A/N: Over the summer, I watched all seven seasons and four movies of the Next Gen universe and found myself unexpectedly hooked, particularly in regards to a certain cinnamon roll of an android. This is my first writing foray into Data's universe.
I began writing what will be a five-shot while I was still watching the series. As I watched Data's character growth over the seasons, I loved the moments when Data becomes just a little tiny bit more human, when he masters some new aspect of human behavior (be it sneezing, tap dancing, or small talk) or when he has a revelation about some new part of humanity. Watching Data grow, I found myself hoping for him to slowly "discover" different emotions in the same slow, gentle way that he grew in other aspects. And so I wrote what would become the first of my five-part collection as a projection of what I hoped to see in the show, while I was still in Season 4 or 5.
Now that I have finished the seasons and movies, I know that this collection isn't "canon" but I still wanted to write and share it. I had mixed feelings about the emotion chip from Generations. On the one hand, it allowed Data to experiment with a wide variety of different emotions and led to some great scenes (that one with Data and Picard in stellar cartography, wow), but I still would have liked to see Data slowly gaining the ability to register and process different emotions over time (at least in a more recognizably human way, since I fall solidly in the camp of Data fans who believe he had his own version of emotions all along). I would have liked to get to linger over and savor Data's discovery of each emotion and the other characters' reactions to it.
So, if you like, view this collection of vignettes as a "what would have happened without the emotion chip" AU. Enjoy! - SG
Five Moments of Feeling
by Sauron Gorthaur
Part 1: Humor
The first moment was in Ten Forward.
They were docked at Star Base 352 for standard repairs and inspections that would last at least a week, and as such the crew were on leave for the next several days. Spirits were high, glasses of real Terran beer rather than synthehol were being passed around, and the sounds of laughter and friendly camaraderie filled the room.
"And so the Romulan just looks at the Vulcan Ambassador and says, 'Well, maybe you can, but I vulcan't," Riker finished, a huge grin on his face as he leaned back, anticipating his crewmates' reactions.
Geordi groaned dramatically and put a hand to his VISOR, shaking his head at the Commander's lame joke. Deanna put several fingers to her lips, hiding her small smile demurely. Worf snorted and shook his head, muttering something about "human humor" and taking another swig of his drink.
There was silence for just a moment, then sudden laughter.
Riker, Geordi, Deanna, and Worf all turned as one, staring in shocked surprise at Data.
"Data, did you just…laugh?" Geordi asked incredulously.
Data's face had returned to its usual emotionless state. The android tilted his head slightly to the side, his lips curving downward into a curious frown. "Yes, according to my memory logs, it would appear that I did," he replied.
"But why, Data?" Deanna asked, only just concealing a puzzled smile. "I have never heard you laugh like that before."
Data's guileless yellow eyes turned to the ship's Counselor, his eyebrows quirking just slightly. "The joke," he said. "The Commander's joke, it was…funny."
Geordi shook his head in despair. "Oh my word, Data, the very first joke you get and it had to be one of Riker's."
"Hey, it was a good joke," Riker put in.
Data was watching them with a puzzled frown. "I do not understand. Should I not have laughed?" he asked.
Geordi shook his head, biting back a chuckle at his best friend's bemusement. "No, Data," he answered, shaking his head. "No, you laugh all you want."