Data, Lal, and Lore
I love my brother, don't get me wrong. He did reactivate me and fix my malfunction so I could mix with humans and not hate them. That took a lot after what I did (which I seriously regret now). Also, his emotion chip has vastly improved his personality. But since I obviously can't admit how grateful I am, I use his new emotions to my advantage. It's so much more fun to tease him about things. Like his daughter, my niece, Lal.
Lal is great, mostly because she surpassed Data in speech and emotion. Contractions aren't that difficult, I'm still wondering why Data can't use them. And as for the emotions, you'd think he'd laugh at my jokes now, right? But I think he still has trouble. Lal doesn't, and she even laughs at my jokes and gets her father to lighten up. As family goes, she's pretty good.
So one day, I'm using Data's computer (Data and I share his quarters because Picard still doesn't trust me. It's not so bad considering that neither of us sleeps and most of the time Data's on duty.) I'm scanning through some ship schematics when Lal walks in.
"Have you seen my father? I need to speak to him." She says.
"What kind of a hello is that?" I retort.
"Hello, Uncle Lore. But really, it's important."
"So important you can't tell your dear uncle?"
She sighs and rolls her eyes. Usually I like it when someone else in my family perfects a human gesture, but I could do without the eye roll.
"I don't want to have to say it twice."
Data emerges from the next room. "What do you need to tell me?" he asks.
"Father, you remember Ensign Jay Powell?"
"Yes, your friend."
"Well, he's asked me to go to Ten-Forward tonight with him. Just the two of us."
Data says it as if the concept is completely unfamiliar to him.
"Yes, Father, a date. You sound surprised." She replies calmly.
"It is…unexpected." He says.
"May I go, Father?"
Data's mouth opens and closes. I take over.
"Of course you can. I assert my authority as your uncle."
"Yes, you may go." Data says belatedly. He looks a little, how do I put it, nervous. As if he was going on the date, not Lal. Data'd told me about his few romantic encounters. None had ended well.
"You really don't like this." I tell him.
"It…" he trails off.
"Just because your love life has been, well, less than successful, doesn't mean you should stop Lal from doing better."
Data takes the time to glare at me (effectively proving that theory) before racing out the door.
I don't laugh. Or at least, I try to suppress it. As a counselor, I have to respect the emotions of my clients. But when that client is your android friend coming to you with a common human problem, it's very difficult not to laugh.
I manage to collect myself and ask "Are you afraid for Lal's safety?" Data shakes his head.
"No, she can take care of herself."
I run through the list of reasons: her growing up too fast, worried for her feelings, the fact that his romances haven't worked out. He sighs when I mention the last one.
"Lore pointed that out too, though he was not as kind."
"Lore needs to be more considerate." Data has fragile, new feelings and sometimes I worry Lore is going to really hurt Data with one of his sarcastic comments.
"He was correct, though. I think…perhaps interspecies romance is not a good idea."
"Just because it hasn't worked out for you doesn't mean it won't work for Lal. You could teach her from your mistakes."
Data bows his head as if he's thinking about what I said. Give him a mathematical equation and he'll work it out in two seconds, but emotional thinking takes him as long as a human. I give him his time.
Finally, he raises his head. "I know what to do?"
"What?" I prompt.
"I will supervise."
My brain goes to red alert. "Data-"
He cuts me off. "Ten-Forward is a public place. I will choose a table as far away from them as possible and keep watch."
"Keep watch for what?"
"It will make me feel better." Data says decisively. I decide not to argue.
My first date. I've known Jay for a long time, but he's never done anything like this. I met him when I was working in one of the science labs. He dropped a (fortunately empty) specimen container on my foot. I picked it up and explained that androids don't feel pain. He continued apologizing, however, and we began a conversation and a friendship. And now this.
I take my seat opposite him. We order drinks and Guinan brings them to us. As she sets mine down, she gives me a knowing smile. I do like Guinan.
After we get our drinks, an awkward silence falls. I feel like I should say something. All that comes to mind is "How is your latest project going?"
Immediately after I say it, I feel mechanical. I'm on a date and I ask about scientific research.
Fortunately, he picks up the topic and we spend a happy 5.2 minutes discussing it. But once we've exhausted the topic, we lapse back into silence, which feels strange, since normally Jay and I can talk together for long periods of time.
I glance around Ten-Forward and notice my father sitting at a table as far away from me as possible. I try to discreetly gesture "Go away", but he doesn't notice or see it as a reason to leave. I signal a little less discreetly, and Jay notices.
"Your father." He says.
"Yes." I reply.
"Nervous because of your first date?"
"He went speechless when I told him."
Jay laughed. "My mother would be too." Then his expression seemed to droop. "That's not the only thing she wouldn't like about this."
"What is it?" I ask, trying to sound concerned. I lean forward, even though I can hear him fine.
"I shouldn't have brought it up." He says.
"If it will impede our relationship, then I should know." I say very gently. I put my hand on top of his. It seems he needs the gesture of affection.
He grips my hand and takes a deep breath. "Admiral Haftel—well, you know him. He's—He's my grandfather on my mother's side. He may have decided that you're a being with rights, but he taught his children differently earlier and my mother…"
I act quickly to reassure him. "You obviously don't share her views. I won't hold it against you."
He smiles, though I can see tears in his eyes. "Lal, you're so kind."
As if on an impulse, he grabs my other hand. Then, he leans forward and kisses me.
It takes minimal time (by human standards) for me to respond. But for me as a surprised android, it feels like a long time before I respond to the kiss. I compare the kiss to my first one with Commander Riker, and I find I like this one better. Probably because Commander Riker was completely confused, I was holding him up by the front of his uniform, and there was no meaning. But this kiss had meaning.
Good for Lal. Probably doing better than her father already. I looked to see his reaction.
I had to clap my hand over my mouth to stop from giving away my hiding place behind the bar. Data's body tensed, his eyes widened, and he blinked several times. His hands clenched.
He'd taken it hard. Though, perhaps he was thinking about what Jay was telling her before the kiss.
They kissed again, this time Lal initiating it, and while he was starting to relax, as soon their lips met, he was at it again.
I shook my head in a you-can't-pick-your-family way. Guinan passed by and saw me shake my head. She gave me a scolding a look and began scrubbing the counter.
She didn't blow my cover, though. I'm technically supposed to be in Data's security-locked quarters if I'm not with him, but since we're in the same room I think we're all right. If I started attacking people, he'd be able to stop me. Though I've assured him and his friends many times that my psychopathic tendencies are gone.
I peeked out over the top of the bar. Data was sitting closer to me than Lal was, so he spotted me. His expression grew angry, and he went over to me and dragged me out.
"What was that for?" I asked when we got back to Data's quarters.
"You were spying on Lal." He said.
"So were you!" I retorted.
"I am her father!"
"I'm her uncle! And besides, it didn't hurt me to watch you almost blow a circuit."
"I looked that stupid?"
I took a chance. "Yes."
Data opened his mouth like he wanted to say something, but I spoke before he could.
"Why does this bother you so much anyway? Is it your less-than-stellar love life?"
Data found words. "May I remind you, Lore, you do not even have a love life?"
Ouch. I'd hoped he'd forget that.
"Being deactivated for most of one's existence-"
"—because one is mentally unstable, violent, psychopathic, human-hating, arrogant-"
"—tends to cut down on the dating opportunities."
I looked at my brother with respect and (though I'd never admit it to him) a bit of offense. "Mentally unstable, violent, psychopathic, human-hating, and arrogant? I do like to see an evil side to you, brother."
"You are the evil twin, Lore, and you always will be." He snapped.
"Are you angry because, if I'd had the chance, I'd be more successful than you?"
That seemed to get through, and his eyebrows came together. Strangely enough, he didn't seem angry anymore.
"You are right. You would have." He sighed. "I am not very good with emotions, while you are experienced. Emotions are very important in romance." He looked like he was resigned to being not quite human.
"You seemed pretty emotional earlier when you were listing all my flaws." I said, in an effort to cheer him up.
He smiled a little. "Anger is not the best of human emotions."
"You underestimate yourself, brother. Someday, you might do as well as me."
Data put his face in his hands. "It almost seemed like you were going to be kind." He said. "Then you found it necessary to include your ego."
"I am the evil twin, you said so yourself." I told him.
He looked up. "I still mean it." He assured me.
Good. We were back to normal.
"Father, I saw you drag Uncle Lore out of Ten-Forward. Why?" Lal asked when she returned later that evening.
"He was invading your privacy." I explained. Something about her tone was making me feel guilty.
"So were you." She pointed out. "In fact, I would say you are more at fault."
"Why? I am your father and I was concerned for you."
"I can take care of myself. Neither of you had to come. Only, Father, you were more obvious."
She was clearly correct. I was being an overprotective parent.
"I am sorry." I told her.
"Me too," Lore said quickly. "But more importantly, how did the rest of the date go? Will we be seeing more of him?"
"He asked me to be his girlfriend. I said yes."
For 0.2 seconds, I felt like I should object. But after that, I decided that perhaps Lal would do better. After all, she has emotions.
"Congratulations. However, do not ask me for romantic advice."
Lore laughed. "That's the smartest thing you said all evening, besides when you called me mentally unstable, violent, psychopathic, human-hating, and arrogant."
"You called him what?" Lal whirled around to face me. "Have you two been arguing?"
"Yes." I answered truthfully, then added to Lore "I thought I was the parent." He gave me an almost-sympathetic look.
"But we're good friends now, aren't we?" Lore said, clapping a hand on my shoulder.
"Yes, very good friends." I agreed.
Lal gave us a suspicious look but let it alone for the rest of the night.