Warnings: Rated T™© for suggestive humor.
Categories: Ship, Slash, Humor
Characters: Data, Geordi
Spoilers: Set early in the latter half of season five, sometime after Conundrum.
Summary: An unusual errand has unexpected consequences.
A/N: Written for lieutenant-commander-baeta, for the Star Trek Secret Santa event.
Disclaimer: Blah blah, CBS bought Paramount.
Data sat in Ten Forward, simultaneously calculating an estimated power output for the theoretical warp core design Geordi had described over breakfast, contemplating the aesthetics of the vanitas still life paintings popular among early seventeenth century Dutch artists, and pondering the disagreement between Worf and Picard on the planet of origin of the playright William Shakespeare. Or, as Worf would have it, Wil'yam Shex'pir.
Despite their various merits, these topics failed to effectively distract Data from overhearing a nearby conversation between Keiko O'Brien and Ro Laren.
"Miles does this thing with his tongue," Keiko said, her voice pitched low, but unfortunately well within Data's auditory range, even at a distance. "Sometimes I feel like I should send a thank you letter to his first girlfriend."
"Lucky," Ro Laren said. "The last guy I was with had exactly three moves, none of them particularly effective. I suspect he gets around as much as he does because nobody cares for a second round."
Keiko's laughter told Data that she knew the identity of this mystery lover. Data found himself scanning his memory of recent gossip in an attempt to identify the man himself. When the answer became clear, he regretted the knowledge.
This regret multiplied as the man in question approached his table.
"Commander Riker," Data said. "I trust all is well with you this morning?"
"It is," Riker answered, his facial expression reflecting puzzlement, and perhaps some degree of surprise. "If you have a moment, I'd like to discuss an assignment of a somewhat delicate nature."
"I have a significant block of moments available, Commander," Data answered. "Which is fortunate, as I doubt we could discuss any topic adequately in a single one of them."
Commander Riker failed to react to his subtle attempt at humor. He grabbed a chair and turned it around so he could mount it as one might mount a horse.
Data had grown accostomed to this habit, and ignored it. "Was my joke inadequate, Commander?"
"Merely old, Data," Riker said. "We received a communication from the planet Somatca. They have an engineering problem which requires Geordi's expertise. They're not a member of the Federation, but they are a valued trading partner."
"You indicated this assignment was delicate in nature?"
"The Somatcarians have very strict protocols for visitors to their planet. Even invited guests. They do not allow single men to visit."
Data sorted through his memories. "Somatca is famous as a planet without women. They are home to a strict religious order. Is that not accurate, sir?"
"The first part is accurate," Riker said. "The religious order is a polite fiction, a leftover from a more restrictive time in history."
"I see," Data said. "So Geordi would require a husband. You wish me to fill this role?"
"It seems the most logical solution."
Geordi gave no indication that he found the situation awkward, although Data found it puzzling that his friend treated the rings they were meant to exchange so casually. He put on his own, barely glancing at it, and then tossed the other to Data.
"Should there not be a ceremony of some kind?" Data asked.
"I don't know of any ceremony for pretend marriages, Data."
"But if someone were to ask -- "
"They won't ask. There are hundreds of married couples on the Enterprise, have you ever heard anyone ask one of them about their wedding?"
"As a matter of fact, yes. I heard Keiko O'Brien question a number of women on that topic."
"That's different, Data. She was planning her own wedding at the time. Nobody on Somatca is likely to seek advise from us, at least not on the subject of wedding planning."
"Do you not believe we should have our stories straight?"
"Okay then," Geordi said. "We were married on the holodeck. We dressed as Watson and Holmes, and were married in a garden in nineteenth century London. Wesley Crusher served as my best man."
"You seem to have invested some thought in this scenario."
"First thing that came to mind." Geordi cleared his throat. "We should go over the schematics for Somatca's weather regulation system before we arrive. I would hate them to catch us ill-prepared."
Geordi found himself squirming under Data's scrutiny as they walked to the transporter room the following morning. His fictional husband had showered him with an ever-changing barrage of attention throughout the previous day. First he had attempted to hold Geordi's hand as they discussed the power source at the main weather station. Then he had tested out a series of compliments, each less romantic than the last. Although Geordi did smile fondly at the way Data had described his posterior as 'pleasing both to the eye and the hand.'
"I am acclimating to the role," Data had claimed, after Geordi made him promise not to repeat the phrase in public. "Were I to marry you, it would no doubt indicate that I appreciated a wide variety of aspects of your being."
"Well let's just pretend we've been married long enough that you no longer need to say it," Geordi said.
"Is communication of one's ongoing appreciation for one's mate not a cornerstone of a successful marriage?"
"Probably," Geordi conceded with a sigh. "But likely not in public. Just don't hold my hand when we greet the Magistrate, and restrict your appreciation to features above the neck."
Had Geordi considered the full implication of this request, he would have phrased it better. But having not been privy to Keiko O'Brien's comment in Ten Forward that morning, the list of precisely which anatomical features were located above his neck remained unpondered.
The first few hours on the planet passed uneventfully enough. He and Data worked with two Somatcarian engineers who showed no interest in their personal lives whatsoever. Being engineers, they were far more interested in Data himself, although they did put forth Herculean efforts to remain discreet about it.
The lunch break presented the first challenge for their little deception. The Somatcarians had built their weather station near a major body of water, and therefore, near a beach. It was, somewhat problematically, an especially beautiful beach, with soft warm breezes and a stunning view of the planet's second moon, hanging low over the water. The white sand glittered in the bright sunlight. Geordi of course experienced all of this beauty somewhat differently, but that did not mean he lacked knowledge of this particular danger.
Sure enough, the Somatcarian engineers insisted on treating their guests to a picnic on this inconveniently adjacent beautiful beach. And naturally, the Somatcarian engineers were immune to neither the wonders of the beautiful beach nor to each other's charms.
Data, of course, reached for Geordi's hand the very moment the other couple -- of course they were a couple -- joined hands and sank onto their cozy little beach blanket.
Geordi practically landed in Data's lap as his friend tugged him down to their own thoughtfully provided cozy little beach blanket.
The food, unpacked from an adorable wicker basket, all proved delicious. Delicious was of course not a problem. Geordi welcomed delicious food. But the fact that every last morsel consisted of vaguely romantic finger food led exactly where he feared. The Somatcarian engineers playfully fed it to each other.
Geordi would not have minded this in the least, if not for the fact that Data therefore felt it necessary to follow suit. He tried to laugh at Data's awkward attempts to feed him the lush berries, but the intensity of Data's gaze unnerved him for some reason. Geordi swallowed hard, and tried not to choke on a berry.
"Are you quite all right, Darling?" Data asked him.
'Darling?' Geordi mouthed back silently.
Data cocked his head a bit. "Is that not the correct -- "
"Yes, yes of course." Geordi glanced over at the Somatcarians, who were safely gazing into each others' eyes.
"I could choose another designation." Data's voice sounded different, when he whispered.
"It's fine," Geordi assured him. "Just . . . unexpected."
Data nodded. "Another berry, Darling?"
"Sure, why not."
And that's when it happened.
Data pressed a berry to Geordi's lips.
Geordi opened his mouth to receive it.
Data fed him the berry. "Have I told you recently how much I appreciate your nimble tongue, Darling?"
Geordi choked. The berry dove for his windpipe. And then he began to choke in the most literal sense of the word.
Geordi's consciousness dimmed a bit by the time Data's precisely executed Heimlich maneuver launched the lush berry down the beautiful white sandy beach and straight at the Magistrate, so his recollection of the event was a bit fuzzy. He did, however, clearly recall Data cradling his body in his arms as he called for transport to sickbay.
Doctor Crusher patched his cracked ribs in short order, and the rest of the mission went smoothly enough. But Geordi couldn't erase the memory of Data's voice in that moment of crisis. If he didn't know better, he could have sworn Data sounded genuinely worried. Acting, he told himself. A show for the crowd of Somatcarians who gathered at the sight of the injured offworlder who had somehow spit a berry several hundred meters down the beach and straight into the Magistrate's drink.
"I was concerned," Data later admitted. "You may not be my legal spouse, but you are significant to me, Geordi. I consider you my closest friend, and is friendship not the basis for a successful marriage?"
"I suppose that it is," Geordi agreed. "Although most couples work in a few dates before jumping straight to marriage."
"Understood," Data said. "Would you consent to have dinner with me this evening? Or would a movie be a more appropriate first step."
They did both.
Weeks later, Data took a seat beside Commander Riker in Ten Forward. "I have learned much in recent weeks," he began. "And I feel obligated to share this, Commander, although it is, as you would say, of a delicate nature."
Riker nodded at him to continue.
"I have found that the key to a successful carnal relationship is the generous and creative employment of a nimble tongue."
Riker, to his credit, managed to refrain from spitting his drink across the table. He did, however, turn a quite interesting shade of red.
This transformative work constitutes a fair use of any copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. Star Trek™©, Star Trek: The Next Generation™©, Star Trek: Voyager™© and related properties exist as Registered Trademarks of CBS Corporation, current owners of Paramount Pictures. No copyright infringement intended. No profits made here. © Spiletta42, December 2016.