Author’s note: It is an incredibly rare thing for me to dabble in fanfiction. It is rarer still for me post any that I write. And by rare I mean, it has literally never happened. “Defiance” is a Steven Universe origin fanfiction that explores the question: what if was Pearl, not Rose, who set the wheels in motion for the Crystal Gems’ rebellion and fight to save planet Earth? The story will be two or three parts in length. I am posting it unedited because if I spend too much time thinking about it, I’ll never finish it before the show proves my theories wrong 😉 Let me know if you see any glaring errors and/or what you think in general!
The first time Rose Quartz saw Pearl was in Pink Diamond’s court.
At the behest of her leader, Rose marched alongside her fellow soldiers in a meticulous tattoo, saluting their esteemed guest before standing in perfect formation. It was crucial that their presentation be as flawless as their Diamond; that both the brilliance and might of her ranks be unquestionably evident. After all, a diplomatic visit from White Diamond was rare, especially at a colony such as Earth. It was imperative that she be impressed by what she saw.
Rose stood among her comrades, still and precise, and listened while Pink Diamond debriefed White Diamond on the progress of Earth – Homeworld’s most ambitious colony to date. While the leaders strode about the ranks, Rose surreptitiously stole a glance at the pearl who followed a handful of paces behind her Diamond.
She was, without question, the most beautiful pearl Rose had ever seen. Lithe and elegant, it was clear that no expense had been spared in creating her. Only the best would do for White Diamond. But it was the indignant scowl that marred her otherwise lovely face that caught Rose’s attention above all else. Even the sour little pearl belonging to Yellow Diamond knew better than to sulk when out on official business. Rose wondered what in the universe could make a pearl so miserable.
“And this,” Pink Diamond’s voice cut through Rose’s thoughts as the pair came to stand before her. “Is my finest quartz soldier. She is an exemplary member of my ranks and a pristine rose quartz specimen.”
“Thank you, my Diamond.” Rose replied, flashing a customary salute to show her respect.
White Diamond hummed in a way that indicated she was impressed – a rare thing, indeed.
“Most excellent. I’ve heard much about your strength and strategy on the battlefield. You bring great pride to Homeworld.”
Again, Rose expressed her gratitude. Around her, she could feel tension emanating from her fellow soldiers, all of them desperate to be singled out and celebrated too. To receive such high praise directly from the Diamonds was one of the greatest honours a gem could receive. Well, aside from…
Rose’s eyes slipped again to the pearl, only to find her glaring back with such vehement distain that she had to fight to maintain her composure. What, in that pearl’s eyes, had she done to deserve a look so cold?
The image of the pearl’s glaring face remained burned in Rose’s memory long after she and her fellow soldiers had been dismissed. Rose knew that she – a high ranking quartz soldier in Pink Diamond’s army – should not have been phased by what a pearl thought of her. And yet, she was. It bothered her deeply that she didn’t know what she had done to upset her.
It was a few nights later, as Rose was sneaking back into the base after yet another evening spent exploring her stationed planet, that she found herself face to face with the pearl again.
An enraged bellowing rumbled from White Diamond’s quarters, bringing Rose to pause. The structure itself was grand and elaborate, constructed on Pink Diamond’s orders specifically for White Diamond’s visit, and was a perfect example of the Authority’s indulgence. It was spaced a comfortable distance from the standard barracks and other less flattering structures of the base, and given how little foot traffic its expansive courtyard saw, Rose often used it as a means for sneaking in and out undetected.
From her place in the shadows, Rose glanced around. The courtyard was empty as always; no one else was around to hear White Diamond’s rageful ranting.
The doors to the quarters were thrown open, light spilling into the courtyard around the edges of White Diamond’s massive silhouette. In a clenched fist she held aloft a small and wispy creature, which she shook violently.
“You miserable, ungrateful thing!” She shouted into the face of the struggling figure. “You forget your place!”
With a cruel swing she flung the body to the ground, and in the threshold light, Rose could see that it was the pearl who now laid crumpled and trembling at her Diamond’s feet.
“I will not tolerate this disrespect,” White Diamond spat viciously. “You are to remain out here until I decide you are worthy enough to stand at my side once more. And if you ever deny me again, so help me, I will have you shattered. I mean it this time!”
With that, White Diamond turned and disappeared back into her quarters, slamming the door behind her with a terrible crash. The pearl waited until she thought she was alone before letting herself succumb to tears.
Rose crept quietly from where she hid and watched as the pearl pulled herself gingerly to her feet. Her uniform – the scant couture high ranking gems preferred to see on their pearls – was wildly disheveled. With shaking hands the pearl set about tugging it back into place. As she drew closer, Rose could plainly see that the tears this pearl cried were not those of sorrow or regret – her face was hot with anger mixed with only a touch of fear.
“Are you alright?” Rose asked softly, trying not to startle the pearl and failing. The tiny gem jumped, but as her eyes landed on Rose her panic was replaced by contempt. Crossing her thin arms, the pearl frowned and looked away.
“It’s okay, Pearl.” Rose laughed. “You can speak to me, I promise I won’t tell anyone you did.”
Pearl experienced a rush of emotions all at once: the curious thrill that came with being directly addressed by someone other than her Diamond mingled with the bitterness of having been told what to do, no matter how gently.
“I don’t need your permission to speak,” Pearl snapped, an azure blush creeping across her cheeks.
“Oh!” Rose was surprised. She had never known a pearl to talk back before. “Well, my apologies then. Although I must say, your defiance doesn’t seem to be doing you many favours.”
Pearl eyed Rose suspiciously. “Says the quartz soldier skulking about after dark.”
It was Rose’s turn to blush. Embarrassing as it was to be sassed by a pearl, it set an exciting idea in motion and her eyes grew starry with delight.
“Would you like to know where I’ve been?” She asked, a coy grin creeping across her lush lips.
The thinly veiled glee in the quartz’s voice made Pearl uneasy.
“Why would you tell me something like that?” She asked.
“Because,” Rose extended her hand in invitation. “I think you might just the type of gem to appreciate it.”
Pearl cast a wary glance between Rose to the door and back again. It could be days before White Diamond’s rage ebbed. Would she even realize Pearl was gone?
Placing her delicate hand in Rose’s dwarfing palm, she decided to take the risk.