Steven looked at the blackboard in front of him in mute terror. It was horrible, terrible, disgusting, mortifying.
"Well you said you wanted something more complicated than division, so I thought the logical next step would be introducing you to Quantum Physics," said Opal, confused. "Maybe I've written it out wrong." She checked it. "No, it's perfect."
Steven sighed. Opal had been teaching him for years now, but she wasn't the best teacher. He could read and write and everything, but sometimes she taught like he was five years old and other times like he was 50 or something.
He still shuddered from the time she assigned him to read War and Peace as 'light weekend reading,' but luckily she'd ended up forgetting about it and taught him how to make friendship bracelets instead.
"Is there anything cool and gem related you could teach me instead?"
Opal thought for a moment. "Well... there is something. We were saving it for when you were a little older, but I guess, you are older so it's okay."She paused."Well, I think, anyway."
From behind them, the temple door opened and Garnet walked out. "He's ready," she said, and Opal flipped the blackboard over to the blank side.
"Steven," she said, "this is a lesson on shapeshifting." In her scribbled cursive, she wrote the word on the board and Steven looked at it in delight. He knew the gems could shapeshift; he'd seen Garnet do it before but he didn't realise…
"You mean, I can do that?"
"Well," Garnet interrupted, "We aren't certain, but we think so. Relax and visualise yourself as what you want to be. Maybe that's larger hands."She demonstrated by stretching her hand until it looked like a large baseball mitt, "or longer legs." She shot up until she was taller than Opal, when normally she only came just past her shoulders.
"I'm gonna make myself really muscly!" Steven flexed his muscles in preparation, but Opal stopped him.
"Take it slow. Make sure you don't hurt yourself. Relax and go with how your body feels. Don't keep going if it feels wrong."
Steven nodded and tried to relax and imagine muscles. Nothing happened. He screwed up his face, and nothing happened. Eventually, he got too tense to continue, and he sat on the couch feeling downhearted.
"Cheer up," said Opal, "Just because your first try didn't work doesn't mean it won't. How about we go back to Quantum Physics. Or we could maybe check that you have the alphabet down perfectly."
"Garnet," Steven whispered, although they were alone in his room, with Opal off in the temple somewhere. He had asked Garnet to tuck him in, so he would get a chance to talk with her alone. "I need to discuss something with you."
"You want to try public school out because Opal's teaching system is too erratic, but you don't want to hurt her feelings so you want me to tell her."
"No! Well... yes, How'd you know?"
Garnet adjusted her shades, "Magic."
"Well... can I? Will you?"
"I've already enrolled you. You can start on Monday. And don't worry, I'll explain everything to Opal."
Opal didn't take it well, but more than anything, she just wanted Steven to be happy. On Saturday, she took Steven out to buy any equipment he would need. Garnet handed a list of everything to Opal, but when she wasn't looking, Garnet handed an identical looking one to Steven.
"For when she loses the first one."
Steven had laughed, but true to Garnet's word, they had only gotten halfway
through the list when Opal announced she'd put it down to collect something on a shelf, (why she just didn't use a different hand Steven didn't know,) and forgotten to pick it back up again.
"Don't worry I have another copy in my pocket." He pulled it out and handed it to Opal. She looked grateful but embarrassed. Steven just shrugged, but made sure to keep a better eye on the list.
Opal was quick and efficient in the shop, reaching things from the top shelf with ease, and easily weaving through the sea of other shopping carts and shoppers. Steven had to jog to keep up with her long strides and they were quickly done. Opal managed to pay with the card that Greg had given them when he found out they were enrolling him in school, although it took her a little too long to remember the pin code on it.
When they were going home, Steven sat on Opals shoulders, her hands securely over his ankles, she spoke up, "I'm happy that you get to do what you choose," she said, "But if you hate it then I'll always be willing to teach you again."
She said that last statement with badly disguised hope in her voice. Steven felt bad, but he knew Opal would be fine. It was only 8 hours a day after all!
Steven was fairly used to waking up early, so the 6am start didn't bother him. He hummed as he ran a comb through his hair and picked his lucky shirt to wear. It looked the same as his other shirts, but it felt lucky. He went downstairs to find that Opal had prepared him a bowl of cereal and milk and that Garnet had packed his backpack for him.
"I'll be taking you in today so I can have a meeting with the leader of your school," said Garnet, "Your father would have joined us, but he's going to be too busy today." The nearest school was a little way out from Beach City, almost half an hours drive and neither Garnet or Opal had a car, but luckily there was a warp pad only a five minute walk away from the school.
As if on cue, Steven's phone rang. The caller ID flashed up to a picture of Greg with a half eaten hotdog, "Hey Little man, I wanted to come with you to meet the Principal, but I'm going to be too busy today."
"That's okay," said Steven, looking at Garnet who was looking slightly smug."Have a good day. I love you."
"I love you too, and I hope your day goes okay. And remember, if anything goes wrong, there's no shame in telling a teacher!"With that he hung up.
"And if anything goes REALLY wrong," said Garnet cracking her knuckles, "You tell me."
Steven had been slightly worried about the meeting, as Garnet had been known to be rather awkward, but he shouldn't have had any doubt. The meeting went well, and she explained he'd only ever been homeschooled before, but he was up to date on all his learning, and before long he was sent to the 6th grade class.
He knocked on the door, suddenly feeling a little shy, and after a minute the door opened. "Ah yes, you're the new student, Steven, is it?"
Steven nodded and gave a small wave to the class. No one waved back. "Well, my name is Mrs Depen, and you're in luck. We were just about to begin, but why don't you tell us a little about yourself first."
Steven stood and looked out at the rows of students, hoping to see a friendly face or a smile, but there was nothing. "Um, my name is Steven Universe," he saw a few eyebrow raises, but he just carried on, "I live with Garnet and Opal, and they're my guardians, and we're the Crystal gems and we save the world!"
That time there was some laughter, "That's nice Steven, I'm sure that wonderful imagination will be great in English, but right now we're going to learn some science. Find a spare chair and sit down."
The only free chair was at the front of the class, but Steven didn't mind, so he sat down, carefully placing his backpack on the floor and faced the front ready to listen intently.
"So, who can tell me what Newton's third law is?"
Steven racked his brains, but he couldn't think. Opal had never taught him about this Newton guy. For a second he felt dumb, but no one else had put their hand up, so he breathed a sigh of relief. He had a notebook opened, and his pen was poised to take notes.
Mrs Depen sighed, "We went through this the other day. Newton's third law is that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. There's going to be a test soon, so remember to take notes to revise from."
Steven scribbled down the information. Opal didn't give him tests often but sometimes she would spring a quiz on him out of nowhere, so it was always best that he was prepared. By the end of the class his hand was aching and he was fidgeting slightly, not used to having to stay still for so long.
The bell rang and recess was announced, Steven went to follow the rest of the class, hoping he'd find his way around, when Mrs Depen stopped him and another boy.
"Since it's your first day, I've asked Joseph here to help show you around a bit. He can show you where the playground is. If you have any questions, ask him."
Steven nodded, "Hey," he said shyly and smiling, sticking his handout to shake. Joseph did not take it, so Steven quickly retreated, trying not to let his smile slip.
"Come on then," Joseph said, gesturing for Steven to follow him out of the classroom. He was much taller than Steven who happened to be rather short, and he had short red hair with the sides and back almost shaved off completely. His face was set in a hard line, and he didn't look happy to have Steven tagging along. They walked out into the playground where they quickly had almost the entire class, and even kids from other grades surrounding Steven. It made him feel a little claustrophobic.
"So," said one of the kids in a mocking tone, "you're a Crystal gem then?" The question was asked mockingly and there were finger quotes around 'Crystal gem,' but Steven decided the best thing to do would be to answer genuinely.
"Yeah! Me Garnet and Opal! They're my," he struggled to find an appropriate word, "family, and we save the world from monsters!"
Without a teacher to stop them, the laughs and looks were a lot more loud and abrasive. "And how do they do that?"
"It's like.. magic."
"Oh we get it! You're insane and your mom's belong in a looney bin."
"I'm not insane and they're not my mom's! My mom is dead!" Steven felt himself getting more defensive, but that didn't stop them from egging him on.
"Whatever. So, are you 'magic' too?"
Steven felt uncomfortable but there was no way to escape. "Yeah!"
And then, the dreaded words. The ones no kid ever wanted to hear. "Prove it."
Steven thought about getting a teacher, or even running to get Garnet somehow, but he was trapped. He thought about summoning his shield, but there was no guarantee that that would work. There was only one thing for it.
He closed his eyes and forced himself to relax. He tried to shut out all the muttering and stretched his arm above his head. And then further, and further. Almost like elastic, he forced it to stretch out, and only then did he open his eyes.
He found his arm almost a metre longer than normal, and saw that the looks he was being given were no longer malicious but almost… awed.
Feeling encouraged, Steven stretched out his other arm. It felt easier this time so he even went as far as doing his legs too. He now felt like he resembled some character in that computer game that Garnet has told him not to play, but he did anyway and got nightmares for weeks.
Before he could go any further, the bell rang, signifying the end of the break. Steven tried to send his limbs back to how they were before but with a jolt of terror, he found that they stayed resolutely long. He tried to take a step forward, but found himself tripping over and face planting into the ground. Not being able to use his arms properly, it took him a moment to pull his head off the ground and when he looked around he saw that he was completely alone.
Except one other person. She was a tall Indian girl, with long dark hair and thick glasses, Steven didn't think she was in his class, but she looked nice.
"Can I help at all? She asked, offering her hand to help him up. Steven groaned and tried to get to his feet. It took him a few goes but he was finally standing, although swaying unsteadily.
"Thanks," he said. He thought about holding out his arm to shake, but it didn't feel appropriate in the circumstances. "I'm Steven."
"Connie. Is there anyone that can help us?"
"The Gems could, but the nearest warp is five minutes away by walking! We'd miss the next lesson."
Connie didn't feel comfortable with that idea, but then she looked at Steven, still wobbling around with his freaky limbs. She couldn't leave him. "It doesn't matter, I'll help you find them." She looked at him again, "What's a warp? And who are the gems?"
"I'll explain on the way!"
Due to Steven being so unsteady and having to heavily rely on Connie for balance the walk took longer than five minutes, but eventually they arrived. "Wow! It's so cool," said Connie admiring the shining blue colour and the diamond like shapes around it.
"Yeah," said Steven, looking at it, "I guess it is." He had gotten so used to seeing the one in the house that he'd forgotten how awesome they really were.
"So… what do we do?" She asked and Steven looked at it. He knew how to use it, but he'd never done it without Garnet or Opal. And he'd never done it with a full human.
"Normally we just step on it and sort of think about where we need to go," he said before falling down.
"Are you okay?" Connie panicked, and Steven winced.
"Yeah, it just hurts a bit.. like a pulled muscle all over."
It was actually a little worse than that, but Steven didn't say so. There was a steadily rising pain in all of his limbs and he tried not to let out a tear as he shakily stood up again.
The two of them stepped onto the warp pad and to his relief, it lit up, taking him and Connie back to his home.
Opal saw him first and she screamed in a voice way higher than her voice could normally go. She and Garnet rushed over, and she effortlessly picked him up, cradling him in all of her arms. Steven tried to take comfort, but he still felt tense and the pain in his body just got worse when she jolted him.
"I'm sorry," he cried weakly, "They didn't believe me, so I showed them, but now I can't go back to normal and it hurts."
Even Garnet looked panicked, and he felt even worse. "I'm so sorry guys,"
"No Steven," said Garnet regaining her composure. "It wasn't your fault. You'll be fine. I promise."
Garnet gently turned his head with her hands, and to his shock, took off her sunglasses to reveal three round eyes, all looking directly at Steven. "I promise."
Steven nodded. "What do I do?"
"You need to relax Steven." She put her sunglasses back on and put a cool hand on Steven's forehead.
"You have to. Opal, put him down."
Opal gently lay him down on the couch and he tried his hardest to focus on Garnet's cool hand. Slowly, he felt his legs shrinking and the pain lessening. It helped him relax further and his arms followed suit. It took a while, but slowly he was back to normal, if a bit achy and shaky.
With a start he realised Connie was still there, standing a little way away and looking ashy. "I should get going I guess," she said, tracing patterns with her shoe. " I should hopefully get back for the next lesson."
Garnet stood up. "I'll walk you back to school." She and Connie walked over to the warp pad, and disappeared, leaving Steven and Opal.
"I'm glad you've made a friend," she said finally, "But if you want to go back to Class Opal then no one will judge you." She paused, "Much."
Steven thought it over for a moment.
Steven stepped shyly into the classroom, just to see loads of smiling faces looking at him completely different to the mocking looks they had been giving him yesterday. Later in the lesson they were split into groups, and everyone wanted to work with him.
It even followed him to the playground, but Steven waved them off, wanting to talk to one person in particular. He finally found her sat against a wall reading a book.
"I hope you didn't get in much trouble for skipping a class. Garnet had to call up and say I was sick."
"Yeah, my teacher called my family last night and told them I'd missed a lesson. My mum wasn't happy because the only excuse I could think was that I got distracted reading. I'm grounded. But I'm glad you're okay."
"Thanks," said Steven, sitting next to Connie who looked surprised.
"Oh, are you staying?"
"Yeah.. unless you don't want me to!"
"No! I don't mind.. I just.. are we friends?"
Steven looked at her, "I thought so."
She blushed, "I did too.. but I wanted to make sure.. I've only been here a few months and I haven't made any friends yet."
Steven looked at her in shock. Who wouldn't want to be friends with her? "Well you have one now."
She looked at him and smiled so he smiled back. They both blushed lightly and looked away giggling. She went back to her book and he just sat there until the bell rang, but they were both happier.
WE HAVE CONNIE! Sorry for the long wait between chapters. I'll try not to let that happen again. If there are any raging grammar mistakes, please let me know, as I didn't give it a full deep check before posting.