By the time we had made it to the front steps of the beach house, my form was already feeling more secure. The body surrounding my gem was recognizable again, comfortable, but my gem was not nearly so secure – still toiling about with emotions I wasn’t sure was all mine. My outer shell was definitely me – Rose Quartz and Pink Diamond, but while my physical form could change and would always be me, something inside the gem itself had been altered. Like another person had dug out a small hole and had lived there for some time, but now that person was gone.
Yet, the hole remained.
Garnet was getting ready to drag my wheelchair up the steps when I dug my feet into the sand.
“No, no. I can get up now. I promise.”
In complete silence, she acquiesced. Meanwhile, I was climbing the steps. My weight became more familiar to my knees, and the motion started to come back to my feet. Heel, ball, left leg, heel, ball, right leg, but even so, I gripped the railing all the way. Pearl seemed to sense my hesitance, and I could feel her energy – her hands – hovering just above my back, prepared to catch me if I did fall.
Despite all the bad that seemed to keep coming since I reformed, I couldn’t help but smile. Pearl was always there, no matter what. The hole in my gem that Steven had left behind began to burn, and memories of Pearl that I myself had never seen began to burst forth as if I had been the one to live them. Her eyes, blue like the Earth’s sky, were so clear when she looked at me in those memories. It wasn’t so different from the way she looked at me before I disappeared. Yet, when she spoke, it wasn’t my name she said. It was…
I hadn’t been paying attention to my feet; instead of focusing on the memories of Pearl that weren’t my memories. As a result, my footing had become unsure, and I crumpled on the very last step onto the beach house’s porch. In an instant, Pearl had dived to my side, gripping me, so I hadn’t hit the ground face-first. When I met her gaze, there were those eyes, but they weren’t as clear as they had been in the memories – Steven’s memories. Instead, they were clouded and distant, as if they were looking somewhere far beyond where I couldn’t see. Much like the sky, they looked like they might rain.
“You called me by his name.”
Pearl’s usual white pallor flushed with a pink tint not unlike my own before she cleared her throat.
“I’m sorry. It’s just… it’s a habit, now.”
She didn’t say anything more, even as she helped me back to my feet. Instead, she took her place ahead of me, gripping the front door and pulling it wide. Inside, a woman stood, her back facing me while she appeared to be staring at the temple entrance. Black hair fell in ringlets down her back, not unlike the very ringlets I had fashioned for myself, but that was where our similarities ended.
As she turned to face me, her eyes lighted on the gems around me with recognition and a cloudy mixture of happiness and sadness, but then they fell on me – specifically the gem exposed on my stomach. I now realized that it was probably a painfully obnoxious reminder of the one who had this gem before her. I was already trying to decide on a new outfit for my form before Pearl stepped into the house and beckoned me in.
“Rosemary, meet Rose – Steven’s mother. Rose, meet Rosemary.”
Rosemary’s skin was a deep brown, and more of those black ringlets spilled over her shoulders and cascaded down her front. Her eyes were a dark brown, so dark they could have been mistaken for black. But, though it was clear by her gaze that she wasn’t pleased, her eyes narrowed and brow furrowed, she still managed to break out a grin.
“So this is the infamous Rose Quartz aka Pink Diamond aka my great grandmother aka my namesake. I didn’t think we would ever get to meet.” With that, she marched forward before offering a hand out to me. “Nice to meet you. I am Rosemary, but you can also call me Rose.”
There was an aura about her – energy I instantly recognized as something a diamond might possess, yet as far as I could tell, she was completely and wonderfully human. It was an air of confidence and strength. It was the knowledge that she could take over the universe. It was one I am sure I probably had given off many times in my life. Still, my hand shook as I took hers into my own.
“I am so happy to meet you.”
Rose mouthed ‘likewise,’ though it didn’t seem she even believed the words herself. Then, as if sensing the tension between us, Pearl once again slipped in with ease, taking our hands and separating them herself before taking her place by Rose’s side.
“Rose is actually a Gem Practitioner. Since more and more gems have immigrated to Earth, more and more humans have gone into fields attempting to study our kind and help us find purpose. Rose has actually been studying gem and human relationships and even created her own degree in–“
“I have a degree in Gem and Human Psychology and Obstetrics. You and grandpa have been my case study since I graduated. You and Greg Universe are the only documented case of a successful human and gem pairing resulting in a child, but you two weren’t the only ones interested in accomplishing that – especially since we are seeing more and more human-gem relationships forming, but I couldn’t in good faith start my practice until I saw what the result was when the human that resulted from this pairing passed…” and before she continued she wiped at her eyes, pulling out the tears that were beginning to spill forward, “You have no idea how bad I feel that grandpa knew my success could only be achieved from his passing.”
Pearl wrapped her arms around Rose’s shoulders, which melted away that intimidating diamond-like aura almost instantly. The tears Rose had released were pouring uncontrollably, and her words had broken down into unintelligible sobs before she turned and buried her face into Pearl’s shoulder. All the while, Pearl hummed and held her tightly to her.
“You know it isn’t your fault. Steven wouldn’t have wanted to do this to you. He loved you so much, Rose.”
It was like an out-of-body experience. First, hearing Pearl saying my name while holding someone with hair like mine nearly engulfing the both of them. Then, hearing Steven’s name, too. It had my head spinning, and that space in my gem was burning once again. I could remember times where I fit in Pearl’s arms, where I knew when someone said Rose, they meant me. Now, though, looking at the scene before me, I could no longer see where I would fit. Where did I belong in this world of my own making?
Thankfully, Garnet was there, resolute as ever, to guide us back to the task at hand.
“We should probably go to Little Homeworld. Everyone is waiting on us.”
Only then did Pearl and Rose part, smiling at each other, though tears continued to fall from their eyes.