Jim snapped the last cupboard clasp into place right as his door chime sounded.
"Come in!" he grinned as he looked up, "Ah, there you are, all three. Lovely." He gestured around, "Just finished baby-proofing the place-" He held out his hands for the devastatingly cute, and surprisingly alert baby she was holding.
Uhura looked around, with a mother's skeptic eye, and put a protective hand out in front of Bee, "She's only just two months old, Jim - you need to be baby-proofed more than your room does!"
Bee gurgled and coughed charmingly.
Jim laughed, "Aw, who said I didn't love kids? C'mon, let me hold her a minute. . ."
"Wash your hands," said Uhura peremptorily.
Grinning, he went to do so. Spock followed him and stood at the washroom door.
"I implore you, Captain, do not make this any more difficult for Nyota than it needs to be," he said, with a voice so low Jim had to strain to hear it, "It is the first time she will have been separated from T'Ashal for more than an hour at a time - she is understandably anxious."
Jim smirked a little as he dried his hands, "And I bet you want your wife to yourself tonight, eh?"
"That is part of it, certainly. . ."
Jim laughed out loud, "You two worry-warts! Would I have volunteered to watch her if I didn't think it would go smoothly?"
"Your service record suggests you would, yes."
Jim sobered instantly. Whenever Spock brought up his service record, he knew he was in deadly earnest.
"She's my niece, Spock. Or as good as." He looked his first officer straight in the eyes, "Right?"
Spock nodded, "In essence. Yes."
"Then trust me. I've got M'Benga on speed-comm, and Bones as automatic back-up; Chapel's already offered to come help me feed her three times since yesterday; Rand is blatantly jealous; Scotty's been moping all day - and I highly doubt it's because neither you nor I will be at the poker table tonight - and Sulu warned me about diaper-changes and such things eight times on the bridge this morning." He wagged his finger in Spock's direction, "Your little girl is the most adored person on this ship."
"T'Ashal does mean, "beloved", Jim, we intended her to know how much we cared for. . ."
"Well, I've got it just as bad as the rest of them, believe me."
He elbowed his way back into his main living room, "Okay, all clean, Mama. Can Uncle Jim hold Bee-bee, now?"
Uhura relented with a half smirk, "Your couch is probably the best place. . ."
"Ooh, sitting up already, are you? What a precocious girl you are!" he bounced her on his hip once and "flew" her over to the couch, murmuring endearments the whole way. She crowed in response, and wiggled into a stable sitting position on the middle cushion.
"Vulcan infancies are truncated given their prolonged ges-"
"Gestation period, yes, I know, Spock, I know." He handed her a bucket full of wooden blocks, which she immediately began to pile up and push around while she made drooly humming noises, "Go have fun you two - we're perfectly happy over here."
Spock held up a replicator card, "If she fusses and will not respond to calming, there is a Vulcan fig-taffy that- "
"Put it on the table there, Spock," Jim sighed, "Thanks."
Uhura still looked slightly unsure, and came over and kissed her on the top of her neat little cap of silky hair, "See you soon, Baby Bee. . ."
With a supportive arm, and a cautious backwards glance, Spock ushered Uhura out.
For the first two hours, Jim was the happiest of uncles. Bee played, and gurgled, and looked solemnly at him while he told ridiculous stories - some made up, some true, and some he hadn't told anyone before.
It hadn't occurred to him until then just how satisfying a listener a baby could be. . .
He'd even gotten a little work done on his logs and reports, when his stomach growled. He hadn't eaten much that day, and he suddenly remembered that the baby needed to eat too.
He went over to the bag Spock and Uhura had left on his bed. A ludicrous selection of baby food filled the top half. Uhura had said it was "just in case". Just in case what, Jim was unsure. Bee was only going to eat once while in his care anyway, why did she need eighteen different types of specialty food in self-heating containers? He removed the top two containers and read the labels. Soft-boiled broccoli chunks, and pureed sweet potato. He shrugged. It was as good as anything else.
He tapped the heating button on each container, and shifted Bee to the high chair he had borrowed from the nursery in Sickbay. He retrieved two more things from the bag, then set the rubbery baby spoon and sippy cup full of warming breast milk on the tray in front of her. Then he replicated a steak, fries, and a glass of wine for himself. By then, her food was warm. He removed the lids, and served her the bowls with a flourish.
"Your dinner, madaaame," he drawled, and got a kick out of hearing her coo and chuckle in response.
He sat down across from her, and raised his glass in salute.
"Here's to. . . this baby thing. Maybe it's not so bad. . ."
He changed his mind in ten seconds flat.
The first cube of broccoli had landed squarely on his steak - the second slid mushily across the table and stopped in front of his wineglass. The first spoonful of sweet potato, though, got him right in the eye.
After that, there were several minutes Jim didn't remember very well. In later years, he would rank being pelted with baby food as the third most harrowing experience of his life - right after Tarsus IV and Rura Penthe. "And much, MUCH more terrifying," he would say, with a convincing shudder.
At last, Jim dived for the replicator card Spock had left, jammed it into the machine, grabbed the resultant twist of dark, sticky candy, and shoved it at Bee almost without thinking about it.
Bee, unused to receiving this treat unless she was upset or in pain, dropped her other food, and began to suck greedily on the stuff, her toothless gums smacking together happily.
Jim panted, leaning on the now disaster area of his dinner table, "Oh, we are soooo getting back at your dad. . ."
His door chimed.
He was unsure whether he had managed to hit the panic button or not, but no matter. Bones, Chapel, even Rand or Scotty - he'd be glad for the company while he cleaned all th-
His mind stuttered to a halt when he saw who it actually was. . .
"That plomeek stew was excellent, darling." Ny sat back and sighed. Her first dinner without T'Ashal in their quarters had turned out much better than she had feared. She missed her baby, of course, but it was nice to be able to eat without strategic force fields everywhere.
"It was made all the better by your sweet-potato bread."
"I just can't seem to master Vulcan cooking as well as you though. . ."
"But your fried plantains were quite a revelation. I never did develop a taste for bananas."
"Plantains are a different kettle of fish entirely, Spock."
"Well then, even your mixed metaphors are acceptable."
Ny smiled at Spock's signature counter-compliments. They could sit here for another ten minutes, doing nothing but pointing out how wonderful the other was. Pleasant as that normally was, she had other plans for tonight.
"Really, I have to thank the set of cast-iron pots and pans you got us. Pre-seasoned and everything! They're just like what my mother used to cook in," she tapped the stew pot with the wooden ladle that had come with it, "Are you sure the Science department didn't mind using up five Special Replicator credits? Cast iron takes twice as much energy to replicate as your basic teflonimide heating-pan."
"The labs will barely miss them, I assure you. Our energy allotment is prioritized such that I, as department head, have a personal Special Replicator credit ration. Five is not quite an entire week's worth."
"Oh? I never knew that."
"It is meant for emergencies. Usually I donate my personal portion to Engineering, as they are much more likely to have need of them."
Ny lip twisted, "And apparently, Communications has no need for them at all. . ."
Spock's eyebrow raised in confusion, "I was unaware your department was overlooked in this matter."
She shrugged, "Not entirely overlooked - we have an energy ration just like everyone, and enough Special Replicator credits to make replacement parts if anything breaks - but I'd like a few to use for my own projects now and then."
"I will speak to the Captain tomorrow."
"Speaking of the captain. . . how do you think he's doing?" She looked askance at her husband.
Spock tilted his head a little, and his face took on the look it usually did when he was accessing the familial bond.
"Our daughter is. . . very happy."
Ny smiled grimly, "Oh dear. We better go rescue him."
Spock shook his head firmly. "No."
Nyota laughed incredulously, "But. . . but he's probably. . . "
"Yes. . ." he took a deep breath before saying, "I spoke to Carol Marcus yesterday."
Nyota was brought up short by this non sequitur.
"W-wh. . . what?"
"I spoke to Carol Marcus yesterday."
"Uhm. Okaaaay? How is she?"
"Very. . ." he pressed his fingertips together contemplatively, "Angry."
"But. . . why?
"In the course of our conversation, I mentioned our anniversary plans. And she was quite surprised. You see, apparently she and Jim have been arguing over whether or not it would be a good idea for them to have a baby. He has been staunchly against it for some time, I understand"
Ny relaxed, "Ohhhh. I see. Or rather - I think I see. . ."
"When I explained in more detail what tonight would entail, she made me promise her something. And I have honored this promise."
Light was dawning, and she slipped out a gift box from one of their little side-cupboards.
"And that promise was. . . . . .?
"We are going to let her rescue Jim."
"Oh, you are evil!" Nyota chuckled. She made him push back his chair and then sat in his lap. "But, what's done is done, and maybe, this way, we have time for these. . ." She held up the box of orange chocolate truffles.
Spock blinked at them, then glanced at the chronometer. "I should think we very much have time for those, Nyota. . ."
It took well over an hour, most of which was filled with a lot of very loud and angry whispering that they didn't know was disturbing her sleep cycle, but eventually, S'chn T'gai T'Ashal "Bee-bee" Nyah Elizabeth Grayson-Uhura, Heir of Surak, fell asleep that night, cradled safely between a newly engaged pair of very happy people, who loved her almost as much as her parents did.