Geordi LaForge walked into the room, then immediately dodged to the side, as a small infrared fireball lunged at his legs. Even though she wasn’t as young as she used to be, Spot still had her playful streak, and considered anyone who walked through the door her prey. She must have been growing cramped here, after her old kingdom crashed on Veridian III.
All quarters on Enterprise-E were a little smaller than on their old ship; it was more about efficiency, after all. Data still had his favorite items displayed, a hat from a play, his paintings, his pipe; somehow at that moment the shapes of these simple objects spoke of how fragile all of their lives onboard this ship really were, and it made Geordi’s heart ache.
“Come in, Geordi, don’t be afraid of Spot.”
“Naw, I’m used to this. Phew, all these repairs … I swear, half the things in engineering tried to assimilate me.”
They sat on the edge of the bed and talked for a while about fixing the ship, about how lucky it was that they managed to make the Borg temporal mumbo-jumbo work and return to their century, about whether or not the Borg attack in the past could have caused the strange incident in the 22nd century involving captain Archer’s ship. After a while the conversation came to a lull, and Data turned to him.
“Geordi, your hesitant behavior suggests that you want to discuss something but you are unsure. What is it that you wish to talk about?”
“Me?” Data sat a fraction straighter, a sign of genuine surprise for those who knew how to read android body language.
“Well, how are you doing? From what I hear you and the captain had some pretty gruesome experience while I was on a field trip with my childhood hero.”
“Thank you for your concern, Geordi. I think I will be fine.”
“Are you sure? I mean I read the mission report, not to mention that you looked pretty bad when I got here.”
“I admit it was not, as you may call it, a joy ride, but this is not the first time I have been abducted and manipulated to join with the morally wrong agenda, and probably not the last.”
“Doesn’t make it alright. Data…”
“I suppose it does not.”
The subdued pause lingered in the room. The lights were dimmed almost all the way down - Geordi could tell by the absence of the normal background noise that visual spectrum light brought into his perception. He actually liked it that way, when he could distinguish things more clearly. Data could see in the dark just fine, but he usually preferred to have the lights on, just because humans needed them. And here he was, totally fine - sitting in the dark. Geordi looked around for some crutch to help him with the topic - after all, he ought to make sure Data got support. And well, Geordi knew a thing or two of abduction and torture, he could easily imagine how that must’ve been. Problem was, he was never that good at relationship or talking. Fixing things? Hell yes. Digging through feelings? Not his first choice, really. Still, he’d known Data for eight years and there was a reason why they were best friends and more.
“Listen…” he wrecked his brain for the right way to express himself and not sound insensitive; but then he looked at Data, at his still, softly glowing form, and remembered, once again, why they ended up getting so close. Whatever he said, he couldn’t offend his friend, and in return, even when Data spoke with less than perfect tact, Geordi knew it was never out of malice. Whatever misunderstandings might emerge, any problem between them could always be fixed with a sincere apology.
“Listen, Data, I can tell this must’ve been difficult, and I wanna be of help. But I don’t really know how to talk about these things.”
“It is quite alright, Geordi. I will talk with counselor Troi about it. In fact, I have an appointment scheduled for the next week.”
“Next week? I was hoping to hear it’d be sooner.”
“Unlike most of the crew, I have the luxury of postponing my emotional reaction simply by turning off my chip. Those who cannot do that should be counselor’s priority.”
Geordi thought back to the half-assimilated state of the ship and crew when he returned, and shuddered.
“Fair enough. Well. What about now? I’m off duty, so are you.”
Data cocked his head to the side and gazed, unblinking, at him.
“What do you suggest?”
“Well… when I’ve just been through a tough time but I don’t want to deal with it just yet, usually I just wanna do something fun and mind-numbing with my friends. Something to distract me from thinking too much.”
“Hm,” Data looked down on his hands, folded neatly in his lap. “Most of my hobbies are either energy-consuming, or require high concentration.”
Another silence stretched and stretched; the only thing that moved amidst the blankets of energy fields and lazy dust particles was Spot, poking her paw under a low frame of a cabinet, perhaps trying to retrieve a lost toy.
“Hey!” Geordi said, as an idea dawned upon him. “Your cat is restless. Let’s play with her?”
In the faint glimmer of his energy signature, Data smiled.