. . .
James stood up and approached Lullaby in her new enclosure. The mare was beaming with joy, ecstatic at her new enclosure, not only for her babies, but also for herself. The old cage was fairly small, barely being big enough for her to move around in. But being a frugal guy, he simply didn’t want to spend more money on equipment until he needed it.
“tank ‘ou fow bestes’ nyu nestie, daddeh! nestie am su big! gib’ wuwwaby heawt-happies!”
“You’ve been a good mommy, Lullaby, you’ve earned it. Besides, the foals will need some space to play in.”
“babbehs gon’ be su happies fow nyu toysies, tuu! am bestes’ daddeh! wuv 'ou!”
James bent over to scratch Lullaby behind her ear, elicting the regular coos in response. He took a few moments to analyze the kids, whose manes have developed fully by now, with some of the foals growing thicker hair, slightly altering their perceived colors. Most notably, Alpha’s had darkened a bit more. Delta’s white fur had gentle shades of caramel mixed in, much like her mane.
Speaking of, their tender moment was joyfully cut short by a surprise happenstance.
"cheep… mummah! cheep! "
It turned out that Delta had been the first baby to open her eyes and start talking. Lullaby turned to her new “talky-baby” and immediately began showering her in praise.
“mummah am hewe, babbeh! wuwwaby am su pwoud ob nyu tawkie-babbeh!”
The young filly struggled with her surroundings at first, the brightness of the room overwhelmed her a little, having seen light for the first time in her short life. Her little eyes darted across the room, observing everything with infantile wonder, her gaze stopping short when her eyes met James.
"cheep… d-daddeh? cheep "
James heart skipped a beat. It certainly wasn’t his first time seeing a baby talk, but it was the first time he’d seen a foal open its eyes and immediately recognize him as “daddy”. The previous foals usually struggled a bit with the concept of differentiating between human and fluffy, and were a little scared at his presence, but Delta seemed much different. Could this have anything to do with her being born an alicorn?
He thought back to when he’d adopted Rosemary, while he didn’t get to know her until she’d already been talking, she quickly formed a trust toward him. It was much quicker than the bond he had to build with Coffee, though back then he’d simply dismissed it as a coincidence.
“That’s right, I’m your daddy. And do you know what else? You’re going to be getting a name, now that you can talk.”
“babbeh can hab namesie? ‘ou heaw dat babbeh? daddeh gon’ gib 'ou namesie! wuwwaby am su happie fow babbeh!”
"… nyu namesie? cheep "
“Your new name’s going to be Delta.”
“cheep… dewta wub’ nyu namesie… cheep… wub’ daddeh…”
All that chatter had brought out the vocal chords out of her sibling, Beta, who immediately voiced his thoughts.
"cheep… mummah! wan’ miwkies! cheep "
His mother had been lying on her belly, snuggling with Delta, and therefore covered her milk-places. Lullaby, on the other hand, could barely contain her happiness, having been witness to two of her babies starting to speak so quickly after one another, and promptly sat back up, allowing the young colt access to her teats.
“su sowwy, babbeh, mummah gib’ ‘ou miwkies nao! but ‘ou am tawkie-babbeh nao! wuwwaby hab’ bigges’ heawt-happies!”
Beta didn’t even respond, he simply latched himself onto her teats and started suckling greedily, closing his eyes right back after having opened them. Immediately James could tell the inherent difference in character between the two siblings.
"cheep… miwkies? cheep… babbeh wan’ miwkies… cheep "
Immediately after having heard the promise of milk, Alpha followed his brothers example and demanded to be fed much the same. His mother wasted no time to care for his well-being.
“babbeh am also tawkie-babbeh nao! awmos’ aww babbeh nao tawkies! cum tu mummah babbeh, hab’ miwkies fow babbeh!”
Both Alpha and Beta were happily sucking away at Lullaby’s teats, when Gamma approached her mother, chirping at her. Lullaby, however, was too enamored with her new talkie-babies to notice Gamma’s pleas, and promptly ignored the filly.
“mummah wuv babbehs, babbehs wuv mummah, dwink wots of miwkies fow gwow big an’ stwong~”
"cheep! cheep! "
Somehow the new sensation of hearing her babies talk rendered Lullaby deaf toward chirping noises, instead rather attending to the colts who were speaking to her at her teats.
"cheep… wub’ miwkies… cheep "
"… babbeh wan’ huggies, mummah! cheep… "
"cheep… cheep cheep… "
“wuwwaby gib’ babbeh bestes’ huggies an’ wuv!”
The mare put her hoofs around Alpha, pulling him up and holding him close to her chest, humming the mummah song to him. Beta kept drinking milk, while Gamma’s struggled toward the now newly opened spot at her teats.
"… cheep… huggies, daddeh! cheep… "
Seemingly aware of her own mother being preoccupied with her brothers, Delta instead focused her attention on James, making an “upsies” pose toward him. James, until now, had simply observed the entire spectacle unfolding in front of him. It’s only been a few minutes and he could already tell that every fluffy behaved wildly different.
He’d planned on naming all of the foals as they started talking, but became too engrossed watching them. Delta’s pleas had snapped him out of his trance, so he decided it was time to name the rest of them. He scooped up the filly, giving her a few gently pets as she nuzzled into his palm, and addressed the rest of her siblings.
“Alright, listen up. I’m going to be naming all of you, so pay attention, okay?”
“daddeh gib’ namesies to oda babbehs?”
"That’s right. I’ll start with the foal you’re holding right now, your new name will be Alpha.
"awfa wub’ nyu namesie… cheep "
“Next, the little green baby, your name will be Beta.”
"cheep… beta… wub’ namesie… cheep "
“And last but not least, the red filly. Your name is Gamma.”
“cheep… cheep… gamma wub’ nyu namesie…”
The apparent excitement at getting a name had been enough to jolt the little filly’s vocal chords into action. Her eyes still remained shut, which wasn’t entirely unusual with foals, though most usually learned speech when opening their eyes, some learned to speak first, others simply opened their eyes with no words.
James had recently found out that it was apparently rare for females to end up as unicorns, and the same could be said about male pegasi. Little to nothing was known about female smarties, so perhaps Gamma could shed some light on the topic.
“heaw dat babbehs? ‘ou aww hab’ namesies nao! bestes’ namesies fow bestes babbehs!”
James cringed a bit at the usage of the phrase “bestest babies”. Granted, Lullaby was using the plural for it, and referred to all of her babies, but such a concept was foreign to young foals, and all that arrived in their cerebral cortex was “I am bestest baby”.
“cheep… wub’ mummah…”
With the entire litter being able to talk now, James was certain things were about to become a lot more interesting. He’d already gotten a taste at how each of them acted, and once they grew a bit older, they’d no doubt form habits of interacting with each other, and the prospect of this excited James.
He put the white and caramel filly back down into the enclosure, and prepared himself to check up on Coffee, though ensured to explain it thoroughly to the fluffies, lest they felt abandoned immediately afterwards. He didn’t want them to grow too attached to him, but he didn’t want to stunt their mental development either.
Flicking on the switch in the side chamber, James was greeted by a very joyful sounding Coffee.
“gud bwite time, daddeh!”
"cheep … bwite! scawy! cheep "
“it am otay, epsiwon, bwite nu am scawy”
Turns out, Epsilon hadn’t waited on James to start talking. Moreover, the stallion had already relayed his name to the colt. It didn’t matter much to James, if anything, he hoped it would help the two of them bond together.
“Hey guys, everything going well?”
“yus, epsiwon am gud babbeh! make gud’ poopies aww on his own!”
“Wow, very good Epsilon.”
“cheep… e-epsiwon… am gud babbeh…?”
“Yup, sure seems that way.”
James went through the usual motions, cleaning the litterbox, refilling the bowl with kibble and poured some more formula into the milk-bottle. Epsilon started waddling toward the bottle, whilst Coffee began nibbling his food.
The whole procedure had become a bit of a ritual. Even before his eyes had opened, the young colt had been very quick to figure out that once James arrived, there would be new, fresh milk waiting for him. By day five his father no longer needed to carry him over, since he’d gotten a hang of it.
“tank 'ou fow nummies, daddeh.”
This was a habit Coffee had picked up. Previously, he’d never thanked him for food, he mostly just began chowing down and sobbed quietly. James figured it all had to do with Epsilon, the parenthood had been a serious boon to the development of the former smarty, to the point where James began feeling bad for having cut his legs off.
Not that he should, of course, because that was one of the reasons his behavior improved. James doubted the old Coffee would be politely thanking him for food, kibble no less, after having been awarded the honor of fathering a child. Smarties tended to become especially entitled when their children were involved, and since both of them were of brown coloration, James had no doubt that Epsilon would’ve been his “bestest baby”.
“No problem, buddy.”
He had grown used to referring to him in a more casual way again, because more and more he began seeing his old Coffee in the legless fluffy. He’d been playing with the idea of prosthetics, he’d heard murmurs of a new, relatively affordable way to reintroduce fluffies to a new set of legs. If Coffee would continue to behave, he could very well see himself splurge on a set, though he’d want to talk to Rosemary first.
“cheep… wub’ miwkies… wub’ daddeh… cheep…”
He wasn’t sure how to talk to her about Coffee, however. It was such an awkward topic to broach, and the stallion had inflicted such a horrendous wound on her. Rosemary was a very kind soul, so there’s a chance she might have forgiven him by now, but he didn’t want to induce trauma, so he simply never spoke of the male fluffy.
“daddeh am goin’ back tu workies nao?”
“… You know what, I can stay a little longer, if you’d like.”
The biggest smile crept up on Coffee’s face, James could immediately tell that the poor stallion was starved for affection, so a few mere moments of time he could spend with his daddy would make him incredibly happy.
“weawwy?! daddeh gun’ stay wid coffee an’ babbeh?”
“Yeah, sure, why not.”
James opened a drawer on the table and scanned its contents. There was a lot of useless junk that hadn’t seen use in years, but in the corner he spied a small multi-colored marble. He figured it would do for a toy.
“Here, you wanna play with this ball, Epsilon?”
He put the spherical object into the cage, right next to the little colt. It was a little heavy, but it should be possible for him to push around.
“cheep… baww… e-epsiwon… wan pway… cheep…”
The foal eagerly pushed his weight against the ball, which began slowly rolling forward, bouncing of the cage wall and continued its momentum through the cage.
“hehe… babbeh wuv bawwsies an’ coffee wuv see babbeh pway!”
The two were having the time of their lives by just having a small marble roll around the cage. Epsilon pushed the marble onward every time it came to a stop, all the way around Coffee, circling him several times over the next couple minutes.
“I know your cage is a little small, I’ll grab you guys something a little bigger, I hope it’ll do for now.”
“cheep… e-epsiwon… wub’ baww…”
After having spent some quality time with the both of them, James figured it was time to check up on the other babies again. No doubt they’d have discovered their toys by now and were playing themselves, and he wanted to make sure none of them hurt themselves in the process.
“Okay you two, I’ll leave the ball inside for now, make sure Epsilon doesn’t get hurt, alright?”
“yus, hehe, coffee make suwe”
He wasn’t really listening, too entranced by his child playing ball, so he didn’t stop to ask how he was going to make sure he wouldn’t get hurt either. Not that James had an answer, which made him glad that the stallion hadn’t asked.
With all that said and done, James left the chamber again.