Today marked an entire month since the events that transpired on Homeworld. Steven, of course, had no way to forget that. Even with everything that had occurred in the past month from the uncorrupting of gems to the complete pardon of the rebellion still felt like nothing compared to what happened there . The feelings still burn in the back of his mind, but only in his dreams can he see the vivid imagery that had been repressed in his waking mind. Now that an entire month had passed, the reality of what happened was smacking him upside the head.
He hadn't been talking too much as of today. Upon waking up that morning, Pearl had been the only one in the house, well, the work in progress house anyways. It spared him a bit of speaking, so for once, he was glad that Amethyst and Garnet were both already out of the temple. Amethyst had already taken off to hang with the other Earth amethysts who had arrived the previous night. The half-gem didn’t have the brightest idea of where Garnet was off to with her future vision and all. The white gem had cooked him breakfast (which ended up being pancakes.) while asking about what he was going to do today as she usually did. Of course, his signature cheerful grin and bright positivism held up on its own as he spoke to Pearl. He didn't need her poking and prodding at his problems- the gems had more important things to attend to, especially since the remainder of the original crystal gem allies had finally returned to their original state. It would be a mess to talk about anyways.
The funny part is that he never told them. Not even a word slipped by at what happened between their mind controlling and White's off-coloring.
The rest of the day went by in a blur, or at least it felt like it. He would wave and chat with some new gem he’d never met before. Which gem had he talked to most recently? The boy recalled that Bismuth was with her, so it was probably Biggs. Even that conversation didn't last long. Don’t get him wrong, Biggs was cool, but Steven just wasn’t chatty today.
As for the rest of the day, he couldn’t remember it if he tried.
Steven had decided to try and finally get by the day alone as he sat atop the cliff, his legs gently dangling off the edge. His dark eyes scanned the endless ocean waves before him, the setting sun dying the water a soft orange-pink. That's all he needed, just a break. The Diamonds wanted him back on Homeworld so he could help them out with 'political affairs', but he wasn't quite ready to be near White, nor the other diamonds for an extended period of time, so of course, he politely declined for now. Unconsciously, his left hand had moved to clutch the cloth of his shirt directly over his gem while his right hand rested on the grass behind him.
One part of him wanted to tell the gems, his family. The other… the other didn't want to relive those distant memories. How would they react? He was helplessly dying just mere feet in front of them. The pink gem who formed from his gem wasn't even his mom. Their leader, Rose Quartz , was gone for good, and never coming back.
She was really gone, and he is all that was left behind.
The ground shook as if a sudden earthquake had passed. Its voice was so loud, so deafening . He could see the pain on his own pale face, as well as the emotionless husk of the pink ‘him’. A ringing was sent through his ears and into his mind as the noise lessened back into a dull silence. He could still see a pale hand reaching around, and a weak voice pleading for it, his own gem, to stop.
His grip on his shirt tightened, and he bit his lip. Now wasn’t the time to be lost in memories. A wetness made itself known on his cheek as a single tear made a track down the side of his face. Without missing a beat, Steven reached up and wiped at his eyes with his right hand, but to his dismay, more tears fell in its place. It was useless. The world around him seemed to fuzz and spin, and closing his eyes was the best thing he could do to keep himself from throwing up. His legs drawled back from dangling, and he curled into fetal position. One hand remained hovering over his gem while the other furiously wiped at his eyes.
It’s time to come out, Pink.
Something foreign made contact with his shoulder, resulting in the hybrid jumping to his feet with a sloppy turn. His shield materialized on his hand out of pure instinct, and he took a step back, only to realize too late that he was still on the cliff side. His right foot stepped on vacant air, and he started to tip backwards. Well, that was until a pair of warm hands clasped around his flailing right arm, effectively pulling him back onto the clifftop. Tears blurred his vision, and a soft sob racked his shoulders. Something shoved his shield out the way, and he felt arms wrap around his back in the form of a hug, and settled him closer to the ground.
“Steven, it’s okay! I’m here, you’re here. We’re fine.”
That… wasn’t from a memory. He was sure of it.
His attention snapped back to reality, and for once he could see through the stream of tears. Dark brown hair came into view, and only then did he notice it tickling his neck. It was Connie. He thought. Not a threat. The pink shield dissipated, and his breath hitched as he returned the hug. Connie’s arms had relaxed in return now that she had his attention. Steven’s clouded black eyes sought her own, and the two easily made eye contact.
“Connie?” Steven had managed to breathe. “What… What are you doing here?”
The girl looked taken aback. Her own eyes narrowed in concern, and she shook her head. “What am I doing here? What about you? Why aren’t you back at the temple or with the gems?” Connie had asked him out of bewilderment. Their hug had ceased, but the two were sitting no more than a few inches apart.
"I-" He swallowed thickly. What was he supposed to say? Words were lost in his tongue, and his gaze diverted to look at the lighthouse instead of Connie.
"I've been looking everywhere for you! I caught Garnet as she was warping back into the temple, and she said you'd be here." Connie continued to explain, but Steven still wouldn't look at her again. The lighthouse suddenly felt very interesting to look at.
"I'm okay," he began softly, "I just wanted to enjoy the view for a little while." That was only the partial truth, but maybe Connie wouldn't dive into it this time.
"Steven…" The younger girl began. "You were crying. You didn't even notice me walking up behind you." She noted while messing with her short hair. Steven glanced back for a second to see that it was down. Just like then. Connie was there you know. You can talk to her. His mind willed. You need to talk about it. She'll understand!
"No, I can't!" He shouted aloud, only to sharply turn his head away from Connie again.
"You can't what? Steven, what's going on?"
"I can't, not again." Steven's knees drew back towards his chest again. "Not again ." He repeated, but his voice had hardly reached over a whisper. Fabric brushed on his leg as Connie scooted over to sit right next to him instead of across from him.
"You remember what Garnet said once, right?" She asked him gently.
He didn't answer. He didn't want to. He just couldn't.
"It's okay to think about it. That's the only way you can move on and start feeling alright again, remember?" Connie continued to soothe as her hands moved to clasp Steven's right one comfortingly. In a way, her touch was just so… grounding. For the first time that day, the memories faded to a dull hum in his mind.
With that, he finally answered in an exhausted tone. "It's been a month, Connie." His left hand once again went back hovering over his gem. "I almost died on Homeworld."
Connie didn't say anything at first. Steven was afraid that she would get up and walk away. Maybe she didn't want to be reminded of the incident either. Maybe she was too weirded out by him to talk about it. Maybe-
"But you didn't," Her grasp on Steven's hand strengthened slightly. "You survived just like you always do." Connie reacted confidently. Something within Steven tugged, and the best he could do was stare at his best friend that was sitting to his right. There was still one major problem with this entire situation.
"Rose Quartz is gone, Connie. I haven't even told them about it." His voice dropped to a low rasp.
"You were worried about being your own person for so long. You were always getting mixed up with some magical destiny kind of stuff." She let go of his right hand in order to stand up next to him, and then proceeded to extend her same hand towards him again. "You're your own person with your own magical destiny, and you know that for sure now. You don't have to walk in anyone's footsteps anymore."
Leave it to Connie to always know exactly what to say. Steven sniffled before clasping hands with Connie, who had then helped pull him back on to his own two feet. His left hand eased off of his shirt, and he dragged his arm across his eyes. She was right. He didn't have to worry about Pink Diamond or Rose Quartz and her legacy anymore. He isn't Rose, nor will he ever be, and that's okay. I've always been me. A wobbly smile crawled into his face, and a soft laugh rumbled in his throat. "Jam buds?"
Connie blinked at him for a moment before breaking into a grin. "Jam buds."
Steven pulled Connie close to him, and wrapped his arms around her in a proper hug compared to the sloppy one he returned early. His chin rested on her back, and his wobbly smile shifted into a real one. The sun had shifted below the horizon, and stars were starting to show their light above. The breeze ruffled his curly hair, and for once, everything was okay. The world was at peace. Nothing to fear, no one to fight. He could do this one step at a time no matter how long it takes.
"Thanks for everything."