“He’s as real as I am. Photons and force fields; flesh and blood – it’s all the same.”

The Doctor: “I don’t mean to pry, Captain, but we’ve got a broken-hearted hologram who believed that the two of you were in love.”

Captain Janeway: “Oh, I was sure he’d be on to the next lass by now. I hope he’s alright.”

Doctor: “Far from it. The fight spilled out onto the street. Before long, he’d climbed up a tree and began shouting your name. Mr. Neelix managed to…talk him down.”

Captain: “It could be a malfunction in his behavioral subroutines.”

Doctor: “I’ve already checked that. His subroutines are fine. But I did notice you’d made quite a number of alterations to his program.”

Captain: “Minor improvements.”

Doctor: “To make him more appealing?”

Captain: “You’re starting to pry, Doctor.”

Doctor: “I apologize for overstepping my bounds, but I’m worried about you. Michael Sullivan is a hologram. His broken heart can be mended with the flick of a switch. Your feelings, however, are a little more…complicated.”

Captain: “I’m not going to be climbing any trees, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Doctor: “If you decide you want to talk, I’ve been hearing a lot of confessions lately. Let me know.”

Captain: “You want a confession, Doctor? Alright. I’ve become romantically involved with a hologram, if that’s possible.”

Doctor: “Tell me what happened.”

Captain: “Well, you know the story – girl meets boy; girl modifies boy’s subroutines.”

Doctor: “Did you have intimate relations?”

Captain: “That’s none of your business. Let’s just say it was a memorable three days.”

Doctor: “I don’t see the problem.”

Captain: “Don’t you? Michael Sullivan is exactly my type – attractive, intelligent…we share the same interests. And if there’s something I don’t like, I can simply change it.”

Doctor: “I’ve noticed that humans usually try to change the people they fall in love with. What’s the difference?”

Captain: “In this case, it works. We had a picnic by the lake yesterday afternoon. Michael drifted off to sleep. His head was lying on my shoulder and I remember thinking, ‘This is close to perfect.’ Then he began to snore. Did I nudge him with my elbow, hoping he’d roll over and stop? Did I whisper in his ear to wake him? No. Why bother, when I could simply access the computer and alter his vocal algorithms? And that’s exactly what I was about to do when I realized that everything around me was an illusion, including him. So, I left. I almost wrote him a note to say, ‘Good-bye.’ Can you believe that – a ‘Dear John’ letter to a hologram?”

Doctor: “I understand your trepidation, but you’re the captain. You can’t have a relationship with a member of your crew. They’re all your subordinates. So, where does that leave you – the occasional dalliance with a passing alien? Voyager could be in the Delta Quadrant for a very long time. A hologram may be the only logical alternative.”

Captain: “He’s not real.”

Doctor: “He’s as real as I am. Photons and force fields; flesh and blood – it’s all the same, as long as your feelings are real. He makes a joke; you laugh. Is that an illusion? He says something that makes you think. Does it matter how his molecules are aligned? Did it ever occur to you that it’s not just a question of whether or not he’s real?”

Captain: “What do you mean?”

Doctor: “I think you should stop trying to control every aspect of this relationship. Romance is born out of differences, as well as similarities…out of the unexpected, as well as the familiar.”

Captain: “Maybe I just needed to be sure that he’d love me back.”

Doctor: “But isn’t that the risk you always take, hologram or not? All I know is, Michael Sullivan was up in that tree, shouting your name.”

Captain: “I’ve never been afraid of taking risks.”

Doctor: “Then perhaps next time you should just…let him snore.”

(Star Trek: Voyager s06e11 – “Fair Haven”)

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