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Stars and Diamonds

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Yellow peered down curiously at the little bundle of blankets in Pink’s arms, except it was the thing wiggling inside those blankets that had Yellow transfixed, something so tiny Yellow would have considered it a speck in comparison to herself. Bending closer, she could see this thing that pink cradled protectively against her chest clearer despite being swaddled in the pastel colored blankets, at least its lower half was. It continued to squirm, and Pink pulled the blanket away and tucked it under the thing some more, where it made a noise. This allowed Yellow to see it had a head, two chubby arms, and a bare chest that was partly covered by two long tufts of orange hair that fell from in front of its small ears.

“Why is it so small? Is it defective?” She questioned, unable to keep her lip from curling in disgust. Pink was the smallest diamond of them, but even she towered over the tallest Quartz, this…thing, it was barely bigger than a Ruby!

“She’s supposed to be small!” Pink immediately defended, her eyebrows pulled together as she glared up at Yellow, “She’s supposed to grow bigger.”

“Grow? What exactly is this thing you’ve…created, Pink? What purpose could it possibly fill?”

“I wanted to see if the organics of my colony could be helped. They are so fragile, and live such a short time. If they could live longer, like us, they could be amazing.” Pink smiled as the tiny thing in her arms reached up towards her and she lowered her face to level it with a soft look, her hand that wasn’t supporting its body rested on top of the blankets as she allowed it to grab ahold of one of her fingers with both of its hands.

“You’re wasting your time, Pink. You shouldn’t concern yourself with lesser life forms like that, and now look. We have this thing to deal with, and-“

“She isn't a thing, Yellow!” Pink interrupted, her voice raised in indignation, “Stop calling her that.”

Yellow couldn’t stop from childishly rolling her eyes, “Don’t tell me you’ve named it.”

“Of course I have! She's just like us, Yellow, she deserves a name.”

Blue spoke up for the first time since Pink had introduced them to the small being in her arms, her voice low and calm, in an attempt to placate the quickly rising tension between her fellow Diamonds. “What is it?”

“Zirconia.”

“Oh Pink.” Blue’s head tilted to the side, her tone was mixed between adoration and sympathy.

“How exactly,” the contempt in Yellow’s tone was obvious as she crossed her arms over her chest, ”was she even made?”

“The scientist in my court, they can do such wonderful things. They managed to combine a human and gem. I don’t completely understand it myself, but that matters little to me. She really is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

“She's a fusion?”

Pink shook her head, “No Blue, she’s just...Zirconia.”

“Fantastic. She's a fused monstrosity of organics and a gem. I want whatever research done to make this thing destroyed, Pink. We can’t waste anymore precious resources on making more things like it.” Yellow frowned, giving Pink this colony was really starting to prove itself to be Yellow’s worst decision yet.

“Her!” Pink bellowed, startlingly the tiny gemling in her arms and causing her to start fussing loudly, which Pink immediately attempted to shush.

“Whatever!” Yellow yelled back, the headache forming between Pink’s foolishness and it’s now full on crying pushing her over the edge, “ITdoesn’t matter, you should just get rid of it, put it with its own kind.”

Blue placed a calming hand on Yellow’s shoulder, “look at her, Yellow,”

“Not you too.” Yellow grunted, covering her eyes with one of her gloved hands.

“Her gem, Yellow, look.”

Peering out from her fingers, Yellow looked back at Pink and her creation to see Pink making little faces at it, it's crying now replaced with fits of giggles as she wiggled her fingers against its bare stomach, the large diamond shaped gem on her chest reflecting the light of the room with each twitch. Yellow’s eyes narrowed and her hand fell away from her face to clench into a fist at her side, “Unbelievable. Don’t tell me, Pink, is she-“

“Just like us.”

“Stars above, Pink! you made…you made a-“

Yellow’s words died as the doors to their meeting room opened, and Yellow tensed as all three of them turned to see none other than White Diamond standing there, taking up the entire doorway with her pearl at her feet.

“White Diamond.” Blue called in greeting and Yellow felt herself jolt physically out of her stunned silence and she straightened herself, pulling her arms behind her back as she acknowledged White with a respectful head nod, “White.”

“Yellow. Blue.” White responded in kind, that seemingly permanent smile spitting her black painted lips. “So much yelling, it can be heard in the halls. I’m sure you’re aware how unseemly that is for a Diamond. What is all this about?” she spoke as she moved into the room, the door closed behind her and Yellow experienced the familiar feeling of being trapped and cornered that came with being in White Diamond’s presence.

Yellow immediately felt a need to protect Pink from White’s approach, and unconsciously stepped closer to her and Blue, the two of them somewhat managing to block White’s view of Pink and her creation. However, this did not deter White and as she stepped uncomfortably closer, the two unwillingly moved apart to allow White to see the youngest of them. Pink looked up at White as she bent over slightly, mimicking Yellow’s earlier actions, “What have you got there, Starlight?”

Pink held Zirconia tighter to her chest and she began to squirm, trying to get out of her grip, her attention suddenly captivated by the giant radiant woman smiling down at her and chunky arms reached up to grasp at air.

“Oh my, it's so...tiny.” White commented, but made no move to touch Zirconia, even as the babe made a squeal of displeasure, now becoming frustrated that White would not respond to her silent demand.

“She…she’s going to grow.” Pink supplied, her once raised voice now meek under White’s unblinking stare.

“Grow? So she won’t stay like that? That's good, Starlight. ”

Suddenly Zirconia let out a loud wail, tears forming in her eyes that Pink tried to quiet down franticly, though no matter how much Pink cooed or rocked her, she would not quiet for the youngest Diamond. Pudgy fingers now balled into tight fists that still occasionally tried once more to reach out and grab for White, only to come up short and scrunch up, and Pink’s distress only seemed to agitate her more.

“Can she not speak?” Blue questioned, now very curious, though it was obvious she was on edge with White being so close. Her voice, however, caught the crying gemling’s attention and she turned large, round, watery eyes to Blue, sobs quieting to sniffles as she observed her.

Pink took this moment of relative silence to answer, her words rushing out with a shaker breath, “Not yet, I apparently have to teach her how to.”

“Teach her?” Yellow frowned, feeling that headache once more, “she can’t walk, she can’t speak, she can’t even look you in the eyes without you to told its head up. Why even have it made? What’s the use? It isn't a gem, and it's not one of your silly animals. If anyone were so inclined, it could be considered an abomination.”

“Use? Abomination!?” Pink snarled at Yellow, teeth bared and her eyes blazing with true anger now, no longer concerned that White stood between them. “My little gem doesn’t-“

“Now now,” White interrupted and everyone but the gemling in Pink’s arms grew quiet, the anger quickly draining from Pink’s face as White’s hand came up to touch one pointed finger against Zirconia, who quickly and happily grasped it like she had done Pink’s. “stop this yelling. Let me see her, my dear Pink.”

Pink stood still as Zirconia held onto White’s finger, who in turned studied her. The tense silence that had been building was suddenly broken by Zirconia’s peels of laughter as the very tip of White finger touched her gem, the diamond on her chest sparked to life as it glowed and cast White’s hand and Pink’s face in brilliant orange light.

Pink stared down in awe of her little gem, “She's never done that before!” Her eyes shined with adoration, and this seemed to appease something for Zirconia, who released White finger in favor of reaching once more for Pink’s face.

“Hmm,” White hummed as she righted herself, “I see. This little one has a great future ahead of her. So much potential, I wouldn’t dismiss her yet, Yellow.”

“But she’s not even a real gem! We can’t treat her like-“ Yellow snapped before she could restrain herself, but abruptly stopped when White held out her hand in a gesture for silence and Yellow did not challenge this, even as she seethed inside.

“Regardless of her origins, she is a Diamond. Look and see. Does that gem on her chest not prove it so?”

“I…I will have nothing to do with her-it!” Yellow growled, “I have better things to do than teach it what it should already know.” Her hands clenched at her side in frustration.

Instead of reacting in anger to Yellow words, Pink simply smiled at the little one in her arms, a single finger gently petting a chubby cheek as she finally began to doze off, “You’ll see Yellow, she’s worth our time. You'll love her.”

Yellow simply grunted and turned, all but stomping from the room, her little pearl running to catch up with her.

“Indeed.” White turned from watching Yellow leave to look at Pink, “I expect great things from our little Orange Diamond.”

“Zirconia.”

“What?” White questioned, a slight tilt of her head towards Pink.

“Her name,” Pink said quietly, “she's not quite a Diamond, but she isn't human either. I called her Zirconia.”

“ I see…” White was quiet for an uncomfortably long moment, “very well, but I must urge you to understand, to the rest of the empire she must be known as a Diamond. No one else may know just whatshe is. We need not make such unnecessary unrest in our courts. You understand, right, Starlight?”

“I…” Pink stared down at the sleeping being protected in her arms. Yellow was right, she was neither a gem, nor one of her beloved humans. She was something special, but she was also something others would take advantage of if they knew she was anything but one of them. She was at risk, and Pink would not allow her to be hurt. She looked up into White’s eyes, determination shining brightly in her own, “I understand.”

The eldest Diamond nodded and turned to follow where Yellow had gone, before stopping. “also, I would like to see these notes on how Orange Diamond was made, and meet with these scientist. Truly, she is incredible.”

“Yellow wants me to destroy them.” Pink said, suddenly feeling weary as White looked at her from over her shoulder.

“I will take care of it after I have seen it myself.”

“Of course…I’ll have my pearl send you everything.”

“Excellent. Take care, Starlight.”

Pink watched as White left, Blue lingering for a moment to look them over before leaving as well, and Pearl joined her side as Pink turned her attention to Zirconia, who was oblivious to what had just occurred. “Great things.” Pink whispered, “She’s right. You will be amazing. I know it.”

Chapter Text

Yellow held the smallest diamond she had ever had the displeasure of seeing in her fingers, large orange eyes blinked at her with innocent curiosity and she reached out for her with chubby arms and hands, but Yellow did not move to lay her on her chest as she had seen Blue do when she had made a similar gesture. Instead, Yellow rolled her eyes at this…gem that Pink had made. She didn’t speak more than a few words that she threw around and confused her gem handlers more often than they aided and often communicated with her hands, mainly making grabbing motions. Yellow was absolutely at a loss as to what to do with it, but did not dare to cross White when she had ordered for the gemling to be passed around between them, the four being White, Blue, Pink, and herself, so that she could learn how to be a diamond as well as be properly looked after while she grew. Of course, a select few gems had been hand picked to aid in Orange’s care and handling, sworn to secrecy and threatened with a fate worse than shattering if they spoke of Orange to anyone outside of those who already knew of her, but that hardly made this easier for Yellow now. Yellow simply had no idea how this thing was supposed to learn how to be anything when it couldn’t even walk on its feet properly without a pearl to hold it up by its hands.

“Pearl, take care of this.” Yellow ordered, leaning down and placing the young diamond against Pearl’s chest, not even waiting for her to fully wrap her arms around her before she let go, making Pearl scramble to catch her and remain holding her while she tried to find her balance at the sudden weight added to her front with a gasped, “Wuh- oh!”

Orange, while relatively tiny in comparison to Yellow, was nearly half of Pearl’s size and incredibly heavy. She was no quartz, and Pearl had to pull at everything she had to keep from dropping the Diamond that now clung to her, reaching up with curious hands to grab and tug at her hair, unaware, or perhaps just uncaring, of how strong she was.

Leaning her head back so she wouldn’t have it tugged to one side by her hair, she tried to give her Diamond an alarmed and confused look, trying to convey just how lost she was on her orders, but Yellow only had eyes for the screens projected in front of her. IF Yellow Diamond had said ‘take care of this’ about any other gem, Pearl would have assumed she meant to either send them away or perhaps even have them be repurposed or, at worst, shattered. However, she had a feeling her Diamond would be less than pleased if she attempted to do away with the…confusing diamond in her arms.

“I, uh, my Diamond, I’m not sure what-“ Pearl began, being cut off as Orange had finally managed to grab ahold of her hair and gave another inquisitive tug. “OW, Hey! Uh, I mean,” she paused, she was yelling at a Diamond, but at the same time she wasn’t? Oh stars, she was not made for this.

“Just entertain her,” Yellow glared at Pearl from the corners of her eyes, a thoroughly displeased frown on her lips that had Pearl feeling fear blooming in her stomach, and she decided she much rather deal with hair pulling than Yellow Diamond’s wrath.

“Right, yes, of course, my Diamond.”

Chapter Text

Yellow had been deep into her work, going over reports from one of her asteroid mines. Repetitive complaints and acceptable results of minerals harvested from the head Agate filled her view, when she distractedly noted it had been some time since she had heard a single noise from the tiny gem in her care. It took her a moment to process this before she look-up from her screen to where her ward normally stayed, in the general view in front of her, expecting to see her still staring through the panel, transfixed on her colony and the Gems under her command, or at least beside her being entertained by Pearl. Instead, she was just met with the sight of decorative stone and the planet surface beyond her base. Looking to her right, her Pearl was doing work of her own, but no gemling to be seen.

Yellow would never admit to the small burst of panic that bloomed in her chest. Standing up quickly, ignoring her pearl’s startled look at her sudden movement, she used her superior height to her advantage to look around the room, there was not much to obstruct her view except her chair in the center and Pearl’s own seating next to it, so there was no place for the gem to hide. She took the two steps it required for her long stride to reach the side of her chair and look behind it just to be sure, it wouldn’t be the first time Orange had hidden behind it just for something to lean against. When she came up Orangeless, Yellow moved for the stairs, that small feeling of panic growing. If she had made it down the stairs without her seeing, then she could have possibly made it outside the base. It’s not like any of the gems that worked inside her personal base would try to stop her, though she would have hoped those idiots would have informed her she had left the base! Stars help her if that brat had left the safety of her base and had wandered into the untamed wild of the nearby forest. Blue would have her ass on a silver platter for ‘letting her out of her sights’, as if she didn’t have anything more important to do besides wasting her time babysitting.

Descending the winding staircase in quick strides, Yellow came to a halt halfway down. Below her, at the center of the room, lay Orange on her side, her head resting on an outstretched arm and long orange hair spread out around her. The large observation orb was lit up and projecting a view of one of the kindergartens planet-side. The blue light it cast around the dimmed room gave Orange a softer tint than her normal bright hue, and long shadows were drawn from her body across the floor. Now knowing Orange was still safe inside the base, Yellow’s panic transformed into anger. She didn’t have time for this, and she had explicitly told the young gem that, and yet here she was, on a hunt for her supposedly missing ward.

Completing her decent of the stairs, Yellow made a b-line for her, “Orange! What I have I told you about touching-“ her voice trailed off when she saw her tiny face up close. Soft, cubby features scrunched up, her cheeks were wet with tears, but she appeared to be asleep. Yellow’s first instinct was to find out what had made Orange upset enough to cry and destroy it, but she pushed this aside quickly, it was the erratic and over emotional actions she expected from Blue or Pink. She had more self control than that, and it was most likely a dream that had made her cry, it’s not like Yellow Diamond could punish nightmares. Just as well, she did not dare wake her up to find out, and Yellow was sure Orange had exhausted herself in her fit, and she was in no mood to deal with a cranky child. Turning off the orb, uninterested in the view it offered her, she bent down and gently picked Orange up off the floor. She straightened slowly, as not to jolt her awake and set her against her chest, pausing when she felt the odd sensation of warmth against her gem as Orange’s cheek rested on it. As quietly as she could, she went back up the staircase to return to the control room, one hand protectively holding the tiniest diamond’s unconscious body to her, soft whimpers making her look down occasionally to insure she was alright. ‘Bad dream’, she thought again.

It was still such an odd thing to her, sleeping and dreaming. What use it served and why Orange needed it still baffled the gem matriarch, dropping out of unconscious for bits of time like that without retreating into her gem was alarming at first. but she chalked it up to being a part of Orange’s weaker organic nature, and thought perhaps it was something she might outgrow, like a bad habit. Though, for the time being, it meant a much easier to watch Orange and Yellow Diamond did not find it so unfavorable as she first had.

When she finally returned to the control room, she was greeted by her Pearl standing up and giving her a confused and curious look as she took in the sight of her Diamond holding the smaller one.

“My Diamond?”

Yellow silenced any other words she had with an intense glare. If she woke Orange up she would pay dearly. This was, after all, an opportune time to get work done. That is to say, there were no unending questions, distracting laughs as she and Pearl drew absurd things together, or even long stretches of silence when she wanted to simply watch the compound at work with its many gems moving about, which often ended up with Yellow looking up constantly just to make sure she was still there. It just so happened this time she had not been. A first, and what she hoped to make the last.

Sitting down, she carefully leaned forward, using both her hands to gently remove her from her chest and placed her in her lap after she had comfortably crossed her legs, watching as Orange curled up and pressed her face into her leg, a small hand grasping the fabric of her pants. Orange had once sat there when she was two centuries younger, when she had been much smaller and more helpless than she was now, unable to really move around on her own and almost dangerously small for a gem of her size to handle, but almost too big for Pearl to carry. She had been growing in size rapidly, she wondered if she would only be as tall as Pink when she stopped, or would she remain smaller, too inhibited by her organic side to be like the rest of the diamonds.

Yellow pushed the thought away, currently it didn’t matter, for that question would only be answered in time, and the gemling in question was fast asleep and resting in her lap where she could see her and finish her work in peace. She was already behind schedule and would scold Orange later.

Chapter Text

“Yellow?”

Yellow made a noise in the back of her throat that sounded a lot like ‘Hnn’ as she continued to type away at her screen, and Orange waited patiently for her to finish whatever it was she was doing. After a few moments of silence, filled only with the soft Beep of the screen as it accepted commands, she was rewarded by Yellow turning her eyes from the screen to her. She stood a few paces away from Yellow’s command chair, where she would be easily seen instead if she had been directly by Yellow’s feet, or invading her space.

Yellow looked at her expectantly, “What is it?”

“Will you teach me how to be a diamond?” her voice was uncharacteristically quiet, she wasn’t even sure Yellow was able to hear her until her lips pursed, and Orange knew she had.

Out of her peripheral, Orange could see Yellow’s pearl turning her head rapidly from looking at her, then up to Yellow Diamond, and back again. Her hands had pulled away from her own screen she had been doodling on, which Orange could make out misshapen stick figures from the translucent yellow screen. Her hands were curled up in front of her, and the apprehensive expression on her face made Orange think she was expecting something to happen, and it only fueled Orange’s nervous more. Was that something she’s not supposed to say? Did she phrase that wrong?

Yellow blinked and then her brow pinched, as if just processing what had been said. One dark eyebrow rose, giving the smaller gem a questioning look, though Orange found it to be more condescending than inquisitive as she spoke, “What do you think you’ve been doing here, if not learning how to be a diamond?”

“Staring at windows and watching you work.” Orange said with a sudden rush of boldness, but couldn’t ignore or hide the underlying fear of talking to Yellow like that. The last thing she wanted was to make Yellow angry with her, she was scary to be around when she was mad. Generally, Yellow was civil when she was around, but she could recall times when she was younger and had witnessed her lose it on a few underlings, it had been really scary to her at the time. she could remember crying a lot then, and Yellow, exasperated with her, had made her pearl escort her from the room and attempt to calm her down. it had been a bad day, but Orange had grown since then, and she didn’t cry when Yellow yelled, at least at other people. If anything, Orange had witnessed from her own mother that yelling and whining usually got you what you wanted, if you did so often enough, though she didn’t think it would work well on Yellow.

Initially, the only real reason Orange had been frightened by Yellow was because she was so much bigger than her Mama, and she had told her to be careful around the older Diamonds because they could hurt her if she made her mad. But Yellow had never laid a finger on her, except to move her around much faster than her little legs could take her, which meant fun rides on Yellow’s shoulder. She really appreciated those.

However, instead of being angry, Yellow simply sighed and pushed at her screen, which obediently turned to the side and Orange caught glimpses of words and a picture of a ship, but didn’t remain focused on them long and instead watched Yellow lean forward to look at her more directly.

Yellow’s expression remained placid and her posture while not lax, was non threatening to her small ward, “And just what is it you want me to teach you?”

“To do what you do.” She answered simply.

“I command entire legions of gemkind, I rule over billions, I manage resources and the creation of new gems altogether, and you think I should teach you how to do all that?”

Orange’s hopeful eyes dimmed and she cast her gaze to the ground in shame, not wanting to see Yellow’s disapproval and annoyance any longer than she had to. She tried really hard not too get in her way, she knew Yellow was essential to their empire, she had commented she did the work of two Diamonds and that her free time was sparse. It had been a stupid idea to ask Yellow for some of that time to learn, but she really wanted to help! She was a diamond too, but she didn’t know how she could help Yellow, or Blue, or even her mother. They just set her aside and told her to keep out of the way. Half the time she felt more like an ornamental pearl than a diamond.

“I wanted to help.” Was all Orange replied with, her voice sounded tiny even to her.

A loud sigh above her made her glance up in time to see Yellow reach out, her hand settling down near her, palm facing up. When Orange didn’t immediately get on, Yellow’s eyes narrowed at her, “Well?”

Quickly, Orange scurried onto her handing holding on to her thumb as she was lifted up, up, up, and then placed gently onto Yellow’s lap. She held on as Yellow moved backwards in the chair, leaning fully against the hard back and reaching out to adjust the screen in front of her, tilting it ever so slightly so Orange could see better from her lower position. Orange relaxed against Yellow’s lower belly while she crossed her legs, staring up in complete interest of what was happening on the holographic rectangle above her.

Yellow looked down, ensuring she was looking the screen, “Now pay attention, I will not repeat myself, understood?”

With Orange’s rapid nods, Yellow turned to face the screen and pointed, beginning their first lesson together, “This is my direct line to my ship’s captain. Captains of a ship like this are most always a Nephrite.”

Chapter Text

With one leg folded over the other, Yellow’s chin rested on the back of her hand as she leaned to the side of her command chair, watching as Orange moved sluggishly over to the two Amethyst guards that she had assigned to be her escorts while she was with her. While certainly not the most competent of gems, the two did well with Orange, and Orange never complained about them before, so Yellow assumed they were at least doing their job adequately.

Orange stopped in her lead-foot shuffle to cover a large yawn with the back of her hand, which made the two guard grin widely at her.

“Lookin’ tired there, my diamond.”

“‘Course she is, unlike you she actually works.”

The second jabbed and her counterpart turned to playfully hit her in the shoulder. “Hey!”

“Shut it 9X! I work too!”

“Talking with the peridots hardly counts as work.”

Yellow narrowed her eyes at their loud banter, which they must have sensed because they looked up at her, met her stare and immediately stood at attention, waiting for Orange to reach them and parted to allow her to walk in-between them so they flanked her.

It was well past time for a rest period, but her ward had been adamant in continuing their lesson until she was practically falling asleep in her lap. Yellow admired her determination to learn at least, but her stubbornness could be tedious and grating, and it only became more prominent when she was tired. It was at these times that Yellow would have flashbacks of Pink hanging from the arms of her chair, constantly calling her name for attention, and generally being a nuisance. Yellow could see the odd similarity between Orange and Pink in these rare moments and be reminded she was indeed Pink’s creation and hadn’t actually been made like the rest of them.

Yellow watched as the three made their way from her command room, the two amethysts’ banter picking right back up from where it left off. Orange seemed to be ignoring it all in favor of staring at the ground in front of her feet as she walked. They must have assumed they were safe from their Diamond’s scrutiny because their friendly ribbing had turned into a pushing match.

Yellow wished she could say she had yelled at them, had decided then she would be replacing the two childish guards with more experienced citrines, or had done something to dissuade their behavior, but she couldn’t, because she hadn’t. Instead, she had prepared to return to her work in favor of ignoring them and punishing them later if it happened again.

But before she could even pull her display up she had heard a shout and a sharp gasp and her head snapped back to the three, prepared to reprimand their foolish behavior, only she had turned just in time to see what was happening. The three had moved past the opened doors of her command room and stood on the upper platform, prepared to defend the side staircase to go to Orange’s chambers, only the guard’s roughhousing had picked up, Orange completely oblivious to this as she neared the edge of the platform, too tired to care what was happening behind her.

It was then that Yellow felt fear that she hadn’t felt in a long time. The kind of fear that left you paralyzed and filled with a sort of cold that made you want to move but you couldn’t, nothing would move, even as your mind panicked with the realization of what was happening, and the only thing she could do was feel her eyes widen, the event happened so fast.

She saw the two quartz delinquents continued their shoving match, only this time one of the quartz had pushed the other hard enough to send them stumbling, tripping over their own feet and crashing into Orange, who was unprepared for the sudden hit to her back and was knocked off the platform as the quartz landed face first on the floor only to quickly scramble on her stomach to the edge to peer over. Her partner rushed to look over as well, standing over her, the two surveyed the floors below in quiet terror.

It felt like a century, but she knew was only a few seconds, before her senses came back to her and she was on her feet and rushing towards them. She ignored their panicked faces when they looked up at her, rage and terror at war inside her, caught between needing to know if Orange was alright and wanting to smash these gems under her boot for their idiocy.

Her form towered well over theirs, look over the platforms edge where she could see the lower floors, all connected by the staircase. Down below, a far drop even to her, many gems that had been going about their business now stood in stunned silence, staring at the place where Orange had fallen, or rather, been pushed. Yellow’s sharp eyes took only seconds to located her, or more precisely, her gem, laying untouched on the floor where no one dared to move.

It was in that moment that the rage won and she turned on her heel, static and lighting surged around her light form.

“M-my diamond!” the standing quartz soldier stuttered, taking a step back in fear.

The other, either more brave, or perhaps stupid, got to her knees and bowed her head, speaking with a pleading tone that was completely lost on Matriarch, “it was an accident! were sorry, it-”

Her hand reached out towards them, her power shooting from her fingertips and hitting the two quartz soldier so hard their forms dissipated instantly, their gems hit the floor with a twin tink. she would see them harvested for this. The lighting had barely started to vanish from her form when she began to descend the stairs in bounds, reaching the lower landing in record time. All the gem that had once been in frozen animation suddenly came to life, scurrying into lines and saluting her. She ignored them too as she all but ran to where Orange’s gem was, still laying untouched where she had been given a wide berth because no one had dared to move to touch her, which was good because Yellow knew she would have dissipated their forms as well.

Carefully, with a gentleness that was perhaps uncharacteristic for her, she picked up the tiny gem, unsure if it had sustained any damage in the fall, and if it had she did not wish to make it worse. Turning the gem over in her hand, she inspected it for any cracks and only breathed a sigh of relief when she could not spot any damage to it. Orange had simply sustained too much damage to her form and hadn’t actually injured her gem, that was good news at least. What was not good was the thought that she’d have to report this to the other diamonds.

It looked bad on her that Orange had not only been injured, but hurt so badly she had had to retreat into her gem, all on her watch. She could already feel the headache forming at the knowledge that she was going to get an earful from a hysterical Pink, not to mention Blue, whom would have her own lecture to give. Yellow cradled the gem in her palm as she returned to her command room at a much calmer pace than she had left it, stopping only to order the two destabilized guards be bubbled and sent to homeworld for their punishment. After it had been taken care of, she sat heavily in her chair, suddenly feeling drained herself and pinched the bridge of her nose more in habit of a frustrating situation than anything. she leaned back, placing Orange’s gem in her lap, staring at it with an unfamiliar feeling of guilt, but pushed it away to be dealt with later, or more preferably never.

She went to cross her legs only to remember the gem she had placed there and decided to bubble the gem, allowing it to float above her chair. She didn’t think Orange would be returning any time soon and she didn’t wish to risk her falling from her lap or being knocked off. Wouldn't that be the cherry on top of her wonderful day to be the one that actually damaged Orange.

With Orange safe in her bubble, she made the decision to write up a quick report and then she’d make the call, prepared to deal with three diamond’s wrath.

Chapter Text

Watery, deep orange-rimmed eyes were cast down to her hands that laid facing up in her lap, warm tears freely falling onto them and the bottom of her tunic as they rolled off her chin, her shoulders shaking as she tried to hold them back unsuccessfully. Two large, light blue hands encircled her, fingers meeting behind her and holding her in place on the larger gem’s lap, a silent comfort as she cried.

Her voice was thick and trembled when she finally managed to speak, “She doesn’t want me around anymore.”

“Oh Orange,” One of Blue’s hands moved from behind her, one large finger was placed under her chin and gently tilted her head up to meet her lowered gaze, “That isn’t true. Pink loves you, but this is her first colony. She doesn’t know how to split her attention between you and it. Just give it time.”

Orange gave a loud sniff, her brow twisted downward and she pushed her finger away, her head turned to glare at the wall to her right and angrily wiped at the tears still freely sliding down her face with the back of her hand. “All she ever does is talk about those stupid organics and how wonderful her colony is. She cares more about those organics than she does about me. If I was shattered, she wouldn’t even notice until you or Yellow told her.”

“Don’t say such things, Orange!” Blue’s voice was oddly high pitched as she scolded her, eyes wide and alarmed. Blue’s heart plummeted into her stomach, the image of a tiny orange gem in broken pieces at her feet came unbidden in her mind. It twisted her gut, imagining Yellow’s pinched face as she buried her feelings, Pink’s large eyes sad and watery, reddened from crying so much, and herself hunched over and crying into her hands over the little pieces of the smallest diamond. It took great effort to push the images down and not dwell on how the very thought hurt her deeply. She did not wish to live to see a day that one of them died.

She forced herself to take a deep breath, her expression turned into something more calm, hoping to soothe the young gem with her own soft and serene emotions. Her aura slowly, gently reached out to touch at the flickering orange aura before her, orange flames snapped and pushed back, hissing and unyielding, and for a moment it worked. The flames kept the large body of blue emotion that was her own at bay, though it was subconscious, they were only natural mental barriers that lacked any conviction to keep her out, and thus eventually relented under her prodding. Orange’s mental strength was no match for hers and those flames were eventually engulfed in the watery blue, turning a once wild, rapidly moving blaze into a languid flickering flame, rolling slowly around her.

She watched as it took a moment to actually take effect, but Orange slumped slightly against her, looking less angry and simply worn out, but even the tight pinch of her brow and clenched fists showed she still fought against it. Orange was so strongly willed, or maybe it was simply a unique ability of her own, that she was able to block and fight against Blue for so long could only be expected from a fellow Diamond. It was simply another thing Blue could mark on a list that proved Orange was just like them. But as much as she was a Diamond, she was still so young and inexperienced in what she could potentially do, it was no surprise to Blue that she could only resist for so long.

Once she deemed Orange was sufficiently subdued she continued to speak in that same gentle tone she had used before, “Orange, you know that isn’t true. Pink would be absolutely devastated if you were shattered.” She reached up and stroked the soft tangerine colored hair that stuck up oddly on her head, tacking on, “We all would be.”

Orange was quiet while she brushed her hair with her fingers, her flushed cheeks pushed into her lower belly as she grabbed fist fulls of her robe. When she finally spoke, her voice was low and she sounded so lost and unsure, Blue’s hand paused briefly at the heartbreaking sound.

“Really?”

“Truly.” Her hand resumed carding through her long hair, “You are one of us, one day you’ll be apart of our Authority and you’ll share the same responsibilities that Pink does now, that Yellow, White, and I do. We diamonds must stay together, for our own sake, as well as for gemkind.”

“Sometimes….” Orange’s voice quivered, dying for a moment before coming back as a whisper that Blue had to strain to hear as she spoke into her robe, like she hoped the words would be lost in there, “Sometimes I don’t feel like a diamond.”

“Has someone told you that you’re not?” She tensed and if it had not been for both her hands touching Orange, Blue knew they would have clenched in anger. The very thought someone might have insinuated to her that she was anything but the very diamond she had been made to be did not sit well with her at all. Fleetingly, Yellow came to mind, but it was pushed aside. Yellow would not say such things to Orange, she knew her fellow diamond may not be so vocal about it, but it was obvious to them that she saw Orange much differently than she had mere centuries ago when she had labeled her as useless. She was a growing being, learning from them no differently than Pink had, as they had to do, even if she changed in appearance occasionally.

‘A part of the process.’ White Diamond had commented once, a sentence that had stuck with Blue. It always struck her as odd how well informed and knowing White was when it came to Orange, but than again, this was White. She had always come across as…almost omniscient. She knew things that you never expected her to know, did things before you ever knew it needed to be done. It was something that had taken Blue a long time to get used to.

“No.”

Orange broke her from her thoughts and she looked down, though Orange’s face was still turned from her. Blue’s hand continued moving through her hair, which seemed to be calming her, as it had done when she was smaller and was easily upset by the simplest things. After this, when it was just her and Orange had laid down for a rest, Blue thought she might make a call to Pink, perhaps to the other Diamonds as well. They would need to know about this, to help Orange if it ever occurred again. Whatever was happening between Orange and Pink was having an adverse effect on the youngest diamond and that would eventually effect them all.

She spoke in a light, questioning tone, “Then why would you think such silly things?”

“Because i’m not like any of you.” She briefly looked up to meet her gaze before it turned back down to her lap, “Why am i so small, and why does everyone treat me like I’m so fragile? if I’m a diamond, shouldn’t i be harder to break?” her hands twisted the fabric of her dress and tears came back to the corners of her eyes, “And why do i need to rest when you guys don’t? i don’t understand it. White says it takes time to understand certain things, but how long do I have to wait before I understand why I’m so different?” her eyes clenched shut as the tears leaked from he eyes and her voice lowered again, “I don’t want to be different.”

Blue waited until she finished, letting Orange vent all that had built up and burdened her, driving doubt into her being. It hurt to hear just how much Orange was questioning herself. Where had they gone wrong? What had they not done to reassure Orange she was perfect just as she was, that she was just as she was meant to be? These were questions for another time, however, and she resolved to help Orange now.

Gradually, with a gentleness that had been perfected over a long time of having to be cautious with Pink and now Orange, Blue pried her small hands from her robe and picked her up from her lap, bring her up to rest against her shoulder while she pressed her cheek into her head and nearly half her back, truly Orange was so small in comparison. she felt her arms spread out to hold her in her own version of a hug, and blue smiled as she moved to curl up slightly against her chest, one hand still holding Orange to keep her from falling.

“I can’t answer all of your questions,” Blue lowered her voice since Orange was so much closer to her face now, “but know this, you are so different from everyone because you are you, my little Orange. You are unique, just as any of us are. I am not like Yellow, and Yellow is not like Pink nor she like White. We are different, it is a part of what makes us effective as separate rulers. You are still so young, and White is correct, it will take time to understand, even if you want to know right now. In time, you’ll see that these differences make us stronger as diamonds, and when you have your own court, I have no doubt that it will be nothing like mine, or even Pink’s, but it will be strong and you’ll have gems who follow you because you are perfect, just as you are.”

As she spoke she could feel the tension and fight leaving Orange, her body becoming heavy against her and Blue knew it was time for Orange’s rest period, especially when Orange spoke and her words came out slow and drawn out, “Do you think my court will like me?”

The question made Blue giggle, and she looked down at Orange with so much love in her eyes, she wished she could keep her just like this forever.

“Yes, Orange. They will adore you.”

Chapter Text

White turned her head, her eyes searching her pristine, white room, as tiny wails bounced off the ornate walls. She knew the sound, and exactly who it was coming from, but could not find hide nor hair of the little gemling.

“Pearl?” she called and her little Pearl appeared before her, smiling as she bowed in repeat. Without so much as a prompt from her, her pearl turned her head in the direction to the hall to her left.

“She is in there, my Diamond.”

‘Ah, of course.’ Standing up, White Diamond moved elegantly across the floor, os fluid in her steps it was almost like she was floating, a feat to behold considering her size, as she followed the wails of her cute little ward. She gave Orange free free rein to wander around her palace to her hearts content, instead of keeping her firmly in her sights at all times, like Blue and Yellow did. Orange was a Diamond, no matter how unconventionally she was made, and White herself had deemed her flawless. As a diamond, she had to learn how to act and be a diamond before she could take the rule as one, and she would never learn how if she was constantly at her side doing nothing.

Entering the hall, she looked from archway to archway, thought stained glass and open rooms as she passed. Her search did not continue for long, however, as she came upon the sight of little Orange, sitting undignified on the floor as three large gems crowed around her, looking quite panicked as they tried to placate her to no avail. Her little gemling had quite the set of lungs on her, it seemed, if she could hear her from all the way in her room to here.

Once her imposing figure had been noticed, so focused on trying to calm Orange down, did the three gems, two Amethyst and an Agate, stood up straight and formed a line behind the wailing diamond, saluting to her as they bowed their heads. They were no longer concerned with their previous attempts at quieting their charge, no doubt before she herself would come to investigate. How unfortunate for them Orange was quite the stubborn one.

“Oh, my little Orange, why are you crying?” She questioned, tilting her head and waited for Orange to get her rushed breathing and tears under control and to look up at her with those adorable bright eyes.

“My Diamond-“ the Amethyst on the right started to say before being cut off by the Agate in the middle, hitting them in the chest hard enough that they stumbled back a step. White narrowed her eyes at the three of them and the stood ramrod straight, if at all possible, preforming the Diamond’s salute even harder. She had not asked them, and did not wish to hear any of them speak.

“Orange?” she coaxed again, bending down and reaching for her with one large hand. The moment her fingers touched her, Orange cracked open her eyes to look at her through tears, seemingly realizing she was here just now, before turning and latching onto her thumb, not putting up any resistance as White picked her up and cradled her inner hand. It was almost odd, dealing with a gem that hadn’t come out of the ground ready and knowing what it was to do. Instead, she had a small diamond in her hand, one that would continue to grow and learn, molded by the diamonds who cared for her. White Recognized how unique and special this circumstance was, how if they did this right, Orange could be the best of them, the most perfect gem since she herself had emerged.

“Tell me what happened.” She didn’t quite order, but her tone left no room for Orange to question if she could ignore her request.

“Amethyst hit me in the face and called me a crybaby!” she wailed, once again crying large tears and her hands, balled into fist, rubbed at her eyes.

The very air around them seemed to thicken and turn cold, the three gems below her remained perfectly still, but the look of fear was permanently etched into their features as White’s angular eyes looked down at them, her expression no longer smiling for Orange. Instead of the punishment they were expecting, White turned her head, placing one very pointed fingertip to Orange’s head and petting her hair, “Its alright, little one. I’m here, and your alright.”

This combination seemed to alleviate the worst of her tears, satisfying White Diamond for the moment.”Pearl?”

Her pearl appeared beside her from the wall, her bubble half lowered, allowing her to remain floating int he air as she bowed to her. “Yes, My Diamond?”

“Take Orange and return her to my room. See to it she has everything she needs.”She ordered, tenderly placing the gemling onto the platform beside her Pearl, though she had to gently shake off Orange’s hands when she didn’t want to let go. It warmed her heart how attached she was to the littlest Diamond, and she to her. Orange did not fear her like the other three did, she trusted and loved her, perhaps almost naively so, but it endeared her to Whit all the same.

Orange’s Large eyes widened as the bubble reformed and she turned to look at White’s Pearl, who had her eyes closed and a soft smile on her lips, the expression she always had, never changing. A moment later, the bubble collapsed and she found herself back in White’s command room, seated on an open marble floor. To a smaller gem it must have looked almost like a stage, considering it had been made for a Diamond. She herself was barely taller than White’s Pearl, but she could remember being smaller than her at one point. She wanted to be even taller, to see what White saw when she stood up and looked down at her court, to see every loyal face of every gem who was made to serve just her in one swoop of her eyes instead of the hopping she had to do just to see a little bit in front of her, over Quartz soldiers, or requiring one of the other Diamonds to lift her where she had to join their Pearls, who Yellow said was beneath her, and yet she had to stay with hem? It confused Orange, and made her wish she would grow quicker. She didn’t have White’s patience.

Tears still occasionally leaded from her eyes, and her cheek really hurt, but she did her best to ignore it as Pearl lead her to an angular chair, one that had been made specifically for her when she stayed with White. She didn’t comment on how she was outgrowing it as she sat down, legs being forced together a little more than they had last time she sat here.

“Are you alright, My Diamond?” Pearl asked as she opened her eyes to look at her in concern.

Orange liked the soft color of her eyes, and how kind she was to her, even if she was just a Pearl and it was her purpose to attend to her diamonds. She wondered what her own pearl would be like when she finally got one. Hopefully like her.’ Orange thought, ‘Or maybe Blue’s’. Orange also wondered if any pearl could do that bubble thing Pearl did to get around White’s palace, or was that something unique just to her? She had a million questions building, but thought it ride to start interrogating Pearl when she was trying to follow White’s orders. Instead of asking, she favored to reach up and touch the cheek that had been hit by that brute of a gem. Her light, exploratory touch made pain bloom in her face and she felt tears slip from her eyes.

Without a word, Pearl leaned in, placing her hands either side of her ja without actually putting them against her. “May I touch you, My Diamond?” She questioned.

Orange gave a small nod and felt cool hands cup her jaw, turning her head so the offending cheek was in her direct line of sight. Orange said nothing as she inspected it.

“Oh, my poor Diamond,” she said and made a ‘tsk’ sound, shaking her head, “I can hardly believe those beasts hurt you. The nerve them to ever lay a hand on you, My Clarity.”

Orange felt a strange sense of pride at Pearl’s words. Only she and occasionally Blue Diamond’s Pearl talked to her like that, addressing her with all the titles and formal words she would to any of the other Diamonds. It made her feel like she actually was one for a change. Yellow’s Pearl would call her ‘My Diamond’, but rarely interacted with her given how long she was with Yellow, and her mother’s Pearl, while formal with her, was skittish, and almost seemed scared of her. It was only when her mother ordered Pearl to look after her that she stayed near her, and it was often in awkward silence until they were rescued by her mother’s return.

“How is she, Pearl?”

Orange was brought out of her thoughts as she looked up, suddenly very happy whence met White’s shining eyes. White was so nice to her, like Blue, but didn’t keep her trapped like a pet. White let her do her own thing, putting true tin her not to make trouble and Orange did her best to stay out of any. It was a fear of hers to disappoint White Diamond. She never wanted to make her upset, if anything, she wanted to be like her. She wanted to be regal and commanding like her, with all the intelligence and toughness of Yellow, understanding but firm rule of Blue, and the loving and curious nature of her mother’s. She wanted to be all these things, but she didn’t know hoe to yet.

Patience. It will come.

“She has a bad wound on her face, My Diamond.” She answered, turning to look at White before back to the marks on Orange’s cheek, her voice lowered as she added, “Those shallow-cut clods deserve worse than harvesting for what they did to her.”

Orange liked that Pearl seemed to take offense for her, though she was wondering what harvesting was. She had heard Yellow’s pearl call someone shallow-cut before and understood it was an insult, but harvesting had never been said in her presence before. Was that some kind of physical punishment? Really hard work for bad gems maybe? She would ask Yellow next time she was due to be in her care, that sounded like something she was in charge of, and she could count on Yellow to be straight forward with her.

“Let’s see.” Orange watched as White drifted across the room from he archway entrance, notably without her previous guards in tow. Orang really hoped they got punished for hurting her. When White reached her, she bent down, her hand reaching out and the every tips of her fingers touched under her jaw. Unlike Pearl, White did not ask permission to touch her, but Orange did not pull away, and instead allowed her to repeat Pearl’s earlier act of turning her head. “My, that is bad. It looks worse than it had before. You must be in such pain, my little Orange.”

Orange shook her head in the negative, suddenly wanting to seem much tougher than she felt. Stars, yes her face hurt, but White didn’t need to know that. This earned her a giggle from White, a sound Orange didn’t hear often but liked all the same, it meant she had done something good, she believed.

“SO brave. But, it would be unseemly for a Diamond to go around with such a scuff on her face. Hold still, my little Orange.”

The little gem watched out of the corner of her eyes as White pulled the hand away that had been touching her chin and her fingers started to sparkle, a soft light glowing from them before she reached back down and pressed them ever so slightly against her cheek, like she would break if she wasn’t careful. Orange was hardly some Amber who scratched easily, but she wasn’t going to begrudge White’s caution when dealing with her. White was the strongest of them, and she could easily hurt Orange if she really wanted to.

Orange felt the sudden tingle against her skin and gasped in surprise, feeling the heat that had pooled under her eye vanish, taking all the pain and aches with it. Orange waited until White had pulled her hand away to touch her face, and she was happy when she felt no pain as she touched her cheek. White had never done that before. Or any of the other diamonds for that matter.

“Thats amazing.” Her eyes sparkled as she looked at White’s hand in awe, which had stopped glowing now, before looking up at her. “Can you teach me to do that too?”

This earned her an airy laugh, “Of course, my little Orange. I’d be happy to show you.”

Chapter Text

“Pearl?” she spoke in a hushed tone, low to try and keep it from being heard outside the ornate doors where she had ordered her citrine guards to stay, but Orange’s voice still carried in the large room, bouncing off bare white wall.

She was currently sitting with said Pearl, assigned to look after her while White was on a call, and instead of walking the palace halls like she normally liked to do, she sat in a room that overlooked the city. Homeworld was always breathtaking, and she couldn’t wait until she got to actually be a part of it, have her own colony, title as ruler, a pearl, everything. She was destined for greatness, now if only it could arrive sooner.

“Yes, my Diamond?” Pearl responded, her ever present smile turned towards the small diamond in front of her as she stood obediently behind her while she looked out the large glass window.

“Can I ask you a question?”

“You do not have to ask my permission, my Diamond. I serve you, just as I serve White Diamond.”

“Oh…well, did you always serve White? Or did you do something before this?”

“I…” White Pearl’s smile fell and her voice trailed before picking back up, now soft and almost hesitant, like her words were not something she should say, but she pushed on anyway at Orange’s insistent stare, “I have always served the Diamonds, but not always White.”

“So you weren’t made for White Diamond?” Orange turned fully in her seat to look at Pearl, expression fully showing her curiosity now.

“No, My Diamond.”

“Come on, Pearl!” Orange whined, gripping the side of her chair and leaning forward towards her companion, “Don’t leave it like that, you have to tell me, I-“ Orange stopped for a moment before she raised her head a little higher and pushed her shoulders back, a forced look of superiority on her face that she was sure Pearl saw right through based on the way her lips turned up, like Orange was making a silly face at her, which she probably was because it certainly didn’t feel right. “I am a diamond after all. Who did you work for before?”

“I was originally Pink diamond’s Pearl. I was later swapped for a more…mature pearl. I will be forever grateful to my Diamond, White Diamond,” she gave a little bow of her head, as if she was bowing to said diamond in person, “for allowing me to continue to serve the Diamonds as her own.”

“Oh…” Orange’s smug facade dropped and she blinked at Pearl, her head cocking slightly to the side, “but you seem so mature now, I don’t understand.”
“I was expected to curve Pink Diamond’s more…eccentric nature, and I was unfortunately not capable of doing so. I understand my Diamond’s reasons for replacing me.”

“Hmmm….I think,” Orange sat back down in her seat, legs dangling over and arms crossing as her brow furrowed in thought, which had caught Pearl’s attention as she focused on her words, “I think if you were my pearl, I wouldn’t have let you go so easily.” she glanced at Pearl, a little smile forming on her lips at Pearl’s surprised expression, with her wide gray eyes and slightly agape mouth. Pearl was the first person that was really nice to her, really treated her like she was a great diamond and not some oddity that they were unsure of how to interact with properly, or even who to pass her off onto. She couldn’t imagine what she’d be like now if Pearl had been gotten rid of simply because she couldn’t contain her mother’s large personality. “Im glad you're still with us, Pearl.”

Pearl’s head tucked against her chest, a light blush dusted her cheeks as she smiled widely, looking up as Orange turned back to the bright cityscape, eyes twinkling with something she had never seen before. “As am I, my Diamond.”

Chapter Text

Orange sat on the high sill of the room she had been confined in, not allowed to be at yet another party Pink Diamond was hosting. If she was seen by one of the aristocracy she’d be in a lot of trouble, but Pearl had yet to stop her from leaning over the edge and pressing her face to the glass for a better look. Orange was determined to at least watch the ongoings down below if she couldn’t join in the fun personally.

All four Diamonds she normally stayed with were attending, and thus Orange had been generously allowed by White to remain in an upper room of the palace, her only company being White’s pearl, who remained quiet and smiling all while she watched everything moving down below. It was almost like watching Yellow’s soldier while high up in her command tower.

Except these were not soldiers, but the highest and grandest of gems, talking and dancing, and yet Orange could tell there was more going on than just the fun social event it appeared to be. She had watched gems who were not partaking in the systematic dancing with their peers go from group to group, whispering conspiratorially behind hands with one another, casting glances at others they thought were going unnoticed. But they weren’t, Orange saw everything. At first, Orange had not understood why they would be gossiping, they were at a party, hosted by a Diamond no less, they should be living it up! But Orange realized quickly this was merely another one of those political moves for them, grandstanding and rumor spreading. Each gem trying to get ahead of a rival, trying to gain favor, and working to bring down anyone who had ever rubbed them the wrong way. A rather dry lesson from Blue, but a lesson she had (kinda-sorta) payed attention to none the less, and was finally coming in use.

This may not have been a battlefield with soldiers, but it was certainly a bloody war raging below.

Orange, upon this significant realization of the dealings going below, had felt like she had something over everyone else for the first time, as if she was finally the one with a secret that she could keep and hold over the others. But it was short lived when she also realized that it must have been obvious to White, Blue, and Yellow as well. The three sat at the front of the room in thrones, obviously made to be the center of attention even when not at the center of the room. Pink Diamond was in the smallest throne, situated below White, looking like she’d rather be on the dance floor than surrounded by her own diamond peers.

For once, Orange had to agree. Just looking at everyone mingling and turning together looked so much better than sitting there, simply watching. They weren’t even talking to one another, to pass the time.

“It looks like they’re having a lot of fun down there, doesn’t it?” Orange said, tossing the question over her shoulder to Pearl, who stepped up beside her to look at the scene below when she addressed her.

“Indeed, my Diamond.”

Orange stood up from her kneeling position on the sill to stand beside Pearl. It was evident now just how much Orange had grown when she stood almost a head and a half taller than Pearl. Orange was not nearly as thin as Pearl either, built rather thickly in comparison, though it was hidden some under her flowy tunic and leggings. Soon, Orange figured she might be able to pass as a quartz soldier.

The music was so loud it carried up to their room, slightly muted from the thick glass and grand walls, but still pleasantly audible. Orange turned to Pearl, her hand outstretched to the slighter gem, “dance with me.”

Pearl blinked, eyes rounded more than normal in surprise. “What?”

“Dance,” Orange wiggled her fingers, a grin forming on her face at Pearl’s owlish look, “With me.”

“But, but...my Clarity,” Pearl’s hands folded up against her chest and she took a step back from Orange, “dancing is for the courts, lower gems than yourself. If anyone were to see you dancing-“

“If anyone were to see me dancing, it’d be one of the guard, and the guard doesn’t gossip with the aristocracy. And besides, who is going to see us? No one will know.”

“My Diamond-“

“I told you to call me Orange.” The young diamond grinned, “I’m not White Diamond, so I’m not really your diamond, am I?”

“Orange.” She said in a whisper, testing the name, before saying it once more out loud. “Orange. Are you sure you wish to dance with...with a pearl?”

“If that pearl is you, then, yes.”

Pearl’s white cheeks dusted gray, and she took a moment before she took a deep breath, her smile returned in full force and she bowed to Orange, her hand reached out to be placed into hers. “It would be my honor to dance with you, Orange Diamond.”

“I believe the honor is mine, since I asked, Pearl.” Orange pulled her into a similar hold she had seen the jades uses earlier and immediately realized it might not work exactly for them when they did not fit together well. Pearl giggled and gently guided Orange into a new configuration where they were holding each other’s hands.

“Perhaps this will be better.”

Orange nodded, looking down at her feet as pearl took a step back, then forward, allowing Orange to move with her slowly. “I’ll follow your lead then.”

Pearl put one foot towards Orange, and Orange mimicked her, moving her opposite foot to her and the two turned together, switching places as Pearl lead Orange by the hand to make her move subtly in a new direction. The two moved slowly to the rhythm of music flitting into the room until Orange was more confident and started to move on her own.

Soon the two of them were twirling together on the floor, laughing freely as they made up their own steps together, clasped hands pulling and pushing each other into new moves, dips and steps until both of them were breathing heavy from laughing and exertion.

When they finally slowed to a stop even as the music played on, Orange remained holding Pearl’s hands, a large toothy grin splitting her face and cheeks flushed a deeper orange than normal, she looked down at her dance mate. “That was a lot more fun than I thought it’d be. We have to do that again.”

Chapter Text

Orange followed Pearl as she lead the way inside the moon base, only stopping to order her escorts to wait in the entrance hall and then for Pearl to open the doors for her. The pearl stood to the side of the door, hands clasped in front of her and head bowed in respect as Orange passed her and then scurryed to keep up with her longer stride. entering the command room, Orange looked around, the only thing of notice in the room was Pink’s command chair and desk high, situated up on a platform, accessible only by the stairs that were built into all side of the square dias. Outwardly, the view of the white moon the base was built on and the stars above could be seen, and if she went to the glass, she knew she would see that blue colony that she couldn’t wait to be finished.

She looked up when she heard the familiar gasp of Pink Diamond, her mother, standing up from her command chair to smile down at her, which Orange only returned with a well practiced neutral expression so as not to frown.

Pink came barreling down the stairs, three at a time and was at her in seconds, kneeling down on the floor just so she was at her height. Pink smiled widely down at her little Gemling, “Oh my! Look at you, you’ve changed so much since I last saw you. You look so adorable. I like this new look.” She gushed as she ran her fingers over Orange’s hair, two new tufts of hair were now over her ears, looking like little horns poking out from the rest of her thick hair, as well as the multiple spikes of hair that made up her bangs had been condensed into a few spikes that now stood up instead of falling down.

A dissatisfied frown formed on her lips before she could stop it, one that Pink found early familiar, as Orange responded by swatting her hand away from missing up her hair any more than she already had, “I’ve looked like this for almost a decade, mother. You’ve seen me like this, remember?”

A hurt expression crossed Pink’s face, and she tried to recall her last memory of her time with Zirconia. She had been so preoccupied with the Earth and her time spent in the disguise as a Rose Quartz, that her time with Orange was becoming farther and farther apart. Had it been that long already? Or had she forgotten one of her recent visits with Zirconia, so swept up in it all. A pang of sadness hit her, that she hadn’t been ready for. “I’m so sorry, Zirconia. It must have slipped my mind. I’ve just been so caught up in the Earth, and the humans!” a smile spread on her lips again, “Oh, you’d love them. They’re so interesting.”

Orange’s expression morphed into something more neutral once again, but her bright eyes had turned away from Pink’s face and her brow pinched, showing she was anything but pleased with her mother’s apology, let alone interested in her appraisal of the organic life of her colony. Orange crossed her arms, “Whats so interesting about humans? They're nothing compared to us.”

Pink blinked, taken aback by Orange’s hostile tone. “They…Orange, look at me?” when Orange refused to look at her, she gently put a hand under her chin, “my little Zirconia, please look at me?”

That got her to look at her, Orange’s arms remained crossed but she willingly looked Pink in the eyes. “What?”

“Is something the matter, sweetie? You seem upset, did something happen?”

“No.”

Orange looked away again, and Pink realized Orange was angry now because Pink didn’t know what she was upset about, an enigma that wasn’t all too uncommon with Orange. “Orange, i’m sorry. I know I’ve been really busy lately, and you’ve had to spend a lot more time with Blue and Yellow, but I promise, i’ll make it up to you. We'll have more time together, alright?”

Orange’s eyes were slightly watery when she finished and she looked up at Pink with uncertainty, “Really?”

“Really.”

“Promise?”

Pink laughed, pulling her Zirconia into a tight hug, “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Orange’s feet swayed back and forth, making a tap tap every time the heel of her shoes hit the chair. She sat hunched over, staring around in the overly pink washed color of the room. She was sitting in her mother’s chair where she had left her with her pearl for company while she had a meeting with the other Diamonds, one that she wasn’t allowed to go with, no matter how much she had begged.

Tap Tap

They were on one of her Mother’s stations, near her Earth colony’s system. She hadn’t been allowed to wander the new station yet, not even with her pearl escort, and had only caught a glimpse of it’s exterior as they docked. It was a new model, updated and made just for Pink Diamond, with the finest bismuths working on it. Pearl had babbled about how grand it was, purhaps simply to entertain her, but Orange would rather see it than be told.

Mother had gushed about how beautiful Earth was the entire way and Orange wondered if she would get the chance to actually see it herself or if her mother’s overly exaggerated tales of it would be all she had to go on. She had personally seen one of Blue’s colonies after a lot of begging (something she knew worked well after witnessing her mother throw a fit on more than one occasion), and the promise to remain with the guard detail Blue gave her. It had been more gems in her way than she had originally planned, but she still got to set foot on the soil and rock that was growing more gems, see what a planet under the wise and knowing command of a Diamond looked like. How the wild and untamed worlds had been terraformed to suit the life and growth of gems. It was spectacular to see, a sight she would never forget. With all of her Mother’s talk about earth, she wondered what kind of gem quality it must make. They must be beautiful and grand gems indeed.

Tap Tap

She knew it was because she wasn’t supposed to go out into public eye just yet, only a handful knew who she was, otherwise it was assumed she was a no name gem or she was blocked from view altogether by her guards. She noted that after the last two incidents, Amethysts were no longer apart of her guard detail, which was somewhat upsetting, considering they were a lively bunch to talk to in comparison to the Citrine and Prase escorts that were normally at her side nowadays.

Tap Tap

If it wasn’t for Pearl standing beside her, she might have tried to sneak a peak outside. Just a little one.

Tap Tap

Orange began to hum, if nothing else but to make noise in the awkward silence that always came when it was just her and her mother’s pearl. It was at this point she realized her silliness. She was with a pearl, most of their sole reason for existence was to entertain and be a showpiece! She turned to her left where Pearl stood with her hands in front of her, respectful and quiet. “Pearl?”

Said pearl turned fully to look at her, “Yes, your Clarity?”

“I’m bored. Sing for me.”

It was not said as a request, and Pearl bowed to Orange, “Ah! Yes, at once, My Diamond.”

Orange leaned back on her arms as she watched as Pearl’s clasped hands raised to her chest and she began to hum a tune before opening her mouth wider and making louder, more harmonious sounds, all while Orange continued to tap her feet against the chair.

After a few minutes Pearl’s song ended and she bowed to Orange once more, a little out of breath. “Was that satisfactory, my Diamond?”

“I guess.” Orange shrugged, now looking around the room again, trying to find anything that might ride her over until Pink’s return. Too many pillows lined the room for her liking, and the pink bubbles were starting to bother her nose.

Pearl blinked before her eyes grew wide, “Was…was something wrong?”

“You were a little pitchy. Blue’s pearl doesn’t warble like you.”

“I-oh.” Pearl’s face darkened to a deep blue and she bowed her head, “um, forgive me, my Diamond, I-“

“Zirconia!”

Orange had never been so glad then when Pink Diamond came through the veiled doorway, a smile on her face.

“Mother, you’re back!” Orange launched off the chair, running to Pink as she knelt on the floor just in time to receive a tackled hug from the excited gem.

“Yes, my little gem.” Pink pulled back from the hug to look at her pearl over Orange’s head, who had remained at her position by the chair. “And Pearl, that was lovely, I could hear you just outside.”

Pearl’s face once again flushed blue, though this time in something that was not embrassed shame, “Thank you, my Diamond.”

Pink gently held Orange’s chin as she tilted her head up to place a kiss on her forehead, “Didn’t you think it was lovely, Zirconia?”

“Not really.” Orange answered, unperturbed by Pink’s suddenly confused expression.

“What?”

“I think something might be wrong with her.” Orange said, glancing over at Pearl who now looked highly alarmed, not that it stopped Orange, who then turned back to Pink with a curious expression, “Aren’t pearls supposed to be able to sing perfectly when they’re made? she makes these awful-“

“Zirconia!”

Orange became quiet, her eyes rounding in surprise at her mother’s raised voice and the sudden angry look on her face. “M-mother?”

“That is terribly disrespectful!” Pink grabbed one of Orange’s shoulders, turning her slightly and pointing to Pearl with the other, “Apologize to Pearl at once.”

“What? Mother, I don’t understand.” Orange turned her head to Pink, alarmed herself and starting to feel upset. She was only answering her question, what was wrong? Why was she suddenly so mad at her, and her grip on her shoulder hurt. She was confused and could feel tears threatening to form in her eyes.

“Pearl did something nice for you, and then you were rude.” Pink explained, her expression still stern, “Just because she isn’t another Diamond doesn’t mean you should talk like that.”

“But its true!” Orange pulled away from her mother’s hand, freeing her shoulder and took a step away, her hands forming fists as they came up to her chest, “And Yellow says that the other gems are beneath us, they are made to serve us. I shouldn’t have to apologize for that.” Orange challenged, her brows furrowing in growing frustration.

“Zirconia,” Pink’s voice remained pointed and showed she wanted no more arguing from her, “I want you to apologize to Pearl.”

“My Diamond, really, it’s alright-“ Pearl said, trying to defuse the situation, only to be cut off by Pink as well.

“No, it isn’t.” Pink looked expectantly at Orange, “Zirconia?”

“I-I…” Tears sprung to the corners of her eyes as she looked up at her’s mother’s angry expression. her chest and head hurt, and she hated this. she didn’t do anything wrong, she was a diamond, and it's not like she was being cruel, she was only speaking the truth, something White praised her for, and her mother wouldn’t listen to. Now she wanted her to apologize for something that wasn’t her fault, and it was all just too much. Too much!

“No!” she yelled, startling herself with her own volume, “I’m not going to apologize to some servant! I'm not wrong, you’re wrong! She's just a pearl!”

“Enough!”

Orange sniffed loudly, tears spilling from her eyes that she could no longer hold back, but she still managed to glare up at her mother clear enough that Pink could see the anger on her face and the hurt in her eyes, “I’m not wrong, and I’m not sorry! I’m a diamond, and i’m more important than any pearl.”

“Zirconia.” Pink’s voice was low, steely and almost threatening to Orange, a tone Orange had never heard her make towards her before, or anyone for that matter. It made Orange cry harder, so she turned her back to the larger Diamond so she couldn’t see just how heavily the tears were spilling from her eyes now, though she could do nothing to stop the little noises she made as she sobbed.

“I want to go back to Blue’s! I don’t want to stay here anymore.”

“I…” Pink’s expression morphed into one of shock and hurt, “Zirconia, you don’t mean that.”

“I do! I do! I mean it, I want to go back to Blue Diamond! She doesn’t treat me like this.”

“That’s enough. When we return to the Moon Base, I want you to go to your room.”

“What?” Zirconia turned around with a look of confusion and anger, “but-“

“Enough. Just…enough, Zirconia.”

Orange made a loud, dramatic sob before she could cover her mouth and nose with both her hands and took off for the door, dodging around Pink and running out of it before anyone could stop her, the two Quartz guards standing just outside immediately taking off after her. it was then that Pearl stepped forward to Pink as she sat down on the floor, her head falling into her hands as she hid her face to hide her own tears.

“Are…are you okay, my Diamond?” Pearl questioned as she reached out a hand to Pink, almost touching her shoulder before she froze and pulled it away.

Pink peered up from her hands and Pearl’s heart stuttered at the sight of her large, sad eyes. Her Diamond should never look so sad, it just wasn’t right.

“Oh Pearl, I’m so sorry. Please forgive her, she just doesn’t understand.”

“Its quite alright, my Diamond.” Pearl gave her a small smile. In truth, she was quiet offended and hurt by Orange’s words, they had never gotten on exactly well, but never had she been so insulted by her either.

“I can’t believe how she’s acting…has she…” Pink paused, looking down at her hands as they rested in her lap before looking back at Pearl, “has she ever done something like that to you before?”

“Oh no, my diamond!” Pearl shook both her head and hands for emphasis, surprised by her Diamond’s look of worry, “She’s normally very quiet. We don’t really…” Pearl took a deep breath and clasped her hands in front of her, giving Pink a respectful bow of her head, “It isn’t my place to judge what is right or wrong for a Diamond to say. She is correct, I am just a pearl.”

Chapter Text

Orange was folded into herself, laying on her side with her knees tucked under her chin and arms wrapped around her legs, sinking into the middle of a large pillow on the floor that was nearly twice her size. Orange hadn’t moved since she had curled up there and cried until her entire body ached from the exertion of it, eyes puffy and wet from tears that kept coming, even when she didn’t think she could possibly cry anymore. She was upset, and even angry, but she was mostly just tired. Not just physically, but mentally tired, and sleep seemed to be eluding her tonight. Which meant she had spent more time staring blindly at the far wall that was irritatingly pink and bright.

It was this sight Pink was greeted with when she walked into the room, stopping in the doorway, eyes wide and looking startled as if she had expected to find an entirely different scene behind the door. Orange made no move to to acknowledge her and Pink stood awkwardly in the doorway, uncertainty wavered on her face as her hands fidgeted together in front of her, before one dropped to her side and she knocked lightly on the side of the entrance.

“May I come in?”

Orange didn’t so much as blink, continuing to stare blankly at the wall and keeping her back to Pink. “It’s your station.”

“And your room.” Pink reminded gently.

“Hmm.”

Pink took a deep breath and moved into the room, the door closing automatically behind her, as she stepped towards the younger Diamond, “Zirconia?”

Orange responded with a snappish “What?”, her arms tightening around her legs as she tensed when Pink’s shadow fell over her as she came to stand beside her bed.

Pink looked around the room, it looked very much like her own, pink pillows of various sizes, from large and heavy to small and decorative, all puffy and full, made of simplistic designs and styles littered the room. A dresser, some chairs, and a shelf were what made up actual furniture in the room. Here and there were carefully placed objects, knickknacks and souvenirs, gifts from their fellow diamonds from one point in time or another. A pretty rock that looked like it had come from an ancient asteroid, pockmarked and glittering with some unknown mineral. A small doll, handmade based on the off-placed stitching, one she remembered Zirconia carrying around for a time before she had decided to put it away so as not to damage it in her travels going between them. A glowing orb, pulsing with colors and casting the far wall in rainbow light. A crystal figure, carved with a delicate hand so as to make the fine details of a face and figure of an unknown gem, weapon drawn and poised to defend or attack. Little things, scattered and on display, a showcase of love and thoughtfulness the others had for Zirconia. They were the only real proof she had that Zirconia had actually lived here.

Pink turned from the items, looking to the younger gem curled up and looking more miserable than she had ever seen her. It caused a pain in her heart to know she had been a cause to this state. “I want to talk about what happened earlier.”

Orange finally turned to look at her, turning to glare at her over her shoulder, “What’s there to talk about? You made it pretty clear your pearl means more to you than I do.”

“Zirconia!” She took a deep breath, eyes closing for a beat and then opening to settle her with a significantly calmer look and started again in a softer tone, “Zirconia...you know that’s not true.”

She cut her eyes away as Pink sat down on the pillow, her weight shifting the pillow and causing her to slide closer to her mother. “Isn’t it?”

Pink’s hand pinched the bridge of her nose, “Zirconia, I’m trying here. Please.”

“Fine.” Orange huffed.

“I understand you and Pearl don’t exactly” Pink pauses, looking for a specific word before continuing on, “...get along. But Pearl is my friend, and you did say some pretty hurtful things. Would you say those things to Blue? Or Yellow?”

Orange hesited before giving her a gruff, “No.”

“Then why is it okay to say those things to Pearl?”

Orange finally turned over, using her arm to push her up so she could look Pink in the face, her eyebrows pinched and her voice was becoming strained as she spoke, “She’s just a servant.”

Pink lowered her face, chin tilted down so she could meet Orange’s eyes, “Yes, Pearl does serve me, but that does not mean she is beneath me.”

Despite still being mad, Orange still raised an eyebrow, her face screwed up in confusion, “Your a Diamond, doesn’t that make you automatically superior?”

“Oh Orange...I wish...” Pink had to pause to wipe a fresh set of tears from her eyes, “I wish you could understand, see it how I do.”

“But why can’t you see it how I see it?” Orange threw both her hands up in the air in exasperation, “Why do I have to see it from your point of view?”

“That...that is a good point.” Pink nodded, pulling her legs up beside her so she was leaning on the pillow across from Orange. “Your right Zirconia, maybe I should have seen it from your point of view. I was defending Pearl, and that must have come across to you as siding against you.”

Orange sat up so she was facing Pink directly, her legs crossing in front of her and her arms falling back down, settling into her lap.

“Yellow says we’re superior, as Diamonds.” Orange’s head fell, her chin tucked to her chest as she looked down at her palms in her lap, “I’ve never had to apologize to a servant.”

“You’ve never had to apologize to Yellow’s pearl?”

Orange’s mouth morphed into something akin to a frown, “She doesn’t really talk much if Yellow’s not ordering her to do something.”

Pink’s head tilted to the side, racking her brain for people she knew she must interact with often, “Then how about Blue’s pearl? Or White’s?”

Orange’s frown morphed into a small smile, “White’s pearl is nice. She isn’t really like the others.”

Pink couldn’t stop the smile from curling on her lips at the way her tone had changed. “She’s nice, huh?”

“Yeah. She’s really nice to me, and she respects what I have to say. She...”

Orange’s eyes cut away from Pink’s, and Pink tilted her head down to catch Orange’s eyes again. “She treats you like you want to be treated?”

“Yeah.” Orange cleated her throat and looked back up at Pink, “Yes. She...I see how the pearls act with you guys, and I...I don’t have that. Yellow and White are always telling me what it’s going to be like when I’m finallyapart of the authority, when I get to command armies and hold court, but It’s always me listening, I’m always the one following the orders.” Orange waved her hand around, mimicking the deeper, commanding tones of the older diamonds, “Orange, do this. No Orange, that’s wrong, Do it again. Or wait with Pearl, Orange. Diamond business.”

Orange’s hand fell heavily back into her lap with a smack, and her shoulders slumped from her suddenly animated gestures, “White’s Pearl...I actually feel like I’m listened to. She’s...she’s a good friend.”

“Aren’t I your friend? Or the other Diamonds? You seem friendly with your guards.”

“Of course you guys are my friends, but at the same time you’re...you. There’s always some other report to go over, another lesson, something else that’s more important. And I like the lessons, I like seeing the colonies, and the gems. I like visiting every diamond. But sometimes I want...” Orange looked to the side as her voice trailed away, unwilling to meet Pink’s eyes anymore.

“Zirconia?” Pink prodded after a moment.

Orange slowly looked back up at Pink through her eyelashes, hesitation clear in her voice, “If I tell you something, do you promise not to get mad?“

“I promise.”

With a deep breath, the smaller gem continued on, “do you remember when you held that party for Yellow finally conquering that last system?”

“The party a few months back?” Pink’s head tilted back as she recalled that last party she threw. They were becoming fewer and far between now that she had Earth to attend to. “Yes, I remember.”

“I got to stay in one of the upper rooms this time, White’s treat. I got to watch the ball, and see everyone dancing and everyone was having fun below while I was in a room where no one knew I exsisted.”

A pang of guilt and sadness hit Pink, and she reached out to cup the smaller gem’s face in a gesture of comfort, “Oh, Zirconia. I’m so sorry.”

Orange simply shrugged, allowing Pink to shift a lock of hair behind her ear as she talked, “But I wasn’t alone. White had left her pearl there to keep me company.”

“Did she? Was her pearl nice to you?”

Orange gave her a look that told her it should have been obviously to her, “Of course she was. She’s always...” a pause before the words came rushing out of her, like if she didn’t say them now she never would, “we danced.”

A heavy pause when Pink could see the tension leave Orange’s shoulders, and she wondered how long Orange had been keeping this in. ”I was watching everything below, and it looked like so much fun and we could hear the music, so we danced. I’ve never had so much fun before. We talk, and Pearl listens to me, and she calls me all those titles that the other gems call you. She taught me how to dance...” she gave Pink a pleading look with big, imploring eyes that she was sure was meant to tug on her heartstrings, “please don’t tell white.”

“My sweet, little Zirconia,” she swept some more hair from her face, “I won’t tell anyone, I promise.”

“Thank you. I don’t want to get Pearl in trouble. She said it’d be bad if anyone found out, so I don’t think I was really suppose to tell you.”

Pink giggled at that, “Thank you for telling me anyway.” She lightly bumped her nose with her index finger, making the younger gem smile, “I’m glad at least one of use had fun at that party. And I think I understand what happened earlier better.”

Orange let out a long, shakey breath and nodded, “I still don’t get it, but I’m sorry I insulted Pearl. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

Pink gave her a reassuring smile, pulling her into a hug that was returned with surprising strength on the younger Diamond’s part, “I know. I know you didn’t, and I’m sorry too.”

Chapter Text

“Come on, at least think about it!” Pink pleaded, looking up at Yellow and Blue, her hands balled up into fists at her sides to keep from making rude gestures at them. 'Talks’ with them always left her wanting to kick something and cry in frustration and demand a hug from her pearl all at once. Why couldn’t they just listen for once in their lives!?

“Pink-“

“Orange needs someone to attend to her and be with her constantly. This switching back and forth between us isn’t good for her.” Pink continued as if she hadn’t been interrupted.

“Absolutely not.” Yellow immediately shot her down, her brow furrowed in frustration as she glared down at her, her arms crossed over her chest as they always were when discussions of any kind happened with Pink. “She doesn’t need a pearl, when she’s old enough and starting her first colony, in a few millennia,” she quickly added with narrowed eyes at Pink, “then she can have a pearl.”

“But yellow-“

“You coddle her too much, Pink.” Yellow said in exasperation, “She is fine, and a pearl is not given out to just anyone.”

“But she’s a Diamond, and she deserves a Pearl!” Pink’s foot stomped on the ground, this situation was all too familiar to her, and she hated it and Yellow’s refusal to listen to her.

“Like you?” Yellow sneered, “At least she doesn’t demand things. She hasn’t asked for one, so this entire conversation is pointless.”

Pink watched as Yellow turned from her and Pink got the feeling she was being dismissed and Pink wished she was larger just so she could punch Yellow in her high stupid face. How dare she. How. Dare. She. “Just because you prefer to be alone, Yellow, doesn’t mean she does.”

“Do not presume to know what I prefer, Pink, and she isn’t alone. She is constantly in the presence of one of us, or our own pearls. That hardly seems alone to me.”

“I believe she is right, Yellow.” Blue finally cut into their bickering, a tired look on her face, no doubt done with their back and forth arguments that never got anywhere when they were angry with each other. Which was always.

Yellow let out a loud groan and pinched the bridge of her nose, “Not you too.”

Pink watched expectantly as Blue turned to Yellow, “She is constantly being moved between us, it would do her some good to have someone who is always by her side. It would also mean someone to keep her out of trouble while we work.”

This seemed to perk Yellow’s interest, who turned to look at Blue now, a look of contemplation crossing her features, “So, we would give her a pearl as a babysitter?”

“As a guardian,” Blue amended, “and having a pearl will teach her some responsibility. How can she rule over millions of gems in a court if she does not have the experience of even one?”

Yellow hummed, her hand cupping her chin as she looked deep in thought. Pink nearly jumped in joy when she let out a sigh and looked away from both her and Blue to glare at the wall beside them, “Very well. We shall get her a pearl. Not a new one,” Yellow quickly added, head snapping to look at Pink who happily ignored her in favor of grinning widely and rocking back and forth on her feet. “A pearl isn’t a toy, and I will not waste resources to make one for a child.”

Pink squealed nonetheless, “Thank you, Yellow! She’ll be so happy, I just know it. You’ll see, this will be good, for all of us.”

Blue smiled gently down at her, and Pink was glad to at least have her on her side in this matter. “ I hope so, Pink.”

Chapter Text

“M-my Diamond?” Pearl meekly said, her head bowed and her arms held in front of her, an unconscious shield between herself and her diamond. When her Diamond‘s eyes cut from the screen in front of her to her, she clenched her hands together nervously.

“I am trying to work Pearl, what is it?”

“It’s….Theres a message for you, My Diamond.”

“Well? what does it say?” Yellow’s tone was clipped, and almost threatening. There had been a snag in one of her colonies progress, an uprising of organics that had messed with a kindergarten, resulting in the loss of at least 60 gems and she was still dealing with the aftermath, her Pearl’s interruptions were not welcome.

“It’s a message from,” the small gem gulped, as if her words were trying to choke her to stay unsaid, “from White Diamond.”

Yellow’s hand paused over the buttons of her screen, her bright predatory eyes hid the flash of fear she felt just from hearing that name as she turned to look at her pearl, “What does she want?”

Pearl straightened up under her gaze, her hands moving behind her back as she got down to business, “She is inquiring about the pearl you are looking for,” she gave a crooked grin as if to counter her Diamond’s growing frown, “for Orange Diamond.” She added, as if Yellow could have forgotten the side task she had been given.

With a wave of her hand the screen in front of her disappeared and she stood up, “Why does White want to know about that?” she said and Pearl held her tongue, aware her Diamond was merely thinking out loud and she would not be punished for answering such an obvious rhetorical question.”Why would she bother herself with such a trivial thing?” she paused in her pacing, “did Pink mention something to her? has she gone behind my back and…?”

There was a pause as Yellow Diamond’s eyes narrowed and then she turned on her heal to face Pearl’s direction, “Pearl, call White at once.”

“Yes, my Diamond.” Pearl wasted no time to gather her communicator, the one specially made for the Diamonds to speak with one another, and made the necessary adjustments before it rose into the air, widening and becoming a screen not unlike the one she worked, made up of diamond shapes stacked on top of each other, only this one was much larger and fit for someone of a Diamond’s size.

After a few moments, the other end was picked up and Pearl came face to face with another Pearl, this one with a white parlor and gray hair curled into buns on either side of her head. Her eyes were large and gray like her hair, and she smiled widely at Pearl. “White Diamond’s control room.”

“This is Yellow Diamond’s Pearl. She wishes to speak with White Diamond.” Pearl answered and her fellow pearl nodded.

“One moment please.” She turned to look behind her for but a moment before she was looking at pearl again, “White Diamond will speak with Yellow Diamond.”

With that, the pearl disappeared from view and Pearl herself stepped back and looked up to her own Diamond. She said nothing as Yellow stepped forward and took the communicator from her, it widened further, and no sooner than she had taken it did another face appear on the translucent screen.

“Yellow.” The voice of White Diamond crooned, the image of White’s face seen almost blindingly on the screen. “It's such a pleasure to hear from you.”

“White.” Yellow gave her a respectful nod, and was glad the trimmer of fear she felt from meeting those eyes didn’t appear in her voice. “I’m calling because of your message,” she informed her, “about the pearl.”

“Always down to business.” White quipped, “Yes, I’ve gotten word you are looking for a pearl for our precious little gemling.”

Orange hated to be called that, but Yellow didn’t dare correct her. White could call her whatever she pleased and Yellow would not attempt to stop her, it was not worth potentially upsetting White and having her wrath pointed solely at her. “Yes, Pink has requested a companion for her. I assumed she is the one who told you?”

“Blue, actually,” White’s smile sent a chill down her spine, it was hardly charming nor comforting, “and I believe it is a fantastic idea. It’s why I was inquiring actually. I believe I have the perfect pearl for her.”

Yellow hadn’t wanted to get Orange a new pearl, let alone a fancy one from White. She had planned a simple hand-me-down, a reassigned one from one of the aristocrats from either her or Blue’s court, and she voiced such, “I don’t know if that is a good idea, White.” she said cautiously, her words picked as carefully as she did a battle plan, “Orange doesn’t need something new or something ornamental. she-“

“I am aware what Orange does and doesn’t need, Yellow.” White’s tone was thin and dismissive, warning that Yellow had, despite her caution, stepped on some toes, so to speak. “That is why I will have one of my pearls given to her. I have a very special one in mind.”

“Very well.” Yellow was long since ready for this call to be over, “Shall I send someone to pick it up or will you be sending it yourself?”

“Not necessary. I will deliver it myself.”

Yellow’s eyes would have bulged out of her head is she didn’t have the fine restraints over herself that she did, as it was she couldn’t stop her eyes from widening or the way her throat restricted, “But she is with Blue, and she is away at one of her colonies.”

“I am aware, thank you Yellow.” And with that the call ended, and the communicator returned to its solid form in her hand. From any other gem Yellow would have been furious to be hung up on, however all she felt was relief to have the palest diamond out of her sight. She wasn’t even here and her very presence suffocated her. But then it occurred to her, White was going to give Orange a pearl from her personal collection, in person. She hoped Blue knew ahead of time, for she could only imagine her sister gem’s reaction to seeing White in person. They all knew to be cautious with White, even Pink was subdued in her presence. Well, all of them except Orange. She only hoped her naivety towards White would not get her shattered.

Chapter Text

Blue glanced down at her side, watching as Orange Diamond walked beside her and her Pearl, a little happy skip to her step. Orange has insistent on walking herself instead of allowing Blue to carry her, even if it was quicker do so, so Blue obliged, patiently walking slowly to allow Orange to keep step with her. Orange was slowly becoming more independent, starting to demand to do things by herself, and it warmed Blue to see Orange taking control. They had been summoned by White, which meant a trip to her headship, which was almost always docked on Homeworld now. Blue was aware of why they were going, but Orange hadn’t been informed, she was simply happy for the trip and the impromptu visit with White.

A surprise, White had said. Blue wasn’t foolish enough to risk White’s anger by going against her wishes. If she wished this to be a surprise for Orange, Blue would keep quiet, even if Orange’s questions could border on annoying, Blue always managed a little extra patience for her. As it was, Orange was incredibly excited to see White, especially since this was an unprecedented visit, and not to drop her off, with only her escort Citrines as company. Orange was perhaps the only one who would be excited to go see White, it was almost like Orange had no fear. Ah, the ignorance of youth.

It was not a long trip to get to White’s inner sanctum, only filled with Orange’s humming as she looked around. When they reached the inner most doors, they were greeted by White’s personal Pearl, who Orange smiled widely at, waving.

“Blue Diamond,” White’s Pearl bowed to her, turning to give a smile to Orange, “Orange Diamond.” She glanced at Blue’s pearl, a nod of acknowledgement passing between them before attention was returned to Blue, “White Diamond awaits you inside, my Diamonds.”

They waited as this pearl opened the door and escorted them inside. White stood inside, waiting for them, and she greeted Blue first, “Blue Diamond, it is good to see you so well.”

“White Diamond,” Blue gave her a respectful bow of her head, “it is good to see you as well.” Blue turned to look at Orange, about to instruct her to bow to White as well, to show respect to the sole superior to every other Diamond, only to find her charging to White, “Orange!“

Orange either didn’t hear her or ignored her, and leaped at White, landing only part way up to hug her leg, laughing loudly, “White!”

White, who Blue looked at in her for the smallest Diamond, merely bent over to pick her up before she fell from her place on her dress, holding her up in an open faced palm, “Hello little one. You should be more careful.” Her eyes flicked towards Blue, “You scared Blue diamond.”

Orange turned in her spot where she had been kneeling in white’s palm to look at Blue, “Sorry!” she yelled, her voice carrying in the large room. Immediately after, she turned back to White, “Im just so happy to see you!”

This made White’s smile widen, teeth and curled lips that made Blue’s spine tingle in warning, but only made Orange giggle happily. “Thats good to hear, my dear little gem. I have something for you.”

Orange was leaning forward on her knees again, an excited grin breaking out on her face, “What? Really?”

“Yes,” White motioned towards her Pearl and they all turned to look at her as she brought something forward, a bubble, that she most defiantly hadn’t had before. When she reached the base of White’s platform, White bent over and took the bubble from her, holding Orange in one hand and the bubble in between two pointed fingers of the other. “This,” she held the bubble out to her, “is for you.”

Orange hesitantly took the bubble, inspecting it. Inside was a perfectly round gem, except the simple band that wrapped round its middle. Orange’s eyes widened from it to look up at White with wonder and excitement brighting her eyes, “Is-is this…a pearl? My own pearl?”

“Oh yes…as a Diamond, it is long over due for you to have your own. She will serve you well.” White told her, and then leaned down once more, allowing Orange to climb down carefully from her hand, the bubbled pearl still clutched in her hands. “why don’t you let her out, so you can meet her.” White suggested.

Orange looked up at Blue, her wide eyes made the older Diamond smile and she nodded at Orange, who looked down in fascination as she held the bubble in one hand and used a single digit of the other to pop the bubble. She caught the gem between her hands before it could fall, and a moment later it lifted in the air, bright light as the gem reformed. Orange never looked away, even when the light left spots dancing across her eyes, as she had never seen a gem reform before. After the gem had filled out from it’s pure light form, she floated to the floor, instantly dropping into a bow to Orange.

“My Diamond, it is my honor to serve you.” The Gem’s voice was soft, and she glanced up at Orange with a smile, but did not lift up from her respectful bow.

Orange’s mouth hung open, obviously stunned while looking at this new gem that served her, her, before coming back to herself and turned to White, all toothy smiles and large awe filled eyes, hands clenched as she laughed in excitement, “Thank you!”

“You are most welcome,”

Chapter Text

Orange glanced over her shoulder, checking again that, yes, that pearl was still there behind her. She stood there with her hands clasped together in front of her, a small smile stretched on her thin lips with her eyes closed and head bowed. She looked content to just stand there behind Orange as the young Diamond sat, very undignified for someone of her rank, on the ground, just in front of the glass wall so she could look out at the city. Only, unlike all the other times she had discreetly looked over her shoulder at the gem that now apparently served her. Said gem opened their eyes to meet hers and Orange immediately turned back around, embarrassed to have been caught.

“Is there something you need, my Diamond?”

“Wuh…what?” Orange turned her head slightly towards her to show she was listening, but didn’t dare to turn around fully until she felt the heat of a blush on her cheeks begin to disappear.

“You have been turning to look at me every few moments, my Clarity. If there is something you wish me to do, you need only say.”

“I…Ive never had someone to serve just me before.” Orange glanced back to the city view before turning on the spot to face Pearl’s direction, and patted the floor in front of her, “Sit with me?”

Her pearl did not hesitate, not like the other Diamond’s pearls would have. She knew Yellow hated when she sat on the floor, a Diamond shouldn’t lower herself to sit like that, she would say. Standing was tiring, but the view wasn’t. Orange loved to look out at the cities of Homeworld wherever she might be, so she sat when it was just her or only a pearl or her quartz escorts to keep her company. Pearl sat before her, legs tucked to the side of her as she used one hand to balance herself in her new position.

“You're my pearl now, so I can ask you anything I want.” Orange said, though it hadn’t been phrased like a question, the uncertainty in her voice must have showed because Pearl nodded to her.

“I live to serve you, my Diamond. Anything you want or need. I will answer anything you ask, if I can.”

Orange didn’t know how she felt having a servant of her own. it was one thing when it was one of the other Diamond’s, she knew it was their job, their sole purpose really. but this one, this one was hers, all hers, only hers, and she would do anything Orange said. she was used to her escorts having to listen to what she said, so long as it didn’t contradict some order given to them by their Diamond superiors, but this was just a whole other level. having someone who served her and her alone made her feel…well, powerful. important. Needed.

Only the most important of gems of Homeworld got pearls, and now she was one of them. Not only that, but this pearl had come from White herself, so she was a fancy pearl, and must have been quite well made if she had been in White’s service before her. As it was, her pearl still looked like she belonged to White, which Orange was not overly fond of. She was of a very pale color, her hair a darker shade than her skin, short and wavy, bangs falling to one side to partially cover her right eye. she wore a dress, the top of which was a dark gray and had a diamond shape cut from the chest, exposing the polished gem of a pearl. the lower part of her dress was a lighter shade of gray, matching the elbow length gloves she wore. she had dark leggings and no shoes. A white, see-through ruffle wrapped around her neck, puffing out around her chin and shoulders. The only sign she belonged to Orange was the small diamond that sat below the cut in her dress, the same color as Orange’s gem.

It was almost like it was an afterthought, what should have been something that showed everyone that she served her was barely there, and Orange found she didn’t like that. She wasn’t an afterthought, but it was something that could be changed later, not while she was waiting for Blue.

“Where were you made?” was the first question Orange deemed good enough to ask, out of the many that were piling up, some of them silly, others she doubted this pearl knew the answer to.

“I was made on Blue Diamond’s colony, nearly five hundred years ago, my Clarity.” Her voice was soft, a trait Orange noted was similar to Blue’s own pearl.

“So you were originally made for Blue?”

“Yes,” Pearl nodded her head, “and I was given to White as an offering. It is not uncommon for a pearl to be given to White Diamond as a gift.” Not unlike how White had given her this pearl, Orange thought. “I was lucky and proud to be chosen to serve her, as I do now for you, My Diamond.”

“I see. What did you do for her?”

“I served her, as any pearl does.”

“I meant what did you do?” Orange pushed, frowning.

“I…I cannot say, My Diamond.” Pearl lowered her head, but this only annoyed Orange. She couldn’t say? It was a simple question.

Orange decided she’d prod Pearl more, “Why not?”

“Any servant of White diamond is forbidden to speak of what they do for her, no matter what it is. Please, forgive me, My Diamond. I can not say what I did for her before I was made to serve you.”

Pearl lowered herself more, bowing deeply to Orange now, which Orange noted must have been awkward if not painful because of how she was sitting and thus wave her off so she would sit back up, “it’s fine.”

So anyone who served White couldn’t talk about it? Interesting. Could she make her own servants do that? Could she make her pearl swear silence for whatever Orange commanded her to do? She made note to find out later as well. As it was, she doubted this pearl actually did anything of real interest for White Diamond, not like White’s main Pearl, whom Orange interacted with when she was there. Orange was quite fond of White’s Pearl, more so than any other Diamond’s. She hoped her Pearl turned out to be like her.

“Orange.”

Orange looked up, looking away from her pearl to see Blue Diamond, her hood pulled up to cast her face in shadow, her own pearl standing by her side, looking in her direction, or maybe it was at the only other pearl in the room. Orange wondered if she would look so mysterious and cool as Blue did, the magnificent height of a diamond and her Pearl by her side, flaunting to everyone just how important she was.

“Blue!” Orange stood up, moving to join her before she remembered her own Pearl and turned, “Come along Pearl.” She called, and did not wait for her to get up as she skipped over to Blue with a large smile. “can we go now?”

Chapter Text

“Orange,” White called, “Let’s talk.”

Orange held her breath, suddenly fearing she was in trouble, especially so when White’s Pearl, who had been standing next to her, made to leave the room, beckoning her own pearl to follow her, leaving just the two of them alone. She waited as White offered her hand and Orange climbed on, holding onto her thumb as she always did, her nervousness growing even though White continued to smile at her.

“Is something wrong?” Orange asked once she was about eye level with White, before adding a little meekly, “Did I do something bad?”

“Its about Pink Diamond.” White informed and Orange’s eyes widened.

“Is she alright? Did mother get hurt?”

White gave a shake of her head, “No, she is fine. What I mean is, I want you to stop referring to Pink Diamond as your mother.”

Orange’s eyebrows screwed up and her eyes conveyed her confusion to White, “W-what? But White-“

“Shush.”

Orange’s mouth snapped shut, and she looked up at White with slight fear. She had never heard that tone used before, and it alarmed her.

“You are a Diamond, a gem. We do not have families the way Pink’s organics do. You may have been made with the DNA of one, but you aren’t apart of them, even if Pink has insisted on treating you like one of them would. You are a gem, a Diamond, and if you want a family, you will find it with other Diamonds, but it is time to stop calling Pink your mother, because she isn’t.”

“But…But she created me.”

“As I have created many gems, as do Yellow and Blue, and even Pink. Does that make them mothers as well?” White proposed and waited patiently as Orange tilted her head down, brow pinching in thought.

After a moment, Orange looked back up at her, “No. they’re not mothers, their Diamonds, who made gems to serve them. But I don’t serve Pink.”

“No, no you do not, Orange. Your only superiors are your fellow diamonds, until you have your own court and colonies.”

“And then…and then only you’ll be my superior?” White seemed pleased with her revelation, and it made Orange smile proudly.

“Yes, my pretty little gemling. Do you understand now why I have asked what I have?”

A part of Orange wished to tell White no, Pink had always been Mama to her, even if things were becoming more strained than usual between them. Blue said that would change after Pink’s colony was finished. And yet, a larger part of her, one that Orange wasn’t so sure she was ready to accept, agreed with White. While she had been perfectly fine calling Pink mama when she had first been made, it was now something Orange did sparsely, more of an appeasement for the older diamond than a personal want. If anything, Orange always felt an overwhelming sense of embarrassment when she referred to Pink this way infront of others, especially the other diamonds. It was simply another thing that she wanted to change. And changing was good, wasn’t it? After another moments hesitation, Orange gave a sharp nod to White, “I understand. I won’t do it anymore.”

“That’s a good girl.”

Chapter Text

Takes place at some point before Chapter 6

 


 

 

Orange let out a loud laugh as she hung off of blue’s knee, shaking so hard she nearly slipped off and fell into into the water below as she strained to listen to the notes floating up from the center of the pool. Luckily, in her own fits of giggles, Blue managed to catch her by the back of her tunic, keeping her from falling in as she wiped at the happy tears in her eyes with her free hand.

 

“No, no, Yellow,” Blue said, “it can’t be that song.”

 

“Well, what else could it be?” Yellow was grinning, cheeks tinted a shade darker and tears collected in the corners of her eyes from laughing so hard. “Your guess of that silly ballroom song couldn’t be any more accurate than mine.”

 

“It does have that certain beat to it, though,” White added to their conversation and Yellow held out a hand in her direction as she looked at Blue as if to say See, “Do you have any better ideas?"

 

“Oh!” Orange sprung up, both hands excitedly waving in the air and a gleam in her eyes that had everyone turning to her with large smiles, “What about that one that goes lala lalala lala, What’s it called?”

 

Blue hummed the tune again with her, a thoughtful look softly scrunching her features before she let out a gasp, “A Cat’s Eye March!”

 

A few more bubbles popped and disturbed the surface before Pink emerged, hair clinging to her face and shoulders, and dress completely waterlogged, but she was all happy grins and bright eyes as she looked around at everyone. “That’s it! Who got it?” 

 

“Our clever Orange guessed right this time.” White said and Pink turned to Orange, reaching up both hands and Orange was immediantly rocketing off Blue into Pink’s open arms, the two making a splash as they ducked under the water and resurfaced in a fit of giggles that was contagious to the whole group.

 

“Your so smart! How did you ever guess?”

 

“The cat’s eyes always make such pretty songs!” Orange wrapped her arms tightly around Pink’s neck to stop from slipping under the surface. She’d sink like a rock without Pink to tread water for her, or the side of the bath to cling onto. She had never successfully managed to swim, even thought her mother had tried to teach her on multiple occasions.

 

“She’s always listening to those recordings of them when she’s alone in her chambers, are you really surprised?” Yellow broke out in a smug grin when Orange stuck her tongue out at her, cheeks lit in embarrassment.

 

“No wonder I couldn’t get it out of my head, I couldn’t remember where I had heard it.” Pink said, before placing a kiss onto Orange’s nose, turning her pout into a smile. “Shall we play another round?”

 

“Yes!”

Chapter Text

At some point between Chapter 5 and 6


 

Blue Diamond stood in the high ceiling room, decorated in ornate diamond patterns and statues carved of beautiful stone by the finest made Bismuths Homeworld had produced in centuries. They were in a side room of the high courts building were they, she and the other Diamonds, held trials for gems who had committed crimes that warranted their limited time and attention. It was here that she kept Orange from the public eye, her trusted Citrine guards stationed outside the doors to keep anyone from interrupting. Her pearl stood to her left, head bowed and silent as she spoke with Orange Diamond, the smaller gem’s cherubic features turned up to her in rapt attention, as she explained what would be happening today.

 

“Orange, I have a few trials to oversee. Until I finish, you’ll be staying-“

 

Orange’s lip jutted out in a rather dramatic pout, “Aww!” her whine cut through whatever Blue had been about to say, "Can’t I sit in for the trial?”

 

Blue gave her a kind smile, those large eyes were a weakness of Blue’s that she knew she had trouble saying no to. “You know you can’t be seen by the general public yet. White would be furious.”

 

“But it’s just traitors right? I could...” Orange paused, her brow furrowed in what have been serious thought before her hands shot into the air with her excitement, “I could act like a guard! Or an escort!”

 

Blue chuckled at the absurdity of her suggestion, bending down to lightly ruffle her hair. “My sweet Orange, that’s a lovely idea, but I hardly think you could pass as a Agate.”

 

“Then I can be a Quartz.”

 

“A tiny one?”

 

Orange glared at her, and Blue found it incredibly adorable on her large features, “I’m not that small, Blue!”

 

“No, of course not, Orange.” Blue attempted to placate her little ward before she could become too agitated, “But still.”

 

“What if I hid in your robe?”

 

“Mmmm.” Blue looked away from Orange as she gave it a moment of thought.

 

A moment that Orange didn’t hesitate to jump on as she clasped her hands together and started to beg, “Please? Please, please, please! I’ll be quiet! It...it’d be educational!”

 

“Mmm. Oh, i suppose...” Blue relented, though she wasn’t sure if she was glad to see how happy it made Orange, or dread the talk she would have to have now that she had tentatively caved to the littlest diamond’s request.

 

“Yes!”

 

“I’ll have to talk to Yellow first.” She attempted to tamper Orange’s growing enthusiasm, but the youngest diamond would not be stopped in her joy of winning this dispute.

 

“Just tell her it’s another lesson! She can’t say no then. You’re the best, blue!”

 

“Hehehe.” Blue giggled, covering her mouth as she watched Orange dance for a moment, her happiness was rather contagious, but she could not remain here much longer if they wished to keep on schedule. “Stay here with Pearl, so I can talk with Yellow.”

 

“Okay!” Orange couldn’t stop grinning even as she watched Blue exit through the large chamber doors, leaving her alone with the silent pearl standing obediently next to her.

 

“Soo...” Orange said after the silent had stretched on for far to long for her liking, turning to look at Pearl, “what are these trials normally like?”

 

Blue’s Pearl turned to look at her, her head still bowed slightly as to keep her gaze respectful to her superior, “They normally involve my Diamond, and on occasion, a collaboration with Yellow Diamond, listening to the cases of a Gem who has been accused of a great crime against the Empire or the Diamonds themselves. This is followed by the Diamonds giving a verdict.”

 

Orange hummed in acknowledgment, mulling over what she had been told for a moment, “Are they normally good verdicts?”

 

“It is not my place to decided if the Diamonds have made a good verdict or not.”

 

“True, I guess...how long do you think Blue is going to be?”

 

“I can not say.”

 

Orange decided that if they were going to wait, she’d do her waiting while looking around at the new architecture around them, and proceeded to walk away from Pearl as she spoke, “Yeah, I suppose it’s anyone’s guess how long Blue and Yellow are going to argue, huh?”

 

“Indeed.”

 


 

“Blue, you can not be serious! We can’t have Orange in the courtroom!” Yellow yelled as she stood up from her chair where she had been preparing and reviewing before her fellow diamond had come to her with this ridiculous request. Her harsh, quick movements startled her Pearl who had not been expecting the outburst and dropped the diamond shaped display she had been holding, scrambling to pick it up from the floor as Yellow ignored her, moving towards where Blue Diamond remained standing near the door.

 

Blue diamond lowered her gaze from Yellow’s angry one for a moment before meeting her eyes, her tone was calm but beseeching, “Of course we can. She will be hidden, no one but us will even know she’s there.”

 

Yellow began pacing the walkway in front of blue, using her hand to motion between them as she spoke, “That is precisely why she can’t be there. I’ll know she’s there, you’ll know she’s there, and we’ll constantly be trying to make sure she’s not seen. How are we suppose to hold a trial when we wouldn’t even be paying attention to the proceedings?”

 

Blue gave Yellow a pleading look, “Orange is very well behaved. She has promised to be quiet.”

 

Yellow took a moment to take a deep breath, pinching the bridge of her nose before facing her diamond counterpart, “Blue, please. I know, I know Orange can be very good and well mannered. But she can also be rambunctious and she bores easily. What will you do if she decides she no longer wishes to be apart of this? How are you going to keep her from throwing a tantrum if she decides she’s had enough half way through the prosecuting’s speech?”

 

“Orange doesn’t throw tantrums, Yellow. She’s just very vocal-“

 

“Blue.” Yellow stopped her before she could continue, meeting with Blue’s pleading, if not somewhat sad eyes.

 

“Please, Yellow. She really wants to learn about this, and is that not what we are supposed to be doing? How will she learn how these proceedings go if she is in another room, by herself, for hours doing nothing.”

 

“She can watch recordings.”

 

Blue narrowed her eyes at her in warning, “Yellow.”

 

What?” Yellow threw her arms up, “That’s perfectly acceptable learning materials!”

 

“Wouldn’t you rather her see for herself, than second hand footage? She may have questions that we can answer afterwards, that we can’t if she’s watching recordings by herself.”

 

“Hmph.” Yellow crossed her arms as she settled Blue with a tired look, “It’s always like this. I’m always the one that has to put her foot down and say no, and I’m turned into the bad guy for it. Sometimes I wonder if I’m not on trial when we argue about Orange.”

 

“This isn’t a trial, Yellow. If...” Blue paused, and sighed, “If you think this really isn’t safe for Orange, then I’ll have her wait in her room.” Blue turned her back to Yellow, as if to make for the door, "I’m sure I can find her something to do until then. She’ll be upset, but she will understand.”

 

Yellow scrubbed a hand over her face, ““Stars help me. No.”

 

Blue stopped and turned to look at her over her shoulder, “Yellow?”

 

“You are correct. This is a good chance to...show Orange first hand what a trial is, and how it goes. But, You have promise to keep her in line, Blue. This is your idea. is something happens…”

 

“You won’t regret this! She’ll be so happy.”

 

“Yes yes.” Yellow waved her off as she turned back to her work space, snatching the proffered display from her pearl as she returned to her chair, “Collect her and let’s get on with this already.”

 


 

Blue turned her head to look over her shoulder, speaking lower than she normally would have to the gem currently using the hood of her robe as a makeshift hiding spot, “Orange, now remember. You have to remain hidden, and you’ve promised to be quiet.”

 

Orange peeked her head out from over Blue’s shoulder, where she had tucked herself into the hood of Blue’s robe, nestled in between the silky fabric and her long hair. “Yes, Blue! I’ll be as silent as a pearl!”

 

Yellow, who was leaning over in her seat to look at Blue and Orange, gave the two of them a nod of approval, “Good. I don’t want to hear a single peep, Orange.”

 

Orange leaned over further to look at Yellow, ducking under Blue’s chin to look at her, “What if I have a question? Can’t I whisper it to Blue?”

 

“No. Save your questions until the end of the trial, there will be breaks in between. Do not distract Blue.”

 

“Okay Yellow. But what if-“

 

“Orange.”

 

“Yellow?”

 

“Shush.”

 

“Mmm.” Orange sat back, tucking herself back into Blue’s hood and hair until she was practically invisible to anyone down below, “Okay, okay.”

 

Yellow nodded and glanced around, pleased to see everything seemed to be in place “Let’s begin. Pearl, call in the Zircons.”

Chapter Text

Takes place at some point before Chapter 13


 

Orange stood back, watching quietly as Blue’s pearl sat in a small, square stone chair specially designed for her so she could be seated near Blue Diamond while she herself was seated on her throne, screens in place as she went over yet another work log. Pearl was sat with her legs curled to the side of the chair, paying attention to a screen in front of her and taking no notice at all to Orange behind her.

 

Looking over her shoulder, Orange could see on the double diamond shaped screen, marked up by thin white lines, contrasted by the translucent blue screen and the darker blue tiles that came through from the scenery in front of her. The lines were a little shaky, perhaps because they had been made with Pearl’s finger, but she could make out the uncanny image of Blue Diamond just as she was beside them, sitting comfortably in her chair working. 

 

She had been up on Blue’s throne herself, seated on the arm of the chair with her legs dangling off as she watched Blue work. But that had quickly grown boring and she had started to look around the room for something to entertain herself with. The Citrine and Prase guards where at attention near the chamber doors, focused solely on not making a noise and standing as still as a bismuth’s statue. There was two of Blue’s person Sapphires to their right, speaking quietly to one another when one raised their head to look in her direction, though with the hair in her eye, Orange could never really tell just where they were looking. But based on how high up she was, Orange figured she had had a vision of her getting their attention. But knowing that was what the Sapphire was expecting, Orange wanted to do something different and turned from her to continue on her visual tour of the room. 

 

It was at this point when she had noticed the quiet pearl working on something in her personal area, even though Blue hadn’t given her any work to do. Orange had never really paid attention to what the pearls did unless it had something to do with her, more interested in what her fellow diamonds were working on or trying to catch their attention to talk about something than worrying what menial task the pearls had been given. Just what did the pearls do in their personal time?

 

With a quietness that betrayed her size, Orange slipped down from the throne with neither Blue or Pearl noticing, though she was still aware of the two sapphire’s watching her, the unnerving little pebbles they could be. So as not to interrupt Pearl so she could see just what she was doing, Orange moved behind her with some well practiced steps. Slipping past her guards for so many years had given her a rather unexpected skill, one that was certainly handy at the moment.

 

“That’s really pretty.”

 

Pearl jumped, her hand flying up to cover her gem as she turned in her chair to look behind her as Orange came to stand over her to look at the screen more closely. “Your Clarity! You scared me.”

 

“Huh?” Orange blinked in confusion before let out a small giggle, giving Pearl an apologetic smile, “Oh, sorry pearl, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

“It’s okay.” Pearl’s voice was meek, her hand lowered from her chest, “you normally…you normally make more noise when you move.”

 

“I didn’t want to startle you and mess you up.” Orange told her, turning back to the screen to look more intently at the small details. "I didn’t know you could draw.”

 

Pearl’s hands settled in her lap, hands slightly balled up in the light material of her skirt. “I try. My Diamond allows me to when I have free time, but I’m not very good.”

 

“Are you kidding? This is amazing Pearl.” 

 

Pearl blushed, her head bowing down in embarrassment, though her smile told Orange it wasn’t a bad thing, “Thank you. That’s very kind.”

 

“Could you teach me?”

 

“My Diamond?” Pearl looked up at her with an alarmed expression that Orange could feel more than see.

 

“I’ve never drawn anything but these funky squiggles of the stars,” Orange made a motion in the air with her finger to mimic the shape of a star, "when Yellow’s lessons are dragging on. Could you teach me to draw like that?”

 

“I...I can try.”

 

“Yes! Okay, let me get comfy.” Orange took a moment to move beside Pearl’s chair and sit down beside her on the floor, taking out her own personal screen from it protective place from her belt. 

 

Upon expanding, Pearl could make out long lines of script detailing the way a kindergarten was made before Orange was swiping it away for a blank orange screen. The younger gem then turned to look at her and it was at this point Pearl realized she had been staring silently for longer than she had intended at Orange. It was also at this point she realized Orange Diamond was sitting on the floor next to her chair, looking rather unbothered by this fact. “A-are you sure you want to sit on the floor? I could-“

 

“It’s fine, Pearl.” Orange waved her off, "I’m a lot bigger than you, so we’re on even ground with me like this. So, what’s first?”

 


 

Blue wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but when she had lost her place in another field report for the third time, she knew it was time to take a break from her work. Leaning back with a heavy sigh, Blue rubbed wearily at her face, keeping her eyes closed behind her hand as she took a moment for herself. There was much work to do, and this cycle it was her turn with Orange, which add more strain on her than she had originally anticipated. Orange was never more than a handful, but juggling her duties as a Diamond and keeping Orange complacent, all while also keeping her on top of her own lesson plans and studying, a regiment Yellow had proposed to get Orange in the habit of working as diligently as they did and approved by White herself, had left Blue with far less time than she was used to. That also meant time was being taken away from actually spending time personally with Orange that didn’t involve something related to her work, and while understanding enough, Blue felt bad for making Orange wait long hours simply waiting for her to finish. As it was, Orange was being very respectful of her timetable, keeping quiet and out of the way.

 

In fact, maybe too quiet. Looking up from her hand, Blue scanned the arm of her throne where she knew Orange had been sitting, dangling half off the side of it in a manner that touchingly reminded her of when Pink would come to her for company. And she supposed she shouldn’t have been so surprised when Orange was no longer there, but that didn’t stop her from sitting up straighter with some amount of panic she couldn’t quite displace. 

 

“Orange?” she called, "Orange, where have you- oh.” leaning over the side of her chair, Blue smiled at the sight of Orange and her Pearl sitting together, working side by side on twin screens, having taken no notice of Blue at all.

 

“How’s this?” Orange tilted her screen towards Pearl, who turned from her own to look, "I think the eyes are weird, but it looks like White, right?”

 

“That’s very good, my Clarity. It does look like her.”

 

“Hmm. I want to try to draw Yellow next.” Orange giggled, giving Pearl a smile that was returned in kind, "This is fun, I can see why you do this.”

 

“It is fun, isn’t it?”

Chapter Text

Yellow’s foot tapped the floor impatiently as she waited for the Diamond’s personal line to connect for the third time.

 

“Where in the blazes is she!?” The matriarch’s voice echoed in her command room, her pearl shrunk away slightly, gazing up at her in fear as she slammed her hand down onto her desk, surprisingly not leaving the dent Pearl expected. There was another intense glare at the waiting call when the screen filled with static, sound coming through before the picture cleared to show a rather frazzled looking Pink Diamond as she hurriedly sat down at her throne. 

 

“oh thank goodness.” Pearl whispered.

 

“Ahh! Uh, Yellow.” Pink glanced away from the screen to something to her left before returning to meet Yellow’s narrowed eyes, “This is a surprise. I wasn’t expecting a call.”

 

“Obviously not! Where were you?”

 

Pink’s lips quirked up in an awkward smile as she gave a force laugh, “I, you know, with that rebellion on my colony, I’ve just been so busy-“

 

Yellow’s whole face contorted in barely contained anger, “You mean you’re still on your moon base!?”

 

“Yellow, why are you yelling?”

 

“You were supposedto get Orange Diamond today!”

 

Pink’s eyes widened as recognition dawned on her face, “What? Today? But Pearl hasn’t reminded me-“

 

“Then obviously your pearl is slacking in her duties, and should be punished!” Yellow banged her hand down on her desk once more, making Pearl jump at the unexpected sound so close to her. ”Never mind your Pearl’s abysmal failures in her sole purpose, how could youforget what today was? You should have left yesterday and been here already. Orange and I have been waiting.”

 

The screen moved as Pink got up from her chair, following her as she moved to reach for the communicator and pick it up, “I’m sorry, yellow. It’s just so hectic with everything going on. I’ll prepare my ship and come get her.”

 

“Don’t bother.” Yellow waved at her flippantly, turning away from her to look momentarily at another screen with many lines of gem script scrolling downward, typing a command in and sending it away only to be replaced with another.

 

“What?” Pink paused, halfway down the steps that led to her command chair, Pearl following suit behind her, stopping to look up at her with concern.

 

Yellow took a moment before turning back to look at Pink, her lips turned down in indignation, “Orange Diamond has requested to go to White Diamond instead of waiting, and White has accepted.”

 

The screen shook as Pink stamped her foot down on the ground, her brows knitted together as she yelled, “Yellow! This is my time with Orange, you can’t just-“

 

“This is your own fault, Pink.” Yellow pointed a patronizing finger at her fellow diamond, “Those silly gems shouldn’t be giving you such a hard time. Destroy them, already. This is unacceptable.”

 

The anger fell from Pink’s face, leaving tears shimmering in her eyes, “Yellow. Please, I can come now and-“

 

“It’s already been decided Pink. Take care of whatever it is that’s going on with that colony of yours, and do it fast. Goodbye.”

Chapter Text

Orange was laying on her side, head supported by one hand while the other held loosely onto a display that she was supposed to be working on, but had since abandoned in favor of interacting with her Pearl. Or more precisely, the news she had brought with her from the archives, at her DIamond’s request. Around them was a holographic scene that illuminated the room in off-white and light blue constructs, canceling out the natural orange tint of the chamber walls, all being projected from Pearl’s gem. Giant marble obelisks jutted up into low hanging clouds, polished slabs of stone made up the floors, reflecting the white light that represented the sunlight breaking through the clouds. All around the room were the vague shapes of pastel colored light forms, representing various gems with few of them having much detail, all of them moving about and mingling, unseeing of Pearl as she knelt on the floor in concentration, multiple holographic gems moving through her in their natural walking path.

 

 It was a recording of a recording, overlaid with commentary of the one who had taken the recordings in the first place. It was blurry from movement and choppy, as if certain things had been omitted. It was one step away from being hearsay, but because of what was caught in that recount is what made it the talk of the moment. Even White seemed to be somewhat agitated about the gossip spreading through her own courts, and it hadn’t even happened here on Homeworld!

 

Depicted in the white-blue scene was the procession of a court gathering, aristocratic gems grouped together. From the prospective of where the recording had started, one could quickly derive that this person was also one of them, as the view seen turned from face to face of one royal or another, until it came to stop on a palanquin of deep blue, decorated in delicate silks and intricate lattice work. It was this that made it clear to any watcher that this was Blue Diamond’s court.

 

From there, they watched as a small Ruby squad marched through the center of the cleared walkway, their charge was a Sapphire, one Orange noted was familiar but she couldn't quite place where she knew her from. Said gem moved forward, briefly being stopped by massive Prase soldiers that guarded Blue’s palanquin, and then she was being spoken to by Blue Diamond herself. However, their recountant was not nearly close enough to them to pick up what was being said. Rolling her eyes, Orange motioned to her Pearl to move the scene forward.

 

It was only slightly more amusing to see everything skipping forward, fast movements, jaws moving so rapidly but with no clear audio to be heard, before suddenly all hell broke loose, rubies were sent flying and Prase guards were being destabilized by something that moved incredibly fast.

 

“Stop!” Orange shouted and the footage Pearl was projecting halted to a standstill, and Orange was momentarily awestruck by the image of a new gem she had never seen before. She was tall and broad, built like one of the finest Quartz soldiers that could only be produced on Homeworld itself, but dressed in an incredibly large and flowy white dress. Her curly hair was just as large as everything else about her seemed to be, hanging off her shoulders and cascading down her back en masse. In one hand was a round, pink shield and in the other a pink sword, and it certainly looked like no toy. She had a smug look about her, perhaps amused by the ruckus she dared cause right in front of Blue Diamond, or maybe it was the way she put the high class gems around her into a panic, especially when her speedy little friend had started poofing gems like it was some kind of game. Orange half expected to see them graphically shattering these gems at some point in the recording.

 

Orange remained staring at the still of this gem, this over glorified rebel, who unknowingly stared back into her eyes, that same smug expression now turned on Orange. The scene itself upset her, sparking a want to jump into a fight that had long since been over, but it was the smug grin of this shallow cut clod as she and her party crasher cohort spread fear into gems that were far more important than they could ever have hoped to be is what really set Orange’s blood to boiling point. She hardly noticed when the display she had been fidgeting with shattered and crunched in her hand, sparking briefly before the light faded from it.

 

Tossing it to the side, she pointed at her Pearl who had been keeping any comments on Orange’s actions or of the video to herself, “go back! I want to see their entrance.”

 

“At once, My Diamond.”

 

Diligently, Pearl returned the scene back to before the quartz rebel had invaded the arena, and with a nod from her Diamond, she restarted the recording. Together they watched again as this quartz and an unknown pearl dispatched two of the rubies and both praise guards, before turning to the sole sapphire, who appeared to be at peace with what would happen next. However, instead of being run through with the Pearl’s sword, she had been knocked away by the remaining ruby, the two temporally disappearing in a flash of light.

 

Orange’s brow knit together as she stared at the new gem in the projection. She was a mix of blue and pinks throughout her physical appearance, from her curly hair to her patchwork tunic and bodysuit. “What,” Orange paused, eyes running up and down the gem as it moved to look around at everyone, “what is that?”

 

“That is a fusion, my diamond. It is made of the sapphire and ruby you saw before.”

 

Orange turned to her with a bewildered look, “Since when can two gems that are not of the same type fuse?”

 

Pearl did not respond and Orange turned back to the image just in time to see the strange fusion fall apart, leaving two very confused looking gems in its wake. Orange’s eyes sparkled with awe and fascination, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

 

“it is forbidden, my diamond.” Pearl informed, but the spark of fascination never left her diamond’s eyes.

 

The scene continued on, ignorant to their conversation, with the crowd of aristocrats growing angry at the two gems that had fused before them, and in the uproar they caused, Orange and Pearl watched as the two rebels took the distraction as a chance to escape.

 

“Cowards.” Orange whispered, eyes tracking the two gems as they jumped from the arena, and out of the recorder’s view. What happened next was of no interest to Orange, and she turned from her Pearl towards the large windows that made up the far wall of her room. “thats enough Pearl.”

 

Pearl bowed her head, her gem dimmed and the hologram vanished, leaving the room to be washed back in its natural orange light. When she wasn’t given another order, Pearl moved to stand behind her, hands clasped before her as they normally were.

 

“So that is the mysterious rebel Rose Quartz.”

 

“My diamond?”

 

“Thats what all this nonsense is about? What’s so special about her?” Orange looked at Pearl, but it was clear she didn’t expect a response. “she’s just a quartz. i suppose I can see why Yellow and Blue are frustrated with Pink’s lack of progress with her colony.”

 

“Perhaps she is causing more trouble than Pink Diamond is reporting. She may not wish to trouble the other Diamonds any more than she has to.”

 

“That is possible,” Orange rubbed at her cheek in thought, “But that does not change the fact this has been going on since i was made. That’s more than 200 years, Pearl. Pink should have been able to squash whatever rebellion is going on in her colony. I simply don’t understand why a Diamond is having such issues. Then again, I don’t understand the rebels.”

 

Pearl followed Orange’s gaze out the window before them, the tops of the buildings were beginning to reflect the pink and purple light of dawn breaking through their planet’s atmosphere, creating a scene of a shining cityscape, illuminating the tops of spires and crystalline shaped towers. Pearl’s eyes followed the dark outline of three warships as they slowly traveled over the horizon towards an unknown destination. “I believe they wish to live a life without the diamond’s rule. A life free from Homeworld’s law.”

 

“How could they believe they could find any kind of real life without a diamond to guide them?” Orange turned around to her pearl, pausing a moment to look upon her face before her eyes narrowed. “Tell me, do you sympathize with these rebels?”

 

Bowing her head, Pearl’s cheek lit up under her intense gaze, “Of course not, my diamond. forgive me, i have misspoke.”

 

“I prefer you to speak your mind with me. If you have an insight to something that I don’t, I always welcome it, you know that pearl.”

 

“Of course. I apologize again, my diamond. I am not used to such….White Diamond would never have tolerated a pearl with such a tongue.”

 

Orange smiled, “Then it's a good thing i'm not White Diamond.”

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe you!” Pink yelled, pointing a finger between the two much taller Diamonds, both of which stood in front of her overly cushioned chair, having arrived before her, and thus waiting for her and Orange to get to the station at the far reaches of the system. “You can’t just take gems from my court! From my kindergartens!”

 

 

“They are threats,” Blue said, her tone diplomatic and soothing, trying to calm the raging Pink Diamond before this all got out of hand. “They are just like the one who started the rebellion on your Colony. It's only a matter of time-“

 

 

“How dare you make that decision for me!”

 

“You were doing nothing about it, Pink. It was for your own protection.”

 

“I don’t need protecting, and you can’t just- just…steal Gems from Earth! You went behind myback, to mycolony, and rounded up my soldiers and did what? Where are those Rose Quartz? What else did you take, in the name of my protection?”

 

 

Orange lowered her head, gritting her teeth as Pink continued to verbally assault the other Diamonds, her cheeks growing hot in embarrassment. How could she just drag her here, just so she could watch as she belittled their fellow Diamonds efforts to help her. She was the one who she had witnessed on more than one occasion to her begging for help with her colony, pleading that she just couldn’t stop this rebellion. The simple Quartz soldier that outsmarted her at every turn was just too great for her to handle, and they should just leave the colony unfinished and move on. As if that was really an option, for a Diamondto turn tail, as if that wouldn’t cause issues back on Homeworld. Now her moth- Pinkhad the audacity to stand here yelling at Yellow and Blue who had only attempted to help her without doing her job for her. What kind of Diamond was she? Was this the person Orange had looked up to for so long? 

 

 

“Thats enough,” Yellow finally cut Pink off, but even though she had been silenced for the moment, Orange still wished to disappear into the shadows, not believing this was happening. How could Pink be so ignorant to everything, and then yell at the ones who cared for her, and put up with her stupid games? “First you whine about wanting a colony, and then you don’t want to do the work, and suddenly, oh no, the organics need to be saved! Well Pink, we’ve done that. We’ve made a place for your organics, we’ve aid you in starting your colony, we’ve even entertained helping stop this ridiculous charade of a rebellion. Enough is enough, Pink. What more do you want?”

 

 

“I want you to stay away from my colony!” Pink bared her teeth and stomped a foot, pointing at Yellow while she clenched her other hand into fist, “You have no right-“

 

 

“You asked for out help,” Blue, ever the calmer presence said, “You have to finish the colony, Pink. Your humans are safe in your zoo. There are no more excuses.”

 

 

“E-excuses? You think I’m putting off finishing my colony? You think I’m not trying!?“

 

 

Pink was once again cut off by Yellow, who took an aggressive step towards Pink, but seemed to restrain herself from doing much more, “You need to grow up, Pink! You wanted this colony, so finish it!” She took a breath and righted herself, crossing her arms over her chest and giving Pink a much more scornful look than she had before, “What kind of example are you setting for Orange?”

 

 

That seemed to set something off in Pink, who instead of saying anything simply made a loud ‘arg’ noise, she turned away from them and began stomping towards the door. As she passed Orange, she grabbed her rather forcefully by the upper arm. “Come on, Orange, we’re leaving.”

 

 

Orange, in a burst of anger, leaned her body back, ignoring the close proximity of her pearl behind her, and as hard as she could, pulled her arm from Pink’s grasp, “I don’t want to go with you!”

 

 

A flare of bright light colored the room as a rush of energy forcefully pushed on everyone inside, oppressive and stifling. Pink, Blue, and Yellow’s Pearls slid to their knees, Yellow’s Pearl eyes rounded as tears collected in the corners with obvious fear, and Pink’s pearl grasped at her chest with a look of panic rounding her eyes. Yellow blinked in surprise of the sudden feeling pressing in on her, taking a step back while Blue gasped, a hand flying over her gem, eyes squeezing shut.

 

 

Pink, bewildered by Orange’s sudden outburst, turned and was struck by the sudden wave of hot energy that hit her, but she remained unscathed, simply covering her face with her arm and closing her eyes to avoid the warm air that rushed past her. When it passed and the stifling feeling bogging the air down had dissipated, she blinked open her eyes. First, seeing her pearl down on her knees, and then turning fully to look at Orange only to stop in shock, her eyes widening.

 

 

The bright aura surround Orange floated around her like a liquid, snapping quick points into the air as she glared at her with the most heated look she had ever seen her give her, and a hand clapped over her mouth when she looked behind Orange.

 

 

Orange, in her hazy rage, took a moment to recognize the fear and sadness in Pink’s eyes, the unfamiliar sight snapped Orange out of her daze as she realized she wasn’t looking at her, but behind her. It hit her like a Topaz's punch in the gut. Pearl.

 

 

Orange whipped around, the glowing power around her form fading as she stared unblinking at the little opaque oval on the floor, its pearlescent shine reflected the pink lighting of the room and the remaining flickers of her manifested powers.

 

 

Pearl lay in pieces on the marble floor, or more accurately, her gem. Her entire light form had vanished, leaving behind only the broken remains of a once perfect oval-shaped gem.

 

 

The three other pearls in the room stared in silent horror at the pieces of their once sister gem, scattered bits settled in an arch from where she had been hit so hard by the blast of energy that it had left pieces of her laying around like crumpled petals of a flower that had been blown away by a harsh wind.

 

 

“I..I” Orange breathed out as she turned to look up at the two diamonds standing in front of her, “I didn’t…I didn’t mean to, I-“ a tear slipped from her eye as she looked between their faces. Yellow met her gaze, looking unimpressed with a raised eyebrow, while Blue’s eyes were wide and surprised. Turning her head, Pink was staring at her now with an emotion Orange could only describe as horror.

 

 

“Orange,” Blue called and the little gem turned to her with watery eyes, afraid she was going to be scared of her too. Instead, she bent down with her arms open, and Orange ran to her, being scooped up into her hand and being brought to rest against her chest where she began to cry into her neck.

 

 

“I didn’t mean to hurt her,” Orange sobbed, “I didn’t mean it.”

 

 

Blue placed her chin on top of orange’s head, patting her back as she continued to cry, “I know, Orange. I know you didn’t mean it.”

 

 

Yellow made an exasperated sigh, “I told you she didn’t need a pearl. Now look.”

 

 

“Yellow!” Blue scolded in a hushed tone, glaring at her counterpart, “It was an accident.”

 

 

“Be that as it may,  she destroyed a pearl, the one you said that would help her, one that White gave her no less. How do we explain that?”

 

 

“Im sorry!” Orange wailed, “I’m sorry.”

 

 

Blue hushed her, “Calm down, Orange. Its alright, you’re not in trouble. She can be replaced.”

 

 

“She is not getting another Pearl.” Yellow grunted, “Especially not until that little temper is under control. Look at the damage.” Yellow made a sweeping motion with her hand toward the scattered remains of gem fragments at their feet.

 

 

“That’s enough, Yellow.” Blue gently pulled Orange from her chest where her sobs had been slowly dying, “It’s okay, Orange. You just have to be careful.”

 

 

“I don’t know what happened.” Orange rubbed at her puffy eyes, making a pitiful sniffling noise as she looked up at her, “I just got angry. You and Yellow were being nice and getting yelled at and I couldn’t stand it and then-then…” She hiccuped, holding back another wave of sobs.

 

 

“Oh Orange,” Blue’s eyes shined with her own tears.

 

 

“You have to learn to control yourself,” Yellow said, stepping closer to them, and Orange cautiously turned to look at her, her frazzled nerves calming some when she saw Yellow’s eyes had softened when they turned on her, “Thats a part of being a diamond too.”

Chapter Text

“White has decided Orange won’t receive another Pearl until she has finished her lessons with her personally.”

 

“Good,” Yellow sat back heavily in her chair, a hand sweeping over her face, “that incident was unacceptable. We should be so glad that there was no audience to such a display.”

 

“It was an accident, Yellow. She was clearly upset.”

 

“I saw an out of control gem, not an emotional breakdown. I told all of you she was not ready for a pearl.” Yellow turned to the diamond display where her fellow gem was shown, “What was she thinking, snapping like that? What if she had hurt Pink? Or one of us?”

 

Blue narrowed her eyes at Yellow, disapproval clear on her face, “You can’t blame Orange, she couldn’t have known she could do that. None of us have shown her.”

 

“Which is why we can’t keep coddling her.”

 

Blue sighed, turning away from Yellow to look at something in the distance, “Maybe…” she wiped at a tear that had collected in her eye before turning back to Yellow who had been watching her, “She reacted quite hysterically to Pink, didn’t she?”

 

“i noted that as well.” Yellow pursed her lips, “Whatever is going on is obviously effecting Orange negatively. I had not expected her to manifest her abilities so…violently. It should have happened in a controlled environment, with one of us guiding her.”

 

“Perhaps we have been holding Orange back.” Blue proposed,” We have never been too sure just what is the correct approach for her, she grows and learns at such a sporadic pace.”

 

“True, but her growth has been fluctuating recently. Some days she excels, and others she seems to be going nowhere. And it helps neither of us when she is in one of her moods. I do not think I can handle another yelling match between us so soon.”

 

“She has been arguing with you?” Blue’s eyes showed concern that yellow was quick to wave away.

 

“Nothing i can not handle.” After a pause, she leaned forward and Yellow met Blue’s eyes, a seriousness settling on her features, “She had been with you before she had gone to stay with Pink. How would you evaluate her emotional status then?”

 

“She was perfectly fine, Yellow.” Blue’s head fell into her hand, covering her eyes as her hair fell to partially obscure part of her face, and Yellow could clearly see the fatigue Blue normally managed to hide well, “She was as she always is, happy, interested in our work, a little mischievous with the guards and much more outspoken then the last time I saw her, but that is simply Orange.”

 

“Mmmh, She is certainly not as compliant as she used to be, is she?” Yellow couldn’t stop the small smile that formed on her lips while Blue looked up at her, mirroring her expression with a wistful one.

 

“She is much more decisive than she used to be. She no longer wishes to be by my side constantly and likes to do whatever she can to get out of her lessons. I believe she is growing discontent with her confinements to us. She speaks often now of how White allows her to do things we don’t.”

 

Yellow rolled her eyes, “Yes, I have heard more than I care to about how White has given her so much free reign.”

 

“But it has made her so independent. She will not want our guiding hand much longer.”

 

“i can only imagine how long it will be until she is demanding a colony of her own.”

 

Blue paled, her eyebrows shooting up in alarm, “Do you believe White would allow that?”

 

Yellow grimaced, “With how Pink’s success has gone? Stars no. Besides, she isn’t even half a millennia in age yet. Pink was at least well into her third by the time we caved.”

 

“Is it possible that is why she is failing, Yellow? Had we held her back too long?”

 

“Do not place her failures at our feet, Blue.” Yellow’s tone came out more harsh then she had intended but she continued on, “the faults in Pink’s colony are her own.”

 

“i suppose you are correct. i just wish it had turned out better for her. she had wanted a colony so badly.”

 

“And we gave her the easiest planet she could ask for.” Yellow’s voice softened as Blue’s eyes fell to the floor, “There is nothing more we can do but wait for her to sort things out. In the mean time, we have our own colonies to further, and Orange to deal with.”

 

“Not until she has finished with White, at least.” Blue reminded, looking back up at Yellow, he brow becoming pinched, "Pink was quite upset about that as well. She so looks forward to spending time with her.”

 

“What Pink wants is irrelevant in this case.”

 

“Its still upsetting, Yellow. Have some compassion.”

 

“And maybe you should have a little less.” Yellow sneered, “It will do Pink some good to have time on her own. No distractions, so she can’t blame Orange needing her attention this time.”

 

A pause in the conversation formed as Blue hesitated a long moment before finally speaking,  “…i did not say anything to Orange, but have you noticed she no longer calls Pink by that organic title?”

 

“Mother?” Yellow’s eyebrow rose in question and Blue nodded an affirmative, “yes, but i wasn’t going to bring it up. I for one am glad she has broken that silly habit. I assumed you had said something?”

 

“No, i thought you might have.”

 

Yellow’s eyes fell closed for a moment as she let out a deep sigh, “…White, of course. It was only a matter of time before she stepped in, i suppose.”

 

Blue visibly winced at White’s name, “I hope she was gentle with her.”

 

“whatever she was, it worked, and i can accept those results.”

 

“You know how White can be, Yellow. what if she-“

 

“We both know White has shown favoritism with her, and her way seems to be highly effective. I doubt she would change her manner of dealing with Orange now.” Yellow reminded her, “Which is why i believe it might very well be for the best it is White taking Orange’s lessons in her own hands at the moment. ”

 

“I hope you are correct, Yellow.”

 

“You’ll see, Blue. I generally am.”

 

Chapter Text

Takes place between Chapter 16 and 17


 

Orange followed Pink as she lead her up to her command chair, the two talking animatedly to one another and bursting out into raucous laughter. Pink took a moment to bring up a holographic display over her desk and the two became emerged in what it played, leaving their two Pearls to their own devices.

 

Orange’s Pearl remained standing next to Pink’s at the base of the platform, the two Pearl’s mirroring each other as they stood by while their Diamond conversed, hands folded in front of them and both pointedly looking away from the two gems as they spoke, trying to give them as much privacy as they could without actually leaving their sides.

 

Pink’s Pearl looked out the glass cage of the upper part of the moon base, and Orange’s pearl followed her line of sight. Before them was the vast void of space, bright white stars dotted the blackness haphazardly, the image only slightly blurred by the light being reflected off the moon they were on. Just a little beyond that was the sight of a blue planet, green and yellow colored continents could be seen through thick clouds and atmosphere that reflected the light from this system’s sun, casting a portion of the clouds into pink and yellow hues.

 

“So That is Earth.” The brighter gem spoke softly, her pearl counterpart turning her head to look at her before going back to the planet.

 

“Yes. It’s something, isn’t it?”

 

“Yes. My Diamond speaks of it sometimes. Or, more accurately, of Pink Diamond and how it is a lot of trouble.”

 

Pink’s pearl frowned, “I wouldn’t say trouble-“

 

“No, not the planet. The Rebels.”

 

“Ah, Yes. Them.” Pearl adverted her eyes, turning to briefly look up at the Diamonds then back at Earth, ignoring her fellow’s eyes that looked to her with an unknown emotion that made her uneasy. Nervous.

 

“It is unfortunate they are causing so much trouble. My Diamond would like to visit more often, but it seems Pink Diamond is always busy now, trying to deal with this…what was it?”

 

“Rose Quartz.” Pearl supplied hotly before she could stop herself, her mouth clamping shut and her jaw showing strain as she endeavored to keep from meeting eyes with the inquisitive Pearl.

 

“Rose Quartz.” Orange’s Pearl drew out her name, “The lowly Quartz soldier that dares defy Pink Diamond and our Great Diamond Authority. Very sneaky, that one.”

 

Pink’s pearl turned to Orange’s with narrowed eyes, “Are you trying to say something, or does your Diamond require you to speak in riddles?”

 

Pearl chuckled, “There is no reason to be so hostile, I am only being curious. No Diamond before has had to deal with such rowdy gems. I can’t imagine it is easy as her Pearl. A job I do not envy you.”

 

“It is a great honor to aid Pink Diamond in squashing these upstarts. She does her best with what she has. No other Diamond can say they have done what she has.”

 

“No, I don’t believe they can. I imagine by the end of it, there will be a story to share for centuries on Homeworld.”

 

“I’m sure the aristocracy will be beside themselves with so much action to talk about in one sitting.”

 

“You think little of our betters?”

 

“I think,” Pink’s pear paused, “that they have no idea what it’s actually like to aid a Diamond in their work as our leaders, to further our cause and staying true to our diamonds and the work they do…I think they have more time to gossip than a gem of our status.”

 

“And that is the burden of a Pearl to bear in silence. As is doing what we must for our Diamonds. How are you holding up, assisting Pink Diamond? This rebellion has been happening for some time. Do you believe there is an end in sight?”

 

“You know, if I did not know your Diamond so well, I would believe you were attempting to collect intel for her.”

 

“And what intel would I get, that hasn’t been placed in a report that could be gotten in the Diamond’s archives? But, as you say, you know my Diamond, so you know she would have no interest in Pink Diamond’s colony beyond its completion.”

 

“Yes. But you haven’t always been Orange Diamond’s pearl, have you?”

 

“And you have always been Pink Diamond’s Pearl?”

 

“Pearl, are you two arguing?”

 

Both Pearl’s turned to look up in time to see Orange and Pink descending the stairs to them, Orange Diamond skipping down steps faster than Pink Diamond could keep up with.

 

“Oh no, is everything alright?” Pink’s eyebrows knitted together in concern as she looked between the two.

 

“No, My Diamond, everything is perfectly fine.” Orange’s pearl bowed, giving the two a perfect salute, “we were just discussing a mission report.”

 

“Ehh, no more work right now, Pearl.” Orange smiled as she came to stop beside them, “come on, we’re return to my room for some rest, its been a long trip.”

 

“As you wish, my Diamond.”

 

Pink and her Pearl watched as Orange lead her own pearl from the room, Pink’s pearl following the other pearl until she was out of site.

 

“Pearl?” Pink called softly, noting the tension in her stance. “Is everything okay?”

 

Pearl hesitated a moment before nodding, giving Pink a small smile, “Everything is fine, my Diamond.”

Chapter Text

Yellow sat back in her command chair, her Pearl standing beside it, arms folded behind her back as she attempted to stop herself from shrinking away as three different command displays hovered in the air, each holding a different Diamond’s face, and each with a different expression from the one beside them. While their gaze had never strayed to Pearl herself, just the sight of all three diamonds, along with her own Diamond beside her, was enough to put Yellow’s pearl on edge. In all of her time serving Yellow Diamond, it was never a good thing when all the Diamonds where in contact. Never.

 

“Yellow!” Blue yelled, her face contorted in rage, teeth bared and nostrils flaring.

 

“What? It isn’t my fault.” Yellow pinched the bridge of her nose again, this screaming had been going on for far too long.

 

“Orange was hurt on your watch!” Pink yelled. Yellow didn’t think it should be possible for the younger diamond to look even angrier than Blue, but her bright pink eyes and scrunched features made her look livid. Which, Yellow could see, she obviously was. Both Pink and Blue were the most emotional diamonds of the four, er, fiveof them. 

 

“Pink, please, stop yelling.” Yellow sighed, her hand dropping from her face as she settled Pink with a blank look, which only seemed to fuel her anger more.

 

“Don’t tell me to stop yelling! Why are you so calm about this!? My little Orange was poofed because of your carelessness!”

 

“It’s not like I was planning to have her pushed her off the landing.” Yellow grunted.

 

“Stars-“ Blue gasped, her hand flying to cover her mouth.

 

“That is enough.” Everyone’s eyes turned to look at White on their own displays. Unlike Blue and Pink, White remained rather neutral in her expression. Not quite smiling, but she hardly looked angry about what had happened, Yellow would even say she was unfazed.

 

“White?” Blue asked in the quietest tone she had used since Yellow had initiated this call.

 

“I believe Yellow has been throughly berated for what has happened.” White’s voice was silvery, a force of calm and reason in a storm of angry voices. Her bright eyes stared pointedly at Yellow, who sat up a little straighter under her gaze, “What has become of the Amethysts that were to escort her?”

 

“Destabilized and being prepared to be sent to Homeworld for harvesting.” Yellow answered in the most professional tone she could muster, which seemed to please White as she gave a single nod.

 

“Good.”

 

“Good!?” Pink’s teeth were bared and lips downturned, her eyes were wide, furious.

 

“Pink.” White chastised.

 

“Grr.”

 

“Settle down.” White’s tone was hard, and Pink looked caught between wanting to raise her voice again and ducking her head in submission, “The gems that are at fault will be punished. Yellow can not control everything that happens.”

 

“But-“

 

“Quiet now, Starlight. I’m talking.”

 

Pink’s eyes fell to the ground, eyebrows scrunched together and a pout on her lips. “Sorry.”

 

“Yellow,” white’s full attention was back on her, “bring Orange back to Homeworld. She should be in familiar settings when she reforms.”

 

“This is her first time having to reform, isn’t it?” Blue questioned, “it may take her some time.”

 

Pink looked absolutely distraught when blue’s question registered with her, “She probably doesn’t even know what’s going on.”

 

White was quick to calm the rising panic between Pink and Blue, “And if that is the case, we will be there to aid her.”

 

Yellow pushed herself up from her chair, the three other Diamond’s eyes following her as she stood to her full height. “I’ll prepare my ship for Homeworld.”

 


 

Orange blinked, a long, drawn out motion as she attempted to sit up. Her limbs felt heavy, like she was trying to move herself through sand and she struggled to push herself up from the ground. Her eyes stung, like when she had become overly tired and had not been able to close them for a long time. She fought to keep them open, attempting to continually blink until the irritation of keeping them open cleared enough for her to actually look around.

 

“What...what is this?”

 

The light was incredibly dim, all around her was an unsettling blackness that cloaked the walls and ceiling in an almost oppressive darkness. The floor appeared to be reflecting light that had no source she could trace, like the overly polished stone floors of Homeworld reflected light. It was familiar, and the only real comfort in the mostly dark room she was in. Or, she believed this was a room, but she could not be so sure with no doors or walls to make up the actual structure of this place.

 

“Why is it so...empty. Hello?”

 

Her voice carried and echoed off of unseen walls, her own voice thrown back at her from multiple directions as it traveled around before fading into the blackness too.

 

“Okay. Okay, whatever this place is, it’s not home.” Orange reasoned out loud to herself as she looked around, taking a deep breath to try and calm her nerves. She strained her eyes to see if the light reflecting off the floor was touching anything else to give her any idea where she might be. She tensed, her head raising and eyes widening when her voice echoed back at her, not as a mimic of her exact words, but a repeat of just one.

 

“Home?” It bounced around her, the question tossed at her in reverberation.

 

“Who’s there?” Her head whipped around, trying to find the one who spoke back to her, but she couldn’t find anything but floor a few feet in all directions of her before it disappeared into the inky shadows.

 

“Hello?” It asked again. Orange whimpered, her eyes darting around and she couldn’t stop shaking as fear began to grip her, tightening her chest and throat, tears beginning to form in her eyes.

 

“Leave me alone!” Her voice carried around her, amplified to the point it made her ears ring.

 

“Hello?” The voice that had ricocheted around the room suddenly became singular and clear, its source coming from directly behind her. Orange fell over on to her elbows as she flipped herself around so quickly she was set off balance on weighted limbs. Her eyes were wide and her mouth dropped open as she started at another person. She had long bright orange hair with spiked tuffs that stuck up from the top and long lengths that fell in front of her ears. Her skin was a paler orange than her hair, her round orange eyes stared at her without blinking. It was like looking into an unsettling mirror, as Orange looked at someone who looked just like her, but obviously wasn’ther, staring her down with an expression that was much too serious for her soft, chubby features.

 

“Who are you?” Orange asked, her teeth making a clicking noise as her jaw tensed, keeping a constant watch on this mimic of herself, but they never made to move towards her. It (she?) tilted its head to the side, giving her an unblinking stare.

 

“Who are you?” It finally responded after a long moments pause.

 

Orange’s brows drew together as she looked at the mimic in confusion. “I…I am Orange Diamond!”

 

“I am Orange Diamond.” It parroted back.

 

Orange blinked, surprised, “Excuse me?”

 

“You are excused.” Mimic Orange blinked slowly, as if she was testing out the action for the first time.

 

The fear Orange had felt at the sight of this mirror version of herself was quickly being replaced with annoyance, her eyes narrowing at her mimic, “You think that’s funny? Just who are you really?”

 

“I’m Orange Diamond.” Mimic Orange repeated again in the same toneless voice as before.

 

“No you’re not! I’m Orange Diamond.”

 

“I…” Mimic paused, "am Orange Diamond.”

 

“Are you mocking me?” Orange snarled.

 

“No.”

 

Orange’s enraged expression dropped at the simple response, her head cocking to the side as she stared back at her mimic. “Then why are you…whatever. I don’t care, where are we?” She questioned, taking a glance around at the blackness that still surround them.

 

“We’re safe.”

 

“Safe?” Orange repeated in bewilderment, "This place doesn’t look safe, I can’t even see 3 meters in front of me!”

 

Mimic made the first real move Orange had seen it make since it appeared before her, turning its head to look around at the darkness around them, “This is safe. We don’t want to see.”

 

Orange’s lips curled down into a frown, her hands curling into fists in annoyance, “Youmay very well be okay living in the dark, but I want to see! Where is the light in this place? And how are you moving so…” 

 

Mimic began advancing towards her at a brisk pace, ignoring Orange’s questions.

 

“Wait, don’t come any closer!” Orange ducked her head, her arm coming up to block her face from what she thought would be an attack. After a moment of nothing, she blinked her eyes open, focusing on an outstretched hand in front of her face, “Err..thank you.” She mumbled as she grabbed the hand and the Mimic pulled her to her feet as if she weight nothing at all.

 

“What?” Orange whispered as she felt her limbs become less sluggish, and she flexed her fingers until she felt everything was functioning again as it was supposed to be. “What did you do-“

 

“You want to see?” Mimic interrupted her, "But it’s safe here. We can’t be hurt here.”

 

“Be hurt?” she questioned, “Running into walls isn’t exactly making the top of my fun things to do list.”

 

“If we can’t see, we don’t know. We are safe.”

 

“But…don’t you want to know what’s in this place?” Orange was surprised when Mimic gave her a confused expression, as if that was a concept that had never crossed her mind. “Don't you live here?”

 

“If I see, then I know. I want to be safe.” Mimic responded, alarm stretched across her face.

 

“But…you can’t always be safe.” Orange fidgeted with the bottom of her tunic, unsure what to do as she witnessed the mirror of herself become visibly upset at their conversation. With much hesitation, Orange reached out and placed a hand onto Mimic’s shoulder, feeling the light tremor under her hand, she gave her shoulder a squeeze. “Sometimes…Yellow says sometimes you have to take a certain amount of risk when you are going into the unknown, so we prepare ourselves for it. Don’t you want to know what’s out there?”

 

“Home?” It questioned.

 

“Maybe. It could be…Why don’t we go together?” Orange proposed, “we can find out.”

 

“Together?” Mimic’s voice was small, and she reached up to cover Orange’s hand with her own.

 

“There’s safety in numbers. I’m not supposed to go anywhere alone, but I think mama would make an exception for this, especially if she knew I was helping someone.” Orange smiled, grabbing Mimic’s hand in her own and holding it, feeling when she responded by giving her a light squeeze back.

 

“Home…” Mimic nodded, as if she had decided something in her moment of silence, “I want to go home.”

 

“Then lets go find home.”

 

Mimic nodded again and Orange turned around, keeping her hand clasped in Mimic’s as she looked around. “Okay, lets start by finding a door or something. do you know the way?”

 

Mimic shook her head in the negative and Orange sighed, “Alright, then we’ll find it ourselves.”

 

Orange was cautious as she led Mimic towards the darkness, trying her best to ignore the fluttering in her stomach when they stepped into it. Slow and cautious, tapping her foot lightly before her every few steps to ensure she wasn’t going to run into anything or suddenly fall off the walkway. 

 

“see?” Orange turned to smile at Mimic, but realized she probably couldn’t see her face in the dark, “Its not so bad out here. and we’re bound to find the- oof.” if it hadn’t been for Mimic’s grip on her hand Orange would have stumbled back and fallen on her butt. Her hand flung up to cup her face, “oowww.”

 

Mimic giggled behind her and orange turned her head to glare in her general direction. “You think thats funny?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Glad i can be your amusement.” Orange grumbled as she released her nose and reach out in front of her. a little ways in front of her was a flat surface, no raised details, only a cold, smooth expanse for her fingers to run over. “I think i found a wall. okay, let’s feel around, there has to be a door around here.”

 

Orange let Mimic’s hand go, feeling her set up beside her, and together the two of them began to blindly explore the wall.

 

After what felt like an incredibly long time, Orange heard Mimic call for her, “I found something.”

 

Using her hand on the wall as a guide, Orange moved towards Mimic, her hand stretched out before her. a few steps to her left into the dark, Orange’s fingers came into contact with Mimic’s arms, Mimic’s hand came up to grab it, intertwining their fingers so Orange could not pull away again. With her other, Mimic grabbed her other arm, running her hand down the length of it and taking her other hand and guiding it towards the wall in front of her until Orange’s fingers felt something under her hand.

 

“Is that…a scanner! Yes!” Orange laughed, moving her hand around the raised plate until it lit up, casting both of them in bright light. She turned to smile widely at Mimic, who mirrored her expression, looking quite pleased with herself, “Great job!”

 

“Home.” Mimic urged, and Orange nodded, Placing her hand over the basic outline of a hand that appeared on the glowing plate.

 

“Yeah, lets go home.” A moment later, the scanner beeped and Orange held her breath as the outline of the door beside them lit up, bright white lines shooting up from the floor on either side and following the shape of a semi-hexagon until they met at the very top and then dropped back down the middle. As the doors slid open, Orange scouted the beyond in the light they now had. Unlike the room, the hall before them was decently lit, the lights being built into the floor and casting pink light onto the polished tiles and reflecting off the walls, giving enough light that Orange could see the open space before them. High ceilings and sparkling stone walls, towering statues of soldier gems without faces that were eternally saluting lined the walkway, each placed in between the strips of floor lights.

 

“Well, this is promising.” Orange muttered, stepping into the hall with Mimic directly behind her. Their footsteps echoed around the long hall that seemed to go on forever, no doors or windows, and the same statue repeating every ten steps. Just when Orange was sure they would be walking in this never ending hallway for the rest of their lives, Orange spotted what looked like a diamond shaped door far in the distance. “Look!”

 

Mimic followed her finger, her mouth dropping open at the sight. “Home.”

 

Orange smiled, “Maybe thats a way out. Come on.”

 

They started out at a slow pace towards the door, but the closer they got, the more excited Orange became, and it was not long before she was pulling Mimic into a full on run towards the door. She did not protest and easily kept up with Orange’s pace, and a few moments later they were upon the door. Breathing heavy, Orange looked between the two side of the diamond shaped door for a hand scanner, finding one on both sides of the door. Pulling Mimic with her, Orange moved towards the scanner on the right, reaching up and putting her hand to it. the scanner lit up, but the door did not budge.

 

“What? no, no, no, come on! work!” Orange slammed her hand onto the scanner multiple times, but it never reacted more than lighting and then dimming. Orange only stopped when she felt Mimic tug her hand from her own, and she turned her head to look and see as Mimic walked to the opposite side of the door, stopping in front of the scanner there. 

 

Holding her hand up in front of her, Mimic examined her hand then looking up at the scanner above her head before turning to look at Orange. “Together.”

 

Realization dawned on Orange, two scanners meant the door needed two gems. “OH. good thinking!” Orange laughed as she was the one to mirror Mimic this time, raising her hand towards the pad and turning to look at her. “ready?”

 

Mimic nodded, and together, the two placed their hands against the scanners. The plates lit up simultaneously and like the first door, a light traveled the shape of the doorway before sliding open. Orange and Mimic walked towards one another, giving each other a look before peering inside together. Inside was a very large, very familiar room. Black marble floors, white shimmering walls and the raised flooring.

 

“This is White’s command room on her head ship.” Orange said, looking around in wonder. “This is weird.”

 

Stepping through the doorway, the door unexpectedly slid closed behind them, and even when Orange stepped up to them, they did not move. “Okay. Were trapped.”

 

“Not trapped. Safe.”

 

Orange turned to look at Mimic, her eyebrow raised in question.

 

“Hello, my little Gemling.”

 

A bright light exploded in the room, momentarily blinding Orange, who attempted to cover her eyes with her arms as she looked away. After a moment and the light had had dimmed to an acceptable level, Orange turned her head and was surprised when the bright face of White Diamond smiled down upon her. Standing on the raised platform, White Diamond towered over both of them, becoming the brightest source of light in the room. 

 

“White!” Her face lit up as she made to run to her but was stopped when Mimic wrapped her hand around Orange’s wrist, keeping Orange in a vice grip that she couldn’t tug her hand free from. “Hey! Let go.”

 

Mimic shook her head, looking from Orange to White, who was watching them with interest. “Together.”

 

Orange’s annoyed expression morphed into surprise before morphing again into a smile, reaching down to take Mimic’s hand in her own and then guiding her towards White.

 

“I see you have progressed far, my dear.”

 

“What’s going on?” Orange questioned, “what is this place?”

 

“We are inside your gem, Orange.” White smiled kindly.

 

“What?” Orange’s eyebrows snapped together in confusion, "What does that mean?”

 

“You were hurt at Yellow’s moon base. Do you remember that?” White questioned as she knelt down to Orange and Mimic’s level.

 

“No, I-...wait...I was...no. That can’t be right.” Orange hunched over, her hand slipping from Mimic’s as she grabbed at her head, her eyes squeezing shut, “Why does my head hurt.”

 

Mimic was at her side in an instant, her hand on her back as she looked at Orange with concern, unsure of what to do.

 

“Calm down, dear. Don’t struggle against it, your fighting it and that is why you feel pain.” White reached forward, her fingertips brushing Orange’s head and the pounding that had been building up between her ears began to dissipate. "That’s me. Do you sense me?”

 

“Yes…yes, I feel that.” Taking a deep breath, Orange’s hands fell away from her head as she blinked the new tears from her eyes before they could fall, turning her attention back up to White. “It’s like I can feel things being moved around in my head. What are you doing?”

 

“I’m combing through your thoughts for your last memory. Ah, here.”

 

Orange’s eyes dilated as she was suddenly cast into a memory. The familiar light yellow floor and white stairs. the laughter of her guards. Pain in her back, and then she was being tipped over the edge of the landing, the floor rapidly coming up to her. The fear made her chest feel like it might explode as she realized a second too late she was falling. “Ahh! I’m falling! I-“

 

And then she was back in the room with White and Mimic, breathing hard and clutching at her gem.

 

“Your not falling anymore, Orange.” White said gently, "You’re safe now.”

 

“I am? i am.”

 

“Safe.” Mimic repeated, squeezing her shoulder.

 

Orange nodded at Mimic, a silent thanks for her being there, before she looked up at White.“You said i’m in my gem, then how are you here? are you a figment of my imagination?” realization hit Orange and she turned to mimic, “Are you?”

 

Mimic shook her head no.

 

“Your back on Homeworld. Pink, and Blue, and Yellow are here as well.” White answered.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Can I see them?”

 

“You’ll have to reform to see them.” White responded.

 

“Is…is Yellow mad at me?” Orange hesitated to ask.

 

“What for?”

 

“I made her come to Homeworld, when she had work on her colony. She doesn’t like it when I’m a distraction.” Orange told her, her voice quiet and small.

 

“Do not worry about that, Orange. Blue and Pink are very worried about you.”

 

Orange’s eyebrows came together in a mix of confusion and alarm, “But you said I’m okay.”

 

“You are, but you have been in your gem for some time.”

 

“I have? How long?”

 

“It’s been almost two months now, my Gemling. It’s time to return to us.”

 

“I...I want to, but I don’t know how. I want to go home, I want to see mother, and Blue, and Yellow.”

 

“Then come back to us.”

 

“How?” Orange’s voice broke, tears forming in her eyes again.

 

"Think about your physical form.”

 

“My form?”

 

Orange turned to Mimic as she tugged on her hand, pulling attention to her as she intertwined their fingers together in one, and covered them with the other. a small smile forming on her face as she look into Orange’s eyes. “Together, we’ll go home.”

 

“You’re not a copy, you’re…me, aren’t you?”

 

“I want to go home now.”

 

Orange hesitated a moment before reaching up with her other hand and covering Mimic’s hand with her own, and together they began to glow until they were nothing but white light.

 

“Yes, that’s it. Think of your body. Think how it’s made, limb by limb, all starting with your gem. Can you picture it?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Then join us, Orange Diamond. We have waited long enough.”

 


 

Blue, Yellow, and Pink stood around White’s control room aboard her head ship, watching in silence as White held Orange’s gems in-between her cupped hands, her head bowed and eyes closed in concentration.

 

“She’s taking so long.” Pink couldn’t stop the tears sliding down her face, if they were her own or Blue’s, she didn’t know and she didn’t care.

 

“Patience.” Yellow said, the sole dry eyed gem between the three of them. “There’s no telling what White is having to do to get through to her.”

 

“It’s been so long, Yellow! what if somethings wrong, or-“

 

“There.” White’s voice carried softly around the room, her eyes blinking open as she looked down at the gem in her hand. a moment later, Orange’s gem began to glow, lifting up out of White’s hand and rotating until it was in its normal orientation, the glow spreading outward until it began to take the vague shape of a small body and then filled out into the outline of the form of Orange they were familiar with. There was a shared gasp between them when instead of solidifying, it began to shift again, taking on a slightly new outline and finally dropping back toward’s White’s cupped hands as Orange’s body blinked into form and the bright light dissipated from her body.

 

Blinking open her closed eyes, Orange looked around, the familiarness of White’s command room meeting her before she turned to look at White, a large smile stretching across her face. “Thank you, White.”

 

White laughed, “You’re very welcome, Orange. i believe,” White glanced down at the three diamonds staring up at them, her eyes focusing on Pink, “there is someone who you have kept waiting.”

 

Orange turned, following her eyes down, her face lighting up when she met three familiar sets of eyes. “Mother! Blue! Yellow!”

 

white leaned down, lowering her hand to allow Orange to jump off at a safe distance, Pink being the first to meet her as she jumped up, grabbing Orange and pulling her into a tight hug as she slowed their decent down. “Orange! Oh, my little gem. You had me so worried.”

 

Orange laughed as she hugged Pink back, “I'm sorry. i didn’t mean to worry anyone.”

 

as soon as they touched to the ground they were being pulled into a hug from Blue Diamond, the two older diamonds crying and laugh as they squished Orange between them. “Orange! Oh, thank goodness. im so happy your back. I-oh, look at you.”

 

Blue held Orange and Pink in her hands as Pink stepped back and she and Blue got a look at Orange’s new appearance. No longer was her hair so wild, the upper spikes of hair on her head having fused together, creating longer pieces that fell to the side. the bangs that had once hug over her eyes were no longer there, leaving her eyes easier to be seen and having lost some of their childlike roundness. Her open top had been replaced with a new, longer maroon tunic and a belt around her midsection. Her once bare legs were now covered in dark orange stockings and her shoes had been replaced with similar ones that matched her belt's color.

 

“Your taller!” Pink gushed, her hands running over Orange’s hair, “and look, how cute!

 

Orange blushed as she pushed her mother’s hand away from her head before she could ruffle her hair up more.

 

“It’s about time, Orange. You had Blue and Pink incredibly worried.” Yellow finally spoke, stepping up to Blue’s side, her bright eyes running up and down Orange’s new form appraisingly.

 

Orange turned to look at Yellow directly, the smile slightly slipping from her face as she attempted to give Yellow a somewhat serious look to match her own. “I’m sorry, Yellow. I didn’t mean to cause trouble.”

 

“You were no trouble, Orange!” Blue was quick to respond before Yellow could, pulling her and pink into another hug.

 

“Reforming for the first time can be difficult.” Yellow supplied, looking away from the three hugging gems.

 

“What Yellow means to say,” White chuckled, “is it took her almost an entire month and a half to reform the first time she lost her form.”

 

“White!” Yellow gave White a furious look before she could stop herself, "Don’t just tell her things like that. That’s...personal.”

 

“Really?” Orange blinked in surprise at Yellow, ”You must have been really hurt!”

 

“I…Yes, I was.” Yellow raised her head higher as she straightened herself, crossing her arms over her chest.

 

“Were you scared?”

 

“What? No, of course not.”

 

Pink giggled, bending over to whisper into Orange’s ear, “she absolutely was, and she doesn’t want to say.”

 

“Hey! What are you whispering about!? What are you telling her?”

 

“Nothing, Yellow!” Pink said, turning toward her and sticking her tongue out.

 

Orange laughed, smiling as she looked around at each diamond, smiles being mirror as everyone elses attention were on Yellow and Pink as they playfully bickered. Orange laughed again, placing her hand over her gem as it glowed under her touch. “Im home.”

 

Chapter Text

“Again.”

 

Orange’s legs shook as she squeezed her eyes shut, one hand out in front of her as she concentrated on trying to find that familiar tug, trying to force something, anything, to the surface. “I...I can’t.”

 

White’s ever constant smile appeared more condescending than its usual loving when it was turned on Orange. “You can and you will.”

 

Sweat peppered and slid down from Orange’s forehead, her skin a much paler Orange than it normally was, appearing almost light peach in the presence of White Diamond. Blinking open her eyes, Orange breathed heavier with the exertion being put on her body. “White, please. I’m so tired. My head feels like it’s going to explode”

 

“Oh my little Gemling, our little Orange Diamond.” White’s tone took on a sickly sweet tone, “Is this the best you think you can do?”

 

Orange’s eyes widened as she looked up at White, taking a step back when she met her eyes and saw the amusement dancing across her face. “W-White? Your scaring me.”

 

“If this is all you can manage, how do you think you’ll ever hope to help our wonderful Empire? Surely this isn’t the best a diamond of your cut can manage.”

 

“I’m trying!” Orange grit her teeth as she squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head, “I just...I don’t know how! I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know how I did it.”

 

“Then think back, what did you do?”

 

“I just got angry!” She startled herself with her raised voice, as she hadn’t meant to yell at White. "And I...” her voice became rough as tears formed in the corners of her eyes, “I destroyed my Pearl. I shattered Pearl.”

 

“Orange, That is enough. I don’t want to hear one more word about that Pearl!” White shouted, her voice penetrating and thundering in the vast room, “She is insignificant, a servant. She did her job, and she will be replaced. In time, that is. We can not get ahead of ourselves.”

 

Orange glared up at white, “But I don’t want to replace her! I...”her eyes fell to the floor between them, “I don’t want to hurt anyone else, White. I’m scared.”

 

“Scared of what? Of your potienial? Of being the most perfect you, you can be? Think of what you will become, my dear, when you master that power of yours. It’s going to take time, yes, but it will happen. So, let’s start again.”

 

Orange shook her head, her eyes pleading with White as she looked back up at her, “Please, no. No.”

 

“Orange.” White’s said her name in warning, Try again.”

 

“No!”

 

“Do it again!”

 

“I said no!” Orange screamed, squeezing her eyes shut as she felt a tug in her chest. The very air around them rapidly heated up, a bright orange light surrounded her as snapping energy that took the vague, contorted shape of a dome pushed out from where she was, the very air popping and hissing as it expanded in the small radius around her before blinking out of existence. Around her, the floor was scorched, black marks streaked across the white marble outward, leaving a small untouched area where Orange had been in the center of the dome.

 

White laughed heartily, her voice returning to its normally soft tone when she was speaking with Orange. “See? You can do it, you just have to figure out how.”

 

Sweat dripped off of Orange’s nose as she wobbled, fighting to stay standing upright, a ringing in her ears that told her something wasn’t quite right. “White...I don’t feel so good.”

 

“Orange? What are you-“ White was cut off as Orange Diamond fell to her knees and then flat on the floor, limbs sprawled out as she remained unmoving,”…Orange!”

 

White’s Pearl was quick to get to the smaller Diamond’s side, sliding down to the floor beside her and gently placing a hand to her head, and turning it so she could see her face. Through the simple contact with the younger gems body, she could feel the heat still radiating off of her, even through her glove. Inspecting her, she noted the way her long hair stuck to her skin, her cheeks were a deep orange color, a prominent shade against her unusually pale skin tone. Dark, almost gray circles were under her eyes that she could tell hadn’t been developed in the time she had been in this session. Pushing on her shoulder, Pearl managed to move the heavier gem’s body onto her back where both she and White Diamond could see Orange’s gem in the natural bright light of the eldest diamond. No hairline cracks or discoloration, there was no issues Pearl could find, so she turned to look up at her Diamond’s concerned face. “Her Gem is untouched. I believe she is only temporally inactive, my Diamond.”

 

“I see. Very well, take her back to her chambers, Pearl, so she can rest.”

 

Pearl stood up, saluting to White as she gave a short bow of her head, “At once, my Diamond.”

Chapter Text

Orange stretched out over the soft white bed in her chambers aboard White’s head ship. The pillows that normally littered the bed when she inhabited the space were stacked on one side to allow room for both her and Pearl as they lounged together, her head on Pearl’s lap while they talked. Her Pearl’s hand ran lightly over her hair, smoothing at fly away pieces while Orange talked, quietly listening and speaking up when it was appropriate of her to, otherwise she was perfectly content to simply listen to her Diamond speak lazily about an event that happened before her time with her.

 

It was becoming a rare occurrence that they had such downtime together, that did not involve Orange Diamond completing a lesson task given to her by one of the other Diamonds, or even being in the presence of one, or one of her fellow Pearl’s. Any time away from them was spent with her Diamond resting in an inactive state, and while it had been alarming to her at first, she had simply become used to and associated it to her Diamond’s own unique characteristics.

 

She was aware her Diamond was special, the exact circumstances of why and what exactly made her different was not privy to her, a result of being a simple Pearl and thus not important enough to know such a thing, but she had been supplied with enough information to know how to meet her Diamond’s needs. And while her needs where not too far from any other gem, she realized that her need to replace minerals for her physical form, as well as the time she required to be inactive, set her apart from her peers. Her Diamond was special, and as her Pearl, she would serve her as best she could, while guarding her Diamond’s unique traits from any other gem that was not in the older Diamonds’ approved gems that already knew about Orange. She knew this uniqueness would not be so welcomed in Homeworld’s society, and Pearl could not bare to see it possibly snuffed out.

 

“Pearl? Pearrrl? Hello, are you listening?”

 

Pearl blinked as a hand was waved in her face and she laughed, pushing it away, “Yes, Orange. I am.”

 

A wide smile stretched across her face, “you called me Orange again.”

 

“You did request I only call you Orange when it is just us.” Pearl reminded her softly.

 

“Well, Yeah. But you normally don’t.”

 

“And it is normally not just us.”

 

“It has been a while since we could just spend time alone, hasn’t it?” Orange asked softly, gazing up at her through strands of hair that had fallen onto her face when Pearl had ceased moving her fingers through it.

 

“It has. But you are a Diamond, and it is expected you will constantly be busy.”

 

“I’ll only get busier when I’m a real Diamond.”

 

“I do believe you already are a real diamond, aren’t you? You did not go and become a Jasper while I was away getting your supplement, did you?”

 

Orange laughed, her shoulders shaking with her mirth, “you know what I mean, Pearl!”

 

“Yes, I do. But I wanted you to laugh.”

 

“You're always trying to make me laugh. Your going to get me in real trouble one of these days.”

 

Pearl grinned, “I don’t believe it is my fault if you happen to burst out laughing in the middle of one of Yellow Diamond’s discussions.”

 

“Oh, no, because you were totally not making faces at me behind her back.”

 

“You looked like you could use the distraction. If I remember correctly, you said Yellow’s discussions can become drier than a peridot’s mission report on a gamma kindergarten.”

 

“Oh Star! That’s right! But Yellow was so angry, I thought she was going to explode right out of her boots when I couldn’t stop laughing. I was so glad you were there, though. Having my ear lectured off wasn’t so bad.”

 

Pearl’s smile widened, her hand resuming its light brush through her Diamond’s hair, “So than how could you do it?”

 

“Haha, yeah I- what?” The large smile on Orange’s face fell slightly as she raised an eyebrow in question at Pearl.

 

Pearl’s hand stopped moving as she turned to look into Orange’s eyes, all the amusement draining from her face. “How could you kill me?”

 

“What? No, no, no!” Orange sat up, turning to look at her pearl in alarm, “Pearl, I didn’t-“

 

“I trusted you! You said I was your friend!” Pearl shouted, and quicker than Orange could react, she was grabbing her by her tunic, the two of them tumbling from the bed together. Orange, in a panic, managed to wrestle Pearl’s strangely strong grasp from her clothes and using her legs to propel herself out from under Pearl and scoot away from her on the polished stone floor.

 

Pearl did not immediantly move after her, remaining in a heap on the floor where they fell and Orange took the moment of motionless to shake her head, tears clouding her eyes as she was hit with a wave of fear and sadness at the blank look she could see on Pearl’s normally soft, serene features, “No, Pearl, please! You are my friend, I-“

 

Pearl, with speed that should have been impossible for her, was moving towards her on her hands and knees, and managed to overtake Orange before she could scurry away out of her reach, climbing on top of her and pinning her down by her shoulders as her knees dug into her arms to hold them at her sides. “You’re just like the rest of them! Destroying anything you consider beneath you.”

 

Shaking her head, Orange squeezed her eyes shut as tears poured down her face, a sob racking her body as Pearl’s fingers dug harshly into her skin, “I didn’t mean to. I never meant to hurt you!”

 

“And now I’m dead. What about the others? The other pearls? The Diamonds? How long before you break them too?”

 

“I would never- Pearl, you were my best friend! I’m sorry! I’m so sorry I hurt you!” Orange opened her eyes to meet Pearl’s, anger and malice she had never seen twisted her features.

 

“Maybe...” Pearl released one of her shoulders, but try as she might Orange could not throw her off or grab her arm to stop her as she traced a finger over the gem on her chest, “maybe I should shatter you too, before you hurt anyone else.”

 

“No, don’t! Pearl-“ Orange’s jaw fell open, no words left her lips except the shrill gasp of a strangled scream. She couldn’t breath as she felt her Pearl grab at her gem, her nimble fingers and crazy strength coming together to tighten around the raised portions of her gem. Pain radiated from her gem, spreading across her chest and tightening her throat, her limbs were starting to go numb as she applied greater pressure to her gem until fragmented lines cracked across the reflective surface, starting to chip into pieces where the jagged lines crisscrossed over each other. 

 

“Goodbye, Orange Diamond.”

 

“Don’t!” Orange found herself screaming out as she forcefully sat up, nearly rolling herself out of the bed in one singular motion. She gasped for air, her lungs burning as tears and sweat ran down her cheeks, her eyes wide as they searched the room, but Pearl was no where in sight. A sob wrenched from her lips before she could even think to stop it, starting her into a string of strangled whimpers and tears, her fingers digging into the sheets beneath her. 

 

“Pearl! Pearl...” her shoulders shook as she cried harder, her hands moved to cover her eyes but all she could see behind her eyelids were those dull, blue-gray eyes that conveyed so much hatred for her, it made her breath hitch in her throat. When she forced her eyes open in an attempt to rid herself of the haunting image, she looked to see the bed, the one she and Pearl had spent so much time talking on, bonding. The one Pearl had pushed her out of and then attempted to shatter her in the most painful way possible. Orange slipped her legs off the side of the bed, launching herself to her feet before stumbling on wobbly legs and falling to her hands and knees. The familiar square bed behind her, the white tiles that showed the reflection of her as she knelt on the floor in tears, and the open wall of windows, the darkened view of the city. All too painfully familiar.

 

Forcing her sore body to cooperate, she jumped to her feet and bolted for the door, slamming her hand down on the scanner and dashing through the doors as soon as they had slid open wide enough for her to fit through. She didn’t stop for the guards on the other side, who yelled for the diamond to wait, or for them to catch up as they gave chase. She turned corner after corner, easily losing the two bulkier gems through her ample knowledge of White’s ship’s layout, and her body that was running on what must have been obscene levels of adrenaline.

 

Dashing down another clear hallway that looked vaguely similar to the rest of the halls she had sprinted through, Orange skid to a stop at a door in the middle, hitting the scanner and slipping into the room, leaning heavily against the doors when they shut. Closing her eyes, Orange caught her breath as she listened to the noises beyond the door. After a minute of nothing but silence and no guards yelling her name, orange blinked open her eyes, looking around the room. The light in the room was relatively low, perhaps to conserve the power used, the only real light source came from a row of lights built into the floor near the bottom of the wall, and along where it met the ceiling. The ceiling itself was high, but did not look like it would have nearly enough clearance for someone as tall as the other Diamonds. There were many geometric shaped couches near the wall, fluffed and full and covered in a fine material that she would have expected to be seen more on a Pearl to upgrade her appearance, rather than to decorate a couch.

 

This was more than likely a waiting room, set aside for any visiting gems of high status to wait in until they were called to meet with their Diamond. Something that was more common to see in one of the Diamond’s personal buildings instead of their ships, but considering White never left her’s, it must have made sense at the time to have them here. Though it was something Orange had never known White to entertain, but was much more familiar with in Blue’s case, having watched many interactions between Blue and her court's gems without them ever knowing. Ignoring the furniture, Orange moved over to the windows, staring blankly out at the sight of the city below. She had never seen this view from White’s ship, so this must have been to a line of rooms and observatories Orange was unfamiliar with. The skyline was still dark, where it had been day when she was with White. She could remember that feeling, just barely tapping into her powers, could see the wall of heat and energy that she had formed around herself, but had not felt. She could remember seeing the damage to the floor and the smell of melted and charred stone that burned her nose to breath in. And then she was slipping, the floor coming up at her face before that memory stopped. That was when she had started to dream of Pearl.

 

A new set of tears slipped from her eyes, her lip quivering and snot starting to plug up her nose as she tried her best not to cry again, only to fail miserably, breaking down into loud, heavy sobs. She cried until she started dry heaving, an unpleasant feeling that made her only cry harder, which only made her throat tighten worse and her stomach to churn. Falling to her knees, she wrapped a arm around her stomach as she leaned her head down against the cool floor, squeezing her eyes shut as she attempted to calm herself down.

 

Deep breath in.

 

Deep breath out.

 

Repeat.

 

 When she no longer though her stomach might come up her throat, she blinked open her eyes, staring blearily at the hazy reflection of herself in the polished stone. Her eyes looked dull even in the polished surface that left every visible part of her with an extra shine. Dark circles were under her eyes, ones that had been steadily getting worse since the nightmares started. Right now that made her look almost sick and deranged, with her long hair sticking up in so many places, tangled and matted with sweat at the nape of her neck and around her face. She did not look as pale as she last did when she saw her reflection, but she knew she still wasn’t the right color.

 

Taking an extra moment, Orange pulled herself from her hunched position and righted herself enough to turn over and fall onto her butt. Orange sat, folded in on herself as she sat hugging her knees to her chest, staring out the window. She recognized, in the back of her mind through hazy thoughts that White would be angry with her later, or maybe it was her guards that would be punished for allowing her to slip away, but Orange simply wanted to be alone at the moment.

 

Ever since she had accidentally shattered Pearl on Pink’s station, she had attempted to keep her distance from every gem she normally interacted with, least they too meet the same fate. The only time she forced herself to really be near anyone was when White summoned her to start her lessons, and even then she had asked White's Pearl to remain on the far side of the room away from her, which White acquiescence to, if only so they could begin instead of arguing. Not that she and White argued. She and White had a certain understanding, she and her could talk about anything and everything, unless that everything became anything White was either uncomfortable discussing, couldn’t discuss with her, or simply did not want to. 

 

If Orange ever toed a line too much, White would caution her with a tone she recognized before she crossed it. White was open with her, and Orange did not have to try and guess what she could or couldn’t talk with her about, she did not make Orange feel like she was performing for one of Pink’s parties and jumping through hoops. Orange appreciated the open honestly they had, the level of trust White must have placed in her to talk about things the way they did, and tell her honestly when she couldn’t.

 

But today’s lessons, the way White pushed her even when she said she didn’t want to continue, the way she implied Orange was failing not only as a Diamond, but Homeworld as well, hurt. It felt like the dynamic they shared, and she had come to love and rely on, had been shifted completely right from under her feet, leaving her to trip and stumble in a new, unrecognized pattern. And when she hadn’t been able to exactly find her way, White had pushed her through it again. Had forced her to tap into whatever it was inside her that sparked alive when she was pushed too far. It had felt so wrong, like the tug she remembers feeling had become a taut tether around her that was being pulled from her grasp even as she tried to stop it, a burning that scorched her but left no visible marks for her to count off, only a dull ache in her chest and uncomfortably heated skin.

 

She trusted White to help her through this, even if it scared her. But, sitting here alone, Orange only felt tired, and questioned why she should be learning this at all. What if it didn’t work? What if she never managed to control this...awful power. What if she hurt one of the other Diamonds? It seemed smarter to just lock her away, where she couldn’t hurt anyone else. Maybe she could ask to stay in a room like this, so she could at least see the sun rising over Homeworld. Everyone could be safe, and happy, without her.

Chapter Text

She wasn't sure when White’s Pearl had entered the room, but she hadn’t noticed until Pearl had nearly touched her shoulder to get her attention. “My Diamond-“

 

Orange was quick to scoot away as soon as she realized how close she was, her eyes wide with fear and surprise, her teeth clenched together in alarm. “Get away!”

 

From the look on Pearl’s face, she was as surprised by her outburst as Orange was.

 

Surprise quickly morphed into concern, “My Diamond, what’s wrong? Are you okay? The guards were worried when they could not find you and reported your absence immediately.”

 

“Please stay back. I...I don’t want you to end up like her.”

 

It took Pearl only a moment to understand what Orange meant, her eyes softening at the young Diamond’s concern.

 

“Please do not be afraid. You won’t hurt me.”

 

“How would you know? I hurt my pearl. I could hurt you.“

 

“You were angry, you didn’t mean to…Do you want to hurt me?” 

 

Pearl’s voice was small, quiet, and the way she had said it made Orange tense, “of course not! I would never...”

 

“Then why would you think I would end up like her?”

 

“I didn’t mean to do it, I lost control.” Orange looked down at her hands, the smooth Orange skin that showed no sign that it had been the one that had ended the life of someone she had considered to be her best friend. Her own pearl, shattered by someone who she had trusted.

 

“It was an accident. You can not blame yourself for the death of one pearl.”

 

“How can you say that? You're a pearl too.”

 

“I am, and i know where my place is in our society. And i also know not all Pearls are equal, and the loss of one can not be compared to another.”

 

Orange’s eyes narrowed at Pearl and her rather callous words. “I never considered Pearl beneath me. She didn’t deserve to die.”

 

“I never said she did.” Pearl remained silent, even as Orange gave her a surly look and then turn to look out the window, making it obvious she intended to ignore her. With only a brief moment of hesitation, Pearl moved to sit beside Orange on the floor, giving her an arms length between them.

 

Orange was rigid as Pearl sat next to her, the slighter gem sitting with her legs folded opposite to Orange as she stared out to the city below, remaining quiet as she simply sat next to her. She glanced over at her multiple times, the tension never quite leaving her as the quiet stretched on and the longer Pearl remained beside her, unafraid and trusting, the longer Orange was forced to become accustomed to her close proximity.

 

Untouched. She was sitting there and Orange hadn’t shattered her.

 

It was stupid, Orange knew she wouldn’t spontaneously shatter Pearl from her simply sitting there, but it still made her nervous. Scared. The last thing she wanted to do was hurt Pearl,  thispearl.

 

“I haven’t stopped to just look at the city in a long time.” Pearl commented, a smile on her face as her light grey eyes flicked from building to building. 

 

“It's beautiful.” Pearl added when Orange didn’t say anything.

 

Orange looked out the window, seeing the familiar parts of the city she had been, and new ones she had never gotten to go. “It is.”

 

“We should return. White Diamond is the one who sent me to find you.” Pearl stood up, pausing a moment before holding her hand out to Orange. “Allow me to help, my Clarity. You must still be tired.”

 

Orange made no move to take Pearl’s hand, continuing to stare out at the city for a long, quiet moment. “I’m scared, Pearl.”

 

Pearl examined Orange’s face, seeing the off color marks under her eyes, her defensive posture as she turned in on herself. Abandoning her original plan, Pearl knelt back down next to Orange, looking at her directly even though she hadn’t turned to acknowledge her. “Because you can’t control your powers?”

 

“Control them?” Orange’s head snapped in her direction, anger twisting her features that slowly fell away into something much more heartbreak as she spoke, "I don’t even know how to use them! What...what if I shatter someone else? What if I’m arguing with Yellow and I snap and-“

 

“You're afraid you’ll hurt someone else you love.”

 

A rush of air escaped her mouth, like she had been hit in the chest and the wind knocked out of her. “Yes.”

 

“White Diamond is trying to help you so you don’t.” Pearl reasoned.

 

“Is she? 'Cause it seemed a lot more like White was telling me how horrible I was, that i can’t control myself. She’s never…” Orange ducked her head down, resting her chin on her folded arms, her eyes staring down at the floor in front of her, “How disappointed she must be with me. Maybe I deserve the way she’s treating me.”

 

“You believe she is mistreating you for breaking a pearl?” Pearl let out a quiet, humorless chuckle, “Forgive me, my Diamond, but that is just silly.”

 

“You think me killing someone is silly? What if that had been you I lost it on? Then you’d be the one shattered and-and I-“

 

“But it wasn’t, and you can’t change that.” Pearl rebutted. 

 

Orange gave her a blank look, “Was that supposed to make me feel better?”

 

“No, it’s supposed to tell you that you can’t change what happened.” Pearl explained, “You hurt someone you care about, and now you can’t take it back.” 

 

“You sound like you have experience with that.” Orange observed.

 

Pearl turned to look out at the city, pausing to take a long breath and blow it out and then turning back to Orange, “When…when I was serving Pink Diamond, we used to be…I thought we were friends. She was unlike any of the other diamonds, she was kind and considerate, we played and laughed. I had never expected her to be like that when i was given to her, but she surprised me.”

 

“That does sound like Pink. always doing the opposite of the others.”

 

“Pink Diamond never cared to conform to what others thought she should be.” Pearl nodded in agreement, “Even when it potentially hurt those around her.”

 

“Pearl…? Did Pink hurt you?”

 

“That is a long story, and one i would prefer not to talk about at the moment.” Pearl adverted her gaze from Orange’s, “I have gotten off track, what I’m trying to say is this; You can’t change what you did, or what happened, but you can control what you do in the future. You can change how you react to the things that happen to you. You're a diamond, you have that choice, but you act like you have no choice at all.”

 

“You think i’m making a bigger deal out of this than i should.”

 

“I think your allowing yourself to fail, because you don’t believe you deserve to succeed.”

 

“That’s not how that works, Pearl. If i could, i would, but I’m not strong like the others….” Orange stood up, waiting as Pearl did as well, “Let's just return to my room. I'm tired.”

 

“As you wish, my Diamond.”

Chapter Text

“Again.”

 

Orange took a deep breath, fighting the strain of her body as it protested against her continued lesson, simply standing was becoming a challenge. She closed her eyes and concentrated, searching, Orange found that familiar little tug behind her gem. Focusing solely on it, she attempted to force the build up of energy she felt within herself to move outward. Her body took on a bright orange glow, light wiping up from her skin. Her brow creased with her effort, sweat dotting her skin, flushing with the energy that surrounded her. Before she could stop herself, her legs began to wobble, her knees giving out and she fell forward, bracing herself with her hands as the energy dissipated from her form with a low hiss. Orange let out a cry as a jolt of pain ran through her, though she made no mention of it to White.

 

“That’s enough.” White snapped.

 

Orange bowed her head so she did not have to see White’s expression, “I’m sorry. I’m trying, I swear.”

 

“Are you? I expected so much better, Orange Diamond.” White let out an audible sigh, "But I see Pink has influenced you more than I thought.”

 

Orange’s head snapped up to give White a look of confusion, “What?”

 

White’s smile had completely vanished from her face, being instead replaced with downturned lips and narrowed eyes, her displeasure was very evident to Orange, “Until you’ve decided your done playing games, you will remain in your room.”

 

Orange’s eyes widened, “White! Please, I-“

 

“Enough. You have tried my patience enough today. Go.”

 

“I'm…” Orange’s eyes fell down to the floor, tears collecting in her eyes that she did not fight, "yes ma’am.”

 


 

“I have brought you some supplements.” White’s Pearl bowed her head as she placed the small metal tray onto the low table in Orange’s room where she kept a small gem figurine that had been gifted to her and an abandoned diamond pad that kept her lessons and drawings, some of which she had once shown her. Pearl looked towards Orange, who sat at the end of her bed, still ragged looking from her lesson with White, eyes half lidded and her hair a wild mess. “Please. Try to...try to rest.”

 

“White really thinks I’m playing around, doesn’t she?” Orange’s voice was low, quiet, and Pearl wasn’t sure she would have heard her if she hadn’t been waiting for a response of some kind from the young diamond.

 

“Yes.” Pearl responded neutrally,”…Are you?”

 

Orange’s head whipped around to glare at her, “How can you even ask that?” She snapped. “I-” Her voice dropped back down to a low, gravelly tone as her eyes fell to the floor, her anger quickly disappearing, “Ive always been afraid to let everyone down, and now look? I’m trying, but it’s not working.”

 

“Are you trying...or are you holding yourself back? You know you can’t hurt White Diamond, correct?”

 

“She is…she is really strong.” Orange nodded, "But everyone else isn’t like White.”

 

“You have little confidence in the Diamond’s abilities, if you believe you could hurt them too.” Pearl chided.

 

“Don’t you get it!?” Orange’s voice raised for the second time, this time her anger not leaving so quickly as she looked back at Pearl, “There’s more at stake than just the other Diamonds! What about all the other gems in our empire? Do you think they would be safe?”

 

“I was wrong.”

 

“What?” Orange’s eyebrow rose in confusion.

 

“It is not a lack of confidence in your peers, but yourself.” Pearl explained.

 

“Since when were simple Pearls analysts.” Orange snarled.

 

Pearl’s face fell into a neutral expression, giving nothing away to Orange, even as her face morphed into surprise and hurt at her own words. “…If that is all you need, my Diamond, I shall return to my duties.”

 

“Go.” The younger gem turned away from her, hair falling in her face, but Pearl could still see the tears that rolled down her cheeks. "Just…go.”

 

“As you wish.” Pearl gave her a quick diamond salute and then left without another word.

 

“Pearl…Pearl, why’d you have to go?” Orange pulled her legs up onto the bed, burying her face into her knees as she began to sob, “Pink…mom…I need you. I’m sorry I got mad, I don’t...I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.”

 


 

“White, i want to speak with Orange! She isn’t answering her communicator.” Pink’s voice was raised, looking slightly frantic, evident even on the small diamond display.

 

“I’m afraid Orange Diamond won’t be able to talk with anyone at the moment.” White responded lightly, unfazed by Pink’s hysterical tone.

 

“E-excuse me? what does that mean? where is Orange?!”

 

“Do not raise your voice at me, Pink Diamond.” White’s eyes narrowed in warning, “You know better.”

 

“I…I apologize.” Pink leaned back in her chair, taking a deep breath to calm herself, "I just want to speak with Orange. We haven’t talked in a while, and we did not leave things on good terms. I want to check up on her.”

 

“Orange was misbehaving, so she has been sent to think about her actions.”

 

“You did not put her in that isolation tower!” Pink’s eyes were wide and her teeth bared to White, angry and alarmed, "White, Zirconia could die if-“

 

“Orange Diamond is being well taken care of.”White returned Pink’s anger with a bit of her own, "I would never allow something to happen to a fellow diamond, and the fact you would insinuate that is insulting.”

 

“If she’s fine, and she’s not in the isolation tower, than i should be able to talk to her.” Pink did not back down, pointing at White over the conference call screen, “Just what are you accusing her of doing, anyway?”

 

“Orange has not been taking her training as serious as she should, and i don’t believe it is a good idea if you speak with Orange now.”

 

“Not a-? Not a good idea?” Pink echoed in disbelief, "White, you can’t keep me from speaking with my dau-“

 

“I am the head of this Authority, i am eons older than you, i know what it takes to make a gem their best, even when they do not. I have said it would be adverse for you to speak with Orange, and that is final. My word is final.”

 

“If I have to, I'll come to Homeworld-“ Pink’s tone was threatening, eyes narrowed and body leaned forward again, hands clenched into tight fists.

 

“Starlight. Hear me, listen.” Even as White’s voice remained light, Pink could make out the underlying tone, the threat of her own just there out of sight, “You will remain on your Moon base, taking care of your colony while I care for Orange Diamond. If you attempt to interfere, there will be consequences, and you know what those consequences are.”

 

Pink paled, her body going rigid as her mind flashed back to a memory she had long since pushed down. Pink’s eyes fell from White’s, her snarl turning into a deep frown, “I…I understand, White. Please…” she looked back up, her bright eyes shining with unshed tears and pleading, "Please let Orange call me when she is allowed to.”

 

White afforded her a single nod. “Goodbye, Pink Diamond, until we next speak.”

Chapter Text

Pearl paused, glancing over the growing pile of tiny pills on top of the sterile metal plate that was used to keep any impurities from damaging the younger gem’s tablets. There were at least enough there that Pearl could surmise that the guards had delivered the required tablets at least four separate times while she had been unable to, all of them untouched, with the exception of three, one of which she could spot on the floor beside the table. “My Diamond, it has been advised that you don’t skip these supplements. You run the risk of-“

 

“I don’t care.” Orange cut in, her voice low and gravelly from disuse.

 

“My clarity?” she turned her head in Orange’s direction, surprise clear on her face. Orange was sat on the floor at the end of her bed, using it to prop her back up on.

 

“I’m not interested in taking them.” Orange made no attempt to look at her, or even acknowledge her physically.

 

“My…Orange, may I still call you that?” Pearl questioned as she moved towards where she sat, body facing her, but head still turned away from her, eyes looking but not really seeing outside the window she faced.

 

She shrugged. “Sure.”

 

Pearl knelt beside Orange on the tiles, placing the tray she had brought with her beside them on the floor, “Please…you need to take these.” she motioned towards the tablets, “They help you remain stable.”

 

“If I was a real Diamond, I wouldn’t need them.” Orange finally looked at her, and Pearl could clearly see the exhaustion on Orange’s face, the alarming lack of shine to her eyes, and gem, even in the light. "I wouldn’t need White’s instructions on how to control my powers, and I wouldn’t be such a disappointment. Maybe it’s better if i just didn’t-“

 

Orange was cut off as Pearl’s hand made contact with the side of her face, the loud smack echoing in the quiet room. They both remained frozen, Orange blinking in surprise as Pearl’s face morphed from anger to shock to horror, her hand flying up to her mouth as she realized what she has done.

 

“I-I oh my stars, i am so sorry! My Diamond, please forgive me, I didn’t- I don’t know what came over me-“ Pearl leaned forward, hand going up to cup Orange’s jaw to inspect the prominent mark she had left.

 

Orange grabbed Pearl’s hand, holding it away from her face before she could fuss over it more. “It’s alright.” Orange looked Pearl in the eyes, her expression betraying nothing.

 

“You’re-“

 

“Fine.” She reassured, "You didn’t hurt me.”

 

“But your cheek…” Pearl’s eyes flicked back and forth between the mark on her face and Orange’s eyes.

 

“It’s nothing. I’m not upset, so don’t look so…” Orange’s eyebrows knitted together, her lips dropping into a small frown, “Please don’t look at me like your scared.”

 

“I’m sorry, My Diamond,” She quickly amend, “Orange.” Pearl waited until Orange let go of her hand, her hand lingering in the air a moment before falling into her lap with the other. She glanced at the small tray she had brought over with her and set aside, "Please take these.”

 

“Why? What’s the point?”

 

“Because…” Pearl’s voice only faltered for a moment before she forced herself to say, “because if you don’t, you could die.”

 

“That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.” Orange’s lips curved into a sombre smile as she looked away from Pearl’s alarmed expression, “I won’t be such a burden then.”

 

“You are not a burden!”

 

“I am.” Orange nodded, as if confirming her own words, turning to look at Pearl from the corners of her eyes, “I’m a burden on the other Diamonds.”

 

“How could you think such a thing? They love you.”

 

“They could have so much more time if they didn’t have to constantly look after me.” Unshed tears made Orange’s eyes shimmer in the natural light of the room, “Yellow could get her work done and she won’t have to take time to make me lessons, Pink can focus on her Earth, and Blue wouldn’t have to cater to my wishes like she does…and White wouldn’t have to be so disappointed in me.”

 

“No one is disappointed in you,” Pearl reached forward, taking Orange’s hand and clasping it between both of hers, giving it a comforting squeeze, "least of all White Diamond.”

 

“You were there when she sent me to my room.” Orange gave her a questioning looking, "Did you not hear what she said?”

 

“I heard,” Pearl nodded, "and I have served my Diamond for centuries. I know how she is, how she thinks, and I know she is not truly disappointed in you.”

 

“Then what would you call that?”

 

“Disappointment in her own ability to help you.”

 

Orange’s shoulders fell, her eyebrows turning up as her lips curved into a frown, “That’s even worse. It’s not White’s fault I can’t make my powers work.”

 

“No, but she fears what will happen if she can’t. My diamond does not accept failure easily.”

 

“Then it would be better if she didn’t have to continue to try.” Orange looked down at their hands, watching as Pearl’s fingers tightened reflexively around her own, “She can’t fail if I'm not there.”

 

“Orange…where has this come from? I’ve never know you to be so…” Pearl paused, as if she was unsure what to call Orange’s current attitude, "despondent.”

 

“Maybe I’m just coming to terms with myself, finally.” Orange shrugged, “That I’m not the being everyone has tried to build me up to be.”

 

“No, you’re Orange Diamond.” Pearl was quick to respond, "And the Orange Diamond I know has the self confidence to rival an Aquamarine.”

 

Orange blinked, as if she expected her to say something else entirely, “…did you really just compare me to one of them?”

 

“Do you have a problem with that?” Pearl challenged.

 

“I…” Orange’s chuckled softly, giving Pearl a small smile, “I see what you're trying to do. And thank you, but that doesn’t change anything. I’m still just me.”

 

“And that has never been a bad thing. No one has ever asked you to be anyone but you.”

 

“Of course they have.” the muscles in Orange’s jaw tightened as her lips thinned, the amusement she previously had leaving her face, “The me who loves watching sunrises on Homeworld, and seeing the Demantoids dance, and who loves piloting the war ships between drops doesn’t have a place amongst the Diamond Authority.” Orange’s voice was bitter, showing more and more of her resentment as she spoke, “You have to be strong, don’t show such emotion, be fair, don’t be so cruel, no Orange, don’t socialize with those gems, its unbecoming of a diamond to be seen playingwith them.” Orange’s face contorted with anger as she continued through things she had been told, things she had obviously been holding in and Pearl allowed her to continue uninterrupted. “Orange, why can’t you figure this out?Orange, its time to grow up, Orange, control yourself.”

 

Orange’s voice cut off abruptly, her mouth closing, the muscles in her jaw visibly twitching under the strain of her clenching her teeth, taking a deep breath through her nose. “Whatever i do, it's wrong. It’s only when i do something i think they want me to do, act how they act, that i get praise for my effort. They place me on this pedestal with a plaque listing of all the thing i'm supposed to be, and now that I’ve stumbled, Im wrong. A disappointment.”

 

“Orange…” Pearl’s eyes fell closed, remaining quiet for a moment as she gathered her thoughts, “you are under so much pressure, you’re cracking, and you think no one is noticing. That no one cares.”

 

“Because no one does.”

 

Pearl reached up, grasping Orange’s chin and turning her head so she was looking directly at her. “I do.”

 

Orange’s eyes flicked back and forth, looking over Pearl’s face in question, “Why. Why should you care? I’ve been so rude to you.”

 

“Because i know you don’t mean it. Because i know real friends don’t leave when things become tough.”

 

Her eyes shimmered, a tear falling from the corner of her eye, “You still see me as a friend? I didn’t think I had any more of those.”

 

“of course i do.” Pearl smiled, “It is going to take more than a bad attitude to scare me away. I have seen much worse.”

 

“Okay…” Orange drew in a deep breath, closing her eyes and giving a small nod to pearl before looking at her again. Her eyes showed just how tired she was, both physically and emotionally, but she squeezed Pearl’s hand all the same and asked, “Okay. What do I do, Pearl? How do i make this better?”

 

“First, you start by taking your supplements.”

 

Orange laughed, a real laugh that had her shaking lightly in her mirth, “Seriously?”

 

“You are already so off color.” Pearl placed a hand against Orange’s cheek, the pale pallor of her skin becoming much more prominent against her dark gloves, "This scares me.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Do not apologize. Never apologize for feeling...less than yourself. You are under a lot of pressure, and change, and you have lost someone you love, and you feel like no one understands or cares.”

 

Orange’s head cocked to the side in question, eyes trying to find some answer on her face, “How do you know all these things, Pearl?”

 

“Because I have experienced similar things myself.” Pearl answered softly.

 

“What did Pink do to you?” Orange asked just as softly, regretting it when Pearl’s head ducked, her eyes looking away from her own.

 

“Forgive me, but I’m not...I’m not comfortable discussing that.”

 

“It’s okay…” Orange gave her hand another squeeze that Pearl responded with her own, raising her head to return a small smile, "I guess it’s a shared experience then.”

 

“Heh, yes, perhaps.”

 

“Do you have time to sit with me a little while longer?”

 

“My Diamond has afforded me time to see to your needs. So yes.” Orange released Pearl’s hand, waiting as she turned from her kneeling position to take up the spot next to her by crossing her legs as she sat on the floor with her.

 

Orange raised an eyebrow at Pearl, a questioning look on her face, “How does she know your not off gossiping with the guards instead of being here?”

 

Pearl’s smile was light, amused, “If I was doing that, White Diamond would know.”

 

“But how? Does she have people reporting what they see all around the ship?”

 

“Something to that effect, yes.”

 

“Ahh…” Orange nodded, realization washing over her face, "so that’s how you were able to find me before.”

 

“Yes. You may be able to lose your guards, but you can not really hide when your here.” Pearl revealed.

 

Orange’s lips turned down, looking somewhat disturbed by this news, “That’s creepy…but good to know.”

 

“Here” Pearl held out the tablets to Orange, who took them and slowly began to crunch them one by one between her teeth. “I've wondered, what do those taste like?”

 

Orange offered the plate back to her, “You could try one.”

 

Pearl’s turned up her nose, disgust on her face, “No thank you. A description will be fine.”

 

“Eh. Honestly?” Orange popped another into her mouth, taking a moment to consider it, “they taste like I’m consuming processed chalk.”

 

“Thats…disgusting.”

 

“It is. I find eating them disgusting,” the young diamond agreed, even as she put another into her mouth, “But I’ve gotten use to it.” Orange popped the last few into her mouth, moving the bits to one side as she spoke to Pearl, “Okay, what now.”

 

“Now, I believe a bath is in order, My Diamond. Forgive me, but you really do look awful.”

 

“Im not aloud to leave my room. White’s orders.” Orange reminded.

 

“It is apart of your care, and i have been ordered to see to it.”

 

“You know, its alarming when you pearls find a work around the orders you have been given. Amazing, and quite ingenious, but alarming.”

 

“I'll take that as a compliment.” Pearl smiled, "Now, I shall go see to it that things are prepared for you. Afterwards, i believe some actual rest is in order. ”

 

Orange looked abashed, “It's not like I haven’t been sleeping because I don’t want to.”

 

“I still have to ask you to try.”

 

Orange ran a hand through her hair, pulling her hand away, looking somewhat disgusted by her own hand, wiping her palm on her tunic as she turned to look at Pearl as she unfolded herself from the floor, “Im still not very clear how all this is supposed to help me with my issues with White.”

 

“Before you can tackle that issue, you should first take the time to take care of yourself.” Pearl offered her hand, and Orange took it, allowing her to help her up, "you will never be able to work on your power’s control if your worn out.”

 

“I suppose you are right. Alright Pearl, I'll follow your lead.”

Chapter Text

 

Pink held up the tiny gem up over her head as she made a whooshing noise, being rewarded with a fit of giggles for her effort, “Oh, you are so adorable, my sweet little Zirconia!”

 

Pink dropped her back down slowly, before pushing her up into the air once more, this time earning a squeal. Lowering her back down, Pink sat Zirconia onto her lap. “You like that, huh? Do you like flying, Zirconia? Maybe we can get you a ship.”

 

Pearl, who had been standing beside Pink’s chair while her Diamond gave her undivided attention to the young hybrid. Pearl was a bit perplexed by the entire situation regarding the hybrid and how Pink had come to decide she would assume the role that a human would to one of their young, despite not being organic herself or having real experience beyond watching similar actions at a distance or very short interactions with these wild organics. But, as much as it was a confusing thing to see, it was clear that it made her diamond happy, and Pearl could not find fault in that. However, Pearl had learned quickly that, as in all things her Diamond did, Pearl would have to caution her with her actions, both for her own safety, and the hybrid's.

 

“My Diamond,” Pearl piped in, “I don’t think Zirconia could pilot a ship, yet.”

 

Pink hummed, glancing over at Pearl, “Maybe you’re right.” She turned back to the babe, returning the wide smile she was being given with one of her own, “Maybe in a few centuries? Can you wait that long?”

 

Pink did not think she could find anything cuter than Zirconia’s toothless and chubby cheeked little smile. Zirconia’s lips rounded as her eye began to wonder from Pink’s face, her little body fidgeting in Pink’s arms to look behind her, and making a grabbing motion at the stone desk.

 

“Hmm?” Pink glanced up at the desk in front of them then back down at her, “Oh, you want to get on my desk?” pausing a moment to consider, Pink nodded, “Well…alright, but be careful.”

 

Gently, Pink lifted Zirconia up onto the desk, seating her in the middle. With a little strain, Zirconia managed to hold herself up with minimal wobble as she looked around, ‘ohhh’ing and giggling at everything she saw from her new point of view.

 

"There. What do you think?” Pink questioned, before turning to look at Pearl, “Pearl, doesn’t she look happy?”

 

“Yes, my Diamond,” Pearl agreed, switching between looking Pink Diamond in the eyes while she talked to her and back to Zirconia as she began crawling around the desk, as they had yet to successfully get her to walk on her own legs yet. “But are you sure it’s a good idea to allow her to be up there?” Pearl asked, turning from Pink back to the little gem, “She could-oh!” Pearl’s eyes widened as she watched Zirconia looking over the edge of the desk in interest, unafraid of how high up she was or what was below. 

 

Pearl was quick to lunge forward just as the young gem took the plunge over, her arms held out in front of her to catch her, "I’ve got her!”

 

“Zirconia!” Pink stood up, helpless to do anything more than watch as Pearl stumbled forward as she caught Zirconia just before she touched the floor, set off by the surprising weight of child before righting herself. 

 

Taking a breath, Pearl walked back to Pink, carefully handing back the stunned child. Pink cradled Zirconia to her chest, “Zirconia, You have to be careful.” she rocked her in her arms, attempting to calm herself down more than Zirconia, who had begun to tug on one of her gloves in interest. Seating them back in her chair, Pink looked up to her Pearl, “Thank you Pearl, for saving her.”

 

“My Diamond, If I may say, I don’t think it’s wise to allow her to go wherever she wants.”

 

“But…” Pink laid Zirconia down on her lap, giving her a small smile as she splayed out on her back, pulling a tuff of her own long hair from her chest to shove into her mouth. "I want to make her happy. I want to help her see and experience the world, not hold her back.”

 

“Yes, but my Diamond, while that is very noble, she’s just a child. One of the small ones, remember?” Pearl reminded gently, a smile coming to her face as Zirconia paused, her hair running over her nose and causing her to let out a loud sneeze, her face looking dazed after. "They don’t operate very well on their own just yet.”

 

“Hmm.” Pink hummed in thought, "But look at that face Pearl.” Pink held up Zirconia to Pearl’s eye level, “Look in her eyes. She’s so intelligent. She knows exactly what she wants, she just doesn’t know how to say it yet.”

 

Pearl blinked in surprised as she focused on Zirconia’s hands, in between her ten little chubby fingers she held onto a small diamond shaped device. “I…My Diamond, she has the diamond communicator.”

 

“Zirconia! Let that go!” Pink was quick to turn Zirconia in her hands, sitting her back down in her lap before gently prying her fingers from it. The little gemling responded by starting to fuss, her lower lip jutting in protest as Pink took her new toy. “How did you even get this?” 

 

Pink turned the device over in her free hand, the other being used to lightly tickle Zirconia’s stomach as a distraction to keep her from breaking out in cries, noting nothing had actually been turned. ”Oh, good.” 

 

“I’ll take that.” Pearl held out her hand, taking the communicator from Pink and slipping it into her gem.

 

Pink sighed, hunching over slightly as she held either side of Zirconia’s pudgy little body, “Let’s not call them, okay? We don’t need Yellow’s ugly, grumpy, face yelling at us, Do we?”

 

Zirconia’s only response was to gurgle, reaching up to run her fingers curiously over Pink’s face.

 

“No,” Pink laughed, “that’s right. We don’t want to do that.”

 

“My Diamond, i believe its time to start on those reports. Blue Diamond will be expecting them soon.”

 

“In a bit.” Pink looked down fondly at Zirconia, lifting her up into her arms, placing her cheek against her own as she sighed contentedly. “Oh, Zirconia, I adore you.”

Chapter Text

Pink lay with Zirconia beside her, the two of them lounging quite comfortably on a large, over stuffed pillow. Pink was on her side, Zirconia tucked up beside her on her back, staring up at her in interest as Pink talked to her.

 

“Come on Zirconia, you can do it.” The older diamond said, exaggerating her mouth movements as she spoke,”Maaah muuuh.”

 

“Nooo.” Zirconia dragged out the word, imitating the way Pink had.

 

“I know you can do it. Come on, Maaahhh”

 

“Nnnaaah!”

 

“That's it,” Pink smiled, “you’re getting there. Maaahhh Muh.”

 

Zirconia’s arm flailed, lightly smacking into Pink’s chest, “No.”

 

“You like that word, don’t you?” Pink smiled softly, running the back of her hand across Zirconia’s cheek. “You’re not going to give into anyone, are you? You’re going to tell everyone just how you feel. ”

 

“Hi!”

 

Pink chuckled, “Hello.”

 

“Hi!”

 

“You're so sweet.” Pink pressed a kiss to Zirconia’s cheek, making her squeal. ”How about we try one more time? Can you say it for me? Maaah muuuh.”

 

Pearl entered the room, a small pink container in her hands, stopping in the doorway as she watched Pink and Zirconia interact. “My Diamond, what are you doing?”

 

“Trying to get Zirconia to say Mama. Come on sweetie. Maaah muuuh.”

 

Instead of continuing with Pink, Zirconia turned her head to look at Pearl as she stepped up to the large pillow, placing the small pink container onto the table beside them. “Hi!” Zirconia mimicked a waving motion Pink had taught her, gaining Pearl’s attention.

 

Pearl looked at her, glancing up at Pink who was watching her reaction to Zirconia’s attention, prompting her to respond with a smile. Looking back at Zirconia, Pearl smiled awkwardly, giving a small wave back to the child, “um, hello.”

 

“Up. up!” 

 

“Okay, okay.” Pink gently grabbed Zirconia under her arms, lifting her into the air as she rolled over onto her back, “Up we go!”

 

Zirconia squealed in delight, laughing as Pink held her in the air over her. 

 

“Hows it look up there?” Pink jokingly questioned, dropping orange onto her stomach before once more raising her into the air. “You like it when mama lifts you up, huh? Whoosh!”

 

“Maaaah!” Zirconia laughed, clapping her hands together briefly until Pink gasped, quickly returning her to her stomach.

 

“Thats it, can you say that again? Mahhhh-”

 

“Mahhh” she mimicked.

 

“That’s it!” Pink sat up, sitting Zirconia onto her lap, crossing her legs to support her,  “Oh, that’s wonderful, Zirconia. Can you say it again? Mama. Can you say it again?”

 

“Maaa! Maaa! Ma ma ma!” Zirconia chanted, spurred on by Pink’s happy response to her action.

 

“Yes! You’re so smart.” Pink picked her up, pulling her into a hug as she laughed happily with Zirconia. “You did it. That’s right, I'm your mama!”

 

“Ma ma ma ma!” Zirconia continued, latching onto Pink as she grinned at her.

 

“My Diamond,” Pearl cut in the moment, her voice quiet and looking at least a little ashamed to have interrupted, “It’s time to give Zirconia her tablet.”

 

Pink smiled at Pearl, not in the least bit bothered, “Okay.” Pink turned her head down to look at Zirconia, her large bright eyes watching her, “Lets get you your food, and then we’ll do something fun. How's that sound?”

 

“Mahhhh.”

 

Pink chuckled, leaning down to drop a kiss into Zirconia’s hair, “I love you.”

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“Here. Do not drop it.” Peridot Facet-4B28 Cut-X9A handed Yellow’s Pearl a black, pressurized cylindrical container, a small holographic shield of the Diamond’s sigil reflected on the top, refusing to let go until Pearl gave a tug to signify she should let go.

 

“What is this?” Pearl questioned, eyeing the container in her hands.

 

“It is for Orange Diamond.” She responded, “it contains tablets that you will have to get her to swallow every three hours.“

 

Pearl’s head snapped up to level X9A with an alarmed expression, “What!? Swallow?”

 

“The gulping thing humans do when they put things into their mouths. Humans call it food. This is her equivalent.”

 

“I know what swallowing is!” she paused before asking, “what's food?”

 

“Food. Nutrients, minerals, and saccharides, everything our young diamond needs to remain healthy. These tablets are compressed versions of powdered forms in concentrate. She is unable to keep down any liquid versions we synthesize. We refer to them as supplements, I suggest you do as well, it’ll be easier when you have to request more be made.” X9A instructed, bringing up a holo-display on her pad, “I am sending you the form for quicker ordering.”

 

“Very well. How am I supposed to get it-her to swallow,” Pearl made a face that was met with a blank look from X9A, “this…supplement?”

 

“Open her mouth gently, and place them on the back of her tongue. She might attempt to chew them if you break them up but it’s just as likely she’ll spit them back out at you because she thinks it’s funny.”

 

Pearl’s face scrunched up as her eyes widened and her mouth formed into a jagged frown,“That’s disgusting.”

 

“She’s young.” X9A responded passively. Pearl questioned just how often this Peridot had been spit on that she no longer seem bothered by the idea.

 

“And?” Pearl’s tone conveyed her confusion, “What does it matter how long ago she was made?”

 

“Never mind. Place them on the back of her tongue, and close her mouth enough that she reflexively swallows. Don’t hold her mouth closed. If you do, you could make her inhale it or choke on it. If she spits it out, retrieve a new one and try again.” X9A did not bother to inform her as she sent a diagram on the process she had described, knowing ahead of time it would be more useful than any description she could give a simple Pearl. "Do not put anything that has made contact with any foreign surfaces that are not the inside of this container, or your hand, into her mouth.”

 

“Why?”

 

X9A looked up from her screen, “You are liable to contaminate the tablets and potentially make her sick.”

 

“This is a lot of work.” Pearl groaned.

 

“Organics of any kind take a lot of care. You are lucky, in that Orange Diamond’s form does not require as much maintenance as one would at Pink Diamond’s zoo.” X9A’s tone turned smug. She knew her work at the Zoo was hard, and that this Pearl had no idea how easy this would be in comparison to her typical day to day. "For much of her time currently, she will be fluctuating between states of being awake and active, a portion of which you will need to stimulate her mind.”

 

“Doing what?” Pearl felt she was asking too many questions, but if she didn’t, and she messed up, it would be her gem on the Diamond’s judgement block.

 

“Anything that requires her to think. You could read to her, or allow her to play with something physically. Simply watch her to insure she doesn’t put it into her mouth, however.”

 

“Gross. You said a portion of her time? What of the other?”

 

“A great portion of her time will be spent in an inactive state of rest. Hold her or lay her down on a soft surface. So far as we can tell, temperature does not bother her, but do not leave her alone for long. We generally monitor the young constantly in the Zoo, so we are aware if something occurs.”

 

“What could possibly occur?” Pearl rolled her eyes.

 

“Death.” X9A deadpanned.

 

Pearl’s eyes widened as she held onto the container in her hands tightly, “My Diamond would kill me!”

 

“Pink Diamond would kill you.” X9A responded evenly, “So I suggest you keep atop this, as best as a Pearl is capable, I suppose.”

 

Pearl narrowed her eyes, holding back her retort. “You said she would be spending this time resting. What does all that involve? Will I need to do something else?” She would get every last bit of information from this Peridot to insure she could preform to her best. She could only imagine how the other Pearls would fare when it was their turn to be instructed as well. Well, however they did, she would be better. No one did better than Yellow Diamond’s subjects.

 

“Eyes closed, respiration slowed, limb movements minimal. Simply holding her will work.  It will be long hours in between waking. Eventually this will reduce as she advances in age until she is as active as you.”

 

“I see. And I’ll be able to work at this time?”

 

“Yes. So long as the surroundings remain quiet and she is undisturbed, you should be fine.”

 

Pearl’s head fell back as she let out a relieved sigh, “Oh thank the stars.”

 

“That should be all the required information you need. Good luck.” X9A said as she closed her screen, looking at Pearl as she straightened up.

 

“I don’t need luck. I am Yellow Diamond’s pearl. I am highly efficient, and this should be easy.” Pearl responded smugly.

 

“Again, good luck.” X9A smirked, "Call us if there are any issues, concerns, or needs.”

 

“No need. I will be able to care for Orange Diamond, now that I am aware of what is required. Thank you, you are no longer needed.”

 

“…” X9A glared at Pearl as she turned to leave her without another word.

 


 

 

 

“Okay. My Diamond, its time to get you to swallow this tablet. No, your clarity, please release my hair. I...please let go-no, don’t tug on my nose. Errg... Okay. Let’s keep our hands to ourselves. I mean, if that pleases you…umm…hmm.” Pearl paused in her efforts to hold Orange’s hands away from her face as she knelt before the youngest Diamond, having offered her seat to her. "You don’t understand a thing I’m saying, do you? Of course you don’t, it’s that stupid organic upbringing those useless Peridots have been teaching you.” Pearl paused again, looking at Orange with fear, as if she expected to be punished for her words but was only met with large orange eyes that stared at her in wonder, and a wide grin, the corner of which was wet with drool.

 

Pearl continued on, renewed in her efforts as she retrieved another tablet that hadn’t been spit out at her. “But you’re a Diamond, so I, Yellow Diamond’s great, amazing Pearl, will aid you…” Pearl pulled out a single tablet. It was no bigger than her thumb nail, and a opaque pink color. Turning back to Orange, she held out the tablet in front of the tiny gem’s mouth, “Would you please open your mouth so that I may administer your energy tablet.“

 

Orange looked down at the tablet in her hand, her face lighting up as her jaw fell in a hardly laugh, that Yellow’s Pearl took advantage of, placing the tablet at the back of her tongue and nudging her chin to slightly close her mouth. Instead of a wet, half mushed pill hitting her face, Pearl’s patience was rewarded as Orange swallowed the tablet, pulling her chin away from Pearl’s hand so she could drop her mouth back open in a loud giggle, gurgling and clapping her hands together.

 

“Yes, that’s it!” Pearl jumped up, her fists in the air in her excitement, "You do understand! You just needed away from those hallow brained clods.” Pearl paused, slapping a hand over her mouth and looking at Orange with large, open eyes, “Oh, forgive my language, your clarity.”

 

Pearl knelt back down to Orange, a large grin spreading over her face, “Just wait until the other Pearls have to do this. They’ll never be so good at it as me. Oh, i mean, it was you doing the work, i just-

 

“Pearl!” Yellow’s voice thundered around the room, her face turned down to look at Pearl with enough anger that she shrunk back, using the chair and Orange as a shield against Yellow’s eyes. "My Diamond! I apologize.”

 

“Just keep it down…” Yellow Diamond grunted, turning back to her screen.

 


 

 

 

Yellow paused in her work, looking from the corners of her eyes to watch as Pearl spoke quietly to Pink’s hybrid. As Yellow suspected, it was a useless thing, and was better off wasting her Pearl’s time than her own. So long as she could hand it over to one of the other Diamonds at the end of her cycle, alive, than she could say she had done her part in taking care of it.

 

Yellow was curious about it, she could admit, but in the way one is curious about the colorful insect that has just scurried across your path, and is an unknown to you. It should be a fleeting curiosity, and not made into a pet, like Pink had done.

 

‘Orange Diamond’, as White has declared it’s name, despite Pink’s assertions of Zirconia at least being used when it is just the Diamonds in It's presence, which for good reason was shot down by White again. 

 

Orange Diamond.

 

Diamond.

 

It was laughable, a bad joke that was so horrible, she could see the amusement in making fun of it. This thing wasn’t a Diamond, and she questioned just how much of it was actually gem. Pink made it quite clear she adored it, and referred to it with some kind of organic term she didn’t understand, but Yellow surmised it was affectionate. Yellow had no interest in using any terms or forms of affection for it. She was pretty sure she could call it any vulgar name and it would laugh, because it didn’t understand a word she spoke. It was ignorant as an organic, and defective as a gem. Waste of resources is what it was. A junk pile, a junk pile Pink had managed to bring to life, but that did not change its nature, or its value in their society. If it had been a gem, it would know its place in it's caste already, It would be set to work. But this thing required even more resources, to consume. A mockery of a gem is what it was. Her cycle’s end would not come soon enough, she knew. At least her Pearl seemed to have educated herself enough to care for it.

 

Yellow had watched that whole spectacle, annoyed and disgusted, though seeing it spit whatever it was Pearl had been trying to put in it’s mouth, only for it to be rocketed out and hit her nose, thatwas amusing. But it simply went to prove Yellow correct even further. Whatever it was that Pearl was attempting to get it to consume was something it needed to live. No Diamond needed something like that. No Diamond needed the things it did. And all of it could be brought to the same conclusion that everyone else had been rejecting, it isn’t a Diamond. Itisn’t a gem at all! And this whole thing was a waste of time, something White was doing to entertain Pink’s wishes once more. White Diamond and her favoritism for Pink, even though Yellow had more colonies than the Blue and Pink, practically ran the Empire’s military herself, and produced the most gems in both quantity and quality. It was ridiculous how much White coddled Pink, even now as she had her own colony to deal with. It made Yellow angry that she was being required to entertain Pink’s ridiculousness as well.

 

“Right, now that that is done, I can…I can’t read to you, Yellow Diamond has requested we remain quiet for her work.” Pearl spoke softly to Pink’s creation, catching Yellow’s attention, "So how about you play…with this?”

 

Pearl placed the spare diamond displays on the ground in front of Orange, amazed when they sparked to life.

 

“Yes, I see you like them. Then, my clarity, if you so choose, you can play with these while I do some work! I’ll be right here.” Pearl seated herself in her own chair, as It began smacking at the displays. Yellow rolled her eyes, turning back to her work.

 

Ridiculous.

 


 

 

 

“Hmmm!? Oh! My diamond, you scared me.” Pearl covered her gem in surprise, turning to look down as Orange smacked her leg. "Is there something the matter? Is there something I…oh, you wish me to lift you up.” Pearl realized as Orange lifted her arms to Pearl in a motion she had learned would get her what she wanted. Pearl leaned over, grabbing Orange under her arms as she proceeded to lift her up.

 

“Right, I can doooo oh stars your heavy- and you're up.” Pearl sighed loudly as she placed Orange on her lap, “Woo. Okay, that peridot said you could be in my lap and I can work while you do that resting thing.”

 

The smaller gem leaned forward to rest her head against Pearl’s stomach as she latched onto her sides, causing Pearl to look at her in surprise, “What are you…oh. You like to cuddle. Okay. Okay, I can do this.” Pearl nodded, hesitant to touch Orange as she grew still against her.

 

“Pearl, what are you making so much noise for?” Yellow turned to look at Pearl, an unamused frown on her face for the second interruption from her in less than an hour.

 

“Oh! Sorry, my Diamond. She’s…” Pearl looked down from Yellow Diamond's gaze to Orange, “Cuddling me.”

 

“I see…” Yellow eyed the none moving hybrid, wondering briefly if it was malfunction with how it stopped moving before waving the thought off, turning back to her work. "keep it down.”

 

“Yes my Diamond.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“Pearl, is my ship ready?”

 

“Yes, my diamond.” Pearl bowed her head, a self-satisfied grin on her face that went unnoticed as it generally did. “Everything is prepared for your departure to Homeworld.”

 

“Good.” Yellow stood up, head bent and eyes never leaving her portable display as she moved towards the doors. “Then we’ll be leaving.”

 

Yellow nearly made it through the doorway before she paused, her Pearl stopping to look up at her, and only catching on when she turned to look behind her towards the far side of the room.

 

On the other side of the room, staring out the glass, her face so close to it that the glass had visible lip impressions and every time she exhaled it fogged up with her breath, was Yellow’s little unwanted ward. Orange was distracted, not paying attention to either of them as she watched various colored gems moving about the facility below. 

 

“Orange,” Yellow grunted, her lips turned down and eyes narrowed at the smaller gem. She made a motion towards the floor in front of her, “Come along.”

 

Instead of the rush Yellow wanted, Orange only turned her head to give Yellow a curious look before turning back to the window.

 

Yellow’s frown deepened, “Pearl,” she barked, “Get her.”

 

“Yes, My Diamond!” Pearl scurried over to grab Orange, struggling as she pulled the child to her feet, even as she fought against Pearl’s efforts. Now that Orange could crawl, Pearl had struggled more and more to keep her in line, made worse as she grew in size and strength. Pearl feared when the young diamond would grow stronger, too strong for her to handle by herself, potientially before she developed enough reason to control herself and listen.

 

Standing her up on her feet, Pearl shuffled to get the younger gem to remain standing with her, Orange attempting to pull her back down with her to the floor as she allowed her weaker legs to give out and curl under her.

 

“Come on, my diamond! Stand up! Blue says you can do it, so why won’t you-“

 

“Pearl!” Yellow Diamond shouted.

 

“She won’t get up, my diamond. she refuses-“

 

“Then makeher,” Yellow interrupted her once more, “She is tiny, and she can’t fight you. Grab her and let's go or I will leave you both here.”

 

Pearl knew it was an empty threat, if she attempted to leave anywhere without Orange Diamond, White Diamond had made it clear that she would be punished, and Pearl wasn’t sure if it had been the fear of White’s retaliation or the possibility of being disciplined herself becoming any kind of public knowledge, but Yellow had yet to allow Orange to be left behind. But empty threat or not, Pearl followed orders, placing an arm under Orange’s legs and lifting her up, her face nearly changing color as she made a dash to keep up with her Diamond’s longer strides. 

 

Mentally cursing the stairs with every foul word she could think of, Pearl hopped down them one by one, for she knew if she tried to take them as she normally did, she and Orange Diamond would go tumbling down them together. Her predicament was only made worse when Orange began trying to pull on the hair that curled onto her cheeks.

 

“My Diamond! please don’t do that, that hurts.”

 

“Mmm mmm” Orange hummed. “No!”

 

“Thats right,” Pearl nodded, shaking her hand loose at the same time, “No.”

 

Ever since Orange had started speaking actual words, all of which consisted of ’No’, ‘Up’ ‘Hi’, and ‘Bye’, once she started, she wouldn’t stop. Pearl had figured out that if she responded to her before she could start repeating, she was generally in the clear.

 

“No!”

 

Pearl groaned as a string of ‘No’s followed behind her until she had finally reached the bottom of the stairs. “Pleaseeeee stop.”

 

“No!”

 

It was only a matter of minutes before Pearl had made it onto Yellow Diamond’s hand ship and was able to put Orange down, collapsing onto the floor in the process. “Why are you so heavy?”

 

“Hi!”

 

“That is not an answer.” Pearl got up to her knees, staring into Orange’s chubby little face, “and your little looks do not effect me like they do Blue or White. Those Pearls may be weak, but i certainly-“

 

Pearl was cut off as Orange wrapped her hand around Pearl’s nose now that it was within reach. 

 

“My Diamond!” Pearl’s voice was even more nasally than normal, “Release me!”

 

“Bye bye.”

 

Pearl frowned, reaching up to pry her fingers from her nose, “Thats not funny! Come on, let go. we have to get to the control room before Yellow Diamond takes off.”

 

“Mmmm” Orange hummed as she finally let go of Pearl, watching as she rubbed at her nose before easily twisting her body until she was on her hands and knees and began crawling towards the nearest hall.

 

“Oh no you don’t!” Pearl was on her feet and chasing after Orange before she could get far, picking her up and holding her against her chest. “We have to go.”

 

“No!”

 

With a lot of effort, and no help from a flailing Orange, Pearl managed to get the both of them to the control room just as Yellow Diamond was pulling down her work screens. 

 

Turning to look over her shoulder, Yellow glanced from Pearl to Orange, and then back to her controls. “Finally. We are leaving, so prepare yourself.” Yellow ordered as she placed her arm onto the platform to her right, a yellow glow incasing up to her upper arm as the ship hummed to life. 

 

In a well practiced maneuver, Pearl pulled Orange along with her until they were behind Yellow’s seat where Pearl could grab onto the side, out of her diamond’s way and so she and the young gem in her arms didn’t go tumbling over into a wall as the ship lurched up and then forward, following Yellow’s hand.

 

Orange, now so close to Yellow, stared up at her, her large eyes focusing solely on her, even as she payed her no mind, keeping her eyes forward and out the rectangular window.

 

“Up!” Orange demanded as she reached towards Yellow with both hands. “Hi! Up!”

 

Pearl immediately tried to get Orange to quiet, letting go of the chair as soon as the ship broke the planet’s atmosphere and had stabilized, holding onto her with both hands. “No no, my diamond. Orange, hey, look at me.”

 

“No! Up! Up!”

 

“Orange, my clarity, please shush. You're going to get us in trouble.”

 

“Bye!” orange looked at Pearl, her little eyebrows turned down as she frowned at her, “Bye! Up!”

 

“Yellow Diamond is busy,” Pearl tried to reason, “and we wouldn’t want to bother her-“

 

“No.” Orange slapped her hand against Pearl’s face, earning a startled “Eep!”

 

“No.” Orange repeated, “Up!”

 

“I get it, you want to go up. But you can’t.” Pearl tried again.

 

“UP!” Orange screeched, flailing in Pearl’s arms as she reached towards Yellow again.

 

“Pearl! What is all that commotion about?” Yellow turned to look at them over her shoulder, glaring at both of them.

 

“i apologize my diamond, it’s Orange Diamond,”Pearl glanced down at the gem in her arms as she nearly managed to slip out of her hands as her shirt began to ride up while she thrashed about, “she won’t stop-“

 

“Up! up! up!”

 

“That.” Pearl grunted.

 

Yellow rolled her eyes, reaching over her arm encased in the holographic light, “Hand her over.”

 

Pearl gawked, so surprised she had nearly let Orange slip from her grip when she doubled her efforts when Yellow’s hand had settled in front of them. “My diamond? are you sure, i can-“

 

“Enough, Pearl. You obviously can’t control her, and I will not hear this nonsense for the rest of the trip.”

 

Pearl remained silent as she gently placed Orange into Yellow’s open palm, who curled her fingers protectively over her and then proceeded to drop her onto her lap.

 

“There, now remain quiet.” Yellow ordered. She was surprised when Orange seemed to be listening, as she remained quiet and still in her lap. However, as much as Yellow wanted to call it good and leave it at that, having her constantly looking up at her was becoming unnerving. Narrowing her eyes down at Orange, Yellow asked, “What? What do you want now?

 

“Hi.” Orange responded immediately, a smile spreading on her face now that Yellow was looking at her.

 

“Hello. Now stop staring.” She grunted, turning back to the window, inspecting her surrounding as millions of stars passed by her view, tiny little lights zooming out of her sight almost before she could see them. It was normally a sight that kept the youngest gem entertained. How fortunateshe had decided to turn her attention to her today.

 

“Up.”

 

Yellow turned back to Orange, “What?” 

 

“Up,” Orange motioned with her hands, as if for needed emphasis, “Up!”

 

“Absolutely not. You’re lucky to be sitting in my lap, and only then is it because i do not want to hear your crying the whole way.” Yellow paused then groaned, slapping her free hand over her eyes. “Look at me, talking to you as if you understand a single thing i say. You seem to have Blue and Pink wrapped around your fingers, and they treat you like you’re something special, but what are you really?” Yellow paused again, her annoyance falling into a blank stare at Orange, “This is a one sided conversation. Im talking to you like your actually intelligent enough to understand that. Your losing it Yellow. Get a grip.”

 

Pearl remained wisely silent through this whole ordeal, pointedly not looking in her Diamond’s direction, though she could barely contain the amused grin that wanted to spread on her face.

 

“Up,” Orange repeated when it became evident that Yellow was determined to ignore her. “Up. Up!”

 

Orange began to bounce, attempting to use Yellow’s front as support as she began to stand up, slapping at Yellow’s stomach. “Up!”

 

“Stop that.” Yellow instructed, placing her hand under Orange and making her fall back onto her butt.

 

Orange’s eyes narrowed at Yellow as she looked down at her, which Yellow mimicked, “Don’t give me that look. Sit there and be quiet. We’ll be on Homeworld shortly enough and then you can go to Blue.”

 

“No!” Orange pouted.

 

The elder diamond rolled her eyes, looking away from Orange again. “Learn something new while your away, if you can. im getting tired of the same four words.”

 

“Up!” Orange proceeded to try once more to stand up using Yellow as support, using her legs to bounce up when she couldn’t quite straighten up by herself. “lo up! ‘lo up!” 

 

“Shush.”

 

“‘Lo up!” Orange bounced, losing her balance and stumbling back. Without anything to grab onto, if it hadn’t been for Yellow’s quick reflexes, Orange would have tumbled backwards off her leg and onto the floor. Orange grabbed onto Yellow’s hand with all her might, her eyes widened in surprise at the feeling of falling and then being stopped. Yellow brought her back to her, sitting her back on her thigh.

 

“Stop moving. You’re going to fall, and maybe next time I won’t catch you. Perhaps you’ll learn your lesson.”

 

“‘lo…lo!”

 

Yellow sighed at the repeated noises, pinching the bridge of her nose in exasperation, “What are you trying to say, Orange? Low?”

 

“‘ello”

 

Yellow’s eyes blinked open, turning sharply down to look at Orange. “What?”

 

“‘lo! ’ello!”

 

“Are…are you trying to say Yellow?”

 

“Hi! ‘Ello!”

 

Yellow blinked again, unsure she had actually heard that correctly. she leaned down to look Orange in the eyes directly, “Yellow.”

 

“‘ello.”

 

“Yel-oh.”

 

“‘ellllllllo.”

 

Yellow cocked her head to the side, an eyebrow raised at Orange before she shrugged. “I'll take it.”

 

“‘Ello! Up!”

 

“Only because you asked, if in a grammatically incorrect manner, but i see you are at least trying.” Yellow picked Orange up in her palm, bringing her up to hold against her chest where she pressed her cheek against her, turning her head to look up at Yellow with bright, happy eyes. “Look at me, speaking to you again like you actually know what I’m saying.”

 

“‘ello. Hi.”

 

“Shhh.” 

Chapter Text

 

 

Pearl waited until she was sure Orange Diamond wouldn’t be waking up any time soon before she slipped out the doors to her quarters. Orange had insisted it was no longer just hers, and as much as Pearl appreciated the sentiment, Pearl did not believe she would ever be able to think of a room belonging to a Diamond as hers. As normal, there were only two amethyst guards outside. They had been brought up straight from the Prime kindergarten and given the privilege to guard and escort Orange for the duration of her stay here at Pink Diamond’s moon Base, hand picked by Pink herself. 

 

Pearl was made aware of Orange’s personal history with Amethyst guards by her fellow Pearls, and as a result she had been keeping an eye on them, but so far they had met her standard of gem that should be allowed near her Diamond.

 

The Earth Moon Base was quiet and oddly still. Pink Diamond did not seem to enjoy employing many gems in her base as the other Diamond’s did, and Pearl had at first considered this odd, but had grown accustomed to the natural tranquility of the base. Pink Diamond was much less strict with her court and its subjects, and it showed in her gem’s laid back nature, though Pearl would never say her choice of command style lead to sloppy gems, simply that the feel of everyone felt less tense, especially when compared with the other Diamond’s bases.

 

Perhaps that is what allowed Pearl to decide to leave Orange’s room when she knew the base would be its most subdued. It also made her confident she would not run into anyone, least of all anyone of importance, as she made her way up to Pink Diamond’s command room.

 

As she had thought, no guards remained in the observation room, and ascending the stairs, she met no resistance by any other gems. When she got to the top, the way inside was sealed off by a simple door that opened at her prompting. Pearl entered the Command room, taking a moment to look around. As she expected, neither Pink nor her Pearl were inside. At this time, Pink would be retired to her own chambers, and her Pearl would obviously be with her. Taking the last steps, Pearl glanced behind her as the door closed, giving her the reassurance she was alone and could not be seen. 

 


 

 

 

“Really Pearl, It’s okay, wait here. I'm just going for a walk. Please.” Pink glanced down at Pearl as she nervously escorted her Diamond to the doorway of her room. Pink Diamond had insisted on having just a little time to herself, which she knew Pearl was reluctant to give because that meant she had to leave her side, and she fretted something could happen. Which, Pink had assured her, once again, and questioned just what she thought would happen with her going for a walk in her own moon base.

 

“If you are sure, my Diamond. I…I will just,” Pearl looked around the room, “Wait…here.” Pearl stopped just beside the doorway as Pink stepped out.

 

“Thank you!” Pink’s overly happy tone fell into a deep sigh as the doors closed, leaving just her standing in the hallway. She had dismissed the guards that had followed them as soon as they had arrived at her room, to give them time to themselves, and now thats all Pink really wanted too. She adored Pearl, but sometimes Pink just wanted room to breath and collect herself after a long day. A day made a little longer with Zirconia there.

 

Pink was so happy to have Zirconia back with her. Things may not have been as perfect as they had once been, but she would never call a day spent with her a bad one, no matter how moody her little gem could get. Pink missed the days when Zirconia and she would just snuggle up on one of the overly fluffy pillows, Zirconia sleeping as Pink held her. Now a little older, Zirconia was growing into her own gem, who wanted her own room, and her own space to be, and was embarrassed to be given long hugs from her mother. She was growing up, and Pink could admit she missed that baby who could not stand to be separated from her, and had pitched a fit the first time she had been forced to give her over to Blue Diamond for her very first time away from her.

 

As a Diamond, and as a mother, Pink had to remind herself that she had once longed for that respect and understanding from her fellow diamonds that Orange was now starting to show signs of wanting. Pink, no matter how much she longed for her little baby to stay a baby, she knew she would have to let go eventually.

 

Stepping onto the raised platform of the observation room, Pink smiled as she ran her hand over the orb that floated there. Just hours before, she and Zirconia had spent some time together watching a recording from Homeworld that Zirconia had brought just for her to see. It was of a dance she had talked Blue into taking her to see in secret, featuring one of her favorite troupes. Looking up, Pink could see the stairs that lined the wall as it wound up, heading towards her command room. It had the best view of Earth, and would be the best place to have a moment to breath where she knew she wouldn’t be disturbed.

 

Taking the stairs, which she realized, was a lot easier for her than it must have been for the smaller gems, especially as she took them two by two naturally. In no time at all, Pink was reaching up to touch the little sigil that opened and closed the door to her command room, a safety that had been installed before Zirconia had started to walk, after Pearl had wisely pointed out it was likely Zirconia would fall down the stairs when she started moving on her own.

 

Continuing up the final steps, Pink was surprised she wasn’t the only one in the room. Up on upper platform, standing in front of her desk, was Zirconia’s Pearl, but Zirconia was not with her. It was honestly an odd sight to see one without the other nowadays.

 

“Pearl?” Pink called.

 

Pearl was startled by someone calling her name, and she turned around to look at the person who had called for her, surprised to find Pink Diamond there, looking as stunned as Pearl when they met eyes. The superior gem obviously not having expected to find anyone in her command room.

 

Pearl stepped away from the desk and chair so she was facing Pink directly, bowing her head and giving her a diamond salute, “My Diamond. forgive me. I wished to see your colony once more. It truly is only something that could belong to someone like you, your lustrous, most gracious-“

 

“Please, you don’t have to do that.” Pink waved her off, stepping up the stairs to join her on the upper platform.

 

“But-“

 

“Really. i don’t need all the titles.” Pink assured her, stopping to sit on the top step. Taking a moment, Pink looked out the glass to stare at the bright planet before them, before turning to look at Pearl, who had yet to move, and patted the floor next to her. "Would you like to sit with me?”

 

“Your clarity, I shouldn’t,” Pearl shook her head, her hands falling from her salute to make a negative waving motion at the diamond, “it wouldn’t be right.”

 

“Your quite easy going with Zirconia.” Pink commented, a gentle smile on her face, “Do I make you nervous?”

 

“Um…” Pearl looked down, clasping her hands in front of her, a subtle blush coming to her cheeks.

 

“It's alright. Please, come sit.” Pink motioned to the space beside her again, and with a lot of hesitance on her part, Pearl joined her. Together, they sat quietly for a moment, appreciating the view of the planet.

 

Pink was the first to break the silence, “The Earth, its something, isn’t it?”

 

“Your colony is magnificent, my diamond.” Pearl nodded, almost robotically, and Pink could tell this was a platitude she knew well. “It is lucky to have you in charge of its creation. You will bring such life to it.”

 

“Yes…life.”

 

Pearl turned to look at Pink, her eyebrows pinched and her eyes wide, “Have i said something wrong, my diamond? forgive me if I have misspoken or-“

 

“Calm down.” Pink waved her off gently, “its okay.” Taking a moment, Pink took advantage of the odd situation to ask something she had been wanting to know for a long time. ”Zirconia, Orange to you, i suppose, isn’t fond of it, is she?”

 

“My diamond?”

 

Pink looked down at the steps below them, her hands fidgeting together in her lap as her forehead creased when her eyebrows drew together, “Orange doesn’t show it much anymore, but I can tell. She really hates this planet and the humans.”

 

Pearl took a moment to gather her thoughts before she responded to the Diamond beside her, “She doesn’t hate…” Pearl paused, before she started again, "I don’t believe my diamond hates anything.”

 

Pink’s head turned to look at Pearl, surprise and confusion twisting her features, “Huh?”

 

Pearl couldn’t help but give her a small smile as she elaborated, “My Diamond is jealous of it.”

 

“Oh.” Pink breathed out.

 

“She sees it as simply one more thing taking you away from her. My Diamond does…I do not believe she knows how to deal with you having a life outside of her.” Pearl looked down at her hands, her fingers running along her palm in an old habit, "She has never really had to face a time that you were not focused on her. She feels she is being pushed aside for your colony.”

 

Pink’s face dropped, her shoulders slumping as she looked back out at Earth. “And I'm always so busy with it.”

 

“Please, do not be upset with how Orange is dealing with this change. I don’t believe she has ever really been forced to face that sort of reality before.”

 

Pink’s eyes were slightly rounded, her head tilted in curiosity to Pearl, “You called her Orange.”

 

Pearl’s face tinted a shade darker, her mouth falling open as she gasped, “I-! Oh, my diamond, please forgive me, i shouldn’t have been so informal-“

 

“It’s okay.” Pink have her a small smile to calm her down, “I like informal.”

 

Pearl’s head tilted down, not meeting Pink’s eyes even as she smiled, “So does Orange. It is a new experience, to serve someone who does not expect such strict standards of her subjects.”

 

Pink giggled, “You don’t seem it at first, looking at you when your with her, but you're a very nervous person, aren’t you? You never seem to show it when Orange is around.”

 

“My diamond…Orange, allows me to be me. At first, she struggled with my presence, trying to find a balance between being my owner, and trying to be considerate of myself. It was not an easy transition for her.”

 

“What was the outcome?”

 

“Orange decided she would treat me like a friend.” Pearl sounded amazed even to her own ears. Turning to look at Pink Diamond’s reaction to the news, Pearl was surprised to find the content expression on her face.

 

“I’m glad Orange has been kind to you. I…worried how she might be with you. She follows the other diamond’s example, and I feared she might be quite harsh on you.”

 

“My Diamond is more than i could ever have expected, and does more for me than i could ever ask to be given. Being with Orange Diamond is nothing like when I served White Diamond. I feel…” Pearl chuckled, “I am given the freedom to feel whatever i want.”

 

“And Pearls aren’t supposed to feel anything but what their owners tell them to feel.”

 

Pearl’s smile dropped as she turned to Pink, her face conveying panic and alarm, “I…I hope i am not…please, if you are angry with Orange Diamond, it is my fault-“

 

“It’s okay.” Pink placed a hand on her shoulder, "Please. You don’t need to worry. I'm not upset, quite the opposite.” Pink paused a moment as Pearl settled down, “You were going to take the punishment for Orange, if i had been angry? That’s very noble of you. You seem very loyal to her.”

 

"I am...I am loyal to my Diamond. I know Pearls are supposed to be to their owners, but...”

 

A knowing smile spread over Pink’s face, “You care for Orange more than you think you should.”

 

“She has...she has this way of inspiring you. It’s not always there, but she has this confidence, and a way about her. I can not help but want to follow her, and be there for her. I would do whatever I had to to keep her safe. I know I'm just a pearl, but if there is anyway i can help her, i will.”

 

“You believe someone would hurt her?”

 

“I believe their are horrible people in the world, and they would see the best of us taken away.”

 

“Is…” Pinked turned to look at Pearl, gripping both of her shoulders to turn her to look her in the eyes, her own wide and alarmed, "do you know something, Pearl? Is my Zirconia in danger?”

 

“My Diamond, Orange Diamond is special. She will always be in danger.” Pearl placed a hand over one of Pink’s, "Surely you know that.”

 

“I….” Pink’s hands dropped from Pearl as she leaned back away from her, turning her palms up as she placed them in her lap and stared at them, “It’s funny. When Zirconia was first born, I never thought of her as becoming some amazing diamond. I never even really thought of her as being a gem. She was simply…she was simply my Zirconia. I loved her the moment I set my eyes on her. I could not possibly imagine anyone wanting to hurt her.” Pink turned to look at Pearl, who had been listening aptly to her, “But I was being naive. I’ve brought her into a world that would bring her down for being different.”

 

“My clarity? You’re crying.”

 

“I-“ Pink wiped at her eyes, giving Pearl a small, doleful smile, “I’m sorry, Pearl. This must not have been how you had planned to spend your free time.”

 

“It’s okay.” Pearl returned her smile with one of her own, "This has been…this has been better than what i was originally going to do. I’m glad to know that Orange has someone like you in her life.”

 

Pink chuckled, “That's something I should be saying.”

 

“It seems Orange inspires more than just simple Pearls.” Pearl took a moment to allow Pink to wipe her eyes again before turning to look at the doorway, “I should return to my diamond, before she awakes and i am not there.”

 

“Okay.” Pink nodded, meeting Pearl’s eyes as she stood up in front of her, "Thank you again, Pearl. For everything you do for her.”

 

“It is my pleasure, my diamond.”

 


 

 

 

Upon returning to her Diamond’s room, Pearl stood by the door for a moment, simply watching her rest. Unmoving and silent, except a barely noticeable rise and fall of her chest, and the occasional twitch of her hand or a mumbled word that Pearl couldn’t understand. Approaching the bed, she hesitated to move as Orange began to stir.

 

“Hmmm, Pearl?”

 

Pearl sat on the edge of the bed, leaning over Orange as she blinked through sleepy eyes to look up at her. “Rest, Orange. It's just me.”

 

“'ad a dream.” Orange said, her eyes almost falling closed before she could finish her sentence.

 

“A bad one?”

 

“Mmmm.”

 

Pearl smiled, running a hand through her bangs to brush the hair from her face. “Its okay, I’m here. I’m not going anywhere.”

Chapter Text

Pink sat hunched over her command desk, her head resting in the hallow of her folded arms as tears gathered in her eyes from a mixture of frustration, sadness and anger. Pearl had been next to her through her bouts of extreme emotions, there for her as her most faithful friend, all while she paced back and forth. One moment she was making loud huffing sounds and punching gestures with her hands and then spontaneously breaking into tears in another. Finally, she had just collapsed into her chair and asked Pearl for time alone. Pearl had left reluctantly, and she was sure she was just standing outside the door, but it was enough. At least she wouldn’t see as Pink had another break down.

 

It had been almost two weeks since her call with White Diamond, Zirconia had still not contacted her, and that worried her. She could not entirely trust White’s word, no matter how serious she had looked when Pink had accused her of putting Zirconia in that isolation tower, the same tower she was more than familiar with, and one she would live a happy life to never see the inside of again. Pink’s mind had bounced between rational thinking to paranoid thoughts, as the time since she had begged to speak with her own daughter had dragged on. What if White was lying? What if she hadput her there and Zirconia was currently suffering and Pink had no way of knowing for sure, no way of helping her. Or what if the others were lying to her, keeping Zirconia from her as some kind of ploy to ensure that her Colony was finished. Without Zirconia here, she couldn’t say she had to spend time concentrating on her. What if they had told her she didn’t want to see her again after what happened on her station?

 

Tears sprung to her eyes at the memory, how hurt Zirconia had looked when she had faltered to come to her, to comfort her. Pink had failed to be there for her when she had needed her. It had been Blue who had held her as she cried. Yellow’s offered words, however reluctant they had seemed, that had reassured her. All while Pink had stood there, staring, unsure what to do and feeling like she was a stranger invading a moment she was not welcome to. She felt like she was being pushed out of her own daughter’s life, through her fellow diamond’s actions, and her own inaction.

 

Zirconia was being pulled away from her, and Pink was starting to feel helpless to fight it. After she had gotten her colony, Pink had promised herself she would never allow the others to make her feel so helpless as she had on Homeworld again, and yet here she was. How many times had she felt she couldn’t do anything for Earth, to stop their invasion? To help the rebel gems that simply wanted to live their lives away from Homeworld’s oppressive rule, how she could relate to that same desire. How many times had she felt like she had failed Zirconia because of her choice to help the Earth?

 

Pink had gotten the clear impression Zirconia held distain for Earth, though her Pearl had eventually clarified what was really on the younger gem’s mind, she had made the attempt to refrain from talking about it and the humans as much as she could, not that she could have told her about her time spent as Rose Quartz, the rebel gem that was fighting herself and her colony’s expansion. It was obvious to her that Zirconia was incredibly loyal to Homeworld and her fellow Diamonds, and she would not take easily to her views of how wrong it was that what they were doing to organic lives and their planets was wrong.

 

 

She knew that the more time she spent with the other three, the less they found common ground, the less it was like when she looked at her with such admiration and love. She didn’t even call her mother anymore! She could hardly contain herself when Zirconia started to refer to her as Pink, and only Pink. When had she gone from Mother to just Pink? Just what had the other diamonds done to her? They were changing Zirconia in front of her very eyes and it had taken her this long to even recognize just how deep that change went.

 

 

A pang of guilt hit her and she covered her face with her hands to muffle the sob she couldn’t hold back. She had promised more time with Zirconia, but that time had never really come. The growing rebel group needed her, she needed them, Yellow and Blue refused to listen, and that abomination of a zoo they had made to placate her before was a mockery of what she really wanted. Why couldn’t they just leave this place? Why couldn’t she have just gotten another colony, especially after she had begun to fight Homeworld as Rose Quartz. It should have scared them away, but instead she was pushed to fight harder. It was difficult leading the two lives, even more difficult when Zirconia was here, because she couldn’t just sneak off.

 

It made her question if it all was really worth it. Did the Earth and its organic life matter more to her than her relationship with Zirconia? If she gave all this up, here and now, would she even be able to mend everything that had been broken between them?

 

 

She let out both a sob and yell of frustration, and it came out as a strangled groan, tears soaking her gloves even more.

 

 

The earth needed her, and she adored the humans so much, and from her adoration she had gained her dearest little gem. Why did she now have to pick between them? She slammed her fist into the desk, leaving behind a crack in the stone top.

 

This wasn’t right. She shouldn’t have had to worry about Zirconia’s life when she was on Homeworld. She should have been able to trust the other Diamonds, but she couldn’t, and she shouldn’t have had to choose between her daughter and Earth either. If only she had fought harder to keep Zirconia with her more often. What exactly had they even been telling her? Was this Yellow’s doing? Was she grooming her to be some perfect replica of herself, because Pink didn’t fit into the mold she thought she should? Or was this White? She wouldn’t put it past her, especially after their last talk. First its don’t call her Zirconia, she hasto be addressed as a Diamond, then it's she needsto be taught how to rule and she’s forcefully carted off to Blue and Yellow while she’s stuck here on her moon base. Why hadn’t she fought just a little bit harder for Zirconia? For them? If she had, would she even be leading a rebellion right now? Or would she have considered Zirconia her first priority, and Earth second?

 

So many what ifs, and could haves, and should haves bounced around in her head, weighting down her heart. This was the life she had chosen, this was the consequences of her actions, and she’d have to live with it. Zirconia would have to live with it, never knowing how important the organic lives she was pushed to look down on really were. Never seeing the beauty of the planets even as she stood looking down on them from a moon base.

 

Pink was pulled from her spiraling thoughts as Pearl entered the room, looking rather nervous.

 

“Pearl, i still want to be alone.” Pink winced at the croak in her voice when she spoke.

 

“My Diamond, forgive me, but there has been contact from the rebel groups down on earth.”

 

Pink’s eyebrows knitted together, her eyes still glossy from crying. “Is everything okay?”

 

“There have been Homeworld dropships spotted heading towards the Sky Arena. They have identified themselves to us as reinforcements from Homeworld.”

 

“What?” Pink stood up, wiping her eyes clear, “Reinforcements for what?”

 

“Yellow and Blue Diamond are responding to your continued requests for help. To take the growing Rebel faction down. Yellow Diamond...” pearl paused, her nervous expression morphing into one of concern. “Yellow Diamond has suggested joining her forces with yours to start an attack. She wishes to take the Rebel occupied Arena.”

 

Pink took a breath, a single moment to push her own problems to the back of her mind and settle her heart. In a brief flash of light, where Pink Diamond had once stood was now the smaller figure of a Rose Quartz. “Pearl, signal to the Rebels that want to fight. It’s time we to stop them for good.”

 

“We’re going to fight them? Your own court?”

 

“We have no more options.” The Rose Quartz descended the stairs to join Pearl on the lower platform. Forcing a smile, Pink placed a hand on Pearl’s shoulder, “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Orange sighed as she leaned back in the water, her arms bent behind her to hold onto the side of the wall of the giant bath, her feet kicking lazily in the water. She still could not swim, but Orange did not really harbor any fear of the water itself, perhaps something she could attribute to always having one of the other Diamonds prepared to pluck her from the water should she ever sink below its surface. Now, however, it was just her in the water, as naked as she had been as a babe, and completely alone.

 

Well, with the exception of the two guards that stood just inside the doorway. With a sound from her, they would come running to save her from the water if she needed it, otherwise they would remain as unseen as they could, and it was as much privacy as Orange could ask for at the moment. Pearl had to return to White, saying she had been summoned, though Orange wasn’t sure how she knew that, but she hadn’t exactly pushed for more information than Pearl was willing to give either. She had said she would return to bring her back to her room, as to ensure she followed White’s orders on her continued lockdown.

 

On the way here, Pearl had stopped any gem they came across and had pushed Orange to socialize with them, even if only for a moment, leaving many flustered gems in their wake. It was odd, after having such little interaction with anyone for more than three weeks of almost total isolation, to suddenly have a handful of people to speak with again, but Orange appreciated it. Though, now she was feeling more drained than ever, and was ready for some quiet time of her own, preferably one that didn’t involve her darker thoughts creeping in to ruin it. She never really realized how much she took for granted her freedom to do what she wanted and to freely talk with anyone she pleased, within reason, until White had taken all that away from her.

 

Which brought up the subject of White’s punishment. Orange didn’t know how she was supposed to feel on the matter. It upset her White believed she was messing around, but she also knew White didn’t entirely understand her situation. Orange herself didn’t entirely understand her situation, and wasn’t that the root of her problem? If Orange didn’t even know what was wrong, how could she blame White for what was happening?

 

She did not want to excuse White’s decision to falsely call her behavior bad and to punish her unjustly for it, she knew White was wrong for her choice. She had made what Orange now considered a rash decision, in her frustration of Orange’s situation and as a result it had shaken Orange’s belief of the infallible White Diamond.

 

Orange realized she had done to White exactly what she had recognized the others had done to her. She had not only put White, but all of the diamonds on the highest shelf, and now that shelf had been disturbed. She had felt what it was like to be put up so high and fall. She wasn’t as untouchable as she had once believed, and the other Diamonds weren’t any more immune from failure than she was. They made mistakes, they didn’t know things, and they fought with each other all the time. Orange had always thought they were the best of the best, no one could hope to compare to them. 

 

Where the other Diamond under pressure too? Did they feel what Orange felt, still felt? It was still there, weighing Orange’s heart down, but she didn’t feel like she was baring it all alone now. She didn’t feel like she was at total fault for cracking under the expectation of the others. She was only one gem, and not a very experienced one at that, and yet she had felt she was the odd one out for not knowing, for not being able to do everything the others could. Those gems that had millennia to perfect what they did, and yet it was her that felt at fault when she had not met the expectations placed upon her. She wished White could see it from her perspective, the way her Pearl seemed to.

 

But Orange also wished to understand where White was coming from. White hadn’t done this to her out of malice. Orange didn’t even think White knew how she was feeling, or how she had made Orange feel. She didn’t know what White meant when she had referred to Pink influencing her, but Orange imagined it was connected to something Pearl had commented on before, Pink doing what she wanted, regardless of who it hurt. She knew the elder Diamond could be reckless at times, even saying things she didn’t really mean in the heat of the moment, but she had a hard time believing she could ever purposely hurt someone. But that was before her time, and she didn’t know Pink before then. She could have been a whole other person when she had owned White’s Pearl.

 

The Pink she knew now was incredibly kind, compassionate, perhaps a little naive like her, but with a wisdom of her own that Orange had never really had the awareness to appreciate. She was the diamond that Orange could be freest with. The Pink diamond who had been her most loving caregiver since she had come into this world, the one who had been by her side, and had made sure she was never really alone, either leaving her in her trusted guards care or with her own Pearl. Pink had done what she could to ensure she never had to face the world alone.

 

Orange knew she had never actually had to face anything alone, by herself and completely on her own. She had always had someone there for her, there to help, there to guide, there to do something. The only time she had to do anything alone had been when she had been poofed, and it had just been her and herself. Mimic.

 

Orange nearly vaulted out of the pool, catching the guard’s attention and they must have assumed she was panicking, both of them stumbling over each other in their rush over to help her.

 

“My Diamond!”

 

“My Diamond, are you alright?” They shouted as they ran to meet her at the edge of the pool.

 

“Yes, I’m fine. I’m ready to get out.” Orange responded, stepping out of the water, completely unembarrassed about her nudity. In a flash of light, Orange had produced a set of her clothes on her body, though she could still feel the water that weighted her hair down and that rolled down her neck, wetting the back of her tunic. Turning to the guards, Orange addressed them both, “I’d like to return to my room. If one of you could intercept White’s Pearl to inform her of my return, and the other to escort me and report back to White Diamond that I have followed her orders.”

 

The Carnelian on the right saluted, her counterpart following suit a moment after. “Yes my Diamond.”

 

“At once.” The other said, and departed from them before Orange made to leave herself.

 

Orange and her escort walked in companionable silence as they moved through the mostly deserted halls, the Carnelian guard walking a step and half behind her, out of respect.

 

“Where is everyone?” Orange questioned, slowing so she and her guard where side by side, much to the Carnelian’s obvious discomfort.

 

“They have been called away, my clarity.” She informed, her eyes turned down and away from Orange, suddenly looking much more nervous, “I have been instructed not to talk about why. Forgive me, my Diamond.”

 

Orange took a deep breath, schooling her features. “Another of White’s orders?”

 

Her guard nodded, “Her Pearl informed us of White Diamond’s orders more than a week ago.” She paused to throw up a salute to Orange, who stopped to look at her in question, “I’m sorry-“

 

“It’s alright.” Orange waved her off, turning to continue walking, catching her guard by surprise as she sped up to catch up without actually running in White Diamond’s head ship. “You’re not at fault for doing your job. It’s more admirable that you have listened, instead of trying to appease me. You still belong to White’s court.” Orange continued, looking over her shoulder at her as she caught up.

 

“T-thank you, my Diamond.” A small smile crossed the Quartz’s face, “It is rather easy, since you didn’t seem interested in-! Ahh, that is…” She cut herself off before she could continue, her eyes wide with alarm, afraid she had unintentionally offended her superior.

 

“Speaking with anyone?” Orange offered, smiling as a way to show she hadn’t felt insulted by her guard’s observation.

 

“…Yes. I shouldn’t have said that. I’ve overstepped my bounds.”

 

Orange laughed, “Considering you follow me around so often, I think you might be entitled to a little leeway, 5…PX, right?” Orange questioned, tilting her head as she attempted to recall her designation.

 

“You know who I am?” The Carnelian’s voice held wonder and disbelief, her mouth falling open as she met Orange’s eyes.

 

“I'd like to at least know who’s guarding me, for one.” Orange folded her hands behind her back, feeling more confident than she had in days. Interacting with her guards was something she was more familiar with than the other Diamonds were probably aware of, though now she was starting to wonder if she had come across as uninterested to them for all these years if they didn’t believe she even knew who they were. “And you’re almost always assigned to me when I’m here now. Did you think you went unnoticed?”

 

“I...to expect a gem of your caliber to take notice of a single Carnelian, that would just be ridiculous.”

 

“I remember you were given to me because of your brilliant color, a little more than a century ago, right?” Orange attempted to recall the time frame she had been given her first Carnelian guards, a gift from White Diamond herself. Common Quartz they may be, but the most vibrant she had ever come across had belonged to White’s court, and Orange had been smitten with their gem type almost instantly. “I was always fond of the Carnelians when I was younger, because we shared a brighter color than the others here.”

 

“Stars!” Her escort smacked a hand over her mouth, “You remember when I joined your personal guard?”

 

“I do. I’m sorry it’s taken this long to have an actual one-on-one conversation with you. I’d like make a better effort to know the gems that would give their life in service to me. I can see I should try harder, though.”

 

“It is my privilege to serve you, My Diamond, and an honor you would even recognize me.” The Quartz bowed her head so she didn’t have to stop walking to salute her properly, “And when you have a court of your own, if it is allowed, I hope to be transfer to your service then.”

 

It was Orange’s turn to be surprised, her step faultering before she turned her head from their destination’s direction to 5PX. “You would skip over a permanent station with White Diamond here, to join my court?”

 

“Yes, my Diamond! It would be my honor and privilege to serve under Orange Diamond’s great court.” 5PX grinned.

 

“You’d always be welcome in my court.” Orange found herself saying, the surprise still on her face, “All of my guards would be welcome to join me.” Orange paused, considering what she had said. “Well, if they can get consent from their current Diamonds to do so.”

 

“I’ll let the other guards know!” 5PX laughed, making a smile tug on her superior's face. She stopped to give Orange a real diamond salute, “Whenever you are prepared for that, Orange Diamond, you will have us ready to join you, as your loyal guards and servants.”

 

Orange blinked, she had simply wanted information about the outside, she hadn’t expect the walk back to her room to have become the way she started a fledgling court. Right in the middle of White’s head ship too. She knew White would lovethat. 

 

“Thank you, 5PX. That’s...” Orange breathed out, pausing to collect her thoughts, “that’s flattering that any of you would want to stay by my side. I’d like to have you all in my guard, when I start my real duties as a Diamond.”

 

“We will be ready. Oh, uhh, we are back to your room, my Diamond.” The Quartz held a hand over the back of her head, nervousness making her eyebrows arch up as she looked apologetically at Orange, “I’ll have to, erm, lock the door.”

 

“Don’t worry about it. it’s just your duty.”

 

“Thank you for being understanding, my clarity.”

 

Orange nodded, waiting as she opened the door for her, using the hand pad on her side of the door. Stepping through the doorway, Orange turned back to 5PX, “I need some quiet time, so don’t let anyone but White’s Pearl past here, okay?”

 

“Yes, my Diamond! When 7PX returns, we’ll ensure no one passes these doors.”

 

“Thank you.”

 

Stepping inside fully as the doors closed behind her, and now knowing she was actually locked in, Orange looked around her room with fresh eyes. It was early morning on Homeworld, the sun not even up yet, leaving the lights to dimly illuminate her room. Her bed was made, and there was a new tray of supplements on her table. No doubt Pearl’s doing.

 

Orange didn’t believe she could stomach any more at the moment, so she left it untouched for later. While she had eaten for Pearl, Orange still didn’t feel much motivation to actually consume them, beyond her need to. Perhaps once everything had been sorted out and with a little rest, she would have her appetite back.

 

As it was, She had something else to do before she could even attempt to fall asleep. Since she had come to the realization that she could potientially use Mimic to bounce her problems off of, she had been trying to figure out a means of getting to her.

 

It occurred to her that the last time she had changed, and felt herself grow stronger, it had involved being in her gem, and her little adventure with Mimic. But she had little interest in getting herself poofed simply to try and figure out herself, and instead hoped she might be able to meditate herself into being able to find Mimic again, and see if she knew a solution to her - their? - issues into using the powers she had been having trouble tapping into. Who would know better than her subconscious self?

 

Sighing, Orange stretched her arms over her head, the fatigue in her limbs was more noticeable but dulled after her soak. The supplements may not have improved everything, but the rush of energy coming from her gem was a relief, and made her feel more prepared for her attempt to speak with Mimic.

 

Orange knew what she had to do, but how to go about getting there was a whole other problem. She knew her problems using her powers were stemming from her self doubts regarding her control, and her fear she would end up hurting someone else, but no matter how much she talked herself through it, short of losing herself in bouts of anger, she could not manifest more than some hot air before burning herself out. Whatever issues she was having, she needed to face, and whatever that was, she needed to speak with herself about, and who better to talk it out with than herself? Or rather, Mimic. Orange wasn’t sure what she was doing, or quite looking for, she just knew she had to find a way inside, into her gem, to get to her. A joining of her mind and body, herself at its core.

 

Moving to the bed, she snatched some of the pillows that she kept to fill the now unused side, tossing them onto the floor to create an area for her to sit comfortably on. Plopping down onto them, she took a calming breath.

 

She wasn’t even sure what she was doing, or if it would even work. She had once watched the Moonstones do something similar, falling into meditative states to harmonize with one another, but seeing and doing where two very different things. What would she do if it failed, how would she reach Mimic then? Orange supposed she’d cross that bridge when she got to it. Perhaps Pearl would have a suggestion, she had more than a few millennia on her, and in that time she could have picked up something.

 

Orange took another deep breath, her eyes closing and her arms resting loosely in her lap. Another breath, and she started her attempt to search inward, probing for some kind of opening or joining between her body and gem. When that seemed to drag on with no result, she turned to trying to find the source of her gem’s power, trying to avoid calling on her abilities and instead simply a way inside. When nothing happened, and the feeling of being foolish started to creep in, Orange moved on to a different attempt. Searching her mind, trying to find a feeling or thought that linked her to her subconscious self. She recalled her time with Mimic, how it had felt inside her gem. The dark, creeping and yet stagnant. Mimic’s insistence to remain safe, but they were already so lost. How could they be safe if she couldn’t even see?

 

She felt lost in the choking darkness of her memory before it settled, and she was able to remind herself she wasn’t back there in the dark. She and Mimic had found their way, they had come together, and she had come out stronger for it. She took another deep breath and held it before letting it go. She was starting to feel trapped with her eyes closed and the memory of those feelings of being stuck in the dark just at the back of her mind. It made her tense, and she felt foolish for her physical reaction to it. She knew it was simply making herself frustrated with her lack of results, especially when she had so much riding on its outcome.

 

Orange blinked open her eyes, peering around in the hopes that just maybe she may inexplicably find herself in some vaguely familiar place that she had once visited. She was let down when she looked around and saw a very familiar room, the one she had been in, in White’s head ship. Orange leaned back, using her arms to support herself as she sighed loudly, “I was really hoping that would work.”

 

“Oh Sweetie, thank goodness! You weren’t responding when I called you.” A very familiar voice said behind her, making her jump. 

 

Turning around, Orange’s eyes widened as she had to tilt her head back just to look up at them from her sitting position. “Pink?”

Chapter Text

Orange’s eyes widened as Pink fell to her knees, pulling her into a tight hug as tears glossed her eyes. “Zirconia, I’m so glad you’re okay.” She hesitated a moment, tears rolling off her cheeks and dampening Orange’s hair as she placed a kiss on top of her head before she pulled back. She held her by her shoulders as her eyes flicked up and down briefly, inspecting Orange. “I’ve been so worried since the others told me they sent you to White.”

 

“I…” Orange trailed off, still incredibly confused, but so happy to see her. Orange grabbed onto Pink’s forearms, the feel of her gloves under her fingers a reassurance this wasn’t some kind of illusion. The feel of her was grounding, and Orange found her voice long enough to ask, “Pink, what are you doing here?”

 

“I’ve come to get you.” Pink explained, her hands traveling up to cup Orange’s face, her thumbs wiping at the tears gathering in her daughter's eyes as they stared at one another. “I won’t leave you here. Not with her.” Standing, Pink grabbed one of Orange’s hands to help her up, giving it a small squeeze. ”We have to go.”

 

“What?” Orange’s eyebrows scrunched up, pausing long enough that the older Diamond had to come to a hault least she pull on her arm, turning to look at her in confusion. "Pink, if White finds out-“

 

“That’s why we have to go, now,” Pink tugged on Orange’s hand, urging her to come with her towards the doors, "before she knows. We’re leaving.”

 

Orange pulled her hand from Pink’s before she could stop her, taking a step back, her heels knocking into the pillows behind her. “Leaving? Pink, I can’t leave!”

 

“Yes you can!” Pink came to her, crouching down and taking both of her hands into her own, holding them as she begged her with her eyes to listen, “Orange, we’re going to go somewhere away from all this. Just you, and me, and Pearl. It’s going to be okay.”

 

Orange tensed, “You called me Orange.” 

 

Pink’s eyes briefly widened in surprise before her eyebrows turned up in confusion, “What?”

 

“You never call me Orange when it’s just us.” Orange’s eyes narrowed, tugging her hands away from Pink.

 

“I...oh. I’m just in such a rush.” Pink chuckled, standing up so she was once again taller than Orange, giving her a small smile that Orange was sure was meant to comfort her. “Sweetie, we need to go.” She held out her hand for Orange to take, "We don’t have a lot of time.”

 

Orange stared at her for a long moment, inspecting every detail of the gem in front of her. “No.” Orange’s voice was firm, catching the other gem by surprise. “Pink has never called me that, even when she was angry. You’re not Pink. Get away from me!” Orange pushed Pink with both of her hands, causing her to stubble back, a hurt expression crossed her face as she regained her balance. Orange’s hands balled up, raising in front of her to have something between them, “How dare you take her form. Who are you?”

 

“Really, sweetie?” Pink took a step back towards orange, but stopped when the smaller gem made it clear she would become physical if she continued. Pink held up her hands to Orange to show she meant no harm, “Don’t you know your own mother?”

 

“I know Pink, and you’re not her.” Orange glared, her teeth bared in anger, “Who are you? I’m not going to ask again.”

 

Pink’s head fell back as she sighed dramatically, “So bossy.” Pink straightened up as she put both hands on her hips, her hurt expression dropped as a large grin stretched across her lips, her eyes were horribly striking with equal amounts of amusement and malice. It was a startling expression to see on Pink Diamond’s face, her normally soft features turned sharp and unnaturally harsh. It was an expression more fitting a gladiator taunting their opponent in the arena than on the older Diamond’s face. “You certainly didn’t get that from her. Oh, well, me.” She shrugged, running a hand over her cheek and down her chest before lifting her hand to inspect the back of it approvingly, “I mean, I am still Pink.” She paused again before tilting her head as she conceded, "Partly.”

 

Orange relaxed her stance, her fists falling to her sides. “…we’re not actually in White’s Head Ship, are we?”

 

“You're two for two.” Pink’s lips pursed as she nodded, “Maybe your White’s new favorite for a reason after all, and not just some passed over affection from Pink.” Her cheeks puffed out in annoyance, "Uh, me.”

 

“You can’t even keep your pronouns straight. Is it her, or me? Do you even know?”

 

Pink laughed, “Well, it is hard when you have to take on so many identities. You can really get lost in them.” Pink raised her arms in a full body shrug, walking over to the table that held the figurine and the plate of tablets. Orange’s eyes never left her, watching as she picked up the heavy figure, turning it in her hand to inspect it. “You, me, she, them. Isn’t it all the same, Really?” she turned and held the figure up to Orange, “Do you seriously like this thing? Its hideous.”

 

Orange did not dignify her with an answer, instead crossing her arms and giving the obviously fake Pink an unamused stare. “I’m getting tired of this game.”

 

“Already?” Pink dropped the statue, the figure falling to the floor and breaking into pieces, which Orange glared at her for. “Whoops.”

 

“Do you seriously think this is funny?”

 

“But the games haven’t even gotten to good part!” Pink began to walk leisurely toward Orange, stepping on the statue pieces and crushing it into finer bits under foot. "Don’t be so selfish, Orange. What kind of Diamond are you? You should be more kind to your subjects.”

 

The smaller gem looked around, deciding it might be best to ignore her unwanted guest’s taunts for the moment as she began to think out loud. “Alright. So last time I was in my gem, things were weird, but not like this. Lot more to see than I expected, too.”

 

Pink stopped a few feet from her, a smug smirk twisting her painted lips, “Were you expecting another dark room?”

 

“You know about that? I never told anyone but my Pearl about that, so we are in my mind.” Orange confirmed, looking around the room once more, trying to see if there were any notable differences from what she knew her room on White’s head ship looked like. When she found nothing that jumped out to her, she turned back to Pink, “So that must mean you're just a figment of my subconscious too. I bet if i tried to leave this room, I wouldn’t actually exit into the hallway, would I? Is that what you were planning to do, lead me somewhere?”

 

Pink pouted, crossing her arms to mirror Orange’s stance. “Are you just going to ruin the whole story by guessing what happens? You know, those theories can get out of hand, quick.”

 

“I don’t have to guess. This is my mind.” Orange uncrossed her arms to point at Pink, "I make the rules, so I demand you show who you really are.”

 

“You really think this is yours? You think you have all the power and control here?” Orange was surprised as Pink was engulfed in orange tinged light, shrinking until she took an all too familiar form. Sharp orange eyes glared back at her, “This is mine.”

 

“Mimic!?” Orange took a step forward, momentarily lost in the elation to see who she had been originally hoping to find before she caught herself, reminded that Mimic had just tried to lead her somewhere unknown, using Pink’s form. Not to mention the rather hostile look she was currently giving her.

 

“No.” Mimic frowned, "My name is Zirconia.”

 

Orange blinked, caught off guard. “Excuse me?”

 

“Zirconia.” Mimic repeated, “I’m the real you, the you you ignore. The one you push down because you know if you were anything but Orange Diamond, you’d never be accepted.”

 

Orange’s caution and confusion was quickly replaced with anger at her twin’s accusation. “That’s not true!”

 

“Isn’t it?” Zirconia tilted her head, her eyes challenging Orange to prove her wrong. "If Pink even tries to call you by your name, your realname, she’s shut down. Haven’t you ever questioned why only she calls you that? And only in private?”

 

“I…” Orange hesitated, suddenly feeling very trapped by a conversation she hadn’t planned on having. “it’s because I’m Orange Diamond. I know Pink wanted to call me that, but I’m a Diamond.” Orange reasoned, "She made me as a diamond, and she has to accept that. You have to accept that.”

 

Zirconia’s hand touched the gem on her chest, “I accept I am the product of both organic and gem intervention, brought together and given life. I am Zirconia, and I was made from the love of Pink Diamond.“

 

Orange’s head dropped as she touched her own gem, her eyes closing as the feeling of being reminded that it was solely because of Pink that she even existed placed a weight on her chest.  “You’re right,” Orange nodded, looking back up at Zirconia, “You were made from love. The idea of you was made from love, but you, us, we’re more than just an idea. We’ve become more than that. We’re Orange Diamond now.”

 

“Orange Diamond is a fraud!” Zirconia’s hand cut through the air as if to physically dismiss Orange’s words, “A mask, a facade fashioned by a diamond who couldn’t accept us as we were, someone who claims to love us, but sees us as nothing more than another trophy to put on her shelf.” Zirconia’s lips turned down in a sneer, ”Just another gem she plans to make in the shining image of the perfect cut of gem.”

 

Orange’s shoulders pushed back as she raised her chin up, giving Zirconia a steely look through narrowed eyes. “You mean White.”

 

“Of course!” Zirconia’s voice raised as she began to make flourishes with her hands “Who else, but the amazing, illustrious, luminous, White Diamond!” She bowed mockingly, before standing back up and meeting Orange’s unamused stare, “Who could want for perfection more than the perfect gem herself?”

 

Orange pointed a finger in warning at Zirconia as her other hand balled into a tight fist at her side, “Don’t talk about White like that!”

 

“Why do you stand up for her?” Zirconia’s eyebrows turned up, her head tilted to the side as she gave Orange a questioning look, "Don’t you remember how she made you feel? Don’t you remember…” She paused as she raised her hand and held it toward’s her counterpart, “This?”

 

Orange sucked in a breath as she was suddenly assaulted with a memory, except it wasn’t from her point of view, and instead it was like she was a stranger, watching from the outside as she saw herself and Pearl sitting on the floor in her room.

 

“Because…” Pearl’s voice was quiet, strained with emotion, “Because if you don’t, you could die.”

 

“That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.” Her lips curved into a sombre smile as she looked away from Pearl, unable to bare meeting her eyes,  “I won’t be such a burden then.”

 

Orange grabbed her head as she forced the memory to stop before it could continue, her voice cracking with held back emotion as she yelled, “Don’t use that against me! I didn’t mean that!”

 

“So what you felt isn’t real? Were you making that up for attention? Did you want Pearl to feel sorry for you?” Zirconia chuckled, making a motion towards her own face as she mimicked Orange’s expression from the memory, “I mean, look at that face. Awww. Poor Orange Diamond. So sad. So alone. So misunderstood.”

 

“Shut up!” Orange took a breath to calm herself, pinching the bridge of her nose as she attempted to collect herself. “Why did I think this was a good idea? I thought you could help with our problem, not rub it in my face. What happened to doing things together?”

 

“Together?” Zirconia laughed, her hands clapped together as she nodded in mock approval, “Yes, we’ve certainly done quite a bit together, haven’t we? Like how we got those Amethyst shattered ‘cause they had accidentally hurt us? After all, who was White Diamond going to listen to, her little gemling or two sorry Amethyst and a useless Agate?” She chucked, as if she hold told a funny joke, wiping at a fake tear in her eye, “Woo! You remember how angry White was?”

 

Orange’s eyes widened, the breath being sucked out of her, “I didn’t- I didn’t know any better. I didn’t mean for them to be-“

 

“Or maybe you mean how we manipulated Pearl into dancing with us?” Zirconia began advancing on Orange, taking the moment of her being caught off guard to near her. "‘No one will find out’ That was a nice touch by the way.”

 

“Shut up!” Orange grit her teeth, her fists clenching as she tensed when her twin stopped in front of her, though she made no move to do more than give her a smug grin, “I would never manipulate Pearl!”

 

“No, you much rather just order them around.” Zirconia nodded, making a diamond salute with her arms, “They are just simple servants after all. Made to follow a Diamond’s every command.”

 

“I don’t think like that anymore!”

 

“Or maybe what you mean by together is how we shattered our pearl.” Zirconia’s arms fell, one hand resting on her hip as she met Orange’s large, hurt eyes, completely unaffected as tears began to slip down her cheeks. “Tsk tsk.” She wagged a finger at Orange, "I always knew that anger issue was going to get us in trouble.”

 

“Don’t talk about Pearl!” Orange’s curled fist made contact with Zirconia’s face, causing her to take a step back as her head snapped to the side under the strength of Orange’s strike. Orange’s hand dropped, her eyes narrowed at Zirconia as she continued to look at her from the corners of her eyes.

 

Zirconia’s face slowly turned back to Orange, her head tilting down as she raised her hand to touch the mark on her face, it instantly healing under her fingers as they began to briefly glow a pale orange. When the mark was gone, her hand fell back to her side and she looked back up at Orange, an eyebrow raised and a smug smirk tugging on the corner of her lips, “Did you really just hit yourself? You have more issues than you think.”

 

Orange’s shoulders sagged, her eyebrows snapping together as she gave her twin an imploring look, “Why are you doing this?”

 

Zirconia made a sweeping motion in front of her with her hand, “You wanted to talk out our problems. So I’m just laying everything on the table.”

 

“You’re being an insufferable clod.”

 

“Name calling. Rude.”

 

“Yeah? Then maybe you should stop trying to goad me. We need to figure out our power issues, not picking apart everything we’re ever done.”

 

“Power issue?” Zirconia smirked, her eyebrows turning up in amusement, ”The only one having trouble is you.”

 

Orange’s eyebrows came together, her eyes narrowing, “What?”

 

“I know what I’m doing.” Zirconia pointed at Orange, her other hand returning to her hip as she cocked it to the side, “It’s you that’s out of harmony.” She made a motion towards the air around them, "Can’t you feel that?”

 

“Feel what?” Orange’s voice strained under her growing frustration with the situation.

 

“You're so out of touch with yourself, you can’t even feel your own gem resonating around you. Our powers? Our abilities? We can do so much, but you know so little.” Zirconia gave her a look of pity, "Hard to believe it used to be the other way around. You wanted to see so badly, but now you’re the one that’s blind to it all. What's the excuse this time?”

 

“I’m not willfully ignorant to it. I’m trying to figure it out, I don’t know what to do, that’s why I came to you.” Orange sneered, giving Zirconia a push that knocked her out of her mocking stance, "You were supposed to help, not torment me.”

 

Zirconia was quick to step back towards Orange, her eyes wide and pupils narrowed in anger. “Then let me give you a demonstration of what I can do.” Before Orange could react, she raised her hand, curling into a tight fist that glowed bright, flickering wisps of orange light as she delivered a punch to Orange’s stomach.

 

Orange was sent flying back as the energy around Zirconia’s fist exploded outward. She cried out as the back her legs caught on the side of the bed, sending her tumbling over the other side and leaving her on her back on the floor. She coughed, her hand going to cover her stomach were a sizable hole had been burned into her tunic, the edges of it still glowing as it fizzled out. The skin underneath was blackened, but not horribly damaged. A testament to her counterpart’s control to not have injured her gravely. It had simply been a show of power, and she had wanted Orange to know it. Using the side of the bed to pull herself up, Orange winced at the pain radiating from her abdomen.

 

She coughed again, the feeling of something trying to fight its way up her throat being pushed down as she forcefully swallowed, looking over the side of the bed to Zirconia, who had been using her time stunned by the attack to saunter over to her. “You…you did that?”

 

“That’s right.” Zirconia lifted her hand to inspect it, no mark had been left behind by her use of power, in fact she showed no outward sign it had even strained her to do it. "We’re quite powerful, even for a hybrid. Or maybe hybrids are naturally just powerful. Who knows? There is only just one of us. Well two. You and I.“

 

Orange looked down as her hand glowed, holding her hand over the damaged skin as it healed at a much slower pace than Zirconia had demonstrated. “We’re not separate beings, you know.”

 

“For all our differences, we should be.”

 

Orange pulled her hand away as the glow died down, inspecting the orange skin that could now be seen through the blackened hole in her tunic, though no matter how much she tried, her tunic would not reform. Satisfied with the healing done, she looked up at her twin, standing up so it was simply the bed between them, “I’m Orange Diamond and Zirconia. I’m both of those people, I don’t have to be one or the other.” Orange moved to walk around the bed, Zirconia mimicking her so they could meet at the end. "We can coexist.”

 

“No.” Zirconia gave a small shake of her head, “We can’t.”

 

“Why not?” Orange questioned, searching her eyes for something that wasn’t mocking or sarcastic.

 

“Because the others, Blue, and Yellow, and White, they would never accept that. They wouldn’t want us anymore.” Zirconia reached forward, Orange tensing as she gently covered her gem with her hand, her fingers taking on a pale glow. Orange’s breath caught in her throat at the sudden feeling of dread washing over her, fear and loneliness leaving tears forming in her eyes. “And isn’t that what we fear the most? Not being wanted? Being alone. Abandoned and unloved.”

 

Orange smacked her hand away, the feeling retreating as soon as her touch was gone, making Orange angry as she realized those feelings had been forced upon her by her counterpart. “They love us! They love me. They would never abandon us. And even if they didn’t, we know what being alone is like. We can survive that, too.”

 

“Survive?” Zirconia laughed, a hollow and mocking sound, her amused expression twisting into one of rage, “White made us want to die! She made us feel inadequate! That’s not love!” Orange was surprised when Zirconia grabbed her by her tunic, angry tears forming in her eyes, “Blue and Yellow, they know what White is like, don’t act like you never noticed those looks they would make when White was brought up. They know full well just what she's capable of doing to someone she loves.” Zirconia spat, her lip curled as she let Orange go, her finger coming up to point at Orange, poking it into her chest for emphasis after each question. "But, since they know that, where are they? Are they here? Are they stopping her?”

 

Orange watched, mildly concerned as Zirconia stepped away towards the window. It was at this point Orange realized that there was something wrong with the cityscape of Homeworld beyond them. Instead of the beautiful pink sky, it had run black, no stars in sight to break up the hungry void looming overhead. The buildings and spires Orange normally admired were twisted and broken, crumbling with neglect. In the distance, Orange could see a warship jutting aft out from a building, half of its fingers hung out of the rubble and down the side of the building, limp and scorched, and even from her distance from it she could tell it had long been dead. In the far distance, Orange was confused by the sight of White’s head ship. Weren’t they on White’s head ship? White’s ship glowed, even in the dead city, pure and untouched by the destruction around it, it’s light the only thing not seemingly being consumed by the darkness around it.

 

“Of course they’re not.” Zirconia continued, staring out at the disaster of a broken city, "They’re finally glad we’re out of their hair. Better Orange than us. It was White’s word that kept us around in the first place.” Zirconia turned to Orange as she joined her at the window, her eyes narrowed in anger, "Yellow wanted us to be killed the moment she laid eyes on us! And Blue would have gone right along with it, if Yellow could have worded it right. And, let us not forget, What about Pink? Where’s she? Where’s mommy dearest in all this mess?”

 

Orange pushed Zirconia’s shoulder, returning her angry stare, “Don’t talk about Pink like that either. She loves us. They all love us.”

 

“Love? What you call love, I call a sham. They love us as much as they can use us. The moment we become a bit too much to handle, we’re off. I mean, really?” Zirconia made a motion of moving something back and forth with her hand, "We move between them so often, is it hardly a surprise? It must be like drawing straws for them. Who’s the unfortunate pebble that’s going to have to watch Zirconia next. Oh, wait no.” Zirconia pushed Orange in the chest, “Sorry, Orange Diamond.”

 

“They do love us! Yellow makes sure we’re equipped with all the knowledge we need, she’s the one who made us interested in Homeworld and being a Diamond at all. And she may not always act like it, but she cares about what we want. It’s because of her that we even know how to fly a dropship. And Blue, she makes sure we’re always okay, that we’re happy. She sneaks us in to see the dance troupes, because she knows how much we love it, when the others would call it a waste of time.”

 

Orange paused to take a breath, tears stinging her eyes that she had to wipe away before they blurred her vision.

 

“And White, she may have done something wrong this time, but haven’t we? Isn’t it White that gave us Pearl in the first place? It was White who taught us how to heal things. It was White who let us explore on our own for the first time, White who saw us as a great gem when everyone else had doubts, because she didn’t need some grand display of proof of who were are. And Pink...Pink’s our mother, even if we decided it was best for us to stop calling her that so we could fit in. She gave us the life we have, she did everything she could to make us happy, even when we didn’t deserve it. She, out of everyone, loves us most of all.”

 

Zirconia stared back at Orange, her face was blank and devoid of the same emotions Orange felt after recalling all the things the others had done for her. “Then why hasn’t she come to see us?”

 

Orange’s face twisted, as if she had been physically stuck again. “What?”

 

“It’s because of that colony.” Orange winced as Zirconia turned and punched the glass. It vibrated under her fist, but did not break, much to Orange’s surprise. “We never did turn out human enough for her, did we?” Zirconia stared into the eyes of her own reflection, “That’s what she wanted, wasn’t it? A human with the lifespan of a gem. Her eternal human, to have forever.”

 

“That’s not true either!” Orange grabbed Zirconia’s shoulder, who smack her hand away as she turned back to face her, looking down her nose at Orange.

 

“Isn’t it?” She challenged.

 

“Pink loves us how we are.”

 

“Until you prove just how not so helpless you are. I mean, really, have you seen those humans?” Zirconia’s lip curled in disgust, “So squishy. They fall and they hurt themselves. They need to be protected. But you?” Zirconia pointed at Orange, "What about you? I think, after your little display, she knows it’s not like that anymore. It’s no longer sheneeds to be protected. It’s-“

 

“They need to be protected from her.” Orange finished for her.

 

“Oh,” Zirconia raised an eyebrow, "now who’s reading minds?”

 

“We share a mind. We’re the same person.” Orange turned to the window, eyes flicking over the ruined remains of her home before centering on White’s ship in the distance. "That means we share doubts and opinions too.”

 

“So then you know how much we despise the false sense of care. When you take how we want them all to feel out of the equation, what are we really left with?” Zirconia turned, following Orange’s gaze to white’s ship. "I wonder if any of them actually cared?”

 

“Pink cares.” Orange turned from the window, putting her hand on Zirconia’s shoulder and forcing her to turn and meet her eyes, “Blue, Yellow, they care. It’s the whole reason they sent us to White in the first place. And White didn’t have to help. She offered! And even if all those choices were selfish on their part, I know for a fact Pearl cares. That’s not guessing, she’s said so.”

 

Zirconia offered her a small smile, her eyes showing pity for Orange, “Pearl is just being nice. She feels sorry for us. Who could be more messed up than Pink Diamond’s former Pearl than Pink Diamond daughter? Shared experience indeed.”

 

“That’s not true.” Orange let go of her shoulder, gritting her teeth in frustration, “You just keep twisting things and telling me lies.”

 

“Lies? I’m simply stating everything you believe. Things we know to be true.”

 

Orange was quiet for a long moment, her eyes turning down to the floor, unwilling to meet Zirconia’s until she had given herself a moment to think things through. “Your wrong.”

 

“Excuse me?” Zirconia’s tone picked up in pitch, surprise and irritation coloring her voice.

 

“Those aren’t things I know are true.” Orange looked up to meet Zirconia’s eyes, her head raised as her stare was unwavering, even as Zirconia narrowed her eyes at her. "Those are things I fear. Those are things I have doubts about. But what I know is true, is that I’m loved. Pink chose to make me. She adores me, faults and all. Yellow and Blue choose to help me and care for me. They care what I think and feel. White goes out of her way to talk with me, to help me when i don’t feel I can turn to anyone else without being judged as lesser of a diamond. The pearls, all of them, they care. The things we do together? It’s how we show we care.” Orange reached up and touched her gem, and it lit up under her touch, Zirconia’s mimicking her own a moment later, making Zirconia look down at it then back up at her. “All of them, love me. And I love all of them.

 

“If you're so loved, then what are you doing here? Why are you here?”

 

“I’m here…” Orange paused, before she reached out and gently took Zirconia’s hand, her twin not fighting her as she held it between them, "I’m here because I lost sight of myself. I forgot that in all my self destruction, i can’t just rely on how others think and feel about me. I have to love me too.”

 

Zirconia was quiet, her eyes falling down to look at their hand then back up at Orange, her eyes glossing over with unshed tears. “And do you?”

 

“I…don’t.” Orange’s eyebrows arched up, her own eyes sparkling with emotion at her own truth. "And that’s the problem. I don’t love who I am, and I need to change that. We need change.”

 

“Why?” Zirconia’s voice broke as tears spilled over onto her cheeks, "Why can’t you love me too?”

 

“I do love you.” Orange reached over and took her other hand, holding both of them between them, intertwining there fingers and feeling the connection strengthen between them.  "But you're only one facet of me. And we’ve done a lot.” Orange explained, "Things I haven’t forgiven myself for. Things I regret doing, and things I hate myself for not being able to do. I have limits, and I hate myself for them.”

 

“But we’re so amazing.”

 

“We are amazing.” Orange smiled, tears dripping down her own cheeks as she squeezed her twin’s fingers, “But I’ve been pulling away from you, haven’t I? Trying to turn myself into something I’m not.”

 

“You promised we’d do everything together, but I’ve never felt more alone.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Orange let go of Zirconia’s hands only to pull her to her into a tight hug, Zirconia tucking her chin into her shoulder as Orange held her. "I’m so sorry. Forgive me?”

 

Zirconia gripped the back of Orange’s tunic as she cried. “You abandoned me.”

 

“I did, and I’m so sorry. I thought if I didn’t have to be Zirconia, I could just be Orange Diamond. I could be what they want me to be.”

 

Zirconia’s voice was small and quiet, a complete contrast to her smug and superior attitude from before. “And I just want to be me.”

 

“I know.” Orange pulled away, holding Zirconia at arms length as she tilted her chin down to look at Zirconia’s eyes when she didn’t quite meet hers, "I want to just be me, too.”

 

Zirconia was quiet a moment before she offered her a small smile, reaching up to grab her by the forearms, interlocking herself with Orange. “Pearl likes it when we’re just us. She doesn’t care about the Diamond part.”

 

Orange laughed, grinning at Zirconia. “She’s kind like that.”

 

“Mom likes it too.” Zirconia added, “She sees us tearing apart, but we only push her away when she tries to help.”

 

“I…we, have to work on that.” Orange took a breath to calm the pang of guilt that hit her, making her smile waver. "I can’t do this alone. I thought I could, but I can’t. Will you help me?”

 

“I’ll always be here.” Zirconia returned her smile, letting go to wipe at her eyes. “I’ve just been waiting.”

 

Orange did the same, sniffing to clear her nose. “Why don’t we just sit a while.” She nodded her head towards the pillows that they had kicked around in their earlier commotion, “Just us.”

 

“Get to know us, again?”

 

“Yeah. Let’s bring us back together.” Orange lead the way towards the cushions, kicking some back into place before taking a seat, holding her hand out to Zirconia as she sat next to her, holding her hand and feeling their connection surging. 

 

“It’s been a while.”

 

“So…” Orange started, uncertain, “you're called Zirconia?”

 

“You can keep calling me Mimic if you want.”

 

“No.” Orange shook her head, “You're not a Mimic. You're me, not a copy.”

 

Zirconia nodded her confirmation of Orange words, “But it was easier for you when you considered me that.”

 

“But it’s not just me. We’re in this together, and maybe the easy thing is what's wrong for us. Both of us.”

 

Zirconia looked around the room, seeing the damage they had done from shoving one another around. In their fighting, they had made it all no better than what was outside the window. Her eyes looked out, finding the one pristine thing in their world. “You have to face White again.”

 

“Yeah.” Orange followed her line of sight, considering the outline of the ship against the black skyline, and found it amusing how in all this chaos, it was White's ship that had remained untouched. "But I’m not going alone this time.”

 

Zirconia turned back to Orange, who looked back at her as she did, “Are we still in this together?”

 

“We’ll always be in this together. But, that’s the amazing thing, we have others with us too. We’re not really alone.”

 

She smiled, the corners of her eyes crinkling as she laughed, sounding truly happy to hear that. “Thank you for coming back for me.”

 

“I’m sorry I left at all.” Orange responded.

 

Zirconia was quiet a long moment, enjoying the presence of her counterpart, something she hadn’t had in a long time. Her bright eyes turned down to their hands, intertwined and glowing faintly in the white light of the room. “I can’t wait for the day when you love being you.”

 

“I can’t wait either. I never really was good with being patient, was I?”

 

“That’s why you have me.”

 

Orange was confused when Zirconia looked up at the ceiling, as if she was hearing something Orange wasn’t. “What is it?”

 

Zirconia turned her head back down to Orange, smiling. “It’s time to wake up.”

 

Orange blinked open her eyes, shutting them when the bright light of her room hit her, her face scrunching up as she gave herself a moment to adjust before she fully opened them. She was momentarily confused when she realized she was on her back, her head resting on something quite solid. Craning her neck, Orange was surprised to find her head was resting on Pearl’s lap, who was leaning over her, her eyes larger than normal with worry. “Pearl?”

 

“Orange?” Pearl’s expression morphed into relief with her response, her hands moving to cup Orange’s cheeks. "Are you alright? You weren’t respond to me.”

 

“Yeah.” Orange pulled lightly away from her hold to look down at her gem, touching it as she recalled what had happened. There was no burnt hole in her tunic, and she was surprised by the feeling of energy flowing through her, like something that had previously been blocked had finally been cleared. “Yeah, I’m fine.” Orange leaned back, taking a deep breath as she settled her head back down onto Pearl’s lap, who did not object to her resuming her position there. “I think I'm feeling a lot better now.”

 

Pearl gave her a small smile, brushing the hair from her face. “I imagine so, you seemed to be quite out of it. you obviously needed more rest than you were aware of.” Pearl tapped her shoulder, signaling for her to sit up, ”Let’s get you up off the floor.”

 

“Thank you.” Orange sat up, taking her time to get to her knees, Pearl coming to stand before her and offering her hands to help her up, titling her head back to smile up at Orange when she groaned as she stood to her full height.  “I think it’s time for some actual sleep though, because tomorrow is a big day.”

 

“Oh?” Pearl gave Orange a curious look.

 

“Tomorrow, I’m going to face White.”

Chapter Text

 

 

The doors to White Diamond’s command room slid open, breaking the silence that normally permeated the room. White took her time looking at the large display screens she had up, the blueprints to a building she had ordered to be constructed nearby on one screen, the details from resources needed to the number of workers on another, and on yet another screen were reports from the Morganite overseer who was in charge of ensuring everything went smoothly. Everything for its construction was well underway and she was simply approving any final changes proposed by her head builders. White’s fingers paused over a screen as the intruder neared and she finally adverted her eyes to look down on the gem in question, unsurprised to find it to be none other than her own pearl. 

 

Pearl stopped a few feet in front of her Diamond, her arms bent into a salute as her upper half bowed slightly, her eyes adverted from the luminous brightness that was White Diamond. “My Diamond, Orange Diamond has sent me to request restarting her training.”

 

“Oh? So she’s decided, has she?” White was quiet a moment, staring off into the distance in thought before making a sweeping motion with her hand, causing the screens to disappear. "Bring her here, Pearl.”

 

Pearl took a breath, her eyes falling closed. “At once, My diamond.”

 


 

 

 

“Are you sure about this?” Pearl fidgeted as Orange swallowed another tablet whole, looking much more at ease than she thought she should be. “Orange, please. I-You need to be careful. If you anger White Diamond any further-“

 

“It's okay, Pearl.” Orange set the plate down, looking over her shoulder to give Pearl a comforting smile, “Really.”

 

Pearl was far from convinced and Orange’s nonchalant response was only setting her more on edge. “You won’t listen to me, even if I begged you to wait, would you?”

 

“I…Pearl,” Orange turned, taking the few steps to stand in front of Pearl to reach out and take her hands in hers, giving them a squeeze that Pearl responded to with one of her own. “I need to do this.” Orange smiled, "I’m ready. I can feel it.”

 

“You do seem…a little better.” Pearl acknowledged, her gaze falling down from her, “But that doesn’t mean you are.”

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

Pearl was quiet, long enough for Orange to hold her breath with growing unease before she looked back up at her. “Yes.”

 

She released her breath, giving Pearl one of her most cocky grins, “Then trust me when I tell you I’m ready to do this. I’m confident I can do this right, this time.”

 

“Just…don’t be reckless.”

 

Orange laughed, making Pearl smile at the sound. It was a relief, a small comfort, to for to hear. “It’ll be okay.” Orange promised.

 

“You keep saying that.” Pearl pulled away from Orange’s grasp, stepping away so that there was a respectful distance between them as her more professional facade fell into place, her hands clasping in front of her. Orange’s smile dropped slightly, aware that Pearl was drawing that line between their friendship and her job as White Diamond’s Pearl, the one she was required to wear when they were not alone. "If you are certain, then we should go. We shouldn’t keep my diamond waiting.”

 

Orange nodded, walking behind Pearl as she stopped to release the door lock she had put in place. As the door slid open, they were both surprised to find two carnelians leaning against it, both stumbling and falling to the floor as their support was suddenly taken from them.

 

Orange broke out in laughter at the sight, raising an eyebrow at the two gems as they scurried to right themselves. “5PX, 7PX.”

 

Both Carnelians jumped, their faces a mix of embarrassment and shock to have been caught. “My diamond!” they both saluted.

 

“We weren’t doing anything!” 7PX began, her voice tinged with panic as she glanced between Pearl and Orange, "We were just, uh-”

 

“Good luck, my diamond.” 5PX grinned, giving her a thumbs up while cutting her fellow gem off and earning a glare from her.

 

“Thanks 5PX.” Orange followed Pearl when she took the initiative to begin their walk to the command room, snickering as she could hear 7PX’s voice bouncing down the hall as she berated her guard mate for giving their eavesdropping away the farther away from them they got.

 

“You know they were listening through the door.” Pearl remarked when they had walked out of view of them.

 

“I know.” Orange nodded, earning a look from Pearl over her shoulder.

 

“You’re not going to reprimand them?” Pearl questioned.

 

Orange took a moment to think about it, “Im not bothered by it, no.”

 

“You’re a Diamond.” Pearl reminded, "You shouldn’t let the Quartz do as they please.”

 

“I’ll speak with them, but i don’t see it as a reason to punish them or anything.”

 

Pearl remained silent, and Orange believed she was going to drop the matter before she commented, “…You’ve become very lenient. I can tell they appreciate how you are with them.”

 

“I have no interest in being a tyrant.” Orange responded, her expression becoming serious as their conversation became less lighthearted.

 

Pearl’s pace slowed as she turned to regard Orange with an appraising look before she responded, “A firm rule is not the same as oppressive.”

 

“I guess you’re right…” Orange took a breath and pushed it out through her nose, her eyes focusing on the hall in front of them as she mulled Pearl’s words over. "I’m still unsure how I want to go about being in charge.”

 

“You have plenty of time to find your middle ground.” Pearl turned back forward, her voice conveying the reassurance she could not physically show in the public space of the hall.

 

“You have experience.” Orange noted.

 

“I’m only a Pearl.”

 

“But your White Diamond's Pearl,” Orange countered, “So anything you say is consider an extension of her. No one questions you when you tell them to do something.”

 

“That…is true.” Pearl conceded.

 

“You have more power and reach than you think.”

 

Pearl’s tone was clipped and Orange tried not to take it personally, “I would not abuse my position.”

 

“I wasn’t saying you were,” The young diamond explained, “Or even would. I just meant you have better experience than I do. I wouldn’t say no to your thoughts on it.”

 

Pearl remained quiet, and Orange feared she may have pushed the topic into territory Pearl wasn’t willing to traverse with her yet. She was flooded with a startling amount of relief when she glanced at her over her shoulder, her wide eyes and the slant of her mouth expressing her uncertainty to Orange. “…We can talk about it the next time I am given time to myself, if you want.”

 

“I’m always up for time with you.” Orange smiled, her hand going up to touch Pearl’s shoulder to try to ease her apprehension before she caught herself, dropping it back down to her side.

 

Pearl looked away, keeping her head forward, her eyes focusing on the doors ahead of them as her cheeks took on a darker tint. “I…that is kind.”

 

“I mean it, I’m not trying to be nice. You're a good friend, Pearl.”

 

“So are you.” Pearl smiled briefly before it dropped as they approached the doors of White Diamond’s command room. She stopped in front of the security panel, turning sideways to look at Orange as she stood before the large doors. “Are you ready?”

 

Orange took a breath, turning to give Pearl a confident grin that was honestly more for herself than Pearl, “No time to turn back now.”

 

Pearl nodded, pressing her hand to the panel, turning her eyes up as the doors slid open, and Orange waited for her to lead the way in.

 

“My Diamond, I have brought Orange Diamond.” Pearl saluted White as she stood off to the side, respectful of where she stood between her two superiors.

 

White did not bother to even look at Pearl, her eyes focusing solely on Orange as soon as they had entered the room. Orange tipped her head back to look directly back at her, her mouth a thin line and her eyes slightly narrowed, a resolute, almost defiant expression on her face that White hadn’t had pointed at her in a long time. White’s voice carried across the room as she spoke, “So you are ready to take this seriously, my little gemling?”

 

“Yes.” Orange’s eyes shone with a determination White had missed in the youngest Diamond, ever since she had allowed herself to become overly attached to that Pearl. White recognized she should have realized Orange would have, given she had such a passionate nature. It would be a simple thing to correct in the future.

 

Orange’s hands balled up at her sides, “Im not going to fail this time.”

 

White was impressed by Orange’s change in attitude, but she was not one to be moved simply by words. “Then show me.”

 

Orange glanced at Pearl, who nodded and moved away from the two diamonds, walking towards the entrance to the room to stand dutifully by the door. When Orange was satisfied that Pearl was not close enough for anything to happen to her, even in her imagined worse case scenario. The younger gem turned away from White, which earned her a questioning tilt of head from the eldest Diamond as Orange took a few calculated steps from her. When she had covered a decent distance, she turned back to White, catching her curious look.

 

“I don’t want to accidentally hit you.” Orange explained before looking down at her hand as she raised it in the air between them. She took a deep breath, closing her eyes as she held it a moment before pushing it out through her nose, repeating the action as she worked to ease the tension in her body. The young gem then allowed herself to feel the underlying current of power inside herself, simply waiting for her to tap into it. It was amazing to feel her gem almost hum to life in the center of her chest while she allowed her body to naturally respond to her prodding. Orange no longer felt like she was trying to pull her power from her gem, instead now guiding it, as if it was merely a flowing stream she had to give a direction to. She allowed herself a long moment to gather it and was surprised to feel it collecting not behind her gem, but below, at her core and low in her belly. It filled her with a warmth and strength she was unfamiliar with wielding, and Orange was reminded of Zirconia, of how she had once again reminded her she was not in this alone.

 

She had others she could lean on, and she had people who leaned on her. She had people counting on her, rooting for her, wanting her to succeed. Opening her eyes, Orange’s vision focused on her hand, amazed to see the natural orange glow of her power engulfing her outstretched hand, the flaring energy running up her arm and traveling around the rest of her body, making her the second brightest being in the room. Concentrating, Orange was about to attempt to push the gathered energy from her body as she had done before, but stopped, a feeling inside her telling her no, that was wrong. No, she didn’t need to force it, she simply needed to let go. Orange took another breath, holding it as she caught her own reflection on the floor, the distorted image of herself flickered on the marble. She looked more in control than she had felt she was in a long time.

 

Smiling, Orange closed her eyes as she let the breath go, at the same time feeling the built up energy release in one sudden motion. The energy expanded from her skin, ballooning out into a dome of hissing heat, the very stone cracking under the pressure, leaving shattered, jagged edges of scorched stone in a large radius around her, fracturing the longer she held the destructive dome in place. She opened her eyes, not letting the energy dissipate until she had looked up and met eyes with White, almost shocked by the feeling of warmth that was no longer caressing her skin when it was gone.

 

The room was incredibly silent, all three occupants taking in what had just occurred. Glancing down, Orange couldn’t help but blush in embarrassment at what she had done in her overzealousness to show off her power. Her eyes flickered around at the floor and then up at White, “Uh…sorry.”

 

But White looked anything but angry at the damage Orange had done to her command room’s floor, her smile wide as her hands came together in a soft clap, “Amazing. Simply amazing.” White expressed her satisfaction with Orange’s display. “This is a big change from before. See what happens when you actually try?”

 

Orange pushed down the tinge of anger that her comment brought, instead offering White a smile as she responded, “Its not because i wasn’t trying, White.”

 

White was caught off guard with Orange’s response, her head tilting in question as her hands fell slightly from their clasped position, “Excuse me?”

 

“I actually couldn’t do that before,” Orange explained, pushing through her fear of White’s possible repercussion for what she was saying, “Not because I wasn’t trying, or because you lacked something in teaching me. Its because I didn’t believe I could, because I didn’t want to be able to.”

 

White considered her a long moment, “And that has changed?”

 

Orange couldn’t stop the grin from forming on her face, though she did manage to stop herself from looking at Pearl, least she possibly give away just how close they were to the eldest diamond, “I had a reason to change, someone very persuasive talked me out if it. I still have some things to work through, but i think its all for the better.” 

 

White’s eyes regarded Orange, curious and questioning, something flickering across them that remained unspoken by her, and Orange wondered what she had deliberated in the span of that short moment when her curiousness was replaced with a much more stern expression that was only mildly softened by her smile. “Then I am glad you were turned to reason, my dear.” White’s tone turned more serious, her voice clear and firm to match her expression as she met Orange’s unwavering stare, “But, the real test is if you can do that again.”

 

Orange knew she shouldn’t feel so cocky, but she could not stop the somewhat hubristic response to White’s challenge. “I'm prepared for whatever you throw at me. I refuse to fail now.”

 

White turned to her Pearl, “Pearl, get one of the guards.”

 

Pearl did not give a second thought to her orders, automatically bowing, “Yes, my Diamond.”

 

Orange watched as Pearl left before cocking her head in question at the other diamond, “What are you doing, White?”

 

“I want a full demonstration of your power, not a show of how strong you are.” White answered.

 

Orange blinked in surprise, realization hitting her. “You want me to use it on one of the soldiers?”

 

White’s response lacked any remorse or empathy for Orange’s situation. “Yes, it is the simplest way to test that ability of yours.”

 

Orange took a deep breath, fighting her first instinct to tell White no. She could control herself. She wouldn’t shatter the soldier. It was only a display, like Zirconia had done. A tap, nothing more. She didn’t have to be afraid of herself. She had this. “Okay.”

 

White appeared to be satisfied with her response, and Orange briefly wonder if that, too, had been a test. “Good.”

 

It wasn’t long before Pearl returned, a large Citrine soldier in tow, her eyes the only thing conveying her confusion on why she was being summoned by none other than White Diamond. 

 

The Citrine saluted White Diamond, “My Diamond!”

 

White appraised the gem brought before her, her trained eyes inspecting her for but a moment before she nodded in approval, “Good, you got one of the finer Quartz.” She commended Pearl before she addressed the newest gem in the room. White held out a hand towards Orange, “I want you to fight Orange Diamond.”

 

The Citrine nearly jerked out of her salute in surprise to her Diamond’s orders. “M-my Diamond?”

 

“It’s alright.” Orange reassured her, catching the Citrine’s attention, her eyes wide and her eyebrows arched up, the hesitations and unease about her orders clear on her face. It tugged on Orange’s heartstrings as she realized that this Citrine more than likely knew her, if her surprise played more in her orders than her presence. Was this a gem that served on her guard? Why didn’t she know her own gems better? “You won’t be shattered. You don’t have to be afraid.” Orange offered her a kind smile, ignoring everyone else reaction as she focused on the Quartz in front of her.

 

The Citrine stared at her a moment before she managed to marginally relax, squaring her shoulder’s under Orange’s encouraging gaze. “Of course, my Clarity.”

 

White narrowed her eyes, watching in mild interest as the two spoke, and Orange settled her soldier’s fears. “Orange?” She prompted, the younger gem’s eyes flicking up to meet hers before returning to the Quartz.

 

“Sorry.” Orange walked out of the area of broken, scorched floor, her feet knocking into bits of stone that stuck up as she joined where Citrine was. Orange was always a little bit surprised when she found she could look such large Quartz in the eyes up close, a far cry from when would have had to crane her neck and have said soldiers hunch over just so she could look at their faces properly. “Are you ready?” She questioned, taking a few steps back before she raised her fists as she cautioned her new sparing partner, “This might hurt.”

 

Citrine bent over slightly, changing her center of gravity as she spread her legs and brought her hands up into a stance of defense for her upper body, making Orange realize that while she may be physically stronger than this soldier, this soldier had experience she didn’t. This solider already knew how to fight, she had knowledge that Orange didn’t on how to properly participate in hand-to-hand combat. She probably even had a weapon she could produce from her gem, and that worried Orange. White had not said her opponent couldn’t use a weapon, she hadn’t set any rules at all for this. She wanted to see what Orange could do, she wasn’t worried about this gem’s welfare, or what Orange might have to do just to defend herself.

 

“Do not worry about me, my Diamond.” Citrine said when the concern showed on Orange’s face, "I am just another Quartz solider.”

 

Even though Orange knew that was true, it angered her that she had to admit that was a truth she had to accept at all. This quartz was just another soldier to Homeworld, but wasn’t just another soldier to her. This was someone who possibly once acted to protect her, someone who had accompanied her for a length of time, a soldier she had been gifted who owed their loyalty to her and Orange didn’t even know who they were. She was a nameless soldier who Orange regretted not even having a name to place to her gem, even as she stood ready to sacrifice herself on her own Diamond’s whim.

 

She would have to change that. She knew it wasn’t possible to know every gem under her, or who interacts with her, but she wanted to at least know those who would be closest to her. How could she give Pearl a name and face and leave the gem guarding her left and right blank. She didn’t want White’s seclusion from her people, she didn’t want Yellow’s analytical way of looking at every gem below her, or even Pink’s compassion for every gem in her charge. Pearl was right, she needed to find her middle ground, simply one more thing she needed to do before she would ever be happy with calling herself a Diamond or being apart of the Authority. 

 

“Let’s begin, then.” Orange grinned, relaxing her rigid stance some as she attempted to mimic Citrine’s own, spreading her legs a bit farther under her, feeling more steady and prepared to actually fight. Orange took a breath, concentrating, feeling the flow of power in every part of her form. Orange followed her process from before, this time keeping her eyes open as she watched the Quartz soldier make the first move, charging at her much quicker than she had anticipated she could for her size, and if Orange hadn’t jumped to the side at the last second, she knew she would have plowed right into her.

 

Orange was just turning around to face Citrine when the Quartz pivoted, her fist coming at Orange before she could jump out of the way again, and the younger gem only just managed to deflect her hit with her forearm, leaving a sizable mark there as she was knocked back. Orange retaliated, kicking her leg out to try and keep the distance between them, but Citrine easily blocking her clumsy kick with her arms before she latched onto her ankle with one hand, catching the Diamond by surprise. Grabbing her leg with the other, Citrine picked up Orange, swinging her around. Acting on instinct, Orange kicked out with her other leg, hitting the other gem in the hand and arm, but Citrine would not let her go easily. Using her momentum, Citrine widened her stance to stabilize herself as she lifted Orange up and slammed her into the ground,  Orange’s eyes widening as the breath was knocked from her when her back hit the floor. 

 

Taking the Diamond’s moment of being stunned, Citrine brought her hands together over her head, intertwining her fingers and swinging down in what would have been a devastating hit had Orange not regained her senses, moving quickly to flip herself backwards on the floor just in time to miss Citrine hitting the ground, cracking the marble floor. Orange gathered her energy to her hand, her fist glowing. With teeth bared and eyebrows arched down in concentration, she swung forward. Citrine brought her hands up again, blocking Orange’s attack, but was surprised when the energy around her hand exploded in her palm, sending her sliding back on the floor, a trail of white smoke following her, until she slowed to a stop.

 

Orange had a wide grin on her face, incredibly happy to have landed a blow to her opponent, waiting for White to tell them to stop now that she had seen what else she could do.

 

But when the smoke began to clear, Orange was surprised to see Citrine shaking out her hand that had caught her attack. Where her hand should be was glitched lines of yellow-orange light, like she was having trouble reforming the appendage. This did not deter her from acting for long, and she was advancing on Orange again, her single hand raised in a fist, prepared to attack Orange. But the younger gem didn’t want to hit her, taking steps back as she moved out of the way of her punches. It was at this point she realized White wasn’t going to call for them to stop, and that a single punch wasn’t going to satisfy her.

 

Narrowing her eyes, Orange knew she was going to have to do that again. Concentrating, focusing her flowing energy to her hands, both of her fists began to glow. She waited until Citrine threw another punch that she dodge did she swing forward, her fist connecting with Citrine’s arm, and just like her hand, when her energy exploded in a concentrated blast, the area around her hit began to fizzle out, the strength of her hit knocking her back. Orange then advanced, throwing her other hand forward, hitting Citrine in the chest with the hopes to bring her to her knees.

 

Orange’s eyes widened when instead, the blow was larger than she had meant it to be, throwing Citrine back, lines forming in her light form, radiating from the smoking fist sized hole Orange had left in her chest, until her entire form was covered in fractured lines Orange had only ever seen when a gem was being destabilized with a wand, and then Citrine was engulfed in a puff of smoke, her gem the only thing remaining flying through the air to land on the ground with a tink.

 

“Stars!” Orange gasped, “I didn’t mean to destabilize her! Is her gem alright?”

 

Pearl walked forward from her safe distance from the fight, reaching the gem on the floor and picking it up to inspect it. “She’s alright, my diamond.” Pearl confirmed, causing Orange to let the breath she had been holding out in relief. Pearl encased the gem in a pale bubble, giving it a gentle tap, sending it somewhere Orange didn’t know.

 

“Fantasic!” White said, gaining both Orange and Pearl’s attention, Orange looked up at White, taking another breath as she felt the excitement of the fight leaving her, letting her realize just how much that had actually taken out of her. White’s smile was one of the widest Orange had seen, “Well done Orange.”

 

Orange smiled, a swell of pride filling her to have actually gotten that response from White of all people. “Thank you, White. For not just giving up on me.”

 

“Of course, my gemling.” White knelt down and Orange stepped to her out of habit before she even thought about it, White reaching out to run a finger over the smaller Diamond’s head affectionally. "I am only saddened you had to be placed in timeout for so long. Let’s not do that again.”

 

Orange’s eyes briefly flicked away from White’s, pushing the wave of emotion that tried to push to the surface down, forcing a smile on her face and chuckled, “That would be the preferred option.” Orange agreed.

 

“You’re looking strained, my dear.” White observed, seeing how Orange was still breathing heavier than normal.

 

“I’m still getting used to doing that.” Orange was quick to explain, looking down as she stretched out her hand and closed it, feeling the tingle of warmth in her finger tips, but also the fatigue in her body. Perhaps she hadrushed to do this, given how her body was feeling, but she could rest all she needed now that she had actually succeeded. Orange tightened her fist again, under White’s star, she felt the need to add, "I should be fine, soon.”

 

“We will keep working on it.” White responded, standing up to her full height, making Orange look up at her, "For now, return to your room.”

 

“Will…” Orange hesitated, her hand reaching over to grip her other arm, ”can I leave my room if I want?”

 

“Yes.” White nodded, her eyes cutting to Pearl, who had not moved from where she had bubbled Citrine, "Pearl, escort her back and inform the guards of Orange Diamond’s restrictions being lifted.”

 

Pearl bowed to White, “Yes, my Diamond.”

 

Orange turned from White, Pearl’s eyes focusing on Orange as she took her time to reach her, Pearl taking the lead to escort the youngest Diamond from the command room.

 

“Oh, and Pearl?”

 

Both Pearl and Orange stopped as they neared the door, turning to look at White over their shoulders, “Yes, my Diamond?”

 

“Do give back Orange Diamond her communicator.” White chuckled, and Orange wondered what was so funny about that, until she added, “I’m sure the others would be glad to hear from you, Orange.”

 

Orange gave White a nod in acknowledgment. “Thank you. I’ll call them soon.”

 

With the doors closed, Pearl stood closer to Orange than she normally allowed herself to in public, concern flashing over her face when Orange’s squared, tense posture buckled once they were out of White’s sight, and Pearl feared she was going to collapse to the floor until she caught herself, Pearl’s own hands hovering in the air as she refrained from touching her. “Orange? Are you alright?”

 

“Yeah.”Orange breathed, hunched over, her hands on her knees as she took multiple deep breaths, psyching herself up for the walk ahead of them before she straightened up, her back protesting to the sudden action as she winced. She forced a smile for Pearl, who she knew could see right though it, but thought to offer it anyway, “I’m okay. That just took a lot more out of me than i thought.”

 

Pearl’s hands fell back to her sides, her thin eyebrows pinched together as Orange began their slow walk back to her quarters. “You overestimated yourself.” Pearl chided, "You know how dangerous that is.”

 

“I know.” Orange admitted, embrassed Pearl had predicted just how reckless she would be, but the outcome hadn’t been so bad. She had not only shown a bit more control over her power, and she understood what she could do a lot better than ever before, at the low cost of a Citrine’s form, but she also now had her restrictions freed. A tired grin stretched across her face as she looked to Pearl, who walked beside her as an unspoken precaution, “But did you see what i did? the look on White’s face?”

 

“i saw,” Pearl nodded, a small smile on her face at the younger gem’s enthusiasm. “it was impressive compared to what you did before. i was…in awe of what you did to that Quartz.” Pearl admitted, her voice quiet.

 

Orange blushed, “Im glad.” Thinking on what she said, Orange cocked her head to grin at Pearl, jesting, "Also, good to know I can impress you with displays of power.”

 

Pearl responded with an amused grin of her own, “So long as you don’t pass out.”

 

“what if i land gracefully?”

 

Pearl’s eyes glanced over to Orange, her eyes sparkling in amusement, “You and i both know you’ll land on your face.”

 

Orange pressed a hand to her chest, dramatically throwing her head back, “Oh, ouch.”

 

The two settled into a comfortable silence, Orange’s lowered mobility as her earlier actions began to take its toll on her making their pace slowed.

 

Pearl was the first to break the silence, questioning Orange as she had to stop a moment to lean against the wall, much to Pearl’s concern that she waved off. “Would you like a bath prepared before you rest?”

 

“No. i think if i do, I'll just slip under the water.” Orang pushed off the wall, holding out her hands as she looked down at them, admitting, “My arms are tingling after punching that gem like that.”

 

Pearl stepped closer to her, surprising Orange as she took her hands, inspecting them. Orange still had marks from where she had been hit or slammed into the ground. Orange thought it only showed that she really could improve in physical combat. She had such a pampered life, she had no real need to fight until now when she was always surrounded by soldiers to do it for her. Pearl ran her thumb over Orange’s knuckles, discolored to a darker orange-red color than her skin naturally was, “Perhaps if you’re going to be punching people, you might need to practice.”

 

Orange did not resist when Pearl pulled away, taking a step back as they resumed their walk, though she noted Pearl was still closer to her than she normally allowed in public. She considered Pearl’s suggestion, finding the truth in it very obvious. Even if she never did see real combat, it would not be a bad thing to know how to, especially if her powers seemed most useful in unclose and hand-to-hand combat. She imagined if White wouldn't, Yellow would be excellent to turn to for this. “That is…a good idea, actually.”

 

“I admit,” Pearl said, gaining Orange’s attention again, "the thought of watching you taking on another quartz soldier would be interesting to see, and what else you can do.”

 

Orange didn’t immediately understand the feeling in her chest at Pearl’s words, or the flutter in her gut, an odd feelings she believed was from her fatigue. “I’ll be trying to impress you the whole time.”

 

Pearl’s cheeks burned a dark color, her eyes widening at her words. “Don’t say that.” Her voice was quiet, almost timid, “That’s…embarrassing.”

 

Orange realized how her words could have come off as flirtatious, her cheeks burning at the realization. “Sorry. i didn’t mean-” Orange cut herself off before she could say anything else stupid, her head turning away from Pearl’s direction and her lips pursed together as she cut off her sentence with a grunted “…erm.”

 

Pearl was quiet for a moment, her head ducked and her hands coming to clasp in front of her, fidgeting, before she looked towards Orange from the corners of her eyes, “I know what you meant. I did not say i objected.”

 

Orange’s head whipped to look at Pearl, her heart beating just a little faster at her admission, “What?”

 

“I simply meant its…a diamond trying to impress a pearl, no matter how friendly we are, is…silly.”

 

Orange’s hand balled up, her eyebrows arching slightly as the embarrassment left her to be replaced by indignation, “I don’t consider it silly. Maybe I,” Orange paused,”…I care what you think of me.”

 

Pearl swallowed, looking away and not meeting the younger gem’s eyes, “I think…i think you should rest. You’ve overworked yourself.” Pearl waited a moment before adding, “We can talk about you showing me how you’re going to take on the quartz guards later. White Diamond expects me to return.”

Chapter Text

 

Orange sat up in her bed, breathing quickly and feeling cold and boxed in. Sweat beaded on her body, leaving the sheet clinging to everything she touched. Groaning, Orange rolled over to throw her legs off the bed, bowing to put her head in her hands, holding it there as she took deep breaths. After she believed she had calmed her breathing to an acceptable rate, she ran a hand through her hair, turning to look out the window. The sun was already rising up visibley in the sky, painting the tops of the sky rises and spires in pale light, signifying she had slept to at least late morning, if not into the early hours of afternoon.

 

The Diamond's eyes flicked from building to building, taking note of how the tops tinted a beautiful pastel pink, soon to be replaced with the yellow light that was beginning to dominate the color as the day cycle began to come into full swing.

 

There was a soft chime from her door, and Orange looked up to see Pearl enter, who smiled as greeting when she saw Orange sitting up and looking at her.

 

“Good to see you up.” Pearl commented, stepping over to the table where there was already a plate of tablets waiting for her, and Orange wondered when Pearl had already had the time to come by. “You were out much longer than I have seen you in a long time. How are you feeling?”

 

Orange sighed heavily, rubbing a hand over her forehead and eyes, feeling the small aches still lingering in her body. “Like i decided it would be a good idea to challenge Iris Agate to another fight. I can still hear the sound of her laughing at me.”

 

It had been a little more than two weeks since she had earned her freedom from confinement to this room, but she still found herself spending more time in it than she cared for. Mostly sleeping, and less time with Pearl, or watching the cityscape, but she was still here. White had started her on a small training regime with gems she chose herself, with no say from Orange, not that she would complain with her choices, Orange had just wanted more input in who she would be working with. White had at first found her request to be trained silly, outright laughing at her request and calling fighting like that for common soldiers, but Orange had managed to persuade her to allow her to at least learn the basics of hand-to-hand combat, with the argument that it did not reflect well on the Diamonds if she could be one upped by a simple soldier in a fight. 

 

At that point, she had a new teacher in the form of an Iris Agate, who Orange knew enjoyed running her ragged despite denying such claims. She also sparred with two Gray Topaz soldiers with Iris Agate’s oversight, both of which Orange had become rather fond of. The Topaz soliders were capable, sturdy gems, able to take a beating from her just as easily as they were able to give one back. Orange had been limited on her use of her powers, a limitation placed not by White Diamond, but Iris Agate, which was honestly fine with her. She didn’t want to destabilize the Gray Topaz by accident, and her goal was to learn technique and build her endurance up. She could learn how to combine the two in a fight later, after she could throw a punch that didn’t threaten to damage her just as much as her opponents. She was so unaccustomed to the physical exertions of hand-to-hand combat, it often only left her with enough energy to crunch on some tablets before she was passed out for long hours only to repeat the process.

 

During her new schedule, she had managed only once to squeeze in time to sit with Pearl to catch a sunset, but she had, upsettingly, fallen asleep during it. She had apologized the next day to Pearl who was more pleased that she was actually sleeping than bothered by her falling asleep on her. Orange didn’t know if she was more embarrassed to have actually fallen asleep on Pearl, or the fact she had blurted out that she made a comfortable pillow. Pearl had been nice enough to laugh off her embarrassment, but that didn’t change the fact Orange felt she was becoming more self conscious of what she said around her, and while it confused her why she felt the need to filter everything, Orange easily enough chalked it up to being overly tired whenever she had a moment alone with her.

 

Her fatigue had gotten to the point that when she had fallen asleep in the bath one night cycle, slipping under the water, and thankfully saved by 5XP. Pearl had chided her for that. Orange didn’t think she could actually drown under the water, given her breathing didn’t seem to serve any more of an actual purpose than it did for Pearl to do, not that she was in a rush to find out. But that didn’t make the experience any less unpleasant for her friend to learn about, especially given the knowledge that Orange would have been trapped under the water without her guard’s rescue. The young Diamond hadn’t even roused from her sleep until she was being smacked in the face by 5XP for not responding. It was at this point that Pearl hadn’t suggested, but told her flat out she needed a break, and that pushing herself so far was no better than depriving herself of what she needed to live.

 

Orange had to concede to Pearl’s argument, admitting that a day or two of rest would not do her wrong. But now that she wasn’t distracted with training, it gave her mind a chance to slip back to the thoughts she hadn’t had the energy to deal with. “I feel like I could rest more, but I want to get up and get out of this room.”

 

Pearl’s eyebrows pinched together, worried at how long it took her to respond as she looked over her shoulder at the younger gem, making to pick up the plate and bring it over to her. “Another dream?”

 

“Yeah.” Orange accepted the plate with an offered smile of gratitude, “Not too often as they used to be, but when they happen, it's…” Orange trailed off, picking up one of the tablets to flip around between her fingers before she crushed it, the fine powder flitting back onto the plate and her leg.

 

Pearl leaned forward, her hand grasping Orange’s, stopping her from crushing another tablet between her fingers. “I thought you had forgiven yourself for what happened?”

 

“I have, but at the same time…” Orange looked up, momentarily taken by the look of concern in Pearl’s eyes directed at her, “I miss her. I know I can’t change what happened, I know that. But I still wish I could. I wonder if she would have forgiven me.”

 

Pearl regarded her for a moment, a small smile coming to her face as she used her other hand to cup the same hand she had been grasping, so her hands made a cage around Orange’s. “I did not know that Pearl very well,” she began, her voice soft and comforting, soothing Orange’s over worked nerves, “even though she served White Diamond before being given to you, but i interacted with her more after she was. She was devoted to you. I believe she would have forgiven you.”

 

Orange let out a deep breath through her nose, her eyes falling closed at her words, giving her hand a squeeze as she returned her small smile with one of her own. “Thank you, Pearl.” Her eyes flicked up, meeting hers as Pearl was the perfect height to match hers while she sat on the bed. Orange’s other hand came over to lay over top Pearl’s, “I think i needed to hear that from someone else.”

 

“Im glad i can help.” Pearl and Orange were slow to separate, and it wasn’t until Pearl took a step back that she motioned to the the tray beside her, “You should eat your supplements. They will help you feel better.”

 

“Thanks.” Orange picked up the plate, actually eating two before she started into their conversation again, “I think I need to take a bath.” She commented, before giving Pearl a curious look, “Is White busy today?”

 

Pearl clasped her hands together in front of her, “White Diamond is fielding work into obtaining another colony, and will be unavailable to anyone, baring an emergency.”

 

Orange nodded, her lips pursed as she thought it over, “So the day is mine to do as i please.”

 

“Yes, your clarity.” Pearl affirmed.

 

Orange glanced up at her, her tone light and jesting, “Pearl?”

 

“I apologize.” The smaller gem smiled, looking mildly embarrassed, “It is a habit i will not break of easily.”

 

“I know.” Orange placed the half eaten tray back on the bed, not missing the pointed look she received from Pearl for it, “I suppose since White will be busy, you’ll have to return to her soon.”

 

“Yes. But I will be by again, in the evening, to check on you.”

 

“I think…” Orange thought out loud, leaning back and using her arms for support as she stretched out her back and shoulders, feeling the aches lessening the longer she wasn’t so immobile, “I’m going to wonder down to the palace for a bit today then.” Orange made a point to look at Pearl, giving her a genuine smile, “Thank you, Pearl.” She hesitated but a moment before adding, “For everything.”

 

“It is my pleasure, Orange,” Pearl grinned as she made sure to drag out the younger gem’s name in jest, before adding “and my job.”

 

“I know. But it means a lot to have you here.”

 

“i…i am glad to be here.” Pearl glanced over her shoulder towards the door, “I should go, before my Diamond is left waiting.”

 

Orange nodded, “I’ll see you later, Pearl.”

 


 

 

Orange had ended up falling back asleep after downing the last of the tablets and watching a few moments of the day approaching. She didn’t know how long it was when she woke up again, but the sky was fully illuminated in yellow hues, and she felt more full of energy than she had in a long, long time.

 

Enough that she decided to make good on her thought to wonder down from the ship to the palace, which is how she had ended up ordering her guards to remain at her room, much to 7XP’s anxiety to leave her side without someone else accompanying her, but she really wanted the time alone. Alone, and not in her room or own head, simply taking in her surroundings. She had not wondered White’s palace on her own since she was a young child, barely even a century old, and even then she hadn’t strayed from White’s side. A hall or two and then she would be right back to her, anxious to be without one of the other Diamonds or their Pearls. But now she was older, and she yearned sometimes for that time away, she no longer wanted to be at their side, to have their constant attention, and if this forced separation from them had proven anything, it was that Orange could survive without them. Not that she wanted to, but she was coming to terms with just how attached and reliant she had become on them.

 

Perhaps her separation from them would make her more dependent on herself. They would not always be there to hold her hand, and when she became a part of the Authority, she would have deal with being on her own more, doing things herself. Doing things her way, that was a thought that made her smile. She would be in control of her life, her choices would define her, she would be someone she could be proud of.

 

Strolling down the deserted halls of White’s palace, Orange noted the different styles of architecture, as if this all had been built at a different time in comparison to to the more updated aesthetic inside White’s headship, or even the throne room. A lot of it was open, and somewhat simplic, but still incredibly beautiful. Towering walls built of polished marbles and black and gold mounding lined the upper sections, large triangular designs overlapped on the walls, creating a similar diamond pattern that seemed to be common in the older buildings in the city. White pillars lined the walkway, clear crystalline structures stretched across them like shimmering lattice, spanning into large open archways that lead to other halls or side rooms, all that once served a different purpose at one point or another, now left to disuse as White had started to pull back from being such a publicly seen figure.

 

Orange can remember some of her fondest memories with White was her bringing her down here, the bluster and frenzy of gems startled to actually see her, but she had no attention for them. Her sole interest had been Orange, and showing her a world outside the little dome she had become used to, always at one of the Diamond’s sides. Orange had been so captivated by every little thing then, the grand rooms, the magnificent sights seen from White’s hand, sitting with White as she was attended by a select few gems who gawked at them both, but Orange had been more interested in the sight of new gems she had never known existed then their surprise at seeing her. Orange believed it might have been that day she had decided she wanted to be exactly like White Diamond, and around that time that she had come to the conclusion White could do no wrong, had no faults at all. How things changed.

 

Following the path the crystal wrapped pillars created, Orange found herself stepping into a large, open room. The room was built into a rounded octagonal shape, the same architecture used in the hall had been brought into here, the moulding lining the walls, and cutting upward, blending into the diamond pattern created by the triangular lines drawn on the wall. However unlike the hall, this room had had murals painted on the upper walls, vague images of gems done in simplistic color. The figures were blocked out into a series of panels as they went from the entrance and wrapped around the room, stretched up onto the ceiling. it was a breath taking sight to see the angular figure of a giant gem standing over other, smaller figures. It flowed into a scene of the larger gem, her hand outreached as the smaller gems multiplied, long lines jutting up in front of them, that Orange realized represented buildings. Further along, the Giant gem was met with another large gem, the two towering over the smaller ones, this gem was painted in a paler color than the first gem, who seemed to simply be an outline and was left to be filled in by the natural white tint of the stone work it had all been painted on. 

 

As her eyes traveled over the murals, Orange realized this was a story of how Homeworld came to be, of White creating the first gems. Yellow Diamond joining her, and later to be joined by Blue. Ship construction as they harnessed the power to traverse stars, starting the first colonies. It was all depicted on the walls in primitive gem pictures, but it was the first time Orange had ever actually seen it depicted so openly. The mural cut off before Pink Diamond was ever depicted, and Orange knew this had been made before Pink had emerged. It truly was an old depiction. Reluctantly, she eventually turned from the story overhead to look back at the room. There was no actual furniture, but more pillars placed sparsely about, appearing to be more aesthetic in nature than structural, that filled up some of the bare space. These pillars lead to an open balcony, the railings dully shimmering in the light of Homeworld’s daylight. Stepping to the railing, orange leaned on it as she peered out. Before her was the the Great Diamond Throne room, the building where she had only been allowed to go to once, and she had danced with Pearl. She couldn’t see the inside, even from her elevated angle, as the glass tops reflected the light of the sky and the surrounding buildings, the Authority’s symbol displayed beautifully to her. One day, that symbol would include her, one day it would be her color decorating glass and tinting buildings, spires erected in her honor, and Pink throwing balls to celebrate her accomplishments.

 

Caging the throne room, were the other Diamond’s palaces, their ships docking bays empty, symbolizing that they were not currently on homeworld. Orange’s eyes lingered on the pink palace across from her, before sliding over to the other two. She missed them. She had dived so headfirst into her training to try and better herself, she had completely pushed her thoughts of her fellow Diamonds to the background. She never had gotten around to calling them, to seeing how they were doing. Did they care how she was?

 

Orange tried to push down the memory of Zirconia laying out one of her greatest worries. Where the others happier without her? Would her contacting them simply come across as needy? No, she had to remind herself. They loved her, and she loved them. But it would be better to hear it from them, to see it. 

 

When she got back to her room, she would give them a call. White had even reminded her to, so she must know Orange needed to speak with them.

 

Orange breathed in deeply, settling the flutter in her gut, and the hollow feeling that threatened to overwhelm her if she lingered much longer on her doubts. She leaned her arms on the railing, taking in the new view of the city. For the time being, she would simply take the moment to enjoy some time for herself.

 


 

 

Sitting down at her desk, Orange’s fingers fidgeted with the Diamond communicator  she held between her hands. Her nerves were an absolute mess, and she knew it was because she was working herself up. She worried about what the outcome of her first call would be, what would Blue say? Would Blue care that she called? Would she have the time? or would Blue put on a show of caring, but really didn’t? 

 

“Oh stars,” Orange leaned forward, resting her forehead on the cool stone of the desk, her eyes never straying from the multicolored diamond device, like if she took her eyes off it, it might make a call before she had prepared herself for it. “This is silly.” Orange told herself, “Pearl would tell you you had no reason to be anxious.” Orange paused, quiet as she realized she had talked about Pearl, acknowledging the twinge in her chest at the memory of her. She couldn’t avoid her feelings forever, but she didn’t know how much longer she could tell herself she acknowledged what had happened, and how she felt, and still find herself dreading even thinking about her.

 

Pearl would be so angry if she knew how she was reacting. She knew White’s Pearl was right, she would have forgiven her. She was dragging this out, and Pearl would have been so upset. She would have also been able to talk Orange out of convincing herself that the other diamonds could even possibly hate her.

 

“Pull yourself together. For Pearl. For all of them.” Orange closed her eyes, taking a breath and smiling. The flutter in her gut and the tightness in her chest wasn’t gone, but it wasn’t so stifling. She didn’t feel boxed in. "For yourself.”

 

Sitting back, Orange sat the communicator down on the desk, resting her forearms on it as she turned it until it turned Blue. Her fingers let go and it raised in the air, shifting into a flat diamond shape before it separated, spitting into two bent rods as it stretched up, another diamond shape forming between it, this one a holographic screen. She took the moment it took to connect to find a comfortable position in the chair, her fingers curling around the bottom of her tunic in comfort.

 

The pale light turned from blue static, clearing into the familiar sight of Blue’s Pearl, her voice as soft and breathy as ever, her tone professional in that manner Orange had come to associate with all the Pearl’s in her life. “Blue Diamond’s command room.”

 

Orange blew out air from her nose, her eyebrows turning up as she smiled wistfully. “Hey Pearl.”

 

“Orange Diamond.” Pearl returned her smile, cheekily adding, “You missed our last drawing session.”

 

“Orange!” Orange blinked in surprise as a large blue hand covered half the screen as she watched from the other half as it was lifted up in the air until she was face to face with Blue Diamond.

 

“Blue.” Orange breathed out. Her reaction to her calling was more telling for her than anything she could say next. "How’re you?”

 

“Orange! Oh, I’m so glad to see you.” Tears formed in Blue’s eyes that she didn’t bother to wipe away as she held the screen on her end up with both of her hands, smiling affectionately at her, "I have missed you.”

 

“I’ve missed you too, Blue.” Orange chuckled, the tightness in her chest fleeting in the wake of Blue’s emotional reaction. “I’ve missed our talks” Orange told her, before adding, “and your hugs.”

 

Blue Diamond laughed, “Oh Orange.” she finally wiped at her eyes as her tears ebbed, changing her position in her chair as she inquired, “Has White said if she’s releasing you to come back to us?”

 

“I believe i’ll have clearance for that, soon,” Orange confirmed, giving her a nod as she spoke, “but I think Im going to stay on homeworld for a while.”

 

“What?” Blue’s smile dropped, her eyebrows shooting up, her eyes wide and her voice dropped to a whisper, “oh, but…”

 

“After I come visit!” the younger Diamond was quick to add before the other could begin crying again, explaining, “There are just some things Ive realized i need to work on, and i think it’d be best if I stay in one place.”

 

Blue took a breath, calming herself as she nodded her head in acknowledgment of Orange’s choice. “I understand. Are you sure everything is okay? you look…”

 

“I know, I’ve been told already.” Orange chuckled, lightening the mood that had come over the conversation, "I haven’t been feeling myself recently, but things are getting better.”

 

“I can’t wait to see you, Orange.” Blue Diamond leaned back in her chair, the screen following her as her expression became warm, “We have so much to catch up on.”

 

“It’s barely been more than two months, Blue!”

 

“It feels like so much longer.”

 

Orange shook her head fondly, she had truly missed the easiness she had with Blue. She had needed to hear from her more than she had realized. “Are you still going to be at your Tanzinite colony for long?”

 

Blue nodded an affirmation, “Yes. The terraforming has almost finished! Please, come visit me.”

 

“I will! Tell me, how have things been? I feel like I've missed a lot.”

 


 

 

After her call with Blue had ended, Orange was not nearly as tense or anxious as she turned the communicator to Yellow’s frequency. As she would expect, Yellow’s Pearl answered the call in a very timely manner, sitting up quite rigidly in her chair, her round head tilted back a little haughty as she spoke, “Yellow Diamond’s command room.”

 

“Pearl,” Orange repeated, amused just how alike this was to Blue’s call, though instead of a large smile, Yellow Pearl’s eyes were wide with surprise.

 

“My Clarity!” Pearl leaned forward, her mouth rounding into a smile before she seemed to catch herself, shifting back in her chair, “erm, I mean-“

 

“Pearl, who is it?” Orange could hear Yellow question and watched as Pearl stood up, turning to face Yellow who hadn’t looked over at her yet.

 

“It’s Orange Diamond, uh, my Diamond.” Pearl stumbled through her reply.

 

Yellow’s head snapped over to look at them, her eyes focusing on the screen where Orange had been watching her, a small smile on her face as she met the older Diamond’s eyes. Yellow leaned forward, her hand outreached to Pearl, “I’ll take the call, Pearl. Hand it over.”

 

“Yes, my diamond.” Pearl was quick to give Yellow the communicator, not having the chance to say anything else to Orange as Yellow leaned back into her command chair, the screen raising to her eye level.

 

“Yellow.” Orange spoke first, "It’s good to see you.”

 

“Orange?” Yellow raised one dark eyebrow at her, relaxing, or as much as Yellow did relax, into the high back of her seat. "I wasn’t expecting a call.”

 

“I’m sorry.” the smaller gem returned sheepishly, "I’m probably interrupting your work, aren’t I?”

 

“Yes. I was checking Ruby productions…” Yellow trailed off, her eyes flicking to the screens she had pushed aside in favor of her call from Orange, "But I can take a moment. How are things with White?”

 

Orange leaned back in her own seat, mimicking Yellow’s posture, “It’s good. Well, better. I can control myself now, a lot more than before.”

 

“Good.” Yellow’s head titled back, her chin raised in silent approval, "Then I imagine you won’t be required to stay with White for much longer.”

 

“I’m staying volunteeringly,” Orange explained, feeling much more prepared than she had been for Blue, “to continue honing myself. But…” Orange hesitated, "Would you mind if I came to see you? When you have the time.” she added at the last moment.

 

“Yes. I’m interested to see how you’ve come along.”

 

Orange chuckled, grinning warmly at Yellow, “I wouldn’t say no to the chance to show you.”

 

“Very well.” Yellow’s attention was momentarily pulled from her by a red flash on her work station, "I have to go, Orange.”

 

“Okay.” Orange smiled understandingly, "Thanks for taking the time for me, Yellow.”

 

“You’re welcome,” Yellow responded, sounding somewhat surprised to be thanked. ”…and Orange?”

 

Orange paused, half way towards grabbing her own communicator to end the call, surprised to be stopped by Yellow. “Hmm?”

 

“I am pr-“ Yellow’s voice cut off, her lips thinning out into a line, and Orange wonder what she had been about to say. “…I will await your message when you are released for travel. Yellow out.”

 


 

 

Pearl walked away from the campfire, checking over her shoulder to make sure she was alone and no one was watching her as she ducked into the brush and shadows the trees cast in the moonlight. With all the gems in the clearing, it made it much easier to disappear into the crowd and not pull attention, which she was glad for. when she was certain she was in the clear, Pearl lifted her hands, guiding the small diamond communicator from her gem. Even as it dropped into her hand, she could see it lighting up as it continued to ring. Pearl’s breath caught in her throat.

 

Looking over her shoulder again, Pearl’s eyes found Pink Diamond, in her disguise as Rose Quartz, as she laughed freely with the other rebel gems. A large gem, a Bismuth, hung off of Rose’s shoulders, laughing loudly as some of the other quartz gems joined in her merriment. They had gained Bismuth two weeks back, and she had been essential in their last win against their skirmish against Homeworld with her ability to make such fine weapons so quickly. Bismuth had proven to be not only a great addition to the Rebels, but a much needed distraction for her Diamond. As always, White Diamond’s last encounter had left her nerves fraying, and her last breakdown, luckily in a moment away from the rebels, had been incredibly concerning. 

 

Looking back at the communicator, Pearl frowned. She couldn’t upset Pink and pull her away from this celebration to be disturbed by one of the other Diamond. She wouldn’t take this away from her for the likes of them. They would have to wait.

 

Pearl placed the communicator back into her gem, turning just in time to meet Rose’s eyes as she looked up, cocking her head in question at Pearl. Pearl simply smiled, forcing a laugh, despite not knowing what Bismuth had made another pun about, as she moved back to the campfire to join the other rebels.

 


 

 

The smile began to slip off Orange’s face as the call rang on. After her third attempt to get an answer, Orange knew Pink wouldn’t be picking up. She tried not to allow it to ruin the happy mood she was in, telling herself Pink was incredibly busy. She would try again soon, she was bound to answer one of them. Orange did not have long to dwell on it, however, as she turned when her door chimed and opened a moment later, revealing Pearl.

 

Pearl smiled at her as their eyes met, remaining well out of the way of the diamond display's way as it continued to ring. “Am I interrupting?” she questioned quietly.

 

Orange glanced at the screen, before closing it. “No. You're not interrupting anything.”

 

Pearl stepped closer to her, her hand coming up to rest on the back of her chair as she leaned against the arm, “Then, I have some free time.”

 

Orange grinned, her happy mood returning with force, “Join me?”

 

“You wanted to talk about my experience, didn’t you?” Pearl questioned, stepping back as Orange stood up, placing the communicator onto the side of the desk where it would not be easily knocked the next time she sat there.

 

Orange stepped away from the desk, coming to stand beside Pearl as she shook her head, “Later. There’s…” Orange only hesitated for a moment before she found the nerve to continue, “I found this room, in the palace, I want to take you to. I mean, I’m sure you know the palace inside and out, but-“

 

Pearl cut her off before she could continue, her hand coming up to rest on Orange’s upper arm, “Show me.”

 

A short time later, Orange stood back as Pearl stepped further into the room, her head turning this way and that as she looked around, Orange simply watching Pearl taking in the sight of the room, more captivated by her curiosity than the unique beauty of the room.

 

“I haven’t seen this room in a long time.” Pearl said quietly, looking up at the ceiling.

 

Orange stepped up beside her, turning her head to look up at the mural with her, “Was it important?”

 

“It used to be used by the Diamond’s,” Pearl explained, turning away to look at Orange, the younger gem looking back down to meet her gaze, “Before Pink had gotten a colony. They would have talks in here, on occasion.”

 

“So, it has old memories?” Orange’s jaw flexed, her elation of finding the room dropping in the realization she had brought Pearl to a place she could possibly have been avoiding for one reason or another, "I’m sorry. If I had known-“

 

“Don’t be.” Pearl gave her a small smile to try and assuage her sudden panic, “They aren’t bad ones.” She turned to look out at the open balcony, even from their spot in the room they could see spires being painted in the dusky pink light as night started to creep up, “This room has a great view.”

 

Orange stared at her turned head, her breath hitching in her throat. “I noticed.”

 

Pearl turned back to her, her smile was genuinely happy, “Thank you for taking me here. I haven’t thought of this place in a long time.”

 

Orange remained silent for a moment as she made a split second decision. “Pearl?”

 

Pearl cocked her head in question, “Yes?”

 

Orange bowed to Pearl, one hand outstretched to her as she placed the other behind her back, “Would you give me the honor of dancing with me?”

 

Pearl chuckled, a slight tint to her cheeks as she reached out, placing her hand into Orange’s, allowing her to guide them into a starting position. “Yes, I will.”

Chapter Text

 

Come on, come on, come-

 

“Oofff!” Orange Diamond grunted as the large grey fist ducked under her crossed arms and crashed into her gut, flinging her up and off her feet, knocking her backwards. Gravity took effect a moment later and she landed on her butt, falling back and sprawling out on the floor, her eyes wide and dazed.

 

“Three.” Topaz J2 called, her arms crossed as she stood behind her partner, a cocky smirk on her face.

 

Topaz’s partner, G9, grinned, her deadly fast fists resting on her hips as the two of them stared at their sparring partner, “We win, my Diamond.”

 

Orange comically groaned louder as she sat up, her head falling back rather dramatically, so she was facing towards the ceiling with her mouth wide open and her eyes still closed, earning chuckles from the Topazes, “Thistime.”

 

“And the last time.” J2 added.

 

G9 cocked her head to turn her grin at her as they continued their banter, “And the time before that.” 

 

“And-“

 

A loud voice, hoarse and scratchy,like she had come out of her hole screaming orders, which could have been perfectly plausible, broke their banter and drew their attention, breaking the lighthearted mood, “What are you doing!?” 

 

The livid Iris Agate glared between the three of them, looking as if she was mere seconds from exploding. Despite being shorter than the Topazes and Orange, she was still incredibly intimidating, and managed to pull everyone's attention with her mere presence.

 

Orange rolled her neck, her legs crossing as she leaned forward to rest her elbows on her legs, being courteous enough to look up at Iris as she spoke, “Urgh. Iris, come on. You don’t have to yell.“

 

Iris’ eyes widened as she bared her teeth in a snarl, and Orange wouldn’t believe she could look angrier if she hadn’t witnessed it herself before. “Yell? I haven’t even begun to yell!” Iris held out a hand in J2 and G9’s direction, “What was that?”

 

“Me…getting punched by a Topaz?” Orange answered sheepishly, sitting up a little straighter under the Agate’s cool, pale eyes.

 

“Exactly!” Iris hand swung towards her, pointing a finger accusingly at the youngest Diamond, "You’re too slow!”

 

Orange’s face fell into a blank look, which she knew would make Iris angrier, but she could hardly stop herself from pushing her buttons. “Really? I hadn’t noticed.”

 

“What am I supposed to do with you? You’re built like a quartz soldier, but you have all the grace of lumbering slate.” Iris sighed, her hand moving up to pinch the bridge of her nose as she shook her head, “And now you’re going to be going off and you’re going to slack in your training. I’m going to have to start all over again!”

 

Orange took her time getting up off the ground, raising an eyebrow at Iris Agate, “Do you talk to all the Diamonds you know like this?”

 

“I don’t see a Diamond here, only a whiney polished pebble.”

 

Orange had to fight back a laugh at the haughty look on Iris’ face, and responded in an even tone, “You know, you’re taking that free reign to say whatever quite far.”

 

Iris paused, her shoulders tense as she met Orange’s eyes, her annoyed sneer dropping into a somewhat neutral frown. “Would you prefer I stop?“

 

“No, no.” Orange waved her off, “where would the fun in that be?”

 

“Good.” And that wide eyed angry look was back, “Then the Polished Pebble better get up and start again!”

 

Orange rolled her eyes, “Ugh. Iris, you are a personal slave driver.”

 

“Only because you slack off. And don’t roll your eyes at me!”

 

The Diamond walked over to the Topazes, bumping a friendly fist to G9, who grinned as all three turned back to Iris. Orange swept a hand through her bangs, her lips pursed slightly at the accusation, “I’m not slacking. I’m a lot faster than I was.”

 

Iris acknowledged this with a nod, “Except, it doesn’t matter how quick you are when you can’t keep it up for long. Your endurance is lacking, and while you could punch holes in granite, your strength matters little when you can’t use your abilities and your opponent is better trained than you.”

 

“So I need to work on endurance more.” Orange agreed, “I’ll keep training while I’m away.”

 

Iris sighed, laying a hand over her chest, “But it won’t be mytraining. Who will push you to do your best without me?”

 

“I’ll just imagine you yelling, and threatening me, how about that?” 

 

Iris pale eyes narrowed at the youngest diamond, “Excuse me?”

 

“I’m joking! I’m joking.” Orange held up her hands in a show of peace as she laughed, settling down after a moment and becoming a little more serious, though the smile never left her lips as she addressed her trainer, “Really, Iris. I’ll be gone for two months, if that. To Yellow and Blue Diamond’s colonies and then I’ll be back. You’ll hardly even know I’m gone.”

 

“Of course I’ll know you’re gone.” Iris pursed her lips, one hand wrapping around her chest and being used to support the other as she rested it on top, a finger tapping at her lower lip as a thoughtful expression crossed her face, “When you get back, I’ll have a whole knew schedule for you.” Her face lit up, looking much more enthusiastic about it than her three companions, “It’ll be perfect. You’ll be spending an extra hour with me until I’m satisfied you are where you're suppose to be.”

 

“I’m going to die.” Orange’s lips pulled into a grimace as she spoke under her breath.

 

“What was that?” Iris eyes zeroed in on Orange again, who jumped slightly at her intense look.

 

“I said I can’t wait!” The diamond chuckled awkwardly, “Right, G9? Sounds like great fun, huh?” Orange patted her arm, who looked far more uncomfortable under Iris’ stare than Orange, nodding her head in forced agreement.

 

“Fun...”

 

Iris harrumphed, folding her arms behind her back, somehow looking much more intimidating than when she had been waving her hands around. Her features pinched into that natural Agate sneer of disapproval, “That’s what I thought you said. Now stop running your mouth, and start-“

 

“I’m going, I’m going!” Orange grumbled in mock reluctance, beginning the slow jog around the large open oval structure that they used for training, calling over her shoulder in a joking whine, “J2! Save me!”

 

“No, that’s okay.” J2 leaned on her counterpart’s shoulder as they watched Orange Diamond jogging, struggling to look at them over her shoulder and almost running into a thick white pillar, which had them devolving into snickers.

 

G9 nearly fell backwards as she leaned back against her partner, laughing and waving off their sparring partner, “We’ll wait here.”

 

Iris Agate startled them both when she marched up to them, pointing a finger in Orange’s direction, “What are you talking about? You go too!”

 

Both G9 and J2 stepped back, jaws tensing at her closeness. 

 

“What?” J2 stuttered, pushing against G9 to use her as a shield against the Agate when they both looked down at her.

 

G9 pushed against her counterpart’s hands, grunting at the effort as Iris leaned forward, narrowing her eyes at both of them.“But-“

 

“You’re her training partners!” Iris barked, making them both jump, “If she’s running, you better be running too!”

 

“Yes ma’am!” 

 

“We’re going!” G9 was the first to pull away, making J2 almost stumble into Iris before she pivoted, twisting her weight and stumbling after her as they both ran to catch up with the Diamond, who turned to look at them, a large grin splitting her face.

 

“Ha ha!” Orange cackled, making sure to keep ahead of the Topazes, “That’s what you get!”

 

“We weren’t made for this!” G9 complained, huffing loudly as her partner caught up with her.

 

“Of course we were, don’t be an idiot!” J2 punched her in the back of the arm, glaring at her when she turned to look at her, rubbing her shoulder as her eyebrows turned up in distress.

 

“Maybe you were!” G9 pushed her.

 

J2 pushed back, passing her counterpart in their run and taking the middle between Orange and her. “You’ve spent too much time in the palace guard!”

 

Orange slowed just enough for the two to catch up, joining in their not so quiet arguing. “How angry do you think Iris would be if we just took a left, and split?” Orange huffed, eyeing the exit ahead of them.

 

“Not worth it!” J2 grunted.

 

“No!” G9 cried, shaking her head so quickly, Orange questioned how she wasn’t dizzy after, “I’d rather keep running for the rest of my life.”

 

“Good point.” Orange agreed, offering the two struggling topazes a grin and raised eyebrow, “I mean, we have to stop at some point, right?”

 

More than an hour later, and a lot more work than Orange had planned to do that day, the Diamond rested on her hands and knees, not quite sure she was ever going to get her breathing back to normal. G9 and J2 were collapsed on the ground around her, breathing incredibly heavy and groaning.

 

“Urrrrg.” Orange groaned, as she flopped onto her stomach, ignoring Iris Agate who stood in front of all of them, an eyebrow raised at their dramatic behavior. “You are trying to kill me. Just get your whip and end it already, Iris.” Orange reached forward, grabbing onto her trainer’s booted foot, “Don’t be so cruel.”

 

Iris kicked her hand off, rolling her eyes, “Stop complaining.”

 

“I’ll stop complaining when I’m dead.” Orange rolled over, blowing air from her mouth to move the bangs that stuck to her forehead to look up at Iris and meet her eyes.

 

“Tempting.” Iris smirked, “You make it very tempting.”

 

“Oh, oh. Topaz, my beautiful topazes.” Orange reached out to J2, who looked over at her to watch as she flopped an arm over her eyes, “You must move on without me.”

 

“‘Kay!” G9 yelled, “Maybe we’ll get a diamond that doesn’t like to do exercise.”

 

Orange sat up, playfully glaring at her, “Yeah? Maybe when this is all over, I’ll give you to Yellow Diamond. I hear she likes to make her troops train through war maneuvers every other month.”

 

“Urg!” J2 groaned loudly, all three heads turning to look at her, “why not Blue Diamond? I hear she’s very understanding!”

 

“No! Pink Diamond!” G9 countered, “So much kinder.”

 

Iris Agate rolled her eyes, clapping her hands and making the two topazes jump more out of habit than actual command, “alright! Get up you lazy pebbles! We’re done for the day.”

 

“Oh, you wonderful, amazing, dazzling Agate! Thank you!” Orange cheered from her laying position, the two Topazes tossing their arms up to join her.

 

“Yeah yeah.” Iris waved her off, watching J2 and G9 helping each other up first before offering a hand each to Orange and pulling her up in one fluid motion. The three made one large hug circle between them, a end of the workout tradition she had become used to witnessing and gladly not being apart of.

 

“J2, G9, You’re dismissed. Orange Diamond, a moment of your time, if you please.”

 

All three turned to look at her inquisitively before turning back to each other. Orange was the first to offer them a wave before they could even voice their question, obviously waiting for her to agree before they decided. Iris Agate may have run their little training ring under White Diamond’s orders, but she had no delusions that it was Orange Diamond who held the authority here, and she was gracious enough to hand it over to her, and listen to everything she said. An honor she handled delicately, and with great respect for the gem she had been given to, a respect she had been begrudging to give at first. Now, looking at the spent gem in front of her as she waited for her two partners to depart far enough before turning to her, she could not be more greatful for the chance she had been given to serve Homeworld’s newest Diamond.

 

Orange turned to Iris, her enthusiastic smile dropping slightly into a more serious expression as she met Iris’ eyes, her own silently asking her what was going on even as she asked, “Iris? Is everything okay?”

 

“I simply wished to wish you well before you left, My Diamond.”

 

Orange’s seriousness dropped for a delightfully wide smile, contagious enough that it had Iris returning it with a small one of her own.

 

“That’s really kind of you, Iris! Thank you.”

 

“You have been working really hard. You have come very far in the short time that we have known one another. Much more than I thought you would after witnessing your first day.”

 

“Yeah, I guess so.” Orange blushed, scratching at her cheek in embarrassment, “But you really know how to keep me motivated.”

 

“You mean yelling and threatening you?”

 

“Ah!” Orange’s eyes widened before she laughed at seeing Iris’ teasing smirk, “you know I’m joking about that, right Iris?”

 

“I’m sure. But, my Diamond?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

Iris reached out, startling Orange when she held both of her shoulders, giving her an intense stare. “Good work. I’m so proud of you. I look forward to your return, my Diamond. Have some fun while you’re gone, you look like you need it.”

 

Orange eyes shimmered, before she surprised Iris by wrapping her arms around her and lifting her off the ground in a hug. “Thank you Iris!”

 

Iris patted at her arm, “Okay, Okay! Put me down! Put me down! This has turned too sappy!”

 

“You’re just a big romantic at heart, and you know it.” Orange laughed hardily, jostling the smaller gem in her arms.

 

“Absolutely not!” Iris flushed in embrassed, smacking Orange’s arm until she set her down.

 

“Aww. Okay, okay. I’m done teasing.” Orange chuckled as Iris moved about setting her clothes back in order, her cheeks still burning as she glared at every little crease Orange had caused in her tunic. Orange offered her a hand in a show of goodbye, “I’ll see you when I get back, Iris.”

 

Iris stopped to look up and acknowledge her with a nod of affirmation. “Goodbye, my Diamond.”

 


 

 

Orange closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of the cool glass against her back as the soft hum of Pearl’s voice filled the small space between them, the not quite words of her song soothing, quieting her mind, and relaxing her body as she focused on the notes, instead of the weariness of her limbs.

 

Ever since she and Pearl had that long dance in White’s palace, things had felt...different between them. Not a bad different, just more...intense. She looked forward to time with Pearl, as always, and Pearl seemed quite content to spend the time with her. Orange didn’t feel the need to talk about what was transpiring between them, simply enjoying whatever change was happening. Pearl didn’t seem too interested in talking it over either, so it was left at the back of their minds, a subject neither wished to breach currently, and instead simply went about their daily routines in preferred ignorance.

 

Since her little adventure to the Palace, Orange had made sure to make time for Pearl and herself. She missed having her friend to talk to, or just to sit with. She loved J2 and G9, and Iris, and she considered them friends, as much as she considered 5PX and 7PX friends, but they weren’t Pearl. None of them knew her like Pearl, none of them could quite compare, or manage to bring out the sense of peace like Pearl did. Orange didn’t feel like she had to live up to any set standard, she didn’t even have to be Orange Diamond with Pearl. She just was, and that was so, so nice. To just exist, to be. She wasn’t Orange Diamond, and she wasn’t White’s Pearl, they were just two gems, no expectations of the Empire outside, just friends enjoying the silence and companionship the other brought.

 

Orange cracked open her eyes, watching Pearl as she sat beside her, body turned to face the window properly, legs crossed and hands messing absentmindedly with one of the gifts the youngest diamond had been given from Blue Diamond. It was a small orb, the outside base structure was crystalline in nature, a frosted opaque color, that allowed it’s middle to shine through, its color changing based on what angle the light of the room hit it from. Blue had explained that it was an old gem object that she had once used to keep Orange calm as a very young child, keeping her attention on the light that seemed to radiate from within rather than on the absence of Pink Diamond. Orange did not remember the object, or having fits without Pink, but she found it charming all the same now, keeping it with the other gifts she kept here in her personal space.

 

Pearl flipped the orb, the light catching it again, the gentle beams changing from yellow and transitioning into greens and blues. Orange studied the way the light cast Pearl in a multitude of colors, a far cry from her monochrome color scheme. Orange had to turn her eyes away when the unyielding hardness of the glass started to bother her back, twisting in her spot to find a new position and accidentally knocking into the glass as she leaned on it in a new position. The back of Orange’s head knocking into the glass pulled Pearl’s attention, her pale eyes glancing up to the diamond and her song stopping abruptly.

 

Orange offered her a small smile as her eyes silently questioned if she was alright, “just getting comfortable.”

 

Pearl nodded, but her eyes didn’t go back to the orb, instead turning to look out at the night sky. They had long since past their time for sunset watching and had simply been sitting together, small talk picking up when it came, but mostly just silence and good company, and the odd object in her stash being explored by her companion. Apparently a lot of them were things a Pearl would never be allowed to see or even hold, ancient and valuable, or simply too far above her rank to even be near unless they were getting it for their owner. Orange had let her have free reign of her things, and Pearl had treated it like she had offered her a rare treasure.

 

But now Orange realized their quiet time would be coming to an end when the sun rised, and Pearl would have to go. She should have gone hours ago, and Orange should have already been resting, but neither had really wanted to part just yet. The young gem also noted the way the silence had turned from comfortable to uneasy, and Orange looked at Pearl, reading the way her shoulders where tense, her spine strained to sit up perfectly straight, her fingers the only thing really remaining loose, as not to crush the delicate orb between them.

 

“Pearl?” Orange asked quietly, but her friend did not turn to look at her. She waited, giving Pearl time to decide to ask what obviously seemed to be bouncing around in her head. 

 

She was rewarded for her patience when Pearl’s quiet voice asked, “You’re leaving tomorrow, for Blue Diamond’s colony, right?”

 

“Yeah.” Orange confirmed with a nod, her hair bunching up behind her head as she refused to move it as she did, “I’ll spend three weeks or so with her, then I’ll be going to see Yellow.” Orange paused, before adding, feeling a need to continue to fill their new, tenser silence, “I was going to go to Yellow first, but she had to push things back. Apparently something happened on one of her colonies that she had to see to personally.”

 

“I’ll miss you.” Pearl turned to her, offering her a small smile. “It will be odd without you here.”

 

“I’ll miss you too.” Orange’s eyebrows bunched up even as she returned her small smile, “I could...” Orange eyes flicked away from Pearl’s curious gaze, as she proposed, “you know, you could always call me when I’m gone.”

 

“You mean use the Diamond’s communicator?” Pearl said, her tone light but she could not hide the note of admonishment at the suggestion, “Orange, That wouldn’t be right.”

 

“You’re right.” The younger gem ducked her head, her cheeks warming in embarrassment, “Sorry, it was a stupid idea....I’m just...”

 

Pearl reached out, sliding her hand half way between them to rest on the floor facing palm up, a silent offering of comfort that Orange could choose to take. The movement caught Orange’s attention, her eyes flicking to her open hand then to Pearl, who was watching her, then back to her hand. Taking a breath to calm her nerves, she reached over the remaining distance, grasping Pearl’s hand, feeling grounded in the physical contact. Pearl smiled after she had given Orange another moment to breath, “We have been separated for much longer before, but it’s different now.”

 

“It is, isn’t it?” She slumped against the glass, her skin making a cringing screech sound as she slid down it. “We’ve been through a lot, and the thought of being away from here is weird.”

 

Pearl nodded in agreement, “We spend a lot of time together. I will have to find something to fill my time with now.”

 

“I...” Orange paused, her eyes widening as she turned to her friend, her eyebrows scrunching up in her sudden distressing realization, “I've never thought....have I taken you away from doing things you want to do, to spend your time with me?”

 

Pearl chuckled, squeezing Orange’s hand in familiar comfort, “Do not look so concerned. Of course I have given up time doing things I used to, but a lot of those things....they involved me being alone. I am not so upset to give up some of that time for you.”

 

Orange’s eyes flicked to the floor, looking rather ashamed, dispite Pearl’s words, “We spend a lot of time doing things I want...” The young diamond was quiet a long moment before she sat up, pulling away from the glass and turning on her spot to face Pearl more directly, her gaze become a little more serious than Pearl had been expecting. “when I get back, would you show me things you like to do? I mean, I know you like to dance, but is there other things?”

 

Pearl turned slightly to face Orange as well, releasing her hand now that Orange had seemed to calm down,  “I would be glad to show you.”

 

“I’m sorry I’ve never asked before.”

 

“Don’t be.” Pearl waved her off gently, “You’re asking now, that is what is important. Most would not think to ask at all.”

 

Orange nodded in acceptance, turning to look at the city. It wasn’t quite time for dawn, but the dark night sky was still lit by the artificial lights of the spires and towers, the spot light around the throne room casting the most light around their area of the city, illuminating a lot of the buildings in reflected blue-white light. In the far distance of the horizon, a small crack of pink light began to break the dark skyline, “Time for me to leave is coming so quickly. I’m almost dreading the sun coming up.”

 

Pearl turned to watch the sky with her, her voice was calm and quiet, soothing, “Everything will be fine. You don’t need to be afraid.”

 

Orange didn’t know if she needed the voiced comfort, but she appreciated it all the same. “I’m not afraid, i'm just…” Orange trailed off, unsure exactly what it was that was making her anxious for morning to come. After a split moment to debate, Orange turned to Pearl, “Let’s go to the palace.”

 

“Orange?” Pearl turned to look at her in question.

 

“To the main room. Let’s go there, and just...”

 

“Okay.” Pearl agreed, starting to get up, careful of the fragile object in her hand, before Orange stood up quicker, making the effort to meet her and offer her hand in assistance. Pearl smiled as she took it, holding the orb away from them with the other so it wasn’t accidentally jostled from her grasp.

 

“Okay?” Orange echoed.

 

Pearl walked back to Orange’s shelves, placing the orb back onto the triangular stand she had taken it from, turning back to Orange who had walked to the middle of the room to wait for her. “White Diamond does not go there anymore. We won’t be caught.”

 

Pearl was quiet for a moment, and Orange could see she was debating speaking her next words, and Orange’s breath was knocked from her when Pearl looked up at her, the worry in her eyes a startling change for Orange. “I worry what will happen, sometimes, if she finds out.” Pearl voiced, slow in her walk to join Orange where she waited for her.

 

Orange crossed the remaining space, reaching out to grab Pearl’s hands, “It will be okay.” Orange stared into Pearl’s eyes, her own fears falling into the back of her mind at witnessing Pearl’s own quietly voiced one’s. “I won’t let her do anything to you.”

 

“You can’t promise that, Orange.” Pearl chided, her chin tucking slightly against her chest as she looked down.

 

“Why can’t I?” Orange challenged, her serious tone bringing Pearl’s attention back to her, surprised by the subtle passion burning behind her eyes, “Out of everyone, you know she will listen to me.”

 

“You will talk White Diamond down from punishment?” Her tone was slightly teasing, easing the tense moment into something a little more manageable for herself, because she didn’t believe she could handle the direction it was heading.

 

“I’ll do whatever I have to.” Orange grinned, but her eyes never quite lightened with her happier tone, “Remember? I said I’d fight for you.”

 

Pearl chuckled at the reminder of the words of a much younger version of the gem before, spoken so casually, but meaning more to her at that time than she would have known, “I have missed that.”

 

“What?” Orange blinked, all pretense of seriousness dropping from her face so suddenly, it was almost a surprise for Pearl, but the return of her normally innocent curiousness wasn’t unwelcome.

 

“Your confidence. It...” Pearl paused, her cheeks dusting a slightly darker tinge of grey than its normal white parlor, “I am not so afraid when you seem so sure.”

 

Orange brought her hands up, her grasp firm and reassuring around her own, “I’m already strong and I’ll only get stronger. I’ll keep you safe.” Orange’s seriousness returned, that sharpness and warning it brought to her normally soft features was a reminder to Pearl that no matter how she acted with her, Orange was a Diamond, the most powerful gem type of them. Her words were law, and she had the power to back up a lot of her claims, though her unspoken challenge to also fight White Diamond was more than even Pearl was willing to believe possible. “You don’t have to worry with me.”

 

“I don’t need protecting.” Pearl responded, her eyes falling closed as whatever moment had been building faded as she pulled away, and Orange didn’t attempt to stop her, which she was thankful for.

 

“I know you don’t. But it doesn’t mean I would allow you to be hurt because of me. I wont let it happen.  Orange said, her eyes never leaving Pearl even as her hands fell to her sides while Pearl’s wrapped around herself, like a guard between them.

 

“You can’t change everything.” Pearl told her, wincing as she realized how callous her words may have come across. Looking up, she was surprised to see Orange standing with her chin raised, that same determined look in her eyes she had all those nights ago, her shoulders squared and her stance in that of a starting position of their dance.

 

“I know.” Orange offered her a small smile, “Dance with me? Before I have to go.”

 

“Here?” Pearl looked around, surprised. They had never taken their dancing to Orange’s room. It wasn’t small by any means, but it certainly wasn’t the large, open layout of the palace.

 

“Yes. Here. Before we run out of time.”

 

Pearl hesitated only a moment before reaching out, unfurling from herself and allowing Orange to take the lead, pulling her into their most familiar starting position.

 

The younger gem waited, allowing Pearl to give her a nod before starting their movement, leading Pearl into a dance that allowed her to forget for the moment everything around them and everything that was happening. It was simply the soft moments between them, the fluid steps and timed twirls, and the warmth she had become used to from Orange that other gems didn’t have. Pearl didn’t know if that came from her abilities or her partly organic nature, but it was a comfort, something to lull her into the familiar contentment she always fell into when she was alone with her. She almost felt like she was vivid again, colored and whole, breathing life into a being she hadn’t been in a long, long time. 

 

The spell was only broken when Orange stopped abruptly, her larger foot resting awkwardly over Pearl’s, being pulled away before she even fully realized what had happened.

 

“Arg.” Orange grunted, looking at her apologeticly, “I’m sorry. I still falter with that step.”

 

“It’s alright.” Pearl’s eyes fell closed, taking a breath and grounding herself, pulled back to the present and offered a smile to Orange, because she knew how quickly she could slide into a vicious cycle of frustration as she worked herself up while being overly critical of herself, and really, Pearl wasn’t bothered by the mistake.  “It didn’t hurt. Let’s starts again. This time don’t think too much about it.”

 

Orange blushed, sheepishly questioning, “You can tell?”

 

Pearl chuckled, “You get this little line,” she reached up before she could stop to really think about the action, rubbing gently at the small line that had formed between her eyebrows, “just here. You look very serious.”

 

Her voice was quieter than Pearl had anticipated, “I don’t want to mess this up.”

 

“You won’t.” she reassured, gently guiding Orange into a new starting position before giving back the lead to her, “Relax. You’re not being judged here.”

 

Orange took a deep breath, her eyes falling closed, not realizing Pearl was watching her the entire time before she blinked them open again, her eyes sharp once more, “Okay. Let’s start again.”

 

This time Pearl was fully aware of their steps, of Orange’s closeness, of every touch and slide of hands. Of the way the much larger gem moved, grace defying her size, the poise she didn’t believe she had, but was most certainly there when she wasn’t overthinking every little thing. Pearl smiled, going unnoticed as Orange ran through their well practiced dance. She enjoyed this time more than she probably should, not that she really should be alone with the young diamond to begin with, but it was a pleasant, mostly innocent taboo, one she did not ever wish to give up. The friendship and trust she had built up with Orange was more than worth the potiential threat of her own Diamond finding out. A risk she was willing to take, despite her fears. It was only when they were slowing, Orange’s feet chasing after hers in a languid pace as their dance had devolved from their intense routine to just slow dancing, that Pearl spoke, breaking the tense atmosphere that had settled over them ever since they had begun their dance, “Please be safe, while you're away.”

 

“I will.” Orange’s seriousness had fallen away into her kinder demeanor, the one Pearl had become accustomed to, and the sweet Orange Diamond she had become familiarized to being herself with. “When I get back, we should go watch a sunrise from the palace balcony. We haven’t had the chance to do that yet.”

 

“I look forward to it.” Pearl smiled at the suggestion, and the promise of another long night when they were finally back together. She could only imagine the stories Orange would have for her when she returned.

 

“I’ll bring you something back.” Orange continued, tilting her chin down to look at her, and Pearl looked up to meet her gaze.

 

“You don’t have to do that.”

 

“I don’t,” Orange agreed, “but I want to.”

 

“Please, nothing thats alive.” Pearl shuttered.

 

“Hahah!” Orange laughed hardily, pulling Pearl away from thoughts she no longer wished to dwell on, “Okay. I’ll make sure it’s something you’ll love, though. I like to think I know you pretty well.”

 

Pearl smiled despite herself, “You do.”

Chapter Text

Orange stood with 5XP and 7XP, chatting quietly as they waited in the lower levels of White’s palace, Orange’s eyes turning to the doors every few moments in anticipation of her escort to the ship that would take her to Blue Diamond. She would be flying with a crew piloted by a Nephrite she wasn’t familiar with, one of Blue’s, who would also be taking her to Yellow’s colony later in the month. But what really excited her was that she’d be going alone, without an escort guard. While she would certainly miss her new friends, the freedom of being without guards called to her more than she was prepared for. It wouldn’t be like losing them in the palace halls or when it was just the Pearls escorting her. She’d be on her own, no protection, no bulky guards blocking her view, or advising her about things she honestly didn’t care about. Just her, the ship’s captain and her crew, none of which were made for fighting. The anticipation made her antsy, and the Carnelian’s were too polite to tell her her fidgeting was annoying, so they had started a conversation to distract her, but she had gotten lost in their banter, somewhere between the latest gladiator fights at the arena and the new Howlites that had apparently taken up residency in White’s palace. For what, she didn’t know. She was simply content to sit there, her legs crossed and foot wagging to a random beat as she faded in and out of the conversation, solely watching the doors now.

 

Her impatience to leave was only made worse by her tiredness. She had stayed up so late with Pearl, she hadn’t actually crawled into her own bed until after the sun had partially risen, and then she was being awoken all too soon. She was somewhat grouchy, but mostly just anxious. The prospect of seeing Blue, being away from Pearl for the first time in a long time, being on her own, and going to see a new colony being made. All combined together made for an itching feeling to build under her skin, making her want to get up and move to walk it out, but at the same time the mere thought of moving like that reminded her how tired she was, and reconsidered expending the energy she did have. She wouldn’t complain if she was given another bowl of tablets just to munch on until she had to leave. 5XP had expressed an interest in the tablets, and eating as a whole, and while she had spit out the tablets after putting them in her mouth, which made 7XP gag, they both had begun to question what else could be found to try on Homeworld. Perhaps she could send one of them to get some tablets, give her something to mess with to keep her eyes from trying to close while she just sat here.

 

It took Orange longer than she would care to admit to notice that the Carnelians had stopped talking, standing beside her rigidly and facing to her right. They weren’t saluting, but they were certainly in formation, as if facing a superior. Looking over, Orange blinked in surprise as she met Pearl’s pale grey eyes, that serious expression of White’s Pearl, not her Pearl, flattened out her soft features, blank and yet severe. It was an expression that commanded respect, in the name of their greatest leader. It even made her sit up a little straighter under its power.

 

“Ma’am.” 7XP acknowledged Pearl, 5XP following her lead a moment later.

 

“Ma’am.”

 

“Pearl?” Orange questioned as she stopped a distance from them, giving Orange a bowed diamond salute.

 

“White Diamond wishes to see you before you leave, my clarity.” Pearl respond, not straightening up until Orange acknowledged her again.

 

“White? Do you know what she wants?” She asked, standing up and subtly stretching out the tiredness in her limbs, preparing for a walk through the palace and headship.

 

Pearl’s hands fell to a clasped position in front of her, “No, my Diamond.”

 

“I’ll return, soon. Wait here.” The young diamond ordered the two Carnelians, who saluted her in perfect unison.

 

“Yes, my Diamond!”

 

Orange motioned for Pearl to lead the way. “Okay, let’s go.”

 

Orange did not mind the lack of small talk, their long night together had been enough, and the silence she knew was more out of Pearl’s professional attitude than anything to do with her. Orange waited in anxious silence as Pearl opened the doors to White’s command room, the brightness of the room, or more specifically White, was not incredibly welcomed by her eyes, but she certainly wasn’t going to voice this temporary discomfort.

 

“White?” Orange questioned as she approached the eldest Diamond, “Is everything okay?”

 

Orange had to push down the fear that White was canceling her plans, because she knew that wasn’t rational, at least now with White Diamond. White didn’t do things last minute and White knew what this meant to her. She, of all people, wouldn’t take this from her.

 

“Everything is fine, my little gemling.” White smiled down on Orange, “I wished to see you before you left.”

 

Orange was a bit speechless at this. White wasn’t exactly one to do send offs, and normally would have said her goodbyes the day before, especially when the day was already beginning in the city. It certainly made Orange feel special that White had put her own work off to see her before she left for two months. It’s not like that was a long time for someone as old as her. But, no matter what it was, it made Orange feel flattered and she smiled all the same, matching White’s beaming smile with one of her own- minus the actual light, of course. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

 

White regarded her with a vaguely veiled look of curiosity, “You still plan to return to me? You have not tired of Homeworld and my palace?”

 

“Of course. I...” Orange paused, her yes flicking down to the floor in her embrassment, and even a pinch of shame, “I enjoy my time here, with you, White.” She forced herself to look up at White, meeting that kind look she liked to believe White reserved just for her. “I don’t think I’ve ever told you. I’m sorry.”

 

White picked up Orange, her nails pointed away from her in a very well practiced maneuver, gently placing her into her other hand, palm open and facing up, a sturdy platform for her to stand on safely so she was eyelevel with White. “I enjoy having you here as well, my little gemling. It is a welcome feeling I have forgotten, having willing company.” 

 

Up so close, Orange could see every detail of White’s face, and her pale eyes that were normally lost in the bright luminescence that was her. Up this close, not even White could hide the softness of her gaze as she met Orange’s, the way the much smaller diamond was able to read her and see the small lines under her eyes that Orange had come to associate with when one overworked themselves, and the tension of her upper body as she held herself up right. Orange felt bad for White, in that moment. She looked weary, and it was well hidden in her poise and constant smiles, in the curves and brightness that normally distract everyone else. Orange had seen that same look on Yellow, the one she blocked out with annoyance and angry snarls, so no one but those she trusted the most could even chance catching a glimpse. 

 

Orange felt a certain bit of privilege to be able to see this side of them, and she didn’t know if White had intended for her to see underneath her mask, but she had, and she held even more respect for the gem in front of her. She who would bare the title of head of their Diamond Authority, founder and leader to Homeworld. 

 

White used her free hand to affectionately pet the back of Orange’s head, “It is always wonderful to have you here with me.”

 

Orange never took the time to think about how alone White must feel here, always on Homeworld while everyone else was traversing the stars. Did she await everyone’s return, a welcome to see her family coming home? Orange was so excited about leaving, she had never considered there was anyone else but her small circle of friends that would genuinely miss her.

 

So when she was held so close to White’s face, she acted on an old habit she had stopped doing since she had gotten bigger. She leaned forward, bumping her head against White’s, at first startling the eldest diamond before she chuckled softly, accepting the soft head bump so close to her gem. A charming tradition they hadn’t done in a long time, that seemed to cheer White up from whatever had been bugging her that morning before Orange had arrived. 

 

As a child, Orange had used to attempt to hug White’s face, eventually settling for nuzzling her head against her own as a way to avoid any unwanted limbs in eyes, or painfully banging into gems. 

 

So close to White’s face, Orange kept her voice low and soft, carrying her love for the eldest gem with it, “I’ll be back before you can even miss me.”

 

“Very well. I wish you well, Orange Diamond.” White pulled away, Orange righted herself, sitting back on her knees with such a large smile on her face that knew she would feel it in her cheeks later. “Enjoy your time with Blue and Yellow.”

 

“I will.” Orange was a little surprised when White didn’t set her down, instead holding her for a little longer, so Orange continued talking to fill the silence. “Blue is going to let me see her Tanzanite colony start it’s Prime kindergarten. I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works outside of a detailed explanation. Recordings just don’t compare to personally seeing things.”

 

White Diamond chuckled, “You will make a fine Diamond one day, with that keen interest of yours.”

 

“I know.” Orange grinned, feeling quite pleased with herself at gaining a complement like that from White. “I’ve begun to look forward to when I’ll have that chance to have my own colony.”

 

White tucked her head down a notch, settling Orange with a slightly more serious expression, but the warmth from their interaction was still plain to see. “That’s a far away time. You should concentrate on now.”

 

“I know.” The younger Diamond nodded, “But I still look forward to it all the same.”

 

White gave her a nod, of acknowledgment or agreement, she wasn’t sure, and leaned forward to set her down, Orange jumping off part way as she had started to do, enjoying to little rush of the fall, her feet hitting the floor with a tatt! that echoed in the command room. “Go,” White urged, ”Your ship will be waiting for you, and a Diamond is never late.”

 

Orange turned to look at White over her shoulder, offering her an enthusiastic wave of her hand, “Goodbye, White. I’ll miss you while I’m away.”

 

White returned the gesture with a languid one of her own, a mere wave across the space in front of her instead of Orange’s more hardy one, “I will see you when you return, Orange Diamond.”

 

The walk back was just as silent as the arrival, and it wasn’t long until Orange was standing before the doors that separated her from where she had left the Carnelian’s, stopping to face Pearl, who did the same with her, that mask of seriousness wavering slightly under her companion’s contagious smile. “Goodbye, Pearl.” Orange whispered.

 

“Goodbye, Orange Diamond. Homeworld will await your return.” Pearl responded, her eyes telling Orange all the things she couldn’t say.

 


 

Orange stood next to the Nephrite captain, who to her credit, seemed abnormally relaxed with her so near. Her shoulders were squared, her arms folded behind her back, but she still seemed quite at ease. This was her domain, and Orange was simply a very special guest along for the ride. 

 

After she had typed something unknown into the screen in front of her chair, more than likely orders or a log, she turned to face Orange, bowing at the waist and holding a hand out in gesture to the empty captain’s seat. “If you would like to take my seat, my clarity, please do.”

 

Orange contemplated telling her no, that it was her ship, but then she thought better of it. She was a Diamond, and she couldn’t be friendly with everyone she interacted with, and it would hardly be right for her to remain standing the entire ride. “I will.” Orange nodded, maneuvering around the Nephrite and taking the offered seat, Orange being reminded she wasn’t such a small gem anymore when she felt the need to cross her legs just to feel like she wasn’t being squished.

 

Nephrite was obviously pleased with her choice, Orange recalling how fanatical gems could be when a diamond interacted with things, especially things they used personally. It was probably an honor to the captain to have a diamond in her chair.

 

Nephrite was eager to bark out orders to her crew, and Orange got the impression she was showing off when the gems under her command already seemed to be doing what she was shouting orders about, but she could have also been making sure everything went smoothly. It could cost her her rank if something happened with a diamond on board, and Orange wondered how far up the chain she actually was. Far enough to escort a diamond across open space, she supposed.

 

Nephrite was the model of a perfect underling, her back ramrod straight and arms drew behind her, standing next to Orange beside the chair, but never close enough as if she were equal to her. “We will arrive at Blue Diamond’s colony within the day, my Diamond. Please, if you need anything, you need only ask.”

 

“Good.” Orange said rigidly, feeling awkward as she attempted to channel Yellow Diamond’s personality, and felt weirdly like she was playing pretend with Pink’s Pearl again. “I expect your crew will preform admirably, especially if you were hand picked by Blue Diamond. They seem to be very well disciplined under your command.”

 

Orange could practically see the Nephrite preening under her phrasing words, and she felt a little more confident in dealing with this unknown gem.

 

“Of course, my Diamond! They are the best of the best. Only the finest of gems to escort you, my Clarity.”

 

To say the ride to Blue’s colony in the Hyperes system was uneventful would be a lie. Sure, nothing actually happened, but Orange loved the view all the same. New stars, unknown and unexplored planets and asteroids, obviously not suitable for the Empire if they were not on the chart, but they were a sight to see none the less. They had even passed by a stellar nursery, far off in the distance, but eye catching and breath stealing for someone like her. She got the distinct impression the crew were slightly less enthused than her, but she was hardly going to let them ruin her outing.

 

Her sightseeing was only ended when they neared Blue’s colony and the viewing screen had to be replaced by the face of some no name Larimar, who had to double check their ship was who they identified themselves to be, and then to put on all the airs as she recognized it as a ship transporting a Diamond. Afterwards, it was watching the crew navigate the gravity of the moon Blue’s base was on, eyes flicking from one gem to another, trying to catch everything they were all doing all at once.

 

Sure, Orange knew how to fly a ship like this, courtesy of Yellow, but it was an another thing to see experienced gems like this in their home court. This was their job, their purpose. No one would be better, except maybe another gem who held that same position.

 

Upon entry, Orange concentrated on the world they were landing on, a rugged, rocky world, that lacked so much vegetation and life that it appeared completely desolate and inhospitable. It was made up of mountain ridges, and deep crags, pits and craters were the planet had been hit by meteors, one so massive Orange could spot where a large, deep scar ran through a mountain, carving an oblong path through its surface. Clouds clung and clumped together to cover parts of the barren earth, peaks of snow and ice poking through like razors.

 

Directly in front of them was the sole life to the planet, Blue’s moon base. It was smaller, in comparison to some of the ones Orange had been to before, but it was still a sight to behold, sparkling metal buildings to house the necessary gems that remained on base at all times, others that would be down on the planet, deployed to set up the kindergartens. Blue’s building, the centerpiece to the small cluster of buildings, was light in color, the soft blue glass dome on top almost completely washed out in the light of the system’s sun.

 

Landing was smooth, with minimal orders from the Captain, her crew knew what they were doing, and despite what must have been her best efforts, the Captain looked to be relieved to have finally reached their destination.

 

The Captain was the first out the door, checking everything was clear before returning and bowing to Orange, gesturing for her to step out. “My Diamond.”

 

Orange stood at the open doorway, over the ramp where Nephrite stood bowed to her, taking in the sight of the base. Her eyes zeroed in on the cluster of gems in front of the base, lined in formation and saluting. A welcome for her. Just behind them, the imposing figure of Blue diamond stood, her hands clasped together in front of her, watery blue eyes focused solely on her. Beside her was her Pearl, as poised and demure as Orange remembered her to be.

 

“Blue!” Orange yelled, ignoring the way the Nephrite beside her jumped, running down the ramp towards the elder diamond, all pretense of acting poised in front of the ship’s crew and everyone gone the moment she had spotted her.

 

Blue bowed down, arms outstretched to receive her, catching her in her hands and pulling her into a fierce hug, her cheek rubbing against the top of Orange’s head as she poured over her with affection and tears. “Orange! Oh, Orange. I’m so happy to see you.”

 

Orange wrapped her arms tightly around Blue’s neck, holding on as she buried her head against her own, tears pooling in her own eyes. “I’ve missed you Blue.”

 

After a lot more blubbering on both Diamond’s parts, Orange allowed Blue to carry her inside, sitting comfortably on her forearm as the larger diamond held her close to her chest. Pearl walked in front of them, as to open the sealed doors for her Diamond, leading the way inside.

 

Blue ran a gentle hand over the back of Orange’s hair, smiling at her fondly when she made to brush it back into place with reddened cheek. “You look so well. And you’ve grown.”

 

Orange glanced down at herself, not even White had noted that little change, not that it was really a big one, and she had begun to think maybe she was imagining it. “Just a little growth spurt. It’s nothing.” Orange tried to wave off.

 

“It’s not nothing.” Blue shook her head, her free hand going up to cup the side of her own face as she sighed, “Oh, soon you won’t even fit in my hand.”

 

“I’m not even as big as Pink, yet.” Orange pursed her lips, she had mixed feelings about her height. She was already as tall as their largest Quartz, but still shorter than Pink Diamond, still tiny in comparison to the others. Orange glanced up, her eyes flicked over Blue’s taunt features, offering her a smile to try and calm her distress. “But, I can still get hugs.” 

 

Blue wiped at the last traces of tears in her eyes, smiling down at Orange, “You always know how to make me smile.”

 

“I like to think it’s one of my many talents.”

 

“Your still quite boastful.” Blue chuckled, “I feared…” the older Diamond’s eyes flicked away from the gem in her arms, her smile slipping into a more somber expression than Orange had expected to see today. “I feared after staying with White...and after what happened....” Blue Diamond’s voice trailed off, as more tears suddenly started to stream down her cheeks.

 

Orange blinked, looking down as she reached up, touching the tips of her fingers to her cheeks and feeling that they were wet. Taking a deep breath, ignoring the tears that were falling from her own eyes because of Blue, the younger Diamond reached up and gently touch her jaw, as it was as far as her hand could get, and pulling her attention back to her.

 

“It’s okay Blue, really.” Orange grinned a wide, toothy smile that she knew would reassure the incredibly empathic Diamond holding her, “It wasn’t so bad, and look,” Orange held her other hand up, away from herself and Blue, allowing her hand to glow brightly with an orange flare that licked at the air, “I can control myself a lot better, isn’t this neat? I can’t wait to show Yellow.”

 

Blue gasped, her mood shifting from upset to amazement rapidly as she watched Orange roll her fingers, making the aura of light around her flip and move before finally extinguishing it. Blue’s eyes were practically shining in awe at the little gem in her arms, “Look at you. I’m so proud of you, Orange!”

 

“Really?” Orange breathed out, always surprised when she heard that word directed at her.

 

“Of course I am.” Blue brushed the long bangs that fell into her face back, it immediately falling back into place, “You’ve come so far from that little gem who threw a fit when Pink had to be separated from you for the first time. I didn’t think I’d ever get you to stop crying.”

 

Orange’s cheeks lit up and she tucked her chin down, adverting her eyes from her fellow Diamond’s, “Please, Blue. That’s embarrassing.”

 

Chuckling softly, Blue looked away briefly as she followed Pearl into the next room, the main level of the moon base, and taking the staircase to the upper levels. “Is it? Oh, and I only have so long with you, then you’ll be back on Homeworld. I’ve become so used to having you around at this time of year.”

 

“We can visit when you return to Homeworld, Blue.” Orange reminded her gently, “And, I’m only a call away.”

 

This seemed to comfort Blue considerably, if her wide smile was anything to go by. “That’s true. Thank you, Orange.”

 

“I don’t like it when you cry. So, let’s not dwell on what we wish wasn’t changing.” Orange looked behind her, twisting slightly to look up the remaining stairs. “Isn’t your colony waiting for you to start the kindergarten?”

 

Blue’s mouth fell open into an ‘O’ shape, looking incredibly surprised. “Oh! Let’s hurry, you wanted to see them set up the injectors, didn’t you?”

 

Orange held on a little tighter as Blue ascended the stairs a little bit faster than before, her tone curious as she asked, “Yes. Are the Lapis Lazulis done? Have I missed them?”

 

“They have moved on to the next part of the planet. Unfortunately not every part of this planet is viable.” She responded, entering the open room on the second level, a very familiar orb levitated off its raised platform, white and glowing in the dim blue light of its base.

 

Orange couldn’t stop the disappointed frown forming on her lips at the news, “Oh. That’s an unfortunate waste.”

 

Blue chuckled, “That is what Yellow said.”

 

Blue, with a very well practiced move, bent over, lowering enough for Orange to safely slip from her arm and land on the floor. Cocking her head back, Orange looked up at Blue, her cheeks tinted slightly as she rubbed at the back of her neck. “I guess I’ve picked up more from her than I thought.”

 

“She’d like that you see it the same way.” Blue Diamond turned to the orb before them, Pearl waiting In front of it, her hands clasped together and head bowed in respect, silently waiting for them. “Come,” Blue guided her to the viewing Orb. “Look.”

 

They both waited as Pearl interacted with the orb, a quick series of flicks with her hand brought about at first the orb lighting up in a brilliant blue, taking on the outline of the planet Blue Diamond was colonizing, it’s continents being outline across the globe before it dissipated into pure light, projecting outward until it filled the room with a view on the planet. Orange didn’t know where, exactly, but it was barren and rocky, just in the distance was a view of a cliff side, dropping off into the planet’s ocean. The water reflected the sun on the black water, turning it an interesting greenish color. 

 

Another flick of Pearl’s hand, and they were given an aerial view. Looking around, Orange observed they were actually standing on a high cliff that dropped incredibly far down, enough that it had Orange stepping back in caution, even though she wouldn’t actually fall. Movement ahead of her caught her attention and her head snapped up, her eyes going wide and mouth falling open at the sight before them.

 

Flying in the air above the organic ladened plateau, were at least a dozen blue colored gems, all with large wings made of moving water, swishing through the air around one another. They grouped into threes, working together as they rose water around them from a nearby stream that cut through the bedrock, flooding the area repeatedly. Orange could make out an area they had already moved on from, and an area they had partially finished. The organic plant matter had been soaked until the loose soil had become so soddened that it had been ripped up and dispersed from its original growth. Other groups of Lapis Lazuli were coming through the cleared, muddy areas, using their powers to work crevasses into the very earthen foundations the others had cleared. Behind even them were deeper cuts in the rock, baring drier, craggy rock of the planet to the air. It would not be long before they had created complete chasms in this section.

 

Orange made an unintelligible noise of awe from her open mouth, “The Lapis are amazing.”

 

Blue Diamond’s eyes swept over the working gem approvingly, “They are quite useful for terraforming these areas.”

 

“They’re clearing out the heavily forested areas, aren’t they? Preparing them to be made into kindergartens?” Orange turned to look up at Blue, wanting to reaffirm what she believed to be happening.

 

Blue turned her head, nodding her head once, “Yes. This planet is so heavy with plant material, in comparison to its moon. It is all in the way.”

 

Orange turned back to the Lapis Lazuli, a little envious as she watched them soaring over the open area. “Do you think I could meet some?”

 

“Of the Lapis Lazuli?” Blue’s voice was full of incredulousness that the younger Diamond didn’t catch right away.

 

“Yeah.” Orange grinned, “I haven’t seen any on Homeworld.”

 

“Of course not,” Blue chuckled, “Most are deployed for our colonies, there is no need for them to be on Homeworld for long.”

 

The younger gem raised an eyebrow, “So I can meet some?”

 

Blue looked away, unwilling to meet Orange’s curious eyes. “I can’t promise that Orange.”

 

Orange shrugged, “Maybe we can go down to the planet then. That would be easier, wouldn’t it?”

 

Orange took a step back when Blue’s face morphed from pointed evasion to alarmed, if not verging on frustrated annoyance. “Absolutely not. That’s dangerous, Orange. You could get hurt.”

 

Orange looked away from Blue’s intense eyes, her mouth turning down, “Okay.”

 

Blue sighed, reaching forward to touch the top of the youngest Diamond’s head, turning her attention back to her, “I know you want to see. Please be patient.” Blue did not wait for Orange to respond, motioning towards Pearl with her other hand, “Now, let’s move to the Prime Kindergarten site.”

 

Orange’s eyes lit up as she watched the projection around them change to a much more rocky area, flat faces of rock, the lines of sediment in layers making a beautiful contrast against darker rock. Around the area were gems moving around with giant injectors, long tubeular machines moving slowly across the surface on metal legs. The giant gem shaped structures on top glittered in the heavy light of the planet. Some of the injectors were stationary while others were already drawing up the rock face, stopping to drill into the rock and place within the material that would eventually form a new gem.

 

“It’s amazing.” Orange’s eyes sparkled, allowing the moment that had just occurred to slip to the back of her mind in favor of what she was seeing now.

 

“It is, isn’t it?” Blue hummed, “Bringing life to such a desolate place.”

 

Orange paused, before turning to look over her shoulder at Blue, “Are you sure we can’t go down?”

 

Blue narrowed her eyes at the younger gem, her tone taking on the slightly whining sound Orange recognized when Blue’s patience was wearing thin, and she was pushing her luck. “Orange.”

 

The younger gem tried not to show her disappointment, looking away so she couldn’t see her face and keeping her voice light, if slightly joking, as if she was speaking with the Carnelians. “Okay. I had to ask.”

 

“You’re so adorable.” Blue breathed out in an awed tone, a complete change from her frustration a moment before, “Your curiosity is so endearing.”

 

“Adorable?” Orange’s voice was slightly higher pitched, her face scrunching up at the word, unable to hide the annoyance that tinged her voice as she turned back to her, “I’m not really a kid anymore, Blue.”

 

“Oh, but your still so...” Blue paused, and Orange knew she was rethinking what she was going to say, “you’re very young to me, Orange. Believe me, when your centuries older, you’ll feel that way to younger gems too.”

 

“Hmm.” Orange hummed, her lips pursed in her annoyance. 

 

“Don’t pout.” Blue’s tone had taken on that authoritative tone she rarely used with the younger Diamond, but had obviously foreseen a worsening outcome if she didn’t try to reign Orange in now. “Now, you’ve seen the kindergarten. How about a tour of the rest of the base?” Blue turned before Orange could even agree, Pearl hurrying to turn the observation orb off so she could keep with Blue Diamond.

 

Orange remained watching the scene of the kindergarten until it faded away. From the corner of her eyes, she could see Pearl pause to reguard her with an unreadable look before she had to move to keep up with her own Diamond. Orange turned around to look as Blue started to walk away from her, obviously believing Orange would already be following her.

 

“Things have been updated recently. I’m sure you’ll like to see it.” Blue said.

 

Orange closed her eyes for a moment before opening them, a smile stretching out on her face. Jogging, she was quick to catch up with the two before Blue could even notice, “Sure, Blue. I’d like that.”

Chapter Text

Not a chapter update, but a pretty awesome announcement.

There is now an ask blog!

Come ask Orange Diamond, Pearl, and co. whatever you want.

 

https://ask-orange-diamond-and-pearl.tumblr.com

 

There is also my own blog, where you can talk to me, and see behind the scene things for Stars and Diamonds, and spoilers for future things.

 

https://greenendai.tumblr.com

Chapter Text

Pearl was quiet as she moved down the stairs, arms clasped in front of her as she normally had them, not in much of a rush at all, even though her Diamond had ordered her to check up on Orange Diamond. Her Diamond was busy organizing and overseeing the kindergartens and terraforming efforts, and the younger Diamond had taken the opportunity to retreat away from them today, slinking off for time by herself, which Blue Diamond hadn’t objected to. Pearl could tell her Diamond’s patience was running more thin than normal, not that Orange was making it easy. One moment Orange would attempt to assert her interest in something, only to give into her Diamond’s wishes the next when it was deemed dangerous or beneath her, rarely pushing back, and every time she did push, Pearl watched as Orange pull back just a little bit more into herself when Blue Diamond would become irritable. That genuine smile she had arrived with becoming something much more forced than Pearl thought should be there on such a normally happy gem.

 

But Orange wasn’t the same gem she had last seen, she supposed. She had witnessed Orange Diamond shattering her own Pearl, had seen the hollow look in her eyes as she traveled with Blue Diamond as she and Yellow Diamond escorted her back to Homeworld, not seeming to really be present as Blue held her and eventually had to be forced by Yellow to give her to White. She had been by her Diamond’s side as she broke down at having to send Orange to White Diamond, and the relief when Orange had finally called. She could clearly remember the alarming off-color look of the young gem’s face when she had called two weeks before she had arrived. Pearl had been around for a long time, had served Blue Diamond for far too long to know what a gem looked like that had something taken from her that would never be returned. Something had been changed in the Orange Diamond that she knew, but she had yet to determine if it was for the best or not.

 

Not many gems worked in Blue Diamond’s moon base spire, and thus it was quite silent inside the building itself, with little risk to actually be bothered by anyone the Diamond’s hadn’t already deemed important enough to be inside. The only real sound came from the light taps of her feet as she made her way to the second level of the spire where she knew Orange would still be. Her Diamond hadn’t outright forbid Orange Diamond from going down to the colony, but it had been clear she would never approve it, and while Blue Diamond seemed to be mostly oblivious to Orange’s changing mood, Pearl, as a bystander, could clearly see the forced smile the younger Diamond had been wearing every time something related to the subject came up. But while she may observe such things, it was not her place to comment on it, or to inform her Diamond. Orange did not speak up, so Pearl would not say anything either. She had witnessed Orange growing more and more restless as the days went on, and the euphoria of being here began to fade. The initial excitement to be back with Blue Diamond had kept her fellow gem content to remain in the spire, and her Diamond believed things would be returning back to how they were before the whole incident on Pink Diamond’s station. 

 

But Pearl had already seen how Orange Diamond was no longer content to remain inside, and no longer satisfied to live vicariously through the observation orbs and through her imagination and second hand stories. Pearl could remember long days of simply interacting with the observation orb to entertain the young diamond, until she had figured out how to do it herself, and then Pearl had simply become company instead of a helper. She could recall the warm feeling that had taken her when Orange had looked at her as more than a servant, in those small moments when she wasn’t just Blue Diamond’s Pearl, she was also Pearl, Orange Diamond’s friend. She wondered if that might have changed too. Orange and she hadn’t had much time to interact alone, and when they did have time, Pearl could read the tired line of her body, the way she wanted nothing more than to retreat to her room to be away from it all. Pearl would simply act as quiet company then, light conversation when it seemed appropriate, but it was mostly wanting to be locked away, until she would come back recharged the next day. But Pearl could see it in her eyes, the clenching of her hands when she didn’t think anyone else was looking, the quick intake and exhale of breath, the tensing of her jaw. She was pushing her emotions down, and Pearl didn’t believe she would last long before she exploded, and she simply wondered if it would be Blue Diamond or an unwitting gem on the compound that would be at the end of that pointed wrath when it did finally spill over.

 

Arriving on the second level, Pearl stepped off the last step and turned into the partially open room. She could already see the projection of an unknown location of the colony. Standing at the entrance, Pearl took in the sight of Orange Diamond sitting on the floor, the projection putting her in what Pearl had thought was the setting of a heavily forested area the Lapis Lazulis hadn’t gotten to yet, but realized her mistake when light washed over Orange in vague diamond shaped patterns, bubbles slipping by her as a large, bioluminescent creature seemed to levitate overhead. It had hundreds of thread like feelers coming from its body, the main section of which seemed to swish around it, much like Pearl’s own skirt did. It was an odd creature she had never seen before, but it was stunning to see in the mostly black abyss the room was cast into.

 

“I thought you might be watching the sunset, my Clarity.” Pearl remarked casually as she walked into the room, gaining the younger gem's attention so she knew she was there. Half turned around, Pearl could now see Orange had a screen in front of her, a partially drawn scene had been sketched out onto the diamond display. Orange stared at her for a moment, before turning back to the scene before her. “I had been, but...I needed a change of scenery. And look at this place? It’s amazing. I can only imagine the things I could find here.”

 

Pearl stopped a few steps back from the younger gem out of respect, “I can imagine you would find a lot, my Diamond.”

 

Another wave of light that, combined with the creature, allowed Pearl to see as Orange’s hand that had been about to add another line hovered over the screen, and Pearl was surprised when Orange turned around to look at her with large, round eyes, an expression on her face as if Pearl had just personally insulted her.

 

“Is everything okay, Pearl? You...you normally call me Orange.”

 

Pearl tucked her chin down, bowing under her stare, “Forgive me, if I’ve upset you. You seem…I was unsure where we stood, and I would not assume.”

 

“Friends.” Orange clarified, nodding her head once as if to confirm this with herself. She motioned for Pearl to come closer while turning back to her screen. “Why would you think that’s changed?” 

 

Pearl stepped closer, cautious as the room became dark and then lit up again in another wash of diamond patterns. She watched over her shoulder as she drew out the shape of the creature’s main body and a few lines that represented the creatures many, many limbs. “You seemed distant. I did not wish to presume things were still as they were before.”

 

Things were silent and Pearl wished they were in a brighter setting so she didn’t have to rely on the shining creature and the untimed washes of light from above just to make out the expression on the younger gem’s face. But perhaps that had been what Orange had wanted. A place where she didn’t have to worry about being seen, and Pearl was intruding.

 

“It’s alright. I have been...I’ve been less than friendly to you, Pearl. I’m sorry. I’ve been so caught up in Blue Diamond, and trying to get what I wanted, I’ve neglected you.”

 

Pearl couldn’t see, but based on her voice, she knew she had turned her head away again.

 

“I seem to be doing that a lot, lately.”

 

“What?” Pearl questioned lightly, cautiously taking a seat on the floor beside the young diamond, considering she couldn’t see much but barely there outlines of things.

 

“Neglecting things. My friends, my work, everything. I keep trying to get Blue to just...listen to me, I’ve been so focused. Too focused, maybe. It’s all wearing on me.”

 

“You are tired of being here?” Pearl asked, looking up as the creature was now overhead, completely unaware of them, and the way its tentacles floated dangerously close to them. If she reached up only a little, her fingers would pass through its projected limbs.

 

“I’m...I want to go and see. I’ve been doing a lot on Homeworld, I don’t just stay in one place there. I get to see things, I know so many people there, and to suddenly be put back into this....this,” Pearl was able to see Orange make a sweeping motion around them, and she wasn’t sure if she meant the observation room, or the situation as a whole, “I hate it. It feels like I’m being caged, and it’s making me restless. I feel confined, like I’m being forced to take steps back and it’s making me want to scream.”

 

Pearl wasn’t sure what to say to that, turning to watch as Orange stared up at the creature, her front glowing in its light, and she could see her eyebrows pinched as this look of defeat crossed her face.

 

“I was so excited to see Blue, to be on my own for a little bit and see everyone again, but this doesn’t...feel right.” Orange chuckled, and Pearl could hear how hollow it was, but Orange hadn’t given her a chance to respond before she could hear her moving, and a moment later Orange was being illuminated by the orb as she put her hand to it, the scenery around her changing into a much brighter setting.

 

Around them was an open field, much more lit by the sky and still heavily filled with organic plant life on one side. On the other, the vegetation had been cut back, and Lapis Lazulis could be seen clearing a path through it. Orange speaking up brought Pearl’s attention back to her.

 

“Sorry, I think I’m more tired than I thought, and I skipped a meal already. It must be getting to me, i didn’t mean to unload like that.”

 

 Pearl watched as Orange scrubbed a hand over her face as she laughed again, and she looked away to pretend to be looking at the plants around them when she realized Orange was trying to wipe away tears from her eyes so she wouldn’t see.

 

“It’s okay,” Pearl told her gently, “it has been a long day. You have not had a nap.”

 

“I don’t need-“ Orange paused and Pearl looked over to see her face scrunched up as if she was trying to work through a particularly hard problem. “Maybe I do need a nap. I haven’t done naps in a while. A nap and a good meal, I need to take care of myself.”

 

Pearl cocked her head as she realized Orange was speaking to herself, and offered her a kind smile when she looked up blushing as she too realized what she had done.

 

“The new order of supplements will be coming in soon, and I will be able to up your meals to the increments you requested.”

 

Orange scratched the side of her cheek, her eyes adverting from meeting her own in what Pearl assumed to be embarrassment, though she wasn’t sure why. “Yeah, sorry about that. Ever since I started training, I’ve just been consuming a whole lot more. It’s like I can’t get enough.”

 

“White Diamond’s Pearl sent me a message about it, i was already aware. We were simply awaiting the new tablets be made and sent. Yellow Diamond’s Pearl is already aware too.” Pearl explained, and she was surprised by Orange’s face lighting up.

 

“You talked to White’s Pearl?”

 

“It was only a short message, my Diamond, before you even arrived. We are not permitted to speak about anything our Diamond’s have not permitted us to share.”

 

“Oh…” Pearl was even more confused when the excitement slipped from her face at that fact, her head tucking down to partially obscure her face from her view. 

 

“Are you okay?” She questioned after a moment of silence.

 

Orange looked up smiling, and Pearl wasn’t sure if this one was genuine or not, but she could see the way her eyes had lightened, and she hoped getting her feelings off her chest had helped. “Yeah. I’ll be alright. Oh! But look, I have new drawings. We haven’t had a session together in so long.”

 

Pearl waited patiently as Orange came back over to her, sitting beside her and sliding the display over to her.

 

“I’ve been drawing some more again, when I get the chance. Which is a lot more here, that’s a plus. I miss it. I think I’ve improved with landscapes after today.”

 

Pearl took her time going through the saved files on the diamond display, it was an assortment of things, from rough sketches, some of which had been scribbled over in obvious frustration, others, like simple objects, that had been for practice. Then there were pictures mixed in, drawings of a lot of gems that Pearl didn’t recognize, and some that she did. She saw a lot of drawings of the Diamonds, most of which seemed to be from memory. A side view of Yellow diamond working in her chair, Yellow glaring down at the viewer, her fellow Pearl grinning smugly at something off screen, a Carnelian and Moonstone grinning and speaking closely to one another, Topazes sitting with each other on a staircase, talking and seemly oblivious to Orange drawing them, an unknown gem yelling, White Diamond, her Diamond, a half finished picture of Orange Diamond’s Pearl, a self-portrait of Orange with a smug look on her face that Pearl had never seen her make, so she assumed she must have been messing with expressions in a mirror. Most notably, scattered in the drawings, and seeming to be the predominant subject, was her other fellow Pearl. Some seemed to be like the others, drawn from memory, and others looked as if that Pearl had posed for her, a willing subject for Orange to draw.

 

Pearl made no comment until she had gotten to the last drawing she recognized, the one they had been working on together, of Blue Diamond while she worked. “You have gotten better. You don’t seem too bothered by the small mistakes as you used to be.”

 

“You said I had to learn from them. I figured if I couldn’t see where I had messed up, I’d never fix it, so I had to make myself stop scratching them out. I’ve deleted full patches of scratched lines when I was frustrated.”

 

Pearl began to flip back through the pictures again, noting out loud the ones she liked more than the others, and again seeing, now that she had noticed, just how often Orange seemed to have her fellow Pearl as her subject. “You’ve been drawing her a lot.”

 

“What?” Orange’s head tilted in confusion, “Who?”

 

Pearl tilted the screen so she could see an example of one of the pictures she had done, “White Diamond’s Pearl. You have many sketches of her.”

 

“She...” Orange trailed of into silence, her lips pursing as she looked away from Pearl, but she could still see the color change of her cheeks, and the way she was pointedly looking away from her told her more than she probably wanted Pearl to know. “she’s just always around. I thought she’d be a good subject, and she didn’t seem to mind.”

 

Pearl looked at the picture as Orange spoke, and found it interesting the way the younger gem was reacting. “Isn’t this your room?”

 

Orange’s head swiveled around so quickly, Pearl thought she might have hurt herself if Orange didn’t seem so alarmed by her question. “Excuse me?”

 

“The bed you drew.” Pearl was almost hesitant to show Orange her observation of the picture, as the Diamond’s reaction was concerning. 

 

“I...umm.” The blush that had colored her face before color drained away, her bright orange eyes staring at the screen in Pearl’s grasp as her hands curled and then unfurled on her lap.

 

She looked so frightened and embarrassed by Pearl’s accidental findings, she though she looked like she was caught between running away or completely shutting down if Pearl pushed, which Pearl did not want, she hadn’t even meant to lead into such a surprising conversation. “It’s okay. You don’t have to tell me.”

 

“I...” Orange reached forward with both hands outstretched, unwilling to be so forward as to snatch the screen from Pearl’s hands, but looking very much like that’s exactly what she wanted to do. “may I please have that back?”

 

“Of course.” Pearl closed the screen, handing it’s smaller cased form back to Orange, who was quick to shove it into her belt. “I’m sorry.” Pearl said quietly, “I did not mean to make you uncomfortable.”

 

Orange stopped fidgeting with her belt to turn and look at Pearl, her hands coming up to wave negatively at her, “I’m not-you didn’t! It’s just...” Orange’s hands fell into her lap, her mouth forming into a strained frown and Pearl thought she could visibly see her breathing pick up, her hands clenching onto the bottom of her tunic. “She’s kept me company since I’ve been staying with White Diamond. We’ve become really good friends, and I miss her...” Orange looked at Pearl through her eyelashes, “and I don’t want her to get in trouble. I know you have to report things to Blue, Pearl. I’m not stupid.”

 

Pearl tilted her head, quiet a moment as things began to fall into place in her mind and she gave Orange a small smile. “You’ll be back on Homeworld before you know it, and you’ll see her again.”

 

“I know. I keep telling myself that.” Orange leaned back, using one arm to support her while the other came up to cover her eyes, "Ugh, she must think I’m clingy.”

 

“You enjoy her company.” It wasn’t so much a question, but a statement.

 

“Of course.” Orange chuckled awkwardly, her hand falling away from her face and her eyes turning down to meet hers at the odd angle she had made, “It wouldn’t be much of a friendship if I didn’t.”

 

Pearl hummed in agreement, “Do you believe she is clingy for spending that time with you?”

 

Orange was silent for a moment before she hunched forward, her head falling into her hands to covered her face, “I’m beginning to think Pearls just have this natural ability to talk people through problems that should be obvious.”

 

Pearl smiled appreciatively, “We have to have a way with words, or we would not be very effective at our work. Words are all we really have.”

 

Orange looked up from her hands, meeting Pearl’s eyes, pleading, “Please don’t tell Blue about this.”

 

“Tell her what?” Pearl questioned, turning back to the projected scenery.

 

Orange breathed out a quiet laugh, smiling at Pearl’s turned face before turning to look up and watch the Lazulis flying overhead, so free, so unaware of everything else. Orange’s voice was low, a whisper that Pearl had to strain to hear, but made her smile all the same.

 

“Thank you.”

Chapter Text

Orange huffed as she begun another lap around the outer perimeter of the base. Blue had at first found her ‘little routine’ silly, as if Orange was merely a toddler playing around, and this was simply another one of her games she had made up to entertain herself while Blue worked. That annoyed Orange, but she did not waste the effort to correct her. She knew Blue didn’t have to work the way she did to build herself up to be better, it was something natural for her, she had been made perfect. Blue did not have the limitations she did, she couldn’t understand. However, even though she didn’t understand, she thankfully hadn’t tried to stop her either. What she had done is assign her a bunch of guards, however, since she was going outside of the protection of the spire. Said guards had, at first, attempted to keep up with her, and Orange felt like she was almost training with the Topazes again. But eventually they realized she’d just be running consecutive laps around the large buildings, and upon her suggestion, remained waiting by the entrance, watching as she passed them every couple minutes. One had even taken to waving at her and another calling out what number lap she was on, which she appreciated, since she didn’t have to focus on keeping count herself.

 

Rounding the back of the spire, Orange slowed her pace, staring as a large ship was beginning to touch down on the landing pad, obviously coming in when she had been rounding to the back of the compound. Orange stopped moving all together to stand and watch in interest as the entrance opened and a troupe of Rubies filed out, one after the other. None of them were even remotely notable, and Orange quickly wrote them off. She was about to restart her lap when more gems started to depart, a handful of Lapis Lazulis stepping off the ship, speaking with one another and staying close, as the Rubies guided them where to go. 

 

They were interesting gems, all roughly the same height, but they were not incredibly common gems like the Rubies, and thus had minor differences in their appearance. Two stood out to Orange, one who was a darker blue than the others and the only one with yellow-gold markings flecked onto her skin. It made her look elegant, like she could have been a better made gem than the others. The one she walked with, the two of them smiling and laughing together, was more like the others, short dark blue hair, a soft face and eyes, a long dress a darker shade of blue than her skin that fell past her knees. The two stopped following the line of other Lapis Lazulis when the gold flecked one pointed in Orange’s direction and the two turned to look at her. They stared at her, and she realized they must have noticed her staring at them. Hesitantly, Orange raised her hand, giving them a small wave of greeting. Goldie laughed behind her hand, rolling her eyes and grabbing her friend’s hand and pulling her along when she could raised her hand to somewhat return Orange’s wave.

 

Orange was confused by Goldie’s reaction, her eyes following them as they rejoined the others. She had never had someone react like that. Then again, it was more common for people to fawn over her for simply being a Diamond, and while she welcomed the new interactions and responses of people as more and more new gems came into her life, she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to feel about Goldie’s reaction. Why had she rolled her eyes? Had Orange’s staring been considered too rude? Was the waving offensive for their gem type or something?

 

“Weird.” Orange mumbled, turning away from the retreating gems to look at the ship. In a split second decision, Orange walked towards the ship, noting that it blocked her guards view from being able to see her as she came closer to it. She looked around, no one was watching her and it didn’t seem anyone was guarding the ship. The entrance was different, the ramp acting as the door instead of the normal double doors that had an extendable ramp as well, which Orange thought was more sleek. It wasn’t too different from the other colony ships, simply a much smaller scale, obviously meant to be used for transport between the planet and moon base until the warp pads had been installed and tested for use.

 

The ship consisted of a single open room, separated into three sections, the main section being devoted to consoles that were blatantly designed for rubies to pilot, as they were both short and simplistic. On either side of the console section, were seating for gems that would be brought to and from the colony by their Ruby pilots. Looking around, it was certainly an updated model, new in fact. It wasn’t like any other ship she had seen before, so it must have been something just made and was slow to come into circulation amongst the Diamond’s courts. Just looking at it all made Orange smile. She loved seeing the ships, watching them fly in the air, so free and defying of the rules of gravity. They represented everything she wanted, in a compact carrier. She had been so sweet to Yellow, perhaps a bit too much when she thought about it, when the older Diamond had agreed to teach her about flying. It must have been her favorite lessons with Yellow, she paid extra attention to every word and instruction Yellow gave as she personally taught Orange what to do. She didn’t know Yellow knew how to fly the different ships used by the Empire, but when she actually gave it some thought, she should have known Yellow would want to know how her armies and their ships would worked.

 

Staring at the controls, Orange stepped towards them. The controls were just above her knees and she had to bend over more than she would have on a battle ship or a drop ship, certainly not made for gems of her size to pilot. Running her hand gently over the controls, she watched as a screen lit up, displaying some information about the core, the colony, distance to destination, and a few other things Orange recognized.

 

“I could pilot this thing.” Orange whispered, standing up and looking around at the ship again. The temptation to move to the main control, lock the door, and take this pretty thing for a test run was so incredibly powerful, she could almost feel it under her skin like an itch. It’d be simple, the ship would be a simple thing to learn the new changes to, if there actually were any. But what would she do once she did? Get to the outer atmosphere of the planet before she was detained and have to deal with an irate Blue? And she knew it wouldn’t stop there, she knew Yellow would find out and Yellow would be so disappointed her lesson had gone to her stealing a ship from Blue. She couldn’t imagine Pink and White would take her taking the ship for a short joyride any better than them. In fact, she imagined she might be confined to her room by White again if she did, as punishment.

 

The consequences just weren’t worth it, she supposed. Feeling a little more deflated at that realization, Orange stepped off the ship, her hand gripping the doorframe as she stepped off, a little surprised to see the three Rubies there as well, all three staring up at her as she stared back at them.

 

That’s when the one on the far left gasped, loudly exclaiming, “You!”

 

“Me?” Orange blinked, confused.

 

“Yes, you! what are you doing on our ship?” The far right yelled, glaring at her. This riled the middle one up.

 

“Yeah! Ship stealer! We’ll take you to Blue Diamond and she’ll deal with you!”

 

“Yeah!” The right one yelled, thrusting her fist in the air in agreement. It was at this point when the one on the left turned and punched the one in the middle in the arm, causing her to stumble and trip into the right.

 

“Hey!” Middle yelled.

 

Right looked like she was going to lose it as she pushed Middle off her, glaring and waving her fist at Left. “What’s the big deal! You're going to let ship stealer get away!”

 

“You idiots! Don’t you know who that is!?” Left freaked out. It was at this point Middle and Right turned to look at Orange in puzzlement.

 

“I don’t know. Who are you?”

 

“Are you some important gem?” Middle questioned.

 

Right shook her head in the negative, “she doesn’t look familiar to me.”

 

“Could be one of the lead techs down on the colony?”

 

“Nah. Look at her, she doesn’t look smart enough to know how to work an injector, let alone the warp pads.”

 

At this point Orange was simply along for the ride, incredibly amused as she listened to the two Rubies going back and forth while she leaned against the doorway, every now and again looking over at Left Ruby, who’s mouth had long since fallen open at her two teammate’s words, which were, admittedly, getting a bit worse and more insulting the further they got in their speculations.

 

When Left had found whatever was left of her jaw off the ground and had regained her senses, she winded that little fist of her’s back and punched both of the other two Rubies in the head so hard, even Orange flinched. “That’s Orange Diamond!”

 

The two Rubies cries died in their throats as their heads slowly turned to her, their eyes widening as they came to stare at Orange, who was pursing her lips to keep from bursting out laughing at the sight of them. Scrambling over one another, they eventually made a line formation to bow at her, all three looking incredibly upset.

 

“My Diamond!” Middle yelled, saluting her.

 

“Orange Diamond! Forgive me, I had no idea!” Right cried so hard, Orange almost felt bad for having let her go on for so long.

 

“It is an honor, my Diamond!” Left spoke. All three saluted her together, and it was at this point Orange stood up straight, Absolutely toweringover the three Rubies. Orange paused, the thought of wondering if this was how it was for the other Diamonds when they interacted with other gems, if it was as weird for them to look down on their gems like this as it felt for her.

 

“Alright, Alright. Let’s calm down.” Orange held up her hands, trying to placate the three Rubies before they could burst into actual tears. “Please stop.”

 

“Oh, forgive us!”

 

“We’re just Rubies!”

 

Orange frowned, now getting annoyed as the Rubies continued on, not listening to her as she tried to quiet them, other gems in the vicinity starting to stare at the scene they were making.

 

“Yeah! We didn’t mean it!” Middle yelled.

 

Right was quick to join in with Middle, “We didn’t know any better. I didn’t even know there was a new diamond!”

 

“Yeah! I had no clue! Forgive us!”

 

“We-“

 

“Enough! I said be quiet!” Orange’s raised voice carried around this side of the compound and multiple gems that had been ignoring them stopped to turn and watch as Orange glared down furiously at the two Rubies that simply wouldn’t shut up.

 

“My Diamond!”

 

“That was Orange Diamond!”

 

“Where is she!? Find her!”

 

The cornucopia of voices caught Orange’s attention and she looked up, her eyes widening as what she had done started to sink in, her eyes flicking from the three Rubies faces, each looking terrified she was about to shatter them, and then to the faces of other gems that were standing around, watching her and the three Rubies with vaguely veiled interest.

 

Rounding the corner of the ship, three guards came into view, all seeming to spot her at the same time when they began to converge onto her spot.

 

“Over here!” One called over her shoulder, summoning the others.

 

“Orange Diamond!” Another yelled over all the noise.

 

By the time Orange had pulled herself together, standing up straighter and keeping her face a neutral mask now that she realized a lot of eyes were on her, more eyes than she was used to, there were a total of five guards standing around her and the Rubies, encircling them.

 

“What have you done to Orange Diamond!?” One of the guards, a Citrine, sneered.

 

“You’ve upset a Diamond, you runts. You're in so much trouble.”

 

“What did you do?”

 

“That’s enough.” Orange cut in, pulling everyone’s attention to her. Despite the flutter in her gut, Orange continued on, surprising looking every bit as confident as she hoped to appear, if not a bit condescending, though she figured that worked in her favor as well. “Let these Rubies go.”

 

“But, my Diamond-“ One of the guards began, looking confused at Orange’s order.

 

“The Rubies were just taking their ship, right?” Orange looked down, this time paying particular attention to Left, who seemed to be the most put together of the three.

 

Left nodded before the others could say anything, “That’s right, my Diamond!”

 

“Good. Then get back to whatever orders you have.” Orange commanded, stepping out of the way for the Rubies to file inside while she stepped off the ramp, the guards looking at each other in confusion, if not disbelief. “Also,” Orange called, turning to look over her shoulder at the Rubies, who stopped to look at her. Orange made a point to look at Right and Middle, “You should watch how you speak to your superiors. Am I understood?”

 

“Yes ma’am!”

 

“Yes, my Diamond!”

 

“Thank you, my Clarity!”

 

After all three had there say, Orange turned away, leading the group of Quartz guards away from the ship, its ramp lifting up to seal the ship.

 

“Are you sure that’s okay, My Diamond?” The Citrine questioned, directly to her right, and Orange looked at her from the corner of her eyes.

 

“I’m sure. They are simple Rubies.”

 

“But-“

 

“Enough. Do not question my authority.” Orange reprimanded lightly, unable to explain the feeling in her chest when the gem looked down, ashamed. She raised her head a little higher, almost like she was...proud? Was she proud to have spoken like that?

 

“Yes, my Diamond.”

 

Orange forward again, stopping in her tracks and almost having the guards behind her run into her if it wasn’t for the others stopping them from doing so at the last moment.

 

“My Diamond?”

 

“Is everything alright?”

 

Orange stared up, her eyes focusing solely on the giant blue hand ship that was parked a little ways away from the spire of the moon base, it’s fingers spread out and resting in a cupped position, the odd light of the planet reflecting off its metal surface.

 

“That’s it.” Orange whispered.

 

“Did you say something, my Diamond?”

 

“Let’s go back to the spire. I want to return to Blue Diamond.” Orange grinned, starting for the tower before her guards could even comprehend her words.

 


 

“Orange, I’m very busy.” Blue said, looking at Orange over the screen she had pulled up in front of her, still working on what needed to be done for the colony.

 

“This won’t take long, Blue. I promise.” Orange smiled, and Blue sighed.

 

“What...” Blue paused as she typed something else into her screen before dismissing it, focusing on Orange, “What did you want to talk about, Orange?”

 

“I want your permission to fly one of the drop ships.”

 

Blue’s eyes widened before she blinked once, twice, then laughed, “Oh, that’s silly Orange.” She smiled, leaning forward in her chair to look down at her, the corner of her eyes crinkling as she continued to chuckled, “Why would you need to fly a ship?”

 

Orange’s smile slipped, more at Blue's continued laughter than being indirectly told no. She was used to ‘No’, at this point she could take ‘No’ without too much disappointment,  but the laughs always seemed more condescending than the last, and never stopped crawling under her skin to bother her just that little bit more. 

 

Orange raised an eyebrow, a little unsure how to answer Blue’s question without coming off as rude. “Because...I want to?”

 

Blue's chuckles began to die, seeing Orange’s expression becoming a little more tense and she became a bit more serious under the younger gem’s stare. “Orange, you’re a diamond.” Blue said softly, scooting a little bit forward in her chair, placing her hands in her lap while she looked at Orange, trying to keep her voice level while she explained, “You don’t need to pilot one of those.”

 

“You fly your own ship.” Orange motioned a hand at her, her frown deepening.

 

Blue head turned, her eyes flicking away from Orange, “That’s different.”

 

How?” Orange stressed the word as she was becoming frustrated at her lack of an actual reason from Blue.

 

“Because it is.”

 

Blue,” Orange couldn’t stop the whine of her voice, her hands clenching, “that’s not an answer.”

 

“My hand ship is nothing like a battle ship.” Blue said, still not quite meeting Orange’s eyes. “We don’t lower ourselves to a common soldier’s ship.”

 

Orange’s eyebrow screwed up, confused and a little insulted, on both behalf all the gems that flew them, and their beloved ships, as well as Blue’s dismissing tone. “But Yellow taught me how to.”

 

Blue’s head swiveled so quickly to stare at her, Orange was startled at the slightly wild look in Blue’s eyes, “She did what!? That’s so dangerous. How could she-“

 

“Okay, so I can’t fly one of those.” She interrupted, feeling bad she might very well have just gotten Yellow in trouble, “What about your ship? Can I fly that? I can wait until you have time.”

 

“Oh Orange. This is getting out of hand.” Blue sighed loudly, rubbing her forehead with one hand in exasperation.

 

Orange raised her eyebrow at what she assumed was Blue’s unintentional pun.

 

Blue brushed passed this, her tone a little bit more strained than it had been before, “You can’t control my ship.”

 

Orange forced a breath out through her nose to keep from voicing her mounting anger, as getting angry with Blue wasn’t going to help her. “You could teach me. I’m a fast learner.” She bargained.

 

Blue seemed to have no such qualms, her eyebrows coming down as she narrowed her eyes, her voice a bit harsher than she probably had intended it to be. “You can’t pilot my ship, it only responds to me, Orange! You can’t pilot my ship any more than Pink could control White’s.”

 

“Oh...but...oh.”

 

Blue’s expression softened, a hand partially covering her mouth. “Don’t look so dejected Orange.”

 

“But...” Orange paused, her shoulders slumping as Blue’s information processed fully, her eyebrows turning up as she looked up at Blue, “What am I supposed to do then? You guys have your own ships, but what am I supposed to get? How am I supposed to fit into the Authority?”

 

Blue tilted her head, looking away from Orange as she searched for an answer, until she finally turned back to her. “Orange...I can’t answer that. That will be for White to decide.”

 

Orange wondered how many questions they had brushed off using White as an excuse. How many problems had they brushed off as White’s problem. Had they not even considered to plan what the Diamond Authority would be like with her in it? It made her hands clenched a bit tighter, both in anger, and sorrow. Orange racked her brain for a plan of her own. Fine, if they hadn’t though that far ahead, then she could. This was her future, she should have a say. “Then I should be able to pilot one of the battle ships. I could have my own made, something special, so its not like the soldier's.”

 

Blue groaned, “Not this again. Please Orange. You’re being unreasonable.”

 

“What?” Orange’s voice was raised more than she had intended, but she couldn’t stop the feeling of disbelief at Blue’s words. “Me? I’m being unreasonable one?”

 

Blue narrowed her eyes at Orange, her mouth forming into a frown, “I’ve told you no. Please don’t push.”

 

“But...”

 

“Orange.”

 

Orange grit her teeth, bared to Blue as she glared at the older Diamond, feeling incredibly defiant in that moment. “Stop treating me like a child.”

 

Blue looked as if Orange had slapped her. “What?”

 

“You’re treating me like I’m still a child. I’m not. It’s not dangerous, and I don’t need the constant supervision! I don’t need all the guards, and I'm tired of being told no!”

 

Blue stood up so quickly, Orange took a step back in surprise as the normally calm and understanding gem glared down at her, a visible blue aura around moving around her form, but no tears came to Orange’s face as she yelled, “That’s enough!”

 

“Blue?” Orange breathed, suddenly very weary, and feeling like she was suddenly back with White before she had sent her away for punishment. It brought that familiar feeling of fear to her gut, and she could feel her chest constrict, the need to get away suddenly hit her like a Topaz’s charge, but she did not move. She couldn’t.

 

“I didn’t want to raise my voice, but you’re not listening. I think it’s a good time for you to return to your room. I have more work to do.”

 

“Okay...” Orange whispered, taking her chance she had been presented to slink away, back to the safety of her room.

 


 

“Orange?” Blue’s voice carried across the room despite keeping it low, stepping into the younger Diamond’s quarters and taking a look around. It was dark, a small projector was set up on a desk, casting part of the ceiling in an image of stars that moved across the walls, and was the only real light in the room, besides the light behind her spilling into the room from the open doorway. Using it, she could see Orange Diamond laying on her bed, facing the projector, and Blue came to the conclusion Orange had been watching the false stars until she had fallen asleep. Blue was about to quietly step back outside when the thought crossed her mind that Orange needed the rest, but stopped when there was movement from the younger gem.

 

Orange, at first, turned her head to look at Blue, meeting her eyes for a moment before she rolled over onto her back and using her elbows to push up and look at Blue more appropriately, “Hey, Blue.”

 

“You're awake.” Blue’s tone was surprised.

 

“Couldn’t sleep.” Orange explained, one corner of her lips lifted up in a half smile.

 

Looking away with an expression of hesitance, Blue turned back to Orange and stepped into the room, the doors closing a moment later, and casting the room back into darkness, with the tiny dots of hololight the only thing to help Blue see, so she stopped moving all together, breathing out a surprised, “Oh.”

 

Orange’s voice was a bit rough, like she had been screaming, but Blue did not comment on it as she heard movement from her, “Hold on, let me...” a moment later, the lights flicked on, and Blue could see Orange had been messing with a control pad on the stand beside her bed. “there.”

 

“Thank you.” Blue responded quietly, continuing the walk to Orange’s bed. Cautiously, Blue sat down on it, relaxing when it took her weight just fine. She turned her head to look at Orange, reaching out to brush her hair, a pang in her chest when Orange did not quite meet her eyes. “I’m sorry I had to yell earlier. But, you understand why I did, don’t you?”

 

Orange sucked in a breath, “Yes, Blue.”

 

“Good.” Blue smiled, even though Orange still would not look at her, and concluded she simply needed more time. “I hope you understand it’s not because i wanted to, but it’s for you own good.” She explained.

 

Orange’s face scrunched up slightly, and Blue worried Orange might still be upset, but she did not push her hand away, or react more than that. 

 

Finally, Orange nodded, looking down at her stomach, “I know.”

 

“Now, would you like to come watch more of the planet being transformed?”

 

“That’d be nice.” Orange agreed, slipping away from Blue’s hand, and off the bed.

Chapter Text

Sitting back in the Captain’s chair, Orange watched as the stars flew by in the ship’s viewer. It had been a little more than 3 weeks since she left Homeworld and Orange was only just now leaving Blue’s colony. Ever since their little tiff, she had felt a bit more subdued. Not because she felt put down after their disagreement, because she refused to say she and Blue had a fight, but because she didn’t want to cause any more trouble by potentially upsetting Blue. At first she had been excited to leave homeworld for this trip, and of course she was happy to see Blue, but being with Blue made her question things she hadn’t ever really given thought to before, but had simply expected to happen. She couldn’t help but wonder what her future actually held, not just the promises she had been told. It wasn’t even a question of if she would be a part of the Authority one day, it was more of a question of where she’d fit into it when she did. Looking at everything, It made her question what White Diamond had planned, since Blue seemed to hold no answers for her, or at least any she was willing to part with.

 

Orange felt more sure of herself as a gem than she ever did as a child. She was little more than half a millennia in age, still the youngest of the Diamonds, but she wasn’t a child. True, she was still a little round in the face, and her stocky build only added to her childlike appearance, but she wasn’t a child. But it seemed the diamonds saw her as such. Young. Inexperienced. Silly. Is that how they saw her then? Not as useless, as they once might have,  just someone they had to take care of, look out for because she couldn’t handle it on her own just yet. 

 

Surprisingly, that didn’t make Orange feel sad, as she had expected. Instead, it made her want to punch something. it made her wish she was back with the Topazes and Iris so she could train and work off her frustration. She wasn’t a child to them. She wasn’t a child to Pearl. How long would the others see her as a child? what did she have to do to show them she wasn’t that person anymore? Would they ever really see her as their equal?

 

'I’ll make them.'

 

The thought was aggressive, even in her own head, and bounced around like a harsh echo, making her physically tense. She’d make them see her as one of them, she just wasn’t too sure how. At least not without getting shut down like she had with Blue. Perhaps that was something White would be willing to talk about. With how she had left things on Homeworld, she got the impression White would be the most amenable to listening to what she had to say regarding her future, and if White truly was the one making the final decisions about what would happen with her, perhaps she would have the most answers for her as well.

 

Orange sat forward, stretching out her back and trying to fight the need to get up from boredom. She didn’t know how much the Captain would have to report on what happened, including what she did, and she didn’t think it would look good on her for fidgeting too much. “How much longer until we reach Yellow Diamond’s colony?”

 

The Captain was quick to jump to her side, and Orange wondered why the Captain seemed so distracted this flight compared to before. “Yes, my Diamond! I mean, we are close, my Clarity. Very close.”

 

Orange’s eyebrows screwed up at her, even as she responded her eyes kept going to the screen before her. Whatever was on her screen was obviously distressing, and much more interesting then what Orange had to say. While Orange was confused, and curious, she didn’t believe interrogating the Captain would improve their situation, and it honestly worried her that the Captain would mess something up, based on how rattled she seemed to be. In comparison, her crew mates appeared to be perfectly fine, and Orange wonder what the Captain seemed to know that the rest of them didn’t.

 

Shrugging it off, as whatever had the Nephrite in a tizzy more than likely had no impact for her, she leaned back in the chair, turning back to the viewer, her eyes sweeping over the crew every few minutes.

 

Two other nephrites on the crew, directly in front of her, had their heads turned slightly to each other, speaking quietly. They both wore the same black jumpsuit with green designs, Blue’s diamond emblazoned on their chests. They weren’t exactly striking in appearance, and looked very similar, with the one exception that the one on Orange’s left had white hair, where as her counterpart had a much darker green. While they weren’t notable, and Orange didn’t think she’d remember them a year from now, they at least created a decent distraction for the trip.

 

The one of the left leaned towards her friend, “I can’t wait until we get to return home.”

 

“Yeah. I’ll be glad to be back before our next assignment.”

 

“I’m looking forward to getting to visit the Crag.”

 

“You spend way too much time there.”

 

“I meet a friend there!”

 

“Sure, sure. I’m going to see the new fights. I hear they’re bringing in traitors to fight the champions. It's going to be amazing!”

 

Orange tilted her head, intrigued. She had not personally been to the Arena, but she knew that 5X and 7X were a big fans of the place, and had on more than one occasion recounted a particularly good fight they had seen to her.

 

Obviously, she couldn’t sneak in to see it and she wasn’t sure if recordings were made of the fights, but it sounded like something interesting was happening on Homeworld if they were starting to use prisoners for the fights.

 

“I haven’t been in a while. Is Onyx 12K still undefeated?” the darker nephrite asked.

 

“No.” Her friend shook her head, turning from her screen to look at her, “There is this Lemon Quartz, woo. She could lay three gladiators out at once with this move with her arm. It’s amazing. You can totally tell she’s one of Yellow Diamond’s favorites.”

 

“Oh, I have to see that.”

 

Eventually their conversation devolved into idle chatter and Orange turned her attention back to the viewer, throughly interested in checking out the Arena when she got back home.

 

It wasn’t long before they had finally arrived to their destination, and Orange could see just what her fellow Diamond’s colony and base looked like. Yellow’s moon base was on a smaller rocky planet that orbited a much larger one. She could already see the greenish-blue organic life of it receding as parts of the planet became dulled by the open rocky plain that had been terraformed, or already had been transformed into full fledged kindergartens. This obviously wasn’t a new colony, and must have been a good source to make the smaller work gems. Rubies were so very common, it must have been simple to make them here, as well as whatever else Yellow had plans to grow. Orange knew from her lessons that Sapphires, Rutiles, and Spinels could be made in the same place as Rubies, though for obvious reasons, they were never grown together. She found it was interesting that such a high class gem like Sapphire could have grown in the same place as the soldier that was guarding her. 

 

Orange sat up a little straighter, focusing on the planet, noting the places that looked like they would be the currently active kindergarten spots. She adored the colonies. Something about making new gems excited her, that new bit of life, and knowing you had been the one to orchestrate their existence, to be the one to give them life, a purpose, and to give back to the Empire. Orange envied the other Diamonds that. She could lie all she liked to their face, and they seemed to believe it for the most part, but she wanted a colony. She wanted to have that power, that life giving responsibility, the resources she, and homeworld, would gain from the planets she would nurture into giving them new gems. Bringing real life to them.

 

She even looked forward to getting to join the others in the extraction chambers, where she would get to contribute to the source of life that was used to make these gems, but she had long since accepted everyone’s decision, surprisingly even Pink agreed, that she was too young to use it. She wasn’t even allowed to see the inside of their chambers, and thus wondered exactly what they looked like, perhaps different for each Diamond.

 

“We have arrived, my Diamond.” The captain’s voice pulled her from her thoughts, and Orange turned to look as she bowed to her, all while out of her peripheral she could see the crew doing checks and preparing to land, but they could not until they had gained clearance.

 

Surprisingly, it took longer than she would have thought, given this was Yellow’s colony, and not many would be more efficient than the gems she stationed on her own moon base.

 

After a quick conversation between one of the pilots and a Ruby, they were given clearance to enter the section of the moonbase designated for ships.

 

The Captain was quick to turn to her, bowing once again, to explain, “I apologize for the wait, your clarity. Security has been upped, and our codes were changed last moment. I am very sorry.”

 

Orange waved her off, turning back to the view of Yellow’s moon base now that it was no longer being obscured by a Ruby’s face. “It’s fine. Just proceed with landing.”

 

When the ship touched down at the docking bay, the captain was the one to step off first to check everything was alright for them to deboard, and then she was bowing to Orange at the end of the ramp. Orange was taken right away by the base, large and imposing, metal and glass fused together in one erected tower of beautiful gem architecture. Smaller buildings were planted around the base, and the few gems that moved about between them walked with purpose in their every step. These were Yellow’s gems, and Orange would be hard pressed to find more dedicated gems to their work. The base resembled Blue’s own, from layout to the rocky terrain setting of the buildings, and yet somehow was more utilitarian, organized. Everything, from building to gem, was made to be as efficient as their Diamond, impressive and tenacious, all you could want in a subject and place of work.

 

“My Diamond?” The captain spoke, breaking her from her amazed stare, “Forgive me, but we should move inside. I need to check in.”

 

Orange gave the captain a curt nod in acknowledgment, turning to lead her inside instead of following. Orange’s eyes swept around at everything. Like Blue’s Tanzanite colony, things had been updated, though if you knew what you were looking for, you could make out the parts of the building that had been updated instead of the whole structure at once, blending almost seamlessly together. The colony was obviously made before Blue’s, but at least within the last millennia. Which meant that the planet above should have at least one or two completed kindergartens already, or near completion.

 

Stepping inside the Spire, which she had to wait for the Captain to authorize the door to open before they could even enter, and they parted upon entering after she dismissed the hurried Nephrite, nonplussed that she seemed to be in such a rush but didn’t see a reason to push the matter. Stopping to look around, Orange was intrigued by the different design that had been integrated into the old, it was much more prominent inside where the decor actually mattered. Every Diamond’s building contained a different style to it, and she had figured out early on that, much like White, Yellow preferred the use of angular lines in her architecture, where as Blue and Pink employed a more rounded design. The winding staircase, the open main room, and the one that it led to, which diverted into separate rooms and halls, one of which would lead to her own room. The room that connected all the others was opposite the entrance of the spire, and she could see a large warp pad in it’s center, a small set of steps built up around it to keep it off the ground. Up above that would be the second level with the observation orb, and then at the very top would be Yellow’s command room. 

 

“Orange Diamond.”

 

Orange turned her head, her mouth widening in an open mouth smile as she located the voice, her eyes locking onto Yellow’s Pearl. Pearl stood at the base of the stairs, her arms behind her back and a curved grin on her face that always made her look rather smug.

 

“Pearl!” Orange charged at the smaller gem, her round eyes widening more in surprise, her arms falling from their parade rest stance and coming up to block her just as the small diamond wrapped her arms around her, twirling her around as she let out a started, “Eep!”

 

“Oh! I’ve missed you, Pearl!”

 

Pearl patted her side, where her arms had been trapped in the youngest diamond’s hug, “Okay, okay! Put me down, please. You’re attracting attention.”

 

Orange laughed as she stopped, setting the flustered pearl back on her feet and letting her go.

 

Pearl’s cheek were bright as she brushed herself down, “Good to have you back, as always, Orange Diamond.”

 

Orange brushed off Pearl’s grumpy tone, quite used to her attitude, as she knew Pearl’s personality and her own could clash at points, Orange’s fondness for hugging just happened to be one of those things. “Where’s Yellow?”

 

That seemed to pull Pearl out of her grumbling, and she stood up a little straighter, more professional, “My Diamond is in her command room. She sent me to welcome you, as she couldn’t be pulled away from her work at this time.”

 

The younger gem blinked, surprised, and she tried her hardest to not let the disappointment show in her voice or on her face. “Oh…Well, let's go up and see her. If she can’t come to me, I’ll go to her.”

 

“Very well. Please follow me, Orange Diamond.”

 

“Just Orange, Pearl.” Orange reminded with a slightly more forceful tone than she had used before, not that Pearl was effected by it.

 

“Thats inappropriate, my Diamond. You will always be Orange Diamond to me.” Pearl didn’t even stop to look at her when she said it, which lead Orange to believe she was simply jerking her around, in her own manner.

 

“Five centuries, Pearl. You’ve known me my whole life. Surely you can let that slide.”

 

“And it has been an honor,” Pearl turned to look at her, that crooked little smile that she actually adored seeing on her face, a quirk she had never seen on any other Pearl, “But I’m afraid I can’t.”

 

“I’m sure it’s a monumental task. I understand.” Orange rolled her eyes, but smiled none the less. She didn’t push it further with her, as Pearl could be even more stubborn than her own Diamond, and she didn’t find it as big a deal as it would have been with Blue or White’s Pearl. Like Yellow, Pearl was a stickler for rules and order, so it was never a surprise when Orange met a little resistance from her.

 

It wasn’t long before they were at the top of the stairs, Orange slowing to allow Pearl stay ahead of her, and Orange stood, cautious of the land’s drop off, waiting for Pear to open the doors.

 

She led the way in, Pearl now behind her as she observed the profile of her fellow Diamond lounging in a floating chair made for her, a bit more comfort than she was used to seeing Yellow employ, and honestly a nice change to see her using. Upon their entrance, Yellow looked away from her screen to look at them.

 

“Yellow.” Orange smiled, initiating the first words. “Its good to see you.”

 

“Orange.” The older diamond responded, looking her up and down, before dismissing her screens to lean forward, moving her legs off the side of the chair and sitting to face her, signaling she was giving her full attention to her guest. “You look well.”

 

“I feel great.” Orange grinned, “Better than ever, really.”

 

“I’m glad to see your time on Homeworld hasn’t changed you too much.” Yellow snorted, clearly amused by the younger gem’s boisterous attitude.

 

“I wouldn’t say I’m the same as before, but you can’t change everything.”

 

Yellow regarded her with an appraising look, “I intend to test that claim.”

 

“Whenever you want, Yellow. I have some new tricks.”

 

Yellow nodded, but leaned back in her seat, confusing Orange. “I thought i would be ahead of my work today. I know we discussed before seeing how far you have come with your training, but i’m afraid it will have to wait.”

 

Orange once again worked to hide her disappointment, deciding to concentrate on the fact she now had an open schedule, and free reign of Yellow’s base. “Thats okay. I can always find something else to do. It wouldn’t be the first time.”

 

Yellow brought her work screens back up, “I’m glad you understand. Pearl will-“

 

Orange cut her off before she could even suggest whatever she might have had in mind to keep her entertained, “Perhaps since you’ll be busy, I could go down and see your colony.”

 

Yellow’s eyes cut to her, narrowed as her tone was hard, “Absolutely not.”

 

Orange pouted, half in frustration, and half trying to persuade Yellow, “I just want to see the kindergarten. I won’t get in the way.”

 

“Orange. I said no.”

 

The younger gem let out a rather undignified grunt of frustration, her hands clenching in just barely controlled anger. “I’m beginning to think both you and Blue are ganging up on me.”

 

Yellow raised an eyebrow at her, “Excuse me?”

 

“Blue wouldn’t let me see her's either.” Orange explained, feeling rather glad Blue hadn’t actually told Yellow about what occurred in her base. “She says it's too dangerous for me.”

 

“And she would be correct.” Yellow agreed, and Orange could not stop from narrowing her eyes right back at Yellow for it. “We know what we’re talking about, Orange.”

 

“I’ve always been fine on my own, Yellow. Its worrying for nothing.” Orange groused.

 

“Enough.” Yellow’s voice was firm, but did not raise, “No, means no. It’s one thing on my base, everyone here has been selected and honorbound to my word, but it would be another on the planet. You know you’re not supposed to be seen by anyone that hasn’t been approved to know you, Orange. What would White think if you were found out?”

 

Orange tried not to show just how much that effected her, but based on how Yellow returned her look with a softer, less pointed one, Orange knew she hadn’t exactly succeeded. Instead of fighting her, she simply nodded, turning her back on Yellow before she could see the tears that were beginning to burn her eyes. Thankfully, her voice was quite level, “Okay. I’ll just go to my room.”

 

Yellow’s response did not come right away, but she did answer before Orange could exit the room. “Do as you like, just do not leave this base. Now, I have to get back to work.”

 

Taking the stairs, Orange wiped roughly at her eyes, gritting her teeth as she became angrier when they would be replaced with more. She didn’t want to be upset, and she didn’t want the other gems to see her crying. It was stupid she was crying to begin with, but for some reason that comment about not being seen always hit her to her core. She hated feeling like a dirty secret, hated that the others seemed to use it against her to remind her who she was and to put her in her place. Grunting, her fingers digging into her eyes so roughly it was almost painful, Orange took a deep breath and pushed the feeling of anger down so she could temporarily calm herself.

 

Being angry wasn’t going to get her what she wanted, and it was too late now anyway. Yellow had said no, and she was even less likely to be persuaded than Blue was, and that hadn’t exactly gone well last time.

 

At the bottom of the stairs, Orange was satisfied she had control of her emotions, and she moved towards the inner room, noting there wasn’t anyone around, which was odd.

 

“Wonder where everyone is.” She questioned out loud, looking around at the circular room and it’s connecting chambers when she passed them, trying to see if they were all just sequestered in their assigned room. Thinking about it, there hadn’t really been anyone outside either.

 

Shrugging, she was about to turn left to travel down the hall where she knew her room would be, when she stopped to stare at the warp pad as it reflected the yellow light of the spire walls. It was at this point a surprising, but very tempting thought occurred to her. She could go down anyway. She didn’t have to listen to Yellow. She could see the Colony and Yellow couldn’t stop her. Glancing behind her, she caught sight of the stairs and the general direction of Yellow’s command room. No one in sight, and no one to see her. No witnesses, and It would be quick. Yellow would never even have to know she was gone.

 

Glancing around one last time, Orange resolved to push down the nervousness she had about disobey the older Diamond, and stepped onto the wrap pad. A moment later, she was washed in the bright light of the warp stream, and then the next, she was gone.

 


 

As the light cleared, Orange blinked, her eyes shining as she took in the sight before her. Bare rock and stone face. Injectors hung about in the side of rock walls so tall that even White wouldn’t be able to see above them at her full height. Most of the wall was pockmarked in tiny gem shaped holes. Stepping off the warp pad, Orange looked around in fascination as all around her were little red gems, scurrying around in small groups, with one or two yelling orders at others. Far down the line, she could see gems that weren’t Rubies, but large Quartz soldiers or Peridots, directing Rubies to certain places as they formed into square formations to await orders. There were so many Rubies, she had never seen so many them in such a condensed area.

 

“Why are you making so many, Yellow?” Orange questioned out loud, the moving red sea of gems interesting her. She stepped into the fray, looking around her with a fascinated grin while these tiny soldiers dodged her when she moved unknowingly into their path.

 

“You!”

 

Orange stopped wide eyed at the surprisingly loud voice, turning around to see what the commotion was about only to see a Ruby stood behind her, pointing one chubby finger at her. Said Ruby wasn’t very remarkable, the same round face and similar attire to her kin running around them. The only thing that set her apart was her gem placement being over her eye, though gems on the face were common, which made this Ruby even less remarkable to the young Diamond. 

 

Orange looked around, but saw no one else stopping to address the clearly irate Ruby, so she turned back to the scowling gem, pointing a finger at herself, “Me?”

 

“Yes you! Who are you?” The ruby demanded before pausing to look her up and down, her angry face twisting into confusion, “What are you?”

 

“I’m…a Jasper?” Orange said, wincing when her response came out as a question as well, but Ruby hardly seemed to notice.

 

Crossing her arms, Ruby narrowed her eye at her, “You're the weirdest Jasper i’ve ever seen.”

 

Annoyed at this tiny gem’s attitude, and having had quite enough with her rude tone, Orange crossed her arms, matching her narrow eyed stare, “Have you even ever seen a Jasper?”

 

“Well…no.” Ruby’s angry face fell again as she rubbed the back of her head, looking away from Orange’s eyes, “But i was just made.”

 

Orange mimiced a perfect sneer of Iris Agate, which startled the Ruby. “Then I’m a jasper. and…” Orange looked around, seeing the larger Quartz still directing gems, paying no mind to them at all. Orange turned back to the Ruby, looking down her nose at her, taking on a snotty tone, “I’m in charge of this section. What do you think you’re doing over here, runt?”

 

Immediately Ruby straightened, her arms held tightly at her sides in a formation pose, “Ma’am! Forgive me! I’m just waiting for my line to finish emerging.”

 

Orange pointed behind the Ruby, “Then get back to them! I expect a check in as soon as you all are accounted for! Don’t let Yellow diamond down!”

 

At the mention of her Diamond’s name, Ruby held up a diamond salute, “Yes ma’am! Glory to the wondrous Yellow Diamond!”

 

Orange matched her in an awkward version of the salute, very unfamiliar to giving one as compared to getting it, “Glory to Yellow Diamond!”

 

Orange waited until the Ruby had run out of sight, blending in with the rest of the gems as even more had emerged from their holes, and she slumped while the stern expression slipped off her face, “Urgg, that was close. Rubies…so gullible. I really want to know why Yellow is making so many of them, now.”

 

Making her way through the Rubies again, thankfully not being stopped by any more of the tiny red gems or their handlers, who must have assumed she was one of them, Orange took note of the narrowing of the walls. The farther she walked through the kindergarten, the fewer holes appeared in the walls, and the less Rubies there were to crowd around her.

 

Even farther than that, the walls were littered with injectors, but there were no holes in the walls, which lead Orange to believe this section of gems weren’t ready to emerge just yet. Perhaps more Rubies for whatever project Yellow seemed to need them for. Eventually, her walking brought her to end of the winding path, the open rock fell off the edge, creating another cliff and giving her quite the view of the surrounding area that hadn’t been terraformed for use.

 

Orange’s mouth fell open, eyes roaming around the interesting view of the open landscape. A lot of it was withering trees, dark and knarly, twisted in a clawed reach for the sky. Dead grass and twig bushes swallowed the fields, stood limp and dry in its off colored state, either dormant or already dead, she couldn’t tell. Behind it, miles from the dead land, was living plants, trees and land that still retained their color, blending into the lifeless land, thought Orange couldn’t make out just where it started. There was no sounds filtering into the cliff area, and she wondered if the wildlife had moved further into the still living part of the forest, retreating from the noisy kindergarten.

 

It was amazing, how planets like this produced new life for the Empire. She understood that what they were doing was taking from these planets, the very life force that had made this place a home, giving it up so that they could make use of it. It was a sight of beauty, life being turned into new, greater life, renewed to be spread out amongst space like living stardust. One day it would be she guiding new life to walk with stars, a leader, loved and respected.

 

Hopping down from the cliff, Orange used the jagged cliff face to hold on, kicking her feet into the rock to make footholes as she climbed down to the forest, silently thanking Iris for her strict training to even be able to do this. It didn’t take more than a few minutes to get down far enough that Orange felt comfortable letting go, falling away from the rock wall to the dead plant life below. Orange managed to miss a majority of the branches, only snagging a few with her hair and held out arms as she bent her knees when she landed, creating a crater in the dried earth.

 

“Owww.” Orange grumbled, standing up and pulling the long twigs from her hair, ignoring the scratches on her exposed arms in favor of the annoying tiny organic limbs twisted into her hair.

 

Pulling at least three twigs from her hair, Orange ran a hand through it to catch any others while she looked around. Though she didn’t really have a lot of experience with living organic matter, the large trees did not look so dead up close, but they did twist in on themselves, contorted and spreading out to cover the view above. The grass under her feet crunched as she began to move through it, once tall and vivid, was now yellowed and shriveled, snapping off as the young gem stumbled through it, unsure of just where she was going.

 

Following the winding trail of trees, the ground began to become notably more hilly, surprisingly still living moss covered jutting rock that was half covered in dead leaves, making the pathway dangerous to walk on as the leaves slipped and moved under her feet, wet under its drier upper layer. Using the rocks, grimacing at the squish of moss under her hand, Orange balanced her way along a open path where the trees had dispersed, tensing as she moved along cautiously, teetering on the narrow path of rocks she used to move across a particularly dangerous area. A noise to her right, the sound of snapping twigs that wasn’t her caught her attention and she paused, turning to look and try and find what had made the noise.

 

Her eyes scanned the tree line, but found nothing but more trees and leaves scattered on the forest floor, but something didn’t feel right about taking her eyes off the surroundings. After another minute of waiting in tense silence, she had not heard another noise, and chalked it up to a branch breaking off and hitting the ground. Turning back, the young gem moved slowly across the mossy rocks, leaving footprints of her shoes in each rock as she passed over them. She nearly stumbled when the noise happened again, and Orange’s head snapped to her right, searching for whatever had defiantly made the noise that time, because it was a lot closer. Still she found nothing in the deserted forest. She heard more than felt her own breathing pick up, certain she wasn’t alone in the forest.

 

'Yellow was right. I shouldn’t be out here.'

 

The thought crossed her mind as she looked around, trying to control herself as she felt she was being watched, but her own eyes could not find anything that could be staring back at her. She only took her eyes away from the tree line when she felt something wiggling on her hand, and she snapped to her head to her left, looking down in surprise as a long, furry thing inspected her hand. It was small, but long, it’s body segmented into parts, all covered in what looked to be long hair that moved. Orange stood tense for a moment before she screeched, pulling her hand away from the rock and shaking her hand to get the thing off as it held on to the top of her hand.

 

In her moment of panic, flailing while trying to get it off her hand, Orange failed to notice as her footing slipped from the rock, and it wasn’t until she and the weird creature were falling back did she realize her mistake in letting go. The young Diamond closed her eyes as she fell, her body not stopping at the rock’s bottom, but continuing to roll through the dead leaves, and she realized too late that the leaved covered ground was actually slanted, and the leaves made for the perfect surface for her to slide down. It wasn’t until she felt nothing under her did she open her eyes and scream again when she saw she was falling off, down the large hill and into another patch of leaves.

 

Orange laid there, stunned and wide-eyed, her breathing still rapid as she took a moment to realize she wasn’t falling anymore. Feeling something on her hand, she raised it, seeing that stupid crawler still there. Glaring, Orange shook her hand hard, finally flinging the creature off as she yelled, “Get off me!”

 

Huffing, Orange rubbed the back of her hand across her chest, trying to scrub the feeling of it wriggling across her skin away while glaring in the direction it had been flung into the leaf patch. Glad to not see it, Orange turned to look around at her new spot. Given she had only rolled down the hill, she did not expect to find much, but was pleasantly surprised when she found an open hole in the hill side to her left. Standing up and brushing the wet leaves that clung to her, the young diamond moved curiously towards the open mouth of the hole, but it was too dark to see more than a a little ways inside.

 

“A cave?” Orange questioned, standing in the mouth and trying to see inside, but there was not enough light coming inside for her to make out much but more rocks and some dead leaves that had blown inside. Squinting, Orange used the side of the wall to guide herself partially in, but stopped when she couldn’t make out too much more.

 

Pausing, Orange chuckled, “what am I doing? I can make my own light.” 

 

Concentrating on her hand, bright orange light engulfed her it, her fingers splaying out as the light flickered. Holding it up, the light lit up the cave, orange coloring the walls and casting dark shadows where jutting cones of stone blocked its path. Being able to see, Orange observed the surprisingly dry cave, slate gray stone and sparkling rocks covered the cave, a stark contrast to the dead organic outside. Orange marveled at the cluster of crystalline pieces that covered the rock around her. It looked to be a result of the kindergarten being made nearby, the gem life-force bleeding into the surrounding rock, dipping into the cave system here. The rock sparkled in her light, some of the gray stone covered in open crystals that spiked upward. It reminded her of the druzy rock that could be found near some of the closer kindergartens to the city, and was used to decorate Blue Diamond’s palace. 

 

Stepping forward, Orange picked up one of the smaller broken rocks, the inside of which was ladened with tiny crystals, like a geode. She couldn’t be sure of the crystal’s color, because her light was turning and cast a lot of it in a harsh orange tone, blotting out a lot of the lighter colors in the cave.

 

Her mouth twisted into a large smile as she looked down at the geode-like piece. This would be perfect to give to Pearl. It wasn’t alive, and it wasn’t something she could easily break and she imagined Pearl would like how pretty it was. Tucking it into her belt, Orange looked behind her at the mouth of the cave, the sky just visible from where she stood. She didn’t know the cycle to this planet, so trying to determine how long she had been there, or if it was even late, wasn’t likely to happen. But none the less, she figured it was time to make it back to the moon base before she was found out.

 

Nearing the mouth of the cave, the light cast inward allowed her to see enough of where she was going that she extinguished her hand, being careful of where she stepped until she was walking on just leaves.

 

A growl that most definitely didn’t come from her made her rigid, tensing as she didn’t dare to move but used her eyes to search around her. There, just slightly to her left, was an ugly creature she had never seen before, staring back at her.

 

The creature was a dark gray, long spindly limbs bent under it, connected to a lean body and a log neck that curved down, allowing its head to be near the ground. It’s face, like it’s body, was elongated, narrowing into a squared snout, sharp teeth could be seen crowing it’s mouth as it’s tongue flicked out and prodded the air. It’s clawed toes squished in the dead leaf matter as it pawed the ground, sniffing the area around it.

 

Orange’s mouth tugged into a disgusted frown at the sight of it, but also weary of the claws and teeth she could see, curling her hands into  fists at the threat of the creature. 

 

“What manner of beast are you?” Orange questioned out loud, unsure of just how intelligent it was, but instantly regretting it when it reared back, letting out a blood curdling shriek before it was bound at her in a quick gallop.

 

Narrowing her eyes, Orange’s hands flared as they were engulfed in her energy, waiting until the last moment to jump out of its way, using her legs to jump a few feet away from it as it slid to a halt, momentarily confused by her disappearance.

 

“Hah!” Orange grinned, “you're a lot slower than J2.”

 

Her grin fell when it turned to her and charged again, much quicker than before. Orange jumped out of the way again, but not before it managed to reach a long clawed leg out and tear into her tunic before she could get fully out of its reach.

 

Stumbling in her landing, Orange looked down, her own flaming aura not effecting her as she touched gingerly at the rips in her clothes, thin, angry lines running down her chest where it had damaged her lightform and just barely missing her gem. Looking back up at it, angry and snarled, “What is with this planet and it’s annoying organics?!”

 

At her voice, just as she had guessed, it turned and began to advance on her, teeth snapping as it neared.

 

Instead of jumping out of the way, Orange waited until it came close to reach out, ignoring when it’s clawed hands grabbed at her to wrap her hand around it’s neck, surprising it when she gripped it hard, bringing her other hand down and knocking it in the head and sending it sprawling back on the ground. 

 

“Just leave me alone!” She snapped, huffing while she watched it lay on the ground, unmoving. When it didn’t move after a moment of waiting, she paused as it settled in that she was fighting something organic, the squishy things like humans that got hurt from just tripping, and she had just punched it quite hard.

 

Orange’s hands began to dim as her face morphed into shocked horror, taking a cautious step towards it. “Oh Stars...did I kill it? Don’t be dead, don’t be dead. You're annoying, but I didn’t want to kill you.”

 

Orange stopped moving towards it when it snorted, it’s long paws coming up to scrub at its face before it lifted its elongated neck, it’s head staring at he before it scrambled to stand up, long limbs fumbling over one another as it seemed to be having trouble figuring out where to put its limbs to get up properly.

 

She clenched her fist again, holding her breath as she tensed and prepared for it to attack her again, only to let it out when it found its balance and turned away from her, sprinting off in the opposite direction from her.

 

Orange grimaced as she watched it run away before turning down to the damage that had been done to her, her hand lighting up with a different energy as she covered her chest, the stinging of the red lines easing under her healing powers. “I hate this planet.” She grumbled. While the lines mended, her tunic repairing itself after her skin had been fixed. Looking up, she frowned at the lowering light in the sky, meaning she was going to have to book it back, but the chances of Yellow not already knowing she had been gone we’re slim if as much time had passed as she thought had.

 

“I’m so dead.”

Chapter Text

Yellowed sighed as she sat back, leaning heavily on the arm of her chair while pinching the bridge of her nose. Her eyes were starting to become tired of reading script, lines blurring into one another and she longed to get up to move around instead of just uncrossing and recrossing her legs. She did not care for the style of lounging chairs, but had allowed Blue to talk her into it, a mistake she would not make again any time soon. Looking up, over the top of the screens, she stared at the slightly distorted view of the partially completed colony, the defining colors of organic life pleasantly contrasted by the exposed rock that had been terraformed for her kindergartens. The thought of the gems that would be emerging soon reminded her of Orange, and her unyielding interest in them. 

 

Orange had arrived, after spending more time than Yellow cared for with White, and yet she hadn’t managed to make the time for her, even after pushing off her visit for what she had deemed an acceptable amount of time to complete what she needed. And while she justified to herself it had been because she still had important work that was time sensitive, she still felt a small pang of guilt settle her in the chest. Orange must have been so excited to return to her, she knew Orange looked up to them much more than in a literal sense, and she had only brushed her off. Of course, her work was important to her, but she should also take time for their youngest, while she still had the freedom to leave Homeworld before she returned to White.

 

Yellow cocked her head towards her Pearl, who looked up at her the moment she began to speak, “Pearl. Its time to take a break.” Yellow dismissed her work screens, sitting forward and feeling the ache in her back from the long hours of sitting at an angle. “Go get Orange Diamond. I’m sure she has tired of the walls in her room already.”

 

Pearl stood, bowing to her, “Yes, My Diamond.”

 

Yellow watched as she trotted from the room at a quick pace, sighing now that she was alone and no one around to see as she worked out the tension in her back and limbs, relaxing back again to wait.

 


 

Pearl held her head high as she passed by multiple gems. Much larger than herself, but so beneath her, and her task.

 

Crossing through the warp room and into the side hall that held the main rooms just for the most important gems that would be here. While it hadn’t always existed at this base, it had been a simple and quick thing to add a room for Orange Diamond, especially considering she was much smaller than the other Diamonds, minus Pink Diamond, and did not need a room the size her own Diamond did. It was also the first time the room was getting actual use, as the base had been made before Orange Diamond’s existence and the room had to be added in later, and only recently when it became known that Orange would be with them at all. Nowadays, bases were simply made with another diamond room, as it would be a ten to one bet Orange Diamond would be occupying the base at some point in its existence. Though, with the knowledge Orange planned to stay with White Diamond for a while, Pearl actually felt a little let down that the young gem would no longer be there to talk her ear off, or gossip with her. Though, she supposed, it meant she would be able to fully concentrate on her work until she did finally return to them.

 

Taking a left from the hall, finding the room was was a simple task, considering this wing of rooms was purely for the Diamonds and Orange’s was always marked with a small diamond shaped, centered on the door in her color, each half of the door carved to hold one half of the diamond symbol. She could remember the smile that stayed on the younger gem’s face the entire day that symbol had been added to the architectural design and she had seen it. Orange was so young then, walking and talking on her own, but still not as tall as Pearl, and she had still been trying to imitate her. Now she was a giant to her, and much more a Diamond than she would have though she could have been when she had been required to shove tablets into her mouth just to keep her alive. How times changed.

 

Upon getting to the room with the small orange diamond on its door, Pearl raised her head a little higher, a wicked grin forming on her face as she stared down two quartz guards who made it a point to not meet her gaze.

 

“Be quiet and move out of the way.” Pearl ordered, “I’m here for Orange Diamond.”

 

Pearl paid the two quartz guard no mind, even as they gave each other looks when they though she wasn’t looking, beliving they weren’t worth her time.

 

Pearl released the door with the pad, neither guard speaking up as she did so or when she stepped inside, leaving the doors open. Pearl smiled lifted as her eyes closed, feeling quite pleased to be getting Orange after that mornings mishap. She would be so happy to see her, and with the orders she brought.

 

“Orange Diamond, Yellow Diamond requests your presence.” Pearl waited a beat, and was put off when there was no noise in response, not even a squeal of excitement to see her. Opening her eyes, Pearl looked around the room. “Orange Diamond?” She repeated, her eyes darting around. The bed was still perfectly made, the large marble chair notably not having said gem there.

 

Whipping her head around, Pearl nervously put her hand to her mouth, biting into her finger nails as she tried to materialize the Diamond, hoping she had somehow just missed her in the open room. “Ohh no. oh nooo. My clarity? Orange Diamond?”

 

Pearl rechecked the room, ducking to check under the desk, pulling the covers back and shifting pillows, panic starting to seize her chest. “Ohhh no no no not good. You’re going to be in so much trouble. I’m going to be in-…Orange?” she squeaked.

 

Looking back to the door, Pearl charged out, glaring and pointing angrily at the two guards, “Where is she!? Where is Orange Diamond?”

 

The Quartz to her left grunted, “We haven’t seen her.”

 

“Yeah,” The quartz to the left agreed, “she hasn’t been by yet.”

 

“Why didn’t you say that!?” Pearl practically screamed.

 

The quartz grinned, and Pearl would have smacked it off her face if she though it wouldn’t hurt her more than the smug guard, especially when she sneered, “You told us to be quiet.”

 

Pearl turned away from the two Quartz, running down the hall, even more panicked as she ducked into every side room she passed, startling technicians and soldiers alike, brushing them off as she quickly scanned the room for what would be the tallest gem on this level before moving on. 

 

Coming back to the warp room, Pearl halted when her eyes fell on the warp pad, her heart sinking. Looking to her left, Pearl snatched the first Peridot technician that passed, startling her as she caused her to drop her pad when Pearl grabbed her by her upper armor, “Tell me, has anyone used this warp pad recently?”

 

The Peridot blinked, before the surprise wore off and she pushed Pearl off her, frowning but answering her anyway, “Only the handlers coming back from the kindergartens. Now leave me be, I have important work to do.”

 

Pearl was running away before she could even finish, the fear clear on her face.

 


 

Orange wiped the sweat from her brow as she pulled herself up onto the cliff side, turning to look behind her at the setting sun on the horizon, her frown deepening as panic settled a little heavier in her chest. “I’m going to be grounded for a millennia.”

 

Turning away from the view, Orange began running for the kindergarten at a full on run, once against praising Iris Agate for her training regime and pushing her so hard, otherwise she was sure she’d still be trapped in the forest until Yellow either came down to get her or she was found embarrassingly by the Quartz that would be sent to find her. Neither were a great option.

 


 

When Pearl returned, her eyes were wide and she appeared frazzled, sweat beading on her face and her lips turned down. Yellow raised an eyebrow at her, surprised by her appearance. What was even more odd was the lack of a young Diamond with her. “Where is Orange?”

 

Pearl’s hands fidgeted in front of her, fingers tapping together as she looked up at Yellow before looking away and then looking back, “I….forgive me, my diamond, but…” and then Pearl fell apart, crying, “But I can’t find Orange Diamond!”

 

Yellow stood up so quickly that Pearl stepped back in alarm, shrinking as Yellow yelled, “What?!”

 

Anger radiated from every bit of her, from her posture and clenched fists, to her narrowed eyes and bared teeth as she turned to look out at the colony. “She hasn’t….She better not have gone down to the colony. After i specifically told her…”

 

Yellow stepped passed Pearl, her long legs taking her much farther and faster than Pearl could move, the smaller gem hustling to keep up with her owner as she descended the stairs.

 


 

Orange huffed, struggling to catch her breath as she skidded to a halt in front of the warp pad, completely ignoring the looks she was getting from the gems still maning the kindergarten. Stand on the platform, Orange activated the warp, apprehension making her feel queasy while the light temporarily blocked her vision before she was back in familiar yellow colored walls.

 

Looking around, Orange could see gems scattering about the base, and she knew she was possibly in the deepest trouble of her life. Looking to her left, thinking she might hide in her room, she nearly gasped when she saw the back of Yellow Diamond as she marched down the corridor, Pearl chasing after her.

 

“Nope! Not that way.”

 

Looking forward, she thought she might hide outside, and say she had been there the whole time, then thought better of it. If Yellow was looking for her, then she most defiantly had gems searching for her outside. Looking up, Orange knew exactly what she was going to do.

 

Sprint past a lot of gems that stopped to look at her, she ignored them, taking the stairs to the second level and all but skidding into the observation room.

 

If I act like I’ve come inside to be here, Yellow might not realize. She thought, amazed at her own quick thinking. That is, until she looked down at herself.

 

Her legs and arms were covered in dirt, orangish-red marks blemishing her light form that she had yet to heal. Her entire body was covered in a thin layer of sweat and grime, she hardly looked like a young diamond, and much more akin to a wild beast that had been brought inside the palace as a practical joke.

 

Orange grimaced, “Yellow is going to kill me.”

 

Thinking fast, Orange produced her own healing light, quickly fixing up any scuffs in her skin and brushing down a lot of the dirt, using her own sweat to try and clear the marks off. She could at least replace her stockings and tunic with a new one, given they were produced by her own form and not fabric ones, but even after all her work to try and appear presentable, she had a feeling Yellow would take issues with how she looked.

 

But with no other options available, short of hiding for three weeks, which certainly wasn’t an actual viable option - was it? No, no. - She activated the orb, putting it on a random place, and sat down to wait out her doom. Not long later, Orange swallowed when she heard the distinct sound of Yellow’s heavy steps coming up the stairs.

 

She tried not to flinch when they stopped on her level and then a very loud voice shouted her name, “Orange!”

 

Orange put on her largest smile, turned to see an incredibly angry Yellow Diamond and a very flustered pearl, bent over and using her knees as support as collected herself. Orange, deciding to go all the way with her ruse if it ever had a chance to work, chose to continue in almost blatantly obvious ignorance, acting as if she didn’t notice anything wrong with them and keeping her tone cheery as she exclaimed at the sight of them, “Hey Yellow!”

 

Yellow blinked, the surprise obvious on her face at Orange’s chipper mood, the anger slipping from her face and morphing into confusion.

 

Orange took this as her best opportunity to not possibly die today, “Are you done for the day? I’ve been waiting as best I could.”

 

Yellow narrowed her eyes, either catching on or suspicious, which reeked havoc on Orange’s nerves, though she kept up the excited smile as best she could. 

 

“I’m taking a break.” Yellow’s response was slow, each word dragged out while her eyes scanned over Orange, and the younger gem could immediately tell she was displeased by her appearance. “I’ve been looking for you. Where have you been?”

 

“Really?” Orange blinked in her best surprised expression, “I walked around the base, wrested with the Quartz a bit, but i’ve been here for a little while.” Orange could not believe the lying words coming out of her mouth, but she wasn’t going to stop now that she had dug her hole as far as she could. She was going to lie in it. “Did you not check? Maybe we just missed each other.”

 

Yellow’s eyes narrowed further, her words giving Yellow just enough pause, just enough reason to believe that perhaps, somehow, in all the chaos created to search for the young Diamond, that they truly had just slipped past each other. Orange, after all, was not a liar. “Pearl said…” Yellow turned to glare down at her Pearl, who looked up at her in alarm as Yellow sneered and then turned back to Orange, shaking her head. “Never mind. I will deal with thatlater.” And then Yellow was walking towards her, “Move over.”

 

Orange was surprised when Yellow sat down on the floor with her, mindful of where she was, her longer legs coming up either side of her as she sat behind Orange. 

 

Yellow’s hands were moving her hair a moment later, her large fingers brushing at dirt she had obviously missed, “Look at you, you're filthy.”

 

Orange thought she might have a heart attack when Yellow began trying to push her sweat dampened hair into place, worried she might find the odd twig she had missed, but after a moment and Yellow had moved on to brushing more dirt off her back, Orange relaxed, allowing the older Diamond to uncharacteristically fret over her.

 

“Sorry.” Orange replied sheepishly, trying to ignore the tingle of guilt in her chest at how she was deceiving Yellow. She had enjoyed her time out, for the most part, she only wished it wasn’t just another thing she would have to keep secret. Lying to Yellow felt so wrong, she almost rather the punishment if she wasn’t so afraid of the disappointment. If Yellow knew she was not only lying to her face, but had directly disobeyed her, she maneuver trust her again. So she kept quiet, concentrating on Yellow’s care of her, a reminder that Yellow looked after her in her own way.

 

After a few moments, and grunting, apparently either satified with her progress or giving up, Yellow stopped, the hand that hand been making her presentable laying down on her own leg beside Orange.

 

Yellow then turned to Pearl, who had been standing by the entrance of the Observation room, composing herself while she was no longer under scrutiny. “Pearl, call off the search for Orange Diamond. No reason to waste time on a gem that’s not lost.”

 

Both waited as Pearl skittered off, leaving them alone before they continued speaking.

 

Orange half expected Yellow to lay into her now that Pearl was gone, for she had to knowing she was lying, but instead she simply reached forward, turning the orb to reflect another view of the colony. “Have you been looking at this long?”

 

It was at this point Orange actually looked at the display, having ignored it before in favor of listening for Yellow. “Not long, just here and there.” Orange said, leaning back, her chest tightening uncomfortably more as Yellow allowed her to lean against her, even going so far as to curl a hand around her, like she normally did when she sat with her, a comfort from days past that Orange couldn’t find in herself to tell her she no longer needed. “Enough to see the Rubies emerge, and some of the landscape in different coordinates.”

 

“Hmm.” Yellow hummed, turning the orb to another view, and then another when she seemed to dislike that one as well. “Then you haven’t seen the Spinel, yet.”

 

Orange could not stop looking up at Yellow in excitement, “You’ve made Spinel?”

 

Yellow tilted her head slightly to look at her, “Yes, but they won’t be ready for another month, though a section has unexpectedly emerged early.”

 

“I’d like to see them.” Orange breathed out. But she’d be gone by then.

 

Yellow didn’t say this, only turning back to the Orb and changing it, settling finally on a view of an ocean, one Orange hadn’t seen from space or from her time planet side. “we will see.”

 

The two Diamonds sat in silence, Yellow seemingly content with her presence alone and Orange stewing in her guilt and thoughts of the colony below. If only they trusted her more, she wouldn’t have felt the need to sneak off, she wouldn’t be lying to Yellow right now. How long would she have to do that until they trusted her to be on her own? Orange knew from stories from Pink, though she figured they were embellished, that none of the diamonds had really thought of her as very mature until she had a colony of her own. It wasn’t very successful, but a colony had been what had forced their hand. Is that what she had to look forward to? Waiting until they deemed her ready for a colony and then, and only them, she would be seen as somehow older and more mature?

 

Eventually, Orange found her voice, her eyes staring out at the water as it lapped in waves at the beach. “Yellow?”

 

“Hmm?” The older Diamond hummed after a beat, and Orange momentarily wondered what she had been thinking about.

 

Pushing her guilt and nerves down, as they would do her no good here, Orange looked back at the ocean and asked in a soft tone, “How old were you when you were given your first colony?”

 

She could practically feel Yellow tense, her head jerking down to look at her, which made Orange look back up at her in surprise. “Old.” Yellow responded, her voice firm, as if she was giving an order and not answering a question, “Older than you. Mucholder, so don’t get any ideas.”

 

Orange felt her temper flare, jerking away from Yellow to turn her narrowed eyes upon her, “That's not…Yellow!”

 

Yellow narrowed her eyes right back at her, pulling the hand that had been curled around her away and responded sternly, “Don’t raise your voice.”

 

“I…” Orange was overcome with mixed emotions, uncertain how to process them all at once, and they came out in the form of her voice raising and tears forming in her eyes as she glared at the older Diamond, baring her teeth and clenching her fist to try and contain her anger. “Why do you and Blue have to treat me like im a child?! 

 

“Orange.” Yellow’s voice held an unspoken warning.

 

Instead, Orange simply lost it, shouting despite knowing Yellow was not the person to upset, or yell at. “NO! You all keep telling me to be a proper diamond, but act like if you let me out of your sight, or let me do something on my own, im going to hurt myself!” It was at this point Orange got up to stand, though she was still much shorter than the sitting Diamond, it made her feel better knowing she was at least standing her ground, both figuratively and literally, “which is it? What am i suppose to do to make you happy? So you see i’m not a child!?”

 

“You are a child!” Yellow’s equally raised her voice, stunning Orange, her words cutting into Orange better than any knife could have. Her voice lowered when Orange didn’t immediately fire back at her, “You’re standing there, yelling at me. That is the act of a child. You demand things to be a certain way, but that is not how this works. You will be treated as a child until you can show you aren’t one. And I can tell you, it is children who cry over not getting their way.”

 

Orange blinked, feeling new tears forming on her lashes.

 

Unlike Blue, who would have reacted to her tears, Yellow simply allowed her to cry, offering no comfort or act of understanding, remaining firm in allowing Orange to release her emotions with no support or comfort from her, her hand not once even moving to touch her. Instead, she raised her head, her eyes not as narrowed as before, but her tone left no room for Orange to believe she was impassioned by her crying or outburst. “Understand this, Orange, when we tell you to do something, we do it for your own good. One day you will understand that.”

 

Orange bit back a retort, ignoring the pain in her lip as she clenched her teeth over her lower lip, turning her back on Yellow so she would not see her face as she broke down further.

 

Yellow stood up, still cautious of where Orange was between her legs, stepping away from her once she was on her feet again. “I have to get back to work. Go to bed, Orange.” Yellow turned away, making for the entrance of the room, “It has been a long day, and you will think better when you’re not so emotional.”

 

Orange’s voice cracked as she responded in quietly, her arms folding over her as her only act of comfort. “Okay, Yellow.”

 

Orange waited until Yellow was out of sight and the sound of her footsteps far enough away to yell in frustration, loud enough that later, she was sure she would realize she had probably scared a few gems below. Falling to her knees, she slammed her hand into marble floor so hard that it created a jagged crack in it, the marble splitting up to the observation Orb.

Chapter Text

If you're reading this, and you like this story, please leave a comment down below to let me know. it really makes my day, and lets me know there still people reading.

 

Yellow Diamond stood back, one hand cradling her right elbow while the other curled around her chin, finger tapping lightly on her jaw. Her eyes narrowed, watching closely as Orange thrust her hand out, her aura twirling outwards from her body and solidifying as it created quite an impressively sized dome for a gem of her size. The energy of the dome twisted around itself, scorching the ground around her as it pushed out from its original position close to her. She head her Pearl gasp at the sight, but largely went unacknowledged as Yellow inspected the dome, the younger gem holding it in place for a moment before it disappeared in a hiss of wisps that dissipated in the air.

 

She hummed as the younger gem turned to look at her, her expectant expression telling Yellow she was waiting for her observation. “Interesting. This dome you create seems to almost burn up and push away everything it touches.” Yellow gestured at the thin line of dirt that had been singed to black around her, “Physical manifestations of pure energy, powerful, useful for a Diamond. But what is it exactly?” Her eyes turned back to the damage the younger gem had done to the ground, “Fire? Basic, but not discountable. Super heated air? Perhaps.” Yellow spoke out loud, her eyes turning down to meet Orange’s again, “Where does it radiate from?”

 

Orange placed a hand to her gem, “It used to just come from my gem, but that wore me down too quickly. I worked out how to move my energy better, and so it comes from my stomach and pushes outward, and becomes a dome if I don’t think to use it as something else.”

 

Yellow raised an eyebrow, “something else?”

 

“I’ve figured out how to concentrate it through my hands.” Orange held up a hand, her fingers splayed out as it and part of her forearms was engulfed in energy, "If I use the dome too many time, it leaves me feeling like I’m burning up too. I can handle it better when it’s just my fists.” She explained, her fingers clenching and the energy flared before finally blinking out entirely, leaving only little wisps of light behind.

 

“Hmm.” Yellowed hummed once more, “Concentrated through your hands...I wonder.” She turned away from her, her arms dropping to her sides as she looked towards a line of soldiers, mostly guards for Yellow Diamond while she was outside the safety of the Spire, but also acting as Orange’s while she joined there. Yellow pointed to one gem in particular, singling out an Amethyst with quite the exaggerated expression of surprise on her rounded face. “You there, guard.”

 

The Amethyst stepped out of line, her expression coming a bit more into control as she saluted to Yellow, “Yes, my Diamond!”

 

Yellow crossed her arms, and Orange wondered if Yellow was bored or if she was purposely intimidating this gem. “I’d like you to engage Orange Diamond in hand to hand combat.”

 

“My Diamond!?” Amethyst squawked in alarm at the same time Orange spoke.

 

“Yellow?” Her eyebrows scrunched together and turned up, “What are you doing?”

 

Yellow turned to acknowledge her as opposed to the gem she had just elected to fight her, “Your abilities are obviously suited for close combat. I wish to see how you do in an actual fight.”

 

Orange’s lips thinned out as she raised an eyebrow at her, “You're going military strategist on me, aren’t you?” She sighed, giving in before any kind of argument could happen, resigned for another fight she hadn’t intended to start. She raised her arms, stretching out her limbs while she asked, “What exactly am I doing?”

 

“You’re using your fists to punch.”

 

Orange’s arms dropped from her position over her, her head cocking to the side to give Yellow a look that was returned with the an eyebrow lift of her own. “Oh, well, if that’s all.”

 

“Don’t get cheeky.” Yellow’s tone was both amused, but admonishing, silently warning Orange to not cross that line, which she could understand. Being sassy to Yellow was one thing when it was just them, but in front of the entire guard would be inappropriate. Yellow gestured to the Amethyst that was now waiting, a look of mild anxiousness twisted her softer looking features, but her hands clenched and unclenched, as if she was preparing herself for her upcoming fight. “Can you do that or not?”

 

“Yeah yeah. Okay.” Orange brushed off her tone, refusing to be rushed as she rolled her neck and then got into the stance Iris had spent the better part of a week perfecting for her. 

 

Orange was tense, crouching across from this Amethyst, a bit anxious herself. The crowds made her a bit nervous, especially since she was showing off powers she hadn’t exactly mastered just yet, like she was at an exhibition match, not to mention it was Yellow Diamond who was judging every thing she did. But it wasn’t just performance anxiety, it was facing an Amethyst as her opponent. Orange and Amethyst did not exactly have a great history, and so long as she wasn’t on Pink’s moon base, she had avoided them pretty well on Homeworld, if she said so. White didn’t employ Amethyst in her palace at all, not since she was quite young, which made it the greatest safe haven she could ask for. 

 

Amethyst made her nervous just to see, let alone be near without a friend she trusted, which at the moment, Yellow was said acting friend, distant friend, but she’d have to do. She didn’t exactly hold her bad history as every Amethyst fault, they and their chaotic habits combined with their more laidback nature just seemed to end up with her having to mend something after being hurt, and thus had become weary of being near them at all. But she certainly wouldn’t have condemned one to being subjected to being beaten up by her, simply for Yellow’s analysis.

 

“Do not be concerned with me, your clarity.” Amethyst said, clearing reading her hesitance on the matter.

 

Trust me, I wasn’t’ flashed through Orange’s mind, and she felt bad for it. She had lamented having to hurt Citrine, so why should she relish this? But she also knew this was something that had to be done, and perhaps it would help her feelings on the presence of amethyst in her life, a version of therapy just for her.

 

However, she had to second guess that as she looked the Amethyst over. she wasn’t quite built like the others in her guard, and she appeared to have moved on from her anxiousness to fight her and was now preparing for the inevitable. “You don’t exactly look like you could hold up in a real fight. You’re sure about that?”

 

“I am one of the top fighters in my line.” She responded, a grin stretched across her face, "I will be fine.”

 

“Right…” Orange huffed, accepting that this gem would be fighting her, and seemed to be quite confident in what would happen, which honestly made her want to show her up. How surprising it would be for her when Orange put her back in her place. Clearing her mind, her bright eyes narrowed on the other gem, rolling her shoulders once more before bringing her arms up into position, “let's go then.”

 

Amethyst brought her own hands up, dropping into a different stance to her own, and Orange quickly looked over the gems guard. It wasn’t perfect, and if she wasn’t aware of where Orange was moving, she would be able to break it from the left and easily enough land a hit from the right.

 

This Amethyst also wasn’t as large as her Topazes, and thus would be much easier to overpower both weight wise, and strength wise. Taking all this in to account, Orange decided to make the first move, charging at a slowed down pace and launch a test shot at the gem, aiming for her right side, which unsurprisingly was blocked by her right arm shifting up to intercept the attack. She was quick to retaliate, with a less experimental hit, raising her left knee to aim for the Diamond’s gut that was easily enough avoided by Orange stepping back. But that seemed to be exactly what Amethyst had wanted, as she brought her leg back and pivoted, kicking out with her right leg, landing an unexpectedly hard kick to her left arm.

 

Fists blazing to life with energy, Orange reached out to grab her extended leg, almost wrapping her fingers around her calf, but just missing when she moved back, jumping to right herself and bringing her hands back up in the same defensive stance as before. Her arm stung from the hit, but went largely ignored as she stepped quickly back to her, invading her space, this time expecting the kick, both the back of her forearm and other hand catching her leg before it could round into her side. Orange glared at her, eyebrows furrowing as she frowned, “You wont be able to keep me away by simply kicking out.”

 

“Wasn’t planning on it.” Her smirk threw Orange off and she was surprised when she pulled her leg free, quickly righting herself and launching towards her all in a matter of seconds. Amethyst hand shot out, light forming in her outstretched hand that her fingers curled around, and before Orange could react to avoid being hit fully, her hand came down on her, the quickly solidifying light swiped against her left brow, dragging down over her eye and the top of her cheek before she managed to shift back, out of her reach. Reacting more out of instinct than strategy, Orange’s aura flared out, reaching out sporadicly in every direction around her, and Amethyst reacted just as quickly, barely managing to jump back before she could be hit. when she was significantly farther away from the young Diamond than she had been, Orange’s aura snapped back to her body, no longer languidly moving around but snapping at the air, like an agitated animal coiled and hissing in warning.

 

Orange’s left hand shot up to cover the left side of her face, pain pulsated from the angry lines that cut into her light form, her fingers curling to shield it from further harm. She couldn’t blink open the eye, even in the protection of her curved palm, without immense pain making her clench her teeth. Orange’s right eye turned to watch the Amethyst as she assessed the damage done in her carelessness. Turning to her hand, Orange realized the light that she had seen in her hand before she had taken her left eye was a weapon.

 

‘That overly polished pebble summoned her weapon!' 

 

In her slightly opened palms, Orange could make out a line of knife-like spikes attached to a bar that curved around her hand, the weapon resembling claws on her palm. A hidden weapon that you wouldn’t notice until she was already digging them into you.

 

“That’s dirty.” Orange grunted, her hand falling away to show the stinging marks that had been created, a collection of different noises ranging from outrage to amazement and praise coming from the line of guards.

 

“This isn’t a friendly spar. It’s all fair.” Yellow corrected, Orange’s eye momentarily cut to her, and Amethyst took the chance to launch back at Orange while she was distracted. Orange, however, was much quicker than her, her good eye darting to her, her left hand coming up and catching her raised hand before she could land another hit with her claws.

 

“You’ve no idea who you’re fighting.” Orange growled lowly, baring her teeth and taking a deep amount of pleasure when shock morphed the Amethyst’s smirk into a frown, her eyes widening when she realized she wouldn’t be able to pull away from the death grip she had on her. Orange’s fingers curled around her wrist, causing her to have to twist her hand to keep it from being damaged in the Diamond’s grasp, her open hand baring the weapon for the others to see.

 

Her other hand raised in the air, catching the amethyst’s attention as it curled into a tight fist, her aura flaring into a twisting ball of energy before it was brought down, smashing her in the side just as the diamond released her wrist, the impact sending her staggering back as her light form sizzledwhere it glitched, trying to repair where a hole had been made, creating a crescent shape in her side. trying too straighten up with the hole attempting to repair itself, glitched lines starting to fragment up and down her side. her hand that didn’t hold her weapon covered the glitched hole in her form protectively, her teeth bared right back at Orange in anger.

 

“I’m the one with dirty moves? What was that?”

 

“Payback for my eye.”

 

“Orange,” Yellow called, her voice cutting into the fight and pulling both the younger Diamond and Amethyst’s attention to her. She still stood int he same spot, arms crossed and staring at her fellow Diamond. “I want to see your technique. Not a lowly soldier being bullied.”

 

Orange grunted but didn’t retort, turning back to the guard in front of her. “What happened to all's fair?”

 

Yellow’s voice was admonishing, “It’s hardly fair for her when you could shatter her with a single hit. Stop toying around.”

 

Toying around? She hardly called having her eye taken toying around

 

“Fine.” Orange ground out, dropping into her original fighting stance, her left arm sightly raised from its normal position to accommodate the loss of vision for that side.

 

But instead of making the first move against Orange this time, Amethyst crouched, one hand still covering the glitch in her side and the other raised, teeth of her weapon bared in preparation for an attack. The younger gem took the initiative to attack, knowing her opponent wouldn’t. Taking her left side to be her weak spot, it’s exactly where she aimed for, aura covered hand raised to strike Amethyst. However, the soldier gem caught her off guard, surprising her when she released her injured side and used both of her hands to stop her, both hands, and subsequently the claws of her weapon, digging into her forearm where her aura had receded from and where it wouldn’t break down her own light form.

 

Orange grit her teeth against the pain of the tips digging into her arm even deeper as her opponent gripped harder, angry orange-red lines forming where they bit into and damaged the limb. As much as her instinct was to get away from what was hurting her, she knew If she pulled away, she would only do more damage as the curved teeth of the weapon would be dragged through her arm. Instead, Orange used the moment to her advantage, since she had both her hands busy, Amethyst couldn’t block her fist as it wound back and hit her hard in the gut, just off to the side of where the lines of her form were coming apart.

 

The hit knocked her back, the weapon wrenching from her arm as she fell back, both of her hands going to cover her stomach as she yelled out in what must have been pain, because she had never heard another gem screech quite like that. But Orange wasn’t done, seeing red, and she was over her before she could react. Orange lifted her fist, about to deliver another hit when Yellow’s voice stilled her, again.

 

“Stop.”

 

Breathing out a tense breath, she glared down at the gem as she rolled around on her back, Orange responded without looking up at her. “Yellow? What’s wrong now?”

 

“Who taught you to punch?”

 

Orange was taken aback by the question, her fist falling as she straightened up to look over at Yellow, “Uhh…I have an Agate training me.”

 

“Hmmp. Horrible.” Yellow’s lips pursed.

 

The younger diamond narrowed her eyes at her, insulted, “Not horrible, I like her training. It’s done me a lot of good.”

 

Yellow waved her hand, as if she was physically brushing off her defensive tone, “That’s all well and good, except your punching like you’re a Quartz soldier.”

 

Her face fell from confusion to a more neutral expression as she stared blankly at the larger diamond. “You’ve lost me. How’s that bad?”

 

Yellow frowned, very close to sneering at her, “If you have forgotten, you’re not a Quartz nor a soldier.”

 

Orange’s lips pursed, and she gestured for Yellow to explain as she said, “Well, Yeah, but punching? What am I doing wrong?”

 

Yellow crouched, gesturing for Orange to come to her. Stepping away from the Amethyst, her rage at her opponent temporally forgotten in favor of Yellow’s instructions. “Get into your stance.”

 

Yellow patiently waited for Orange to do so, her arm still raised to defend her blind side before she realized and dropped it back down. After she had righted herself, she looked back up at the elder gem to await further instructions, intrigued as to where this was going. 

 

“You're using too much energy in one punch, for one.” Yellow told her, “Two, you're a diamond, your so much stronger than any gem your ever likely to face. You don’t have to try to hit as hard as you do. Unless you plan to shatter them into dust, at least.”

 

Orange looked down at her fists, seeing them clenched, her knuckled dusted a darker shade where the skin of her form had been damaged, lines of glitched energy still shot up her right arm from where it had been grabbed, but Yellow did not seem to be bothered by it, or maybe it was because she wasn’t. Now that she had stopped fighting, she was starting to notice the pain from it more, but endeavored to ignore it for now. “Oh…so, I’m hitting too hard? Tensing?”

 

“Yes. When you punch, your left arm, bring it up some. You're over compensating for your height. Also, you're not using your hips enough. I can see you're trying, but its not as effective as it should be. use more than just your arms to deliver a punch.”

 

“Like this?” Orange questioned, turning her head slightly so she could see her other arm, slowly moving through the motion of a punch as Iris had shown her, with Yellow’s modification.

 

Yellow reached forward, the tip of her finger adjusting Orange’s arm in its position. “Up a little. There.”

 

“I feel really open, like I’ve dropped my guard like this.” Orange admitted, running through the motion slowly and then quicker, punching the air and trying to adjust to Yellow’s instructions.

 

“You haven’t. You’ve simply changed it to accommodate your new form. This should also make using your abilities much more smooth and not like you’re blindly jabbing at the air.”

 

“I haven’t really had a lot of training with my abilities,” Orange admitted, dropping from her stance and looking back up at Yellow, "so I don’t have much experience combining them.”

 

“You’re doing just fine.” Yellow commended, standing back up. “I’d like you to try again.”

 

Orange turned her head to look back at her opponent, still lying on the ground, holding the glitch in her form. The young diamond grimaced at the sight. She didn’t exactly feel bad for what she had done, but seeing the gem suffering wasn’t pleasant either. “I don’t exactly think she’s going to be a good opponent anymore.”

 

Yellow grunted, looking over to her fallen guard, and then to the line behind her. “Clear her off the field and take her to be treated!” She then turned to another guard while two dispersed from the line to collect their comrade, Orange watching them trying an maneuver her, missing as Yellow pointed out a new gem. “You. You're Orange Diamond’s new opponent.”

 

At those words, Orange turned to look at the new gem that was stepping out of line, saluting to Yellow. She was also an Amethyst, and much more intimidating looking than her predecessor. A larger build, a naturally serious face, not that Orange could blame her. Between being addressed by her Diamond, and seeing another diamond seriously wound her comrade and then be picked to take over the fight she had left off, she couldn’t exactly blame her for lacking a smile.

 

Orange waited until she was moving to the field to begin the short walk back, mirroring her new opponent so they would arrive close enough to the same time so neither of them would be left waiting.

 

Dropping into her stance, Orange adjusted to try and incorporate Yellow’s improvements when she realized she had simply returned to what she knew, ignoring how awkward it felt. Looking up at the new Amethyst, she was in much the same guard stance the first one had been, except her guard was perfect, no openings for the young Diamond to exploit. She remained stoic, no fear, no cockiness, just a readiness, perhaps acceptance, for the fight ahead.

 

And while Orange would have normally been giddy for the chance to fight using one of Yellow’s lessons, especially something like this, but her arm was really starting to bother her, lines of glitching light still ran up her forearm, and while the damage to her face didn’t bother her too much if she didn’t try to move her eye, which is actually quite hard to do, the loss of vision was starting to throw her off. If she wasn’t careful, and focused, this Amethyst would flatten her before she could implement Yellow’s instructions into her fight.

 

“Let’s get this over with.” Orange said, waiting for the Amethyst to acknowledge her words with a single nod before she advanced on her. While she may have had her range of vision reduced, and thus had an entirely new blind side she wasn’t accustomed to, there vision and nothing to do with her legs, and Orange was confident that she could at least keep up her speed for the length of this fight.

 

The young diamond charged, aura flaring from her skin and her narrowed eye observed as her opponent tensed, aware that she had seen her entire fight, knew some of her fighting style and tricks, and was very aware that she could destabilize her form if that orange aura touched her. So she waste all that surprised when Amethyst vaulted over her, avoiding a punch from the diamond and getting out the range of reach for her to hit. Pivoting, Orange had just enough time to cross her arms and block a kick that had been aimed for her back.

 

Pushing her away, Orange’s eyes flicked down to her arm where the glitching flared under the hit, damage further by her heel digging into it before she could stop her. She frowned, clenching her hand tighter in an attempt to ignore the pain the tit brought, and turned her focus back to her opponent.

 

If I’m not careful, I’m going to lose my arm, and that will be a real disadvantage.

 

Moving forward, unwilling to give the Amethyst time to retaliate, Orange was punching at her, energy curling around her fingers, correcting each punch a little bit more than the last as she attempted to become accustomed to Yellow’s suggestions, however it remained awkward, as it simply wasn’t what she knew. But she would at least try, and Yellow hadn’t stopped the fight to correct her yet, so she must have been doing something right.

 

Eventually, Amethyst had had enough of sidestepping and jumping away to avoid getting hit by her devastating punches, allowing her to get another punch in, with her bad arm no less, before she grabbed it, twisting at the elbow and forcing Orange to release the fist she had, her fingers digging into the flickering lines in her form and causing it to spazz further.

 

Between the pain and the anger of being grabbed on her bad arm, Orange was seeing red and she reacted before she could think about it, grabbing the arm of the hand that had her own, energy jumping from her form to burning into her own. Sharp tips of energy licked at her arms and engulfed her hands, forcing her to let go or risk having the energy travel up her arms.

 

Jumping back, Amethyst looked down at her arms, watching as the energy dispersed now that it had been disconnected from Orange Diamond, leaving behind glitching lines in her form where it had burned at her light form, which were unable to reform itself after having been touched by it.

 

The young Diamond covered her right forearm as it glitched heavily, her hand wrapping around it even as it partially fizzled in and out, as if her grip was the sole thing holding it together. Her fist was riddled with deep orange-red lines, the right side of her fist fully glitched light lines hovering in the air, and not even her aura could reach that area, rendering it useless for her fight. Orange grit her teeth, hard, trying her best to ignore the discomfort the continued glitched caused, and the frustration of having allowed herself to be surprised like that. Now she was not only down part of her visual rage, she now couldn’t use her right hand. She had allowed herself to become overconfident in her natural strength as a diamond, and now she was being showed up by a soldier.

 

That's so embarrassing. I was so reckless.

 

Orange frowned, chastising herself for allowing herself to fall back on the belief she could win simply because she was bigger and stronger. She really did have a ways to go in learning just what she could do. Iris would be so disappointed she had allowed this to happen, too. She hadn’t believed these Amethyst could even possibly be close to the Topazes skill level, she had completed disregarded they were on Yellow’s personal guard.

 

Foolish.I had been so sure I was ready for this.

 

“Don’t lose your focus!” Yellow’s angry, booming voice pulled Orange from her personal beratement, her eye widening when she realized Amethyst was flying at her, having pushed off from the ground, fist raised and ready to land a devastating hit.

 

Gathering herself, Orange narrowed her eye, thinking quickly, and realizing that if she allowed Amethyst to get close enough, she could use her dome, for the first time in a battle, to protect herself, and while she was unsure how it would work against an actual physical attack against it, she didn’t see many other options besides fighting her one handed. Waiting until she was practically upon her, Orange thrust out her hand, flicking aura around her body twisted out and solidified, the dome bright and tinting everything orange in her line of vision, but she could clearly see the look of surprise on the soldier’s face, who had not been expecting it. Having launched herself in the air, she had nothing to use to shift her current trajectory towards the diamond, and squeezed her eyes shut in preparation when the dome widened out.

 

The field was silent as everyone watched while the dome expanded, orange flicks of light twisting off it as it connected with the soldier gem, at first stopping her decent towards the younger gem, and then knocking her back, lines forming in every bit of her form that had been smacked into the dome before it exploded in a puff of smoke. At the same time, the dome burst, breaking under the impact, energy flickering away in every direction as it disappeared, leaving a panting Orange Diamond and a purple gem that landed in the dirt a few meters from her.

 

Orange fell to her knees, huffing and biting her lip to keep from crying out in pain, hand going out to brace herself so she didn’t fall forward face first into the dirt. Yellow, either seeing the issues, or sensing there was something very wrong, ordered for the destabilized gem to be picked up and then moved towards her, long legs getting her to Orange quickly. The older diamond crouched down, her large form blocking out a lot of the guard’s view of her, which the younger gem would appreciate when she would have the chance to think back on this moment. She didn’t want them to see her literally falling apart, in pain and on the verge of crying from it. Yellow was about to reach out, fingers already glowing and prepared to help, when Orange was much quicker, reaching over to cover her own arm, hand glowing brightly with energy and Yellow’s hand fell back to her thigh, watching as the glitching on her arm and hand began to mend back together. Orange’s quick, irregular breathing began to settle, though her shoulders still shook with each deep breath.

 

Orange’s eye flicked up, meeting Yellow’s as she watched silently while the younger diamond slowly healed herself.

 

“Look at you,” Yellow chided lightly, “Why did you wait so long to heal yourself? You should have done so before your second fight.”

 

Orange looked away, frowning, her voice rough and strained. “I didn’t think it’d be fair if I healed before the fight.”

 

“You cannot expect the enemy to play by the rules of what is fair. What is considered fair in a spar is not the same in a real fight.” Yellow huffed.

 

Her voice was low, cracking slightly at first, before it smoothed out, any trace of pain Orange was in disappearing from her words, “I know. But,” She looked back up at her, eye wide and showing her hopefulness, ”…how did I do? I wasn’t that bad, was I?”

 

“Hmmm.” Yellow hummed, accepting Orange’s unspoken wish to move on. “You could use improvement, but you’re naturally gifted with strength. Not surprising, I suppose, as all Diamonds are powerful.” Yellow told her. “Though you seem to be easily angered. You must get that temper under control, otherwise you run the risk of being led into a trap you may not be able to escape from next time.”

 

“I know.” Orange sighed, her hand dimming as she pulled it away. The skin of her arm was fully mended, her hand intact and she stretched out her fingers, testing them until she was satisfied she had healed everything correctly. The only signs of her fight being scuffs of dirt that would need to be washed off later. Her hand then went to her face, cupping her eye to begin the process of fixing the extensive damage done there, her good eye looking back to Yellow. ”I wasn’t expecting such an underhanded move, I suppose.”

 

“Underhanded, maybe,” the older Diamond agreed with a nod of her head, "but used your own hubris to her advantage. You were cocky, and then easily angered by what you saw as unfair. A dangerous combination to have. You need to get your anger under control, Orange.”

 

“I know…How do you control your temper?”

 

Yellow rubbed at her chin, considering this. “I concentrate on focusing it on the task at hand.”

 

Orange’s eye fell from Yellow’s gaze, considering her word, and how she had very easily fallen into her anger, and allowed it to open her to attacks simply to get revenge. To show up an Amethyst she saw as beneath her, but that lesser gem had showed her up. A lesson she would not forget any time soon. Orange hummed, squinting as she considered Yellow’s own work around for her temper. “So if I’m fighting…I should focus on using my anger to defeat them?”

 

“Correct.” Yellow nodded, “Let it fuel you, but do not become so lost in it, you are blinded to everything else around you.”

 

The jab of her loss vision was not lost on her, and well deserved, she supposed. “Hmm…okay. I can do that.”

 

After a moment longer, Orange hand pulled away from her face, and she  cautiously blinked her eye open. Her lips curved up into a large smile when her eyesight was returned to her, looking from one side of the ground to the other before looking back up at Yellow, glad to be able to see properly now.

 

“Come. Its time to go back inside.” Yellow told her, and offered her hand for her when Orange wobbled when she attempted to stand up. She did not argue, accepting the older Diamond’s offer and sat in her palm, holding on to her thumb as she stood up, even though Yellow was always careful when she had her in her hand.

 

“Pearl.” Yellow called, turning around in time for both of the diamonds to watch as the smaller gem ran towards them, stopping a respectable distance from them.

 

Pearl saluted, “Yes, my Diamond?”

 

“We are returning. Run ahead to prepare for Orange Diamond’s needs and then return to my command room for further orders.” Yellow commanded, looking down her nose at Pearl as she bowed and then started her quick walk back to the spire ahead of them. Yellow then looked around the field, her guards who had not taken their injured comrades off the field waited in formation for the Diamonds, and Yellow turned away from them, beginning the walk back as Orange turned in her hand just enough to look and see as the guard began following them.

 

Yellow picked their conversation back up, keeping her eyes on where she was walking, but directing her words the the young gem she held close in her hand. “If you could learn a style better suited for yourself, you could potentially combine your abilities into a close combat form that would allow you to repel attacks while delivering them.”

 

“You mean, like combine my dome with my punches? wouldn’t that explode or…wait. Oh, that’d be cool.” Orange eye’s lit up, thinking about how that would work, and already thinking about how she would talk Iris into incorporating her abilities into their training sessions. "I could perfect that with my Topazes. They stand up well to my strength.”

 

“Good.” Yellow acknowledged with a nod, "Sturdy gems will be beneficial for your continued training. I will speak with this Agate of White’s that is-“

 

“Mine.” Orange cut her off before she could bite her tongue.

 

“What?” Yellow blinked, confusion touching her features as she looked down at the gem in her hand.

 

“The Agate, she is mine.” Orange explained, ”As are the Topazes.” She raised her head, feeling a bit more confident when Yellow hadn’t stopped her or belittled her claim. "I can put you through to her, not White.”

 

Yellow raised her eyebrow at her, and for a moment she believed Yellow was going to be cross with her, but she surprised her by giving her a single nod. “Very well. Then it will just be between us.” Yellow’s eyes turned back forward, her head tilting as she considered, “I believe that will be your first official collaboration as a Diamond with another, then.”

 

Orange nearly fell off the older Diamond’s hand as she processed Yellow’s words, her grip loosening and if it had not been for Yellow noticing her faltering grip and using her thumb to keep her from tipping, she would have most defiantly fallen. The older Diamond pausing walking, concerned by her reaction. 

 

“…Official?” Orange breathed out, and Yellow relaxed.

 

“Yes.” She responded, relaxing her protective hold on Orange as she continued walking, waiting as they arrived to the spire, one of the guard releasing the door for their leader as she stepped inside. “As I said. Now, I have to return to my-“

 

“Yellow!” Orange launched herself into the air at her, laughing loudly, even when Yellow’s eyes widened and she bent over, hands flying out, quick to catch and bring her close to her chest, more in habit than by choice. Orange couldn’t stop laughing at the warm feeling bubbling in her chest, quite overjoyed at the moment, and reach up to hug Yellow’s chest before she could stop her.

 

“Orange!” Yellow grunted, surprise wearing off, her eyebrows furrowing and anger touching the edges of her features, “that was dangerous! What if I hadn’t caught-“

 

“Thank you Yellow!” Orange’s voice was loud, her expression of mixture of laughter and tears of happiness, "You don’t know what that means to me.”

 

Yellow quieted, her eyebrows furrowing but she did not reprimanded her further, allowing Orange to continue hugging her a moment longer before she pulled her away gently. “Alright. That’s enough. I do have a schedule to keep.”

 

“Right.” Orange breathed in, calming down but the large smile never leaving her face. "Let’s go to your command room.”

 

“You should clean up.” Yellow suggested.

 

“Huh?”

 

Yellow lifted her hand, two finger outstretched to her, “Hold still.” She ordered, giving Orange a moment to process her words before she reached forward, her fingers glowing and she touched the top of her head. Orange was surprised by the foreign energy she felt, and she had to physically force herself to relax and allow whatever Yellow was doing to work.

 

“What are you doing?” She questioned after a moment.

 

“Healing. You still have a cut on your brow and lip. Can you not feel it?” She asked, eyes flicking over Orange’s face.

 

Orange blinked, surprised and gently shook her head, “No. I hadn’t noticed.”

 

Yellow’s eyes narrowed but she said nothing. After a moment, she pulled away. “There. It is always a task healing you.”

 

“Why?” Orange’s head tilted, her hand going up to feel where she had been hit by the first amethyst, but felt no remaining damage or marks in the skin there.

 

“I can’t say. Perhaps your slightly different physiology.” Yellow suggested, “Blue believes it is simply an ability of yours.”

 

“An ability? But I’m wasn’t doing anything.”

 

“Which is why I believe I am right, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter.” Yellow dismissed the matter, “If it was, I believe White would have addressed it by now. Nothing to be concerned with.”

 

Orange accepted this, nodding and turning to look at where they were going, Yellow taking the stairs up much quicker than she ever could. After a quiet moment, She turned back to the older Diamond, “Thank you Yellow. For today.”

 

Yellow cut her eyes to her, “You're welcome. It’s intresting to see how far along you’ve come in such a short amount of time.”

 

“I have…I have come far, haven’t I?” Orange marveled, thinking about how she once was, and how she was now. She really wasn’t who she used to be.

 

“It is worth noting one’s accomplishments,” Yellow told her, ”Especially when they are your own. You shouldn’t stop trying, however. Do not become content with where you are, there is always room for improvement.”

 

Orange’s smile never left her face, but she did return Yellow’s stare with a more serious one of her own. “I have no plans to stop. I need to become a lot stronger. I won’t be satisfied if I can’t be prepared to be a strong Diamond for the Authority if it is needed.”

 

“Good.” Yellow told her as they entered the command room. "You should be prepared for as much as you can be. Of course, you won’t see a real fight of any kind for a long time, but it is good you intend to better yourself.”

 

“I have people who I care about, that are worth fighting for.” Orange sat a little straighter, "I have no intention of sitting on the sidelines forever.”

 

Yellow laughed, actually laughed, “You're much more feisty than I remember. Good.”

 

“Good?” Orange parroted, confused.

 

“It is good to see you coming into your own. Do not think I’m not aware of what occurred on Blue’s base.” Yellow lips lifted into a smirk, looking down on Orange to she her eyes widening and her cheeks dust a darker orange-red color.

 

“I though she hadn’t told you.” She admitted sheepishly.

 

Yellow set her down on the edge of her seat’s arm, where Orange swung her legs off the side to hang while she held on, waiting as Yellow sat down. Looking around, she noted that Pearl had yet to return to them, and must still be busy with her orders, She turned just in time to watch as Yellow sat back, her work screens appeared and surprisingly, continued their conversation.

 

“I wasn’t aware when you arrived, but was later informed.” Yellow responded, looking over her screen to witness Orange frown, her face burning in embarrassment. “I am not as surprised as she is, at least not by the outburst.” She admitted, ”You have never been one to just sit and listen, as much as she’d like to believe it so.”

 

“You're not upset?” Orange asked meekly.

 

Yellow worked on her screen as she answered, “What happened is between you and Blue Diamond, and is not my business. However, I would warn you against trying that with White.”

 

Orange’s response was immediate, “I would never.”

 

The older gem’s eyes cut to her, serious, “Good. I know what it is like to be forced to sit on your hands and listen and instead of taking action, like you want. Just remember that we have a lot more experience than you.”

 

Orange frowned. “But isn’t that apart of learning? Messing up?”

 

“It can be.” Yellow considered, “but this is one of those things that must be handled with delicate hands.”

 

“You mean it could go bad for everyone if I was known about publicly.”

 

“Yes.” Yellow confirmed, rather bluntly.

 

Orange stared down at her lap, quiet a long moment, enough for Yellow’s hand to pause as she looked back over to Orange as she eventually responded, her voice quiet, “…I understand.”

 

“Good. It shows you have grown that you see the bigger picture. Diamonds like us must put aside our own feelings for what is best for our Empire.”

 

The younger diamond’s eyebrow’s screwed together as she tilted her head, “But isn’t what I feel important?”

 

“Yes.” Yellow answered slowly, considering her choice of words carefully, "But there is a time and place for feelings and when we must act as the stalwart leaders we must always be. Our emotions can not rule us.”

 

Orange was quiet again, this time Yellow did not look up from her work, content with the quiet and companionship of the younger gem with her while she thought on their conversation. Eventually, Orange turned to Yellow, who looked up at her when she spoke, “…I think I’m going to return to my room for a while, so you can work in peace. Thank you Yellow, for your guidance.”

 

Yellow cocked her head towards her, giving her a single, firm nod. “Go. Finish cleaning up and rest. You’ve earned it.”

Chapter Text

Orange sat on the side of Yellow’s chair, legs dangling off the side as she twisted around to look at what the elder diamond was doing. She hadn’t used Yellow’s assistance to get up there, and Yellow had done little more than look up from her screen when the smaller Diamond had begun climbing up her chair, a dark eyebrow raised at what have must have been an amusing site as she easily enough pulled herself up and jumped over to the side of the arm. Yellow did not bother to move her arm as Orange sat down near her, proceeding to stare at what her fingers were typing out.

 

“What are you doing, Yellow?” Orange questioned, eyes not moving from the screen. Long lines of script covered the pale yellow screen, large blocks of text and the occasion symbol that indicated caste ranks, proceeded by a complicated image of lines and simple shapes she didn’t quite understand the order of would appear. Yellow would adjust lines in these images and then add more text below it, explanations and lists of gem types, but no actual designation were added.

 

Yellow took a moment to respond as she corrected another line on one image, and deleted another entirely, displeasure momentarily twisting her lips downward. “Going over information on troops and formations.”

 

“What troops? Is this about all the gems you’re  making? Am I aloud to see?” Orange asked in quick succession before Yellow could reply, swinging her legs against the chair, intrigued to see Yellow’s more militaristic talents in use. The lines were confusing, and if it weren’t for the specific directions in the script, she wouldn’t have known what line was meant to do what.

 

“You may look,” The older Diamond’s voice was stern, looking at Orange for emphasis in her seriousness, “but do not touch the screen.”

 

“I won’t.” The young gem promised. Shifting in slightly, practically using Yellow’s shoulder as a pillow to lean against, she looked curiously at what was outlined. Now with a clearer view, the diamond read what could be seen before Yellow scrolled up to do more or revise what she already had. The descriptions talked about entire groups of gems, exact numbers listed, as well as destinations with specific coordinates, and where and what sector they would need to be. Looking at another imagine, Orange realized that the triangular symbols represented gems that were in charge of other groups of gems, these captain gems were listed by destination and color coded by outlines in one of three diamond colors. Even just having the head gems listed, Orange was surprised by just how many she was planning to use. What kind of invasion was this? “That’s a lot of gems.”

 

“They are more than just my own.” Yellow explained, shifting when Orange leaned more against her, adjusting to accommodate the weight being pushed against her shoulder. “This is Blue’s.” She pointed out a certain section of the screen, and then scrolled up to show more gem symbols and instructions she had fleshed out and already corrected, “And these belong to Pink.”

 

“Oh.” The young diamond blinked, glancing over the information as she began to scroll back down. "You’re creating strategies for them?”

 

“Yes. I have a call with Blue and Pink to go over what i have done, and must insure everything is correct.”

 

Orange sat up from leaning against Yellow, looking up at her with wide eyes, “You’re talking with Pink Diamond?”

 

Yellow paused what she was doing to look down on her, an eyebrow raised high and her lips tugging down into a frown before she turned back to her work, “Pink and I may not always agree, but is it really that surprising to you that we speak?”

 

“No,” Orange shook her head, “it’s just…” her eyes fell from Yellow’s, a more mellow expression sliding onto her face, "I wish Pink would speak to me.”

 

Yellow’s head snapped to her, eyes rounded as she blinked at Orange in startled surprise. “What?”

 

Orange didn’t quite understand Yellow’s reaction, but answered her all the same. “I tried to call Pink a few times, after I called you and Blue?” Orange waited until Yellow gave her a nod in acknowledgment, “She never answered me. I called her once more, but it was last on Homeworld, so I don’t know what time it would have been for her. I know she’s been busy, so I haven’t really tried to call again....I guess I figure she’s just not going to answer.”

 

Yellow’s lips thinned out, her eyes slowly going back to her screen were she typed out a few more things before she spoke, “Busy indeed. With the war efforts, she shouldn’t have the time for much else.”

 

“War...efforts?” Orange echoed, the breath in her lungs suddenly feeling choking in her throat. “Yellow?”

 

Yellow looked up again, briefly, and something in the younger Diamond’s expression must have been very telling, because her expression softened. “You haven’t been told?” She paused, as if considering her own question and coming to a conclusion quickly enough on her own. “Of course not. White wouldn’t worry you with such things.“

 

“Yellow!” Orange’s voice held a tinge of panic, her eyes wide and demanding, “What war efforts?”

 

“Currently, Homeworld is fighting an escalating battle against those ridiculous Rebel gems on Pink Diamond’s colony.” Yellow paused, her eyes narrowing at her screen. “I will admit their leader seems to be at least somewhat clever, considering she has managed to keep an even match of us so far. We are wasting soldiers and resources on something that should have been settled centuries ago, and no matter what strategy I come up with, she always seems to be a step ahead. The whole situation is infuriating.”

 

Orange hardly cared about the rebels, and how difficult they were being for the older Diamond, “But Pink? She isn’t...”

 

“Don’t be silly.” Yellow chided, “She is fine. But,” Yellow amended a moment later, her eyes cutting down to look at her when Orange’s head fell into her hands as she sighed loudly, profoundly relieved to hear that. “no matter how busy she is, she should make time to answer a call from a fellow Diamond. I will remind her of this.”

 

Orange’s panic at the new information drowned in her sudden elation of the chance to speak with Pink, and she looked up at the larger gem with wide eyes and a growing smile. “You’ll tell her to call me? Thank you!”

 

Yellow’s eyes flicked to her and back, a simple nod of her head. “It’s a matter of principle, really.” Yellow scoffed, “Ignoring one’s own peers like that.”

 

Things were quiet after that, Yellow continuing to note things down, and Orange watching her, better understanding what was going on now. But, now that she knew that this wasn’t just practice or colonization work, but actual war efforts, it somehow made it all incredibly important for her to know and comprehend. It also made her think on the rebellion, and Rose Quartz, their leader. She was no longer simply blockading Homeworld’s efforts to colonize, they were now fully fighting them, so much that Yellow diamond had called it a war. Rose Quartz was meeting Yellow and the other diamond’s efforts, which was just…astounding. How could she be so much trouble, and why had it all escalated like this? The last she had given it any attention she had been nothing more than a thorn in Pink’s side. It was such a waste of what was obviously a perfectly made gem.

 

Orange concentrated on the screen when she asked the question that had been gnawing at her, her voice quiet, “We, um, the Authority, is going to stop the Rebellion, aren’t you?”

 

Yellow grunted, her lips forming a frown at the question, and Orange could see it bothered Yellow, or maybe it was that Orange had questioned if they would lose at all. “Yes. Of course we will.”

 

The younger gem frowned, She was not a part of the Authority, and she had nothing but a few gems to her name, and she would not give them up, as much as she wanted to be of service. “I wish I could help.”

 

“You are.“ The older diamond responded, her hand falling away from her work to rest across her lap while she turned her attention to Orange, which surprised the smaller gem.

 

“How?” Orange questioned, intrigued how Yellow could ever think she was helping.

 

“Your visit cheered up Blue.” Was her response, "And I am glad for the distraction you have given me.”

 

Orange blinked, her head tilting down as she considered this. She wasn’t stupid enough to not understand Yellow was simply offering some comfort for her lack of ability to help, but it was also something to consider that she might actually be some background figure. Not everyone could take the spotlight, after all, right? “So…I’m moral support?”

 

“Correct.” Yellow gave her a single nod.

 

Smiling, the younger diamond chuckled, pleased she could at least say she was helping in her own way. “I’ll take it.”

 

“Mmm.” Yellow hummed as she turned back to her screen, "I need to concentrate, Orange.”

 

“Do you need me to leave?” Orange questioned, prepared to vault off the chair to allow Yellow to do her work.

 

“Only to remain quiet.”

 

“I can do that.” Orange nodded, leaning back in to look at the screen. "I’d like to keep watching you strategize.”

 

“Quietly.” Yellow reminded her.

 

“Quietly.”

 


 

Orange sat in her room, cross legged on her bed with a metal bowl laying in the hollow they created, little colored tablets piled inside. The obscene amount was almost silly to see, but Orange shoveled them down like a champ, almost able to completely ignore the taste they left after all this time. After having downed half the bowl, satisfied to have at least quenched the gnawing hunger, an unpleasant feeling she associated with her more organic origin, she had made a game of tossing the tiny pills in the air and attempting to catch them on her tongue. She was quite pleased to be without an audience for her less than delicate table manners, though if she had been back home, the Carnelians would probably have gotten a kick out of seeing her, more often than not, smack herself in the face when she missed. 

 

She was absolutely starving after an impromptu training session with some of Yellow’s guard, including the two Amethysts she had fought before. While she wasn’t fond of the overly cocky one, who was still quite confident in their ‘friendly’ sparring session, the more serious one harbored no ill feelings about what happened, and Orange used to chance to speak with an Amethyst freely. She was still nervous being near one, old feelings that she harbored for so long would not die so quickly, but it was a start. When she had arrived back to her room, Pearl having already foreseen her need for some, the bowl awaiting her before she even got back to the spire.

 

Orange threw another tablet into the air, and was startled when a loud sound from the other side of the room caught her attention. Her head snapped to her desk, the tablet she had turned from hit her head and fell to the bed but went unnoticed and forgotten when the young diamond’s eyes landed on her communicator, the little device blinked, chiming loudly to alert her of an incoming call.

 

She was jittery, overly excited, and incredibly nervous, having finally calmed down her ancipatoon for the call during her spar, only for it to come back full force in that moment. She nearly spilt half the bowl onto the bed as she slung it to the side, getting up from the bed and running to the desk. Before she was even sitting down she was activating the device, just managing to sit back in the chair as she watched with wide, excited eyes as it expanded into a large, two diamond shaped screen. White static temporally filled the screen before it was replaced by a very familiar face.

 

“Pink!” Orange cried out the moment she saw her before she could stop herself, leaning forward to be closer to the screen.

 

Pink, much like her, lurched froward from her position in her chair to be closer to her own device, her hands darting out to hold the bottom of the translucent diamond screen, “Zirconia! Oh, stars!” The older Diamond’s eyes lit up, her voice cracking as she spoke, "You’re alright. I haven’t heard from you in so long.”

 

Orange’s smile dropped slightly at the reminder, “Ive tried to call multiple times.”

 

Pink’s own face fell, excitement and joy being subdued as her eyes widened, her eyebrows turning up and her mouth opening and closing multiple time, like she just couldn’t comprehend that. Eventually, she managed to say, “You…you have? I haven’t gotten them.”

 

“What?” Orange’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline, “That’s…that’s so weird.” Despite the feeling in her gut, Orange began to chuckle as she rationalized the forced silence between them, "There must be an issue with your communicator then. I remember tossing that thing around quite a bit, probably more than i should have. It might need to be replaced by now.”

 

Pink’s eyes darted to the right of her at something Orange couldn’t see before she turned back to her, the sadness slowly being drowned out by another emerging smile as she looked at her. “Yes, thats possible.” She nodded, “Oh, but forget the stupid communicator!” Pink had tears forming in her eyes, her voice taking on an airy quality as she reached up to touch the screen, "It’s so good to see you.”

 

“I’ve missed you.” Orange responded, tears forming in her own eyes, realizing in this moment just how true that was.

 

“I’ve missed you so much.” Pink’s tears started to slip down her face, but her smile only widened, "I was…I though- oh, it doesn’t matter. I’m just so, so happy to hear your voice.”

 

“It’s wonderful to hear you too. But,” Orange grinned, wiping away her tears before they could fall, “It’d be even better in person.”

 

“It would.” Pink Diamond nodded in agreement, “It’s…I miss having you here.” She motioned towards the room around her, but Orange understood what she meant. “This base isn’t home without you in it.”

 

Orange waited a moment, her eyebrow raising as she asked a little cheekily, “Then you wouldn’t say no to a visit?”

 

Pink’s eyes rounded, “Zirconia? I thought White-“

 

“Lifted my probation.” Orange cut her off, “I’m free to go where I please, within reason, of course.” Orange explained, "I mean, i plan to stay on Homeworld, but i want to come see you.”

 

Pink blinked, her face falling at the news, “You’re…you’re going to stay on Homeworld? Permanently?”

 

“I…”the young diamond smiled despite Pink’s reaction to the news, having anticipated she might not be so on board with it, but continued on all the same, “there's so many things i want to tell you about, and talk with you about. So much has happened. So much has changed. I’ve changed. But-“

 

“You look happy.” Pink interjected, her eyes displaying her surprise of speaking without thinking.

 

Orange took a breath, settling more into her seat as she thought about the statement. A small, content smile slowly formed on her face as she met Pink’s gaze, “I am. i really am.”

 

“I…” Pink shook her head, her expression being replaced by another large smile as she laughed, light and happy sounding, “I’m so glad to hear that.”

 

Waiting a beat, Orange moved on to a more recent topic she simply had to confirm. “I heard from Yellow, the rebels have started a war with Homeworld? An actual War?”

 

Pink’s eyes turned from hers, her eyebrows turning up in what looked like discomfort,“Y-yes.” Pink confirmed before looking back up at her, "I am strategizing with Yellow to fight them on a larger scale as i prepare more kindergartens to be created to help the war efforts. I’m having to rush the next one, unfortunately.”

 

“But what about you?” Orange pushed, "Are you safe? You’re not getting near the fighting, are you?”

 

“Yes, I mean, no.” Pink shook her head, her hand coming up on the screen, which Orange touched with her own, “I’m safe. don’t worry.” Pink reassured.

 

“I’ll always worry when it comes to you.” Orange responded,” That’s a two way street, you know?”

 

Pink’s eyes softened, her head tilted to the side as she regarded Orange with an affectionate look, her eyes shimmering slightly with more tears. “Look at you, you sound so wise.”

 

“Hardly.” The younger gem scoffed, "I just…things have really changed. I mean, before I left Homeworld to go see Blue, I was training with J9 and G2, they’re two of my Topazes i got as a gift from White. Anyway, we were doing this training maneuver that ended up with me hanging upside down from a broken pillar. It was entirely my fault, of course, but it was funny in the moment. Or at least I thought so. Iris Agate, another of my gems,  was livid.” Orange laughed at the memory, and even more so at the face Pink pulled at the news.

 

“What?” Pink’s voice raised an octave as her eyebrows shot up into her bangs, “Just what are you doing on homeworld?”

 

“Thats one of those things i wanted to talk with you about. In person.” Orange reiterated, "I want to come see you.”

 

“Yes.” Pink’s response was immediate before she could even think on it, sitting forward even more in her seat as the excitement shown on her face, "Yes! come here immediately.”

 

“How about a week from now?” Orange offered, "I’m still staying with Yellow. I’m spending time with everyone, before my extended stay on Homeworld. I’ll also need to see about organizing a ship, and clear everything before hand, since I would have been returning home.”

 

Tears slipped down Pink’s face again, “I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll be right here, waiting.”

 

“I’ll see you soon then.”

 

“I look forward to it.” Pink sighed, sitting back in her chair, and taking the screen with her. “I don’t like being cut off from you.”

 

“I don’t care for it either. I…” Orange’s eyes dropped from Pink, looking down at her lap, "I know what I said last time I saw you. I didn’t mean it.” Orange looked back up, her lip pulled between her teeth to keep it from quivering as tears fully streamed down her face, "I’m sorry.”

 

“Oh, love.” Pink breathed, her hand going back up to touch the screen where Orange’s cheek was, "Don’t think on it. I know...I know you didn’t mean it. You were upset, and for a very good reason.” Pink waited a long moment, allowing Orange to wipe her face, but the tears hadn’t quite stopped despite her words. "How…how are you doing about that?”

 

“I…It’s still not something I really ready to talk about openly.” Orange rubbed the back of her hand against her nose, sniffing loudly as she attempted to calm her tears, but the relief of having heard Pink had forgiven her was such a big relief, she could help the ugly crying that refused to stop. "But i’m okay. Better, at least.” Orange took a deep breath, "Maybe…maybe when I see you, we could talk about it?”

 

“I understand.” Pink nodded, "Take all the time you need. I’ll be here.”

 

Orange eventually managed to stem her tears into a few drops falling down her cheeks, sniffing loudly again as she calmed herself enough to look at the older diamond much clearer now that she wasn’t looking through tears. “Pink?”

 

“Zirconia?” Pink mirrored.

 

Orange gave her a large smile, chuckled born from joy bubbling in her chest. “I Love you.”

 

Tears spilled from Pink’s eyes before she could even react to them. “I love you too.”

 


 

Orange smiled as she waited for the other end of the call to pick up. Her patience was rewarded as the screen went from static to the view of Blue’s Pearl, and even though she couldn’t see her eyes, she could tell by the expression on her face, she was surprised to see her.

 

“Orange Diamond.” Pearl acknowledged, “What may i do for you?”

 

“Is Blue busy?” Orange questioned.

 

“Pearl,” Orange heard Blue speak and she watched as Pearl turned to looked at Blue to the right of her. “Who is it?”

 

“It is Orange Diamond, my Diamond.” Pearl responded.

 

“Oh!” The sharp note was followed by a sound of ruffling, and Orange waited as the screen was passed off to Blue Diamond, Blue's eyes expressed her joy at seeing her, her lips curing into an open mouthed smile. “Orange! i wasn’t expecting to hear from you so soon.”

 

“I know, i imagine you’re still pretty busy.” Orange nodded, a part of her glad to see the Blue was still very happy to see her. “Yellow told me what’s going on, with the war with the rebels and all.”

 

Blue’s smile fell, ever so slightly, the way it did when she was trying to hide her displeasure about something while keeping up her good mood. “Of course Yellow has told you. She has never been subtle about such matters.”

 

“That might be my fault.” Orange’s smiled turned sheepish and she chuckled lightly, "I asked, and you know Yellow doesn’t care to lie, or side step things. I was worried when she brought up Pink.”

 

Blue sighed, her eyes shimmering as her eyebrows turned up slightly, her smile kind, “There is no need to worry. Pink is safe. we would never let anything happen.”

 

“I know.” Orange agreed, "I talked with her earlier. I’m so glad i got too as well.” The joy from earlier bubbled in her chest, warming her and fueling her good mood. "Which, brings me to why i actually called, not that i don’t enjoy simply seeking with you.”

 

“What is it?” Blue’s eyebrows raised in question.

 

“I have a favor to ask.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“May I borrow a ship and a small crew?” Orange pleaded, using her best wide eyed look to help push Blue into agreeing, “I know you don’t want me flying myself, and while i’m sure Yellow would agree to let me if i asked, i figured I’d respect your wishes to not.” she said, and based on the look on Blue’s face, the explanation had obviously pleased her. "I really don’t want to worry you, but I spoke with Pink, and made very last minute plans to see her.”

 

Blue nodded, “And you need transport to her moon base?”

 

“Yes, please?” Orange confirmed, "i would be forever grateful.”

 

“Hmmm…” Blue hummed, her eyes falling from the screen to look at something Orange couldn’t see before she sighed, turning back to the younger diamond. “Okay.” Blue agreed, earning a quick cheer from Orange that made her laugh. "I’ll see what i can do. It should be simple with the ships that are already being sent there.”

 

“Thank you, Blue! This means so much to me.”

 

“I know.” Blue responded, "Pink will be so excited to see you. She deserves to get to see you as well.”

 

“I’m glad i’m getting to see everyone.” The smile on Orange’s face was mirrored by Blue, "I wasn’t sure i would get to see her.”

 

“Between Yellow and I, we will arrange it.” The older Diamond promised. “If that was all, Orange-“

 

“Work, i know.” Orange cut in, nodding, "thank you again, Blue. Really.”

 

“You are most welcome, Orange.” Blue giggled, Orange’s good mood being contagious, "i will send Yellow the information, so she knows.”

 

“Okay.” Orange grinned as she gave her a small wave, “Goodbye Blue. Orange Diamond out.”

 

Chapter Text

Orange smiled as the dropship entered open Sol space, small, familiar planets coming onto the console’s scanner, the screen lighting up with a signal that the nearby planets had been pinged on the radar. Leaning forward, Orange tapped on the Captain’s command console, bringing up more recent information collected on the previously surveyed planets, as well as a time projection to their arrival of the ship’s marked destination. During early lessons, the young Diamond had learned that Homeworld had hoped that the handful of other planets in Sol might have been useful for more colonies in the future. None were deemed viable, at least not the way Pink’s colony planet, the Earth, was. If it wasn’t an issue with climates, or the gravity, it was the actual make up of the planet, so utterly useless that not even the best Lapis Lazuli would be able to terraform it to work.

 

The only thing that was noted as a potential interest during the initial survey, by Yellow Diamond nonetheless, was the belt of asteroid around the inner planets of the system, which Yellow specialized in finding useful materials from the planetoids. However, whether from Pink’s refusal to have another Diamond stationed so close by, or because it had been pushed off as a potential mining spot after Pink had successfully turned her colony, the ring of asteroids had remained untouched. Hitting another button, a view of the Earth’s moon, as well as a basic schematic of the moon base filled the screen.

 

Orange couldn’t remember a time she had felt happier to be nearing Earth’s moon base, except for perhaps the first time she had been returning from her first stay with White Diamond, when both she and her Pearl were strangers to her and she wanted nothing more than to be back in her mother’s comforting arms and the familiar pink walls of the base's spire.

 

In all honesty, she was giddy. It had been too long since she had seen Pink, and while not the longest she had been away, it felt like they had been centuries apart. Between her angry parting words and the situation she had found herself in, what had become her surprisingly pleasant life semi-independent from her mother, she felt more than ever the distance that had been growing between them. More so than just physically, but the distance that had been slowly created from her jealousy of the Sol colony to her pulling away in favor of the other Diamonds when she realized Pink would not be there for her as she always had as time went on. As the Sol Colony needed more of her attention when the Rebels began to grow from more than just a simple Rose Quartz gone rogue.

 

Something she recognized as entirely selfish on her part, not that she saw it that way in the moment. She had been an angry child, feeling abandoned and scared of losing her mother. She believed she had since grown from that experience. A stronger, wiser person, who didn’t need be indulged so heavily, but still someone who missed her mother like crazy. Of course, only time would tell if that was true.

 

It seemed, after every wrong turn she had recently, things were finally looking up. She not only felt more and more like herself, like a person she could be proud of being, she was getting to see the other Diamonds, her family. Her friendships were growing in number, forging bonds outside of what she had always know, more than just the Diamond’s Pearls, or an odd guard. She finally felt like she was emerging from the shadows and seeing a light she had only known from a distance. A light that made her feel radiant, powerful, like the gem she wanted to be.

 

It was wonderful seeing Blue, even with the little hiccup in their time together, Blue somehow always managed to make her feel cared for, even when she didn’t know it was something she needed. Experienceing Yellow’s guidance again was enlightening, alike and yet so different from Iris Agate’s teachings. She had even had a moment to speak with White Diamond and her Pearl days before, when she was calling to ensure she would be able to get to see Pink, considering she was still, technically, under White Diamond’s care and seeing Pink Diamond hadn’t been on the schedule. White Diamond had agreed and had seemed quite happy for her to be getting the chance to see Pink, saying it would be good for the older Diamond to see her before she came back to Homeworld.

 

“We will be arriving shortly, my Diamond. The view of Pink Diamond’s colony is so stunning, even from here.”

 

Orange absentmindedly nodded in agreement to the voice before she fully registered what had been said, taking a moment to pull back to reality, she turned her attention to the owner of the bright voice.

 

The Nephrite captain, a different one with a different crew from the one that had ferried her to both Blue and Yellow Diamond’s colonies, waited with her hands clasped in front of her for the young Diamond’s response. This Nephrite had a cheery disposition and seemed all too pleased to take her to Pink Diamond’s moon base before she and her crew would ultimately be stationed on Earth to join the fighting. She had engaged the younger gem in small talk before they had even taken off from Yellow’s colony, pleasant and inviting, like every person she talked to was already a friend.

 

Orange decided she rather liked her, and found it hard to believe she was one of Yellow’s gems with how lively she was, not that she was complaining in the choice to have her be the one to bring her to Pink. She had certainly been in the presence of surlier gems who had made rides to a colony unpleasant.

 

Looking from Nephrite to the viewer, the young Diamond took in the sight of Earth and it's moon, the system’s sun set as an almost blinding backlight behind it, while a much smaller red planet she had never bothered to learn the designation of blocked off part of the view at their current distance.

 

Even after five centuries, the Sol colony that was the sole conquest to Pink Diamond’s claim, had not changed much at all. Unlike most of the planets Orange had watched colonized in her life, drained of their life force to the point they withered and cracked apart at it's very core, the Earth had barely been altered at all. It was still the same brilliant blue of a sapphire in the sunlight, landmasses of vibrant green and mountain rock hearty in reds and tans. White-blue clouds marbled over it all, reflecting a spectrum of light from the nearby sun.

 

When she wasn’t thinking of it as some personified thing that was stealing her mother from her, subjectively, it really was a breathtaking sight to behold.

 

“It is, isn’t it?” Orange finally spoke up after what was probably a too long pause from the initial inquiry, but Nephrite was gracious enough to gloss over her distracted state in preference to move towards the consoles, the nephrite to her left turning to acknowledge her captain.

 

“Contact the base.” The Captain told her, “Get us clearance to the moon base before we’re shot down, if you would be so kind, my friend.”

 

Orange couldn’t hold back her grimace at the unintentional reminder that, technically, she was going into a war zone. One where she, and the older Diamond that was her mother, would be at the safest spot they could be, but a danger none the less. It was a wonder that she was allowed to come here at all, but perhaps White had more belief in her capabilities than she was aware. Or, more than likely she supposed, she simply knew the guards would be enough to stop any rebels with ideas, that is if they somehow managed to highjack a warp pad.

 

The nephrite crew member gave the captain a single nod before turning back to her own console. “Yes captain. Bringing up coms now.”

 

In mere moments, the skilled nephrite had connected to the base’s sky control officer, the screen of the viewer changing and filling with the upper half of a seated gem, enough that the pink diamond symbol could be seen on her multicolored bodysuit. She was a pale lime colored Peridot with square shaped hair even paler than her complexion, accentuated by the darker colors of her suit. Her visor reflected the light of her screens, making her eyes appear dark in comparison to everything else about her, her tone dull while she addressed the ship. 

 

“You are entering the protected space of Pink Diamond’s moon base. This is a restricted fly zone.” She spoke with a flat, nasally timbre, utter boredom reflected on her face in the form of half lidded eyes and a slanted frown tugging on her lips while she recited a script she must say at least a dozen times a cycle. “Any and all unauthorized ships will be shot down. Reduce your thrusters and transmit your authorization codes within the next standard minute, otherwise I will be forced to initiate the orders to defend our great and magnificent Pink Diamond’s base. You have been warned.”

 

“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t shoot us down. I just had this ship polished before we came here, and it’d be terrible to have it scuffed up like that.” The captain responded humorously as she motioned for the Nephirte beside her to begin transferring the requested codes.

 

The control officer scowled back at the captain, her thin brows pinching together behind her visor. “I don’t care about your ship. If you do not have the proper codes, you can retreat or be shot down, the choice is yours.”

 

“Calm down, the codes are being…” The nephrite that had been designated to the job cut in, “Almost…done, and…” the entire crew and young Diamond turned to watch as the nephrite’s slim fingers flew over the console, entering commands and typing in long strings of characters that Orange, unfortunately, could not make out from her position in the Captain’s chair. In only a few moments, she was leaning back, cocking her head up to look at the Peridot, who was not even paying attention to her but at a screen to her right. “Done.”

 

“One moment.” Peridot continued to work on the screen, even after several moments had passed, which was starting to make Orange nervous. What if their codes had been changed last minute? It wouldn’t be too outlandish, considering they were entering a war zone.

 

The Captain, still with that sugary sweet tone, began to tap her foot on the metal flooring, hands clasped together behind her while she tilted her head up to look at the control worker. “We have a very important guest. You might want to hurry.”

 

Peridot’s eyes cut to the Captain, narrowed on her in indignation before they returned to her work screen. “I will not be rushed. It is important we ensure…” Peridot began to trail off into silence as her annoyed expression slowly slipped off her face, eyes widening as her jaw dropped, staring at the screen. “We ensure…oh gosh!”

 

“Is there an issue?” Orange questioned at the same time the Peridot turned back to the crew’s screen.

 

 The controller’s cheeks darkened as her lips pulled up into a forced, nervous smile, as one would when trying to be polite in an awkward situation.“Oh gosh! Oh gosh! Orange Diamond! My apologies, I had no idea this was your ship! Please, continue on, we will have a landing area and escort guard prepared for you at once.”

 

Orange refrained from reacting to the the suddenly nervous Peridot, as awkward as it was, she was aware this would become a common enough occurrence the more she got to travel on her own. There would always be gems to fawn over any Diamond they had not been expecting to interact with. Sitting a little straighter, the young Diamond gave the green gem a single nod, keeping her facial expression neutral. “Very well. Alert Pink Diamond I have arrived.”

 

“Of course my Diamond,” Peridot nodded more times than Orange thought was necessary, "as you wish.”

 

Orange turned and nodded at the Captain, and the connection was lost, returning to the view of Earth and the moon base. “Well, did you hear that, Captain?” Orange offered her a small smile, "We have a welcome party awaiting us.”

 

“You heard her, crew.” Nephrite cheery tone was loud and clear, all eyes of the crew turning to her. ”Let’s finish our set course.”

 

“Thrusters reengaged,” one of the crew members called out as they all began working on their individual consoles. “Reducing initial speed.”

 

“Pink Diamond’s moon base approach.” Another called out. “3 minute ETA.”

 

Orange leaned back and watched the main viewer, eyes focusing on two small, mostly unimposing ships that hovered motionless in the empty space above the moon. The sleek gold metal of the octahedron shaped ships reflected the near by sun’s light on one side, and the moon’s on its opposite. Three leg-like prongs sprouted from the backside of the ship, resting against the back faces of the ship's body, red oscillate lights on their ends the only indication that they were not actually stabilizers for landing.

 

“Captain, what are those ships?”

 

The Captain turned to look at Orange Diamond in question before following her line of sight to the ships. “Those are our new imperial warships, my Clarity.” Nephrite answered deligently and with as much enthusiasm and excitement as Orange felt just from looking at them. “They are one of three new lines of ships. Quite efficient, and much more maneuverable than the hand warships. I believe they are still a work in progress.”

 

“Amazing.” The young diamond mumbled, mesmerized by the ships. She very much wanted one, or at least be allowed to test drive it. It had been much too long since her last hands-on flight and she missed the control over the sleek machines and cutting through a system with abandon.

 

A few moments later, another crew member was speaking up over the beeps of multiple consoles in use, “We’re getting the okay to enter lunar atmosphere, Captain.”

 

“Proceed.”

 

“Breaking through. Slowing to minimal thrust for descent.”

 

The Captain nodded, focusing on the view of the moon base before them. “Take us down.”

 

Touch down was simple and easy, the crew experts at their craft and proud under their captain’s enthusiastically delivered praise.

 

“Radioing in, Captain.” The nephrite to her right reported, "Escort party is on standby for Orange Diamond.”

 

Orange stood up, turning to face the captain as she turned to the young Diamond. Twisting her arms into a diamond salute, Nephrite bowed her head to her, “It has been my greatest honor, my Diamond.”

 

“Thank you for the escort, Captain.” Orange offered her a genuine smile, “You and your crew were excellent. Do be safe on Earth with those shameful excuses for gems. I’d like to see you back on Homeworld sometime.“

 

“Thank you, my Clarity!” the captain chirped, “We will win this war yet!”

 

Stepping off the ship alone was odd, considering the last two times she had debarked with it’s Captain the last two times. Orange paused on the ramp as she found herself looking down on a line of four gems she wasn’t familiar with. Four quartz gems stood with their arms crossed in a diamond salute, head leveled and looking directly at her.

 

“My Diamond.” They bowed their heads in respect, the quartz to the far left spoke up for all of them, “We will be escorting you to the base, Orange Diamond.”

 

“Very well.” The young Diamond stepped off the extended ramp, addressing the one who she assumed was in charge, "Take me inside. I wish to see Pink Diamond immediantly.”

 

“Yes, your clarity.”

 

Pink Diamond’s compound was much smaller than the previous one Orange had been staying on, which could have been seen as a reflection of how extensively Pink was different to the three diamonds that came before her, but Orange theorized that Pink could have possibly wanted it this way. A simple base for a relatively small planet, less room to be crowded by her guards and soldiers, a reason to be given as much independence as possible. Orange could never comprehend before why Pink would want to be secluded away from her family like that, and to an extent, she still couldn’t. But she understood the want for space, no matter how little could be claimed.

 

Glancing around, the young gem noted new buildings that had been added on the perimeter of the compound, oblong, sleek pink and the source of more gems moving around the grounds than she can ever remember seeing in Pink’s command before.

 

Interested in the changes to the base, Orange turned to the head Quartz soldier, “There is a lot different, and i haven’t been gone all that long. Tell me, what has changed?”

 

The soldier seemed surprised by her question, or maybe that a diamond was even talking to her at all, but she was amenable enough to answer the young diamond’s questions. “With the war’s change, things had to be built quickly, my clarity, especially on Pink Diamond’s base.”

 

Orange tilted her head toward the gem in interest, “Continue.”

 


 

Pink Diamond stood in the center of the circular room, hands fidgeting with the ends of her skirt, turning her head towards Pearl to talk while her body remained facing the double doors. Her eyes continuously shifted to the doorway every few moment and losing her place in their jumbled conversation

 

“Oh, Pearl, what's taking so long?”

 

Pearl, as patient as ever, allowed her Diamond a moment to breathe before explaining, “Orange has only just arrived on base, my Diamond. It will be a few minutes more.”

 

“Really? It feels like we’ve been waiting so much longer.” Pink paused, going rigid before she turned to look at Pearl with wide, slightly panicked eyes. "You don’t think she’s having second thoughts, do you?”

 

“My Diamond?” Pearl blinked, confused, but not entirely surprised by the question. Pink Diamond had been a nervous wreck for most of the early cycle, pacing to and fro in her command room, as if she was anticipating something would go horribly wrong, or already had, and she was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not even Pearl’s best words could comfort her, and when they had finally gotten word from the space control that a Homeworld ship had entered Sol space, Pink was darting down the stairs before Pearl could even confirm it was Orange Diamond’s escort ship.

 

“I mean, she might not want to be here.” Pink continued, touching her fingers to her lips as she turned to look at the door, her eyebrows slanting up as her eyes shimmered in the light of the room. “She could decide she wants to return to Homeworld.”

 

“My Diamond, please calm down.” Pearl pleaded, “It has only been a few minutes since Orange Diamond’s landing.”

 

“But-“ Pink turned her head back to look at Pearl, eyes wide, but hopefully scared, breaking Pearl’s heart.

 

“If I may remind you, my Diamond,” Pearl interrupted her before she could work herself up more, “It was Orange Diamond’s idea to come here. She, if you mind my frankness, is very stubborn once she decides something. Much like you.”

 

This got a small smile from Pink, who took a breath while her hand fell away from her face, but returned back to her skirt, “You think so? I suppose you're right. She did seem excited when we were talking, didn’t she?”

 

“Yes. So please do not fret. She will be with us soon.”

 

No sooner had Pearl finished speaking did the doors to the spire open, letting in the natural light from outside and attracting both of their attentions. Pink Diamond’s head whipped around to catch the first sight of Orange as she stepped into the building, followed closely by four Quartz guards Pearl had chosen for her.

 

Pink froze, lips slightly parted and eyes taking on a whole new shine as she stared at her daughter, who hadn’t noticed her quite yet, giving her time to take in her appearance without interruption.

 

If it hadn’t been for the guards for a visual comparison, Pink might not have noticed the subtle height difference between them, the older diamond positive she was taller than she had been when she left for Homeworld. She was not only taller, but she seemed to have lost some of the roundness in her face, her eyes sharper and jaw more defined, though it was somewhat hard to tell exactly how much as she had her head turned towards one of the guards while she stepped into the spire’s entrance. She hadn’t changed too much physically, not that she had expected her to, she still had the same clothes that Pink remembered, and the same long, bright orange hair with those tuffs that stuck up at odd angles, as it always had since she was a baby. 

 

But it was something else entirely that stuck out to Pink, the way she walked, how she seemed to take up more room than just physically between her rather imposing quartz squad escorts. It was in the way her shoulders were squared, her steps confident as she led the four gems inside, like the moon base was hers and she was the one guiding them around. It was simply like a glowing change in the young gem she had cared for, and loved, for centuries. A newfound strength and confidence that she hadn’t exactly lacked before, but certainly hadn’t exhibited it to such a noticeable extent. At least, Pink had never noticed it until now.

 

Orange, as if sensing her stare, looked up from the quartz soldier towards the inner room, her body freezing mid step, the young gem stopping so suddenly the escort guard barely had enough time to react and stop from walking into her back. Orange’s eyes widened as she met Pink’s eyes, fixed only on her to the point the movement around the base was lost to her, the quartz that had filed in behind her respectfully keeping their distance as they waited for Orange to react, or even Pearl, who stood silently beside her diamond, watching the tense exchange with darting eyes, jumping from one diamond to the other while silently willing one of them to do something. But neither of them made a move, Orange standing in the door way and Pink in the center of the atrium, frozen with a look as if the very air of the spire had been sucked into the vacuum of space.

 

It was Orange that found her voice first, her breath rushing past her lips as she simply uttered in a tiny voice, “Hey.”

 

Pink’s eyes teared up, the sound of Orange speaking knocking her from her stupor. In an instant, she was running towards the younger gem and pulling her into her arms for a tight embrace. Her cheek pressed down on the top of the younger Diamond’s head, tuffs of hair flattening under her wet cheek while her arms wrapped around her back to hold her close as Orange responded in kind, holding onto Pink as she shakily returned the hug. 

 

“Zirconia.” Pink sobbed, unashamed to be crying in front of her own gems, who had paused to watch the scene.

 

Orange ducked her head under her chin, tears burning her own eyes as her lip quivered until she began to cry herself. “Mom!”

 

That single word seemed to tip something over in Pink Diamond, her sobbing becoming loud and her hold becoming almost uncomfortably tight on Orange while the younger gem cried into her chest. 

 

Pearl watched, taking a step towards them before she stopped herself from interfering with their reunion, even if her Diamond’s sobs were becoming quite ugly and uncontrolled, a distraction to everyone in the base who had stopped to watch the quite touching moment before them. It wasn’t exactly every day you saw two of your leaders crying in each other’s arms.

 

Eventually, the tears slowed, and Pink simply knelt down, refusing to let go of her daughter, fearing if she let go, she would never get this chance to hold her like this again. More tears slipped from her eyes as she realized that on her knees, Orange was no longer shorter than her and Pink was actually able to look her in the eye by slightly tilting her head back, a reminder the younger gem was growing up, regardless of whether she was there or not.

 

“Mom?” Orange’s voice was hoarse and throaty, snot stuffed nose and wet eyes that looked down at her when she tilted her head to remain looking at her.

 

“You haven’t called me that in so long.” The older Diamond told her earnestly, more tears burning her eyes that she didn’t fight.

 

Orange's eyebrows scrunched up, something between embarrassment and grief twisting her features, “It’s not that i didn’t want to, but White asked…”

 

Pink didn’t understand why it hurt to hear, she should have known better, knew she shouldn’t have been, but it hurt to know it was White that had persuaded her daughter to stop referring to her as her mother. She didn’t know why, considering she knew how White Diamond could be, knew that one way or another she would have it her way, but it felt like a betrayal she could never have expected. It made her wonder what else that had caused her grief regarding Orange had actually stemmed from her intervention. What else had White asked her to do?

 

”But White doesn’t have to know.” Orange chuckled, unaware of Pink’s inner turmoil, worry flickering over her glossy bright eyes when Pink didn’t respond right away to her awkward attempt at humor in the tense moment. “I can still call you that, right? I mean it might be weird after everything, but-“

 

“Of course you can!” Pink cut her off, voice rising in pitch as she leaned back to look her directly in the eyes, one hand reluctantly releasing her back to reach up and brush one of the locks that curled onto her face. “I’ll always be your mother. Always.”

 

Orange bit her lower lip to keep from crying out again, “I’m glad. I’ve missed you so much.”

 

Smiling, a laugh bubbled up in Pink's chest, bursting from her mouth as she leaned her head against Orange’s, the thumb of the hand still curled around her cheek rubbed it affectionately, wiping away stray tears of her own. “I’ve missed you too. I always miss you when you’re away from me.”

 

The guard Orange had been speaking with made a loud, short, grunting sound that pulled the two Diamond’s attention, the quartz pointedly looked away, but the nervousness of her body language as she shifted from foot to foot, and the way she held a curled hand to her mouth as if she had just cleared her throat and was embarrassed to have interrupted them, made it very clear she was uncomfortable with having overheard their rather emotional exchange. And she was not the only one, the other three guards were determinedly looking away from them, giving them the pretense of privacy, but being unable to move away without specific orders.

 

Orange blushed brightly, embarrassed herself to have allowed the Quartz soldiers to overhear them, and turned to Pink, who look decidedly less flustered than she, but aware they had perhaps caused a scene unintentionally.

 

“Perhaps we could go to the command room.” Orange suggested, the overwhelming urge to get away from the situation now, or more namely, the gems that had unintentionally just heard her pouring her heart out to the older Diamond while she cried like she was a small child again.

 

Pink offered Orange a small smile, wiping at a few tears on her cheeks and nodding, “That a good idea.” The older Diamond then turned to the guards that had been escorting Orange inside, “You're dismissed. Please return to your original duties.”

 

Pulling themselves together surprisingly quickly, the four gems straightened up and saluted the two diamonds.”Yes, Pink Diamond!”

 

Pink stood up, Orange offering her hands to her mother who gladly accepted the help up. Once on her feet, Pink turned to where she had left Pearl to find the small gem already moving towards them, a small smile on her face as she met her Diamond’s gaze.

 

Pearl turned from Pink towards Orange, bowing her head respectfully, “It is good to have you back, my clarity.”

 

Orange offered Pearl an even smile, “Its nice to see you as well, Pearl. You look well.”

 

Pearl nodded her head once in acknowledgement, “Thank you, my diamond.”

 

Pink sighed, a smile stretching her lips as she looked between the two gems, “I'm so glad to see you two get along.”

 

Orange and Pearl glanced at one another, exchanging a knowing look as they both turned back to Pink. “Of course,” Orange responded, “Pearl and I are friends.”

 

“That is right, my Diamond.” Pearl nodded again.

 

“I can never tell with you two sometimes.” Pink reached down, either hand going to touch the back of both their heads affectionately, earning twin smiles from the both of them. “But I’m happy to hear that.”

 

“Don’t worry about us, mom.” Orange reassured her.

 

At the use of her reinstated title, Pink's smile brightened and she gave Orange a single nod. With a gentle tug in the direction of the stairs where her hands still touched their heads, Pink urged the two to walk with her. “Let's go upstairs. There is so much we have to talk about, Zirconia.”

 

Orange and Pearl followed Pink’s leisurely pace to the stairs, Pearl trailing behind the two larger gems and their longer gait, for which they did not take too much notice of, their attention half on the stairs, and half on each other. Making a point to look around as they walked, Orange noted the extra gems inside the spire as well, casting her eyes from one gem to the other as she asked over her shoulder to the older Diamond, “I know there’s a war, but why all the gems? You hate having so many in your moon base.”

 

Pink’s lips thinned, her own eyes looking to the gems that were slowly going back to their jobs now that the scene between the two diamonds was over, “Yellow…suggested I keep more gems in my base, simply as a precaution. A stupid precaution. I don’t need all these guards, or the space control. The Rebels don’t have ships.”

 

Orange blinked, a little surprised how much Pink’s words rung with her, or rather, how close their words were. How long ago was it she had been saying essential the same thing to Blue?

 

“It does seem a little like overkill.” Orange agreed, counting at least ten gems alone in the atrium, although not all of them were guards or soldiers. “But…” Orange looked back up at Pink, “you're also warring with unpredictable Rebels. It might be better, just for now. If Rose Quartz manages to get inside the base somehow, it could be dangerous.”

 

Pink worried her lower lip between her teeth, looking up the stairs and then back at the younger gem, her eyes showing her protest, even as she spoke, “That is…sound, I suppose. You have been learning from Yellow. You sound like her.” She noted.

 

This earned a surprised look from Orange, that quickly morphed into something akin to pride at the notion, “You think so? I should hope. She’s really smart, and I’ve been staring at battle plans for a week, but it’s all been kind of running together. I’ll admit, it sort of goes over my head, but I can get the gist of it.”

 

Pink remained silent a moment, thinking over Orange’s confession and the expression on her face, and knew this was her chance to learn more about her daughter that she felt she had missed out on. “Do you…do you like battle planning?” she questioned, almost hesitantly.

 

Orange tilted her head, humming as she considered the question, “Mmm…planning? Not really. I rather just punch things, to be honest.” Orange made a quick jabbing motion in front of her as she grinned, obviously happy to be talking about something she liked with Pink, before she hastily added, “If I have to. Or not fight at all.”

 

Pink was the first to enter the command room, Orange and Pearl following in after her. Pearl remained behind to lock the entrance to the room while Pink and Orange began to ascend the stairs to Pink’s command chair, ultimately remaining at the bottom of the platform to give the two more privacy.

 

Orange took the moment to continue talking, “I like the exercise of sparring,” she explained further, “but…I don’t really want to hurt anyone, if i don’t have to.”

 

Pink cocked her eyebrow at Orange over her shoulder, her expression not quite appalled at the notion, consider Orange had already told her about her incident with the Topazes, but something much more akin to confusion. “But you’ve been learning to fight anyway?”

 

“Well…what use would I be as a diamond if I can’t?” The younger diamond proposed, using the same reasoning she had to persuade White Diamond to allow her to begin her lessons with Iris Agate, “What if I’m ever separated from my guard? I should....I want to be able to defend myself, and those around me.” Orange looked to Pink, assessing her expression to judge whether she should keep talking.

 

Pink, seeing Orange’s hesitation, smiled kindly at her as encouragement. “You have always been incredibly smart, my love.” Pink stopped to reach out and pet Orange’s cheek with affection, "I would never have thought of it that way. Your friends are incredibly lucky to have you to protect them.”

 

Orange’s cheeks burned, “I’m lucky to have them.” She countered before she could hold onto the words, but she would be a liar if she said she didn’t like the praise of the older Diamond. “And a lot of them don’t need protecting.”

 

Pink nodded, “But its always nice to know that we can if we need to.”

 

Orange nodded her head in agreement, keeping step with Pink as they continued up the stairs, “Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to fight now, it’s amazing. I had no idea you could use your body like a weapon.” Orange held up her hand, her expression morphing into amazed wonder as she dived back into the topic, "I’ve never seen you, or the other Diamonds, fight. I didn’t even think it was something we do, honestly.”

 

Laughing softly, Pink titled her head as she considered this. “I suppose it could be surprising, fora lot of people. We only would in certain situations.”

 

“That’s what White Diamond says.”

 

At the mention of White’s name, Pink had to stop the smile from falling from her face, if only for Orange’s sake as she continued talking about something Pink could tell she felt passionately about.

 

"She doesn’t really care for my interest in fighting like Yellow does, but she lets me anyway.”

 

“She lets you?” Pink could not stop the raise of her eyebrow or the slight contempt in her voice, but Orange either didn’t notice or refrained from commenting on it.

 

“Well, I had to talk her into it.” Orange gestured with her hand as she explained, her smile brightening as she added, "Pearl helped, of course. Well, helped me talk it out some.” she chuckled, “she’s really smart when it comes to word play.”

 

“Pearl?” Pink’s breath hitched as he she quickly enough realized who her daughter was talking about, but asked for confirmation to be sure. "As in White’s Pearl?”

 

“Yeah.” Orange turned her head down when she felt her cheek begin to burn, the smile flattening out some as she hastily added, "We, sort of, talk. Sometimes.”

 

Reaching the top of the platform, Orange joined her at the top a step after as she had turned to her. “If I remember right, you called her a good friend before.”

 

“Oh,” Orange breathed out in what Pink could only describe as a sigh of relief, “that’s right. You know.” The tightness in Orange’s posture loosened at the reminded, a soft laugh slipped from her lips as she pushed back some of the hair against her neck, turning her head away as she did so. Her eyes looked at the older diamond from the corners of her eyes, gauging her reaction as she admitted, “I…I guess I was getting used to lying about Pearl and I being friends.”

 

Reaching out, Pink gently cradled her face between her hands, turning her head to look at her. “You don’t have to lie to me. You can tell me anything, I won’t judge you.”

 

“Really?” Orange questioned in disbelief, “I know you and your Pearl are close, but…” Her eyes cut away from Pink’s gaze before returning as she asked in a quieter tone, “You're okay with White’s Pearl and I being real friends? Even though she’s...a different class?”

 

“Of course.” She quickly reassured, her eyebrows turned up at the look of relief that softened the younger diamond’s feature. “Do you remember…”  She questioned as she comfortingly rubbed her cheek with her thumb, “when you were younger, and you could not comprehend why I was so upset with how you were talking to my Pearl?”

 

“I…oh.” Orange’s cheeks flared in embarrassment and shame, “I remember that.” She confirmed, her eyebrows scrunched together as she frowned, “I can’t believe I…I think back to that, and I wonder how I could think like that. 

 

“You were young.” Pink responded, “You didn’t know any better.”

 

“But I think about Pearl, and how much I care about her.” The younger gem explained, “To think of someone insulting her like that…” Reaching up, Orange grasped the hand that held the right side of her face, giving it a soft squeeze. “I can see why you were so angry at me.”

 

“But you understand now.” Pink said pointedly. “That’s the important part.”

 

Orange nodded, her expression turning to one of mild frustration a moment later, “I’d punch someone if they talked about Pearl like that.”

 

Pink’s eyebrows shot up into her hairline, “You don’t need to resort to violence, just because someone has said something you don’t like.”

 

“I know.” The young diamond’s lips pulled at one corner as her eyebrows turned down, “I…I can just imagine it though, and it really makes me mad to think someone could say that to her.” Orange explained, "I know it’s just my short temper, though. Yellow has been helping me with controlling my anger. “

 

“Do you..” Pink tilted her head down, her eyes briefly looking away as she searched for the right words, fearing to upset her daughter with the topic. “Are you still having outbursts of anger? Has Yellow been really been helping?”

 

“Yes. Sometimes.” Orange answered easily enough, and Pink got the impression this was something she was becoming used to talking about, and she wasn’t sure if she should be proud, or hurt that it was something she had to become accustomed to talking about at all. “I’ve tried pushing down how i feel, or ignoring it, but that only makes it worse. I tried focusing it into lessons, but I just can’t do what Yellow does. I feel...I feel really frustrated. But it isn’t so bad when I can take it out in a spar with the Quartz soldiers, or in a long run.”

 

“I’m sorry.” Pink blinked back tears that burned her eyes, surprising Orange.

 

“For what?” She questioned in confusion, alarmed with the sudden change in Pink’s expression.

 

“You shouldn’t have to go to Yellow, or anyone for help like that.” She admitted her guiltiest thought, "I should have been there for you. I…I've been thinking, of all the times I let you down.” Pink pulled away from orange to wipe the tears from her own face, her head turned down in shame, “I promised, the moment I held you in my arms for the first time, that I’d always be there for you, and i fear you're so angry because of me. I’ve let you down so much, Zirconia.”

 

“No you haven’t.” Orange stepped forward, reaching out to pull Pink into a comforting hug, making Pink’s lips quirk up sadly even as she returned the hug, one hand going to Orange’s back and the other weaving into her hair to hold her close.

 

“How could I not have?” The older diamond questioned, "You…I should never have agreed to White’s decisions. I should have fought for you so much harder.”

 

“Don’t say that. I’m..” Orange tilted her head back to look Pink in the face, "I’m glad things have turned out this way.”

 

“How?” Pink’s voice raised slightly, her eyes widening in disbelief, "How could you be happy that I’ve left you to rely on the others over me? I’m your mother. I should be the one you turn to for help, I should be the one helping you, and teaching you, and-“

 

“Mom. Stop.”

 

Letting out a long breath, Pink’s shoulders slumped, her grasp on Orange loosening as something that could only be described as defeat came over her face. “I’m sorry. I’m just so sorry.”

 

“I don’t want you to be.” Orange responded in a much more determined tone, ” I…I’m glad for how things have been. I love my time with the others, I’m grateful to be able to see them. You haven’t let me down. You’ve let me grow.”

 

“But-“

 

“Pink. Mom. Really.” Orange smiled, comforting and bittersweet,” I…I used to blame you. I used to think that, yeah, you were abandoning me. But in reality, I was being given the chance to be myself.”

 

Pink sniffed, her grip on Orange tightening again as she began to return her daughter’s smile more genuinely.

 

Encouraged, Orange continued, “I could never be who I am if I was always here. I wouldn’t have all the people in my life if you had constantly been by my side.”

 

“I still should have been there.”

 

“Maybe.” Orange conceded, “But we can’t work on maybe's, or should be's. It’s happened, theres no changing that.”

 

Sighing, Pink continued to hold onto the hug with Orange with one hand while she wiped at the still falling tears on her face, “You shouldn’t have had to grow up so fast. You should still be playing in the base, and pranking the guards, or bothering the Pearls.”

 

“I don’t want to be a child forever.” Orange countered, ”I don’t want to prank people. I do other things. I’m...I don’t want to be seen as the child everyone has to take care of, or watch out for. I want to be a part of the Authority, and someone the others can rely on. I want to be the Diamond I know I’m am, and someone you can be proud of.”

 

Pulling away slightly, Pink’s hands went from Orange’s back to cup her face again, “Oh, my love. I’m already so proud of you.”

 

“You are?”

 

“Look at me?” Pink chuckled humorlessly, “I’m sitting her crying and telling you that you should still be my little baby, but you’ve grown up so much. More than I ever noticed. You’re so strong, and you’ve already started doing things on your own. You're so unafraid and determined. How could I not be proud of the person you are?”

 

“Thank you.” Orange breathed out, not stopping the tear that escaped to slide down her cheek, a smile breaking out on her face.

 

Pink raised her eyebrow, “For what?”

 

“For telling me that. I really needed to hear that from you.”

 

“I thought you already knew.” Pink admitted, "I’m so, so proud of you, Zirconia. I loved you before you even came into this world, and I always knew you were going to be someone special. Homeworld is so lucky to have you.”

 

“Hah.” Orange reluctantly pulled away, using the back of her hand to wipe away the tears on her cheeks, “Are we going to cry all day? I feel like that’s all we've done.”

 

“It has been a very emotional day, hasn’t it?” Pink agreed, wiping at the wet tracks on her own face, “But it’s alright to cry.”

 

Orange grunted in response, as she hesitantly admitted, “I don’t like it. Crying makes me feel weak.”

 

“Don’t. Don’t feel that way.” Pink told her, the serious expression on her face surprising Orange as she clarified, "Crying is normal, and it doesn’t make you weak. Your allowed to feel, and your allowed to cry when you need to.”

 

Orange nodded, accepting the explanation, though the expression on her face told Pink she wasn’t entire convinced, but did not push the matter further than that. Taking a breath, Pink slowly pulled herself back together, feeling much lighter in wake of the high emotions of the day. 

 

Orange sighed loudly, cleaning her face with her hand again and forced a smile her face, “I don’t want to cry any more right now. I want to do something happy.”

 

Pink returned her smile, inquiring, “What did you have in mind?”

 

Looking over her shoulder, Orange looked at the sighting of Pink’s colony, clear from her view on the platform. “Tell me about your colony.”

 

Pink’s eyebrows scrunched up, “War isn’t exactly happy.”

 

“Not the war, the planet.” Orange clarified, turning back to the older Diamond. “You always like talking about Earth. I’ve never really given you the chance to talk about it with me. Tell me about it, and it’s organic.”

 

“Are…are you sure?” Pink questioned tentatively.

 

“Yeah….” Orange pursed her lips and gave Pink a single, firm nod. “Yeah. I want to know. Tell me anything, everything. I want to know.”

 

A few moment passed as Pink stared at her, her expression turning from one of hesitance to something much more elated. Motioning fro Orange to follow her, she lead her to the other side of the desk, sitting on the first step of the stairs and waiting for Orange to join her. Turning to look at the unobstructed view of Earth, Pink began to talk. “The planet…the planet is beautiful, Zirconia. It’s still so alive, even after everything.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

A bright laugh bubbled up from Pink’s chest, breaking the natural silence of the room as she was finally settling back into her command chair for the day. The smile had barely left her face for a moment, not since her Zirconia had returned, and their long talk that had managed, when nothing else had worked, to eased both her heart and mind.

 

It felt...well, it felt amazing, she felt amazing. Like a weight she had never known even existed had been lifted after repairing what she thought had been long burnt bridges with her daughter. Of course, she knew not everything was fixed, or could be mended with a few words and tears, but it was a start and one she was glad to be given.

 

Truely, she hadn’t realized until she had started crying upon Zirconia’s return just how much she had built up, or left unattended so she could focus on Earth and the rebellion. She had packed so much away, ignored or down right denied she felt one way or another, anyone could have foreseen it would only be a matter of time before the callously stacked pile of problem would come crashing down on her. Her only grievance was that it had come crashing down at Zirconia’s feet as well, but her daughter, in all the ways she still amazed her, had dealt with it in such a grown manner. She certainly seemed to be more put together than Pink was in that moment.

 

As bright and strong as the Diamond she looked up to, much to Pink’s, initial, dismay. As much as Pink disliked the thought, she had to acknowledge all of Yellow’s meddling had given Zirconia the stepping stones to be such a strong diamond. Well, certainly not all Yellow. She would never give the older Diamond so much credit, her ego didn’t need the help. A lot of it was Zirconia herself, and her own strength and motivation. Her darling Zirconia had blossomed into such a fine young gem, everything Pink had ever hope and dreamed for her, and yet somehow more.

 

“You seem happy, my Diamond.” Pearl observed out loud, gaining Pink’s attention, her large smile and bright eyes turning to her pearl.

 

“I am.” The Diamond confirmed, “Zirconia has returned to us. I know it’s only for a little while, but...” Pink sighed blissfully, relaxing further into the cool back of her chair, “I feel so weightless, I could float away. My daughter is here with me. I hadn’t  realized how much I was really missing her until now.”

 

“I’m glad to see you so happy.” Pearl’s lips curled to mirror Pink Diamond’s  own smile, “Orange Diamond seems to be as well.”

 

“I know, isn’t it great?” Another giggle escaped her lips that she made no attempt to conceal, “I’ve never seen her take such a keen interest in the Earth, she’s getting along so well with everyone, and, oh Pearl,” the diamond leaned into the side of the chair, arm propped up while she rested her cheek into her palm, “I’m so glad to have her back.” she paused as realization crossed her face, another giddy snicker, “I keep saying that, don’t I? I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be, my Diamond. It is, well, it is nice to see you in such a good mood. You haven’t exactly been…” Pearl hesitated before adding, “Even the rebels had begun to notice you were upset.”

 

Pink sat a little straighter, her smile falling some, “I didn’t realize they were talking-“

 

“No, no!” Pearl waved her hands, cutting her diamond off before she could continue, “Nothing like that! They are just,” Pearl paused, considering her words carefully, “Concerned. They see you as Rose, and you were so subdued, but it’s okay!” Pearl forced a wide smile in an attempt to reverse where she accidentally take their conversation. “I simply explained to them the war has been tough on us all. They understand, everything is fine. Its nothing to worry about, nothing to worry about at all.”

 

“Thank you, my Pearl.” Pink reached out, touching Pearl’s face affectionately, the smaller gem’s cheeks burning at her words and touch. “What would I do without you?”

 

“Oh, Its nothing, my diamond. really.” Pearl turned her eyes away from Pink’s, her cheeks still tinged blue as she continued to speak, “The rebels were just worried. Rose is their leader, what we do would not be possible without you.”

 

“Yes…Rose Quartz.” Pink hands slipped from her face as she leaned back, turning to look out the glass dome across from her desk, the Earth appearing to be half perched on the flat, gray marble. “But they don’t have to worry anymore.” Pink’s lips quirked up, “Everything will be fine now.”

 

“Because Orange is back?” Pearl questioned.

 

“No, well yes.” The diamond paused, her head bent down for a moment as she debated how to explain herself to her friend. Taking a breath through her parted lips, Pink turned in her chair to face Pearl, her hands moving from the chair’s arms to comfortably rest in her lap. “Pearl, you know how much Zirconia means to me.” She paused for a moment as Pearl nodded, “I have become accustomed to her being away from me for periods of time. But…”

 

Pearl leaned forward, placing a comforting hand onto Pink’s. The diamonds eyes looked down at the small hand, the stark contrast of Pearl’s almost white skin and her pink gloves keeping her eyes there for a moment before she flipped her hand, holding her hand in her own gently, grateful for her small kindness.

 

Pink looked back up at Pearl, the smile she had flattened out some at the more seriousness of their topic, “The way we parted last time, and with White’s intervention so that she was staying with her…I was unsure when i’d see her again. You know how she is,” Pink paused a moment, aware that White was neither of their favorite topics, perhaps more so for her pearl than herself. “I don’t doubt she may love her, in her own way, but she doesn’t understand Zirconia. Not like how we do. She could kill her, and not even mean to, because she doesn’t accept that Zirconia isn't fully a gem. I feared i’d never see her again when I called White and I heard nothing from Zirconia after.”

 

Pearl’s thin eyebrows pulled together, “You thought Orange had been killed and White wasn’t telling you.”

 

Tears pooled in the diamond’s eyes, “I didn’t know what had happened, except that she had made White angry, and she is far from as rational as she likes to believe she is when she’s angry. I have never been able to reason with her like that, no one has. If she really did try to punish Zirconia like I was, she wouldn’t stand a chance. No matter how strong Zirconia becomes, I don’t believe she could ever stand up against White Diamond.”

 

Pearl sucked in a silent breath, “You believe Orange may have to fight White Diamond one day?”

 

“No, no, Pearl.” Pink shook her head lightly, a humorless smile curled her lips and crinkled the sides of her eyes, “That’s not what i meant.”

 

Thin eyebrows turning up, Pearl gave her a look that conveyed her confusion, “I’m sorry, my diamond, but I don’t understand.”

 

“I’m mincing my words. What I’m trying to say,” Pink huffed, “Is that without knowing where Zirconia was, how she was doing…if I would even get to see her again. I was suffering, Pearl, not knowing. If she was alive, if I would get to apologize, if i would even get to see her grow up.” Pink’s free hand moved from her lap to cup her gem as a wave of coldness settled low in her belly, “Not knowing was destroying me.”

 

“Oh.” Pearl looked down at their still linked hands and hesitantly offered Pink a light squeeze with her own, “And now you know for certain where you and Orange Diamond stand.”

 

“I know that i have her back, and things aren’t as bad as i had imagined.” A moment longer, and Pink pulled her hand away, sitting back and situating herself to be properly in her chair. Reaching forward, Pink made a motion with her hand to bring up a screen to work on. Nimble fingers typed a few commands on it, bringing up actual work she had been neglecting that Yellow would surely lecture her for being late with. “And it has been wonderful having her back here. If i’m being honest, I have no real reason to be here if she isn’t.”

 

Pearl was quiet a moment as she considered her words. “The Moon Base does seem livelier,” She conceded, “and the Amethyst seem quite fond of having her…challenges between their assigned work. There has been a significant rise in moral on base.”

 

Pink perked up, cocking her head slightly to address Pearl, lips curving up in a small smile as she recalled her first time actually witnessing the young Diamond wrestling with the soldiers stationed there. “Has it? I was a little worried. I know she didn’t mean to but, after what happened with her pearl…I guess i’m just naturally a little worried something might happen, and seeing her knock one of them to the ground was surprising!” Still trying to work, Pink turned her eyes back to the screen while she motioned with her free hand, gesturing animatedly as she spoke fondly, “I thought she might hurt them, on accident of course! But she was so attentive to when they had enough, and they looked so happy with her. I can tell they don’t like the work Yellow has me giving them. I imagine they miss being back on Earth.”

 

The corner of Pearl’s lips pulled back, her eyes cutting away from Pink,  “She certainly has a way with the soldiers, I suppose.”

 

Catching something in her tone, Pink’s hand stilled as she turned her eyes to Pearl, catching her expression before she could smooth it out completely. “Is there something wrong, Pearl?”

 

“My Diamond?” Pearl’s eyes widened, her cheeks tinting a pale blue at having been caught making a face, "I don’t know what you mean.”

 

Hand falling away from her desk, Pink sat up straighter and turned her head to give Pearl her full attention. Tilting her chin down, she gave the smaller gem an imploring look, “You seem…put off. Tell me, what’s wrong?”

 

Eyes cutting away from the diamond, Pearl shrunk under her diamond’s eyes, her words getting caught in there throat as she considered the repercussions of speaking them. “It is nothing, My Diamond, merely concerns about…”

 

“About?”

 

Taking a deep breath, Pearl looked back at Pink and squared her shoulders, keeping her hands clasped in front of her in a familiar pose, more for her own comfort than respect. “My Diamond, I must point out…Well, what will you do when the Rebels need you? How will you escape without Orange Diamond’s notice?”

 

Eyes blinking for a moment as she processed Pearl’s words, her shoulders fell with her expression, eyebrows turning up as she let out a small, “Oh.”

 

“My Diamond?”

 

“They do need Rose Quartz…” Pink gave a short nod, taking a moment to think about the posed problem. “But things have been quiet at the moment and Yellow isn’t ready for another attack.” Another nod, as if confirming her own words, "We have time.”

 

Pearl’s eyebrows pinched together, her mouth falling open at Pink’s easy dismissal of the problem, “But-“

 

“Don’t worry.” offering her a kind smile, Pink waved Pearl off, “If something happens, we will figure it out then.”

 

Shoulders dropping, Pearl remained tense as she settled the diamond with a not so convinced look. “…and if Orange Diamond does finds out…you know? What will we do?”

 

“Zirconia…” Pink bit the inside of her cheek, "I don’t know how she’d take it. Maybe she…” Pink’s eyes fell to the floor between them, for the first time honestly considering what to do if Rose Quartz had to meet the youngest diamond. “Perhaps if she…she could…at least consider…”

 

Pearl waited a moment as Pink continued to mumble, realizing just what she was considering. Pearl’s eyes rounded, her lips parting in a surprised gasp, “You want to bring her over to the Rebels side, don’t you?”

 

Pink’s head shot up, meeting Pearl’s eyes, her apprehension increasing at the sight of Pearl’s surprise. “Of course I do. But…she’s so attached to Homeworld. Would she even be happy with us? Do you even think it would be possible, Pearl?”

 

“Of course!” the smaller gem stepped forward, hands unclasping as she quickly turned her hands up in apology, "I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring your mood down like this. Why don’t we just forget it. You're right, it probably won’t happen anyway.”

 

“No, no. You have brought up important points. I do need to be prepared.” She sighed loudly, her hand coming up to ruffle her hair as she ran through possible situations in her head, “If something does happen, or…but it won’t. It won’t come to that. 

 

Pearl watched the expression morph on Pink’s face, the worry as she bit her lip, the apprehension clouding her eyes as her eyebrows lowered and lower until the were half turned up while her eyes seemed to be looking through the floor, the clenching of her fingers in her hair, and the tension in her shoulders. Pearl may not have known exactly what her diamond was always thinking, but she was well practiced in following her line of thought. “You are unsure if Orange Diamond would betray you for Homeworld?”

 

Pink’s eyes cut up to Pearl, then away, before slowly going back to her, her lips tugging down as she bit her lower lip. “I…I don’t know.” She leaned forward, her elbows pressed into her thighs as her head fell into her hands. "Oh Pearl, I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

 

“Do what, my Diamond?” Pearl asked cautiously.

 

“Go back and forth, between being Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz.”

 

Pearl stared at her diamond in concern, “You wish to end the Rebellion? After everything?”

 

Pink craned her neck back, turning to look at Pearl, her eyebrows pulled down, the frustration and exhaustion clear on her face,“I want to end it, of course. It’s just a matter…which side do we leave this on?” Pink leaned back heavily in her chair, shoulders sagging down as she turned to look out at the colony planet before her. "Oh, my Pearl, what have I gotten us into?”

 

“Nothing!” Pearl’s voice raised, her hands making wide arching motions that caught the Diamond’s eyes as she gestured in the negative, “This isn’t your fault! It was me, and my stupid ideas.” Pearl stepped forward, pleading, "Please, my Diamond, don’t blame yourself. This isn’t…It’s not-“

 

“It’s alright.” Pink’s lips quirked up in a small, somber smilie, that did nothing to ease Pearl’s panic.

 

“But...?”

 

“This was my choice, Pearl. All of this was because of me, you don’t have to take the blame.” Pink turned away from her, eyes glancing at the screen, words detailing the beta kindergarten briefly pulling her attention before she focused on the planet again. "I just…no matter what I choose, one side will be hurt because of me.”

 

“You do not have to choose, at least, right now. Maybe never!” Pearl reasoned, her voice taking on a force, happy tone, “We could wait. Give Orange some time, I’m sure…maybe…?” Her expression wavered, “she could always just decide to change.”

 

“Maybe….” Pink echoed back with a noticeable lack of enthusiasm.

 

Pearl continued, searching for a plausible way that would aid Pink. “Maybe…Oh! Maybe we could allow her to see both sides, and let her make the choice. It wouldn’t be on you then, my Diamond.”

 

The diamond chuckled softly, but it was anything but joyful. “Thank you for trying, Pearl, but i wouldn’t want to put her in that position. That's not fair to her.” Pink said and Pearl floundered in the awkward silence that followed, teeth clenched as she attempted to find something to alleviate the somber moment she had inadvertently created.

 

“I feel like a child myself,” The diamond    spoke quietly a few moments later, Pearl stilling in her fidgeting to listen, “Wanting it both ways. I’ve forced myself into this all too familiar corner again.”

 

Pearl’s face fell, her hand reaching out toward Pink before she pulled it back to her chest. “Please my Diamond, don’t think of it that way. Think of all the gems you're helping, and the Earth!” Pearl implored her, making a wide gesture with her hands as she motioned towards the planet, “You're doing so much good.”

 

“So much good always comes with a steep cost.”

 

“My Diamond?” Pearl’s voice was small, hesitant as she watched Pink’s expression harden before her, afraid she had been the one to cause it.

 

“White…White Diamond used to tell me that.” Pink finally turned her head to look at Pearl, lips thinned out as her eyebrows pulled together, her eyes taking on a seriousness she had only really seen when she was Rose Quartz, facing off against Homeworld. “When I was first made, and she was showing me the great changes of Homeworld from her own time.” Pink made a flippant gesture with her hand, "She used to tell me that. ‘Everything comes at a cost, Starlight.’ ”

 

“I...don’t follow.”

 

“We help everyone on Earth, the humans, the planet, the Rebels...and I will lose them if I don’t help. But if I do, if I see this through…I lose my daughter.” Pink’s eyes shined with tears that did not fall as she looked Pearl in the eye and asked, “How do I make that kind of choice, Pearl?”

 

“Perhaps…” eyes flicking to the floor, brow pinching in concentration, Pearl pondered her question, even if Pink didn’t really expect an answer. Perhaps we can find a way for both sides to win?” 

 

“I've already tried that.” Pink countered instantly, "The other Diamonds won’t back down, and now that we’re at war, the Rebels can’t back down either. With this colony, Homeworld will never leave until they have what they want.”

 

“Then we have to find a way! If anyone can, I know you can, my diamond! Please don’t give up.”

 

“I wish it was that simple.” Pink huffed, leaning forward, she reached forward to the screen, sluggishly moving her fingers against the keys with much less care than before. “Theres no way I could-“

 

“Maybe you can’t, but Rose could! Rose wouldn’t just give up.”

 

Pink paused long enough to give Pearl a sideways glance before staring back at the screen blindly. “Zirconia may have taken a new interest in the Earth, but she would never listen to Rose Quartz. The other Diamonds have  made sure of that.”

 

“Then make her. You have come this far, my diamond. You can’t give up now. The Earth, the rebels, they need you. How can you know if you don’t try?”

 

“Pearl, please. If Zirconia met Rose quartz, she would not be interested in seeing Earth’s beauty, she’d be putting her new teachings from White Diamond to use. I could never fight my own daughter.”

 

“Orange said it herself, she doesn’t like to fight. Maybe if she was told the truth, the real truth, make her see whats really going on.”

 

Pink’s eyebrows turned down, her aversion to the idea clear on her face when she turned to look at Pearl, “You mean force her to…” Her words trailed off as her eyebrows lifted up as her eyes rounded, the thin line of her mouth curving as her lips parted as she gasped, “oh.”

 

“What is it?” Pearl questioned, surprised y the sudden change in her demeanor. 

 

A new excitement burned in Pink’s eyes as she met Pearl’s stare, her tone lighting from its former seriousness as she explained, “Zirconia may not be interested in the truth from Rose Quartz, that is true, but it also gives me an idea.”

 

Pearl’s eyebrows furrowed, alarmed, but intrigued. “My Diamond?”

Chapter Text

Hunched over her desk, Orange remained concentrated on the screen in front of her, one hand curled around the joined corner of the double diamond screen, the other languidly scrolling through the blocks of text displayed on it. Another lesson, this one she could tell was not from Yellow, as it lacked her thorough explanations and instead kept things relative, nothing unneeded or too heavily detailed, and obviously relied on her knowing things about the topic already. There were whole sections she didn’t know, or understand at all because of this, which had her scrolling back up to see if there was something she missed before returning to move forward in hopes of finding some kind of clue as to what she was supposed to have already known. 

 

“What the blazes is a Time Orb?” Orange muttered, flicking harshly at the holo display, narrowing her eyes at even more text that only served to confuse her.

 

So caught up in her frustration of the lesson, she hadn’t noticed the first or second notification ping, and barely registered the swoosh of the door as it opened.

 

“Zirconia?”

 

The unexpected voice startled her, head jerking up and spinning to look at the doorway where, to her surprise, her mother stood with one hand raised, fingers curled and knuckles resting against the doorway.

 

“Pink, er, Mom?” Orange grimaced at the slip, relaxing under the kind fuchsia eyes that remained on her, undeterred by being called her name.

 

The corners of Pink’s lips were quirked up in a smile, not quite reaching her eyes, but still warm as she looked at the younger diamond. “May I come in?”

 

“Yeah, come on.” Orange made a motion with her head in a gesture for to join her inside before turning back to the display in her hand.

 

Pink accepted the quick response and stepped though the entryway, the doors automatically shutting behind her, separating them from the two sentries stationed outside. Taking up a slow pace to Orange, the older Diamond peered around, seeing nothing had really been changed from the last time she had been in the room, the same old gifts and odd object collected over time. The gem statue had been moved from the table and been placed high on a shelf, cluttering it further, and the star projector she had given her as a child was in full view on the low table near a pile of cushions that had been rearranged to make a new place to sit near it. Stopping near it, she bent down to touch the tips of her fingers to it, remembering the day she had given it to her daughter so she would always have familiar stars with her when she left her base. “I haven’t seen this in years.”

 

Orange turned her head to glance at what Pink was talking about before turning back to her desk, “I’ve been examining it. I want to a new one made, to have back on Homeworld.”

 

“I didn’t think you still used it. Is it broken?” she inquired, fingers gliding over scratches and dents in its metal casing, visual signs it had been heavily used, and well loved.

 

“Its started to flicker. I think some of the components need to be replaced, but I’m not an engineer. I don’t think it would be a good idea to keep moving it anymore.”

 

“We could fix it.” Pink offered, straightening up, “So you can have it with you when you return to Homeworld.”

 

Orange’s response was delayed, distracted as she simply mumbled, “Maybe.”

 

 Pink hummed, glancing back to the display and then moving on to continue on to the desk, her eyes continuing her curious inspection of the room. Not much else stuck out to her, the only exception being that of a partially cracked open, sparkling geode that had been haphazardly wrapped in one of her physically made tunics, obscuring it just enough that only part of it could be seen in the light. The bundle had been set carefully on the center of a table near her bed and Pink briefly wondered where it had come from, as it did not look nearly polished or adorned enough to have been given to her from one of the other Diamonds. Turning her attention back to her daughter, she took notice of the open display being clenched in her hand. “You look busy.”

 

Orange’s eyes flicked up from the pale orange screen in her hand to Pink and then back to it, the corner of her lips pulling back as she gave the screen one more look of frustration, “Just another lesson. I can’t skip them. I seem to be missing something in this one as it is.”

 

Pink stopped beside her chair, leaning over her shoulder to skim the words on the page. “I did not realize Yellow was teaching you about ancient gem history.”

 

“She’s not.” Orange grunted, closing the screen and tossing it ruffly onto the desk as the older diamond perched herself on the arm of the chair, “I’m pretty sure this is from White.”

 

“You don’t like White’s lesson?” Pink questioned.

 

“Only when their verbal.” the younger diamond admitted, “She thinks i’m smarter than i am when she makes the lessons. I’m so lost right now.”

 

“Maybe Pearl can help you then.”

 

Orange’s jaw twitched as she tensed at the suggestion, “Yeah, I suppose i will need her help. If i was back home, White’s Pearl could talk me through this easily.”

 

“You miss being on Homeworld?” Pink managed to successfully keep any notable feelings from her voice when she asked and the younger diamond pursed her lips in thought.

 

“I miss my friends.” Leaning back, Orange looked up at Pink from her lower vantage point, “I miss my daily routines, and I miss wandering around the palace.”

 

“Mine, or White’s?”

 

“You have a lot of question, mom.” Orange raised an eyebrow, and Pink’s cheeks tinted a shade of red, her eyebrows turning up in embarrassment as if she had been caught in some act. “Is everything alright? Did you need something?”

 

Pink bit the inside of her cheek, hesitant to speak, before settling Orange with a more determined look as she met her inquisitive stare. “Zirconia, there’s something I want to show you.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“Would you come with me?” Pink asked.

 

Taking one final glance at the closed diamond case on the desk, she shrugged, “I’m not going to make any progress without some help, so why not? No one but us has to know i’m taking a break, and what the other Diamonds don’t know…” Orange gave her mother a cheeky grin, “I can’t be fussed at for.”

 

A light chuckle escaped Pink’s lips, “I will ask Pearl to help you later.” She offered as she moved off of the arm of the chair to straighten up to her full height.

 

“I’ll ask her when I have some free time.” Orange countered, standing up at the same time as Pink. “I rather ask myself.”

 

Nodding her head in agreement, Pink began leading the way from the room with Orange managing to keep pace without the older Diamond having to slow her natural stride, as often was the case when walking with smaller gems. “I suppose it would be good for you and Pearl to have time together.”

 

“Of course.” Orange agreed, perhaps a little too quickly, “At some point.”

 

Pink either didn’t notice, or paid it no mind, instead turning to look over her shoulder with a wistful smile, "I remember when you would refuse to let anyone but Pearl read to you. I used to be so jealous of that.”

 

Cheeks burning, Orange’s eyes lowered from hers, “I don’t remember that. It was so long ago.”

 

“You were very young, i’m not surprised.” Pink responded just before she stopped to allow the doors to open, step out of the room and then turn around, Orange giving her a look of confusion until she addressed the two soldiers on either side of the doorway. “Remain here at your post. Orange Diamond will return later.”

 

The two held their heads high and saluted, speaking in unison, “Yes, my Diamond!” 

 

Continuing to lead the way, Orange remained quiet a moment as she took notice of the direction they were heading, and couldn’t help but inquire, “Was their something you wanted to show me in your command room?”

 

“Not quite.” The older Diamond answered vaguely.

 

“Then what was it?”

 

“You’ll see.” Orange did not miss the note of amusement in her voice, which piqued her interest even more.

 

Lips thinning, Orange decided to simply follow Pink as she lead her through the halls and to the main room, where her eyes found her mother’s pearl fidgeting by the staircase.

 

Upon seeing them, Pearl walked quickly to meet them as she continued to the center of the room, “I’ve managed to keep everyone cleared out for the moment, my Diamond. Are you sure about this?”

 

“Sure about what?” Orange questioned, Pearl glancing at her over her shoulder as she joined Pink’s side, but not answering as she turned back to whisper conspiratorially with her Diamond, and while she couldn’t make out words, Pearl’s raised voice and panicked tone was enough to make Orange even more curious. Pearl’s panicked tone meant it was something she knew could potentially get the older Diamond in trouble, which also meant it was much more than just something in the command room. “Mom?”

 

However, despite both of their attempts, Pink only smiled to herself and continued to lead them both towards the doorway set into the wall behind the stairs, angular archway blending into the band of geometric lines that created the border around the walls, the mural of White Diamond looming overhead on the wall, the lower part of which was just visible in the natural light of the moon base. 

 

Orange’s eyes were pulled to it as they passed under it, the upper body and head blocked by the staircase and deep shadows, but she knew those eyes, blank and pure white, were watching them all as they entered the room below. The room was much bigger than the archway would have suggested, the ceiling was domed and made up of the same marble and stone as the rest the spire, but the room must have had its own light source as the reflection off the flat sides of the multiple octagons that made up the curved ceiling could not have been from the main room. Before them and in the center of the room, on a raised platform, was the moon base’s warp pad. Two separate halls were adjacent to the archway, splitting off to either side of the group. The right leading to what Orange knew to be a small work room,  but the left was new and had gone completely unnoticed to the young Diamond’s initial wander of the base to see its changes, as she had no reason to come see the warp pad.

 

“We’re going to go on a trip, Zirconia.” Pink finally responded, turning to look at her over her shoulder with a bright smile and something in her eyes that Orange couldn’t decipher and she turned away before she could attempt to determine what it could be.

 

It was then Orange understood what Pearl meant earlier. Looking behind her to the main room, the spire was bizarrely empty and quiet, not a stray gem in sight as her eyes span the room, turning back around and settling on the raised platform they had been making a b-line to. "We’re going down to the colony?” Orange’s voice raised in surprise, “Is that safe?”

 

Pink stopped her quiet conversation with Pearl to turn and look at her, “Yes, and we’ll be alright.”

 

Orange’s eyes rounded as her mouth dropped open, closed, and then opened again as she processed just what her mother had told her. The last time she had gone down to a colony, she had run into a not so nice beast, and while with the older diamond by her side she knew she wouldn’t be alone this time, she couldn’t help but feel hesitant to repeat that possibility. “No guards?”

 

“Just us.” Pink’s smile was reassuring when Orange’s surprise morphed into apprehension.She kept her voice soft as she asked, “Do you trust me?”

 

“Of course.” the younger Diamond responded instantly. That, she had no doubts about, however, the colony’s wild organic life was another matter. a few hours of Pink’s tales of it, that she had assumed at the time where hearsay and gathered and seen through recordings, were suddenly much more real and believable. But no matter how much Pink might know about the planet, that did not make her distrust of the organic life there any better, or the rebels that could be anywhere.

 

Pink stepped up onto the platform, and gave Orange a moment to join her, in which the younger gem simply stood staring at her, before she held a hand out to her for her to take, “Then let’s go.”

 

Pearl stood off to the side of the platform, in front of Pink with her hands clasped together before her as she looked between the two Diamonds, finally speaking up when Orange stepped forward to take Pink’s hand in her own. “My Diamond, are you absolutely sure this is a good idea? Perhaps i should-”

 

“It’s something I have to do.” Pink reassured her, tilting her chin down to level her pearl with a beseeching look, “Please wait here at the base, Pearl.”

 

“But-“

 

“Cover for me.” Pink pleaded, "Please. I need this. We need this.”

 

Orange glanced between the two of them from the corners of her eyes, unsure just what was transpiring between the two, and just what theyneeded, or why a trip to the colony was so important.

 

Pearl’s lip trembled, even as she stood up straight. “Okay…please be safe.”

 

Another smile and look of comfort, Pink reached over and touched Pearl’s shoulder, “We will be fine.”

 

“Mom?” Orange questioned, confused, and somewhat concerned now.

 

Letting go of Pearl, Pink straightened up and turned her head to look at the younger gem, “Have you ever used a warp pad before?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Good, then you know this will be a little odd, but it’s a short jump to Earth. Just keep a hold of my hand, and everything will be fine.”

 

“You don’t have to…” Orange trailed off as she realized she was attempting to wave off Pink’s help, more to be stubborn than anything. Taking a deep breath, she gave the older diamond’s hand a squeeze, “Okay. I trust you.”

 

“We’ll be back soon, Pearl.” Pink promised, offering the smaller gem one last smile before both diamonds were engulfed in a stream of light.

 


 

As the warp stream rapidly dissipated from around them, Orange blinked, the bright wall of light being replaced with a surprising amount of color. Her lips parted as a small gasp escaped her, eyes darting from one thing to the next, attempting to take in everything all at once. 

 

Tall, linear trees jutted from the sandy soil, incredibly green fauna sprouted all around them, mossy rocks peppering the landscape. It was nothing like being on Yellow’s dying colony, with everything dark and twisting in on itself as it decayed. Stepping gingerly off the pad, Orange moved towards a large, lush, plant. Pulling the end of one long frond between her fingers, she was surprised by the number of small, irregularly shaped leaves that sprouted off from the one stem, the green dispersing into a light purple hue towards the ends.

 

Pink remained on the warp pad, silently observing the younger diamond slowly, and cautiously moving through the open space around the warp pad where the trees thats had once created a leafy canopy overhead had been cleared out to make room. She could not keep the smile from curving her lips as she watched her daughter touch one plant, bending over to examine it for a moment before her attention was being pull away by another. 

 

After a long moment of sticking her face close to a thick, four leaf plant with a leathery texture, and subsequently recoiling at the horrid spell it produced, did Orange stand up and turn to look at Pink. “We’re really on your colony?”

 

“We are.” The older diamond nodded, looking down to watch where she stepped as she moved off the warp pad to approach Orange’s location a bit further away than she must have realized she had become. Making a motion to the scene around them, Pink responded, ” This is Earth.”

 

“It’s…” Orange looked around again, amazed by the variety in the single location, “These are all native plants?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Amazing.” Orange returned her gaze to her mother when she stopped, bending over to pluck a small plant with blue leaves from the ground, her fingers delicately keeping the short stem between her fingers as she carried it over to her. "I’ve seen worlds with vegetation…but it’s normally so overgrown, or been cleared already…what is this?”

 

Pink held out the tiny plant, waiting for Orange to mimic her and hesitantly take it between her own fingers, eyes wide as she stared down at the pale blue petals moving in the small breeze. “These are called flowers.” Pink explained, “Careful, they’re very fragile.”

 

“I didn’t know plants could be this tiny.”

 

“There are even smaller flowers than this one.” Pink titled her head as she questioned, "You have never seen anything like this on the other worlds?”

 

“No,” Orange shook her head, looking up from the flower to meet Pink’s curious eyes, “Well, I mean, I’ve seen the recordings, or from the observation orbs. But this is…in person.” She looked around at the ferns and bushes, and many, many trees surrounding them. “There's so much of it.”

 

Pink’s eyes softened at the wonder on her daughter’s face, a pleasantly warm feeling settling in her gem as she watched Orange’s interest in the Earth growing before her eyes. “This is only a small portion of it.”

 

“There’s more?” Orange’s voice raised in surprise, “I saw Yellow’s colony in person and it looked nothing like this. It's all so…”

 

“Amazing?” Pink supplied.

 

“Green.” Orange settled on after a moment, “It's so green.”

 

Pink giggled, reaching forward to touch the side of Orange’s face affectionately. “It is.”

 

After a moment, Orange pulled away and turned to slowly follow the sandy path cutting through the wall of trees, Pink right beside her, allowing Orange to lead the way. “There’s so much…this is all alive?”

 

“Well, it’s a part of the Earth’s organic life.” Pink explained, holding out a hand to run her fingers of the rough bark of a tree as they passed it, “It’s not alive, like you and me, but it is alive.”

 

Orange’s voice was quiet, as if she was afraid to disturb the natural quietness around them, her eyes moving to the blue flower she still held gently between her fingers, “It's pretty.” 

 

Pink nodded, “There’s a lot of pretty things on Earth.” Waiting a moment, Orange glanced back up at her and she added, the hopefulness clear in her voice, “I would like to show them to you. If you want.”

 

Orange hummed in a nonverbal agreement, continuing on the path, eventually coming upon another opening in the trees leading to a small lake, a waterfall poured down into it from the rock above, obscuring what was behind it, but filling the silence with a comfortingly familiar sound of crashing water. Pink stepped forward, kneeling down next to the water, “Come look. There is more life in the water.”

 

Joining her at the water’s edge, Orange leaned over, expecting to find more plants, only to be surprised by the tiny, slim shadows of multiple creatures darting away in the opposite direction when she approached. “What was that?”

 

“They’re called fish.” Pink looked over to Orange as she explained, “They live in the bodies of water all around earth. I’ve seen much bigger ones than these.”

 

Orange was silent for a moment, staring into Pink’s eyes, her mouth thinning out from the nearly constant open surprised expression she had worn since she had stepped off the warp pad. “You come down here often, don’t you?”

 

The sudden seriousness on the younger Diamond’s face offset Pink’s own cheerful mood at seeing her daughter’s delight of all the new things she was seeing, the topic edging into what she had been waiting to approach, perhaps coming more quickly than she has expected. In a quiet, steady voice, Pink gave her a single nod of affirmation, “Yes.”

 

Orange did not respond immediately, continuing to return the older’s diamond stare before slowly glancing away towards the lake, the crystal blue water reflecting the light of the sun. Just behind it she could make out something sparkling in the light that cut through the water, but she couldn’t be sure what. Plants grew around the lake, lush and full, thriving off the clean water source so close by. Besides the small fish in the lake, Orange had not seen any other organic life that she had only ever considered to be alive, but seeing this, she could have been persuaded otherwise. “It’s beautiful. I can see why.”

 

Orange did not comment when she heard the audible exhale from her mother, and while she could not see it, she knew the sound of relief and she wasn’t sure how to feel that Pink had been worried about how she would have judged her admittance to visiting the colony before. Ultimately, she decided that it was only because Pink cared about her opinion that she had been so worried about how she would react, and she hoped she had settled some of her fears.

 

Settling down onto her knees into the dirt beside her, Orange set down the flower onto the ground to reach out and touch the water, intrigued when some of the fish swam away from her fingers as they rippled the top of the water, while others danced around, as if they, too, were intrigued by her. Captivated by the tiny organics, she was caught off guard when the breeze picked up the flower, her hand shooting up to try and grab it but missed, and she watched helplessly as it landed in the water, too far out of her reach.

 

Together the two watched as the flower floated on the waters surface, drifting in the current around it, pushed further into a languid glide by the breeze.

 

The silence that settled between them was not unpleasant, their company was familiar and comforting, a welcome and needed calm after everything.

 

It was Pink who eventually broke the companionable silence, her voice was quiet as she tilted her head back to look up at the cliffs overhead, slightly muffled by the waterfall that was so close to them, “I’ve been coming down to the Earth for a long time. Sometimes, when things feel like they’re getting to be too much, I like to find places like this and just…be, for a little while.”

 

Orange turned to look at Pink as she spoke, her admittance sending a familiar pang of sympathy in her chest. “Do the others know?” She questioned, before clarifying, “The other Diamonds?”

 

The older gem glanced over at her, her eyebrows turning up as the corner of her mouth twitched up into a nervous smile. “No. If they did...”

 

Orange returned her expression with an understanding smile of her own as she supplied, “They’d throw a fit.”

 

The corners of Pink’s eyes crinkling as she chuckled, her earlier cheeriness peaking through as her smile morphed into something much more genuine. “Yeah, they would.”

 

“I understand.” Nodding, Orange turned back to the waterfall as the sparkles caught her attention once again, adding as she stood up from the damp ground, "I won’t tell them.”

 

“Thank you.” Pink responded, following Orange with her eyes before deciding to get up and join her as she made her way around the waters edge to the pathway behind the lake. She was already aware of what had caught her daughter’s attention, but was content to stay back and allow the younger Diamond to explore uninterrupted.

 

Just behind the waterfall, Orange was surprised to find a large hollow rock, wide, broad crystals growing on its open face that was naturally hidden behind the water. Water that constantly misted over the crystals shined and reflected the light that filtered in through the waterfall, creating a display of brilliant sparkles, glimmering like a nebula brought down to the earth itself just for her to see. And it wasn’t just this rock, looking around, she noticed multiple rocks that had been partially cracked open, the same crystal structures lined their jagged faces.

 

Reaching out, she touched one of the giant crystals, solid rock remained unyielding under her palm, even as she gave a gentle push on it to test its structure. “These rocks,” She turned to look over at her shoulder at her mother as she questioned, "are they natural, or from Homeworld influence?”

 

Pink reached out to touch the crystal rocks above her, her eyes almost appearing to see through the rocks as she took a long moment to respond to her question. “They are caused by our activity on the colony, but we moved on before anything more was finished here.”

 

“A fusion of homeworld and earth.” Orange marveled, causing Pink to blink out of her thoughts and turn to look down at the younger gem as she felt more of the stones that jutted out, some long enough to just barely touch the waterfall, cutting into it and causing rivets of water to drench the soil it rested on in a constant drizzle of water, creating a muddy foundation for them to slip in if they weren’t careful. “It doesn’t even look it, it looks like it belongs here.”

 

The corners of Pink’s lips twitched up almost fondly, her eyes remaining on her daughter as she finally stepped back from the crystals, wiping her wet hand onto her tunic without a care for the decorum that would have been expected of her if they had been on Homeworld. “The Earth has an amazing way of adapting to what’s around it, or things that are changed. Sometimes, it even comes together to create something entirely new.”

 

Orange turned around, using their original path to move out of the mud and onto firmer land. Now out of the trees and bushes, standing still and actually looking, Orange finally spotted the wash of blue color just over the sand and grass spotted hillside, a mere sliver of what she knew was much more water for her to see, if only she made the effort to access the hill to look. Around them, more crystal rocks became obvious now that she realized what they were, even as the plants had slowly been Integrating  them into their pattern with vines and moss. “What was going to be here?”

 

“A sea spire.” Pink answered as she was finally easing herself in the conversation she knew she needed to have, glad that Orange seemed incredibly interested the more she realized just how adaptive this planet was, with millions of things for her to learn about and see. “The island was a good spot to start things off, but with the war starting so abruptly, it was no longer a priority.”

 

Orange’s lower lip jutted out into an almost pout, “I would have love to see it.”

 

“My darling, do I have to remind you, you can not swim?” Pink jokingly asked, pulling Orange into her for a hug, the sudden warmth between them spilt into high pitched giggles from her mouth, her fingers twitched over her side where she was aware the young gem was highly sensitive, especially to tickling. It was a great weapon to use against her as a baby, and it was just as effective now as she used her free arm to attempt to hold both herself and Orange up as she twisted and pulled to try and get away from pink's nimble fingers, her body shaking with real joy and laughter, only stopping when her flailing ended up with the both of them tipping over into the sand, their twin laughs echoing and carrying around the island on the wind.

 

Eventually, Pink stopped, allowing both of them to catch their breath, continuing to hold the younger gem close. Orange titled her head to glance at her, questioning, “Do we have time to see more? Other places beside this?”

 

“Yes. We have plenty of time. I want you to see it, Zirconia. I want you to see this world the way I have come to see it.”

 

Orange sat up, pulling out of Pink’s arms and twisting around to look at her, eyebrows pulled together, “Is that why you brought me down here?”

 

Pink sat up as well, the bright smile she wore a moment ago slipping away as she became a little more serious. “Yes.” she nodded, "partially.”

 

“Why else?”

 

“Well, I…” Pink looked away, finding herself unable to keep eye contact with the younger diamond, nervous and regretting stumbling into this conversation the way she had. “I just…” Pink forced a laugh, “well, I just wanted time with my daughter.” She turned back to look at Orange, deflating a little when she couldn’t find the courage to say what she had wanted, “Just us.”

 

“Not that I’m objecting,” Orange said slowly, her eyebrows screwing up as she gave Pink a questioning look, “but couldn’t we have just done that on the moon base?”

 

Pink leaned forward, taking Orange’s hand and giving it a small squeeze, “I wanted a different setting. No stars hidden behind glass, no stuffy walls blocking guards that are just out of earshot, no place were we have to act like Diamonds.” The older gem paused, watching her daughter’s expression morph from suspicion to surprise, "There are no expectations on this trip, Zirconia. It’s just you and me, mother and daughter, two gems with no responsibilities.”

 

“So, a little vacation?”

 

“A getaway.” Pink amended, "For the day, we’re explorers. And…I thought you might enjoy seeing a new place, in person, that’s not been edited and cut down for your education and fed to you on a screen. I want you to live it.”

 

“I…” Orange blushed, eyes looking down and away from Pink’s, ashamed she had, if only for a moment, suspected Pink of a ulterior motive for bringing her. “I do like this.” She looked up and around, taking in the lower view of plant life around them, "I never get to see places like this. I wish we had plants like this on Homeworld. I would look at them all day.”

 

Pink hummed in agreement, “Maybe we once did. Homeworld is so very old. There is always a possiblity something has survived, like the plants here.”

 

Orange eyes went round, wide and sparkling with so much enthusiasm, it barely hurt Pink when she exclaimed, “I can ask White when I go home! I bet she’d know.”

 

“She, better than anyone, could answer you that.” Pink agreed. “But enough of Homeworld. There’s more to see, so let’s get back to the warp pad.”

 

Orange was up and on her feet before Pink could react, “I’ll race you there! Bet you I’m faster!”

 

Orange took off before Pink could react, laughing as she maneuvered around a cluster of trees and ducked under the arch of a low hanging branch, barely registering the smack of leaves on her face. Only her quick breaths and a pounding in her chest, her eyes forward and locking on the shining white marble of the warp pad when it came into view. She was going to win.

 

Pink, however, was not far behind. While it was not a great deal of difference, she was still bigger than the younger diamond, and her longer legs allowed her to cover ground quickly. Her initial surprise of just how fast the younger gem was already worn off and replaced by glee, and if she was being truthful, a little bit of motivation to win. instead of the initial jog she had thought would occur, she was now full on sprinting, ducking and weaving through bushes and trees, the loose sandy soil making running the real challenge, but she had to admit it was a lot of fun, a feeling she had missed experiencing in such a carefree setting.

 

Orange was confused when she seemed to suddenly stumble, her feet knocking into one another and she briefly wonder just what she had tripped over, because she had been sure she had evaded the stones in the path. But she did not have time to think on it longer as two arms wrapped around her and pulled her back into a firm chest and then she was hitting the ground with them. Orange blinked, surprised and tense, ready to break free from the hold on her, until she was startled by a burst of laughter in her ear, warm and familiar, as realization hit her that it was Pink holding on to her. The joyous and loud laughter filled the clearing, the rumbling in Pink’s chest vibrating through Orange’s back and before she knew it, the younger diamond was laughing with her mother again.

 


 

Orange and Pink hunched over, huddled together on their knees in a large, overgrown bush, somehow managing to keep their lower half’s covered by the greenery, with the exception of their heads and hands, which were poking out from the tops of the lush bushes, not exactly blending in with it's green leaves and cream colored flowers, but they had yet to be noticed.

 

Orange’s nose twitched as the petals of a nearby flower fluttered against her and she fought off a sneeze that Pink had to turn and shush her for, eyes darting to her in worry that they would be found out. Covering her nose with a hand, the younger gem glanced at Pink and then back to what they had been watching quietly from the safety of the forest.

 

The younger Diamond’s eyes tracked the movements of one of the older, taller ones, who seemed to be leading tethered beasts to an unknown destination. Fascinated, she had to ask, “Those are real, wild humans?”

 

Pink watched a group of children playing around an older human with heavy wrinkles and long hair, the slouch of her shoulders more noticeable on her slender body than the others. Glancing from them, she looked over to Orange, “Yes. They are naturally made humans.”

 

“They look...” Orange’s head tilted, a mixture of surprise and confusion twisting her features, “they look a lot like us. I didn’t think they would.”

 

“They do.” Pink agreed, turning back as a loud yell traveled across the human’s camp grounds, momentarily drowning her attention in concern, thankful to find it was only the children at play. “I was surprised by that when I first saw them.”

 

Orange turned to look at her mother as she questioned with genuine interest, “Is that why you made the Zoo? To keep them safe from a place like this?”

 

Pink’s head turned back to Orange, her eyebrows pulled down as her response came too quickly to hide her ire, “Yellow and Blue made the Zoo, Zirconia, not me.”

 

“Oh...” Orange blinked, startled by the older Diamond’s sudden irritation, and was hesitant to ask anything further. “So it was a gift for you?”

 

“Yes...” She answered after a long pause, releasing a sigh of frustration and forcing herself to calm down as she took in the look on her daughter’s face. “Yes, the Zoo was a gift to me and no matter how I feel about it, I am forever grateful for it, because if I hadn’t started coming down here, I wouldn’t have found out about the humans, and I wouldn’t have the Zoo.” A soft, affectionate smile curved Pink’s lips, “After all, It’s how I ended up with you.”

 

“You mean after you started bringing them to the Zoo, and you decided to have me?”

 

“After Yellow and Blue did.” Pink said as she felt the need to correct her again, “It was how I first really began interacting with them.” She chuckled, a light blush blooming across her cheeks as she admitted, “Before I was brave enough to talk to any of the ones here.”

 

Orange returned her smile, satisfied with the explanation and turned back to watch the humans together a few moments longer, and Pink followed after a moment of silence. 

 

“Thank you.”

 

“For what?” Pink questioned, cocking her head to look at Orange from the corners of her eyes, so she would still be able to see what was happening in the human’s encampment.

 

“For sharing this with me.” Orange turned her head, meeting Pink’s surprised eyes, “You risk a lot telling anyone that you come here.”

 

At a loss for words, Pink smiles once more, and simply offered, “You're welcome.”

 


 

“I think this if my favorite place, yet.” Orange said, breaking the silence of the moment.

 

The two Diamonds sat together to watch the sun moving lower in the sky, settling down after a long day of warp jumping and exploring, enjoying their newest and last location. With her legs crossed, Orange pivoted her hips to become more comfortable in the hard, damp dirt that attempted to cling to them, still unaccustomed to the blades of grass that prodded her legs when she moved. The younger diamond leaned into Pink’s side, her head nudged into her side as her mother had her arm wrapped around her shoulders, absentmindedly curling her fingers through the long locks of untamable orange hair that fell down around her neck. Orange had a handful of tablets in her left hand, one already being crushed between her teeth as she took their moment of rest to replenish her energy. All while they both looked down the rocky cliff at the rolling hills of wild pink flowers swaying in the breeze, tiny petals danced in the wind, carrying their sweet perfumes with them.

 

“Really?” Pink questioned, tilting her head down to look at her, "I though you would have liked the island the most. You seemed so captivated by all the plants.”

 

“I was,” the younger gem nodded her agreement, “but it was also really busy. There was so much to look at and we didn’t even see it all. Look at this place,” She made a wide gesture with her free hand, motioning towards the hills in front of them, “it’s so open, and filled with flowers. I can see why you like this colony.”

 

Pink’s eyes lit up, the corners of her eyes crinkling as a wide smile spread on her face, “That means a lot to me to hear from you.”

 

“I almost wish i had given this place a chance before.” Orange chuckled lightly, tilting her head back to look up at Pink, “I can only imagine how much I would have loved this place when I was younger.”

 

Pink laughed, “I would have lost you in the bushes if i looked away for a moment. I would have had to tether you to me.”

 

“You think?” Orange pursed her lips in thought, trying to remember how she was then. After a moment she responded, “I would love to have played a game of Camouflage in all the plants. At least until Pearl began to freak out.”

 

“She would, wouldn’t she?” Pink agreed, amused. “She would have been just as scared to lose you here.”

 

Orange’s smile flattened slightly, her eyes drifting back to the flowers as she dwelled on memories of her and Pink’s Pearl in what she would deem their better years. “She’d probably leave me here now, though.”

 

Pink tugged lightly on the hair still between her fingers, making the younger gem’s eyes dart back up at the action as she lightly scolded her, “Don’t say that. You know thats not true.”

 

“Mom, I know you’re not stupid,” Her lips turned down further, the corners of her lips tugging back in a grimace, "even if you play it off like that sometimes.”

 

The older diamond looked away, refusing to meet Orange’s as she responded, “I don’t know what you mean.”

 

“You get this look on your face,” Orange chuckled in amusement of her reaction, reaching up and playfully poking Pink in the cheek to make her look back at her, “I know it because I make it too. We’re not very convincing liars.”

 

“I…” Pink deflated slightly, “I know you and Pearl don’t get along like you used to, even if you try to put on a show for me.” She admitted, resuming combing her fingers through the younger gem’s hair, "I wish there was some way i could change that. You used to be so close.”

 

Orange shrugged, “We’ve just grown apart. I want…” Orange hesitated, Pink waiting patiently as she glanced away and then back at her, her eyebrows turning upward at the clashing feelings that surfaced when it came to pearl. “Sometimes, i wish we could go back to the way it was, but then we’re together, and we end up squabbling, and then I only want to be mad and blame her. I don’t know how to fix that.”

 

Pink’s lips pursed as she mulled over Orange’s admittance before she offered, “Maybe its just something that will have to be fixed over time. If you try.”

 

The younger gem hummed her noncommittal agreement, shrugging again as she looked away, giving herself another moment as she shoved the last of her tablets in her mouth and waiting to swallow to add a quiet, “Maybe.”

 

“She does care about you, you know.” Pink pressed, attempting to meet Orange’s eyes, but the younger gem remained stubbornly resistant.

 

Orange slowly pulled away, extracting herself from Pink's hold, who was  reluctant to let her go. Sitting up, the younger gem’s eyebrows furrowed as she returned Pink’s look with one of unshielded skepticism. “Thats a stretch, mom, even from you.”

 

“She cares.” Pink insisted,” She took care of you when you were just a baby, you wouldn’t sleep unless Pearl was in the room sometimes.” She recalled, and was spurred on to continue when the younger diamond rose her eyebrows in disbelief, “I can remember once, you refused to get along with the other Pearls because neither of them were yourPearl.” She chuckled as a particular moment came to mind, “Yellow had to call me once just to talk to you, because you would not cooperate with her own Pearl. She stayed on the call with you until you agreed to cooperate with the other Pearl.”

 

Orange’s cheeks flared, embarrassed, taking a moment to reply. “I don’t remember that.” She told her quietly, "I don’t really remember a lot from that time.”

 

“That’s unfortunate.” Pink reach over, brushing back a lock of hair from her face as it was knocked loose in the stronger breeze of the evening, amused by the color that still clung to her daughter’s face, “I think i’ll remember those times always, quite fondly.” She leaned back, adding with a mild interest of her own, “But now, it seems you get along very well with the other Pearls.”

 

“I love the other Pearls. We’re good friends now.”

 

Pink nodded her head in understanding, “I’m so proud of you, making so many friends, especially with them.”

 

“I’ve known them most of my life.” Orange countered, "They’re just as much family as the other Diamonds are. I wish they could see this,” She made a sideways motion with her head towards the scene before them, "I think the Pearls would love to see a place like this, instead of the completed colonies. They really don’t look like this.”

 

“You said this wasn’t like Yellow’s colony.” The older gem recalled, a single eyebrow rose up as she looked at Orange in interest, “I didn’t know they had begun taking you down to the colonies. I wish they would tell me these things first.”

 

Orange bit her lip, hesitantly responding, “They haven’t.”

 

Pink’s eyes blinked wide, her mouth dropping open for a moment without anything coming out before she responded with a soft questioning tone, “Zirconia?”

 

“I…” Orange looked away, refusing to meet Pink’s stare when she admitted, "I went by myself.”

 

Pink’s voice picked up in pitch, worry coloring her tone as she repeated, “You went by yourself?” Which she instantly regretted as she watched her daughter flinch at the almost berating tone. “I’m sorry, its just,” She started again as she forced a calmer tone, “You went down to one of Yellow’s colonies by yourself?”

 

Hanging her head to hide the deep color she could feel blooming across her face again, Orange explained, “When i was told no…I decided i could go myself.”

 

Reaching both hands forward, Pink held one of Orange’s shoulders, gently turning her and using the other to cup her cheek and guiding her to look at her, Pink tilted her chin down to look the younger gem in the eye. “Zirconia…That is so dangerous.”

 

Orange immediately tugged her face away from Pink’s hand, eyebrows furrowing as she glare instantly back at Pink, “What about you?” she challenged, “You came here, without a guard. Multiple times!”

 

“Thats different!” Pink started in a raised voice before she stopped herself, closing her eyes and taking a deep breath. “I’m not…” She started, stopped, and released a heavy sigh. Reaching up, pink rubbed her forehead, opened her eyes as her hand fell away to land heavily in her lap. Turning her head, she returned Orange’s narrowed stare with a much more sympathetic look, “No. no you're right.” She, begrudgingly, agreed. “It's dangerous for us both. I’m your mother, and it worries me, but I have to trust you know what you’re doing.” She paused before tacking on, “All of us do.”

 

Orange’s hostility eased at Pink’s words, losing the tenseness in her shoulder. “That's all I want.”

 

A small smile formed on Pink’s lips, aware she knew all too well the feeling of what Orange wanted, and yet, as her mother, she could not help but fear her being alone on an unknown world. She was not a full gem, and even if she was, Pink knew she would still worry. But she also feared how long the younger diamond would accept her worry before it turned into the same resentment she had before she had been given Earth. The though of being resented by her own daughter hurt more than any fear she may have had of letting her go. 

 

Reaching her own decision on the matter, Pink relaxed herself a little more into the flowers and grass, finally asking, “Did you at least have fun on Yellow’s colony?”

 

“I did.” Orange grinned, only slipping a little as she added, "for a little while.”

 

“You were found out?” Pink guessed.

 

“I was attacked by the wildlife.”

 

“Oh dear!” Pink’s hand flew up to cover her mouth.

 

“It’s okay,” Orange quickly responded, making a motion with her hands to calm the older diamond. “i think i scared it more than it scared me.” She explained, "I was looking for something. I think i might have been in it’s home. I’d angry too.”

 

Pink’s hand lowered, eyebrows still turned up in concern, but had to ask, “What were you looking for?”

 

“A present.” Was her simple answer. It was Pink’s raised eyebrow, pressing her for more that made her add, “I told Pearl I would come back with one for her before i left. I never got to go down to Blue’s.”

 

“So you risked your life?”

 

“I didn’t think it would be dangerous.” Orange reached up and rubbed the back of her neck, the corner of her mouth pulling back as she responded sheepishly, "I guess it was a little foolish, wasn’t it?”

 

“A little.” Pink responded softly, at little more satisfied she at least recognized the situation she had been in. After a moment, the curiosity struck her and she inquired, “Did you find something for her?”

 

“Yes.” Orange brightened, mouth curving up as she turned and made a motion of a rounded shape with her hands, "I found this beautiful rock. It reminds me of one of the ones on my shelf back in my room on Homeworld.” She explained, Pink nodding along as she talked, “I see Pearl eyeing it all the time, but she’s never picks it up. I think she’s afraid to break it.”

 

“So you got her one of her own.” Pink supplied, her expression softening at the realization of why her daughter had left the safety of Yellow’s base.

 

“I think its similar.” Orange beamed, "I hope she likes it.”

 

“Im sure she’ll love it, if it's from you.”

 

“You think? I can’t wait to give it to her.” Orange reached forward plucking a flower from the ground to give her hands something to do as she spoke, turning her gaze from the flower back to Pink as she explained, “But I’ll have to wait until it's just us. White wouldn’t approve, you know?”

 

Pink’s eyes glimmered, the smile on her face widening, watching for a moment as Orange looked back down at the flower in her hand, twirling it with a wide grin still on her face. “Tell me about her.”

 

Orange’s fingers paused, turning back to look at Pink in confusion. “What?”

 

“Tell me about White’s Pearl,” the older diamond elaborated, “about your friend.”

 

“But you already know her.” Orange’s nose scrunched up as she frowned, further confused by Pink’s request. “She told me she used to be your pearl, a long time ago.”

 

“I know who she used to be.” Pink corrected, “Not who she is now. Not who you know. Tell me?”

 

“Oh…well,” Orange paused, reaching up with one hand to scratch her cheek as she resumed twirling the flower between her fingers. "Pearl is really kind, and understanding. She’s patient,” Orange spoke slowly, unsure, but managed to gain momentum as she began to babble, "but i guess that normal for a Pearl? I mean, she can be, but she also doesn’t put up with toomuch silliness.” She paused, and felt the need to add as way of explanation, “ She takes being White’s Pearl really seriously.” Orange hummed to fill the silence as she thought about what else she could add in way of what she knew was becoming a drawn out, if somewhat embarrassing, response to her mother’s question.  “I think sometimes I’ve made her angry, but she respects me more as a Diamond and wouldn’t say anything. It took me a while to convince her to speak her mind with me, at least when we’re alone.”

 

“My Pearl was the same way.” Pink interjected, seeing the confidence on Orange’s face giving way to embarrassment and hesitance. “Now she’ll correct me, she has so much more confidence. What about her?”

 

“Pearl is confident too. She has this way of thinking and seeing things that i would never have considered. I think its one of the things that makes her incredibly smart.” Orange bit her cheek, deciding she had said more than enough, and if she didn’t physically stop herself, she might just continue to prattle on.

 

“You seem to think very highly of her.”

 

“Of course!” Orange’s eyebrows furrowed, “She’s my best friend, why wouldn’t I?”

 

“You look so happy when you’re talking about her.” Pink tilted her head, leaning forward to rest her elbow on her leg and her chin on her hand, staring at Orange in interest, "I don’t think I’ve heard you talk so well about the other Pearls.”

 

“Well…” the younger gem frowned, eyes lowering under Pink’s curious stare. ”White’s Pearl is just special.”

 

Pink’s eyebrows furrowed, and then shot up, her eyes widening as her mouth fell open in her own silent realization. “Do you….do you have a crush on Pearl?”

 

“What?” Orange’s head shot up, fingers almost crushing the flower in her hand. “No I don’t. She’s just my friend.” She refuted quickly, pointing a finger in warning at the older Diamond, “Don’t say that.”

 

“That’s so adorable!” Pink’s eyes sparkled in pure happiness, smile threatening to split her face. “I can’t believe it.”

 

Orange’s cheek flushed red, her lips pulling back into an annoyed frown as her eyes narrowed, her tone becoming exasperated, “Mother, please.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Pink waved, grin still wide as she chuckled, clearly very not sorry. “it’s just…” She leaned forward and stage whispered, “you like her.”

 

“Of course I like her.” Orange stammered, blush becoming darker under her mother’s thrilled expression, "She’s my friend.”

 

“But you’d like more.” Pink pushed, her ecstatic realization calming as she saw she was only making her daughter more uncomfortable.

 

“I-I…” Orange’s eyes widened, and then furrowed, her teeth becoming bared as her expression became a mixture of distress and anger, “I can’t, we can’t!” She yelled, her fist curling, shocking Pink at the outburst, “It…” She trailed off, turning her head away from Pink as angry tears threatened to spill from her eyes, "White and the others would disapprove.”

 

Pink’s face hardened, her eyebrows lowering as her mouth thinned into a much more serious expression, only softening as she titled her head to try and meet Orange’s eyes, “Zirconia, look at me.”

 

Looking down at her hand, she felt even more upset as she realized she had crushed her flower, watching the ripped petals fall from her palm with its stem. Feeling the familiar burn of tears, she reached up and tried to discreetly wipe away the moisture from her eyes, all while trying to wave off Pink’s attempts to push the topic, “Seriously, mom, it’s nothing-”

 

“Zirconia?” Pink cut her off with a much stronger tone.

 

Orange hesitated, taking a breath to calm herself, and sure she had at least managed to rid her face of tears, turned her head to acknowledge the older diamond, though she could not keep the crack from her voice as she responded, “Yes?”

 

“Do you like her?” Pink prodded in a gentler tone of voice, "Really like her?”

 

“I…” Gritting her teeth, Orange propped her arms up on her legs, dropping her face in her hands to cover her face. With a lot of hesitation, Orange lifted her head enough to cock her head to look at Pink from the corners of her eyes without fully meeting her gaze. “i get this feeling, in my chest, just here.” She reached one hand down to touch her gem, covering it with her palm. "Its like my gem is warm, and i don’t understand it. I think of her and i get this stupid smile on my face for no reason, and when she’s not around, I find myself wondering what we could do when she comes back to me. I haven’t talked to anyone about it, I didn’t want them to think there was something wrong with me.”

 

Pink leaned forward, placing a hand on Orange shoulder, making her turn her head to look more properly at her mother. “There is absolutely nothing wrong you, or how you feel.”

 

Taking a deep breath, Orange sat up, brushing off Pink’s hands as she shrugged, “It’s not a crush mom, she’s just my friend.”

 

“Is it,” Pink insisted, before taking in the tension of her daughter’s body, and the frustration on her face, and finally questioned, "or do you just not want to talk about it?”

 

Biting her lip, Orange silently debated before finally turning her eyes to her mother, “What am I supposed to do?” She asked in such a small voice, it hurt Pink to hear, "It doesn’t matter how i feel, I can’t be with her.

 

“Does she likes you, the way you like her?” Pink inquired, reaching forward to take Orange’s hand in hers in comfort.

 

“I…I think so. Maybe.”

 

Pink reached her free hand forward, cupping Orange’s chin, and turning her head to look at her directly as she responded, “Then forget what the others would think. You deserve to be happy.”

 

“But-“ the younger gem began to protest and was swiftly cut off.

 

“No buts.” Pink stopped her before she could begin, “You don’t have to do everything they say, and you don’t have to be everything they want.” She gave her hand a squeeze as she continued, "This is your life, you should live it the way you want. If that means being with Pearl, then you should go for it.”

 

“We’re a different castes.” the younger diamond stressed, "How would that even work? I’ve never even heard of gems being together.”

 

Pink smiled, but it never managed to reach her eyes, taking her free hand to reach forward and affectionally comb back Orange’s hair from her face as she talked, “Zirconia…let me tell you something. Homeworld looks down on a lot of things. Some good things, and some really stupid ones.” She paused, pointedly looking at her as she added, “Your feelings aren't stupid, or wrong. It’s what you make it, what you decide. There are gems who are together, I’ve met them. I would never call their happiness wrong.”

 

“I’d be defying Homeworld.” Orange said, more as a statement than a question, "White.”

 

“You would.” Pink nodded.

 

Orange took in a ragged breath, tears burning her eyes as she fought with the feelings raging in her chest. Wanting so badly to believe what Pink was saying, but knowing the flip side to that coin was ignoring a lot of the things the others had taught her, going against her own family for her selfishness. “How do you do it?” she questioned quietly.

 

Pink’s eyebrows rose, confusion briefly twisting her brows upward, “Do what?”

 

“Be so strong?” Orange closed her eyes as she fought back tears, taking multiple deep breaths before looking back at Pink and questioning, “Not care what the others think? It’s all I can focus on sometimes,” She admitted, “What they must think of me, how I appear to them. How do you disregard that?”

 

“I don’t.”

 

“What?” Orange blinked, confused.

 

“I have those thoughts too.” Pink offered her daughter a small smile in comfort, squeezing her hand as she answered, “I fear what others think of me, and I sometimes do things because I think it’ll make them happy, even if it hurts me.”

 

“You do?”

 

“Of course.” Pink breathed out a small laugh at the surprise in the young gem’s voice, "But I also do things that I want, because I deserve to be happy too. And if the people I care about really cared about me, they’d want me happy as well.”

 

Orange’s eyebrows furrowed, “You mean the other Diamonds?”

 

“I mean a lot of people,” She corrected, "not just them. Sometimes…” Pink paused, her own brows furrowing as she took a moment to decide how to explain to her daughter what she meant. “Sometimes, you have to be selfish. You have to put yourself first, even if others feel hurt about your choices, and that’s not wrong.”

 

“How is hurting people so you can be happy the right thing?”

 

“Sometimes you are going to hurt others, even if you try not to. No one is perfect, not even White Diamond, no matter what she may want you to believe.”

 

“I know she’s not, and I don’t want to hurt anyone,” Orange responded, “But…I want to be with her.” Orange’s head fell forward into her hands, her words coming out muffled around her palms. “I’m so confused what to do.”

 

“It’s okay.” Pink hushed her softly, “It’s okay, my love.” Reaching up, with both of her hands, Pink held both of Orange’s shoulders, offering her a reassuring squeeze as she felt her shoulders rise as she said, “Just take time to breathe.” She paused as the younger gem calmed down as she breathed in and then out. “Think it through, you have time. Talk about it with Pearl.”

 

“I don’t want to scare her away.” The younger diamond grunted, "What if that’s not something she wants?”

 

“Then…” Pink tilted her head in consideration, "then you should want her to be happy, even if that isn’t with you.”

 

Leaning back, Orange’s shoulders sagged as she asked, ”What if I ruin everything? What if i lose her?”

 

“What if you don’t?” Pink countered.

 

Biting her lip, Orange closed her eyes, fighting to not let her fears take over. Breathing deeply, she knew she was overthinking it, and no matter how many times she thought of an outcome, she would never know if she didn’t at least try to bring it up with Pearl. Letting out a huff of breath, a small smile curved the corners of her lips, she blinked open her eyes to find Pink watching her. “…Thank you.”

 

“Oh Zirconia.” Pink smiled back, leaning forward and pulling the younger gem into a tight hug. “I just want you to be happy. If that’s with Pearl, or simply spending time with the others, or even here with me.”

 

“Then you approve?” Orange questioned, “About Pearl?”

 

“Of course.” Pink laughed at the almost absurd question, "I…I know her. She’s a good person. I couldn’t think of anyone better for my baby.”

 

Orange pursed her lips, “Mom, I’m not a child.”

 

“No. No, you’re not.” Pink agreed, "But you’ll always be my daughter.”

 

“No matter what?”

 

“Always.”

 

Chapter Text

 

The hazy atmosphere of the fragmented planet filled the wide view screen, the artificial glow of technology that threaded through the natural rock and crystals like veins were just becoming visible to their naked eyes as they neared. Twin dusky halo rings reflected soft light, caressing the faces of the crew in a familiar welcome as they all revered the sight of their home.

 

Orange Diamond would only allow herself a moment to marvel at the way the rings hugged the crumbling planet, appearing to hold the chunks of floating planetoids together. The nearby sun seared the haze, illuminating a larger portion of the planet, and while she couldn’t see it from space, she could envision the way it would be rippling through the sky, creating a beautiful gradient hue of pinks and yellows, having first lit up the southeastern part of the city as morning broke on the planet, to eventually spread over the center capital and wash into the western portion of the justice district. It was the view she had lived with every time she had come to see White, and now the one she would have for her time on Homeworld. And if she had been on schedule leaving Sol, it would have been the view she would be sharing with Pearl before she had to leave her to serve White Diamond.

 

Pulling her eyes away, the young gem turned her focus to her task, hands nimble as she moved over the glass screen, tapping buttons meant for smaller fingers than hers, adjusting their speed, and turning on a monitor with a live feed of the ships internal readings, leaving it up on the screen to her upper right.

 

“Approaching the planet with an ETA of 8 minutes.” Orange called out to the two gems on either side of her, who, like the elite soldiers they were, easily slipped from their admiring into preforming their own tasks at the Diamond’s commanding tone. “CX3, I want a link with Central up and clearance give before we hit the 5 minute mark. Lets get in the clear before someone gets some hasty ideas to blast us out of orbit, yes?”

 

CX3, a rather nervous Nephrite by nature, nodded her head in response so much Orange worried she would hit it on the console in front of her every time she asked something, “Yes Capt- er, i mean, my Diamond. Forgive me my Diamond. So sorry. So sorry.”

 

Brushing past the slip, the diamond turned to glance to her left, “CL9,”

 

“My clarity?” said gem responded, looking up and meeting her superior's eyes in question.

 

“Systems powered up for breaking atmosphere. I want as little turbulence as possible. We’re going to have very important eyes on us, so lets not give them a show.”

 

“Yes, my diamond.”

 

Behind the small crew, perched high in her chair at the center of the control room where she belonged, the captain of the ship, Emerald, watched disinterestedly as the youngest Diamond she had ever had the ‘honor’ of being in the presence of ordered her crew around. She had been watching for most of the trip, bored out of her mind, annoyed she had been pulled away from her fleet, only being somewhat mollified by the fact it had been Pink Diamond to ask her personally to escort the younger gem, and a little put off that she would not be showing her skills as the great leader she was to one of her superiors.

 

When Orange Diamond had been assigned to her, and her newly minted imperial warship no less, to say she was surprised would be an understatement. While she certainly detested feeling like a lowly Nephrite shepherding the young gem back to their homeworld, she could not resist the chance to at least be able to say she had been not only been handpicked by two diamond’s for a task, one of said tasks was to escort one of their great leaders safely back home. Of course, by some cruel twist of fate laughing down on her, she had also been informed she would be under a gag order about talking about her mission, or anything to do with Orange Diamond, which was also extend to her crew.

 

It was simply a slap in the face when Orange Diamond had asked to fly the ship back, as if Emerald would have been able to say no. And while she had known she would be handing over temporary control of her ship to the Diamond, she had assumed it would be in a more command position, not her superior taking over flight controls. It made her nervous to think of her precious ship in the hands of some gem she didn’t know, and couldn’t order around. 

 

Her fears had only been alleviated a smidgen when her ship hadn’t been destroyed ten minutes outside of Sol, crumpled into the side of an asteroid. The Diamond at least seemed to know the basic controls of a warship, and every time Emerald had lingered beside her young leader, she had either been dismissed or ignored in favor of one of her gem’s sucking up and showing her something about the ship.

 

Which had led her to sitting grumpily in her chair, glaring bitterly down at her peons as they absorbed Orange Diamond’s attention. Attention that should either be on navigating her ship, or on her. The only advantage to being all but ignored was she could evaluate her gems, and any flaws they could have that would lead to a failure in battle. Though, as can be expected by one of Yellow Diamond’s elite Emeralds, she had chosen well, and her selection of gems under her had been well thought out and suited for where they were. Which left her attention turning to linger on Orange Diamond.

 

The Diamond may have been bigger than an overgrown Feldspar, but she was tiny in comparison to her own magnificent Diamond and seemed to lack any kind of self control when she had come on board, all shiny eyes and touching everything. She didn’t think there was a single console surface that those ruddy fingers hadn’t touched and by her own self-discipline and poise, and her Diamond’s own radiant patience shining through her, she had managed to hold her tongue and simply stand back and allow her ship to be fondled.

 

She didn’t know if it was better or worse when they were finally, finally, taking off and those ruddy hands were being concentrated to one area. Just the area that aided in keeping her gifted ship flying straight through multiple asteroid fields. While she could begrudgingly admit the young Diamond at least understood the basics of keeping the ship moving, she very much doubted she would be able to handle any maneuvers trickier than a pitchback. Luckily, no one had to find out, and the Diamond seemed to be quite pleased simply flying the bare minimum of the ship back for the trip.

 

So when they had finally arrived in their destination’s system, Emerald had been keenly waiting for the usual song and dance for clearance and her crew, like the good little gems they were, responded to the Diamond’s orders like they hadn’t run similar situations a thousand times before. 

 

Emerald was even a good sport, sitting back in her command chair as Orange Diamond spoke with Central City’s operations. Clearance from on high was granted easily to her and her ship, as she had expected.

 

“Stratus Breaker, you’re cleared for entry, please correct your flight pattern to land on the Diamond’s Landing. I don’t have to make it clear to not cause any trouble, correct?”

 

“No ma’am, we’ve got this.” Orange Diamond responded, the operator obviously none the wiser of who she spoke with, "Stratus signing off.”

 

She then looked to both sides of her as she questioned, “Is everything clear?”

 

“Yes, my Diamond.”

 

The young diamond smiled widely, turning her attention back to controls, “Then it's time to go home.”

 

Landing was nothing special, as far as the crew was concerned. A cleared area before White Diamond’s side of the Diamond’s Square awaited them, and there were no surprises breaking through the atmosphere, turbulence practically nonexistent. 

 

“I think it goes without saying, but well done” Orange Diamond congratulated her crew, the gems smiling back to humor her, while Emerald rolled her. "That was the smoothest landing I've had yet.”

 

Emerald was up and at Orange’s side before the legs had even fully extended and touched down, stabilizing the body of the ship. “We’ve arrived, my Clarity.” Emeraldlips turned up into a jagged grin and hands twisting together, eagerly waiting as the Diamond flicked off screens, turning to give her attention to the green gem.

 

Orange raised an eyebrow at how close she was standing, the look on her face making her inch ever so slightly away, “Am i sensing some doubt we wouldn’t, Captain?”

 

“Never, my clarity!” Emerald’s eyes widened and she shook her hands to dismiss the notion, "You did so well, which isn’t surprising, of course! I suspected you would do wonderful the moment you stepped onto my ship! I can tell these sorts of things, you see.”

 

“So says the surprise on your face when i said i would be flying us back?” Orange challenged, turning in the chair and standing up, the captain staggering back out of Orange’s space and looking up to look her in the eyes.

 

“I,” Emerald dragged out the syllable as she made an exaggerated motion of shrugging, “was merely not expecting someone of your stature to wish to pilot a ship such as this, my Clarity. It is sobeneath you, having to fly yourself, and all.”

 

“I was smitten with this ship the moment I laid eyes on it,” the Diamond responded, a tiny part of her satisfied to see the grin on her face strain, “It is a piece of art, wouldn’t you agree?”

 

“Of course, My Clarity.”

 

“You’ll be returning to Pink Diamond after a ship check, so it will be the last time I get to see such a spectacular battleship docked on Homeworld for awhile. You and this ship are on loan from Yellow, right? Perhaps i can persuade her to let me keep one.”

 

“Not this ship!” Emerald barked, and then reeled back, her cheeks darkening as she backtracked from her outburst, “I mean, it’ll be so scuffed and outdatedby the time everything is finished, with the war and all. You could have a much better one made.”

 

Taking pity on the flustered gem, Orange held out a hand to pacify her, “I did not mean to imply i wanted to take your ship, captain, calm down.”

 

“Oh…” Emerald deflated, momentarily placated, “forgive me, your clarity. I should not have been so bold.”

 

“It’s-“

 

“My Diamond?” one of the crew members called, pulling both Orange and Emerald’s attention to them, “We just received a go ahead to disembark, along with a notification that there is a Pearl waiting to escort you.”

 

Orange had to catch herself from reacting to the news, instead composing herself long enough to nod in acknowledgment and to turn back to Emerald. “It has been a pleasure to experience your ship and crew, captain. I wish you a safe travel back.”

 

Emerald, ever the grecious commander, saluted the young diamond, “The pleasure has been ours.”

 

At a much faster pace then was probably appropriate for a Diamond to be taking, not that Orange really cared at that moment for decorum, headed for the ship’s entrance. As she approached, the door swooshed open, the bright light on the horizon a temporary blinding contrast to the artificial lights of the ship. Stepping down the large ramp and using her hand as a shield from the light, Orange’s eyes scanned the open landing pad, large smile displaying just how eager she was to find Pearl and finally talk to her. When her eyes finally landed on the only pearl she could see on the open platform, her smile began to slip from her face as her eyebrows pinched together. Stepping fully off the walkway, the Pearl, flanked by two white topaz officers, began to approach her.

 

Before her was not Pearl, but a pearl she was unfamiliar with, as were the topazes. The pearl, while of the same pallor as White’s Pearl, looked nothing like her, with short, choppy white hair that covered her eyes and a large smile that curled her lips into something that wasn’t quite as welcoming as it must have originally meant to be.

 

The two soldier stopped just behind the pearl when they had neared close enough that Orange had to look down to at least politely acknowledge the presence in front of her, both soldiers standing at attention, eyes ahead and faces hard with a sternness that her own Topazes seemed to lack. And while Orange couldn’t see this Pearl’s eyes, hidden behind her short, choppy bangs, she could feel her stare all the same. It made a constant tingle go down the back of her neck in alarm, and her cheeks warm with embarrassed annoyance to be made to feel so uneasy by such a small, unimportant gem.

 

A little more tense now that who she had expected to see wasn’t there, Orange grew serious, pulling on that increasingly familiar face of displeasure she had started to become used to using, internally once again glad for the growth she had recently had to be able to stand taller than the three before her. The pearl was unwavering under Orange’s more intense stare, lips still sweetly twisted up and the Topazes continued to refuse to make eye contact with the young Diamond, almost vacantly staring ahead.

 

“Orange Diamond,” The Pearl chimed, dragging Orange’s attention to her, “If you would please follow me, my Master wishes to see you immediately.”

 

Orange did not attempt cover her contempt as she purposely tried to make one of the gems waver under her stare as she looked this pearl up and down, mimicking the action with the two Topazes as well, but none of them wore a distinct diamond insignia on their person that she could see. A sign that they were either well out of their normal positions being here, or they were so low on the caste, that they were commonly passed between the Diamonds for general use.

 

“And your master is?” Orange demanded. Simply based on their coloring, and their very presence on the Diamond’s landing pad, Orange knew she could make a well educated guess as to who her master was, but a confirmation was more ideal than assumptions. She was a strange gem, and something in her gut told her to keep away from this gem, as if there was something wrong with her.

 

“White Diamond.”

 

Orange frowned, unsure why White wanted to see her now or why it wasn’t her Pearl out here to greet her, or at least at the palace entrance with a more familiar guard to accompany them. This wasn’t what she had pictured coming back to, and it only made her want to find a more friendly face when she looked at the three in front of her.  Squirming under Pearl’s veiled stare, the feel of White’s Pearl’s present pressing into her hip where she kept it hidden behind her belt to ensure it was safe, reminded her that she had intended to leave it in her room until she would be able to give it to her. Her room, where the Carnelians should be. 

 

Squaring her shoulders, Orange turned her eyes to the general area she knew the Pearl’s eyes would be, “I will be stopping at my room to drop off my things first.” She informed her, and made a shooing motion with her hand, ”Run back to your master and-“

 

“White Diamond was insistent, my Clarity.” Pearl cut her off, head ever so slightly tilting to the side as the diamond bristled as she spoke.

 

Narrowing her eyes, Orange bit back her retort, vaguely annoyed to be receiving orders, and attempting to calm her own self, her annoyance stemming from what she knew was irrational anger at this gem who was only doing her job. “I can go myself.You’re not needed.”

 

Instead of being so easily dismissed, as Orange hoped, Pearl lightly shook her head and responded in that light tone that seemed to hold much more patience than hers could, “White Diamond was also clear that you were to be escorted, my Clarity.”

 

“Then I can be escorted by my own gems.” Orange reasoned through gritted teeth.

 

“White Diamond-“

 

“Correct me if I’m wrong,” the diamond stopped her before she could argue further with a motion of her hand she had seen Yellow make when a soldier talked too much for her liking, a gesture she had never really seen a use for until now, “But a gem that doesn’t follow a diamond’s orders, Isn’t a very useful gem. So, what are you still doing here?”

 

“I am following orders, my clarity.” Pearl answered, and then added with a small bow of her head, “My Diamond’s orders.”

 

Grunting, Orange closed her eyes and rubbed a hand over her forehead, mumbling under her breath, “You’re annoying, is what you are.”

 

“I’m sorry?” Pearl tilted her head, and with her ever contact smile, Orange could not quite tell if she was being sincere or merely remaining polite as she added, “Could you repeat yourself, your radiance?”

 

“Nothing.” the young diamond waved in dismissal, “Why is White so insistent that it be you?”

 

“I am only a pearl, I am not privileged with such information.” Pearl replied humbly and yet Orange found her answer to have almost been delivered with a mocking undertone, which was quickly dismissed from her mind, as she could not imagine some stray pearl willing to speak to a superior in such a manner. Perhaps, she reasoned, her annoyance with her expectations for returning were getting to her, and she was merely projecting onto this gem, who she recognized she was unjustly giving a hard time to.

 

“I merely find it odd.” Orange brushed off, wishing to at least move on with her day and not spend it arguing on the landing pad. “Proceed, then. Wouldn’t want to defy White Diamond’s wishes.”

 

Pearl’s hands moved to lay flat in front of her legs as she bowed her head respectfully, “Thank you, your clarity.” and then she was turning around, to  walk back the same way she had came, with a quietly uttered, “Please follow me.” 

 

The two Topazes finally coming to life as they moved, turning together in one fluid motion to face one another, waiting for Pearl to move between and then past them and for Orange to follow, before moving to flank them from behind, boxing Orange in between the three of them.

 

Glancing from one corner of her eyes to the other, Orange frowned, that tingling at the back of her neck there again at seeing the Topazes had silently created a formation with Pearl. Biting her tongue, she looked forward as they began to descend the stairs down from the top of the pad, watching her footing and, despite her longer legs, just barely managed to keep up with the pearl in front of her as she just seemed to flow down the stairs with ease. At the base, Orange nearly tripped herself as she had to abruptly turn to keep following Pearl as she took a different direction from the normal entrance to the Palace to get to White’s head ship. Eyebrows furrowed, the young Diamond turned to look towards where she knew the front entrance to be and then back at her escort to ask, “Why are we going this way?”

 

“There is construction a little further ahead.” Pearl answered, turning her head ever so slightly to respond over her shoulder, "It is for your safety, your radiance.”

 

“Construction of what?” Orange inquired, face twisting in equal amounts of confusion and interest. For as long as she had been alive, she had never seen White constructing anything near her palace. It was perfect as it was, what upgrades could be needed?

 

“A new landing pad, my clarity.”

 

Orange turned to look over her shoulder again towards the front, but knew she would not be able to actually see anything as they had already moved to follow a path to a side entrance Orange could not recall seeing before, the large white building blocking her view. Perhaps she and Pearl could take a trip to their hideaway to see it more clearly later. “More ships to be docked?” She said outlaid, more to herself than to keep a conversation with Pearl going. "Interesting.”

 

“Mmmm.” Pearl hummed in what the diamond assumed was agreement, turning her head towards her direction again, “Are you fond of ships, my clarity?”

 

Orange's face slipped into a much more neutral expression, mouth forming a rigid line across her face as she turned back to look at Pearl. “No.”

 

The trip through the palace and lower ship section would have been almost awkwardly silent if Orange didn’t spend most of her time split between looking around at the path the Pearl had chosen to take her on, a much longer route that involved more back corridors than the Diamond knew was necessary, and trying to descreetly look around to see if she could spot any stray gem she knew moving through the hall, which seemed to be more vacant than usual.

 

By the time they had reached the upper halls of White’s ship, the overly large doors to White’s control room in sight, Orange had allowed her weariness of the three odd gems to lower in favor of knowing White Diamond was in sprinting distance, and the excitement to be back had returned. While she had certainly planned to see White later, and the question as to why she wanted to see her right now still gnawed at her, she had to admit seeing White would bring what she had come to name as her Diamond Tour to an end. 

 

“We have arrived, Orange Diamond.” Pearl announced, turning before the scanner to acknowledge her superior, “White Diamond wishes to see you alone.”

 

“Thank you.” the young diamond, managing to pull some semblance of politeness together, nodded her head once toward Pearl, "Open the door.”

 

“Yes, your radiance.”

 

A moment later, the pad lit up at the small gem’s hand, the doors slid open, immediately assaulting Orange with the familiar brightness of the eldest diamond. Without a second glance to her escorts, she darted inside, making a quick B-line to White, her lips curling up into a toothy smile as she looked up at White Diamond who was already looking her way the moment the doors had opened.

 

“Orange, you’ve returned.” White’s voice echoed in the empty chamber, her ever smiling expression turning down to look at the young diamond as she approached.

 

“White!“ Orange practically launched herself at the older Diamond, and in a well worn routine, White bent at the waist, reaching out to catch her in her palms, long nails and slender fingers forming a protective cage under her. Bringing her hands up, she held the smaller gem close to her body as she knelt in her palms, staring up at her with bright eyes filled with excitement and affection. “It’s so good to see you again.”

 

“Hello, my little gemling.” White responded, eyes crinkling at the sides as her smile widened, her eyes briefly looking the young  gem up and down, “You are looking well.”

 

Orange’s smile slipped ever so slightly at the name, catching herself enough before she felt it was noticeable and hummed her agreement, “Mmmm. I learned a lot while i was away.”

 

Ever the observant gem, White cocked her head as she regarded the youngest diamond with a curious look, inquiring,“What is on your mind?”

 

Orange bit the inside of her cheek, hesitant, but knowing White would not take ’nothing’ as an acceptable answer. Instead, she asked, “Can I ask you something?”

 

White raised one perfectly formed eyebrow, intrigued, and agreed. “You may.”

 

“Why do you still call me that?”

 

“Hmm?” White”s expression showed her puzzlement at the young gem’s question, so Orange continued.

 

“Little gemling?” Orange leaned back on her knees, as if White could not already fully see all of her, her tall frame evident even as she was folded up in the older diamond’s hands, “I’m not so little anymore.”

 

“But you are to me.” White responded, features evening out into amusement, “You will always be my gemling, Orange.”

 

Orange’s eyebrows furrowed, her mouth opening to argue and snapping closed just as fast when she was cut off. “But-“

 

“Now, I’m glad you’re finally here. I have a surprise for you.” White shifted Orange to one hand, freeing the other to bring up a set of three screens with a wave of her hand. The translucent white screens sparked to life instantly, already filled with rows and rows of information that the younger gem couldn’t understand, missing context for a lot of it.

 

Orange bit her tongue, taking a moment before asking with a little more mustered interest, slightly put off with White’s own dismissal of her question. “A surprise?”

 

With one hand holding her, White’s long fingers interacting with the center screen, the blocks of text turning to a new one, and then another, as White flicked through the stores of data kept there. She continued to search even as she spoke, “I had been worried it might be difficult to keep it a secret for long enough, given how curious you are.” A glance over to Orange, amusement crinkling the side of her eyes again as Orange grew more interested in White’s surprise for her. 

 

“But, as it happened, you worked with your fellow diamonds and made a travel plan to go see them.” The older diamond’s voice had slipped into that honeyed tone Orange had long since realized White used, at least when she had been younger and cried a lot, to encourage and show her approval of the younger gem’s actions. “All by yourself. How exciting!”

 

Orange did not feel White was being condescending to her, and thus let the affectionate, if somewhat embarrassing, way of being spoke to go without incident. Instead, she explained by simply stating, “I want to be more independent.” 

 

White nodded approvingly, “As a good Diamond should be. And that just solidifies my decision even more.”

 

“What decision?” Orange’s eyebrows furrowed together, confused, glancing between White’s face and the screens in front of her.

 

“Shhhh.” The older diamond hushed her, and then continued talking as if she had never been interrupted in the first place, “But imagine, the luck for you to leave so I could have your surprise ready for when you returned.”

 

The curiosity that had been on Orange’s face slipped, falling with her expression as she realized White had had her own reasons for letting her leave, and not just for Orange’s original thoughts. “Is that why you agreed to let me go?”

 

White glanced down, seeing the younger diamond’s fallen expression, and stopped her search for a moment to reach a single finger up to tip Orange’s chin back to look up at her, “Do not look so glum, Orange. It worked for all of us, did it not?”

 

“I suppose…” Orange begrudgingly agreed, eyes darting away from White look at the diamond screens, "but what’s the surprise then?”

 

Turning back to the center screen, the eldest diamond made another adjustment, and made a small noise in the back of her throat when she finally found what she had been searching for. Tilting the screen, White looked down at Orange expectantly, “Look.”

 

Standing up to get a much better view, Orange scanned the screen, taking in the white lines that formed a blocky outline of a building, small notes dotting the screen to indicate certain details that were to be mandatory. Blinking in confusion, Orange turning to look up at White, “Schematic? What are these for?”

 

“As you know, a Diamond’s image is very important, from the way we appear, to the things we own. As such, and with much consideration and observation, I’ve decided it is time for you to start building your own image.”

 

Orange’s mouth slanted as she tried to follow White’s line of thought she was obviously trying to bring her along to, glancing back to the schematics still being displayed, “With…a building?”

 

“With a palace, My little one.”

 

“Wait!” Orange yelled before she could contain it, head whipping to look back at White with wide eyes and an open mouth smile, “You made me a palace!?” 

 

White nodded her confirmation, allowing the youngest diamond to process the true magnitude of her surprise. Orange looked over the schematic again, taking every bit of her willpower not to break down into crying laughter, mouth opening and closing as she gaped at the representation of what would be her palace. Hers. “I was…I was only gone for, like,  four months. It was built so fast!”

 

“I had some of the finest gems on it.” White answered dismissively, "A palace for a new Diamond is very important.”

 

Orange smile widened, eyes flicking over the schematic again, shining with unshed tears of joy. “My own palace…”

 

“It is a rare sight to see you at a loss for words.”

 

“White!” Orange yelled, startling the older diamond at the unexpected response, slowing her reaction as the smaller gem leaped from her hands, latching onto her neck as she hugged her tightly, tears eventually slipping down her cheeks even as she laughed between words, “This means so much to me! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!“

 

Blinking, White tilted her chin down, a hand coming up to clasp over Orange’s back to keep her from slipping from her precarious position. “Shhh, Orange. No tears…but you are welcome.”

 

Eventually, Orange calmed down enough from her hysterics for White to take her back into her palm, turning her attention back to the schematic to  dismiss the screens now that they had served their use.

 

“I can’t believe it.” the younger gem grinned stupidly, "You made me a palace.”

 

“It was only a matter of time. As a Diamond, you will need your own palace here on Homeworld. A place that is yours.”

 

“But…” slowly the smile slipped from her face as realization started to sink in through her excited haze, "I’m not allowed to be know to the public yet. Won’t they question the building?”

 

“Your time to be announced is arriving quicker than you believe.” White made a dismissive gesture with her free hand, ”We must first get you settled into your own space, before you are started with your court, and finally, a colony of your own.”

 

“Pink had to wait 3 millennia for a colony, right?” Orange inquired, “Shouldn’t I wait at least that long?”

 

White raised an eyebrow, eyes narrowing ever so slightly at the younger gem’s question, “You would base your readiness on your fellow diamonds rather than you own achievements and skill?”

 

Orange sat up straighter, expression becoming serious as she responded in a well practiced, professional tone, “I’d base it on the wisdom of my superiors, who have had eons more experience than me, and from what I have actually witnessed regarding what it takes to make all these things happen. I have seen what it takes to actually be a diamond and to do their job, and I do not see it as something to take lightly.”

 

Orange could tell White was inexplicably pleased with her response, giving her a single nod of approval, though it was her eyes that really expressed how delighted she was with the youngest diamond. “You are more prepared then you know. But don’t worry,” White reassured, "I have no plans to give you a colony of your own for at least another thousand years.”

 

“But, my own palace…Stars.” Orange couldn’t get over how giddy she felt over a building. but a building that had been made just for her. her own palace, hers. the first building that was hers, and hers alone. the start of being a real diamond with a court and real meaning. no longer a secret, an equal. Everything she had wanted was before her now.

 

Sitting up straighter again, Orange’s eyes widened as her voice raised, “Wait.”

 

“What’s wrong?” White questioned.

 

“What about a court?” Orange asked, "When am I going to start that?”

 

Chuckling, White’s responded, “I believe you already have one in the making.”

 

“You mean my guard?“ Orange’s eyebrows turned up as she tried to figure out what White meant.

 

“Oh, my little gem, you are not so ignorant as you may act.” White chided, "I’m very aware of the gems who wish to join you in my own court. I would not be surprised if they have not sprouted up in the others as well.”

 

The color drained from Orange’s face, the implications of White's words not lost on her. “I…I didn’t….I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t be.” the older diamond countered, unmoved by Orange’s apology, instead explaining, “It isn’t uncommon for a...more experienced Diamond to give a newly made one a few gems to aid them, until they begin to make their own. Of course, it is not for these gems to decided to defect from one court to another. It can’t, and won’t, be tolerated.”

 

“Are you going to punish them?” Orange couldn’t help asking, her mind going to the Carnelians immediately, her first thought to do what she could to protect them.

 

The smile on White’s lips slipped slightly as she chastised the younger diamond, “What I do is my business, Orange.You should not ask.”

 

Orange looked away from the older diamond’s disapproving stare as she nodded, “Yes, White.”

 

“You can be sure, you will have gems,” White told her, moving on, “but gems who are not loyal to their Diamond must be taught their place. It is the way of things.”

 

“But, can I have them, then?” Orange pushed, looking back up, a new spark in her eyes.

 

“Hmm?” White hummed, eyebrows rising in interest at Orange’s question, or her audacity to ask again, she wasn't sure.

 

“If gems need to be loyal,” Orange responded slowly as she thought her response out, “then they can be loyal to me. If they already are, by choice, then they would be perfect for a starting court. I’m familiar with a lot of them. I can have them, cant I, White?”

 

White’s eyes narrowed,“You have certain ones in mind, already.” It was not a question.

 

“I know the gems that have been gifted to me, but a handful of Citrines, Carnelians, two Topazes and an Agate doesn’t make a court.” Orange challenged, spurred to continue when White didn’t stop her, and decided she would have a better chance if she used her teachings than to beg White for it. “Blue has made sure I understand how everything works, and Yellow has walked me forwards and backwards through the caste system more times than i care to count. I can’t be a proper diamond, and do what I need to, without the proper pieces to my game, right?”

 

White chuckled, amused at Orange’s challenge to her decision. “You are attempting to bargain for these gems.”

 

“Shouldn’t one diamond be able to negotiate with another?” Orange asked a little too innocently.

 

White laughed again, nodding her head, not in agreement, but approval of the younger gem’s actions. “Sly. Very sly, little one. I make no guarantees, but will consider it, at the very least.”

 

“I can take that.” Orange smiled, relaxing again, feeling as if she might very well have managed to persuade the eldest diamond, which would be quite the accomplishment to her.. “I trust you, White.”

 

“As you should.”

 

“When will I be moving into my palace?” Orange inquired, now more interested than ever to head down to White’s palace to look out to see what her own looked like.

 

“Soon.” White replied, “There are still parts that need to be completed, and first, you will need to be introduced to the rest of the Authority’s courts.”

 

“How will that happen?”

 

“There will be a ceremony, a coronation.” the eldest diamond explained, "It has been some time since Pink was introduced.”

 

Orange’s eyes lit up, “So I’m going to have a party?”

 

“In a manner of speaking.” 

 

“Will there be dancing?”

 

“They will be dancing for the Authority,” White confirmed, "Yes.”

 

“I can’t wait!” Orange exclaimed, hands coming together in front of her to keep them from pumping into the air.

 

“Do not get ahead of yourself.” White tempered, seeing Orange’s excitement rising and wishing to avoid another outburst of emotions. "This means there will be plenty to do before that can happen.”

 

“Like what?”

 

“I still wish to see how much you really know.” the eldest diamond explained, “Considering you were not made with all the knowledge you needed like we were, I find your retention for information impressive. But knowing and doing, are two very different things.”

 

Orange visible deflated, lips tugging back in disappointment, “So I have to have moretests.”

 

“Do not pout.” White chastised, “It is a part of the process.”

 

“Okay…but what else?” Orange asked, "Anything i will actually like?”

 

White considered this a moment, “You will need to choose a head of guard, once you have the basis of your court. You will also need to experience an extraction chamber, in the presence of one of the other Diamonds, to ensure nothing occurs.”

 

Orange's eyebrow raised as she questioned in confusion, “I can’t do that with you?”

 

“I have much to do, my little one.” White reached up to pet the top of her head in an attempt to placate her, “You understand.”

 

“I suppose…” Orange acquiesced, remaining subdued for only a moment before she bounce back into excitement, eyes wide as she looked up at White and asked, “does that mean the others are coming home too?”

 

“Yellow Diamond should be the first to arrive,” White replied, "if all is on schedule.”

 

“Our family is coming home?”

 

White nodded, “For your ceremony, all the Diamonds will be present.”

 

“Even Pink?” Orange hesitantly questioned.

 

“Pink will be required to come, Yes.”

 

“I can’t wait.” Orange told her, “It’s worth it to have all of you here.”

 

“There is much else to be done. You will be apprised of what must be done when details have been discussed and revised.”

 

“Anything for me to do now?” Orange asked curiously.

 

“At the moment, us older Diamonds must take care of things.” White leaned forward, holding her hand out in signal it was time for Orange to leave the comfort of White’s hand. "For now, you should return to your room.”

 

Orange jumped down, taking a moment to straighten out her tunic and discreetly reposition the present behind her belt that had shifted down before turning around to look up at White, feeling bold enough to ask, “Without an escort?”

 

“My Pearl is away on personal business.” White said, explaining what Orange had been wondering for some time now, “I will have another take-“

 

“I’d like to go myself.” Orange interrupted her, not missing the slight narrowing of White’s eyes at her action, but continued anyway, “I’m in the safety of your ship, and no one here hasn’t already seen me. It’s a short trip to my own room, and a Diamond should be able to move autonomously, without aid and supervision. As you have taught me.”

 

White raised an eyebrow at her, amusement quirking up the corner of her lips, “Another debate?”

 

Orange grinned as she answered cheekily,  “I think you like my debates, White.”

 

“Who else would challenge me?”

 

After a moment, Orange questioned again, “So can I?”

 

White, with a motion of her hand, dismissed Orange to leave her control room with a spoken, “Go.”

 

Grinning, Orange waved as she turned and moved towards the doors, “I’ll see you later, White!”

 

As Orange exited, White motioned with her hand again, the screens she had before appearing again. A moment later, out of the corner of her eyes, the pearl with hidden eyes seemed to solidify from the shadows of the room, stepping forward into the light of White Diamond.

 

Turning to glance down at the gem, White assessed her and then returned back to the diamond displays. “Keep an eye on her.”

 

“Yes, my Diamond.”

Chapter Text

 

The soft tapping of shoes echoed in the empty corridor, breaking up the monotonous silence that naturally seemed to reside inside the headship, like oppressive white noise. Orange Diamond, with her wish granted, was milking it for its worth, taking her time as she moved freely through the halls. A stroll, by herself, no one in sight to interrupt her. Nothing but sparkling white walls and marble floors, lined with borderline exorbitant decorative arches and molding on the wall, making the young diamond stand out amongst the alabaster.

 

Tap, tap, tap

 

She created a haphazard litany, stepping a little heavier than necessary to create noise with her shoes. It was silly, but no one was around to tell her to stop or judge her for her moment of harmless fun. It was a certain sound of freedom she could easily get addicted to. An independence she would soon have when she had her own palace, and when she was officially a part of the Authority. No longer kept in the shadow of the other Diamonds, but an equal to them.

 

It made her giddy to think of it, not that she could think of much else in that moment. Her whole life had been leading to this, what the other Diamonds had been grooming her for, on the horizon and waiting for her. It was such good news, she knew she had to share it. She wanted to tell everyone, anyone, no matter how unrealistic that option was in reality. The Carnelians would be first to know, which seemed only right. It was the Carnelians, after all, who had first approached her with their interest in following her when she became apart of the Authority. She would fight White tooth and nail for them, at the very least. They absolutely had to come with her to the palace. She would prepare some kind of impassioned, but rational, speech for White on the off chance she did want to punish them for straying from her.

 

But after them, there was Pearl. Pearl had to know as well. She would be first, if she wasn't away doing something for White. Knowing that she was only just busy doing whatever it was White had tasked her with put a part of her she hadn’t really acknowledged at ease. Pearl wasn’t at her arrival, not because she hadn’t wanted to be, but because her job as White Diamond’s pearl came first, and Orange had to respect that. Pearl’s job meant everything to her, something she marked her worthiness by, and Orange could relate well enough to that. So, she would wait until Pearl had the time to see her to tell her the good news. 

 

Her hand strayed to her belt, feeling the hard lump of rock underneath the stiff material of her belt. At least with Pearl being busy she would have extra time to clean up her present a little more. It no longer carried the loose dirt and dust that had lined the fine cracks and crevices of the stone’s colorful clusters, but it could still do with another polishing, and, surprising to Orange, she had found applying her energy over the colorful stones enhanced its hue into a more vibrant indigo than it had been when she found it. She didn’t know the reason behind it, but assume it had something to do with the gem essence it had formed from reacting to her. 

 

Spurred to use her time a little more productively, Orange picked up her lazy pace, feet making a quicker staccato bounce off the walls.

 

Tap-tap, Tap, Tap-Tap, tap, Tap-tap

 

Orange’s brow furrowed, foot paused from its arched position off the ground, stiffening with the rest of her as she felt a small, uncomfortable tingle shoot down the back of her neck. It was sudden, but familiar, not unlike when was back on Yellow’s colony, being watched by that monster hiding in the trees. Unsuspecting prey, all alone to be perfectly ambushed. Turning her head to look behind her, her eyes searched the hall, but found nothing. Reaching a hand up, she soothed the feeling away as she rubbed the exposed skin there, eyes still flicking around, aware but unseeing of something that had set the feeling off.

 

“Hello?” Orange called, waiting a beat for a response but received nothing. Lips pursed, Orange hesitated but continued on, deciding she no longer wanted to be alone in the hall. However, no matter how she tried, she could not shake the feeling of no longer walking alone. Pace once again set, the young gem focused her hearing, shoulders tensing as she recognized the unmistakeable sound of another set of feet walking.

 

Tap-tap, Tap, Tap-Tap, tap, Tap-tap

 

Drowned out by her own, and lost in her own world, had she not stopped she would have missed it completely. Coming upon an oddly bright hall, Orange’s eyes focused on a small arrangement of glass panels, the sight of the city lighting up the back wall in more color than it should have naturally been painted in. Slowing to a stop at one of the large panes, Orange took the chance to turn to the side, appearing as if she was looking out at the cityscape when she was really attempting to inconspicuously look behind her. Out of the corner of her eyes, Orange nearly missed the sight of a head of gray, almost white hair pull back behind a corner, disappearing from her sight so quickly she would have questioned she had even seen it had she not been purposely looking. After a moment of stunned surprise, her eyes narrowed when anger began to seep in, the realization hitting her as she slipped from surprised stupor into comprehension. White hair, the unusual feeling of caution for no reason, the sound of feet that weren’t hers. 

 

That Pearl from before, the one she couldn’t wait to get away from, the one who gave the young Diamond the creeps, was following her.

 

Orange opened her mouth, about to call the Pearl out, before she stopped herself, lips pressing into a thin line as her eyes narrowed further. She was being followed, by a gem she didn’t trust, in what should have been the safety of White’s ship. What this Pearl wanted from her, or what her motive was, Orange wasn’t really interested in finding out in the far side of a half empty ship, and she wasn’t sure what this gem was capable of, or even why she was following her. Not to mention if she did something, Orange would never hear the end of it from her guardians, nor be allowed to walk by herself until she was two thousand years old. Fighting her impulse for confrontation, she reasoned it would be better to simply slip away. So instead of letting her know she knew, Orange would continue on until she had a chance to lose her.

 

She had spent too long in this ship, she knew the complex maze of halls as well as the gems who had designed it. She reckoned she could lose most here if she wanted.

 

“Hmm.” Orange hummed, voice picking up, loud enough she was sure the Pearl had heard her "What a view.” Turning from the window to continue down the corridor, she continued turning her eyes to try and peer around without turning her head too much, but it was impossible to really see through her cursedly messy hair. But, expectedly, Orange continued to hear those lighter steps attempting to camouflage themselves within her own and that same instinct biting at her neck in warning.

 

Strides lengthening, she knew the Pearl would have to choose between remaining quiet, or picking up her pace and risk being seen or heard to keep up with her. When the steps did not become louder, Orange took the chance of having created enough space between them to taking a sudden sharp turn to the left, passing through a connecting hallway only to turn right, following the open line of wall until she was met at another intersection. Taking another sharp turn, which she abruptly stopped at, the diamond leaned against the wall, ears focusing hyper-tensely to her surroundings.

 

Leaning cautiously, she peeked over the corner, focusing on the sight of the Pearl, head slowly turning from one side of the open corridor to the other, obviously searching for her. After a moment, the Pearl turned to the right, disappearing from her sight.

 

‘Good.’ Orange sneered in her head, pulling away from the wall to continue a little more cautiously down the hall, waiting until she was sure she and that Pearl were far enough apart to break out into a jog, ’Stay lost.’

 


 

The trek back to the much more familiar halls of the back-facing south wing was largely, and gratefully, uneventful. The farther down the headship she traveled, and the closer she got to the top of the palace, the more the young Diamond began to feel secure again. Orange had only eased her jog when she ran into the first signs of life, two sentries walking the long stretch of halls, who were quite surprised to have the young Diamond nearly barrel into them. Beyond them, only a handful of soldiers could be found in the upper palace where Orange lived, as it was the gems who kept the rooms tidy and dust free that mainly inhabited the space at any given time. Orange always felt a little guilty for tracking in more dirt after her time with Iris and the Topazes, knowing she would never be the one to have to deal with the mess she made, but she had never been given more than a head bow for her trouble.  

 

The safety of the corridor and the simple familiarness of her wing was enough to shake off the remaining unease of that pearl and their silly game of chase. Turning the corner, Orange stopped suddenly, face breaking out in a large, open mouth smile as her eyes focused on two red gems conversing animatedly with one another.

 

“5PX!” She yelled, pulling both of their attention to her as she began sprinting to then, "7PX!”

 

Recognition lit up 5PX’s face, the first to abandon her post to charge at the young gem, meeting her part way, her counterpart joining soon after. “Orange Diamond!”

 

“My Diamond!”

 

Orange laughed as both Carnelians wrapped their arms around her, her own arms encircling them both and pulling them tightly against her sides.

 

“Oh, Its good to see you both again.” Orange, lifted both of them, hugging them snuggly to her as she straightened up, earning gasps of surprise from the two guards when she lifted them off their feet.

 

5PX, with a wide smile on her face, playfully latched onto Orange’s arm, exaggeratedly flailing her feet that were barely hung a meter off the floor, “Woah! Woah! Put me down! Get me off this shuttle ride!”

 

“Shush!” Orange laughed out at the gem’s antics "Accept my hug.”

 

5PX did her best to use her hand to mockingly give a salute in response,“As you command, your radiant radiant-ness. Hug me!”

 

The young gem laughed even harder as the Carnelian wrapped her arms back around her, knocking into 7PX’s hands, earning a loud protest in return. Orange shook her head, “I have missed that too.”

 

“Really?” 7PX’s face pinched, eyebrows furrowing as she side eyed her companion, “who could miss 5PX’s face? Normally it just scares gems off.”

 

“Oh, hah hah, 7!” Her guard mate responded sarcastically, face briefly scrunching together to mock her, “Don’t be jealous just because i’m clearly the favorite Carnelian here.”

 

“No way!” 7 looked genuinely offended, only to quickly turn into a smug grin, “Our Diamond clearly prefers the smarter of the two of us, which is, obviously, me. She’s just humoring you.”

 

“Alright, alright,” Orange intoned, setting the two Carnelians down, purposely placing them away from one another. “You two are a wonderful change from all formalness.”

 

5PX, in one final act to get on 7PX’s nerve, fell to her knees to touch the ground and dramatically weep, “Oh sweet floor.”

 

As predicted, 7PX grunted, eyes narrowing at her counterpart, “Be quiet, 5.” She hissed, “Get up! You're being rude now.”

 

“Im joking,” 5 responded, pushing off her bent knees to stand up straight, “You should try it some time, instead of being so serious.”

 

“Someone has to be serious between us!” 7 gestured widely from herself and to 5, "Can you imagine if we were caught goofing off by-“

 

“Hey, calm down.” Orange cut in, both Carnelian’s mirroring one another as their lips slanted, eyes narrowing as they glared at one another. “I have some important news and i want you guys to hear it.”

 

5 was the first to give up their staring to look up at Orange, surprise softening her features as she questioned, “Oh? Is it good news?”

 

“I consider it some of the best news of my life.” Orange responded, smile widening as she cocked her head to look at the shorter of the three of them, taking a pause for effect, she finally spoke, “Soon, i’ll be moving into a new palace, my ownpalace. I’ll be joining the Authority!”

 

“Oh.” Fell from 5PX’s lips before she could stop it.

 

7PX was quick to attempt to fix her friend’s blunder, “Uh, congrats, my Diamond!” she grinned in obviously forced enthusiasm, “Really, thats great to hear.”

 

“Okay, really?” Orange questioned, slightly exasperated as she looked from one carnelian to the other, “i was expecting something more…well,” she made a motion with her hand as she settled on a word, "excited?”

 

“No, no, really, its great news, my diamond,” 5 responded, ashamed enough to give Orange an apologetic look in response, “but, seriously?” she paused while Orange’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, “Who hasn’t heard!?”

 

“Heard what?”

 

7PX nodded in agreement, “You’re all the word on Homeworld right now.”

 

Orange’s confusion rose, turning up as she looked from one Carnelian to the other and repeated, “What?”

 

“Well, not you, you.” 5 gestured to the young diamond, "But the new Palace? They know there is a new Diamond, it’s a matter of trying to see you before any big announcements are made.” She explained, eyebrows waggling as if she had said something mystifying, “You know, anything official from on high.”

 

The corner of Orange’s mouth lifted up and pulled back, lips pressed together as she folded her arms over her chest, eyes turned down to stare at the floor in thought. “That might explain why I was being followed earlier.”

 

Both Carnelian’s faces slipped from amusement to alarmed, eyes going round as lips parted in stunned surprise.

 

7PX was the first to respond, snapping out a startled, “What?”

 

“Who?” 5PX followed, tone assertive as she became surprisingly serious.

 

“Who were your guards?"

 

“Why weren’t you being escorted!”

 

Orange pinched the bridge of her nose as the two began talking over one another, speaking up to be heard over them, “Shush you two.”

 

“Yes my Diamond!” both saluted, straightening up as they both quieted simultaneously.

 

“I..” Orange looked between both of them, hand falling away from her face as she winced, "I didn’t mean like that. It was an order, but not an order like-“ she cut herself off, waving her hand in the air dismissively, “Never mind.” As both Carnelians relaxed their stance, Orange continued speaking, “Look, it was this weirdly pushy pearl that insisted on escorting me to White from the shuttle.” She explained, “I lost her, it’s not like you’re in trouble.”

 

Both Carnelian’s exchanged an uneasy look, “Until White’s Pearl finds out.”

 

“Or worse,” 7PX grimace, "White Diamond.”

 

“We weren’t there,” 5PX pointed out, wagging a finger at her guard mate, “it’s not our fault.”

 

“We’re assigned to her,” 7PX countered, eyes wide in as she made an agitated motion with her hand towards her, "of course it’s our fault!”

 

“No, no.” 5PX dismissed her claim with a wave of her hand, "We were told to be here.”

 

Orange blinked, turning to look at 5 quizzically, “You were told-?”

 

“But if something happens,” 7 cut her off as if she hadn’t said anything, continuing to narrow her eyes at 5, “It’s our gems on the line!”

 

“Wait-“

 

“We were following orders.” 5 countered, and had the moment of thought to turn and give Orange an apologetic look, “I mean, not that I wouldn’t feel bad if something were to happen to you, my Diamond.”

 

Orange’s lips quirked, “I know what you-“

 

“But it’s not our fault,” 5 immediately continued after, Orange’s mouth snapping shut as she was interrupted again, eyes moving from one gem to the other as they spoke, "we were following orders, directly from White Diamond.”

 

“But it’s still our job.”

 

“We can’t be in two places at once!”

 

“There’s two of us,” 7 motioned to her and then to herself, "of course we can!”

 

“Okay! Let’s just calm down!” Orange stepped between the two, holding her hands up and motioning the two back away from each other. “Why are you two fighting? What orders?”

 

“We’re not fighting.” 5 blinked in surprise, looking up at her superior.

 

7 surprisingly nodded in agreement, “We’re bickering.”

 

5 snapped her fingers and pointed at her guard mate, “Yeah, we're bickering.”

 

7 turned from Orange to sneer at 5, “Don’t copy me!”

 

“I’m not copying you, I’m agreeing.” 5 pulled a face mockingly at 7 and pointed to it, "See, this is my agreeing face.”

 

“5PX stop antagonizing.” Orange interrupted, chastising the shorter gem and then turning to the other, "7PX, what Orders?”

 

7 snapped to attention, turning fully to look at Orange as she responded, “We were told by a pearl, under White Diamond’s orders to wait for you at your personal quarters, my Clarity.”

 

“Not my, erm,” Orange lowered her eyes briefly as she caught herself before she could finish her sentence, quickly correcting herself, "White’s Pearl?”

 

“No.”

 

“She wouldn’t have happen to have short,” Orange used her hand to give the Carnelians a visual example of the general length she was trying to describe, “white-ish hair? Had a sort of high collared dress?”

 

“Yeah, that’s her.” 5PX shuttered, "Really creepy.”

 

“And stoic.” 7 agreed, nodding her head, "Like she wasn’t there.”

 

“She couldn’t leave fast enough.”

 

“For us, at least.” 7 amended, "She and those Topazes.”

 

“I’ve seen robonoid drones with more emotion.”

 

7 shook her head, “That Pearl’s smile was worse.”

 

“Alright, I get it.” Orange grunted, hand coming up to rub at her forehead as she took a moment to think about the occurrence, “The whole situation is weird,” she spoke after a long pause, looking up to meet both Carnelian’s eyes, "and if you see her again, ignore her orders. I don’t exactly trust she’s working under White’s command.”

 

“A spy?” 5PX questioned.

 

“A pawn.” Orange corrected, "She’s only a Pearl, she can’t make moves in higher circles without a master.”

 

“Even though it hasn’t been announced, everyone’s waiting for it.” 7 said, looking between Orange and 5, "A new Diamond.”

 

Orange’s eyebrows turned down, her head turning to give the taller carnelian a curious look, “How do you know all this, anyway?”

 

“I heard about it from the Moonstones, in the lower palace.” 5 answered, pulling Orange’s attention to her, “Most of the aristocracy doesn’t think we listen, or that we’re even smart enough to do anything with what we overhear.”

 

7 nodded in agreement, “And guards and servants hear a lot.”

 

Orange tsked, “Careless.”

 

“My Diamond?”

 

“Nothing.” The young diamond shook her head, and gestured for the two guards to follow her as she started to walk towards the entrance of her room. “I’m going to rest, it’s been a long day already. If Pearl comes by, White’s Pearl that is,” she made a point to clarify, "she may enter. Everyone else can wait.”

 

“But what about that Agate?” 5PX questioned, earning a tense shutter from 7PX.

 

“Yeah. That mean Agate who threatened to destabilize 5.”

 

“Iris?” Orange interjected, blinking in surprise as she looked at 7.

 

“Yeah. It was an Iris Agate!” 5 confirmed, "She had these pads to drop off for you, but we were uncertain about letting her enter.”

 

“We let her in,” 7 explained, hastily adding “with us watching, of course.” She appeared ashamed to admit it, “She left the pads on your desk. She said she might be back.”

 

“Ugh.” Orange grunted, head tilting back as she slapped her forehead, turning to give both Carnelian’s an apologetic look of her own, "That’s my fault. I should have introduced you or at least said something. Listen, that Iris Agate is mine, and she has permission to enter, so long as I’m not resting, Alright?”

 

Both 5 and 7 nodded, loosely saluting Orange in some semblance of obedience, which was enough for the young diamond. “Yes my Diamond.”

 

“Good.” Orange paused as they stopped in front of her doors, turning to look at 5 who sheepishly responded, “I really didn’t want to have to fight her.”

 

“What fight?” 7 snorted, turning to look at 5 with a raised eyebrow, “You’re so lazy, do you even know how to throw a real punch?”

 

5 glared at 7, mouth turning down in a snarl as she raised a fist to her, “Why throw a punch when I could just scare them off with your ugly face? It’s worked so far.”

 

Orange rolled her eyes, turning around and releasing the lock on her door, “Have fun with your bickering, you two.”

 

 


 

 

Orange’s eyes roamed over the small personal display, rereading, not for the first time, Iris’ new plan for training, as well as the things Yellow had spoken to her about, which she happily noted — her enthusiasm and honorof speaking with the older diamond included — were such wonderful additions to her regimen.