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Runaway

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            Was childbirth supposed to hurt so much? She supposed so, but she also wasn’t expecting to last long enough to feel most of it. Yet here she was, screaming in agony as her baby seemed to physically separate from her, moving downward—out of her body, was that even possible?

            Pearl was screaming somewhere, she couldn’t distinguish where exactly. Everything was blurred in pain, her stomach felt like it was being torn in half—stars what was happening to her? Was her last conscious moment going to be filled with such pain?

            She didn’t know how long it last, but she wanted it to end—

-pause-

“-se! Rose! Rose, please answer me!”

She furrowed her brow, wincing at the slight ache in her gem. Why was Pearl shouting? She was having such a wonderful nap right now, everything was numb, her gem ached, she just wanted to rest…

But Pearl’s voice persisted, refusing to let her sleep. Forcing her eyes open, she realized too late that was a mistake. The pink haze of her room seemed too bright, as well causing a sharp ache to course through her entire body. But that didn’t matter, she couldn’t let herself be distracted by this. Her child. She had to make sure her child was okay.

Through Pearl’s shouting, she could vaguely make out another noise. A cry? No, it sounded more like a wail. A baby’s cry.

A baby.

Her baby.

Feeling a sudden rush over energy, she fought through the pain and forced her eyes open again, turning her head towards the sound.

There was Pearl, hysterical, and in her shaking arms was a wailing infant. The sight of the baby calmed her a bit, her baby was there, but the feeling quickly dissipated when she directed her attention back to Pearl.

She opened her mouth, barely managing to croak out a word before clearing her throat. That seemed to catch Pearl’s attention, as she was now in her face, wailing infant in tow.

“Oh my stars, Rose! What happened?! This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen! What do I do?! They can’t see you like this!”

“Pearl…” It took more effort to speak again, as well as increasing the throbbing located oddly in her gem’s location. “What… why are you shouting? Is he… is she?”

Pearl shook her head but held out the child wordlessly. Now suddenly so close to his mother, and noting he was a boy, the baby ceased his wailing, sniffling and weakly grasping for her.

Lifting an arm, she reached for her son—Steven, her son—only to see her hand almost dwarfed him. She would have thought it odd or troubling, if her mind wasn’t so laser focused on holding Steven. She shouldn’t even be able to do this, yet somehow, by some miracle, here she was. And here he was. Cupped in her hand, now content and gurgling happily. She couldn’t help letting out a chuckle at this. Human infants made such strange yet adorable noises. She could listen to him babble all day if she could.

“Rose… your form…” She nearly forgot Pearl was there, until the gem spoke suddenly, drawing the mother’s attention from her newborn son. She blinked groggily, still struggling to comprehend everything. Pearl certainly seemed concerned about something, but Steven seemed fine, and she was here, so what was the issue—

Her eyes drifted back to her hands, her very large and obviously pink hands cradling Steven. Large. Pink.

It clicked, and if Rose wasn’t so exhausted, she might have jumped up in total shock. If she had a heart, it would be racing right now, and she would also be hyperventilating if she possessed a pair of lungs too.

Instead, her mind halted, diamond-shaped pupils fixated on her hand. It was as if Rose thought she were dreaming still, or perhaps this was what humans called the afterlife? Opening and closing her hand, she marveled how real everything felt. If it wasn’t a dream, was this a trick from her room? If she wasn’t gone, then how—

Steven let out a soft whimper, drawing Rose’s attention towards. Seeing him squirm slightly in her grasp, she decided to try just sitting upright, careful in her movements for both her and Steven’s sake. Fully upright now, she shifted Steven into her arms, nestling him towards her chest while she glanced down at herself. Oddly enough, despite being in her Diamond form again, she was still wearing the dress she had chosen for her new identity. What was worrisome was the diamond in the star cutout. Somehow, some way, she still had her gem.

That’s when the fear set in. How had she reverted back? Was it due to childbirth? Did that have anything to do with her and Steven existing together?

Feeling Steven wiggle a bit in her arms, Rose looked down at him, noticing the small gem embedded in his stomach. He had a gem, yet somehow so did she. Two gems existing? Looking more closely, Rose realized that, while Steven did indeed possess a gem, it seemed… small. Much smaller than hers, for sure.

Reaching up towards her stomach, she grasped her gem, feeling for any differences. The gem seemed perfectly normal, without any notable changes. This made no sense, she should have—

“Pearl,” Rpse tried to keep her voice steady, “do you… notice anything odd about my gem?”

Pearl shook her head rapidly, her hands covering her mouth, shaking. Rose’s eyes widened; Pearl was in shock. She sighed, leaning towards her friend and placing a hand on her slender shoulder.

“Pearl, it’s okay,” the diamond said softly, offering Pearl a smile. “I’m here. I’m still here. Take a deep breath, it’s going to be okay.” A lie, she knew, but what else could she say. She didn’t know what happened and Pearl was obviously concerned. The best Rose could do was ease her dear friend’s worries for now and ask questions later.

Pearl choked back a sob, before lunging forward, wrapping her arms around Rose’s shoulders. “You’re still here! You’re alive! You’re not dead, you’re not gone!” She sobbed, loudly, tears streaming down her face. Rose had to move Steven away a bit to make sure Pearl didn’t accidentally knock into him, although her sudden outpour did disturb his sleep. Thankfully, he didn’t cry, just went back to those adorable noises infants made. Rose felt fortunate. She didn’t know if she could handle two crying gems in one moment, not with so much going on.

Pulling Pearl close and Steven into a better, safer position, Rose held two of the dearest people in her life. Her mind was racing, so many questions buzzing in her head. How had this happened, how was she still here? She didn’t know, and quite frankly, she didn’t really care. All she did know was that it was miracle, and she had her son.

She could see him grow up, become whatever it is that he wanted to be, not held down by the gem embedded in his stomach. He was free, more free than Rose Quartz, than Pink Diamond, ever was. And with her here, there would be no question that Steven was Steven, not Rose Quartz, not Pink Diamond. He was Steven Universe, and he would be the only Steven Universe there was, a totally unique experience. He would learn so much from Greg, from Pearl, and the other Crystal Gems—

Rose’s train of thoughts came to a screeching halt. The Crystal Gems. Garnet and Amethyst…

They cannot see her like this-