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You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby

By Linda Terrell
Page 2 of 2

Consider this: being a nanny to four children in full grown bodies. How do you control a group like that? How do you spank them? I managed to keep them occupied with sleights of hand and bad jokes and puns, but their attention spans took them away from me every five minutes.

Blake's natural curiosity had him trying to take apart anything he could get his hands on, including Orac! Avon was still intense, but he kept very close to Blake, even so, and if I came across too threatening to Blake, Avon became very protective of him. Well, he was always protecting Blake. I think Avon saw Blake as a big child, enthusiastic and naive, and now, he was a big child. They make a good team, those two. Blake likes to take things apart and Avon delights in seeing what's inside. Jenna pretends to fly the ship, but can't since I ordered Zen not take any voice commands from any of them. Orac went to work on a formula to counteract the wine and I managed to whip some up under his nasty guidance. He's a testy cook.

Trouble, now, is that both Cally and Jenna have a terrific crush on Blake, but the two boys don't want anything to do with the girls.

"No, I don't want to kiss you and don't kiss me again or I'll smash you in the face!" Blake growled, moving back and slightly behind Avon.

Jenna stood defiantly with hands on hips, pressed up against Avon and looking and talking right past him as if he wasn't there. "You can't tell me what to do. Go ahead, hit me. Just try it. See if you can. Betcha can't. I'm faster." She danced backwards, laughing.

"Well, if you won't hit her, I will." Avon moved forward, swinging out at her, but Blake caught him by his pants and pulled him back.

"I don't think we're supposed to hit girls," Blake said, looking wide-eyed and very serious.

"Watch me!" Avon snapped, pulling away and marching to Jenna, who still stood defiantly, daring him.

Avon swung out and Jenna decked him.

I had always wondered why she was the only one of us Avon never really verbally attacked. Why he and she always seemed to be more equal than the rest. Avon considers me below him. He's in awe of Blake's strength and visions. Cally sometimes seemed to have Avon's "attention." But in hindsight, Avon never really tongue-lashed Jenna. Now, maybe, I know why. She decked him with one neat left cross.

She stuck her tongue out at him, then walked over to Blake. "Think you can take me? Go ahead, I dare you."

Blake was pouting dangerously. He picked up a hefty tool and was preparing to throw it at her. I got in between them--which I realized was suicidal, later---snatched the tool from Blake and pushed Jenna to the flight couch.

"That's enough! Both of you. If you keep this up, I'll lock you in your cabins." I don't believe I said that.

There was a chorus of "No!" and things settled down, until Cally decided she wanted Blake's attention. She helped Avon to his feet and was very gentle with him, leading him back to Blake and the weapons they'd been picking apart. Then, she sat with both of them and got "interested" in their work.

Cally's a pretty sexy lady and she was a pretty sexy kid--she got their attention, both of them. Well, maybe Avon's, a little more. Blake was not "noticing," even then. Avon and Cally got into an animated conversation over some piece they were trying to sort out. Blake got his together and working (as much as I'd allow) and presented it to them with a satisfied, "There!" They ignored him. He threw it at them. Avon instinctively went for Blake and they both went rolling over the deck in a snarling tangle. Cally just sat back, smiling a little, feline smile.

By now, I was very tired of the squabbling. I decided to let them settle things among themselves. I had a terrible headache.

Cally and Jenna pulled the two men apart, then they both sat with Blake, soothing him and going on about what a terrible boy Avon was. Stamping his foot in frustration, Avon ran to the couch, threw himself down on it and, curling up near me, went into a formidable pout.

"I'm not bad!" he cried, turning to me for some parental support. The two girls simply wrapped themselves more tightly around Blake, who looked like he was enjoying it. He certainly didn't seem to mind the attention. Blake never minded attention. But now, he didn't have a chance against the two of them. We were always outnumbered by the two women. Jenna and Cally were always a bit wary of each other, but now, they were united.

"He was playing with me," Avon cried to me. "Why did they take him away? He's my friend!"

"I, er, think he may be a bit confused, Avon."

"He's my friend. Tell them to leave him alone."

Avon in full pout is impressive.

"Why don't you all play together?" I asked, which was about as wise as I could call up, by then. Avon wasn't buying it.

"Blake is my friend!" He turned and looked at Blake, who could only smile stupidly back past the two girls, who were smothering him. "Aren't you?" When Blake seemed at a loss as to how to reply, Avon crawled into my arms and cried quietly. That was an entirely new experience.

"They're always taking my friends away from me," he sobbed.


"My parents. My tutors. They say my friends aren't good enough for me to be with. That they will bring me down and get in the way of my learning. But I want to play with them! I like talking to them. Other kids have friends to play with. Why can't I?" He lifted his head to look at Blake. "Don't let them make you leave me, Blake."

Well, that pushed all the right buttons in Blake. Even as a seven-year-old, he was still the compassionate, loving teddy bear. He was on his feet and to Avon and me in a few, long, determined strides.

Avon clung to me, so Blake put his arms around us both, hugging Avon to him. "I haven't left you, Avon. And I won't. I like you. We were just teasing you."

I saw then that it had probably been a favourite game of the children surrounding Avon when he was a child: teasing the intense, desperately lonely boy. Taking his "friends" away, just to see him break down and cry. Blake pulled him from me and held him tightly, vowing life-long loyalty and devotion.

Avon whimpered softly and hugged Blake back. True to their mental ages, the two of them were soon playing and laughing with each other as if nothing had ever happened. But occasionally, Avon would look around furtively, as if expecting someone to take Blake away from him at any moment. I'd like to see someone ever try.

Well, they were all calmer, then. Trouble with caring for this lot Is that they have the stamina of adults and don't tire easily. Trouble number two was that the goop Orac and I had come up with tasted terrible and very little helped to cover it.

"You sure it won't wear off?" I asked Orac.

"No. It is progressing, even now. They will get younger and younger, until they will not be able to care for themselves, at all. Feed it to them immediately or you will soon be changing their nappies."

That was one vision of them I didn't want to have a part in.

I tried ordering them to take the medicine. It worked until Blake spit it out, then took Avon's from him and tossed it away.

"No!" Blake thundered. "You're trying to make us sick," he accused.

It was like something of his torture by the Federation was getting by his seven-year-old mind.

"If I eat it, too, will all of you?"

"Maybe..." Blake muttered, folding his arms and looking awfully stubborn.

The rest of them waited on Blake's decision. He must have been a handful to control when he was a child. He was probably taking command, even then.

I made such a terrible face that they all fell about, giggling and making faces at each other. Then, they refused to eat it.

Now, what was I to do? I couldn't force-feed them.

"Wait, " Orac instructed, "until they are babies. Then, you can get it into them."

"After changing their nappies."

"Do you believe you can possibly hold any of them down long enough to get the proper dosage into them?"

"You know I can't."

"Then, I suggest you sit and wait and entertain them until they are approximately one year old. They will still fight you, but they will also be more inclined to accept your authority."

"We can't leave them like that for long! When will they reach that age?"

"It isn't a question of when will 'they' reach that age. They are all approaching it at different rates. Get Blake to take it and the others will probably follow."

"Okay, okay. So, when will Blake be an infant?"

"In approximately twelve hours."

"Let's hope none of them have to go to potty in the meantime."

"Avon may reach that stage first."

Oh, no.

The wind-down was incredible. I sat and watched the lot of them get younger. They "forgot" how to walk and their speech turned to gibberish. Except Cally. She projected pictures at everyone, which were every bit as good as talking. Maybe better. She seemed to remain more mature than the rest, so I tried to use her to talk with them.

"Come on, Cally. Tell Blake he has to eat this or he'll get a belly ache. All of you will get sick."

Cally glared at me and sent really nasty images, which frightened the rest of them. Now, I had three scared children to contend with.

"Please, Cally. Think nice things!"

She pouted, but her dark images faded. Then, she moved toward Blake on her hands and knees.

I didn't like this job, anymore. Jenna was wrapped around Blake, while Avon was curled into a frightened ball near him, whimpering. And Blake, well, he sat like some kind of pagan idol with a protective arm around them both, then pulled Cally to him. A very compelling man, Blake. I almost felt like curling up near him, under his protective wing, myself. Blake's look was defiant and imperious.

One look at them all told me they were still under Blake's spell. Convince him and they would follow. But Blake can be very stubborn.

"It's up to you and me, Blake, innit?"

Blake got that look on his face, that very stubborn, very dangerous look that usually meant he was going to do something desperate. Now, what's desperate to a seven, er, two-year-old? Defying authority, that's what. I took his head in my hands and laid the facts on the line: "Eat this or get a spanking! And if a spanking doesn't bother you, I'll spank Avon." I was praying that a two-year-old's reflexes weren't as good as mine. But maybe I should have reckoned with an uncoordinated adult's.

He knocked the spoon out of my hand. So, I stopped being reasonable and slapped him, hard, across his face. Now, I would never hit a child in the face; it's demeaning and demoralizing. But where could I hit Blake that he'd even feel it and have it mean business? The effect was startling. He just continued to look at me, while tears welled up and spilled down his cheeks. There was no sound from him, no pouting, not even trembling, just tears slowly running down his face.

I sat in front of him, wondering at this sudden change, and if I'd had to hit him again, I don't think I could have done it. I mean, his face was the adult, but those wide eyes of his were full of child. Then, I put the full spoon to his mouth and slowly, still defiant, he took it and swallowed without even a face. Blake was in his martyr mode. I made him take the entire dose, then went to work on the others, who were glaring balefully at me over Blake's shoulders, but there was no fighting or spitting. They ate slowly, warily, if somewhat messily. Jenna fumed and Cally made more awful pictures, but at me rather than them. Avon tried to duck behind Blake, but Blake grabbed him and pushed him to me. Sort of 'If-I-gotta-eat-this-mess-you-will-too-so-there.'

However, Avon turned and spit it out at Blake. Went eyeball-to-eyeball with him, too. It was never very smart to challenge Blake, at any age. He grabbed Avon, pushed him down and stuffed the spoon into his mouth. Whatever it was Orac and I had kicked up, it seemed to be taking effect on Blake rapidly.

Turning on his very best stone face, Avon stopped fighting and ate. It was painfully obvious that Blake had every intention of continuing to stuff Avon until he was bloated. Or choked to death.

I stopped him in the midst of a coughing fit from Avon. Blake held him and clapped him on the back a few times, then handed Avon the spoon and said, "Eat!" Avon stopped arguing totally and did as told, making exasperated faces and letting out large, weary sighs.

Now, I wait. After the sleeping effect it has, I expect they'll all wake up adults. Or so Orac says.

Anyway, it's going to be very interesting when they do wake: Blake and Avon are presently curled up with each other. Cally, who isn't really sleeping, but dozing with a dark, sullen look, is leaning against them. If they move suddenly, she'll fall over on Jenna, who is curled up near them, chewing her fingers.

Actually, I think I might miss the "children" a little. But I couldn't do this all the time. I prefer real children who you can pick up and hug, who don't pick you up when they hug back.

Well, this log is on vid, as well as audio. I think I may just file it under a voice command code and spring it on Avon when he gets too nasty.

...Well, maybe I'll just threaten him with it. It doesn't pay to embarrass Avon. Come to that, it doesn't pay to threaten him, either.

"Yes, Avon? Why is Blake holding you? Well, uh...don't you remember? Oh, you do. No, don't hit him in the ribs. You know how Blake tends to wake up in a short temper. Yes, he's as surprised as you are and so is Jenna, and so is Cally." I may never live this down. "No, it didn't get to the nappy stage, but it was close. Be nice to him, Blake, some part of him likes you more than you and he may realize. Well, yes, I slapped you, you were spitting out everything! Put me down, Blake! Aw, come on, put me down, please. Be a sport...Blake, Avon, Jenna...NO! Orac! Zen! Help! Come on, guys, grow up!"

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Linda Terrell

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