When Q Jr. petitions for entrance to the Academy, either the Continuum or Starfleet will never be the same again.
Written by MaquisKat
Edited by SaRa
Produced by SaRa, MaquisKat and Coral
Released 25 Oct 2002
Note: Some events in this story reference a VVS fanfic story by Jeff Harlan, "Bonds," which the VVS Executive Staff have decided to make canon in the VVS Universe. It is not necessary to read this story but it will fill in certan details.
"So let me get this straight, Itchy." Q Jr. didn’t bother to suppress his grin as he took in recent events in his Brunali friend’s life, regardless of the discomfort it might cause. After all, between mortals and the Continuum, torment was a sign of affection. "Little horned girl showed up on your doorstep wanting to start a relationship with you?"
For his part, Icheb did not look discomforted in the least. "Naomi did, however I believe your characterization of her as a ‘little horned girl’ is primarily incorrect. With Naomi’s Ktarian heritage, her rate of maturation is distinctively quicker than most Human children."
Lounging back against the bed with his arms crossed behind his head, Q Jr. considered his friend and his grin became a decided smirk, "So if she’s matured so"—the omnipotent teen dragged out the word—"much then why not take her up on her offer?"
Icheb settled in his chair across from the bed and seriously considered Q Jr.’s question for a moment. "Having known Naomi for so long aboard Voyager, I believe I have come to consider her a younger sibling."
Rolling his eyes, Q Jr. sighed and stood up, inspecting different small items as he moved around the room. "You still seriously need to cut loose, my friend. Good thing I’ll be going here next semester I’ll help you out with that." At this Icheb found himself doing a passable impersonation of Tuvok, but Q Jr. continued, oblivious to his friend’s growing expression of disbelief. "So then you got dragged off to Vulcan by your current squeeze What’s her name ? T’Kira? T’Kala?"
"T’Kara," Icheb supplied instinctively, "but "
The young Q cut Icheb off mid-sentence, "I would have been more impressed if you had told me Seven of Nine had dropped Chuckles for you Not that Vulcans can’t be cute. In fact, dad took me to see this one, way back in Starfleet’s history. Whoa, now she was something else The catsuits helped, too." Pausing, Q turned to face Icheb once more, "So are you two hitched or what?"
Icheb sighed, wondering if Q Jr. had taken a course in twentieth century slang from Mr. Paris. "No, we chose not to bond at that time." Before his friend could launch another barrage of questions, Icheb stood and faced him. "You wish to join Starfleet?"
A brief flash of regret passed on Q Jr.’s face, but then a grin followed and he nodded. "You bet. Of course, since the Continuum isn’t a member of the Federation, I need a sponsor. I asked my father’s friend, Jean-Luc I thought it would look better than having my own god-mother sponsor me, especially since she’ll have to be my guardian, but he didn’t seem to take my request seriously." The young Brunali was left wondering what was left unsaid about that encounter by the look on Jr.’s face. "Since Voyager returned to Earth I was just on my way to ask Aunt Kathy, but I thought I’d stop by and chat. See the place."
"You do realize that while Captain Janeway may be more inclined to believe your intentions than Captain Picard was, you will still have to prove to her that you are indeed honest in your wish to join Starfleet." Icheb watched his friend’s face.
The other boy shrugged, pushing it aside. "I think she’ll know how serious I am when she realizes that I have to give up my powers and become human to do it." A buzz at the Cadet’s door pulled Icheb from the shock induced by Q’s revelations enough to answer it.
"Icheb!" The door slid open to reveal Naomi standing just behind the threshold; a large smile on her face, her eyes sparkling and auburn curls cascading down her back. "My father and I came to meet mom after the debriefing and I couldn’t be in the neighborhood without stopping by."
Icheb smiled back and pulled his friend into a gentle hug and drew her into his room. "It’s good to see you as well I have a guest."
"So I see," Naomi looked questioningly at Icheb, then turned her attention to Q Jr., holding out her hand to him. Keeping her voice carefully neutral, she spoke, "It’s nice to see you again, Q " A glimmer in Q Jr.’s eye made Icheb decidedly nervous, but Naomi didn’t seem to notice or if she did she didn’t acknowledge it. Instead she met him eye to eye, chin up, emulating both of the women on Voyager, other than her mother, that had helped her grow into the independent young woman she was today.
Catching her hand, Q pulled Naomi to him looking down into her eyes, an arrogant grin on his face. "Where have I been all your life?" Slowly, he bent down to catch her lips with his.
Kathryn settled back in her chair, the latest report from Starfleet Command holding her attention, rather than the breakfast that Chakotay was setting in front of her. "We’re off duty, Kathryn. Are you going to put that down or " Looking up at him, Kathryn felt the moment of annoyance at his attitude fade as she took in the playful expression on his face.
"You’ll want to see this, Chakotay." Kathryn held the padd out to him as she pulled her breakfast in front of her. "Eggs benedict, asparagus, and strawberries with cream." Taking a deep breath, she couldn’t keep the smile off her face. Only Chakotay would remember a random comment made a lifetime ago. She picked up a piece of strawberry and popped it into her mouth, before she looked up at him once more.
"The Logan," Chakotay breathed and Kathryn reached out and took his hand. "They’re searching for it, but it’s completely off their radar. The entire ship isn’t Section Thirty One, but "
"Grant has complete control." Kathryn looked into his eyes. "Admiral Nechayev has asked if you could come in and give a more detailed statement. They want to charge Grant specifically with your attempted murder and they want everything in order when they catch him."
Chakotay closed his eyes and breathed a silent prayer to the spirits once again, when he opened them he kissed Kathryn gently on the forehead. "I’ll see to it right away." He settled himself in the chair opposite Kathryn and pulled his own plate in front of him. "The sooner we deal with all the loose ends, the sooner we can put this all behind us."
Kathryn smiled widely at his response then took a bite of her eggs, savoring the taste. "This is heavenly, Chakotay." She gestured towards him with the fork still in her hand. "You do realize how relieved my mother was to find out that you could cook and would prevent me from having to ingest too much of that ‘molecularly scrambled, instant food’." Chakotay chuckled as Kathryn did a perfect impression of Gretchen’s favorite comments.
"If I didn’t get it the first dozen times, it sounds as though I can ask you for an instant replay whenever I need it." Chakotay teased and was rewarded with a low level death glare from the other side of the table.
"Behave, Mr. Chakotay or I’ll " Her words were interrupted by the sound of their door chime. Kathryn looked at Chakotay. "Are you expecting anyone?"
Chakotay shook his head and stood up, smoothing out the wrinkles in his T-shirt with his hands, "It’s probably your family or someone from the crew My sister is en route from Bajor." He moved to the door, keying it open then seemed to stand dumbfounded for a moment. "Kathryn, I believe it’s for you."
Kathryn drew her robe tighter around her body and stood as Chakotay moved aside to allow their visitor in. "Hello, Aunt Kathy." Q Jr. grinned at the human woman who stood there in shock for a moment then started looking around the room expectantly. "No, my father isn’t with me right now."
Janeway recovered her voice as her hands found her hips. "Q, aren’t you supposed to be supervised at all times " She let her voice trail off, realizing that she’d said too much.
"It’s ok, Aunt Kathy I know about that now. It didn’t take long to figure out that the Continuum wanted me chaperoned when my father started tagging along with me wherever I went." Q Jr. smiled mischievously and looked at Chakotay. "Looks like you have a chaperone too, now or maybe you need one?"
"Q," Kathryn started warningly, then smiled as she saw the grin on Chakotay’s face. It seemed that he had a higher tolerance for this young Q than the older version. "Come and sit down. Tell me what prompted this visit." Though she had a soft spot for the young man, she didn’t have any illusion that his visit was purely social.
Unlike his father, Q Jr. didn’t have any illusions that he could pull one over on his Aunt Kathy, besides the fact that he needed her good will to get him into Starfleet, but he hoped that he might be able to leave certain details about why and how out. "I want to join Starfleet, Aunt Kathryn." He met her gaze as he spoke, hoping his anxiousness to join would be the only thing she perceived.
Kathryn shook her head, not quite believing her ears. "Q, you had difficulty even accepting my authority on Voyager I have difficulty believing that you would willingly submit yourself to the command structure that Starfleet maintains." She stood and paced for a moment, then took Q hand and drew him to the couch with her, settling beside him. "This isn’t just about what’s best for Starfleet, Q.. I don’t think you would thrive in that environment either." She squeezed his hand slightly. "Starfleet isn’t right for everyone, and I just can’t see "
"But appearances can be deceiving, Aunt Kathryn." Q stood and fixed her with a steady gaze. "Look at Wesley Crusher. Everyone thought he would be perfect Starfleet material and he hated it Dropped out. Isn’t it within the realm of possibility that despite what I am now, I might do very well in Starfleet?"
Kathryn looked to Chakotay for support, but instead he had a thoughtful look on his face. "He’s right, Kathryn. He at least deserves a chance to try."
Chakotay nodded at Q Jr. and the omnipotent teen was bolstered by this show of support from an unexpected quarter. "I’m not asking for anything but that chance, Aunt Kathryn." Q focused on Janeway once more. "They won’t even consider my application unless I have a sponsor, after that whether I get in or not will be up to my test results."
Pinching her nose, Kathryn tried to reconcile the anxious young man before her with the boy who had caused such havoc on her ship. While she didn’t doubt that his experience with Icheb had made an impact on him, she couldn’t shake the feeling that she was missing something. "That’s another reservation I have, Q If I sponsor you, you are omnipotent. It’s not fair to the other applicants to have to compete for a place against someone who can’t fail the entrance exam."
"I thought you might feel that way, Aunt Kathy " Q looked down at his own feet then back up at her. "You see, if I go through with this I won’t be omnipotent anymore The Continuum will remove my powers."
A ripple of shock ran through both Janeway and Chakotay as they looked to one another. "Q " she started, but words failed her. In any other circumstance, this alone would have been enough to convince Kathryn that Q Jr. was playing a game of some sort, but there was a desperation in his eyes that she’d never seen before. Not even when he thought he’d been responsible for Icheb’s death. "I don’t know what to say "
Chakotay stepped forward, putting his hand on one of Q Jr.’s shoulders. "You should take some time to consider what this will mean to you, Q." He looked to Kathryn then back at the young Q. "I suggest that you audit some of the classes, talk to Icheb and his friends, learn what it would be like to be a part of Starfleet from other cadets. While you’re doing that Kathryn will consider your request for sponsorship."
Kathryn nodded in approval of his suggestion, which was so similar to the one she had been about to propose that she would have suspected him of plucking it from her mind if she hadn’t known better. "I think that would be best for all involved." She could see the frustration in her godson’s face and was almost certain of a Q-esque outburst of insolence, but a moment later it was pushed aside.
"All right, Aunt Kathy I know I need to be in Starfleet, but if you want me to take a look around and spend some time then I will," Jr. acquiesced good-naturedly. "It won’t change my mind, but maybe it will convince you of my intentions."
Kathryn stood again, straightening her robe as though it were her uniform, then nodded curtly at Q. "Dismissed then."
Moving towards the door, Q Jr. paused and looked back. "I’ll be with Icheb if you need to find me and I’ll be back for dinner."
"Why " Kathryn’s expression was one of consternation.
The young Q met Kathryn’s gaze with a merry grin. "Well if I do join, you’re the only family I’ll have on Earth, Aunt Kathy, so I assumed I’d be staying with you " He slipped from the room before either of the adults could respond.
Chakotay started to speak but was cut off by Kathryn’s hand over his mouth. "Don’t you dare say anything You encouraged him. If we end up as parents to Q by default, just remember it’s you fault." Kathryn dropped her hand and wrapped her arms around his waist, laying her head against his chest. "I know there’s more going on here than meets the eye, I just need to figure out what."
Naomi sat at the table with her face against her folded arms. "What did I do? I keep looking at what I did or said or " Her head came up abruptly and fixed Icheb with her own version of a death glare. "I blame you for this."
"I do not see how Q deciding that you are worthy of his attention could possibly be my fault." Icheb ventured in his typically neutral tone of voice.
"I didn’t say it was your fault," Naomi pouted, "I said I was blaming you There’s a difference. Besides, he’s your friend. If he hadn’t been visiting you, I wouldn’t have seen him." Naomi took a deep breath and leaned back in her chair as she rubbed her forehead. "I still don’t get why he’s interested in me all the sudden. I mean we all heard what happened when he snapped away Seven’s clothes in Astrometrics, but I’m no where near " She looked down at her maturing, but still relatively delicate figure. "And my clothes aren’t."
Icheb watched as Naomi fell silent and her gaze was drawn out the window, her hand coming up to support her chin, as she tried to puzzle out what happened. Though Icheb had his own theories on why the young part Ktarian girl had attracted the young Q’s attention, he wasn’t about to suggest those theories for fear of distressing her further.
The mess hall wasn’t very full, it being the weekend and many Cadets had gone home to visit family and friends, so it was much easier for T’Kara to pinpoint Icheb and make her way to his and Naomi’s table than it would have been during the week. "Greetings, T’Kara," Icheb stood and moved in so that she could sit down. "This is a friend from Voyager, Naomi Wildman."
"Indeed, I have heard Fromme mention her in passing, I believe." T’Kara turned her attention to the young woman as Naomi moaned painfully and let her head drop back against the table.
The Vulcan girl’s eyebrow rose as Naomi slowly began to hit her head against the table’s surface. "Why can’t I attract something other than pigs?" Naomi moaned.
Icheb extended his hand beneath her head and cushioned the next blow. "Although Ktarian skull densities are much higher than a normal human’s, I do not believe this activity is necessarily conductive to resolving your problem. Perhaps T’Kara could offer a suggestion from a female perspective."
Naomi opened one eye and turned her head so her cheek was resting against Icheb’s palm. Her one-eyed gaze appraised T’Kara carefully then she lifted her head to look at Icheb. "Isn’t that sort of like asking Tuvok for romantic advice? I mean, I love Tuvok, I really do " She looked at T’Kara then back at Icheb, "But "
"I think you would be surprised how much Vulcans and T’Kara actually do understand about relationships, Naomi." Icheb smiled encouragingly.
"Ok." Naomi sighed and began to explain the incident at Icheb’s quarters with the Q entity. If nothing else, Naomi giggled slightly, the reaction of T’Kara was worth it. The slowly arching eyebrow found its way to nest in the Vulcan girl’s bangs only to be followed by the other.
"Indeed," T’Kara looked at Icheb appraisingly. It was truly extraordinary how even the youngest members of Voyager‘s crew seemed to take in stride things that would make seasoned officers blanch. "I do not believe that even my recent experience with a male in Pon Farr has significant bearing on your own difficulty." She watched as Naomi gave Icheb an ‘I told you so’ glare. "However, perhaps you should speak to another individual that the Q entities have attached themselves to in the past. Either Captain Picard or Captain Janeway would be suitable candidates. Since you have a previous relationship with Captain Janeway "
Naomi snapped around to face T’Kara. "Why didn’t I think of that?" She blushed slightly as she thought of how silly it was to still think of herself as Captain Janeway’s assistant.
Icheb breathed a sigh of relief, glad that he would not have to be the one to point out that Naomi’s emulation of Captain Janeway could very well be the reason that his Q friend had ‘attached’ himself to Naomi, as T’Kara had put it.
"I believe that the stress of an omnipotent being focusing their attention solely on you as a romantic interest would be sufficient cause for even a Vulcan to lose sight of reason," T’Kara offered with a slight nod of her head.
"Thank you, T’Kara." Naomi got up and moved away from the table, then turned back and grinned at the cadets. "You two really do make a cute couple."
It was going to be one of those days.
Kathryn Janeway knew it. She settled behind her desk in her temporary office and started sorting through the stack of reports and log entries that needed verification from their last trip to the Delta Quadrant. Once again she was reminded of exactly why being out of touch with Headquarters was a bad thing.
Paperwork. Reams and reams of it. For every day you were out of contact there seemed to be at least a dozen reports that never would have been needed had you not lost contact with Headquarters to begin with.
She sighed and focused on her work, at least it would take her mind off of the other things that were preying on her mind. Chakotay would likely be with the JAG for most of the day, providing them with his testimony of events on the Logan, which meant she wouldn’t have his help to go through this latest mountain of bureaucracy.
Then there was Q’s request.
The throbbing in her head increased.
Was it the nagging suspicion that there was more to this request than met her eye, or the fact that she would end up the defacto mother to an once-omnipotent teenager if he did join the Academy that contributed to her headache? When she had pictured herself having children, it certainly hadn’t included adopting the wayward teenage sons of self-absorbed omnipotent
She shook her head dismissively and tried to push those thoughts from her mind, letting her subconscious decipher whether her nagging doubts were in fact valid or were simply because this was a Q asking to join the Academy. Focusing her conscious thought on the padds in front of her, she settled into the rhythm of reading and certifying each of the documents
for all of five minutes before her chime sounded. With a pained sigh, she rose from her seat to retrieve a cup of coffee from the replicator before calling out, "Come."
Kathryn took a sip from her cup as lovely, young auburn haired girl stepped into her office, then set it down on the coffee table. At first Janeway thought it was another hopeful applicant to the Academy looking for a sponsor, then it registered. "Naomi?"
"Captain," Naomi squealed. Completely forgotten was any sense of teenage dignity as she once again acted like the little girl who had been so proud of being Captain Janeway’s assistant. She threw her arms around the Captain’s neck and hugged her for all she was worth.
Kathryn pulled back after a moment and looked down into Naomi’s eyes, realizing the only reason she had to look down any more were the high heeled boots she habitually wore with her uniform. "I didn’t think you’d come and visit me, Naomi. I knew you were here with your father to meet Sam, but "
Naomi followed the Captain as she drew her to the couch. "I was worried about you too, Captain. After all, you were out there so long, without your assistant to take care of you." Naomi smiled brightly as Kathryn chuckled.
"And I missed having you there." Kathryn affectionately ran her hand along the girl’s cheek. "Are you sure I was only gone a year? You’ve gone and grown up on me "
Naomi sighed and pressed herself closer to Janeway. "I’ll always be your assistant, Captain." Her eyes sparkled as Janeway’s smile broadened at her comment.
"Would you like something to drink, Naomi?" Janeway stood and moved to the replicator once more.
Naomi grinned. "Coffee, but with milk and two sugars would be great. Dad won’t let me drink it black yet, he says too much will stunt my growth."
"Absolutely true." A sly half grin crossed Kathryn’s face. "What do you think happened to me?" Kathryn set the cup on the coffee table in front of the girl as Naomi was giggling too hard to be able to take it from her hand safely. After a moment, when Naomi picked up her cup and took a sip, Janeway realized that this was exactly what she needed, a nice social call from one of the members of the original Voyager‘s crew, especially one of the ones she had had to leave behind. "So have you seen Icheb?"
Naomi sighed and set down her cup, "Yes, Captain, I have and I need your advice."
Somewhat taken back by the serious look on the young girl’s face, Kathryn set down her coffee cup. It couldn’t be that bad, could it? After all, this was Naomi, a seemingly teenage girl with teenage girl problems. Maybe she wanted to date Icheb – although he was chronologically older than Naomi, she seemed to be of a similar age now – and didn’t know how to ask. "You know I’ll help you however I can, Naomi," she smiled slightly, "although I’ve never been a great expert on romance."
Naomi crinkled her nose. "Why would I want a romance with him?"
Or maybe not. "Now Naomi, Icheb is "
"Not Icheb Icheb is the least of my problems. We got that settled weeks ago, he’s dating a Vulcan girl From what I heard he even went home with her to Vulcan." Kathryn’s eyebrow arched as Naomi matter-of-factly dissembled the news on the youngest members of Voyager‘s crew. "They actually make a pretty cute couple."
Janeway took a gulp of her coffee. Icheb, from the sounds of it, was either one step from marriage or married. Naomi was a beautiful young woman. She rubbed her forehead and found herself wishing for a temporal anomaly to explain the sudden changes around here. It was either that or she was getting old. "So what exactly is your problem, Naomi?"
"Q," the young Ktarian girl moaned and looked at Janeway with wide eyes. Kathryn sat in stunned silence for a moment and took another gulp of her coffee. Was this the real reason that Q wanted into Starfleet? Q and Naomi Kathryn rose and moved to the replicator to refill her cup. Naomi had fallen silent and was watching Janeway with desperate eyes.
"I’m not certain I want to hear this, but go on." Kathryn returned to the couch and took her seat beside the girl once more.
"I came to visit Icheb this morning and he was there. So I said hello and he " Naomi set down her coffee cup and leaned down to hide her face against her knees so that her next words were muffled.
Kathryn could relate to the girl’s distress, but she needed to know what Q had actually done before she could offer any advice. "Did he turn you into something, Naomi?" She gently rubbed the girl’s back. A shake of Naomi’s head let her know that she was off base on that one. "Did he snap away your clothing?" Kathryn well remembered the incident with Seven. Another shake of the head. "Send you somewhere unpleasant?"
Finally Naomi came up, frustrated as Kathryn was with the game of twenty questions and shouted, "He KISSED me!"
"Kissed you?" Kathryn gulped down her coffee, completely ignoring that it was a fresh cup out of the replicator and quite hot. "Oh dear "
Naomi stood and started to pace. "I didn’t do anything to encourage him, Captain. I’ve gone over it in my mind hundreds of times. I simply came in, Icheb told me he had a guest. I wasn’t about to be intimidated by a Q so I looked him in the eye and told him it was nice to see him again. I held out my hand to shake his and he pulled me to him and said ‘Where have I been all your life.’" She pinched her nose then turned to face Janeway with her hands on her hips. "What do I do?"
"You know, I haven’t exactly been all that successful at driving the Q away either, Naomi," Janeway admitted, walking over to the girl and putting her hands on Naomi’s shoulders. "The last time Q showed up he appeared in my bathtub when I was in it in bubble bath."
Naomi giggled. "But I thought he is married."
"That hasn’t stopped him before, why should it stop him now?" Kathryn sighed and drew Naomi back to the couch. "He’s a teenager, Naomi. He might just stop on his own. After all, I don’t think he’s gone after Seven again this time. He doesn’t seem as focused as his father is."
Naomi nodded. "But if he does What should I do?"
"I could talk to him for you " Kathryn offered.
"No." Naomi shook her head, "Thank you, Captain, but no. I need to deal with this myself."
Kathryn smiled, proud of Naomi for her independence. "All right, then my best advice is indifference. Make certain he realizes that you aren’t interested. Don’t encourage him. Not even a disgusted reaction. With the Q you never know how he could interpret that."
"Indifference." Naomi gave a small half grin. "I think I can do indifference."
Fromme looked at Icheb incredulously, then back at Q. "You’re omnipotent and you’re slumming with us."
"He has requested to join Starfleet and Captain Janeway has requested that he audit some of our classes before she decides whether to sponsor him or not," Icheb explained as Q was too busy looking around the grounds as they made their way to the coffee shop on the far side of the Academy grounds.
One of the others piped up. "If you’re omnipotent, then why do you need classes; why shouldn’t they just let you in and commission you? You know all the answers already, don’t you?"
Q grinned, glad to see that at least one of the humans understood the enormity of Q-dom. "Actually that is a point my father has been trying to make for years."
Fromme scowled. "I don’t think that’s right. If I have to earn a rank, then omnipotent boy here should, too. Right from the ground up. Just knowing everything isn’t the same as understanding what it means to be a Starfleet officer."
Icheb looked at Fromme, somewhat surprised that the boy would ‘get it’ as much as he did, but then again there had to be a reason that Fromme was admitted to the Academy in the first place.
Q scowled back at the other boy. "We’re infinitely superior to your species, so why would I want to understand what it means?"
Fromme moved in front of Q, his fists clenching and unclenching. "If we’re so much below you, then why do you want to join Starfleet and why does your dad keep sniffing around our Captains Especially Janeway?"
"It’s like one of you keeping an ant farm," Q snarled. "It’s fun to watch you scurry around And Aunt Kathy is an exception to the rule."
"Aunt Kathy " Fromme mocked. "Aunt Kathy’s going to get you in, huh? Superior boy here can’t even get into Starfleet without help from his Aunt. Let’s get out of here Have fun with impotent boy, Icheb."
Q raised his hand, his fingers coming together to snap when Icheb caught his arm. "Q, you cannot use your powers to discipline them."
"But they " Q Jr. glared at Icheb who stood impassively holding the boy’s wrist.
"They mocked me as well when I joined the Academy. It is a normal practice among humans to mock and ridicule what they do not understand. Starfleet will enlighten them otherwise, but they are not yet mature enough to grasp the concept for the most part." Icheb led Q to a bench and sat down. "You also incited them by claiming superiority. I cannot understand why you would give up a position that you feel is superior to humanity, yet request to join an organization that will ultimately result in you being made a human."
"Better to rule in hell " Q intoned dramatically. Icheb’s expression didn’t change. "Haven’t you read Milton, Icheb?"
"I have, but I fail to see how that applies to your situation here." Icheb fell silent and waited for Q to explain.
Q settled down again. "Better to rule in hell, than serve in heaven. It sums up my situation quite succinctly actually. If I join Starfleet at least I will have some control over myself. The ability to make choices."
"As a Q " Icheb began but was cut off by the young Q once more.
Q shook his head, "I am constantly watched by my father and since I have reformed my behavior my mother has once again taken an interest in my future."
Icheb considered his friends words, now even more uncertain that Starfleet was the right place for Q.
"I have to go back to the JAG again after lunch." Chakotay sighed and eyed the pile of padds neatly sorted on Janeway’s desk.
Kathryn laughed. "Don’t worry, there will be plenty of those for you to help me with when you get back."
"And here I thought I was getting out of the tough stuff." Chakotay made a face then grinned as she cuffed his arm playfully.
"Not a chance, Mister, especially since you have to help me figure out this Q situation." Kathryn leaned forward and gently moved her lips over his.
Chakotay returned her kiss, his hand running up her back, then leaned his forehead against hers. "Have you considered that he may just want to join Starfleet? It wouldn’t be the first time a Cadet wanted to join when his parents were completely against it."
Kathryn pulled back further and looked at Chakotay speculatively. "You feel for him, don’t you Chakotay?"
"It’s hard not to for me, Kathryn. If he’s honest in his desire to join Starfleet, then his situation is probably similar to the one I found myself in." Chakotay shrugged slightly. "As a Cadet, it’s not like he’s going to need constant care and supervision. Just a support system behind him when he runs into rough waters to make it easier for him to adjust."
Kathryn smiled. "You must really be desperate for a family, Chakotay " Seeing the serious look on his face, Kathryn sighed then acquiesced. "All right, I see your point. If Q is really serious about joining Starfleet, then you and I will act as his support system."
A sudden bright flash in the middle of the room drew their attention, "Oh no Chuckles may steal my girl, but there is no way he’s adopting my son. Next thing you know he’d have Jr. in leather going on one of those soul junkets."
Janeway stood abruptly and stalked to where Q stood. "I. Am. Not. Your. Girl. Q," she growled ominously and felt the reassuring presence of Chakotay just behind her.
"Kathy, Kathy, Kathy Choosing him over me," Q pouted. "It was the tattoo, wasn’t it?"
Janeway stalked forward slowly, driving Q to the wall in front of her. "Let’s get this through your head, Q. You never had a chance. Ever. I was never, would never be, and will never be your girl. With or without Chakotay. Do. You. Understand?"
"Methinks the lady doth protest too much, don’t you Chuckles?" Q flashed into existence beside Chakotay, leaving an empty space between Kathryn and the wall. "Besides, she’s adorable when she’s angry." Q looked at the scowl on Chakotay’s face and flashed out of existence to again appear on the couch, holding a cup of coffee. "But you’re not."
"Q." Kathryn’s voice took on the command tone that made most aliens stop and think before crossing her. "Enough."
"You’re no fun anymore, Kathy You know that, don’t you?" Q sighed, then met Kathryn’s gaze directly. "Q can’t be allowed to join Starfleet. You can’t sponsor him."
Kathryn’s spine straightened. "If Q wants to join and I think he’s a suitable candidate, he will have my sponsorship, regardless of what the Continuum wants."
Chakotay grinned slightly, knowing a slight peculiarity of Kathryn’s nature would have been triggered by Q’s comment. Now just because Q didn’t want Q to join Starfleet, Q was that much closer to getting Kathryn’s sponsorship. In short, she was as contrary as he was, but better at hiding it and all the Qs in his thoughts were giving him a headache.
"Kathy, please I know you mean well, but it would be better if you just stayed out of this," Q pleaded.
Pleading. That drew both Janeway and Chakotay’s attention. "Why, Q?"
"Don’t look at me that way, Kathy. As far as the situation with my son goes, I am on the side of the angels this time." Q sipped his coffee and kept his gaze trained on the woman in front of him.
Kathryn snorted in disbelief. "Q, whether you had anything to do with this situation or not, I find it hard to believe you are ever on the side of the angels. Now why is it so imperative that Q doesn’t join Starfleet and that I don’t get involved?"
"It’s his mother " Q started and Kathryn scowled.
"I thought she had disowned him."
Chakotay shook his head. "She had until you did what she should have, Kathryn. Now that he’s reformed "
Q looked at Chakotay for a moment, reconsidering his earlier assessment of the man, but quickly put it out of his mind. "Tattooed Neanderthal man is right After you helped me to get Jr. back on the right track, Q decided that he was worth her interest again. She also decided that he did better with a female influence, so she arranged a mate for him "
"A mate?" Kathryn’s brow furrowed and she looked at Chakotay. "Q is a young man, shouldn’t he "
There was a flash and Q’s clothes suddenly changed to that of a priest’s hassock. "You’re preaching to the choir again, Kathryn." Janeway rolled her eyes in reaction. "I am in complete agreement with you. He’s far to young to be married off, even if I did have a hand in training the girl in question. I know I Well, let’s just say things with Q haven’t always been a bowl of peaches."
Chakotay shook his head. "He’s joining the Navy."
Both Q and Kathryn looked at Chakotay oddly. "It was an old practice in the early twentieth century. If a young man wanted to get out of whatever plan his parents had for him for his life or if he had to marry a girl then he’d join the Navy to get out of it. Navymen were gone from home for years at a time and by the time his run of enlistment was done "
"The trouble would be gone because of the passage of time." Kathryn smiled, then teased, "I don’t want to know how you know so much about the practice, do I Chakotay?"
Q rolled his eyes and appeared in an Admiral’s uniform between the two of them. "You know I think I liked the disgustingly longing glances between you two better you know. Whatever happened to protocol?"
"The same thing that would happen to you if you weren’t omnipotent." Chakotay muttered angrily.
"Enough " Kathryn once more intoned. "So, Q, what do you intend to do about it?"
"Do about it?" Q looked at Kathryn, surprised. "Convince him it won’t be so bad I suppose."
Kathryn shook her head. "Wrong answer, Q."
"Kathy, the last time she and I had an argument, it turned into a Civil War in the Continuum if you remember," Q complained.
Janeway’s hands found her hips, "Q, if you want me to not give Q my sponsorship to enter the Academy, then you had better come up with a better answer."
"Fine, we will convince her that she shouldn’t force Q into mating with Amanda." Q moved in front of Kathryn and put his hands on his hips in perfect imitation of Janeway.
"All right," Janeway nodded meeting Q’s gaze.
Chakotay eyed the two of them speculatively then cleared his throat, drawing both their gazes to him. "Isn’t Amanda an odd name for a Q?"
Naomi entered the messhall and made her way over to where T’Kara sat reading. "So is he around?"
"Icheb?" T’Kara watched impassively as Naomi made a face. "You mean the Q entity. No, I have not yet encountered him. Did Captain Janeway have advice for you on how to best deal with him?"
The half Ktarian girl settled in her chair. "She did Although its effectiveness might not be everything I could hope for. They’re apparently very persistent."
"An inaccurate yet very diplomatic way of describing it from what I have read of the records of Enterprise-D’s encounters with the creature." T’Kara noted.
Naomi shrugged. "Q is different " The Vulcan girl’s brow arched slightly. "They’re all named Q. There’s Q, the one who likes to harass Captain Janeway."
"Is he the same entity that Captain Picard frequently encounters?" T’Kara questioned, honestly interested in the young woman’s knowledge.
"As far as we know, yes, he is." Naomi continued, "Then there is Q, the original Q’s mate and Q’s mother. Who didn’t take very well to Q’s attraction to Captain Janeway."
"Indeed, I would not expect her to." T’Kara arched her brow. Naomi sighed. "And then there’s Q who seems to be intent on following in his father’s footsteps and making my life a living "
"Hello, ladies." Q flashed into existence. "You must be Icheb’s girlfriend, T’Kara. " The younger entity spread his fingers into the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper."
T’Kara raised her hand in response. "Peace and long life." Q settled onto the chair beside Naomi, slipping his arm over her shoulders, completely ignoring the way she stiffened as he touched her. "Maybe you and Icheb and Naomi and I could all go out on a double date sometime."
T’Kara’s eyebrow arched. "I do not believe that would be appropriate."
"Come on, we should take advantage of my powers while we can." Q grinned, "I need to show my girl here the universe before I settle down with her."
Naomi turned a disdainful gaze on Q. "I can’t do this." She paused, then let loose with both barrels. "I am not your girlfriend, Q. I will never settle down with you and I don’t want to see the universe with you. Now, do you not understand any part of that?"
"You know you’re beautiful when you’re angry." Q cast an adoring gaze on Naomi.
Naomi pushed back from the table with a unsettling growl. "That line was a fossil when your father mangled it on Captain Janeway. Get it through that thick, supposedly all-knowing skull of yours. I am not interested in you, nor will I ever be." Standing, she looked back at T’Kara, "Hopefully I’ll catch up with you later."
Q watched as Naomi stalked out of the messhall, admiring her determined stride and the way her long red-gold hair moved against her back. A grin spread across his face and he turned back to face T’Kara. "So tell me, did I come on too strong?"
"Icheb," Janeway smiled and shook her head as the door slid open to allow his entrance into her office, "I’d say it was a surprise, but with the way today has gone, I don’t really think it is." She squeezed his shoulder lightly. "Whether it’s a surprise or not, it is a pleasure."
Icheb followed the Captain in the room, and watched as she sat down. "Captain, it is about Q."
"I assumed so." Janeway touched the spot on the couch beside her. "Sit down, Icheb. I’m anxious to hear how things here were for you while we were all gone."
The young Brunali settled beside the Captain and smiled slightly. "I have adapted to the Academy. It is different from Voyager, and it was difficult at first, but I am enjoying it as well."
Janeway smiled brightly, "I’m glad to hear that, Icheb." She sighed and took a sip from her ever-present coffee cup. "Now what news do you bring me about Q?"
"I do not believe that he is suited for life here at the Academy, and I do not believe that he truly wishes to become a Starfleet officer," Icheb offered.
"And how did you come to that conclusion, Icheb?" Kathryn settled back against the couch.
Icheb regarded her seriously. "Q is escaping from a situation that he feels he has no control over as best he can. At least that is what I have inferred from what he has said and the Milton he has quoted."
"Milton?" Janeway shook her head. "I thought Shakespeare was more their style. Let me guess, ‘Better to rule in hell’?"
"Indeed." Icheb nodded, reading the Captain’s expression. "You have your doubts as well?"
"Doubts confirmed by Q’s father. It seems that Mrs. Q has nuptials planned for her son that he’s not too keen on accepting." Janeway sighed. "I don’t blame Q for wanting to escape, and if we can’t find a better resolution to his problems, then we may all have to get used to having Q around."
"I do not think Naomi would appreciate that, Captain." Icheb watched the Captain, somewhat bemused.
Janeway sighed, remembering their conversation from earlier. "I don’t suppose she would either, but we’ll all have to learn to live with it if we can’t find another way. Icheb, you’re closest to Q. Keep him out of trouble as much as you can. Let him see what he’ll have to put up with if he joins, and don’t sugar coat it at all. While it may not change his mind completely, it may keep him open to what his father and I are planning."
Icheb looked at Janeway questioningly then nodded. "I will do my best."
The Captain rose and deposited her cup in the recycler. "And tell him dinner is at seven sharp and I am expecting him to be on time." Icheb’s eyebrow rose another notch, but he nodded once again. "I will advise him."
Chakotay watched as Kathryn set another place at their table. "Will he even eat?"
"I doubt it," Kathryn sighed and looked up at Chakotay, "But you’re the one who insisted we would be his support system."
Chakotay smiled and carried the vegetarian lasagna out to the table. "It doesn’t look like he’ll be joining Starfleet, Kathryn."
"I know, but " Kathryn looked up at Chakotay.
"You know me better than that, Kathryn. I won’t stand by and watch him be forced into a marriage he doesn’t want either. Starfleet or not, he’s welcome." Chakotay wrapped his arms around Kathryn.
Kathryn nodded as the door to their quarters slid open and Q stepped in. "Am I late, Aunt Kathryn?"
"Not at all, Q." Kathryn released Chakotay and moved to the table. "Right on time." She settled down in her seat and watched as Q moved to sit beside her and watched as Chakotay took his seat across from her.
Chakotay looked at the young man seriously. "Q, would you mind if we called you something other than Q? Just to keep things straight when we’re talking about you and when we’re talking about your father."
"It might help you when you’re relating to the other Cadets as well, Q." Kathryn nodded in approval of Chakotay’s suggestion.
"All right," the young Q thought for a moment, "How about Quentin?"
Kathryn nodded. "I think that will do very nicely, Quentin." She looked at Chakotay and smiled, wondering how far his camaraderie with the young Q would go.
They both started to eat, watching as Quentin experimented with tasting a bit of the food and drink. "So, Aunt Kathryn, have you decided if you are going to sponsor me?"
Kathryn looked at Chakotay then back at her godson. "I’m still not convinced that you joining fleet is in your best interest, Quentin. Why don’t you tell me the real reason that you want to leave the Continuum and we’ll discuss it?"
Quentin set down his fork and scowled slightly. "Father, come out. I knew you’d convince her not to sponsor me."
A flash of light and Q appeared seated next to Janeway while Quentin was beside Chakotay. "Q," the elder omnipotent being stressed the letter, "I understand your reluctance to do as your mother wishes, but "
"No," Kathryn stepped in. "Quentin, let me make this clear to you. If we can’t resolve this, you don’t have to join Starfleet, but I will not allow you to be forced into something you don’t want to do."
Another bright flash illuminated the room, "That’s quite enough." The female Q glared at the group seated before her. She turned her attention to Q first. "Letting the humans dictate to you, Q. I hold you responsible for Q’s behavior, letting him entertain this notion of joining Starfleet, becoming human." Her glare focused on Quentin next. "The Continuum had high hopes for you, Q. So far you haven’t lived up to many of them, but you will do as we ask." Finally she settled her gaze on Janeway. "And you, I suppose I should be grateful to you for helping to reform Q the first time, but what I would truly be grateful for is if you could find another focus for your mothering instincts. Maybe I should help you with that." The female Q smirked and brought her hand up.
There was a flash and Kathryn’s hands went to her stomach, infinitely relieved to find it still flat. "No," Quentin stood, "you will not manipulate my Aunt Kathryn." He glared at both his mother and his father. "I have had enough of both of you." He stalked up to his mother who watched him in shock. "You abandoned me to him So if you blame my behavior on him it was because you were too self-involved to be bothered. If I shamed the Continuum, it’s because you shamed them first by not teaching me any better." He turned away from her and focused on his father. "And honestly, I feel more than a little betrayed by you. You were just willing to let mother marry me off. Even with what you’ve gone through " He shook his head angrily. "Aunt Kathryn, if you will excuse me, I’m sorry my parents disturbed your dinner, but the only way you’ll be rid of them is if I go." A bright flash and Quentin disappeared from sight.
Both the elder Q looked at the human couple, as if expecting them to say something more. Kathryn looked at them with unhidden disdain, then stood and moved to the bedroom. Chakotay sighed and stood to follow her. "Your son is growing up to be a fine man." What was left unspoken was clear. That it was no thanks to either of them.
The night was cool as Icheb and T’Kara made their search, uncertain how they would go about finding an omnipotent being, but knowing if they made themselves available then there was a chance that Q would appear. Whether they found Q or not, neither of the Cadets were about to stop searching until they had covered the entire grounds as the Captain had requested.
"Looking for someone?" Q’s voice came from behind them as he approached them.
The Cadets stopped and looked towards the young Q. "The Captain asked us to find you."
Q nodded. "Which is the only reason I came out of hiding. My mother and father are off scouring the universe looking for me, but it’s only a matter of time before they come looking here again."
"Indeed." T’Kara looked at the young Q. "Then it would be to your advantage to help Captain Janeway formulate a plan to help you avoid the marriage they have planned."
Q sighed and moved to a bench beside some rosebushes. "My mother will take her anger out on Aunt Kathy if I pull her into this again."
"I thought the Continuum had dictated that Q were not to interfere with the course of human development any further." Icheb looked at his friend.
"They’re not, but when has that ever stopped them before?" Q grinned. "And my Aunt Kathy isn’t the most popular human to the Continuum."
"Despite this, I doubt your ‘Aunt Kathryn’ will be willing to allow you to sacrifice your freedom just to prevent trouble for her." T’Kara offered, "I believe you will be better served by working with her, than by hiding from your parents."
Icheb nodded, "T’Kara is correct. Captain Janeway is already ‘in this’ as you say."
A slight smile worked its way across Q’s face, "Then call me Quentin and let’s head back to Aunt Kathy’s apartment before she does something drastic."
"Naomi," Quentin called out as he walked into the small cafe with Kathryn and Chakotay. "How’s it going, beautiful?"
Chakotay put his hand on the young Q’s shoulder. "You know, if you expect Sam and Naomi to help you, I wouldn’t upset her."
"Captain," Sam looked at the approaching trio cautiously.
"Thank you for coming." Janeway gestured for Chakotay and Quentin to sit down across from the mother and daughter. "I need to ask Naomi to help us, but it will be up to you and her if she does or not."
Sam nodded and looked at Naomi. "All right, Captain, but I’m not certain what we can do to help."
"We’ll explain it, but first " Kathryn focused on Quentin. The young Q nodded then held out his hand to Naomi. "I’m sorry for my previous behavior, Naomi."
Naomi looked up at Janeway, pursing her lips, a bit annoyed that the Captain had interfered, but then she focused on Quentin once more, taking his hand. "Accepted." She turned her attention to Janeway again, waiting for the explanation.
"Quentin here is having some problems with his parents, Naomi." Kathryn smiled as Naomi looked at the Q again, somewhat surprised at the human name. "His mother wants him to mate with another Q and we need to find a way to discourage her from forcing the issue. They already know how Quentin was acting towards you "
Naomi scrunched her nose as if smelling something particularly unpleasant. "You want me to help discourage her, don’t you?"
"We could find someone else, but I think they’d be more inclined to believe the situation if it was you," Janeway met Naomi’s gaze, "but I can’t force you. It’s up to you and your mother."
Naomi looked at Quentin. "You know no one would blame me if I didn’t help you, your apology not withstanding, after the way you treated me."
Quentin sat silent, unused to being spoken to as Naomi had, then he nodded. It seemed that if he was going to escape the fate his mother had planned for him then he would have to accept that his actions were not appropriate beyond the simple apology that his Aunt Kathryn had insisted he give. "Naomi, I still don’t get a lot of what you mortals hold important, but I like you. I’m sorry that my actions made you uncomfortable."
The young Ktarian watched the Q for a few moments, then looked at the Captain. "It’s not as though he had a very good role model for how to treat a lady, is it?" Naomi focused on Quentin again, "I’ll help you, Quentin. I can’t sit by, knowing you were forced into something, when I can help."
Quentin reached out and squeezed Naomi’s hand. "Thank you, Naomi."
Naomi sat nervously on the Captain’s couch, watching as Janeway looked out the window towards the bay, sipping on her cup of coffee. "He’ll be back soon?"
"As soon as he collects his parents I would expect." The Captain focused on the young girl then settled down beside her. "Don’t worry, Naomi. If you do what we discussed, everything should go just fine."
The half Ktarian girl nodded then looked up suddenly as three bright flashes appeared before her. Kathryn sat stunned as Naomi leaped into action, springing up from her seat to wrap her arms around Quentin’s neck. "You’re back "
"Explain this," the female Q snarled as she looked from Janeway to Q and Naomi.
Quentin wrapped his arm around Naomi’s waist, "This is why I am willing to become mortal, Mother. Naomi, this is my mother, Q. Mother this is my girlfriend, Naomi."
"This is preposterous." Q looked at her mate.
Q sighed and looked towards his son, a mischievous gleam in his eye. "Well, it seems as though you’re my son in more ways than one." Q stepped forward and tipped her chin up to look into her eyes, winking at the girl.
"You know that this isn’t real, Q." Q glared at Janeway.
Kathryn stepped forward. "No, but it could be in time. However, you are forcing your son’s hand and since he would rather have a chance to explore what might come from his friendship with Naomi than to be forced into a relationship "
A sudden bright flash enveloped them all and deposited them before three Q in the ceremonial robes from the dark time in Earth’s history that Q had once judged humanity in. They regarded Quentin. "You wish to have your powers stripped from you."
"What I wish," the young Q stepped forward, "is the freedom to explore what paths I wish to take in my life, whether that means becoming mortal to be with a special female." He smiled at Naomi and winked. "Or if I find after a time that my mother’s choice of mate is suitable to me. Or even if I just choose to explore the universe on my own." He sighed. "I know that I have abused my position as a Q in the past, but I believe that I have grown beyond what I was then. I can understand your reluctance to accept my wishes, but if you cannot, then I would rather be a human. Then at least my destiny, as limited as it might be, is my own."
Janeway nodded approvingly at Quentin then looked towards Q who had an immensely pleased look on his face. Only Q watched the proceedings with a scowl on her face. The room fell silent, the tension palpable. Finally, the judges looked up at the group before them. "We have decided. Q, we judge that you have learned responsibility for your own actions. You are free to govern yourself within the bounds of Continuum law. For the current time you will be monitored, but not interfered with unless you break one of our laws."
Quentin smiled at the mortal women and with a snap of his fingers, Naomi and Kathryn found themselves alone in the Captain’s quarters.
Icheb scrolled down the padd, studying his lecture notes from the Interspecies Relations lecture that he had just attended. "Looks like a real thrill ride of literature, there, Itchy "
"Q " Icheb started.
The young Q shook his head. "Quentin, please It sort of grew on me."
"Are you making good use of your freedom?" Icheb looked at his friend.
Quentin shrugged. "I’m not certain Aunt Kathryn would approve. I’m still not allowed to interfere Not even for the better, but I also try not to cause any trouble." Icheb nodded in understanding. "I have to admit " The young Q started with a thoughtful look on his face, then the thoughtful look was masked by a mischievous grin, "I’m glad I don’t have to live with Aunt Kathryn. That would have been a drag She’d have wanted to know where I was, if I was eating right, how I was doing in my classes. She and Chakotay would have dragged me out to Indiana Good little mortal family life." Quentin pulled a face, which Icheb watched impassively. "Well, I’m outta here. Don’t go too wild with those padds, there, my friend. Say hello to my Aunt Kathryn when you see her and give my cutie Naomi a hug for me."
Icheb watched as the flash cleared and his friend was off roaming the cosmos once more.
Quentin lay back on the forward sensor array of Voyager-A, admiring the stars and the moon and considering how different his life could have been.
"I miss it too," a soft female voice echoed in his ears. He sat up quickly and looked towards the voice. A blonde girl, obviously Q, but pretty in human form. "Being with a human family I miss it too."
Quentin shrugged. "I can go visit my Aunt Kathryn whenever I want, I suppose."
"It’s not quite the same though, is it?" The girl looked at him with a gentle smile.
"Not quite." Quentin looked at her closer. "You’re Amanda, aren’t you "
The girl nodded. "I understand why you did what you did, you know. I don’t take it personally Actually I admire it. Standing up to them, daring them to take your powers away." She smiled. "When I joined the Continuum, if I didn’t learn to control my powers, they would have snapped me out of existence. My parents did the same thing as you did though. Challenging the Continuum. They exiled them and "
Quentin put his hand on her back comfortingly. He shook his head slightly, something else he’d picked up from his Aunt Kathryn obviously. "I know this planet with these white beaches that go on and on "
Amanda smiled at him brightly. "All right, as long as you agree to bring me back and introduce me to your godmother."
Quentin shook his head. "Ok, but not for a while. I don’t want to put any ideas into my mother’s head again."