Geordi tossed and turned in his sleep, an already fitful rest further interrupted by the uncomfortably high fever that had begun to develop. Images raced by him, flashing past his eyes so fast he could hardly pick each one out. But he saw Data. He saw his distinctive glow, he heard the sound of his gentle voice, he watched the soft, sad smile form on his lips just before he jumped out of the Enterpr-
Geordi sat bolt upright in bed, cold sweat threatening to drip down the side of his face. Breathing growing quick and shallow, he frantically searched for his VISOR. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder and his VISOR in his palm. He slipped the device over his eyes and that special glow was standing in front of him, worry plastered on his face.
“Geordi, are you alright?” The concern in Data’s voice was just as clear.
“Yeah, I… I think so.” Geordi swallowed, his throat dry from panic and dehydration. He stood up to get a drink of water from the replicator, but a wave of dizziness struck him and he barely managed to sit back down, only succeeding with the help of Data, who put a sturdy hand on his back to make sure he didn’t fall.
As if he had read his mind, Data left and quickly returned with a glass of cool water. He handed it to Geordi, who quickly downed the glass. He swallowed back the wave of mild nausea that hit him a second later.
As if just now aware of Data’s presence, Geordi reached out and gently put a hand on Data’s wrist. His throat tightened, and it was growing harder to ignore the lump in his throat. He let out a shaky sigh. “You mean so much to me, Data.”
Data’s eyebrows furrowed. “Is everything alright, Geordi?” He sat down next to him, carefully but firmly holding Geordi’s hand in his.
“I just had a nightmare, that’s all… But it… it felt so real. You were there. You… I watched you… I…” Geordi broke down, pulling Data into a hug and letting his heavy-hearted tears fall onto Data’s shoulder.
Data silently hugged back, feeling the emotional and physical weight of Geordi’s sobs against him. Geordi pulled away from the hug. “I’m… I’m sorry. I-”
Data cut him off, his gentle voice contrasting with Geordi’s panicked tone. “Please, do not be sorry. Nightmares can be a very real, and very frightening experience. I have experienced them myself, and the subsequent emotions that come with them.”
Geordi nodded, sighing gently as his breathing became more regular.
Data reached out and gingerly cupped Geordi’s face, using his thumb to wipe the tears away. “You know that I love you, Geordi. More than anyone else.”
Geordi let out another shaky breath. “I love you too, Data.” He pulled him in for another hug, but one of love instead of grief.
Data was the first to pull back, opting instead to softly kiss Geordi on the lips. Geordi leaned into the kiss, one that, in his opinion, ended much too soon.
“Geordi, you must rest now.”
“How am I supposed to fall back asleep? What if I have another nightmare? I don’t want to see that stuff again. Besides, I-”
To Geordi’s surprise, Data picked him up in one swift motion and gently laid Geordi down on the bed, his head sinking into the soft pillows. He already felt sleepiness washing over him.
Data sat next to him and began to stroke his hair, pale fingers running across his scalp and sending gentle, calming shivers through his spine. Geordi’s eyes closed and the last thing he heard was a gentle “good night, Geordi,” and he almost smiled as he felt Data kiss his forehead.
The world around him went dark as sleep pulled him under.
Geordi smiled subconsciously as his eyes fluttered open. He felt much more comfortable, his body temperature had lowered quickly. Putting on his VISOR, he smiled as he turned to his right to face- Data?
“Data?” Geordi called out, the room echoing with emptiness.
He wobbled slightly as he stood, still unbalanced from the fever. He walked through his quarters, searching for Data. Surely, he hadn’t started his shift yet. Where was he? “Data, where are… you…?”
He trailed off and his heart began to ache as reality hit him like a ton of bricks. “Computer… what day is it?”
“The stardate is 57283.3.” The artificial voice rang through the room, suddenly much more eerie than any other time the computer had spoke.
All that Geordi could hear now was the ringing in his ears and the thundering heartbeat in his chest. His head and heart began to ache as he lowered to his knees, head in his hands.
This time, he was awake, and his tears were real.