It just doesn't feel right. That sentence could apply to a lot of aspects of Homeworld, Steven thought, but this one stood out to him.
In front of him was a wall. An almost perfect reflection of the wall on the other side of the hallway. A wall made up of several decorative panels, that would be seen as relatively regal if it were a simply a wall. But the moving, living faces that adorned every panel took away some of the artistry. He had recently come up with a plan that would fix a good portion of all his problems: hold a ball to force White Diamond's hand, fix corruption, make Homeworld a non-slave zone with his new family. Easy. He began planning the ball out of necessity, but if he were to be honest, he loved planning stuff like this, and apparently, so did his mother. Chip off the old block, he thought. He was walking around the complex, taking stock of what types of beings even had the ability to show up, let alone who would be allowed to show up. He guessed that a singing comb probably wouldn't be allowed to show up, but it never hurt to ask.
While wandering about, he stumbled upon a wall of faces, an image that he's not sure he'll ever be able to get out of his mind. It was the same group that he had briefly tried to make contact with before, but came up empty handed. This time, he was determined to get an answer to one of the several dozen questions he had.
"So..." Steven began, addressing the faces, not entirely sure which direction this sentence was going to take before he started talking, "What are you guys up to?"
No response from the group, all whom were looking to the ceiling.
"I heard you guys talk earlier!" He exclaimed. No reaction. "I saw one of you look away to me saying 'hi', so I know you can hear me!" He looked over to the one he thought he tried talking to earlier, and saw the one next to it blush in response. "A-ha!"
He ran over to be directly in front of the panel that made it's presence known. "I just want to talk to you, find out more about you." The panel moved its eyes down in response, still refusing to break its silence. He put on the best tough guy act he could muster, "I'll pull rank on you! I can order you to talk!...I think," he halfheartedly bluffed. The face appeared more stressed, but not a peep escaped it's lips. Steven sighed. "Fine. Sorry to bother you." He turned to leave the hall, but just as he got to the end, he heard a yell.
He turned around, almost certain that he knew who said that. "Sorry for what?"
The panel he pestered spoke up, "I'm sorry for making you notice me."
He began to walk back towards it, "Well, that's okay. You don't need to apologize to for that."
The panel made direct eye contact with him for the first time, "I don't?"
"No, no," he awkwardly chuckled out, "Well, not around me you don't. I'm not the same as the other gems around here."
A smile started to break across the panel's face, "Really?"
"Really," Steven said, finally back to facing the panel directly, "I want to hear what you have to say."
The smile of the panel was in full force now, "Wow, thanks Pink Diamond! Is it okay if the others can talk too?"
"Sure!" Steven said, matching the newfound enthusiasm in the hall.
Suddenly, a cacophony of chatter broke out. Conversations ranging from gossip to humorous anecdotes to gossip to heart-to-hearts to gossip and even some gossip began in mid sentence, with Steven almost certain that this is what was being discussed before he let his presence known. "Huh."
Turning his attention back to the panel who got things kicked off, he started off with his long list of questions. "So, do you have a name?"
"I don't know," the panel responded, matter-of-fact, but still wearing a bright smile.
"Oh okay, so what kind of gem type are you?"
"I...don't know," the smile shrinking a small amount.
Steven's expression began to mirror the panel in front of him. "Well, how long have you been here?"
"Um...I...don't know." The panel's face was drooping far more than Steven had ever seen any panel's face droop.
"Well...What do you know?" Steven pleaded, desperate to get any sort of answer.
This lit up the panel a bit, "I know that Yellow Diamond's Pearl is a kiss up!" Many of the other panels stopped what they were talking about to hear what kind of reaction this so far helpful being would have. Luckily for them, the statement got a bit of a chuckle from Steven. They returned to their conversations, emboldened even further.
"That is...something," he said. So they've got a sense of humor, he noted, that's nice. but that's not really what I'm after right now. "But I more meant, do you know anything about yourself?"
The panel thought hard, and eventually came up with an answer that Steven didn't want to hear, "Um...no, not really."
Steven sighed again, "Alright, thanks for talking to me anyw-"
"But you could probably find out about us if you want," the panel interrupted.
"Yeah," a different panel from his left called out, "Everything about everything is recorded in an archive somewhere-"
"Fifth floor of the right most exo-tower!" a different panel called out.
"Oh! Thank you!" Steven yelled down the hall. Turning his attention back to the panel, he asked, "Do you want to know what I find out?"
He didn't expect that question to garner the attention that it did, but every conversation quickly cut off and he felt all pairs of eyes on him. "You would do that?!" yelled the panel in front.
"Absolutely, it's not fair that you guys don't get to know about yourself!" he yelled back. Suddenly every panel was blurting out to him, thanking him for the knowledge he promised to share.
"Wow, thanks Pink Diamond!"
"You're the best, Pink Diamond!"
"I heard he wants to be called 'Pink Steven' now."
"Really? Okay, you're so merciful, Pink Steven!"
"You're legacy will last forever, Pink Steven!"
Close enough. I'm glad that I can help these people out. I've got a real knack for this benevolent ruler thing.
He walked through the hallway, not exactly displeased at hoards of voices praising him.
"You're my favorite Diamond, Pink Steven!"
"It's so good to have you back, Pink Steven!"
"I hope you make everyone as kind as you are!"
"They're gonna hate the new you."
"I've been waiting for so long to find out what you'll soon know!"
One of the last things he heard before leaving the hall caught his attention, something about someone hating him. He looked at the last few panels, and saw that the second to last one was different than all the rest. This one was the only one not cheering his name. This one was sporting a judgmental face. And this one happened to have multiple repaired cracks in it and was slightly smudged. He walked back to it, more than a little apprehensive. "Who's gonna hate me?" he asked of the only panel going against the grain.
"Blue and Yellow Diamond," it responded, with an answer that Steven feared but did not want to hear. "I've heard those two and their Pearls talking. I'm also the only one here to remember you before you left." The panel gave time for Steven to absorb what it was saying. "And you've changed. They like the memory of you, they're not gonna like that you don't match that memory perfectly."
Steven tried to put on a brave face after receiving this new information. "Yeah...Well, not to be rude, but you're a wall."
The panel brushed off the insult with no issue. "Exactly. All I can do is listen, talk, watch, and think. And I think quite a bit." The panel talked in a more hushed voice, forcing Steven to get closer if he wanted to hear over the crowd of other panels. "You seem nicer. You seem better. You seem at odds with what the other Diamonds want. That's why I'm warning you: Be. Careful."
The face seemed to be done talking, and after listening to what it had to say, Steven didn't feel like sticking around to hear the heaps of praise being thrown at him. He scampered from the hall, giving one last look to the older panel, who had already turned away. He didn't want to deviate his plans. He couldn't. The ball must go on. But for the first time since he had arrived here, Steven realized that his new way of thinking might not be so accepted.