Actions

Work Header

Over Their Garden

Chapter Text

"Not now, Spinel." 

Spinel took a step back. That was new, Yellow had never said anything like that to her before. Now she seemed annoyed, occupied, and just... disinterested in Spinel. The little pink gem stood there with tools in her hands that she was just about to juggle, looking up at the tall Yellow Diamond on her working seat. 

"But I prepared this sequence just for you. I practiced all day!" 

"I am in the middle of disbanding another colony, give me a break." 

It wasn't exactly the first time she had suspected that the diamonds felt this way about her - tired of her and secretly hate her - she was scared of that being true at any given moment. But it was one of those times when she actually came close to having proof of that. 

Spinel placed down the chainsaws she didn't get to use and went to find Blue. She was better, she was more emotional, she'd understand. 

But Blue was no better. She tried to shoo Spinel away when she came closer, and in the end made her cry for a good while and left her alone in the dark, throwing one last "You're not her" as she exited the room. 

Once Spinel was done forcibly crying, she decided she'd seek comfort of the one above both of them. The White Diamond.

 She greeted pink-white pearl on her way into the room, and once she saw White - standing tall in the middle of a white lit room, seemingly being the source of said light herself - started to explain the situation. 

"First Yellow didn't have time for me, and yeah, I can understand that... she's busy... but when I came to Blue to talk about it - she told me that I was wrong to complain. And made me cry..."

"And what's the problem with that?" White Diamond blinked.

Spinel took a step back, looking up and not daring to believe what she was hearing, 

"Did you really think that you were here to take Pink Diamond's place? You're only here because Steven couldn't come, and we needed an entertainment. You've always been a toy, Spinel, and you'll always be one. The point of your life is to let people exploit you, that's how it is. So go and wait until we have time and need for you." 

From high up where she stood, White didn't see that Spinel was shaking. The pink little gem was curling her fists and shaking. She came all this way just to find out that she got nowhere. Maybe Pink really did have reasons to trick her into staying, if all she's good at is being annoying - that's what rushed through her mind now. 

She played it cool, as she could. It didn't seem like White cared anyways. Spinel walked out of there, as if nothing was wrong, but she knew where she'd go now. She knew she wouldn't be seeing the Diamonds for a while. 

She nodded at pink Pearl on her way out, sad that she had to part with a newly made friend. 

Pink Pearl looked at her with a sad expression. Then she glanced back at the big room where White Diamond resided.

 

A warp lit up in the dark room. Spinel landed onto the familiar warp pad safely, looking around and finding that... she was alone. She walked towards the exit of the familiar room. This is where Steven found her crying, and this is where she felt found for the first time... but it was empty now. 

How ironic. 

It was as empty as Spinel's hopes that Steven actually cared about her. He may not have seen Pink in her like the Diamonds did, but Spinel was sure that she was his nuisance, someone in his way and no more. She knew it since she thought and thought endlessly over all the times she had harmed him. Clearly, any kindness from him was just his hope not to get hit again or not to have her go apeshit on his planet again. 

She walked down the stairs until she made her way through his room. It was dark - "night" on planet Earth, it seems - the only light was coming from the lower floor. There was a sound of a happy family down there. A family Spinel never had a place in. Why would she?

She sat on the upper stairs, listening to the voices that came from below while staying unseen by them.

"What about Spinel?"  

"I hope she's doing great." Came from below in Steven's voice, "The diamonds aren't easy to deal with, but it's better than nothing." 

"Nothing?" Garnet asked, adjusting her shades as she raised her head at the stairs, her gesture causing Spinel to lay lower. 

"I mean... I just didn't see myself becoming her friend. I do like to see her around, but... healing her is just a mental weight I wasn't ready to bear." 

Just a weight on his shoulders, of course, what else. What else? What else did she think she could ever be for him?

Spinel would have punched the wall next to her, but she couldn't bring herself to get noticed, she couldn't face Steven like that. There was a part of her that wanted to believe that he cared about her.

Garnet frowned, checking out something in the future. Then she stood up from her spot on the couch next to Steven, and slowly made her way to the stairs. 

Spinel would have ran away and hid, but it caught up to her that Garnet already knew she was there. Still, she probably would have respected Spinel's desire to stay hidden. But at the moment the pink gem couldn't find the mental powers to run. She still remembered spending a single happy day of her recent life with happy cotton candy Garnet. 

Even if it was a lie in every aspect - she had fun. And she held those memories dear, sometimes wishing she could go back there. 

So Garnet held a status of just a slightly "safer" gem to be around in her eyes. 

Garnet walked up, stopped when her head leveled with Spinel's - she had to stand fairly lower for that - and reached her hand out, palm up, inviting the pink gem to join them. 

After a minute of hesitation, Spinel placed her hand in Garnet's palm, and didn't show signs of protests as the honourable fusion led her down by the hand. 

The sensation rang a familiar bell in her head… 

"Look who's here." 

"Oh, hey Spinel." Steven raised his arm to wave at her from the couch. 

By that time Spinel had mentally decided she would pretend that she didn't hear anything he said before. 

"Hey Steven." Damn it. The way his name tasted on her lips still made her feel a little tingle every time she said it. She wanted to say it again and again… what a weird sort of stimming. 

The mom - well, the Garnet - came down further, looking back to make sure that Spinel was following. She sat back down on the couch, but just a bit farther from Steven than she was before, tapping a now empty space for Spinel to occupy. And Spinel obliged. 

It felt special. Spinel said nothing, but it felt special to sit down, with Amethyst and Steven to her right, Garnet to her left, and Pearl sitting on the pillow on the floor, by the table that had cups of warm tea and some pastries, out of which she only recognized donuts. Peace and serenity filled the air, along the soft humming of the old songs from the radio somewhere on the shelf, and soft chatter of the family of gems around her. 

This felt like home. Just not her own. 

The whole evening Spinel didn't say much. She loved watching the scenery unfold, but had nothing to contribute, spare for a few convenient puns that caused bursts of laughter and giggles around her. She still had no experience with a loving family. But make it known? Won't she end up guilt tripping anyone if she spoke about how she felt now? Or was it right to reach out… 

The crystal gems stretched and talked about how it was getting late, and they would be going to their rooms, or other destinations. Before leaving, Garnet placed her hand on Spinel's shoulder, hoping to nudge her in the right direction. 

Then it was just her and Steven in the room. 

Spinel sat leaning against the back of the couch, one leg raised up on it, as she fidgeted with her fingers quietly. She didn’t have anything to voice. She had a lot to say, but nothing that she could actually tell Steven. Not yet anyways. Maybe never.

But Steven broke the silence first. 

"Uhm, Spinel? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to see you anytime, but is there any particular reason that you came here tonight? We usually plan our meetings ahead, is all." 

Spinel avoided looking him in the eyes, rubbing her hands together nervously. She wanted to lie, she really did, and maybe it would have been for the better… 

What would she lie? That she just wanted to see Steven again? It would have been truth, and not the one Spinel intended to share. 

"Do the Diamonds know you're here?" 

Somehow the exact question that she dreaded caught her off guard. She just looked away, her expression confused and saddened. 

"Did they do something wrong? You can tell me, I know how they can be." 

Steven knew Spinel had things to work on, but he didn't expect that it'd be that bad by now. He had managed to fix his whole hometown since the last time she was on Earth, and Spinel only seemed to get worse with communicating by that time. 

Finally she looked at him again, "Can I stay on Earth?"

She had nothing else to say, and nowhere else to go. 

"I… can make myself useful. I learned about your planet's "working system", I can find myself a job and a place to live in - I'm sure the Little Homeworld could use someone of my attributes for building it." 

Did she even have to ask him something like that? Technically it was his planet, so it was probably polite to ask before moving in. But what if Steven told her no? 

"I mean - sure. I don't control you." How wrong he is, "But I think we should tell the Diamonds that you're safe before they sound the alarms back on Homeworld." 

The expression on her face didn't give him any good hopes for her. Yet he still carried out with standing up and inviting her back to the warp pad room, where his equivalent of space Skype was installed into the computer. 

Once there, just before he called the Diamonds - a hand stretched across the whole room and tried to gently tug his own back from the keyboard. 

"Steven, I just want to try again." The shiver in her voice was a little too noticeable. "I just want to be your friend. And I want to be better to you. I just… I just want us to be friends." 

Steven raised his hands up slowly, in a calming manner, "Spinel, it's okay. I don't think we ever stopped being friends - I think you're my friend. And I'm sure you've been making progress and working on friendship. Nothing's wrong. I'm not mad at you. We're friends." 

He knew what to say to put her mind to ease, it seemed. Still she remained vigilant of everything going wrong and crumbling apart at any given moment. But she did thank him for the reassurance. 

She sat down on the floor just a little behind him, crossing and twirling her limbs, while he called the Diamonds. 

The screen lit up, and the three Diamonds all said almost in unison that they had lost Spinel. 

Steven looked unamused. 

"Yeah. And I found her." 

He stepped back, revealing Spinel from behind himself. The pink little gem gave a weak little smile. Maybe things weren't about to go horribly wrong after all?

"Oh, thank goodness she's there." White exclaimed, holding her hands to her chest and her forehead in a dramatic manner. "Spinel, we got sooooo worried that we had lost you. We couldn't bear to think we could have had the same story happen to us all over and over again!" 

"Sure seems like it already did." 

 

Spinel said in such a drastically deeper and grimmer tone that even Steven, who sat down on the floor next to her, leaned back and raised his hand up, elbow out. 

"What are you talking about?" 

"I know what Pink went through with you." 

"Well, yes, but it was in the past…" Murmured Yellow. 

"We changed now." Blue whispered with a smile. 

"And we just want to love you, Spinel." White spread her arms in a welcoming embrace. 

Spinel's posture changed from goofy noodly to just sitting down like a normal gem would, looking somber with her hands clutching together. Her hair slowly became more upwards and spikey, and the tension in her pose grew more apparent.  

"Yet you did to me exactly what you did to her." She raised her head suddenly, looking each one of them in the eyes as she spoke, "Yellow, I could understand you not having all the time in the world for me, but you were rude about it. Blue, you made- forced me to cry and locked me in Pink's old prison chamber. And White…" 

Steven was leaning with his back towards the screen and looking ahead at Spinel, ready to raise his shield at any given moment. She was on edge. It was bad. He was looking at her and expecting damage - so he didn't see White Diamond mouthing "Don't you dare" at her. 

"Oh I dare. White, you told me I was meant to be a playtoy for you Diamonds, nothing more. A honourable fucking entertainment. You compared me to Pink just to say that I would never mean as much to you as she did!" 

Having finished shouting, she stood up, her hands curled into fists and her hair long and standing upwards. 

It took Steven a while of video chatting with her to learn that her hair gave hints of her mood sometimes. And right now, this was aggression. 

He stood up, putting his hands up against Spinel. 

"Wow, wow. Spinel. Calm down. I'm sure they didn't meant it like that…" 

"Didn't mean it? That's exactly what they said!" She was in her rage mode now. It was bad. It was bad… 

"Of course we didn't!" White finally retaliated. "We would never stoop so low and go back to how we were with her… Why would we ever? How… dare you! After all our adoration and hospitality." 

Steven turned around at her "Hey, White, no. That's guilt tripping." 

"But it's true! Steven, we never said anything like that to her! I have no idea how she came up with that!" 

"I didn't come up with it!" Spinel barked. 

But then she saw Steven. How he switched between looking at her and glancing at the Diamonds with uncertainty, all while he kept his hands up for defense at her. 

It sunk in quick and clear. He didn't trust her. 

Her pigtails went down. 

"It's true, that's what they told me just a few hours ago!" She started to sound desperate instead of angry, and it only made it worse. 

"Steven," White addressed him in a calm and more determined tone, "Are you really going to believe a broken gem whom you had known for a few months, that had tried to kill you and your planet, or will you trust us - your… relatives? Us who cared about you for years now, and have grown so much more than she has?" 

Spinel wasn't angry any more. She was terrified. She didn't know what'd she do if Steven picked their side now.

"Steven. I'm not lying, I'm not lying to you! It's true!" 

She was clutching her gem now, and tears were coming out of her eyes. She hated it, she wishes she could stop it but she couldn't and the salty water burnt her face. 

She hated that he was looking at her with confusion at first, then after glancing at the Diamonds again - with disappointment. 

No, no, he could not be trusting them, no. 

Spinel fell to her knees when he remained silent with that face. 

Steven told the Diamonds he would call them back later and ended the call. 

Then he turned towards Spinel. 

She was still on the floor, now on all of her fours, crying all out. It didn't phase Steven, he always tried his best not to get guilt tripped by others. Not anymore anyways. 

He sighed deeply, before approaching her and sitting down next to her. 

"Spinel. I know you're not a bad person." 

She raised her head up, hope sparkling in her eyes momentarily. 

"I just don't want you to lie to me. I don't know why would you do that… but, I'm not mad. I'm disappointed, but not mad. It's… okay. We can keep being friends, but I just needs you to… try harder. And not try to lie to me to control me or something." 

Spinel replied something incomprehensible through her tears at first, "But I'm not lying!" 

"Just don't make this worse. I get it, you… maybe you thought the Diamonds would steal you from me, or me from you. That's why you… tried to set us against each other? You just asked for us to be friends a minute ago, right? Spinel, you don't have to lie and make schemes to spend time with me. And you certainly can't control how much time I'm willing to give you." 

How wrong again. 

The pink gem lowered her whole front part to the floor, gripping her hair. She wanted to rip it out, but doing it in front of Steven would have only made it worse. At this point, anything was only making it worse. 

"I swear… I'm not lying…" She tried one last time. 

"It's not working, Spinel." 

There was a long silent pause between them, during which her sobs very slowly ceased in frequency and volume. Steven wasn’t calming her down - he believed she was throwing a planned tantrum. He couldn’t give in to that, no matter how much the sight of her like that made him want to just hug her and tell her it was going to be okay, and he wouldn’t leave her. But she had to learn to be honest and non manipulative with him first, so he decided. So he just sat there, waiting. 

After a while Spinel stopped crying, her rage and fear momentarily being replaced by a hopeless numbness that consumed every last bit of emotions inside of her in a second. 

"Maybe this really isn't working." 

"I’ve grown immune to people crying for a while now, yeah. Spinel, we can be friends, but you will have to work on being more honest and-"

"Maybe it's not working for us to be friends." Spinel clarified, sitting up, "Friendship… is built on a trust. And we… don't have it." 

Could she blame him? She could not. He was an Angel with a halo shining above his curly hair. And she was a worthless little demon. 

"Oh. I didn't think of it like that…" Steven was surprised by that statement. Somehow he was sure that Spinel would never be the one to lose hope in being his friend. She'd always cling to him needily is what he thought. 

"I'm sorry, Steven." She wiped her tears calmly, avoiding eye contact, "I guess I should go. I'll be fine. Though I'm not coming back to the Diamonds." 

This turn around made Steven experience emotions he never expected to feel, neither be able to name them. 

As she started to stand up, a human-ish hand landed over her own. 

Hope almost sparked up when she saw Steven's concerned look on her. Did he care… 

But… then she remembered his only reason to look at her this way. Right. 

She took his hand in her own, lifting it up, "I guess you don't really trust me, but… I promise to you that I won't go trying to destroy you or your planet, or your friends this time. No one and nothing that you hold dear will be hurt this time. I promise, even if it means nothing to you." 

She let go of his hand as soon as she said it, now standing up and heading out slowly. 

Every step she hoped that she was wrong. That this wasn't Steven's only concern about her. That he'd realise what she meant by what she said and catch up and stop her... but he never did. He just stood there, watching her leave, then inspecting the floor of the room quietly. 

She made it all the way down to the entrance of the house. Passing by familiar scenery, she stopped and grabbed onto the safety bars, staring out at the endless sea. She pondered on where would she head now, when she heard a voice behind her… 

"Spinel." 

Garnet, who called her name, was leaning against the wall. When Spinel looked at her, Garnet took her shades off, looking her in the eyes with a softness Spinel was not used to seeing aimed at her. 

"Please. Don't." 

Spinel needed a moment to understand what she meant. It was in the back of her mind. Then she clenched her hands and walked off. 

~ ~ ~ 

Steven watched her leave, watched her hair hang lower than it usually did. He didn't stop her. He really wanted to help her, but he couldn't forgive her for lying to him like this, and then seemingly throwing a tantrum when he didn't believe her… 

Diamonds were right. He knew them for a few years and watched their development. But Spinel… just a few months. And he couldn't say he saw that much progress. 

She always talked about her life in the palace as if it was her job, losing which would mean losing life. During their calls she talked all about what she did for the Diamonds, often measuring her usability and worth by what she did for them each day. It was a bad sign, but one that Steven hoped would wear off over time, or the Diamonds would help her fight it. 

For now he rubbed his face and headed to prepare to sleep. 

~ ~ ~ 

It was getting dark as Spinel made her way to the Beach City, the little place she almost destroyed. Possibly twice. Maybe two and a half. No wonder Steven was so reluctant with her. Would she ever want to be a friend with someone who'd try to destroy her garden? In its prime time at least…
The Garden? She could always go back to the garden...

She didn't notice as she ended up nearby some sort of a bakery - a place she vaguely remembered from when she was rejuvenated and followed Steven around happily. Happily…  

There were familiar faces as she passed by. The pink human boy who liked to cook and his space pirates crew, she guessed. They seemed friendly towards her, down to the pink boy offering her a spare piece of cake he baked that day. She took the offer, asking what she owed, knowing the concept of currency just a little bit. 

"It's on the house for Steven's friends." Lars said, winking at her in a friendly manner. 

"I am... not his friend." Spinel replied very slowly. 

That caused an awkward silence, which she escaped by slowly walking away.

~ ~ ~ 

Little Homeworld seemed like a better place to stop at. Spinel thought a lot about herself and her issues. She was dependant, easily weakened by betrayal. She had to work on it if she wanted to get better, and in her head there was a plan - to learn to never need anyone again, so that she could never be hurt again. 

Easier thought than done. 

Little Homeworld didn't meet her warmly. The three gems she met before allowed her to help with the building process, but kept an eye on her as if they expected her to attack them at any moment. 

She thanked them for the opportunity, but went away. It wasn't what she looked for. She looked for a better place.

The local train was her last hope. She hoped on it, just like before, and allowed it to take her wherever it went… 

~ ~ ~ 

It was in the morning that the train arrived to the destination. 

The buildings were tall and the people were cold and rude. It was a town. Spinel roamed it, thinking that she could stay somewhere in it. Start over again. Who knows, she might even try to perform on the street, earn some human money to be able to occupy a space of her own in those anthouses of flats.

Maybe she'd find herself there.

~ ~ ~ 

Steven got up, filled with annoyance when the lights and sounds from the warp pad room just couldn’t be escaped in the safety of the pillow around his ears anymore. He slowly made his way over to the communication device and accepted the call after about 15 missed ones. 

A face of a little Pearl appeared before him. It was Pink Pearl, and despite having the most childish attitude that Steven ever saw a pearl have, she looked very serious at the moment. 

“Steven. There is something the Diamonds want to tell you.” 

She looked back at them, serious and expectant. The Diamonds weren’t facing the screen. 

“Tell him.” She said in her soft voice, with a firmness it was hard to believe she was capable of. “You know I heard you.” 

After puffing her cheeks in annoyance, White spoke first. 

“We… may have… misinformed you, Steven.” 

Steven straightened up. He felt a shiver run down his spine when he made a guess as to what they may have lied to him about. But he hoped that he was wrong. He pinched himself to make sure he wasn’t sleeping. 

Blue continued, “We really did tell Spinel to go away in a rather rude form.” 

“We didn’t want to disappoint you. At first… then we” Yellow glared at Pink Pearl “ “Realised” that we couldn’t get away with lying to you if we wanted to be… a good family.” 

“So maybe I did tell her that her purpose was to entertain… but Steven, was I wrong?” Snarled White. 

Steven fell to his knees. The image of Spinel crying her eyes out and promising that she wasn’t lying now flooding back and being clear as day before his eyes. 

“Are you f- Of course you are! Gems are more than their initial purpose! Had it not been the first thing I ever made you learn, how do you ever forget the first lesson you ever-” Steven paused, remembering some recent event in his life, where he forgot his own first lesson. Then kept going, “You have no idea what I did because of your lies!” 

The diamonds looked regretful as Steven scolded them, grasping his head. He ended the call abruptly, then ran down the stairs.

Hurting Spinel accidentally was one thing. Hurting her when she just wanted to find a reason to be mad was another. But hurting Spinel when she literally begged him for a change of heart and mind, and made it clear she just wanted to be friends was on a whole different level of cruelty. Of course she asked to be friends! Steven was kind. The other Diamonds weren't. She needed him, she was reaching out to have some kindness in her life…
And he slapped her hand. 

Steven put his jacket over his pajama and slipped into his slippers, running outside the house. That's where he was joined in his path. 

"Garnet!" He shouted in a small relief. "Garnet, I need your help. I screwed up, I told Spinel-"

"I know. Hurry, there is no time to lose." 

"No time? What are you talking about?"

Garnet didn't reply. She hoped she wouldn't have to explain. 

All she did was hurry him towards the Beach City. 

~ ~ ~ 

"What do you mean she told you that she wasn't my friend?"

"She said it really... slow and weird, then headed for the Little Homeworld." 

"Thanks anyways, let us know if she shows up here again."

"Sure... weirdos."

Steven and Garnet ran towards little Homeworld as fast as they could, as Lar’s voice faded behind. 

~ ~ ~ 

Spinel ran as fast as she could, hearing the people trying to catch up behind her. Who knew that other street performers would react so negatively to her trying to juggle in "their area"? Who knew that clowns were so territorial on this planet?

She should have found a spot where no one else was juggling, instead of trying to join in a team of jugglers just to outdo them with 7 chainsaws. 

And now they were running after her through the streets of this stranger town, with no good intentions in mind towards someone who supposedly tried to steal their show. 

Spinel wasn’t even thinking of fighting back. No, she wouldn’t dare harm any other lifeform on Steven’s planet. Not in those circumstances anyways. And she wasn’t even mad - she was scared. 

Spinel turned around momentarily to see if she ran far enough from them, and saw a rock fly in her direction. 

Then she heard a crack of a glass. 

~ ~ ~ 

Lapis hanged upside down from a scaffolding, "Spinel? Yeah, she was here a while ago. Said she wanted to help us with building, did some building, then went towards the uh... train station I think. What about it, Steven? Why are you running? Uh, well, okay, bye."

~ ~ ~ 

Finally having gained some distance, Spinel jumped onto the roof and hid behind a column by the edge. Alone in a safe spot, Spinel held onto her gem. She kept getting shiver attacks as her limbs shifted in length, out of her control this time. 

Her gem was cracked upon impact. She held onto it, feeling utterly terrified for what's to come once the crack would grow bigger. She was scared.  

And just a little bit at peace. No longer would she have to deal with feeling all emotions that she had to put up with once it’d be over. No longer she would have to put up with feeling anything about Steven… 

~ ~ ~ 

“Steven!” 

"Garnet! This must be the town she stopped at. They're talking about some sort of a pink performer who tried to steal their spot with juggling chainsaws."

"That must be her. Let's split up and search." 

~ ~ ~ 

Spinel though she heard a familiar voice. It must have been an illusion, or a cat - she was hiding on the roof of a building after all. It was the one place they didn't follow her up to, but now that she didn't control her stretching - she had no safe means of getting down from there. 

It was kind of windy. 

She stood up, approaching the edge of the roof she was on, another attack of shivers almost knocking her over that edge. Down below on the ground she saw a fence and spikes - anti homeless spikes, they were said to be. Made so that homeless people would have even more nowhere to be safe at. And that fence that stuck out of the ground between the two buildings looked very sharp...

"Spinel!" 

The pink gem shook in place at the sound of that voice. She turned around, noticing that she was no longer alone. 

Steven found her. Again. 

Again... as if she doesn't know what it was all about.

"Spinel. It's okay, let's go home now. I need to tell you… Why are you shaking... Spinel? Is your gem alright?" 

Spinel held onto her gem, looking on the verge of tears again. Steven must have hated that she was never stable with her emotions, he probably did. It hurt. She hated it, it hurt to think that he hated her and she hated it. Spinel just wanted him to... care. 

"Spinel, please. I'm worried for you." Steven reached his hand out, trying to take a step towards her, while the wind rustled their hairs and clothes. 

He could never. Not after thinking that she lied to him. Steven could never care about her like she wanted him to. Just like for Pink she was not good enough for him, she'd never be. 

It all hurt, and Spinel only knew one way to make it all stop hurting. 

Suddenly, she smiled faintly through her tears, looking up at Steven. For the boy the gesture somehow beared nothing good. 

She was standing on the edge of the roof. Having Steven in front of her. And having a deadly pit behind her. 

She feared facing one more than the other. So she faced the lesser fear. 

Spinel took a step back - and slowly saw Steven disappear above as she fell down, down, down right on the spikes. 

She felt like she was falling for a long time.

She heard a crack. 

She saw Steven look down from the roof, reaching his hand out as if there was anything to be done to save her now. 

She felt the spikes cut through her body and gem. 

And she pulled the most wicked smile she ever made, as her form poofed away, leaving behind a shattered gem.

~ ~ ~

Spinel slowly drifted back to consciousness in the vast emptiness of her gem. Everything was white and empty, idly emitting light that hurt her vision at first.  

Alive? How was she alive? She felt her gem crack, she knew it cracked back then, she shouldn't have been alive now... 

She couldn't figure out why was she still existing, drifting through her gem, in the blinding light that came from everywhere and nowhere. So she curled up in the void of her gem and tried to drown out all the feelings that slowly came flooding back, the feelings she tried so hard to escape, and failed even at that... 

 

Steven sat at home, with Spinel's gem in his hands. Steven may have put the two pieces of her heart back together, but it would take more than just that to help her. Luckily, crying on it when she had just poofed herself did the wanted trick and saved her from being shattered forever. Her gem was whole, but she wasn't reforming. 

And he guessed it was because she didn't want to. Didn't want to be there, didn't want to come back. Didn't want to live.

Steven thought a lot about her through the days when he sat silently, with her gem on a pillow next to him, and waited. He found that he cared - cared for Spinel's well being much more than he ever thought he did. 

At some point he was just afraid of upsetting her and endangering anyone else by the chances of her rage issues. 

But now... now he felt bad for her. Now he realised that Spinel was needing help all along, and he just didn't want to bother - and neither did anyone else. 

Now he realized what he should have done. Now he wished he had been there for her, been there for her like she dearly needed someone to hold her and tell her she would never be left behind again. Now he wished he could have made her feel that he really needed her. 

Was it too late?

On the fifth day Steven cried in front of her gem all day. At this point he wanted to be her friend - her best friend, bestest in the world - if it just meant that she'd want to live again. He found himself wanting her to live. And to live happily. And to be the reason she lives happily. That's how he knew... 

It took Steven to lose her to realise how much he needed her. 

He didn't tell the Diamonds anything yet. But he made a mental decision that this time, once Spinel reforms - he would be there for her. 

If Spinel reforms…

~ ~ ~ 

Steven laid on his bed with his phone, keeping one eye on the heart shaped gem that was neatly tucked into a towel on the opposite end of his bed. 

"You're letting the guilt get the best of you." His friend said over the phone. 

"I know, Connie. But... I really did mess up. I've lost that childish naive wish to befriend anything that tries to kill me, just when doing that would have saved... everyone. I mean," he glanced at the gem that laid idly, "I was so focused on my own happily ever after, and then everyone around, but her, I forgot that she was going through her own pain. But I'm going to do better now. If she reforms..." He paused.

"Of course she will. It's not like she can just... stay in her gem forever? I mean, the cluster has gem shards all over, and they're all still conscious. I'm sure she'll be back in no time. ... Just be careful, okay? Don't let her manipulate you again." 

"Connie..." Steven said in a disappointed tone, as he pinched his nose and closed his eyes in frustration. "She's not evil anymore. For real this time. I know it's in her..." 

He placed the phone down. 

"I just have to bring it out." He added quieter. 

Steven got up and made his way to the kitchen for a glass of water. During those recent days he'd ask any of the gems to watch after Spinel so that she wouldn't be alone when she reforms, but this time he decided that she certainly wouldn't respawn just as he leaves for a quick glass of water. 

And she respawned just as he left for a quick glass of water.

Her gem shined and raised up in the air. The heart shape turned upside down. Her limbs formed out. She fleshed out, pink and tainted by her trauma and pain. Alive again, she sighed sadly at that. And with that she slowly landed on his bed softly. 

How much time has passed, she wondered. 

Spinel took a sharp breath in, then looked around at her surroundings. His room? Why was she back in his room? Did he... bring her here? 

Oh no. Oh no, he must have saved her and now... Oh no no no, nothing good was coming now. Now he either was going to bubble her to avoid more trouble with her, or send her back to the Diamonds - she didn't want either to happen. 

She believed that now that she was back again - it was for the worst. Now if Steven pretended to care about her - it would be not only because he is afraid of her being evil again, but because he is afraid of her hurting herself. 

This was bad, this was... wait, who is that? 

Her focus changed. Spinel's eyes spotted a photo frame on the shelf. There was the human, what was his name, Um Greg Universe? And he was with some lady - the same one whose portrait hangs down the stairs. 

Everytime Spinel saw that lady - she felt a strange calling, but could never bring herself to question it aloud, or ask who was she.

Spinel jumped down from his bed and turned towards the balcony. She felt sure that she could easily jump down from it, run again, run better, run farther, start over, forget him, but she could never forget him... 

Her mind was racing all around, and then she heard a faint distorted voice from behind. 

"Steven? Steven, did you put your phone down?" 

It was coming from his little device on the bed. Quite awkwardly, Spinel picked it up, trying to figure out what was that and how it worked. She knew that voice. She heard it before. She hated it.

"...Hello?" Spinel squinted at the phone. 

"Oh! Spinel, hi." Came in a cheerful reply. 

"Connie... Marshmallow or something?" 

"Uh, close enough. How are you feeling, Spinel?" 

Of course. What else would she ask? 

"No I don’t feel like destroying the Earth or murdering." She hissed. 

On her end Connie frowned, "That's not what I meant-" 

"I get it, I get it. You wanted to know if was planning any more harm to anyone. He must have told you all about what I did by now..."

"That's not true! I mean, Steven told me, yes, but that's because he was concerned for you. You're his friend, and he-"

"I am not his friend." Spinel spat again, slowly as before. 

"Huh? I can get it if you're still angry at him-"

"Angry at him?!" She almost crushed the phone in her hand. "Listen here, sword girl." 

Steven was slowly making his way back up, when he heard the voice coming from above. He stopped and leaned against the wall, just barely peeking his head up above the stairs. He listened. 

"Steven isn't my friend. He is the one who doesn't want to be my friend. And why would he? All I did was cause harm to him, and to people he cares about, and to his planet. And now not only does he have to fear me harming people around myself, but also myself! He's not my friend, he's just afraid of what I can do if he doesn't play along this stupid little play pretend game of kindness." She took a single pause. "...And I can't blame him, let alone be mad at him. If I was him, I wouldn't want to be my friend either." 

"I'm not you." Steven said, now standing fully in her vicinity. She didn't even notice him come there.

Spinel almost dropped the phone.

Chapter Text

Spinel almost dropped the phone.

Steven had to take it slow here. With the state Spinel was in - he was dealing with a cornered animal. Spare for the fact that she cornered herself and let herself drown in all the self deprecation and the voices that always told her to assume the worst. Steven noted to account for that. She as assuming the worst of the situation. So he would have to tell her that that’s not so, even if she would need it spelled out like the alphabet. Which she probably would. 

He saw her glance at the window. No, no he couldn’t lose her again, when he had just found her. But to take a step closer would have certainly caused her to run. 

So Steven took a step back and kept his hands open, at waist level, palms up. He made his voice quieter as he spoke, causing Spinel to lean in and concentrate on him to hear him. 

So she wouldn’t abruptly go anywhere, he hoped. He had to keep it calm. Had to keep it calm with a personified soap bubble that was inching closer to popping at every moment. 

“Spinel. It’s alright. I’m not mad at you.” It was silly to even think that he could be mad at someone who was visibly hurting, but he knew what sort of inner demons she was dealing with. He hoped he knew that this was what she needed to hear now, “I’m… sorry. I should have believed you. After you left - the Diamonds called and-” 

Spinel took a step back, she kept a terrified expression the whole time. What else did they say about her? 

“And told me that they lied. They really did hurt you. I’m sorry, I should have believed you.” 

Spinel eyed him and his posture. She wasn’t used to this, wasn’t used to someone apologising to her. Not the first time he did it in the garden, not the second, and now she still couldn’t get a grasp of it. 

But she did stop being so wide eyed in fear, her face now in the frame of confusion. Her hands went down a little, opposed to being raised as she was ready to follow the flight instinct a moment ago. She placed his phone aside. 

“The Diamonds are sorry now. All four of them.” 

There was a small moment of confusion at his words from her. Was there a new Diamond in town while she was gone? She didn’t always connect that Steven was a pink diamond himself. He was just nothing like her… 

“I’m really sorry. And you have a right to be mad at me.”

A what? 

“But I do want to be your friend. And- and I know- I heard you say why do you think I want to be your friend. But… That’s not so, I promise. Spinel?” 

The last word was an ask for allowance to approach her, as Steven made a step towards her. 

Spinel wanted to run, she really did. She couldn’t understand where was he heading with any of it. Surely he was wanting to get rid of her, did he not? Oh, right! He was going to approach her and attack her! Poof and bubble her away, or rejuvinate her again and keep her that way. Oh well… 

Spinel stayed in place, although she did close her eyes and raise her shoulders. Come on, go on, do it. She accepts it. This was all a fake sweet talk to lower her guard so that he could strike anyways. 

Comfort didn’t exist. It just didn’t!! 

But so be it if it was Steven who was going to hurt her now. 

She heard Steven approach, felt him grab her hand (why did it feel special like that oh why did it have to feel like that?) and then… 

Spinel didn’t exactly understand what happened next, so she peeked one eye open cautiously, then looked at Steven with both her eyes open wide in surprise. He was down on one knee on the floor before her, with her hand gently residing between both of his ones. Spinel was confused, she didn't even know how to react to it. 

“Spinel.” He was speaking softly, looking up at her with that shine of purity in his eyes. “I’m so sorry. I… said a lot of things that were wrong to you. You deserve better. You were saying the truth and I should have trusted you. I made a mistake. I told you that you had to work on being better, but in the end it was me who still has to learn to be a better friend. And- and I want to be a better friend to you.” 

He felt her tug her hand back, and maybe it was a mistake at this point of time, but Steven kept his hold on her hand instead of letting go. 

“I heard you say why you think I want to be nice to you. But… I promise to you - that’s not true. I guess you don’t have many reasons to trust my promise either.” 

Spinel felt somewhat strange about that statement. 

“I… I wasn’t even realizing it. But when I thought I could have lost you… I realized how much I really need you. And I… just want to be your friend, and be there for you. And make you… feel happy.” 

Spinel stared at him with a blank expression, but at least she wasn’t tugging her hand away now. 

“You know… if you wanted to poof me you could have just done so by now, no need to try and sweet talk me more,” Spinel replied sadly. 

Her voice was on the edge of trembling. So, it wasn’t working, wasn’t convincing her… Steven thought about it for a minute. 

“Spinel… If I really did just fear what you might do, or wanted to bubble you away - don’t you think I would have done so by now? You’ve been out for a few days by now.” 

That seemed to… have an effect. Her eyes darted around, as if she was considering something. Then she looked surprised again, by some realisation that had just occurred to her. 

“You deserve a better friend. And I want to be that friend to you. This time I want to do better. I just ask… Please, Spinel? Will you give me another chance to be your friend?” 

Spinel’s mind crashed like a Windows 98 trying to run a modern day 3D video game. 

Steven really was begging for her to allow him to be her friend? That was just outside of her comprehension. Not only did he care, not only did he not get rid of her when he had plenty of opportunities - but he was hoping for a chance now? 

She has never been in a position like that, she didn’t know how to feel. Though she could tell that the emotions that washed over her felt like a warm wave on a pleasantly sunny day washing over the shore of her hopes and rustling the sands of changes. 

She didn’t know how to feel about it, so she tried to go with what she wanted to do about it instead. 

Steven was looking at her from the floor, holding her hand and sparkling hope and sunshine from his eyes. She placed her own hand over his two, and gave a faint smile. Steven smiled back, ready to get up and talk more about the newly found friendship, when suddenly it was Spinel who descended lower next to him. 

She still didn’t know how to feel about him being on his knees. So she leveled with him, keeping her own grasp on his hands. 

Steven figured he’d roll with anything that she needed. And she seemed to find some sort of comfort in this. She wasn’t looking him in the eyes though, her look was fixated on their hands. She rubbed her thumb over the side of his hand, looking strangely pacified at the sight of their contact. Steven would have invited her for a hug, but he thought he went far enough for the first time. 

“Yeah…” she said after a minute of this, “Let’s try again.”  

Steven smiled at her. This time he stood up, inviting her up with him. 

“How long do you say I’ve been out for?”

“About a week. Are you- Oh. I almost asked if you’re hungry. I live with gems my whole life and I still forget that they don’t need to eat sometimes.” 

“To eat?” 

“Yeah, like… You ate donuts, remember?” 

Spinel made her hand come a loop and rub herself on the head. This gesture seemed familiar to Steven. 

“I did what now?” 

“Oh boy. Okay, follow me...” 

The two left the room. Shortly after, the phone was finally hanged. 

~ ~ ~ 

A portal opened and a pink lion with a fuchsia gem and a pinkish gem human hybrid child jumped out of it. Just another day in Beach City. 

Steven climbed down from Lion, while Spinel took one stretch of her legs to get down without moving them much. One order later, the two were sitting on soft cushions at a table in a café, with the table between them containing a bunch of donuts and a drink. 

Steven grabbed the drink for himself, he couldn't hold himself back from making bubbly noises by blowing into the straw on the cup. Meanwhile Spinel was fascinated by the concept of eating, donuts, and the idea of eating donuts. They did seem to make her think of… something nostalgic. Something recent but lost and forgotten. Her innocence. 

She loved the taste. They made her think of spending time with Steven. Even though she was already doing it again. 

Steven placed the cup down in the middle of the table, "Spinel, I think we need to spell out something." 

"Mhmpf?" 

"About our… recent events. Let's make a deal. We will always trust each other, no matter what. But at this cost we will never lie to each other. Even if the truth won't always be easy to say." 

Spinel liked that. Here, away from everyone else, she and Steven made their own secrets. As if they existed in a small isolated bubble, and the world was just revolving around. 

She nodded, agreeing wholeheartedly, But not interrupting her snack time. Instinctively she reached for the cup on the table and took a sip. 

Her vision went white for a while. And her gem seemed to glow up momentarily with some sort of warmth inside. She wasn't sure what was that about, and she decided she's better off not knowing. 

She placed the cup back, where Steven eventually took it again, not even noticing that that took place with her. 

Steven glanced around, "Do you remember the Funland arcade?" 

He earned himself another look of utter confusion. 

"It's where you, me, and Amethyst went to play. You know, when you two were-"

"Oh, sure!" Spinel said cheerfully. Steven was expecting her to get sad over a reminder of it, but she seemed rather happy suddenly. "I made a friend there!" 

"Really?" 

"Yeah." 

"I never knew. That's so great, Spinel. We're right next to it, can we go and meet them?" 

"I hope, if they're still there..." This time Spinel froze up for a second, trying to recall something. Or already remembering something that she didn't want to think of… 

She stored the leftovers in her gem and followed Steven to the Arcade. They weren't in a hurry, so she found a moment to try and hold at least the sleeve of Steven's jacket. She still liked to hold onto him, and if this was a sort of "happy trip" - she wanted to do that again. 

And Steven let her, even meeting her hand with his own and holding it. Making Spinel wish the Arcade was a few miles farther, so that they could walk hand in hand for longer. 

Steven showed Spinel the skee ball they played, vary of her getting sad over the fact that he never included her in it. But she seemed very content now. She grabbed a few balls and with the power of stretching her arms just right - got a bunch in. 

"Wow, how did you do that?" 

"Hehe, I'm good at hitting targets." Spinel laughed. 

There was a layer to this joke that Steven got worried about, but she didn't seem to be stuck on the thought, so he didn't mention it either. 

The little jingle played, and the fairly earned tickets sprung out of the machine. 

"Ah, there's my-" Spinel started to talk, but stopped abruptly, sitting down next to the flowing yellow tickets. "Oh." 

"There's your price. You won them all!" 

"Prize. So it's just…" Spinel grabbed a single ticket with two fingers. "A bunch of leaves?" 

"Well it… it used to be leaves, it's paper now, but… Spinel?" 

Something was visibly wrong. 

"Haah… small- I mean, rejuvenated me thought that this was a living thing. Some sort of… a long sentient noodle that stretched its body out of the machine." She held the tickets up, "Meet my "friend", Steven." 

He wasn't sure if she was joking in a self deprecating manner again, or just being sad about the past. But her hair was clearly down as she looked at it. 

Steven placed a hand on her shoulder. He got the idea. He neglected her so much back then that small her had found a friend in an inanimate object. 

"You know… it does kind of looks like a snake." 

"What's a snake?"

"... Wait here. May I borrow your tickets?" 

He returned in a minute from the prize corner with a toy snake in his arms. 

"It's native to Earth. I think. It's a snake." 

Spinel took it in her hands, inspecting the plushy body. 

"It doesn't seem very… sentient at first glance." 

"Oh uhm it's a toy. A sewn replica of an animal." 

"Oh. … Where are their arms?"

Steven looked down, sadly, "They don't have any." He whispered in horror. 

Someone behind them giggled. The two glanced back at a kid who had just exchanged some tickets for a disproportionate toy puppy. The child looked very happy. 

"Toys make for great presents." Steven explained, tucking his hands in his jacket. "This one's my present for you." 

Spinel looked at the toy snake again, her hair going back to its upward position, and becoming short again. This was touching, at that moment she even saw the value of the object she found strangely useless a minute ago. She hugged it. 

"Thank you Steven." 

Steven would have loved to keep looking at the sight of her being so calm and happy, but he suddenly had his previous drink catch up to him. 

"I'll be right back." He said abruptly, heading away. 

"Huh?" He heard behind. 

"I'll return in a few minutes, I just need to… tend to a human need. Just two minutes, okay?" 

Confused, Spinel nodded, and held onto her new possession as she watched Steven enter a room with a blue sign in it. 

Suddenly, the world around darkened. No, it was fine, she'd be okay. Steven wasn't Pink, he'd be back in two minutes. 

Her breathing grew rapid and she couldn't tell why. 

Come on, calm down, you're not in the garden… just two minutes, he didn't take you here just to leave you. 

She hid the toy into her gem and moved around. Moving, she needed to move. It was terrifying to think of the vines tying around all her limbs if she didn't. She bumped into someone, just to realise she really wasn't seeing anything or anyone around. 

Come on, stop being a baby. He said two minutes. Two Earth minutes. Spinel quickly scanned the walls, and finally found what she needed. A clock. 

Okay, okay, now she just had to see the little arrow make two circles, and Steven will be back. Wouldn't leave her. She was still hyperventilating, but she was getting the hang of it, holding onto her gem. 

And then the little arrow stopped. Froze in space and time. Stopped moving. Was twitching over the same digit. 

Spinel freaked out. It was happening again, the time had stopped, everything was a lie, he was never going to come back for her. She slowly slid on the floor, tears swelling up in the corners of her eyes. 

Steven tucked himself in calmly, assured he even saved up some time, and exited the room - just to find Spinel sitting on the floor and sobbing, while people gathered around. 

Uh oh. Steven rushed to her. Was she really still so bad at this?

Making his way through the worried crowd that Spinel was not aware of the existence of, he sat down next to her and touched her shoulder lightly. She seemed to snap back to reality at that. 

"Steven?" 

"Spinel. Everything's okay. I'm here."

"The time stopped." 

"Huh?"

She seemed to be in a bit of a dissociated state. But he followed her eyes and noticed that the clock on the wall had stopped. 

He sighed in relief, suddenly understanding what took place. 

"Spinel, time didn't stop. That's just a wall clock, it's a mechanism used to measure time, but it's just a machine. It can glitch sometimes. Here." 

He grabbed a free chair from nearby, put it underneath the clock, stood up on it and touched something behind the round object. 

The time went on. 

Spinel coughed, feeling like she just woke up from an entranced state. 

Steven climbed back down safely, and she was already by his side. Before the boy could say anything, she held onto him, placing her head on his shoulder. Steven was caught off guard by that, but after she showed to be content doing it - slowly hugged her back. He tried to pet her carefully, starting from the back of her head and letting his hand travel down her back, then circling it back and doing it again slowly. 

"It's alright. I get it." He said, cutting off the need for any further explanation. 

Spinel would have stayed like this for a long time if she could. But she too cared not to weird Steven out by wanting to be in touch too much. If only she knew he'd be content with that. 

She leaned back first, having Steven hold her hands in his own.

"Hey, Spinel. Do you think you can stay for a sleepover tonight?" 

"What's a sleepover?" Spinel asked, cheerful again. 

Steven laughed softly.

~ ~ ~ 

"That's what video games are." Steven hoped that he was clear, he wasn't about to explain the concept of video games to an alien again. He forgot what it was like when he had to teach gems about the human culture. 

Spinel was smiling softly. She knew what video games were already - she often played them on Pink's communication device in the Garden - but when Steven started explaining it to her she just wanted to listen more to his voice. 

She was inspecting the controller Steven gave her, when someone walked into the room. It was just Pearl, she brought a basket of some material with her.

"The laundry finished. Here are your pay-jays, Steven. Fold them when you have time." 

"Thanks Pearl. I will. Not now though, I think we're about to have a tournament." 

Spinel prepped her head on her hand, looking at Pearl intently. Then she started giggling. 

"Did I say something funny?" Pearl asked, lost in guesses. 

"No, nothing, just…" Spinel tried to pause her giggling, "I just thought of the time you came to pick Pink for an important Diamond meeting. And instead of coming with you - she sent you back home to "Inspect the back wall of her room"." Spinel laughed more in a very strange way, "She told me when she finally returned, ages later, you were… still staring at that wall! Bwahahaha! I guess she treated us all the same." 

Despite the painful remark, Spinel didn't seem saddened or disturbed to bring that up. Pearl was certainly disturbed now, but she knew better than to mention it. And after all, Spinel was right. Pink treated them both like the play toys that she eventually grew out of. 

"I do recall that," she replied, trailing off and going back down from Steven's room. 

Steven told Spinel to practice moves in the fighting game he picked for the two to play, while he put his spare pajamas away. 

"What's that?" 

"Pajamas. It's like a night dress. Clothes you wear to bed." 

"You redress to go to bed?"

"Well, yeah. Humans don't sleep well in daily clothes. They're… intended for the day activities." He finished putting the pink suits into the drawers, "Alright, I'll just carry the basket downstairs and I'll be right back." 

Steven hoped this would go better. He even made sure she was occupied this time. And he knew for sure that all the clock in his room were working fine. And she could always peek down if she got worried and see him... 

Was Spinel really damaged so badly? Steven looked up at the big portrait on the wall. A woman with closed eyes and curly hair stared back down. Sometimes he still couldn't believe that she was capable of causing so much harm, and never giving it a second thought, never even learning of the consequences, of the pain… 

Pain. Right, Spinel. Steven left the basket where he should have, and walked back up. It was getting darker outside. He expected to find Spinel there, thought he would find her in the same spot, accounted that he could have found her having another breakdown. 

What he didn't expect was what he saw. The pigtailed gem sat exactly where she was when he left the room, but she was dressed in his pajamas now. She picked up the pink one with little polka dot of hearts. The flannel mostly. Seems like the pants were too wide for her. 

Steven laughed, and joked by saying nothing, but she got him to mention it eventually by giggling too much. Not that he opposed what he saw. 

~ ~ ~ 

It had to be mentioned. It was already decided, but Steven had to bring it up. He hoped it would not make the day worse, not after all the fun they had. 

"Spinel?" He asked when he was done putting away all his games, and sat on the edge of the bed. 

Spinel must have misread him, because she came closer and climbed on the opposite side of it. 

"Yes?" 

"There's… something else I need to clarify with you. But don't worry, nothing that you don't want to happen will happen!" 

It was that moment that he was glad Spinel was an alien, because another human, had they sat on his bed in his pajamas, wouldn't have taken that phrase the same way. 

"Yes?" she asked cautiously. 

"The Diamonds." Steven made it clear what he was going to mention. "You don't have to go back to them, no. No one will make you do it. We probably need to let them know you're here by now… but I just want you to know - you can stay here for as long as you want."

"I can stay here?" Spinel wasn't expecting it. She didn't know what to expect at any moment of that day, and tried her best to go with the flow of whatever happened or whatever Steven suggested, although she was confused or felt like she was being stupid most of the time. 

"Yeah, I mean here. You can sleep here." 

"I don't have to sleep?" She tilted her head. 

"You can stay the nights here. I do have to sleep though. Humans… we run out of energy through the day and have to recharge it at night. You can sleep too, if you want. Gems can sleep." 

"Oh. Okay." So she was allowed to stay. "Thank you." 

She wasn't sure what'd she do if she wasn't. So this was convenient. Still, she had no idea about sleeping, but an allowance to be around Steven was good enough. 

The boy climbed under his blanket. He was done telling gems not to stare at him while slept long ago, and just accepted it as the thing they did. He couldn't say they never held him through the hard nights before. 

He clicked the lamp off, making it dark in the room. 

Spinel seemed content with it. She took a walk around his room, inspecting the toys and photos once more. 

She walked towards the balcony - Steven turned to look at her when she did - and stared at the endless looking sea, holding her hands behind her back. 

Earth was fascinating to say the least. Spinel didn't really care what settings surrounded her, so long Steven was with her. 

This whole day has been an experience for her. Even since the little moment on the floor - she found herself experiencing a strange sense of… serenity with Steven. At this point she decided she would let him take the lead, and if he really planned to poof her at some point - so be it. 

But it never came. Never did Steven give her any reason to suspect that he was getting tired of her. At least so far. 

Spinel may have acted happy, but she was on the verge. At some point she wanted to barge in and fall to her knees and cry her eyes out, pawing at Steven's legs and begging for the mercy from the constant fear of… shattering the cute little illusion he had built of him caring about her. She would agree to be hated, to be used again, to be broken to pieces, if only it would be him doing this to her, at the cost of being sure that he'd never leave her. 

She glanced back. Steven was snoozing peacefully. Spinel made her way back to his bed. She wondered if it was intentional on his end, but Steven only occupied half his bed, the rest of it looking empty and inviting…

Spinel leaned against the wall and hummed quietly. 

"I was fine, till she left 
And I figured that my innocence was theft.
I was mad, meeting you,
Even though I tried to bring you to your doom.
I was mad, fighting up, 
Thinking that your pain would lift the one I got. 
I was down, giving up, 
Till you held my hand and helped me rise up...
Now I'm here, am I not? Am I not? Am I not calm now? 
Now I love, do I not? Do I not? Do I not love you? 
You came, you forgave me, and you held me. I felt whole… 
I'm whole now, am I not? And isn't this called love?" 

 

Steven was already asleep when Spinel climbed onto the bed and under the covers on the free side. She curled up, crossing her hands. There was… something nice about this. The safety of the darkness, the warmth of the blanket, the peaceful little snoring of Steven by her side. 

One thing was certain in Spinel's mind - she would not let anyone else have her best friend anymore. 

He would be hers and hers alone. 

Chapter Text

Those few days went by like a paradise. The closest Spinel knew to this happiness was her past life in the Garden, but she knew that this was nothing like that, and it certainly wouldn't end up with her abandoned and forgotten again. 

Right? 

Steven did his best to be as thoughtful as he could. He let Spinel into his space anytime she shyly wanted to. He always watched for the signs of her mood being right. He calmed her from similar panic attacks, and had to reassure her that she wasn't going to be abandoned again a lot. 

And surprising himself, he found that he loved it. Steven liked to make a change, and any day he got to change Spinel's frown to a smile made him feel special. Made him feel that he was watering a little flower with the water of his efforts, and it was blooming. It started out as a little pink seed, and grew to be something breathtakingly beautiful.

Or so Steven thought, looking at the way the setting sun played on Spinel's gem, as they sat by the shore watching the sunset. Except they watched each other. 

Steven couldn't name the way he felt about Spinel, if he had to guess he'd say he just cared about her like about any other gem. But there was more to it. 

And Spinel felt the same, with even lesser experience of knowing how to put her feelings. 

She hasn't stopped being haunted by her fears. Sure, Steven was saying and making it clear now that she wasn't a bother or a nuisance. But for how long would it last? Certainly she'd bore him eventually, annoy him to the brink of his patience… 

So she thought. 

On Steven's end, this could never happen. Because there was something about Spinel that made him instantly love whatever she spoke of, be it an elaborate step by step balloon animal creation instruction, or her talking about her feelings while crying and curling up on the floor, with a ragged breath. 

Yeah, that was an occurrence. 

But they were working through it. Spinel tried hard for Steven. And Steven loved to help Spinel. 

They matched like two puzzle pieces, even if they came from two different worlds, and looked so differently… 

Spinel's frame was much more smaller than Steven's. At least when she wanted it to - she could have made herself taller whenever she wanted, but it was mostly needed for intimidation. And she hasn't felt a need to defend herself lately, so she kept herself small next to Steven.  This made her feel safe. And had certain benefits… 

"I'll be right back, Peridot just needs my help with this. Could you hold my jacket and- could you go see Lapis before I return?"

"Sure Stevie." 

Spinel grabbed the jacket that was reached towards her. Once Steven took a few steps away (still glancing back frequently) she put it on herself. A pink organic jacket. She loved the sensation of his body's warmth that it always saved. And for some reason - the smell. 

Steven disappeared behind a column. Okay, she can do this. She's got him right here with her - his warmth on her shoulders. She hid her hands in the pockets of the jacket and walked off, searching for Lapis Lazuli. She wasn't alone, she had a task, and just like Garnet told her - they were still together even if they were apart. Although she also mentioned having to go through an Earthly ritual and wear a pair of rings for that to count. Spinel didn't give it much thought, she was just glad to have such a dear and caring friend in Steven. 

Eventually she found Lapis, though the blue gem seemed occupied. Lapis was leaning against a wall, her hands crossed together. She was looking to the side, with a mild disgust and pain on her face. 

Next to her, a buff orange gem had her hand placed on the wall she leaned at, just above Lapis, and the other hand at her hip. She seemed to be asking Lapis for something, and Lapis kept saying no. 

Spinel decided to investigate further. 

"Hey Lappy." She approached the two, putting on her stupid loving baby voice, "Who's your friend?" 

"That's Jasper. She's not exactly my friend…" 

"This is none of your business, twarp." Jasper cut her off, before returning her attention to Lazuli only, "I'm telling you - I changed! There's no war goin' on now, I'm not tryina' kill Rose or Steve whoever that is now." 

Spinel blinked in confusion, not stopping her smile. Haha, what? 

"It's a better time. Why don't you want to fuse with me now, I'm being nice!" 

"You're really not. I want you to leave me alone." Insisted Lapis. 

"Well I think you're just playing hard to get." Insisted Jasper. "You know you wanna fuse with me and feel Malachite again, you know it deep inside…" 

"Lap, is this gem bothering you?" Spinel interrupted the seduction innocently. 

"Yes." Lapis whispered. 

"Quiet down, will ya? Who are you even supposed to be, playtoy?" 

Spinel glanced at Lapis. The ocean gem nodded in approval. 

Spinel stepped forth, taking one hand out of her pocket and reaching it out to Jasper. 

"I'm Spinel, Steven's friend!" She said that with enthusiasm now. "I'm so excited to meet you."

Jasper waved her hand at her in annoyance. 

Perfect. That was all Spinel needed. 

She grabbed the big gem's finger with her pink little hand. 

And the next thing Jasper knew - was suddenly thrown over a small pink shoulder and landed into the trash containers nearby, upside down. 

During the moment it took her to realise what just happened - the next thing happened. 

Two giant rubber gloved hands tied around her, she was spun around, and thrown high up into the sky. 

Spinel turned her legs into a spring and launched herself up, quickly catching up with still utterly confused Jasper. She had to work quicker here - this wasn't Steven, she wouldn't purposely slow her descend down if she wanted to. 

Steven… Spinel thought of the time Steven opened his arms for her, in the light of the moon. And she hit him in the face. Repeatedly. 

Oh no, now wasn't the time to let it flood back, no… 

Spinel growled. She looked at Jasper, and imagined that it was her now - the Spinel that caused Steven so much harm - starting to fall back down below her. Spinel expanded her arm and held it clasped in a fist, as she made a spring out of her noodly hand and turned it around to face Jasper. 

Then she launched her attack, quickly descending down and effectively imprinting the orange gem into the ground with all her inner unresolved rage issues. 

There was now a small crater around them, and a little Jasper sized hole in the middle of it, with the Jasper herself now weakly laying down in it. Spinel returned her body to its normal proportions and slowly walked towards the center of the hole she created.

Once next to Jasper, she set her foot down on her chest, and leaned closer, putting her hand over her raised knee. She spoke with a kindest smile she knew how to pull, in the sweetest, childish voice: 

"Nice to meet you. If I see you around Lapis again, or if she tells me that she saw you anywhere in her vicinity - I'll rejuvenate you and bury you back underground." She made a motion of reaching for Jasper's face - which Jasper leaned away from, startled - and closing her hand, now holding her thumb between the pointing and the middle finger. 

"Got your nose!" She giggled softly, "Next time I'll rip it out of your face." 

With that, she hid her hands back into her jacket and walked off her. 

Where she stayed, Jasper was seeing stars in her eyes. Then her face lit up in a blush and she held a hand next to her cheek. It's been a while since a gem had kicked her butt like that. And she hated to admit - it was incredibly hot in her eyes…

Spinel walked back to amused and giggling Lapis. 

"I don't think this one's gonna bother you anytime soon." 

"Yeah. Thanks Spinel." Lapis smiled at her softly. 

Spinel was looking at that smile, and thinking of the time Lapis had kept an eye on her, because she expected her to ruin their job again. Or try to kill them. Again. 

"What are friends for?" Spinel shrugged. 

In a minute, Steven and Peridot ran towards the two. 

"We heard a noise - is everyone alright?" Steven asked first. 

Everyone? Did he… did he think that she… attacked someone innocent again? 

"Are you alright, Spinel? Did you get hurt?" Steven quickly added. Right, it made her feel bad when he suspected her in hurting others. 

She still wasn't sure whether to bring it up or not, but Steven placed his hand on her shoulder. Alright. She'll just forget it this time. He always had that soothing effect on her that made her feel at ease and made her want to forget all her worries suddenly. 

"Yeah, she just helped me explain to Jasper that I didn't want to see her again, is all." Lapis laughed, snorting in the middle of the sentence. 

Steven finally looked at the still lying gem in the middle of the crater behind them. Then he grabbed Spinel's hand into his own and hurried the two to run away. 

"We better get out of here before Bismuth sees it!" 

Spinel laughed, happily obliging and following Steven, letting him lead her. They were like rebels. They rebelled against the world! Two gems on the run, away from all the other gems, away from the places they knew. Just together, somewhere, someday, somehow. Just the two of them - sharing an embrace and never parting, as the world keeps turning around… Spinel could dream. 

She dreamt of having Steven all to herself, and never sharing. 

~ ~ ~ 

Her dreams weren't far from reality. Steven spent all his time with her, free or not. Neither of them ever ran out of the things they wanted the other to know about. And even when they shared a moment in silence - it was special. 

Spinel thought that nothing (spare for her issues) could go wrong about their idyllic harmony. 

And then something went wrong. 

That something slammed the glass door open and threw her bag on the ground of the house, as if she owed it. Then she ran towards Steven and hugged him tightly, chattering all about how much she missed him during the space camp. 

Spinel sat on the couch, cross-legged with her hands tucked on her legs, when that scenery unfolded. She stayed quiet, not yet sure what to do. She let her guard down for a little too low it seemed. 

Steven hugged Connie back at first. Then quickly pushed her back and kept a distance when he remembered who was watching. 

“Connie, I’m glad to see you too.” 

No asking why she came or for how long she was going to stay, huh? Has she ever tried to hurt Steven, Spinel wondered. 

“I’ve got the weekend all to myself, I couldn’t wait to spend it all with you!” Connie held her hands together happily. She didn’t seem to even acknowledge that Spinel was in the room with them. 

“Hah, that’s great. Spinel and I were just planning to go for a movie together, let’s pick something all three of us will love then. Oh, we can introduce her to The Unfamiliar Familiar series-” 

“Steven, what are you talking about?” Connie’s smile became a bit screwed. Spinel thought it was mocking her. 

“What? Oh! Sorry, it’s been a while, I forgot - was it not the first book in the series? That’s the one they made a movie about, right?” 

“No, I mean - I came all the way here to spend some time with you.” She insisted.

“Well, yeah, that’s great-”

“Just you.” 

She wasn’t smiling anymore. Neither was Spinel. Neither was Steven. 

Steven wasn’t sure how to put what he wanted to say. He felt like Connie was being just a little bit more rude than she needed to be about it. But then again, she barely said anything. That feeling just hanged in the air around her. 

How should he put it? He was glad to see Connie, but he didn’t want to leave Spinel hanging. It wouldn’t be wrong to, Steven did have a right to have a time and space of his own. 

It’s just that he really didn’t want to. 

“Spinel is also visiting from Homeworld, I think it would be rude to leave her hanging.” 

“Then don’t leave her hanging, she can hang out with someone else meanwhile.”

"Well maybe so can you." Steven frowned at her. He was right, she intended to be rude. 

Spinel held her breath as she watched the two. 

"Steven, you're being rude." 

"I only told you the same thing you just said. Spinel isn't a child or a toy to be passed around. Maybe you're being rude?" 

Connie clenched her fists, "Maybe you're being too dependant."

Spinel straightened out where she sat. Him? Dependant? Was that meant for Spinel instead and she didn't catch it? Steven wasn't… needing her all that much, was he? 

Was he?? 

"Connie, I don't see where this is coming from." 

"Maybe from the fact that you literally haven't parted with her for a week now?" 

Has it really been just a little week of a paradise between them, and also, has it been a whole long week of a paradise between them?

"Anytime I called or texted, you were with her. Either sent me a snap of hanging out together or said you were busy and… I just don't think this is healthy." 

Steven's expression turned sour, "Well sorry, didn't know I was a child incapable of recognizing healthiness or lack of it in your eyes." 

"That's not what I meant." 

"Then what? That I'm obsessed or-" 

"That she's manipulating you!" Connie raised her voice. 

Spinel got sad momentarily. It couldn't happen again, no, it couldn't happen again. Was Steven going to believe that, and not her? No, she wasn't manipulating him, could she ever? Even if she knew how to? Spinel reached for her gem, then she lowered her hands. 

No, she wouldn't let it happen, not again. Steven wouldn't hurt her. He wouldn't, she would do anything to assure that. 

"Connie! That's not true!" Steven stomped his leg, visibly angry at her. 

Oh, so Spinel didn't have to do anything after all. She had never seen Steven angry before. Even with her he was disappointed, but not angry. 

She got up and walked forward, standing next to Steven and looking at him with a mix of shock and softness. So he stood by his promise after all. 

Watching the familiar scene unfold, but this time with Spinel as the one he trusted, felt liberating. Like a heavy rock was lifted from her shoulders. 

Steven looked back at her with soft determination, then turned back to Connie, frowning again. 

"I thought you trusted me?" 

"I trust you. I don't trust her. I think she's doing something to you - she tried to destroy this planet, and you too! She tried to kill you!"

"Yeah, well, who hasn't?" Steven parried. 

"I didn't!" 

Steven didn't quite get the meaning of that. Was Connie… being jealous? 

Seeing his sudden confusion, Connie spoke on to change the subject. 

"You can't stay by her side forever." 

Steven almost replied "Watch me". 

As much as Spinel was relishing the sight, she suddenly realised that the two were arguing because of her. Nice as it felt, she didn't want to be a source of a problem between them. 

No one had ever stood up for their right to be by her side, and it was making her feel warm inside, but a chill of fear ran down her body at the thought of Steven being mad about arguing with Connie whole day. 

"I think I should go." She said, taking a step back. 

Where would she go? Probably to another room. Not likely to Homeworld, maybe just take a stroll, let the two settle it without the ability to say she made them angry at each other. 

She was in awe when Steven turned around, grabbed her hand, and said in a determined and firm voice, 

"No, stay here with me." 

He faced back at Connie, "You're being very rude, even if you think you're right from your point of view. You've got to ask me how I feel first, then-" 

Steven heard a thud and a flop behind himself, and both humans looked at Spinel. 

She had never had anyone, in any shape or form, insist on her staying around with them. Never had someone want her around so firmly, and she never thought Steven wanted her around so strongly. Never was it told with such a strong desire, she never felt so wanted and so needed and so protected… 

Her limbs went noodly and she melted onto the floor, her painted cheeks turning darker fuchsia than they already were as she blushed. All that she made out was a soft sight, and her gaze was unfocused and staring into something in another dimension. 

"Spinel?!" 

Steven sat down next to her, picking her head up. Her neck stretched with the motion. 

"Whaaa?" 

"See, she did that on purpose to distract-"

"Connie, I think you should leave." Steven cut her off. He made a mental decision not to react to anything else she would say. 

She added something about wanting to open his eyes. But Steven stayed focused on the fuchsia gem that melted on the floor before him. She was… so vulnerable like this. 

He couldn't allow for anything to happen to her like this. 

Connie eventually left, storming out and bringing her bag with her. 

Steven barely noticed it, spare for feeling easier about protecting Spinel now. He tried his best to gather her up and put her at least on the couch, and he sat there with her. Spinel finally moved her limbs - just to tie them around Steven tightly, subconsciously accounting for his need to breathe.

He held her head in his lap while her body regained its shape again, and he slowly pat her head while he was at it. 

Spinel relaxed. She felt safe with him. She knew she couldn't count on this sense of security forever, but just for now - she wanted to feel safe… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“Why ya crying, small?” 

Connie raised her head. She thought she was sitting alone by the shore, crying out her eyes. But it seemed she was not alone after all. 

She wiped away her tears, and didn’t oppose when Jasper sat down by her side. 

“I think I’m losing my friend... to someone who’s bad for him.” Connie wanted to believe the last part, because she feared the first dearly. 

“You tried telling him?” 

“Yes. It didn’t work, because she…” Connie couldn’t put to words what exactly happened. It would take too long to explain. 

“Are you talking about Ro… eh, Steven? And... Spinel?” 

Jasper whispered the last word softly. The human girl got suspicious. 

“Yeah… what about it?” 

Jasper looked away, going silent. Connie leaned closer, seemingly trying to drill a hole in Jasper’s head with her look and read her mind. The buff gem leaned away, covering her face. 

Then she turned around abruptly, screaming so loud she knocked Connie back, 

“I think I love her, okay?!” 

Once Connie found her balance again, she continued. 

“I wan’ a chance with her… but she’s constantly staying with Steven, as if the world outside doesn't even exist anymore." 

“Oh.” 

Connie remembered. That’s right, Jasper loved Lapis for being a strong gem that beared a lot of power. And Spinel was… quite powerful, seeing as she managed to reap all the 4 crystal gems after 6000 years of standing still, and not even break a sweat. Thought it might have been a shock state for her. 

And Spinel… just like Jasper, wanted to always be together with someone. 

Connie jumped up suddenly, smiling wide. 

“Jasper, I have an idea!” 

“Cool. You want me to get you a card to commemorate that?” 

“Pffft, no. I have an idea how both of us can get what we want, if we work together.” 

Jasper raised an eyebrow at her. 

“How so?” 

Connie considered it one more time. Jasper was still far from a good person, but then again, Spinel was no better. Spinel stole her friend - her Steven. She wouldn’t be hurt all that much by Jasper, would she? No, she would probably be the one to hurt Jasper rather. 

Was Jasper worth it? Well, that was certainly outside of Connie’s concern. At the moment she just wanted her friend back. 

“You want Spinel, I want Steven. They’re together all the time. We can work together to split them up, and then each of us can have what we want! What do you say?” 

Connie reached her hand out to Jasper, looking confident in her words. 

Jasper took a moment to let her idea sink in. Then she stood up and grabbed the human’s hand for a handshake. 

“Maybe there is some fight in you after all, little.” 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Amethyst shot up the flight of stairs, and pretended to slam a nonexistent door open once she got to Steven's room, faking a sound of a door being slammed. 

"You two are fusing!" 

Steven and Spinel were laying on the bed, each with their own book. 

Steven turned to Spinel, 

"We were fusing? Spinel, why didn't you tell me? I would have put my book down." 

All three laughed at their re-enaction of the famous silly TV scene. 

Steven already taught Amethyst about the wonders of the internet culture before. Now she shared it with Spinel any time they would hang out together. Other days they would have a shapeshifting battle, sometimes over small prizes. Such as picking the junk food to order. Amethyst always leaned towards salty things, while Spinel states loyal to donuts. 

Loyalty, her forte. And her curse. 

Spinel laid on her gem, with a book before her, slowly swaying her feet in the air. Seeing Amethyst in Steven's vicinity wasn't making her worried. She knew Steven loved her like a younger sister, and the type of his love she didn't intend to share wasn't that to a younger sister. She was after something bigger. 

While the two talked, her mind wandered away from her book. Back to the earlier events of the day. When she punched Jasper. She imagined she was punching herself to feel better about it. And it… made her feel strange. She felt that it was wrong, but there was a certain relief in pain and aggression to her. She did her best to suppress it, letting sadness and numbness come in its place. But for how long would it work?

She was just that afraid to lose Steven again. But every day he proved more and more that he wouldn’t leave her over anything. So maybe… it was wrong of her to hide parts of herself to ensure it? 

She was mad. She was angry, often. It was the only way she knew to cope with her fear and pain, her trauma… 

She closed her book, without bookmarking where did she stop. It was decided. She would talk to Steven more about less pleasant topics. 

Being happy was one thing. But digging up the grave of her mistakes and counting the bones of her issues in it had yet to be done. And boy, she had a lot of skeletons in the closet to reveal. She just didn’t want to feel sad with him. 

But whom would she face her flaws with, if not with Steven? The one who intended to help her? The one she… felt safe with. 

Amethyst went away, wishing them well, and Steven started to put the books aside anyways. 

Honeymoon was over. It was time to tend to her garden of feelings. 

Chapter Text

She could wait till the morning, right? No, she could not. 

The ceiling was consumed by darkness, just like everything else in the room. But it had a few luminescent stars decorating it, which glowed of faint green in the dark. 

Spinel stared up at them, she was learning the pattern by now, thinking that this was some sort of a secret map to a place in a galaxy that was important to Steven. But truly it was just a random way he placed them there when he was decorating. 

Yet she stared up at them, from the comforting safety of this human bed and human blanket, finding the sight she was getting used to - to be comforting in its constant familiarity. 

She turned her head to the side, facing Steven. Was he asleep already? Her hand was out of the banket, and deposited in his own. Occasionally that was how they fell asleep. It kept Spinel calm on the… difficult nights. 

It seemed Steven was already asleep after a tiring day, feeling just as calm as he made Spinel feel. 

He looked so peaceful like that. Alright, alright. She could wait till the morning after all… 

 

 Waking up was always weird. One moment Spinel didn't exist. Then she needed a minute to remember where she was. And every morning the first though Spinel had in her mind was,

"Am I still in the Garden?" 

Steven raised up and stretched out next to her. No, she wasn't in the Garden. She was home. 

"Hey sleepy head." She giggled, reaching her hand out. 

Sleepily, but coming to his senses, Steven took it. 

"Steven? I wanted to ask you…" 

The boy moved his hair out of his face. Spinel hadn't started a serious talk with him this whole week. Was this about Connie? Did something else upset her? 

"Yes?" 

She took a moment to gather her thoughts. 

"We made a…" Truce? Pact? "Promise to always be honest with each other." 

"Yes. Yes we did." 

"And I want to be honest with you." Spinel finally sat up too, "I'm not perfect. And I'm not nice. And I know I'm not. But I want to work on it." 

Steven wanted to note that she was nice, but this wasn't about the facts. This was about how she felt. Those two things don't ever align together all that well. 

"That's great." He commented, rubbing his eye, "Do you mind if we continue this talk when I'm… awake? Then I'll be more focused." 

She nodded. Steven had his morning routine, she learned that by now. 

She paced around, rehearsing what she wanted to tell him, while Steven did all his morning preparations. 

It was down in the kitchen area when he finally became viable for serious discussion. He sat on the couch, intending to listen carefully and catch every word, especially those unsaid. Spinel was walking in circles. 

Spinel asked to gather her thoughts once more, to which she received an assuring reply that she had all the time in the world. 

"Really, if you don't feel comfortable talking about it - we don't have to." 

"Thank you, Steven. But I've already waited- postponed, I've already postponed this enough." She held her hands together, two pointing fingers pointing up next to her mouth, "Hoo boy. I'm aware I am… far from a mentally stable person." She kept one eye closed in mild embarrassment, gazing at Steven, "And- and it's been nice to forget it for a while. But I… you said we need to be honest with each other. Honestly, I am not a nice person. And, maybe, sort of, I've been…" She was afraid to look up at him, "Trying to suppress the bad in me to feel better. But… I figured that I was just lying to myself."

She held her hands open, symbolic of her opening her soul to Steven. 

The boy looked at her seriously, with a lot of attention focused on her speech. Not mad, not disappointed, not angry - that's good. Lack of those is a good sign. 

"I'm still bad. Sometimes I hate myself. Sometimes I want to get mad - at things, at people, at myself. And- and sometimes I want to get mad even when I know I'm not right - I just want to be mad and punch it out on something. Or someone…" She was twirling her hands, trying to gesture how complicated it all felt, "I want to be better, I promise I do. I… just don't know how! I'm conscious of it all being wrong and I can't help it!" 

"Spinel." Steven patted the place on the couch next to him. 

She slowly uncroissanted her hands, and sat down, while Steven got up. 

This time he spoke before her. 

"I'm really proud of you for getting the courage to tell me all of that. And for acknowledging all of that. That means you're already on the right path, even if so shallow now. Now, I… I'm not a professional psychologist (people tend to forget that), but I can tell you some things about this. 

Self hatred is not healthy, but it never comes from nowhere either. You were hurt. You were hurt in a way that made you think you weren't good enough. And that's… bad that it happened to you. And that explains a lot about you. But it doesn't excuse you." 

He waited to make sure Spinel got the idea. 

She nodded back silently. 

"And it doesn't always depend on you if you ever upset someone with something you can do or say, unintentionally… just like someone can upset you with their actions, and it's reasonable to say that their "I didn't mean it" won't cut it for you. It's true. 

The thing about it is… you have to account for how people around you can feel about your actions and words. Not for everyone, mostly for people you know. Though it’s good to be thoughtful in general. 

Then people will account for you too. 

What I'm saying is… you were hurt. Hurting others wasn't the best plan of action. But it was the one your shattered mentality required. It made others hurt, and you know what that became - they weren't incredibly thrilled to see you, because you hurt them. That's what anger impulses cause. 

And, rage issues… Look, I'm not a therapist, I can't give you professional therapy to help it. 

But I can help you find safer means to spend your boiling energy. Safer for you, Spinel. You shouldn't be… wanting to harm yourself." He got noticeably quieter. "Like I said, account for how it makes people feel… I care about you. What you did- what you tried to do - made me feel sad. Because I like having you around… I want to be able to keep doing that." 

Steven stopped now, before he'd accidentally list everything that he liked about Spinel. 

She thought about his words for a while, tucking her legs to her chest. 

"So you're saying that the path to being a better person is just… think of others, and channel aggression safely?"

"Well, yeah. There's more to it, but that's a good start, and that's just what I think anyways." 

"You make it sound so easy." 

"It is harder than it sounds. That's a path of healing for you."

"What about… relapses?" 

Spinel stood up, with her hands down by her sides. Steven put his hands on his hips and tilted his head in confusion. She needed an extra minute to elaborate on it - to confess to him. 

"I've been suppressing it so many times by now. Times when I just wanted to… go ape shit. On people. Random people. Who upset me. Or not. Because if I was upset - why should they be happy? I know!" She added before he said anything, "I know it makes no sense and sounds rude, and that's what pushes me further into hating myself for being this way, and that's what makes me angrier, and that's what makes me want to hurt people more…" 

She slid down to the floor as she spoke. She held her legs to her chest and hid her head in her hands, clutching her hair. "I don't know what's wrong with me. I don't wanna be this way." 

Steven sat down by her side, putting a hand over her shoulder. 

"Spinel." She didn't reply, though she seemed to listen. "It's… okay. It may not seem like it now. But it will be. Eventually. You're… not mad right now, right? Look at me." 

She looked up at him, still holding onto her hair. 

"Say, you were mad now. There's only me here. So you'd try to hurt me. … How would it make things better?" 

She avoided eye contact. 

Steven continued to speak, very softly, almost in a whisper. 

"Would it make it better? Would it make you hurt less?" 

"Nooo…" She whined. 

"And if you break something in anger? You'll look for it later, when you're not mad, and find that you broke it. That's the consequences…" 

"I don't want to break things…" she said, smallish. 

“Or you could end up pushing people away.” 

“Mmm…” She made a distressed sound. 

"You don't have to give in to your anger. There are plenty of ways to deal with it. Sometimes you just need to wait it out before acting. Like counting to ten. Taking deep breaths." Steven held his arms out, invitingly. "Counting on your friends. You can do that." 

Spinel let go of her hair, and reached for him, letting Steven bring her closer and hold her, until she calmed down again. 

"There we go." Steven thought, but did not voice. "I'll keep you calm. Always." 

But it was time to actually start the day. 

"I think we've done enough for the first time. You did well, Spinel." 

~ ~ ~  

It was the middle of the day when Connie came over again. She seemed regretful of her actions, and even enthusiastic to make up for it - she invited the two to hang out in the mall in her town.

This seemed like a good idea to start over. The transport of choice was decided on - lion, of course. Connie sat on the front, causing Steven to hold onto her from behind, while Spinel held onto Steven from the back. The difference being that Steven tried to keep as much distance as he could with Connie, and Spinel leaned fully into him, taking in the smell of his hair that she loved so much… 

Lion brought the three to the destination - a tall and glassy building with moving staircases and a lot of flashy shops and mini bars inside - and wandered off. 

This was going to be fun. Spinel didn't get the idea of whatever the "Mall" was. She just hoped it wouldn't include having to "maul" anyone. But she joined in on her friend's enthusiasm. 

The first stop was jumping on and going up and down the moving ladders. 

While the two humans played around on it, Spinel managed to get her rubber hand stuck in one of them. Steven found it funny at first - she was so flexible and liquid, she’d probably go in and come out on the other side. But then he recalled that her gem wasn't made of rubber as well as her body, and so it probably wouldn't fit in the gap. So he rushed in to hold her back from being consumed by every child’s worst nightmare. 

Spinel didn't have the concept of this danger sink in to her yet, though she did like the fact that Steven suddenly held her. She let her arm stretch for a while… till she decided it was time to move to avoid making this awkward, so she made her hand so flat - it reeled back to her with ease. Steven was relieved to recall she could also do that. They laughed about it together, while he still held her. 

Damn it. That was one way Connie's plan backfired. But it was too early to say that it failed completely… 

Next thing on the list - clothes section. 

Neither of the three needed new clothes, they only needed those round hangers to hide at. Connie suggested hide and seek. After getting Spinel's approval, Steven agreed. 

Connie tried to spy where did Spinel hide, and playfully lure Steven as far as she could while he searched for the two. 

But in the end Steven turned around and instantly found where Spinel was, causing the pink gem to jump up happily and hug him for finding her. 

Connie shook her hands in rage from the distance. 

When she was seeking - she planned to leave Spinel hanging wherever she went, but she managed to bump into Steven the second she started seeking. And from there Steven quickly helped her find Spinel. It's like the two sensed each other. Another hug took place. 

When Spinel sought - she scared Connie by stretching her head around until she spotted her, then reaching all the way up to her just to tell her that she's been found. 

Steven seemed to have a good laugh at Spinel "cheating" the game with her abilities. 

Connie was silently growing furious. 

It was smoothie time. She couldn't screw up this. She got two cups, and one of them had two straws. She hid that one behind her back, as she reached a single cup for Spinel. She waited until the gem tasted her drink. Now it was claimed by her. 

Then she revealed the second cup, sadly informing Steven that there was no alternative, and they would have to share it now. 

Steven felt fine about this, as he took a sip from his side. Before Connie could do the same on her part - Steven leaned away, saying that he didn't like the taste. 

Spinel instantly reached her own cup for him to try. And he liked that one more. 

"Seems like you're getting the whole cup to yourself, Connie. That's so great." He said innocently. 

Connie almost choked on her recyclable straw. But she kept quiet and drank it all up, while her two "friends" took turns drinking from the same cup. A gesture even more romantic than two straws, damn it. 

Spinel got those strange warm feelings again, when she'd take sips after Steven, but again she didn't give it a second thought. It was probably an allergy. 

Connie concentrated. It was time for the main plan to take place. This one the two lovebirds wouldn’t ruin. First thing first, she suggested going to look for some fancy clothes, even if they weren’t planning to buy them - she said she’d just like to introduce Spinel to the concept of shopping, so she asked to borrow her for a while. 

Steven asked Spinel if she felt okay with that. The pink gem did hesitate, but she eventually agreed, reassured by Steven that she could do that. Connie wished she could put two fingers in her mouth and press them down on her tongue to throw up, while she watched the two discuss parting for a short while as if they were parting for years. Steven didn’t act that way when Connie said she was going to the space camp. He didn’t act this way with her at all. 

She cursed Spinel in her mind. The fuchsia gem must have been good at pretending to be having all those “panic attacks” and “tantrums” that kept Steven by her side all the time, Connie thought, even though she never saw her do the latter. She just assumed she did. 

She led Spinel to the girl’s clothes section (which wasn’t an accurate alignment, just a part of Connie’s plan). They tried on skirts, though Spinel leaned more towards pants and boots. She found something fancy about them. 

And she found something good in herself. There she was, away from Steven and not even in his jacket, but feeling… fine. Missed him already, sure. But she could do this. This time she wasn’t having a panic attack, so far at least. And she was with Connie, the girl who seemingly sincerely wanted to be friends this time. Things seemed to turn out for the better… 

As they carefully folded and placed back the clothes that they tried on, Connie said she would return in a minute. 

A minute. Sure. Spinel could do that. She kept examining the hanged dresses, while Connie ran around the corner, waited a minute, and returned again. Somewhere deep in her conscience, she did start to feel a little bad for doing this to her. But she tried to drown it away, telling herself that Spinel was bad, and she was saving Steven. She was, was she not? 

“Spinel, Steven called me over. Can you wait here? We need to do something - jam buds stuff - and we’ll come back for you, okay?” 

“Jam buds” was a white, contextless noise for Spinel. 

Steven called her over, only her? And told Spinel to wait here… That’s strange to say the least. But she could do that. After all, maybe he wanted to settle something personal, or maybe they were preparing something for her… Yeah, there could be a lot of options. 

It’s weird that he told her to wait. Usually if he thought he’d be occupied - he’d at least let her have his jacket. But alright, maybe she didn’t know all about it. 

Spinel agreed, and kept looking at the clothes. 

But Connie added, 

“Okay, stand right here, and don’t go anywhere. We’ll come pick you up later.” 

With that, she ran off. 

Her last words gave Spinel chills down her spine. 

She froze for a moment. In her mind the fear Connie arose in her and the will to calm herself were battling. And she stood moveless and quiet while they did that. 

No, no, get… yourself… together… No!

Spinel jumped up and landed down a few meters behind. Moving, moving, moving. She had to keep moving. This was so stupid, they just left her behind for a minute (left her behind forever!) No! People get told to wait all the time, why couldn’t she be a normal gem about it? 

Spinel held her head in her hands and closed her eyes, her mind becoming too loud to handle. 

Maybe to hell with it? Screw what she said, go and find them. Steven told her to prioritize her mental health. And right now she was getting a panic attack all over again. 

So… what? Go and find them and admit how weak she was? No, Spinel was strong, stronger than anyone thought she could ever get. She was strong, she could make a change, she could make a decision, she could… 

She stared down at the floor, breathing heavily, as familiar sensations flooded back to her. 

Back in the Garden… She knew she could do something about the pain she felt. She was going to come to Earth and… rage. Take her anger out. Make it known she was hurt. And hurt others. 

No! It was wrong! Steven said it was wrong to give in to the anger!

But Steven wasn’t here now…  

But it doesn’t matter! He would come back for her, she would make him proud for once this whole week! 

Spinel tried to stand idly. But as soon as she willed herself to stop moving - a vision appeared before her eyes. The room got dark, everything around rotted. And from the ground below her feet - the vines started emerging and enveloping her legs, slowly crawling higher, getting hold of her hands and dragging her down to leave her rotting with the rest of the scenery, with the rest of the Garden...

Moving snapper her out of it. 

A hand reached out to pat her shoulder lightly. Spinel scanned the source of it: Not Steven. She swapped the hand away. She was not even aware - and didn’t care - who’s hand was it. 

After she got her hand slapped away, Jasper questioned if she should have carried out with the plan at all. Spinel didn’t seem to acknowledge her presence at all. But… maybe it was for the better? 

Jasper tried again, this time her gesture accompanied by calling out to Spinel. 

“Hey… Spinel? Ya need help?” She felt so stupid saying that aloud now. 

Spinel felt another advance. She slapped her hand away again, with more force now. 

Force… it felt so good. It felt so good to her to be able to let her feelings out by hurting things, the impact, the pain she felt back, it made Spinel feel… lighter. 

She turned towards the source of the invading hand - the Not Steven. She twirled her hand around and landed a good punch on whoever it was. 

She sent Jasper flying back a few blocks. 

This felt nice. Spinel laughed, this felt better than calming herself. And instantly! 

That was decided. She’ll cope with this the way she knows how to. 

“I’m rude now.” She said in her blinding rage, forming her hands into springs to launch herself off the place that she stood at. 

She jumped on one of the giant decorations that hanged from the ceiling, searching the area for… Is that Connie and Steven? 

 

Connie ran back to Steven as fast as she could. The first thing he asked her was the whereabouts of Spinel. Of course. What else? 

Connie caught her breath, 

“She… stayed behind to… look at more clothes. I asked her to come but she, uh…” This was for the better, this was for the better, “She said she’d catch up to us later.” 

“Oh.” Steven blinked at her. That sounded nothing like Spinel. And nothing like honest Connie… 

“Steven, while we’re alone, can I talk to you? I really wanted to tell you… I’m really sorry. I’ve… I did act rude back then.” 

“Yeah, you did.” Steven was still squinting at her, trying hard to imagine Spinel staying behind and telling people she’ll find them later. That just sounded nothing like her. 

But then again… why would Connie lie? 

“I’m really sorry. I really hope I can ever… make it up to you. Steven…” She held her hands together, faking shyness, “You’re my friend. My dear friend. I should be… more considerate. I just… really don’t want to lose you.” 

Steven sighed. She really was the same Connie that he knew for past few years. He thought it was so silly now, that he spent years questioning if he liked Connie as a friend or was there more to it. And then he saw Spinel exactly once and already knew she’d be his wild ride with a length of a lifetime. 

He realized Connie would always be his best friend. He placed one hand on her shoulder, reassuringly. 

There was a weird, faint thud in the distance. 

“It’s okay. We all make mistakes. You’re my good friend after all.” 

Connie pretended to be deeply touched. 

Then she made her grave mistake. 

She leaned in, fully hugging Steven, and smiling happily about it. Steven thought, just this once, nothing could go wrong. And he’d go looking for Spinel right after, to tell her the good news of him having sorted his feelings out for Connie. 

He hugged her back. 

 

There was a loud thud right next to the two. An enraged fuchsia gem landed on the ground right next to them, creating cracks where her soft shoe hit the tiles. 

Steven felt so shocked, he forgot to let Connie go from his arms. And Connie purposely kept holding onto him, now even closer. 

Spinel was mad. Her limbs were extended out, making herself seem bigger for intimidation. Her hair was long and upwards, like the ears of an angered bunny, ready for an attack. 

And the way she looked at the two meant nothing good. It was pure rage at first, then surprise - shock. Sadness. Pain. And she cycled back to being mad again, with renewed passion. 

Right. Steven forgot she was capable of it. But why was she like that? Something must have happened. What could have… 

Spinel snarled. In her mind Steven told her to wait - indirectly - left her behind - and went to hug Connie? He went to be with her and left Spinel behind?! After everything? 

Spinel lowered her body, ready to jump. 

Steven had to act quick. He threw Connie aside, summoned his shield and blocked off an attack of Spinel launching herself at him. 

She extended her fists out. Steven kept two smaller shields on his hands, blocking out her advances. 

“Traitor!” She screamed, spitting out. 

“Spinel, what are you talking about? What happened?” 

“What happened? What happened?!” Her voice turned into a growl, as she snuck one of her hands to grab Steven by the face. “Not only did you leave me waiting behind - you went on to be with Connie!” 

Steven tried to get her hand off his face. 

“What?!” 

“Was it all a lie?!” She kept screaming. “All that time just… playing with me? And leaving me behind when you’ve had enough fun!” 

“Spinel, I would never leave you behind!” Steven finally pried her hand off himself, raising up his shield. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But I promise, I didn’t leave you behind! I didn’t trade you for Connie - she’s just my friend!” 

Connie was on her knees nearby, supporting her body up by her hands on the floor. Her eyes trembled when she heard that. 

Just a friend… 

“Liar!” Spinel roared. 

“I’d never lie to you, I made a promise!” 

The pink gem raised her hand up, making her fist bigger and aiming it at Steven, planning to send him flying into the next week. 

Steven saw that. 

He put his shield away, hearing a faint “Steven no!” somewhere from the side, and stood with his arms open and spread in front of enraged Spinel. 

“If you really believe that I lied to you - you can hit me! Hit me until you feel better then!” 

He looked serious and determined, turning his other cheek for her. Waiting. If she thought he lied - so be it, he’ll let her get it out. And then he’ll talk to her about it once it’s out of her system for good. 

Her fist shook with anger in the air. 

But it never landed a hit. 

She subdued, making herself small again and sinking down to her knees. She started sobbing. Steven sat down next to her. He reached his hands out - she leaned back at first, as if she expected him to hurt her - but then took his invitation and let herself be held in his hands. 

“I’m sorry…” She whispered. 

“It’s alright.” He comforted. 

They sat silently for a while, it didn’t seem like either was planning to part any time soon. Steven kept petting her head, making sure she was calming down and her breathing was getting even… 

Connie carefully approached the two. 

“Steven, what are you doing?” She asked with a desperate whine, “She was just trying to hurt you!” 

Spinel shuddered, ready to get up and leave, but Steven tightened his hold on her. 

“Yeah. Because she got hurt. And she thought I hurt her.” Accounting for other people’s feelings, huh? “And then she did something much bigger than that.” 

Steven grabbed Spinel by shoulders and helped her sit up in front of him, her hands staying on her knees. He was talking to her only now. 

“You did it! You actually did it - you managed to control your anger! You stopped! You stopped it all by yourself, that’s so great! You did good, Spinel.” 

Spinel’s expression twitched, and she held onto her gem. 

“I…” She didn’t feel like it was her own accomplishment. “I just… realised I didn’t want to… do worse. I didn’t want to hit you. Even if you- Even if I thought you left me behind.” 

“I didn’t leave you behind, I promise.” 

Connie held her hands together worriedly. Don’t let them talk it out, don’t let them find out… 

“Steven? Don’t you think it’s… wrong? You left her for a minute, and she… went berserk. Don’t you think that makes her dangerous?” 

A silence hanged. Spinel could hear a faint heartbeat. 

Steven slowly raised his head at Connie, looking utterly disappointed, and angered. He didn’t even know where to begin with that - with her trying to paint a mentally ill gem as socially dangerous because of her trauma. 

He didn’t even know where to begin, so he didn’t. He got up, helping Spinel get up with him, and holding her hand in his own tightly. 

“You can call me when you realize how wrong what you just said is.” He threw at Connie, and led Spinel away. 

“But I’m right!” Connie threw back at him, but it’s unlikely he even heard her… 

~ ~ ~ 

“I just don’t feel like I did anything.” Spinel said, sitting on the couch at Steven’s house. “I… wouldn’t have stopped, if it wasn’t you in front of me, and if you didn’t do what you did… How’d you even know that was going to work?” 

Steven put a pair of warm cups of tea on the table, and sat down next to Spinel, covering their legs with a blanket. 

“I didn’t. I mean, I didn’t think it would “work”. I just figured you were mad beyond being reachable, so I thought I’d just let you rage it out ‘till you’d calm down.” 

“You were just going to let me hit you?!” 

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” he tried to laugh it off, “but I’m proud of you. I just stood there, literally. You stopped yourself.” He patted her shoulder. 

Steven really was proud of her. She was making progress, and he was helping her with the hardest part. Kept believing in her. That’s what she needed the most. 

And he hoped she still needed him. Slowly and over time, Steven was aware of all the times he felt incredibly comfortable together with her. Usually he loved to get some alone time to himself, but Spinel took the need of that away. He felt as peaceful as alone with her. Was that how it works? Was it normal to want no one else around but her? And feel so… at home with her?

Deep inside he wanted to find out just how deep he was willing to dive into this with her. But the fear of scaring her off was greater, so Steven hoped he could just… keep it without changes for a while. 

But changes never ask when to come. 

Someone knocked on the front door. 

Steven went up to answer, but found no one around. Only a suspicious box on the ground. He picked it up and called Spinel to follow him to his room to inspect it. 

She brought the cups of tea with her. 

They would need it. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“The bird is in the nest.” 

"What's a bird?" 

Connie put down the binoculars and rolled her eyes. 

"The fish took the bait!"

"A'ight. You gonna mention if Steven took the box yet or not?" 

"That's what I'm saying, I'm just coding it for conspiracy." 

"What conspiracy, we're alone in this whole place." Jasper pointed around them. They truly were alone, hiding behind a large stone arm and looking at the house. 

"Say again, what's yer plan here?" 

"This time I'm going to make it so that Steven will tell Spinel to leave him alone." 

"With a piece of cake?" 

"A special piece of cake." 

“You made me go and buy whatever you soaked it in - “Aphrodisiac” or whatever - I get a right to know what was that.” 

Connie thought that Jasper was the last person - well, gem - to be talking about rights. Yet she knew she also wouldn’t shut up until she’d tell her. 

“So basically, the thing that we put in that cake will make Steven… Uuuh… It will make him feel… the way that when humans feel that way - they prefer to be alone.”

“You have a drink for wanting to be alone?” 

“No, not directly. It’s more like… It will make him feel … Vulnerable. It’ll make him feel vulnerable in the special human way. In a way when you don’t usually want someone around yourself.” 

“Usually?” Jasper didn’t like what that word implied. 

“Yeah, well, other times people stay and… do things together. But that only happens between people are like… really close and trust each other and stuff. Like, romantically together.” 

Jasper kept quiet for a moment, putting her hand to cover her mouth as she mentally rehearsed the plan in her head again. 

“So yer telling me… that we gave Steven, who hasn’t left Spinel’s side all week, and been huggin’ and comfortin’ her all the time - something that can make him romantically vulnerable?”  

Connie hesitated to answer. 

“Uhhhh…. don’t sweat it! It’ll work out and he’ll ask her to leave him alone and she’ll have a breakdown over it- Just you wait!” 

They’re not that close, are they? - Connie wondered silently.

 

~ ~ ~ 

“Steven, what’s wrong?!” Spinel felt terrified, looking at the way he started to feel shortly after they shared the found piece of cake. “Oh no, oh no, what if there was poison in it? What do we do?” 

“Spinel, I’m alright, really, it’s just…” Steven crossed his arms and doubled over, “It’s nothing, it just got really hot in the room all of a sudden, heh heh.” 

His laugh came out very faked. He wasn’t doing so well, sitting on the side of his bed with his body running hotter every second. “I don’t think it was poisoned… I’m fine, I promise.”

“Promise? You don’t look fine. You can’t even move! Steven…” 

Spinel came closer, grabbing his shoulders and trying to read what was making him feel so bad on his face. Steven was blushing and was weirdly hot, and that was all. But Spinel didn’t know enough about humans, or half humans, to come to any conclusion here.

As for Steven, he felt a jolt of electricity when she touched him. This was torture, it seems there really was a poison in the cake that they found in the box and shared, but not the one he expected. Steven guessed that whatever it was - got him in the state he was in now. 

The aroused state. 

Spinel was all over the place and worried, but he didn’t know how to tell her - how to explain any of it to her. And right now, he couldn’t even think straight to explain anything. 

If he could just take care of himself now, he would… Steven shook his head at himself. Did he just forget that Spinel was in the room with him? Did he just visualise touching himself while she was with him, or did he… want it? Spinel wasn’t exactly human, no, but… He surprised himself when he thought of it again and again, finding that the thought of being so vulnerable and intimate with her didn’t scare him all that much. Fear for weirding her out, sure. But if she wanted it, he wouldn’t oppose… Why would she want it though? And how in a world would he know that she felt the same? 

Maybe this was just an effect of his state, and he wouldn’t normally feel that way about her? Then he should probably wait unit it wears of and ask himself again… 

But he couldn’t wait! He didn’t even know he was shaking. But Spinel knew, as she saw that. She was worried, but not scared. She was determined to do whatever it takes to help him. If she needed to carry him across the town now - she damn would do her best to cover the long distance fast. But Steven just wasn’t telling her what was wrong. Was he not trusting her? 

Spinel took his face into her hands, leaning closer. 

“Stevie…”  She said slowly, “How do I help you?”

She was looking him into the eyes ever so softly, with concern and care and a sincere desire to help written all over her trauma-scarred face. 

It was that moment that Steven’s self control gave up. 

He held her face in his own hands, just like that - and with that brought her closer to kiss her on the lips. 

Spinel didn’t get what just happened. Why’d he want to put his face against hers so closely? It’s not like she complained though, this felt somewhat nice. She felt her lips right against his own. She opened her mouth to try and say something - but didn’t carry out with that, because the next moment his tongue was inside of her mouth. 

It was about third weirdest human thing Spinel ever faced. But she didn’t protest, sincerely curious as to what was happening. She could feel him exploring her mouth, she could taste him - and then there was this feeling again. 

Her vision became white and her gem felt hot, as if someone poured hot lava straight into it, and the more she felt exposed to it - the more this pleasant warmth spread through her body, making every touch that she got feel ten times softer and more special. 

Ah, so it wasn't an allergy. 

It was all because of Steven’s taste? She knew that his saliva had healing powers towards shattered or damaged gems and humans, but she was whole. And it made her feel so… blissful. He probably licked her gem back together when she tried to shatter herself, she thought with adoration, the grim note having no effect on the moment they were sharing. At the moment she suddenly kind of wished he'd kiss her gem again.

Finally, Steven moved back to breath again. Looking terrified, he started whispering how sorry he was to do that. 

Spinel didn’t reply right away - she was cooling down from what she felt. Steven wasn’t cooling down though. He was only feeling worse, he wanted more. He couldn’t hold himself back from wanting more. 

“Can we do it again?” Both of them asked in unison. 

There was a second of surprised silence, then Spinel smiled and let Steven bring her closer, going back to the explorations they were doing. She put her legs down around his own on the bed, but Steven fell backwards, causing her to follow him and now loom above him. 

That didn't stop the two. In fact, both laughed about it for a second, and then returned to the more important matters at hand. Steven brought her close, holding onto the soft body like it was his dear life, and maybe to him she really was. He needed her now, needed to feel something against himself more than he needed to breath. And she was oblivious to whatever was happening, but Steven was finally feeling better, and she was having her own fun, so that was a win-win. She let him guide her head as he kissed her deeply, exploring the newly found sensations and the things he had only fantasized about before, or wondered about in the dark of the night.

Spinel was having a blast, but something was missing for Steven. The security and the confidence that he was with the one person he trusted enough for this - was in place. But he needed more than that. He needed a different type of stimulation - or at least a well played lack of it - to finish. 

"Spinel..." He said softly, in a breathy tone. 

"Yes?" Did he want something? 

"Could you…" He was taking pauses to catch his breath. "Could you please…" 

"Steven?"

She placed her hand over his own, mentally ready to do anything that he asked of her now. Anything to prolong or better the moment of utter pleasure that they were sharing. 

"Please… hold my hands." 

Spinel grabbed his hand into her own, softly. 

"No, no I mean… hold them down." 

Hold them down? Hold him in place? That was a weird request, but she was happy to oblige. 

She got hold of his wrists, grounding her hands into the bed with the strength that she never had at first glance, yet she always had it in her. 

That was more like it. Steven loved that - the lack of control over this, the struggles he put in. He struggled almost all too happily against that, suddenly feeling like his pants got tighter on him.

Spinel noted those struggles. She decided to go with his own request further. When he bucked his hips up again - she sat down, grinding on his hips to keep him down. 

Steven made a weird sound at that. A prolonged moan. The sound almost came across as pained, temporarily scaring Spinel - did she do something wrong? 

"Are you alright?" She asked, while holding him down with every limb that she had. 

"Yes, please." He said in a hazy state, "Please Spinel…" 

"Yes?" 

He had no idea how to put what he needed of her. And even if he wasn't feeling like that - he wouldn't explain it. So right now he could only say, 

"Please take lead." 

There was a need for a double take on that. Spinel never took lead or was in charge of anything (spare for her evil plan and anger). But right now her main objective was to make him feel better. And she had no idea what was going on, but she happily obliged. 

She held his hands down, while she smiled above him with a tint of gloating, watching as he struggled to reach up and kiss her more, he was begging her so cutely. She waited a little more, before leaning down and kissing him - this time she took the lead of that, exploring his mouth. Making him have to accomodate for what she pleased to do to him. 

He was bucking his hips up with a steady rhythm, and it somewhat reminded her of riding a horse, or at least seeing other people do that on TV. She couldn’t help but giggle, feeling that she was on a happy ride. 

And she was fast to notice that the tighter she held him - the happier Steven seemed. Interesting… 

She moved both of his wrists to her one hand, and used her freed one to hold him around the neck. Softly at first, just waiting for him to protest or say no. But he didn’t - he seemed content with what was to come - so she tightened her grip around his neck, watching as he struggled to free his hands and probably fight her hand off, if he could. But he couldn’t escape that iron grip. He could only hope that she knew what she was doing. 

And Spinel certainly did. She let go and let him catch his breath eventually. Then closed her hand again. She liked playing with him, like he was her toy now. She was in control, in utter control of everything about him, and this felt, and this felt… 

Right. 

Suddenly Steven’s movement became more erratic, he sped up thrusting his hips up - Spinel took it for a que to tighten her grips on him and kiss him once more. She was so focused on getting the kick out of this power play - she forgot her other pleasure. 

And then there were loud and pained moans coming from Steven, as he finally stopped struggling and thrusting so much. 

Spinel let his limbs go, and laid down besides him. Both were catching their breaths now. Spinel reached to hold Steven's hand, crossing their fingers together. 

"What was that?" She asked, utterly confused, but certainly pleased. 

Steven thought on the words he could have used to describe it, now that he could sort of think again, but only ended up whispering few words quietly, while looking right before himself. 

"The loss of my innocence."

The two exchanged a look. Then they laughed, innocently and happily as can be. 

Chapter Text

The next day. He wanted to talk about it, but he didn’t want to talk about it at all. Steven was in the middle of still questioning his feelings all around, and he thought that rushing into something like that… was a bump on their road. It somewhat simultaneously made it better and worse that Spinel had no idea what they did. Or rather, what she watched him do. What did she even get out of it? 

She sat on the couch now - literally over the couch. Her legs were on the sitting part, while she sat on the top part of it. Steven sat more normally, besides her. 

It hanged in the air, he needed to say something. Explain what it was to her? Scare her away? Weird her out? 

This was bad for him. He didn’t want to lose her, or her progress, or anything that’s been building up between them, if there even was anything. He didn’t even know if he wanted to like her that way, and if she would ever… even know the equivalent of those feelings, let alone feel the same. 

Love takes time to build. Sometimes it rushes, sometimes it’s too slow. Sometimes it takes pain and break ups and not very good decisions being made, and then more pain, before it even has a chance to grow. 

But one thing has always been certain. If the feeling of love (or friendship, for that matter) was there - it would always be there, through any sort of misfortune and disagreements. And if it ends - then it was not there to begin with. 

Yet nothing was ever as painful as taking that 50 / 50 chance of finding that out. 

Fear to lose it all took over. Alright, Steven thought, maybe if he’d never bring it up again - they can just… pretend it never happened. 

Someone knocked on the door cautiously. 

Connie walked in - much more reluctantly than a while ago now. She started by saying how sorry she was for what she said, while trying to scan the expressions on their faces to tell if her plan had taken place as she expected it to work. 

The two seemed fine next to each other, although Steven was looking a bit… flustered. 

"I… hope I didn't ruin the day with what I said to you, Spinel." She tried to crawl closer to the topic.

"Oh, nah. I had a good day… after that breakdown. Me and Steven played a lot of fun games."

Steven shot up, putting his hand up and a finger next to his lips. 

"I rode Steven." Spinel smiled innocently. 

Connie just froze in place. 

Steven leaned forward, grabbing onto his head and hiding his face. 

He could use poofing. Preferably falling through the floor and disappearing. Forever. Preferably now. 

"He was like a horsey below me, and he was making silly noises. Is that what a horse sounds like?" She looked at Steven. "Oh and then he made me feel all giggly and warm too with his…" She forgot the word "saliva" momentarily. "...Liquid. So, yeah. The rest of our day was fun." 

"That's great." Connie blurted, before exiting the house in a ridiculous power walk. 

Steven sat up, his eyes wide open, taking in a lungful of air. 

Alright. New plan. He would never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever hesitate to explain things to Spinel again. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The feeling of the water covering their feet as they walked the shore line was new and pleasant to Spinel. That one she liked more. She knew what that was, she felt good about this slow walk on the beach. 

And she felt good about Steven, despite barely making sense of what he was telling her. 

"So let me get this right. What we did is what people do when they're very close. But we did it on accident. And you don't want people to know about it." 

"Yes." Alright, Steven sighed with relief. Part one was done with - Spinel got the idea of what happened. It was time for part two - to explain how he felt about it. And ask how she felt…

"Honestly, I don't care that we did it." Spinel answered before he said anything. "I mean. I don't get it. Just wanted to help you since you looked really hurt, and I'm glad I did. But I don't feel uh… mental weight because of it?" 

"That's great. But, I do feel like… like I should say…" he stopped, and grabbed her hand into his own, "Even if it means nothing to you - I'm sorry. I didn't mean to rush into… things. I didn't mean to make it seem like I was interested in you that way… I wasn't controlling anything. And I mean - it's not that I didn't think how I feel about you. It's just that… it's just that…" 

Steven was trying hard to look for the right words. But they just weren't coming. They just weren't. 

"I don't know." He admitted. He didn't know how to put it that he was in the middle of figuring his feelings out and never meant to rush it. Didn't want to make it sound like he wanted more, or that he would never want more. 

He sincerely didn't know. 

"I don't know..." He repeated. 

He felt Spinel hold onto his hand back. 

"I get it." 

"You do?" 

"No. Not really. And that's how I get that you don't know - I don't know either! But if it would make you feel better to pretend that this never happened - I'll gladly play along." 

Suddenly there was a light in the end of this dark tunnel. Steven didn't even expect that she'd find such a good way out of this awkward situation. He held her hand in his two. 

"Spinel, thank you so much. That'd be ideal. Yeah. Thank you." 

"One question." She sort of interrupted him. 

"Huh?" 

"Is the whole thing sacred, or… the part where we just…" It was her turn to look away shyly, "That part where we… put our lips together… is that also a thing only very very very close people do?" 

"Oh, uhm… well, friends do that sometimes. Like, close platonic friends. It's called kissing." 

"Yeah, can we… canwestilldothatonesometimes?" 

"Yes." Steven whispered as awkwardly as she said her part, blushing with a bright pink colour. 

It wasn't the first time they both shared an awkward moment, and just like before they both soon laughed at it. It always made it feel better - to just laugh at how ridiculous and dramatic things were. Even if they'd circle back to taking things too seriously all the time - that was the beauty of it. 

Before the laughter subdued, Steven reached out to peck Spinel on the cheek with his lips. She seemed to like that, seeing as she returned the favour. There was something warm and fuzzy about this gesture. 

Teenagers, they were teenagers. 

~ ~ ~ 

Connie covered her face when she went back to their secret base at the Little Homeworld, embarrassed of her plan backfiring so drastically. 

"Lemme guess… backfired." Jasper guessed, when she walked into the room.

The human girl sat down and covered her face, just like she saw Steven do a while ago. 

"Alright. New plan. Now we'll do it my way." 

"Don't you get it?" Connie raised her voice out of nowhere, "They're that close! We can't just desperate them…" 

Something akin to conscience started to boil inside of her. 

"Like I said. We go with my plan now. We'll separate 'em."

"Wow, great plan." Came in a salty reply. 

“Na, you don’t get it. We’ll do it more…” Jasper put her fist against her open palm, “Effectively.” 

“Whoa, whoa!” Connie raised her hands up, defensively. “You’re not planning anything violent, are you? We can’t just… kidnap one of them.” 

“Who said we can’t?” The buff gem shrugged, “We can and will. And here’s the plan.” 

“I don’t think I like that plan already. I signed up to this to get my friend back - not to get anyone in danger.” 

“Let me talk, will you? No one’s gonna be in danger, or sad. I got a friendly Aquamarine on Homeworld, who got me all that we’ll need. This plan can’t backfire, and both of us will get what we want.” 

Jasper summoned a weapon from her gem. A weapon Connie recognized, although she barely saw it before… No. No, they were not going to do that. 

Connie stood up, turning to head out. 

“I’m not on board.” 

Before she made it far, Jasper grabbed her up by the shoulder and slammed against the nearby wall. Not hard enough to damage her, but hard enough to get the idea of a threat across. 

“Then I guess I’ll have to tell Steven all about who’s been behind the misfortunes that he’s been facing.”

“You would not!” Connie raised her voice too, her years of practice turning ineffective when she was swordless and rendered immobile by the bigger gem. “You’d have to reveal that you’re behind that too!” 

Jasper laughed at her, 

“So what? I’m not the one who’s got a friendship to lose with the boy.” 

Connie went quiet, suddenly terrified. Oh, what has she gotten herself into? Nothing good. 

“You either fix your friendship or lose it forever. Your choice?” 

A prolonged silence hanged in the air between the two. 

“...What’s the plan?” Connie finally asked in a defeated tone. 

~ ~ ~ 

"Saw you hanging out with Connie yesterday." 

"Spinel, it's not what you think-"

"I won't hesitate… snitch!" 

Spinel held her hands in the shape of a gun. 

"Dude, it's bitch." Amethyst said from behind the recording phone. 

"Golly." Spinel rubbed her eyes, "My bad. Alright, let's take another shot."

"Nah, I gotta move. Have fun, you two." Amethyst hid Pearl's phone back into her gem, and went off. 

"Don't forget to free it of our recordings before you give it back to Pearl!" Steven added as she was going down the stairs, "And don't forget to give it back to Pearl altogether!" 

"Can't hear ya, too far away!" Amethyst "screamed" from the lower part of the stairs. 

"She always forgets it." Steven turned towards Spinel once they were alone. "Say… do you ever feel like we forgot to do something?"

“We had to do something?” Spinel put a finger to her lips, trying hard to remember. “Someone asked us of something or like…” 

“No, something else, but I can’t recall… It’s in the back of my head, uhh…”

“Oh well, if you can’t remember that then it’s probably not importn-”

“The Diamonds!” He blurted out. “We forgot to tell the Diamonds that I found you.” 

“We never did that, huh.”

“Yeah, we probably need to update them on…” 

Steven looked down, at the figure that had appeared in the staircase before them. 

“Oh, uh, hey Connie.” 

“Hey.” Connie waved at them, trying to hide the fact that she was very nervous.  

“You wanted something?” 

“Yeah, I… wanted to… ask you guys to hang out again? Like, give it another shot?” 

“Sounds fine to me.” Spinel commented, understanding that “giving it another chance” was directed at her, considering what happened last time. 

“Then, how about you wait with Connie here, while I update the Diamonds?” 

“Yeah. I'll be fine.” 

The pink gem made her way down the stairs, while Steven went up for a quick video chat. 

Spinel stopped and turned around mid-walk, looking up at the portrait on the wall. That lady… 

“She was… something, yeah?” Connie said from the first floor. She was trying to hear Steven’s footsteps, to determine how far was he. 

“Huh? You knew her?” Spinel asked, making her way down to stand next to Connie, but still looking at the portrait. 

“Yeah, well, who doesn’t? That’s the Rose Quartz.” 

Rose Quartz… The Rose Quartz?... That was ringing a bell in her head, but she just couldn’t put her finger on it. When or where did she hear anything about a notable rose quartz? 

“Yeah, there’s a piece of her sword here too.” Connie said, reaching out to grab it from the shelf and bringing it closer for Spinel’s inspection. 

“It broke when we were fighting Blue Diamond.” 

“You guys fought Blue? Why, did she make you all cry too?” 

“No, well, yes, but…” Connie took the chunk of sword back into her hands, and slowly circled Spinel, “Back then she… wasn’t on our side… yet…” 

“Why?” 

“Because…” Connie gripped the blade, “she didn’t know that Steven was…”

Spinel kept her attention fixated on the painting, feeling… haunted by it. Then she gasped, feeling a sharp blade cut through her form and come out right below her gem. She turned around, startled, as the blade remained impaled through her. Connie was looking just as equally terrified - of herself - and regretful. 

Then there was a poof and a sound of a gem and a sword hitting the ground. 

~ ~ ~ 

"Okay, Spinel, the Diamonds say they're sorry and they want to see you." Steven said, coming down. "Spinel? Connie?" 

He looked around the room, but didn't find anyone. Did they leave without him?

No. Spinel would not leave without clarifying it with him. Something happened. 

Steven rushed back up. 

"I'll call you back. I think I just lost Spinel." 

"Again?" Gasped Blue. 

"Steven," White tried to say quickly, "I think you could use-" 

Steven ended the call before he heard the rest of it. 

He rushed out, with very little idea as to where to look for her, and an understanding that he could not just sit and wait now. 

"Lion!" He called out. 

First thing first, he'll go find Connie. 

~ ~ ~ 

Silence. Dead silence filled the place they were at. It smelled of a rotting… everything. Rotting plants, rotting place, rotting hopes. 

"Is that really?.." 

"Their Garden, yeah." Jasper made her way through. "A playground designed for… my Diamond." 

"It feels sort of… dead in here." 

"It doesn't matter, it'll be fine. Hand her over." 

Jasper reached her hand, and hesitantly, Connie handed her the heart shaped gem. 

The place did seem pretty dead and wilted. Connie didn't like a single second spent there, yet she tried to imagine standing there for 6000 years - alone, quietly, moveless…

She walked, looking around, until she found two footprints in the ground. There were some ripped vines next to it. Did they… grow around Spinel's legs? The human girl tried to imagine… 

She slowly walked backwards from the sight, covering her mouth in fear, until she bumped with her back into Jasper. 

"Watch it." 

"Let's get out of here quicker." 

"You can go, I gotta wait here." 

"I can't activate the warp pad. You're gonna have to take me out of here. Or what, do you want me to be with you two here?" 

"Ugh, fiiine, I'll-" 

Before she finished the sentence, the gem in her hand lit up and floated up, the heart shape turning upside down. 

Connie fell back over, in fear. 

"Here she comes!" Jasper took out the weapon she prepared just for the occasion. She held it up, ready to strike. 

Spinel reformed and jumped down, seeing Connie before she saw anything else. 

"You!!!" She screamed, ready to unhinge herself, but her eyes darted around. 

No, she couldn't be here, no… 

While she froze up, Jasper stroke - the sharp blade of the rejuvenator cutting through her body in one swift stroke. 

"Ah-" 

And she poofed away again. 

Connie crawled back, when her gem fell to the ground once again. 

"Let me go home…" she was starting to cry. 

"Fine, fine, but quickly, she'll reform soon. Now, remember, you saw nothing." 

Jasper went there and back, teleporting Connie away. 

Once back and alone at the Galaxy warp room in Steven's house, Connie curled up and started to cry. 

This felt wrong now. 

~ ~ ~ 

Jasper sat next to the poofed gem, contemplating. Maybe this was rude, maybe this was wrong - but Jasper wasn't the one to care. She saw what she wanted and went for it. She really could not care less for whatever would happen next between the two puny humans. All she cared about was what she wanted. And she wanted to feel good. 

She felt good with Lapis. Lapis was strong, and she liked to take her anger out on her inside their fusion mind space. In her turn, the Jasper loved to absorb it, to be constantly brawled and pushed back, just so she could feel the thrill of fighting back and winning. Or not winning. Both felt good. 

And she loved to be a hunter. She hunted Spinel, and now here she was… 

Jasper took her gem into her hands. She seemed so… fragile. She could probably shatter the gem with her bare hand. Yet once she'll reform - she'll be the one kicking her ass, and she'd be with her all the time…

Whether she wanted it or not.  

Finally, the gem lit up and floated up, this time staying in the position of the upright heart. Other limbs appeared and the gem giggled loudly as she landed on her… squeaky shoes? 

Spinel stopped shining, her appearance becoming clear and… cute. 

Cute? 

It was clear as day. Spinel was baby. 

Jasper blinked twice, then rubbed her eyes for clarity. 

The cute little Spinel looked around, smiling wide. 

"Where's my best friend?" She asked, giggling. 

"Uh… I'm your best friend." 

"Hehehe, no you're not." 

Spinel extended her hand towards her face - 'Oh yes hit me baby-' - and booped her nose gem gently, saying "Boop!" outloud. 

"My best friend is Pink Diamond!" She smiled, looking around happily. She put her hand over her eyes, like she was shielding from the sun.

Then she frowned slightly, and spoke in a sadder tone, holding her hands together. 

"Hmm, why is it… so dark here? Pink likes it when it's bright… and pink…" she looked down, her eyes starting to dart around. 

"Where's Pink?" She asked, growing worried. 

"I, uh- Don't you recognize me? I'm… Pink. I changed my shape." 

"No you're not, you're a Jasper." She whined. 

"How dare, I mean, no! I am Pink, your Diamond.. I'm just being really, really good at play pretending." 

"Really?" Baby Spinel rubbed her eyes, "Are you really really Pink? I don't feel like you're Pink." 

"Yeah, I'm… really good at this. Hey, why don't we… play?" 

"Play? I wanna play games…" 

"Yeah, let's play brawl!"  

“What’s that?” She blinked innocently. 

Jasper glared at her. Something was… up with her. And what was that style? 

“Yeah, it’s when we fight each other! Come on, hit me with your best!” 

“Okie dokie lokie!” 

Spinel spun her fist around, and hit Jasper with all her strength. Or well, booped Jasper. Softly. And made a squeaky toy noise at that. 

Jasper covered her face. Something was wrong. 

“Did I do wrong?” The little baby before her asked. “I never played it before. We usually play…” 

She looked around. Everything was dead around. Spinel walked through the wilted garden further, until she came across two footprints in the ground, and some broken vines splattered around. She reached her hand and picked some up. 

Those things sent shivers down her spine. Suddenly, she didn’t feel all that good. 

“Spinel?” 

She started breathing rapidly, faster every second. The Garden slowly drained of all the light, everything turning black and rotting away, becoming the dust, drifting away… Drifting away… 

She was drifting away. Pink was in the distance, drifting away. Spinel took off and ran after her, 

“Pink! Wait for me! What did I do wrong?!” 

But no matter how fast she ran - Pink slowly walked farther and farther, eventually disappearing in the dark. 

“Pink!” Spinel cried, sitting down on the ground, defeated and reaching her hand out. “What did I do wrong? Come back, I’ll play better…” 

“There’s no one there.” Jasper said, approaching her from behind. “What’s wrong with you?” 

She reached her hand towards the little gem on the ground - but instead of hitting her hand away, Spinel only leaned away, scared for her life. 

“Don’t touch me! You’re not her!” She screamed through her tears. 

“Oh, you don’t wan’ me touching you? Well… then stop me!” 

She reached again, grabbing a tight hold on Spinel’s wrist. 

“Let me go! Let me go!!!” She cried louder. “I wanna go home, I wanna go back, I wanna be with… with…” 

She looked up at the gem who raised a hand to hit her. 

The hand landed down - and bounced back from an expanded rubber limb in its way. Spinel pushed Jasper behind. She was crying, and the tears on her face were leaving behind black trails. 

“I want to go home, to… To…” She held onto her head, trying to remember. 

“Pink… No, no, not Pink, but… something pink…” 

“Argh!” Jasper growled, growing frustrated with the little crying baby. “There’s no one to go back to! Pink’s gone!” 

“Gone?!” Spinel fell to her knees. “Then, who’s…” 

She couldn’t remember, but she knew the feeling she was longing for. Someone… soft. Kind. Someone who made her feel… found. 

Her gem lip up, and some items fell out. 

A bunch of tickets, a bunch of donuts, a toy snake, and… 

His spare pink jacket. 

Spinel picked it up, looking at it. Rubbing her hands at the fabric. 

“Organic… jacket.” 

Jasper was done. She didn’t know what was going on, but she hated it. She just wanted one side of Spinel, not the rest of her, not her sadness or trauma - no other facet of her, just one side that appealed to her. 

She ripped the jacket out of her hands and ripped it apart. 

Spinel watched, as the little shreds rained down, like the shards and bits of a poofed pink gem. 

“Steven?” She asked, with a heartbroken voice. 

She didn’t want to lose Steven. That was her strongest memory. 

Her body lit up, as her gem turned upside down, and the hearts in her hair bled out into pigtails, her bunny ears, her sharp and prolonged horns. 

Jasper got worried, looking at that transformation. She was the Spinel that she wanted now, wasn’t she? 

Spinel finished her transformation, and looked up at her, still crying. 

“...”

“...”

“YOU!!!” 

Spinel launched herself up, extending all her limbs out. She landed with a loud thud that cracked the ground below her feet, then grabbed the nearby floating column and launched it at Jasper. The orange gem managed to close her face just in time, letting the stone break on her elbows. 

“Now we’re talkin’ “ She smiled, summoning up her helmet. 

“What is wrong with you, you, you- You rejuvenated me! In here?!” Spinel extended her fists out and launched at Jasper, knocking her off her feet and giving her a good punch in the face. Her helmet broke on the impact. 

“How dared you!” 

“I love it when you’re mad!” Jasper seemingly wasn’t listening to her at all. 

“What is wrong with you!” Spinel punched her into the former communication hub. “Didn’t seem to “love” me a minute ago, you freak!” 

“A minute ago you weren’t mad.” Jasper calmly clarified, getting back up on her feet. 

“I am more than my damn mood!” 

Spinel grabbed her up by the neck and threw at the warp pad, with such a force that it shattered the teleportation device on impact, leaving Jasper scratched and damaged all over. 

Spinel moved in place - and her leg bumped into a forgotten weapon on the ground. She picked it up and activated it. The rejuvenator’s blade sparkled to life. 

“You loved me, huh?” She said grimly, slowly walking towards the orange gem, “Love takes damn more than loving a single feature of a gem. Sometimes it takes putting up with the sides of them that you don’t love all that much.” 

“That’s stupid. Why would I put up with something I dislike?” 

“For the gem you want to be with. To put an effort - love takes effort and time. Love takes willingness to be with them - through good times and bad times.” 

Spinel loomed above Jasper, her stone cold face illuminated by the scythe in her hands. 

“You don’t know anything about love. But I’m glad to see that...” She raised the weapon in her hands up. 

“Wait!” 

“Makes me see that I’m not the worst gem at it after all.”

Spinel impaled Jasper in the middle of her face, and led the blade down, as if she was cutting her open. 

And then Jasper poofed. 

Spinel grabbed her little gem, hid her rejuvenator away, and summoned something else. She planned to use it on the Crystal Gems when she got on Earth for the first time, but she never got to, with Steven poofing her. 

So she got to use it now. It was a gold casing, that clicked open in her hands. She put Jasper’s gem inside of it, and locked it closed. 

Now she would not be able to reform until the casing would be unlocked. 

Spinel hid her gem away, then she slowly walked over and picked up the toy, the tickets, the donuts, and… 

Well, suppose Steven’s jacket was out of question of being a jacket now. Still she picked the pieces up into her gem. She didn’t want to leave anything behind in here. It was his organic jacket… did it mean that it would grow into something, had it been planted? 

Spinel looked around. The garden was dead, but the soil was still in tact. And the ecosystem was… somewhat renewable. If given enough tending and care… this place could be healed back, just like her heart was. 

But it was time to move. She didn’t want to stay a single second longer in this place filled with the worst memories of her existence. 

Spinel turned towards the warp pad. 

It was shattered. 

Chapter Text

"Was it worth it?" Garnet kneeled down next to the crying human child. 

Wiping her tears away, Connie guessed that she already knew of her deeds, and didn't feel a need to question it or hope that she didn't know the whole story. All she felt now was fear and regret. 

"I didn't want this…" She curled up further, trying to make herself small. 

"Then you should have told him about how you felt. With honesty." 

"I did!" 

"Did you now?" 

Garnet sat down, waiting for the realization to kick in. Connie almost replied that she indeed tried to, but then she remembered how her talk about it went with Steven. 

She was rude about it. She never said what did she have a problem with - she just acted mad about it. Tried to blame it on anything that wasn't her, on Spinel. She never even admitted to herself what truly made her mad, and that pushed her to do all of that. 

"I just… didn't want to lose my best friend…" 

Garnet stayed silent, letting her say more. 

"Maybe you're right… I should have told him honestly what bothered me. Instead I… went to make evil schemes. I was just so mad that she just showed up one day and… took all his attention. She took him from me..." 

"Is that so?" 

Silence fell again. More tears swelled on her eyes and rolled down her heated cheeks, as it caught up to her: Steven loved spending his time with Spinel. There was nothing Connie could have done about it, and nothing that she should have. He was happy. And if she really cared about him - why did she ever decide to make it worse for him? 

"This is so stupid…" she mumbled, turning to face the fusion next to her, "Garnet, is it too late to try and fix it?" 

Garnet adjusted her shades. Then she looked to the other side, hiding that she was smiling about something. 

"Everything depends on what do you say now." 

"Huh?" 

A portal opened in the room, and Steven rode in on the lion. As soon as he registered Connie - he jumped down, and rushed at her. For a second Connie thought that this was going to be just like it used to - he'd run to her and hug her and tell her that he was worried about her.  

But instead of hugging her, although Steven did grab her by her hands on the sides - he only shook her back and forth. 

"What have you done to her? Where's Spinel?" 

Connie lost her focus, crying more while he did that. When the boy saw that she wasn't even catching her breath - he stopped. Right, now wasn't the time to be angry. It was time to find Spinel as soon as he could. He could make it better. He skipped helping Spinel to save the Earth before - he could skip helping Connie to save Spinel now. Priorities. 

Connie held her hands together, trying to find the right words, or any words to use now at all. 

"Steven, I'm so sorry. I should have been honest and… I should have just told you how it was. I was…" 

"Yes, I know." Steven crossed his hands on his chest, "Codependent on Spinel, not noticing anyone around…" 

"That's not what I'm saying. Well, it's what I said before, but…" she looked down, "It's not true." 

Steven's expression softened, he awaited what would she say next. 

"I wasn't caring as much about what you had with Spinel - I don't think I ever got any idea of what do you two have."

"Neither did we." Steven whispered to himself, sadly. 

"I just knew that you started spending all your time with her, and none with me."

"I did try to invite you to a movie." 

"Yeah, I know you did… I missed spending time with just you. And I felt like she was pushing me out of your life. I know maybe it wasn't so - okay, yes, it defnitely wasn't so. But that's how I felt!" She held onto her elbow, looking down. "Left behind." 

"Connie…" 

Steven sounded softer. Now that she actually told him what her problem was - he got the idea. She was his friend, and wanted his friendship, not Spinel's friendship that Steven tried to push her way. 

"I'm sorry. I wish I realized how I made you feel sooner."  

"I didn't even try to make myself very clear either." 

The two stood in front of each other quietly. The silence fell, and they both knew it should have been broken with an "I forgive you", but neither felt like they should have said it first. 

"I'm so sorry." Connie spoke first. "I ended up making a lot of mistakes."

"It's... okay." It wasn't. But there was no reason to dig deeper, and she was not the one to hold a grudge against, "We haven't been friends for years to break our friendship over this… misunderstanding." 

He placed a hand on her shoulder, "I forgive you." 

Connie’s chin trembled as she almost started to cry again. She took his hand and moved it away from her shoulder, looking on the verge of tears. Guilt was eating her from inside out. 

"You shouldn't. You have no idea how far I went." 

"Huh?" 

"I... did something horrible. A lot of horrible things." 

This time Steven waited. Garnet, who was still in the room, nudged Connie by the shoulder. 

"I helped Jasper steal Spinel." 

"Oh… Yikes. Well, if we hurry to wherever they are - we might be in time to save Jasper from her." Steven joked, feeling easier as he thought that she was safe and found again. 

Garnet shook her head, smiling. 

"And we rejuvenated her." 

"What?!" 

This time the boy held onto his head, his security for her ripping in shreds before him. 

"I didn't want to, but she threatened me. It- it was going to be just a few attempts at breaking you two up, but then…"

"What? Connie, what the hell?"

"But then she threatened me and-" 

"She threatened you how exactly? You've taken on her before, you could defeat her at any time!" 

"No, she threatened to tell you that I set up the whole mall thing and the cake and-"

" Connie… " Deep betrayal, disappointment, and sudden embarrassment all together were visible on Steven’s face at once, although they quickly made way for the anger.  

"I'd lose you if she told you!" 

"And you think you'll have me now?!" Steven screamed before he thought on those words, stomping his foot at her. 

He wanted to be mad, right now he just wanted to be mad, with no forgiveness in sight in his heart. He could almost relate to Spinel's anger when he first met her.  

But somewhere deep, very deep inside - he knew it wouldn't be the thing that their friendship wouldn't work through. 

"Just tell me where they are. Connie, please." He said, covering his face. 

'That could have played out better', thought Garnet. 

"I'm sorry. I… they're in the garden. Steven-" 

He pushed her aside, walking up on the galaxy warp. 

But it didn't activate. 

"Huh? Garnet, why isn't it working, are my powers off again?" 

"Your powers are fine. The Garden is closed off."

"What? But then they could be anywhere! We have to find them. How in a world…" 

"Steven-"

"Not now Connie." 

"But I might know where they are, or someone who knows where they are. I want to help now, I promise." 

"Then tell us. Tell us who knows where they are!"

"Jasper mentioned an Aquamarine on Homeworld getting her a rejuvenator. That might be a clue." 

"Then let's go to Homeworld, quick." 

"Get Amethyst and Pearl." Garnet told Connie, before she joined Steven on the warp pad. 

After they warped away, Connie still stood in the room for a while, silently looking at an empty warp pad. She reached her hand, when there was no one to reach it for. 

Was she going to lose him forever? 

In her mind she was starting to believe she deserved it. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Pink?" 

Steven turned around, reacting with curiosity as to who could have been referred to as Pink. 

Pink Pearl stood behind him, looking concerned. Right. She was still… half way there on accepting that Pink was gone. 

"Just Steven. Sorry, Pip." Steven said, as if it was his fault that she was gone. 

He didn't think that was so, but he did feel sorry for her, just like for any of "Pink's lost treasures". 

She looked down. As if there could have been a different reply. Yet every day she… hoped for it. 

"Where is Spinel?" Pip asked.  

"That's what I want to know."

"You've lost her again?" 

"She got stolen… but I'm looking for her. I'll find her again."

"Maybe you should look in your Garden." 

"Mom's Garden, Pip. And… I don't think she's there. It's blocked off." 

"Steven!" Garnet called over, as the Diamonds entered the room. 

By that time, Pearl, Amethyst, and Connie caught up. 

"Blue. Yellow. White. We've lost Spinel again." 

"How did it happen?" Cried Blue, putting her hands to her mouth in worry. 

"It's…" Steven glanced back at Connie, "We're not sure. But it might have to do with the war gems." 

"Steven, I think you should-" Started White. 

"War gems?" Gasped Yellow, interrupting her. 

"Yes, those gems who aren't happy that the war and colonization ended. Like Aquamarine, Emerald, Eyeball…"

"Steven. You really should-" White started again. 

"What “eyeball”?" Blue raised an eyebrow. 

"Oh, it's a Ruby with a gem on her eye. She used to… dislike me. Pretty much like everyone back then." 

"Steven. Can you just-" White attempted again, slowly growing furious. 

"We'll shatter… I mean, we'll get her for it!" Yellow closed her fists. 

"No! Don't shatter or hurt anyone for disliking me! There's nothing wrong with it, it's not like they attack me. … And even when they attack me - it's usually a misunderstanding. Come on, that's exactly how Spinel got on Earth! And now she's my friend, and she’s…" he almost said she was gone, "She's… lost again. And I have no idea where to look for her, the garden is blocked off, Jasper is gone, Aquamarine isn't here, my best friend turned against me, my, my…" 

Steven trailed off topic in his frantic worry, his breathing becoming faster. 

The Crystal Gems in the room rushed to try and calm him down. 

White was done. White looked done, and she was very much done. She shined up - almost blinding everyone in the room - and changed her shape. Or rather just the size, as she shrunk down to about an Opal's size, and walked closer to Steven. The Crystal gems stepped back, Pearl being the last one to retreat, as White sat down on the floor next to the boy, and reached a hand that she placed on his forehead. 

Steven's breathing slowly evened, and he lowered the hands that he was gripping his hair with a minute ago, now looking up at her a little more calm. 

"Steven. You can check where she is. You have the power to it." She finally finished her sentence. Now that she was whispering softly - he heard her better. "I don't know how you keep forgetting - we try to visit you in your dreams any time you sleep here, how do you even let that fly out of your head?"

Steven blinked at her, astonished. He wasn't used to this somewhat maternal side of her yet. He probably never would be. 

White shined again, returning to her natural size. 

"Right, I can just… check on her. Right. Thank you White. Sorry." 

She only smiled in reply and nodded. 

Steven sat down, crossing his legs and putting his hands together, as if he was about to meditate. He got a much better grip on this power of his over the years. Now he didn't need to sleep for it to work - only needed to concentrate, concentrate, and… 

Wake up! 

Spinel shot up from his place. He looked around, warily. 

The Garden. He was in the Garden. 

Spinel looked down on his arms. Those rubber arms stretched and made balloon noises. 

"Is that how she feels all the time?" 

So he was in the Garden. 

Whole. 

Safe. 

Good. 

No longer rejuvenated. Or not rejuvenated yet. 

But he was safe is the thing. 

Why wasn't he teleporting away? 

Spinel looked at the warp pad, or rather what was left of it. 

Oh. 

It was shattered.

Well, that explains it. 

So they would have to get there by other means, alright. They can do that. 

He probably should have left her a note. So she would know he's coming for her. 

But how? 

Spinel didn't read English. 

Steven didn't write Gem language (not all too well yet anyways). 

But he did know how to spell four words. 

Spinel sat down on his knees and started to draw in the soil...

The soil was wet. 

Spinel placed a hand on his cheek - there were recent tears. 

He had to be fast. 

Spinel drew with his hand in the mud - one diamond separated into 4 equal pieces, and drew a line on the top one. 

"Pink Diamond." 

And the second he was done - he realised it may not have been such a great idea to spell out. 

So he drew more, circle, circle, circles, more circles, few lines… 

He wasn't a professional artist yet. But he could draw his own face decently. 

Done with it, it looked pretty decent. 

Spinel smiled softly. 

"Hold on tight. We're coming." He whispered to himself.

The he collapsed down… 

Steven shot up. 

"I found her. She's in the garden, but the warp pad is broken. Can we get there by others means." 

"We should have the coordinates saved. You can take a ruby ship." 

"I'll drive it." Volunteered Pearl. "I know where it is. I've flown there before, when Pink would…" she mumbled the next part quieter, "Lock the warp to avoid seeing me." 

So it was decided. Steven and Pearl rushed to the warp pad - to the docks area. Connie tried to follow them. 

"Steven?"

"Connie." He cut her off in a firm tone, turning around to face her for a single phrase, "I can't talk to you right now."

He carried out with Pearl. The boy hoped he was clear enough to show Connie that he wasn't trying to cut her out of his life completely, but he couldn't be all buddy-buddy with her right now either. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Rising up, Spinel rubbed the back of her head, with very little idea of what just happened. Did she faint because of a panic attack? 

She looked down, noting something smudged in the wet soil. It resembled the Diamonds insignia, and something resembling Steven's face was nearby. Spinel rubbed the dirt she smeared off her face, still confused. 

Then things slowly flooded back to her. She was stuck, alone, left behind, in the Garden again. The worst place, where most of her existence went by, as she stood silently every day, questioning if she was doing something wrong, or asking herself if she already did something irreparable, and that's why Pink left. She didn't feel the same now, but it didn't stop her from worrying. 

It was all coming back. Spinel crossed her hands and held herself, whispering through her sobbing,  

"Stop, don't fall, don't fall…" 

The ground was opening up and the vines were inching closer. 

She creamed, trying to fend it off. 

Then her eyes shot wide open, as something occurred to her. A minute ago she was fighting Jasper. And when she did that… she wasn't thinking of the fact that she was in the Garden, and hence wasn't having a panic attack. 

With immense effort, Spinel willed herself to even her breathing. It didn't quite work, but it stopped getting worse. Good. That was progress. The tiniest bits were a viable progress. 

"It's alriiight, I don't have to… feel this way…" she spoke to herself. 

It wasn't convincing enough. But she didn't give up. 

"I wasn't crying a minute ago. I wasn't thinking of it. I wasn't registering that I was here…" 

She looked around. Alright, so be it that it was the Garden. Awful place. But she was herself - her new self. She was crying, sure, but she was strong and safe. 

Alone… 

But safe. In tact. Not damaged. 

So there was hope. Or rather, a technical possibility for her to be saved. 

Steven found her here once. He would do that again.  

Steven… 

Her breathing unbalanced again. She held herself tighter. 

"No, no… it's alright… I can do this... I should just… stop focusing on the things that make me feel this way…" 

It wasn't working. 

"No… no, that's wrong. That's not "just". It's more than that. I have problems. They are not going to be solved or fixed in one day…" she took a deep breath, which she hiccuped during, and mentally willed herself to say the right thing. 

"And that's okay. ...Healing is never easy. But however long it will take… however long… I'll get there." 

She hissed, shaking in her own hold. 

"I'll get there!" She cried, saying it louder and louder. 

"I'll get there! Eventually! I'll be fine, I'll be stronger! I'll feel found! I'll get there, I'll get there someday! For Steven! ...For me!!" 

She let her arms go, and hit the ground, letting a surge of her energy out. 

"I'll get there!!!"

The phrase exploded out of her, leaving her feeling like her worries became a deflating balloon inside of her, along with her strength. 

Then her breathing started to even out, the hiccups and sobs becoming lesser and lesser. 

"I'm here." She kept going. It felt easier when she was talking. Less focused on everything else. "No matter what, I'm here. I'm safe. I don't have to fight for my life right now. Do I?" 

She glanced around, perfectly aware that she was alone, but humouring herself. 

"Hello? … Hmm. No, just me here. So I'm safe." 

The last bit came out so naturally that she had to double take herself.  

“I’m safe.” 

She sat up, placing her hands on her knees. 

“I’m safe.” 

She got up, stretching (like a human) and wiping her tears. 

“I’m safe…”  

Despite everything that happened up to this point, she managed to make herself smile and laugh ever so faintly. 

“Look at yourself, Spin. Figured it all out, even without Steven leading you like an overcooked gem by the hand into it.” She looked down at her hands, folding them into her fists. “I’m safe. I’ll make sure I’ll always be.”

She glanced around, starting to measure if she could potentially launch herself to any sort of a bypassing alien ship, or repair the communication hub somehow, or find any other way out of here. 

She was not giving up. She was ready for actions. 

“I do miss Steven though. Wish I was with him sooner…” 

And no sooner than she said that, she heard a whirling come from somewhere above. The pink gem got lower, trying to find the source of the noise - and soon enough saw the red ship approaching the Garden. 

She giggled. There she was, found again. 

She stayed in place, watching happily, as the ship landed, and Steven exited it, calling out for her. It didn’t take long before he spotted her in the distance and ran towards her, smiling wide. Spinel opened her arms and caught him when he jumped at her, spinning him around happily. 

Finally she put him down, holding onto him carefully. Steven held her face in his hands. Both of them were laughing, the words “I’ve missed you” and “I was worried” hanged in the air for them. Both knew that was there. Both didn’t even feel the need to say it. When their laughter momentarily subdued, they hugged tightly, Spinel let her hands come a few loops around Steven. She couldn’t wait to tell him how well she did, but on another hand she really wouldn’t mind if their embrace lasted for 6000 more years. 

She felt warm from the inside, without even kissing him - just from his presence. 

And Steven… he finally realized he had something to tell her. After losing her twice - he finally knew why he could never find peace if he didn’t know that she was alright. Even if she was away from him - he just always wanted to know that she was safe and was doing well and was happy, and he wanted to tell her… 

There was a single four letter word for this feeling. 

His eyes were shining with happiness. 

“Spinel… I want to tell you…”

“I missed you too, Steven.” She smiled back. That’s what he’s after, the smile on her face, the sound of her laughter, “Hehehe, I knew you would find me. I believed.”

“I did. And… oh, did you see my message?” 

“Huh?” 

“I drew for you in the dirt.” 

“You did… How’d?... Oh, you mean that. Well, I did have my eyes on it, you could say…” 

Spinel looked to the side, giggling. 

“Huh?”

“I kinda smeared it with my face.” She laughed, looking at him softly. 

He laughed back, not even in the slightest caring that her hands were coiled around him like a snake. He already loved it. 

“I’ll help you wash your face when we’re back home… and then I’ll cuff myself to you so you’re not going anywhere anymore!” He laughed. 

“Hehehe, I’ll be fine with that.” Spinel joked back, not really joking about it. “Ah. I missed you.”

“I missed you too.” 

 

Pearl watched the two from a distance. She hugged herself, then wiped a single tear that ran down her cheek and to her trembling chin. She slowly retreated back to the ship. 

 

Steven remembered what he meant to tell her. Right. It was time. He would be the one to do it. And he would hope for the best. 

“Spinel.”

“Yes?” 

“Could you uncoil - for a minute, I just need to do something. I won’t let your hand go.” 

She trusted him, reeling her arms back. When he was free again, he sat down on one knee before her, reaching to hold her hand, like he had done before. 

“Hehe, Steven, what are you doing?”

“Spinel, I really want to tell you. I’ve thought about it - about it all, about you, about us - for a long time now. I think I finally figured it out. I…” He blushed, “Spinel, I lo-” 

 

A sudden gust of wind interrupted their moment, and drowned out Steven’s last words.

The two stood up and looked to the sky, seeing the spaceship that Steven just got there on - take off and fly away, leaving the two behind. 

Trapped in the Garden again.  

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The ship landed back on Earth, right next to the temple house. Pearl exited it and stormed off, towards the temple, wiping her tears away as she was mad. 

“Why’d you do that?” Garnet asked, seemingly appearing behind her out of nowhere. 

She looked at Garnet for a second, but turned away fast, raising her shoulders up. Pearl couldn’t reply, couldn’t admit it to Garnet, or to herself. 

Garnet came closer, and the pearl expected that she’d tug her to go back and retrieve the two up. But instead the fusion hugger her tightly. 

“I get it.” She said. 

Pearl wasn’t moving, shocked. The given comfort slowly started to spread through her, softening her. She lowered her head on Garnet’s shoulder and hugged back. 

“It’s just that…” Pearl began, “He grew up so fast. I guess I… thought I would always be responsible for him. Not because of his gem. Because of me.” 

She leaned back to look Garnet in the eyes, 

“Because I chose to raise him and love him like a son, on my own, I chose to be there for him… even though not at first. But it grew to be my choice. And then…” 

She stepped back, clenching her fists. 

“And then one day Pink’s lost toy came over and…” 

“Stole him.” 

“No, goodness, of course she didn’t!”

“But you feel like she did.” 

“Ugh!” Pearl covered her face. 

“I understand. Steven has been a son to all three of us.” She stepped closer, placing a hand on Pearl’s shoulder, “But he’s grown up. He’s got more than us in his life now. It’s time to let him go.” 

Pearl hesitated to accept that. That would make it a second pink diamond who’d toss her aside as he’d grow out of needing the role she played in his life. 

“He won’t ever toss you aside or forget you. He’ll never stop loving any of us. And you know it.” Came reassuringly. 

Birds flew above the two, voicing their calls and heading towards the ocean, seemingly following the setting sun as it gently let the night cover the land with her soft blanket of darkness. Here on the beach, the little pearl finally faced that a child she raised had grown up, ready to spread his wings and fly out of their family nest. 

But just like Garnet said, he’d never forget his home. He’d always have a special place in his heart for all of them. That’s the Steven that they raised. A pink diamond that cared about others. 

Pearl wiped her tears away, smiling. 

“You’re right. Let’s go get them back.” 

“Get whom back?” Amethyst asked, approaching the two, with her hands behind her head.  

“I left Steven and Spinel trapped in the Garden with a broken warp pad.” Pearl shrugged easily. 

“Haha cool beans- wait you WHAT ?!”

Chapter Text

“They must be here, right? Pi, I can’t believe you’d do that!” 

“It’s in the past now. We’re here to pick them up safely.”

“Thank you Garnet, at least someone in here knows when not to hold grudges. … After all, I wasn't going to leave them here forever. I'd come pick them up later.” Pearl glared at Amethyst. 

Amethyst glared back, puffing her cheeks to show that she was “offended”. Then she stuck her tongue out, laughing. 

“Haha, bet you just gave them even more alone together time. Wonder what they did while we were gone.” 

The ship that the three piloted finally landed back in the Garden. But Steven and Spinel were not in sight. 

Instead, something heavy seemingly jumped onto the ship from above, and by the sound of it - crawled towards the opening entrance. 

The Crystal Gems retrieved their weapons and pointed them at the entrance, ready to strike… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The ship took off, and the two stayed behind. 

“Pearl!?” Steven fell to his knees, gripping the ground and looking up at the disappearing ship. 

“Well, that’s a tad out of her usual self.” Spinel said, coming closer to him with her hands behind her back. 

“Why’d she do that, oh my gosh, doesn’t she know that…? Of course she knows, why would she...” Steven grabbed onto his head. 

“Knows what?” 

“I- I’m not like the normal gems, I can’t survive in space for a long time.” 

“We’re not really in space.” 

“But we’re away from any… things for humans, and who knows when will she be coming back? What if she won’t be coming back? What if, what if…?”

Spinel had to take a double take. Could it be that this time Steven was… panicking? 

She sat down next to him, deep in her own thoughts. Watching, as the boy tug on his hair and mumbled something beyond comprehension. This time it was his breathing that grew rapid and ragged, as he was struggling to keep himself together. 

"She's never coming back, she's never coming back…" he kept repeating. 

That wasn't true. That couldn't be further from truth. Spinel scratched her head, her previously lowered pigtails raising up one by one in curiosity. Steven's fears were so irrational - is that what panic looked like on the side? Is that what Spinel looked like when she had hers? 

Surprised. Watching someone have a panic attack wasn't as embarrassing as she thought it was when she had her own. Sometimes she worried about the way people thought of her when they'd witness her have one of those, especially Steven. She imagined that people thought she was "cringy" to look at, even though no one used that word by its true meaning anymore. That she was ridiculous, maybe. 

And truly, now looking at it from the side view, she could see that the things Steven worried about - weren't real, ridiculously weren't real. But… it didn't make her judge him. Nothing could never. It made her want to help him and… 

Huh. 

What was that feeling? She wanted to bring him closer and to hold him and calm him down… but it was him who usually did that to her? What was that feeling? 

Spinel's eyes darted around, as she tried to comprehend the ideas and desires that suddenly appeared in her, and only grew stronger. 

Was it just her being loyal to a pink diamond? Her desire to serve and make happy? No, it wasn't that. She wanted to do something drastically different. 

Something drastically different from her whole life. She wanted to hold him and tell him that he was going to be okay, and she would make sure it would stay that way. She wanted to… 

Protect. 

Suddenly it all clicked together. Her hair straightened out and shortened, as she thought... 

Back when they did what Steven asked her to forget. He put her in charge, he let her be the stronger one and lead things. 

And she loved it.  

It was like in her rage, but no one hated her for it when she set down the rules of the games to play and won them in her own way. 

Spinel smiled, looking past crying Steven. 

Of course. Now it all made sense. That's what she wanted to do. That's what she would do to finally break free of everything that tried to take control over her and hold her up to certain expectations… 

She would be Protective.

She will stand strong for what she wants: For Steven in her life, for her mental health, and for her right to make decisions and set her own boundaries of comfort.

She looked at Steven, that weak poor crying child before her. 

She would protect him. And she would treat him better. She would keep him her own, and no one will ever take him from her. And she will keep him safe. Her own, and safe . Forever. 

And everything will be just perfect. 

Her eyes turned into familiar spirals at the thoughts of it all. 

"Steven." She said ever so softly, reaching her hand towards him. 

She held it in his field of vision until he registered her presence. Then she extended it further, placing her hand over his own and letting her fingers make their ways between his own. She hooked his palm and slowly made it unclench his hair and move down. She did the same with the other one. 

"Steven. We'll be fine. I promise to you." She spoke in a whisper, moving both of his hands into her own, and reaching to rustle his hair, ever so softly. She pet his head, letting her hand's path start at the top of his forehead, travel down the back of his head, and down his spine before she circled back. 

“How- how can you know?” He asked, weakly. 

“I may not know how. But we will be okay. I will make sure you’ll be okay. You need food, right? Lookie.” 

She summoned up one of her stored donuts. 

“There. This buys us some time, yes?” She reached it for him. 

Somehow, in this situation, the sight of this stored pastry made Steven feel… easier. For the weirdest of reasons. Not just because he thought it was his salvation, but because… she was just so in time with it. 

Spinel was just there with him, and somewhere deep inside he knew he was having irrational fears about their situation. And suddenly she made it better. With no judgement or looking down at him. Just with care.  

He took her offering with both his hands carefully. 

“There you go” She patted his cheek, “See? I’ve got this.” 

She brought him closer. Her limbs extended out - she was taller than him once again, almost cradling him into her hold, as her hands coiled around his back. Shielding him. 

“And I’ve got you. I’ll keep you safe and sound.” 

It was now that Steven noted that her eyes had spiral shapes again. But other than that - she seemed normal. Well, this-Spinel-normal. She was calm. Strong. Determined. So he didn’t give it a second guess, biting into her comfort food. It was sweet... 

Actually, he probably should have saved it. 

He sat up and reached it for her to deposit back, as she did, uncoiling her hands back. It was pretty romantic that she quite literally kept things that reminded her of Steven inside of her heart. Did she know about the symbolism of it, he wondered. 

“Thanks Spinel. You’re right. We can’t give up now.” He rubbed the back of his neck, looking shy, “I don’t know what’s gotten into me, I just… had a down moment.” 

“Hey, that’s fine. That’s all that I’ve been doing for past days.” She smiled at him. “But I’m better now.” 

“Really?” 

“Yeah, I was meaning to tell you. Just before you came here - I handled a panic attack all on my own. I stopped it.” 

“Really?” He gasped, putting his hands to his face. His eyes gained star shapes inside of them, “Spinel, that’s so amazing!” 

“I know. So I think I’ve got this figured out. Well, not all at once and forever… but I feel like I have a better grip on myself now. I know it's possible now...” She reached for his hand. “I won’t break easily again.” 

Steven leaned closer to her, letting their foreheads touch carefully, while both closed their eyes, content together again. 

"That's a good plan. Just… don't be sad if it…"

"Won't work out as well as I expect it. I know. I have a lot to work on. Of course there will be more falls… but I'll face them, and come out alive. For you." 

They haven't parted hands. And each could feel the other's breathing so close by, Steven's one was warmer. He actually had lungs. 

It was that special comfort that they shared. Only two of them. There was a sense of security when they laughed over things together, taking everything easy and not always knowing what to do to make it right. But moments like those - when both were high on sentimentality and could simply look at each other lovingly for hours - is what made them know that there was more to their connection, than just a strong friendship.  

I always thought I might be bad

Now I'm sure that it's true

“I’m not afraid to fall if you’ll be by my side.” 

“You can count on me to catch you, always. 

'cause I think you're so good

And I'm nothing like you

“And you can count on me to go through any weather with you.” 

“And you should know that I’ll always be on your side.” 

Look at you go

I just adore you

I wish that I knew

“I love you, Steven.” 

What makes you think I'm so special.

Steven forgot how to breath for a second. Despite being ready to tell her the same words a minute ago - he didn’t expect that she’d not only reply positively, but voice them first. He only blushed as she spoke on. 

“It’s been on my mind for a while now. And I… get if you tell me that I’m not... “ Not good enough, “Not healed enough to “be in love” with you - or anyone - yet. But… that’s what I feel about you. That’s how you make me feel.” She took his hand into her hold. “You make me feel calm and give me a sense of having a place where I belong. Like having home. And when it gets rough on me - you’re the one pulling me out of the grasp of all the problems I’m facing. You never let me drown…” 

Then something changed, like a click of a switch. She let go of his hand, quickly. Her hair went down. 

“What am I saying? I, I don’t want to make it sound like I, like I- It’s not because of the things you do for me. It’s because of you. Because I always want to see you happy and- and make you happy if I can. By my own decision, not because... I just- I just-” 

She felt like she was spiraling. Did she rush it? Did she ruin it? Was it too soon? Was she not good enough, has she not worked through enough yet to be with him? 

Was she not good enough? 

“I get it.” Steven reached out, waiting for her give him her hand back. Reluctantly, and scared, she let him hold it again. “It is called love. And… I was going to tell you... That I love you too.” 

“...Are you joking?” Was he pitying her? 

“No, I’m not joking. Spinel, that’s what I’ve realised too, over time. When I watched you smile and it made me feel warm inside. I don’t think anything wrong of it, really. I…” 

Why was he blushing, why was he shy, she just told him the same thing. 

“I want to be with you too.” 

Too? Was he sure that she wanted to be with him? 

“But Steven… I’m not good enough.” Somehow Spinel willed herself to voice her worst concern, rather than say “yes” and never tell Steven that it would slowly rot her from inside each day as one of her endless doubts. 

“There’s no “good enough.” We’re both imperfect. No one is really perfect all the way, or always makes the right decisions… But I don’t think you’re bad at all. And- and maybe I’m the one making a mistake here, maybe you’re really not… in the best place to be dating right now.” 

“I don’t think I am either.”

“But I do want to be with you.”

“I want to be with you too.” 

  And nothing else had to be said. They knew it wasn’t perfect. They knew it as rushed. They knew it was sloppy and awkward like a first kiss or a child’s first steps. They knew there was more to it, and yet it was so simple. Love was in the air and between the two. That pure, devine feeling of wanting to see each other smiling and laughing, of wanting to hold hands and never let go, and tell each other of everything they ever knew. 

Steven leaned closer first, waiting for a reaction. Spinel approved of what he went for, and leaned forth to accept a kiss from him. This strange human thing that she has grown to love as it made her feel all tingly and warm inside. 

And it made her feel warm now. And it made Steven feel warm. At that moment, both of them felt an immense amount of trust for each other, and… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The mysterious thing crawled on top of the ruby ship, inching closer to the opening entrance of it. 

The Crystal Gems summoner their weapons, ready to fight whatever came their way and probably took away the two they came here to retrieve. 

Something appeared from above the entrance in a flash- 

"Surprise! Ahaha!" 

A friendly face looked at then upside down, holding onto the ship as it giggled with its sudden appearance. Then the person it belonged to jumped up, did a flip and landed in front of the ship, straightening up just to bounce up and down happily. 

The Gems held their weapon down momentarily, approaching closer. 

The thing before them looked like a gem. It had curly magenta hair. It was about the size of a garnet. Pinkish hands popped out of a two parted velvet body, blue jeansed legs kept it up, and two pairs of eyes stared at the gems happily. 

"Hi! Hello, hi! I'm so excited to meet you!" The unknown gem giggled, then used its rubber limbs to move next to each gem as it spoke. 

"You must be Amethyst, the cute little rascal, so fun to have around!" They rustled her hair, jumping off,

"You must be Garnet, a walking symbol of true kinda love!" they posed, making a heart shape with their hands and pointing at her proudly, 

"And Pearl. The mom, the legend, the bird. The one who's grown so much! Go you!" 

The gem run its hands around her to bring her closer for a hug, quickly making the other two join in, then it laughed more as it stood before them, hands uncoiled and swinging around happily, as they swayed in place. 

"It can't be…" Pearl said, finally looking closer and noticing two gems on the front of the stranger's body. There were two gems. A pink diamond and a spinel. 

"But it can be, and it is!" The fusion threw its hands up in the air happily, "I'm Pink Calcite, your new best friend and mental support! And I hope you stay hydrated and remember to sit straight if you gotta!"

"We don't need to drink…" Glared Pearl. 

"And we ain't sitting." Frowned Amethyst. 

"No, but they might be." Pink Calcite winked, looking in the direction you've imagined seeing them from. 

"I like this gem." Garnet smiled, putting her hands on her hips. "Now that's an experience." 

"Yay! I'm an experience! That's so about me! Ooh, can you tell me more about me? You're so amazing!" 

Calcite bounced up and down with a wide smile on their face, giggling occasionally. They were so excited. Excited to exist, to feel loved from somewhere within and just happy to be. They held their hands together - somehow it made them feel even better. As if they were holding someone special. They just wanted to sing and dance - sing and dance about helping others and being kind. 

"I see you being excited to come home with us, and looking around the house." 

"A house!? Wowie! I've never seen a house." 

"And I see…" A frown painted her face momentarily, as Garnet glanced at Amethyst. But she said nothing about it. "And I see you being happy." 

"That's so true, I am happy! Soooooo what's a house? Can you eat it? I'd love to eat donuts… are there donut houses? The ones that taste like house?"

"There sure are the ones that taste like home." 

"I heard that, Spinel." 

"Hehehe, let's go, let's go!" 

Pink Calcite sang on their way to the ship, talking all about the qualities and growth that they loved about the gems and were so proud of them for. It was nice for the first 14 and a half minutes. 

"This one is nothing like Stevonnie." Garnet told Pearl while the fusion listed to Amethyst all the fun games that can be played in a garden. 

"How so? They both have good amounts of limbs." 

"But they're not the same. Stevonnie was the experience of two kids having fun. But Pink Calcite is the fusion of love and cherishment." 

"You can tell that just by looking at them once?" 

"I can tell that by the way they look at themselves. Just look for yourself." 

Pearl watched. Every so often, Calcite hold their own hands, or pet their own hair, or would seemingly giggle and be happy about… existing. They radiated happiness in every inch. A sweet little lollipop rock. 

One thing certain about Pink Calcite - they really couldn't stand idly in place. As soon as the ship landed at home - they shot out of the ship and rolled over to the beach house, gasping and holding their hands in adoration, sticking one leg up behind. 

"A brand new place to play!" They laughed, entering and stretching around inside the building to look at everything at once. Both pairs of eyes darted in different directions. They inspected the whole lower room, even shapeshifting their size to see behind the shelves and other previously hardly accessible locations. 

Then finally they settled next to the other Crystal Gems. 

"I love it so much in here! We're going to have so much fun together, I can't wait to explore and play games and cheer and be happy and sing and dance and-" 

The gems suddenly turned their body around, while their legs kept facing the other way, hearing someone open the door. 

"A new friend! Hello! I'm-"

They froze. 

Standing at the entrance, Connie froze as well, trying to understand if she was seeing what she thought she was seeing at first glance. Was that…? 

The perpetually happy expression on the fusion's face was replaced by shock, fear, and anger in the matter of seconds. And then it poofed, sending two smaller gems flying in different directions and landing on the floor. 

Spinel got up first, rubbing her head and getting her fists up and ready to strike. But before she could get at Connie - Steven got in her way, reaching his hands out to stop her in her track. 

"Get out of my way." 

"I know what you're thinking, Spinel. But I want you to hear a few things before you do anything. Don't hurt Connie, she's my friend!" 

" Don't tell me what to do, Steven Universe. "

She said through her gritted teeth. 

Steven was taken aback by that tone, but didn't find it to be a matter for a worry. Yet instead of opposing, he strangely chose to submit to her will. 

He lowered his hands, looking as if he was asking for a hug now, rather than blocking her off, although he still stood in a way to block Spinel from advancing. 

"I'm not trying to tell you what to do. I'm asking you - please don't hurt my friend. That will make me upset." 

"How can you call her - your friend, after all that she's put me through?!" Spinel roared with rising intensity. 

Connie wondered that too. Steven didn't want to talk to her at all - why was he shielding her now? Didn't he think she deserves it? She sure thought so.

"She was confused with her feelings and made a lot of mistakes because of that." 

"That's not cutting it for me." 

"Spinel. I'm asking you. Listen to me." He almost begged, although he could have stomped his feet and raise his voice instead. "Just hear her out, and you can chose to hate her if you want. But please don't hurt her. Don't make mistakes you won't be able to fix." 

The fists that shook in the air a moment ago slowly deflated back down to normal palms, as Spinel lowered her hands and spiked hair. 

"Alright. Just for you." She whispered, taking a calm step towards the human girl. 

"Spinel? I don't even know where to begin…" 

"Not here."

"Huh?"

"Don't begin here, Connie." Spinel explained, going up the stairs, "I want to have a more… private talk with you."

Steven put his hands at his hips at her, but Spinel merely shrugged, replying, "I'll be fine, and no one will get hurt this time." 

"True." Confirmed Garnet. 

Connie followed her, feeling as if something about Spinel was off, but she couldn't put her finger on it. They passed by Steven's room, and Spinel took her all the way to the last flight of the open stairs, with a view of a seemingly endless ocean. It was getting dark. 

She turned around, finally showing her what was off exactly - her eyes were spiraled again, and that accompanied by the enlarged and sticking up hair - wasn't a good combination. But Connie didn't read Spinel like Steven did, so she didn't know it all.

Taking in a deep breath and gathering her thoughts, Connie started… 

"Spinel. I'm so sorry. I did a lot of things wrong to you and I understand that I can't even hope for your forgiveness. I just want you to know how deeply I regret-"

"I don't give a fuck." 

The human looked at her, startled. 

"I don't. Give. A fuck." Spinel repeated the line that she had picked up from Amethyst earlier, now slower in case Connie didn’t get it the first time. Her shoulder spikes raised up as her fists clenched. She was speaking lowly, in a slow whisper, 

"You pushed me over for the last time, Connie Maheswaran." 

Before the girl could react - Spinel grabbed her face with her palm, tying her fingers around the whole head and covering Connie's mouth with the solid part. Then she whipped her hand towards the ocean - off the stairs - and fixated it in place, holding Connie above the lethal height pit by her head alone. The girl had to hold onto Spinel's hand for any sort of support, and a horrible realisation that she could not scream for help downed on her. 

"You know, back in Garden I kept myself together fueled by a single desire - to drop you off the height like that and see you splatter on the ground into a little puddle of blood and broken bones. And I would do so…"

She let her hand loose, while still keeping her palm in place - letting Connie fall the whole distance down. She was screaming through the gag, but it was muffled out from being heard by anyone. Just before she hid the ground - Spinel's arm came to motion again and coiled around her body, saving her and quickly reeling her back up to hang in front of Spinel again, still with no stairs below her feet. 

"But Steven would be too saddened by your death for my liking. And I plan to be happy with him… So I will make do with you telling him that drowned by your guilt, you no longer want to be friends with him, or me, ever again."

She inched the girl closer, whispering even quieter, "And if I continue to see you around him - no one will find your bones when I'm done with you.

Connie was beyond terrified for her life, a chill ran down her spine as a single thought flashed in her mind, 

' I pushed her to this. '

She tried to motion nodding, although it was hard with her head kept in place. But Spinel noted it. She came few steps lower and threw Connie over at Steven's bed, letting her head go finally and reeling her hand back in place. 

Connie coughed, catching her breath. 

"Is everything alright, you guys?!" Came in a shout from the floor below.

"Everything's alright, Stevie." Spinel instantly replied in her sweetest voice, smiling momentarily before her face became enraged at Connie again. 

"You- you can't keep him all to yourself and isolate him from his friends, that's not healthy!" Connie tried to reason in a whisper. 

"Watch me." Spinel spit at her, putting her hands at her sides, "Oh he'll have friends alright on my watch, just less ratty ones than you." 

"But, but… he can't be all yours. You've got to share, uhm…"

Connie got up and retreated, as Spinel advanced towards her, looming over the human girl in a threatening fashion, until the girl hit the wall with her back. 

"Sharing is caring!" She tried one last time. 

Spinel smiled suddenly, bending down by placing her hands on her knees, and looking Connie in the eyes with a wide, twisted mocking grin. 

"I don't care." 

With that she turned around, heading down and loudly telling Steven all about how she heard Connie out, and they peacefully settled everything out. 

Connie hurried home suddenly. For now she would have to play it low. But this wasn't over. 

 

Seeing as everyone was about to head about their own business, Pearl asked loudly. 

"So what happened to Jasper?" 

Standing next to her, Spinel slammed her forehead with her palm. 

"Right, I forgot!" She summoned Jasper's gold locked gem up, freaking the gems in the room out. 

"I've regged her." 

"I beg your pardon?" 

"Dude, too much deets." 

Fuchsia gem rolled her eyes, "I've rejuvenated her." She clarified. 

Pearl quietly whispered, starting at the gold casing, "Were those meant for us?" 

She didn't want to know the answer. 

Spinel tossed the cased gem up and down in the air, "Gotta be honest with you. She sucks. I dunno what to do with her now."

"Can I have that?" 

The gems looked back to see Amethyst reaching her hand out to Spinel. 

"You know she's gonna pop out looking to serve Pink Diamond and colonize the Earth, right?" 

"Yeah. Can you just give her to me? Please?" 

Such politeness was unusual for Amethyst to say, that's how Spinel knew she was being very serious. She learned to read those gems well over time. 

"Sure." 

She stretched her hand all the way to Amethyst and tossed the gem for her. 

"It unlocks on the side." 

Amethyst held the gem in her hands as if it was a little critter or a bird, with her palms crossed together and open up. 

"Yeah. Thanks." 

She headed up the stairs from there. 

"Let's go sis." She whispered. 

Once she disappeared above, Pearl turned at Garnet. 

"She'll be fine, in the Kindergarden." 

Having that reassurance voiced to her, Pearl glanced at Steven and Spinel one more time. She held her hands together, smiling softly, and looking much more content. 

"So will we." She whispered. "Sorry, you two." 

"It's fine, Pearl. We had a good talk there."

"Meh, I've been left there behind for longer." 

The two teens laughed about it as they did, going up to Steven's room, as the two other gems watched them happily. Garnet placed her hand over Pearl's shoulders. 

"We did well." 

"We truly did."

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"And then I looked up and you came for me." Spinel glanced down at the half human boy who laid with his head on her crossed legs, as she sat up in his bed. She guessed it must have been uncomfortable, even though she was made of soft material. But Steven wasn't complaining about his position.

"That's pretty… dark." 

"Nah. Could have been worse." 

"I was right though. When Connie told me that you were left alone with Jasper, I said - we better hurry before Spinel poofs Jasper!"

He shrugged his hands, as Spinel snorted at it. She placed her hand over his head, staring down at him lovingly. 

"We really did that, huh?"

"Hmm?" 

"We really… told each other how we feel in the garden." 

"Yeah… I guess we're dating now." 

"Like, we're… together?" 

Steven reached his hand, and Spinel gave him hers to hold.

"Like we belong to each other." 

Belong. That has a nice sound to it. 

"And nothing will do us apart?" 

"Nothing. Hopefully." 

"Well, we'll make sure not to break up over miscommunications again, right?"

"Right. Open and healthy communications. And only the truth." 

"Truth only."

"Good. So. Speaking of truth…"

Spinel tensed up. 

"Did you… what do you feel about Connie now?"

"Oh." She relaxed again, "Nothing." 

"Nothing? Aren't you mad?" 

"Eh… it ain't gonna get me anywhere if I am to hate on her. So I just… choose not to care." 

"Well that's one way to deal with it." Steven smiled at her. "I'm proud of you, Spinel." 

"Aww jee, I have you to try for." 

The exchanged soft looks, but then Steven frowned lightly, remembering something. 

"Spinel? Can I ask you something?"

Anything. "Yes?"

He raised his hand up, patting her cheek lightly. 

"Your eyes. They're…"

"...Beautiful? Like yours?" 

"Well, that too. But yours look like… how they usually look when you're… feeling unst… uh… down. I feel like maybe the events that happened in the Garden before I got there were a little more traumatizing than you're letting on?" 

He hoped it was okay to probe this talk. Spinel took hold of his hand on her face, softly. 

"I feel fine." 

"Fine now. But maybe you weren't, and you might want to talk about it?" 

She kept quiet, pondering.

"I…" she bend over, closing up face to face with Steven, "I just really really missed you there." Came in a sort whisper, as she kissed his lips and sat up again. 

“Of course I knew I’d take on Jasper, and I knew you’d come see me… Eventually… But I still worried. I really, really don’t want to lose you.” 

“Spinel…” 

At this point this specific tone in which Steven would whisper her name stood for many words at once, mostly for “I love you” and “I’m with you”. 

“We won’t have to part anymore.” 

“And… we’ll have good days now?”

“Yes.”

“We’ll have a happy day tomorrow?” She shined up. “Together, just you and me?”

“Yes. We will.” 

Spinel cheered, coiling her hands around Steven and bringing him up for a tight hug.

Everything was going to be just perfect from now on. 

 

Except that it wasn’t.

Chapter Text

"Hurry up! Pffft! Those boots look ridiculous." 

"They're for gardening, you know."

Here in the garden, let's play a game 

Only for you and I 

"Hehehe, you're bringing human culture to a gem garden?" 

"I brought peace to the galaxy, might as well bring human tools to the garden." 

Here in the garden, come pick me up, 

I'm fun to have around. 

"It's our Garden now after all." 

"It is, Steven. Race you to the warp pad!" 

I love your smile, that's what I'm after. 

The smile on your face, the sound of your laughter.

They went through the newly installed warp pad, bringing a bunch of gardening tools and flower seeds to the garden. 

They've refused the offer to have the garden repaired by other gems, saying that they wanted to do it together. 

To make it special. 

Happy together, your hand in mine

Happily watching the world go by. 

Spinel worked with the shovels, as Steven instructed her - she simply needed to dig the dirt up and rustle it around. To renew it. Moving just behind her, Steven planted flower seeds, kissing then before he'd deposit them in the soil. 

Beautiful roses and hibiscuses bloomed almost instantly. 

Happy together, all on our own, 

under the endless sky 

Somewhen through the day Pearl warped to the garden to leave a basket of food and water nearby the entrance. No matter how hard she tried - seeing Steven with Spinel never even remotely reminded her of seeing Pink with Spinel. 

Steven truly did love her.

Pearl warped without seeing the two directly, letting them have their space.  

Happily smiling, happy away, 

And it's just you and I. 

Spinel worked happily, taking advantage of her abilities to do things faster than Steven could catch up, teasing him when she'd climb up a column and asking how's the weather down below. 

Happy I wonder, night after night,

Am I so good or are you just so kind? 

She didn't need to rest, but she wasn't in a hurry to restore garden. So whenever Steven sat down to rest - she sat by him, rustling his hair or pinching his cheeks happily. 

Happy to listen, happy to cry,

Only world needed is you and I. 

They went to the garden almost as soon as Steven was awake. And it may have been dull in there, but Spinel wanted to spend their whole day in there. Because they were together, just the two of them. And no one else. 

You keep on turning pages 

For girl who doesn't care, 

girl that will go on 

without you.

They never heard anyone call them for an emergency home, and that was good for the two. They shared thoughts without being interrupted once. Spinel listened with fascination to all of Steven's reviews of his favourite video games, and then he listened to her explain how to play gem games.  

Just stop and look at me now 

Gem who loves you so,

gem who needs you so 

gem who'll do it all, 

gem who won't go on 

without you. 

When Steven took a small nap, Spinel just sat by his side quietly. Watching. She loved to see him so vulnerable, helpless. Needing her for protection from any danger in the world. She loved him. 

Finally happy, finally peace, 

Nothing between us now 

She will not bother, you will be mine, 

Just never turn around. 

She loved him. She never wanted to have to share him with anyone, all she wanted was to be with him all the time. For every single  movement and gesture of his to be directed at her. For every look to be for her, for every smile, and every tear…  

Isn't that lovely? 

Isn't that cool? 

And am I not cruel,

and aren't I a fool to think

It was wrong.  

I'll keep you with me 

Not reasonable or healthy to the extent she fantasized about it. 

I'll keep you mine 

But she didn't care. 

She only cared to keep him with her. 

Only world needed is you and I.  

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Whew, I think we did well for the first day." Steven wiped his forehead, looking proudly at their progress on the restoration of the garden. Spare for the paths to walk on, they dug up the dirt, letting it breath again. Planted seeds and watered them, and had Steven kiss the dirt here and there. 

One thing he found funny was when Spinel saw where he was kissing the dirt, and immediately made herself smaller and sprang towards his next target for smooching, to be smooched instead of the ground. Her ability to become flat on the ground was still creepy sometimes, and almost always surprising, since Steven tried his best to forget that she had that in her. He thought at least some of her shapeshifting abilities were a nightmare fuel.

Now some flowers were blooming. Hopefully they'd make the place feel more alive. 

They've done a fairly decent job of disposing of the old rotten vines and the grass. Steven did it himself, to avoid risking getting Spinel triggered.

But she seemed to be holding well. Instead of freaking out - she actually suggested to put a little statue in the spot where she stood still for 6000 years. 

"I'll never forget, or be able to erase my trauma. So I don't want to pretend that it's not there." Was her reasoning, a huge progress from when she tried to repress her hurt side. 

And so a little winged heart figurine was placed there, with a batch of hibiscus surrounding it.  

They still had a lot to do, a lot of area to cover, and had yet to deal with the water being sticky and nasty. But they were sure they'd get there. 

Another good thing about being in the Garden - their own Garden now - is that they got to kiss without witness a lot. Steven wanted to make sure he'd stop being awkward and shy about it. But he just couldn't help himself. Every time that Spinel would catch his idea and lean in to kiss him - he couldn't help but chuckle at how adorable she was. And she would never leave him laughing alone, so the whole thing would turn into a small laughing fit. 

Perhaps kissing in public was out of question for now. 

But holding hands wasn't. This hasn't changed since Spinel was her baby self again - she loved to hold onto him. To wrap her hands around his hand and not let go, to put her hand over his shoulder possessively, or to simply let her palm be held in his own. The latter was the most special one. 

The two rested on the warp pad platform after a lot of hard work, sitting on the edge and talking about everything and nothing. 

"So… what's dating like on Earth?" 

"Hmm. Well, for each their own."

 "Oh, no, I mean… what are people… going to think of us? Like, like is it a status quo thing, or…" 

"I guess the answer stays the same - for each their own. Some people make it public and make out in public, some keep it secret… You know, I'm glad you brought it up. I don't think we should keep it a secret. But also… take our time to tell others, or even let them guess. What about you?" 

"What about me?" She still wasn't used to being asked about her opinion. 

"Do you want people to know that we're together, or would you rather keep it a secret?" 

"Oh…" Spinel would have loved for the whole world to know that Steven belonged to her, but on another hand - it felt so special when it was between the two of them… "Let others guess, I guess. Like a game of who can do it earlier." 

Steven smiled at her idea, "My dad will probably know first. Jee, I haven't told him anything about us yet. I don't think he even knows who you are." 

Was that bad? 

"What's a dad? I remember seeing some human hang around you and the gems when I was…" there was a short search for the right word. "Going ape shit on your planet." 

"Yeah, that's him. He's… basically he made me."

"I thought Pink made you?"

A bit of a pause formed, as it downed to Steven that there was no soft way to put that his dad basically was the reason why Pink was gone, after Steven himself. 

"They both did. It's complicated… you should just know that: He is - what other Diamonds were to mom for me. Except he actually cares about me. And is a person with decent morals. I'm sure he'll like you." 

The boy got up, inviting Spinel with him.

"Let's go. I bet he's at his car wash right now." 

Spinel hesitated to grab his hand back. 

"I… thought we were going to have an "us" day?"

"We are having it. We'll just go around Beach City, see some people. Together. Your hand in mine." 

Seeing others. She didn't like the sound of that, but it was Steven who was reassuring her, so it would be okay. It had to be. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

This was not okay. She didn't sign up for this. 

"Dad, this is Spinel. You remember her using that injector and resetting the gems?"

"Oh, yeah. Ain't gonna forget that anytime soon. I don't see Pearl being so…" Mr. Universe shrugged his hands "So pearly every day." 

Steven laughed at him. Spinel didn't like the man she was seeing before herself, let alone the fact that she now had to hope that he'll think nicely of her. 

No one was allowed to judge her anymore. No one! 

But since Steven had him in his family tab… she could only put on her "Yes my Diamond" smile accompanied by "Your Best Friend" voice now. 

"It's nice to meet you." She got out of herself. 

"It's nice to meet you as a friend too. It's not everyday that a gem shows up and takes all three of them out in one go, you know?" Greg tried to sound positive, reaching to shake her hand. 

Spinel blinked at his hand, innocently, suddenly conveniently forgetting what touch stuff were used for on Earth. 

At least it couldn't get worse than that. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Look at her forms and shapes. Oooh, she would make for a perfect model to draw for the beginner cartoonists." Vidalia circled Spinel, admiring her strangely. Spinel just stared awkwardly, wishing it was Steven who'd be making her feel so flustered with positive things about herself. 

"Can I touch your hair? For structure. I see you nodding, thank you. Ah, yes, it's rather… coarse. Say, does your hair represents your mood sometimes?" 

"Wow, you caught on that too?" Steven asked, pretending to be an interested art student. 

"Of course. There are so many things in her that stand for how she feels and how she perceives herself. Just look…" 

She touched her shoulder pads, "They're triangles, although not too sharp. They weren't triangles before, were they? It stands for her attempting to make herself look more evil, but the softness and roundness is what gives out that she doesn't carry through with it. The shape of her body parts - are both squares. She means business when she wants to, I bet. Squares are serious and responsible. And the mascara… those lines, they're like scars-"

Vidalia reached to trace them, and it was the first time that Spinel had broken her still pose. She kept it when she noted how interested Steven was in this weird psychoanalysis. But there were places of her that were not up for touching by anyone. Her scars were one of them, so she leaned back from the touch, very open about her discomfort. 

"Sorry, honey. Got carried with it. Would you care for a sketch and a tea?" 

Steven was about to say that they'd love to stay, but he eyed Onion in the corner of the room. 

He believed Spinel was strong of will, but not strong enough to face Onion yet, let alone his… tapes. 

"Thanks but I think we'll be going, okay bye-"

He grabbed Spinel by the hand and ran. 

"What'd scare you there, gem boy?" 

"The unforgettable." Steven whispered, slowing his step eventually and leading Spinel by hand now, "Which I hope you never see." 

"Hmm. You know, I would let you…" 

"Let me... what?" As he was still thinking of Onion's tape that he had a misfortune of seeing almost two years ago, her phrase caught him off guard. 

"I would let you… trace my scars… if you wanted." Spinel looked away and covered her face with her free hand. Seemingly forgetting that she was still holding Steven's hand with the other. It must have been becoming a natural state for her - to hold onto him. 

"Oh. Thanks. I can see it means a lot to you."

This was good. This was fine. Why would it have to get worse? 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Hey Steven. Who's your friend?"

"Hey. You guys remember… I mean, this is Spinel. Spinel, those three are the local cool kids. That's what Lars always called them."

Three people. She gripped his hand. It couldn't get worse than that. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Hey Lars, hey Sadie. You guys working stuff out?"

Steven turned at Spinel, "Those two are a couple, somewhat. They both don't know it yet, I think." 

"I remember you. You said you… weren't Steven's friend? So like… are you though?" 

If Spinel had a tongue with pain receptors she'd bite it right now. 

Just another two. It can't get worse than this. 

 

~ ~ ~

 

"Steven, Spinel! It's so good to see you two finally safe and sound!" White exclaimed, putting her hands together. 

This was the worst. Spinel clenched her hands on her knees where she sat, very poorly keeping her smile on by now. 

She didn't want any of it. She didn't want any of them, she didn't need any of them. Or at least not that day. She just wished that everyone could disappear, and she could stay with just Steven, alone, quietly… 

Everything burned. She wasn't even hearing what was Steven saying to the Diamonds in the call. She felt as if though a flame ignited inside of her. A bad flame, as it burned the back of her neck and her chest. It made her feel like millions of tiny needles were penetrating her skin anywhere they could reach. Her jaws were clenched. 

This wasn't a panic attack, so then what was it? She wasn't panicking, although she was ready to shoot up from her place, scream out and rage and cry. Probably crash the place or crush Connie if she saw her now, she probably wouldn't hold her rage back.

At this rate I might just go get a new injector and carry out my plan of killing every little thing on this pitiful little planet but me and Steven and-

Steven tapped her shoulder, as she failed to hear when he called her over, and simply continued to stare at the wall before her. She slapped his hand away momentarily. Steven guessed that she must have zoned out, and was about to come back to her senses and apologize, and he would assure her that it's okay, and he'd hold her more… 

But that didn't occur. 

Instead Spinel got up, clearly crying, and stormed off. 

White held her pause, before "whispering" softly, and dramatically, 

"Steven, is everything alright? She wasn't looking exactly... happy since you called."

"I'm… I'm not sure? I'll call you back." 

Ending the call, Steven hurried back down to catch up to her. Okay, he could deal with this. Whatever it was - Spinel was here, safe, next to him, not trying to destroy his planet or herself, not punching him in the face… for now. He could work with it. They could talk it out. 

"Spinel, I'm sorry, what was-"

"You're not."

Spinel stood in his room, with her back on him, gripping her fists when Steven finally caught up to her. He thought her voice was a little shaky. 

This reminded him of something… 

"I am sorry." 

"You don't even know what for."

"Yeah. You're right. I don't. Please, tell me. What's wrong? Was it something I did? Was it because of White? Spinel?" 

He tried to approach her again, slowly reaching out to hold her shoulder. She turned around fast, visibly crying with a mix of anger on her face. Once she registered his hand so close to her - she slapped it away again, harder this time. 

Steven stepped back, holding onto it and making a small "Ah!" sound. Not as much because it hurt, but to show her that she was hurting him. 

Spinel raised her hand up for more, but stopped mid track, looking at her shaky hands. 

Okay, good, Steven thought. This is the part where she regrets hurting him, subdues, becomes willing to talk it out. 

But she didn't. Spinel did start to spiral mentally, blaming herself for hurting Steven, but part of her was excusing it as an eye for an eye - he hurt her! Those two sides battling led to her slamming her fist on the nearest wall with a roar, creating a hole in the wall that Bismuth tried so hard to make perfect. 

Okay, so this was a… level 8 on Spinel mood drop scale. Okay. He can work with it. Injector only starts from the 10 anyways. 

Out of 10. 

Steven learned one thing about Spinel. He couldn't quite put it to words yet, but he had an idea of what to do. 

Spinel loved to be above. She was wildly unfamiliar with the concept of being above, but Steven knew she loved to be there. He knew that since the time they… well, he just knew that! Perhaps with some more sense of security in that position it would become easier to get her in that state, and work on bettering it from there.

For now, Steven had to play it right and carefully. 

He rubbed at his hurt hand. Not trying to guilt trip her for hurting him there, just trying to look shy and weak as he could. 

"I'm sorry. I really wish I knew what I did wrong. So I could apologize. Maybe I can make it better?" Any hint, anything?

It's not like he failed to notice her new hairdo or something on that shelf. He always watched it closely for any changes. 

Unfortunately for Spinel, his tactic worked. Although slightly, but worked. She only shook in her anger, instead of letting her energy out to make another hole in his room. Progress, good. She got some self control back. 

Steven mentally rehearsed his whole day with her. They were over their garden, then they met his dad, then cool kids, then Lars, then more people, then he called the Diamonds… 

Did she expect that he'd be more excited to introduce her to everyone? No? 

Steven took another glance at her troubled stance. No, there was more to it, that he previously didn't see… 

"Spinel. I'm so sorry. You… were stressed. Whole day. Something was stressing you the whole time. I get it, it's like a cup that fills up, and then one last drop makes it all pour over the edges. That's why you snapped now, right?… I'm so sorry, I had no idea you felt that way, but I should have! I should have noticed earlier, I'm sorry…" 

Steven held onto himself sadly, for a better effect. He was being honest, but he had to be more dramatic about it than that to make a change in her. 

Other options weren’t viable. He knew not to try and overpower her, because Spinel could and would overpower him if he tried. So he had to submit and hope for the best. 

"Of course. Spent whole day like that and now that I've already had enough and snapped - you remember to apologize." 

"Spent whole day like what? Spinel, I'm really sorry, maybe I'm not seeing something the same way you do… please tell me what's the matter. I want to talk it out." 

Spinel opened her mouth to speak, but froze up, suddenly considering: How would that sound? I hated seeing people whole day ? Isn't that wrong and evil? Would he leave her over it? Would he leave? 

She seemingly subdued, to which Steven reacted positively. Now she'd tell him what was wrong and they’d talk it out… 

"Nevermind." 

And they're back to square one. 

Think, Steven, think. It must be something… that matters to Spinel, and she must know that he had chances of not noticing it. That's how it sounded. 

But it wasn't true that he shouldn't have cared. Even if he didn't know her reasons - Spinel was hurt, crying, angry, she punched him and his wall. 

It means it mattered to her. Something was up, even if it only existed within her head. 

"Spinel? I can't not mind. Whatever it is - is making you feel this way. Then it's real for you. I want to know what's wrong. I want to know what makes you feel this way. So maybe I can help it." 

He was trying his best to pick his word, just to hook the information out of her softly. 

Spinel battled heavily the desire to relax and tell him what the matter was and have him understand her. Maybe he was right? Maybe it wasn't silly or ridiculous just because it was about her emotions? Along with everything else she battled wanting his security. But he could have pushed her away as soon as she'd voice her pain… 

But she'd never know unless she'd try it. 

"It's just…" she started very quietly, "I thought we were going to… I wanted an "us" day." 

"An "us" day. Well, isn't it what we had?"

"No! No, it wasn't!" That was the explosion part. "It was an "us" day when we were in the garden, but then it was your dad day, your friends day, your other friends day, the Diamonds day!.." Spinel threw her hands up. 

Alright, good. This was the explosion part - the part where Spinel let's it all explode out of her. So she would be vulnerable now for some time, and Steven had to be extra careful with her, he had to account for that, and… what did she just say again? 

"Are you saying…" He didn't want to put it in a rude fashion, but he couldn't pick the words for it, "Everyone… you think I shouldn't have… what do you mean?"

No, he couldn't put words into her mouth. He needed her to say it as it is. Unfortunately for him, Spinel took it for a straw to renew her anger with. 

"Yeah, no issue there, is it? Just a day dedicated to anyone but us!" 

"Do you think it was wrong that we saw them all?" 

Spinel sobbed, crying by now, "It was going to be a perfect day, out first dating day, and we started out so well, but then we did anything but stay together! I didn't wanna s-see any of them, I just wann'ed you." 

Steven didn't know what to say. Sure, being together did seem reasonable for their first day together as partners - he didn't even know she gave it so much thought. But she was complaining about… seeing his friends? 

He glanced at her again, considering. He could let her have it and apologize, or he could let her know that this was wrong, and he had his boundaries too.

A decision had to be made. 

"I didn't think it… meant so much to you."

Spinel seemed momentarily relieved. "...Well, you know now. Can we… do better now?" 

"No."

She took a step back, looking up. What?

"I can see my friends. You shouldn't be telling me to avoid them to be with you." 

So he hasn't learned… 

"Then… when are you going to have time for me?" She asked, as if they never met each other. 

"I do spend time with you. We spent the whole morning in the garden. Together, alone." 

She frowned, "Well, I'm sorry. I didn't know I had a daily limit of your time. Is it up yet, do I leave?" 

"Stop it. You know you're being hurtful. And you know you're being wrong. Just admit it." 

"And the next thing I know is that I'm not being needed, is that so?" 

Steven felt bad about it. He noticed that their voices went up in volume as they spoke and he hated it. And he hated that he started to… want to reply nasty things to her too. 

"You're not a toy to only be around when you're needed, I'm sorry my mom made you believe otherwise, but I had nothing to do with it!" 

"Sure seems like you're taking after her." 

"Do not compare me to her." This was his only red line. 

Developed through painful years. 

"Why not? I wasn't good enough to be all she needed. Doesn't seem like my value to a Pink Diamond changed much over 6000 years." 

"Stop that, don't say that!"

"Oh, sorry, am I misbehaving my Diamond?" 

" Don't call me that! I'm nothing like her! I'm trying to be nice to you, you… At least you got to know her!" 

It was the first time that Spinel saw Steven clench his fists and close his eyes as tears ran down his face, yet he seemed so angry a second ago. The emotional state she was so familiar with. 

"You at least got to play with her, got to know her for ages. Got to hear her voice. And I…" He let his hands fall down, eyes darting around the floor. 

He was right. That was one thing Spinel knew, that Steven never had a chance to know. She felt something strange suddenly. Some sort of a guilt… for something she held no control over. 

"And she's gone now." Steven whispered to himself, rather than kept talking to her, "And I'll never know… what am I doing? Why are we fighting? I don't want to be like this. I don't want to hurt you too."

"Anger is contagious, eh?" She almost smiled, "I think you're right."

The boy looked up at her in confusion. 

"I'm sorry. I know what she was like. What she was like when no one else saw her, the sides that she never showed to anyone else…" Because everyone else, but me, was above her. "I of all should know you're nothing like her." 

"Did I really… remind you of her when I led you through the town?" 

"Not really… at least you actually took me with you. It's just that…" 

"You're right."

It was Spinel's turn to get surprised. 

"You're right. We should have spent the day the way that would have made both of us happy. And I didn't exactly… ask you if you wanted this. I just dragged you along. I should have been more considerate." Steven raised his hands up, inviting her for a hug, "I just don't want to lose you, Spinel." 

She still looked on the verge of tears, but those were good tears. She came closer and hugged him back. 

"I should have spoken about how I felt." 

"You can be sure I would have listened." 

"What is this?"

"What's what?"

"This. What is this? I just wanted to be mad and maybe destroy the planet again a minute ago, but now I'm… saying that I was wrong, while you're saying that you're wrong… And I'm not even mad anymore." She leaned back to look at him, not breaking their hug. "What is this?"

"It's called working things out."

 

While she pondered on his words, Steven suddenly leaned down and hooked her knees up, picking her up. She let herself be carried to wherever he wanted. And it wasn't that far off - he just placed her to sit on his bed, and continued their hug there. 

The bed did feel like some sort of a drama-free common ground of the room. They never argued there. 

"Garnet was right. Love can live through anything if we face the truth together."

"She really did give us a relationship advice just before she reformed, huh?" 

"Yes. And she said a wise thing. We've got to talk things out. To tell each other how we feel, even if it's weird or small - sometimes those things matter the most. To work things out. There's nothing that I wouldn't trust you with. You know that, Spinel?"

"Yes." For some reason she was blushing. Must have been from crying a minute ago. 

She deposited her head on his shoulder. 

"What if we can't talk things out one day?" 

"What do you mean?"

"I dunno, just…"

What if you refuse to believe me again?

"Let's both keep it in mind then. That we want to be together. And to be together sometimes we'll have to admit things that aren't pretty. This is an extension of our promise. Alright, Spinel?"

"I guess..." 

"Spinel?"

"Yes, yes, right… What about today? How will we spend the rest of the day?"

Steven held her closer. 

"However you want. We'll do what you want. I hope I can make it up to you."

She felt relieved. After all she got what she wanted. 

"I want just the two of us together, and nobody else." 

"Just the two of us, huh… Spinel, I think I know just the room for us." 

As she looked up at him with sudden fascination and a tint of worry, his gem lit up. 

Somewhere downstairs a corresponding gem lit up on the door. 

And the door opened. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Can I talk to you for a moment?" Connie rubbed her hands, very nervous that this could potentially reach Spinel and make things worse. But she had to try.

She came to the Little Homeworld hoping to find any of the Crystal Gems to talk to them. They were authority over Steven, if she could only convince one of them that they weren't healthy together - there would be hope. 

Pearl and Garnet went to the town that day, and while Garnet stopped to help with the construction, Pearl stood nearby. 

Pearl had to understand. She was Connie's teacher, and she was all about healthiness of attachments now. She had to understand. 

"Sure, Connie. What is it?.. Is it about Steven and Spinel?"

"Maybe… Pearl I just need you to hear me out." 

The tall gem only smiled down at her softly, reaching her hand to rustle her hair. 

"I know, I know. You feel left out." 

"No, I mean yes, but that's not the point. I just don't think they're good for each other." 

Pearl's smile screwed up a bit. 

"I thought you were over this lesson?"

"I know I used it as an excuse for my actions before, but now I really think so!" 

She was starting to sound worried, and Pearl took it for a sign that she was being honest this time. 

She walked towards the nearest bench and called her over, patting the place next to her. Pearl sat with her legs crossed over one another, while Connie's legs didn't really reach the ground from it. 

"What makes you think they're bad for each other?"

"Their dependency. Just look at what happened with Steven when Spinel went missing for like a hour… You guys have to be ready to fight to protect Earth at any moment. What if something happens now and those two just get stuck together or get separated and… they won't be able to focus on saving the Earth or helping others. They're too dependant!" 

Pearl put her hands together and waited before replying. 

"Connie, I think you're exaggerating the real picture. It's not that bad." 

"But it literally is! Steven started panicking and lashing out when he lost her for a hour." 

"To be fair, he suspected something bad must have happened, since they didn't agree to part. And it's… not that he was wrong. I'm sorry." 

"It's true but, but… they're literally inseparable, they even fused! It's- I think it's getting to the point where one won't do well without the other by their side." 

Pearl was looking concerned, tapping her fingers together. 

"They got together about a week ago. I'm sorry, I really don't see the same picture that you do here. Of course they've been wanting to be together all the time." She looked around, searching for arguments to something seemingly so simple. Then she saw Garnet. 

"I mean, look at Garnet. The two love each other so much, they stay fused all the time. And even when they don’t - they married so they can still belong to each other, even when they’re apart. That’s just love. Is that wrong?"

Connie put her legs on the bench, up to her chest, and covered her face, making distressed noises. 

"Tell me one thing." Pearl continued, "Since you believe the two are so bad for each other, or have some sort of abuse going on… have you tried asking Steven how he feels in this relationship?" 

This worked, because for a second Connie started to doubt that she was right. But then the memories of what Spinel told her showed up. 

"Maybe he doesn't feel bad, but I think she's being bad!"

"Are you scared of her or are you caring for Steven? Connie, I can't tell you much here. I can only ask you to ask Steven how he feels. If he doesn't feel bad with her - why does it matter how you feel about her? You're not the one dating Spinel, he is. … But please know that I don't blame you. I felt left out too when I saw them together, and… may have acted out while they didn’t even notice that I stepped away." 

"That's what I'm talking about! It's like the world around ceases to exist when they’re together!" 

"But I figured my feelings out. And I'll be here for you if you'd like to talk about it and do the same." 

Connie tugged her hair down the sides of her face, humming angrily. 

"Thank you anyways." She said politely, jumping down and going away. 

She would find a way to make them see it. 

She would break him free. 

Chapter Text

"That's my room." Steven said, walking through the pink clouds, "It used to be mom's room, but now it's mine. ...You should probably…" 

Steven held Spinel's hand. 

"I almost lost the last friend I brought here in the clouds."

Last friend? Was it Connie? She deserved to get lost in there, in Spinel's mind. 

"So… do you know how it works?" Spinel asked cautiously, looking around. 

The room hasn't changed, although the owner did. 

"Well, yeah. It materializes things I want."

"And what do you usually do here?"

"Oh, uhm…" Steven's eyes darted around, as he blushed. "...Stuff." 

But lucky for him, Spinel didn't notice. She let go of his hand and took few steps from him, glancing around. 

"Well, what do you want to make here?"

"Oh I was thinking something for both of us. We can come up with a place or make people…" 

"Make. I want to see someone."

Something about the way Spinel spoke and acted made Steven feel uneasy for some reason. But having no proof of anything being off, he carried with it. 

"You're gonna have to tell me about it. The room only listens to me." 

She shifted, turning around at him. She wasn’t smiling. 

"You know whom I want to see." 

It took a minute. 

"I don't think that's a good idea. It's true I've… done it before. When I was younger, once I came here to see “mom." And it wasn't a good experience. This stuff can mess you up and make you forget that they're not real in here. Like lucid dreaming." 

Spinel repeated herself, "I want to see Pink in here." 

As soon as she said that, a whirl of clouds flew next to her and formed up a tall figure dressed in a pink attire of a jester. The cloud Pink smiled at her, standing numb. 

"Huh?" Steven looked down at his hands, trying to understand at what point did he summon her and how. Then he looked up again. 

Pink Diamond, his mom… No! It wasn't his mom, it was a bunch of clouds. He had to remember. 

"Spinel… how?" 

"Isn't this fun?" Said Cloud Pink, "I can make anything in here! Ohhh… I want you to be able to use this room too, Spinel!" 

She held her hands together, laughing happily. Her laughter… was this…? 

Steven stepped back, "Spinel, I think we need to poof- to make her go. This is freaking me out. I… I'm sorry, I want her gone!" 

"No!" Spinel replied fast and loud, turning around at him while she grabbed Pink's hand. A second later it occurred to her what'd she just do. Her hair went down, as she slowly turned back around, to see her hand over the hand of the cloud figure. 

Pink was smiling softly at her. Looking at that gesture - Spinel's body shined up and changed form, becoming baby Spinel again, as her gem turned upside down, to its natural state. 

"You're so much fun, Spinel! Let's play another game!" Pink laughed, letting go of her hand and twirling around as she laughed, and laughed, and laughed…

Steven watched, as the clouds around slowly turned grey, then got darker and darker… and then formed a familiar place. 

It was the Garden. But it didn't look like it did that morning. It looked like it did 6000 years ago. 

Spinel stood still, her hands open and her hair hearts smaller - as they would turn when she was sad - looking at the dancing Pink with tears in her eyes. Steven stood behind her, only seeing her back, and having a bad feeling about all of this suddenly. 

"Oh, you're my only salvation, Spinel!" Pink stopped spinning, and looked at her with a tired expression, "Yellow and Blue are awful, but I suppose you're the one good thing that came to me from them. Maybe one day they'll also get me my own colony… then I'll prove myself!" 

"Spinel, I have a really bad feeling about this." The boy was having a hard time reminding himself that this was a cloud replica of a deceased person, an imaginary friend, no more. 

Spinel seemingly wasn't hearing him. 

Then the scenery changed. It got noticeably darker. Pink stood still, looking serious and… greyer. Not White-esque, just less colourful all of a sudden. Her face was bored and numb. 

"I'm tired of you." She blurted, turning around and walking off, to the warp pad. 

But she didn't make her way to there - she teleported over to the communication device suddenly. 

Spinel turned away from it, now facing Steven but not looking at him. She was looking down, shaking, as she put her hands together. Just like she stood in the garden. Steven noticed some vines that started to materialize around her. 

And soon, the whole place turned darker, the water spoiled, the columns crashed down, and the grass and vines grew rapidly, covering the area. 

Cloud Pink watched from the communicator, laughing and loving and living as Steven and Spinel were stuck in time, terrified and unknowing, facing the consequences that she never bothered to think about. 

Then Pink turned towards Spinel and spoke loudly, "I've lived my life! I had fun, I've ran away, I liberated my own colony, I faked my shattering, I loved and I loved and I loved and I loved… and finally, I died, happily knowing that…" her face started to melt away, "That Spinel will die rotting away, forgotten, while I laugh." 

She laughed, coming forth. Laughed maniacally, with a melting twisted grin. 

Still as her baby self, Spinel took off and ran towards Pink, crying out for her and begging for it to be one cruel prank on her.

It couldn't be that she just… betrayed her, could it? 

She fell down to her knees, crying it all out. 

"How could you!? After everything we had - I thought I was special to you! Why?! Why!!!" 

She hit the ground with her fists, over and over again, screaming through the tears, as her voice turned hoarse from all the screaming, 

"I wasn't good enough! I wasn't and now I'll never be because you're gone and you're never coming back and I never won the game, I never… I don't… I don't want to!.."

In his shocked state, Steven couldn't even move at first, as he watched Spinel grab onto her gem. He knew that gesture, he had seen it a hundred times before, whenever she got sad. But now… something was off. 

Spinel held tight onto her gem - Steven reached his hand out, too scared to say or do anything - and he only watched, in utter fear and shock, as Spinel… 

 

Ripped her heart out. 

 

He glanced down at her body. Her heart gem was in place. 

In her hands, a cloud replica of her heart formed up. 

Then it fell down to the ground from her hands, as she continued to sit down next to it, sobbing.

Spinel reformed back into her current self, her heart becoming a spade again, and her hair hearts bleeding out.  

Then the cloud Spinel's gem lit up, as she also reformed, although she looked different than Steven knew her - she looked more monstrous. She was darker, with spikes and horns sticking out of her body, and claws and talons being where her limbs ended. Her tears were liquid, dripping down, but they were black and much more gooey than tears. Spare for the colour, they resembled blood, as they fell to the ground, spoiling it. 

"No… that would be too easy for you…" The monster said in a trembling, devious voice, "I'll make you pay."

Then Cloud Spinel jumped over and rushed at Pink, putting her fists through the cloudy body. 

She was unstoppable, she was unleashed, she was enraged, as she punched and kicked the lifeless cloud figure. 

She jumped back, reeling her fists in and crying it all out. A cloud rejuvenator appeared in the monster's hands. 

"I'll make them pay!" 

The cloud replicas of the Crystal Gems and Steven formed up. Cloud Steven was looking a little more pink than the usual. 

True Spinel kept sitting down, her eyes closed as tears kept coming down her face. She was sobbing less, she was feeling ashamed.

"I'll make you all pay for my pain!" Screamed the cloud monster, as it launched at the gems, cutting each of them up into pieces that fell down on the ground rather than poof away.  

"You'll know my pain! I'll make you pay! You took yourself away from me, and I'll…" 

The monster stopped next to Cloud Steven and raised the weapon up, 

"I'll take away the only thing you truly held dear!"

Then she ran her scythe through him, poofing Steven. 

Only his gem was left behind. 

And then it poofed away too, turning into clouds again. Then the Crystal Gems. Then Pink. Then cloud Spinel. 

The Garden turned black and disappeared, and the room returned to looking like a field of pink clouds. 

Finally, Steven caught his breath from the show he watched unfold. He slowly made his way towards Spinel, sitting down next to her. 

"Is that how it… happened?"

She nodded silently. 

Steven reached his hand carefully, and traced a finger down the black scar on her face. Her expression didn't change, but she did put her hand over his own. Not stopping him - just holding it there. 

She seemed to take that gesture like a cat takes being pet - pretended she didn't care that Steven existed next to her right now, but deep inside secretly dearly appreciated it and liked it. 

"We can still play here if you want." 

"Sorry. I just… used it to vent. I meant to have fun in here, but… it just reminded me so much… She made it so that I could also use this room, so we could play together."

"I didn't know you could do that."

"Yet it works. Sorry."

“No, no, it’s okay. I’m… glad you got all that out. Really.” He cupped her cheek into his hand, and she nuzzled against the touch, “Thank you Spinel. You did the right, healthy thing.”  

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Garnet?"

"I know." 

"I think-"

"You think wrong."

"Can't you at least-" 

"Listen. No." 

This wasn't working out at all. Garnet of all should have seen troubles coming a mile away. Yet Connie wasn't even able to start a talk with her. 

"They're growing unhealthy attached to each other, why won't anyone but me see it?"

"You're the only one concerned with what they do together." 

"Because it's wrong!" 

"It is wrong. You should let them be." Garnet put her hands on her hips, "Any attempt that you'll have at breaking them up will only bring them closer together."

"Oh no. That's awful! What can be closer than they are now? Oh no, oh no… I don't get it, how can you be so calm about it?" 

"I see nothing wrong." 

"But they're inseparable!"

Garnet smiled softly, "So are Ruby and Sapphire. You wouldn't say that they're codependent, would you?" 

"Well, maybe they are!"   

 

The next thing Connie knew is that she was locked outside of the Beach house. She leaned against the glass door and slid down, saddened. It's like the world was against her, no matter what she did. She glanced inside though the glass. 

 

The door in the temple opened, and the two small gems walked out. Steven led Spinel by hand. He stopped with his back at the front glass door, and looked at her. Asking if she was feeling okay. Spinel nodded, as she let him hold her cheek and wipe her tears more. She was learning to accept those gestures of security. 

And then she eyed the small human figure watching the two from outside the glass door. 

Spinel fixated her look on Steven, suddenly determined in what she wanted to do. She came closer, running her hands around his head and locking them together, as she nudged his head to leaner closer softly - Steven let her guide him and leaned in, putting his lips out for a kiss. 

And Spinel kissed him. She held his head with her hands and guided it to turn and bend as she willed. Her gem glowed from the exposure to Steven's healing powers again, and soon she melted into this spontaneous make out session that she started a second ago just to make Connie see what she claimed as her own. 

On Steven's end, he was pretty content with it happening. He knew she loved to guide and be in charge, so he let her take the pleasure she needed from kissing him. Not like he was any more experienced at it than she was. He wasn’t. But he loved it. He got to relax with her, and he loved it about her. 

And he always wanted it with her.  

At least they were learning to kiss without laughing all the way through it. That’s progress.  

Steven leaned back first, needing to breath for a second. Spinel kept looking at him lovingly, stroking his soft curly hair and giggling a little. 

“We didn’t really… make our story there, maybe you’ll like to learn a new one instead?” 

“Hmmm?” 

“I’ve been meaning to show you around more. There’s this place - the library. I like to come there. There will be people, but nobody to join the two of us. What do you say?” 

I’ll go to the edge of the galaxy with you, “Sure.” 

Connie jumped up and hid around the corner, as she saw the two head towards the door. She was crying. She really wanted to just jump in, poof Spinel in place, tell Steven all about what she said and hope… that he’ll just send her back to the Diamonds, and be with her again. 

But the words she heard earlier caught up to her, “Have you ever stopped to think what Steven feels with her?” 

She glanced down, as the two made their way down the stairs and off to the distance. Spinel tugged on Steven’s jacked until he let her drag it off and put it on herself. All while the two laughed, as she snuggled into the stored warmth of his body. Then Steven reached his hand and Spinel took it into her own, as they walked off… 

Connie looked to the side. Maybe, just maybe she really was wrong… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

 “And back then I realised,” Steven spoke, going through the rows of shelves with books as Spinel followed, “That we need to know each other’s language better. I’m already learning Gemish writing… so maybe I can teach you to read human books meanwhile?” 

Spinel glanced around at all the pretty covers. Seemingly endless shelves had books with covers that portrayed beautiful existent places, beautiful non existent places, couples, stars, some colourful children aimed books… 

“We can pick any book and try reading it!” 

“Hmmm…” Spinel stretched her hand to the upper shelf, and reeled it back with the first random book she grabbed. 

“How ‘bout this one?” 

The book had a grey tie on it. 

“Uhmmm…” Steven stammered, “How about… something for kids. Those books are usually easier, since they’re for kids… who are just starting to learn to read… you know?” 

“Then whom is this for?” Spinel asked, turning the book open and looking through the pages of text and text and no pictures, “Why isn’t this one illustrated? How’m I supposed to know what is this about?” 

She squinted at the text. Steven softly grabbed the book out of her hands. 

“It’s about very boring human things… Let’s grab something more general.” 

“A’ight”. Spinel walked forth, looking for the next book to catch her attention, while Steven placed the one she already took down. 

Someone passed by and chuckled at him. The boy blushed. Well! At least it can’t get worse than that. 

But it did. 

He caught up to Spinel as she held a different book in her hands. The book was red, and the name of it was spelled out in big letters on the front. It was a bit of a folio too. 

“I found this one, but it doesn’t have human writing, I think.” Spinel said, turning pages over. 

Steven covered his face, facepalming somewhat. Wishing he had just went reading online with her back at home. 

“Spinel, this isn’t…”

“I know.” Did she now? Did she even know what he wanted to say? 

“I know, I know. Sacred human sex thing. I wanna know what the fuss is all about.” She calmly answered the unasked question, turning over another page of the very intimate illustrations. 

“Hmm. Is that what all humans have?” 

Steven picked up a big kid’s book and made Spinel hold it behind the Kamasutra book she was holding, to cover the cover. She didn’t see why he’d bother, but did whatever he wanted.

“I’m only seeing two variations here.” 

“Yeah those… can we please sit at the further table with this? … Thank you. Alright, yeah, those are what humans have.” 

Steven deemed it would have been better for both of them to get over with this this way. Spinel had a right to know after all. 

“So… which one do you have?” 

“I’ll tell you. But uh… you shouldn’t be asking people that. It’s very private and… it can be offensive to ask that.”

“Why?”

“Because there are trans people.”

“Trans? Do they like… transform what they have? Can they shapeshift?”

“No, not really. Though that’d be really cool for humans… But no, they can’t transform. They do get operations sometimes... Trans people are… Okay, okay, give me a second.” 

Steven moved to sit closer to her, as he placed his hand over her own on the book, and gathered his thoughts.

“So naturally humans have two sets of genitals. Those things. And depending on what you have - when you’re born the doctors who help humans… hatch … will either assign them to be a “male” (this one) or a “female” (this one on this page). And for a long time on Earth it had a meaning - like if you were assigned female - you had to be… I mean, people expected you to be soft and weak and sit home and not vote. While males did work and voted. But it… kind of died out. We still have just those two sets, but everyone defines what they want to be now. Like males - boys - can wear dresses and paint nails, and girls can vote and be strong and do anything. Gender is… a whole spectrum. It’s complicated. But also not really, because now everyone defines it for themselves. It’s like your identity. A part of it, at least. … Right, so, trans people are the ones who were assigned one of those genders, but as they grew - they decided they wanted to be something else. Like if someone who was born a female wanted to be a man. Then it’d be a trans man. And it’d be rude to ask them what genitals do they have because… it can come across offensive... I’m not sure if you can see why?”

“Yes, I can.”

“Oh, good. So people just define themselves and love whomever they want.” 

“Hmmm…” 

“It’s kind of like… the Gems who don’t want to be what their initial purpose was meant to be.” 

“So, if my purpose was to be cute and adorable, but I rejected all associations with that…” Spinel hummed, “Does that make me… trans?” 

“I guess so. If you want to… identify that way.” 

“I’m trans?” She tasted the phrase aloud. “I’m trans… what about you?” 

“Oh? I’m not sure yet… I guess I’m a boy, but I like wearing dresses.”

“You don’t know for sure?” 

“That stuff can take years to figure out. There’s no rush. And even when you think you figured it out… things can still change, you know? That’s the thing about humans. We change all the time.” 

“Figured as much.” Spinel chuckled. “If only gems did that too.” 

“Well, I think for a gem you changed a lot.” 

He felt her tug her hand back from underneath his own suddenly. 

“For the worse?” 

“No! There’s… there’s no worse or better. We just… change as we grow. That’s all. And… I’m sorry your growth wasn’t for the best reason…” He grabbed her hand into his own, “But I love what you are now.” 

“...Really really?” 

Steven chuckled. “Really really.” 

“Huh-well, then I… guess I’m not that bad. If someone as good as you likes me.” 

“You’re not bad.”

“And you like me?”

“Yes.” 

“Really really like?”

“Yes, really really like you.” 

“Really really really…?”

More soft laughter formed between the two, “Spinel, we’re dating.”

“I gotta know!” She laughed. 

They put the red book aside, and focused on the childish one, spending the rest of their time there with Steven teaching Spinel the human alphabet, as if she was a little child. When she had questions about certain letters - she’d form them with her hands and fingers. 

By the end of their first session she was able to spell out a four letter word. 

“Love.”

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Lovers don’t notice the time passing. 

The two love birds thought a single day flew by, as a whole week passed. Spinel had long forgotten that Connie never told Steven they were no longer friends, or that she existed at all. There was a single time when Steven checked his phone and was surprised to find that Connie wasn’t texting for a long time now, but he assumed she was busy with the space camp, or feeling guilty. He decided it would be a matter for another day. He had something that made him much more happier to do now. 

Spinel. He had Spinel to spend time with and teach about human culture and world. He had her to lift up and hold if she cried. They argued once or twice, but always didn’t even notice when they’d circle back to holding onto each other for dear life. 

They needed each other more than they wanted to be right. And in the end of it, they’d discover that both were wrong anyways. Spinel for assuming and getting mad over nothing, Steven for not seeing that earlier or for putting his emotions out before realising what needs to be said to defuse the situation. He wanted her to know he had boundaries, but in the end… he just needed her by his side. 

It’s not like Spinel was bad for him. She was wonderful. She was wild and she could go 0 to 100 and loop back again in the matter of minutes. And that’s what he loved so much about her - a wild ride. The rollercoaster of their experience together. 

Their experience together… Pink Calcite. The two had not formed them again ever since. Nothing wrong - it was their happy experience. But there was a secret to it that they did not intend to tell others, and the less people knew about them or were exposed to them - the better for keeping it a secret. They would joke about it here and there in the way no one could tell, but for the time being that was it. 

Both did prioritize spending outside time together, unlike Garnet who reveled herself in being herself. There was so much to be done together - to hold hands together, to laugh together, to smile together, to play together, to love together, to sit in complete silence while each read a book in the language only they knew together. To exist together.

Everything was peaceful as can be. 

Well, spare for that one time… 

~

“Spinel? Are you okay? You look a little… shaky?”

“I can taste colours by looking at them.”  

“Has anyone seen my coffee? Oh, here’s the cup. … Why is it empty? Steven? Why’s Spinel shaking all over the… room?”  

~

But that only added to their lives, as anything that was fun and harmless was good. 

Somedays Steven couldn’t believe his life. He was just… there, in this part of his life when he fell asleep with Spinel’s hand in his own, smiling softly at her till he’d drift to sleep, and know that he’ll wake up to spend even more happy time together. Probably - most likely - he’ll be awoken with a boop or a kiss on the nose, as she liked to do. 

Could it really be this? Was it really his true happily ever after? The final part where he never had to do anything ever again, and could just be happy?  

 

No. 

Love takes time and effort, and Steven of all should have known that things tend to change. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

And sometimes love takes guns. Spinel pointed the water gun at Steven, making a menacing sound. 

This time we’ll take the first place.”

“If we hurry, maybe. Otherwise Onion and Sour Cream’s team will have time to plan out their whole round’s strategy.” 

“I can’t believe we lost last time because you sacrificed yourself.” 

“I had to shield you, he was going to shoot at you!” 

“I could have sprung away! Besides, you’re better at this… water war? Water battle? Water activity… uhhh water sp-” 

“Okay okay I got this Spinel!” Steven raised his hand quick, “Water war is good enough. That’s what it is. And today,” He cocked his water gun. “We win, and far not with peace and talks.” 

“Today we’ rude.” Spinel laughed back. 

She sprang down from the staircase, rolling over and sitting up on one knee, pointing her water gun in front of her as if she was a bodyguard shooting off an attack.

"Pew, pew!" She said, pointing her gun to the door as the human girl walked in. 

Spinel's expression got more serious, yet she still held the gun in her direction and pretended to shoot it, making a more realistic sound of a bullet hitting flesh. 

“Ha-push.” 

"Hey… guys? You're going to the water war event?" 

"Hey Connie. Yes, did you want something?" Steven stood before her, while Spinel got off her knees, still holding the gun ready. 

Connie took a deep sigh once more, rehearsing all that she had to say now. She thought a lot about it in the past days. 

"I know I said this a lot before… I'm sorry." 

No one broke the silence she formed, so she kept talking. 

"I've seen you two around the town, but felt… that I couldn't approach you two yet. I messed up a lot. And I felt… I feel a lot of guilt that I caused you two so much trouble."

Spinel stood behind Steven, glaring. Holding the water gun as if it was a real one, and she ready to shoot her at any moment she'd try to step out of line. 

"But I saw you two more and… and I finally realized. You two are so happy together. And I'm… glad for you. I know we" She looked at Steven, "will drift away from each other when I go to space camp, and you stay here with… space ambassador stuff. So I guess I'm glad we got to be close friends while it lasted." 

Finally, Steven smiled at her. 

"I don't think we'll drift apart that much? You can still text me, you know?" 

Spinel stretched her neck and glared at her from behind Steven. She stretched her hand too and gestured cutting a throat. 

"I mean… what for? We probably won't see each other again." Connie spoke surprisingly calmly. "I'm glad we made each other happy. Now she makes you happy. I finally see that. And you make her so very happy too. I'm glad for you too. Hope I will meet someone to love one day too…" 

"I'm sure you will." Steven said, coming closer and reaching his hand to shake hers. 

Connie didn't take his hand. 

"Yeah. So. Have a fun life you two." 

She raised her hand up, as if waving goodbye." 

"Okay?" 

This was a little awkward, and her expression was unreadable, but since she sounded so sincere Steven had no reason to suspect that she came up with yet another evil scheme. 

The two love birds headed out, following the girl. Connie opened the door, as she was already the closest to it. 

"Even though you're so unhealthy." She blurted, heading out. 

Spinel's eyes spiraled. Steven shuddered, facepalming himself and quickly changing his stance to irritated. 

"Connie…" He rubbed his face, exhausted of this. 

"What? Oh, no, no. I'm not going to try to split you guys up anymore. It's none of my business if you two want to be interdependent." 

"I swear if I hear another word with "dependant" in it…" the boy started, but didn't finish the sentence. "Connie, you were just saying goodbye, what's the matter?" 

"No matter! You guys have fun! Bye!" She walked out. 

Connie hurried her step when she heard a pair of squeaky toy shoes catching up to her. She ran down the stairs faster. 

Spinel barely avoided slamming the door open as she hurried out, but was stopped momentarily by a firm hand on her shoulder pad from above. 

She turned around, somewhat scared, looking up to see the owner of the half gloved hand. 

"It won't be the end of it." Garnet said. "Your love can and will work through this, you just have to wait and know what truly matters." 

Spinel subdued. Garnet was a special case to her, and just sometimes she was a little… intimidating. She was a strong protector figure, but sometimes Spinel couldn't help but remember Garnet protecting the Crystal Gems and Steven from her that one time. It may have been months ago, but Spinel still felt bad for it to the present day. 

She calmed down, nodded thankfully, and looked back at Steven, inviting him to go to their planned event. 

Steven gripped the water gun in his hands, then slowly walked after her. 

The mood was ruined. But it was not the worst thing that happened. Steven looked at Spinel rushing forward and calling him over. And he knew he wanted to be closer to her. And he rushed to be closer to her. 

But in the back of his head he thought, Are we really bad for each other with this dependency?

Connie's plan worked. The deed was done. 

 

The seed of doubt was planted.

Chapter Text

He's been quiet. Unusually quiet. Too quiet. Usually chattering and impatient to tell her more, now Steven has been unusually quiet for a long time. How much time? It felt like an eternity, so Spinel couldn't tell. But she could tell that something was wrong. 

Be it that they simply sat over his bed now, the safe drama free zone of the room, it was still off that they were so quiet. 

"What's wrong?" She asked, reaching to fix a stray batch of hair from his curls. 

Steven grabbed her hand midway. 

"Your hair…"

He let go of her hand, pushing it away from himself. 

"I'm just… thinking…"

If this is about what Connie said I am going to murder her. What's wrong Steven? Are you tired of me already? That lasted less than with… no, no, don't think that! He loves you, you can be secure, he won't toss you away! 

Spinel battled herself to feel safe with Steven, safe and secure that he won't leave her. It was hard for her to reach this point, but with how much time they've been spending together - she was starting, little by little, to let go of her fears. Little by little, baby steps… 

"About what… we've been doing." She doesn't have to know this comes from Connie or she'll think I’ve been brainwashed, "Doing everything together." 

Spinel softened down. 

"Yeah. I like to think of that too. It… makes my gem feel warm. Almost like when we…" 

She leaned over to him, supporting her weight on her hands, as she wanted to kiss him. 

But instead of his lips, she felt a palm against her lips eventually. Steven just held his hand against her mouth to keep her back. 

She leaned back, mildly shocked. And embarrassed. Was that the wrong time? What's going on? 

"...Steven?" 

She sounded so weak that for a moment he felt bad about it. 

"...Maybe we are bad for each other?"

NO!!!

"..what?" She asked, smallish. "Wh- what do you mean? Stevie? Is this a cruel prank?" 

Please be a joke please be a joke I'll forgive it please just be a joke. 

"I mean… all the people say… They do have a point. We're inseparable. We… can't be happy away from each other?"

"Of-of course we can't! We love each other and we make each other happy! That's… that's how love works… isn't it?"

The pauses Steven was making while keeping his expression neutral and saddened were the worst. 

"No, it's not that…" He bent down, covering his face, as if considering one last time before… cutting. Then he shot up and looked at her, deciding to be firm and direct about it. 

"We're bad for each other. We need to break up." 

Spinel just blinked at him. 

She had only felt the emotions she was feeling now - once in her life before. When she heard that Pink died. 

This time her silence was bad for Steven. He realized what was to come - explosion, damage, vulnerability, tears, all of that… harm. Self harm? 

She wasn't breaking the silence, hoping that he'll eventually say "Sike!". Hoping that he'll start laughing now and call her ridiculous for low-key believing this. Hoping that this was all a simulation inside the cloud room that she forgot she entered, and the real Steven was waiting outside. Hoping that this was a nightmare that she was about to wake up from. Hoping that she was hallucinating again. Hoping that Pink would appear out of nowhere now and say that everything in her life was a lie - she was ready to face that, and anything much worse. 

Just not the same betrayal twice.

"What do you mean?" She finally whispered. 

Hoo boy. 

"We're unhealthily dependant on each other. It's bad. We can't keep… being this way." 

"So you… want to stop spending time together… because you want to spend time together?" Her eyes darted around in worry and confusion. "What sort of… game is this?"

"Spinel, this isn't a game. Please, don't make this harder than it needs to be."

Steven jumped off his bed. 

He held onto his elbows for comfort. He heard a moving balloon noise - a hand stretched across the room and tugged on his jacket. Their universal sign for "Let me have your jacket." from Spinel. Usually done when she wanted to feel warm, or when she felt unsafe and needed comfort, or when they parted for some time. It always brought her a lot of comfort.  

Steven shooed her hand away. 

"Please, Spinel."

She reeled her hand back, putting her hands down together over her bent knees. 

She felt… in a way that she would not be able to put to words if her life depended on it. Even Spinel herself was surprised that her inner bomb wasn't going off at that. 

Probably because it wasn't sinking in yet. 

"I don't get it." 

Maybe Steven needed to say it in her own language?

"I don't want to play together anymore." 

On second thought, this was not a good way to phrase it. Steven braced for impact, for the "You're just like your mom!", for anything. He was ready for any sort of lash out. 

Just not for silence. 

A soft little "Oh." came from behind. 

He couldn't take it much longer. He turned around, ready to talk this out, while Spinel slowly stepped down to the wooden floor, and turned towards him. 

And then it sunk in. 

The fuse was set. 

"I see… well… that's… rather swell."

"Spinel?"

"No, no, I get it, I get it!" 

Her voice raised, as she held onto her hair, tugging it down. The fuse was nearing the bomb, sparking idly. 

"I get it. Had our fun, but no one said it- it- it was meant to last forever so it's just... not gonna, I guess! I get that!" 

And then it exploded. 

"I don't get it!!!"

Steven only stepped back as she shouted. 

"Everything that we did, everything we worked through, every therapy session and every fucking heart to heart talk!"

"Spinel?"

"Was all to break up because we're happy together? Steven, what the fuck?" 

"It's for the best. We need to be healthier!"

"For whom ?!"

"For people who care about us!"

"I care about you, doofus! What about it?" 

"It's bad for us. We literally can not separate, this… this is not okay, I've been avoiding some of my friends or not hugging them like I used to because - because I was worried about you reacting badly to it! Yeah, that's bad too! You're always trying to restrict that about me!"

"Oh, now I'm the bad guy?"

"Maybe you are!" Steven was shouting before thinking by now, "Came into my life trying to destroy it but then started to destroy it by… by… by becoming it!" 

Spinel stepped back, not even knowing how to react to that statement. She let go of her hair, revealing that it was going down anyways. 

"I can't focus on… this that way. You can't be my whole life, no matter how much I… want you to… that's not healthy..." 

Steven held onto his stomach with one hand, feeling close to throwing up from all the worry. His free hand was clenched into a fist, as he was trying hard not to cry and failing miserably. 

"It's not healthy… it's not… not for either of us."  

He looked up. Spinel was crying too. 

"Why'd you do that!" She shouted. 

The whole situation was painful. 

"Do what…?"

"Why'd you give me hope?!" She wailed, "Made me believe I found myself and my place and now you're just… taking it all away..." 

"That's the point! You can't base your happiness and who you are on someone else! Even if you love them!" 

"Why not?!"

"Because it's wrong! It's not-"

"If you say "healthy" one more time I swear- "

She raised her fist up. Usually Steven knew that he only had to turn the other cheek to avoid it being landed. But this time he summoned his shield. 

"What was I supposed to base myself on?" She continued.

"Not me. I'm sorry-"

The fist landed over his shield, almost pushing Steven down. 

"Don't fucking say you are." 

"But I am! I should have known. You were… spiraling into this." Steven hit his forehead with his wrist, "And I was… enabling you. Just like the diamonds. I'm sor-"

Another fist landed, pushing Steven a meter away from Spinel, as she reeled her enlarged hands back. 

Spinel advanced, landing more hits over his shield. Steven knew somewhere deep inside that she didn’t want to hurt him, she just wanted to be mad. But it was getting hard to believe it when she seemingly tried to demolish his shield, all while screaming and crying her soul out. 

Steven only shielded further, building more mental walls against her. 

For the best, for the best, for the health, for her health… 

Spinel raged until her mental powers gave out. But instead of the usual explosion-vulnerability, something else and entirely new was happening to her mentality. 

It was shattering. 

She built herself a perfect little world in a pink bubble where she was perfect for Steven. And now that he was gone - he wasn’t even gone but he wanted to be gone for her - she had… nothing. Emptiness inside of her, a hole where her heart would have been. Just like when she ripped it out of herself in her first attempt. Or when she fell onto the fence that was meant to shatter her, knowingly. 

But this hurt much worse. 

She stopped punching the shield, now placing her hands on it, still crying. Her love - her life - was right there, looking back at her through the walls he built, crying about it too!!! And just… not letting her in anymore. Nothing stood between them, just Steven’s shield, just Steven himself. 

Spinel fell to the floor, shaking. Just like she did when Steven refused to believe her in front of the Diamonds. 

“Why are you doing this to me?” She whined, “I gave you my heart I asked you to hold it…” 

“You need to learn to hold it yourself. For your own good.” He became a little less tense at her. Just a little. 

“I don’ need anythin’ for me…” 

“That’s the problem. You should.” 

“I don’ wan’...” She bent down, still crying it all out. 

In Steven’s mind, this was bad. This was awful. This is what he drove her to. Maybe he just didn’t need to break up with her? Then this wouldn’t happen. But wouldn’t it… still be there? Her dependency. What if this would happen later, for any other reason? Would it be worse? Spinel had to learn to exist for herself alone, no matter how much Steven just wanted to be with her. 

That’s what he told himself. 

Was he right? 

Spinel wasn’t quieting down, every time that she tried to - a new wave of tears came crashing her, as she realised that things wouldn’t be the same, and she could not just go and seek Steven’s comfort from this nightmare. And Steven just stood there, telling himself that he wasn’t doing the same mistake - he was doing the right thing. He wanted to believe that he was. But then why did it hurt so much?

For Spinel, she slowly felt a paralyzing numbness take over her and push her rage aside. Suddenly she was empty. Hollow. Her gem was cold, her world shattered. Or was it the other way around? She couldn't tell. She didn't want to tell, she didn't care. Didn't want to care about anything - she just wanted to die right now, to stop living this nightmare. 

Of course. It was all too good to be true. Just when she told herself she can trust and love again… 

No. She was right all along. There is no security, no comfort, no safety. And there will never be for her. 

She was not allowed to be happy. 

Finally, after a good while, Spinel stopped crying. Was that the vulnerability part? 

“Alright…” She whispered, with tension in her voice, before repeating more firmly “ Alright .” 

She sat up, placing her hands on her knees as she stood up. Her face still had tears streaming down the long ago ruined mascara, and it portrayed no good emotions. She still seemed mad. 

“Alright.” She turned away from him. 

Steven suddenly really wanted to say “I’m sorry.” 

“Spinel?” 

“Alright!” She was speaking through her clasped teeth, trying not to scream so that Steven could hear what was she saying. “You want a break up - you get a break up. That’s it! That’s all! Finita la commedia! I’m done! Goodbye.” 

She turned towards the exit of the room, and headed there. Her shoes weren’t making squeaky toy noises. Was she in control of that? 

“Is everything… okay?..”

“No!” She turned around - or rather stretched the upper part of her body to turn around at the boy. "No, nothing is okay about this! But fine, whatever! I lived 6000 years forgotten by everyone, I can do it again!" 

Worry set inside of Steven. Was she going to…? 

Spinel kept trying to exit the room - then she felt the unpredictable. She felt Steven run up to her and tug her hand from behind. 

It took all of her willpower not to imprint him into the other wall at that moment. 

"Let go." 

"I don't want you to harm-"

" Let. Go. " She shook him off, causing the boy to collapse on the floor. 

"You chose to let go of me - there you have it. I don't want to see you anymore. I'm not gonna try and shatter or poof myself again, or destroy your planet. This time I won't." 

Somehow he didn't expect this turnaround, but at this point Steven wasn't sure what did he expect or want to happen at all. 

"Turns out this isn't for me after all. But I always suspected, you know? I didn't have a single damn day go by when I didn't fear you leaving me. Guess I was right after all! Thanks!

She walked up the flight of stairs, and soon Steven heard her teleport away. 

He kept sitting down on the floor for some time. Quietly wondering if he truly did the right thing, if he should have done it differently? Somehow he didn't expect that she'd let go of him. Was it really for the better, where did she even go? 

Only time would tell what happens next. 

Steven took out his phone. How it hasn't cracked with Spinel trying to beat him up at least once a week was a mystery. One day she could… oh right, she just left. 

Steven typed and sent a single message. 

 

"your plan worked. hope you're happy" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Wonder what that means." 

Connie shrugged, placing her phone down after reading a message on it, as she munched on the cafeteria food. It was a sunny day at the space camp, things were looking up for her. 

"You got place here?" Some girl asked her, wanting to sit at the same table. 

"Sure, lemme just…" 

Connie grabbed her sword and moved it over, freeing space. 

"Thanks. Is that like a prop?" Asked the girl, sitting down next to her. 

"Oh, no it's not. I think I'll have to return it though." Connie pondered. 

"Like, it's for a cosplay, yeah? It's the size of you." 

"Yeah. I mean, it's not a cosplay thing. It's a real sword. I wield it. I guess I'll just leave it to the lion next time." 

"Lion?" 

"Yeah, it's sort of a pet to me. Well he lets me ride him and store things in his mane." She stuck the fork into the food again, prepping her head on her hand. 

The short haired girl next to her opened her mouth in shock. Then she gathered her thoughts, asking straight forward and not straight at all, 

"Are you single?" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Garnet stepped down from the warp pad, carefully walking along the gardening tools that Steven and Spinel had left all over their garden. 

It was their Garden, but without the proper care the flowers would wilt very soon. And she knew that. 

Garnet made her way through the thorny bushes of roses, stopping next to the two particularly big ones and shoving them apart, revealing a small hidden fuchsia gem that was curled up and crying. She knew she'd find her here. 

Spinel held her knees to her chest, and ran her hands around herself a few times, as if trying to cover away from the world. She glanced up momentarily when Garnet found her, quickly registering that it wasn't Steven, so she would not even bother to get up from where she was or shift her pose. 

"You were wrong. We didn't get through this." 

"Do you really think that's the end of it?" 

"Why wouldn't it be. We're… apparently bad for each other because we're happy together… I don't get it… but it makes sense to him, and… I can't force him to love me…" Spinel felt a jolt of shivers as her tears threatened to pour again, "I w-want him to be… happy…" 

She covered her face. It was a wonder how could one little gem contain so much liquid that now poured out down her face. 

"Love takes time to work through things together." Garnet got down on her knees next to her, keeping the bushes open.

"What love? He doesn't... want to be together. What's there to work out if it's… over?"

"Nothing is ever over forever." Garnet reached her hand towards Spinel. The small gem looked the other way, "Neither is our own friendship. Spinel, I didn't hate you the moment I got my memories back. And I don't hate you now. I never did. Sadie Killer is playing tonight, and if you want proof that things can change and stay the same at the same time - I invite you to go to a rock show with me." 

She kept her hand and the offer up. It took a good while before Spinel even looked at her. Garnet's soft well-wishing smile was met with a look of hopelessness and pain. But Spinel eventually took her hand. 

As she followed Garnet out of the garden - she blamed herself. Spinel held herself for some sort of comfort, every single voice in her head saying that she was making the same mistake. She was hoping to find some sort of security with her. And she hated herself for it not even being a few hours since her last comfort person broke her heart. 

Was that her fate, ultimately? For people to toy with her feelings and leave her? 

She stepped onto the warp pad thinking so. 

It's just that she felt too numb to care that she was probably getting herself used by someone all over again. She didn't care. She wanted something - anything to take her mind off this numbing pain that was making the world feel grey around her. But even Garnet's presence wasn't working, neither was her hand on Spinel's shoulder doing anything for her, as they warped away. 

Sadie really did perform that night, but she took requests rather than showcase new songs. Garnet whispered something to her, then made her way over to Spinel. 

Spinel barely registered where she was. Flashing lights and people holding glowsticks and moving in sharp motions around her, as some sort of filler song played. They were drinking and screaming along the words of the songs, dancing happily and living a happy life. This was awful. Why were they so happy, why were they all allowed to be happy while Spinel was so sad and helpless? 

Garnet made her way through the crowd and stood next to her, as the new song started playing. 

"Just let the rhythm take you." She hinted, tapping her feet to the growing rhythm. 

Sadie held her microphone tight on the stage, "This ones goes out to the ultimate best friend!" She said vaguely. 

Are you listening?

Hear me talk. Hear me sing.

Open up the door,

Is it less, is it more?

Spinel just stared at Garnet, who was dancing in a strict and almost robotic fashion, her movements synchronised with the rhythm of the song. 

When you tell me to beware,

Are you here? Are you there?

Is it something I should know?

Easy come, easy go.

She felt awkward leaving Garnet out, now that everyone else stepped back and it was the two of them in the middle of the dancefloor, so she let herself tap her feet to the song and bounce up and down, mildly. Just to get the feeling of the rhythm… 

Nodding your head,

Don't hear a word I said

I can't communicate, when you wait, don't relate

Something about the words she sang… struck a chord on Spinel's heartstrings. She started to sway her hands up and around, just like the people around did. 

I try to talk to you

But you never even knew,

The people around... were dancing chaotically, each doing their own moves they knew, or just came up with on the fly.

So what's it gonna be?

So maybe she could let go too?

Tell me can you hear me?

The beat dropped, and Spinel unhinged. 

I'm so sick of it,

Your attention deficit

Never listen, never listen.

I'm so sick of it,

So I'll throw another fit.

Never listen, never listen.

Garnet fastened her own dance, while she saw Spinel twist and swing all around the dancefloor. No wonder she danced twister somewhere in there, everything about her resembled early cartoons of 30's. And Garnet knew of those.

I scream your name,

It always stays the same.

She reached her hand, hooking it around Spinel's own, as they circled each other, wiggling a finger up on each side, 

I scream and shout,

So what I'm gonna do now

Is freak the fuck out, hey!

Sadie sang and showcased her voice, deep inside feeling so happy that she got to perform one of her favourite childhood songs on stage now. She watched the two gems dance. At first they started out dancing each their own, but as she sang, their movements became more and more synchronised. 

Patience running thin,

Running thin, come again

Tell me what I get

Opposite, opposite.

Spinel let go of Garnet's elbow hook, but kept her hand holding onto her own, letting the bigger gem support her as she leaned all the way back, till she was looking at people around upside down. 

Show me what is real

If it breaks does it heal?

Open up your ear

Why you think that I'm here?

It still hurt and the world was grey. But… suddenly she felt… lighter. Easier. She was here. And be it that Steven… was never coming back - she was here now. Dancing. Garnet was smiling at her. 

Keep me in the dark

Are you even thinking of me?

Is someone else above me

Gotta know, gotta know

Garnet raised her back up, connecting both of their hands as she brought her closer and spun around. And then both leaned back, holding onto each other to support each other. 

Spine wished she was doing it with Steven. 

But then… she smiled mildly. 

What am I gonna do?

'Cause I can't get through to you

Steven let go of her. 

So what's it gonna be?

And Garnet was here, holding her, suddenly bringing her closer and...

Tell me can you hear me?

There was a bright flash of light.

(Can you hear me?)

A new gem formed. Three eyes, two legs, four arms, and two hearts, one filled with love and one with pain. 

I'm so sick of it,

Your attention deficit

Never listen, never listen.

And it danced to the beat like nothing happened, although the movements were far more unsynchronised. As if two people tried to move in a single costume awkwardly. 

I'm so sick of it,

So I'll throw another fit.

Never listen, never listen.

Things became blurry in the fusion’s eyes. She stepped back, freeing the dancefloor that she stood tall above, and holding onto her head with her two lower, much more noodlier arms. 

I scream your name,

It always stays the same.

The tall fusion sat down and hid her head down, closing her eyes, going deep inside. The music slowly faded. 

I scream and shout,

So what I'm gonna do now

Is freak the fuck out… 

 

Spinel jerked her head up, still holding onto it, suddenly in complete silence, with very faint sounds of the song playing in the background of this place… where was she? 

She looked around. It was an endlessly empty space, painted with blue and some red shades. Garnet was there, sitting with her legs crossed, and her hands held together. 

And the two weren’t really alone. There were butterflies, shining butterflies. And they all circled the two, some of them landing over Spinel and even trying to blur her vision further. She found it hard to breath. 

“Just breathe. Slow, in and out. They can’t hurt you. Nothing can here.” 

“I know.” She replied knowingly, as she’s been in this fusion-mindspace before, closing her eyes shut, “I know it can’t here, but… but it can! At any moment, when and where I least expect it! I was…” She sobbed, “I was trying so hard to feel safe again… to love again, to trust again… I just couldn’t! I felt pain that I tried to drown out every single day! Pain of the fears that he was going to leave me behind, I feared it, I knew it could happen - and I still wasn’t ready!” 

“What do you want to do now, Spinel?” 

Garnet reached her hand out, letting some butterflies sit on it. 

Spinel knew the answer to that all too well, but she gathered her thoughts before replying, now sobbing less, although still pained by her own words, 

“I just want to be with Steven and make him happy. He’s… so good, so wonderful. I just want to be making him happy all the time… Nothing else.”

“What about you?”

“Nothing about me.” 

“He loves you.”

“I don’t think so.”

“He does. And he cares about you, just like you care about him. And he wants you to be happy too.”

“He makes… made me happy.” 

“And he wants you to have more than just himself. He wants you to have a full happy life too. Don’t you feel the same?” 

Spinel couldn’t lie, not in here, not to Garnet. More butterflies sat on and around her. 

“No. I want him all to myself.” 

“But you know the world makes him happy. His life, his friends, his family.” 

“Yes…”

“And you want him happy.”

“Yes…….”

“Would he be happy away from it all?”

“No…” 

“Spinel.” 

She wasn’t looking at Garnet. 

“You can make him happy, and be with him - while he has his own life too, and you have your own. You can still belong together while you are apart.” She knew that all too well. 

The pink gem shifted her expression, looking up in doubt.

“And he won’t want to be with anyone else, even if he meets new gems and people, and life forms. Because love isn’t about going for “the best”. It’s about going for the one meant for you, and the one you’re meant for. So long you have this bond - nothing will ever break it.”

“But- but he just broke it!” 

“Is it broken though?” Garnet smiled, knowingly. “Did you stop loving him?”

“No.” 

“Do you think he no longer loves you? Do you really believe he does not?” 

Spinel stayed quiet. 

“Let him go. If he’s meant for you - he’ll come back to you. And if he doesn’t - then he wasn’t the one.”

“What if he doesn’t?” She asked in a defeated tone. 

“Do you believe that he won’t?” 

Spinel replied nothing. She sat up to mirror Garnet’s pose, and uttered two words. 

“Thank you.” 

Garnet smiled at her, putting her glasses away. Facing her eye to eyes. 

“Now. Let’s let Rubellite have a fun night out there, can we?” 

Spinel nodded, closed her eyes and concentrated… 

 

Whoa oh oh, whoa oh oh!

Rubellite got up from her knees and let go of her head. The gem looked at herself, seeing the reflections of herself in the mirrors and shiny surfaces around. 

Her hair and her shades had a form of a heart. So did her shoulder pads, from which two strong Garnet’s-like hands came out of. Her second set of hands came out lower on her body, and they resembled Spinel’s hands much more. Down her torso a seemingly tunic that separated into blue and red colours fell over wide hips, supported by two strong legs with pointy shoes. Rubellite was only a little bit taller than Garnet. The three eyes darted around curiously. The top and lower left eye seemed to follow the same direction, while the third one went awry. 

The fusion picked up on the beat and continued to dance, experiencing herself and her bond of friendship for the rest of the night. 

I scream your name,

It always stays the same.

I scream and shout,

So what I'm gonna do now

Is freak the fuck out, hey!

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The two gems headed out of the club, looking up at the starry sky. 

“Thank you again.” Spinel said, holding her hands together and fidgeting awkwardly. 

“That’s what friends do. You can come here and see me anytime you want to, know that.” 

Spinel was about to say that she was going away now, so she realised Garnet saw that coming and replied ahead. Talking to someone who knows what you’re about to say sure is an experience. 

“Also.” 

Spinel waited, to see if Garnet would reply right away again. It seems Garnet saw too many different possibilities to see where Spinel was going with this now. 

“Please. Don’t tell anyone about…”

“I won’t.” Garnet replied at first, “But I don’t promise to keep it that way if your health will depend on it.” 

That was vague, and the word “health” made Spinel shudder. But she thanked Garnet and headed off, to the Little Homeworld. To use the warp in there to get home, rather than risk walking past Steven to get home. 

Home… Homeworld wasn't her home, it didn't feel like her home. She just had a place to live there - a room. 

She walked slowly in the dark of the night, holding onto herself. “Healthy”? Was she not healthy for Steven? Was she really bad for him all along? She faced the hard question of whether she wanted him to be happy, or she really wanted him all to herself - to be happy herself. 

Spinel stopped in place. 

“Oh.” 

All that time she thought she was obsessed and would rather die than lose Steven - and she still wanted to die now. 

But what she didn’t want was to make him sad. She could have stormed in and steal him and take him away where he’d be all hers, like she dreamt of… But now, actually faced with the situation she dreaded and possibilities to do it all - she didn’t want to. 

She didn’t want to. She didn’t want to make him sad. To have him crying to go home at the cost of being her own. Be it that he no longer needed her - she wanted him happy more than she wanted him - all to herself. 

She fell to her knees. It only took to lose it all to discover that wasn’t the monster she always thought she was.

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“Oh, Spinel? You’re back already?” White Diamond said in a happy tone. “What about Steven, will he come to visit you and stay here next?” 

Spinel only squinted her eyes at her, exhausted, slowly making her way towards her room. Her hands dragged behind her on the floor helplessly. 

Her room, Pink’s room, Steven’s room. Who cares? She let the pebbles keep it as a mirror image of Steven’s room, spare for one installed difference. The Diamonds got her a new soft bed in the shape of her gem - of a heart. It was placed where Steven's bed used to be. They let her have soft pink pillows and blankets on it too - to mirror Steven’s need for nightly comfort. Spinel had no need for it - she didn’t sleep. Although she did relish chilling up there sometimes. 

She saw Pink Pearl on her way to her room. 

“Did Pink have enough playing with you?” 

Spinel had no energy for this. None to correct her and tell her that Pink was gone, none to note that it seemingly was true and cut her deep. She just walked by her, launching herself up onto the upper floor and flopping down on the soft pink bed, letting her limbs loose and spill all around like a knocked over bowl of spaghetti. 

Pink Pearl left her alone. But Spinel wasn’t left alone for too long this time - Blue and Yellow Pearls came over right as she thought she could finally stay alone and cry her eyes out where no one saw her. She even started to, letting her black mascara ruin the pink sheets and pillows. 

“What’d happen?” Asked Yellow Pearl, jumping up on her bed along with Blue Pearl. 

"I don't wanna talk about it…" Spinel replied, burying her head into the silky blanket. 

The two pearls exchanged a look. Yellow carefully reached for the beginning of Spinel's ponytail - and tugged it to undo the ostensible ribbon that held it together. Usually Spinel would not be very excited to let anyone touch her or her hair, but right now she could not care less. Her limbs were already sprawled all over the place, although she felt Blue Pearl collect them up and tuck up to her nicely. She reeled her limbs back, gaining her usual proportions again, and crossing her hands around her hidden head, as she let her hair down. Two pigtails morphed into a solid hair from her head and fell down. 

Yellow exchanged a look with Blue. They sat each by Spinel's side, separating her hair into two parts at first, then splitting that into three equal batches and braiding them. 

Under normal circumstances Spinel would have given it a lot of thought right away. Her whole body was marked as a red No Touchy zone, especially for anyone who wasn't Steven. But those two… Two little Pearls wouldn't be able to harm her from her back, she concluded, willing herself to relax somewhat. Then she tried to care again. They barely knew her, but this wasn't the first time they hanged out around her, like they were… friends. She felt her face turn red a little, as she felt Blue ran her fingers through the roots of her hair, gathering more and splitting it into measured parts she was about to braid.

"Did the Earthlings hurt you?" Yellow Pearl tried to tease her. 

"I think we should let her tell us when she wants to. No pressure." 

"Eh. Whatever." 

Blue and Yellow pearls were known for their borderline romantic relationship that had lasted for millennias. Rumour had it they were very much romantic with each other when no one else saw them. And they had an open relationship too - they had invited Pink Pearl in to be surrounded by love now that she needed support more than ever. And the invitation was always open for Pink's last Pearl, but she never even considered. If only she didn't act like she was "above them" for wearing pants. 

"You know, we've asked Pearl to join us before." Yellow hummed while she braided Spinel's hair, "If only she wasn't acting like she's "above us" for wearing pants." 

"She sure does… wear pants." Spinel attempted to communicate. She knew she couldn't isolate, not now, although she wanted to. 

"And Pip. But she's been spiraling lately." 

"She's been getting worse with each solar rotation." Blue Pearl continued. 

"Each planetary rotation lately. Have you noticed? She put on some pants." 

"She did?" 

"Yeah, didn't you see her?" 

"I think so… she asked something about Pink…" 

"That's the problem." Blue whispered in a concerned tone, "She's starting to think that Pink is still around. She put on pants that resemble Pink's ones." 

"Why don't'cha give her a therapy?" Spinel shifted her pose, finally raising her head from having it buried in the sheets. She raised her legs from behind, letting them sway in the air. 

"We tried. I mean, I think we're decent enough at ourselves to be helping others at it. Look at me, it's been two and a half solar rotations, and I now know that my feelings are relevant." 

"And I draw so much better." 

"And we love being free! But it's different for Pip. She's…" 

"She recently asked if Pink left her because she wasn't good enough for her." 

Spinel turned her head at Blue Pearl rapidly, causing both Pearls to lose what they were braiding. They were almost done anyways. 

"Luckily, we had an idea." Yellow leaned on her hand, and gestured with the other one, like a diva, "An episode of our talk show dedicated to the victims of Pink Diamond!"

"Previous Pink Diamond." 

"And you are just what we need for it, besides Pip. I'm sure it'll make her feel better if she sees that she's not alone." 

So they had a use for Spinel. But… it sounded like they also offered her help. 

"We can even get Steven in it, I bet he has a lot of pain that he inherited from-"

"No!" 

The two Pearls leaned back, as Spinel sat up.

"I mean… fine, I'll come to your show, but no Steven there. He won't want to be there anyways." 

"How come?" 

Spinel really didn't want to answer. Or rehearse the pain again. Yet she'd be lying if she said she wasn't still hurt and doing her best to suppress that pain, and all those desires to shout about being hurt by Pink and Steven. 

"He… doesn't want to see me." 

"Jee, what'd you have to do to make him not want to see you? He befriends like everything that tries to kill him." 

Spinel chuckled in a clearly fake way, "I did worse! I made him happy." 

The two didn't get the joke. 

"When's your show?"

"It airs right after Keeping Up With Zicrons today. So in a good while from now on, I'd say."

"Let us show you what changed while you were on Earth." Suggested Blue Pearl, "I've drawn you a few times." 

She summoned her little blue pad with drawings. 

"They're sketches, but here. It's… fanart for some of the tricks you've shown us." 

Spinel took the blue pad into her hands, swiping through the illustrations of her doing handstands, stretching out for jokes, and juggling. Something about that… made her feel. It made her feel emotions yet again. First the comfort of their presence, now the drawings that made her… smile. Blue Pearl took her time and thought of her and her actions as she drew that. It was… heartwarming. 

Spinel sobbed. 

"I'm so sorry, is it that bad?" Blue held her hands together in worry.

"No, sorry, they're wonderful, I'm just so touched…" 

It was half true. Half of Spinel was crying because it touched her deeply that she was so appreciated by the two. The other half wished Steven would have drawn her. 

Steven… 

Spinel cried more, dropping the pad onto the bed and bending over, succumbing to another crying attack. 

"What's wrong?" 

"You don't look like you're crying happy?" 

"He left me…" Spinel sobbed. "He said he doesn't want to see me anymore!" 

"Pfft. That's all? My Diamond tells me that all the time now." Yellow Pearl tried to make her feel better. 

Unsuccessfully. 

"Nooo, it's not like that… we spent so long together… we… we…" she gripped the sheets. "And then he just told me to leave…"

Blue Pearl pet her back, while Yellow patted her shoulder. 

"There, there. Surely he wouldn't leave you forever. Look at yourself. You're wonderful. Who wouldn't want you around?"

"We'd accept you in if you wanted." 

"And we don't say that to anyone often." 

Why were they nice? Why were they nice to her? They knew nothing of her evil deeds, they didn't have to fear her destroying the planet or herself. Then what did they comfort her for? She couldn't get it. 

But she accepted it. She longed for any comfort she could get now. 

Blue Pearl wiped a tear off Spinel's face with a thumb. 

"Let's help you look better for the show, and we can fetch Pip while we're at it." Blue Pearl smiled reassuringly, holding her hands down. 

"Yeah. We'll… need your help. She hasn't exactly been down to communicate lately, we might not do without your abilities to stretch and catch." Yellow Pearl chuckled about something she knew. 

Spinel nodded. She could do that. 

 

~ ~ ~

 

"Lapis and Spinel wouldn't fuse well." 

Garnet voiced that out of nowhere, sitting down on the couch back at home. Pearl, who was going through organizing her saved phone numbers, asked without raising her head from the papers, 

"How so?" 

"They have the same problem with fusing."

"Problem?" Pearl raised her head. 

"Malachite never formed a personality because Lapis did not in the slightest trust Jasper. In the case of that - a fusion serves like a vessel for two or more gems to control." 

"That's true, but what does that have to do with the two? Do you think Spinel doesn't trust Lapis? Why would they even fuse?" 

"It's not that they will. It's that Spinel doesn't fuse. Even with me she did not let her guard down, and Rubellite came out without her own personality. The mindspace was very vivid." 

"So then…" Pearl placed down the pencil she was holding, now meaning business as she asked, "Pink Calcite…?"

"Isn't a fusion. It's their trench coat. No wonder the two sets of eyes always looked in the different directions." 

Pearl leaned back in the couch, crossing her hands and looking concerned. 

"I didn't think Spinel still had it that bad." 

"No one did. But she's still unstable and insecure." 

"There's hoping for Steven to heal her from it. He did pull all three of us from being insecure, dependant, obsessed…"

She made a pause. The floor creaked above. 

"We need to ask Steven if Spinel's alright." 

"We broke up, remember?" 

The two looked up at the boy on the staircase. 

"For how long did you stand there?" 

"I got here just now. I don't know where Spinel is…" 

Steven looked worse for the wear as he stepped down. This break up wasn't affecting him in any good way. 

"You still haven't made up?" Pearl asked, concerned. 

"What? No, and we won't." Steven crossed and uncrossed his hands, shooing away the very idea of that happening, "We weren't good for each other…" 

He almost asked them if he was right. 

Pearl and Garnet exchanged looks. 

"He has to figure this out on his own." 

Garnet said what Steven needed to hear, but not what he wanted. He wanted any sort of guidance. And at the same time didn't know whom could he ever trust about it. 

He made his way outside. It was a shining morning, and the day was going to be fine. He smiled. Now he'll go wake up Spinel and… oh right, she's gone. 

He frowned. This would take some getting used to.

Chapter Text

Okay. He can do this. After all, that's what Steven wanted. He was not unhealthily attached now. Okay. He was on his own now. 

Steven stood outside his house. Alright, what did he have to do now? He was planning to go to the town and show Spinel the… oh right, she's gone. 

What did he even do before she came into his life? Steven was shocked to realise he couldn't remember. He never planned that far out, somehow he didn't connect that letting Spinel go would actually mean living without her. 

Well. What did he do? He had his other friends, right. Well he already saw Pearl and Garnet today, so… 

Steven looked at the Little Homeworld in the distance. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Right, so this was really cool. He would get to hug his friends with no fear of Spinel’s inner bomb setting off! There goes Peridot, running towards him happily! Aww, yeah! There Steven goes, hugging her, lifting her up and twirling around, and telling her he’s glad to see her. 

Then he puts her down and she runs off, to carry on with her daily matters of building the Little Homeworld. 

Well. There was the fun hug part. And now Steven was alone again… Was it worth the price?

Steven shook his head. Alright, concentrate. This is all because you’ve been unhealthily attached for the past two or so weeks. You’re free now. Just need to get the hang of things again. Right, so he’ll turn around now, call Spinel over, and then go to… oh right, she’s gone. 

Steven strolled through the town, watching the gems each do their part of building a new home on Earth. He joined in their talks and helped them here and there. The Heaven and Earth beetles (were they meant to be addressed as beetles now?) sure loved to see him. They talked all about the citizens of the New Homeworld, and how happy they were to be back doing what they were meant for, whatever that was. But the only thing Steven really remembered about their talk was how they kept holding hands together and laughing, and as he walked away from them he saw one kiss the other on the cheek. 

Were the gems around always so… lovey dovey with each other? Or was it always there, waiting to show once he'd stay alone himself? 

The sun was high up. It wasn't even noon yet, and there was nothing to do. No one to show the places around to and no one to tell about little human things. And no one's hand to hold… 

The boy clenched his fists, neatly hidden in the pockets of his organic jacket. At least he got to keep his jacket on at any time now. Was it worth it? 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

It must have been an eternity and the clock must have been broken. It couldn't have only been a single hour that took Steven to walk through the whole Beach City and back again. Why did the time suddenly slow down so much, why did every second feel so long? 

Is that how time felt when Spinel stood in the Garden? 

Spinel… 

No, he could not be thinking of her now… but he probably should have. 

Steven sat down on the bench, putting one leg over the other. So, they were together, inseparable. They shared everything. Any thought, a breath, a few kisses. An awkward moment (Oh gosh, did Steven basically dump her after a one night stand?), a heart to heart… several of those. And it always felt so… pleasant. When he'd just get to tell her how he felt and about her and comfort her. It was so nice to feel and see that he was making a change for her. To be longed for - oh how she longed for him, sometimes wrapping her whole self around him and giggling as the sense of security would wash over both of them… 

Steven chuckled, remembering the cutest moments they shared… and then he stopped laughing. No, it was wrong… but, then why did it feel so good? He leaned forward, holding onto his head. It was wrong to be with her like that, that's what everyone around said! So why'd he feel so good with her and thinking of her now? 

Actually, now that he thought of it… the happy memories gained a sad tint in his eyes.

She was laughing with him. And now she was gone. She held his hand and was so excited just to be there with him. And now she was gone. She always found a way to cheer him up when he felt down himself. And now she was gone. She loved him and now… 

She's gone. 

Steven held onto his head tighter, taking a moment to wipe the small tears that threatened to pour down his face. 

This couldn't be right. Something was wrong. Was it what he did or what they did together? He was so happy with her, was that wrong? Was he not supposed to? What'd they do, they played and laughed and kissed and cuddled. Was that bad? 

No, no it wasn't! Then why did it feel so wrong, and why… did it feel so sad to think about now? 

Because it was never coming back! 

Steven shot up and hurried home. He needed the security of being alone right now…

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The security of being all alone so he could cry his eyes out. 

Steven laid on his bed, curled in a fetal position, holding onto the pillow in his hands and crying into it. It served as a good soundproof device. 

What was this? Why did he just want to cry and why did he already want her back? 

This was probably the problem. The unhealthy part. He was dependant on her. So then… maybe he should have set off and go looking for her and beg her to be with him again? Where would he even look for her? Was that right? 

Steven held onto the pillow tighter. No, this wasn't okay. Was this love? It could be, it felt more like a loss. 

He just had to make it through this part here. To stop being dependant on her. To live without her, oh he did not want to… 

Steven sat up. 

Get yourself together! 

But he quickly returned to crying, feeling another surge of tears coming forth. 

That's fine. It hurt like hell, but it would be fine eventually. He'll cry his eyes all out now, and feel better and lighter later. That’s what happens when you let yourself cry it all out. Right. He’ll get there. For now, he'll cry… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"And today we are airing a new program. A special one - a support group type of meeting for…" Yellow Pearl held a dramatic pause, pressing the buttons that played a drum roll for them, "The victims of the previous Pink Diamond! Woohoo, let's hear it out for Pink Pearl and a Spinel!" 

The gem audience clapped at the two pink gems who sat over pink cushions. 

Blue Pearl took charge, 

"For those new here we remind that by "previous Pink Diamond" we mean the one who died with the beginning of Era 2, presumably shattered by a Rose Quartz soldier. The war mystery is still not unraveled completely… but it should be known that this Pink Diamond had nothing to do with Steven the Pink Diamond of Era 3." 

"Indeed. Now, let's hear whom have we here today." Yellow grabbed a diamond shaped microphone and made her way to the two pink gems, sitting up behind their chairs and posing dramatically, as she shoved the microphone towards Pink Pearl and asked, 

"Identify yourself." 

"Uhm, Pink Pearl. Custody of Pink Diamond. I go by Pip." 

"Is that whose clothing style you're trying to resemble with your… attire?" 

Yellow glanced down, seeing that Pink Pearl had copied the whole lower part of Pink Diamond's attire by now. 

"I must look better for my Diamond." She gave a brief Diamond salute. 

"Ma'am, are you aware she's gone?" Was asked of her out of nowhere. 

Pip looked mortified, as if she was just deeply offended with a three roof insult of her non existent ancestors. She knocked the microphone out of Yellow's hand. 

Every gem held the breaths they didn't need. 

Spinel stretched her hand, picking the microphone up and giving it back to Yellow Pearl. Yellow twirled around and sat down facing Spinel now. 

"Aaanyways. Identify yourself." 

"Spinel. A best friend…" 

Trans? Steven's best friend? Donut enthusiast?

"So, tell me, Spinel. What purpose were you made for?"

"I was gifted to Pink Diamond-"

" Previous Pink Diamond," interrupted Blue Pearl. 

Spinel glared. 

"I was gifted to the previous Pink Diamond along with a beautiful garden. It was… meant to be a special place where I played a role of her… best friend."

"Mhm, mhm, and how'd that make you feel?" 

"Well it… made me feel…" Spinel paused, at a loss of a word for it. 

She used to be happy with Pink. But… was it true? Was it a true happiness or just in her head, in her blind little mind? 

Seeing that she wasn't replying, Yellow carried on, 

"And what did she do to you?" 

This time Spinel knew what to say, as she instantly grabbed the microphone from her hand and brought it closer, along with Yellow's hand, causing the latter to bend forward to keep her balance, 

"She left me to play a little game while she lived a whole damn life." 

"What game was that?"

"The game of standing still for 6000 thousand years and waiting for her to come back." 

Spinel felt that she was heating up in sense of her anger. Nearby, Pip closed her ears, trying to ignore her words. 

"But plot twist to the story: I was never meant to win! She just died, never questioning what would happen to me. She died hoping I would rot away with the Garden. She died knowing that she'll never see me again. She died having moved on without me, just like, just like-" her voice trembled. 

Pip jumped up from her seat, grabbing the microphone away, 

"Just shut up, will you? You're not the only one she left! And you're not the most important to her either!" 

After a momentary shock, Spinel growled, standing up to face off Pip. But Pip had no intention to fight - she just fell to the floor, clutching the microphone, crying her soul out. 

"And now uh a drawing lesson. Open your pads…" Blue Pearl dragged some switches and pushed some buttons, replacing the main camera with the one that was focused on her and her drawing pad. 

"Today we'll learn perspective. So, pick a dot anywhere on the board, and draw some straight lines coming from it…" 

Blue muted the rest of the room while she was at it, giving Yellow and Spinel some time to make Pink Pearl calm down and let go of the microphone. 

Pip cried, cried loudly, holding onto the object in her hands and cursing everyone to leave her alone. While Yellow tried her best to somewhat soothe her - Spinel could only stand and watch. Is that how she looked, crying over losing Steven? 

Steven… 

Spinel held onto her gem. He wasn't here, he was never coming back. Why was it getting dark in the room all of a sudden? 

Oh no. Oh no… 

Spinel slid down to her knees. Just breathe. She could do this. She could handle it. She was hyperventilating. She was doing it and she couldn't stop herself. But she had to. For… for whom? Steven wasn't coming back to her, so for whom? For herself. Garnet said to care about herself… but Garnet wasn't here now. 

Then who, who was there for her now?... 

Spinel was. She was there on her own, in a room filled with gems, all alone. 

She clenched her fists. So to hell with being needed and loved and wanted… she'll need and love and want herself, since no one else is going to, apparently. 

It got light in the room again. 

Spinel stood up, her breathing calm and even. She made her way over to the Pink Pearl, whom Yellow Pearl barely managed to make sit up. Spinel kneeled down next to the crying gem. 

Then she showed her the back of her hand. 

Shocked and hurt with that slap, Pip reminded her of someone at that moment - of her own baby self. 

"Get it together. She's gone and she's never coming back. We live for ourselves now."

For Pip it was not convincing in the slightest. But she lowered her head, no longer crying it all out, and reached the microphone for Yellow to grab again. 

"I guess we won't be airing episode two anytime soon." She grimaced. 

The two pink gems apologized. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

This wasn’t helping. Steven already cried out everything he had in himself - he could have sworn he cried out more water than he drank that day. But it just wasn’t helping. 

He probably needed a little more time to be sad over it, just a little more. And then it’ll be fine. 

Steven raised up from his bed. Maybe he can ask Spinel to hold him while he- Oh right. 

She’s gone. 

She’s gone and he did it. 

Did he feel better? Did anything get better? 

Steven wanted an answer to a single question. He would have given anything right now just to know: 

Did he miss her because it was true love, or because it was an unhealthy obsession? 

Every argument that he thought of for both sides of this dilemma was contradicting one another. 

What if it was true love, and it hurt because he lost it? But then how come it hurt so badly, maybe true love wouldn’t hurt so much? Then again, love is about being together, and they were apart. But… but… 

Steven rubbed his eyes, they were getting itchy from all the crying. 

What had he done? 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Dig up the dirt. Plant a seed. Cover it. Add water. 

The flowers didn’t bloom the moment they were planted now. Steven wasn’t kissing them. Spinel thought it was symbolic of her path of healing. 

Steven made walking it seem so easy. Like one of their countless walks in the park or by the beach. He made beautiful things bloom out of seemingly nothing in a matter of seconds. 

But that’s not how things worked. True flowers of progress would take a lot of time and effort to grow, and a lot of care to grow healthily. 

Spinel saw that now. And she’d work on that now. She’d heal. 

Maybe she’ll be aromantic? Steven told her that’s when people don’t experience cravings for romance. But she craved it… Then again, she could crave it without actually wanting to have it. Just like asexuality. 

Maybe she’ll spend her time watching soap operas. Her time that was free of gardening anyways. She’s been in the garden for a few hours now, cleaning up and planting flowers. 

Maybe she’ll be an engineer. 

Spinel got up from her knees. She grabbed the tools and moved on to another space that could use some work on it. There was a tall rock in the place (was it always there?). She placed down the tools, and climbed on it, looking up at the starry sky. 

The stars looked so close by… It’s like she could reach her hand out and… 

Her hand. Spinel looked at the bite marks on it. She remembered. 

Right. 

It was barely a while before she came to the garden, that she was crying her eyes out, calling Steven’s name, letting it sink in that he was never coming back, and biting her hands while she was at it. It felt bad, but when it hurt - it made her forget the other pain just for a second… 

But the downside was that the bite marks stayed. She was no longer sad now, but the marks were there, reminding her that she almost permanently altered her appearance because of her pain. 

What if…

She gasped, closing her mouth with her hands. 

What if one day all that I’ll have on the outside will be the scars of the pain I’m getting?

She took a step back, disturbed by her own thoughts. No, she could not, she could not… 

She could not allow to be hurt anymore. 

Was it going to work? No, of course not. Pain would always be there, such is life. 

So at least… she clenched her fists, looking at the trembling limbs. So at least she would make sure she won’t trust easily, and attach easily. Maybe then she’ll avoid being backstabbed to some degree. 

Looking up at the sky, she took another step back - and fell from the rock she was standing on.

That hurt, and now she was laying on the ground, sprawled out. Oh well. Life hurts. She stared up. Life sucks, but at least she was alive. And she could leave the garden now… 

The stars were so beautiful. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven stepped outside and sat down on the stairs outside of his room, looking up at the endless sky. 

The stars were so beautiful. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"You could probably see the Homeworld from here." 

"You could probably see his planet's solar system from here."

"I wonder what is she doing right now."

"I wonder what is he doing right now."

"I hope she's safe. She promised to be safe… why can't I stop thinking of her? Why?"

"Probably met up with Connie or spending time with his other friends. Laughing and smiling and playing and moving on from me..."

"What have I done. I've done nothing but cry about needing her whole day. Will this ever stop? I probably played the role of mom's fountain whole day…" 

"I should have known it'd be this way. He got tired… now he'll find a next toy that will make him happy. Then another… and his life will go on without me… Why am I surprised the son of Pink Diamond did this to me?"

"I don't even know what I want anymore. I need her, but… I need to… need to learn to live without her." 

"I need to learn to live without him."

"Mmm but I don't want to!"

"I don't have a choice… again."

"I just want to see her…"

"He probably doesn't even want to remember I exist. Probably already had a party without me…"

"Stop it stop it you're starting to hyperventilate stop thinking of this…" 

"After all, I'm already stronger. I handle my panic attacks better now. Not perfect, but better."

"I can't do this, I can't do this…" 

"I'm a strong gem now. I can do this. I'll get there."


~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven ran back inside, towards the bathroom where he washed his face in the cold water. This was just the first day. He saved the galaxy, he could do this too… he could do this. 

Steven wasn't convincing himself. After a long and tiring day of doing nothing he crawled under the blanket on his bed, ready to sleep it all away. To sleep this whole nightmare away and wake up feeling better. Now he'll turn to the side and grab Spinel's hand and feel at home… oh right. She's gone. 

And oh, right, he forgot his pajama. Without getting out of bed Steven reached for the pink pants in the bed stand. And it suddenly occurred to him that he no longer had to split his pajama with Spinel getting the flannel. He got to wear full pajama again. 

Isn't that lovely? 

Was it worth the prize? 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

There were… a plenty of upsides to this, he just wasn't concentrating on them. 

For one, he had a lot of free time now! 

Steven looked around the dark room, as he laid with his hands over the covers. 

Alright, well… maybe someone else with a lot of things to do would love that? To be free to do all their plans all the time they wanted to. Yeah. Romance is not the necessary part of life. There's plenty of things to relish and a wonderful fulfilled life to be had without romance at all. So many people do so many great things on their own. Yeah. Living for yourself rocks!

...It's just that it wasn't for Steven. 

The boy already saved the galaxy, so there was not that much to do now. 

Here he is, in the future… alone. 

Well, there is this one thing he can do since he's sleeping alone again. Steven never brought it up, having had enough of their "first time" accidentally doing it together. 

The boy made sure no one was in sight, then hid under his covers, carefully unbuttoning the bottom of his pajamas. If anything, Steven needed to let some pent up energy out now. It has been what, two weeks? That's a long shot to go without pleasing himself for a teenager. He best not have forgotten how it's done… 

The hands seemed to remember what motions he liked the most, as Steven let his mind wonder… 

...Held down. He wanted to be held down while someone would do this to him. He wanted no control over what they did. He wanted his wrists to burn against the tight ropes as he'd struggle, he wanted, he wanted… her hands on his wrists, and her legs straddling him, and her face next to his, and to whisper "Spinel…" in a plea to a benevolent gem above him, a prayer to be gifted a kiss from her sweet lips, a begging to be blessed with her heavy breathing against his skin, and her teeth on his neck, and her hands on his wrists, and control in her hands, and… 

Steven shot up from underneath his covers, holding his hands up. No, no, no! That was wrong! He broke up with her, she was never coming back, that was creepy! He couldn't just… think of her while he touched himself, could he? No, he probably should not… 

The mood was ruined. So he zipped up and laid down, just trying to sleep in a deafening silence… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven opened his eyes when the sun was already up long ago. He could have sworn he cried himself to sleep. 

His right hand searched for something on the other empty side of the bed, that was no longer there. No longer booping his nose to whisper a soft "good morning". 

It was a cold morning. 

He didn't want to get up. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"I was wrong I'm so sorry."

Seen at 9:35 am. 

"It wasn't codependency or anything it was just how love works!!"

Seen at 9:37 am. 

"I know now, I met this girl and I have a lot to say you probably are really busy if you can't reply now." 

Seen at 9:40 am. 

"And I just want to spend my whole time with her its so amazing she's so cool!! I didn't know it can feel this way. I'm so sorry I see now why you turned so blind with Spinel.

That's just how it be.

That's just how love is."

Seen at 9:43 am. 

"I'm so sorry I just hope nothing went wrong between you two I'm sorry it took me to fall in love myself to realise how you were feeling."

Seen at 9:45 am. 

"You guys alright there? Spinel with you?"

"Connie. Please. Delete my number and forget where I live." 

Seen at 9:46 am.

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Dude are you even listening?"

Steven rubbed his tired eyes. The world around was so grey. 

"Sorry Amethyst. Yes, what is it?"

The short purple gem crossed her hands, glaring angrily. 

"I'm sorry. I… was thinking… of things. What were you saying?" 

Still glaring, Amethyst pointed behind herself, still angrily. Oh, right. Somehow Steven didn't notice a huge orange gem in the room. 

"Hi Jasper." He said, not really caring if Jasper was in the mood to imprint him into the nearest wall by any chance, as usual. He could use that. 

"She knows me?"

"Jas, that's Steven. He's sorts human, I told you." 

"Right, sorry." 

Amethyst turned back at Steven, ready to tell him all about the reformation she's put Jasper through to this point - but did not carry through with to, as she saw that Steven was just staring at the floor again. She waved a hand before his eyes, until he snapped back to reality. 

"You alright? Where's Spinel, why ain't she clinging onto you?" 

"Who's Spinel?" Jasper repeated after Amethyst. 

Steven thought of all the things he could reply to that for a moment. Then he sat down on the couch, asking Amethyst to tell him all about Jasper and her new development. He kept his hands hidden in his jacket the whole time as she spoke, doing his best to stay concentrated on her words. The world was grey, but it was fine, this was Amethyst he was listening to. So maybe he'll feel better with her around. 

As she was telling him all about her days in the kindergarden, Garnet and Pearl joined in to the three, pretending that they had never met Jasper before. For the Crystal Gems, the experience was fun. For the three of them at least. Steven was surrounded by colourful alien gems his whole life, and yet right now the world felt absolutely grey to him. He rubbed his eyes, finding that he was not paying attention to what was happening around at all. 

His whole family was there. The three gems that were maternal and sisterly figures to him his whole life. They were right there, but something felt… missing. 

Just like when they were with him, missing their memories, and Steven risked it all to save them...

Steven shot up from the couch, almost knocking the table in his way. 

Of course! Of course that was so! He remembered now! 

Back when the gems had lost their memories… Steven risked the world, just to get his friends back. That was a part of him, it always was - to care this much about those he considered his… his… 

"Family." Steven turned around. 

From Gem's perspective Steven just jumped up, started smiling, randomly turned around as he whispered "Family." and then ran off. 

Pearl and Amethyst glanced at Garnet, awaiting a prognosis. 

Garnet sipped from her Starbucks, "Ah. That coffee is hot stuff." 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven ran to the warp pad, almost falling face down while he made his way over. It all made sense to him, and all he had to do was compare how he felt about the rest of his family to this. 

Steven did have moments of parting with Spinel where both felt safe, it's when he thought he had lost her forever that wasn't okay. And it would not be okay with any of the gems he called family. He remembered how much he missed each of them when they were present, just without their memories. 

And the same went for Spinel. He just didn't want to lose her forever. He needed her. 

Or maybe the same didn't go for Spinel. 

Steven didn't care!

He needed her, no matter what she was. Good or bad for him - he needed her. And there was nothing to be done about that. 

Steven was crying as he launched the warp pad, trying to guess where could she be. 

But he had a decent guess. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Spinel's hair twitched, as she heard the warp pad activate. For a second she thought that Pink had returned. She spent so long waiting for that to happen… 

But she quickly remembered that Pink was gone. So it must have been Garnet, here to invite her for another Gem's night out? 

Spinel happily looked at the warp pad pyramid - but frowned momentarily, as she saw that it was Steven. What'd he need there? 

"Spinel!" Steven ran towards her. 

Spinel didn't blink an eye. Steven caught up to her, catching his breath. She saw that he was crying, and felt nothing about it. 

"Spinel, I'm so glad to see you. I need to tell you-"

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

Steven blinked at her in confusion. 

"I, it's… it's our Garden, I came here to see you."

She clenched the gardening tool in her hand, before throwing it to the side. Their Garden? Alright, whatever. She could find herself a new one… Actually, no. Steven could find himself a new one - he had the whole planet to himself - Spinel only had this Garden. 

"This is my Garden. You have the Earth. Go back to your own space piece of dirt." 

"You have all the right in the galaxy to be mad at me, I get it. But, Spinel, I realized something. I came here because I-"

"Shut up." Spinel frowned at him, showing him her toothy grimace. "Just shut up and go the fuck away before I intoxicate you more." 

"What are you talking about?"

"What am I talking about? Why don't you tell me?" She stepped forward, looming over Steven angrily. "Apparently I know nothing about what is right and wrong. So why don't you lecture me about what's "healthy" and not - while you make your way out of my Garden!

Steven took a step back. He was having a mixed batch of feelings. He was intimidated, a little turned on, and very much happy that Spinel was just… there. In front of him. 

He sighed, somewhat happily, smiling. 

"Spinel, I'm sorry, I-"

Column. He suddenly had his face painfully hit a nearby column. How'd that happen- ah, right. She punched him into it. Before Steven could get up from where he fell down - Spinel stretched her hand, grabbing onto his leg and tossing him over herself with a roar, into a column on the opposite side. Steven felt the pain of the impact - and the pain of the column crumbling over him. He used his shield to cover from the bits and shards falling over.

That enraged Spinel further. Just a few days ago she was more than willing to dedicate her whole life to Steven. But now, now that she knew how cruel he could be with her broken little heart - she only wanted to harm him and hurt him and watch him suffer at least some of what she had suffered because of him. 

And then he pulled his shield out, covering from the falling debris. 

Control. Control of the situation? No. Spinel growled. He would have none. Not in this place he won't. 

Steven got up, putting his shield away, and coming closer toward Spinel. 

"I just need you to hear me out. I realized something."

"Let me guess." She walked towards him too. "You realized that I'm the worst thing that ever happened to you, and I should be shattered?"

"What? Of course not!" 

"Too bad." She summoned a weapon. "But that's only a matter of time."

Steven saw that happen. He saw her extend the rejuvenator out as it sparkled to life in her hands, and grip it tighter as she seemed ready to leap at him. 

Well, Steven knew what to do now. 

He stood with his hands open and apart. Turning the other cheek. And usually it would have made Spinel subdue and stop attacking him. 

But this wasn't "usually". 

Spinel took the opening and leapt forward, headbutting Steven back to fall on his back, as she raised her scythe up. 

"Go away!" She screamed, "Run away and go back to your healthy pretty little friends! Run away from this unhealthy gem before she poisons you!!"

Steven didn't even flinch as he saw her come closer with the threatening weapon in her hands. He thought it was kind of cool. And hot of her. He loved that side of her that always took charge and knew what she would do each next moment. 

"Staying, huh? A-boo-hoo, too bad for you." She raised her weapon up, "Let's see you protect yourself from the bad unhealthy gem now!!" She cut it down, "Without! Your! Stupid!! Powers!!!"

She cut through him with each word, screaming louder as she went. Steven covered only his eyes, even though there was no need of it. Sure, it hurt, but there was something else about that… 

Spinel was there, not poofed, not shattered, not rejuvenated. She had weird markings on her hands, but otherwise she was fine and safe. And be it that she was mad - Steven concentrated on the thought that she was feeling passion for him right now. Be that passion - anger. But it was a passionate anger. She was very enthusiastic to hit him. 

Steven felt every cut - the scythe felt like it passed through his skin each time, and the only difference was that it did not leave bloody cuts behind, only gave little electric shock through his body, as his gem half took the hit. And he felt it excite him a little. He felt his powers leave him, and felt himself regress to a normal human who didn't stand a chance against Spinel. 

Except Steven stood his chance as both a human, a gem, and a hybrid that he was. 

Steven was barely covering his face from her advances. He didn't care. He just didn't care!

Spinel slowed down her pace, as she heard a faint sound come from him. Was he…? No, it couldn't be. 

She lowered her weapon for a moment. 

Steven was shivering, spasming strangely. She thought he was crying at first. But when she sat down to take a closer look - she saw that… 

"Are you mocking me?" She asked, growing furious. Steven put his hand away, no longer covering his face. Letting her see that he was… 

"Why are you laughing?"

Steven was laughing. Laughing as pure as can be, as if she wasn't trying to murder him now, but instead had just kissed him. And he had tears in his eyes too. 

"Why are you crying?"

"Because I love you!" Steven finally let out. He sat up while Spinel was still kneeling down next to him - she was higher than him at the moment - and held onto her. Hugging her quite awkwardly. 

"I love you! I'm so sorry it took so long to realize. But I do! And I- I don't care if that's unhealthy or not, I don't care if that's an obsession, or what other people or gems might say! Spinel, I need you, and I want to be with you, and I want to love you and be loved by you and… and I want to fix us back together, I love you, Spinel. I love you…" 

Steven looked up at her, filled with hopes and love, laughing with tears streaming down his face, and beaming with a wide smile on it. 

But something was wrong. Spinel didn't smile back. In fact, she looked disgusted. Steven's hold weakened when he saw that, and she kicked him off with her leg. 

He was laying on his back now, supporting himself up on the elbows. Looking at her with concern and confusion and some sort of sadness setting in. 

While she just looked at him with sincere disgust. 

"You really hurt me this time. I believed you moved on from me." 

"That's not true, not at all, I need you! And I know, and- and I'm truly deeply sorry. But I'll make it up to you. Now that we're together again." 

"That's where you're wrong, buckaroo." She interrupted, firmly.

Steven stayed silent. Feeling a cold sweat run down his spine. 

She looked away and around, a grimace of regret and pain shifting on her face. Finally she looked at him again, the same disgust painting her face as soon as she saw Steven. 

 

"I don't think I can love you again, Steven Universe." 

Chapter Text

"I don't think I can love you again, Steven Universe." 

Steven blinked twice, the phrase she said was not setting in yet. 

“What?” 

What was there to be said, to be explained? He cut her deep. Almost as deep as Pink did, but in a lesser amount of time. And now… was he really not understanding what he did wrong? 

“Did you honestly think you can just come back to me and ask me back, and I’ll fall to your knees and praise you for picking me back up?” 

“I, I…” 

“It’s over, I got it. You told me you no longer want me. I got the message, rehearsed it in my head over and over again.” 

“I’m sorry.”

“I don’t care.” She shrugged, standing up. “I just don’t care about you now.” 

Steven held onto his heart, suddenly shaking in fear. His heart hurt, it felt like a batch of needles were stuck through it in one go. 

Spinel didn’t wait for his reply. She picked up the gardening tools she dropped earlier, looking around for the next part to work on. Those diamond shaped bushes probably needed to be replaced… and reshaped. She didn’t want diamonds in her garden now. 

“Spinel, I… I’m sorry… I really am, and I need you! I really really need you!” Steven stayed down, up on his elbows, feeling paralyzed by the dawning realization that he screwed up big time with her, “Please! I’ll do anything, anything it takes to make it up to you! I need you!” 

“Pfffft- hah! Yeah, right. Need me to toss me away again. What a fun game it must be!” She turned at him. “I’m not letting you hurt me like that. Ever. Again.” 

“No, no!” Her laughter hurt him, cut him deeper than the rejuvenator. “I will never hurt you again, I promise! I’m sorry I was such- such an idiot, I got scared of how much I wanted to be with you. But I’m not scared now - wanting to be with you is what I want to do the most! It’s the only thing I want!” 

“Oh save it, canary.” She growled.  

“Spinel, please I… Please, forgive me. I’m so sorry! Please, let me have another chance! I’ll be better, I’ll do better!” 

She rolled her eyes, they were not even spiraled. 

“I’ll do- I’ll do anything you say! Please! I need you!” Steven didn’t quit. 

Spinel facepalmed. 

“Anything, huh?” 

“Anything! Anything at all!” Steven leaned forward and held his hands together, pleadingly. 

She stepped closer to him, landing her foot over his own leg, and bending down to level with him. She reached her hand towards his face - Hit me baby one more time?

“Then listen up. Here, in my Garden:” She touched his nose with her finger, “Stay very still and quiet.”  

Steven nodded, putting his clasped hands down and sitting quietly. Spinel stood back and returned to her gardening business, as if she had instantly forgotten that Steven was there to begin with. 

And Steven waited. Waited like a dog that was taken to the forest and ordered to sit down and wait, while the former tired master got into the car and left it there, with no intention to remember its existence ever again. Is that how Spinel felt for 6000 years? 

She was hardly the same gem. Now she had plenty of things in her life. She did gardening, she planted flowers and she took care of them to watch them grow into something beautiful with her efforts. And she took care of herself, on her own path of healing from it all. In her own battle with her panic attacks and hallucinations. She knew she could not always win - but she would make damn sure she gave it her all in every battle. 

Steven waited, almost moveless, only turning his head to see Spinel walk around the garden and take her time with the hedges and bushes. 

“Hmm…” she hummed to herself about some dear plants, “I’ll need more nutrients in the soil to regenerate those…” 

She put down her tools and headed towards the warp pad.
“S-spinel?” Steven asked smallish. 

She didn’t seem to react. 

“I’m sorry, but… you took away my powers. I won’t be able to… leave the Garden on my own if you leave me here… alone.” 

She stopped. 

“Well why don’t’cha sing a song about changing then?” 

“I... don’t feel like… I’m making a change now.” 

“Jee, look at all the fucks I give.” Spinel pointed at an empty space next to her. “Ya seemed to have enough energy the last time, enough to fuse, and lift yourself up, and lift another double fusion up, and lift up a whole damn lion with yet another fusion on top of all of that! Did all that, but found it suitable to leave a little spinel behind. Sure had fun, didn’t you? Bet you can gather some strength now to warp yourself away.” 

Then she walked out, warping away. 

Steven stayed where he was. There was a little spark of hope in him that maybe if he listened well now - she’d change her mind? Spinel loved to be in charge, maybe if she saw how willing he was to submit now - she’ll want to give it another chance? The boy looked down in doubt. It wasn’t too late now to fix everything… was it? 

He knew one thing for sure about it - that he’ll do anything that it takes to bring her back. 

Steven needed Spinel. 

He just hoped dearly that it wasn’t too late. 

The time seemed to slow down yet again. There were reasons to panic - he was left behind in the Garden, with no means of escaping, alone again… But on a bright side he saw Spinel. She would come back for him… right? And she was safe, that was important. She was safe and sound. Even better than he was… 

Steven frowned, his frame visibly getting smaller. It was so quiet. Wind blew but that was about it. No other sounds. Just Steven, his breathing, the sound of his own heart. Here. Alone. Not knowing when was she coming back. If she even was… 

Last time he was stuck in the Garden was better. She was there with him, and suddenly she comforted him and shared her comfort food with him… Did she still have them with her? Did she still keep all the little love trinkets of their love in her gem? If she did - maybe there was hope to fix it all yet… 

There had to be hope. He needed her - he just wouldn’t do without her… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven jolted awake, not even realizing that he had fallen asleep while he was waiting. The stress of the previous days was getting to the baby, and Steven was that baby, now lying in the dirt and seeing a pair of jester shoes next to his face. He looked up at the owner of them. 

“Get up.” Was thrown at him in a cold tone. 

Spinel didn’t seem like she cared to wait, as she walked towards the warp pad as soon as she said it. Steven got up and ran after her, barely catching up as she made her way onto the warp pad. He didn’t even get on it fully when she already activated it, sending both to an unknown location. 

Actually, it was a well known location. It was Homeworld.  

Steven didn’t get his balance in time and fell on his face when they landed. She walked off, leaving him behind, although not for long. 

Steven got up and ran after her, but the next moment he was lifted up into the air and - snuggled? 

"Steven! You're finally here!" Blue Diamond said, holding him up carefully. She called the other diamonds over, and they were next to her in an instant, greeting Steven and being so happy to see him. 

"Are you going to stay here for a while?"

"Will you sleep in your room?" 

"Pink's former room, Spinel's current room. We know you're not Pink, but the room does belongs to you now." 

Steven put his hands up, trying to summon his bubble to protect himself from their hugs and kisses - but then remembered that his powers were out. Right. Spinel. Rejuvenator. 

Speaking of. Spinel didn't even turn around, as she made her way through the warp room, and into the unknown direction. 

Steven almost jumped down to catch up to her - but suddenly recalled that he would not float down slowly now. On another hand, he didn't want the Diamonds, or anyone, to realize that this happened to him again. And there was something special about it… Spinel altered him, did something to him. Something only they two knew of. Something that made him a little embarrassed… And he couldn't tell anyone. Their little secret. 

"I'm uh… yeah I think I'm staying for a while… aaand I'm really tired so if you could slowly and carefully put me down - that'll be great." Steven smiled softly. 

"Oh, Steven we can even carry you to your bed if you-"

"Just to the ground will be fine, thanks." 

His little plan worked, and Blue carefully put her hand down on the floor. Steven stepped down like her hand was a staircase, greeting them again and making his way to his room. Hopefully to find Spinel there. 

Someone called him over, 

"Pink?"

Steven stopped, frowning in frustration and turning to look at the Pink Pearl. 

"Pip, no, I'm Steven. Pink is gone!" 

He ran off, not wanting to hear anymore from her or stop and talk about it. Making a big mistake that would bite him in the butt later. But he didn't know that. 

Pip clenched her little fists as he ran off. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

His hopes were answered. Spinel was in the pink room, resting on top of the pink heart shaped bed. As Steven walked up the stairs and saw that scenery - Spinel laying on her front, slowly swaying her legs in the air, prepping her tired head on one hand and glancing at him nonchalantly - he suddenly felt bad that he never appreciated this wonderful scenery before. Not that he saw that before - he felt bad that she was mad at him now, and he could not approach and join her on this bed and hold onto her for comfort and beg for forgiveness… 

Or could he? 

Steven stepped closer and landed his knee on the edge of the bed. Instantly Spinel pushed him back, sending the boy to fall back off the edge. Luckily, he landed on the soft surface that the pebbles unraveled below him the last moment. 

"Thanks pebbles…" Steven said, getting up and letting them retract the soft surface back in. 

"Spinel?" 

The gem from above didn't reply. 

"I'm sorry. I… I can't describe how sorry I am if I wanted. I know I screwed up, but… I…" it was the time for his voice to tremble, "I need you, I really need you… I don't know what I'll do without you." 

"Be healthy, probably." She replied unseen. 

"No, that's… I don't care… I really don't care if you're the unhealthiest thing in my life - I just…"

Spinel reeled her head out of the edge, to glare at him with frustration. 

"I just need you." Steven held his hands together, like he was praying. And somehow he truly was. 

Spinel only retracted her head back and placed a pillow on top of it, tugging it down. 

Steven fell down to his knees, “What do I do for you to hear me?” 

He heard muffled screaming from above. 

Well, jee maybe if you weren’t so deaf to me in the first place- No. No, Spins. No. Don’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction. Don't answer. 

Spinel said nothing. 

There had to be something… 

“We were so happy together… it couldn’t just… all go away? I- I couldn’t just have… ruined everything with what I did… right?”

No reply. 

“I’m sorry, I…” He thought about it, “I love you, I do! I’ll… just prove it to you again!” 

Spinel was not replying. But on another hand, she was not telling him to leave her alone. If it really was a hopeless case - she probably would be telling him to go away now. Okay, so that’s a spark of hope. 

“I’ll be right back, please don’t go anywhere!” 

Steven hurried back to the Diamonds’ rooms. He would need a little help, he realized. But Diamonds would cause too much of a fuss… 

He eyed the Blue and Yellow Pearls, and ran towards them. 

“Hi, I- I need your help.” 

The two looked at him, somewhat knowingly. Surprised at first, then Yellow grimaced and Blue chuckled in amusement. 

“You remembered your Spinel, huh?”

“Do you want a relationship advice?”

“Or just a make up tactic?”

“Actually I… just wanted to ask one of you guys to help me teleport… somewhere… I uh forgot where was the garden.”

“Your own… new Garden?”

“No, I know where that is. The garden here, on Homeworld.” 

There was a garden on Homeworld. The Diamonds installed it almost two years ago, and with the help of Peridot and Lapis’s gathered knowledge of human agriculture - filled it with various vegetables, fruits, and some flowers. They did it to ensure that Steven would have something to eat and drink anytime they wanted him to stay on Homeworld for longer. 

So Steven started thinking of staying over at Homeworld - as if he was visiting his aunts and grandparents in a suburban village, who did not really understand him but cared to listen and to make sure that he was nourished and well fed all the time. It was… nice. 

Right now, he just needed to grab some flowers from there. Any maybe a fruit. He was a little hungry. Of course Steven had a preference for other types of food, but he had to make do, as pizza and donuts did not grow on trees yet. 

“I need to go to the food garden.”

“You can just send a worker gem there, you know?” Yellow Pearl put her hands on her hips. “You’re a Diamond, just say a word to a gem whose work is carrying and delivering stuff if you’re hungry.” 

“No, it’s not that. I need flowers. And- and I need to collect them myself.” 

It took both pearls a minute to realise what was he talking about. Then they held their hands together, leaning closer to each other and voicing one prolonged and knowing “Ooooh!” .

“Oh! You want to make her a bouquet?” 

“And apologise for being awful and breaking her fragile heart and worsening her mental state?” Blue Pearl said, innocently. 

Steven blushed. “Yes, I… need to make it up to her, and it needs to be special.”

“You need help?”

“I’ve got ideas. I just… uh… need help teleporting. I… didn’t sleep well so my- my powers are a little… off… because I didn’t sleep well! Only that!” 

“Eek, that can happen to humans?”

“He is a half human.” 

“Alright, alright. We’ll help you. But you better do well and make her happy again.” 

“If you fail to win her back,” Blue Pearl held her hands together, smiling, “We’ll steal her from you.”   

Steven stepped back, mildly shocked and scared for dear life.

“Oh, please.” Yellow Pearl held her hand over Blue’s ones, “It’s not like we can control her. At the end of the day it’s all about Spinel’s own choices.” 

Right, Steven nodded. It’s all about her happiness and her choices. He was one of her choices before - he can become it again. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“Spinel?” Steven was scared as he walked up the copied staircase in the pink room, but he felt easier the moment he saw Spinel still on her bed, possibly not having even moved from her place. “Oh thank goodness you’re here. I… got you something…”

There were no vital signs coming from her. No human vital signs anyways. 

“Here, it’s…” 

Steven got down on one knee before her bed, holding out a big bouquet of Purple Hyacinths, along with a few Roses and Hibiscuses mixed in, and some Lilies of the Valleys in the back. It was wrapped in the paper with a polka dot of hearts and a red ribbon. 

Steven stayed moveless, waiting for Spinel to look up at him. Not wanting to push her further than she was ready to go. 

In a few minutes, she raised her head at him. Her eyes were very tired. 

Steven suddenly realized that she might not know that flowers have meanings down on Earth. 

“Uhm… On Earth, flowers have meanings. So a bouquet of flowers can be read as… a message. See, those purple flowers, they stand for being sorry, and the roses-” 

Spinel reached her hand out, grabbing the bouquet from his hands - yes yes yes! - just to throw it away, further into the other side of the room, watching all the flowers spill out of it on the impact of hitting the wall, and fall down. Then she retracted her hand back and hid her head down again. 

Steven sighed. 

Alright, next plan. He’ll do one of the very few things he knew how to do well. But he’ll need something for it… 

Steven ran back towards the warp pad. The Pearls weren’t in sight. Alright, he could probably gather some energy, just to warp back home and here. Although the galactic scale warps were much harder to do. And sometimes took longer. What if he’d lose his powers midway?... 

As Steven stood before the warp pad, considering his options - it lit up suddenly. 

Now Garnet was standing on it, holding his ukulele in one hand, and a cup of coffee in another. 

“What’cha got there?” asked Steven.

Garnet sipped the drink through the straw, “A star buck.” 

She reached the ukulele for Steven, and teleported back away before he could ask her anything, or even thank her for it. He went back to the pink room. 

Alright. He could do this, and he would do it right. After all it was one thing he did not need his gem powers for. Only his human skills… 

Steven tuned the instrument. Then he sat down on one knee on the floor, strumming the musical instrument. 

Spinel stayed unamused. 

Steven thought about it for a moment… What could work, what could do it? 

Hey, you, 

Show me that solvable problem.

We can get through this,

I'll do the hardest part with you.

Spinel didn’t bat an eye. Alright, something else. Something more… romantic, maybe? The next one he thought of was not easy to be played on a string instrument, but he tried. He had to. 

It's been said and done

Every beautiful thought's been already sung

And I guess right now here's another one

So your melody will play on and on, with the best of 'em

Spinel raised her head. She did not look amused, but she did react! That was a good sign, just keep singing, Steven, there’s hope, there’s always hope.

You are beautiful, like a dream come alive, incredible

A centerfold, a miracle, lyrical,

Spinel rolled her eyes with annoyance, and rubbed the bridge of her nose. 

You've saved my life again

And I want you to know, Spinel

Steven strummed the ukulele, standing up and now looking at her as he sang the chorus, confident and loud,  

I, I love you like a love song, darling

I, I love you like a love song, darling

I, I love you like a love song, darling

I only beg you for another cha-a-ance.

“Hey!” 

“Spinel?” Steven smiled, was she going to say-

“Just can it, won’t you?” Oh, so she was not touched deeply as he thought she’d be, “I don’t care about your stupid love songs!” 

“Oh…” Alright, well… maybe she was not the one for this type of songs? Alright, there was another option. Maybe she’d like one of Earth’s traditional ballads? Steven played a different tune, 

Baby, can't you see? I'm calling

A gem like you should wear a warning

It's dangerous, (he smiled) I'm falling

She continued to look at him with a look of a gem who was completely done and frustrated that this was still going on. 

There's no escape

I can't wait, I need a hit

Spinel, give me it

You're dangerous - I'm loving it

It’s good that Steven’s powers, even if he had them now, did not come with the ability to read minds, Spinel thought.

Too high

Can't come down

Losin' my head

Spinnin' 'round and 'round...

He could never ever ever ever learn... that she going head over heels in her head, as he sang for in, in a desperate need to win her back. She had to keep an angry face at him, no matter how euphoric she felt knowing that winning her back could make him go to such lengths. And he kept going them, even when all she did was push him away! 

Just like when she kept begging to be together again... even as he was… pushing her away… 

Do you feel me now?

Spinel held onto her heart gem, the memories of their break up becoming vivid before her eyes. 

Cause the taste of your lips, I'm on a ride

You're toxic, I'm-

She kicked him in the face with her foot from where she laid, sending the boy flying a few meters away. The ukulele barely survived the impact. 

Spinel turned her back at him, grabbed a pillow and hid her face into it, frustrated, enraged, saddened, forgiving but mad, so mad that she was forgiving him, knowing that she couldn't just let him back in easily, and give him an idea that it was okay to wipe his legs over her feelings, like she was some sort of a loyal doormat that he could do anything with and still have in his life.

“Spinel, pleeease…” He whined, becoming more and more desperate. Steven went up the stairs again, making his way to her bed, “I beg you- please, I need you! I just want to be together again, so I can- I can make you happy each day! I will! I’ll be making you so happy, I’ll be entertaining you! I’ll be anything for you, just… please…” 

She curled further away from him. Steven stepped back, cautious of being kicked down yet again. 

But he was glad to notice one thing. He noticed it back on top of the injector, on the day they met - Spinel could have kicked him off as soon as he climbed on top of it. But she waited. She allowed him to approach her. She let him have a chance. And maybe she wouldn’t have tried to kill him if he’d just say the right thing, instead of screaming at her. 

It was the same now. She was not kicking him off - so there was still a chance - a chance that there was something right to be said to her. 

“I just… want to see you smile. And laugh. I want to make you smile and laugh - to know that I’ve made you happy each day. And I want to help you. And I want to… to carry you around,” Thought he would rather have her carry and throw him around, “And to… to…” 

Steven very carefully tried to set his knee on the edge of the bed again. Spinel twitched… but did not kick him off. Alright. Good. Wonderful! He was on the right path, somehow. 

“I’ve done nothing since I’ve lost you, but… cried. I just cried and cried, and nothing could stop it. I… was like Blue, I guess. I tried seeing my friends-” Spinel twitched again. “But- but it meant nothing to me! Just- the whole world just felt grey, and nothing made me happy anymore. I felt… like I was living dead.” 

Steven climbed onto her bed with both of his legs, now sitting in front of the curled gem. 

Spinel sat up, still having her back at him. She crossed - well, croissanted - her legs, and held onto the pillow in her hands, hiding her mouth. 

He can’t know I’m smiling. Her eyes were frowning angrily. 

“And I… couldn’t even sleep. I kept thinking of you - I kept… kept thinking that I’ll just go to you for comfort, like you were still there, like you were a constant part of my life. And I could have asked you for comfort in this. You're a family to me, Spinel. And it… really is so. You’re… someone whom I’ll always want around.” 

She bit into the pillow with her fangs. 

“The only one! The only one I want around, I don’t even need anyone else, I… I really don’t…” 

Steven looked down at his hands, as if he was just now realizing something. 

“They were all there - my family, with me, and I still felt dead. Because you weren’t with me… I only need you, Spinel. Really really only you.” 

Steven reached his hands towards her - very slowly. Spinel didn’t move or twitch. Steven had to be very careful, he was holding his breath as he held onto her body, scooting closer and placing his cheek against the back of her head, while he held onto her. Like for dear life. 

“I need you…” 

She heard his voice tremble. He was crying. 

“Please, Spinel. I’ll do anything...” 

Anything, huh? 

Steven tried to stay still as he felt her shift around. He opened up his hands from around her, holding them up and open, as she turned around to face him. She didn’t look as… angry as before. 

“Anything?” She asked him back. 

“Anything.” Confirmed Steven, still holding his hands up and apart. 

Spinel looked at the position of his hands. 

Perfect. 

“Aaanything?” She sang, crossing her hands on her chest, now facing Steven.

Her recently saddened face now portrayed determination and confidence. And condescension. Steven heard his heart in his ears, his face turning red as he stared at her. He forgot how to breath for a second, lost in her spiraling eyes.

She was finally looking at him again... 

“Anything…” Steven replied. 

“Anything.” She asked one more time, smiling in a way that let Steven know he was about to face a challenge to prove his love. 

And he already knew he’d do whatever it takes to prove it to her. 

“Anything.” He replied for the final time. 

Spinel’s eyes had spiraled, and that gave her expressions a grim tint.

"Then you'll listen carefully to me now." 

Steven nodded, being all ears and keeping his gaze fixated on her beautiful eyes. 

"I was made to be an entertainment. To always give and never question about receiving." She frowned, "And I am very done with what. I want to give - when I find fit to give. When I feel like it. But more importantly - I want to receive. You promise to make me feel loved - you better do so. I have demands." She poked her finger at him as she spoke, "I want to feel that you love me each day. I want to be loved and cherished. I want to feel wanted and needed, and that I am here for a reason - and that reason is being needed. I want to see the lengths you're willing to go to be with me, not just when you screw up." 

Steven was nodding while she spoke, silently agreeing. He could do all that - he'll be more than happy to do all that. 

"I want to be loved decently. I deserve it. I know that now. You may have noticed - I'm not on my knees for you now." She smiled in a wicked way, " You'll have to be on your knees for me now. If you want me around."

"I do want you around… and, and you're right to want to feel loved… I'll do all that, for you. I want you to feel loved." Steven raised his hands, smiling softly. Feeling like a heavy weight has fallen from his shoulders - like he was finally swimming up to the surface after drowning for so long. 

"Better make me feel like no one else does." She teased. 

“I’ll do that. That’s what- what you did to me. I’m so sorry I didn’t appreciate it - but I’ll make sure to treat you like you deserve it, Spinel. I'll do anything…" 

"That's good. Because I want something only you can give me now." 

Spinel leaned forward, balancing on her hands. Just like she did two days ago.  

Steven blushed suddenly, getting some ideas.

"Yes…?"

She reached her hand out - grabbing Steven's shirt and tugging him towards herself. 

"I want to feel good now, like only you can make me feel." 

Steven nodded. He got the hint, and he wanted to do it as well. He held one hand over her own clenching his shirt, and used the other one to balance himself as he leaned forward to meet her.

Nodding back, Spinel put her lips against his own. This time was different from their previous kisses - this time she knew what she wanted and how to go for it. She licked his lips, getting a taste of that salty human skin, before placing her lips over his own and sticking her tongue between his lips. Steven opened his mouth, quite shyly at that, and tried to relax as he let her tongue enter inside and explore, and fill his mouth with that taste of vanilla cotton candy that she always had. 

His gem started to glow up again, painting the scenery with soft pink hues, and the longer it lasted - the better it started to feel to Spinel. His powers were coming back - he finally felt like he made a change again. 

Steven held onto her hand with both of his, not breaking the kiss. Spinel let him hold her hands, intercepting their fingers together and holding his hands down while they were at it. She was a little taller right now - causing Steven to bend his head up to keep kissing her when she pinned his hands down. 

She broke it momentarily, reveling in this. She held control. She decided when the itty bitty Stevie would have more of her - and when he would not. 

When Steven whined and tried to raise up to reconnect with her - she laughed in a slightly evil manner, but kissed him again eventually. And Steven loved that - he loved that she took charge and left him begging, restricted, wishing. Not in control… He moaned slightly, as Spinel took her pleasure from him.

And she sure took it, feeling that hot liquid pour into her very soul again. It cleaned her heart and made her feel elated. She felt herself get a blush on her cheeks, as the familiar sensations sent her high up into the clouds of pleasure again. She was taking it. She was being in charge of all that happened. This time she knew what she was getting, and Steven also had a choice and a say - and he chose to do this too and tell her "yes". 

She noticed that Steven was making his silly noises again, moaning against her mouth, struggling but looking happy to do so. She broke the kiss and held his hands down with her own, while she cupped the side of Steven's face. He nuzzled against her touch, crying a little bit. He was just so happy to have her back - he could hardly believe it was really happening.

"Why do you do that?" She asked curiously. "Those noises. Is that because you also feel warm inside? Is that how you feel good?" 

"Y-yes." 

She nuzzled against his face, "I want to know how to make you feel good too, Steven."

"It's fine, really, I just… I like to be held down. Maybe…" 

"That's not what I mean. I want to know more than that. But… only if you want me to. I don't want to rush you either." 

So that's what she wanted now, huh. Steven thought about it, thought about feeling… secure with Spinel, as it could be. Feeling ready to go all the way with her... But perhaps a room which could be entered at any time, with a wide open balcony for any bypassing gem to look inside of - was not the best place to figure things out at for the first time. But he felt that… he trusted her, and wanted to tell her more. 

"You do make me feel safe. And I want to have… uhm… I want to be close with you in that… intimate human way. Just… maybe not today, and maybe not here." 

She let go of his hands. Was she pushing him where he didn't want to go? 

Spinel wanted to be in charge. But she wanted to have Steven's consent while she was at it. Not otherwise. 

"No, wait, I mean - it's not because of anything right now… I just don't want anyone walking in on us. This room can't exactly… be locked up for security."

"Oh." She nodded, understanding. Right, it was sacred.  

"Yes. But… but I do want this … to happen… between us… just a few more kisses, maybe... " 

Steven covered his face as he said that, blushing. Was he bad at putting his thoughts to words right now? Possibly, quite possibly. 

But then, to his surprise and relief, something comforting happened. He peeked out between his fingers - Spinel sincerely giggled at him. 

"Hehe, you're afraid of them walking in on us, yet you still want to make out now?" 

Steven blushed, "Well maybe so… I'm a teenager, what's your excuse?" 

Spinel took hold of his hands again, wrapping his wrists into her hands and holding them down with a smile. 

"I guess I have none…" she kissed him more, sucking on his lips as she almost bit him just to get more of his taste into her mouth. 

Spinel grabbed both of his hands into one of her arms, then leaned back and put her fingers to her lips, hushing. She reached her hand out for Steven, holding her bitten places for him to kiss better. Steven noticed the marks, but paid them no mind right now, as he was a little carried with the flow of the moment and didn't want it to end. He kissed over the given surfaces, and Spinel watched with fascination as her marks slowly disappeared, making her skin smooth again. The pain was no longer there, and now no longer would there be the scars. This was a bit of cheating, but she really felt good no. So good that she didn't want to look back at the time she was so hurt that she brought more pain. She let the boy work on kissing her other hand, then grabbed Steven's hands, tangling her fingers with his own. Looking down at him, at this loving look he was giving her - a pure look of sincere adoration and happiness - she felt so much lighter, as if everything was finally back in place in her life. 

"I knew you'd be back." She smiled, letting go of one of his hands and laying down on her back by his side, one hand still tightly holding Steven's. 

"Of course I would. I love you." The boy laid down too, turning to his side to face her. 

"And need me?"

"And need you. And want to be with you." 

"Maybe you're unhealthy obsessed?" Spinel laughed. 

"I honestly could not care less." Steven laughed back, happily. 

“Don’t you know that I’m toxic?” She teased. 

Steven brought her hand to his mouth, kissing it lightly. 

“Still don’t care.” 

“I’m a monster.” 

“Lucky for you I specialize in loving monsters.” The boy smiled, remembering every single corrupted gem monster he had found a place in his heart for. 

“I’ve done bad things.” Spinel kept going, her smile very faintly fading down. 

“Nobody’s perfect.” 

“I threatened Connie.” 

Steven blinked twice, shaking his head. 

“Haha, what?” 

“Yeah, you know after I was back from the Garden, how I left to have a chat with her…” Spinel stared up at the ceiling, one of her legs nested over the other, and her free hand was now over her gem. “I kinda maybe pushed her from the staircase and reeled back up, and told her that I’ll kill her if I see her near you again.” 

“Ah.” Steven replied, looking at the calm expression with which Spinel was telling him all that. He laid on his back too, still gripping her hand in his own. He mirrored her pose, as people do when they like somebody. 

“Well I… wish it had worked.” 

Spinel turned her head at him in surprise. 

“I mean - you shouldn’t kill people, yeah. But she really should have just… stopped bothering us. I don’t think I blame you. If someone trapped me in a place where I was traumatised severely, and wiped my memory so that someone could take advantage of me - I’d probably be mad at them too.” 

“I told her I’d kill her.” Spinel clarified, not sure that Steven was getting just how grim and wrong her action was. 

“Yeah. Wish it’d work.” Steven repeated. 

Spinel sat up, looking at him in utter (although somewhat comforted) shock. 

“She message me this morning.” Steven told, “Saying how she started dating this other girl this morning, and she finally realized that wanting to be with each other is normal for couples.” 

“And, well, what’d you-”

“Basically,” Steven turned towards her, “Told her to fuck off.” 

Spinel chuckled, holding her cheek, “Really?”

“May have worded it differently, but that was the point.” 

“Yeah, you don’t talk like that.” She booped his nose, “You’re pure. I’m the one swearing in this relationship.” 

“Hehe, you can be.” 

“And I’m the one in charge in this relationship.” She clarified, just to make sure. 

“I hope you are.” Steven nodded. He looked to the side, suddenly. “I’m… really sorry, Spinel. I don’t what’s gotten over me. It’s just how I kept getting told… pressured by people around… Okay, mostly Connie. I let… let what others told me - convince me I was wrong, and wouldn’t have known better for myself. In our own relationship.” 

Spinel sighed, relieved. 

“I’m just glad we’re back together.” 

She felt him grip her hand tighter. 

“Let’s… I mean, I’m the one who needs to learn this. But let’s make sure we talk things out better in the future. I’ll make sure to listen to you better. And let you change my mind." 

Spinel laid down over his chest, crossing her arms and staring lovingly at him. She let her legs sway in the air behind her. 

“Agreed.” Was purred softly. 

Chapter Text

Do you know that feeling? When you let your trauma get the best of you? When you know you're wrong, but you can't help it? 

It was just like this the last time it happened. I don't want it to happen to me again. So I'll fight it. I'll do anything it takes. I won't let anything remind me of the way it was back then. 

Even if I have to be unreasonable for it. 

And I know I'm wrong. But it won't stop me. 

And… that’s why I've got to be more grateful for having you in my life. 

You actually put up with me. 

As she was deep in her thoughts, Spinel bit into the unfamiliar food in her hands, looking at Steven with a fond smile, while he looked just between concerned and humoured. 

And the next moment she grimaced, spitting out. 

"What was that?" She asked, sticking her tongue out and rubbing the taste off it. 

"That was a lemon, Spinel." Steven laughed at her silly reaction, "I didn't mean to mix it up, sorry. It's sour, isn't it?"

Steven grabbed the bitten citrus and hid it back into the basket. 

They were having a lovely picnic date in their Garden, and it was Steven's idea to let her taste more Earthly food than just donuts. He grabbed whatever got under his hand in the garden on Homeworld and rushed to have the picnic sooner, and it seems he grabbed a whole lemon while he was at it. 

"Makes my mouth feel funny. Not good funny." Spinel spoke, still stretching her tongue out of her mouth.

She looked up at her boyfriend with a hint sparkling in her eyes. And Steven got that hint. 

"You want me to kiss it better?"

She nodded, letting him scoot closer on their shared picnic blanket, and kiss her on the lips, as she finally retracted her tongue back in for a good matter. They have gotten pretty good at not laughing halfway through their kisses. 

"I like the taste of you the most. You taste sweet. Like home." 

Spinel circled her hands around Steven, holding him close to herself. She loved that comfort that he brought with his presence. It was not even painted over by their recent disagreements in the slightest, although the memories were still there, and were… sour. 

"I guess I don't like sour."

"It's alright, maybe you'll like salty things? I've got some sandwiches… if you let me reach for the basket." 

"I don't think I will." Spinel laid her head on his shoulder softly. 

Her hair tickled his face. Steven didn't protest or struggle, feeling very safe with her wrapped all around him like that and nuzzling against his shoulder. It was very serene. 

The Garden was coming to life, very slowly. Flowers that they planted made it smell good there once again, instead of the constant rotten smell, even though only in a small area yet. It was still dark and dim, but with their efforts it was getting lighter. The two love birds were lighting it up with their love. 

Finally content, finally happy together again. And so it will be… 

"Spinel?" 

By now she was learning to tense up at the sound of her name being called. 

"Yes…?" 

"I know you fear something." 

That confused her, yet Spinel only leaned to the side, laughing. "I don't fear anyone!" She retracted her hands from Steven, standing up to a fighting position and making her fists bigger. "I can't be taken down! I'm not afraid of everyone - I'll kick anyone's butt if I have to!" 

It was so cute about her, Steven almost felt bad for ruining her little idyllic thought of indestructibility. 

"But you're afraid not to be in charge?"

Making her hands small again and rubbing them together awkwardly, Spinel glanced at him with fear momentarily, her hair going down. 

"I… thought I was in charge?" 

"You are, you are!" Steven quickly assured, watching for her hair go up again. She needed that comfort right now, even if it was a tad delusional, "I just want to make sure - you're aware that that's your weak spot, right?"

Weak spot? What did he mean?

"What do you mean?" She sat back down next to him. 

"Don't get me wrong. I'm very content with you being in charge - I like it! But it's clear as day that you've got… uh, issues with it. And one day it could… get you in trouble." 

Her hair stayed down. 

"No trouble with me. With other people." 

It went back up a little. Very much like bunny ears.

"What sort of trouble?"

Steven scratched the back of his head, "It's hard to give a direct example… but I just think that you should… that we should work on helping you work through it. I get that you're scared - that you were traumatized by obeying an order… I'm sorry." He reached to grab her hand. "I want to help you climb out of it." 

Spinel gripped his hand back. 

"Are we having a session?" She asked smallish. 

Their sessions. The times they sat down and talked about feelings, being as honest as they could manage to be with each other. The times they worked together to better each other's mental health, because apparently it was what healthy couples did - wished better for each other. Or maybe just them. 

"I guess, I mean, if you want us to. I just felt a need to mention. You know I care about you, Spinel." 

He thought that must have sounded so sweet - oh how he loved that feeling! He was being loving and making her feel good, wasn't he? For sure now she would smile at him for such heartwarming words of support and thank him kindly, and talk more about working on her issues. But sadness painted her face as she looked down. 

"You're too good for me." 

He could have said he wasn't. But realized that Spinel wouldn't be convinced by the argument. So instead he reached out to hug her, holding the smaller gem in his arms.

"That's just kindness, Spinel. You've always deserved it. I'm sorry you didn't always have it." But I'll make you used to it.

She thought about his words, slowly hugging him back and holding on tight. 

"So… what exactly do you want me to do? I guess… if anyone can tell me what to do - it can only ever be you. So maybe it's okay…" 

"Just… You know, couples don't usually have power imbalance. We can be equal, and we can ask each other for favours, and we can have our comfort boundaries… and it can be safe. Do you trust me?" 

It didn't sound like the truth to her, but at the same time she realised he was right. And she wouldn't mind to have that sense of security he offered, just like the one Garnet gave her. But it wouldn't be an easy thing - to start feeling this way.

To start feeling this comfort with Steven because of a trust that he wouldn't use or abandon her. Again. 

And not because of that dreading feeling that he could kick her ass at any time, had she dropped the cotton candy facade and showed her spikes. Like with Garnet. 

"That'd be nice. But it really won't be easy for me." She finally concluded. 

"That's alright. I'll be with you the whole time." 

She pushed him back out of nowhere. 

"Why are you like this?!" Her voice raised, "Why are you so kind to me and willing to put up with me?" 

What do you want from me? How are you planning to use me?! 

The boy blinked at her, taking a minute to let the shift - the mood swing - sink in, "I don't put up with you. I love you!" 

He reached a hand out - fully expecting it to be slapped away - and waited. Whatever has came over her - Spinel was sobbing and shaking now, suddenly unsure of her whole life. But also and most importantly - vulnerable. She sobbed and moved closer - jumping straight to hugging Steven again, and placing her head on his shoulder. It got wet from her tears. 

“It’s okay, it’s okay…” He whispered, holding her close and petting her back slowly. 

“It’s not… I’m sorry, I don’t… don’t know what’s wrong with me…” She cried. 

“It’s okay, I promise it is. Take your time… all the time and tears you need, Spinel. I’m here.” He placed a hand over her head softly, “I’ve got you.” 

“But I- I’m just making it worse, I’m just being a mess, I, I…”

“You’re spiraling, yes. But it’s okay. I’ve got you.” 

He wasn’t sure what was that either, although Steven had a decent experience of dealing with people’s varying emotions. This probably went on the “mood swings” tab, if not anxiety attack. But she didn’t seem to be hyperventilating. And she was letting him hold her - usually she’d be scared to feel held in place at times like that. So this was a good sign. 

Steven loved this. He learned her signs and her habits, and her ways and her mood swings. He could - almost always - tell what she needed to hear to feel better. Knew how to help her fight her demons. And he saw that he was making so many changes, as he helped her grow past her pain. 

And on top of all that - she made him so happy, he just wanted to be together with her all the time.

Isn’t it, oh isn’t it love? 

Steven didn’t even notice - it was purely a subconscious decision for him - when he turned his head and kissed the back of her head softly. 

Spinel stopped crying, the wave of sadness disappearing as quickly as it washed over her. No longer drowning in it, she swam back up to the surface. 

“Thank you.” 

“It’s okay. I love you.” 

“Sorry.” Though she still hasn’t swam all the way up yet. 

“It’s okay.”
“I’m really sorry, Steven.” 

“I get it, Spinel, it’s okay.” 

“But it’s not, and I’m sorry you put up with it.” 

“Now you’re just going in circles.” 

“Sorry…” 

“Spinel...” Steven suddenly felt as if his arguments wouldn’t have helped here. She was just suddenly… stuck in the moment of saying that word. Could he pull her out of it? “It’s okay. You don’t have to say you’re sorry.” 

“But I feel like I should, I’m… sorry, I just… sorry I’m just doing it again, I’m…” 

No wonder she punched him almost any time he tried to say it to her - it reminded her of her own weakness with the word. 

They looped around few more times, and Steven did not come any closer to breaking her out of that “sorry” cycle. 

So he did the second best cure he knew for emotions like that. 

“You know? It’s okay, just say that you’re sorry as much as you feel like you need to. But know that I already forgave you.” 

He still held her, not having parted for a single moment, having a wet shoulder of his shirt and feeling her twitch in his arms from the slowly subduing sobbing. 

“Sorry…” 

This went on for another minute. 

And then… she felt better. Spinel leaned back, rubbing her eyes. 

"Thank you. I feel better." 

"That's good."

"So I have something to do now." 

"Huh?" The boy tilted his head like a curious puppy. 

"You made me feel better. Sooo…" she booped his nose, "I want to do something for you!"

Steven giggled, "You don't owe me anything for-"

"But I want to make you happy and I will ." She giggled, springing herself up to her toes. "Hehehe, what games do you love to play, Steven?" 

"Me? Oh I love…" he loved so many things, including Spinel, that it was hard to pick a reply at first, "I love music! And swimming. But most of all…" he got up, "I love you!" 

“I love you too!” Spinel laughed more, pure and happy, grabbing his hand and heading out of the Garden. "Come on, I know a place where we can combine all three!" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Okay, okay, I'll be right behind you, I'll grab the radio." 

Steven stopped in his room to grab the little portable radio, while Spinel happily skipped down the ladders, preparing to have a little swimming and dancing fun with Steven. 

She grew to love this Earthly place. His room, the bed they slept in, the stairs to rest on, the room with the kitchen and a little coffee table by the couch where Amethyst sat chatting with Jasper, and the door to the… 

Record scratched as her train of thought paused. Spinel stopped in place, almost falling off the edge of the corner stairs - but spinning her hands in circles until she regained her balance back. She stared at the two gems. In shock. 

The two quartzes stared back at her. 

"Hey Spins." Amethyst raised her hand. She was smiling. With her mouth only. Her eyes were just a little worried as she glanced back at Jasper. 

The buff gem squinted at Spinel… but only looked confused about her, and no more. 

"Hey Amethyst. Who's… your friend?" Spinel tried. 

She tried. She tried to stay calm. She had not forgotten that she utterly hated Jasper. She had not forgotten being a small and helpless Spinel who's wrist she grabbed with a lot of force, aiming to hit her in the face to make her mad and use her fighting to satisfy her twisted needs… Spinel tensed up, her hair going up and getting spiky, rougher in texture. 

Jasper stated at her, confused. Amethyst was growing worried… 

But then the scenery changed. Steven appeared in the staircase, holding the radio, some other objects, and… having noticeably less clothes on. Just his swimming trunks and sandals. He came down, still smiling and laughing innocently, as he grabbed Spinel's hand and led her with him. He greeted Amethyst and Jasper on his way down. 

Jasper watched intently as Steven grabbed Spinel's hand and raised it to his mouth for a kiss. As she laughed softly. As he led her by the hand. As they didn't want to part for a second. The orange gem clenched her fist. 

The lovebirds exited the house, heading towards the beach. Spinel finally took a closer look at the things Steven brought with himself. It was an umbrella, a blanket, and a radio. She sat by the shore and watched as he set the umbrella up, above the blanket he straightened out, then set the radio down and turned it on, listing through the channels for some upbeat music to go with this. 

While he worked on setting things up, Spinel glanced around. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, blinding. Warm. She felt her gem heat up with the rays that passed through her gem and stayed there from all the mirroring turns they took. She felt the warmth of this massive star - resting softly on her face and body. Just to think that it has traveled millions of kilometers, just to make her day feel a little better... Made her feel calm. This was nothing like the Garden. And it would never be again. She was free now. Living a good life now, a life of her own. No Pink, no one to fight, nothing to fear… 

Spinel turned to sit towards the sea, stretching her legs out and supporting herself with her hands from behind, staring out into the endless horizon. 

She could hear Steven laugh happily somewhere behind her. She closed her eyes. 

Today, right here, right now, life was good.

...A touch on the shoulder brought her back to reality. 

"Come on, let's go. The water is fine! Race ya!" Steven rushed towards the water as he said so. 

How naive. She let him think he was going to win… and then stretched across and reached the water first into just two steps from where she sat. 

"That's not fair!" Steven laughed, entering the water after her. 

The water felt so new. Soft, it felt like it hugged her anywhere it reached, and held her. But held her safely, securely, ready to let go the moment she would have wanted. Spinel stood where the water reached her waistband. She leveled down, only keeping her eyes above the water level. Up close it looked even better… 

And then splashes! Steven splashed her! He waved his hands, making the water splash her way. Spinel laughed, covering her face at first, but then putting her hands down and accepting this silly shower, as it was so much fun. 

"Alright, my turn!" 

She extended her arms up into the airs, stretching them out. 

Steven barely managed to get one small and worried "Spinel-" out, as she slammed her hands on the water, creating waves that sent Steven floating a few meters away. 

"Are you alright?!" She asked, momentarily worried that it was too much. 

Steven turned over, holding his hand up with all the fingers curled but the thumb staying up. 

"I'm fine!" He reassured, swimming back closer and smiling, "Come on, let's go, I'll show you more!" 

He swam towards the horizon. Spinel walked after him with her hands held together behind her back, slowly submerging under water as she went. It was even more beautiful here, although a little blurry. The sunshine that traveled through the water was so… breathtakingly beautiful. Spinel opened her mouth in ave, and then opened it wider, surprised at the bubbles of air that escaped her and swam up to the surface, where Steven was swimming by. 

"Whoa!" she would have said, but she was underwater, so what she said was "Glubl!"

She saw Steven dive down and point to the side for her. She looked where she was prompted to, seeing sights that she had never seen before. Beautiful forest of corals and reefs, alive and vibrant with colours, filled with many different types of fishes and sea critters that swam or scuttled all around in their busy aquatic life. 

Seeing how Steven swam, Spinel copied his motions, and soon they both swam through the sightful places. Steven would occasionally swim up for air, but when he was down - he would hold her hand during their explorations. All this felt so warm - Spinel was surprised that she wasn't boiling the water around herself. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Who was that gem?"

"Oh it's Spinel. She kinda tried to kill Steven but now they're dating." Amethyst rubbed her nose. "Sure glad that happened. She's kind of better than the other gems who tried to kill him."

"A lot of gems tried to kill Steven Diamond?" Jasper placed her hands on her knees, listening to her caring sister intently. 

"Ya, some weren't happy that he existed, some weren't happy he was helping them."

She held her hands together, shyly. "Did I ever?…" 

Amethyst hesitated to answer. 

"Uh… yeah, once. But you didn't know what was going on so it's fine. Also it's just Steven. He doesn't go by "diamond"." 

"Why is he with Spinel?" 

The orange gem deposited her head on her hands. 

"I dunno, why was Bonnie with Clyde? Rose with Jack? Lone Samurai with sword? Why was Pearl with… Rose." 

Amethyst stood up, glancing up at the portrait on the wall. 

"Because they all felt… like they found their other halves with each other." 

"But how did they know? How did they all know it was forever?" Jasper knew nothing about the names Amethyst mentioned, but guessed they were couples. 

Amethyst pondered on the question she asked for a good minute. Then she shrugged. 

"Guess they just were together and talked things out till the end. Love just kinda… happens."

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Love just kinda happens. Love just kinda occurs. Love can be cruel. Love can make a warrior that will face off the Diamonds themselves - out of a single pale pearl. Love empowers. Love elates. 

Steven floofed his drying hair up, sitting down on the blanket besides Spinel. 

"You have her hair." She noted, watching him shake his head and send splashes all around. 

Steven looked at her cautiously, since she brought up her - the one who didn't always needs to be named - but Spinel seemed quite alright to do that. At peaceful times like those she seemed much more content with things that would have otherwise sent her hyperventilating. 

But was she really alright, or was she putting up a mental war at the moments like those? Spinel herself couldn't tell. Sometimes it just… felt alright to say it. 

"I would have never guessed that you have anything to do with her." She continued. "You're… nothing like a diamond. I mean - nothing like she was back then. You're kind and caring… you don't put yourself above anyone." 

Steven just listened, having nothing to contribute, and watching her do a lot of progress as she'd open up about the most traumatizing person in her life. 

Luckily she was gone and never coming back. 

And Steven and Spinel were here, existing, experiencing the world each in their own unique way, and being happy. 

Steven looked towards the horizon, in the same direction Spinel was facing in her pacified melancholy. As they sat next to each other - the boy reached his hand to hold over her own, not without a worry. But Spinel allowed for that, not even twitching her hand as he placed his own down in it. Only smiling about it, looking out at the setting sun and the bright future to come… 

And then the rain clouds rolled in. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Spinel helped Steven curl up into a blanket on his bed. It was raining cats and dogs outside, as they settled in safely. 

"Jee I won't be surprised if I catch a cold from this." Steven rubbed at his nose. 

The phrase flew over Spinel's head, but she continued to help him. Now that the boy was in his pajamas (for once she didn't steal a part of it) and curled up in his blanket, she made sure he was comfortable in other ways, such as bringing the pillows closer and making a bit of a nest around the them. 

"Humans needs so much care." She mused, "It's kind of cute."

Wish gems needed it. Then maybe someone would come looking for me. Or I'd just die.

"You should have seen the children. Human babies. They can't do anything without adults. They needs diapers changed and food blendered, and baths like every day. And all that, constantly, just to survive for the first few years. They're so… fragile too." 

Spinel moved to sit in front of Steven, and looked him in the eyes with a serious expression as she said, 

"That sounds like fun but I literally have no idea what do any of those words mean."

Steven only smiled softly, curling further into the blanket. Its warmth wasn't enough. 

"Wish we actually stayed on Homeworld as we meant to. Then I'd be the one telling you all about the stuff you don't know, like you’re some sort of an Era 2 techniwielding firstdayer." She lovingly insulted him. 

"I have no idea what does that mean." 

She smiled, finally letting him feel how she felt once again, but then her expression was tinted with worry. 

"You're still shaking." 

"Not warm enough." 

"Where can I find more blankets for ya?" 

"I don't think they'll be of help much… but if you could… uhm…" 

"Yes?" 

Spinel looked so innocently ready to do anything it took to make him feel better. How did the boy ever think he'd let her go from his life? In a matter of a few seconds, Steven reached his hands out for her, grabbed Spinel, brought her next to him under the covers, and curled back up into the blanket, now covering his blushing cheeks with a corner of it. Spinel made a squeaky toy noise as she was relocated, like some sort of a… toy. A child's favourite toy that he always clung to, and wouldn’t sleep without. She just blinked at that at first. 

Trying to read the expression on her face for any sign of discomfort, Steven hesitated before finding the need to explain his action, "I… when people cuddle, they… usually warmer..." 

Nope, he couldn't do it now. He just hid his face further into the blanket, hoping that he could just make the moment last without the awkwardness…

And then he felt two soft hands find their way around his body and hug him. 

"It is kind of nice." Spinel said, holding onto him. "And warm. Buuut we're still going to Homeworld later, right?" 

"Yes, right." 

He'd go anywhere. Because anywhere was perfect with her by his side.  

The rain continued to tap on the window, as the two cuddled peacefully, safe from any trouble in their shared little perfect world, holding onto each other in this serene and comfortable shared silence...

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Do you feel like we're forgetting anything?" Steven put a finger to his lips, trying to remember if he forgot anything back on Earth, now that they were on Homeworld again. 

"Hmmm…" Spinel looped her hands as she counted, "We told the gems we'll be staying here, we got some junk food for you and blankets, we warned the Diamonds… we didn't forget anything that you'd need." She extended the loops she made and coiled them around Steven. "And I know I've got everything I need with me, right here." 

"Aww." Steven leaned against her touch. 

Finally just some peace and quiet ahead of us, with nothing to worry about, thought the boy. 

Suddenly Spinel uncoiled, remembering, "Our pajamas!” 

“Our” pajamas? But they’re not… well… okay. 

“I’ll be right back I’ll just fetch them up.” 

“Do you want my jacket with you?” 

“Oh… yeah, sure.” 

Steven gave Spinel his jacket, as they usually did. Spinel zipped it up, giggling about how well it fit her. Then she ran to the nearby warp pad. Steven leaned against the nearby wall, waiting, musing, happily thinking of the next fun things they’ll do together… 

Someone lurked around the corner. Steven turned his head towards the noise maker - Pink Pearl was looking at him from behind the corner wall, only having her eye and a hand visible to him. 

Oh, right, her. 

“Pip?” Steven tried to wave to greet her. 

She came out of her hiding spot, and Steven could see that she was now dressed in full attire of his deceased mother. 

“Oh boy.” He sighed, “Pip, I… think we really need to talk.” 

“Pink?” She said, shaking a little, but looking very furious. 

“Yeah, about that… I’m sorry. I think I’ve been neglecting to try and help you face… the loss. I’m sorry. But it’s not too late to help you, right?”

But it was too late. 

“I’m not talking to you .” 

Pip came closer and reached her hand - grabbing Steven by the shirt and tossing him to the floor. 

“Ow!” He made a noise, while the little pearl turned him on his back and raised his shirt. 

“Pink? Can you hear me?” 

Man I really gotta stop letting pink gems toss me around and remove my clothes. 

“She’s not there, Pip. She’s not secretly alive and stuck because of me around her. We’ve… been there. We’ve checked. It’s just another pink me there. Please let me go now. We can talk about your feelings.”

Steven tried to grab onto Pearl’s hand - but she slapped him painfully the next moment. Her gem shined - as she summoned a weapon. It wasn’t her own - it was borrowed. Steven recognized it - the tool for removing gems. 

He raised his hands up, shielding from her, “Pip, no, wait! Please, listen to me! I know what you’re thinking! But if you take my gem out - Pink won’t reform! She’s not there anymore! She’s gone!!!” 

He was screaming that on top of his lungs, but it only made the matter worse, as Pip started to cry, looking down at him with a weapon in her arms. 

“I’m sorry, but it is how it is now! She gave up her form to let me be born and live!” 

“She didn’t even know you!” She cried back. 

“No, but… but she knew I’d be! I’d exist! And I’d be loved! She… wanted me to be loved!” 

“Don’t say that! You don’t know anything about her! You don’t know who was she and what she loved and whom she loved!” Pip raised the weapon up. “She loved me!!!” 

“She did! She loved you and she’s gone now!” Steven got ready to summon his shield, but he wanted to talk this out peacefully if he could. “And she would have wanted you to be happy!” 

Pip’s hand trembled, so did her chin. She cried from the one eye she had left. She lowered her hands slowly. 

There we go. 

“I’m sorry. She loved you, maybe more than I ever knew about her loving anyone. If it makes you feel better… she never loved Pearl - her other pearl. Just. At all.” 

Pip was crying over him, but seemingly not listening. At least she was not attacking him. 

“She would have wanted you to be alright again, and to be… yourself. She believed in the beauty of uniqueness and…” 

“Stop.” She frowned, “Stop talking like you knew her! You didn’t! She…” Now Pip seemed to grow angrier as she spoke. “She loved to play with me, she had a special name for me! She called me “Perlyna” - not some stupid “Pip” like you all do now! She loved me… and then she just… she just…” Pip held onto herself for support, barely talking through her tears. “And she just left me behind!” 

Oh boy. 

“I’m sor-”

“She just left me be there! She could have done something - anything! Could have agreed to be beaten up again or- or could have agreed to have me back if she finished her colony!” Pip held onto her missing eye, her hands grasping the surface and the weapon in anger, “And she never did!!!” 

Steven gulped down in worry. It’s true - Pink was prone to leaving things and people behind, and never thinking of the consequences of that. And Pip was just as much a victim of it as most of her lost treasures. Steven suddenly felt very bad that he never thought to help her through this. 

Why didn’t he start the “Pink’s victims therapy club” as he wanted to? 

His mind trailed off momentarily, and was brought back to the scenery with another batch of her screaming. And more. 

The warp pad activated behind the two. Spinel returned. 

“I don’t get it!” Screamed Pip. “Is it because I wasn’t good enough, is it because I didn’t play nice? She left me behind after all the talks of how dear I was to her…” 

Spinel dropped the pajamas on the warp pad, seeing Steven pinned down and the single pale pearl with a weapon, crying above him and talking about a trauma she knew all too well. 

“Did she hate me? Did you hate me, Pink?!” 

Pip raised her weapon. 

Steven froze in fear. 

Spinel launched at the two, her gem shining. 

 

And then there was a sound of a glass breaking. And a human boy screaming. Steven screamed, screamed from the shock of pain and a sudden chill going through his whole body and sucking out his life senses. And then the pain in his stomach took over everything else, blurring his vision and hearing as he fell back started to faint. 

He faintly saw Pip holding up some sort of a pink shard. And then a pink figure starting to form out of it. 

And then a familiar white blur of a weapon sliced through both pink blurs before his eyes. 

And then he fainted… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“...ven? Steven!? STEVEN!!!” 

Someone was shaking him. But the voice struck a familiar string in him - a heart string. 

Steven hummed weakly, letting the shaker in who’s arms he resided - know that he was awake. 

“Steven!” Spinel hugged him, as his eyes finally focused and he saw her. She was crying. Expectably. 

“Spinel… I’m… I’m fine really, but what… what happened… where’s…” 

Steven reached his hand down towards his stomach. He felt… something… was wrong. Steven raised his shirt up - something was definitely wrong. His gem… was shattered. 

But he didn’t feel like he was dying? Steven looked closer - he had exactly half of his gem intact and in place. But where… what… how? 

“What happened?!”

“I’m so sorry.” Spinel said, holding him closer, “Pip hit your gem and split it in half and into- into so many shards - before I could get her! I’m so sorry, I should have been faster!” 

“Shards? Where are the shards?” 

“They’re here. In you. The other pearls found us and Blue gave me some of the “healing water”. I think it was…”

“The water from the fountain.” Steven concluded, looking down at his half a gem. So it was back in place with the bits. But the other half…? 

“Where’s the other half?” 

“It’s here.” Spinel pulled it out from the pocket of Steven’s jacket, that was still zipped up on her, “Blue had very little with her - just a small tube. We barely got all the bits back together, but didn’t have any left to give you the other half.” 

Steven took the half a gem from her hands. 

“It’s okay.” He sighed in relief. 

“It is?” Spinel’s hair perked up, like a surprised bunny’s ears. 

“Yeah. Don’t worry… we won’t even need more healing water for this. See, the thing is…” 

Steven sat up comfortably, ready to explain the situation to her - finally noticing that they were on the floor of the pink room - when someone walked in. 

It was Pink Pearl. But she was dressed in the attire Steven saw her have the first time they met. If one could even call that a meeting. 

“Does she…” He started to ask carefully. 

“I do remember.” Pip instantly replied. 

She did remember. But she no longer looked ready to kill him. Instead, she was holding herself together, looking very guilty and sorry before the two. 

“I’m… sorry… I wasn’t… I don’t know what was I even thinking…” 

Spinel growled at her, keeping Steven closer to herself. But the boy didn’t seem to react negatively. 

“I’m just glad you’ve calmed down.” He said, standing up. 

Spinel stood up with him, letting the still weak boy place one hand over her shoulders, to hold on for support. 

“Pink’s… uh… Your gem… it’s…” 

“It’s fine, Pip. I was going to explain it to you two anyways.” Steven held up the half a gem in his hand. “See, the thing is - I’m half human and half a gem. I’m not Pink. Pink is gone, forever. She doesn’t live in this gem. Once it will shine up - you both will see me form out of it. But… more pink me. Pink Steven, if you will… and then I’ll be able to fuse back with him.”

The two pink gems looked at him in utter confusion. 

“We’ve been through this. White… tried to pull my gem out, because she thought Pink was hiding inside of it. You know. About two Earthly years ago.” 

This still didn’t make much sense, but the two gems worried about that less. Spinel nudged Steven. 

“So uh… when pink you reforms - you’ll be fine? You’ll be whole again? And you’ll be alright, is that what you’re saying?” 

“Yes. Just wait a little bit.” 

“I, uh…” Spinel’s voice trembled a little bit from the worry, “I think there… may be a problem with it.”

“Huh?”

“You see…” She tsked, “When I… saw Pip attack you - I rushed over to save you… and I only had my rejuvenator with me so I struck her with it.”

Steven smiled softly, “Well, that’s fine. She’s right here and already got her memories back after all.” 

“That’s true… buuut…” Spinel glanced at the half a gem in his hand with worry. “She… wasn’t the only one I hit…” 

Steven blinked. 

“I didn’t even see the pink Steven reforming - I thought my eyes were deceiving me because I could see you - normal you - right there on the floor, so I thought - why would a pink you be there? So I uh…” She closed her eyes, “I hit him too.” 

Steven glanced back at his gem in a quick worry. He doubted. But then he took a deep breath and carried on. 

“Well… then I guess he’ll reform as an infant gem.” He chuckled, “We’ll just have to remind him of what makes him - himself. Like take him to Earth and show him… things I love! Or… or maybe he’ll reform as me now - but with no memories! Oh, won’t that be interesting?” 

The boy laughed more, feeling more than positive about this. 

“Are you sure?” Spinel didn’t trust his laughter. Did she have a special sense built into her to tell when Steven masked his true emotions? 

“Yeah, I’m sure. Oh gosh… you’ll probably see me being a baby…” He placed a hand at his cheek, pretending to blush, “Jee, that’s so embarrassing, haha…”

“What’s a baby.” Spinel blinked at him. 

And then his gem lit up. It floated up, flying over to the side. Pip ducked down, now watching from the floor as it started to reform. 

Steven held onto Spinel tighter, and the gem returned the favour. 

“We’ll be fine.” He whispered. “I promise.” 

She trusted him. 

They watched as the gem formed into the first Pink Diamond’s shape at first. And now they would watch as it’d shape into Rose, and then into Steven… 

 

But it never did. 

Pink’s body stopped shining, as her form became solid and she landed on the floor before them. She opened her eyes, looking at the three pink gems before her. 

Steven and Spinel held onto each other tighter, paralyzed. Both of their gems were hidden from the view.

But Pip’s one wasn’t. A single tear formed at her eye. She held her hands together, breathing out what she said next in a prayer that was answered.

“It’s really you…” 

Pink blinked at her. 

“Perlyna.” 

Chapter Text

Steven and Spinel held onto each other, both keeping each other back from engaging, and holding on for dear life. After all the talks about Pink being no longer alive… there she was. Standing tall in front of the three gems she harmed in one way or another. 

Pink rushed over to sit down with Perlyna, hugging her and laughing happily. And the little Perlyna held back onto her tightly, crying happily. 

"I knew you were still here!" Perlyna said through her happy tears. 

Pink was smiling at her, but then she frowned, placing her hand over her missing eye.

"I'm so sorry…"

"It's nothing. Nothing you won't love about me, right?" 

"Right. You've always been perfect. But…" Pink stood up suddenly, glancing around her redecorated room, "How are you… here now? Why did… why were you set free?l She shook, visibly, "Do Blue and Yellow know?"

She took a few steps around the room. Jumping up and slowing her descend to stand on top of the weird pink builds by the pebbles. Taking another look around the room. Then she jumped back down to Perlyna's side, landing gracefully as ever. 

"Who are you two?" The brought back to life diamond addressed the two frozen lovebirds. "Why are you here? Why is it redecorated? Is this not my room? Where are the pebbles, I don't want my room to look like this… mess." 

Steven felt the grip on his hands harden so much - it threatened to spill blood. He tapped Spinel's shoulder. 

She didn't react. She was shaking with furry. Basically ready to leap at Pink and probably do many things that were normally not very welcome to be done with the Diamonds. 

Steven held her back, unsure how he felt about it himself. It was Pink. His mom. But… he had never met her. But… she was his mom… 

"Is Pink Pearl there?" Was said in a loud thunderstorm voice from outside the room. 

All three gems looked to the wide entrance of the room, as the sound of the loud giant footsteps filled the atmosphere. Yellow Diamond, followed behind by Blue, walked inside. 

"Is everything alright? I heard the pearls talk about what happened…"

She didn't finish. 

Pink gasped at her, crouching down in fear. In a blink of an eye she grabbed her Pearl over her shoulder, and launched up outside the room, summoning a pink bubble around them as she went. 

Steven just blinked as she disappeared in the window frame. Then he turned to Spinel. 

"I probably need that half a gem to live." 

The next second Spinel picked him up bridal way, making a spring out of her legs and launching after the two. Both were functioning on autopilot - very unsure of their emotions, but holding onto each other to stay grounded. Mentally grounded. 

Yellow and Blue's shock lasted a few seconds longer, before they rushed outside as well, but through the door like the gems of culture they were. 

Pink landed the two on the bridge somewhere below her balcony. She unbubbled them.  

"Are you alright?" She asked, placing her Pearl down.

"I am. Oh… I have so much to tell you…" Perlyna was crying, happy tears streaming down one side of her face. She finally did it - she brought her back! She knew it would work, no matter what they told her! She was finally right! 

"I won't let them take you away from me again." Pink reassured her, determined as ever, despite being scared for both of their lives. 

"I trust you." Perlyna took the reached hand and stood up, looking up fondly at the gem that she had risked it all to bring back. 

They weren't alone for a long time. Spinel landed just behind the two, staring out at the gem who was once the world to her, but now did not even seem to recognize her. Could she blame her though, with her own redesign and hidden gem? She placed Steven down. Spinel's focus switched between the two halves of one gem - she looked to make sure Steven could stand on his own, before watching Pink for any sign of aggression, or… reconcile. Steven still made a weakened impression. 

Shortly soon, Blue and Yellow caught up again. As she saw them approach, Pink seemed ready to run away again, but then…

"Pink… it's you, but how… oh, we're so sorry!" Blue wanted to cry, but she knew it would affect everyone around her, so she battled herself to hold it back. 

"Huh?" Pink couldn't believe what she was seeing. Blue… was trying not to hurt people around her mentally? Since when was that a thing? 

"We thought you were gone!" Yellow glanced at Steven in her confusion, but the boy only shrugged as well. 

Yellow was normally loud, it was her normal volume. But to Pink any word from her, even in her calmer inside voice that she was using now, was a bad sign. She started to shake her hands and grip them into fists, growing more and more worried as she stood before the two. Her pearl held onto her tightly. 

"What is going on here?" Came from behind Blue and Yellow, as they stepped aside to make way for White. 

Pink cried out in fear, holding onto her Pearl and trying to cover her with her whole body. She was crying. Probably remembering something from the past. 

"What is the meaning of your faces, what is-" White froze in place, as she also saw Pink. 

And how Pink shook in fear before them. Someone jumped between them - Pink and Perlyna watched as the stranger gem (being?) with brown curly hair jumped between them and the Diamonds, spreading his little arms out to protect the two from the big authority figures. 

"Blue, Yellow, White! Don't come closer, you're scaring her! She doesn't know what's going on!" 

The three tall Diamonds looked at each other, after hearing Steven out. Then they carefully sat down on the bridge they were on, trying to level with the smaller gems. They kept quiet, each holding their hands up in worry. Both Blue and Yellow reached to hold each other’s hand for mental support. 

Spinel slowly walked towards Steven, still not taking her eyes off Pink. She held Steven's hand, as both turned to face the gem that was responsible for leaving them both and never bothering to put any effort into knowing what was to come next for the two. 

"...Hi." Steven waved his free hand. It was hard to describe the courage he had to gather to greet her. This still felt like a surreal dream to be seeing. 

"Hello." Pink replied, still holding onto the Pearl on her knees. She did seem very scared of everything, and now also confused as to how did this little weird looking gem - if she even was a gem? - stop the Diamonds. 

"You've been… missing… for some time. And things changed since the last time you were around. I know that the Diamonds had hurt you before - but they won't do it now." Steven reached a hand towards Pink, "They're… friendlier now." 

To say that they were good would have been a great exaggeration. They were still half way there. Maybe halfway to being halfway there on the scale of healing. Maybe even further, considering their recent behaviour. 

"They won't hurt you." He repeated, trying to convince himself. 

The diamonds nodded quietly, not taking their soft and concerned eyes off Pink.  

"Why should I trust you…" Pink slowly stood up, turning at the two pink gems. "Who are you?" 

Somehow that was a question Steven didn't expect to hear. Then again, she was probably missing her memories. Right. She was just having amnesia. Or not remembering. Spinel did reset her after all. 

Spinel?

The only force holding Spinel back from sending Pink flying across the town and imprinting her into the rough ground to the point of shattering was the fact that Steven held her hand in his own. And the fact that he needed his other half of a gem. And another reason she would rather die than admit to herself. 

"We're…" Steven hesitated. Should he tell her? How would he even explain it? 

"I think I know." Pink suddenly came closer to the two, sitting down before them. Her pearl followed her. Spinel tensed up. "I think I know who you are. You look so… familiar to me..." 

Steven gasped, holding his breath. "Yes?" Were maternal love and senses real after all?

"You are my …" Pink held her pointing finger out. Spinel tensed up more, which was hardly imaginable, as Pink booped Steven on the nose, "My replacement!" 

The two took a step back in sync. 

"Yeah. Yeah, I see that now. My hair, my eyes… bet you have a gem similar to mine. Though… you're a bit of a…" she leaned closer, squinting her eyes, "Bad example. You're so… small? Your colours are all off. And what is that…" she reached her hand closer, poking Steven's cheek. "What's with that form? It's all sticky and squishy…" she turned towards the Diamonds, unamused. "Is that the best you could do? Really?" 

Everyone just stared in awe. Perlyna laughed, making a blush appear on Steven's face, which was already frozen in an image of shock and broken dreams. 

Steven sobbed, tearless.

He waited his whole life, not even sure if he had anything to wait for. Always dreaming of meeting that perfect image of an all loving Rose Quartz who thought that all life was precious, when he was younger. Steven glanced at Spinel - all life was precious ... Seems like not all life after all. 

He dreamt of meeting that ultimate comforting giant woman who would hold him safely in her arms, just like she held her Pearl instead, and whisper to him about how much she loved him unconditionally. 

But there she was, unimpressed by his very being. Looking at him with incredible boredom and disappointment written over her face. 

And then there was a hard punch - it landed right on Pink's face, and sent her tumbling back - over the edge that she grabbed onto, instead of falling off. The diamonds gasped in fear, before they remembered that Pink could float.  

Spinel wanted to do that gesture for so long. And once she did - she felt… nothing.

Perlyna helped Pink climb back up from the edge. 

"What was that for?!" 

Spinel made her fists bigger, ready to let Pink have more taste of them, ignoring the three Diamonds calling out for her to stop it. But not ignoring the fourth one. 

Steven finally snapped out of his shock, placing his hands over her fists, "It's not worth it. And she's right." Spinel stared at him with questions. "She's right. I… am a Diamond. Just like her." 

Steven leaned closer to Spinel, whispering to her, "She doesn't know better." 

Then he stepped to the front, talking to Pink again, "Yes, I'm also a Pink Diamond. It's been a while since you were here. Things changed. A lot. No one will try to fight you here anymore. But… we probably need to have names to distinct us, since we're both… the same gem."

The boy clenched his fists, trying hard to hold himself from crying. 

16 years, 8 months, 21 day, 5 hours - he waited in hopes to meet her. And now, when he finally did, when the stars finally aligned in the way that allowed him to meet a somewhat true Pink - she ridiculed him. Disliked him. Hated him. Was disappointed in his very being. It was his turn to clench his fists - her gesture. 

"Since we know what you did…" he tried to break it to her painless as he could, "You can be Rose… and I'll…"

He hesitated, waiting for someone to talk him out of saying it. The diamonds stayed quiet. And all he got was Spinel placing her hand over his shoulder. Encouraging. Showing support. Enabling.

"And I will be Pink." He finished. 

Boy this would get confusing fast. 

Pink Diamond glanced at Spinel, gesturing to prompt Steven to name her as well. She was not recognizing her. 

"This is… Calcite." Steven blurted out. "My emotional support gem." 

"Yeah, real supportive…" Pink rubbed at her hurt cheek. "Wait… what did you just call me?.."

"Rose." 

"But that's the name I had on…" Pink froze, looking up at Steven, "My colony!" 

She got up, grabbing Steven by the shoulders and shaking him in her worry. 

"My colony, where is my colony? What became of it?"

"It's safe, it's safe, so is all life on Earth!" Steven quickly replied, shaking her hands off and taking a step behind, along with Spinel. 

"It's safe?! Was it completed?!" 

"No, no it wasn't! You s… It was saved. It's safe, and people are living there." Steven held onto his head, "P- uh- Rose? We… had reasons to believe you would never be back. We're… not sure how to take the fact that you're here again…"

Pink looked up at the Diamonds again, then glanced around, finally seeing the world around herself… 

It was Homeworld. Just not her own. 

It wasn't the place she knew before. Her detention tower was missing or obstructed, the gems traveling around looked much less scared and forced into their roles. There were fusions - fusions of different gems all around. Roaming free and being free to be happy together. Being truly happy. 

Pink Diamond held her hands together, smiling suddenly. It was the world she always talked about. And it happened without her. 

 

Steven turned towards Spinel. 

"Go back to Earth. Tell everyone that once we're back they should call us Pink and Calcite." 

She nodded. Then she patted his cheek, and pointed towards oblivious Pink, with concern in her eyes. 

"Yes. I don't want to tell her who I am… not yet maybe. And… you're silent for the same reason, is that so? You don't want her to recognize your voice?"

Spinel nodded, tugging the jacket that she was still wearing closer. It hid her gem. 

"That's alright. I can understand you. I think it will be fine." 

Spinel reached to touch his belly. 

"Huh? I know, I know I will need it. But…" Steven glanced at Pink, "Now is not the time yet. ... I feel fine. I'll be fine. Just… keep an eye out for yourself." 

She nodded at him, thinking about it for a second. Then she kisses his cheek, and took off, going to warn everyone that there were new names to be used for the two who were sometimes known as Pink Calcite. 

For now. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"...And that's why I was wrong." White Diamond held her free hand to her forehead, "I tried so hard to ignore that everyone around me had a personality when I didn't approve of it. But now!" She pointed a finger up, "Now I know that it's wrooong!

Pink looked very unamused at her, sitting down on her free arm, with her legs in a “w” position. 

“Aww. She makes faces just like S… uhm… just like Pink.” Blue commented, still getting the hang of it. 

Right. Steven = Pink, Pink = Rose. Confusing, but the diamonds knew that being supportive of the young, even if they didn’t exactly understand them, was extremely important for being a family with a healthy dynamic. And they wanted to be that for Steven and Pink, and everyone else below them. 

Who would have known that being nice felt so much better than being evil dictators? 

Even though it occasionally included being vulnerable. 

White placed her hand down, letting Pink walk to the floor, and sit next to her pearl, as she looked up at the diamonds again. 

“So… I’m not getting punished anymore? You won’t take my toys or my pets or my pearls away? Do I still have to poof myself if I do wrong?” 

Steven, who sat nearby, shuddered occasionally as he listened to her. He glanced up at the diamonds, very displeased. White blushed in guilt and embarrassment. 

“No, you don’t have to-”

“What is that?!” Pink asked, her eyes gaining stars inside of them. 

“What is what?” White looked around the room, trying to find what had caught her attention. 

“You’re… you’re turning pink!” Pink pointed with her finger, meeting the kettle. 

“Oh? Yes, I suppose I am. It… occurs.” White hid her face. “Ugh!” She waited a minute, before uncovering it again and saying more, “Those are called emotions… and they’re… normal to have, and should be accepted… Euwgh…” 

“Oh my stars!” Pink giggled. It sounded so much like Steven did when she did that. “You really did change!” 

Steven was sitting fairly to the side of her, watching intently, while staying unseen. He was startled by a tap on his shoulder, but quickly calmed down when he registered that it was merely Spinel who returned. She nodded at him, confirming that she had made everyone back at home aware to call them Pink and Calcite. 

What she couldn’t tell him now is that everyone assumed that this decision had to do with Pink Calcite, rather than anything else. But it wasn’t crucial. She helped Steven raise up, as he approached Pink again. 

“Rose. Now that you’re… back, now that you’re back - we need to talk. There are a lot of things that we need to talk about - about your behaviour and...” 

“Pffsh.” She blurted at him, “What do you know?” 

Steven puffed his cheeks. Anger, not fear, not heartbreak - just anger, he hoped. “I know a lot more than you do, Rose. As you can see, everyone around you has made an effort to be a better person.”

“A better what now?” She tilted her head like a curious puppy. 

“A better gem. ” Steven sighed, frustrated. 

“Oh yeah I see that.” Pink sat back, prepping herself with her hands. Perlyna copied her position, “I’m pretty happy about that.”

“You have to do the same.” 

“Huh?”

“M- Rose, you’re not a good person. You need to work on that.” 

Pink laughed at him, “How so? I’m feeling like I’m just peachy. I mean, jee, I’m glad they changed for the better.” Somewhere behind, Spinel gripped her fists. “But me? I’ve always been good.” 

“That’s not true. You did a lot of mistakes. And you have to face the consequences if you want to be a good-” Pink held her hand out, covering Steven’s mouth suddenly. 

“I don’t owe anything to anyone!” She laughed more, ridiculing him. 

It was that moment that something inside of Steven… cracked. And for once it was not his cracked gem. He shook her hand off and covered his face in frustration. 

Then there was a shout. There was a shout, and it was made in an old forgotten voice, in a tone that sent shivers down the spines of the gemkind, and made the loose soldiers obey their orders undoubtedly. 

It was a shout in the Diamond voice. 

“You are not above the consequences!!!” Steven shouted, whipping his hands, and shutting his eyes from the anger that overwhelmed him for reasons he could not even name. 

When he opened his eyes again, they had diamond shapes in them. 

The White, Yellow, and Blue diamonds leaned back, never having known that Steven was capable of their kind’s tone. Spinel stepped back, feeling a very wrong sort of shivers run down her spine. Perlyna raised her head, covering her face in fear. 

And Pink… Pink didn’t blink an eye at first. Then her delayed reaction kicked in, and she covered her face from the sudden motion he made with his hands, as if he was going to hurt her. 

Steven was about to go on as to why would she ever fear him hurting her, but then remembered - he should not have. Pink didn't know him. Pink was abused. Be it that he had nothing to do with it - doesn’t mean she could have known he’d never hurt her. Steven glanced up at Spinel, who just stared out in fear. No, he should have known better than anyone that the consequences of abuse were not selective. 

“Sorry.” He uttered in a whisper, his diamond eyes fading to their normal shapes. “I know you’ve been hurt. But you need to know that the pain you went through - doesn’t excuse the pain you caused.” 

“I’m sorry.” Said Pink, in a strangely mocking tone. 

Steven sighed, facepalming, “I know, I know. You’re not used to this. I’m not scolding you just for you to say "sorry" and do what I want you to. I'm not like the Diamonds were. I want you to be a better gem.” 

Pink looked up at him. 

“Why?”

Steven didn’t have a reply. 

After no one broke the silent pause that fell, Pink resumed saying, 

“I don’t recall hurting anyone.”

Spinel made a pfffing sound with her lips. Steven continued. 

“You left a lot of people behind once you grew tired of them.”

“Yeah, well, what was I supposed to do when I grew tired of them? What, lie and pretend that I care? Force myself to care? Stage it up so that they’ll hate me and leave first? Hurt their feelings? I went easy on them by leaving.”  

Spinel almost poofed again as she listened to that. 

Steven pointed up at the Diamonds behind him.

“Look at them. One day they were told that their ways are wrong as well. Even if they didn’t see how, all too indulged in their own ways of thinking. Stuck in their own heads. But they listened. You might not even get it - but you need to listen. We want you to be a better gem. You’re gonna have to work on that. You’re gonna have to listen to us, and to put efforts to be a good gem. You can start by apologizing to most people you’ve hurt - a plenty is still around.” 

Spinel breathed out, relaxing from the fury of tension that she was in. This is why she loved him, the boy who always knew what to say to bring out the best in people. It was only saddening that people did not always let him change them. 

Spinel frowned suddenly, looking down with a question forming in her mind. Was she letting him change her?

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“Alright, alright… so…” Pink gathered her thoughts. “Perlyna. I’m sorry for your eye, and for leaving you behind.” 

“I forgive you.” Perlyna clapped her hands, sitting in front Pink. 

“Thank you!” Pink clapped her hands as well. 

Then the two pink gems laughed, suddenly clapping their hand together in rhythmical motions. It seems they have forgotten where they were at, now just playing a gem equivalent of an Earthly game.  

Steven sighed, “Well, that’s some sort of progress. But that’s just Pip… uh… Perlyna. She already forgave you. You’re going to have to say “sorry” to the gems who will be way less reluctant to forgive you so easily.” 

Pink laughed, bringing Perlyna closer and depositing her in her crossed legs. The little pearl fit perfectly inside of her embrace. Pink didn’t take her eyes off her pearl as she spoke again. 

“What do you mean?”

“I mean-” 

“Pink? Calcite?” Was called out in a graceful tone, as another gem entered the wide room. 

Uh oh. 

Pearl made her entrance into the room, looking for Steven and Spinel. 

“Pink? Calcite? Why did you two…” She stopped in her track, looking at the pink elephant in the room.  

Her face was emotionless, spare for her eyes widened in shock.

Pink looked back, just as silent. Then she grimaced.

“Uh… Pearl?” The pink diamond looked up at the white one, “Didn’t you reassign her or something?”

White shrugged. So Pink stood up - seemingly forgetting that pearl was in her hold and dropping her - as she approached Pearl. 

"Huh, it's really you. Nice to see you… again. It's been so long." 

Pearl stared up with her mouth open, then she glanced at Steven. 

"What sort of prank is this?"

"It's… hard to explain. This isn't a prank. This is… Rose."

Pearl took another glance at her in disbelief. 

"Hi." Pink raised a hand to greet her, awkwardly. 

"Come on now, you've got to be kidding- that's not her! What sort of trick is this?" Pearl held onto her head, it was starting to hurt. "She's… gone. She's supposed to be gone!"

"I've missed you." Pink suddenly whispered. "You weren't the best. But you were cute enough, I guess. And it was fun fusing with you. Oh!" She turned around, towards Pip who had picked herself from the floor by now and was dusting her knees off. "Perlyna, we should fuse! Did you know that that's heard of now?" 

Pearl bit her tongue, blushing. Then she summoned her weapon. 

"It really is you, Rose. No one else can… scar me emotionally so much in such short spawn of time." 

She pointed her weapon at the oblivious gem. 

But the next moment, Steven was standing between the two, once again covering Pink from a potential danger. Despite having grown quite a few inches in past two years, he still wasn't tall enough to really cover Pink from Pearl. 

But he wasn't alone. 

Spinel made her way over, standing before Pink and shielding Steven from her. She felt Pink's breathing reach her, as she stared into her eyes with one sole emotion. Spinel's arms trembled just a little. She thought she'd be mad and disgusted, facing off Pink. But right now, most of all, she felt scared. 

The one thing that was keeping her up was that she felt her back brush against Steven's. She made herself taller, so she felt his hair softly brush against her back. It kept her grounded. 

"Pearl, put away your weapon. No one's attacking her. She's here to… be a better person. I'll explain to you later." Steven patted her spear, "Trust me?" 

Not without hesitation, Pearl put away her weapon. 

Meanwhile behind them, Pink was squinting at Spinel, seemingly trying to recall where has she seen her before. 

"You don't look like a Calcite… where's your gem?" 

Spinel tried to take a step back from her, but only bumped into Steven's back. She held her hands over her chest - instinctively reaching to cover her gem. Steven felt that, and moved her behind himself, swapping their positions. 

"Now. Rose. Do you recall what you did to… this Pearl?" 

Pink squinted. 

"Uhhh… I left her somewhere?" 

Spinel choked, coughing loudly. 

"Try again." 

Pink concentrated, trying to remember, as Steven looked up to her with hope sparkling in his eyes. 

Come on, come on… remember me too.

"Oh!" Pink clapped her hands together, not even reacting to Perlyna who came closer by then, "You were my Pearl on Earth." 

On her side, Pearl was on the edge of giving up on reality and going berserk on the gem before her. She had only lost her grip on reality like that once before, and to this day she sometimes shuddered when anyone would say "good morning" next to her, or when someone put sunglasses next to slices of pizza.  

Pink giggled nervously, glancing at Steven. 

"What do I apologize for here?" She said through the shut teeth. 

"Try apologizing for never really caring that Pearl lo-" Pearl covered Steven's face, as she spoke for herself. 

"For never caring is where you can end it." 

"I did care about you." 

"It didn't feel so…" Pearl was glaring angrily. 

"Duh, fiiine. Sorry that it seemed to you that I never cared about you, Pearl ." 

Pearl reached for her weapon again. 

"Okay, wait!" Steven raised his hands up. "Maybe not all of her memories are back yet? Let's go show her the Earth. Then she might remember the rest…" 

Pearl nodded, postponing her murderous tendencies towards her. For now. 

 

Spinel had sneakily stepped away, and made her way over to the other diamonds. She extended her legs out, till she leveled with White’s ear, and whispered to her. 

“Chances are you’ll never see her again once we leave.” 

Then she descended back down, glancing at the company. She held her hands hidden in the jacket's pockets at all times. 

The Diamonds exchanged looks, before shining up and shapeshifting. They shrunk down, now standing just a bit above Pink’s height. 

“Rose.” White called out with unusual softness. 

Pink covered her eyes when they shined, but now, looking at them, was confused beyond comprehension. The three diamonds, now barely above her height, reached their hands out open for an embrace. Reluctant, Pink felt wrong about it. But just for them, she would do it. 

The (second) littlest diamond stepped forward, stopping when she let herself be circled by the three. White hugged her first, slow in her movements, and gentle in her being. She crossed her hands over around Pink’s back. Blue and Yellow hugged the two from around. The hug was tensed, and serene at the same time. Pink felt uneasy as she realized the diamonds didn’t want to let go. 

But they had to. 

She was gone after all. 

They whispered soft apologies, as they let go of her. Pink tried hard to pull a smile at them, and then walked off with the rest of smaller gems, not looking back.  

 

As they led Pink towards the warp pad, Spinel held onto Steven, wrapping her hand all around his own. The stress was starting to get to her. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

It wasn't until Pink came down to the lower floor of the building that she recognized the place she was in. 

"I remember!" She exclaimed. "We lived here! Gosh, the crystal gems never saw me like this. Are you sure it's okay that they know now?" 

Steven walked behind her. 

"No. It's not okay. They're not happy with what you did and left behind."

"Ah. Right." Pink's frown only lasted momentarily, until she eyed the fridge in the further corner. She licked her lips. 

"Do we still have Cookie Cats?" She asked. 

Everyone in the room - that being Steven, Spinel, Pearl, Perlyna, and Pink herself - kept quiet. 

"You know. Half vanilla, half strawberry cream in a chocolate coating? They also have this funny jingle - Cookie Cat! He left his family behind! - Hahaha, that's so funny! I loved them a lot. I used to eat a lot of them when I was…" 

Suddenly Pink held onto her stomach - where her gem was. And where Steven was once. 

"When I was…" she repeated, not finishing the phrase. 

 Before she could, the warp pad activated behind the company. Garnet stepped down from it. She registered Steven and Spinel first, smiling at the two. 

Spinel held tighter onto Steven, hiding behind him strangely when their gazes met, frowning about something. Garnet didn't get the meaning of that gesture - but before she could think more about that - she finally saw the big deal. 

Pink Diamond stood in the room, almost herself. 

Garnet unfused, her form turning to light and changing into two small angry looking gems who held their hands together. 

"Aww haha! That was Garnet!" Pink held her hands together, smiling. "...Where'd she go? I like her."

Steven felt Spinel shudder against him. 

"She's not here for you." Ruby replied, very displeased. 

"How is that even possible. I didn't see a single possibility of this." Murmured Sapphire. "The closest I saw to this was them returning with a gem child Steven, or Pink Steven." 

"I'm sorry, what?" Pink cleared her ear with a tip of her pinkie, "You spoke too quietly, I didn't hear you." 

"I did not speak for you." Sapphire salted, smiling smugly. 

 "Ugh, different gem fusion…" Perlyna rolled her eyes, "Earth is full of dirty, nasty things, am I right, my Diamond?" 

She was looking up at Pink with an expecting gaze of a puppy who had just performed the most elaborate trick she knew - did not ruin the carpet again. 

"I love everything on Earth." Pink simply replied, not mad, not seemingly aware of what she said at all, and walked around the room as she looked for more new things to discover. 

Perlyna sighed. Okay, come one. She was just… out of her focus for a second. Why was she thinking that it had to be a big deal?

Pink circled the counters, opening the drawers and quickly going through the weird boxes and bags she found, before switching to the next ones to look for something interesting or shiny. Steven sighed, approaching closer. 

"See, that's your problem. You do things without thinking of consequences. You just made everything fall out of the shelves. We put it there. You wouldn't want someone to come to your room and mess it up, would you?" 

"Well I mean," Pink raised up a carrot she found in the lower drawer, taking a bite of it, "You pwetty munch did come t'mine and mess it upf…" she spitted the vegetable out, tossing it aside as she wiped her tongue. "Ewh." 

"That's not an excuse…" 

To be honest with himself, Steven would have to admit that he had very little hopes in actually turning Pink Diamond around, even if he subtly knew that he would eventually… need her gem back. He didn't know if given the opportunity he would ask - force? Explain? - her for a sacrifice so he could live on. She was nothing like the Rose on the recordings. She was… real. 

Steven just wanted to find some maternity in her. And so far he found none. She ducked down to search through the lower drawers, and for that second that she disappeared from his gaze - Steven wondered if this was even really happening. 

The warp pad lit up again, this time placing down Jasper and Amethyst as the laughed together. 

"Oh, yeah, let's grab some snack. I gotta show you the kindergarden." Amethyst suggested, letting her taller sister do the honour. 

Jasper waved at everyone in the room, smiling innocently. She eyed everyone, not stopping her gaze on any of them in particular, and somehow that alarmed Spinel even more than if she stared at her. The small pink gem glared. 

"This will not end well in a long run." Sapphire whispered to Ruby.

 Adjusting the ponytail in which she now held her hair, Jasper made her way over to the counter to grab some food. Just as she approached it - Pink showed back up, clenching a bag of chips in her teeth. 

Jasper froze in place, holding her hands to her chest. Almost in a diamond salute. She mouthed “My diamond” with her mouth, but couldn’t even breath those words out. 

"Oh, he-ya." Pink said, dropping the chips back down. "Shoot." She picked the bag up, but didn't figure out how to open it, so she threw it at Jasper to catch. “You want em?”

Jasper seemed frozen in place, shocked with her mouth wide open and eyes shining weirdly. 

It was Amethyst's turn to worry. She took one look at Garnet- well, at Ruby and Sapphire - looking for any sort of answer. 

Sapphire crossed her arms, shaking her head. 

Amethyst nodded, rushing over, grabbing Jasper by hand and leading her out. Neither of them were mentally prepared for this. So they simply teleported away. 

"You've got to be kidding me…" Steven held his hand up to his face, rubbing down his cheek. "Guys, can you watch her? I'll be right back." 

He headed up the stairs, and was followed there by Spinel. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven paced around his room, with his hands behind his back, "I don't know how to feel about this."

"And I wish I didn't know how to feel about this." Replied Spinel, who sat on the edge of their bed. 

"It's not like she's irredeemable… but she's just so… uhh, irritating, frustrating. It just doesn't feel like she… cares. At all!" He stopped, turning to face Spinel. Her hair has been down for the whole day. 

"I imagined that she was childish - when I stopped idolising her I did - but I didn’t imagine that she was this much childish… How can she even be there? I… Pink Steven said she was gone! She must have been gone!" 

He held onto his head, his universal sign for anxiety. Spinel saw that. She stood up and came closer, reaching her hands and holding Steven by the shoulders. 

"I'm sorry. This is all because of me." 

"No, Spinel, no. You saved me. Pip did all of this, you saved my life." 

"But I reset him… her… I'm sorry. If I knew…" 

"There's no "if" now." Steven grabbed her hands into his own, lowering them down and holding firmly. "Mistakes were made. Let's do better than her - let's face them and work with the consequences here." 

"Let's not." Spinel suggested calmly. 

Steven let go of her hands at that, causing the gem in his jacket to gasp. 

"How can you say that?" 

"Steven, she's no less traumatizing for me to see than for you. I idolized her for a little longer than you lived. And I just… don't want to deal with this again now." She reached her hand out for him again, "I want to stay with you, where it's safe. Let’s wait this out together." 

"What are you even saying." Steven didn't take her hand. "My damn dead mom came back to life, I have to deal with that!"

"Well maybe you don't!" Spinel frowned, "This is not working out, she's not being any better, and you're just stressing yourself over it. Come on, let's leave it be. We can go and be happy together while this… dies out." 

Steven shut his eyes in frustration, "Spinel, are you actually crazy?" 

The gem grimaced, despite that he wasn't looking at her at that moment. 

"We can't just… leave her be, that's- that's what she'd do! Avoid the consequences! Don't be like her!" 

Steven lowered his hands and opened his eyes. They had the familiar diamond shapes in them again. 

"I'm not trying to avoid them, I'm thinking of your mental health!" Spinel insisted. Those eyes of his made her feel uneasy. 

"I'm not asking you to think of it!" 

Rage. Rage of the whole day so far has been building up in Steven at that moment. And he needed to let it out, he just needed to get that frustration out on… somebody. He looked at Spinel, Come on, do your usual.

Spinel crossed her hands. "I do more than I'm asked off." She reached her hand out, coiling it around Steven's palm. "You've had enough of her influence. You're coming with me." 

Steven eyed those familiar spirals in her eyes. How dared she tell him how to be or what to do? She was… just a spinel!  

Steven whipped his hand, breaking it free and slapping her hand away, as he snapped at her, 

"Don't tell me what to do, why can't you just shut up and face this with me? " He said in his diamond voice. 

Instantly. Something strange happened. Spinel took a step back, standing up still and straightened out, her limbs becoming their default size. She was moving like a robot. A mindless robot who’s hands raised up and crossed together at the tips, leaving a diamond shaped space between them. She saluted him. Diamond saluted him, as she uttered the words against her own will, 

"Yes, my Diamond." 

Her eyes were blank of feelings, devoid of emotion as she did that. She was behaving. Undoubtedly. Without a second thought. Like a puppet. 

Steven gasped in worry. 

Then both of them snapped back to reality. 

Spinel looked around, with her eyes only, as she tried to understand what just happened. She looked down at her hands, as if it wasn't her who formed a diamond shape with them. After a second she whipped her hands by her sides, gasping in fear. Her posture became imperfect again. 

Steven held his hands over his mouth, feeling guilty, as she looked up at him with a look filled with pain of a betrayed trust. He ordered her. Steven tugged onto his hair, not even knowing why did he choose to give in to his anger just a second ago. 

No, no, she was right, Spinel was right. Pink was rubbing off on him in the worst possible way. He had to stay away from her.

"Spinel, I…" he tried to start, to say anything to defuse this tension that formed between them, "I'm sorry." He whispered, almost sobbing. 

He reached his hand out, but Spinel immediately took a step back from him, holding her hands up defensively. 

"...I know." She said eventually. "You're… not like her..." I think

Spinel unzipped his jacket and took it off herself, reaching it for him. When he didn't take it, too startled by her action, she threw it on his bed, and turned around. 

"Wait… please?" Steven asked this time. Careful with his words now, when it was already too late. 

Spinel didn’t turn around as she replied.  

"I get it. I'll be fine. I just…" she bit her lips, the phrase was not easy for her to voice, "...need some time for myself." 

She walked off, seemingly walking over the edge of his balcony - but actually stretching her legs to step down from it safely in one easy step. 

Steven didn't see where'd she go. He slid down on the floor, coughing and tugging at his hair, stupid, stupid, stupid little diamond! 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

This was awful. This is awful. Pink was here, Spinel was gone, everyone was upset, Steven was getting worse. And worst of all - he couldn't even explain it. Seeing his allegedly mom made feel so surreal, and at the same time subconsciously pushed him to seek her comfort and approval. But she offered none, in fact, she was displeased with him. Displeased with his mere existence. Unamused, unimpressed, not valuing the life form she created. 

And it was the weirdest part that drove Steven up the walls - he already lived his whole life without it, why did have to matter now, when he met her? 

Why did it matter what she thought of him? 

Steven went back down, where Pink sat on the couch, surrounded by the other gems. Perlyna couldn't make her way to be near her, so she sat behind other gems, frowning at the sudden lack of her attention. 

Steven made his way to stand before the occupied pink gem. Apparently she snatched Pearl's phone and was now playing games on it. 

"Why did we never have this installed on you?" She laughed. 

Pearl still looked ready to kill, but Sapphire held her hand on her shoulder to keep her down. 

“The first piece will happen now.” Sapphire whispered. 

Steven reached for the phone in Pink’s hands, snatching it out. 

“My record!” His mom complained, “Why’d you do that?”

“Because you’re not here to play games.” Steven returned the phone to Pearl. “Now that you’re here, you have to-”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Face the consequences, apologize to gems or whatever.” She yawned, “Do we really have to go through with this? I think I like playing those “videos game” more than trying to be a good person.” 

Steven shook his fists, his eyes once again falling to the dark side of having diamonds inside of them. 

“Yes! You have to carry with it, you have to become a better person! You have to take this seriously!” He was starting to cry, but none of the gems around dared to stand up and say anything. He needed to do this on his own, they knew. 

“Here’s what I think of that.” Pink put a hand to her mouth, making a farting noise. 

“Why are you like this!” Steven shouted at her, while she just laughed back. “You’re supposed to think all life is precious, you’re supposed to care! You’re supposed to care about everyone in here, and even more gems! Gems that cared about you, I thought you were better!” Steven was full on crying by now, breaking down, “I- I always thought you were… always right, I thought you were perfect and kind and all loving! Now you’re just… you’re just…” 

Pink waited, patiently, smiling strangely and biting her lip in an attempt to hide it. 

The volcano of rage that Steven has been trying to suppress so poorly finally erupted. 

You’re just acting like a child! ” He threw his hands up. 

All the gems leaned back. Perlyna got shudders. 

Pink laughed more, “I am a child! What’s your excuse?” 

Steven slowly lowered his hands back down, crying. He just noticed he was crying. And now blushing. But out of a very strange embarrassment that washed over him suddenly, swallowing him like a giant wave of emotions, quick and deep. 

“What’s your deal, why do you care so much what I’ll think of you?” Pink continued to giggle at the lost gem in front of her. 

Why did he care? Steven knew. He didn’t want to say, but he knew. He wanted to cry and he wanted to scream and he wanted to hug her and he wanted to hug any of his maternal gem figures now. And he wanted her approval and he wanted her attention. Wanted to show her how to play with a frisbee and watch his favourite childhood movies with her and know what she’d think of it. 

“I do care what you think of me.” Steven sobbed quietly, admitting what he really didn’t want to admit, as he looked down. “I am your child.” 

 

Pink stopped laughing. 

Chapter Text

Pink stopped laughing, squinting her eyes at him. 

Still can't believe it?! Thought Steven.

She rubbed her chin, cycling through the memories and thinking of the ways to put this. 

"...Nora?"

Steven sobbed. He wanted to raise his hands up, ask for a hug, but couldn't bring himself to it. It felt strangely humiliating. 

"S-Steven." He stuttered out. "I was born a boy." 

"How am I supposed to know that?" 

Fair enough. Steven looked to the side. 

"Steven…" Pink looked down at her gem, placing a hand over it. "We… made it. Me and…" she turned her head up quickly. "Is Greg still around?" 

Somewhere behind them, Pip groaned in frustration, as she dreaded meeting another irrelevant character in the story she was slowly becoming a background character of. 

"He is." Steven grimaced. "But I don't think you should see him. It might be… too traumatizing for him." 

She was still not reacting in the way he thought she would. So through his immense embarrassment and mild sobbing, Steven raised his hands up, asking for a hug. 

Oh you’re so desperate, Pink thought. 

“Huh? Oh, sure.” 

Pink reached her hand out and... rustled his hair. The she used him as a support to stand up, and walked around the room, placing her hands on her hips. 

“So… how come both of us are here? Didn’t my gem… become yours?”

Steven frowned sadly, sitting where she sat a minute ago on the couch. The seat was cold. 

“It did. But then it was cracked in two and uh…” 

“So your gem - our gem? - our gem was cracked, and I emerged? Was I trapped there all along?” 

“No. It… used to be just me. But when you - when I - I don’t even know anymore.” 

Come on Steven. 

“When your part started to reform Sp… uh… you got hit with a rejuvenator.” Steven rubbed his hands together. 

“But… that doesn’t make sense.” Pink hummed, “Why am I here? If I was no longer there, you say… how did I come back when the gem got reset?”  

Steven covered his head, sighing. 

“I really don’t want to know that…” 

Alright. 

Pink walked back to him, stepping over Pip in her way, and crouching down next to her other half of a gem. 

“Alright. You know what? That doesn’t matter. I’m here now, somehow. And… and I see you. Wow…” Pink took another look at her son. “You’re… human. I made you. Wow.” 

Wow? Is that really all you can say about me? … Mmm-maybe you’re just shy? Still afraid to show emotions in front of others? Steven thought. 

I don’t think you get it. Was thought I'm reply to him. 

From behind the two, Pip clenched her little fists, shaking in fury. 

“Pink! I think it’s time to go!” She raised her voice. 

“Oh! You’re so right!” 

Pink grabbed Steven by hand, and led him to the warp pad, the surprised boy couldn’t even keep up at first. 

“I want to show you so many things!” Pink smiled. 

Steven looked up with hope in his eyes. Could it be that she was finally… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Could it be that she was finally breaking? Oh that was despair. This was absolute despair. Spinel pushed her head against the stairs’ railings, crying. Of course she couldn’t have gone far from Steven’s house. Had he came out - he’d find her right there where he left her. Sitting down on the staircase and crying her eyes out.  

Shut up and face it with me. 

“No!” She screamed to the voices only she could hear. His voice, his phrase, his tone - his order - hung in the air for her,  He ordered her. 

Shut up and face it with me.

She could not. She would not. She was made to follow orders, but times have changed. Too bad her coding didn’t. Spinel wrapped her limbs around the railings as the phrase kept repeating itself in her head. 

An order. A Diamond’s order. What’d be next? He’d ask her to stay somewhere, and wait, alone? 

“No!” She barked. “No, he would never! He’s not her, no! No! Go away!”

But it kept repeating. 

Shut up and face it with me.

Spinel bit into the railing. She would do anything - anything that would not be shutting up or facing it with him.

Would she have to tell Steven? He was so smart, he had to know by now that gems - especially those custom-made - had a very firm coding. She was a little too perfect. 

Firm coding… that did not strive well against Spinel’s broken will and shattered mentality. She howled, willing herself to hold on to the railings and not get up, not go to Steven now, not keep her mouth shut, not shut up and face it with him… 

Shut up and face it with me.

No. She would not be controlled again. She would not follow orders, and Steven would not be in charge. He would not! 

She cried out. This was wrong. She wanted him to be happy, not to control him!

But could she be happy herself without it?.. 

Spinel growled, as her eyes spiraled. Of course she could! What sort of stupid question is that, why would she even- Oh. 

Oh no. She was spiraling. Spiraling into the madness of her rage and vulnerability. Spiraling into overthinking simple words a milling times. So wild how every little thing seemed to matter so much. 

She felt like something light - like a butterfly - sat on her head. Spinel uncoiled one of her hands and tried to get it off - just to discover that it wasn’t a butterfly, it was just a little bug. 

Just a little bug… 

Shut up and- 

“No.” She said firmly, defeating her preset mind. Then she uncoiled all her limbs from the railings, making a firm mental decision. 

“I’m not going to do this alone.” She stood up and headed back inside the house. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven’s eyes had stars in them again, as his… mom… led him to the warp pad. So he’s get to see cool places she knew of and he’d get to hang out with her and he’d get her attention and her comfort and her approval- 

“Wait, that’s not what I meant!” Pip threw her hands, standing in front of the two. 

Somewhere behind her, Spinel opened the front door, and slowly made her way towards the two. She realized… her gem was no longer hidden. She held her hands up to cover it as she came closer. Ashamed? No. Just… not ready. Not yet. 

She stopped just a little behind the scenery that was unfolding. Pink saw her… but said nothing. 

“I thought you were going to spend time with me!” Pip went off. 

“Yeah, uhh, about that…” Pink rolled her eyes, “I’m kind of… getting tired of you. You’re really… eh, pesky?” 

Spinel froze in place and fear. 

“I-” Pip stuttered, “I risked everything for you! I brought you back!” 

Pink frowned, “I didn’t ask you to attack my… child.” 

Steven gasped, feeling strangely flattered, but also wrong about the things she was saying. Pip stepped back, torn between anger and fear. 

“Wh-what? Then what am I to do now?” 

“Could you uh…” Pink glanced at Spinel, out of pure curiosity, as she spoke, “Could you wait here for me?” 

“NO!” Spinel screamed as if she was a human who just got stabbed with a knife to their chest, taking a step back and throwing her hands to the sides. Revealing her heart. 

She raised her hands, ready for an attack. It was the fight response, as she was scared. Steven saw that - he didn’t blame her. But for the safety of everyone he instantly activated the warp pad, teleporting him and Pink away before she could do more damage. He looked sorry. 

But Spinel didn’t see that. All she saw was that Steven ran from her, as she was being hurt.  

Over and over again… 

Pip fell to her knees in a position that was all too familiar to Spinel, tucking her legs below herself and crying, as her best friend drifted away. What was she to do now? Betrayed and abandoned… 

As Pink left the room, the remaining Crystal Gems sighed. Sapphire reached her hand to pick Ruby’s face by the chin, and make her look at her. The two small gay gems smiled at each other, as Sapphire took the lead and kissed Ruby. She liked being together like this, and they both wouldn’t refuse to stay happy together for a while… 

But Garnet refused. Garnet refused so that both could be happy together, and so could she. Her friend needed help after all. 

Her visor was off as she approached Spinel. Poor gem had a lot on her plate the whole day, and things weren’t looking bright for her in the long run. Garnet reached a hand out, placing it down on Spinel’s shoulder, as she looked at her with a fond smile. 

Spinel twitched on the soft impact, slowly turning her head towards the invader of her personal space. Utter fear and relative disgust written in all caps on it. 

“Let go of me.” She seethed. 

Garnet only stared at her, taken aback by a reply she didn’t see coming. 

“Let. Go. Of. Me!” Spinel slapped her hand off, in rising rage. 

But just like a splash of water, it instantly died down, as she glanced up - up above her - at the tall and strong gem she just hit. Provoked? Angered? 

Garnet wasn’t angry. Just confused. Wondering if she just did something wrong, misread a que, or if Spinel just couldn’t let herself be touched now. She raised her hands up, showing that she didn’t intend to cross her boundaries. 

But all that Spinel saw was Garnet raising her hands to summon her weapons and hit her. 

Maybe shatter if she pleased… 

Spinel walked back from her, almost collapsing down as she bumped into the front door. 

“Sorry…” She whispered in a stuttering voice. “Sorry, I’m… I’m sorry!” 

“Spinel?” Garnet said, softly, with a lot of concern and worry on her face. 

“Spinel!” Spinel heard with a lot of rage and disgust coming from someone who was mad at her. 

Without taking her eyes off Garnet, she searched for the doorknob behind herself awkwardly. Once she felt it, she twisted it open and ran out, leaving the gems in the room utterly confused and lost in guesses. 

All gems except for Pip. Pip didn't give a damn as to what was happening around anymore. Pink just left her. Left her while she had a free will to be with her or not. After all that Pip did for her… the little pearl held herself together, crying. Sobbing it all out in a place filled with gems she could not care less about. 

Garnet put her shades back on, scanning for the futures where Spinel told her what was going on. And she saw quite a few where she talked with her, but non where Spinel explained herself. What was up with her… 

And was something up at all? Perhaps Garnet just got mistaken for a hot second. Spinel was under a lot of stress right now. And she was seeing her and Steven falling in the moonlight soon. Perhaps she could leave it be for another day. Spinel clearly needed space right now. 

Garnet looked at her slapped hand. Right. Some other day… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven landed himself and Pink on the warp pad in the Prime Kindergarten. He felt bad. Bad for leaving Spinel behind, hurt like that. Bad for leaving everyone behind in the moment his emotions took control of his mind. 

But right now… he had an excuse. He had something very important to do. 

"...Do you remember this place?" Steven pointed around. "I've been here before too." 

Pink crouched down on the edge of the elevated warp pad, glancing around. Unfamiliar scenery. Steven stood by her side, shyly. Just like Perlyna would a short while ago. 

"Hey, over here!" Someone called the two over. 

Amethyst showed out of one of the holes. 

"Get yourselves hiding spots! We're playing!" 

Steven smiled at her, nodding. He reached for Pink's hand again. Excited that he could actually play games with his mom for once, and not just like that one time in his room. 

"Let's play hide and seek along?" 

Pink nodded. She grabbed Steven up and jumped down, slowing her descend. Steven coughed as they flew to the ground. 

Before the two could join in, Jasper showed from around the corner, instantly greeting the two newcomers. From where she was allegedly hiding, Amethyst sighed, jumping down. 

"Alright, alright. This doesn't count." She walked between her sister and her brother. "Jas, what do you say we let the two play with us?" 

Jasper still stared awkwardly whenever she saw Pink. 

I really hope this will not bite him in the butt later, thought Pink.

The three gems agreed to play. It was decided that Amethyst would search, so every gem ran in their own directions once she started to count. 

Pink walked through the unfamiliar places, deep in her thoughts. It was nice to see the world herself for once. Perhaps she was wrong. But a lesson had yet to be taught. She only hoped she would not cause permanent damage. Pink held her hand under her chin, posing gracefully while no one watched, as she laughed in a mocking way. 

But someone was watching. 

"Pink?" 

She tensed up, turning around to look at the gem who caught up to her. 

"Jasper." She sighed. She really wanted to hit her in the face, but just couldn't. 

"Pink… diamond?" Jasper came closer, looking scared and worried as she had never been seen. Confused at her own action, she folded her hands in a diamond salute. 

"My Diamond." 

"No, it's just…" Pink blew through her lips, shaking her head. "What are you doing here?" 

"I wanted to see you. And…" Jasper sat on one knee before her. "To tell you that I swear my loyalty to you." 

The orange gem reached her hand out, looking to hold Pink Diamond's hand and kiss the back of it in respect. 

Pink sighed, very frustrated and bored of it. She jolted her hand back. 

"Yeah, cool, whatever." She yawned. "Don't you have to be hiding?" 

"We are hiding, my Diamond." Jasper smiled in a way that made her feel concerned. "We are your gems. And all we want is to pay our respect to the ways it used to be, not the ways it is now, in the era of this… stupid fluffball of a weird hybrid-" 

Jasper froze mid sentence, as she looked up and found Pink looking at her with a lethal stare. 

"Don't say that about Steven. He is my… son." Pink growled. 

"My Diamond…" Jasper stuttered in sudden fear, as she lowered her head in a bow. 

"If you let a single hair fall from his head - I will find you. And I will…" Pink raised her hand, clasping her fist suddenly. "Shatter you." 

Jasper was frozen in place, while Pink made her way back, walking around her, and disappeared in the distance. The buff gem felt her form tremble, as her gem shined up in a sudden wave of emotions and memories… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Steven?" Pink called out, when she returned to the center of the Kindergarten. He wasn't around. What if she had lost him? Pink closed her eyes, turning her head around… 

Then she opened them again, now looking for a familiar scenery. She found it, and approached it, finding the other half of her gem hiding behind a rock. She looked over it, leaning on it with one hand. 

"Steven, I'm bored of those quartzes. Let's go back. I'm sure it's calm home now." 

Steven jolted up as she found him, surprised. It seemed like she started talking to him before she saw him. But she couldn't have known that he was there… right? 

"Oh, uhm… mom? We can't just leave." 

"Duh, yeah we can." She frowned. 

"No, I mean- we need to warn Jasper and Amethyst or they'll think they've lost us and keep searching." 

"Oh please. They can figure out we left." Pink leaned down over the rock. "Won't you listen to your… mother, Steven?" 

The way she phrased it tossed Steven into the middle of an emotional tornado. That was very clearly intended as a manipulation, but also… she just admitted to be his mom. 

Steven allowed himself to make a mistake of letting the latter drown out the rest of his worries. He stood up, following her out of the Kindergarten, feeling a bit of regret as he'd imagine Amethyst helplessly searching for him for hours. The boy coughed. 

They warped away. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven didn't usually come to that warp pad location, but he liked it nonetheless. It was an edge of a field, with a horizon that was visible clear as day to a naked eye. The edge looked like a hill that was cut off in the middle. Pink sat on that edge, looking out at the setting sun. She swayed her legs back and forth. Steven sat down next to her.

"Karen." 

"Huh?"

"We wanted to call you Karen." Pink turned her head at him. 

"It's a good thing you didn't call me Karen." Said the boy who has been browsing the internet for the last 10 years. 

"And cat. I wanted to call you Cat, but Greg said we would have to call you "Katherine" to let you be Kat." She shook her head, "That's so ridiculous… We also wanted to call you Ezra. Or Rock. I even thought Pebble. Or Greg Junior." 

"You guys had a lot of options, I see." 

"We did," Pink lied through her teeth. 

"What was it like?" 

"Unimpressive." Pink coughed. 

Steven coughed too, but not as conveniently or made up as she did. 

The silence filled the air. 

"...Did you… know dad's last name was DeMayo?" 

"It is?"

"Yeah." 

"Cool." 

Nothing was fixing the awkward silence. Not even the new burst of Steven coughing. 

"I… like cartoons."

"Oh. I don't," Pink blurted. 

Steven wiped his eyes from the tears that threatened to fall. They had to have something in common, something they could talk about… 

"I love the Crystal Gems."

"Thanks. I started them." 

"You also made me." 

Pink sighed. "Yeah…" 

Steven held onto himself, since she wasn't hugging him. And he felt a weird jolt of shivers run down his spine. 

"Are you proud of the Crystal Gems?" 

"Eh. I've had toys more interesting before." 

"Well, then, then…" he coughed. "Are- are you proud of… of…" 

He didn't get to finish the sentence as he had another coughing fit, this time accompanied by shivers. His health was giving out. Steven's eyes shot wide open. He needed his other half of a gem back, or this was going to end badly. 

But… how would he even go about it? Not only was the current bearer of it extremely unimpressed and not fond of him - she was also a person that he had just found and did not want to lose - his mother. 

"We- we need to go back." Steven got up, heading towards the warp pad and shaking in his jacket. 

"Aww. I was loving the view," Pink complained, as she laughed at him when he wasn't looking, and followed him. 

Steven tried to bury deeper into his jacket, away from the cold and merciless situation, feeling a familiar smell coming from it suddenly… cotton candy and strawberry and vanilla… the components of… 

"Spinel…" He whispered softly, outside of Pink's hearing radius. They teleported back to home. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Pearl sat on the couch by herself, when Steven walked by her. No one else was in the room. Steven glanced up at her. 

"Steven? You don't look very good…" 

"Where's everyone?"  

"Pip left a while ago. I'm not sure where'd she go. Garnet and S… and Calcite are outside." 

"She's here?" Steven forgot that he was feeling bad momentarily. 

"Which? Well, yes. But I'm more concerned as to where Pip could have gone- Steven?"

Steven didn't hear the end of it. He ran outside, as fast as he could. Leaving Pearl alone with Pink. 

 

Pink sighed, feeling her demise inching closer. She leaned on the counter, crossing her hands. 

"Thank you." 

Pearl glared. 

"For loving him. Thank you for loving him and taking care of him." 

"Well, someone had to." Pearl crossed her hands as well. 

"I know I do." Pink smirked. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven was wrong about one thing. After he left the kindergarten, Amethyst didn't continue looking endlessly. She saw him leave with his mom, ostensibly. And then she saw another gem use the warp pad. 

Pink Pearl jumped into the dirt and ran as fast as she could, her little pink ballet shoes turning brown from all the mud. She hid in the first hole she found to be of convenient size, and started to cry her eye out. 

"What's your issue, tiny?" Someone asked outside of her hole. 

"Go away!" She screamed. 

"Is that 'bout Steven?" Jasper attempted to talk again. Pip replied nothing, and she continued. 

"If ya got an issue with him - come see me after the sun sets in the open fields. We'll talk. I know a bunch of gems who'll probably relate to you." 

"What sort of gems?" Asked the soft little Pearl. 

Jasper smiled in a twisted way. Despite looking softer again, after she reformed, her sly personality was in place once again. 

"We call ourselves the war gems…" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven made his way down the stairs outside the house, starting to hear two gems talk below. 

 

"Are you afraid of me?" 

Spinel sat very still, with her hands held together, staring up at the fusion who sat down by her side with a blank expression. 

"No. I'm sorry." Her tone was monotone, "I was under a lot of stress and I don't think I even realized it was you." 

"I don't blame you." Garnet replied, feeling like the smaller gem wasn't saying the full truth. She tried to grab Spinel's shoulder again. The fuchsia gem's face twitched unnoticeably, but she showed no reaction. She just glanced at the hand on her shoulder, and back up at Garnet. 

Stay s… still, and it will end sooner. 

"Everything is alright." Spinel lied. 

Garnet frowned at her, wanting to dig deeper but knowing that nothing could be dug up now. But then… 

"Guys?" 

The two gems looked up at the boy who approached. 

"Spinel? May I… talk to you?" 

Yes please just save me now.

Spinel nodded, and Garnet stood up on her que, letting the two have a talk. 

Spinel was looking at him very sadly as he came closer. Steven stopped a few steps below her, sitting down and placing his hand on her knee. When she showed no protest, he laid his head in her lap. 

"I'm sorry."

"I know." 

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” Spinel smiled as Steven said that. That was usually her phrase. “I just… chased after her attention. But now I feel like I just closed my eyes on… everyone.” Steven raised his head to look at Spinel. “But that’s half the problem. That’s not even the problem at all. I’m just… so sorry that I pushed you away.” 

Oh Spinel smiled. She was growing to like this. Steven was no diamond - here he was, by her knees, begging for forgiveness. He was no ruthless master. There he was, like a kitten on her lap. She deposited her head over his own, nuzzling against the curly hair. 

"I understand…" she purred. 

"You're so good to me." Steven closed his eyes, feeling calmer, feeling at ease for the first time since this mess started. "You're so magical." 

Truly, he felt as if the gloomy clouds were lifted up all of a sudden, and he had traveled to another dimension. And in this dimension they were together alone, at inner peace, content and had all that they needed in each other. Just like in their fusion.

This… was what he needed. Nothing else. 

Spinel curled his hair around her fingers, humming softly. There he was. Finally home. 

"How can I make it up to you?" He asked softly. 

"Mmm… just stay with me. I wanna be with you… alone…" Spinel murmured, letting her guard down temporarily. "I just wan' the two of us…" 

"I want that too." Steven whispered back. 

Then he looked up at the sky. The moon was full, just like the night they met. And it reflected so beautifully on the endless sea, gently drawing its mirror image on the waves, in the motion of life. It was quiet. Nothing was wrong. He coughed. Nothing was wrong… 

"Spinel?"

"Yes?"

"Toss me up. Please." 

Spinel raised her head in surprise. 

"Do the what now?" 

Steven got up, standing on the sand below the staircase. 

"Toss me up and catch up to me." 

"I dunno…" Spinel glanced down at his half a gem with doubt. 

"I'll be fine. Trust me. I just need you to-"

Before Steven finished, he giggled as Spinel grabbed him up the hips and spin around rapidly, before tossing high to the sky. 

As he found himself making his way through the clouds, Steven easily slowed his descend, coughing a bit as he held his jacket closer for warmth. It was kind of humid… 

Then Spinel showed up, catching up to his level, and reaching her hand. But she didn't count her momentum through - didn't account that he'd change his descend speed - and she felt herself start to lose the height before she could reach him. Not that that was dangerous, she’d just try again once she’d land. It would just feel frustrating and bad… 

But it didn’t. With perfect precision, Steven fastened his descend momentarily, grabbing Spinel’s hand and bringing her closer for a tight hug. Surprised but delighted, Spinel held onto him too. Then he slowed their descend again, as the moonlight illuminated the soaring pair. 

Spinel saw the stars in Steven’s eyes. And Steven saw hearts in her own. On que that they both felt coming - they leaned closer to each other, sharing a soft kiss. 

“This is how I always feel with you.” Spinel said, as they parted so that Steven could breath. 

“I know. This is how you make me feel all the time.” 

Being so close with Spinel and absolutely away from anyone to see them felt so personal - it sent shivers down his spine. Or maybe it was the wind. Steven coughed again. This was getting annoying. 

“What’s this?” 

“I’m not sure…” Steven turned his face to the side, coughing away from her, even if he couldn’t exactly spread the virus to a different form of life. It just would have been rude. “I might be getting sick.”

“Is this- is this because…” Spinel glanced down Steven’s body, a gesture somehow made Steven’s mind wonder for a minute. 

“...What? Oh! My gem… I mean…” Steven felt shivers run down his spine, but not from the wind for once. From what he remembered. “I… I could be dying?” 

“What?!” Spinel coiled her hands around him tighter. 

“Wait, no! I’m fine, I mean. I’ve…” Steven opened his eyes wide suddenly. “My powers! They’re in place! But… You glued my gem back… I… I don’t get it! But they’re working! I feel fine, but… I don’t get it.” He coughed more, feeling a scratch in his throat worsen as he spoke. 

“You need your other half.” Spinel concluded. 

“You’re- cough- You’re the only other half I need.” Steven covered his mouth. “But we need to… settle the gem thing… Spinel?” 

He lost her at the “the only other half I need”. Her eyes were widened and trembling, it felt like they were shining. Her smile certainly was beaming. Spinel leaned into him, tying all the limbs she could around him, as she buried her face below his own, giggling. 

“You’re all I need too!” She laughed innocently. 

Did he have a heart to tell her that they needed to go down now? No, Steven did not. He held back onto her, laughing back and landing a little kiss on her head. Her hair tickled his face softly, and as she turned her head to nuzzle against him happily, it swayed, pet him, got under his nose, and he, and he- 

“Achoo!” 

Spinel uncoiled at once, making a noise of a startled cat. Her descend didn't slow at first. But then she looked down, only then realising that it was a mistake, as she plummeted down, losing Steven’s touch. Steven saw that, after he rubbed his reddening nose. He quickly fastened his descend again, now flying with his belly facing the ground, catching up and holding his hands out for her.

Did Spinel get to feel scared before that happened? Who knows. Of course she wasn’t afraid of falling from high heights. But seeing Steven drifting next to her certainly was a sight she would not be afraid to risk her life for. She held her hands in his own, as her (allegedly) elbows coiled around the boy. She brought him closer, turning so that her legs faced the ground. And there she was, now holding him. Smiling at the boy in her limbs with a find smile. That’s right, she kept him safe, she always would. 

Spinel extended her shoes out just before reaching the shore, making herself bounce up and back down a few times as she reached the ground. It was somewhat akin to being on a trampoline ride, Steven thought. Finally they were grounded, and Spinel helped him step down on his own legs. It didn’t escape her gaze that Steven shivered, holding himself together. 

“Let’s go. We have something to settle.” 

She helped him walk back to the house. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Two things happened at the same time, but only one of them was noticed. 

The warp pad lit up, and a single pale pearl known as Pip landed on it, and Steven and Spinel walked into the room from the opposite side of that. 

It was a weird scenery that they walked back to. Pearl was sitting on the couch next to Pink… and she was laughing with her. Not mockingly, not angrily, not saltily. Genuinely laughing. But also seemingly concerned for something. As she eyed the two, she quit her laughing, now looking more collected and serious. She moved back away from Pink.

Garnet came down the stairs as they returned.  

“Oh hey. Ya left? I didn’t notice.” Pink said, placing her elbow on her knee and prepping her head on it. Looking bored once again. 

“Mom…” Steven looked up at her. “We need to talk.” 

Pink waved her hand, go on. 

“You only have half the gem. So do I. And I… think I might need your half. Otherwise I…” Steven glanced back at Spinel. “I won’t be complete. You’re already been a part of me. I’m… missing you now.”

Pink put both her elbows on her knees, crossed her arms, and deposited her unamused looking face on her hands. 

“That so, huh?” 

“Yes.” Steven frowned. 

Pink glanced at Spinel, down her exposed gem, and back at Steven again. 

“You still play with toys?” She mocked. “Well. I guess a child stays a child, but… wow.” 

Spinel stuttered, and if she had a heart she would have felt it sink now. 

Steven puffed his cheeks, as he pointed at Spinel, “This is not a toy . This is Spinel. She’s a gem of her own mind, with her own life and choices.” Steven made a step closer towards Spinel, grabbing her hand, “And I love her!” 

“Okay?” Pink rolled her eyes. 

Steven closed his eyes, feeling the familiar anger rise up in him. The diamond shapes threatened to appear again… 

And then he felt something else. Spinel gripped his hand back. 

And then… it clicked. 

Whatever has cracked inside of Steven several hours ago - clicked back together. 

“ “ Okay”? You know what?” He bought Spinel closer as he spoke to his mom, “I… I don’t need this!” 

Pink blinked, her expression neutral. Though her eyebrow slowly raised up as he spoke. 

“I don’t need you! Yes, that’s- that’s right, I don’t need you to love me - I already love myself. And I don’t need you to respect me - I respect me! And I don’t even need you to know me, for all I care! You can go away, you can keep your half a gem and go and live a life and never even see me! I don’t need you in my life! ” 

Steven expected that it would be much more harder to say that. But as he voiced the last part - he found that he felt… much easier. As if a heavy weight had finally left his shoulders. 

“I don’t need the mom you would have been!” He screamed more, feeling lighter and lighter, easier as he spoke, “I already have the best mothers I could have ever wished for! I have the best dad I could ever wish for! And I’ve always had Pearl, always had Garnet, I always had Amethyst, I have the Diamonds as my aunts or grandmothers or something, and I- I have Spinel! They’ve all always been there for me, when I was sick, when I was weak, when I was down and sad and scared. They always supported me and they always loved me, and I know they’ll always love me too! I don’t need you to support or approve of my life! I already have all that I need. ” 

Steven stopped to catch his breath, coughing more. It took everything from what was left of his voice to say it, as the itchy throat got the best of him. 

But at least he said it. At least he said it to himself. 

Pink kept looking at him. Then she closed her eyes, letting her expression soften momentarily. She put her hands down and spoke again, but in a different tone. Not the childish mocking one that she has been using all along. 

She spoke in a soft and comforting tone, with a soft sigh of relief in her voice, 

“Finally. I thought we’d never come here.” 

Steven grimaced at her in confusion, as Pink started to laugh. In a pure and soft laughter that sounded like a ringing a Lily of the Valley would have made, had it been a real little bell. 

It wasn’t as annoying, but Steven still tried to cover his ears to avoid hearing her mock him, probably. It didn’t feel like she was mocking him now, but he covered his ears and eyes. And suddenly found… 

That he was still hearing her inside of his head. 

Steven opened his eyes wide. One of his eyes was missing its vision. It was pure white and shining, just like Pink shined up before him, changing her shape into Rose Quartz (whom Spinel did not register), and then turning into… 

A mirror image. An identity. A happiness. An other half of a single being. 

Pink Steven. 

Everyone in the room stayed quiet, looking at the scenery. 

It was the pink elephant in the room that broke the silence first himself. 

“Took you long enough.” He smirked. 

Steven blinked twice at him. Then the event kicked in, and he opened his mouth again. 

“What the fuck.” 

Pink Steven laughed more, smiling. “Did you really think I would let us slide?” 

“Let us slide??” Steven raised his hands, confused, begging for an explanation. 

“Do you not remember? Before I reformed. You doubted. ” 

Steven looked down quietly, recalling that he truly did doubt for a second that his other half would reform out of the other part of his gem. 

“I don’t… I don’t get it…” 

No one got it. 

Pink Steven eyed everyone in the room, smiling contently - that was new - as he decided he’d let them see behind the curtains a little more. 

“We were back the moment they used the healing tears on us. Did you not question why did all our powers work after being rejuvenated? But I felt you doubt that our mom was gone. So I had to remind you.” 

“Remind me by… pretending to be her?” Steven coughed out. 

“Remind you that she’s gone, and remind you that we don’t need her to love us.” Pink Steven placed his hands on Steven’s shoulders. “We already love ourselves.” 

"Steven?" Spinel whispered from behind. 

"Oh, uhm, Spinel. This… is my identity. I told you about it." 

"So he's back now, so… you're not dying? Yes?" She was mildly confused, and very concerned. 

Both Stevens replied in unison, looking at her softly, "I am not dying, this is just a human cold." 

Then Steven looked at his pink self again. 

"But… I don't get it. That's such a… such a…" 

"Dick move." Finished Pink Steven. 

Pearl frowned at him. 

"Why would I do this to myself?" Steven asked, looking at himself. 

"Why would we not." Pink Steven replied. "We have hurt Spinel in our anger today. We could allow to hurt ourselves just to remember what is important." 

"I…" Steven held onto his head. Pink Steven mirrored his motion. "I really did… Pip threw me off balance, and then all that stuff with… gosh… all I did was let my anger take the best of me today." 

Steven rubbed his head, turning back to look at Spinel once again. 

"I am so sorry." Both said once more. 

"I'm a little confused but that's alright." Spinel rubbed her hands together shyly. "I'm just glad you'll be fine." Then she got a thought that she realised she would not live in peace if she wouldn't commit now. 

She stepped forward, between the two, hugging her Steven. Steven hugged her back, and just like she expected, Pink Steven stood up and hugged her as well from behind. She got safely sandwiched between the two, warmly covered from the cold world outside... 

She giggled. Alright, she was right. This felt good. This felt like home. This felt… safe.  

She nuzzled against her boys, letting the moment last an eternity. 

Reluctantly, she let go, stepping behind and looking at the two halves of a single gem lovingly. 

Around the two, Pearl and Garnet still sat quietly, smiling, exchanging knowing looks. 

And somewhere in the distance, Pip was sitting down on the warp pad, letting the despair of her life sink in. 

"Still." Steven turned at himself. "That was a dick move." 

"Let us be better then." 

"And handle our anger better." 

"We are not Pink."

"She is gone." 

"And we are better."

"We are we."

"We are me." 

The two laughed, hugging each other, letting their gems glow up - and soon after instead of the two mirror images, there was a single boy in the room, hugging himself. Loving himself. Loving being himself. 

And living his own life, in which he already had all the love he needed. 

Spinel approached him first, hugging him. Behind her came Garnet, hugging both kids with her arms. And then Pearl joined the hug.

In the distance, Pip teleported away into unknown destination. 

Pearl patted Steven's head, while Garnet pet Spinel's head. The little fuchsia gem kept her emotions to herself, while Steven smiled at the comfort of his family. 

"I'm glad you've remembered who you are, and that you love yourself." Pearl began softly. 

"We're proud of you, Steven." Garnet smiled. 

"But you're still getting grounded for mentally scarring us while you learned your lesson." Finished Pearl. 

Steven frowned momentarily, but looking at Spinel in his arms, realised that being stuck with her together in his room wasn't such a bad perspective for now. 

After all, he probably needed it anyways, as the time he got wet in the rain on a beach day finally caught up to him, and as he… 

As he…

As he…

"Achoo!" Steven hid his face into his sleeve, while the two knowing gems stepped back from his sneezing. 

But not Spinel. 

Spinel jumped up, startled, springing to the ceiling and looping around some wooden plank sticking out of it. 

Steven looked up at her, wiping his red nose with his sleeve. Spinel glanced down, shaking, concerned. But he seemed calm, so she calmed down too, now tugging her limbs back to uncoil them… and realising that she got some of them tied together on accident. She puffed her cheeks, blushing in embarrassment, as Steven noticed what happened to her. 

Then they both laughed about it. 

Chapter Text

 

"You can come down, I promise this is… a normal human thing. That's just sneezing." 

Spinel glared at the boy on the bed from the top of his shelf. 

"Well, if you say so…" She stretched her legs, stepping down, still holding up the bowl of soup she carried from the kitchen, "But it… gives me bad feelings." 

Steven moved back on his bed, dragging with him the several blankets he was curled up into, making way for his gemfriend to sit next to him. 

"But I'm the one sneezing? I'm sorry, does the noise startles you?"

"It's not the noise…" 

Spinel reached the bowl for the boy who took it carefully. She let him nestle in her lap, while she ran her hands around that worm of blankets that he was. Steven motioned for the lack of spoon in the bowl to use, but to his delight it wasn't missing. Spinel just had it in her hand. She poked Steven's cheek with a soft giggle, as she took care to feed him the healing soup by spoon herself. 

"You're so adorable like this… I almost feel bad that you're gonna be healthy again soon." 

"You uhm… I don't have to be sick for you to feed me by spoon..." Steven covered his face, but Spinel lowered his hand back down from it, looking at the pretty little blush on his face. He was almost as pink as she was on his cheeks. 

"Sooo uh… what is startling you, if it's not the noise?"

"Oh uhm…" Spinel coughed, then quickly shoved another spoon into the boy's mouth, "How's the soup, Stevie?" 

Steven reached for her hand before she shoved another silencer his way. 

"Spinel?"

"I don't want you to get wrong ideas about me." 

The boy shifted to hold her by the hand. 

"I'll trust you." 

"I'm… surprised that you don't already know." Spinel tilted her head, "I'm supposed to be your friend. Instead I love you - that's my own… decision to be. But that doesn't… doesn't cancel out that I'm…" she looked away from him, "I'm made for a Pink Diamond." 

Steven let her speak on, waiting patiently. 

"It's like I'm programmed to always care about you. Sense your location and mood, and stuff." She turned her head back at him, "I don't want you to think that that's the reason I want to be with you! I do love you, that's more than what I was made for." 

"I get it, I get it." Reassured the boy in her hold. "I trust you. And I wouldn't… blame you for this. I think you were made for me as much as I was meant to be your friend. But you know I love you for more than that." He paused, momentarily. "Oh, now that makes sense!" 

"Huh?" 

"Why I startle you when I sneeze. Humans kind of die for a second when they sneeze." Steven bit his lips, "I'm literally giving you heart attacks. Whoa… I'm sorry." 

"Humans work really weird." Spinel concluded. 

She still wanted to go to Homeworld to have some sense of upper hand in knowing how things work, but this was not the time and not the settings. They tried to go there, and ended up with a whole mess spiraling out of Pink Pearl in her unattended grief. At least there she would feel like she knew how things work that Steven didn't know anything about. She wanted to feel above, for some time. And she did find some of that feeling while she cared for him, tended to him, fed him… 

"You're the one to talk. But… look, I'm sorry. I don't know what's gotten onto me yesterday, but I promise to you - I'll never order you again."

She didn't feel like he would keep that promise. And the intrusive thoughts of how could that fear come to fruition gave her unwanted worries and mental images. 

"I take your word for it." She replied, stretching her hand to set the empty bowl back down. 

"I could have came and picked that myself!" Pearl screamed from the kitchen, when she saw the pink hand stretch all the way down from Steven's room to place it in the kitchen sink. But the hand only put the tip of the pointing finger to the tip of the thumb, as it reeled all the way back up. 

Back where it was meant to be - hugging Steven. 

"Are you cold?" Spinel murmured, nuzzling against the boy. She just wanted to do anything for the boy who meant the world to her. "Can I get you anything?" 

" 'M good, thank you. Just stay here."

Steven let himself be held and be protected. It reminded him of being a small child and seeking comfort from his friends and finding it in physical affection. 

Just how much did Spinel know about it? She spent first part of her life exploited, second by standing still, and the third one was now. Was she touch starved? Perhaps there was another word to describe her level of touch depravity.

She wasn't touch starved. She was touch dead. 

Spinel was still in a long long road to recovery. It's been so long… has anything changed? There were times she wanted to cry her eyes out when the despair of her seeming lack of progress would show up. It all felt hopeless. It felt like she could be abandoned, it felt like she would get controlled, it felt like she had to be in a certain way so that Steven wouldn't grow bored and leave her behind. And it was tear jerking when she'd let herself focus on all of that. 

She was falling, spiraling, drifting further into the shadows that tied around her limbs and mouth like the Garden vines, and held her back from reaching for help. 

It was awful. It was so hard to open up about anything. To admit sadness, hurt, hysteria, panic. To admit the feelings she couldn't even name. To hope that she would not be annoying anyone around her had she reached out for help. And she needed that help so much more often than she actually asked for it. 

Steven was her last hope. A hope that she could be pulled out of this and be whole again someday. And more than anything it was embarrassing to admit she had only relapsed back since they were together. 

As for Steven. He felt relieved he no longer found himself trying to walk the eggshells around Spinel. He thought she was making good progress, although certain moments had him worried. 

Spinel was talkative, the more she was excited - the more she'd talk. So any sort of prolonged silences or pauses were never a good sign. The boy suspected she was withholding talking about her feelings. 

Still he had hopes for her. Hopes in himself - to change her for the better. Not for himself - Steven has learned he will love her no matter what she will become and no matter how far down she'll fall. He wished better for Spinel. And he would make her content with her emotions and imperfection. 

No matter what or how long it'll take. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Reality came knocking on the door of his conscious in the face of a hand that slowly stroked his face and played with his hair a little. Steven reached to hold that hand in his own, feeling a soft kiss follow on top of his hand. 

Spinel…  

He wished he could one day give this back to her - wake her up softly, into the world of love and adoration he had a plenty of to put into her. 

"What time?" He hummed. 

"Still sunny." Spinel replied, holding his warm hand in both of her own. 

Steven shook off the cocoon of blankets he had build around himself, like a butterfly coming to life in her new attire. He felt somewhat better, but still hot from the heat of this fever he caught. 

The gem by his side looked oh so lovingly at the boy with the messy hair and circles under his sleepy eyes, and a little trail of salvia that stilled on his chin. She loved it all about him. He couldn't help but smile back. 

"Ya hungry, boyo?"

"I'm good." 

"Pearl said to check your temperament when you wake up." Spinel said, reeling her free hand for the thermometer on the bed stand. She couldn't tell why did Steven suddenly laugh at her words, but it felt nice to be of entertainment, whatever was the reason that that happened. 

"I feel good, really." Steven took the device from her. "Though… there is one thing…" 

"Yes?" Anything, love. 

"It's just that…" Okay, okay, just an attempt, "I've been… I've done a lot of bad things lately…" 

Steven leaned down, towards Spinel, holding one hand over her shoulder. 

"I probably… have to make it up, or uhm… well, maybe… need to do something for it… with-with anything I could do for you..." 

Spinel giggled, stroking his face back, "Oh it's alright, Stevie." She kissed his forehead, "I already forgive the world to you. You don’t owe anything." 

Alright. Well. Not what he expected, but good to know. 

"Thanks. You should… be honest if I ever upset you though." 

"Upset? How could I ever be upset at my…" Spinel held her hands to her cheeks in excitement, "My very own boyfriend! " She sang. 

"Well I mean, you could. Just like I could be."

Record scratched, as the gem's eyes shot open and her smile turned upside down. But she waited before coming to conclusion.

Well, actually, she did not. She assumed at least ten worst-way scenarios this could have gone, before Steven continued.

"No, no, you haven't done anything. I'm just saying - it'd be alright if you did, because we'd just talk it out. That's what couples do. That'd be okay." 

Spinel's mouth said "Oh okay." but her face said "Guess I'll just die if I ever upset you." with a bittersweet smile. And Steven read that. He reached for her hand. 

"No, it's really really okay. We can mess up and we can be imperfect with each other. Love's about working through things. You can trust there's nothing you could ever do that I would leave you over, or refuse to work out through." 

Spinel gave him a sad little smile. 

"Knowing me that might become a challenge." She bit her lip. "Sorry, I know what I can be. I just don't want you to deal with… all that I can be." 

The next moment two hands by her sides brought her closer to the boy, as she faced him.

"But I want to deal with all of you!" 

On second thought, that probably came across more menacing than Steven intended. 

"You're imperfect. I'm imperfect. That's okay! Nothing has to be perfect or good enough." He sighed, bringing up something that hanged in the air for a while now, "You can tell me when you feel down. Anytime you feel down. I know you keep it a secret. But I promise you have nothing to fear when you tell me." 

On her side, Spinel sighed as well, moving back and standing up tall before Steven's bed. 

"I know!" She announced, raising her hands. "I know you mean well, I know you're willing to put up with me! I know you want to say that you're "not putting up with me - you love me!" And I trust that!" The spread her hands out, " But that doesn't change what I lived through!

Steven pouted at her. 

"You're not with Pink now."

Spinel pointed at herself, pulling a salty toothy grin, "My trauma doesn't clarify."

"You're right. But that doesn't mean you… can't try to start to… trust more?" Steven rubbed the back of his head, "Gosh, it's not like I can push you to this. I just want you to know that… you can. Anytime you'll want to try - I'm here for you, to help you." 

Steven reached a hand out, inviting her to sit back next to him. 

"...I'm a lot to handle." She hesitated, holding her hands together over her heart shaped gem. 

"And I'm handful! I have two hands, I can handle you. I want to." 

The offer, in the form of Steven's hand, stayed in the air. 

Spinel closed her eyes, counting. Waiting. Waiting for it to lower in despair. This can't be true, this won't be true, she'll ruin it, she knows she'll ruin it, she always ruins it, she's not the best for him, her breathing fastens, she's a mess, Steven deserves better… 

Spinel shot her eyes open with determination in them, and spiraled pupils. 

He deserves better. But damn, she wants him for herself. Even if she's the worst ever - she wants him by her side. And she will have him. 

It wasn't right, and probably not healthy. But Spinel knew no better way to cope with her trauma. 

Her breathing evened, and she reached a hand to hold onto Steven's one, letting him help her climb back on the bed next to him, as she hugged him. Her body reflected her mental state, as she became smaller than him again and held onto him tightly. With a soft sigh she placed her head over his shoulder. 

"I want to be with you too." More than I hate myself. 

"I love you, Spinel." And I'll teach you to love yourself too. Eventually. 

It wasn't the first time they talked about this, probably not the first time those words were said and points were made between them. But that's how that is. That's how healing is - never in one take. 

 

~

 

Mental healing wasn't the only one on Steven's mind at the moment. Not with that cold. So maybe he could draw a parallel, or use it to his advantage? 

"Spinel?" 

The gem that was curled around him under the blankets hummed back. 

"We're stuck here for days anyways. Can I ask you to humour me and-"

"Oh golly gee! I thought you'd never ask! Of course you can - I was made for it!" 

Spinel sprung up, landing on the floor on her hands, and launching up once more to turn around and face Steven. 

"Did you hear about a Bismuth that stayed on Earth to build houses and scaffoldings? They say she's got a good Bismuth going." 

Steven chuckled. "Spinel, that's not-"

"Oh wait, you'll love this one. Why did a Spinel come down to Earth?" 

"I dunno, why did a Spinel come down to Earth?" Steven bat his eyes, expecting the punchline to be along the lines of "To kiss her boyfriend.", with the action following.

Spinel spun around on her heel and posed, smiling wide, "To meet the maker!"

Steven just blinked, fixing his cover. 

"...On Earth to say "to meet the maker" means "to die"." The boy whispered with a pout, not getting the joke. 

"I know." Spinel continued to smile at him. "It would make more sense - well, be funnier - if you knew how I was made."

"Well, may I know how were you made?"

"No." She lost her smile for that one word, but quickly changed back to her happy tone again, "Why did a Topaz fuse with a Topaz?"

Steven shrugged. 

"Because she couldn't allow topaz up the opportunity!" Spinel cheered. 

"Thank you Spinel, that's very funny, but that's not what I meant by humouring me." Steven attempted. But Spinel was a quicker thinker than he was. Especially now that she wasn't stuck counting the seconds. 

The liberation of moving never failed to make her happy. She put a finger to her cheek, thinking about it. 

"Hmmm… hm hm hmm hm… Oooooh! " She laughed, twirling her hands, "I get what you want now! Oh you playful little thing, you!" She cooed. 

"I- what?" 

She used her hands to spring up and land back on the bed. Then she dragged the covers off the sick boy, and pushed him on his back. 

"Spinel-" Steven barely got to gasp. 

"Oh don't be shy, I get it. It's alright, honey you should have just asked if you wanted this!" The gem above him beamed happily. 

"This is really not what I - wait I could have just asked?" 

"Of course, silly!" Spinel raised her hands up, in a strangely menacing way. "I would never pass up an opportunity… to tickle you!"

Before the boy could protest, she moved her hands down and below his shirt, tickling the boy on the sides and laughing along with him. 

Steven could have swore he heard her say something along the lines of "Who's a good human boy?" above him, but at the moment he could only try his best to concentrate on breathing and trying to ask her to stop. When the words that he couldn't even make out proved to be ineffective, Steven managed to slam his hands down over Spinel's own, catching his breath while she stared down at her hands now kept under his shirt. 

"Spinel I- I appreciate this, but that's not what I meant!" 

She withdrew her hands, looming over the boy once again and almost whispering to him in a tone that underlined just how alone and private they were at the moment. 

"What do you want, Steven?" 

"I want to talk about your feelings."

Spinel pouted. 

"My… my feelings? Uhhhhhh- You know… You know, Steven, if…" she placed one hand over the exposed part of his belly, making her hand "walk" over it with two fingers for legs, that she even shapeshifted to have pointy shoes like her own, "You know, if there's something else you want me to do… something special… sacred… our own - then you should know I feel like I'd… gladly do that to you again." 

Steven hesitated to reply. She got the hint he dropped hours ago, but why only now? Of course he wanted this , but not like this . Not by using her with her lack of knowledge of what was she doing. 

Spinel raised his shirt just a little bit, gazing down into the pink diamond in the middle of his belly. All while Steven pondered on her offer. The perspective… was awfully seducing… so pleasant to think about, it almost felt like there was a catch to it. 

And Steven found that catch when he asked himself: Why did she just agree to it? Why did she offer it herself and so suddenly? 

The answer was simple. To avoid talking about her feelings. 

As much as the teenage hormones were starting to get to Steven - he had to refuse. They would not be in such a perfect position to talk about her feelings again, had he said yes to this now, or maybe Spinel would feel like she could always find other ways out of facing her own feelings with him if she got away with it now. And on top of that, it was still unfair that he couldn't please her back. 

No. This would have to wait for another day. 

But Steven was just a tiny bit late to voice that he wanted none of that, and - he felt both a bit of concern and hormonal fascination when Spinel suddenly ducked her head down at him - to plant a little kiss on his shiny gem. 

" Ah!

Spinel shot back up with a delayed reaction, visibly ready to apologize for weeks for the gesture. Steven was more concerned as to whether or not he should have felt that when she did such a simple gesture. But he had her emotions to tend to now. 

"Sorry, I…"

"It's okay. It felt… nice." 

"Oh, well, do you… want me to do it again?"

"Yes. I mean- no. I mean, I do, just…" Steven tucked his shirt back in. "Just not today. Sorry." 

His sorry is what helped her feel more safe about this.

"Did I do something wrong?" 

"No, you didn't. I just have something that's more important to me right now." 

Steven sat up to face her, reaching out for a hug. Spinel smiled and took the invitation, hugging him tightly, keeping her hands on his back, and thinking that this hug was about reassuring her that she did no wrong. As always, she looped her hands around Steven's torso a few times. Ah, this was pleasure. This - she could always do, she was made for, she felt right doing… 

But little did she know, this hug… was a trap! 

Steven hugged her back, falling on his back and trapping her with him. 

"So..." He waited to see if this was past the red line of a panic attack inducing. But it seemed that being with him outweighed being scared of restriction this time, "Let's talk about your feelings." 

Spinel let her neck loose, letting her head lay nearby Steven's face on his pillow as she pouted. 

"I dun wanna…" 

" Spinel.. ." Softly, with gentle persuasion. 

"I'm feelin'... happy."

"Is that so?"

"Well, duh. I'm happy with you."

"What about your self worth?"

"My what now, I don't have any-" That slipped out. She coughed, trying to get a hand reeled back to cover her mouth, but just now realising the evilness of Steven's trap of her hands, as they were neatly deposited below his back. 

The boy watched. No signs of panic attack. Just mild confusion. So far so good. 

"I mean… I don't have aaany… issues with it?" She gave a painfully fake smile. 

Steven looked at her with such a soft and heartfelt concern - she couldn't take it. 

"Mhmmm… fine!" She puffed her cheeks. "What do you wanna know? I think I'm bad, I don't think I've done any better lately. I think you deserve better… But I want to be with you." 

The boy below her smiled softly. There, some progress. She was opening up, there we go, just like that. Steven patted her back softly.

"You're doing good." He mouthed. 

Was she really? 

"And, well… well I want to be better. For you. I… don't always know how."

"That's alright."

He was so encouraging and looking at her so caringly as she warily took the steps in the pitch black room of opening up, not knowing for sure but suspecting that one of those steps could send her rocketing down through the floor. 

"I… don't want to talk about my feelings. I mean - I don't always want to. It makes me feel… like I'm a burden! " She closed her eyes, "Like I'm opening up just to say that I'm a mess and have people pat my back and say "you can do bettew, uw-hu". It never goes anywhere. I feel useless trying to do anything with it and end up feeling like I just wasted everyone’s time. It's so - so much easier to just not tell anyone how I feel and put on a smile - than to admit that I don't even always know why I'm sad!" 

Spinel opened her eyes again, biting her lips. It was starting to sink in just how vulnerable her position was now, with her face looming just above Steven's, and her tears occasionally dripping onto his cheeks… for how long was she crying?

Spinel tried to tug her hands back again, but Steven refused. He cupped her head and wiped her tears, stroking her hair gently. Looking up at her with a fondest smile he could pull.

"It's okay, Spinel. You're doing good - so good. I'm so proud of you. Thank you. I'm really glad to hear what's going on inside your mind."

Sometimes, just sometimes, talking to her felt like talking to a traumatized child to comfort them. And maybe it really was like that. 

"It's all good. Thank you. You did good."

"You're not… mad?"

"Of course I'm not. I'm glad! I love it when you talk about your feelings."

"But… I didn't make sense. I don’t think I did." 

"It doesn't matter. Feelings don't always make sense. But you put them to words so well and I'm so proud of you."

Sure this was an unconditional overdo, but for what it's worth - it seemed to do the intended job. Spinel had to be taught that this was okay. That talking was okay. 

And here she was, looking around as if she forgot where she was or wasn't believing what was happening. Sure, there was a mild worry about her hands being restricted, but it was just Steven, so it was kind of okay. Kind of safe. And here he was, petting her anywhere he could reach and thanking her for… being a burden? She didn't get it. 

But a praise is a praise. And it did the expected effect.

Her expression of fear and worry softened into a little smile.  A single word flashed in her mind - security

"Thank you."

 She leaned down, rubbing her face against his own. 

"The pleasure is all mine." 

"Hey, uhm…" Spinel glanced to the side. "Do you still want uh…"

"Yes…" Steven replied just between the intonation of a question and a confirmation. 

Before both could finish the thought, a floor board squeaked behind the two. Startled, they turned their heads towards the intruder, looking at Pearl with just as much astonishment as she had looking at the two like this. 

Steven opened his mouth to say something along the lines of "It's not what it looks like", but before he did - Pearl gave them an awkward thumbs up of approval, and hurried away, leaving the medicine she came in carrying on the shelf. 

Once she was gone, Spinel and Steven glanced at each other again, laughing about that. Well, the mood for more explorations was out of question. 

"I'm gonna need my hand to get that medicine for you."

The boy pouted, "I like your hands with me."

"I won't leave your side, silly. I'll just reel it here." 

Finally, Steven sat up and let her get her hands back. Spinel still held onto him, as she grabbed the meds and the glass of water for him, and fixed the covers back up around the two.

"Honestly, I'm feeling much better already." Steven concluded. 

"You wanna go and tell them you're healthy?"

"Hmm. No. I don't think I do."

"Oh ho ho, are you going to… lie?

"I call it a strategically postponed notification." 

"Postponed for what?"

"Well, mostly for this, I hope…" Steven hugged Spinel, "I'm grounded anyways. Might as well cuddle with you the whole day." 

This time they both laid down, with Spinel giggling in Steven’s hands. It was one of those times when Spinel would smile at him with sincerity, with no fears and no emotions hidden or held back. Those times when she was genuinely happy . To Steven, giving her those moments was worth a lifetime. 

"Spinel?"

"Yes?"

"...Do you know more gem puns?"

She giggled, "Do I know more gem puns? Do all blue aligned gems fly?" 

Steven blinked at her with a dumbfounded smile. 

"Blue aligned gems fly." Spinel gripped his hand, sighing happily. "At least I finally get to teach you a thing or two."

"Yeah, I could use that. I'm still a little rough at Earthly updog thought." 

"What's "updog"?"

Steven grinned with an evil smirk. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"They're growing closer so fast." Pearl leaned on the counter, mixing a cup of freshly made coffee in her hands. "...Garnet?"

Garnet sat on the couch with her legs crossed, seemingly meditating. She was looking through the possible futures, if Pearl had to guess. And she kept looking… concerned, adjusting her shades and looking more tensed the deeper she dug. 

"Come on, come on… at least one timeline where it doesn't happen…" she whispered. 

"Garnet?" Pearl came closer, now more concerned. "What are you seeing?"

"I'm seeing… but that's just the near future…" 

Let's try looking further,  Thought Sapphire. 

Garnet raised a finger up, making Pearl sit quietly while she tried to look further ahead. She frowned more and more… and finally, she smiled. 

"We're good." She said, putting her hands together and looking at Pearl, ready for any sort of discussion. 

"I think we should check on Amethyst sometime soon." 

"She's planning to come here with Jasper this weekend." 

Pearl looked down, "Do you see anything good about Jasper? Do you think she could one day remember?" 

Garnet didn't bat an eye, "There is nothing for her to remember." 

Unfortunately Pearl missed the point of that phrase. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

“...And the last I heard from him was him asking me to forget him.” 

Connie sat by the window, staring out at the rain that poured down that day. A girl she knew well came to sit by her side, with a journal in her hands. 

“Yeah girl you fucked up big time.” Said her friend with benefits. 

“I didn’t know… Ugh, okay, yeah! I did! And it led me exactly where I thought Spinel would lead me - to losing Steven. But I did this to myself… myself.” She curled her knees to her chest. “Maybe if I had just… supported them and trusted in our friendship more...” 

“We should visit him.” 

“I don’t think he’ll be very glad to see me.” Connie shook her head. 

“Hey, chin up. If you two really are friends - then you’re gonna work through this.” 

“Why would he forgive any of this to me? I tried to sabotage his love life several times.” 

“Yeah, well, what’d the cake plan ended up doing?” the girl gave a knowing smile. Connie covered her face at that. 

“Not something I’m fond of remembering…” 

“I bet they are fond though.”

“Huh?”

“Like, yeah, you tried to fuck them up, but in the end you’re kind of the reason they drifted closer to each other.” 

“I guess…” 

“Sooo…” The short haired girl closed the journal and put it down. “They owe you for that in their life. And come ooon, I want to see all that magic stuff you talked about!” 

“Well I mean… it won’t hurt to try and fix it all one last time? After all, haha, I can’t possibly do more damage unintentionally than I’ve already caused!” 

Connie stood up, holding her hands on her hips and grinning wide, suddenly filled with hope of one of her most important friendships working out in the end of it all. 

“That’s what I love about you - you can be so strong when you set your mind to things.” Her friend came closer, chuckling as she kissed Connie’s cheek, watching the latter get flustered. 

“Aww hehe, I wouldn’t be able to set it without you. You know what to say to give me hope.” 

Connie reached for her girlfriend’s hand softly. 

“Thank you, Marilyn.” 

“Aww. No, you. ‘Kay, let’s see when’s the next free spot in our schedule.” 

“I think we have a window in two weeks…” 

 

Chapter Text

“So when do I die?” Spinel asked from the floor, all her limbs loose around her like spaghetti. 

“How did this even happen?” Pearl shook her head. 

“Dude you’re like grilled cheese now.” Amethyst laughed at the scenery. 

She received an angry glare from the worried boy who paced around. 

“Does- does that happen to gems? Can they get sick with their gems intact? Spinel, is your gem intact?” 

“Yeah.” Spare for varying control of her limbs and coughing, Spinel looked fine. “It was whole last time I checked.”  

“Well I got sick once.” Amethyst noted. 

“Throwing up doesn’t count, you shapeshift to do that.” Pearl replied, continuing to inspect whatever has happened to Spinel. “Spinel, have you been, by any chance, exploring the Earth? Do you recall going to any sort of… dangerous looking places? Do you recall any human coughing next to you? I know that doesn’t make sense, but I- I don’t know. Maybe one of a kind gems are built differently...”

“Well I did have Steven cough at me.” 

“But I was having a human flu? Or… wait…” Steven thought about it for two extra seconds, “Could I have, because I’m a half gem… invented a virus that gems can get sick with?!” He held onto his head in worry.

Pearl slowly inched away from Spinel, trying to pull out one prolonged “Nooo… I don't think so, no…”. But Amethyst moved closer to her instead. 

“Cough on me.” 

“Amethyst no .” 

“Ahh come on…” 

Pearl picked Amethyst up and stepped back. The short purple gem seemed content with being carried like a baby very much. She pulled a face of a pleased cat.

“I… think we’ll leave you two to figure this out. Steven, you’ve got healing powers, but feel free to say that you need more help.” 

“I need more help.” The boy replied in a heartbeat. 

“Good to hear. Good luck.” Pearl opened the temple room and went to her own, carrying Amethyst with her. 

“Way to ditch him, Pi.” 

“I’ve seen you sick, I don’t need you dying twice.” Pearl’s voice faded, as the door closed. 

Steven kneeled down next to the coughing gem, picking her head into his hands and raising it up to face her. Spinel looked alright, spare of the weakness preventing her from having a grip at all times, and some coughing and sneezing every once in a while. Loose and soft like that, she resembled a sweet love child of cotton candy and grilled cheese. 

“Okay let’s… let’s assume this is a cold. And it needs to be treated as one.”

Spinel stuck her tongue out, “I’m not eating soup!” 

“You won’t have to. I think? Maybe? Uh… let’s just get you to bed for now.” 

He deposited her head on his shoulder - which was short lived, as it instantly fell over his shoulder and back to the floor with a little thud and an "Ow". 

"Sorry." 

"It's okay- it wouldn't be the first time I'm losing my head over you." Spinel laughed, "Alright. Give me a second…" 

She reeled her limbs up, looking concentrated as her limbs became more firm again. She raised a hand at Steven, waiting for him to help her stand up. But instead, Steven grabbed her torso and picked her up, letting her tie her hands and legs and him. She deposited her head over his own, and he thought it was rather cute to carry her like she was a baby this time. Steven carried her back to his room - there she belonged - and placed back down on their bed. 

"This time I'll take care of you."

Spinel sighted softly, stretching reasonably on the bed, "Just don't tie me 'till I spill about my feelings again." 

The boy gestured of thinking about it, "Hmm, I'll see about that." 

" Steveeen… "

"You gotta learn that it's okay." 

"Okay! Talking about my feelings is okay! There, I learned it!"

"Then I guess you don't mind if we put it to practice again?"

Spinel grabbed a pillow and placed it over her head, curling up with a pained groan. 

" Please not now… " was muffled through the pillow in a pained tone. 

Luckily she didn't see Steven sigh. Maybe he could make her love it one day? Could he get her rewards instead of gentle persuasion, to make her crave wanting to open up? 

No, wait, that's just thinking of her as if she was a bunny to be trained. Then again… whatever would have worked for the better would be great, wouldn't it? Victory excuses the means of getting to it. And forcing her was edging on a dangerous line of pushing too far. 

One small step at a time would be good enough. Steven sat on the edge of the bed, reaching to pat her head softly. 

"It's okay, it's okay…" 

A pink gloved arm slowly coiled around his hand. The moment Steven tried to retract his hand back - Spinel pushed it back onto her head, prompting the boy to keep patting and petting her. 

And he obliged. He'd spend all the time doing that if he had it… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

But he didn't have it. Measures had to be taken once again. Steven neglected one last intergalactic conflict for too long. 

The War Gems. The gems who weren't pleased with the end of tyranny and dictatorship of the Diamonds, due to losing all the power and respect they held in the now-disbanded armies. 

A good bunch of them had a personal grudge against Steven, which strangely flattered him. For once it was about something he did, not something his mom did. But it was dangerous nonetheless that they were somewhere out there, with a base or a club or something. Maybe they built tents… wait, gems don't need tents. Why would they have tents? 

Steven shook his head. It doesn't matter how they were out there. It only matters that they were. And he had to find them, and… make peace? What would he even do once he'd find them?.. 

Steven glanced over at Spinel, who seemingly fell asleep while he was petting her head. He may not know what he'll do, but he'll have to do something about them. He couldn't allow for any sort of threat to come after him or Spinel again. 

He saved the galaxy before. He can save two more gems. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Spinel hated this. It's been several days, according to the clock and calendars. She was sincerely bad at telling time sometimes, but to her benefit the human devices were clear about time passing. 

A hour. He said he would be back soon. How long is soon? Did he really just leave her waiting? Spinel turned on her side, looking at the ticking clock on the bed stand. Hour and 3 minutes. He told her it was okay to part, and that they were still together even when they were apart. 

But she hated it. She hated it! She hated that she would suggest to go somewhere or do anything, and instead of getting to it right away, Steven would go and have some "important" calls up there before they could hang out. And even then, as they would go to the park and have a picnic or go to the swings - he would step aside when his phone rang. His phone with the extension that allowed intergalactic calls. Always checking on other gems whom he assigned to look out for any sort of signs of the alleged War Gems. 

Hour and 5 minutes. Only two minutes? Was she right to get mad? He said he had to do this to protect people and gems, and them. Spinel didn't need protection - she could protect herself. She could protect herself and Steven, even if she had a weapon stuck inside of her body the whole time. Which she hoped wouldn't be a thing, but she knew she would endure a lot and keep him safe. Hour and 5 and a half minutes. 

But… this was important to him. Even if it didn't make sense to Spinel. It was important to Steven. She knew she probably should have supported him, but it just seemed so useless to look out for a threat that consisted of about 5 and a half gems. Maybe it wouldn't have been such a problem… 

She just wished it wouldn't have felt like it pushed her out of his life. Spinel quite literally was a granted, but actually being taken for one felt… awful. She hated it. She hated that she started to look for distractions while Steven would tend to his intergalactic discourses on the topics of whereabouts of a couple of rebels, and the damage that was assumed to be done by them. 

Bismuth has patched up the hole that Spinel had once made on the wall of Steven's room. But now she was edging on making a new one. 

Hour and 8 minutes. Spinel got up from their bed, grabbing the blanket and throwing it over her shoulder pads. It dragged on the floor and stairs as she walked into the upper room of this building, where Steven was having a group call on his device. He even brought a chair there. Spinel clenched her fists at the sight of it. 

Steven, on the chair before the wide holographic screen, with three more windows with different gems open. Yellow Diamond, an Emerald, and some sort of a new Fusion-Free era Rhodonite, who was probably in some sort of command of one of those searching teams… Oh, who cares. Spinel rolled her eyes. 

But Steven. She cares about Steven. She looks lovingly at him. He looks so serious, sitting in this chair with one leg draped over the other, and a hand to his chin, as the gems report to him. Whatever they’re saying. 

A devious plan has already bloomed inside of Spinel’s fragile mind. She stepped closer, not caring that someone was talking. She held two corners of the blanket and quickly enveloped Steven into it with a hug from her side, as she rubbed her head against his face. 

“Stevieee… I miss you… You said only a few minutes, it’s been like a hour!” She outright whined. 

Steven’s face turned red, as he heard an “Awwww”, a “Bwahaha!”, and an “Oh goodness!” come from the three gems he was chatting with. He tried to push Spinel away, but she didn’t budge. 

“Spinel I’m in the middle of having a chat-” 

“You should be in the middle of having a me.” She insisted. 

Yellow and Emerald burst out laughing, while Rhodonite giggled. 

“I’ll call you back!” Steven threw his hands, quickly ending the call. He still had to wrestle with Spinel tied around him to do that, but in the end shut the whole screen down. 

Taking a deep breath, he finally faced the sentient noodle that held him tight now. 

“Spinel, what was that?” 

“What was what now?” She purred against him, “I finally got you to myself…” 

“I was in the middle of a meeting!” 

“Yeah. You can thank me later.” Spinel grabbed him up into her hands. “So, what first? Out or rest home?” 

“None first!” Steven struggled in her hold, breaking free - and falling with his face to the floor.

“Whoopsie daisy. Are you okay?” Spinel knelt down next to him. 

“No, I’m not okay!” Steven sat up, looking angry. 

The pink gem was prepared for it. She kept the look of innocent dumbfoundness on her face. 

“Sorry, I’ll hold you better next time. You kept struggling… You could have just asked if you wanted down.” 

“No, that’s not it. I was in the middle of doing something! That’s the problem.”

“Yeah. That’s was a problem. But luckily, now it’s not.” Spinel sat back, pleased with herself. 

Steven facepalmed. 

“Are you really not getting it? I have to go back to it. This is important.” 

Her eyes shot open as she grimaced, watching the boy get up and make his way back to the chair, walking around her like she was an obstacle. A rubber hand stretched out, making a balloon animal noise as it coiled around his hand. 

“What about me?” 

For a second Steven envisioned throwing her hand away, turning around, and very unkindly telling her to go away. But he thought twice. He looked back at her slowly, with conflicted feelings. She was being selfish… but maybe that only seemed like that from his side? He hasn’t heard her side of it, maybe she felt something he didn’t account for. Right, right. Calmly. With open and healthy communications. Always with open and healthy communications. 

It’s not like Spinel seemed aware of what Steven was feeling about this either. So what sort of fool would he be to get mad before he’d make sure she was seeing how he truly felt about this? 

Steven sighed, walking back to her and sitting down next to her. 

“Let’s talk about this.” 

This, Spinel was not prepared to. It was easier to stay oblivious of her wrong doings when Steven wasn’t trying to talk it out like they were some sort of a healthy couple. Under his soft gaze, she suddenly actually felt bad for what she did so knowingly a minute ago. 

“Sorry.” 

“Spinel?” 

“I missed you. You said it’d be a little while, but, but I counted and it was a hour and… sorry.” 

She grabbed her pigtails, hiding her face into them. 

“I know. I’m sorry. This is my responsibility. The galaxy is never really at peace. I have to do this.” 

“Don’t you ever feel tired?” She looked up at him, sadly. “The boy with the weight of the galaxy on his shoulders. Wouldn’t it be easier to… I dunno, at least sometimes take brakes for it. Don’t you think you deserve your happily ever after after all?” 

“You’re the one who taught be better than anyone else that I’ll always have more to do.” 

Instead of knowingly spiraling into another sorry cycle, Spinel just chose to bury her face back into her tugged hair. 

“Sorry, that’s not what I meant - when you came was the one time I thought I could avoid dealing with… the consequences my mom left behind. It- it was before I realized I love you, sorry.” 

Steven reached his hands out, cupping Spinel’s face and making her look at him through her hiding spot. He kept talking. 

“I love you. That’s why I’m doing this. I want you to be safe.” 

Her sad expression turned sour. She heard that before. And she didn’t bite it. 

“I can stand for myself. Show me those War Gems, if they even exist. Bet you I’ll slay them all down in one spontaneous musical number! Maybe even half of it!”

“I’d rather you don’t. They are very real, and more than anything - I just don’t want you to end up dealing with them.” 

She grabbed onto his hands - and threw them off her face. 

“Why does that have to include you not dealing with me at all?”

“Huh? What do you mean?” 

“Maybe… maybe I should find and join those War Gems! Then you’ll pay attention to me again!” 

“No!! You have no idea how dangerous… wait, what? Are you…?” 

Anger on her face softened momentarily as Steven hit the bull’s eyes with his next conclusion. 

“I haven’t been giving you enough attention?” 

She nodded. 

“We haven’t even tended to our Garden...” 

“Our Garden…” Steven put his hands over his mouth, “Have… have you been tending to it? Gosh, when was the last time we were there together?” 

“Too long ago.” 

The boy got visibly nervous. He got used to seeing the Garden as a somewhat representation of their relationship. As their safe haven. It flew out of his head when Spinel left him waiting there, calling the place her own now. She probably related to that too - thinking of the Garden as her love for Steven, and not accepting him back easily as he did an equivalent of going to town down the bushes.  And it made sense to Steven that she would require so many efforts, so many punches to the face, and so many promises to know he would be worthy her this time. It was a form of self love after all - knowing her worth. 

...Right. The promises Steven gave. To make her feel loved and cherished each day. Has he been doing much of that lately? 

No. No, he was not. 

Steven scuttled over to her, hugging the gem he now held dearest in his life. 

“Sorry.” 

To his relief, he felt her hug him back. This time without looping her hands around his body - she only looped them around his neck and held her own shoulders again. 

“You’re right, you’re right. I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting you. Let’s… let’s have an “us” day.” 

The gem in his hands beamed, “Hehe, that’ll be wonderful! Let’s go, let’s go! We can get to our Garden, maybe not everything has wilted yet-” 

“...Right after I’m done with this.” 

Spinel reeled back with a jolt, staring at him. 

“I beg your pardon?” 

“I need to finish the conference I started. It’ll be fast this time - really. You can sit with me. And then we’ll go and be together.”

“Just the two of us?”

“Just the two of us.” 

The offer smelled fishy, but Spinel threw the hook of hopes into the waters of despair, waiting for the fish of success to bite. 

“Alriiight. But you better live up to your words, rabbit boy. I miss youuu...” 

“And we’ll be together again. Could you go fetch the gardening tools while I end this?” 

Spinel nodded. She received a kiss on the forehead, for the extent she was willing to be understanding of Steven’s social needs, with her dependency in account. She took off, gathering gardening and non gardening tools she had found, and went back to the room, waiting for Steven to hear all the reports the now humoured gems had to give, and reply with their next course of actions. 

And she waited patiently, bouncing up and down at the door to the room, with the tools clanking together in her hands. 

And she waited patiently, no longer bouncing, smile faded away. 

And she waited. 

And she waited… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Here in the Garden, let's play a game… I'll show you how it's done…"

"Spinel? Are you singing something?" 

"Oh, yeah, I was just humming an old tune." Spinel replied, digging up a chunk of dirt and planting a seed in there. 

Steven tried to bring the radio with him to the Garden, but he forgot that it needed wavelengths found on Earth to work, and he didn't have any tapes with him. So they filled the air with their own chatter and songs. 

"Steven?"

"Yes?"

She sat up, placing down the shovel. 

"Am I demanding?" 

"No. Not really. What do you mean?"

"I'm sorry. I… don't have the best knowledge of what amount of time is reasonable to ask for. Especially for a human. Do I…" she whispered, "Ask for too much of your time?"

Steven placed his tools down, walking over to where Spinel sat and hugging her from above. 

"No. You have a right for all of my time. And I want to give you all my time. You're right to want the amount that will make you feel loved." 

She held onto his arms. 

"What… what if I want all your time? That's… that's gotta be unreasonably a lot. I don't- I don't want to… annoy you." 

Steven hugged her tighter. 

"You could never! I promise. I love you. You always make me happy, I always have time for you." 

"Is that right?" 

"Of course it's right!" 

"But, but, but what about… your personal space?" 

Steven sat down next to her, not parting. 

"I guess that's a thing about love. I feel that… I want you as a part of my personal space." 

"Don't you want to have secrets from me?" 

"I don't think there's anything you haven't learned about me… hah… hah…"

"But I can't just… be there when you're having a serious meeting, can I?" 

"Well I mean… it might be a bad time to play - during a meeting. But if you could be there with me - I'd love that." 

I really fucking don't want to, I just want you to be with me. Cursed be those War Gems or legends of them, I really could not give less fucks. You're supposed to be with me. WITH ME!

"It'd be okay to be there with you, really really?" 

"Of course. I only worry they might bore you."

"Well, that's what I was made to eliminate - the boredom, loneliness, sadness..." 

"...Again, meetings aren't a place to play games. They are meant to be boring and serious." 

Two cogs clanked and smoked inside of Spinel's head. Meant to be boring? What a strange and absolutely unnecessary concept. 

"...Ooookay?" 

"It'll be okay. How are you feeling?"

Spinel shifted in his arms, hugging him back. 

"...I feel good. Easier now that we talked about this. Thank you." 

"Good to hear." 

Spinel was almost proud of herself for how well she had learned what Steven wanted to hear from her each time. 

"Don't forget to water the bushes around the statue, Angel."

"I won't. That's due next Thursday, I'll do that."

She watched, as Steven stood up and returned to gardening, making progress on their love even when she didn't exactly agree with his ways of doing it. 

They both sang to fill the dreading silence. 

"Hey you, show me that solvable problem…" 

"Here in the garden…"

"I'll do the…" 

"Play a…" 

"Part with…" 

"Wait here…"

"With you." 

"For you." 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

It took all of her self control not to grab his phone, throw it to the ground and crash it with her foot sometimes. 

It’s not like she jumped to those rage issues right away. She talked about it, continuously telling him how much she felt rejected, in an attention deficit from the only person who’s attention she needed. She dropped hints - she dropped herself into his arms at any moment. One of those line crossing times was the one time Steven got up in the middle of the night, letting go of the gem he was cuddling, just to go up and pick some stupid call about some new stupid revealed facts about those stupid War Gems… stupid! Spinel felt as cold as never before when that happened. Even if she didn't need warmth per se - sudden lack of it hit hard. 

Did she take him for granted? Did she suspect this would one day happen? Was it just like that one time with their first dating day? Should she have thrown a tantrum? 

One day she couldn't take it. One day she sat in front of Steven on the couch. One day she crawled over to him, hugging him and asking to be together. One day she willingly agreed that she'll talk about her feelings, if it only meant that Steven would listen. And the boy nodded and asked what was she feeling. 

And then his phone rang. 

"Oh, uhm, Spinel, is this urgent?"

"What?"

"I mean, are you feeling bad?"

"No, I… I was going to tell you how happy I am with you…"

"That's great! I'll be right back and we'll talk about it." 

Steven stepped aside, picking the intergalactic line and asking if there were updates. 

When he was done talking, he looked back at the couch, but Spinel was no longer there. And he probably would have worried - had his phone not rang again. 

It’s not like she went far. She was just upstairs, planning to make him apologise and make it up to her later. But then the futility of ignoring him sunk in to her. 

He’ll probably only be glad to have more time without me around. Get used to it… 

Spinel walked back down and sat on the couch, her hands on her knees, while Steven kept chatting. 

“Wait, so, does she claims she saw them, or was she just caught saying she’d join them? No, I mean, if it’s the latter - she could be just messing around with us… We might just end up losing time here...” 

Losing time? What about their time together? 

Spinel raised her hand - it was shaking. She reached out for the boy who had his back on her, calling out in a whisper, or maybe not calling out at all. It was hard to tell if she made a sound. She eyed darkness threatening at the corner of her eyes. Scenery was getting dark, Steven’s voice and frame was fading from her. 

She stood up. Her hands sprung together, in a tight hold as she looked down, waiting. 

No, no, no, not now, not like this… Steven… couldn’t see her like this! Spinel clenched her jaw, raising a trembling hand up - this was for the better, he can’t see me like this, this is for the better… 

She bit into her own arm. 

The jolt of pain sent shivers down her spine. The darkness faded momentarily, and the boy became clear before her again. It was the worst idea of her repertoire - but it worked. For now. 

Spinel held her bitten hand with the other, covering it. The boy seemed to finish his talk, as he looked back at her. 

“Spinel?” 

“Ah? Sorry, I didn’t mean to-” 

“No, you did nothing wrong.” Said the boy who didn’t see what she just did, “But I need to go and have another call with them. They found a gem that claims to have some information about their whereabouts, but it’s uncertain. I need to see her for myself." 

"Of course…" 

And he never finds out. And he never notices. It turmoils and eats Spinel from inside, the guilt, the hopelessness that brought her to this measure of coping. And the disgusting feeling that it's only her who feels this way. She misses him. 

He's right there, in the dark of the night, with his hands around her. Like she is his favourite childhood toy - he sleeps with her in his arms. She sneaks her bitten hand in front of his lips for a kiss. He never even noticed. And he'll wake up tomorrow, just another day to save the galaxy ahead. And he'll kiss her in the morning, then go, and leave her waiting. Fighting herself over whether she should have given him more space, or demand her own comfort. 

But it was different that morning. She woke up alone at all. Spinel didn't know how much more she could take of this. 

 

So Spinel woke up alone. She checked her hands - no bites yet. Good. So less worries to hide anything today. Although her teeth were starting to itch for it already. Where did Steven even go, did he not know how important waking up together was to her? 

It was foggy outside. And suddenly… the world felt grey. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Sleepily, Steven reached for the pack of Cereal before him. The next moment he somewhat registered something grey startling him, as he fell back from the tall kitchen chair. 

The curious creature - oh, just a human, seemingly - leaned over the counter. They had grey hair that shined with blue shades at times, deep blue eyes, a visible golden ring in their ear, and a… drawn picture of a butterfly drawn (tattooed?) over their right eye. The looked down at the boy, asking if he was alright, and probably apologizing for startling him. 

Steven was only slightly more concerned as to what was this person doing in his house now. Man, he really needed to find himself and his Spinel some more privacy around here. 

"Can I help you?" The boy said, standing up. 

"Are you the magical half alien boy?" Asked the unfamiliar human. 

"Steven! Marilyn!" A familiar voice called the two over. When the memories of the owner of said voice swam up from depths of Steven's repressed memories - he grimaced. 

"Connie…" 

"Steven." 

Connie stepped closer, having two gazes directed at her. The sweet and loving look of her girlfriend, and a displeased look of her former friend. 

"What are you doing here?"

Connie needed to take a glance at Marilyn, and see that undying support in her confident eyes, before she spoke back. 

"I wanted to talk." 

Steven rubbed his face from the top to the bottom, with a sigh. 

Why am I like this, why am I like this…  

"What is it, Connie?" 

He resumed cooking cereal whole she gathered her words. Kind of forgetting Marilyn was also there. 

"I want to make up for what I did." 

Steven didn't reply. 

"I know how much trouble I caused to you two. But, uhm, hey. You two are together happily now, aren't you?" 

Steven raised an eyebrow. Somewhere behind the scenery, unseen, another gem grimaced at her words. Back from the Garden, and into the scene. 

"Right. You two made it through… whatever I caused before, yeah? So I thought… since I didn't do any long term damage - maybe you and I could…" she gulped down, "give our friendship another chance?"

Connie held her hands down, awaiting with worry in her soul. Seeing that, Marilyn hopped over the counter, and came closer, holding her hand in support. 

Behind the two, Spinel… stared in despair. Those two were a loving couple. Those two were together, thinking for each other, looking out for one another. And what did she have with Steven at this point? 

Steven poured some milk into his cereal with unnecessarily serious face about it. 

"Have you considered that maybe I don't want to be friends anymore?" 

It was unclear with Connie, but Spinel certainly was starting to consider. Here it comes, the cycle, the pain. The attention deficit. The despair of her hopes for his love as much as she wanted - needed it. 

It's like she was back. Back at the very square one. Maybe everything up to this point was a fever dream anyways?

"Alright. Look, Connie…"

Maybe it was always a lie? Security, feeling of home, of being found? 

"I've got my opinion on your actions…"

Of course. It was a lie. Lie from day one. Lie, lie, lie. She was trapped in the world of lies. 

"But I won't be the judge of you. I'm biased." 

And she only knew one way out of it. 

Steven didn't even noticed when she walked up the stairs, he just kept talking. 

"I will forgive you and be your friend again - if you can do one thing." 

"Yes?" Connie held her hands together, happily. 

"Befriend Spinel." 

Her smile momentarily turned upside down. Steven didn't approve of that. 

"Issues with her?" 

"Issues with her? Yes! I mean, no. Befriending her is like climbing mount Everest in summer shorts!" 

Steven stood up with the bowl in his hands, and two spoons in it. 

"Then I guess we won't be friends anymore. Don't get me wrong, Connie." He stepped closer to her, "I don't care about you anymore." He passed by, walking up the stairs. 

Connie followed him up, astonished and shocked, while Marilyn decided to step outside for a brief look around the house. 

"But if Spinel finds a reason to care about you - I will see you as her friend to me." 

"Don't you think this is kind of… unfair?"

"Why? I think it'll be a piece of cake for you." He glared back at her with an unamused look. 

Here they were, in his room. 

"Spinel?" 

Spinel wasn't in his bed. How weird. 

"Spinel, come on, where are you? I got you breakfast to bed!" Steven raised the bowl up, searching around. Then he noticed that the door to the balcony was open. Ah, of course. Decided to take a breath of fresh air early in the morning. Of course. How healthy of her. Steven and Connie walked towards the edge of his room, and found Spinel standing on the very edge of the wooden planks. Somehow that alarmed Steven, waking up the memories from the past he didn't want to wake up. 

"Spinel?"

The gem didn't seem to notice that the humans came closer to her. 

"Love the view, yeah? I love it too. We should meet a sunrise here someday."

We won't. Or maybe we'll start to, and you'll have another urgent call… but you won't see me caring by then. 

Spinel glanced down, at the bottom of the house. This time Connie felt uneasy, remembering her last confrontation with Spinel on the stairs. But this time Steven was here, so she didn't have to fear Spinel going after her, right? 

Right? 

"I brought us breakfast. We can still have a breakfast in bed if you hurry back up." Steven shook the bowl a little. Without her responses, he was growing more and more alarmed at her. "Oh, uhm, hey look. That little blue dot down there is Marilyn. She's… Connie's friend, I guess?" 

Steven glanced at the human girl. 

"Spinel, she's here to tell you that she's sorry. And she wants to be friends with you." He smiled gently. "Maybe you two could try to hang out…" 

The rest of whatever he said faded out. 

"So. That's how it is, isn't it?"

"Spinel?"

The fuchsia gem finally looked at him. 

"Toyed with me, got bored, and decided to pass on to the next playmate, hah?"

Oh no. 

"Spinel, whatever you're thinking now is not true! Don't spiral - stay here with me, we can talk about this. You know you will only regret whatever your anger makes you want to do now!"

"Really? Well I don't think I will! Do you know why? Do you wanna know why? Do you really really really wanna know why?" She smiled at him. He recognized that twisted smile from before.

From when she was on the fence.

 "I don't care. I don't have to care about anything if that's how it's going to be. I didn't stay for the world, I didn't stay for the diamonds, I didn't stay for Connie or for Marine or for whomever else. And I didn't stay for myself." She took a step towards him, pressing her finger against his chest, where his heart was. 

"I stayed for you. "

He got what she meant, but he wished he was wrong. 

"What's gotten into you? What did I do wrong?" He whispered with concern. 

Spinel laughed. Laughed and laughed, slowly reached for the back of her head - grabbing onto her hair and tugging it. 

"You really think everything in this relationship has to be only about you, don't you?" 

"I think I should go." Said the girl.

Connie stepped back. It was hard to describe what she felt about this. Felt that she was right? Perhaps. But as Steven wished - this was his problem to deal with now.

"Wait, Connie, don't leave. I might need help."

Might need help? Might need help?!

"Oh ho ho, nooo, Steven. Connie said she was leaving-" 

Spinel quickly reached her hands towards the girl, getting a hold of her hair and collar of her shirt.

" So let her go, will you? "

She reeled her hands back, grabbing Connie into this weird threatening hold of a balloon animal - and stepped off the edge with her. 

Steven stopped breathing. 

He dropped the bowl. 

He jumped after them. 

He got a hold on Spinel, causing her to lose her grip on Connie. 

And he missed to catch Connie by an inch. 

Back on the beach, Marilyn saw them. 

She ran towards her falling love. She jumped up, catching Connie before she hit the sand, lessening the impact. Keeping her safe. 

Steven landed next to the two, setting Spinel down, still in his shock state. 

And then he remembered how to breath again. 

"Spinel, what the fuck?" 

Spinel shook his hand off. She stormed off. 

"Don't just walk away! Spinel, what was that? You just tried to kill-"

"I wasn't going to let her die! Why do you think I jumped with her!" She turned around, screaming back. "I would have landed us safely!"

"Wait, really? Wait, but- why'd you do that?!" 

"I was just trying to leave !"

"Leave? Spinel. Please just stand in place for one minute!" 

" Fuck no! "

" Spinel! "

"Oh ho ho, I see those diamonds shining through. Come on, your clarity. Order me. I dare you. "

She meant it. Not because she would have tried to destroy the Earth for it. Because it would make feel her needed by him. How pathetic. How embarrassing. 

How broken. 

Steven held onto his mouth. Willing himself to understand that more screaming was not going to make this any better now. 

"Where are you going? Why are you leaving? Spinel, what's going on?"

"I'm going to join the War Gems."

Steven jolted. He knew all too well that Spinel did not even believe in their existence. 

"What?!"

"Yeah. Maybe then you'll pay attention to me!"

"I've been giving you attention. What's wrong, wasn't it enough?" 

" Wasn't it enough? "

Spinel walked back towards him, pointing at him as if she was shaming him. Her tears were spilling. 

"They wilted!" 

"???"

"The bushes around the statue wilted. I saw them this morning. When I woke up alone."

"Sorry, I thought I'd be fast enough, I just wanted to bring you breakfast to bed… wait, what wilted?"

Spinel rubbed her eye, "The bushes you promised to water wilted this morning." 

"How- how did that happen? I'm sorry, I knew I would water them on Thursday, and…" 

"Today's weekend." 

Steven grabbed onto his head, trying to ground himself back into reality that he felt slipping away from him right now.

"I'm… sorry? I thought today was…" 

Spinel fell to her knees before him, sobbing. 

"You've been like this for weeks. Leaving me waiting and leaving me hanging while you dealt with -hic- with…" 

"Left you hanging?" The boy sat down next to her. 

"I was… going to learn to open up more… I wanted to push myself… but when I finally did - you didn't even notice. "

"I'm so sorry."

"Me too." 

"Why? This was my fault." 

"But I could have tried to fix this better." 

"I'm sorry I… Gosh, I really did get carried away with this. I swear, I just wanted to protect you… and ended up endangering you even more. I'm sorry. But- but it'll be different now, I promise, I- starting from today, I'll-"

"Don't bother." 

Spinel stood up, walking off. 

She heard some uncertain sound come from Steven behind her. Just one glance back - he looked just like he did when she left him waiting in their Garden. Like a kicked puppy. Innocent, adorable little puppy… Puppy who ripped her heart out twice now. 

Spinel kept walking away. 

"I just can't talk to you right now." 

Chapter Text

“You know, after everything, I’d love for all of this to be none of my business… but you are a friend I care about, so… Steven? Is everything okay?” 

By now Connie had dusted herself of all the sand, and confirmed to Marilyn that she was fine. It didn’t stop the grey haired girl from being all over the place with worry. Marilyn only felt a little bit guilty that her curiosity to see the promised magic stuff had indirectly led to her girlfriend being in trouble. 

Steven got up. He wasn’t sure what to do or what to answer to the given question. Spinel didn’t say she didn’t want to be together anymore, right? Right… She just needed some space. 

Spinel needed space. That was some sort of an oxymoronic sentence. But then again, no more surprising than Spinel was. A ticking bomb, Steven thought of her some days. A disaster waiting to set off, over something tiny or something scary, or something he didn’t notice for weeks. An unstable gem. And at times, she was just so difficult to deal with, to reason with, to calm down, to talk to… 

But did that make the boy love her any less? No. It did not. Not in the slightest. He wondered if he was a masochist for what he was feeling. But ever since their first break up - Steven found himself thinking that he’d get hit in the face by her boot many times, if only it meant having her back eventually. 

And any time spent apart only proved further that he needed her. 

How weird. He spent so much time this week away from her, but only worried about it when it was her who left him behind. 

Love’s a weird thing. 

Possibly, the reason was that he was not sure if he would- how soon he would see her again. Because knowing that she was there for him, in the background was one thing. But her leaving was different. And this also meant that he’d have to make it up to her eventually. 

Connie touched his shoulder. 

“Steven?” 

“Ah? Oh, sorry. Uhm, yeah, this is fine. I mean, it’s not. But it will be. That’s just… the usual Spinel.” 

The usual broken Spinel. The attention starved Spinel. Starved… 

Steven didn’t think that Spinel was wrong to want more attention than a human datemate (that wouldn’t lack the need to sleep and recharge, and wouldn’t basically be programmed to be his friend, and most importantly wouldn’t be traumatized like she was) would want. First of all, she was that sort of person. Second of all, she was hurt. It wasn’t her excuse - it was her explanation. She spent enough time alone, and felt left behind enough... 

 

Meanwhile, outside of Steven’s mind, Connie accepted that he seemed a little stuck with his own thoughts now, so she held Marilyn’s hand and the two pals slowly walked away. 

“Is he always like that?”

“Only lately. Well, heh, I wouldn’t really happen to know what he’s like lately. And he changed a lot during last two years…” Connie bit her lip, “Do you think he was serious? Think I should do what he said? Try to befriend Spinel so that Steven can be my friend again?” 

“Haha, it’s still so weird that their names are just… their gems. Sorry, wait, so how hard did you say it could be?” 

“Uhh. Like invading... Antarctica in winter.” 

“Hmm…” Marine put her hands together, thinking, “I mean… what do you know about her? Whatever she is - she can’t be a hopeless case, right? She just seemed really troubled from what we just saw. But I don't wanna assume till I hear more about her.” 

“Troubled? More like bratty.” 

“Bratty?”

“Yeah, it’s like she always wants all of Steven’s attention. Constantly. Just… really constantly.”

“Well, I mean, is he okay with it?” 

“I don’t know… it could also be her thing because she waited in the Garden.” 

“Waited in the Garden?” 

Connie took a deep sigh, “It’s a long story. Basically she was a jester, but her, uh, previous owner told her to wait and stand still and then left her. And then one day she found out that they were never going to go back for her.” 

“Jee, that’s rough, buddy. For how long did she wait?” 

“I think 6000 years or something.” 

Marine stopped in her track, coughing. She shook her head, blinking twice at Connie.

“Wuh, I’m sorray- whaaa?” 

“Yeah. I mean I guess it’s nothing for a gem, they’re kinda immortal, but it also seems to mean a lot to her that she was betrayed like that.” 

“Girl she is troubled then. That ain’t brattiness, that’s… gosh, that’s a relapse.” 

“Mhhh…” Connie covered her face, “I just worry that Steven has to put up with this all the time.” 

She felt her friend come closer to her and hug her from behind, placing her head on her shoulder. 

“Heya?” 

“Yes?”

“Would ya hate me if I relapsed?” 

“Of course not!” 

“Then why do you hate her for it?” 

“That’s different, you’re not the same. For one, she’s not my girlfriend, you know? And for two… Her relapses - I’ve seen a few - are just so… unpretty.” 

Marine turned Connie to face her, placing her hands on her shoulders.

“And who’s trauma pretty?” 

Connie didn’t have a reply. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"I've seen that look on your face before." 

Pearl and Amethyst sat on the couch, with a boy who was covering his face in between them. Somewhere nearby the counters Jasper looked for cups and coffee, fulfilling a request made by one of the gems to her. She listened, while the other three talked. 

"I kinda screwed up." 

"With the War Gems?"

Steven rubbed his face, exhausted at the two words. Jasper didn't blink an eye, pouring the water into the teapot. 

"No… if only… that'd be easier. I messed up with Spinel again." 

"Well that sounds easy to do."

"Amethyst!"

Steven sighed, "It's true though. Spinel is simultaneously capable of taking down an army, but when she's open with me - she can be so vulnerable and fragile to words and gestures." The boy leaned back into the couch. "Why am I so bad at remembering this. That's what I'm so proud of knowing…" 

Amethyst leaned over, looking at him, "Steve? What exactly do you feel about her?"

"Ughhh, not you too… I love her, can you people just get it already." 

"Well, ya did just say she's a lot to handle." 

"Yeah. She's mine a lot to handle…" Steven made a pained sound, while Pearl gave an uncertain concerned look, "Well… supposed to be with me. I'm supposed to treat her better." 

"Steven, I think it is fair to say she is not easy to "treat right". Don't get me wrong, but… if you ever reconsidered if this is worth it at all… we won't judge." 

Steven stood up, looking back at the two sitting gems with raising anger. 

"I'm not going to give up on her! No matter what she does. She loves me just as much as I love her. We're supposed to work through things like this together. Love isn't always only about being happy together! It's about going through the hard times and facing the truth together!" 

So that's where she got it from Thought Jasper. 

Someone behind Steven clapped proudly. He looked back and saw Garnet smiling down at him. 

"I'm proud of you." 

"Ah. At least you get it." 

"I got it even before I knew you again." She smiled, knowingly. Her smile went down, and with her visors on, no one could tell that she glanced over at Jasper. 

"Steven? Are you going to go looking for her to talk this out?"

"I will. But I think she needs some more time before I can face her." 

Jasper finished making the coffee, carrying it over for Pearl. 

"Are you sure about that?" 

"Do you… see anything in the future about it?"

"...No." Garnet looked up at Jasper. 

"I think it's right to give her some more space." 

Amethyst snorted. "Bwahaha, "alone time for Spinel". All she ever wants is to be with you, and you're here like - jee guess I'll give her more alone time." 

"If I try to face her too early - she might knock me over a cliff."

"Is that a problem?"

"Well. No. It just might not be the best time. I think she's still very mad right now."

Jasper listened to it all with her eyes wide open. 

Garnet clenched her right hand. The Sapphire gem. "Steven? What does your heart tells you?"

The boy fell silent for a minute. 

"...It tells me that I want to be with her. But… but logically, it's too early…" 

The big orange gem interrupted him, "I, uh, will go out for a walk. Be back soon."

Jasper headed towards the door, when Amethyst jumped down to follow her. 

"Uh, just me, squirt. All this lovey talk made me wanna take a walk and think about… stuff." 

"Oh. I thought I can… talk with you about it. I mean, I've been around Garnet for a good while now, I've picked up some cheesy stuff."

Amethyst pointed behind herself with a smug smile. Behind her, Garnet was looking a little tense. 

"Yeah, nah, thanks sis, I need some of my own space." 

"Oh… okay…" 

Jasper exited the house, while Amethyst made her way over to the couch, looking a little deflated. 

Garnet closed her face, trying not to think about the things she was allowing to happen. She knew everyone would end up safe, so was it fair of her to let it happen? The question tormented her for a while now. 

“Garnet? Is everything alright?” The gems started growing worried. She didn’t usually portray so much concern. 

Garnet glanced into the future.  

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I won’t do this again, please don’t hurt me! Please don’t touch me! I’m sorry…”

She threw her hands down. 

“Steven. You need to go and find Spinel first.” 

Everyone in the room gasped. 

“First? What do you mean first? Who else is looking for her?” 

Garnet took her visors off.

“The War Gems.” 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

On the hill that loomed over the house, a pink little gem sat on the safety fence, her legs tangled around the bars to keep her from falling. 

Escaping life was no longer an option. It dulled out as Spinel collected her minds. Sure, the despair of waiting for Steven to spend time with her was getting to her. But there was this tiny little spark of hope inside of her gem, that filled  her with will power, even if it was so shallow. 

Of course she hoped. Hoped to be with Steven. Hoped to be good - to get better for him. Hoped to have him all to herself… And maybe, without admitting it to herself, hoped that he would fix what was damaged about her. 

Not that she thought she wasn’t whole and good on her own. But if the boy could ever bring her into the world where she could learn to trust again… oh that seemed so sweet to think about. To not be afraid of everyone around her secretly hating her or wanting her gone already. To not be afraid to mess up once and lose people forever. To not try and avoid everyone but Steven anytime she encountered them. 

A life where she felt free and safe to be herself seemed oh so perfect… almost too perfect to be true. Almost too good. All too good… All too good for a broken little toy like her. 

Spinel jumped back on the hill, looking out at the setting sun. And looking down at the blurred line where the waves hit the shore in a slow and calming rhythm. The birds flew over the hill, setting off into the known direction and unknown worlds, for the adventures that awaited the flock that would stick together through them all. The distant sounds of the living city filled the air. Car horns and people talking, living, trusting and loving. The warmth of their hearts. The love in their eyes. The breath of life in every single living being around. 

Spinel took a deep breath, counted to three, and slowly let it out. Maybe, just maybe, one day there will be a place for her in all of this beautiful parade of life?.. 

Someone approached from behind and Spinel tensed up, momentarily remembering that she could never let herself feel secure for too long. And a single minute was way too long. 

“Hey, you… uh, Spinel?” 

The pink gem glanced back with annoyance on her face. 

“Sigh. Hello Jasper.” 

“I heard what happened.” 

Heard what happened? “Jee, do the local news spread fast here?” 

“Nah, I just overheard Steven talk about you.” 

Spinel looked up at her, expectantly. 

“Yeah, how he said you were… well from what ah got you two aren’t together right now?” 

Her gem almost dropped at the way that was phrased. 

“We are very much together.” 

“Still?” Jasper tsked, “Girl, I thought you’d have some more… dignity to you.” 

What the fuck is a “dignity”? 

“What do you mean?” 

Jasper put her hands behind her back, circling around Spinel. The elastic gem turned around, not letting her back turn on the orange gem, despite her legs staying in place. 

“I mean he pretty much grew bored of you, and tossed you aside, and you’re here like… waiting for him to come back and toy with ya some more.” 

Spinel puffer her cheeks, “That’s not true. Steven loves me. He’s just been… busy hunting those gems that don’t even exist.” 

Is that so? Jasper snorted. 

“What if he… knows that they don’t exist?”

“Oh, please, what are you even saying.” 

“Nah, hear me out… what if he made all of this up to give ya an indirect hint that… he doesn’t want you around anymore?” 

“You’re out of your mind.” The pot called the kettle, “He’s been doing this to protect me. As if I can’t fight for myself…” 

Spinel looked down, momentarily, finding a small plot hole in his plan at that. 

Jasper smiled, There it is. You doubt, don’t you? 

“Yeah. Doesn’t he knows you can stand for yourself? So weird that he would try and claim to protect you… and then don’t even be around you for weeks.” 

Spinel kept looking down, slowly raising her hands over her gem, They trembled. No, no… 

Yes, yes… 

“He’s been toyin’ with ya, playtoy. And now that he’s had enough… He needs to get rid of you.” 

Spinel shook visibly. Toyed? No, no, he stood up for her to whom he thought was Pink Diamond herself - he stood up for her in front of everyone. He loved her, he must have, must have… 

...Wait a minute. 

Playtoy?

“But you don’t hav’ta be alone, sweet fury.” Jasper jolted towards Spinel - only to get on one knee before her. “Sweet lips, I will treat you so much better. He never deserved you in the first place.” 

Spinel jumped a foot back from her. 

“This time I will appreciate you for all of your facets…” Jasper tried to pull an innocent smile, but it was still painted over with the evil spark in her eyes. She held her hands open for a hug. 

“This time…” Spinel uttered after her. Then she frowned, her shoulders raised up as well as her fists. “Just for how long did you have your memories back by now?”

“Long enough.” Jasper growled, “Come on, you know you want this. You know you want what I have to give.”

“I don’t need anything from you, even if I knew what are you talking about.” 

“Everything that you want!” She stood up. “I know what you’re like now. More than your fury, yes. I know you’re lonely. Spinel, fuse with me! And we’ll forever be inseparable. You’ll never be alone again!”

Spinel took another step back, raising her arms. 

“Oh ho ho, you are so mistaken if you think I will let you continue to exist and be a threat to Steven.” She prepared to spring at Jasper. “Maybe this time I won’t give them your gem back when they’ll ask where I put you after I poof you.”

Jasper smiled, remembering all that she had learned about Spinel from the gem who called her a “big sister”. She got down on both her knees, opening her arms.

“If that’s what you have to do…” She bowed her head, “It’s just too sad I’ll never get to tell ya what Steven said about ya…” 

Spinel was taken aback by the display of submission, but quickly registered that this was not a person to accept it from, “I don’t need you to lie to me about what he said. I can just go and ask him at any time.” 

“Then why don’t’cha?” Jasper smirked, hearing the other gems approach. 

“Spinel!” Steven called out, followed by the three crystal gems soon after. “There you are! I’m so sorry.” 

“Sorry, aren’t’cha?” Jasper raised her head. “You’re already here? Weren’t ya going to leave your playtoy hanging for a few more days before coming for her? For yer safety?”

Spinel and Steven glanced at each other in confusion, but the scarred gem’s face had a special tint of doubt to it. 

“Steven?” 

“That’s not true! I wasn’t going to wait for days! Well, hours, maybe.” 

Something went wrong. It became very clear that something just went very wrong, as Jasper stood tall and approached Spinel from behind, and the little gem with a shock on her face didn’t even bother to move away. 

“...What?” 

“I mean - if I went looking for you now - you probably wouldn’t want to hear me out, maybe try to hurt me or… tell me to go. Am I wrong for accounting for it?” 

“You… you…” Spinel’s eyes darted around, “You really thought you wouldn’t find the right words to calm me down? As you always do? Did- did you...”

Spinel didn’t even register it when Jasper’s hand landed on her shoulder. 

“Did you give up on me?”  

“No! Spinel, I-”

“Look at him go, make excuses for himself. He planned it all along!” 

Amethyst stepped to the front row. 

“Hey, sis… why are you saying things like that?” 

Jasper ignored her, not even meeting her gaze, as she lowered her head towards Spinel. 

“Don’t you see how tensed they are? Clearly they came here to fight… to fight you, and bubble you away and never have to deal with you again…” 

Spinel still seemed unsure in what she was hearing. Then her impression became more confident. She understood it all. She made a decision. She reached her hand and slapped… 

Slapped Jasper’s hand away from her, jumping back towards Steven and the Crystal Gems, and facing the only enemy gem there was - Jasper herself.

“I’m not falling for this. I know the truth - and it’s that Steven loves me! Whatever he’s been doing - he’s been doing it for me. I’m not giving up to the dark thoughts like you - I face the truth!” 

Someone clapped. Garnet clapped her hands softly, filled with pride for Spinel. Amethyst and Pearl gave her soft looks of approval that she never saw, and Steven smiled with his love for her on his sleeve. 

He stepped closer to her - just to get punched back in the next moment, into the arms of Crystal Gem, while the orange gem who punched him yanked Spinel’s hair. 

The pink gem looked mortified. 

“Too bad. Too bad you thought that I was going to give you a choice anyways. I know you just need someone to force you into this. And I will be that someone!” 

Before Spinel could react - Jasper grabbed her by the shoulders, making her own gem and form shine up, and to everyone’s shock, and to everyone’s dismay, and to Steven’s pained “No!!” - forced the smaller gem into a fusion. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Spinel opened her eyes in what looked like a rocky valley. The walls felt uncertain, but she felt them there. She felt locked, restrained. Again. It was dark, she was shaking… shaking… trying to shake. Not able to. 

The dirt beneath her feet opened up, as the vines that felt like snakes crawled out and bit into her limbs, bringing her down to her knees and hissing as she stayed there. She struggled, but they held her in place. This was awful. This was nothing like Pink Calcite. This was nothing like Rubellite. This was… 

"Black Tourmaline." 

Spinel looked up, at the Jasper that paced around, before she approached her. 

"Heh, I thought you'd be better at this, playtoy. Oh well. Just stay quiet back here. We're going to play a game with Steven now…" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The four horned monster opened her four eyes. Upper eyes were wide and evil, while the lower set was smaller and sadder, looking hurt and terrified. The fusion had two mouths, one above the other, and four hairy looking horns sticking out of her head. Her hair was shoulders length now, although the concept of shoulders was very vague in her form. She had three hands that differed in length and shape, and four monstrous legs that stuck out of the lower body like spider legs. The fusion was peachy with dark lines across her body. 

The upper mouth smiled wide, revealing rows of uneven sharp teeth, and a tongue split like a snake's one. The smaller mouth looked like it was forced shut, lower lip quivering. There were tears at the corners of the smaller eyes.

"There we go!" Screamed the fusion, "Black Tourmaline, what else would we be? Sounds much better than a Pink Calcite to me!" 

Steven watched from where the gems held him back, terrified. He was crying. Crying his eyes out, and crying out for Spinel, reaching his hand towards the monstrous fusion of fear and wretchedness. Amethyst held onto him the strongest, crying for the sister she thought she had finally found, and lost again. 

And then he got a grip. He pushed the gems aside, summoning his shield and coming forward. He heard the other three summon their weapons. 

"Stay back. I need to deal with this myself. I know I can. This is Spinel. She's…" he uttered the last part for himself, "She's the open book I've read through and through." 

Pearl called out for him to reconsider. 

"Pearl, Spinel is in there, hoping that I know I can find the right words to save her. And I won't let her hopes down." 

Garnet nodded at the boy and at the gems. Steven nodded back, coming closer toward the fusion..

"Spinel! I know you can hear me." He had to speak louder to speak over the wicked laughter of the fusion. This was reminding him of a very traumatic event of his life. But Steven was older now. Stronger. He was prepared to face it. He was prepared to fix what he once could not. 

"My my, you're even tinier now than you were." Jasper's side laughed. The new fusion was as tall as Malachite was. "Just whom we needed, falling right into our claws. Do you know who we are?"

"Black Tourmaline?" 

"No, you goof!" The fusion growled, then one of the hands covered the upper mouth. 

Jasper covered her mouth, suddenly blushing from the silliness of the word that left her lips. 

“Not that “us”, you idiot! We represent the enemy that lurked right below the nose of the all powerful and praised little diamond for months!” It smiled, “We come from the War Gems! And we’re here to bring you down, Steven Universe!”

And then it jolted, the smaller mouth gasped out, 

“No!”

Spinel covered her mouth in fear, gasping out a “no”, but the vines quickly snapped her hands back down. 

Steven said nothing. He knew that saying that he was right would have been the worst decision he could have made now. He reached out instead, calling for the love of his life. 

“Spinel! I’m here, you’ll be fine! I promise! I’m so sorry for all the times I couldn’t be there for you! You were right, I should have listened to you!” 

Black Tourmaline slammed a fist on the ground. 

“O’course! Now that someone else grabbed your toy to play - you suddenly wan’ it back!” 

 “Stop it! Spinel isn’t a toy! She’s a gem of her own, and more importantly - my gemfriend!” 

“Oh, re-e-e-ally?” 

The beast of a fusion loomed over the boy, setting three hands just around him. Lifting his hands up, ready to summon his bubble around himself at a given need, Steven spoke on.

“Spinel, I know you’re in there. I know you can fight her. You’ve fought her before, and you won! I believe in you!” 

Jasper laughed louder. 

Black Tourmaline laughed louder. 

“How pathetic. What good have you two been for each other? Steven Universe, took guilty pleasure in using a little Spinel to boost his ego. Built his hopes of “fixing her” on “making her bett-ah”. And look where you have gotten…” The fusion pointed a single hand at an empty spot, “Nowhere!”

“That’s not true, none of it! I’ve been helping Spinel because I love her and want her to be happy. It has nothing to do with my ego-” 

“Or does it?!” She cut him off, “Look at how sad and hopeless you have became when you failed to understand her once. Decided to make her wait for hours before dealing with her emotional instability again!” 

Steven stomped his foot at the monster that loomed high above him in frustration. He was getting real tired of this. 

“For the last time, that’s none of anyone’s business!” 

“Aww- Hahaha! Ashamed of using her?” 

“What?!” That caught Steven off guard. 

“Always using the little toy as you please. Made her talk about her feelings - proud of ya’self. Saw her talk to another gem for once - got your ego licked. Don’t even get me started…” Black Tourmaline leaned down lower, her twisted face taking up whole Steven’s view, as she whispered, “On the time you used her to get off.”

Steven blushed, recoiling, “I did not! ” 

The monster threw her head back up, bursting into a ridiculous laughter for her ominous being. 

“Oh little Stevie-wevie. You have no right to judge me - us - this very fusion before her eyes. Me and Spinel are no better for each other than you two are!” 

The boy facepalmed, waving his other hand back at the gems whom he could just feel stand there eagerly to jump into the battle. 

“I don’t even want to know.” He said, looking up. 

“Don’t want to face, more like it. You already know it all about her.” 

Steven clenched his hands. 

“If you say she's dependant, I swear-

“Dependency is her lesser problem. Obsessiveness is.” 

Suddenly, the fusion recoiled back, falling to the side as it seemingly pushed itself back, then landed her own hand at her face with a punch. 

“Don’t you dare! ” Spinel jumped, hitting Jasper on the face. 

The bigger gem grabbed her hand, spinning Spinel around and pinning her down with her gem to the floor of their fusionscape, as she stepped over her with one foot. Jasper took a hold of her pigtails into one of her hands, and lifted her face by the chin with the other. Spinel growled through her tears. 

The fusion stood back up, fixing her crooked head back in place it was punched out of.

“Would ya look at that. Least the little doll knows she’s got secrets to keep from ya. Very shameful secrets…” 

“Then… I don’t want to know them!” Steven replied, coming closer. “Spinel, don’t worry! I know you’re fighting her! You can do this! Please, just don’t lose hope! You can win! I know you can!”

 The fusion rolled the upper eyes, while the lower ones were fixated on Steven, with guilt and fear in them. 

“Why don’t’cha tell him? Leaving all the fun parts to me, eh Spinel? Alright, where do we begin…” 

The monster carefully circled Steven around, trying to stand between him and the gems. She chose the worst way to destroy Steven - mentally. Amethyst took a step towards the monster, one component of whom she has grown love dearly over the time. Pearl placed a hand on her shoulder, keeping her back. Looking just as sad that this is what it all boiled down to. 

“Little Spinel, always so demanding and attention seeking… dreamt of nothing and no one but the new bearer of the Pink Diamond gem.” 

The fusion shook visibly, hands snapping up and down in an attempt to cover the upper mouth, but the buffer looking hand fought them off, slapping them away, before it tugged on the hair on her head. 

“As I was saying… I know of it all now. I can see the past. All the times she wished the gems would…” 

Spinel jolted up, but Jasper gripped her head and smacked it against the hard floor, holding it up again by the hair. 

“-She would simply wish they’d disappear! She wished there was no one in the world but her and Steven. Dreamt of stealing him, taking him far away and keeping all to herself!” 

Steven was only partly surprised. He figured Spinel really loved him and only wanted him, but he didn’t think she would be all unwelcoming to the rest of the world. And he was glad that she knew he needed social interactions. Most of the time she respected it. Most of the time… 

“S-so what? We all have weird… unreal fantasies!” The boy covered his cheeks. 

“Her weren’t a one time thing.” Tourmaline looked at the Crystal Gems, “She felt nothing but fear - fear of the three of you. You, Garnet, especially. Oh and the hatred she felt towards Pearl being picked by the Pink, and not her. Drowned out as she reveled in getting picked by the new Pink Diamond! Drowned out as she let you all get left behind, out of his life, as she tried to fill all the space with herself.” The monster turned back towards Steven, “And failed miserably.” 

Garnet called out. “Steven, I don’t think you can talk her out of this. We need to break them apart!”

“No! She just… She’s just voicing her fears, not her thoughts!” 

It was the fusion’s turn to stare at the boy with surprise in both sets of eyes. 

“I know Spinel dreamt of being together alone. I… picked it up. And I know she would never do any of the bad things Jasper’s saying! Those are… her intrusive thoughts! Spinel, those thoughts are not who you are, and you know that! You’re better, so much more healthier too! This isn’t you, you’re not a monster!” 

“A monster?” 

The fusion cackled, throwing her hand up to the sky - and slamming it down next to Steven. It knocked the boy off his feet, and Black Tourmaline quickly grabbed him up, in a moderately tight hold. 

“Then you really don’t know anything about her after all. Ooor…” The upper mouth grinned wide as the lower eyes closed shut, “She just became a damn good liar.” 

“She’d never lie to me, we made a promise!” 

“Bwahahaha! Ahaha! And you believed her? You believed that a gem so broken and used by everyone - could ever change for the better?!” 

Jasper was more disappointed than alarmed that Spinel seemingly stopped fighting - or moving at all in her grip. But a quick tug and yank of her hair proved that Spinel was very much conscious, not a single dry spot on her cheeks form all the tears. 

“She learned to lie all too well about how “good” it felt to open up! She hated it! Hated with every photon of her form, with every side of her gem!” 

The monster of weakness threw Steven to the ground. Steven landed safely, with complete control of his movement. He said nothing. 

“Don’t believe me? Why don’t you ask her what was on her mind about you today? How she wanted to beat you-”

“No!” Screamed the lower mouth, before a hand slammed over it. 

“Mad, so very mad at you for never treating her right!” 

“That’s not- mfph!” 

“You broke a little too many promises you gave her, boy.” 

Steven waited until the fusion would stop the fight against herself, although it didn’t seem like she would ever stop struggling out of her own existence. 

“We need to jump in. This can’t go on for any longer!” Pearl insisted. 

Garnet held her back once again. 

“This is for Steven and Spinel to work through. I know they can do this. Neither of them is lying right now.” 

Steven waited for an opening, then he jumped up, and slowed his descend next to the fusion’s face. He stared at the lower eyes, that stared back with a painful dullness of emotions. 

“Spinel, I don’t believe her, but even if a single word that she’s saying is true - I don’t blame you! I forgive you! I don’t give up on you - just don’t give up on yourself too! Please, I-” He got quieter as he leveled with her teary eyes, “I need you.” 

There was a single second during which the fusion froze completely. The lower eyes blinked, a tiniest spark of hope forming inside of the spiraled fuchsia eyes. 

Steven smiled back. Letting his guard down - a big mistake on his part, as he was flung to the side the very next moment. Once on the ground - he saw something dark heading his way - it was the monstrous being’s hand, slamming down over him and keeping the boy in place. 

“You really think you can talk your way out of anything just by talking to her?” 

“Yes! Yes I do!” 

“Aaahahahaha! You don’t even treat her right!” 

The fusion shifted, a sudden chill running through her body. 

Jasper stepped off Spinel, taking a step back. 

“I can treat her so much better. Don’t you want this, Spinel? Do you want to stay with the boy who will force mountains and mountains of healthy expectations on your fragile little shoulders, and won’t even always be there for you, forcing you onto his friends when he doesn’t have time for you? Or do you want to stay with me, someone who can and will always be by your side. I’ll let you take both your anger and sadness on me. I’ll let ya beat me up and hurt me all you want. I’ll let ya selfharm all you want, and hurt you as you know you want to be hurt and abused!” 

Spinel’s pair of eyes stared blankly. 

“What do ya say? Ditch the boy. He’s been taking you for granted for way too long.” 

The boy that was pinned down did not even have an argument back at that. If for a single moment Spinel would consider this offer - this would be her choice… her unhealthy choice. 

But did Steven want to lose her?... No. Never. 

...But was Steven better to her by enabling her dependency?...

No. It was not her dependency. This was her need for comfort. He couldn’t blame her. Not after what life - well, his mom mostly - did to Spinel. After all, Spinel was right. Her trauma didn’t ask who raised a hand next to her head - be it Steven - she’ll still cover and recoil in fear every time. She’ll still expect a betrayal of him. She’ll still expect him to grow bored of her. She’ll still watch out for the slightest change of his tone and take it for a sign that she has done something awfully wrong. 

She was abused. He couldn’t allow himself to think that she just had a weird behaviour - there was an explanation for it. It was a bush of thorny and hurtful roses, buds of doubt and branches of fears - and it all bloomed from a single seed of trauma. 

“Spinel…” He called out softly, in a whisper. “I’m sorry.” 

The monster stepped back on its four lower limbs. Black Tourmaline raised up. This time Jasper’s eyes waited, as Spinel’s eyes darted around, deep in her thoughts… 

Why are you like this, Steven? Why have you done this to me? Don’t you know how much easier it would have been to just give up by now? How much I wanted to give up back then, on the fence… 

But you picked up the pieces of my shattered heart and glued them back together. And I was so afraid, afraid when you kept my heart in your hands. 

But you were so good - your touch was so gentle. And your love warmed me from inside. 

Your love… made me want to keep fighting. Your love is the rope that was thrown down the rock bottom I laid in. And even when I didn’t bother climbing it - you climbed down on it, took me into your hands, and climbed back out with me in your embrace. 

I’m so sorry, Steven. I’m so sorry that I’ve only done everything I could to make you drop me. I feared that you would eventually do it anyways - I just wanted to be… prepared. 

But I was never prepared to be loved back the way you love me. 

Spinel slowly raised up, keeping a grim expression on her face. She turned towards Jasper sharply, reaching a hand for her. 

“Let’s bring justice.” She said. 

The bigger gem beamed with a wide grin. She took her hand, sharing control of their fusion as the two faced the world… 

“Steven Universe.” The lower mouth said in a voice of a disappointed parent, as Spinel’s eyes looked down at him. 

“Spinel?” 

“You’ve made a promise.” Spinel made the fusion crawl closer, lowering down over the boy. “You made a promise to love and cherish me each day, to make me feel loved as you claimed I deserved it.”

“I did.” Steven almost added “I’m so sorry I didn’t go through with it”, but his eyes said it instead. 

“And after everything, after all that time, all that you did was…”

The monster raised her hand. 

The Crystal Gems summoned their weapons. 

Steven accepted whatever was to come. 

~

Jasper was more than happy, gripping the little pink hand - the hand that suddenly looped and whipped her hand away. 

~

“...Stay true to it.” 

Steven just stared up with a confused gasp. 

“You stayed true to your promise, even when I didn’t notice - even when I was difficult to love - you’ve always loved me.” The fusion spoke in Spinel’s voice, as her eyes softened. The lower mouth even gave a little smile as it spoke. 

“I suppose it’s only fair that I stick close to my own promise.” 

Jasper wasn’t even aware when she had summoned up the vines again. But she glanced at Spinel with an evil stare, waiting for the vines to coil around her again.

But they did not. They were not summoned by Jasper. 

Spinel stood still, her face raised up as the vines she summoned got a grip on Jasper. They held her hands back, and brought her down to her knees. She growled and struggled like a caught bull, while Spinel calmly approached her. 

She reached her hand for Jasper’s face. Spinel’s face was as cold as a stone. 

The fusion spoke in sync with her.

“Remember what I said I’d do if I saw you anywhere in the vicinity of my friends again?” 

The fusion placed a hand on her own face. 

Then she ripped it out. The nose gem was in her hand alright. 

The fairly traumatizing sight only lasted a second - a second too long - before the faceless monster poofed. 

Two gems fell each to different sides. 

Steven jumped up - catching semi-conscious Spinel and keeping her tightly in his arms, as he slowed his descend. 

“Just breath. You’re safe now…” 

Jasper fell just outside the fence, hitting a few bars with her side, as she crashed through the roof of the room with the galaxy warp. Coughing, she raised up, crawling onto the white circle fully and warping away. Back to the base… 

 

Steven landed down with Spinel, letting her sit up over his lap. He cupped her face gently. 

“Spinel, it’s alright. You did it! I knew you would! I believed! Spinel, I’m so sorry…” 

The pink gem hissed in reply, as if Steven was rubbing salt into her wound. 

“Spinel?” He stuttered. 

Spinel was shaking, she raised her hands up over Steven’s own. 

“G-get… get your h-hands… get your hands OFF ME!!! ”  

Steven let go the moment she screamed, scuttling back. The three gems around the two gasped with concern. 

“S-sorry!” Spinel fell to her hands and knees, “Sorry, I… I’m so sorry- please just- please just don’t touch me- sorry- please don’t hurt me!” 

“Spinel, I would never. I love you. I’m not mad at you! I want to comfort you.”

“None of us are mad.” Garnet tried to reassure, reaching an open palm for Spinel. “We’re proud of you. You’re safe now, I promise.” 

Spinel registered the limb approaching - she slapped Garnet’s hand away. Then she fell back, covering her mouth in shock of her own action. Her hair was as low as Steven had ever seen it go. 

“Sorry!! I’m so sorry, I- I won’t do this again! Please, please don’t hurt me! Please!!” She cried out. 

The four Crystal gems glanced at each other. 

“Her mentality took a tough hit.” Garnet concluded the diagnosis. She poofed her visors away, looking down at Spinel. “I’m so sorry. I knew it’d be bad, but… I didn’t imagine it’d get that bad.” 

“You knew?!” Steven looked up at her, “You knew this would happen?! For how long did you know?!” 

“I saw futures where this was handled better, and the two of you were making out by now… I didn’t think this is the one that would happen. I…” 

Garnet kneeled down next to the panicking little gem.

“Spinel, I’m sorry.” 

Spinel didn’t register the words said. She just kept hyperventilating, holding onto her hair and begging for mercy from the gems who cared about her. 

“What do we do now?” 

Steven glanced at each of the gems. Garnet was sorry, Pearl was concerned, and Amethyst was… not with them. 

Amethyst stood over the broken fence, looking down at the hole in the roof, and the warp pad that her sister used to run away.

“She lied…” She whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks. 

Steven held onto his forehead, sighing. Then he shot up - causing Spinel to cover further away. That, he would have to watch out for.

“Sorry. Okay. Listen. We can get through this. We’ve had worse.”

“I don’t think we did.” Pearl shook her head. 

“But we know what this is! We can… We can do this. I know we can. Spinel… she just needs to…” The boy rubbed a hand down his face, “Gosh, this will not be easy. But it will be possible! She’ll calm down. Eventually. Okay. Let me handle this.” 

Pearl and Garnet stepped back, as Steven very slowly crawled closer to Spinel, who was just laying curled in the grass by now, shaking and crying. Her words weren’t comprehensible anymore.

“Spinel? It’s just me, Steven. Do you recognize me?” 

The gem didn’t react. 

“I’m going to make a shield around us now. Just for safety - your safety. You’ll be protected from everything. You’ll be safe. And you’ll be free to leave if you feel… locked up. Okay? Is that okay with you?” 

As if he said nothing. 

Steven slowly formed a pink bubble with flat floor around the two - making it wide enough that it wouldn’t feel too confined. 

Spinel didn’t register when the grass was replaced with a pink barrier below her. 

“Okay. Well, at least you’re not feeling worse.” Steven sat up, holding his hands together. 

“I’ll wait for as long as you need. We’ll work through this. I promise.”  

Chapter Text

Steven imagined that one day he would do the relationship trope of sleeping on the couch. He thought it would be on the day he'd make a unfortunate pun, or on a day he'd say or do something wrong and would need to give Spinel space to forgive him. But he never thought that the reason would be the worsening of her state. 

The boy laid under a cover on the couch, rewatching the memories of the past days before his eyes. A good amount of time was spent with Steven waiting for Spinel to stop spasming and crying in the ground, inside of the safe bubble he used to shield the two. To shield, and partly to make sure Spinel wouldn't run away again. Or bolt towards the opening in the fence. Or over the fence… 

The sun set down when Spinel slowly came to her senses, allegedly. When she raised her head and found herself confined - her hysteria threatened to start all over, so Steven had to poof the bubble away, but he stayed ready to resummon it. Better one more panic attack than to lose her. It was a situation where no choice he could have made was a right one, so he just had to pick the lesser risk. 

"Spinel?" He whispered. 

She knew that tone. That soft, whispering tone that only meant that Steven was worried, loving, ready to comfort her. She had to recognize it. 

She tried to stutter something in reply, while looking at him. 

Looking at him! There we go! She's recognizing him! Somewhat. That's progress. That's good.

"It's okay. It's all okay. You're safe. Spinel? We can go inside now. Inside the house… it'll be even safer there. No one will hurt you anymore. I promise." 

Spinel sat up on her knees, tying her hands around her body. Steven thought she stuttered out something along the lines of "I'm sorry." 

"It's okay. It's all good. I forgive you. Not mad at you. I'm just glad you're safe now." 

Steven stood up, reaching his hand out. Spinel covered her face, not taking her spiraled eyes off him. With a sad sigh, the boy took a few steps down the hill, keeping his gaze on the hurt gem and keeping his hand reached out. She stayed in place. A few more steps, and few more words of comfort and calling. At this point Steven hummed a soft tune. The one Spinel was familiar with. 

Steven didn't even say a word. At this point she knew them all by heart. It was their own love song. 

Hey you, show me that solvable problem

We can get through this, I'll do the 

Hardest 

Part with 

You...

Spinel placed one knee down, standing up. Her hands kept wondering, from covering her hair to covering her gem. But she followed Steven, like a curious yet terrified animal would follow a promising smell of food. 

Somehow they managed to make it all the way back to the house. Miraculously, Steven got her to follow him up the stairs, to his room. He noted that Rose's portrait was taken off the wall, and turned with its back side out. Right. Garnet did it, probably. Even if Spinel didn't recognize Rose Quartz, it was best to avoid anything that could have set her off tight now. And right now, it could have been anything. 

The moment they entered Steven's room, Spinel rushed over and hopped onto Steven's bed. And that's how the boy knew he'd have a safe zone for her after all. She held onto the blanket, gathering it into her hands and tying her limbs around it. She kept her head buried into it. 

Steven didn't dare approach closer, he moved his little bean bag chair closer instead and sat down on it. Leaning over the side with his arms crossed below his face. Not taking his gaze off Spinel. 

They'll work through this. It could have been worse. It would get better. He knew it would. He believed in it. He believed in her… 

 

...It's been few days since then. Spinel got somewhat better. She was recognizing him, and not-him. He couldn't exactly say she recognized and differed the others much. There were only two sorts of people for her right now: Steven and Not Steven. Just like Black Tourmaline said. She started to talk again, but not as much as she used to. Replying mostly when asked, with a "yes" or a "no", and communicating by turning her head away any other time. 

But it was progress! She got a little bit better. Any step counted. The smallest ones especially. They had to be valued. She had to be given a carrot for it. Figuratively. She wasn’t exactly a bunny… or was shy? 

At this rate Spinel was very much a very frightened bunny, who’s ears - that were supposed to be up and cheerful - flopped down the sides of her face instead. 

Spinel was a knot in the middle of a rope that was constantly tugged over two sides. One side wanted to reach out, the other could not face letting anyone touch her. 

 

And so, it was the middle of the night, and Steven laid on the couch, with a pillow from his room and a spare blanket, as he heard squeaky toy noises come from above. Steven laid still, with his eyes open, as he watched a shadow come down the stairs and stop before the couch. Steven's eyes were hidden in the dark, but in the shine of a fading moon, he saw that Spinel was staring at him while he supposedly slept. 

Steven waited for a few minutes. Curious. Spinel indeed stood still, staring at him breath evenly. Alright, not like he wasn't used to that by now, but it had a different meaning to it when Spinel laid with him in their bed and they slept together. Now that she just stood there, with her hands by her sides, staring out with her big ol' eyes - it was making a familiar word replay in Steven's mind, in Black Tourmaline's voice. 

Obsessiveness. 

Well… Steven, personally, could live with that. 

He pretended to roll around sleepily, then stretch, rubbed his eyes as if he just woke up, then blinked at Spinel a few times. The boy raised up in his elbows. 

"Oh, hey. Spinel?" 

The gem got startled, taking a step back. 

"Are you okay? Is everything okay?" 

She said nothing, but stepped back towards him. Had anything been up, she'd make it clear. She'd find a way. 

"Did you… get scared?" 

He saw her nod in reply, as her eyes closed and opened slowly. Confirmation. 

"Nightmare?" 

No reply. 

"...Missed me?" 

Another nod. 

"Well. You can… stay here. Or do you want me to go up and-" 

The boy started to get up, but Spinel sat on the other edge of the couch, with her hands held together. 

"Oh. Okay. You can come closer if you want." Steven reached a hand for her. 

Spinel leaned back from it, even though there was a decent distance between them already. 

Steven moved his hand back, grabbing his pillow and laying his head on it. 

"But. Just so you know. You can come closer. It's okay." 

Spinel nodded in reply. That was the last movement Steven saw of her, as he laid in silence and slowly drifted to sleep soon after, under her watchful gaze that never blinked… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The sun was high up and shining, when the glass door slammed open, and a grey haired girl zoomed into the house. Her girlfriend followed behind with a little bag over her shoulder. 

"Steven! Spinel!" Marine called out. 

"I still think we should have warned them before we came here." 

Connie placed her bag by the door, lowkey ready to hear that they weren't welcome today, and that they had to turn around and leave. 

Steven took a few steps down the stairs, greeting the two from the edge of his room. 

"Hey." 

"Hey magic boy!" 

Marine ran up the staircase, getting a hold of Steven's hand and shaking it, almost shaking the whole boy along. 

"Nice to see ya. We came to hang out."

"Hi, I uhm… I don't think this is the best time for it." 

"Oh it's okay!" Connie voiced, "We can just come another day..."

"Then we're here to be a mental support!" Marine lovingly interrupted. "What sorta friends leave each other to deal with stuff alone?" 

Steven stared down at her with surprise in his eyes. A pleasant surprise. 

"I guess. Let me…" he took a few steps down the staircase, then gestured for Connie to come closer as well. He spoke quietly.

"The thing is… Spinel got badly traumatised." 

"We know that." 

"No, I mean, few days ago, when you saw all that... Some bad things happened after that. I'd rather not tell the whole story. Just know that… Spinel has bad trust issues now, she can't be touched or approached. And she doesn't really talk…" 

"Gee, what happened? At least, like, in general? Precisely?" Marine put her hands at her hips. 

"I don't think it'll make sense to you. Basically, Jasper forced her into a fusion." 

Marine glanced at Connie for an explanation. The latter shrugged.

"It's kinda like forcing someone to share their mind with you." 

"Yes." Steven continued, "And she did a lot of bad things to her while they were like this." 

"I thought Jasper was rejuvenated and reformed?" 

"She got her memories back for some reason…" Steven instinctively reached for his gem. "It doesn't matter. She went back to the War Gems. And Spinel is here, safe and sound… kinda." 

"Maybe we didn't come at the best time after all?" 

Connie glanced at Marine with a hope to just leave already written all over her face. But Marine was deep in her thoughts, as she put one hand on her chin, and used the other to hold that one up. 

"Alright. I've got a plan." She announced. 

"A plan?" 

"I have an experience with frightened and abused animals. Well, bunnies mostly. I'm sure it can be applied here. I just got a feeling it can work. Now you two come closer, I'll tell ya the plan…" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

First rule of befriending a bunny is to enter its vicinity and level with it. Show it that you are no threat. That you mean no harm. 

In fact, act like you don't notice their presence at all. Not interested. Pretty much like befriending an introvert - show them that you're aware of them in the room, but don't reach a hand towards them. 

Let them get used to your presence on their own pace. 

The three kids walked back to the room. 

"Spinel, Marine and Connie came over to hang out. If that's okay with you. I thought we can let them hang around. They brought games." 

"And money to order a snack when we get hungry." Marine places the bag on the floor, opening it up and retrieving something out. 

Spinel watched the kids settle in a circle on the floor, by the bed she was still occupying. She was lying on her front side, her hands circled around her face for any sudden need to cover, and her legs together and tucked close. Steven sat closest to the bed, where he could easily see Spinel and smile at her, while not invading her righteously claimed territory - his bed. 

Well. Their bed by now. 

Spinel watched, while Marine retrieved a deck of colourful cards and made 4 sets by 6 cards in them. One she reached for Steven, one for Connie, one she placed closer to the bed, and one she kept for herself. Spinel didn't pick the pack intended for her, but that didn't seem to bother anyone.

The match began. The three kids kept the cards to themselves, Spinel being the only one who could see Steven's cards. And occasionally, Marine would show a card to Connie before she'd place it down. 

"Uno!" She eventually announced, placing down a card with two circling arrows. "It's Connie's turn now too." 

Connie smiled back at her with that evil shine in her eyes, as she placed the same card of a different colour down, making it Marine's turn again. Marine placed down her last card, winning the match proudly. 

"That's not fair, you guys are teaming together!" Steven laughed, happily accepting the defeat. 

"All is fair in love and war." Marine placed a hand around Connie's shoulder, bringing her closer and placing a soft kiss on her temple. The kissed girl giggled, covering her blushing face away. 

"Awww…" Steven cooed, looking at Spinel with a smile (with no expectations) and back at the scenery. 

Spinel watched it all with a familiar feeling. A feeling that she was watching life unfold before her, but not with her in it. That she was in a bubble, laying away, only being an audience to whatever was going on. And at that she was also on high alert. 

~

Marine looked at Steven, nodding about something. The boy nodded back, acting accordingly to their plan as he took all the cards and put them back into the box that had "Uno" written on it in big letters. 

"Thanks. It's always nice to play a… uh…" he looked at the box, holding it up where Spinel could see it. 

"The uh… the onu? The nuo… the nou?" 

"Uno." Spinel whispered. 

"Right, how could I forget, it's Uno. Thank you Spinel." 

With the blessing of the Cunningham's law to the rescue, they got a word out of her. A wonderful progress. 

~

"You guys hungry, I can order pizza." Marine took her phone into her hand, looking through the numbers she knew. "Preferences?" 

"No fish. Much cheese." Said Connie. 

"Pinapples on the side." Said Steven. 

Spinel stayed quiet. 

"Does Spinel has a preference?" 

"She hasn't actually tried any pizzas yet. She just loves sweets." 

"Aww, that's so… sweet. Haha, alright, this one little place I know delivers desserts, I'll get some." 

"I'm… not hungry." Was voiced from the bed, where the only change in Spinel's position throughout the whole time was her putting her hands lower by her sides. She resembled a resting bunny this way. A loaf of a bunny.

After you got your bunny used to your general presence, get them into a moderately open pan, and sit inside of it, nearby. 

Show no signs of interest in them. You are teaching them that you are no threat. This is an exercise of trust. They might need a lot of tries for it, so don't get sad if they don't love you right away. 

"Ah. Okay, so I'll just order two for Steven and Connie. I'm not hungry either." 

'I'm not hungry either' said the girl who would be playing around a single piece of cake in half an hour later. 

She and Connie finished their shares of the main course and drinks, and now moved to the part where Marine would pick up spoonfuls of the chocolate flavoured treat and make an airplane motion with it as she treated her girlfriend with it. Connie laughed, saying that she was embarrassing her. But that didn't stop Marine from feeding her and joking about her being a baby, neither did it stop her from leaning in and kissing a corner of Connie's mouth when a bit of a cream stayed on it. Said process caused Connie to hide her face and make flustered noises, which the other girl found simply delightful. 

Steven watched the two as he sat next to the bed in his bean bag chair. He barely touched his sweet treat himself, but he did scoop up the cream from above and held the plastic spoon up, strangely just within Spinel's range of motion… 

Share food with the bunny. That's a sign of friendship and trust as well. And it will make sure to make them associate you with good things.

Steven stayed moveless, when he saw Spinel reach for his spoon in the corner of his eye. He pretended to focus his attention on the two lovebirds on the floor. And he expected Spinel to either grab the spoon from him or stretch her head towards it. But instead she scooped the cream with her finger, reeling it back and getting a taste. 

Sometimes if you try to feed your bunny, they will grab some of the offered food and scatter back away to eat it, as they might not be trusting you yet. 

Steven didn't say a word, but he scooped more up and held it in the exactly same position. 

This time, the spoon was grabbed where Spinel's fingers didn't reach Steven's ones, and reeled back to the gem with her hand. Steven held the plate up and out for her. And Spinel would stretch her hand, grab a slice, and reel it back to eat it. 

Hold the bunny's head down while you feed them to establish dominance. 

Steven looked at Spinel, smiling proudly and happily at the gem who ate something for the first time in days. Which incidentally wasn't as concerning or upsetting as if she had been a human, but still was a very good sign. 

"Alright, I've got Twister and Monopoly." Connie came back up with two boxes. 

"Monopoly." Steven quickly suggested. That's strange, Twister wasn't a part of the plan. That would have been a game of many touches, and it was probably the last thing Spinel needed right now. 

Connie placed the other box down, and went to open the monopoly box, getting the map and money out. 

"Alright, Monopoly it is." 

As if it was a choice. 

But all of a sudden, Spinel reached her hand for the other box, sitting up as she reeled it back in and inspected. 

"What's Twister?" 

"Oh." Steven replied, "I don't think it's a game you'd like to play, because it's…" 

Spinel looked up at him, not knowing what he wanted to say. And Steven suddenly doubted if it was right to address the traumatized elephant in the room. 

"Because it's… too easy for you! You'd win it from the first try, we wouldn't even have chance! Haha!" 

If you love them let them win, they say. 

"How come?" 

"Because it's a game about… stretching and… um, it usually ends with people being tangled together." Steven tried to warn her very carefully.

Spinel opened the box, completely ignoring that Connie was half way through setting down all the Monopoly pieces. 

"Is that so?" She pulled the spinning piece out, sending it to come around and stop on a pink spot. 

"Yeah. But it's okay, we can play Monopoly, that one only needs people to sit down by the board and know the concept of capitalism, and…" 

"...What if I promise not to stretch?" 

The three kids turned their heads towards Spinel. 

She pushed herself out of her comfort zone, getting off the bed and coming closer to Steven with the coloured box in her hands. 

"Let's twist." She assumed she named the activity of playing the game right. 

"...Sure. If you want us to." Steven shrugged, helping her set that game down. 

Somewhere aside from them, Connie crossed her hands in frustration, having so carefully set all the pieces of the other game out. 

There was a tint of doubt in the air. Steven suspected Spinel was pushing herself to it, seeing as she could not even take being pointed a hand at earlier. But maybe he underrated just how much their efforts to bring her out of her bubble meant? Either way the kids remembered all that they talked about before they came up here.

If she tries to join their activity or go as far as make a physical contact - be as open as you can and let her have it at her own pace. 

It wasn't long before three kids were on the playing mat, struggling against each other to keep the balance, while Connie was the one to spin the spinner and order them around. It was her choice not to end up anywhere near Spinel - she had enough of her physical contact since the last time. 

"Right hand on pink." 

Spinel patted Steven's shoulder with a chuckle. 

"Spinel, no. Okay, fine, you get a different move." Connie spun the wheel again. "Left hand on blue." 

The time Spinel reached and tapped Marine's blue tunic, feeling something small and rough under the surface. 

Connie sighed, shaking her head. 

Marine beamed, finding her reaction cutely amusing and laughing about it - as she collapsed down, bringing Steven down, and consequently Spinel with them. 

Laughter was in the air, but so was the mild emotion of worry. Spinel wiggled her way out from below Steven. 

A secondary pause in the laughter.

And then Spinel let a smile cross her face as she laughed too. It was a sight of mixed signals. Her mouth and laughter said happiness, her eyes showed subtle sadness, but her raised hand around her chest, along with the crossed and tucked legs, stood for insecurity and shielding. 

She must have thought that if she pretended to be okay again - she could convince herself eventually that she truly was. It wouldn't have worked. 

But what's done was done - She was happy on the surface. Just not below it. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Spinel stood by Steven's side just outside the house, as they waved goodbye to the two newly made friends, wishing them safe way home and hoping to gather like this again someday. 

It was foggy. Spinel leaned over the fence, staring out at the sea - a sight that was starting to make her feel melancholic. Steven reached his hand out - but never let it complete the intended journey, and placed it down on the fence next to her own. Spinel noted, raising her hand and slowly reaching it over Steven's own. It lingered above in the air, before she held onto his hand. 

The boy smiled at her proudly. The gem didn't smile back. The boy stopped smiling, growing concerned. 

Spinel withdrew her hand again, holding onto it. 

"Sorry… not yet." 

"It's okay." 

Spinel looked away, taping her fingers. 

"Did you invite them to help me?"

"What? Oh, Marine and Connie came on their own. To hang out." 

"But you all planned your actions to… bring me out of my bubble?"

Should he have admitted the truth? Would that be a mistake? Was she looking to guilt trip herself?

"...We all care about you." 

Spinel looked down, now holding her hands together. So, they planned it all?

"That's what friends do, Spinel. When they care about you. Want to help you." 

Because I'm a burden that needs to be helped. "Thank you." 

"Huh? Really?" 

You put on a show for me. "Yeah. Thank you. You all did it for me." 

"That's what you would have done too, I'm sure."

Say what now? "Say what now?" 

"When your friends are feeling down - that's what you do. You try to cheer them up." 

"Isn't it fake?" Slipped out before Spinel could cover her mouth and look at Steven with worry. She had to get a grip on her actions again. Her instability was not a reason to lose grip like that. 

Is that what you thought of us? 

Steven bit his lip, remembering a time of his life when he had the gems he called family set up a whole course of challenges to make him feel better. A fake course. But was it wrong? There was not a single day of his life when Steven thought that they were wrong to do it, or that he was wrong to lie. 

"No. It's not fake. It's about caring. Sincerely caring. Just like when I was sick and you did everything to cheer me up." 

"But that's different. I love you. They're just… they don't even have reasons to like me!" 

Steven reached his hand out for her, an open palm up. 

"Kindness doesn't need reasons." 

I must look either ridiculous or ignorant if he has to explain that to me like 1-2-3. Or both. Probably both. Definitely both. 

"You're right." 

You're really that unused to kindness, are you, Spinel? 

Spinel moved the back of Steven's hand away with the back of her own. 

"Sorry. Not yet." 

"It's okay. Do you want to talk about it?"

When did I ever want to talk about my feelings? 

"I want… to tend to our Garden." 

"That's a good idea." Steven opened the glass door, inviting the gem to follow him.

The Garden was always a good place to visit for the two. 

Or at least in Steven's experience it was. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"I love you." Steven held a rose up in his hands, looking at the crying gem before himself. "I just wish I could help you." 

"I'm sorry…" Spinel wiped her tears away, but they kept coming and coming. "Sorry, I don't want to be like this… I swear! I wouldn't if I could! I'm sorry." 

Spinel held onto her head, as if it was hurting. 

20 minutes in the Garden, watering the seeds and digging up the old soil, and she broke down again. 

"Spinel, what you're having isn't wrong."

"But it is! Look at me!" She opened her arms up. "I'm a mess!" 

"No. You're doing really good right now. You're letting it all out." 

Spinel growled, "Just stop it already!" 

Steven wondered about an elaboration on what to stop doing exactly.

"I won't stop loving you." 

"Why?! Why would you!" Spinel stood up, coming closer towards Steven, "Why do you even pretend to like me when I'm like this? I'm always like this, I haven't changed at all!" 

Briefly he wondered if he should have let her vent it out, or actually try to answer. It's not like Spinel would have listened right now. But his heart told him to do that still. 

"This isn't wrong. What you're doing isn't wrong. You're just venting. You've been through a lot of pain. You've been needing this." 

"Rrrargh! What about this seems right to you? I'm always either angry or sad, there is no inbetween!" 

"That's not always so." Steven was strangely calm and confident, "Spinel, I'm sorry for whoever made you think that your feelings aren't worth expressing. But that's a lie. Things have been bad lately, that's the reason you feel like you being happy is a life time way. But I've seen you happy, and I know you'll be happy again. For now, you have to let your anger and sadness out when you feel them. No matter where they come from. Reasons or no reasons - they're your emotions, and you have to let them be. Accept them. Face them. It'd be unhealthy if you'd let it boil inside of you. It can eat you from inside."

Steven twirled a rose in his hand. Spinel was shocked and conflicted, listening to him talk. Then she snatched the rose from his hand and threw it to the ground, stomping on it. She looked back at him - Come on, scold me. 

"That's okay. It was a dead flower anyways." 

"Why are you like this!" Spinel grabbed onto her hair, sliding down on her knees again. Steven noticed a weird gesture she did suddenly - she brought her wrist to her mouth, nibbling on it though her tears. 

Steven sat down, leveling with her. 

"This… is normal, Spinel. What you knew before was not. I'm sorry. I wish I knew how to make you feel better sooner. But you're already doing the best thing for it by letting this out. I'd… pat you on the back for it." 

Her tone went from enraged to scared momentarily, "Not yet, please don't." 

"I know, I know. I won't. You're safe." 

"Sorry." 

"Don't be." 

"I am! I don't want to be so… so… so red zone all over!" 

"It's okay." 

"I…" she looked up at him, "I want to hug you too. I just can't."

"That's okay. I promise." 

"How?" She drew out with a sob, "Why are you saying it, how can any of this be any sort of "okay"?"

Steven concluded that Spinel did not hear the previous times he explained why it was okay to express her emotions. So now he simply sat quietly and let her do that. 

Her hysteria went from a metronome of sadness to anger to a sudden slam of a hammer over it - a hammer of emotions so mixed up, she started laughing. 

"That's funny, isn't it? All your efforts, and now I'm way behind than I was before." 

"No one could have known this would happen." 

Hysteria died down, making way for the numbness, as Spinel held onto herself. 

"Maybe I could have stopped it…" 

"What's done is done. We deal with the consequences now." 

"Maybe I should just let you…" she said something unintelligible, "...myself." 

"Sorry, what?" 

Spinel held her hand out towards him, "Maybe you should just say "fuck it" and force me out of this?" 

Steven recoiled, "No! Touching someone who says that that makes them feel bad is wrong!" 

"I'm sorry. I just don't know what to do anymore. I want to climb out of this. You make me want to climb out of this. I just… don't know how." 

The silence formed, as they only exchanged looks. The eyes filled with hope met the eyes filled with despair. 

"I won't give up on you. No matter what. I promise that to you." Steven tried to comfort her, looking up at the starry sky above them. He spotted a planet he had seen loom above the place several times before. It was hollowed out with a shape of a heart. A heart in a circle. A heart and a circle… 

"You're signing yourself up for a challenge to love." 

Spinel brushed a hand over her hair and up. It followed, sticking up for once in past few days. Somewhat. 

Steven looked back down at her. Hopeful of that change of her hairdo.

"I think I know what to do." 

The gem waved a hand at him in a vague gesture, "Well, let's hear what hopeful plan am I about to ruin horribly this time."

 

"Spinel. Let's form Pink Calcite." 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Back on Earth, at a beach house, on the couch, inside of the gem who sat up meditating, two smaller gems had a chat inside of their fusionscape. 

"We should have warned them." Sapphire rubbed at her face, putting her hair away from her eye. 

"Don't blame yourself. We… you couldn't have known. It was as possible as the other way it could have played out." 

"Then… maybe we should have told Steven about the War Gems. That he was concentrating on them too much. And leaving Spinel behind." 

"Like you said, they need to work through things like that on their own." Ruby sat in front of Sapphire, softly holding her hands out to cup her face. "Love takes time."

Sapphire reached out, moving closer and hugging Ruby. She let the red gem hold her in her strong hands. 

"Maybe we should tell them now?" 

"What's coming for them? Or?.." 

"I'm not sure. At least about the War Gems? I see them coming, but they won't be trying to hurt Steven. Though, if anyone needs our support now - it's Amethyst. But..." She sighed, "But, yes, Steven and Spinel need to tend to their love on their own. We can't interfere." 

"Steven is a big boy now." Ruby placed her head over Sapphire's, petting her wife's back softly. "He can make the right choices - we raised him well after all..."

 

Garnet sighed out in relief, "We sure did."

Chapter Text

"Spinel. Let's form Pink Calcite."

Spinel jumped back, as if she just got stabbed through the chest, through her gem. But two additional seconds of thinking about it changed her mind, as she stood up, still a little hysterical. 

“Okay.” 

“Wait, that’s not all.” Steven meant to explain his plan further, but Spinel came closer to him, making her gem shine up and holding her hands out. 

“No, no, it’s okay, I agree.” She lied through her teeth. “Let’s do that.” 

She held onto Steven, her whole frame trembling from the mental clash of comfort and fear. Steven wanted to gently push her off and explain what he meant, but the moment she tied her hands around him, and her face was so close to his own once again - all he could think about was to hug her back. Even forgetting for a moment what a bad idea that was. His gem shined up too, and the two lost their shapes as the new life they made together attempted to come to the light. 

But something went wrong. Their form was uncertain, limbs shifting around, the face not forming. From two hands to three hands, to having both Spinel’s and Steven’s shining hands stick out of the shining body of a fusion that wasn’t working out as intended. Their faces wouldn’t form into one, and instead both could only feel half of their face, as if they were mashed up together. A two coloured cone of vanilla and strawberry ice cream. The fusion never stopped to shine. 

It screamed, never coming to life, and the two fell out of it in two different directions. 

Spinel got up first, ready to try again and unsure what went wrong. But Steven raised his hand up at her from the ground, for once in the last few days being the one to shield from her touch. 

“That’s not what I meant!” He tried again. 

“Oh? I… I’m sorry, I just thought...” Spinel started to laugh again, covering her face, “I thought you decided to follow through with my plan and force me out of this.” 

“What? No! I’d never do that. I’d never want to force you into anything you don’t want.” 

“Well, maybe it’d work?” Spinel scratched the back of her head, “Steven, I am very much in despair of options here.”  

“Then… hear me out. I want us to form Pink Calcite - which we won’t do if you say “no” to this - and I want you to control it.” 

Spinel’s pigtails perked up like a curious bunny's ears. 

“Say what now?” 

“You and I know what Pink Calcite is. That they're… not a fusion. They're like a trench coat for us. Like a giant mech that you and I climb into." 

"What's a mech?" 

"A mechanical… shell, I guess?"

"I feel like a shell right now." 

"I know Spinel. So I thought… maybe if you can go through that again - but be in control this time - you can overcome your fears? Overwrite the bad memories with a new experience." 

Spinel thought about his words, "You want to fuse and… let me be in charge? But- but what if it’ll go awfully wrong?” 

“I don’t see how can this possibly go wrong.” Steven shrugged, naively. 

“What if I’ll go mad with the power?” 

“Whatever helps you.” 

“What about you?” 

“What about me? We’ll be together. Everything else will be fine with me.” 

Steven stood up with confidence in his humorously flawed plan, reaching a hand for Spinel. 

A fusion… A fusion where she would control it all, to let her see that it was safe. See that she didn’t have to be hurt in a fusion. See that fusion was a beautiful thing to do, only tainted to her by the recent experience. And Steven must have been trusting her with his life if he proposed such a plan to such a broken gem. 

After thinking of it for a good while, Spinel nodded at him, taking his hand and concentrating on this better than the last time, five minutes ago. 

Steven kept Spinel's hand in his own as he held it up at a shoulder level, and placed his other hand on her hip, humming a familiar tune as he guided her to follow his dance. Spinel placed her head down on his shoulder, humming along. 

A step by step, and a twirl, and a spin. And a twist, and a spin. And a hand and a grin. And a kiss… and a new lifeform sparkled to life. 

A lifeform quite familiar with everything… for it was not a new lifeform  at all. Just a trench coat. 

Steven and Spinel danced, until the Garden around them slowly turned dark, then bright, and then it looked like a place they knew. 

Uncertain dimension. Endless and confined. Dim floor beneath them, and teal clouds that formed all around. Everything in the distance was a teal fog that was only darker in one corner. A corner where they kept the worst memories. It was an empty teal space they shared their minds in. A special secret place just for them. The bubble that shielded them from the rest of the world. 

The Aether. 

The two parted from the kiss they ended up having. Spinel was the first to look around, recognize the familiar place, and start to freak out. She broke free of Steven's hold, looking around as if she suddenly discovered having claustrophobia. She darted around like a worried bunny in a confined pan where it was forced into to get used to a human to trust. 

Steven kept turning around after her, watching where she'd jump next. He knew they were safe there anyways. Hands in his pockets, he imagined his old bean bag chair from his room… and it appeared next to him. Steven sat down on it, watching the cute little bunny hop around. He wasn't holding Pink Calcite together, so had Spinel wanted them to - she would have had the full freedom of unfusing at any moment. 

But she wasn't unfusing them. Chances are she was forcing herself into this, maybe even subconsciously. But she wasn't unfusing. 

Steven forgot to account for one thing though. He realized that when he closed his eyes… 

 

...And Pink Calcite's lower set of eyes opened up. Steven could see that the body was hopping all over their Garden, mirroring Spinel's movements inside. Except it was actually crashing the physical place. Ruining the newly installed columns and bending the neatly shaped bushes, as they tried to ran from themselves. As Spinel tried to run from herself. 

Finally, Pink Calcite stopped in place, still hyperventilating. The upper eyes - the eyes that Spinel watched the world through - darted all over the place. The bottom eyes - the eyes of Steven - would have stared up at the forehead, if that was possible. But right now they looked down at their gloved hands, that dug the tips of the fingers into the soil. Right. They were down on all fours, bending their back out and hissing, like a startled cat. 

"Spinel…" The "Pink" part of the Pink Calcite spoke, "It's okay. See? You're all safe. Not hurt." 

Then the mouth shut again. Spinel bit her lip, and Calcite repeated the motion. Steven felt that. 

Then the "Calcite" part of Pink Calcite spoke, "I… am? Safe?”

Pink Calcite sat down, holding onto their body with their twirly hands. Then they stood up and approached the fountain. The water was renewed a while ago, now clean and serving as a reflecting surface when needed. Pink Calcite looked down at themselves. Their form was a little mixed. The purple from the top and bottom parts of their body mixed together and leaked into each other, and their hair was ragged. 

Calcite held onto the edges of the fountain, and to Pink’s surprise, leaned over and dove their head into the cold water. A minute of mild struggles later, as they only had half - quarter? - the ability to have no need to breath, they raised their head back up, breathing in. Calcite ran their hands down the wet hair, making it all smooth and letting it down… And then they shook their head, to the point all the hair floofed up over their head, in a somewhat shape of a heart. Just like most parts of their body. Their eyes continued to spin - each in its own direction - after they stopped shaking their head. Eventually their hair took its righteous shape - shape and smell of a bunch of sweet twirly zephyrs, with two prolonged ones that resembled bunny’s ears, and fell back behind their head with a twirl at the end. 

Sugar sweet, Pink Calcite was sugar coated from the tips of the hair to the twin toes. Just like the relationship they represented. Two sweetest candies in brightly coloured wrappers, each hiding sour and salty insides under the coat of vanilla with chocolate topping and a strawberry pudding. (Except that the vanilla chocolate topping wasn't topping at all.)

Mirroring Spinel's movements from inside, Calcite finally stopped hyperventilating, now looking around the place with a more calmer stance. 

"I'm here." Said Calcite. 

 

"I'm here." Said Spinel, looking around their fusionscape. Steven still sat back in a bean chair, he had summoned himself a fidget spinner while he waited for her to hop around. 

She was here. She wasn't being hurt. There were no vines. There was no restriction. No pain. No hair yanking. No pain. No words that cut through her like the spears of the fence. No pain… 

Spinel walked towards Steven, staring at him like she had never seen him before. Steven sat still, spinning the toy in his hands. He was smiling at her softly. 

"I love you." 

This was so weird. All she ever knew in fusion was pain and insecurity and fear. And now… none of it was there. 

Just the two of them. Just the Aether. 

Just Steven.

Just her… 

...Because she was in control. Of course. Just like Steven said, she'd be in control. She was now. That's why she wasn't getting hurt. 

That must have been the only reason. 

Spinel's eyes spiraled as she smiled wide. Grass showed up all around, and tiny flowers started to bloom up on the floor of their fusionscape. 

"I love you too."

Then Spinel turned towards the alleged front of Aether again… 

 

"I'm safe!" Calcite screamed happily, getting onto their fours and hopping around the place again, but now cheerfully and content. The ran around, looking at all the beautiful flowers that started to come to life in the Garden again. It was restoring. Healing up. Just like Spinel was. With setbacks and some flowers pushed back down to dirt, but nothing was ever perfect all the way through.

 

The warp pad activated, and the sound startled the fusion. They jumped into the nearby bushes, peeking out to see who had just entered their nest of love. 

Amethyst stepped off the warp pad and walked down the stairs, calling out for Steven. 

"Oh!" Said Pink - the Steven side of Calcite. "That's just Amethyst. Let's go surprise her. Remember, we barely know her." 

"I've got this. Stay back." Calcite commanded, hiding further into the bushes. Like a predator waiting for an oblivious pray to come closer, they watched Amethyst walk further into the Garden, down the open path, starting to think that she was mistaken, and Steven wasn't here, and she was all alone. She hugged herself, looking down… 

"Surprise!!!" 

Amethyst fell back down before the fusion that had just leaped out in front of her. 

"It's so exciting to meet you again!" 

"Oh uhm hey… Hi. I was actually… looking for Steven." 

"Aww? Well, look no further-" Calcite stood up proudly, framing the round pink gem with their hands. "He is rooo-ight here! Please leave a message after a signal, for he is away. Beep! Thank you. Currently it is I - Pink Calcite, at your service."

The fusion bowed down, pointing at themselves proudly. 

Amethyst didn’t stop frowning through their speech. “Yeah, uh. Sorry, I’m not in a mood for this. I’m actually really sad and I was looking to talk to Steven about it.” 

 

Steven got up from the bean bag chair, and took a few steps towards Spinel. 

“We need to comfort her-”

“I’ve got this!” Spinel raised a hand at him, standing where she was. The grass around the two made a height jump when she did that sudden motion, but it was too small to notice. 

 

“Aww. That’s too sad. Well, Steven is nooot here, sooo - don’t mind if I try to cheer you up instead, will ya?” Calcite smiled wide, but their lower set of eyes portrayed worry, and looked somewhat sorry all of a sudden. 

Amethyst made it very clear with the look on her face, that she somewhat expected the two to unfuse when she said that. Then again, could she have any control over what other couples did? 

“I guess you can try… Well, thanks for wanting to help anyways. It’s about Jasper.” 

The happy fusion’s smile and posture suddenly went down. 

“There's lotta sad things to be said 'bout this one, but let's just throw the whole suitcase away." 

"Not helping, dude. I thought she was like… reforming and becoming a… better sister." 

"Well golly gee, don't you just need an oculist if you can look at a carnivorous shark and think you're seeing a cootie patootie little kitten of a sister?"

"Sharks don't eat people, dude. I mean… don't you know what it meant for me?" Amethyst stood up and put her hands behind her back as she circled Calcite around, "I spent so long teaching her how to be a good gem, and then she just… walked out of the door, messed up big time, and now she's gone to hell knows where!" 

Calcite yawned, "Yeah, good riddance." 

Their lower eyes frowned. 

 

Steven frowned, looking at Spinel. 

"You can't just be rude about it. She needs support right now."

 

Behind Amethyst, Calcite suddenly turned around at an empty spot, speaking in a frustrated and salty tone. 

"Jeepers, let me just take a second to feel bad to her losing an abuser, I guess!" 

" "Her"? P-C, I'm right here with ya." 

The fusion looked at Amethyst, confused for a second. 

"Oh, uh, yah. Sorry for your loss, I s'ppose." They tapped their fingers together nervously. "Look taffy, I'll be honest. I may not know who dat Jasper is, but… my memories of her from my Spinel side… are far from award winning. Forgive me if I don't have a heart to feel bad for the loss here." 

Amethyst sighed, heading back to the warp pad. Calcite followed. 

"I guess I can't blame you… that's why I asked if Steven could come out for a second. I just feel really… stressed because of it. Wish I could talk this out with someone who doesn't judges, and gets it."

She looked up at the fusion with a renewed hope. that they’d get the hint 

"That's rough, buddy. Wouldn't wanna be ya. Well, 'm sure you'll find someone to hear ya vent it out." 

The two gems stepped on the warping platform with nothing else said between them, as they left the Garden. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

To say that Steven was upset at that exchange would be an understatement. Sure, he settled down about going back and talking to Amethyst properly when they saw Garnet and Pearl comfort her instead, but the thought didn't leave him. 

"Spinel, don't you think we could have handled that better?" 

"What did I have to say? That I was sorry to hear that she had hopes in… in…" Spinel hugged herself, "In an awful, awful person?" 

"Account for how people can feel, remember? She didn't hurt Amethyst. She only hurt you. And I'm sorry she-"

"Yeah, we wouldn't fucking be here if she didn't. You know, I think for a change - Amethyst can be the one to account for my feelings about h-her."

"...You're right, sorry. I can't expect you to talk about it lightly. So… maybe we could, just for a couple of minutes, unsufe so I can-"

"No!!" A whole bush sprouted up as Spinel rapidly turned at Steven and said that. "No! I'm in charge. We're staying Pink Calcite."

Steven stepped back, raising his hands and waving the open palms, "Okay, okay. You're the boss. I'll just… sit back there then. Don't forget to make us eat." 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven realized that he had fallen asleep when he woke up. Right, they were being Pink Calcite. Spinel was in charge, overcoming her trauma. And… 

And Steven felt pain. Distinct pain of emptiness in his stomach, and a drain of power. 

"Spinel?" He got up from the grassy floor he slept on, looking around. 

The Aether was blooming with flowers and bushes, floor completely covered with grass, and even a small tree sprouting somewhere. How fascinating. Clearly the flora must mean something very good about Spinel. Maybe she was growing at peace of mind? 

She certainly was not growing more knowledgeable of the ways of humans - or at least half humans. She forgot to feed Pink Calcite. Steven got up, calling out for Spinel like he was lost in the woods. 

"Stop screaming, I'm right here." 

Spinel was sitting right next to him, facing the front. 

“Oh, hey. Good morning.” 

“Mornin’ sleepy head.”

“How long has it been?” 

“Since when?”

“Since I fell asleep.” 

“I dunno. I was just watchin’ the sea.” 

Steven looked to the front. 

 

Pink Calcite sat on the balcony of Steven's room, mimicking Spinel’s position inside. They were watching the waves come and go by the shore line. Flowing in… staying there… and flowing back into the endless ocean. Like a rhythm of a calm breathing. Ocean brought pleasant memories to Spinel… 

 

"Oh. Nice." Steven sat down next to her. "So, uhm… how are you feeling?" 

Spinel hesitated to answer. 

Scared. Terrified. Have to be in charge or I'll be hurt again. "I'm fine." 

"That's good to hear… I, I love you." 

Spinel smiled softly. Taking her gaze from the ocean to look at Steven. 

"I love you too, kitten." 

Steven blushed at the nickname, "Oh, you… So, uhm, Spinel, do you remember what I asked of you?" 

"What?" 

"I asked you to feed us." 

"Oh. Yeah. Sure. I don't want to." 

"It's not a "want". It's a "need". A human need. We need to eat or… things could go wrong for Pink Calcite in a long run." 

Spinel deposited her head on her hand, keeping the elbow on her crossed knee. "Okay, fine, we can have a donut." 

"We need… proper food actually. Something salty. You can't survive without a proper human diet." 

"Bleh. I can survive without food at all." 

"Well, I can't! And this fusion is about quarter a human. We need to tend to human needs. I need… to visit a bathroom too…"

"Eh? I mean, sure. We can go there. What do you need there?" 

Steven raised his hand to his face slowly.

"No, I… I have human needs. You know that. I just need a few minutes of care and…" 

"Well I mean, yeah, I've always been curious why you gotta go there." 

Steven took a deep breath in, deeming that as much as he trusted Spinel, some things were just not meant to be shared between them. He turned to face her, now with more confidence. 

"Spinel, we need to split - just for a few minutes, I need to-"

"No!" 

Steven felt something press against his arm on the ground. A flower sprouted out of nowhere right below it. How weird. 

"Just a few minutes. You need to let go. It's okay, I'm not going anywhere. You'll be safe. And I-"

"No! No, no… no!" Spinel stood up, holding onto her head all of a sudden. "It's not true! It's never true! Never safe, never!" 

It was at this point that Steven started to have second thoughts about it. He stood up too, coming closer to Spinel with his arms open. Just wanting to hug her. 

"Spinel. I'm sorry, but I promise to you - you are safe, and we're- Gah!" 

Something snapped around his wrists as he reached his hands for Spinel. Two vines that seemed to come from the ground itself. They yanked him back down, keeping his hands pinned, and he could only look up at Spinel from where he was now. 

...On the list of things I should not be finding inconveniently hot - this, definitely. 

Above him, the pink gem was hyperventilating, tugging her hair down. Her face shifted between portraying regret, fear, and insecurity. And then masking it with anger.

"No, not safe… never safe… but I can be safe! It's, it's… I get it now!" Suddenly she laughed loudly, "I get it now! It's abuse or be abused! It's that simple! Ahahahahaha!"

 

"Ahahahaha!" Calcite laughed, bending over and holding onto their gems. "Oh isn't this hilarious? Isn't this utterly… wretched!" 

They hopped up, turning away from the view of the ocean. 

"Why don't we go for a walk?" 

In a few quick hops, they jumped around Steven's room, knocking some valuables over, as they made their way down the stairs. 

Then they froze up as they reached the floor.  

The Pink of Pink Calcite spoke again, Steven's eyes taking over. 

"That's not true! You don't have to abuse or be abused! You just met the wrong people who did awful things! But you can be vulnerable and safe!"

"No!" Replied Calcite. 

"Yes you can!" Parried Pink, "I'm sorry. This was a mistake. You weren't ready for a fusion. We need to unfuse."

 

More vines snapped around Steven's arms, keeping him down. Steven made a strange sound as they tugged on his hands hard. 

"...Oh, fuck me." He uttered quietly, cursing about the weakness he had about this predicament. 

Otherwise he would have given it more fight. But in his personal case - giving it more fight would have only ended up making him want to fight less. 

It didn't help that Spinel loomed over him, looking a little deranged, but very determined in her fury. Her eyes were very spiraled. 

"We are not unfusing until I say so… and I say never! "

 

"Spinel?"  

Pink Calcite jerked up, looking over at the source of the sound - the couch where the three Crystal Gems watched the scenery of their family drama unfold just now. 

Calcite stammered, unclenching their fists and waving a hand at them in a friendly manner. 

"Oi, uhm, hoi! Didn't see ya there, haha…" 

Was there a meaning to keep pretending? Garnet probably put two and two together, and already knew what they were. But maybe she didn't tell anyone, like Spinel asked of her? 

Garnet sure was very sorry for what she deemed was right to do now. She had to intervene. She stood up, making the other two follow her. 

"Steven, Spinel. We know you're in there. It's okay, everything is okay. But you two need to unfuse. He is right. this is not helping, this is making things worse." 

"Goodie, is that what your future vision is telling you, Seris?" Calcite put their hands on those sides, tilting their head with a sly and salty smile, "Why don't'cha look for a future where we end up making out in five minutes? Or better yet," They bent forward as she came closer, staring at their reflection in her ominous visor, "Why don't you tell me about a future in which we stay exactly like this, forever?" 

Garnet clenched her hands. 

“You need to let go of this. Spinel, we promise you’ll be safe. We know you’re hurt, and it’s pushing you to be this way. But it doesn’t have to be this way!” 

“What do you know!” Calcite took a leap back. “You haven’t been through any of what I’ve been! None of you have! You all sing happy songs about trusting and loving… Why don’t any of you try walking in my shoes for once!” 

Steven raised his head. Now that Spinel’s focus changed, he could at least sit up. 

Is that why she wants me fused with her? For me to understand her pain? 

“Oh, sorr-ay, do my shoes don’t fit you? Are they too much… of a sad clown shoes? Is that what you all think of me?!” Calcite shook in place, as their hair started to drip down, renewing where the drops fell from, “Sad Boo Boo the Fool gone wrong! A psychotic Betty Boop on a revenge rampage, no less!”  

Garnet raised her hand up at the gems behind her, as she foresaw them reach for their weapons in a minute. 

“No, none of us think that of you, or hate you. We care about you, Spinel.” 

“Liar!” Calcite crouched down, gaining momentum for their jump over the heads of the gems, as they landed on the other side, closer to the warp pad. “I know what you are! I know what do you want! I… I won’t let you fool me again!” 

Their tone changed momentarily. 

“Spinel!” Said Pink, snapping their hands down. “We don’t have to fight them! They're friends. Please, just breathe. We can calm down… we can trust them… maybe unfuse and have a little snack together while we talk about your feelings?..” 

The tone of the fusion changed again, upper eyes spiraling and taking up more of the face space. 

“I am… so fucking tired… of being forced to talk about my feelings! I just... I just…” Calcite threw their hands up and to the sides “I just want to go!”

A phrase so innocent, but mixed up with Spinel’s backstory of selfharm, settled the fate of this talk. 

The two Crystal Gems behind Garnet summoned their weapons. 

“No, wait, don’t!” 

“Oh ho ho, you wanna play? ” 

 

Spinel turned back at the boy who had just managed to stand up with the vines on his hands. She knocked him back down, looking just a little sorry behind this mask of anger. Anger that rooted in fear. 

“I’m sorry. I have to do this. To keep us safe.” She whispered, closing her eyes… 

 

Calcite snapper their upper eyes open, taking full control, and summoning up a shield and a rejuvenator. To summon their shield, Spinel made the vines on Steven’s hand shake it until it’d show up for his self defence. 

Confused by their own actions, but acting on the fight instinct, Calcite activated the rejuvenator, and put the shield over the top part. The two weapons shined up, fusing together, changing in shape… And when it stopped shining, the Crystal Gems saw a pink battle ace in the hands of Calcite. The handle still looked like the one of the rejuvenator, but the upper part resembled Steven’s shield, split in two and sharpened on the edges. 

“Jinkies, I wonder what that does.” Uttered the scared fusion, “Welp! Only one way to find out!” 

They leaped out, holding the weapon over their head and swinging it at Garnet. 

Garnet saw that she would not jump out of their way in time - but Ruby and Sapphire would, and they did, unfusing before the axe touched either of them and jumping in two opposite directions. 

Pearl and Amethyst pointed their weapon at Pink Calcite, as they landed down. 

“Owo, what’s this?? You wanna get a taste too! Get in line! Why don’t we start small? ” 

Steven only watched helplessly, uttering “Couldn’t we please just stop and get a waffle? Can we please get a waffle?” as Calcite’s bunny ears of a hair raised up in anger and they leaped again, swinging the axe at Ruby. The red little gem covered her face for the lack of better reaction - but the hit never landed at her. Instead - she herself landed a few feet away, as Sapphire pushed her out of their attack’s trajectory. 

The axe passed through Sapphire. 

Calcite landed down, glancing back at Sapphire, as confused about what would happen to her now as anyone in the room was. 

Sapphire’s form shook a little… but it didn’t poof. The shining mark of where the weapon passed her through disappeared in a soft light. 

“Sapphire?!” Ruby ran up to her, hugging her quickly. Then she inspected her face. “Are you okay? What’d it do to you?” 

“Me?” Sapphire pushed the hair away from her eye. “I feel good. I don’t know why would you worry about it. Pink Calcite would never harm any of us.” 

“Is… is that what you’re seeing in the future?” 

Sapphire put her hands together, and spoke with a soft smile. 

“I don’t need to see the future to know what a kind and generous experience Pink Calcite is.” She turned around, facing the utterly lost fusion. “I feel fine. And I am… so glad to be seeing you. You’re wonderful.” 

Calcite blinked twice. 

“Say what now?” 

They looked down at their weapon, before finally getting the idea of what was going on. The other gems in the room exchanged concerned looks about Sapphire, then they raised their weapons up at Pink Calcite. 

The fusion in the room stood tall, looking down at their newly formed weapon, as they named it. 

“Axe of hearts.” They held their weapon up, ready to strike others. "Axe of hearts, the weapon of infatuation. Of fake admiration. Of ass-kissing ministrations."

Calcite glanced over, where Ruby still held onto her wife, crying a little. 

"Sapphire? What are you saying? Are you… okay?"

Sapphire held Ruby's hand, "Of course I am okay. I love you. I am just… so proud of the fusion of Steven and Spinel's beautiful love."

The fusion with dripping hair, mixed colours, and racing guilty eyes stared back, their hands were still shaking. 

"Whoa. This weapon blinds." They concluded. 

"I am not blinded. Not at all. I feel like I am finally seeing." Sapphire stepped towards them, not letting go of Ruby's hand. "I finally see what a wonderful match you too are. Your love… it has done so much healing." 

Calcite leaned back, puffing their cheeks and staring out in shock. They took a step back as Sapphire advanced. 

"Steven, you have done so much to help Spinel. You will never give up on her. And, Spinel. You have made so much progress." 

"S-stop! You're… brainwashed! Lying! You're not being honest, I don't- don't deserve your kindness…" 

"You deserve much more kindness than you're getting. Spinel, I'm sorry we don't have the best of friendship. But we'd like to fix that. We will give you all the space you need - but we want to strengthen this friendship." 

Calcite stepped back, till they walked over the wap pad. 

"I, I…" they were breathing heavily. "I need space right now! I have to go!" 

The warp pad activated beneath them, and in a blink of an eye, they were gone. 

"I hope they have fun out there." Sapphire simply smiled. 

The other gems were frozen in their worries.

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Away. Pink Calcite wanted to go away. Spinel wanted to go away. To disappear. To never face them. To stop… stop wanting to give in and trust the moment she was shown kindness. Comforted…

Security is a lie!! Calcite didn't know where they were teleporting to. The only destination they thought of was "Away, far away. Where they won't be found"... 

 

They finally landed against the other warp pad… and slid down. As the warp pad was stuck vertically, against the cliff. 

Calcite plummeted down, looking at the rocky bottom filled with sharp upwards spikes that they were falling down to. 

Spinel accepted it momentarily… and then remembered that she was fused with Steven. 

Calcite stretched their hand towards the nearest tall rock, swinging away from the deadly pit and landing on a rough but safe surface. 

They looked around, scanning the surroundings. It was some sort of a dark and rocky place. Kind of reminded Spinel of… things she'd rather repress in her memory. The warp pad stayed behind, high above, verging over the deadly pit. Clearly whoever lived there was not welcoming guests. But for now, not a soul was in sight all around… 

So they were safe. 

Pink Calcite stood up, dusting off. 

"We need to go back." Said Pink.

"What we need is to stay away from them." Said Calcite. 

"No!" 

Calcite jumped up, startled by Pink's firmness of that word. 

"You attacked my friend! I… get that you're hurt and scared, but… we're not dealing with it the right way. We need to unfuse and go home. I will help you better. You just… need some security…" 

"I am very secure in charge, thank you very much." 

"No, no you're not. You're just… scared. Irrationally. Spinel… do you really think I would ever try to hurt you?"

Calcite didn't reply to themselves. 

"Please… let's unfuse. I'm so hungry too. Let's just go home, get a snack, and… we can go to our room and just stay there, safe, we can talk about this…" 

"You…" 

 

Steven didn't like what has started to happen inside of the Aether. It got darker as more vines formed and reached to hold onto him - keeping him down. 

Man I really should not be as okay with her doing this to me as I am. 

 

" You… " Calcite fell down, drawing their claws into the rocky dirt, as their form started to shine up around their abdomen. And then from inside, Steven showed no changes, but felt sudden pain in… 

His gem. 

As the space around it shined up - it turned over, sharp side out, as it was pushed deeper inside. Now just a small cone sticking out from below a wide spinel gem above it. 

Calcite stopped shining, giving a wicked chuckle. Spinel has spiraled far down the rabbit hole of her damaged sanity. And she had no idea just how little Steven blamed it on her. To her luxury and luck she had no idea of it. Spinel had no idea of anything anymore. She only operated on a single desire in her head… 

 

"You're not going anywhere…"  

 

Chapter Text

"I see a lot of upsides to this." Spinel pet the head of the boy who was somewhat willingly curled up on her lap. "You know, I thought it would be worse…" 

"What would be worse exactly?" Steven sighed, "The kidnapping part or the starving part?" 

"Oh ho ho, you're so silly. But that's one of the reasons I love you so much… No, you lil goofy. I'm talking about finally getting you all to myself! I spent so long… hating others for taking you from me. I spent so long afraid to tell you. But I never imagined that to give up on being a good person and just go apeshit would be so… liberating! Teehee, hopelessness of redemption can be so much fun!" 

"Aren't you tired of going apeshit? Don't you just wanna be nice?" Steven reached his hands around her torso, looking up pleadingly. And hungrily. 

"Hmm? No. I don't think I do." She held him back. "Oh you have no idea for how long I waited… dreamt of this…"

"I do have an idea, Spinel." 

"For how long I just… wanted you to be all mine and nobody else's."

"I know, Spinel. I heard you do a musical number about it several times before." 

"And here you are! And all it took was… to give up. Give up on being everything good that you believed I could be." 

"Well, I haven't given up on you. I know you don't mean to be like this."

"I mean to, though." Spinel laughed more, "Tee hee hee! I finally get the feeling! Steven, I see it now. I see why you feel this way about me. I'm also ready to forgive everything in the world to you, because I am the one who gets to keep you mine! "

"I mean, you're not far from how I feel about you. Spare for the… giving up on being nice part. I think you can be nice."

"Keep dreaming."

Spinel stood up, patting the boy on the head as she left him down with the vines to keep him in place. 

 

Calcite, the fusion of the two that by now had became a full time tool of kidnapping, walked forward from where they were, exploring the unfamiliar planet. They put their hands behind their back, musing aloud. 

"We could find a place to live at. A new place. A place where we'll exist together and no one will hurt us anymore…" 

( "Spinel… you do realize that I won't survive without food, right?" )

"Pfff, bwahaha! Do you really think I would let you come to harm, my honey bee?" Calcite twirled around on the back of their heel. 

"Of course I'll take good care of you! I'll keep you safe. I promise I will. That's what I'll spend the rest of my life doing. And no one will stop us…" 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"We have to go after them and stop them!" Pearl paced over the warp pad, clutching her weapon. "Where could they have went to? The Garden… no, that's too obvious. Homeworld?... Goodness, they could be anywhere right now!" 

"Yeah, P. If only we had some sort of a foreteller to tell us where we will find them. Oooh, wait, right! " Amethyst pointed at Sapphire, who sat by the table calmly, with a cup of warm tea in her hands, and a worried Ruby by her side. 

"It would be rude to find them right now. They said they needed space. So let us respect their boundaries." 

"Sapphire, she kidnapped Steven!" Reasoned Ruby. 

"Who hasn't?" 

"She's dangerous for him." 

"Spinel won't hurt Steven. She needs him. Besides…" Sapphire reached the cup of tea for Ruby to try too. "She loves him. It's so beautiful and gentle… just like we love each other. Why don't we form Garnet again, Ruby?"

"No!" Pearl protested. "That effect… whatever they did to Sapphire could spread through fusion." 

"I do not feel like changes were done to me, but fair enough." Sapphire sipped more tea, as the warmth of it was renewed by Ruby's touch, "I'm sure wherever Pink Calcite is now - they are experiencing themselves happily. I even see them making friends soon…"

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Calcite jumped from a rock to a cliff, looking around. The Spinel part couldn't help but feel like this place was strangely familiar. Calcite jumped higher and higher, leveling up with the cliff the crooked warp pad was on, as they found a good place for a lookout.

(“ So close yet so far from going home.” )

"We are home, goofball pants." Calcite looked out at the starry sky, till they spotted what they looked for. 

"See that little white dot?" 

( "Spinel… this is space. Everything in the sky is a little white dot.

"But this distinct one? That's our Garden!" 

( "Really?! Wait… then, where are we? Are we somewhere that's visible from it?"

"We sure are, honey cheeks! I know this place!" Calcite bounced up and down happily, "This is the Hollow Heart Moon!"

( "Wow! That name tells me nothing." )

"The hollow moon that has a hole in a shape of a heart in it! Do you remember now? Yeah! That's where we are! I didn't even know there was still a warp pad here." 

Calcite skipped around, swaying their hands in tact with their hops. 

"Seems like a good place to stay at. And even if anyone comes here they'll probably crash to their deaths before they find us. Teehee, hehe, haha, hoho- Isn't that just swell?" 

Not looking where they were going, Calcite stopped abruptly, sensing that something felt… off. They looked around, not seeing a problem. 

Then they looked down. 

Oh. Right. They stepped off the solid ground a minute ago, now hanging above a deep ravine, waiting for the laws of physics to kick in, which were postponed by the more powerful - laws of comedy.

They looked up at the camera again, blinking twice. 

"Uh oh." 

And then they plummeted down, barely turning over to hit the bottom of this rocky ravine with their back, rather than the gems. 

And with a loud thud, here they were - at a rock bottom. 

They raised up, rubbing their head, and looking at the sight that presented itself before them. Fields and fields with dead and empty soil that stretched towards the gloomy horizon… 

And tents on it. Tents? Why would there be tents here? Were there other people? 

"Uh ho… whoopsie daisy, time to go! Wham, bam, thank you madam." 

( "No, wait! Maybe they have food…"

Calcite turned around, running back towards the cliff with the warp pad, when they saw a giant shadow pass over them. Like a giant carnivorous bird that spotted a prey to intimidate, something else flew over their head. Calcite stopped and fell back, looking up to the sky as they saw the caster of said shadow circle them, and then the beast got lower and lower… and the shadow got smaller and smaller… 

And then a little Aquamarine with a gem in a shape of a tear under her left eye landed next to them. 

Calcite crawled back away from the gem that was barely as tall as their alleged knees, till they bumped into a rock that wasn't in their path earlier. Except the rock was breathing down on them. They looked up, noticing a familiar Jasper looking back down at them. Calcite screamed as they leaped in another direction - and were momentarily grabbed by hand by yet another gem that came out of nowhere. 

"Well well, what have we here- hey! Wait!" 

Before the Ruby with a gem for an eye could finish her dramatic entrance, Calcite grabbed her up and flung over their shoulder, at Jasper. 

Jasper leaned to the side, letting the angry little gem fly by and crash down behind her. 

( "Yeet! … Oh, also, yeah. We're fucked."

"Who are ya, and how did ya get there?" Jasper asked, stepping closer. 

Somewhere inside of their mind, Steven felt the vines suddenly tug him a little tighter. 

“Don’t hurt… p-please don’t, I…” 

Spinel stammered, paralyzed by her fear… but then she remembered she was fused with Steven. And she had to keep him safe. Calcite sat up, a little more confident. 

“Don’t hurt us. We ran away to fuse and stay together.” They lied.

“We’ll see if we have reasons to hurt you.” Aquamarine flew up, circling around them. “You look like a rather… strange fusion. Well, that’s none of our business what did you two or more get together for. Just pray tell, what do you do here?” 

Jasper interrupted her. “You know what she’s doing here. The warp pad is set to the “run away” destination. I’m only surprised she didn’t die when she got here.” 

( “We’re they/them…” )

“You have a point. Clearly she ran from something…” Aquamarine uttered in her Earthly British accent. 

“Or some authorities.” Eyeball ruby caught up, rubbing the side of the face she landed on when Pink Calcite yeeted her. “Tell us… Did you… run from the Diamonds?” 

( “More like we run with the diamond…” )

“...Thaaat’s none of your business, mate.” Calcite replied, standing up. “We… got on the wrong planet. We’ll leave now.” 

A soft voice interrupted the scenery. 

“No… please, don’t go yet.” 

A gem with a step of a light ballerina stepped in. But she looked nothing like one. The soft melodic voice came from a gem dressed in a short black coat with gold shoulder pads, and dark pants that stuck halfway out of two heavy looking boots for a gem her size and shape. Yet the little pink pearl seemed confident in her attire and the new mental role she had given herself. 

She had a black triangular eyepatch over her missing eye. The coat was unlocked where her gem was.

She held her hands open, in a welcoming manner, "We're glad to have anyone join us. We all had our reasons to hop on a warp pad and just wish to run far away…" She put her hands together as she came closer, maintaining a condescending posture that her soft tone was mismatching with, "We are the War Gems. And we mean no harm to those who seek shelter and help. You must have had a very sad reason to run away. But you're safe here, now." 

( "As much as I'm kinda terrified of Pip by now… I hope their shelter system offers food." )

"Tell us, fusion. Are you associated with the Crystal Gems?"

( "Do you think we can ask them for a snack before we run for our lives?" )

"No!" Calcite replied to Pink, before they realized that Pink Pearl also asked something. "Oh… I mean… the Crystal Gems… are our enemies! Wahaha, they… we're totally against them, hee hee, hoo hoo…" 

( "...You know, Spinel? I liked it better when I suspected you of having a feeding kink towards me." )

"Oh that is… very sad." Pink Pearl said with a smile, "Worry not. They'll never find you here. You can stay with us. We'd love to have you. But that is absolutely alright if you'd like to have your own space. Just tell us, what would you like?"

( "A bagel." )

"I… no, we…" 

( "Or two bagels." )

"We're… we just want to go and have our own space."

Pink Pearl frowned, holding her small hands together and up to her mouth. 

"Hmm. That saddens us, but alright. I hope you will understand why we must do this." 

She was unusually calm as she closed the distance between them and summoned up a weapon. A sharp tool for gem extraction. A chisel. The other War Gems circled the fusion. 

"We can't have random gems know where we hide." 

Calcite stood up, aiming to run, but was immediately held down in place. Jasper got hold of their right arm, while Aquamarine and the Eyeball ruby held onto the left one. 

"Wait, no, we won't tell anyone, we promise! Let go! Let me go!!" Calcite panicked, trying to struggle out of Jasper's grip. It was bringing up very traumatizing memories, and worsening the state inside of their fusionscape even further. 

"I'm sorry. I have to do this. You are either with us, or prevented from being our threat. So… maybe you'll reconsider?" Pink Pearl held the weapon up, threatening, "What sort of gems are you anyways… sorry, I can not tell?" 

The three gems that held them tight took a good glance at their gems. 

"I've never seen a gem so wide and big with so many cuts. That upper one… it has strange pink hues as well." 

Spinel felt self conscious at her words, blushing on Calcite's cheeks. 

"And that lower one is so small… is that even a gem? It looks more like a shard. What is that, a Topaz?.." Aquamarine inquired. 

Pink Pearl pondered, "Hmm… I've seen the gem of that shape before. But… it can't be…" 

She looked at Calcite's upper eyes, spotting the familiar spirals inside of them. 

"Ooooh!" Aquamarine let go of their hand for a second. "Wait! I know that gem! I recognize that cut alright! That lower gem is…"

"Pink Diamond." Pink Pear finished her sentence. "...Long time no see." 

"Wait, then does mean that the upper one is…" Jasper grabbed onto Calcite's hair, attempting to turn their head to face her. But the hair melted into a syrup like liquid around her fingers, leaving nothing to grab onto. "Spinel?" 

Pink Calcite hyperventilated. 

"What a grand luck, everybody." Pink Pearl perked her head up, "The culprit of our little club is here. Hello, our Diamond. We heard you like talking things out. Well, we have some constructive criticism about the new way of the Gem Empire."

 

Now that Spinel was having a full blown panic attack, Steven could stand up. The vines still dug into his body, but he could move. He stepped forward, holding onto the scared little fuchsia gem. 

"I'll take it from here." 

"No, no, Steven, no, no…" 

 

"Well. I'd love to hear it." Said Pink. 

"It sucks." 

"That's… not a constructive criticism." 

"I know. You can count the fucks I give." Pink Pearl raised her hand up, showing that it was empty. "You took away everything from us. Our positions, statuses. Our power. Our meanings." 

"I freed you a way to not be stuck in a single role and mindset your whole life." 

"Did you ask if any of us wanted it?!" 

 

Steven didn't reply. In his arms, Spinel glanced up, now registering that a weapon was held way too close to his gem. 

 

"Let us go!" Calcite screamed. "Let us go and no one will get hurt! We're just trying to be a fusion out here!" 

Pink Pearl laughed. "For everything that you took away from me-"

"Us." Jasper stuck in. 

"-you are not going anywhere!"

"You can't just keep us here against… our…" 

 

Tsk.

" Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh, shit." Said Spinel. 

Steven looked unamused as Spinel faced the irony of their position. But he kept holding her to keep her panic from worsening. Be it that she made a lot of mistakes, he loved her dearly. 

"I'm so sorry." Spinel whispered, looking up at Steven weakly. 

“It’s okay. I love you.” 

“I… why…"   

 

"The only place you're going to-" Pink Pearl reminded them that she existed, "-is bubbled away, forever! "

She dug her weapon into Pink Calcite's chest, right between their gems. 

 

The two gasped, air leaving their lungs momentarily. Spinel recovered from the pain first. The plants around her started to wilt as she looked at Steven. The boy held onto his stomach, making pained noises. 

Spinel was a gem. She knew she'd be just fine. But Steven wouldn’t… 

She made the vines let go of him, grabbing onto his face and making him face her. 

"Steven?! Steven are you… I… I'm so sorry!!" She bit into her hand, diving her teeth deep into it, right in front of the boy who was a little too far in his own pain to register it properly. 

"S… Spinel…" 

"I'm so sorry, I said I would protect you, I… I… what have I done, I should have never… I don't know what I was… no, no, please just breathe!" 

Steven was breathing alright, heavily and pained. He slid down in her hands. Spinel sat down next to him, still holding the boy's head in her hands. 

"I'll fix this! I promise! I'm so sorry! Sorry! I'll- I'll get you home, safe and sound! I promise!" Her whole form shook, "I'm sorry for this too…" 

She placed a hand over Steven's forehead. And then the boy fell asleep, cradled by the only flora that was still blooming around him inside of their fusionscape…

 

Pink Calcite's bottom eyes closed down. But the top ones shot open. 

"You stabbed the wrong mothefucker." Their tone was grim, as the shadows formed on their face. " A spectacle it is then. "

They leaped their feet up, bucking the gems that held them away, and knocking Pink Pearl back. 

Pink Calcite stood up, shaking, with the sharp chisel sticking out of their torso. But they knew better than to pull a knife out of the wound. 

"Well well well… let me get a good look at the company. Or better yet… let me get a better angle."

They leaped up at the nearby low cliff to gain some high ground, looking down at the four gems that started to get up. They hung their head down, as the scenery got darker all of a sudden...

Jasper looked around in confusion. "Why do I hear spontaneous power ballad music?" 

"Oh I heard about you alright, you Pest Gems. Scheming against the peace across the galaxy. You really couldn't hold yourself from dumping all your problems on the only boy who's aaaaalways guilty for the things his mom had done, that had nothing to do with him! And yet, how bold of you to assume that you are the worst thing to have ever happened to him. You just haven’t met me. " Calcite chuckled. 

"What's a mom?" Asked Eyeball. 

Looking unamused at the interruption, Calcite stretched their leg to punch the ruby in the face, sending her flying a foot back.

"Well then…” They retracted the leg back, “Since none of you fiends asked, let me take artistic liberties of introducing myself properly. I am Pink Calcite. This is your host, Spinel speaking. You stabbed my boyfriend. Now you’re going to pay." Calcite raised their head up from the shadows, pulling a sharp toothy grin. " Let's play a game. "

They leaped off the cliff, down towards the War Gems. 

That's right I heard your story over and over again 

Jee it's swell to finally meet his other fiends 

They sprung around like a slinky, while the War Gems summoned their weapons and tried to land a hit on them. All but Pink Pearl. She simply watched. 

That's right I heard your inputs, can't say I'm fond of your plans 

Aquamarine retrieved her wand, but Calcite leaped at her, taking her for a flight above the ground, grabbing her under their arm and snatching her wand. They broke it in half, then gave her a noogie and dunked her back down, all before they landed.

Jee it's swell to finally beat his other fiends 

Half a second later, they rushed at Jasper, spinning around her like a tornado, as the orange gem felt dizzy while she tried to hit them. 

What do you have against him, what do you have? 

They slid on the ground, grabbing Eyeball and Aquamarine as they started to juggle the two. 

How did you plan to crush him, what did you plan? 

The threw Aquamarine to the side, jumping out of the way of the orange bull of a gem that ran at them. When Jasper slowed her speed, they threw Eyeball at her, knocking both down.  

Did you have plans to kill him, did you have plans? 

They slithered on the ground, making zig zags until they reached Pink Pearl. From there they jumped up, spreading all their limbs out in an intimidating manner. 

Did you honestly think that we wouldn't fight back all of you?

Pink Pearl didn't blink her eye at that. 

Next thing that happened was Calcite sending their four limbs to stretch out and grab onto the four gems. They spun up, bringing all four together and bumping them hard against each other. Now they had them all right where they wanted them. 

Oh that's right I heard of War Gems, don't really like your resent

They unraveled, landing with a slide next to the team they ran circles around. Calcite summoned their weapon, leaping up high into the sky above. 

Jee it's swell to finally make you 

All con- 

They plummeted down. The gems stared in shock. 

All con-

Pink Pearl poofed her form. 

All content!

The Axe of Hearts went through the present gems, slicing them in half. But none of them poofed away, just shook a little. 

Calcite landed a few feet away, desummoning their weapon. They shook with a sudden jolt of pain that run through their body, as it glitched around. The chisel was still impaled into them. Run. They had to run. Make it home. They had to make it home. She had to save him. 

"That was… astonishing." They heard from behind with a British accent. 

"I've never had a gem kick my butt so amazingly!" Said Eyeball, cheering for Calcite's victory. 

"Whao…" Jasper simply uttered, blushing. 

Calcite raised up, looking at the gems that fawned over them now. 

Eyeball ran up to them first. 

"Ohhh, this is so… great to be seeing you! You're amazing! Can I…" she held her hands together, pleadingly. "Can we play together?" 

Calcite let the frustration appear clear on their face. It didn't seem to matter to the small gem that clung to them though. 

...Was I really that oblivious with her?  

Calcite stepped back, very clearly annoyed. 

"Suuuure buddy ol' pal chum of mine, lemme just, uh… pick a game..." 

They had no other options. 

"Line up." 

As the three excited and lovestruck gems lined up, Calcite fixed their hair off their face with an annoyed groan. 

"Alright, listen up…” 

Here on this… planet 

Let's play a game.

I'll show you how it's done…

Here on this planet… 

They booped the noses of the three gems. 

Stand very still.

"This will be so much fun!" The three gems replied in unison, happily awaiting what was to come next. 

Calcite limped away, holding their trembling form together. 

Did Spinel feel bad? Did she feel awful? Did she feel like she wanted to die from having done this to them? Was she ready to die after she realised she had performed every single abuse she faced but on others? Had she felt absolutely awful for what she caused to Steven? Would she just let herself be shattered, had she been alone and not fused with Steven right now? Did she hate herself even more now, which was hardly imaginable?

The answers to any of those questions did not matter. The only thing that mattered was getting Steven to safety now. 

Calcite sprung up the tall mountain the fell off from earlier. And then they recalled that the floating ability was one of Steven's powers, not Spinel's. As Calcite started to lose momentum and height - they reached their limbs to grab onto the sharp edge in the rough surface, slamming into the mountain with their side. 

Alright, that's fine. Steven's gem is safe. Spinel can do this. She smiled somewhat, feeling the familiar sensations of pain overcome her and blur out the mental torment… and then she remembered that she was still fused with Steven. Her pain was his pain. 

Calcite shook, two tears streamed down their cheeks, past the dark upside down hearts below their four eyes. But they snapped out of it, climbing up. It was a rough way up, and they almost lost all their progress several times as their form would glitch in the middle of their movements. Yet it would not poof away. Spinel held it together. She had to. It was not easy, but she had to climb out of this rock bottom. For Steven. Steven was with her, she had to live up to her promise at least somewhat. She swore she’d keep him safe… 

“I am one bad obsessive gemfriend...” Calcite mused, climbing up, “If I can decide so easily… that I’d rather have Steven safe and alive... than with me.” 

They made it to the top of the mountain, sitting down… maybe to catch a break… just for a moment… the chisel hurt so badly… 

...No! She could not rest now. She had to stay focused, to go home. To save him. Calcite grunted, coming forth to the warp pad on the side of the cliff. The glitching worsened, but they were close, so close to home now… just a little more… This was never going to be easy, life was never going to be easy. Not for anyone. Not for those who seemed like they made no mistakes. Not for those who seemed like they did nothing but mistakes… 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

The warp pad shined up in the temple. Pearl, Amethyst, and Ruby jumped back, but stayed ready to fight the newcomer. And Sapphire simply ran up to them, holding her hands together in adoration. 

“Oh! Calcite! You’re back! I’m so glad to see you. Is that a new decoration?” 

Calcite looked down at the chisel in their body with a pained look, full of tears. Tears streaming down from Spinel’s eyes. Steven’s eyes were closed. Calcite looked like they needed a vacation. With the zephyr hair dripping all around, and the form glitching back and forth. All they did was shake and hold themselves together. For a sweet sugar coating their expression was bittersweet, sour. 

They raised a hand at Sapphire, and snapped their fingers. 

Sapphire snapped back to reality. She rubbed her eye, covering it with hair again. 

“What… just… happened…” She needed a moment to catch up with the present itself. “...Pink Calcite?” 

“I made it.” Calcite sighed out… 

And then the two unfused. 

 

Steven fell to the right, while Spinel fell a meter away with a chisel cutting in just below her gem. 

“Steven!!” 

The gems jumped to their half human son, waking him up and looking for any sort of damage. Spinel raised up on her elbows form where she laid, forgotten, jolts of shivers and glitches running through her body. She looked at the Crystal Gems. The family she had let down a little too many times. 

Steven seemed to wake up, somewhat conscious and aware of the others. Pearl repeated his name again, holding him tight in her hands. Amethyst hugged from the other side, waving a hand before his face to check if he was with them. Steven’s eyes faintly followed her hand. 

“I made it… saved him...” Spinel concluded. 

Ruby and Sapphire held onto each other, forming Garnet again. She checked on Steven as well, before Spinel saw her turn her attention to the other unfused gem. 

Oh no… 

...Actually. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. Nothing does anymore… This is it... 

“He’s safe.” Spinel smiled one last time, seeing Garnet approach her. But Garnet never made it to her - as Spinel poofed away, leaving a chisel and a broken heart behind. 

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

Steven shot up awake. Reality slowly sunk back to him, as he realised he was in his bed, with Garnet and Pearl sitting by his side. A thermometer and a glass of water on his bed stand. 

“Steven!” 

“What happened…” Steven looked down instantly, raising his shirt to look at his gem. It was safely where it has always been. Not a scratch on his body. Just the strong feeling of hunger. 

“We were so worried. How are you feeling? Amethyst left to grab some food for you.” Pearl explained, placing her hand against Steven’s forehead. 

This woke up a memory… 

“Spinel?” Steven instantly asked, looking around. “Where is she?” 

Garnet and Pearl exchanged a look. 

“You need to rest.” Garnet reassured. “You both have been through a lot.” 

“Where is Spinel?” He insisted, trying to clench his fists. But he still felt weak from it all. “For how long did I sleep?” 

“It’s been a few hours. Here.” Pearl grabbed the glass of water and reached for him. “You need to rest and regain your energy first and foremost.” 

“Are you hiding something from me? Is she…” Steven tried to get up from his bed, “Is she cracked!?” 

“No, she’s safe, I promise to you she’s safe.” Garnet made him lay back down. “She’s in the Little Homeworld, with Lapis and Peridot.” 

“Why, is something wrong with her?” 

“What is not wrong with her?” Amethyst asked, coming in with a paper bag that had a nice sweet smell to it. 

Steven frowned at her. But he didn’t have it in his heart to be mad at her remark. It was somewhat true anyways. 

“I need to see her. Now.” 

“No.” Garnet replied firmly. “I think it is best that you two stay away from each other for some time. Steven, I care about her too. But I think she is not very stable or viable to interact with now.” 

“So you just want me to leave her in her worst pain alone? So that I don’t get hurt too?” Steven was not looking around kindly. “She needs my help. I know what she’s been through.” 

“Why don’t you tell us first?” Pearl reasoned, “Might give us some light on the events that occured to the two of you while you were… Pink Calcite… I’m sorry, should I not mention it, was the event too traumatising for you?” 

“No, it wasn’t traumatising. I just need to see Spinel now.” 

Dude. ” Said Amethyst. 

"Steven. You need rest. And you… need a break from her." Pearl insisted. It has been a long while since she had to use that commanding tone on Steven. 

" Pearl.

Steven couldn't get why did Pearl suddenly look terrified of him at first. Then he realized. He rubbed at his eyes quickly, trying to rub the diamond shapes away as if it was a physical feature, not a mental one. He took a deep breath, remembering… flexibility, love, and trust. 

"Sorry." He said in a calmer tone. "Spinel went through a lot of bad things as Pink Calcite. Both mentally and physically. Of course she is probably feeling even worse now. I need to be there for her right now. I'm… the only one who can make it better for her." 

Amethyst sighed, closing her eyes as she voiced what has been on everyone's mind about this. 

"You are the only one who can... Doesn't mean you must." 

Steven replied as slowly as she spoke. 

"I love her." He gripped the blanket. "Somedays I can't even say why. But I know I won't be of peace of mind if she's not by my side, not safe, not feeling good, or not… just not with me." The boy placed his hand against his forehead, "I can't even name it… is it her laugh or her smile or her… just her being? I don't know. I know she's flawed. Troubled. Hurt. I know she's hurt people too. But I can't be mad at her. I just… can't? Like at any of you. I just want to hold her and comfort her while she cries on my shoulder, and I want to be there for her through any weather, and I- I want to cry on her shoulder while she holds me and I…" Steven wiped his tears away, his happy tears, "I just love her." 

The Crystal Gems looked down. Reconsidering.

"I get it." Amethyst spoke first. "I mean, look at me and Jasper… I should know that caring about troubled people can be like that." 

"I'm sorry, Steven." Said Pearl. 

"You're right. You can go see her." Garnet concluded. "But still… after you both regain at least some strength. Amethyst?"

"Oh, right." 

The purple gem gave the paper bag to Steven. Steven opened it, looking down at the still warm and fragrant pastries. Some waffles, two bagels, another muffin… 

Steven drooled a little. He looked up at the gems. Pearl reached the glass of water for him once again, while everyone smiled at Steven lovingly. They starving boy just stared up. 

"Can I go see Spinel first?"

 

~ ~ ~ 

 

"Let me go!!!" Spinel struggled against Lapis's hold, but the blue gem got a good hold of her hands and tried to keep her down. 

The gems had no need of beds. But this room had a few as an exception, for it was a medical check room. Lapis struggled to keep Spinel down on one of the beds, while Peridot stood back, checking something on her tablet. 

"He threw me out! I know he did! I need to go before he changes his mind!" Spinel wouldn't quit struggling. 

"No, he didn't!" Replied Lapis, "Garnet brought your gem in and said to help you. Nothing about Steven!"

Garnet? Garnet carried her gem? Garnet made it all the way here, with her gem in her hands? Hands that could have crashed it, shattered at any moment? Hands that could have bubbled her away and hide forever, instead held her and brought her… to… 

"No!!!" She struggled with renewed strength, "It's a lie!! I know it's always a lie! Let me go, I need to run away!" 

"Why would you need to run?" Peridot peeked from behind her device, "You're safe here?"

"Of course not!!" Spinel stopped struggling while Lapis held her torso down, but only so that she could focus on replying to Peridot. She still kept her arms on Lapis's elbows. "It's all a lie and I'm tired of it! I'm tired! Security is a lie, all those feelings… they're…" 

A sob wrecked through her body suddenly. 

"Spinel? Spinel, look at us. Do you really think Steven lies about loving you?" Lapis asked from above. 

For once two equally sentimental gems who had both known both hope and despair met for a talk. But Lapis learned of it all long ago, and Spinel battled and rode it with equal feelings of utter fear and desire just recently. 

And now this emotional wave that she had surfed for a good while had crashed her at the shore of numbness, and left alone. 

"No… that's the problem… he probably… I… I probably fooled him into loving me… I need to run before he comes back for me. I'm so… so fucking bad for him." 

She quit her struggles just a little. 

"Why do you think you're bad for him?" Lapis asked, hearing something familiar in her speech. She glanced at Peridot for a second. 

"I did awful things... so many mistakes…" Spinel started crying. Not that she ever stopped - her hysteria was a constant state by now. "After… After Jasper forced me into… into…" she shot her eyes closed, but Lapis got what she said anyways, "I… did the same to Steven…"

Another loud cry filled the room. Lapis moved her hands to Spinel's shoulder pads, keeping her down. Spinel trashed her head back and forth, arching her back while she cried. 

It almost looked like her gem was a true beating heart. 

Especially now, that it was back in its original position. Right side up. 

It was a spur of a moment of a mental decision. Spinel realized that ever since she had left the Garden - nothing changed. She was still unstable, looking to either be a toy or keep Steven as her toy. And she was doing no better with her emotions. They were still all on her sleeve. On her chest - for everyone to see and read what she truly felt. 

Spinel had lost her ability to mask her feelings. Along with her feelings. And hence her gem was right side up again. It didn't matter. She made no progress. As for her form, she still looked like a prom queen that had a bucket of blood dumped on her head as she thought she'd finally won something in her life with her outlook, but that was the usual. Her mascara was the same. 

"Peridot, can you leave the room for a minute?" Lapis said firmly. 

"Uh… Sure… Just scream if you need help." Peridot exited the room, feeling a little saddened that there were things in Lapis's life that she preferred to keep secret even from her. 

"Spinel. Listen to me. I know exactly what you went through." 

The toy gem grimaced.

"It's not like you were left behind by everyone you ever cared about for 6000 years and then came back to society just to become as bad as people who abused you while trying to take your anger out on the people you cared about." 

"Yeah. That's about what I did." Lapis looked unamused. 

Spinel quieted down momentarily, looking up at her in shock. 

“Yeah. It’s a long story… I just want you to know you’re not the only one.” Feeling that Spinel was no longer struggling, Lapis let go of her, sitting up. “That’s what Jasper did to me too. And then I… took my anger out on her.” 

Spinel crossed her hands. 

“It’s not like you cared about her.” 

“Nah. She can get shattered for all I care.” Lapis fixed her hair back. “It’s that… I feel bad that I did something so awful. Just because she’s a bad person didn’t give me a right to be awful to her…” 

“She hurt you though.” 

Lapis shrugged, “I got myself into this… But. Hey. I’m here now. Spinel, look at me. I climbed out of that rock bottom.” 

“Rock bottom?..” 

“And I’m good now. I still feel… scared of being that way again. I fear hurting…” She glanced at the door, “Gems I care about. … But. Working towards bettering myself helps me.” 

“Well… that’s very great?” Spinel shrugged with a fake smile. “Great for you. Not for me. So-” 

She tried to leap up, but Lapis got a hold of her again. 

“Didn’t you hear me? It’s okay, Spinel it’s okay that you messed up! We can all mess up! You’re still a good gem!”

“How can I “still” be what I never was? Ugh, it doesn’t matter! Just let me go!”

“No!” Lapis raised her voice, her anger playing into the scenery. “You gotta stay, you gotta tell Steven you’re sorry. Don’t you know him? He’ll understand! He’ll forgive you!”

“I know he will, I don’t need him to forgive me!!” Spinel punched her in the face by twirling her leg around, and jumped to the floor. “I just need to go!!” 

“Peridot!” Lapis screamed, summoning up her wings and leaping at Spinel. 

Spinel fought her off, but Lapis managed to grab the smaller gem into an awkward hug. The hold was joined by Peridot, but from another side - Peridot held onto Lapis’s waistband, helping her keep Spinel grounded. 

“I get that it feels shitty! But you don’t have to run from it, you can just trust us and face it together with-” 

“Are you deaf? I don’t want to face anything!” Spinel stopped struggling for a minute, not even catching her breath as she spoke. “I don’t want to work through this, I don’t want to try and be a better gem, I don’t want to be loved by others, I don’t… I… I love Steven, but I can’t keep hurting him! I just… I just want to disappear!!” 

She stopped struggling, letting her body reel down as her limbs went loose, while only her head and hands stayed in Lapis’s hands. 

“I’m done!” Spinel cried, “I’m done, that’s all! I’m done fighting and struggling and putting up with it… it’s too much, this is all too much, I just want it all to stop…” 

Lapis slid down to the floor with her, sighing sadly as she felt powerless to help her. Peridot held tighter onto her back, closing her eyes. The little gem never knew why did it feel so… right… to stay close to Lapis. But she liked it nonetheless. 

“You can’t just give up.” Lapis said, staring at the wall before her rather than Spinel, “You… can be a good gem. And you deserve to love and to be loved. You… can be a good gemfriend to her…” 

“Uhm… Steven uses he/him?” Peridot tried to point out Lapis’s mistake. 

“I know.” Lapis wasn’t talking about Spinel and Steven. 

 

“...Lappy?” 

Two sitting gems turned their heads at the rather creepy pasta of a gem on the floor that had just addressed one of them. 

“Please let me go before Steven gets here. I don’t want to see him.”

 

“Are you mad at me?” Asked the boy in the door frame. 

 

All three turned towards the open door, where Steven stood.  

Spinel reacted first, reeling her limbs back and kicking off the other two gems. 

"No!" She screamed, crawling back away from him, "No! No no… get away!" 

Spinel covered her head with her hands. 

Lapis and Peridot, who fell back quite awkwardly over each other, got up with a bit of a guilty look. They did what they could to keep Spinel there before Steven came in, but they felt bad that they could not help her more. 

"I'll take it from here, thanks guys." Steven said, letting the two gems exit the room. 

He locked the door from inside, turning towards Spinel. The fuchsia gem was shaking, her hair was down as ever, and her gem was… 

“Spinel? Your gem...” 

She looked down at it from underneath her hands. Yes. It was right side up again. Just like when she was a baby. Now this baby, all grown into a monster with a ruined mascara and several mental illnesses and issues, was shaking and crying on the floor, before the boy who just wished he could be with her. 

“Please talk to me.” Steven sat down next to her, reaching a hand for her. 

Spinel scuttered further away. 

“Please, don’t… I… I’ve got nothing left.” 

“Nothing left?” 

“No hopes. I’m not going to get- get any better. I just… don’t want to hurt you anymore.” 

“You’ve never-”

“I know I did. Please just… let me go… I just want to go!” 

She covered her face, curling up on herself. 

 

So here they were, back on square one. 

Scared little cornered animal Spinel, and Steven who was lost in confusion. Lost in ideas of what could he ever do to help her. He just wanted to make things better for her. How do you help someone who does not want to put efforts into helping themselves? Steven tried so many things. What would he even do now, that he didn’t try before? Make out with her? Let her be in charge? Let her go mad with the power, hoping that she’ll come to her senses? 

“We can work through this.” 

“Please. Stop. I’m so d-done wasting your time. I just don’t want to try anymore.” 

“Do you…” Steven felt a chill run down his spine, as he realized. It sounded like she wanted to… break up. 

No. No, it could not be happening. No, not here, not when she’s so weak, not right now. And never! He didn’t want it. He knew - he could see that - she didn’t want it. Nobody wanted it! Why would she even sound like it, was Steven not good for her?

...Then again. How has Steven been good for her? He tried everything, one option after another. But he just could not find the one right way to make her feel better.

“What do I do now…” He sincerely asked aloud, not really directing the question at Spinel. “I don’t even know. I just want to help you. I want to be making you happy, Spinel. Does it even… depends on me? I’ve tried so much, does that even depends on me? I want to help you. I just… don’t know what t-to do…” Steven sobbed. 

Spinel raised her head, now just blinking at him. To her surprise, Steven was crying too. 

Because of her. 

He was crying because of her. She had hurt him so much, but he never cried over any of it before. Not even when he got stabbed. It didn’t hurt him as much. 

Then… what hurt him now? 

Spinel gritted her teeth. She did. The hopelessness of helping her. She couldn’t get why was he even feeling this way. Why didn’t he just want to play with her and use her? Why did he have to care about her feelings? Why did he have to care about her at all? Couldn’t he just use her like everyone else in her life did… it would have been easier.

Steven was too good for her, Spinel concluded that once again. 

He was so wonderful. Now crying because he couldn’t help her. He was in pain, and she sensed it, and nothing she could have done would have made it better, because she knew she would not change for the better. Even for him, it simply seemed impossible for her. She was just making it worse, she was just being difficult, she was just whining and crying and breaking down and being annoying and taking up all his personal space and driving his friends away and making him upset. 

Everything crashed down on her at once. This was bad. This was awful. This was the worst she had ever felt. 

She didn’t want to feel any of that. She just wanted to disappear. For the ground to open up below her, swallow her in and for her to cease to exist. To shatter. To have her gem dusted away till there was nothing to fix back together. 

Her form glitched. 

This was it. 

This was rock bottom. 




But she wasn't dying in place.

No matter how hard she wished she could. She couldn’t die to avoid this.

She could not run from herself.   

So there must have been only one other way out of this rock bottom. 

And... she would take it. She had nothing left to lose. 

She could always shatter herself if she fails again. But right now, she'll do it one last time - she’ll climb out of this utter rock bottom of an abyss the only way she was shown how to. 

She would give up for Steven. 

She'll stop struggling as he was pulling her up, out of it.

She’ll give up going against every nice thing he tried to do for her.  

She'll let him take the lead, and she'll feel hurt and she'll cry about it, but she'll make him happy again, in the only way she can think of. 

Because she wants him to be happy. 

More than she wants to live. 

What is there left to lose? 

 

Spinel slowly crawled closer, stopping next to Steven, still a little shaky. The boy looked at her. Both had tears in their eyes. Spinel reached her hands out - holding them up as she begged for a hug. For comfort that she feared so dearly. She looked like she was in despair. And she truly was.

"I give up." She whispered, numb. 

Steven didn’t get what she meant at first. 

“No, no you can’t just give up. You’ve gotta keep going…” 

"Yes. Yes. That, exactly. I give up to you .” She nodded weakly. “I give up. You can take the lead. You can do whatever you want. I'll... obey. I'll play along. I won't fight. I’ll face whomever you want me to. I’ll talk about my feelings. I won’t lie. I’ll do- do anything you say. Please just..." Pathetic, she must have looked so pathetic as she cried out the last words. " Have mercy on me! "

Steven hugged her, utterly confused, but not missing out to comfort her when it seemed like he could finally accept it. Spinel held onto him, sobbing into his shoulder. The boy held one hand around her torso tightly, and another over her head, giving her a light pat as she let it all pour out. 

Whatever she meant, Steven didn’t quite get it. But he did hear that she’ll talk about her feelings and face people. He didn’t get it. He just couldn’t process what had happened. It was confusing. He just wanted her to feel better. Was this going in favour of him doing it? 

It seemed so, since now he could actually hug Spinel for comfort. 

Steven held her close to his heart, like a favourite childhood toy that means a world to him. 

“I need you.” 

“I need you too…” 

“Everything will be alright.” Said the lost boy, holding the lost gem in his hands tightly. “You’re here. You’re safe. That’s all I need…" That’s all I need to know we’ll work through whatever comes next.