Disclaimer: I don't own Steven Universe

Title: A Gem And A Heart

Summary: Steven's never really gotten along with most kids his age, but he's always had a place with the gems.

Setting: Pre-series. Think baby Steven from the extended intro.

...

Steven isn't allowed to take his shirt off at the beach.

Well, no. It's not a rule or anything. No one's ever walked up to him while he was trying on a pair of swim trunks and said 'Nice, but you can't wear those outside of the house.' If he wanted to go swim without a shirt on, more power to him.

But it didn't look right to him, you know? Everybody else... They had holes in their bellies. Steven's hole was filled. He wasn't sure if that made him weird or everyone else.

"Hey, kiddo." Greg sits down next to him on the sand. Steven wonders if he has a hole in his stomach as well. He's never seen him shirtless before. "Why're you over here all on your own? Don'tcha wanna go swimming?"

Yes. But swimming with a shirt on was complicated. "Dad, why does everybody have those things in their bellies?"

"Huh? Oh, you mean belly buttons?" He shrugs. "That's just how people are made. Before you're born, you have a cord attached to your stomach to feed you and keep you healthy. Then, when you can do it on your own, it disconnects."

"Like a phone charger?"

"Sorta." He scratches at the back of his head distractedly. "It doesn't come off that easy though. You need help. What's left is what becomes your belly button."

"Oh." He glanced at him curiously. "How come I don't got a belly button, then?"

"You were born a little differently, that's all."

Steven slid a hand under his shirt to trace the smooth surface of his gem. "Does that mean I'm weird?"

"Weird? Shoot, I don't know. I don't think so, but I guess it depends on who you're asking."

"Oh. Okay." He smiles at him, because his dad didn't think it was strange and that was enough for him. "How's the building going?"

"Building a house is tough, even for magical beings. Especially for magical beings, now that I think about it. They've probably never had to do anything like this before. You excited?"

"Of course!" He thrust his hands into the air, starry-eyed. Who wouldn't be? "I mean, I'm gonna miss living with you, but they're the Crystal Gems, dad! It doesn't get cooler than them!"

Greg chuckles and picks him up. "Come'on. If you ask nicely, I'm sure they'll let you help."


Some of the boards still have nails sticking out of them. They aren't rusty or anything; they're perfectly clean and straight, and the pointy parts are buried in the wood.

Steven, given a hammer and some supervision, gets to nail them in. Today it's Garnet, who holds him by the waist and helps guide his hand so he doesn't hurt himself.

Steven likes being held by Garnet. She's warm and strong, and her fingers never shake. Pearl's fingers are thin, and sometimes it feels like he could fall if he isn't careful. With Amethyst they both fall, but the drop is short, and she makes sure it doesn't hurt. She usually just wants to play or make him laugh.

But Garnet is just right, like that story with the blonde girl and the bears. Only this is way better than lumpy oatmeal.

"There's one!" He points to one hiding in the corner above Garnet's head.

"Mmhmm." She agrees, and lifts him higher. She lets go of him a bit to help him nail, but he doesn't so much as teeter.

"That's the last of them." She says.

"Yeah?"

"Yeah."

"Garnet, tell me the truth. Do you guys leave some of them un-nailed so I can help?"

Garnet turns him around so they're face-to-face with a shrug. "We all get distracted sometimes. We owe you a lot; cleanin' up after us." But the smile on her face, gentle and supportive, tells him he's right on the money.

"We're out of wood." Pearl reports when they get to the van. "I'll take that."

Steven hands the hammer over without complaint. "I'm hungry."

"It is almost lunchtime." Greg adds hopefully.

"Well..." Pearl glances at them both. "I suppose a break couldn't hurt."

"Yeah! Food!" Amethyst cheers, hands in the air. She hops off the back of the van. "Steven, you coming with?"

"Count me in!" Steven practically sprints to her side. Amethyst grins at him.

"I'll go." Garnet breaks in. "I'll get us more timber while I'm out."

"Aww." Amethyst slumped.

"You can get dinner." She offers.

"I'm down with that."

"Can I still go?" Steven asks.

Garnet shrugs. "I don't see why not."

Going into town with Garnet is fun because she lets him ride on her hair. It sounds silly, and he's never seen anybody else do it before, but her hair is like a pillow; it sinks a bit but otherwise keeps its shape.

People stare, but Garnet rigidly ignores them, so Steven isn't bothered by it.

"I'm gonna go get the wood." She says, setting him down on a bench. "Here's the money for food. You have your phone?"

"Yeah. Can I get hotdogs?"

"Sure." She agrees, probably because she knows that he and his dad both like them. Amethyst will eat anything, and he's never seen Pearl eat before. Maybe she does it in private? Steven could see her doing that.

Either way, she knows they're something everyone likes, so she doesn't have a reason to refuse. "We'll meet up here."

"Okay." She goes to turn away when Steven asks; "How come I never get to go with you to the wood store?"

"Because it's a long line and a boring wait." She answers without hesitation. "And I thought you'd prefer to have some fun."

"Oh. Okay." Garnet doesn't say things are boring often, so it has to be really tedious if she says as much. "You want anything on your hotdog?"

"A bun." She quips, deadpan, before walking away. Steve blinked, because sometimes it's hard to tell if she's joking or not.

He likes the boardwalk. It's always crowded and it smells like a bunch of his favorite foods. He knows a lot of the people, too, since only a couple of families live there year-round and tourist season is mostly over.

Honestly, the only reason they bothered with getting him a phone is because they're going to start letting him come along on missions someday and dad wants to make sure he can call him if something goes wrong. Steven isn't worried; he knows he'll be safe.

"I don't know. People are people." A little boy says.

"My mom says they're weird." Another says, sticking out his lip and crossing his arms. "Girls are weird. Lesbians are weird. Mom agrees with me."

Steven didn't have a mom to agree with. He stepped into line and bought lunch, blankly eavesdropping from afar.

"There you are." Garnet says, shouldering enough wood for at least a couple of days. She sets it down like it's nothing and picks him up, setting him on her afro without a word. She grabs the wood and starts off to the house.

"I got lunch."

"Good."

"Garnet, do you like to eat?"

She shrugged. "Sometimes. Depends on what we're eatin'."

"Oh. Well, what about hotdogs?"

She flashed him a smile. "Who doesn't like hotdogs?"

"Pearl doesn't." Steven says, remembering the look on her face when he brought them up the last time they went shopping together.

"Pearl doesn't like eating." Garnet corrected.

"Oh." He stared at the hotdog he'd gotten specifically for her- loaded with stuff so you could hardly taste the meat- so she wouldn't feel left out or hungry. "Then I think I got one too many."

"Eh. Amethyst'll eat it."

"Yeah." He agrees, because Amethyst will eat anything. There was a pause. "Garnet, what's a lesbian?"

This time, it's Garnet that pauses. She stops mid-step, tilting her head back a little to see him. He's used to riding on her hair and shifting when she does, so it doesn't bother him. "Where did you hear that?" She asks, voice a little different from before. Did he detect a hint of concern? Fear?

(No. It wasn't fear. Garnet wasn't afraid of anything.)

"A tourist. He said they were weird."

"I see." She paused again, then started moving forward. "A lesbian is a woman who falls in love with other women."

"Oh." He knows about that stuff. He just didn't know there was a specific name for it. "Is that weird?" He asks, confused, because that's everyday stuff with the gems. Dad always said that Amethyst used to tease Pearl for liking mom back before he was born ("Not that I blame her, or anything. She was a very pretty lady.") and Amethyst has told him about a few dates she went on with girls and boys back in the day. ("Hey, a fun time is a fun time.")

Steven doesn't know if Garnet's ever been in love before. Probably. She certainly good at loving the people closest to her.

"Love is weird." Garnet says, this time a tad fiercely. Some things- like love- the tall gem has always been passionate about, and Steven likes listening to her when she gets this way. "And people in love are weird. But what's really weird is having a bunch of names for the same emotion."

"Oh." She has a point.

"Love is love, Steven. Remember that."

"I will." Something occurs to him. He leans over with a smile. "Besides, it doesn't get any weirder than a human falling in love with a magical being, right?"

Garnet chuckles but doesn't answer.

In the end, Amethyst scarfs down the extra food without asking, then tries to steal the remaining half of his. Pearl berates her for it, but the shorter gem doesn't act like she's listening.


Steven loves Amethyst because she's fun, and he can relate to her best.

They can eat together (although he does have to protect his share) and just talk. And, after that, they can just roll around on the sand and have fun. It's never serious; he can go to her when he's feeling down and she helps him to perk up.

"Meh." She punched his shoulder lightly. "Somebody's gotta teach ya' how to not be a killjoy."

She also slept, so she could stay over for sleepovers. Pearl was fascinated by the idea of slumber but seemed disinterested in actually doing it, and Garnet probably only slept the way she ate; sometimes, depending, and it might only be for the de-stress factor.

Amethyst sleeps because she's been doing it for a long enough time now that her body would fall into a form of withdrawal without it- similar to insomniac exhaustion. Also, because she honestly enjoys it. And she has no qualms with crawling onto the back of the van and snoring the night away.

He loves Pearl because she's always trying. No matter what it was, no matter how out of her depth she was, she tried it. For him.

When he was younger, she tried to teach him ballet. When that didn't work, she tried to support him as he learned the way he wanted to dance.

"Don't worry about it. You're not the first gem to decide ballet isn't the dance for you."

(Amethyst, he found out later, had spent years learning the art to be closer to Pearl, before finally breaking away to 'find herself.' She was, apparently, quite adept at it, but refused to show him any steps).

She didn't like eating, but she still went shopping with him. She didn't like messes, but she still let him make them, as long as he helped pick up after. She wasn't fond of humans- or, to be more precise, lot's of human contact- but she still let him go explore both sides of his heritage.

Steven loves Garnet because she loves him.

They all love him, obviously, but Garnet is blunt and to the point on her feelings. She hugged him and kissed his forehead before bed. She let him ride on her hair and went into stores with him when he asked, rather than wait outside where she felt more comfortable.

She was stable, and did her best to keep everyone else stable. Tough but not mean.

Steven loved the Crystal Gems because they were his family. He didn't really understand why people made it sound like it should be more complicated than that.


"Amethyst, why do we all have gems?"

Amethyst, on her part, just shrugs. "'Cause we need 'em to live."

"We do?" He leans over a bit to see her face better- the half of it that isn't already covered by her bangs, that is.

He's riding on her shoulders, and while it's fun and all, it's nothing compared to the towering Garnet. Amethyst is short in stature and a bit on the squishy side, so she's always nice and padded, but the view isn't all that great.

"Yup. Everything that keeps us up and moving is in our gems."

"Oh. But I thought that was what our hearts did?"

"Gems don't have organs, Steven."

Steven suddenly felt surprisingly self-conscious of the rhythm beating in his chest. He's never felt their heartbeats before, obviously, and he knew they didn't bleed, but he'd never thought about it that way. "I have a heart. And organs, and stuff."

"That's 'cause you got the best of both worlds." Amethyst hums.

"I do?"

"Yup." She shifts so there's less of a chance he'll fall off and hit the hard concrete. "Whattaya want for dinner?"

"Pizza?"

"Sounds good to me."

Of course it did. Amethyst could eat anything with a smile on her face.

"Amethyst, am I a human or a gem?" He's thought about it, once or twice, but he's never asked anybody before. Now's a good a time as ever; the purple woman was always honest when he had questions like this one.

"You're both." She says without hesitation. "You got the best of both worlds. You don't gotta be one or the other like most people. That's pretty rad, when you think about it."

He thinks about it. And agrees.


Steven's always had a bit of trouble with getting along with kids his age.

He's alright with people going into puberty on up, for the most part, but little kids seem to find him strange. Not that he blames them; he finds them just as strange as they find him.

They're a lot more violent, for one. Steven saw fighting first-hand every day; heard stories of the harder missions from the gems. That's plenty enough for him. And, sure, he and Amethyst roughhouse sometimes, but that's more or less just wrestling with a lot more tickling involved.

Other kids yelled and pulled each others hair and called each other names. Steven had never felt comfortable doing any of that.

And most kids seemed to honestly believe adults are bad or dumb. He's seen Pearl build amazing machines out of spare parts; Amethyst found deeper meanings in simple stories that blew his mind; Garnet understood how the world worked better than most humans do. There's no instrument on the planet his dad can't play or music sheets he can't translate.

Not to mention that a lot of them, mostly tourists, like to go for swims in the ocean, and Steven doesn't really have an answer when they ask him why he won't take his shirt off.

He doesn't think much of it, when a boy around his age tells his friends that if he's really good he'll get to meet his idol. He tells them that in a couple of years he'll get to live with his idols, because it doesn't get much cooler than that.

The boy squints at him. "You're weird. Do you go to school around here?"

Steven didn't go to school. Like, at all. "I don't go to school."

"You're really weird." The boy corrects himself. "You're homeschooled?"

"My-" What to call them? 'Magical guardians', while realistic, was a bit much, wasn't it? "Family won't let me go to school."

"They must think you're pretty dumb if they can't even go to school."

"Hey, I'm not dumb!" The words are a blow to his gut. Was that why the gems wouldn't let him go to school?

"Yeah, you are. Dumb kids don't go to school." He stuck his tongue out at him. His friends laughed. Steven stared at them, a frown on his face.

"Steven? Steven?" Pearl calls from down the beach. "There you are."

She jogged up to them. The group of kids dispersed. "Aah, crazy bird lady!"

Pearl frowns at the fleeing boys. "Weren't they... something. Friends of yours?"

He shook his head. "No, not really."

"Good. They didn't seem to be very nice." She sniffed. "Let's go home, Steven. We have some nails that need to be fixed."

They always did. "Pearl, am I dumb?"

Pearl's frown deepened. "Who said that?"

Steven shifted uncomfortably. Pearl bends down so they are on eye-level, balancing on the tops of her feet. "Steven?"

"They said I was dumb 'cause I'm not in school." He blurted.

Pearl blinks at him. "You're not in school because you would miss to many days to pass from grade to grade. Besides; earth history classes are incredibly inaccurate."

"Oh." He says, feeling silly. Pearl gently grabs his hand and leads him away.

"Listen, Steven. One of the downsides to being a Crystal Gem is that it's time-consuming, especially to someone like you, who ages in normal time. Even if we did get you into a kindergarten-" She visibly shudders at the word, although Steven isn't sure why. "You would be so busy going on missions you would miss out on more than you would learn. Not to mention we still aren't sure just how powerful or stable your magical abilities are quite yet. It could be dangerous."

Pearl's never been very good at explaining certain things, so Steven isn't hurt by her words. Garnet says it's part of the reason she and Amethyst are on such thin ice with each other.

"I don't like swimming with the other kids." Steven says abruptly. "They always try to make me take my shirt off."

"You have nothing to be ashamed of. Your gem is beautiful, Steven. It was your mother's, you know."

"Yeah, I know." He's seen her portrait; the beautiful woman who looks so content and happy, his gem in her belly button. Looking at it makes his gem feel like an unfamiliar weight in his belly; something he both knew and didn't. "She was really pretty, huh?"

Pearl's cheeks are tinged with blue. "Incredibly so. We should hurry. I don't want you out after dark without your cell phone."


"Scooch over."

Steven rolls to the right side of the van. Amethyst crawls on and flops onto her back, limbs outstretched. "Ah. That's the stuff."

"Does it ever bother you that your hair gets tangled in stuff?" Steven asked, eyeing the pale mane she's laying on like a blanket.

"Eh, not really. You get used to it after awhile." She shrugs, cupping her hands behind her head to tug her long hair out from under her. It fans out into the open air, but isn't long enough to brush the ground from this height.

"Amethyst, you're going to get snarls." Pearl scolds, legs folded beneath her.

"Ah, let me live, P. I can take care of my stinkin' hair."

"That's all you seem to be able to take care of." Pearl mutters under her breath.

"Hey!"

"Shh!" Garnet says. She's leaning against the van, arms crossed. "Steven's trying to sleep."

Pearl lets out a little 'eep' and covers her mouth.

"Whoops." Amethyst ruffles his hair. "Sorry, dude."

"It's okay." Steven says, curling into a ball. He closes his eyes and waits for Greg to return with a story book.

He's asleep before he even gets back.

Author's Note: Baby Steven was adorable. =)

So... this is more or less just Crystal Gem family fluff with a little plot but mostly just cuteness. And I love it.

Random Fact Of The Day: I had a lot of fun with the whole 'Garnet's probably been in love at some point Steven just didn't know when or with whom' bit. He's still pretty young here; it'll be a couple years before he finds out she's literally made of love.

No flames! Don't like don't read! Review!