"None know better, Than I myself, I'm by myself, Alone..."
The positronic ghost of history's finest dancer braced to sweep his favorite dancing partner off her feet, only to have her hug him too tight for any ballroom move, and bury her face in his tuxedo. His smile faded as he took her into his arms. "The blues, Joy?"
"The red hots," she responded, cleaning a single tear from her right cheek. "They are much worse."
"But how can you be unhappy here? This is Tiffany's. This is the most best place in all the world. So quiet. So rich. So secure. So many beautiful things."
Joy pulled her head back just far and long enough to briefly meet Fred's eyes. "This is a cheap rented holodeck on a starbase at the far side of nowhere."
Not releasing Joy, Fred pulled a chair over, and sat himself and Joy down together, holding her gently, rocking her like a child. "Tell me what's wrong."
"Gylan got away. My first away team down to a planet, and the aliens zapped me. Down like a rock. One of my people fought a great battle with the Federation Marines, and lost. I lack passion. I'm nothing but a chunk of wire and plastic. They are moving us off the bridge. I don't know whether to leave my command or my commander. And we died. The hero died. The villain died. The girl died. Everybody died."
"You didn't die. I don't want you on the bridge. You contain considerable amounts of glass. You don't lack passion. The Federation Marines always win. You don't feel very zapped to me. And you'll get Gylan next time. But that doesn't matter. None of that matters. Not here. This is Tiffany's. Now, tell me what's wrong."
"I was just at a wedding. The bride was beautiful. Are brides always beautiful? And the groom was handsome and tall. And they had symbols and gifts, chains and trees, sliver and gold, all intertwining. There was food. They pinged the glasses with forks. They kissed. All the girls there cried. I had to leave to cry. I had to leave."
Fred just let her ramble on, holding her, smoothing her hair.
"It's not about happiness, Fred, is it? It's about family? It's about love? With the Ferengi, the men just used me, and the women wouldn't touch me. Here, the ladies are my friends, but the men won't touch me. Not to hug. Not to touch. I'm a phoney, Fred."
"But a real phoney."
"No, no, no. I'm just a phoney. No blue faerie is going to wave her magic wand, and turn me into a real live girl. And it's not that I'm a bad machine, Fred. Not at all. It's that they are good men."
"But I'm here. I will hold you."
"Yes. You're here. Aren't you? But I have orders. I have direct orders. I must be selfish."
"Yes. One of my great faults. Almost as bad as lacking passion. I have to become more selfish. The councilor said so, the councilor bride. And she asked me what the most selfish thing in all the world I could do."
"And what is that."
"I wanted to dance with Fred Astaire. I wanted a big set, high ceiling, surrounded with beautiful things. I wanted to wear a red dress, tight above, with miles of fabric below, to flare against a black tuxedo. I wanted a full orchestra, playing from nowhere, a song simple and haunting. I wanted to be lighter than air, and you elegant and strong. Oh, I wanted it. I wanted it."
"But it can't happen. You are hugging me too tight. What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong. It's a glorious day. Mudd has been opened up. They will make you a body. You can leave the holodeck, Fred. You can become a citizen, and dance for real, for real. And Seven has become famous, and we are a star again. Nine is waiting. Paramount wants to remake Tiffany's in three dimensions. MGM is talking about another Broadway Melody. They might even redo Funny Face. You and Nine on the Eiffel Tower, or dancing in a garden, under a castle, by the Seine."
"But if I'm a citizen, and am real, for real, how can I stowaway on your precious Federation starships?"
"You can't, Fred."
"Then I'll stay here."
"Fred? There are some orders I can't obey. I can't be selfish. You can't play to an audience of one, when Hollywood calls, and Broadway. And Nine, Fred. Don't forget Nine. We all have our parts to play. Nine has Holly Golightly, and Eliza Dolittle and Princess Anne. My part is to obey legal orders from my valid Starfleet chain of command. You have to go. You have to dance. And someday, when Hawking visits Earth, Nine and I might meet, and share our memories."
"That what you want? Shared memories?"
"That, and I want you to do, what you always do, at the end of a movie, when the girl is unhappy. The orchestra plays. You sing. You dance together, like the music will never stop. But it stops. And as it stops, you hold the girl like you will live happily ever after. Then the screen fades, and the credits roll, and the orchestra plays the main theme one more time as the audience files out of the theater."
With that, from nowhere, the music began.
Moon River, wider than a mile, I'm crossing you in style, someday You dream maker, you heart breaker Wherever you're going, I'm going your way Two drifters, off to see the world There's such a lot of world to see We're after the same rainbow's end Waiting round the bend, my huckleberry friend Moon River, and me