Disclaimer: Don't own 'em, never will.

Author's Note: I'm not sure why I'm on such a Myst kick lately. I present yet another one-shot featuring Atrus and Yeesha (though one day I will write something with Katran in a more prominent role, I promise!).

A Teaching Opportunity

"It's not growing."

I look up from my writing, as always momentarily disoriented as I shake entire worlds from my head to focus on my daughter. She stands there in the doorway, mouth quivering dangerously. I rarely see Yeesha close to tears – normally she is a self-possessed child, even at five-years-old, and too full of pride to allow anyone else to see weakness.

"What isn't growing, little one?" Pushing back from my desk, I hold out one arm, still trying to decipher what she meant by her statement. Yeesha frowns slightly at my disorientation, but she is as used to my stupid questions as she is to ink on my hands and odd working hours. She steps forward into my embrace.

"The beans."

I remember in a flash. It had only been yesterday that we had given Yeesha beans to grow – lima beans, so simple that any child could grow them. She had been begging for weeks to start her own experiments, and so (much to Catherine's amusement), we had created a space for her in the laboratory. Three small pots, each containing a scattering of lima bean seeds, nestled under a miniature greenhouse of my own design.

"Of course they're not."

Yeesha frowns, taking this automatically as a challenge – something that I should have expected, given how strong her personality had always been.

"Not yet, anyway." I add quickly. Arguing with Yeesha is never fun, because her five-year-old logic is not quite developed. Her reasons usually involve one-word responses ("because" and "why?"). "They need time to grow. You weren't like this a day after you were a baby." I touch her nose, not mentioning that it certainly seemed that way to me anyway. When had she gotten so big?

"Why can't we Write them big?"

I frown. "That's not – "

"You write worlds 'n' everything."

"Yeesha, let me explain." I pull her onto my lap, holding her so that she can see into my eyes. Her eyes, dark and round, are so like Catherine's that I hold back a smile. "You know that we don't make worlds, right? We only write bridges to them." I try to keep my words as simple as possible because this – this lesson – is one of the most important ones that she will ever hope to learn if she becomes a Writer.

It was a lesson that I had never impressed on Sirrus and Achenar, not really.

Her eyebrows have creased in that pondering manner she has.

"Remember the story of how Mama and I met?" I nudge her side. "I didn't create Mama. I made the bridge that let me get to her." I don't remind her of her grandfather; that is the object of another day's discussion. "Just like I can't make lima beans. You can't create something out of nothing."

"Cassie pulled something out of my ear."

Curse that girl and her magic tricks.

"That was only playing, little one. The – what did she pull from your ear?"

"A coin."

I mentally sigh in relief, grateful that she hadn't pulled a bird from Yeesha's ear and traumatized her. "Yes. She didn't make the coin. It was already in her hand."

More brow-furrowing ensues.

"Do you understand?"

She shakes her head minutely, nodding, and slips from my lap. As always, I am curious to know exactly what is flicking through her mind, and as always, Yeesha gives me no hint. Her mouth moves silently, as though working a complex mathematics problem out. It wouldn't surprise me.

"And Yeesha?" The child looks around at me, wearing the same dazed expression that I'm sure I wore only moments earlier. "You don't have to watch the plants so closely. There is dirt on your nose."

One small hand flies up to cover her nose, wounded pride taking the place of contemplation, and Yeesha turns and flies out of my study. I smile to myself, remember days when there had been dirt on my own nose, and turn back to my script.

Lima beans, I grumble mentally. I need to add lima beans to this ecosystem for it to work.