CHAPTER XI: COMING BACK

Neither the mother nor the son wanted to brake apart from the warm embrace, both of them enjoying the closeness they thought they would have never been able to share. Steven still couldn't believe that he actually met his mother, and Pink still couldn't believe that she was holding him in her arms, her precious, wonderful son. Sadly, the moment didn't last forever. A doubt crept into Pink's mind, interrupting the moment. It made her loosen her hold on Steven, which the boy immediately noticed. He slightly pulled away and watched with a hint of worry his mother's increasing frown.

"What's wrong mom?" Steven asked.

"Steven… believe me when I say I couldn't be happier to see you, but… how can you be here?" Pink wondered.

Steven lowered his gaze, his memories strangely fuzzy. He focused and tried to recall the events that occurred before the meeting with his mother. He was with Connie and Peridot. They wanted to do something, something dangerous. It was something the gems would have never approved of, but he knew it was the right thing to do. He wanted to help someone… he wanted to cure someone… he wanted to cure a gem from corruption. He wanted to cure…

"Jasper…" Steven whispered, all of his memories coming back at once, his song, Jasper waking him up and throwing him on the beach, her helmet coming down and…

"Jasper?" Pink's cheerful tone faded, replaced by one of deep worry.

"She was one of your soldiers, she was made here on Earth, in the beta kindergarten…"

Pink remembered Jasper very well, the strongest quartz ever created, but also the most stubborn. Loyalty was an admirable trait, but Jasper's devotion towards her blinded her. She never even considered to think about what Earth could have given her, the most precious thing ever… freedom. She didn't care about the Earth, about humans, about freeing her sisters from the Diamonds' tyranny. She wanted to fight, to destroy, nothing more.

"What does she have to do with-" And then Pink suddenly became silent, her eyes wide as the realization hit her. "What did she do to you…" She whispered, her voice cracking.

"Mom please, don't be angry with her, she didn't know who you really are, she thought I was you, she thought I was Rose Quartz, the gem that shattered her Diamond… I tried to reason with her but she… she…" Steven trailed off, seeing his mother's eyes, filled with tears.

"Mom… please don't cry."

"My Steven, oh my poor child." Pink muttered.

"Mom? What's happening?" Steven asked, both confused and frightened by his mother's reaction.

"Do you know what this place is Steven?"

The question took the young boy by surprise, since the first moment he got into that strange yet beautiful place Steven never stopped and tried to figure out where he actually was, but now… now that his memories were coming back, the memories of his latest encounter with Jasper, he finally began to understand.

"Sometimes, if our bodies are badly damaged, we release our physical forms and retreat to our gems to regenerate."

Garnet's words came to Steven's mind and it was in that exact moment, that he understood. This place, the place where he finally met his mother after so long… could it be…

"Our gem…" Steven whispered, clutching his stomach.

"Yes Steven." Pink nodded.

"Does… does this mean I'm regenerating myself?"

"I… I don't know Steven… that is why I'm so scared. I wanted you so much, I wanted you to exist and experiment all the beauties of Earth. I knew you'd become someone entirely new, someone completely free from Homeworld's ideologies, someone who could call the Earth his homeworld, but… I also didn't know which of my powers you would have inherited… I didn't know if you could summon my shield… if you could cure injuries like I could do… and I didn't know if you could… if you could… oh Steven, why did you do that?" Pink asked, slowly shaking her head.

"Because… because Jasper wouldn't have gotten corrupted of she knew the truth, I felt responsible and I wanted to help her. Even if she did some bad stuff in the past, I think she deserves a second chance." Steven spoke in a determined tone of voice.

"Steven…" Pink whispered, exhaling a teary breath, although she was smiling. Good, kind, compassionate, this was her child, her Steven, and she couldn't have been prouder of him.

"Mom please, stop crying. I'll be fine, we're here, that must mean that our gem is fine, right?" Steven smiled encouragingly, wiping away his mother's tears.

"Yes… yes it'll be all right." Pink said, covering Steven's tiny hand with her own, keeping it on her cheek for a moment before letting go.

"Oh my gosh! The gems must be so worried!" Steven realized.

The sudden mention of her old friends brought a nostalgic look on Pink's face.

"How are they?" Pink asked, her gaze distant.

"Oh! They're fine! I mean, of course, sometimes they miss you mom… you were their rock…" Steven's smile faded a bit. "Sometimes I feel like… I feel like-" But the young boy couldn't continue, he felt his mother's finger pressing gently against his lips, signaling him to stop.

"No Steven… I know what you wanted to say, but please… please understand. I never wanted you to be me. I wanted you to be you, and you're wonderful, trust me. Did… did they ever make you feel like-"

"No! No. They really love me, I know they do. They're my family, they take care of me and… I take care of them too, just like you asked me too." Steven explained.

"Oh my stars! You met lion!" Pink exclaimed, stars appearing in her eyes. "Isn't he the most adorable fluff ball ever?"

"That he is." Steven replied with a chuckle.

"And… Pearl… is she really okay?"

"She's the one who misses you the most but… she really loves me mom, I'm sure of it. A while ago she used to watch me sleep, I think to watch over me but, it still felt kinda weird."

"Oh what would I give to watch you sleep every night." Pink spoke dreamily.

"What?" Steven asked, what was with everyone wanting to watch him sleep?

"Don't you know? It's a mom thing." Pink laughed in relief. "I was so worried about her, like she'd disappear when I did. But I'm glad she's fine and… I'm glad to know she really loves you."

"Oh my gosh, these are like, two of one million things I have to tell you! So much happened! Do you… do you want me to tell you?" Steven asked, uncertain.

"I can't wait Steven," Rose smiled warmly, "But first, let me show you something."

Pink slowly settled Steven down, standing up from the edge of the fountain. She started walking and motioned him to follow her. They walked in silence, but it wasn't an uncomfortable one. Steven kept following his mother until they reached a small grass hill. Nothing could have prepared him for the beauty that stood behind it. As they reached the hill's top, Pink kneeled down, Steven did the same and when his gaze fell on what was in front of them, his mouth fell open. In front of him there was a vast valley covered in rose gardens, the sky was of a calming light blue and no clouds where to be seen.

"Woah… I can't see the end of it!" Steven marveled with starry eyes.

"It's beautiful isn't it?" Pink said, hugging her knees, resting her chin on her hands, smiling.

"It is… but… don't you ever… feel lonely?" Steven asked, a frown on his face.

"No Steven, I have you, I always had you…" Pink said, gently caressing his hair. "Now tell me, I want to know everything."

And so Steven told her about everything he could think of. He told her about his dad, about how he still loved to play music, that he actually became a teacher for some time and that one of his songs did kinda become famous, and made him rich. When he talked about Greg, Steven could have sworn he saw his mom quickly wipe away a tear. He talked about all of his adventures with the gems, about how he freed Lapis Lazuli and became friends with her. He told her about Peridot's arrival and her decision to protect the Earth. He told her… about the Cluster. Pink remained silent, her gaze low, all of the Crystal Gems they couldn't find, they've always been under their feet. But when Steven told her he managed to talk with them and bubble them, so that they could finally rest, she smiled again. He talked about Connie, his best friend, he told her the first fusion he ever made was with her. Steven laughed when his mother squealed excitedly and hugged him tight, swirling him around. She could have never fused with Greg, but Steven, Steven could actually fuse with the one he loved. When Pink told him, Steven blushed furiously, telling her Connie was his best friend. He only blushed more when his mom gave him a 'really' look. Steven told her about the Diamonds, about Blue taking his dad into space and about how sad they looked when they talked about her, especially Blue. Pink sighed heavily, her sisters, it wasn't a topic she was very fond of, but deep, deep down, she knew they loved her and… she loved them too, even after all what happened between them. Steven told her about everything he could remember, savoring every moment, every laugh and all the hugs they shared. When a bright light appeared on the horizon, he didn't know how much time had passed. He knew that eventually the time to go would have come, he was sad of course, but he also couldn't wait to see the gems, to see his dad and Connie. Steven looked at his mom, she was smiling, and a few tears were streaming down her face. She took him into one, final, tight embrace before letting him go. She was ready to turn around and go back to the garden when she heard Steven calling her.

"Will you walk with me?"

Pink let out a brief, teary laugh.

"Always."

They walked together towards the light, knowing that whatever would have happened, they would have always had each other.

Hoooooo boy, here I am, I'm still alive guys, and I'm really, really sorry about not posting a new chapter in so long. You see, in a few days I have a very important exam, and I really didn't have time to write. I hope you liked this chapter and I want you to know that I'll keep writing and writing, the story in not over so bear with me okay? I'd like to write more but I can't, however as soon as I'll have finished the exam, I'll try to post more often. Well, time's up, back to study, and don't worry, it won't be too long until the next chapter! Bye!