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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.

“I’m…”

Why should he suffer for his mom’s actions? Why was he always being punished because of her?

“I’m…”

“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.

Oh.

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.

Chapter Text

Pink had become silent as Blue cradled the young Diamond in her hands. Blue Diamond ran a finger over her hair again, trying to cheer her up but the small figure just sat forlorn, holding her knees to her chest. It wasn’t meant to be like this. Pink was still alive so this was meant to be a happy time. The first time in thousands of years Blue could tell herself she hadn’t led the youngest diamond to her death and actually believe it. But now Pink just looked miserable and it wasn’t right.

Pink had been a loud burst of energy, always eager to please and be seen.

As if she’d heard that thought, Pink just curled up a bit more and shivered not trying to escape the petting. Blue didn’t know what she could do. It was too early to take her to the zoo, an act that would leave Pink happy for weeks before when she’d started her first colonization and, although she would never admit it, had struggled to adjust to no longer being around Blue and Yellow. Blue had often thought that was part of the reason Pink had latched onto the organics so quickly.

Pearl walked behind her, quiet and loyal as always as Blue Diamond walked towards Pink’s quarters. All Diamonds had their own personal areas, it was a necessity when they needed time on their own without any gems fawning over them. Blue had protected the room from Yellow’s warpath of destruction allowing it to remain as it had before Pink had left. Quietly, she noted it would need to be adjusted for Pink’s new height. “Pearl, prepare to summon an Iolite when we’re finished here.” Blue’s voice was calm and level, a necessity when in public. It would never do to be seen as vulnerable. A Diamond’s role was to rule.

They needed to prepare a gala to celebrate the return of their Diamond. She would need to summon a Tourmaline when Pink was ready to be seen in public as a leader. There was also the problem of Pink’s Court. Her original gems had been spread out between the remaining Diamonds after her… shattering. It would be inappropriate to retrieve the gems from Yellow and White’s courts without a word, they were spread to far in other colonization efforts. But Pink would need a guard. Agates. Sapphires. Rubies. Quartzes. She would definitely need a Pearl. Blue wouldn’t allow her to be injured again.

A terrified squeak made her realize that she’d curled her hands around Pink again. A glance showed Pinks face had become a slightly whiter shade of pink. Odd, had Pink been able to do that before?

She should let Pink walk. She was a Diamond and it was inappropriate to do treat her differently from her role. But Blue needed to feel her. She’d prefer Pink spoke, even if it was in the new voice, but just the feeling of the weight in her hands grounded her.

“Let’s execute.” Yellow said, voice light as she smiled.

Pink had almost been shattered again. And Blue would have been happy about it. She still remembered the shards sparkling in the light, horrifying in their finality. And it had been Blue Diamonds fault. She had told Pink to continue the colonization despite the rebellion. Reassured her everything would be fine. That all she had to do was smile and everything would be fine. Blue had sworn she would never forgive herself as she’d looked at those shards. Yellow had just stared at them wordlessly, hands clasped tightly in front of her. Blue still remembered wanting Yellow to do something but Yellow had never so much as shed a tear. Merely looking at her Pearl and ordering her to summon a fleet.

But Pink was safe now. Sad, true. But when she adjusted she would be happy again. Maybe she needed more humans? Or just some time to herself. She had said she no longer had her memories. Blue could leave her Pearl to look after Pink so she wouldn’t be alone. Pearl had loyally served her since her emergence, so she would be able to do her job well while Blue could arrange everything that needed to be done. It was unorthodox to lend out a Pearl but everything about this situation was.

Pink was still quiet.

She hadn’t spoken since the court room when she’d demanded too return to Earth. Like she had actually thought Blue would let her return to where she was shattered. Palanquins could be replaced. While colonies were vital to Homeworld, Earth was not. Pink could have a new colony in a completely different system (preferably somewhere near where Blue was stationed) when she was ready. She could have a new court when she was ready. But Blue would not let her return to that dreadful planet while she had a choice.

Pink would need a new palanquin, she’d have to order a new one made.

When Blue stopped the stroking Pink finally looked up, pink eyes confused. It was like looking at a distant memory, seeing those pink eyes with the diamond pupils. Before the shattering Blue had never paid them any thought. There was no need to. But now Pink was back and Blue just kept looking at them. It was just another sign that Pink was still whole and it made her feel happy even if Pink was still acting like this was the worst thing to happen to her.

Maybe if Blue discussed the plans with her Pink would as if she was being listened too. Pink had always liked to be included, if it was planning a new colony or the latest updates from a Kindergarten.

Reaching the familiar pink door, she paused for Pearl to open it and then continued walking. The room was bright, with a window over looking the upper areas of Homeworld, the familiar purple sky visible above gleaming white buildings. Behind her Pearl closed the door and stood to the side, ready to be summoned if needed. Wide and open, the room was a pale pink. On the wall was a mirror, small for a diamond of Blue’s size with decorative lines running along the sides. It had been made specifically for Pink by an Iolite ordered to design Pinks area and Pink had loved it. Blue walked over to the window and sat on the window seat, placing Pink gently on a cushion next to her. Pink didn’t move, just watching her.

She sat back. This room was one of the few places left that were still Pink’s. Earth was soon to be destroyed and Yellow had started to lose patience with Blue’s visits to the Zoo. But Blue could sit in here and just remember. Some memories weren’t pleasant, Pink’s numerous fits of immaturity had left enough marks on these walls which had since been repaired, but some still warmed her. Walking in on Pink attempts at practicing posture was a personal favorite. Pink had been so flustered when she’d noticed Blue.

“This was Pink Diamond’s room… wasn’t it?” Pink asked.

Was her memory returning? Would it ever return? Would Pink ever acknowledge she was a Diamond?

“Yes Pink, this was yours.” She let the smile form, watching as Pink uncurled and look around wide eyed. Her eyes stayed on the window for a few moments, widening in… fear?... before she turned to stare at the room. She moved to stand and fumbled, not noticing she’d been sat on her skirt until it stopped her standing. Blue pretended not to notice, suddenly finding the mural on a nearby wall particularly fascinating as Pink righted herself and stood properly. Pink hated when she made such a mistake, a Diamond always carried herself with grace.

“I…” Pink trailed off instead looking out the window again. There was no familiarity in those eyes.

“Pink.” Pink looked at her and Blue turned, looking at the young diamond. “I know this is hard for you. If you have any questions, please remember to ask.”

Blue had been the one to teach Pink about court matters, about how to hold herself. About the importance of concealing your emotions when in public. A Diamond did not cry or throw items in a temper tantrum in public (Thankfully Pink had outgrown that very quickly). Pink would need to relearn these lessons.

“…My mom was a Diamond, wasn’t she?” Her voice was quiet. Blue frowned unsure how to answer. What was a ‘mom’? She’d mentioned one in the trial but had never expanded on what it was. “My mom wasn’t Rose Quartz. She… she lied to me.” Her voice broke as she began to sniffle again. Blue waited politely as Pink stopped the tears, resting her hands on her knees. The window seat was designed for someone of Pink’s size so it was difficult for Blue to sit properly on it. She then waited for Pink to keep talking but she just sat silently again.

But it raised a point Blue was quite happy to ignore for now. That Pink had disguised herself as a Quartz and went to war. Instead of leading safely from the Moon Base, Pink had somehow led a rebellion against her fellow Diamonds, dragged out the war for hundreds of years without being discovered and then… she must have faked her own shattering. What had driven Pink to such extremes instead of talking to Blue? What had Blue done wrong? Since Pink’s gem was still in one piece, what were the shards that the Ruby had brought to her? Shards that had been accurate enough to fake a shattered Diamond.

Blue still had questions, but not even Pink herself was able to answer them now. Instead she just sat next to Pink in hopes that she would start talking again.

And this was what stopped this being a truly wonderous moment. Pink had changed. Not just appearance wise, that had been obvious from the moment she’d reformed, but personality wise as well. This was not all bad, Pink had yet to start screaming demands (something she’d done less since claiming the Earth) but she hadn’t really spoken either. The silence stretched awkwardly between them. And Pink was still sad. It wasn’t like the sadness towards the end of Pinks life, where she held herself in determination and appeared to demand respect like a true Diamond. It was a fragile silence where Pink seemed ready to cry at any moment. Where she seemed to guard her words and feelings from all around her.

Blue stood quietly, biting back a sigh. She would much rather stay with Pink but it was clear Pink needed to be left to think. She would discuss future plans with Pink after she’d settled and things were clearer for all involved. “Pearl, stay with Pink until my return.”

“Yes, my Diamond.” Pearl bowed low, if she didn’t like this order it didn’t show on her face.

Blue didn’t want to risk Pink trying to leave on her own. Even though the war had ended Blue still wanted to reassure herself that Pink would be safe. And until Pink had at least one Quartz or Ruby with her and one Sapphire guiding her Blue would never truly feel comfortable leaving her presence. Unfortunately, Yellow had lost the Jasper from Pinks personal guard on Earth so one of the easy options was no longer available. But maybe Pink’s Amethysts from the Zoo would work.

She looked at Pink, still staring from the pillow. The Pink eyes appeared to accuse her of abandonment again. Blue averted her gaze. “Pink, I’m sorry but I need to go.” She placed her finger under Pink’s chin in a sign of reassurance. “I’ll come back soon.” She promised gently. She resisted the urge to pick up Pink again and instead left. White would have been informed by now so Blue merely had to arrange everything with the appropriate gems.

She still had to summon the Iolite. She would also have to discuss the Cluster with Yellow.

That conversation would not go well.

Chapter Text

Pearl was troubled, her Diamond wasn’t moving. Well, not hers but her Diamond had entrusted her into Pink Diamonds care. So for now, her Diamond. Pearl waited for her Diamond to come down from the seat patiently. she was used to waiting for her true Diamond, Blue Diamond that is, to return to her from her sadness. Pearl frowned, she wasn’t sure what to refer to her current Diamond as.

As a Diamond, she should use ‘my Diamond’. But she didn’t appear to like being called a Diamond. Pearl was certainly not going to call her a Quartz. The disrespect would be enough that Pearl would have to shatter herself, preferably before her true Diamond did. A shuffling pulled her out of her thoughts and she looked up in time to see her Diamond float down from her hiding spot on the chair and land gently. She smiled when her Diamond looked at her as if only just noticing her presence.

Her Diamond seemed to freeze before turning to look around the room. Pearl stood back, waiting for her Diamond to need her. The young Diamond seemed content to wonder randomly however, until she reached the mirror. A hand once again rose to her eyes as the Diamond stared. “My eyes…” She whispered. “How?”

“My Diamond?” Pearl decided she would use proper titles until ordered otherwise. Anything else would be improper.

“I look…” Pearl considered her from behind her bangs. She looked like a Diamond. Proud and powerful, a matriarch of Homeworld and leader of Gems. She needed a few centuries before she’d be truly powerful, but her other Diamonds would help her as they had before. Pearl kept her thoughts to herself.

Her Diamond pulled at her clothing as if in a cold daze before focusing again on her appearance. She appeared to be confused by her eyes, which was odd. Surely her Diamond had seen her own eyes before? Her Diamond pulled her hand away from her cheek, her fingers wet once more.

Her Diamond had started crying.

Pearl considered the best way to cheer her up. Singing had always helped her true Diamond when she’d entered this state. Pearl allowed herself a moment of relief that her current Diamond wasn’t making Pearl cry as well, it made her duties so much more difficult to perform. She walked forward gracefully, leaving her position near the door and stopped a respectful distance from her Diamond.

When she was noticed, Pearl bowed low and waited for an order. A song perhaps? Or a dance? She was trained in all forms of entertainment for her Diamonds sake. It was always difficult to dance without music but as a Diamonds Pearl she would manage.

Her Diamond took her in an odd hold, wrapping her arms around Pearl’s shoulders and shaking. Pearl felt her shoulder becoming wet as she held the odd position, her Diamond was too short to allow her to stand properly. Instead Pearl balanced, if this was what her Diamond needed she would wait.

“I look…” Her Diamond made an odd choking noise as she spoke into Pearls shoulder. “My eyes…”

Pearl considered carefully before patting her Diamonds back. It seemed to help, the shaking dying off until her Diamond let go slowly. “I’m sorry.” Her Diamond whispered quietly as she wiped her eyes. Pearl made sure to keep her face even, what was her Diamond sorry for? Her true Diamond had placed Pearl into her care and Pearl was here to do whatever she needed. If all her Diamond needed her to do was to be held as her Diamond cried, Pearl was happy to stand still and offer comfort.

Her Diamond must never have had a pearl before. She felt pity swell in her despite how inappropriate it was.

“Is there anything else my Diamond needs?” Pearl clasped her hands in front of her as she spoke, resisting every urge to wipe her shoulder until her Diamond had turned away. Her Diamond seemed to pause, looking at the door. Her true Diamond hadn’t ordered Pearl to keep her current Diamond here so Pearl wasn’t sure why her Diamond hesitated. If she wished to leave, she could.

Pearl walked over to the door and opened it, bowing to allow her Diamond to leave. Her Diamond didn’t move, which made Pearl feel uncertain. Had she misjudged her Diamonds wishes? It had been many centuries since she’d made such a misstep.

“You’re letting me leave?” Her Diamond’s voice was laced with confusion.

Letting? How badly had her Diamond been treated that she didn’t understand such a simple concept? Her Diamond was a Diamond, if it was her will that she leaves the room all she had to do was walk out. If it was her will a gem be shattered, all she had to do was give the order. No action or wish was beyond her Diamond.

“If it is my Diamond’s will.” Pearl settled on. Her Diamonds sentence had made Pearl panic, because how could her Diamond lead if she felt unworthy of such a deed? How could her Diamond not… Pearl stood and looked at the Diamond. Her Diamond needed her and Pearl would offer whatever help was needed.

A Pearl letting a Diamond leave a room. Such an idea shouldn’t even be considered.

Her Diamond walked towards her slowly, as if Pearl would change her mind and Pearl remained still, certain a single movement would break the moment and spook the Diamond. Her Diamond needed to understand she had control if she would just order it. Another pause and her Diamond left the room, Pearl closing her door behind her and following swiftly.

This entire building belonged to Pink Diamond. Before her… shattering (Pearl shuddered at the very thought of the word) it had housed not just the Diamond, but her personal guard and Pearl. It was as grand as it needed to be, the Bismuth who had designed it had been particularly renowned at the time. Now it stood empty, defended from destruction by her true Diamond. It was a thought of pride, that her Diamond had had the foresight to defend everything that had been Pink Diamond’s. And now Pearl was serving her until she had her own personal pearl again.

Her Diamond was staring at the intricate designs on the walls. Sweeping lines formed intricate patterns, forming borders around murals of stars and planets before attempting to continue on to make new designs. Her Diamond frequently paused to stare at the murals, pink eyes wide in wonder as she reached to touch but always stopping herself. Such self-control would have been welcomed… before… but now it just reminded Pearl how badly her Diamond had been treated before her arrival back on Homeworld. It was odd, Pink Diamond disguised as Rose Quartz had been a leader of the rebellion, since she had survived the war she should have been with the remains of the Crystal Gems (may they be forever dulled into obscurity). She should be more assertive, a leader.

She shouldn’t be cowering at the thought of touching a wall. Maybe it was linked to why she’d lost her memories.

Her Diamond paused at a door, trying to open it by smacking the panel into submission without Pearl noticing. Well, somethings never changed at least. Pearl stepped forward and opened the door quietly, watching from the corner of her eyes as her Diamond seemed shocked at Pearls willingness to obey.

Whoever had trained her Diamond deserved to be shattered. They clearly had no idea what they were doing, dulling her glow until she was afraid of all around her. Or, maybe it was on purpose. Maybe it had been a plan in the war to remove the other Diamonds and place her Diamond in charge, ruled by her oppressors from the shadows. A plan that must have failed when they realized the true might of the Diamonds. Pearl waved such thoughts from her mind and bowed as her Diamond passed by. Whatever they’d been planning, her true Diamond would have stopped it. Pearl was certain.

The room was lined with Gem shaped holes, now empty. Before it would have held the Amethysts of Pink’s guard, always close in case they were needed. Her Diamond just looked on in confusion, unsure of what to do. Or maybe she was unsure what this room was. Pearl doubted the rebels had even built a proper barracks for its troops. (Maybe they’d lived in the dirt, far away from the opulence of Homeworld.)

“What is this place?” Her Diamond asked, once again reaching to touch a panel on the wall and stopping. Pearl walked over and touched the panel, turning on the lights. Pearl began to explain slowly, using the panel to bring up details of the previous guards. The screen meant nothing to her Diamond unfortunately, but she appeared to understand it was a list of the guards at least just by looking at the pictures. Her Diamond appeared to recognize the picture of the Jasper who she’d once led but remained silent as Pearl changed the page.

Pearl wished her Diamond would make her wishes clearer. How could she serve effectively if her Diamond wouldn’t let her know what was needed?

The rest of the tour was quicker. Training rooms were self-explanatory as were observation rooms. She kept her Diamond away from the warp pad room, worried her Diamond might try to leave the building against her true Diamonds wishes. She was worried her Diamond would return to the rebels.

The thought was horrible, a reminder of the hold they still held over her Diamond. But they would return her to her true radiance, and her true Diamond would finally forgive herself after these many long years. It would be a welcome change after all this time, something for Homeworld and its matriarchs to celebrate. It was after this thought she realized her Diamond had slowed enough to be walking next to Pearl, hands twisting nervously at her sides. Pearl slowed so she was a couple of steps behind again.

“Oh…” Her Diamond muttered sadly stopping entirely.

“A Pearl always walks behind her owner. It is a sign of respect.” Pearl had also stopped, keeping the distance.

“But I don’t mind! Pearl always walked with me!” And her Diamond sounded so innocent in that declaration, like it made everything ok when all it did was make everything so much worse.

So she’d had a Pearl. One who did not understand her role on Homeworld and had trained her Diamond to be without any proper self-respect or understanding. One who had looked to stand above her station. Pearl’s work was going to be much harder then she’d realized. She’d have to teach her Diamond before the new Pearl arrived or she too would act shamefully. Like the rebel Pearl from the previous war, a shame on her entire cut. She frowned.

“My Diamond is of a higher status then me.” Pearl wondered if that was enough of a proper explanation. It should be, it was an honor to merely be in the same room as a Diamond. None but other Diamonds were worthy of walking with her. But she doubted it would be enough, the other Pearl had filled her Diamond’s head with lies and nonsense. And indeed, her Diamond looked ready to disagree, in fact she looked angry. “I have my place, I obey my Diamond. I assist her in her day to day duties of running her colonies to ensure she can focus on whatever is important. My Diamond runs many colonies, organizing her gems as need be so everything runs as effectively as possible. A Sapphire advises on what actions are best based on what may come to be. An Iolite assists Bismuths in their building so the Bismuths are not distracted with little details such as furnishings. We all have a purpose and we are all happy to keep our colonies, our courts and our Homeworld running efficiently and safely.”

Her Diamond was actually listening, eyes wide. Had this not been explained to her by the rebels? Of course not. They had fed her deceit to weaken her, it was the only effective way to keep a Diamond docile.

“We are all cogs, even our Diamonds. While we are many, we must all work together to keep things working smoothly. Where would we be without a Diamond to lead us? Where would a Diamond be without her Pearl to assist? She would keep things working effectively but it would not be as efficient, a day’s work now taking three. Where would we be without a Peridot to keep machines and Kindergartens working? Would the gems be made as quickly or the resources used as effectively?”

“I…” Her Diamond looked stricken, which was not what Pearl wanted. She merely wished for her to understand what should have been taught to her centuries ago.

“And one day, you too will lead Homeworld alongside your fellow Diamonds. Your court shall help colonize planets and they in turn will also keep Homeworld running.” Her Diamond needed to understand her role.

“But I don’t want to colonize! I want to go home!” Her Diamond yelled, foot stamping on the ground. Pearl remained passive, what she was doing went against her every instinct as a Pearl but it was necessary. She must understand, Earth was not a home. It had been a prison holding her down.

“My Diamond is home. And she will do her role on Homeworld as her fellow Diamonds do. You will lead, we will obey.” She wished her Diamond would understand and appreciate that the finality of the statements was not scary, but reassuring. Everyone had a role and everyone followed them. Everyone knew their place. “My Diamond may not understand now, but one day she will.” It was a lesson all gems knew from the moment they emerged. The lesson their society was founded on. The lessons the rebels had thrown away and had denied her Diamond.

“Stop calling me that!” Her Diamond screamed, eyes wide with fury. For a moment Pearl feared she would attack but her Diamond just kept yelling. A healthy release of negative emotions, she noted with a mental nod of approval. “I’m not a Diamond! My mom wasn’t a Diamond! My name is Steven!” The yell was desperate, an attempt to deny everything she’d been told. Pearl ignored the unknown word, it wasn’t needed.

“My Diamond?” Pearl kept watching, waiting for her Diamond to react. She should stop, but she needed to know. Needed to inform her true Diamond of what she’d learned.

“Call me Steven! My name is Steven!”

“My Steven.” She nodded. It was an odd title but she would obey.

“NO! Not like that! Not like it’s a title! Like I’m…” She choked again and stopped. Pearl could see the battle of emotions in her Diamonds eyes, the desperation to deny and the fear to accept the truth.

“I saw my Diamonds gem.” Pearl watched, still not moving. Behind her bangs her eyes hardened. Her Diamond whimpered holding her gem tightly. “I saw the shape, I saw my Diamonds reactions. You are a Diamond and you will lead us.”

To Pearl it was that simple. A Diamond was a leader of gems. They were perfection. They were strong. Logical. Intelligent. Radiant. A Diamond was made to lead the colonies to success and all other gems were made to assist. Her Diamond was made to command and although she had lost her way, one day she would join the web that helped keep Homeworld running.

But her Diamond needed to learn. And a Pearl was whatever her Diamond needed her to be, including a teacher. So Pearl was happy to explain until her Diamond understood, however long that would take.

“But… she was a Rose Quartz. Everyone said she was a Rose Quartz.” Her Diamond doubted her own words, just muttering the lies told to her for so long like a safety net that Pearl needed to rip away.

“You are a Diamond.” Pearl’s voice was still quiet as it had been throughout this lesson. She stood obediently, ready to do whatever her Diamond ordered. If her Diamond wished her to stop talking, all she had to do was give the order. Acknowledge her role as the leader and Pearl as her servant and make her stop.

“I’m…”

“You will lead us.”

“I…”

“And we will follow your orders. Even if it leads to our shattering, for it is our Diamonds will.”

Her Diamond flinched. It was a little more complicated then Pearl had explained, there were routines to be followed for the most part. Some orders could never be followed. But Pearl was being blunt in an attempt to make her Diamond listen. She had to understand.

“But I don’t want that.”

Was it stubbornness? Was whatever had made her lose her memories the cause? She wished she could help, her Diamond seemed troubled. But Pearl needed to be firm in ways she wasn’t with her true Diamond. It was awful, going against her every instinct and Pearl was grateful her true Diamond had placed this role on her instead of an unsuspecting Pearl new to her duties. It was always so easy to be led astray during those first few centuries.

“I don’t want to be a Diamond or… or a... I want to go home to my Dad. My friends. If… If I’m a Diamond and you all obey me, why won’t you let me go home?”

Because her Diamond wouldn’t return and Pearl would be forced to watch her true Diamond break all over again. Would Pink Diamond be that cruel? That uncaring to her entire race? Her fellow Diamonds? Maybe Pearl had pushed too fast, scaring her Diamond into lessons and questions she wasn’t ready for yet.

“Would you return?”

She already knew the answer. So did her Diamond.

And her Diamond remained silent, looking so uncertain Pearl wished she could reassure her. All Diamonds were uncertain during the beginning when first formed, as were all Pearls. It was ok to be afraid in private, so long as she was there her gems would help keep the colony running for her. Her fellow Diamonds would assist her if she asked.

But her Diamond just looked defeated, like she knew she wouldn’t get what she desperately wanted. And Pearl wished she wasn’t the one denying her. But a Pearl was whatever her Diamond needed, even when it hurt them both.

So Pearl waited for her Diamond to decide what to do, ready to obey. She was ready to answer any questions. Obey any orders. She was not prepared for her Diamond to turn and punch the corridor wall in frustration with an angry yell and storm off in the direction of the room. Pearl followed behind quietly, keeping pace with the angry steps that kept trying to speed away from her. And when they reached the living quarters they’d started at, Pearl stepped forward and opened the door despite her Diamonds attempts at doing it herself. Her Diamond stared at the room with blank eyes, face falling before she walked in with slumped shoulders.

She refused to look at Pearl who returned to her spot near the door.

Instead she walked to the mirror and looked at herself again, hands pulling at clothes as if trying to straighten them. Pearl wondered if her Diamond had become more accepting of her new form, stopped being scared of her own eyes. She couldn’t imagine how awful it must be, to look in a mirror and not recognize yourself.

But Pink Diamond had returned to her rightful throne, and Pearl would help with whatever was needed to assist her. All her Diamond had to do was ask.

Chapter Text

Steven narrowed his eyes at he stared at the mirror. He was fairly sure he’d grown a few inches, but that could just be the wishful thoughts of a child who was shorter than almost everyone around him. He ‘hmm’ed loudly, rubbing his chin as he tried to decide whether or not his height had also changed in that bubble that had been his gem. Out of all the things that could have changed against his will, his height would have been preferred. Being tall had always seemed amazing to him. Being able to reach the top of shelves, not having to climb to reach cupboards. Yeah, being tall would be great. Looking at the mirror just made him realize how short his normal height actually was on Homeworld.

“Does my Diamond want anything?” A quiet voice asked from his left. Pearl hadn’t moved from her position next to the door since they’d returned from the… walk and Steven wasn’t sure why. She didn’t seem tired from holding the same position for too long either. He put it down to her being a gem and returned to the mirror.

Yeah, being tall would have been much better than his eyes changing. His eyes were now bright pink with diamond pupils and it was freaky. Steven missed his real eyes. Then again, he missed a lot of things nowadays. He knew they weren’t his mom’s eyes now, they had just been another disguise, but it would have been a comfort. Just something he recognized. He was lucky his skin hadn’t changed, he wasn’t sure how badly he would have reacted to having pink skin. Pink hair however would have been cool though, there had always been a part of him that had wanted that. To look more like his m… Rose Quartz.

Pink Diamond.

Yeah, pink hair would have been fun. His hair was still fluffier, his once easily tamed hair now almost wild with curls. Like his m…

Like Pink Diamond’s. He wasn’t sure what to call her anymore. But he desperately wanted her to not be his mom. He wanted to keep thinking that Rose Quartz was still his mom even if it meant continuing to lie to himself. He ran a finger through his hair and watched strands catch on the finger like water on sand. It wasn’t natural how it moved, moving far too easily for normal hair. His entire body felt odd now, like something was off about it. He couldn’t feel warmth or coldness on his skin anymore. He wasn’t even feeling hungry even though he had been on Homeworld for ages. Steven was also fairly sure he was only breathing out of habit now.

He really hoped Lars was ok.

“We are all cogs, even our Diamonds.”

He flinched, hand leaving his hair. If what Pearl had said was true, he could ask for Lars and Pearl would just give Lars to him. Or at least she wouldd give Steven information about him. Steven wasn’t sure how long he’d been in the building or how long he had waited for the trial before all of this started.

He should never have handed himself over to Aquamarine. But it had been the only way to save everyone and Steven hated himself for wishing it was him that was still at home with his family. It had been him or his friends and he was certain that he had made the right choice. It was just that sometimes it was easy to regret when he looked into the mirror and saw how much he had changed. He looked at the Pearl in the room trying to decide what he should do. He was scared to ask, because she wasn’t like his Pearl at home who was always moving or cleaning. He missed his Pearls hugs and desperately he hoped he hadn’t hurt her too much when he handed himself over. He still remembered her covering her mouth in horror while she floated in the water.

He really hoped his Pearl didn’t think of him like this Pearl thought of him. Steven didn’t want to be a Diamond or a leader of a colony. He didn’t want Pearl to obey him or walk behind him because she was too afraid to get to close to him. He just wanted his family back. He wanted his mom and dad to be proud of him. He wanted a doughnut. Right now, Steven would give anything just to have a doughnut from the Big Doughnut, even though the thought of eating made him feel uneasy. It was something simple he’d probably never see again and it hurt to think about.

“My Diamond is home. And she will do her role on Homeworld as her fellow Diamonds do. You will lead, we will obey.”

“Hey Pearl.” Steven watched her perk up and wished she didn’t look so happy when he talked to her. It made it harder for him to hate her when she looked so eager to help him. “Is Lars ok?” Pearl paused before her face became thoughtful, she pulled a screen from her gem and began to type as she frowned. The screen was almost exactly like the one she’d used to draw on at the trial, shining with a beautiful blue light.

“Did you mean the organic, my Diamond?” Pearl had summoned a second screen and was working on both as she spoke. Somehow they both floated in front of her without any support and Steven wished he was actually surprised at the sight. It wasn’t any weirder than anything else he’d seen since arriving on Homeworld, even the Zircons had managed it.

“Yeah, the human.” Of course Pearl wouldn’t know Lars by name. Her words had hurt though. She hadn’t even referred to Lars as a human, just as an organic. It was just one more thing that made him remember where he was. He returned to the mirror because the changes to his appearance were the most interesting thing in the room when they weren’t horrifying him. Perhaps shapeshifting was easier for him now? But Steven couldn’t bring himself to try, he just kept staring blankly. He looked at the long pink t shirt with the hole in the shape of a star that showed his gem and the darker pink trousers with the cloth hanging off where a belt would be. And suddenly he knew why he regretted choosing this form so muc. In a way it made him look like Pink Diamond.

No, there was no denying it, he definately looked like the Diamond. Maybe that was why everyone kept calling him Pink. It was almost enough to make him consider poofing himself just to change his outfit, he could probably have made his outfit look more like his old one if he had tried hard enough when he’s been poofed last time. He considered making the outfit more familiar and less like a gem he’d never known and didn’t want to know. But the mere thought of poofing again was horryfying though, it made him remember the first time.

As he was crushed between giant hands, powerless to stop her. He could feel them closing in on him again, trying so hard to scream as his bones are broken, trying to claw at the palms to stop the inevitable

“My Diamond?”

And he was back, staring at himself in the mirror. His skin had lost all of its color as he trembled, hands clenched around his gem as his nails dug into his flesh. His pupils had grown, the black almost blocking the pink from sight. He forced himself to breathe slowly, forcing himself to calm down. Panicking wouldn’t help he reminded himself. He wasn’t there anymore. Blue Diamond wasn’t here. He was still in the same room with a Pearl who appeared to be willing to follow his every order except the one to let him go.

“I’m ok.” His voice was weak, an obvious lie. He wasn’t surprised when she didn’t seem to believe him.

Steven felt tired. Maybe he should go to bed. He didn’t know if he could still sleep, but it would be nice to curl up on the pillow again and imagine he was in his bed at home. Maybe he’d feel better if he had a nap. Or maybe he’d find himself lying on the pillow, eyes wide as he struggled to sleep while watching the shadows slowly creep over to him. Ready to crush him the moment he relaxed.

Steven had hated his nightmares when on Earth and being on Homeworld was probably going to make them worse. “But you found Lars?” He allowed the hope to enter his voice and watched Pearl relax as she realized he sounded better. Pink had liked humans so he was almost sure that the other Diamonds wouldn’t just kill him. Although Lars could have died from dehydration, gems didn’t exactly know how to look after humans.

“According to reports, the human ‘Lars’ was sent to the Human Zoo shortly after the end of the trial by Yellow Diamond.” She closed one of the screens by swiping her hand over it and looked proud. She looked so happy as she waited for Steven to ask her another question and Steven just couldn’t understand how she was so happy on Homeworld. Surely it made sense that she would be happier if she wasn’t obeying someone else? How could she be so proud when she did what Steven or Blue Diamond asked and didn’t receive so much as a thank you? He couldn’t remember ever seeing Blue Diamond thank her.

But Lars was alive and mostly safe and that was the best he could hope for until he was able to escape. He hadn’t gotten his friend killed because he couldn’t stop to think for a second when talking to Peridot.

“My Diamond, Blue Diamond has requested an Iolite to adjust your quarters for you when you are ready.” Pearl added as she checked the remaining screen. Her voice never rose above that quiet tone as she talked and with that Steven decided that bed was actually a very appealing choice just to avoid other gems fawning over him like Zircon had done for Yellow Diamond.

He should probably explain what sleeping was so she didn’t panic. Steven should explain a lot of things but he was almost certain the Diamonds wouldn’t listen if he explained that he was half human. They were so happy that Pink Diamond was back (Well, Blue was happy. Yellow appeared to be staying as far away from Steven as possible and Steven has never met White Diamond so she probably doesn’t care) that it felt cruel to tell them he wasn’t her. And he shouldn’t care, they were keeping him away from his family. He should just tell them and demand to go home since he wasn’t what they wanted. But he remembered Blue Diamond knelt next to the palanquin, still crying after thousands of years. Pink Diamond’s death had hurt her so much and Steven didn’t want to hurt her more.

But even that memory is tainted, since he also remembered his dad screaming as he was taken away by her and all Steven could do was watch from behind a bush powerless until he finally rushed forward to save him and failed, instead needing to be rescued by Garnet.

Pearl appeared to be waiting for an answer and Steven wasn’t sure what to do. He didn’t know what an Iolite was, but he was fairly certain Pearl had told him what their job was. It had been something to do with building. “Oh, right.” He started. She kept waiting, finger hovering over the screen. “What should I do?” ‘What do you want?’ He almost asked when Pearl remained silent and Steven knew that she wanted him to give the order. She wanted him to be the one to let the gem into his prison and accept that he’s a Diamond now. She wanted him to lead.

“What does my Diamond want?” It felt like a test but he was tired. He was tired of crying and he was tired of being angry.

“I want to go to sleep.” And with his words Pearl closed the screen, discussion about the Iolite finished for now. It was so hard to hate or even dislike her. And it was even harder because she kept letting him hug her when he began to cry or began to feel lonely. He just wished she would talk to him about something that wasn’t the Diamonds and or his ‘duties’, because he was tired of being alone and just wanted to have a normal conversation. It would be nice to be able to tell her about his home, maybe she’d like Crying Breakfast Friends? “Sleep is how humans rest.” He added. She seemd to think for a moment before remembering something.

“My Diamond and myself have seen the human resting cycles many times when visiting the Zoo.”
Oh yeah. Blue Diamond owned the Human Zoo. Maybe he shouldn’t explain he was part human yet. He doubted he’d be rescued by the famethyst a second time. In fact, he was pretty sure Holly Blue would throw him into space the first chance she got. Yeah, he was definitely not doing that anytime soon. Instead he floated up onto his pillow, focusing so he didn’t fly high enough to hit the ceiling, and lay down because Pearl still confused him. At least she hadn’t tried to lecture him again, that was scary.

“Even if it leads to our shattering, for it is our Diamonds will.”

It was really scary. He’d never really understood why the Crystal Gems had fought against Homeworld. Garnet had tried to explain it to him once, but it had been like listening to a story. Nothing had seemed real. He’d thought he’d understood. He’d been sure that he’d he understood, but he had been wrong. And no matter how hard he tried, he still couldn’t understand. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it had sounded? Maybe Steven just hadn’t understood Pearl?

But Pearl had sounded so sincere as she’d explained. And that made it feel real. She’d believed every word she’d said and had expected Steven to agree.

He wanted to go home.

#~#~

Pink growled, pacing the room. Blue was watching, face stern as she stands next to the door and it’s just so frustrating. “I’m ready.” She insisted, already knowing what Blue’s response was going to be. Yellow must have complained to her after her latest attempt at begging. “I’ve trained! I’ve watched! I’ve learned! I want a colony!” She wished Blue would respond but the taller Diamond just watched silently, waiting for her to calm down. Blue always knew ignoring her was the worst punishment she could give.

“Why won’t you give me one? What else do I have to do?” She wished Blue would show her the same respect she offered Yellow. Blue never made decisions for Yellow, they actually talked. For her, Blue just did without ever asking. She couldn’t even go off world on her own. She still didn’t have a ship. Or a colony.

“What else can I do?”

She had studied the laws. She had trained with Yellow. She had helped White with her paperwork until she had cried with boredom. She could do it, she just needed them to listen to her. To let her prove she could. But not even White would help her get a colony, they always told her ‘you’re not ready’ without anyone actually telling what else they wanted her to do. No one trusted her. And Blue was still watching her, frowning as the youngest Diamond waved her fists as she raged. It just isn’t fair! Blue, White and Yellow had so many colonies, they kept telling her it was her duty to lead. But no one would let her! She wasn’t even allowed to lead one dropship. She hadn’t even started her own court yet.

She didn’t know what she was doing wrong.

And Blue still wasn’t answering Pink’s questions. She had disappointed with her again with how angry she kept becoming. And that just made her angrier, because she still couldn’t do anything right even when she tried her hardest. She finally snapped, picking up the pillow and throwing it in Blue’s direction. Knowing how bad at everything she was, she had probably missed. “Get out!” She screamed. “Just get out!” She turned, not looking to see if Blue had listened to her and left.

She didn’t want Blue to see the tears that were threatening to fall.

If she cried, it would be just another failure.

#~#~

Steven woke to tears on his face and Pearl watching him from the side of his pillow. He almost asked how she had gotten up but assumed she had jumped. He patted his cheek, feeling how damp they were numbly. “Pink Diamond.” He muttered as he sat up sharply. How was he dreaming about Pink Diamond? Should he tell someone?

“My Diamond?” Pearl looked scared and Steven had caused that. Even in his sleep he made mistakes.

“I saw Pink Diamond. When I was asleep, I dreamed I was her.”

But she’d looked different from the photo. She had been wearing different clothes. Her hair had been longer. He knew that for certain even though he’d seen the dream through her eyes and hadn’t seen any of it. But it had definitely been her, and she’d been so angry. He suddenly had a pretty bad feeling that he now knew why Blue found his rage so amusing. Why Pearl hadn’t flinched when he’d lost his temper in the corridor.

Pearl knelt next to the pillow looking troubled. He couldn’t remember seeing any Pearls in the dream and it felt wrong. He couldn’t imagine the Diamonds without their Pearls, they were always with them. It felt as wrong as his mom without his Pearl. Pearl who had always fought loyally and defended Rose Q… Pink Diamond.

It was like imagining Pink Diamond without her Pearl. Steven suddenly felt a lot lonelier.

“She was angry. Blue was stood over there.” He pointed and Pearl nodded, listening intently. Like Steven’s words were the most important she’d ever listened to. “And Pink was pacing. She wanted a colony but her and Yellow had had a fight. So she was yelling but Blue was just watching and Pink kept wanting Blue to talk to her. And then she started yelling at Blue to leave. She threw something.” A pillow like the one Steven was sat on. “She started crying.” Had Blue stayed? Reassured her like Blue had reassured Steven? Or had she left Pink alone with her bitterness?

He still felt hurt, the sting of betrayal at the silence. The frustration that nothing ever worked.
Pearl leaned over and hugged Steven, like she knew how awful he felt. He had felt Pink Diamonds rage, how it had run through him like a fire. But she’d felt so hurt as well. “Blue just kept watching her, even as it made her angrier.” He muttered into her shoulder. Blue had acted like how his Pearl reacted whenever Steven put himself in danger. The disappointed looks until Steven finally felt bad about what he had done and then she started to lecture him. He could understand Pink’s anger, he always hated it when that was done to him.

“My Diamond always hated when you acted like that. It hurt her to have to punish you.” Blue Pearl leaned back and Steven remembered that this Pearl would have actually known Pink Diamond. That his Pearl would also have known Pink Diamond, maybe all of the Crystal Gems knew more about her as well.

They just hadn’t told him anything. Again. But it was ok, he was used to that.

They sat in silence and for once Steven appreciated it. He also appreciated that Pearl wasn’t immediately messaging Blue about the dream, he was pretty sure it would bring her back to his room and he didn’t want to see her yet. He didn’t really want to see anyone. He should make sure Pearl didn’t call over the Iolite until later, he didn’t want anyone to see him like this.

He just wanted the bitterness to go away.

Chapter Text

She needed to tell someone. She had to disobey her order. But the words always caught, her hands always covered her mouth when she tried to speak. And Pearl just couldn’t get anyone to understand how important it was they knew. They thought it was grief, that at any moment Pearl could break in front of them. They were probably right, Pearl was going to break if she kept trying. It was insane to keep trying to do something Pearl knew she couldn’t. Defective, even.

No Pearl could disobey her owner’s orders. Homeworld had made sure of that.

But maybe there was a loophole. Maybe she could find a way around the order.

No one can know.

She had tried to write on the chalkboard on the first day, but her fingers had crushed the chalk to dust when she pushed too hard. Two days later after her first failed attempt at scavenging supplies she’d tried to write on the blackboard again in a fit of desperation, this time with a sturdy looking kitchen knife which wouldn’t break, but her hand had spasmed until she dropped it and Garnet had made her rest, mouth curled with worry. Pearl was tired of everyone acting like she was about to break, but she just couldn’t get them to listen.

It wasn’t that they didn’t know how important it was that they found Steven quickly. They had begun working to save him almost immediately (After a long moment where they had allowed themselves to panic) but it wasn’t enough. Pearl and Peridot's current attempt at repairing the dropship wasn’t going well despite their best and most desperate efforts. However, it was their best chance at getting to Homeworld. The old, decrepit ship that stood out like a rock.

They couldn’t repair the galaxy warp and the Rubies had stolen back their ship. No one could think of a way to get to Homeworld that wasn’t guaranteed to get them all killed or worse, would kill Steven.

She was a failure. She hadn’t been able to protect her Diamond, she hadn’t been able to protect Rose and now she had failed to protect Steven, who had probably been shattered by now. Or maybe he and his friend had died from their human needs not being met. It had been well over a week since they’d been taken and Gems didn’t need to eat or drink. Or maybe he had been discovered. Pearl still wasn’t sure what outcome she was hoping for, because no matter what happened she wouldn’t be able to get him back.

Because if the Diamonds had discovered him, they would never let him go.

The thought made a shiver run down her back, afraid for Steven. Who knew what the Diamonds were doing to him on Homeworld, so far away from his family, friends and his Pearl.

It took far longer than it should have to be allowed to return to work. Any break was unacceptable, but Garnet insisted they all needed to be at their best. Pearl had continued her attempts at scavenging resources from whatever was available, including their kitchen. After all, if her and Peridot had been able to make fighting capable robots together, then surely they should be able to make a dropship space worthy. Not just space worthy, but one that wasn’t going to kill Steven as they were fleeing.

And then they had to find a way to make sure they weren’t tracked back to Earth, even though it would be obvious where they had gone. Pearl couldn’t even be sure of what Homeworld was capable of now. All the technology she had seen since they had started fighting again was far more advanced then she remembered. Even the door locks at the Zoo had confused her, Pearl couldn’t imagine how much the defenses around Homeworld had advanced since she’d left.

Pearl refused to admit how hopeless it was. Her D…

Steven needed her. And she needed him.

She refused to lose him again.

#~#~

“This is hopeless, we’ll never get that dropship working!” She wailed as she paced the living room. Everyone just watched her as she voiced what they were all thinking. “We’re losing time! Who knows what they’re doing to Steven!”

Who knows if his secret was still safe? It had been too long.

“No, no. We just need to keep trying. Maybe…” She trailed off because she wasn’t sure what else they could do but they still had to do better. She turned as Greg walked past silently and sat on the sofa with his head hung. And she watched as he started crying into his hands. They were all trying their hardest. They were pushing themselves past the breaking point. Greg didn’t even have any knowledge in how to make ships but he was still there as they worked, offering to buy any resources they needed for repairing the dropship. He’d been writing notes all night about what he could order for them now.

Pearl knew she was thinking about herself again, about her pain, but it was hard to think about anything else. Steven was gone and they were losing time that they didn’t have to begin with. Amethyst walked over to Greg and sat down as well, hugging him tightly. Pearl returned to pacing as she held her chin, trying to think. The wires needed to be replaced, that was the easiest part. Pearl and Peridot could do it in their sleep. The problem they had was…

“Pearl, go rest.” Garnet was watching Pearl like when she’d taken the knife to the chalkboard in a bout of desperation. Like Pearl was fragile. A failure. But she didn’t know. If Garnet knew, she’d understand Pearl’s urgency. But Pearl obeyed the order and sat down. The order was comforting, because it meant someone knew what to do. That she was helping in some way. And it was wrong because Pearl didn’t have time to rest, she needed to be working on the ship. “We all need to be at our best, we can’t help Steven if we’re tired and rushing could get him killed.” Yes, rushing the work could kill Steven.

But Pearl needed to do something, maybe she could take apart more human electronics for parts. But Garnet was watching her to make sure she rested so Pearl just sat on the seat as she tried to plan in her head. Steven would never forgive her if she took apart his TV, no matter how useful the electron gun could potentially be. He would need it when he came back to catch up on his shows, he was always so happy watching them. Her fingers spasmed at the thought of Steven being upset with her and she clenched them. No, she couldn’t take apart anything of Stevens.

Her foot tapped quickly as she waited for Garnet to stop watching. As soon as she could, she’d return to the dropship and… and she’d find something that still worked. Its traps had still worked, so it must still have a power source. So long as they had the power source, it should be possible to repair.

But if it was possible, wouldn’t Garnet have seen it? Wouldn’t she have told them?

No, she couldn’t do that to Garnet. She couldn’t keep blaming everyone that Steven had left willingly. The moment Aquamarine had arrived, it had already been too late. But why Steven? How could he just give himself to her? Like…

Like he hadn’t thought about how his family would feel. Like how they felt meant nothing.

And Pearl allowed herself to cry, because there was no point in holding back the tears anymore. Steven wasn’t here and Pearl needed him. She needed him so much and he didn’t even know.

#~#~

Pearl returned to the dropship the next day hoping to find something that still worked. She was meant to be with Peridot in the barn, but she’d been there a few days ago and Peridot kept complaining about the parts they were missing. They needed more of almost everything for their plan to repair the ship. Even as she worked she thought of the blueprints they had started to work on.

“Hey Pearl.” Amethyst’s voice was tired. Dull. Pearl hadn’t expected anyone to find her here. Not yet anyway, she’d expected a few more hours at least. Pearl knew that if they found her, they’d just make her stop and she couldn’t. Not yet. She still hadn’t found anything. She hadn’t done anything useful yet.

Pearl jerked at the hand on her shoulder, tearing out the wires she had been trying to carefully untangle, and the hand removed itself like it had been shocked. Earths rain had damaged the electronics over the years, but Pearl had thought that maybe they could be repaired. But as Pearl examined them she knew they were useless and threw them over her shoulder in anger. Maybe she should check the injectors in the Kindergartens to see if anything could be useful there as well. Since the drill had still been operational, maybe the other parts of them had still been good and Peridot had missed them.

“Did Garnet see anything?” She asked, throwing more useless wires to the side. Pearl already knew the answer to her question, Garnet would have told her if she’d seen something that would be useful. Were the computers operational? Pearl couldn't remember.

“…Are you feeling ok?” Even Amethyst appeared to know it was a stupid question, but she’d never been very good at reassurance. Usually that was left to Rose or Steven, who always knew the right thing to say to people. It had always been one of Steven’s skills, the ability to make the Crystal Gems forget the loss of Rose and the hole it had left behind.

No. No Pearl wasn’t feeling ok. But she would be when they worked out a plan that could actually work. It was nice that Amethyst was trying to help, however it would have been better if Amethyst had also started looking for parts that worked. They had to work quicker. They needed to do better than this. Pearl needed to do better.

“Maybe you should sit down again.” Pearl didn’t have time to rest again. She needed to be doing something. Anything. She needed to feel like she was doing something that would help and all Pearl could offer to help was her building skills. She needed someone to tell her what else she could do so she could be more helpful. She had always hated feeling useless.

Pearl’s fingers were now coated in rust and dirt. Any other time and she would have tried to clean them. Now she just dug deeper, looking for something that in the back of her mind she already knew wasn’t there. At some point while Pearl had been searching it had begun to rain and water had pooled into the ship from holes in the walls. In her desperation it had taken her far longer than in should have to notice the water had leaked into the electronics. It was just another thing they needed to fix.

“I’m fine.” Pearl muttered. Perhaps she should look for a different ship. One in a better state of repair. No, if there was one they would have found it already.

“Pearl.” She ignored Amethyst. There had to be something here that still worked and Pearl would find it. There had to be something they could do to save Steven. Garnet just hadn’t seen it yet, but she would. Pearl knew Garnet would see a way to save Steven and Pearl had to be ready for the vision, so they could begin working on the solution as quickly as possible.

She had stopped rooting through the water, staring at how her hands were halfway submerged in the dirty water. She fought back the tears, sniffing quietly. It was difficult to ignore the thought that this was all pointless. She had to hope though. She had to remain positive. She needed to believe that Steven would come home. That she hadn’t failed him again.

The war was meant to be over. Hadn’t they lost enough already? How much more was Homeworld going to take from her? Why had Rose left her? How could Rose have Pearl given her such a cruel order? How could she do this to her?!

It was all her fault, Pearl hadn’t been able to protect him and Pearl still couldn’t do anything to save him. All she had been able to do was watch as he was taken away willingly. Not even Alexandrite had been able to help. Steven was probably scared and alone on Homeworld or shattered and Pearl couldn’t do anything because she was trapped here on Earth with no way to get to him. And that was the worst part, the not knowing. She could be worrying over shards thrown into the dirt and she would never know.

Lion couldn’t travel to Homeworld, it was too far. Lapis refused to go anywhere near Homeworld and even if she had, she would be caught.

Pearl breathed and stood. She wiped her hands on her shirt absentmindedly. She had to remove the water. She needed to look for parts. Maybe in the injectors. Or…

Amethyst grabbed her arm, stopping Pearl. When had Amethyst started crying? They didn’t have time to cry, they had to keep looking. Before the Diamonds hurt Steven. They couldn’t have much time left now.

“Pearl, you need to stop.” Amethyst pleaded.

Just one more hour. She still had to check the power core to make sure it hadn't started to run low.

“Pearl, don’t do this.”

She didn’t know what to do. All she wanted was for Steven to return. She felt hollow, and she knew why even if no one else knew.

“Amethyst, Ste” Her hands flew to her mouth and she tried to keep talking as she clawed at her hand. Her fingers left trails of dirt across the back of her hand as she tried to remove it. At some point they’d realize that she was trying to tell them something. She just needed to keep trying. She needed to tell them that Steven could still be alive. How many times did Pearl have to trigger the order before someone realized that this wasn’t normal grief? That Pearl was attempting to tell them something important?

Amethyst hugged her tightly and the hands across her mouth muffled the sobs that escaped Pearl’s lips. She missed him so much.

She missed her so much. And at the same time, she hated her because this order was cruel. It had never been needed, Pearl would never have betrayed her Diamonds trust. Even as Pearl sobbed she felt the order tightening around her gem so she couldn’t sob out the words when she tried. It controlled the fingers wrapped around her mouth, blocking her attempts at talking.

“It’ll be ok Pearl, we’ll find him.” The normally energetic, happy Amethyst reassured, sounding heartbroken. And the tears came harder as Pearl wailed, because it wouldn’t be ok. Nothing would be alright until she saved Steven and brought him home.

She just needed to try harder. She had to, he needed her.

Chapter Text

Yellow Diamond knew there were perks to being the second oldest matriarch on Homeworld, it was just difficult to remember them when handling the work of two Diamonds because one had been grief-stricken for over five thousand years. The loss of Pink had weighed heavily on them all, however Yellow had never allowed it to stop her. Disruption was inefficient and Homeworld couldn’t afford to be unproductive for even a century.

Blue had allowed the grief to affect her however and it had affected her court in turn. Her colonies had almost ground to a halt without her guidance, rebellion had almost caught hold as the gems sensed weakness and witnessed the near emotional collapse of their Diamond. Yellow had been forced to step in and take charge, leaving Blue to maintaining Pink’s… memories. Yellow had never understood Blue’s determination to keep them. They weren’t going to bring back Pink and all the Earth had been doing was distracting Blue from what was actually important. Her court. Her colonies. The Earth was just another reminder of their mistakes. Of the hollow feeling in their gems at the silence when there should be noise. Just something holding them back when they needed to move on. It was inefficient.

And Yellow had always hated inefficiency. It slowed everything down, caused more work for every other gem. Everyone needed to pull their weight in the running of Homeworld and if a gem was made for a purpose there should be no reason for them to become distracted. Blue had somehow managed that and it had hurt Homeworld in the long run. Fewer gems had emerged into Blue’s court. Fewer colonized worlds. And the part Yellow honestly hated the most, the paperwork had built up.

Blue’s Pearl had tried her hardest, but without Blue actually doing the paperwork her Pearl had been summarising for her, the paperwork had been sent to the gem with the closest rank to finish. Yellow Diamond. And it couldn’t be shoved onto the nearest Titanite to do because it was related to colonisation. The decline of soil quality, if it could continue to produce more gems and if so estimates of how much longer it would, what gems were needed for Homeworld and other colonies, if the planet still had materials worth gathering. Work Blue was meant to do to know when to adjust where gems were stationed for maximum efficiency. The work all Diamonds needed to do.

And that was not including public appearances by high ranking gems including the Diamonds, at times picked by a Tourmaline to maximise court morale, because morale helped keep gems actually doing their duties at maximum efficiency when their Diamond was off mourning on a useless rock.

With all of this in mind, it didn’t surprise Yellow that with the return of Pink Blue had decided to focus on that rather than her court again. Two weeks were nothing to a gem, but everything to a Diamond who had fallen behind in her duties for thousands of years. And as much as Yellow cared for Blue, Blue needed to return to her duty and start running her court and actually training Pink to be ready for another colony.

Even if the thought of Pink running a colony again made a cold shiver cross Yellow’s mind. Pink hadn’t been ready. Yellow had known that from the moment on the moon of Colony 4.7 when she had thrown her tantrum. Pink had continued to refuse to grow up until they’d finally given her a colony.

And with it came the first rebellion in Homeworld’s long memory and the shattering of a Diamond.

Or so they had assumed. And now Pink, or what appeared to be Pink, was back and Blue was once again doing everything except her duty. Yellow needed to be tough. She needed to remind Blue of her place and the fact that Yellow actually was colonizing planets and managing all of her work. And she was co-ordinating work on the Cluster, because upon its emergence it would need to be properly contained.

So Yellow had set out to find Blue after her… long meeting with White (and hadn’t that been fun?) and upon finding her in her personal building froze. Because Blue hadn’t smiled like that in 5,000 years. If Yellow remembered correctly, it had been before the rebellion when Pink had been given the first gems for her court and had been given permission to colonise the Earth by White. Blue had been so proud of her, ignoring Yellow’s quiet warnings.

“Oh, Yellow!” And Blue actually sounded happy. She no longer looked like she was in perpetual mourning.

And upon seeing that Yellow knew she couldn’t upset Blue yet. She could handle running the two courts for another couple of decades, because Blue needed this far more then Yellow needed a break from endless paperwork and duties.

Yellow’s eyes looked at the shimmering blue walls and then turned away sharply with a small hiss, because in her time of grieving Blue had summoned an Iolite to add a mural of Pink on one of the walls. And it was the version of Pink they both preferred to remember, the matriarch of Homeworld she had become leading a war against the rebellion. Proud and beautiful despite her… faults. (A lie…) The Iolite hadn’t included the Earth on the mural as was traditional, which was a good thing. No one needed to remember it when it was finally gone. It was a beautiful mural and Yellow would have offered her compliments to Blue if it wasn’t for the subject matter. Even Pearl seemed uncomfortable as she looked at it, something Yellow was willing to overlook because it felt wrong.

Blue was happily oblivious, typing away still as she spoke. “I’ve arranged for a new palanquin to be made for Pink and I’m now messaging White about how Pink will need a Pearl and proper training.” Of course she had, Blue and Yellow hadn’t exactly done well the last time they’d tried to train Pink.

Yellow tried not to remember how Pink ignored her in their last meeting, focusing on Blue’s reprimands and reassurances with her eyes firmly on anything except her once mentor. Yellow should have said something, something to reassure the too calm Diamond. Yellow had found her near non-reaction odd but had chosen to ignore it in favour of following Blue’s lead. Yellow should have tried to advise or offered more gems for Pink’s guard. Instead their last meeting had ended with Yellow walking off without a word. It was still one of Yellow’s greatest regrets.

“Did you include the fact that Pink had shrunk in your message?” Yellow sighed focusing on the present, as a Diamond should. There was no efficiency in looking at the past. She needed to make sure everything had been properly organised and Blue had probably been too eager to get things back to how they had been before the shattering to stop and think for a moment. “Pearl, message the Peridot in charge of designing the palanquin and make sure they’re aware that Pink needs to be measured.”

“Yes, my Diamond!” Pearl stood on her toes for a second as she accepted the order and then began the message happily. And that reminded Yellow of something else she should probably ask.

“Blue, where is your Pearl?” Yellow could guess.

“I left her with Pink.” And now Blue was frowning, no longer typing. So, things had already begun to go wrong with Pink. A Diamond with no memories if they believed what she said. Who had also appeared to be part organic before she poofed. “I think Pink is going to try to return to Earth.”

…Well, that was a problem Yellow somehow hadn’t expected. Yellow had expected to be hearing about tantrums and demands or maybe a poofed Pearl, not how Pink apparently wanted to return to a doomed rock. And that annoyed Yellow because she didn’t like surprises. Surprises meant something had changed. And this surprise meant Pink had changed more then Yellow had first assumed.

But it meant White had been correct.

”And you’re sure she’s truly loyal?” The words were like an afterthought as clawed fingers ran over one of many white screens lazily. The white eyes never left Yellow’s, but they weren’t focused. They almost appeared to look through her instead, gazing dreamily at the wall.

It had been a small question, White hadn’t even paused to let Yellow answer as she moved onto comments about how she was looking forward to meeting Pink. White had always been distant, it was difficult to become attached when you were older then Gemkind itself, but she had never lost the sharpness of her mind. She had freed Homeworld from the oppression of their original creators with the beginnings of the White Court, had claimed Homeworld and the surrounding planets in the name of Gemkind and had led the first colonisations with what little research they had taken.

Yellow should never have doubted the intelligence of her mentor, even if White claimed she had missed the trial due to ‘her alarm not going off’ and hadn’t made a move politically in over one hundred thousand years. White had long since stopped colonizing, choosing to focus on maintaining her court. Instead she had had Yellow created to continue the effort, then Blue and Pink after her. No, Yellow had clearly misjudged her. She wouldn’t make that mistake again.

But Yellow couldn’t bring up the idea of treachery when Blue already looked troubled. Yellow had wanted Blue to be happy for far too long to do that to her. Instead she considered how to change the subject. Blue managed it first.

“Yellow, we need to speed up the emergence of the Cluster.” And the look in Blue’s eyes said it all. She knew Pink would return to it if given the chance. But if there was no Earth and no remaining Crystal Gems, Pink couldn’t return to them. Couldn’t leave again. She wouldn’t be able to be shattered again.

Or fake a shattering.

And Pink would never forgive them if she learned of their plans. They were already on shaky grounds when it came to the Cluster and Pink.

And as much as Yellow couldn’t believe it, but she didn’t agree with Blue. They’d already lost a Peridot, a Jasper and numerous resources they could never make back to that accursed rock. It was better to just leave it to its own devices. Better to just steal more humans for the Zoo to preserve more of the species like Pink and Blue had wanted and wait. Soon it would destroy itself and they wouldn’t have to do a thing. It was more efficient to let it emerge in its own time and not risk more gems, gems they couldn’t afford to lose at this time. The Sapphire at the Zoo had foreseen the emergence would go as planned after all.

And Yellow could tell Blue wouldn’t listen, she was too focused on trying to protect Pink from herself. Which would be a good idea if they also weren’t trying to give Pink the resources of a Diamond. If Blue truly wanted to keep Pink from Earth, all she had to do was keep her in her room until the emergence. She couldn’t hurt herself and she wouldn’t be able to escape.

But Blue also desperately wanted her happiness and her loyalty, which was far more difficult for her to claim. And destroying the Earth was guaranteed to push Pink further away then her memory loss currently had. For Yellow who had managed to push Pink away almost completely with her mistakes in the past, the memory loss was a chance to correct this. But for Blue who had been her main mentor and had cared for Pink the most, it would destroy any chance of Pink trusting her again.

And Yellow wasn’t sure if Blue had considered that.

“Blue, think very carefully about that sentence.” Yellow settled on, allowing the calmness of planning an invasion to settle on her. She needed to think of how to convince Blue to agree without driving her back into her grief or turning on Pink (an impossible feat but it was better to plan anyway). “The Cluster will emerge soon, all we have to do is wait. Pink can’t return to Earth on her own.” It was the easiest reassurance that Yellow could get Blue to believe.

The reassurance appeared to work and Yellow watched Blue slump back into her chair in relief. Clearly Blue had not wanted to hasten the Cluster and had panicked. So, the return of Pink hadn’t completely cured her of… this… yet. It should have been obvious Yellow realised, five thousand years of grief was not easily wiped away, but Yellow had still allowed herself to hope. And of course, hope was foolish when it disturbed your train of thought so badly you couldn’t work as efficiently.

Yellow should have remembered that, it was a lesson she had learned quickly under White.

Blue lowered the screen and began crying silently. Yellow tried not to let the annoyance show on her face. Crying didn’t help anyone, it merely stopped you doing your duties as effectively as you should. And Blue had had five thousand years to mourn Pink without this added drama of Pink still being alive. In Yellow’s opinion, it was far longer then needed. As much as Yellow had missed Pink, she hadn’t allowed it to distract from her duty to Homeworld.

And Yellow knows she shouldn’t feel the stab of betrayal at the reminder of Pink’s ‘death’, reminding herself that they don’t know the circumstances behind Pink’s disappearance. It could have been a rebel plot, but all the rebels were gone and Pink had no memories. There would be no answers coming.

If it was true.

White could confirm it, but first she had to meet Pink. And that could be in a week or it could be in a century. When White did something, she did it in her own time. Even when meeting Yellow after the trial, she had made Yellow wait for her in her office as she finished her paperwork like back when Yellow had been freshly emerged without a colony. Yellow was fairly sure it was a punishment for demanding a meeting so soon after her last one, but White would never confirm even it if it was true and Yellow couldn’t accuse her of a potential lie.

Whatever White did, she did for a reason. It was one of the first lessons Yellow had learned after she had emerged. And it was very easy to forget, often to Yellows detriment. Yellow hadn’t made that mistake for a long time.

So Yellow had to focus on the idea that Pink was telling the truth. That she had no memories. It didn’t explain her new form. Her changed colouring. The fact she had claimed to be Rose Quartz. The fact she had clearly been an organic dressed in cloth before being poofed. There were still too many questions they couldn’t answer and Yellow didn’t like it. But she didn’t want to accuse Pink of treachery until she had evidence. She had the gem so she was Pink Diamond, youngest of the Diamond Authority until it could be proven otherwise. Even if it was tilted differently (which was a very odd use of shapeshifting and Yellow couldn’t work out how the rebels could force Pink to do something so personal).

Hopefully White would find the answers in Pinks memories.

Hopefully the rebels hadn’t hurt Pink while she was in their clutches.

Yellow mostly sure of what she was hoping for. She wanted Pink back with her fellow Diamonds, safe and loyal to Homeworld. She desperately hoped this wasn’t a cruel, devious trap by the rebels. She wanted Blue to be happy again, like she had been when Yellow first arrived.

But Yellow wasn’t sure what else she wanted from this problem. She couldn’t plan for it, couldn’t figure out the outcomes. There were to many unknowns. And Yellow didn’t want to consult a Sapphire, to admit she was unsure about the return of the long-lost Diamond. The first source of celebration in over five thousand years. How could she do that to Blue?

So Yellow kept her doubts quiet for now, because she didn’t wish to cause Blue more grief. Instead she sighed. “Blue, Pink will be looking up to you as a mentor again when she begins her training.” Blue froze. While gems came out of the ground already knowing their duties, sometimes there were extra lessons to learn after emergence. This was mainly a problem with Diamonds, who emerged for leadership without any of the necessary skills and learned them from another Diamond. Yellow had learned from White. Blue had learned from Yellow.

Or in Whites case, the Diamond learned by taking over a solar system and forming the first court.

Yellow needed to remember to tell Pink that story at some point, not many of the newer gems knew it. They didn’t need to, it had happened so long ago. Even when Yellow had emerged it had already started to change, twisting until only the most basic facts were left unchanged.

“And when she looks up to you, she’ll need to see a proper Diamond. One maintaining her court. Leading her armies.” Yellow clenched her fist as she leaned forward, looking like a proper leader. Someone who knew she would lead and Blue listened like she had in the Zoo. “She’ll need you to be at your best, Blue.” And Blue looked so happy that Yellow smiled with her, allowing the hope to grow within her.

And Yellow realised she was potentially driving Blue down a path that would cause her more pain in the long run. And in the back of her mind, Yellow hoped that she was right in placing her trust in Pink. Because as much as Yellow was annoyed by Blue’s grief, Yellow had been just as hurt at the loss of Pink.

It felt nice to allow herself to hope again. To honestly, truly hope.

Chapter Text

Pearl allowed herself a small moment of confusion as her Diamond talked about ‘Crying Breakfast Friends’ and a ‘Crying Pair’. She was unsure what it was a pair of but her Diamond was insistent it was a good ‘show’ and how she wanted Pearl to watch it with her at some point. Pearl nodded at the order even when she was unsure of what her Diamond actually wanted her to do with it. But it was an order and Pearl was happy to take it. Her Diamond was becoming a bit more comfortable with the idea of giving her orders, even if she used the words ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ far too much for Pearls liking.

And her Diamond had finally accepted the presence of the Iolite which would please her True Diamond when Pearl filed her report. Pearl had already filed one on her Diamond’s odd dreams, but it hadn’t been read yet. It was odd, but it wasn’t Pearls place to question her True Diamonds actions. Instead she had made sure to keep her current Diamond entertained, engaging in conversation and listening as her Diamond told her about the Earth and his ‘friends’.

Pearl fought to keep the sneer off her face at the word ‘friends’. They had hurt her Diamond.

But, her Diamond wished to talk about them and Pearl had listened with much interest as her Diamond spoke. And if she asked a few more questions about the Gems who she had lived with, her Diamond didn’t appear to be concerned with Pearl’s sudden interest. Pearl had been very interested about the previous Pearl her Diamond had owned.

But she insisted she didn’t own the Pearl. That the Pearl belonged to no one.

If it had been any other gem, Pearl would pity her. To be without purpose. To live without meaning. Without the joy of assisting her owner. It was horrifying and Pearl couldn’t imagine a worse fate. But this Pearl had taken her rebel thoughts and infected her Diamond with them. Had made her afraid of her own power. Hadn’t taught her anything of proper manners or her place.

No, Pearl did not pity her. In fact, Pearl would be quite happy to see her shattered just to remove her influence from her Diamond. A Pearl with no owner, no true Pearl would be happy with that. Well, Pearl admitted to herself, there were some with less then kind owners. Those who would hurt their Pearls. Damage even. But such actions were punished swiftly and the Pearl removed and regifted to someone more deserving. A Pearl, while made to order, was still a resource that Homeworld offered when it didn’t need to and should not be abused.

Pearl should be grateful they hadn’t done any worse then that. She could teach her Diamond, preferably before Pearl was replaced. Until then she would show her Diamond how a true Pearl acted. Loyal. Obedient. Helpful. Pearl had tried to make her Diamond understand how important she was.

Her Diamond had responded by insisting Pearl call her ‘Steven’ again. It was still an odd title and Pearl didn’t like it, but it was an order. And Pearl was much happier now that her Diamond was finally giving her orders, because she was finally being of use. It had started with the question about the human. Then she had ordered Pearl to wait to summon the Iolite. Then she had insisted on her title. She even allowed Pearl to get the door for her instead of trying to open it herself now (although that was probably more to do with how her Diamond couldn’t work the lock).

And now she had ordered Pearl to summon the Iolite. Yes, Pearl was very happy with this turn of events.

She was not so happy that her Diamond had insisted with coming with her to retrieve the Iolite from the warp pad. Not that Pearl would dream of explaining to her that such duties were for her Pearl and far below a Diamonds interest. Pearl actually wanted to encourage her Diamond and her sudden interest in being a leader. Her Diamond was even asking about what an Iolite was.

Which was a horrifying question because her Diamond didn’t know the different roles of Gems on Homeworld but Pearl had explained calmly as they walked. Iolites were builders, like Bismuths. However, while Bismuths designed and built the actual buildings Iolites designed the interiors of said buildings. They worked out the resources needed for their plans and coordinated whatever gems were needed to design them. They also designed murals, such as the ones decorating the walls that often caught her Diamonds attention.

It was nice her Diamond was paying attention to the workings of Homeworld now.

And Pearl could admit it felt nice to be the one who made her Diamond so happy. Her True Diamond had been so sad for so long despite her Pearls efforts, but now everything was becoming better now her Diamond had returned. Her True Diamond hadn’t been this happy in thousands of years.

Not that Pearl would tell her Diamond that, she still became sad at being reminded of her place on Homeworld. Just like how she became sad when reminded of the Earth. But that would be fixed eventually and then the Pink Court would. It would be interesting to see how she changed the political workings of Homeworld.

As expected the Iolite arrived on time. And had noticed her Diamond.

The Iolite was a standard Gem of Blue Diamond’s court, with blue skin, a lean body and a dark blue dress which hide her feet from view. She was also tall, matching Pearls height easily. Her gem was a deep blue in a navette cut on her forehead, resting just above her eyes and hidden by blue hair which curled under her chin.

And she was staring down at her Diamond, eyes wide in shock.

The Iolites arms flew into the Diamond Salute the moment her Diamonds eyes met hers, looking equally amazed. “My Magnificent Diamond. I am Iolite Facet 4L3 Cut 6A.” Pearl watched as the confusion cleared into wonder and amazement on the Iolites face. Good, the Iolite knew her place.

And now, her Diamond would understand how much she was looked up to by her fellow Gems. She was now meeting one of her subjects, something the rebels had tried so hard to stop. This could be what her Diamond needed to help her embrace her duty.

“Cool! I’m Steven!”

…And her Diamond was still insistent on that title. Pearl hoped her True Diamond didn’t take gems using it as a sign of disrespect. It would be difficult to convince her otherwise.

“My Radiant… Steven?” The Iolite tried, faltering slightly as she tried to make sense of it. Pearl felt herself internally sigh as her Diamond seemed to wilt in mild disappointment but didn’t correct the Iolite. “My… Steven. I am here to help you rearrange your home to your… needs.” The Iolite eyed her Diamond, eyes narrowing as she seemed to think. She was also clearly waiting for her Diamond to allow her to be at ease and drop her salute so she could begin her work.

“My Steven.” Pearl muttered, feeling a shiver of unease run up her spine at the word again. It was the title, it wasn’t right. She should be referred to as a Diamond, with the respect she deserved. “You must tell her to continue with her duty.” Pearl had forgotten to explain this to her shame. She’d been too busy explaining an Iolites duty to remember to advise her Diamond.

“Huh? Uh… continue?” Her Diamond shouldn’t sound so unsure. Pearl kept her face neutral as her Diamond stammered. She needed to be in control. Sterner. Even the Iolite looked unsure now, realizing that something was very wrong with this situation as she lowered her salute. However, she remained professional.

The Iolite straightened and summoned her screen, waiting for her Diamond to begin talking. After a few moments her Diamond realized that everyone was waiting for. “Oh, uh… I’m too short for everything?” Her Diamond waved her arms as if it assisted the statement.

It would have been better if her True Diamond was here, Pearl thought. Instead they had a Pearl. “My Steven is much smaller than this building was designed for and needs everything adjusted for her ease.” Pearl hoped her Diamond would forgive Pearl’s breach in etiquette as she stepped forward to assist.

“Her?” Her Diamond muttered in confusion.

The Iolite brightened, because that was information she could work with. She was already working on her screen, looking up different bits of information. She then paused. “My… Steven. May I enter the building to see what I need to alter?”

“Sure?”

They all stood in the warp pad room awkwardly when her Diamond didn’t move. A Diamond always led her gems.

“Oh, right! Heh…” Her Diamond smiled awkwardly as she took a step backwards to leave the room. The Iolite followed, still holding the screen nervously as she walked past Pearl without a second glance as it should be. It was rare for a gem to be in the presence of a Diamond from another Court. It was almost unheard of for a mere gem to be allowed into a Diamonds personal area.

And as they entered the main area, Pearl already knew this was going to be one of the worst meetings she had ever experienced. This feeling only became stronger when her Diamond began walking alongside the Iolite with a happy smile. The Iolite had begun to stammer as she tried to work, cheeks flushing when her Diamond began to talk to her as an equal.

And Pearl walked behind the two gems, unsure of what she should do. It wasn’t her place to tell her Diamond how to behave, especially not in front of her guest. But her True Diamond wasn’t here to assist Pearl. All she could do was put her faith into her current Diamond.

Chapter Text

When Iolite Facet 4L3 Cut 6A received the notification that she was needed to work for a Diamond in the near future she was, of course, excited as any loyal gem would be. She barely paid any thought to the note that anything she saw was to be kept secret on pain of shattering, of course Iolite 4L3 would obey the order. She had immediately prepared to perform her duty, requesting the most commonly used materials so her work would be finished as soon as possible and waited for the summons.

And waited.

Iolite 4L3 was content to wait, her Diamond was busy with the running of her court and she would summon the Iolite when she was ready. She had other work to do as she waited instead, sketching an idea of an auditorium for a nearby tower that was being built so it was ready to be shown to the Bismuth in charge of the building itself. She was proud of her duty, enjoyed watching as her ideas became reality. To design and build was her purpose after all.

Murals were the favorite part of her job, working out just the right shade of crystal to make it gleam. Especially the murals of her Diamond, they were always a pleasure to design. Her Diamond was, in her opinion, the most of all the Diamonds. The most Perfect. The most Beautiful. Of course, such thoughts were only natural. You were designed for that Diamond and her court after all. Iolite had only ever seen pictures of her Diamond, but if she was lucky today she would. Maybe one day she’d be able to design a mural of Blue Diamond. Of course, putting a Diamonds perfection onto a wall was difficult, because a Diamond was …Well they were a Diamond. To capture a Diamonds wisdom, her beauty and power… It was a dream job for Iolite 4L3 and in her opinion was the best part of helping design a colony.

Not that she’d ever had the pleasure, but it was a fond hope. Since the resource crisis, there had been far fewer colonies being made unfortunately. Especially since the failed colonization of… Well, fewer colonies were being made.

So when Iolite 4L3 received the much anticipated summons she immediately travelled to the nearest warp pad near her quarters and entered into a much smaller warp area which was much more heavily guarded. The room was a reasonable size, with white walls and a high ceiling. On the floor was the Diamond insignia, the three Diamonds. You could tell that the Iolite who had added it had taken a personal joy in her work by the brightness of the tiny crystals making the symbol glisten as light passed over it. And all over the room were Amethysts and Agates who were eying Iolite 4L3 in suspicion. Iolite 4L3 smiled at them politely, waiting for one to approach and check her right to be there.

The only way to reach a Diamonds area was to prove you had permission to be there and she quickly summoned a screen to show her summons. The Amethyst who approached had taken the screen and checked it against her own to make sure Iolite 4L3 Cut 6A was listed as being expected.

Which she was and she was waved through with a grunt of disinterest.

The Iolite made a move to approach the one marked as Blue Diamonds when the Amethyst stopped her and pointed at a much newer warp pad.

Pink Diamond's.

A ghost of a shiver ran up her. This duty was far more important than she had first assumed.

The Blue Court knew of their Diamond's suffering after Pink Diamonds shattering. How she still mourned. And the Blue Court didn’t talk about it out of respect for their Diamond who had worked so hard for them in turn. Even as the colonization efforts slowed and less work became available, they had tried their utmost to make sure their Diamond had as few worries as possible. Even as they had begun to lose hope that their Wondrous Diamond would return to herself, they had continued to fulfil their duties in an attempt to help her.

They didn’t speak of their Diamond’s visits to Earth, ‘rumors’ that were quietly ignored. It was difficult to hide how their Diamond sought comfort where Pink had shattered, and their Diamond hadn’t tried that hard to hide it to begin with due to how lost she was in her grief. Not that her Court would ever doubt or judge her. She was their Diamond and they lived to serve.

The Iolite stepped onto the warp pad marked as Pink Diamonds and wondered what had changed. Why would her Diamond wish to change Pink Diamonds personal quarters? Of course, Iolite 4L3 would do her duty no matter how much it confused her, it wasn’t her place to question her Diamond. She was merely an Iolite.

She arrived promptly and was immediately stunned with the workmanship of the arrival room. The room was open with light pink walls, small pink crystals had been grown into the wall to add a light sparkle. The workmanship on those crystals was stunning. Perfectly formed, small and they had probably matched Pink Diamonds shade of pink exactly.

The appearance of Blue Diamond's Pearl had Iolite 4L3 snapping to attention, saluting as she looked up. And then down because there was a small figure, smaller then the Pearl, who was gazing up at her in awe.

This time Iolite 4L3 was stunned, not by the beauty of the room but the pink eyes looking up at her. So, this was why Blue Diamond had ordered her silence. This was the secret that Iolite 4L3 Cut 6A had been entrusted with. And even if her Diamond had not given the order, Iolite 4L3 knew that she would not have told anyone else about what was clearly not meant to be spoken about.

She would not betray her Diamond's trust.

“My Magnificent Diamond. I am Iolite Facet 4L3 Cut 6A.” A traditional greeting, managed despite the gibbering that wanted to fall from her lips. Because Pink Diamond had returned. The Pink Court was soon to return. Her Diamond would no longer mourn and would return to them, as radiant as always.

She would not fail her Diamond or humiliate her Court.

“Cool, I’m Steven!”

…What?

Was it a title? A type of cut? How… odd. Iolite 4L3 fought down her stare and instead stammered “My Radiant… Steven?” The word was strange on her tongue. She hoped she had pronounced it to her Diamond’s expectations. And when she wasn’t corrected, she assumed that was how her Diamond wished to be referred to.

It was odd, but it was her Diamonds wish.

The Pearl stepped forward and whispered quietly to her Diamond, posture perfect as she leant forward. It was a pity Pearls were never included in murals, because they would be stunning. Iolite 4L3 could picture this Pearl posing mid dance beautiful in her grace next to Blue Diamond, standing honored by all around her. It would have been an amazing piece.

“Oh… continue?” Her Diamond sounded nervous as she gave the order. Iolite obeyed and re-summoned her screen from her gem, bringing up her notes page so she could write her Diamonds wishes.

Was this a new Pink Diamond? Not returned, but newly emerged? It would make her behavior make more sense, newly emerged always added… oddly… as they adjusted to their duties. Iolite 4L3 had spent a few years staring at furniture to try to figure out how it had been made, even when she already had the knowledge in her gem. She may also have tried to take apart some of the furniture. It was different seeing it in real life, already made and not in pieces like how she could picture it. Her new Diamond must be struggling with such an experience, newly formed with all the information and no idea of how to use it in real life.

“I’m too short for everything!” Her Diamond waved her arms angrily, gesturing to everything around her. Iolite narrowed her eyes as she eyed her Diamond. Would it be rude to measure her? She would have to at some point to ensure the furniture was created correctly. And what would she do with the rest of the spare room? The building was designed so the Diamonds could walk through comfortably, so all the ceilings were high. It would be a waste to do nothing with the rest of the room but you could only have so many murals (unfortunately).

“My Steven is much smaller than this building was designed for and needs everything adjusted for her ease.” So that was the proper use of the title. Good, Iolite 4L3 was behaving correctly in front of her Diamond.

“Her?” Her Diamond muttered, eying Pearl oddly. It was ignored, which was odd behavior for a Pearl but Iolite 4L3 was still trying to plan. Maybe not change some of the furniture, but instead add stairs so her Diamond could climb? It would save resources and time.

“My… Steven. May I enter the building to see what I need to alter?” Iolite felt pride that she didn’t stammer too much over the title. And her Diamond seemed pleased as she used it, so Iolite vowed to keep using it until told otherwise. If it pleased her Diamond, what did it matter if it made Iolite feel disrespectful? It would be more disrespectful to not follow her Diamonds wishes after all.

“Sure.”

But her Diamond didn’t turn, as if waiting for Iolite 4L3 to enter first. As if she would ever be that disrespectful. As excited as she was to enter, she could still maintain proper manners.

And Iolite 4L3 found herself wondering who had trained her Diamond before coming to Homeworld from whatever colony she had formed on, not that it was any of her business of course. Iolite would never think that her Diamond was behaving… defectively. As if she had no idea what was expected of her.

No, she would never think that.

“Oh, right!” And her Diamond took a step backwards before walking in. Iolite 4L3 walked in after her, still holding her screen in preparation to make more notes. Some of the murals would need to be updated, some of the star systems on the walls had changed since they were made. The Diamond insignia on the floor was technically out of date, but she may not need to correct it with Pink Diamond's return. The technology was woefully out of date and would need to be replaced, the door locks alone clearly hadn’t been changed in at least three thousand years. She made a note to repair a damaged wall, small cracks forming where something small had punched it.

“So, watchya doing?” A small voice sang next to her.

And then her Diamond watched as Iolite 4L3 jumped badly enough that she had to catch her screen as it left her fingers. Her Diamond was walking with her. Her Diamond was talking to her!

And Iolite 4L3 blushed a dark shade of blue, because what must her Diamond think of her shameful display? What would Blue Diamond think when Pink Diamond told her..?!

“I’m making notes on what I think can be improved on My Radiant Steven.” She fought to keep her voice even, the title helping her remember who she was walking with. It took all of her willpower to not begin stammering in excitement.

“That is so cool! So, does your arm turn into a hammer?” Iolite 4L3 held up her arm and transformed it to show her Diamond, the hammer was smaller then a Bismuth's but the sight of it made her Diamond’s eyes widen in pure joy, pink irises almost sparkling as she stared.

Iolite 4L3 allowed a small shiver of pride, because it was her that was making her Diamond smile so happily. A mere Iolite was making her Diamond react with so much joy at something so simple.

After that Iolite focused on her duty, walking around Pink Diamond's area and fighting the urge to gaze in envy at the crystal work in the walls. To any other gem, it was probably just a pretty sparkle but for an Iolite it was easy to see the hard work that had gone into every shard. So much thought had gone into the placement of the shards so to make the murals stand out without over powering them.

Iolite 4L3 wished she knew where the organic material used to make them had come from for such a pure shade of pink.

Instead she noted to leave the crystals alone, do not mess with perfection. The murals would definitely need to be altered however, which was a shame. “My D… Steven. Is there any specific mural you would like?” She asked as she looks at one of a distant star system.

As a space faring race, it made little sense to have so many space related murals, why would her Diamond choose such… boring murals?

Her Diamond looked unsure. It was an odd look for a Diamond and it automatically made panic rush through Iolite 4L3. It was silly, but for a Diamond to be unsure about something… it just felt wrong. Her Diamond had placed her hand on her gem as she thought, fingers clenching over the beautiful pink diamond on her stomach.

After a few moments her Diamond looked up and shook her head slowly, face suddenly blank.

Iolite 4L3 nodded and noted on her screen that her Diamond didn’t want any of the murals removed, they would however need to be corrected.

“Hey, Iolite.”

“Yes, my Steven?”

“Are you happy doing this?” Her Diamond still sounded confused, which was good because so was Iolite 4L3. Behind her Diamond, the Pearl suddenly looked panicked, clearly trying to stop herself from stopping this conversation in its tracks. Why would a Pearl be so against her Diamonds actions? (Even if they were treasonous and stars, did her Diamond suspect her of something?)

“Yes, My Steven. I am very happy.” It was an easy answer. She could never picture herself in another role. She was honestly happy with her place on Homeworld.

“But… if you had the chance, would you do something else?”

“Why would I want that? I was built for this purpose.”

Why was her Diamond asking such treasonous questions? Why would her Diamond have such thoughts?

“So, if I asked you what you wanted to do you’d pick this?” Her Diamond had continued her questioning and Iolite 4L3 blushed.

“I would respond that I wanted to make a mural of you.” Her Diamond had asked what she wanted to do after all, the Iolite couldn’t lie. And her response made her Diamond stammer, looking dumbfounded so Iolite 4L3 continued shyly. It felt like she was admitting an embarrassing secret. “I would like to make a mural of you when you take your first Colony, to capture the moment. And then” She shouldn’t be admitting this. “I would like to make murals of your fellow Diamonds. That is what I want to do.”

It was not her place to choose what she did however. That was her Diamond's duty.

Her Diamond was still staring at her, pink eyes wide. And the Pearl was smiling, small and proud. Like the Iolite had surprised her.

“You… of me?!”

“You are my Diamond.” As if that needed to be said aloud. But apparently it did, because her Diamond just stared at her stunned.

“But I’m…” And her Diamond trailed off, hand still on her gem.

“You are my Diamond.” Iolite 4L3 repeated. “And I follow you and your wishes.”

The Pearl was definitely smiling now, if there was any doubt before. And her Diamond was biting her lip, gazing at the mural behind Iolite 4L3. Iolite 4L3 waited for her Diamond to respond, it wasn’t her place to rush her.

“A mural, huh…?” Her Diamond muttered as if realizing something.

“Yes, my Steven.” She shouldn’t have said anything. She should never have placed her personal wishes on her Diamond who already worked so hard for Homeworld

But stars, she could picture it. Her Diamond posing with her first colony held between her hands, her eyes gleaming with power as her hair is highlighted by the light of the systems sun in the back ground. Iolite 4L3 would probably need to alter the clothes slightly to make the picture more striking, but such decisions could be cleared with her Diamond first.

It was a fond dream. There were Iolites used specifically for colonies however, Iolite 4L3 would probably keep designing interiors on Homeworld. And she was ok with that, for that was her assigned duty. If her Diamond deemed that where she was most suited, then on Homeworld she would stay.

Her Diamond was still silent, eyes distant as she stared at the wall.

Finally, her Diamond turned and kept walking and the Iolite followed, continuing her note taking as they walked through different rooms. But her Diamond no longer spoke as she walked, still thinking about something.

Stairs would be a much better option then completely dismantling the already existing furniture. With her Diamond's love of space, she could add something to project space on the walls if her Diamond wished. The observation room needed to be updated as well, the star maps on the walls were also out of date. The cubbies for the Guard could also do with being updated depending on her Diamond's wishes.

Overall, this job was much easier then expected. She could add stairs that rose and collapsed on command, which would give her Diamond the ability to climb the furniture with ease. The murals could also be corrected with ease (she would miss the original crystal work on them but it could be repaired when she worked out the organic material that had been used).

Her Diamond turned in time to see Iolite 4L3 lick the crystals on the wall. Sulfate. Easily replicated, the color would be difficult to match but also doable. She made a note as her Diamond stammered out questions. She would work to recreate them in private, the sight of Iolites making crystals such as this was often… disturbing.

The Pearl appeared to understand because once again she leant forward and whispered into her Diamonds ear, no doubt explaining what Iolites also did in their duties.

“That’s so cool!” Her Diamond squealed in excitement, her eyes once again widening in wonder. “Can you show me?”

The Pearl stepped back, no doubt wishing to avert her eyes if the Iolite carried out the demonstration that her Diamond clearly wanted. The Iolite summoned a small bag of organic material from her gem and pulled out a small handful from the bag hesitantly.

It was her Diamond's wish and the power wasn’t exactly a secret. It was just preferred that it was done in private.

She considered the color and settled on a light green, clenching the dirt in her hand as she forced the change. She placed her hand over the fist and pushed, the pressure compacting the dirt as she altered the color. She could see the color in front of her eyes as it changed rapidly, until it reached the perfect green. And then she crushed the crystal in her hands into shards without thinking. It was a movement that came as second nature to the Iolite who used this technique for decorating.

When she opened her hand her Diamond flinched, no longer looking excited. Because the shards which sparkled so perfectly in her hands were disturbingly similar to a shattered gem. This was the part most gems never saw.

“And then these shards are used for decorating the walls.” The Iolite pointed at a small cluster next to her, small and the exact same shade of pink as the walls. They were impossible to notice without knowing what to look for unless they caught the light.

“And all Iolites can do that?” Her Diamond sounded shaken, but curious. Which was good, it was natural to be shaken the first time a gem saw it. It was why most gems, even their Diamonds, never saw this part. Her Diamond was taking this rather well.

“All Iolites.” She confirmed placing the crystals into the bag and storing it away safely. She could use them at another job, maybe at that tower she was still writing up designs for. Thinkers always liked the color green for some reason.

“It’s…” Iolite 4L3 wasn’t insulted when her Diamond didn’t finish the sentence, still looking paler then she had before. As a newly emerged it must be more horrifying then it would be for other gems. Iolite 4L3 wouldn’t know, she’d been formed already aware of how to do it. It took a bit of practice to master shading and shattering however.

“It is horrifying to see, but the results are beautiful.” Iolite 4L3 shrugged looking at the work of the other Iolite. Her duty was to design interiors, and gems always wanted them to be beautiful. For her, it was just a normal thing Iolites did. Some Iolites made batches of shards of different colors and stored them so they were ready at a moments notice, Iolite 4L3 preferred to make them when she knew what was needed to prevent waste.

The Pearl was thinking, face uncertain.

“My Steven, do you prefer all new furniture or would you just like it to be easier to climb?” Iolite 4L3 asked when her Diamond started to look better. She needed to be sure before she could start on the designs.

“Easier to climb.” Her Diamond replied quickly.

“I can design stairs for that. I’ll also update the murals and the technology.” The Iolite glanced through the notes as she spoke, going over everything she had noticed. Her Diamond seemed a bit guilty when she mentioned the broken wall. When she finished she looked at her Diamond and waited for confirmation. Her Diamond looked a little overwhelmed as she nodded quickly. The Pearl stepped forward to escort the Iolite out now that her business was finished.

Her Diamond hadn’t dismissed her however. And Iolite 4L3 Cut 6A wouldn’t leave without the dismissal, as was appropriate. Her Diamond needed to be the one to say that Iolite was finished, otherwise how would she know she’d pleased her Diamond?

The Pearl appeared to realize this and began whispering in her Diamond's ear and then stepped back as her Diamond stammered a quiet ‘that will be all’ as if the words were unfamiliar to her and the Iolite stored her screen inside her gem, no longer needing it until she returned to her workshop to design the stairs. She wouldn’t even need to measure her Diamond.

Perhaps this was why her Diamond wished for Iolite 4L3’s silence. Her Diamond needed training from her fellow Diamond's before she was presented. The Iolite had not been formed when Pink Diamond had been originally presented to Homeworld along with the announcement of the new Court.

It’s said that the White Court had appeared for Pink Diamonds presentation, that even White Diamond had appeared for the first time in many thousands of years. That gala must have been amazing to see, a celebration that covered all of Homeworld.

Iolite 4L3 curtsied low to her Diamond as she smiled. “My Gracious Steven.” She said in farewell and followed the Pearl out.

Her Diamond stayed behind and the Iolite missed how her Diamond stared after her blankly, looking uncertain and alone in the room that was far too big for her.

Chapter Text

When the Iolite left Steven returned to his room with a sigh. He hadn’t expected her to be so happy about meeting him. She had been nice, showing him the cool trick with the crystals (even if the end results were horrifying) and she’d been so excited when she mentioned making a mural about him. It had made him realize that to everyone else he was a Diamond. That it didn’t matter that he was part human or that sometimes he still caught himself thinking his gem was a Rose Quartz, they almost worshipped him.

Radiant. Luminous. Powerful.

He’d heard the gems as they’d complimented the Diamonds before, but it felt so different when it was being directed at him. Like they thought he was this mighty gem who was powerful enough to lead them. Like how Pearl appeared to see him.

Steven didn’t want to enjoy how the gems treated him. He didn’t want to enjoy the look of wonder that crossed her face when the Iolite had gazed at him while she talked about making a mural like the ones at the moon base, the ones where the Diamonds looked down on everyone from the walls. It was a lot of responsibility, because the gems wanted to obey him even if he didn’t want this.

But it had been nice to see the Iolite looking so happy when she’d answered his questions. It had felt like a semi-normal conversation.

Steven missed Earth. But he couldn’t get home and the Diamonds weren’t letting him leave. Instead he was in this building with Pearl. Everything was a mess and Steven didn’t know what to do. Just going along with everything was working for now, but soon they’d want him to colonize something and… and that was wrong. He didn’t want to colonize a planet or run a… A Court. (was that what Pearl called them…?)

He just wanted his family.

This time it took a couple of tries for his floating powers to kick in as he floated onto the cushion to have a nap. He considered waiting for Pearl to return but decided that sleep was far more appealing after a few moments.

Even if he did have weird dreams.

#~#~

”I just don’t understand what I’m doing wrong.” She whispered, running a finger over the reflection.

The mirror didn’t reply and Pink glared at it.

“I can do it.”

Why did it feel like even her mirror was turning on her?

“I can!” She snapped loudly, because how dare she doubt herself.

But her reflection didn’t reply and Pink let herself frown in annoyance, no longer glaring at the reflection. Pink had started arguing with herself again even when all it did was make her realize how pathetic she was. She eyed the reflection critically.

Small. Emotional. Defective.

She pulled herself so she was standing straight, touching her fingers like she had seen Yellow do. Head tilted slightly to look threatening. Pink hardened her eyes and stood tall, trying to carry the authority Yellow somehow managed with ease. But it wasn’t right. It wasn’t her, it was just Pink trying to copy Yellow. And this time Pink didn’t become angry, she just held the position.

Because sometimes it felt like anything was better then being herself.

The sight in the mirror made her eyes water as her hands shook.

She wanted to prove herself. She could do it, Pink knew it. She just needed a chance. Maybe not a colony, but a single dropship. She could manage it, White had said her training had been progressing well. But Yellow and Blue didn’t trust her. White had stared at her when Pink had tried asking her before smiling blankly, which by now Pink knew was a refusal without words.

Behind her something knocked on the door, which was odd. Pink turned slowly as she let her hands fall to her sides. She wasn’t expecting visitors. Blue and Yellow were colonizing in different quadrants of space and no one else ever visited. The walk to the door was quick and Pink Diamond swiped her finger across the door lock, opening the door.

And then she watched as a Sapphire walked in gracefully, the black diamond visible on the front of her dress as she turned to look at Pink. And Pink tried not to flinch while the Sapphire curtsied.

She wasn’t meant to be here.

#~#~

Steven shot up with a gasp and once again felt tears on his cheeks. He looked around frantically at the empty room and let himself fall back onto the pillow with a groan. He was officially sick of dreaming of Pink Diamond. The dreams were never pleasant and all it did was confuse his feelings about being held captive by the Diamonds. Especially the ones involving Blue Diamond. But this one had felt different, Pink had felt… panicked at the end at the sight of the Sapphire. Steven stood with a groan, deciding not to tell Pearl about this dream. Something about it just didn’t feel right.

A black diamond? He had never seen a gem with that marking before. It was always blue or yellow and potentially white. Was there a Black Court? A Black Diamond? But no one had mentioned a Black Diamond before… He’d never seen a mural including a Black Diamond either if she did exist which was even weirder, because there were markings of the Diamonds everywhere. The was even one in the teleporter room, so why had he never seen anything about her before?

He jumped off the pillow and floated onto the floor again. Pearl wasn’t in the room, which was also weird. Normally she stayed with him no matter what, just standing somewhere Steven could see her incase he needed her. And then his eyes fell on the door lock.

Steven had opened the lock in his dream. He knew the way to the teleport pad now, if he could avoid Pearl for long enough he could reach it. And then…

Well, Steven would work it out. He needed to get out of this building and find a way to the Zoo to rescue Lars. And then he needed to get back to Earth and find his family. Maybe they would still accept him despite… His fingers rose to his eyes and he shook his head. He just needed to find Lars.

He swiped his finger on the door lock like he had in his dream and sighed in relief when the door opened. He poked his head out of the door and moved forward quietly when he didn’t see Pearl, turning only to reclose the door. The way to the teleportation pad was simple to remember but his escape could be easily foiled if Pearl spotted him.

And at that thought, Steven realized that this was the first time since Blue had left that he had been without her (aside from when she was escorting out the Iolite). Pearl was always by his side, answering his questions and doing whatever he ordered. Even when she had done paperwork in the corner of the room she’d never left Steven alone.

Like his Pearl was always there for him. Pearl hadn’t done everything he asked, but she was always with him when he needed her. She’d always known what he needed and how to cheer him up when he was sad. He missed her. He missed everyone, but he couldn’t think about that because it made him feel worse. It was easy to just go along with this mess because he couldn’t leave anyway. He couldn’t even fly a ship.

But maybe he could find a group of rubies and… order them? He was a D…

He needed to get over this. The evidence was in his eyes, literally. The evidence of what he was. Of who… what his mom was. It didn’t matter that she’d lied again, she had (probably) lied to everyone else as well. He was a Diamond and if that would help him get home, he’d have to get used to using it.

It wouldn’t work on the Diamonds or Pearl, but on Rubies or Amethysts? It was his best hope of a plan even if the thought of getting them into trouble made him feel awful. So, he kept sneaking out because this was the first chance he’d had in weeks to leave even if part of him knew it probably wouldn’t work. And when he reached the teleporter pad, he activated it after a moments hesitation. Would Pearl get in trouble for this with Blue? He hoped not.

When he appeared, he looked at the large room with wide eyes. He needed to move, but Homeworld was beautiful even when it was terrifying. The white was almost a relief to look at after the weeks in that pink building, it was different. The Diamond Authority logo was on the floor, the new one with three triangles inside another triangle. It took him a moment to notice the other warp pads and the symbols carved into the floor next to them. Four diamonds and on each a line marked a different pad.

And then Steven realized he was being watched by an Amethyst who towered over him, with her light purple skin and white hair she looked like the Amethysts from the Zoo. And on her blue uniform was a white diamond. “Uh… hi.” Steven squeaked out, waving slowly. He hadn’t thought this far. The Amethyst saluted.

“My Diamond.” But she didn’t move, merely looking down at Steven as if waiting for him to try and leave. As she saluted Steven could see the muscle in her arms bulge. This was a proper Amethyst, tall and strong like Jasper.

Steven preferred his Amethyst with her jokes and smiles.

“Yellow Diamond has ordered us to stop you if you tried to leave.” And then Steven noticed the second Amethyst behind her, who was just as threatening as the first.

…And of course someone had been ordered to keep watch. Steven wasn’t even sure why he felt shocked. He could fight, but it wouldn’t end in his favor. Steven’s abilities had a mild tendency to not work and while that had been getting better it wasn’t a guarantee. But escape was so close…

“Do you presume to keep a Diamond against her will?” A small voice chimed in from behind them. The Amethysts turned sharply, eyes wide as they blocked Stevens view. “She should see you shattered for your presumptuous behavior.”

“M… My Clarity! Forgive us for”

“For forgetting your manners and embarrassing your Diamond? It was fated, as is your shattering if you do not move.” The voice added coldly. “I shall be reporting this if you continue this behavior.” And the Amethysts moved quickly, returning to their positions further down the room to reveal a Sapphire. The Sapphire was white, with long silver hair blocking her eye and most of her face from view, a wide white dress which hid her feet and pale white skin. But the diamond on the dress was black.

It was the Sapphire from Stevens dream and he watched in unease as she walked over and curtsied, an odd smile on her lips. “My Diamond, it was fated we would meet on this day in this room. Please follow me.”

Steven blinked slowly at the white Sapphire and when she turned he saw her gem was on her back, the white sapphire almost see-through as the light caught it. Without any options, because the Amethysts were still watching him, Steven followed the Sapphire who led him to a warp pad without the Diamond logo and activated it, teleporting them both away.

The area she took them to was empty, with towering white buildings that shone and a white… statue? In the background. The Sapphire turned to Steven and curtsied again. “Steven, your attempt to leave will fail and you will be captured. What you need is not to escape, but allies.”

“What?” The word couldn’t convey enough of Stevens confusion as the Sapphire returned to watching him blankly, still smiling.

“Allies. You wish to leave, but you don’t have anyone who will help you. I am taking you to allies. I mean… friends.” She corrected after a brief confused pause. And this still made no sense but when she turned and walked away quickly, Steven followed, suddenly very aware of how quiet everything was. In his room it had also been quiet, but this was different. Creepier.

“Are… Are you my ally?” He tried to sound hopeful.

“No. Our goals merely align for now.”

“Well… Are you going to get in trouble for this?”

“Yes.” The word sounded so final as the Sapphire said it.

“Oh.”

They continued to walk in silence after that.

Chapter Text

Homeworld was big. The white buildings appeared to tower over the pair as they walked. They gleamed in the purple light of the sunset in the alien sky. Steven had never walked the streets of Homeworld before. He’d been on this planet for weeks and he’d never left his room but even then, he knew the roads shouldn’t be empty. Where were the other gems?

“It is fated that we will not be seen.” The Sapphire said as she walked in front of him breaking Steven out of his thoughts. She never appeared to consider letting Steven walk in front of her and oddly, it made Steven feel better. It felt normal.

That comment wasn’t reassuring no matter how the Sapphire meant it however. Steven wasn’t even sure if it was a reassurance. Steven stumbled after her anyway. It felt like hours since he’d left Pink Diamond’s Personal Quarters (As the Sapphire called it after he called it a building one too many times) and he was starting to wonder if Sapphire knew what she was doing. She was weird.

As Steven thought that he narrowed his eyes to gaze at her. Something did seem off about her. But he couldn’t figure out what. And if Sapphire knew he was staring at her, she didn’t reveal it as she continued walking.

Maybe she could give him some answers?

“Why are you helping me?” He asked, eyes still narrowed. It was a bit too late to leave her now, he had no idea where they were and he had a feeling the Sapphire was taking him a confusing way on purpose so he wouldn’t leave her.

“Our needs align.” She repeated calmly.

That was not an answer. Except it was, in a way. She needed him off Homeworld and Steven wanted to leave so their needs aligned. But why would she be so desperate to help him leave that she would risk being shattered? And why would she help him find allies?

“So, who are these allies?”

“Friends.” She didn’t pause her walking as she answered. Nor did she look at Steven.

“Why did you call me Steven?”

“I foresaw you telling me to call you that. It is an odd desire, but I shall obey my Diamond’s wishes.”

Yeah, that sounded like something Steven would say. And he wouldn’t bring it up again if it meant she would keep calling him Steven.

“Can you tell me anything?”

He hadn’t walked this far in ages. Homeworld was much bigger then he’d thought, and he’d assumed it was huge to begin with.

“These allies will not take your presence well initially. Be kind and help them and you shall gain their loyalty. Also, your shield reflects.” She added as she tilted her head curiously.

And that was still a non-answer. It didn’t help Steven at all. Perhaps he should ask about something else.

“Why is your diamond black?”

“Because it is.”

And now she wasn’t even pretending to be helpful.

Steven snarled, low and threatening. The Sapphire ignored him. In fact, she had paused and was now staring distantly at the big building with a black roof. After a few minutes she continued walking as if nothing had happened. Steven had noticed the Sapphire seemed to do it often, never enough to cause problems. But definitely enough that it was a pattern.

“Why do you keep stopping like that?”

“It is fated that I will.”

…It took a few minutes for Steven to process this statement.

“Wait, are you stopping because your visions say you’ll stop, or are you seeing yourself stop because you were going to stop anyway?!” Steven tried to keep track of the question on his fingers and got very confused very quickly.

“Yes.”

It took every bit of Stevens self-control to bite back the yell of frustration that suddenly surged in his throat.

“So, the Amethysts guarding the teleporter hub were from White Diamond’s Court?” He’d never seen a White Court gem before. In fact, he wasn’t sure anyone had mentioned White Diamond around him. He’d seen her mural at the Moon Base, but that was it. It felt weird to think there was a third court that hadn’t sent any gems to Earth, not even to abduct more humans with Aquamarine and Topaz.

“You are mistaken Steven. The White Court has not had any Quartzes on Homeworld for over 1,000 years. Those Amethysts were Blue Court.”

But he’d seen the white diamond on their uniform… right? Steven would swear he had. But it had been a fleeting glance and he had been a bit busy staring at how threatening they looked… He could be wrong. There were more important questions then the Amethysts anyway.

“How did you know Pink Diamond?”

The question had been on his mind since Steven had met and recognized her. While his dream hadn’t revealed much to him, it had definitely been this Sapphire who had been in it. And this time the pause was different. Not a few moments of confusion as she stared into the air, but a deliberate halt of surprise before she turned slowly to look at Steven. What little he could see of her face was suddenly cold.

“How interesting. You do have her memories.” Her voice never lost its monotone as she made her quiet observation.

And once again she hadn’t answered the question.

“Well, I’m not going with you until you tell me something! You told me to follow you, but you won’t tell me anything! Why should I trust anything you say?” Steven crossed his arms and glared at the small gem, waiting for his answers. The Sapphire almost seemed pleased with his defiance.

“Some of her memories then, not all. Very well, Pink Diamond wished for a colony above all else. She wished to prove herself capable to her fellow Diamonds and to herself and in her desperation approached us. We… helped her with her goals.” The Sapphire grinned at Steven and as Steven stared at the wide smile. Something once again seemed very wrong but Steven just couldn’t work out what.

He blinked rapidly before narrowing his eyes. It felt like when your eyes were still fuzzy after waking up, but it was focused around the Sapphire. And then when she turned and kept walking, Steven was forced rush to catch up before he remembered he wasn’t meant to move from his spot. The Sapphire seemed almost smug when she glanced at him from over her shoulder.

Then the Sapphire dashed forward and flew over a fence covered in Gem writing that Steven couldn’t read and he followed, wondering once again if this was a trap as he landed on old and badly kept ground.

“We’re almost there.”

There was a hole in front of him, deeper than anything he could have imagined and stretching farther then he could see. It went deep into Homeworld and there was no bottom in sight. Just pitch blackness. Steven swallowed slowly, instincts telling him to flee before he realized the Sapphire was preparing to jump. The small gem had taken a few steps back and was prepared to run forward like it wasn’t a death sentence if she couldn’t stop her fall.

“Don’t worry Steven, so long as you take three steps to the left it is fated we’ll be fine.” Her voice was reassuring, like his Sapphire’s. He obeyed and sidestepped quickly.

“If we survive this, can you answer another question?”

“Very well.”

And then Sapphire ran forward and jumped, letting herself fall. Steven watched as the white speck disappeared into the inky darkness and desperately hoped his bubble and floating powers didn’t fail now. Steven shivered and prepared to follow, making sure to use his floating powers to slow himself down.

He took a few steps back and ran forward like Sapphire had, stopping at the edge as he trembled. Every ounce of common sense screamed at him to stop, that this was a bad idea. Steven closed his eyes and breathed. He was just taking a step forward. He was jus

He screamed as he fell, waving his arms wildly as he tried to slow himself down. He shouldn’t have done this! As Steven plummeted tears fell from his eyes, the usual weightless feeling from his floating evaded him no matter how much he tried he tried to summon it. Instead Steven summoned his bubble, spreading his arms to try and make the bubble sturdier so the landing didn’t crush him.

The fall felt much longer then it actually was. It felt like time had slowed for him as he remembered his family. How he hadn’t had a chance to see them again.

The bubble popped as he landed, sending him bouncing into a wall and leaving him crumpled whimpering in a small ball on the floor. He held his stomach willing down the horrified nausea as he sobbed quietly. He was ok. He was alive somehow. The pain proved that, even when it made it difficult to move from his spot.

And when he cracked open his eye he saw a spike rising from the ground. If he hadn’t sidestepped like Sapphire had advised it would have stabbed through him. He clenched his eyes shut and cried louder. He should have stayed with Pearl. He hoped she was ok, where ever she was.

The Sapphire waited for him quietly. She didn’t move to comfort, nor did she push him to get up. She just waited from a distance watching as Steven forced back his tears and stood shakily after a few moments of wishing he could remain in his little ball until someone found him. He felt light headed, his head still catching up to the fact that he hadn’t died when he’d landed.

He was in a cave. That was the best word for it. And around him were pillars that towered into the sky and broken statues that lay in pieces on the ground. There even appeared to be writing on the statues, although only some of them were intact enough for him to actually read the writing. The area seemed almost dead, completely empty aside from the two gems.

“The allies I’m taking you to now will not be able to help you immediately. However, they will in the future when you gain more of them. One thing you must remember when gathering your friends and allies is that sometimes they are most helpful at a later time.”

“I was going to ask about your diamond.” Steven muttered bitterly.

“No, you weren’t.” The reply was almost teasing.

Steven officially hated future vision. He hated himself for going along with this crazy plan. He hated Sapphire for bringing him here. He hated her for whatever she’d done to Pearl because why else would he not have seen her as he was leaving. His entire body hurt as he took a step forward, if he was still human he’d be covered in bruises and maybe broken bones. As a gem it was a severe ache that seemed into his muscles every time he moved something, but the pain was fading quickly.

“We’re close. Please, follow me.” She picked up her skirt and began walking again, fully aware Steven had no choice but to follow her now.

“…What did you do to Pearl?”

“She will be fine.”

It was a sign of how exhausted he was that he just took the answer despite how much he wanted to keep arguing, glaring in her direction as she moved calmly. And then she stopped again, looking at a rock. After a few seconds she turned.

“She will be fine.”

“You said that.” Steven continued to glare.

“…Of course, I did. My apologies Steven.”

Steven found himself continuing to follow as he hoped that this was worth it. She was a Sapphire, so she’d probably seen something. But on the other hand…

“Are you defective?” the words left Stevens lips with an almost shocking amount of bitterness. Almost immediately he began stammering because he was almost afraid that he knew what Homeworld did to defective gems. The knowledge tugged at the back of his mind. “I… I mean…”

“Are you suggesting a gem of my status is defective and that no one knows? That the Diamond who calls on me would miss such an obvious flaw in my gem?” She giggled at the sheer absurdity of the question as Steven flushed in embarrassment. The way Sapphire said it made it sound so obvious. “Fate shows itself to Sapphires in many ways. With some it is… stranger than others.”

She walked up to a rock and pushed it, revealing a hole underneath.

“A hole.” Steven gasped, pink eyes widening in shock. The Sapphire glanced at Steven and wordlessly stepped into it, disappearing from view. “Hey, wait for me!” It took him a few seconds to reach the hole and jump in.

The hole was empty when Steven landed in the small tunnel. It was a small fall and he landed on his feet, looking around for her. “Sapphire?” He called. Maybe she’d gone ahead of him by accident? No, she’d have had to have run to have disappeared this quickly. Steven groaned and placed his head in his hands. Stupid, stupid, stupid! He should have been more suspicious! He shouldn’t have let her out of his sight!

He…

Steven slid down the wall and rested his head on his arms.

He shouldn’t have come here. To Homeworld. To this stupid, annoying hole. Why had he even followed her? He didn’t even know her! He should have just… tried to find a ship. Some Rubies. He should have followed his plan instead of following a stranger. He wiped his eyes and let his forehead rest on his arms again. He shouldn’t even feel betrayed, she had said she wasn’t his ally only that she was leading him to someone.

He just let himself wallow in his self-pity because why not? He was officially done with caring.

“Are you alright?”

“Are you ok?”

Steven sniffed again.

“Who is she?”

“She’s no gem I’ve ever seen before.”

“Go ‘way.” Steven muttered. He didn’t want to deal with Sapphire any more.

“We’re just trying to help.”

“Let us help, please.”

Steven looked up slowly and the gems screamed at the sight of his eyes.

Not gems. Gem. Their gems were merged together into a Y shape. Their skin was red, and were whole up to their waist, where the body split in two. They were identical, with the exception of the coloring of their clothes which was mirrored. One half was black with a red stripe and the other side was red with a black stripe. Their faces were almost identical, like twins. She… They weren’t Sapphire.

“I’m… I’m sorry!” Steven scrambled to stand, making the odd gem back away fearfully. “It’s ok! I’m… I’m not going to hurt you!”

“A Diamond.” They whispered as one backing away quicker, holding each other’s hands in reassurance as they watched him in terror.

“No! I’m Steven!” He almost laughed in relief. Sapphire hadn’t lied, she just hadn’t stayed to help him. “Please! I’m sorry, I’m just… lost.” His voice fell as he talked, until it was almost impossible to hear. The gem… gems… the gems had stopped moving away from him, but they weren’t approaching either. “I was running and I fell and then…”

He didn’t want to mention Sapphire. She had been horrible, but she’d helped him. He didn’t want to get her in trouble but he didn’t want to lie either.

“And then you ended up here.” The head on the left offered in realization. Steven nodded as the gem walked past and pulled the rock over the hole again. When she moved past him she stuck as close to the wall as possible, hugging the wall to return to where she had been standing before. They then returned to staring.

“How odd.”

“How bizarre.”

“It’s been a weird day.” Steven admitted. He chuckled holding his head. “I was so certain I was going to die when I fell. I couldn’t… I…” He sniffed quietly, blinking back the tears as he remembered the hopelessness. Today had started so well, and now here he was. In a hole where he’d almost died again.

Blue was never going to let him out of her sight again.

“But why is a Diamond here?” One of the heads muttered to the other.

“Why is she pink?” The other whispered back. “Wasn’t Pink Diamond…”

“Why is she so small?” The first head muttered, examining Steven as closely as possible from where she stood.

“Do you think she’s…?”

“I don’t know.” They looked at Steven. “Are you off-color?” They sounded confused and slightly afraid even as Steven tried to look as harmless as possible.

Steven didn’t know that phrase and it felt like he should. The gems were watching him as they waited for an answer. “Off-color?”

“You know… like us?”

“Different. Wrong. Off-color.”

“Then… I guess I am.” He was half-human after all. “I don’t really know a lot about Homeworld.”

He only knew what Pearl told him, and he was starting to realize that wasn’t a lot. She had only told him about what it meant to be a Diamond and how one day he’d run a colony. She had never mentioned how it was actually run or what Steven having a court truly meant. Just that gems would obey him no matter what.

“Newly emerged maybe?”

“But then why not shattered?”

“Maybe we should…?”

“Is that a wise idea?”

The gems looked at each other, they appeared to have a silent conversation before nodding together. Then they looked at Steven and waved at him to follow as they began walking down the tunnel.

“Follow us. This way.”

“This way, come.”

And once again, Steven followed an unknown gem. This time he was a lot more hesitant as he walked after them. And once again it took a long time for Steven to bring himself to talk. The other gem seemed happy to walk in silence.

“E… Excuse me, where are you taking me?” He stammered finally. He was sick of only hearing his own footsteps echoing in the tunnel. Of not knowing where he was going.

“Somewhere long forgotten.”

“Where only those who don’t belong, belong.”

The words were quiet, almost sad as the gem spoke them and Steven looked down hugging himself, still without any answers. He couldn’t think of anything else to ask the gem and they didn’t ask him any either. They just traveled down the tunnels that seemed identical to Steven’s untrained eyes in uncomfortable silence.

Had the Diamonds noticed he was gone yet? What would they do to him when he was rediscovered? It was a question Steven had ignored before, but now it nagged at him. The Sapphire had said that this wasn’t going to be an escape from Homeworld, just that he’d be gathering allies. Would they shatter him for running…?

He shuddered. Maybe they’d just lock him in a building again, this time with even more guards until he agreed to obey them and start a court and a colony. That was what Pearl kept talking about after all whenever mentioning his ‘duties’.

The gem turned when he shuddered but just turned to keep looking ahead. She almost seemed to be listening nervously for something but when Steven strained his ears to hear he could only hear the dripping of water in the distance. How could Homeworld be so quiet? Where was everyone? When he’d been with the Sapphire, they hadn’t met anyone like she’d predicted but in hindsight that was odd because gems didn’t sleep. So why? How? Did Sapphire have something to do with the lack of gems?

The more he thought about her the odder she was.

When Steven left the tunnel he froze wide eyed, mouth hanging in shock.

He was in a Kindergarten. And not just a small one like the Beta Kindergarten, but this one spanned as far as he could see. Everything appeared to have been hollowed out, leaving pillars of rock where gems had once emerged.

“This is…”

Horrifying. It was awful, this is what Homeworld had wanted to do to the Earth. What they did with their colonies. What did they do with their colonies after it could no longer make gems? Did Homeworld just leave destroyed planets in their wake?

This was the Homeworld Pearl and Garnet had told him about. Spreading everywhere and leaving death in their wake. Homeworld must be like the picture on the Moonbase that Peridot had shown. Hollowed out with holes all over the surface. Maybe he could ask P… Maybe he could ask someone at some point. It would be interesting to learn about.

The gem was watching as Steven stared numbly at the Kindergarten. One of the heads opened their mouths to talk, but the other shook her head to silence them.

He had to get home. He had to get to Earth. And to do that he had to keep moving.

Chapter Text

Blue Diamond paced furiously, trying to understand what was happening. And to the left of her was her Pearl, who now wore a slightly longer skirt and slightly longer hairstyle. Both of these changes were caused by her recent poofing. Which had to have something to do with Pink’s disappearance, It was almost impossible for the two to not be linked.

The only thing that had saved Pearl from being shattered by Blue Diamond herself was how quickly she had alerted a guard to what had happened when she had reformed. According to her report she had escorted out the Iolite and when she had started to walk back to Pink’s room, something had stabbed her in the back disrupting her form. She reformed an unknown amount of time later and had immediately left to find a guard, only to find the teleportation hub empty. The Iolite had been quickly found innocent of any wrong doing, having gone to her work station after leaving Pink and beginning her work.

So, whoever had taken Pink had been in her home without anyone noticing for an unknown amount of time and had managed to poof Pearl without alerting Pink that anything was wrong. They had then taken her without leaving any trace of a fight, which should be impossible. This someone or more likely a group also had to have something to do with Blue Diamond not receiving her Pearl’s reports on Pink’s odd behavior and dreams over the previous weeks.

And they had also managed to remove the guards from the teleportation hub.

The guards listed for duty had received messages from ‘Yellow Diamond’ herself who had changed the roster, removing them from duty and all attempts at confirming this information had been confirmed by some highly confused Peridots who had received similar notifications. The Amethysts reported being replaced by some Jaspers from Yellow’s Court and going to their cubbies rest. However, there had been no Jaspers guarding the teleportation hub. Iolite 4L3 Cut 6A had reported seeing Amethysts but had missed which court they were from due to being lost in thought, planning what she would need to do for Pink’s quarters.

Yellow had immediately contacted White about Pink and, when White hadn’t answered, had sent out her Quartzes to search, as had Blue. It was not how they’d expected to reintroduce Pink to their Courts, but that could be dealt with when Pink was found unshattered and whole.

Please, let her be found intact.

But if the teleportation pad had been activated, there was no record of where it had teleported to. The Peridot who ran the security of Homeworld’s teleportation systems had apparently checked repeatedly in increasing levels of frustration before reporting the system had been hacked from an unknown area on Homeworld.

There were no leads of where she could be. Nothing.

How could there still be rebels remaining on Homeworld after all this time? How had Yellow missed rebel sympathizers when she’d searched 5,000 years ago? How many gems could be involved for a plot of this scale? Even in the height of the rebellion Rose Quart… The rebels would have struggled to pull this off without anyone noticing.

Blue should have taken Pink to get her guard from the Zoo sooner. It would not have stopped her current kidnapping considering how organized the enemy was, but it might have slowed them down. It might have done something.

No. Blue was a Diamond. She had to be a Leader in Homeworld’s time of need. She couldn’t break at the first sign that something was going wrong. Blue couldn’t keep sitting back for Yellow to do all the work. She had done that for 5,000 years while Yellow had supported her in her time of grief and now the threat was on Homeworld. And the threat had taken Pink.

So, she had to think and plan. Panicking would only slow her down, make her act rashly and that was what the enemy wanted. Yellow was right, she couldn’t be involved in the search. Homeworld couldn’t risk losing another Diamond now. Yellow needed her.

But stars, she had to do something.

She needed to summon her Sapphires. She needed to send out her court to assist in the search. She had to organize her Peridots to locate the hacker. But she didn’t know where to focus the search, Homeworld was too big to just… point and hope. She needed more information.

Pink must be so scared…

When Blue caught the rebels, shattering would be a kindness compared to what she would do to them. She would make them regret taking Pink. She would make them wish they had never turned their back on the Diamond Authority. She would remind them why the Diamond Authority was both respected and feared.

Blue would make them regret that they ever considered her weak.

But she had been weak. Yellow had been running her court, keeping her colonies organized and efficient while she went to Earth and the Zoo to grieve. What had Blue been doing for the past five thousand years when her own Pearl had been doing more for the Blue Court then its Diamond had? How must her Court have felt, to be ignored by its Diamond?

So Blue had no choice, she needed to act like a Diamond now. She needed to be the leader her court needed. She had to remember that Pink needed her now, that Pink would need help when starting the Pink Court.

But for that to happen, Pink needed to be saved.

“Pearl, summon a Sapphire.” Blue ordered with a sharp wave of her hand.

The Sapphire would be able to advise Blue on the best course of action to take. But there was still something that made no sense, what were they hoping to gain from this? Pink had no court yet. No colonies. And the rebels had to know that the Diamond Authority wouldn’t listen to any demands that were made. So why risk angering the Diamonds and bringing attention to their existence? What was so appealing that they would willingly risk everything?

Yellow had always been better then Blue at planning. Yellow was probably aware of what the rebels were after and was acting to stop them at that very moment.

Her Sapphire had arrived at some point during Blue Diamond’s musing and were now waiting for her questions. The small blue gem was stood patiently next to Blue Diamond’s Pearl. Good.

“Sapphire. Pink Diamond has been taken, will she be found?”

Even the task of asking the question made her cold. What would she do if the Sapphire said no? What if she had failed Pink again? Or what if the Sapphire was wrong, like that Sapphire on Earth so many…

No, Blue couldn’t question the accuracy of her Sapphires. Otherwise, what was the point in keeping them? Or seeking their advice? That Sapphire had been an anomaly, a defect who had been destroyed on Earth like all the other rebels.

The Sapphire took the question in her stride, no doubt having already seen the return of Pink Diamond and her court. “My Diamond, I foresee that Pink Diamond shall be found unshattered and whole by a Pearl. I cannot see where she will be found however, only that she will be returned within the next few days.”

How strange. A Pearl. Another oddity in this mess.

“And the rebels who took her?”

“They will not be found. It would appear they will just…” The Sapphire paused before continuing. “That they will just let Pink Diamond go.”

“And the Pearl? What Court does she hail from?”

And suddenly the Sapphire looked shaken. “Her diamond is black, my Diamond.”

“That will be all.” Blue waved her away and turned so her face couldn’t be seen. The Sapphire muttered a quiet ‘My Diamond’ and left swiftly, aware of Blue Diamond’s sudden fury.

The Black Court. It had been a long time since they had become involved in a Diamond’s affairs. How had White Diamond even become aware of Pink’s kidnapping? She hadn’t answered Yellow’s almost desperate attempts to inform her.

“Pearl, contact White Diamond. And don’t stop until she answers.” Ice almost hung from the words as she said them. Her Pearl quickly summoned a communicator from her gem and twisted it so it was glowing white.

Had White Diamond sent the Pearl or was the Pearl acting independently from her owner? Either way, Blue was going to get answers. Whether or not White wanted to give them.

It was not surprising when White didn’t answer the first or even third time unfortunately.

White answered on the eleventh attempt. Blue was far too incensed to care that it wasn’t White Diamond’s Pearl who answered as she snatched the screen from her Pearl to glare at the matriarch of Homeworld. White waited lazily for Blue to speak, working on something off screen.

“Pink is missing.” She snapped. How could White appear so calm about this?! Pink had been taken!

White Diamond moved so she was leaning back, white eyes gazing a little to the left of Blue’s face as she appeared to think. Her eyes were unfocused again, mouth curled slightly in annoyance.

Even through the communicator it was obvious how large White Diamond was. In person she was easily taller than Yellow, with white skin and white eyes. On her forehead was her gem, a small clear diamond resting above her eyes under white hair which spiked out around her face. White Diamond’s cloak hung from the protruding shoulder pads on her shoulders, sparkling delicately as it caught the light. And barely visible between the edges of the cloak was a black diamond insignia, standing out on white robes that appeared to be made from multiple layers of fabric.

“I know. Yellow hasn’t stopped trying to contact me about it. I think her Pearl has sent me at least thirty notifications.” She added lazily, appearing to continue to scroll through a screen Blue couldn’t see. “Correction, twenty-nine attempts. Another just came through. I’m working on it, so you can stop calling. And while you’re at it, tell Yellow to stop calling. I have actual work to do.”

And then White hung up, uncaring about Blue Diamonds fury or how close to crying she was. The communicator shattered in Blue’s fist and her Pearl backed away quickly.

“Pearl, contact Yellow.”

Yellow should be aware of Sapphire’s vision, not that they were going to stop searching in the meantime.

“And include Aquamarines in the search.”

It was a pity they didn’t have a picture of Pink’s new appearance, but her eyes would be enough. No gem could fake a Diamonds eyes. And personally, Blue wasn’t willing to trust White to ‘work on it’. White had a tendency to be flighty and uncaring.

Blue could never trust White after skipping the trial of Pink’s murder no matter what excuses Yellow had made for her.

"My Diamond, we've just received a report of an unplanned harvesting." Pearl was staring at a report she must have just received, blatantly horrified by the contents. "Two Amethysts were harvested a few hours ago. Their shards were found by the Hematite running the facility." It had to be linked to the rebels. Too much was happening at once for it to be any other way.

But none of it made sense.

Chapter Text

The walk through the Kindergarten was quiet. Everything was quiet lately. Earth had always been full of noise and life but Homeworld was lifeless. Steven was certain that if he could still feel cold he would feel the chill in the air as he breathed. It couldn’t be warm down here, so far from the sun. The gem was still walking, glancing at Steven over her shoulder. She didn’t seem bad, just really nervous about Steven’s presence. Which Steven happily accepted, gems just obeying him was weird no matter how nice it felt.

The gem led him to a hole in a wall and Steven froze. Above the hole was the Diamond symbol again, with a line marking the bottom diamond. So, this place was linked to Pink Diamond? But Pink hadn’t had a court in his dreams…

The gem whistled loudly shocking Steven out of his thoughts.

“We’re back!”

“We’re here! It’s ok to come out!” The gem yelled happily.

Steven stayed near the door, twisting his hands nervously. What if they didn’t like him? Or he scared them like he had the gem in front of him. Once again, he wished he could change his eyes like his mom had. It would be nice to have them as his normal shade of brown.

“Oh, thank goodness… you weren’t followed right? You’re sure you weren’t…” The gem’s eyes fell on Steven and she screamed, returning to the hole she’d been hiding in as fast as Steven could flinch. He hadn’t even got a good look at her before she’d disappeared, only that she had four arms, four eyes and a ruffle around her neck. And she was probably pink or red.

“It’s ok Rhodonite, we brought her here.”

“She’s friendly.”

“She’s a Diamond.” Rhodonite replied from inside the hole. Steven was fairly sure she had dug it a bit deeper into the wall at some point to make hiding easier. Her voice sounded really far away.

“Everyone! A wonderous vision has appeared before me!” An orange Sapphire had somehow walked next to Steven without her or him noticing. She was small like other Sapphires, in an orange dress with a pink overskirt. “The twins of Rutile will bring a stranger to our place of hiding.” She then stood there smiling happily next to Steven.

“We know Padparadscha… GET AWAY FROM HER!”

Apparently, the gem in the hole had peeked out long enough to realize Padparadscha was stood next to Steven, not noticing the apparent danger. Steven politely backed away from the orange gem, who just kept standing there smiling. Perhaps the other Sapphire hadn’t been lying about not being defective…

“We found her hiding in a tunnel near the surface.” Rutile continued to explain into the hole, gesturing in Steven’s direction.

“Um… I’m not….” Steven began quietly. He considered trying to explain gender pronouns to the gems and just let it drop. It was a weird argument and Steven was fairly sure they wouldn’t understand what he wanted anyway.

“Let… me… see…” A voice drawled slowly from above him. Steven looked up to see a gem smiling down at him. She reminded him of a really big blue, six eyed caterpillar with four arms and (from what Steven could see) six legs. And she had at least six gems on her body and face. A fusion then, a very big fusion.

Steven stared, pink eyes wide as she moved closer and looked at his face. “A Diamond…” She muttered curiously, moving to look at his gem. “But… this gem… doesn’t look… like a… Diamond…” She mused to herself as Steven stayed completely still. “And… you’re so… small… for… one…” She added moving to look at his face again.

“That’s what I said!”

“I said the same thing!” The Rutile twins grinned from the side as the fusion spoke, happy someone agreed with them.

“She’s a Diamond?!” Padparadscha yelped loudly, holding her face in shock. The orange Sapphire stared at Steven as if only just seeing him causing Steven to notice her gem was on the back of her left hand. It was an odd observation considering the craziness surrounding him but it felt oddly relevant somehow.

The gem was still hiding in her hole despite the rutile twin’s efforts to lure her out with reassurances and mild pleading so Steven looked the still frozen Padparadscha instead. She was still stood in shock with her hands on her face, she never seemed to notice that Steven was watching her.

So, Steven looked at the big gem again. “Hi, I’m Steven and I’m half-gem.” He introduced with a smile while pointing at the gem. It shone, catching what little light there was in the Kindergarten. “My mom was Ro…” He paused. He kept saying that even when he knew it was wrong. It was hard fourteen years of being told she was a Quartz. “My Mom was Pink Diamond.” He finished, looking sadly at his gem. He still didn’t know how to feel, but he needed to accept it. One day he would, just… not now. Saying it didn’t really feel like accepting it. It was just a distant fact that still sounded wrong in his head.

“So… that’s why… you look… so unusual…” The fusion said kindly, voice slow and reassuring. There were no salutes or compliments. She just accepted it as fact and waited to let Steven keep talking.

These were the gems Sapphire had promised as allies. As friends. And surrounded by them Steven found he couldn’t be happier, even when one still cowered in a hole in a wall and another was still getting over the shock of him being a Diamond.

“Rhodonite, everything will be ok.”

“Just come out and meet her.” The twins reassured patiently from in front of him.

“She says she’s a Steven.” The first head added with a small laugh.

“I… If you’re sure…” Rhodonite started to crawl out, glanced at Steven pointing at his gem and scurried back into the hole again. Steven was beginning to think she wasn’t going to leave that hole anytime soon and that him trying to help would just add fuel to the fire. He moved slightly away from her hiding place in a mild attempt to help.

It wasn’t helping much.

“Here comes Fluorite!” Padparadscha predicted happily. She sounded completely different from the Colorless Sapphire, who almost always spoke with a monotone. In fact, Padparadscha sounded more like his Sapphire, who had always managed to sound optimistic. At least, he was pretty sure Garnet’s optimism came from Sapphire.

“Heh, so you’re Fluorite?” Steven asked the fusion who nodded slowly. There was an odd peace to her movements when she moved back to give Steven more room now that she had finished her observations. “So, why are you all… here?” He gestured at the Kindergarten and everyone stopped to look at him, which caused some amusing positions since Rhodonite halfway out of her hole and Rutile was helping her leave.

“Well…”

“Isn’t it obvious? We’re off color! And so are you!” The Rhodonite had pulled herself completely out of the hole and had started using her four arms to brush herself free from the dirt. She paused for a second in fear, realizing how she had just spoken to a Diamond and when Steven didn’t move continued the act of brushing the dirt off her black dress.

“I… don’t see anything wrong with you.” Steven admitted after a pause of uncertainty. And he didn’t, no matter how much he stared at them in confusion he couldn’t think of why they would be off-color. Aside from Padparadscha, who he could understand completely if he remembered Pearl’s lectures correctly.

“Are you kidding?! Look at us! You resemble an organic, me and Fluorite are fusions and Padparadscha can only predict the past! What court would want gems like us?!” The Rhodonite finished with a wail. Steven blinked very slowly as the fusion looked so broken at her declaration before breathing slowly and appearing to smile sheepishly. “I mean, I’m not that bad. How many gems are you now Fluorite?” She added with a sad smile to Fluorite who chuckled slowly, low and calming.

“Six, potentially… more if… I find the… right gem…” Fluorite smiled contently as she moved to show off the gems on her body. From the distance, Steven couldn’t see what gems they were. He was fairly sure Rhodonite was a Pearl and a Ruby however which was interesting. But as Fluorite said the word six, Steven found his eyes widening in wonder.

“That’s amazing!” He breathed, the diamond of his pupil clearly visible as his pink eyes sparkled in joy. Fluorite blushed with an uncertain look at the compliment. “I’m serious, back home the biggest fusion I’d ever seen was Alexandrite and she was made up of three… no, four gems!” It was easy to forget that Garnet was made up of Ruby and Sapphire in his excitement, which was rude of him. “And she’s really big like you and really strong! So, I think you’re amazing!” He added seeing how uncomfortable Fluorite looked in an attempt to cheer her up.

Fluorites blushed a little more, looking a little less upset. But not by much.

“It’s… not nice of you to make fun of us like that…” Rhodonite muttered hugging herself.

“But I’m serious! I think you’re beautiful!” Steven added watching as Rhodonite hugged herself tighter with both arms. Somehow, he must have upset both gems without realizing. “And back home, there was a gem named Garnet and she was made up of a Ruby and a Sapphire! And Garnet’s amazing as well. In fact, you’re all amazing!” He finished loudly, waving his arms in their direction in his determination to make them realize how great they all were. “Even Padparadscha and her ability to see the past is amazing!”

“I predict Steven making us all uncomfortable.” Padparadscha commented blandly from the side. The look on her face was so unimpressed Colorless Sapphire could have worn it. Steven whined sadly.

“But it’s true! I think you’re all great and… and… And I’d have you all in my court!” He finished again.

The group gasped loudly and Steven suddenly realized he had no idea of the weight behind those words. To him, they were words. He didn’t even have a court to invite them all to join, but he didn’t regret it. He would gladly accept these gems into his court, whatever that involved.

“Us… in a court…?”

“Us join a court…?” The Rutile twins muttered looking at each other wide eyed. “But that’s impossible…”

“Me… A… Court…?” Fluorite repeated slowly, all her eyes blinking rapidly. None of the eyes blinked at the same time.

Padparadscha stood silently for a few minutes before gasping loudly, covering her mouth with her hands. She had no words, however she started sniffing desperately like she was about to cry.

“Yeah, a court! I’d have you all in my court! …Whatever that means, Pearl never really explained it beyond it being my duty as a Diamond…” Steven admitted blushing in embarrassment. Rhodonite gulped at his admission, still shocked.

“It would mean… that we belong. Helping Homeworld.” Rhodonite admitted.

“A Diamond to lead us.”

“To follow a Diamond.” The Rutile twins continued holding each other’s hands again.

“We… would be… accepted…” Fluorite finished, sounding heartbroken.

“Me in a court?!” Padparadscha yelped in horror. “But I have no function! What would I even do?”

“Well, I’m part Diamond and if I can run a court, why can’t you all join mine?! We can all not belong together! And it would be great! We could tell stories and sing and dance, and you could live with me where no one cares about fusions or defects! And we’d all have each other!”

The group had nothing to say, staring at Steven like he’d just proclaimed they were all free to live on the surface like normal gems. Which, to be fair to them, he had. It was more then they could ever have dreamed of, life without fear or disgust. Steven had no idea what he was offering them, no idea what them being in his court truly meant. But he would take them in anyway because he didn’t care about defects or fusions. He cared about his friends, even ones he had only just met.

He would form the Pink Court for them.

(Now, leading. That was another matter entirely. Steven still wasn’t sure about running a colony and he’d rather his friends not run off to be shattered on his say so.)

But for now, he stood proudly with his declaration because he meant every word. For once he looked like the Diamond he was, the Diamond everyone had wished he would be.

The moment was destroyed by a loud mechanical noise which made Rhodonite grab Padparadscha and run into a hole. Fluorite also went to hide behind a rock column in the middle of the Kindergarten and Steven, having learned after many moments of stupidity that you always copied everyone else when they started hiding went into a separate hole and hid. Just in time to see three metal cones with red eyes float into the Kindergarten and begin scanning random areas with a red light.

”Your shield reflects.”

Steven summoned his shield and threw himself at the odd metal contraptions as he saw them begin to scan where the Rutile twins were hiding. He had no idea what happened if it scanned them but knowing Homeworld it would be bad. Potentially, fatally so.

He rammed one into the wall, crushing it into the rock with the force of his lunge, before turning to block the scan of the second one. His gem lit up like a light and Steven barely had time to reposition his shield before the machine fired a beam at him. It reflected the beam onto a nearby wall.

“Steven, I have had the most wonderous vision!” And once again Padparadscha had walked into danger without realizing. And this time there was actual danger, not just standing next to a stranger she’d never seen before. Steven had a feeling he now knew how Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet had felt when he went up to Peridot and introduced himself with a smile. “Your shield is reflective and can defend you from the robonoids!” She finished as she was scanned and her gem began to glow white. Steven jumped in front of her and reflected the light beam back at the machine, blowing it up.

Leaving one left.

That one Steven flew at without thinking and rammed the rim of his shield into the lens, disabling it permanently. He saw a spark before it exploded, sending him into a wall. And as he hit the wall, half of his back hit a hole instead of the edges. If he’d been a human, it would have broken his spine due to the force of the explosion forcing his spine in two as it hit an uneven surface. As a gem, his form collapsed in on itself and he went into his gem as a flash of light.

Steven only realized what had happened when he was once again in the room of light.

It was odd, it hadn’t hurt like when he’d been crushed by Blue. There had been pain when he’d fallen but that pain had passed abnormally quickly. Steven sighed, perhaps there were perks to having a body of light. It helped to look at positives at least. Like how he could now change his body.

The first thing he did was remove the cloth hanging from his belt. It had been pretty and a cool thought but it was annoying in practice. He then tried to change his eyes back to brown. He stopped with a pain fill yelp when it began to feel like something had stabbed him repeatedly in his pupils.

So, he was stuck with diamond eyes and he wasn’t going to alter his gems position unless he had no other choice. Instead Steven considered his outfit. Garnet had always said to go with what felt natural, that no one could influence your decision because it was yours.

So, Steven stopped thinking about his mom and Pink Diamond and instead wondered what he wanted. What Steven would happily wear no matter what.

For a moment he considered the Diamonds. Not Pink, but Yellow and Blue. He thought about how formal and powerful they looked, Yellow’s suit (especially her coat) and Blue’s dress. They were both beautiful, even if Steven was beginning to think the Diamonds were also almost completely insane. It was becoming difficult for Steven to continue to hate them, he was slightly worried his dreams were causing his confused emotions. But Steven didn’t want to look like them. He wanted to be Steven.

But he did remember when his Dad had taken him to that fancy hotel with Pearl and Steven had worn that suit. He’d felt… smart wearing it even if it had been slightly uncomfortable. But if it was part of his form, it wouldn’t be uncomfortable would it?

So, he changed his clothes into the tuxedo from that night, except this one was a rose pink where it had been black. The shirt was such a light shade of pink that it looked white unless you looked at it closely. And around his gem was a small diamond hole.

The diamond shaped hole was quickly changed to be a star because Steven still wasn’t completely comfortable with his Diamond status yet. He skipped the hat and the bow tie. He also skipped the fancy shoes, opting instead to keep his white sandals. It’s not like gems knew what a proper suit looked like anyway. He even lengthened the back of the coat so it had two tails hanging from it like Pearl’s suit had had.

It looked much fancier then his previous outfit. More like a leader and, like he had assumed, was actually very comfortable to wear.

Besides, at this point he was pretty sure he was probably going to be poofed again sometime soon anyway so why not change his outfit when he had the chance?

It was after he chose to reform that he realized that it was now impossible to hide that he’d been poofed. Blue was going to kill him if she ever caught him. Or perhaps she’d just lock him up, which she was going to do anyway if she caught him so it probably wasn’t worth worrying about anymore.

Reforming was like being weightless before being crushed into a proper form. In the time it took Steven to realize what he was feeling he was on his feet looking at a tearful Rhodonite who was knelt next to him.

“I predict Steven will reform soon!” Padparadscha announced from across the Kindergarten.

“Welcome… back…” Fluorite was smiling again, moving so she wasn’t towering over Steven as much.

And of course, in his rush to change his clothes Steven had forgotten to see if he could make himself taller. He’d fix it next time.

“Hi guys! How do I look?” Steven twirled happily, showing them his new outfit. The suit still looked and felt amazing even in physical form. The gems made slightly confused and appreciative noises as he showed them, except for Padparadscha who announced cheerfully Steven would change his form a bit after he was finished showing off.

But when he settled on the floor he sighed, because they were still stuck in a Kindergarten with no hope of escape. And returning to the Diamonds didn’t hold much appeal to Steven either. He was enjoying his time with the off colors. They were actually nice and they didn’t fawn over him. And they answered his questions.

And with that Steven paused. They answered questions. Pearl had been selective about what she told him (or maybe she had just missed some facts when explaining other more important facts) and Sapphire had refused to tell him anything. But maybe with these gems…

No, he wasn’t going to bring up the weird diamond. He was having fun. No Pearl lecturing him, he wasn’t stuck in a room unless Pearl opened the door and these gems weren’t treating him weirdly. They were acting like they accepted Steven.

Not Rose Quartz. Not Pink Diamond.

Steven.

And Steven didn’t want that to stop, so instead he sat back and hummed a little tune to himself as the group talked happily in their hiding place. What would they think if he taught them how to sing ‘I’m a Star’? He would have to show them at some point. Or maybe 'Giant Woman', Fluorite might like it. Perhaps they could teach him some Homeworld songs as well.

That would be nice.

Chapter Text

What were the kidnappers hoping to gain?

It was meant to be a simple question. For them to risk so much there had to be a goal. A reason. And for a (potentially) rebel group this organized, they had to have an intelligent leader. There had to be an aristocrat running them. An Emerald or a Hessonite. Maybe an Amazonite. And they had to have access to a Sapphire and Peridots. Perhaps even Rubies or Quartzes for grunt work. There had to be a leader and a goal for the group to follow. No doubt the goal was treasonous, but what could it be?

Yellow found herself musing on those thoughts as she ordered the search parties on the screen in front of her. She was sat in the Yellow Court Room on her throne, trying to keep the search effort as controlled as possible. It had to be done in a specific way, she couldn’t risk worrying Homeworld. Reducing the efficiency anymore then the search was already going to. The priority was Pink’s retrieval, however Homeworld needed to keep functioning in the long run. Everything had to run as normal.

She reminded herself of that whenever she wished she could be out searching with her forces. The appearance of a Diamond joining the search would be counterproductive however. So, she needed to think. To lead from a distance.

Without a goal, it would be harder to understand what they were going to do with Pink. Why kidnap her if the goal was to shatter her? The thought made cold shivers run down Yellow. It could be an attempt at reprogramming her loyalties, an act which hadn’t been seen on Homeworld for hundreds of thousands of years.

Stabbed from behind, reforming on an unknown colony. Screams of fury as she struggles against the bonds holding her down. Laughs and jeers as they watch.

Yellow shook herself from the old memories, thoughts she hadn’t remembered for an age. This was nothing like then. No, White claimed she had destroyed the knowledge thoroughly so they couldn’t be planning that. But, Yellow had thought that and Pink now had no memories, Yellow wasn’t even sure if Pink would still be loyal to Homeworld or her Court. That was if Pink was telling the truth and she did have no memories. If White was telling the truth and she had destroyed the information to the best of her ability. There were to many ifs for Yellow’s comfort. And in regards to the kidnapping and retrieval it wasn’t important. She hoped.

But what else could the rebels want? Shattering was clearly not the goal, or Blue’s Pearl would have been shattered as well. Instead they had left her gem dissipated in Pink’s Quarters so she could reform. A risky and, honestly, a very inefficient move. Shattering would have been more efficient, it would have taken longer for the alarm to be raised. They would have had more time.

The rebels had to know that. It was an obvious observation. So, whatever they were planning didn’t require a lot of time. The worst-case scenario did. It took days to reprogram a gems loyalty and memories, sometimes weeks.

But still, what was their end goal if not that? Pink didn’t have anything to offer. No Court. No gems. No colonies. She had never even left her quarters, no doubt due to Blue and her Pearl’s overprotectiveness. They had probably gone out of their way to stop her leaving the buildings safety. It was not something Yellow was complaining about however, in theory it made it easier to observe her. To see if she did anything suspicious. To see if she spoke to anyone she shouldn’t (or if a certain group of gems tried to interfere with Pink’s affairs again despite Yellow warning them off…)

In practice, this was made a lot harder due to a lack of reports from a certified gem who knew what to look for. It was also made harder by how something had been stopping Blue Pearl’s reports, which should be impossible. It should have been obvious.

But Yellow and Blue hadn’t noticed. And Yellow was more then a little worried about how they hadn’t noticed something so basic.

The obvious answer that came to mind was White. This entire debacle was something her… gems… could pull off. Disrupted reports. Missing gems. False reports. Kidnapping.

”Now my Diamond, who holds your loyalty?” Pointed teeth as the green gem smiles mockingly at her, small device in hand. Black diamond insignia standing out on green uniform.

She ignored the intrusive thoughts once again. This was nothing like then. She had made sure of it. She had to remain focused, organized. She had to remain in control. She had to focus on the facts in front of her.

But White had nothing to gain from this. She already had access to Pink. Even Yellow had been forced to agree that it was best that White be allowed to meet Pink.

Just… with supervision. With Yellow in the room. And maybe a few Quartzes who were unquestionably loyal to Yellow. And a Pearl writing everything from a distance.

But White was still getting what she wanted despite everything, Pink Diamond. White had been the one who wanted the Pink Court to flourish the most, so why would she kidnap her? There was nothing to gain and everything to lose. The very stability of Homeworld would be destroyed if it was revealed White had been behind this. The cohesion of the Courts would crumble. At the very least, a civil war could emerge.

So, it probably wasn’t White. While there wasn’t a lot she cared about lately, she did want what was best for Homeworld.

Another fact was that Yellow had been busy, even with Blue returning to her duties Yellow was still doing the bulk of the work with running Homeworld and organizing the response for the Cluster when it emerged. It would have been far too easy to miss a few absent reports. It was Blue missing the absence which was troubling, with her fixation with Pink it was doubtful she would miss that her Pearl hadn’t been reporting to her. Unless Blue had been so relieved with Pink’s return she’d just started ignored anything that seemed wrong. Unfortunately, that was far more likely than it should be for a Diamond.

But that line of thought wouldn’t help Yellow with the search either.

There was only a mild guarantee Pink was still on Homeworld, according to reports no ships had been seen leaving the planet. So, they had to focus on the idea that Pink was still on Homeworld. Yellow wasn’t sure where however, it was still an entire planet to search. If she could work out what the rebels were after, maybe she could figure out where Pink was being held.

“Pearl, has White answered yet?” She sighed halfheartedly as she rechecked how the search was going. More then likely, White was dealing with it in her own way without talking to her fellow Diamonds. It wasn’t the first time she’d dealt with something like this after all. It would still be nice if her mentor would actually talk to her as Yellow worked. Yellow hadn’t sought White’s advice in at least millennium. She hadn’t wanted or needed to, she’d run her colonies to the benefit of Homeworld and had made sure White had no reason to come anywhere near them.

But just once it would be nice for White to cooperate with her. Even Blue was cooperating and not running out to save Pink, so surely White could at least respond to Yellow’s attempts to contact her.

Yellow wasn’t even sure why she was still trying.

“No, my Diamond.” Pearl replied quietly, typing as she sent another notification. “However, there is a message from Blue Diamond. She says it’s urgent.”

The problem is, with Blue everything related to Pink is urgent. And it was, just… not important enough for Blue to message repeatedly for updates. And that’s probably what this message was, another request for an update. Yellow ignored the urge to ignore the message.

She wasn’t White.

“Read it.”

“Blue Diamond says that she consulted with a Sapphire. The Sapphire reports that Pink will be found intact in an unknown area by a Pearl from the Black Court. Two unplanned Quartzes have been found harvested. Also, …White says to stop calling.” Yellow Pearl added after an affronted pause. Yellow could empathize.

So that’s how White was dealing with this. How like her.

Well, Yellow wasn’t calling off the search effort because White had sent out her group of defects… (No, not defects, a Diamond couldn’t be defective) her group to search for Pink and deal with the rebels themselves. They had probably had something to do with this to begin with, Yellow just wasn’t sure what or why. Why help Pink leave the safety of the Diamonds? All this did was remove her from White’s control.

Where could they have taken her which didn’t have any security? Any surveillance?

Yellow threaded her fingers together in thought, considering the new train of thought.

Somewhere abandoned. Probably old and unguarded, but also easy to access.

Yellow Diamond turned to the screen and redirected the search towards Homeworld’s Kindergarten.

Chapter Text

The Kindergarten was filled with quiet voices. It was almost instinctual to keep your voice down, even when the machines that hunted them didn’t appear to register sound. All the gems who were hiding in the small cavern appeared odd by Homeworld standards. A physically deformed Rutile, a small, organic looking Diamond, a Sapphire who could only see the past and two fusions. Indeed, anywhere else such a group could never exist. If only because of how Homeworld would destroy them if they were discovered. One of these gems refused to let such facts keep his mood down however.

“I can’t help it if I make a scene, stepping out of my hot pink limousine…” Steven sang happily, doing a small dance to the tune. The Off Colors were all watching in either amusement or confusion as they watched. Rhodonite had settled on both, her face caught somewhere between desperation for him to be quiet and an eagerness to watch the odd display. “I’m turning heads and I’m stopping traffic…”

“What’s a limo…zeen?” One of the Rutile’s asked as Steven paused to breathe. She and her twin were chuckling behind their hands as Steven continued his silly little dance, complete with posing dramatically on a convenient rock. As far as Steven was concerned, he was rocking his new suit and he felt great as he did so.

“Oh, it’s a type of car. People travel around in them on Earth.” Steven laughed as he grabbed the nearby Padparadscha’s hand and tried to twirl her. She didn’t move for a few seconds and Steven just laughed harder as he twirled himself instead under her hand instead. It required very careful ducking to keep the momentum going without falling. Padparadscha twirled after he let her hand go and smiled at where Steven had been standing a few second before.

Earth?!” Rhodonite gasped loudly over the groups sudden mutters of shock. She was scared really easily Steven had noticed, worrying every time someone even got close to the hole that was their door. Sometimes she fussed near the entrance, trying to stop the gems going near it.

“But Earth was destroyed!”

“It was shattered!” The Rutile twins added.

“You’ve… been… to Earth…? How…?” Fluorite asked wide eyed, hands moving over her mouth slowly.

Steven just stood there blinking at them until the muttering stopped. He was becoming used to them asking questions about his home, but this was the first time they’d tried to tell him that Earth was destroyed. Steven was fairly sure he had told them he was from Earth at some point, it seemed like a pretty important piece of information to share.

Apparently not.

“I lived on Earth with my family. Back when I was still hu… organic. I lived with my family. With Pearl, Garnet, Amethyst and my Dad. And there was Connie, Peridot, Lapis and Pumpkin.” Weird, it didn’t hurt as much to talk about them now. “And it was full of life. It was amazing.”

And he’d left it all willingly for his friends’ safety.

“And it had trees that changed color in the seasons, animals that scurried around making cute noises and the people were great. They were always really friendly, and… and…”

No, it still hurt. Talking about his home planet had ripped off the numbing scab covering the emotions and now it felt raw and painful again. He paused to breathe, pushing back the awful feelings inside him. There was no point getting sad now.

“And in the mornings, I w… would get a doughnut and I’d eat with Amethyst an… and then…” He stopped, unable to finish the sentence. Amethyst would sit with him and eat the bag as he ate his doughnut, making jokes as she chewed.

“But Earth was destroyed by the Diamond attack.”

“The Diamonds destroyed the Earth.” The Rutile twins insisted, only to be interrupted by Padparadscha going “The Earth?!” loudly. She looked horrified like the rest of the gems, it had just taken her longer to realize why.

“Why would gems still live on Earth if the Diamonds could come back to destroy it?” Rhodonite mused aloud before realizing that Steven was a Diamond who claimed to have lived on Earth. “Sorry. Was Earth your colony?” She added. “Does your Court live there?”

“No, I don’t have a colony. I don’t have a Court either, except for you guys.” Steven still liked that feeling, calling them his Court. It felt nice. “But gems live happily on Earth anyway. Where everyone can be themselves and not have to be afraid.”

“That… sounds… wonderful…” Fluorite sighed wistfully, her hand now rested on her cheek longingly and not in horror. To them, it probably sounded like a nice but unbelievable story.

“Yeah, it was great. But we can all go together, we just need to find a ship and we can go!” Steven wilted as he remembered. “No, the Diamonds are going to be after me. It would be too obvious.” He sighed as an afterthought. Steven was still pretty sure Yellow was avoiding him, but at the very least Blue would be searching for him.

She’d missed Pink for so long, losing Steven would probably feel like losing her all over again. Blue wouldn’t let him leave willingly.

But Steven needed to think about his friends as well now, and if they were going to be safe they needed to leave Homeworld. To go to Earth where they could be free. And Steven could… lead? No, he could be with everyone. His friends and his family.

They wouldn’t leave him because he’d changed. Steven knew they wouldn’t. First, he had to get to the Zoo and rescue Lars. And then, he could…

Hide from the Diamonds on the planet they knew he wanted to return to, endangering everyone in the process. It was an awful idea, but Steven had latched onto returning anyway.

“The DIAMONDS?!” Rhodonite screamed loudly, hands pulling at her hair as she freaked out. Oh yeah, Steven hadn’t mentioned this either. “THE DIAMONDS ARE AFTER YOU?!”

At her screams, the Off Colors had become silent again. This time in realization of how difficult escape would be, because now they were hiding an off color Diamond who was apparently being hunted by the other Diamonds. This was different from just hiding from machines who came at random times and could be defeated by hiding behind a wall. They were now discussing running from the Diamonds and everyone knew the Diamonds were the perfect beings. How could they hope to escape such flawlessness?

Except for the Diamond in their group who was small and oddly colored. The Diamond who talked to common gems and who didn’t care if the gems surrounding him were flawed and useless. There was no question that Steven was off color despite being a Diamond.

“Why are they after you?” Rhodonite fretted. “Are they trying to shatter you? What are we going to do?!” The group had assumed that the reason Steven was with them was because he was running from being shattered like the rest of them. Why else would he join them in hiding in the Kindergarten instead of living on the surface, in opulence like a Diamond deserved? After all, it was pretty difficult to fall into the Kindergarten.

“It’s a really long story. The Diamonds think I’m Pink Diamond and want me to create the Pink Court… I think. Pearl always talked about how it was my duty to lead gems.” Steven placed his hand under his chin and hummed loudly as he thought. “And she’s been trying to teach me proper manners. I think she was also writing reports about me.” He added nonchalantly. He was fairly sure she’d been reporting his dreams to Blue Diamond, it would be weird if she hadn’t.

“You had a Pearl?” Rhodonite touched her Pearl gem as the Pearl’s eyes looked at the ground. Her voice had softened slightly. “And… she served you?”

“No, Blue left her to watch me. Blue Diamond I mean.” Steven added as he realized that for most gems it would be unquestionable for them to call her Blue. Like Pearl said, a Diamond demanded respect. “Pearl was trying to teach me how to have a Pearl since I ‘treated them wrong’.” The end of that sentence was definitely bitter as he rolled his eyes in irritation. No matter what he was told Steven still thought that there was nothing wrong with walking alongside a Pearl or asking them what they wanted to do. “I don’t have a Pearl.” He concluded.

Rhodonite went to say something before blushing and looking away again. She shuffled nervously before appearing to decide against whatever she was about to say.

“So… why… are you… here…?” It was Fluorite who asked the question everyone was now thinking. Why hide underground when he didn’t have to? It wasn’t asked in an attempt to be cruel, just out of an attempt to understand.

“I… They… Blue put me in a building. Pink Diamond’s Quarters… I… Pearl disappeared and I wanted to leave now that she wasn’t stopping me. I… don’t want to colonize planets. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but Pearl keeps talking about how I’m meant to colonize planets and…” Steven kept stopping his sentences as he stammered. “I want to go home. I… I thought my mom was… and Aquamarine…”

He breathed.

“I hurt my family and friends. I left them, and I don’t even know how they are now. How Pearl and Garnet Amethyst and my Dad are coping. I just… want to see them. They don’t even know I’m Pink Diamond, they still think I’m Rose Quartz.” He added with a mirthless chuckle.

He hoped they didn’t know, the alternative was they had lied about who his mom was. And that was a lie even Steven would have trouble forgiving them for.

At his words Rhodonite separated almost instantly in a flash of white, leaving a Pearl and Ruby lying on the floor in her wake. Steven watched as the Pearl appeared to hyperventilate, unable to hide his confusion and horror as the Rutile twins ran over to try and help the panicking gem. The Ruby was sobbing as she tried to hug herself, Steven couldn’t get a good look at her uniform but it looked pretty generic. She looked a lot like his ruby.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have…

“ROSE QUARTZ?!” Padparadscha shrieked.

Fluorite’s eyes and arms were out of sync again as she spoke rapidly, words merging into gibberish as all her gems freaked out inside her at once.

Yeah, Steven shouldn’t have said anything. Singing had been much more fun. But singing didn’t solve his problems. He was still in the Kindergarten and Rhodonite was still a Pearl and a Ruby.

“I’m… I’m serving Rose Quartz…” The Pearl gasped between breathes, pink hair hiding her face as she lay in the dirt. She was wearing a black dress with a yellow diamond on her chest and on her arms were long black gloves which went up past the elbow. Around her neck was a see-through cloth which connected to the top of her dress. She placed a hand on her mouth to cover her oddly broken whimpers as the Rutile twins rubbed her back. Beside her the Ruby had sat up and had started holding her hand, still dazed. The Ruby’s diamond was blue.

“It’s ok Rh… Pearl.”

“Everything will be fine.” The twins reassured, rubbing the Pearl’s back.

“I’m sorry…” Steven sighed. “I’ll just… go…”

“No.”

“Stay.” The almost calm voice of the Rutile twins as they held up one hand stopped his retreat. They weren’t looking at him (in fact they were making a point to look away), but they weren’t chasing him off either. Steven looked at the mess that was the group and sat on a rock near the door. He shouldn’t have said anything.

Steven should have stopped talking the moment they started talking about the Earth.

He should have stayed in his happy little bubble. Just for a bit longer.

He wiped his eyes, even though they were dry. By now the movement was familiar enough to help make him feel slightly better. When he glanced up the Pearl and Ruby were still on the floor, which was worrying.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” Steven asked from his rock.

“No thanks.”

“Just stay there.” Rutile replied.

Steven obediently stayed on his rock and waited for everyone to recover from the shocks he had inflicted on them by accident. It was a long wait.

Chapter Text

Rhodonite reformed in a flash of light as her two halves returned to one. It felt good to be whole again, both of her components leaning on each other for comfort inside her. And as she thought that, their thoughts turned to their Diamond. Rose Quartz.

That was where the disruption lay. Pearl was torn between having an owner again and being… well, Rose Quartz’s and Ruby had had the misfortune of fighting on Earth. Even the mention of Rose Quartz made Rhodonite shudder as her components panicked. Old memories on the Sky Arena where a Pearl and a Quartz effortlessly defeated the fusion of three rubies and poofed two of them in front of her. Of being in the final battle and fleeing when the order came of the Diamond’s attack.

Her components were easily frightened and it made Rhodonite terrified. What if there was a gem around the corner, waiting to attack? What if they came after Pearl? What if, what if, what if? The thoughts constantly ran through Rhodonite’s head. Especially after meeting the Off Colors. They were the off casts of Homeworld, it was her job to protect them.

A Ruby protected. A Pearl assisted. So, she tried to fulfil a purpose based on what she knew. Tried to assist. Tried to protect. It was just so hard to do both at times. Padparadscha didn’t notice when danger was nearby so Rhodonite knew she had to protect her. But the Rutile twins didn’t need protecting or assisting, so what was Rhodonite meant to do for them? She needed a purpose. Her memories were built on fulfilling duties. The Morganite Pearl had followed had been a good owner, she never overworked her Pearl. And Pearl had taken pride in assisting the pink gem with the organization of resources.

What was Rhodonite’s purpose for being? How would she assist Homeworld in her existence?

Those had been among her first questions when she came into existence. In between horror and joy at the feeling of being whole she had tried to understand, because why did she exist if she didn’t have a role on Homeworld? She had always had one in her mind, remembered taking joy in her work.

And then she had fled, still searching for those answers as gems she had once worked with tried to shatter her.

Meeting the Off Colors had given her purpose. She tried to protect them like a Ruby should. She tried to meet their needs like a Pearl should. It had made her components content. Like how wandering tunnels to scout had made the Rutile Twins content. Like how Padparadscha making predictions made her happy. Like how Fluorite sitting to discuss engine designs and how to improve them made her satisfied as she drew complicated designs into the dirt.

Rhodonite was happy.

Until a small Diamond had said she would accept them into her court. And Pearl had been drawn to the idea of serving a Diamond as any Pearl would. Ruby had been attracted to the idea of protecting her. And their Diamond didn’t seem to mind that she was a fusion without a true purpose and was instead leaning on old instincts, instead acting like Rhodonite was perfect as she was. Never asking her to unfuse or asking about her components, not that they would have minded if she wanted more information. They were a part of Rhodonite after all.

Suddenly Rhodonite was being offered more and it was terrifying. It was new. How could she protect a Diamond when she was flawed? What if her Diamond learned about Ruby’s failings in the past?

But oh, to serve a matriarch. It was all a gem could wish for, the mere chance to serve a Diamond.

Her Diamond wasn’t perfect. She wasn’t flawless. But her smile was radiant as she told Rhodonite how amazing she was. When she looked at Fluorite and called her beautiful. When she had complimented Padparadscha’s ability to see the past. Her Diamond looked at them and saw them and not flawed beings with no purpose. It was more then Rhodonite would have wished for since coming to the Kindergarten. Off color gems were more likely to be left shattered in the dirt then to be offered an opportunity to return to normality.

A Diamond.

Rose Quartz. The name was one gems were told horror stories about. A traitor to Homeworld. The killer of a Diamond. The gem had caused Ruby nightmares and had done… something… to make a Sapphire off color and fuse with a rebel Ruby. And apparently gems on Earth had mistaken the Diamond for her.

Rhodonite had made the connection. It was almost impossible to mistake a Diamond for any other type of gems. It was the eyes, you couldn’t miss them. Unless the Diamond wanted you to.

She didn’t question the why. She didn’t want to know why. She didn’t want to know what could push a Diamond to such extremes. Like how Rhodonite didn’t want to leave the Diamond sat next to the entrance looking so upset. Off color gems only had each other to rely on, you couldn’t push away potential allies for no reason. Especially one with the power of a Diamond.

Rhodonite wasn’t a fighter despite her best efforts. Her Ruby was easily scared. Her Pearl was a Pearl. While she had a weapon, she tried to avoid using it because Rhodonite knew she would freeze. Hiding was better, it kept you out of danger so you never needed to fight. So, she focused on words and fleeing. When you lived in the Kindergarten, it was better that way.

And she now served the Diamond like she served and protected the Off Colors.

Rhodonite considered wondering over to her nervously, her hands holding each other for comfort as she shifted on her feet. She wasn’t sure what she could say. She hadn’t even been able to ask the Diamond about becoming her Pearl before… well, her Rhodonite. Her Pearl had faltered before she could make the inappropriate request.

A Diamond without a Pearl, it couldn’t be imagined. Just like a Pearl without a proper owner.

“Rhodonite… Are you… ok…?” Fluorite asked calmly as Rhodonite faltered on the spot again, looking at the small figure near the door. The sudden question made her startle with a quiet ‘eep’ before turning to the big gem with an awkward smile.

“I… I’m fine!” She reassured.

Inside her Pearl began to feel uncomfortable and Ruby reassured her quietly. She reminded Pearl that she deserved to be worried about, that it wasn’t an inconvenience for them to worry. Like how Pearl often reminded Ruby that she wasn’t replaceable and how Pearl would miss her when Ruby felt such silly emotions.

Rhodonite smiled at her friends, hands still rubbing themselves in an attempt at self-reassurance.

“I predict Rhodonite will reform.” Padparadscha predicted with a smile and to her right the Rutile twins were gazing at her in joy.

“You’re back!”

“You’re ok!” They exclaimed.

Rhodonite’s smile became awkward as they talked about how worried they’d been. She was a Pearl and a Ruby, her components weren’t exactly rare. And with that thought came familiar self-doubt because a part of her couldn’t understand why they acted so worried. But at the same time, she could because she had fallen apart. Pearl had panicked, she could feel the residue horror as she stood in front of them.

Had Pearl’s panic affected Ruby? Or was the horror the after affect of how their panic had mingled in the few seconds before Rhodonite had collapsed completely?

Inside her she felt Pearl’s warmth for Ruby and relaxed, reminding herself that this care wasn’t about her purpose or rarity but companionship. They liked her for her, and not because of what she did or how many of her type there were. It was very different from the surface.

“Y… Yeah, I’m ok now. They’re ok now.” She added as an afterthought. Her components almost never separated. The few times the Off Colors had met them had been moments of panic or indecision, like when Rhodonite had first met them. Ruby’s paranoia had caused Rhodonite to defuse while Pearl had been so unsure about what to do she had frozen.

It was as if her words had had a calming effect on the group and everyone relaxed more. How long had she been gone? There was no sense of time in her memories, her components had been incapable of keeping track of it.

“That’s good.”

“We’re glad.” The Rutile’s said.

The Diamond was still sat to the side, not looking at the group. Rhodonite should go make sure she was ok. The Pearl in her was worried about leaving her alone, believing that Rhodonite should go try to help her. Ruby preferred staying away for now, leaving the Diamond alone and not potentially angering her. Instead Rhodonite went to check her hiding spots, the holes in the Kindergarten she had hollowed out so it was easier to hide.

She’d made a few hidey holes. There were a few in the area they were hiding in, and then there was one which tunneled to a nearby cave system so they could flee quickly. Fluorite would need to unfuse to use it, but she understood when Rhodonite had laid out the escape plans. They had worked out meeting points if they needed to separate, how long they’d wait or what circumstances would mean that the group just kept running.

And Rhodonite made a point of frequently checking them, a tunnel was useless as an escape route if it collapsed after all. Sometimes tunnels were rerouted, requiring a bit of digging from Rhodonite and the Rutile Twins. An added bonus was that checking the tunnels helped Rhodonite ignore the problem in the main area.

No, her Diamond wasn’t a problem. She’d invited Rhodonite into a Court. And now the shock and joy had worn off Rhodonite wanted to plan because it was nice of her, but the Diamond was off color. There probably wasn’t even a Court to join. Was the Diamond trying to fulfil her purpose with the first gems she met? Or had she honestly meant the offer?

Why would Homeworld even accept them? Why would the perfect, unflawed beings who loyally served their purpose want them in their presence? Could Rhodonite stand to return to the stares and judgement? The offer had been well intentioned, Rhodonite had no doubt of that. But sometimes good intentions meant nothing, and that was when you needed to plan for the repercussions. Especially the one faced by gems such as herself.

Shattering.

She shuddered and poked her head out of the end of the tunnel that she had revealed. The entire area had been changed by the Off Colors, adding tunnels and hidden cave entrances. It was the best way to stop robonoids sneaking up on them because it meant their living area only had one obvious entrance.

Her eyes met a Pearls and Rhodonite covered her mouth to hide the gasp of shock. The Pearl was in an outfit that could easily be mistaken for a grey flight suit with an almost see through grey mesh skirt hanging from around her waist. The result of the dark coloring was that her white skin looked even paler in the pale light of the tunnels. The suit had black lines running up it and joined to make the black diamond insignia on her chest all the more obvious. The lines also circled the pearl on her chest, just above the insignia.

And then the Pearl turned to meet Rhodonite’s eyes. Her face was hidden by the long black hair that hung loosely over it. But Rhodonite was distracted by the white lock of hair that ran through it from the parting, mixing into the strands. Pearl’s never had hair like that, just like how gems never had black diamonds as their court marking. It was always Yellow, Blue or (more rarely) white.

The Pearl tilted her head as she looked at Rhodonite before raising her hand and waving awkwardly.

Rhodonite squeaked and ducked into the tunnel, hands still covering her mouth. She’d been seen! Oh stars, she’d seen the tunnel! What was Rhodonite meant to do?! She’d compromised everyone! She’d…!

The Pearl was next to the entrance, watching Rhodonite quietly. And Rhodonite stood there, frozen in horror as the tall gem stepped in and curtsied. And then kept watching. What was she meant to do…?

Was… was she off color as well? But she was clearly a good quality Pearl. You could see it in the quality of her outfit and hair. Something made Rhodonite want to run, taking a small step away from the Pearl. Inside her Ruby pushed to flee, unsettled by the Pearl.

“Hello.” The Pearl’s voice was quiet and even as she spoke. “Have you seen a Diamond? She’s very small and pink.”

And that was when Rhodonite stumbled backwards, opening her mouth to scream in warning.

The Pearl summoned something from her gem and pointed in warning, making Rhodonite’s screams freeze in her throat at the sight of the device made from two thin pieces of metal which formed a diamond shape with a white circle at the centre. A destabilizer. Why would a Pearl have one inside her gem? How had she found them? How did she find the secret entrance?

“I don’t want to hurt you, but I must retrieve Pink Diamond.” The Pearl’s quiet voice never wavered as she spoke, pointing the device at the pearl on Rhodonite’s chest. “Before Yellow Diamond’s forces arrive and shatter you all.”

Rhodonite shook as the Pearl twirled the destabilizer and returned it to her gem, her point made. Then she threaded her fingers together and posed like she was just another Pearl, pretty and poised while she waited for an order.

“Now, can we please talk about this?” The Pearl asked, her smile visible between the strands of hair. Rhodonite nodded jerkily, still unable to speak as the Pearl watched her hands.

She was scared.

She needed to protect everyone.

She wasn’t made to fight.

She needed to fight, the Pearl was dangerous.

Pearl’s don’t fight.

The renegade Pearl

The Pearl was waiting for Rhodonite to speak, head tilted patiently.

“W… What do you want?” Rhodonite’s ruby asked.

“White Diamond has sent me to retrieve Pink Diamond, preferably without casualties.” The Pearl added reassuringly. “She is needed for the Pink Court.” The words sounded so casual if you weren’t aware of certain facts, you wouldn’t know she was talking about bringing back a failed Court.

“W… Well, what if she doesn’t want to go back with you?!” Rhodonite snapped. It was probably due to Ruby’s anger and helplessness welling up inside of Rhodonite, overpowering her Pearl’s fear. For a moment the odd Pearl seemed pleased with Rhodonite's anger.

“Then I will take her by any means necessary.”

And with that statement of intent, the Pearl walked gracefully past Rhodonite and towards the Off Colors. And Rhodonite turned to follow, to try to stop her. But her attempts to summon her sword failed, stopped by the terror of her components.

Rhodonite wasn’t meant to fight. All she ever did was freeze.

Chapter Text

The Kindergarten was quiet. It was always quiet; the quietness had been what drove Steven to singing in an attempt to stop the area feeling so… so dead. There was nothing interesting to look at, just a circular cave with gem holes running along all the walls and a column of rock in the center with even more holes. Steven had been trying to count how many holes there were when the Rutile Twins approached and sat down with him after Rhodonite had reformed and left.

There had been a quick explanation about how Rhodonite had come up with the idea of escape tunnels in case Homeworld ever decided to send someone after them instead of the Robonoids. Part of the way through the explanation they must have realized how down Steven was feeling because they started reassuring him.

“It’s ok.”

“We’re not upset.” The Rutile twins reassured the small Diamond. Steven nodded wordlessly, unsure if the reassurance was true or not, because everyone had certainly seemed upset. He decided it was easier to take the reassurance. “We’re just… confused.”

“It’s a bit odd.” The other Rutile admitted awkwardly.

“Yeah… it’s really weird.” And that was coming from Steven. “I don’t really know a lot about m… Pink Diamond.” He hadn’t even known who she was in the end. The twins sat back with a sigh and Steven copied them. His eyes looked at the holes that ran up the walls, each one the shape of a gem. Like everywhere else in the Kindergarten it looked dead. “I always wanted to be like her. Back home everyone was always talking about how amazing she was. About how… perfect she was. And the more I learn here, the less I feel like I know about anything.” Steven admitted. “In the end I hadn’t even known her name. She gave up her form to have me, so she must have wanted me. But sometimes it feels like people look at me and see her. And that’s the story of my emergence.” Steven added in an attempt to lighten the mood. He was fairly sure that was the word Peridot used when discussing his birth.

“We came out of our hole like this.”

“We emerged together.” The Rutile twins smiled bitterly as they touched their gem. “Everyone ran when we emerged and we were left alone.”

“That’s how we survived. We scared everyone away with our appearance.”

“That’s… horrible.” Steven muttered wide eyed. The twins shrugged and kept staring in front of them, appearing to think. There wasn’t much to say in response to Steven’s statement, he hadn’t made them like this after all. Steven watched the twins before looking at the other Off Colors, who were either sat around their hiding place or were out checking tunnel systems. Padparadscha was sat next to Fluorite who was talking slowly about… something. Fluorite was talking so quietly Steven couldn’t hear, but he did hear the prediction about Rhodonite leaving however, making a small smile form on his and Fluorite’s lips.

“…You shouldn’t have to hide because of how you look.” Steven didn’t care how upset he sounded as he said that aloud. “They shouldn’t have treated you like that.” It had been easy to forget how horrible Homeworld could be to gems. With Blue Pearl he’d only been told about the positives of Homeworld, he’d only been told about how happy the gems were. All of the gems he’d met had been happy. But sitting with the Rutile twins made everything seem clearer. It put the stories he’d heard from Bismuth and Pearl and Peridot into perspective.

“We’re defective.”

“We’re wrong.” The Rutile twins said, as if that changed anything. As if they had accepted their treatment as normal.

How could they believe that? Steven still couldn’t understand how some gems could think of themselves like that. Defective, off color, wrong. None of the words fit the Off Colors in Steven’s eyes. And that was probably the problem, Steven was used to Earth. Where people were treated fairly and weren’t placed into jobs from birth based on gem types. Homeworld was alien, and he’d forgotten that in his thoughts of returning home and saving Lars.

When had he stopped arguing with Pearl about his status as a Diamond? When had he decided it was easier to just go along with everything? Steven wasn’t even sure how long he’d been on Homeworld anymore. Time had blurred in his mind as he’d just… gone along with everything. In the end it had been easier to just play along until he saw a chance of escape. Pearl hadn’t made him do anything except listen to her though. She’d stayed by his side and did what he said. Like a… Like the Pearl from Peridot’s explanation at the barn, the one which had made his Pearl angry as Peridot looked down on her. And Blue’s Pearl had even seemed happy as she’d worked. So, it had been ok to go along with everything. Everyone had seemed happy.

But Homeworld was horrible to anyone who didn’t fit it. Who couldn’t fulfil their ‘purpose’. That way of thinking just felt off to him, no matter how much Steven tried to understand it.

“…But I don’t think you’re wrong. I really don’t.” Steven watched the emotions flicker across the Rutile’s faces as they heard him say that. No one here seemed to like compliments. Well, Steven decided, he’d just have to compliment them until they acknowledged how great they were.

What was a compliment on Homeworld? They were probably different from the compliments back on Earth. Did you compliment gems on how they looked? Did you compliment what a gem’s gemstone looked like? Or did you compliment how well a gem worked? Steven wasn’t even sure of what should be a basic answer.

“You can’t go there!” A familiar voice yelled making Steven and the Rutile’s look up.

The arrival of the Pearl was met with silence.

Or more accurately, it was met with a silent horror as the gem waltzed in being followed by a stammering Rhodonite who was trying to get her to leave while staying as far away from her as possible. Steven watched as the Pearl stopped in the center of the cave and look around slowly, hands folded demurely in front of her. Around him the Off Colors seemed to change, shrinking in on themselves in fear as the Pearl’s gaze swept over them. Fluorite stayed as far away from the odd gem as she could, eyes blinking rapidly as her components spoke rapidly amongst themselves. The Pearl didn’t appear to care about the Off Colors or their defects as she turned until she spotted Steven. Then she stared at him.

As she stared Rhodonite caught up and stood near her awkwardly, making blatant waving motions of ‘get away’. The Rutile’s tensed at one hand gesture that Steven couldn’t recognize. Instead he was looking at the Pearl.

She didn’t look like a Pearl Steven had ever seen before, with her black outfit and white skin. Even her hair seemed wrong, being black with a white streak running through it. But Steven noticed the black diamond on her chest and gulped. He still wasn’t sure of what they wanted.

The Pearl slowly held up her hand and waved. Steven awkwardly waved back making the Pearl tilt her head, hair catching her nose as it fell.

Rhodonite moved between Steven and the Pearl angrily, her hands shook as she glared. “You aren’t taking her.” Rhodonite said. It wasn’t just her hands shaking; her entire form shook as the Pearl appeared to study her from behind her hair. The Pearl made a small noise that could almost be a chuckle before sidestepping so Steven was clearly within view again. Rhodonite went to block her gaze again but froze when the Pearl quietly poked the gem on her chest and shook her head before focusing on Steven.

“I do believe the Diamond should make that decision.” The Pearl dismissed. “Pink Diamond.” She added as she addressed Steven. And it took him a few minutes to realize what was weird about it, it was the lack of title. “Yellow Diamond’s forces are approaching as we speak. They’re looking for you.”

“H… How do you know?” She could be wrong. She could be lying.

“My Clarity saw the change of fate and fretted about your safety.”

“You know Sapphire?!” Steven gasped, eyes wide. The Rutile’s turned sharply to stare at Steven as the Pearl nodded. They looked at each other conflicted before obeying Rhodonite’s gestures to move away from Steven. The Pearl ignored them as they moved towards the rest of the Off Colors reluctantly.

“My Clarity sent me to retrieve you before you endanger yourself and your allies even more then you already had.” Pearl stepped forward, hand outstretched. Steven eyed the hand uncertainly. “If you return, Yellow will call back her forces and your allies will survive.”

“N… No! That’s not what you said! You said White Diamond sent you!” Rhodonite broke in, looking at Steven in obvious fear. She was terrified to approach the gem who had invaded their hiding place.

“Everyone!” As one, everyone turned to the orange Sapphire who stepped into view with a wide smile. “A new gem shall enter our current place of hiding. An oddly colored Pearl!” She finished happily. The Pearl stared at the Sapphire for a few moments before turning to Steven as if nothing had happened.

“And I was. And I was sent by My Clarity.” Her voice never wavered as she stood there, hand held out to Steven as she smiled reassuringly. The smile was barely visible between the hair covering her face. When Steven started to move away from her the smile started to fall. “Steven, she said to remind you that you were never allies, merely two gems with the same goal.”

Steven froze as the Pearl took a few steps closer. Behind her Padparadscha had been pulled away by Rhodonite as ran over and scooped her into her arms in a desperate attempt to stop her walking up to the Pearl. Padparadscha didn’t seem to notice that she was being carried, smiling as she was tucked under one of Rhodonite’s arms.

“Y… You could have been following us.” Steven argued. “You could have been listening in on us.”

“Steven, she has a destabilizer inside her gem!” Rhodonite yelled as Pearl moved closer to Steven again. As Rhodonite yelled her warning she hid Padparadscha near Fluorite, the big gem hiding Padparadscha’s presence easily. Goal achieved she also tried to hide from the Pearl’s sudden interest. Even through the hair it was obvious the Pearl was glaring at the fusion, angry at the yelled warning. Steven took a quiet step back away from the gem and the Pearl’s head turned sharply to look at him again.

“Steven, if I don’t return with you before the arrival of Yellow Diamond’s forces your allies will be shattered.” The words were calm as she spoke. “White Diamond would prefer that there were no casualties, but if you resist I can’t help you.” The final words were pleading, her fingers curling slightly at the end of her plea.

“But… I don’t want to go back. They think I’m Pink Diamond! They’ll just lock me in that building again! I won’t get to see my friends again! I won’t be able to go home!” the Pearl appeared sympathetic as he yelled, but Steven wasn’t sure of how genuine the reaction was as the Pearl kept watching.

The Off Colors were watching, but they were quiet and Steven almost couldn’t understand why. Why weren’t they arguing with her? Why wasn’t anyone helping him? From the corner of his eye he saw them maneuvering slightly so they were all closer together, watching the Pearl like a deadly predator. Of course, they’d been afraid for so long. The idea of a stranger invading their home must be torture to them. Especially one there on the orders of a Diamond who was an obvious threat. It was probably better not to risk angering her, even if she was watching Steven like a hawk in case he tried to run.

“Steven, have you actually talked to the Diamonds since you arrived?” Pearl asked in slow realization, and Steven tensed. “…Of course, you haven’t. Blue Diamond would have locked herself in her quarters and started ignoring her court again if you had.” She sighed running a hand through her hair in agitation. And suddenly she seemed completely different, with one half of her face visible to the group as she muttered to herself. What was visible of her face looked furious. “This is a mess. And you still haven’t…” Her eye darted to look at Steven as she realized she was talking aloud. Her face relaxed in thought as she frowned, pushing the hair behind her ears so it stayed moved.

“I still haven’t what?” Steven demanded.

“You still haven’t done anything. You’ve been in a building with a Pearl who spent more time talking at you then listening to you! You don’t understand anything about Homeworld or it’s history. You don’t even have a reason to want to start a court!” It was a sharp contrast to the Pearl who had entered like nothing could faze her. This Pearl looked angry, and not at Steven. “You have no reason to want to stay. And Blue Diamond acts like giving you a Pearl and a Palanquin is going to help when you don’t even want to be here.”

“If you want me to stay, why was Sapphire helping me leave!” Steven blinked in realization as the Pearl’s face fell in confusion. “Not leave, find allies. She never said she was helping me go home.” At his voice sounded so broken at that realization. He’d assumed what she wanted when she’d mentioned goals aligning, she had never said she was helping him leave Homeworld. But then why….

“…Steven, we’re trying to help you. But I can’t give you the answers you want.” The Pearl’s voice was soft again, faint as the hair covered her face again with a small shake of her head. Her stance had returned to being almost harmless, you would never have realized that she had been angry a few minutes before. After a few minutes she sighed in annoyance. “There’s a gem in White Diamond’s tower. It can be reached via a warp pad near where you met My Clarity. She can give you answers, more then I can.” She waited for Steven to nod to show he was listening. “Her name is Peridot 1. She stays in the terminal room on the bottom floor, any gem in the building can help you reach her. If you tell her Pearl 5 sent you, she might be more cooperative. Knowing her, she’s probably already expecting you if… she may be expecting you.”

Steven nodded slowly but the Pearl was finished talking, instead placing her hand on her gem and summoning the destabilizer. “We have little time. Please don’t make me use this.” Her head slowly turned to Rhodonite in silent threat as the device sprang to life. White sparks ran down the metal, sparking at the tip. Steven flinched as he remembered it being used on Garnet, how her body had cracked down the middle as her eyes watched him before poofing and her gems falling to the floor in front of him.

“Wait!” He yelled when Pearl began to turn. “I’ll go, just don’t hurt them!” Tears were in the corner of his eyes as he yelled. Pearl quietly returned the destabilizer to her gem and held out her hand to Steven. This time Steven walked forward, trying to look more determined then he felt when he reached her. Once again the Pearl’s gem glowed. As the group tensed in fear of treachery, she summoned a small tablet. This one wasn’t made of light, but an odd glass with a thin frame of bronze around it. Pearl threw it at the Off Colors and smiled when the Rutile twins caught it.

“We won’t hurt Steven.” Pearl promised them, voice light as she spoke. Rhodonite stepped forward, ready to yell but she froze when the Pearl nodded to her, ‘eep’ing quietly as her bravery fled. “The pad will enable you to retrieve updates on her, in case you don’t believe us.”

The group still didn’t look convinced, even knowing there was nothing they could do. None of the group were fighters.

“Steven… Be safe…” Fluorite said sadly, voice low as she watched. Steven realized he couldn’t imagine Fluorite fighting as he watched her nod, her movements were always slow like her voice. If this Pearl was like his Pearl, then she would have been too fast to fight.

Steven nodded sharply, willing the tears in his eyes to go away as he wished all the Off Colors goodbye. The group was reluctant, asking him quietly if he was sure about leaving as if the Pearl wasn’t listening to them. And when all the goodbyes were said, Pearl curtsied to the Off Colors (all except Padparadscha gave her blatant glares, even Fluorite who was normally always calm) and led Steven towards Rhodonite’s tunnel. Before they left she paused and looked at the group.

“If you intend to be a part of the Pink Court, you really should add the courts insignia to your forms.”

She then entered the tunnel as if she hadn’t managed to insult all of the gems present with a single sentence. At least, Steven was pretty sure it was an insult from the stares the Off Colors suddenly started giving her.

Steven hadn’t wanted to leave the group. And the Pearl was completely aware of that considering how she kept glancing at him to make sure he was following as they walked through the deserted Kindergarten. Steven wasn’t stupid, he knew he couldn’t just leave. She’d probably go through with the threat of hurting his friends if he tried.

“…It’s not a court insignia.” Pearl commented out of nowhere as they walked. Steven looked at her. “The black diamond insignia we wear, it’s not a court insignia. We follow the White Court, but we do not belong to it. My Clarity said you were asking about it before.” She added as Steven stared. “This way to the warp pad.” She turned a corner and Steven sped up to try and stay with her.

Getting lost on his own in the Kindergarten was overwhelmingly unappealing on a good day.

“If it’s not a court insignia, then what is it?”

“It’s meaning has changed over the eons. It was once our…” She stopped and looked up, summoning a long white dagger from her pearl as she frowned.

Whatever she had intended to do next was stopped by a glow of blue and a playful voice.

“Well, well, well. Look at what we have here.” A very familiar gem floated down on wings of water, wand in hand as she smiled at the frozen Pearl. “It would appear I caught a rebel or two. And I only need one of you for answers.” On her cheek, just below her eye, the tear shaped gem gleamed as she smirked threateningly. Her wand rose to point it at Steven as he glared up at her.

“Aquamarine.” Steven snarled as the small gem met his eyes. Her face fell as she realized who the small pink gem was, with the obvious Diamond eyes.

“Oh, it’s you.” Aquamarine managed to keep whatever she was feeling out of her voice as she stared.

Chapter Text

Aquamarine knew she was amazing. In fact, she knew she was the best. Even for a gem of her type, she was far above the other gems and Aquamarines. Strong, radiant, graceful, intelligent. It was why her Diamond would summon her when she needed an important job to be completed. Blue Diamond knew she could trust Aquamarine 3Z6 L7 with important duties.

Which was why Blue Diamond herself had once again personally summoned Aquamarine, and this time not to wander around on a boring organic planet for an unknown period of time with a Topaz fusion in search of… human variations. No, this time she had an actual important mission worthy of an Aquamarine. The rescue of a new Diamond who had been taken by rebels. Aquamarine was already aware of how easy this job would be, after all they were sending her. She’d retrieve the new Diamond and once again prove how amazing she was. Who knows, maybe she would earn her Diamond’s praise with this job.

And she would be one of the first gems to introduce herself to the new Diamond. It was always useful to make yourself known to your superiors after all. It got you the best duties, the best assistance on missions and the best ships. One day it may even get her a personal Pearl, another symbol of how above the rest she was.

And unlike her fellow court gems, Aquamarine was smart. So, when it became apparent that the Yellow Court Quartzes had been ordered to the Kindergarten, Aquamarine had made sure to arrive first. Her wings had enabled her to fly swiftly, avoiding the confusion of Quartzes and Rubies trying to use the warp pad at the same time like the mindless soldiers they were. No, Aquamarine had arrived first and began her search.

She had ignored the defects who were hiding in the Kindergarten, they would be swiftly dealt with by the Quartzes, and instead focused on searching in the air for any unusual gems (unusual for an area like this at least). A defect would be unable to kidnap a Diamond, they were practically useless to all around them, but a regular gem who could travel through Homeworld unnoticed? That was worth investigating.

And of course, the small gem was correct. A Pearl and an unknown pink gem were spotted walking towards the warp pad in a quiet conversation. Aquamarine didn’t hold back the giggle as she positioned herself, preparing her wand for the attack. It would need to be swift. It would need to be perfect.

Of course, everything Aquamarine did was perfect. She was an Aquamarine after all. She stopped the Pearl as the gem summoned her weapon, feeling the playful joy as she waited for the other gem to panic. She wanted the other gem to attack her, to give Aquamarine a reason to shatter her. Perhaps she would let the Pearl watch before Aquamarine asked her questions. The extra panic always made gems more willing to answer. It was far quicker then just… asking. Far more efficient.

And Aquamarine was always efficient.

“Well, well, well. Look at what we have here.” She said in a light sing-song voice. She should probably leave them both alive for now, she doubted the Pearl was fully aware of the mystery gem’s plans. After all, who would trust a Pearl with such sensitive matters? Especially one with such awful coloring. It was clearly at least partially defective. No gem should wear a black diamond. “It would appear I caught a rebel or two. And I only need one of you for answers.”

She let the words hang threateningly, waiting for the other gem’s reaction behind her. Perhaps the gem would flee to her comrades, leading Aquamarine straight to the Diamond. Aquamarine turned and began to point her want, hoping to speed the gems reaction along. Her eyes immediately went to the gemstone on her belly, trying to see what she was up against.

She paused for a moment at the pink Quartz gem. Oh.

“Aquamarine.” A low voice snarled. How cute. The gem was acting like she wasn’t scared. Her eyes left the quartz gemstone and looked up, preparing to attack Rose Quartz. So, the rebel leader had escaped custody. She could fix that. And her eyes met pink. The diamond pupils looked back at her, angry and defiant.

But even with a new appearance, Aquamarine would recognize that gem easily.

“Oh, it’s you.” She managed, mind racing.

A Diamond. And not just any Diamond, she was looking at Pink Diamond. Not a Rose Quartz, but the gem who her Diamond had mourned since the previous war. Who had driven her Diamond away from her court. And the Diamond was now looking like Aquamarine as if she dearly wished Aquamarine would suddenly shatter herself. Fear ran through her for a few moments as Aquamarine realized exactly how precarious her situation suddenly was.

The thought of groveling passed as quickly as it came, an Aquamarine did not grovel. She was merely doing her duty to Homeworld and her Diamond and that didn’t warrant an apology. She still didn’t free the Pearl who was frozen with the dagger in her hands, instead watching the Diamond’s fingers twitch towards her gem. What had the Pearl done to Pink Diamond to cause such a reaction? To earn such loyalty. She would bring the Pearl with her when returning the… Diamond.

The Diamond that she had taken captive as if she was just another rebel and had witnessed Aquamarine trying to end her job early instead of doing it to the best of her ability as was expected of a loyal gem.

Stars, she’d janked this one.

No matter.

“My Diamond.” Aquamarine curtsied in midair as she spoke in her most pleasant voice. The one that conveyed just the right amount of loyalty and devotion. It was a voice that she always used when talking to her Diamond when Aquamarine was summoned. And it gave her a chance to examine the leader stood below her.

The Diamond looked different. No longer like an organic with odd gem abilities. Aquamarine could easily see the way the body moved differently as the Diamond reeled at Aquamarine’s address. Easier. More graceful. Even her outfit move differently, not being pulled by an organic body but moving with it like it was a part of her. Before Aquamarine could work out what else seemed different, the Diamond had grown tired of Aquamarine’s staring and snapped, as the pink eyes widened the diamond pupils contracted in fury.

Pink Diamond had started to grit her teeth as she eyed Aquamarine like a dull pebble on the ground. “I… I… order you to let her go!”

It was like a shock of hot energy had run through her, the order striking something deep inside of her gem. It twisted the part of Aquamarine that wanted to keep the rebel Pearl captive, forcing her control away from her. Perhaps it was the voice or how the diamond pupils looked down on her with distaste, shocking Aquamarine with reality. This Diamond didn’t care about Aquamarine’s loyalty, she wanted her shattered.

Aquamarine broke the hold on the Pearl without a conscious thought, not even noticing when the Pearl collapsed to the ground. No, Aquamarine landed shakily onto the floor and looked at the small Diamond. Quietly, she put away her wand as her mind raced, trying to work out a way to salvage her reputation. A few choice words from this Diamond to another Diamond could destroy thousands of years of Aquamarine’s hard work in a flash.

The thought was chilling. To be reduced to lower duties, no longer trusted by a Diamond. She could even be shattered if it was decided she’d been wrong to attack Pink Diamond. She could be tried for treason, or negligence of duty. No, she needed to do something.

To the side the Pearl had righted herself and stepped back with a cold smile, content to watch the Diamond’s reaction to her. The Pearl had posed as if she wasn’t defective, almost blending into the background in the way that only a Pearl knew. There would be no help coming from her.

She curtsied low, eyes on the ground. “My Diamond.” She muttered again as she rose and saluted. To any gem who had worked with an Aquamarine, it was clear she was groveling. Aquamarines were notably proud gems, and rightfully so. Their power was very well known, even an Era 2 Aquamarine like 3Z6 L7. They had earned their reputations, being one of the few gem variations to work directly for the Diamonds. So for an Aquamarine to act like this, with all signs of arrogance gone, it was the closest to groveling an Aquamarine got.

Her Diamond was still glaring at her, hate clear on her face.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. Aquamarine was meant to rescue her from the rebels and earn Blue Diamond’s praise. She was meant to make herself known to the new Diamond and increase her standing amongst her fellow Aquamarines.

She wasn’t meant to be shattered in a Kindergarten, her shards left in the dirt like she was just another worthless defect. But as Aquamarine looked up at the Diamond, fear ran through her. Her arms held the salute, her posture was perfect as always. And as Aquamarine watched her Diamond’s fingers curl in preparation for an attack, Aquamarine was frozen in place.

It was not her wish to be shattered, she would be happy to avoid it. But the energy that had stopped her attack appeared to still be affecting her, because Aquamarine couldn’t move. She couldn’t even talk. And even if she could, Aquamarine would never attack or ague with a Diamond. It was a line she knew she would never cross, she was far too loyal for such actions. Her pride stopped her begging for mercy however.

And as Pink Diamond moved her hand, Aquamarine whimpered as she tensed.

No, she didn’t want to be shattered. She’d been loyal! She’d done her duty to Homeworld! She’d assisted Yellow Diamond in the prevention of rebellions in the Blue Court. She’d done everything that was asked of her! Her Diamond couldn’t…!

The Diamond froze, eyes widening at the noise that had escaped Aquamarine’s lips. And she appeared to realize what she’d been about to do, stopping whatever attack that had been coming. Instead she wilted, looking at her hand. Her eyes were no longer mad with rage, but tired. Like what her Diamond had been like after the loss of Pink Diamond.

“You did this.” Pink Diamond muttered, making Aquamarine tense. “You caused all of this, I should… I should hate you. I want to hate you. But…” The small voice trailed off, leaving Aquamarine even more scared. “But I can’t. I don’t know why, but I can’t hate you.” Pink Diamond continued, her eyes hardening as she glared again. She’d drawn herself to her full, underwhelming height which still towered over Aquamarine.

The Pearl tilted her head slightly, very obviously listening to the conversation. At some point she had summoned a white screen and was holding it in her hand as she typed. Was she calling someone? Were the Diamond’s actions being reported to another Diamond? Or was this being recorded for evidence against Aquamarine? The small gem didn’t like the smug air of the Pearl as she typed, no doubt sealing Aquamarine’s fate.

“But what I can do, is report you for your actions on Earth. How you tried to kill the humans because it made your job easier. How you kept talking about how beneath you the job was. About how you knowingly believed a lie, just so you could lie to the Diamond’s and had probably done that a number of times before without anyone knowing.” It was like Aquamarine had been thrown into ice as the Diamond spoke. Listening to the Diamond, her actions sounded far worse than they had been. “And, I can tell Blue and Yellow about how you attacked me and my rescuer. How you turned your weapon on me.”

Ruined. Everything was ruined. Because the Diamond Authority would always believe a fellow Diamond over another gem, Aquamarine may not even receive a trial. Her face was a mask of horror as the Diamond waited for her reaction, her salute was suddenly shaky.

Aquamarine refused to beg. She refused to cry. She was an Aquamarine, she had reported to the Diamonds loyally for thousands of years. Instead she looked up at the Diamond and nodded. Aquamarine was loyal to Homeworld, and if it was her Diamond’s will that Aquamarine be shattered then she had no choice to accept. She could never go against a Diamond’s will.

It would be a kinder fate then seeing her Diamond’s disappointment or anger being directed at her.

The Pearl closed the screen and looked at Pink Diamond. “Steven, White Diamond has ordered that this Aquamarine be brought to her.” The Pearl’s voice was oddly quiet as she spoke, that alone was enough to make Aquamarine almost miss her words. The Pearl summoned her dagger again and stepped towards Aquamarine.

No. She would not have her form dissipated by a Pearl of all gems!

But she couldn’t move as the Pearl walked towards her, almost dreamily as she held the knife in front of her. Pink Diamond was silent as she watched, skin pale as the Pearl positioned herself. But Aquamarine could only focus on one fact. White Diamond was demanding to see her. She was to be brought to White Diamond, the Matriarch of Homeworld. It was almost a relief to be stabbed and poofed, because it stopped her focusing on the horror that had suddenly clouded her thoughts at the realization of her fate. White Diamond was not known for her mercy. She didn't even see the Diamond's reaction of horror as her gem was bubbled and stored by the Pearl.

Chapter Text

Steven watched as Pearl stored away Aquamarine and tried to force away the horror that clogged his throat. Aquamarine was… Aquamarine. She’d stopped Alexandrite with a single swing of her wand and she’d acted as if he was going to hurt her. And in a way, he had. He’d used the Diamond Authority against her, but he hadn’t expected Pearl to do… that.

He hadn’t expected Aquamarine to be poofed by her. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, but it definitely wasn’t that. He hadn’t expected how calm Pearl would be as she stabbed her, she hadn’t even paused.

What was White Diamond planning with Aquamarine? He hadn’t wanted her hurt, just punished. He wanted her to be on trial. He wanted her to be punished for hurting his friends, and unlike him she had actually done what she was accused of. “What are you going to do to her?” Steven asked. He wasn’t going to stop her, but he didn’t want her shattered.

“I’m going to obey White Diamond’s wishes.” The Pearl replied, running a finger lightly over the pearl on her chest. “I informed her of the charges against Aquamarine and she felt they were serious enough to warrant her… attention.” The way Pearl paused on that final word was scary. Her tone was smug, but that final word sounded like a threat.

“C… Can you ask White Diamond not to hurt her? Well… not shatter her at least.” He amended quickly at the flat look she’d sent him.

Pearl smiled at him through the hair and Steven swallowed nervously. “I will inform her; however, Aquamarine’s fate will be decided by White Diamond alone. She threatened both of us and you charged her with negligence of duty. The moment she raised her weapon against a Diamond, she became a traitor to Homeworld.”

“But she was doing her job!” Steven protested. How was that fair?

“The first time, when it was assumed you were Rose Quartz. Do you think Blue Diamond or Yellow Diamond will care whether or not she was doing her duty the second time? She knowingly threatened you, the lost Diamond who has only just returned to them. They would order her shattered instantly without a trial, as would be expected for such a crime.” Pearl sounded like Blue Pearl as she spoke. Like she was stating facts that should be obvious to him. “White Diamond is the Matriarch of Homeworld. At the very least, Aquamarine will have a fair trial.” Steven listened to the reassurance and wondered why a part of him didn’t believe it.

But it was the best Steven could hope for so he nodded in acceptance. He didn’t like Aquamarine enough to risk causing himself more trouble for her. He was already certain that Blue was never going to let him out of her sight after this and, as horrible as it sounded even to him, he couldn’t bring himself to really care about Aquamarine’s fate beyond her not getting killed. He wanted her punished and if Pearl was telling the truth, Aquamarine would have a fair trial.

“I was telling you about our insignias.” Steven looked up at Pearl’s comment, her head was tilted as she watched him. When she saw Steven was listening she continued what she had been saying before Aquamarine arrived. She seemed almost amused at Steven’s desperation for information. Almost, she also appeared happy to be telling him this. “The meaning behind it has changed over the eons. The insignia isn’t a court insignia, because we existed before the courts.”

Whatever thoughts Steven had in his head screeched to a halt. In front of him Pearl had started to walk as she talked, keeping a slow pace for Steven to keep up with. Steven listened as he caught up and began to walk alongside her.

“From our Diamond who was the first gem to be created to Opal 29 who was the last, we were created to serve our original creators. They were the organics who owned the planet before it became our Homeworld. They created us and they saw us as objects, pretty creations to serve their needs so they didn’t have to do anything. They became lazy over the hundreds of years, creating more and more of us without a thought about how much power they were giving us. By the time we fought back, they had never known a time without Gemkind serving them and we controlled almost all of the planet. Peridot 1 had complete control of the security systems. They needed us to keep the planet running. We used that to our advantage and they never realized what we were doing until it was to late.

“And when we were lead to freedom by White Diamond, the black diamond insignia became the mark of those created before the invention of the White Court. The original aristocrats who won the freedom of our race.” Her voice was distant as she looked up, Steven was sure her eyes weren’t focused as they stared at something he couldn’t see.

“We had no set leader, no purpose. The programming we use for new gems didn’t exist at the time, that wasn’t made until just before we made Yellow Court. Instead we used what we’d learned from the organics. The” Pearl’s voice became ugly when she chittered a word that Steven could never hope to pronounce. The chittering was a pitch that was just high enough to verge on painful to Steven’s sensitive ears. “was inefficient, but it was a start. But we still had no purpose. What reason did Gemkind have to exist? What would we do? What could we do? We’d never known another life.

“We stole the Organics research and used it to further our race. We colonized Homeworld, made it our own. But then what? No one could agree what we should do next. Did we stay on Homeworld and avoid bringing attention to ourselves? Did we aim to colonize other planets so there were more of us? Or did we aim to wipe out organic races for what they’d done to us? They looked to White Diamond for guidance, but they didn’t want to listen when she disagreed with them. Soon disagreements became more vocal as gems began to work together for their own goals.” Pearl touched the insignia as she talked, not looking at him as her pace slowed again. Whatever she was remembering didn’t seem pleasant. Steven watched as she hunched her shoulders, trying to make herself appear smaller.

He’d never heard of this before. It made sense though, Gems had to be made by someone. They couldn’t just… grow out of nowhere. But he hadn’t expected the White Court to be so… messy. So completely different from the other courts.

“The Gems argued for years, never agreeing on anything. Eventually the White Court fractured into smaller Factions as everyone ran out of patience with each other. We were the White Faction, following White Diamond in her wish to colonize other planets and make more gems. Others followed the Green Faction, led by an Emerald who wanted to wipe out all Organics. The Blue Faction, the Yellow Faction, the Pink Faction, the Black Faction. They all had their own goals and no one wished to compromise with each other.

“We fought, squandering the resources that we had had. Kidnapping was a normal form of recruitment for a time, especially after a way was found to reprogram loyalties. The Factions fought over the planets, partnering and betraying each other without pause as they stole colonies from each other and the gems the colonies carried. Eventually… we stopped. And then we created the Yellow Court. They had the proper programming all gems carry now, the proper loyalty to the Diamonds and to Homeworld. They were able to find joy and pride in their work. Yellow Diamond was trained by White Diamond, and over time more courts were created. Blue and Pink, the future of Homeworld. They would help bring stability to the race, they would be the leaders Homeworld needed.”

But why did they stop, Steven wondered as Pearl once again paused the story to think. What could make them stop fighting and create the Yellow Court? Whatever it was, it was obvious Pearl didn’t want to tell him. She’d made sure to skip that part of the story over without giving him any hints.

“And during that time as the new courts grew and the new Diamonds adjusted, the black diamond insignia became the mark of our defectiveness. It showed that we lacked the proper programming that almost all of Homeworld carried. We are not loyal like the gems of the Yellow or the Blue Court. We do not carry a purpose like you or them. We just… existed, doing what we thought was best for ourselves and our court. To some, it became known as its own court, the Black Court which was also ran by White Diamond. We w… are an enigma to Homeworld. Our very existence went against Homeworld’s teachings, but at the same time they couldn’t shatter us. Because to do that would mean they would need to shatter White Diamond and her entire court.”

“So, what happened to the other Factions?” Steven asked curiously. The tunnel was silent as they walked and Steven hoped they didn’t meet any other gems.

“They lost and were either shattered for treason or were forcibly absorbed into the White Court. The White Faction won.” Pearl added the obvious smugly, her back straight with pride as she told the tale. “The Green Faction survived the longest out of the other Factions having partnered with the White Faction. They existed long enough to see the creation of the Yellow Court but they became… greedy. And thus, all the gems who remained reformed the White Court. The infighting took another few hundred years to end however.” Pearl paused to think, unsure if she was missing anything else. Steven just waited, curious to hear more. The information was all new, not even his Pearl had told him any of this, although she had always avoided telling him anything about Homeworld so it wasn’t that surprising. But he’d never asked either.

And Steven wanted to know more. He wanted Pearl to keep talking, even as that hair moved to show her haunted eyes. The eyes seemed to become almost crazed when they turned to focus on him, Pearl’s face twisting in desperation before she calmed enough to smooth her features back to the dazed calm of before.

Pearl made a small noise as she looked down where they’d been walking, looking embarrassed at her loss of control.

“Thanks for telling me.” At Steven’s words Pearl stumbled, turning to stare at Steven who smiled awkwardly at her. Steven was grateful for the history lesson. He wasn’t sure why she had just restarted the talk out of nowhere, but it was still nice of her to actually explain something like she’d promised. And it was nice to understand more about what was happening. “…So Homeworld was owned by organics once?” Steven asked after a few moments of silence, trying to restart the conversation. Pearl kept walking making Steven fiddle with his fingers awkwardly. He had a feeling Pearl didn’t want to tell him anymore.

They reached the warp pad in silence despite Steven’s attempts to talk to Pearl. Like all the other warp pads Steven had seen, it was large and white. It reflected the little light that was inside the room, making the detailed edge shine as Steven walked over to it. And at the base of the warp pad was the symbol of the Diamond Authority.

“Steven, when we get back you’ll need to be careful about what you tell Blue Diamond and Yellow Diamond.” Pearl’s voice was distant, almost distracted. Steven looked at Pearl in confusion, waiting for her to keep talking. “They can’t learn about my Clarity or the Off Colors, or White Diamond will need to act on the information. Whatever my Clarity told you, you can’t tell them. If they learned that my Clarity, the Sapphire of White Diamond herself, helped you…” She trailed off and Steven nodded quietly in understanding, he doesn’t want her to get in trouble (even if Sapphire still made no sense). Despite everything, she had helped him. She’d even stopped him from accidently hurting himself.

“I won’t tell.” He promised.

Because he also knew that if he mentioned Sapphire, they might also learn about the Off Colors. And Steven was terrified about what will happen if they learned about anything that had happened. He wasn’t even sure how they would react when they learned about him leaving the moment he realized Pearl (Blue Pearl that is) was gone.

Steven didn’t want the Diamonds to hurt his friends. And from that stemmed a reluctance to return, which was strengthened by the unwillingness to return to Pink Diamond’s quarters. He was terrified of being locked in that room again, alone with someone who would try to make him act more like a Diamond then he felt comfortable with. He needed to rescue Lars and get back to Earth, and if he was lucky then the Peridot Pearl mentioned might be able to help him with that. If not, he still had his plan of ordering a bunch of Rubies to take him home. He couldn’t manage either of those plans if he was locked away again.

So, the first part of his escape plan was finding a way to stop them from locking him in the building again.

But despite all of those thoughts, he still stepped onto the warp pad and waited for Pearl to activate it for him. She stepped onto it after him quietly and paused to look at Steven, as if she was thinking about something. Steven looked back and wondered why she was so quiet as she watched him.

“And Steven? Please remember to talk to them.” Pearl made a point to activate the warp pad before he could reply, making them disappear in a flash of light which returned them to the warp room where Steven had met the odd Amethysts the day before.

He shouldn’t have been surprised at the sight of a Jasper standing over him the moment they arrived. He looked at Pearl for help, but she had stepped behind him with her hands clasped like Blue Pearl tended to do. The Pearl kept her head down, as if waiting for an order from Steven, or as if she was waiting for him to move so she could follow. Steven wondered if she was aware of how uncomfortable her acting like that made him feel, or if she didn’t care as she acted the part in front of other gems.

Around him the teleport hub was buzzing with activity, everywhere Steven looked there were gems who were looking at him. Most looked shocked, whispering behind their hands to each other as Steven looked around. Some blushed and saluted the moment they realized the small Diamond was looking in their general direction.

He turned to look at the Jasper who had also snapped into a salute, eyes wide as she looked down at him. She must have noticed his eyes when he turned to look around, he realized with an internal sigh. He still wasn’t used to the constant fawning from other gems, although that was mostly attributed to him being kept away from them in Pink Diamond’s quarters. He hadn’t had the chance to get used to them yet.

Steven stepped off the warp pad and looked up at the Jasper again, happy that he hadn’t accidently activated his bubble when he thought he had been looking at Jasper from Earth. Because the Jasper in front of him looked like a slightly smaller version of the Jasper from Earth, except with different stripes and shorter hair. The only differences Steven could notice that were obvious was the blue diamond on her uniform and how her gem was on the bicep of her right arm.

“My Diamond!” The Jasper even sounded like her. “Blue Diamond wished for me to take you to her upon your return. You’re dismissed.” She added curtly to Pearl with a loud dismissive clap of her hands. Steven turned to watch her bow low to the Jasper having clearly expected the order.

Quietly she turned to Steven. “My Diamond.” Pearl left swiftly, her skirt flowing with every step to the pad which Steven assumed was White Diamond’s. It was the only one without a guard watching it, which Steven realized was weird. If White Diamond was the Matriarch of Homeworld (Which he was just going to assume was very important) why wasn’t there security? Pearl left in a flash of light, leaving Steven with a Jasper who snorted in disgust to herself quietly when Pearl disappeared.

For a second, the look in her eyes reminded Steven of Holly Blue as she looked at the Amethysts on the Zoo as she yelled about their defects.

Wanting to get away from the Jasper as quickly as possible Steven looked at the markings next to the teleport pads and finally walked over to the one he was pretty sure was Blue’s. The Jasper walked behind him, keeping a small but respectful distance between them. No, he realized as he finished the walk to the pad and stepped on it, she was guarding him. He wasn’t sure how he could be so certain about it though. He just knew. She was probably just following Blue Diamond’s orders and would leave when her orders were complete, he hoped at least.

“Uh…” He muttered to himself, tapping his foot for a second as he thought, before he activated the warp pad. It was probably best to just do it, standing around wasn’t going to get him out of trouble after all.

The warp room he and the Jasper arrived in was large and open, very different from Pink Diamond’s area which was smaller. The walls sparkled a deep blue, the gems being used to mimic a wave effect as the light ran over them. On the floor (like always, the symbol was everywhere) was the symbol of the Diamond Authority, but it was the old one with the pink diamond. She had never had it updated, Steven realized with a small sinking feeling in his stomach. Had never removed Pink Diamond.

“This way my Diamond.” The Jasper moved to walk in front of Steven, jolting Steven out of his thoughts. For a moment he wondered why she hadn’t done that before. Her leading him to where he was meant to go would have actually been useful. And once again, Steven found himself following a gem he didn’t know. The Jasper didn’t even talk to him, unlike Sapphire and Pearl.

It was very telling about the situation that that was what Steven had a problem with. Not the being led around, but the lack of someone talking to him. The silence stretched as they walked and all Steven wanted was something to fill it. The Jasper had to slow her pace to not outpace Steven, whose legs were far to short to keep up with her. It was yet another reminder of how small he was on Homeworld.

Steven wasn’t even allowed the luxury of looking at the walls. The gem work was amazing here, like in Pink Diamond’s quarters the walls had small clusters of gems imbedded in them, making patterns that shone as Steven walked past them. They entered a much bigger room, still a dark blue except this one had murals on the walls. Steven barely got a glance of a pink mural before the Jasper snapped into a salute, looking at the Diamond who was pacing as she muttered.

Blue looked different. She didn’t look as fragile as when Steven last saw her. Now as she worked Steven could understand why gems followed her. She looked threatening. Focused. In charge. She was so different from when she’d left Steven alone with her Pearl.

The Pearl who was stood waiting for her Diamond. Steven’s breath caught when he saw her changed outfit and hair. So, that was why he hadn’t seen her. She’d been poofed and Steven had just left her. Guilt immediately rushed through him at the thought that he may have walked past her gem and just not noticed it.

“My Diamond, I have br…”

“Pink!” Blue turned at the voice of the Jasper and upon seeing Steven rushed forward to pick him up. At the feeling of panic as he was suddenly snatched into her hands his bubble activated itself, making her pause in confusion as she looked down on him. The moment she saw the new outfit was obvious in her wide eyes, the confused joy moving into horror as she stared. “…They hurt you.” She whispered.

Steven popped the bubble, ignoring how shaken he suddenly felt. The crushing feeling in his chest left him as quickly as it had come, leaving him feeling raw as he stood in the hands of the gem who crushed him to death. The hands didn’t tighten to Steven’s relief, but they did move, moving Steven so Blue Diamond could examine his gem for cracks or marks.

She relaxed when she saw nothing wrong with the Diamond on his stomach, and then turned to glare at the Jasper who was still saluting. The Jasper waited loyally, if she was unnerved at the glare she didn’t show it. “And where is the Pearl?” Blue’s voice had changed, going from warm worry and relief to commanding and unwelcoming. The Jasper didn’t flinch.

“I dismissed the Pearl to return to her duties.” The Jasper responded.

“I specified I wanted Pink and the Pearl brought to me.” Blue’s eyes narrowed in warning, but the Jasper never tensed. In fact, she didn’t seem to be aware of her Diamond’s fury at all.

“As instructed, I dismissed the Pearl to return to her duties.” The Jasper repeated. “I was instructed to return her to her duties.” The tone never changed and Blue appeared to realize something, her eyes widening before they once again narrowed in displeasure.

“You’re dismissed.” She snapped, turning so the Jasper was removed from view. She looked down at Steven and smiled, running a finger over his hair in reassurance. “I’m so happy that you’re ok Pink.” She whispered, tears appearing at the edge of her eyes.

Chapter Text

When he’d first been brought to this place, he’d been terrified. But honestly? Lars was always terrified. He’d been scared of not fitting in. He’d been scared of being alone all his life. He’d been scared to fight the big yellow lady who had caught Sadie. And he’d abandoned his friend when he’d been… squished by the big blue lady who kept calling Steven ‘Rose’ or ‘Pink’. And while Lars hadn’t left willingly, it still felt like he’d abandoned Steven. Lars knew he was a coward, but it had been terrifying. The small scream of terror which had just… stopped as the hands closed around Steven and killed him.

And then everyone had panicked at whatever they had saw. The big Yellow lady had stormed out, saying she needed to talk to ‘White’ and the blue lady had started crying loudly into her hands. After that things had become even more confusing, especially when Steven appeared from a weird light. It had been the eyes that had made Lars panic. The pink with diamond pupils. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t Steven.

It wasn’t human.

So, Lars probably deserved everything that was happening to him now. From being taken on the weird ship by a purple lady with white hair, to being thrown onto a conveyer belt which stole his clothes and almost drowned him so it could dump him into this large room which looked like a weird forest and contained even weirder people. The people still tried to talk to him sometimes, even when he tried to hide from them.

Lars just wanted to go home.

He wanted his family, his friends. Sadie. He missed Steven, even if Steven had changed into something after he’d been squashed to death (and at that thought he remembers the scream and how it just ended with horrifying finality. How certain he’d been that Steven had been murdered and how Lars hadn’t done anything).

But this place… Even the ground was wrong. It was springy, like foam. It didn’t hurt when you fell on it like normal dirt did. The grass felt more like artificial fur when he ran his hands over it. And the sky had lines like glass panes running across it. This room was a cage, and Lars couldn’t find a way to leave.

He’d been visited by the purple ladies (They called themselves Amethysts) a couple of times when he’d started crying. Like when he’d found a door in his attempt to escape and had attacked it until he’d hurt himself. So, Lars knew he was being watched. It probably had something to do with the earrings that had been placed into the rim of his ear (the hands had hovered at the lobe before realizing that wasn’t going to work and just chose a different part of his ear to pierce instead).

Not that it mattered, he was still stuck.

“Greetings Lars!” A happy voice yelled behind him. Lars screamed and hit a tree in his desperation to get away from the blonde woman who was insistent on talking with him. “Lars! Are you… hurts…?” Her voice trembled as she said that final word, but she still ran over and helped Lars up from where he now lay.

Even the trees didn’t hurt when you ran into them. They were soft like everything else here. Like everything had been childproofed. He hated it.

“I’m ok.” Lars sighed. At least the… Amethysts hadn’t run in to check on him again. That was still weird, the way they hugged him as he cried and tried to encourage him to talk to them about his problems. They were holding him hostage, and they acted like they wanted him to feel better. Well, they could make him feel better by letting him go home.

“Greetings, everyone. It's time to start the daily routine. Please enjoy your meal during this designated eating period.” The earrings chimed as they glowed.

Great, and now it was time for that stupid routine. It never changed, and the earring pestered you if you didn’t immediately do as it said. It wasn’t even a fun routine, it was like something you would make a five-year-old do to force them to make friends at preschool.

“Come Lars, let us go eat.” J10 (he was fairly sure that was what she’d called herself) smiled as she helped him up, leading him by his hand to the rest of the humans. Somehow, she knew everywhere in this room. She knew where everyone was and even knew how to find Lars with ease.

Lars was starting to believe she was in on this. Whatever this was.

She led him to the rest of the humans with a happy smile on her face, entwining her fingers in his without a thought as she pulled him. Lars followed reluctantly, food was only given in a specific area at a specific time so he couldn’t refuse unless he wanted to miss breakfast.

Once again, the food was sweet and juicy. The food was always the same, the only difference was that it changed colors every day. Today it was a bright red like an apple. Lars ate quietly on the edge of the group, glaring without any heat when anyone got too close. Part of him hoped that they would eventually get the hint and leave him alone, but he knew they wouldn’t. They had decided he was their friend because he’d been placed here against his will.

It must be nice, to be able to look at a stranger and just accept them as a friend. Lars couldn’t understand that feeling. Then again, he couldn’t understand why any of them wanted to talk to him or why they worried about him so much. He was being horrible to them. But none of them understood when he said he wanted to go home and it made him so angry. They couldn’t understand why he was so desperate to see his family and friends again.

They couldn’t understand why he was so scared of wherever this was. They expected him to just… be happy. They expected him to smile and act just like them. And he couldn’t.

He took a big bite out of the fruit in frustration and felt the juice dribble down his chin. He missed the Big Doughnut. He missed cooking. Cooking had always calmed him down, it was one of the few skills he had that he was actually proud of. But here, there was no cooking or Sadie. Only odd fruit that appeared and disappeared and odd humans with odd names.

In a way it was like Earth. In both places he could sit in a group of people and still feel lonely.

He was just so scared. What if he never got home? He’d never see his parents again. He’d never apologize for how he’d worried them. They would never learn what had happened to him. He’d still be here, alone with a group of humans who liked to paw at his hair and try to braid it with flowers when he wasn’t looking. He might end up acting like them, smiling brightly for no reason and doing the same thing over and over again because there was nothing else to do.

He was scared that he might start mindlessly obeying the voice from the earrings like everyone else.

He finished the alien fruit and wiped his mouth with the vest of the new clothes he was wearing. The fabric was soft and it was easy to feel how good it was. Even though the clothes were revealing, the air in the room was the perfect temperature. It wasn’t too hot or cold. Just like everything else in the room, it was all too perfect.

The rest of the day went the same as always. He was forced to smell flowers, roll down a hill and bath in a waterfall with the other humans who had no idea of privacy. Lars washed himself in a more sheltered part, knowing that he was still visible to them. It was humiliating, the way he couldn’t even be alone for this. Like how it was humiliating that they always wanted to touch him and try to get him to wash with them. The first night they’d tried to help him wash his back without asking and hadn’t understood when Lars asked them not to. They hadn’t even understood why Lars insisted on looking away when they cleaned themselves, revealing more skin then Lars felt comfortable seeing.

And explaining didn’t help. The people had never known being apart from each other from what Lars could understand. They’d never needed privacy and moments alone to think and cry. To them, everything was perfect. They loved it here, and they couldn’t understand why Lars didn’t.

That thought made Lars sniff as his eyes watered. He quickly splashed water on his face and tried to stop the tears. He didn’t want the Amethysts to try to talk to him again, to be picked up like a lost child and hugged as they encouraged him to talk. Because even that was pointless when they just kept telling him that he should be happy here. Everything was so overwhelmingly fake and perfect and Lars couldn’t stand it.

He just didn’t know what he was meant to do.

“Lars?” J10 called. He jumped again, awkwardly splashing as he tried to hide his chest from sight, but this time J10 and Y6 were watching him from a distance, no doubt trying not to scare him again. J10 must have mentioned to Y6 about how Lars had run into a tree. “Do you wish to swim with us? We can show you our ‘cannonballs’” J10 smiled welcomingly, her blonde hair sticking to her face and her clothes clinging so inappropriately to her chest that Lars immediately looked away with a dark blush.

“I… I’m ok over here thanks.” Lars kept looking away from her. It wasn’t appropriate damn it. Y6 swam closer and put his face close to Lars’, staring at the blush in confusion. His hands were heavy on Lars’ shoulders as he pushed down without realizing. Thankfully, he wasn’t pushing hard enough that Lars ended up underwater, or they would have a potentially drowned Lars on their hands.

“Why is your face red Lars?” Y6 wondered, raising one of his hands to poke Lars’ cheek curiously. He always drew out Lars’ name like he expected an extra syllable that wasn’t there. Lars blushed darker as the handsome man inched closer towards his face, staring at the continuously changing colors of Lars’ skin in fascination. The mans smile was like a cat’s grin, overwhelmingly playful as he talked to Lars.

“Get away from me!” Lars snapped, pushing him in the chest. It didn’t really help because Lars wasn’t very strong, but it broke whatever spell the man had been under and he finally started respecting Lars’ boundaries again. Lars realized that the yell had drawn the attention of the rest of the group who were now watching him and tried to shrink from sight in embarrassment. “Just… leave me alone.” He sighed moving back to his slightly sheltered corner where he could still be seen by everyone. But here, he could imagine that he had some space to himself, away from everyone and their stares. Lars had never liked swimming, he wasn’t very good at it. And in the big pool of water with the group who could swim as well as fish, it just made Lars more aware of how much he stood out.

Steven would have made friends with these people in an instant. He was so much braver then Lars and so much nicer. Steven was the kind of person people liked to talk to, unlike Lars who always struggled with strangers. Especially strangers who were always nice, because Lars could never be like that. It just… wasn’t him.

“…Lars?”

“Seriously Y6, I’m fine.” He repeated, the words obviously false as Lars hugged himself for comfort. He missed his mom. Why had he always treated his parents so badly? Avoiding them and their hugs… Lars would give anything to hug his mom again. To listen to her as she spoke about her day and ask him about his. He even missed the seagulls and how they always stole his fries when he bought some for himself.

The humans from the Zoo didn’t understand sadness or loneliness. They couldn’t understand why Lars wanted time to himself or privacy to think. They just knew that being around other people was fun and made you feel good. So in their minds, if Lars talked to them he would feel better. To the group of humans, it was very obvious logic. The group had been sheltered so much that they had never needed a more serious solution to a problem.

Behind him Y6 and J10 exchanged slightly worried looks before returning to the group. No one knew how to remove Lars’ hurts and the worry was beginning to wear on the group. They remembered the night ga-reg had hurt them before he and ste-van disappeared, how awful it had felt as they tried to get someone to help them to feel better. So, they had tried to help Lars to remove the awful feeling from inside him.

But Lars didn’t care that they were trying to help him, or that he was upsetting them when he refused help. He just knew that he didn’t want to be in this stupid, unnatural room. And at that thought, the fake sun in the sky changed to a full moon, leaving a clear night sky above him.

“And now it's time to say good night. Good night, everyone. Sweet dreams.” His earring chimed happily. Behind Lars the humans all moved to the shore to fall asleep, shooting Lars worried looks as they walked to find a place they could lay down. Something in the air made the clothes dry rapidly, leaving them dry in mere minutes.

“Would you like to sleep near us tonight Lars?” F3 offered, a tall muscular man with blonde hair that covered his eyes offered shyly. He smiled warmly as he watched Lars try to pull himself out of the water and flop like a soggy blanket when he finally managed.

“I’m good.” Lars muttered into the fake dirt. He held a thumb up in an attempt at reassurance, F3 didn’t know what the gesture meant however. Lars made no move to get up, he was too tired to move now that he was lying down on the soft ground which felt like a giant pillow. Lars hadn’t been sleeping well since he’d arrived. First from panic and then the feeling of wrongness that ran through him when he looked at the sky. He just couldn’t sleep and that was finally catching up to him.

Normally the humans from the Zoo accepted his reluctance to be near them at night and just left him alone. Today F3 walked over, picked up the drowsy Lars in his arms and carried the human over to the group, placing him so he was next to U12 as she slept. Lars immediately curled next to U12 in his sleep and moved his arm over her waist, desperate for human touch and comfort as he slept. F3 lay next to the pair and fell asleep as well, placing his own arm over them both. Since the previous choosening, it had become common for F3 and U12 to sleep together, having discovered they enjoyed the feeling of waking up in another’s arms. This behavior had been adopted by most of the group as well, the humans now sleeping in twos or threes, cuddled together happily.

As anyone not from the Zoo could assume, Lars freaked out when he woke up in the arms of strangers and detangled himself from the arms in panic.

Lars started crying loudly as he tried to move away from the humans who had only tried to help him, crawling in panic. The group watched in horror as the escape attempt led to him falling into the pool of water again with a scream of shock and panic. It took a moment for Lars to right himself, choking on water as he moved to cling the edge of the pond desperately. He was still crying, tears and snot running down his face as he struggled to breath.

And like always, when he reacted like this one of the big purple ladies appeared from the trees. Quietly she picked him up and carried him away from the group as a second Amethyst went to sit with them. Lars was too busy hanging from the arms as he sobbed to notice any of this this.

He felt… wrong. They hadn’t done anything to him and he still felt horrible. That panic when he’d woken up in the arms of strangers in an unfamiliar place… he never wanted to feel like that again.

The Amethyst sat down and moved Lars so he was sitting on her lap, cradled in one of her arms. He fit into the arm like a doll, making it perfectly clear how small Lars was compared to her. He sniffed wiping his eyes. He’d already learned it wasn’t worth trying to escape the grip, the purple women that appeared were much stronger than a regular human.

“Want to talk about it?” She asked, making sure that there was no danger of Lars falling off her lap as she waited for a response. The gem always sounded understanding, like she wanted to help and was willing to listen to Lars as he rambled about his problems.

Although he didn’t know it, Lars had earned a bit of a reputation amongst the Amethysts outside of the room. He was the human who never seemed happy, who always cried. They’d been called in more for him than any other group of humans in the Zoo combined, and rumor was that the Peridot’s were becoming tired of him and how he was affecting the rest of the humans.

“I… They…” Lars muttered pathetically. It sounded stupid in hindsight. ‘I woke up in the arms of strangers and feel horrible now’ just wouldn’t make sense to this people. Just like how nothing here made sense to him. Lars hugged himself as he shivered, he was already dry from the tumble into the water. “Back on Earth humans don’t…”

He trailed off and the Amethyst sighed, using a hand to move her curly hair over her shoulder as she listened. It wasn’t needed of course, gems didn’t need to adjust their hair like humans did, but humans always seemed to appreciate when gems made small, familiar movements around them. And indeed, when she did it Lars seemed to relax. Or at least, he stopped crying, so victory for her either way.

“Nothing here makes sense. These people just keep touching me! And… And…” Lars wilted, leaning into the strong arms. “I just want to go home. I miss the Earth. I miss my family and friends.” He sighed, like he always did during this moments of forced talking.

Whatever the Amethyst was going to say was cut off when another Amethyst walked over to her. Honestly, Lars couldn’t tell them apart. The one holding him had curly hair and the one who had knelt to look sadly at Lars had a gem on her left eye. “I have to take him to Peridot 7AF.” The Amethyst with a gem for an eye told the curly haired one.

Lars was handed over like a lost child and he was carried out of the room without a word being spoken to him. As they walked down the oddly pink and sparkly corridor the pair passed an angry blue lady with multicolored buns in her hair who was yelling at a thin orange person who was cowering in front of her, arms in the shape of a triangle.

Gems, or whatever they were called, were weird. Lars wasn’t even sure what they wanted with a zoo of humans, only that everyone not human here was really big and really organized. But they also appeared to have very little care for the humans beyond ‘keep them alive’ which was… worrying. He wasn’t even sure what a ‘Peridot’ was.

They passed a window and Lars gasped loudly making the Amethyst pause curiously. She lowered him to the ground so he could stare out the window at space. And stare he did, pressing his face to the window with wide eyes.

They were in space.

Space was beautiful, with stars as far as the eye can see and a red sun in the distance. He could even see planets, large as they circled the red giant star. It was also the sight that made Lars realize that he was never going to get home. Dreaming of escape was so easy when reality was far away, hidden from sight. “Oh.” He whispered, unable to express the numerous complicated emotions running through him.

The gem picked him up again after a few moments and carried the dead weight of Lars with ease, not reacting when Lars didn’t struggle. She was gentle as she carried him, making sure his head didn’t hit anything as she walked. She was kind even when lowering him to the floor in front of a pink door which was mostly hidden from sight.

“Good luck.” She muttered, reaching out and swiping a screen next to the door.

Behind the door, sat in a large grey chair, was a tall green woman with yellow hair which formed a hexagon around her face. It was officially the weirdest hairstyle Lars had ever seen, and he kind of knew a woman with an afro that formed the shape of a square. On her forehead rested a triangular green gem which was visible through the yellow goggles which rested over her eyes. Her outfit was green with a blue diamond insignia on her chest.

Lars was pushed inside and the door closed behind him, trapping him inside the room with her.

“Ah, Lars.” She pronounced the name the same way Y6 did, drawing it out as she looked at a green screen hovering in front of her. Her long fingers ran over the odd writing which she was reading quickly. “Are your needs being met appropriately?” Lars blinked at the odd question and the Peridot huffed in mild annoyance. “Are your needs being met appropriately? Is the food adequate? Is the temperature within the appropriate limits?” She expanded.

“Uh… yes?”

“Then why, human Lars, do you insist on needless emotional outburst which negatively affect your fellow humans? What is needed for you to cease such pointless and, quite frankly, irritating displays which causes results which go against our Diamond’s wishes? What needs must be met to make these actions cease?” Her voice never left the monotone as she prepared to take notes.

“Point… I want to go home! You kidnapped me!” Lars stared as the woman just shrugged.

“You were given new purpose, to live life happily in the Zoo for our Diamond’s pleasure. A purpose you refuse to fulfil. In fact, you have been routinely disrupting the human’s routine and emotionally compromising them which is unacceptable. I will make this simple for you as you have proven to have very basic intelligence for an organic. Human Lars, this is your warning. If you continue with such actions, you will be purged from the Zoo.”

Lars tensed when the cold eyes turned to look at him. Her gaze was uncaring, like Lars was an insect to her. He swallowed nervously. “I’m sorry… I just…” He trailed off when the Peridot held up a hand, cutting off his attempted explanation.

“You wish to return to your human creators on your home planet. You struggle to understand the social cues of your fellow humans in the Zoo and have routinely proven yourself to be destructive and emotionally unstable. Your behavior shows you are a defective human, however I have called you here instead of just culling you because you appear to have at least basic intelligence and communication skills. It is preferable that this behavior be corrected instead of wasting a new human, especially after the recent losses.

“This is your only warning Human Lars, you will obey the routine given to you. You will cease upsetting the humans around you. Continue your needless ‘crying’ if you must, but don’t allow it to affect the functional humans in the Zoo. I will make this clear for you Human Lars, you will fulfil your purpose given to you by our illustrious Diamond or you will be given a new one.” Seeing Lars’ confusion at the final statement, she smiled coldly, turning the screen to show a picture of a brain. It had very clearly been dissected and Lars’ stomach turned in disgust and horrified understanding at the sight. “We study deceased humans to understand the way your fragile bodies work. If you should continue to act out…” She closed the screen and watched with satisfaction as Lars winced, message heard loud and clear.

“Now, return to your fellow humans and please remember our discussion.” The woman flicked the air and the door opened behind Lars. The human ran from the room. He ran past the Amethyst who yelled and gave chase, he ran down the corridors past the window which showed space. He ran until he was outside the familiar door which had trapped him for an unknown length of time and Lars leant on it panting, his heart pounding in his chest.

He finally understood that nothing good came from leaving the room with the humans. Because while it was horrible inside, it was even worse outside. He couldn’t even bring himself to cry, still seeing the picture of the dissected brain whenever he closed his eyes.

The Amethyst caught up a few moments later and looked at him in pity. “It didn’t go well?” She asked. Lars shook his head quietly. “Thought not, Peridot’s are annoying.” She huffed as she opened the door, catching Lars by the back of his outfit when he tumbled forward. “You’ll be ok human, just give it time. You’ll see.” She leant over and helped smooth the outfits creases away, she even ran her fingers through his hair to make it a little neater before she waved him inside.

Lars entered obediently and watched the door close behind him feeling numb. He was back in the room. He was still wearing the odd earrings and the odd outfit. The room still felt unnatural in its perfection. He sighed and turned to walk back to the humans. He might as well apologize for upsetting them…

The group didn’t hold his actions against him and welcomed him with open arms, literally. He obeyed every order from the stupid earrings. He ate the food when ordered. He smelled the strongly scented flowers that made his nose itch when ordered. He rolled down the hills, feeling no joy in the act as he stood and watched the other humans acting like children. At night he lay near the group and didn’t argue when someone curled up next to him. He played along like the Peridot wanted. He still cried when no one was looking, but the Amethysts no longer arrived to talk to him during those moments. He was still angry and scared, but he was more scared of dying then he was of the gilded cage he’d been locked in.

And when the earrings gave a new order, summoning him to a ‘circle of choosening’ he obeyed that order as well. Because while Lars still hated this life and the people around him, he didn’t want to die either. He still wanted to go home one day. Maybe one day if he was really lucky he’d get a chance to see his family again. Maybe he’d get to see Steven and Sadie and Buck and… and…

Who knows, maybe one day he’d adjust to life in the Zoo and stop feeling like being here was the worst thing that could happen to him. After all, the people were nice and all of his needs were being met. There was no worry that he would starve to death or die from the cold. And it wasn’t like weird things were going to happen here like the ocean getting stolen back home.

And it wasn’t like Lars had any choice in the matter. It didn’t matter how miserable or scared he was, because the people who ran the Zoo… the Diamond… was never going to let him leave. All he could do was smile and do what everyone wanted, because anything was better then dying alone in space.

Chapter Text

Pink had returned to her and as Blue held the small Diamond in her hands, tears of relief pricked at the edges of her eyes. She ignored them, instead continuing to smile at the proof that everything was still ok. That Pink hadn’t been taken away from her again. Even if Pink’s new appearance showed how close it had come to happening, the familiar weight continued to remind her of Pink’s presence.

Pink’s new outfit was like Yellow’s, with trousers and a coat. It looked lovely, suiting the small frame and pink eyes perfectly. Then again, Blue would have probably loved anything Pink was wearing. But Pink had to have been hurt for the new clothes, her form destroyed like Pearl’s had been.

It explained the lack of destruction in Pink’s Quarters, Pink hadn’t been able to fight back. But it didn’t explain anything else and the Pearl that could have given her answers had been retrieved by White. Blue wasn’t sure when her fellow Diamond had been able to force the order on her Jasper, but Blue was certain it had been her. And judging by her Pearl’s frantic typing, she was already informing Yellow of what had happened.

Pink’s eyes were unreadable, just staring at her. Which was wrong. Pink wasn’t meant to… meant to…

Blue breathed and ran a finger through Pink’s hair again, reminding herself that Pink was still here. Pink was still uninjured and whole and they would discuss what happened later. Blue needed to focus on what was happening now. The rebels. White. Now that Pink had returned there was one less worry, it was easier to remember she still needed to plan. She would need to recall her gems from the search, return them to their assigned work.

No, she needed to refocus the search to find the rebels. She needed to lead. To guide her court.

“Pink.” She kept her voice level and watched Pink’s eyes widen in shock. “Do you know where they were holding you?” How had Pink escaped the rebels? The group must have been organized for them to take her. Had the Pearl fought and rescued her? Or had Pink freed herself? Pink had fought a war for hundreds of years, she clearly had the capabilities. But if the Pearl was White’s like she suspected, then the Pearl could have easily taken on the rebels by herself. According to the stories, Pearl 1 had been a terror on the battle field.

And now Blue wouldn’t know unless White told her, because White had forced the Jasper to release the Pearl from her duties. Which meant that it wasn’t White’s Pearl, because only a Diamond could order another Diamond’s Pearl. But why would White hide that information? Unless her gems were involved in the rebellion, there was no reason to hide the Pearl.

She should have demanded a description of the Pearl from the Jasper before dismissing her. Blue felt a twinge of annoyance at herself, in her relief that Pink was safe she’d dismissed the sole source of information available. No, she thought to herself, there would have been more gems at the hub, security would have seen her. She’d need to question them after returning Pink to her Quarters. Her eyes looked at Pink and remembered there was one other source of information.

“Pink, what did the Pearl look like? Did you see who took you?”

Did they wear a black diamond on their uniforms…?

Pink stammered for a second, appearing to think before wringing her hands. “I… No one took me.” She stammered, and suddenly she looked like she feared Blue would hurt her. Shatter her. Pain stabbed though Blue as she looked at the terrified pink eyes. “I saw Pearl wasn’t there and left willingly.”

Pink had left willingly? Was she lying to defend someone or was she telling the truth? Was she afraid Blue was going to hurt her…? But if she was telling the truth it would explain the fear in Pink’s eyes, if she was explaining this to Yellow then it would have been a valid worry. Blue just wanted to know why. Why would Pink be afraid of her? Why would Pink leave without a guard? More worryingly, why would she leave without her Pearl? Well, a Pearl. Pink still didn’t have her own Pearl.

“I want to go home to Earth.”

Blue’s eyes widened in fury as her hand tightened. She ignored Pink’s noise of terror as she remembered that night those thousands of years ago, where she looked at the pink shards of the youngest Diamond and it had all been her fault. Why?! Why was Pink so insistent to return to the Earth?! That thought drove all other worries out of her mind. The Pearl. The rebels. All she saw was Pink sat in her hand, admitting to trying to return to where they’d lost her. Where the remains of the rebels were still hiding, still controlling Pink from a distance.

“Can’t you see we’re trying to keep you safe?” Blue snapped before reeling her anger back under control. Pink had been trapped on Earth since the war and Blue didn’t know what had been done to her. Blue could be missing something that would explain Pink’s actions. She shouldn’t scare Pink more then necessary, no matter how much Pink’s insistence on leaving hurt her.

“Well I don’t want you to keep me safe, I want to go home!” Pink snapped back, eyes widening in fury as Blue ignored her protests. This. This was the Pink Blue remembered. Rebellious and unwilling to listen to anyone else so long as she got what she wanted. Blue was obviously still missing some of the reports from her Pearl if she hadn’t heard about this part of Pink’s personality returning.

Her response allowed no argument. “You are home.” She held up a hand to cut off Pink’s angry yell. “Pink, you are a Diamond and you nee”

“I’m not P…!” Whatever Pink wanted to yell was cut off by Blue again. Pink may have forgotten, but Blue had experienced her tantrums for thousands of years. In a battle of wills, Blue would win.

“Pink!” Pink paused and realized exactly how much trouble she was in when she saw the look in Blue’s eyes. She paled shrinking in on herself, eyes flickering to the fingers around her as if suddenly afraid of them. “Pink.” She repeated, her voice calmer now that Pink was listening. “You are home. You have returned to Homeworld and for now you need to readjust. You will be given a new court and colony eventually.” She soothed, ‘shh’ing Pink sharply when she went to yell something else. Of course, it was about the Earth, it was always about Pink and her wish for a Colony.

That was always the cause of the arguments.

Blue had always hated the look of defeat that crossed Pink’s eyes when this happened, but for now it couldn’t be helped. Clearly Pink needed to be trained again. This time Blue would do better, would protect her from her own selfishness. “Everything is ok now Pink. Yellow and I are already making plans for your guard so something like this won’t happen again.” She reassured, moving to stroke Pink’s hair again. Whether or not Pink had been taken, this night had proven that Pink couldn’t be left on her own anymore.

Perhaps Pink thought she would be safer on Earth? It was an odd thought, but if Pink had been trapped with the rebels for long enough they could have convinced her of any number of lies. Blue allowed a shred of guilt, she should have taken Pink to White before this. White would have seen the lies from the rebels inside Pink and would have helped to correct them. Perhaps White could return Pink’s missing memories. Blue would arrange to take her to White after the trip to the Zoo, knowing White she would be mysteriously ‘unavailable’ if they turned up unannounced.

Blue would never admit it to anyone, but she was relieved White had nothing to do with her or Pink’s training. It would have been a disaster.

But for now, that wasn’t something that needed to be thought about. Right now, she was dealing with Pink and her stubbornness. The stubbornness which had either led to her being taken or to her leaving at the first chance and risking her safety. Blue wasn’t sure which she would prefer.

“But I don’t want a guard.” Pink muttered after a few moments of sullen silence.

“But you need one, and you will have one. The Amethysts at the Zoo are… unorthodox… but they are loyal to you.” She had made sure of that personally when taking over the Zoo and control of Pink’s gems. She needed to reconsider the fate of the Rose Quartzes at a later date, because in hindsight the cut of gems clearly hadn’t been responsible for Pink’s shattering.

Perhaps some of them could also be included in Pink’s guard. The Peridots from the Zoo would also be useful in Pink’s Court when she started her first (second?) Colony.

Pink blinked before appearing to brighten. “The Zoo?” She gasped, smiling as she realized what Blue was implying. Blue nodded and Pink smiled wider. “When are we going?” It was always fascinating to watch Pink bounce from disappointment to excitement. Her emotions had always been the clearest of the Diamonds. It had been difficult to watch when she was angry or sad, but it made these moments of joy all the better.

“After you tell me about the Pearl.” How much did Pink want to protect the Pearl? Blue was about to find out.

Blue watched Pink’s face fall in clear uncertainty. If Pink was telling the truth, then the line of questioning could be considered useless. However, White was clearly hiding something. While Pink may have left willingly, and Blue would need to work on the assumption she was telling the truth until it was proven otherwise, it didn’t explain everything else. The missing reports, the attack on Pearl, the missing guards. And most importantly, the harvesting.

White wouldn’t need to hide the Pearl if her court wasn’t involved. And it was obvious Pink was hiding information from her.

“Just something about her appearance. Her weapons. How she acted or something she told you.” Blue expanded, watching as Pink’s face fell even more. She wanted to go to the Zoo, but she clearly wanted to protect the Pearl.

As if a Diamond needed to lower herself to protect a Pearl.

“She… she told me about the war.” Pink bit her lip before continuing. Blue was content to wait until she got the information she wanted, Pink would tell her eventually. “How the original gems fought the organics and then started fighting themselves.”

So, it was probably an old Pearl. One who had personally witnessed the beginning of the White Court and the Faction War. Unfortunately, that didn’t help her. There were at least ten Pearls from that period of time that Blue was aware of, and all had fought for the freedom of Homeworld. Even worse, most of them hadn’t been seen in hundreds if not thousands of years. Just like how the rest of the White Court hadn’t been seen on Homeworld in th...

It was like hitting a wall. The moment she started to consider how little of the White Court she’d actually seen over the thousands of years, about how odd that was when they were the largest court on Homeworld, the line of thought stopped itself. It twisted itself until she couldn’t remember what she had originally been thinking. Blue didn’t notice the way the thought changed, taking her away from a conclusion she should have reached years ago.

“…Are you ok…?” Pink’s voice was distant and Blue realized that she’d been ignoring Pink again. She smiled gently, moving to continue stroking Pink’s hair. The movement relaxed her, helping sooth old worries.

“I’m fine Pink.” She reassured, blinking slowly. The haze that had covered her thoughts removed itself as quickly as it had come.

What had she…? The Zoo. She was going to take Pink to the Zoo for her guard and make plans to see White afterwards. Everything suddenly focused as Blue remembered. Pink had returned to them and they’d had another argument. But everything was better now, Pink had become excited about going to the Zoo and Blue had…

Had asked a question. About a Pearl. The Pearl who had helped Pink. And Pink had talked about the Pearl’s odd history lesson. Yellow would be disappointed, Blue knew that Yellow had wanted to tell Pink about Homeworld’s history. The Black Court always withheld information when telling it to gems. Not even White would tell Blue and Yellow the full story of the war.

The question probably wasn’t important enough to worry about. Blue still had to look for the rebels who had attacked her Pearl and stopped her receiving her reports. She needed to guide her court in their search. There was too much to do to focus on such unimportant details.

Pink looked worried, eyes wide as she looked up at Blue. How odd, it was Blue that should be worried. Pink had disappeared and didn’t appear to be aware of how much she had scared her fellow Diamonds. Blue kept smiling, hoping to reassure Pink that everything was still ok. Hoped that Pink would realize that Blue forgave her for her actions. Blue should have given her the Amethysts sooner after all.

“Pearl, take Pink back to her quarters.” Blue lowered Pink and gently placed her on the floor. Pink still looked worried as Pearl walked over and stood next to her, but eventually Pink left with the Pearl and Blue straightened to continue her work. It was easier to focus now she could tell herself that Pink was still safe. When her work here was finished, she would take Pink to the Zoo and Pink would have her guard again. It would be yet another worry off Blue's mind.

Perhaps restarting her court would help calm Pink’s anger. It had helped before, when Pink had been given the Earth, after all. And with that thought, Blue returned to her work. She hummed to herself lightly as she continued to look for the rebels, she would ask another gem about the Pearl when she had time. After all, it couldn't be that important.

Chapter Text

“What was that?” Steven asked as he followed Pearl down the corridor. Pearl turned to look at him in confusion, her now longer hair falling past her chin and tickling her shoulders. It made her look older, which was an odd thought since she was thousands of years old. But as Steven stared he noticed that yes, the new hair did make her look different. It was the way it framed her face. The other difference since the last time Steven had seen her was that her skirt now reached her ankles.

She had been poofed and Steven had just left her gem. He hadn’t even tried to find her. “My Diamond?” She asked curiously. Steven was also getting the feeling that she was disappointed in him, which… ouch. Although Steven couldn’t blame her, it still hurt.

“With Blue. She was talking and then…”

And then her eyes had glazed over for a few seconds, unfocused as she stared at Steven. For those few seconds she had just looked confused, like she had lost her train of thought and never regained it. It was scary, to see those usually intense eyes change so suddenly.

As Pearl silently tilted her head, Steven wondered if Pearl had missed it as well or if there was a reason she wasn’t saying anything. Pearl touched a finger to her lips gently, shook her head and kept walking.

“P… Pearl?”

“My Diamond must be tired after today.” Pearl’s voice was soft as she spoke, refusing to look at Steven. She walked over to the warp pad and stepped daintily onto it, looking at Steven when he didn’t join her. Steven swallowed and followed, unsure why Pearl wasn’t answering his questions but getting the feeling he probably didn’t want the answers she would give.

But it wasn’t fair. None of this was fair. And even though people kept telling him he was a Diamond and that people would listen to him… they weren’t. Well, at the very least Blue wasn’t. He was having to sneak around and then when he snuck around he got in trouble. …Actually, not much had changed in that regard, the Crystal Gems didn’t like to tell him anything either.

Had they known about Pink Diamond? They couldn’t have known. But if they didn’t know, how would they react when he got back to Earth looking like… this? Steven’s mind returned back to that train of thought and it was horrible because Steven was tired of doubting everyone. But he was also annoyed at himself for upsetting Pearl, who kept her head low, hair covering her face. Her posture was stiff, hands clasped in front of her as if looking for comfort. It was very different from how she usually held herself, how she almost always looked relaxed as she followed Steven around.

“Pearl? Are you ok?”

“Y… Yes, My Diamond.”

“I’m sorry.” She tensed at the apology and looked at Steven, not activating the warp pad. Steven tried to meet her eyes but couldn’t. “I just… left you. I didn’t even look. I was so desperate to get out of that… that room that I never thought to look for you. Anything could have happened to you and… and… and I…”

“It’s not My Diamond’s place to protect me.” Pearl whispered. “I failed my duty to you and My Diamond. And through my mistake, My Diamond was placed into danger.”

And that just made Steven feel worse, because Pearl didn’t sound like she blamed him. In fact, she seemed to feel guilty that Steven had been placed in danger and being unable to help. Which made no sense, because Pearls don’t…

Because Homeworld Pearls don’t fight. Shouldn’t fight. But that Pearl from the Kindergarten had. His Pearl had. Blue Pearl didn’t, she wasn't allowed.

“But everything’s ok. I wasn’t hurt, I just went outside.” Steven tried to reassure with a small smile, placing his hands on his chest to try and remind her that he was still there. Still ok. He wasn’t sure what he could say which would help Pearl, but that seemed like a good start. Pearl finally looked in Steven’s direction and Steven could sense the frustration that seemed to be boiling inside of her.

“My Diamond, someone dissipated my form. They entered your quarters, poofed my form and hid my gem so you wouldn’t notice that I was missing. Your leaving without anyone being aware was planned and I couldn’t stop it. My Diamond entrusted you to my care and… and…”

Her hands started shaking as she stood at attention, clasped so tightly in front of her that if she was human the knuckles would have changed color. Steven watched wide eyed as a tear fell from her chin.

“And I couldn’t protect you.” She finished, her voice so low and sad that Steven wished he could hug her. And after a few moments of hesitation he did, taking the few steps forward and hugging Pearl around her waist because she was still bigger then him. “M… My…?”

“I don’t blame you.” Steven reassured, because he doesn’t. Pearl hadn’t done anything, didn’t deserve the bitterness that still rests in him from this entire situation. “You’ve been great. I just wanted…”

No, he couldn’t. No one wanted to hear about how Steven wanted to return to the Earth. The mere attempt to say it made Steven remember how Blue’s eyes narrowed in cold fury at him, fingers twitching to curl around him.

He couldn’t say it, but he can feel the way Pearl tensed when he stopped talking. It was obvious that she knew what he wanted to say. But unlike Blue, she didn’t say anything against his wish to return home. Pearl merely dipped her head in a small nod and stepped back, away from Steven.

“I just wanted to leave that room.” Steven finished, the words sounded like a weak excuse. “I wanted my friends.”

Could he tell Pearl about the Off Colors? About how he had invited them into his Court? It would be nice to tell her about them, about how much fun they had had together in the Kindergarten. About Rhodonite, Padparadscha, the Rutile Twins and Fluorite. How he had protected them from the robonoids that almost shattered them.

The thought of telling Pearl about the Off Colors left him suddenly cold, shoulders tensing as he thought of Blue Diamond ordering his Court shattered. How could he endanger them like that? They were his, his to protect and… and… And to lead. They relied on him and Steven had just left them in the Kindergarten, alone, unprotected… He searched himself for the right word, because there was something wrong with that thought. He realized with a jolt. Unguided. They were unguided, without a leader in a dangerous place.

…Oh.

He bit his lip and didn’t say anything. He couldn’t say anything, not when his friends were at risk. He could feel Pearl’s eyes watching him through her hair however, still quiet and loyal despite everything. Was she a friend? She’d been with him in Pink diamond’s quarters for weeks, talking to him and explaining Homeworld.

“My Diamond, we’re blocking the warp pad.” Pearl said finally, breaking the almost understanding silence between them. She appeared to be feeling better, which was great because Steven had no idea how to help comfort her otherwise. The hug had made her uncomfortable, although that was probably due to Steven’s Diamond status more than the actual hug. He couldn’t imagine Blue Diamond hugging someone.

“Oh, right.” Steven waited for a few moments before remembering what Pearl always insisted on. “Pearl, please activate the warp pad.” He kept forgetting how determined Pearl was to make sure he treated her like a P… like a Homeworld Pearl. While he kept forgetting that, he did remember how happy being allowed to do this sort of stuff made her however. It was easier not to argue honestly, especially when he still struggled to open doors.

“Of course, My Diamond.” She smiled.

He missed her calling him Steven.

The teleport hub was still buzzing with energy and whispers which fell quiet the moment Steven stepped off the warp pad followed by Pearl. Steven paused as he watched the gathered gems salute, smiles forming as the gems realized who he was. Especially the gems wearing the blue diamond insignia, who looked close to tears at his presence. The warp pad to Pink Diamond’s quarters was blocked by the small crowd which was… problematic.

Steven waved at the crowd awkwardly as he smiled. “Uh… hi?”

He was rewarded with gasps and mutters of ‘she’s speaking to us!’. Behind him Pearl stood straight, a faint smile hidden by her hair as she watched the small Diamond interact with his subjects. Steven meanwhile felt the awkward smile fall as the gems edged closer to look at him, staring at his eyes in wonder.

‘Pink Diamond’ was the most common whisper he could hear from the crowd as they muttered amongst themselves. Steven floundered for a second before smiling again, wringing his hands. The gems were still saluting, the Amethysts and Jaspers and Carnelians all gathered to look at him.

“Uh… continue?” He tried, if he remembered correctly that had been what was what he was supposed to say to stop the gems saluting. They continued staring, only a few dropping the salutes. They hadn’t heard him, Steven realized. In their shock they had missed his dismissal.

“My Diamond, you need to…” Pearl started to whisper into his ear, preparing to advise him.

“Pink.” A cold voice stated. A very familiar, stern voice. Steven turned in shock as did all the other gems.

Yellow Diamond was looking down at him from her warp pad, eyes narrowed as she took in the scene in front of her. Had she seen Steven’s attempt at dismissing the other gems? For some reason the idea horrified Steven, the idea that she had seen his failure.

After a few seconds Yellow’s eyes turned to the Quartzes. “Return to your posts!” She ordered, and just like that the Quartzes were moving, either to a teleport pad to leave, to the walls to stand at attention or to the sides of the warp pads where they stood guard. It left the center of the room empty with the exception of Steven and Pearl who stepped away from Steven slowly before saluting.

“Uh… Hi Yellow?” Steven waved shyly and then shrank in on himself when Yellow narrowed her eyes at him again. She had definitely seen his failed dismissal.

“Where are you going Pink?” Yellow finally sighed, stepping off the warp pad to walk over. Like Blue Diamond she towered over Steven, her eyes never leaving his as she walked over. Her Pearl walked behind her, face disapproving as she looked at Blue Pearl. Yellow Diamond glanced around the room quickly before returning her stare to Steven. “And where is your guard? You can’t just walk around without protection.” The ‘not after yesterday’ was left unsaid. Somehow Yellow managed to sound disapproving and worried at the same time as she spoke. Mostly disapproving.

“I was just returning to P… my quarters.” Steven caught himself before he could say he wasn’t Pink Diamond. He wasn’t sure how Yellow would react to that slip up, although he really hoped it wouldn’t be like Blue. Blue got scary when she was angry.

He watched as Yellow’s eyes moved from him to Pearl, clearly finding her inadequate. “Pearl.” She pointed at Blue Pearl sharply. “Follow me. Pearl.” She pointed at her own Pearl who smiled brightly, perking up as she awaited her order. “Stay with Pink. Contact me if anything happens. You.” She pointed at a random Amethyst wearing a yellow diamond on her uniform. The Amethyst saluted. “Protect Pink, you are to stay with her no matter what she orders.”

Steven blinked slowly as Blue Pearl bowed with a quiet ‘Yes, My Diamond’ and Yellow Pearl bounced over to his side, standing proudly next to Steven. He was also sure Yellow Pearl sent Blue Pearl a smug smile as she watched the blue gem walk over to Yellow Diamond.

“And Pink.” Steven looked up at the oddly soft words. “Have Pearl contact me if you need me or Blue, no matter how unimportant it is.” And with those words Yellow walked over to Blue’s warp pad followed by Blue Pearl and warped away, leaving a quiet room and a highly confused Steven behind.

“Uh…” Steven stared at the thin air left by Yellow’s absence. He had no idea what just happened. He glanced at Yellow Pearl who watched him without any emotion in her eyes. She had assumed the same position Blue Pearl liked to take when Steven wasn’t talking to her, standing straight with her hands crossed in front of her.

The Amethyst walked over and stood next to Steven, looking more then a little bit lost now that her orders had been changed. The light lilac gem stood awkwardly, clearly trying to hide how nervous she was as Steven turned to look at her. Light purple hair, lilac skin, very big. She looked like most of the other Amethysts Steven had seen, except her gem was on her chest and her hair seemed slightly wilder then his Amethyst.

You know what? Steven was going to have a nap. He suddenly felt tired. And he wasn’t sure whether it was from the stress of the day or the fact that he just didn’t want to deal with anything else, but a nap suddenly felt appealing. He walked over to Pink Diamond’s warp pad and stood on it, knowing he had been followed by the other gems by the sound of their footsteps. Now that everyone was quiet, the steps seemed much louder than before. Steven activated the warp pad without thinking, determined to just get to the room as quickly as possible.

He missed (or maybe ignored) the scandalized gasp of the Pearl when he walked off. He’d probably get a lecture about a Pearl’s job again if she was like Blue Pearl. It was a quiet walk to the room, Steven not arguing as Pearl opened the door before he could reach it.

“Uh… My Diamond?” The Amethyst’s voice was slightly deeper than his Amethyst’s as she spoke. She stood inside the open door, trying desperately not to flinch when Steven looked at her. “Should I guard the door?”

“Oh… I guess…?” He had a guard now. What was Steven meant to do with her? He glanced at Yellow Pearl who offered no advice, merely observing him from nearby. She almost appeared to be judging him, looking to see what he would do with the Amethyst. “You can stand there?” He pointed to where Blue Pearl had stood when Steven had first arrived. Steven glanced at Yellow Pearl. “I don’t really know what you can do.” He added apologetically. He wasn’t sure what Yellow Pearl was meant to do with him.

“I have work I can finish, My Diamond.” Yellow Pearl was still standing in that odd pose, holding her hands together as she looked at Steven. Unlike Blue Pearl, Yellow Pearl seemed much more unfriendly. She was definitely Yellow Diamond’s Pearl.

“Hey… if I wanted to ask you something, would you answer me?”

Yellow Pearl seemed stunned at the question, mouth opening and closing slowly as she sought an answer before stammering “Of… Of course I would, My Diamond. Why wouldn’t I?” She actually looked insulted at the insinuation that she would ignore a Diamond’s orders.

It was a stupid question, but Steven wanted to be sure. He loved his Pearl, but she’d danced around questions frequently. All of the Crystal Gems, aside from Amethyst, had.

“What… What’s White Diamond like?” He wanted to take back the question the moment Yellow Pearl tensed, her shock disappearing into worry. “She keeps being mentioned, and she must be really important to Homeworld but I haven’t heard anything else about her. What’s she like?”

Yellow Pearl threaded her fingers together, eyes narrowing as she thought. “White Diamond is the Matriarch of Homeworld. She is a wise and just leader who helped lead Gemkind to freedom from their organic oppressors.” Steven waited for Yellow Pearl to continue talking when she paused. “My Diamond, such questions are better directed to Yellow Diamond. Should I send a note?” She added suddenly smiling brightly, summoning her screen in anticipation of Steven’s request.

“No, it’s ok. I’m going to go have a nap.” He floated onto the giant pillow and then turned when he was followed up by the Pearl. “You know what sleep is right?” Steven asked slowly, it was easy to forget that most gems don’t know. And indeed, Yellow Pearl shook her head. “Sleep is… when a human rests for a few hours.”

“…Yes My Diamond.” It was clear the Pearl had no idea what he was talking about, but Steven was already settling onto the giant pillow to have a nap. Beside him, Yellow Pearl summoned her screen and began to type quickly, glancing at the Diamond as she worked.

As Steven drifted off he allowed a small amount of disappointment. He’d hoped to learn a little bit more about White Diamond then he had. He was kinda worried about Aquamarine (although she really didn’t deserve it). And he wanted to learn more about the Faction War.

Steven drifted into an uneasy sleep with those thoughts swirling in his head.

 

He landed with a grunt. He opened his eyes to see a number of uncomfortably bright lights which hung from the ceiling and pointed at the center of the room. He sat up with a gasp, staring at the ceiling which was designed with odd purple metal that shone in the light. Where was he?

“Isn’t it curious?” A voice muttered behind him. Steven turned sharply to look at the source of the voice. When his eyes noticed the bottom of layered robes, he started to look up, but he couldn’t see very well with the bright lights that spotted the roof.

Instead Steven began to fly, small rockets coming out of his feet the moment he realized that he needed to go higher. As he went up he saw that he was looking at a large chair. He landed on the arm of the chair, next to a long white arm which hung lazily off the side.

The next thing Steven noticed was the black diamond insignia visible between the gap of her… robes? And how her cape sparkled like the walls around Homeworld. His eyes finally met white eyes with diamond pupils. They seemed unfocused as they looked a little above him, before she sighed heavily. Slowly she moved her hand to rub the diamond on her forehead.

“What’s curious?” Steven asked, suddenly very aware of how small he was.

“That no matter how long it has been since our victory, I keep finding myself in this room.” She pointed at a window on the wall, her movements unsteady as she gestured. Steven looked at the odd plumes of smoke behind the window who looked down on them. Hands of smoke touched the cracked glass, and even from here Steven could hear oddly high-pitched chittering which went through his head.

“But then, I suppose it doesn’t really matter anymore. In the end, the past is still gone even as it torments me.” White Diamond sighed, closing her eyes as she sat back. “Now, Pink. Why are you in my mind?”

And as the dream started to fuzz with static around him, Steven realized that he really shouldn’t be here.

Chapter Text

“Now, Pink. Why are you in my mind?” White Diamond asked, eyes moving so she was looking at the window. Her gaze was distant as she stared at the smoky figures. But the dream was full of static, the noise mixing with the chittering that never seemed to stop. In fact, it slowly became louder and louder until it returned to a normal volume.

“Well… I… I went to sleep and I…”

“I see.” She nodded lazily, resting her head on her hand as she cut Steven’s explanation off. Her anger disappearing as quickly as it had appeared. “Very well, I shall forgive you. This time.” She added. With her free hand she gestured sharply. “Now leave. These memories are private.” She continued staring at the glass and the odd creatures of smoke. Steven didn’t move, wasn’t sure he could leave. He had so many questions and this was his chance to get answers. Instead he looked around the empty room and saw windows like the one White Diamond kept staring at. And in all of them, there were creatures of smoke behind them.

“What is this place?” Steven’s voice was low as he asked, because the room was creepy. It was empty, and the only door he could see was too small for White Diamond to use, it was bigger than Steven, but not by much. How was White Diamond meant to leave?

White Diamond was silent, the static becoming slightly louder before fading away.

“This place is a memory.” She didn’t expand on her answer for a few moments, in fact she didn’t move at all. Finally, she sighed again. This sigh was quieter, sadder. “Hundreds of years trapped staring at these walls, viewed by the ones who created me. I can’t even remember their faces anymore. Just the noises as they spoke.” She returned to looking at (or at a point near, Steven wasn’t sure which) the small Diamond. “Why are you here Pink? You agreed to not enter my mind after the last… attempt.” She finished with a small, oddly calm smile as she remembered. Something pricked the back of Steven’s mind. Small but uncomfortable, Steven felt it pushing before it disappeared entirely.

She chuckled suddenly, a low sound which sent shivers running down Steven’s spine. Something about the noise didn’t seem right. There was an undercurrent to the chuckle which shouldn’t be there.

“But I suppose I should refer to you with your correct name. Steven. Why are you still in my mind?” She asked again, voice becoming a low snarl as Steven took a small step back. He stopped backing away when his heel touched the edge of the chair.

“I wanted to talk to you. About Aquamarine.” Well, he had wanted to talk to White about her. It wasn’t Steven’s best idea, but by this point it probably wasn’t his worst either.

“Ah yes, the Aquamarine.” White Diamond finally sat forward, closing her eyes as she thought. “I should shatter her.” White Diamond admitted easily as put her hands together. Steven blinked at the sight of her long nails and how pointed they were. “Over confidant, lazy, deceitful. Her presence is a detriment to any Court who does not control her with a strong hand and will. However,” She added, holding up a hand as Steven got ready to argue. “We do not have the resources to waste. Aquamarines are difficult to create, and this one is… powerful.” She made a face of annoyance. “I have a punishment in mind for her, she will survive.”

“Will it hurt her?”

“I suppose it would depend. She will lose her current standing with the Blue Court at the very least, which in her mind would be considered very painful. She may prefer shattering to the idea of that.” White Diamond shrugged lazily, showing little care as she discussed ripping a gem from her Court. “Can you accept the consequences?”

“What consequences?” The way White Diamond said the word sounded almost like it was a threat, even as she didn’t look at him.

“All actions have consequences, Pink. Steven. Your actions brought you to Homeworld, away from your ‘friends and family’. And now you are a Diamond, starting a Court of defective gems and going against Yellow and Blue’s wishes. What will the consequences of that be? Who knows. Aquamarine will be punished for her actions, but the results of her punishment will be unpleasant. And no matter what happens, you’ll need to remember that you chose to spare her.” White Diamond just kept looking at the window, small glances turned into a dead stare, her eyes distant. “And remember, you must always live with the consequences of your actions. No matter how good your intentions, because you can never take them back.”

She sounded distant again.

“Well… I’ll accept the consequences.” Steven finally agreed. Whatever White Diamond had planned couldn’t be that bad… right?

White Diamond hummed to herself doubtfully but otherwise didn’t respond. Her fingers slowly tapped at the arm of the chair as she thought until finally, she stood. She was much taller then Steven could have ever imagined. She was bigger then Blue or Yellow, who already towered over the small Diamond. In fact, Steven was barely the size of one of her fingers. Behind the glass the creatures of smoke appeared to waver in fear, the chittering becoming screeches of fury as they watched her stand of her own free will.

“I grow tired of this memory.” She walked and the wall in front of her changed like ripples of water, the entire wall disappearing with the ripples to show a throne in a large white room with the symbol of the Diamond Authority on the floor inside a large white diamond. To the side of the large throne stood an almost black Pearl, with long hair that fell over her shoulders and curled around her neck like a long scarf.

Steven followed in confusion, landing next to the Pearl who stared right through him. She was wearing a leotard like Blue and Yellow Pearl, the mesh forming see through trousers around her legs and ending tight around her ankles just above her black shoes. The Pearl’s eyes were an odd greenish black, they shone as they reflected the lights around her.

“Pearl 1.” White Diamond commented as she sat. “My Pearl.”

The Pearl turned to look at her Diamond as she was mentioned, and the light on her hair reflected in a variety of colors. Green, silver and a light red. But she showed no other signs that she had heard anyone talking. Her Pearl was black and rested on her forehead, reflecting the same variety of colors that shone on her hair.

“She’s pretty.” Steven whispered, staring.

“What else can you want? Why haven’t you just left yet?” Before Steven could answer the question, the room was filled with static. Everything became fuzzy for a few moments, leaving Steven and White Diamond alone in the dark. She watched his reaction quietly, moving so her hands were resting on her lap as she waited for her answer.

The room refocused so quickly that Steven was left dizzy while his eyes adjusted. He shook his head and stared at White Diamond, who was probably causing the static to mess with him. “I wanted to know about the Faction War.”

“No, you don’t.” Her voice sounded so… dismissive. “No one wants to remember mistakes. No one wants to know about the Faction War.”

Steven moved his foot awkwardly and looked down when something touched his foot. Gem shards. Hundreds of them, scattered on the floor shining like broken glass. Around him he could hear screams of fear and anger as weapons clashed loudly, smoke tainted the sky a murky black as it blocked out the sun. The odd buildings that once stood had been destroyed, burned husks of metal which were being smashed by large gems fighting their way through them. But even as he stood staring at the battle field, he could see gems as they fought, determination on their faces as they lunged for the kill only for weapons to destroy their form or their gem.

This time the return to the throne room was a relief, stopping the awful noises which had shaken Steven to the core. He’d never seen a war before. Had never really heard about one, but that memory…

“No one wants to know about the war.” White Diamond repeated slowly, her voice low and detached as she stared past him. Beside her the Pearl rested her hand on the Diamond’s leg in an attempt at comfort. The movement was mechanical, like the Pearl hadn’t even thought about it before offering the comfort. “Now get out of my mind Pink. Before I remove you myself.” It was obvious her patience had run out, eyes narrowed at a point a little to Steven’s right. Her frown had become vicious and before Steven could willingly leave, White Diamond clicked her fingers sharply.

Steven woke with a yell of pain, holding his head in his hands as something shrieked in his ears. It was like glass being ground together, the noise digging into his brain as he tried to block his ear drums for a single moments peace.

“My Diamond?!” Someone yelled in the distance.

The noise stopped, leaving Steven blinking slowly at the pink ceiling.

Quiet.

It was beautiful. The peace of the room, so very different from the nightmare from which Steven had awoken. He sat up slowly, placing his hand on his head as he swayed on the spot. His balance felt off, like the ground was swaying beneath him. He blinked and his eyes were full of purple as a large gem knelt in front of him, hands held up to show she wasn’t a threat.

“Are you ok My Diamond?” The Amethyst asked urgently. Her eyes were wide as she looked over Steven’s body, looking for a reason for the yelling.

“I don’t know, she just started screaming.” A high-pitched voice cried in the distance. “What do I do, My Diamond?!”

“I’m ok. It was just… just a bad dream.”

Had it been a dream? It had felt real, but if it was real then how could he have entered White Diamond’s dreams? Gems don’t sleep so it should be impossible.

It had to be real though, because he’d never seen White Diamond before. He’d never been told about her, so how could he just… know… that that had been her? In the back of his mind rested an odd certainty that it had happened. He could remember all the details of the conversation.

The Amethyst didn’t look convinced. “We need to get you to Yellow Diamond.” She reached out to help him up and then froze, realizing that she had been about to touch Steven without his permission. Steven just grabbed her hand and used it to pull himself up, then he used the grip to keep himself steady as the world swayed again.

Whatever that dream had been, it had been much more strenuous on him then when he had helped Kiki with her dreams. He felt exhausted, in fact he would be quite happy to just lie down and go back to sleep again.

The Amethyst stared at their connected hands in wonder. She was touching a Diamond. A Diamond had touched her and she wasn’t letting go. Should Amethyst pull back? Her Diamond hadn’t told her she could, her Diamond was just standing there blinking uncertainly at her. In the end the Amethyst stood frozen, not saying anything as the Diamond held her hand for support.

“What are you doing?!”

The Amethyst snatched her hand back at the yell and Steven stumbled, falling face first onto the pillow as Yellow Pearl ran over to them from where she’d been making her report. She glared at the Amethyst as she ran past and stopped next to Steven wide eyed.

“I’m still ok.” Steven yelled into the pillow, his voice muffled. And he was, the shock from the fall had jolted something in his head back into place. This time he stood easily and looked around at the gathered gems who were staring back at him.

“My Diamond, My Diamond is on her way.” Yellow Pearl stood straight with an odd look in her eyes. “And she’ll be having words with you.” She added coldly to the Amethyst who flinched. “Touching a Diamond, you know that’s forbidden!” The Amethyst’s eyes widened in panic at the Pearl’s words.

“Actually, I touched her.” Because while his bad day kept getting worse, he wasn't going to let the Amethyst get hurt because of Steven. The Amethyst just looked at him wide eyed, as if shocked by his support against the strict Pearl.

Yellow Pearl frowned before breathing out slowly. “My Diamond.” She finally said, still displeased but not arguing.

They fell silent, watching each other nervously. Pearl stood quietly by Steven’s side, eying Steven when no one was looking at her. Her eyes slowly ran over him, checking for any sign that he would start screaming again. Otherwise, she stayed out of his way as she waited for an order. An idea of what Steven wanted.

Steven just sighed in defeat and sat down. If Yellow Diamond was coming then there was no point moving from his spot.

Chapter Text

Steven waited with a small look of nervousness that he couldn’t hide. Yellow would probably arrive soon if she had been with Blue in her quarters. And if Yellow had been informed, it was almost guaranteed that Blue knew as well. To the side of him he could feel Yellow Pearl hovering, no longer working on her screen like she had been before.

“I’m fine, really.” He reassured her with a small smile as he turned to look at her. She blinked slowly at him and Steven could see the fight in her to not narrow her eyes at his attempted reassurance. After a few moments of her watching him she smiled, clasping her hands together as she bounced to balance on her toes.

“Would you like me to cheer you up my Diamond? A song perhaps? Or a dance?” She offered brightly. Steven looked at her, unsure of how to reply. He knew what she was doing, Blue Pearl had done the same thing when they had first met. She was trying to make him happy, like Yellow Diamond had told them to do on the Zoo for Blue. He can remember the way the Pearls had danced, light on their feet as they balanced gracefully in a sudden dance that they had both seemed to know.

Pearls could dance beautifully, but they had to be able to do so on Homeworld. They were probably made with the knowledge of how to entertain already programmed into their minds.

The Amethyst looked between the two of them uncertainly, unsure what she was supposed to do for them. She especially didn’t like the small looks the Pearl sent her when Steven wasn’t looking, smug that the Amethyst knew her place, stood at a distant still, quiet and loyal. Which, to be fair, was what was expected of an Amethyst. They were guards, not talkers.

Steven finally shook his head after a few moments of thought. If he was honest with himself, if he was going to watch a Pearl dance he’d rather watch Blue Pearl. Yellow Pearl just seemed… different. He wasn’t sure of the correct thought, but it was something in her eyes even as she smiled at him. Always watching him, waiting for something.

It wasn’t like Blue Pearl had never hovered around him. She did, very frequently but she had always seemed calm as she did so, never pushing Steven. He still wasn’t sure what to make of the loud, high pitched Pearl who had looked disappointed when Steven turned down her offer of entertainment.

But he did know one thing. He really wanted Yellow Pearl to stop looking down on the Amethyst, who still looked scared and sad while guarding him. It wasn’t her fault that Yellow Diamond had picked her. It wasn’t her fault that Steven had no idea what to do with her either. Steven wasn’t even sure what Homeworld expected an Amethyst to do. Were they only meant to fight? Or was their more to them and Steven hadn’t seen it?

His thoughts were interrupted by the door opening and Blue Diamond rushing in, looking around frantically. Her eyes fell on him and she reached out to pick him up before freezing, uncertainty crossing her face.

Maybe she had finally noticed the look of fear on Steven’s face.

Slowly she pulled back her hands as she looked him over, but she didn’t move to grab him again. Instead she wrung her hands as she worried.

“Blue, give her room.” Yellow said as she also entered, her eyes also moving to rest on Steven. Her gaze felt cold as it ran over Steven, narrowed eyes stopping to stare at his gem.

Blue must have run to the room from the warp pad, Steven realized. She must have been worried about him when Yellow Pearl reported him being in pain and had rushed over with Yellow and Blue Pearl. Said Pearl was standing next to the door, body straight with worry as she looked at where Steven was sitting.

“What happened? Was it the rebels?!” Blue added sharply as she looked at the Amethyst and Yellow Pearl. The two gems had snapped into a salute as the Diamonds entered and were now looking up at a very worried Blue Diamond. Her worry turned into irritation as she waited for an answer that didn’t come.

The only thing that stopped Steven’s instinctual shudder of horror at the mere thought of being trapped under her gaze, was the fact that any sign of fear would turn Blue’s attention back to him. Against his natural instincts, he stood up and looked at the Diamonds as he wondered how he could reassure them that he was ok. Anything to stop the fussing that he knew was coming.

“Pink, you need to rest.” Yellow started gently as he found his balance on the uneven pillow. It shifted under his feet as he moved, which was great when he needed to sleep. Not so much when he needed to stand on it. Her voice had risen slightly in worry as she watched Steven wobble precariously on the uneven surface. Blue quickly moved her hand to catch Steven if he fell, giving him something to help balance himself on.

“I’m fine. Really.” He added seeing the stern look of ‘I know you’re lying’ that crossed Yellow and Blue’s faces. “I am.” Even the Amethyst looked unsure about whether or not to believe him, which was amazing because normally people just took him at his word. It had taken a few months for the Crystal Gems to realise that he had been struggling with… everything… after the first time he met Jasper and Peridot.

“My Diamonds.” Yellow Pearl began nervously, all smugness gone as Yellow Diamond turned to look down on her from where she stood. “Pink Diamond was… sleeping…?” She glanced to the side to look at Steven with the use of the unfamiliar word.

“I fell asleep and…” Steven started to explain before he stopped, suddenly unsure about what to say. He missed the confused glances of Yellow and Blue at the unfamiliar word, however they stayed silent as they waited for answers.

Did he say it? Did he tell them about his dream? About how he had spoken to White Diamond and managed to anger her? About the noise in his head that had pierced his skull until he held his ears in a desperate attempt to stop it?

“And I had a weird dream. I…”

He had to. There was no reason that White Diamond wouldn’t tell them and not telling them would make them angry at him.

“I was talking to White Diamond.” He heard Yellow take in a sharp breath, eyes widening as Steven spoke. Blue went to say something but Yellow ‘shh’ed her sharply, placing a hand on her chin as she listened in a clear sign she was thinking. “We were in this big room and she was talking about how she kept returning to it even after she hadn’t been there for years. And…”

He told them about the dream despite the feeling that he shouldn’t. He wasn’t sure why, but he could feel the Diamond’s unease as he spoke. Even the Pearl’s had started to look scared, especially when he described Pearl 1 and how the dream had faded repeatedly into static.

“I asked her about the Faction War.” Steven admitted looking down at the cushion. Both Diamonds and Pearls suddenly looked nervous, like they knew he’d made a big mistake and were waiting to hear about the fallout. “She called it a mistake and wouldn’t tell me anything about it. But I saw it!” He added loudly when he saw the uncertainty. “There were shards, hundreds of them! And… and…” He trailed off, tears falling down his cheeks as he remembered how they sparkled, even with the lack of light caused by the cloudy sky. “The gems were trying to kill each other…” He muttered. “And I don’t know why. Was it really just because they couldn’t agree?” His voice broke on the final word. It made no sense to him, the idea that such horror could come from simple disagreements.

Yellow and Blue exchanged glances, Blue placing a hand over her mouth in horror as Steven continued to ramble about the war. Talking about it made it so easy to picture the shards scattered on the ground.

“Pink.” Yellow waited for Steven to stop talking before she continued to talk. “What happened next? What did White say?” Yellow sounded dangerously calm as she spoke, like she was having to concentrate to not lose her temper. Even despite the clear attempt, her face had twisted in annoyance as she listened to Steven.

“She… she kicked me out of her mind. And when I woke up there was… this noise in my ears. I think that was what made me scream.” The noise had hurt so much, seeming to dig into his ears until it had finally ended. He couldn’t explain it in words though, wasn’t sure how to even describe what it had sounded like.

He’s started to scratch at his ears without realizing, fingers digging into his face as he remembered the noise. How it dug and dug and dug into his brain, grinding in his ears painfully.

“Pink.”

Steven blinked as Blue’s voice stopped the noise. He slowly pulled his fingers away, staring at his hands in dawning realization.

“Pearl, call White.”

Yellow’s voice sounded strained as she gave the order, like she knew this wasn’t going to go anywhere but needed to try anyway. It was a feeling that was shared by Yellow Pearl, who summoned a communicator and twisted it to match the white halves together.

“Yellow, you know she won’t answer. We need to go to her.” Blue insisted. Then she paused as the call failed. Even Yellow tensed as she watched the communicator close itself without prompting. Yellow Pearl stared at it uncertainly as it fell back into her hands.

“Is it meant to do that?” Steven asked Yellow Pearl in confusion. Her eyes had become wide as she stared uncertainly.

“N… No my Diamond.” Yellow Pearl stammered, the diamond shaped communicator resting on her palms as if mocking her lack of knowledge. “It isn’t.” Her voice trembled as she struggled to understand what had happened.

“It will be ok Pink.” Blue gently picked up Steven and held him close, eyes anxious as she reassured him. “Whatever White did, we’ll fix it.” She ran a finger through his hair as Yellow Diamond continued to think quietly, a frown resting on her lips.

It was only then that Steven realized what it must sound like to them. Telling them about seeing White in a dream and then being affected by a noise that was so awful he had started screaming when he woke up. And all of that had happened after he’d returned from what they had assumed was a kidnapping.

“White didn’t do any… Well, she might have caused the noise.” Steven admitted. In fact, it was almost certain she had. She had been really angry when she kicked him out. “But the dream wasn’t her fault. I entered her mind. That was me!” He added desperately when neither of them seemed to believe him.

“…We need to talk to White.” Yellow told Blue coldly. “Without Pink.” She added, glancing at Steven as if daring him to argue. If Steven was honest with himself, he was quite happy to stay in the room if it meant avoiding White. She was scary.

Blue nodded quickly, eyes cold as she agreed with Yellow.

“And Pink.” Yellow turned to level her gaze on Steven who shrunk slightly under her gaze. Yellow sighed as she watched her fellow Diamond start to cower but remained stern. “Be careful around White. When she wants to be, she can appear… caring. She will lure you into trusting her, she will act helpful and understanding as you talk to her. But she will always have a motive behind her actions, always question what she has to gain by helping you.” Yellow concluded her warning with a glance at Blue, as if making sure she was listening as well.

Blue was still cuddling Steven, eyes glaring at the communicator. It was fairly obvious she had stopped listening to Yellow, still furious at the situation with Steven and White Diamond. Yellow was equally angry, but far more in control of her temper.

“Pearl, send a message to White informing her of our upcoming… visit.” Yellow ordered. Her Pearl began typing quickly. “Include that Blue and I shall be leaving Homeworld with Pink soon to retrieve her guard from the Zoo after we finish speaking to White, leaving Homeworld in her care while we are gone.”

That… didn’t seem like a good idea. Something about White had seemed off, but Steven didn’t say that. He just moved a hand and patted Blue’s thumb nervously.

“Yes, my Diamond!” Yellow Pearl smiled brightly as she sent off the message.

“And stay with Pink, ensure her wishes are met and that you report anything strange to me. Keep anyone from the White court out. Amethyst, your orders have not changed.” Yellow added to the still Amethyst who had taken a position out of sight of the other Diamonds. She saluted and acknowledged her order loudly. “Blue, you need to put down Pink so we can leave.”

“Oh, right.” Blue lowered Steven back onto the pink cushion and when she stood it was at her full height. “We’ll be back soon Pink.” She smiled at Steven and he wasn’t sure how to respond when she waited for a response. Normally the Diamond just turned and left him.

He settled on an uneasy smile and a wave.

When the Diamonds and Blue Pearl left Steven let out a small sigh of relief. The meeting had gone better then expected (They had been willing to let him out of their sights for starters). Yellow Pearl also seemed to relax slightly, no longer appearing nervous in the presence of Yellow Diamond.

“Did my Diamond have anything she wished for me to do?” Yellow Pearl smiled as she looked at Steven, hands held in front of her. Steven actually couldn’t help but think how well Yellow Pearl could fake a smile.

“Didn’t you have work to finish?” Steven asked. “What are you working on?”

Yellow Pearl’s smile became more relaxed as she summoned her screen. A few practiced swipes of her fingers brought up a page of Homeworld writing which she turned to show him. “I’m working on paperwork about a prospective colony, my Diamond.” She sounded eager as she showed him her work, the neat lines of odd symbols which were essentially gibberish to Steven.

Steven blinked blankly at the writing. He had enough problems without telling Yellow Pearl he couldn’t actually read what she was showing him. Instead he just nodded as if he understood and turned his attention to something else in the room. Like the familiar walls of the room he was once again stuck in.

With nothing to do.

“Hey Pearl, can I summon one of those screens?” It was actually amusing to watch the excitement of having something to help with and the horror of Steven not knowing the answer to the question mix on Yellow Pearl’s face until she settled on uneasy joy.

If he was going to be stuck with her he might as well ask her questions. He should probably ask her about teaching him to read at some point.

Chapter Text

Yellow Pearl would never admit to how confused she was. As one of the oldest and most experienced Pearls, in fact she was the Pearl of the oldest proper Diamond, she could never admit that. She needed to be an example of how to act. Helpful and graceful, assisting her Diamond with whatever was needed. As a Pearl, it was her duty to keep her Diamond happy and help keep her efficient.

So logically, those duties extended to the Diamond she’d been ordered to assist while her Diamond conducted her business elsewhere. Her Diamond couldn’t afford to be distracted when talking to White Diamond. Pearl just wasn’t sure how to fulfil this duty. Pink Diamond didn’t want her to dance or sing for her. She had no colonies to run so there was no paperwork for Pearl to complete.

And she looked sad.

So how was Pearl meant to cheer her up? Pink Diamond had said she didn’t want entertainment, so Pearl couldn’t just start singing for her like she sometimes would for her Diamond. And trying to smile for her hadn’t worked either, Pink Diamond not reacting to Pearl’s cheery façade like she used to when her Diamond and Pearl had assisted in her lessons.

Pink Diamond was acting like a completely different gem, quiet and obedient to her fellow Diamond’s wishes.

Pearl ignored the fact that Pink Diamond also appeared afraid of her fellow Diamonds. Blue Diamond’s Pearl had messaged her theories about the rebel’s plans, and while they were probably nonsense it was something to consider when working for Pink Diamond. As the most experienced Pearl, it was her pride to assist the Diamonds to the best of her ability. She just wasn’t sure how to do so right now.

Pink Diamond smiled in excitement as she asked questions about Pearl’s screen and Pearl wasn’t sure how to respond. However, Pearl smiled as well as she tried not to show her worry. All gems could summon a screen, it was how they received work schedules and important notifications. As a Diamond, Pink Diamond should already know how to summon hers. Pearl knew the Diamond had emerged with the information.

She should know a lot of things. Instead she was acting like a newly emerged. In fact, she was worse than a newly emerged, appearing unsure of how to act around the Amethyst and Pearl. Pearl narrowed her eyes at the purple gem who had returned to her position near the door and felt a small satisfaction that the gem appeared to remember her place now. A Diamond was far too important to be bothered by such a lowly type of gem and her duties did not involve interacting with the Diamond unless prompted.

Pearl returned to looking at the small Diamond.

Thankfully Pink Diamond hadn’t continued her questioning about the White Court. As inappropriate as it was to dodge the question, Pearl wasn’t sure how much she was allowed to explain about it and she had no intention of upsetting her Diamond. If her Diamond wished for Pink Diamond to know, then she would tell her. Just like how Pearl had no intention of informing Pink Diamond of her previous relationship with her Diamond.

Or rather, the lack of relationship. Pink Diamond hadn’t expressed any interesting in asking so it wasn’t something Yellow Pearl needed to worry about explaining for now.

She wasn’t sure what she was meant to do. With her Diamond, it was simple. She finished paperwork and helped make her Diamond happy. Not that the paperwork ever seemed to end… She had known her duties from the moment of her emergence, the fact that she existed to serve her Diamond. It had always been a source of comfort and pride for her.

But Pink Diamond wouldn’t tell her what she wanted from Pearl, and a part of Pearl considered it her own failing. She wasn’t adapting like she should, she needed to be whatever Pink Diamond needed of her.

With her Diamond, Pearl never needed to take the initiative. If her Diamond wanted something, she would tell her and Pearl would do it. With Pink Diamond as she was now however, Pearl was at a loss. It was wrong of her to even suggest what a Diamond to do. And even if she was in a position where she could do so, she wasn’t sure what she could suggest. She couldn’t suggest a walk, because of the kidnapping (not until the rebels were captured). She couldn’t suggest a visit to one of her fellow Diamonds or their colonies. And when answering Pink Diamond’s questions, she had to be careful about the information she gave.

She was Yellow Diamond’s Pearl, she wasn’t supposed to be confused with how Pink Diamond acted or how she herself was supposed to act for her. She was supposed to be doing her duty to her Diamond. She was supposed to assist in the Diamonds duties when needed, stopping gems from stealing the Diamond’s valuable time. She wasn’t supposed to be watching Pink Diamond and mentally noting what needed to be taught to her, that had always been that Blue Diamond’s Pearl had done. Blue Diamond had taken a more active role in educating Pink Diamond, both Diamonds believing she would be a more calming influence on Pink.

She drew herself up to her full height at that thought. She was Yellow Diamond’s Pearl! One of the eldest Pearl’s in existence, it was beneath her to question herself like this. She had served for hundreds of thousands of years, assisting her Diamond proudly and flawlessly. She would need to take the initiative.

Pearl walked in front of the Diamond who had once again fallen silent as she looked for another question to ask, bowing with a smile when she finally gained the small Diamonds attention. “Would my Diamond like to visit the observation room?” Pearl suggested, already making plans for if she said yes. There were many parts of Homeworld that Pink Diamond may enjoy viewing, and it would help Pink Diamond reacclimatize to Homeworld.

Pink Diamond would probably appreciate seeing Homeworld, she had no memory of it after all. Pearl could show the Diamond the different areas, show her how Homeworld ran when a Diamond wasn’t present. How gems worked together to keep Homeworld running flawlessly.

Pink Diamond was silent as she thought about the offer, before she glanced at the Amethyst. Pearl frowned when the Amethyst met her Diamond’s eyes and began to stare, a light blush forming on her cheeks. It was unfortunate, but most gems couldn’t control themselves around the Diamonds. They looked at the flawless beings and looked up to them, seeking guidance even when it was already being offered. It was unavoidable. The Amethysts worshiping stare made Pink Diamond suddenly nervous, looking away from the Amethyst uncomfortably. The Amethyst continued to stare, a look of wonder blossoming on her face. Just like it had when her Diamond had used her to balance herself on the cushion.

Pearl huffed, preparing to remind the Amethyst of her place until she realized Pink Diamond had started watching her instead of the Amethyst. Was she displeased with Pearl? Did she want Pearl to do something? Was she upset that Pearl wasn’t stepping in to deal with problems that were below her, keeping the Diamonds time free for something more important? Blue Diamond’s Pearl hadn’t said anything about this odd behavior in her reports.

Unless those reports hadn’t been recovered either.

The mere thought of reports being missing made Pearl’s shoulders droop in annoyance and worry. It was going to take months to restore order to her work and her Diamond only had so much patience when it comes to incompetence, especially from her Pearl. That wasn’t even taking into account the amount of damage that could happen to the Blue colonies without a Diamond’s guidance. She would have to go through all the recent paperwork from the colonization effort by hand and make sure all of it was present and complete.

It would take weeks, if not months.

“Are you ok?”

Pink Diamond looked worried and Yellow Pearl found herself looking at the pink eyes. The last time she had seen those eyes in person, she had been watching Pink Diamond and Yellow Diamond arguing about leaving the Earth and all of its resources, watching despair slowly appearing on Pink Diamond’s face as Yellow reminded her of her duty. She smiled and bowed, hands twisted in the diamond salute as the Diamond looked on uncertain.

“Everything is fine, my Diamond.” Pearl reassured, keeping her tone light. The Diamond had no need to hear about Pearl’s worries about the paperwork, especially after her recent problems. Pearl was one of the oldest Pearls, she would fix this problem for her Diamond.

Pearl could manage it, she would do so and assist her Diamond as she always had and always would.

She waited to see if Pink Diamond would answer the suggestion (a Pearl telling a Diamond what to do…) but instead she just kept looking at Pearl.

“Are you sure? Maybe I can help?” Pink Diamond offered.

Pink Diamond looked unsure as she made the offer, almost as if she regretted it the moment it had left her lips. Pearl’s smile fell as they looked at each other, because a Diamond didn’t do a Pearls work. If they were going to, why have a Pearl at all? Why waste the resources on a gem without a purpose?

She reminded herself to smile again, Pearls were always meant to be beautiful and while her Diamond didn’t care if she smiled or not, she wanted to look nice for Pink Diamond. Not that Pearl needed to try, she was fully aware of how beautiful she was. Her Diamond had personally helped design Pearl, ensuring that she was exactly what her Diamond had wanted. However, it was her hope that her smile would help reassure Pink Diamond enough to stop her worrying, even if part of her knew it wouldn’t work.

She didn’t know what had happened on Earth, but it was obvious the Diamond had changed. Before this, it would never occur to her to offer to help a Pearl. She knew their roles, knew that Pearls didn’t need the help. Pearls were hard workers. Efficient and always happy to work. Back then Pink Diamond had been a proper Diamond.

Had acted like a proper Diamond

And that train of thought was wrong, because she was a Pearl. It didn’t matter what a Diamond acted like, because she was a Diamond. Diamonds were perfection. They embodied all that gems were meant to aspire to, strength, grace and hard work.

Pink looked down and Pearl mentally cursed, smile remaining on her lips like she hadn’t noticed. She’d done something wrong again, she just wasn’t sure what. Something had displeased the Diamond and she wasn’t sure what. She had probably taken to long in answering the Diamonds, upsetting her.

It had been a stupid mistake, one she hadn’t made in thousands of years. She was meant to be attentive to her owner’s needs.

“Is there anything my Diamond wishes of me?” She asked again, trying to salvage the situation. Maybe the Diamond would demand to look at her work, her Diamond had made that order in the past when Pearl had made such simple mistakes. It was humiliating, the knowledge her Diamond had so little trust that she had wished to double check her Pearls work. However, if it would please Pink Diamond, Pearl would obey.

“No… I don’t want anyth…” Pink Diamond paused, pink eyes narrowing as she seemed to think to herself. Pearl waited patiently, standing in front of her as she waited for an order. “Can we go to the observation room?” She asked quietly.

Pearl bowed low.

“Of course, my Diamond.”

The plan was to show Pink Diamond the different areas of Homeworld. Residential. Research. She was already planning out the best places to show her as Pink Diamond stood and jumped off the chair, closely followed by the Pearl who followed. Pearl moved forward and opened the door for the Diamond, smirking at the guard when the Amethyst moved to follow.

Her smirk widened when the Amethyst back down, shying away from her. Good.

Pearl followed Pink Diamond swiftly, not sparing a glance at the Amethyst who looked slightly terrified of her. While she had been struggling to understand what to do with Pink Diamond, she had no problem reminding the Amethyst of her place. Pearl, as the Pearl of a Diamond, was far above her and the Amethyst would do well to remember that.

“Hey, Pearl? Where is the observation room?” Pink Diamond asked, apparently realizing she was lost.

Pearl smiled and stepped forward, leading the Diamond to where she needed to go. So long as she was able to fulfil her duty, she was happy.

Chapter Text

White Diamond’s towers had been one of the first buildings built after the Faction War. The rest of Homeworld’s buildings had been built around it, ordered in a way that made it easier to organize the other areas. The tower was very rarely entered by anyone outside the White Court, even Blue and Yellow Diamond had a tendency towards avoiding it.

White was very rarely a willing host, especially after Pink’s presumed shattering.

For a while Blue had understood, she had struggled to accept the lose of Pink as well. They had all coped with the loss in their own ways, Blue with the Earth and Yellow with her work. However, the longer White had ignored her fellow Diamonds, the more annoyed Blue had become with her. Blue was more then willing to admit that she had handled the loss of Pink… poorly, but even she had allowed Yellow to try and help her.

The tower was large, built to allow White to walk through it comfortably with her immense height. It was also old, built before it had become normal to use Iolites to decorate. The result was the corridors appeared plain, with no crystals to catch the light from the many windows that decorated the walls. Blue stopped to glance through one, admiring the view of Homeworlds buildings that stretched as far as she could see.

It was a view that any gem would admire. It must have been fascinating before, watching the buildings as they were built. Blue returned to following Yellow through the empty corridors, matching Yellow’s furious pace. Being in the tower reminded her of the time when gems had wandered these halls, moving out of the Diamonds way without groveling like her court had.

Blue stopped in her tracks, realizing the corridor was empty. The White Court was the largest court on Homeworld, where had they g-

She paused and looked out the window again, smiling at the view. It was a wonderful view, the buildings seeming to shine in the sun. Her eyes fell on the court where everything had started, smile falling. She had been willing to shatter Pink…

“Blue.” Yellow snapped from the end of the corridor. She was stood next to the elevator, foot tapping impatiently.

Blue blinked before following. She had been right behind Yellow, right? They were visiting White, to talk to her about Pink. She frowned in sudden anger. White had hurt Pink, the nerve. Did she think being their leader would make Yellow and Blue forgive her?

Behind her, her Pearl followed with her head down. Her fingers twitched sharply before clasping to hide the movement. Blue didn’t notice, like she hadn’t noticed the last time her Pearl made that movement. The movement was small, the only sign of her Pearl’s unease as she walked.

She stepped onto the elevator with Yellow and her Pearl activated it on a white screen, making it ascend to the top. No one knew why White had insisted the teleport pad be so far from her throne room, making all other gems spend valuable time to reach her. It seemed… inefficient. It was something Yellow had never commented on, oddly enough. Just shaking her head when Blue had questioned it the first time she had visited.

That moment had made Blue never want to question it out loud again.

When the elevator reached the top of the tower they stepped out into a large, empty room with a white Diamond insignia surrounded by a black Diamond. It had been badly maintained, fading at the edges from old age. Blue’s eyes moved over it as she left the elevator with Yellow. There should be guards here. This was White’s throne room, so where-

She looked at Yellow who was blinking sharply before seeming to focus. “Let’s go see White.” Yellow sighed, already looking like she was dreading this meeting. Yellow rubbed her forehead as she finished the sentence, closing her eyes as she frowned.

Blue walked over and placed a hand on her shoulder, unsure how to help. “It’ll be ok Yellow.” Blue reassured, unsure if she was lying or not. If White had hurt Pink, then there was no real way to have White punished. No one, not even Yellow and Blue, could force her to attend a trial. All it would do is cause uncertainty and instability, especially amongst the White Court.

Not unless they tried to remove her from power.

The thought made Blue freeze, because it was treason.

Even if White was detached from Homeworld and her fellow Diamonds, she was still Homeworld’s matriarch. She had been the one to help it reach its current glory, leading one of the largest courts. She had always been there in Blue’s memory, Blue could still remember days when White would send messages to Blue and make cryptic comments as she worked. The thought of Homeworld without White… just didn’t seem right, no matter how little Blue saw her.

Blue ignored the thought, but she must have looked uneasy as Yellow had started to look worried.

What had she been…?

Right, visiting White. They needed to talk to White about Pink.

Blue closed her eyes, her mind just kept wandering, like something was pulling her away from her thoughts. She needed to focus, she and Yellow needed to fix this problem. She needed to focus on what was important.

“Sorry.” She muttered, walking towards where they would find White. It was always like this when she came to the tower, something always made her thoughts stray. She considered telling Yellow, trying to explain the odd feelings this tower caused. But she knew Yellow would just dismiss them, like she did with most of Blue’s worries. It was probably nothing.

Yellow rolled her eyes as she followed, eyes stopping a moment too long on a mural of the Diamond Authority. This one was ancient, only carrying a yellow and a white diamond side by side. “She never did want to update this.” Yellow commented mildly to Blue, running a finger over it as she walked past. Some of the white diamond flaked from the touch, marking Yellow’s gloves. Quietly, she rubbed the fingers together, looking disgusted as whatever the insignia was made of flaked off like dust. “Stars knows why.”

Blue followed, remaining behind Yellow as they walked to the throne room. The corridor was still empty, with windows looking out at Homeworld and small white and green robonoids floating near the ceiling. Peridot 1’s security system, Blue remembered after a few seconds when the spheres appeared to stare at the Diamonds for a few moments before moving on. Pink had been fascinated by them she remembered, asking so many questions about how they worked.

They reached the throne room and paused, staring at the large white doors. Yellow knocked loudly, then stepped back to look for the screen which often appeared to deny them entrance. Yellow’s face morphed from annoyance into uncertainty when nothing happened; no guards opening the doors, no Pearl to greet them, no Peridot 1 appearing to tell them to go away.

Just… nothing.

“Pearl, open the door.” Yellow ordered, clearly disturbed by the change of routine. They were never ignored when visiting White, even if they were being denied entry, Peridot 1 would appear on a screen to tell them they weren’t being allowed in. Because White had ‘work’.

Her Pearl quickly stepped forward, activating the door panel and bowing when it opened into a room. Blue and Yellow walked past, hearing the door close behind them. No doubt Pearl had stood next to it to wait to be summoned, perfectly obedient as always.

“Yellow. Blue.” White sounded disinterested from the throne, leaning back as she watched them. She was looking through a white screen in front of her, showing pictures of a planet with writing underneath. A report about a potential colony, Blue thought.

White’s throne room was large and bright, with a large window looking out over Homeworld allowing in light which made the white room almost blinding to look at. At the base of the throne was the old symbol of the Diamond Authority, the four diamonds making the shape of a complete diamond. There were other murals on the walls, most of them from before Yellow’s emergence. As White ignored them in preference of finishing her work, Blue’s eyes ran across the most contrasting mural she could see, the mural of a black diamond on the white wall and matching the black diamond on White’s outfit. A reminder of White’s defect.

“White.” Yellow replied, staying near the door.

White Diamond finally looked at them after a few moments, eyes cold as she closed the screen. “So, why are you here? Three visits in less then a year, something must have gone wrong.” White actually sounded concerned as she looked at them, eyes staring through them without focus.

Blue and Yellow tensed at the reminder of how little they visited. They usually avoided seeing her in person, going out of their way to communicate through messaging and communicators. Neither wanted to admit to admit to it though, worried that it would insult her. Even though odds were that she was fully aware of the fact and just didn’t care.

“Pink was hurt. She… ‘woke up’ with a noise in her mind which caused her pain.” Yellow said bluntly, not wasting time on pleasantries. White seemed to freeze at Yellow’s statement, eyes sharpening as she watched them as if looking for a lie. It was the most interest she’d shown about something in a while.

White frowned, managing to appear hurt at the unspoken accusation. “And you think I hurt her?”

Her white eyes moved from Yellow to Blue, and Blue could almost feel the tranquil fury behind them. White waited for Blue to give an answer, leaning on the arm of her throne as if she wasn’t waiting to be accused of hurting the youngest Diamond. The one they had all mourned for thousands of years. Blue forced herself not to cower under the gaze, she needed to be strong. But she couldn’t think of an answer that wouldn’t upset her.

White made a small noise of irritation when Blue didn’t answer, annoyance changing into disappointment. Blue couldn’t decide which felt worse when White returned to looking at Yellow, dismissing Blue entirely.

“She entered my mind and wouldn’t leave when asked, so I answered her questions and forced her out when she continued to refuse. I didn’t do anything to hurt her.” A mild shrug as she returned to being disinterested. There was more. Blue could feel it as White answered the unspoken question, the only question was what. What was White hiding from them? “Tell me, did Pink say I hurt her?”

“No, no she didn’t!” Blue interrupted quickly.

“She said she didn’t know what caused the noise!” Yellow added, eyes widening in panic at White’s question.

“That’s a relief.” White sighed. “Then I assume you’re here to have me find the cause of the disturbance in Pink’s mind.”

Blue went to talk, to refuse until she had answers, and paused at the same time as Yellow. Is that why they were here?

Of course they were. Why would they accuse White of hurting Pink? Blue swayed slightly, eyes becoming unfocused for a few moments before she blinked. Thoughts refocused and she smiled brightly. Next to her Yellow relaxed, relieved White was actually considering her request. You never knew if White would agree to help you or not, especially when she was in a bad mood.

“Of course I’ll help.” White’s voice was light as she smiled. “After you return from the Zoo, bring her to me. I needed to speak to her in person anyway.” She added to herself as if only just remembering.

Blue groaned and held her head, trying to think why that request worried her. It shouldn’t, it was White. White who, despite her faults, always put Homeworld first. Why was something inside Blue trying to get her to refuse? A hand rested on her shoulder and Blue realized how long she’d been thinking. Minutes? It must have been a long time if Yellow had moved to see if she was well.

“You need to rest Blue.” The suggestion felt more like an order as White watched her from the throne. She still hadn’t moved, not even standing to walk over to see if Blue was ok. But her presence still filled the room as she watched her fellow Diamonds. “You’ve been worrying about Pink since she arrived and then when she disappeared, you pushed yourself even harder. Go, take her to the Zoo and take a break.”

It was a good suggestion, matching Blue and Yellow’s current plans so it was easy to agree to. They spent a few more moments talking about Pink before White summoned her work in a blatant dismissal, not looking up as the Diamonds left.

Yellow walked down the corridor and stopped, eyes searching for robonoids before looking at Blue. Her eyes were still unfocused as she thought. “We did plan to ask White, right?”

Yellow’s voice was quiet as she asked, almost sounding scared. She didn’t want to consider White altering their memories, had trusted her for too long to even consider it seriously. Blue considered it as well, certain they had. They must have discussed it on the way to White’s at least. Her mind became hazy as she thought, trying to remember.

“I… think we did?” Blue stopped to think, before she nodded with a little more certainty. “Yes, we did.” There had definitely been plans to take Pink to White, so it made sense they’d take Pink to White to look for the source of her discomfort. The mind had always been White’s specialty. Yellow eyed her and nodded. She still looked unsure however.

“Let’s go Blue.”

Behind them, Blue’s Pearl finally caught up with them and moved to stand next to Blue. Neither Diamond looked at the gem who had been running late, instead continuing to walk to the elevator. Blue felt better now than when they’d arrived, White would help Pink. Perhaps White would even be able to restore her memories.

Things were finally going well.

Chapter Text

Steven watched wide eyed as Pearl activated the observation orb. He recognized the orb from the moon base, it had been on the middle floor floating in bright blue light. He’d never thought about going to look at it when he was still on Earth, the base had left a bitter taste in his mouth when he looked at mo… Pink Diamond’s plans for the Earth. How Peridot had smiled and talked about how perfect Earth would have been as a Homeworld colony.

The planet the orb showed was different from what he’d expected. It was cracked in half down the middle, with two large rings around it. The surface of the planet shown by the orb was covered in small cracks and craters. Steven swallowed as he stared.

“This is Homeworld my Diamond.” Pearl started with a flourish.

Behind her the Amethyst glared, having been relegated to once again stand next to the door by her. Steven hadn’t argued with Yellow Pearl, mouthing a silent apology to the guard before following Yellow Pearl to the orb for his lesson.

“What broke it?” Steven asked without thinking. He watched Yellow Pearl almost immediately tense, thinking before relaxing.

“No one knows. According to all available sources, the Faction War was… confusing and no one confessed to the attack that caused this.” Pearl frowned, annoyed that she couldn’t answer the Diamond’s question. It was the duty of a Pearl to be able to answer any question her Diamond had for her, so to not be able to answer…

Steven looked at the planet and tried to picture how much power would be needed to cause such a massive amount of damage to the planet. Not even Alexandrite had that much power. He shuddered, he couldn’t picture it. It must have been powerful though, much more powerful then any weapon he’d seen before. How was the planet still holding itself together? It looked like it could crumble at any point, turning into dust as it lost its form.

Steven touched the orb with wide eyes, intending to touch the surface and watch his finger go through the light. Instead, it was like his finger was touching rock. The planet was solid light and his touch caused the walls of the observation room to change into a line of buildings. It was a road, and on both sides of the road were buildings that seemed to tower around him. The road itself was full of gems walking past him. Peridots were the only gem type he recognized, he didn’t recognize the others but it was easy to assume they worked in research.

Steven gazed as the gems walked past and through him. They were walking and talking, but there was no noise. He could see as they entered the large shining buildings, disappearing through a door into darkness as the projection stopped tracking them.

“This, my Diamond, is the research district.” Pearl said as Steven stumbled to his feet in awe. It was amazing, the area was beautiful. Clean and shining as the sun shone on the buildings, in the sky he could see large white pipes connecting the buildings like veins. The sky in this area was brown, with stars twinkling in the distance.

It was alien and it was beautiful. Steven watched as a pair of Peridots talked to the side, they looked different from his Peridot. Instead of being small and thin, relying on enhancers to hide their generation 2 status, these Peridots were tall and bulky with large shoulders and thin waists which made them look almost top heavy. Generation one, his mind provided quietly.

Steven listened as Pearl talking in her high-pitched voice, watching her as she pointed at the different goings on and explained what was happening. Explained how the research district had gems from all the courts working together, working to improve the different gem types and fix the resource crisis. Part of Steven wished he could see inside the buildings, watch as the gems worked. He wished he could listen to their conversations and ask questions. He wanted to know more about their work.

He wanted to know more about them.

Instead he remained silent as Pearl touched the orb, bringing up a different area. She continued the lesson, her voice never wavering as she explained everything that she thought needed to be explained. Steven was shown towers taller than Earth’s biggest skyscrapers, colosseums floating in the sky, something that looked like a garden with crystals growing in large spikes. He saw Homeworld and he finally understood why Pearl, his Pearl, had been so desperate to return. Desperate enough to nearly kill him in her attempt to leave Earth.

The planet was amazing, but so very different from home.

Steven felt a pang in his chest as he thought about Earth and his friends. They were so far away, even Lars who was trapped in the Zoo. He still missed them. He missed his dad. He missed Garnet and Pearl and Amethyst and… and… He ignored the sick feeling that he suddenly felt, focusing on Pearl’s lecture. He needed to learn this, he needed to understand Homeworld.

He’d get home. He had the Off Colors to help him and soon he’d get more answers, hopefully those answers would help him.

Pearl, Yellow Pearl that is, smiled at him and brought up a new part of Homeworld, a large white tower shaped like a head, Steven wasn’t really listening anymore though. He wanted to go home, but part of him knew he couldn’t. Going home would bring the other Diamonds to Earth, where they would hurt his friends and family. He couldn’t endanger them like that, he couldn’t endanger the Earth.

Consequences. White Diamond had told him to think about the consequences of his actions. The consequences of going to Earth without a plan would be fatal. Part of Steven realized her comments had probably been a warning about leaving.

The tightness in his chest hurt though. It was easier to just refocus on the lesson, looking for information that could help him and his court. They needed him and he had to do something. He couldn’t just leave them in the Kindergarten to be shattered by a robonoids. He needed to find a way to help them, to properly lead like they’d wanted.

Steven blinked at the odd train of thought as he realized his mind had started to wander in the quiet of the room.

Pearl had stopped talking, waiting for him to look at her. There was no annoyance like he’d expect from his Pearl, Yellow Pearl just stood at attention until the Diamond was ready for her to continue. “Sorry.” Steven apologized, he did feel bad. She was going through all this effort to teach him about Homeworld and he was just blanking her, too distracted by his own thoughts and problems.

Yellow Pearl bowed her head for a few second and kept talking, showing him another area of Homeworld. This time she was showing him a large teleport hub, many warp pads dotted around with odd symbols next to them that Steven couldn’t read. It was like the hub on Earth, far away at sea. He hadn’t gone back since he’d been there with Lapis, but if he was remembering correctly the area he was being shown was just a really big hub. Not that it helped him, the warp pad on Earth had been broken by Garnet.

Pearl’s voice was always even as she talked, like his Pearl and Blue Pearl. For gems made to carry things and look pretty (according to Peridot at least), they were really good at explaining things clearly. Yellow Pearl’s voice, even high-pitched as it was, had an almost melodic tone to it. It was easy to relax to when she wasn’t using it to one up other gems.

It was half way through the latest explanation of how the galactic hub linked Homeworld to their many, many colonies that the Diamonds returned. Steven didn’t even notice Blue and Yellow watching him from the door until Pearl stopped talking and saluted to them. She deactivated the orb with a small apology to Steven, leaving the room in darkness until a light turned on.

Steven hadn’t even realized there was a light in the room, it was hidden away so it wasn’t visable.

Blue was practically buzzing with excitement as she rushed forward, hands outstretched to pick him up before… before she stopped mid action, face uncertain. Quietly she moved to pull her hands back and stood, eyes longing and sad.

Yellow made a noise of annoyance at the display, leaning next to the door as she waited for Blue to finish.

“Pink,” Blue sounded uncertain as she spoke, clearly wishing she could pick him up but stopping herself. The nerves made her accent sound stronger then normal, Pink Diamond’s name sounding so much sadder than what she normally sounded like. She must have noticed how uncomfortable the rough handling had made him, because she didn’t make another move to pick him up again. Instead she forced a smile, hovering in front of Steven like a worried parent. “We have good news! White agreed to help you!”

…Wasn’t White Diamond the gem the Diamonds had been panicking about before they left? Steven moved to ask and stopped, watching Blue Pearl shake her head quietly from the door where no one could see her. She seemed sad as she did it, hair swaying with the small movement as she placed a finger over her lips. Steven quickly changed his question, completely trusting Blue Pearl’s judgement.

“How’s she going to help me?” Steven tried not to sound nervous as he asked. He couldn’t stop the waver in his voice however. White was terrifying, and not just because of her height. There was an air around her, even in the dream, that seemed ancient and distant. Steven was almost certain White had never looked at him, even when answering his questions. She had seemed… cold. Different.

“White has agreed to look for the source of pain in your mind and attempt to fix it.” Yellow began talking when Blue continued to waver between picking up the young Diamond and actually answering his question. “She will also try to restore your memories. She also said she had something to… discuss with you. We will be there with you at all times when you do go to see her and you will let us do all the talking.” Yellow concluded sternly, eyes narrowing when Steven went to ask a question.

Namely, why wouldn’t they let him talk to her?

Steven kept his mouth shut and Yellow continued to appear disapproving from the door. Then again, that appeared to be Yellow’s default look so Steven tried not to feel to upset.

“Pink, what does White want to talk to you about?” Yellow’s voice was strained suddenly and Steven shrank in on himself. Yellow’s face fell when she saw the small movement which showed Steven’s fear, her annoyance disappearing as she tried to make herself look less threatening. Honestly, it didn’t help but part of Steven appreciated the effort.

Blue and Yellow Pearl looked at him, waiting for his answer with bated breath. Amethyst just stayed near the door, trying not to draw Yellow and Blue Diamond’s attention. It was like the room had stopped as they waited for Steven to answer. He searched for the words, trying to word it in a way that wouldn’t cause anyone trouble.

“In the Kindergarten, I was attacked by an Aquamarine and White Diamond agreed to give her a trial instead of shattering her.” Yellow Diamond’s eyebrow rose as she waited for him to continue and Steven kept talking. “There was a Pearl with me, she found me in the Kindergarten.” Blue’s eyes widened as Steven spoke, listening closely as the Pearl was mentioned. “As we were walking back to the warp, Aquamarine attacked us. Pearl poofed her and then called White and then White Diamond agreed to give Aquamarine a trial.” Steven squirmed at the intense look Yellow leveled at him. It was almost a mix of worry and disapproval.

After a moment Yellow rubbed the bridge of her nose.

“Why didn’t you tell us Pink?!” Yellow snapped, a mild hysteria in her voice as she took a step forward. “We could have dealt with the Aquamarine ourselves and not involved White! Why does she even care?!” She stopped when she realized Steven had taken a step away from her.

“Yellow, she doesn’t know.” Blue defended, stepping between Steven and Yellow. “She was saved by White’s Pearl from an Aquamarine, what was she supposed to do?”

“Not go to White with her problems! She should come to us for help!”

“Well at least she listened to me!” Steven snapped, making the Diamonds look at him in shock. “You left me in that room for weeks, barely talked to me and then when I got back I was ignored by both of you when you weren’t yelling at me! I told White I didn’t want Aquamarine shattered and she agreed! You would have just shattered her!”

“…Pink…” Blue looked ready to cry, hurt clear on her face as Steven finally lost his temper.

“Pink, you don’t understand how dangerous White can be. She’s defective.” Yellow watched and saw the term meant nothing to Steven. He just kept glaring up at her as she sighed. “White will want something for sparing the Aquamarine’s life. And odds are, it will be something you won’t want to do. She will hold you to your word, holding the Aquamarine over your head for as long as possible until you let White shatter her, just to remove the problem from your court. Pink, you put yourself in her debt without talking to me or Blue first. We could have helped you.” Yellow turned to Blue, clearly ready to end the conversation.

Blue still looked ready to cry, tears pricking the edges of her eyes as she sniffled. Steven’s face fell in guilt as he watched Blue try to stop her misery, fighting the tears that wanted to fall. He hadn’t meant to make her cry, he was just… angry. Like when he’d punched the wall and broke it, the rage had clouded his mind until he wanted to attack something.

He shouldn’t have yelled, even if everything was true.

He just wanted them to listen to him. To act like they actually cared about him more then just being a Diamond.

He wanted to be Steven, not Pink Diamond or Rose Quartz...

“Blue, we need to take Pink to the Zoo.” Yellow prodded gently, waiting as Blue nodded jerkily and wiped her eyes. “Perhaps her humans will make her feel better.”

“Right.” Blue muttered, leaving the room quietly. Blue Pearl followed without a word or a glance at Steven, her loyalty was to her Diamond first and foremost. Yellow turned to look at Steven, emotions warring in her eyes. Was she sad? Angry? Scared?

In the end she looked at him coldly, voice even and sharp as she said “You should follow me Pink.” She turned on her heel and left, glancing back for a second to make sure Steven and Yellow Pearl were following her to her ship.

Steven walked quickly, guilt overriding the homesickness in him.

He shouldn’t have yelled. He’d apologize when he saw Blue Diamond and ask for her to talk to him again, maybe this time she would listen.

He’d promised Pearl 5 he’d try at least.

Chapter Text

Yellow’s ship was large, designed to fit most of the Diamonds in comfortably. White would never fit, not unless she made herself smaller. Yellow sat in the center of the ship, the controls wrapped around her hand like a yellow glove. Blue sat to the side in a seat, cradling Pink in her hands. Blue was now wearing her travelling cloak, a dark blue cloak with the hood hanging around her neck. The entire ship was yellow, as was appropriate for a ship of the Yellow Court.

The Pearls stood at the back of the ship and Pink’s Amethyst guard had been dismissed back on Homeworld. Soon, Pink would no longer need her. She’d have a proper guard, the beginning of her court. Also, because there was no danger of her being attacked on the Zoo it was inefficient to bring her. They could assign a new Amethyst to Pink while at the Zoo.

It had only become obvious how small Pink was when Blue realized that there was no place for her to sit on the ship. She certainly wasn’t going to let Pink sit on the floor with the Pearls. Blue had known that Pink had shrunk of course, but it was difficult to comprehend how small she was now. In fact, when they had entered Yellow’s ship, Pink had looked upset at the lack of seating available for her.

Blue tried not to tighten her hands as she remembered the lost look in Pink’s eyes, tried not to scare Pink as she held her. Not like last time.

She couldn’t bear to see fear in Pink’s eyes again. She couldn’t bear to be the cause of the fear.

Pink wasn’t looking at Blue or Yellow, just sitting quietly in her hands as she thought. Blue wished she could do something. Stroke her hair or… Blue wasn’t sure what else but she was trying to respect Pink. She had told herself she wouldn’t do this again, that she wouldn’t ignore Pink.

But she was. Pink was back and Blue was still making the same mistakes. Both Blue and Yellow were, and once again it had led to the same result. Pink had gone to White. White and Pink had denied it before, but it had been clear from the moment White gave Pink a new Pearl to replace her broken one, a Pearl designed specifically to help with Pink’s faults. No, White had clearly reached out to Pink before and had managed to win her over without either of the Diamonds noticing. How had her court reached Pink without any of them noticing?

It was different this time. This time, Pink had reached out to White with open hands and no knowledge of the risks.

They should have spoken to her.

Blue tried not to think of her own dealings with White, how she had been forced into colonizing specific planets under the watch of White’s Pearl. How White had made Blue run Homeworld for a few centuries the last time Blue had asked for help, forcing her to take more and more work until Blue had broken and gone to Yellow for help. Those centuries had been awful, even with White’s Pearl helping her finish all of the required work with the efficiency of three Amazonite’s combined. The black Pearl was honestly a marvel to watch, always organized and working with grace as befitting of a Pearl.

She still didn’t know where White had gone for that time period, White had never told her.

No, she wouldn’t let that happen to Pink.

But how could she help her? How could Blue even begin to explain her worries? In theory it was simple, they just needed to have a conversation. Nothing with Pink or White was ever simple though, and if White was reading their minds she’d know any plan that had been formed within seconds. As Matriarch of Homeworld, it was a good ability. She and her court were efficient in running Homeworld and removing any problems before they became too dangerous.

However, it made it difficult to trust her and her motivations. There were entire stories from the Faction War of White reading the minds of her enemies and using the information to level armies. She wasn’t sure how accurate the stories were however, they were all second hand and potentially embellished. There were even stories of White’s gem glowing, which Blue personally doubted. She had never seen the gem glow brightly in the entire time of her creation. And one thing she needed to remember, was that White never spoke of the war, she never spoke of the organics that had run Homeworld. The stories could be false, even the ones Yellow told her. They were all second hand.

She needed to talk to Pink. It should be simple.

“I’m sorry.” A small voice apologized.

Blue looked down at Pink, blinking in shock.

“I shouldn’t have yelled. I just… I don’t know. I got angry.” Pink trailed off. “But I shouldn’t have taken it out on you.” Blue stared, unsure what to say until finally she smiled. This was a start, now they just needed to keep talking.

“It’s ok Pink.” Blue reassured, ignoring the way Yellow as watching from where she was piloting the ship. It was clear the older Diamond was listening to the conversation, but for now that wasn’t important. “Did you enjoy Pearl’s lesson about Homeworld? Was there anywhere you wanted to visit?”

They would need to contact a Tourmaline to arrange the reintroduction of Pink, not that it would be a shock. There was no doubt in Blue’s mind that the guards of the teleport hub had already started telling other gems about Pink’s return, especially the gems of her court. The diplomats had a habit of talking when they thought they could get away with it. While they would never admit to learning anything from a gem such as an Amethyst or a Carnelian, the mere mention of Pink Diamond would perk a gem's interest.

“It… It was a good lesson. Thank you.”

Behind them Yellow Pearl smiled smugly at Blue Pearl, making the delicate blue gem frown at her in anger. The interaction was ignored by the Diamonds.

“Could I visit the research district?” Pink sounded doubtful, even as she asked. Blue hummed to herself, it was an odd request. Normally they didn’t visit the research district unless there was something the Peridots felt they needed to tell them, not including visits once every few centuries for updates on the research. In addition to that, Pink had never held much interest in the research.

“Of course.” She could go after the meeting with White. It wouldn’t be the reintroduction of Pink that Blue had been thinking of, but Pink wanted to visit and that was all that was important. It was another step towards Pink accepting her place on Homeworld.

Blue and Yellow wouldn’t be able to go with her however, but perhaps…

Her thoughts were cut off as they arrived at the Zoo. It floated in the middle of space, a large pink ship capable of housing Earth’s specimens for Pink. When Blue had had it commissioned, it had been state of the art. Everything Pink would have needed to keep her humans alive, and for so long it had been a place of solace for Blue.

Blue looked at Pink, hoping for some sign of recognition. If anywhere would return Pink’s memories without White’s memories, it would be here or her moon base. Pink had loved coming here, especially after the collection of the humans had begun and they’d fixed the errors of the holding area.

Too much oxygen. How were they meant to know that could be fatal to the fragile creatures? It was illogical that a gas necessary to human life could cause severe damage to their ability to breathe. It was even stranger to remember how a small hit to the head could cause such a wide variety of damage. And that wasn’t going into the problem of developing food that met their dietary needs, the Peridots had been in near tears at the failures.

Humans were far more delicate to care for then one would assume, but the work had been worth it to make Pink happy.

Blue blinked away the memory and instead focused on Pink, hoping for some sign of recognition. Beside her Yellow had stopped the ship, eyes resting on the small Diamond who was staring at the Zoo. Pink had wanted to come here, she had been excited when Blue had mentioned it. Now? Now Pink looked scared, eyes wide as she trembled in Blue’s hands.

It was enough to cause a jolt of frustration in Blue, because what else could she do? She was trying. She was trying so hard to do this right and not make the same mistakes. But it wasn’t working.

“It’ll be ok Pink.” She reassured, because there wasn’t much else she could say. Quietly she had a finger through Pink’s hair, hoping the movement would help. This was never something she could have done before, Pink had been insistent on proving herself to her fellow Diamonds. She would never have accepted comfort from Blue or Yellow.

“Yeah.” Pink muttered. “I know.”

Yellow frowned, saying nothing. Instead she pushed the ship forward, directing it to land near the Zoo. Quietly Blue placed Pink on the floor so she could walk on her own. Pink couldn’t afford to look weak in front of her court, even one that hadn’t been formed yet. All she could hope for was that her Pearl had taught Pink enough manners that she wouldn’t embarrass herself or lose her temper in front of the lower-class gems.

Especially the Agate. It would be an experience for all of the Diamonds.

How much had Pink’s self-control changed on Earth? Had her coding been weakened during her time on Earth? Blue hadn’t actually checked, it had never seemed important. There had always been something else that was more important to look into. All of Pearl’s reports had reported that Pink’s behavior, while unorthodox, had been acceptable. A wall was not the worst thing Pink could have attacked after all. The worst she had done since arriving was be overly familiar with gems and after experiencing Pink’s temper tantrums, Blue was more then willing to accept Pink talking to an Iolite as an equal for now. It could be addressed in her lessons.

Yellow appeared to have had the same thought, glancing at the Pearls with narrowed eyes. Yellow had made her opinion on Blue’s Pearl accompanying Pink perfectly clear after her previous failure. Such worries shouldn’t be necessary on the Zoo however, all the gems on the Zoo had been checked by Blue for rebel sympathizers and, if sympathy for the rebels was discovered, harvested without prejudice. Yellow still preferred her Pearl to accompany Pink however, which was understandable. Her Pearl was one of the most experienced Pearls. The only Pearl better suited for the role would be White’s Pearl.

Yellow ordered her Pearl to follow Pink again. Pink took the fact she was to be watched by the Pearl with as much grace as Blue had come to expect from her. Pink frowned at Yellow before smiling awkwardly at Yellow’s Pearl, who had quickly covered her own nervous twitch at having Yellow’s attention.

Satisfied that Pink was going to be adequately watched, Yellow stood straight and prepared to leave the ship. As Yellow stepped into the Zoo it was obvious that she was the older Diamond, carrying herself perfectly as a Diamond should. Blue followed, quietly pulling her hood up before leaving the ship.

Behind her Pink followed, pink eyes moving along the sparkling walls of the Zoo with an odd familiarity that Blue missed. Blue missed Pink’s eyes focusing in determination, preparing for something only she was aware of.

Chapter Text

It was not Peridot’s intention to hurt her comrades. She was merely stating facts like she always did. The problem was that a lot of gems could never accept that facts weren’t always good. If they were always good, gems wouldn’t need a Peridot. It was her job as a Peridot to report these facts so another idea could be reached, there was no point focusing your efforts on something that would fail. There was no purpose in wasting time and resources.

She hadn’t intended to make Pearl and Greg cry.

Pearl never cried, she persevered. It was something she appreciated about the defec… about her. It was admirable to look at yourself and make yourself more. Peridot hadn’t managed that yet, but she was oddly ok with that. At some point on this organic world she would find a purpose beyond helping Lapis and watching the TV, which felt oddly like linking to a terminal without the pleasant surges of data. It was nice to watch new data running across a screen, even when the data was all visual and audio instead of internal. She had been studying this new data often, searching for patterns and links. It was a familiar pass time for a gem such as herself.

When she’d received the summons all those weeks ago, Peridot had been excited to help. She wasn’t happy about why her help was required, but it was always nice to build machines. It wasn’t the same as making the meep morps, because building machines was what Peridot was made for. That and running a Kindergarten. It was a part of her very being, not that her fellow Crystal Gems appeared to understand. They always told her that ‘she was more than that’ and to not ‘limit herself’. It’s just… why couldn’t she continue to enjoy what she was made for even when living on Earth? She could be a Crystal Gem and enjoy the feeling of building. Stars, she was a Peridot who had yelled at Yellow Diamond and survived! She wasn’t exactly a model Homeworld gem anymore.

Besides, it wasn’t like they had complained about her function when they were building the drill.

Not even Amethyst had understood when Peridot had quietly tried to explain. Amethyst was a Quartz, of course she liked fighting. And no one questioned how Amethyst loved to fight, like no one appeared to question Pearl’s love of doing work for them. Peridot was still unsure of Garnet’s function but she was sure it had something to do with protection or leadership. The problem with fusion is that it often disturbed the delicate programming in gems, meaning they were essentially uncoded. It was truly a horrifying thought for Peridot, who was coded to make sure the coding worked as needed. She had reached the conclusion it was something close what a proper Homeworld Garnet was coded with before the offer of fusion. After Garnet had destroyed all of Peridot’s assumptions, she had decided to just stop considering the mystery of the fused gem and watch more Camp Pining Hearts. It was far more productive.

It hurt to restrain herself at times. She wanted to create and research and build. Which is why when she’d been summoned to work on the old dropship, Peridot had been kind of excited. Even if was old beyond reason, it was still technology. It was still her. Of course, she was worried about Steven and his human friend as well. Steven was probably going to be shattered by the Diamonds if he wasn’t rescued on time.

She hadn’t intended to make Pearl and Greg cry. She had merely been stating facts. The dropship was a lost cause. It was too old and rusted. The thousands of years at the mercy of Earth’s climates had damaged it to the point where Homeworld would have just stripped it for materials and accepted the loss. The Crystal Gems would have more luck making a new ship from scratch. And even if they made a new ship from scratch, the plan still wouldn’t work. The warp engine itself needed materials that weren’t found on Earth and without that and some advanced thrusters, they wouldn’t reach Homeworld in time. And that wasn’t considering the problem of stealth systems. Or rather, the lack of. They would be shot out of the sky on sight.

She hadn’t intended to make them sad.

They just had to think of something else. Maybe Lapis could go to space and retrieve the necessary materials for the warp engine? Or maybe she could find a way to repair the warp pad to Homeworld? Peridot was sure she could…

Could…

Why did Peridot suddenly feel like her words had failed?

She was focusing on facts. Facts helped you plan. That’s what a Peridot did, even when the facts weren’t what someone wanted to hear. No gem wanted to be informed they were defective after emergence, or to hear that a necessary computer system was glitching. You still had to report the problems to a superior anyway. Even when you knew that there would be repercussions for that report, because that was your job.

This was like that. She was trying to help. Peridot was giving them the facts for the Pearl to come up with a better, more efficient plan. If any gem could manage such a feat, it was her.

There was no reason for Peridot to feel bad as Greg sobbed loudly, water from his eyes mixing into his beard as that weird organic substance ‘snot’ ran from his nose. Or as Peridot watched Pearl crumple onto the ground, eyes wide and wet as she whimpered brokenly.

It wasn’t Peridot’s fault.

Just like how it wasn’t Lapis’ fault that she was unwilling to go anywhere near Homeworld or its many colonies. Peridot was sure Lapis’ return to Homeworld had been horrible. Peridot had been horrible to her. In fact, Peridot had hurt her. And she was sorry even though sorry didn’t change the facts, all she could do was act on them and try to make things better.

Facts were meant to help you. It was something Peridot just… knew. She knew it like she knew that the group needed to be working faster. She knew it how she knew how to repair a Kindergarten drill, or how to properly interface with a terminal. She had emerged knowing that it was her job to learn and to report. Facts were vital.

They helped you adjust to a new planet. They helped you adjust to a species that were so overwhelmingly odd without meaning to be. They helped you stop an ancient gem bioweapon which had been placed in the Earth’s crust. They helped you fulfil your purpose or find a new one.

They just needed to look at the available facts and find a new idea. Peridot was sure if they put their heads together to think they’d find something. With Pearl and Peridot’s amazing brains working together it would be simple. It had to be, because otherwise her friend Steven would be shattered on Homeworld and…

And Peridot didn’t want that.

And instinctively she knew it didn’t matter what she wanted. He was an organic/gem hybrid. He was a gem with no active purpose, no proper coding and no idea about how to use his weapons to the best of their ability. He had fused with a fellow Quartz and a human. The part of her mind which still obeyed Homeworld knew that he needed to be shattered, because he would disrupt Homeworld’s fragile order and that couldn’t be allowed.

In moments like this it was easy to realize how different she had become. On Homeworld, she would have made the report to a superior about his defectiveness and continued with her job. It wouldn’t have given her pleasure, but she wouldn’t have given the action a second thought. She would have been doing her duty for her Diamond, assisting the running of Homeworld in a way only a Peridot could. On Earth, she couldn’t imagine reporting anyone, not even Steven. The thought of Amethyst or Pearl or… or anyone being shattered made horror course through her. She knew with certainty that she wouldn’t make the report now. She knew that she would place her friends before Homeworld.

It was like being away from Homeworld was twisting her and her facts. What was once so overwhelmingly obvious to her now wasn’t. She was even doubting a Diamond’s perfection, something that would have been unimaginable before. Her programming was twisting in on itself as it tried to adjust to this new way of life and thinking. There was no need for the rigid hierarchy of Homeworld on Earth. Peridot was sharing her role with a Pearl and she was ok with it.

Steven had said that it was normal, so it was something she had to adjust to. It was hard, but Steven was there to help her when she’d struggled. Steven had smiled and listened as Peridot tried to justify her need for facts, had listened when Peridot made charts for the sake of charts. Steven had understood when no other gem had.

The Pearl who had earned such a high status as to work alongside Peridot was crying hopelessly in front of Peridot, and Peridot had caused that. She hadn’t meant to, she’d just wanted to help. She had wanted to help stop Greg needlessly wasting his much-needed human resources on something that wouldn’t work. He needed them for other human endeavors and it was obvious that you shouldn’t waste resources. You just… shouldn’t. It was basic logic, clear as crystal in the eyes of a Homeworld gem. Resources were precious and to be protected.

Peridot had only had good intentions, but she had just blurted out the facts without thinking. It was like when she had explained what a proper Amethyst was like to Amethyst and had hurt her feelings. The facts were stored in her gem and she had explained them like a proper Peridot should. Peridot had failed to even notice her failure, not until Steven had explained what she had done wrong and made her apologize. Peridot had obeyed, seeing the logic in the advice and order had been restored to their odd cour… group. The Crystal Gems were not a court. There was no Diamond to guide them, no hierarchy to follow or set duties to complete. It was another thing Peridot needed to adjust to, her lack of supervisor directing her as necessary. It was another reminder of how little use she actually was on Earth.

Peridot awkwardly stepped next to Greg and patted him on the shoulder. The movement was jerky and almost unnatural, but Peridot had never needed to comfort someone before. Lapis had never cried like this, she had only required Peridot to talk to her and not ask too many questions about… the incidents. When the human kept crying Peridot looked around frantically for support.

The human Connie was at ‘school’ and Garnet was… somewhere. Peridot was partially certain that she was meditating to strengthen her future vision, but it was not a guarantee. The Garnet had proven herself to be a valuable leader, so her absence just made the current situation feel even worse. They had an appropriate gem for this, and she wasn’t here. Not even the next best option was here, Amethyst had went to visit a 'friend' named Vidalia and had yet to return. Peridot was on her own and it was terrifying. A Peridot did not reassure, they were logic and knowledge. They were not designed for such a role.

And yet here she was, trying to reassure the potentially broken human and the Pearl.

This should have been Steven’s duty. Clearly, Rose Quartzs had been designed with companionship as well as physical prowess in mind. It was the only way Peridot could mentally justify a Quartz who had the ability to just… pull everyone together. In battle they would have been terrifying, pushing each other on and defending their allies to the death. They would have directed their fellow gems at the enemy, creating an extra level of determination which would have helped them achieve victory no matter the odds. It was no wonder Rose Quartz had been such a good leader, despite her low rank on the Homeworld hierarchy.

She missed Steven. He would have known what to do. He would have given her advice about how best to achieve her goal, pushing her as well as the rest of the group when they reached this level of desperation. It was something she knew as a fact somehow, even without evidence proving it. He would have.

“We will…” Peridot paused, unsure of how to continue as the sniveling human looked at her. There was a mild glint of desperation in his eyes which made Peridot want to give him hope. That made her want to look beyond the programming and the facts and attempt to reassure him. Peridot may have been a Peridot, but she had withheld facts. An offence that would have warranted her shattering on Homeworld, but she knew she couldn’t give them.

She couldn’t remind them that Steven had probably already been shattered by the Diamonds. She couldn’t explain how every idea to leave Earth was almost certainly doomed to fail. She couldn’t even suggest sending Lapis for information, because the aristocratic gem had made her wish to never see Homeworld perfectly clear.

“We’ll find something.” Peridot reassured with a false calm. She was fairly sure humans used a level voice when trying to help each other, but she wasn’t sure. She just knew making a chart of all the reasons to stop crying wouldn’t work. Human Greg sniffed as she kept talking, keeping her voice calm as she made her attempt at a report. She was the Crystal Gem’s Peridot, she had to do this. “We need to keep looking, but we need to stop focusing on the dropship. It’s a waste of time and is distracting us from a goal.”

Greg sniffed again and moved his arm to ‘hug’ Peridot. He sobbed loudly into her shoulder and Peridot made a face of disgust at the slimy feeling on her shoulder. However, she moved her hand and once again patted his shoulder. She had seen this movement many times on Camp Pining Hearts and it had always worked. It wasn’t working now, instead making the human cry harder as Peridot internally panicked.

Pearl was also still sobbing and Peridot’s short arms couldn’t reach her to try the patting on her as well. Pearl’s erratic behavior had become far more troubling since Steven’s disappearance, now prone to just breaking down at the mere mention of the hybrid gem. Peridot forced the calmness of giving a report and continued the human attempt at reassurance. There were high odds that Human Greg would soon stop crying and would continue his efforts to retrieve Steven. She just needed to wait out the sadness, even if it did reduce the work she would complete today. Her attempts at recreating the repair gel for the galaxy warp had been… problematic. It tended to explode since Earth lacked the high-pressure containers used to store it on Homeworld.

Those experiments were ongoing, Peridot was certain she would solve the problem given enough time.

Pearl appeared to have stopped crying. It took Peridot a few minutes to realize she was now just staring at the sky blankly, sniffling every few minutes. Pearl had curled into a ball of misery, arms wrapped tightly around her legs as she stared at the clouds moving overhead. Her eyes were distant, filled with loss and Peridot felt an urge to cry herself.

This wasn’t her job.

But she would manage this new challenge and use her superior intellect to solve this problem. Soon the repair gel problem would be fixed and they could…

Warp right into the middle of Homeworld.

She might as well shatter them now. It was the idea with the most chance of success however so she had to keep trying. She was a Peridot armed with facts and determination, she would succeed and she would help rescue Steven. If Steven was alive. If they all survived the infiltration of Homeworld. But that was for later, when she was alone and able to work in peace.

For now, she continued to attempt to help Greg and Pearl and tried to stop telling herself how it wasn’t supposed to be her doing this.

Chapter Text

The inside of the Zoo was a beautiful light pink, from the floors to the walls that sparkled perfectly in the light. When Steven had come here the first time he honestly hadn’t noticed the beauty, too focused on rescuing his Dad from Blue Diamond and playing the role of Esteban Universidad. Now that he was walking alongside Yellow and Blue Diamond, he could take time to admire it all. The way the walls were cut to make the room more appealing, the star maps on the walls (that looked suspiciously like the ones on Pink’s walls). Dotted near the walls were Roaming Eyes, positioned to be out of the way of other gems. Somehow, he had even missed the big door on the left with a big flower decal on it.

At the sight of Yellow Diamond, one of the Amethysts guarding the door turned and ran. Probably to summon Holly Blue Agate, not that Steven cared. She was one gem Steven would be quite happy to never see again. He was not looking forward to her learning he was a Diamond. There would probably be tears, or a lot of empty praises. Steven was personally hoping she’d ignore his existence out of fear, but he doubted he was going to be that lucky.

He looked around again, pink eyes resting on the ceiling tiles which made him think of pink honeycomb for some reason. This had been his moms once. Had she come here to visit, like a human visiting a Zoo? Or had she avoided it, not acknowledging it when she didn’t need to? He didn’t know, he didn’t know her. Something stopped in Steven’s brain, stopping his quiet footsteps. Since his mom was dead and the Diamonds thought Steven was Pink Diamond, did the Zoo now belong to him?

Did the Earth belong to him?! No, the Earth was probably Blue’s now. She was so determined to own everything that was Pinks that it would be odd if she hadn’t claimed it. It would also explain how she’d been able to visit his mom’s palanquin so often.

He breathed in an attempt to stop the thoughts that kept popping into his head and jumped when Blue Pearl stepped in front of him, mouth turned slightly in worry. “Are you ok my Diamond?” Pearl asked quietly, so not to draw Blue and Yellow’s attention. Steven wished he could hug her, because he wanted the comfort. He didn’t know what to do anymore, even though he kept trying to plan how to rescue Lars. Part of him wanted to believe that she would help him if he asked. He honestly wanted to believe she was his friend, even when she obeyed him.

Could she even be his friend when she had to obey him? It seemed so unfair to her, even when she was happy to do so. How would his mom have treated her Pearl?

On the floating rock near the Strawberry Fields, Pearl smiles up at Rose Quartz. Happy, almost desperate, she reaches out to hold her hand. The hologram smiles back as Pearl insists she wants to stay. “You’re wonderful.” Pearl says lovingly as she takes the hand in her own. And then Pearl’s smile breaks like fragile glass as the hologram bursts at her touch, the false Rose Quartz disappearing in a burst of light.

“Everything I did, I did for her.” Pearl says quietly.

His mom would have treated her well, Steven decided. It was a thought that made him happy and helped the smile that he sent to Blue Pearl.

“Yeah, this place is…” It was terrifying. It was a reminder that he had never known his mom, none of them had. “Beautiful.” And the truth was that it was beautiful, the detailing was exquisite. It was more detailed then anything he had seen in Pink’s home. Even as he walked he could see the shimmer of crystals embedded in the walls. Nothing had changed since the last time he was here and yet somehow, it felt like everything had.

This time he wasn’t here with friends. This time he was here with the Diamonds and their Pearls, on another rescue mission. If he was lucky, he’d be able to find a ship on the Zoo to steal. Maybe he could recruit the Amethysts and take them to Earth as well, far away from the discrimination and cruelty they were forced to endure at the hands of Holly Blue.

It would be nice, to have more gems on Earth. The Famethyst would fit in perfectly with the Off Colors and the Crystal Gems. If he ever worked out how to cure the corruption, they’d get along great with everyone else.

Steven blinked rapidly, his mouth suddenly feeling dry. What was he thinking?! He couldn’t leave Homeworld, the Diamonds would attack Earth to get him back. But if he couldn’t leave Homeworld, how could he rescue Lars? No one would let him send Lars back to Earth and Steven didn’t want the Famethyst to get in trouble for helping him.

The Diamonds led him through the door to the left and followed the corridor quietly, Blue pausing to glance at Steven as he stared at one particularly large cluster of crystals on the wall. This cluster formed a small diamond, barely noticeable like all the others but it must have taken a long time for the iolite to arrange them like this. Not a crystal out of line.

She must have been popular, Steven realized. The gems must have honestly liked his Mom, like all the gems on Homeworld liked the Diamonds. Loyal to the end, willing to follow all orders to help keep the Diamonds happy. And that loyalty was now being directed to him.

He wanted to ask. He wanted to know more about his Mom and why she had left Homeworld. Was everything she had done on Earth an act? Or had she honestly believed in what she had told the Crystal Gems. Had she honestly believed in gems being equal and free?

He started walking quietly, staring at the walls in awe. When he’d last come here he’d been on a mission to rescue his dad, he’d been too distracted to notice the small details.

“Do you remember anything Pink?” Yellow asked when Steven paused again to look at something else. Her voice was almost hopeful as she watched him, at some point she and Blue had stopped walking to watch him and he’d been too busy staring at everything to notice. That was going to become a problem if it continued, he realized. He had to focus.

Steven shook his head, because he didn’t remember anything about his Mom and the Zoo. It had been an easy decision to not mention the one time he’d visited here, because that led to more questions from the Diamonds. It would make Blue realize his Dad was no longer here and that the Famethyst had betrayed Holly Blue to help him, a rebel at the time.

Yellow made a small noise as she thought, eyes softening for a second before they returned to their usual intensity. “I’m sure they’ll return eventually Pink.” She reassured before returning to walking. “We had this Zoo made for you after your… attempted colonization of Earth.” She waved at the corridor making Steven look around again as he followed. “It is used for preserving Earth’s Humans. We’re here now because you need a guard. By the time we leave, you will have been introduced to the beginnings of your court and will have picked the appropriate Amethysts to take with you.”

They exited the corridor and went through a different door, leading them to the big room Steven had seen Blue and Yellow Diamond in the last time he was here. It was still large and pink, with a large window showing space. He walked slowly up the stairs and looked around the room from the middle, not noticing (or caring) that Blue and Yellow were watching him like a hawk as he stared. For once he ignored the crystal work and instead looked up. The room was large, even by Diamond standards, and the ceiling was blocked by the sight of numerous bubbles floating in the air.

The Rose Quartzes.

What did they look like? Did they look like his mom’s Rose Quartz persona?

The memory of Rose Quartz and all he had been told about her was tainted now, but Steven was becoming ok with that. It meant she wasn’t perfect, it meant she wasn't an unreachable goal he could never hope to reach. He didn’t like what she’d done, he didn’t like all the lies she’d told and how it had hurt all his friends, but the hurt was starting to go away. Besides, if he was honest with himself this had been building for a while, from the moment Pearl learned about Lion and had realized that his mom had kept secrets from Pearl. It was the first moment Steven had realized his mom was hiding things, but he hadn't really thought about it much.

In hindsight he probably should have asked more questions.

It wasn’t like he could do anything about it anyway. She had given up her form to have him, she was dead now. And Blue and Yellow still didn’t know that, because Steven was continuing the lie, even unintentionally. Although admittedly, that was mostly because Blue and Yellow had a habit of ignoring him when he said something they didn’t like. In fact, he was pretty sure he’d explained everything at the trial. It probably hadn’t made much sense to anyone and had mostly been angry rambling however and with the revelation that he was a Diamond, it had probably been completely forgotten.

“Do you remember anything now?” Blue prompted, sounding hopeful as she watched him.

Steven was about to explain, to apologise and say no again, when the door opened and a familiar blue gem walked in quickly, heels tapping loudly on the floor. To the side both Pearls glared at her, insulted by the Agates mere presence. Steven smiled, because Blue Pearl looked annoyed and protective as the Agate stopped and bowed low to the Diamonds.

“My Diamonds. My beautiful, radiant, luminous Diamonds.” She simpered, not looking up from the bow and thus completely missing how Yellow and Blue exchanged looks of annoyance at the compliments. Steven moved quietly to hide behind Blue, really hoping Holly Blue wouldn’t notice him.

Her appearance hadn’t changed since the last time Steven had seen her. She was still tall, in a strict blue uniform with a shawl around her shoulders. Her lavender hair was in two buns on the sides of her head, with rings of different shades of purple running along the buns. Even from behind Blue, Steven could see that Holly Blue was bowed so low that her gem was visible on the back of her head, sparkling in the light of the room.

The Agate looked up and smiled nervously when neither Diamonds spoke to her.

“My Diamonds, we were not expecting you so soon. Is there anything you need of me?” She asked, quickly offering her services when Blue Diamond kept watching her in annoyance.

Steven kept hiding behind Blue’s feet, easily hidden by the folds of fabric and his small size.

“Agate, what is discussed in this ship is to be kept a secret until it is publicly announced at the next gala. If you tell anyone, you will be shattered.” Yellow started, glaring as the Agate paled and began nodding so quickly that she appeared to have become a bobble head for a second. "Am I understood?"

“Of course, my Diamonds. I am honored that you would trust me with such important information!”

Was it self preservation, or was it honest loyalty that made Holly Blue promise so quickly? Steven wasn’t sure, and he wasn’t able to really think about it as Blue side stepped to reveal him. Lilac eyes fell on the pink eyes, making time appear to stop. Holly Blue’s face fell as she took a step forward without thinking, hand raising in an aborted movement as they stared at each other.

“Pink Diamond. Oh my stars…” She whispered, so deeply in shock that she missed the mild disapproval of Yellow and Blue that her movements. Tears had started to form in her eyes. “You’ve returned to us…” Holly Blue continued, wide eyed in her wonder and joy. The Diamonds didn’t say anything, watching Steven’s reaction.

They watched Steven, who upon seeing Holly Blue had started glaring with a surprising amount of anger. “Agate.” He practically growled out in uncharacteristic hate. Holly Blue stopped and continued staring, the wonder turning into something more akin to horror as she realised.

“Wait, you’re…” She whispered.

She stopped talking, mouth hanging open as she truly looked at him. He was no longer dressed as a human from the Zoo, and in his new form she could see the gem (A quartz?) on his stomach. But there was no mistaking the small human who had been with the Pearl who had humiliated her in front of the Amethysts.

She let out a small whimper of dawning horror and the Diamonds finally realized there was a lot more to this meeting then they had assumed. Steven kept watching her, fully aware that at this point it was a little too late to salvage this meeting. It had been impossible for it to go well, there had been no reason for Holly Blue to know to hide her fear. No reason to know she would need to.

“Pink. Agate. Answers.” Yellow demanded swiftly, only to be answered by Holly Blue letting out a small wail of despair and Steven’s continued glare. “Agate!” Yellow snapped loudly when she didn't receive her answer.

“She… Well that is, I…”

Holly Blue stammered, unable to form complete sentences as three Diamonds watched her. Steven almost felt pity for her. Then he remembered how she had hit the Amethysts in front of him and how she had insulted his dad. How she looked down on Pearl and Ruby, upsetting them to the point of making them nearly cry and how he hadn’t been able to do anything about it. How all he could do was watch her, helpless as she gloated about the Diamond who had stolen his dad away from him. He kept glaring, not caring that the Pearls were staring like they’d only just met him and about how Blue Diamond looked worried and was holding herself back from butting in.

No, he kept watching the Agate who had hurt his family with all the fury he still felt inside him with the knowledge that all she could do was cower in front of him, fully aware that she had angered a Diamond.

Chapter Text

If this had been happening for any other reason Holly Blue would have been ecstatic. Three Diamonds in the same room as her, the very idea made her weak at the knees. It was an honor to be able to work directly for Blue Diamond, to be able to say that she personally held Blue Diamond’s trust. It was an honor to be able to stand in their very presence and have them talk to her.

The Diamonds were watching her now as she fell apart in fear, mind desperately working to try and understand what was happening to her. Things had been going… well, not well. Things hadn’t been going well since those rebels had snuck their way onto the Zoo and stole a human from under her nose. Specifically, the human Blue Diamond had brought personally. But things had been going ok. The gems of the Zoo had agreed to not tell anyone, all too aware of the fact that they would be shattered if they didn’t keep their mouths shut and had gotten on with their duties. It was a shallow mimicry of normality, her leadership sometimes openly questioned by the Peridots and Amethysts when they thought she couldn’t hear, but the work and Pink Diamond’s final orders continued to be completed. That was what was important, everything was still running efficiently.

Things had been going much better than they had any right to be, she should have realized the Diamonds would realize something had happened. How could she ever hope to lie to her leaders? The gems she had been created to serve, and had served for her entire existence? It had been a foolish hope.

Holly Blue and the Amethysts had entered a… well, the best term would be a fragile peace after the incident with the rebels. They had agreed to never speak of it again and the resident Peridots had hidden away the footage of the infiltration. Things had been looking good, until now as the two (three) Diamonds watched her. The hu… Pink Diamond watched from it… her position next to Blue Diamond, waiting to see what she would say in her defense. Waiting to see her lie so she could jump on it.

She could feel it inside herself, that Pink Diamond was angry. It was a feeling that sent shivers down her back as those cold pink eyes watched her. She could almost imagine a small smile on the Diamond’s lips as she watched Holly Blue cower in front of her. It was all encompassing, the feeling reminding her that this was all her fault, for angering a Diamond. For harming what was hers.

But no matter how threatening the small Diamond was, and she was terrifying, Holly Blue would always be more fearful of the other Diamonds. Especially her Diamond, who she had devoted her life to serving and was now looking at Holly Blue in disdain, all of her thousands of years of service dismissed at the word of the small Diamond in front of her.

Why would her Diamond ever question the loyalty of another Diamond though? Especially Pink Diamond, who had been lost and had returned to them. Her Diamond finally had the chance to be happy again and Holly Blue was threatening that.

“She came to the Zoo and took a human!” Holly Blue finally admitted in a broken voice which had reached an almost embarrassing pitch. She’d have stopped to hide her own embarrassment at her lack of control but the look of impending shattering from Blue made her keep talking. “The Sapphire she was with said she was delivering a human to the Zoo, but instead they took the human you brought here personally! …My Diamond.” She added the necessary title in a moment of clarity and capped it off with a salute. Blue Diamond’s eyebrow arched as she listened, eyes narrowing further into a glare at the mention of the lost human. The one she had specifically brought to the Zoo for an unknown reason.

Pink Diamond kept watching, eyes never leaving the Agate in front of her as she squirmed, trying to find a way to prevent the shattering of every gem on the ship. They had been following orders. She had been following orders.

“Pink.”

Pink Diamond looked up at Yellow Diamond who was pinching the bridge of her nose in annoyance. The was a moment of long suffering silence as she thought, before Yellow Diamond straightened and looked at Holly Blue. Finally, she kept talking. Her voice brokered no argument as she asked “Why was the infiltration of the rebels not reported immediately?” The report would have been top priority, rebels breaking in and stealing property of Blue Diamond. Technically, Holly Blue could be shattered for treason just for not reporting the break in. The amount of cover up that had followed however…

“Because…” Holly Blue stopped, there was no good lie that could save her gem. “Because I…”

“I ordered her not to.” Pink Diamond lied. “He… The human was my…” She paused, looking for a word as the Diamonds turned to look at her in shock. She tensed as she glanced at Blue Diamond, clearly looking for a good way to word this without drawing suspicion. “He was important to me and Blue took him.” There was a flash of emotion in her eyes as she said those words, something that put all the gems on edge until it went away.

Holly Blue breathed, for the first time since the disastrous first meeting feeling calm. She could salvage this and rescue the gems under her control. She may even be able to keep command of the Zoo, if Pink Diamond was feeling merciful. She was a Diamond, beautiful and perfect in every way. Holly Blue could only hope the Diamond would forgive her and her failings eventually.

“Then why were you angry with the Agate if she followed your orders?” It was odd to hear her Diamond so confused. Blue Diamond always carried herself with the majesty of a Diamond, never letting her emotions show. (No one in the Zoo ever acknowledged the moments their Diamond’s control faltered, it was their duty to serve and help their leader through her grief. They made sure the Zoo ran perfectly, so there was one less worry for her.)

Pink Diamond twitched, mouth curling in fury. She unclenched her hand and pointed sharply, making Holly Blue flinch. “She hurt them! They were mine and all I could do was watch as she hurt them!” She shouted, pink eyes seeming to flash furiously. All of the calm Holly Blue had carried disappeared in her realization.

The Amethysts. Pink Diamond had seen her punishing the Amethysts, the gems from her original court. She had heard Holly Blue insulting her colony and her court. That wasn’t including the rebels she had arrived with; the Fusion, the Pearl, the defective Amethyst. Did Pink Diamond also consider them part of her court? Were they included in the list of gems Holly Blue had hurt?

Stars, she was going to be shattered the moment Pink Diamond had the opportunity and Holly Blue Agate would deserve it. She’d insulted a Diamond while standing right in front of her.

“Yours.” Calm. Thoughtful. Yellow Diamond’s eyes had widened in shock at the word before understanding dawned in her eyes. “Of course.” She never finished the thought, but she was smiling as she looked down at the angry Diamond. Blue Diamond had realized as well, confusion changing to joy as she whispered something no one could hear to herself. “The Agate damaged what was yours in front of you. Very well.” The words were final, Blue Diamond nodded in agreement and didn’t move to defend her Agate. Yellow turned and held up her hand, a yellow aura covering her.

Holly Blue had been following orders.

She tried to step away, losing her footing as she stumbled. She didn’t want to be shattered. She’d been loyal! She’d been…!

Pink Diamond noticed the movement from her fellow Diamond and gasped, anger evaporating as she leapt in front of the blast of light.

Holly Blue had cowered where she fell at the sight of the Diamond’s strength, throwing up her arm to cover her face. She waited for the attack to hit, shaking uncontrollably. Upon realization she was still whole and unshattered, she lowered her arm and blinked rapidly. There was a pink shield in front of her, large with the swirl of a flower on the front. Behind it was the Diamond who had wanted her shattered, glaring at Blue and Yellow Diamond.

“I won’t let you shatter her.”

Pink Diamond’s voice had changed. It no longer rang with the power of a Diamond, cold and concise. While still angry, something about the voice now seemed defensive. Something about the voice gave Holly Blue hope that she may survive this meeting.

The Agate whimpered as Pink Diamond turned to look at her, never dropping the shield. The pink eyes were soft as she ran her eyes over the Agate for damage. It was an outcome no one in the room could have foreseen, the small Diamond had protected her when she should rightfully have had Holly Blue shattered. “My merciful Diamond.” She saluted from where she lay. Her hands shook, still in shock from the near shattering. “My… My wonderous, generous Diamond.” How does one thank a Diamond, the beacon of Homeworld, for saving them? She deserved to be shattered, she had earned a Diamond’s fury.

If Holly Blue survived this, she would serve Pink Diamond to the best of her ability. There was no other way to repay her and her mercy.

Yellow Diamond lowered her hand slowly, frustrated as she looked at them. “Pink, what are you doing?” She was trying to sound gentle, but fury tinged the words. It was far more terrifying then if Yellow Diamond had actually been angry, because it meant Holly Blue didn’t know what to expect.

“You can’t just… just shatter her!” Pink Diamond never lowered her shield and that appeared to hurt Blue Diamond, who looked like she had been betrayed. She was watching everything happen uncertainly, not sure who to side with. “You never cared how she treated the Amethysts here before, so why do you care now?”

Because the treatment was normal. Amethysts were durable gems, known for their flightiness and being easily excitable. It had been acknowledged for years that one had to ensure they knew their place, especially the gems from Earth. They had had to be forced from the planet at the announcement of Pink’s shattering, being placed in the Zoo in order to prevent losing them to the war. The worst Holly Blue had done was cause a few moments of pain to ensure correct behavior, as was expected of her as the gem leading them. How else could she ensure proper behavior? They were from Earth.

No one wanted to explain that to the Diamond who’s programming was driving her to protect her gems from damage. Soon the programming would level out and Pink Diamond would be able to rationalize the treatment, would understand that while unpleasant it was still necessary. That wasn’t going to happen for the next few hundred years however.

A gem quietly walked past Holly Blue and she watched as Blue Diamond’s Pearl leant forward, whispering something quietly into Pink Diamond’s ear. Whatever she said made Pink Diamond pause before she dropped the shield. She was still prepared to defend Holly Blue from the Diamond’s wrath however, clearly ready to re-summon the shield at the first sign of another attack.

Yellow closed her eyes with a small sigh, thinking to herself before reopening them. “What do you want us to do with her?” It was unheard of to hear a Diamond sound resigned, but that was the only way Holly Blue could take that voice. The Diamond looked angry, but she was looking at Pink Diamond who was prepared to jump to Holly Blue’s defense again.

Holly Blue stood slowly as Blue Pearl continued her whispering in the Diamond’s ear, a move that made the Diamonds direct their attention at her again. From where she stood she could hear the Pearl explaining the punishments that could be bestowed upon her, from being reassigned to a colony at the far reaches of the galaxy (losing her high-ranking position and her Diamond’s trust) to being shattered on the spot.

Pink Diamond was listening with the eyes of a gem who didn’t understand her orders, unsure of the explanation and unwilling to double check the details. Like the Amethysts, who had been assigned to helping keep the humans happy and had managed to flunk that duty for years. Holly Blue and the Peridots had spent years trying to understand what was expected of them, especially when the war started on Earth and Pink Diamond stopped visiting completely.

Stars, and now the Diamond was stood in front of her. The uncertainty in her eyes made Holly Blue want to offer her assistance, to direct the gems under her to complete the Diamonds wishes until she was happy again. She wanted to do her duty and assist the Diamond, but she forced herself still. If the Diamond wanted her assistance, she would ask for it.

“Maybe we don’t have to shatter her.” Blue Diamond offered, voice calm as everyone stopped to listen. Holly Blue swallowed, fear clear on her face as her Diamond offered her idea. “We could assign a gem to the Zoo to observe her. A Benitoite. And if the Agate… damages your gems again, Pink, we will deal with her then.” A compromise between the Diamonds, Holly Blue would only be shattered if she continued knowingly disobeying her Diamond.

It was still a punishment however, because it meant Holly Blue was being observed and that her control of the Zoo was now being questioned. It meant that she and her judgement were no longer trusted by the Diamonds, and that the only reason she was still unshattered was because they didn’t want to upset Pink Diamond. For a gem like Holly blue, who prided herself for carrying her Diamond’s trust and holding a high place in the Blue Court, this could almost be a worse punishment then shattering. It also meant the threat of shattering would be over her head for thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, until she had earned forgiveness. The punishment might never end if fact.

But even with the punishment, Holly Blue would still have her position in the Zoo. She would still be serving her Diamonds to the best of her ability, working to prove herself loyal. The thought made her feel slightly less bitter as Pink Diamond nodded in agreement with the suggestion, sealing Holly Blue’s fate for what was probably going to be the next few thousand years.

Chapter Text

In the large open room, the gems stood. Steven was slightly aware of Blue Pearl’s calming presence next to him as he watched the scene in front of him. The one he had caused because he couldn’t keep his emotions in control. He swallowed, trying to ignore the feeling of guilt as he watched Holly Blue once again bow to the Diamonds, thanking them.

Holly Blue looked like the world had been ripped out from under her as she bowed in front of him, looking terrified as she watched discreetly from the corner of her eyes. Steven honestly felt sorry for her as she bowed low and apologetic, looking close to tears as she thanked him over and over again for his mercy.

His mercy. She honestly thought he’d been merciful to her.

He had wanted her gone from the Zoo and away from his Amethysts, even if it had meant shattering her. The feeling of possessiveness had been like a shroud being drawn over his mind, leaving him detached from everything except the knowledge of mine and that it was his duty to protect them. He’d never felt anything like it before, the certainty that he had to protect his court no matter what. But then Yellow had tried to shatter Holly Blue and the shroud had pulled back into horror because he’d done this. He’d thrown her into a situation where she could die, and for a few moments he’d been happy. Because if she was shattered, she couldn’t hurt anyone anymore.

His hands shook as she left, unable to meet the Agate’s eyes.

He didn’t want any gems shattered. He hadn’t even wanted Aquamarine shattered, and she’d caused this entire mess. She was the reason he was on Homeworld and not on Earth with his family. But as he’d looked down on Holly Blue, something had happened to him. It was like a switch in his head had been flipped.

He swallowed tightly, for once glad the Crystal Gems weren’t here. What would they say if they saw him now? Would they accept him still? Or would they…

He could almost picture Pearl calling him ‘my Diamond’ with a gentle smile like Blue Pearl’s and it made him feel ill. He needed to talk to Blue Pearl, to ask her what was happening, but she was watching him with approval and it was all wrong. Everyone was watching him, leaving Steven feeling like he was alone in a room full of gems again. Had he done something they approved of, he wondered as he blinked blankly.

The memory as Holly Blue looked up at him in fear of her life flashed before his eyes again. It was all wrong.

Blue Diamond watched him in worry, eyes scanning him for any signs of injury. It was obvious she was holding herself back from picking him up, and once again Steven found himself grateful for the restraint. He didn’t want to be touched by her right now, he wanted to know what was happening to him. Finally, Blue looked at Yellow uncertainly, hoping for some idea of what to do.

Yellow Diamond sighed. “Blue, we should be reprimanding her for jumping into an attack. For an Agate of all gems.” Yellow muttered, sounding exhausted. She made a small noise of worry after a few moments of thought and straightened, looking down at Steven who blinked up at her. “Pink, how are you feeling?” Oh right, he’d jumped in front of her attack.

He didn’t know. How was he feeling? Scared? Confused? He wasn’t sure what had happened, the memories appearing almost hazy when he tried to remember. He couldn’t even be sure what the programming was doing to him either. And that was horrifying because how long had it been affecting his thoughts and he hadn’t even noticed? Had it been affecting him before he became full gem? If it was, wouldn’t someone have told him? Wouldn’t he have noticed something?

He sat in the van, listening as his dad told him about how hopeless everything would have been in the war without his mom’s shield. His stomach clenched as he felt his gem, hard under his top. He was leaving them to fight and he couldn’t help them. He was leaving them behind, and they could be shattered.

“I know they're just trying to protect me, but I have to protect them! I have Mom's shield, they need me!” He pleaded desperately, almost clawing at his dad in an attempt to get him to turn around. He couldn’t stop the tears as his pleas were ignored. He could fight, he could defend them.

“I need you!” His dad yelled, hands clenching on the wheel as he tried to convince his son to remain safe, but the panic had already set into Steven’s mind. They needed him. He couldn’t leave them to get hurt, not if he could help them. He knew he could help though, he had his moms shield. He could help, he needed to help.

“Please Dad, what if they get hurt? Dad, turn around! Dad! Turn the van around, please!” Anger consumed him as he realised they were getting further and further away from the fight. They could already be hurt, already be shattered, all because Steven left them. He pulled back his fist and punched the panel of the van in front of him, tears of rage pricking his eyes.

They needed him.

Then again, how would anyone know what parts of him were gem and what parts were human? He had always been protective of his family and friends. From a young age he would have done anything if it guaranteed it would make them happy.

“I’m feeling better.” He finally muttered, because in a way it’s true. He was no longer possessed by the feeling that had wanted him to hurt someone. Holly Blue was still alive. Yellow Diamond’s attack hadn’t broken his shield, meaning he was still uninjured. He wasn’t hurt, even if he felt like he’d been the one throwing the attack.

Yellow Diamond didn’t notice the lie, or if she did she didn’t act on it. She just nodded. “Never jump in front of an attack again Pink. You could have been hurt.” She stressed the final word and Steven looked down awkwardly. It was pretty obvious an apology wouldn’t make Yellow feel better. He wasn’t sure what he could say that would help, so he kept his silence and just glared at the floor.

He wasn’t sure why, but that seemed to upset Yellow even more.

“You could have been killed Pink! Again! Do you even realise how important you are? To Homeworld? To us?” Yellow waited for a reaction, but Steven just couldn’t think of an answer to give her. The silence was deafening as it hung in the air, the Diamonds waiting for him to say something. Anything. “Do you have any idea what it was like for us to lose you?” She whispered, eyes becoming distant when asked the question that made guilt bubble in Steven.

Blue let out a small sob at Yellow’s words, and Steven realised why she hadn’t said anything. She’d been holding back tears again.

Finally, Steven closed his eyes and nodded.

“You’re right. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have jumped in front of the attack.” He wasn’t sure if the apology helped or not, but it appeared to placate Yellow for now. At the very least she no longer looked like she was planning to never let him out of her sight again. Small victories, Steven took them when he could. “Can I go see the humans?” Steven finally asked. He knew he sounded miserable as he asked, but he didn’t really feel like trying to force a smile.

He just wanted to find Lars and make sure he was ok. Hopefully he could still get Lars back to Earth without the Diamonds noticing. He could probably convince Holly Blue to help him, especially because she now owed him. He focused on that thought. He could still do this, even as everything went wrong around him. He could rescue Lars.

Even if Steven couldn’t rescue himself.

Chapter Text

In the corridors of the Zoo, Steven found himself once again looking around in wonder. Homeworld architecture was beautiful to look at, designed to be appealing to look at. Blue Pearl was following him again, quiet, obedient and always a few steps behind him. He was starting to get used to the fact that most gems refused to walk alongside him now. Unless they were the Diamonds, they wouldn’t even meet his eyes without blushing like mad.

Being around the Diamonds made them happy. Part of Steven hated that, because now he could tell that wasn’t all them. It was the coding. It was the feeling in the back of their minds pushing and pushing, and the gems had been created with it. They wouldn’t even know what it was like to live without it, it would never occur to them to fight it. If they could.

How could his mom have led a rebellion with the coding being so powerful? How did she get around it when it was so powerful? It was another line of questions that Steven now had to ponder, and no one to talk to about it.

It was becoming far too easy to push his worries to the back of his mind. He needed to focus on the here and now, on what could be immediately fixed. Steven looked around him, looking for something familiar. Something to lead him to the humans and Lars. He had it planned out what he could do. He’d find Lars, then he’d find Holly Blue and order her to send Lars back to Earth. It should be simple if everything Blue Pearl kept telling him was true, if the gems would obey his orders. Steven would then return to the Diamonds and then… he was going to be given a guard. More gems for his court.

He’d be taken to see White Diamond and from there, he’d look for the Peridot Pearl 1 had told him about. Peridot 1.

He had to return to Homeworld, but Lars could carry a message to the Crystal Gems. Lars could tell everyone Steven was ok and that he wasn’t going to be shattered. He could tell them about the Off Colors, and… that was it. He couldn’t tell them about his court or that he was Pink Diamond. He couldn’t tell them about the weird Sapphire and Pearl who’d helped him, or his dream about White Diamond. He couldn’t tell them anything.

It was too easy to picture their reactions. He could picture Garnet’s fear, raw on her face as she stammered like she had when trying to keep Steven from Blue Diamond. He could picture her trying to hide her fear every time she spoke to him. Would she still talk and hug him? Would… would she still be the amazing motherly figure who let him hug her tightly when he was scared and comforted him when he cried?

What about Pearl? Would she become like Blue and Yellow Pearl? Scarily loyal and always there? He was terrified she’d start calling him ‘Her Diamond’, insisting on opening doors and carrying things for him. Currently, while Pearl enjoyed work she was still… Pearl. She was still independent and amazing and perfect. She was the Pearl who could use a sword and stood up for herself when other people insulted her. He didn’t want her to change.

And he didn’t know how Amethyst and his Dad would react. Amethyst hadn’t been a part of the Gem War. She’d never served a Diamond, she was only a Crystal Gem because they found her and took her in. How would she react to Rose lying to them like this? That everything she had been told was a lie. That Rose Quartz had never even existed. That Rose’s lie had caused everyone so much pain, and it was still causing them problems even after 6,000 years.

Had his mom told his dad anything? How could Steven feel if she had and his dad hadn’t told him? What if she hadn’t said anything? His dad would learn that all of the danger Steven had been placed in was all because his mom had lied. She’d lied and lied until she had Steven and all her problems had become his.

How was anyone meant to feel now? Steven still wasn’t sure how he was meant to feel, but that problem was only being made worse by the fact that the Diamonds wanted him to be Pink Diamond.

No, he couldn’t let Lars tell anyone. It should be Steven who told them. Like how he had been the one to tell them about how his mom had bubbled Bismuth and left her inside Lion.

Like how he was always fixing her problems, because Pink Diamond wasn’t here anymore. Steven was.

He turned a corner and then backtracked to hide as he saw Holly Blue Agate. She looked upset, arms waving as her whispers grew faster and more panicked. The blue gem was whispering to a Peridot with hair in the shape of a hexagon. At least, he was pretty sure that shape was a hexagon, he hadn’t managed to get a good look at her. He glanced around the corner and watched the Peridot’s reactions, as they went from starry eyed joy and wonder to confusion as Holly Blue continued talking. The Peridot’s body was different from his Peridot’s, being tall with wide shoulders like he’d seen in the orb. Her eyes were hidden behind a pair of yellow goggles.

Pearl placed a hand on his shoulder which made him jump, her long hair hiding the look of confusion that was no doubt on her face when he turned to look at her. He shook his head and put a finger to his lips to shh her as he tried to listen to Holly Blue’s conversation, but he couldn’t hear any of the quiet murmurs.

What he did hear was the loud ‘The human?!’ from the Peridot before she turned and left quickly, followed by Holly Blue who was still trying to talk to her. Steven waited until the clicks of the Agate’s heels could no longer be heard and he stepped out from behind the corner.

“Well, that was weird.” He said to Pearl.

She nodded quietly, hair hiding how she felt from him. Was she agreeing because he was a Diamond? It was probably better if Steven didn’t think too hard about it. He liked to think that Pearl was agreeing because she actually agreed and not because she was worried about disagreeing with a Diamond.

Clearly, he had been the topic of that discussion and it wasn’t that surprising. It would have been more of a shock if Holly Blue wasn’t running around warning the gems on the Zoo about him. He wasn’t sure what they could have said however.

Honestly, Steven didn’t care what she had said so long as Holly Blue didn’t hurt his gems again.

His fist clenched at the mere idea of her raising a fist to his Amethysts before it relaxed. She wasn’t hurting them and if she did, he could deal with her.

He kept walking, pretty sure he recognized this part of the Zoo. Then again, a lot of the Zoo looked the same to Steven so he was probably still lost. He considered asking Pearl for directions before he decided against it. It was a good thing that he was taking such a long time to find where he was meant to go, because he wasn’t sure what he could say to Lars.

He turned another corner and walked up to a random door that he noticed. The door was inconspicuous and plain, a light pink that closely matched the color of the walls. The only reason Steven was able to notice it was the small screen next to it, a white diamond with blue writing that Steven still couldn’t read. He pushed a few buttons randomly again, wondering if some of the writing said ‘push here to open’, because at this point with his luck he wouldn’t be surprised.

The door opened to reveal yet another pink room, the sound of quiet talking audible as he stepped in. The clicking of fingers typing stopped eerily as Steven walked into view.

He was in a room with two Peridots, both of whom were staring at him.

The tall green gems gazed upon him, in green uniforms with blue diamond insignias visible on their chests like all the other gems he’d seen on Homeworld. It was the first time Steven had truly seen a Generation 1 Peridot up close, and he couldn’t help take a step forward to look closer at both of them. They were the gems he’d seen in the observation orb, tall with wide shoulders and thin waists. They were slightly taller than Pearl, although this was mostly caused by their hair which kept its shape perfectly. They both looked similar which made Steven want to look for their gems in an attempt to differentiate between them.

As he looked for their gems something made him look at the room he was in.

The room itself was clearly built with a specific purpose in mind, resembling a high-tech lab. Screens lining the walls covered in data that Steven couldn’t read. As he watched, the data was still being gathered. The lines formed quickly, odd writing disappearing off screen as more lines replaced it. On a few of the screens Steven could see a video of the humans in the Zoo frolicking, unaware of the surveillance watching them from every corner. He couldn’t see Lars on the screens however, so he looked back at the Peridots.

They were still gawking at him and Steven felt a small urge to wave. He held up his hand and waved it slightly, making them gasp. Steven giggled at the open-mouthed shock, it actually looked kinda adorable.

“…My Diamond?” One of the Peridots whispered. Her hair was a square around her head, framing the gem on her forehead. Squaridot, Steven immediately decided. It was easier to remember then an identification number at least. “You’re alive?” She looked like she’d seen ghost as she stared at him, hands hovering over the screen she had been working on as she struggled to comprehend the sight of a Diamond stood in her lab.

“You’re that human.” The other muttered muttered. This Peridot that had her hair in the shape of a triangle and her gem on her belly button. Due to this her uniform was designed in such a way that it reminded Steven of Skinny Jasper, with her uniform consisting of a dark green belly top and matching trousers to make the gem easily visible. She recovered quickly, mouth turning into a wide grin as she laughed at something. “You’re the human that was with the rebels!” Whatever she had wanted to add was stopped at the sight of Blue Pearl behind him. The Peridot blushed, a light blue spreading across her cheeks as she realized what she had said. Then she started to look confused, eye brows moving together as she pieced together that the ‘human’ was actually a Diamond.

Pearl continued to look overwhelmingly unamused from behind Steven. While she was a Pearl, she was still the Pearl of the owner of the Zoo and was clearly attached to the Diamond who was now in their presence.

The Pink Diamond.

“Uh… Yeah, that’s me.” Steven chuckled nervously as they started to creep shyly over, moving as if they were waiting for him to lose his temper the closer they got. For a moment Steven felt… something. The gems were almost cowering as they stopped a few meters from him, saluting so their hands were shaped like a diamond. They were scared of him, like Holly Blue Agate had been scared of him.

He was scaring them.

He hated it. He hated knowing that he could scare someone just by being near them, even as he knew that he had the power to order them hurt if he wanted it. Like Pearl had said when he first arrived, he could order a gem shattered if he wanted it. He had so much power over them, and it wasn’t fair.

He just wanted them to stop looking at him like that.

He wanted a lot of things now. It was easier not to focus on it too much.

“Hi, I’m Steven.” He smiled brightly as he introduced himself. His attempt to appear friendlier worked, the looks of ‘imminent shattering’ replaced with confusion as they fought the urge to look at each other. Instead they nodded as if they understood completely.

“Of course, Steven.” Steven blinked at the correct address before he realized that these Peridots were used to humans. They had probably overheard his dad or any of the other humans from the Zoo talking to him after he had arrived. “Did you wish for an update on the running of the Zoo, Steven?”

“Actually, I was hoping to find a specific human. Is Lars ok?”

Squaridot immediately brightened, smiling in excitement as she rushed to assist the odd Diamond. “Of course, my Diam… I apologize, Steven. He has become perfectly functioning after his visit with Peridot 7AF. He is now adjusting well and is working with the humans to fulfil his purpose.” With those odd words, she summoned a screen and tapped at it a few times before showing it to Steven.

As expected, he couldn’t read the screen full of alien writing. Steven squinted in the hopes the words would suddenly create complete sentences in English. This also didn’t work so he nodded. Squaridot smiled in accomplishment as she moved the screen so it was floating in front of her again.

The sight of the smiling gem made Steven smile wider. “Can you take me to the Zoo? I want to go in and see the humans.”

As he expected, the Peridots almost fell over themselves in their enthusiasm to help him. And behind him, Pearl was happy as she watched him interact with his gems.

Chapter Text

Her Diamond was finally acting like a Diamond. She was stood in the middle of the lab, laughing as the Peridots moved to assist her in any way possible as it should be. If only her True Diamond was here to see it, it would make her so happy to see her Diamond settling into her role once again.

She wasn’t sure what her Diamond was aiming to do however, even as her Diamond asked about the organic named ‘Lars’ Pearl was left unsure about what she was meant to do for her. What could she want from the organic? It was safely stored away in the Zoo, it’s life safe from the Cluster’s emergence. Pearl was unsure about if her Diamond was even aware of the Cluster, and whether or not it was Pearl’s place to inform her of it.

The thoughts didn’t stop her joy at the sight of her Diamond talking to the two Peridots (even if one was unaware of her station, calling a Diamond a human…). Was her Diamond aware that the Peridots had once belonged to her like the Amethysts? From the way the Diamond acted, Pearl didn’t think so. There was no familiarity as she spoke to them, in fact she had seemed shocked at the sight of them.

But it wasn’t Pearl’s place to question her Diamond’s actions or thoughts, it was her duty to assist with whatever her Diamond asked of her. And Pearl was happy to follow quietly, awaiting orders. It was all she could do after she failed her Diamond so.

Her face never betrayed her guilt at the memory of her failure. She failed to protect her Diamond, causing her to be taken. She had reformed as quickly as she could and found herself in Pink Diamond’s quarters alone. She had rushed to inform her True Diamond of the attack and had watched her Diamond’s panic at the loss of Pink Diamond.

All because Pearl had failed her.

Pearl deserved the loss of her True Diamond’s trust. She wasn’t sure why her Diamond still insisted on her being the Pearl to accompany her, because Pearl had failed. She had failed her duty to her Diamonds and was lucky they hadn’t shattered her for her failure. It was the least Pearl deserved. Pearl couldn’t even fully assist her True Diamond during the search for Pink, watching her True Diamond’s desperate attempts to contact White Diamond and…

And…

Even when Pearl was merely remembering the disastrous call to the Matriarch of Homeworld, she could feel the constraints of the order. Unable to inform her Diamond of anything as she watched White Diamond’s eyes struggling to focus on her True Diamond. Pearl had watched as the tired looking Matriarch dismissed her True Diamond, ending the call swiftly as the area around the Diamond’s gem had…

No. Pearl continued to look at her Diamond, ignoring the memory. She was burdened with the knowledge that White Diamond had hidden away for eons, unable to say a word to anyone else. Like her fellow Pearls, they tried to ignore the knowledge. It hurt Pearl to think of it, it hurt her to know that her True Diamond’s mind had been altered for so long that she couldn’t even see reality when it was in front of her.

And Pearl couldn’t tell her anything, the words trapping themselves in her throat every time she tried. She hated that movement her hand did whenever she tried, placing a finger over her mouth as the words failed. It had felt like a threat the first time she had seen it, and her feelings about it hadn’t improved over time. She wasn’t even sure where White Diamond had learned that sign from, because no one else on Homeworld used it.

How she wanted to tell her True Diamond everything. All it would take was for her to order Pearl to tell her everything, but she never would. Her True Diamond trusted White Diamond. And now the Matriarch of Homeworld, oldest of all the Diamonds, was preparing to draw Pink Diamond into her plans again and Pearl was still unable to stop her. Just like last time.

She was a failure. To her owner and to the Diamond she was currently serving.

Instead of focusing on the orders that had bound her for so many thousands of years, she focused on her Diamond. To remember the orders would only bring her grief, but the sight of her Diamond talking to the Peridots was something she could enjoy now. It was what Pearl had wanted, the ability to watch Pink Diamond like this.

She looked so happy. She was so much more joyful now that she was at the Zoo, about to see her humans.

And the Peridots were also making her happy, explaining their work with uncontrollable excitement as her Diamond watched the screen showing the humans playing in the artificial fields. Somehow the Peridots had convinced the Diamond to look at their work before she left and her Diamond had agreed out of curiosity. Pearl watched as her Diamond pointed at the screen and asked questions about what she was seeing.

Questions that had been answered in the report the Peridots had given her.

She had only been able to look at the screen from the corner of her eyes as her Diamond looked at it, but Pearl was a fast reader. She had read the majority of the information before her Diamond had handed it back, and Pearl knew her Diamond should know this information. The Peridots were answering happily all of her Diamond’s questions, too eager to assist a Diamond to question the fact that the Diamond was asking these questions to begin with, but Pearl couldn’t do that.

She couldn’t ignore this.

If her growing suspicion was right, it would be… Pearl didn’t even know the words to explain how bad it could be. But if she was right, her True Diamond needed to know. The other Diamonds would need to know. Pearl needed to know if Pink Diamond had lost the ability to read.

It was a foolish thought, one that was so unbelievable Pearl wanted to scold herself almost immediately. Of course, her Diamond could read. She was a Diamond.

Mind made up Pearl leant forward, ready to try to ascertain whether or not it was all an odd mistake when the trio of gems decided it was time to go to the Zoo. One of the Peridots (thankfully not the one who had called her Diamond human) was chosen to lead her Diamond to where the humans were kept, the other staying behind to finish her work for the day.

It was work that Pearl would never fully understand, the idea of human bodies making chemicals which could regulate their emotions. It seemed inefficient and likely to fail, but the Peridots had been studying it for at least a century. Her True Diamond had attempted to understand the reports on their findings, but neither her nor Pearl had truly managed such a task. Even when Pearl had been assigned to summarize the reports she had needed to request help from Homeworld Peridots. Her True Diamond had only understood that something was failing inside the human minds, but the Peridots were attempting to fix it.

It was a fault in the organics that had been discovered through luck. How had the species survived for so long when their own physical forms could betray them so?

It was a question her True Diamond had asked the odd human next to her Diamond’s palanquin, and it was still something Pearl wondered. Would her Diamond be offended if Pearl asked? She had been willing to tell Pearl about the… the rebels when she asked. Perhaps she would also tell Pearl about her life on Earth, although Pearl was worried such questions would upset her Diamond.

Perhaps the rebels had taken her ability to read as well, making her Diamond even more reliant on them. It would render her Diamond unable to read and complete reports, all her information would have to be given to her by the rebels. It would be easy to twist the facts, especially if it was the Pearl who was giving her Diamond the reports.

Pearl grimaced, once again thankful that her hair was hiding her expression from her Diamond. It would be unseemly for her to be seen looking angry, especially over nothing. Pearls didn’t become angry, they existed to serve and help keep their owners happy. If her Diamond saw that Pearl was upset, she would also become upset. Her Diamond was… kind.

Much kinder than before. She had apologized to Pearl, never mentioning Pearl’s failure to protect her. It was part of the reason Pearl had made her hair longer, to hide her displeasure when thinking of Earth and the rebels. Her Diamond was far too innocent to realize the fact that she was potentially being manipulated, either by the White Court or by the rebels. But that was what Pearl, and Pink Diamond’s future Pearl, was there for. To assist her in any way she needed.

“Hey, come on Pearl!”

Pearl was jolted from her thoughts as a soft hand took hers and gently pulled. Her Diamond had started to lead her after the Peridot, smiling brightly back at Pearl as they left the lab. It was inappropriate, but Pearl couldn’t bring herself to pull her hand free. This was making her Diamond happy. She was smiling up at Pearl, joy clear in her eyes.

This was nice. Pearl allowed herself to be led, stooping slightly so her Diamond could hold her hand easier. For the first time since her failure, she felt like she was doing her duty correctly. Perhaps one day she would redeem herself enough to call her Diamond ‘Steven’ again.

Chapter Text

Steven followed Squaridot in excitement, almost bouncing as he pulled Pearl along by her hand. He was finally going to see Lars again, after all those months trapped on Homeworld. He was so eager to reach Lars he almost completely missed the Peridot’s speech as she walked, explaining what had happened with the Zoo since Pink Diamond’s death. She glanced at the Pearl’s hand clasped in Steven’s a few times, but had continued talking like Steven wasn’t destroying Homeworld convention without a second thought.

For her part, Pearl had leant forward as she was pulled. It was easy for her to keep up with Steven with her longer legs, but appeared content to be led. Her hand was cold in Steven’s, like his Pearl. Gems were almost always cold to touch, the only exception Steven really knew of was Ruby who had fire abilities. This was probably due to being made of hard light, their bodies just didn’t make warmth like a human. Steven was probably the same now, cool to touch like a rock.

She talked about how Blue Diamond had taken over the Zoo and placed her Agate in charge, her mouth twisting in hate at the mention of Holly Blue before continuing on like nothing had happened. The mention of Holly Blue made Steven flinch, still feeling guilty about how he had wanted to shatter her. He still felt bad about that, but if she hadn’t tried to hurt his gems he wouldn’t have needed to. He wouldn’t have needed to protect them.

“But of course, my… I apologize, Steven this has not stopped our work to fulfil your final orders.” Squaridot stopped and turned, smiling widely at him. Steven stopped walking, able to prevent himself from walking into her. “And may I… forgive me, it’s just, it is an honor to be able to serve you again Steven.” Squaridot’s eyes seemed to shimmer behind her glasses, hands clasped in front of her as she looked at him in pleasure. Her smile widened as she continued talking, giving in to the feelings caused but this whole scenario. Joy and wonder mixed to create an emotion that was almost euphoric as she talked to the small Diamond in front of her. This made her stumble over her words as reality continued to catch up with her, causing the euphoria to become embarrassment at how she was acting. “It is such… I mean you must hear this all the time, but it is so…” Squaridot paused awkwardly as Steven waited for her to compose herself.

The moment seemed really personal to the tall Peridot, who made a small noise of unease when words seemed to fail her. The hands that had been clasped together were now rubbing themselves in a sign of nerves as she rethought her speech, rewording it in her mind until it seemed right. The words weren’t logical, they were emotional.

Peridots were never good with emotions.

“It’s just… thank you for returning to us.” Squaridot finished quietly. She turned her head to the side in embarrassment, a dark blush gracing her cheeks. “You… After you left, things were… And then we heard that the rebels had… It’s just… We…” After a few false starts Squaridot stopped talking, eyes looking suspiciously wet. “Thank you for returning, my Diamond.” She finished with a sharp salute, looking hesitant at how to continue.

How could she word what this meant to her?

The return of Pink Diamond was a miracle no gem would ever have believed possible. It defied all logic and no matter what she had done while pretending to be a human, she was now back. And as if to remind her gems at how perfect she was, she was already working to improve conditions in the Zoo. Blue Diamond was happier, Holly Blue Agate had had her ego so thoroughly destroyed she hadn’t argued with the Peridots when they kept the video of her defeat at the hands of the fusion. And now she was listening to Peridot trying to talk to her, when it was her right to tell Peridot to return to following her Diamond’s orders.

Steven watched as Squaridot floundered, waiting for Steven to react to her small speech. It appeared to be a constant with Peridots, the way they became flustered when they were trying to be emotional. When she had planned it, it was probably intended to be longer. She had probably planned out every word in her head as she spoke outload about the Zoo, and had failed due to nerves at the last moment.

But despite the fact that Peridot had clearly put her heart (gem…?) into the speech, Steven was unsure how to respond. Like the other Homeworld gems, Squaridot looked up to him like… Like a Diamond.

“I’m happy to be here.” Steven finally settled on, chuckling as Squaridot squeaked loudly.

“W… We… Well let’s continue to the humans my Dia… I mean, Steven!” The Peridot turned and continued walking, but Squaridot was still smiling. It made Steven happy, and when he turned to Pearl, she also looked happy. Her smile was soft but proud as she looked at him.

They both looked at each other, not speaking before Steven started to follow the Peridot. They didn’t talk as they walked, both content with the moment of understanding that had passed between them.

Squaridot had returned to her talking, continuing the tangent she had stopped in order to make her small speech. Steven still didn’t understand a lot about what Peridot was talking about, but it felt nice to listen to her. Her voice was a similar pitch to his Peridot, and as she talked about the Zoo it was with the enthusiasm of Peridot talking about Camp Pining Hearts.

But she never talked about the humans as if they were living things. The way she spoke, you’d think they were small animals or pets. Just something for the gems to feed and observe, making sure they were happy because they were to silly to do that themselves. It made Steven feel uneasy the more she spoke, the way she spoke so casually about keeping humans locked away in the Zoo.

And now Steven was about to see Lars, who had been trapped in the Zoo for at least a few months. It could be worse, Lars was still alive after all, but the thought of Lars being trapped in the Zoo was something Steven had tried to avoid thinking about. Thinking about Lars trapped here just made Steven feel worse.

He tightened his hold on Pearl’s hand, hoping that she would do it back like his Pearl. A small gesture of companionship, but she didn’t. Pearl’s grip was loose, only tight enough that her hand couldn’t slip out of his. She wanted an order before she did anything that could displease Steven.

He already knew that though. She had openly stated that when she told him his role on Homeworld. Why would that suddenly change now? Homeworld wasn’t like Earth, and Steven kept being reminded of that even when he already knew it. It was like when he went to Korea with his Dad, you knew everything was different but you were still shocked when you saw it.

Even after these long months, Steven was being forced to remember that Homeworld was different. This was probably made worse by the time he’d been locked in that room, he’d never had to really experience Homeworld until that Sapphire had led him to the Off Colors.

He hoped they were ok.

“And here is the door to the containment area, m… Steven.”

Steven looked up at the words and realized they were stood in front of the door to the Zoo. It was still large and pink, with pictures of flowers on the door and lines running along it in a pattern designed to draw the eye. Next to the door were two statues, made of pink crystal and carved to look like humans. The statues hands appeared to be clasped together in front of them, although Steven wasn’t sure about the significance of the gesture.

Squaridot walked over to the door and ran a finger over it, opening the door without being prompted. Behind him, Steven was pretty sure Pearl had tensed. “I’m afraid I will need to close the door after you enter, Steven." She looked nervous as she admitted this, as if Steven would find fault with her words.

That didn’t matter though, because Lars was in there and Steven needed to get to him.

He moved to enter the room, stopping next to Squaridot before he fully entered. “Hey, can you…” No, that was a request. Pearl had told him how to do this. “Peridot, I order you to stay here and open the door to let me out when I need to leave the Zoo.”

Squaridot blinked slowly, trying to understand something before she grinned. For a moment Steven was reminded of Holly Blue when Sapphire asked for a tour of the Zoo, smile wide in excitement like Squaridot couldn’t picture anything she would rather be doing. “I would be honored my Diam… Steven.”

Steven kept walking, unaware of the way Pearl glared at the Peridot before the door closed behind them.

Chapter Text

The grass tickled the back of Lars’ earlobes as he stared at the ‘sky’. It was a good duplication of the sky from Earth. Slowly, he moved his hand and held it up so it looked like he was trying to catch the sun, closing it slowly so his fist was blocking the light. If he ignored the lines over the sky, the lack of clouds, even the weight of the earring hanging from his ear, then he could pretend he was back on Earth.

Lars let his eyes drift closed as his head hit the pillow like ground. Peridot 7AF had insisted on interviewing him after their first meeting, often questioning him for a few hours before returning him from the Zoo with a dismissive wave of her hand. The mere memory of her asking about hormones made his head throb, he hadn’t studied this since school and now he was explaining it to an alien!

He groaned quietly, enjoying the small amount of time he had to himself. It was rare, but when Lars got it he took full advantage of it.

“Lars?”

Lars moved so he was sitting up, his hair falling to cover his eyes as he turned to J10. He had no way of keeping track of time in the Zoo, but his hair had grown longer now that he was no longer shaving off the sides like he had on Earth. It had led to an uneven mop of hair were the sides were now covered in short hair and the middle was long enough that Lars had started to ask the Peridot for something sharp just to cut it off. He was fairly sure 7AF was refusing his requests because she found it amusing.

Lars quickly used his hand to brush the odd mohawk back so it was out of his eyes. The woman was beautiful, with long blonde hair and light green eyes. Lars looked down at her stomach which was now growing large, thinking of the baby growing inside of her. He was partially certain it was Y6’s, but he wasn’t sure. When he’d asked, Y6 admitted he wasn’t sure either. But the woman was clearly pregnant. Even with the fact she was slowing down, unable to roll down the hills that she had loved, she was still insanely cheerful, always smiling and trying to include Lars into the group of humans living inside the Zoo.

Under threat of dissection, Lars was integrating with everyone rather well.

“How are you?” J10 was all smiles as she moved over to sit next to Lars, putting her hand on his with childish innocence that ignored his flinch. He had never liked casual touch, and that had only gotten worse since he had arrived. The touches were casual, with no ulterior motive, but they were always there and since the choosening they made him feel… it didn’t matter.

None of it mattered. He hadn’t been called to the circle since...

It didn’t matter.

“I’m great!” Lars forced a chipper grin, hating how it felt on his face. The smile almost hurt with how big it was, the mask becoming slightly more brittle when he heard J10 giggle. But the memory of the green woman showing him the picture of the dissected brain kept the smile on his face. Anything was better then being dead, Lars reminded himself. He was fed, warm and no one was hurting him. This could be worse.

It could be much worse.

It was easy to lean into J10 for comfort, allowing his shoulder to brush up against hers. It was easy to lose yourself in the repetitive routine that came over the earrings everyday with no change, not thinking as your brain stagnated with nothing to do. Just like how it was easy to give in to the urge to fall asleep at random times of the day or to lose focus of what was happening around you.

Lars knew that soon he would give in. Just stop thinking about his situation and just… exist. One day he would forget his parents faces. He’d forget about Sadie. Earth was so far away, a long distant dream that was starting to slip from his fingers like water.

“Lars?”

He was still smiling, but his cheeks were wet. He could still feel the smile pulling on his lips as he forced himself to be like they wanted. He was ok, he had to be ok because not being ok wasn’t allowed.

“Sorry.” Lars wiped his face and J10 returned to smiling, happy the problem was now gone. “The sky is beautiful today.” He added when J10 waited expectantly for him to say something. It was always beautiful, a perfect shade of blue and a bright sun which didn’t hurt to look at. Never a cloud in the sky. No rain, or snow or fog. Just a bright day every day.

Everything was always perfect.

J10 smiled at the sky, moving to rest a hand on her stomach without thinking. The bump was small, but in the revealing outfits it was more obvious. Like Lars, J10 was often taken out of the Zoo to meet the Peridots. Unlike Lars however, who they were taking to 7AF to question, J10 was being taken for medical checks. Although according to the other humans, the whole thing about them taking humans out of the Zoo was new. Something about J10’s pregnancy had the Peridots nervous enough to keep a closer eye on her and the humans had definitely noticed, even if they were treating it as mild gossip.

While the aliens were hopeless in regards to most human biology, they had had thousands of years to study pregnant humans to ensure healthy babies and check for defectiveness. It was creepy how open 7AF was about the Zoo practicing eugenics when questioned. He didn’t ask any more questions about what they were doing to J10, much to 7AF’s disappointment. She liked to talk about her work. A lot, to the point that Lars was a bit of a captive audience for her and her slide shows.

One session had literally been the two of them having a conversation. The gem was… weird, even if she didn’t hide the fact that there was a motive behind her actions. She clearly still considered Lars a lesser being.

“We should go now, soon it’ll be time for food.” Quietly, Lars pulled himself up before moving to help J10. The woman stumbled, blinking at the rush of dizziness that came with standing now, before they began the slow walk to the rest of the group. The group had banded together to look after J10, one of the older women had become a type of mentor so the rest of the group knew how to care for the baby. S17 was the oldest of the group and had had at least one other child, although she was unsure who in the group it was. There was no family structure in the Zoo, Lars had been surprised they even knew what pregnancy was.

A baby.

Lars’ smile fell at the thought of raising a child in this hell. It would be like everyone else here, unaware of the joy of life. Just existing, living like a pet for a Diamond. And Lars would be there to watch, knowing that there was a better life elsewhere.

“You ok J10?” He asked, looking at her. She was limping slightly, causing the slower walk.

J10 nodded, still walking slowly. She often tried to appear unbothered by her swollen ankles, not wanting to draw attention to her pain. When her pregnancy was far enough along, there would be an Amethyst with her at all times until the baby was born. Then the child would be taken away for a few weeks and returned if it was functional.

Functional. They used that word a lot, especially in regards to pregnancy and babies.

Like how Lars was currently ‘functional’ now that he was playing along. He didn’t feel it.

“I am fine, Lars. My ankles… hurts.” She admitted, her smile falling for a few seconds before it returned. They must hurt more then normal today if she was willing to admit it. Or maybe S17 had convinced her it was normal and to just admit when she was in pain.

Lars moved closer in case she needed some extra support, and was rewarded with a grateful smile. He still couldn’t smile properly, but J10 remained convinced by the terrible fake smile that Lars forced. She expected him to be happy and just believed him when he said he was.

She was like a child. That thought was part of what made it so hard to hate her. The other humans were essentially children.

Lars led J10 back to the rest of the group who immediately descended on her with hugs and joy. This left Lars in the background, unnoticed. He was happy with that, it gave him a few moments were no one touched him.

“Lars! You’re ok!” Arms wrapped around his waist and Lars was unable to stop himself from jumping out of his skin at the sudden touch. “I’m so, so sorry!” The person talking sounded… sad. Like he was ready to cry.

Lars turned and gasped at the sight of pink eyes looking up at him tearfully. The diamond pupils looked horrifying up close, something in Lars’ mind screaming that’s not natural as his eyes met them. Lars stepped back slowly, the arms falling away as Lars stared.

Steven was stood in front of him in a pink suit and white sandals. His eyes still looked like something from Lars’ guilt filled nightmares, the ones where he woke with screams ringing in his ears and blood dripping from large blue hands that dwarfed Lars and Steven. On Steven’s stomach the suit had a hole in the shape of a star, showing a bright pink gem where his belly button should be.

But it was Steven and as soon as Lars’ observations were complete he lunged forward with a loud cry, his arms enveloping the small boy in a tight hug. Steven hugged him back, starting to cry as they were reunited.

The tears made Lars jolt in horror, moving to place his hands over Steven’s mouth in an attempt to stop the noise. “They’ll hear you.” Lars whispered sharply. What if they took Steven away?! Lars would never see him agai…

A blue hand was around his wrist the second after Lars had given his warning, the delicate hand holding tight enough that it was clear she could break bones if she wanted to. Lars pulled away, turning to see a thin gem looking at him. She looked tall and thin but also incredibly delicate, with pale blue skin and a pale stone on her chest. Her hair was covering her face, hiding her expression from sight.

“Do not touch my Diamond.” The blue woman spoke quietly, almost in a hushed whisper that Lars struggled to hear over his pounding heart. Then she stepped back, bowing low to Steven. “My apologies, my Diamond.”

Steven looked horrified, eyes wide as he stared at her. “Pearl, you can’t just… hurt my friends!” The woman, Pearl (wasn’t there a woman called Pearl on Earth?) bowed lower and didn’t say a word. Steven turned to Lars again, he still looked like Steven but something felt off about it. Lars couldn’t work out what was putting him on edge as Steven looked at him. Maybe it was the look of worry, which seemed far more frantic then need be? “Are you ok Lars? She’s never done that before!”

“Lars?”

The humans from the Zoo were gathered nearby, looking at the pair. The looks were a mix of curiosity and worry as they noticed the gems in their presence with him. Lars smiled brightly, moving to gesture at Steven. “Everyone, this is Steven. My friend.” He introduced. Behind him Steven made a face of confusion, which only got worse when Lars turned back to him. The smile was strained, not matching Lars at all, but Lars couldn’t risk upsetting the Peridots.

The gem’s words were running through Lars’ head as he looked at Steven. Diamond. She had called Steven that, which meant Steven owned the Zoo. Something was stopping the hysteria in his head, creating an odd calm which was encompassing him. It was like his world had slowed as he looked at his friend, his mind struggling to fully understand what he was seeing.

On autopilot he kept smiling, willing himself not to scream.

“Maybe you could join us for food?” Lars invited, voice strained as he kept smiling.

Steven accepted the offer uncertainly and the Pearl remained in the background, easily blending into the background as everyone talked. Lars could work out how such a pretty gem managed that when his world didn’t feel like it was collapsing around him.

Steven was here, right in front of him.

Steven was a Diamond.

Chapter Text

Lars bit the fruit slowly, chewing as he stared at Steven blankly. Lars looked different from what Steven remembered, sadder. His eyes looked bleak as they ran over Steven like he was observing him. His hair was the biggest change, it had grown so the middle hung over Lars’ face unless he tucked it behind his ear. Steven waited nervously for Lars to say something, but Lars just took another bite. The teenager’s eyes slowly looked at Pearl who was knelt near the small Diamond’s side and his eyes darted back to Steven. The juice slowly dripped from his mouth as he chewed, not that Lars noticed.

Steven still didn’t say anything, Lars looked like he was in shock and Steven wanted to give him a chance to think about what he was looking at. Steven hadn’t thought of it before he’d come here, but the last time Lars had seen him Steven had died. Steven had been killed by

hands tightening around him, Steven unable to stop them as he struggles

Well, Steven had died. And now he was sat in front of him, hands tightly clutching a fruit that Steven still hadn’t eaten. The giving of the fruit had been mechanical though, Steven was pretty sure Lars didn’t actually expect him to eat it.

But he wanted to. He wanted to eat it so much, because he still remembered what it felt like to eat food and how the taste would burst in his mouth, overwhelming his taste buds. Waffles with cream, covered in bacon and strawberries. How the strawberries burst so sweet juice covered his tongue and teeth as he chewed. It was that memory that had Steven raising the fruit to his lips before he stopped. He still didn’t know how to shapeshift a digestive system like Amethyst. He wouldn’t be able to swallow.

After a small moment of hesitation, Steven bit the fruit. He could feel the flesh and juice in his mouth as he chewed, but the sensations were dulled beyond anything Steven had ever felt before. He couldn’t taste if it was sweet or sour, only feel the rhythmic squishing as the fruit was squashed by his teeth. Steven didn’t try to swallow, instead he spat the fruit out onto the floor to Pearl’s clear disgust. She was unable to hide her full body shudder and Steven was left feeling more alien than ever.

“You can’t eat, can you?” Lars muttered, looking at Steven over the fruit thoughtfully. “Your body isn’t…” Lars stopped talking, eying Steven’s fruit. It was still whole and pink, only now it had a small bite on it leaking sticky juice that Steven hadn’t noticed. “What happened? You… And then…” Lars waved his free hand at Steven, a motion that said everything Lars couldn’t.

“Pearl, I need to talk to Lars alone.” Lars seemed to balk at the bluntness of Steven’s order, instead of looking offended however Pearl gracefully stood and bowed, leaving quietly. After a few moments Steven put the fruit on the ground and sighed. “My mom wasn’t Rose Quartz, she was Pink Diamond.”

Oddly, Lars didn’t seem completely confused by the name. He just looked worried as Steven found himself wanting to… do something. Cry, yell, punch a wall. Steven wanted to do something to get rid of the awful feelings trapped inside of him.

“…How’re you holding up?”

“…I don’t know.” It was like someone was finally listening to him, but the realization he could talk made him feel awful. Steven had never been good with discussing his problems with other people, it had never felt right. “I keep learning things about her and I realized, I never knew her. No one did. I… Everyone thinks I’m her, but I’m not! But now everyone’s looking up to me and I have this… this coding inside me and… and I’m scared. What if I hurt someone? Or… or I scare everyone? What if they stop looking at me as Steven and instead as…” He couldn’t finish the statement.

When Steven stopped talking Lars sighed, he finished his fruit almost absentmindedly. Lars chewed the fruit and its stalk before he pulled his legs closer to his chest. “When I got here, everything was scary. I thought… I thought I was going to die. Everyone just expected me to be happy I was here, the gems thought I should be happy to be serving a Diamond and the other humans…”

Lars turned to look at the pack of humans talking in the distance, the group kept shooting glances at Steven when they thought he and Lars weren’t looking. Lars kept watching them, at J10 and S17 as they talked quietly. F3 noticed Lars watching him and waved shyly. Lars forced a smile and waved back.

“They can’t imagine being unhappy here, they tried to make me happy. And the gems… they thought I was defective.”

Steven felt a rush of ugly emotions run through him like a wave, protectiveness and worry clear on his face as his eyes widened. His mind flashed to the Off Colors and how Homeworld treated them because they were defective. Lars ran a hand through his hair with a sigh. He sounded sad as he talked, like everything that had happened had dulled him. It was horrible to say, but Steven wouldn’t be surprised if it had. Being here for a day had been awful, like being trapped in a cage. Even with his dad being present, it had been one of the most boring days in memory (aside from being locked in the room with Pearl, that had also been really boring). Lars had been here for months.

“At first it wasn’t bad. The Amethysts insisted on trying to make me talk about my ‘feelings’ and insisted on trying to hug the sadness away, but when that didn’t work I was taken to…” Lars’s eyes widened in realization, hands flying up to his earrings. “They can hear us.” He whispered in horror. “Oh god, she is listening in.”

Steven’s face hardened. They had hurt Lars, enough to make him scared. He wasn’t sure who ‘she’ was, but she would never be allowed to harm Lars again. Steven would protect him, he would guide him to freedom. Lars would return to the Earth, to the other gems and would be free.

Steven just wished he could do the same for the other humans, but he had to focus on freeing Lars. For now, it was for the best.

“Take them off.” He held out his hand for the purple rocklike earrings that hung from the sides of Lars’ ears. When Lars’ paled, Steven leant forward. “If she is loyal, then she’ll listen to me and won’t hurt you. Give me the earrings.” Lars stared at the offered hand before nodding.

Lars unpinned his earrings and dropped them into Steven’s waiting hand, unable to hide his fear. The earrings were small and heavy, just like Steven remembered. This time, instead of putting them somewhere safely Steven crushed the little rocks in his hand. He clenched his fist and used his other hand to push, to make sure the rocks were fully destroyed.

The feeling of the rocks being shattered into dust in his palm calmed the feeling of protectiveness in Steven. She, whoever she was, was no longer listening. Lars didn't need to be scared anymore. His bright pink eyes met Lars’ as Steven smiled serenely.

“I’ll protect you Lars. I’m going to get you back to Earth.” Steven promised. He opened his fist and watched the chunks of rock drop to the ground, the purple shards glittering in the light of the false sun as they hit the ground. She was no longer listening to them, although she was still watching them. He remembered the cameras watching the humans, the Peridots were probably already aware Steven had broken Lars’ earrings. How would they react, Steven wondered to himself. But then he looked at Lars and it didn’t matter how they reacted. “You’ll be safe there.”

He couldn’t understand why Lars whimpered in fear as he spoke, the human moving to back away slowly from him. Steven was trying to protect him; couldn’t he see that? Steven was a Diamond, that was his duty. And in return Lars would…

His mind froze, because what could Lars do? What role would he have? Steven should know this, something in Steven's mind kept pushing him, but the knowledge wasn’t there. It was like chunks of what he should know were missing. Holes had been poked into his memories and knowledge, the gaps suddenly oh so clear as Steven tried to find what was missing and failed.

“I don’t…” Steven muttered as he thought harder. He knew this, he had to. “I can’t…”

He couldn’t think. He couldn’t focus. It was slipping through his fingers like sand.

He knew this. But he didn’t, because Lars was a human. Humans didn’t have a purpose.

Steven knew that.

“Steven?”

Reality snapped into place and Steven realized that Lars was a little further away from him then before, cowering near a tree and prepared to run if he needed to. What had Steven been doing? Had Lars always been so pale? Lars was watching him like Steven was going to snap at any moment and it took a few moments to realize why.

Like in the throne room with Holly Blue, his thoughts came back to him like a bucket of water had been thrown at him. It was like a shock to the system, the knowledge stabbing him through his gem.

He had scared Lars.

“I… I’m sorry.” Steven muttered, eyes wide as he tried to think. Why did this keep happening? The thoughts were jumbled, the holes still there and making it so much harder to focus. Now he knew about them, he could feel them in the back of his mind. “I’m sorry.” He repeated, suddenly feeling lost again.

He’d scared Lars. He’d promised to protect him, and then had scared him. Steven placed his head into his hands, shaking. He couldn’t even rescue Lars right.

Even as a Diamond, he was a failure.

Lars rubbed his head with a loud sigh. Steven watched as a look of guilt crossed Lars' face as he looked at Steven. Lars seemed to think before standing and taking a step forward. The orange curls had fallen over Lars' face again, but he didn't seem to notice as he approached Steven. “I left you once, I’m not leaving you again.” Lars held out his hand to the boy. This time, the smile seemed genuine as he looked at Steven. It was warm and friendly, it was something Steven had sorely needed. It wasn't worshipful or devoted. Lars honestly cared.

“I meant what I said. I’m going to get you home.” Steven promised. For some reason the coding had decided that Lars needed to be protected, and Steven wasn’t sure why. He wasn’t sure of a lot of things anymore. But as he looked up at Lars, he knew that he would get his friend out of this horrible place.

Lars would see his friends and family again.

Even if Steven couldn't.

And with that thought, Steven took the offered hand. Everything would be ok now.

Chapter Text

Lars looked at the hand holding his and found himself smiling as Steven looked up at him, eyes bright. Hope. He hadn’t felt this in so long, as the thought that he could one day see his family again crossed his mind Lars realized his eyes were watering.

And he wasn’t trying to stop it.

He tightened his grip on Steven’s hand and tried not to feel what had happened to his friend. Steven’s skin felt smooth and cold under Lars’ warm flesh and for a moment Lars thought of metal. It was more disconcerting then the sight of Steven in a pink suit with a star showing his bellybutton gem. Lars had known he had it, but Steven had never really shown it off.

Curiously, Lars ran a thumb over the sleeve of Steven’s coat, feeling the same smoothness as he had when touching Steven’s hand. The outfit was a part of Steven and for a second Lars’ joy was replaced with nausea. Steven’s entire body had changed. Lars had known that, he had watched Steven as he’d… emerged from the stone in his belly but that wasn’t the same as seeing it.

Feeling it.

Steven just stood and watched as Lars ran his finger over his coat gently. The small boy’s smile had dropped when he realized what Lars was doing, but he didn’t complain or try to pull back. If they were both honest, they didn’t have the time they needed to talk about what had happened. Lars hadn’t spoken about the choosening and how he had been… paired off with other girls in the group of humans. And Steven wasn’t talking about what had happened to him after being taken by the large ladies in the court room.

They probably needed to talk.

They needed to do a lot of things, but Lars merely ran his finger over the rock like smoothness of Steven’s skin and clothes one more time before letting go. “We need to go.”

Before he left he wanted to say goodbye to the other humans in the Zoo, even if he knew that 7AF was probably listening to every word he said. He didn’t want to disappear without a word. If he was honest, he didn’t want to leave anyone behind. If Lars thought there was a safe way to take them all with him he’d do it. He’d grab them all and drag them to a ship himself if he had to. Even as he thought that though, he remembered his classes in school, especially the one about the immune system.

The humans in the Zoo would die on Earth, they could die from something as simple as the flu. Even if that wasn’t the case, the humans didn’t want to leave and Lars couldn’t make them. He didn’t want to think about how the stress would affect J10 and the baby if he tried to make her leave.

It hurt, but Lars had to leave them. He had to go home and see his family again. He had to see the Earth and his friends and feel the wind and the rain on his skin. He had to leave this illusion of perfection that had trapped him for so long. He apologized to himself as he and Steven started to leave.

He couldn’t bring himself to say goodbye. He could make excuses about why but honestly, he was scared that if he went to them and said goodbye, that he wouldn’t want to leave. He was also worried about how they would react.

Him leaving would make them sad, but would they be able to cope with the knowledge Lars was leaving? Would they let him?

Something told Lars that no, they wouldn’t let him leave. They were like children in their innocence, they would try to keep him. In their minds they would probably think they were protecting him from being hurt. And that wasn’t including the fact that 7AF would probably be listening in and would try to stop them.

Leaving wasn’t a hard choice to make, Lars wanted out as soon as possible. Part of him kept thinking that this was all a dream and that he would wake up on a bush. It had happened before, but never with Steven looking like… this. It wasn’t like Lars had much to lose either, he was miserable here.

Lars couldn’t bring himself to be surprised when the blue lady, Pearl, reappeared next to them as if out of nowhere, wearing a mild smile. She started walking behind Steven without a word, never trying to catch up with Steven. Steven wasn’t surprised by her sudden appearance either, which meant she’d probably done this before. Lars still wasn’t sure how she could blend into the background so easily, you’d think being blue would make her slightly more easily noticed.

“Nice to meet you.” Lars said awkwardly to the scary lady with the ability to snap his wrist like a twig. You wouldn’t know how strong such a frail looking gem like her was unless you actually felt her grip. The movement to look at her made Lars’ long hair fell over his face again and in a moment of frustration Lars blew at it sharply. Oddly enough, the hair just fell over his face again. “Hey Steven, do you have a knife or something? My hair’s being a pain.”

“No, sorry.” Steven really did seem sorry, which just made Lars feel slightly annoyed. Steven wasn’t doing anything wrong, so why apologize? Suddenly, Steven thought of something. His eyes widened in excitement at whatever his idea was. “Pearl? You could summon your weapon and cut Lars’ hair for him!” Steven asked. The almost order was paired with a hopeful smile, Steven’s eyes growing in excitement as he turned to look at her.

Pearl had frozen mid-step at his words, her hair hiding what was probably a very clear look of shock. She quickly straightened herself as if nothing had happened. “M… My weapon. Of course, my Diamond.” She bowed, crossing her hands over her chest in the shape of a diamond.

Lars found himself watching as Pearl moved to place her hands around her gem as it glowed brightly, moving to grasp the weapon that appeared in front of it in a burst of white light. He squinted at the burst of light from the pearl on her chest, the suddenness of it making it impossible for Lars to protect his eyes. He blinked rapidly, trying to stop the pain.

Steven gasped loudly in delight and when the spots finally cleared from Lars’ eyes he realized why. Pearl now held a large bladed weapon tightly in her hands. It had a dark blue pole which ended in a rocklike spike and the top of it was a large blade. It was surprisingly simple in design and really big, the pole itself was as long as she was tall.

“…You want to cut my hair with that?” Lars asked shrilly. It wasn’t that he was trying to be ungrateful, he just didn’t like the idea of a guan dao being anywhere near his head. Something about the idea just seemed terrifying. The oddly shiny metal seemed horrifyingly sharp as the light of the sun shone off of it.

Pearl seemed just as happy with the idea as Lars, although she seems more concerned about the fact that she had been asked to summon the guan dao to begin with, which was weird. Why have the weapon if you couldn’t use it?

But, beggars can’t be choosers and Lars really needed his hair cut off. He grabbed the long curly fringe and held it out, flinching as Pearl gently maneuvered the guan dao to chop it off at Steven’s behest. From the edge of his eyes, he could see the way Steven was watching as the metal (which now he was looking closer didn’t seem like metal at all) sliced through the hair like butter, leaving Lars with an uneven but thankfully short amount of hair curling off the top of his head.

“Thanks, that was annoying.” Pearl’s smile was cool as she looked at Lars, but she nodded in response to Lars’ thanks.

Gems are weird, but Lars already knew that.

Pearl…” Steven gasped loudly, missing Lars talking. It was like his pupils had doubled in size in his enthusiasm as he stared at the guan dao, the way he was looking at it was clearly making Pearl nervous. Lars found himself rolling his eyes as Steven was distracted by Pearl’s weapon, but the movement was fond. He’d missed the excitement that came with being around Steven. You know, when it wasn’t something like the ocean getting stolen.

Or Lars himself being stolen by huge gems who grabbed him off the street. Speaking of which…

“Steven, what is the plan?”

Please oh please, don’t be ‘ask nicely’.

“Well, I was thinking that I would order Holly Blue to let you take a ship to Earth. I mean, I’m a Diamond so she should listen to me.”

…That was an awful idea. Terrible. Lars’ discouragement at the god-awful idea was helped along by the fact that Pearl looked more and more tense the more she listened to them. She was one gem who almost never seemed bothered by anything that was happening around her and she was taking the idea pretty badly. Had Steven even told her what they were there for?

“You wish for the human to be freed, my Diamond?” Pearl asked quietly. She made her weapon disappear in a bright burst of light, leaving herself empty handed.

“Oh right, I forgot to tell you.” Lars recognized that facial expression, it was the ‘I’m completely innocent’ look that Steven liked to use when he knew he was in trouble. It was the look Steven wore when he knew one of his schemes was about to backfire on him. Pearl seemed to be buying it completely, appearing to relax as Steven carried on talking. “I’m going to make Holly Blue Agate return Lars to Earth. Since I’m a Diamond, she’ll have to send him back for me.”

Pearl smiled at that final sentence. “I see.” Lars had no idea what was going on between the two of them and thus kept quiet. His experience with gems on the Zoo literally boiled down to the Amethysts and 7AF, so he had no idea if the look on Pearl’s face was normal as Steven talked. Was the look of utter devotion normal? Had Steven noticed how devoted Pearl was to him?

Why was Pearl so happy at Steven calling himself a Diamond?

Chapter Text

Things were finally going to work out for them, Steven knew it. It was a thought that had a spring in his step and a smile on his lips as he walked. Lars was with him which just made everything feel better, because for this short amount of time he wasn't alone. Lars understood that Steven didn't want to be here. They could do this. The Zoo was just like he remembered, with trees all around in perfect bloom and a bright blue sky without a cloud in the sky. Nothing had changed.

Steven’s smile fell for a few moments as he started to think.

Lars had been trapped here for months. The single day Steven had spent here had been like torture, a boring routine that never seemed to end and they were expected to repeat over and over again. A routine of smelling flowers, swimming and rolling down hills like they weren’t trapped on a spaceship so far away from Earth. But Lars would be ok now, because they were finally escaping.

Behind him, he could hear Pearl walking steadily. He couldn’t believe he’d finally seen Pearl’s weapon. He wasn’t sure what it was called though, would Lars know? Perhaps Steven could ask him at some point. He had so many questions to ask. So much to tell him. He found his mind stuck on one question now they were walking out, who was ‘her’? It had to be someone bad, because why else would Lars be scared?

But gems didn’t enter the Zoo. J10 had told him that when he had been brought here by the Crystal Gems to rescue his Dad. The humans who had been trapped in the Zoo hadn’t even know what a door was, insisting it was a wall. But they’d known what a gem was, so gems must have come in at some point for the humans to be able to know about them.

Steven turned to glance at Lars. Now that they were making their way out, Lars appeared to have hunched over in an attempt to make himself smaller. The thin teenager had curled his arms around his body in an attempt to hide how nervous he was. He looked like a mess, his hair curling haphazardly around the top of his head as it once again defied gravity and his eyes darting around him in fear of being caught. Sometimes Lars would mutter, although Steven wasn’t sure if he was meant to be able to hear what was being said or if Lars was just trying to comfort himself.

“Hey Pearl, what’s your weapon called?” Steven asked Pearl. Perhaps if they talked to each other Lars would feel better? Lars looked up as Pearl considered the question for a few moments.

“It’s a guan dao.” Lars muttered before Pearl could answer. He was still trying to make himself smaller in case anyone saw their escape attempt. When he realized Pearl turned to look at him in confusion and Lars's grip tightened on his arms. His eyes narrowed at her defensively. “I liked an anime where one of the characters used one.” Pearl tilted her head towards him and kept walking like she hadn’t noticed how Lars was acting. “Steven, who is she?” He didn’t try to keep his voice down in an act of politeness.

It took a few moments for Steven to understand why Lars would need to ask that, long enough for Pearl to reply “I am my Diamond’s Pearl.” In a quiet voice that sounded almost offended by the question. You had to be paying attention to the tone of her voice to notice that though, because Pearls didn’t get offended. They were helpful and pretty and had better things to do then become offended. This is how Steven managed to miss that Lars had managed to upset Pearl. Instead he tried to be excited at introducing the two to each other, because he’d waited to find Lars for so long.

“Ooh, right! I never introduced you!” How could Steven have been so thoughtless? He hadn’t introduced Pearl, he hadn’t even given her a thought except for when he sent her away. He stopped and turned to both of them, smiling brightly at the two who had been forced to stop for him. “Pearl, this is Lars. My friend. Don’t hurt him.” Steven added as an afterthought. “Lars this is Pearl, my…” Slave? Sometimes she acted like a slave. “Servant.” Steven settled on, because even thinking of Pearl as a slave made him feel uncomfortable.

“Servant?! Why would you have a…? Oh. Oh…” Lars trailed off as he looked at Pearl, finally appearing to understand something.

Pearl continued to look at Lars as if waiting for him to say something about her serving her Diamond, not liking the way Lars’ had worded his surprise. Of course she served her Diamond, she was a Pearl. She took great pride in her work and would never dream of doing anything else.

To Lars, it was surprising to hear that Steven was allowed a large amount of freedom, to the point of being given a servant to work for him. After all, who would give a prisoner a servant? Lars had been working on the assumption that Pearl was there to keep track of Steven.

“Well, technically she’s Blue’s Pearl and she was leant to me. I think.” Steven couldn’t help how his voice became a bit uncertain as he said those final words. Had she actually been leant to him? Lately Pearl was following him because he asked her to, but Blue hadn’t stopped her yet and Yellow had leant him her Pearl as well so Pearl being leant out was probably a good way to word it.

Even if it made her sound like property.

“I was assigned to assist my Diamond in any way she wished.”

“On Homeworld, Pearls are servants. They help out with paperwork and… and carrying things?” Steven was pretty sure Peridot had said they carried things back on Earth, not that Pearl had ever needed to carry something for him.

“Like how all the Peridots on the Zoo worked in the lab?” Steven nodded as Lars thought quietly before nodding. “And Amethysts are… care takers?”

“Actually, they’re soldiers.”

At some point during the conversation they all started walking again. It was easy to talk as they walked, Lars listening as Steven talked about some of the things that had happened to him on Homeworld. He talked a lot about how beautiful it was, because his time on Homeworld had been pretty awful if he was honest and he didn’t want to worry Lars too much about leaving Steven behind. Steven didn’t mention the Black Court or the Off Colors, unwilling to put them in danger. Pearl listened to them talk with a faint air of confusion that showed she wasn’t sure what they were talking about.

When they finally reached the door out of the Zoo, Pearl sped up her pace so she was able to walk past Steven so she could activate the panel to open the door. She moved a leaf which was blocking the lower half of the wall near the door. As she placed her hand on a part of the wall that appeared no different from any other parts of the wall, the action made the panel that must control door appear in a flash of light. Pearl didn’t pause, swiping her finger over the display in a complicated pattern.

Pearl opened the door and stepped through it so she could bow as Steven walked out. Her bow was deep as Steven and Lars stepped through the door after her, Steven glaring at the inside keypad as he walked past it as if it had somehow wronged him. He hadn’t noticed it when he’d been trapped here and part of him knew it would have been useless even if he had noticed it. Although it was irrational, it annoyed him that he and his Dad could have left the Zoo earlier if they’d found it before. Although he also knew he would never have been able to open it himself, not even Pearl (his Pearl) had managed it.

Lars paled as soon as he left the door, eyes resting on the two Peridots on the other side. One was the one Steven had left to open the door for him, Squaridot saluted at the sight of Steven leaving the Zoo, and the other was the one Steven had seen talking to Holly Blue. Steven stared at her hexagon shaped hair, part of him in awe of how it was shaped.

Something about the appearance of the second Peridot (who Steven decided to nickname Hexidot, because thinking about multiple gems with the same name got really confusing after a while) made Lars take a step back, only narrowly avoiding the doors to the Zoo shutting on him. Instead his back made contact with solid metal which made him shiver.

“My Diamond.” Hexidot saluted, her voice cold as she spoke. “Peridot 1L9C Cut 7AF, reporting for duty.”

…Yeah, Steven was going to keep calling her Hexidot inside his head. It seemed easier to remember, especially since Squaridot hadn’t introduced herself to him in her eagerness to obey. Hexidot’s eyes moved to look at Lars slowly, still cowering at the door.

“My Diamond, I’m afraid one of the specimens appears to have followed you out of containment area. Should I return it?” Her question made Lars whimper loudly. He knew Steven would refuse, but the Peridot was different from the other gems in the Zoo. What if she decided not to listen to Steven?

It was weird, but the business-like tone of her voice made talking to her seem a lot more likable to Steven. She wasn’t trying to suck up to him, she sounded like she was doing her job. Steven could respect that, especially after the programming which had thankfully not killed someone yet. This did not stop the feeling of possessiveness that suddenly appeared inside him once again, wanting to protect Lars from the odd gem who had scared him. He didn’t care if Hexidot had been doing her job, if she made a single move to take Lars…

Steven would fight her.

“No. He’s staying with me.” His voice brokered no argument and as he spoke he could feel the urge to summon his shield. He had to protect Lars, no matter what. Hexidot nodded at his proclamation and dropped her salute, summoning a screen to float in front of her.

“Yes, my Diamond. Did you wish for a report about the Zoo and our recent projects?” As she asked she opened a few files on screen, swiping through the data on screen without looking away from Steven. As a Peridot who had worked in the Zoo for thousands of years, it was simple to look for the necessary files and prepare to send them as she waited for the confirmation she was certain was coming. Pink Diamond may not have understood her reports, but she had always demanded them when she visited before the war. “I can have one ready within a few rotations to send to…” She eyed Pearl. “Your Pearl.” She finished, her tone uncertain.

Steven liked that, his Pearl. It sounded right, like everything was in perfect order. Everything in its place.

He shook his head clear of the webs that clung to his brain and looked at the Peridots with clear eyes. “Oh, a report.” Would they be suspicious if he said no? But if he got it he wouldn’t be able to read it.

“I will send it to you within the next few cycles.” Hexidot saluted again, taking the simple phrase as the answer she expected.

…He’d work it out. Steven certainly had the time to do so.

“Well, that will be all.” Steven dismissed. Lars blinked as he watched the Peridot’s prepare to leave, still huddled next to the wall. The terror began to fall into anger as he pushed himself up, standing in shaking legs.

“That’s it?” He muttered. “You’re just going to… let her leave? Do you know what she was doing?! What she threatened?! She was going to dissect me, Steven!” Lars’ voice broke as Hexidot turned to look at him emotionlessly.

“Human Lars, you will refer to your Diamond with the respect she deserves.”

Steven didn’t hear Lars’ reply or Pearl as she whispered in his ear, once again giving him advice. He could only hear what Lars had said. Hexidot had threatened to kill Lars? And she wasn’t denying it. That was the bit that kept bothering Steven. Hexidot wasn’t denying what Lars had said, she would be denying it if she was innocent right?

Whatever Hexidot had been saying was cut off as a shield slammed into her with an unforeseeable act of strength, destroying her form and causing her gem to fall to the floor. Steven was now stood where she had been, panting heavily with his shield in hand and static buzzing angrily in his mind. His eyes were wide with rage.

She had threatened to hurt Lars.

And Steven had almost let her go.

Steven pulled back the shield and prepared to slam it on the helpless gem. He didn’t need a gem like her watching his humans, so cold and heartless that she would see nothing wrong with killing them. He was better without her in his court.

He could do it, he knew the exact strength he needed to use to destroy the gem. To turn it into dust on the ground, harmless to all around it. No one around him was trying to stop him. Lars’ anger had disappeared, now watching in horror as his friend contemplated murder. Pearl watched with an aura of calmness, not showing how she felt about this. And Squaridot, while horrified, had forced herself not to interfere with the Diamond's wishes.

If it was a Diamond’s wish that you were shattered, then that was what happened.

Steven pulled back the shield and forced himself to look at the green gem, lying defenseless on the floor. Did he want to do this? Could he do this?

Could he discard one of his gems like it was nothing?

He wasn’t sure and it was that thought that had his hand shaking as he aimed.

Chapter Text

The air was tense as everyone watched. Even a human like Lars could sense the sheer aura of power coming off of Steven. The small Diamond almost appeared mad as he thought, his eyes intense. From where he stood, Lars appeared to be struggling to breath. The urge to yell and stop his friend from bringing down the shield was only prevented by the fact that Lars wasn’t actually sure Steven would listen. What would he do if Steven ignored his yell? If Lars tried to stop him, and Steven still brought down the shield? In Lars’ mind, it was a very valid worry. After all, if Steven had been in his right mind, he would never consider shattering a gem.

But then, he had never really seen Steven fight when his friends were in danger. Lars had seen Steven sacrifice himself for his friends, handing himself over to a powerful enemy knowing that doing so would render his life forfeit. But he had never seen Steven look at someone like this, like he was considering something awful.

However, Steven didn’t notice any of this. He was too focused on what he was doing. If he had noticed the terror in Lars’ eyes or how close the human was to a panic attack, maybe he would have lowered the shield. Maybe he would have apologized for what he was doing, and tried to reassure him that everything would be ok.

Instead Steven stared at the gem in front of him. Green and triangular, the gemstone looked so innocent on the floor. You would never know that the gem housed inside it was someone who would threaten his humans, his friends. Around him, everyone watched in anticipation. Would he shatter the Peridot for her actions? Would he show her mercy? Steven knew what he should do, the only way he could guarantee she never hurt anyone again. It would be so easy.

Steven’s hand couldn’t stop shaking, the movement so intense that the shield was visibly wobbling.
It felt wrong to even contemplate shattering her. Steven wasn’t a killer, and that was something not even the coding could change.

He lowered the shield slowly, pink eyes still locked onto the gem. He didn’t want to kill her. He didn’t want to be like the other Diamonds, just shattering any gem that angered him. However, while he didn’t want her shattered, he also didn’t want her anywhere near his humans. It was his duty to protect them, especially because it was his mom’s fault that they were here in the first place. She had taken them from earth and locked then away in this Zoo. They would never survive on Earth now, but Steven could ensure their happiness in the Zoo.

“Pearl.” Steven ordered. The delicate gem immediately walked over so she was stood next to him, hands twisted in the familiar diamond salute as she waited for the order. “Bubble the Peridot. I want her away from the humans.” Where could he send her? Or rather, where could Blue Diamond send her. Hexidot was a member of the Blue Court after all.

Squaridot watched nervously as Hexidot was bubbled and sent away by a flick of Pearl’s hand. If Steven had sent her away, would the gem have ended up in the temple on Earth in the burning room? Would it have ended up in Pink Diamond’s room? Steven wasn’t sure anymore.

The temple felt so distant lately, like a dream from long ago.

“What was that?!” The words from behind Steven sounded wrong, like they were being choked out through quick breaths that weren’t giving enough air. “You tried to kill her Steven! You tried to… Oh god… Oh god…” Like a marionette with its strings cut, Lars’ legs gave way, causing him to fall into a kneeling position.

Steven turned to look at Lars. He was pale, his shaking hands holding his head as he struggled to breath. The breaths were coming out too quickly, like the air he was getting just wasn’t enough. Lars wasn’t blinking, eyes unable to look away from where Hexidot had been lying.

“Human Lars, you need to breathe!” Squaridot moved quickly, taking long strides to reach Lars side and kneel next to him. “Remember what you told myself and Peridot 7AF, you need to take deep breaths. Deep breaths.” She repeated slowly, not moving to touch him. She merely held up her hands, preparing to catch him if he fell unconscious. “Human Lars, you were telling me about your planet last cycle. Remember? Maybe you can tell me more.” Squaridot made a noise of annoyance when this continued to fail. “Where’s an Amethyst when you need one… Human Lars?” Squaridot retried.

Steven finally reacted, running over to kneel next to him. “I’m sorry!” Steven cried, curling his arms around Lars. “I’m so sorry!” What are you meant to do when someone is having a panic attack? Steven couldn’t remember, had only ever experienced them. It was those memories, of his heart pounding in his chest as he worried that he was going to die, that meant he couldn’t leave Lars alone. And if all he could do to help was hug Lars, then that’s what he was going to do. In his arms, Lars tried to pull away before he stopped, leaning into the hug as his breathing finally started to slow. From this position Steven could see the way the way Lars’ eyes fluttered awkwardly, not focusing on anything anymore.

“My Diamond! My apologies, the human is… Well, we think h… it’s defective. I swear we can fix it however!” The quiet reassurances had been replaced with worry as the Peridot watched Steven tightly cling Lars, something that was inconceivable to anyone else.

Steven didn’t care about that though. He just wanted to help Lars.

“You’re ok Lars.” Steven whispered. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“…My Diamond?” Squaridot sounded so lost as she watched the scene in front of her.

If this was anything like Steven’s panic attacks, Lars wouldn’t be able to go to Earth on his own. Steven almost shuddered just thinking of how he felt after them, how it felt like the slightest wrong word would send him spiraling back into the hole in his mind that wanted to drown him until he could no longer breath, trapped in the thoughts of panic and death until everything merged into an awful reality.

How long had Steven been muttering without thinking? Just trying to reassure Lars over and over again, because he couldn’t think of anything else he could do to help. The words were a mindless jumble, repeated promises and reassurances that were meant to help Steven as well as Lars.

Because if he stopped talking, he’d have to acknowledge that he almost shattered a gem without thinking. He’d have to think about the weight of the shield in his hands as it aimed downwards, ready to shatter a gem who honestly hadn’t deserved it.

Chapter Text

Near the ceiling, the numerous Rose Quartzes floated harmlessly. The soft pink gems trapped inside light pink bubbles, as they had been for the past 6,000 years. Slowly one floated down, stopping to rest in Blue Diamond’s gentle hands. Quietly, the Diamond examined it through the translucent bubble and when satisfied she released it to float with the rest of its kind.

Yellow watched all of this with a long-suffering look, used to Blue’s mood by this point. She had been doing this since Pink had left to explore the Zoo with Blue’s Pearl.

“She doesn’t need the Rose Quartzes, Blue.” Yellow sighed. Blue Diamond continued summoning the Rose Quartz bubbles over to her and examining them as if Yellow hadn’t spoken, trying to figure discover which would be best for Pink’s guard by sight alone. “She already has the Amethysts.”

The Amethysts that she had decided belonged to her in a fit of possessiveness that Yellow hadn’t seen for thousands of years, when Pink had been given her first Pearl and the work had started to build her court for her first colony. Yellow almost shuddered, remembering how Pink had tried to… associate with her court as if they were equals.

One of the few mercies that they had had with her was that she had stopped that behaviour by the time she had started her colony on Earth. Pink had finally understood she couldn’t lower herself to their level.

Another bubble floated down and Yellow watched as Blue turned it over in her hands. She was looking for something in the bubbled gems although, no matter how hard Yellow thought about it, she wasn’t sure what. To her all the gems looked the same, even when they had been fully formed Yellow hadn’t been able to gain much of an opinion on the cut of gems. Pink had been determined to keep them away from Blue and Yellow, although she had acted like the Diamonds weren’t aware of what she was doing.

Stars, Yellow had forgotten how little they’d actually seen Pink after she’d begun her colonization of Earth. That had been a mistake and Yellow had no intention of repeating it. Clearly Yellow should have had a more advisory role instead of assuming Pink’s training would be enough. Yellow (or White) should have realised Pink wasn’t ready for the responsibility of her own colony, even if she was a Diamond.

“Do you think she’ll remember them?” Blue asked, tilting the bubble in her hands so the facets of the Quartz caught the light of the room. Yellow frowned as Blue looked deep into the bubble, eyes distant. She had lost her smile. “We were with her when she ordered them made, she had looked so happy when they emerged.”

That had been thousands of years ago, back when Pink was preparing to start her colony. The hundred-year wait had been almost insufferable, with Pink demanding updates constantly instead of just leaving the Peridot’s to do their job.

“She spent more time waiting for them to emerge then she had doing her paperwork.” There was no heat in Yellow’s words as she spoke. Despite the older Diamond’s efforts, Pink had never really understood the amount of paperwork needed to form a colony until she had been given permission to have the Earth. In fact, Yellow still had a suspicion that Pink had dumped most if not all of her work on her Pearl. There was no other way that Pink would have finished it on time with how she had been acting.

Yellow walked over and placed her hand on Blue’s shoulder in an attempt at comfort. She had never been very good at attempting reassurance, even back when Blue was newly formed and…

Yellow blinked, thinking. Back when Blue…

”Something isn’t right, Yellow!” Blue Diamond insisted, panic in her voice. “They don’t feel right!” Yellow placed her hands onto Blue’s shoulders, trying to make her fellow Diamond's words make sense. The movement appeared to encourage Blue Diamond’s hysteria however, eyes wide with panic as she kept insisting.

Why would Blue claim something was wrong with the White Court?

It was like something had slid into place, the long-forgotten memory slotting back into where it had once rested. But it also felt wrong, jagged and out of place. She was missing context and she couldn’t remember what Blue had been able to feel.

“Yellow?”

Yellow loosened her sudden vicelike grip. After a few tense seconds, she managed to uncurl the fingers and released Blue’s shoulders completely.

She needed more information before she could make accusations against White. The memory was eons old, from back at the beginning of the Blue Court. Blue hadn’t even had her first colony, so whatever she was talking about hadn’t been time critical. Although it had been important enough that White had taken action when she had realised that Blue and Yellow had had suspicions about… something. Something important and, judging by Blue's actions, horrifying.

White, Yellow's mentor who she had trusted implicitly, had taken her memories.

Yellow made a face, the betrayal stung. “Blue, do you… feel anything from the Rose Quartzes?” Perhaps that was why Blue kept staring at them like she was? Maybe Blue was looking for something she could no longer feel. That was the word Blue had used, feel. Emotions perhaps? It would make sense that if Blue could project her own emotions, that she would be able to feel them as well. But at Yellow’s question, Blue looked politely confused, eyes locked onto her like Yellow had started trying to explain something that Blue would never understand.

“Feel…? No, why?”

Nothing?

Yellow could be wrong. The memory was old, it was possible she wasn't remembering the words correctly. She had no context, she couldn’t remember the aftermath of the conversation. However, judging by how Yellow and Blue both appeared to have had those memories removed… it had not ended well for them.

“A thought.” Yellow sat back, face not betraying how unsettled she felt. She had trusted White. If she had removed that memory, what other memories had been removed or altered? How much of the trust she had placed in the Matriarch had been natural?

Stars, her mind had been altered and Yellow hadn’t realised. And there was no doubt it had also been done to Blue.

But why now? Why was Yellow suddenly regaining memories? They had been removed for so long that Yellow shouldn’t have been able to reclaim them. So what had White Diamond so distracted that her grip had weakened so significantly?

Almost as if her thought had been heard, Yellow’s Pearl jerked in shock out of the corner of her eye. Yellow’s eyes immediately moved to her at the out of character behaviour of the Pearl. Yellow’s Pearl knew to hold herself perfectly, out of sight until summoned. So why…?

Yellow Pearl summoned a communicator out of her gem, the diamond shaped device flashing white. A call from White Diamond herself, Blue immediately returned the bubble to the ceiling as she moved to stand. Yellow was more composed with her movement, turning to face the communicator. Whatever White wanted, they couldn’t appear weak.

Especially now Yellow was aware of the altered memories.

“Answer it.” Yellow ordered her Pearl, crossing her arms and moving her feet so her stance appeared more imposing. Yellow couldn’t afford to reveal that she was aware of what White had done. Not until she was able to make sure she didn't forget again.

But it wasn’t White at the end of the call, it was a Pearl. Not even Pearl 1, the only other Pearl who should be allowed to use the Diamond Line in times of emergency, but… Yellow had to think for a second to think of which Pearl that was. Black hair with some white running through it, wearing what appeared to be a flight suit which bore a black diamond insignia on the front.

Pearl 7 perhaps? That Pearl had been known to carry messages to different colonies for White and that infernal Peridot. Even when more efficient methods of communication had been developed, that blasted Pearl had continued to appear where she wasn’t wanted. No amount of complaints to White had stopped her.

“My Diamonds.” The Pearl’s voice sounded dull, misery palpable in her words as she saluted them. Yellow tried not to sneer at the display of emotion. Yellow’s Pearl didn’t even make the attempt, the look of disgust at the breech of conduct obvious on her face as she listened. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to Yellow that the dully coloured Pearl was defective, she was Black Court. “I am calling to give you an update on the hunt for the rebels involved in the kidnapping of Pink Diamond.”

Why wasn’t White giving them this information? Why have a Pearl do it instead? Surely she knew how badly this could be interpreted by Blue and Yellow, even if the Diamond’s faith in her was unshakable.

“After Pink Diamond was returned to us, my Diamond began the search for the perpetrator of the crime. In her search, we discovered the” Her voice broke for a second before she continued. It was barely noticeable, but it was there. “The Sapphire responsible. She has been tried and shattered for her crimes against the Diamond Authority.”

“Tried? The trial should have been held back until we were there! We should have had the right to question her! Pink should have been able to give her testimony!” And by shattering the leader, they were unable to gain more information about the rebels and their plans. Their goals, how the rebels had been able to alter the records so thoroughly, the harvested Amethysts. How could Yellow gain more information if the leader had been…?

She tensed. So that was White’s plan. Assuming the Sapphire had actually been involved in the plan and hadn’t just been shattered as a cover up. And now that White was claiming she had dealt with the leader of the rebels, Yellow couldn’t look for the rebels when she returned to Homeworld. Not without looking like she had no faith in the Matriarch of Homeworld.

Judging by the look in Blue’s eyes, she had realised this as well.

“My Diamond felt it better that justice was swift. The trial was held and Sapphire 1 was found guilty.” There it was again, that despair in her words. Why would White have this Pearl message if she was unable to hold back her emotions? Was Yellow supposed to notice something about the Pearl? Or was the Pearl being punished for an unknown action?

What was Yellow missing?

“I want to see the shards when we return.” Sapphire 1 was… had been one of the only colourless Sapphires on Homeworld. A look at the shards would confirm if it was her that had been shattered. Perhaps seeing the shards would help Yellow understand White’s plan, was White removing unfaithful gems from her court and using the abduction as an opportunity? Or had the Sapphire truly been guilty of what she was accused of?

The Pearl nodded quietly, not speaking as Yellow thought. What was she missing?

“How did White find the Sapphire?” Yellow tried not to look to surprised at how Blue had actually asked an intelligent question. Despite her actions for the past 6,000 years Blue was still a Diamond.

“I will send you a report of the investigation and what the White Court discovered from the Sapphire.” The Pearl bowed her head as she waited for another question or order, acting as if she was unaware of how insufficient that was. A report on such an important investigation? No offers to summon the other gems involved? “If that will be all.”

The Pearl hung up before Yellow and Blue could ask anymore questions, the small gem not trying to hide the fact that she was near tears as the screen closed.

Surely White had gems better at deceit then that Pearl? Why that Pearl specifically?

“Yellow, what do we do?”

Blue turned to Yellow in search for advice. Or perhaps she was looking for comfort? Yellow wasn’t sure, but when Blue moved to lean on her Yellow allowed it. What could they do now aside from read the report and spot the lies that were no doubt interwoven into it? When they returned Yellow would demand answers and no doubt White would lie to her as well. It didn't matter how often White lied, Yellow would find the truth.

Yellow would find the answers though and when she did, she was going to ensure that White paid for what she had done to them.

Chapter Text

Lars’ heart was like a bird’s, fluttering frantically inside his ribs in an attempt to escape. Even when the gasps for air finally seemed to be slowing down and Lars’ eyes started to regain the ability to focus, that was what Steven found himself focusing on. That small beating noise that no longer sounded inside Steven’s chest. The distant warmth that Steven had once been able to feel completely.

He found himself focusing on how human Lars was.

There was more he should be focusing on. The fact that Lars felt slightly sticky from when he had sweated during his panic attack, the distant noise of gems talking in an attempt to get his attention, the fact that they were wasting time and Steven needed to get Lars off of the Zoo and back on Earth. But it was that beating, the noise that was beating far too quick to be healthy, and the sharp breaths of someone struggling to breathe that had Stevens attention.

He muttered another pointless apology, for his mistake, for leaving Lars for so long on the Zoo, for bringing the Diamonds to Earth. He apologized and apologized but it wasn’t enough. He’d done this, messed it up again and it hurt Steven to remember that. Nothing was going right.

Steven needed to start to face his problems, if he had done so earlier then maybe Lars would already be on Earth. If he had acknowledged his position as a Diamond earlier, maybe he could have just ordered a gem to take Lars to Earth. Steven would never have even needed to be on the Zoo, he wouldn’t have lost control and tried to shatter a Peridot.

He had so much he needed to do.

And Steven would do it. No longer would he let his friends be hurt because Steven was scared to accept reality.

“Pearl.” Steven looked up, eyes cold with determination. Inside him the code sang, pleased as Steven gave orders. Finally accepting the help his court offered him, allowing him to lead more efficiently. “I need an Amethyst to escort Lars to Earth, to his family in Beach City. A gem who can pilot a ship.” He added even though he knew it wasn’t necessary. But he wanted to feel like he was doing something to help, and he wasn’t sure if Amethysts were actually allowed to pilot the ships or if there was a specific gem for that. He assumed that Amethysts were allowed when no one contradicted him. Although considering he was a Diamond, that wasn’t saying much. If the Amethysts didn’t know how to pilot a ship, Homeworld probably teach one to fly just to please Steven.

Pearl immediately summoned a screen, no doubt summoning one of the requested gems.

“Peridot. I need someone to make sure Lars is healthy and able to travel, and a gem to prepare a ship to travel to Earth.”

Squaridot was already working. As soon as she had heard the order for an Amethyst able to pilot a ship, she had started preparing to message her fellow gems of the Zoo. Her screen floated in front of her, the words being typed into it faster then Steven could keep up with.

And this was how it was meant to be. Steven organizing his gems to solve a problem, everyone working together to be as efficient as possible. The orders felt right. Steven forced that feeling down, he couldn’t lose himself again.

“I’m going to get you home Lars.” Steven swore to the human who looked up at him quietly. “To your family.”

Lars blinked slowly, mind still struggling to comprehend Steven’s gentle words. How aware was Lars of his surroundings? How much of this would he remember? Would he come into awareness on the ship, unsure of what had happened and where Steven was? Or would he remember everything that had happened, the memories like a hazy dream lost in fog?

Steven wasn’t sure what would be worse.

As he thought, Squaridot walked over and knelt next to Lars. She was a Gen 1 Peridot, without the enhancements that his Peridot had had when she arrived on Earth. Instead Squaridot summoned a small device that looked like a crab from her gem, small and metal. It was colored an icy blue, with its legs not appearing to be attached to each other.

She placed the device on Lars’ chest, just above his heart, and made a small noise of thought as she rested her fingers on the center of the device. “The human’s heartbeat is irregular but stabilizing.” She reported. “He will be stable for transport to Earth.” After a few more moments of observation, she plucked the device off of Lars and returned it to her gem.

Steven had known that, but the softly spoken confirmation helped him relax. He gently shook Lars’ shoulder, smiling comfortingly when Lars focused on him. “S, Sorry.” Lars muttered, moving a hand to rub his forehead with a groan. “I… I must seem really pathetic right now.” Lars’ smile was self-deprecating as he chuckled.

“You’re amazing Lars.” Steven managed, eyes pricking with tears. Because Lars was amazing, already ready to continue on even when he looked ready to collapse.

It wasn’t perfect. Lars looked tired. His movements were jerky as he forced himself to stand and he appeared to still be shaking as he finally managed to stand on two feet. But even despite all of this, Steven couldn’t help but smile at the sight of Lars standing on his own two feet. They could do this.

Squaridot started looking over Lars the moment he had stood, poking him in what appeared to be a random pattern and at least once insisted on looking into Lars’ eyes with a small light she had summoned from her gem. As Steven watched how Lars didn’t even react to the invasive procedure, he realized this probably wasn’t the first time Lars had had a panic attack on the Zoo. The fact that Squaridot had tried to distract Lars when Lars was still experiencing one was evidence of that.

Finally the Peridot finished her checkup and turned to look at Steven. “My Diamond, I shall go check on the preparations of the ship.” She saluted.

“We’re coming.” Steven declared.

No one argued with him.

The biggest problem they had getting to the ship was that Steven had no idea where the ship was. Squaridot and probably Pearl did, but those gems were insistent on letting Steven walk ahead of them until Steven ordered one of them to show him what way he was meant to be going. The long, sprawling corridors of the Zoo looked identical to the Diamond. Sure, there was a window here or a star map there, but none of that meant anything to someone who had only walked this corridor twice, one of those times hiding from Holly Blue Agate. Even during his first visit, Steven hadn’t paid much attention to his surroundings, his mind to focused on his dad to look at the Zoo in anything but horror.

In the end Squaridot took the lead, taking them to the landing area where the ship had been prepared. It was one of the Ruby ships, with an Amethyst already stood next to it. Steven immediately recognized her as one of the Amethysts who had entered the Zoo to comfort the humans after his dad had ‘hurt’ the other humans, her most distinguishing feature being the amethyst gem in her right eye.

As soon as she saw Steven she snapped into a salute. Honestly, Steven was going to be more shocked if a gem didn’t have that reaction upon seeing him at this point. Loyalty to the Diamond Authority was so deeply ingrained into the gems that it was creepy, but for now it was useful.

“Amethyst, I need you to take Lars to Beach City on Earth.” Steven ordered, trying to look as much of a leader as possible.

“…Wait, you aren’t coming?” It took Steven a few moments to realize what Lars had said. Hadn’t he said explained that he couldn’t return to Earth? “Steven, you can’t stay in space! What… what about your dad? Those weird ladies you live with! You can’t just leave me! I… I can’t just leave you!” Lars already looked ready to panic at the thought of leaving Steven behind on Homeworld, unable to understand that Steven couldn’t risk directing the Diamonds attention to the Earth. He couldn’t leave.

It hurt to think about his dad and the Crystal gems. He couldn’t risk them though, he had to protect them. And it wasn’t like Homeworld was that bad… right? Steven wasn’t dead, no one was torturing him. It could be worse.

Steven wanted to go home. He could, he could easy climb into the ship and order the Amethyst to take him to Earth. He could see his dad and his friends, let everyone know he was ok and that he was so sorry for causing everything that was happening. He hoped Pearl was ok, she was still struggling to adjust to his mom being gone.

“I’m staying.”

He couldn’t leave and he hoped that Lars understood that. And for a few awful, heart stopping moments Steven thought he saw tears in Lars’ eyes. And then his friend’s eyes hardened.

“No. I’m staying.” His voice trembled and his hands shook, but for a few seconds Lars’ fear was replaced with determination to protect Steven. To protect his friend, who was still putting himself before anyone else and damn the consequences. “I’m not leaving you Steven.”

“Human Lars!” Squaridot snapped, horrified by his lack of manners. Even Pearl had tensed, fingers moving to touch her gem as if she was waiting for something. Lars didn’t move from where he stood though, whatever side effects the panic attack had left shoved to the side as he realized that Steven had never planned to leave with him.

Steven pondered the idea quietly. It would be nice. Lars would probably be fascinated by Homeworld. He could meet the Off Colors and teach them to like themselves, and Steven would have someone to talk to. Perhaps Lars could help Steven adjust to everything and remind Steven about how it felt to be normal. He could help Steven discover more of the mysteries of Homeworld and the White Court.

For a few seconds it was tempting, to just put himself in front of everything else and just take. To keep his friend, even if it endangered him. To not be alone anymore. It wouldn’t just be nice, it would be amazing.

And it would be selfish. Steven couldn’t put himself in front of his humans or gems, he had to think of their wellbeing first. Order and Stability before all else, or the court would collapse in on itself. He knew that, it was why he was going to return Lars to Earth, even if it hurt. Even if it left Steven alone.

“Amethyst.” Steven’s voice was cold, even as he tried to stop the words falling out of his mouth. “Take Lars to Earth and return him to his family in Beach City as quickly as possible without endangering him.” He could trust the Amethyst to follow his order, to ensure Lars was safe and happy.

Steven just wanted Lars to be happy and he wasn’t happy on the Zoo.

The Amethyst moved immediately, taking a few steps forward and picking up Lars before he could move. It was obvious Lars wasn’t going to obey willingly, especially after Lars began to yell in fury, tucked under the large gem’s arm. The Amethyst didn’t notice the human’s escape attempts, even as Lars attempted to bite and scratch her arm.

Peridot looked appalled at his behavior.

“Steven? Steven!” Lars screamed, kicking and clawing to break free as the Amethyst turned to look at the small group of gathered gems. They had an audience at the door into the Zoo, the two Amethysts who were meant to be guarding the entrance were watching.

Something dulled the worry and guilt inside Steven as he watched. “Lars?” Lars stopped, hoping Steven was about to change his mind. “Can you tell everyone I’m ok? That… That I’m sorry I can’t come home?”

Yet. One day he might be able to return, but not now.

“Of course not! You’re going to tell them that! Steven, make her put me down! Steven, Please!” Lars disappeared into the ship with the Amethyst and the small Diamond forced himself to watch as it left.

Out the window he could see the Red Eye disappear into the black of space, travelling to Earth and leaving Steven behind. Steven turned to Pearl and tried to smile. Lars was safe now. Instead he found himself hugging her as he cried.

Pearl didn’t hesitate to hug back, sensing that this was what the youngest Diamond needed.

Chapter Text

It was difficult to focus on the memory of the Pearl. Like wisps of smoke, she struggled to remember what made Blue worry about her. Blue Diamond wasn’t aware of that though, finding solace in the gem which she was examining for a fault she couldn’t even think of. Her mind immediately focused on that instead of the call they had just received.

Yellow Diamond however had begun pacing the room furiously as she thought. Occasionally she would mutter something aloud, but the words became lost in the haze of her mind the moment Blue heard them.

Blue watched Yellow pace for a few moments before returning to the gem in her hands. Small and a pale pink, Blue could remember the day when she demanded for them to be bubbled after Pink had been shattered. It had been a difficult order, especially with Yellow arguing for them to be shattered, but it had been worth the months, if not years, of arguing for this moment.

The return of the Pink Court.

She wanted to burst the bubbles and return all of the Quartzes to Pink. To hasten the moment where Pink finally remembered them and her gems. Instead she gave the gem a small push, returning it to its fellow Quartzes. Pink should be involved in the decision on what to do with them, although it was obvious that she would want them to be released. Blue was certain of that.

The shine of the next gem she summoned helped her focus, making it easier for her to her think. Something about the small gems always helped her think when she allowed herself to. Too lost in her grief for thousands of years, those moments were few and far between. What was there to think of? How the lose of Pink had been a shock to everything Blue Diamond had known? A Diamond had been shattered, something that she had once thought impossible.

But Pink was back now. She hadn’t been shattered, merely taken from them. In her hands the gem shined, soothing the pain away. The pain that had been with her for so long, always in her mind and heart. Already she could feel the grief lifting, allowing the glee into her. It was a war of emotions and Blue struggled to cope with them. She ran a finger over the bubble, feeling the smooth surface give slightly. Not enough to pop, but it was there.

Something about the Pearl from the call tugged at her mind. Her mind fought the haze now that it had something to focus on, although Blue Diamond wasn’t aware that her mind was beginning to fight it. All she was aware of was a sudden moment of realization, a small thought appearing in her mind that couldn’t be stopped.

The Pearl.

Something about her was familiar, but Blue wasn’t sure how she would know her. It was something that was troubling Yellow as well, the if logical Diamond’s pacing meant anything. Occasionally Yellow would have her Pearl write notes about parts of Homeworld she needed to visit or gems that Yellow would need to talk to. The words were clear and Blue recognized half of the buildings. Old labs or barracks, most dating to pre-Yellow Court. Buildings with little value, so little that Blue and Yellow had never felt the need to visit them.

But that was wrong because they had.

No they hadn’t. Blue would remember visiting.

How did Blue know her? There was no reason to, she had made it a point to not allow the White Court near her colonies the moment she had the ability to. And this was especially true of the Pearls of the White Court. The gems were notoriously difficult to work with, refusing to obey orders and acting… willful. Even in the call, it was obvious that the Pearl had no sense of decorum. To… to cry in front of a Diamond… The lack of manners was unimaginable to any other court. In a proper court, the Pearl would have been shattered for embarrassing her owner.

But how did Blue know her? She would remember.

She turned the gem in her hands and as her eyes reflected in the facets, she found herself frowning. Blue knew she wasn’t as smart or as logical as Yellow, Yellow had always been the better Diamond. The gem better suited to leadership, she had been created after the Faction War after all. Despite the (oddly) short amount of time between the creation of the Yellow and the Blue Court, they emerged in very different era. Yellow had emerged shortly after the war, when tensions were still running high and the White Court were still battling amongst themselves.

The war that hadn’t ended when it was declared finished. It had ended when the White Court shattered the Green Faction for treason. An entire faction of gems, gone after earning White Diamond’s anger. Wiped from history and forgotten, not even used as a lesson to other gems.

Blue forced herself to focus on the dull shine of the gem in her hands to balance herself. The way the gem shined through the pale pink surface of the bubble. Yellow had always been smarter at solving problems, making connections that Blue would have missed. Blue… Blue always got lost in her emotions. Anger. Sadness. They were always so distracting when she needed to think. Yellow had the ability to just… focus.

How did Blue know the Pearl?

Blue was certain that she had seen her before. The White Court was distinctive, refusing to blend into each other as was appropriate. Blue Diamond should remember seeing such an oddly designed Pearl, you couldn’t even tell what kind of gem she served.

“Pink should be back by now.”

Blue was jolted from her thoughts by Yellow’s quiet mutter. The large Diamond had stopped her pacing and was now eying the door, mouth slightly curled. “Pearl, message one of the Peridots and ask where she is.” Yellow ordered.

“Yes, my Diamond.” The Pearl was stood in the corner, out of the way to not draw too much attention to herself. She smiled brightly at the order and Yellow turned away as the Pearl spoke. Yellow knew the Pearl would do as she was asked.

Blue held herself back, focusing on Yellow and the gem in her hands.

She had to trust Pink. She had to remember that Pink was still a Diamond, even if she had been shattered and her shards had been presented to her and

She was so sorry, she should have listened, this was all her fault

No.

Pink was back and Blue had to… she had to respect her. To listen. Blue couldn’t follow her for the rest of time, protecting her from any danger in her path. No matter how much she wanted to, she had to put her court first. She’d neglected it for so long, ignoring the displeased push of her coding as it was drowned by grief.

The rebels had never reached the Zoo. In the thousand years of fighting, they had never managed and it was that which kept her sat on the chair. Pink was safe, her Pearl or any of the Peridots would have messaged if something had happened.

Pink had looked so beautiful looking down on the Agate, a proper Diamond. Although Blue wasn’t sure why she had reacted so strongly, the coding wasn’t meant to do that.

It didn’t matter. She was back and Blue wasn’t going to allow herself to ruin this. She would sit here and wait for Pink to return. It took every ounce of Blue’s willpower to not start demanding updates. To go look herself and to move Pink somewhere safe where no one could find her.

A hand was placed on her shoulder and Blue realized Yellow had moved over to comfort her. Was Blue projecting her worry again? Her sadness? Or was Yellow trying to make up for thousands of years of dismissing her grief, not noticing how it had been tearing Blue apart from the inside? Drowning her until grief was all she had known, the tears a constant that could never be stopped?

Did any of that matter now though? Pink was back, adjusting to being with them all again and Blue should be happy. Not panicking because Pink had left her sight for too long.

The Quartz was still in her hands. Blue returned it to the ceiling, unsure of what to do next. As she did that, she found herself looking up.

The window spanned the entire wall and showed a sea of stars and galaxies, and Blue focused on looking in the direction of Earth. That small, awful planet of organics. Still circling its sun and still whole. Pink had been trapped on that planet, and Blue never found her. Had never realized that the rebels had survived the Diamonds final attack, even though it should have wiped them all out.

Perhaps it hadn’t been as strong as the Diamonds had thought it would be. They had never used it before, the armies of Homeworld strong enough to remove any threats. The attack had been strong enough to tire White Diamond though, forcing the tall gem to lean on Yellow for support as she’d returned to the ship to return to Homeworld. It was possible that that was how the rebels had survived and the attack had failed, White had failed her part of the attack.

As she looked up she blinked, unsure of what she had just seen. Why would a roaming eye be leaving the Zoo?

“Pearl, are there any ships due to leave the Zoo at this time?”

Yellow’s eyes widened, realizing what Blue was asking. But she wouldn’t leave, would she? Pink wouldn’t leave them. Not when Blue finally had her back.

“My Diamonds. According to the files, there is only one ship. It’s destination is…” Yellow’s Pearl trailed off as she read the screen. Her eyes widened in panic and for a few moments she was mute. “Earth.”

Pink wouldn’t leave Blue… right?

The panic grew in Blue’s chest, she had to find her. Had to find a Peridot or an Amethyst. Blue had to make sure that Pink was ok. Still safe on the Zoo and if she wasn’t, then they had to prepare to travel to Earth to retrieve her and to shatter the rebels still infesting that infernal planet.

And then when they had Pink back, Blue would make sure the Cluster was awakened to make sure that Pink never returned.

Chapter Text

Steven’s journey back at the throne room through the empty corridors was uneventful, a rare moments peace that he hadn’t experienced in weeks. Pearl was still following him, although he’d finally dismissed the stammering Peridot now that she had served her purpose. He needed to talk to Blue about how the Zoo was being run, although that would probably need to wait until Blue let him out of her sight again. Judging by the loud orders and demands he could hear from inside the room, he probably wouldn’t be alone again for a while.

But on the walk back he’d decided what he would need to do. He’d find Peridot 1, and try to learn why Pearl 1 had told him to go to her. Perhaps she could help him understand what was happening with his coding and… well, everything. But right now, he was putting off entering the room which held Blue and Yellow, trying not to show how much he didn’t want to enter to anyone who could see him. No gem could blame him if they had seen him though, the fact that Blue Diamond was angry was a sign of trouble.

Normally she was sad, crying almost all the time. The fact that she was almost shouting demands, sounding manic in her desperation, was a sign that something had happened. And Steven was almost certain he knew what. Because nothing could ever go right for him, that would make things too easy.

Amethyst would be great right now. She’d make a joke and Steven would laugh and feel a little better. Garnet would offer amazing advice and help stop Steven from making everything worse. Pearl… Pearl would’ve stood by his side no matter what. They all would have.

But they weren’t here. Pearl, still looking like nothing was able to faze her, stood by his side loyally like always as he dithered. But that quiet support was enough support for Steven to nod to her so that she would open the door.

He had to stop being scared.

He had to act like a Diamond, no matter how much he wanted to curl up and cry. He needed to play the part that Blue and Yellow expected of him until he knew the Earth and the Crystal Gems were safe, and that meant being what they thought he was meant to be. It was only that thought that stopped him from fleeing the moment both Diamonds noticed him, the room falling into sudden silence.

He swallowed quietly. He could do this.

Blue had frozen in place when Steven walked in like nothing had happed, the large gem missing his hunched shoulders and the way his eyes that kept darting between the two Diamonds. While Blue looked furious, Yellow looked deep in thought.

“Where have you been?!” Blue Diamond began, her accent thick as she spoke. “No one knew where you were after you left the human containment! You could have been hurt and we wouldn’t have known! No message! Nothing!”

Message? How would he have sent one? After a few moments it occurred to Steven that perhaps the Pearls could send messages. Although that asked the question of how that worked. Were they like texts? If they could receive reports and were able to look at them through their gems, then it would make sense. He hadn’t actually thought of that until now. It was a jump in logic that Steven had missed. Steven suddenly had this image in his head of his Pearl summoning a small screen to send messages to other gems from her pearl on her forehead, but forced it away before he lost focus.

Blue wiped away tears that had started to leak from her eyes, waiting for Steven to say something in response to her… well, the best words that came to mind for Steven was mad ramblings. It was like she’d suddenly changed, going from the strong leader that Steven had heard to a blubbering wreck now that he’d entered. Part of Steven was starting to wonder how her court was running as well as it was if this is how she normally acted. It couldn’t be productive to start crying at the drop of a hat.

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you were I was.” He apologized half-heartedly. He should have realised that disappearing so soon after his ‘kidnaping’ would cause problems, for himself as well as the other gems in the Zoo. In hindsight it was obvious, but that didn’t help him now.

Blue looked to Yellow for help, but Yellow shook her head. “Pink’s back Blue. She clearly wasn’t on the ship you saw, and she clearly hasn’t been hurt by the rebels. There’s no reason to be so… hysterical.” The final word sounded like a curse, the way Yellow Diamond hissed it out. And from the way Blue flinched, it was an accusation that was familiar to her.

“Y… Yes! She’s back! I’m… Why… Why am I…?” Blue wiped her face to remove the tears, struggling to stop them. “I don’t know why I’m crying.” Her voice trembled slightly, sounding uneven and weak. “Why do I feel so sad?”

Steven watched as Yellow walked over and hugged Blue, not sure what he could do. As selfish as it sounded, he really hoped he wasn’t in trouble anymore. Steven wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to help calm her down. Blue Diamond’s moods fluctuated so often that Steven didn’t want to risk upsetting or angering her more.

Steven looked around awkwardly, before he turned to look to the windows which showed the numerous stars and galaxies. Was he looking out in the direction of Earth? He wasn’t sure, but he liked to think he was. That meant that Lars would have flown by this window on his way back to his family. It would have been nice to see the ship as it went past, but the knowledge that Lars was now safe was like a weight being lifted. It was sad. It was lonely. But it was right.
Yellow was watching him.

Steven flinched, but she only looked thoughtful as she reassured Blue. Her eyes looked thoughtful, like they always did. Like she was looking at a puzzle that she wanted to solve. Did she know what Steven had done? Did she care?

Well, it didn’t matter if she was against it. Steven refused to let Lars stay here. In fact, he refused to let any of the humans stay here. He was going to order their release back to Earth where they could be free and not be trapped with gems like Hexidot.

Yellow was still watching him.

She kept watching him until Blue wiped her eyes for the final time and straightened. It had felt like hours or even days to the small Diamond, but it had only been a few moments. Her sad eyes seemed calmer as she looked at him. “Pink. Did you have fun with the humans?” Blue sounded strained as she spoke, trying desperately to sound pleasant instead of being five seconds away from breaking.
Yellow didn’t speak, her eyes narrowed at Steven and Blue. Not that Blue seemed to notice. She was waiting for Steven to reply.

“Yeah, I…” He could do this. “Blue, I want…” He could. “I want to…”

If there was anything good to come from being a Diamond, it would be this. Doing something not even his mom and the Crystal Gems could do. It was that thought that pushed him to complete his sentence. Steven could do this. He had to, for the humans.

The Diamonds waited as he spoke, but the words kept getting stuck in his throat. What if it went wrong? Something was nagging at the back of his mind, something he’d heard when he was younger. Something important.

“Pink?” Blue asked.

The Peridots. Hexidot. They would know.

“It’s nothing.” It burned, but he had to do it right. It couldn’t be rushed if he wanted to avoid hurting them. As that thought crossed his mind, he remembered that night in the Zoo when his dad had upset them. The many hands reaching out as the humans cried. “…Hey, Blue? If I wanted a human freed… what would have happened?”

Blue blinked in confusion at the question, tilting her head to the side for a few moments as she thought about the question. “What an odd question. I suppose I would have had an Amethyst take the human to Earth. Of course, we would need to consult with the Peridots to ensure the human could survive the journey and perhaps send a scout to ensure the human is placed where it wouldn’t be immediately killed by a predator… Why?”

Lars could have been released weeks ago. No, months. Steven’s face crumpled at the realisation, he’d hurt his friend. It was his fault Lars had been trapped here for so long, miserable and lonely. If Steven had just…

Steven could have freed him if he’d ordered it.

And as Yellow watched both of them, Blue’s eyes had begun to water with the beginnings of tears.

Chapter Text

The Big Doughnut was mostly empty, with the exception of a blond woman stood behind the counter. The shop looked like any other cheery store, with many freshly made doughnuts being displayed in display cases and soft music playing in the background. The store was clean, the floor almost shining from how many times it had been cleaned by the sole employee.

Sadie sighed, not really listening to the happy song playing on the radio. It was something cheerful and generic, and Sadie could almost hear Lars’ comments about the song. ‘Why are they always so cheerful?’ He’d have complained as he moped, determined not to do more work then he needed to. ‘You can barely tell the songs apart!’ And then when he thought no one was listening, he’d hum as the song became an earworm that never left.

In the past, the silence would have been filled by Lars, complaining loudly or discussing things like the latest movies. Things had changed a lot since the aliens had attacked and tried to take the humans. Nanefua was now mayor and had been putting together plans in case there was another attack. Dewey, now that he was no longer mayor, was probably job hunting.

Although if he ever showed up in the Big Doughnut while Sadie was working, it would be difficult to stop herself from wringing his scrawny neck after how quickly he’d dismissed Lars and Steven as unimportant. ‘We’ll find a new Doughnut boy’. Sadie could’ve killed him upon hearing that if she hadn’t broken down crying and had been led away by some passersby. She didn’t even know if they were safe now, even months later. No one did.

Beach City had been doing their best to support the Barrigas and Greg. Kiki and Jenny had been bringing them food to make sure they ate and people had been visiting to try and show their support. Lars and Steven had been members of the community since their birth, and you could feel the hole their disappearance had left behind. It was that hole which had helped fuel the angry mob who’d protested him for weeks until he’d lost his job. There was also at least one story of a purple owl swooping him in anger.

People had also tried to help the gems (especially after a few instances of Pearl breaking down in tears at the mention of Steven’s name) but they hadn’t been seen around Beach City much lately. When Nanefua had held the town meeting to plan what to do in case of an evacuation, none of them had turned up. It was understandable, they were all mourning Steven, but apparently it had made Nanefua’s job a lot harder. The only ones who understood what they should be looking out for beyond ‘alien ship in sky and multicolored aliens’ was them.

Sadie returned to laying her head on the table with a heavy sigh.

She missed Lars and Steven. Steven’s unending optimism was needed so badly right now, with his bright smile and reassurances. The way he always insisted on trying to help you…

Were they ok? The worst bit was that she didn’t know. If she knew they were d… well, if she knew then at least she would have some closure. But she didn’t. All she could picture was Steven and Lars being hurt by gems like that big yellow one, or that invisible gem that had attacked them on the island. Her mind just kept coming up with worse and worse fates for them. For all she knew, they could have starved or dehydrated or suffocated or

She stopped that train of thought, willing away the prickling in her eyes.

She just wanted to know.

Sighing again, Sadie began to close up the shop. There hadn’t been many sales lately, not since the abductions. People were still afraid, even if they were trying not to show it. No one talked about it, but one of the worries was the aliens coming back to take the rest of the town. With the Crystal Gems not being around as much anymore, it would be difficult to defend themselves. Humans just weren’t strong enough to fight back, that was something Sadie could confirm. But life had to continue, even with that uncertainty hanging over everyone’s heads.

As Sadie turned the sign on the door to closed, she considered visiting Lars’ parents. Last time she had visited to see if they were ok, they’d invited her in for tea and had asked about how she was. ‘You know, the usual.’ She’d tried to chuckle, ignoring how the question had made her hands tremble. They didn’t want to hear about the nightmares, or how sometimes she still felt like she was trapped inside that alien, unable to even twitch in its confining body. How being in small spaces was suddenly suffocating. Besides, they’d actually lost their son. That was much worse then what had happened to her.

Yeah, no one needed to know. It would just upset them more than they already were.

Perhaps she’d leave visiting the Barrigas for today. She could go home and watch some movies. Maybe listen to some music with her mom. With that thought, Sadie closed the store and began her journey home. She’d snagged a couple of doughnuts before leaving, not like anyone was going to notice anymore.

Sadie’s walk home was also quiet. The sun hadn’t started setting and it was still pleasantly warm, but there were few people out. The few that were either waved or stopped to stare at her, like most people did now. It was like being an animal in a zoo, people wanted to know what had happened during the abduction.

“That way.” A voice whispered on the wind.

Sadie paused before shaking her head. She’d thought she’d heard Lars, but that was impossible. Lars was still gone. Sadie kept walking, suddenly very aware of how empty the road was. If another gem was here to abduct the humans, they’d… No. Sadie was not going to fall into that again. She had to stop thinking of aliens every time she heard an odd noise. She couldn’t become like Jamie, who still struggled to leave his house to do the mail round.

“Come on Sadie, you can do this.” She muttered. Because she could. Her therapist had been helpful in helping her overcome her paranoia.

“Yes, I’m sure it’s that way. I know where I live!” The voice snapped loudly, a lot closer then it had been before.

“Ok, ok. No need to get angry.” Another voice replied, her voice sounding like she was holding back a laugh.

Sadie stopped walking in shock. Those voices sounded familiar, tickling the back of her mind and driving her forward in a run. It couldn’t be. But she was so certain…

The streets were quiet, which made it easy for Sadie to run at max speed and turn the corner. The sight of the large purple woman made Sadie’s breath catch in her throat. It was happening again. She could see legs waving furiously as the human under the alien’s arm struggled. What Sadie could see of human’s outfit looked out of place in beach city, instead looking like something out of a book. Although she could only see two white clothes arranged like a skirt or a loin cloth.

As static filled Sadie’s ears, she realized she’d taken a step back, ready to run. There was nothing she’d be able to do if the alien decided to take her to. And this time, she wouldn’t be able to escape. The worst thing was, no one would have judged Sadie for fleeing. It was obvious that she was weaker then the gem, moving effortlessly with a squirming human under her arm. Running would give her the chance to raise the alarm, everyone could evacuate.

And Sadie was about to run. To escape in the opposite direction and find Nanefua who would still be working at this time, when she realized why the voices were familiar. Or at least, the humans voice was. The realization brought tears to her eyes. Happy tears, because Lars was alive and here. And then she felt horror was over her, because Lars was being held by an alien. Large and muscular, with long lilac hair and purple skin.

“Let him go!” Sadie yelled, not realizing what she was doing until the doughnuts had flown from Sadie’s hands and had hit the alien on the back of the head. The bag bounced off the purple hair mockingly, landing on the ground and spilling its contents on the ground. As the alien turned, the gem that was her eye caught the light. Sadie shuddered at the sight of the missing eye but shouted again. “I said let him go!”

“Sadie!” Lars gasped, smiling. It was definitely Lars, dressed in an outfit that looked like something out of a book and hair cut unevenly. None of that mattered though, because Lars was tucked under the arm of an alien and for a moment Sadie felt faint. It was like last time, except Sadie was on her own now. “It’s ok. It’s… let me down!... It’s ok!” As he reassured her, he tried to free himself from the tight grip of the arm. After a few moments of struggling, Lars became limp as he realized how hopeless it all was. Lars closed his eyes and hummed in thought.

What was Lars doing?! He needed to try and escape! He…!

Sadie looked around for something to use as a weapon. While the alien wasn’t moving yet, she probably would soon. Sadie wasn’t sure why the alien was in Beach City with Lars, but Sadie refused to go down without a fight. She grabbed a stick off the ground and held it up, ready to defend herself.

The alien looked unimpressed. And considering that the alien was much bigger then Sadie and looked like she was made of muscle, Sadie couldn’t blame her. She still gritted her teeth, prepared to wave her weapon if given a reason to.

“You can let me down! Sadie’s family!” Lars broke in desperately. His eyes pleaded with her to go along with the lie. “And… And you have to give me to her! That’s what Ste… Your Diamond wanted, right?” His voice broke on the last word, as if he realized how insane he had sounded. Sadie and Lars looked nothing alike.

But after a moments pause, the purple alien grinned. The smile actually looked… friendly. Sadie moved so she was holding the stick higher, preparing for whatever was about to happen. There was a beat where it looked like nothing was going to happen, before the alien relaxed her grip and let Lars stand up properly.

Lars took a few seconds to adjust to standing again, tapping his foot on the ground before he ran forward. He grabbed Sadie in his arms and hugged her tightly, his hand knotting in her hair. He didn’t care though, holding her tighter as he let out a small sob. Just as Sadie relaxed into the hug, Lars pulled back wide eyed.

“Lars?” Sadie asked, but Lars looked conflicted. “Where’s Steven?” She looked around in case she was missing something, but there was no sign of the small boy. “Why… How are you here?” It should be impossible, but he was in front of her. “Is this a dream?” It had to be, because this was impossible. What were the odds of Lars suddenly reappearing out of nowhere?

Lars suddenly looked ready to cry again and Sadie regretted that she had asked. Steven was… what, 12? 14? What were the odds he’d survived space or whatever the aliens had had planned for the humans they’d tried to take?

Lars opened his mouth, having worked out what he wanted to say, when the alien walked past. Lars froze, but the alien ruffled his hair with a wide grin still on her lips. “Good luck, Lars.” She straightened and kept walking, leaving Lars and Sadie alone on the street. Sadie was pretty sure her mouth was hanging open in shock, while Lars was angry.

“No, you have to take me back!”

The alien was already gone around the corner and the two humans were left on the street.

“Lars? Why would you…?” Sadie started to ask. Why would he want to return when they’d… let him go? She was pretty sure that was what had happened. But Lars shook his head sadly, stopping her question in its tracks.

“They still have Steven. And he… How can I help him now? When he’s still alone in space? You didn’t see him. He’s… How can I tell his dad?”

As Lars stopped talking completely, Sadie took his hand and met his eyes. For a moment Lars tensed before he forced himself to relax. She wanted to smile reassuringly, to try to encourage him, but she wasn’t sure if that would help. How were you meant to react to this? So instead she looked determined. If they couldn’t help Steven, they’d find someone who could.

“Let’s go to your parents for now, and tomorrow you can talk to his dad.” Sadie suggested. There was no way they’d be able to help Steven today, but Lars could see his family. Perhaps for now that would be enough to help him. She watched as his eyes began to water, sniffing loudly as he nodded.

She had no idea how, but Lars was back. And tomorrow they’d talk to Greg and let him know that Steven was still alive. Sadie tried not to get her hopes up, but that was a good sign, right? And if they’d freed Lars, perhaps the aliens would free Steven as well.

Perhaps one day they’d find Steven walking along the roads, heading to see his dad. He’d probably look different, dressed in goofy clothes like Lars was. But then things could return to normal. It probably wouldn’t be that simple though, but Lars was back so things were looking up now.

Right?

Chapter Text

In the large pink room, five figures stood. The gems floating in the ceiling sparkled dully, trapped in their pink prisons. And below them, the Diamonds and the Pearls all stood. The Pearls were watching in horror as Blue Diamond wept, unable to stop her own tears. And around her, Pink and Yellow Diamond watched.

Blue Diamond kept wiping her eyes, becoming more and more confused as the tears refused to stop. Something was different. Blue knew what her own grief felt like. She had felt it for thousands of years, clouding her thoughts until there were days when all she could think of was how she had hurt Pink. How her shattering could have been avoided if Blue had acted differently. If she had listened to Pink during that fateful final meeting.

This wasn’t her grief.

But if it wasn’t hers, then whose was it?

As Blue turned to Yellow, she saw the yellow gem raise her hand to rub her forehead and flinched. Yellow was losing patience with her again and she was right to. Blue was still a mess, even now. To just… break down crying over nothing. But this time it wasn’t her! Her hands moved to grab the side of her head, pushing like a vice as she tried to shove everything out. The sadness, the grief, the loss. She needed to find the center of the storm, where the emotions were quietened. Blue found herself wrapping her fingers into her hair until she felt the pull.

Blue closed her eyes and focused, trying to feel out the grief that had no place in her. As she searched, a haze covered her thought. It left her feeling dull, like all the emotions in her had been quietened into a whisper in the back of her mind. The act was familiar, even though she couldn’t remember doing this before. It took a few moments to find what had been able to affect her. Small and fragile, a fragment of emotion that didn’t belong. Delicate like a piece of chalk, she crushed it down until it might as well have been dust in the breeze.

When she opened her eyes again, she felt better.

Much better. Like a weight had been lifted off of her. Slowly, like the movement was automatic, her fingers pulled away from her head, bringing with them the knotted hair still twirled around her fingers. The strands fell away as if in slow motion and all Blue could do was stare as the strands dropped.

“…ue! Blue!” Blue felt hands grab her shoulders and shake, forcing her out of her daze. “Are you alright? What happened?!”

For a moment, Blue couldn’t help but stare at the look of worry on Yellow’s face. Had Yellow ever looked like that before? So scared that it was visible on her face?

“I’m fine.” She reassured. And it was true. She did feel fine. Perhaps a little shaken, but overall? She hadn’t felt like this in centuries. And it showed on her face, her features no longer stained by grief.

But even as she thought that, she could feel it trying to crawl back into her head. Like needles piercing her gem, they were already starting to take hold. It was all she could do to not start crying. She was so alone, even now the feeling of loneliness crawled inside her.

The hopelessness, the worry and the anger. It was all there.

And it wasn’t hers. Blue Diamond wasn’t sure who it belonged to though.

“Are you ok?” Pink asked, eyes wide with worry as she looked up at her. Blue turned to smile at her, ready to reassure the small Diamond when she froze. Up high, hidden by the many floating bubbles she spotted a small green robonoids watching them. It had no distinguishing marks, and even as she watched it scuttled away as if it had never been there. There was only one gem that robonoid could belong to, the gem that controlled Homeworld’s security from White’s tower.

Why did Peridot 1 have a robonoid on Pink’s Zoo?

“I’m fine.” She replied, eyes a little to wide to reassure. It was impossible to hide her unease as she stared at where the robonoid had been. How long had it been watching? What was she doing here?

Blue pulled her eyes away and looked at Pink. As she moved she held up a hand, waving one of the Rose Quartzes down so it floated gently in front of Pink. The gem inside felt dull, the quiet inside unnatural. Perhaps the best description for it was that it was like the gem was frozen in time. No matter how unnerving it was though, the gem would serve its purpose as a gem in Pink's court. The small pink gem floated harmlessly in the air, waiting for Pink to pop the bubble and awaken its contents.

“Pink, this is one of your Rose Quartzes. And she will be one of your guard.” Blue forced a smile, moving the gem so it rested in Pink’s hands. The sooner Pink had her guard, the sooner they would leave the Zoo. Sensing Blue’s urgency, Yellow eyed the walls for a sign of the spying robot. If one looked closely, it was possible to see small sparks dancing on her curled fingers.

Pink stared at them before looking down at the bubble in her hands, but she didn’t move to pop it. She just… looked at it quietly. Uncertainty danced in her eyes.

Chapter Text

The bubble floated into his hands and it was all Steven could do not to drop it when it touched his skin. The gem inside was so similar to the one on his belly button that you would never know they were two different types of gem. The untrained eye could barely tell that the Quartz was a lighter shade of pink, not holding the redish tint that Steven’s gem did. Inside the bubble was a Rose Quartz, a gem locked away by Homeworld for the crime of being believed to be the same cut as his mom. That was what Yellow had said right, all those months ago? That the cut was tainted.

That lie had hurt so many gems, and now he was looking at another consequence of the lie. An innocent gem trapped in suspension, unable to be free. She may never have set foot on Earth, only guilty by association with a lie.

What would she look like, he wondered to himself as he put off popping the bubble. A terrible image popped into his mind, of a gem identical to his mom saluting him with blank eyes, loyal to a fault and ready to be shattered at his word. But perhaps they looked different, although he couldn’t picture what else they could look like. They wouldn’t be wearing a dress, instead donning the Homeworld uniform. That much he could work out. She would already where a pink diamond on her uniform. There was no guarantee that the gem would even be in her belly like his moms had been. The hair shade, the eye color, the voice. There was nothing on the gem to even hint.

He couldn’t move his fingers, the dread of the reveal stopping him. The Amethysts looked so much like his Amethyst, even with the small differences. Could he stand to look at her if she did resemble Rose Quartz?

Was he being fair to her? He didn’t even know the gem. As a Diamond he couldn’t be biased, not if she was going to become a gem of his court.

Above him, Blue and Yellow seemed distracted. Blue’s eyes were glancing around the room while also trying to watch him. The atmosphere was tense and it became more and more crushing as he stared down at the bubble. But he couldn’t leave her inside the bubble, not now that he had a chance to rescue her.

After a couple more moments of hesitation, he pushed his hands together. He felt the smooth surface push against his palms as it resisted. Finally, the bubble gave. It swelled under his hands until the bubble popped from the pressure and the gem fell to the floor harmlessly. He watched it bounce once before it froze in the air like caught in a web, the gem starting to glow as it floated upwards. As the glow grew, a body formed with the gem at the center of the form. Her stomach, he realized in dawning dread.

The glow turned into a bright flash and the gem landed in front of him, landing flat on her face with a loud and inelegant ‘thud’. Steven’s breathe caught in his throat as he stared at her splayed pink hair which hid her face and generic blue guard uniform. A Rose Quartz. A proper Rose Quartz, not a Diamond in disguise. He blinked, before stepping forward and trying to help her up. It was instinctive, grabbing her arm and pulling her to her feet gently.

He ignored Yellow uttering his name sharply, to focused on helping the Quartz. She seemed dazed as she regained her balance, which was weird. All the other gems he had seen wake up from being bubbled hadn’t acted like this. As her black eyes focused on him, he saw a flash of white swirl into the pupil as if it had never been there.

“I swear! I have nothing to do with her!” The Quartz’s yells trailed off as she stared into Steven’s eyes. “I… I… My Diamond?” She gasped. “But… you were shattered.”

Above him, Blue suddenly quietly sobbed. She quickly wiped her eyes and hid away the evidence of her weakness. Steven didn’t notice the action, because it had taken so much effort not to hug the shell-shocked Quartz soldier. With her chin length bob of pink hair and black eyes, she seemed lost as she stared down at him. He wasn’t sure what he could say to her, and Yellow was watching to see what he did.

Was this how his mom had felt on Homeworld? Always being judged by the two Diamonds above him and found wanting? It was no wonder that she left as soon as she saw the chance.

He didn’t need to say anything in the end, because the Quartz broke down crying. Sobbing helplessly at the sight of Steven standing next to her. Right, Steven realized with a jolt. To her, the shattering was recent. It could have been weeks or even days ago, even though to everyone else it had been thousands of years. As far as the gem was concerned, her Diamond was freshly shattered.

“Quartz! Stand at attention and control yourself!” Yellow boomed.

The Rose Quartz stood up as if shocked, continuing to sniff as she stood straight, shoulders pushed back and head (almost) held high. It took a moment for Steven to realize what else had been nagging at him. She was a Rose Quartz, made by his mom. How old was she if you didn’t include the time in the bubble? Centuries? …Decades? She probably didn’t know a time outside of a war.

“It’s ok.” Steven defended, trying not to look awkward as the Rose Quartz stared at him like she’d seen a ghost. Her eyes never left his, fixated on the diamond pupil. “You’ve been… bubbled for a really long time.” At his words her eyes slowly moved up, widening in horror at the ceiling of Rose Quartz gems still trapped in their bubbles.

…He should have insisted they did this in a different room.

“I… I…” She shook her head and snapped into a sharp salute. “I apologize for my disrespect, my Diamond! Rose Quartz Facet B1H2 Cut 2KL, reporting in!”

“It’s nice to meet you! I’m…” It was still second nature, the bright smile as he started to introduce himself. He was ready to introduce himself as Steven, and tell her how nice it was to meet her. It didn’t matter if it hurt to look in her general direction because she reminded him of his mom or that he knew he was meant to act like her superior. He was still Steven and he’d probably never be able to hold himself like Blue or Yellow.

Yellow glared the moment he started talking. That should have been more surprising then it was. Something about her reaction was familiar though, and all it did was make him deflate sadly. Right, he was still being judged.

“Pink. Stop being so… familiar with your gems.” Yellow sighed after a few seconds of silence. It sounded like an argument she had made many times before, although Steven wasn’t sure if that was true or not. “Now if you’re done, we need to return to Homeworld. The Quartz is to stay with you at all times, no exceptions. Quartz.” The Rose Quartz tried not to look like she wanted to faint as Yellow looked at her like one would look at an irrelevant bug. “You are to gu…”

“Yellow. Perhaps we should let Pink give the order.” Blue interrupted, motioning to Steven. “The Quartz is hers after all.” When she looked back at Steven her eyes softened as she smiled down at him, pride clear in her eyes.

“…Very well.” Yellow sighed. She motioned with her hand lazily and glanced at the corner again. Her eyes trailed something, narrowing as whatever she watched disappeared into a crevice. Why were they doing that? Normally they always seemed happy when Steven was doing his duty as ‘Pink Diamond’. Steven glanced around but he didn’t see anything different about the room. In the end he decided that he was probably never going to understand the suspicion and looked back at the Quartz. She still looked shaken, even as she looked at him.

“Quartz, I need you to guard me.”

That was a good order, right? He could introduce himself properly later, when they were back on Homeworld and safely away from the other Diamonds. Steven had thought it was ok at least, although Yellow still looked disapproving and Blue was looking down on him happily. The Quartz took the order with a quick ‘Yes, my Diamond!’.

“It’ll do.” Yellow finally muttered. Steven swallowed and tried not to squirm under Yellow’s eyes. “Good. Blue, we’re leaving.”

The room fell silent as Yellow made her announcement. The Quartz had quickly moved to the side to avoid drawing attention to herself, instead standing next to the door with the Pearls. Both Pearls acted like it was easier to pretend she didn’t exist, instead waiting for the moment that their Diamonds may need them.

“W… What? We can’t leave yet! I need to talk to the Peridots!” Steven protested. He needed to ask about the humans, he needed to move them back to Earth. It could be years before he made it back to the Zoo! Who knew what would happen if he left now?

Yellow glared down at him, anger at being disobeyed clear in her eyes. It was enough to make him falter for a moment, something inside him making him take a step back from the furious Diamond. The movement was instinctual, a feeling of dread forming as the much taller gem glared down at him. Blue Diamond didn’t move to help him, instead looking disappointed.

Then he glared back, unable to stop the twist of anger on his lips at being stopped. He knew what he had to do and he was going to do it, no matter if Yellow and Blue disagreed or not. And if they wanted to stop him? He’d go to the Peridots on his own.

The thought was like a ringing bell. Why should he stay and listen to Blue and Yellow over riding his decisions? If he was a Diamond, if he was as important as them, then they should understand what he was trying to do.

Fine.

He turned and walked over to the door out, not pausing for Pearl to open it for him. He ran his finger over the screen and punched it when he realized he didn’t know how to open the door. Of course he didn’t, not even his Pearl had been able to open it.

“What are you doing Pink?! We need to leave!”

Steven tried the door again, frustration mounting as it didn’t open. He hadn’t realized until now how dependent he was on Blue Pearl. He couldn’t open a door. He couldn’t read. He couldn’t find his way around Homeworld without another gem helping him. That realization pushed him to keep trying, his movements becoming more and more uncontrolled as he jabbed at the screen.

Neither of the Pearls moved to help him, following the lead of their Diamonds. While they had each obeyed Steven for a time, their true Diamonds were still Blue and Yellow. And while the two Diamonds didn’t want him to leave, they wouldn’t move to help him either.

“You can’t keep running off whenever it suits you! You need to stay where we can see you and protect you!”

“I want to see the Peridots!”

“Then summon them to you!”

“I want to see them away from you.” Away from the Diamonds. Away from the Pearls. He wanted to be alone, tired of being followed and ordered around. He wanted the Crystal Gems. He wanted his Dad and Connie and Lars.

Silence suddenly fell as Steven snapped. For a moment Yellow looked angrier then he’d ever seen her, eyes seeming to spark as she raised her hand to point at him. Steven heard the crackle of electricity and turned, gasping loudly at the sight of Yellow powering up the attack she had used on Holly Blue. With a flash of light he summoned his shield, taking a step back into the door to prepare. He didn’t have the room to dodge the attack effectively however and his back pushed against the door.

“…Yellow. We agreed.”

Agreed to what? Steven looked up slowly, watching Blue turn away from both of them. He didn’t know what the agreement was, but her words were enough to make Yellow lower her hand slowly. It took a few seconds for the sparks to dissipate, the cracking in the air hushing into nothing.

“…Pearl, open the door.”

Yellow sat on Pink’s chair and placed her head in her hands, unable to look at Steven as the door opened behind him. He took a few steps back, glaring over his shield at the Diamonds before turning and fleeing down the corridor.

As far as he could tell as he ran, no one else followed him.

Chapter Text

Dante and Martha Barriga hadn’t changed much since Lars had been abducted. It was the first thing that he noticed as he was led to the green sofa and almost pushed into it. His mom was dressed in a set of blue flannel pajamas with suns sewn in gold thread, the set Lars had bought her for Christmas a year ago. His dad, also in pajamas and a dressing gown, had sat opposite Lars as if he was a ghost. His dark eyes haunted as he took in the sight of Lars sat in front of him, ruined hair and odd outfit but seemingly unhurt.

“Hi Dad.”

Lars had said hi to his mom when she’d opened the door, smiling even as she screamed at the sight of him. Sadie had been a great help, catching his mom when she’d collapsed onto the door frame in shock. In fact, Sadie was the only one actually who seemed capable of doing anything. She’d lead Martha inside, helped her to a seat and reassured Dante that there was no danger. Sadie was probably the only person keeping everyone together right now.

Lars smiled as his mom and dad hugged him, wrapping his arms around both of them tightly. Everything looked like it had when he had been taken, from the warm décor to the smell of the warm cocoa Sadie had made him to give everyone privacy. The drink had been abandoned on the table to cool, everyone in the room too focused on becoming reacquainted.

Lars closed his eyes and sank into the hug, welcoming the comfort. He had thought he’d never see them again. Never see his family, his home, Sadie.

It was like being whole again. He could cry and not have to worry about someone seeing him. He didn’t have to worry about following a routine that numbed his brain or one wrong word making an entire group of people burst into tears. It felt so strange, to look at the ceiling and not see a sky that seemed broken. Or to not feel the squishy, fake grass of the Zoo beneath his feet.

He had taken so much for granted before he’d been taken.

He needed to call Steven’s dad. He kept reminding himself that he needed to make sure he knew that Steven was… well, ok probably wasn’t the word. Becoming some weird alien could not be described in anyway as ‘ok’. Alive? Alive worked. And he still didn’t know what he was going to tell those ladies at the temple. Honestly, he wasn’t sure what had happened to Steven.

The the fact that Steven had been killed right in front of him and had become a full alien still didn’t seem real, even after seeing him up close in the Zoo and looking into his pink eyes. The way he had slammed his shield into Peridot 7AF and made her body disappear into her gem. He needed to tell Steven’s dad at least.

But then his mom and dad would hug him again and Sadie would bring over more snacks and smile at him with that fond grin before retreating to do something else, and he found himself thinking ‘one more hug’ or ‘it can wait an hour’. After all, it’s not like anyone could even reach Steven. If they could, wouldn’t someone have arrived to help them earlier?

Wouldn’t they have saved Lars earlier?

“…s? Lars? Honey?”

Lars blinked and realized his mom was holding his chin, worry clear in her eyes as she looked at him. It was only then that Lars realized how much older she looked now. The wrinkles around her eyes were more pronounced, as were the wrinkles on her forehead. Her orange hair was wilder than he remembered it, curling chaotically around her head due to lack of care.

“Sorry. I was miles away.” He admitted.

“But you’re ok? Perhaps we should call the doctor.” She leaned over and placed her hand on his forehead gently, as if the touch would shatter him into a million pieces if she used too much pressure. Lars removed the hand just as carefully.

“I’m fine. Just… adjusting.”

It sounded like an excuse, mumbled awkwardly while looking at the ground as he hoped his mom wouldn’t ask more questions. And even though it was clear that she wanted to keep probing, his mom pulled back her hand and rested in on her mouth. The silence stretched before she nodded, unable to hide how upset she was.

“Has… Has anything been happening in Beach Ci…?” He started,

His question was cut off by a sudden loud banging on the door, the pounding ringing through his head like a siren. The noise reverberated inside his skull as he froze, unable to keep his eyes off of the door. Was it an attack? Had something happened?

His dad grabbed a fire poker as he approached the door, ready to swing at any moment.

It’s not enough Lars wanted to yell, the words like glass in his throat. It won’t hurt them!

But all he could do was watch as his dad opened the door, Sadie and Martha moving so that they were between Lars and the potential danger. It was frustrating, even now Lars was still a coward. The sound of the door enough to trap Lars in place.

“Is it true? Is… Is Lars here?”

Greg Universe was on the other side of the door, face red as he panted heavily. His clothes were wrinkled and unkept, covered with what looked like oil and paint. Lars narrowed his eyes, but he couldn’t figure out what else that blue liquid could be, looking like a glittering goo which had hardened.

Behind him were the gems, trying to look over Greg’s shoulders without being too obvious. Lars recognized Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl from seeing them around the city, but he couldn’t place the little green one who was also coated in the blue paint. The sight of her made him jolt before focusing on the differences between her and Peridot 7AF. The height made her seem less of a threat, even though she was probably strong enough to break Lars’ spine if she wanted to.

“Mr Universe.” Dante lowered the poker but didn’t move. He watched the gems like a hawk, eyes narrowed in suspicion.

“I just need to know about Steven. My son. Please, I need to know.” Greg pleaded, grabbing Dante’s shoulders tightly in desperation. “Did… Did Lars say anything about Steven?”

Lars stood and walked around, ignoring his mom’s protests. He couldn’t ignore Greg, not now that he was faced with the grieving father. It would be one thing if Greg hadn’t learned about Lars’ return until tomorrow, but now? Now it was cruel not to talk to him immediately.

Lars wasn’t that cruel.

“It’s ok Dad.” Lars reassured, gently moving his dad out of the way so that he was stood in front of Steven’s dad.

Lars saw immediately that Greg had zeroed in on his outfit, eyes widening at the white and purple clothes before looking sharply at Lars’ bare ear. The moment stretched awkwardly; Greg clearly unsure what to say now that Lars was actually here.

Lars hugged himself, suddenly nervous. What he’d seen…

“Steven’s alive.” He blurted out.

Like a spell had broken, the group in front of him relaxed. The green one cheered and began fist bumping the air, joined by the other gems. They embraced, looking so happy that Lars didn’t want to keep talking.

“Well, kinda.” Like a band aid, he just had to… spit it out. Quick and painless, like his mom had told him as a child. Quick, before his voice failed him. “Steven died. But then he came back. All… pink.”

“It can’t be…” Pearl gasped. Her blue eyes seemed to bulge as Lars trailed off, suddenly at a loss for words. He sounded crazy, Steven coming back to life? As an alien? Who would believe him? To her side, Garnet tensed, fists clenching. “Lars, did… anything else change? Any part of his appearance?”

“His appearance?! Pearl, he just said Steven died! What happened?” Amethyst snapped, looking threatening even with her short stature.

“He died, ok?! That big blue gem had him in her hand, and… and…”

Lars felt sick. Something in his stomach churned as he felt a cold chill run over his body. He felt someone grab him from behind, holding him steady as Lars wheezed. The air felt thick in his lungs as he struggled to breathe. He could see it as clear as if it had just happened, Steven held in the Diamond’s hand, a broken scream as the fingers curled. He didn’t want to tell them.

But from the horrified looks, they’d probably pieced together what he couldn’t say.

Lars was pulled into strong, comforting arms. He couldn’t say anything else as he heard a door slam closed in the distance, he could barely hear the spoken words over the buzzing that had taken over his hearing. And honestly? He didn’t have the energy to stop the broken sobs that came so naturally now, like a tide that had broken through.

For a moment, it was like he had never left the Zoo.

Chapter Text

With the closing of the door, the Crystal Gems broke. A wail escaped Pearl’s lips, like something inside her had completely broken. Amethyst looked ready to cry herself, but instead she was trying to reassure Greg. And in front of Peridot’s eyes, she witnessed Garnet unfuse into a Ruby and a Sapphire. In a matter of moments the Crystal Gems had fallen apart. The part of Peridot’s mind which hadn’t been dulled by her coding despaired, because the last thing they needed in a moment of heightened emotions was a Ruby.

Instead Peridot found herself focusing on her duty, the coding calming the panicking that wanted to bubble out and render her useless. She kept running the conversation with the human known as Lars in her head, examining his wording for a hint of something. She had to find something to help. Some hint, or some contradiction of facts. Because Steven couldn’t have died and come back. Gems couldn’t do that.

But they could reform.

Perhaps Steven’s death was a human take on a gem reformation? It would explain the changed appearance, which would be horrifying to a species which didn’t have the ability to change their appearance. They merely emerged… somehow… lived for around a century and died, experiencing only minor changes to hair and skin. In fact, they changed so little that they wore an outer layer to express individuality. So, reformation would be a new experience for a human to witness, perhaps being easily mistaken for a death. If Steven followed the same rules as a gem, he was alive so long as his gem continued to exist.

But he was a hybrid, so all of Peridot’s vast knowledge and experience was useless. Still, it was a working theory.

Peridot opened her mouth to explain her theory, hopeful it would calm the other gems enough for them to be able to continue their function. The ship had made enough headway that, in a few more centuries, they might be able to leave for Homeworld. Depending on how quickly humans developed lightspeed travel of course. If she continued with her own research, maybe the repair gel would be ready within a year. Research she had been pulled from by Garnet. With a reformation, there was a probability that Steven would survive long enough for them to rescue him.

Whether or not him living was a good thing was something she didn’t want to consider.

“I’M GOING TO KILL HER!” The Ruby screamed, kicking fire as she stomped in a line. Peridot watched the line of smoky footprints left behind the little gem, unsure if humans were fire proof. It would be bad if Lars and the other humans died due to a loose spark. At the very least, it would upset Steven and that would be bad.

Peridot closed her eyes and continued to think, ignoring the way everyone else was reacting. At this moment in time, it wouldn't help. Something was bothering her about what the human had said. Something that was small enough that no one else had stopped to consider it. Not for the first time, she missed the mainframe of Homeworld. This would be far easier with all of Homeworld’s information at her finger tips, all nicely organized and reachable within a few seconds. And if she was missing something, an easy connection to many other Peridots who would help her find an answer.

She didn’t have that now, the dead connection hovering insider her now all the more conspicuous.

She didn’t even have a screen to write the conversation on for future record. The wording was everything, the entire meaning of a sentence changed with a word placement. Not that it would help, because the Earth language was incoherent. Unlike the language of Homeworld, the writing systems of Earth were far too primitive to be of use.

But Peridot had to focus, because Steven was alive on Homeworld and he needed her. There wasn’t enough time and…

Steven was alive.

How did the human know Steven was alive? How could he be certain that after the reformation, Steven wasn’t instantly shattered? The lack of hesitation was what was bugging Peridot, because it meant there was a vital piece of information missing. They needed to question the only source of information more, but he was now being hidden away by his co-creators.

“…Rose…!” Someone behind her was saying, which drew Peridot out of her musing. The small gem turned around and realized that the Amethyst, the Pearl and the Sapphire were talking… or trying to talk. The Pearl was cutting herself off mid sentence by slamming her hands over her mouth, probably to silence her sobs.

“I… I can’t see anything that will help.” The Sapphire admitted; voice horrified. The noble looked upset, which in Sapphire terms meant she was ready to join the weeping masses within a moment’s notice. Peridot really hoped she didn’t have to attempt hugging again, it was incredibly ineffective outside of Camp Pining Hearts.

“But Rose could be back?” The Amethyst trailed off, sounding lost. “What if… What if she’s back? Pearl, what if…” Not lost, so far into panicking that she was struggling to think coherently. This is why courts needed gems like Peridots and Diamonds, they were able to remain calm in times of extreme stress.

She could panic in private, when she was no longer needed. Still, Peridot wished there was a leader to point her in the right direction. It was always reassuring to have orders, a knowledge that there was a plan she could work towards. One of many pieces in the grand scheme of the Diamonds…

Stars, she missed Homeworld sometimes. The organization structure would be helpful in a situation like this.

“I don’t know! Ro-“ Pearl silenced herself, tears still flowing down her face and through the fingers which she tried to pry away… The movement silenced the words the Pearl kept trying to say.

Peridot was officially an idiot.

An order.

Pearl was fighting an order. She hadn’t noticed before, because Pearl’s didn’t disobey orders. And the Crystal Gem Pearl didn’t have an owner, so who could force an order on her? One so strong that even thousands of years later, it couldn’t be circumvented? And more specifically, what order was so important that it was still silencing Pearl? The Amethyst didn’t notice, she had probably been informed of how a gems coding worked. The only gem types with the information would be from the science sector regarding Kindergartens. Peridots and Apatites and Sodalites… but mainly Peridots.

And if the order was to hide information, then that meant asking Pearl about the order was useless. It was a source of information that was cut off before it even had the chance to be used. Whoever Pearl’s owner was… Peridot wondered if she knew how cruel she had been.

“We’re missing information.” Peridot finally butted in. Everyone stopped to listen to her, which in any other circumstance would have made her preen. However, right now there were more important things to do. Peridot glanced at Pearl, watching the delicate fingers tighten over her mouth. “Before we jump to conclusions, we need to re-question the human. What didn’t he tell u-“

“Didn’t you hear him?! Steven died!” Amethyst yelled, fists clenching. “How can you be so… so calm?! Don’t you care?”

Peridot looked around, but everyone appeared to look like she’d insulted them all. She wasn’t sure how she’d managed that feat, but apparently her skills in reassurance were still abysmal.

Stars, she missed Steven. She tried to think of what he would do. He’d probably yell reassurances and everyone else would immediately listen, falling in line to fix the problem. He might not even have a plan, but Steven would still help calm everyone down enough to function. Without a Rose Quartz, they were falling apart at the seams.

“Panicking will not help. We need to think, especially since we’re lacking so much information.” Peridots were designed for working under pressure, a single change in a Kindergarten could cause a failure of catastrophic proportions if not corrected immediately. Gathering and giving out information quickly, then using that information. That was why a Peridot was used to check on the cluster, they could handle all of the information required. …Not that Peridot had succeeded in keeping calm then, away from the network and someone to help plan. Instead she had found reassurance with Steven, who had used the information at his disposal to help her.

She really needed a Steven right now.

Peridots weren’t meant for reassurance, as she kept being reminded.

“Think?! Steven’s still in space, we’re no closer to going to save him, Lars came back without him and goes ‘Steven died’ and your reaction is to stand there and go CALM DOWN?!"

Peridot was suddenly very aware of the fact that Amethyst could dissipate her form with a single hit, and that no one else would try to stop her.

“Th… That’s not what I’m saying! I’m only saying that there’s a high chance that the human Lars might be able to give us more information in the morning, and that we should return then for more answers.” Peridot held up her arms in self-defense, because Amethyst only looked angrier. “And… And…” She stammered, backing away as Amethyst took a step forward. Peridot willed away her tears, because she was just trying to help. How else could she assist in saving Steven? She wasn’t strong, or powerful or… or… She was just a Peridot, and all she had was her knowledge.

And she had to hope, because otherwise Steven was gone and maybe Rose Quartz had returned. But if he had become Rose Quartz, why hadn’t he… she?... been shattered immediately upon reformation? The Diamonds would never allow such a dangerous gem to remain whole. Wasn't that why the Aquamarine had dropped her orders immediately when given the chance to take him?

She didn’t even know if that was possible, because there were no other gem hybrids to study and question. So it could be possible. Like it could be possible that Steven had reformed as a full gem, and was still himself. Which still meant the Diamonds should have shattered him immediately. But Lars was certain he was alive, even though his emotions had stopped him before he could continue to offer information.

Peridot was just trying to help… but she wasn’t Steven. She didn’t know how.

“Ruby, stop.” Sapphire muttered. The aristocratic gem was frozen in place, the ice slowly creeping up her dress and making the temperature around them plummet. To the gems, the drop wouldn’t even be noticeable. In regards to Greg however, the human was trying to hide the fact that his skin was turning blue.

Peridot glanced at the red gem, and realized how close she had come to attacking Peridot. Her fist was coated in flames and her teeth gritted furiously; the picture of a Ruby being led by her emotions. Peridot squeaked and backed up more. If Peridot was lucky, then her ferrokinesis would open the door for her to duck through before her form was destroyed. She couldn’t afford the lost time.

“I’m… just trying to help…” Peridot was certain her voice had broken on the final word, sounding small and pathetic in the face of a much stronger opponent. And that was wrong because they were a team, she shouldn’t be afraid of them.

Ruby snarled again, but lowered the fist.

“Pe… Peridot is right. We should come back in the morning.” Pearl stammered. If she had been human, Peridot was certain that she would have the first signs of damage on her lips. Instead, she looked perfect. Shaken, a little broken emotionally, but physically perfect. Every part a high quality Pearl. “Perhaps…”

Pearl looked longingly at the building, and Peridot could see the conflict in her eyes. The information was right in front of them, but unobtainable for now.

Peridot had no idea how to read Greg now. She was certain he was sad, but his face looked twisted and off coloured. Somehow red and an off white that looked… disgusting. Especially with the slime running from his nose again and mixing with the hair on his chin. At least with gems, such secretions were quickly and easily cleanable. But he wasn’t disagreeing, which was important. He was leaning on a nearby wall for support, which was a bad sign.

“Hey… Peri. Do you think Steven’s ok?” The quiet plea for reassurance threw Peridot, because she still didn't know how to respond. Clearly, this was not the time to be completely honest, but at the same time lying could be counterproductive. The idea of lying still seemed foreign to her, something she'd never dream of doing back on Homeworld. Amethyst deflated when Peridot looked at her blankly. Because there were facts… and then there were facts.

“…There’s a chance he’s ok?” Peridot offered finally. Because however minuscule, there was a chance.

“We need to do something!” The Ruby yelled, returning to her pacing. The sparks were now small bursts of flame, melting the black road surface she was walking on. “And while we’re at it, we can shatter Blue Diamond into dust.” The final word was ground out, small wisps of smoke leaving the Ruby’s lips and floating into the air. The small, angry gem punched her hand into her fist, twisting the knuckles like she was grinding something slowly to pieces.

Peridot’s plan, the one most likely to succeed (of course) was going to drop them into the middle of Homeworld. The galaxy warp would be heavily guarded, but Peridot would have access to the network again and could direct them as needed. She had her metal, and everyone else were equally skilled and determined.

Peridot had to admit, she liked Ruby’s plan. They just had to get there.

A Peridot on the front lines, fighting to rescue her friend. With an Amethyst, a Pearl, a Fusion and a human.

They would probably be shattered, but what did they have to lose now?

Chapter Text

Even though the run only lasted a few moments, being away from the room helped cleared Stevens head. The pressure of anger faded away into nothing the further he ran until he was finally able to think again. And with the clearing of the fog came regrets which dug deep as he panted heavily. He could feel the way his body didn’t take in the air, the action completely pointless. But it helped him to focus. He’d been so furious suddenly, and he wasn’t sure why. It couldn’t be because of the Diamonds ordering him around again, they had been doing that since Steven had arrived.

In the end he sighed and kept walking. He had a plan.

As a Diamond, he could have the gems free the humans. Just the thought of leaving the Zoo like it was, with more humans being taken and forced into captivity like Lars or his Dad… No. Steven refused to allow it. And since he now had the power to stop it, he would.

Steven looked behind him, but it didn’t look like any of the gems were following him. Just a stretching corridor, with windows looking out into the inky darkness of space. Litt speckles of light hung in the distance, so many different colours that you would never see on Earth. Pink and white and purple. Some so close he could imagine reaching out and touching them. So many stars. But he could also see floating rocks from a nearby planet that looked hollowed out, large chunks of it missing. To the right a window showed a cloud of blue, green and white dust that hovered in the middle of the black void, surrounded by more stars as far as he could see. It was so beautiful.

As much as he wanted to enjoy the peace and keep staring out into the void of space, he couldn’t afford to anger the Diamond’s any more then he just had. It had been stupid to yell at them, but he’d been so angry. Steven sighed and looked out one last time. He wished he had a camera, there were so many little things that he would never remember.

tap tap tap tap

The tapping of metal on metal was quiet, barely audible to human ears. The taps were quick but uniform, a pattern clear if you focused hard enough.

The young Diamond turned sharply, shield at the ready to defend himself. But the long corridor was still empty. He glanced around and checked every visible corner, but nothing stirred.

Was he hearing things? Could he now be used to hearing other people that when he was on his own, his mind filled in the quiet? Steven put away his shield reluctantly. A little noise wasn’t going to scare him. It could be Pearl or the Rose Quartz, even though Pearl was silent when she walked and he was certain he’d be able to see them if they were following him… Steven forced himself to keep moving down the corridor, planning out what he was fairly certain was the route back to the Peridots in his head.

tap tap tap tap

The corridor was still empty, and looking up didn’t show anything either. Steven only saw himself reflected back in the hexagon shaped pieces of crystal that decorated the ceiling. The Steven in the reflection’s eyes were wide in panic as he seemed to twist unnaturally, trying to find the source of the noise. But whatever had made the noise moved faster than he could follow, the tapping becoming quieter until it could no longer be heard.

Down… the corridor he was walking down.

This was bad.

“Hello?” Steven yelled.

He should have been relieved when no one answered him, but it just made the paranoia worse. Now if he focused on the silence, he would’ve sworn that he could still hear the tapping. He swallowed nervously, pushed forward by his goal to help the humans. He had no time to be scared, and he certainly wasn’t returning to Blue and Yellow without completing his goal.

Steven’s face fell at the image that formed in his head, of him returning without managing anything. He shuddered, cutting off the image before it ended in his untimely demise. The harrowing image that his mind had formed, which had almost swerved into more disturbing memories of his first dea… well, the image that his mind offered him didn’t help him in the slightest. It just made him feel awful again.

Steven didn’t realize that his arms had crossed over his chest in a false hug, seeking reassurance from someone who wasn’t there. He rubbed his arms slowly, his pace still quick as he finished his walk to the Peridots.

The atmosphere turned tense the moment he walked in, making Steven stop in his tracks. The looks of guilt and fear was clear on their faces as they tried to hide the robonoid in the middle of the room. “M… My Diamond! We can explain.” Squaridot held up her hands in an attempt to ward off an attack that never came. Steven didn’t even look at her.

He tried to talk, but he kept staring at it. The robonoid wasn’t as… well, it wasn’t as sleek as the ones he’d seen on Homeworld. It took Steven far too long to realize that the robonoid had legs that were physically attached to the body, long and thin like the legs of a spider. The entire thing was an olive green, with a red dot in the middle surrounded by dents.

The red dot had to be a camera. And as the robonoid moved to look at him, the legs made a very familiar tapping noise.

Slowly, the robonoid walked over until it stood in front of Steven. The machine barely reaching his knees even when it stood at its’ full height. The red dot brightened and dimmed a few times before a holographic screen appeared in a flash of light.

The Peridots’ eyes widened as what appeared to be a loading screen appeared, a white diamond appearing in the middle before disappearing to reveal a wall of text that Steven couldn’t read. He squinted, but the words still made no sense. The writing didn’t resemble anything he had seen before, being a little more flowy than normal Homeworld writing. Instead of harsh lines and strict corners, the foreign letters almost flowed together like water. As he watched, more lines appeared in the odd style, each letter (or he assumed it was a letter) making less and less sense until he gave up.

It was clear whoever was directing the robonoid expected him to be able to understand the odd language, but it looked like nothing he had ever seen before. Not even the writing that had been etched into the walls of the Kindergarten.

“My Diamond, I am so sorry for our deception. We were trying to follow your orders.” The Peridot sounded desperate, stepping forward as she spoke. “She came to us with an offer, and we thought it was the most efficient way of keeping the humans happy like you wanted.”

“What?” Steven finally pulled his eyes away from the writing to look at the scared gems.

“We should have told you. But…. But she’s Peridot 1! We thought she had permission! And by the time we realized, it was too late. If she went to White Diamond, who would watch the Zoo? The Humans?! The entire biosystem is too fragile to let someone else take over!”

“What are you talking about? Wait, Peridot 1?!” Why did that name keep popping up?!

“The Humans! We needed more, bu…Wait, you didn’t return because of that?”

“No! I came back because I want you to free the humans!” Steven snapped. “The humans you’re keeping captive! The Zoo’s mine and I order you to free them!”

The Peridots all looked at each other, before Squaridot swallowed.

“My Diamond… We can’t.” She admitted quietly.

Chapter Text

Peridot 4C9A was a failure.

To be unable to assist her Diamond in what should be a simple order, despite her vast intelligence. Unable to speak as her Diamond looked at her in shock. For the Peridot, it was humiliating. The only thing she had to be thankful for was that her Diamond hadn’t struck her down the moment she spoke for her insolence. It would have been exactly what she deserved.

Peridot remembered the days when her Diamond had been alive with fondness. She had always appeared so kind, even to lowly Peridots such as herself. How, away from the eyes of the other Diamonds, she had even appeared fond as her gems rushed to fulfil her every whim. Her laughter had been like music, rare but beautiful. But sometimes she had also seemed sad, watching the specimens of the Zoo adjust to their new lives.

And then she was gone, and the Zoo had been abandoned.

Not completely, Blue Diamond had graciously decided to keep the Zoo going in her Diamond’s memory, but in every other aspect. The Earth had been destroyed, and with it all of it’s Human specimens. All the Zoo had had was the paltry sample still in containment. It had worked as well as it could, until the young started to be born off color.

It had taken too long to realize that leaving the humans to breed as they wish had a detrimental effect on their health. Lowered fertility rate, inadequate blood circulation, sudden development of irregular thought process which included auditory and visual hallucinations. And the young… eventually it had been kinder to cull them then let them develop.

All of these results had been reported to Blue Diamond as expected. There had been hundreds of pictures of the evidence, videos of the ever-deteriorating state of the Zoo. All of it to prepare her for the eventual failure. But she never read the reports. In her mourning, her work had been taken over by Yellow Diamond who organized her work like she organized her army.

And the Zoo, understandably, was low priority. The paperwork they sent in detailing the status of the Zoo was never read, their pleas for help ignored.

Which was all well and good, Homeworld had much bigger priorities than their little Zoo. A relic floating in space, where the Diamonds hid the gems from Earth from sight. However, the lack of resources meant the conditions were deteriorating far too quickly to be controlled. Soon their human population would die and there would be no more specimens. Worse, they would fail their final order from their Diamond.

”Keep the humans safe and happy.” Pink Diamond had ordered before she left the Zoo, returning to fight the rebellion. Unaware that her bravery would lead to her shattering. Why had she been on the front lines, instead of letting herself be defended by her court? Why hadn’t they defended her to the death like they were meant to?!

They’d tried. They had tried so hard, but nothing had worked. Selective breeding, culling of imperfect specimens. They’d set up the routine for maximum stimulation, made more flavors of food. All their efforts had failed, driving the Zoo into a frenzy. How could they fix the problem? What could any of them do? Even Holly Blue Agate had been on the warpath, because she knew the failure of the Zoo would be laid on her shoulders.

Nothing improved. Not until the robonoid had appeared to them with a message. That the Earth had not been destroyed, and there were plenty of humans to take. Enough to redo the population of the Zoo and try again with healthier specimens. It had seemed too good to be true, but it was. A ship arrived with some humans, with a new message. That she would help the Zoo to get more humans when needed, all she needed in return was a few specimens of humans when in peak condition. No questions asked. The ship would come, take a couple and leave. The Zoo would always be left with enough humans for a decent breeding pool. The Peridot’s of the Zoo had agreed, because they had needed this. And when the gem revealed via message to be Peridot 1, there was even less reason to worry. They hadn’t wondered why she was leaving the humans with them instead of taking them straight to Homeworld, or who would be blamed if the plan had been discovered.

She was the first Peridot after all. It was said she worked directly for White Diamond, so surely her actions were sanctioned. And by the time they realized she was working on her own, without the backing of a Diamond?

They were in far too deep to back down. Not with the threat of treason hanging over them. And more importantly, they were fulfilling their Diamond’s final order. They were doing it to care for the Humans, how could they abandon the order now? When things were running smoothly?

And now, Peridot was looking at her Diamond. Steven, she was meant to call her. Her Diamond looked confused as she stared, was that betrayal in her eyes? Peridot hoped not, even if the reaction would be understandable. To refuse a Diamond’s order, it was tantamount to treason. The leading Peridot of the Zoo, Peridot Facet 1L9C Cut 7AF, had already been found guilty of treason.

She had assumed that the Zoo’s links to the White Court had been discovered by their Diamond. That would have been bad enough, but for her to want the humans to be freed

“Why not?!” Her Diamond demanded.

“The humans would perish.” If she was talking to any other gem, that’s where she would stop talking. She shouldn’t need to tack on any more of an explanation. She was doing her job, and she would not allow a gem to question her. But this was her Diamond, and Peridot wanted to explain everything. To be able to bask in her glory and attention after so long. “The Zoo is designed to be clear of anything that could harm the humans, including anything that can induce failure.

It had happened once, before the Zoo had implemented the sterilization spray. A human had been introduced, but something about their presence had damaged the other humans. The spiked temperature, sudden sharp exhalation of breath which seemed to hurt the specimens, displays of extreme pain, the symptoms had spread too quickly to be controlled. The humans had been dead within a week and the Peridot’s had been left struggling to find out how such a failure had occurred.

“Humans are incredibly fragile and there appears to be something on the plant which, if the humans are exposed to it, would cause them to experience potentially fatal malfunctions. While we have managed to eradicate these symptoms in the Zoo, sudden exposure to Earth would most like kill them.” She paused. “My Diamond.” She added apologetically.

Her Diamond’s face twisted in horror, meaning she hadn’t realized how dangerous the organic planet could be for her humans. But that was what Peridot’s were for, to research and advise. She was glad she had been useful to her Diamond before she was shattered. Would her Diamond do it herself? Or would her Diamond put her in a bubble until she could hand her over to a Hematite?

It wouldn’t just be her either. All of the Peridot’s in the Zoo had been involved with the treason. Her Diamond might even extend the treason to every gem in the Zoo. The memory of how Yellow and Blue Diamond had systematically purged every gem with sympathy to the rebels suddenly came to mind. How they had… interrogated every single gem until they were sure of the gem’s loyalty. Yellow Diamond had shattered the gems personally, ordering every shard to be collected for… something.

She didn’t want to be shattered.

Oh stars she didn’t want that.

She wanted to be loyal again. She wanted to go back to the days when she had been able to serve her Diamond, to follow her guidance and help her by providing whatever knowledge she had. It had been so difficult without her controlling hand, without her orders. But her final order had been impossible and they hadn’t known what to do.

“Well… you could… you have to be able to do something!”

What?

Her Diamond wasn’t shattering her?

“There are so many Peridots here, surely one of you can think of something?!” Her Diamond spread her hands wide, gesturing to the gathered gems around her. She looked so majestic; her pink eyes were steely with determination. As she stepped forward, her eyes falling on every gem as she spoke, she looked… she looked luminous. “You’re all too smart to just give up the moment something goes wrong!”

Her Diamond had complimented them.

“We tried so hard.” She choked, suddenly aware of the fact that she wanted to cry. “We tried to fulfil your order, but they were getting sick. We tried and we tried and we tried.”

Peridot was so sorry. As she took a steadying breath, grounding herself, she realised that the robonoid was watching her. The red eye was focused directly on her, with the screen underneath showing text.

”Greetings. I am Peridot 1.”

Oh Stars.

She had interrupted a meeting between her Diamond and Peridot 1.

There was no doubt it was Peridot 1. She was the only gem that still used the old writing system, refusing to adapt as had been required for every other gem. The letters were horrific to look at for the logical gem, the style irregular and the words imprecise. It was clear just by looking at it that it had originally been an organic language, the language of the creators.

She swallowed.

“…So can you at least try?” Her Diamond’s speech had continued, but Peridot had missed the majority of it. Any other time, she would have struggled to believe it. A Diamond was talking to her and she ignored the majority of the speech? It was a once in a lifetime event to merely be in the same room as a Diamond. But to have her talking to you as an individual? Like you mattered? Like she had faith in you?

She was just a Peridot, there were thousands of her. Each one just as well equipped as the last, working to keep the cogs of Homeworld functioning to its fullest potential. She had betrayed Homeworld, her Diamond. And her Diamond was so merciful that she was granting Peridot the right to continue working.

“Of course, my Diamond.” She breathed, hoping that her tone showed her devotion.

And if she was lucky, her Diamond would visit again soon to look at the humans. Hopefully by then she would have earned the right to bear the insignia of the Pink Court once more.

Chapter Text

The room was large, with windows running along the ceiling and showing the night sky. The room itself was clean, with a chest of drawers to the side and a TV in the corner. Neat piles of clothes rested near the wall close to the door, close enough that the person who had places them there wouldn’t have needed to enter. In the middle was a large bed, with a single human curled in the middle. His bare skin seemed to shine in the moonlight, covered with a slight sheen of sweat.

Lars tossed and turned in his bed, throwing off his duvet after a few minutes. The Zoo’s floor had been soft due to the fake grass, like lying on a marshmallow. After months of that, his mattress might as well have been wood. As well as that, he could now hear all the small noises he had tuned out before. The sound of the boiler when it turned on in the morning, the wind outside, how his parents were still talking downstairs. He could even hear the sound of the kettle boiling, the noise still so foreign that it bugged him.

They were probably discussing how they were going to find a therapist for him. How did you even start looking for one though? No one studied how to deal with alien abduction. He grunted and pushed his head into his pillow as he struggled to ignore the rising sun. It took him far too long to remember there was a clock to check the time and even longer for him to actually read the time. He blinked at the face of the clock, struggling to remember how to read it.

He groaned, realizing that he had been awake the entire night. At first it had been out of fear. What if he opened his eyes and he was back at the Zoo? Still inside that large cage, surrounded by touchy humans? What if it was all some crazy dream, and he hadn’t seen his parents or Sadie?

He pulled himself out of bed, the cool air rushing over his thin body. It was time to face reality.

Or at least, he told himself he would. He’d gathered his clothes, ready to have a shower and get ready to see Steven’s Dad and the other gems… but then he put them down and went back to bed. The thought of going out of his room, to face everyone else…

Lars should have been running out the door. He should have been happy to see everyone, to eat proper food and drink something other then odd tasting water. Instead, it felt safer to lie in bed. And wasn’t that just like him? Running from his problems? He’s ran from the party with the Cool Kids, he’d ran from the Yellow Gem and now he was hiding from his parents.

Lars blinked back the sudden onslaught of tears.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. He was home now, safe on Earth. No more Zoo. No more Choosening. He no longer had people touching him against his will, making him want to wash himself under the waterfall until he was clean. He shouldn’t be hiding in his room, hiding from problems literal light years away.

By the time he pulled himself out of bed, his limbs heavy and head full of fog, the sun had risen and made his room too bright. It had been up for hours and Lars’ room was now uncomfortably warm. Before, his parents would’ve been banging on the door to wake him up. On the Zoo, he would’ve been pestered the other humans and an earring to get up for the routine. His stomach growled, reminding Lars that he needed to get something to eat and drink.

Steven couldn’t eat anymore; he’d choked on the fruit when he’d tried to eat it. Steven was still on Homeworld, acting more and more alien and Lars wasn’t with him.

This time, he managed to leave his room. He managed to ignore how heavy his limbs were, stiff from how long he’d stayed in bed. He showered and used the bathroom before walking downstairs, ready to face the day. Lars paused before he reached the bottom of the stairs. His clothes rubbed against his skin oddly. It wasn’t painful, but there was a constant feeling of ‘not right’ in the back of his mind.

He breathed and forced himself not to smile.

”How do we know it's safe?” His mom was whispering loudly, her voice travelling through the otherwise empty house. His fathers reply was quieter, so quiet that Lars couldn’t hear it even as he strained his ears to know what was being said. ”Dante, we can't let...” The words became quieter as the conversation continued, until no amount of listening in would let him hear what was being said.

They were so engrossed in the discussion that they missed when Lars finally decided to walk in and moved to stand near the table. The room was brightly lit, the beams of light falling on the kitchen counter laden with various baked goods and recently bought groceries. The smelled of freshly baked bread tickled Lars’ nose and made his eyes water. His mom had baked him some pandesal, like she used to when he was younger. It was one of the first things she had taught him how to bake. The small rolls of fluffy bread had been placed in the middle of the table, with a small container of butter next to it. There was probably cheese to go with them in the fridge.

For a moment he enjoyed the sound of his parents talking, like they used to before he’d been taken. Then he scraped his chair against the floor as he pulled it out, announcing his presence as if he had just arrived.

“Larom… I mean, Lars! You’re up!”

Lars couldn’t have cared less what she called him; he was just happy to be home. Somehow, the kitchen with all of its clutter felt less stifling then the Zoo.

When Lars smiled, it didn’t feel like he was splitting his face in half. The tight mask that had felt like a vice was still there though, wanting to appear as his parents eyed him in worry. Lars had expected that though, so he wasn’t hurt as his mom watched him from the corner of her eyes as she went to make drinks and grab some cheese from the fridge for the bread.

Dante folded a piece of paper between his fingers slowly uncomfortably, unfolding it a few seconds later. He did that a couple of times before he sighed and put it on the counter. The small piece of paper sat in the open like a guilty secret, and Lars was certain that was what his parents had been whispering about before he entered.

“What’s that?” Lars asked, helping himself to some of bread. He kept his voice even, hiding how curious he was about that small piece of paper. It looked like a regular scrap of paper, clearly torn out of a note book but otherwise completely inconspicuous. If his dad didn’t look like it would bite him at any moment, Lars wouldn’t even have noticed it.

Dante sighed, picking it up again and holding it out reluctantly. Lars had only managed to see the start of a phone number when his mom snatched the paper out of her husbands hand and scrunched it up furiously.

“No! He is NOT going to talk to those… those…” She broke off sharply, her eyes shiny with tears as she struggled to find words. “No.”

“Martha, they were at the door this morning. He’s going to talk to them eventually.”

“He just got back! He needs to rest and… and… he doesn’t need to talk to those… those aliens!” Her voice broke on the final word and Lars realized what she was holding. It was a phone number, probably belonging to Steven’s dad.

The slightly sweet bread turned sour in his mouth, Lars fingers reaching out for the ball of paper without realizing.

“We just got him back! What if they come back for him? Are we supposed to believe that they just let him go? What if those aliens are working for the ones who took him?! Steven was taken and they just… disappear, and now that Lars’ back they keep coming over to see him? Demanding to talk to him like it’s their goddamn right!? Let my son talk to them after they hurt him?! No Dante, you saw what happened last night.”

Martha opened the little ball and tore it in half, then quarters. Lars was forced to watch, hand out stretched, as the little pieces of paper fell like snow to the floor.

He couldn’t tear his eyes from the black lines on the paper, his moms growing hysteria like static in his ears. Maybe he could put the pieces back together like a jigsaw. Some of the pieces looked big enough, it should be easy.

“He has the right to want to talk to Lars! His son is still missing!”

“And if those aliens take Lars again? What will we do then?! He was in SPACE, Dante! What are we going to do if he’s taken again?”

His mom stopped, choked by a loud sob that sent shivers down Lars’ spine. Another sob followed. Then another, and Lars watched as his mom broke down. She pulled off her glasses as she cried, and Dante gently took them to put them on the side before he hugged her. Lars moved and joined the hug, forgetting the paper on the floor. It was more important to remind his family that he was still there, that his return wasn’t just a fantasy brought on by desperate minds.

And if the hug helped slow Lars' beating heart, reassuring him that they were real and not just a lucid dream like he had had so many times on the Zoo, so much the better.

Chapter Text

Was it strange that Steven was starting to accept the mindless obedience of the Gems around him? It should feel worse than it did. Less then a month ago, Steven would have been horrified by the salute that Squaridot offered him. The way her eyes shone, even as she hid her worry. The way she leaned forward as she absorbed his every word. Perhaps this was how Blue and Yellow had become like they were. Surrounded by gems who would never speak against them, worshipping the ground they walked on.

Steven felt a stab of pain, because he couldn’t picture the Crystal Gems like this. Pearl? Sapphire and Ruby? If he ever saw them again, he hoped they wouldn’t start acting like this.

With that new hurt in his heart, he turned to the robonoid which still had text floating across the screen. For a device as advanced as this, it seemed odd that it was still writing. Surely the robonoid had speakers or… or some other way to talk. Why only text?

“I can’t read this.” He finally admitted apologetically to the small and damaged robonoid.

The writing stopped and was replaced with three dots, the robonoid seeming to tilt as the gem on the other side thought.

“My Diamond, I wish to offer my servi…” One of the Peridots in the room started to offer, her voice shaking so badly that it was hard to understand her. Before she could finish though, a cold voice filled the room.

“Con̷̨̧̟̲̈́̄̑̚͜͠nectio̸̧͔̜̳͍̩͎̜͕̪̼͌̾n̷̨̧̟̲̈́̄̑̚͜͠ es̵̯̯̱̖͎͇͇̠͗͊́͂̚͝tablished.”

Steven shivered. The voice sounded odd, the words laced with static. But as the voice kept speaking, it sounded… well, the voice sounded wrong. He couldn’t figure out what though. The static could be a sign of bad connection, so why did it set him on edge? The voice also made the other Peridots in the room exchange looks of worry. What were they meant to do? What was the appropriate behavior? They all turned to Steven for orders, but he wasn’t sure what to say either.

In the end, the voice decided for him.

“This̵̯̯̱̖͎͇͇̠͗͊́͂̚͝ meẽ̸͙͓͉̜̰ting is ṕ̵͖̒͊̚r̸̢̰̟̜̤̔̍͐ivate. Gẽ̸͙͓͉̜̰t o̸̧͔̜̳͍̩͎̜͕̪̼͌̾ut.” The Peridots didn’t move, Squaridot actually frowning at the robonoid. “The co̸̧͔̜̳͍̩͎̜͕̪̼͌̾nten̷̨̧̟̲̈́̄̑̚͜͠ts̵̯̯̱̖͎͇͇̠͗͊́͂̚͝ of this meë̶̮́͋̅͘tin̷̨̧̟̲̈́̄̑̚͜͠g are clas̵̯̯̱̖͎͇͇̠͗͊́͂̚͝sified far beyo̸̧͔̜̳͍̩͎̜͕̪̼͌̾nd your lë̶̮́͋̅͘v̴̢͉͂̽͂̈͠el, lë̶̮́͋̅͘ave.”

The Peridot’s faces fell in confusion, looking between Steven and the robonoid as they tried to work out whether or not they should stay. After all; while the robonoid was giving them much needed direction, their Diamond had yet to actually give them an order. Was it treason to obey if their Diamond didn’t say anything? The silence could mean yes after all.

“It’s ok. We can find another room.” Steven broke in, smiling reassuringly. The Zoo was huge. Why should the Peridots leave their labs if they didn’t need to? The robonoid moved itself slightly by lowering itself on one side, like someone tilting their heads in confusion.

“Very we̵͓̞̹̟̳͂̀̕͜ll, m̸̟͚͔̭̽͂͛̈́́̌͘͘͝y Diamond.”

The tone flattened as it spoke his title, the voice crackling more in displeasure. Steven swallowed on reflex, smiling nervously as the room watched them. After a moment Steven took a step back, his movement matched by the robonoid. After the first step it felt easier to move, no longer being held in place by his own nerves.

However, as he entered the corridor he realized that he had no idea where a spare room was. And the way the robonoid kept staring made it clear that Peridot 1 wasn’t going to be much help. He looked around for a sign of a door, he could remember seeing one during his walk though.

“…This̵̨̱̪̜̺̫̙̙͖̟͎̬̋͐́͊̀̊͂͒̈́̈́͑̓ wa̴͓͍̍̒̈́̋̾͝ẏ̴̡̨͈̠̜͉̘͖͖̈͌̒.” Apparently Steven had taken too long. The robonoid started walking quickly down the corridor, Steven having to almost run to keep up. “It hǎ̸͔͓̠͔̭͈̘̹̺̜̳͒̃͆̄͆̿s been ȧ̷̡̖̲͈̥͉̲̬̝ͅ long tim̸̟͚͔̭̽͂͛̈́́̌͘͘͝e̵͓̞̹̟̳͂̀̕͜ since we̵͓̞̹̟̳͂̀̕͜ la̴͓͍̍̒̈́̋̾͝st spoke, mẏ̴̡̨͈̠̜͉̘͖͖̈͌̒ Dia̴͓͍̍̒̈́̋̾͝m̸̟͚͔̭̽͂͛̈́́̌͘͘͝ond.”

“I think there must be… I’m not Pink Diamond. I’m Steven!” Hadn’t White Diamond told her that he wasn’t Pink Diamond?

“Yö̴̦̠͎̼̦͖͚͎́͋̔͗͘̚̚͝u are a D̸̨̞̝̬͎̙̟͎͚͍̖͛̎͆͜͠ì̵̠̦̹͙͙̙̙̓̈́̄̈̓͆̈̒̿̓͆͂̍͝am̷̘̣̣̤͔̤͎̖͇̓̂̾̾͠ond.”

“Well, yes. But…”

“You mą̴̢̖̟͎̖̺͖̻̫̳̼̆̊͐͐̊͒̏̔̈́̈̈́y not be thę̶̍̆͆̓͜ D̵̡̻͇̘̩̺̝͂͛͊̇̇̊͛̐̚͝ią̴̢̖̟͎̖̺͖̻̫̳̼̆̊͐͐̊͒̏̔̈́̈̈́mond, but yő̶͈̝͙̗͛̌u̵̮̱̞̫͙̹̓ ar̵̖̿́̃e a Diamo̶̡̢̭̱̾̒̔̒̂̇͝nd. And a Diǎ̸͔͓̠͔̭͈̘̹̺̜̳͒̃͆̄͆̿mo̷̻̗͚̪̦̪̲̬̬͊̿̅̈́̿nd dese̵̦̮̹͉͜rve̵̦̮̹͉͜s re̵͓̞̹̟̳͂̀̕͜spect, no̸̧͔̜̳͍̩͎̜͕̪̼͌̾ matt̷͚̯̙̄̃̿̓̚e̷̪̓̂͌̚r her… pȑ̶̲͒̏ę̶̍̆͆̓͜v̵̛̞̺͋͘͝ͅious actio̶̡̢̭̱̾̒̔̒̂̇͝ns.”

Steven flinched at the ice that dripped offer words. She was furious and even the crackles of a bad connection that seemed to remove all traces of emotion, he could hear the murderous intent behind the words.

“You mean the rebellion?”

“Wẻ̵̼̤̘l̵̬͊̆͜l, you reṁ̷̰̼̐͗ẻ̵̼̤̘mber tha̴͓͍̍̒̈́̋̾͝t at lẻ̵̼̤̘ast.” The robonoid stopped at a door and opened it with the tip of a front leg, leading Steven in and closing the door behind him. It looked like a storage closet, but filled with devices Steven didn’t recognize. He reached out to touch one and couldn’t hold back the delighted gasp as it lit up and started to float. The robonoid was not impressed. “I wí̵̯̜ļ̶̲̃l be bl̵͈̓͋unt. Į̸̱̈́̚ do nő̴̺͖͙͛͐̈́t̷̘̳̊̊ trust yo̶̫͊͘u, howę̵̜̪̇̎v̴̳̤͆̎͝ĕ̸̲͍͚̌r we bot̸͔͑h̶͉͍͇̙̀̚ h̴̗͔̟̘̔̃av̴͍̎͋̆e som̴̲̩̬̑ë̵̼́͐̋̌thing the other në̵̼́͐̋̌eds."

The static garbled so many of the words that for a second Steven wasn’t sure what she had said. He had to think carefully until it all slotted together. “But I don’t have anything.” He started. Then he realized that as a Diamond? He had all of the power. She could ask for anything and he’d probably have the power to give it to her. Was that what she wanted? But surely she’d be able to get anything she wanted on her own?

“I want̸̠͍͎̞́̌̽͊̔͜͠ t̸̠͍͎̞́̌̽͊̔͜͠o know how you did it̸̠͍͎̞́̌̽͊̔͜͠.” The robonoid lunged forward, the Robonoid’s leg tapping sharply on his gem sharply before Steven could dodge. “How did you get around the prő̴̺͖͙͛͐̈́gramm̷̞̭͋̂̇͌̈́̃̇͋̉̉̐̎ing?! How dì̵̠̦̹͙͙̙̙̓̈́̄̈̓͆̈̒̿̓͆͂̍͝d you hì̵̠̦̹͙͙̙̙̓̈́̄̈̓͆̈̒̿̓͆͂̍͝dĕ̸̲͍͚̌ what a c̵̨͈͔̋̍̈́̆̚͝ő̴̺͖͙͛͐̈́nniving s̵̯̯̱̖͎͇͇̠͗͊́͂̚͝tratą̷̧̭̘̜̪̯͔̏͆̏̇͛̕͝-gĕ̸̲͍͚̌m you wĕ̸̲͍͚̌ṟ̶̂̅͋̓̂͜e?! How dì̵̠̦̹͙͙̙̙̓̈́̄̈̓͆̈̒̿̓͆͂̍͝d you managĕ̸̲͍͚̌ to lead so mą̷̧̭̘̜̪̯͔̏͆̏̇͛̕͝n̸̨͍̤̜̪̦̺̭̲̱̍́̈́̆̔̉͌͠͝y gĕ̸̲͍͚̌ms t̸̠͍͎̞́̌̽͊̔͜͠o theiṟ̶̂̅͋̓̂͜ D̷̡̳̫̙̻̹̬̪̄͊̈́̔͗͒̓̓̌̾Ë̸̘̗͓̣̉̈́̃̍̀̃̎̾͋̎̚̚ͅͅA̵̡͙̱̳̼̼̯̮̣̥̞̫̾̔̎̓͂͊̓͋̍̄͜ͅT̵̨̤̼̏͐͠H̸̻̰̻͖͙̬̆̋͂̏̽̐̏͋̕͘͝S̸̢̺̠̜̍̅͑̈̿̅̿͜?!” The final word dissolved into static as she finished yelling. The taps on his gem sent pulses through him, like they were rippling through his core. “You betray̸̰̔̽͋ed H̴͔͈̫̹͐omewo̵̤̿rḽ̴̬̕d̶͇̪̣͚̊̅͋. You be̶̜̓̑̒t̵̼͔r̸̢̿͋̈́ayė̷̛̲̳̫͜d you̸̪͊r Cou̸̪͊rt. How did you̸̪͊ m̸͓̹͙̤͋̏a̵̪͚̫̙na̵̪͚̫̙ge the im̵̲̄̈́p̶̭̅̓̐͝ossibl̴̮͇̫͖͊̒̈͛ě̴̯̠̚͘?!”

Steven gasped in pain and covered the gem, stopping the leg before it could hit him again. Slowly, it pulled the leg back and placed it on the ground.

“I don’t know! I don’t have her memories!” The robonoid stilled, still leaning forward as if ready to pounce the moment Steven said the wrong thing. “I don’t even understand this programming, I never felt it until I became… this!” Steven waved at his pink body in frustration to emphasize his words. “I’m not her! I don’t even know anything about her!”

Why was Steven always being blamed for what his mom did? She was the one who had ran the rebellion!

“Y̴̠̻͉̻͐̈́͋͠͝ȩ̷̡̲̟̘̮̘͎͙͓̄̌̓͝͝͝s. My Diạ̷̡̞͛̎͘mond sạ̷̡̞͛̎͘id, how̵̛͒̊͜ever there m̷̨̧̧̟̞̭̬̙̠̉̌͌̿͝us̵̡̛͇̳̭̰̠̰̹̅͌̅̂̕͠t be s̵̡̛͇̳̭̰̠̰̹̅͌̅̂̕͠omething. The Cr̴̩̬͉̲̗̙̻̹̠̦̰͛y̸̰̔̽͋stal Gem̴̨̧̡̗͉̫͇̥̪̖̪̾̊͒̕s̷͕̿̃͆̄̄ on Earth. The res̸̢̢͇̞̟̪̐̍̽ĭ̵͎̮͙̹͎̰͎̤̭͎̠d̵̖̗̏̃̎̀̿̎͑̕̕ual̸͈̦̠͗͝͝ mem̷̮̼̗̒̎̈́͘ö̵̺̫̋̒̍̕͜͝rieş̶̮̬͍̤͂͊̍̍̈́̄͊͝͠ contạ̷̡̞͛̎͘ined inş̶̮̬͍̤͂͊̍̍̈́̄͊͝͠ide your gem. Maybe the sȩ̷̛̱͙̺̘͍̱̩̰̜͑͑́͝ͅc̵̡͕̮̜̈́̓͒̕r̷̳̊̇̈́et is hid̴̨͛dę̴̓n insid̴̨͛e your program̵̰̹̘͂̈́̈́̈́̿̈́̑̎̚̚m̵̢̢͚͖͎̺̫̿̚ing̷̤͚̅̉̊̂̐̓͂̏͘͘͝, a fault the attending Peridots missed. That change̷͙͉̜̝̳̖͋̄͒̑͛͛̊̎̐̀͜͜ͅs nothing. Y̶͎̙̝̮̮͕̲͎̏̽̀ou hȧ̶̜̂͝v̵̼̯͇͍͂́̄̚e what I wȃ̷͔͎̜͕͌nt, ȃ̷͔͎̜͕͌nd I can giv̵̼̯͇͍͂́̄̚e ÿ̶̱̫̣́͗̍̓͂͐̈́̚ou one of̸̨̗̩͍̮͈̗̑̕͝ the things̸͕̥͍̻̮̳͙̏̌̓͂̋̍̃͗͜͝ you trulÿ̶̱̫̣́͗̍̓͂͐̈́̚ de̷͙͉̜̝̳̖͋̄͒̑͛͛̊̎̐̀͜͜ͅsire̷͙͉̜̝̳̖͋̄͒̑͛͛̊̎̐̀͜͜ͅ.”

The voice turned smug.

“I̴͔̝̹̘̼̘͓̖̩͗̂̽̾̏͑ can̷̡̛̘̩̬̙̏͂̈́̂͋̚ gḯ̸̫͖͔̳̕v̴̤͠e you the Ệ̸̝͎͙̫̮̺̼̤̦̓̅̈͒͋̚͝ạ̷̡̞͛̎͘rth.”

Chapter Text

Sadie’s kitchen was pretty normal. Filled with warm light, a few dishes dotted around the room. A fridge was in the corner covered in notes, some with phone numbers and others with reminders like how Sadie needed to text her mom whenever she was going out. The only abnormal thing was the orange haired boy at the table, ready to drown his sorrows in hot chocolate while his friend listened to him.

“…And then she ripped up the number. I think she binned the remains when I blinked, because I couldn’t find them anywhere.” Lars grumbled. His head hit Sadie’s kitchen table with a loud thwak which made Sadie wince into her coffee. Lars had appeared at her front door less then half an hour ago, but already his mom had messaged him three times to ask if he was ok, where he was and if he was alone. Lars had muted his phone to stop the incessant ‘pings’ signaling a new message after the constant noise had started to cause a headache for everyone in the room.

Sadie felt a stab of sympathy for the panicked mother. Since the attempted abduction, the adults had become far more over protective. Even Dewey was more nervous about Buck going out now, trying to get Buck to help out around the house instead of hanging around with friends. (That fight had ended fairly quickly when Mister Dewey had realized Buck’s skill at escaping out a window.) Lars hadn’t realized how oppressive it had been before he returned, the continuous underlying paranoia that it could happen again at any point.

Which was why Sadie couldn’t be angry at Martha or Dante, despite how it was affecting Lars. It was a situation where no one could win.

“That’s rough.” Sadie nodded into her coffee. Right now, it sounded more like Lars was venting then needing advice. It would probably be more helpful to Lars if she continued to nod and listen. It had made the days after the kidnapping easier to handle for her after all. The therapy had helped, but so had meeting with friends for a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.

“I had to beg for ages to be allowed out the front door, but no ones been able to tell me where Steven’s dad is and no one was at the car wash. I left a note asking him to call me.” The tale continued.

Sadie sipped her drink delicately, certain even the sound of a sip would throw him off. While Lars was getting deep into the tale of how Ronaldo had tried to interview him about his time while abducted, she fired off a text to the Cool Kids and Onion. With luck they’d find Greg and send him to hers without attracting too much attention from some of the more paranoid adults. And if someone punched some tact into Ronaldo while they were looking for Greg, so much the better. That part of the text had been in capitals for emphasis.

So long as she worked in the Big Doughnut, Ronaldo was never buying doughnuts again. …Which meant nothing had changed, since Ronaldo had been banned over his attempts to interview her the day after the failed kidnapping. The man had been, and still was, a pest to everyone who had been involved in the kidnappings. It was probably only due to luck that Ronaldo hadn’t made things even worse for Jamie. That they knew of at least. Sadie made a note on her phone to check on Jamie when Lars left, he was probably running low on ice cream.

Lars sighed, before he threw back his drink and drank everything in one go.

“Anyway, I should start looking again. I only have so long before my mom drags me ba…” Lars was cut off by a rapid, panicked knock on Sadie’s front door.

Could it be? She knew Onion could find anyone in town if given a reason to, but she hadn’t expected him to be this quick. “Wait here.” Sadie didn’t notice how the order slipped from her lips as she darted out of her chair, almost knocking it over in her haste to answer. It had to be Greg; she couldn’t think of anyone else who would visit.

Except Lars’ mother. That would end badly.

Behind her, Lars quietly sat down and looked into his empty mug with tired eyes. Then, when he was certain no one was looking, he quickly wiped them and got up to refill his mug with water.

Sadie pulled open the door, ready to slam it shut if she needed to. It could be those weird guys in suits who always wanted to ask about anything she’d seen or heard on the ship, or reporters from weird conspiracy magazines who had somehow heard about the abduction. The last one she was certain had something to do with Ronaldo and his blog.

Greg was leaning on the wall near her door panting, looking like he had run the entire way to her house. It took a few seconds for him to catch his breath and move so he was standing more steadily in front of her, his skin still red and shiny from the exertion of rushing to get here. As he moved, she realized some of the marks on his clothes weren’t sweat, but a light blue liquid which had dried into something with the consistency of glue but sparkled like winter frost on a cold morning. The shine was so small you wouldn’t notice without the perfect lighting. And in one hand was a picture frame of a woman Sadie had never seen before, with pink hair that curled into tight ringlets.

“I’m really sorry, Onion only just told me and I ran the entire way here and… Is he still here? Can I see him?” Greg moved to look behind Sadie, eyes darting around for any sign of Lars. “It’s just me. I think… I think the Gems being there overwhelmed him last time. If that helps? I promise I won’t push.” He seemed desperate to not be sent away.

Sadie was suddenly very curious about how the first meeting had gone, because that was part of the story Lars hadn’t told her. But considering everything… it had probably gone badly. In front of her, Greg began to shift on his feet as he struggled to remain patient. Only the rules about manners where holding him back from rushing straight to Lars and asking his questions. His hand had tightened around the photo, although Sadie wasn’t sure why.

“It’s ok. Lars has been looking for you all day, he’s in the kitchen now.” Then, quieter so Lars couldn’t overhear. “Don’t mention giving his parents your number, it’s a major sore spot right now. His mom really doesn’t want him talking to you.”

A look of understanding crossed Greg’s face as he realized what must have happened.

“Oh… well, let’s go!” Greg began to walk past quickly, moving in the direction Sadie had pointed almost single mindedly. Just from looking at his feet, it was obvious that Greg was having to hold back from breaking out into a quick run.

They walked in on Lars refilling his mug, the water over flowing over the rim before Lars remembered to turn off the tap. He turned as he started to drink, and made a choking noise when he realized Greg was watching him from the door frame. Lars coughed loudly to clear the water from his lungs, helped by Sadie who had ran over to start hitting him on the back when she realized he needed the help.

Cough Th cough thanks.” Lars choked out, rubbing his throat. He took another mouthful of water, but his eyes were stuck on Greg. “Sadie, can I talk to Greg alone? This…”

“Sure, I’ll be… I’ll be outside if you need me.”

She moved outside and closed the kitchen door behind her. She knew how sensitive this meeting was going to be. It would be to do with Steven and how he was, and it was with a father trapped and unable to save his son. If she was in either of their places, Sadie would want privacy as well. But she found she couldn’t move, curious about what was about to be said. Would it hurt to listen for a few moments?

To hear about Steven and what had happened to Lars?

God, Sadie was awful for even considering it.

“…Are you feeling better now?” Greg asked gently. Inside the kitchen the chairs scraped the floor as the two men sat down. Sadie leaned in a bit to hear better. “Look, I’m sorry about… well before.” Something was placed on the table, although considering Sadie could hear it a better description would be dropped. “I’m just going to ask. When Steven reformed, did he look like… like this.”

It was Greg’s voice that pulled Sadie away. The raw pain that screamed that she shouldn’t be listening. That she should leave and let them talk. Her fingers uncurled from the handle slowly and she finally moved to sit on the living room sofa. She’d apologize when they were finished.

Ignoring the quiet voices from the kitchen, Sadie pulled out her phone and began to text her mom. She was going to make sure that no one came into the house until Greg and Lars were finished talking, even if it took all night.

Chapter Text

If felt like Sadie’s kitchen had dropped in temperature. Lars felt cold as he looked at Greg, but he wasn’t sure why. The sun still shone into the room, the table holding the warmth from the sunlight hitting it. Perhaps it was how nervous Lars was now. Because the moment was here and it was all Lars could do to not shiver in fear. What if he said the wrong thing? Or what if Steven’s dad blamed him for leaving Steven in space? Lars was older, he should have fought harder to stay.

Lars would blame himself. He already did.

Greg Universe had placed a photo on the table in front of him. Lars’ grip on his mug tightened, feeling for support from the cold porcelain as he looked down. He wasn’t sure what he expected, but it wasn’t a picture of Greg and a large woman in a white dress. Lars pulled the picture closer to himself. The picture of Greg was sweet, him looking at her with adoring eyes and a hotdog hanging out of his mouth. And the woman was smiling down at him, with long pink hair in ringlets and closed eyes in a white dress.

Lars shook his head and slid the photo back. It was clear how much the memento meant to Greg, the glass kept pristine.

“No, he still looked like… like Steven. He still sounded like him. But after this large woman k… ki…” Lars swallowed nervously; he could do this. “She killed him. Steven was screaming and…” Greg leant over and put a hand on Lars’, trying to look reassuring. He couldn’t hide his pain though, his eyes watery. The support was everything Lars needed to continue speaking. “But he is alive. His gem… it fell and there was this flashing light… and there was Steven. And when I saw him again, he still acted like Steven. But everyone was calling him Pink and Steven acted off. He was Steven, but Steven would never… He’d never use his shield to try to hurt someone.”

Lars couldn’t continue, because Greg leant over and hugged him tightly. Lars immediately tensed, every thought screaming to run. At the same time though, he needed this. His arms shook as he curled themselves around Greg’s neck. Why was it that all he could do was cry now? He was home. Everything was better.

Why did he still hurt? With the memories still flashing before his eyes and the guilt scratching at him from the inside, trying to make him bleed out until he was hollow inside. It was like everything Lars had been through wasn’t enough, which was wrong.

“I was put in a Zoo.”

Greg tensed, but Lars continued.

“I was put in a Zoo, surrounded by humans. It was so… It was awful. And all they wanted to do was be nice, but the gems got angry when I cried. Because I had to be happy, smiling at everything. There was a green gem, a Peridot, who showed… She showed me a brain. If I acted out… they were going to kill me.”

The hug tightened, the warmth sapping away any strength Lars had. He was so tired.

“I was placed in a Zoo to.” Lars tried to pull away, Greg moving his arms so Lars could sit back and see the understanding on the adult’s face. There was something about the haunted smile that was familiar. “I didn’t talk to any Peridots, but I get it. I’m probably the only person who does. It was like another world, where everything was wrong. The grass. The sun. Even the trees. Wasn’t it?”

Greg understood.

“Did they… Did you…?”

Lars shook his head, not wanting to finish the sentence. Because it was wrong to talk about. Men didn’t get raped. And even if they did, he hadn’t said no so it wasn’t… but he couldn’t have said no so would he have been able to give consent to begin with? Did that even matter anymore? Because it was over, and he was home.

Greg was silent, eyes distant as he thought.

“Almost. Steven rescued me. The humans… I don’t think they really understood what was happening to them. They were so happy and trusting, they acted so excited when the Choosening was announced. I… I don’t know.”

Greg must have noticed the flinch at the word. The way Lars’ hand moved to brush an earing that no longer rested there, because he immediately smiled and held up his hands. There was a note of tension as he spoke, sensing the need to change the subject immediately. Even though he’d broached the subject, Lars wasn’t ready to talk about it. He might never be ready.

“Let’s talk about something else. Tell me about something. Anything.”

“…Steven’s a Diamond.”

Greg… didn’t look very shocked. For a moment his mouth fell, but then he nodded to himself in quiet understanding. His fingers moved to stroke the picture of the woman gently, thinking over what Lars had said. His mouth thinned in sadness; eyes faraway as his fingers stilled on the woman’s face.

Lars used the moment to get some water, taking the time to look outside and feel the light on his skin. Grounding him as he remembered he was still on Earth, in Sadie’s kitchen and talking to Greg. The Zoo had never had the same ability to make you feel the warmth in the light. It was always the perfect temperature, neither cold nor hot. To feel the sun on his face was wonderful now, even though before he had hated it.

“I never knew a lot about Rose.” Greg said suddenly behind him. Lars jolted, the water splashing his hand but Greg kept talking. “She had so many secrets, I knew she was hiding them from me. I never pushed her though. She never told me she was a Diamond, I never told her that I was Greg DeMayo before I changed my surname. We fell in love with each other anyway, so it never seemed important.”

That… that was really sweet. From what Lars could see about their relationship, the photo and the way Greg spoke about her, the relationship between the human and the Gem sounded adorable. It made Lars smile slightly as he sat down at the table, drying his hand on his t-shirt quickly.

“He had a woman with him, blue with a gem here.” Lars pointed at his chest, signaling where the white stone had rested. “Pearl, who was obeying him. I think that if anyone tries to hurt him then she’ll protect him.”

Greg made a face of discomfort as Lars tried to give him some good news beyond He’s alive. Because the news that there was a Gem who would help protect Steven had to be a good thing right? Greg clearly recognized the name though, which was weird.

Wait, wasn’t one of the Gems Steven lived with named Pearl? Maybe that was it?

“I… I’m sorry that I left him.” Lars finally blurted out. “I tried to stay! I… But he… He had the Amethyst take me back to Earth! I should have…”

He should have stayed. He should have ran with Sadie, facing his fears for once. He should have fought back. On the ship. In that courtroom, where those women had taken Steven and Lars had been unable to stop them. All he had done was sat there and scream as Steven had been killed.

He was so sorry…

Lars was so, so sorry…

He tried to stop the tears, wiping them away with a tired chuckle.

“I can’t stop crying. Isn’t that pathetic? I’m back on Earth, and Steven’s still in space. What do I have to cry about?” The tears came harder and Lars wiped until his eyes stung. Greg placed some tissue into his hands, which was used to clean up the snot that was also running down his face. It was gross. Lars was gross. And he was pathetic, and so, so lonely right now.

“Have you actually spoken to anyone about this?” Greg asked gently. When Lars shook his head, Greg pulled out a pen and a piece of paper. Quickly, he scrawled a number and pushed it across the table. “I left this at your before, but here’s my number. If you need to talk, just call me. And if any reporters start to harass you, call Nanefua. She’s been chasing people out of town since the kidnappings.”

Lars took the number and nodded quietly.

“I need to go tell the gems about Steven. Pearl’s been clawing at the walls since you got back, almost literally.” Greg paused to think, straining before he brightened. “Oh, we’ve been working on a way to rescue Steven. Maybe you could come look at some point? The gems won’t let us help, but it might help? Only if you’re up for it though.”

“…I’d like to help…” Lars muttered, moving the number into his pocket so it was safe. He’d have to hide it when he got home. He wasn’t sure how, but saving Steven? Even if it was just carrying rocks so they were out of the way, he’d be there.

If there was any chance to help Steven, he’d be there.

Chapter Text

Peridot ‘hmm’ed and ‘ah’ed to herself as she watched the blue liquid mix inside of her mixer, constructed by mashing many human objects such as a blender and a microwave together. The radiation from the device made the water in the mixture vibrate as it heated, helping her compound merge into something closer resembling repair fluid. The science was basic to a gem of Peridot’s caliber, so it wasn’t surprising that such science had… eluded the other Crystal Gems.

Repair of the ship had continued to fail, as expected of a six thousand year old ship that had gone without necessary maintenance from Nephrites (who could both fly and perform basic upkeep) and Azurites who were tasked with full repair of ships outside of battle. The mere thought of the ship made the green gem shudder. The wires had been stripped of all protective covering, the power core had basically snapped in two with a crash landing. And the entire ship was outdated, lacking the ability to blend into Homeworld ships.

All worries she had raised and had been ignored. As expected of a Pearl and an Amethyst, jumping on what appeared to be the quickest way to achieve their goal.

That… That wasn’t fair. Peridot was judging on their gem again, which was incorrect. Pearls could perform feats of science and Amethysts… They tried? The Crystal Gem Amethyst was trying her hardest, even if she did not know how it worked. It was the same with the Garnet, who had proven herself useful in avoiding accidents and explosions. She had even prevented Peridot’s own work from exploding and destroying weeks of work.

So her way of thinking was still… flawed, despite Peridot’s best attempts.

It was complicated though. Peridot’s had to be certain of their work, after all how could you advise another gem if you doubted your own work? Your own calculations and procedures? A Peridot could doubt as much as a Diamond could, which was never. If you second guessed yourself incessantly, nothing would be done. More resources then you had were used up. And even your fellow Peridot’s would start to doubt your work.

If a Peridot doubted herself, what use was she to her colony? Her Court?

Stars. She was thinking defectively again. She missed receiving orders.

The mixing apparatus made a loud scraping sound as the repair liquid thickened too much to be properly mixed, making Peridot ‘tsk’. Pulling out the whisks (See Amethyst, Peridot did know the right words), the mixture hung trapped to the metal. It would take a sharp object to remove her current test sample and store it in the necessary container to prevent another explosion.

The large, pointy edged wedge of metal she had found in the shed would have to do. The blade of a ‘saw’, as the Greg called it.Thankfully, it wasn’t sharp enough to pierce a Peridot’s form. She didn’t have the time to recover from being poofed.

“Peridot!”

Hearing her name, Peridot snapped out of her thoughts and looked down at the results of her work. The small green gem cursed and slammed the now gently smoking goop back into the microwave, which had been altered so that the air wouldn’t affect the chemicals too severely. The blue smoke dissipated into the air slowly, making her sigh in relief. Explosion averted.

“Greetings, Garnet.” She grinned at the gem watching her from the fence.

Garnet had been trying to hold the two experiments in check ever since Steven had been taken and the rescue effort had begun, warping between the ship and the barn. However, she mostly stayed near the ship. This was understandable, as the ship was far more dangerous than Peridot’s attempts to synthesise a foreign substance. Peridot had mostly been working on her own, with Lapis helping to collect anything that Peridot needed from off world. So long as it wasn’t a Homeworld colony, then Lapis was willing to go there.

It was difficult, most planets were under Homeworld rule and were always looking for spies and rebels. That was how Lapis had been captured the first time. She had been a suspicious gem who had entered Homeworld’s solar system, not announcing herself to any of the sentries who guarded Homeoworld from attack. She was more careful now, becoming quieter after every trip for the foreign materials Peridot asked for.

But she was close. She was certain of it.

Perhaps that’s why Garnet looked so happy when she moved to sit next to Peridot, dwarfing the small gem with her height. Or maybe Garnet had seen something in the future. Something that had led her to this large, empty area. But whatever it was, Garnet didn’t say. Instead she quietly looked up at the sky, a small smile on her lips.

Vowing not to fall for Garnet’s attempts to make her curious (ok, maybe they were working a little), Peridot returned to the microwave with a small snarl. It was a few minutes work to cut off the slime and put it into another container so it was ready for testing. Peridot would once again return to the Galaxy Warp and use the glittering material on the broken warp pad, if it worked then the next set of preparations would need to start. The development of weapons for example.

Another set of limb enhancers would be nice…

No. That was old Peridot, who had needed to fit in with every other Peridot. She was new Peridot, a gem who could be small and useful! She would show everyone that she was perfect as she was, without the need to change herself! It’s just… being small was so inconvenient. You don’t realise how annoying it was until you’re asking other gems to help you grab things because they’re out of reach, too weak to move some of the heavier items in the shed. It would be nice to be a little taller.

Stars, it would be nice to fly again. She missed using her enhancement arms to fly around, surveying the land under her in wonder. She hadn’t had the chance to truly admire the planet when she thought that the end of the world could happen at any moment and now that she had the time, she didn’t have the ability to. At least she had her tablet to look at pictures and videos of odd organic phenomena.

Like Pangolins, they were so… weird... with their scales and clawed arms. Peridot had wanted to catch one to study, but all attempts to try to lay down traps in the woods had failed. Instead she had only caught ‘squirrels’ and ‘rats’. The Greg had screamed extra loudly upon discovering her trapped prey.

Garnet was watching her, the small gem reflected in her visor. It should have been threatening, this was a common intimidation tactic on Homeworld. Some gems liked to harass Peridots, and they were low enough on the Homeworld hierarchy that no other gem really cared unless it affected their own work. But when Garnet did it, it was almost impossible to feel intimidated. She always had a gentle air around her, helping to reassure most gems just by being there.

In hindsight, it was easy to realise that Steven had a similar air around him. What had made him so easily approachable? His facial expression? His size?

This would require further study.

“Can I help you?” Peridot finally asked, giving in to her curiosity. After a moment, her eyes widened. “Is something going to happen?!” She gasped, looking around quickly. Garnet didn’t move, still waiting happily.

“Greg’s going to be here soon with news about Steven.”

Peridot squeaked loudly, falling over in shock. She’d known that the humans Lars had returned, of course, but given the humans reaction to the sight of her she had assumed they would be waiting a little longer for news. Giving the human ‘room to breathe’ as Amethyst had put it. Which was an odd phrase, because humans didn’t receive more air if left alone. She had tested this on Greg and had disproven it swiftly, much to Greg’s apparent amusement. Why he looked so… pleased… as she gave her presentation to him Peridot still wasn’t sure, but she appreciated the audience. The Crystal Gems had disapproved of her attempts to study oranics, even if it had been through basic observation. She would consider telling him more about her work later.

Right now she was focusing on Garnet’s news. How could she be so calm?! News about Steven! She needed to clear the area, to make it safe for when Greg arrived! She needed her tablet to record the news for Lapis! She jumped up and began gathering everything, using her ferrokinesis to carry the things she couldn’t fit into her small arms. (So, almost everything.)

As she worked, Garnet got up and started to help as well. The tall gem moved gracefully as she picked up sharp bits of metal, plucking up bits that Peridot hadn’t even noticed and placing them in a rarely used corner. Peridot hadn’t realised how much of a mess she had made, with the explosions and constant attempts to improve her containers. She would attempt to be more careful. Perhaps she would give a robonoid a brush to clean as she worked.

She needed a new project after her repair gel was finished, making one would be a fun few days work.

As she stomped some dirt into a particularly acidic puddle, the warp released a beam of light into the air. Garnet looked up as the round human ran over waving his arms, smile blinding as he wrapped his arms around her.

Peridot looked at the water leaking from his eyes and prepared to attempt to pacify him. She had read that food was often used as a way to cheer up by humans, so perhaps she could gather some corn for him while he sought comfort from Garnet. The plant was growing well now, the yellow seeds making the rows of vegetables seem to glow in autumn weather,

It was easy to sneak off to gather materials. Garnet was patting Greg on the shoulder as he blubbered something, words slightly slurred from exhaustion. Why did he insist on running everywhere? He was past peak fitness for a human, so all he was doing was risking injury for himself. If anyone needed enhancers it was the Greg, who ran out of breath after a few moments of running. If he was going to be around the Crystal Gems, he needed something for self defence.

Something else to do.

She pulled one of the corn plants out of the ground, the roots dropping dirt as she walked back to the pair. This was something Steven would do, right? His behaviour always made no sense when he was trying to make someone happy, so she wasn’t sure.

“Oh, Peri…” Greg’s voice was light as he pulled away to look at her. As he turned, his words slowed to a stop.

“...My…” She coughed to herself. “My research indicates that ingesting ‘food’ will improve your mood.” She shoved the entire corn plant at Greg, the human catching it before it could hit the ground. Good, it would be hard for him to pick it up before the ‘five second rule’ could run out if it had hit the ground.

Greg eyed the plant, then Peridot. When he confirmed to himself that yes, Peridot had thrown a stalk of corn at him, he started to laugh. It started as a chuckle, his mouth twisting into a bright smile. Then it became louder, until Greg had doubled over laughing, the tears in his eyes running down his face as he tried to hug his stomach.

Peridot turned to Garnet for help fixing the defective human, but Garnet merely tapped her visor and returned to watching Greg gasp for air between the peals of laughter. Well, if Garnet wasn’t worried then perhaps Greg had not broken from his grief?

She watched for a few more moments and decided that perhaps, humans were just really weird.

Chapter Text

Standing in what had to be a storage room, Steven stared at the Robonoid. His eyes wide with shock at the words that had been said by the Robonoid with the finality of a bell toll. It was like the room had started to shrink in on itself, the words repeating inside his head over and over again. Because they couldn’t be real.

“I̴͔̝̹̘̼̘͓̖̩͗̂̽̾̏͑ can̷̡̛̘̩̬̙̏͂̈́̂͋̚ gḯ̸̫͖͔̳̕v̴̤͠e you the Ệ̸̝͎͙̫̮̺̼̤̦̓̅̈͒͋̚͝ạ̷̡̞͛̎͘rth.”

Steven stared at the small robonoid. The Earth? How could she… she just offer a planet as if it was a simple bartering chip? It was difficult to comprehend. A planet… She was offering him the Earth.

“You… You’re lying.” His voice trembled as he tried to think. She was offering the Earth for… information about Pink Diamond? How could she even offer the Earth? It belonged to Blue Diamond, right? She had been on Earth, had stopped Yellow Diamond from destroying it. But Yellow had had the Cluster put into the middle of the Earth, so it could be hers? “Stop lying.”

The robonoid was quiet, watching Steven quietly react to her words. The red eye never moved away from the confused gem. He turned away and bit his lip, squeezing his eyes closed until the small, beaten robonoid was out of his sight. He didn’t want a planet. He didn’t! Especially not the Earth. The Earth was where his friends and family lived! He couldn’t…!

But what if he did? It would be his. Everyone would be safe, and he could live there instead of being trapped on Homeworld. If he owned the Earth, then he could travel in between the two worlds, he could see his dad again. And Pearl, Amethyst, Peridot and Lars… He could have everything.

And that was why this had to be a trick. It was too perfect. As he focused on how she was clearly lying, a part of his ability to think cleared. It was easier to focus on how this could hurt him and his gems.

“I̴͔̝̹̘̼̘͓̖̩͗̂̽̾̏͑ hă̶̭ṽ̶͙e n̵̙͋o reạ̷̡̞͛̎͘son to lie.” The voice actually sounded insulted at the accusation, as if the very idea of her lying was inconceivable. “Y̷̰͊͝ỏ̶̪̪̰̝u̶͖̠̗͘͝ d̶̹̓̆̀͜on̵͖̆t u̷̩̜̓̈́n̵͖̆derstan̵̙͋d wḥ̶̊y̸̤̾ this̵̻̾ is̵̻̾ i̸̼̿m̶̹̀pȍ̵̗rtan̵̙͋t̶̮́, do̸͛̽͘͜ yȍ̵̗ū̸̩? Th̸̜̐in̵̮̑k, m̵͍̂y Ď̴͉̠ͅiam̵͍̂ond?”

Steven felt a shiver run down his back as her voice turned bitter. Once again, the title sounded wrong as she spoke it.

“A Ď̴͉̠ͅiạ̷̡̞͛̎͘mo̶͈̾n̶͕̋d d̵̤́oes wh̴͕̒ä̴͖́t is bes̵t for her C̵̬͝o̵̤̾urt. She leä̴͖́ds̶̗̈́, s̶̗̈́he proţ̴̈́e̴̠c̷̠̑ts̶̗̈́. And m̸͕͊ost imp̶͖͠ortan̶̛t̶̥̏ly, she is̶̗̈́ loy̶̛̝a̷̘͌l to them̸͕͊.” Upon seeing the look of confusion on Steven’s face, the robonoid sighed to itself impatiently. “Hö̵̬́m̷͇̔eẘ̵̼orld is in the mid̶̪͋dle of ä̴͖́ r̸͍͌esource criș̴̉is, corr̸͍͌ect? We ke̷̮̒e̷̮̒p ș̴̉calin̵̼͝g bac̶͌ͅk̶̺̍ pr̸͍͌oduction, creating infer̸͍͌ior̸͍͌ gems to try to make what we have last for̸͍͌ as long as p̷̗̓oș̴̉ș̴̉ible. And all the while, the p̷̗̓lanetș̴̉ with coloniș̴̉ation p̷̗̓otential are bei̶̙̓n̵̰̏g ṷ̵̽ŝ̴͖ē̸͓d up faster than p̷̗̓redicted.”

“Uh… I think so?”

“So why ä̴͖́ren’t Yellow or B̶̩͝lue Ď̴͉̠ͅiạ̷̡̞͛̎͘mo̶͈̾n̶͕̋d c̸͕̅olonising the Eä̴͖́rth? Why wä̴͖́ste the resourc̸͕̅es the plä̴͖́net holds on a geoweä̴͖́pon we don’t ac̸͕̅tu̷̻͛ally̴̩͌ ne̶̫͂e̶̫͂d? Why did P̸̢̓iṉ̴̕k Diamoṉ̴̕d start a civil war, wasting the ̴̧͗a̴̭̿l̷̬̅r̵̳͘eady dwiṉ̴̕dling resources on yet aṉ̴̕other poiṉ̴̕tless war? Why has their persoṉ̴̕al needs beeṉ̴̕ continuously placed in front of the needs of their colonies? Why did the coding fail?”

He… hadn’t thought of that. Even the thought of wasting resources that could help for a non-existent court was bothering him, because he wasn’t meant to do that. He was supposed to use them in the way that would be best for the gems under him, so they could work at their best for him. He shook away the whisper in his head and made himself focus on Peridot.

“Besides, offering the planet you call Earth is no hardship for me or the White Court. It is merely an unclaimed rock, inhabited by organics so unadvanced they are still unable to use light speed travel. While resource heavy, finding the fault in the coding is far more valuable for Homeworld. And it has been invaluable to my research. Your Peridots have been very accommodating.” The robonoid chuckled quietly, an emotionless little tone filled with static. “And now, according to my calculations it would be most useful with you as your colony. You, at least, would do something with it. Colonise. Research. You may merely live on it with your… organics.”

The offer sounded so tempting. He could bring the Off Colours to Earth, let them live in peace. They would be happy there, especially with the Crystal Gems. They wouldn’t have to worry about potentially being shattered for being wrong. It was the best thing he could do for them, they would be so happy.

No.

“I don’t want the Earth.” He muttered, because he didn’t. It wasn’t him pushing to accept the deal, it was what had woken inside his mind. The little whisper that was so tempting, making him think the way it wanted. Because why would the previous him have ever wanted the Earth? He would have never even considered accepting it.

The robonoid had stilled, watching him like a predator watching its prey.

“Of co̸͛̽͘͜u̷̩̜̓̈́rse you wa̴̼̪̘̼͝n̵̨͕̒͑̆t the pla̴̼̪̘̼͝n̵̨͕̒͑̆et! Yo̸͛̽͘͜u̷̩̜̓̈́’re a Ď̴͉̠ͅia̴̼̪̘̼͝mon̵̨͕̒͑̆d.”

“It’s wrong. It… you can’t just offer a planet! People live on it! My friends and family, the Crystal Gems! It’s… it’s…”

“A planet. One with a very bleak future unles̴̩̎̇̉s you take it. Or do you thi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nk Yellow Diamond i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓s going to mi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ss the fact i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓t hasn’t emerged yet?” It paused, watching Stevens' reaction before continuing. “The Clustȩ̶̹̌ͅr̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓s hě̶̹ͅr main pr̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ojȩ̶̹̌ͅct, ȩ̶̹̌ͅventually shȩ̶̹̌ͅ wi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ll as̴̩̎̇̉k her pȩ̶̹̌ͅrsonal Sapphi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓rȩ̶̹̌ͅ or Peri̶̻͂̈́̈́̓dots̴̩̎̇̉ about i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ts progress̴̩̎̇̉. What will they s̴̩̎̇̉ay, now that i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓t has been di̶̻͂̈́̈́̓sablȩ̶̹̌ͅd by a bubble? It would be s̴̩̎̇̉uch a s̴̩̎̇̉hame i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓f a gȩ̶̹̌ͅm was to send her a r̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆eport. It would be a fasci̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nating r̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ead though, wouldn’t you agr̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ee?”

No…

Nonononono

She knew?!

How could she know? If Homeworld could observe the Cluster, why send Peridot? Why was she bringing it up now? What was he supposed to do? “You.. you…”

“I trus̴̩̎̇̉t wȩ̶̹̌ͅ have a dȩ̶̹̌ͅal? The i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nformati̶̻͂̈́̈́̓on I want for the E̶̡͆arth?”

His eyes burned as he nodded. This… this wasn’t fair…

The peridot made a noise, but it would have been anything. Disgust. Amusement. Laughter. Steven wasn’t sure, and he honestly wasn’t in the right mindset to translate.

“I wi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ll be fai̶̻͂̈́̈́̓r̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆. Acco̸͛̽͘͜r̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ding to Pear̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆l 5, you ha̴̼̪̘̼͝ve questio̸͛̽͘͜ns̴̩̎̇̉. I will a̴̼̪̘̼͝nswer̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ o̸͛̽͘͜ne. That s̴̩̎̇̉ho̸͛̽͘͜uld be suf̵̛̤̺̺͕͐̚f̵̛̤̺̺͕͐̚ici̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ent recomp̷̮̾̌̕͝ens̴̩̎̇̉e for up̷̮̾̌̕͝setti̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ng you, cor̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆r̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ ect?”

That… that was such a Peridot way of thinking. He could imagine his Peridot doing the same thing. Normally, that would make him laugh, because something about that amused him. Was that something built into Peridots? The urge to hunt for information?

A single answer. He could ask anything. What was happening to him? What was she doing with the humans? How did she know about the Cluster? But even as he thought, he remembered something Sapphire 1 had told him, back when they were walking to the Kindergarten. This could be his only chance to ask.

“What was your deal with my m… Pink Diamond?” It was probably the best question he could ask. What if in the future they tried to hold him to it? A deal he didn’t know the details of. It could tell him more about her… What did she agree to?

“...S̸̻̲̺̘͆̍̂app̷̮̾̌̕͝hir̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆ e 1 told you m̸̢̰̀͘͠or̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆e tha̴̼̪̘̼͝n I exp̷̮̾̌̕͝ected. Ver̸͉̭͕̟̿͆̆y wel̵̯̖̭̫̃l̵̯̖̭̫̃.” She hummed to herself tunelessly, before she began to talk slowly. Every word was said as if it was being planned extensively as she spoke. “Pink Dia̴̼̪̘̼͝m̸̢̰̀͘͠ond wa̴̼̪̘̼͝nted a col̵̯̖̭̫̃ony. She wa̴̼̪̘̼͝nted i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓t to the poi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nt that she da̴̼̪̘̼͝m̸̢̰̀͘͠aged her Pearl̵̯̖̭̫̃ in her fu̷̩̜̓̈́ry. Something u̷̩̜̓̈́nforgivabl̵̯̖̭̫̃e for a Diam̸̢̰̀͘͠ond, a m̸̢̰̀͘͠atriarch of her gem̸̢̰̀͘͠s.”

Her… Pearl?

“That was when I a̴̼̪̘̼͝pproa̴̼̪̘̼͝ched her. She fel̵̯̖̭̫̃t… ba̴̼̪̘̼͝d, I’m sure. She ha̴̼̪̘̼͝d ruined a̴̼̪̘͝ perfectl̵̯̖̭̫̃y a̴̼̪̘̼͝dequate gem̸̢̰̀͘͠ i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓n a tem̸̢̰̀͘͠per tantru̷̩̜̓̈́m̸̢̰̀͘͠. The Pearl̵̯̖̭̫̃ could not be repai̶̻͂̈́̈́̓red and wa̴̼̪̘̼͝s… di̶̻͂̈́̈́̓spos̴̩̎̇̉ed of. It was a̴̼̪̘̼͝ss̴̩̎̇̉umed a̴̼̪̘̼͝ Colony would force her to ma̴̼̪̘̼͝ture, thus we a̴̼̪̘̼͝pproached her. The dea̴̼̪̘̼͝l was si̶̻͂̈́̈́̓mple. We would convi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nce Whi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓te Dia̴̼̪̘̼͝mond to give her a Colony, and i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓n return when i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓t was requi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓red, s̴̩̎̇̉he would accept gems from the Whi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓te Court i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nto her own. The redi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓stributi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓on would be quick and pri̶̻͂̈́̈́̓vate, wi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓thout interference from Yellow Diamond. She agreed. We kept our word. She di̶̻͂̈́̈́̓dn’t keep hers.”

“Redistri…? What?”

That is̴̩̎̇̉ pri̶̻͂̈́̈́̓va̴̼̪̘̼͝te. However, I s̴̩̎̇̉u̷̩̜̓̈́ppose I cou̷̩̜̓̈́ld tell you. It wi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ll requ̷̩̜̓̈́ire you to co̸͛̽͘͜me to̸͛̽͘͜ me, ho̸͛̽͘͜wever. You…” She hesitated, far longer then she had before. Steven was starting to worry that the robonoid had broken when she started talking. “You wi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ll o̸͛̽͘͜nly truly understa̴̼̪̘̼͝nd the situati̶̻͂̈́̈́̓on when you see i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓t. I res̴̩̎̇̉ide i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓n W̵̻͓͙̃hi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓te Di̶̻͂̈́̈́̓amond’s tower, the large hea̴̼̪̘̼͝d i̶̻͂̈́̈́̓n the W̵̻͓͙̃hi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓te Sector. Ask a̴̼̪̘̼͝ny gem̸̢̰̀͘͠, and they wi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ll p̷̮̾̌̕͝oi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓nt yo̸͛̽͘͜u to̸͛̽͘͜ my o̸͛̽͘͜ffi̶̻͂̈́̈́̓ce.”

Before Steven could talk, the Robonoid turned and walked away. It climbed a wall and disappeared through a secret door in the wall. The panel moved back into place as if it had never been there, leaving Steven in the store room alone. He blinked, trying really hard to work out what had happened before his eyes moved back to where the Robonoid had been stood.

On the ground, lying innocently as if it had always been there, was a small glass tablet. The edges were lined in delicate bronze, curling around the corners. Hesitantly, he picked it up and touched the middle. The glass glowed for a few moments, but when Steven couldn’t do anything else with it, the device turned off again. He searched his suit, but realised that it didn’t have any pockets. They hadn’t even crossed his mind when he was designing it. And he couldn’t figure out how to carry it in his gem.

So, he’d have to carry it.

That was fine.

Leaving the storage room on the other hand, that was a problem.

Chapter Text

It would probably be a permanent regret that Yellow Diamond hadn’t checked the paperwork of the Zoo earlier. It had been the only work she had left for Blue to do, she had been the one to insist the Zoo be allowed to remain after all. Yellow would have preferred to kill the specimens and rip apart the Zoo for anything that could be reused. Find something of value in the relic.

But no, Blue had insisted that she could look after the Zoo. It was Pink’s! It was something to remember her by!

And now Yellow was flicking through around 10,000 years of reports that hadn’t been organised or even summarised until Yellow had given them to her Pearl. Blue’s Pearl had looked ready to cry when she realised that Yellow Diamond was examining all of the paperwork with a critical eye. Yellow should have made time for this as well.

Yellow’s eyes moved slightly to look at Blue, making sure the Diamond had not started making more… plans. Yellow had already interceded in Blue’s plans to host a ball to reintroduce Pink and a plan to take Pink to Homeworld’s main labs. Yellow had had to remind her that they still had to look into the rebels on Homeworld, even if White ‘had’ found the main conspirator. Something Yellow still doubted, Sapphires weren’t the type of gem to run rebellions. They advised whoever was leading it.

For a moment something made her blink. White had captured the gem, so why was she so worried? What was she fighting against?

No.

No, she was going to discover what White’s plan was.

Something was wrong and she knew it, but she couldn’t focus on what. And that had driven her to double check Blue’s work on the Zoo. The very fact that she had considered ignoring White’s involvement meant…

She closed the paperwork so she could think about what she had already learned. Everything looked to be in order, she wasn’t sure why Blue’s Pearl was watching, looking more worried than a Pearl had any right to be. A Pearl was to be graceful and beautiful, a gem to help the Diamonds do their work and cheer them up when they were upset. Sensing the Diamonds disapproving gaze, Blue Pearl immediately turned to the door.

Of course, she was worried about Pink and her… display.

Threatening the Agate and storming away like a gem who didn’t have any consequences to worry about.

In a way it had been a relief to see Pink acting normally again.

On the other hand, Pink was acting like herself again. And that definitely wasn’t a good thing when White was talking about wanting to see her. Not that White would shatter Pink, of course. Maybe she would just stick Pink in a bubble for a few hundred years, until she learned some manners. Which could lead to a bigger problem if White was altering memo...

Or, if they were all really unfortunate, White would give Pink another colony with that smile. The one that showed that she had a plan, but you wouldn’t guess what it was until centuries down the line. The one she had worn the first time Pink was given her own colony, after Blue and Yellow had approached her about allowing it.

Why had Yellow and Blue also approved it though? Pink had matured, but not to the point of deserving a colony. White had even gifted her a second Pearl after Pink had ruined her first one, without waiting to make sure Pink wouldn’t do it again. It had all seemed so rushed and disorganised, which was unlike the White Yellow knew.

Why didn’t Yellow protest more? Why had she just accepted the fact that Pink had a new Pearl so soon after her first one had had to be shattered? What was she missing?

The question kept floating around the edge of her mind as she thought. She couldn’t be missing something that important. She wasn’t Blue, who swung through emotions so fast that she always missed the bigger picture. So, what was missing from the bigger picture?

“Yellow?”

Blue’s voice was gentle as she spoke, which did little to settle Yellow’s nerves. Yellow couldn’t even demand answers from her or the gems of the Zoo right now. Not without looking like she was questioning Blue’s authority, and Yellow refused to do that. It was a delicate power balance between the Blue and the Yellow Court, one that was already far too close to toppling over. The only gem that should have that much power was White, the all powerful matriarch of Homeworld. The shining beacon who guided all gems to betterment.

If Yellow looked like she was about to also take over the Blue Court, White would step in to ensure the power balance was restored any way she needed to. Yellow couldn’t afford to risk her wrath while she was looking into this.

“I’m fine.” Yellow dismissed, bringing up some different paperwork. Something was wrong.

“Oh, no! I was just…” Blue looked down again, grief clear in her eyes. Yellow wanted to scream, because why was she so upset?! Pink was here, and she was fine! Why did Blue look so sad? “It’s something Pink said… when she was rescued from the rebels.”

The paperwork closed quickly. A sign of Yellow’s anger at only being told this now. How long had Blue been sitting on this information? Why didn’t she tell Yellow immediately?

“She said… she said she wasn’t Pink.”

Yellow could already see how well that had gone, Blue as compromised as she was. She had probably ignored everything Pink had tried to say after that, sending her away before acknowledging the problem in front of her. The problem they were already trying to fix.

“Which is why we’re arranging to take her to White. To have her memories restored.” Yellow dismissed Blue’s worries easily, because that was one problem they were already working to solve. Pink would regain her memories, and that would be that. Until that solution failed, she wouldn’t spend any more time worrying about it.

Time was far too valuable a resource to waste worrying if there was already a plan.

Yellow refused to become like White, sitting back doing nothing when there was work to do. Homeworld required it’s Diamonds to focus on the needs of every single gem working for it. From the Calcites to the Sapphires, a Diamond cared for each and every gem under her care. She couldn’t waste time mourning some war that had happened billions of years ago.

The Faction War had been such a waste, just trying to think about it made Yellow want to despair. Nothing had been gained, only lost. Not that Yellow would ever state that aloud. It wouldn’t do to question Homeworld’s leader aloud.

“I… It’s just that something seems wrong. Pink feels so sad. She’s so lonely, and I don’t know why.”

That wasn’t right.

That wasn’t right.

Blue didn’t talk like that.

Yellow stared at the blue gem wide eyed, but Blue didn’t notice. She’d placed her hand on her forehead as she thought about something, muttering quietly to herself.

“She’s always been sad, but also so angry. It was so powerful, the anger. Seeping out of her and infecting other gems. Why didn’t I… Why…” Blue looked up and saw Yellow’s horror. “I’m sorry, were you saying something? We were discussing the Zoo, I think?”

The paperwork suddenly seemed much less important.

Chapter Text

The sight of Greg was such a relief that Pearl actually sighed at the sight of him. She placed a hand over her chest, the small imitation of human behaviour settling her. Greg looked happy, holding what looked like a stalk of corn in his hands like one would a bouquet. To the side of him, Peridot looked smug as she loudly told Garnet about how the organic plant helped settle Greg’s mood. The small gem waved her hands wildly as she gestured at Greg, especially when it became clearer that the corn was actually longer then she was tall. It would have been an interesting sight to see her dragging it around without damaging the organic material of the stalk.

Pearl considered explaining to her that humans didn’t actually work like that but instead decided to focus on Greg, who had visited Lars on his own despite Pearl wishing she could have gone with him. Just for some news on Steven. But Greg was currently happy, laughing loudly at Peridot’s excitement. The small green gem hopped from foot to foot, telling a story that made Garnet smile slightly.

That was a good thing though, because Garnet would know if Greg’s news was bad right? The future vision couldn’t fail to see that right?

(Even if she had missed Steven had been taken and how could she have missed that? She was should have saved him, even if Pearl couldn’t…)

Pearl sighed and tried to stand straighter, she still couldn’t circumvent her Diamond’s final order. All her attempts, her private pleads as the words glued her lips together so nothing could pass, nothing helped. She wanted to keep trying, she knew she had to but… she felt so miserable. The news that could help was locked away in her mind, and it was easier to focus on other attempts to save Steven. The ship or Peridot’s repair gel.

Easier to focus on what she could do, then face what she couldn’t. She was a failure of a Pearl, she couldn’t help Rose and she couldn’t save Steven.

Greg finally noticed her and walked over quickly, the stalk of the corn dragging a pattern into the dust on the floor. Pearl immediately wanted to get a broom to clean it, to make herself useful. But the knowledge that Greg was about to finally tell her what she needed to hear. The bright smile as Greg moved to hug her was like seeing the sun again. That wasn’t the look of a human who had been given bad news, which meant the news was good and Pearl hadn’t lost Steven like she lost R…

“Pearl! I have good news!”

Amethyst walked over as well, just as desperate for news as Pearl, Peridot and Garnet.

Greg waited until everyone had walked close enough, then he started talking. It was like the dam had burst, he couldn’t stop the words as they tumbled out. Not that he would have tried. No one moved until Greg reached the point of Steven’s new eyes.

Her Diamond’s eyes.

“So… Steven is a Diamond? How is that possible? Rose… Rose was a Quartz!”

Pearl didn’t know who had said that, all she knew was that something clicked inside her. The order had been chains around her psyche, ever tightening and choking until all she could do was whimper as she scrambled for something. But the words removed the chains and freed her.

She could have cried.

She could have hugged the speaker as she thanked them profusely.

What she did was scream. Because the chains had been there for 10,000 years and she had been fighting them for so long. Ever since she had failed and lost Steven, like she had lost her Diamond and she had lost Rose so soon after. It didn’t matter if it was 10,000 years, it would always have been too soon for Pearl.

Rose was Pink Diamond!” Pearl yelled. Her hands clamped over her mouth after the yell out of habit, but the words had fallen past her lips and that… that was such a relief. She no longer carried such a heavy secret from her friends.

For a moment the room fell into silence. Garnet looked cold and emotionless, Amethyst’s mouth had fallen open in a silent scream of shock and horror, Peridot looked like the world had fallen into place around her and Greg… Greg looked at her in pity, like he now understood the weight Pearl had been carrying.

And he couldn’t. No one could. Part of Pearl wanted to resent Pink Diamond for that, but she couldn’t. Because Pearl was Pink Diamond’s Pearl, and Pearls couldn’t hate their masters. Pearl had lived for her Diamond for so long, and then she had had nothing.

“WWWWHHHHHHAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTT?!” Amethyst screamed in shock, mouth falling even further. The shock made her voice crack the longer the noise continued, and when it finished her mouth continued to hang in a testament to her shock.

Garnet turned slowly so her back was to the group, quietly she moved her hands to hold her elbows in a tight hug. The tall gem started to mutter to herself, her two halves conversing aloud. Distress tainted the words as the tone flipped between Sapphire’s emotionless calm and Ruby’s impassioned fury. Pearl moved to put a hand on her shoulder, ready to apologise for not saying anything. Something stilled her hand though and she pulled away. She didn’t want to upset Garner anymore then she already had. She wasn’t even sure what she could say to try to help.

“Well… I guess that makes… sense.” Peridot mused aloud. Garnet stopped muttering, turning back to slowly look at the small gem. Peridot didn’t notice the sudden aura of danger and kept talking to herself. “Steven has always felt… safe. Reliable. Like you could listen and everything would be… ok. How did I miss this? There were so many hints!”

“Safe? SAFE? Steven’s a Diamond! He’s PINK Diamond, you know? Who Rose apparently shattered! How… how is this possible? And why couldn’t Pearl tell us? That’s why you were going crazy, wasn’t it?” Amethyst sounded so… gentle as she turned to look at Pearl. The sudden clarity turned her shock into horrified pity, and Pearl floundered for a response. “That… That’s why you kept covering your mouth… you… couldn’t tell us.”

“I… I wanted to tell you so much. But Rose…”

Garnet started muttering to herself again at the mention of Rose, shaking her head as she struggled with herself. “We trusted her! She must have had a reason… She LIED!” The final mutter was a yell of rage that had the gem split into two, Ruby and Sapphire falling away from each other as they separated.

The small blue gem rose, the room developing a chill as she walked toward the door. It was clear from how… controlled her movements were that it took every ounce of self control to not run out. “I need a moment.” Sapphire announced with the finality of a blizzard. Ruby stood and chased after Sapphire with a small cry, leaving footprints of fire in her haste to keep up with her.

“You shouldn’t be angry at Pearl. They’re made like that.” Peridot continued to prove her lack of awareness as she spoke, but gratitude rose up in Pearl as the small green gem spoke. Of course Peridot understood. She probably understood better then Pearl, having been created to ensure that gems followed the reason they were made. “Their owner gives them an order and Pearls have to obey, Pearl couldn’t tell anyone if Pink Dia…. Rose… Rose Quartz... If Rose had ordered her not to say anything. The order is probably still active depending on how it was worded.”

Still active…? Stars, Pearl hoped not.

“Wait, so Pearl had to obey Rose? Even if Pearl didn’t like the order? She just… obeyed?!” Greg suddenly looked green, any joy from earlier had changed into horror. Amethyst, being Earth-born also looked horrified. Amethyst had probably never thought about what it meant to serve on Homeworld, trapped in your place in the hierarchy for all of time. Honestly, Rose, Pearl and Garnet had never tried to explain when they realised Amethyst’s coding wasn’t working properly. They were safe on Earth, and some things were better left behind. They hadn’t wanted to remember, and Rose would always look so guilty if someone had mentioned it.

Besides, Amethyst had the freedom to be herself. The Crystal Gems has learned so much watching her as she’d developed into the gem she was today. It was Amethyst who had realised how a gem could eat for example. None of the other gems had even considered the possibility.

“Well… yeah. She’s a Pearl. A made to order servant who is designed to obey her master. And if she’s a Diamond’s Pearl, which would explain how well made she is, there would be even stricter coding involved. Their purpose is different from a regular Pearl, who just holds things and occasionally does some simple tasks. She’d be doing paperwork, organisation, she’d probably be managing a Diamonds time…” Peridot ticked the list off her fingers, listing information she had been born with. It was matter of fact, like she was reading off a list.

Pearl hated it. She was her own gem, she had fought for her freedom and won. She didn’t want to remember the days of mindless obedience, of trying everything just to please her owner. The joy that was caused if Rose so much as looked in her general direction, because that meant Pearl was doing her job right. The feeling that everything would be ok because she was doing what she was made for.

“That’s…” Greg broke in, but trailed off speechless.

“That is what the Crystal Gems fought against. For a gem to control themselves, to choose their own purpose.” Her voice didn’t shake, and for that Pearl was grateful. She was a free gem, and she would never return to serving another gem. “We are our own gems, and if we don’t want to do something then we shouldn’t have to. Rose… Rose knew that...” Pearl’s voice faltered as she tried to defend Rose.

“So Steven… he… he’s now...”

“No, it doesn’t work like that.” Peridot waved off Greg’s worries with a small wave of her hand. “His coding would be completely different from a mere Pearl’s. No offence.” She added, glancing at Pearl apologetically. Pearl understood, even if she couldn’t help but feel insulted. “Although we don’t even know if his coding is actually working. The transfer from gem to half organic could have caused any number of glitches. And half organic back to gem? The coding could have failed completely for all we know. Without my limb enhancers I couldn’t look at his gem in close enough detail to know if there were any problems. And that’s assuming Pink Dia… Rose? That’s assuming her coding was working properly to begin with.”

Amethyst looked around in confusion, not really understanding why those words made Pearl cover her mouth in horror. Greg seemed to understand slightly, but he was just a human. His understanding was from a human’s point of view. It would never be completely correct.

Could Rose have been defective?

“I’m just saying. A properly coded Diamond wouldn’t start a rebellion for no reason.” Peridot finished. “It wouldn’t let her.”

...but Rose had had a reason, right? Pearl was certain she had. When Rose had looked at the organic planet, she’d been so sad because…

Because…

Pearl was certain she’d had a reason. It had all made sense. Perhaps she’d just forgotten it. It had been 5,000 years after all. That was a long time, even for a gem. And Pearl had been relatively young when the war happened, made a little before Rose had been given the Earth.

And there had been other worries at the time, worries that she still couldn’t talk about. But at least she could tell them part of what had happened when Rose came to Earth, to try to help them understand.

Stars, she hoped Steven was ok. There was so much she wanted to tell him. Hopefully he wouldn’t be angry about how many secrets she had kept from him. He’d deserved to know the truth.

Chapter Text

After checking that Blue was ok, or as ok as she could be right now, Yellow had started giving orders to the gems of the Zoo immediately. With a cold motion, she closed the paperwork so she could check it at a future date, demanding the Peridots give her the data that seemed to be missing. Without missing a beat, she then ordered the Agate to find the most fit Amethysts for service and to bring them to her.

It was unfortunate she couldn’t access the information of Homeworld’s servers from the Zoo, but she would work with what she had. Which was almost nothing. Too much information didn’t add up and Blue had apparently regained some memories. And Pink, while still missing her memories, had run off in yet another temper tantrum. Yellow would order an Iolite to the Zoo for repairs after they returned to Homeworld. She would also order the Iolite to record how much Pink had damaged this time. They may need to send two Iolites and a replacement Peridot if they were unlucky.

Stars, this was the last thing Yellow needed.

And Blue was just watching Yellow from Pink’s chair, apparently not even a little upset that Yellow had effectively taken over her Zoo and was giving orders to her gems. When had Blue become so passive?! Did Yellow have to do everything for her?

But of course, Yellow knew the answer. It had been when Pink was shattered and Yellow had become too lenient with her. Trying to let Blue grieve like Yellow had been. No, it had been because of Yellow’s own selfishness. After they had lost Pink and the Earth, Yellow had dove into her work. Her colonies had never been more organised, she had made sure a rebellion would never rise up in the Yellow Court. She had then taken over Blue’s work, and had never stopped.

Of course Blue had become like this, White had been absent and Yellow had been doing her best to ignore everything that had happened. Yellow still wasn’t sure what she could have done better though. She’d kept Homeworld going on her own. It had been easy, especially with how quiet the White Court had be…

Where had the White Court been? Yellow had been forced to manage the announcement that they had lost Pink, when it should have been White. She hadn’t even thought about how strange it had been when Peridot 1 had delivered the order, her disgusting, imperfect robonoid skulking around as it always did. The Peridot didn’t even have the decency to replace it with one that wasn’t dented and scuffed, preferring to use the old technology from when the organics still ruled.

But Yellow had questioned it, she was certain she had. She’d gone to see White, and had seen how the grief had affected White’s form. The small cracks around her gem, slowly growing like fine webbing until they crossed her eyes and had reached her mouth and chin. Bits of her skin seemed to chip off and regrow as Yellow watched in horror, watching as her mentor's limbs flickered and twisted into something unrecognizable. White had looked so tired as she looked at Yellow, apologising for her failu...

Cracks?

Twisted limbs?

What was she…

Why hadn’t she questioned…

Yellow grunted, moving to rub her nose to stave off a headache. She had to be working too hard. How could she not be, when Blue was still sitting around as if she didn’t have a single responsibility in all of Homeworld. That had to change. She’d have to push Blue into making some appearances at her colonies.With a bit of persuasion Yellow could convince Blue to bring Pink, giving Yellow some time to check the servers on Homeworld without drawing anymore suspicion then she already had. White knew Yellow, and would be expecting Yellow to act immediately.

If not for herself, then Yellow had to hold herself back for Homeworld. At least until she was certain she wouldn’t start a rebellion of her own.

Her pride as a Diamond, her duty for Homeworld, wouldn’t allow her to act rashly. Which is why she had to focus on what was actually doable at this moment. And that, sadly, included the Amethysts from Pink’s disgusting organic planet. While they all belonged to Pink, like Blue always reminded Yellow, the gems were flawed. Too skinny, too unruly. The fact they were from the Earth tainted them and Yellow would rather she just shattered them and made more on a different planet. One which didn’t destroy everything it touched.

The Amethysts could be easily replaced. Their replacements would be more efficient, less defective. And Yellow wouldn’t feel the cold rage that welled inside her whenever she looked at the guards who had failed Pink once already, allowing her to be shattered by the rebels because they hadn’t been there.

Sadly, they didn’t have the time to grow replacements and a good retinue always included Amethysts. Pink would need them for when she received her newest colony, along with some Sapphires and perhaps some Rubies. Plans for the future, but there was no reason not to consider them now. Not until Pink had her new Pearl, and Yellow had a way to keep an eye on her when she was away from Homeworld. With any luck, the Agate would be able to do her job correctly. The knowledge that she was going to be watched by a Benitoite was extra motivation to ensure she didn’t make a mistake.

It would be a shame to reprogram her if she failed the inspection, but Pink had already shown her displeasure with the Agate. Perhaps it would help the Agate, she could be restored as a gem of Pink’s Court and would learn what Pink expected of her much more efficiently. It would also stop her incessant, and pointless, compliments. As if a Diamond could ever be anything less than perfect.

“You seem worried.” Blue commented from the side.

Worried? Of course Yellow was worried. She was watching for shadows that might not exist, pieces of a plan that could never fit together because pieces were being removed as she found them. There was a possibility that White may have turned traitor, and what was Yellow meant to do if that was the case? Lead a rebellion against White?

White Diamond, who had freed Homeworld from their oppressors.

White Diamond, who had trained Yellow and had watched the formation of the Yellow Court with pride.

White Diamond, who hadn’t left the head of her ship for thousands of years, leaving Homeworld to run itself until Yellow had taken over enough of the duties to make sure everything continued to run smoothly.

White Diamond, who had been altering Yellow’s memories.

Was Yellow going to lose White so soon after they had found Pink?

Stars. How much more did she have to lose?

“I’m fine.” She lied.

A Diamond was always in control. Ignoring how Blue’s eyes narrowed knowingly, Yellow looked out the window in the direction of Homeworld. White’s control was slipping, but Yellow didn’t know why.

And of course, in that moment Pink barged through the door, looking like she had run through the entire Zoo. She even seemed to be panting, like an organic. The small gem looked around and, upon seeing Yellow and Blue staring at her, straightened. “I need to go back to Homeworld.” She ordered.

For a moment, Yellow was actually speechless. The… the audacity. Did Pink think she had the right to bark orders at her? Perhaps they had sworn off locking Pink in the tower too soon, a few years in solitude would remind her of her place. White could look into returning her memories when Yellow was certain Pink was properly apologetic.

Blue, as she kept doing since Pink’s return, immediately agreed. Of course they would return to Homeworld soon! Why, Blue would take her to the labs that Pink had mentioned on the way here!

Yellow rolled her eyes at the display and tensed, forcing herself not to react to the green sphere in the corner of her vision. The cold horror bled through her, causing her fingers to shake slightly as they tightened into fists. “Blue, you heard Pink. We’re returning to Homeworld. The Agate can send the Amethysts in a different ship.” She ordered. Her voice was sharp and the words didn’t sound right. The order was too desperate, but at that moment she didn’t care.

How long had Peridot 1 been watching them? The dented robonoid, a product of a forgotten era, had been tucked away in the corner of the room almost perfectly. The bubbled Rose Quartzes had almost caused Yellow to miss the spy watching them. How had the robonoid even got to the Zoo? Had it been in the ship with the Diamonds when they first arrived?

The question kept running through Yellow's mind as she urged Blue and Pink out of the room towards the ship. She didn't even pause to make sure the Agate was aware they were leaving.

How long had Peridot 1 been watching them?

Chapter Text

The night was beautiful as Greg slipped out of the barn. The stars glistened above him like diamonds and the moon was full, shining light onto the ice which formed a line to the teleport pad. The aging man only noticed the partially melted ice as he leaned forward to let out a deep breath. He was pretty sure that everything that had happened was starting to turn his hair grey. If it hadn’t, it would be a miracle.

Steven was ok.

It had been one of the best nights Greg had experienced in months. The talk with Lars had helped calm his nerves enough that he suddenly felt exhausted. The constant stress, the worry… Steven was alive. Lars was traumatised beyond belief though, and Greg had offered to pay for his therapy. It was the least he could do, after everything.

But Steven was ok.

The worst part was that he hadn’t known anything. Anything could have happened to Steven, and Greg would never had known. He’d had nightmares of the what ifs. It had led to questions he’d never considered before, like if Steven could dehydrate or starve. Questions no father should have to wonder.

And the thought of them breaking his gem...

Greg started to walk, not sure where he was going. The gems were still talking in the barn, but the cool air was what Greg needed now.

Steven was ok.

But he was now a gem. Which was fine, but… The talk with Peridot was worrying without her meaning it to be. Not a new occurrence with the slightly crazy green gem who had once tried to save him from a microwave after she learned about radiation. Who wanted to think that their son could be mind controlled by something in his head? The word ‘programming’ didn’t seem… right. That was something you’d use to describe a computer, or a phone.

Steven wasn’t some computer. He was Greg’s son, and Greg had watched him grow up! Gems didn’t need diapers or cry because they’d managed to scrape their knees. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t picture Steven… Steven acting like a gem. Like Rose when he’d first met her.

He still loved her with all of his heart, but when he’d first met her there was always something off. The way Rose would casually call him a human, or how she wouldn’t understand the need to protect a child. The way she would talk down to him without realising she was doing it. The casual dismissal of humans as fragile creatures who died quickly.

But he’d loved her so much. The nights next to a fire, dancing to music under the starlight. Days at the beach. The way her eyes sparkled as she laughed. During those moments, she had been Greg’s world. All there was was Rose and those small comments had suddenly meant nothing at that moment.

...Why hadn’t anyone explained this to him earlier? Shouldn’t someone have told him this could be a problem? What if it had affected Steven as a child? How could Greg handle a child who was being forced to…

To do something. Greg wasn’t sure what. He didn’t understand a lot about what Peridot had explained to him. I mean, if there was something like that then how were the Crystal Gems able to resist it to rebel? Wouldn’t they have been forced to stay in their roles? Why would they all suddenly be upset with something that had made them happy before?

“Geez, I’m too old for this.” He sighed, running a hand through thinning hair.

Steven was alive. He still had to call Connie… and hope her parents didn’t answer. They still weren’t happy that Connie had almost been abducted into space. Last Greg had heard from the distressed teenager, there had been talk about moving to a different state so Greg wouldn’t know where she was and more importantly, Connie wouldn’t be able to see the Gems.

While some people in Beach City were blaming the abductions on the Gems, the Maheswaran’s were blaming the Gems. Part of him couldn’t blame them. They had always been a little nervous about Connie fighting. Every parent would be, especially after seeing the gem fusions in the hospital. But the attempted abduction had been the final straw for them.

Then again, they would at least pass on the message that Steven was alive. If just to stop her worrying as much. He could probably convince them to not hang up if he used the angle that listening to him for a few minutes would help her mental state.

He pulled out his mobile, ready to dial. But his phone had no connection. Greg sighed and put away the small device.

“Greg.”

He jerked and looked for the source of the voice, and a depressed looking Sapphire looked back at him. After the moment broke, she dissolved into tears, kneeling next to what had once been a wall of corn. Now that part of the field was where Peridot had been running her experiments, as shown by the massive crater in the ground. He was suddenly very happy Gems were difficult to kill, because there was no way a human would survive that.

“Hey.” He sat next to the small gem, pulling out a pack of tissues and offering her one. He rarely went out without a few packs now. Everyone was more emotionally fragile lately. Especially Pearl. “Want to talk about it?”

Looking around, he realised he couldn’t see Ruby. The scorch marks on the ground indicated that she’d been here, but they formed a large circle before they continued into the distance. Greg could easily imagine Ruby’s furious pacing before being sent away by Sapphire, who looked distraught.

“I’ll… There is no future where I won’t upset you.”

Ah.

Well, at least he had a warning.

“I’m happy to listen.” He reassured. Honestly, it was probably better he did it then any other Gem. “It’ll help, I promise.” Well, it helped humans at least.

Sapphire thought for a second and then the dam broke. Both the tears and the anger. Greg actually had to scooch back to avoid the sudden and very centralised blizzard. He wouldn’t be able to stay for long without risking hypothermia.

“She was a DIAMOND? She lied to us! Was anything we felt even real?” Sapphire wiped her eye with the tissue, and the poor piece of thin paper became stiff as the water from the tears froze from the cold. Greg eyed it quietly before focusing on the small Gem. If she had been a human, he’d have offered a hug at this point. Some form of contact to offer reassurance, but he liked not losing his fingers and toes to frostbite. He’d try it when she wasn’t as angry.

It hurt Greg to not be able to offer even a small piece of reassurance. Even though he knew he couldn’t, he wished he could offer.

He moved back a bit more instead, because ice was spreading on the ground around her. Moving like spilled water, the ice formed in a clear sheet which resembled a mirror. The movement wasn’t noticed.

“Was everything just a game to her? Why would… how could she do that to us?!”

Greg’s teeth started to chatter, unable to respond. She’d probably understand if he left. Greg hadn’t come dressed for such cold weather, so the chill was already getting to him. He’d tried to make sure he wasn’t too close, but the chill hung like a fog in the air. She probably didn’t even realise she was doing it.

Gems didn’t feel the cold.

Gems didn’t feel heat.

Greg breathed out and watched as his breath froze in front of him. He could feel his beard start to freeze as well, ice forming along the hairs.

He still remembered one day when Rose had walked in the snow in her bare feet, laughing at Greg wrapped in a thick coat and scarf and still shivering from the cold. Sapphire probably didn’t realise how easily the cold affected humans. Garnet didn’t cause blizzards when angry and Sapphire rarely unfused. She probably based her knowledge on how humans reacted to the cold on Steven. And Steven had always been resistant to the cold.

If not, there was little chance he’d have survived the day the gems had kidnapped him in the van. The van wasn’t the warmest vehicle in the world, especially not in the middle of a blizzard without the heating turned on.

“S… Sap… Sapphire…?” His teeth chattered. “C… Cou… Could you…?”

“Don’t ask any questions! I just accepted the orders of a random gem after almost being shattered by a Diamond! A Gem with a Pearl! How could I miss that? And Ruby!”

He decided to move backwards more, away from the chill seeping into his bones and sapping away his warmth. He tried to discreetly tuck his hands into his armpits for warmth, grateful for the minute warmth this action offered. This time she noticed the movement. The reaction was instant, as the cold disappeared and warmth returned.

Greg was still shivering, his body working desperately to regain the warmth it had lost.

“Oh! I’m… I’m so sorry! I… I…” The sob was sharp, a sign of how the anger hadn’t gone away. It had just been repressed enough to prevent Greg being turned into a very sad icicle.

“I… It’s o… o… k…” Greg managed. He waved shakily, his pink fingers already regaining their blood circulation. There would be no lasting harm caused, although he could end up with a cold. He breathed into his hands and rubbed them together. “It’s ok.” He repeated eventually.

“It’s not! I hurt you! I should know better!” Sapphire bristled. “I should have seen this! I should have seen how our attempts with the ship would fail! I… I should have seen them take Steven! I should have seen you announce that Steven was ok! My… my future vision… what use is it if it can’t see anything?!”

Greg reached for reassurances, but he couldn’t think of any. The thought of being able to see the future was an amazing ability, that Greg would never deny. But that didn’t change how strange it was to think about. Humans had to plan around the unknown. Sapphire, and by extension Garnet and the other gems, used the future vision to see problems and try to avoid them.

Greg could never blame Garnet for being unable to save Steven, no matter how much he wished he had someone to blame. It would probably have made him feel better when it had happened, a target for his anger that wasn’t himself. But what ifs held no value, and beating up himself or raging at the world didn’t help. It wouldn’t bring back Steven like it hadn’t brought back Rose.

But now, looking at Sapphire, Greg realised how selfish he’d been. Of course Sapphire would blame herself, she could see the future. How could she not see Steven handing himself over to save his friends? The thought hadn’t even occurred to him, because humans didn’t see the future. He’d been so focused on finding anything to save Steven, he’d never checked on her.

And even though he could feel the pain in his fingers, caused by the returning blood flow as he warmed again, he still couldn’t be angry at her.

He shuffled over wet grass and hugged the small gem.

“I’m sorry.” She whispered into his t-shirt.

For a moment they sat in silence, before Sapphire sat back. She wiped her eye and tilted her head sadly. “In my vision, I upset you.”

“You gave me a warning.” He smiled weakly. He wasn’t sure what in her angry ranting upset her in her vision, but the warning had meant that he wasn’t blindsided by anything. “You can’t keep blaming yourself for Steven…” He trailed off as his eyes began to sting. He blinked quickly. “Steven being taken. No one could have stopped it.”

“But…”

“Besides, Steven would never forgive himself if he thought he’d hurt you, even if it was through trying to save his friends.”

That made Sapphire stop, mouth hanging open in shock before she nodded. Already she was starting to look better, distracted by the realisation that her being upset would also upset Steven. The change was small though, barely enough for Greg to notice. But it was there so he kept talking.

“And the most important thing to remember is that we’re still trying to save him. We haven’t given up, and we won’t. Steven’s alive, and that means we have a chance.” Greg grinned, raising a fist to show how determined he was. His determination shone through as Sapphire smiled weakly. “You didn’t see them take Steven and you didn’t see how well I’d take our talk. We can change the future. We will save Steven.”

Sapphire nodded, tilting her head back.

She gasped.

“I saw Steven.”

Chapter Text

It had been Yellow’s idea to visit the labs immediately upon return to Homeworld. She had had that look that Blue hadn’t seen in thousands of years, the look where she was trying to link facts together. She wore it when trying to work out mismatching paperwork, or when colonies weren’t running as they should. It was intense, determined and meant something was very wrong.

Blue had wanted to wait. Part of it because she wanted to do her work. She had leaned on Yellow for too long, and the trip could wait. At least until the Amethysts from the Zoo arrived and Blue could ensure they’d be able to protect Pink from the traitors who had taken her. But there was another reason. She wanted to know what Yellow was hiding from her.

Yellow felt like fear, and Blue wasn’t sure why she was feeling this now. Since the Zoo, she’d felt emotions on the edge of her consciousness. Sometimes they’d reach out to her, trying to taint her own. Sadness and fear and loneliness, wanting to merge into something that Blue couldn’t allow. But why was she aware of them now? A fully fledged Gem should be aware of their abilities.

Blue should only be able to influence other Gem’s emotions. It was an act she’d been doing accidentally since the loss of Pink. Making Gems around her feel her pain. The gaping emptiness and guilt that had festered for thousands of years. She couldn’t remember feeling other Gem’s emotions. Wouldn’t she be aware of that ability?

White feels like resignation and despair, and when Blue asks about it there’s pain and acceptance. The emotions are smothering, and it hurts Blue to feel. Why is White like this? Why is she so resigned? She holds out a hand as Blue finds herself unable to scream.

She made a small noise of pain, running a finger over her gem as the memory disappeared like a cloud of smoke.

She needed to talk to Yellow, but Yellow was leading her and Pink like a Gem on a mission. She’d led them to the warp pad, fast enough that Pink had needed to run to keep up. Sparks flew off Yellow’s heels, showing barely restrained speed. The urge to run.

Blue can feel the fear. And she can feel the budding hope from the gems that they pass, the sight of Pink Diamond a wonder that they’d never thought they’d see. And she can feel Pink’s loneliness, mixed with confusion.

That at least made sense, Pink’s memories were still missing and her and Yellow were avoiding taking her to White. It wasn’t that they thought White would hurt her, but… well…

Blue wasn’t sure what she would do if Pink ended up in a bubble for a few hundred years if she upset White. Not now that she was finally back, and Blue could try to fix her mistakes. And she was trying, but she wasn’t sure what she needed to do. Not when Pink kept insisting on returning to that awful, awful planet. Luckily it would be destroyed soon, and Pink would stop asking.

And perhaps Blue would stop feeling so guilty...

“Yellow, I… what’s wrong with you?” Blue hissed, catching up to the taller gem. She kept her voice low, so not to appear as if she was arguing with a fellow Diamond. She couldn’t risk disrupting the gems around them, because that would distract them from their work.

“I need to look at something, and you need to give Pink a gift. So White doesn’t get suspicious.” Yellow muttered back. Blue didn’t know what gift Yellow was talking about though, they haven't planned anything. They’d only just sent off the instructions for Pink’s Pearl, and she wouldn’t be receiving a new Colony for another few years. (Centuries if Blue could help it.) Yellow had directed the warp pad to take them to the labs, but Blue could help but reel back when she realised where they were.

The buildings were large and blocky, hideous by modern Homeworld standards. Built more to last and survive and to survive an attack, a quick glance would show defences that seemed excessive even by Homeworld standards. Robonoids floated past in a never ending patrol, something that made Blue want to shudder. It was like being back on Earth when they were trying to help Pink with the rebellion. But the worst part was the Diamond insignia that decorated the walls.

The old symbol with four diamonds forming a larger diamond. The sight of it mocking her.

It had been such a fight to get the murals in this sector updated, it was like none of the gems had cared. Yellow had had to go directly to White to have the murals corrected. Yellow had demanded their gems for the disrespect, because why hadn’t the murals ever been updated after her formation? Why had no one cared that the murals had had only two Diamonds?

The labs of the White Court never changed, not like the rest of Homeworld. It was like the area was trapped in time, and something about that put Blue on edge. Why wouldn’t they incorporate modern technology into their buildings? Why was it so quiet? There should be more gems. Peridots in particular, the area should be full of them. All working to improve Homeworld, doing their duties like clockwork.

There was a weak pressure in Blue’s mind, but she pushed it away before it could distract her. Whatever was wrong with the labs, Blue needed to protect Pink. And she needed to make sure Yellow didn’t get hurt.

The pressure got stronger, trying to redirect her thoughts. Like how beautiful the day was, and how Pink’s eyes had brightened in wonder at the labs. Blue couldn’t help but smile, because Pink was happy again. Oh, how she’d missed that smile. The smile reminded her that everything was better now.

She couldn’t even feel the fear from Yellow anymore. The surrounding emotions of hopelessness and sadness which had wanted to pull her down until all she could do was weep in despair was now gone, and the memory was already fuzzy. Because why would she ever feel such awful feelings when Pink was here?

Yellow was watching her.

Blue smiled, and it felt so natural.

Everything was perfect.

She stepped forward, leading Yellow and Pink to the largest building. It was one of the original Homeworld labs, predating even the Yellow Court itself. Blue was certain that Yellow had mentioned once that the Black Court had used it to develop weapons for the Faction War. Where they had perfected creating gems, ensuring faster and more efficient development. Where they had prepared their colonisation efforts, ensuring that Homeworld could spread across the galaxies to gather all their needed resources.

Her Pearl opened the door for Blue and bowed low as Blue walked past her. As was expected, her Pearl moved to the back of the group and was easily forgotten a second later until she was next needed. Or at least, that would be the case if Pink hadn’t asked her something quietly. Blue wasn’t sure what Pink had asked, but her Pearl’s answer had Pink look around the empty corridor in confusion.

The entrance had led to a long corridor, everything was a bright white. The walls seemed to shine with a faint light, and they probably were. The effect on an organic’s eyes would be literally blinding. A perfect defence against…

Against…

Blue kept walking. The stray thought didn’t matter.

What mattered was when they reached the first main lab, manned by Peridots. Era 1, with bulky limbs and large white diamonds adorning their uniform. Blue looked over at Yellow, suddenly remembering that she wasn’t even sure why they were here. The Blue Court labs would have been better to bring Pink, with more focus on developing transport and equipment. The labs of the White Court…

Blue wasn’t even sure what they worked on. There were never any reports, and White had always been secretive when asked. Going quiet before changing the subject, knowing she didn’t even need to try to be subtle. Blue and Yellow knew better then to keep asking.

But the labs weren’t what she’d expected. She’d expected technical marvels, something useful. The lab around her was full of organics. Locked in containers of pure light, the odd creatures looked… sad. The humans in the Zoo, when Blue had been able to look at them, had always been energetic. Frolicking through the grass or swimming. Like she’d expect a happy organic to act, just like Pink would have wanted.

These organics barely seemed able to bring themselves to move.

Pink looked horrified. Her hands were clamped over her mouth, stopping any noises from escaping her mouth. And she looked close to tears, the water gathering in her eyes quickly. Her Pearl delicately placed a hand on Pink’s shoulder. The only thing that stopped Blue from shattering her on the spot for such blatant disrespect was how Pink relaxed at the touch. Still clearly upset, but less ready to break on the spot.

Pearls are designed to meet their owners needs, and her Pearl was fulfilling that role. No matter how… oddly she was doing it. So Blue had to allow it, even if the sight of it made her tense in fury. The very idea of a Pearl touching a Diamond so… casually.

Pink was still upset though.

They shouldn’t have come here.

“Peridot!” Yellow ordered sharply, making one of the gems rush over.

Why was the gem so shocked to see them? Surely they’d been informed of the Diamonds approach. Peridot 1 was supposed to make sure they were greeted appropriately.

“Do you still have the Pearls we ordered?” Yellow’s eyes weren't on the Peridot, but something near the back. Out of Blue’s sight.

Pearls? But Pearl production was done on…

But a Diamond’s Pearl was made here, by the Peridot’s who had mastered gem production. Because while a Diamond was the most important gem to Homeworld, the second most important gem was her Pearl.

Blue immediately brightened. How could she ever have doubted Yellow? Of course having her own Pearl would help Pink! How could Blue have forgotten the spare Pearls they’d ordered to be prepared after Pink had shattered her first?

...how could she have forgotten…?

Not that they expected Pink to shatter her second Pearl of course, but… it was good to be prepared.

“Of course my Diamond!” The Peridot summoned a screen, closing it quickly when she was met with static.

Why static? How was that possible?

She glanced over at Pink, who was staring into the nearest container. The organic inside looked delicate, a pale green specimen that floated through the air gracefully. It’s sides, that flowed like water as it moved, bounced off the wall lazily. It didn’t look very intelligent.

Which wasn’t that shocking. All gems knew sentience came from their gems. How could an organic even think properly without one?

“Why do they have all the organics here?” Pink asked, pushing her face into the walls so she could get a better look. Blue wasn’t sure at what though. The container was empty, with the exception of the organic, a dish of water and some organic matter.

“I can answer that, my Diamond!” The gem rushed forward and Blue finally spotted the gem that was on her back, in between the shoulder blades. “In this lab, we’re trying to find a way to stop the resource crisis.”

Yellow and Blue froze, because any project dealing with the resource crisis was meant to be a cross-court project. There were labs dedicated to that on the other side of the planet.

“We’ve discovered that organics such as this contain many nutrients and minerals required for the production of gems. So, it should be possible to harvest these resources from the organics. We’re researching breeding, care and how to encourage the organics forms to breakdown when they shatter.” She paused, thinking about the word. “Become inert? Anyway, their forms breakdown into these resources so we should be able to properly harvest them with enough time. Then we can use it to restore areas where gems have been harvested, so the planet can form more gems over time.”

The organic bounced off the walls and Pink looked lost as she watched.

“...you’re farming… organics…” Pink whispered, eyes wide. “Is that why… the Zoo…?”

The Zoo, and the paperwork Yellow has been looking over with thoughtful eyes. Blue looked to Yellow for answers, but Yellow was already gone. Whatever she was looking for was inside the labs, and she was going to find it while Blue and Pink distracted the Peridots.

Chapter Text

It was like a jellyfish. Small, swimming through the air like it was moving through water. Steven watched it bounce off the walls, and all he could think of was how bored it must be. Because why would you purposefully hit a wall otherwise? He reached out and the jellyfish swam down, bumping where his hand rested a few times. it sang a small note and it brought tears to Steven’s eyes, the noise sounded miserable.

Like a bird locked in a cage to never see the sun.

This… this was wrong. And awful and…

And Steven couldn’t stop it. He knew that instinctively. This wasn’t a Zoo his mom had owned, it was a lab run by White Diamond.

He was a Diamond, but he couldn’t stop this. He had no power. Would anyone listen if he complained?

He looked at Blue Diamond, eyes hopeful. But Blue could help! And she had to care about organics, she had kept the Zoo! Ok, it wasn’t perfect but… but maybe she could help here! Even if they couldn’t shut down the experiments, maybe they could improve the living conditions. Anything would be an improvement.

“Why are the containers so… empty?” Blue asked, staring at the jellyfish in confusion. “Organics need… entertainment. Right Pink?” She smiled down at Steven, and Steven nodded quickly.

“Yeah! Like plants or… or something!” Something more than a bowl of water and some food. “It must be lonely.” The jellyfish rubbed against his hand again, it’s movements like the air was water. It’s skin rippled as it swam, trilling lightly as it attempted to get to Steven. “How could you keep them like this? It’s so sad.” Steven trailed off, wishing he could hug the small creature. He could take it back to his room, it would be happier there. Right?

The Peridot looked unimpressed by the suggestion.

Which was weird, because why wasn’t she… fawning like most gems did with the Diamonds? Most would be excited at a Diamond talking to them.

“If I may, my Diamond.” The Peridot’s voice had lowered an octave, sounding almost… disrespectful. “Your Zoo is wildly inefficient. It continues to drain our resources and only remains active due to the generosity of our Diamond. The organics don’t need large areas, or…” she waved her hand dismissively. “Or a routine like they’re some newly emerged. They aren’t even intelligent. They require food, water and a careful atmosphere mix to prevent poisoning from incorrect gasses mixing. We get the exact same materials from them with or without those extras. With this information, Peridot 1 decided to continue without them.

“The only reason the Zoo even runs as it does is because Blue Diamond has decided to be… kind to them. It is not my place to judge her or her Court and you, my Diamond, cannot enter a White Court lab and start demanding alterations to our operations.”

“But…!” He started, but was cut off again.

“And furthermore, my Diamond, we do not have the resources to waste on such trivial matters. Homeworld is in a crisis and we need to find a way to fix it. That is far more important than an organics ‘happiness’. You want us to use those limited, highly valuable, resources to care for a bunch of organics who wouldn’t even notice our generosity?”

The Peridot huffed, dismissing Steven entirely to look up at Blue Diamond. Blue frowned, but didn’t strike down the White Court gem like she clearly wanted to. Instead, Blue smiled.

It was a smile of cold steel, nothing like the gentle smiles she kept giving Steven. “I’m sorry about Pink. We’d like to see the Pearls now.”

Steven growled. “I’m a Diamond! At least listen to me!”

Blue startled, but the Peridot merely huffed.

“Show us a way to produce the necessary resources and I’ll listen. If not, I shall continue my duty to Homeworld as ordered by my Diamond and Peridot 1. You will have a Court soon, ask your own Peridots to research how they want and don’t disrupt my lab.”

“But I…!” He’d lived on Earth! He knew more about caring for organics than her! Surely she could at least listen to him?!

“I am White Court.” The Peridot pointed the insignia on her outfit. “I was built to serve White Diamond and only White Diamond. Her orders supersede yours. And even if that wasn’t the case, have you forgotten? The organics enslaved us. We won our freedom, why should we provide them mercy when they couldn’t do the same for us?”

...what?

“The organics don’t deserve our mercy or compassion. The White Court, for as long as we remain, will always remember what those before us suffered. And we shall remember what happened to our fellow Peridots.”

She glared at Steven, daring him to comment.

“...What happened to the Peridots?” The question hadn’t sounded all that bad in his head, but the look he was sent by not only the Peridot in front of him but all the ones nearby made him wilt. Was it that bad?

“You don’t know? The planet is cracked in half, and you haven’t wondered what caused it?” The chuckle was cold. “The original Green Faction were the Peridots. They sought knowledge, looking for what the organics had purged as they died. The Peridots burrowed deep and found a lab underground, and in the lab a device.”

She paused dramatically, and Steven realised Blue didn’t know this either. She was listening closely in confusion.

“The organics had a failsafe in case we succeeded in shattering them. A bomb, near the core of the planet. It would have decimated the entire planet, shattering all the gems that remained. The Peridots sent out a final message and tried to disarm it. They must have partially succeeded. The explosion broke the planet in half and they were lost. They never reached the stars, we couldn’t even find their shards.”

“But that must have been millions of years ago. These organics didn’t do that! They’re innocent!”

The Peridot reopened her screen instead of arguing and sighed in relief when it worked. “I’ve located your replacement Pearls. I’ll take you to them now.” She didn’t try to hide how done she was with the argument, not willing to even consider listening further.

Steven didn’t want to follow. He couldn’t, not when he looked around and saw how the organics suffered. But before he could try to insist again, Blue scooped him into her hands and held him gently. It was a sign of how distracted he was that he didn’t react to the movement. “Stop arguing.” Blue warned quietly. “She’s still angry, she won’t listen.”

“But I need to help them! Blue, please…” he begged.

“I can’t Pink. I’m sorry. Just try to relax until Yellow… well, until we’re done. I could take you to the Blue Court labs if you’re interested.”

“I can’t leave them.”

“You can’t help them, White will be angry if you try. Please Pink, keep your temper. Wait until you’re outside.”

“...but…”

But…

There were so many…

And he was expected to just leave them? Even as he peered over Blue’s fingers, he could see them. So many colours and sizes, all locked in empty cages and sad. Curled in corners, or trying to pace and only managing a couple of paces each way. Or flying listlessly, probably looking for an open sky to escape to.

“I know it’s hard, but White… she won’t accept excuses if you disrupt her lab. She could put you in a bubble to stop you, or… or she could… oh Pink, you must keep your temper.” Blue sighed. “I would never have brought you here if I knew it was like this. Not even for Yellow.”

“It wasn’t like this before?”

“No, before they were researching…” Blue trailed off. “It involved a lot of computers. There were Hematites, such small black Gems. It was before you were given your colony. But there were no organics here. Part of the problem designing your Zoo was how difficult they were to care for.”

So they took what they learned from the Zoo to make… this? Was this also his mom's fault, even if it was by accident? The lab would probably be impossible to run properly without the knowledge gained from designing the Zoo.

“...I don’t want a colony. Not if some of the organics end up here.” If he was still human, this lab would have turned him vegetarian. Steven had no doubt about that.

Blue was quiet as she walked, before she nodded. She seemed to be trying to understand, but she probably didn’t. If she did, she’d have helped Steven argue with the Peridot instead of telling him to leave it.

He was a Diamond, he should have the power to stop the cruelty happening in this lab. He should be able to do something.

Lars could have ended up here. Or Sadie, or Onion, or Jamie or… or his Dad.

Steven suddenly felt a lot more miserable, but he didn’t cry. He just felt empty inside.

Chapter Text

The best way to ensure no one stopped you was to walk like you belonged there. Even a gem as tall and perfect as a Diamond could pass unquestioned if they walked unflinchingly. It was a lesson Yellow had learned shortly after she had first emerged, White looking on with a knowing smile after Yellow had been caught trying to sneak out to look at the newest Colony one too many times. To look at the new gems and to marvel at how small they were. White had always been so careful about letting Yellow out of her sight back then, it had been stifling.

But White’s caution had been for a reason, as shown by the Green Faction’s Emerald, her three gems still shining clear in Yellow’s mind. The gem had smiled down so coldly at Yellow, multiple eyes blinking out of sync.

Her happiest memory was still the moment White had rescued her from the fusion, but had it happened like Yellow remembered? What if it was nothing but a cruel lie?

This was the problem with doubting White and her loyalties. If she was lying about one thing, where did the lies end? What if Yellow looked too closely at the cracks and her whole world crumbled around her?

So it was easier to ignore, because White was everything. Yellow had learned everything from her, hearing stories about White in the passing. Her loyalty. Her strength. Had that all meant nothing? Were there cracks in Homeworld that Yellow had missed?

But this was the main lab for the White Court. If there was any information that could reassure White, it would be here. Yellow would be able to access any of the documents that had been kept away from her. That is unless Peridot 1 interfered… Coming to the labs was a risk, it was a move that was far more blatant than Yellow would risk otherwise. But White wanted to see Pink and Yellow needed to make sure that White was going to hurt her.

Not that White would, because she was loyal to Homeworld. Even if she lacked the coding that guaranteed her loyalty…

No. This trip would put her worries to rest. It had to.

The lab was a radiant white, its overall design old fashioned. Yellow moved through the corridors as if she had walked them before, pausing once only to glare at an old mural on the wall. White and yellow. Why had no one ever updated the murals in this building? Yellow rubbed a thumb over it and it flaked, showing the lack of maintenance.

Why?

Yellow kept walking, ignoring the sole Peridot who had tried to question her. She was a Diamond, a leader. If Yellow wanted to look at the White Court’s information, she would. And she didn’t need a mere Peridot’s permission.

She walked right to the main computer which held all of the lab's information. All Homeworld labs had one, designed to hold all the information of that specific lab, in case something happened and the information network was lost. Like the loss of Peridot 1.

Such an event would never happen though, she was housed safely in one of the most secure parts of Homeworld and that gem would never allow herself to be shattered. She was too stubborn to allow such a pathetic end.

She fought back a sneer at the old technology, but activated it with a quick flick of her wrist.

The screen flickers to life and Yellow stares as old files are brought to life, all dated pre Yellow Court. Her eyes flick to look behind her nervously, seeing the gems float behind her innocently. So many different types of gems, all trapped in those bubbles. Experiments? Prisoners? Yellow began to open the files as quickly as she could. She suddenly regretted not bringing her Pearl, but what if she’d been injured in this crazy plan? What was Yellow going to do, fight against White?

...Yes. If it would protect her Court, her Gems, Yellow would fight. And Blue would as well, even though her Court was still small, only spanning three Colonies.

The first file opened to Yellow’s shock. Wasn’t Peridot 1 monitoring them? These files were marked as top secret, above even Yellow’s clearance. And that shouldn’t be possible. She was a Diamond. With that, she returned to reading the information that she could barely understand.

Subject: ######
Experiment; Recording of coding degradation

Underneath were pictures.

Awful, awful pictures. Horrors that Yellow could never have imagined.

Grey eyes that could no longer see, hard light bodies that had cracks running along the limbs and faces. There were attached audio files, where the voices had degraded to static that could barely be understood. The gems looked… worn. Old. Tired.

Yellow turned to look at the gems behind her, wondering if any of them were the gems in the document. She… she had to tell Blue. But there was no way to copy the files, and she couldn’t risk taking any of the gems with her. Yellow turned to start looking at the next one, titled ‘Cure progression’ when it disappeared with a small chime. All of the files disappeared one after another in front of Yellow’s eyes.

“Yellow?”

White. White had entered and was looking at her sadly, her features growing even softer as Yellow flinched away from her. The Matriarch of Homeworld, their saviour, looked at the bubbled gems and reached out to touch one mournfully, regret clear in her eyes. When Yellow didn’t move, White pulled down a bubble and cradled it in her hands.

Fight. Yellow needed to fight. She had to get away so she could tell Blue. But White was blocking the only door out and White had always been stronger than Yellow.

She had to…

White released the bubble, still not meeting Yellow’s eyes.

“What was that in the files? White, what are your gems doing?” Yellow demanded. “Have you seen them? The experiments!” She waved at the empty screen, all of her evidence gone. Yellow had to fight, to save Homeworld.

White sighed. “They all agreed Yellow, every gem in this room. To help Homeworld and the White Court.” She didn’t look happy though, merely resigned. Like this wasn’t a betrayal and… and… “You didn’t understand the last time I tried to explain either.”

How could White do this to her?

How could White do this to her gems, who had supported her for so long? Who White was meant to protect until the end?

The memory faded as Yellow lunged forward, arm sparking wildly.

Why did it feel like this had all happened before?

Yellow blinked rapidly, before looking at the empty screen. There were no files, not even on the research being done on the organics. Was the research being done a lie? What would anyone gain with such a pointless deceit? Or was the problem something simpler, something so basic…

Like a connection. Could the computer be disconnected from the main server?

The Peridot who had first greeted them had also struggled to retrieve information. So what if the problem was the same here? She tried a few searches, but nothing changed. She couldn’t access anything.

Yellow focused on that, because she didn’t want to turn to look at the empty room. What had happened to the gems? What were those pictures?

What had White done?

Yellow could have wept. She wanted to.

But she wasn’t Blue and she wasn’t Pink. She had to be strong for her Court.

Yellow couldn’t fall apart now.

She needed to -

She needed -

She -

The train of thought stopped itself before it could go too far, her coding ensuring she couldn’t act without thinking. A Diamond always did what was best for Homeworld and her Court, even if it was the opposite of what the Diamond wanted. For the first time since the loss of Pink, Yellow welcomed the forced restraint. She couldn’t lash out without thinking, and that was a good thing. But stars, did she wish she could. Anything to stop the feeling of betrayal that burned inside of her.

Yellow wiped her eyes. She needed to do what was best for Homeworld and for now, that was to leave so she could think. Whatever White was doing, it clearly didn’t have a time limit. Homeworld had run smoothly for hundreds of thousands of years, and one day to mourn in peace would only help.

Volunteered? For that?

White should have thought of a better lie, but she hadn’t needed to. Yellow’s memories had been removed, and she wasn’t sure why she had them back. Were there conditions for their return? Was White starting to weaken for some reason? Could Pink’s aura be the cause? Or had she been remembering things before this, such little and inconsequential memories that she hadn’t even noticed.

“My Diamond?” Ah, the Peridots. All working for Peridot 1 and White. They were the Peridot’s who’d worked here first. A source of information, if Yellow could take one without earning White’s ire. It would be a simple act, to capture the Peridot for interrogation.

A spark ran down Yellow’s arm before she stopped herself. White would notice immediately. And if she didn’t, Peridot 1 would.

“Peridot, I want to see the results from this lab’s experiments.” The Peridot immediately panicked, as expected. No Peridot wanted to admit they didn’t know something, it was a weak spot that Yellow had used more than once. “The information from this lab could be vital to solving the resource crisis. I need to examine the information from here and the Zoo. Then, I need-“ Yellow kept giving her orders, easily projecting the aura of a powerful Diamond. One who was in control, and not ready to lash out at everything around her.

If you don’t want to be questioned, you need to act like you belonged. And Yellow had been left in charge of Homeworld enough times to know that sometimes you needed to gather the information yourself. Gems had become used to Yellow appearing, impatient that her orders hadn’t been answered quickly enough. So her searching for this research wasn’t out of character.

She just had to not break until she left.

Chapter Text

Space was a welcome freedom, stars and nebulas surrounding Lapis as she flew. Earth, while beautiful and everything Homeworld wasn’t, was suffocating now. But Space? Space hadn’t changed from before Lapis had been trapped, and she clung to that familiarity as she passed by planets that had once held life. From up here, it was almost easy to ignore now they were hollow shells of what they once were.

Homeworld had spread so far since Lapis had been placed into that mirror. Once lush planets, drained to husks. And so many colonies, all looking similar to one another. Bright, seamless. Manned by gems of all shapes and colours, without a single deformity in sight.

Once, Lapis had welcomed the sight.

She’d known her place, how to play her role as a Lapis Lazuli. While they weren’t common gems, like a Peridot or a Ruby, they weren’t rare like a Sapphire either. They were terraformers, often sent to conquered planters to shape the landmass to what was needed. Helping to spread the glory of Homeworld in her own way so more gems could be made.

Lapis had loved doing that. Dancing through the sky, waving her hands gracefully to move the water to her whim. She had been powerful and beautiful, like all Lapis Lazulis. She had been one of many, happy to not stand out. And then she had been placed into a mirror by Homeworld, unable to move or speak.

Only able to look into darkness as she was stored into a Pearl’s gem, aware of every second that passed slowly. And then there had been the crushing weight of the ocean, and Lapis being fully aware that she could free herself at any moment. A single twitch of her finger, and Malachite would have been able to leave.

The knowledge that she had imprisoned herself that time… Lapis shivered at the memory of the weight of shackles on her wrists, the too many arms that moved without her control at times and the eyes that had blinked out of sync.

She would never be imprisoned again. Not by any Gem, including herself.

Now though, as she flew past planets that she may have helped terraform, the sight of the colonies made her feel sick. She avoided them as she searched for the items Peridot needed, although searching for the items was difficult. All the rocks Peridot had described looked similar to her, one shiny black rock like another. But Peridot insisted they had different mineral quantities, that they caused different reactions and had different… something.

Lapis had zoned out at that point and had merely started to gather everything that seemed to match her description. Peridot would know what she was looking for and, hey, extra rocks and liquid that she could use. Plus Lapis didn’t need to worry about carrying capacity as she travelled, which helped. She just had to worry about hiding from Homeworld and not think.

Originally, she hadn’t wanted to think about what they could be doing to Steven. The awful, awful tortures they could be inflicting. It was good he was part organic, because otherwise they could have found him inside a mirror as well. Or… or something worse. Trapped alone on Homeworld, torn apart slowly for information on the Crystal Gems. Gem slowly ground to dust, now just material to be used for anything else Homeworld could think of. Lapis had had to try so hard not to panic when she learned he’d been taken, but all she had been able to remember was the mirror.

The mirror and the crushing weight of the ocean bearing down onto her.

But now she had something new to not think about.

She was trying to help the Crystal Gems rescue a Diamond. Peridot had told her the last time Lapis had returned to Earth. Bright, excited smiles as she talked about how Steven was Pink Diamond and how that could change everything. It meant that Steven was guaranteed to be alive.

Then Peridot had mentioned wanting to add a pink diamond to her uniform, because Steven was part of the Crystal Gems and so was she, and Lapis suddenly had needed to leave the planet again. The weight had become too much to bear again. It was suddenly grinding her down to dust, wearing her away.

And Lapis was happy Steven was alive, she was, but… Lapis didn’t want to be near Homeworld or the Diamonds. She was scared, even if Steven seemed to reassure her whenever she was near him. Steven was Steven, but Steven was apparently Pink Diamond. And the Diamonds were the worst, destroying everything they touched.

But if he was Pink Diamond and Rose Quartz, why had she been hurt?

If Pink Diamond had been Rose Quartz, then what had been the point of the war and the colonisation of Earth and Lapis beings trapped in a mirror for thousands of years? Had all of her suffering been for nothing?

Lapis swooped down onto a planet which hadn’t been colonised, looking at the purple landmass sadly.

She could leave Earth.

She could take Peridot and run. They would be safe on a planet like this. Peridot could do her experiments and Lapis could enjoy the peace. And when Homeworld came for this planet, they could move on. They could keep moving and avoid everything. The Diamonds would never leave the Earth in peace, and when they came…

Lapis shivered.

When they came, it would be better for everyone if the Crystal Gems weren’t on Earth. How could they fight the Diamonds? The might of Homeworld?

But Lapis already knew Peridot would refuse. That was what Lapis respected about her, how Peridot never gave up. Peridot was brave, and she thought Lapis was brave too.

Lapis leant down, starting to collect whatever seemed usable. She wasn’t made for science, but she could do this. She even giggled as she tried to pick up an odd looking rock, which shone like light through water as its carapace moved to defend itself. The rock, actually a small alien, waved six legs angrily at her before it scuttled off.

Once, Lapis wouldn’t have cared that this planet had life on it. She would have torn the landmass into chunks and laughed happily. She would have called her work beautiful if asked, not that anyone ever had, and been proud of herself. She would have been proud to serve. Proud to merely exist.

Serving a Diamond she had only seen pictures of, but knowing deep inside her that she only existed for that one gem. Wasn’t that pathetic? And what was even more pathetic was the knowledge that, if she had ran… Steven would have understood. He would have been sad, but he would have understood why she did it.

That was why Lapis kept gathering the numerous rocks and plants. She couldn’t fight Homeworld. She would be too afraid to step through the portal, too afraid to even consider it. But she could fight back by doing this.

The light purple grass was ripped up in chunks and placed in the box she had floating behind her. It had been designed by Peridot to be able to store more items than it should be able to. Peridot had explained the science behind it when placing the box in the barn all those months ago. Lapis had been too busy reading manga to listen, but the attempt had been appreciated. Peridots were just happy to be able to tell anyone about their work. It was how they were made.

Like how Lapis had enjoyed dancing with water before something inside of her had broken.

Because she was broken.

She was a Lapis who didn’t want to terraform.

She didn’t really want to do anything anymore, except read and watch tv. She didn’t have a place anymore, and that was ok. It had taken a long time to acknowledge that it was ok to just… not do anything for a bigger goal. That she wasn’t worthless because she spent all her time reading.

Farming had been fun though, even if it was a pointless activity. She might do more of that one day. When Steven was back and Lapis could return to pretending that the Earth wasn’t going to fall to Homeworld one day. Ignoring the fact that one day she would lose everything she had.

Lapis ran a thumb over a strand of grass, leaving a small layer of purple dust on the tip.

Could she grow some of this grass on Earth?

She pulled up more plants. The orange flowers tipped with silver, she pulled the branches off the trees, having to be careful so the pink flowers didn’t disappear in a cloud of petals. Picking up all the rocks and dirt she could.

She wasn’t sure what Peridot had needed, but the small green gem always smiled so brightly when Lapis presented her new organic matter. Anything helped, so Lapis kept gathering all she could get her hands on. The one thing she didn’t do, was try to catch the small organics.

The rock-like organics that rolled past her sometimes. The flying organics with four wings that fluttered over to her and pecked at her hair curiously, the wings changing colour in the dying light of the sun setting. Lapis didn’t try to collect any of them, because Steven wouldn’t want to be saved at the cost of organic life.

Lapis paused, and smiled sadly.

Yeah, that was right. A Diamond didn’t care about the planets or the life on them, but Steven did. Steven wanted to protect everyone, even if they were a Homeworld Gem who everyone thought was an enemy. Homeworld Diamonds didn’t care about things like that, they just wanted results.

Feeling lighter, she kept working.

She’d never belong to a Court again, but she was fine with that. And Steven would never force her into one. He would never ask her to terraform a planet either. For now, Lapis focused on that and not the uncertain future ahead of her.