Data was in his quarters, painting at his easel, holding a paintbrush loaded with red ochre at arm's length. Geordi knelt on the floor nearby, flipping through the stack of finished canvases that leaned against one wall. He stopped and pulled one out, holding it in both hands. After a moment, he showed it to Data.
"Do you think about her often?" Geordi asked.
Data looked away from his easel at the painting in Geordi's hands. "Yes, I often think about Lal." He mixed red and yellow on his palette, creating a ruddy orange.
Geordi continued to study the painting. "You really captured her sweetness here. She looks like she's looking out at us, curious and shy." Geordi replaced the painting at the front of the stack. "Do you think you'll ever try again?"
Data did not look away as he worked orange into the luminous clouds of a double sunset. "I am satisfied with that painting. I destroyed my earlier attempts. That is the one that I thought best captured her."
"I meant, do you think you'll ever try to build another child again," Geordi clarified.
Data stopped and considered. "I do not know. Perhaps in the future, if further advances are made in the technology." He put down his brush and picked up a tube of paint.
Geordi had gone back to flipping through the stack of canvases. "How come you've never painted Tasha?" he asked.
Data replaced the tube of paint in its holder and put the palette aside. He joined Geordi, kneeling down on the floor. "I have painted Tasha," he replied.
"I didn't see any."
Data moved the stack apart with one finger and pulled out a canvas. "This is Tasha."
"It looks like a fireball exploding over a mountain," Geordi said.
"Yes. I attempted to represent her temper, in the style of Rigellan primitivism." Data pulled out another canvas. "This is also Tasha, in the style of Georgia O'Keeffe."
At first glance, it looked like a highly abstracted pink flower. Geordi tilted his head, and then his eyebrows went up. "Oh." He decided not to comment further.
"And this is Tasha." Data held up a small canvas depicting a half-circle of indigo around a striated disc of lighter blue in a background of white. "It is the outer rim and center of part of her iris."
"I can see that, now," said Geordi.
Data replaced the painting in the stack. "I could accurately reproduce every micrometer of Tasha's face and body from my memory records. I was familiar with her on a level that I have not repeated with any other being. However, I prefer to attempt to paint my thoughts about her, and to try to evoke a sense of her person, rather than strict representation of her physical form."
Geordi nodded. "Have you ever painted the two of you together?"
Data looked at Geordi without answering. He got up from the floor and walked to the opposite wall, touched the lock of a drawer, and pulled out a miniature canvas, some 20 centimeters square. Geordi got to his feet, and Data handed the painting to him.
It was a pencil and watercolor wash, mostly in black and orange on a starry blue ground, of a yellow-eyed raven and a blue-eyed ginger tabby kitten. The two animals were nestled close together in the crook of a tree branch, and did not appear to be predator and prey. The raven's eyes were round and blank, while the kitten's had a mix of beauty and ferocity.
"I had thought that that was Spot, when you were working on it," Geordi said.
"I used Spot as a model," Data replied.
Geordi handed the painting back to Data, who replaced it in the drawer. He keyed it shut and went back to his easel. Geordi followed him and put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "I still miss her, too, Data, even after all these years."
"Yes," Data agreed. He picked up his palette and squeezed cobalt blue onto the surface. He loaded a paintbrush with the pigment and resumed his painting.