Steven didn’t know what was happening. He had saved most of his friends and had been taken by Aquamarine to Homeworld (Well, he’d agreed to go so it wasn’t exactly kidnapping). He wasn't sure where Lars was either and that just made him feel so much worse because he couldn’t help him and this was all his fault. If he hadn’t gone to the Zoo they wouldn’t have gone to Earth. If he hadn’t given Peridot that list of names they wouldn’t have taken his friends. But now he was on trial, being defended by an odd blue gem named Zircon who was chewing on her finger as she flicked through one of her many screens. Any time Steven tried to ask a question he was shushed him loudly so Steven just curled up quietly in his triangle where he’d been shoved. What was even the point of a triangle dug into the ground?!
It felt like a nightmare. The room was just a large empty area bathed in blinding white light until the end where it was only pitch blackness. The entire room felt empty. So empty and bright. Steven’s eyes watered whenever he looked up, even if they weren’t stinging like they should be.
He sniffed quietly. He wanted to go home. He missed Pearl. He missed everyone.
“Sh.” Zircon hissed again, finding another screen overwhelmingly interesting. Or maybe she was realizing how badly this was going to go for them. Steven had introduced himself as Rose Quartz after all, he’d needed to save his friends and he’d made himself the more appealing target for Homeworld. Plus… his mom had shattered Pink Diamond. He had to take responsibility. His grip tightened on his jeans as he sniffed a little louder. His mom had killed Pink Diamond.
His eyes had started stinging and he wiped them sharply.
Why hadn’t the trial started yet? How long had he been sat here?
A flash of light and another gem was stood next to him. This one was green and it kept smiling down at him. She was talking, but it was like a quiet buzzing. He trembled, fingers digging deeper into the fabric. He was going to die.
Steven was going to die.
His hand moved to his gem and he felt the smoothness under his t shirt. His mom had killed Pink Diamond and he had to take responsibility. But he didn’t want to die. He was scared. But he was so tired of not knowing anything. Everyone was hiding things from him and it was awful.
Oh, the Diamonds were stood in front of him now. How had he missed them?
The buzzing faded to lightheadedness. It was like cotton had settled inside him, dulling everything. It wasn’t acceptance. It wasn’t fear anymore.
“Where is the accused?” Blue Diamond asked quietly looking around. Steven remembered her crying in front of the palanquin and thought that his mom had caused that pain. But she’d also kidnapped his dad and that pity was dulled to almost nonexistence.
Yellow Diamond turned to look at Steven, her yellow eyes narrowing in hate as she realized he was there. “Is that Rose Quartz?! We should shatter her just for looking like that!” Yellow Diamond towered over Steven and the young boy realized if she wanted to Yellow Diamond could just squish him with her finger. It was a sobering thought that made Steven shiver.
“No. I want her to make her case. I want to know what she thinks we’re going to do to her because I want to do something worse.” Blue Diamond’s voice was cold and vicious, eyes narrowed as she also looked at Steven. It was a look that promised torture and murder.
Lars was alive. Lars was also having a panic attack in a bubble as Green Zircon spoke about how Rose Quartz had betrayed her own kind for an ‘loud, inefficient organic’ which was unfair because what did that have to do with anything? Lars wasn’t even born when Pink Diamond was shattered. But that argument wasn’t going to help him so he just tried to stay silent, staring at the floor.
Eyeball’s address to the court had been even worse. Steven had been so happy that Eyeball had been ok, but she’d just yelled at him and called him a war criminal. It wasn’t fair. None of this was fair. It wasn’t his fault his mom had committed a lot of crimes. He didn’t even remember them. Why should Steven be punished for something she had done?!
Anger suddenly bubbled in his belly. Why was Steven the one who kept getting punished?! He wasn’t Rose Quartz! He was a Rose Quartz! He had never even known his mom and by now he didn’t want to. He was going to die because she’d ran away from her problems and had him. Had she known the Diamonds were still trying to destroy the Earth? Would she have even cared?
“Well I’m convinced, Let’s execute!” Yellow Diamond clapped smiling. In an odd way Yellow Diamond was beautiful when she smiled. It was like her entire face changed, becoming warmer.
This was all lost on the fourteen-year-old having a crisis in a triangle hole in the ground.
“Not yet, the defense has yet to speak.”
Blue Zircon tried. She tried so hard. Steven pitied her as she stammered because she didn’t have a case. He may be a Rose Quartz, but his mom had been the Rose Quartz that had shattered Pink Diamond and his mom wasn’t here. She was never here. She’d left Steven without a care and it still hurt, like ice resting in his heart. He didn’t even know who Pink Diamond was.
Jasper had cared about her so she could have been nice. But she’d been invading the Earth and that made her horrible like the other Diamonds. Pink Diamond could have been a heartless monster, stealing humans from their families and placing them in the zoo against their will. He would never know.
“I DID IT!” He yelled in frustration. Why draw this out? He wasn’t leaving Homeworld alive. His mom had left him this legacy and he was paying for it.
“Don’t say that!” Blue Zircon was juggling screens as she protested. Steven stood, if he was going to die he was going to die on his feet. These gems had taken his Dad, hurt his friends and threatened his Planet. It wasn’t a fight he could hope to win, but he couldn’t let himself cower.
He was just as much a part of this war now. His mom had made sure of that.
“No, I want to hear what she has to say.” Blue Diamond waved her hand and the floor moved. Light shone down on him as he rose and he fell to his knees, his defiance cut short as he lost his balance. He couldn’t even do that right. When it stopped he was still lower then them. He was still fully aware of how short he was and the helplessness was suddenly so much worse because the Crystal Gems had fought them and failed. What was he meant to do? “Well? Speak.” Blue’s voice shook as she spoke. It was a moment of emotional vulnerability that she didn’t notice.
“State your name for the record please.” A nasally voice said from somewhere. Was it one of the Pearls he’d seen at the beginning?
“I’m…” Steven paused. He wasn’t his mom.
His hand gripped his t shirt as he stammered.
Why should he suffer for his mom’s actions? Why was he always being punished because of her?
“Get on with it!” Yellow Diamond yelled leaning forward. Her eyes were wide, the black diamond iris staring at him.
“…My mom was Rose Quartz.” His voice was small as he lifted his t shirt. Blue Diamond leant forward sharply to look at the gem. “I’m Steven. I guess I’m also a Rose Quartz. But I’m not my mom. I don’t even have her memories. And everyone says my mom shattered Pink Diamond so I guess I did it since I have her gem. I don’t know what happened even though everyone tells me it did.” It was complicated but he was tired from trying to work it out. He was Rose Quartz until he wanted answers. Then he was Steven. And Steven was so tired of everything.
“…That gem.” Blue whispered, eyes wide.
In another world Steven had shown it in defiance as he confessed and everyone would have just passed a glance at it before wanting to know how he’d killed a Diamond. In another world Blue was distracted by her grief, her desperation for answers clouding her vision.
In this world Blue Diamond, who had sat in a room filled with bubbled Rose Quartz gems for thousands of years and stared at them until Yellow Diamond arrived to drag her away, noticed something she should have seen before. The gem was too light to be a Rose Quartz. The gem was too clear. It shined too brightly, the light catching it perfectly.
But she remembered a gem similar, a gem that haunted her memories. She saw it when she cried. She knew that gem.
“I know this gem.” She reached out and grabbed Steven, eyes haunted as she brought him closer. Her thumb kept the t shirt from blocking the gem from sight as the human struggled desperately. From her right, Yellow watched her angrily. But Blue Diamond just stared, moving a finger to touch the pink gem lightly. Steven shivered.
“Blue.” Yellow hissed sharply. Below, the Pearls had stopped their work, watching wide eyed. Even the Zircons had frozen. This wasn’t normal. This was unprecedented and no one knew what to do.
“Yellow. Look.” Blue held out Steven to Yellow, keeping the gem visible because Steven was now trying to hide it from sight. He hadn’t meant for this, he’d wanted… he didn’t even know what he’d wanted any more. It had been obvious they weren’t going to just let him go but he guessed he’d wanted them to at least listen.
If he was going to die, let him die as Steven Universe. Not as his mom.
“What am I looking at… Blue…” Whatever Blue Diamond had seen, Yellow must have seen it to because she summoned a screen and held it in front of Steven after swiping at it furiously. Steven was forced to look at a picture of his mom, sword stabbing a gem on a battle field covered in gems. He’d known she’d fought but he’d never seen a picture of it. He’d never wanted to see her like that.
She looked like a monster.
“You have her gem?” Yellow pointed sharply. “Hers?” Her finger almost went through the screen with the force of her pointing.
The hand he was stood on was shaking. Steven looked back to see tears. Hope and dread mixed in Blue Diamond’s eyes. It made no sense; the anger was gone. Why was this happening.
“Yeah, that’s my mom.” Steven pointed at Rose Quartz. Yellow Diamond took back the screen and brought up another picture, pausing before showing him. Steven didn’t know this gem, with pink fluffy hair in what looked like a pink dress. Her skin was a pale pink and on her navel…
Steven’s hands flew to his gem, suddenly short of breath.
Pink Diamond. She was smiling and it was a smile he’d seen before. It was the one his mom wore in the picture above the door. Small and beautiful. But the gem was upside down, looking nothing like Blue and Yellows. And then he realized he was being watched like a hawk. Yellow was waiting for him to do something. So Steven looked closer. It was something to do with the gem, everyone was focusing on his gem.
But he didn’t see it. It was another gem to Steven’s untrained eyes.
And then Yellow said “Poof her.” She was shaken. Something had shaken Yellow Diamond to the core.
“Yellow!” Blue’s fist closed protectively around Steven, stopping his fall as she jumped up in anger.
“If she’s Rose Quartz, her gem will be a Rose Quartz. Then we can continue this trial. And if she isn’t…” Yellow trailed off and stared at the picture. Her eyes were distant, mouth a small frown. “We’ll know.”
Steven felt the scream building in his throat when Blue Diamond’s hand tightened hesitantly and then with purpose. He felt himself being crushed and it hurt so much. It was the most painful thing he’d ever felt. He swore he could hear his bones crunching as he was forced to curl into himself. The scream breaks inside his lips as he is overwhelmed.
And then he was gone, pain vanishing as the world collapses around him.
He was in a room of white. He was aware and yet not. In the distance he heard screams but it was like hearing through water. Looking down he was naked and he was staring at his gem. The gem he loved and hated. Unable to hide it away he was fully aware of it now. How it shone in the light, sparkling as he moves. And he was aware of… something. Curiously he ran his fingers through his hair and the hair followed his fingers, curling like waves until it hung around his neck.
He pictured his clothes and he was dressed, but the t shirt doesn’t hide the gem. There’s a hole over it, the t shirt tight on his skin instead of loose.
Then he remembered that girl in the photo. Curious, he pictured the outfit or at least something he’d feel comfortable in. If he was right it would appear and appear it did. It wasn’t like the one in the photo, but a long pink t shirt and darker pink trousers with a piece of fabric hanging from the belt. No matter what he tried though, he couldn’t cover the gem so he just left a hole in the shape of a star around it. He’d been poofed Steven realized, he supposed it should have been obvious he could. Fusion would be impossible if he couldn’t change his form. So he was currently light?
His fingers found his gem, clothes forgotten.
He wondered how Garnet would react. He remembered her discovering he could fuse, her smile wide as she stared at him. That night they’d had a celebration meal with waffles, strawberries, bacon and cream. They’d all sat around the table and laughed as they discussed Stevonnie and how amazing it had felt. He missed that bravery, that time when everything was simple. He still loved his mom without the bitterness in his mind.
Could he move his gem? If he was light he should be able to.
But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. It was the only familiar thing around him right now. He left it on his bellybutton and instead focused on his hair. It had curled out when he’d made it longer, somehow defying gravity in how it seemed to float. He thought of Pink Diamond and cut the hair bitterly so it was slightly longer than it had been originally. He liked the slight curl he now had.
Then he considered the outfit. Why pink? Why was he pulled towards pink clothing? His moms dress was white but he felt better in pink. It was right. Natural. And it was scary because now he was poofed he could feel something in his head trying to pull him into certain decisions, especially color choices. So the pink stayed and he was stood in this shell of an outfit without any shoes because it just didn’t seem important. Then he gave himself a pink version of his sandals. Then he removed them again. He wanted something that wasn’t pink so he made them white. The pulling seemed to accept this.
Steven had no idea what he was meant to do now. Pearl had stayed poofed for days when she’d been stabbed by the Training Pearl. So did Steven choose to wake up?
The thought of waking up was like being thrown into space. The weightlessness was suddenly confining and then he was solid again. And he was still in the pink outfit which was annoying because Steven would need to poof again to change it. But he was awake and alive
And no longer being crushed to death, air leaving his lungs as he struggles to breathe through broken screams
And above him someone is sobbing brokenly and to his side Lars is screaming. Steven looks at Lars and realizes he’s still in the courtroom. It takes a few minutes to take a step forward, still adjusting to a physical body.
The Zircons are stood in front of him.
The Zircons have crossed their arms in a diamond shape.
The sobbing has become louder.
“My Diamond.” They intone looking at Steven.
His gem is still a Rose Quartz. He checks, the gem visible through the star shaped hole he’d left. Surely they know he’s a Rose Quartz? “Am I still on trial?” His voice is harsh, like he hasn’t spoken in weeks when it feels like minutes. As an afterthought, he breathes slowly. It feels different. Like air through rock.
Lars is backing away from Steven, eyes wide in terror. He should reassure Lars, he steps forward to do so. But he doesn’t have the words. He’d died, he’s certain he did. But the memory is a distant dream, disappearing through fingers.
“Y… Your eyes…!” Lars screams, voice shrill in the bubble around his head.
Steven can’t see them. He touches his fingers to rest under his eye and blinks slowly. They feel the same. He didn’t change his eyes in the ball of light that had been his gem.
He wants Pearl. It feels like he hasn’t seen her in years. He wants a hug and a drink of cocoa and he wants to go to bed and nap. He wants his family. His dad. Connie. He wants Earth. If he gets home, he’ll never leave again. He’ll listen to Pearl and just stay in Beach City obediently. A sob breaks through his lips, tears leaving his eyes. Wiping his eyes makes the burning worse as he sobs.
“Oh Pink.” Blue breathes. Her hand picks him up and he’s still small in her hands. He’s still sobbing brokenly as she runs a finger through his hair. Lars is still yelling, now at Blue. Yellow is gone and that scares him. Where is she? Why would Yellow just leave? “What have you done?”
He doesn’t know. He’s a Rose Quartz but he’s being saluted as a Diamond. Blue Diamond appears to be comforting him, her finger big enough to cover his entire head. And she’s still calling him Pink as she whispers reassurances. Not Rose Quartz. So he sobs on his enemy’s hand, trying to wipe the tears away desperately even when he knows it isn’t going to work. He looks as small as he feels, in an outfit that feels wrong on him but he can’t change them like he could in the light room.
Blue hasn’t killed him yet though. He wonders when she’s going to shatter him. The waiting is the worst part, when the mere patting on his head shows the sheer strength she wields. Instead she pets him quietly. Eventually Lars’ screams stop and Steven breaks out of his daze in a panic, jumping off the hand to save him. He summons his bubble as he falls, desperate to save Lars because this is all his fault. Steven brought Homeworld to Earth, gave out Lars' name without a second thought. He couldn't bear it if Lars was hurt.
He bounces in his bubble but Lars is gone back to wherever they’d held him before. The Zircons cower in front of him like they're worried about his reaction, but Steven just stares at where Lars had been trapped. Blue doesn’t try to re-catch him, just stands and stares at him, he doesn’t recognize the look. It’s not sadness anymore. It’s not joy or fear. She just stares and Steven stares back, feeling like he’s hurt her without even trying. “What did you do to me?” He whispers. But it wasn’t Blue Diamond.
It was his mom. Whoever she was. He doesn’t understand. He feels like he should, like a puzzle itself in his head but something is stopping the final pieces fitting together. It could be denial. It could be that he knows but doesn’t want to acknowledge his moms final lie. He doesn’t want it to be that though, because that means…
That he never knew her. That everything he thought he knew was a lie.
“Are you ok my Luminous, Radiant Diamond?” Green Zircon asks, standing next to him. She doesn’t touch him, just stands perfectly with her arms in her salute. She’s calling Steven a Diamond. Her eyes are staring nervously at Steven’s eyes. Blue Diamond still hasn’t moved. No one is moving.
Steven swallows bitterly. He’s alone on Homeworld. His friend is being held captive. Steven is still a captive.
“I want to go home.”
“Oh Pink, you are home.”
He understands and he doesn’t. He touches his eyes again. Were they pink now? They felt the same. Why would poofing suddenly change them unless his mom had ignored the nudging in a way Steven had missed.
“I want my friends.” Blue is smiling fondly now, like she recognizes something he doesn’t. “I… I want…” He wants to go back to when everything made sense. Before he was taken. Before he ever heard about Pink Diamond. “I want to go back to Earth.” The smile is gone in a flash of cold fury.
Her eyes harden, taking a step as she leans forward. Steven shrinks in on himself.
“You will never return to that wretched planet. You’re home now Pink, we can’t lose you again.” The final words are a plea for… something. Her hands reach for him before falling. Steven doesn’t care. She doesn’t pick him up again, continuing to tower over him as she speaks. “We’ll keep you safe.” A promise or a threat? “You never have to worry about that failed colony ever again.” She’s smiling again, faint and brittle. Maybe she’s trapped in a memory, Blue Diamond appears to do that a lot. But it’s clear whatever they intend to do to him, they don’t intend to let Steven leave. No one’s explaining anything to Steven and it isn’t fair. This time he doesn’t even know part of what him mom did to cause this.
He’s still on Homeworld. Lars is still missing. Steven doesn’t have his clothes now. And apparently, Steven doesn’t even have his eyes.
“You’ll need a new Pearl of course.” Blue Diamond is still talking, her voice light again. Her mood swings are awful and swift. “Yellow has gone to tell White so we’ll be able to fix that soon.” She looks excited and that just makes this situation feel worse.
Steven still has no answers. He has more questions instead.
“We’ve missed you so much Pink.” Her voice is watery and Steven’s eyes fill with tears like on that day in Korea where he cried her tears.
He wishes he’d listened to Pearl and Garnet.
He wishes he could talk to his mom. He just wants to understand.
“And Pink? I’m so sorry for ignoring you before.” When he was distracted Blue had gently placed her finger tip under his chin and tilted his head back until he was looking at her.
When he looks at Blue Diamond he remembers how he felt watching his Dad carried away screaming. How broken and helpless he felt. And he thinks of his Dad feeling like that when he realizes Steven isn’t coming home.
Hopelessness claws at him, dragging him into despair. But he’s still in the court room with gems who keep calling him Pink and he still doesn’t understand. But he does, because it means once again his mom lied to him. Like how she keeps lying, even after leaving him.
On his belly his gem shines, cold like the diamond on Blue’s chest.