Steven happily sighed to himself as he took a sip of his protein shake. He could hardly believe he had been on the road for nearly two years and had been where he was, having traveled to almost all thirty-nine states. The only one he had left was Astorigon, in the Northwestern States area.
Astorigon had been noted for the scenic terrain, due in part to the Hollow Mountains that extended into Canada. That had been enough to save this state for last. However seeing the mountains wasn't the main thing that drew him to it. Steven had learned about a special place inside the mountains that was branded as a meditation retreat for "personal healing". Even with all the experiences his journey had brought him, getting healed was his main priority.
He still had the talks with his therapist about his good and bad experiences as well as his coping strategies. There were hardly any pink moments any more. Most of it had been cleared up by being more open to his friends and family, ESPECIALLY the Gems. He hoped he would never have to use Diamond powers for a while.
However the more Steven thought about looking into the retreat, the more he realised how much he could slip back into being too private. Considering he had only told just his therapist and Connie there was some concern about reverting back into being private to the point of isolation.
Steven decided to call his therapist on his phone.
"Hello? Listen I get your concern over me doing this… w-wait you're actually in agreement with me over this? Well okay I'm about to head into the Hollow Mountains and I don't know how long I'll be there."
Steven glanced back and forth as his therapist gave him directions on how to approach the retreat.
It turns out most people at retreats stayed there for months at most. Steven didn't feel sure about staying that long.
The teen felt like months in one place, especially without most of his family's knowledge and in the last place he visited would not do any good for his situation.
"Maybe a few weeks?" Steven asked.
His therapist said that worked, but it was all up to what he felt comfortable with. Just as Steven nodded to himself he saw the mountains off nearly a mile away. He knew he would need to wrap up the call. His therapist gave him more info about the pay and interaction or what little there would be.
"Thank you for all you've helped me with during this journey." Steven sniffled with a light smile. "This trip has been exactly what I needed l, and it's hard to believe I came this far." He continued.
The therapist thanked him for his kind words and assured that the trip may be ending but the journey was just beginning.
"Yeah. But the reason I didn't let Dad or any of the Gems know about this is because with the 39 states goal almost done I would surprise them with news that I'm coming back to Delmarva " He remarked proud.
With that Steven said bye and returned to his eyes on the road as he made his way into the mountains. All he could do was state in amazement at the only slightly barren land masses that were covered in mostly pine trees with less on top. He made a detour as he cut to a side road which led him deeper into to the valley.
The valley itself was more covered in trees than most of the mountains. The closest mountains were plotted with pathways and cavelike openings. Steven wondered to himself if this is how they got the name "Hollow". He had a brief thought wondering if there were some caves that might actually be holes from more Quarts soldiers that came from Earth. But Steven quickly brushed these thoughts off as he noticed his destination up ahead.
With a sign that said Zen Center for Mountaineers , Steven looked excited. He got out of the car and walked towards the medium sized building. The people there seemed to be limited to a few. Right at the counter he saw a man in his late 40s in a coat. He looked up and Steven gave him the rundown that he could stay 7 days and not have to pay unless he wanted to donate money.
Steven agreed that 7 days could work.
After getting settled in. Steven prepared himself that night as he checked his phone.
"No messages?" Steven wondered. He shrugged it off as he thought about what he was in for as he let it soak in what was a head. He heard about retreats and how intense they could be.
Though he had meditated before with Garnet ,as well as done yoga, he was not sure what to expect.
As Steven woke up the next morning he made some coffee in the retreats kitchen with a side of toast. He would begin in 20 minutes.
The room that Steven and a few others were in was a big space full of tapestries if different symbols including a dragon and phoeinix. The teacher sighed as he spoke.
Take a breath.
Only listen to the vibrations around you and your bodies.
Remember why you're here, but don't panic.
Listen to the reactions throughout your body.
Imagine all your troubles as a beast that has cornered you. But don't provoke it. Just sit and relax.
After that Steven found himself in a familiar blueish pink void of reality as he found himself leaving his body. He floated up as he stared. What was he looking for ?He felt like he was looking for something.
"Uhh what am I looking for?" Steven said aloud.
Just hold on.
After hearing those words. Steven watched expectantly as a pink thorn like crystal burst out of the ground. Steven seemed surprised but slowly approached the strange crystal. But as he walked towards it more thorn crystals seemed to be bursting out behind him, not as big as the one he saw but approaching really quickly the more he walked.
Steven was tempted to just run, but with a deep breath he kept walking more. Before he knew it had had the crystal within his grasp. He held on tightly to it as the ground beneath him vanished. But that sense of panic didn't last long as the crystal burst and something was in the center. It looked like a sphere at first glance but then he looked closer.
There was a hilt on top. It wasn't a sphere it was a sword. A familiar sword. A light pink sword with a rose emblem.
As Steven grabbed the sword he held it with a sense of hesitation before pulling the sword out of the scabbard, pointing it towards the sky.
Everything went black as Stevens projection saw his body in a lotus position as he traveled back towards him.
Then he opened his eyes the session was over.
The teacher asked if he was okay as he had noticed Stevens cheeks had turned pink slightly. But Steven was more relieved that he hadn't turned entirely pink.
That night he went to bed wondering what the sword meant. And why was it his mother's sword of all things. Hopefully he would get more answers the next time he went into that state.
The next day had started off relatively the same as Steven repeated his routine. He had not been more curious for what was to come now knowing something like yesterday could happen.
Once Steven was finally in the astral realm he had found that the sword and scabbard was now on the side of his leg.
Breath and let your mind wander.
Suddenly a flash of the colors of white, yellow, blue and pink appeared as another object rose from the ground but this one seemed more hostile. The more it rose Steven recognised it as a giant robot like thing.
The Diamond Mech.
The machine in question took one look at Steven and slowly raised it's high heeled leg up. Steven realised that the Mech intended to crush him. Steven rushed out of the way as he barely avoided it.
Steven could feel his adrenaline rush as he felt himself grow up to the height of the Diamond Mech.
"Oh no I can't be swelling and growing now!" Steven thought.
But he looked down and … he wasnt swelling nor was he pink. He was just … big.
The Diamond Mech came at him with both fists up going for an uppercut to Stevens jaw. But Steven drew his mother's sword to incapacitate the robot ship. With one swing he sliced off both hands but instantly the ship regrew them back.
Steven readied himself for another attack.
Wait, it's nothing but a big obstacle. What if I don't try to run from it or attack it but I just dodge it?
The Diamond Mech started charging at Steven. Steven merely looked at it with a neutral expression. Before the Mech could land a punch, he backflipped over it until he was right behind it. Steven merely held the Mech from behind without any aggression. Just then the Mech stopped and turned, giving him a familiar peace gesture before vanishing.
Steven found himself falling back as his projection returned to his body.
Another session ended and Steven found himself shaking lightly. But there was a relief as he had done something without force and was clearly having a sense of deja vu.
I'm not reliving memories but why does it all seem so familar. And I'm not even turning pink yet. Steven pondered.
The following days had kept repeating a similar structure, especially with the dreams.
The third day Steven walked up a set of stairs for what seemed like hours all the while murals of his fondest memories of his family and friends passed him by. Even one of his Homeworld family showed up near the end. With the end being an ocean.
The fourth day was all about crossing the ocean ahead with Steven being provided with nothing but his Dondai of all things. Despite that the Dondai couldn't actually travel through water it seemed very fine traveling across the large waves. At times it was rough but the worst ones involved getting a chance to drive along the wave.
"Wow I've never surfed before, but this is the coolest way to do it!" Steven said aloud.
Back in the real world some were caught off guard by Stevens sudden remark but went back to meditating.
The fifth day had Steven in an array of amusement park like rides. The park had been deserted. Steven wanted to try so many of the games and rides but he knew he had to keep walking. Of all the things he had learned in mindfulness is to not dwell on something for to long.
As he found a park ride to mingle on for a little bit though. A shadow had completely overshadowed the whole park causing the whole park to disinintigrate. The shadow in question was coming from a strange mountain with the same pink thorn crystals from his first day meditating at the retreat poking out the sides.
Steven observed and moved toward the "mountain" . But the closer he got the mountain started to rumble. And growl.
"Wait….. this isn't a mountain at all!" Steven thought thunderstruck.
Suddenly the mountain exploded from where it stood revealing a pink-magneta colored Kaiju- like lizard with spikes and horns, arms and legs resembling a wolf's anatomy, and dark eyes with a pink diamond shape barely shining through.
Steven had no time to process this as the monster version of himself roared at him.
Before he knew it he was awake and sweating profusely with cheeks turning pink. But then he settled down and took a few breaths before heading to get some soup to eat.
The sixth day was the only time Steven had actually been dreading his meditation. Though he knew he had to face this monster as he had done many times before. He wanted to make sure he didn't turn pink though so he asked for a private place to do his meditation. His teacher gave him an area in a nearby cave some had used a few times for more private meditating if they didn't feel comfortable.
Steven slowed down and got into his position reentering the astral realm. He was ready to face this monster.
He found himself in the same position he was yesterday facing the same monster. It was surreal for Steven himself to see what he became over a year ago. But now he was ready.
Steven grew to a larger size ready to defend himself. The monsters spikes glowed as it let out a might screech like roar, sending him back. This prompted Steven to pull out the replica of his Rose sword. He thought to himself.
This is me. If I've learned anything these last few months is that I should love myself:all of it.
Steven realised if he applied what he learned during his previous visits than maybe he could see what this final obstacle would do when defeated.
I've got to get him to submit. But how?
With one swipe, Steven struck the reality letting out a force of vines to hold back his monster counterpart. The monster tried screaming but the vines tightened . So it tried something else by blowing out a soundwave at Steven which was held back by his sword guarding his face and it bounced back at the Kaiju-gem.
This was unwise as the force subdued the monster only to have the vines retract. It was angrier now. It charged at Steven.
I have no choice.
Steven slid beneath the monster grabbing its tail and swinging it away. He jumped onto it and grabbed it's spikes to keep himself attached.
As much as the monster fought Steven it couldn't hold him down until he tried to reach for the next causing the monster to get a grip on his hand and threw him over. With a grunt Steven noticed the monster jump on to him possibly to knock him out.
Steven felt himself starting to float off as if he was leaving.
"No! I can't leave, not yet, I can't go back now! Steven shouted. He felt his feet take landing.
The monster had a look of jeer on his face like a sign of saying "this will be fun."
"Ok if I can't subdue him or wrestle him, I should at least knock him off his feet. Or in this case me off my feet." Steven corrected. He threw the sword to the side and put his fists up. The pink monsters spikes gloiwed as it to lifted up it's arms and roared as it pounced up as it sent itself at Steven.
Both monster and human, as both of their arms made contact with each other they were met with different facial expressions angry for one and benevolent for the other.
The monster had collapsed as it could not get back up. Steven approached it with a soft smile.
" Hey, I guess it's been some time huh?" "I know Ive been hard on you before. It felt good to be this way to let everything out didn't it? But this is not who I am now. Maybe I'll see you again but I have too good a life to know that you don't have to be this way. We can exist peacefully together, if I'm lucky I can control this form. But I've learned what not to do from this and now all you have to do is just be". Steven told his monster counterpart.
The monster looked at him with a look of resisted acceptance as it looked Steven in the eye and sighed as it leaned it's head on him. There was a pink glow the monster was no more. All that was left was ..Pink Steven?
Steven opened his eyes taking in the scenery. He finally got it now. Tomorrow he would have a talk with himself.
The seventh and final day rolled in, Steven stayed in the same spot in the cave. The trip to the astral realm was a lot different as there was no surreal situations which was one of the calmer times he meditated. All that was there besides himself was just himself.
Pink Steven had evolved as he had with the same neutral expression. Though see ing his human counterpart made him smile.
"Y- y- you're really here wow" Steven stuttered not knowing what to say.
His pink self nodded.
"You've changed. " He said plainly.
"Yeah …...I guess we both have."
"How do you feel?" Pink Steven asked.
"Relaxed ,. I guess? I don't know, I never knew it would be like this but at times this was fun and not what I expected others, well you know? I mean okay this has been one of the most relaxing parts of my trip, maybe I should make this a daily thing my therapist should know!"
"Whatever you feel like." Pink Steven remarked.
"Wow you sound like Dad or Amethyst like that". Steven noted.
"Isnt that what you wanted?" Pink Steven chuckled.
"I'm leaving tomorrow and I can tell them all about this!" Steven said enthusiastically. "Garnet would definitely like to hear about this, and Connie, and Peridot -"
" Steven what do you think this taught you?" Pink Steven cut him off.
"I feel like theres so much there. Life can get bumpy but you'll be okay with the right support you'll do great or-" Steven paused. " But I learned that I can accept myself for who I am now. Because I've grown. And this trip has helped me. " He smiled satisfied.
"Where will you go now?"
"I think I'll stick around Astorigon for a few more days." Steven admitted before a realisation hit him. " I think I've been away long enough I'm going back for a visit. Who knows how pumped the Gems will be to see me?"
Pink Steven nodded as he faded away.
The next day had been a ball of emotions for Steven he thanked the teacher for his hospitality and patience. Steven ended up donating at least $20 for the experience Leaving the retreat was feeling like he was leaving a familiar place all over again. Steven planned to answer all calls immediately as he got in the Dondai. He would stick around and maybe hike a few of the mountains. He had heard from Connie that nature was inevitable in Astorigon. The mountains were the first to explore. Then maybe the ports cities like Seattle.
Answering all the missed calls was not easy but it was less frantic than Steven thought it would be. Maybe someone had informed everyone what Steven was up to. Connie may have let it slip or Garnet had figured out with her future vision. Everyone was happy for him. But he had told them one last thing as he drove off.
" Guys, thanks but you' d better be prepared." The other looked confused. "Youd better be ready…..BECAUSE IM COMING BACK TO BEACH CITY BABY!""
AN : Thank you so much for reading this! As my first fanfiction I know it's not perfect, but I'm still pretty happy with how this turned out!
I only got into Steven Universe near the end of Future. After that ending I knew there was so many directions I could take this idea I had about Steven kinda confronting his demons and after all the aid he's gotten feel confident enough to tackle it spiritually. That's why you don't have a lot of characters actually sharing dialogue here as I wanted JUST Steven to be the focus.
I also wanted to keep this story surreal but not too edgy. Though I'm aware Stevens problems will not go away he has come so long on his road trip nearing the end of his journey that I think ending it off with a spiritual surreal edge too it was cool to end it this way
Feel free to give a like or leave a review!