Lapis hummed gently as she sat at the shoreline, making certain that the shade of the cliffs would be blocking the most of the harsh sun from little Steven's head. Humans really did have such delicate skin.
Greg had left her in charge of babysitting Steven, as usual, while he worked at the car wash. It just wouldn't be practical for him to try and watch the two month old while trying to work his business at the same time. So he left the boy in what he knew would be good hands. Not that Peridot and Jasper were of much help anyhow. Peridot had grown more evasive of contact with other people, if that were even possible, since Steven had been born and Rose had... vanished. Jasper... she didn't really know what to make of her. She knew that she occasionally caught the orange Gem staring from a distance as she or Greg held Steven, but never said anything.
It didn't matter much to her, though. Unlike them, she didn't place any blame on the baby for Rose no longer being with them. She missed their leader, for certain, but it wasn't Steven's fault. And she had made a promise to Rose that she would take care of him, after all. If there was one thing she always kept close to heart, it was her promises.
"Hey, Lapis." The blue Gem looked up, startled at the sudden gruff voice. She hadn't even heard Jasper approaching, she was so wrapped up with her thoughts and Steven and the gentle sounds of the waves on the sand.
"Oh, hello Jasper," she greeted in a whisper.
"What're you doing out here?"
"Not much, really," she responded, smiling down at the infant she cradled in her arms. "I just thought I'd bring Steven out here for his nap. The weather is nice today, and it's nice and peaceful out here on the beach. Just the breeze and the tide." Lapis sighed peacefully, gazing out over the horizon."Steven just drifts right off to sleep when I bring him out here and sing to him."
"I see..." Jasper rumbled, crossing her arms over her chest so her hands didn't look idle.
"Anyhow, what are you doing here, Jasper?" Lapis asked curiously. "Here to enjoy the view?"
"... Not really," Jasper responded, drumming her fingers on her arm.
"Oh." Well, that was really the only reason Lapis could think off the top of her head as to why Jasper would be out here of all places. "So... why're you out here?"
"... I wanted to hold Rose," Jasper muttered. Lapis looked at her in surprise.
"You mean... Steven?" she asked, obviously confused. She and Rose had spoken so much about Steven as his own person, even when he had still been growing inside of Rose, so it was a bit of a shock to hear Jasper calling Steven by his mother's name.
"Yeah, that," Jasper responded. "Now will you hand her to me or not?"
"Steven's a he, first of all," Lapis responded. "And, second... I really don't think that's a good idea. Human babies are really delicate, they need a careful touch to care for. And you're a bit... well... Rough."
"What, so you're saying I can't handle holding it?"
"Him," Lapis corrected again, "and I'm not saying you can't handle it, I'm saying you don't know how. Your default is too rough, Jasper, and that wouldn't be good for Steven."
"It's just holding a little human, how hard can it be?" Jasped asked. "Here, just give it to me, I'll show you." She reached out a hand, and Lapis quickly stood, backing away from the larger Gem.
"Jasper," Lapis said in a warning tone. "I don't want you holding Steven. You could hurt him if you don't handle him right."
"I can handle a little human just fine," Jasper growled, still advancing. "Just hand it over to me."
"No!" Lapis snapped, clutching the baby tighter. "Rose asked me to take care of him and make sure he's safe, and I'm not going to go back on that by handing him over to you when you-"
At the mention of Rose, Jasper seethed, her hand curling up into a fist. And the more Lapis spoke, the more Jasper's temper built. Until at last, she growled viciously and slammed her fist into the side of the cliff.
"Rose isn't here now!" She snapped, breathing heavily as she glared down at her diminutive teammate. Her teeth were gritted, eyes blazing. However, the sound of crumbling rock made her look up, and she jerked as she saw many sizeable chunks of the cliff come tumbling down at them. Lapis thought quickly and pulled water from the ocean, putting it over their heads and forming a thick barrier of water to protect the three of them. The rocks bumped harmlessly off of the water, and landed with various thuds and splashes on the beach around them.
In all of the commotion, though, Steven had woken up, and started crying aloud. Lapis quickly dropped the water barrier and pulled him close, rocking him and shushing him gently to try and lull him back to calm. Jasper looked on, until Lapis gave her one of her most intense stares.
"If Rose were here, do you think she would be happy with you putting her baby in danger?" Jasper glared down at her, eyes blazing with anger. In the end, though, she let out a final sort of breath, even her shaking shoulders stilled.
"Fine, I'll leave you both alone then," she said softly, turning heel away from Lapis. "Have fun babysitting like you promised." She stomped off through the sand, allowing Lapis enough time to glare at her retreating back before turning back down to Steven and cradling him closer to herself to give him comfort.
Rocks were shattering left and right at the impact of Jasper's fists. The stones in this abandoned quarry were no match for her and her anger at the injustice of it all.
What does Lapis know about what Rose would want anyway?! Jasper roared in her mind as she took out a boulder twice her size. All she ever did was trail after her like a stupid puppy, or else disappear for days or weeks at a time! Now she thinks that little Rose coming around makes things any different than they were?! Yet another fell to pebbles. I was Rose's most trusted soldier! I fought for her on those battlefields, more than anyone! Because I was the strongest! And now Lapis thinks she has the right to think she's the one with the biggest responsibilities now?! Because she thinks I'm not strong enough to handle it?! I! Can! Handle! Anything!
Jasper picked up one boulder and threw it at the wall, letting it shatter as she panted from both exertion and anger. She was just so angry. She wanted to wreck up this whole place in her rage until it was nothing but rubble!
As she stood there, though, something seemed to ring at the back of her mind. Something said to her long ago.
Incredible. You're so strong, Jasper. I think you're definitely one of the strongest soldiers here. But... you rely on that so much. You need to spread your talents, or else being strong is all you'll have. You have so much potential, Jasper. I don't want to see it limited just because you only rely on one talent. I know you can do amazing things. You just need to open up. Just a bit more.
Jasper took a look around her, really saw what she had done. The quarry, though not pristine when she had gotten here, was an utter wreck after she had let out her mindless fury on this place. In the red haze of her vision, she hadn't even realized just how much she had been breaking. She looked down at her hands, still clean and hardly dirty, even after all of that.
Her hands weren't made for gentle things. She was a warrior, her whole purpose was to fight and dominate and destroy, all in the name of Homeworld and their cause.
...But then, she wasn't doing anything for Homeworld anymore, was she?
"Your default is too rough, Jasper, and that wouldn't be good for Steven."
"...Dangit," she grunted. Jasper curled her hands up into fists, and made her way out of the quarry. Her gait that of a Gem on a mission.
At long last, Lapis had managed to lull Steven back to sleep, and now he was waking up again, happy and refreshed from his now peaceful nap. At the very least he had slept soundly this time. Now Lapis contented herself to entertaining Steven by making animal shapes out of the ocean water, loving how simply Steven was entertained by the sparkly floating visages.
"Hey." Her concentration faltered a moment, hearing that voice, but she kept up the animals once she turned to Jasper, to keep Steven giggling.
"Hello, Jasper," she greeted softly. "Back so soon?" The orange Gem grunted, scratching at the back of her head.
"Yeah... So, Lapis..." Lapis said nothing, but kept her eyes on Jasper, indicating that she was listening. "I know I... kinda did... and said that stuff earlier. Stuff I shouldn't have. So... you know... I'm sorry I did all that." Lapis almost couldn't believe her ears. Jasper? Apologizing?
"... I don't want you to be sorry, Jasper," she replied at last. "I just want you to be careful. I mean, I get that you want to know more about Steven, since he's Rose's baby, but... human babies... even if they're half Gem, they're so delicate. You need to take extra care of them, they even need to be held specially... I just want to keep Steven safe. And not just for Rose."
The two Gems sat in silence for a bit, the only sounds being Steven as he giggled at Lapis's effortless ocean-water animal display.
"... D'you think you could show me how, then?" Lapis looked at Jasper, who shifted uncertainly in the sand. "You know... so I'll be able to hold him safely and all that..." The blue Gem looked at her friend, surprised at how uncertain Jasper was being.
In the end, though, she smiled, and turned the way she sat, showing Jasper how Steven lay in her arms.
"Well, the first thing to remember is to support a baby's neck, since they're so delicate..."