Note of What Has Gone Before: Q's child had entered adolescence, creating havoc among the Continuum. At his wit's end, Q deposited the boy with Captain Janeway, hoping that life among humans would teach him responsibility. After much effort, Q Jr. did indeed show signs of promise and is taken back into the Continuum. In gratitude, Q gaves Janeway information on a shortcut home.
It had taken me a number of years, but I finally learned not to utter phrases like 'now what' or 'how could it get any worse.' I had learned not to think phrases like that even in my most subconscious of thoughts. My crew had learned this pivotal survival skill as well. Thus, Q's return was not a big surprise. His son was an annoyance, but not a shock. I would have been more surprised if the Q couple had succeeded in actually raising a well adjusted adult being.
We all knew the drill when Q was on board. The crew was to perform their duties heedless of any shenanigans that may happen around them. The Circle went dormant though I did keep the enhanced riding crop ready in case corporal punishment was in order -- on the parent, not the child.
As a matter of research, I looked into a similar situation encountered by Kirk's Enterprise and an omnipotent teenager. This became more pressing with the injuries to Neelix and other crewmen. In the end, I discovered that the boy's parents were the ones who saved the day and restored the crew. That made me wonder why Kirk got credit for it. The big blowhard. At any rate, it meant my crew had to improvise. But then, we were all used to that.
The one benefit from dealing with a full-powered teenaged Q was it cured Seven of any admiration of the species. She was, in fact, profoundly perplexed by how such powerful beings could behave more like petulant children than Naomi Wildman. That suited me. I didn't have to deal with her hero worship while I took a hard line with the darling brat.
I held my ground against all that power and tried to reach the bored, angry little boy I knew was in the younger Q. His father had been impressed with the resolve shown by Picard and I in his wake. Perhaps some of that had rubbed off on his son. Perhaps not. Whatever the case, I was determined to drum some sort of decorum into the boy even if I risked my human existence to do it. Children, like subs, crave structure as much as praise. And they respect consistency.
Thus, when the son was stripped of his powers, his first surprise was that none of us changed in any way toward him. Well, almost. Some of the crew stopped flinching when he passed. And Seven had to fight from openly sneering at him.
Structure and consistency started to pay off. I could tell the boy was trying. The friendship he was forging with Icheb was particularly heartening. I found the former Borg to be a very kind and earnest young man. He would be a great influence on Q Junior. We were settling into a rhythm that included an adolescent former omnipotent being who was best buddies with a former Borg. I was about to figure out how to write that up in the official logs when a completely unexpected problem presented itself.
It was the scourge of adolescent hormones that started the downward spiral. Though those biochemical drives are the most powerful force in all the Quadrants, it just was not a problem I had anticipated from young Q. In defense of myself and the crew, teenage hormones was not something we had any experience with on Voyager. Naomi Wildman was too young to have the craze and Icheb was so focused on his schooling and duties that I just didn't think he had them. Perhaps his people matured more slowly than humans. He still looked at Seven as a sister. And having witnessed Q mating, I was inclined to believe that they were devoid of biological urges. Thus, we were completely unprepared.
I think Q did it on purpose just to be amusing. It was one more black mark on his ledger. But then, his guise was that of an older human male. Perhaps he just didn't realize what a fully human teenaged boy would be like on a ship full of attractive females in their prime. I preferred to blame the father though. He was the all knowing being. He should have known.
After the third complaint from a groped female, I called a meeting with the Commander. He gaped at me as if to say 'what do you want me to do about it?'
"You were a teenage boy once," I said. "You must remember how they think. You should have a talk with him."
Chakotay sighed heavily. Actually, it was more like a groan. "Maybe this would be better with guys who had been adolescents more recently."
"You mean like Harry or Tom?"
"I know. Why don't the three of you give our young Q and Icheb a general talk about proper deportment around females," I said. "That way, it doesn't look like we're singling him out."
"Okay... That's what we'll do," Chakotay said in resignation. "Hey, if we manage to work this out, I think we should consider having our own. We'll have handled the worst nature has to offer."
"Chakotay," I said with infinite patience. "If we have our own, he or she will turn into one of those hellions and we won't have the option of giving it back."
The Commander frowned. "I think you and I would have the most beautiful children."
I sighed. I had to focus on the fact that any offspring would not
remain sweet little babies with his large dark eyes and thick black hair.
"I'll think about it. Good luck with Q."
The next day, I knew things had not gone well before I even talked to any of them. There were urgent messages waiting for me upon my return from a long range conference call with a neighboring system. It had been a tedious negotiation, but Voyager would be in that area for quite a while. We needed the ally. I had a headache when I reached my Ready Room.
I read the reports with trepidation. Things had not gone well at
all. In fact, they had grown considerably more complicated. Chakotay's
account was the most coherent and had the least amount of profanity. Thus,
I'll enter it here.
Chakotay's Personal Log:
During my time on Voyager, I have faced all manner of enemies. I've endured all kinds of hardships and had my share of public humiliations. I've even explored aspects of my personality and sexuality that most men would never consider examining. And yet, none of that experience prepared me for the pairs of young eyes staring at me expectantly.
It had been unnerving. Harry and Tom seemed more jarred than I was. Harry blushed for the entire time and Tom stammered a lot through the intro.
"Gentleman," I said taking the floor from them. "And you are that. Young men that are part of Voyager's crew. Part of life on this ship are the interpersonal relationships we develop. Since you are both new to Starfleet, we thought we could advise you on the best way to conduct yourselves in these relationships."
"There are protocols for social interaction?" Icheb asked. He was undoubtedly concerned that he had missed something in his training.
"No, not as such," I said. "In general, officers don't interfere with any kind of relationship between crewmen so long as it doesn't violate policy or impair anyone's performance."
"Like the special relaxation of policy Starfleet Medical transmitted," Icheb said. He had been there, it seems, when the report came in.
"I'll bet that was a relief to you Commander," Q snorted.
I mentally counted backwards from ten while Tom and Harry gaped at me.
"While that may be true," I said calmly. "It is inappropriate to ask such a personal question. When I speak of inter personal relationships, I mean between everyone on board -- not just those that interest you for something deeper. Harry? Tom? Want to add something?"
They clearly did not. But Tom cleared his throat.
"The easiest way to get along is to treat everyone like a professional," Tom said. "You get to know each other pretty fast on this ship. When you know your ship mates, it gets easy to form deeper relationships."
"Yeah, Tom was known for some cheesy moves and lines," Harry chuckled nervously. "But no one ever got offended. And for some reason, he's still popular on board."
Tom shot him a look. "Cheesy! Who's cheesy?"
Icheb was, as he always did, absorbing all that we said studiously.
"What you are saying is very logical considering that one has to work closely on this ship. I have observed great tensions between individuals, but never disrespect," he said.
I was so grateful to have Icheb there.
""Yes," I said. "It's been hard won, but worth it. This ship could not have survived as it has without basic respect for one another."
In retrospect, I believe that was the point at which we lost control of the encounter. The compliment to Icheb was innocent enough, but it meant focus of the senior staff there was not on the omnipotent being but on the mortal boy. More succinctly, young Q wanted to be the center of attention once more.
"I'm not sure I follow the logic," he said mildly.
"What doesn't make sense?" I asked.
"I don't understand how all this mutual respect leads to a group of crewmen dedicated to copulating with one another and being beaten by the Captain," he said. His face was a picture of innocence.
"To what are you referring?" Icheb asked.
"You knew about the Starfleet Medical report. I assumed you were fully informed," Q said.
"Q! This is not for you to discuss with anyone," I snapped.
"What? That you, Harry, Tom, Seven and B'Elanna are all copulating with the Captain and they let her beat them. Or that Harry and Tom like copulating with each other?" he asked. "No, I suppose I shouldn't. That would be disrespectful."
"Q!" I all but shouted.
"Commander?" Icheb asked in a small shocked voice.
I never realized what huge eyes Icheb had until that moment when they were staring at me with such confusion.
"Icheb... go... right now," I said. "Find Seven and have her explain what you've been told."
He nodded blankly then all but ran from the room.
"Q, return to your duties. The Captain will want to talk to you later," I managed to say.
"You mean the Mistress," he sneered.
"You'd better hope not," I replied. "Dismissed."
The young Q sulked out.
I sighed heavily. "You guys get to your posts. Send a report to Kathryn."
"Commander..." Harry said. "What are we..."
I replied. "Now, go on. I have to warn Seven about Icheb."
Seven had not been pleased at the sudden notice, but she appreciated being allowed to explain things to Icheb herself. I don't envy her.
It was a dreadful miscalculation. And it was mine. I decided to wait a couple of days before speaking to the boy. I needed the time to cool off. I needed to make sure that Icheb and Seven were okay. And I wanted to diminish the importance of Q's knowledge of the Circle. Chakotay and the rest of my senior staff were to treat the boy as they had and leave the rest to me.
Seven handled Icheb with Borg efficiency. She had him study the history of the Lifestyle and how it's been viewed in various societies. Then, with my permission, he learned of my history and of the Club. She explained the reasons for the age restrictions and why he had not been told until it became necessary. He understood completely and accept the explanation. He expressed no interest in learning any more though he was fascinated with Barrows. The fixation was partly on her as a technical achievement rather than a sexual one. It surprised him that aspects of her dominant personality were strong enough to cause her program to achieve sentience and amazing power. She was also a 'living witness' to Kirk's Enterprise. He all but insisted on speaking with her.
I allowed it, because he so rarely made such heartfelt requests. But I strongly cautioned Barrows on sticking to the subject matter, staying in uniform and not mentioning my own acquaintance with the exalted James Kirk. I also advised her to take the Icheb calendar down.
Icheb's sweetness prevented Barrows from telling him what she really
thought about Kirk. She chose to concentrate on the dynamic of the Enterprise
crew and how they solved the crises that came up during Tonia Barrows'
tenure there. She told me that Icheb likened Kirk's crew to my own. He felt
we had the same talent for innovative problem solving. I was touched. He
also told Barrows that he would like to visit her from time to time. It seemed
he had been an admirer of her even as the EEH. Seems she had a nice new
friend. I asked that she leave the calendar down.
I still had a problem on my hands. It was two days after the debacle with Chakotay. I invited young Q to my quarters when my shift was through. I put on casual clothes and prepared some of Chakotay's favorite teas. The boy was subdued when he entered the room. I had him sit across from me on the sofa. I really didn't know what I was going to say to him until he was seated across from me. I had been expected the cool amusement of his father. I had been expecting arrogance or defiance. But his eyes were guarded. His posture was very tense. He seemed to be bracing himself for some sort of onslaught. He suddenly appeared very young and vulnerable to me. I saw something else in his eyes as well.
"Why are you so angry at me?" I asked.
"Excuse me?" he asked. He was surprised by my tact. "I'm not angry with you."
"You must be," I replied. "You know and understand the history of my lifestyle. You know how very private those sorts of relationships are. You understood that what you said would embarrass and worry people I hold very close to me. You knew that would hurt me. So, I ask again. Why are you so angry with me?"
"I'm not... I'm not angry with you," he repeated with more vehemence. "I don't know why I said it. I got pains in my stomach when I looked at Icheb leave. I don't know why."
I pushed the tea cup towards him. "I believe that is guilt. You felt bad about hurting Icheb."
"Perhaps you aren't angry at me. Perhaps you wanted to hurt someone that is close to your father," I said. "Or someone that you feel is close to your father. I certainly don't look at it that way."
"He does," Q blurted. "He talks about you or Jean-Luc all the time. I think it's why mother left. He blames me, but he just would go on and on like we weren't even there."
"A Q wouldn't stand for a human being the center of attention," I said.
"He didn't try to talk to me ever... he just wanted to leave me here to get close to you," he said. "He still wants you. He still wants Jean-Luc, but he's embarrassed too go near him after..."
"Oh, dear," I said. I hadn't realized that he would know about that as well. "Drink your tea, dear."
He did. He was looking at me as if he expected me to explain the universe to him. His gaze was so hopeful and expectant, it was painful to look at.
"In many ways, your father is a lot like you where relationships are concerned. It's been so long since your race had to relate the way humans do, they've forgotten how. Everything is as new to him as it is to you," I said. "Like our young, you and he want your desires met immediately and with absolute ease. That is what you are used to having. But all relationships between mortal beings are work."
Q looked miserable over his tea. "We'll never get it. It's too hard."
"Yes, you will. You are. Your father is learning. He has learned," I said. My own words surprised me. "He's fighting to save you from the Continuum. He's fighting you to save you. The Q of years ago would have shrugged your demise off as an interesting experiment. He cares about you. In his own way, by trusting me and my crew with you, he's telling me that he respects us on some level."
He brightened for mere seconds before looking miserable all over again.
"Now, what's wrong?"
"Everybody hates me now!" He said. "How can I face any of them after what I said?"
I sighed. The tea cup was removed and I gathered the boy into my arms and held him petting his hair. His arms went around me and he started to cry. He had probably never been held before.
"You've read my logs and my Circle's. You must have seen that we've all done things to hurt each other and embarrass each other," I said rocking him. "You must have also seen that we forgive each other."
"Just like that?"
"Well, you'll have to apologize," I said. "If you can't do it in person, write them a message. I know a disapproving Chakotay can be a formidable thing."
"Yeah," Q sighed. He pulled back with a blush. "Well, that was embarrassing. Don't tell Itchy about that."
I smiled at that. He liked him enough to give him an awful nickname. There was hope. "I'll keep it between us. You go get some rest. Then, write those notes."
"Yes, Aunt Kathy," he sighed.
I tilted his chin up. "Try to be careful of people, Q. Think of how you would feel as a recipient when you do or say something. And give yourself time. You're navigating through a lot of highly charged emotional things. Don't expect to master that immediately."
I hugged him once more before he left.
I did not expect smooth sailing from then on, nor did I get it. Young Q had apologized to all for that dreadful meeting. He even apologized to Seven. Things settled into a bit more relaxed routine until the idiot father sent his son on a tear that almost killed Icheb. And I swear that I'd never thought the words 'what's next.' Even after all that, I was willing to keep the boy on board. Maybe Chakotay was right. I might be able to handle some of my own.
I was actually sorry to see young Q leave. I knew Icheb would miss him. I had to admit that I would as well. I loved all the flowers. He was becoming a gentleman after all. It must be a trait of young beings to make adults grow attached to them for survival. It certainly works.
Q the father was another matter. After everything he was responsible for setting in motion, he had the gall after causing us ulcers and nervous breakdowns to stand there with a padd cutting a few years off our journey.
"After all, I'm teaching the boy responsibility," he said. Q was ever so proud of himself.
I smiled back at him. "Then you should teach him the importance of following through with his word."
"I teach him that by example every day."
"You have gone back on your word."
"You ran out on a session with me, Q," I said. "That is a grave betrayal."
He blanched at that. I smiled even wider.
"And from what your son tells me, you still want the experience," I murmured.
"I... I don't have time."
"A mere instant in your time, Q," I said. "No excuses. I've more than earned the right."
"You'll never get anywhere with me if you don't."
Instantly we were in the Holodeck club. I was in my Outfit holding the crop. I forgave the presumption.
"Summon Seven as well," I said. "She's earned it."
Seven appeared instantly. Her question faded as she took in the scene. Q was naked on his knees before me. I was circling him intently. She sank to her knees and observed as I traced the crop along his muscles then flicked it at his penis which was quite erect.
"Are you giving yourself genuine reactions?"
"Yes," he said in a strangled voice.
"Bend over. I want that face on the floor."
The crop hummed it's power. I planted ten blows on the fleshy part of his ass. I built the intensity with each blow but did not intend damage. I was going for heat. Q tried not to cry out, but by the eight he was moaning and gasping. By the tenth he wailed. I handed Seven the crop then knelt straddling Q's legs . I pulled him up by his shoulder with one hand while I felt his ass with the other. I felt the heat though my gloves. He moaned at my touch.
"Touch yourself, Q. Now!"
He made a noise akin to a whimper, but he complied. He came with one stroke nearly falling on top of me. I allowed the contact.
"Never tell me again that you don't want that," I whispered in his ear. "You always will."
I righted him again then stood.
"Now, go to your son. And be careful of one another," I said quietly.
"Thank you," he said startling me and Seven. "For... everything. Give my regards to Jean-Luc."
He was gone. I looked over to find a wide-eyes and horny Seven staring at me. I should have been wondering what my bit of bravado would cost me in the future. But she had a look that called for the double dildo strap on. It's a good thing to never wonder 'now what.' It meant I was always prepared for anything.
"Let's have those clothes off, dear," I purred as I summoned up some equipment. "I want that ass in the air and those thighs spread wide."
57: Loose Ends