For the Love of Q

For the Love of Q
by R. Jason

You\’ve heard it before, and you\’ll hear it again. Paramount owns the
characters, I just play with them. I don\’t make any money when I play,
but neither does Paramount, so that\’s okay. All the rest of the ideas in
here are the product of yours truly, so don\’t go changing it or spreading
around without my name. Enjoy!

Thanks to Domjotter, whose insightful insomnia gave rise to this story.
And incredibly special thanks to MizMac, my editor extraordinaire.

Kathryn Janeway looked out at the stars and sighed. Alone in her
quarters, the captain sought solace in the unfamiliar sky and the warm
coffee in her hand. It was a couple of hours before she had to go to bed,
and although she wanted desperately to seek companionship among her crew
Janeway knew that she could never allow herself to take that risk.
Her introspection was suddenly interrupted by a chirp from her
commbadge. \”Chakotay to Janeway.\”
Janeway smiled at the voice, or more accurately at the man behind
the voice. Chakotay was strong, proud, intelligent, sensitive – in short
everything she could want in a first officer and more. And more. She let
the thought linger a moment before answering.
\”Janeway here.\” She tried to keep everything but the crispness of
command out of her voice.
\”Captain, I was just wondering if you would like to join us in the
holodeck for Tom Paris\’ latest creation. I believe it\’s called bowling.\”
Janeway chuckled softly to herself. \”Thank you Commander, but I
think I\’ll pass. Have fun.\”
\”As you say, Captain. Good night.\”
\”Good night, Commander.\” Janeway tapped the commbadge again to
terminate the conversation. She looked out at the stars once more, and
not seeing anything that she liked, proceeded to walk back over to the
replicator.
\”Coffee, black.\”
\”Unable to comply. Insufficient remaining replicator rations,\”
the computer answered.
\”Half a cup?\” Janeway tried.
A green light blinked on the replicator and Janeway placed her
coffee cup inside. There was a brief glow and Janeway removed her cup,
filled almost one third of the way up with coffee.
\”That\’s the smallest half cup I\’ve ever seen,\” she remarked to no
one in particular – so when the reply came Janeway nearly spilled what
little coffee she had left.
\”Allow me.\”
Janeway spun around to see…
\”Q.\” With a flash of light her cup was filled nearly to the brim
with coffee.
\”Ah, my dear Kathryn, what a pleasure it is to see you again,\” Q
said as he grabbed Janeway\’s free hand and made to kiss it.
Janeway yanked her hand away fiercely. \”What are you doing here
Q?\”
\”Me? Why I just happened to be in the quadrant and decided to
drop by and see how you were doing.\” Q held out his hand and his own
coffee appeared in a cup that seemed to be in the shape of a Betazoid
head. Janeway couldn\’t help the expression on her face as she looked at
the mug. Q looked down and inspected it as well. \”I know, it is an ugly
thing. I can\’t remember where I picked it up. Probably another one of
those catalogs I am forever receiving in the mail.\”
\”What are you doing here Q?\” she repeated.
\”I told you, I just decided to drop in… and look what I find
when I do. You are sitting here alone in your quarters, thinking of
someone who obviously cares about you too, and yet you are still not going
to do anything about it. It\’s pathetic.\”
As Q talked Janeway began glancing in different directions. First
at one wall, then over to the curtains, then over to the replicator,
almost as though she were searching for something.
Finally Q seemed to notice her lack of attention. \”What are you
looking for?\”
\”The point of your story,\” she returned.
\”Very funny.\” His tone made it clear that he didn\’t find it so.
\”At any rate, Kathryn, I owe you, and now I am going to repay my debt. I
did something similar for Jean-Luc once.\”
\”Q, what are you talking about?\” Janeway demanded.
\”A lesson in love, Madame Captain.\”
\”Q!\” Janeway raised her voice in warning, but it was too late.
With a flash of light everything was gone.

Janeway found herself standing in the middle of an old village.
On either side of the street were rows of rickety houses, obviously
belonging to the poor. Even more confusing than the setting was the
presence of her command crew, clad in medieval armor, up to and including
the doctor.
\”Captain,\” the doctor said as he opened the maw of his helmet,
\”Have you and B\’Elanna been tinkering with the holodeck again? Am I back
in that horrible Beowulf fantasy? And even then, no one had the gall to
dress me in this.\” The doctor held up his chain mail covered arms.
B\’Elanna came up on horseback, wearing her own armor and carrying
a lance. \”I had nothing to do with this, Captain. The last thing I
remember doing was a systems check on the plasma relays, when suddenly I
found myself here on this creature.\”
\”Creature! I have never been so insulted in all my life. Captain
Janeway-\”
Everyone looked in amazement as the horse began to speak, though
his words were somewhat muddled by the bit in his mouth.
Kes ran forward, wearing all of the traditional clothing of a page
boy. She cupped the horse\’s head in her hands. \”Neelix! Is that you?\”
\”Of course it is, my sweet.\” Then, just for emphasis, he
whinnied.
Tom Paris had to suppress a laugh looking at the wild-maned horse.
He walked up, slung his bow and quiver around to his back, and helped
B\’Elanna off of Neelix.
\”Captain,\” Harry Kim came up wielding his broadsword with some
difficulty. \”How did we all get here?\”
Janeway cleared her throat and laid down the sword and shield that
she too was holding. \”I believe we were all brought here by Q.\”
\”I thought Q was dead,\” B\’Elanna interrupted.
\”No, the other Q.\”
\”Q-b?\” B\’Elanna asked.
\”Maybe Q2, does he have any other name?\” Paris started.
Neelix trotted forward. \”Whatever his name is, get him back here
and return me to normal!\”
\”Everyone calm down!\” Janeway ordered. \”Has anyone seen Chakotay?
He\’s the only senior officer not present.\”
\”Maybe he\’s still on the ship,\” said Kes, trying to be hopeful.
\”Then again, maybe not,\” Paris came walking forward with a reward
flyer in his hand.
On the flyer was a hand drawn picture of two faces. The tattooed
face on the left was immediately distinguishable as Chakotay. On the
right was a picture of the captain, her hair pulled up into an
unflattering bun. Paris read from the paper to the rest of the group,
\”Wanted by his majesty\’s soldiers for heresy against the crown of England.
Joan of Arc and her patron the Vicomte de Chakotay. Reward 100 pounds.\”
\”Oh my God, Q has turned me into-\”
\”Joan of Arc,\” came Q\’s voice from just out of sight. \”Or we can
call you Captain Joanway if you like.\” He stepped out from behind a tree
and came into view, wearing the vestments of an archbishop. \”As for your
first officer, he is resting comfortably in an English jail cell, where he
will be executed at dawn tomorrow. I would suggest that you find him
before then… if, of course, you can rescue him.\”
\”What if we don\’t want to play?\” Janeway asked, a definite edge
of menace in her voice.
\”Then Chakotay will die tomorrow. Oh and doctor…\”
\”Yes?\”
\”Do be careful, you\’re not a hologram here.\” And in a flash of
light Q was gone.

\”Excuse me, can you tell me what I am doing in here? Excuse me.
Excuse me.\” Chakotay sighed and gave up. None of the guards would talk
to him, nor would any of the other prisoners. He had not been seated more
than ten minutes when a man dressed in the traditional red uniform of the
British Empire came to the cell door and shouted his name.
\”I am Chakotay,\” the commander answered as he rose.
\”What is it you wish to see me for?\” the Englishman sneered.
\”Can you tell me where I am?\”
\”Is this some kind of joke? Don\’t toy with me, Frenchman.\”
\”Do I look French to you?\”
\”I have no times for games with a foolish resistance fighter. If
you have nothing else to say..?\” It almost seemed to the commander as
though this man were expecting a certain response. Perhaps he was waiting
for a bribe? Not willing to risk further trouble Chakotay remained
silent. \”Well, in that case, the execution will proceed duly at dawn. Do
not let it be said that the General Marcus McKenzie was unfair to his
prisoners.\” And with a great deal of showmanship the officer stalked off.
Chakotay sat back down and sighed. \”Great, just great.\”

In the meantime night had crept in on the little band of voyagers
form afar. Janeway stopped them as they neared the village. It hadn\’t
taken them long to find the village actually, what with all of the smoke
generated by the perpetual fires in the town. But as it turned out
finding the village was not half as difficult as getting there. It had
taken the group a good four hours to reach the outskirts of the forest.
Now Janeway turned to her small group to work out some kind of plan.
\”We need to find out where Commander Chakotay is going to be
executed tomorrow. Suggestions?\”
\”I\’d suggest a bar, Captain,\” answered Paris.
B\’Elanna pushed herself into the dialogue, \”This is not the time
to grab a drink with the boys, Tom.\”
\”Yes it is,\” he retorted. \”Think about it B\’Elanna. People of
this time had no other entertainment. So at night they got drunk. And
when people are drunk they tend to talk, especially about things that
they\’re not supposed to talk about… like where Chakotay is. Get it?\”
Torres nodded her head as Harry spoke up in support. \”It might
also be a good place to hide. The captain *is* a fugitive.\”
\”All right then, a bar it is. Mr. Paris, lead the way.\” Janeway
held out her hand, palm up in a universal \’you first\’ gesture. She was
stopped midstep by the Doctor.
\”Excuse me Captain, but I am not sure I can continue.\”
\”Is there a problem, Doctor?\”
\”I am have pain in my abdomen and a curious dull aching sensation
in my lower extremities. I believe I am dying.\”
\”Doctor,\” Janeway began, her voice a mixture of amusement and
discipline, \”You are hungry and tired, as are all of us. When we get to
the bar you can have yourself a seat, drink some beverages, and eat some
pretzels. Until then, deal with it.\”
She turned away and left him to catch up with the rest of the
group. The doctor plodded forward, pondering hopping up on Neelix\’s back
for a while. \”No wonder these people are constantly coming to see me.
This is horrible.\”
Torres looked back at him. \”This is nothing.\”
\”If this is nothing then I seriously doubt that I am going to like
something,\” the Doctor muttered to no one in particular.

Guided by an uncanny gift for finding alcoholic beverages, Tom
Paris led them to a small pub in short order. After a minor scuffle with
the barkeep when Neelix tried to enter, Janeway and her crew settled down
at a darkened corner booth, with Kes occasionally wandering outside to
check on her horse.
The group sat around the table listening quietly for more than an
hour while the doctor ate and drank.
\”This is hopeless,\” B\’Elanna said in frustration. They had
casually prodded and questioned almost everyone in the bar to no avail.
\”Let\’s try somewhere else.\”
They all got up to leave and were stopped immediately by the
barkeep. \”I hope you weren\’t thinking of leaving without paying for your
friends meal. That uniform doesn\’t entitle you to free room and board in
these parts.\”
Janeway tried to reason with the man. This scene was drawing much
more attention than she wanted right now. \”I\’m sorry, we don\’t have any
money right now-\”
\”Well, it seems we have a situation here. If you don\’t have any
money then I am going to have to call the authorities… unless of course
you\’d like to work out some kind of trade.\” The man smiled in a way that
made Janeway\’s skin crawled. *If only Chakotay was here, he\’d know what
to do.*
Suddenly a voice swept across the room. \”I shall pay for the
lady, and her guests.\”
Janeway turned to see Q crossing towards the barkeep and handing
him a sack of coins. The barkeep, caught between greed and the
disappointment at not having his lustful wishes fulfilled, simply walked
away.
Q then raised his voice and addressed the room, though he kept his
eyes riveted on Janeway. \”Hear ye, hear ye, on the authority of King
Edward of England all are invited and required to attend the public
execution of the Vicomte de Chakotay, at sunrise in the town center.\”
The patrons listened for a moment, and then Q strolled out as
casual and unnoticed as he came in.
\”I could kill him for doing this to us,\” B\’Elanna steamed.
\”I could kiss him for giving us that information,\” Janeway
countered dryly. \”Let\’s get going.\”
\”Don\’t forget to take your friend with you,\” the barkeep yelled
from behind the bar. Janeway looked back at the table and saw the doctor
passed out, in front of him a chicken skeleton picked clean and eight
empty beer mugs.
\”Why didn\’t someone stop him?\” Janeway asked as she assigned Harry
and Tom to \’Doctor duty\’.

Chakotay sat alone in his cell, facing the longest, and possibly
last, night of his life. There were many things that he pondered, but
most often he found his thoughts wandering back to her. Proud and strong
in her command, soft to the occasional touch.
A sudden flash of light jarred him out of introspection.
\”I should have known you were involved in this.\”
\”Yes, I have to admit this was all my doing. But, animal boy,
this is just as much for your good as anyone else\’s. Indeed, you stand to
benefit the most.\” Q eyed the commander for a long moment. \”Tell you
what, I\’ll end the whole thing now, if you will just admit that you love
her.\”
\”Love who?\” Chakotay asked, though he already knew, already felt,
the answer.
Q threw up his hands in disgust. \”Your very life hangs in the
balance, and yet you still cannot say that simple sentence. Truly
incredible.\”
\”Q, I don\’t have time for this game.\”
\”No, indeed you don\’t. You have until morning. If you want to
get everything cleared up with that beaver you talk to, I would suggest
you start now.\” Q raised his hand to snap his fingers and added as an
afterthought, \”Oh, and while you\’re there ask her what she knows about
geckos.\” Then with a snap he was gone.

Kathryn Janeway sat down with her crew in the middle of the town
square. At three in the morning there wasn\’t much activity and, as long
as they were quiet, the group could plan. The town square itself was
exactly what its name purported. A large square surrounded by various
public buildings, large enough to hold a few hundred people. In the
center of the square sat a large gallows platform with a noose already
hanging serenely.
Next to the captain the doctor stirred and coughed.
\”Oh,\” he said, holding his hand up to his forehead, \”I have a
splitting headache. Will someone please deactivate me.\”
\”I\’m sorry doctor,\” Janeway said, her voice thick with satire,
\”But tonight, you\’re real.\”
\”I hope this never happens again,\” he said ruefully.
\”At any rate,\” Janeway turned her attention back to the situation
at hand, \”You all know your assignments. Paris, Kim, I suggest you start
planning your diversion now. Kes, you and B\’Elanna take positions by the
entrance to the square. Doctor, you can meet us in the forest, at the
point where we stopped before coming into the city. From there we should
head straight to where we began this adventure. Understood?\”
There were brief nods all around.
\”Good.\”

Chakotay awakened to a sky that was already bathed deeply in pre
dawn luminescence. A guard came into his cell and inquired as to whether
Chakotay wanted to see a priest. Hoping that it would be Q, still wearing
his robes of the church, Chakotay agreed. He was somewhat disenhartened to
see that it was not Q, but out of respect for the other man\’s faith kept
silent during his final blessing.
As the priest talked thoughts ran rampant through Chakotay\’s mind.
*I am not ready to die. I have not made peace with myself. I have not
done everything I was intended to do. I have not loved her as I should.
I am not supposed to die.* Whether these thoughts were the result of his
uncertain disbelief that Q would truly kill him, or merely the fervent
wishes of his mind, he did not know.
Again the guard returned. He allowed the priest to exit and this
time had Chakotay stand. He marched Chakotay out of his cell and out into
the street. A full crowd had already assembled. The guard led him up
past a small pageboy and his horse up onto the platform. Chakotay\’s eyes
scanned the crowd, but he saw nothing familiar.
Harry leaned over to Tom Paris. \”Everyone is in position. Have
you come up with a diversion yet?\”
\”I told you I\’d be ready and I will.\”
\”They\’re putting the noose around his neck, Tom. It\’s now or
never.\”
\”Alright. Follow my lead.\” Tom walked up to the man standing
next to him and tapped him on the shoulder. \”Excuse me, sir.\”
A rough and barrel chested man of forty turned around, \”Yes?\”
Tom connected a right cross to his jaw. The man\’s friends
instantly turned on Paris. Watching Tom taking on more than he could
handle, Harry jumped into the fray. \”Great diversion.\”
B\’Elanna grabbed Kes\’s arm. \”C\’mon, that\’s our cue. Let\’s go.\”
Unnoticed the two women slipped outside of the gate.
Janeway listened from the side of the platform as this General
McKenzie proclaimed Chakotay\’s death sentence. Although she could barely
hear his voice there was something strangely familiar about it. She did
not, however, have time to ponder the familiarity because at that moment
Paris\’s full fledged brawl reached the gallows.
Seizing the opportunity Janeway rushed up onto the platform and
pushed the general off into the ruckus below. With a single swing of her
broadsword she cut the noose and swooped down to cut the rope binding his
hands behind his back.
\”I was starting to get worried,\” Chakotay said, only half joking.
\”Chakotay, look out!\” Janeway shouted as guards from either side
leaped upwards to deal with the escapee. She turned to face the attackers
on her side and in the process was separated from the Commander. Out of
the corner of his eye, Chakotay watched with what was almost a sense of
pride as Janeway fended off the attackers one by one.
He found himself, unarmed against the oncoming soldiers, backing
his way down the side of the platform. Chakotay felt something firm but
soft behind him and realized that he must have backed into the horse that
he had seen earlier. There was no sign of the page boy.
\”Get on.\”
\”What?\” Chakotay lost his concentration as the incredulity of a
talking horse set in and took a hard blow to the ribcage for it.
\”I thought you talked to animals all the time,\” the horse said
impatiently. \”Now get on.\”
Chakotay did as he was told. The horse rounded the platform
quickly and met Janeway on the other side. Reaching with all his
strength, Chakotay pulled her from between to oncoming soldiers and onto
the horse.
\”Let\’s go Neelix!\” Janeway shouted over the din.
As they rode towards one of the buildings on the outside of the
square Chakotay leaned forward and said, \”You named the horse Neelix?\”
\”My mother named me Neelix, Commander. I wasn\’t a horse until we
met that infernal letter.\”
\”Ah,\” Chakotay caught a glimpse of understanding. \”More of Q\’s
handiwork.\” Janeway and Chakotay ducked as they entered the building.
From within the melee outside one General Marcus McKenzie
followed.

At the back of the small weapons shop they had entered Janeway
issued a silent curse. \”I was hoping that there would be a back door in
here. Looks like we\’ll just have to hide until the brawl clears up.\”
\”What if someone enters the shop?\” Chakotay asked. \”I might be
recognized.\”
\”You\’re right.\” Janeway sat for a moment thinking. Then behind
one of the counters she spotted a stairwell. \”Let\’s go Neelix, to the
roof,\” she said, resisting the urge to kick Neelix in the sides.
On the roof Janeway and Chakotay crouched down and spied the
street scene below. Neelix tried to hide behind the doorway to the
stairwell, taking most of his body out of the general line of sight.
\”I want to say thank you for coming to get me, Captain,\” Chakotay
said as the twosome waited quietly. The brawl would not be over for some
time.
\”I could never have let anything happen to you, Commander.\”
Chakotay turned and looked into her eyes. Was there something
more there than just the concern for a man under her command? He opened
his mouth to speak-
-and never got the chance to finish the sentence as the General
tackled him to the ground and in one single motion knocked Janeway
completely to the other side of the roof. She stood and realized as the
two men wrestled why the voice had sounded so familiar to her earlier.
\”Mark.\”
The general looked up, \”My love, you need to get out of here. You
are wanted as much as this man.\” The voice, the concern it held, drove
Janeway to near tears. She sat there, unable to interfere as the two men
wrestled one another. Suddenly she felt the roof beneath her feet shift a
little.
\”You have to stop this, both of you. This roof isn\’t going to
hold all of us much longer.\”
Neither man was willing to give in to the other. At one point
Chakotay seemed to gain the upper hand, and suddenly Mark brandished a
dagger and Chakotay was on the defensive again. With an audible moan the
roof that was holding them caved in beneath the men. Janeway raced
forward and grabbed a hand of each.
Janeway watched the dagger clatter to the floor below, landing on
a rack of newly made swords. Although the drop was not far, letting
either man go would now result in his death as he impaled himself on the
weapons.
Janeway could feel both of the men slipping from her grasp. No
matter how she moved her body or tried to gain leverage there was no way
to save one without dropping the other.
Kathryn turned her head and looked deep into Chakotay\’s eyes, so
full of understanding. He looked at her and said simply, \”Do what you
have to do, Kathryn.\”
With tears streaming down her face, Kathryn Janeway let go.
She gripped the remaining man\’s forearm and hauled him up to the
roof top. \”Let\’s get out of here, Commander.\” Together they mounted
Neelix and held on to each other tightly. As they neared the entrance to
the forest there was a now familiar flash and the world disappeared once
again.
Janeway found herself seated on the couch in her quarters next to
Q, a mug of coffee in each of their hands. \”I have to hand it to you
Madame Captain, that was a pretty tough choice.\”
Janeway\’s blood began to boil. \”How dare you bring Mark here and
do that to me! Of all the cruel, manipulative, malicious-\”
\”I admit that it wasn\’t very nice, Kathryn. But examine what you
have learned about yourself. When you allowed Q to commit suicide you
taught me a lesson about life. The debt is now repaid.\” With a flash of
light Q was gone, leaving Janeway and her coffee to ponder over the events
of the day.
Janeway looked at the clock on her wall. According to it only
five minutes had passed, and if everyone had been returned to where they
were before Q showed up then…
\”Janeway to Chakotay.\”
\”Chakotay here, Captain.\”
\”Are you still on your way to the holodeck, Commander?\”
\”Well, Captain, after our experience with Q I thought that I might
go back to my quarters and relax for a while.\” Chakotay paused for half a
second before adding, \”Would you like to join me?\”
Janeway smiled. \”I thought you\’d never ask.\”

Fin.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.