Star Trek: The Next Generation, Geordi LaForge, Lt. Commander Data, and the U.S.S. Enterprise are owned by Paramount. I'm just playing in their sandbox. This was written for the LiveJournal Fanfic 100 challenge. I chose a world I'm reasonably familiar with, and a character I've never explored.


A gentle snow was falling outside my father's second - third? - home in Georgetown, Colorado. I remember when he bought the place I was convinced he was descending into premature dementia. His partner, Kevin, had also been concerned for Dad's sanity. After all, the two of them already owned a cliff-side condo in Mars Colony and a beach house on the resort planet Risa. Dad had explained that he'd fallen in love with the tiny mountain town when he'd been in Aspen years before for some kind of food and wine festival, and wanted to be part of a typical, Terran community.

It was never uttered out loud, but I think my father had purchased the vintage pink Edwardian-style home on the hill above the elementary school, because he dreamed I'd eventually marry and have kids, and live there where he and Kevin could easily visit.

Well, the marriage and children hadn't happened yet, and Kevin tended to avoid the place because he was extremely susceptible to altitude sickness, but I'd adopted the Pink Palace (as I'd dubbed the old house) as my go-to getaway spot, so it made sense that when my boss at FNN had given me less than a week to uproot my cosmopolitan San Francisco life and relocate to Starfleet's flagship, I would have my boxed-up belongings sent here.

It also made sense that during the three-day period between the time the Enterprise arrived back in Earth's orbit, and the time she was meant to leave again - this time with me aboard - I would invite my boyfriend - lover? (the first term feels silly once you're past thirty, and the second too casual somehow) - Geordi, and his friend Data to enjoy small-town life. Besides, I'd promised a couple of days of home-cooked meals, and while I knew at least one of them was expecting the Italian food my dads were famous for, there were things I knew how to do with venison that were simply life-altering.

The living room comm-system crackled to life, and I heard Data's perfect diction announce, "This is the shuttle Hawking requesting permission to land. Please acknowledge."

I tabbed the mic to its 'on' position, and answered formally, "Permission granted, Hawking. There's a shuttle pad in the back yard. Mind the basketball hoop."

Data answered with something perfunctory, and I grabbed my jacket from the back of a chair, and went out back to meet them. Predictably, Geordi's first words to me weren't at all romantic. "Basketball hoop?" he asked, chuckling. "Tony put a basketball hoop on the shuttle pad?"

I shook my head at him. "Of course not," I said. "He simply allows people like yourselves to land on the basketball court." I let him pull me into a quick hug, then, though it threatened to become longer than a mere greeting. Feeling snow fall down the back of my open jacket, I pulled away. "Come inside," I said. "We can have proper hugs all around where it's warm and dry." I glanced over at Data, "You too, please. Don't want your circuits to ice over or anything." I was teasing him, but he seemed to understand that it was meant in a friendly way.

"That is unlikely," he said, "I am well insulated. However, I agree that relocating to a warmer, drier venue would be advisable."

I favored the pale, gold man with a grin, and turned around, "This way, boys," I said. "Don't forget to wipe your feet."

Hours later, we'd feasted on venison stew and freshly-baked cheddar-dill bread, and had taken up comfortable positions on the living room sofas, with a warm fire popping and snapping cheerfully in the Franklin stove. Geordi and I were sharing the full sized couch, while Perry the Chihuahua had taken a liking to Data, and graciously allowed him to provide a lap and absent-minded petting on the loveseat.

"Okay, Kat," Geordi said, his voice completely serious even though I was leaning against his chest. "Cozy mountain hideaway aside, you brought us here so we could discuss your new assignment in relative privacy. What's going on?"

"I'm not sure," I said. "But I'm pretty certain I was right, and sending me off on your ship isn't just because they're punishing me with a string of fluffy personal interest pieces about you lot. For one thing, I searched the news database and the FNN file morgue, and my boss, Nethra K'krelyn, doesn't seem to exist."

"So a deeper investigation into her identity is first on the list," Geordi said. "Data can look into that once we're back on the ship."

I glanced across the room at the android officer who confirmed, "Starfleet records may contain more information than news-net files," even as he maintained a rhythmic stroking of my dog's belly. "It is curious that she was able to arrange your travel documentation without raising any red flags about her own identity."

"It probably means she's better connected than someone in her position normally would be - or should be," I said. "No offense, but I'm really concerned that someone within Starfleet is calling the shots, and I'm uncomfortable with the idea of any organization having that much control over the press."

"A free press is a crucial element of any open society," Data agreed. "You are right to be concerned."

"Am I right to trust you, though?" I asked, not looking at Geordi, because I literally couldn't, or at his friend. "I mean, I love you Geordi, and Data, the G-man here assures me that you're beyond reproach, but…"

"Kat," Geordi said, his voice filled with calm assurance. "I promise you that neither Data nor I is any more comfortable with the idea of Starfleet - or any other organization - pulling FNN's strings as if it were a puppet. Captain Picard has always had a good working relationship with the press - we all have - and as much as we're sometimes unhappy about what gets reported, we all know the truth is important." He paused, running his hands through my hair. "Let's leave off for the night, and tackle a better to-do list in the morning. It's our last leave for a while, and I haven't spent an evening snowed in by a crackling fire in years."

"We are hardly 'snowed in'," Data began, but Geordi must have given him a look, because he cut himself off. "However, I, too, am looking forward to a quiet evening." He paused a moment before asking, "May I use your comm-system? I am overdue for a regularly scheduled call."

"There's a more private extension in the study on the second floor," I said. "The codes are on a laminated sheet in the top right-hand desk drawer. Help yourself." I watched as he extricated himself from Perry's demanding attention and left the room, but waited til I heard him climb the stairs and shut the study door before asking softly, "So is he a digital Don Juan, or something, with a girl in every port?"

I could feel Geordi's quiet chuckle against my back. "No chance. But there is a woman he's close to. They've known each other for years, but their relationship has begun evolving lately."

I relaxed further against his chest, "Sounds familiar," I said.

"That it does," he agreed.

We spent the next several minutes in companionable silence, watching soft white snow fall outside the double paned glass window. Maybe there was a storm of another kind waiting once my assignment officially started, but at least I wouldn't be heading into it without backup, and for now, I was determined to enjoy the moment.

The next morning, the three of us made a to-do list for when we were all on the Enterprise, and then we bundled up in warm clothing, and walked on freshly-plowed streets down the hill to the main street of town for breakfast at one of the oldest restaurants to remain in continuous operation on Earth.

The Daily Pretzel, as it had always been known, had begun its life in the late nineteenth century, when Georgetown was a tiny speck on the Colorado map, just beginning its existence as the home of the Ajax silver mine's administrators, as well as a good many of the miners. Since then, the town had evolved into a close-knit resort community, and the Pretzel had gone through many incarnations - pub, bar, bistro, white tablecloth restaurant, etc. - until finally settling into the neighborhood diner it was today. The false front of the building (original) sported a light dusting of last night's snow, and the sidewalk was a slushy mess, but inside, the light was bright, and the conversation made a friendly buzz. I led Geordi and Data to my favorite table for people-watching, and we had a lovely meal before heading up the mountain and over the pass to the nearest ski area.

We spent the day playing in the snow - Geordi and I were both decent skiers and Data picked up the sport with relative ease - and laughing, though, our android companion was less than thrilled when we gave up the skis for a snowball fight.

We ate lunch at the ski lodge, then returned to the house so Geordi and I could change for dinner at another historic establishment. Data took his leave of us at that point, explaining that he had an 'appointment' with a 'friend' in San Francisco.

"You mean," I translated, "you have a hot date with the woman you called last night."

"Kat," Data said, with a slight head tilt that I'd come to realize meant he was teasing me, "I do not 'kiss and tell.' Thank you for your hospitality. I will contact you late tomorrow evening to arrange your transfer to the ship."

I managed to block the android's egress long enough to surprise him with a quick hug. "Thank you," I whispered. "For being such a good friend to both of us." I paused a second, then added, "And if you ever want to bring your woman-friend here, mi casa es su casa - or anyway, my father's house is yours. Everyone loves these mountains."

"I will remember that," he said. He met Geordi's gaze. "Tomorrow evening," he repeated, and in a moment he and the shuttle were gone.

Geordi and I stood in the doorway until the shuttle was long out of view, and then we closed the door. "I should change," I said, "If we're still going out. If you'd rather stay here, there's leftover stew and probably lasagna or something in the freezer."

"A quiet night at home doesn't sound like a bad idea," Geordi said. The mood shifted, and we were suddenly standing in the kitchen, kissing like a couple of horny teenagers. "I noticed that the carpet in the living room was pretty soft," he observed.

"Mmm. Ever since dad bought this place," I murmered, "I've fantasized about making love in front of that wood stove. Care to make a girl's dream come true?"

We never did get around to dinner, but in the wee hours of the morning, we learned that venison stew makes a decent breakfast.

Our last day in the mountains was spent putting the house back in order, though we did slip out for a ride on the Georgetown Loop. It's a narrow-gauge railroad that winds its way from Georgetown to Silver Plume, the next town up the track, then turns around and reverses the journey. It was restored in the late twentieth century, and turned into a tourist attraction. Now, there are special heated rails that prevent the track from freezing over, and they serve wine and hot cider on the train during the winter, but it's still a popular vacation attraction, and the view from the top of the caboose is amazing.

Outside the heated cars, though, the temperature was dropping and another round of snow was about to start falling. By the time we'd returned to the Pink Palace and packed my belongings, Data was en route, and I was ready for a warmer, less slushy existence.

I knew the next day would bring reality crashing back, but after three days surrounded by pristine white snow, I was ready for something a bit darker and grittier.

Note: For the travel-curious: Georgetown and Silver Plume are real towns, and the Daily Pretzel is a real pub/diner/restaurant, though I haven't actually been in it since I was a kid in 1977. The Georgetown Loop is a narrow gauge railroad that has been restored as a tourist attraction. I had the privilege of being one of the very first passengers when it re-opened in the 1970's (the kids of all the local merchants were invited to ride), and the top of the caboose remains my favorite seat. In summer, the train stops at the old Ajax mine, and visitors can tour the mine, then catch the next train to complete the trip. The Pink Palace, as Kat calls her dad's mountain home, is based on the historic Maxwell House (built in 1890). As kids, we were all convinced it was haunted, but now I know better. If you search for "Georgetown, Colorado Maxwell House" you can see pictures, but to my knowledge, there is no basketball court out back, and even if there was, rumors that it doubles as a shuttle pad are totally unfounded.