Strums of a guitar can be heard from the distance near the shore. There's someone on the beach, tuning the instrument in his hands. He's concentrating, wanting the song to sound right.
He strums and one of the claws on his hand accidentally hits one of the strings.
Even now, he's still getting used to the scars left behind. There have been times where his horns hit the tops of doorways and his tail wagged too much. It was weird at first, slowly but surely, he did adjust to it.
It helped that the gems were patient and supportive, even on days that felt impossible to do anything, days where he felt guilt over what he did, months where he went back to being closed off and distant.
They were there, they didn't shout at him, force him to talk to them, nor did they compare his actions to someone else.
They gave him space, waited for him to talk to them, and when he did, listened to him and helped him however they could.
He notices pink light on his guitar, the sun was starting to set. Crystalline horns reflected the rays on the sand, little lights dancing around him.
The gems–his family, would come soon, building a little campfire. It's almost a tradition at this point, twice a month they'll all have dinner by the fire, trading stories of their adventures and talking about stuff at the school.
Though they might be taking longer than usual today, strange how time passes by. Sometimes it feels like an eternity and other times, it was too quick to even enjoy the moment. He continued to practice playing a simple melody, claws tangling less as the sun sets.
He was close to the end when he felt his tail wagging randomly. At this point he could tell exactly who was approaching him.
"Hey, Connie," he pats the sand beside him," wanna join me on this one?"
She sits right beside him, careful not to touch the spikes at his arms. They sat there together, guitar forgotten on his lap, hands held, a silent understanding as they watch the sunset.
After the sun has fully set, Connie stood up, "I came here to tell you that they were almost finished setting things up," she reached out her hand, a gesture that's always been offered to him by her even at his lowest point, "it won't start without you, Steven."
"What exactly wouldn't start without me?" he teased. He knew what date was today, it scared him months ago, but now he accepted it.
Connie rolled her eyes while giggling she said, "You know exactly what wouldn't start, you dork."
He stood up, grabbing his guitar and they went together, hand in hand.
"SURPRISE! Happy 18th birthday, Steven!"
He knew they were planning it, still he wouldn't say that he didn't freeze a little at the sight of them.
It was a simple little gathering, his dad prepared dinner with the help of Connie's parents and the gems helped with setting up the place.
Talks about the future were present while they ate, yet he didn't mind as much as he did. Jokes about him and Connie left both of them blushing bright red. Near the end of dinner was a cake decorated with stars with a note from Lars wishing him a happy birthday.
When he blew from the candles, he didn't really know what to wish for. What he had right there was all he always wanted—a family that loved and supported him.
They ended the night with them sitting around the campfire while Steven was playing his guitar, singing a song that had a familiar tune.
As he played, he looked around him.
He's surrounded by his family, the stars are brighter than usual and with his tail gently swishing to the tune of his guitar— he felt something, warmer than the fire near him.
He hasn't felt that in a while.
He was happy and for the first time in a long time, looking forward towards the future.