AN: Welp, here we go! I kinda feel accomplished, considering that this is the first time ever that I've written a Steven Universe fanfiction. So, sorry if someone's a bit out of character, if the title itself doesn't fit with the story, or if I use too many words at the same time (and so on). (Freaking love the show so much!) XD And to be honest, this is the longest I've ever written for one chapter (even though this is more of a one-shot). :{ If you guys wanna review, follow, or favorite this, you're more than welcome to. If not, then okay, I guess. Anyways, I hope you enjoy! :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Steven Universe. Rebecca Sugar does.

XXX~~~XXX~~~XXX

Innocent On the Outside, Guilt On the Inside

It was a dark and stormy night in Beach City, but it wasn't helping this 14-year-old half human half gem boy with anything. It was 1:30 in the morning and Steven wasn't getting as much sleep as he usually gets. Try as he must, but the storm was getting the best of him. Not only was the weather horrible, he also looked like he was having a terrible nightmare, what with the constant tossing and turning he's been doing all night in his bed. He looks scared and confused like he doesn't know what's going on in the dream itself.

XXX

The first thing he sees is darkness. The place Steven's at seemed so empty and silent, except for the flip-flopping noise coming from his sandals. He's been walking around this endless place for quite a bit and has found literally nothing to help him find out where the heck he's at. He stops walking for a second and yells, "Hello?! Is anyone here?! Somebody! A-anybody! Please tell me what's going on! Why can't I see anything?!"

About a few seconds later, he heard an oddly familiar voice calling out someone's name, but not his. "Rose!" It called out in anger.

"J-Jasper?!" He turned around and looked for the said name, but with no luck. He clearly heard the voice, but he doesn't know where it's even coming from. He gulped in fright at this terrifying experience. Could she be talking about the "real Rose?" Or to him, since the orange gem does call him that. But what did she want with Rose (or Steven)? Why did she sound so furious? These questions were repeating in the human-gem's mind for a few seconds until the same voice interrupted him again.

"Rose! ROSE! Why? Why did you do it?!"

'Do what?' Steven thought. He then asked the same question. "D-do what?!"

Before he could get an answer, another familiar voice shouted out, "Rose Quartz!"

"Eyeball?! Jasper! Where are you guys? What do you want with me?!"

"Why did you do it, Rose?!" They both yelled.

"I-I don't know what you guys are talking about, but-"

Jasper's voice then spat out in disgust. "You know exactly what I'm talking about! You are a disgrace to Homeworld and its society because of what you've done, you brutal monster!"

'Brutal monster?' Steven felt offended and hurt by Jasper's comment. Being called a brutal monster. It's bad enough Lars treats him like a jerk and even calls him one. Now Jasper's calling him a monster. What did he do to deserve this? What if they're not even talking about him? They couldn't be, even though they think he's his mom, which is somewhat true. He knows nothing about 'what he did,' and he has told them before: he's not Rose. Even if he's told them, they still don't believe him, so he has no idea if they're talking about him or his mother. Our both. The hurtful name, though. 'Brutal monster.' That was painful enough to shatter someone's heart to pieces, especially someone who would never hurt a fly.

Steven then started to run, tears running down his face. Trying to escape the horrible, horrible insanity of the voices in the dark, he tries to find somewhere else to be. Anywhere, but where he's at now.

It wasn't too long though that he bumped into a tall, pleasantly familiar gem that he knows will protect him from any harm. Knowing that he's now safe, he hugged the gem as tight as he could, not wanting to let go.

"Garnet! We need to get out of here. Jasper and Eyeball are here, but I don't know where. They keep calling me my mom and asking me why I did it, but I don't know what they're talking about. And…"

Instead of trying to calm the human gem, Garnet just stood there, silently, and looking down at him. She doesn't look worried at all. Not a hint of concern was shown on the fusion's face. She put her left hand on her face, sighed and finally spoke, but it wasn't the usual calm, soothing voice she always had. If anything, it sounded harsh. "Of all decisions she's made, why did she bring youinto existence?" She pointed at the young boy as she emphasized 'you.'

Obviously knowing that something is wrong, Steven took a couple of steps back slowly from the strange acting Garnet. He felt a tingle from his spine by her reaction when she saw him. What does she mean 'why did she bring him into existence?' Didn't she tell him that Rose wanted him to experience life on Earth? Of how she was willing to give up her physical being for the young child? Why was she acting this way? "Huh? Garnet, I-"

Another gem stepped forward to where Steven could see who it was. She looks exactly like Pearl. Same appearance, same gem, but once she opened her eyes, her usual light blue pupils weren't there at all. She looked very angry, which was freaking the young boy out. Then she, like Garnet, spoke harshly, "The one thing we had in our lives. Who we all loved. Who gave us hope, courage, and dignity. Gone forever. Because of you.It's all your fault, you hybrid abomination!"

"P-Pearl? I thought you guys…" Tears had, again, formed on the young boy's eyes. The closest family he has, outside of his dad, are now saying it's his fault for Rose not existing anymore? All this time, he was afraid of even mentioning the former Crystal Gem leader to anyone, and now, he's afraid of saying anything at all to them because of what they would say next. He stood there, shocked, scared, and now upset. He took one more step back in an attempt to escape, but, out of nowhere, a purple crystal whip was thrown at him and tied him up like a rope, causing him to fall down. He struggled with all his might to get out, but was proven pointless.

The owner of the whip was the short, gem warrior we all know, or used to know. She walked up close to the human gem with an angry look on her face. And she, like Pearl, doesn't have any pupils in her eyes.

"Amethyst! Please snap out of it! Garnet! Pearl! Why are you doing this to me?! Was it something I've done?! Please tell me!" Those tears were now running down his cheeks as he was starting to cry. He was getting dragged closer to the gems that he now no longer knows. They can't be the Crystal Gems. They're not the Crystal Gems. That's not Amethyst who's pulling him with her whip. That's not Pearl who's giving him the horrifying death stare. That's definitely not Garnet who summoned her gauntlets, getting ready to… Wait a minute. "Garnet? GARNET!" Right when the said gem's gauntlets formed a fist, she struck Steven's face, causing him to black out.

XXX

"AAAAAAHH!" Steven shouted and immediately sat up from his bed. He hasn't had this horrible of a dream since he unintentionally connected with Lapis Lazuli's mind from way back when, except this was much worse.

He put his hand over his fast beating heart and was inhaling and exhaling somewhat heavily. The weird thing about that dream, though, was that that's how he feels about the Gems in terms of talking about Rose. He's too scared to say anything relating to his mother because he feels that they think he's the main reason that Rose isn't here now. Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl all show him they love him and they say they will do anything to keep him safe, even if it means risking their own lives. Steven's not sure if they truly care about him to do and say so or if they're just doing it to make him feel safe and secure to not cause any more trouble. There are times when the gems have saved him from death, like when they pulled him into the roaming eye right before he ran out of oxygen in his bubble, but they might have done that because he's the only piece of Rose that they have might want him to be here because he was the last thing Rose had left behind, and they would rather have a little piece of Rose than to have nothing from her at all.

He started to calm down as time went by. The entire room then remained silent until he heard his stomach rumbling. "I guess I can't sleep with an empty stomach." He said and quietly chuckled. Steven pushed the big blanket out of his way, got up, and went downstairs into the kitchen so he could get himself something to snack on. After he opened the fridge, though, he saw nothing to rely on as a quick snack, except for a plate of a lunch meat sandwich. Made with sliced chicken, a couple of sliced tomatoes, a piece of lettuce, and mayonnaise spread on bread, of course.

Steven took the sandwich, seeing this as the only option he has as of right now, closed the fridge, went back upstairs, and sat on the floor in front of his bed. "I may as well watch Crying Breakfast Friends for now." He then grabbed the remote and turned on the TV to watch the said show.

Ten minutes later, the temple door opened and out came Amethyst. She stopped as she saw Steven sitting on the floor, watching his weird cartoon and eating a sandwich. "Steven. What're ya doing up so late?"

"Oh. Hey, Amethyst. I got hungry and couldn't sleep, so I'm eating a snack and watching Crying Breakfast Friends." The young hybrid took a bite of his sandwich and watched the purple gem go to the fridge to find herself something. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, ya know. Getting snacks." She opens the door to search for any goodies that could be left for her to eat. Unfortunately, she saw nothing. "Oh man. There's nothing good in here. Ah well. Guess I'm gonna have to take these eggs then." She then grabbed the carton of eggs, closed the fridge, and started to walk back to the temple door. The reason she took a carton of eggs was beyond the young boy.

Steven thought about asking Amethyst this question since she came out of her room: 'How do you feel about mom being gone?' He was really tempting to ask her, but how would she react? Would she stop hanging out with him? Would she just yell at him in anger for even bringing up the subject? Or would the dream become a reality? Okay, that last part is kinda doubtful, but it's still a possibility. Plus, he already somewhat told her about "not being what he's supposed to be" and "how he works hard to live up to her standards." Would she still think better of him when he brings up Rose in a conversation like that? 'I have to ask. I have to.' Steven then, hesitantly, takes the opportunity to ask before Amethyst leaves. "Hey, Amethyst."

"Yeah, dude?" She stopped right in front of the warp pad, turned around and gave him her full attention. Hopefully.

'Now's my chance. All I have to say is: 'How do you feel about mom being gone?' How hard is that? But what if she...' Steven started sweating out of nervousness from thinking about how Amethyst would respond, but he still has to ask, regardless. He mustn't waste time. "How do you feel about…"

...

"...About what?"

He looked at his sandwich for a bit, immediately having second thoughts. He's now wondering if it's even worth asking. Of all the trouble they go through, they don't need another added to the list. He knows how Pearl feels about Rose and why she stayed on Earth. He also knows about how the Homeworld Gems feel about the fusion of Ruby and Sapphire and how Garnet met his mother. And yes, he knows about Amethyst's origin and how abnormal, small, and weak she feels comparing to Jasper. Well, at least before the orange gem became corrupted anyways. Also about how Rose was there to tell her she's perfect just the way she is whenever she felt self hatred. Giving up on his question, he instead asks, "How do you feel about me giving you the rest of my sandwich?"

"Sure, man. Bring it here." She says and stretches her right arm over to where the youngest Crystal Gem is. After he gives her the sandwich, her arm goes back to normal size, she thanks him, and goes back into her room. The temple door opened and once she entered her room, it closed.

Right when Crying Breakfast Friends was over, Steven turned off the TV, got in his bed, and covered himself back up. He was looking at Sir Bearington, which was to his right. As he pulls the teddy bear closer to him, he says, "I wish you could help me, but if I told you my dream and my problem, you might think I'm crazy. A fool. … A monster." He felt like he was going to cry after saying the last part, but tried to avoid it by wiping the tears from his eyes and attempts to not think about the nightmare again. He finally drifted off to sleep and hugged Sir Bearington tightly for comfort as he does so.

~~~XXX~~~

The temple door opens and Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl all came out of the bubbling room. They stopped on the warp pad for a minute as they were speaking, already in the middle of a conversation.

"But do you think it'll work?" Pearl asks with a concerning tone and look.

"It might. Jasper fused with an already corrupted gem, which caused it in the first place, but the Diamonds have damaged the monster a long time ago. So she could have the same effect passed on to her once she fused. It's a possibility for whether or not healing her would actually work. We'll have to see." The fusion told her as she adjusted her visors.

They walked over to the opposite side of the room and sat on the bench next to the screen door, with Pearl, sitting closest to the said door, Amethyst next to the fridge, and Garnet in between the two.

"But if it does work, what if she tries to hurt Steven? What will we do then?" Pearl asks.

"That's why we'll have Amethyst tie her up before she does do anything."

Everything was silent for a moment, until a slight snore had ruined it. They looked up at Steven's bed and noticed that the young boy was still sleeping, which was very unusual at this time of day.

"He's still asleep? Amethyst, have you been out here, keeping him awake all night?" Pearl whispers.

"No. He was awake when I got out. Think he said he couldn't sleep."

"Well, we'll have to wake him up and-"

"No." Garnet interrupted. "We'll let Steven wake himself up and when he's ready, then we'll go to the bubbling room and let him heal Jasper. He'll be a while, though."

The young human gem rolled over and opened his eyes a bit. It seemed very bright out for a morning. It's too early for the sun to be shining so intensely. He heard familiar voices in his room as well. He sat up to see who it was, and, fair enough, the Crystal Gems are out of their rooms, talking. About what he has no idea. They were talking until, of course, they see him waking up.

"Steven. Did you.. sleep okay?" the pale gem asked him in a light tone, like she usually does.

"I slept okay, I guess." he responds drowsily and yawns afterwards. He shields his eyes from the very bright sun with his hand and asks them, "But, why is it so bright in the morning?"

"Your clock says 2:34 pm. Isn't it usually bright at this time?" Pearl asks rhetorically.

The young boy yawned again and tried to get himself out of bed without falling. He came downstairs, grabbed some clothes, and walks towards the bathroom while telling the three, "I'm going out then. Maybe grab a bite. Or three. You guys can continue doing whatever you were doing. Sorry for interrupting." He then went into the bathroom and shut the door for privacy.

~~~XXX~~~

Steven walked out of the bathroom a few minutes later, dressed in his signature red t-shirt with a yellow star in the dead center, his blue jeans, and his red sandals. Instead of looking tired and drowsy, like before, he looked worried and stressed, like something's been bothering him. He sees the gems, still sitting where they were before. Garnet, having her arms crossed and one leg over the other, was doing nothing, Amethyst was laying upside down, eating Chaaaaaps!, and Pearl, being Pearl, was folding his laundry. "I thought you guys were going on a mission or something."

"We were going to, but we were waiting for you because we need you to come with us on this mission. Well, it's not really a mission, to say. It's actually more of a… task. You could let us know when you're ready." Pearl tells him as she finished folding a shirt and picked up a pair of socks to fold them as well.

"O-okay, but I was gonna be out for the rest of the day. Sorry." He then started to walk to the door and grabbed the knob, but before he opened it, he says, "I hope you guys are okay with that. Maybe we can do this task tomorrow?"

"It's fine, dude." Amethyst told him, then took a handful of Chaaaaaps! and shoved it in her mouth.

"We'll be alright. And Steven…"

"Hm?"

Garnet then puts her hands in the shape of a heart, smiles, and tells him, "...I love you."

He smiled a little and told the three, "Okay, see ya later." Steven finally opened the door and left.

~~~XXX~~~

Inside The Big Donut, Sadie and Lars were talking about what to do after they were done with work. They've improved their relationship ever since Steven spent a whole day inside of the latter's body one time. Lars had noticed then how much of a jerk he's been acting like throughout the years. They now hang out a little more often than they used to, whether it's over at either of their houses or in public, and Lars hasn't been acting like a jerk, especially, to Sadie recently.

"Why not come over to my house today? We could watch another movie if you'd like." The blonde asked.

"I don't know, Sadie. We've already watched a movie just last week, and I don't feel comfortable hanging around over there when your mom's around. She never stops talking once we start a conversation. "

"Yeah, I agree with you there." She said, putting her hand on her chin, embarrassed about that event.

"Exactly. So instead of going to your house, how about we go out for dinner? It'll be my treat." He offers.

It took her a while to think about it. Dinner does sound good to her, especially after a long day at work. Before she could answer, though, the door opened, meaning a customer is wanting some delicious donuts. This customer, however, seemed a bit less happy than he usually is, considering how he was always filled with joy.

Steven walked to the counter with a sad look on his face, looking down a bit, eyes concentrating on the floor, having his hands in his pockets, and sighed.

"Hey, Steven. How's it going?" Sadie asked the young hybrid.

"Hey, Sadie. I'm doing fine. Hi, Lars." He said quietly and depressingly. He was browsing the varieties of the donuts, which were over to his right, deciding which ones looked good enough to eat. Of course they all look good. He's had all the different kinds they had in the store. He finally sees the ones that he wanted and chooses those two by pointing at them and telling the employees, "Can I have the glazed donut with sprinkles over there, and a creme filled one over here, please?"

Already knowing what he has to do, Lars went to the donut area, picked out the said foods, and put them in a bag. If there was an option of not doing anything and still get paid, he would definitely do it, but, of course, life never likes to be fair. He may as well get his job done and not get fired.

Sadie went over to the register to calculate how much the donuts were, which were not that expensive, considering it's a small town they're living in. "That'll be $1.25." She looks over at the young boy and he still looks depressed, like something's been bothering his little brain all day. Everybody knows there's always a way to wipe that sad look off his face because he hardly ever gets sad. Steven, of all people. She couldn't stand to see him look like that because it makes her feel bad. In an attempt to make him wipe the sadness out of his face, Sadie asks, "Steven, are you okay? You look like somebody stole the happiness right out of ya. Did you do something?"

While searching his pockets for the correct price, he responded. "I'm fine. I just didn't get a lot of sleep. That's all." Which was little bit of a lie. It was true that he didn't get a lot of sleep, or at least he felt like it. Something has been bothering him since he first woke up this afternoon, but he doesn't feel comfortable telling anyone about his personal problem, unless it was his dad. It's bad enough people have problems of their own that they have to deal with, especially the gems. So why should they have to care about what he goes through every day? Though, it's true he already told the Cool Kids and Connie about some of his problems, which, even then, he didn't feel comfortable telling, he doesn't wanna rely on everyone for emotional support. He doesn't need the world to know the trouble he's in.

He finally got a dollar bill and the other 25 cents out of his pockets, gave the change to the young blonde, and took the bag of donuts. "See ya." He told the two employees and left the building, leaving behind a 'Ding! Dong!' noise in the process.

Steven walked out of the Big Donut and was looking for a place to sit and enjoy his snack. While doing so, he was walking around, thinking about the nightmare he had last night. He really wants to tell the gems about this, but he feels so scared and nervous about it. He doesn't know how they would react. Earlier, Garnet just told him she loves him, but, again, she could've just said that to make him feel better and to not cause any tension. They could be hiding their true feelings about him by saying these things to make him feel safe and confident, and playing around to make him feel comfortable around them. Masking their true emotions be blanketing it with joy, playfulness, and support. This was starting to make the young human gem question about the three Earth guardians. Maybe he could tell his father about his nightmare, but what if he freaks out about this and forbids him from going on missions with Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl? Would he be as flipped out as he was when he told him about Peridot and Jasper almost taking him to Homeworld? Nevermind that. He can't tell anyone about his nightmare. He must keep this a secret between Steven and Steven only.

The young hybrid finally found a bench to sit, which was in front of the beach and by the boardwalk. He went over to the said bench and sat down to eat the delicious, sugary, sweet tasting donuts. He grabbed the creme filled donut out of the bag and took a bite. It was plain flavored, filled with fluffy white icing, and light brown glaze spread on top. The taste was indeed sweet, but it still didn't make him happy. Not a grin was shown on the young human gem's face.

He then heard a young, familiar, distant, but nearby voice, calling out his name. "Steven?"

"Connie! What are you doing here?"

The young girl went over to the bench, sat next to him, and said, "Looking for you. I was gonna go to your house and see if you're okay because you haven't responded to my text message at all. I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today."

"Oh. Sorry, Connie. I was just sleeping in a little. Didn't get a lot of sleep last night. But I'm okay now. We can hang out if you're still up for it." He told her. Hanging out does sound like fun, especially with Connie. If there's anyone to make him feel better about himself, she's the one person he could count on.

"Are you sure you're okay? You didn't look very happy when I saw you. It's something wrong, Steven?"

The fourteen-year-old put his bitten donut back in the bag to save it for later. Should he really tell her what's going on? She should be worried about her school and all her other human stuff. Plus, her sword training with Pearl, which she's already an expert on. She, of all people, shouldn't need to know what's going on with him in his life. He shouldn't have to put all his problems out on her like some emotional weight she has to carry around. She's better off not knowing.

"E-everything's fine, really. Just the lack of sleep getting the best of me." Steven chuckled and tried to at least smile so she wouldn't see him looking so depressed.

But she's not buying it. She can obviously tell that he's lying. Steven's never sad when everything's okay. There's something going on that he's not telling her about. He needs someone to listen to him when he feels like something's on his mind, whether it be good or bad, and to support him, if not Greg or the gems. "Steven, everything's not alright. I know something's wrong. If there wasn't, then you wouldn't look as sad as you are right now, and I should know. If you don't tell me what's wrong, then how am I supposed to help? You can't keep everything to yourself. There are times when people seek help and support when they're feeling down. Nobody can keep their problems bottled up forever. And, remember when I said 'I want to be a part of your universe?' I still wanna be and I mean it. So please, tell me what's going on." She says as she puts her left hand on the young human gem's shoulder for comfort.

He looks at the ground and tells her, "I can't. I don't want you to-"

"Steven. Just tell me. I'm going to worry if you don't."

Why did he have that dream last night of all nights? He couldn't have dreamed it two days ago or tomorrow? He really didn't wanna tell her. He shouldn't have to, and she shouldn't have to know everything he's going through. He wishes there could be a way to reverse time and block out that event from last night, but there isn't, unfortunately. Now he has no choice, but to tell his soon-to-be former secret.

He looks back over at the young 12 and three-quarter-year-old girl, who's patiently waiting for him to speak his mind. He then realizes how much she's willing to help him and how much she's supporting him. She cares about him much more than he thought she did. She wants to know because she's concerned about his well being. She was always there whenever he felt down, sad, and depressed, and this is the perfect example. She's willing to take the stress that's been burdening inside of him because she knows that he goes through so much for such a young age. Heck, he's older than her too! 'She really does care about me. Why am I just now realizing this?' He thought to himself.

As Connie puts her hand back down, the young human gem inhaled deeply, said, "Okay," and told her his story:

"Last night, I had a dream about Jasper and Eyeball. She's just like Ruby, except her gem is on her left eye." He points to his left eye, then puts his hand back down and resumed. "Anyways, I was walking in a really dark place, asking where I am. Then, I heard Jasper and Eyeball asking 'why I did it,' but they kept calling me Rose. I could hear them very clearly, but it was so dark, I couldn't see them. I didn't even know where their voices were coming from. I asked them what I did, then Jasper called me a 'brutal monster.' I ran away so I could try to get their voices out of my head. At least, I thought they were voices. I kinda got them out of my head, but then I bumped into Garnet and told her about Jasper and Eyeball. At first, I thought she was gonna do something about it, but instead, she…" Steven started to tear up and was trying to hold back the more tears he still has inside. Just the thought of that horrible thing Garnet said in his dream made him feel torn apart.

In a cracked voice, he continued with the tragic story. "... She asked why mom decided to bring me into existence. Pearl walked in and said that I took their courage and hopes away and called me a hybrid abomination. I tried to run away again, but then, Amethyst tied me up with her whip and dragged me closer to them. I asked them what's wrong, but they completely ignored me! Then, Garnet…" He couldn't hold it in anymore. He covered his face with his hands as more tears were running from his eyes like a faucet.

Connie, too, felt a bit teary eyed at this awful experience. He felt like he was discriminated by his own guardians. His own family! How could she not sympathize the poor boy? But what did Garnet do that upset him so much? "Garnet what? What did she do?" She asked him.

"She punched my face with her gauntlets." He started sobbing for a few seconds, taking that time to let his emotions out for a bit. After he stopped crying, he looked up at Connie and told her, "The scariest thing about that dream is that's how I feel when I think of mom. Like it's my fault that she's not here. Like they hate me because I took her away. I feel like I could never live up to her standards. Sometimes, I feel like they don't even care about me. Like they don't want me to be here, and that they'd rather have mom back."

"Steven. I-I'm so sorry. I didn't know you were upset about this. But I don't think the gems hate you. If anything, I'm sure they'll do anything to make you happy because you're you, not a part of your mom. They'll do whatever it takes to make sure you're safe, even if it means risking their own lives. Remember when you told me about how you broke everyone out of space jail and how Garnet beat Jasper in that ship? Not only was she saving this planet and the lives in it, she was also saving her friends. Her family! You! They've done so much for you and they always will! They would never give you up for anything, no matter what. Why would they want to get rid of you just because your mom's not physically here? I know I'm not the gems, but I think it's impossible to hate someone who's done everything for them and not expect anything in return. Besides,..." the young dark-haired girl scooted a little closer to Steven and held his hand with both of hers.

"If you never existed, then I would never have any friends. I would still be the shy, quiet, and lonely girl that I was a few years ago. I wouldn't be the person that I am today if I've never met you. Steven, I'm glad you're here today. I'm glad that I have someone to look up to for support, no matter what situation it is. And I'm so happy that I get to be a part of your universe. You've changed my life! I used to think that the world doesn't have a lot to offer, but when I began sword training with Pearl, I've realized that I, too, could be a part of the team to save this planet! I can help with your magical destiny missions! You've done so much for me, Steven, and I wanna do the same for you." She says and blushes in the process.

After what she told him, the young curly-haired boy thought about what she said and how confident she sounded. Though she doubts the gems think any less of him, he doesn't know whether or not they themselves think better of him for who he is and not who his mother was. Sure they would do anything to make him happy, but should he tell them his dream? After all, the dream Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl are nothing like the real gems. Though he feels like they don't love him, they have done a lot to keep him safe, comfortable, and happy. He's living in a house they made for him for crying out loud! However, he has seen how they act whenever his mother was brought up in any conversation, especially Pearl. It was heartbreaking to say the least. The more he thought about this, the more nervous he gets. How on Earth would they react?!

It took a few minutes to think it through, but Steven has finally made up his mind.

They both got up from the hard bench and stretched out their legs. After they did so, Steven rushed over to the young 12 and three-quarter-year-old girl, with tears, and hugged her as tight as he could without taking away her breath… literally. "Thank you, Connie." He quietly told her.

Hearing what he said, she returned the embrace and the thanks. "Anytime, Steven. I'm here for ya. That's what friends are for, right?"

They kept the hug fest going for a bit, but then let go of each other. It was still kinda bright outside, so there was enough time to at least get dinner. Speaking of which, Steven just realized that he still has two donuts in a bag, sitting on a bench. He grabbed the said bag and told the young girl, "You wanna get something to eat? I could save these for tomorrow."

"Sure. I guess it won't hurt anything."

They walked over on the boardwalk and tried to find a quick dinner. A few minutes later, they came across two restaurants, Beach City Boardwalk Fries and Fish Stew Pizza, which are surprisingly still open. The two young kids were settling on which kind of food they were hungry for the most, and it didn't take long for them to decide to eat at the pizza restaurant.

~~~XXX~~~

The two best friends were on their way to the half human's house, full from all the pizza they've eaten. They agree though that a long walk was good for their bodies so as not to have trouble sleeping at night.

"Are you sure you wanna tell them? I mean, I'm not saying you shouldn't."

"I'll be alright. Are you sure you don't wanna go home, though? I could get Lion and take you if ya want. Not that I don't want you here, but won't your parents worry about where you've been?"

"Oh gosh! Thanks for reminding me. I better call them right now." Connie did just that as they walked up the sandy hill and up the wooden stairs. She walked over to the little white table to better understand what her mom or dad are saying and Steven patiently waited for her to get an okay from her strict, but safe caretakers.

It didn't take long for her to hang up her phone and walk back over to the front door. "They said I could stay until 11, which is actually kinda surprising. I know they said they were gonna cut back on the rules a while back, but I didn't know this would be one of them."

"That's great!" The young boy says in excitement as he opened the door and found the gems standing by the counter, talking. About what, he has no clue. Amethyst was sitting on one of the stools, Garnet was standing to the left of the short gem, and Pearl was on the other side, slightly leaning on the counter. "Hey, guys."

That caught their attention quickly. "Oh. Hello, Steven. Connie. What brings you here?" The pale gem asks.

"C-can we talk? I-I have something to tell you." He hesitantly says.

"Of course." Garnet told him and walked over to sit in the middle of the couch. She could tell by his tone that something wasn't right and it couldn't wait any longer.

Everyone else followed suit with Connie, sitting to the fusion's right, Amethyst and Pearl to her left, and Steven, who set the bag of donuts on the table, sat on the fusion's lap.

The thin motherly figure asks with curiosity and concern. "So, what is it that you're wanting to tell us?"

"Yeah, man. Spill the beans!" The purple gem yelled and slammed the little table with her fist, which irritated Pearl. "Amethyst!" She says in a quiet, but stern tone.

This is it. No turning back. This secret is now no more. He's going to tell the gems not only about his nightmare, but also how he feels about them when they think of Rose, which relates to the said dream. How will they feel after everything they've done for him? Would they still love him? Steven's guardians? The ones who look out for him on missions, spend time with him, doing human activities, or just playing around. The ones who made his house and have watched over him, whenever his dad couldn't, since he was a baby. Would they even do these things anymore?

He felt very nervous now that he has everyone's attention, but this is the perfect time. They're all ears on what he has to say that's very important. However, before he started, he told the gems, "Can you guys promise not to get angry at me?"

"Steven, why would we be angry?" Pearl asked, confused as to why he would ask such a request.

"Because of a nightmare I had last night." So then, he told the three Earth guardians the whole story about how Jasper and Eyeball called him Rose and were asking him 'why he did it,' how he was scared and kinda ran away from them, how he met his three mothers and that Garnet asked why Rose brought him into existence, that Pearl called him a 'hybrid abomination' because of how he took Rose away, and how hurt he felt by it. He brought up when dream Amethyst tied him up with her whip and dragged him to them against his will. He finally told them how Garnet punched him with her gauntlets, which terrified the fusion and brought her to tears, and how he feels about them not loving him because of how he thinks they view him as being much weaker than his mother, how he feels like they've never nor will ever love him because of who he is, and how he feels that he'll never live up to her standards. He even said that he feels as if they're only doing what they do to not cause any more trouble than necessary.

Neither of the gems could believe what they were hearing. All of this was coming from the youngest Crystal Gem's mind. This is how he feels about them? Like they were just masking their emotions to make him feel better? He's kept this a secret for so long and he's just now telling them? This was very scary and upsetting to hear, especially because he thinks they have so much hatred towards him just because he 'took their leader away.'

Pearl was driven to tears. Her own baby thinks that she hates him because he knows how she feels about Rose. She even said so herself that she was beautiful and wonderful, but now, she's no longer here. He thinks that she's only watching over him because he reminds her of his mother. She thought she knew the young boy so well, but now it's like she hasn't met him at all. Sure she misses the former leader, but she didn't know that the son of Rose Quartz felt discriminated and destroyed about all this. The ballerina gem felt devastated and heartbroken.

Amethyst didn't feel any better. She, too, felt heartbroken about this thought. She got teary eyed, but she didn't visibly cry her eyes out like Pearl did. Instead, she was mentally sobbing. She was supposed to be the big sister to the son of Rose Quartz, letting him know that she'll help him out with any situation that he's having trouble in. She feels as if she's broken that promise to pieces and thrown it out into the sea. To avoid letting anyone see how upset she is, she covers her face with her hands and her hair.

Garnet. Nobody can feel anymore undone, self hating, and guilty than she does. As close as she wanted to be with the young boy, she felt like he didn't want her anywhere near him, despite the fact that he's literally sitting on her lap right now. She feels like she's the one responsible for making him feel the way he is now because she's the leader. She's supposed to support him in any situation, whether it be good or bad. She couldn't stand to hear him think so lowly of himself. Steven Quartz Universe. The half human half gem kid who's always so positive about his surroundings, the people, anything. Never, in his entire life has she ever heard him say anything so hateful about himself. More tears were coming out of all three of her eyes at this point. Garnet felt like she was going to unfuse right then and there, but she can't. She must keep it together. She has to stay strong. For her planet. For her team. For Steven.

She takes off her visors, revealing her teary eyes, and tells the youngest gem, who's also crying, "Steven. Why do you think we would do such a thing to you? Of course we miss Rose, but we would never forgive ourselves if you were gone because of us, or anything for that matter. You have brought so much joy, happiness, and love to us throughout your whole life. From the time you were born all the way up til today and you still do. It hurts us so much to see you torn apart because you think we hate you. We, as the Crystal Gems, would do anything to make sure you're safe and sound, even if it means that we have to be shattered."

Steven stops crying. He wiped his wet eyes as he was listening to more of what Garnet tells him.

"And it's not your fault that Rose isn't here right now. She made the decision to let you experience this world. She was willing to give up her physical being for your existence. She told us herself that she wasn't going to be on Earth when you were born. She was aware of this. She was willing to make that sacrifice and we accepted it. Steven, even if you do hate us because of how we've been treating you, we'll still love you until we're shattered, and even after that. I'm sorry you feel this way to us. If you forgive us, we'll be more open about Rose whenever you wanna talk about it. If you wanna talk about it. If you don't, then we'll understand. We'll leave you alone for however long you want us to. We won't bother you if you're not in the mood to deal with us, and we won't spend time with you if you feel like we don't deserve it. It scares us that you're hiding these feelings and not telling us what's going on. Especially about your mother. We wanna know because we wanna help. And we wanna help because we love you. Again, I'm sorry."

After the fusion apologizes for the second time, the young boy looked at the three gems. The tone in Garnet's voice is telling him that she genuinely means what she said. They weren't angry or disappointed in him. They were scared and upset because he wasn't open about his feelings to the gems in terms of his mother, like Garnet said. What was he thinking? The gems would never hate him or discriminate him for who he is. If anything, that's the reason why they love him so much. Not just because he's a part of Rose, but because he's the symbol of friendship, love, and hope. He's the reason Amethyst has matured more. He's the reason Pearl became more calm, less picky about things, and hardly ever fights the short gem anymore. He's the reason Garnet has been more open about her feelings and has become more loving towards the young hybrid. He's also the reason Connie has changed from the shy and quiet girl to the exciting, confident, and friendly person she is now. Steven is the love that binds everyone together.

The young 14-year-old hugs Garnet as tight as he could, not ever wanting to let go, as little droplets of tears came out of his face. The fusion returned the embrace while Amethyst and Pearl joined in on the hug fest, meaning that they have been forgiven. "I'm sorry I made you guys feel scared. I didn't know how you would react when I told you. And, I didn't wanna take this stress on you guys either." He tells them.

"Don't apologize. We're the ones that should be sorry. And don't feel like you're taking your stress out on us. There's nothing that you say or do that'll make us feel frustrated. If anything, I'm glad you told us." The tallest gem said.

This made the young girl feel so happy, seeing her best and only friend be so loved by his guardians. She kinda wishes to join in and to tell the young boy 'I told you so,' but she doesn't wanna ruin the special moment for the family. Steven deserves this, after everything he's been through.

Seeing that Connie was being left out at the hug fest, Steven opened his arm, allowing her to join.

"A-are you sure it's okay for me to..." She says and blushes in the process.

"Don't be silly, Connie. Friends hug, and we're friends, right?" he tells her, still offering her to join.

Now wanting to take this opportunity, Connie rushes over to Steven and the gems and joined in on the hug fest. She, along with everyone else, was treasuring this valuable moment

The silence was broken when Steven tells everyone, "I love you guys."

The gems tell the lovable half human, "I love you too, Steven." And they mean it with all their gemstones.

Though Connie was more stuttery about it, she also said, "I-I-I l-love you too," and she means it with all her heart.

All is forgiven. Steven and the gems still love each other, and the baby of the team has strengthened everyone's relationship more than before. Now, the young boy truly feels like he has someone, or 'some-three' to be open to about anything without feeling like a burden. Because he knows that they'll be there when he needs them the most. Connie is still his sweet best friend, Garnet and Pearl are still his motherly figures, and Amethyst is still his big sister that he can also look up to, but this time, their love is stronger than ever.

* The End *