AOH :: DATAFRND.TXT|
Data and Friend
DATA AND FRIEND
By Katharine Shade
Data was on his way to engineering when a small object came hurtling
around the corner, careering straight into him. He used his super-
human strength to stay upright, and the small object untangled itself
from him, revealing itself to be a small boy, of approximately eight
years of age.
"Are you unhurt?" Data inquired.
"No...I mean yes," the boy said, rather confused at how Data had
phrased his question. He lifted his tear stained face and looked up
at Data, suddenly realising that he had just bumped into a Starfleet
officer. "I'm sorry...I shouldn't be here, it's just that.."
Sounds of shouting came from around the corner, and more small boys
came barreling around. But this time Data was prepared, and he
stepped aside, watching as the first boy stopped abruptly, realising
who he'd just passed. The two boys following were a bit slower to
react, and bumped into the first one, resulting in a disordered mass
of limbs. The arms and legs resolved themselves into three boys,
slightly larger than the one who was now hiding behind Data.
A small voice emerged from the general region of Data's back, too soft
to be heard by the other boys.
"Please don't let them get me!"
Data twisted his head around and looked down over his shoulder at the
boy, but turned his attention back to the other boys as he realised
that they were trying to sneak away.
"Is this area of the ship not off limits to you?" Data asked them.
One of the boys, bolder than the rest - the one who had been in the
lead when they ran past Data - drew himself up to his full height of
140cm and replied "We're on a school assignment."
The small boy whispered, "Don't believe him, he's lying."
Data considered this. He knew that humans often lied, although most
of the time he was still unable to detect when this was the case. One
of the boys must be lying, and in this case he decided that the boy
hiding behind him was less likely to be the liar. He had observed
that those who put up a front, as he suspected the boy in front of him
was doing, often did not tell the whole truth.
"What is your name?" asked Data.
"David," the boy answered.
"And your friends?"
"Tom and Derek." David answered for them.
"I will check with your teacher whether you are on an assignment."
David's face fell, as did those of his two companions.
Data recalled the manner he had seen Riker assume when he had seen him
talk to some misbehaving youngsters.
"Go back to where you are supposed to be, and if I hear any stories
about your behaviour, you will be in big trouble!"
The three boys streaked back the way they had come, fear now showing
on their faces, rather than the cocky assuredness of before. Data
turned around and crouched down so as to be on the same level as the
small boy, who now had a hint of a smile showing through on his tear
"You were great!" he said. But then his face fell. "Are you going
to send me away too?"
"No" Data replied. "Not until I determine why you are upset."
The boy said nothing, just hung his head.
"What is your name?" asked Data.
"Gillam," the boy replied in a small voice.
"Why were you crying?"
"Because David and the others were chasing me and calling me names."
Data tilted his head to the side, puzzled. "Why did that cause you to
Gillam lifted his head, and almost shouted at Data, "Because they're
always picking on me because I'm small for my age."
Data was still puzzled. "Why would that cause them to 'pick' on you?"
A little surprised at his own outburst, Gillam tried to explain as
best he could. "David always picks on other people, It's just the way
he is. And because I'm short, he picks on me for that."
Data was still unable to comprehend this complex bit of behaviour, but
did the best he could to comfort the boy.
"I do not think his actions are justified. Should you not report
him to the teacher?"
Gillam was horrified. "Oh no, that would make him even worse! He
would find a way to get back at me." A look of alarm suddenly ap-
peared on his face. "Oh no, I should be in class now, the teacher's
going to be mad at me!"
He started off up the corridor, and then turned back to Data as if
suddenly remembering his manners when talking to a Starfleet officer.
"Good-bye, and thank you for not letting them get me."
"My pleasure." replied Data, and then added, although not sure why,
"If you need any further assistance, do not hesitate to contact me."
Gillam grinned, his confidence rapidly returning, and vanished around
Data stood there for a moment, his brow creased in puzzlement, then
continued on his way to engineering.
After his shift had ended, Data was still stumped over the behaviour
of David and his two friends, and he decided that the best course of
action would be to seek out Counsellor Troi. The computer informed
him that she was in her quarters, and he made his way there.
After requesting admittance, Data entered her quarters and found her
sitting in front of her computer screen. She turned as he entered,
and a look of surprise crossed her face as she saw who it was.
"I hope I am not disturbing you?"
"No, of course not," Troi replied. "Can I help you with
"I would like some advice."
"Well it's not often that an..." Troi's voice trailed off as she
realised what she was going to say, and Data finished off the sen-
"..an android asks for advice from a human counsellor. Doctor Selar
recently told me of one of the Vulcan sayings; 'rejoice in our dif-
ferences.' I am not offended at what you were about to say, indeed
Selar also told me that it is often said 'there is no offense if none
is taken.' Actually, that.."
"Data," interrupted Troi, "you are babbling."
Data appeared confused. "I have noticed that when people are uncom-
fortable about something that has been said, it is often necessary to
reassure them a number of times that they have not caused offense."
"It is sometimes more effective to say nothing at all about it, as
if it was not said." Troi replied.
Data considered this. "Hmm. I will file that away as another possi-
ble reaction to similar circumstances."
He abruptly changed the topic, as though heading this advice.
"I came to ask you about behavioural characteristics of young male
Troi's eyebrows shot up. "Why is that?"
Data briefly explained the events that had occurred.
When he had finished, Troi asked, "Why did you not access the child
psychology information on the computer?"
"I frequently find that information on the computer in regard to
human behaviour is not satisfactory when trying to apply it to what I
observe, and it usually takes another human to fully comprehend and
explain some aspects of human behaviour." Data's voice raised slight-
ly in pitch as he went on, full steam ahead. "For example, when you
were to be married to Wyatt and Riker appeared to be rather hostile
towards you, I needed Geordie to explain to me that even though you
were no longer involved with Riker, there were residual..."
Data stopped abruptly, as he noticed a severe frown on Troi's face.
"Is this one of those occasions where I should not apologise, and
pretend nothing was said on the subject?"
Troi nodded. "Yes!" she said. "Now will you let me explain?"
Data nodded, his mouth now firmly closed.
"Right," she said, gathering her thoughts. "It seems to me that this
boy - David?" she looked questioningly at Data, who nodded. "Is a
fairly typical bully. That usually means that he is deficient in some
area, and to cover this up he points out other people's flaws to boost
his own ego, which is actually quite fragile. He's probably big for
his age," Data nodded again, "which gives him a physical dominance
over others, which is pretty important at that age, and he exerts his
influence over other children who have little self control, who feel
the pull of a leader - good or bad - very strongly. How does that
Data nodded again, unwilling to open his mouth. Troi was amused.
"Data!" she laughed. "Say something!"
"I was unwilling to say anything, in case I offended or embarrassed
you," he said.
"Data, you can't go around not saying anything at all, how are you
going to learn anything? Everybody runs the risk of offending when
they speak, but it's worth the risk rather than saying nothing at all.
You just have to think a little more about the results of what you
want to say before you speak."
Data considered this. "Very well, I will attempt to do so. However,
often I am unable to determine in advance whether what I say will
"That is something you will learn with time and experience."
Data changed tack. "I am confused as to why children like David are
allowed to behave in this way."
Troi sighed. "I know what you mean Data, human children are now
brought up in a peaceful environment which abhors unnecessary vio-
lence, yet some children still seem to have to go through these stages
in their development."
"Can it not be stopped?"
"There is disciplinary action which can be taken, however the best
thing to do is to find out why they are behaving in that way, to see
what it is within themselves that is producing this inferiority com-
plex. I will have a talk to their teacher if you like - young chil-
dren can be very clever in hiding things from adults, who may not be
fully aware of what is going on."
"And what about Gillam?"
"He is probably a very sensitive young boy who needs someone to talk
to, to bolster up his confidence in himself."
"Do you think that I could fulfill that role?" Data asked hesitant-
"I don't see why not," Troi answered.
"Thank you for your help" Data said, leaving the room with a pleased
look on his android features.
Troi smiled to herself, and turned back to her computer terminal to
continued her treatise on why chocolate has such an enormous psycho-
logical effect on people.
Data went back to his quarters, and was about to access information on
the computer when his door entrance chimed. "Come in," he called out.
After a slight pause, a rumpled head appeared through the doors.
"Mr Data, can I come in?"
"Yes" he replied, and Gillam came slowly into the room, taking
everything in with wide-eyed amazement. He paused in front of a
painting on the wall.
"Did you paint that?" he asked.
"Yes" said Data, "A friend of mine tried to teach me to paint a
little while ago, and that is the only painting that I felt was suc-
Gillam sized it up critically, and closely examined the brushstrokes.
"You know, you would probably be better with oils. It seems like
here you were unsure about putting each stroke down, and with oils
there is more room for correction."
Gillam stopped his flow of advice, and turned to Data, unsure of how
his criticism would be received. Data looked quite pleased.
"That appears to be very sound advice. Do you do a lot of
Encouraged, Gillam went on. "A bit, although I prefer to do sculp-
ture. I want to be an artist when I grow up."
Data considered what Gillam was saying in the light of what Troi had
said about encouraging him. A fair amount of self interest also
prompted what he said next.
"I believe that the holodeck has programs on all of the famous Earth
art galleries. Would you be interested in explaining some of them to
Gillam's eyes lit up in excitement.
"Oh yes, would you really take me there?!"
"Yes, would you like to go now?"
A short time later, three Enterprise crew members were surprised to
see Data heading towards the holodeck with a small boy hanging onto
his hand, both of them engrossed in a serious discussion about the
relative merits of different art forms, and both of them looking
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