"Four is big" Nikki confirms smilingly nodding.
"How old are you?" asks Tia.
"Well I am older than you" replies Nikki. At her answer Tia starts thinking and smilingly Nikki asks her what she is thinking. "My Abinamyu Daddy.....he is big too.....very big....that is why he is my daddy.....are you Mommy too?" she asks innocently and Nikki is taken aback at such a direct question. "Ummm ....no....I am not a Mommy." She replies, "Yet" she thinks in her heart.
"Oh" Tia looks crestfallen at her answer. "What happened.....why are you sad?" asks Nikki concerned.
"I can't play....you have no babies." She points out to Nikki, who can't help but laugh at the four year olds logic.
"You can play with me" she offers.
"No....you are daddy's friend" Tia replied and a sad smile clouds Nikki's face. *Your daddy doesn't want to be friends with me. I wish he would forgive me*. Snapping out of her thoughts, she looks in Tia's credulous eyes and sighs. "So, you want to play with big girls like yourself right?" she asks tweaking Tia's nose and gets a nod in return. "Ok in Sanjeevani we have a daycare and there are a lot of children there. So when your Daddy comes, he can take you there. Ok?" she solves Tia's problem of friends.
Tia nods excitedly and Nikki asks her where her father is to which she replies that he got a call and stepped out to answer it. Nikki doesn't understand whether to wait for Abhi or leave to attend her duties. *Either way the Sadu is going to get mad* While she is thinks, Tia goes back to watching her cartoons and starts playing with the laptop. Accidentally she hits the escape key and the cartoon becomes small. "Daddy....Daddy " she starts calling for Abhi and fidgets to get out of the chair but the laptop is heavy for her to get off of her.
Nikki snaps out of her reverie at the little girl's cries and asks her what the matter is. Nikki lifts the laptop off her lap and tells her that she can fix it for her and does so which brings a small smile on the little one's face, who by this time had jumped down from the chair and was prancing around Nikki.
"Tia....why don't you sit back and watch your cartoon" suggests Nikki to the little girl who is dancing around her.
"No.....I wants Daddy" she says. Nikki smiles at her and tells her that her daddy will back soon; she should just wait a little. "No ....No....I wants Daddy now." She says urgently, jumping up and down.
"Kya hua Tia?" she asks at the sudden change in the child's behavior.
"Bathroom....I wanna go bathroom" she says in her American twang.
"Oh Ok......I can take you" Nikki gets up smiling and asks the little to take her hand and as they take a few steps, Abhimanyu enters the cabin and stops dead at the sight of his beloved daughter's hand in Nikki's. As soon as she sees Abhi, Tia rushes to him and hugs his leg. "Daddy" she smiles up at him. Abhi bends towards her with a warm smile on his face and picks her up. She lovingly encircles his neck and lays her head on his shoulder, kissing his neck. She laughs happily when Abhi acts as if her kiss tickled him.
"Where was my princess going?" he asks her lovingly and shoots an angry look at Nikki with a question in his eyes.
All this while, Nikki watches in fascination the interaction between the father and daughter. Seeing the precious way he treats his daughter, her respect for Abhimanyu increases and her heart aches to be the part of the perfect picture these two make. At Abhi's glare, Nikki shakes her head and starts to speak when Tia answers his question. "Bathroom.....Nikki said she will take me....Daddy I wannna go bathroom" she lilts and answers for Nikki.
"Okay Tiu....we will go...ok...but I have told you not to talk to strangers na." he rebukes her gently and she nods solemnly. Nikki colors at his insinuation. "Daddy she is your friend and she told me her name and she is very pretty" Tia answers his rebuke in her logic which elicits a small smile from Nikki who is uncomfortable at Abhimanyu's open dislike of her.
Sighing and shaking his head at his daughter he looks daggers at Nikki, "What are you doing here Dr. Nikita?" he asks crisply.
"You called me Dr. Modi" she retorts.
"Bathroom" an urgent voice interrupts their cold exchange.
Abhi heads towards the restroom in his cabin and takes Tia inside. Standing in his office, Nikki shakes her head in disbelief watching Abhimanyu in a father's role. She laughs softly at the sound of Abhi reasoning with Tia inside and her heart fills with love for the both of them. At that moment she understands that if she ever wants to share a life with Abhi, her heart would have to encompass his little princess, who had started making headway already in that direction.
Tia rushes out of the restroom towards Nikki and asks her to take her to friends. "Tia, come here right now. Wash your hands" Abhi calls at her in a mock stern tone.
"Tia.....Daddy is calling, go wash your hands and then we can go to friends ok." Nikki sends the little girl back.
Abhi and Tia walk out hand in hand. He looks at Tia and tells her that she can watch her cartoons while he works here. "No, I wanna go to friends" she insists.
"There are no friends here baby. In the evening I will take you out ......For ice-cream.....so please watch your cartoons." He tries to reason with Tia.
"Nooo.....Nikki said there are friends and we could go when you came back. I wanna go." She stomps he foot.
Abhimanyu looks at Nikki questioningly. "What stories have you told my daughter now Dr. Nikita?" he asks her with a raised eyebrow.
"Dr. Modi......I mentioned about our day care.....she can play with the other kids and you can work in peace" replies Nikki with a sugar laced voice.
Relief washes over his features but his look remains stern towards Nikki. "Yeah.....I knew'" Nikki raises an eyebrow. "Well thank you Dr. Nikita for reminding me.....Tia can play there." He says a little more civilly. Hearing his assent Tia starts dragging Abhi's hand "Go....Go" she says.
"Tia behave.....we are going. Dr. Nikita you please go back to your duties." He instructs Nikki at the same time controlling his fidgety daughter.
"Bye Tia" Nikki waves at her as she leaves and gets a big wave back in response. Smiling, she walks out of his cabin to resume her duties while Abhi takes his excited daughter to make new friends.
During her break, Nikki goes to the daycare to see if Tia is coping well and spots her playing with a few kids. She watches her quietly for a few moments and when Tia notices her presence, she comes rushing to her and tells her to look at the drawings they have been making. She introduces Nikki to her friends and tells them that she is her Daddy's friend and also her friend.
Nikki takes a look at Tia's drawing and sees that she has made a house, a sun, a lady, a small child and two men. She asks her what is what in the drawing." My house, sun, my mommy, my daddy and my daddy" explains Tia pointing at each figure.
"Two Daddies?" asks Nikki
"Yes. Jai Daddy and Abinamyu Daddy"she replies.
"Okay....where is Jai daddy?" Nikki asks.
" My Mommy and Daddy are with God ....but I have Abinamyu Daddy to love me.....God gave me Abinamyu Daddy" she answers Nikki's question with a hint of sadness. Nikki's eyes well up with tears and she hugs Tia. Tia hugs her back but when she sees Nikki crying she wipes her tears and tells her not to be sad as her new Daddy loves her very much and he used to love her when she was sad too. "My Daddy will love you too if he sees you sad."Tia explains to Nikki about how she was ready to share her Daddy with her if it makes her feel better. Nikki can't help but laugh at Tia's naivety and plays with the children awhile before resuming her duties.
Later in the day she gets a pager from Abhimanyu asking to meet her in his cabin. She walks in to find a very agitated Abhimanyu rifling through the files on his desk. He turns at her knock and when she stands in front of him he asks irritatedly "Where is my New Sanjeevani file?"
"Excuse me.....how would I know?" she replies.
"Nikita .....don't test my patience OK.....just tell me......I need to get some work done" he asks rifling his hand though his hair.
"Abhi.....what do you mean?....How am I supposed to know where your file is?" She asks him calmly
Coming closer to her and taking a deep breath to control his temper he slowly says, "Dr. Nikita....Sister Lovely told me that you arranged my files.....that is the reason I am asking."
Nikki's hand flies to her mouth and she remembers that she was supposed to sort Abhi's files and instead she had spent her time looking at Tia's file.
"What.....you did not arrange them?....You can't be serious......what did you do here?" he asks his temper rising again.
"A....Abhi....I ....ummm.....I got a phone call....so was not able to complete it" she lies avoiding his eyes
"Excellent.....one thing....one thing you are being depended on and the best excuse you can come up with is a phone call" he starts pacing angrily.
"A....Abhi.....ummm......I can help you now.....am sorry" she says softly unsure how he would react.
He stops in mid stride at her response and turns angrily at her coming close. Nikita takes a step back at his sudden closeness and falls on the chair. Before she can get up, Abhimanyu puts both his hands on both the arms of the chair and traps her.
"Sorry.....really Nikita?....sorry for not doing my work.....sorry for not being responsible......sorry for not being able to stand up for myself .....sorry for this .....sorry for that......do you think sorry solves anything?" he snarls.
"A....Abhi.....I mean Abinamyu sorry ......Abhimanyu.....Dr. Abhimanyu.....I got a little busy....won't happen again." She fumbles, his closeness bothering her. She tries to get up indicating by her actions for him to move away but he doesn't heed to them.
"Busy.....with a phone call......during working hours.....how callous....oh yea ......I remember now.....I called you in the morning because of this attitude of yours.....you deserve to be kicked out." His face coming a little closer to hers.
Nikki closes her eyes and prays for control, when she opens them she finds Abhimanyu staring at her and she leans back but is restricted by the chair. "Dr. Modi....... I ....I.....promise.....please Abhi....s....stop" her voice chokes at his closeness.
"Stop what?" he whispers and slowly his face bends towards hers.
"A....bhi.." her voice is cut by his lips on hers. He kisses her softly and suddenly straightens up moving away from her.
"Sorry.....am....darn it......Sorry Nikita....I didn't mean for this to happen." He runs his hand through his hair.
A dazed Nikki lifts her hands to her lips unable to believe at what just happened.
"Daddy......you kissed your friend......you like her." says Tia from the doorway and both Abhi and Nikki look at each other in shock.