A/N: Re-watching "Q2," I had an epiphany about what could have driven Kes to insanity in "Fury."
! ! ! THIS STORY DISREGARDS THE NOVELS ! ! !
I'm aware that Kes and Q Junior appear together in at least one book, but I haven't read it, and thus can't address it. This story is set in a different reality than that novel. (Novels aren't "canon" anyway.)
Episodes you'll need to be familiar with, to understand this story, include: "Fury," "Before and After," and "Q2."
I don't own "Star Trek: Voyager."
By the time Kes reached her home planet, her memory was so muddled that she wouldn't have been able to provide even the most basic outline of her life to anyone. Her friends had given her documents, pictures, things to remind her of her past, and help her make sense of her life. But without checking that data, she couldn't even remember most her friends' names, or the ship they had lived on. She only remembered her own name because she'd heard them saying it so many times.
One name stuck in her mind. "Neelix," she said quietly to herself, just to hear it. And then another word: "Ocampa." Her home. The place she was headed.
She sat at the controls of the shuttlecraft that her friend, the captain, had given her. She watched the stars stretch and spin, as she powered the shuttle with the energy that radiated off her body. She couldn't remember the captain's name. She'd had another very close friend on Voyager. A person who wasn't really a person, except in some sense he was, and Kes had struggled to get everyone to see it. He'd given her a special goodbye. There'd been a child there, too, with something odd about her forehead, who thanked Kes for something. And a blonde woman, who Kes was sure she'd never seen before, a woman who also had something odd about her face, and her entire demeanor. She'd said some words that now sounded like something from a dream. Kes struggled to recall just a fragment of it.
"…we both have great powers, that came at terrible prices. Just as you have been struggling for the last several years to find your place, I too…"
Kes couldn't remember the rest.
She picked up the picture her friends had given her. A picture of the crew, taken when Kes was young. She was standing between Neelix, and the Doctor. That was her friend's name, the Doctor. The Doctor had said something, before Kes left, something that explained much of her confusion.
"A major symptom of the Morilogium is an extreme loss of memory, coupled with confusion. Kes can't be blamed for her mental state."
But that wasn't the only time the Doctor had talked about the Morilogium. It wasn't the only time she'd been a confused old woman. She'd done it another time too. She'd been dying before. Was that possible? She squinted tightly, and tears streamed down her face, more than anything else from frustration.
Her confusion was alleviated when she sensed something overwhelmingly familiar. A presence she'd been surrounded by her entire childhood. It was the feeling of remembering something you hadn't thought about in years, but used to take for granted every day. Like returning to a familiar old smell.
Her shuttle seemed to come to a halt without her even having to direct it to do so. The desert planet sat before her. And she immediately set her past aside, and the hurricane of clashing memories with it, now focused on her purpose.
Gracefully the shuttle landed in the sand, and the door lifted opened seemingly by itself. Kes marched out into the desert, her long robes billowing behind her. This was the place she'd lived, where she'd been held prisoner. Where Neelix had rescued her. The Kazon who'd held her prisoner weren't here anymore. Or maybe they were, and she simply didn't recognize them. She didn't care. What concerned her were the Ocampans, at least three of them, slaving away around the settlement, cleaning the Kazon's shelter and preparing their food. The Ocampans froze and stared as Kes approached. Their clothes were brown and ragged, and their faces and arms were covered in welts and cuts. One was a man, the other an adolescent girl, nearing adulthood. The third was a boy, just barely old enough to walk.
When the Kazon began to emerge from the house, aiming their weapons and shouting at Kes, she barely heard them. They might as well have been insects. She turned her blue eyes to the power relays of their processors. This settlement was a mine of some sort. The technology was abundant in heat, an element Kes worked well with. It barely took any concentration to cause the machinery to spark and sputter, until a thin bolt of lightning shout out and incinerated three of the Kazon. The remaining Kazon stared at her, their hold on their weapons loosening. Kes remembered another trick, one she'd initially done by accident to a friend, one who'd used to mentor her. The two Kazon closest to her began screaming in agony, as their blood boiled and ooze from their eyes. The rest dropped their weapons and fled.
The Ocampans she'd come to free barely reacted. Their powers weren't comparable to Kes's, but they were still telepaths, and they knew from the start that she'd come to help them. The child fixed his black eyes on Kes's, and telepathically asked her, How did you do that?
I'll show you. She replied. I'll show all of you. But first, I want you to show me back to Ocampa. Take me back down the tunnels, to our home.
"The Underground cities are gone," the young woman said out loud. "The Kazon destroyed them."
The man added, "Over three years ago."
To Kes's friends on the starship, this would feel like recent news. But for an Ocampan, three years amounted to an entire generation. Her people had been destroyed, while she was out exploring. Her throat dry, she whispered, "How?"
"The supplies ran out," the girl said, her voice lifeless. "We tried to support ourselves with our gardens, but they couldn't provide enough food for everyone, nor the energy to keep producing the water. People were forced to venture to the surface to find resources, and got captured by the Kazon. Some of them talked, and the Kazon breached the tunnels."
Are all Ocampa slaves now?
No response, verbal or telepathic. But Kes could sense the answer, in more ways than one.
"Not anymore." Kes said fiercely.
Kes spent the next year trekking across the planet, annihilating the Kazon and freeing her people. The Kazon finally began to flee en mass, and the Ocampa retook their home world. They didn't return underground. Instead, they took back their surface. The Ocampa swarmed the Kazon's abandoned settlements and ships, rebuilding their own society. They used the Kazon's ships to venture off-world, and trade with Talaxians, Vidiians (now cured of the Phage), Baneans, and other races, bringing back plants, animals, and other resources. Kes taught the leaders the new abilities she'd learned, and trained them in exercising their powers. Having a purpose to focus her powers on had cleared Kes's confusion immensely, and her memory began returning to her. But much of it was still frustratingly foggy.
She sat with her frail arm on the frame of a window, gazing out at the city with tired, old eyes. Her sagging face resting in her hand, one shell-shaped ear cupped in her palm. Ocampans in colorful clothing milled freely about the sparse buildings and plants, working or playing in the sand. A group of young girls sat with their bare feet in the water of a manmade irrigation well that cut between the buildings. Just outside the window, a group of children practiced lifting toys from the ground, supervised by a young man who Kes herself had trained months earlier.
Her blue eyes narrowed under their sagging lids, focusing on those children. They reminded her of children she herself had had, once, on Voyager…but she'd never had children anywhere, had she?
She had to focus on her memories on Voyager, and her childhood, because what happened after she left the ship was almost impossible to account for. This was due, largely, to the fact that Kes had been an energy being for much of that time, exploring the universe with senses that transcended sight, sound, smell, and anything that could be neatly contained within the memory of a humanoid brain. But something had happened during that time, something that had inspired her rage, and added to the natural confusion of her Morilogium.
"I thought I'd find you here."
That voice. That presence. Kes knew it. It flew right back to her.
The ancient Ocampan slowly turned in her seat.
He looked exactly as she remembered him. Young and Ocampan, with brown curls framing a boyish face, dressed in the loose clothing of an Ocampan youth. But he wasn't an Ocampan, he wasn't even a humanoid. His appearance was an illusion. His name was on the tip of Kes's mind, but she couldn't remember it.
"You." Her voice was low and accusing.
"Close." He smiled jokingly. "Q. Remember?"
Her blue eyes widened angrily, and she whispered, "Q!"
A tidal wave of new memories flooded back to her. Memories that weren't Ocampan, experiences no humanoid could understand. She had to be faced with another energy being to be properly reminded of them. Suddenly, those missing years of Kes's later life fell back into place, and she understood.
"We were 'two of a kind,'" she reminisced. "I was the first Ocampan to reach energy form…"
"…And I was the first child born to the Q Continuum."
Kes's voice filled with mocking amusement. "You wanted to run away, and explore your abilities, just like I did. You offered to show me the Cosmos."
"It was quite a love affair, wasn't it?" Q smirked. "Imagine if we'd had a child!"
Kes's face hardened. "I had a child. A daughter. Her name was Linnis. You showed her to me."
"I just wanted to show you alternate universes, explore the multiverse. I was just trying to impress you Kes. I had no idea what we were actually going to find."
"You showed me what I lost when I left Voyager. What I gave up, when I warned my friends about the Year of Hell. To save B'Elanna and her love with Tom, I had to sacrifice Tom's love with me, and our daughter Linnis." Her eyes traveled to the floor. "I didn't think about it much at the time. I'd barely seen that future, after all. But when you showed me, it became so real."
"They are real," Q assured her. "In other realities. Linnis and Andrew and the rest of your descendants, they still exist. But in those realities, your people," he glanced out the window, and she followed his gaze. "They're slaves, or extinct."
A lose-lose situation, then.
"Why have you come back," Kes demanded softly, staring out the window.
"To make amends."
"I've reformed myself. On Voyager." His tone lightened. "It's a funny story, actually. My dad dropped me off there, hoping Aunt Kathy would straighten me out. For a while all I did was look at the drone naked and beg the pregnant Klingon for a dance," his smile vanished at Kes's hard stare. "But I've changed."
Kes felt a lump forming in her throat. "You begged me for a dance, once."
"One dance, Kes. That's all I ask!"
They had taken Kes's shuttle deep into a nebula. Then exited, walking right through the sealed walls of the shuttlecraft like ghosts, half in their humanoid forms and half as energy beings. Kes in her prime, her long gold curls billowing through the nebula's sapphire vapors. And they'd danced, half as a joke, mimicking the movements of "simplistic life forms," as Q called them. Kes taught him a Talaxian dance that she'd once performed with Neelix.
"You left me as soon as I was no longer young and beautiful."
"Well in my defense, your personality kind of went south too."
This she had no banter for. An aging Ocampan's mental state would stress a non-Ocampan partner endlessly, even if they were both highly evolved energy beings. And in Kes's case, her emotional instability was increased by the rage of discovering that with all the new abilities she'd unlocked, her life was still limited to nine years.
"But you're a Q!" Kes begged her lover, from the main deck of her shuttlecraft. "Can't you do something?"
She was beginning to age. Her once-gold hair had gone a mousey brown, with strands of gray beginning to appear. Lines had appeared around her eyes, and at the corners of her mouth. She'd forgone her snug biosuits for loose robes, to hide her sagging figure.
And Q, standing before her, smirked cruelly. "You think the Q just go around handing out immortality, curing food shortages, and magically solving everybody's problems? You know how much trouble I'd be in if I did?"
"When has that ever stopped you?"
"When they can actually make good on their threat! And believe me, this time they can. Look Kes, it's been fun, but I think this relationship's about over." He grinned again, raising his thumb and forefinger. "Don't worry Kes, you'll get over me."
And in a flash of silver, he was gone.
"So," Kes smiled at her jilter bitterly. "You've come to apologize, for abandoning me and driving me to insanity. An insanity that almost drove me to murder my friends."
He stared at her remorsefully, his hands behind his back, as if giving some kind of presentation. "As the first child of the Q, I was supposed to bring about peace, restore order. I should have been helping you. Instead, I just treated you like another amusement, a fling. I could go on for eternity listing all the ways I screwed up the universe, punching holes in space-time and starting wars with innocent species. I've burned over a lot of powerful individuals. You're only one of them. I've intruded on the wormhole of the Bajoran Prophets, polluting their Celestial Temple with my leftover energy. I've destroyed a planet in Fluidic space. I cheated on a member of 8472 with a Pah Wraith—"
"And Daddy's convinced you to apologize, and clean up your all messes."
She breathed deeply, and returned her gaze out the window.
Q took a few steps towards her. "Kes, anything I can do to make it up to you, anything at all…that is, anything that won't cause a rift in space-time or anything like that…"
"Then giving me Linnis and Andrew back is out of the question," she mused.
"You could visit them again," he offered. "I told you, they're out there."
"But they're not my daughter and grandson. They belong to some other Kes."
Thinking again, he offered, "I could extend your lifespan. I might get in trouble for it, but I'll take the risk."
"No." Kes closed her eyes, and breathed deeply. "I'm tired."
"But if you were younger—"
"Not physically, Q. Mentally. Emotionally. I'm tired in ways no other Ocampan's experienced. I don't want to go on. Not past my ten years."
"I thought it was nine."
"Nine's the average. I'm pushing for ten."
"There must be something else I can do," Q begged. "Okay, you don't want more life, you don't want to see Linnis…about about having new children? You're past your Elogium, but maybe I could help you pass part of yourself on, your genetics. The Q have helped out with a few immaculate conceptions."
She shook her head. "I've already got a legacy…"
Still staring out the window, watching the children play, the older Ocampans socialize, she remembered her younger years. Running with her the other children in the underground city. Tending the garden with her parents. Socializing with her friends on Voyager.
"One dance." She lifted her head from her hand, turned back to her old flame. "That's all I ask, Q. Just one dance."
Q looked mildly startled. He laughed nervously. "That's it?"
"That's it." Glancing back at the window, she said, "The Ocampa were never big on dancing. It's more of a Talaxian thing. Talaxians and Humans. I can't remember the last time, other than our spin through that nebula."
And before she'd even finished the last sentence, the nebula was back, the aquamarine vapors drifting around her frail old face. The stars glistened from every gap in the blue clouds, a "night sky" view that the clearest night on any planet wouldn't offer, and even a person looking from the window of a starship or through the helmet of a biosuit couldn't fully appreciate.
"One dance," Q held out his hand. "I can do that."
Kes managed a smile, and placed her bony hand in his.
A/N: Crack-fic? I can live with that. The other character I ship Kes with is Lon Suder.
Apologize for not updating any of my chapter stories. I've officially, deliberately, put them on hold. I'm going through another "gonna improve my life!" phase, so the fan-fiction addiction needs to be toned down. These one-shots don't suck creative energy or time out of me like a chapter from a "real" story does (these, I can basically write on the spot, with almost no planning). So I'm just gonna write these until I run out of steam.