A/N: This chapter isn't really action packed, but it's a little longer than usual.
Rose's Fountain wasn't as grand and opulent as one might expect. At least not as much as Sapphire had expected. The fountain belonged to Pink Diamond after all.
To think that she'd escaped servitude to Blue Diamond, only to trade her services for another..! Her shoulders shook as she tried and failed to keep the tears from leaking from her eye. The fringe of her hair obscured it, and she was thankful for that, even though there was no one else there to see it.
The whole cavern that the fountain was in was quiet, oppressively so, and it was only disturbed by the rushing water spewing from the fountain.
She wanted to hate Pink Diamond, but she couldn't. And that made her feel even more distressed. Was the rebellion just a sick joke, some game of chess between Pink and the other Diamonds that she was too ignorant to see? But that wasn't the only reason she remained here, clinging to the base of Rose's- no, Pink Diamond's fountain.
After she defused, she'd abandoned Ruby. She'd abandoned Steven. As much as Sapphire hated Pink Diamond, Steven probably hated Sapphire just as much for just leaving him there at the Strawberry Field, and after she'd attacked him, too?
Never mind the fact that she could use her future vision to ascertain the truth if Steven really hated her. She feared what she would see. Both certainty and uncertainty terrified her at this very moment, so she settled with the fear of not knowing.
The telltale chime of the Warp Pad activating sounded, and Sapphire ignored it, but her sniffling died down. Some small irrational part of her thinking hoped that if she remained quiet, the person would go away.
Oh. It was Ruby.
"Go away," Sapphire managed to say, not able to turn and look at her. The other Gem was silent, but finally approached Sapphire, plopping down next to her, not hesitating to rest a hand on their shoulder. To both of their relief, Sapphire didn't flinch at the touch.
"A lot of things happened since you...left," Ruby managed, glancing off in no particular direction. "It's really important, Steven's in danger."
Sapphire was silent, and it almost seemed as if she hadn't heard the other Gem.
"He'd he safer with me not around-"
"That's not true!" Ruby cut her off, voiced raise.
Sapphire started at Ruby's sudden escalation. "What?"
"It was an accident, okay?" She sighed aggressively, leaning back into her makeshift spot that she'd chosen to sit. "And it's my fault too. We already know Garnet wouldn't do anything that we both didn't agree on." Ruby's voice lowered and she squeezed her knees with her hands. "And we agreed on a mistake." She shook her head.
Sapphire looked down, humbled by Ruby's statement. "I'm sorry," she sighed. "I'm here pitying myself and Steven's probably wondering why I had ran off..."
"It's a little more than just that," Ruby replied hurriedly. She took a breath, not sure how to say it tactfully, so she did what she did best and just came out with it. "The Diamonds are here." Ruby flinched prematurely, and she was rewarded with a screeching "WHAT?!" from Sapphire.
"Steven's convinced them not to fight us somehow, but we still need to get back."
Sapphire blinked confusedly. Convince them not to fight? But how-
"Sapphire facepalmed. Of course. Steven physically looked like Pink Diamond. But if they were no longer here to fight then...
Sapphire pressed her fingers to her temple as she peeked forward into the possibilities.
Ruby safely assumed that she saw the future about Steven and what thag entailed.
"Let's go save our boy," Ruby said, offering her hand. Sapphire examined it for only a moment before nodding with a new resolve and took it.
With a flash of light, the two smaller Gems were replaced by Garnet. She briefly hugged her own arms, exhaling softly.
"Steven needs my help," she declared. Wasting no time, she made to sprint back to the Warp Pad.
"Pearl, what are we gonna do?" Steven managed to keep his voice level, but he seemed one step away from hysterical.
"I didn't plan on it not working! I don't even have a plan!"
Pearl was rubbing her temples, struggling to think of a solution. Why was Steven's body rejecting his Gem? It never seemed to be a problem before. Why now?
She forced herself to look at Steven's human form, which still looked a bit pale. The chest was still rising and falling, albeit extremely slow, in a way Steven never did before.
"Steven, put him back in a bubble," Pearl urged impatiently.
He complied without complaint, and Steven's human half began to float back towards the ceiling within a pink bubble.
Pearl continued to massage her forehead, feeling as if she would come down with a headache from the sheer stress of the situation. Steven's human half seemed to remain stable while in the bubble. But it was bandaid to a gaping wound. This wouldn't be solved until Steven could be whole again. But how, how, how?!
Pearl started at Steven's voice. It still sounded like Pink...
She realized she had begun to frantically pace, and Steven looked worried. He was the one in this conundrum and he was worried for her wellbeing. She stopped pacing, folding her hands together in front of her chest, nervously squeezing her fingers.
"I'm sorry, Steven, I'm fine," she assured with a not quite genuine smile.
"We have to find out why your Gem isn't allowing you to fuse," she said, tapping her chin.
Steven's brows rose as if he just realized something. "Connie!"
Pearl blinked. "Connie?"
"Oh, Connie's mom, she's a doctor. She can help!"
Pearl thought about it. That sounded reasonable. She examined the bubble again, a thought coming to her. What if she was looking at it from the wrong angle. What if it wasn't the Gem rejecting Steven's human half, but the other way around. Her breath escaped her.
"Steven, how long was your..." Pearl hesitated, hoping she would never say these words again. "body out there in the woods?"
"A few hours, I think," Even Steven had trailed off in his speech as he seemed to come to a similar conclusion. "My body might be sick, that's why I can't fuse!"
"But you've never been sick before, though, not like this."
Pearl wanted to tell him thay Gems didn't get sick, but felt that under the circumstances, it would be highly inappropriate to comment. She shrugged instead. She never expected Steven to defuse with himself and end up reforming to physically resemble Pink Diamond. It answered the question of whether Steven could poof but brought up even more countless questions.
"How are we going to transport...other you with the Diamonds right outside?"
Pearl nodded. "That could work," she agreed. "Let's get back out there, before the Diamonds try something."
Steven nodded, retrieving the bubble again.
Yellow looked down at the Off-Color Quartz in mild interest as she tried to explain to her and Blue the concept of a "Steven" and how this all related to Pink.
Honestly, the whole explanation had her a little lost. She recognized the concept of offspring as Diamonds of course had the ability to create their own Gems. It was the explanation that Pink had the help of a human and then created a child was where she was a little lost.
"And Pink and this human created this 'Steven'?" Yellow summarized Amethyst's story, and the Quartz nodded approvingly.
"She had disappeared so he could be here."
Yellow was aware that Pink kept referring to herself as 'Steven'.
Blue voiced her next thought. "But Pink is here," she said, as if stating the obvious. "She apparently did not disappear."
Amethyst shrugged helplessly. "Yeah, that's kind of a new thing." She scratched her head, still a bit floored that she was having casual conversation with Diamonds. Granted, she didn't know as much about Homeworldas say, Garnet, but these were the leaders of what the Crystal Gems rebelled against. And she was explaining human birth to them. Still, she could tell the concept was going a little over their heads.
"I mean he looks like Pink Diamond or whatever, but it's still Steven."
"Maybe this is all some new childish game of Pink's," Yellow finally said to Blue, although she wasn't entirely convinced of her own claim. Pink seemed entirely too serious and withdrawn. It wasn't like her, and she'd just seemed so off since they'd arrived.
It was like she grew up drastically since they'd last seen her. But then again Rose Quartz and Pink Diamond were one in the same. Yellow wondered if she understood her as well as she thought she did.
Blue, thinking about what Yellow said, only sighed, a pained expression taking over her features. "I don't think that's it. She was gone for so long. Even letting us believe she was shattered..."
From below, at the house entrance, the remaining Crystal Gems observed the two dictators awkwardly.
"Is she...is she crying?" Amethyst asked Connie and Peridot in a hushed voice. Connie only shrugged after walking over to the door, seeing Yellow trying to comfort Blue. Peridot trailed behind Connie, looking more miffed than scared, now.
"I wish they would leave already," she huffed, careful to keep her voice down.
"Now that I get good look at them, I can kind of see the family resemblance," Connie said, studying their faces.
"Well, they all have that diamond thing going on with their eyeballs."
Connie nodded in agreement to Amethyst's quip. "Yeah, but I mean their faces," she whispered back. "Steven already shared some features with his mom, but now that he really looks like his mom," Connie gestured to the two giant women.
"Oh yeah, I kinda see it," Amethyst said, squinting.
A sliding sound behind them announced the Temple Door opening.
Pearl stepped out, looking a little downcast with her hands on her hips, a thoughtful expression on her face. Followed by her was Steven, who looked very not like himself and still like Pink Diamond.
A wave of disappointment fell over the crew as Steven stepped into the living room with the bubble containing his human half.
Amethyst clicked her teeth. "No luck, huh?"
"I think I'm sick-My human half, I mean,"
Steven said, careful to keep out of sight of the entrance. He neared Connie, handing her the bubble.
"Connie, do you think Dr. Maheshwaren could take a look at other me?"
Connie tentatively took the bubble, realizing it was vastly lighter than it suggested.
"Uh, sure, Steven," Connie said nervously, hiding her uncertainty. This was the first time she'd seen Steven's actual body since almost a couple of weeks actually. He looked paler than she'd ever seen him before and it reminded her of the real stakes of what was going on. She mentally shook off her discomfort at the situation. Steven needed her help and she would do her best to provide. "What's the plan after that?"
Steven and Pearl shared a look. "We're going to homeworld," Steven announced, a serious look on his face, before it dropped almost immediately. "I think."
Amethyst looked uncertain. "But what about Ruby and Sapphire?" she asked, glancing back at the door entrance. The Diamonds still weren't looking this way, seemingly in conversation with each other. "Can we do this without Garnet?"
As if on cue, the warp pad in front of the Temple door lit up again, signalling someone's arrival.
"Sorry I'm late," Garnet deadpanned, adjusting her shades.
"You're fused again!" Pearl breathed in relief. Amethyst jumped up and down in a hushed cheer while Peridot sagged in relief.
Garnet immediately walked towards Steven, and the group unintentionally tensed.
"Steven, I know now isn't the perfect time," she ventured, removing her shades. Her three eyes looked misty, and she held her gaze as she blinked back tears. "But I am truly sorry. After all this is over, let's talk."
Steven replied with an easy smile. "Thanks Garnet. I was just worried I'd never see you again."
Garnet suppressed a chuckle, but allowed a small smile to creep through. Even now, Steven was worried about everyone except himself.
With a phone call from Connie to her mother, human Steven was transported to the hospital with Lion's help.
She was sure she didn't need it, but Connie decided to bring her sword with her, just in case on their trip to Homeworld. The question that remained though would be where she could put it. Where would they all be riding?
Everyone relocated to the beach ahead of the house now, and Steven approached Blue and Yellow. "Ok, this is everyone," he gestured toward his friends gathered near him.
"You're bringing all of them with you?" Yellow asked, a bit put off. Blue frowned, noticing the fusion.
"The Ruby and Sapphire definitely must unfuse by the time we get to Homeworld," Blue pointed at Garnet.
Garnet didn't visibly react, but her lip curled in what might have been disgust.
"What, why?" Steven cut in. He was aware of Homeworld's feelings on fusion. It was hard to forget Jasper's words those months ago.
"Garnet's my friend, and besides, she's made of love."
"She calls herself a Garnet?" Blue asked, unbelieving. Steven mentally rolled his eyes, wondering if she was even listening to what he just said.
"She's with me," Steven asserted, pointing a thumb at himself. "And remember, we're only coming to talk to White, that's it."
Blue breathed out through her nose. The fusion was in bad taste, but she didn't want to upset Pink too much. They had just reunited with her after all, so perhaps she would allow this for the time being.
"Fine," Blue sighed.
When Steven brought up transportation to Yellow and Blue, Yellow looked at Pink as if she'd said something ridiculous.
"What?" Steven asked, not sure how to read his fellow Diamond's expression.
"Where's your ship?" Yellow asked, surveying the house and the beach. "How else could you have gotten here in the first place?"
"Wait, I have a ship?" Steven parroted. The Crystal Gems and the Diamonds were all standing on the sandy surface in front of the house. He wondered if the Beach City residents noticed two or three giant people walking around recently.
Garnet shrugged when Steven looked at her.
"The Diamonds seem to have a theme going," Connie spoke up. "Seen any giant Pink structures in your travels?"
Steven hummed in thought, tapping his chin.