"Ni'rih," Shayera said confidently. "Those first spoken words will be all about me."
"You don't know that," John said, dropping a kiss onto the girl's head as she gave out a small laugh. "Right, Emma? You are going to say Daddy first. Right? Daddy. Daddy."
Shayera frowned and held out her hands. "Hand her over."
"You are attempting to sway her, John. That isn't fair."
John chuckled, keeping his hold on his daughter. "She's eleven months old, Shay. I doubt I am capable of swaying her."
"Don't try to settle me into a false sense of comfort. I know you're some sort of baby whisperer. Don't forget you were the first one to make her eat those mashed peas."
"I have a confession to make," He said. "I never actually fed her those. I just opened up a different jar."
"Some people just don't like peas. I don't like peas."
"Something you have in common," Shayera intoned. "See, you're already bonding your way to her first word."
"I want a fair competition," She clarified. "Now, hand her over."
He didn't know if he should find her fierce competition over Emma's first words endearing but it didn't stop him from feeling that way. He had wondered if motherhood would soften her and he had to admit he was happy to see that it hadn't, not entirely that is. He saw a softer side when she was with Emma but in most ways things hadn't changed. Same bottomless drive. Same wicked sense of humor. Same Shayera.
He passed Emma over to her, watching the way her lips curled into a smile as she began talking to their daughter. He laughed as she said, "Your father is being a bad influence by attempting to sway your affections but I will not let him."
"You cannot sway an infant's affections," He argued lightly.
"Oh please, a baby's affection is determined by who has the exciting keys or stuffed animal."
John grinned and picked the plastic keys up from the ground, dangling them in front of Emma who laughed in excitement. Shayera scowled and instructed him, "Put them down, John!"
Returning them to the table, John quipped, "Yes, Mother."
Shayera smiled a bit and dropped her mouth to Emma's ear as she murmured, "See, Emma baby, your Daddy listens to me. He listens to your Ni'rih. Got it? He listens to Ni'rih."
John's eyes widened before exclaiming, "You're doing the same exact thing!"
Emma wrapped one hand around Shayera's thumb as she answered, "I am most certainly not."
"We need to call a truce on this competition," John said with mock seriousness. "Just let the kid say what she wants."
"She wants to say Ni'rih. She came out of me."
"I played a role too, you know."
"Yes but a broken hand doesn't measure up to dealing with nineteen hours of nonstop, excruciating pain."
As her mother and father playfully bickered, Emma gazed up at them, glancing from one parent to another. Back and forth, back and forth.
"You just want a truce because you know you can't win," Shayera said.
"You're not going to win this fight Shay."
"Oh don't you worry John, I'm going to win this fight."
Softly, the baby on her knee mumbled, "Fight."
Both parents were silent until Shayera finally stammered, "Did...did she just do what I think she did?"
John grinned. Yup, his daughter uttered her first word. And the first word was-
"Her first word was fight?" Shayera said in disbelief.
John laughed, gently ruffling the little girl's hair. When he looked up at Shayera he said, "First word is fight huh? She really is your daughter."