"Explain once more why this is necessary?" Saavik asked.
Uhura popped up from behind the camera. Well, maybe not popped. She wasn't as young as she used to be -- and that had been true for a lot longer than she wanted to admit. It was a long time since her corona of silver hair had been black. "It's not necessary. It's nice. When was the last time you did this?"
Spock flicked up an eyebrow. "The last time we had to take the camera away from Doctor McCoy."
Uhura buried her grin behind the tripod stand. Her flowing dress of white, black, and tan swirled around her feet. "I heard about that. You know, this is a really nice camera. This is something professionals use."
He raised the remaining eyebrow to join the other. "May I also remind you that it was a gift from me to Saavik. And yet, it is constantly commandeered by both you and the doctor."
Saavik interrupted, "You manage to take time from being in command of Starfleet Intelligence. And this is sincerely what you wish to do with your leave?"
"It won't take all of my leave, only a few minutes. If you're not going to do it for yourselves, then do it for all the children's Mekh-rás. We decided it was time for a new photo of the kids."
Spock and Saavik exchanged a look. She was the one to answer. "I find that statement questionable. However, the thought is a good one."
He moved to the house. "I will get the children."
"Wonderful!" Uhura exclaimed. "And thank you for remembering not to wear uniforms or your ambassador robes. Besides, it's in the garden," she said as Spock came back with the 3 kids in tow. "You love the garden."
Setik came up to her in the ShiKahr style boy's outfit in blue and gray she had gotten him. She liked how it set off his blue eyes. And being his Ko-mekh-rá, his guardian -- really one of the two role models he had for his human side -- had its advantages, like spoiling him rotten, and then giving him back to his parents.
They had a mental link, traditional for a Mekh-rá and her sa-fu-tél. She leaned down so their foreheads touched and then dropped a kiss on top of the dark hair. "Off you go," and she nodded in Saavik's direction. Setik definitely put Mama at the center of his universe.
The two-year-old identical twins, T'Kel and T'Pren, had rudimentary mental and emotional controls at this age, so Uhura was careful in greeting them, deciding not to do as much as she had with Setik in case it overwhelmed them.
She called over to Saavik and Spock, "Could you move that one bench over here? Line it up with the end facing me. Kids, wait!"
Three young Vulcans dashed to the stone bench in the rose bush alcove. Four year old Setik picked up one end and the girls picked the other. Or at least they tried. Their father put in a hand to take most of the burden on himself, but noted the children's effort at being of service.
Setik might be her 'godson', as Leonard McCoy put it, but Uhura loved all three children and noticed: It's such a cliché, but they're getting big so fast!
"All right," she peered through the lens again and loved the mixture of Terran and Vulcan plants in the background. Not to mention, ones from other worlds peeking out here and there. "Now, everyone straddle the bench, so you're facing me. In reverse order of age."
"All of this for a photo?" Saavik questioned. "Spock and I discussed hiring a painter to do a portrait of the family. If we're going through such effort, perhaps we should do a painting instead."
"Or," Uhura mentioned offhand, "Leonard arrives tomorrow. He could take this, he'd be happy to."
Saavik nearly shook her head at what that would be like. "Children," she ordered.
They lined up.
"Besides," Uhura added, "wait to get a painting done when the kids are older. Something formal will be better then."
Age order put T'Pren first, her dark hair swaying around her white collar and its black piping. T'Kel obviously sat behind her, her black eyes curious over the whole thing, and her hair cut short except for her bangs. Setik sat behind them, not tall enough to be seen clearly over his sisters. I'll have to do something about that. Saavik was behind him and Spock behind her.
"Girls," Uhura began.
They didn't pay attention because they huddled together, then whispered to their older brother. Uhura thought she heard T'Kel insist, "True, Tenu't?"
Tenu't meant blue and T'Kel started calling him that when she was a toddler. She had thought her mother meant it as his name, when Saavik was actually pointing out his blue eyes. Her parents said she could use the nickname for her brother.
Leonard McCoy calling T'Kel, "Hellcat," on the other hand...
"Wait," T'Pren announced and ran back in the house.
Uhura could see the countdown going on in Spock and Saavik's heads on how long the children had before needing to explain why they ran off on her. T'Pren apparently came in under the wire, but she surprisingly led the honey colored sehlat McCoy and Nyota had gotten for baby Setik on his Naming Day.
"Why did you bring Ko-Kan?" Uhura asked.
For any Vulcan child, the semi-sentient large beasts represented a sense of security, warmth, and -- as McCoy discovered over several heart attacks -- discipline. T'Kel had once gone so far that Ko-Kan had to carefully grab her head in those sharp-tooth jaws and lead her away from the computer she was taking apart.
Which McCoy had called, "Good God, the damn bear tried to eat her!"
While Perrin had screamed at the sight.
Vulcan children feared no sehlat, but they certainly, as Amanda had put it long ago, were very fond of and respected their pets/guardians. So T'Pren calmly ordered Ko-Kan to lay at the foot of the bench.
"Contrast," T'Pren explained. "She is different. Her color and being a sehlat. See?"
"And our pet," T'Kel added, although looking as if it didn't need explaining. That got her a tap on the shoulder from her mother for rudeness.
Uhura ducked behind the camera one more time to grin. One girl certainly had her father and grandfather's gift for speech. T'Kel... well, T'Kel was Saavik all over again.
"You were right. Ko-Kan looks wonderful. Now, girls, I just need you to lean out a bit in different directions so I can see your brother. Oh! Saavik, Spock, could you reach out and hold the kids as much as possible?"
"Are we going to fall?" Setik asked.
"No, it's just a nice family touch." And it puts Spock's arms around Saavik's sides. Which they let her know with a look that she didn't fool either of them by saying it was for the children. They might have done it anyway if asked. It was in the privacy of the house, and Uhura who asked for it after all.
Uhura smiled now. "The pose is perfect! Ready?"
She hit the camera control and it quickly took the shot. It then lifted from the tripod and flew in a circle around the family. They obediently followed it as it took them from every angle, so when the holopic was played, the initial forward shot would turn into the video of them together. It then landed on its tripod again.
"Let me just check this," Uhura said and ran through the whole thing, zooming in and out to see if she liked it. A slight noise made her glance up from the top of her eyes.
T'Pren had slipped down to sit on Ko-Kan. She looked up at her sister who leaned forward on her hands to look back at her. They were mirror twins: T'Kel was left handed, T'Pren right handed. Their natural hair parts were on opposite sides. Right now, the way they faced each other, they were mirror images of the other, with only T'Kel's shorter hair length being a real difference. They most likely were talking telepathically to each other. Vulcan identical twins did not need to touch to speak mind to mind.
Setik, at his wise age of four, watched his sisters, amused. And the thing that made Uhura hold her breath:
Spock and Saavik thought no one watched them in this moment. So his arms slipped around to cup her waist and she leaned back against him. The deep red of her dress made even more beautiful framed by the soft, dove gray of his tunic. He looked down into her face while she closed her eyes, her expression at peace and soft, as she laid her arms on his. Together for the first time in months.
Uhura kept very still except for gently hitting the camera button. She kept it to the single shot instead of it taking off in flight. What she got, she already cherished.
When she looked up this time, Saavik and Spock were watching her, suspecting what happened. But Uhura knew if they actually felt she crossed a line, they'd say something. And delete the picture. Eyebrows went up on the couple and she smiled brilliantly. She knew they both imagined the comment Leonard McCoy would make; the kind that got him bounced from the camera the last time. Actually, each time. He'd brag about it though.
"This looks lovely," she called. It brought the three children over to see the posed photo. She showed it to everybody and then sent off copies to the other 'godparents' such as McCoy, Sulu, Rrelthiz, and Ruanek. She said she'd break down the tripod and put the bench away. The kids insisted on doing that themselves -- with Mother's help this time.
Uhura looked down at the other photo. Leonard McCoy was going to love it. It'd go right into the contraband folder with the other pictures like it, for their eyes only.