Category: Riker/Ro, post-ep, short ficlet
Summary: It's awkward.
Riker isn’t sure which of his well-meaning colleagues suggested that Data try to understand their recent Sutteran mind-control adventure by interviewing everyone about their feelings. He suspects Deanna.
“Awkward,” Riker tells him. Data’s gaze is unwavering, clearly expecting further commentary. “It could have been a lot worse than it was. The entire ship was compromised, but ultimately we got our memories back and everything’s back to normal.”
Data tilts his head. “The others have expressed feelings of anger and remorse. Do you not share those feelings?”
“Not particularly.” He probably should, given what could have happened, and he certainly feels anxiety over the potential vulnerability of the Enterprise to this technology and discomfort when he thinks about the dead Lysian pilots, but he came through the experience relatively unscathed. Even ahead of the game in some ways - after all, he spent most of his existential crisis having wild sex with a mysterious woman, which isn’t the worst way to spend a week.
“Ah,” Data says, processing. “While others seem to be experiencing intense emotional responses, you are choosing to take a rational approach, though are still subject to the sensation of… awkwardness.”
Riker gives him a winning smile. “Something like that.” It feels important to remove himself from the android’s laser focus, so he turns the conversation around. “And you, Mr. Data? What’s your reaction to all of this?”
Data pauses, as if to think. Riker often wonders whether he does that for effect, to appear more human, or because processing human behavior really requires more than sixty trillion operations per second. “I believe I concur with your assessment, Commander,” Data says. “It is… awkward.”
Data thanks him for his time, before leaving to find others to question.
Riker wonders what Ro’s answer will be.
It’s earlier than normal when he gets back to his quarters for the night. Ten-Forward was packed and strangely tiring. It seemed like everyone on the ship wanted to interact, if briefly - like they were all reassuring each other that they knew who they were. People were using names a lot, with emphasis, “It’s good to see you, Commander Riker.” Everyone talks about how strange it was, the assumptions they made about their lives that turned out to be wholly untrue. No one mentions sleeping in the wrong bed, with the wrong partner; he assumes those people are keeping quiet, like him.
Deanna’s avoiding him, which is weird. He isn’t sure why she’s taking this harder than all the other times, the other women, the affairs he has when he actually knows who he is. He doesn’t think it’s about Ro specifically, though. For Deanna, imzadi are bound more deeply than their memories of each other - maybe it hurt her to think that their connection could be swept away with a burst of alien mind control.
He washes his face in the sink and then sinks down onto the bed. He’ll patch things up with Deanna, if they even need patching, and Ro…
… well. He’s not entirely sure where he stands there (although not, probably, with a free pass to see her naked - he’s pretty sure that was revoked along with their Sutteran-imposed mission directives). She’s been polite to him. Respectful. Adhering to protocol. If he didn’t have the whole story, her sudden zeal for doing things the Starfleet-approved way would be enough to make him suspect that she’s still under the influence.
But… a smirk spreads on his face as he thinks about where he is (in bed, his bed, the one he remembers from before and from the last week, with Ro, with slick Bajoran skin sliding against him and short fingernails gripping his shoulders and the glint in her eye when she told him how she wanted him to touch her next). They discovered each other. Her body was unfamiliar, but so was his - the muscle memory was still there, but it surprised him every time she touched him here or there and he learned himself for the first time. She was beautiful, and powerful, and so willing to push him for those few days until they uncovered ten different ways to make each other scream. Riker knows there must be more.
Touching her with his memories gone, with her watching him with defiance and need and sex, wasn’t awkward at all.
There’s nothing left of her here, in his bed. The ship cleans itself after all, meticulously, and it would have been strange to pause the standard cleaning cycles in his quarters because he wanted her smell to linger (he did actually consider it, but just for a moment).
He remembers, though, as he sinks into bed, the clean sheets brushing against his skin. This time, a lack of memory isn’t his problem. Then, he suspected her conclusion that they were lovers was based more on lust than reason, but he hadn’t argued (after all, they couldn’t prove they weren’t, and lust is a motivation he has always respected). Even now, knowing for sure, Riker wouldn’t turn her away.
If his fantasies turn a little toward that, his memories of the mysterious Ro Laren without a history spread naked on this bed becoming infused with everything he now remembers about her (she’s a rule-breaker, she’s passionate, she never ever backs down), well, he doesn't think about that too much once he leaves his quarters in the morning to join her on the bridge for Alpha Shift.
He thinks about it a little, though. She’d be a challenge, for sure.
She catches him mediating on the back of her head and interrupts with a glare. “Something, Commander Riker?”
"Nothing, Ensign." There's the smallest quirk of a smile on her lips. He’d never have noticed, if he hadn’t seen her smile so close. “Just thinking how nice it is to have our memories back.”
Ro nods, slowly. “It’s nice to be able to remember things. Some things, in particular.” He sees just a flash of her wicked grin before she’s facing forward again, dutifully examining her helm station.
He doesn’t know if she’s mocking him or offering him a genuine hint. Either way, his complete memories of Ensign Ro Laren tell him this won’t be easy. He even knew that a week ago, when she all but jumped him in his quarters after knowing him for only a few hours. It was worth it then.
He leans back in his chair, content to take his time.
It doesn’t feel awkward anymore.