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Q’Mar was beginning to suspect that too much happiness could make you sick.

She was supposed to be bursting with joy, but she barely had it in her to pat her friend on the back, let alone join in the much-deserved whoops and cheers he was getting.

Patterson’s radishes were, what was that word again?, unanimously considered the best project their class had done, even if they looked crooked, pale and not good to eat at all, so instead of going back to his family’s quarters after school, he would be taken straight to the bridge, and he was so happy about it you just couldn’t help but smile along. It also meant there was no tour of the ship in her immediate future, which was too bad, because she would have loved a chance to peek at places she normally wasn’t supposed to see, but Patterson’s infectious excitement was the next best thing, really.

The judges, Miss Kyle and a bunch of other teachers from different classes, had said all sorts of nice things about her work too, admiring the neat charts she’d made detailing how long it took her to fall from different heights and what difference it made if she kept her arms stretched out all the way or only a little, and truth be told, even if she couldn’t actually see the result the way she would have liked, she was sure her new crayons made them look great, as she’d made it a point to highlight all the important things in reds and yellows and blues, but to be fair, the presentation could have gone  a little better.

By the time her turn came to explain what she’d done, she’d already lost count of how many other kids had gone before her, and boy, was the competition fierce! They all seemed very serious about their work, and knowing how much she still had to catch up on, Q’Mar was feeling decidedly queasy as she told all those teachers about her gliding ability. Her heart was hammering in her chest and she was feeling much too hot in the face for her liking; in all honesty, she even went as far as to be glad there were no good places for a demonstration in the classroom, because her legs were too wobbly to climb and take off properly.

She took great care not to mention how much the experiments had felt like a fun game to her, because then she wouldn’t have sounded like a proper little scientist. One thing she did admit to Miss Kyle and the others, however, was that studying the theory behind gliding flight had felt very odd to her, because it mostly came naturally, even without knowing the details about lift to drag ratio and all that. The ship’s computer was full of information, most of which was way above her level, and it had been very interesting to read it, but frankly, all it did was make gliding sound a lot more complicated than it was. Mommy and Daddy had been very careful and patient in teaching her how to glide without getting hurt, but they hadn’t done it by blabbering on and on about physics, preferring instead to show her how it was done. It was a lot less hassle that way.

The only thing that had really gone wrong all day was at the very beginning of the fair, when a boy a few grades above her by the name of Jake Potts had sneezed all over her. His experiment had something to do with the immune system, but he had to say goodbye to his chances of winning for not using proper protection and catching something called Levodian flu in the process. He’d considered staying in for the day, but the science fair was too important, and it wasn’t a very serious illness anyway, or he would have been told to choose a safer project in the first place.

Now that the fair was over and she and Patterson had gone their separate ways with one last celebratory hug, however, she really didn’t feel much like bouncing out of class and telling Mr. Data everything. She had a strange taste in her mouth, as if her respirator were suddenly spouting the wrong kind of vapour, and she was pretty sure the creatures in her stomach weren’t butterflies this time. More like elephants, if her book wasn’t lying about their size.

“Hello, Q’Mar.” Was he louder than usual? It sure felt like it, by the way her head was pounding.

“’Morning.” No, she definitely wasn’t up to telling him the full story. All she wanted was to go back to her room and curl up in bed. She even considered calling Sickbay when she got there.

“Am I to understand that young Mr. Supra was the winner of the science fair for your grade?” What, did he read minds too?

“How did you know?”

“It was a fairly simple deduction. I have just seen him with older children he does not usually associate with, and the route they took happens to lead to the bridge. How did your presentation go?”

“Fine, I think.”

She would have liked to say a little more, but talking and keeping up with Mr. Data’s long strides all at once seemed too much. Her legs gave way. The last things she remembered were the feeling of falling down, a combadge chirping somewhere way above her head and a familiar voice calling out: “Data to Sickbay. Medical emergency outside classroom eight.” If she didn’t know him any better, she could have sworn he sounded concerned.


Everything was far too bright for her liking. That was the first thing she noticed when she opened her eyes. The next was the steady sound of beeping machinery. It must have meant something, because not two seconds later, someone was rushing to her side. Someone who was definitely not Dr. Crusher.

“Good, you’re awake,” said the woman briskly. She sounded vaguely familiar, but Q’Mar couldn’t place her. Then she looked up at her and it clicked. Huh, it must have been the ears. She didn’t know much about Dr. Selar, just that she worked in Sickbay, she’d given her the okay to try Risan beans (she didn’t even like them in the end, what a bummer!), and she was the first Vulcan Q’Mar had ever seen. It wasn’t that she didn’t like her, really, but she was a little scary at times. She must have been good at her job, or she wouldn’t have been there at all, but she just wasn’t the right person to be around when you didn’t know what was going on. Her serious face somehow made Q’Mar feel even sicker. Surely Dr. Crusher would have at least given her a smile and explained everything nicely; a smile from her, instead, was in the realm of things that were simply not going to happen.

“What happened?”

“Lt. Cmdr. Data notified us that you had suddenly lost consciousness,” she answered, her eyes flickering all the while from her to the screen and back. “It appears you have caught Levodian flu.”

Q’Mar frowned. Even with her head still swimming, that didn’t add up. “Jake said it wasn’t serious.”

“For a human, perhaps,” said the doctor. “It seems Levodian flu has much worse effects on your physiology.”

Her stomach twisted unpleasantly, and it had nothing to do with the flu this time.

She could hardly get the words out. “Am I… am I going to d-die?”

“I do not believe so.” Q’Mar felt so light she might as well have been flying off the big veklar tree in her old backyard. That meant she was going to be okay, right? “However, I expect this to last longer than the customary twenty-nine hours, and I obviously hesitate to give you the same treatment I would to a human child. For now, the best I can do is keep your temperature from reaching dangerous levels again. Dr. Crusher is more familiar with your medical history than I am, but I do know that for your standards, you’re still running a fever.”

She was about to ask why Dr. Crusher was nowhere to be seen, but before she could put the sentence together, the whole ship gave an almighty lurch that almost sent her rolling off her bed. All the lights flickered for a moment before coming back to life, and Dr. Selar almost lost her balance too. The shrill sound of a red alert felt as though someone had driven something sharp into her already aching head.

“What’s going on?” Q’Mar couldn’t keep the fear out of her voice.

“Unknown at the moment.” She tapped her combadge, suddenly all business. “Sickbay to bridge. What happened?” There was silence on the other end, and somehow, silence was worse than bad news. “Bridge, please respond.” Nothing.

The doctor’s eyes flew to the screen to check if that, at least, was still working, and even Q’Mar tried to twist around a little to look at it. Bad idea. Her whole body seemed to complain loudly, muscles burning with the effort. A wave of nausea rose in her chest, but she fought it down. Now was perhaps the worst possible moment to throw up.

“Communications are down,” said Dr. Selar, “but at least we still have power. Whatever the cause of this, the damage must not be extensive enough to affect Sickbay.”

“Does that mean you’ll still be able to cure me?”

“Ideally, yes,” she answered. “But please be aware that we might have several injured people coming in soon—if they can reach us at all.”

“Wait, you mean someone could be stuck?” Her breath caught in her throat, and by the looks of it, it wasn’t her respirator’s fault.

“If the accident involved the doors or the turbolift system, yes,” she said as if stating the obvious. Then, more softly than she’d ever heard her speak before: “Do you have reason to believe someone you know might be in danger?”

“Maybe. My friend Patterson, he… he isn’t where he would usually be. The last time I saw him, he was going to the bridge.” Dr. Selar’s eyebrow rose impossibly high on her forehead and she rushed to explain: “I know kids aren’t allowed, but today’s special. He won the science fair.”

“I see.” Her unreadable face turned into the tiniest of frowns, so quick she could barely see it. “It is most unfortunate for this to happen when he should have been celebrating his achievement.”

“The prize was a tour with the Captain, so now he could be anywhere!” As if she didn’t feel sick enough on her own. What if Patterson was badly hurt? What if…? “He’s not… d-dead, is he? Can’t you at least make sure he’s not dead?”

“We are currently cut off from the communication system. There is no way to be certain of anyone’s status.”

No. This couldn’t be happening. It was like the Uquarr all over again: people screaming left and right, lifts falling for no reason at all, not one day passing without someone getting hurt, until at last, when the crew – or what was left of them – should have been celebrating the anniversary of the first time anyone had set foot on Lorquis’s first moon, the damage had reached the newfangled food replicators, something had gone horribly wrong with the jup-tal, and the kids had only been spared because they couldn’t drink it yet. Daddy had been the first to say it tasted strange—if only someone had listened!

Hot tears were streaming down her face before she even realized she’d started crying. Losing a friend was something that could happen, that much she knew, but to risk losing Patterson exactly the same way she’d lost Mommy and Daddy, just when he should have been at his happiest, was too much to bear. It would hurt to say goodbye now that she’d begun to settle in, but if she got out of this, she had half a mind to ask the Captain himself to dump her on the first inhabited planet they passed by and swear never to go into space again. It must have been some sort of curse, if every ship she boarded ended up like this.

Through her blurry vision, she couldn’t be certain, but for a moment there, Dr. Selar looked like she knew what to do with every illness in the galaxy, but not with tears.

“As far as we know, your friend could be fine,” she said finally, but there was a web of fine cracks in her usual confidence. “Wherever he is, the Captain will likely be nearby. He knows what to do in such cases.”

Q’Mar sniffled quietly. Everyone said the Captain didn’t like kids, but between a nice person who had no idea how to act in an emergency and someone stern and scary who at least had a chance to get them out of danger, she certainly wished Patterson and the other winners the latter kind of company. She nodded at the doctor, but that just made her even woozier.

“Now what?”

“There is nothing left to do but wait for the situation to get back to normal. I can set up privacy screens around your bed so you don’t have to see anything too frightening in case we have casualties coming in. Feel free to call me if you need anything.”

“Thank you.” Back on the Uquarr, she’d caught a glimpse of what it meant for a console to blow up right under somebody’s hands, and that had been enough for a lifetime. She shivered, and wasn’t quite sure if it had more to do with the fever or the memory.

“I am simply doing my job.” Dr. Selar busied herself with the screens and looked as though she had nothing more to say, but just before she pulled the curtain closed, she added: “I’ll make sure to tell you if there is any news about your friend. For now, I suggest you get some sleep.”

The doctor was partially right, it seemed: her head – or was it her heart? – didn’t want to sleep at all, but the rest of her found the idea of a nap quite attractive. She pressed her head a little deeper into the pillow, but she had closed her eyes for all of two seconds when another lump of ice took up residence in her chest right next to Patterson’s, and no matter how tired the flu was making her, all thoughts of going to sleep were tossed out the nearest airlock.

“Wait a minute!”

Dr. Selar stuck her head through the curtain. “Yes?”

“What about Mr. Data?”

There went the eyebrow again. “He is considerably less likely to get injured than the average person,” she said, and Q’Mar couldn’t help but sigh in relief. “I was not aware that you were familiar with him, although considering that you were together when you lost consciousness, it seems only logical. He obviously has no other business around the school area.”

“He’s…” she scrambled for a word that said it all, but found none, so she finished lamely: “nice. You remind me of him a little, except… you know…” She gestured vaguely to her own ears, then let her hand drop, half because she sounded silly even to herself, half because she was afraid she’d just said something really rude.

The doctor stepped all the way through the privacy screen. “You are not the first to compare us, nor are you the first to call attention to my ears. Generally speaking, I do not find it offensive, but I admit that the drastic increase in ear-related jokes around Christmastime is less than ideal.”

“Huh?” Q’Mar didn’t know if it was the fever or just the way she talked, but now she’d really lost her.

“An ancient Earth holiday that some people still celebrate with great enthusiasm. I do not specialize in folklore, but it seems to involve a type of legendary creature that shares the shape of its ears with Vulcans. I assume there is no such thing in your native planet’s mythology.”

“No.” She gave a weak smile. She’d never realized just how much Dr. Selar and Mr. Data were alike, perhaps because she’d seen so little of her so far, but they both used big words, and the fact that she was talking about all the teasing she got as if discussing the weather was something she would expect from him. It wasn’t exactly like having him by her side, but now that she saw the similarities, the pointy-eared doctor seemed a little less scary than she remembered. After all, even people who were always serious could have a big heart, even if it was mechanical or not placed where it should. “Are you and Mr. Data friends? You talk just like him.”

“‘Friends’ is perhaps a strong word, but we did spend time together outside of work on occasion,” she said. “I am developing an interest in art. Did you know Lt. Cmdr. Data is also a painter?”

Q’Mar sighed. She’d seen some of his work and she was sure it must be very nice, but she just couldn’t find it in her to be interested in that part of Mr. Data’s life. What was the point in trying?

“Yeah. I only wish I could see his pictures properly.”

She seemed to search her memory for the briefest moment. “Ah. Your medical file says your species only sees in greyscale. I apologize for bringing up a sensitive subject.”

“It’s all right. I have friends to help me with that. It’s just that sometimes I wish I could see colours as something more than just a label written on a crayon.”

“You also possess an ability others might envy, much the same way you envy their colour vision.”

“Mr. Data said the same thing.” When she remembered the rest of that particular conversation, her smile was back in full force. “And when he did, it reminded me of something I’d heard from a Vulcan. See? You really are a lot alike.”

“Indeed. It appears we share more than just a common interest.”

“Do you think I’ll ever be able to see in colour, even if just for a minute?” She’d never dared ask anyone, but if there was a person who might know, it was her. After all, while some of the medical technologies she’d seen on the Enterprise were familiar, a few others looked for all the world like magic, and maybe, just maybe

“Short of finding a way for your eyes to grow the necessary cone cells, I find that highly unlikely, and even if we did develop such a method, you would just be subjecting yourself to a pointless risk. Your species has evidently adapted to black and white vision, and we do not know what the consequences of changing that might be.”

The little bubble of hope that had begun to grow in her chest popped.

“It doesn’t matter.” They said lying wasn’t nice, but she supposed it wasn’t really a complete lie. It mattered a lot, but there was no way to solve it, so she might as well accept that her world would stay stubbornly grey forever.

Q’Mar ended the sentence with a yawn. It seemed Levodian flu was catching up with her after all.

“I’ll let you get your rest now.” Dr. Selar disappeared on the other side of the curtain, and she thought she heard her muttering something to herself, but she didn’t catch the words. Probably something scientific that would go way over her head in any case.


Q’Mar awoke to the sound of what seemed like a thousand people talking all at once, even if Sickbay surely couldn’t hold so many.

“Lateral malleolus fracture,” she thought she heard Dr. Selar say. “Which, with all due respect, would be considerably easier to treat if you had not strained it so.”

“I had a mutiny on my hands, Doctor,” came a deep voice Q’Mar had only heard once before.

“A mutiny, Captain?” Even with her usual calm, she sounded disbelieving.

“Long story. Are… ouch… are the children all right?”

Wait a minute, did he just say children? Q’Mar sat up as if the bed under her were burning hot, and paid for it with a dizzy spell that seemed to make the whole room wobble. She reached for the curtain, but her arm was just that much too short.

“Patterson! Is he here? Is he okay?” she called out to no one in particular. She didn’t expect anyone to have time to answer, but still…

The next thing she knew, someone very nearly ripped off the curtain, and she was being tackled.

“I’m right here. What are you doing in Sickbay? Are you hurt?” She could feel his voice rumbling in his chest as she hugged him back fiercely, needing to make sure she was awake and he was really there.

“Levodian flu,” she explained quickly. “From the boy who kept sneezing at the science fair. What about you? I’ve been so worried!”

“You wouldn’t believe what happened! We were terrified, and the tour is off, of course, but we got something even better. Look!”

He disentangled himself from her and pulled hard at his collar as if to show her something on it, and indeed, a single pin was glistening proudly on the fabric of his shirt, just like the ones most grown-ups on the ship wore on their uniforms, but Q’Mar wasn’t that good at reading rank yet, so she didn’t know what it meant, especially for a kid.

“I think I can keep it. The Captain has a lot to spare.” Then he lowered his voice to a whisper. “I’ll let you in on a secret: it’s not true that he doesn’t like us. I think it’s just a story to keep us away from the bridge. There’s no way he could have done all that if he didn’t like children. I can’t wait to tell you everything.”

It sounded like an exciting story, and even ten high fevers couldn’t keep her away from it—or so she thought.

“… stupid android had to go and do the noble thing. Somebody call Engineering, I think this is a job for both.”

More than hearing it, Q’Mar felt it: whatever was on the other side of the curtain had just made the entire Sickbay hold their collective breath, and if she’d heard right, it was about Mr. Data.

“Commander Riker, what happened?” asked Dr. Selar.

“He took half a million amps straight to his chest. He says he’s fine, but I don’t want to know what that did to his processors.”

Q’Mar wasn’t sure where the dizziness was coming from this time, but she had the impression that the flu was only halfway responsible. Even with her respirator working just fine, she found it hard to breathe. Mr. Data was hurt! Hadn’t the doctor said that wasn’t likely to happen? She didn’t know what half a million amps meant, but they sounded like half a million bad news. She was fairly sure she heard the same man mutter something like ‘lost his head in more ways than one’, but that didn’t make sense. Maybe the fever was worse than she thought.

“Dr. Selar to Engineering.”

“Ensign Gomez here,” answered a young female voice, sounding a little out of breath.

“Is Lt. Cmdr. LaForge available?”

“Just arrived, he’s checking for damage to the warp engines, I don’t know if we can spare him.”

“See that you do without him. His expertise is required in Sickbay at the moment.”

There was a short pause on the other end, as if the girl were wondering how that could even happen, and then: “Oh. Oh. I’ll send him up right away.”

“She’d better,” said another voice, and Q’Mar was torn between being happy that Dr. Crusher was back and being even more scared. She’d never heard her sound so stricken, and if Dr. Crusher didn’t know what to do, then it must be really bad. “Well? What are you all standing around for? Get him on an operating table. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a patient like any other, and by the looks of it, he has high priority. Move!”

There was a flurry of activity at her words, and as they carried Mr. Data past the opening in the curtain, Q’Mar and Patterson couldn’t resist craning their necks to see him.

She screamed. His usually pristine uniform was charred, and… and… she’d only caught a quick glimpse, so there was still a tiny bit of hope that she was wrong, but she couldn’t see his head. It seemed to be gone altogether. That just couldn’t be right; the absurdity of it made her feel oddly detached, as if it were all happening to somebody else. Where could it have gone? And besides, according to the officer who had carried him in, Mr. Data said he was fine, and without a mouth to speak, there was no way he could say anything in the first place, right? Was she seeing things because of the fever?

Moments later, Dr. Selar was with her again. “Calm down, child.”

Mr. Data was gone, sequestered away in an operating room, the last she’d seen of him was horribly broken, like a discarded toy, and she was telling her to calm down? How in the world did that make sense? Somehow, it made anger well up inside her, her breath coming in even shorter gasps. The doctor was a Vulcan, so keeping infuriatingly calm was as important a part of her as her membranes or her frill were to Q’Mar, and she could understand that, really, but being asked to do the same felt wrong. It was easy for her to say. Mr. Data hadn’t been there for her when she missed home. He hadn’t taught her a whole new language without ever making her feel dumb for her mistakes. He hadn’t been at her birthday party.

“But… but he…”

“The damage is not irreversible.”

“But his head…”

“If he were human, I would not give you false hopes, but let me remind you that he is not. It’ll be a delicate operation, one I am not qualified to perform, but I believe Lt. Cmdr. Data will be fully operational once they are done with him.”

“They can… they can fix him?” It seemed impossible, the kind of thing that only happened in bedtime stories or in the dreams that came after them.

“Yes. I am not a cyberneticist, but I do know that his positronic brain is fully independent and will not suffer from being detached from the rest of his body.”

When people started using words like ‘positronic’, Q’Mar was pretty much resigned to the fact that missing a few bits here and there was inevitable, but the gist of it was that Mr. Data would be okay, that much she knew. A tension she hadn’t even fully known was there left her body, and between that and the flu, plopping back down on her bed seemed the only thing left to do. Well, that and hoping as hard as she could.


Q’Mar’s first thought when she woke up was that she hadn’t realized she’d fallen asleep again in the first place. Levodian flu must be playing tricks on her.

Then her drowsy brain caught up with her and saw that Dr. Crusher was standing over her bed. And if she was here, then…

“What did I miss? Where is he? Is he okay?”

“Hold your horses, little one. You still need to rest. But if you promise not to get too excited, there’s someone here to see you.”

This time, the bubble of hope swelled and swelled until it filled her up from the top of her frill all the way down to her toes.

And then the curtain slid open, and there were so many things she wanted to say at once that she ended up choosing none.

“Hello. Dr. Crusher suggested I stop by, as recent events have apparently caused you considerable distress.”

“But… but… how?” was all she could manage.

He took a moment to consider what she meant, then said: “I believe the specifics of it are too complex for a child your age. For now, all you need to know is that I am undamaged, though the good doctor insists I make certain of the optimal condition of the servo mechanisms in my neck.”

“Can you blame me? Anyone else in your place would be in for some long, long rounds of physical therapy, and I guess a part of me can’t accept the fact that you don’t need it.”

“I guarantee you, Doctor, my latest self-diagnostic reveals no decrease in the functionality of my neck joints, but if you find it in any way reassuring…”

He started bending his head in every direction, slowly at first, then faster and faster, showing no sign of wanting to stop until he was told to, even if that meant moving so quickly they could hardly see him, and she was sure he would have gotten to that point if Dr. Crusher hadn’t raised her hands in surrender. When he stopped, there was not a single hair out of place on his head.

“Okay, okay, I get it, no need to show off. You’re officially released and fit for duty.”

Surprising even herself, Q’Mar let out a small laugh. It was too weird a sight to stay serious.

“Was that… funny?” he asked, sounding like he didn’t quite believe it.

“Well, yeah. I never thought I’d see you do something like that.”

“Ah, I see. A humorous effect can sometimes be achieved by doing something that is perceived as unexpected or incongruous.”

“And with that, you’ve really confirmed you’re still the same old Data,” said the doctor with a smile so bright it was hard not to join in.

Head Screwed on Right
Hello, everyone!
I'm proud to present #042 of the 100 Innocent Themes challenge, "Sick Day", and yes, I'm nerdy enough to think 42 is significant.
I feel like I'm cheating horribly--having Q'Mar sleep through the worst of it sure is a cheap way to handle Disaster.
There's a reason for everything in this piece, particularly for Dr. Selar. You'll see her again, so keep their interaction in mind for later.
I confess I didn't know what title to give this, so I literally looked up a list of English idioms containing the word "head" in a desperate search for something clever.
(PS: in my head, Q'Mar didn't actually go through the trauma of seeing her parents die: a Lorquian celebratory banquet works somewhat like a Greek symposium, and by the time the drink killed them, the kids had already been shooed out of the room to let the adult-only portion of the party start.)

Q’Mar was perfectly convinced she wouldn’t have a wink of sleep that night. An out-of-season birthday party, and with Mr. Data on top of it! Well, that was enough to keep anyone awake. Sure, she was a little tired, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt to close her eyes just for a little while, but she was most definitely not going to sleep, and if she did, she’d probably dream about the party anyway.

And so it was that, when she opened her eyes again and groggily asked the computer for the time, as she’d been taught, she was shocked to hear that it was twenty-eight minutes past seven in the morning. That meant it was officially the day of the party!

Q’Mar was suddenly more awake than she’d ever been and scrambled out of bed. She was fully dressed and had already triple-checked that her respirator was on straight before she realized that she was not, in fact, late for anything, and it would be a few hours before she was meant to go to Ten Forward—with permission, no less! They’d be the most boring hours of her life, that was for sure.

She thought Pikk would make the wait a little easier, but hugging the dolphin tight and pretending to make him jump in and out of an ocean that wasn’t there only served to remind her that Patterson had received presents on his big day, and if it was a half-Lorquian, half-human party that awaited her, there were probably some in store for her too. Back home, they were not such a huge staple of the celebration: while it was not unusual to receive a small trinket just to make the occasion extra special, birthdays could go without presents without making you any less happy. Being with all the people you cared about was enough. Your fifth birthday was the only one on which presents were practically mandatory. Nobody actually said so, but everyone acted like they were, and they were usually big presents at that. When Miss Kyle had encouraged her to tell the class a little about how birthdays were celebrated on her planet, everyone in the room had looked outraged at the thought of no presents, and Patterson had actually pulled his brand new book about plants a little closer, as if someone were about to take it away from him (plants were his new favourite thing to talk about, after he got bored with dinosaurs), so it was obvious that getting presents was a very important part of human birthdays. Whatever she got, she would never forget Pikk, though. He meant too much to her to sit in a corner while she enjoyed her new stuff.

She played with her plushie a little longer, but soon enough, even Pikk couldn’t stop her from pacing around the room so much she thought she’d put a hole through the carpet if she kept it up, so she ventured out, her insides fluttering a little as they always did when she walked the corridors of the Enterprise alone.

There was no way she could get lost, like that time very early in her stay when she’d taken a wrong turn and didn’t know yet that she could just ask the computer for help when that happened, so it wasn’t fear that put ‘butterflies in her stomach’ (she’d seen pictures and videos of Terran butterflies, so now she understood the expression better). It was curiosity. She’d even learnt that word in Standard, because she was pretty sure she had a lot of it. At first, she wasn’t sure she could name it, even though Counsellor Troi had said very clearly that she should always give her emotions a name, both the nice and the not-so-nice ones, but for all the times he repeated he had no feelings at all, it was Mr. Data who had truly helped her get it. When she’d asked him just what the Enterprise was doing out in space, he’d thought that maybe the idea of exploration would go over her head, but she understood exactly. After all, she was discovering plenty of new places and things herself, so she was an explorer too. Kind of.

The first thing she did was visit her old friends one by one, but none of them would tell her anything about what to expect, even though it was clear they knew something she didn’t. No matter how much she peppered them with questions, they refused to answer as if someone had sealed their lips with very, very strong glue, though in P’Jor’s case, he may have just been too sleepy to say anything, as her ringing had apparently woken him up in the middle of a particularly nice dream. Oops. She hadn’t realized that the others might have wanted to sleep in a little longer.

P’Lok was second only to her in his excitement, as he always was when he got the chance to spend time with a high-ranking officer, but when she asked what he was excited about, he wouldn’t say a word, preferring to give a lot of extra attention to straightening his already perfectly straight clothes to avoid her questioning. He looked almost blinding in the lightest-coloured top he owned. Back home, it had been a natural association to make: light colours meant either that you were in charge, or that you were dressing up for a very important event. How weird it had been, that one time they’d gotten a glimpse of the Captain, to find out that Starfleet uniforms did not assign the lightest shade to the most important people! Wasn’t that much simpler than having to stare rather rudely at everyone’s necks to count the pips?

Q’Vel, she thought, looked especially smug as she said: “You’ll see” and then fell into a stubborn silence. ‘Stubborn’ was a word she’d often heard adults use to describe her, but it seemed everyone was bent on beating her at that particular game. She begged her to say more, but there was no way to make her talk, and while Q’Mar knew it was for the best, because whatever was in store would make her even happier if it came as a surprise, that didn’t stop another part of her from wanting to know everything right away.

After she gave up on trying to get information out of her fellow Lorquians, she realized there was something just as important she had to do: make absolutely sure that Mr. Data could really come to the party, not just because she wouldn’t be allowed into Ten Forward without him, but because she honestly wanted him there and she wouldn’t be nearly as happy if something came up. However, there was a problem: while she knew that the ship’s computer could easily help her find him, she could also guess that the gentle voice’s answer would likely be one of three places: the bridge, which was simply not a place for kids, as she’d been told a million times over, somewhere down in Engineering, where there was danger everywhere she turned, or his quarters, which she’d only ever visited for her Standard lessons so far.

When it turned out that she’d been right and he really was in his room, Q’Mar stood frozen in the corridor for a moment, squirming under the odd looks the few passing crewmen were shooting her, as if saying: Why would that kid be looking for someone so important? She almost turned on her heels and resigned to wait until party time all alone. Mr. Data probably had a very good reason for being where he was and didn’t want to be bothered. She had no idea what he might be doing, but she had the sinking feeling he wasn’t exactly playing with Spot (the ever-serious Mr. Data, playing! That would have been a sight to see), or something that could easily be interrupted. She had to make sure, though. After all, where would the party be held if he couldn’t come? Q’Mar didn’t know of an alternate plan. Surely he wouldn’t be too bothered if she just stopped by to ask him that. She’d be as quick as… as… whatever her human friends said when they wanted to describe someone fast, and then she’d go back to her own quarters like a good little girl and try not to go crazy with boredom.

When she got to his place, something happened that made her afraid she’d gotten the wrong door: she had to ring twice before he showed up. That wasn’t like him at all. He usually answered in a flash.

“Good morning, Q’Mar.”

“Hello, Mr. Data.” She was practically bursting to ask.

“Is there a problem?”

She frowned. What problem could he be talking about? She’d been taught very early on that she should ask Miss Kyle if she didn’t understand something, Sickbay if she felt ill, and Security if she ever thought she was in danger. Mr. Data’s name was nowhere on that list, though she sure wished it were, because he was probably smart and strong enough to solve all those kinds of problems put together and then some.

“Not really.” She thought she saw Spot in the room behind him. The cat was getting used to them, lesson after lesson, and didn’t run away anymore when she saw it was one of them at the door. She was really quite a lovable creature once she stopped hissing and hiding, and Mr. Data had taken to using her in his example sentences, making them all smile when it happened. This time, she was busy chasing after something long and thin, and seemed to enjoy biting and clawing at it. “Did you get Spot a new toy?”

“You might say so.” That, too, was weird. Mr. Data always said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when he could, and never danced around facts or gave half-answers like that. “But I suspect you are not here to take stock of my cat’s playthings. Will you come in and tell me the true reason for this visit?”

As she stepped inside, Q’Mar was more aware than ever that it was the first time they’d had a conversation that didn’t take place during a Standard lesson or on the way to or from school. It seemed today was an all-around special day, even before the celebration started.

“Can you still come to the party?” she asked. Just as an extra precaution, she crossed her fingers, like she’d seen one of her classmates do a few times. Apparently, you were supposed to do it when you really, really hoped for something to happen.

“Unless I am called to the bridge for a sudden emergency, I have no other plans.” Huh, imagine that. Crossing your fingers really did work. Q’Mar made a mental note to say thank you to Clara the next time she saw her—which, surprise, surprise, was at the party.

“Yay! What do you think it’ll be like?”

“I cannot tell you that in advance. All I can say is that there is a 99.8% chance you will be satisfied with it.”

Now, Q’Mar might not have been great at maths, but one thing she did know: that was the highest number he’d ever rattled off, and if she understood his odd way of talking correctly, it meant the party would be great.

“I can’t wait.”

There was silence after that, and Q’Mar didn’t like it one bit. She liked talking to Mr. Data, as he seemed to be an endless source of fun facts and he never told her she asked too many questions, whether they were two or two thousand, but what was she supposed to talk about besides school or her latest doubt about that one pesky Standard word that tied her tongue in a knot?

“Your room is very pretty.” There, she couldn’t go too wrong with a nice compliment, could she? Besides, it was true. Mr. Data’s quarters were bigger than hers, which only made sense, she supposed, since he was so important, and you could tell he’d owned them for a long time. Other than her school things and Pikk, her room really was no different from any of her friends’, while his had all the markings of a place that had been lived in. A few of Spot’s favourite toys (which she was still happily ignoring, by the way) were strewn around, and he seemed to have collected a number of things she’d never really noticed before, such as a potted plant, a strange transparent ornament, and a picture she didn’t understand hanging on a wall. It might just be because she couldn’t tell the colours apart, but why would he keep a picture of what looked to her like a jumble of different-sized rectangles? She squinted at it, but it didn’t help her make sense of it.

Mr. Data followed her gaze. “Ah, yes. Tableau I with Red, Black, Blue and Yellow, by the Terran painter Piet Mondrian.” He seemed to be about to launch into one of those lectures that sometimes made her feel stupid, but thought better of it. “Do you like it?”

Q’Mar bit her lip. It wasn’t that she didn’t like it, exactly, she just didn’t know why it was there. She’d seen prettier things, to be honest, but if there was one thing she knew about Mr. Data, it was that he never did anything without a reason, so there had to be one for the picture too. And then, of course, there was the small matter of the colours. The title alone made her… sad? Maybe a little envious? She’d never really questioned the way she saw the world around her before. Her eyes had always been good enough as they were, but now that she lived among humans and saw how important all those colours were to them, she felt that perhaps there was something missing from her life without them. She had the terrible impression that the world would be a lot more beautiful if only she could see red, black, blue and yellow the same way everyone else did, and she was missing out on it.

“I wish I could see it like you do. Then maybe I could decide if I like it or not.”

“Your eyesight is not necessarily inferior. It is simply different.”

“There are good kinds and bad kinds of different, and guess which one this is.”

“I understand why you would see it as such,” he said. “But for example, your friend Patterson might one day find himself wishing he could fall from a great height without being injured, and then he would think of you as being ‘a good kind of different’, as you say. Everyone brings something unique to the universe, whether they can see it in colour or not.”

Q’Mar considered his words carefully. For one with no emotions, he sure knew how to cheer her up. That last part seemed to stir something in her memory, but it was a moment before she remembered what it was.

“Miss Kyle invited a Vulcan boy a few classes above us once, and I think he said almost the same thing.”

“Ah. I suppose it is indeed similar to their IDIC philosophy.”

She nodded. That was exactly what the pointy-eared boy had called it, but the name had slipped her mind.

“I thought I understood it the first time around, but I guess I didn’t really get it until now.” Q’Mar paused. She’d meant to tell him for a while, but she’d never had the chance to do it. Now, though, without the others listening or a lesson to worry about, might just be the right time. “You’re a great teacher, you know?”

“Thank you. Teaching is as new an experience to me as learning Federation Standard is to you.”

Q’Mar could practically feel her eyes bugging out. “Really? You mean you were scared you’d mess up?” She realized her slip as soon as the words were out of her mouth.

“I am incapable of being scared. However, I did estimate the probability of my being a less than adequate teacher as rather high. Knowing the facts is only a part of what is required to teach them.”

“I don’t know what the other parts are, but I’m pretty sure you’ve got them.”

“I am honoured to hear you say so.”

A sudden chirp put an end to the conversation. “LaForge to Data,” the Chief Engineer’s voice rang out.

Q’Mar felt as if she’d swallowed ice. Not only did that mean she had to go, but what if Mr. Data got held up in Engineering for the rest of the day and couldn’t come after all? Worse yet, it would have been terribly rude and maybe even dangerous to interrupt him just to ask. What if there was some real trouble with the ship?

Stomach twisting unpleasantly, she settled for waving him goodbye. He waved back, but the rest of him was all serious business as he answered: “Data here. What is the problem?”

She never got to hear what the problem was, and to be perfectly honest, she wouldn’t have understood the half of it.

It wasn’t until she was halfway back to her own quarters that she realized what Spot’s toy was (or used to be, before she chewed it so thoroughly Q’Mar almost didn’t recognize it): a piece of ribbon just like the one that had adorned Patterson’s new book. Could that mean…? Getting her hopes up was a dangerous thing, but it was too late: the butterflies were back in full force.


It wasn’t very nice to get all those strange looks from people going in and out of the bar, but Q’Mar supposed that a steadily growing group of kids standing by the entrance and getting more bored and restless by the minute wasn’t something you saw every day. It wasn’t their fault if they had to wait for a grown-up before they could walk through those doors and get the party started, though! Those who already knew what Ten Forward was like, having visited it with their parents, kept saying it was well worth the wait, but admittedly, standing around like that wasn’t exactly a great start.

She was beginning to lose hope when the whispering started. Q’Mar stood on tiptoe to see what was happening (why did everyone have to be just that much taller than her?) and felt something warm swell in her chest. Yes, yes, yes! Mr. Data had finished just in time, and he’d brought Counsellor Troi along too, so now they were twice as sure they could get in!

The cheers were so loud that the doors slid open and someone came to see what was going on. It was the same lady who had explained to Q’Mar that she couldn’t visit the bar on her own (at least she’d done it nicely, without making her feel like she’d done something terrible), and she was still wearing that strange hat, too.

“Ah, I see.” She grinned, her teeth bright against her dark skin, and looked straight at Q’Mar. “Somehow, I had the feeling I’d see you around here again.” She winked, and though winking was new to her, like so many other things, she understood her meaning as if she’d said it out loud: I couldn’t stop you forever, could I?

They all filed in, and Q’Mar’s jaw dropped. Some of the tables had been gathered together and almost entirely covered in yummy-looking snacks, balloons in what had to be every bright colour on Earth and then some punctuated the softly-lit room, and just outside, so close you could almost touch them, the stars seemed to stand guard over the beautiful display, peeking in curiously from the tall windows as if they, too, knew something special was happening and wanted their share.

“What do you think?” The Counsellor’s voice startled her. She’d entirely forgotten she was supposed to say something.

“It’s… perfect.” There were a thousand things she could have said, but that seemed to sum them all up.

“Well, then, have fun, everyone. And don’t spoil your appetite!” She definitely exchanged a look with Q’Vel at that, one of those looks that had to mean something, but she didn’t know what.

“Is everything safe to eat?” she asked. It just wouldn’t do to be sick at her own party.

“All the refreshments have been personally approved by Dr. Crusher as not harmful to any species represented.” Well, that was all the reassurance she needed, and coming from Mr. Data, it just sounded that much more certain.

She picked something from the nearest bowl and studied it carefully before popping it into her mouth. It was almost paper-thin, it tasted salty and it made a pleasant crunchy noise. Q’Mar was reminded of Andorian tuber root, and though it wasn’t quite the same, she’d definitely found something she liked.

She went to take a second one and almost brushed fingers with Patterson, who had been about to do the same.

“So,” he said, “is this very different from the way you celebrate birthdays on your planet?”

“A little. We don’t have those balloons, and of course the food isn’t the same, but I guess a party’s still a party, wherever you go.”

“What kind of games do you play?”

“Something like your game of tag, only…” She trailed off. There weren’t any good places to climb in Ten Forward unless she clambered all the way up the windows themselves, which was exactly the sort of thing the adults were there to stop, and no one but the other Lorquians would be able to play that kind of tag anyway.

“I get it. You do that gliding thing. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen it.”

“You will,” P’Jor chimed in, startling them both. Sometimes, he just seemed to pop up from nowhere. “What about the good luck flights? It’s not a proper party without them.”

A few others caught on to his words and started whispering. Even Clara, who usually didn’t talk much, said: “What are those? The name sure sounds cool.”

“We’re supposed to pick her up all together and throw her as high as we can, as many times as her age. It’s safe, she could just glide back down even if we didn’t catch her, and that hardly ever happens anyway.”

“It is remarkably similar to the human practice of carrying someone in triumph, if I understood the procedure correctly.” Q’Mar’s heart fluttered. From what she knew of Mr. Data’s strength, he could probably give her the highest good luck flights ever, all on his own.

“Did someone say ‘good luck flights’? Those are always fun.” P’Lok made a great show of stretching his arms in preparation, as if he were to pick up something very heavy. “But since it’s not really her birthday, how many times are we supposed to do it?”

“We could just do it once to show everyone what it’s like,” Q’Vel suggested. “After all, Q’Mar isn’t yet two on our calendar, but it would be sad to do without. It’s important.”

“That’s an excellent idea,” the Counsellor approved. “That way, you can honour your tradition and we can all learn something new. Ready, kids?”

She stepped away from the snack tables and into an open area so that no one would bump against anything, and all the partygoers gathered around her. Even the few officers who were spending their off-duty time on the fringes of the birthday bash watched with interest.

“Careful, now, Data, we wouldn’t want the little one to hit the ceiling.”

“I shall endeavour to apply only the proper amount of force.”

There was some awkwardness as everyone formed a tight circle and made sure they gave their contribution to the good luck flight, but at last, Q’Mar was lying securely on what felt a little like a bed made of friendly hands. Mr. Data (and how nicely warm he was, despite all the times he had remarked with not-quite-sadness that he was only a machine!) made one of his usual complicated comments about having overestimated her weight by at least 40%, and finally, they were ready.

“On the count of three?” Counsellor Troi proposed. There were nods all around. “One… two… three!”

Q’Mar whooped as their combined efforts propelled her upwards, and then, just as she felt herself starting to fall back down with a not at all unpleasant twinge in her insides, she spread her arms as far as they would go, and her membranes did the rest. The air itself seemed to catch her, breaking her descent as she knew it would. Feeling particularly daring, she twisted her head a little to watch the reactions of the people below, and as Patterson stared in wonder at how slowly she was dropping, she had a wholly different kind of twinge. At that precise moment, she felt at home. It was the first time she’d dared to think that since the rescue, but it was true.

“That,” said her friend as they all helped her stand upright after her little show, “was the coolest thing I’ve seen since the chameleon roses in the arboretum.” Coming from the plant buff he was becoming, it was high praise. “You should use it for the science fair somehow. Maybe record how long it takes you to fall from different places.”

Q’Mar nodded eagerly. Since Miss Kyle had told them that the science fair was coming up, everyone had been exchanging ideas for their projects, but so far, Q’Mar hadn’t been able to come up with anything as interesting as what the others were doing. Patterson had already begun growing his radishes and taking notes about their progress, and Clara (who had apologized profusely after she realized that Q’Mar could never really understand) was doing something about colours and heat absorption. Nothing she’d considered sounded nearly as cool, but making an experiment out of herself? Wow! Miss Kyle had made it very clear that their work had to be unique, and if that wasn’t unique enough for her, she didn’t know what was.

“Thank you so much! It’s a great idea! I’ll just have to ask if it’s safe enough.”

“I hope it is. It would look great if you did a thing like that again at the fair.”

“That’s not what matters. You don’t win just by doing something that looks good.”

“I wish I knew the secret for winning, because then I’d get to see places where we’re not usually allowed. Just like today, only even better, because the Captain might show the winners the battle bridge or the torpedo bay if we… I mean they… ask nicely.”

“Best of luck with that,” said the Counsellor, sounding for all the world like she was holding back a laugh. Maybe Patterson was dreaming just slightly too big. “Now, why don’t you all show Q’Mar something you like to do at human birthday parties? After all, this is a little of both.”

A flurry of different suggestions came from all sides at those words, and Q’Mar found out that there were plenty of fun games to play with both feet firmly on the floor. No one seemed to mind having to take the time to explain the rules before they started, and she soon found herself losing hopelessly at musical statues because she was giggling too hard to keep still. Incidentally, she found that she liked human music: it was a lot different from what she’d heard on Lorquis and she’d been scared at the prospect of having to dance to it, but it wasn’t unpleasant to her ear at all, and to nobody’s surprise, Mr. Data was very knowledgeable about it, having something to say about each and every piece that was played, even if it was just another one of those children’s songs that everyone knew but her. Once the embarrassment of that was over, though, some of them were pretty funny. The Laughing Vulcan and His Dog, in particular, had her in stitches before the end of the first verse, and it seemed that laughing was contagious even between species.

“I’d love to hear you play sometime,” she said as soon as she’d caught her breath. According to the Counsellor, Mr. Data was also an excellent musician.

“That could be arranged,” he said in all seriousness. Wow, time to cross her fingers again. “Being able to draw comparisons between Terran and Lorquian music would be an interesting side project for my off-duty hours.”

“Oh, Data, you’re always working,” said the Counsellor. “You could learn a thing or two from the kids.”

“That is one of the reasons I am here,” he answered, as if saying something that should have been obvious. “And I must say this is proving to be an excellent example of the humanoid concept of ‘fun’. I should try it as soon as my schedule allows.”

His longtime friend and colleague gave him one of her warm smiles at that. Q’Mar was glad for this chance to see the way they acted with each other: she liked them both, but they were so different it was a wonder they managed to work together at all—one unable to have feelings, though she was seriously beginning to doubt it was completely true, and the other having to deal with everyone else’s as well as her own.

“It is, isn’t it?” she agreed. “And someone is about to have a lot more fun!” Counsellor Troi raised her voice at that and turned to shoot one of those meaningful looks at the bartender, Guinan, she thought they’d called her.

Her only response was to dive behind the counter. For a moment, only her funny hat was visible, but when she emerged… well, Q’Mar couldn’t believe her eyes. She didn’t know where they’d been until then, but the fact remained that she’d just deposited two shiny packages in front of her, one of which sported a ribbon that looked just like the one Spot had been happily chewing that morning.

“Is… is that all for me?”

But Guinan had disappeared again, quick as a flash, and when she came back for the second time, her question almost went unheard under the general yelling of: “Cake time!”

The first few kids to reach the counter stopped dead in their tracks when they had a closer look at it.

“Weird. Looks good, but it’s still weird.”

“It looks like a starfish to me.”

Having seen a picture of an Earth starfish, Q’Mar had to go and make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Her breath caught in her throat. Apart from the candles – five of them, as they were apparently counting her years the Terran way this time –, it was almost identical to the brand of sweet bread she used to share with Mom and Dad whenever there was something to celebrate, with its five twisting branches that were so much harder to make than a plain round shape and that much more special for it, only… were those icoberries that had been arranged prettily around the base of each candle? Double yum!

Q’Mar fought down a lump in her throat. “This is the best party ever.”

“Glad you think so,” said the Counsellor. “Why don’t you open your presents?”

She reached for the closest one, the one which she suspected more and more that Mr. Data had wrapped himself (with Spot’s not-so-useful collaboration). It was flat and hard to the touch. She almost didn’t dare undo all his work, and started unwrapping it with care, starting from a corner. Patterson giggled.

“You’re supposed to rip it up! Come on, it’s not like you’re hurting it!”

She thought it over for a moment, then decided to do as he said and opened the rest of the present with a satisfying ripping noise.

She was missing out on its colours, again, but the pictures on the cover were clear enough even in scales of grey (well, at least grey was a colour she could understand).

“It is from both of us,” said Mr. Data. “You seem to have shown a particular interest in the animals of Earth. I could have just as easily sent the information to your school PADD, but the Counsellor believed an actual bound book would be ‘a nice touch’ for your room as well as an educational tool. You will notice I have already bookmarked the oceanic fauna section.”

Q’Mar looked more closely. There seemed to be a slip of paper inside, and she let the book fall open at the page it indicated. The picture there looked every bit like a bigger version of Pikk.

“Wow,” she breathed. She couldn’t wait to see it all, but it was not the time. There was another package to open, rather flat as well, though it wasn’t easy to guess what it was just by the shape.

“Some of it was Miss Kyle’s idea,” Patterson admitted just as she started ripping the paper, “but the whole class made it together.”

Inside were not one, but two things, and one of them was a box of crayons. Her face fell. Didn’t they know by now that it would always be awkward for her to use those?

“Open the box before you say anything,” said Clara softly.

Q’Mar did. She took a random crayon from the box and almost dropped it. She chose another one, and it was the same. Then another, and another… Her friends had labeled them all with the names of their colours and little pictures of things that she already knew she was supposed to colour with them—for instance, the one named ‘YELLOW’ came with a tiny sketch of the Earth’s sun.

The second part of the present was another book, but much smaller. She opened it, struggling a little to do it without letting go of her precious box. It was a list, written in a lot of different handwritings, telling her exactly which crayon she had to use for what, and as she flipped through it, she saw that most of it was still blank.

“You can add to it any time you draw something new,” said Patterson. “That way, you can learn about colours without seeing them, and practice reading and writing in Standard at the same time. At least, Miss Kyle said so.” The boy came closer and pried the box gently from her hand. “For example, if you want to draw a picture of yourself, you have to use this,” he fished out the one with the word ‘ORANGE’ and a little figure with an unmistakable frill on its head, “but it also goes for carrots, and basketballs, and who knows how many other things.”

“And you…” She had to try two wrong ones before she stumbled upon the one with a fairly human-looking stick figure, “you’re pink instead, right?”

“Right! See? It’s working already!”

“Thank you so much!”

“Group hug!” someone called out, and she’d never been so happy to see a mass of pink, yes, pink, threatening to squeeze her half to death.

“Aren’t we forgetting something?”

All heads turned towards the Counsellor. She was holding a big knife and letting it hover close to the cake. The cheers were almost deafening.

“Wait a minute!” Clara spoke up. “What about the song?”

That had slipped Q’Mar’s mind entirely. What did it sound like, again?

Counsellor Troi put the knife down and said: “Of course! Please, don’t be too harsh a judge, Data. This isn’t exactly the Handel and Haydn Society.”

“Will my name even fit?” asked Q’Mar quickly, before the singing could begin.

“Any name can fit in there,” said Patterson, “and if it doesn’t, we make it. Mine’s longer than yours and it fits just fine.”

“Right, then. Is everybody ready?”

The Counsellor motioned for them to start by playfully waving her index fingers in the air, which apparently meant something to them, because they all reacted as one:

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday, dear Q’Mar,
Happy birthday to you!

Patterson was right: it fit. It still sounded a little out of place, but it fit in its own way. Just like her.

All the singers looked sheepishly at Mr. Data, waiting to hear just how badly they’d done accordingly to his sensitive, musically trained ears.

“It seems Counsellor Troi was correct. You are not quite ready to form a professional choir. However,” he paused as if looking for the right word, “it was most definitely fun.”

“That it was, Data,” she said, smiling from ear to ear. “Will you take care of the candles, Guinan?”

“Just a minute.” The bartender pushed a button. “Security?”

“Lt. Worf here. What is the problem?” came a deep voice from the other end.

“I wouldn’t call it a problem. Could you temporarily turn off the fire system in Ten Forward, please? We have a birthday party going on and we wouldn’t want a few simple candles to set off the force field all over the cake.”

There was a pause. “Done. Be sure to call again when they are extinguished. We would not want any real hazards to be overlooked, either.”

“Don’t worry, I will. Guinan out.”

She lit the candles one by one and Q’Mar couldn’t help but grin. They looked like five little stars that wanted to go join their big sisters out there.

“Make a wish, little one,” said Guinan softly. Q’Mar frowned. Her friends had said that to Patterson too, now that she thought about it, but she didn’t really understand that tradition.

“You’re supposed to wish for something really, really hard before you blow out your candles,” explained Clara.

“But don’t say what it is out loud, or it won’t come true!” added Patterson quickly.

“Let me think.”

It was surprisingly hard to choose the right wish. After all, she had friends old and new who cared about her and a safe place to stay. Short of wishing for her family back, and even she could see that blowing out some candles wasn’t about to make that happen, there was nothing she could have asked for. Except… It wasn’t often that Q’Mar thought about the distant future, but she knew that people transferred on and off the Enterprise all the time, so what if her stay wasn’t forever?

She breathed in until she felt her lungs were close to bursting and thought: Wherever I go, I wish for a place where I fit. For good measure, she crossed her fingers too. Then she blew until she was all out of air, and though the respirator made things harder, the five little flames flickered and died one by one. Everyone clapped their hands – yes, everyone, even Mr. Data, though he joined in a moment later, as if he were doing it just because everybody else was – and Guinan took a moment to wave her hand over the cake to disperse the last of the smoke, while the Counsellor picked the knife back up.

“Now that that’s done, the birthday girl should have the first cut,” she said, and took her hand with her free one. She manoeuvred so that they were both gripping the handle safely. The bigger hand guided the smaller one downwards, and… yes! There might be no icoberries on her colour list (yet), but the dark shade of the jam that was peeking out was definitely familiar.

When she took a bite out of her piece, she found that it wasn’t quite like the Lorquian dessert she was used to, but though it was definitely made with other ingredients and maybe a little sweeter than expected, it was just as soft, and honestly, the generous dose of icoberry filling that was soon smeared all over her lips made up for any difference. The tastes were another thing that simply fit together, just like Q’Mar and her friends.
Birthday Shenanigans Part 2 - Party Time
Aaaaand here's part two.
(I literally re-read the 100 Innocent Themes list in search of inspiration and belatedly noticed that the title of this story is the same as #040. As I'd already officially taken the challenge when I wrote and posted this, it means I've checked off another item without even knowing.)
Yes, for those of you who were wondering, in my head the Clara in this story is Clara Sutter from Imaginary Friend. I don't remember her father saying how long they'd been on the Enterprise exactly, so she might have been there for the party, even if her episode has yet to come at this point. As he was concerned that her daughter wasn't socializing enough, I took care in portraying her as a bit shy. If I messed up and there is canon proof that she wasn't there yet, feel free to imagine her as another girl of the same name.
Speaking of canonically appearing kids, I would have loved a guest star role for Alexander Rozhenko, but alas, New Ground hasn't happened yet, so the idea was quickly nixed.
Another thing I believe is important: I haven't exactly established what grade Q'Mar and company are in, especially because I can only guess that school in Star Trek is heavily based on school in the USA and I'm from a country where the system is a little different. Moreover, as I stink horribly at guessing people's ages, I might very well have wrongly put kids of different ages in the same class. However, in my headcanon, this makes sense: I hold the firm belief that grades in Star Trek are not as well-defined as they are today, or at least not as heavily based on age. I believe in a more individual path, tailored to each pupil's intelligence and interests, and in the creation of class groups based more on the results of preliminary tests than on biological ages. This is especially true of mixed classes: just imagine, for example, a seven-year-old Vulcan boy forced to do the same work as his human classmates. His superior intelligence would be entirely wasted, and he would definitely be more challenged if placed in an upper grade.
You will notice that this story is full to the brim of references to Patterson's episode, Disaster, which I loved to bits. It's ticking closer, and I might write Q'Mar's point of view of it someday, though it would undoubtedly be difficult. She'd be worried sick about her friend, poor thing :-(

“It's Patterson's birthday today.”

Data took an extra 1.2 seconds to evaluate his possible response. He found that the expected positive feelings Q'Mar would naturally associate with such a pronouncement were mixed with something he could not read with absolute certainty.

“You and your classmates celebrated him properly, I suppose.”

“Well... kind of. Everyone knew what song to sing to him but me.”

That, he surmised, could have been awkward to her, as it stressed the differences between her upbringing and everyone else's. While he could not, strictly speaking, empathize with her, part of his brain was compelled to draw comparisons between her situation and the numerous times he had found himself at a loss to understand humanoid behaviour.

“Do Lorquians not celebrate their birthdays?”

“Of course we do!” She sounded – could it be? – somewhat indignant at the thought of not honouring the occasion. “But we don't have a birthday song, and I didn't know what the candles were for until Miss Kyle explained it to me. The only thing I did understand was the cake, and you'd have to be really stupid not to get that.”

“When is your birthday, Q'Mar?”

A quick check revealed that Data had never had to ask that particular question to anyone before: he usually just memorized the profiles of everyone aboard the Enterprise, though he did not normally reveal that in everyday conversation to avoid his actions being perceived as a breach of privacy, and could have easily recited whose birthday it was on any given day, if someone had thought to ask. The case of Q'Mar and her friends, however, was different: their hasty rescue meant that there had been no profiles at all, which in turn left him with the somewhat unusual task of getting to know them by asking questions instead of committing files to memory. It was a much slower process, but it was the human thing to do, and Data intended to rise to the occasion.

“It's on the twenty-third of Rasek,” she said.

His brief, unsuccessful search in the linguistic database must have shown, if her disappointment was any indication.

“You don't know when that is, do you?”

“I am familiar with several hundred local calendars, including Terran, Klingon, Vulcan and Bajoran, but I do not currently possess enough information on the measurements of time on Lorquis V to attempt a conversion to the stardate system.” Her face fell. “Perhaps you could explain it to me,” he added quickly. “From there, the calculations involved should be fairly simple.”

Q'Mar grinned. “You must be really good with numbers. I wish my brain were as fast as yours. Anyway...” She seemed to be about to present the intricacies of the Lorquian calendar, but she snorted with laughter before she could begin. “Sorry, it's just a little weird that I have to explain this to you when everyone back home knows it all by heart.”

“I see how that would appear unusual to you, but please continue.”

She rattled off twenty unknown terms with practiced ease, for a grand total of a thousand local days; someone else might have asked her to slow down, but between his eidetic memory and his ability to reproduce voices, he regaled her with a perfect rendition of them that seemed to impress her greatly.

“Wow. You don't even have an accent. If I could learn Federation Standard like that, I could do without the extra lessons.”

“You, too, have a good pronunciation for a beginner,” he reassured her. “That is to be expected, as your age is a particularly favourable phase of life for picking up new languages.”

She looked perplexed as well as pleased, which indicated at least a 42% chance that she hadn't expected the praise. “Really?”

“Yes. For instance, your friend P'Lok is likely to develop a stronger accent than yours, even with regular practice. Having started later puts him at something of a disadvantage.”

“Well, he's almost a grown-up, so I guess you're right. He'll drop his kid name in less than a year... no, wait a minute.” She frowned in what appeared to be intense concentration.

“What is it?”

“Do we celebrate our birthdays as often as humans now that we're here, or do we count years the Lorquian way?”

“That is your decision. I suggest a compromise: perhaps you could hold a smaller event on what we might call your ‘Terran birthdays’, and a bigger one when you would have celebrated your birthday by Lorquian standards.”

She beamed at the prospect. “That is so cool! It's like having a lot of extra birthdays! Thanks, Mr. Data, it's a great idea. That way, Patterson's birthday won't come more often than mine. That wouldn't be very fair, don't you think?”

“I suppose not.”

“Well, then... when is the twenty-third of Rasek on the ship's calendar?”

“My information is still insufficient. It would be most helpful if you gave me a few more reference points.”

“Like what?”

“I believe I might be able to give you a definite answer if you tell me the dates of your friends' birthdays as well as yours, and what day it was when we answered your distress call. With a little help from Dr. Crusher, that should be more than enough.”

“What's the doctor got to do with it?”

“I am convinced that the results of some of her tests will help make the conversion more exact.”

“All right, then.”

She proceeded to recite the dates he had requested, and while it was quite clear that the method he intended to use went over her young (and not very mathematically inclined) head, her words were tinged with what he was 82.7% sure could be read as trust.


“Data to Dr. Crusher.”

“Crusher here.”

On the other side of the communication link, the CMO was well and thoroughly confused. Unless it was an emergency concerning somebody else or a sudden need to reschedule the joint venture between Sickbay and Engineering that were his annual physicals, the resident android never had a particular reason to call her.

“May I ask you a question?”

“You just did, but what's the other one? Professional or personal?”

“Actually, Doctor, I believe it to fall under both categories, though I would be slightly more inclined to classify it as a... personal project.”

When he happened to pause like that, her unceremonious mental commentary was something along the lines of No emotions, my ass, but she would never have confessed it to a living soul.

“Glad to be of help. Ask away.”

“Would you consider it a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality if I asked you to send some of the Lorquian children's medical files to the terminal in my quarters?”

“It depends. What do you need to know?”

“I require your initial assessment of their respective biological ages, as well as any information you might have gathered on their circadian rhythm.”

“All harmless enough facts, but I can't resist asking you just what you need them for.”

“I am attempting to equate their calendar to the stardate system. So far, Q'Mar has given me a fairly complete overview of some of their subdivisions of time, but I need an estimate of the length of the local day, which I believe your test results can provide.”

Grateful that he couldn't see her, the doctor smiled from ear to ear.

“You like that kid, don't you?”

“I am finding it easier than anticipated to become accustomed to her sensory input patterns.”

That, she thought, was as much of an admission as she could ever hope to get out of him.

“The files should be coming now.”

Moments later, the screen on Data's desk beeped into life. He delayed the beginning of his work by 7.6 seconds to deposit Spot gently on the floor and make sure she stayed there for the duration of the session, then devoted the necessary resources to the conversion, finally made possible by the discovery that, while their bodies were gradually getting used to the 24-hour period mimicked by the ship's lights, they had been originally calibrated on a cycle of 26.4, a thousand of which amounted to three Earth years and five days, not accounting for leap years.

This posed an immediate problem: if Q’Mar were to decide to celebrate what she might call her ‘true’ birthdays when the correspondence was exact, they would not always fall on the same day, which could be perceived as an oddity as long as she lived in a predominantly human environment. Perhaps an approximation would do: according to his calculations, there was a 96.8% chance that she would be content with converting the date of her actual birth and using that as a baseline.


The next time he was scheduled to meet Q'Mar, there was an unspoken question in her eyes, one he was at long last ready to answer.

“I have been able to extrapolate that according to the old Terran calendar, you were born on the fourteenth of May.”

Her wide smile was easy enough to interpret even for him. Yes, he was indeed growing accustomed to that particular pattern.

“How long ‘til the next one?”

This conversion was a much easier one, but in the 0.17 seconds it took, the part of his brain devoted to predicting her moods told him it would not be a positive one.

“Had we known of the equivalence earlier, arrangements would surely have been made to celebrate it… on stardate 44861.7.”

Her jaw hung open in what he interpreted with reasonable certainty as a mixture of sadness and indignation.

“But… but that was ages ago!” She stomped her foot, and Data quickly assessed that pointing out that seventy-three days hardly constituted ‘ages’ had an 82.9% chance of worsening the situation instead of improving it. “Now I have to wait almost a whole year!” Her volume reached a maximum of 96 decibels at the end of the sentence, attracting some attention from nearby children and parents, some of them shaking their heads at what they classified in hushed voices as a tantrum.

“Not necessarily,” he placated her.

Her adverse reaction was over as quickly as it had come, and it was plain to see that her interest was piqued. “What do you mean?”

“I have often observed that birthday celebrations can be postponed if an emergency interferes with them.” Then, to make entirely sure he got his point across, he added: “Surely you understand that an officer cannot afford to waste time blowing out his candles on an important mission.” Since Counsellor Troi had mentioned that some of his word choices were better suited for conversation with an adult than a child, he made it a point to allocate an extra 1.3% of his resources to calibrating his vocabulary to what he believed to be her level of comprehension.

She smiled again, a little more weakly, perhaps, but it was a smile nonetheless. “But that doesn’t just go for officers, does it?”

“It most certainly does not. I believe your situation calls for what humans term ‘a belated birthday’.”

Q’Mar let out a sound that matched his previous records of humanoid expressions of pure delight. “That’s great!” Then there was a pause, so short even his sensitive ears strained to notice it, but enough to surmise that the tone of what followed would be different. “But how are we going to celebrate it?”

Data couldn’t help but notice how naturally she had said ‘we’, as if taking his participation for granted, and filed the information away for later. Such subtleties were often important in defining the nature of his relations with other residents of the Enterprise, but he had found that humans often reacted negatively if he asked them directly whether they considered him a friend, showing all the telltale signs of what he had learnt to recognize as embarrassment, so he was left with the sometimes daunting task of interpreting them on his own. While Q’Mar had not displayed particular unease upon learning that he was an android, which was more than he could say of some of his colleagues, he did not believe their past interactions to have given him sufficient data for a clear description of what was between them. The day he had begun to consider Geordi a friend had been memorable, perhaps a milestone in his quest towards humanity, but he was currently at a loss to label the tenuous connection he was starting to form with the little Lorquian. The considerable age difference didn’t help matters: was it even possible to establish a relationship between equals with her, or was he expected to follow a completely different set of parameters, perhaps the one for… family? But no, their situation didn’t match his understanding of a conventional family unit, not only because of the lack of blood ties, but because it implied having known each other longer and more intimately than they had. There was little doubt that they were on their way to becoming something, but there was no word in his database for what that something was, so the question remained unsolved, and if Data had been capable of truly liking or disliking anything, he would have said he didn’t like unsolved questions at all.

“How would you like to honour the occasion?”

“That’s the problem, I don’t know. Is it supposed to be a Lorquian kind of party or a human one?”

“Perhaps those you intend to invite would be more comfortable with a mixture of the two.”

Q’Mar beamed. “That’s a great idea! But where do we even start?”

“You seemed to imply that the presence of a cake was a common element.”

“Well, yes, but it’ll never taste like what I used to eat back home. The replicator keeps saying it doesn’t have any of the foods I know.”

“But you are beginning to find a few that agree with your tastes, are you not?”

“It’s difficult, but yes. We always have to check with Dr. Crusher before trying anything new, or we might be sick. I like Andorian tuber root, and oskoids… oh, and icoberries, of course. Boy, am I glad those are safe.”

Data took 0.3 seconds to memorize the little girl’s rather eclectic preferences. How she had come to the decision to sample Andorian tuber root was frankly beyond him at present.

“Then it should be possible to find something that appeals to everyone’s palates. Is next Saturday suitable?”

“Sure!” she said, grinning from ear to ear. “There are lots of places I still have to see, but they can wait.”

He performed a quick review of his duties for the following days: as string quartet practice had been recently rescheduled and Spot would not suffer excessively from a prolonged absence provided that he replicated her a bowl of feline supplement #25 before he left, it seemed he could indeed take part, assuming Q’Mar and the other children did not perceive the presence of an adult as awkward. He would have to ask Counsellor Troi about the best course of action. She would undoubtedly suggest a chocolate cake, but until conclusive test results on the effects of theobromine on the Lorquians’ system came in, it was not to be.

“Then you may start spreading the word among your classmates. Also, you might want to know that my presence may be considered sufficient adult supervision to allow you to have the party in Ten Forward.”

Her eyes widened. “Really? I tried to go there because I heard someone say it has the prettiest view on the whole ship, but the lady at the counter said it was for grown-ups and walked me right out before I could see anything. Too bad. She seemed kind of nice.”

“I am sure Guinan would like to make your acquaintance properly. Do not concern yourself further. Human custom says you should not take the organization of the party upon yourself. It would, as they say, ‘spoil the surprise’.”

Q’Mar grinned. “I wish it were Saturday already.”


It was not excessively difficult to broach the subject of the upcoming party with the Counsellor, as they soon found themselves riding a turbolift together after shift, and Data had long since learnt that such occasions were expected to be filled with conversation in order to avoid ‘awkward silences’. While he did not perceive them as such – to him, silence only signified a lack of relevant information to convey at that particular moment –, it was good to have a topic at the ready, for once.

“A late birthday party?” Counsellor Troi seemed delighted, but there were also signs of surprise on her face.

“Yes. It is scheduled for next Saturday. According to the regulations, she may hold it in Ten Forward as long as I am present as a supervisor, but I would not wish to be…” he paused and took 0.5 seconds to recall the proper colloquialism, “a ‘party pooper’. Moreover, she has not yet communicated the total number of guests, and it might amount to more than what Starfleet estimates a single person to be able to oversee, thereby requiring the presence of a second adult.”

She appeared to reflect on his words for 2.7 seconds. “Did you say Saturday?” She fell into silence again, and Data chose not to break it, as there was an 87.6% chance that it was not a request to repeat himself, but rather a rhetorical question (his ability to recognize those was steadily improving, he noted). “I don’t think I have any appointments. Count me in as supervisor number two. It’ll be a way like any other to watch her outside of a formal session, and I believe it’ll do us both a lot of good. Besides, I never say no to a slice of cake.”

Since their rescue, the four Lorquians had been having regular sessions with the Counsellor, as losing both parents in such tragic circumstances and getting used to living light years away from one’s home planet was traumatic for anyone, let alone for children.

“Q’Mar indicated that she enjoys the taste of icoberries, but so far, that is the only clue as to what she might appreciate. In fact, it may well be her first time trying a Terran-style cake.”

“Who says it has to be Terran-style? Leave the refreshments to me, I have a plan.”

“I did not know you had experience with party planning.”

“I’m not about to drop my job, I can assure you. However, I happen to know first-hand that food can be therapeutic. By the way, are you sure Beverly hasn’t given the green light to chocolate yet?”


As the latest session with Q’Vel started to wind down, it wasn’t too difficult to steer the conversation towards the subject of food.

“Is there anything you particularly miss? Something you used to eat on special occasions, perhaps?”

“Well, there’s…” Her jaw dropped slightly, then she gave her a knowing look as her surprise turned to understanding. “This is about the party, isn’t it?”

“Busted. You’re more perceptive than I gave you credit for.”

Q’Vel snorted, amusement colouring more than just her tone. “Perceptive? It’s all Q’Mar has been talking about, I’d have to be deaf not to get it.”

“We’re having a little trouble with the cake, and we could definitely use your input. After all, nobody knows what you used to eat on Lorquis V better than you do.”

“It’ll never be perfect, but I guess I can tell you what looks close enough.”

“Do you have time for it right now?” She took on a playfully conspiratorial tone. “We can make a dash to the nearest replicator and the birthday girl will never know.” The young alien’s spike of excitement was all the answer she needed.

As she browsed the impressive variety of desserts on file, Q’Vel kept a running commentary, and it wasn’t comforting.

“No. No.” Each word was punctuated by a beep as she flicked through the options. “Wrong again. Definitely not.” That was the Ktarian chocolate puff, Deanna noted with a small, wistful sigh. “No. Not even close.” When the unit showed a particularly fancy, multi-tiered wedding cake, she let out an exclamation that even the universal translator had trouble rendering, then covered her mouth in shame at what had just come out of it. Finally, she asked: “What’s that?”

“It’s what humans offer their guests when they get married,” she explained, knowing from past experiences that she at least wouldn’t have to take the time to explain the institution of marriage from scratch.

“It’s huge! I don’t think my stomach could handle much of it. Back to the list now…”

“Let’s not lose hope, there’s bound to be something.”

“Wrong. Wrong. Oh, please. Not a chance. Hold it!” Her finger froze over the button and Deanna’s empathic awareness was hit with so many mixed messages it took her a moment to sort through them. It was a moment of triumph, that much she knew, but with a bitter aftertaste, like… nostalgia, perhaps?

“What is it?”

“This one looks familiar.”

Deanna sent her mental thanks to the Four Deities of Betazed and bent to have a closer look at her choice. “Familiar and yummy,” she approved with a smile. “Here, let me tweak it a little.” She punched in the specifics for an icoberry-flavoured version.

“Wait, wait, wait! The shape’s all wrong. Can we change that too?”

“It’ll take some patience, but this is an excellent cake designer as well. I bet you didn’t know about that little feature.”

“Well, no, not really. Back home, replicator technology was very new. Even the one in my room is way better than anything I’d ever seen before, and to think there are so many of them on this ship alone… It must have cost a fortune!”

“You seem to be getting used to it fairly quickly, though.”

“Well, yes, but perhaps not fast enough for this. How do I tell the computer what shape I want?”

“It’s really not difficult at all. Let me show you.”

Deanna walked her through the process of giving it precise instructions as to the desired appearance and size, and though the metric system still gave Q’Vel a little trouble picturing how big the cake would actually be – that’d be another nice puzzle for Data, working out how many centimetres there were to… whatever unit she’d tried to use –, the resulting picture looked positively scrumptious.

“Good job! Check the ingredients one last time, we wouldn’t want any of you to be sick.”

Q’Vel ran her finger down the list – adjusting to a different alphabet was often a problem when Standard was not your first language –, muttering to herself: “Safe, safe, safe… this one too, I think…” Things were looking good so far, but she didn’t feel like celebrating just yet. Then, finally, the Lorquian raised her voice a little and said: “I think it all checks out.”

“Excellent! Then we can save this and replicate the real thing on Saturday.”

“I’m sure she’ll love it.” This time, there was no mistaking it: homesickness was at war with anticipation, and it was winning squarely.

“You seem very familiar with this recipe,” she said cautiously, “but since it’s in the Terran section…”

“I used to help my mother make something like this before… before…”

A fresh wave of grief silenced them both, and Deanna felt them coming before she saw them: the much-needed tears she’d been waiting for since the first session. As she patted Q’Vel on the back and let her membranes wrap around her sides like a blanket, she made a quick note to herself: perhaps that comment she’d made to Data earlier had more truth to it than she knew.

Birthday Shenanigans Part 1 - Planning
Hi, everyone!
I decided to take up :iconcuddlesaurus21:'s 100 Innocent Themes challenge (or some of it, at least), starting from #36: Birthday Cake.
However, what was originally meant to be a much shorter story came to life and basically turned into the Godzilla of fanfictions, so I'm going to have to split it into two parts (I thought there were going to be three, but two parts make more sense, as there's a very obvious "natural" splitting point).
Making the dates fit was a pain, but I finally established that this story takes place between the TNG episodes Darmok and Ensign Ro.
Lorquian linguistic database 4: Cultural notes by SweetOphelia4231616
Lorquian linguistic database 4: Cultural notes
Honestly, I debated a little before deciding to post this, as the information contained in it hasn't fully come up in my stories yet and used to be all in my head.
The usual form of the title didn't fit, obviously.
I think there will be more about the Lorquians' cultural aspects as soon as I finalize them, but no promises. With this installment, I'm officially out of ready-made samples.
Lorquian linguistic database part 3: Fauna by SweetOphelia4231616
Lorquian linguistic database part 3: Fauna
Here's the third part of the Lorquian writing samples.
Both names are mentioned in one of my one-shots, A Little Piece of Home and Close Encounters of the Furry Kind respectively.
More are coming, but I need to work on them a little more before they're fit for posting.
Hello, everyone! As I don't really have any relevant news (actually, real life has been a little crazy, but I'm not here to talk about that), let's jut cut to the chase, shall we?
Woohoo! First tag ever!

My answers to the questions from :iconcuddlesaurus21::

1. What's the last song you listened to?
I don't listen to much music, so the honest answer to that would be Where My Heart Will Take Me by Diane Warren, as performed by Russell Watson. In short, the theme song for Star Trek: Enterprise, which I sing along to loud enough to make my cat think I'm nuts every weekday when it's on (there's an Italian channel that is currently going through a sci-fi phase. I'm a happy camper).
2. Your favourite character from your newest fandom and from one of your long-standing fandoms meet. They are given a delicious-looking sandwich and told that whichever one of them wins a competition of their choosing will get it. What contest do they both agree on, and who wins it?
Tough one. That would be Sadness from Pixar's Inside Out and Hermione from Harry Potter. Seeing as they're both bookworms in their respective worlds (which has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I love them and want to hug them senseless, noooo...), I'd love to see them engaged in a speed-reading contest: get two copies of the same text and see who gets to the end first, while actually understanding it, hopefully. I'm going to have to give the sandwich to Hermione on this one, because little Sadness is so small she would have her fair share of trouble handling a human-sized book, so unless her copy was a miniature one, there would be no contest.
3. Which would you rather buy at the pet store, a new puppy or a new kitten?
A kitten! :heart: I'm such a cat person. I'd rather adopt it from a shelter, though. There are so many cats in need of a good home...
4. What color is your room?
There is a definite prevalence of pink and lilac.
5. What's your favorite book?
Uuuuugggghhh, that's like asking me what my favourite finger is. I need all ten of them, cutting one off would hurt. Anyway, I can try... I feel like I'm doing all the others a terrible injustice, but here goes: among the classics, possibly Pride and Prejudice, but if I have to pick a book that is particularly connected to personal memories, well, I'm a proud member of the Potter generation. I think people about my age have a relationship with the series that newer fans will never have. That is not to say they are not "true" fans, but we grew up with those books, waiting, hoping, conjecturing, daydreaming and just generally obsessing in ways that simply cannot happen if you already have all seven books lined up for you to read. Harry Potter is, without fear of exaggerating, my childhood. It's painful to pick only one installment, but I'm going to go with the third. I like its atmosphere, its structure (it's the only one in which Voldemort never physically shows up), and of course the fact that they finally had a good DADA teacher who actually taught them something worthwhile and was not an impostor nor let his unfairness overshadow his competence.
6. What's something that makes you laugh?
The sound of my own local dialect (the Piedmontese variety of Italian). I'm ashamed to admit it, but while I understand most of it, I can't speak it, not just for lack of knowledge, but because I would burst out laughing before I could finish a sentence.
7. Invent a new sport. Tell me the rules.
... Can I skip this one? I simply don't have the skills to invent a good, engaging sport with fair rules. The only time I ever tried to make up a game, I was a little girl with a sadly inflated opinion of her own athletic prowess, and the only thing I can remember is that it involved a ball and a lot of craziness trying to figure out when and why to switch places with each other.
8. Two OTHER characters (your second-favourites or just anybody) from the two fandoms you picked in question #2 decide to go to the movies together. What movie genre (comedy, fantasy, horror, etc.) do they pick and how does it go?
For the sake of craziness, I'm going to choose Joy and Luna Lovegood. They'd choose a romantic comedy, and Joy would squeal at all the cutest parts, while Luna would probably think the main characters' heads were infested with Wrackspurts. In fact, she just might mistake Joy herself for a Wrackspurt, now that I think of it.
9. How well can you imitate other accents?
In as few words as possible: I suck. Spectacularly. I can barely imitate a Roman inflection (again, keep in mind that my first language is Italian), and that's an easy one that we hear all the time on TV and such.
10. What's your favourite cake flavor?
I'm going to go with chocolate, but I'm really not a fan of cake. Weird, I know, but my tongue is VERY sensitive to flavours and it doesn't take much for sweets to feel too sweet to me.

Ten new questions from me:
1. Where's the farthest place you've ever travelled to?
2. Can you roll your tongue? (Apparently, it's more common to be able to do it than not; naturally, being the queen of weirdness that I am, I can't, just FYI.)
3. Your favourite and least favourite character from a fandom of your choice are stuck on a deserted island together. Do they ever manage to get rescued and how?
4. Cliché time: if you found a genie in a lamp, what would your three wishes be?
5. If you play video games at all, do you prefer them slow-paced or fast-paced?
6. Do you think you have a good fashion sense?
7. At what age did you stop believing in Santa Claus (assuming you ever did)?
8. Do you have a good luck charm? What is it?
9. Who was your favourite teacher in your entire school career and why? (You don't have to disclose his or her name if you don't want to, privacy is important!)
10. The characters from question #3 are forced to pair up for a dancing contest. What kind of dance do they agree to perform and how does the show go?

Tag time! Ugh, this is difficult. I don't have much of a circle of friends on DA. I'm going to go with :iconcuddlesaurus21:, if she doesn't mind being tagged back, and :iconaloiinthesky:, the only other person I know who (hopefully) won't be too bothered.
  • Mood: Amused


SweetOphelia4231616's Profile Picture
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
Current Residence: Italy
Favourite genre of music: Celtic/folk all the way, but hey, I watch MTV too.
Favourite cartoon character: I noticed that Shinichi Chiaki from Nodame Cantabile reminds me of a friend of mine.
Personal Quote: I am weird and proud of it!

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REINDE-ER Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Student General Artist
Happy Birthday, ~SweetOphelia4231616 Have a fantastic day.
SweetOphelia4231616 Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! :D
REINDE-ER Featured By Owner May 14, 2013  Student General Artist
RikaNekoHypno Featured By Owner Oct 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ho visto un tuo commento in una storia di :iconswirlyeyeshypnotize: e dico solo: YAY! Un'altra italiana a cui piace l'ipnosi!

*fugge via ridendo in maniera malvagia*
SweetOphelia4231616 Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Non ti aspettare chiss che cosa, una passione che va molto a periodi. Posso non pensare ad altro per un pezzo e poi dimenticarmene per mesi di fila, a seconda dell'umore e di quanto tempo ho per fantasticare. Ossia poco.
RikaNekoHypno Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer son divisa tra ipnosi, Megamind e i MLP (S, sono una pegasister!), e poi fare cosplay ecc...XD

Anche se la mia passione per l'ipnosi la sto tenendo segreta, infatti questo il mio secondo account su DA...
Io per fortuna ho parecchio tempo per fantasticare...:D
SwirlyEyesHypnotize Featured By Owner May 14, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy Happy birthday!
A gift from me to you!
Happy Happy birthday!
Skipping kangaroos, YAY!
SweetOphelia4231616 Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! :D
SwirlyEyesHypnotize Featured By Owner May 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You betcha! 8D
SwirlyEyesHypnotize Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much for watching me!
Have a HypnoLollipop!

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