hope? The trade Homeworld had with the Crystal Gems was fragile, and she knew that a single slip up from either side could spark another entire battle. Even if there wasn’t a trade, how would she get to Earth? She was unauthorized to fly a ship or escape pod anywhere, and she couldn’t exactly ask Yellow Diamond if she could just betray Homeworld and leave her role in the empire. They may be loosening the rules for Pink Diamond, but everyone else was still expected to fulfill their duties etched in stone since before they first emerged.

The walk to White Diamond’s was supposed to clear her head, but finally stepping back into Yellow Diamond’s throne room, it only seemed to muddle her thoughts even more.

“Welcome back, pearl,” Yellow Diamond’s voice, for the thousands of years she was alive, used to fill her with undying love and respect with every word she spoke. Now, however, it overwhelmed her with confusion and dread. “You may return to your next duties.”

“Yes, my Diamond,” Yellow was thankful to return to the monitor, still exactly the same since before she had been interrupted. When she was sure Yellow Diamond wasn’t looking, she returned back to the now empty chat log.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: Are you still here?

Anticipation filled her body as she waited for a reply. Maybe Blue had been assigned to a different duty as well.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: Yes. What were you going to say earlier?

What was she going to say? How was she going to say it? She typed the words out onto the screen, and she had to take a moment to stare at them in shock, the first time she had summoned her thoughts into actual words.  There was one final moment of contemplation and double, then triple checking the sentence before she sighed, watching as the terms appeared on screen.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I don’t want to be on Homeworld anymore.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I want to be on Earth with the Crystal Gems.

How would this turn out? How would Blue react? Would it be like when White-Pink…Pearl left them? She had at least warned Blue before she was leaving. She didn’t even know if she could leave. Blue had a right to be upset with her, angry, something she was still worrying about, but she had still yet to say she was actually going to betray Homeworld. Maybe Blue hadn’t seen her message yet, maybe she could wipe the memory log before-

Blue’s response made her jaw drop.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: I do, too.

 

“Excellent job, my quartzes,” White Diamond had to admit, she had had her worries about training the rose quartzes as her personal guards at first. They had been isolated from society for thousands of years, it would take intensive training to be able to ease them back.

Their progress had been exceptional, she didn’t have to supervise them anymore. The only reason why she had these two, Tiny and Chief, with her was because they were excellent guards, even if there was still the occasional problem.

“Thank you, White Diamond,” in union, both quartzes almost immediately bent their arms, forming the diamond insignia across their chests. “We appreciate your approval!”

She had done it again, and while she wasn’t surprised by any means, she was certainly pleased. She took otherwise wasteful gems and turned them into something full of use. She knew that once Pink’s colony was fully completed, she’d have to give a few of them up, but even if she could only keep a handful of them she’d still be satisfied.

“Thank you, Tiny, for not poofing her this time,” she had nearly broken down in laughter when Tiny and Chief had barged back into her throne room, frantically explaining how they had accidently poofed Blue’s pearl and tried returning her gem to Blue Diamond themselves. However, getting lost on the way and somehow ending up in Pink Diamond’s ship dock, they had abandoned the gem and fled back as soon as they found their direction again. Maybe she should grant them with a map.

“You’re welcome,” comically, the shorter of the quartzes bowed, nearly fumbling over with the undistributed weight of her body being shifted to a single side. However, she was quick to recover, the grin on full lips never leaving. “I almost did, but Chief stopped me before I did!”

“That’s certainly alright,” White chuckled, “You’re not completely done with your training yet, though let me say. I’m incredibly impressed with both of your two’s progress. You two are the best of the bunch, which is why I’ve assigned you to be my personal guards.”

“Thank you, White Diamond,” Chief had been an automatic liking for White; she was a natural leader that wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Sure, her impulsiveness had led her to capture Pink Diamond and cause quite a stir up right after she was released from a thousand-year prison, but it was a determination that White admired. Of course, she’d have to rewire her determination so it would help Homeworld rather that spark rebellion against it, though she was already far down that path. It wouldn’t be long before she could go on her missions on her own.

Her smile faded when she summoned a screen once more into the palm of her hand, her second rising to cup her chin. She didn’t particularly care when someone underestimated her power; that was their problem, not hers. They’d face the consequences soon enough.

However, it was riveting and even duff to her when gems underestimated what she had access to. She knew what was going on everywhere; from every room on Homeworld, to everything her fellow Diamonds said to every chat log opened in Homeworld’s premise.

She swiped the screen to the next monitor.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I don’t want to be on Homeworld anymore.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I want to be on Earth with the Crystal Gems.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: I do, too.

The display was dissolved, a frown twitching at her lips.

It seemed as if Yellow’s pearl had lied to her earlier.

“Chief,” Her words were audibly a bit sunken, though whether or not this was apparent to the rose quartzes was not known.

“Yes, my Diamond?”

“Schedule an appointment with Blue and Yellow Diamond,” she sighed, resting her cheek against her open palm. “I have to inform them of some news they’re definitely going to want to hear.”

Chapter Text

If anything, all Steven wanted was three hours of sleep. He would take anything less and anything more.

When the trade had first started, he was excited; Pearl would be able to ease her nostalgia and return to familiar sights of Homeworld, and he’d be able to immerse himself in a culture that he had only seen the beginnings of in his fourteen years of life.

Now, eight weeks into it all, it felt like a chore. Rather than spending the first night home with his family dumping about their time on Homeworld, he went straight to bed and sometimes didn’t wake up until just before noon.

All of the gems could see it, too. Throughout the two months of the trade, they watched the transformation of excitement and wonder to dread and exhaustion. They couldn’t even talk about Homeworld without the boy nearly breaking into tears, especially when he came back up from his second week on his own planet.

Garnet was at the kitchen when Steven woke up the next morning, clumsily making his way down the stairs as he brought his hands up to his eyes and rubbing away the last of the sleepiness from him system. “Good morning, Steven.”

“Morning’,” Steven’s voice was drawled still, his steps still inconsistent as he finally approached the tall gem, encasing a warm, half hearted hug around her thigh. “How did you sleep?”

“You know I didn’t sleep last night,” Garnet’s smile was barely visible as she brought a hand to his hair to ruffle his mass of curls. “But I can ask you how you slept.”

“I slept as alright as I can besides a bad dream,” his hand cupped over his lips as he paused his words to yawn, pulling away from Garnet and making his way to the fridge. “I actually managed to change out of my costume before I went to sleep last night.”

“Tell me how your week was and what you two did.”

“Well, we did more preparation for the planet, of course,” Steven peaked further into the fridge, peering the way backs of each shelves. “Cadet, Magnificent and Cheeky, those lapis lazulis I told you about, showed us really cool tricks with the bucket of water Pearl had in her gem! Yellow Diamond said that the next week we’re there the first gems are going to emerge! Do we have any coffee?”

“Coffee..” In all of the years Steven had been able to eat and drink, she’d never heard of Steven wanting or needing coffee. But then again, he never had to travel across the galaxy every other week.

“Coffee! Caffiene, sugar, anything really,” the shorter of the two finally closed the fridge. “If not, I can just go to the Big Donut and get a drink there later.”

“You might want to do that.”

“That’s okay, I need to eat something first,” in between his words, a yawn escaped his lips, his hand returning to his mouth to cover. Pearl had taught his manners well. “I didn’t even get to see who you guys were with for the week! Was it Canary?”

“No, unfortunately,” Garnet frowned. “We got Holly. She said that due to ‘immediate events’ Yellow couldn’t come to Earth this time.”

“Maybe she can come next week. Or Blue again!” Steven, much to Pearl’s disappointment and Amethyst’s amusement, still felt no remorse for ‘stealing’ a pearl. Technically, he told himself, he did it for her safety. And besides, Yellow and Blue did get a date together. Maybe White would let both of them stay next week.

“Possibly,” the boy’s enthusiasm prompted Garnet’s lips to pull into the tiniest smile. Then, she paused. “Tell me how you’re doing.”

“Now I feel less tired,” he brought his hand down from his mess of curls, instead leaving them hanging at his sides. Once his conversation with Garnet was done, he wanted to take a shower. Showers on Homeworld was NOT the same as they were in his own bathroom.

“Not like that,” Garnet’s correction evoked him to raise an eyebrow. “I mean, tell me how you’re feeling. Tell me about how everything is making you feel.”

During his time on Homeworld, his own comfort was locked in the back of his mind. When he was on Homeworld, he wasn’t Steven.

He was Pink Diamond.

“I’m getting really tired,” he finally admitted with a sigh. Despite his positive thinking, he was beginning to grow more and more tired with each week that passed. “Tired of this all. Pearl said she always wanted to take me across the galaxy some day, and she is. But we’re both getting so fed up with everything!

“I don’t want to Pink Diamond, I want Mom to be Pink Diamond! Why do I have to pay for her responsibilities? I didn’t even know mom had these responsibilities until not even five months ago! I just want to live as Steven, I want to travel space when I want to. But if I don’t stop, White Diamond is going will take Earth away. She’ll take you guys away.”

“Come here, Steven,” crouching down, Garnet outreached he arms for Steven to engulf himself in, wrapping his arms around her waist. Comfort eased into him when strong hands found themselves resting against his back. “Everything is difficult for all of us, right now. Especially you. We’re going to find a way to make things easier with time. For now, we’re going to keep on staying strong.”

Garnet pulled away to cup a hand over his cheek. “You’re going to keep on staying strong.”

She paused. “If it makes you feel better, we have a mission today. All four of us.”

Steven gasped. “Really?”

 

 

“This is just like before!” Mission starved since before the deal, there was no hesitation for Steven to tag along with the gems on their mission. He loved all of his family but having it be just the four of them really felt like all times. “This brings me back.”

“Back before all of this Homeworld trying to get us and Pink Diamond business,” Amethyst’s languid sigh followed a noise of surprise as her foot snagged in another root, tucking her heel against the ground.

The corrupted gem Garnet had sensed was somewhere deep inside this forest, littered with endless brush and roots and endless places to get stuck in. For Garnet and Pearl, that wasn’t a big deal, but for the shorter of the four, defeating the gem monster would have its difficulties.

“Correction, back before Pink Diamond for most of us,” rather than malicious, the thin gem’s words were teasing, and even if he was still right behind Garnet, his arms wrapped loosely over her thigh, he could practically hear the smile in her voice. “It is nice, though. These missions are much better than the ones we’ve bene having currently.”

“Currently? I think you mean forever!” For emphasis, Amethyst threw her head back dramatically, the free hand not clasped over her whip resting atop her forehead. “After Peridot first came to Earth, we’ve been fighting Homeworld gems since! And now we ARE the Homeworld gems!”

“Amethyst, we’re still the Crystal Gems.”

“Well, Garnet and I are,” Amethyst whipped around as she spoke, even if it wouldn’t be long before she tripped over another root. “But you two? Man, you two are practically Homeworld now!”

Even though her words didn’t mean to mean or discriminating, the mood was obviously spoiled.

“Well, you’re still literally Crystal Gems. It was a joke, anyways.”

The rest of the walk resumed in awkward and tense silence. Steven knew Amethyst was joking, but it still made him think. It was true, technically he did have to be a Homeworld gem every other week. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t a Crystal Gem, right? He wasn’t any less Crystal Gem than the others! His mom had been the leader of the Crystal Gems, too!

A distraction thankfully broke him from his thoughts, a shrieking cry from deeper inside the forest. Immediately, tense from the silence was wiped away, instead replaced with adrenaline.

“Gems, let’s go!” Steven felt a strong hand pull up against his shirt, lifting him into the air. Confusion filtered through him at first, before he was dropped onto the top of Garnet’s head, and Steven wasted no time burying his hands into her thick mess of curls. After all, it would be faster this way rather than having to stop and free himself from the roots every few seconds.

The leaves and the trees around him appeared and left his vision quickly as the gems raced through the thick arrays of trees and brush, prompting Steven to only tighten his grip.

Eventually, the gems arrived in a clearing, and once they all halted to a stop, everyone was silent as they listened intently for the gem monster again.

Nothing. There was nothing besides the quiet rustling of the trees and the soft trickling of water nearby. It was a pretty area, especially with the sunlight filtering through the leaves and creating beautiful, golden patterns against the grass. When they weren’t in a mission, they’d have to come back some day and enjoy the beauty of it.

Another abrupt crash prompted all four to whip their heads around, where a larger dust of brush had been torn down. With one more sound, one claw gripped through the thick thorns, and then another claw. And then, the entire monster revealed itself; it resembled the monster he and Peridot had battled in the Beta kindergarten. However, this one had much sharper teeth.

The monster didn’t appear to notice them for a minute, merely observing the scenery with confusion. However, it was clear when it began to presence the other gems in the clearing. Low growling replaced the peaceful silence, and Steven watched as Garnet lifted her fists, ready to form her gauntlets.

“Crystal Gems,” Steven was slipped from the top of the fusion’s head, miraculously landing on his feet. “Move out!”

Even after fourteen years, it was still amazing for Steven how the gems seemed to be almost in sync with each other as they moved in battle. Between Amethyst’s indirect attacks, Pearl’s graceful strides and Garnet’s confident strikes, usually, corrupted gems never stood a chance.

Amethyst’s whip gave a frightening crack as the barbs along the rope hit directly across the corrupted gem’s side, sending it spiraling to its left as it attempted to regain balance.

“Nice job, Amethyst!” Pearl’s praise, even in midst of battle, was met with Amethyst’s flustered cheeks, though she was quick to snap the whip again, leaving it spiraling away from the corrupted gem and giving the other access to strike next. Pearl charged, the tip of the spear resting directly under her arm, and with characteristic precision, the blade of her spear prepared to snag at the corrupted gem’s back.

Instantly, however, the monster whipped around, throwing Pearl’s plan off track, her spear sheathed directly into the center of the monster’s gemstone. In a panicked attempt to avoid completely shattering the gem, the thin gem threw her spear clumsily against the ground, her own body crashing into the corrupted gem and sending her spiraling into the dirty ground.

“Pearl, are you okay?!” Steven’s cry was not met with words, rather with Pearl pushing herself back onto her knees, a quick and hasty thumbs up for reassurance as she leapt into the air again, right before the corrupted gem could pounce again.

“I’d appreciate if you’d help me, Amethyst!” With her discarded spear fading into thin air, a new one was summoned, pressed against the palms of her hands as she sent a second glare towards her purple teammate.

“I’m working on it, give me some slack!” Amethyst threw her whip back again, however when she tried pulling it down to lash it against the creature, she realized with momentary confusion that her arm wouldn’t fall. She swiveled her body around, effectively tangled against the painful barbs of her rope, only to discover the end of her whip trapped along one of the many expanses of sharp thorns and roots.

“Watch out, Amethyst!” Despite being a part of the Crystal Gems, he still didn’t rush forward into battle. Garnet had gauntlets, Pearl had a spear, and Amethyst had a whip. He was the only one with a shield, a protective bubble and healing spit-it made sense to him for his role to be in the side views, and to rush in with protection for his caretakers if needed. He bent his knees, prepared to rush to the aid of the purple gem.

However, before he could race to her side, a warm hand pressed to his shoulder, prompting him to glance up at the fusion with an intent stare, waiting for her words. “This corrupted gem is much more difficult than I predicted,” Garnet craned her head so she could face Steven directly. “We trust you completely, but this might be too dangerous for any organic being.”

“Garnet!” Steven’s angered cry followed another crash from the clearing, where Pearl was busy trying to simultaneously free now completely entangled Amethyst from the barbs and keeping the corrupted gem at an alright distance. “But what if you need a shield!”

“We won’t need a shield; we just need force. It’s going to get way too dangerous for you with the gem and the environment we’re facing.”

He knew Garnet was right, even if he didn’t want to admit it. He was a Crystal Gem, but he sure as the stars knew he would never be able to survive a six-hundred-pound tree falling on his stomach. He didn’t even want to think about the idea of the corrupted gem and its sharp teeth, sinking its fangs into his-

“You know the way back to the warp pad, Steven. We’ll meet you back at the temple.” Garnet didn’t wait for any reply or disagreement. Her gauntlets were summoned, and she rushed into the battle. Steven glanced at the scene in front of him, with Garnet aiding her teammates in keeping the corrupted monster at a distance away as they continued to aid Amethyst out of the thorns.

He wasted no time turning back to where the originally came from, avoiding the twigs and leaves on the surface as much as he could as he sprinted throughout the trees. Just as he expected, as soon as he was a distance away, he could still heat the intensity of the fight, two single crashes the beginning of what he assumed would be many of the trees that would fall victim to their sprawl.

Hurried gasps for air left his lips as soon as he toppled over onto the smooth marble of the warp pad, grateful for the cool stone and a chance to catch his breath. Lazily, still on his hands and knees, he raised one palm over his shoulder before slapping it on the surface of the pad, activating it with a radiating burst of light.

Familiar surroundings of the temple came into view when he opened his eyes, grateful for the warmth of the air compared to the forest’s chilly weather.

“Steven!” Bismuth’s voice was the next thing he registered, as well as the sound of some sort of metal dropping against the stove and the pummeling of large steps against the floor boards.

“I’m okay, I’m okay,” only until he rose himself to his knees did he realize how dirtied he had gotten. The front of his shirt was riddled with dirt stains, and there were a few reddening scraps against his arms and knees. He’d have to clean up soon. “The corrupted gem was tougher than we thought, and Garnet wanted me to come back.”

“Well, a good thing, look at you!” Despite his former protests of his health, he found himself being scooped up into large arms and being pulled into a warm chest. He didn’t complain—Bismuth’s affection was a gift he didn’t plan on taking for granted. “Short stack and I are cooking for lunch.”

“Hey Steven! You look horrible!”  Peridot made herself known.

“We’re here, too!” Steven had to holster himself over Bismuth’s shoulders in order to find the source of the excited shout. His grin heightened when he spotted Rhodonite, snuggled up next to Padparadscha, sitting against his bed, as well as Flourite and Rutile who were comfortably sharing the mattress. “I hope you don’t mind that we took your bed.”

“No, the couch is just fine for me!” Steven threw himself back into Bismuth’s arms, though when his knee scraped against the blacksmith’s bicep, he released a short hiss of pain, grazing against one of the deeper cuts against his leg.

“Are you sure you’re alright? I can help patch you up if you need it!”

“Nope, I’m good!” With his hand raising to his lips, he spat into the center of his palm before smacking it against his cheek.  When it pulled away, the cut against his cheek was slowly fading with a dimmed sparkle. “I can patch myself up! Pearl’s probably going to want to help me clean off all of the dirt before I do that again, so I don’t get dirt everywhere!”

“Okay, I’ll just set you on the couch,” Bismuth grinned, gently aiding Steven to the sofa and setting him down in the soft cushions. “We’re cooking parmesan chicken, is that okay?”

 

Bismuth and Peridot were obviously sharpening their cooking skills each day, because he didn’t think he had ever had a better meal om his life.

Pearl was an expert at baking, though she was never interested in cooking savory meals and anything besides pastries. Scarfing down the rest of the chicken on his plate, the comparison between the three was thrown from his mind, instead savoring the last bites of his meal.

“You guys are getting so good at cooking! I wish I could eat this forever,” had he had no self-restraint, he would’ve hugged the empty dish to his shirt, though he knew that that would only cause a larger mess than he was already dealing with.

“It’s a good way to relief stress in between construction.”

“It’s a good way to use my metal powers!” Peridot’s words were true, Steven had never thought before that being able to use her metal powers to hold three pans at once would ever be tested.

“I wish I could have more,” Steven set his plate on the coffee table. “But we need to save some for Amethyst, and maybe Garnet, for when they get back.”

Steven’s words suddenly stopped. It had been almost half an hour since he had left the gems. Where were they? Shouldn’t they be done by now?

Almost as if on cue, the warp pad signaled its activation with a sudden eruption of luminescent light, however, when the explosion faded, Steven raised his eyebrows when he only saw Garnet’s figure.

“Garnet!” Steven jumped up, nearly toppling the glass plate over. “Your back! Where’s Pearl and Amethyst?”

“Here,” he didn’t realize until just then that Garnet’s hands were curled into fists. She pulled her hands forward, opening her palms. He cringed when it revealed two inactive gemstones.

“Woah, what happened?” Peridot’s voice was more amused than anything, though in all honestly it didn’t surprise Steven one bit.

“The corrupted gem took them both out at the same time,” when Steven’s hands grabbed out for the two gemstones, Garnet obliged hesitantly, placing the stones carefully into his hands. Idly, Steven brushed off a bit of the dirt from Amethyst’s gem. “It was a harder fight than we thought. They’ll probably be gone for a longer time.”

Before Steven could ask his question, Garnet responded. “Not before next week.”

“But what about when I have to go back to Homeworld! I can’t go alone!” Steven was not prepared to travel across space alone. Without his caretaker at his side, he would not be able to last. She was the only one with as much information to help make the trips as smoothly as possible.

“Jasper can still come with you. You can communicate with us at any time,” Steven, somehow, could tell when Garnet’s tone turned sympathetic despite her monotone voice not wavering at all. For added emphasis, a hand found itself against his mess of curls. “Remember what I said earlier.”

“I-“ he knew that Jasper’s presence would help comfort him, but the thin gem was, at one point, Pink’s court. She had background experience and knew which words would comfort him and help explain. “Can I at least take her gem with me incase she reforms sometime during the week?”

“Steven.”

 

When Steven woke up the next morning, exhaustion grabbed at his limbs.

After all, he had set an alarm every half an hour.

It was a long process, throughout the night. He’d wake up, slip from his bed, climb down from his loft and peek over the kitchen counter. If he saw that Amethyst and Pearl’s gems were still resting comfortably in the basket and blanket, he’d return back into his bed and repeat the process until dawn broke through the horizon. After that, he sat at the island chair and stared intently at the basket. He was thankful for the coffee that magically appeared in the cupboards after yesterday’s conversation.

“Good morning,” the first person to meet Steven in the morning was Lars. After returning to Earth, considering his newfound involvement and interest in gem culture, Lars often came by at least every other day for the Off Colors, finding a balance between his gem life and his human life. To make things accordingly so, Lars was granted a key to the house.

Seeing Steven at the counter, slowly craning his head and gazing at him with tired, red shot eyes was probably one of the most terrifying experiences he had ever seen. “Still not back yet?”

“Usually Amethyst is back by now,” Steven frowned, leaning into the counter and tenderly picking up the purple gemstone. “It’s been more than twelve hours.”

“Maybe she’s taking her time this time?” Lars followed suit with Steven’s actions, resting his body against the counter as he lazily tossed his key against its surface.

“Well, I hate it,” Steven huffed. “They better be back before next week. Garnet’s future vision has to be  wrong!

Imagine if I mess up next week’s visit because I didn’t have anyone to help guide me! The Diamonds work so hard to make the visits go by smoothly, I can imagine they’re preparing right now…”

 

Days having to prepare everything under the radar was, for the first time for White Diamond, tiring and even stressful. Even perfect people needed a break, and it had been a long time since White had had one for herself.

Finally, a perfect schedule for all three Diamonds was cleared—without Blue and Yellow’s two cents, of course. She took it into her own hands to reschedule her lowers’ schedules- and a meeting was quickly set up.

White took the moments in her ship to enjoy the peace and quiet; with her personal Quartzes off somewhere in the hallways, for once, it gave her complete loneliness that she was glad to accept. Even her pearl had been shooed off.

Her pearl that didn’t betray her perfect empire, White Diamond smiled.

She opened her screen again, reviewing the logs that appeared on the monitor. She still wanted to cringe with each swipe of the piling evidence of espionage and traitorism.

“My Diamond,” unfortunately, her peace was disturbed too soon, with Chief standing at the large entry way to her personal ship room. She sighed, allowing the scenes to dissipate and resting her chin atop of palms.

“Proceed.”

“We will be arriving shortly. Yellow Diamond and Blue Diamond are waiting for your arrival.”

“They can be patient, like you said, my Chief,” she spoke sweetly, “We’ll be there soon.”

“Yes, my Diamond,” clasping her hands over her chest, Chief bowed, and as quickly as she had entered, she was gone.

Great, now she was alone again. Enough time for her to collect her thoughts and go over what she was going to say again. She knew her words and evidence would be followed with stubbornness, denial and shock.

Which, all the while made everything slightly more amusing.

 

It didn’t take long for the ship to land at its destination, one of the main planets of the Homeworld empire. One of her first, after all. It was only normal for serious and important business to take place here. She stood from her throne, stretching her limbs only momentarily before she allowed herself to be escorted down the vast halls of her ship, and eventually to the landing that would teleport her and her quartzes out onto the dock.

She was thankful when she saw Yellow and Blue already in the designated meeting room, seated at the large conference table that took up most of the space. When her eyes fell across the two pearls on the other side of the room, she looked for any sign of disgust or fear.

Nothing. There was nothing that showed the signs of betrayal or espionage that she knew they were experiencing. They were as normal as ever, and it began to make her wonder if just now had been the beginning of those intrusive thoughts. Not that it mattered. After all, after this meeting she was sure it would be fixed.

“White, about time,” right away Yellow greeted her with obvious distaste and irritability. White would remember this for the next time she suddenly changed her fellow diamonds’ schedules.

“I swear to you, Calypso, after our time is done it will all be worth it,” her hand fled up to rest just above her jawline, barely brushing against the skin there. Her other hand pointed at the two figures stationed against the walls. “But first, I have to ask for your pearls to leave, this is something only the three of us need to discuss for now.”

“Oh, you’re not planning on making us switch pearls now, are you?” Yellow’s deadpan response made even Blue, who was usually composed in her presence, break, her palm slapping over her mouth and her head falling down to slump against the table’s surface. At least, now they’d be able to tell if her powers worked if the tears were a result of laughing too hard. “We know how that turned out. Perfect.”

“No, it will all be explained later, for now though, goodbye pearls,” even when she directly confronted them, they remained untouched. In return, they simply bowed, before turning towards the control panel and triggering the control panel.  Once the door slipped open, they were quick to leave.

“Thank you, now back to business,” White joined her fellow diamonds at the table, though on the opposite side.

“Anything that was so serious that our pearls couldn’t join us should’ve been discussed beforehand, White,” Blue was steadily calming down from her earlier attack, tears flicked off the sides of her cheeks.

“Please listen to me, Neso, this is important, but it came so quickly in such a small amount of time, and it keeps on growing,” White hummed, amused, and summoned her monitor again. She reviewed the current slide quickly, before letting it reset to its first page. “The reason why your pearls can’t be here is because it is about your pearls.”

“What are you talking about?” Yellow’s eyes narrowed, sparking entertainment somewhere inside of her. Now she had their attention. Now they can get down to business.

“Here, why don’t you have a look, Yellow,” White reached over the surface of the table to hand the screen to Yellow, who took it with a hesitant grip. Despite being the other side of the table, White could still see the writing on the translucent screen, despite backwards. Barely, she managed to decipher the reversed words Yellow was glaring at.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I don’t want to be on Homeworld, anymore.

“White, I never sent that!” Yellow’s fist came down hard, and any more momentum White was afraid the table would crack. “Why would I give up life as a Diamond?!”

“I knew that as soon as I saw it, Calypso, no need to be afraid,” White’s words were not intended to comfort Yellow, rather to keep the conversation going. “I was thinking about the one whose duty is to be on the monitor.”

Yellow’s demeanor changed from angered to shocked, and almost immediately, the screen was pulled away from her face, her head lifting to meet White’s gaze.

“You don’t mean- “

“That your pearl wrote this? That’s exactly what I mean,” White’s lips turned in a frown. “Look at the next screen, will you?”

Yellow’s eyebrows furrowed, obviously rendered speechless. None the less, she pressed her finger against the screen, moving to the next picture.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I want to be on Earth with the Crystal Gems.

“Oh,” Yellow Diamond let the screen float from her hand, prompting Blue Diamond to pick it up and observe it with a confused gaze, while one hand came to consolingly rest atop of Yellow’s shoulder. “Her time on Earth with the Crystal Gems have rubbed off on her too much. I should’ve seen this coming!”

“That’s what happens when you let her go, Yellow,” Blue’s words were stern yet sympathetic. “I knew not to send mine, Yellow. You should’ve done the same. She was so scared, after all.”

“Oh, Blue,” White chuckled. “Move to the next screen, will you?”

The gentler gem appeared confused for a moment. Her glance returned to the screen in her hands.

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: I do, too.

Blue’s face forced White to keep her growing entertainment in, instead only outwardly showing her sympathy.

“Wha-“ the long haired gem gawked at the screen, before her glance shot to White, and then Yellow, then to the table. She seemed to give up, pushing the screen away and burying her face into her palms. “My pearl is a traitor! I turned her into a traitor!”

“Neso, do not fret, it wasn’t your fault,” she knew that was partly true only. Her pearl would never turn against her. Perhaps it was just the way she influenced her. “Please don’t start crying, I don’t feel like looking like a mess right now.”

“You can’t expect us to be so still, White!” Yellow’s next words were full of rage, not directed towards anyone in particular, at least White thought. “Oh, I’ve had her for thousands of years, I don’t even know the process of getting a new pearl!”

“Now, now, Yellow, who says we need to do that,” White shook her head, leaning forward, surprising herself as a tender hand came to cup over the other’s hand. Her free hand wiped away a tear streaming down her cheek.  “Blue, please.”

“I’m sorry,” Blue’s words followed an exaggerated sniffle, finally raising her head from the table. Her hair was disheveled, and White knew that the end of the tears would not be for a while. “I just can’t believe it, my sweet Blue. She never does anything wrong! She just wants to take orders and draw.”

“Well, not anymore.”

That broke Blue into all out sobbing.

Yellow slid her hand across the small of her back. She was sure that some of the tears streaking down the yellow gem’s cheek were mixed with her own, as well.

 She was beginning to grow annoyed with the own tears rendering her vision blurry, using all of her self-restraint to stop herself from rolling her eyes; she knew that would make everything worse. “Now, Blue, Yellow, please stop your crying and listen here.”

“Oh, we’re going to have to shatter them,” Blue resided to ignoring White, instead pushing herself away from the table and into Yellow’s arms, resting her body against her chest. The other pressed her chin against the top of her forehead, her own annoyance and irritability obvious. “Oh, how could we let this happen, Yellow, how could we let them get so attached to Earth?!”

“Now, it’s neither of your faults,” when Blue’s sobbing decreased, calming into reduced sniffles, she spoke once more. “You know pearls. Influenced easy, attached. It’s just simply not their faults.”

“But look at all of this!” Blue finally pulled away from Yellow, instead slipping onto the next pages of the screen, where various captures of messages appeared.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I don’t know how to feel about this. How will we get to Earth?

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: The next time you go to Earth for the trade. The Crystal Gems love you.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: I think White is switching me out of the deal, and besides, I’ll be on Earth, but what about you?

[Blue Diamond’s Control Room]: You can poof me and sneak me onto the ship. If worse comes to worst, we can make it to an escape pod. We know the way to Earth. We have to get there.

[Yellow Diamond’s Control Room]: When will we do this? We need to do it soon, I’m getting so impatient and tired with every new day. I’m so tired of this after six thousand years.

“They had this all planned out!” Blue’s hand ran through her mess of hair, her eyes closing tightly and finally releasing a stressed sigh. “They were obviously serious about this! How could she be writing all of this, she’s so sweet and-“

“Blue, please calm down,” this time, White couldn’t help but roll her eyes. “There’s still chance for redemption; there’s always two sides to a story. It won’t be long before they realize they’re thoughts are involuntarily intrusive.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, White,” Yellow rested her elbow against the table. “If my pearl was having involuntary thoughts of traitorism she would’ve came crying to me for forgiveness and help.”

“That, we don’t know, Calypso. These are new feelings for them. Don’t forget this was the first time in thousands of years that they were away from you,” White craned her head to her side. “We need to hear their side of the story. They may admit that they were scared of these feelings. I’m sure they were just overwhelmed, and too afraid to ask for help.”

“How do we know?”

“Well, why don’t we ask them?” White pulled her hand away from her chin, snapping her finger with a quick movement of her wrist. Her screen dissipated, and the door at the other end of the room gradually slipped open. “Pearls, please come back in!”

Thankfully, her first cry was loud enough, and it wasn’t long before two figures gracefully slipped back into her vision, arms respectfully either clasped against a chest or resting behind a back. “Ah, welcome back, are my quartzes out there, too?”

“Yes, White Diamond,” the blue gem’s words were soft, barely audible as she tilted her head back to the door. Her demeanor was nothing like the turmoil she was experiencing on the inside; veiled behind a respectful manner and a sheet of blue bangs.

“Oh, great,” White smiled. “Oh quartzes!”

She was impressed with the quick appearance of her favorite gaurds—Tiny and Chief. They both planted themselves at the door, hands pressed over their chests. Yellow and Blue immediately seemed more unsettled with their appearance. “Reporting, White Diamond!”

“Thank you,” White smiled again before her head tilted down to face the two pearls. She leaned back against the throne, her palm falling to the arm rest. “Pearls, how do you feel about this trade with the Crystal Gems?”

Both gems seemed taken back at the question, turning to each other before whipping their heads back to White Diamond. Yellow was the first to respond, her voice shaky at first, though eventually steadying. “The trade with the Crystal Gems is a brilliant idea, White Diamond.”

“Oh? Thank you. How do you feel about being on Earth so much for the trade? I want the view of a gem whose been personally affected as much as you have been, little Yellow.”

“Y-Your concern is greatly appreciated, White Diamond,” Yellow forced herself to smile. “I feel stressed even thinking about my time on Earth away from my gracious Diamond,” her words were much more endearing than usual. “But I will do what I must for my wonderful empire.”

“You’re so loyal, little Yellow,” grinning, White turned her attention to Blue. “Now, both of you, how do you feel about the Crystal Gems?”

“Pink Diamond, I adore,” Blue started, much more ready than her yellow counterpart had been, “The other Crystal Gems I am indifferent. I do not wish to engage in their presence anymore than I have to, White Diamond.”

“I agree, White Diamond. Their way of life is strange.”

“Ah, but it’s also interesting, isn’t it?” White chimed, perhaps a bit too enthusiastic. Her diamond counterparts had been silent since their pearls reentered the room, obviously still shocked by their earlier findings. “Pink will be coming back for an emergency after the end of this meeting, actually,”

Her smile widened. “So, don’t worry, you won’t have to wait to sneak an escape pod to see a Crystal Gem again.”

It was apparent right away when Blue and Yellow realized exactly what White was talking about, what White was indirectly telling them; she knew about their plans of espionage, everything from their chat logs.

Even poor Blue seemed overwhelmed with shock, her jaw slacking in a silent gasp. Both pearls’ postures immediately stiffened. Yellow was first to grabble for words.

“I-“

“No need to say anything, pearls,” White Diamond shushed, “Now I think you both know exactly what I’m talking about. Wanting to betray Homeworld, join the Crystal Gems? It really makes me wonder.”

Both thin gems immediately pulled back when White rose from the throne, with Yellow even whipping her body to grab at Blue’s bicep. She saw her eyes shoot towards her diamond who, in return, sent her a glare mixed with fury, disappointment, and grief.

“M-My Diamond, I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about!”

“Isn’t lying going to make your situation much worse?” White shook her head, one step closer to the shivering figures below. “Despite both of your plans to betray our empire, I am a very merciful gem. Quartzes?”

“Yes, my Diamond?” Both pearls recoiled back in shock when two voices behind them sounded, both Tiny and Chief suddenly appearing behind them.

“Please take these two to the holding towers, they can be together if they’d like,” when White’s warm gaze returned to the pearls, she could still visibly see the shock coursing through their bodies.

“Yes, my Diamond!” Chief firmly placed one hand against the yellow pearl’s shoulder, with Tiny following suit with her blue counterpart. Both were still speechless, simply staring at each other helplessly with astonished expressions—as much as she could guess with Blue’s demeanor—even as they were escorted guard by guard back towards the exit of the room.

Once the gate leisurely slid close behind them, White turned back to her fellow diamonds, who had still yet to talk. Blue looked as if she was going to start crying again, and in preparation, Yellow allowed her to lean back into her shoulder.

“What now?”

“We’ll deal with this how we always deal with cases like this,” White pulled up her monitor again. After this meeting was done, she’d have to contact ‘Steven’ and call him back to Homeworld as soon as possible. He’d want to experience this, too, after all. “Looks like we’re going to have a trial.”

 

- - Chapter Twelve Sneak Peak - -

 

"This isn't fair, though!" Steven's voice, whilst still hushed, was much louder than his earlier words. He was growing frustrated; none of this was fair! "Is there seriously a chance they're going to execute you?"

"We're replaceable to them," the hand that covered Blue's hand continued to tighten, until the cream yellow around her knuckles had turned into nearly completely white.

"The trial could still turn in our favor," Blue's hand lifted to press to her lips, as if in thought. "Either way, there's nothing but a bad ending. We're not going to end up on Earth, They'll never speak about it around us again after this."

Blue's words pulled at his heartstrings, the muscles in his lips involuntarily trembling as his gaze shot to the single window, feet above their heads. 

An idea-- a dangerous one-- suddenly pounded into his head, Yellow and Blue nearly jumping as he jumped up, running to the wall. 

Grazing his hands against the stone of the wall, he lifted his head to watch the filtered dust in the light of the moon. "Blue, Yellow, I need your help. Quick, before I have to go back!"

"What do you mean?" Yellow, despite her hesitancy, sat up as well, quickly followed by her blue counterpart. She was interested, though still seemed mostly undetermined. "What are you talking about?"

"If you two help me, I can reach the window!" He knew this was incredibly dangerous and risky. If he did succeed, White would be furious, it could possibly even affect the trial. 

However, none of this filtered through his mind. Right now, he just wanted to help Blue and Yellow.

"We're going to do it! We're going to get you out of here and get you to Earth!"

Chapter Text

Driving a ship was so much harder than it looked.

Without his caretaker reformed yet, Steven was more than disappointed and downright terrified when White Diamond had sought communication two days after his return to Earth, commanding his return for an emergency. Steven refused at first, though with the mention of his very first trial as a judge rather than a recipient, his attention was soon snared, and he was off again back to space. White had even promised to give him a few extra days with his family next week.

He wasn’t going completely alone, of course. He may be responsible, but Garnet would never allow him to go out to Homeworld without supervision. However, with Jasper pressing herself against the wall and looking as if she was going to be sick with every jerk and turn of the ship, it was almost like, for the time being, he was alone with nothing but his thoughts.

His eyes strewn on the window, he watched as galaxies and stars passed by. White had refused to tell him about the trial and who it was about, and despite his tiredness, he felt a surge of excitement pulse through him with every escalating thought. He was going to be a judge; just like in his movies.

He remembered the trial from earlier. What had happened to the two zircons that had defended and belittled him? He may have not liked both of their presences, but he sure didn’t hope they were shattered. He’d have to ask White Diamond about their whereabouts later.

Everything would be so much better if Pearl was with him, and that was something he couldn’t stop thinking about. Why did she have to retreat into her gem right before such a big event? He wanted her to rest and take time to reform, but at the same time, he also wanted her right there, his hand in her own and spending his free time listening to countless stories about his mother and her adventures from thousands of years ago.

This ship ride back to Homeworld was much more depressing than he had expected.

Thankfully, the distance between the ship and the familiar planet was at a near nothing as the ship drew closer and closer to the boarding dock. As the ship’s jerks and uneasy gliding began to slow, from behind him he could hear Jasper shuffling away from the wall.

“Sorry,” he apologized, sheepishly scratching at the hair at the back of his neck. “It’s so much harder to drive a ship than I thought. It looks so easy…”

“I understand,” throughout her time on Earth unbubbled, Jasper’s true personality had began to shine through her outer crust of brawny and buff. Steven had had his initial worries that Jasper wouldn’t be able to situate to life on Earth, but as it was, Jasper was much more of a softie than she showed. He couldn’t count how many times he had caught her and Cat Steven curled up on the couch together snoozing away, or listening intently and star eyed as Connie read her books aloud.

“Have you ever been to a trial?”

With Jasper returning right next to his side, the distinct features of many different groups of gems began to appear through the window, surrounded by a white, pristine backdrop and a large sliding door that he knew lead to where their destination was. “A few times. On low level cases that don’t require the Diamonds’ attention, some quartzes and agates will be gathered onto a team and observe a case and what a gem on trial has to say to defend themselves. After that, we vote and whatever comes up as the majority is the sentence and punishment they’ll usually get.”

“We do that on Earth, too!” Despite many obvious and jarring differences, Steven was able to pinpoint many similarities between human and gem culture, even if little.

Steven was surprised when the ship landed without problem- he had been preparing himself to accidently run into a few structures and even possibly poof a few gems. However, just like every other time, the ship glided safely into its’ parking spot’, and a collective sigh of relief from both gems sounded as the engine slowed into nothing.

“I didn’t kill us,” despite not doing almost no physical ctivity save from the occasional move of his legs, Steven felt exhausted, and he hopped that the trial wouldn’t happen right as soon as they met up with the other Diamonds.

Unfortunately, Steven realized almost immediately as soon as the two exited the large ship that this would not be the case. As soon as the pink bubble dissipated and evaporated into thin air, they were greeted by two familiar faces.

“Pink Diamond,” compared to their last meeting, Chief somehow had so much more respect for him than last time, something that shocked him to no end. Then again, however, he wasn’t even expecting her to be here, and same with Tiny, but here they were, and Steven suddenly wished he could turn back into the ship and ride home.

“We will be escorting you to the trial room,” he took a glimpse down at his bag; he had been sure to pack necessities he knew he would need. Coffee, especially, which was what filled most of the bag. He knew he wouldn’t need all of it, but he wouldn’t be surprised if it was nearly empty by the time he got back home. “The other Diamonds have been waiting for you.”

“We came as fast as we could under our circumstances,” Jasper was about to follow along with the other quartzes before a hand suddenly pushed back against her chest.

“My apologies, Pink Diamond’s Quartz,” it was funny for Steven that a tiny soldier nearly half Jasper’s height was trying to tell her what to do. Especially when she reached up on her toes to press her hand directly across her sternum. “This is a very important trial that only the Diamonds can know of for the time being.”

“But you’re not a Diamond.”

“But we are White Diamond’s personal guards,” when did that happen?  Had Blue Diamond already finished her rehabilitation with the rose quartzes? Where were the rest of them? “You can wait outside the trial room. But as for Pink Diamond, follow us, please.”

Steven did not want to be alone. Garnet had promised Jasper would stay by his side. Even with the Diamonds, he still wanted a Crystal Gem with him. Even on Homeworld he wanted someone there to remind him he wasn’t always a Diamond, but still always a Crystal Gem.

Nonetheless, he followed the two gems without a fit, leading him along the familiar white hallways. Even if he hadn’t been down this way among this planet before, every single hallway looked familiar in his eyes. They were all the same- pristine and white, long and confusing.

Eventually though, he was led to a large room that was very similar to the one he had been in in his own trial. There were many differences, however, with the fact that it had to be at least triple its size, and the four thrones in the middle. There were two corners and a wall of the room that were sided off with bleachers and grandstands made obviously for an audience. There was no one, however. White was right, this must be a big case if there was no audience.

“Pink, excited that you’ve finally decided to join us,” not until then did he acknowledge the three Diamonds already sitting at their respective thrones. White, her seat the largest and in the middle, pointed towards the rosy throne right in front of her’s. Despite being much smaller than the other three, it was still way too big for him to fit in. He was suddenly extremely grateful for his floating powers.

The struggle to get onto his throne took much more than he hoped for, with almost five minutes passing by before he managed to find a spot on the throne that he could over see without falling over back onto the hard floor.

“Just like usual,” once he was finally comfortable, he craned his head to Blue Diamond, who was shaking her head with an amused smile. “Even when you could fit on your chair, it always took you so long to get situated.”

“Don’t blame her, Blue,” White’s words, for once, were soothing and empathetic. “I’m sorry, Pink. Next time we will make sure to adjust your throne better for your new size.”

“Thank you, White,” turning back to place his palms against his throne, the embarrassment on his cheeks began to fade. “Now, can you tell me what this trial is about now? I can’t wait for it!”

“It’s a case of traitorism. An important one,” Steven narrowed his eyes in interest. Traitorism? That would be awkward; he had been raised in a family full of well-known traitors to the Homeworld empire. He knew that they were only getting away with it for the sole reason that his mother was a diamond. Everyone else still had to hold up their purposes. Confusion rolled into his system when he turned to both Yellow and Blue, whose expressions were, for some reason, hurt.

“Really?” Although his excitement had faded with the topic of the trial, he was still thrilled that he was being a judge in his very first. “Who is it? Can we bring her out now?”

“Starlight, we have to introduce the zircons first, they should be ready at anytime,” as if on cue with White Diamond’s words, an elongated appearance of light suddenly filtered against the large, diamond insignia in the middle of the room, and once again, Steven was brought back to his own trial.

Adrenaline shot through him when the appearance of a Zircon was left standing after the light disappeared. He knew there had to be hundreds of yellow zircons out there, but his suspicion that this was the same one from earlier was confirmed when she seemed to jump at the presence of Steven on his throne among the other Diamonds. She was obviously shocked, her eyebrows furrowed, and her jaw locked open, gaping. However, she regained herself quickly.

“My Diamonds,” the zircon pulled her hands over her chest. “I am very pleased and grateful that you have chosen me as a prosecutor for your case.”

Three more figures suddenly began to summon with three more arrivals of radiance. There were two traitors in one case? Unless this victim had two zircons defending her.

However, once the light disappeared in a burst of brilliance, Steven’s gut dropped, and he suddenly realized why this was such a big deal.

“Canary, Blue!” Why were they on trial? What crime had they committed? The thought of the unfamiliar Zircon was at the back of his mind with the questions wanting to force themselves out.

“Ah, Canary?” The voice from behind him caused him to whip his head around much too fast, sending a spiral of pain down his spine as he pulled his nerve way too far. “I haven’t heard of that before.”

Yellow and Blue were obviously terrified. Their hands were clasped together, though, even from the throne, he could see the rest of their thin forms trembling with the surges of fear that was no doubt coursing through their forms.

“M-My Diamonds,” the second Zircon, much to his surprise, was pink. He could practically feel her stare on him, probably lingering along his gemstone, and it took a few more moments before her words continued. “I’m honored that you have chosen me as a defendant for your case.”

“We’re thankful that you’re both here. You’re both the best in your respective courts, after all. Enough chit chat, though, why don’t we start,” White lifted her hand from her arm rest, quickly dulling the mood of the environment and replacing it, for Steven at least, dread. “I believe that the prosecutor should go first in this case. Zircon, you may begin.”

“Thank you, White Diamond,” before the Zircon began, she sent a glare towards the two pearls standing directly in the middle of the diamond etched in the floor. Steven had never felt so much compulsion in his life to back hand someone.

“A traitor is still a traitor, from a worthless ruby, to a high status agate, and even the personal peal of a Diamond. Your position as a gem doesn’t save you from betraying your empire. Let’s look at the evidence we have filed, shall we?”

A screen summoned in the palm of the Zircon’s hand, projected onto a much larger monitor that gradually build itself solid just yards above the ground. It was like a projection like the ones at the movie theater back home. Albeit a bit more disturbing. His eyebrows furrowed as he forced his eyes to stop squirming, focusing on the words on the screen.

Wow.

“It’s obvious that they were planning this out and thinking about putting this into action,” the Zircon clicked her tongue, shaking her head in disapproval. She was just as good as when she had testified against him. “Discussing the schedules of ship drop offs, appointments with Diamonds and colonies. They were looking for the perfect time to escape!”

Steven turned his gaze to the two poor gems in the center of it all; Yellow looked as if she was about to crack. She was obviously on the verge of full on sobbing, but somehow….

Blue looked as still as ever. Her face was emotionless- at least the half he could actually see through her bangs-, which somehow made everything all the while more unnatural.

“You see? These weren’t just thoughts and compulsions; they were planning this all out carefully. They weren’t just thinking about betraying Homeworld, they were going to betray Homeworld. Just because they’re the personal pearls to the Diamonds, should they really be getting this special treatment?”

“I object everything you say!” the pink zircon’s sudden cry made Steven jolt. The gem appeared concerned for a moment, suddenly ashamed of her outcry, but she relaxed again, cupping her hands over her chest. “That is, if I am allowed to object, my Diamond.”

“Go…ahead?”

“Thank you, my Diamond,” when Steven lifted his head to face Yellow Diamond, he was surprised and suddenly felt small against the agitated glare that was shot back at him. Trembling slightly, Steven turned back to the scene in front of him.

“She had a few mediocre points, emphasis on a few,” the lawyer began, making her confidence known, “But I want to remind you of one thing. They are both pearls, it’s in their programming to become attached to things, can we blame them for not going against what they were created to do?”

Finally, Blue Pearl showed some sort of emotion. The frown was barely visible from where even he was sitting.

“Yes, they didn’t report these thoughts to you immediately, and that can be a cause for concern, but lets remember that these were new feelings, and to anyone, much less a pearl,” Blue’s frown heightened, though Steven had no idea if anyone else could notice. “Should we really be punishing two easily manipulated gems because they were experiencing new and terrifying emotions? How could they come to you two if they couldn’t even figure out how to deal with them themselves?”

“But they still planned along those thoughts!” Steven was beginning to lose track of the argument as soon as the yellow zircon on the other side of the room retorted back with a furious growl, much less organized than his previous trial. It was funny, she was acting out more despite being in the presence of two more Diamonds. One, now that he thought about it. “They should be punished for that!”

“Now, now,” before the argument could become more heated, White’s sudden interruption promptly ceased the discussion quick. She didn’t seem enraged or saddened, simply interested. There was even a smirk growing on her lips. “You both have shown very important details, but why don’t we see what the perpetrators think?”

When pairs of eyes fled from White Diamond to the two pearls in the middle of the room, Steven felt very uncomfortable. It was obvious that Yellow especially was experiencing some sort of guilt and, more expressed, terror. What were they doing, forcing them to testify in front of all four of the Diamonds when he knew just as well as everyone else they were going to get punished nonetheless? Inside his heart, however, he hoped that maybe this time, the Diamonds would shed a sympathetic eye.

“Well, pearls?”

Even with the ability and permission to speak, Yellow was almost hesitant to defend herself. Steven couldn’t blame her, there was so many things he wanted to say in their defense. They let he and his family disperse from their roles, if he considered Yellow and Blue as his family, couldn’t they, too?

“I-“ her voice was trembling at first, obviously feeling the pressure of the spotlight on her. “I agree that those feelings were…scary. I should’ve come to you as soon as I began to feel them. I’m sorry, my Diamond.”

“See? They were simply misguided,” White appeared satisfied enough, her smile less malicious now that arguing had ceased. “What do you think, Yellow and Blue? Should we get them the help they need and give them a second chance?”

“It doesn’t matter what we say,” despite her words, Yellow seemed much less furious than before. To him, she looked more relieved than anything. “You ultimately make the choice in the end. But I agree, even if this was all such a nuisance.”

“I agree as well,” Blue’s gentle sigh came as a relief to Steven. His dreams had come true; the Diamonds were showing mercy today. “We should help them.”

“Excellent, now all we need is the prosecutors’ pleas,” attention was once again turned back to the pearls. “How do you two plea?”

“Innocent!” The yellow gem’s words were laced with obvious solace, her hands cupped over her gem as if she had been afraid it would be ripped away from her. “Innocent!”

Still, Blue Pearl stayed silent.

“Come on, now, little Blue,” White’s smile began to shift, the corners of her lips beginning to pull. “What do you plea?”

She didn’t speak yet, but White’s words finally prompted the first visible movement from the pearl. She lifted her head, her lips still straight and tightly shut. Then, it slumped back down, her hands originally clasped over her chest and falling down against her thighs.

“Guilty.”

No one in the room spoke, however the shocked silence felt much louder than any noise they could’ve made. Steven was sure that the Cluster could be emerging right there, and it would still be quieter. Even White was at a lost for words.

“What did you say?”

“I said,” Steven had known the pearl long enough to know her gentle and frail nature. She was a sweet gem that he feared would break with a single touch or bark of words. She couldn’t believe her right now, teeth gritted, her words still soft but completely overwhelmed with venom. “Guilty.”

“Blue!” Yellow turned to face the diamonds for a minute before turning to her fellow pearl, a palm pressed firmly over her shoulder. Most of what she said next was too quiet to hear, though he could make out, “What are you doing?”

“Please don’t whisper,” malevolence dripped in White Diamond’s words, immediately sending a sparks of fear down Steven’s spine. “I want to know what Little Blue means.”

“I’m not misguided,” when Blue started, the tension in the silence thickened, though Steven leaned forward in interest. “I wasn’t afraid of the feelings. I still want to join the Crystal Gems, I still want to go back to Earth. I would right now if I had the chance. I’m guilty.”

Yellow’s hand fell from her shoulder, though made no attempt to step back from the other pearl. However, her expression changed visibly from shock to realization, and as she tentatively turned back to the Diamonds, she almost matched the other gem. “I change my plea. Guilty.”

“Well, this has changed unexpectedly, hasn’t it?”  The tallest of the Diamonds tiled her head to the side, her voice derived of any emotion. It was way scarier than if she had been yelling. “I think we should call a recess as we discuss how to move forward. Especially as we overview the fact that charges of traitorism can be punished with execution.”

Steven’s heart dropped immediately. Execution?

“Quartzes, please take the pearls back to the holding halls. We will come back together shortly.”

 

He wished Pearl was here, so bad. Having Jasper was at least comforting, but it still wasn’t the same. He wanted nothing more than to be back at home, cuddled in a blanket, and most importantly not thinking about execution. He couldn’t even stay with Jasper for long, there was something that he needed to do.

“And they’re going to let you visit them?” Jasper raised an eyebrow at his idea, crossing her arms over her chest.

”They won’t know. Tiny and Chief are still with White Diamond. If there aren’t any guards, why can’t I sneak in?”

“If you get caught, you may be a Diamond but you’re still going to face serious consequences.”

“I know. It’s worth it, though.”

This was all impulsive, he knew. Walking against the wall, slipping along the dark halls of the holding chambers, he didn’t even know what he was going to say to the pearls. If he could say anything to the pearls. Jasper had led him in the direction of the holding chambers, though what specific chamber they were being held in was something he’d need to figure out himself.

Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard to find out which one, especially with the voices that rang eerily down the halls.

“Why in the stars would you even say that?!”

“I wasn’t going to let them invalidate my feelings.”

“But now we won’t ever get a chance to go to Earth again! They might shatter us!”

“That’s not what a Crystal Gem would say.”

“We aren’t Crystal Gems yet.”

Steven followed the aggressive bickering until he was sure he was in front of the heavy gate that separated the room and the rest of the hall. There was a long, cylinder hole above the door, where the voices were coming from. A blue command pad was right next to his shoulder.

He knew that White had programmed the command pads so that he would be able to open it, but would these be upgraded too? His eyes shut in anticipation as he reached his hand out, pressing it against the marble and listening intently as it scanned his palm.

Beep!

Relief immediately washed over his body as the door leisurely slid open, prompting the two gems inside to turn to his direction in shock. The room itself wasn’t wide, a circular space that was empty save for the arched window that was a few meters above the ground, the only source of light.

“I-Is it already time to go back?” Yellow was obviously terrified of her earlier decision to back lash against the Diamonds, made clear with her slumped posture and how her shoulders dropped without care.

“No, not yet,” trailing off at the ‘yet’, he stepped past the doorway. He nearly screamed when the door slammed shut behind him, causing him to whip his entire body around and nearly topple over onto his backside. Panic and confusion fogged his vision as he spotted the lack of command pad on this side of the wall.

“There’s no way to get out of the holding chambers from the inside,” Blue’s words were deprived of any emotion. The only emotion he had heard from her at all during all of this had been fury and venom. “You’re stuck until White Diamond’s guards come back.”

“Great, so I am going to get in trouble,” Steven didn’t even try standing back up again. Leaning against the wall, he pulled his knees up to his chest with a sigh.

“Welcome to the club,” Yellow followed suit with him, crouching down to her knees and gazing up at Blue, as if waiting for her to follow. “At least you aren’t going to be nothing but dust by the end of this.”

“That’s not true! They won’t execute you!” He paused. “Maybe they’ll decide you can come back to Earth with me! Then you and Padparadscha can finally start getting along together!”

“You’ve obviously never met White Diamond,” Blue eventually did sit down, leaning against her yellow counterpart and crossing her arms over her chest. “The least we’ll get is a couple thousand years of imprisonment.”

You’re the reason why we will! We almost got away!”

“I’d rather face the consequences for my actions than have them invalidate and shoo my thoughts away like an object,” Blue frowned. “That’s what Pearl did.”

“We aren’t Pearl! We don’t have a Diamond on our side!” Yellow’s words paused as she turned to Steven, her cheeks dusting into a dark honey. “We don’t have a Diamond that isn’t stuck inside a human on our side Where is Pearl? I didn’t even see her out there.”

“She couldn’t make it. She and Amethyst poofed after fighting a gem monster.” But stars, did he wish she was there. She’d know what to say to them, she’d probably find a way to turn this around for the better.

“So, we won’t be able to see her again before we’re shattered,” Yellow hid her face in her palms, shaking her head as her posture hunched forward. “The next time you see her, tell her that we forgive her for abandoning us.”

“Is that a lie?”

“Surprisingly…no.”

"You’re not going to get shattered! You can’t! None of this is fair!” Steven's voice, whilst still hushed, was much louder than his earlier words. He was growing frustrated; none of this was fair! "Is there seriously a chance they're going to execute you?"

"We're replaceable to them," the hand that covered Blue's hand continued to tighten, until the cream yellow around her knuckles had turned into nearly completely white.

"The trial could still turn in our favor," Blue's hand lifted to press to her lips, as if in thought. "Either way, there's nothing but a bad ending. We're not going to end up on Earth, They'll never speak about it around us again after this."

Blue's words pulled at his heartstrings, the muscles in his lips involuntarily trembling as his gaze shot to the single window, feet above their heads. 

An idea-- a dangerous one-- suddenly pounded into his head, Yellow and Blue nearly jumping as he jumped up, running to the wall. 

Grazing his hands against the stone of the wall, he lifted his head to watch the filtered dust in the light of the moon. "Blue, Yellow, I need your help. Quick, before they come back!"

"What do you mean?" Yellow, despite her hesitancy, sat up as well, quickly followed by her blue counterpart. She was interested, though still seemed mostly undetermined. "What are you talking about?"

"If you two help me, I can reach the window!" He knew this was incredibly dangerous and risky. If he did succeed, White would be furious, it could possibly even affect the trial. 

However, none of this filtered through his mind. Right now, he just wanted to help Blue and Yellow.

"We're going to do it! We're going to get you out of here and get you to Earth!"                                                                                                                                       

 

Running her hands through her hair for what had to be the fifth time that minute, Jasper rolled her shoulders back as she adjusted her position against the wall, trying as best as she could to contain the stress that was coursing through her body.

She couldn’t pinpoint how long it had been since Steven had left to sneak a few words of encouragement to whoever was on trial. Steven hadn’t expressed details, just stating that there was more than one of them.

It was eerily quiet outside of the trial hall, save for the occasional Quartz or Zircon that passed between the trial rooms and the shipping dock.  It wasn’t a bad thing, giving her time and space to recollect her thoughts, but still- it wouldn’t be too bad to have Steven’s voice there cheerfully ranting about the latest episode of his ‘Sobbing Breakfast Friends’.

It was like she could hear his voice right now.

“Pssst!

That wasn’t in her head.

She pushed herself off of the wall, whipping her head around to pinpoint the source of noise.

Over here!” A second whispered cry as well as the stout arm that reached over the corner of the building prompted her body to twist and pace around the corner as calmly as she could. When She finally turned, he was surprised when she realized he wasn’t alone.

“Why are they here?”

“They’re the reason why there’s a trial,” Jasper’s gaze rose to glance questionably at the two pearls behind Steven. She was surprised when she was met with an equally hardened and confident stare. Not that it threw her off- it made a grin pull on her full lips. “And we only have a limited amount of time to help them escape! Where are the escape pods?”

“The escape pods are probably at the side docks in Faucet 4.” Jasper couldn’t even pinpoint the last time she was on this specific planet. She was thankful her memory was half alright so she could at least remember the basic map of the planet and its colony. “It’s not too far from here.”

“Lead the way! We need to stay out of view!”

“As long as we stay along the edge of buildings and avoid the guards, we should be fine,” she shooed the three others the opposite way from where they came from, before moving to the side so she could take the lead. “But why don’t we just use the leg ship?”

“Because then they’d know that I’m helping them escape,” Steven had it all planned out, they’d get Blue and Yellow to an escape pod, on their way to Earth, and then get back to in front of the trial room before Tiny and Chief came back to retrieve them for trial. When they saw Blue and Yellow missing, yet Steven and Jasper casually leaning against the wall carried in a conversation, they wouldn’t even begin to suspect it was him. “Which means we have to be fast!”

“If we keep a fast pace, it should be ten minutes. Will that be enough time?’

“I don’t know! I don’t know how long usual trial recesses last,” Steven’s voice was hushed, making it harder to hear his words. He was at the back of the group, with Blue and Yellow in the middle. It made sense to him, if someone saw them from the behind or the front, the pearls would have a bit more protection.

Silence overtook the group for a while, simply focused on getting away from the more crowded places of the planet. However, when they slipped over the sides of a more isolated part of a particular spire, Jasper summoned the courage to prompt a conversation.

“So, what did you two do the set off the Diamonds?”

“We made plans to escape to Earth… White caught us,” Blue’s words were smug, as if she wasn’t at risk for being reduced into nothing but dust. “Yellow started it.”

“You were the one who wanted to start planning an escape!” In contrast to earlier, Yellow’s tone was playful, pulling her arm in front of her to lightly nag her fist to Blue’s shoulder. “How do you even know the schedules of so many pod take offs?”

Blue smiled. “I have my ways.”

The conversation ended, leaving the gems in a comfortable yet tense quietness.

After around fifteen minutes, the quartz in the lead pulled her arm up.

“Okay, when we get to that corner coming up, the landing should be right there. We’re going to have to act fast, and quiet,” Jasper stopped the pace for a minute to turn around, her gaze soft and concerned. “As soon as you hear the next escape pod take off, we’re going to run to the nearest one as fast as we can. Before then, we can’t talk at all. Don’t even peek over the corner. There’s most likely going to be guards on the dock. This is going to be the fastest part of the escape, but also the most dangerous and risky.”

“Oka-“

“No talking!”

With Jasper leading them right to the corner, Steven could see Yellow visibly begin to tremble, her hands beginning to fidget at her sides. Quick to follow his first instinct, a warm hand reached out to clasp over a thin wrist, causing her to toss around in surprise.

“Don’t worry, we’re going to be fine,” his words were barely above a whisper, in order to stay as silent as possible while still reassuring the scared gem. “Don’t think about being caught. Think about how you’re going to change your outfit when we get to Earth.”

Yellow’s response was a soft, warming smile, her trembling seized as she continued to wait for Jasper’s signal.

“Thank you, Steven.”

Tension was beginning to build up again as they waited for Jasper’s cry. Despite his consoling thoughts for Yellow, he wouldn’t be lying if he said h wasn’t feeling them himself.

Now!”

With Jasper’s sudden alarm, Steven immediately pulled either one of Blue and Yellow’s wrists in his hands and pushed them forward, barely registering when the quartz’s form disappeared in a fast blur.

“Come on, we have to get moving!” Both pearls did not hesitate to start their sprint as soon as Steven gave them a second shove, with Yellow nearly falling over hadn’t it been for the firm grasp against her arm.

They were going to do it- they were going to get Blue and Yellow set to Earth and then join them when the trial was conveniently cancelled. Blue and Yellow Diamond would never know. Pearl would be able to help them situate to life on Earth, Yellow and the orange sapphire would be able to finish their view, and most importantly, they’d be happy.

He slapped his foot against the wall in order to propel himself forward, keeping himself stabilized despite both arms being taken, giving him enough momentum to round himself around the corner.

Go back!”

Turning around the corner was probably the worst thing he’d ever done. Jasper’s cry came all too late- it wasn’t fast enough to warn them of the rose quartzes before they turned the corner, alerting the soldiers of their presence.

“T-Turn around!” Steven’s adrenaline reached an all time high as he released his grip from the pearls’ wrists, who immediately whipped to start their frantic run back in the opposite direction. Steven’s muscles locked as he picked up the sound of a gem destabilizer and Jasper’s gasp behind him.

He cried out when he felt a much larger weight crash into him from behind, sending him directly into the ground before he could comprehend what was going on. Shooting pain spiraled down his entire body as his head made contact with the hard floor below, and even then, what had to be a Quartz’s hand stayed pressed roughly against his back, even when he didn’t even know if he could sit up.

“Steven!” The faint cry of Blue and Yellow barely registered as his senses began to fade, his ears ringing painfully and sending more jolts of hurt through his system. With his vision blackening, he finally felt the pressure above him release, allowing him to cup his arm over his shooting head.

The last thing he registered was two distinct, far sounding shouts of panic before everything darkened.

 

Pain was the first thing that he recognized when he began to fade back into consciousness, overwhelming and dazing. Questions began to follow suit with what on Earth happened, he felt as if he couldn’t even open his eyes or move his body.

His senses began to sink back into his body, though the only thing he could hear was ringing in his ears. Groaning, Steven finally managed to pull his arms against his chest, observing how the floor was much colder than he expected.

Finally, his vision began to seep back into his system, albeit barely and very blurry. There was a lot of different shades of purple and black, and Steven knew immediately he was back at the trial room.

“Starlight…finally waking up,” relieved words came in and out as he struggled to his knees, one hand still pressing against the ground and keeping him hunched over his stomach. He wasn’t a doctor, but based on his loss of consciousness, the pain reeling in his head, and just about everything else, he had to have some sort of concussion for sure.

Finally, his vision nearly completely cleared, his confusion increased when he realized he wasn’t on his throne. Rather, he was in the center of the Diamond insignia printed against the ground, with three, large figures glaring down at him.

His hands reached out so he could raise himself to his feet, his palms traveling against the smooth stone. Hands pulled back in shock when he grazed over two round gemstones. He frantically slapped his hand back next to his thigh, and to his expectancy, meeting a sharp gemstone that prompted him to immediately flinch back, realization hitting him.

They failed.

“Starlight, that was a very dangerous thing you did,” finally words came clear, albeit dreaded. He couldn’t even meet her gaze. “What you did changed the entire course of this trial.”

“We’re disappointed in you, Pink,” Yellow Diamond pressed her elbow against her arm rest, disapprovingly shaking her head as her palms fled to rest against her temple. “Trying to help our pearls escape when they’ve admitted to their crimes?”

“This is only another charge for them, for your Jasper, too,” even Blue was stern, though sympathy and disappointment rolled off her tongue as well. “Pink, this is a charge for you.”

“What?!” A charge? That was ridiculous, he was a ‘Diamond’! They couldn’t punish him. “That’s not fair, if anything you’re not being fair! Why should they be punished for not doing something they don’t want to do?!”

“Pink, we all know you’re being silly,” White Diamond stood, making her all the while more towering and intimidating, her shadow looming over him.

“I’m not being silly!” All of the stress from everything was beginning to mix with his frustration, his costume suddenly becoming way too restraining. “You’re the ones forcing gems to do things they don’t want to do! It’s stupid!”

“Pink! Calm down!”

“No!” With the adrenaline coursing back through him, he finally managed to stand. His vision instantly filled with black dots and dizziness seeped into his pain, though he still stayed standing. “I’m tired of you guys thinking you’re better than anyone else! Better than me and forcing me to do things I don’t want to do!”

“I’m tired of all of this! If you’re going to keep on doing this to gems,” his right hand shot to his opposite arm, gripping the fabric of his glove with enough strength to instantly tear it. A loud rip filled the air as the glove was completely ripped off, and Steven did not hesitate to throw it on the ground.

“Then I’d rather be shattered!”

Anger had completely over taken him, hot tears streaming down his cheeks. Momentary pride filled his entire body as silence followed his final cry. However, it was quick to fade as soon as a furious scowl fell on White’s expression, and his pride was immediately replaced with horror.

“Shattered? You think that would be the best thing?” Steven’s eyes widened as White took a step forward, her heel clicking against the floor.

“Starlight, step back.”

Unconsciously, his entire body began to tremble as White Diamond took another step forward. Then another, and then another. His body was stricken with fear, unable to move despite White warning him to do so.

“W-What?”

“I said step back.” Despite her second warning, he still didn’t move. “Now.”

He nearly shrieked when White’s foot forcibly met his stomach, not hurting him any further, but pushing him back away from where he originally sat, his back sliding against the monolith floor. Without his glove on his left arm, his limb was no longer protected, however at the back of his mind as White’s heel shoved another item away from where she had stopped. Jasper’s gemstone halted right next to his foot.

Confusion was once again returning. What was she doing? If she was going to ‘shatter’ him, why did she push him out of her way? Why did she push Jasper, too?

Suddenly, it dawned upon him.

“No, no, no!” Rising back up onto his knees, panic seized his entire system. He felt his hand slip against the floor as his head screamed at him to stop, sending him back to the floor and landing against his shoulder. He couldn’t even focus on the hurt, all he cared about was how White lifted her foot above the ground, right where Blue and Yellow’s gemstones still laid-

“This is what you said would be best, Starlight. After all, we did agree we’d let you help pick the right punishment,” White’s tone was disappointed, though, he didn’t know if it was just his head or genuinely what was happening, he thought he could hear amusement in her words.

“Stop, please!”

White paid no attention to him. “No!”

Steven could only watch in horror as White’s foot came down hard, accompanied with the sound of fragile stone shattering under.

White’s foot rose moments after, leaving what was once two, circular gemstones, dozens of powder colored shards in its track. There were far too many to count, too tiny, and when the Diamond’s heel kicked back against the ground, even more shards fell from the flat of her shoe.

“Stars, what a mess,” White didn’t even seem phased at what she just did. Did she really feel no remorse for shattering two innocent gems? “We’ll have someone clean it up. You did say this was the best route to go, though.”

“…I-“

“Ah, ah, you’re not the one to talk, we still haven’t discussed your punishment, I have something in mind, though,” White’s head momentarily craned back to her fellow Diamonds, who both were just as shocked expressions as him. “For the next five weeks, you’re no longer permitted to leave back to Earth.”

“Five weeks?!”

“I think that’s more gracious than anything, Starlight. Your Jasper will reform way before then, and you’ll still have your communication device! In fact, I think you should go and let your little friends know that you won’t be coming back for a ‘bit’ longer than they think.”

 

Steven couldn’t even muster any excitement as the screen’s image froze, indicating that someone on the other side had picked up and the monitor was preparing to begin the chat.

“Steven!” the statically picture of the beach temple did nothing to ease his onslaught of melancholy, even with Peridot’s face pressed right against the screen. Behind her, he saw the forms of Garnet, as well as Rhodonite, Lars, Bismuth and the Rutiles in the background in the kitchen.

“Hello stranger,” Garnet shooed the green gem away from the front, who pulled back only slightly with mischievous giggling as her eyes darted out of view of the image. Something was going on, though he couldn’t find it in himself to ask.

“Hi,” much less enthusiastic than ever.

Garnet immediately frowned. “You look downcast.”

Again, another half-assed nod.

Her frown deepened for a moment, but almost instantly, to his surprise, a silly grin suddenly broke through her lips. “Thankfully, we have something that will cheer you up.”

Someone, assumingly Peridot, began to hit the sofa cushion as if she was playing a drum, followed by more excited snickering. Even the gems back against the counter had stopped what they were doing to glance at the commotion.

The arrival of Pearl and Amethyst suddenly on the screen filled him with more relief than he’ ever felt in his life.

“Pearl, Amethyst!” Despite what had happened, despite all that had happened, tears began to pour down his cheeks for only the second time that day, thankful for the wellbeing of his caretakers. When he was in the right mood, he’d have to compliment Pearl on her new jacket.

“We weren’t gone for that long, Steven!” Amethyst’s entertained grin was the best thing he’d ever seen at the moment. “Pearl came back earlier than she normally would!”

“I still missed you! Especially when you couldn’t come back with me to Homeworld!”

“Hey, don’t blame her,” the purple gem beamed. “We couldn’t schedule fighting a gem monster around an emergency trial! I never thought you’d ever want to be a judge when you grew up!”

“Your very first trial,” the thinner gem’s words were much more serious then Amethyst’s jabbing jokes. Not that he didn’t appreciate and enjoy them. “I wish I was there with you. When is it happening? Are you at recess?”

Steven’s mood immediately dropped. He knew the topic would come up, and that he would have to tell them about everything soon. “It actually already happened.”

“Really? How did it go?”

Steven didn’t want to respond. He wanted to cry all over again.

Garnet thankfully understood what had happened without having to say anything. “They didn’t win.”

He nodded with a deep sigh, still unable to find words. He was still trying to wrap his head around everything that had happened. It was impossible to think about- no bed for five weeks, no playing pranks with Amethyst and Jasper for five weeks. Not being with his family for five weeks.

Blue and Yellow were dead.

“And the punishment wasn’t soft.”

He knew now that he had to start saying something. They couldn’t guess what he needed to say with charades. “It was the worst punishment you could ever give to a gem.”

Amethyst’s eyebrows furrowed while Garnet and Pearl both simultaneously gasped, obvious in understandment to what had gone down. “You mean…execution?”

When Steven nodded, languidly and stricken, almost immediately, Pearl pulled herself into the front of the screen, her palm raised as if she were cupping his cheek over the screen.

“Oh, Steven, I’m so sorry! You should’ve never had to see something as traumatizing as a gem getting shattered right in front of you! When you get back to Earth I’ll be here, waiting for you,” Steven didn’t realize he was crying again until he felt salty tears soak the fabric of his sleeve,  his cheek burying against his shoulder. “If you can tell us, who was the gem?”

Steven’s gut dropped for the third time that day. He hadn’t even though about having to tell them who had been shattered, much less without an audience in the back. “It was actually two gems…”

“Two gems?” Amethyst raised an eyebrow. “Who were they?”

Steven couldn’t bring himself to say.

“Steven,” Garnet’s stern voice followed. “You can tell us who it was.”

He knew they were going to urge him on until he told them. They deserved to be told, especially Pearl. How was she going to react? Pearl, Blue and Yellow had known each other for thousands after thousands of years.

He had to do it. Finally, he sighed, his breath coming out in trembling rasps. “B-Blue and Yellow.”

“Diamond?!”

“N-No!” Not as if that would’ve been any worse. It would still be sad, but in his mind, he wondered if it would’ve been a bit easier. Yellow and Blue would never be able to experience life on Earth. They’d never fall victim to one of Amethyst’s jokes, reconcile and unite with Pearl, be the ones to boss around Peridot.

How could they do all of that when they were nothing but lifeless shards? “P-Pearl.”

Steven hated the silence. He had grown to despise it when he used to appreciate and long for it. Now, he avoided it as much as he could.

“Y-Yellow..and Blue?” Pearl, to his dismay, was the first to break the silence with her sudden gasp, her words accompanied with the delirious shake of her head. It broke his heart. “Y-You’re not serious!”

When he didn’t respond, a second choke of words rolled off her tongue, though undistinguishable. It was unbelievable how fast tears had formed. Suddenly, the screen’s image violently flew out of focus, leaving Steven with the sight of the ground and the lower half of the gems’ bodies. He could still hear commotion from the other side of the monitor.

In all of his life, Steven had never heard any of his caretakers sob so violently.

He gripped the ripped glove in his hand, tiny pieces of gem embroidered in its thread.

He felt like he was going to throw up.

Chapter Text

Steven didn’t know how long he slept after everything. It could’ve been a few hours, it could’ve been a few days. Stars, he could’ve been asleep for years, but still, when his eyes fluttered open, he was still exhausted. He could barely imagine the dark circles under his eyes.

Sleeping against the cold, smooth flooring of the ship had long past it’s annoyance, growing more tolerant to the morning soreness. However, with his shoulder and his no doubt concussion, his first reaction to waking up with his head tucked against his night bag was to cry. Thankfully, he managed to submerge that need.

“Hey,” he couldn’t tell any difference between when he was asleep versus when he woke up. Everything was still nearly black, everything seemed to spin in circles, and he knew shouldn’t be hearing voices. He should be alone save for Jasper’s gem that he had refused to let go of for the past-

“Jasper!” He pushed his head off of his bag, slapping his hands across the ground as he twisted his body to face the other. His movements were met with almost immediate pain from his head, pounding against his skull and overwhelming his senses.

“Careful, careful,” as soon as he felt his knees began to buckle under him, he felt a warm hand clasp under his stomach, gently aiding him back to his original position slumping against his bag. Through his decreasing faze, he could pinpoint the figure of the orange quartz looming over him.

“You’re finally back,” Steven’s next sigh rolled off his tongue shakier than he would’ve liked, but with finally another figure with him that he didn’t despise, his discomfort was thrown out the window. “I was getting really scared!”

“I’ve been back for a bit, I just didn’t want to wake you up,” with Jasper learning the important functions of a human and the necessities they needed to live, at home he often couldn’t count how many times he was bombarded with questions of ‘did you eat today?’ and ‘have you accomplished your median amount of unconsciousness?’ from the gem. “You’ve been out for some time.”

“I think I have a concussion,” Steven knew he had one. Headache, sensitivity to light, nausea, confusion, there were too many symptoms that paired up. He was thankful it was something that would eventually subdue with rest- had he needed medicine or treatment of some sort, with the Diamonds basically keeping him hostage, he would be a goner.

“From earlier,” the taller gem craned her head to glance out across the window, her eyebrow quirked in confusion when, rather than galaxies and stars, she was met with the sight of the ship dock outside. “I’m guessing we didn’t escape.”

“Right on.”

“And Yellow and Blue…?”

“Shattered,” Steven didn’t want to cry again, even with the knot forming in his throat. That was the only thing he couldn’t process yet. Five weeks on Homeworld would be difficult, yet hopefully manageable. But knowing that Yellow and Blue were gone, all because of his stupid idea, it was hard to even think about. Especially with the gems back home, processing and probably realizing he was at fault, too.

“Jasper,” mustering the strength to push himself against his bag, nearly in an upright position, he rolled his neck against his shoulder, still bleeding into the pain coursing through his body. “The communicator is somewhere; can you find it and get it set up please?”

“Sure thing.”

With Jasper up and traveling along the ship, Steven was once again brought into the silence that he hated with every part of him. It meant that he had nothing to distract himself with, and he had to think about the last time he saw either of the pearls, watching with terrified expressions as he was brought down by a rose quartz. They were probably horrified, and with Yellow never being poofed before, to his dismay, he didn’t think the shattering could get any more traumatizing.

White said she’d give him a few days to recover before he had to return to his duties, but how long had he been asleep for? Did he still have an entire two days to recover, or would a rose quartz be barging into his ship at any time to escort him to his next duty?

He could start his ship right at this moment. He could drive the ship out of this dock and take it back throughout space, not stopping until it landed against the grainy sand of Earth. Something, however, was stopping him.

His first escape attempt didn’t turn out good at all.

“He’s not doing good right now,” Jasper’s voice from down the hall broke him from his thoughts, the aspect of Jasper in a conversation hanging him in a moment of anticipation. His family? An amethyst sent to check in on him? His dread was short lived when the quartz rounded the corner, communicator in hand. The faint lines of Garnet through the screen filled his entire body with relief.

“I want to see her, now!” Impatience was at its highest point as his arms shot straight into the air, unable to hear anything from the other side of the monitor. Even just hearing Garnet’s soothing voice would ease his worries.

It felt like way too long before he finally felt the quartz plant right next to him, and finally, he could hear the low drawl of Garnet’s smooth words. “Good morning, Steven.”

“Garnet! I miss you so much! I-I-It feels so long s-since we’ve talked a-and-“

“Steven, let’s calm down for a minute,” realizing he was probably drowning the screen in his tears and snot, he backed away upon Garnet’s request, forcing himself to exhale forcefully though his nose.

“Better?”

“Better. How long was it since the last call?”

Garnet tilted her head away from the monitor, most likely at the window, her lips pulled into a thoughtful frown. “Around a day and a half now.”

Alright, so he wasn’t out for too long. “I really think there’s something wrong with my head. I feel like someone hit me with a hammer for an entire hour straight.”

“Take it easy for the next few days,” Garnet’s words were uncertain, something Steven didn’t blame him for. As if White Diamond would understand humans enough to know that he needed to stay resting in order to not get worse. “If we do need to get you back and checked out, we will, one way or another.”

He lifted his still bare arm, swiping it across against his nose as another sniffle threatened to roll off his tongue. Pearl would be disappointed if she knew he was wiping his nose with his arm. The topic of his thin caretaker suddenly filtered through his brain. “How’s Pearl?”

That’s when the fusion’s frown increased. “Amethyst’s been with her in her room since. The last time I checked, she finally fell asleep. She wanted to leave for Homeworld last night, but we managed to convince her to recover until at least tonight.”

Of course, she’d want to be there for him, even when she was grieving, too. “She doesn’t need to come back, she’ll get mad at me if she did. It’s my fault Yellow and Blue are gone.”

“Tell me what you mean.”

“If I hadn’t tried to help them escape, they would’ve been alive right now! Sure, in Homeworld prison, but they wouldn’t be shattered! Now they’re in shards. They’re…gone,” even after an entire day after the events of the trial, it was still hard to take in. Blue and Yellow were no longer pearls. They were shards of dust that were already probably somewhere in atmosphere, somewhere floating off in the galaxy, particles of who they once were the only physical reminder that they ever existed.

“Steven, things happen that can be beyond our control. This is one of those things,” Steven barely felt interested in the taller’s words. “You rightfully tried to save them from punishment. What White Diamond decided to do was not your doing.”

“It feels like it…” oh, if he could just travel back in time. If he could travel back in time and convince Blue and Yellow to change their pleas back to innocent. Or if he could grab onto their gemstones before White could push him out of the way. Out of all of the outcomes that that day could’ve had, why did it have to be this one? “Garnet, I’m sorry, but I really feel like going back to sleep now.”

“That’s okay, Steven, you’re tired,” Garnet was unconditionally supportive. Even when he had technically shattered two gems. “I’ll let you rest now, and I’ll let the others know how you’re doing.”

“Tell them I love them. Good night, Garnet.”

“Goodnight.”

 

Motivation was at an all time low. Even the aspect of watching new gems emerge, emerge on his own planet, filled him with dread. He knew his mindset would not let him enjoy watching new life become created- he’d just think, some day or another, in millions of years or in one, they’d all be reduced to nothing but shards.

Especially without Pearl by his side, he felt like nothing more but a lost puppy. Jasper’s presence was a comfort, but everything just felt much too dreary without the war veteran’s ecstatic facts about the climate of the colony or the countless stories of his mother and her first times with a colony, too.

“Steven,” with a calloused hand resting against his covered shoulder, he ripped his gaze from the walls of the colony, still as monochromatic and as lifeless as ever to gaze upwards at the larger quartz. “The past few days have been tough, but let’s try to enjoy this at least, okay?”

Steven couldn’t help but smile at her words of encouragement. “I’ll try to enjoy it as much as I can.”

“You can ‘enjoy’ it as soon as you two start actually moving,” a third, more stern voice from above broke the conversation at hand, the bright, palanquin following closely behind with her unamused remark. He still didn’t understand how she had recovered so quickly. The lack of a pearl standing at her throne side made him uncomfortable- something he never thought would happen. “The peridots are ready for the first quartzes to emerge. If you don’t want to miss the show, pay attention.”

Jasper looked as if she was about to say something in response, however her lips sealed shut, and instead, she pushed gently along Steven’s backside, urging him closer to the stationed gems, who looked as if they were about to shatter with boredom.

“Jasper, what was it like when you first emerged?” Steven had heard the Rubies briefly talk about her emergence, with heavy emphasis with taking down battalions of Crystal Gems by sundown. That meant she had to be around seven to eight thousand years old.

“When I first emerged?” The quartz raised an eyebrow at the question, her gaze stripping from the environment in front of them to the sky, glazed and in thought. “I don’t remember specifically pushing outside of my hole, but I do remember right after,” she shook her head, her unruly hair, even tied up, shaking across her shoulders. “All of those gems gawking at me with unbelieved expressions. I was the greatest quartz that came from the kindergarten in their eyes. They never had to tell me anything. By the next sundown, I was already part of the top tiers who had taken down the most Crystal Gems.”

He could imagine now why many gems from the Beta turned out ‘off colored’. During the war, both sides were probably doing as much as they could to increase their rankings and numbers, and if hastily creating gem after gem was one of their tactics, it was definitely one that they took out from Beta.

“So you were made because of the war?” 

“Yep. They wanted to crank out as many gems as they could from Earth’s ecosystem, especially with the planet’s ownership in torn hands,” that made sense, too.

“Does that mean you met mom before?”

“’Met’ is what you could call it,” the quartz hummed. “I never got to battle her myself, especially not with the Renegade basically attached to her side with her swords drawn, but we shared some words. At one point, she asked me to join them. Back then, the idea was immediately revoked and punted down. But now?”

“You wish you took it?”

She nodded. “But then again, no one had even a single suspicion that Rose and Pink were the same gem. I met other Crystal Gems in the war, too. Bismuth made a dent in me all right.”

Steven recalled one of the many sparring matches he had observed from the sidelines back home. Sometimes it was just Jasper and Garnet, but at sometimes, Bismuth and even Amethyst and Pearl would join in. It was always a spectacle to watch, sometimes he’d forget that they were ever on the opposite team.

Steven gasped sharply when the sound of graveling from one of the rock rolls to his left begin to ring across the empty kindergarten, accompanied by specks of tiny rocks that began to cascade down the tilt of rock. His lips curled into a grin; the first gem was beginning to emerge.

“Jasper, Jasper,” his hand tugged indignantly against the fabric of the other’s uniform, not even bothering when a hand pressed against his shoulder, easing him back. “They’re coming! They’re coming!”

Stress from the past days seemed to clear his mind momentarily, anticipation building up as the rock’s gentle rumbling began to unholster louder and louder. Finally, the rock burst, chips of pebbles flying in every direction, even towards him. He was only protected by another injury with Jasper pushing him behind her thigh, effectively shielding him from any more harm.

‘Steam’ filtered from the wall, leaving him unable to see anything from within the rock. However, a dim outline of a large figure began to emerge from the smoke, a single boot stepping out onto the ground below. He had just witnessed what was the equivalent of childbirth.

It was obvious it was a Jasper right away- orange fiery skin that only interrupted between stripes of burning red throughout her body, the tall stature that could be comparable even to the Quartz standing right next to him (“A lot of the energy from the Beta Kindergarten was instructed on me,” she had explained earlier, “That’s way many of the others from there came out how they weren’t supposed to. I’m somewhat taller than the average quartz.”), and, despite just being spawned into life multiple moments ago, no confusion whatsoever seemed to bother the new gem.

A shove against his shoulder prompted him to turn up, facing his caregiver with a curious glance. Did Jasper want him to do something?

“Aren’t you going to introduce her? You are her Diamond, after all.”

She was right! This was the entire reason why they were here, after all. However, just as soon as he was about to step forward and strike a conversation with the quartz, now observing her environment with thoughtful eyes, Yellow Diamond’s stern voice caused him to stop in his tracks.

“You’ll be doing that later. The peridots need as much space as they need now that the rest of the new gems will be coming out at anytime,” her last words trailed with a low thunder, and Steven only realized then, turning his body around, that Yellow wasn’t even looking at them. Instead, she was content to glare at a summoned screen with an intent frown, her expression one of stress and confusion. “And I have a lot to do manage all of this alone. Once all of the new gems have emerged and have been gathered, that’s when you’ll give your speech.”

If there was one thing he wanted to be promised, it would be that he’d be told if he was speaking in public way before the hours pending the speech. He needed more time to prepare, and the aspect of having to talk in front of a crowd of gems threw him into a spiraling loophole. It was the equivalent of talking in front of a crib of newborns.

Or course, newborns that were already completely developed, already able to comprehend and judge.

 

“I know I’ve told you about them but meeting them is a whole other experience!” Left to run off to their own activities until Yellow Diamond called them for the speech, Steven, since the start, knew completely what he wanted to do with Jasper.

“And you met them how?” The quartz, still hesitant, pressed her arms across her chest, her posture still as frigid as when he had first announced meeting the trio of water gems he had befriended. He didn’t want to judge at all, what happened under the ocean as Malachite was traumatizing to him, what it had been like for Jasper, he could barely imagine.

“Pearl and I met them while they were terraforming all of the rivers on the planet! They’re all really fun, though Magnificent can be a little shy sometimes.”

He didn’t know where he’d find them. With the rivers and lakes of this planet restored to Yellow Diamond’s satisfaction, there was no way to tell where they were. The fear of the trio already back on Homeworld, galaxies away on their next mission, dropped his heart from his chest. “At least, I think you’ll get to meet them.”

“Gems stationed constructing a colony usually stay there until the colony is complete, even when their duties are done,” Steven had completely underestimated how much of a help Jasper would be in explaining gem culture and life. Pearl may be the most experienced with the most information, but, he had to remember, Jasper was also on Homeworld for thousands of years.  “A bad decision now that I think about it, especially when the quartzes began to grow restless and the aquamarines grew bored of standing around.”

“So that means they have to be here somewhere,” as if they would just drop from the sky. They were on an entire planet. It could take days to find them.

“Hey!” Or maybe not.

Craning his head, he nearly recoiled in surprise when a drop of water splattered onto his nose. Confusion and belittlement were soon replaced with mischief when a faint, blue form in the sky finally drew into his vision.

“Cheeky!” Waving his hands frantically in the air, nearly hitting Jasper’s hip multiple times, he watched with exhilaration as two more figures from the sky began to land, despite one crooked. With a gemstone on her cheek, the first lapis obviously worked much harder to keep her balance airborne. He could barely imagine what it had to be like, he couldn’t even imagine being able to fly period.

His excitement paused when he felt the muscles of his companion violently lock, her breath obviously stopping in her throat. Had he gone too far in wanting Jasper to meet the group of water gems? Was it too early for her?

“Hey,” the other jerked back in surprise when a warm hand was placed against her hip, thought relief was beginning to seep through his system when she began to move again, her head titled to stare at him with a bewildered expression. “If you can’t do this, I can tell them we want to be alone right now. There’s no shame in doing it.”

Jasper seemed thoughtful for a moment, taken back by the sheer concern expressed. Then, she smiled, sliding Steven’s hand off her hip and instead curling it into her own fist. “I’ll be alright.”

“Please let me know if we need to stop,” he knew recovery was a long process, and knowing Jasper, she was most likely harboring some sort of mold that she needed to run into everything, stay brave and never back down. He just wanted her to know it was brave already taking these steps.

He kept a watchful glance on Jasper as the trio finally landed, relief and excitement in their forms, especially with Cadet stepping forward first.

“We thought you were never coming back!” Steven hadn’t been gone for too long. Maybe lapis lazulis had a less remarkable sense of time? “We were just about ready to form a memorial for you!”

“Things have been busy the past week,” he cleared up, “I had to take a few days and recover. Especially with my head,” he still felt extremely dizzy almost all the time. He knew he needed more time to rest, but he owned a colony, and they were calling on him to be there for them when it was in its very first baby steps. If that meant he had to risk making his injury worse, he needed to risk that. He didn’t exactly have a choice.

“Just like when you hit your head when we first met you, and Pearl put that weird strip on your head!” The paler of the three began to scope the area surrounding them, confusion mixed into her features. “Where is she?”

“She’s on Earth. She needs time to recover after what happened, too.”

“What happened?”

It was demeaning to him how fast the mood could change. Why did every single thing conversation the past few days always end up to this topic? “We had a trial, and Blue and Yellow’s pearls ended up getting shattered.”

“You have a close relationship with them?”

Steven’s nod held no hesitation.

“I never gave them a second glance,” with Magnificent’s first muster of the day, Steven realized that not everyone would be so saddened at the news. Shocked, certainly, but unfortunately, he was sure most gems never gave them a second glance either. “What did they do to get that to happen to them?”

“They wanted to come back to Earth with me,” he pushed away the negative terms he knew could turn the conversation the wrong way. Traitorism. Escape. Rebellion. He still had to remind himself that everyone he talked to on Homeworld was still Homeworld. “I really miss them, and so does Pearl. I don’t know what to do for her to help her feel better. She insists on getting back here by the end of the night there…Whenever that is.”

“Don’t know what to do to help her feel better?”

“She misses them, she was their friend for thousands of years,” he could barely fathom the closeness of their relationship, something he had never taken into perspective until it was too late. “Humans have different ways to deal with their grief, but with gems..”

His voice trailed off when an idea, a messy one, suddenly pulled into the front of his brain. His gaze shot to many directions in a short amount of time. First, to Jasper, then to the water gems. The empty expanse of land that spread out for miles only fueled his need for his plan. “You guys have water stored here?”

“At the ship, why?”

“I have an idea that we need to start right now!”

 

Being called back by Yellow Diamond via communicator, right in the middle of their plan, was something he wanted to desperately shoo off. He was in his space, spilling information and ideas to the trio of water gems and Jasper, but he knew he had duties that abided elsewhere. Thankfully, the water gems agreed to keep on working while he was gone. He’d be back to help soon.

However, riding along in Yellow Diamond’s palanquin had to be one of the most exciting things he had ever experienced.

While we’re still constructing your own to suit your new preference, you will be giving your speeches in here,” he could barely hear the other’s words through the vibrations that were rumbling from the palanquin’s floor and driving him crazy with annoyance. Yellow obviously couldn’t feel them considering her size, but with his stature and how overhung the palanquin was to him, it was like taking a plane trip with extreme turbulence.

“Can’t I j-just give my speech outside?”

“You’ll be talking in front of an entire kindergarten, Pink,” the other spat, all too impatient. Without her pearl to help her with the factors of constructing a colony, he was sure she was about to implode from stress. “You’ll be overseeing them from a cliff, but if you think they’ll be able to see you in anywhere but a throne when you look like that, you must have really left your wits on Earth.”

“I’m going to be sitting in your throne?!”

“Don’t get too flattered, Pink.”

The rumbling of the palanquin finally eased to a stop, prompting him to whip back around and face outside in front of him.

Yellow Diamond was right, no one would be able to see him without getting on the throne. Dozens of quartzes were filed into the gargantuan space, filing all along the different levels of dark rock and cliff edges, flooding his vision for as long as he could see. They were all pushed against each other, gathering around the various arrays of quartz-shaped holes that edged all along the stone now. It was as if they hadn’t been created moments ago, there were already cliques, laughter, and friendships. Around the darkened, striped walls of the kindergarten, multiple peridots were practically pushed against the colored rock. Even from far away, he could spot the stress in their statures.

“You better prepare yourself, Pink,” the fellow diamond’s words were amused, and from his peripheral vision, he could spot a newborn, leering grin curling against her lips. “This is the most rowdy group of quartzes I have ever seen.”

Fun.

As Yellow Diamond stood, he could practically feel when all of the quartzes turned her direction, almost as if they were blown away with the sheer size of the other gem. He was sure they didn’t have a single clue about what was going on. Pearl’s words conspired in his brain. They probably knew they were soldiers, but if they knew nothing about the Diamonds and Homeworld, and he had to explain everything? He was preparing for a mess.

“Hop on, Pink,” with Yellow Diamond effectively pulling herself to the side of the palanquin, Steven was given more than enough space to adjust himself onto the throne. Knowing that as soon as he stepped onto the smooth marble of the seat, hundreds of eyes would fall on him. Anxiety began to course through his body.

Finally summoning the courage to pull himself onto the seat, he nearly toppled over again when series of unbidden gasps sounded from the hundreds of gems below. He felt sorry for all of these gems. They were going to be given the worst induction of their lives, and it had just started.

“Hello, everyone,” when he realized his voice was most likely far too quiet for the quartzes below to hear, he brought his fist to his lips, clearing his throat before continuing.

“I am Pink Diamond. I am your diamond. You’re probably confused about all of this, like why me being a diamond is so important to you,” he hated everything he was saying. What would he have to say to them next? That they had to do what they were made to do unless they wanted to see the merciless punishment of shattering? That they got no say in what they wanted to do? “Us, the four diamonds, are the leaders of our intergalactic empire, Homeworld. You are soldiers. You will be a key part of expanding our empire.”

“Very good so far, Pink,” Yellow’s whispered encouragement did not make him feel better. However, before he could continue, the taller diamond apparently found the need to finish his speech. “You will be expected to follow your duties as you are ordered. Listen to your agates and do as you’re told. After this, you will be sent to the examine stations. You will be inspected for any flaws,  and get assigned to your very first missions. You will be required to stay on your best behavior as the peridots take you cut by cut to each station. Homeworld does not tolerate any messing around,” except if you were a diamond, of course. A son of a diamond, at least. “We expect you to follow your duties. As you first enter the world of Homeworld, you will see that each gem is made for a purpose. Agates are made to manage and oversee work, lapis lazulis terraform water and prepare planets for colonization. As soldiers, you uphold our empire. You help hold our empire together, but that does not mean you are important. Each and every one of you are easily disposable. If we find the need to rid of you, we will not be hesitant.”

Steven wanted no part of this.

“Pink Diamond will oversee as you pass through your inspections and will approve each and every one of you. This will be your first impression on your Diamond. Do not disappoint her.”

 

He wanted nothing more than to collapse onto the ground right there.

He had been standing for at least two hours, he knew for sure. Watching quartz after quartz pass by him with the intent to sweep him off his feet was tiring. When he was finally excused from his duties by Yellow Diamond, he was relieved when he found Jasper waiting by Yellow’s palanquin. He didn’t try to protest when he was brought into strong arms.

“I feel like I want to fall asleep forever.”

“Try to stay awake for at least a few more hours,” Jasper had yet to release him from her arms, something he didn’t complain about. “While you were gone, the gems on Earth got onto the communicator. Pearl should be here at any time. In fact, the water trio are waiting at the dock right now for the Sun Incinerator.”

With the news of his caretaker’s arrival, Steven felt the tiredness pulling at his limbs immediately numb. “Does that mean…?”

“That we finished the project? It looks better than we thought,” he was relieved that Jasper eased into the presence of the lapis lazulis, even forming the beginnings of a friendship with them. It was a great step forward, and later, he’d have to praise her on completing such a huge step of her recovery.

“Do you think Pearl’s going to like it?”

“She’s going to love it,” he was sure he was going to love it, too. He hadn’t known the two pearls for nearly as long as Pearl had, but with his tendency to form emotional bonds quickly, it came as no surprise to him that he was excited to at the aspect of anything helping ease his thoughts.

The planet’s sun was beginning to sink over the horizon, leaving everything around in a warm, spiraling darkness that covered more ground with every inch the star sank lower. Rather than the planet getting colder during the night, it was almost as if it grew warmer, though it was a welcoming change. With no where else to turn to, his gaze turned to focus on the tiny cracks that spilled along the ground, not interrupted save for the occasional boulder that stood in its way, and the farther his eyes trailed, the sharp turns of mountains and ruts of plateaus made him feel slightly less homesick. One day he and Pearl would need to explore the planet more before it was colonized. The planet had been completely deprived from life from the start, but certainly not from beauty.

“Someone’s here!” a cry from behind immediately drilled away all relaxation that had fallen onto his body as he watched the environment in front of him. He crawled out of the other’s lap, nearly planting against his face multiple times before finally reaching his feet. Turning his gaze to the original shout, his heart beat increased immediately when four figures came into his vision, including the one it felt he hadn’t seen in forever.

“Pearl!” His powers were spiraling out of control from the start of his sprint. With each step he took, he felt his heel ball up involuntarily no matter how hard her tried to continue. The urge to jump was strong, even if it would take much longer to wait to fall to the ground than the sluggish pace he kept at right now. Thankfully, the thinner gem was much faster without his power, a bag he barely registered slipping off her narrow shoulders as she closed in the rest of the distance between them.

Bringing the other in against him felt like the most relieving thing he had ever done, and it was like a breath he was keeping in for the past few days was finally being let out.  When strong hands cupped over the top of his head, he buried his face against the other’s stomach, his own hands finding shelter in pulling around the other’s waist as tight as he could.

“I missed you so much!” Finally pulling away from Pearl, he began to spot the signs of the exhaustion she showed. Deep bags under her eyes exposed what she had been doing back home, the tiredness in her eyes, even right now in a moment of relief, making his point stand clear. He could always tell when she had been crying, saying she hadn’t been doing that almost constantly would be a flat out and obvious lie.

“I missed you too,” a gentle hand pulled against his cheek, wiping away a single tear he didn’t even realize had fallen until it was brushed off. “Oh, you must be so exhausted with everything that has happened!”

“You too, Pearl. You were their best friend,” Pearl looked as if she was about to break down sobbing, something he wouldn’t be surprised happened multiple times earlier that day. “I really wish you would’ve given yourself more time to rest.”

“Amethyst has been counseling me nonstop. I needed to make sure you were alright t-too,” sure enough, her last word trailed off into a sharper gasp than usual, and he was genuinely concerned she was about to hyperventilate again. “Seeing a gem get shattered in front of your eyes.”

“No, no, no,” both were obviously surprised with the announcement of a third voice, interrupting them and breaking them from their conversation. “No crying yet, not right here.”

“Right here?”

“We made a surprise for you!” Steven finally pulled himself off of Pearl, watching as two figures from behind aided her from the ground by her shoulders. “I haven’t seen it done yet, though!”

“It’s this way,” Jasper was obviously prompt to lead the way to the big surprise, already beginning to walk in the direction he knew lead to where he was sure Pearl would for sure cry.

“Should I be scared?” Despite her obvious hesitance, she followed in suit with the mediocre pace put into place, especially when Steven’s hand began to tuck at her wrist.

“Not at all.”

 

Despite being up on his feet for at least three hours, the fifteen-minute walk that it took to get to their surprise seemed like nothing. It felt like he was gravitating, even. He was exhilarated for Pearl’s reaction, excited for his own reaction too. He hadn’t seen it yet, after all.

“Alright, it’s just over this corner,” the ‘corner’, the wall of the almost complete kindergarten, was just feet away from him. After that, it was open space as far as the eye could see. His excitement was at an all time high. “Magnificent, Cheeky, will you?”

He recoiled back when his vision was suddenly covered by two, cold hands, prompting a physical shiver to spiral down his spine. His steps were unruly as he felt himself being led around the corner, his hands sprawled in front of him to keep his sense of direction. However, he relaxed when Jasper’s words started back again. “Are you two ready for this?”

Before either could respond, he felt the pressure against his eyes release, allowing them to flutter open and adjust back to the return of his vision.

Almost immediately, he gasped.

A colossal moat dug from the gravel replaced what was once a flat, rocky surface, scooped in an expansive cirque that was so wide he had to crane his head to see it all. A polished rectangular outskirt raised from the trench, containing a sunny pool of water that displayed the setting sun in its reflection, turning the liquid shades of warm yellows and reds. The most beautiful part, however, was the constructed geyser that spiraled to the very top of the refined ditch, sending water trickling down platform after platform that reminded him of stars. Pretty stairs. How they managed to do all of this in such a short amount of time, creating this from gravel and water, was a mystery to him.

“So, what do you think?” He only realized he was speechless when a low rumble from the orange quartz from behind broke him from his amazement. He didn’t respond himself, instead turning to the thinner gem to observe her reaction. She was obviously just as blown away as him, more even, with a loosely curled hand resting just above her lips, her entire expression glazed with astonishment.

 “I-“ she was obviously too taken back to respond just yet, though it didn’t stop her from attempting to speak. A second, heavy inhale made her approval known.

“It’s not just a fountain, you know,” Steven watched as Jasper placed a hand against Pearl, covering nearly the entire small of her back. “Go look at it, look at the border.”

Once again taking his caretaker’s hand into his own, he led the other to the edge of the fountain, peering over where smooth gravel opened to the pool of water. Chiseled lines, obviously snaked in by a sharp rock with its somewhat messy work, pressed along the stone. Gem language. Pearl was thankfully there to translate, her hand trailing against the engravements.

“Canary,” her quiet whisper followed her head turning to the next script of writing. Her lips curled into a confused frown, her eyes narrowed. “Blue Jay?”

“It was the only blue bird from Earth that I remembered the name of. Does it fit?”

She turned back to the fountain, even when her gaze pulled to Steven as the grip against her hand tightened. Relief rang through his entire form when a smile crawled onto her lips.

“It really does.”

As the sun brought the last of the light of the day from the sky, moonlight illuminated against the water, and with the warm night air blowing past the fountain, rolling off the mausoleum, Steven found himself slackening for the first time since the events of the trial.  

It wasn’t bringing Blue and Yellow back to life, but it was close enough.

Chapter Text

“Steven!”

A final cry from his dream finally woke him up, his entire body jolting as he pushed himself from the ground. His sudden movements prompted pain to immediately shoot through his entire body, his vision instantly feeling as if it had cut off.

“Steven!” Through his frantic gasps of pain, he could feel two apprehensive hands rest themselves against his quivering shoulders, easing him back down into his citadel of pillows. “Take deep breaths, Steven,” soothing words echoed throughout his hearing, the only way recognizing Pearl by the blurred thin stature in his vision, leaning over his form and continuing to perform its comforting ministrations. The rose-colored backdrop annoyed him to no end.

A hand trailed away from his shoulder, sliding along his chin and up along the side of his face to press against his forehead. The gentle coo from the gem above him did nothing to ease his anxiety.

“Your fever hasn’t gone down at all yet,” the lack of sufficient rest after his injuries from the trial, to none of his surprise, had ended up biting him in the backside at the end. The only reason why he wans’t completely shriveled by now was the medicine Pearl had brought along with her on her way back to the colony.

“It’ll go down soon,” he felt the muscle of his lower lip twitch as he pushed the other’s hand away from his body, pulling the sheet wrapped around his form closer against his chest. It felt as if he couldn’t even handle the tiniest of light or the most minuscule amount of movement. He wasn’t trying to be mean, his entire body just felt like it would break apart with the tiniest of stimulation. “How much more time until we get to our next station?”

“You still have a few more hours of sleep,” Steven had let Pearl know from the start; she didn’t need to stay the entire five weeks he had to. However, just a week after a trial, after being on his colony for five days, Pearl had made her mind-or at least told Steven her mind- that she was going to stay as long as he did. When he began to protest, she had told him that soon, when he saw the ‘surprise’ she was planning, he wouldn’t mind at all. “But first you need another dose of Strawberry Action Fever- Be-Gone.”

“But Pearl! I’ve already had some today!”  He watched with trepidation as the thinner gem pulled herself onto her knees, shuffling through her bag. He wouldn’t have minded having to take the syrup if it wasn’t the most disgusting thing he had ever tasted.

“That was already six hours ago, you need as much as you can if you’re going to recover quickly! You know White Diamond is impatient when it comes to how fast you start your duties,” her words held some truth, even if it did nothing to make him cringe in disgust when the bottle was finally pulled from the bag. The cap flicking straight off was the most terrifying sound he had ever heard.

“It tastes so disgusting!”

“Do you know what would taste even more horrifying?” She paused for added emphasis. “You getting sick while we’re in White Diamond’s court, or even in front of White herself. Now open up.”

Steven didn’t not want to take the medicine. Subconsciously, maybe he was procrastinating falling back asleep. The same, reoccurring nightmare from months ago had seemed to plague his dreams more and more with each passing week. Now, the only thing not affected by it was his sight. Everything else; the cold metal grasping his wrists, the buzzing and crying of an indistinguishable voice, everything else felt too real to him. It made sleeping, a basic necessity of the human body, a disgusting activity he wanted to avoid as much as possible.

“That wasn’t too bad, was it?” Once the medicine was reluctantly swallowed down, disgustingly slipping down his throat, nearly making him gag on the spot, he shifted his body again, freeing the trapped piece of fabric from under his leg. “You can go back to sleep now.”

“I’m not tired anymore.”

“Steven, you need as much rest as you can. You have a fever, you have a concussion, and your shoulder was on the verge of dislocation,” another perk of having Pearl with him was her expanse of medical knowledge. She wasn’t a professional, but he knew that she had probably read book after book about human conditions and how they affect someone’s body before he was born. It wouldn’t surprise him, being the prepared, organized gem she was.

“But-“

‘Steven, no buts,” her sterner words, her tone sharply changing, was definitely the last straw that prompted him to shut up and clasp his lips together.

“Will you at least stay with me please?” Pearl was obviously unable to say not to his plea, slipping back against his waist and pulling him closer to her body. Relaxation completely swept over his body when he felt tender hands pull over his shoulders. Maybe Pearl would end up falling asleep. Internally, he hoped so; Pearl was trying to keep a strong front, obviously, but there was no way she wasn’t grieving still. He hoped that she’d drift off to the grasps of dream land, and as he felt his consciousness fade, he hoped that sometime or another, the other’s grip against him would soften and she would soon follow suit.

 

Fear burst through his entire body when nothing but empty darkness greeted him the next time his eyes fluttered open. Black spread as far as his eye could see in all directions, which mean, unfortunately for him, another nightmare was about to follow suit.

His eyes tapered in uncertainty as he glanced down at himself, for the first time in that dream sequence, able to see his actual body. During this dream, he never saw his own body. He never saw anything. However, this time, he could see himself, and he could move. There was a lack of the chain he usually felt encompass his wrists, and for some reason, the sprawling lack of light all around him seemed a shade more toned than usual.

This wasn’t his nightmare.

But it wasn’t also just a regular dream. He never had dreams like this. His dreams were always unusual, whether it be Lion driving a van or Garnet growing an extra set of eyes (really, he recalled, now that he thought about it was probably more nightmarish than strange). He felt completely aware. He only felt this way when using his powers.

Was he communicating with someone? The last time he had done it was during Garnet’s wedding. His telepathy powers only seemed to work under some sort of distress, but who was under distress? He couldn’t have been communicating with Pearl; she would not be asleep that quickly. A diamond? A gem back on Earth?

Unable to answer any of his questions himself, his body lurched throughout the entirety of the midnight around him, looking for some sort of answer tat he could put his mind on.

He paused immediately when his eyes finally latched onto a faint figure in the distance. It was still bleary, but with each second passing by, he was able to pinpoint more and more features from the form. He definitely wasn’t communicating with a quartz, anyone big for that matter. Definitely not a diamond. His bewilderment cascaded when he was finally able to identify the figure, and by the way the other twisted her body around to make eye contact with him, he knew that right away, this definitely was not a dream.

It couldn’t be…

“YELLOW!” Adrenaline surged through his entire form as his legs involuntarily began to drive himself forward, each step growing more and more unsteady as relief pulled at every single one of his actions. He wasn’t going fast enough; he was running way too slow. Even meeting the other figure right now would be too slow. He wanted to be reunited with her days ago.

Finally meeting the other body in a run in of gem and human, his emotions wasted no time getting to the best of him, large droplets of tears streaming down his face as he felt the other almost frantically wrap thin arms over his body.

“I-I’m so happy to see you! I thought you were shattered!” Truth be told, he knew that she had been shattered. He had seen it with his own eyes, he had seen her gemstone become reduced to nothing but dust.

“Oh stars, no!” Yellow’s prompt cry finally caused him to pull back from where his face had been buried against her thin shoulder, observing how deliriously the other shuddered against him. She was probably terrified out of her mind. “I’m not shattered! At least, I don’t think.”

“You must be just poofed,” but he had seen her get shattered. What was going on?!

Only then did he realize more about the other’s form.

Everything looked almost completely the same as before, save for the protracted line that drew all the way from the edge of the her jaw, down to her shoulder, replacing what was once cream uninterrupted skin with a somber yellow, tiny cracks slithering from the original draw.

“What on Earth is that?!” Immediately, Steven tumbled back away from the other completely, landing against the hyperborean floor of the shadow around them. His eyes stayed planted on the long slash, even when Yellow twisted her head and let a hand fall over against her shoulder. “What happened?!”

“I-I don’t know! I found it like that! After getting poofed during our escape, I just-“ she paused, obviously trying to sort through whatever events that had pursued. “I think I reformed once, but everything was so white. There was a voice, and then I came back here! In complete darkness!”

“C-Can you move it?”

“Barely!”

Steven didn’t know anything about poofing personally, he couldn’t be poofed- at least, he didn’t think-, but why on Earth did she have a crack throughout her form? Why was she alive?

He had seen a similar crack like that before. Permanent on a gem’s body, stuck on their form forever. Yes, that’s right White’s pearl-

“White.”

“What?”

“White Diamond, t-that’s what White Diamond did!” His voice spiraled at least three octaves as his hand shot out to point directly at the line forming along the other’s body. “White Diamond did that to you! B-But she shattered you! I saw her break your gemstone yourself!”

What on Earth was going on? He had seen White Diamond stomp on the gemstones. He had seen White Diamond handle them since he woke up from unconsciousness.

But while he was unconscious…

The memory of traveling through Pearl’s gem to retrieve his phone suddenly came hitting him hard.

Steven watched as Pink Diamond pulled her fists against each other tightly, locking her muscles together with a concentrated grunt of effort.

He watched in instant realization as she curled her fist towards Pearl, steadily uncurling her fingers and revealing the newborn ‘gem’ shards that lay in her gloved palm, along the pieces of gravel and dirt and a single pink hibiscus.

“I-“

“What? Why did you stop talking?” He watched speechlessly as the other crawled forward, concern on her expression as she watched his face with obvious intent.

“Y-She didn’t shatter you,” of course! It all made sense! “They were fake gems! But why would she do that?”

“Have you ever met White Diamond?” Despite their shared moment of togetherness, no amount of emotion could stop the occasional sarcasm that drooled through her personality, a roll of her eyes, somehow, relieving him that she hadn’t completely lost her original nature. “Everything she does has strings attached.”

What would White Diamond gain from this? Making everyone think that Blue and Yellow were shattered?

Did Blue follow through the same fate?

“Yellow, I need to leave.”

“What?! No!” As soon as his words left his lips, he felt hardened hands grip harshly against the fabric of his uniform, nearly pulling him off his feet. “You can’t leave me here again! You need to stay with me, I-I don’t want to be alone!”

“I need to see if I can contact Blue! I need to make sure she’s alive! Unless you know!”

“I-I don’t know,” Yellow finally seemed as if she was beginning to calm down, the grip against his costume not completely pulling away, but softening. “Will you come back as soon as you’re done talking to her?”

“I will if I can, I promise! I only have a few hours of sleep left, and I don’t know how long its already been. I’ll try as hard as I can to come back, I swear.”

How was he going to get back to the real world?

“Yellow, I need you to punch me.”

“What?!” Steven was nearly as shocked as the pearl, and he felt sympathy swell in his chest for the other as she stood. “W-What do you mean?”

“I need to wake up to try to connect to Blue. And I need you to punch me, as hard as you can.”

“Punch you…” the taller form paused as she sent a glance down at her fist, loosely curled against her palm. She flexed out her wrist for a moment, before she finally looked back to Steven. “Okay. I’ll punch you.”

“Okay, make sure you hit as hard as you-!” He wasn’t even able to even finish his sentence before he felt a flying fist lock against his jaw, sending him spiraling back in a second world of pain, his entire body screaming once again with the weight of his former injuries.

 

For the second time that day he was instantly thrust back into wakeness, the blanket wrapped around him completely thrown off as he was hurried into a feeble sitting position.

It worked.

“Steven! Did you have another nightmare?” Pearl’s voice from next to him formed guilt throughout his system. On his hurried way up from the ground, he probably hit his caretaker someone in her face with his elbow.

“N-No! I had a vision, a communication!”

He could tell immediately when the thin gem’s posture changed, the tumbling of blankets sounding from behind him as she struggled to escape the prison of sheets and pillows.

“A v-vision?! With who?”

“Yellow! Yellow and Blue aren’t dead!” He wanted to rush out as much information as he could- he needed to tell Pearl the truth right away and get back into unconsciousness quick.

“What?!”

“I can’t explain right now, I have to get back to Blue!” Earlier, he had been hesitant to go back to sleep Now, however, he pulled as many of the blankets around them that he could reach as he could, nearly suffocating him in the weight of the heat as his head slammed against the pillow all to harsh for his pained head. “I need you to hug me as tight as you can!”

The adrenaline pulling through his entire body seemed to tenfold as darkness invaded his vision again, success so far egging his determination farther.

He just needed answers, and then they could figure something out.

 

“Blue?! Blue!” Jumping up onto his feet, his vision immediately hooked onto the surroundings all around him, looking for some sort of break of the constricting matter. He needed to see Blue, he had to. He needed to get as much information as he could and report back to Yellow, and all before he had to wake up.

But there was nothing.

No shout in response, no sounds besides his violent gasps for air as he called again. “Blue!” She had to be there somewhere, why else would he even be in this space right now?

A weight pressed against his shoulder nearly caused him to scream, coiling him into a panic as his body whipped around way too fast for his already hurting body.

AH!” A scream did follow through as he focused on the figure in front of him. It was Blue-thank the stars-, but at the same time…

“Y-Your face! You’re-“ he didn’t even know how to begin what he was going to say. What was he supposed to say?  Thankfully, before he could even finish his sentence, a hand raising against her lips, or what was left of them silenced him, giving Steven a moment to take everything in.

What had White Diamond done? Just like her yellow counterpart, there was an extended stroke that originated from below her jawline. But instead of pulling down to her shoulder, it rose up her cheek. It looked like she could open her mouth, but one burning question needed to be answered.

“C-Can you speak?” The shake of a head in response answered his question.

“O-Okay, I know you’re probably confused,” it was amazing to him. When he first met Blue, he was expecting a frail, sensitive gem that would break apart under the tiniest prompt of stress. But, even through all of this, she seemed so…intact. She and Garnet would get along well.

But how was he going to communicate with her? She couldn’t talk, and there were too many questions that couldn’t be answered with yes or no.

Suddenly, a light bulb jerked on in his head, and wasting no time, his hand suddenly striked just above his shoulder to the other’s surprise, his fingers curled into a fist, all except for his thumb, standing outright against his pointer.

“This is a.”

Then, his hand loosened. His fingers, still stuck together, straightened out, his thumb pulling down to rest against his palm.

“This is b, do you understand?”

Blue simply gawked at him for a long minute, her expression devoid of any emotion. However, gazing at her own hand, she finally nodded, repeating the signs that Steven had earlier demonstrated.

“Okay, great, this is c, and this is d,” he went through the entire alphabet with the other, making sure to give the other time to take in each letter and drive it into her memory. If they couldn’t communicate like  this, then what other way was there?

“Can you put any sentences together?”

Blue stretched out her hand momentarily, shaking it out as she adjusted her elbow to pull against her hip, her free hand resting under the arm. She looked hesitant at first, but sure enough, to his relief, signs and flicks of her hand began to become words he could pinpoint.

Am I doing this right?

“You are! You’re doing great!” He sighed in relief when he realized that this plan was going to end up working after all. “Okay. White faked your shattering, so everyone thinks you’re dead, but you aren’t! Yellow isn’t! You’re both just…poofed?”

This is what it felt like last time. Except it feels more constricting, I think there’s something blocking me from reforming.

“Okay, so there’s probably something shielding you from outside. An object, or something. Did you reform at all before you poofed again, Yellow said she thought she did.”

I did. There was a lot of wgite.

“Wgite?”

White. Sorry.

So they were in the hands of White Diamond for sure. “That’s what Yellow said. But that’s all she saw. She couldn’t hear anything, she couldn’t pinpoint anything specific. But that means you’re safe! Oh,” he felt himself double over in relief. “You’re both safe!”

His eyes shut tightly together, relief overwhelming his system. Blue and Yellow weren’t shattered, they were alive! They had never been shattered. But it still confused him: why did White Diamond go through all of that trouble to fake their shattering? Why did she want Blue and Yellow?

For now, none of that mattered. Right now, what mattered was the fact they weren’t nothing but shattered particles, thank the stars, and if they were in White Diamond’s hands, in the same place, too, wouldn’t that mean they had some sort of protection? Maybe White Diamond was trying to shield them from punishment whatsoever.

A tap on his shoulder after a moment prompted him to look back up, remembering with his cheeks dusting red the other’s inability to speak. She pulled away again, her hand pressed to her gemstone. She paused completely for a minute, before signing again.

We aren’t safe.

“W-What? What do you mean?” Again, another pause from the pearl. It was like she was trying to gather her thoughts. The real reason for her hesitation, though, he couldn’t ask.

When I reformed, I was out for much longer than Yellow said she was. It’s somewhere in White Diamond’s ship, there was too much white to not be.

“Okay, okay,” he wished desperately that he had brought a notebook with him to write it down. Internally, he reminded himself to sleep with paper and pencil under his bed for the next time he needed to communicate. “This is really good. What happened when you reformed? Could you talk there?”

No. There were two rose quartzes there, but that’s all I could see.

“Yellow said she couldn’t reform. She had to be there somewhere.”

I saw Yellow.

His heart stopped when Blue’s hand fell back against her knee, her shoulders suddenly pulled forward. Her other hand, trailing away from her elbow, brushed over the strands of hair covering over her face. Finally, her palm pressed against her bangs, pulling them back and granting the first sight of her eyes he had ever seen.

The heart break in her gaze was completely destructing. Pupils were broadened, clear tears falling past her cheeks, and he wished that he would’ve been able to see her eyes in a better situation. He had always imagined it for some reason in a much brighter mood.

Her gem was in one of their hands.

Would a rose quartz ever do anything to a defenseless gemstone in her hand?

She’s broken. Her gem is cracked.

Apparently, one would.

“But White Diamond only shattered the fake gems!” Everything was confusing him, everything was so stressful that he wished, for the first time in his life, that Blue and Yellow didn’t see the beauty in the Earth until just a while later. Then, they could’ve come to him first, and they could’ve planned something out.

If you don’t help her soon, she will be shattered.

“What?!”

His confusion ramped again when the thin gem completely paused. There was no fumble of her fingers, absolutely nothing. It was like someone had turned her off.

“Blue? Are you still with me?” She had to be with him still. There was so much more information he needed. He only knew about the possible areas they could be, and that there was something wrong with Yellow.

A sharp, painful glare perforated his entire form as he suddenly felt himself disarticulate from the darkness around him, from Blue, especially, still planted in place. He knew exactly what was happening, something horrible was happening.

“No, no, I can’t be waking up!” There was still so much more Blue had to tell him. How was he supposed to answer her call for help if he had no idea how to? “Blue! Listen to me!”

Still no response. If she could say something before he woke up, anything to help him find them and get them back to safety, he’d be almost satisfied.

“Blue, answer me!” His vision was beginning to brighten, a dim light from the corners of his vision beginning to spiral into more of what he could see with each passing second. He couldn’t wake up, he couldn’t afford to lose contact. “Blue!”

 

“Blue!” Dread completely overtook him as he felt himself violently plant back into consciousness, the feeling of warm blankets and pillows, for the first time in his life, filling him with disappointment and frustration. He took in a sharp gasp as he jolted upwards, causing the placid figure next to him to react just as furiously.

“Steven!” Pearl’s frantic voice from next to him did nothing to shake him from his panic, even when he felt a rough hand roll against his shoulder. Nothing was being processed right now.

“P-Pearl, I-“ what would he even begin to say? There was so much information he needed to share, and he still needed to get back to Yellow. “They’re not dead.”

“What?!”

“Blue and Yellow aren’t’ dead!” Despite no one else being in the ship’s room besides them-Jasper had been swayed to watch the galaxies pass by through the many hallways-, his voice suddenly trailed into a whisper, afraid that somehow White was listening in on their conversation. What would she do to them if she figured out he knew about Blue and Yellow?

Finally summoning up the courage to glance at his thin caretaker, he was more than shocked to find himself meeting tear-filled eyes, droplets of water falling down her pale cheeks. Pearl was emotional, but he didn’t realize she would start crying this quickly.

“They’re alive. They’re poofed, they’re…cracked, but they’re alive,” just as soon as he had been accepting the death of the two pearls, just as soon as he was beginning to, he was being swung back into a spiral of confusion, but throughout it all, relief. Blue and Yellow weren’t safe yet, but at least they weren’t dust. “I don’t know for how long, though.”

“What do you mean?” A second hand found shelter against his other shoulder, anxiety obvious in the other’s actions. “Steven, what is going on?!”

“I-I’ll explain as soon as I can! I’ll tell you as soon as I can! For now, I really need to get back to Yellow. How much more time until we get to our next destination?”

“Twenty minutes, around. You only have a little time left.”

Twenty minutes would be a stretch. He was sure he could get as much as information as he needed in that span of time, but would it be enough to figure out how to help them?

“Pearl, I need to get back to sleep now,” once again, he found himself buried back into the heavy blankets atop of him, trying to press his body against the soft pillow as mush as he could. If he could just fall asleep quickly-

Pearl didn’t talk, obviously seeing his strong need to return to unconsciousness as fast as he could. Instead, he felt comforting palms sooth against the top of his head, burying gently into his mess of curls. Tiredness once again began to pull at his limbs, even with the adrenaline still ruling through his stream.

With one more simple sigh of relief, he was thankful that he was an easy sleeper.

 

Back in the original void of darkness as before, a new sound filtered through his mind, possibly in his head. Really, with everything that was running through his brain, he didn’t even know what was in his mind or not. There was no clock nearby however, and with the sound of a gentle tick passing his brain with each second, he easily confirmed that his mind was playing games.

“You’re back!” An adenoidal voice from his left sent him into a world of relief, much more when a thin body wrapped around his waist from behind. He never even imagined that Yellow, out of anyone, would ever hug him like her life depended on it. Just months ago, she never even wanted to talk to him. “Do you have more information about Blue?”

“S-She’s alive!” That was the first thing he wanted to tell her. By her reaction, slumping against his body and letting out a cry of consolation, she was clearly thankful for that.

He hoped she was alive. Whatever had happened to make Blue suddenly stop, he had never seen before. Something from outside must’ve happened to her.

Shattered? There was no way. There was no way he would genuinely believe it with the first scare.

“I thought I had lost her!” the yellow pearl did not seem like the type of gem to show affection, let alone know what affection was. When-if- he got both of them safely back to Earth, he’d have to teach her what a girlfriend was, and if she considered Blue that way. “But there’s some things that I need to tell you.”

“As if things could get any worse than this.”

“Actually, it can,” a breath shuddered deep in his throat after his words, as if he didn’t’ know the bad news either. He wished he didn’t know, he wished there wasn’t any. If only it could be so simple.

Yellow didn’t say anything, instead, tilting her chin to the side and raising her eyebrows in curiosity, urging him on. One hand planted firmly against her hip, while the one donned with multiple linings stayed pressed against her side. If Blue had lost her speech unpoofed, it was obvious to him that she’d lose the use of her arm as well.

“She knows where you two are, somewhere in White’s ship,” which really didn’t come as a surprise, “But she doesn’t know specifically where you are, or why White Diamond wants you alive.”

“But that means we’re okay, right? If she wants us well, it means that we’re going to be okay after all of this.”

“Not exactly,” here came the worse part of the news. “Blue said while she was out, she saw your gem.”

A deep breath was inhaled. “Yellow, you’re cracked. Really bad. She said if we don’t help you soon-“

“I’ll be shattered for sure?”

Steven hated to nod, but out of anyone, didn’t Yellow get to know her life was at risk? “But your healing tears?”

“They can work on cracked gems, but shattered gems…” surely his powers would work on shattered gems. What was the use of it if he couldn’t heal them? It would be like a laugh to him, he was powerful enough to revive those who are cracked and chipped, but he was helpless and just along the lines of helping one that was completely gone. ”I’d rather not have to figure out the hard way. We need to find you guys as soon as we can and get you away from Homeworld.”

“You can’t do that, what about the deal?” Stars. He had completely forgotten about the trade. “If you help us, don’t you know how much that will anger White Diamond? You’ll be put in the same boat as us, it’s hopeless!”

“Don’t say that,” despite his growing hope, he knew that what the thin gem was saying was true. White Diamond would not be pleased, and how she would react was something he wanted to keep in just his imagination. “We’re going to find some way out of this. We have to find some way to help you!”

Yellow’s onslaught of downcast surprised him way more than he expected. She looked almost completely hopeless at this point, her gaze down-turned and her eyebrows stitched together in concern. Finally, a low exhale rolled from her tongue, even if her gaze didn’t adjust. “But you said it yourself, Blue did, too. It won’t be long before I actually shatter.”

“I-“

“I’m far from not caring about if I make it through, but please,” meeting her eye took so much more courage than he imagined. “Make sure Blue gets out of this all.”

When he didn’t respond, speechless in shock at the sudden turn of the conversation, a gentle hand cupped over his own, a yellow thumb resting just under his wrist. Once again, Yellow was gawking at him with an empathetic expression.

“Steven, you have to promise me she’ll be okay.”

He had heard the other say his name one other time, back before their desperate sprint to the escape pods. It was obvious that she was beginning to grow closer to him, tolerate him more and appreciate his presence. The fact that she called him by his name rather than ‘Pink’ and ‘he’ rather than ‘she’ proved so, too.

“I’m going to get both of you out here, including Blue, I promise,” he couldn’t promise anything. Lying this one time, however, brought peace even to him. They had outgrown every problem they faced so far, surely this was just another step in the river. They could overcome this; they didn’t have a choice. “I swear, everything will be okay.”

“Thank you,” with her voice becoming gentler by the minute, he knew that their time together was going to be cut off very soon. It would only be before long that he would need to wake up, and he needed to milk as much information as he could.

“Is there anything you can tell me that might help?”

The thin gem pulled her hand up loosely against her chin for a moment, as if in thought. Her expression contoured in confusion. Finally, her face brightened, her muscles relaxing and some spark inside of her igniting once again. “Pearl.”

“Pearl?”

“You need to tell Pearl all of this. She can help with this; she knows more information than we do.”

What did Pearl know that they didn’t? His eyes narrowed, and with a suspicious tone, he slipped, “Why is that?”

Why do you think?” Yellow looked almost exasperated, “Maybe because she was White Diamond’s pearl?”

“She was Pink’ Diamond’s pearl!” Was, he wanted to put emphasis on.

“Well, after White gave her to Pink to teach her responsibility, yes,” Yellow scoffed, “Which failed miserably.”

“That can’t be true!”

“Is really right now the right time to argue?” He paused. She had a point, they had no time to argue about any of this. “Do you want me to help you or not?”

“What do I ask her?”

“You need to ask her about the structure of White Diamond’s ship, see if she remembers how to get to her personal holding chambers, we might be there,” Steven tried to remember from word to word what she was saying. Every single bit of detail would help him. “If she remembers any situations like this, how they ended. Ask her as much as you can about what she remembers when she was under White. Can you do that?”

“Y-Yes,” ask her about everything she knew about White Diamond.  He could simplify everything she had said down to that. He could feel himself beginning to seep back into consciousness, which meant they had very little time left. “We’re running out of time, anything else?”

“One more thing,” she needed to say it. He could feel something at his shoulder distantly, a clear confirmation that he was needed in the outside world. It wouldn’t be long before his caretaker’s shaking would wake him up.

“Say it!”

“Remember, make sure Blue gets out of this!”

He couldn’t even believe that Yellow was thinking about Blue. She was the one on the verge of actually becoming dust this time. However, he had to imagine if he was in her shoes.

Would he be thinking about himself? Or would he be thinking about Connie?

“I will, I’ll make sure she gets out here alive. Both of you.”

Yellow’s smile addressed her satisfaction and relief. As the last of his vision was beginning to disappear, his senses dulling more and more by the moment, the last thing he could pinpoint was Yellow’s grateful good-bye.

“Thank you.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“This is the ship dock, at least the bigger one.”

It was unreal to him that business on Homeworld was as usual. Hurried gems of all sorts of castes hurrying to their next mission, traveling from warp pad to warp pad. He narrowed his eyes at the expanse of ultramodern dock, shiny, silvery spacecrafts lined up in respective berths for miles on end. The planet held just a shimmer of the light that entered the atmosphere from the sun-like star nearby, basking the heart of the ‘city’ in a light temper that made everything feel whisked and refreshing.

It would be silly to not admit the inner turmoil in his mind. He was certain no one could blame him for his discomfort and dreariness with every step. As much as he usually tried to see the light in every situation, this one seemed far too complex and terrifying to focus on anything but the impending doom the pearls could face at any time. They could be shattered right now for all he knew. He felt as if he had to be vigilant every time one foot stepped in front of the other.

But with Pearl and Jasper flying out Connie for her first visit since the trade, he had to let himself go just a little bit.

“How many ship docks are on this planet?!” It was rejuvenating to have Connie by his side again. It was freeing for him; even just the way she walked by him, her chest puffed, unafraid at the occasional agate or peridot that sent a nasty look her way made her heart flutter. Her spontaneous questions, inquiries; she always found a way to brighten the mood, no matter what was being thrown onto their plates.

“Only seven, but this is the biggest! Probably the largest in the entire empire!” It was no joke that Connie was an egghead. All throughout knowing her, it seemed like she had an answer to every single question he asked. How many inches in six and a half feet, Connie knew right away. Which of the African wild species had the highest lifespan? She could tell you in a flash. What page had Archimicarus confessed his love to Lisa in The Unfamiliar Familiar? That was a whole other story.  “It was when I went to the Human Zoo to check on all of the updates they’ve made. There’s so many changes!”

Connie’s expression immediately turned sour. “Are the Zoomans being treated well at least?”

“Definitely!” His best preference for the humans in the Zoo was to free them completely and bring them back to Earth, but especially with White being on her last rope with him, that idea wouldn’t be discuss upon for a while. Convincing Holly Blue that it was the best for the Zoo would be another stone to toss (though if he wasn’t kidding himself, Holly Blue would be ecstatic at the opportunity to be assigned away from the Famethyst).

“What else happened at the Zoo, Steven?” A single calloused hand rested against the top of his head, following the gravelly and gruff voice that reminded him way too soon, hilariously, of the second ordeal of the zoo. She glanced up at the orange quartz, idly falling behind him. He stopped their trek to wave at a pair of jades strolling by who immediately swooned with Pink Diamond’s notice, giggling in hushed whispers as they whisked past the trio.

“We were taken hostage by the rose quartzes,” despite the initial terror of the situation, now looking back on it, an involuntary smile refused to let his lips stay straight. Now that he thought about it now, the ordeal hadn’t been as bad as he thought originally. Sure, it was uncomfortable being trapped in the same room for two days straight, but the quartzes hadn’t been too vicious. Their rage was at the very least understandable, and they had never actually hurt them.

Looking back at it now, everything, the entire trade had given him opportunities he knew he’d never be able to have. Practically ruling an entire intergalactic empire every other week wasn’t something an average fourteen-year-old got to do. Reconciling with the Famethyst, running his own colony, everything he had been doing was giving him experiences he knew he should cherish. And to think, a year ago he was the child of Rose Quartz. He was the murderer of Pink Diamond.

It wasn’t just him, either. His family back home had befriended, or at least tolerated, the Homeworld gems that was sent to Earth when he was gone. Holly Blue was still a pain, they had said, but especially Yellow had been growing onto them for the past months.

He was determined to make sure that wasn’t the last time they ever saw her.

Since making contact with the two pearls in his sleep, he felt uncertain and in a daze. He didn’t know who to tell about the entire ordeal. He told Pearl, he was required to, but everyone else? What if White Diamond figured out? Then what would happen to Blue and Yellow? Could he put Connie at that risk? His entire family?

He did have a lead. He had had time to ponder what Yellow had told him in the infinite blackness of his dream. His nightmare from a few weeks back, the robotic and unwilled movements of White’s pearl, the gem placements, he felt like a fool for not realizing before. As soon as they were done with what they were doing on this colony, he’d have to talk to Pearl immediately.

 “You’re basically a celebrity here,” technically, despite Connie’s words, they both were. He doubted many Homeworld gems had seen a human in their entire lives before. Maybe gems going along in their day were staring at the both of them. He had gotten used to the whispering and the gawks since nearly the first week.

“I’m taking autographs,” playing around Connie was refreshing, being able to le this guard down for just a minute had become something he was longing for. The experiences on Homeworld were interesting and distinct, but they were also draining and tiring. The stress of being an intergalactic monarch could be too much sometimes, and the longing to be a ‘regular’ kid again grew extreme at some times.

“Oh, you are? But I haven’t got anything for you to sign!” the mock tone of distress in Connie’s words, followed by a single arm draping over her vision, prompted giddy laughter to bubble in his throat. He watched as the other turned against her heel, dramatically posing her entire body. “What shall I do, refrained from receiving my hero’s autograph?” She swooned.

“You two can play around later,” to his shame, he had almost completely forgotten about Jasper’s presence until just now, even if she had been right behind them the entire time. “It’s time to head back to the ship.”

“When are we leaving?”

“Steven, you know that we’re far from being done here,” Jasper’s voice grew gradually serious, though the hand that ruffled his coiled hair was comforting and gentle. “I know you don’t want to, but if White called this meeting so suddenly, you have to show.”

Almost as soon as he had reunited with Connie, White had contacted them through Pearl’s communicator, explaining that they were to report back to the colony they had just been at as soon as possible for a seemingly sudden Diamond Meeting. When they had landed, Steven had finally managed to convince Pearl to let him give Connie a tour of the planet’s greatest monuments before heading to where the meeting was taking place at, and he was immediately grateful for the extra amount of time, albeit not long, that he didn’t have to be in front of thousands of gems on display.

It looked like that time was up now.

Perfect. That meant that sooner or later, he’d have to meet face to face with White Diamond, after what she did to Blue and Yellow. Now that he knew about that, how could he act as if nothing was wrong?

 

He had yet to tell Connie or Jasper still. Even when he did have enough time to tell them, walking back to the ship and then warping to the pre-meeting conference like last time. His words were caught in his throat, and rightfully so. Besides, who knew what could happen to either of them if White discovered that they knew. He’d rather be the one punished than all of his family.

He also didn’t want their nerves to skyrocket when they came face to face with White Diamond again.

Ah, Starlight, you’ve brought your pet with you!” White Diamond didn’t scare him, per say, at least not all of the time. But outside factors of the last two hours made finally stepping into the pre-meeting room feel like a horror movie. He felt tiny compared to the towering walls—they had to be if the Diamonds were to comfortably stay in it--, and with all three larger figures already in their respective places back in their crystal thrones around the table, Steven felt as if he was in trouble.

To be fair, he might be already.

“I really wanted her to be with me,” he wasn’t the one to fly her over, of course, but he would never try to drop the blame on Jasper nor Pearl. They were only trying to make him happy, and if anyone should be punished for that, it should be him.

“You understand she won’t be able to come out with you during the meeting, correct?” If there was one thing that could somehow always comfort him, it was Blue’s voice. It was hilarious, just a year ago Steven would’ve shuddered at the single thought of going near the Diamonds.

“I understand.”

“Can I at least watch?” Connie’s probe against his shoulder, despite lightly painful, eased his anxiety momentarily. He needed to remember that he wasn’t in this alone.

“You can watch where your Jasper does over the Red Eye projections,” White paused, turning to his thin caretaker. “My pearl is on a few errands, so yours will be introducing all four of us. After all, it would be silly to have only two of them.”

Well maybe if you freed Yellow and Blue from wherever they were, it wouldn’t have to be ‘silly’.

He must have tensed up unintentionally when gentle hands came to rest against his shoulders. As soon as caring thumbs pressed against his muscles through his shirt, tension released from his body, and he wanted to melt right on the spot.

“You’re going to be just fine, Steven,” Pearl’s reassurance was well meant, albeit ineffective. Despite this, a smile quirked the corners of his lips, and unable to suppress his gratitude, his small body leaned back against the thin one, even if she’d have to be leaving just very soon.

“We all know you’re going to be the center of attention,” Blue’s words held no jealousy or envy, which, quite frankly, wasn’t a surprise, “Which will mean a lot of the Diamond Meeting will be focused on your progress returning to your duties.”

“So it’ll be relatively short?” He hadn’t been working on his own colony for too long.

White’s smile increased. “It depends on how much you say about your colony and what they want to know. After all, it won’t be long before gems from your court begin to settle themselves on it.”

“Enough chitchat. Shouldn’t we be preparing? I’m sure the gems outside are beginning to get restless,” it didn’t surprise him one bit that it was Blue who was concerned with the well being of the crowd that had gathered outside, and the truth in them was just as much of a non-shocker.

“That means I have to get ready to go,” he turned his head back to Pearl, the gentle hand originally resting over her shoulder now crossed back over her own chest. A sympathetic smile played at her lips. “Connie and Jasper, too.”

“You’re going to do awesome!” Connie’s aggressive cheer sent butterflies to his stomach. As much as he knew she wanted to join him to the meeting, White would be extremely displeased, and he didn’t want to upset her any more than she already was.

He hoped that he could manage to do that.

 

Steven’s heel pressed aggressively against the solid material of his throne, his nausea and queasiness starting to simmer. He had gotten used to being so high, above the gargantuan dome that held thousands of gems. Thousands of gems that looked to him as a leader, the one thing that he was sure he’d never get over.

The sky had darkened significantly, much different than the previous meeting. The precocious amphitheater shed a gentle shadow to the center of the grounding, the reflective material of the diamond insignia slightly aglow with the tiny stars that began to dot the blanket of light blues and feather purples above them. The Red Eyes processing this meeting seemed to brighten to make up for the loss of light, slightly masking his vision when he looked at them directly. He hoped the gems watching through the recordings didn’t mind him not addressing them front to front.

His gaze finally raised, narrowing down on the three other Diamonds resting on their own respective thrones. What were they thinking about? Blue and Yellow were probably thinking about all of the ways this meeting could go wrong, the duties they had to complete afterwards. But White?

Probably thinking about her little guards and what she’s planning with Blue and Yellow’s gems. He never tried to be overly rude or venomous, but…

White deserved it. One hundred percent.

Finally, the insignia in the middle of the dome brightened, a gentle glow that, albeit not strong, hushed the gems crowded around in their seats and prompted the Red Eyes in the sky to lower, their cameras ready to record and broadcast to the rest of Homeworld that couldn’t make it to the meeting.

The light gathered into a shape of a body, dainty and lithe, solid in the middle of the diamond, nearly purple and shaded in the lighting of the sky.  Despite a proper reason to stress, he found his nail digging into the warm flesh of his palm, his lip worried between the front of his teeth.

Finally, the brilliance dissipated, leaving the familiar figure of his caretaker in its disappearance, without the jacket with the star, by White Diamond’s command.

She was obviously startled for a moment, even from where he was, he could see the thin gem’s eyes broaden with shock, her lips open in silent words.

Maybe he did have reason to worry.

“Gems of Homeworld,” finally words began to bubble from her throat, even if weak at first. “Please prepare yourselves for the…”

He could barely imagine what she was thinking. Two of her closest friends weren’t with her. She had thought they were dead, and now, she had been told that they could be dead at anytime, in the blink of an eye.

Words paused abruptly as she twisted her head to her left, and then to her right. It was almost as if she was searching for someone, for two people who should’ve usually been with her. His heart dropped when salty tears began to form at the corners of her eyes. Despite this, she continued to speak.

“P-Prepare yourselves for the brilliant, lum-luminous…” it was obvious, too obvious, that she was beginning to break. It was only a matter of seconds before she was going to erupt into an entire cascade of tears at the disappearance of her two closest friends. He didn’t blame her, but to the thousands of gems watching at the moment, they might be less forgiving.

“Wait!” Steven knew that his throne had yet to illuminate like it had before, but despite this, he pulled himself back to his feet. That seemed to do the trick, because suddenly, thousands of eyes fell onto him. He felt his blood run cold.

He turned to Yellow, his expression concerned, and hopefully, argumentative. “Yellow, I need a moment with Pearl,” he paused, “Can you—uh—warp us back to the meeting room, or something?”

“Allow me to,” White’s chilling words sent a shiver to rampage throughout his body, not even summoning the courage to turn away from the lemon hued diamond. From the corner of his vision, he could see a single, white hand rise, as well as a head tilting to the side. “Please, Homeworld, excuse this interruption, we’ll only be one minute more.”

Before he knew it, twitters of light engulfed his entire form, like when he had been warped to his throne in the first place. His eyes slid shut, ready for the burst of energy that would overwhelm his form as he was teleported back away from the crowds. Somewhere more quiet, somewhere he could talk to Pearl.

Meeting Pearl’s eyes, not hundreds of feet apart, was the first thing that he did once the light burst once again. It was obvious she was no longer able to hold back her tears, and by the way her entire form shuddered and the ragged whimpers that left her throat, a sobbing fit wouldn’t be able to either.

He felt a thin form collide into him almost as soon as he opened his arms with a face being buried against his shoulder. He was completely still for a moment before he finally cupped his hands gently over the other’s thin shoulders and back, trailing shapes into the exposed skin there.

He thought back to all of the times in his childhood when he’d run to his caretakers in tears. How they’d always waste no time to engulf him into a hug, whisper gentle words into his ear and help talk him through whatever he was going through whether it be a scabbed knee or an episode of Crying Breakfast Friends. Now, where he was, with one of them sobbing against his shoulder, soaking the fabric of his sleeves, he understood exactly how they must’ve felt.

“Pearl, you can’t go back out there,” he had no idea how long they were curled up together, or how much longer they had together. Once they finally pulled apart, Pearl’s eyes were beet red. “You shouldn’t have come back in the first place.”

“Someone had to be there for you,” a hand came to cup over his warm cheek, and instinctively, his one hand wrapped around the thin wrist connected.

“It’s too soon, Pearl, you need to give yourself time to recover,” his gaze shot across the room, finally setting his eyes on the heavy double doors across to their right. He returned his attention to the other, his hands falling to her shoulders. “Pearl, you need to go back to Earth right now.”

“What?”

“You’re not ready for this. You need to go back to Amethyst and let yourself rest.”

“What about you, Steven?” He knew the thin gem was stubborn, and sometimes it was a good trait, but right now he just wanted her to accept the help.

“I have Jasper and Connie.”

“But-“

A hand sliding up to cup over her wet cheek immediately brought her to silence.

“I’ve learned how to know when I need to take care of myself,” he cooed, “Now it’s time for you to as well.”

It was a blessing that Pearl didn’t break into tears again. However, her eyes broadened in realization at his words, and allowed Steven to gently help her off the ground. “Blue Diamond said Connie and Jasper were waiting outside Sector Four. Do you know where that is?”

“I know.”

“Good, cause’ I don’t,” he smiled, the grip against the taller’s palm increasing somewhat. “Tell them what I said. Jasper knows how to lead you to an escape pod and take you back to Earth.”

She was silent again for a moment, which prompted Steven to lean in and hug his caretaker. Just as he was about to pull Pearl in with his arms, he felt his body suddenly fizz into nothingness, and it wasn’t long after before the same light from earlier began to engulf his entire vision again.

And before he knew it, he was back on his throne. Back on this throne, platformed for the thousands of gems waiting patiently in the crowd. Back on his stupid throne.

“Welcome back Pink!” White’s dreadful chime as a reintroduction seemed to rile the crowd, with excited murmurs and gasps breaking among the gems gathered below. His grip against the cold rock of his armrest hardened, becoming damp under the precipitation from his palm. “With no one to introduce us, I think it’s only fair that we start now.” Her proposition was met with even louder encouragement.

“I agree, while this meeting won’t be as nearly as exciting as last, there are a few serious topics we need to address,” the gentler of the diamonds rested her chin against her open hand, and Steven quirked an eyebrow when sadness dripped at the last of her words.

Serious topics?

“I believe Yellow has some news she’d like to share first.”

Said gem’s gaze darted to the tallest diamond in shock and fear unknown to the followers below. She regained herself, clearing her throat, before beginning. “Thank you, White. I’m pleased to announce that my most recent colony has been completed. Schedules of ship routes and missions are currently being edited to add Planet E-54.”

“Great news, Yellow. And you, Blue?”

“Just about the same news as Yellow,” the soft-spoken diamond smiled. “My most recent batch of lapis lazulis have been examined. Asides from a few defectives, all of the rest look strong. It’s the most error free batch of the season.” Blue had always been much more placid spoken than Yellow and Blue, but it always shocked him when the true meaning of her role as the leader of Homeworld peaked through—talking about lapis lazulis as if they were toys or products passing a quality inspection. Once ties with White loosened, perhaps he’d have to try and change how the diamonds viewed their subjects.

“Excellent, Blue. You’ve both done well with your recent colonies,” White’s praise prompted slight blush to dust across both of the diamonds’ cheeks, especially with Blue’s eyes darting away in embarrassment, covered only barely by the shadows of the growing night. “We all appreciate what you do for Homeworld.”

He nearly stopped when a hardened gaze fell on him. “And what about you, Pink?”

“I-“ His words caught in his throat as he began to speak, nearly choking over his own spit. Just like Yellow had been, frightened at the sudden spotlight, he caught himself quickly. “My colony has been going…alright. The first quartzes have emerged without trouble. It won’t be too long before the colony is complete and my court can begin to fulfill their normal duties there,” he cleared his throat, “The lapis lazulis terraforming have done more than a good job.”

“All good news, all three of you!” White’s words were almost condescending, and by the slight cringe and repulse of their shoulders, it was picked up by the other two diamonds as well. “I am incredibly proud of this entire empire. You’ve all worked hard, especially with this shift now that Pink has returned to us.”

She only paused for a moment. “Despite most of you doing a fantastic job, there are some problems I do need to address.”

Steven immediately tensed.

“If you have yet to notice, we’ve given Pink some liberties with her duties as she’s been eased back into her role after thousands of years away captured on Earth,” if Steven had to hear another lie. Were they expecting to keep them up forever? Just as his mother had proved, lies couldn’t be bottled in forever. “But as for the rest of you, you know all of your standards are still held as they were before. And most of you are handling this well.”

“If you haven’t also noticed, Yellow and Blue Diamond’s pearls haven’t attended this meeting.”

Here we go.

“That’s because they were shattered,” the collective, shocked gasp that rang throughout the entire stadium even had his own addition to it, even when this news hadn’t been new for him, and downright debunked. The way she had said it so smoothly, so collected, it truly showed that she had no remorse for what she had done. “They felt that since Pink Diamond had been given freedom, they deserved it, too.”

“They rebelled.” The tall gem smiled; Steven hoped that it was to intimidate her followers, but the amusement in the upturn was all too there. “They betrayed their empire and devoted their loyalty to the Crystal Gems. Let this be a reminder that Homeworld is still as strong and demanding as ever. No room for betrayal or thoughts like these will be tolerated. If you have these types of thoughts, report them to your commanding Agate immediately. Report them before they turn more into intrusive little thoughts.”

No news about them being alive, Steven thought. It was still a mystery to him, everything White said or did was still a mystery to him. What did she want with Blue and Yellow? There was something she obviously wanted, why else would she keep them alive?

Despite his thoughts, the Homeworld gems below seemed to take this warning seriously, marked by the silent and astounded moment that followed throughout the stadium. When he looked back at Blue and Yellow, Blue looked like she was about to sob all over again.

He wished this meeting would be done already. He needed to find more about Blue and Yellow’s whereabouts. He needed to get to them quick, otherwise when he did find them, they’d be nothing but dust and-

“Hey!”

A sudden cry from down below caught his attention immediately, and from the corners of the vision, by the way even White Diamond whipped her head downwards, everyone else had as well. His eyebrows furrowed when he spotted who had shouted, standing rather anxiously at one of the entrances of the stadium for some one who had just screamed out over the Diamonds. Whoever they were, they must’ve had something important to say.

Whoever had shouted was small, cowering against the entrance’s arch. Confusion sparked his brain when he didn’t immediately recognize what gem It was, something he had gotten expert at the past few months, and he leaned further away from the throne’s back. Now that he could see a bit closer, he could vaguely distinct the outline of the gem and all of her features and…

Connie?

“Pink’s pet?” Yellow’s confused mummer was far too quiet for anyone but the four of them to pick up, and the ongoing quietness besides continued to disturb him. Finally, Connie straightened herself out, confidence visibly returning to her form, and speaking again.

“I’m sorry to interrupt this, but I really need to talk to Stev- Pink. Right now.”

White’s frown upon her lips heightened, though genuine disappointment couldn’t be found in her expression. Only irritability. “All of these interruptions,” she rolled her eyes, before craning her head towards Steven. “Pink, you’re quite popular today.”

“The meeting is almost done,” Blue’s gentle voice was the first to break the silence. The regard she had for Connie was still shocking to him to this day, despite her disrespect for the rest of his family. “Can’t this wait just a few moments more?”

“With all due respect, ma’am,” Connie’s voice wavered, her form obviously beginning to tremble. Only slightly, from where he could see. “This cannot wait. I need to talk to him—her—now!”

“Very well,” White’s disapproval was clear as her gaze returned to him. “Pink, you’re dismissed from this meeting early. I’ll return you and your little friend back to the discussion room immediately. Now, Homeworld, say goodbye to Pink.”

As attention turned from Connie to Steven, wails of ‘we love you!’ crying from all around, her posture obviously slacked, relieved from the release of attention. Once again, he could feel his form practically lighten, and the now familiar feeling of his arms and legs growing numb spread over his entire body.

He immediately hit the floor teleported back to the roomy palazzo, no longer supported by his seat. Connie’s form was soon to join him as he recaptured his balance, and now that he could see her up close, anxiety coursed through him as his eyes fell upon her expression.

It looked as if she had been crying, and the sweat practically streaming down her temple only added to his fear.

“Steven, we need you, now!” Clammy hands gathered against his shoulders, hastily holstering him up from the ground. His feet nearly tripped back as soon as he stood, but with the taller’s harsh grip against his back, he managed to stay upright long enough to find his balance.

“Why?! What happened?!” As soon as words even rolled off his tongue, Connie was already practically turning her back, headed towards the door, and Steven was obligated to follow.

As two sets of feet furiously traveled down the spiraling, similar hallways, question after question bombarded his thoughts. Had something happened to Pearl or Jasper? They had been getting along well, surely they hadn’t gotten into some sort of scramble or fight. They hadn’t been doing anything wrong in Homeworld’s eyes, if someone had found a problem with them, watching the projection of the meeting displayed all across the empire, either of them could’ve easily explained the miscommunication.

How did anyone know where to travel in this castle? How did Connie know which way to go? Every single hall looked exactly the same, blindly white, dupe all around. He felt dizzy almost, as if the anxiety bubbling in his gut wasn’t enough.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of running along the white, pristine hallways, with his lungs practically screaming for air and his stomach burning with pain, Connie suddenly stopped at the next corner, nearly sliding far past the doorway as his sneakers dug into the floor. Her outburst of sharp gasps for air intermingled with his own, thought neither made no effort to talk as he smashed his hand against the enter pad. The gentle, pitched hum as it scanned his palm only heightened the intensity of his suspense, everything moving far too slowly for his liking.

Finally, finally, the door began to slide open, and as soon as enough space made it between the doors for both of them to practically flock through, they did exactly that.

He could immediately begin to sense why Connie was so panicked.

Jasper was practically pacing across the length of the room, her hands cupped together in front of her chest. In her hands was a communication device, and though it was turned away, frantic chatter from the screen made the situation all the while more real.

“Try the fountain, you can try the fountain!”

“It’s still frozen over!”

“There has to be another thing you can try, you can-“ the quartz’s panicked rambles stopped abruptly mid sentence as she noticed the two slipping into the room, her guise one of complete terror that expanded the growing pit in his stomach. He had never seen Jasper so scared, not even when she had been cowered over the ground of the Beta kindergarten, dreadfully transforming into a monster with no coherent action or free will.

“What, what is it, Tiger?” The voice from the other side of the monitor followed shortly afterwards.

“Steven’s here,” the gasp of reconciliation from Jasper widened his eyes, as well as the turn of the screen, revealing Bismuth’s grainy image.

“Thank the stars you’re here, Short Stack!” The blacksmith cried as she closed more distance between her own form and the screen, just about as stressed as everyone else around him. “We need you back on Earth immediately!”

“Why, what’s going on?!”

“It’s Amethyst,” The image on the communicator shifted quickly as Bismuth presuming shifted the device in her arms, facing rather than herself and the kitchen’s island, a glimpse of the temple’s living space. There were multiple figures on the couch, though one in particular caught her eye.

His heart immediately stopped.

“Her gem’s cracked!”