Fandom: Steven Universe
Characters: Pearl, Rose Quartz
Notes: I'll enjoy this until canon comes and bulldozers it. And then I'll be happy because I just know it will be good canon.
Summary: Pearl and Rose Quartz's first encounter in the Homeworld. Built over a few theories and a lot of headcanons.
The Mother-of-Pearl stared at the datapad with the instructions of the day for a long moment before giving it to the corresponding Pearl. Long enough so the later began to suspect that perhaps they'd finally decided to dispose of her. That her hard work and strong sense of discipline were pointless, and they would never make up for her imperfections. Pearls were already at the bottom of Gem society, and the ones like her fell even lower.
"Far be from me to comment or—worse—question these orders," the Mother-of-Pearl said, her surprised betrayed only by her slightly raised eyebrows as she handed over the datapad. "But I'm sure they'll send you back when they realize there was a mix-up. Look for me then and we'll find you something to do today."
"As you say," Pearl answered. It seemed like she still had a place, so this was less bad than she expected—and then it became worse than she expected when she read the instructions. "I-I'm summoned to pilot the ship of Pink Diamond herself?" she stuttered. "But I'm…I..."
The Mother-of-Pearl waved her hand. "As I said, a mix-up. They will send you back, and they'll need time to find a suitable replacement, so hurry."
Pearl shook her head in an attempt to put herself together. "Yes, ma'am," she said and hurried to the hangar zone, datapad clutched to her chest. She hoped news of this wouldn't spread among the other Pearls. She didn't need even more whispers and snickers behind her back. Part of her wanted to yell at them that they had no right, that all of them shared the same humble beginning, as waste thrown in the soft inside of space clams, instead of coming from the depths of a planet, properly molded by pressure and temperature. However, it was her who had no right.
The perfect Pearl was round and smooth. Like the Mother-of-Pearl, who got her title for being efficient and trustworthy on top of everything. However, at some crucial point Pearl's clam pressed harder than it should have, and as a result she was flatter on one side, like a disc instead of a sphere. Not all imperfect Pearls made the cut. Most of them were disposed of from the beginning, which made Pearl well aware of how lucky she was. Of how harder she should work to to be allowed to serve the Gem Homeworld. Which led to this being even more puzzling.
The guard at the gate of the hangar looked at her with disgust, but let her through when she showed her the datapad. Once inside, locating Pink Diamond wasn't difficult. She was the largest and most beautiful Gem there—and one of the most powerful beings in Homeworld, holder of the title of Diamond as proof. No one but the best of the best could work directly under her.
Pearl got ready to be turned down and thoroughly humiliated. "Pearl reporting for duty, ma'am," she said, all stiffness, offering the datapad.
Pink Diamond turned around, her long, curly hair bouncing as she did. The datapad got a quick glance and Pink Diamond focused her whole attention on the one carrying it, an appreciative expression on her face. It took Pearl a long while to process it was approval.
"The report says you got the highest record piloting this kind of spaceship," Pink Diamond said, gesturing toward the one next to them, which was being made ready to set out.
"Yes, ma'am," Pearl replied just to say something. To be honest, though, she didn't know about having the highest record, only that she was proud of never crashing during the simulations.
"Good. We're about to leave to start the colonization of a new planet and you're our pilot. Go to the control room and await instructions."
Pearl nodded slowly. "Yes, ma'am," she repeated. She turned around and began walking with mechanical steps.
Had that really happened?
The first thing on Pearl's mind: the Mother-of-Pearl disappointed because she never showed up to receive new work for the day. Then again, she probably wouldn't for a while. Travel and colonization before warp pads were set on place could take a few centuries. Until then, she'd be busy serving the Homeworld in a way she always thought would be beyond her reach.
Pearl wouldn't dare to dream becoming an essential part of Pink Diamond's crew, but even if she were to be sent to scrub garbage cans daily when she returned, she'd always treasure this trip, this opportunity to make something big and useful despite all her imperfections.
Of course, nothing happened the way everyone thought it would.
Once, after the war, long after Rose Quartz renounced the title of Pink Diamond, Pearl worked up the courage to ask her if she was aware that it wasn't a perfect Pearl the one she summoned that day.
Rose covered her mouth with the back of her hand and giggled. "It was on your file," she said. "That's why no one would call you, despite you being the best. But I thought that leaving my fate in the hands of someone capable was more important than some old prejudice. However," she added, placing her hands on Pearl's shoulders, "no matter what anyone can say, I did get a perfect Pearl, and she's right here."
Pearl's heart swelled with pride and joy as she swore once more that she'd always be at the side of Rose Quartz. Forever. No matter what.
Of course, nothing happened the way everyone thought it would…