does NOT belong to me. STAR TREK TNG DOES NOT BELONG TO ME! But how I love it so...

The light from the explosion blinded him, and the force of the wake threw him towards the wall, but he did not even have time to hit it. Fire engulfed the ship around him and the vessel, with a great crash, collapsed into nothingness. Pain was something he could not feel, yet the regret and finality of his decision followed him. He did not know where he was going…he flew towards a familiar ship before him, filled with horrified friends. Each one's grief merged with his own regret.

He soared, leaving everything he had once known behind him. Even the regret and grief he had felt a moment ago vanished with each second he flew into a place he had never been before. It was soft, bathed in a glowing light. There were others there, many he had never seen before. With each passing moment he felt he was getting closer to something…something cherished. He traveled faster through the music and the warmth of comfort that seemed to make up this strange and wonderful place.

Then he saw her. Her golden hair flowed to her ankles, reflecting the light and his growing joy as he drew closer. Her smile and arms welcomed him, and he embraced her happily. Tears of his joy streamed down his cheeks, and the sweet music grew louder and carried them into the sky, which seemed to never end. They stared into each others eyes, and drew closer together until their lips touched.

For once, this man did not regret his own death. For he was finally with the one he loved. And he would not be torn from her again. Not for eternity.

"And so today, we not only mourn the loss of a superb officer, but also a dear and much loved friend. Today, we remember his optimism in everything that he did, and the kindness he showed to each and every one of us. Lt. Commander Data may have been considered just a piece of complex machinery to those who did not know him, but to us…the crew members of the U.S.S. Enterprise, he was family. And in his never-ending quest to become more like us, he helped show us what it means to be human. To show kindness and equality to everyone, to be all that we can be in everything that we do, and to love one another unconditionally." Captain Jean-Luc Picard stopped for a moment, allowing himself a moment for he himself to think about the words he had just uttered, and did all that he could to control his voice for the end of his speech. He nodded and went on. "Let us always remember Lt. Commander Data, to whom we owe our lives, and our unconditional love as the human beings he always strived to become more like." There was a complete hush as Picard stepped down from the podium, then thunderous applause. But he knew it was not for him or his speech, which had taken him so many weeks to complete; it was in remembrance of the spirit of their friend. As the applause faded out, he took his seat beside Will Riker Troi and his crying wife, Deanna Troi. Dr. Beverly Crusher sat next to Jean-Luc, also not bothering to hide the tears that had begun to fill her eyes, but she wiped them away before they slid down her cheeks. Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge sat stalk still further down the row, his jaw clenched, his head against his chest. Lt. Commander Worf kept his eyes staring straight ahead, his hands folded tightly in

Many more short speeches were given, the traditional farewell from Starfleet, and then the reception. The next hour was torture for each and every one of the Lt. Commander's closest friends, who could do nothing but remember each joyful memory that only brought more tears. All decided to excuse themselves early.

The next day, everyone went about their duties on the Enterprise as though nothing had happened. Data's place at the console was taken, though to Picard it always seemed to be empty no matter who was sitting there.

Geordi went back to his work in Engineering, forcing himself to ignore his best friend's absence. He had never been so lonely in his life, though surrounded by friends all over the ship. Data's useful advice and expertise was never there, nor was his usual naïve charm that had lightened up Geordi's day so many times.

Will Riker Troi and Deanna Troi packed their things from their quarters in preparation for the next morning's transfer to the U.S.S. Titan. Together they walked about the ship one last time, bidding farewells to old friends and colleagues. As they were making their way out of Engineering near the end of the day, Deanna told her husband to go without her back to their quarters. She watched Geordi leave in a hurry, and she followed him.

"Geordi," she called. He stopped, waited for her to come to walk beside him, then continued. He did not even say hello. "Geordi," she said quietly. "Do you-"

"No, Counselor, I do not want to talk about it," he said resolutely.

Deanna looked surprised. "I was just going to ask if you knew of any good drinks in Ten Forward," she said. "I had hoped we might have one together before I left tomorrow."

Geordi chuckled sarcastically. "And tell me, Counselor, how many of your other friends did you ask that question?"

"One or two," Deanna replied smoothly. "But unfortunately all of them declined."

"I'm sure they did." He walked faster towards his quarters, obviously not wanting to talk any further. "Thanks anyway, Counselor, but I have plans tonight."

"What sort of plans?"

"Plans that don't involve going to Ten Forward and talking all my troubles away," he called over his shoulder.

Deanna quickened her pace and soon caught up with him again. "Geordi please," she tried to reason with him.

Geordi stopped abruptly and turned around. "You know what, Counselor? I don't need your expertise right now. All I want is to be left alone. And I don't appreciate you singling me out and trying to use your magical counseling abilities on me!"

Deanna looked stung. "I only want to help. I don't want you to lose yourself in this."

"Oh. I see. You want to bring me back from the depths of despair. Is that it?! Well I got news for you, Counselor Troi. You'll never be able to bring me back. No one will. And you know why? Because you can't bring him back. So stop trying!"

Deanna didn't bother to follow him as he sped away from her down the corridor. But for once in her life, she realized that one of the many people she tried to help could not be helped. At least, not by her.