Once More . . . With Feeling
by Sylva Dax
September 30, 1999
The U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701E eased into position at Starbase 260. The crew faced four days of much needed rest and relaxation while repair crews patched up Starfleet's battle-scarred flagship. Four days was all that could be spared as the newly formed Federation-Klingon-Romulan alliance fought desperately against Dominion forces.
"Ready?" Geordi La Forge asked as he entered Data's quarters.
The android picked up his violin case and Spot's carrying case before turning toward his friend. "Yes," he said, "I have everything I need."
Together, the two exited Data's quarters and headed for the transporter room. Most of the members of the Enterprise's crew were already on the base, enjoying the starbase's recreational facilities and the joy of just being alive. Only a skeleton crew remained on duty.
"Geordi," Data began as they approached the transporter pad, "I am curious." Standing on the transporter pad, Data looked into the pale blue eyes of the Enterprise's chief engineer. "I thought you would want to oversee the repairs to the ship."
Geordi shrugged. "Captain insisted that I get away from the ship for at least two days," he said before focusing his optical implants on the transporter technician. "Energize."
Counselor Deanna Troi sat beside Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the base's auditorium, along with many of the available crew members of the Enterprise-E and the U.S.S. Magellan, and other residents of the starbase. The Magellan was also undergoing much-needed repairs after a few heavy skirmishes in Cardassian held space.
This concert had been a good idea. Deanna bathed in the flood of jubilant emotions Will Riker's jazz band elicited. Warm emotions of her own bubbled up as she watched the first officer of the Enterprise play his trombone. Imzadi, beloved; he would always be her first love. She felt herself blushing when Will winked at her from the stage. Though the empathic half-Betazoid/half-human counselor was unable to fully communicate telepathically, Will always seemed to be aware of her moods, sometimes her very thoughts. Hmm, maybe it was time for them to renew their . . . She forced the thought from her mind and concentrated on the music.
Data and the rest of his string quartet entered the stage that Riker's band had just vacated to the enthusiastic applause of the audience. He was nervous. Maybe he should deactivate his emotion chip. No. His positronic brain enabled him to accurately recreate the performances of the galaxy's greatest musicians. His technical ability was beyond reproach, but music was more than technique. It was passion. Pinocchio may not have turned into a real boy, but the Tin Man had received his heart.
Midway through the overture of Nebula, composed by the almost immortal Flint shortly after the death of his beloved android companion, Rayna, he saw her. Jenna D'Sora, now a security officer on the Magellan, met his gaze and smiled wistfully. A few years ago, Data's inability to feel genuine emotion brought their brief romance to an end. Soon after the destruction of the Enterprise-D, Jenna transferred to the Magellan. Strange feelings welled up inside him at the sight of Jenna, then flowed with the music his fingers evoked.
As Data moved into his solo, Deanna closed her eyes as the bittersweet melody filled more than one heart with longing. There was a new dimension to Data's playing. It went beyond the written score on the music stand that Data had no need to consult. The tragic love story of the lovely android torn between her love for James Kirk and the man who had given her life had become a popular holoplay since Doctor Leonard McCoy's personal log regarding the incident had been opened to the public. Flint's Nebula became an integral part of the holoplay's musical score. Data played from his heart.
"Data," Geordi said, placing his glass of synthenol, the Ferengi nonintoxicating alternative to alcohol-based beverages, on the table before him, "I've never heard you play so well."
"It was inspired," Riker insisted as he typically straddled his chair.
Data sat with Geordi, Troi, and Riker in the base's recreational lounge. Disappointment gripped him. He had expected to see Jenna after the concert, but she was no where to be found.
"Data, are you all right?" Deanna asked him with concern. She was gradually becoming use to the off-and-on nature of Data's emotions. She'd noted that Data had kept his emotion chip activated since reaching Starbase 260. Perhaps he was having more trouble with the chip or the necessary adjustment to dealing with new emotions.
"Why do you ask, Counselor?"
"You seem distracted," she answered, turning her gentle, dark eyes on him. "Would you like to talk about it?"
"Actually, Counselor," Data said, meeting the concerned gazes of his friends with his amber one, "I would like to ask for some advice." Data paused. "As you have probably noticed, I have activated my emotion chip for the duration of our stay on Starbase 260. Initially, I was curious to see if playing the violin with the chip activated would cause a perceptible difference."
"I'll say it did," Geordi chimed in.
"During the overture of Nebula, I saw Jenna D'Sora sitting in the audience. While this did not surprise me since I knew that she transferred to the Magellan after we returned to Starfleet Headquarters on Earth following the crash, I was surprised at my reaction to her presence."
"And that was?" Deanna prompted.
"As you all know, Jenna and I had a brief relationship a few years ago. Despite the fact that I had made a thorough study of human male/female interpersonal relationships and created a subroutine to govern my relationship with Jenna, Jenna found our relationship to be unsatisfactory. She was not able to accept my inability to respond emotionally to her."
Riker leaned forward, resting the back of his chair precariously against the table. "Data, are you thinking about giving it another try with Jenna?"
Data looked at Riker with surprise. "Why, yes, Commander, that is precisely what I would like to do. Now that I am capable of emotion, I would like to try the relationship again."
"Uh, Data, are you sure you want to do this now?" Geordi asked. "We're only going to be here for the next four days."
"Hello, Data," a soft voice interrupted. "Commanders."
Data, Geordi, and Riker immediately came to their feet, Data and Riker dwarfing the slender blonde woman. Deanna smiled up at Lieutenant Jenna D'Sora.
"Hi, Jenna," Geordi greeted her.
"Jenna, we were just talking about you," Data said guilelessly.
"You were?" Jenna asked in surprise.
"Uh, yeah," Geordi quickly answered before Data had a chance to open his mouth. "Data was just telling us that he saw you in the audience."
"Yes," Data confirmed and started to explain the nature of their discussion regarding Jenna.
"It's good to see you again, Jenna," Deanna told her, smoothly heading Data off.
"Magellan's gain, is definitely our loss," Riker said, pouring on his usual charm.
Jenna tilted her head up to meet Riker's eyes. "Thank you, Commander. I just wanted to stop by and let you know how much I enjoyed the concert." Jenna's gaze encompassed both Riker and Data.
"I'm glad you enjoyed it," Riker said with a smile.
"Data, I've never known you to play with such...," Jenna said, faltering when she almost said the word "feeling". "Such depth," she concluded.
"Actually, this is the first time that I have played before an audience with my emotion chip activated."
His emotion chip! Just prior to the Enterprise's fateful encounter with Soran, the Nexus, and the Duras sisters, Data had installed and activated the emotion chip his creator, Noonien Soong, had created for him. After the ship crashed on Veridian III, her superior, Lieutenant Commander Worf, kept his security people busy until the crew was rescued and returned to Earth. She had no opportunity to speak to Data before her transfer.
"I must confess," Data continued, "that I was not totally prepared for the feelings of anxiety I experienced as we walked onto the stage."
Jenna smiled along with the others. Somehow, the idea of Data being nervous appealed to her.
"Strangely, those feelings stayed with me until the middle of the overture," Data added.
"Then you lost yourself in the music," Riker stated, recalling his own musical experiences.
In confusion, Data's head tilted to the side. "No, Commander, at no time was I lost. I recall the measure precisely. At the exact moment that I saw Jenna sitting in the audience, I played the second note of the 23rd measure," Data explained. "It was at that point that I was able to discern the passion of the music and no longer felt nervous."
Riker and Troi exchanged glances while Geordi ducked his head to hide his amusement. Jenna looked at Data uncertainly. Was he saying what she thought he was saying?
"Commander," Deanna addressed Riker, "I believe you promised me a stroll through the arboretum."
"Hmm," Riker focussed on Deanna. He'd promised no such thing. Imzadi. "Ah, yes, I believe I did." With a nod to the others, he took Deanna's arm. "Shall we?" Deanna waved as Riker led her away.
"Well," Geordi said, suddenly the third wheel, "I'd better get going. I have to go over a few adjustments with the repair crew."
Data looked from Jenna to Geordi. "But, Geordi, I-"
"Don't worry about it, Data," Geordi interrupted quickly. "You and Jenna have a good time. I'll see you." With that, Geordi made his way out of the lounge.
Jenna laughed at the obvious ploy of Data's friends.
"Excuse me, Jenna," he said, perplexed by her laughter, "did I miss something?"
"No, Data, you didn't miss a thing. Shall we sit down?" she asked, indicating the now vacant chairs.
"After they were both seated, a momentary silence ensued, neither knowing how to proceed. Jenna searched Data's pale android features, looking for subtle differences in his expression.
"How have you been, Jenna?" Data asked. The years and stress from the ongoing war with the Dominion and their Cardassian allies had added a few more lines to Jenna's face. Data found himself wanting to smooth away those care lines from her lovely face. While he had always been able to appreciate aesthetic qualities of a being's face, none had ever been able to evoke the warm feelings welling up within him. "You look more lovely than I remembered."
Jenna caught her breath. She looked deeply into Data's amber eyes. "Is this another subroutine, Data?"
"No, Jenna," Data answered, "I have never deleted the original subroutine. I have interfaced it with my emotion chip. This is the first time that I have done so. I would like to see if the interface would make a difference in the resumption of our romantic relationship."
"Oh, I see." Disappointment swept over Jenna. She had no intentions of being a guinea pig for Data's experiments with his new toy. "Look, Data, it was nice seeing you again, but I don't see any point to our trying to pick up where we left off. Nothing's changed and, frankly, I have better things to do than participate in this...this experiment of yours." Jenna finished on her feet. Without another word, she left Data sitting at the table blinking in confusion.
"So, Data, how did it go with Jenna?" Geordi asked, joining Data in the temporary quarters they shared on Starbase 260.
Continuing to absently pet Spot, Data turned to his friend. "I am afraid that it did not go well. Jenna became upset when I suggested that we resume our relationship. She left."
"Oh, wow, I'm sorry Data," Geordi said. "Any idea what made her so upset?"
"I told her that she was more lovely than I remembered," Data started.
"And that's what made her upset?
"I do not believe so," Data continued. "She then asked me if this was another subroutine. I told her that I had not deleted the old subroutine but had interfaced it with my emotion chip."
"Was that it, Data?" Geordi asked. "I still don't see why she should get upset."
"I then told her that I would like to see if the interface would make a difference in the resumption of our romantic relationship," Data added. "That is when Jenna rose from the table and said that she did not have time to participate in my experiment." Data tilted his head inquiringly. "Geordi, I do not recall mentioning any experiments to Jenna."
"Oh, Data," Geordi said, shaking his head. "Don't you see? You made it sound as though you were conducting an experiment with the interface between your emotion chip and the romance subroutine."
"Thank you, Geordi," Data said, smiling at his friend. "I will have to find a clearer way to express myself to Jenna. If you will excuse me, Geordi?" He place Spot gently on the bed and turned to leave.
"Data," Geordi said, halting Data.
"Tell her how you feel about her. Don't concentrate on interfaces and subroutines."
"Yes, Geordi." Data nodded at his friend and exited the temporary officer's quarters.
Jenna stood with a few of her crew mates from the Magellan. She had long ago lost track of their conversation. She kept replaying the scene with Data. Had she overreacted, misunderstood him? Her track record with men was nothing to boast about. After Jeff Arton, the insensitive clod, and dear sweet, unemotional Data, she'd tried to compensate for her propensity for picking non-feeling male companions by seeking out the ultra-sensitive, passionate types. Tempestuous. That was the word to describe those relationships. Only Data had been concerned with her happiness, creating that subroutine to guide him. Was it his fault that he couldn't respond emotionally as a man?
Data's sudden appearance beside her startled Jenna. She noticed her crew mates looking at her oddly. How long had Data been standing there?
"Data," she said, "you startled me."
"I am sorry. That was not my intention," he apologized. "I wished to speak with you...to better explain my feelings and intentions."
Her crew mates did not bother to hide their curiosity, waiting for Data to proceed. Jenna took Data by the arm and led him deeper into their circle.
"Data, let me introduce you to some of my friends and fellow crew members of the Magellan," she said, effectively stopping him from saying anything else in front of them. After a few minutes of polite conversation, Jenna said, "If you'll excuse us?" She led Data to a corner table where they could speak privately.
"Jenna," Data started, "I wish to clarify ..."
"No, wait, Data," Jenna interrupted him. "Please, before you say anything, I just wanted to apologize for getting angry with you earlier."
"There is no need to apologize," Data assured her. "I discussed the situation with Geordi. He helped me understand the clumsiness of my words. I am sorry if I made you think that I wished to resume our relationship as an experiment." Data reached across the table and gently took Jenna's hand in his. She did not pull it back. Encouraged, Data continued, "I-"
The communicator in his insignia pin beeped. Data released Jenna's hand to tap the pin.
"Picard to Data"
"Data here, sir," Data answered the voice coming through his pin.
"Please report to the base commander's office immediately, Mr. Data."
"Yes, Captain. I am on my way."
Data sighed in frustration. He looked at Jenna as he stood up. "May I speak to you later?"
"Yes, Data," Jenna said, smiling up at him.
"Until then." Data hurried out of the lounge.
Data followed the base commander's aide into the executive conference room where Picard, the Magellan's captain, the base commander, Riker, Geordi, and Megellan's first officer were gathered around a 3D holomap of a nearby star system, a nebulous ribbon its chief distinction. They all turned to face him.
"Data," Picard said, motioning him over to the map, "it appears we have a mission for you."
"Sir?" Data waited to be briefed.
Picard turned to the base commander. "Commander, if you will?"
"Ah, yes," the base commander began, "Mr. Data, if you will focus your attention on this section of the map. A remote sentry in this sector picked up some unexplained activity at the far edge of the Mar Oscura nebula. It was destroyed while transmitting the information to us. We need to know what is going on."
"This is strictly a reconnaissance mission, Data," Picard took over the briefing. "At no time are you to engage the enemy if it turns out that is what we are dealing with. Your primary goal will be to gather information and see that information gets back to us."
"I understand, sir," Data said. "How soon will I be leaving?"
"As soon as Mr. La Forge completes modifications to the sensors," Picard answered. He turned to Geordi. "How much time will you need?"
"I'll require no more than ten minutes, Captain," Geordi answered. "I will need an additional five minutes to install this homing device in Data." He held up a disk no larger than an old American quarter.
"Very well, then," Picard said, turning to the base commander. "Commander, is there anything else that Mr. Data should know about the sector?"
"Only that he'll be on his own out there," the commander said. "As you know, there are no habitable planets, friendly or otherwise, between the nebula and this base. Mr. Data, that remote sentry was stationed here." He pointed at the holomap that rotated above the conference table. "Once you pass this point you will effectively be out of standard communications range."
Geordi stepped back, having completed the installation of the homing device in Data's head. "Okay, buddy, you're ready. Just remember, the homing device will be activated once you've powered down and entered your dream mode. Tests show that the subspace frequency emitted by the device will only be recognized by that tracking device over there on the bench."
"I understand, Geordi," Data said as Geordi closed the flap covering Data's positronic brain.
"The enhanced sensors will enable you to gather the information we need without entering their sensor range."
"Is everything ready, Mr. La Forge?" Picard asked as he, the Magellan's captain, and the base commander entered the hangar deck.
"Yes, sir," Geordi answered, stepping aside as Picard approached Data.
"Good luck, Data," Picard said, shaking Data's hand. "I expect you to make it back to us safely." The pockets of warped reality within the Mar Oscura nebula had claimed the life of a crew member of the Enterprise-D a few years ago. That it should claim the life of another of his crew was unthinkable.
"Yes, Captain, I shall take every precaution to do so."
Data entered the runabout. Pausing in the doorway, he turned to Geordi. "Geordi, please tell Jenna that I look forward to continuing our conversation when I return."
"I'll do that," Geordi said.
Jenna approached the table where Will, Deanna, and Geordi were eating dinner. They had chosen a table that afforded them an uninterrupted view of the stars. Between bites their eyes repeatedly drifted to the window. They looked up and smiled in welcome. Riker rose and held Jenna's seat for her.
"Thank you, Commander," she said, sitting down in the gallantly held chair.
"No need to be so formal, Jenna," Riker said, resuming his seat. "We're all friends here." By virtue of a mutual friend that they were all worried about went without saying.
"I certainly agree," Deanna said, warmly. Jenna's anxiousness mingled with their own.
"So do I," Geordi added. He hadn't seen Jenna since he'd given her Data's message nearly 24-hours ago.
"Nothing from Data yet?" Jenna asked.
Riker shook his head.
They would soon be reaching the location where one of their scout ships had destroyed the Federation remote sentry. The damaged runabout they were pursuing would soon be within normal space communications range. Their subspace jamming device had ensured that whoever was on that ship could not send out a subspace message. It was vital that the Federation did not learn about the base being built on the outskirts of that accursed nebula.
"Don't let them get away," exhorted the Vorta. "Perhaps we should have assigned our own Jem'Hadar warriors to this project."
The Gul looked at the Founder's lackey clone with barely disguised hatred. The Vorta was little more than a bureaucrat. How dare he speak to a Cardassian Gul, much less a Cardassian warrior, with such disdain.
"My warriors know what they are doing," the Gul said belligerently. "Enough games," he said to his weapons officer. "Finish it."
Twin white beams lashed out and swatted the wobbling runabout. The runabout's shields sparked once then died. Two more beams struck the runabout. It exploded.
"Hey, honey, I am home."
"Welcome home, darling," the petite blonde woman said as she stretched up to kiss her husbands pale lips. "How was your shift?"
"It was uneventful," he answered. "Are the children still up?"
"Of course. They refused to power down for the night cycle until you kissed them goodnight."
"s he entered his children's room, they greeted him from their twin beds.
"Greetings, father," said his daughter.
"Good evening, father," said his son.
"How are you, Lal?" he asked his daughter.
"I'm fine, father," she answered, kissing him as he leaned down to her. "Guinan says that I am getting as skilled as you in mixing Samarian Sunset."
"That is admirable, Lal," he said, rising and turning to his son. "And how are you, Lore?"
"I am fine, father," Lore answered, a smile twisting his lips upward. "I made a new friend today."
"That is wonderful, Lore," he said to his son whose face was a pale mirror of his own. "As I have said in the past, you need to work harder to make friends. What is the name of your friend?"
"The Crystalline Entity."
"I see. Just promise me that you and your new friend will not get into any trouble," he said.
"Of course, father," he promised, fingering his father's off switch as they embraced.
"Okay, you two, power down."
He joined his wife in the living area where she reclined on the loveseat. He put his arm around her and sighed contentedly.
"What more could an android want?"
His wife smiled the secret little smile that women had smiled through the ages. "Oh, I don't know. How about another...," she whispered the rest in his ear.
Yellow eyes widened in surprise. He sat back and studied his wife in total wonder. " Is Dr. Crusher sure? But how can this be?"
His wife laughed in delight at his reaction. "Data, after all, you are fully functional."
"Picard to Riker."
Everyone at the table stared at Riker's insignia pin. Putting down his fork, he tapped the communicator.
"Will, please report to the commander's office," Picard's disembodied voice said.
"Yes, sir," Riker said, looking around at his dinner partners. "Captain, Geordi, Deanna and Jenna D'Sora are here with me. Does this concern Data?"
"Yes. Bring them along. Picard out."
Dinner forgotten, the four concerned friends rushed out of the dining hall. Dread accompanied them.
"The homing device has been activated," Picard stated, as they all took seats around the conference table. "Number One, I'd like for you and Mr. La Forge to head the rescue efforts."
The Megellan's captain looked at Jenna and his first officer. "You two will take a second runabout and act as lookout while La Forge and Riker search for their missing comrade.
"How many runabouts do you people think I have to spare? We must assume that Data never reached the location where the remote sentry was destroyed since my people have not received any communications from him," the base commander stated from the head of the table. "We should also assume that the runabout was destroyed along with the information he gathered. I don't think we should risk sending out anyone else. The area is obviously hostile. Hopefully that will be sufficient enough for Starfleet to dispatch more ships to this area."
Deanna winced at the anger the commander's words evoked.
Picard stated for all of them, "Commander Data is a valued member of my crew, and we will not abandon him."
Geordi spoke up. "Actually, Commander, as long as that homing device continues to transmit, we haven't lost any of the information. The plan was for Data to backup everything in his own memory banks."
"Then we must recover that android at all costs," the commander declared.
Picard and the Megellan's captain exchanged disbelieving glances.
Picard stood up. "Then that's settled," he said. "Let's get moving. Time is of the essence. We need to get to Data before he's damaged by prolonged exposure or found by hostile forces."
"Sensors have detected a vessel."
"It's another Federation vessel."
The Vorta turned on the Gul. "I thought you assured me that ship was destroyed before it was able to transmit. The Founder shall here of this incompetence."
The Gul ignored him. "Close and destroy that vessel," he ordered.
"I've got him," Geordi yelled triumphantly to Riker. He struggled under the android's considerable weight as Data's legs buckled. With effort, Geordi lowered Data to the floor of the runabout next to the transporter pad.
"Good work, Geordi," Riker called back from the pilot's seat. "I'll let Jenna know." Riker's fingers worked over the communications pad. "Missouri to the Ganges." Silence. "Missouri to the Ganges. Come in, Ganges"
"Ganges here," Jenna's distraught voice came through the speakers. "Being pursued by a Cardassian warship. We're just within range of their disrupters."
Riker banged his fist on the edge of the control panel. "Status, Ganges?"
"Shields down to eighty percent. They're closing the distance," Jenna reported. "Did you get Data, sir? Is he all right?"
"Yes. Geordi's checking him out right now," Riker answered. "Ganges, I have you on sensors now. Keep on current heading. Full speed."
"Riker, get Data and that information back to Starbase 260," the Megellan's first officer yelled. "Don't risk your ship to help us."
"Tell Data that I'm sorry we didn't get to finish our conversation," Jenna said, accepting her first officer's assessment of the situation. "Shields down to fifty percent. Our engines have been hit; we're losing speed."
Data joined Riker in the front of the runabout, taking the secondary pilot's seat. Without speaking, he immediately interfaced with the runabout's computer. His fingers were a blur as they played across the control board.
"Commander, I have just downloaded all of the information regarding the base the Cardassians are building just beyond the nebula and sent it via subspace to Starbase 260. Fortunately, we are outside the range of their subspace jammer."
"Ganges, primary mission accomplished. The information has been sent to the starbase," Riker informed them. "Continue on current heading. We're coming to give you a hand."
"That would not be advisable, Commander," Data cautioned. "Sir, the Ganges is just entering transporter range. I suggest we head for Starbase 260 at one quarter the Ganges' speed."
"Maintain shields. Transfer all remaining power to the engines and maintain heading. We're going to get you out of there."
Data lowered his gaze to the display screen as his hands danced across the board. "I have a lock on them!"
"Drop your shields when I give the word," Riker instructed them.
Coughing, Jenna acknowledged him. "Ready."
Riker waited for Data's signal. Data nodded, his hand poised above the transporter controls. "Now!"
" barrage from the Cardassian ship hit the Ganges just as the shields were lowered. The runabout exploded.
"Enemy vessel destroyed, sir," the weapons officer reported.
"It's about time," the Vorta complained. "Get us back to the base so that I can make my report."
"Sir," the communications officer addressed the Gul, "That vessel, it was in communication with another ship."
The Gul sat forward in surprise. "Another ship? Quickly, give me long range sensors." Yes, just at the edge of their sensors was another vessel racing away from them. "Destroy that ship," he ordered.
"You fool!" the Vorta yelled at him. "Return us to the base right now. That vessel is too far away. By the time you catch up with it, it will be deep within Federation space."
"Return to base," he ordered between clenched teeth.
The unpleasant smell of scorched flesh drifted to the front of the runabout. They could hear Geordi working desperately in the aft section of the runabout to revive Jenna and the Megellan's first officer. Coughing.
"Damn, she's stopped breathing," Geordi moaned.
"Sir?" Data requested, turning stricken eyes on Riker.
"Go ahead, Data," Will said. "I don't need you up here."
The crews of the Enterprise and the Megellan sat solemnly in the base auditorium while the Megellan's captain reviewed the career of a fallen crew member. Several times he had to stop and clear his throat. Picard sympathized with his fellow officer. These things never got any easier.
"No captain could have asked for a better first officer."
Data stood nervously outside Jenna's quarters aboard the Megellan with a bottle of Calaman sherry he'd ordered from the replicator. Repairs on the Megellan were complete, allowing the Megellan's crew to return to their own quarters after the memorial service.
The door slid open, revealing Jenna. She had twelve hours before the Megellan's doctor would permit her to return to duty. She'd escaped from the Ganges with minor burns and lungs full of smoke.
"Come in, Data," she invited him into the quarters she shared with a roommate. Her roommate was currently on duty.
"Thank you," he said, entering. Data searched her face for traces of the burns that had marred her features as he held her on the runabout floor while she coughed uncontrollably. "You are looking well, Jenna."
"Thanks to you, Riker, and Geordi. I only needed one session with the skin regenerator." Jenna led Data away from the door so that it could close. She noticed the bottle in Data's hand. "Calaman sherry?" She smiled up at him as he released the bottle into her hands. "Data, you remembered."
Data smiled back. "I stored the details of our relationship. I am glad that I did not erase the file."
"So am I, Data," she said. "Shall we sit down?"
Data nodded and led the way to the sofa. Jenna sat down beside him.
"When will the repairs on the Enterprise be completed?" she asked.
"The repairs will be completed on schedule tomorrow," Data answered. "Of course, we will not be leaving as originally planned now that Starfleet has dispatched two more ships to accompany the Enterprise and the Megellan to the nebula."
"Would you care for some sherry, Data?" Jenna asked.
"Yes, Jenna, that would be nice." Data noticed that Jenna's hand shook slightly as she poured the sherry in two glasses she had placed on the coffee table. "I am also nervous," Data confessed.
Jenna set the bottle down quickly before she wasted any of the sherry. She looked at Data with new eyes. This was a new Data, one she'd dreamed about, seemingly in vain. This Data was vulnerable, uncertain as to what he should say or do. He was not trying to reenact snippets of romantic lore stored in his positronic brain.
"Is this another subroutine, Data?" she asked, smiling as she picked up her glass of sherry.
Data picked up his glass. "No, it is how I have felt since I saw you in the auditorium as I played Nebula."
They clinked their glasses together before drinking the sherry. Data placed his glass back on the table and waited for Jenna to place hers there, too, before reaching for her. Their lips met and Data knew that he had never felt better in his life.