Lieutenant Reed was somewhat puzzled. In spite of all his experience in tactics and strategy, he somehow ended up taking care of a two-year-old Tucker clone. For the life of him, the officer couldn't figure out how that had happened. One moment he was visiting Sickbay and asking after general welfare of one of his recently, and quite unfortunately, injured security men, and the next he was handed a child and told to 'just watch him for a bit' while Phlox rushed out to deal with some emergency.
Well, not literally 'handed' – more like stood in front of.
Reed looked down at the child and once again marvelled at the frankly amazing abilities of the white blob that Phlox had injected with Tucker's DNA.
Meanwhile, little Sim was looking at Reed, his blue eyes wide with curiosity.
And Reed was looking at Sim.
Awkward silence reigned.
The Lieutenant wasn't sure what to do, he never liked children and avoided them whenever possible. He glanced around nervously in hopes of spotting a nurse or really anyone, so that he could foist Sim on them and make a quick exit.
No such luck. It seemed like he was stuck here for a while before he could escape to the safety of his Armoury.
He glanced down at Sim who was sucking his thumb and watching Malcolm with interest.
"Don't do that." Reed tugged the child's hand away from his mouth. He was fairly sure that among many other things, kids weren't supposed to keep their fingers in their mouths. Sim allowed the half-hearted attempt at parenting then frowned and put his hand back where it was. Malcolm gave up, consoling himself with the thought that at least the child wasn't picking his nose. Yet.
With a sigh, he lifted his charge up on a biobed. He sat beside him and took out a data PADD containing the night-shift's report from the Armoury and results of the simulations on the recently modified aft phase cannon. He might as well get some work done.
Sim looked at the PADD with delight. "A story!"
"No, not a story," Malcolm replied. "A report."
"A story," Sim repeated stubbornly.
"I don't know any stories. I'm afraid you'll just have to sit quietly for a bit and let me do something productive with my time here."
"I want a story." No, apparently Sim wasn't one to give up so easily.
Malcolm rubbed his forehead and sighed. "OK. A story about what happened in the Armoury while uncle Malcolm was asleep."
"Yes, Armoury. A big place full of things that go 'boom'."
The child looked duly impressed and Malcolm began to read the report aloud.
After a while, though, Sim decided the story wasn't as impressive or interesting as it first appeared to be and started fidgeting and tugging Reed's arm.
"What is it?" Malcolm asked distractedly. Ensign Davis had just written about 'a 30 sec. power outage'. It would have to be carefully checked.
"I want down," Sim demanded.
"What for?" Malcolm was still frowning at his PADD.
"Put me down," Sim was tugging at Reed's sleeve insistently.
Malcolm eyed the child suspiciously, a horrible thought of changing nappies flashing through his mind. Wait, by this age the kid should be potty-trained, shouldn't he? Malcolm wasn't sure – how fast did Sim aged anyway?
He set the child down and watched as he happily trotted in the direction of another curtained area of sickbay. Malcolm abruptly remembered it was where Tucker lay; in a coma, head bandaged and various tubes sticking out of his body. Probably not a sight for a child to see.
He caught Sim and sat him on a biobed again. "You can't go there."
"Why not?" the child looked like he was about to throw a tantrum.
"You just... can't."
He definitely was not going to explain the whole grisly business with Commander Tucker to little Sim. He might dislike kids but he was neither completely heartless nor stupid.
"Come on," ever the tactician, Reed tried distraction. "I've got some phase cannon schematics. You'll like them."
"Pictures!" Sim shouted gleefully seeing the PADD's display.
For the next three hours Sim asked 'what's that?' and 'what's that for?' and 'why?' and Malcolm happily explained the inner workings of the Enterprise's cannons (in the process concluding that modifications to the aft one increased its efficiency by almost 2.9 percent) and even made a short digression on the subject of photon torpedoes.
When he finished Sim was fast asleep.
The next day, first thing in the morning, the Doctor experienced something of a shock. Sim woke up and demanded breakfast, speaking with a perfect British accent.
Phlox theorised that it was due to Lieutenant Reed's babysitting occurring at a particularly crucial time of Sim's developing his language skills. He was a bit worried what impact this incident would have on Commander Tucker after the operation.
The Doctor was momentarily distracted by the mental image of Lieutenant and Commander arguing as usual, only this time with the added attraction of them sounding exactly the same. If that wasn't enough to cause both of their teams to die from excessive laughter, Reed's and Tucker's glares surely would do the job.
He commed Malcolm to inform him of the new development. He thought the Lieutenant sounded almost excited.
And Reed was excited all right. He suddenly had this vision of his future kids, perfect little copies of Malcolm himself. He would watch his son follow in Malcolm's footsteps and—
And Malcolm's thoughts screeched to a halt. He remembered how well that went with his own father.
His enthusiasm deflated slightly.
Besides, all that infancy period was bound to get on his nerves.
He sighed. Yes, perhaps having children wasn't such a great idea. He'll think about it some other time. Maybe next year.