Tenel Jade

Disclaimer: None of these characters or events are mine, they all belong to Paramount, yada-yada-yada. Don't sue me, please!

Author's Note: This is one of my first fanfic pieces, and I wrote it on the spur of the moment out of a half-formed idea, so don't be too harsh, please! Also, it takes place shortly after Insurrection.

Spoilers: Episodes: Skin of Evil, The Naked Now, Measure of a Man, possible others. Other: Movies; Generations, First Contact, and Insurrection. Books; All books with a post-Generations publication date.

Rating: PG

Data prowled his quarters, nervous about the upcoming mission. Then, stopping abruptly, he pondered his situation. Three years ago, he realized, he wouldn't have even been capable of an emotion like this. And now all he wanted was for it to subside. He could, of course, simply turn off his emotion chip, but he was endeavoring to live more like the humans which he so admired, and if that meant leaving it on, even when it produced uncomfortable sensations, that was what Data would do.

The door to his quarters chimed, and Data turned to answer it, even though he knew the computer could hear him just as well when he was facing the opposite wall. "Come," he addressed the door.

The panels hissed open, and Geordi La Forge stepped into the room. Data's best friend wore the typical blue uniform coverall over the yellow shirt that marked him as an engineer, and chief engineer at that.

Geordi stepped farther towards Data, and, as usual, delivered the news without preamble.  "This is for you." He held out a slim holodeck chip, which Data knew contained a program that wasn't accessible from the database.

"What is this?" He queried. Geordi didn't usually have much free time on his hands, so Data knew his friend probably hadn't created it. Wondering where it was from, Data also pondered the fact that his friend looked extraordinarily uncomfortable.

Geordi quickly looked at the floor before returning his gaze to Data. "Tasha gave this to me a few weeks before she was killed. She told me that if and when she was killed, on duty or off, to give this too you when you understood emotions."

Data's eyes locked on the chip, a flood of emotion pouring over him. But he took the program from Geordi's hand, and continued to just look at it for a long moment.

"Thank you Geordi, for keeping this for me."

Geordi nodded, and with typical perception, stepped out of the room to give Data some time alone with his thoughts.


            As soon as Data got off duty, he headed for the holodeck. But when he found himself in Ten-Forward, instead, he realized that his subconscious mind knew he needed to talk to someone. As he sought out Guinan, the hostess recognized Data's personal dilemma, and sat herself easily by his side, waiting for him to speak.

            Data fidgeted, but eventually realized he should just get right to the point. "Guinan," he began. "I have a…dilemma."

            The hostess/bartender sat back in her seat, and waited for him to continue. Data fished the chip out of his breast pocket, and showed it to her. There was a moment of silence as Guinan waited for Data to continue. Eventually, he did.

 "Lieutenant Yar left this with Geordi, and told him to keep it until I 'understood emotions.'"

            Guinan nodded. "Have you opened the program yet, Data?"

            Data shook his head. "No. I wish to, but I am afraid of what I might find."

            "Well, you can't know what you'll find until you look, can you?"

            Data looked more closely at Guinan. Her wise brown eyes caught his, and gave him the boost of courage he needed. He stood from the table, and started to leave. But before he got too far, he turned and said, "Thank you."


            Once at the holodeck, Data slipped the chip into a slot, and engaged a privacy lock. He then stepped into the holodeck, not entirely sure what he would find.

            Once in the bare yellow and black room, the doors safely shut behind him, he gathered his courage, and pulled himself together. These emotions weren't easy to keep a handle on, sometimes, he noticed once again.

"Computer, begin program."

            A shimmering image appeared in the middle of the deck, which slowly coalesced into a full-size figure of the late Natasha Yar. She stepped towards him, arms at her sides, looking not a day older than she had been when she had died.

            She was in uniform, as Data would always remember her. Her eyes were glowing, and she was smiling. Data fought back the urge to cry.

            The image began to speak. "Data, if you're seeing this, then I'm dead. I do not know how long I've been dead, or how long Geordi has waited to give you this program. But I had a few things to say to you, that I knew you weren't ready for."

            Tasha's image stepped closer, though she was still a good six feet away. "Data, I know that I never said much, never did much. But…I loved you. And I still do. And though I wouldn't admit it, that time we had together under the affects of that horrific disease, was one of the best times in my life.

            "I refused to acknowledge how I felt, partly because I was afraid of getting hurt, and partly because I didn't think you were ready. I hope I did the right thing, in not telling you then, but now that you can understand what makes people feel this way, I hope again I'm doing the right thing, this time, by telling you the truth.

            "Data, the time we had together, as colleagues and as friends, and for that one all-too-brief time, as lovers, were the best times in my life. After the hell I grew up in, it wasn't too hard for things to be better than my childhood memories, but the best times were the ones when I was with you. The times when I was truly happy were when I was by your side.

            "Data, please forgive me for not telling you the truth, all this time, but I know that now you aren't ready, and that someday, you'll thank me for this. Remember, Data, love is stronger than death, and even in death, I will watch over you and love you for eternity."

            The image faded, and Data fought the illogical urge to call her back, to grab her, and try to keep her from leaving. But there was no point in any of that, the real person was gone, and the image that had just disappeared was no more than a projection of light and forcefields.

            But, still, the real Tasha had programmed this, and the real Tasha was definitely more than light and forcefields. When she had died, Data had been unable to clarify his feelings, though, by all his programming, he should have been numb.

            By the specifications of Data's programming, he should have felt nothing. He should have been unable to experience the flood of emotions that he had felt upon Tasha's death. But little by little, Data was beginning to realize that even then, he had had feelings, they had just been much too jumbled and buried to be recognizable.

            Now, as Data's real, honest emotions threatened to overwhelm him, he stepped from the holodeck, and strode down the hallway. The crew he passed gave him a wide berth, feeling the unwise nature of a confrontation right then.

            Data said nothing, looked at nothing, and saw nothing until he reached his quarters. Of course, his optical processors took in everything that he passed, but he experienced none of it, and in that way, he was blinder than any blind man could ever be.

            Like the robot that he aspired to be more than, Data made his way to his quarters, and then his bedroom, where he dug out the hologram of his former crewmate, friend, and lover, and simply stared at it for long moments. Then, with a flick of his finger, the image disappeared, just like Tasha had from Data's life, much too early.

            Wandering to his window, Data looked at the vastness of space, and wondered, illogically, where Tasha was watching him from. Then, seeing a speck in the corner of his vision, which was not on any astronomical chart he knew of, Data let his imagination have free reign. The logical part of his mind, the android part, told him that the speck was a nebula, a comet, or some other space phenomenon, but Data dismissed that belief, and listened to what he wished to hear.

            Focusing his gaze on the bright spot in the sky, Data whispered to his beloved. "My precious Tasha. I will listen for you eternally. And I must tell you…I, too will love you from the depths of my…soul…forever and for always."

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