Disclaimer: Star Trek TNG belongs to paramount (I think).
Jean Luc sat back in the velvet covered arm chair with an old copy of Cyrano de Bergerac, and a glass of his own label chardonnay. His life was all about the winery these days, now that he had retired from Starfleet, and reading classic literature had always been one of his favorite ways to spend his leisure time. He never seemed to have much time for it while captaining the Enterprise, and it had been several decades since he had immersed himself into the story of the proboscally enhanced Frenchman with a flair for the dramatic. And now he had all the time in the world.
He pushed that dangerous thought away, and opened the book a bit more forcefully than necessary, slightly tearing the cover away from the spine.
“Ennui setting in so soon, mon – well, I suppose I can't call you mon capitaine anymore, can I?” Q paused mid sentence and seemed to consider what he had said, his hand cupping his chin. The mischievous glimmer in his dark brown eyes, however, gave away the enjoyment he was feeling at Jean Luc's expense.
The former captain couldn't hide the grimace that briefly graced his face. If he had been feeling a bit bored, he certainly wasn't anymore. He closed the book in his hands, placing it on a side table next to his arm chair, and raised his head to grace his unexpected company with his full attention.
Q sat across from him in a plush armchair upholstered in rich dark red leather with brass trimmings, the chair having had materialized with the entity.
Picard took a moment to examine his visitor, noting that the Q's hair was graying at the temples, and the entity had appeared to have gained a little bit of weight since Picard had last seen him. The entity was also sporting smile lines around his eyes and mouth, all together adding a good ten years to his appearance. The retired captain knew that it was an illusion for his benefit, but that knowledge did not detract from the effect. The entity looked like he had not only aged, but had aged well.
Q's legs were crossed rather effeminately as he balanced Jean Luc's copy of Cyrano de Bergerac on his knee (a glance confirmed that the book was now missing from his side table). He made a small show of fishing a pair of gold trimmed oval shaped reading glasses out of the pocket of his velvet blue smoking jacket, then put them on his face as he opened Jean Luc's book.
“Interesting choice of reading material, by the way. Very altruistic, your de Bergerac, using his poetic voice to seduce the lady he's in love with for someone else. Incidentally, how are Beverly and the dashing Dr. Bashir doing these days?”
Jean Luc refused to rise to the bait, and merely shrugged. Yes, he had introduced Beverly to the Chief Medical Officer on Deep Space Nine, and yes, the two of them were very happy now. And yes, he was entirely okay with it.
Besides, it would have never worked out between them any way. Q had shown him that, the last time the entity had graced him with his presence. And for whatever reason, Picard had never chosen to doubt it.
“What are you doing here, Q?” Jean Luc asked tiredly. He really hadn't been expecting to see the entity again in his lifetime. It wasn't as if he could be Q's exemplar of humanity as the owner of a relatively small vineyard located in the quiet town of Labarre, France.
The last event in his life that was noteworthy enough to draw the attention of the fickle omnipotent being was the debacle with his Romulan engineered clone. The incident had nearly broken him in a way that nothing else ever had; not the Cardassians, not even the Borg. To see himself so darkly reflected...
And then to lose Data...
Picard had almost expected the entity afterward, but of course Q never showed. And he wasn't bitter about that at all.
“Not going to order me out of your presence, Jean Luc? Banish me from your library?”
“As if it would do any good. I've long since learned that you will do what you want regardless, so what's the point?.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk, spoil all my fun. You know, you're such a humdrum, now that you're retired. It's so disappointing.”
“Q... either tell me why you're here or leave. I haven't the patience for this tonight.”
Q shifted uncomfortably in his seat and turned his head, absently picking at his smoking jacket. If Picard didn't know any better, he would have almost thought that the entity was nervous.
“Oh very well,” Q said, rising to his feet. He began to pace back and forth, his hands clasped behind his back. “You see, I've given it a lot of thought, Jean Luc, and I have come to the conclusion that I am going to miss you when you are gone.”
“Is that so,.” Picard replied flatly.
“Hard to believe, isn't it? I was absolutely flummoxed myself, and that hasn't happened in over four billion years! Imagine, me, basically a god, eternal and omnipotent, emotionally attached to a mortal! It's awful, Jean Luc. Just awful!”
“I feel for you.”
“Thank you!” Q replied, oblivious to Picard's tone. “I knew you of all people would understand emotional attachments, having had so many yourself. The other Q have been... well, I just don't want to talk about it.”
“Have they been giving you a hard time?”
“And that is the understatement of the millennium! They likened my relationship with you as to that between a boy and his dog.”
Despite knowing that this was all a game Q was trying to play with him, Picard couldn't help but feel a bit offended by the analogy.
“I'm hardly your St Bernard, Q.”
“I know that!” Q snapped, settling back into the arm chair. “They're all hypocrites, anyway. It's only because I've had to test you that they are raising such a fuss.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, don't you see? You were an assignment, Jean Luc. It's just not done. It's considered very bad form....”
“What the devil are you talking about?”
Q sighed and fidgeted for a moment before answering.
“The Q have been around for a very long time, Jean Luc. Since the beginning, actually. We've had to keep ourselves entertained somehow. There is a long history of Q who have developed attachments of one sort of another with mortals. Of course, as a general rule, we don't form relationships with those we are assigned to. It's always good to keep work and play separate, you understand. It doesn't tend to end well otherwise; and this seems to be especially true with humans.”
“You've had... er... relationships with humans?” Picard asked. He knew that Q was baiting him, but his curiosity won over his better judgment.
The entity grinned and his eyes nearly sparkled, now that he had the opening he was waiting for.
“Well, not me personally, Jean Luc. I always considered such things beneath me. But other Q, oh, of course! Your own history is full of examples!”
Q snapped his fingers, and suddenly a pair of white, feathered wings sprouted from his back.
Picard almost jumped to his feet.
“You are not an angel, Q.”
“No? It's all semantics, Jean Luc. As they say, if it waddles, quacks and has feathers... chances are, it's a duck. Or a Talaxian tragnar. Or a Q, who at that moment, is, in fact, truly a duck. Or an angel, as the case may be. We are the first race, you know. We are both the watchers and the fallen; the by product of creation, doomed to observe for all eternity. Call us what you will; it doesn't change the fact that your own mythology had a better handle on what we truly are than your Starfleet anthropologists.”
The entity winked at him, and took a deep breath before continuing.
“The Q have had relationships with humans in the form of angels, gods, demons, spirits, whatever the local mythological equivalent happened to be. And there have even been a few cases of offspring from such unions.”
“Really, really. Think about it, Jean Luc. Do you honestly believe that a man who was one hundred percent human would've had the ability to turn water into wine? Walk on water? Cure a blind man several thousand years before laser eye surgery was available?”
“You're can't possibly be implying what I think you're implying..”
“Can't I?” Q snapped his fingers, and Picard's glass of chardonnay lost its subtle yellow color, the liquid turning clear. Picard didn't have to taste it to know that his glass now contained water. Another snap of his fingers, and the glass was filled with a deep red merlot. Picard took a sip and found it to be excellent. But of course, he hadn't really expected otherwise.
“Just a minor alteration of the fabric of reality. A mere parlor trick than anyone with even the merest hint of Q essence in their composition can accomplish.”
The conversation was taking an uncomfortable turn for Picard. Although humanity for the most part no longer believed in personal deities, his own family had been Protestants for generations. Picard's eyes strayed to the beautiful, ancient leather bound copy of the King James Bible sitting on his bookshelf, before darting quickly away to focus once again on his visitor.
“Enough of this, Q. Just get to the point; what is it that you actually want from me?”
“What, isn't it obvious?” Q snapped his fingers, and several large suitcases appeared, along with an elaborate hat rack. All in all, Q's 'luggage' covered a good third of the floor of his library. “I've decided that I'm going to make the most of what time you have left and live with you, Jean Luc.”
Jean Luc had unfortunately chosen that moment to take another sip of the merlot, and so found himself spitting it right back out onto his pants. Q tsk'ed, and snapped his fingers, cleaning up the mess before continuing as if he hadn't been rudely interrupted by Jean Luc choking on his wine.
“It'll be wonderful, Jean Luc. You and I living together, like two old and eccentric gay men, enjoying their last few years of retirement together. We'll travel the galaxy, spend plenty of time in bed, and just generally enjoy each others company. We're going to have such fun!”
Q's smile was wide, and his eyes sparkled with delight. The entity was clasping his hands and rocking in his seat like a child who had received a particularly good birthday present.
This time, Picard did jump to his feet.
“You're insane!” Picard sputtered, his voice full of indignation. “For one, Q, I am perfectly happy enjoying my retirement by myself. Two, I have not, nor have I ever been a homosexual. Third, even if I was, you would hardly be on my list of possible partners. Fourth... get the hell out of my library, Q. Right Now.”
Q looked at him sadly, and Picard caught a glimpse of genuine emotion hidden in his deep brown eyes.
“I know when you're lying to yourself better than you do. You've harbored an attraction for me since shuttlecraft six.”
“Have too, and you know it.”
“Even if that were true,” Picard began, his voice low and his eyes hard, “what makes you think that I would want your attention now?”
Q blinked, his expression full of hurt and betrayal. He raised his hand as if to snap his fingers and then seemed to reconsider before slowly dropping his hand back into his lap.
“I understand what this is about. I couldn't come, Jean Luc. I wanted to, believe me. But I wasn't allowed.”
Picard turned his head, knowing very well that the entity could read his emotional state without eye contact, but preferring the illusion regardless.
“After the last test, I had to agree not to either meddle any more in your life or pursue you, until such time when your actions no longer had any significant impact on humanity as a whole. And I did, Picard, I waited like a good little Q. And now you're no longer doing anything of significance, so voila – here I am!”
If he hadn't already been feeling a tad bit useless in his retirement, Q's casual observation of his current state of affairs would have been the proverbial nail in the coffin. Picard tried very hard not to show how much that actually hurt. Instead, he forced himself to focus on the other admission Q had made.
“You couldn't come...”
“Would it make it any easier for you to know that there wasn't anything you or I could have done to change the outcome of your confrontation with Shinzon?” Q asked gently.
“No, not really, and I have a hard time believing that, Q.”
“There are powers in the universe even greater than us, Jean Luc. And certain events are off limits even to our manipulations.”
“So you say.”
“So I mean, and I always mean what I say, Jean Luc. You should know that about me by now.”
“I hardly know you at all.”
“Which is one of the reasons I've chosen to spend this time with you,” Q said, using the opening to change the subject. He flashed out and reappeared behind Picard, leaning over the shorter man's shoulder.
“I want you to know me better, Jean Luc. I want you to know me really well,” Q whispered, his full lips against Picard's ear.
The former captain repressed a shiver. He took a couple steps away from the taller man, whose presence was suddenly suffocating him.
“Just think about it Jean Luc... just you and me... no Starfleet, no Continuum, no tests, no games... well, maybe some games,” the entity said with a rakish smile. Q closed the distance between them again and snaked one arm around the smaller man's waist. “I could make your December last an eternity.”
Q placed an open mouthed kiss against Picard's neck, and flashed out when the other man pulled away.
Picard straightened his jacket, caught his breath and sat back down into his arm chair, in the hopes that if he sat down the entity would stop accosting him long enough for him to collect his thoughts. Although, when the entity flashed back into existence in his lap, he realized the futility of his actions.
“Q!” He sputtered in outrage, standing back up and dislodging the entity in the process.
Q laughed and then winked at him.
“Okay, okay. I'll give you some time to think about,” Q said, throwing his hands up as if making a big concession. The luggage flashed out of existence. “Just promise me that you actually will consider it, Jean Luc, and I'll go. For now.”
“I... promise,” Picard admitted quietly, almost not believing his own words. But he was tired, in more ways than one, and willing to concede this battle to Q.
The entity smiled brilliantly and flashed back out.
It was only later, after he had settled back into his armchair, and reached for the book he had been reading, that he realized Q had changed it on him. Instead of Cyrano de Bergerac, Picard held a book of poetry entitled 'Gods and Mortals' in his hands. He let it fall open randomly in his lap, and was confronted with the story of Ledo and the Swan.
Jean Luc rolled his eyes and began to read.