It helped that a vast majority of the Crystal Gems already knew how humans acted, and that dinner was not a curious ritual. Only two or three looked on while Steven ate, and frankly it was less scrutinizing than he would’ve initially thought.
It was like going out with friends, and he simply didn’t eat as fast as them. It was an unexpected normalcy, or something he could spin as such.
“Want to try some?” he asked, cutting through the waffle and letting it soak in some golden syrup.
A Topaz sitting to the right of him, Sunlight, raised up her hand and Steven gave her the fork. She chewed on it, leaving the tongs of the fork slightly warped, and nodded her head.
“Maybe more than you’re used to?”
Connie would usually talk about excess sugar and corn syrup, and a lot would have changed since the final Gem War.
“Can I try?” an Emerald asked, from across him. She hadn’t taken on a name but her clothes were vastly different, a plain V-shirt and overalls.
Steven tried his best to fix the tongs and then speared another portion of sweetened waffle, and passed it to her.
Her eyes got wide, and she pointed at the syrup.
“What is that? What is it?”
“Syrup,” Steven replied. He heard an impromptu karaoke session behind him, lead by Amethyst. A chorus of gems sang in tandem with her.
“Can I have more?” Emerald asked, and she reached forward with the fork without an answer.
“Let him eat,” the Aquamarine next to Steven’s left said. She was taller than him, and she fiddled with her ribbon as Emerald looked on guiltily.
“Sorry,” she said finally, giving the fork back to him. “Aqua, it tasted so good.”
“You always did like the sweet Earth foods,” Aquamarine said. She grinned and leaned in to whisper to Steven.
“Once I caught her after she ate a whole bush’s worth of blueberries.”
He tried not to laugh and coughed instead. He hit his chest once.
“I remember,” Sunlight said, pointing at the last waffle on his plate, “This is for breakfast. This morning, I read it in the…”
“The cook book?” Steven asked.
“Sometimes I like to eat breakfast for dinner.”
A murmur went up around him. He split up the last waffle for the four of them to share, and took the dirty plate and slightly warped fork to the sink. Steven found that the plug was in and the sink was full of water.
A tiny pair of gems were bobbing in the water, sounding happy, but the thought of them going down the drain sent a shiver down Steven’s spine.
“Get out of the sink,” he said worriedly, scooping up the diminutive gems. He placed them on the counter and took out the plug from the sink. They looked up at him a mixture of cheeky and annoyed in their expressions.
“I can find a bowl for you,” he said as a compromise, and they watched as he got it out from the cupboard. They looked at it with suspicion because of its size compared to the sink, but when they got used to it they were playing again.
He breathed out, and looked out at the general vicinity of the house.
“Hey, everyone!” he called. It got quiet for a few moments.
“I’m going to sleep now,” Steven said. “I’ll see you all tomorrow, good night!”
There was some chatter as gems left out the door or the warp pad, and his ears felt strange at the silence.
He got ready for bed, and stayed very still with his calming music nearby. But when Steven finally sat up, wondering why he couldn’t sleep, he found that it was only thirty minutes later.
“What am I going to – “ Something bodily struck against him. “Ah, Lion!”
Steven was greeted by a yawning maw, and then Lion grumbled and licked his chops.
“Guess you want me to sleep, too?” he asked.
Something piercing was in Lion’s silent gaze and an idea clicked in Steven’s brain.
He stepped through the mane in one swift motion, and covered up his mouth and nose. When he made it to the chest his face felt like it was on fire and falling out of the mane with the chest in his arms was an absolute relief.
“So, this?” Steven asked, when the chest was in his hands and he got a better look.
It was more difficult this time around, but he let his mind wander with what it could contain. There could be a strange gem treasure inside, but his mind strangely, eagerly, went to the mundane. He could easily picture a piece of merchandise from his dad’s defunct band resting in this ornate box.
It opened easily, and there was a bundle of paper, all different textures and envelopes and folded paper. The one at the top was only folded once, and Steven gingerly picked it up.
“Hello, Rose,” it read in Pearl’s familiar script, and Steven carefully set it down on his comforter.
There were drawings in the folded paper, too, inked drawings and crayon and charcoal, all addressed to his mother.
There were three envelopes at the very bottom, different because they in Rose’s handwriting and they were addressed to the other Diamonds. They were still sealed, and he let them stay buried.
The rest of the letters, from gems and humans, from the ordinary day to day life to letters that contained sweetness or gratitude, and the normal scent of paper however old it was proved to be comforting.
Steven carefully placed the letters and envelopes and drawings on folded or scraps of paper back into the chest. It closed softly.
He set it at the foot of his bed, Lion sleeping nearby, and he laid back down on the bed.
Reading those letter wasn’t painful, as it might’ve been not so long ago. It only proved, now, that he was himself.