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Fragments III

Chapter Text

“So the first thing you should know about me,” Steven begins nervously, gripping the bottom of his shirt, “is that, uh—“

But before he can really get going and reveal his gemstone like it’s a second head, Dr. Yeoh, his new therapist, shakes her head, smiling gently.

“Wait,” she interjects kindly. “I don’t want my first thing I know about you to be something that you’re obviously dreading to tell… so let that be the second thing, and tell me something else first.”

Steven’s eyes widen.

Dr. Yeoh’s gaze becomes serious.

“The baggage in your life doesn’t define you, Steven.”

Chapter Text

They walk along the corridor together, their shadows lengthening in the rosy light throwing itself in geometric fragments through the windows.

Blue and Yellow Diamond.

Shoulders just barely touching, even though they both pretend not to notice.

“It’s... quaint, isn’t it?” Blue murmurs. “That we have nowhere we’re supposed to be right now.”

“I keep expecting that insipid chime to ring at any second now,” Yellow agrees, “pulling me away.”

They pause for a beat, waiting, but the silence remains unchallenged.

And Blue smiles so tenderly that Yellow swears she can see eternity stretch in the colors of her eyes.

Chapter Text

Every morning on this accursed planet, Jasper makes up a new foe to fight. 

Rocks become monsters, and trees turn into enemy gems.

She has to break them before they break her, she tells herself.

For this is what it is to survive a war.

Shattering boulders and eviscerating branches, smiling viciously in relief at every kill.

On the mountaintop, Jasper smiles all the time.

Until the end of the day, at least, when the rocks become just rocks again, and the trees are only trees.

And the soldier is left standing upon the battlefield of a self-made war.

Unresolved.

Chapter Text

Dear Ma and Pa, Greg writes and then just as abruptly stops, his pen shaking in his hand.

Because it’s been five years since he ran away his folks’ home, and he doesn’t know what to say to them.

Hey, I know it’s been awhile, but I had a short-lived career as a rockstar before falling in love with a big, beautiful alien woman who gave up her physical form, and now I have a half-alien kid, and we live in a van.

Ahaha.

His parents had wanted him to be an effing lawyer.

He had wanted to be free.

Chapter Text

Connie likes watching Bismuth work, toiling away at her anvil, her hands shifting from mallets to tongs back to hands again. The fire blazing in the hearth casts the newly minted forge in warm tones: honeyed oranges and velvet reds.

It’s all so very cozy.

Like Bismuth herself.

“Thanks for doing this,” Connie smiles, admiring the blue metal Bismuth plunges into a nearby barrel of water. “I didn’t realize you could ever outgrow a sword.”

“Me neither,” the blacksmith admits. “But I suppose it makes sense… you humans are constantly growing and changing. ‘Course you need a weapon to match!”

Chapter Text

On most days, Pearl and Volleyball are perfectly content to talk, sharing quiet understanding between themselves in murmurs and meaningful touches and bittersweet laughter.

On other days, when they don’t want to share things, when they simply just want to know, they fuse.

Mega Pearl likes to walk along the shoreline, retracing the complicated memories of Rose's bare feet in the sand.

Processing.

Understanding.

Healing.

Sometimes, Garnet joins her.

“I’ll never get tired of this view,” she says suddenly.

Pearl’s brow gently furrows.

“The ocean?”

“No,” Garnet replies, warmth in her voice, unmistakable pride. “You and you together, perfectly reconciled.”

Chapter Text

Some cycles, Spinel can barely face her lined reflection in the shiny, palace floors.

And when she can’t, she finds herself in Blue Diamond’s company, staring at the dark hollows beneath her eyes.

“D’you… think they’ll ever go away?” She asks, a little hesitant, a little desperate, but Blue is patient, understanding, soft.

“No,” she shakes her head, “I’ll bear these marks forever most likely, but… you know… I believe that’s okay.”

“It is?”

“Aye,” Blue murmurs. “My grief will always be a part of me, and I have to accept that, in order to continue moving forwards and on.”

Chapter Text

They’re setting out metal chairs for Garnet’s wedding, arranging them pitch perfectly so that Pearl will stop nagging at them, when Amethyst tells Peridot in the lowest of voices:

Rose Quartz was really Pink Diamond all along.

“Stars above!” Peridot drops all the chairs she’s levitating.

“Shit is more like it,” Amethyst only replies glumly.

Peridot glances around wildly, absorbing the microscopic gestures in everyone’s physiognomies that she hadn’t noticed before.

Steven’s furrowed brow.

Pearl’s wringing hands.

Restless.

Finicky.

Guilty.

Amethyst follows her gaze.

“Pearl’s all tangled up in it,” she confirms quietly. “But she’s bein’ too hard on herself.”

 

Chapter Text

“Are you sure about this, Steven?” Lapis asks dubiously, a slight crease in her blue brow. 

“Super sure, Bob!” Steven tilts his head to look up at her, hovering above his head. “It’s for my TubeTube channel!”

“I have no idea what that means.”

Chuckling, Steven returns his focus to the camcorder in front of him, hoisted on a tripod.

“Hi, my name is Steven, and this is my jelly bean challenge! My friend Lapis is going throw jelly beans in my mou—“

But fortunately, he doesn’t get a chance to finish because Pearl flies out of house, shrieking, “STEVEN!

Chapter Text

Another Saturday.

Another training session with Pearl.

And a few more collected bruises, shadowing the narrow line of Connie’s jaw.

“Hold still,” Priyanka commands sternly, though when she presses the ice pack to her daughter’s skin, her touch is light.

Gentle.

“Ah... that feels better.”

“I can imagine,” she snorts. “What in the world are you two even doing in that arena? Boxing bears? Staving off Godzilla?”

“Sort of,” Connie grins. “Training to fight enemy gems. Y’know, in case of an invasion.”

“The pragmatist in me rejects that.” Priyanka shakes her head.

“Thanks for letting me do it anyway, Mom.”

Chapter Text

Suuuuuunlight?” White Diamond singsongs as the golden doors slide open with a pneumatic hiss. “Yellow, are you in here? Blue, Spinel, and I are ready to leave posthaste!”

But there is no immediate reply, nor familiar figure hunched over the vanity, ceaselessly confronting her own reckoning. Instead...

“Oh, White!” Blue gently tugs at her arm. “Look down.”

Stretched out beneath them, head propped up on her elbow, Yellow Diamond is... dormant.

Eyes closed.

Armored chest moving slowly with the deep, heavy breath of her perfect stillness, vulnerable and rare.

“Oh,” White murmurs, suddenly overwhelmed with fondness.

“Oh,” Blue tenderly agrees.

Chapter Text

Lars lightly knocks his fist against Steven’s head, smirking down at him from a height difference that’s not as stark as it used to be.

“Lars!” He rubs his hair indignantly.

“You. Me. All our friends. A barbecue. Tomorrow night,” Lars says, very matter-of-factly, even as Steven opens his mouth to protest. “Nonnegotiable.”

“Um, have you seen the town lately? It’s still covered in gunk.”

“And it’ll still be covered in gunk for a long time,” Lars shrugs kindly. “You need a break, Steven, and a good ass burger.”

“But I’m thinking about going vegetarian...”

“Dude, I’ll make yours tofu.”

Chapter Text

They sit on the dock together, a six-pack propped between them, watching the sunset scorch the sea.

“Mah, mah, mah, mah!” Yellowtail says angrily, sloshing beer on his weathered coat. “Mah!”

Marty called to wish Sour Cream a happy birthday yesterday.

His birthday was two months ago.

“Yeesh,” Greg winces sympathetically. “That guy never changes, huh?”

Mah,” the sailor harrumphs.

“Maybe SC should ghost him?” He suggests dully. “That’s what I did with my pa...”

“Mah, mah?”

“He... never got me,” Greg explains, glancing away. “And I wish he had. But he couldn't. So I did what I had t’do.”

Chapter Text

It’s strange that they’re all together with no imperial figures looming over them—Pearl and Pearl and Pearl and Pearl.

All different shades

All emerged for the same initial purpose.

But sitting atop of a picnic blanket that Volleyball laid out, the midday sun dusting their hair gold, there’s no room for the Diamonds on this patchwork square.

Yellow Pearl purses her lips indignantly.

“What if I don’t want to draw four?”

“Then you’re a sore loser,” Pearl singsongs wryly.

“Don’t listen to Pearl,” Volley laughs. “She’s being mean!”

Blue covers her mouth with her cards to conceal a giggle.

Chapter Text

All of their lives, the pebbles have lived in a palace that has far exceeded their size.

And then Era Three arrives, so suddenly and so magnificently, and with it, change unimaginable.

The Heaven and the Earth Beetles, once royal Homeworld diplomats, now Little Homeschool ambassadors, tell them about the planet Pink Diamond once loved.

“It’s not for everyone…” Heaven Beetle says softly.

“But even still,” Earth Beetle follows up, “if you would like, you could stay with us in our house.”

A Pebble’s gaze flick upwards to the infinitely vaulting ceilings, and Earth Beetle smiles.

“It’s just our height.”

Chapter Text

Some days in therapy are tougher than others. 

Dr. Yeoh encourages him to talk about what hurts.

So much of it still does.

And sometimes, Steven spends the hour session unloading, and Dr. Yeoh doesn’t have enough time to unpack, and he has to drive home with all his thoughts…

Dark.

Desolate.

Drear.

He makes it home, though, and he puts on a smile for his family because it’s what he knows how to do.

But somewhere, in the midst of everything, they’ve all learned better—Garnet, Amethyst, Dad, and Pearl.

They wrap their arms around him.

Warm.

Attentive.

Here.

Chapter Text

They work together as a team, constructing houses in Little Homeschool. 

Bismuth builds, and Peridot helps her move materials back and forth.

And at the end of a long day, they sit on the scaffolding of all their hard work, legs dangling off the edge.

Just chillin’.

“I didn’t have this kind of freedom in Homeworld,” Bismuth begins softly. “T’build what I wanted to. It was all for someone else—nobles, diplomats, and Diamonds.”

“Same story, different facets,” Peridot grins faintly. “I was full of ideas when I first emerged, but nyeh, you don’t have ideas on Homeworld, you know.”

Chapter Text

“Hey, sis!” Amethyst shouts, trying to get the Jasper’s attention over the jabbering of all the other Quartzes. “C’mere!”

Biggs Jasper quietly picks her way through the crowd, stopping in front of Amethyst with a shy smile.

“Hullo...”

“Says here on the clipboard that you’re the only Quartz who hasn’t signed up for Yellow D’s corruption scar treatment extravaganza or whatever,” Amethyst grins. “Just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing you…”

“Nah,” she shrugs. “My horns have kinda grown on me."

She taps them with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

“Dammit,” Amethyst laughs. “That’s a good one.”

Chapter Text

“So get this,” Greg laughs, splaying his fingers wide in that way he so often does when he gets excited. 

Stars, how Rose loves him.

“So me and my cousin were hiding in his mom’s garden, right? ‘Cuz we, uh, ate her pie, and we knew she’d be pissed, and then a squirrel—“

But whatever comes next, Rose doesn’t exactly hear.

Because she’s suddenly thinking of another garden.

From thousands of years ago.

Spiraling walls and endless atmosphere above.

Marbled fountains.

Flowers climbing the stone.

Laughter echoing through all the emptiness.

Spinel.

Rose’s gem hitches painfully.

(It’s not the baby.)

Chapter Text

Stevonnie feels Garnet’s fingers in their hair, steadily weaving their dark tresses into a braid with slow, rhythmic motions.

They try hard to stay still.

(It’s difficult.)

“You’re occupied,” Garnet intuits.

It’s a statement, not a question.

“No,” they argue stubbornly.

The elder fusion’s silence is its own admonishment.

“Yes,” Stevonnie mumbles shamefacedly, picking at a loose thread in Connie’s jacket. “Someone hit on us the other day... and we… we didn’t like it.”

“Stevonnie, listen to me,” Garnet says immediately, her hands so gentle, her voice subterranean ice. “You never have to like anything that makes you feel bad.”

Chapter Text

Blue catches her in the act one day.

It’s embarrassing, and it’s stupid, and so many other things besides.

“You’re humming,” Blue whispers, awe in her voice, quiet affection, as she sidles alongside Yellow Diamond.

“Something of the sort, yes,” Yellow mutters petulantly, her cheeks darkening.

“I haven’t heard you hum since—“

But she can’t go on, the sentence too much to bear.

Yellow’s eyes softens.

Her gem aches.

“It makes me feel closer to her,” she admits, reflexively grabbing Blue’s hand. “She loved to sing.”

“You harmonized beautifully with her, though,” Blue murmurs kindly. “The best of us all.”

Chapter Text

Pearl’s falling a little bit in love with everyone nowadays—with Khadijah’s bravery and Brandish’s laugh and Jaime’s blue hair.

With Bismuth’s strong, firm hands.

With the gentle way Volley speaks, as though a flower on the fragrant wind.

Oh, she knows that one day, things may very well change. 

Someone might make a move first, and then she’ll maybe make a move back, and the spar will begin—slowly, surely, carefully.

But until then, Pearl thinks it’s okay to share her metaphorical heart with so many others.

Rose would have liked that.

She would have understood better than anyone.

Chapter Text

That night, the air is electric with celebration.

Because Sadie and Steven and the Cool Kids?

They just performed their first show.

And all of them together—jubilant, bold, inspired, carefree?

They’re already making plans.

Well, almost all of them.

“That riff you did at the end was sick,” Sour Cream tells Steven. “You should do it again next time.”

“Oh, um,” Steven hesitates. “I’m not sure there’s gonna be a next time for me.”

What?!” Jenny exclaims.

“It’s just that, you know, I’ve got Gem duties…”

“Screw your duties,” Sadie says sagely.

“Yeah.” Buck’s glasses flash.

“Be a kid.”

Chapter Text

Communication between Homeworld and Little Homeworld is tentative at first, mainly because Peridot, incomparable though she is, is having trouble reconciling Homeworld’s holographic communication system with WiFi.

And besides, her assistant two hundred lightyears away is being an absolute clod.

“You’re… struggling with… this,” Yellow Pearl’s static-cracked voice comes through the speaker in patches.

“No!” Peridot protests violently, glaring at Lapis, who’s silently laughing off to the side. “I’m just fine-tuning an extremely delicate system!

“That… is… a lot of… words… to… say… you’re struggling,” Yellow smirks.

Peridot makes a universal gesture at the monitor that she hopes transmits through.

Chapter Text

Connie and Steven stroll around the barebones beginnings of Little Homeworld together, holding hands and pretending not to notice that they are.

Steven points out a half-finished building in the distance, its stones spiraling up into a cloud skimmed sky.

“Bismuth say that’s going to be the observatory, where folks can just go up and enjoy the view,” he explains softly.

“Brilliant!” Connie’s eyes sparkle. “A whole vista of progress, unfurling towards the sea.”

“When you put it like that, it almost sounds like a fairytale.”

“Yeah,” she agrees, chuckling. “Happily ever afters and all.”

Steven could live with that.

Chapter Text

The Pearl holds a Geminar on moving on after the war, talking about how it was difficult to pick up the pieces of herself after everything.

And Jasper listens attentively, even if she pretends otherwise, looking away.

“It’s hard to move on after so much pain,” Pearl says gently. “To shoulder it and to keep walking, to carry it with you forever…”

The soldier glances down at her hands.

Mottled green.

“But damage doesn’t imply brokenness.”

Jasper’s gem wrenches.

Softly.

Longingly.

In the tangle of her mind, she confuses hope for weakness.

(She’s never known hope before.)

“I’m living proof.”

 

Chapter Text

Greg and Steven are jamming out one day, dancing to a vinyl that they both love at a picnic with everyone who loves them, when their shoulders suddenly bump, and there’s a burst of white light as the song reaches its crescendo.

Steg lands on his feet, singing.

He sings the rest of the song for as long as it goes on, and when it ends, he summons his guitar and composes a new one on the spot. 

It’s about being alive in the world and being loved.

“Pretty neat, huh?” Amethyst grins.

“He’s beautiful,” Garnet laughs in radiant reply.

Chapter Text

The night enshrouds Priyanka and Steven in its heavy arms as they sit upon the steps leading up to the Maheswaran townhouse.

“I wanna talk to my dad about the fight we had,” Steven begins quietly, “but I don’t know how to, Dr. M… I said so many hurtful things.”

And he stares at his hands, as though he can scarcely believe what they’ve done.

“Some of which your father undoubtedly needed to hear,” Priyanka replies. “Parents… we make mistakes sometimes… and we need our kids to inform us about them—even if they’re ugly. Perhaps especially when they are.”

Chapter Text

During the first few weeks after her arrival at Little Homeworld, Topaz apologizes to anyone who’ll listen.

She’s sorry for having been complicit in nearly kidnapping so many of Steven’s beloved friends.

Captain Lars, I’m sorry for having hurt you.

Steven Universe, please forgive me.

Fundamentally, she’s sorry for being herself sometimes because this is the lesson that her Homeworld superiors, from Aquamarine upwards, have ingrained in the fusion all along.

It’s perverse to love herself.

“Of course I forgive you,” Amethyst shrugs kindly after class one day.

“But here’s the thing, dude—one day, you’ve gotta forgive you, too.”

Chapter Text

“Sapphy?”

“Yes, Ruby?” The two gems who make up Garnet are stretched out across the sands in front of the Temple, barely watching the stars wheel through the sky.

They’re supposed to be having a date night tonight...

Neither of them are feeling particularly romantic.

“Do you think Steven’ll ever forgive us?”

“He already has,” Sapphire says.

Immediately.

Hesitantly.

Knowingly.

“Because he thinks the proposal was all his fault, right?”

Sapphire closes her eye as sundry visions overwhelm her: Steven in his room, clutching a pillow to his heaving chest.... Steven throwing a glow bracelet away in the trash...

“Yes.”

Chapter Text

Spinel swipes at her perpetually lined eyes.

“I thought you were gone, skedaddled, skabooshed,” she sniffs as she’s lofted into the air. “What took you so long, Yellow? It’s been ages.”

Even as she says it, she knows she’s being too much—clingy and sad and overwhelming.

(Traumatized.)

But, to her surprise, Yellow Diamond doesn’t seem to hold it against her.

“I apologize, Spinel,” she explains gently. “My ship’s hyperspace capacitor needed repairs, and I couldn’t get a message back to Homeworld.”

“I was worried ‘bout you.”

The Diamond’s eyes soften, melting like liquid gold.

“I’m safe now—I promise.”

Chapter Text

“We could crash in Steven’s bathroom?” Peridot suggests, her nose wrinkling with uncertainty.

She’s had enough of the bathroom to last at least two organic lifetimes. 

“Mm… there wouldn’t be enough space for both of us,” Lapis replies. “And Pumpkin, of course.”

“Woof!” Pumpkin barks in agreement.

“We could rebuild the barn…?” 

The question is simple; the underlying proposition is wrapped up in so many memories for them both.

The good, the bad, and everything in-between.

“Maybe…” Peridot hesitates. “But it’s so far away from everything and everyone…”

“And we need a fresh start,” Lapis murmurs softly.

Understandingly.

“Exactly, Lazuli.”

Chapter Text

They’re on another decolonization tour, this time of Crete, a planet some thousands of lightyears away. 

It was one of the first that White Diamond had ever conquered.

“Stars,” Yellow grumbles impatiently, “I don’t know what’s taking her so long.”

“She said she was looking for something,” Steven shrugs.

“I’m sure it’s important—” Blue begins, but her consolations are interrupted by the disturbing sight of White bursting through the foliage with an alarmingly ferocious, phosphorescent-eyed panther, tucked in her arms like a shy kitten.

Yellow swears violently.

“Sorry I’m late!” White laughs. “I was just picking up an old friend.”

Chapter Text

After Eyeball, it takes her hundreds of cycles to find everyone.

But Navy is diligent.

Persistent.

She collects them all from the glittering vacuum of space—Doc, Army, and Leggy—pulling them up from nothingness and into her arms, tears streaming down her face every time she sees her reflection in the face of another.

Army punches her affectionately.

Leggy cries in her arms.

Doc pretends that she’s doing better than she really is.

But they’re together again, and that’s what matters.

That’s what’s important in the end.

“Rubies,” Navy smiles at Leggy softly, patting her head, “let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

Lion feels it in his gut.

She’s near again—the lady with the pink hair, the alien named Rose.

She had a gem in her belly.

She pulled him from the darkness back into the light.

He lifts himself off his haunches and begins to run—joyous, primal, loving, triumphant—drawn to the place where she should be, the desert giving way beneath his powerful paws.

But when he reaches the dunes, all his magic points him to someone who isn’t Rose.

It’s a child resting against a pillar.

He has a gem in his belly.

He has her eyes.

Chapter Text

When the final Era Three announcement is made, Steven Universe returns to Earth, and the royal Pearls are left to their own devices for the first time in millennia. 

There are no more broadcasts to be produced, nor services to fulfill.

In Era Three, they are free.

“Freedom is tedious,” Yellow sniffs. “I haven’t the faintest idea what to do.”

Blue glances out at the world beyond the palace steps—already shifting.

Changing.

Evolving.

Yesterday, she witnessed a cross-gem fusion hugging herself in the middle of the square.

“Maybe that’s the point…?” She murmurs uncertainly. “We’re allowed to do anything…”

Chapter Text

It’s a horrible conversation to have, but it’s a necessary one.

One day, Steven apologizes, his clouded eyes pulled towards the tarp covered van in the carwash’s driveway.

“I let my anger get the best of me,” he whispers, his voice broken and hoarse. “I nearly could have killed us.”

Greg swallows thickly.

He feels like a failure.

“No, I’m sorry, buddy,” he says, swiping at his eyes. “You’re young, and you’ve been through a lot, and you just wanted answers to questions I always hoped you’d never ask. And that’s on me, Steven—not you. Not you at all.”

Chapter Text

Minutes before the next debate, Blue and Yellow Zircon find themselves in the shared wing behind the stage, waiting for their cue.

Blue fiddles with her cravat while her counterpart straightens her monocle.

It’s a familiar scene strangely enough.

For how many times had they coexisted side-by-side in thousands of years, waiting to be summoned to court?

Opposing each other.

Arguing.

Reluctantly being impressed.

Blue smiles a little to herself despite her nerves.

“You seem uncharacteristically happy,” Yellow observes, acerbic as ever but curious against her will.

Blue can’t help but chuckle.

“Just thinking about how some things never change.”

Chapter Text

“What,” Yellow swallows, her face feeling hot, “are you doing?”

It’s barely the middle of the cycle, and Blue Diamond has somehow managed to sneak up behind her and wrap her arms around her neck, her fingers brushing the hard facets of her gem.

“Embracing you,” Blue murmurs softly. “I believe the term Steven used is hugging.”

“And what exactly”—Yellow can scarcely get the words out—“is the point of hugging?”

“To show you affection. To demonstrate that I care.”

“Couldn’t you just send me a holomessage?”

“Perhaps,” comes the teasing reply, “but I like flustering you way better.”

Chapter Text

“Wow,” Peridot accepts the peculiarly shaped box with a raised brow, “thanks?”

Steven snickers playfully at her confusion.

“It’s your Valentine’s gift, Peri!” He explains. “Yours has CPH stickers in it, but they usually have, like, candy.”

Peridot rattles the box next to her head, shifting the sticker sheets around.

“But isn’t this one of your weird human traditions?” She asks. “Something, something anatomically incorrect hearts? Sometime, something romance?”

“Yes,” he smiles gently, “but also no. You can give them to your friends and family, too—the people that you love.”

Oh, she sees now.

“Wow,” she blushes furiously, “thanks.”

Chapter Text

On every corner of Homeworld, every stars-forsaken nook and cranny, Steven Universe’s smiling face flashes up at Aquamarine with proclamations about Era Three. 

Love, peace, and restoration will now reign in the galaxy forever.

“It’s sickening,” she harrumphs, squinting at the holoboard. “I went through all that trouble to bring that creature to the Diamonds, and now he’s our darling, earthling prince.”

She supposes she shouldn’t be saying this aloud, but she doesn’t care.

There’s only a Ruby nearby.

“Tell me about it,” the Ruby growls threateningly. “If it were up to me, he’d be cracked for treason!”

“Yes, precisely!

 

Chapter Text

Peedee used to think that Steven was just a goofy kid.

This wasn’t a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, he used to be jealous of him, so light and so carefree, always hanging around the Boardwalk, demanding the bits.

The bits.

The bits.

But here lately, Peedee’s had to re-examine his biases in light of new information.

“Yo, Steven,” he says, passing the carton of crumbs over, “you okay?”

His friend smiles tiredly, the unsubtle lines beneath his eyes creasing.

“Beyond the fact that my mom might’ve been a war criminal?” He chuckles. “Sure, sure…”

Chapter Text

After Spinel, Connie returns to space camp and dreams of irradiated ooze.

She treats the anti-grav simulator as though it’s a training session, twisting through the atmosphere with all the litheness of Stevonnie and concentrated seriousness of Pearl.

It pays off.

She gets full marks on her progress report and congratulatory texts from her parents.

So proud of you, honey, Mom writes.

We hope you’re having fun up there! Dad adds.

Connie blinks.

Uncomfortable.

Self-conscious.

Confused.

Somewhere between returning to an apocalyptically wasted Beach City and seeing a nearly dying Steven, she’d forgotten that camp was supposed to be fun.

 

Chapter Text

The first day of cleanup goes decently enough.

They remove the majority of the injector fluid, but the damage done to the city isn’t so easily mitigated, no matter how many times Steven kisses the ground.

It’s not for a lack of trying, though.

It takes Garnet physically carrying him back to the beach—despite his best protestations—to make him quit for the night.

“Target delivered,” she grins, dropping him on the sand.

“Excellent,” Pearl says primly, passing him a slice of pizza.

Excellent,” Amethyst mocks Pearl in perfect imitation.

Steven can’t help but laugh.

He loves these fools.

Chapter Text

It’s a beautiful night on Earth, with all the stars hanging from the sky like lanterns. Beneath them, Peridot, Lapis, and Bismuth stretch out on top of the roof they just finished constructing, their limbs sore, their mouths arranged in smiles.

Because they’re doing what they all once thought to be impossible.

They’re building a new home.

“We’re on the last stretch now,” Bismuth effuses, her voice all delight. “Just a few more residential buildings and maybe that basketball field Steven keeps talking about.”

“Nyeh,” Peridot chimes in, “wasn’t it a football court?”

“Yeah,” Lapis snorts, “something like that anyway.”

Chapter Text

At the end of a long work day, Kiki wipes down tables. Gunga, who had been enjoying her dinner in one of the booths, smiles at her fondly.

“Kiki!”

“Yes, Gunga?” 

“Now, tell me, why aren’t you out there with the rest of the younglings your age, Facechatting or rollerblading or whatever else the youth does these days?”

“I’m working,” she laughs, tender and amused. “I have responsibilities, you know.”

“And are you happy working?” Gunga presses, her voice suddenly serious. “Is this what you want to do, child?”

“Yeah,” Kiki replies softly, “for right now, this is perfectly enough.”

Chapter Text

“You look like you need a drink,” Vidalia says sympathetically, joining Amethyst on the couch.

Dude, you don’t even know.”

“Well, you’ve got two options, my friend. I can go raid Yellowtail’s fridge for a six-pack now or after you’ve spilled your guts a little. Pick your poison.”

“After.”

“Good choice. Now spill.

Amethyst plays a little with her hands, wringing them into awful knots.

“Steven… he… he turned into a monster, V. He’d just been holding so much crap in for so long, and we noticed, but we didn’t… I…”

The silence stretches thin.

I… wasn’t there for him.”

Chapter Text

Her hands clasped behind her back, White Diamond stares at Homeworld through the geometric windows in her chamber, seeing nothing, even though the vista offers a sprawling city, a changing one.

Constantly evolving.

Becoming better.

Reformed.

White had assumed she was reformed. After all, these past two years have taught her much in the ways of goodness and kindness.

(She’s relinquished all of her colonies! She’s given her body to gemkind!)

But after witnessing Steven transform into a monster who is partially her own making, White’s gem aches with the guilt of it all.

She loves Steven.

She hurt him.

Chapter Text

In an endeavor to introduce the wider world to gems, Sardonyx hosts Sardonyx Tonight to an audience who isn’t just a construction of her own head, broadcasting on TubeTube.

Steven reads the comments she receives aloud—though admittedly, he goes to great lengths to ignore the thirst posts (“giant lady owo”).

“Ooh,” he exclaims, “here’s one from someone who doesn’t think you’re CGI!"

“Let us hear,” Sardonyx says warmly, holding him aloft in her hand.

“‘Sardonyx’s monologue was the first time I’ve laughed all week... thank you so much, Yard Sard.’”

Oho,” she murmurs, blushing, overwhelmed, “that is simply marvelous.”

Chapter Text

In August, Steven’s journey through California takes him to a diner in a little seaside town, where his booth is adjacent to two fishermen-looking brothers.

While waiting for his pancakes, he groggily listens to their playful banter.

“Mabel won’t believe us when we tell her we saw a unicorn,” the one in the red beanie laughs.

“That’s because we didn’t,” the other protests. “It was some sort of anomalous equine with a protruding gemstone embedded in its head.”

“That’s a unicorn, Ford!”

“Arguably—“

But Steven has to turn around at this point.

“I’m sorry—what was that about a gemstone?”

Chapter Text

“I worry about him,” Greg admits painfully, “all the time.”

He and Andy are sitting on the porch, sipping on coffee from the Big Donut, and all Greg can think about is how he never taught his kid how to use a coffee pot.

Does Steven even know how to access an ATM?

Can he change his oil if he has to?

God, neither of them had car insurance ’til a few months ago.

“Yer a parent, ya lump,” Andy shrugs kindly, patting Greg’s shoulder. “That’s yer job. If you weren’t worried all the time, I’d be worried ‘bout you.”

Chapter Text

It’s a tense situation.

There are runners on both second and third, but her team is two strikes in.

Opal contemplates the elongated bat in her hand and half-wishes that it was a bow.

“You ready to rumble, Cool Cat?” Sunstone grins at her from the pitcher’s mound, their flames dazzlingly bright. “I’ve got a wicked curveball.”

“I suppose,” she smiles slightly, positioning the bat over her shoulder.

Sunstone doesn’t hesitate, lobbing the ball with inhuman intensity, and Opal responds with equivalent force.

Needless to say, the ball ends up somewhere in the ocean.

Opal leaps across the bases, laughing.

Chapter Text

With access to technology from Homeworld, a neatly articulated blueprint eventually becomes a skeleton becomes a sleek, beautiful ship, built by Pearl and christened the Skydancer by Steven.

On her maiden voyage, she soars through a galaxy of rainbow-colored stars.

Pearl glances over at the passenger seat where Steven sits, not quite a kid anymore, but not entirely an adult either, his pink space suit adorned with stickers, his eyes universe wide.

“I’ve been to space before,” he whispers, “but never like this, Pearl. Never just to enjoy it.”

“It’s extraordinary,” she agrees quietly, her voice tender, capacious with love.

Chapter Text

“Do you think they would show us mercy, Rose?” Bismuth asks, fervent, vehement, feverish in the glow of the forge.

“Do you not think that they’d shatter us at the first opportunity they got?” She continues, raking one exasperated hand through her hair, clenching the Breaking Point with the other. “Stars, Garnet and Biggs almost got captured last week on that reconnaissance mission!”

“But shattering is wrong, Bismuth,” Rose says. Rose pleads. “No matter who it is—even the Diamonds. They’re gems, too. Just like us. They—”

“They’re nothing like me,” Bismuth interrupts darkly. “Or you.”

Rose’s gem aches violently.

Chapter Text

At Beach-a-Palooza, Smoky Quartz does a standup act, describing their day in the funniest way imaginable to an audience who can’t get enough.

“And that, folks, is how I ended up buying a dozen donut bags just to prove a point…”

In the front row, Pearl leans over to Garnet, chuckling.

“Stars, they’re excellent!” she exclaims. “I’ve never laughed so hard in my life!”

“And they’re enjoying themselves,” Garnet murmurs. “It’s been awhile since I’ve seen Smoky so happy.”

Pearl, quietly, so that no one else can hear: “Therapy must be helping Steven.”

“Mhm.”

Garnet’s smile bespeaks her overwhelming relief.

Chapter Text

“Blue?”

“… yes, Pink?”

Though the Diamond barely looks up from her screen, Pink Diamond can tell that she’s listening from the way that her long chin tilts slightly in her direction.

Good.

Because she has an important question to ask.

“Why does Yellow wear her gloves all the time?”

Pink has gloves, too, but they’re not like Yellow’s—stiff and armor-like. Plus, she takes hers off from time to time so she can feel flowers on her fingertips…

Blue Diamond frowns thoughtfully.

“Yellow’s touch is electric, you know. When we were younger Diamonds… she couldn’t touch anything without hurting it…”

Chapter Text

Jasper eyes the structure on the picnic table with increasing doubt.

It’s obviously one of those stupid human foods—three boxes of differing sizes stacked on top of each other pyramidically. 

The edges are lined in… pink.

“It’s cake,” Amethyst explains. “It’s, like, something you eat when you’re celebrating something.”

“Does it give you special powers?”

“Nah, but it sure does taste good.”

Jasper stares at her incredulously.

“Gems don’t eat.”

Some do,” Amethyst counters, “if they give themselves a digestive system.”

She pats her stomach proudly.

Or,” she grins at Jasper, “if they fuse with someone who already has…”

Chapter Text

When the Rose Quartzes return to Earth to visit Steven—unaware that he’s gone—Pearl isn’t ready for them, least of all the Rose who looks like her, with those big, doleful eyes and that quiet air of feeling like she doesn’t belong.

Because now that she thinks back on it, her Rose bore that indefinable awkwardness, too.

She just disguised it better.

“I’m sorry,” not-Rose mumbles when she’s out of earshot from her companions.

She doesn’t clarify what she’s apologizing for, and Pearl intuits that it’s her entire existence.

“For… what?” Pearl whispers.

Gentle.

(Undone.)

“You’ve done nothing wrong.”

Chapter Text

As the Sun Incinerator prepares to enter Earth’s atmosphere, Lars’s nerves begin to get the best of him.

He paces the tiled flooring in front of Fluorite, whose sympathetic gaze follows his frenetic gait.

“My parents are going to freak,” he states factually. “I’m pink and undead, and I’ve got a scar across my eye. They won’t be able to handle it.”

He pauses, running an exasperated hand through his hair.

“Heck, I could barely handle it.”

“But… Captain… Lars…” Fluorite replies slowly, her smile all kindness, “you… did… eventually… It… might… be… hard… at… first… but… love… always… transcends.”

Chapter Text

Connie props her phone up on the desk as Steven’s face comes into view.

“You know,” she begins wryly, “you’re probably immune to the virus.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Steven replies, chuckling beneath his mask, “but I should probably model good behavior anyway.”

“Excellent point…” She smiles, a little charmed, a little weary.

March has been a long month already.

“How about you?” Steven asks. “How’re you holding up?”

Connie momentarily freezes.

She misses her school, and she misses her friends.

She misses her mom, who’s been living at a hotel, working overtime…

“Not entirely well… but I’m… I’m coping.”

Chapter Text

“Listen, kid,” Vidalia says, hoisting Onion into her arms, “you know me. I’m not about stepping on your groove… but, like, every once in awhile, can you shoot me a text, so I know you’re a-okay?”

Onion cocks his head, understanding registering in his dark eyes.

“Mah, mah, mah?”

“Yeah, bud,” she admits softly. “When we couldn’t find you for those couple of days, I nearly lost my crap.”

“Mah, mah.” Onion pats her cheek consolingly. “Mah, mah, mah?”

“Yes,” she laughs, “of course, you can still hang out in the arcade machines—just don’t let Mr. Smiley catch ya.”

Chapter Text

One Saturday morning, Steven swallows his fears and clambers into a small fishing boat with Andy.

Temporarily paralyzed, shamefully undone, he watches his shadow elongate across the water and can’t help but think about the last time he was in the ocean.

He was fifty-feet tall, and the waves thrashed around his tail.

Steven shivers against the cold.

He shivers with his own phantom monstrosity.

And his uncle kindly tells him to row at his own pace.

“I used to love the ocean,” Steven murmurs painfully.

“And maybe you will again some day,” Andy replies.

“S’okay to take things slow.”

Chapter Text

One starless night, sitting on the porch steps of their new home, Bismuth and Lapis trade war stories.

It’s a way of coping.

Of contending with all that they’d lost.

“I almost got away,” Lapis murmurs. “But when I was getting ready to fly, someone poofed me with a hard blow… and that was it. That was all…”

Bismuth shakes her head sadly, reaching over and patting the gem on her back.

“I’m sorry, Lapis.”

“It’s fine,” she shrugs. “It’s not like you did it.”

“Maybe not… but I poofed a lotta gems... I've gotta apologize to someone for it.”

Chapter Text

Mega Pearl sits on the edge of Rose’s fountain, daring to dip her toes beneath the smooth surface of the petal-strewn, ambrosial waters.

The sunset glazes the cove around them in dusty ambers, in rose-tinted golds.

“She used to love this place,” Pearl explains softly. “For what it represented. Healing. Compassion. Catharsis from pain.”

The fusion stares downwards at her reflection, at the crack bifurcating her eye, and smiles sadly.

“She never did like to see gems hurt,” she agrees with herself. “Even back then. She cried so terribly when she hurt me and promised never to do it again.”

Chapter Text

“Do you think it would be possible?” Yellow Diamond presses insistently. “To put a shattered gem back together again?”

White frowns gently, sympathy softening those star-silver eyes.

Yellow almost wants to melt into the ground with the uncomfortable vulnerability of it all.

The guilt.

The embarrassment.

The shame.

“In theory,” White begins tentatively, “if you had every shard accounted for… if they were all arranged in the correct order—”

“So you think it’s doable?” Yellow brusquely interrupts.

“That,” White murmurs. “I don’t know. It would be difficult…”

Yellow winces immediately, preparing for disappointment.

“… but you’ve always liked a challenge, Sunlight.”

Chapter Text

Bored, uninhibited, curious, and a little mischievous, Amethyst throws her arms around Peridot’s neck to better peer over her shoulder.

“Whatcha doin’, Peridactyl?”

Gah!” Peridot startles immediately, dropping her pen beneath the table. “Nothing! Something. Drawing. Writing. It’s nothing particularly excellent. Just an approximation of what is technically called a storyboard. If you haven’t heard of it before.”

She laughs and picks up the pen for Peridot.

“‘Course I’ve heard of storyboards before, you weirdo.”

“Yes, well…”

“S’looking pretty good so far,” Amethyst smiles, and Peridot’s eyes expand, universe-wide.

Really? 

“Yeah, man,” Amethyst nods seriously. “You’ve got something special here.”

Chapter Text

Accidents happen all the time during Little Homeworld’s construction.

A crowbar that someone dropped from twenty stories above lands on Lapis’s gem, and the resulting crack is heard for miles.

Steven heals her with a shivering, lick-shined palm.

“Are you okay?” Lapis asks as she tentatively tests her wings.

“Me?!” He exclaims incredulously. “I should be asking the same thing of you! You’re the one who got cracked. Again.”

“Which isn’t ideal,” she admits gingerly, frowning, “but… you know, it’s different this time.”

“In what way?”

“Well… this time around, I have friends who’ll pick me up after I fall.”

Chapter Text

Hey.

When Holly Blue finally glances up, she sees that that mouthy Amethyst from Earth is sitting on the chair next to hers, staring at her sympathetically.

“Don’t you have a limbo line to be in?” Holly sneers.

“Just takin’ a break,” Amethyst shrugs. “‘Sides, I got a lot on my mind, too.”

“Your entire world was uprooted?” She sniffs. “Forcing you to interrogate your purpose in life?”

“Nah,” Amethyst replies, staring at some Rose Quartzes playing by the water, “not today… but I know that’s a hard feeling, Holly-B. It’ll pass eventually.”

“Unlikely.”

“Dude,” she chuckles. “I’m living proof.”

Chapter Text

Grains falling between her fingertips as she clenches her fists in the sand, Garnet thinks about all the signs that she missed.

Steven’s quietness.

And his anger.

His unspeakable, unbearable pain.

If she looks back—months ago, years—she can see every implicit warning sign written across his face, the constellation of hurts that she had always envisioned would resolve themselves in the futures she had already seen.

(What is the future but an eventual past after all?)

Somewhere, in the middle of all things, Garnet had forgotten to let the present simply be the present.

Steven is hurting.

Now.

Chapter Text

When Alexandrite comes together for the first time to fight a corrupted gem, tears stream beneath her visor.

Because she isn’t Obsidian.

And she never will be again.

All strength, all might, all grace, all silence, she dispatches of the gem easily enough, bubbling her before falling apart at her green and magenta seams.

They can hardly look at each other—Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl.

Garnet crosses over to the floating bubble and taps it away, staring emptily at the spot where it disappears.

Amethyst swipes her knuckles across her cheeks.

And Pearl buries her face in her hands, shivering.

Chapter Text

At Steven’s fifteenth birthday party—held in the square of the newly inaugurated Little Homeworld—Steven and Connie dance to one of the only slow songs in Sadie and the Killers’ repertoire, foot over foot, hands intertwined.

It’s no wonder that pink light washes all over them.

Stevonnie emerges, laughing.

“Goodness gracious!” Connie’s dad exclaims, stopping in the middle of waltzing with Mom, accidentally treading on her toes. “A teenager!”

Granted, Mom doesn’t seem to notice because her eyes comically expand before she quickly recovers herself with a sudden and unsubtle cough.

“So,” she smiles weakly, “you must be Stevonnie.”

Chapter Text

As luck would have it, Kevin’s stupidly flashy sports car pulls up next to the Dondai at the gas station one day. 

When he gets out, he makes a beeline straight for Steven.

“WTF, Universe?” He begins unceremoniously. “I thought you were smaller.”

“Hi, Kevin,” Steven frowns. “I guess I’ve grown since you last saw me.”

“Cool,” Kevin shrugs. “Listen, quick, I need your advice.”

“What?! Mine?

“Yes,” he nods seriously. “Sabina said she’d give us another shot, and I don’t wanna screw things up this time… I need your help, Universe.”

With desperation in his eyes, he adds, “Please.

Chapter Text

“Stars above!” Yellow exclaims. “What is that?”

“It’s a Luxpanthera,” White Diamond explains, fondly stroking the panther’s head.

Said panther growls halfheartedly.

“When I was first colonizing Crete, we would used to get into the most lovely, little territorial disputes.”

“But you called him an old friend,” Blue murmurs faintly.

“I’m not sure she knows what that word means,” Steven grumbles under his breath.

“I think I shall name him Panther,” White says warmly. “Creative, is it not?”

“No,” Yellow immediately replies.

“Hm!” Blue smiles weakly.

And Steven doesn’t have any room to say anything—he named his lion Lion.

Chapter Text

“This is Steven’s X-Ray,” Priyanka says, pointing at the place where his gem is embedded. 

For his part, though, Greg can’t tear his eyes away from all the lines fracturing his son’s body.

“From what I can tell, his gem instantly heals all of his physical wounds, but the gem itself is a receptacle of memories… it doesn’t forget anything that has been done to it.”

“What do I do, Doc?” He asks desperately. “How can I help him?”

“Therapy’s a good start,” Priyanka replies firmly. “He has a lot to unpack.”

Her eyes soften.

Incrementally.

“Perhaps you all do.”

Chapter Text

In the nearly articulated facade that is Pearl’s mind, Pearl stands next to herself.

Well, not exactly herself but the part of herself who is in charge of inventory management.

Both of them are staring at the extensive catalog of paper scraps, flipped receipts, and sticky notes she’s collected.

“You have to do something with these, you know,” Curator Pearl singsongs patronizingly. “I can’t organize these forever. I’m running out of ’s’ entries between Sasha, Savannah, Stella, Sydney—“

“Yes, I get your point,” Pearl replies crossly, reaching up to pluck a paper out of the air with trembling fingers.

(S.)

Chapter Text

“Gems!”

When Rose flurries into the Temple’s entrance late that night, there are stars in her eyes.

“‘Lo,” Garnet says.

“Rose!” Pearl immediately perks up. “You’re back from your mission!

“And by mission,” Amethyst snorts, “she means dinner with Greg.”

Rose ignores the venomous glares that the two exchange.

“Do you all remember William Dewey?”

“Weird dude,” Garnet nods.

“Charmingly different,” Pearl hums delicately.

“Well, I just met his great-grandson many times over! A little baby named Buck!”

“Like the deer?” Amethyst grins.

“Like the currency,” Rose smiles fondly. “He favors William, but get this, girls—he’s also entirely new.”

Chapter Text

As they navigate through Homeworld’s underbelly, Lars can’t help but notice how many strange holes pockmark the canyon faces.

Most are relatively uniform.

Neat.

Smoothly hewn.

Others are—

“Defective exits,” one Rutile supplies, noticing his gaze.

“We emerged from a hole like one of these,” the other Rutile finishes.

“So that there must mean there are more Off-Colors, right?” Lars asks. “There are so many of these…”

But he trails off at the expression on Rhodonite’s face.

“There used to be more of us,” she offers, ancient sadness in her eyes. “But this isn’t the first time we’ve escaped drones.”

Chapter Text

As they walk along the Boardwalk together, Rainbow’s umbrella shades them from the dazzlingly bright sun.

“Well,” they smile, “what do you say, love? Would you like to be a part of the video? Steven thought you would be the perfect fit for the job.”

Onion cocks his head curiously at the fusion before pointing at himself and them.

Rainbow catches his drift easily enough.

“I’d be your babysitter,” they nod, “but only in the video. It’s what performers in the theatrical world call acting.”

“Mah, mah, mah?”

“Stars, no!” Rainbow clutches their heart. “You cannot say that on camera!”

Chapter Text

“Good morning, Universe,” Bill smiles wearily as Steven enters the Big Donut. “The usual?”

“Yup!”

And with that, he neatly scoops two chocolate donuts into a bag.

“It’s strange,” he sighs. “Just weeks ago, I would wake up in my beautiful office, thinking of fresh ways to help the people.”

“You would wake up in your office?!” Steven asks, a question which Bill ignores.

“And now… even more strangely… I am helping the people,” he finishes, passing the bag across the counter. “Kind of. Sort of.”

“Small kindnesses are still kindnesses,” Steven replies sagely. “And they’re just as important, too.”

Chapter Text

Quick!” Pearl cries, frantically hitting Garnet on the arm. “Someone grab the camcorder!”

“One sec,” Greg yelps, fumbling with his old camera with sweaty fingers. “I got it! I just gotta—“

“He’s going to fall off before you figure it out,” Garnet says, smiling wryly.

“Don’t say that!” Pearl and Greg shriek at the same time.

But sure enough, just as little Steven makes it up the slope on bicycle Amethyst, a pebble trips them up, and Amethyst quickly shapeshifts into a pillow for him to safely land on.

“Whoops, my bad, Ste-man.”

Steven giggles just as Greg presses play.

Chapter Text

“This week on Keep Beach City Weird’s exclusive documentary series, we journey into Little Homeschool, where the Crystal Gems hold something they call geminars,” Ronaldo begins, standing in front of the camcorder. “These are not extraterrestrial sacrifices, I have been informed, but actual classes.”

He makes air quotes around “classes.”

“Joining us now is Peridot, who holds geminars on responsible social media use and gardening. Peridot, tell us more, please.”

“Well, where to begin?” Peridot smiles wryly. “There’s so much to learn here at Little Homeschool, whether you’re a gem, human, or occasionally sentient plant life—”

WHAAAAAT? SENTIENT PLANT LIFE?!”

Chapter Text

One cycle, rain pours from Blue Diamond’s clouds, flooding her entire chamber.

She tries to stop herself.

Stars knows she loathes herself for even daring to be sad.

Blue doesn’t get to be sad anymore.

Not about anything.

Especially not about her.

“Blue, let me in.” A voice that can only belong to one gem stands behind her locked doors.

Imperial.

Attentive.

Caring.

Yellow,” Blue barely whispers, “it’s a mess in here… you don’t have to—“

“But I want to,” Yellow gently insists. “You shouldn’t have to be sad alone.”

“I shouldn’t be sad at all.”

“Sometimes, it happens anyway.”

Chapter Text

Long after Steven has fallen asleep, Pearl and Lion stare each other down in the darkness, separated only by six-feet of flooring.

Pearl wraps her arms around her legs, the fingers of her right hand trembling where they curl around her left-side wrist.

“I’m… sorry,” she whispers unhappily. “I behaved poorly tonight… and it was unfair to Steven… unfair to you.”

You’re only a lion, she thinks dismissively.

But then she corrects herself.

Condemns herself.

Rose would have loved him all the same.

“I’m sorry,” she says again. “You must have loved her, too.”

Lion hums softly in unmistakable agreement.

Chapter Text

In the last few weeks before the baby is due, Rose spends time in her room, making wishes for her child.

“Creation can be overwhelming,” she reminds the room, her palms resting on her belly. “So when they come in for the first time, be gentle with them if you can.”

Even though the room doesn't respond, she’s sure that it hears her; clouds drift around her ankles, soft and mild.

“And if they’re ever sad,” she murmurs, “please let them know that they are loved.”

I love you, the room echoes in her own voice.

“Yes, just like that.”

 

Chapter Text

“That’s Obsidian!” Steven insists, pointing to the illustration in the fairytale anthology. Towering over a medieval-looking homestead, a giant woman with multiple arms sits on the hillside, one set of hands folded over the pommel of her sword.

“She even has a sword and everything!” Connie exclaims, looking between the book and Garnet expectantly.

Mmmmm,” she hums, “I don’t know. Obsidian’s lava markings are a burnt orange color.”

“It’s a charcoal sketch,” Steven quickly adds.

“Mmmmm.” Garnet tilts her head, still looking unconvinced. “Obsidian would never sit like that.”

“You’re sitting like that right now!” Connie shakes her head, laughing.

Chapter Text

What?!” Jenny nearly rear-ends the Dondai in front of her in her haste to glance in the rearview mirror, where Buck is looking away. “You’re going to med school?”

“Don’t perceive me,” he mumbles. “I’m just as embarrassed about it as you are.”

“I’m not—I mean, we’re not—“

“We’re not embarrassed, dude,” Sour Cream thankfully interrupts, facing Buck with widened eyes. “We’re just, like, shocked. 

“And proud,” Jenny adds meekly.

“Yeah,” Sour Cream nods. “That too. Is this something your dad is making you do?”

“Nah,” Buck shrugs, grinning slightly. “I just wanna help people out one day. Unironically.”

Chapter Text

Bismuth watches Steven flounce away to the next Little Homeworld project that he’s checking on, her arms still tingling with the warmth of his hug.

“I dunno how he does it,” she murmurs, bending over the sawhorse again.

“Skips?” Lapis deadpans.

“Gives great hugs?” Peridot suggests.

“Gives great hugs to gems who’ve hurt him,” Bismuth replies, pulling a self-conscious hand across her neck.

“I know the feeling,” Lapis says. “I broke his dad’s leg.”

“And I tried to kill him.” Peridot waves her wrench. “Multiple times!”

Bismuth chuckles.

“Some club we are, huh?”

“Membership is free upon redemption,” Peridot grins.

Chapter Text

Greg and Pearl tune their basses on the deck.

It’s a weekly tradition nowadays.

“I was thinking,” Greg begins, half-jokingly, “maybe it’d be fun to pick up a few gigs? Nothing too big—a restaurant here, a club there, a casino elopement if I can swing one. Those were always something.”

Pearl shakes her head fondly.

“I remember when Rose used to drag us to those. I hated those poker games we played.”

“You and me both,” Greg snorts. “Garnet cleaned our clocks every time.”

“The music wasn’t… unpleasant, though,” she smiles. “It’s not a bad idea, Greg.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.”

Chapter Text

In the pool, Pink paddles over to Blue Diamond and clambers into her lap.

“I’m bored,” she proclaims.

“Go play with your Pearl,” Blue suggests.

“But she isn’t allowed in the extraction chambers!”

“Precisely,” Yellow mutters from somewhere behind them. “You should join her.”

Pink ignores this unsubtle hint.

“What I need is a fellow Diamond to have fun with, someone who’ll play with me in the pool—like you and Yellow sometimes do.”

Blue splutters incoherently.

“We do not—“

“You’ll be waiting for the next billion years,” Yellow says, very loudly. “Diamonds only emerge from supernovas under extreme pressure.”

Chapter Text

After wandering the beach for an hour, Pearl finally finds Amethyst sitting behind a large rock, drawing figures in the sand with a stick.

“Rose is looking for you,” she says, lowering herself to the ground. She pulls her knees to her chest and holds herself together as best as she can. “She said that you ran off in the middle of a conversation about the baby.”

“So what?” Amethyst mutters defensively. “You gonna lecture me about it?”

“No,” Pearl returns quietly. “I just thought I would join you.”

Amethyst blinks, the hardness melting from her eyes.

“Grab a stick.”

Chapter Text

The Little Homeworld theatre is a collaborative project.

Sugilite builds and Rainbow Quartz directs, perched on top of her shoulder. 

“C’mon, sweet thang,” Sugilite laughs warmly. “You’re telling me that there’s not room in the budget for a little more color?”

“Well, theoretically…” Rainbow begins uncertainly.

“All I’m sayin’ is that this is a theatre, RQ, but right now, it looks like one of those fancy-schmancy museums that Pearl likes.”

“There’s nothing wrong with museums!” 

“Theoretically,” Sugilite grins.

“I do see your point, though,” they sigh. “It does need more pizzazz, doesn’t it?”

“Less Victorian and more Minaj,” Sugilite agrees.

Chapter Text

When Mr. Fryman passes over the bits, Greg notices that he’s received more than usual.

“Hey, Fryman”—he pushes the tray back—“y’gave me a little too much.”

“Nah, Universe,” the vendor shrugs gently, nudging the bits towards him again. “I gave you just enough…”

A pause.

Fryman coughs into his arm.

“I’m sorry to hear about your girlfriend… S’never easy to lose someone you love.”

Greg swallows thickly, suddenly sick.

Grieved.

Trying his best not to be undone.

Fryman’s own wife died a year ago.

“I got old baby clothes if ya need them,” he continues softly. “Just holler.”

Chapter Text

Jasper lingers in her chair long after the weekly geminar on fusion is over, her elbows digging sharply into her knees.

And Garnet, noticing, engages, planting herself across the former Homeworld soldier.

Quiet.

Commiserating.

Present.

There.

“Your lesson today,” Jasper mutters gruffly, never looking up, “it made me realize how I was never happy being Malachite… I was lost in her.”

“And being lost in someone and being happy are not the same thing,” Garnet finishes softly.

“Yeah,” she exhales harshly, “that.”

Jasper clenches her color-smeared hands.

“I’m gonna miss her…” She finally whispers.

“I gotta move past her anyway.”

Chapter Text

Stretched out across the chaise lounge, his hands folded across his stomach, Steven closes his eyes against the surfacing memory.

“When I was younger,” he begins, “I used to see moms pushing their kids on the playground swings and wish I had mine.”

He clears his throat and clarifies himself quietly.

“My mom, I mean.”

“And now?” Dr. Yeoh asks softly.

Now?” Steven chuckles humorlessly. “After everything I know she’s done?”

The smile slides from his face. 

“… I… I still sorta do, Doc,” he winces. “It’s messed up, I know.”

“It’s human, Steven,” she corrects him gently. “It’s entirely human.”

Chapter Text

Kofi!

The restauranteur nearly jumps out of his apron when he sees that his mother is suddenly at his side, having snuck up on him while he was leaning against the counter, watching the girls.

Sitting in a booth and having dinner together, they look so much like their mother that he could cry.

“Mother!” He scolds. “You scared me!”

“Good,” she laughs warmly. “Now go over there and tell your daughters that you love them, that you’re proud of them.”

“They know that,” Kofi mutters self-consciously.

“Tell it to them again anyway, child. Words of love are never unneeded.”

Chapter Text

Pearl cradles her temple between her index finger and her thumb, staring incredulously at the guilty conspirators sitting across from her—a six-year old and a six-thousand year old.

“I sent you to the grocery store for milk,” she sighs. “Please explain to me why you’re now permanently banned from Wally’s.”

“Um,” Steven blushes, “we were playin’ knights.”

“Going on a quest together,” Garnet elaborates in her usual monotone.

“And we could only step on the blue squares.”

“The white tiles were lava.”

“I didn’t see that old man.”

I did, but I assumed Steven running into him was improbable.”

Chapter Text

Marty flakes on Sour Cream’s eighteenth birthday rave.

It isn’t a surprise to anyone, but Steven knows it still stings.

“When I was a kid, I used to have this hyped up image of my dad, y’know?” Sour Cream mutters. “He was a hotshot manager for important people… I thought it was enough that he’d send me money on my birthdays.”

“But it wasn’t enough—was it?”

Sour Cream can only shake his head.

“We all want our parents to be… perfect,” Steven says quietly. “My therapist says it’s okay to be disappointed when the painting doesn’t match the frame.”

Chapter Text

“Shep,” they extend a hand across the counter.

“Lars,” the pink boy in a leather jacket and apron briefly grasps it.

And then, just as immediately, they break apart, awkwardness between them, Sadie.

Sadie’s told Shep so many different stories about Lars Barriga, all of them contradictory. 

He could be a real asshat.

He used to call her Player Two.

He died once.

He now runs a pastry shop.

“Listen,” Lars mumbles, his face flushed, “first cake’s on me. Pick one.”

“Hey, no,” they shake their head. “I can’t—“

“You make Sadie smile,” he insists softly. “First cake’s on me.”

Chapter Text

In the end, it’s Peridot’s fault that there’s an intergalactic social media app.

Gemini. 

Humans and gems from Earth to Homeworld can post wacky videos of themselves on their feeds.

Each video posted earns users points.

And if someone accumulates enough points, they can get cool stickers on their profile.

“Spinel has over a thousand points already,” Peridot laments as the gem’s latest funny video plays on loop. “I coded the app. It should be me in first place!”

“Yeah," Amethyst snorts, "but you don’t have the Big D’s on retainer lip-syncing to show tunes. She’s got you beat, sis.”

Chapter Text

When Steven is six, he starts to realize that he’s different from the other kids on the playground.

No one else has a gem in their belly.

He has a dad and three... well... he doesn’t know what they are, really.

He just knows they’re not his moms.

(His mom is a pretty painting in the van.)

“Your family’s weird, Steven,” Peedee says, gently elbowing him.

Steven turns around to see Amethyst and Garnet on the seesaw, far too big to be allowed, with Pearl standing between them, looking exasperated.

(Smiling against her will.)

“Yeah,” Steven laughs. “That’s my family.”

Chapter Text

“Now... Larimar,” Harold begins uncertainly, scratching his head. The little creature sitting in the chair across from his desk smiles at him. “It says here on your resume”—which isn’t a resume so much as it is a paper covered in what he recognizes to be blue crayon—“that you used to make ice sculptures on Homeworld?”

“Yes,” the gem sighs fondly. “I would sculpt pretty figures that would last the length of an entire ball!”

Daaaw,” he smiles. “That’s sweet.”

“Yes, but then they started melting and gems would slide everywhere,” she chuckles. “They screamed and screamed...”

What the—?!

Chapter Text

Blue and White Diamond occasionally traverse the palace gardens together, adoring all the pretty flowers that Pink once loved.

“Often times…” Blue frowns, gently lifting the head of a drooping hibiscus between her tall fingers. (She’ll apply one of Steven’s aural potions to it later. She’ll give it another chance to grow.) “…I think about the fact that I saw her once as Rose Quartz. Had Garnet not fused, I surely would have captured her… I may have even—”

“It didn’t occur, though, Moonlight,” White interrupts kindly. “We must necessarily atone for so many wrongs—why engender hypothetical new ones?”

Chapter Text

When Barb goes to deliver Greg’s mail—(he’s currently living outside of his girlfriend’s seaside cave?)—she’s treated to the most incredible sight.

Some fancy, schmancy alien lady with big hair and four eyes doin’ some sort of jazzercise routine in front of camcorder like she’s Jane Fonda; she’s even got the leg warmers.

“That’s it, loves,” she smiles. “Work those glutes!”

Greg, who’d somehow snuck up behind her, taps her on the shoulder.

“Universe!” She exclaims. “Jeez, y’scared me.”

“Sorry, Barb,” he chuckles. “That’s Rainbow… she’s doing exercise videos for Dewey’s charity auction.”

“What charity?” Barb snorts. “His VCR?”

Chapter Text

Connie’s mom is surprisingly gentle as she examines Steven’s back, her gloved fingers hovering over the knobs of his spine.

His shoulders stiffen with anticipation.

He clenches his fingers on his lap.

“They’re permanent,” she confirms quietly. When she comes back into his view, her dark brow is furrowed, pinched above her sorrowful eyes. “I’m so sorry, Steven.”

He briefly closes his eyes.

Exhales.

Somehow, he knew she was going to say that.

“When you transformed, your entire body was under so much duress,” she continues. “The wounds themselves are completely healed…”

“…but the scars remain,” Steven finishes dully, sniffing.

Chapter Text

Steven dozes fitfully in Garnet’s lap halfway between the Andromeda system and the Milky Way, lines beneath his closed eyes.

She threads her fingers through his hair.

Gently.

Gently.

Pearl wanders over—like she’s done every five minutes for the past hour—the ship on autopilot, its captain on autopilot, too.

“How is he?” She asks, wringing her fingers next to her stomach.

“I don’t know,” Garnet replies truthfully. “Here.”

Here ain’t the same thing as okay,” Amethyst calls from her seat. “Steven almost got killed ‘cuz of—“

She stops short, but the unspoken name stings them all anyway.

Rose.

Chapter Text

“Hold still,” Blue Pearl murmurs as she carefully drags the paintbrush across the canvas; in its wake, she leaves a curve of shimmering gold.

“You know,” Yellow replies, “I could get used to this—standing around for stars knows how long, looking magnificent.”

Blue reengages her brush in the paint, a wry smile drawing itself across corner of her mouth.

“That’s not all too different from these past hundreds of thousands of years, yes?”

It takes Yellow a moment to register what she just said.

When she does, she nearly falls off her plinth.

“Oh, stop it, you,” she laughs.

Chapter Text

The teenaged boys, one older and one a little younger, stretch out across the flatbed of Andy’s truck, hands on their bellies, an empty pizza box between them.

“Son, your hair needs a trim! Son, you need to study! Son, soda isn’t good for your teeth!” Greg rants, gesticulating each complaint with a shake of his hand. “Son, you won’t get into law school with a tattoo!”

“Yer parents are sticks in the mud,” Andy laughs, though his dark eyes are serious. “Don’t listen to ’em. Yer a good kid.”

“S’hard to tune them out,” Greg only says, quiet.

Tired.

Chapter Text

When Yellow Diamond begins pulls the Cluster apart, shard by unnaturally fused shard, she apologizes every time she so much as touches a facet.

Because she can feel them in her fingertips, the fragmented lights of this gem or that one, pulsing with fear, with sorrow, with rage.

Rage at having been torn apart.

Rage at having been put together.

(But not with herself—her independency lost, her corporeal form defiled, undone.)

“I’m sorry,” Yellow whispers, even though she knows it’s not sufficient.

“I’m so sorry,” she repeats anyway, and this is the Cluster’s right:

They do not forgive her.

Chapter Text

Before the Battle of the Ziggurat, Bismuth runs a check on everyone’s weapons.

She handles each sword, bow, dagger, and spear delicately—appraising it with an expert eye—and when she’s satisfied, hands it back to her fellow Gem, her friend, telling her to be safe out there.

Come back.

(In one piece, she doesn’t need to add.)

She spends the most time analyzing Biggs’s hammer.

“It’s too light,” she declares. “You should sit this one out ’til I can deck it out.”

But Biggs shakes her head, smiling sadly.

“Not subtle, Bis.”

“I know… I had to try, though.”

 

Chapter Text

Stevonnie sits their three parents down on the Maheswarans’ upholstered couch with the same air of Connie giving a presentation.

“Mom,” they nod seriously in Dr. Maheswaran’s direction. “Dad and Dad.”

Their dads shrug at each other as though to say, It’s your kid.

“Since I’m technically eighteen—” they begin.

“Here we go,” Mom mutters. “They’re going to ask for a motorcycle.”

“We’ll ride across that bridge when we get to it, honey,” Connie’s dad replies.

“—I want to see a PG-13 movie this Friday. I know I'm young, but…“

As the Maheswarans blink incredulously, Greg barely stifles a laugh.

Chapter Text

Standing in the colossal dome that used to be one of Era Two’s busiest harvesting centers, Sugilite feels diminished by the size of this edifice.

By the gross and brutal history.

“Are you serious, little man?” She asks, holding Steven up at eye level. “I can wreck this sh—“

Pearl, on ground level, coughs loudly.

“—uh, place?” Sugilite amends herself.

“Yup,” Steven returns, his dark eyes veering upwards to the mural of the three Diamonds on the ceiling, a smudge where his mother used to be. “We can put some shrapnel in the museum and leave the rest to history.”

Chapter Text

Sometimes, Padparadscha makes her way up to the viewing deck to gaze at the stars.

And often times, Lars joins her.

“Knock it off, Pad,” he says, stern but simultaneously gentle, “you’re not useless.”

“But I am, Captain Lars,” the little Sapphire replies serenely, as though she’s simply stating the weather. “My predictions don’t help anyone.”

“But you’re not just your predictions!” He insists. “They don’t make you you, Padparadscha.”

“They’re a part of me.”

“Yeah,” Lars agrees, “always—but you’re not defined by ‘em, you dork. And you’re not loved in spite of them either. We love you entirely.”

Chapter Text

When Pumpkin’s stem begins to gray around the edges, Garnet sits with Lapis and Peridot on the stoop outside their house and gives them the Talk.

“Aging is a strange concept to all of us,” she reminds them gently. “We’ve always been this way.”

“Unchanging,” Lapis murmurs.

“Mmm,” Garnet nods. “But the world we’ve chosen to love is different. Organic life grows… it gets older. So we have to be present for every moment.”

“There are so many bad moments,” Lapis says.

Peridot places a hand on her friend’s shoulder, tears in her eyes.

“But so many good ones, too.”

Chapter Text

During his stay on Homeworld, Steven introduced Yellow Diamond to something called “coffee,” and she has since made it her mission to share this elixir with White Diamond, too.

Suuuunlight,” White moans, “if I try one sip, will you leave me be about this… this—”

“—drink,” Yellow supplies.

“Yes!” White nods. “That!”

“I’ll never utter another word,” Yellow promises as she passes the goblet to her.

“Somehow, I highly disbelieve you.”

Still, she raises the rim to her mouth, and the hot liquid rushes past her lips—bitter but surprisingly rich.

Mmm…”

Yellow laughs in an I-told-you-so kind of way.

Chapter Text

Garnet folds her palms over Steven and Connie’s intertwined hands and pronounces them Mr. and Mrs. Universe-Maheswaran.

Steven leans in before she ever finishes saying, “You may now kiss the bride” as Connie laughs in surprise and delight.

“Excited much?” She smiles.

“You have no idea.”

The next few hours are a whirlwind and colorful blur.

There’s a lot of dancing and congratulations and tender hugs and cake-throwing for stars knows what reason.

“I’m sorry,” Steven chuckles in her ear. “I told everyone that you didn’t want a big wedding.”

“And I reminded them,” Connie grins, “that you absolutely did.”

Chapter Text

Volleyball perches lightly on the arm of the throne, hovering unobtrusively over Pearl’s shoulder as she knits.

Of course, though, it’s not a throne.

It’s a couch.

And people sit on couches just to relax, Pearl told her.

And relaxing is just doing nothing apparently.

Enjoying oneself and one’s newly begotten freedom.

“This… yarn material,” Volley begins, picking up one of the tightly coiled balls from Pearl’s basket, “what does it become when you’re through knitting?"

“Anything you’d like,” Pearl hums.

“That’s a big answer.”

Expansive.

Overwhelming.

Terrifying.

“I know,” Pearl smiles kindly. “That’s why I had to start small.”

Chapter Text

“No,” Kofi says stubbornly. “Absolutely not.”

Though Amethyst is far shorter than the man, she crosses her arms and stares him down like she’s six-feet tall anyway.

Dude, you haven’t even heard me out! Bixbite’s got, like, three-thousand years of chopping stuff up on her resume! That’s more than you can say!”

“You don’t chop a pizza,” he pouts. “You slice it.”

“Eh,” she waves a hand. “Slice it, dice it, chop it, eat it. S’all the same to customers here. We aren’t picky.”

“It’s true, Daddy,” Kiki snickers from behind the counter. “Amethyst shotguns her pizzas like they're burritos.”

Chapter Text

Steven?” Greg’s voice constricts as he fumbles around in the darkness for the lamp.

With a twist of the latch, he bathes the loft in a soft glow.

It’s nearly midnight.

Steven never calls at midnight.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, Dad!” He replies hastily. “Seriously… I just…”

But the pause that follows stretches the believability of that first claim.

“Steven?”

“I’m sorry. I know it’s stupid late, but I… I missed you, Dad. But I’m gonna hang up now because I’m bothering you and—“

“You’re not bothering me, Shtu-ball,” Greg cuts across him firmly.

Lovingly.

“I miss you too.”

 

Chapter Text

“Sometimes…” Steven begins slowly. “Sometimes… I get this feeling that my gem carries so much of my mom’s pain… I get flashes of her memories occasionally—little snippets—of the horrors she experienced.”

A slight, tortured beat.

He stares at the white tiles that pattern the ceiling in his therapist’s office.

“… or caused.”

“It’s not your pain to carry, Steven,” Dr. Yeoh reminds him gently.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “I’m sad that she had to carry it, though.”

“It’s a lot of weight.”

“Mhm. And she didn’t get the chance to forgive herself… that’s a chance everyone should get, I think.”

Chapter Text

In the dying sunlight, Blue Diamond stares upwards at the Tower—set to be demolished tomorrow—and Yellow stares at Blue, watching the way her thin brow furrows against an invisible memory or two or two-thousand.

“The view from that window was always nice,” she only offers.

She doesn’t clarify.

She doesn’t have to.

“We have differing opinions of what constitutes nice,” Yellow snorts, her own gaze flicking towards the lonely aperture. 

“Sunsets are nice.” She gestures at the honey glazed sky. “The window was—“

“—all we had in there,” Blue finishes quietly.

Yellow swallows painfully.

She grabs Blue’s hand.

Chapter Text

“Real talk, Mr. Smiley,” Jamie begins, “I need a leading man for my upcoming musical comedy, and Steven says that you’re the man.”

“What?” Harold can’t help but laugh—incredulous, amused, intrigued. “Me? I don’t have time to be practicing for a musical. I’ve got an understaffed theme park to barely keep afloat.”

Au contraire!” Jamie smirks, “I know that you’re perfectly staffed now. There was someone who wasn’t you manning the admissions stand this morning. That hasn’t happened in years now.”

Ten to be exact.

“Dammit, Jamie,” he groans as the kid laughs his ass off.

“Check and mate!”

Chapter Text

Garnet sees the future stretch far beyond the time in which she’s setting up obstacles for the Test that Steven is doomed to win. 

She conjures spike traps and watches him—hours later—flinching away from impalement that will never come.

She engineers rising lava curtains in the present and frowns as he backtracks through the course in the future.

She can’t make herself look away when he reaches the edge of the box, listening to them talk in the profound darkness…

We’re bad at this,” Amethyst will say.

“Yo, G.” She punches Garnet’s shoulder now. “C’moooon. Steven is waiting.”

Chapter Text

The first night that Lapis and Peridot spend in their new home in Little Homeworld isn’t a night so much as it is a city-wide party that lasts until 4AM.

Long before that, the new homeowners find themselves on the roof of their two-story, arms pillowed beneath their heads, backs pressed against the shingles.

“Someone’s going to notice that we’re gone,” Peridot grins, her visor reflecting the stars.

“Do you really care?” Lapis snorts.

“No—frankly not at all.”

They laugh then as the speakers play some Terran song that neither of them know.

It’s loud and exuberant and free.

Chapter Text

In Era Three, the palace walls have stories, not secrets.

Ten-thousands of them.

All dutifully untold.

But now, gems seek the walls out to simply sit and listen.

To learn.

Some come for the juicy scandals—the tantrums Pink Diamond once threw, the star-crossed romances between elite gems and their underlings, the complete and ridiculous drama.

Others come for closure.

“She mourned for you,” Wall explains. “I was stationed outside her chamber… and her Quartz guards reported that she cried for cycles.”

“I was mourned?” Pink Diamond’s first Pearl repeats faintly—like she can’t believe it.

Loved,” Wall clarifies gently.

Chapter Text

In the semi-darkness, Bismuth looks less gem than ancient statue, her impressive figure hewn by the sharp light of the rising moon, her grief cast in its long shadow.

Rose dares to sit beside her on the hill that overlooks a battlefield, where gem shards glitter like stars.

“Pearl’s okay,” she murmurs. “I healed the crack in her gem.”

The blacksmith’s eyes flash.

“She was almost shattered, Rose. How in stars’ name is that okay?”

An impossible lump rises to Rose’s throat.

“It isn’t.” 

“No, it damn well isn’t… I was almost too late,” Bismuth sniffs. 

Bismuth begins to weep.

Chapter Text

“Heyyyy, Sadie Killer”—Jenny elbows Sadie’s shoulder—“there’s a cutie at two o’clock comin’ your way.”

Please,” she snorts, pausing in the middle of adjusting her mic. A quick upwards glance confirms that there is indeed a person heading towards the stage, wearing a backwards baseball cap, a nose ring, and a crooked smile. “They’re coming your way.”

“Uhhhh-huh,” Jenny grins. “And when I’m right, you owe me a soda.”

“And when you’re sooooooo wrong, ditto.”

The mysterious newcomer stops in front of them—tall… brown-eyed… and holy shit—muscular.

“Hey,” they smile. “Sadie, yeah?”

Jenny nudges her again, giggling.

Chapter Text

When Steven loses his last baby tooth, Pearl drips tears on the scrapbook page she’d dedicated to this monumental event.

Steven crawls into her lap.

He asks if she’s okay.

No, she wants to tell him.

No, I’m not okay because you’re losing teeth and growing taller by the day. You’re aging, Steven, and you shouldn’t be aging because you’re part-gem… but you’re human, too.

And humans age.

Humans leave.

“Don’t mind me,” she smiles weakly. “You’re growing up, Steven.”

“And that’s… sad?” His brow furrows.

“Only a little bit… but your mother once told me that change always is.”

 

Chapter Text

White Diamond would rather consume rocks than admit that she’s lonely.

But she cannot escape the troublesome thought, surrounded as she is by Blue and Yellow Diamond and their newly-articulated intimacy.

They’ve spent eons exchanging meaningful glances, and now they’re fusing all over the palace.

It’s lovely, and it’s wonderful, and she’s so happy for them.

“But I don’t want to intrude,” White explains to them, flushing.

“You’re not intruding!” Yellow retorts, always the contrarian. “Fusion is about being with the gems you love!”

“And we love you, White,” Blue says firmly, extending her hand. “Nothing will ever change that.”

Chapter Text

Amethyst tells Jasper that of the few people who understood Pink Diamond, a human is somehow one of them.

Greg Universe drags his thumb across his brow thoughtfully as he stares at her, as he forms the difficult words.

“I don’t think she meant to hurt any gem…” He begins tentatively.

“Thousands of gems were shattered in the war,” Jasper growls, cutting him off. “I—Homeworld grieved for her!”

“Yeah,” Greg nods. “Her intentions don’t take that away… but I don’t reckon she ever realized how much her absence would sting.”

“She was loved,” Jasper protests.

Incredulous.

Disbelieving.

“I know.”

Chapter Text

Obsidian towers above Beach City, light and darkness and lava and love, all coalesced into one giant woman and her sharply-hewn sword.

The glowing runes running down its blade read Together.

And that they all are—Garnet and Amethyst and Pearl and Rose—watching a ruby sun color the sea.

Obsidian leans on the hilt of Together and has an itching feeling that it’s not going to last.

She has future intuition from Garnet.

And a gut feeling from Amethyst.

And a desperate curiosity about change from Rose.

But she pushes it down.

Because Pearl swears Together is an eternity.

Chapter Text

“… a communication crystal?” Steven asks, fingering the diamond shaped rock tentatively.

Nephrite shakes her head fervently.

“Negative, cadet,” she returns proudly. “A coordinate crystal. It’s a rare artifact. If you activate it… I’ll be able to locate you wherever you are—no matter the galaxy, no matter the planet.”

She bites her lip and doesn’t tell him that she’d intended to use it during the war… just in case some of her crew got lost.

(In the end, they were all lost.)

(Broken.)

(Corrupted.)

“If you ever need me, Steven Universe,” she continues softly, “I’ll come find you. Pilot’s honor.”

Chapter Text

“I’m sorry, Pearl,” Connie shakes her head bashfully. “I… I don’t think it’s my story to tell.”

She slants an uncertain glance her sword master’s way—she’s never liked disappointing authority figures—but Pearl only nods once, swallowing.

“No, you’re right,” she sighs. “I’m just worried about Steven… I think he’s having nightmares.”

Almost reflexively, they both look out into the ocean, where Steven and Amethyst are wrestling in the shallows, laughing.

Joyous.

Wild.

Carefree.

“He mumbles in his sleep,” Pearl continues quietly, “begging White Diamond not to do something…”

But she did it anyway, Connie keeps to herself, shivering.

Chapter Text

This week, the official Little Homeworld Welcome Committee consists of Pearl and Peridot, an odd pair considering one of them has impeccable manners and the other is a smart aleck.

“Hi, humans,” Peridot says as two men walk into the Welcome Center. 

“Welcome to Little Homeworld!” Pearl smiles.

“‘Lo,” the man on the left greets, raising a six-fingered hand. “The name’s Ford, and this is Stan.”

“We met a plucky kid down in Cali,” Stan explains. “Curly hair. Big eyes. He told us we should come here to learn about Gems.”

“Gee, I wonder who that could be,” Peridot snickers.

 

Chapter Text

Lapis doesn’t know how she feels about Jasper being Little Homeschool’s newest pupil. 

On the one hand, she knows that the former Homeworld soldier has as much of a right to grow and change as she once did.

And on the other, she looks down at her own palms more often than usual and remembers that they used to be striped green.

So she goes to the pottery shed and kneads water-softened clay until she can shape her feelings into something tangible.

The self-loathing.

The confusion.

The hurt.

And eventually, an emerald bust emerges from the everythingness and the nothingness.

Chapter Text

Steven’s first dinner at the Maheswaran residence is strange to say the least.

So used to popping frozen macaroni bowls into the microwave and sharing most of his dinners with the TV, he’s politely bewildered when all four of them—himself, Connie, and her parents sit down at the table together.

They tease each other like it’s habit.

Her parents ladle out food in quiet acts of love.

It’s… nice.

“Eat up, Steven!” Mr. Maheswaran encourages warmly. “My special casserole won’t kill ya.”

“It might send you to the ER, though,” Dr. Maheswaran snorts.

“Or the bathroom one,” Connie replies.

Chapter Text

Perched on Sugilite’s shoulder like a long, dainty bird, Pearl struggles to piece the right words together in an order that means something to the both of them.

Fraught history, old jealousies, latent insecurities—she wishes she could tell Sugilite that none of it matters to her anymore.

Because that’s the past.

And she’s forgiven herself.

And she’s learned to love herself.

And to recognize the strengths of others without tearing herself down to do so.

But Sugilite beats her to it.

“S’been a long time since we’ve watched a sunset together, P.”

Too long,” Pearl agrees.

“I’ve missed ya.”

Chapter Text

When Garnet extends her Sapphire-studded hand—calm, steady, sure—Amethyst’s visible eye widens in tenderness, in hesitation, in immediate, warm, sweeping relief.

“Are you sure, G?” She asks all the same. “I know the last time Sugilite came out ’n all, we—”

“We were different Gems then,” Garnet cuts across her gently. “And that was the past. This is now.”

“But what are we gonna do? Opal pretty much cleaned up the last of the injector debris yesterday…”

But the fusion shakes her head.

“We’re going to watch the sunset with Pearl,” she shrugs simply. “That’s reason enough to exist.”

Chapter Text

Bathed in White Diamond’s long and spiky shadow, Volleyball resists every ingrained memory that demands that she cross her wrists and salute.

That she cower.

That she bow.

She’s free now, and free gems don’t lessen their bodies to make other gems feel taller.

“Thank you,” Volley says, as evenly as she can manage, “but no thank you…”

White’s brow nearly disappears into her hairline with surprise.

But I hurt you, Pearl,” she emphasizes. “I puppeteered you for thousands of years!”

Volley shakes her head sadly, almost pityingly.

Almost.

“And what would I gain from doing the same to you?”

Chapter Text

The next time the Famethyst comes to visit, Amethyst shoves a holopad beneath Holly Blue Agate’s perpetually upturned nose.

“What is this?” She asks disdainfully, glancing over the glyphs as though they’ve all personally offended her. “A solicitation?”

“A job recommendation,” Amethyst chides, shaking her head. “Homeworld’s lookin’ for a gem to make sure that all of the old Era 2 junk that’s been put in a museum is curated—whatever that means.”

“Looked after… well-maintained… preserved,” Holly Blue reads aloud, tentative wonder in her voice.

“Boring if y'ask me,” Amethyst grins, triumphant, “but hey, if it floats your boat.”

Chapter Text

At the bottom of a dark and unforgiving sea, Malachite doesn’t understand companionship.

Neither of her component parts have possessed it for themselves in thousands of years—one trapped in a mirror and made a tool, one still reliving an ancient war and primed to be a weapon.

And now they’re together.

And now they’re Malachite.

A tool.

A weapon.

An abomination.

A monst—

Get out of my head, she snarls violently. These are my thoughts, my words!

But even as she thinks it, she knows that it’s a lie.

This is the one point that they apparently agree upon.

 

Chapter Text

As Steven and the Gems sit around a campfire one balmy night, two months after everything, they don’t talk about the fact that he thrashed about in the sea, inconsolable.

To be fair, he doesn’t remember much of it.

There was a rush of noise.

A wave of pain.

And then nothing.

Vicious emptiness.

When he awoke, the sand was splintered with detritus that he had made.

“Yo, Steven”—Amethyst gently nudges him—“y’okay, dude?”

Yeah,” he reflexively smiles.

He doesn’t want them to worry.

“Wait,” he corrects himself. “No.”

His wants are not the same things as his needs.

 

Chapter Text

When Rainbow returns home from a day of substitute teaching at the local elementary school, they immediately collapse on the couch, splaying their hand over their forehead in a woe-is-me kind of gesture.

Sapphire—who had been preparing her next lesson plan—grins just subtly enough to avoid being smug.

“Well,” she asks politely, “how did it go?”

(She absolutely knows how it went and tried to tell Rainbow how it would go, but they wouldn’t listen.)

(Pssh, I’m excellent with children, they said.)

“A child threw mashed potatoes at me,” Rainbow laments. “Mashed potatoes!”

“The horror,” Sapphire’s mouth quivers.

Chapter Text

Steven schedules his first appointment with an actual physician on the same day that he takes Cat Steven to the vet for her first checkup.

It’ll be a shared experience.

The kitten sits politely in the passenger seat, gently licking her paw, as the Dondai eases down the road.

“Now I know you’re nervous,” he tells Cat Steven, “but Connie said that vets and doctors aren’t scary—even when you’re a half-human, half-alien hybrid… or, er, a cat.”

“We’ve got this,” Steven continues, tapping his palm arrhythmically against the steering wheel. 

Mrow,” Cat Steven nods solemnly.

“We’re gonna be okay…”

Chapter Text

When Steven’s visor-wearing, gauntlet-wielding, incredibly intimidating guardian hands him the flip phone that had been stolen out of his vandalized car nearly a year ago, Kofi can only stare incredulously.

“It’s fully charged,” Garnet only says. “Thanks for letting me borrow it.”

Borrow it?” He can barely articulate, the vein in his temple beginning to pulsate. “I thought my phone was stolen! I filed an insurance claim on it! I lost all of my contacts! Why give it to me now?”

But even as Kofi says it, the phone beings to ring.

“It’s your cousin,” she supplies helpfully.

Grinning crookedly.

Chapter Text

Leaning against the inner counter of a food truck he’s just turned old enough to drive, Peedee idly wonders if life is passing him by.

Having stared out of a squared window for most of his life now, watching tourists slowly amble up and down the salt-weathered boardwalk, it’s not the first time he’s ever had this thought.

But he only entertains the terrifying idea during his fifteen-minute union breaks, pulling himself back into work mode with practiced ease.

“Someone’s gotta do the dirty work,” Steven Universe once told him, talking about different responsibilities entirely.

But Peedee wholeheartedly agrees anyway.

Chapter Text

Two weeks after Bismuth repairs the house that Cactus Steven destroyed, Steven pillows his hands beneath his head and listens to the soft voices drifting in through the crack in the sliding glass door…

“He reminds me so much of myself sometimes,” Pearl says, “that I feel helpless about how to be there for him.”

Steven shuts his eyes painfully.

For most of his childhood, Pearl didn’t know how to help herself.

But he helped her.

He helped everyone, except—

“You held on to all of your hurts,” Garnet murmurs knowingly.

“I didn’t know who I could be without them.”

Chapter Text

Blue and Yellow Diamond proceed down the ornate corridor together, their steps perfectly, geometrically aligned.

“I don’t know where Pink is getting these asinine ideas about organics from,” Yellow sneers, her hands clasped behind her back. “They’re organics. Inferior! Expendable!

“They’re shiny new toys to a young gem,” Blue hums distractedly.“The naïvety will eventually subside, the wide-eyed optimism, too…”

“Preferably sooner rather than later. I cannot withstand another debacle like last cycle’s ball—all those crawling pests… White would have poofed us for daring such a scheme.”

So they threw her in the Tower instead and called it mercy.

Chapter Text

It’s a bit rude, but Peridot has been calling the other Peridot—the Little Homeschooler newcomer—Staridot in her head.

It’s simple, really.

She’s been staring at Peridot ever since she got here.

“I won’t bite,” Peridot finally breaks the tension. They’re in the square, the dusk light hazy and low. “Gem’s honor and all that aphoristic nonsense.”

Staridot wriggles uncomfortably, her tall joints creaking with tell-tale metal.

“You don’t wear limb enhancers,” she states, blushing like it’s blasphemy.

Frankly, it used to be.

“I learned who I could be without them,” Peridot shrugs gently.

Staridot… well… stares.

“Myself completely.”

Chapter Text

Freckles pulls a hand through her hair and smiles ruefully at Lapis.

It’s a longing kind of smile—small and bittersweet—one that makes Lapis instantly aware that her companion wishes she were someone else entirely.

“You miss her, huh?” She asks.

Sympathy in her voice.

Quiet understanding.

(She occasionally misses someone who wasn’t good for her either.)

“Mhm,” Freckles nods. “Terribly… I have to fight the urge to warp back sometimes.”

“What’s stopping you?”

Lapis recently had to answer this complicated question for herself.

“I love her,” Freckles shrugs softly, “but I have to learn to love myself, too.”

 

Chapter Text

While Barb and Kofi yell at each other over poker accusations—as is their perpetual habit and pleasure—Greg and Vidalia fold for the final time and find themselves on Vidalia’s porch.

“I’m fine, V,” Greg insists for the third time. “I promise my answer isn’t gonna change.”

“Pssh,” Vidalia snorts, “and my question won’t either until you give me a straight answer, y’bald doofus.”

Hey!

“Your kid turned into pink Godzilla,” she says seriously, watching Greg as he rapidly looks away.

As he tries hard not to crumble.

To shatter.

To fold.

“S’okay not to be okay about that, man.”

Chapter Text

Rose single-armedly carries her so-called “laser light cannon” into the storage unit, and unsure though Greg is about his girlfriend storing strange weaponry in his cheap and totally not air-controlled rental, he can’t help but admire how strong she is.

She could easily pick him up.

(Oh, man, he kinda wants her to pick him u—)

“W-where’d ya even get this bad boy anyway?” He chuckles, blushing violet. “Seems fancy.”

(And wildly dangerous.)

“My friend was a blacksmith,” Rose hums evasively. “And there was nothing she couldn’t do.”

Greg hears the sadness in her voice.

He notes the past-tense.

Chapter Text

Stars above,” Bismuth breathes, stepping back to fully comprehend the masterpiece before her—Obsidian’s fifteen-foot tall sword, washing the grassy cliffside in its magmatic glow. “What a weapon.”

Obviously quite proud, the curvature of Obsidian’s stiff mouth crusts itself into a smile.

Uh-huh,” Bismuth riffs, “I’d be high on my hill too if I had a blade like this. I’ve never seen one this huge before.”

“It’s… a… group… effort,” they growl impressively, striking a pose that involves leaning against the pommel of their sword and cocking a hand on their hip.

Bismuth’s booming laughter echoes across an orange sky.

Chapter Text

When they make it back to Shep’s car, Sadie sinks low into her seat.

“I’m sorry about that,” she groans. “Steven’s a sweet kid, but he’s obviously going through a lot right now, and I didn’t know that he would do that.

(Like, trap them in a magical pink dome as a stress response.)

Shep pasts her back comfortingly, their bracelets jingling.

Green.

Blue.

Yellow.

Pink.

They once told Sadie that they wear them to remind them to be kind to themself because there was a time when they once weren’t.

“Nah,” Shep shrugs. “Being a teenager is friggin’ tough.”

Chapter Text

Much to his amusement and simultaneous chagrin, Steven’s sixteenth birthday bash on the beach continues well into the night.

At nine o’clock, he and Connie make their grand, clandestine escape, sneaking away from the dance floor and through the sand.

They talk, they laugh, they congratulate themselves on their own ingenuity, and they amble along the shell-encrusted shoreline. 

And they only eventually realize that their faces are just inches away from each other in the starlit darkness.

“We’re gonna be in soooooo much trouble,” Connie grins.

“Hey,” Steven laughs, leaning forward and blushing furiously, “we’ve finally reached our terrible teens.”

Chapter Text

Sunlight filtering in through the latticed windows in her chamber, Yellow Diamond gazes outwards at the view of the palatial gardens that they afford.

Once gray and barren, sickly with thousands of years of neglect in the absence of Pink’s diligent ministrations, now the tall hedges are verdant and replete with life again.

Simply blooming.

Because of Yellow.

It’s very well true that the militant conquerer’s hands will always glitter with broken shards, but now, there are petals on them, too.

A relieved smile ghosts her lips.

Diamonds can't change their facets, but apparently, they have the capacity to grow.

Chapter Text

It’s safe to say that Lapis, Peridot, and Vidalia get along brilliantly—they all love creating meepmorps.

It’s a planetary stretch to claim that Lapis and Peridot are any good at taking care of her kid.

Case in point, the stove is currently on fire.

And not in the way that stoves are supposed to be on fire.

“Human child!” Peridot shrieks, raking her fingers through her hair as Lapis quickly redirects sink water to the flames. “Why would you do this?”

“Mah, mah,” Onion explains calmly, “mah, mah, mah, mah.”

Lapis stares at him blankly.

“Well, that’s just terrifying.”

Chapter Text

Connie’s mother stares at the X-ray in open and downright hilarious disbelief.

“You don’t have a skeleton?!” She yelps in the same cadence that someone might ask the question, What the hell?

“Nope,” Garnet replies easily, her visor glinting playfully beneath the fluorescent overheads. “Gems are projections of light.”

“But you’re tangible,” Priyanka says, plainly attempting to rationalize the irrational. “Matter made manifest… that must mean that your photons are packed so densely that… that…”

“Go on,” she nods encouragingly. “You’re nearly there, doc.”

(Indeed, the future is right on track for Dr. Maheswaran to pioneer a groundbreaking research project.)

Chapter Text

As the entire space station hums in preparation for launch, Rose stands alone in one of the various viewing bays, unable to quite see the beauty of space beyond her own complicated reflection. 

Because she has the rebel leader’s hair.

And her eyes.

And her gentle, beatific smile.

And just her appearance alone is enough to make traumatized gems weep with joy or anger or incomprehensible, searing grief.

It’s an alienating existence—living in the long shadow of the Rose Quartz’s legacy.

Rose has heard stories, though, of a half-gem boy named Steven Universe who might feel uncomfortably alien, too.

Chapter Text

Light glances off the facets of White Diamond’s gem as she watches Blue and Yellow Pearl direct their former Diamonds for another decolonization announcement.

It isn’t lost on her how ironic this entire enterprise is.

She made Pearls to serve.

And now here they are, ordering Diamonds around.

How strange.

And transgressive.

And… extraordinary?

White had always believed that gems could not supersede their original designs, that even she and her fellow Diamonds were simply cogs in an unthinking, universal machine, ordained to a sole purpose.

But here she is, objectively being proven wrong.

And somehow… that feels entirely right.

Chapter Text

Everyone stares at the gentle curve beginning to shape Rose’s belly nowadays, their eyes drawn to it in the way gems had once stared at her diamond.

Magnetized.

Garnet is the most discreet about it, sneaking in glances from the corner of her visor when she thinks no one is looking.

And Amethyst is the most open, curious and prodding, asking questions and looking to Rose for all the right answers.

Greg looks at his unborn child with a kind of melancholic reverence, full of uneasy smiles and tender love.

And Pearl

Pearl tries her hardest not to look away.

Chapter Text

Lion doesn’t entirely understand it himself, but when he looks at living things, he sees their auras, pulsing around them like gentle rays.

The boy—his boy—has a pink aura most of the time, warm and comforting, replete with love.

The pink lady had an aura like that, too.

She was simply awash with it.

The boy’s friend—the girl—is sometimes the kind of blue that the sky is just before it rains, steely and sharp.

She’s known loneliness before, Lion senses.

He keeps close to her as a way of telling her that he’s been there, too.

 

Chapter Text

“They towered over me,” Steven says, his voice carefully monotone as he gazes vaguely across the darkened loft. 

Dusk light from the nearby window slashes his bed in alternating strips.

“The Diamonds… they were really sad about Pink Diamond’s shattering.” 

Sad isn’t quite the right word.

Devastated fits better.

“They wanted to punish me—well, Rose Quartz really. Mom.”

From the corner of his eye, he can see the Crystal Gems staring at him.

So he keeps his voice monotone.

He doesn’t want to alarm them.

But Pearl folds her fingers over her mouth anyway, eyes wide and derelict.

(Guilty.)

Chapter Text

During the family’s vacation to Empire City, Rainbow Quartz—musical enthusiast extraordinaire—drags them all along to Dogs for some stars forsaken reason.

Garnet’s the only smart one.

She abruptly leaves mid-performance because she “forgot” to pay for the parking meter.

When they exit the theater some two hours later, Amethyst generously lets Rainbow ramble on about the experience they just lived through together.

Oh, that last number,” they chirp, templing their fingers dreamily below their chin. “Wasn’t it positively breathtaking?”

“The song where they just barked for three minutes?”

“The symbolism was exquisite,” Rainbow sniffs, surreptitiously wiping their eyes.

Chapter Text

When Blue and Yellow Diamond ask Steven to play a song for them, only one comes to mind.

It’d been his mother’s favorite.

(So he’s heard.)

Sitting on Yellow Diamond’s palm, carefully fingering his ukulele, Steven begins to play.

If I could begin to be, half of what you think of me…”

On and on, he sings, the simple chorus settling around his shoulders like a warm and beloved blanket.

There’s a strange wetness in Steven's eyes.

An involuntary gasp from Yellow.

A soft oh sound from Blue.

And an absence in the cavernous halls.

A shared and overwhelming love.

Chapter Text

Garnet and Lapis take ocean duty, scouring the shallow waters for debris from the Diamonds’ arms ships.

“I think this is the last of it,” Lapis says, tossing a piece of blue scrap metal on the damp pile.

“Yeah,” Garnet only replies, patting the empty stretch of sand next to her. 

Lapis accepts the invitation, sitting down gently, pulling her knees close to her chest.

“We fought Blue Diamond,” she whispers like it’s revelatory.

And perhaps it very well is.

“We survived her, Lapis,” Garnet laughs, her voice aching with triumph, hoarse from it. “We lived to tell the tale.”

Chapter Text

Steven doesn’t particularly like being around White Diamond. Loquacious, eager to please, and astonishingly dramatic, she’s honestly exhausting.

(And her black fingernails, dark as pitch, are traumatic.)

But Steven tolerates her.

They have work to do.

“We could get drones to slather our Diamond potions all over Homeworld,” he suggests. “That might be enough to make the grass grow again, the flowers!”

White smiles, the expression surprisingly soft in her sharp face.

Affectionate.

“That’s a marvelous idea, Steven,” she hums. “Flowers again—on Homeworld!”

You’ve missed them?” He asks curiously, incredulous against his will.

“You’ve taught me that I should.”

Chapter Text

Alone on the beach, alone with her eddying thoughts, Rose Quartz holds the gentle swelling of her belly and thinks of all the things that she never wants her baby to experience.

She hopes that they will never start an intergalactic war that they can’t finish.

That they will never have shards on their hands, both imagined and real.

(All of the gems she has hurt.)

(She has hurt so many.)

The sun kisses Rose’s pale skin, and she leans into its warm embrace like a child, craving the comfort she knows the life inside of her will actually deserve.

Chapter Text

As the Sun Incinerator maneuvers through the Andromeda system, Lars and the Rutile twins sit on the landing above the control deck, resting their arms against the railing, dangling their legs over the ledge.

Below them, Rhodonite and Padparadscha are playing with the deck of cards Steven had brought them, giggling softly, having fun.

“They’re close, you know,” Rutile explains, both twins smiling fondly.

“Rhodonite saved her,” one sister elaborates.

“Got her out of the Harvesting Center before she could be shattered,” the other adds.

“Morganite almost caught them. But still…“

“…Rhodonite persisted,” Lars finishes quietly—all tenderness, all emotion.

Chapter Text

When Connie gets to Steven’s house one drizzly Saturday morning, she’s vaguely surprised that it isn’t on fire or covered in extraterrestrial debris.

She gingerly opens the door to an even more abnormal sight.

Steven and the Gems all sitting on top of his bed, watching a movie together.

“Connie!” Steven lifts his bed-mussed head. “Come watch 2 Lonely 2 Ninja with us!”

“It’s really bad,” Pearl smiles invitingly.

“But, like, in an entertaining way,” Amethyst grins.

“Yeah,” Garnet deadpans.

“We’re being lazy today,” Steven explains apologetically.

“Hey!” Connie laughs as she bounds up to the loft. “We deserve it.”

Chapter Text

Alone on a rock in the middle of outer space, Bluebird argues with herself.

We should unfuse, the Aquamarine part of her says reluctantly. It’s improper for us to be together for so long…

And the Ruby part of her agrees, but neither of them make much of an effort to separate.

Being alone together is better than being lonely apart.

“I don’t like it here,” she says aloud into the nothingness.

“I should go home. We should.”

“Would home accept us?”

The implicit answer disquiets the space around them.

Yes.

Now more than ever.

(They just haven’t accepted themselves.)

Chapter Text

Vidalia drops by the car wash one day and thrusts a card in Greg’s fumbling hands.

“Catch!”

Greg scans the fancy lettering for a couple of seconds before yelping, “You’re getting married?!”

It isn’t a surprise exactly.

She and Yellowtail have been dating forever.

But still, it’s an occasion to have big emotions about.

And so, he looks at his friend and brims with astonishment.

With tenderness.

With joy.

“Don’t look so surprised,” she grins. “We’re getting married for tax benefits or whatever. It’s nothing sentimental.”

“Liar,” he snorts.

She laughs at this.

Radiant.

Simply glowing.

“You’re such a dick."

Chapter Text

When Steven takes off his swim shirt, Peridot’s eyes are magnetized to the long scars branching outwards from his spine, pale and livid against his skin.

And Steven notices.

He always does.

“Pretty bad, huh?” He says sympathetically.

“N-no,” she stammers, quite clearly embarrassed. “No. Your back is absolutely normal, Steven, and er—”

“At ease, Peridot,” Steven laughs. “I know it looks bad…”

“And I’m okay with that,” he continues. “Really. Loads of bad things have happened to me.”

He smiles at her gently, sage beyond his startlingly few years.

“I’m starting to understand that I get to own them.”

Chapter Text

As Biggs clatters emptily to the ground, a corrupted gem now, an unwilling monster, Rose looks down at her hands.

At what they have done.

At what they will eventually do.

She gently scoops her fallen friend from the dust and knows intimately that this is her fault, that the Diamonds wailed their godless song for her and her alone.

That every casualty after the fact will be scattered across her palms for time inconceivable, shards glinting against the milk whiteness of her skin.

“I’m sorry,” she whispers, expanding her hands into a prison.

A pink sphere.

“I’m so sorry.”

Chapter Text

When Alexandrite comes together for the first time after the war, it’s because she’s been tasked with lighting a huge bonfire for Steven and the rest of his friends to enjoy.

“Lit,” Buck Dewey deadpans.

Sick,” Sour Cream agrees.

“Thanks, Alexandrite!” Steven laughs, blowing her a kiss.

And all of her gems thrill at the precious sight.

They emanate a boundless, unspeakable, all-encompassing joy.

Because she is not Obsidian.

(But she can be again.)

And she is not the gaping absence of Rose Quartz.

(From the start, she never was.)

She is Alexandrite.

And together, she has always been whole.

Chapter Text

Lapis supposes that it had to happen eventually.

She and Jasper cross paths in Little Homeworld, and they awkwardly say hello, and they momentarily forget to breathe as the rawness of their shared history aggravates the space between them.

And then, sitting down upon the edge of a fountain, they talk.

“I’m sorry,” Jasper blurts out, “for hurting you, when we were, you know—“

“—together,” Lapis finishes quietly.

“Yeah.”

“We hurt each other,” she finally says, glancing at her reflection in the water.

Two eyes stare back at her, not four.

“And really, we were both hurting to begin with.”