After dodging Will Riker's idea of good clean fun on April Fool's Day all day long, Picard was not really in the mood to do anything but take a shower and sit down with a cup of tea and a nice relaxing book in his quarters.

So of course Q showed up.

"Mon capitaine! How are you this delightful evening?"

"I was considerably better a moment ago, before I saw you," Picard grated out. "What are you doing on my ship?"

"What do you think I'm doing? Hmm. Oh, I know- here." He snapped his fingers, and his hand filled with a giant bouquet of long-stemmed roses, which he handed to Picard. "Take this as a token of my adoration, mon cher." His voice had become a parody of a male romantic lead, which was a fairly good clue to Picard that there was no sincerity in the comment. Picard took the roses to get them out of his face and promptly dropped them on his desk.

"What do you mean by this nonsense, Q?"

"But isn't it Valentine's Day?" Q asked, smirking. "The day for all you humans to express your undying love and desire to copulate messily with one another? Dear me, do I have the date wrong?" He smacked himself in the forehead. "Oh, of course! Your little years go by so quickly, Picard, it totally slipped my mind."

"Somehow I think you know exactly what day it is, Q," Picard growled.

"Oh yes, of course I do," Q said, not so much smirking anymore as grinning. "And a delightful holiday it is. Really, you should have seen the look on your face when I gave you those roses."

"As a practical joke, giving me roses doesn't seem up to your usual standards. Where are the tests? The undesired excursions into other timelines? The random transformations of members of my crew? You've spent so much time playing practical jokes when it's not April Fool's Day that I can't see any need for you to celebrate the holiday. Besides, what significance can a human holiday possibly have to a Q?"

"You'd be surprised. Many of us find any number of mortal holidays significant." Q leaned in conspiratorially. "I have a friend who throws the most amazing bashes on the Klingon Day of Honor."

"I wouldn't have thought you'd have an interest in the Klingon Day of Honor."

"Oh, I don't. But my friend is somehow under the misapprehension that Klingons are actually interesting, and well, in the Continuum we take any excuse for a party. Which is why I'm here. I want to do something for you for April Fool's."

"I've had quite enough practical jokes from Commander Riker today, thank you. I hardly need any from you."

"Practical jokes. Ha!" Q paced, throwing his arms in the air. "You have no idea what this holiday is really about, do you? Even with your fascination with the past ... no, it's all about puerile jokes. And yet it has so much potential. Did I mention how much I like this holiday?"

"Several times. And I did ask why. How could an immortal, omnipotent being place any emphasis on Earth's solar calendar? You said it yourself- our years must go by in an eyeblink to you. Why do you care?"

"Because it's the only holiday you have to celebrate me."


"Well, not me personally. My archetype. The god I'd be, if I were your god. The trickster. See, we godlike entities very often find that mortals, in the course of personifying their own archetypes, will find some important aspect of our own personalities, and celebrate it. There are Q who are fond of Christmas and other winter party holidays. There are Q who have an inordinate love for Valentine's Day. I actually know someone who thinks your Bastille Day was somehow a good idea. April Fool's is the only holiday humanity currently celebrates which is dedicated to the archetype of the trickster, of reversing the natural order, of misrule and chaos and fun."

"If you don't count Halloween."

"Oh, well, Halloween has its place, I suppose, but there's two major aspects to it that bore me to tears. Firstly, it's all about you humans coming to terms with your mortality, and lacking your mortality I just can't be bothered with that. Secondly it's overly emphatic about acquiring material goods."

"I think you mean Christmas."

"No, I mean candy. I suppose acquiring tooth-rotting quantities of refined sugar must be entertaining for people that eat, but since I don't, I find it tedious beyond belief. I do like the costumes, though. But no, Halloween doesn't really do it for me. April Fool's, now there's a holiday. You know, in the old days they used to take some poor beggar and crown him king for the day. Harlots became noblewomen, good merchant girls dressed as harlots. The world turned upside down. Now that's entertainment."

"That's not the sort of thing we can afford to indulge in on a starship," Picard said. "If I took some ensign and made him Captain for the day, what would happen if we were attacked by Romulans, or encountered a spatial anomaly, or any number of other things? We need to maintain a constant state of readiness."

"What if I personally guaranteed to you that nothing bad would happen requiring your crew's intervention in anything?"

"Then I'd still be suspicious. Why would you want to do such a thing?"

"Well, you wouldn't party with me when I got my powers back. I just want to spend my favorite human holiday with my favorite humans. And favorite android and favorite annoying half-Betazoid and if favorite Klingon wasn't an oxymoron... but you get the idea."

Picard sighed. "If I say no, you're just going to do it anyway, aren't you?"

Q beamed. "How well we've come to understand each other."

"What did you have in mind?"

"Oh, the things we could do, Picard. We could go back to 15th century England and participate in an April Fool's production there. We could go have adventures on an imaginary planet. We could decorate the Enterprise in green and chartreuse and declare ourselves the United Federation of Hairdressers' Starship. We could send missives to Starfleet Command explaining that the Cardassians had all turned into small pink furry wombats. In fact we could turn the Cardassians into small pink furry wombats, at least for the day. Oh, the things we could do!"

"I think," Picard said gently, "that perhaps we'd better stick with a ship-wide party. And costumes. And perhaps a Captain for the day."

"Mmm ... okay," Q said. "But I get to pick the Captain. There's this little girl, you've met her, she was stuck in a turbolift with you once, name's Marrissa Flores. I absolutely think she should get to be captain for the day."

"Why her?"

Q snickered. "Believe me, Jean-Luc, there are things you just don't want to know about the multiverse."

Picard decided to ignore that. "Actually, that sounds like a fine idea. While I'm not the biggest fan of children, if we are going to have a party based around April Fool's the idea of including the children, and letting them play the parts of important bridge crew, seems splendid to me. However, I will not pretend to be a child. I've already done that, and frankly, once was far too often."

"So it's settled? We're having a party?" Q's eyes had gone comically wide, as if pretending to be a small child waiting for Christmas. "I'll get the decorations!"

"Just don't go overboard," Picard said tiredly.

As it happened, once the staff could be convinced that the best way to make Q go away was to humor his request for a party, the party itself went surprisingly well. A host of pre-teens was elected Senior Staff for the day, Beverly and Data staged an impromptu presentation of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with Beverly reading all the women's roles and Data all the men, there were costumes and silliness and a ceremonial dunking of Riker in a giant fishtank that had appeared embedded in the floor of Ten-Forward like an inground swimming pool, and all in all, Picard had to admit it was actually not a bad idea, as Q ideas went.

Of course, there was the card that had manifested itself next to the roses, which said, "The truth is, I meant it about the token of adoration, Jean-Luc," but Picard was able to convince himself it was just another April Fool's joke.

For updates and notes about my work, visit my Livejournal at alara-r dot livejournal dot com. (Fanfiction dot net strips links, so I have to write it out like that.)

Support my writing and see sneak previews, incompletes, outlines and working notes! Maybe even vote on what I write next, or get me to write you a fic. See my account at www dot dot com slash alarajrogers.