Refraining from outward emotional displays, at least in public, had become such an ingrained habit for Amanda that she sometimes feared her facial muscles were going to start creaking from disuse like old, rusty door hinges, but the scene before her was simply irresistible, and besides, a simple smile in the blessed privacy of their home wouldn't kill anyone.

She crossed the room on tiptoe, even though she knew full well that the sound of her footsteps and the soft rustling of her clothes must have already reached Sarek's proverbially sharp ears. It was physically impossible for a human to sneak up on a Vulcan, but from time to time, he pretended she could, perhaps with the flimsy excuse that he was too engrossed in his work to pay attention.

Sitting perfectly straight, PADD in hand, her husband seemed, as always, to be demonstrating the best ergonomically sound working posture to an invisible audience. She bent to place a feather-light kiss on his cheek from behind, and it was only then that he gave any sign of having noticed her. He took his eyes off his device – the small screen was showing something about a recent trade agreement, by the sound of it – and silently offered his first two fingers in return. Without missing a beat, Amanda moved to his side and matched the gesture, relishing the spark of complicity that their marital bond only amplified.

"Is there a particular reason for this sudden display of affection?"

"Do I need one?" she said with just a hint of mischief in her voice, thoroughly enjoying the long-suffering look he gave her for answering his question with another question, and a patently illogical one at that. "Very well, then. There's your reason." She pointed at their young son, grinning even wider. "It's such a joy to see him playing, for once."

Sarek stiffened. "You are mistaken. Spock is not playing."

As if on cue, the tottering pile of building blocks fell apart with a clatter under his still clumsy little hands, appearing to choose just that moment to prove him wrong. Spock pouted, but was soon back to stacking the pieces on top of one another with yet more determination.

"Oh? Then how do you define this, exactly?"

"I am allowing him to familiarize with my Keethera. Unbeknownst to him, I am testing his spatial acuity by observing the way he interacts with the set without my input, and I have concluded that it is much too early to begin teaching him to use it properly. Counting this one, he has experienced five similar failures in the last 1.263 hours—a fine way to learn to process the feeling of frustration, perhaps, but also proof that he must gain better hand-eye coordination before I can instruct him on its real purpose."

She sighed. Why did everything have to be a test?

"Spock isn't your lab rat. Take it from me, Sarek, he is playing, or at least he thinks he is, and he's all the happier for it. You should let him do it more often."

"A Keethera is a meditational aid, not a toy. I would not wish for him not to take its use seriously, when he is mature enough for it."

"He'll have plenty of time to take everything in life as seriously as you want him to and then some. For now, though, let him be a kid for a while."

"I fail to see the logic in your last statement. It seems to imply that Spock is an adult when he is engaged in intellectually challenging activities, and reverts to childhood when he is not. Surely you are aware that this is a biological impossibility."

"Biological impossibility or not, he's enjoying it, and it just might be more logical for you to admit it and be done with it. Just look at him. Isn't he adorable?"

"With this, the word 'adorable' has tied with 'cute' as your preferred description of his behaviour."

She laughed, all pretense of control forgotten.

"I can't believe you've been keeping track of that!"

"47 uses each since I decided to start counting, with 'sweet' as a fairly close second, at 36. Forgive me, but I still find the use of taste metaphors somewhat puzzling."

"And just where's the logic in cluttering your ever-efficient brain with all this… stuff?"

"It may be trivial, but it is an integral part of our experience with parenthood, and I intend to cherish it. Besides, you seem to take pleasure in my statistical observations, provided that I do not exceed in sharing them to the point of boring you."

"You and your numbers. If Spock grows up to do that too, I'll know who to blame."

"A natural proclivity for mathematics is not—"

"Oh, please. You know perfectly well what I mean."

She silenced him with a very human-style kiss, and that was that.