A/N: This fic's been around for at least five years now. I'm revamping it to the best of my abilities. Star Trek belongs
Ensign Jolene Charter glanced at the pad in her hand once more, and continued to navigate the ship's system of decks and hallways. A concise list of her duties and assignments aboard the USS Enterprise was projected on the touchscreen, listed beneath her head shot and the capitalized words ENSIGN CHARTER, JOLENE A. She couldn't stop looking it.
It reminded her that she belonged here, even after barely graduating from the academy, almost a year ago. She looked around, at the simple, yet ornate structure of the walls, at the other crew members. She liked the way the halls were bright and spacious, not dimly lit and cramped, like the pathways on the USS Ataraxia, her first assignment.
Something caught her attention. She stopped, and watched as a small house-cat came sauntering down the side of the hall. Without thinking, she stopped and moved to pick the cat up.
"I can handle Spot quite sufficiently, miss."
Jolene stopped where she was and looked to the owner of the oddly monotonous voice, blinking in confusion. A pale man dressed in standard uniform knelt in front of her, picking up the cat. She glanced at the rank on his collar; Lieutenant Commander.
"I... I beg your pardon, commander. I didn't know he was yours."
The man raised his eyebrows in an abrupt, mechanical motion. "Due to his frequent escapes, he is something of a celebrity on the lower decks. Have you served here long, Ensign...?"
"Ensign Charter. No sir, I transferred here this morning."
Data inclined his head. "Most interesting. I am Data," he said, offering a hand. Jolene took it gently, and found herself surprised by how cold he was.
"Where are you stationed, Ensign Charter?"
"I'm assisting Dr. Crusher for the next few weeks in sickbay, sir."
Data nodded. "Did you chose to be on the Enterprise?"
"I was offered the position and I took it gladly, sir."
"A wise choice, I believe," he affirmed. "You have duties to attend to, correct?" He asked.
Jolene nodded. "I'm expected in Sickbay momentarily," she said.
"Ah," Data said. "In that case, ensign, you should go. Welcome to the Enterprise," he added conversationally, and began to turn back to face the direction he'd come from.
"Wait," Jolene said, placing a hand on his arm. The cat in his arms looked at her with disdain as Data's eyes shifted from her hand on his arm to her face, looking at her with an alarmingly frank expression as he waited for her to express herself. She realized, with a growing feeling that this man wasn't all he seemed, his eyes were a strange color - sort of an artificial gold, as though he was wearing unusual contacts.
"Would it be too much trouble to help me find Sickbay? I don't understand the way the computer gives directions here yet," she said. Data frowned, tilting his head.
"Ensign, the computer was programmed to be -"
"Please?" She said, her eyebrows drawing together slightly, instantly transforming her expression in to one of gentle pleading. Data seemed to take a moment to consider the idea, and then nodded, his shoulders raising in a hint of a noncommittal shrug.
"I will accompany you as far as the turbolift, ensign. I must return Spot to our quarters."
"That's wonderful, thank you," Jolene said, her green eyes sparkling. Data smiled for the first time - a slight, upwards twitch of the lips more than a smile, but a smile nonetheless - and briskly began to walk down the hall.
Jolene let her hand slide off his arm, as she walked by his side. As she walked, she briefly made eye contact with a tall woman with closely cropped ash-blonde hair, who appeared to have merely glanced at the pair on her way past them.
Jolene didn't give her a second thought.