squeaklings: (Gundam OO - Alle/Marie)
[personal profile] squeaklings
Title: Full Disclosure 2
Wordcount: 1690
Fandom: Steven Universe
Rating: G
Warnings: Follows the events of Mindful Education.
Summary: As Connie found out, it's never good to keep things bottled up. Steven takes the time after they land to let his own butterflies loose.
Notes: Instead of working on my cabin fic, I wrote this! I realize it's kind of in a similar vein to my previous story, buuuut... Poor kid needs a hug.

I really need to get myself an SU icon, seriously.



“So… Who is Bismuth?”

They sat cross-legged across from each other on the soft, green grass, hands clasped between them. Connie kept her eyes on Steven, but he found it easier to look at their hands for the time being.

“She was one of the Crystal Gems. Back during the war.” Connie squeezed his hands gently and he took a deep, steadying breath. “I found her bubbled in Lion’s mane. And Garnet and Pearl, they were so happy to see her again. She was a really good friend.” He glanced up at Connie’s face, and then over to the sword lying at her side. “She made all their weapons. Mom’s sword, too.”

“That’s…kind of cool,” Connie said, and Steven nodded as he met her eyes.

“Yeah, I thought so, too! And she was the first Gem in a long time that didn’t try to kill me or take me back to Homeworld, so I really liked her. And I showed her Lonely Blade and popcorn and…” He trailed off and squeezed his eyes closed as the image of her using the Breaking Point overtook him.

“It’s OK. I’m here.”

He nodded and opened his eyes. He wasn’t alone. “There was a weapon she made. Back…back in the war. And she showed it to Mom and they—they fought.” Connie’s hands were warm in his, callused and strong, and he clung to them as he took another deep breath. “She showed it to me, too. It shatters Gems.” Tears blurred his vision but he blinked through them. “She hated Homeworld so much. They hurt her, a lot, and she couldn’t get past that. But that weapon was wrong, and we fought just like she did with my mom.”

He could feel the heat of the lava, the burning pain in his foot as he thrust his mother’s sword forward, the feel of it as it met Bismuth’s flesh and kept going. Steven started to curl in on himself until he felt Connie’s hands again. He wasn’t alone.

“Mom hurt Bismuth, too. She never told the Gems about their fight. She poofed Bismuth and bubbled her and left her in Lion’s mane for thousands of years. And I poofed her, too. I couldn’t help her.” He released Connie’s hands long enough to scrub at his cheeks. “But I told the Gems about what happened, and she’s in the Bubble Room. I hope someday I can free her and…and she’ll listen. And she won’t be so hurt anymore.”

“Do they know?” Connie leaned forward to press her forehead against Steven’s. “The Gems, do they know how you feel?”

“I don’t think so. I’ve never told them.”

“Steven…” He kept his eyes fixed on their hands, and after a moment Connie leaned back. “Don’t close up. Talk to me.” She squeezed his hands encouragingly and gave him a weak smile. “I’m here.”

He was quiet for a long moment before he nodded slightly.

“Jasper is in the Bubble Room, too.” He shuddered and glanced up at Connie’s surprised face. “We found her in one of the Kindergartens. She’s… I think being Malachite so long really messed her up. She had all these Corrupted Gems in these cages she dug out of the walls, but we let them all free and she really lost it. Amethyst and I beat her,” he hesitated, then decided against mentioning Smoky. That was a tale for another day. “But she freaked out and,” he paused. Deep breath. Deep breath. “She fused with one of the Corrupted Gems, but we beat her again and she unfused but it corrupted her, too.”

“That’s…”

“I tried to save her! Maybe it wouldn’t work, but the corruption was so recent maybe my healing powers would work! But she wouldn’t let me help her,” he said, voice growing thicker as the memories washed over him and the tears threatened to choke him. “She pushed us away and…”

Connie reached up to brush the tears off his cheek. “You tried, Steven. You did everything you could.”

“But did I?” He grabbed her hand quickly.

“Yes,” she said, her voice kind but stern. Steven stared at her for a long moment before he lowered their hands back to their knees. His shoulders shook and he hiccupped.

“It hurts.”

“I know.”

They were silent for a long time. The grass swayed in a gentle breeze, and the sun shone down brightly. Somewhere nearby birds sang softly to each other, and Steven listened to them, letting them calm him down.

Wherever they had landed was nowhere near Beach City. No waves crashed, no tourists chattered. There was only sun, and birdsong, and the sound of grass and leaves moving in the wind. Steven loved people, he loved the beach and home and the sound of the waves, but he realized he needed this. There was no way they could have, but he wondered if Stevonnie landed here on purpose.

Connie didn’t pry. He knew she wanted to; she was too smart and too curious not to. And he realized that hiding all this from her must have hurt, just as it had before when the Hand Ship fell.

“I’m sorry I kept this all bottled up,” he said softly. He studied her expression for any sign of anger but saw none. “I don’t know how to talk about it.”

“I had trouble telling you about how I beat a kid up by accident,” she said with a wry smile, and Steven laughed despite himself. “It’s hard. And thinking on it is painful. But I’m happy you’re able to tell me now.” She squeezed his hands again. “I’ll always be here for you.”

“Thanks, Connie.” He smiled, a real genuine smile, but it only lasted a moment before his face fell again. Deep breath. He was safe. He wasn’t alone. “You can ask.”

She pursed her lips, nervousness and curiosity warring across her expressions before she finally blurted out, “Who was the Ruby?” Her cheeks burned red but he gave her a small, encouraging smile.

“I called her Eyeball.” He looked up at the sky, but of course the moon was nowhere to be seen. Small mercies. “She was one of five who came looking for Jasper.” He stared at a passing cloud. “Amethyst tricked them, and they took us to the Moon base.”

“You went there before, right? With Peridot?”

Steven nodded, still looking at the cloud. “They almost left us alone there, but they realized we tricked them and,” he faltered. It’s OK to think about it… I gotta think about it. He looked at Connie then, and he wasn’t sure what expression he had but tears welled in her eyes and she squeezed his hands again. “I got lost. In space.”

“Oh no, Steven.”

“It was cold even through my bubble, and it was dark, and Earth kept getting smaller and smaller and then I hit Eyeball, ‘cause her and the Rubies were lost in space, too.” He remembered the sound of her little feet thudding along his bubble. “And we talked, and she got hurt, and I pulled her into my bubble and healed her, and she tried to kill me because she thought I was Mom just like all the other Gems do.” He squeezed her hands hard enough that she hissed in pain, and Steven pulled away quickly. “Sorry!”

“It’s OK.” She held her hands up in a placating gesture before trying to hold his again, but he kept his hands in his lap.

“But it’s not OK!” He was shouting, and Connie looked hurt, but he pressed on, unable to stop. “I almost died! I threw her out in space! I threw her out, and she’s floating somewhere lost, and everyone acts like they’re happy I’m OK but they’re really only happy that Mom’s gem is OK! But I’m not Mom! Everyone wants me to be her, everyone thinks I’m her, but I’m not! I’m just…me.” His voice died by the end, suddenly exhausted, and he stared down at his hands again. “I’m just me.”

Connie leaned forward and butted her forehead against his, and Steven started in surprise. “I don’t want you to be your mom. I like you just the way you are.”

Steven held out for a few seconds as Connie’s face grew blurry, and then he threw his arms around her shoulders and cried. Connie hugged him back, strong and stable and he clung to that feeling.

---

“Did you really almost die?”

The sky was growing pink as they sat side by side and watched the clouds roll by. Steven’s eyes were red and his face hurt, but for the first time in weeks he felt like himself again. “…Yeah. I haven’t told anyone, though. Not Dad, not the Gems.”

“You should tell them.”

He poked at the grass in front of him. “I know.” He sighed. “I try not to think about it.”

“I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying that must have been.” Connie looked over at him, her expression pained. “But I’m really, really glad you’re safe.”

Steven gave her a wan smile. “I’m really, really glad, too.”

She smiled and leaned against him for a moment before looking back up at the clouds. A big, puffy one floated by, tinged pink by the setting sun, and she frowned. “Do you really think everyone wants you to be your mom?”

“I don’t think the Gems do; well, not on purpose. But it’s hard for them to understand.” He pressed a hand against his gem. “They really loved Mom.”

“But they love you, too.”

He nodded. “They’ve always been there for me, and it might have been because of Mom at first but I don’t think it’s that anymore.” He glanced up at the pink cloud as it continued on. “We’re a family.”

“Gem stuff really is complicated.”

Steven laughed softly. “Yeah.”

Connie leaned over and bumped her shoulder against his. “But I’m glad I get to be a part of it.” She smiled, and Steven returned it. “I kind of accidentally pried, but… Thank you for telling me, Steven.”

“Thanks for being here.”

“Always.”

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