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Fiction by Pen . . . . . not real, made up, purely intended for entertainment
Star Trek is not mine and I make no claim on it

A Little Ado

Captain's Log, Stardate 46439.1

The Enterprise is en route to rendezvous with the USS Ajax, to which the newly promoted Lieutenant Commander Danby has been posted as Second Officer. She is an excellent officer and takes with her our good wishes. Mr Danby will accompany his wife, leaving the Enterprise schoolroom under-staffed until we reach Starbase 212. However, we will be taking on a passenger from the Ajax, a Professor Philippa Kodaly, who is apparently willing to join the teaching roster until she leaves the Enterprise for the University on Bokara Six.

"I met her yesterday when she reported to Sick Bay for the routine medical. I liked her. Very friendly."

"I’m looking forward to meeting her. She has quite a reputation as a literary scholar. I hope to have an opportunity to discuss her views on the Revivalist school. Would you pass me the apricot preserve?"

"Here. Perhaps she’ll be at the concert this evening."

"Ah, yes, the concert." Picard sounded dubious. "Mozart and Mah’hadrexilani. An unusual choice of programme."

"It should be interesting," mused Beverley.

"Hmm. I understand we have a new ensign on board with a talent for the clarinet." The captain paused to refill his porcelain teacup. "I hope the Mah’hadrexilani piece isn’t too... modern."

"Mmm. That wasn’t what I meant. I was still thinking about Philippa Kodaly."

Picard’s cup halted mid-way to his lips. "What about her?"

"It’s just that..." Dr Crusher frowned slightly. "While I was giving Professor Kodaly her medical, all the men who were on duty in Sick Bay seemed to find some excuse to come and talk to her."

Picard looked at her blankly. She shrugged. "I thought it might be interesting to see what happens in Ten Forward. That’s all!"

* * *

Beverley Crusher made her way to Ten Forward with half an hour to spare before the concert was due to begin. She was nursing a sunfruit cocktail when the door swished open to admit Deanna and Will. She waved them over.

"You must be very eager to hear this concert, Will," Beverley teased as the Commander helped Deanna into her seat.

"I think he’s more interested in getting a good look at Ensign DuChesney," Deanna confided. "I understand she’s very attractive."

"I’d say she was downright beautiful," Beverley admitted. As Chief Medical Officer, she was probably the one person on board who got to meet every member of the crew, sooner or later. And Ensign DuChesney was... memorable.

"But since she’s been locked away in Stellar Cartography for the last six weeks, I haven’t had a chance to judge for myself." Will Riker sat down, grinning.

"What brings you here so early?" Deanna asked her friend, as soon as the attentive young bartender had taken her order. Beverley gave an enigmatic little pussycat smile and nodded towards the woman who had just come through the door, a shortish, slightly chubby figure in a loosely-draped cream tunic.

"Isn’t that Professor Kodaly?" the Counselor asked, curiously. "Alexander was just talking about her."

"We dropped in to admire his new pet," interpolated Will. "It’s a Dalvin Hissing Beetle. Ask Worf about it when you’re in the mood to learn some interesting Klingon vocabulary." He added, confidentially: "He hates it!"

"Alexander seems to like her," Deanna continued, with a reproving frown. "Actually, he said she was more fun than Dumpy Danby and she smelled good." She and Beverley exchanged rueful glances. Boys!

"It’s happening," murmured the doctor to herself.

A good-looking young ensign in command red was sliding onto the stool next to Philippa Kodaly.

"Isn’t that Sam Lavalle?" asked Troi, interestedly.

A moment later the red uniform had been joined by two gold ones.

"No wonder our drinks are taking so long to arrive," muttered Riker. The attendant who had taken their order was leaning across the bar, talking to Professor Kodaly. "I’ll just go and speed things along." He stood and strode over to the animated group, leaving Deanna to stare at Beverley, who raised her eyebrows and quirked her lips in silent comment.

The collection of uniforms gave way before Commander Riker’s superior rank, and he returned in triumph bringing Professor Kodaly — and their drinks — with him. Deanna sensed ever-increasing amusement from Beverley, and was a little startled at the degree of interest she could feel emanating from Will. Covertly, she studied the new arrival’s face. It was a nice face, an appealling face, heart-shaped, slightly freckled and surrounded by thick mouse-brown hair, but even the very attractive smile that spread across the Professor’s features from time to time did not elevate her to the status of a beauty. And Will had always had an eye for feminine beauty. What exactly was the attraction? she wondered, noting the way Will found opportunities to touch Philippa Kodaly’s hand and arm as they chatted.

"May I join you for a few moments?" The rich, classic tones of the captain sounded from behind her. As soon as introductions had been performed, Picard turned to Professor Kodaly and embarked upon a laudatory speech about some paper of hers... Deanna and Beverley exchanged glances once again.

The Ten Forward entrance opened again, and a reverent hush blanketed Ten Forward for an instant before the buzz of noise resumed.

"How beautiful!" It was Professor Kodaly’s voice, and she was staring at the doorway, where stood Data, bearing his violin, and at his side a stunning young woman with a clarinet in each hand.

"That... must be Ensign DuChesney," said Will reverently. "I wonder if she plays jazz?" And then, to Deanna’s amazement, he turned back to Philippa and asked whether she had ever heard any Miles Davis. But Philippa Kodaly was not listening.

"Doré de lumière..." she murmured.

Ensign DuChesney’s hair flowed past her waist like a river of gold. Her face was a classic oval, with thick-fringed eyes of cerulean blue, perfectly sculpted lips, not a flaw on that milky skin; her tall, slender form was so exquisitely proportioned and so graceful in movement that Deanna could hardly blame their guest for her entrancement.

* * *

The concert was a great success. Even Lieutenant Commander Data could find no fault with the ensemble’s rendition of Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A (K581), and as for the highly demanding Mah’hadrexilani piece, Ensign DuChesney’s authoritative grasp of the eccentric solo melody drew the clashing disharmonies and multirhythmic counterpoint of the underlying strings into a satisfyingly coherent whole. That, at any rate, was how Data put it.

* * *

Counselor Troi walked on to the bridge just as the name Kodaly left the captain’s lips. She walked to her seat, sighing inwardly. What was this ship-wide thing with Professor Kodaly? And what was Captain Picard talking about?

"Naturally, I said I would be happy for her to arrange a concert for the children. Mr Data, will you liaise with the relevant department heads regarding their staffing arrangements, and fix an appropriate time."

"Certainly, captain."

Picard sat back in his chair. "Professor Kodaly was most enthusiastic," he confided to Commander Riker. "I believe our resident schoolroom staff are going to find it a challenge to keep up with her."

"She’s certainly an interesting woman, sir," Riker replied with a grin.

Second Officer's Log, Stardate 46444.3

The concert for the Enterprise schoolchildren took place at 1400 hours today in Holodeck Four.

The concert took an unusual form. Between movements my fellow players and I were asked to discuss the instruments and permit the children to examine them. Several students displayed considerable interest in the violin. After some initial difficulties I adopted Ensign DuChesney’s practice of creating a holographic instrument for each child. I have since been able to replicate and fit new strings without difficulty.

Many of the children demonstrated an unexpectedly sophisticated level of musical awareness. I had anticipated that the Mah’hadrexilani piece Write of Passage in Bb/D# might prove too challenging, but I was assured by Harry Bernard, one of the older students, that it bore a strong resemblance to the works of 'Seven Bones and George', an ensemble he described as "abso", although I have been unable to discover the meaning of this term.

Professor Philippa Kodaly has expressed an interest in joining me on the holodeck for an exploration of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The Professor’s reputation in the field of Old European Literature is considerable, and I anticipate a stimulating and educative experience.

Geordi LaForge whistled through his teeth as he walked jauntily along the corridor. Time to give Lieutenant Duffy another painful lesson in how to play chess.

"Oh, I’m so sorry! Are you all right?"

"No, no, it was my fault," Geordi replied gallantly. "I shouldn’t have been going so fast."

"I shouldn’t have changed direction right in front of you! I’m afraid these corridors all look alike to me. I’ll probably get to know my way around just in time to leave."

"You’re Professor Kodaly!" Geordi exclaimed delightedly. "I saw you at the concert in Ten Forward the other night, but I didn’t have a chance to say hello. I’m Geordi LaForge, Chief Engineer."

"Glad to meet you, Mr LaForge." Professor Kodaly smiled at him.

"Please, call me Geordi. And let me help you — where are you headed?"

The Professor took the proffered arm. "I’m looking for Commander Data’s quarters. We’re supposed to be indulging in a little Shakespeare on the holodeck. And Geordi, my name is Philippa."

LaForge laughed and patted the arm that was wound through his own. "Sure, I can take you to Data’s quarters, but are you sure you have the stamina for it? Data can get pretty focussed, you know." He’d tell her about the computer wall panels later, Geordi decided. After all, he was in no hurry, he might as well escort her to Data’s quarters himself. Besides, she was a very interesting woman.

"Good evening, Professor. Hello Geordi. Please come in." Data was all dressed up and ready to go, Geordi thought with amusement. He did love to throw himself heart and soul into the part. Heart and soul — probably the wrong phrase. Geordi grinned to himself. Tonight Data was wearing a short tan tunic with a leather belt, over a wide-sleeved white shirt which was open at the neck to reveal the gleam of his metallic skin. His legs were sheathed in brown hose and short boots. Rather him than me, thought LaForge, grimacing mentally as he recalled the motley outfit he’d been forced to wear in the fantastical Sherwood Forest created by Q for Picard’s benefit, oh, must have been about a year ago.

"Thank you for guiding me through the maze, Geordi," Philippa was saying. "It was nice meeting you."

"Oh, uh, right. I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe," the chief engineer replied, unwilling to leave but unable to think up any excuse to remain. "Have a good time on the holodeck. ‘Bye, Data."

"Do you approve of my costume, Professor Kodaly? I have accessed one hundred twenty-three performance records and I believe it is appropriate."

She smiled at him. "Please, call me Philippa. Turn around — no, slowly, all the way — oh, yes, I definitely approve. I’m afraid I didn’t think to dress the part. Would you like me to replicate a costume?"

"Do you not find that wearing the correct clothing enables you to give a more realistic performance, Philippa?"

"Hmm." She stooped to pet Spot, who was weaving himself between her ankles and purring uncharacteristically. "I think an internal understanding of the role is the essential thing. Once you have that, you have a performance, with or without the trappings."

The android looked somehow dejected. "That is my greatest problem. Since I have no human feelings, it is difficult for me to achieve an internal understanding of any character."

"Then we are going to have an interesting time," Philippa Kodaly said firmly, taking Data’s arm and guiding him to the door.

"Do you not require a copy of the text, Philippa?" he enquired earnestly. "I have prepared a padd for you."

"I expect I can manage," she assured him. "Where shall we start?" The door hissed behind them.

"But Professor, Philippa, I have not yet applied my beard! Which is necessary for the part of Benedick — "

"Personally, I’m with Beatrice, I never cared for beards," interrupted his companion. "Look on it as an exercise for your imagination, Data. Pretend you have a beard."

"Ah." He considered. "I will attempt to do so."

They progressed to the turbolift in thoughtful silence.


Ten Forward was certainly crowded tonight, Geordi noticed as he made his way to the table where Lieutenant Duffy sat frowning at his tri-d chess set. All the sociable types must be off-duty at the same time.

Duffy was pondering his ninth move when the music started: Riker and his pals getting in the swing. The mellow tones of a clarinet soared above the rhythm, and Geordi looked up in surprise.

"I guess that explains it," he said, half to himself.

"Explains what?" Dr Crusher asked. She and Counselor Troi had obviously just arrived and were looking in vain for somewhere to sit.

"Why this place is so full tonight! She — " LaForge nodded towards the radiant Ensign playing the clarinet "— must be the attraction."

"I’m surprised Professor Kodaly isn’t here," remarked Deanna.

"Oh, she’s gone to the holodeck with Data," Geordi informed her with a chuckle. "I tried to persuade her to come along here for some fun instead but..."

"I expect she needs the rest," Beverley observed thoughtfully.

"I’m sorry, Commander, I can’t seem to concentrate tonight," Lieutenant Duffy said with a sigh. "Mind if I quit now while I’m not too far behind? Please, Doctor, be my guest." He stood, gesturing to his chair. Beverley sat down, and Deanna purloined a chair from the neighbouring table.

"What do you mean, she needs the rest?" Deanna asked, eyes sparkling.

Beverley smiled meaningfully. "I mean, that spending an evening with Data will give our Philippa the chance to do something without a crowd of men vying for her attention. I don’t know what she’s got, but she’s sure got something."

"And it’s unlikely to work on Data," concluded Deanna with a mischievous smile.

"Hey, wait a minute, I don’t get it," Geordi complained.

Deanna looked at him pityingly. "You mean, you haven’t noticed? How a crowd forms around her wherever she is?"

"No wonder she volunteered to work with the children while she’s aboard," Beverley said thoughtfully.

"Are you crazy?" exclaimed Geordi. "Are you saying she’s some kind of femme fatale? Because it’s ridiculous. Philippa’s a nice, genuine, really — "

"Interesting woman!" the ladies chimed in together.

"Yeah," said LaForge, defensively.

"Exactly what do you mean by ‘interesting’, Geordi?" Deanna asked.

"Well, I — you know. Uh..." His cheeks felt warm, all of a sudden, as he tried to define aloud what he did mean.

"I think we can figure it out," said Dr Crusher, the wicked glint in her eyes belying her prim expression.

The sun blazed from an azure sky onto a verdant hillside. In the distant valley, a stream tumbled. Sheep grazed, far off, and a goat bleated plaintively. In the garden of a pale stone castle, two figures rested beside a playing fountain. One of them trailed an idle hand in the water as it splashed and rippled; the other sat upright.

"It is certainly an unusual relationship," said Data. "Beatrice and Benedick dislike one another thoroughly, yet each resolves to be in love with the other. Furthermore, although both have expressed an absolute determination to remain unwed, by the end of the play they agree to marry."

"Are you sure they dislike one another, Data? There are clues from the beginning that it may not be so. Notice, for instance, how Beatrice brings Benedick’s name into the conversation, first chance she gets."

"But she mentions him only to insult him."

"Yet if she truly doesn’t like him, why mention him at all?"

Data frowned slightly. "I had not considered that."

"It’s a fairly common theme, actually," Philippa continued, "particularly in what I call ‘throwaway literature’. The hero and heroine are in conflict and mask their powerful sexual attraction by abusing one another. This kind of denial can intensify the underlying feelings and increase the satisfaction when the conflict is resolved."

There was a pause. Philippa could almost see her statement filtering through the android’s programming.

"Human behaviour is complex in the extreme" he observed, almost sadly.

"People like to make life complicated, Data. But," she gave a mischievous smile, "there are times when it can be very simple." She got to her feet. "Data, will you do something for me?"

"Certainly."

"Kiss me."

He looked at her blankly. "May I ask why?"

Philippa smiled. "Because I want you to. Please?"

The android looked a little taken aback. Nonetheless, he took a step towards her, put his goldenhands tentatively on her shoulders, and pressed his lips to her mouth. Philippa’s eyelids fluttered down in anticipation...

...and she blinked in astonishment. That was it?

"Is that the best you can do?"

That birdlike flick of the head. "It was unsatisfactory?" he inquired in that ever-gentle voice.

"It certainly wasn’t what I had in mind."

"I do not understand."

"Data, when I said, Kiss me, I meant a real kiss."

"Webster’s Interplanetary Dictionary, twenty-third edition, defines ‘kiss’ as ‘to touch or press with the lips, to touch gently as if fondly or caressingly, to touch or hit lightly, to come in contact, to collide —’"

"Data, stop."

"Is that not what we did?"

"Yes, but Data, most people don’t kiss by the dictionary definition." She paused. "I guess you’re not most people, are you." Poor android. With hardly a change in his expression he managed to look so bemused. "I was hoping for something more — what shall I say — more thorough."

This did not appear to have clarified matters. Philippa sighed again. "Don’t you have any files on, er, human mating?"

Data’s eyebrows flicked. "I do have a sexuality program containing specifications for four hundred and twenty-nine separate sexual positions, details of amatory techniques from all the major human cultural streams — "

"My goodness, do you really? See if there’s a subroutine on kissing somewhere in that lot. And if there is, why don't you access it."

His head gave several tiny, controlled twitches as his golden eyes blanked, then the android made a small, pleased noise. "I have been programmed with forty-seven different techniques for mouth-to-mouth kissing. Which would you prefer?"

Philippa beamed at him. "All of them," she said firmly.

"All of them? Philippa, if I devote ten seconds to each separate method, that will necessitate a kiss duration of seven minutes and fifty seconds."

"Ten seconds may be adequate for you, Data, but it is insufficient. time for me to assess which method I prefer. Thirty seconds for each technique. I’ll leave it to you to put them in a logical order."

"Such a kiss would last for twenty-three minutes and thirty seconds."

She shrugged. "I have nothing urgent to do."

Data’s eyebrows played a momentary dance across his golden brow, and his mouth opened, but he seemed to recognise that compliance was the easiest course, and dutifully folded Philippa into a surprisingly firm embrace, and lowered his mouth to hers.

"I can’t believe I was so clumsy!" Geordi moaned, holding his right hand palm upright for Dr Crusher.

"Think of it another way," she replied, not raising her eyes from the red slash she was repairing. "You have great reflexes."

"Yeah, quick enough to catch a broken glass before it hits the floor."

"Not much common sense, mind you, but great reflexes. I’ll have to start carrying my medkit when I go to Ten Forward."

Geordi laughed ruefully. "There’s probably a trail of blood leading all the way to Sick Bay."

"There, you’ll live."

Geordi peered at his healed palm. It was fascinating to see how organised the little pulses of heat were as they throbbed through his capillaries. Not something he generally paid much attention to. "Thanks, Doctor. At least I had the sense to cut myself while I was sitting next to the best doctor in Starfleet."

"Flattery is always welcome, Commander. Now "

Data to Doctor Crusher. Medical emergency in holodeck three... I think.

"On my way," Beverley Crusher replied, tapping her comm badge automatically with one hand as she snatched up her medkit with the other and headed for the door. Then her conscious brain caught up with her actions, and she halted for a moment. "Did he say ‘I think’?"

"Maybe there’s a problem with the holodeck safeguards," Geordi offered, following the doctor out of sick bay.

They found Data kneeling in the middle of the black and yellow grid, looking anxiously at the supine figure of an unconscious female. Dr Crusher whisked out her medicorder. "Pulse rate elevated, respirations up, blood pressure up, no internal malfunctions, no trace of any injury — Data, what was she doing before she lost consciousness?"

She’d have said it was impossible for Data to be embarrassed, but right now he had the look of a man who wanted to run away and hide.

"Professor Kodaly — I — she requested that — I was kissing her. I was attempting to monitor her response, but I did not anticipate that she would lose consciousness. Have I damaged her, Doctor?"

Beverley clamped her jaws together to stifle her giggle. Those muffled snorting noises from Geordi were not helping. "It looks as though she just fainted, Data," she said unsteadily. "I think she’s coming round."

Philippa opened her eyes. It took a moment to focus. Data’s golden face, with brow furrowed, loomed above her to the right, and Beverley Crusher’s glorious red hair drew her attention leftward. The Doctor seemed to be having difficulty controlling her mouth.

"Lie still a moment," Beverley said. "How do you feel?"

Philippa considered, and a huge smile spread across her face like a sunrise.

"Wonderful," she replied blissfully.

Beverley emitted a small sound. Vaguely, Philippa was aware of the holodeck doors opening and closing as LaForge fled.

"Perhaps you should go to your quarters and lie down for a while," Dr Crusher advised. "Data, perhaps you would help Ms Kodaly?"

"Certainly. Thank you, Doctor." The android gathered Philippa up in his arms with no visible effort, and carried her swiftly from the holodeck, leaving Beverley Crusher to sit on the floor and weep with laughter.

The captain rose from the briefing table and strode back to the bridge, followed by his first and second officers and the formidable figure of Lieutenant Worf.

"Just a moment, Geordi," Counselor Troi caught hold of the chief engineer’s arm as he stood up to leave. "I sensed overwhelming amusement from you all through that meeting, every time you looked at Data. So — are you going to share the joke?"

A spurt of laughter escaped Commander LaForge. "I don’t think I can manage to explain, " he told her. "Tell you what, why don’t you ask Data if he’s caused any more medical emergencies lately!" Hurriedly, he followed the others out of the Observation lounge, leaving Deanna to puzzle over his cryptic suggestion. Oh well, she had appointments scheduled. She headed for the turbolift. She’d speak to Data when he was off duty.

She spotted him outside Holodeck Three later that day. It looked as though he was dressed for derring-do, she thought approvingly. Although her personal preference was for a larger, more solidly built masculine model, Data was very nicely constructed.

"Hello, Data," she said in a friendly way. He turned politely to greet her. "It looks like you’ve got an interesting program in mind."

"William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, Counselor. It is Professor Kodaly’s favourite play. Her insights are proving most... illuminating."

"Have you caused any more medical emergencies lately?" she asked, all innocently.

A microsecond-long flash of what might have been a pained look crossed the android’s features. "I was mistaken, Counselor. There was no medical emergency. The Professor was unconscious for only forty-two seconds, and assured me that she had not been harmed by the experience."

"Quite the contrary. I enjoyed it," said a new voice from behind them. "Although I think Data’s technique needs improving. I’ll be happy to help you work on it, Commander. Shall we go in?"

The holodeck doors huffed apart and Professor Philippa Kodaly went through, with a friendly wave for the Counselor. Deanna grabbed Data by the arm before he could follow.

"Technique? What technique? What did you do?"

"I kissed her, Counselor. Excuse me." He entered the holodeck, and the great door closed firmly.

Lieutenant Worf, encountering Deanna Troi in the turbolift somewhat later, was disconcerted by the strange hiccuping sounds she was making. She refused to explain what was so funny, but after a few false starts gave him the same advice that Geordi had that morning given her.

"Thank you for escorting me back to my quarters, Data."

"It was a pleasure, Philippa," the android replied politely, following her through the open door. "Thank you for allowing me to benefit from your insights."

"Well, um..."

"I had anticipated that you would wish me to kiss you again. You did tell Counselor Troi that you would help me improve my technique."

She smiled. "I didn’t mean it quite that way."

"Then you do not wish me to kiss you."

"Of course I do! It was wonderful, but Data, what do you wish? I mean, I enjoyed myself completely, but what about you? Did you — how shall I put it — did you experience any positive feedback? Do you want to do it again?"

Data blinked, and twitched his head thoughtfully. "I believe so. An analysis of our kiss revealed that my sensory information processors were receiving a sixteen-fold increase in throughput. It appears that accessing my sexuality program activated four thousand seventy-three subdermal sensory units which are not operative under normal circumstances. I did not expect this, as my memory records for the previous occasion on which I accessed the program are somewhat indistinct, due to anomalies produced by an unusual chemical compound which was interfering with my positronic matrix at that time. I believe this explains why I did not monitor your response accurately, and caused you to lose consciousness. However, I have made certain modifications to the subroutine which should remedy the problem."

"I wouldn’t want you to make any changes. I have an alternative suggestion. Why don’t we just sit down?"

Data processed this notion. "It may be more appropriate to lie down," he stated. "That way you are unlikely to suffer a reduction in blood flow to the brain. Philippa, that was not intended as a humorous remark."

"Of course not. I’m sorry. Shall we try it?"

"I will access the subroutine immediately."

"Why, Data! Now that’s what I call ‘positive feedback’!"

Worf did not gossip. Klingons might discuss the qualities of a fellow-officer, they might socialise on a limited basis, but they did not gossip. Thus it was that the head of Security had not encountered the entertaining rumour which was spreading through the ship like a plague of tribbles.

They had just set course for communication relay station 47, and Commander Data was checking some readings at the rear science station when Worf enquired whether he had caused any medical emergencies lately.

Data straightened up and looked round, mildly surprised. "No, Lieutenant. Professor Kodaly and I have ascertained that she does not faint if she is already horizontal when we kiss." Unperturbed, he turned back to his work, leaving the astounded Klingon agape.

"Ah... you have the bridge, Number One," said the captain unsteadily, and hastened to his ready room. Riker looked at his retreating back enviously. He didn’t need empathic senses to know that Deanna was quivering with silent giggles, and the ensign at the conn was obviously in dire straits. It was plainly his responsibility to help. Will sought desperately through his repertoire and dredged out an ancient joke about the Vulcan, the Romulan and the Ferengi. Never before had such a feeble old chestnut been greeted with such a burst of relieved laughter.

The mysterious circumstances on the relay station kept most of the bridge crew too occupied to follow the progress of Data’s involvement which Professor Kodaly. Geordi, of course, was too preoccupied with Lt Aquiel Unari to consider what Data might be doing with his free time, and Aquiel drove all thoughts of the interesting professor from his mind. Dr Crusher did notice, when she had a moment’s leisure, that the numbers in Ten Forward were back to their usual level, and suspected (quite rightly) that the men were no longer lingering there in the hope of meeting Philippa at the bar. The doctor was still intrigued by the professor’s effect on the crewmembers, but until the mystery of Lieutenant Rocha’s disappearance was solved, had no leisure to pursue the matter.

Not until the Enterprise had left relay station 47 and set course for Bokara Six did a probable explanation suggest itself. Beverley was admiring the blossoming xingadora vine in the arboretum, when, with her nose half-buried in a trumpet-like flower, an idea flashed into her mind and she straightened with a jerk.

"Pheromones! Good lord, can it be that simple?"

Back in sick bay, she called up the data from Philippa Kodaly’s on-board scan, but as she’d expected, there was nothing there to indicate the presence of an unusually powerful subliminal scent. Would the Professor mind if she investigated further?

"Not at all, Doctor Crusher. In fact, if you can suggest some way to tone it down, my life could get a great deal simpler. Do you realise, I’ve never yet stayed in the same job for more than a year? Somehow, things always get complicated..." She sighed.

"I doubt it’s possible to change your natural pheromones," Beverley replied with a smile. "Maybe you should apply for a position in a women-only environment. There are still some planets where the sexes are segregated for learning purposes."

"I thought of that," Philippa said gloomily. "The trouble is, I like men. I like the fact that their minds work differently from ours, you know? And you must admit, they do have their... uses. They just tend to get confused and mistake their basic male instincts for True Love. You wouldn’t believe how many marriage proposals I’ve had. It gets very tiresome."

Beverley chuckled. "I guess it would. Well, we still have a few days before we reach the Bokara system. I’ll see if I can devise a neutralizer. It might be possible to synthesize a compound which would mask your natural scent. That ought to make socialising a little easier."

"Thank you, doctor. I’d be very grateful, if it works. I really don’t mean to cause disruption, you know. It just happens. Most voyages, I end up sitting in my quarters most of the time to keep out of trouble."

"You seem to have found a more interesting solution this time," Dr Crusher said dryly.

Philippa smiled.

Captain's Log, Stardate 46510.7

We are departing the Bokara system, having left our passenger, Professor Kodaly, to take up her post at the university there. Counselor Troi also remains temporarily on Bokara Six to attend a psychology conference. The Enterprise is headed for Starbase 212 where Lieutenant Unari will be reassigned, and where the Enterprise will pick up new personnel, including a full-time addition to the teaching staff.

"I bet... twenty," said Dr Crusher, flipping two discs into the middle. Geordi and Will followed. Worf, with a growl of disgust, announced that he would fold, and Data raised the stakes. It was not long before the pile of discs in the centre became a set of immaculate stacks in front of the Second Officer. Data, as Will had remarked before, was becoming something of a card shark.

"So, Data," Commander Riker said with a mischievous grin, "now that Professor Kodaly’s no longer aboard I guess you won’t be able to work on your mouth to mouth technique any more." Somehow it was impossible to resist teasing Data, once in a while.

"That is an incorrect assumption, Commander," the android replied calmly, while his flickering hands shuffled the cards. "In the past thirty four hours and twenty-three minutes I have received offers of assistance from seventeen members of the Enterprise crew."

"Seventeen?" queried Worf, startled.

"Yes, Lieutenant. However, after extensive testing of my sexuality program Professor Kodaly informed me that my technique does not require improvement. In fact she suggested that such a course might prove fatal. I do not wish to cause the death of a crewmate, so I have declined all offers. The game is five card stud, deuces wild." He looked up and blinked at his helpless shipmates. "Have I said something wrong?"

Nobody could speak. In any case, what was there to say? Some days, Data got all the best lines.

 

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