Jean-Luc Picard took a sip of the tea he had absent-mindedly left cooling on his desk. It was still warm enough to fit the description of hot, but not so scalding as to numb his taste buds. Thankfully. In the last few minutes (via long-range subspace channels), he had spoken with a pompous admiral, two impatient ambassadors, and a rather flirtatious Kivkordian High Minister who unnervingly reminded him of a woman he would dearly love to forget. By this point, he was thoroughly tired of trying to calm frazzled nerves (his own and theirs), deflecting unwanted attention, or determining what a person was trying to say without letting on that he hadn't the slightest idea what they were talking about. A man could only keep up with so many briefings and bulletins before he seriously considered crawling into a subspace pocket and pulling the pocket in after him. Picard set the cup down. His shoulders slackened as he sank into his chair, eyes closing. This would be the perfect time for Q to materialize. He winced. I hope you can't hear that. Or at least that you aren't listening right this second. But then, even if you aren't now, nothing's stopping you from finding out, is it? And then… "And then…" He let the sentence trail off and stared into a blank corner of the room. A bit of movement out of the corner of his eye caught his attention briefly, and he watched a bubble rise all the way to the top of his aquarium. Beep beep. Picard tensed. Now what? He checked his appointments log, but no office meetings were scheduled for this time slot. Who could it be? With a silent prayer to whoever was listening that it not be Q and the simultaneous realization that Q wouldn't have bothered to use the doorbell, he shoved his tea cup to one side. "Enter." The doors slid open. "Sir." Of all of the individuals who might have arrived unscheduled, the last person he expected to see was Data. Even so, his tensed muscles relaxed. Just a touch. As steady as the android usually was, occasionally he would display odd behavior. He racked his brain, trying to recall if his science teams were currently examining any alien artifacts or confiscated technology. Nothing came to mind. "Have a seat, Mr. Data." Picard gestured to a chair in front of his desk. "This is most unexpected." "Yes, it is." Data sat down, placing a PADD on the captain's desk. "If you are busy now, I can return later when you are not." "No, no." Even as he longed for the brief solitude he'd enjoyed moments earlier, a part of him was curious as to what Data wanted. "Now is fine. What's on your mind?" The android cocked his head to one side. "Many things, Captain. Foremost, however, is an issue I have been considering since yesterday and am now seeking your approval to act on." He affected a rather exaggerated yawn. Picard chuckled. "Just how late did you stay up…considering it?" "All night. I assigned the task to a different section of my brain every hour. I have been ruminating on this subject for-" -he paused- "-14 hours, 23 minutes, 11 seconds and counting." He slid the PADD towards Picard. "Needless to say, this is not a decision I made lightly." He picked up the tablet and tapped the screen, activating it. "Starfleet Personnel?" Picard looked up at Data. "I hope that's not a transfer request. Or a resignation." He frowned. "We'd miss you." "I can assure you it is not. If you will read further, you will see it is directed towards their records division. It includes a copy of the paperwork I intend to file with the Federation legal bureau." Data folded his hands on his lap. "Oh, really? Are you suing somebody then?" Picard queried as he skimmed over the brief message. A file was attached, and he opened it. The heading of the form read: Federation Legal Form 419-a: Request for alteration of legal appellation. His gaze tracked down toward one of the filled-in spaces. Frowning, Picard set the PADD down. "You wish to change your name to 'Datum'?" Picard stroked his chin. "Whatever for?" "With all due respect to my mother and father, I was named in error." Data leaned forward. "'Data' is the plural form of 'Datum'. As I am a single individual, it would be illogical to refer to myself in the plural. Therefore, my request. I wished to inform you before I filed the paperwork, as the change would affect everyone on the Enterprise, and I did not want you, my commanding officer, to find out through other channels." "Thank you for your consideration. " I'm often the last to know… Picard kneaded his forehead. "Have you spoken of this to anyone else? Geordi or Deanna, perhaps?" "No. I was planning to make the senior staff aware of my decision at this morning's briefing. But first, I wanted your opinion on the matter." He looked Picard in the eye. "Your thoughts, sir?" Picard pursed his lips. "I believe you when you say that you've given this a lot of thought, Data. And there's no denying that there's only one of you." Aside from look-alikes, that is. For some reason, he imagined Data bursting out into a long-forgotten song lyric, slightly altered. The most wonderful thing about Datas is, I'm, the only one! He smiled briefly, returning to a neutral expression at the android's look of confusion. "Aside from the administrative nightmare this would cause-" "-I would gladly change all of the records myself-" "-I'm sure you would." Picard placed both hands palms down on his desk. "Not to mention the inconvenience of the hearing required to consider your request, or the fact that we'd either have to divert the Enterprise to a starbase or at least dispatch a shuttle there. But I don't think you've considered this issue fully." Data looked up. "In what way?" Picard steepled his fingers together. "Data, in your years of studying what it means to be a Human, even a person, wouldn't you agree that we are formed by the lives we lead?" "To some extent, yes." "And that therefore, we are not only who we intrinsically are, but the sum of all of the knowledge we have assimila-" He paused. "Amassed, the experiences we have had, the places we have traveled, and the individuals we have known?" "Indeed." Data agreed. "One could almost say that one is not fully oneself until the moment one ceases to exist." "One could." Picard stood up and walked around his desk until he was standing right in front of Data. "All of those combine to comprise a single individual. They are like the hues of a rainbow, the multitudinous cells which make up a lifeform, the facets of a diamond…" "…individual files in a computer database." The android blinked, a hint of understanding showing in his eyes. "Hence, data. Plural." He thought for a moment. "I am Data…and so are you." "In a manner of speaking," Picard agreed. He reached over and picked up the PADD, tucking it under his arm. Data tapped his chin with one finger, the action deliberate rather than instinctive. "Why did I not consider this before?" The captain smiled. "I suppose there are some things which can be seen clearer through the eyes of a friend than the lens of a microscope." "Perhaps." The android thought for a moment, then reached out his hand. "May I have the documentation back? As a result of our discussion, I have decided not to submit my request after all." Picard passed the PADD to Data. "A wise decision." "Also, I would appreciate it if you did not discuss our conversation with anyone else." Data approximated a frown. "It might be somewhat…distracting." I believe the word you're looking for is 'embarrassing'. "You have my word, Mr. Data. Dismissed." He watched as the android stood up and exited the room, still considering the new line of reasoning Picard had introduced. As the doors swished shut, Picard strolled around his desk and sat down in his chair again. The tea would be cold by now. Good, Picard thought as he lifted the cup to his brow and pressed it against his forehead to stem the dull headache that was building there. If these walls could talk…who'd believe them?