Disclaimers: Star Trek was created by Gene Roddenberry and is owned by Paramount Pictures.
I make no monetary profits from my fanfic.
Summary: A sequel to my script "Through The Looking Glass"
Author's Note: Set in an Alternate Universe and immediately after the events in "Through the Looking Glass"
ON THE OTHER SIDE
Admiral Data, President Riker and Lore walked through a mirror. The looking glass shimmered a bright silver as they passed through.
The threesome reappeared in Data's office and glared at Riker.
"If ever you attempt to alter history again, I assure you the penalties will be severe."
Riker nodded, sombrely, knowing Data was no bluffer - excluding poker, that was. "It won't happen again," he assured. "But things did turn out for the better didn't they?"
Data sighed and nodded. "There is a fine line."
Riker left the office, his robes flowing behind him.
Data turned and glared at his brother. "And as for you, Lore..."
Lore swallowed, nervous. "Listen, Data ... Riker said he was going to turn me into a cream bun and eat me if I didn't help him..."
Data advanced on Lore. Lore backed up. Data flicked his fingers. There was a bright flash of light, turning Lore into a cream bun in Data's hand. Data raised it to his mouth and prepared to eat it, hesitated, then flicked his fingers and changed Lore back again. Lore, wide eyed, frantically looked at himself. Seeing there were no bites taken out of him, he calmed.
"Don't do that again!" he shrieked, glaring at Data, who had a small smile on his face. "It's not funny!"
Data's smile widened, as did Lore's scowl. "How did you do that anyway?"
"As I said, I needed Q's assistance to get Riker and as a debt, he allowed me borrow his powers for a little while. You may have them back now, Q. I appreciate your help."
"My debt is hereby paid," came a voice out of nowhere. "Glad to be of assistance - but don't think for a moment that you'll never see me again..."
"I do not doubt that, Q."
Data felt the powers leave him, and truthfully, he hadn't counted on never seeing Q again, but that was the least of things which required his attention right now. He turned toward Lore. "As I was saying ... I know why you went with Riker."
"Listen, Data ... I know my past crimes, and I just wanted to do something right for a change ... make amends. I know that doesn't sound like me, but when Riker came to me, it seemed what he was doing was a good thing, saving lives and all that. I know now it was wrong to try to change things, and we almost destroyed the Enterprise in that universe, but-"
"But it remains the same here. The Enterprise was destroyed 135 years ago, by a breach in the containment tanks. Riker was so crazy he'd believe anything. But that's not the only reason you went back, is it?"
Lore paused for a long while. "No."
"I find it hard to believe that you sacrificed everything you were to save the future, but that's what you did. If people had known this earlier, things might have been different for you."
Lore gave a small smile. "Maybe." His voice was sad.
"And this is the reason," Data continued, "that I'm not going to have you disassembled."
Lore looked at him in surprise. "You're not?"
Data shook his head, "but I am going to have to keep you here until I talk to other members of the Federation."
Lore nodded. Of course he didn't want to stay, but if he ran off again, they'd just hunt him down again like a fox.
"Okay," he said. "Just as long as I get the big bedroom."
Data gave his brother a look.
Lore smiled. "Just kidding."
Lore entered the quarters he had been given and although he didn't say anything, was impressed with its size. The door had not been locked, thankfully. He was not a prisoner here and Data was quite sure Lore would have the good sense to behave himself. Even though his brother was unstable he wasn't stupid.
Lore looked around the quarters. It wasn't furnished, apart from the bed. Being an android, neither he nor Data needed rest - that's just the way the rooms were designed. Lore saw a door on the far wall, and opened it. Behind it was a very well concealed, large bathroom. Another thing Lore didn't need, but it was there anyway. Lore closed the door, walked to the bed and sat down. It's gonna be so boring here... At least I sorted a few things out, but why the hell couldn't I see this coming? ... Brilliant, Lore... you never think of the consequences of your actions ... Lore sighed and lay on the bed and began to study the intricate patterns on the ceiling. His attention was diverted when he heard noises - people's voices to be exact, coming from outside. As bored as he was, Lore stood up and walked to his window.
He was expecting a boring grounds, of plain grass, but what he saw most impressed him. The gardens were huge, decorated with ponds, sculptures and fountains of all kinds. It brought back memories of a book of his mother's he remembered reading, when he was much younger about a beautiful garden. Being an android, Lore couldn't forget, but not all his memories came at once - especially the very few happy ones. Lore often read books on the colony, to escape the harsh rejection of the colonists, but The Secret Garden was always one of his favourites. He often felt lonely, like Mary, the girl in the story and wished he had a secret garden of his own. He had always dreamed of his secret garden, and seeing this garden of Federation Headquarters had brought it all back to him. Of course he hadn't forgotten any of it, but when you've had a life full of rejection, hatred and sorrow, it's difficult to remember the nice things. Lore left his quarters to explore the garden. Of course it wasn't secret like the one in the book, but beautiful all the same.
Lore exited the building complex and into the garden which had inspired him. It seemed larger down here and all the more wondrous. In a way, Lore felt silly for admiring a garden, as it didn't exactly fit his persona, but then everyone had a right to appreciate nice things. He looked around, and saw a few people, none of which he recognised. Some were in uniform, and others not. He kept his distance from the others, as he didn't feel comfortable with them, but the garden was large and so he didn't have a problem keeping isolated. Lore looked at the shaped hedges, some cut as people, others animals or shapes and symbols of significance. Lore wound his way wound a long hedge to look at some of the statues in the garden. Some carved out of marble, others out of various minerals or gemstones. He made his way to the large fountain in the middle of the garden and sat on the rim. He listened to the flowing water and watched it cascading down over the stone statue of a woman standing with a child in the centre.
Lore's let his mind wander and didn't notice two people approaching the fountain.
"It's a lovely day, isn't it?" the woman said.
Lore jumped the proverbial ten feet.
"Sorry," the woman said. "Didn't mean to startle you."
Lore regained him composure. "It's all right," he said, looking at the man and woman, cursing inwardly that he hadn't noticed them coming.
"We're from Earth Colony Antilles," the man said, "from invitation by the Federation. We were just admiring this wondrous garden. We wish we had one like it at home."
"Don't we all," Lore said, feeling uncomfortable. "Uh, enjoy your stay here."
"We intend to," the man said, smiling, and much to Lore's relief, they began to walk away.
He'd felt uneasy with the small-talk and didn't exactly want people around him, but thinking about the two that had spoken to him, neither of them had rejected him or given him any funny looks. He smiled at that. Perhaps it's because they didn't know who he was. Lore had tried to use the hedges and the statues to stay hidden from the few people in the gardens in fear of rejection and prejudice, but the people had hardly noticed him as they went about their business. Lore didn't know whether he felt relieved or offended by that, but he didn't waste time pondering it. He walked to one of the small ponds in the garden, made sure there was no one near, and sat down by it. The pond was decorated with mossy rocks and blossomed lily pads, and there was a small old-fashioned style bridge from one side to the other. The sunlight shimmered on the pond and a flash of orange caught Lore's eye. He looked again and saw koi fish weaving in and out of the lily pad roots, under the water. He smiled and gently poked his finger in the water. Some of the fish swam to his finger, then darted away. Lore didn't particularly want to frighten them, so he removed his finger, shifted position, lay on his stomach next to the pond, and walked his fingers over the bridge. He heard a muffled giggle behind him and his head spun around to see a small woman watching him.
"What do you want?" he said with a frown, sitting up.
"Don't be angry with me," she said. "It's not often one stops to really appreciate these gardens. For me I find they're one of the few places I can relax."
Lore's features softened as he regarded the woman.
"They're real hand crafted sculptures, you know. Not just replicated like some places have."
Lore looked again at some of the many statues.
"And, that," she pointed, "is the actual statue of David. Not a just replica."
"You seem to know a lot about the garden," Lore observed.
"I helped design it," she said. "Before all this all we had was some old grass, and some grubby unnatural turf."
"You've done a good job," Lore said.
"It wasn't all me - oh, before I forget, it's time for me to feed the fish. It's my job to keep the garden beautiful, and that includes feeding the fishies. Here." She handed Lore some fish food. "Not too much, they never know when to stop eating."
Lore smiled, and tossed the food onto the water top of the water. The next thing both of them new, all the fish in the pond were squirming about, sucking in the food.
"You're not wrong," Lore said, standing up, and dusting himself off.
"Don't worry about that," she said with a smile. "I'm only dressed up, because there was a Federation do, earlier on. I don't normally wear this stuff," she said, tugging at her formal light blue-purplish, frilly dress. "Come on, I'll show you the Labyrinth before it gets dark. I think you'll like it."
"It's my favorite place and my pride and joy ... Oh ... how rude of me. My name's Talia."
"Yes, I know. Data's brother."
Talia nodded. "Data told me about you."
Lore's eyes widened. "Shit."
The woman laughed. "You really don't seem all that bad, and don't worry, Data didn't say anything nasty about you. If fact he said he's looking forward to having you here."
"He said that?!"
She nodded. "He did say you might be a problem, but I think he wants to help you."
Lore didn't say anything, but silently hoped that was true.
"Where's this labyrinth?" he asked, quickly changing the subject.
"Through these trees," Talia said, sensing Lore felt uncomfortable and chose not to say anything more about his brother.
The two walked through the archway in the dense growth of trees at the back of the garden. The arch lead into a denser growth of trees, so dense, they almost blocked out the sun. A natural dirt path had been cleared through this forest and a light could be seen at the end of it. Lore and Talia walked along the path to the light at the end of the forest, where the forest came to an abrupt end and the two walked out into the daylight. About ten meters ahead of them was a huge long hedge. Lore looked down one side and the other. The hedge seemed to be surrounded by trees.
"This is the Labyrinth," Talia said proudly. "It took six years of hard labour to get it right. Come on, I'll show you."
She walked toward the hedge, and when she reached it, it was at least three times her height. She began to climb it."
"What are you doing?" Lore asked.
"Come on," Talia urged.
"Is it safe?"
"Of course it is. Data and I designed it. He's climbed it too, you know."
Lore laughed at the thought of his brother climbing plant growth, then joined Talia. When they reached the top of the hedge, they stood and surveyed their surroundings. Lore look in a breath as he saw what was before him. The hedge was square shaped and stretched for at least two hundred meters each side. It had been exquisitely grown and crafted on the shape of an intricate Labyrinth. The entrance was on the east side and was also the exit.
"So many people get lost in here," Talia giggled, but it's a lot of fun and it's not hard to get rescued. I know it like the back of my hand ... I'd never get lost in here. In fact, I'm lost without this place. I often come here to escape, and being the Federation's Administrator I definitely need it."
"You're the administrator?"
"Used to be deputy, but since they forced Riker out, all the stuff's been loaded onto me."
"I suppose you heard about what we did in that other universe."
Talia nodded. "Not that I hold it against you, though. You did what you felt was right. Data told me what you said to him. He wanted me to keep an eye on you. I must admit I didn't want to at first, because I had a lot of other stuff to do, but I'm finding that I like you."
Lore smiled. "Thank you. You're about the first person that's said that to me. I think I like you too."
"Well, you know what I mean," Lore smiled. "How about we go into this labyrinth?"
Before Talia could agree, Lore jumped off the hedge onto the grass. She gasped at first, then saw he was unscathed.
"Jump," he said. "I'll catch you."
She looked at him nervously.
"I won't miss, you know, but I suppose my brother told you not to trust me either."
Talia sensed the hurt in Lore's voice, and her nervousness disappeared, as she jumped into his arms, and as he had promised he caught her neatly.
"That was fun," she smiled.
Lore put her down and together they ran to the entrance to the Labyrinth.
Lore and Talia raced around the maze, and Talia stopped to catch her breath. Lore had seen the entire Labyrinth layout when he saw it from atop, so not to spoil the fun, he deleted the layout from his memory and had no idea where he was. It was a strange feeling for him, and he found he enjoyed it. He followed Talia, who showed him the many nooks and crannies of the maze and it wasn't surprising that it had taken a lot of hard work to create.
"I'll take you to my favorite spot," she said with a smile, "as long as you don't tell anyone about it. Data's the only other one who knows."
"I promise I will not tell a soul. Where is it?"
Talia stopped at what seemed to be the centre of the Labyrinth. There was a box like hedge structure, the sides about five meters long. Talia knelt down, and pulled up a panel, concealed beneath the grass.
"Where are we going?"
"Come with me" she smiled, as she crawled through, and Lore followed her.
Talia pushed upwards and the panel above her opened and she crawled out, inside the boxed hedge structure.
"Here we are," she said.
Lore came up behind her.
Talia sat at the old-fashioned desk there. "This is where I do a lot of my thinking, reading and writing."
"You're a writer?"
"I write stories and some novels, but I haven't had much published. I come out here for inspiration. l always keep pens and paper handy."
Talia opened up her desk and Lore saw her writing pads and utensils.
"There it is!" she exclaimed, grabbing a book. "I thought I'd lost it!"
"What?" Lore asked.
"It's my favorite novel," she said. "I often read it and I'd forgotten I'd left it here."
"What is it?"
"The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Have you read it?"
Lore smiled. "When I was little," he said, and then seeing the brief look of confusion on her face, added, "when I was younger."
"Oh," she said, holding the book. "They made films from this book in the twentieth century including a rather well made sequel. I managed to get a hold of all the old tapes and watched them all. Some of them were very good, but I think the book's much better, because that way you use your imagination and make things exactly how you want them."
"It's a drag when it rains here," she said, because I can't write in the rain, or when it's too hot or cold. I like staying in my room when it's like that and I store all my stories on computer. I do plan to get more of them published someday. I often take a computer PADD out here and I talk aloud a lot. It gives me inspiration, and the people here are used to me. Listen, we'd better be getting back. It's getting dusky out.
* * *
Lore was on his way back to his quarters, when he was grabbed roughly by two security guards.
"Hey, watch it!" he snapped.
"Data wants to see you."
"Why? I haven't done anything wrong."
"That's for him to decide."
Lore thought it would be in his best interests to go along with them and so let them take him to Data.
"Where the hell were you?!"
"Oh, I'm sorry," Lore said, offended. "I thought you said I was free to roam the grounds. In future I shall lock myself in my quarters and never come out."
"Don't be childish, Lore. Where were you?"
"In the garden."
"Don't lie to me. You were not. We had the grounds searched - including the garden and you were not there."
"I was - at first. I was in looking around the garden, lovely, by the way, and I met, the Administrator, Talia. She showed me the Labyrinth and we were there for the remainder of the day. Satisfied? Probably not."
Data glared at Lore, and touched his communicator.
"Data to Talia."
"I need you to verify something for me."
"Yes, sir," she said. "Lore was with me for most of the afternoon."
"How did you-"
"Initiative, sir," she said, with a smile in her voice. "Talia out."
A small smile creased Data's lips and he looked at Lore.
"I apologize," he said, "but you must understand that-"
"Yeah, yeah. I'm not to be trusted, right. Fine, I forgive you, Data, but can't you just be a little less well ... suspicious?"
Data gave Lore a look.
"I rather like the garden out there, or is if forbidden to appreciate nice things here?"
"Forgive me Lore, but you don't exactly strike me as one who would stop to smell the daisies."
"Probably not, but there's a lot of things you don't know about me, Data. And anyway, can't you grant me just a little leeway?" Seeing Data kept silent, Lore changed the subject. "I wonder how our counterparts in the other universe are doing."
"What do you care? It's your fault they were almost destroyed."
Lore's cheeks flared. "My fault!? I'll have you know it was Riker's idea, thank you. I just tagged along to pass off as you, because he knew you wouldn't agree with what he was doing and anyway, things turned out for the better, didn't they? For both of us. We saved them from being blown apart by *your* double crossing deputy I might add."
"Are you telling me you actually do care?" Data was being sarcastic.
"Okay, so we're not the best of friends, but I'm your brother, aren't I?"
"Hmph ... You've never cared about me. You probably wanted me to stay on the Enterprise and get destroyed."
"That's not true, Data," Lore said, hurt.
"Okay, what about the time I saved your life?"
Data's eyebrows perked. "That's news to me. When?"
"When that man was going to shoot you with that phaser a couple of years ago. I threw myself in front of you, heroically."
"Try clumsily, Lore. You tripped over a rock, and his phaser was only set on stun."
"Well, if you're going to nit pick, Data! ... And it's not my fault the rock was slippery," Lore scowled. "Anyway I can't say I've received much care from you either and don't bother telling me I don't deserve any, fine, maybe I don't, but then you've always had a comfortable life, if you'd been through the hell I have, then perhaps you'd show a little more compassion."
And with that, Lore stormed out, leaving Data, watching after him with an expression of concern on his face.
Lore threw himself on the bed and glared up at the ceiling with a perpetual scowl on his face. He wanted to change his ways and become a better person, but how was he going to do that when everyone seemed against him and was suspicious of him, especially his own brother? Lore knew he'd hardly been friendly to Data and now that he was trying, Data was shutting him out.
"Maybe I deserve that," he said softly to himself. "Is there any chance he'll forgive me for what I've done?..."
Data had since gotten the emotion chip back from him when the Borg had abducted both Lore and Data and used them to attack the Federation. Data had been rescued by Geordi, and Lore had broken the Borg's control of him and proceeded to destroy them and their vessel, but since then there had been a few skirmishes between the two Brothers, not the very least of which was huge illegal smuggling ring, in which Lore was the head honcho. He'd barely escaped that one after triple crossing the Federation, Ferengi, Bajorans, Cardassians, Yridians, Klingons, Romulans and whatever other race which got caught up in it. Luckily for him they caught the other guy in charge and were unaware of Lore, until many years later after the whole incident had blown over.
* * *
Meanwhile, on the other side of the looking glass, Commander Data sat at an isolated table in the Forward Lounge of the Enterprise E. The previous Enterprise had been destroyed, but not by a breach in the containment tanks - by Lursa and B'Etor, the notorious Klingon sisters of Duras.
Data sat sipping his drink, one of Guinan's concoctions he'd decided he liked very much. She called it her Depression Buster, because that's what it did for Counsellor Deanna Troi. A tremendously thick cream-chocolate milk shake with twenty one different types of chocolate, delicious warm or cold.
On this occasion, Data had ordered an extra large, warm Depression Buster. Guinan approached him.
"What's the occasion, Commander?" she asked.
"Call me Data."
Guinan gave him one of her looks.
"What's up, Data?"
Data looked up at her, into her dark eyes.
"Do you think I was wrong?"
"You know what I'm talking about, Guinan," Data said, a brief flash of annoyance in his face as he took a gulp from his glass."
"Do you think you were?"
Data hesitated. "I believed it was the right thing to do at the time."
"Some crew members have questioned me about it."
"And you think you may have been wrong."
"No. I do not think I was wrong."
"Then why the long face? It's not a good sign of the First Officer to worry about what other people think."
"I know, Guinan, but it's the first time I have been exposed to these feelings with my emotion chip."
"Are they angry with you?"
"No. Just concerned ... but what if I was wrong, Guinan. What if-"
"There's no point in second guessing yourself now, Data, and you said you didn't believe you were wrong."
"We sorted a lot of things out, Guinan and I do not believe there's any danger."
"Then it's up to you to show others how you feel about what you did and why you did it. Why did you do it, Data?"
"It's a long story, Guinan."
"...And after the Soran incident, I had time to think about my life. What I had been through without emotions. I grieved for Tasha, Lal, my father, but also cherished them, and for the first time in my life felt love and many other feelings as I thought about my friends, my home. I was scared, at first, Guinan. The Enterprise had been destroyed. For a long time that was my home and I was frightened that I'd lost it, or that I'd get posted to another ship without my friends."
"And did you?"
Data shook his head.
"When I sat in my new quarters, my new home, my cat, and being on the ship with my friends, I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude as I sat down on my sofa. ... And when I sat down, I felt horrible, as if I'd done something terrible. It was so awful, I cried. I didn't know why at first and I didn't want to bother Counsellor Troi, but I didn't know what the horrid feeling was. I tried to think what it was, but I couldn't. I felt so bad - that I'd hurt someone - killed someone, but I'd never even dream that I'd do such a thing. Even so, that still didn't make the feeling go away. Whatever it was I wanted to make it go and to set things right, if I could. I shut my eyes and tried to think of what was causing me so much pain and then I remembered, like a phaser blast it hit me, just like the one that shot Lore." Data paused, and then continued, "I remembered deactivating him, and disassembling him and removing the chip. At the time I had reasoned that it was the best course of action, but sitting on my sofa I couldn't help thinking that I'd killed my brother... I later retrieved his phaser, which was set to high stun, so it would not have killed me. You do understand, Guinan, don't you?"
She nodded and let Data continue.
"At the time, I had considered repairing Lore, but I did not know when or exactly how, but since my father's manuals were discovered, I learned how to fix him and-"
"And you wanted to set things right."
Data nodded. "I felt so guilty and I would not have blamed him if he did not forgive me, but he did."
"It seems to me you both forgave each other."
Data nodded, and smiled. "I am grateful to have a brother, even if he is not perfect."
"Don't doubt yourself, Data. If you think you did the right thing, then you did."
The android smiled again. "Thanks, Guinan. I feel good about giving Lore his life back. Perhaps he will make something better of it this time around."
"I'm sure he will."
"Can you please bring me another Depression Buster?"
"You're not still depressed, are you? Deanna's going to hate you. You don't have to watch your calories."
"It's yummy," he said with a smile, and then he paused. "I guess I have always believed there was good in Lore, Guinan. before I was offered the promotion to become First Officer, the first time around, I had a most peculiar dream. Seeing what the Lore from the alternate universe a few years ago had done, I was sure our Lore could too..."
Guinan eyed him for a moment. "Are you sure it was a dream?"
And before Data could respond, Guinan had disappeared behind the bar, leaving him with a most startled look.
* * *
Lore had been at Federation Headquarters for a few months now. He had been allowed to do up his rather spartan quarters, which pleased him. He'd bought some artefacts, which he rather liked, and changed the wall colouring from white to a warm light brown and the carpet from the short grey to a soft to the touch warm ash-pink. He'd also made curtains for the room, out of some thick, bizarre patterned, dark brown material he'd gotten at a Bandi Bazaar the other week and had to suffer Data laughing, when he came into the quarters and found Lore sewing, and he'd also replicated some brown satin sheets for his bed and had also replicated a thick quilt for it. Even although he never slept in it, he often lay down on it and wanted it to look decent. He spent time making things for his room, as there wasn't much to do here and it passed the time. Lore spent time reading books from the library. Mainly science fiction and fantasy from the twentieth century, which he found quite interesting. He particularly liked the works of J. R. R Tolkien, J. K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett and he'd learned of the video library which contained every movie and television series ever made and he spent quite a lot of time in there, finding some of the movies very interesting, and being able to watch them on fast-forward and still understand what was going on, he was able to watch many in a short time. He'd attended plays and operas as well. He'd also gone to exhibitions the Federation held. He particularly liked the ice sculpture exhibition and the twentieth century toy and ancient Earth Mythology exhibition. He thought he'd be bored here, but at times there was quite a lot to do, and Talia had struck a creative chord in him, and he was starting to write stories of his own. Some fiction, and some using characters he'd seen on the videos he'd watched or read about which he had learned was called fanfiction.. He liked doing that, because you could take the characters to places you want them to go and you aren't restricted. Lore had begun writing a story about his life, which he really hoped to get published. Everything in it was true - Lore was sick of lying, and he wanted others to know what his life had been like. More people understood him now, and there wasn't as much scrutiny as when he'd first arrived, but now total freedom, which is what Lore hoped to have one day. He was still forbidden to leave the Federation grounds without an escort.
He often went out with Talia, to the Garden and the Labyrinth and spent a lot of time there. They'd go into Talia's secret place and both write their special stories. Lore liked to lie on the grass to write his. He felt more comfortable that way. Talia often left the Federation grounds with him. Of course the escort of armed guards went with them. Talia was certain that he would not try to escape or hurt anyone, but Data still wasn't sure.
Lore liked to visit the shops with Talia. He was given an allowance each week, which he used to buy things for himself, his quarters and for Talia. The shop keepers accepted other items for trade rather than only credits. Things didn't cost very much either, unlike in the ridiculous inflation period which caused the collapse of the monitory unit in the 21st century.
Lore liked to buy new clothes and things for his quarters and things to write with and the shops here were always getting new things in. Even though he didn't have to change clothes, he liked to have a choice of garments. He'd built up quite a collection of clothes and nick knacks which he liked, as nice things gave him pleasure and it was a good feeling to have them. Lore felt he could express himself more in an environment which was pleasing to him. He tried not to resent Data for what he was doing and it was very hard sometimes, but Lore understood and hoped that things would be sorted out soon.
Lore spent a lot of time with Talia and was becoming quite attracted to her. He tried to stop himself, because he was scared she wouldn't share his feelings and reject him, but he couldn't help his feelings. She'd always been so nice to him. She had helped him with his writing and decorating his room and with other things as well. He was glad she liked brown also. It was one of her favorite colours and she always looked wonderful in it. He'd bought her a new brown medieval-style evening dress for her birthday and even baked her a rich dark, almost black chocolate mud cake. She was touched by the gesture and very grateful. She had given Lore a kiss and tried on the dress, and Lore had almost fallen over, it looked so good on her. He smiled at her, and she smiled back at him. Talia thanked him, sat down next to him and they both pigged out of the cake, saving a piece for Data. Data had given her a calligraphy set and a set exotic writing paper.
"You shouldn't have...both of you..." she'd said with a shy smile.
But both Data and Lore felt grateful they had. Data was surprised that Lore had gone to the trouble, but said nothing about it. Perhaps Lore was trying to make a turn.
* * *
A few days Later, Data was sitting in his office, watching Lore closely, monitoring him in his quarters. He had seen his brother a lot lately with Talia and he was beginning to suspect ... and he had Lore's quarters bugged for just such an occasion.
Lore looked at Talia and smiled, then drew her into his arms and began to kiss her.
"No ... no..." she began to say.
Data immediately leapt up from behind his desk. His suspicions had been confirmed. He had to act now before Lore hurt Talia. He grabbed a phaser, and ran out of his office.
Data barged into Lore's quarters and found Lore, half naked with Talia. He aimed the phaser at Lore and fired, hitting him in his stomach. Talia shrieked as Lore fell to the floor, then looked at Data.
"Are you all right?" he asked. "Did Lore..."
"Data, I'm fine."
Data frowned. "But I saw Lore.."
Talia smiled, amused. "You thought he was ..."
Data nodded and Talia laughed.
"We weren't sure if it would be wise to tell you. Your brother and I have been seeing each other intimately for three months."
Data dropped his phaser in surprise. "What?!"
"He's never forced me to do anything, Data.."
"But I heard you say 'no' when he kissed you."
Talia giggled. "He was tickling me!"
"Oh ..." Data said, feeling embarrassed. "The phaser was set on maximum stun. He should come to soon."
"Okay. I've got to see Admiral Janet La Forge. Tell Lore I'll be back soon."
"Tell me one thing before you go," Data said. "Why do you love him ?"
Talia smiled. "I guess it's because I feel sorry for him. No one's ever really given him a chance. He's never had a real friend. Haven't you considered that might be why he's like he is?"
"I have considered a great deal of things over the past few months. I admit that I understand him better than I did before, or at least, I'm trying to."
Talia smiled. "That's a good start." Then she was out the door.
Data bent down to Lore and lifted him onto the bed.
After a while, Lore still hadn't regained consciousness. Data pulled out a tricorder and examined him. Data's eyes widened and he checked the analysis again and gently shook Lore.
"Lore ... Lore ... Lore? ..."
Data swallowed, then took his readings again. The results were the same. Data let the tricorder drop to the floor.
"It was only set on stun..." he said to himself. He checked the phaser, which confirmed that.
"I don't understand ... How could ..."
Data looked at Lore lying on the bed, motionless.
"I'm sorry ..." he said, sadly.
Data picked up the tricorder again and examined Lore, in the hope of finding some way to repair him, but the tricorder picked up no signs of life. Data threw it to the floor and sat on the bed, facing away from Lore.
"I'm sorry, brother..." he said, his voice quivering. "I didn't mean to. I only meant to stun you ...I-" Data bit his lower lip.
Meanwhile, on the bed, Lore opened one of his eyes and saw Data, facing away from him, seeming quite upset. Lore smirked, then sat up slowly, careful not to attract Data's attention. He heard Data sob, then smiled and put his arm around his brother.
"Don't worry, Data, it's not that bad..."
"Yes it is, he was my ..." Data looked around and his eyes widened.
Lore smiled. "Fooled ya, didn't I?"
"You! ..." Data exclaimed and reached forward, began to strangle Lore. Lore laughed and broke free. Data lunged on top of him and the two rolled onto the floor.
The door to the quarters opened, two Federation officials stood there. Data was on top of Lore, about to punch him. Lore looked at the arrivals. "You guys wanna play?"
They looked at each other in astonishment, then at Lore.
"Uhh, if it's all the same to you, we'll come back later."
The door slid closed behind them. Lore winced as Data drew his hand back. Data relaxed it and allowed Lore to stand.
"How did you fool the tricorder?"
"Simple, I just switched off most of my functions."
Lore smiled. "Well put."
Data scowled at him. "I am sorry, though. Why didn't you tell me you ... and Talia..."
"I didn't think you'd approve."
"Are you kidding? You'd probably think that it was just lust and that I was trying to get into her pants - which is what you did think."
"I'm sorry, Lore."
"It's much, much more than lust, Data, I promise. She's the only person who's ever really understood me and I've liked her ever since we met - and she kissed me first."
Data smiled. "It's not for me to approve or disapprove, Lore. I'm your brother, not your keeper, and you're not a little boy anymore."
"I'm glad you think that. So can I still see Talia?"
"Lore, I'm not your guardian. If she still wants to see you then, it's fine by me, and judging my what you've said to me I believe you're really in love with her."
"You believe me?"
Data nodded, and the next thing he knew, Lore's arms were around him. Lore then let go, flustered.
"I'm sorry Data ... uh ... you've never believed me before and it's just-"
Data smiled. "I know, Lore. I'm sorry for being so harsh on you, and I hope you understand."
"I do, Data, and does this mean we can do away with the escort?"
Data looked at him.
"All right," Data sighed. "Do not let me down, Lore."
"I won't, Data, I promise - and Data, I'm really sorry about the things I did to you. I know they were wrong and for a long time I've wanted to tell you that."
Data smiled warmly at his brother. "And for a long time I've wanted ... no needed to tell you that I forgive you."
Lore placed his arms gently around his bother.
"You have no idea how much that means to me."
"I think I do,"
"And now I'm getting all sentimental ..."
Data and Lore smiled
"I have to go now," Data said. "I can't be late. I have to meet the Rigel III ambassadors, otherwise there'll be hell to pay."
Data stood and left Lore's quarters, leaving Lore both relieved, warm and grateful. He felt as if a 1000 year old crushing weight had been lifted off him and he felt wonderful.
Talia came to Lore later and found him in a wonderful mood.
"You and Data sort things out?"
Lore smiled and nodded. "Yeah, we did. A lot of things."
She smiled. "That's great. I hoped you guys would sort out your differences."
"Data was happy for us also. I was scared that he might-"
"I know, he told me when I was on my way here. He confides a lot in me. He really does care about you, you know."
"And you care about him - come on, admit it."
"All right, I admit it," Lore said, with a smile. "I can't keep anything from you, can I? Are you sure you're not part Betazoid?"
Talia smiled. "Yes, I'm sure, but sometimes I have a sixth sense about people."
Lore smiled and put his arms around her. "That's good," he said gently, feeling grateful to have this special understanding with her.
* * *
A few days later, Data approached Lore.
"Lore," he said, "I've spoken in depth with the Federation Council."
Lore swallowed. "What did you tell them? What did they say? What happ-"
"I told them that I believe you have improved and I told them your reasons of involvement with Riker. They reviewed your progress and your activities since you were captured on the alternate Enterprise. And what you have been doing since your last crimes."
"And?..." Lore asked, not sure if he wanted the answer.
"It was decided that," Data paused, "you have redeemed yourself."
"What... You mean they... they're not going to disassemble me?"
"No. Neither are they going to keep you here."
"You mean I'm free to go?"
There was silence for a while.
"Well, aren't you going to say something?"
"I ... I don't know what to say, Data. It's all so sudden... I mean it's great and I've always hoped for this, but now that I've got my freedom, I don't know where I want to go. Thank you, Data. I'm sure you put in a few good words for me."
Data nodded. "You deserved it, Brother and I am happy for you."
Lore smiled. "So am I. I'm glad they've finally realised that I'm more than just your 'evil twin' and more than just a machine."
Data smiled. "No - you're my mischievous twin..."
Lore gave him a friendly hit and smiled, glad to have understanding and friendship with his brother after all this time. And so was Data.
Lore told Talia the good news, and she was over the moon with him.
"That's wonderful!" She kept disappointment out of her voice. "Where are you going to go?"
"I haven't the foggiest."
"You can go anywhere in the Universe. They're still got your ship docked here, haven't they?"
Lore nodded. "You know the funny thing is, even though I can go anywhere in the Universe the only place I want to be is here, with you."
Talia smiled, touched, her disappointment turning to joy.
"You're not going?" Data said surprised, "but you hate it here."
"At first I did, but I've become accustomed to life here. I've made a home for myself in my quarters. They took ages to get right and I like the people here," then Lore became worried, "And I love Talia ... I can stay here, can't I?"
"Sure you can, but I didn't think you'd want to."
"Well, I do, if that's okay with you, of course."
"It's fine with me. Actually I was kind of hoping you wouldn't go..."
Lore smiled. "I'm touched, Brother.'
Data smiled back at him.
"I'm just so used to it here," Lore went on. "The people at the stores know me and like me and keep things for me that they'd think I like and I feel wanted here. No one rejects me or hurts me and I really like it here."
At that moment, Talia burst in the door, in a fury with a clutching a large bunch of papers. She let them fall onto Data's desk.
"What's the matter?" he asked.
She grunted. "All this work! They think I'm Super-Wonder Person or something. Don't those idiots know how hard I work and they expect me to do more work, the ungrateful sons of b-"
"Calm down, Talia," Data said.
"I wish I could. I wish they would realise that I have heaps of work to do already and they expect me to do too much. I feel like telling them to stick it up their-"
Data smiled. "It's good to blow off steam sometimes," he said.
"Sorry, sir. I have all the things I need to do written down and when they load more and more and more on, I get confused and when I start writing what they want me to do down, they give me more. The lazy buggers should do some of it themselves!"
It was then she noticed Lore, standing toward the side of the desk.
"Oh ... hello, Lore ..." she said, seeming embarrassed.
"Don't worry about it" he said. "I've lost my temper before."
"Believe it," Data said, and all three of them smiled.
"I will speak to the others" Data said, "and inform them not to dump everything on you and to do what they can themselves, however, I have to inform you that your workload is going to be increased. All of ours has."
Talia nodded. "Great. I'm having trouble handling it all, to be honest, but I can do it, Data."
"I know you can. I am not 'firing' you so to speak. In fact I'm going to introduce you to your administrative partner - you two can share the duties."
Talia smiled. "Thank you, sir," she said. "Sorry about blowing my top. I-"
Data waved his hand. "Forget it. It happens to the best of us."
"Who's going to assist me in my duties?"
Data say back in his chair. "I believe you two have met," he said as he gestured toward Lore.
They both looked at him, startled at first.
"Well, you wanted to stay," he said to Lore "and you needed help," he said to Talia. "It's perfect. That is of course if you're willing, Lore."
"Are you kidding. I'd love to!"
The thought of spending more time with Talia and helping her and doing something useful sounded too good to be true.
Data, Talia and Lore smiled.
* * *
Talia and Lore shared their duties, and sometimes even with both of them working together, there was a lot to do, but they liked their jobs and were grateful to be working with each other.
Talia continued with her writing and had many of her works published - as did Lore. He'd been so excited when his first short story had been published and Talia had been really happy for him and proud of him. They were indeed happy here. The two often entered the Labyrinth an wrote there, and other places which gave them inspiration, outside, near the stores, the gardens - anywhere where inspiration struck them, and Lore had finally finished writing his life story, up until now - He knew it would get published, because there was no other story like it. It was uniquely his, and his other works had been quite popular - but it wasn't just the publishing of the book that was important. His novel meant a great deal to him. It contained everything he'd been through in his life, his hopes and dreams - and now that they'd finally come true. It was a hard novel to write, because it contained everything he'd done and been through and everything he'd felt. Lore was pleased with himself and proud of his accomplishment and also happy with himself, because he'd finally thought of a title. He'd been trying to think of one even before he started writing it. 'My Life.' No. Boring. 'The life and times of Lore.' Are you kidding? And after a night and a day of solid thought and with a thought of Talia, he came up with a very special title ...
~ The Magical Garden ~
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