A/N: A short and sweet oneshot in regards to the "A Single Pale Rose" episode. I was planning for this story to go a different way until this episode aired. But I guess my alternate take could technically still be canon compliant. Contains spoilers and takes place before the episode's reveal.

--

A dust cloud exploded outward from the impact into the muddy ground. Wood was sent flying everywhere, a hail of chips and dirt and some mud colliding with and staining everything it could reach. A round surface was deflecting it, oddly enough, the particles not gaining any purchase on the hovering object. Trees swayed in some predictable dance as the force of the collisions made the fauna move with the wind.

Steven steadied his shield arm, his left wrist sore from repeated barrages toward his gem weapon. A savage roar preceded each bludgeon, accompanied by a piercing clang.

The beast agressing upon his shield was a massive thing, horns jutting out wherever it could grow, its massive front paws about the size of Steven's head. Vaguely, it's form reminded him of Jasper, her pained screaming melting into something more mindless and bestial.

Another pound on the shield snappes him out of his zoning thoughts. Allowing his mind to wander was dangerous right now. A year ago, he'd be ignorant of how much danger he was in right now...

What would Rose do in this situation?

The only two beings in the immediate area were himself and the beast. Connie wouldn't be able to help him. She was still at school, as early as it was in the day. None of the Gems were present; he hadn't been of the mind to find a Gem monster to fight. All he wanted to do was go exploring into the Beach City woods. He never really trekked much farther than the lighthouse, and he wasn't planning to go to deep into the wilderness.

Apparently, just exploring the outskirts was a bad idea.

The corrupted Gem charged forward again, this time at full speed and it's head lowered, like an angry, rushing bull. Steven leapt to the side, cleanly avoiding it, allowing him some space between himself and the gem. The nearby trees were all too high for Steven to climb; the branches at minimum were situated three times his height.

"Aw, man..." Steven groaned. He forced his arms to remain steady, keeping the shield trained in front of him. His shoulders were straining now, and it felt like his arms would fall off at any moment.

The gem beast realized it missed it's mark with a snort. Slowly it turned around, it's mane covered head locking onto Steven's direction. The hybrid backed into the tree, gulping.

The young boy narrowed his eyes in concentration.

"Maybe if I throw it hard enough, I can knock it out..." Steven cocked his shield arm back, tensing the muscles in his arm. "Gem powers, don't fail me now..."

The Gem beast charged again, likened to a raging locomotive, intent on smashing into him.

Steven let the shield fly, and the monster was too late to avoid the missle. The shield, thrown with all of Steven's might coupled with the beast's reckless charge resulted in an ear-splitting crack. Such was the force, that tbe shield went rebounding up and skyward. There was another distant crack, like wood splitting, but Steven paid it no mind. Fortunately for the corrupted Gem, it's actual Gem wasn't hit, but it's head, concussing it nearly instantly. The large Gem's limbs failed it as it landed on it's head, sliding to a stop in front of the boy.

Steven gasped for breath, his race for air morphing into nervous laughter. He really did it. He defeated corrupted Gem with absolutely no help! He collapsed onto his rear, suddenly too weak to stand. Oddly, the Gem hadn't poofed, abd no sooner did that thought arrive, the animalistic Gem began to slowly rise again, albeit unsteadily on wobbly legs.

Steven's laughter died into a sputtering gasp. He was totally out of energy, his arms too heavy and legs too sore. His adrenaline had run out and he couldn't move.

There was another sound, like when ab axe hits the trunk of a tree. Steven's eyes widened, realizing what the sound from earlier was.

"Concern it!"

Two explosions sounded simultaneously. One an earthy green, the other tinted a rosy pink.

--

"Ughh..." Steven groaned, lifting his face off the ground. Soreness invaded the base of his neck and he rubbed it tenderly. "Ow...what hit me?" he thought aloud. He looked around, only to be surrounded by trees, mud, and disturbed ground. His vision was still a but blurry, colors melding together just subtly enough. Actually, a tree was resting on his back. Unthinkingly, he brushed it aside, it rolling off to the side before coming to a stop in front of some rubble. He lifted a hand to his face to brush off dirt, but found sonething cottony in between his face and hand. Was it moss or some kind of dirt?

Steven gasped, remembering the Gem he'd fought. Quickly, he rose to his knees, ready to search the ground. Weirdly, everything looked...smaller, for lack of a better word. The tree branches he had to crane his neck to see were now reachable if he were standing on his feet, he guessed.

"Nevermind...that," Steven said, his voice trailing off as he realized that his voice sounded unfamiliar. He shook his head, continuing his search for the Gem.

After a two minute search of moving rocks and scrstching through piles of dirt, the greeb tinted Gem was discovered, it's earthy brilliance marred by small splotches of reddish-orange.

Corruption.

Why did the Gem look so small in his hand?

He brought it closer to his face to examine it.

In it's reflective surface. An unfamiliar, pink skinned Gem with hair of an even brighter shade stared back, a confused look on...her...face..?

Steven's scream could be heard even outside of the woods. All he knew was that even though he screamed, it wasn't his voice that came out.