|If I Loved You
Author: Javanyet PM
Episode 4 in the 'Standards' series. Thoughts of Miles and Keiko's upcoming wedding have Data revisiting memories and considering possibilities. Meanwhile Leo questions her longheld beliefs. Complete. The story, not the series! Much more to come.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Romance - Data - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,174 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 10-19-06 - Published: 10-09-06 - Status: Complete - id: 3190861
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
if I loved you
time and again I would try to say
all I'd want you to know...
Data was distracted from his work as Leo rolled over in her sleep and laid her head against his hip, one hand falling against his knee. It was a variation on an oft-repeated theme on the many nights he would sit up in bed processing hundreds of scientific logs and collected data from the Enterprise's endless ongoing research projects as Leo lay sleeping next to him. Since she'd moved into his quarters he had accommodated her presence with a wider and more comfortable bed, and other things that had of course never been necessary for his own comfort. A small cushy sofa and two armchairs, plus another work unit for her computer station had turned his quarters from something of a work-and-waiting area (and an occasional poker parlor) into a home. Leo had brought so little with her to the 24th century that finding room for her books and few other keepsakes was quite easy. Her primitive cd's had already been downloaded into the ship's computer and aside from her beloved tiger striped pajamas – Data had replicated three more sets for her though she still clung resolutely to the originals – there was little else to make room for. It had been an odd but not unpleasant adjustment to have someone sharing his living space, someone to talk to who could actually talk back rather than meow and purr. Though Data did discover that Leo occasionally indulged in the latter when provided with sufficient stimulus, much to Spot's obvious chagrin.
Leo murmured again quietly and her head pressed a little closer against him. Upon checking his internal chronometer Data recognized it was nearly 3am. Though his positronic capabilities allowed him to process digital information at stunning speed, the sheer volume and varied detail of the information in the ship's scientific logs sometimes demanded a bit more attention and analysis. He had been working on this batch for some time now, and decided the rest could wait. After disconnecting the dataport device and replacing his scalp plate Data stretched out next to Leo and, careful not to wake her, slipped his arms around her. She snuggled closer against him, settling her head in the hollow of his shoulder, this time not making a sound. He was attuned enough to her physical signals of heartbeat, pulse and respiration to know this was not one of the times when she was inviting more intimate interaction, so Data simply held her as he set about his usual habit of running light fingers here and there to enjoy her physical presence. He never tired of these delicate explorations, memorizing her substance in every way imaginable as this texture was paired with that response. It was something he welcomed as much as Leo did his more passionate attentions. When they made love her physical responses made him that much more eager to give her pleasure so he could experience the changes in temperature and movement, the variety and volume of the sounds she made allowing him to gauge his ability to make her feel in a physical sense what he could not find the analog for in human emotion.
Keiko and Miles were due to be married the day after tomorrow, now that Data's awkward efforts as go-between had managed to sort out all the miscommunications he'd been prey to. Though he'd been glad to help his friends, of course, he was puzzled why they chose him to communicate such complex emotional issues as were involved here. In the end he was simply gratified to be trusted so completely, and greatly relieved when matters were settled to everyone's satisfaction. Leo had seemed particularly pleased with his willingness to become involved in such unfamiliar interactions and delighted when the temporary difficulties were resolved.
"See, what did I tell you, just because organic emotion isn't your native language doesn't mean you can't learn to communicate," she'd told him when he related the news that the wedding was "on". She persisted in encouraging Data to consider his lack of what she termed "organic emotion" not as a defect to be corrected but as something for which he already possessed an analog that simply needed to be accessed and refined. He acknowledged that since her arrival on the Enterprise and their continued close contact he had found it increasingly easy to access such an analog in their particular relationship. The first time Leo had told him of her feelings for him, struggling with her own "organic" indecision, was for him the first fully realized and successful effort on his part to access that analog. Knowing his parameters (that, at least, was a term she was willing to accept) and unable to lie, Data's need to express Leo's significance in his life triggered an inspiration as simple as it was honest.
They'd been walking in the holodeck, where she'd somewhat hesitantly come to accept Data's varied programs of 21st century American locales as "as real as it's gonna get, I guess." That particular night he'd recreated the woods where she'd lived, complete with full moon and night sounds, knowing she'd enjoyed such walks and hoping to cheer the vague, periodic melancholy she could never quite conceal from him. Leo had paused in a clearing by Data's re-creation of the riverbank he'd heard her describe. She'd smiled, not quite understanding he'd been doing these things not to impress her but to help alleviate her occasional bouts of homesickness for her own century.
"I'm impressed with your powers of perception, I don't remember talking too much about this."
"I did not wish to 'impress' you. I wished to, cheer you up?"
Leo turned and, still not quite absorbing his hopeful expression, told him, "I'm not so sad, Data, just a little adjustment anxiety. I'm still not sure where I belong in all this. But you're sweet to do it." Six months into her assignment to the Enterprise, she was adjusting well and didn't get overly distracted by her lapses into homesickness. Data, of course, by nature paid equal attention to everything and could not be dissuaded from his attempts to alleviate them.
She still does not understand my motivation, he thought to himself. He took a step closer, and looked closely into her eyes. "I did not do this to be 'sweet', or to impress you with my powers of perception. It does not matter that you are 'not so sad', Leo. I wish you not to be sad at all. Your friendship and your presence here has led to an improvement in my perception of my potential to become a better… inorganic person. It is easier to become who I wish to be when there is someone here who believes I can. I wish to do the same for you, as far as I am able. I wish to help you 'belong' here."
Finally it clicked. She'd thought of these periodic "outings" as entertainment, simple diversions for her off-duty time like going to the movies or out for a drink. Stupid, stupid, what he was doing was trying to soothe her feelings of dislocation (and it was going to be a long time, she realized, before they went away entirely) with a little familiarity, something to get her over the rough spots. Data wanted Leo to know she belonged in this time and place, it was something he believed as completely as she believed that he was capable of fully connecting with the humans he cared so much for. She slapped herself on the forehead, "God, I'm so stupid, I'm so sorry."
As he'd done before Data grasped her wrist to stop her, admonishing, "You must not do that, you will hurt yourself," and she reached up – as she'd done before – with her free hand to pull his mouth to hers. It wasn't the first kiss they'd shared since her arrival, but this time felt different to both of them. When Data lifted his head, arms still around her, Leo looked up at him and told him almost shyly, "Remember that night when I asked you what if I love you, what then? Well guess what, I love you," she announced it as if the realization had ambushed her even if they both knew it was no surprise. "What now?"
Data couldn't fail to remember the promise he'd made to Leo when, exhausted and confused, she'd first posed that question. But the words "I would love you if I could" seemed to him hollow and vastly inaccurate, so instead after a nanosecond of consideration he replied quietly, "And I would love no other."
"I'll bet you say that to all the time-jumping humanoid females," she smiled up at him. A doubtful look shadowed his face and she hastened to add, "Smartass, D, smartass," before reaching up to kiss him again. When Data saw Leo to her quarters it was still early, barely 2000. She invited him in as always, but once the door slid shut her demeanor appeared to Data to be a bit awkward.
"Is something wrong?"
"No, not at all, it's just…" Leo floundered. No man she'd ever been with – though there hadn't exactly been a huge roster – had required specific notification of romantic intentions. This one had requested them. He stood waiting for her to finish explaining, so she went to him and wrapped her arms around his waist, reached up and scattered kisses on his face and temple, under his ear, and finally his mouth. Surely her increased heartbeat, respiration, and temperature was evident? She felt like a slut and a prude simultaneously. She was willing to climb all over Data to get her point across, but utterly unable to verbalize it. When he broke the kiss and looked her in the eye she asked, feeling like a complete dork, "Are these non-verbal signals too subtle?" She ran her hands down his back and, going for broke, gave him a light two-handed goose to punctuate.
Data's eyes widened a fraction. He hadn't imagined Leo's transition from close friendship to intimate physical interest would be quite so abrupt. Naturally he'd expected some discussion, perhaps weighing the pro's and con's. After all, she was human and the "organic emotions" he could not answer in kind would naturally raise questions. He knew Leo quite well enough to know she was not interested in his sexual programming and subroutines for their own sake. Perhaps he was over-analyzing. Leo certainly knew him and his nature as well as he knew hers. In that respect they had been on equal footing for some time.
"They are not," he answered finally.
"Oh good, I'm not really up to a precise invitation."
Even as she retrieved one of his hands from her shoulder to run her mouth (warm, moist, fragile, as if her lips were layered with flower petals or silk) over the palm and inner wrist, Data was aware of an unsteadiness that had been evident in her voice, something less than indecision but an uncertain quality that could not be classified as the breathlessness of passion. Carefully, so she would not misunderstand, he closed his hand on hers to slow her down and focus her attention.
"Leo, your intentions are clear, and I find them most agreeable. But you must tell me. Something is troubling you. If we are to become joined more completely, you must not withhold your related uncertainties from me. I have not withheld mine from you." She didn't answer at first. "You do not need to fear I will hurt you. My sexual subroutines prohibit inflicting pain, as my general programming prohibits killing humans. And there is no risk of defaulting to self-defense mode."
Now she stepped back from him. "No, god no, I'm not afraid of you, never. It's not that."
Data waited. He understood that initiating sexual intimacy in a previously platonic relationship involved a variety of often conflicting emotions in humans, even if he couldn't grasp their weight specifically.
Why am I acting like I such an idiot, Leo thought to herself. She knew she could tell him anything. "Well, it's just that something Geordi told me keeps popping into my head."
Now he was surprised. "Geordi? Have you consulted him regarding the potential sexual aspect of our relationship?"
Leo flopped on the sofa, realizing the "moment" was lost, and explained as Data joined her, "No not like that. But you remember when he came to the Academy and you introduced us, you were called away to a subspace com from the captain."
Still perplexed, he asked, "And at that time you inquired about my sexual programming and subroutines?"
He was absolutely guileless, and this mortified Leo more than anything. "No, for christsake, what do you think I am?" Another ridiculous question. She continued before Data could reply. "Geordi was telling me how you'd told him about me, and he was glad you'd met someone who took you as you are and saw you as a complete person, positronics be damned." Data opened his mouth as if to speak, and thought better of it.
"He told me about all the people you'd met that you'd have liked to get to know better but they couldn't get beyond your being an android, for whatever reason, they saw you as a curiosity or a ready source of technical info, not as a man. And he told me about some women who, well, who can't get beyond the fact that you're a 'fully functional' android and only see you as, well, as,"
"A sex object? A love toy? An interactive vibrator?"
"Okay, I see you get the point!" she exploded.
Ignoring the vehemence of Leo's outburst, Data assured her, "I am fully aware that your interest in me always has been as a complete being. I am also fully familiar with your character and your intentions. There is no need to be concerned that I might misunderstand."
Now Leo ran her hands over her face. "No, Data, it's not that either. Not exactly anyway."
Out of options regarding what Leo's issue might be, Data waited patiently for clarification.
"It's like this." She faced him now, determined to make herself understood. "From the start I've known that an analog to the organic emotions in humans exists in your makeup and programming, it's just interpreted and expressed differently. But… sensory experience, that's another story. Oh, I know you're able to record and analyze through tactile inputs. Texture, and temperature, like organic senses only much more fine tuned. But there's another aspect for humans…"
Data was able to help her out this time. "Pleasure stimulus. My positronic 'brain' is designed for analysis, and unlike humans lacks a pleasure center."
Leo nodded. "See, I touch you here," and she put a hand on his shoulder, "and when I touch you here," she placed her other hand on his groin, "there's no difference at all." She withdrew both hands and sat back. "I don't give a goddamn how sophisticated or varied or exotic your sexual subroutines are. I'll feel the connection, I'll feel the pleasure, because it's you. But I'll feel it not just in emotion, I'll feel it in sensation as well. But you won't." She tried not to frown. "How will I ever not feel like I'm using you for myself, and giving nothing back? No matter how much I want it to be different, I'll feel everything, and you'll feel nothing. It's just so one-sided, no matter how much I want you that way I'm afraid it'll always seem wrong."
Data continued to regard Leo silently for a minute or two. When he finally spoke, the tone of his voice reflected the same puzzlement evident whenever he was confronted with an unexpected lapse in logic. "I find it curious that your belief in my analogous capabilities is confined to the concept of emotion." He reached for her hand and held it lightly in his own. "When I do this," he ran a fingertip delicately up her inner forearm and she shivered. "You experience texture, temperature, direction and duration, and an additional response that you define as 'pleasure'. I also perceive those first four sensory messages." Leo wanted to protest yes, see, I'm right, but he shushed her with a finger against her lips that pressed lightly before tracing the edge of her cheek. "I also perceive something in addition. Changes in your heartbeat, respiration, muscular response beneath skin, surface and inner changes in infinite variation."
She thought she understood. "But they're mine, not yours."
He shook his head. "You are wrong. They are mine also," he leaned closer to kiss her under the ear, and her breath hitched, "because I engendered them." She was staring wide-eyed at him. "When I give you pleasure, it is mine as well. Your responses will enhance my sensory input. As with human emotion, the distinction is only in definition."
"Do you really mean that? I mean, you're not just trying to make me feel better?" She was convinced when Data's expression turned slightly disapproving.
"Leora Eileen," he reminded her, "I am incapable of lying."
"But you said you'd have a hard time with subtle non-verbal signals, how do I let you know when…"
"I believe we have established that your non-verbal signals are sufficiently non-subtle to avoid misunderstanding."
Leo smiled slyly at his not-very veiled humor. "You mean like this," she moved into his lap and ran her fingers inside the collar of his uniform. So he didn't shiver like she did. So what?
"Correct. Such an action is difficult to misinterpret," he stood with her in his arms. "I do not have duty until 0700. Do you have an engagement this evening?"
"I think I do now."
As Data carried her into the bedroom he told Leo earnestly, "You must tell me if I am behaving too selfishly."
Given what he'd just told her? Oh lord… "I'll do my best."
Now, several months later, the memory of their first physical union and its impact on their relationship replayed in Data's mind. It had been, he knew, a significant leap of faith for Leo and one that had turned out to be both justified and positive for them both. Concurrently with these thoughts came those of Miles and Keiko's impending nuptials. As often happened in Data's positronic processes a connection was made, which led to a synthesis of further reflection. It was possible, Data mused as the sleeping Leo mumbled and snuggled against him, that the time had arrived to consider a further leap of faith.