This is a work of fan fiction. Paramount owns Star Trek and all its universe. I just wish I had one little part of it....Data! You think they would miss him? LOL No copyright infringement is intended. All hail TPTB! This is a Data/female romance. Some sex will be in later chapters, unless I drop dead before I get to post them. The rating will be R. Please read and review. THANKS!

Lessons Across Timelines By Lessa Soong

The Edge

What is it that draws me to you?

I really don't know. Maybe I never will. I have read just about everything I can find to read about you.

But it never seems to be enough.

I have written my own line about you and still it is not enough.

I cannot seem to get my fill of you.

I have your image around me most of the time and gaze at you often.

I dream of you.

Oddly, in the last week, every night. But this was never so before.

I cannot always retain what I saw, but that it was of you I am certain.

I wonder if I teeter on the edge of sanity.

If I fall, will you be there to catch me?

It seems only fitting as you are the one that pushed me over that edge.

Have you ever experience obsession?

I think I live it.

You are the first and last image in my mind each day and I have never even been in the same room with you...and I never will.

I would imagine that this can't last...but so far it has.

I am growing old thinking of you.

But I am not growing cold.

I want you.

I have for years.

But what draws me to you?

I still do not know.

Chapter 1 - From the page to my living room

She had been a fan for years. As a child her father, who had thought that watching cartoons was a waste of time, had introduced her to Star Trek.

"Why would you watch this garbage when Star Trek is on?" he had said once, and changed the channel. That had been all it took. She had been hooked in that instant.

First Star Trek, then Isaac Asimov, Heinlein and all the rest of the sci-fi writers. As a teenager she had gone on to introduce Star Trek to her best friend, Lori. They went to conventions together and talked about the show endlessly. Her favorite character had been Spock and Lori's had been Chekov. In 1987, when the Next Generation had premiered, she was married and had one child. In a friend's living room she crowded in front of the TV with ten others, including her husband and daughter, to watch "Encounter at Farpoint".

It was awesome!

What followed was a whole new world. Each of the new characters was so fresh and interesting that she had trouble deciding on a favorite. At times she felt that her favorite was whichever character had been featured in that week's episode. She and the whole family immersed themselves in the new chapter of the Trek universe and all were happy.

That continued through the years until the unthinkable happened.

It was a simple car accident. Head on and fatal. Her husband most likely never even felt a moment's pain, but she did. Their daughter, Melody, had been thirteen at the time of her father's tragic death. The teenager seemed better able to handle the blow than her mother did.

Two jobs were required to keep the family going. There was insurance and a settlement from the accident, but she put that money away for Melody's college fund. Dating was out of the question. She had no interest in any man she met and no time for them even if one could catch her eye. She had some friends, but most were on-line friends whom she chatted with about her only living passion.

Star Trek.

And at present there was a heck of a lot of Star Trek to chat about!

She eventually discovered fan art and fan fiction. It was just after reading a story about Lore, Lt. Commander Data's evil brother, that she remembered a little fantasy story that she had made up years ago that involved Data. Deciding that her typing could use the practice, she began to work on pulling the story from her head and putting it on paper...well, disk.

Being a hopeless romantic, her tale was a love story in which Data finally got the girl. As she'd had the story in the back of her head for years it was by now quite involved, but 252 pages in, she got stuck on a technical detail that she could not resolve herself. In frustration she pushed this story aside and wondered what would result if she changed some of the details of her first story and started again. All of the characters that she had created in addition to the love interest for Data where brought back but the situation was different. Same music, different dance... Where as in her first story they had met on the girl's home world, this time they met on the Enterprise. It was amazing how differently the story unfolded.

This caused her to think of another situation. What about the future? Data could live for centuries! What would his next love be like? Twenty-five pages into story two, she began story three with a second heroine. But parts of it also had problems...

Story four only got to page five before she wondered if her premise was unseemly. Introducing Data to someone who was at the beginning of the story only four years old, but would grow to be a love interest many, many years later might upset some people.

Story five took place in the future, but involved Data never meeting the girl for story one and two.

This one she finished. And she liked a lot!

By this time, her daughter was 18 and in college. She still worked two jobs but any free time she had was taken up by her full-blown obsession with Data. Pictures of him made up her screen saver. Her desktop was also him. She had changed the sound to lines for the show that she had downloaded. Now when she turned her computer on, Data's voice could be heard to say, "Honey, I'm home!" and when she turned it off, he said, "Data out!" She found new sound waves after a while and created a folder labeled "Data" to store them in so that rotating them would be easier.

All and all, she had a full was just filled with a being who did not exist!

Melody worried, but it wasn't as though this would cause her to jump off a bridge or rob a bank, so who was she hurting? She still went to conventions and had hoped, one day to meet the actor who played Data, but she had decided that one obsession was enough and she was sticking with the one who was not real.

The year was 2002 and a friend of hers was editing story five, as she knew it was lousy with run on sentences. She was again working on story two and had completed over 100 pages.

It was Saturday, late fall, 12:53 PM. She had taken the day off from her second job and was busy typing with cold coffee on her desk and music that she had downloaded flowing from the speakers of her computer. She was now up to over 400 of her favorite tunes.

She was dressed in jeans and a black and white horizontal striped collared shirt. She was typing furiously. Lore was about to make an appearance in this story and the girl and Lore always had interesting arguments. Unable to decide on Lore's opening jab, she got up from her chair and heading for the kitchen. Making lunch would allow her a few moments away from the words on the screen and help her to see Lore's face and hear what he wanted to say.

Her vacating the chair and the room was fortuitous. Had she remained, the flash of light that filled her living room may have temporarily blinded her. The odd pop the accompanied the white flash did, however, cause her to come running. What she saw when she got there caused her to believe that she must be asleep and dreaming. Either that or someone had paid Brent Spiner a hell of a lot of money to play a joke on her. Except how did they get him into her living room?

When she'd run back into the room, he had been looking around, with a blank look in his face. At her entrance, he turned to face her.

If this was an actor, or a fake, he was a damn good one!

He had a tricorder in his left hand and a phaser at his side. He moved to touch the phaser, but she threw up her hands in submission.

"Unless you find kitchen towels threatening, I don't think you'll need the phaser," she gasped. With the tricorder still in his hand, he made use of the device and scanned her.

"Human," he noted.

"100%," she agreed.

"May I ask where I am, please?" Always polite...but still?

"Earth." She told him. He frowned. He didn't believe her.

"That is highly unlikely. We were on-- Where on earth, please?" he asked, kindly.

"About an hour outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Don't you want to know the year?" This was her first question, but it had quite an affect. His composure could not have been more shattered if she had stripped naked right there.

"Yes, please," he asked weakly.

"2002, old earth calendar."

He opened his mouth, but closed it again before saying anything. How familiar that looked, she thought to herself. She wondered how far this dream would progress before she woke up.

"Why have you brought me here?" he finally asked. Now it was her turn to look shocked.

"Unless wishful thinking has given me a new ability, I don't think I had anything to do with your arrival here. I take it you were not trying to get to 2002?"

His expression became speculative. "Why did you use the year in that question and not the location?"

"Isn't it easier to travel from one location to another than it is from one time to another?" she asked innocently.

He looked very unsure as to how to answer. Of course! The Prime Directive!

"Maybe we should start with something simple. Hi, I'm Harper Talenger." She extended a hand and he returned his tricorder to his belt and took her hand for a precise shake.

"I am called Data," he said smoothly. From behind him, Harper noticed that her screen saver had just popped on.

Oh, God! She thought. Reaching past him, she lunged for the off switch to the monitor. But she suspected he probably saw. Turning back to face him, she folded her arms behind her and tried to grin innocently at him. She knew that she was failing miserably and a blush was rising to her cheeks.

"Sorry, but that's going to take some explaining..." she tilted her head toward the computer screen and sighed. He looked very suspicious.

"Perhaps now would be a good time to start the explanation, Miss Talenger." He looked very alert now. He had definitely seen the picture of himself standing in front of the turbo lift, holding the hand of the little girl from 'Pen Pals". Harper sighed again. What would he have concluded from that? That she was lying and that she had indeed brought him here?

"This is going to take a while. Why don't we sit, because I think about now, I need to." She was feeling a bit light headed and woozy. This could not be happening! She had read, "Visit to a weird planet, revisited." And even an unfinished TNG version of this story, but this was...happening in her living room, damn it!

She made it to a chair and collapsed, he followed cautiously behind. He sat on the center cushion of her couch. God but was he handsome! In story five, one of the first things that the woman noticed about Data was the way he moved. The female character had found him attractive in the way he moved from day one to the end of the story; at this moment Harper realized just how accurate that sentiment truly was.

She sighed and gave this some thought. How was she going to explain this to him? He was not going to believe her. She opened her mouth to speak but noticed that his attention had been drawn to her fireplace mantel.

"Oh, hell!" she muttered. He was back on his feet and in a second was picking up a box that contained a Barbie sized version of himself. Her sister had given it to her as a birthday gift three years ago. Harper had forgotten it was there.

"Is this a...toy?" he asked, curiosity clear in his tone. Better than anger.

"Yes. Please don't open it or destroy it."

"Why is there the image of you know what this is?" He was pointing to the image of the Borg on the lower left-hand side of the box. The doll was from the movie 'First Contact'.

~ Not an experience I bet he wants to be reminded of. ~

"It's a picture of a Borg. Please, Commander. This is going to be very hard to explain as it is. Please sit back down before you find more to cause you to question me." Harper glanced around the room to see if there was anything else that she needed to throw out a window. Fortunately, her DVD box sets of TNG were behind something else and he could not see the symbol that would have given him pause.

He returned to his seat.

"As I said, you are on Earth in the year 2002. I don't think you're in the same timeline that you were in before you...left." What if this really was an actor? She slowly got to her feet. Coming across the room, she reached out to his face. He looked confused and wary, but did not pull away as she ran a finger across his cheek. Warm and soft. Just like his hand. She glanced at her fingers. No make-up. She felt weak in the knees again, but she was not a fainter!

She returned to her chair.

"Why did you touch me in that manner? And why is it your belief that I have changed timelines?" he asked, doing his little thinking twitch.

"Because in my timeline you're a character in a television entertainment show. As fictitious as a character in a Shakespearean play." This seemed to convince him that she may be truly lying or just out of her mind. He jumped to his feet and raced to the monitor. Turning it back on, he was treated to the sight of picture after picture of himself flashing briefly before his eyes. In some he was alone, in others he was pictured with others. There was a very nice one of him and his mother, Juliana. There was even one of him and Spot, his cat.

"How is it you have images of so much of my life? My family, my friends? How have you done this?" He was growing upset...and then the picture of him standing with the Borg Queen flashed by.

He gasped and staggered backwards as though he had been electrocuted.

"Commander Data, please let me turn that off, otherwise you're going to be convinced you should shoot me before I get the chance to explain this properly!" She sat down at the desk and shut the computer down. She turned the speaker off before he could hear his own voice saying, "end program".

At least he hadn't seen the one where he was about to kiss the Queen!

Standing again, Harper faced him. He obviously had his emotion chip with him, and he was very angry!

"I ask you again, Miss Talenger, why have you brought me here?"

Yep, he sounded pissy now.

This was quickly going from bad to worse. Funny, for years now, she would have given everything she owned to spend two minutes in his arms. Now she had been in the same room with him for less than ten minutes and he hated her already! That song by Alanis Morissette suddenly came to mind.

"Come over here. The only way you are going to believe me is if you see it for yourself." She went to the TV and pulled season one of Star Trek: The Next Generation out from behind the other DVDs she had stacked up there. She turned on the TV and the disc player. Popping disc one in the unit, she went back to her chair and motioned for him to take a seat. Before setting the player to start, she switched to a show that was currently on regular TV so he would have something to compare it to.

"Ok, this is a soap opera. It's just about the most pitiful form of entertainment known to man. The only thing worse is kids shows like Barney." Two people were throwing things at each other and screaming on one channel. She switched to another soap and this one had two people having sex. "Oh, sorry. Let's see if Barney is on." He was.

"He is purple. Is he intended to accurately represent an creature from the Jurassic period?" Data asked looking like he hoped that her people were not all crazy.

Harper laughed. "Not really. He's just something that's used to help kids learn the alphabet and numbers and such. Ok, now here's an educational channels for adults." She switched to the Discovery Channel and then the History Channel. He found both interesting and was disappointed when she turned them off to activate the disc player.

"You can watch it later if you want. Right now, I still need to convince you that I'm not Kivas Fajo. Oops, sorry. Oh, just watch." She began the disc. The opening sequence ran and the characters were scrolled through one at a time. When they got to his face, towards the end of the sequence he looked at her.

"In what order were our images shown. It was not by rank." He looked slightly offended to be shown right before Wesley. She tried not to grin.

"Alphabetically, by the names of the actors who play the characters. Except for the first two. They're considered the lead roles so they come first." He digested this.

"That is an actor who What is his name?" He looked very disconcerted.

"Wait and see." She hit the button to play "Encounter at Farpoint". The story began and his eyes went wide.

"The Farpoint Mission" he mumbled to himself.

"Yes, the one that started it all. Well, started it all again." The first scenes concluded and the opening credits rolled. He looked like he would laugh as Patrick Stewart spoke dramatically of new life and all...

"I believe the proper term for this would be....corny." Then his name and Brent Spiner's rolled by. He looked at her in disbelief. His own name seemed to make it all the more real...or unreal.

"It's all here. Well, not all of it. I only have season one, two and four. I was hoping to get three and five soon, but I can't afford them right now." Deciding that he could figure out how to use the remote control faster then she could blink, Harper handed it to him. Not surprisingly, he fast-forwarded through most of the rest. He paused at the first clip with Tasha Yar.

"I'll leave you two alone." Harper rose and went to the kitchen. She was still hungry, and his appearance meant that she was shaking enough to burn a whole hell of a lot of calories. After nuking some left over beef stew, she sat down at her dinette table alone.

This was just too weird, and she still didn't feel like she was dreaming. Just to test she patted her cheek sharply to see if she would wake up. She didn't accomplish anything other then causing a red mark to appear on her face. She finished eating and was tending to the dishes when Data appeared from around the corner. She gasped and dropped the plate she had been about to place in the dishwasher.

"I apologize for startling you. Are you alright?" he asked studying her. She nodded her head slowly. She inhaled and exhaled deeply and bent to retrieve the plate. It had not broken.

He continued to watch her as she finished her clean up of her kitchen. She was 1.76 meters in height. Data calculated her weight to 66 kilos. Her hair was a shoulder length dark brown, but when she passed by her window the sun's light revealed red highlights. Her eyes were gray with only the barest hint of blue. Her figure was a classic hourglass shape with only the slightest hint of a paunch in her abdominal area. He had taken note of various pictures that she had scattered around the part of her house that he had seen thus far. In several, there was a child in various stages of development. This child was often pictured with Harper, but was also picture alone or with Harper and a dark haired man that Data concluded must be Harper's husband. The android hoped this man was of the understanding variety. Coming home to find a male android alone with your wife could cause many human males to experience mistrust and jealousy.

He looked her over once more. He noted that she wore no jewelry. No rings, no earrings, not even a watch. Had the marriage ended? In this era, women were no longer considered possessions, but most North American women wore a ring if they were married. But the man's picture was still displayed. He doubted she would keep his picture up if the marriage had been devolved.

Data recalled that his own mother did not have pictures of his father in her home that she now shared with Pran Tainer. Data concluded that Harper's husband was possibly deceased or that she simply did not wear a ring. Either way, it could lead to an uncomfortable situation if he were not careful. This was all contingent on this not being some holodeck fantasy or a trick. He knew he was not dreaming. All of his diagnostics reported that his cognitive functions were on-line and functioning within normal parameters.

"Miss Talenger, does one of these discs contain the events that occurred on Stardate 41601.6?" he asked her. She looked him in the eyes and was silent for several seconds.

"I was never one to memorize the Stardates, but after the way you looked when you saw Tasha, I think I can guess what you are asking for. It's entitled 'Skin of Evil", Commander," Harper told him and looked away. Data nodded and returned to the living room, commenting that this title made sense.

Harper finished her cleaning and returned to the living room in time to see Data watching the recorded events just prior to Tasha's death. The mistress of the house gently pulled the remote from the golden hand that held it to pause the scene.

"Why are you watching this? You remember all of it perfectly. Why would you want to torture yourself with these images?" Her tone was gentle, her eyes, compassionate.

"My memory did not include the moments that Armus spoke with the counselor. I was not there to witness the moments shown there or the efforts being made on the bridge. The angle is different and offers a different perspective..." His voice trailed off.

"The point was not to mourn, Commander. The point was for you to believe that what I am telling you is true. I realize that this may sound heartless, but we don't know what the window of opportunity is for getting you back. Shouldn't you be looking for it?"

She was right of course, but Data had not truly accepted that this was not a trick of some sort. This kind of trick had been played by Q and...Well, it was a long list. He was not convinced that this woman would not turn out to be someone whom he could add to that list. As he could not see how doing as she had suggested could back fire, he pulled out his tricorder and rescanned the area where he had appeared.

"Find anything?" she asked after a few moments of watching him point the thing all around the room and even over himself.

"One moment," he said and came over to direct the tricorder at her a second time. She just stood still and waited.

"Am I still human?" she asked with amused impatience. He looked up as though he'd been so deep in thought that he had forgotten she was still there.

~ Great, been here not even an hour and already I bore him. If I was going to wish someone into existence, shouldn't they at least find me fascinating? ~

"Yes, you are still human. During my initial scan I found-"

"Commander, please remember that while I watch and love Star Trek, I may not understand a truly detailed analysis. Try and keep it simple. Imagine you're explaining this to Counselor Troi."

"Ah" he said, nodding his understanding. Harper couldn't decide whether she should laugh or not.

"I did find evidence of a minute temporal rift. Simple enough?" he asked, in a patient and non-condescending tone.

"Yes. I take it the rift is gone?" she asked. He nodded. "Can you recreate it? Is there evidence it will reappear?" This time he did not nod. She sighed heavily.

"I do not know how it was possible for this to happen originally. While it is theoretically possible for a temporal rift to develop on a planet, the conditions necessary for this result would require...unnatural intervention." He studied her face to see if she understood.

"You were on a planet?" she asked, sounding like she was gathering puzzle pieces. He nodded. "Did you beam down alone?" Data shook his head this time. "Do you think that your other party members were also pulled back in time? Were they near you? What was the last thing you saw?"

Data nodded his approval of her questions. "The other members of the away team, Commander Riker and Dr. Crusher, were ten point three meters and seven point two meters in front of me, respectively. Their backs and the walls of the cave we had entered were the last images I saw. Did you see or notice any disturbances when I arrived?" Data asked, turning the questions on Harper.

"I had just left the room, but I heard a 'pop'. It was a loud pop, almost like a gun shot but the sound was...higher pitched." It seemed to him that she was running the scene through her memory to dig up more detail. "There was also a light. I was facing away, but it lit up the whole side of the house. It lasted only a second and a half, I would guess...I couldn't time it exactly of course." She shrugged helplessly at him. Data smiled.

"Can you think of anyone who would be capable of bringing me here?" Data knew this was a long, long shot, but it had to be asked. It was her turn to shake her head.

"Are you going to be able to get back?" she asked.

"At this point, I see no way in which I can." He sounded suddenly downcast. Turning from her, he went back to sit on the couch to study the readings he had taken on the tricorder.

Harper's mind was racing. No Star Trek episode had ever left the character without an escape. Even when it had looked like Data was meant to die in the past...that was it!

"Wait! That's it! That's it! Damn, I don't have that one on disc! Commander, what about Guinan? She was there when you were thrown back to 1890. Could she be here now?"

He looked like he was considering this for a moment, but sadly shook his head after a moment. "It is possible, but as this is not MY timeline, it is probable that it is also not Guinan's timeline. I will make an effort to contact her despite that fact. Thank you for the suggestion." He smiled, but only half-heartedly.

Data felt like he could almost sink into the couch. He let his shoulders slump and he buried his hands between his knees. He was stuck here for at least a while and he was none too happy about it. Harper heaved a sigh and sat down next to him, but he did not look at her. He wished that Counselor Troi had been pulled here with him. At least then he would have someone to talk to. The emotions that this was invoking all at once were devastating. It felt as though something were squeezing his chest and causing him to lose the ability to breathe.

Geordi, Deanna, Beverly, Will...The Captain. Data still could not just think of the man by his first name. Captain Picard had been his commanding officer for so long that to refer to him informally would feel disrespectful. How could it be that the captain did not exist...and may never exist in this timeline except as a character in an entertainment? Data knew that in his timeline, history included what was called science fiction. Isaac Asimov had written about robots with positronic brains centuries before Data's father had brought that fiction to life. With this in mind, the android turned to look at Harper.

"Does the name Isaac Asimov mean anything to you?" he asked her.

"I, Robot, The Foundation series, Harry and his psychohistory and Susan Calvin. Asimov was one of my favorite authors. I even read one of his wife's books because I loved his so much. I know he wrote about the positronic brain. Is that why you're asking?"

At least the idea of his brain existed here. "Yes," was all he could say.

They sat in silence for several moments before she rose from the couch. "You want to be alone and I have some errands to run. I'm only planning on going to the grocery store, but is there anything I can get you while I'm out?" She looked as defeated as he felt.

"For what purpose? Data asked.

"I have no idea." She admitted with a shrug and a smile. "Just thought I'd be polite and ask. I know this is very hard on you, Commander, but having a sentient android from hundreds of years into the future suddenly appear in my living room is rather disconcerting for me as well. I am willing to do anything I am capable of to help you get back or at least to make life tolerable for you here until you come up with a plan to get yourself back."

Somehow the fact that she, too, was affected by this impossible turn of events helped Data to feel slightly less alone. Harper was right, he was allowing his emotions to overrule his logic. Somewhere there was an answer and he just had to find it. With renewed enthusiasm, Data got to his feet. The logical course of action was to learn about where he was and try to discover if there was any technology that existed in this time and timeline that could assist him in his quest.

"May I use your computer while you are away?" he asked. Oddly she

"I guess I should have guessed that you would ask that. Ok, you sit there and let me reconfigure some things on it and turn on the DSL, as I'm sure you'll need the Internet. But please, promise me you won't peek at what I'm doing...please." She looked very nervous.

"I promise," he assured her, confused as to what she was trying to hide and suspicious as to the reason. With a nod, she headed for her computer. Data retook his seat, so that the back of the chair to his right would block his view of her and the computer desk.

Click, beep, click. She was typing furiously, but he kept his word and did not lean to his right to see what she was doing.

Harper could not believe she had to do this. All her screen savers were Star Trek based. She would be forced to use the standard Windows wallpaper and screen saver. She had to change all the sound waves as well. But she was not deleting her stories! She copied them all to disc and decided to hide the hard copies in her room. Data's ethical sub-routines should prevent him from searching in there...she hoped. Still, she could label them to sound uninteresting even to a curious android who was the second officer of a starship...that no longer existed anywhere outside of Hollywood.

Damn, that had to be upsetting him. To have your whole life wiped out of time. Had she had something to do with it? Could you wish someone from their world into yours? If you were Q you could do it, she thought. But why the hell would the Q of Data's universe give a damn about what a lonely woman from another universe wanted? Q only cared about manipulating people and things in order to create entertainment for himself.

Would this situation be amusing to Q?


But the omnipotent being preferred playing with the captain. Data had saved Q's life once and Harper always thought that it had caused Q to have a sort of soft spot for the android. But who could really guess how far Q would go?

Harper had finished her work. She had even renamed her 'Data' folder. Now she would have to go over the rest of the house since he couldn't even leave the house without causing a stir-- Crap! He couldn't leave! This was a big mess!

She called him over. Once he was standing behind her she gave him a brief run down on how this antiquated computer worked. The Internet was not the Federation database and never would be, but it would be his best source of information in this time period.

"Please, do not go into this application. Word is just a program that allows you to write letters or make notes...stuff like that. You have no need of it with you memory and I have private, personal things in there that I would be very upset and embarrassed if you saw." Especially the sex scenes, she thought to herself.

She almost laughed at the memory of the first time she had attempted to write a sex scene... Her hands had been shaking with embarrassment over typing the word 'erection'. She had laughed at herself for over five minutes because she had spelled it wrong...

Harper tried not to grin since she did not want to explain to Data why she was!

"I will not require the use of 'Word'," the android assured her. "I shall honor your request and avoid it," he promised. She nodded and surrendered the chair to him. She headed for her room, discs in hand, to hide them and retrieve her shoes.

She passed by her dresser, and caught sight of herself in the mirror. She stopped to examine her reflection. Not bad for a 36 year old, she decided. She went to the bathroom and ran a brush through her hair, but did not bother with make-up. It was her day off and she was not going to try and impress this man, who was not really here...could not be here, with cosmetics. Her skin had always been clear even in her teenage years, but now she suffered a slight case of rosacea that caused her cheeks to had a mottled redness to them if she wore too much make-up or drank caffeine.

Oh, well...she was not going to give up her morning coffee!

Still, the redness was not bad today it just caused her to look a little flushed. She brushed her teeth and left the bedroom.

When Harper returned to the living room the computer was fully under Data's control. Words and images sped by as fast as he could cause them to scroll. His long fingers seemed to dance over the keyboard. She doubted he could go his full speed as her computer could not keep up with him, but he showed no signs of frustration. But then, it hadn't locked up on him yet.

"I bet you'd give just about anything for five minutes access of the Enterprise computer," she commented as she approached him.

"Ironic, as if I had access, I would not need solve this dilemma." She laughed at this. He looked up at her and smiled briefly, but the smile looked forced.

He still did not believe her!

Harper could see it in his amber eyes. For some reason she was suddenly angry. She prided herself on her honesty and to have him question it, even silently, made her furious!

"What would convince you that I was not faking this all somehow, Commander?" To her surprise, Data came to his feet.

"Allow me to accompany you when you leave," he replied, standing tall before her.

"That is not possible. You may have been able to convince holograms from the Dixon Hill program that you were from South America, but that is not going to work here! It's cold but it's a sunny day out there. The first ray of sun that reflects off your golden skin is either going to have people running or calling the police. You need to stay here until you find some way back to where you belong." How could he not know that? Simple, he still believed this was some sort of holographic trick.

"Then I am to be a prisoner here." It was not a question.

She sighed, exasperated.

"Fine, if that's what it takes to convince you, then come. But please, leave the phaser here," she pleaded. He did not like that suggestion. "Fine, bring it, but you are going to have to stay in the car. I have a van and the back windows are tinted. You'll be able to see out, but others won't be able to see in unless they're right next to the car. Will you agree to the logic of this suggestion or are you going to fight with me on that too?"

"It is not wise to leave technology behind when dealing with a pre- warp culture. The danger of exposure is too prevalent." He was referring to her suggestion to leave the phaser.

"And what you didn't say is that you don't know that someone would not be instructed to sneak into my house and retrieve that very technology. But if I have the power to pull you here, would I not also be able to use it to take myself there? And if I could, then I could have just stolen the stuff I wanted without the witnesses. What possible use could I have for you?" She hoped she had cornered him, but she had forgotten something.

"Perhaps I am the technology you wished," Data replied stoically.

"What? Oh, right. I forgot for a moment."

"What did you forget?" he asked, confused.

"That you could be considered technology. I forgot about you being an android." He looked like he found this very hard to believe. She huffed at him. "Consider for just a moment that I am telling the truth, Commander. The character that I see on Star Trek is a human male who pretends to be an android. He is not neural nets and processors and sub-routines covered by bioplast sheeting. He's just a man with gold make up and yellow contacts."

He processed this, his eyes going back and forth like she had seen him to so many times on TV. After a moment he focused on her again.

"That is why you touched my face earlier. You doubt me as I doubt you?" She nodded. Data's expression changed to one of determination. He touched a spot on his forehead and applied a slight amount of pressure. An area approximately three inches across and two inches long popped open. Harper was always reminded of a Christmas tree whenever she saw under his 'skin' on TV. All the pretty lights of his neural nets were much nicer than blood and guts, but he wouldn't think so. She couldn't resist. Reaching up, she gently closed the access panel.

"Ok, so now it's my turn." She moved to the console to her right and picked up her purse and keys. "Damn," she muttered. Hanging from her key ring was a miniature metal copy of a Borg cube. "My daughter's right, I have no life..." she clutched the keys in her hand and led the way to the stairs that would take them to the garage. She yanked the cube off the ring as she descended the stairs and slipped it into her pocket, out of sight.

She opened the sliding back door for him and closed it again once Data was seated safely in the back. The trip to the store was short, but maybe it was enough to convince him that he was not in a holodeck. Harper knew he could detect the walls of a holodeck. She parked the car back away from the other cars and turned to look at him.

"You will stay on the car, won't you? I really don't want to be in jail tonight for harboring a dangerous alien."

"If I am just a character is a can I hurt anyone?" he replied, sardonically.

"I know this is all a bit much to take or believe, Commander. I think I'm going to need a nights sleep and maybe several glasses of wine before I'm truly able to deal with this, but you can't believe that jumping out of the car and waving your phaser at these people is not...against the Prime Directive!"

Data was taken aback. "I have no intention of waving my phaser at anyone unless they threaten me first. Do you truly intend to consume alcohol in an attempt to better acclimate to our situation?" he asked, dubiously.

"You bet your sweet positronic brain, I do." And with that she got out of the car. No need to lock it. If he wanted out, he could get out. He could punch through the door if he wanted, so a lock was pointless.

Harper bought the things she needed as fast as she could and returned to the van. She opened the hatch and released her breath when she saw that Data was staring back at her.

"Hi," she said.

"Greetings," he answered.

Trying not to grin, she loaded her purchases and closed the hatch. Back in the driver's seat, a moment later, she started the car.

"Is there an establishment where one may acquire electronic equipment locally?" he asked sitting forward.

"Data, sit back and get your seatbelt back on!" she found herself exclaiming. She was never going to get used to this... "Sorry, forgot again. Please keep you seatbelt on for my peace of mind. It goes against my programming to drive if anyone in the car is without one." In her mirror she could see him nod and comply.

"There is a small electronics store nearby, but if you need something, I think the best thing would be for you to find it on-line and then find the closest place where we can buy it. You will have to keep one thing in mind though."


"I'm a poor woman with a daughter in college. I work two jobs and have a mortgage and a car payment along with all the other normal household expenses." Harper sighed.

Data decided it was time to find out about the man in that picture. "Is there no one else to contribute to your financial support? I assume that your daughter was brought into this world with assistance from a human male."

She laughed. "I've never heard it put quite that way. Yes, she had a father. He was killed in a car accident five years ago. That's why I am not going to drive with anyone who is not wearing a seatbelt." She stated firmly.

He had hoped that she had just separated from that man. Still this would mean that Data would not have to explain his appearance in her home to an angry husband.

"I am sorry for your loss, Miss Talenger," he offered.

"Thank you, Commander," she whispered back.

She pulled into the garage and closed the door before she got out. He assisted in bringing the items that she had purchased to the kitchen. "I'll put these away. Why don't you go back to the computer and see if you can find some of the things you will need and where we can find them. What are you going to build?" she asked as he slipped into the chair.

"At this time, I wish only to know what is available. Your planet's level of advancement will limit my ability to proceed."

"Oh, come didn't seem too limited in 1890. The device you created took up your whole bed, but it worked! Surely you can work another miracle with twenty-first century technology."

"I remind you, Miss Talenger, that I would need to either attempt a transmission not only through time but dimensions. I know of no way of accomplish this without knowing the location of a dimensional rift. With that knowledge I could possibly construct a beacon to send a message. Otherwise, I will need a ship. I know that your people have vessels that are capable of escaping earth's gravitation, however I do not believe that they will be willing to let me borrow one."

Data heard Harper laugh from the kitchen. "I imagine that you're correct. So what is our plan?" she asked.

"At this moment, I am looking for...inspiration."

"Good luck, sweetie," she called.

He smiled and yet was confused by this. ~ Sweetie? ~

She entered the room and brought with her a chair. She put it next to his and went back to the kitchen. She returned again with two wineglasses in her hand. Both were filled with a medium red colour liquid, which he assumed was indeed wine.

"Thought we could drink together. I know that it won't effect you, but it will calm me." She set his glass on the desk before him and held hers. "I saw an episode where Lore poisoned you with Champaign once. Do you want me to drink some from yours to prove that it's not poisoned?" She offered this with a completely straight face. He considered her offer for only .48 seconds before deciding to reject it.

"I thank you, but I believe I will trust you until you give me cause to reconsider."

"Then we need a toast. Pick up your glass. I really will taste some if you want me to...ok then, here's to TV shows, technology and timelines. May you find a way to beat them all." They clinked glasses and she sat as she sipped from hers. He took a small sip from his and after identifying all the ingredients; he decided that he liked the flavor. It was sweet and fruity.

Data worked with blinding speed and Harper sat beside him, periodically asking questions and making suggestions. He worked for nearly two hours before she rose to begin preparing her dinner. He continued to work as the house filled with the wonderful aroma of a freshly prepared meal. He declined her invitation to join her for dinner, so she ate in front of the TV with her plate resting on a pillow in her lap. Data knew this because he joined her to watch the news. He sat on the couch and watched the events of the day unfold.

The state of affairs on Earth in the early fall of 2002 was not promising. There were many wars brewing and some ongoing. Murders, rapes, robberies. It was all very depressing.

"Do you watch this every day?" Data asked, during something called a commercial.

"No, only about once a month or less. It never seems to change and sometimes it just gets worse. I worry that we aren't going to make it anywhere near the twenty fourth century if this keeps up. Terrorism is on the rise and no one feels safe anymore. It's hard to sleep at night if you have to worry that you could be killed in your bed before morning."

While he did not sleep as such, Data could relate to the sentiment. He took notice that even some of the commercials showed violent scenes or just ones of questionable taste. He decided to get up and return to the computer. Harper watched him as he walked by her.

She changed the channel to the educational stations she had shown him earlier. He could hear her grumble that she had already seen all of the selections. With a groan of disgust, she got up and headed for the kitchen. He heard sounds that indicated cleaning in progress. He did like that she was neat. Her house was a bit dusty in some places, there were stacks of cases that contained more discs on the wooded frame that held the TV, but everything else in her house was orderly and clean.

She stayed in the kitchen for just under a half an hour and then asked if he needed anything from her at the moment. He considered saying 'Yes, a way home' but reconsidered.

"Are you retiring for the evening?" he asked.

"No, I'm gonna take a bath. Should take about forty-five minutes to an hour. I like to soak. If the phone rings, just ignore it. Gee, I'm gonna have to wear a robe...that's going to be a little strange." She sounded like she was talking to herself.

"You do not usually wear clothing in the evening?" He tried not to sound too distressed.

Harper turned about to look at him, as she had been walking down the hall towards her room. "Yes, I wear clothes. I just meant that.... after my bath I put on my bedclothes and I live alone so I don't have need of a robe. The only visitor I ever have is my daughter and I don't wear a robe in front of her." Data nodded his understanding and turned back to his work.

The hour past and Harper did not return. Even in Data's time, there were terrible stories about people falling asleep in the bath and drowning. This thought caused him concern, even though he was uncertain as to how much his could trust this woman.

Data had not even walked down this hall in the hours he had been here. Four doors lined the hall, two on the left, one at the end and one on the right. Only the one on the right was closed. The two on the left were bedrooms. The first was plain but adequately appointed. The second was decorated in rather a feminine style. He assumed that this had been her daughter's room. The small room on the end was a bathroom, but not the one Harper was using.

Data could not hear any water running, but neither could he hear any movement. Listening carefully, he believed he could detect the sound of breathing, but there was music playing and he was not certain. He did not wish to invade her privacy, but surely just a knock to ensure that she was well...

He knocked...and heard a gasp from the other side of the door.

"Miss Harper?" he called, nervously. He could hear hurried footfalls.

"Yes, is something wrong, Commander?" she called back.

"I was just concerned that you had not returned. It is a known fact that an annual average of 189 deaths are attributed to drowning in...bathtubs in your time." He could now hear a soft laugh.

"I didn't drown. I just made a disturbing discovery." She told him through the closed door.

"What, if I may ask?" he called back to her.

"I no longer own a robe."