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“You ever think about how Stevonnie uses they?”

Steven blinks up from the issue of Lonesome Lasso in his hands. Connie sits with her back against his mattress and the Gamestation controller in her hand, eyes on the character customization screen. “Yeah?”

“Yeah, you do?”

“Uh.” Steven shrugs, sitting upright on the bed, crossing his legs underneath him. “I dunno, I don’t… think a whole lot about it. Why?”

Connie hums. She’s changing the character’s gender between male and female. “I guess that makes sense. You’re Steven.”

He scoffs. “Okay, what does that mean?”

“It means gender’s never meant anything to you.” Connie sighs and sets the controller on the ground, rubbing at her forehead. “You put on a dress and makeup and heels, and you’re still Steven. You fuse with a girl, you’re still Steven. Even if your pronouns and gender presentation are different from moment to moment, you’re still you.”

He scratches at his head, watching her. Her eyes stare up at the ceiling, unfocused. This isn’t something they’ve ever really talked about in depth. 

“Are you… not?”

She shrugs, sighing gently. “I don’t know. As Stevonnie, when people call us ‘they…’ it feels good, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it much.”

“Does it feel good when people call you ‘he?’”

“It feels… normal? Does it feel good when people call you ‘she?’”

“No.”

Steven scootches forward until his legs dangle over the bed, hovering over the dropped controller. “Want me to call you something else?”

That gets Connie to look over. “…Uh… if you don’t mind? Can we try it, just while we’re alone?”

“Sure!” Steven suddenly feels, bizarrely enough, happy. That Connie would trust him with this, with something so personal, has him lighter than feathers. “Let’s see. ‘Connie’s my favorite person in the whole wide world, and I love them so much.’”

Connie giggles, cheeks blushing. “Okay, you dork.”

“It’s true!” He slides down, butt to the floor, shoulders bumping. “They’re so cool. They’ve got this really kickass sword that Bismuth made for them. And their laugh is my favorite sound ever, and their smile—”

“Okay, okay!” Connie nudges his shoulder so hard, he falls over. They’re both laughing as Steven rights himself, and when he feels the floating start, he grabs onto Connie’s arm in order to bring himself back down, and that just makes Connie laugh even harder.

As it dies down, Steven looks to Connie, an anticipatory smile on his face. “So? Did you like it?”

“…yeah.” Connie’s voice is quiet, but they look up into Steven’s eyes, and Steven’s heart skips a beat. “Yeah, I did. Let’s try it, just while we’re together and we’re alone.”

“Sure thing.”

“Did you want to try a different one, too?”

“I dunno. I’ve never thought about it.”

“Maybe you should. You could just try it, if you want, and no harm done.”

He hums. He could, but he’s never particularly felt strong about it. He adores dresses and feminine attire, but the thought of it being something he incorporates into his identity had never occurred to him. “Sure. Let’s try ‘they.’”

“Okay.” Connie takes Steven’s hand in theirs. “Steven’s my favorite person. They’re so strong, and so sweet, and they’ve got a really great fashion sense.”

Steven laughs. “What? I wear the same thing, like, all the time.”

“But when you wear something different, people look at you like you’re a model.” Steven shrugs. Connie watches them for so long that finally, they sigh and give him another, gentler nudge. “So? How was it?”

“I dunno. I don’t mind it, but it’s not good or bad.”

“Do you want to try ‘she?’”

The word makes Steven warm in ways it probably shouldn’t. No one’s ever called Steven that. Some gems believed Steven was Rose or Pink Diamond. But they weren’t ever talking about Steven.

And maybe it’s just because, of the major sets of pronouns, that’s the one Steven hasn’t used yet. But…

“Sure.”

Connie smiles. Their hand travels up Steven’s arm to circle around her neck. “Steven’s my favorite person. She’s handsome, and she’s kind, and she always knows how to throw a party.”

Steven blinks.

She’s wearing a dress with her stomach exposed. She’s sitting on a throne, and Blue Diamond tells her what a great job she’s doing. There are lashes longer than her arms and nails taller than she is.

“Starlight.”

“Steven…?”

Connie’s set their hand on Steven’s arm, and she starts out of it. Her stomach lurches.

“Steven, if it’s not good, then—”

“No.”

She grabs Connie’s hand, squeezing it in her own. “They… they almost took dresses from me. I couldn’t wear them for the longest time. I’m not going to let them take this from me, too.”

There is a long moment of silence, broken only by the sound of a looping tune on the video game. Connie holds her hand in both of their own, rubbing their thumb in small, soothing motions.

“I’m sorry.” Connie winces. “I didn’t mean to…”

“No, no.” Steven sighs. “It’s okay. I… I want it to be okay. Let’s try it more, but… only when we’re alone.”

Connie smiles. “All right. You’ll let me know when you’re ready for more, okay?”

She smiles back, relief flooding her. “Yeah. I will.”

Connie glances back at the screen, picks up the controller once more, and makes their choice.