“Jim,” Spock said patiently, “there is no logic in introducing our daughter to the concept of the Easter Bunny.”
Curled up on the sofa with the love of his life, Jim just grinned and gave Spock a quick kiss on one ear. “Don’t be silly, love; we’ve been over this. You get to make her all logical and brilliant; I get to spoil her. And the Easter Bunny is definitely part of the spoiling experience.” He grinned again. “When she’s old enough, I get to tell her about the Tooth Fairy, too.”
“If such a creature appeared in T’Lira’s room, she would in all likelihood shoot it with your phaser,” Spock informed his bond mate. T’Lira had endured a fairly miserable teething period, and “Nasty teeth” had been her favorite expression for several weeks.
“Well, I’m still telling her about the Easter Bunny,” Jim maintained. “She’ll love it; she loves animals and chocolate.”
Spock sighed, resigned to his bond mate’s flights of fancy. “I suppose that means you will expect….I believe you said it was called an Easter basket…as well?”
“Naturally,” Jim chortled. “And if you’re good, t’hy’la…” his voice dropped to that low, sexy growl that always got Spock hot, “I’ll make sure there’s a big chocolate cream egg for you, too.” Jim knew his Vulcan. T’Lira wasn’t the only one who loved chocolate, although unlike her Vulcan parent, she didn’t get drunk on it.
Spock blushed a brilliant green; Jim just laughed and squeezed him. “It’s okay; I love you when you’re high on chocolate,” he murmured. “Actually, I love you all the time.” He glanced at the chronometer. “And speaking of love…”
“We have 56 minutes until T’Lira returns from her visit with Dr. McCoy,” Spock noted. “May I suggest we utilize this time…efficiently, captain?” Spock knew how hot Jim got when he called him ‘captain’ in bed.
“First Officer,” Jim whispered, his hands busy, “you read my mind.”
They were sponged off and dressed when the buzzer sounded. “Come in,” Jim called. The door slid open to reveal Bones, carrying T’Lira in his arms. At the age of ten months, she walked perfectly well, but she was so adorable that most people found an excuse to carry her whenever possible. As always, her face lit up at the sight of her parents.
“Papa! Sa-mekh! Visit my t’hy’la,” she announced. Less than an hour after the birth of Selik James McCoy, the son of Bones and his new wife T’Rina, T’Lira had visited and announced that the baby was her t’hy’la. Jim and Bones both smiled about it, still thinking it was more of a joke than anything. Spock and T’Rina knew better; the children were t’hy’la.
“Hey, sweetie.” Jim took her from Bones. “You go brush your teeth and get ready for bed, ok? Then I’ll come in and tell you a story.
“Ok, go brush nasty teeth,” T’Lira said. She turned to Bones. “Bye, Uncle Grumpy Bones.”
“Bye, sweetie,” Bones said with a smile.
“Did she behave?” Jim asked when T’Lira was out of earshot.
“Good as gold,” McCoy replied. “And it’s amazing how good she is with Selik. He just loves her to death.”
“They are t’hy’la, Doctor,” Spock said quietly. “I know you think it is a fantasy on her part, but I can promise you, it is real.”
McCoy shrugged. “Well, I’ll be happy to welcome T’Lira as a daughter, that’s for sure.” He eyed Spock. “Of course, that just means I’ll have to spend every holiday with you.”
“How fortunate for you,” Spock observed solemnly but with a twinkle in his eye.
“Papa. Time to tell story,” T’Lira called. Jim came into his daughter’s room to find her in her new canopy bed, crafted courtesy of Scotty. (Jim had made up his mind not to ask where the Chief Engineer had gotten the wood). T’Lira’s crib was being ‘recycled,’ since Scotty and Nyota were expecting a baby in five months.
“Did you brush your teeth?” Jim asked.
“Yes; sa-mekh helped.”
“Did you wash your face?” Jim asked, sitting down on the edge of the bed.
“No, wash in morning. Too much water bad for Vulcans,” T’Lira informed him.
“You are only one-quarter Vulcan, sweetheart, and you need your face washed,” Jim replied as firmly. He went into the bath and got a warm, wet cloth. He came back to the bed and wiped T’Lira’s face, drying it with a soft towel.
“Get wrinkles now,” she pouted.
“I’ll talk to Dr. Geoff about making up some moisturizer for you,” Jim replied with a smile.
“OK, get cream from Dr. Geoff.” T’Lira settled into bed, her stuffed sehlat, Grumpy Bones, under the covers with her, his head on a pillow. “Tell story now, please.”
“All right,” Jim said. “This story is really good, because it’s true, and it’s going to happen in just a few weeks,” he began.
T’Lira sat bolt upright in bed. “Sa-mekh have baby?” she asked.
Jim choked. T’Lira had been bugging them about a sibling for the past two months.
“No, sweetheart,” he said hastily. “Sa-mekh is not having a baby right now. We have you to take care of.”
“Don’t need care,” she replied.
“Yes, you do; you need your face washed,” Jim retorted with a grin.
T’Lira sighed. “Ok, no baby now. What story, Papa?”
Jim lowered his voice. “I want to tell you about a magical creature, the Easter Bunny…
“Jim,” Spock said several days later, “I am worried about T’Lira.”
His bond mate nodded. “I know, love; I’ve seen it, too. She’s way too quiet.”
“Have you asked her what is wrong?”
“Of course, but she’s clammed up the way she does when she’s worried about something and doesn’t want to share.” Jim sighed. “For someone who’s only one-quarter Vulcan, she sure is stubborn.”
“And of course, there is no stubbornness in your make-up,” Spock informed his mate solemnly.
Jim grinned. “Of course not.” He sobered quickly, however. “But I’m still worried about Lira.”
“Have you picked up anything?” Ever since their discovery that T’Lira was empathic as well as telepathic, Spock had maintained a link with her mind.
Spock frowned. “Nothing specific, just general anxiety; she is becoming far too skilled at blocking me when she wishes to.”
“Great.” Jim sighed. “Well, I guess we’re just like every other set of parents; we have no clue what our child is thinking.”
Spock thought about it. “I will be alone with her tomorrow night while you are in that e-conference with Command,” he said. “I will observe her behavior at that time and see if I can discover—and hopefully eliminate—the cause of her worry.”
“Thanks, love.” Jim was relieved. “You’re a great parent.”
“Sa-mekh?” A small voice spoke from near Spock’s knee. He looked up from his padd to find his daughter standing patiently by his side, her tiny hands clasped behind her back. Spock smiled inwardly. The older she got, the more T’Lira’s mannerisms resembled his own. It was…illogical to find that gratifying, of course.
“Yes, small one. What may I do for you?” he asked.
“May we talk?” she asked gravely.
“Of course.” He set the padd aside and lifted T’Lira onto his lap. He cradled her comfortably in his arms, pressing a kiss to the bright hair so much like Jim’s. In the last month or so, the baby curl had abruptly departed from her hair, and it was now straight and shiny.
“What do you wish to discuss?” Spock asked gently.
T’Lira looked up at him, the huge indigo eyes sad. “Sa-mekh, Papa …delusional,” she said sadly.
“Delusional?” Spock was startled. “My daughter, where did you learn that word?”
“Uncle Grumpy Bones has dictionary,” she explained. “Big book with lots of words. He let me read, learn about medicine.” T’Lira had learned to read in the past month, and she was fascinated with the printed word.
Spock smothered the impulse to smile. “I do know what a dictionary is, child,” he replied, “although I am not sure that a medical dictionary is the proper reading material for you at this time.” Spock resolved to have a quiet word with McCoy about the matter.
“Knowledge is good, sa-mekh,” T’Lira informed him solemnly. Spock fought against another impulse to smile. His daughter was certainly eroding his emotional controls even faster than his bond mate could.
“True, but not all knowledge is appropriate for small ones. However, we will let that pass for now. Why do you think your papa is delusional?” Spock cut to the heart of the matter.
“Papa told me about Easter Bunny,” she explained.
“Yes, I remember.”
“I did research on Earth creature Lepus Capensis,” she informed him.
“With Uncle Bones’ assistance?” he asked, firmly resolved to talk with McCoy immediately.
“No, Auntie Nyota helped me look in computer,” T’Lira replied.
“I see.” Apparently everyone on the ship was determined to let his daughter indulge her intellectual curiosity without any brakes at all.
“Sa-mekh, Lepus Capensis cannot travel in space,” T’Lira told him earnestly. “It does not wear clothes. It does not make jelly beans or chocolate eggs. It does not talk. Everything Papa told me not logical. He is very sick to believe in Easter Bunny. We must help him, have Uncle Grumpy Bones fix him.”
“Lira,” Spock said gently. “Your papa is not delusional. He knows that the Easter Bunny is not a real mammal.”
The eyes got huge. “Papa lied?”
“No, my child,” Spock replied reassuringly. “You see, human parents create many myths for small ones, stories to entertain them. The Easter Bunny is one such story. Your papa will fill a basket with confections for you while you are asleep. When you wake and find it, he will tell you the Easter Bunny left it behind.”
One red-gold eyebrow slanted upwards. “There is no logic in that, sa-mekh. Papa should just tell me he gives me confections.”
“I agree,” Spock responded. “However, this story, and the surprise of you finding a basket on Easter, makes your papa very happy. When he was a small one like you, he was not always allowed to indulge in such activities. Now he can with you, and that brings him joy. Do you understand?”
She thought for a moment. “So Papa not sick?”
He hugged her. “No, small one, but I am gratified that you were worried about him and that you came to me with that worry. You must always do so if there is something you do not understand. Human behavior is occasionally bewildering.”
“But sa-mekh, I part human.”
“Yes,” he replied gently, “and I will not always understand your behavior, my daughter. But when I am confused, your papa will help me, just as I help you.”
“Ok.” She thought for another moment. “So we keep secret about Easter Bunny? Make papa happy?”
“Yes; I would appreciate it if you could do that for your papa.”
“Ok.” T’Lira slid off Spock’s lap. “But still illogical.”
It was Easter morning. T’Lira padded into the living area. In a few moments, Jim and Spock heard her voice.
“Papa! Sa-mekh!” T’Lira came running into their room. “The Easter Bunny come! He left basket for me, for papa, for sa-mekh, too!”
“Wow,” Jim said, climbing out of bed and picking up his daughter. “We’d better go see, right, Lira?”
“Yes, Papa,” she said. “Go see now!”
Jim carried her out of their room. Over his shoulder, T’Lira exchanged a long look with Spock. She winked. He hid his smile. His daughter kept their secret well. Jim got to believe in the Easter Bunny.