She’s hiding (well, not quite) at the outskirts of the Fountain. Not in the Fountain, just watching. Watching Amethyst, and Pearl, and Garnet, and Bismuth all embrace their comrades.
Her friends have been healed, and she’s as happy as she had been when Steven was born. They’re happy, too.
She’ll have to leave soon.
She won’t help ruin that happiness for them (she doesn’t want to be there to see the looks of betrayal on their faces when they’re told who she once was, see again the look she’d seen on Garnet, and Ruby and Sapphire’s faces before then, or the confusion that had been on Amethyst’s).
Part of her says that she should stay and face the anger directly - that it will be better to get it over with, draw the poison from the wound sooner so it cannot fester. The other part of her says that she’ll have to deal with the angry questions and the fury anyways - at least by leaving she won’t have anyone’s memory of this day tainted.
Then, Blue Diamond’s voice makes the decision for her.
She sprints towards the warp pad, her destination already planned.
Her son sees her go. His eyes are sad when she makes contact with them after she’s gotten to the warp construct, but he doesn’t call out to her.
His eyes are also filled with understanding.
She reappears at her, Steven, Greg, Pearl, Garnet, Amethyst, and Bismuth’s house, feeling herself relax. This place is home. This place is safe. She has (helped) raise her son here and fallen in love here, managed to start working more and more past the horrible person who she was (who her so-called “family” had tried to force her to be). Where her friends (her true family) had started to do the same themselves. Mostly thanks to her son (not much thanks to her).
“Rose?” Her partner’s voice calls to her, and she smiles. He’s always managed to help her feel (and be) better.
“Is something wrong?” His voice is filled with concern.
She wants to say that nothing is wrong, to reassure him that she’s doing perfectly. But that would be a lie. She sighs instead. “I… I just can’t talk to them yet.”
He doesn’t ask who “them” are. It could be either of two groups, honestly. He just pats her back and nods, before walking over to the fridge. “You want some ice cream?”
She smiles. “That would be great.”
She sees her fellow Crystal Gems who were healed first. They aren’t quite sure how to react to her, entirely - some are angry. One of them smacked her. She takes the strike without complaining - she’s durable enough that it stings for only a few minutes.
She never really reacts - she explains herself and why she did what she did, when they ask “why?”
(More often than not, her anger about her original “family” shows in her words and tone, how they undermined her attempts to create peace at every turn by saying that all who defied them had to be destroyed. How every time she tried to spare their friends who were captured, they would give the order to have them shattered (and how she wasn’t able to save them all)).
(How they had taken the remains of those they’d murdered on Earth and off it, and those who they’d ordered to die for a world she didn’t want, that they’d originally given her to shut her up, and turned them into an unwilling living bomb under their feet without even bothering to tell her about it. How she’d tried to speak up for those who were seen as out of place or wrong (the people she saw as beautiful), and had been overruled or thrown in the dark tower for it every time. How whenever she’d tried to do something against “their ways” she was overruled and stripped of any right to her decisions, even on Earth. How the first friend she’d ever had was twisted and brainwashed by their overlord because what they had thought of each other “wasn’t proper”).
Some of them are upset. More are understanding, seeing the genuine anger towards the Diamonds in her voice as matching their own.
All of them are slightly confused as to how there’s “two of her” and how one has a different body and opinions, and she explains again with Greg’s help (they gush about their son and how amazing he is).
(And he is amazing, so much that she knows her words will never do her baby boy justice).
One of the Diamonds finally shows up at her doorstep the next day.
She’s just talking with Steven about the gem language, since even if he won’t be a Diamond in position (thank all the stars, thank the recurrence of everything, thank whatever being made the universe, whichever came first, that her son won’t have to experience that), he still is one in terms of heritage and how gems will view him.
And he’s been trying to learn it for a while now, and Pearl (his usual teacher) has decided to go out on a date with Sheena (she feels both happy for her and slightly jealous of the other pink-haired woman, but wishes her the best and apologizes for making her (both of them) jealous before without realizing it. Pearl forgives her, and they hug before she leaves).
There’s a knock at the door, midway through the lesson, when they’re trying to work out with Greg how male gender pronouns might translate into Gem. She gets up to answer it, letting Greg and Steven debate about it, bringing Steven’s Rainbow Quartz up.
There’s a gem on the porch, whose gem covers a large part of her chest. She has a dark blue color scheme, and has lines beneath her eyes. The gem smiles as soon as she sees her, as though all the worries she’d had just vanished. “Oh, Pink-”
“Pink Diamond doesn’t live here. Or anywhere. She’s gone.” She replies flatly. She slams the door in Blue Diamond’s face. And maybe that satisfaction at getting one over on her is something that she should be trying to move past, but it feels far too good to ignore.
The wave of artificially induced sadness that passes through her a moment later - of a myriad of emotions, despair, confusion, and guilt among them - killed the feeling, though.
Yellow Diamond comes next. She’s talking to Amethyst at the time. Like Blue, she’s shapeshifted herself down to be small enough she can fit into the house, and Rose is amused that she’d be willing to do something that she viewed as “beneath her”.
And she’s also angered to realize that this is the first time she can remember the Diamond ever being willing to do something “beneath her”. It had taken six thousand years, her own faked shattering, and an era she’s half-certain was started because the Diamonds wanted to crush any aspiration any gems might have of being anything beyond what they were “supposed to be”, by crushing them down mentally and telling them they were worth less from the very start of their lives.
“Pink, you must realize that your aid is still necessary to guide your gems.” She’s not certain whether to be pleased that Yellow is actually caring about the individuals in the gem race instead of what was “best for them”, or annoyed that she was still calling her by that dead name.
Maybe both. Yes, both is good.
“My name is Rose Quartz, thank you. And the Pink Court and the Crystal Gems are both doing fine without me. They all could use a break.” And so could she, really.
“And we still have to help get the Off Colors settled in!” Amethyst adds, causing her to blink. Yes, she forgot them!
“The… off colors?” The disgust in Yellow Diamond’s tone catches her attention. As well as the way she’s looking at Amethyst.
“Yes, they arrived on Earth just before you did, remember? They were terrified you were going to kill them for existing there. For being useless. For not being something that you could incorporate or use in your society. Like how you always saw me.” The looks of fear on their faces entered their mind - their horror when they realized that they’d let two Diamonds onto their ship unknowingly, no matter how much time had been spent with them talking and being friendly.
Yellow Diamond’s face matches theirs. “We never saw you as useless, Pink!”
Before she can even begin to control herself, five thousand years of rage come boiling up. Boiling through her mouth and through the air.
“MY NAME IS ROSE QUARTZ! PINK DIAMOND IS DEAD!”
The sheer volume of her yell leaves both Amethyst and the Diamond reeling in shock, staring at her, as her words keeping boiling up, like steam from bubbling soup. “Pink Diamond DIED five thousand years ago! She died unmourned and unmissed by ANYONE that MATTERED to her! She DIED like she LIVED, seen by her three supposed peers and fellows as a defective, off-colored mockery of what a Diamond was SUPPOSED to be! She died closer to and better treated by the off colors, and the fusions, and every marked for death reject in Homeworld, and every bit of organic life on Earth, than she ever was with the Diamonds. And she DIED HAPPY THAT SHE LIVED THAT WAY!”
Her voice is filled with millennia of venom, of anger at the way things “just were” on Homeworld, of repressed rage at them, at seeing her friends - and their own loyalists who they hadn’t cared about enough to give time to evacuate - twisted by their actions. Even if it hadn’t come from her, she’s fairly certain anyone would have paid attention to someone with that tone of voice.
She can practically see the horror on Yellow Diamond’s face as she realizes that she was part of the cause. “Pi - Rose -”
The venom comes up again, in both her eyes and her voice. “Get. Out. OF MY. HOUSE! ”
White Diamond comes in when she’s talking to Garnet - well, no, that is incorrect. She and Garnet were discussing the “Zoomans” and the “Famethyst” in the Human Zoo, and what could potentially be done about them. But they had been over at the Prime Kindergarten with Amethyst before that, discussing if they could let the Quartzes move back in (and if they would want to).
Neither of them were certain what they could do with the human “prisoners”, but that process would definitely be a lot more complicated.
But on the other hand, she would have to talk to the Famethyst…
And then, the warp pad stream deposited them back in their house, and a miniature White Diamond was there waiting for them. The only reason she doesn’t instinctively pull up her shield is because, for once, the oldest gem in the room is not smiling.
“Starlight, I need your assistance.”
“Again, it’s Rose.” She snaps, before sighing. White has always been the sort to overrule her and anyone else that doesn’t agree with her - her so-called “perfection” at work again.
And sure enough, White Diamond ignores what she says - but she doesn’t call her “Starlight” again. “We need you - or possibly Steven - on Homeworld for an extraction. Our supply of your essence hasn’t been replenished, and we have been having to conserve it for the last five thousand years. Our ability to produce your gems with it has been… decreasing.”
Even Garnet relaxes at the explanation. And while she will not deny that she hates what Homeworld stands for… she doesn’t hate the gems who live on it, whose only true crime more often than not was never openly questioning what they were told to do and carrying it out. (While she values organic life, well… it’s fairly rare compared to gems, though that’s mostly due to how far they’ve spread).
She sighs. “I’ll talk to the others.”
“Good! You could use some more time off this planet, dear. With all the things these organics do on it, I don’t know how you stand having them around.”
Rose feels her eyebrow twitch. Behind her, Garnet goes to the Temple’s door, and goes into her room without a word, not even bothering to hide her departure.
“Organics aren’t perfect. But they’ve got their own strengths that we don’t, that’s why I like them.” She replies. Humanity isn’t perfect - and frankly, there are more than a few nations in the world whose actions could potentially be contrasted with the Authority’s. And… more than a few times in her life, she had privately questioned if she’d made the right decision.
But more and more, that sort of thing was starting to become a thing of the past.
“What strengths? They are weaker than us, they have limited life, they cannot unify themselves,and need to rely on body processes and feel pain whenever their body is touched.” White looks amused. “Steven is hardly an example of humanity as a whole.”
“And what about Connie? I’d hardly call her weak.” She is feeling annoyed now. “And Greg won me over, White Diamond.”
“Ah yes, Steven’s and your pets. Quite a-”
“Connie is Steven’s closest friend. And I am in love with Greg, thank you.” She shakes her head. “You know, for all that they’re physically weaker than us, do you know what humans have always been able to do better than you?” She doesn’t wait for a reply.
“Their biology lets them learn quicker. They can more easily adapt to and realize they have to change because of their surroundings, instead of just ignoring whatever happens to them. And they can discover what does and doesn’t work far more easily than gemkind - or rather, you, ever could. They have many issues and I won’t deny that. But they’ve tried to learn from them. And you could too, honestly.”
“Whatever does that mean?” White looked slightly confused by that.
“I doubt that all of gemkind is going to just listen to you deciding to change things, White Diamond.” She replies. “I’ve seen it in the past here on Earth. People are not going to change their hearts and minds just because of your orders.”
White makes a dismissing movement with her hand. “Starlight, you-”
“Are pointing out that at least a few gems were loyal to the Authority not because of the way you ran things, or because they believed in the Diamonds having the “right to rule”-” the sarcasm is audible even to White Diamond - “but because the way you had things set up meant they had power over others for themselves.” She interrupted before White Diamond could finish making whatever claim that would dismiss her worries was.
“And that unless you are willing to send investigators you trust to every world in the Empire, they are going to lie through their teeth to you over a conference call that they’ve changed their ways, and you will not be able to tell the difference.” She could tell from the way that White Diamond clenched her teeth that what she’d said had found its mark.
Again, she takes perhaps a little too much satisfaction from that.
The last time, all of them came.
They have all been having a wonderful day off with every one of the Crystal Gems they’ve healed, and everybody comes into the house carrying beach supplies, ice cream, and numerous other articles of fun and enjoyment.
The mirth dies off rather quickly, though, when they see the three gems who are waiting inside.
They’re only looking at one of the gems who enter, at the moment, though. Yellow Diamond speaks first. “Rose, I - we wanted to talk.”
Part of her wants to say “so talk, then.” But for some reason, she can’t get the words out through her mouth this time.
Blue Diamond seems to almost understand what she’s saying even without her saying it, though. Maybe her empathic powers have started growing, so that she could understand what other people felt. Like that “Crow” superheroine Steven had shown her on the “Young Adult Avengers” cartoon.
Or maybe she’d always had it, and just had been suppressing it before so that she could look her and everyone else in the eyes without feeling guilty. “We’re sorry.”
There’s a long pause. She breaks it.
“That’s an improvement from before, I suppose.” She won’t deny that at least they’re trying to understand the Crystal Gems now. It’s more than they ever did before.
Blue Diamond looks almost as relieved as she did when she found out she was alive. “Oh, Pink, thank you for giv-” she starts to put a hand on her shoulder, and her reflexes kick in.
She rips her hand away and steps backwards, anger entering her tone and emotions again. “I said you’re improving. I didn’t say that I forgive you.”
Her son’s voice fills her world, and her anger vanishes like an unprotected campfire in a rainstorm. “Yes?”
“I know you’re angry, but shouldn’t you try to talk to them? While they’re here and all, before they head back to Homeworld?”
Logically, his argument makes sense. She won’t deny that - with the way things work for gems, who knows how long it will be before she can see them again. The look on Blue Diamond’s face as she looks at her and Steven is hopeful.
But she gets down on her knees, and she speaks to her son. “Steven, I know you can. I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I can.”
He doesn’t argue with this. He just hugs her, and she returns the embrace until Blue Diamond’s voice comes in. “P - ...Rose - when will you come back?”
Her tone is abruptly dead again. “After what you did, I think “ever” would be very unlikely.”
She gets off her knees, and stops hugging her son, and looks at the Diamonds.
“I know that you thought it was best for me, but… I never had a friend. Well, I did, but you took her away from me.” Her voice is broken down. Her anger has just… burned away. “You never let me leave my chambers and talk to anyone but my Pebbles half the time, and I couldn’t even fit into their tunnels no matter how small I shapeshifted. You murdered entire worlds, and SORRY is not going to bring them or their residents back!” She stops, breathes, and continues.
“You never listened to me for anything important, you constantly mistreated anyone and anything I said was interesting or worth listening to, you only gave me Earth to shut me up at first, and then whenever I tried to do things that you didn’t approve of, you overruled me on my own planet. Some equal member of the Authority I was. And for the last time - my name is Rose Quartz. Use it.”
She looks at them again. Their faces are strained - whether with guilt, or stopping themselves from talking, she isn’t sure. But they haven’t argued with her yet.
“And… I’m not the only person you need to apologize to, and neither is Steven, and you haven’t apologized to any of them.” She looks at her family. They all look back at her, and they don’t say anything. But their expressions, even Steven’s, tell her that they support her.
She looks at them, and she shakes her head. “And I do not know if I will ever be able to come back to you, or forgive you, for that.”
She should probably feel more guilty about the looks on their faces. She should. A really good person should always feel guilty about any pain they might cause.
Even with her son’s help, she hasn’t believed that she was a really good person for a long time.
“I… I’m not sorry. Just leave us alone.” Rose Quartz says quietly.
In a rare occurrence that had been growing more common of late, the Diamonds did what she wanted.