“And the recent applicants for immigration?” Pink asked, finishing up the question about the recent growth of her Court. It had been going steadily for the last six thousand years, but the recent success of the hybrid program had sped it up just a little.
Bixbite, specifically the one who was in charge of the outer reaches of the Pink Court and the newest Crystal System colony, (nicknamed Gliese), nodded. “All processed and accepted. And the border patrol are as vigilant as they ever are.”
“How is the terraforming going for the recent expansion?” She added, actively not dwelling on the efficiency (or in her case, mostly-deliberate inefficiency) of the border patrol of any of the Courts. Bixbite looked pleased when she asked.
“We’ve removed a decent amount of the upper crust, and transmutation has begun so that we can turn the silica and other elements into structures when the gravity levels are normal. Suggestions are being taken for what we could make for any Palace locations to make them unique and interesting. The Maze Palace idea was-”
Any further talk about the residences/part-time tourist attractions of Pink Diamond was cut short by a high-pitched voice.
“Pearl, could you go take care of him?” Pink Diamond quickly asked Pearl, who nodded. She really needed to take care of this before she could see Steven.
“I can wait, if you need. Everything’s going more or less as planned.” Bixbite recognized the voice too.
Pink Diamond sighed. She had been needing to do this meeting for a while, since she was getting a fifth permanent colony that would be Earthformed, and both her and Bixbite had fairly busy schedules. But she’d swear if asked that half of the things she needed to do would be better off decided by somebody else who had knowledge in that field, or could easily be delegated.
There was no need for a Diamond to be looking over the decisions of every single major political officer on Earth and in her Court, she trusted most of them (this Bixbite being one of the ones she did) and had appointed almost all of them-
Then, something came to her mind.
She sounded like Yellow Diamond did.
“Call me if there’s any serious issues, then.” Pink Diamond hit her screen, ending the call instantly.
And as she got up from her chair, she felt a smile come as Pearl walked back up the stairs, carrying somebody in her arms.
Steven Quartz Universe jumped out of her arms and started running towards her. “Mommy!”
“Hi, Steven!” She plucked him off the ground effortlessly, already feeling her frustration bleed away as her baby boy hugged her. He was five years old already, and she had learned so much over those years she’d had him there to love.
First and foremost, what being a mother felt like. And that… maybe, she wasn’t as bad as she’d thought she was, if he could love her this much.
And maybe that her sisters had a few points when they got annoyed at her for interrupting them at work (not always, but some).
She still couldn’t imagine treating Steven the same way. And as terrified as she was for him and his future, she couldn’t imagine ever loving anyone more than him.
“Can I command a planter?!”
Blinking as Pearl helped Steven climb into her lap, Pink Diamond couldn’t suppress a mixture of a smile and grimace (an expression that was hard to pull off), she carefully put her hands around him to stop him squirming (and to cuddle him, a little). “Not yet, sweetie. The process of terraforming can be very delicate in the early stages, and doing anything that could upset the atmosphere’s stabilization can delay the-”
Before she could finish, Steven had already squirmed out of her grasp.
“Steven, NO!” Without waiting another second, she’d already grabbed him carefully, and pulled him back into her lap. “Don’t do that.”
“But I’m in charge, mom! You and dad and Pearl and everyone else always said I would be! Why can’t I?!” Images passed through her eyes. And she considered her next words very carefully.
“One day, you will be a true Diamond, Steven. But… I want you to have experiences besides being a Diamond before you become one.” She loved her home, and her people. But being a ruler was nowhere near as easy as the other Diamonds had made it look for her when she was younger.
Steven looked confused as he gazed up at her. “Why? Isn’t being a Diamond like, the best thing ever?”
“Not as much as you might think it is…” Pearl muttered from besides them, where she was typing away on what appeared to be a book.
“But why do I have to leave?!”
Pink Diamond just sighed as Steven protested her decision. This was hurting him more than it was hurting her, and she knew it. But it was for his and her good, and she knew that too.
And she very much knew how much “for your own good” sounded like what the other Diamonds had told her every time she asked why something was done a certain way.
“Yellow and Blue are both coming to visit Earth soon to see how well I’ve been doing. I can’t have you be here while they’re looking through the Palace.” She stated, trying to cheer Steven up. “It’ll be fine! Greg’s going with you, so is Amethyst and Jasper and Carnelian and-”
“But I want to stay with you! And why can’t I see Aunt Blue and Aunt Yellow?! It’s not FAIR!”
Pink Diamond looked down at her son as he protested her decision.
He was so much like Greg, like she’d wanted.
And in a lot of other ways, he was so much like her. Which she hadn’t wanted quite as much. “You… need to meet other people, Steven. You’re going to be leading a lot of them someday, remember? I’ve always heard here on Earth that it’s a poor ruler who doesn’t know what their people want. And you’ve been cooped up here your whole life!”
Pink Diamond was, even if she didn’t know it at the time, projecting. When she’d been in the same position as Steven - as a “failed” Diamond without anyone to lead or any colonies to direct, she’d never been allowed to see anyone outside of the other Diamonds and their Pearls, most of the time. The gems “beneath” her had all quivered at her presence the first times they’d seen her.
Even after she’d made a few friendly acquaintances, they’d been jumpy and quiet in their friendships with her, fearing the ever-present eyes of the other Diamonds, that might one day swoop down and take notice of them, for daring to interact with their greatest superiors.
And more than once, that fear had been justified on both her and their parts.
And she was, to be blunt, failing to take Steven’s own experiences in his home into account. The garden of fruits and vegetables that she’d created for him and Greg, imbuing it with more of her own essence than any gem had to ensure they'd be healthy.
She was failing to see the places in the base where he could jump so very high without any powers, giggling as he floated in the weaker (the fact that humans couldn’t adjust to the forces of gravity and how it could affect them was so fascinating!) gravity of space.
Failing to see the many gems within the walls of the Moon Palace who smiled at his approach and cooed over him. The gems of which she and Pearl were just the most visible of.
All she could see were the walls.
Steven pouted a little as he sat on the ground, outside the “house” that was a cover for the Beach Palace, where his parents and Pearl sometimes went when he was younger.
Dad was off getting groceries, and the Quartz guards were carefully going through the town, under the cover of there being an inspection.
Apparently, he was in one of the settlements that had been deigned as a “Hybrid Living Location.” So he probably should have been going out to meet all the people who were like him, but…
Oh, there was someone now! His previous slight pout forgotten, his head came up in a smile. “Hi!” This new person was… blonde! Yeah, that was the word! Like one of those Ambers who his mother had said Aunt Yellow was starting to make. Or some of the Jaspers. Or Aunt Yellow.
“Hi! I’m Steven.” He cheerfully introduced himself, sticking his hand out in a friendly gesture.
“Hi there, Steven! I’m Sadie.”
Cool! He had a human friend!
“And all 257 Kindergartens are still functioning at full capacity, even after 6000 years, as long as we give them roughly 100 to 150 years between usages.” Pink finished, feeling quite good.
Then, a chuff came from Yellow. “Full reduced capacity, you mean.”
And there went the good feeling.
“Considering that I’m going to eventually make more gems from this one world than you have from all of your wasted colonies eventually, I think I’ll be able to live with the reduced capacity of my worlds.” Pink Diamond shot back at her older sister, a scowl crossing her face that looked very similar to the expression Yellow Diamond usually wore.
There was also the fact that using the Kindergartens at full capacity would render Earth potentially uninhabitable for the rest of time, and probably kill everything on it that wasn’t a gem and wasn’t evacuated - something that would take a mind-boggling amount of time and energy.
But it wasn’t like Yellow would ever see the issue with that, since she would just tell her to make a bunch of space stations to make up for the loss.
Or automated robots. Like she seemed to think everyone, including herself, should be.
“Worlds, that ag-”
“Enough! BOTH OF YOU!! ”
Blue Diamond screaming out of nowhere was, frankly, rare. Rare enough that both Pink Diamond and Yellow Diamond were briefly shocked into silence as they stared at the third Diamond in the room.
“Both of you have been having this debate for the last FOUR THOUSAND YEARS!” Blue Diamond scoffed, before letting loose a sigh that spoke of someone who has gotten sick of something and can finally speak out on it. “And neither of you is ever going to change your minds, it has become clear. Pink, stop provoking Yellow! Yellow, Pink has created a method that ensures the Empire will be able to grow infinitely by simply deconstructing planets and moons with the metals we need, without wasting energy on bypassing or scouting worlds that cannot produce new gems. Even if you don’t believe that her methods are good enough for your use, she has earned our respect!”
Pink Diamond felt, to say the least, much better, hearing Blue Diamond support her.
Her good feelings went away again when a strange… “floofing” sound echoed through the room. Both Blue and Yellow Diamond looked confused as the former looked around, before lifting her foot. Whatever had been there before was almost impossible to determine now, given how thoroughly the Diamond’s foot had squashed it.
Pink Diamond figured out what it was almost instantly anyways, and felt slightly awkward.
On one hand, Steven would be sad, but she was not going to deny that seeing the Bear-O toy one of the Jades had gotten him for his fifth birthday (apparently, her slightly-younger daughter had suggested it) go away was a relief. That thing was way creepier than it should be...
“What is this?” Both of them looked confused.
“A therapy bear.” Pink Diamond replied without missing a beat.
Well, she had been given one a few hundred years ago by one of her Opals, so she knew they were a thing. Even if that bear did the opposite.
The argument over “therapy” that was started by the other Diamonds after this led to Pink Diamond telling them both to go find an Opal, nearly half an hour of arguing over “social” things, before it moved on to other topics, and eventually ended with Blue Diamond all but yanking Yellow Diamond out the door before punches started getting thrown.
Pink Diamond just sighed. Pearl walked back into the room as the other two Diamonds walked out, carefully waving to someone out of Pink Diamond’s point of view/ability to care after the arguing. Probably the other Pearls. After the door slid closed, and she’d tapped a button on her console so that the audio for her room went off, she sighed even louder.
“I assume that Yellow Diamond and Blue Diamond were the same as ever?” Pearl recognized that look. Her “mistress” was… exhausted, frankly. Gems didn’t need to sleep, typically (unless they were mentally exhausted, and sleeping still wasn’t always needed even then).
Every time that her Pink Diamond came out of a conversation with the other Diamonds, she slept for at least four hours. Once, she’d been unconscious for an entire Earth rotation.
Once again, she wished that the Diamonds had a relationship as healthy as her relationship with her fellow Pearls.
Except White Pearl… If she really counted as a Pearl at all…
This line of thought was not being productive. Focusing again, Pearl smiled as she took notice of the time. “Pink, would you like me to go and… retrieve “ her ”?”
“ Her ” was their code for Steven and Greg (and previously, all of Pink Diamond’s many human lovers down the ages). Normally in the Moon Base they would just use their names. But with the other Diamonds and their entourages having visited just a few hours ago, it was better safe than sorry.
“Not yet.” was the reply.
Pearl blinked, but… well, it might have been for the best anyways. It was after eleven at night in the Beach Palace’s time zone, so Steven should have been asleep anyway. She’d help sweep the base for any recording devices the other Diamonds might have left, and go see the rest of her family in the morning.
“But… why didn’t mom call?”
Greg just sighed as he looked down at his son. His child, who he had, for a while, been trusted to keep safe. Not that he was worried about physical threats. Beach City had gotten about three dozen separate Quartzes assigned to the outskirts of town at the same time that Steven arrived.
And with the exception of riots in a few particularly idiotic and self-centered cities, there hadn’t been any wars on Earth in millenia. And the relationship he and Steven had to the ruler of the Pink Court was a carefully kept secret, to the point that Rose had deliberately gone through all the electronic records and deleted everything that indicated he was her son, or that Greg was engaged to anyone save a slightly defective in appearance Rose Quartz that rarely left the Moon Base.
But none of that could keep him safe from well, the threat that had caused issues for a lot of the people who were children of important leaders.
“Your mom’s almost always busy, Steven. She has a lot of stuff to do, ruling the world and all. And she can’t say no to the other Diamonds when more than one of them comes to visit.”
“But… why can’t I stay with her? They’re family!”
Greg just sighed.
He was so much like he and Rose used to be. Wanting to believe that everyone, just because they were part of a family, should be close. Should care for each other. And for both him and his lover, that wasn’t what happened.
“You’re not a… “real” hybrid yet to them, Stchu-Ball.” He sadly replied. “Your gem hasn’t emerged yet, so they’d probably just see you as a human. And the other Diamonds really don’t care all that much about humans like your mom does.” He wasn’t even sure they cared that much for each other, based on what he’d been told by Rose. But he wouldn’t trouble Steven by telling him that yet.
“Come on kid. We’ll see her soon!” Greg yawned. “Probably tomorrow. And it’s late, so we should go to bed now…"
“Yeah! I can see mom sooner that way! Good night, dad!” Steven dashed off eagerly.
Greg just smiled a little.
It still amazed him sometimes how much he loved that kid.