Therapy Session
by Maggie C.

Disclaimer: Earth 2 and the characters do not belong to me.

--------

In a single instant, a flood of light permeated his world. Nathan Bridger blinked to clear his eyes and discovered he was no longer in the corridors of SeaQuest. He now found himself in a featureless room. "What the . . ." he murmured. He turned around in a circle, looking for the entrance, but there were no windows and no doors. There were no openings at all, just four gray walls. Another flash of light appeared at the other side of the room. A man with the most outrageous hairstyle in the universe was standing there, wearing tights, of all things, and looking bewildered and slightly annoyed.

His gaze focused on Bridger and he took a few steps menacingly in his direction. "Why have you brought me here?"

"I haven't brought you anywhere," Bridger retorted. "I was taken, the same as you. Who are you, anyway?" he demanded. Getting a closer look at the man, Nathan decided he must be a circus reject. There just couldn't be any other explanation.

"I am Jareth, the Goblin King," he responded, looking at Bridger through icy-blue eyes.

Bridger considered another possibility. Escapee from a mental institution.

"Who are you?" Jareth demanded, still looking at Nathan with an angry gaze. He glanced at his hands and added, "And how have you neutralized my magic?"

Bridger returned the hostile glare. "I am Captain Nathan Bridger of the SeaQuest and I didn't neutralize anything." Before he could say anything else, there was another flash of light. This time it was a woman, in a strange looking uniform. She was disoriented for only a second, and then she started yelling.

"Q!" She said, looking around the room at the walls, glancing at her companions for only a second. "Q, show yourself. Send us back, you worthless excuse for omnipotence!" Her shouts were met only with silence.

Nathan wondered what he had done to deserve getting stuck with two loonies, one who looked like a clown and believed he was the goblin king, and another who yelled at thin air. Before he could dwell on his bad luck for too long, there was another flash of light and another woman appeared, again with red hair, wearing a blue uniform that looked similar to the other woman's. Just like the first woman, she looked around at the walls and Bridger heard her mutter the letter Q under her breath. Then the two noticed each other.

"Captain?" the woman in blue asked in confusion. "Captain Kathryn Janeway?" she said, obviously recognizing her.

The woman nodded in response. "Dr. Crusher, is that you?"

//Okay, maybe they aren't loony,// Bridger thought. He glanced at Jareth, //but him, he's still nuts. // The two women were having a convoluted conversation about ships, a voyager, starfleet, and something about quadrants, when Bridger interrupted them.

"Excuse me?" he said, causing both of them to stop mid-sentence and look at him. "The two of you obviously know more about what's going on here than I do. Would you mind sharing?"

They both looked contrite, and the woman in blue – Dr. Crusher - apologized. "I'm sorry, I'm Doctor Beverly Crusher, I serve on the USS Enterprise. This is Captain Kathryn Janeway of the USS Voyager."

He had never heard of those ships before. "Enterprise? Voyager?" he questioned.

Janeway nodded. "With Starfleet, the Federation," she elaborated, but Bridger's face was still blank. She shared a glance with Beverly and then asked, "Who are you?"

"Captain Nathan Bridger, of the SeaQuest," he replied.

"The SeaQuest?" Janeway questioned, and it was the ladies' turn to look confused.

"It's a submarine with the UEO," he explained. This just caused more confusion. Jareth was just glaring at anyone who looked his way, avoiding conversation altogether. Bridger was getting a headache. He rubbed his eyes and was about to try and sort this all out when there was another flash of light and another man was looking about the room in confusion.

He noticed the other occupants of the room and his gaze grew suspicious. "Who are you, where the hell am I, and what do you want?"

Well, at least he didn't waste any time, Bridger noted as he took in the man's appearance. His worn clothing that looked like it was used often and the slightly scruffy look of the rest of him lent Bridger to believe he had a rough life, wherever he came from. He shared a glance with the two ladies, wondering who was going to begin trying to explain, but the man started talking again.

"Are you Council?" he asked, and Bridger could hear his voice tense with the suggestion. "Where's the rest of my group?" he demanded.

Bridger responded. "I don't know where your group is, and I have no idea what the council is," he told the newcomer. "We were brought here just like you were." Nathan looked at the two people who seemed to know more than they were telling.

Janeway held up her hand, anticipating Bridger's question. "Let's figure out who we all are and where we're all from and then Doctor Crusher and I will tell you about Q." She sighed. "I'm Captain Kathryn Janeway and this is Doctor Beverly Crusher," she said, introducing herself and her friend.

"Captain Nathan Bridger," he said, taking his turn. The newest member of the reluctant group of five was still quiet, and everyone looked to Jareth. Nathan couldn't wait to see how Jareth's announcement was going to go over with the rest of them.

Jareth continued glaring at everyone for a minute, and then introduced himself. "I am Jareth, the Goblin King, and ruler of the Underground," he said simply, daring anyone to contradict him.

The others simply stared in disbelief at Jareth, who met their stares. The newcomer found his voice first. "Goblin King??" he asked incredulously. Jareth turned to stare exclusively at him. After a moment, the newcomer just shook his head. "My name's John Danziger," he said, and noticed that everyone paused, as if they were waiting for him to continue. "Sorry, no titles, just John Danziger," he said sarcastically.

Bridger smiled wryly. The discussion continued and they all concluded that apart from Janeway and Dr. Crusher, none of them were from the same universe. Janeway and Beverly then began to explain Q.

"He's an omniscient being, who enjoys playing games with the human race," Janeway explained with a touch of exasperation. "However arrogant he seems, he's also very powerful," Janeway warned. Doctor Crusher went on to explain some of the situations Q had put them in, and then Janeway explained her encounters with Q.

When she started to tell the story of how Q wanted to 'mate' with her, Danziger shook his head. "This is crazy," he said, mostly to himself. "I must be having a Terrian dream or something."

"A Terrian dream?" Bridger inquired.

Danziger opened his mouth, then closed it and shook his head again. "Don't ask, it's too complicated. But look, this is really hard to believe. What does this Q want with all of us anyway?"

They all thought about it, then after a moment, Crusher spoke. "Well . . ." she began slowly, "the two of you are captains," she said, indicating Bridger and Janeway, "I'm the chief medical officer, and Jareth is, um," she looked at Jareth, who naturally, glared at her, "Jareth's the Goblin King, maybe it's because we're the heads of our communities or groups?" She looked to Danziger to uphold or refute that idea.

Danziger smiled wryly and shook his head. "Sorry, I'm not the leader of anything, Devon Adair, she's the head of my group," he replied.

Jareth looked at him and spoke without any hostility, well, without much hostility, for the first time since arriving. "You allow a woman to command you?" he asked. Janeway, Beverly, and Danziger promptly glared at Jareth, who just looked back at them passively until all three shook their heads and turned away. Bridger was too surprised to glare at him and just looked at Jareth incredulously for a minute or two. //Who *is* this guy?//

Janeway was talking to Crusher. "That's probably not it anyway, you know how Q is, he could have any number of reasons for choosing us."

Beverly agreed. "You're right, and none of them will probably make any sense to us," she said wryly.

Danziger broke in again. "Okay, so Q's a nutcase, that's fine, how do we get back?"

Jareth apparently was at the ends of his patience, because he suddenly started yelling. "I have had enough of this foolishness! I am the Goblin King and ruler of the Underground, I will not be treated in this matter! I demand to be released immediately and my powers restored to me, NOW!"

Danziger was the first to break the stunned silence that followed. "You need help, man," he said, and turned and sat down by the far wall, where Bridger was already sitting and just taking the strange situation in.

"What do you mean by that?" Jareth asked Danziger slowly and with much malice.

Danziger appeared unfazed by Jareth's angry gaze. "I meant what I said," he replied simply.

Jareth glared at him for a moment and then yelled in frustration. "AAHH! This is an unacceptable situation! Why does this Q continue to hide from us!"

Beverly looked at Janeway then. "You know, it could be another Q," she suggested. Janeway considered that possibility.

"*Another* Q?" Bridger murmured in disbelief. "How many of these Qs are there?"

Danziger looked over at him. "You really want to know?" he asked.

"Good point," Bridger replied wryly. The two women continued their conversation, and Jareth looked like he was becoming very angry at being ignored.

Danziger shook his head. "What is *with* that guy anyway?" he asked Bridger quietly. "Goblin King? Powers?"

Bridger shrugged. "Who knows? It may be all true, it's no less of a stretch than what they've told us about Q," he replied, gesturing to Janeway and Crusher.

"Yeah, you have a point there," Danziger said, and he continued to watch Jareth pace. "That guy's still strange, though."

Bridger watched Jareth as well, again noting his bizarre appearance. "Trust me, I am not going to argue with that."

After a minute or so of sitting in silence, Danziger sighed in frustration and stood up. "This is nuts, we have to do something to get out of here!"

Janeway looked at him, obviously annoyed with the situation. "And how do you propose to do that? There's no windows, no doors, no openings of any kind that I can see."

"Well, I can't just sit around and do nothing!" Danziger yelled back.

Beverly stood up before Kathryn could retort and calmly met John's gaze. "We don't like it any more than you do. But if Q brought us here, and it's almost positive that he did, then we're not going to be able to leave until he's done with us or until we convince him to send us back."

"Great, just great," Danziger said sarcastically.

"Why Beverly, thank you for that vote of support." Everyone turned his or her head to look at the new person in the room.

"Q," Janeway said. "Send us back. Now."

"Ah, Kathy, don't worry. I'm sure Chuckles and your Vulcan will take care of your precious Voyager while you're gone," Q said.

"Q, don't call me Kathy," Janeway said through clenched teeth, glaring at Q.

"Oh, Kathy, lighten up!" Q waved her off and turned toward Dr. Crusher. "And Beverly, always a pleasure." Q took her hand and kissed it. Beverly yanked her hand away and just glared at him. Q sighed. "What is it with redheads?"

Jareth stalked over to Q. "Return me to my kingdom and restore my powers or face the consequences," he said menacingly.

Q didn't even flinch. "Oh, calm down, Jary baby, you'll be back before you know it."

Jareth was pissed, to say the least. "How dare you speak to me in that way!! Do you know who I am? When my magic returns I will seek you out and have retribution for your insolence!"

It was Q's turn to look menacing. "You can do nothing to me, I'm far out of your league. If you try anything, you will regret it, of that you can be certain."

Bridger spoke up. "Look, if you two want to keep arguing, that's fine by me, but if no one minds, I'd really like to get back to SeaQuest."

"Yeah, send us back where we belong," Danziger agreed.

"I'm sorry, I can't do that," Q said, "not before we get to the reason I've brought you all here."

"And just why is that, Q?" Janeway asked in annoyance. "What do you want this time?"

"All in due time, all in due time," Q said. Then he disappeared in a flash of light, without so much as a 'see you later' to the 5 people stuck in the small room with no way to get back where they belonged.

-------------------

Q left them alone for hours. A long enough time for Jareth's temper to cool down, and long enough for Danziger to explain the Terrians to his reluctant companions. In fact, everyone had enough time to explain the world where they came from and to tell a few stories of their adventures. Even Jareth, surprisingly, was coaxed into telling the story of the girl who had managed to steal her brother back from him. Janeway and Beverly, however, ended up telling the most stories, telling Bridger, Danziger, and Jareth - all of who had seen at most only one or two alien species - of the many, many, many member worlds of the Federation.

Even with the almost limitless possibilities, the story-telling grew old, and soon everyone was wishing for Q's return so they could get back to the people who were most certainly missing them by now. Their wish was eventually granted, and Q popped back into the room with a flash of light, the same way he had vanished hours ago.

"I'm terribly sorry for keeping you waiting so long," he said. "My task took me a little longer than expected."

"Q, what do you want?" Janeway asked tiredly.

"I want you to be happy, Kathy dear," he replied with a smile, "I want you all to be happy."

"Great, send us home, that'd make me happy," Bridger replied. Danziger smiled in amusement and voiced his agreement with that sentiment.

"Ah, but you all could be so much happier, if you just realized what opportunities were staring you in the face!" Q exclaimed.

"What kind of opportunities, Q?" Beverly asked in confusion.

"Maybe a visual aide will help," Q said, snapping his fingers. Immediately every person in the room froze. Q sent a vision to each one of them and subtly 'suggested' that what they were seeing was real, and was happening to them right now. He also 'suggested' that they forget the past few hours since they appeared here. Then Q waited and watched, observing their reactions to his visions, wondering how well they would work.

-------------------

Nathan paced the bridge of the SeaQuest, waiting anxiously for some news. "Anything yet?" he asked for the fifth time in as many minutes. And for the fifth time, he received a negative response. Bridger kept pacing, and then he heard the announcement he was waiting for.

"Got it! Found the shuttle, sir, firing grapple and bringing her in."

Bridger nodded hastily. "I'll be in the shuttle bay," he called behind him as he left the bridge. He started running; wondering what he would find when he reached the shuttle. After what seemed like hours he arrived. They opened the doors to the shuttle. Nathan was the first one in, and he came to a dead stop when he saw Kristin, lying on the ground, her neck twisted at an impossible angle. "Get a doctor down here!" he yelled, even though he knew in his heart it was too late. Nathan knelt by Kristin's side and tentatively reached out a hand to her once elegant porcelain neck to check for a pulse. As he had already known, there was none. Nathan closed his eyes in pain and allowed himself to be pushed back by the members of the medical staff that had arrived in answer to his call. //Goodbye, Kristin, // Nathan thought as the doctors worked futilely over Dr. Westphalen's body, feeling that all too familiar sensation of grief wash over him and take hold of yet another piece of his soul.

------------------

Kathryn was in the middle of a battle against another belligerent alien race. A torpedo hit and Voyager shook. She coughed as the smoke from a destroyed station hit her lungs and yelled out, "Report!"

Tuvok answered her. "Shields are failing, Captain," he said, his voice calm and steady, as it always was.

"Fire two torpedoes, Tuvok, get them off our backs," Kathryn said as she retook her seat in the command chair.

"Firing torpedoes," Tuvok complied with her order. Then he glanced up from his readouts. "They are retreating, Captain."

Janeway breathed a sigh of relief. "Stand down from red alert," she said, and allowed herself to look around the bridge, assessing the bridge herself even as she asked Tuvok for a damage report. Her gaze fell to the crumpled form of her first officer and she was on her knees and by his side before she could even form a thought. She quickly felt for a pulse and fought down panic upon finding none. //No, no, NO!!// she thought. Slapping her combadge, Kathryn called out, "Emergency! Beam Commander Chakotay directly to sickbay!" She watched his form disappear in the transporter beam and then distracted herself by checking the condition of the rest of her bridge crew. Fortunately, none of their injuries were as serious as Chakotay's and no one else required immediate treatment in sickbay.

As soon as the doctor hailed her over the ship's com system, Kathryn knew it would be bad news. She sat down in her command chair, closed her eyes, and asked for the Doctor's report. The Doctor listed Chakotay's injuries and the extent of each. She knew what it all boiled down to. Chakotay was dead.

----------------------

Danziger rushed into the med-tent. "What happened?" he demanded.

Alonzo replied. "I don't know, I found her like this, a few kilometers out of camp."

John turned to Julia. "Doc?" he asked anxiously, looking at the still form of Devon lying on the cot, but staying out of Julia's way as she examined her.

Julia shook her head. "I don't know, these readings don't make any sense, I think she might have been exposed to a toxin of some sort."

Danziger swallowed hard and sent up prayers for the well being of the woman lying unresponsive on the cot. //Come on, Devon, fight this thing,// he thought to her.

"Damn!" Julia swore. Knowing the questions that would follow, she continued. "Her entire respiratory system is failing!" Julia worked furiously, trying to correct the damage.

John swallowed hard. Julia's words echoed in his head. 'Respiratory system is failing. . .' John knew that if Julia didn't reverse that, and fast, there was no hope. 'Respiratory system is failing. . .' the words rang out again and again over John's mind, and he frowned. He had heard that phrase somewhere before, he knew he had. And something about this whole thing just felt . . . wrong. Pushing Devon's fate out of his mind for the moment, John tried to remember why that phrase sounded familiar. A memory struck him, of packing up camp and seeing Devon collapse behind a tent, of Julia reporting Devon's systems failing one by one, and locking her in cold sleep to stall for the time that Julia so desperately needed. The memories of the emotions he felt during that time also struck John, and the force of them shocked him. The remembered feelings, of worry, anxiety, pain, and grief were so much stronger than his feelings at the moment. Something had to be wrong; memories of feelings shouldn't be stronger than his feelings right now. Amazingly, John continued ignoring the scene in front of him, even as Julia's attempts to revive Devon's failed life signs were unsuccessful. He focused his mind on the last thing he could recall before Alonzo had found Devon and suddenly remembered.

------------------

Normally, Q would have seen him coming. But Q's attention was divided between 5 visions and trying to keep all of the 'suggestions' in place. Also, Q was intrigued by Beverly and Jareth's reactions to Q's visions. They were much stronger than Q had hoped for. So Q didn't see or notice Danziger break free of his vision or readjust to his surroundings. Q also didn't see John walk over to where he was standing or see him bring back his fist. Q (although he felt it) didn't see the punch that knocked him flat on his back, breaking his concentration, shattering the visions, and releasing everyone from his 'suggestions'.

Normally, Q would have seen John coming and stopped him, but because he didn't see him this time, Q was left to lie on the floor and look up into John's angry face, wondering what had just happened. As the others regained their senses and gathered around Danziger and Q, Q slowly picked himself up from the floor and looked at Danziger. "You weren't supposed to do that," Q said.

Danziger glared at him. "Do what? Hit you or see through your so obviously fake 'visual aide'?" he asked sarcastically.

Q was puzzled. "How did you know it was a fake?" he asked.

"You could just tell," Danziger answered. "What the hell were you trying to do with that?" he demanded angrily.

"What did we all see?" Beverly asked, still a little shaken from Q's vision. "I saw Jean-Luc, he had an accident, and he. . . he didn't make it," she finished quietly.

Bridger nodded, "I saw Kristin, the same thing happened," he said.

Jareth nodded as well and said, "I saw Sarah fighting my goblin army, this time they caught her and . . . tore her apart."

"Devon was exposed to some toxin," Danziger explained his vision as he glared at Q.

Kathryn added her story. "There was a battle, and Chakotay. . ." her voice trailed off and her eyes widened as she put all the pieces together. "Q! Do not try and play matchmaker with us!" she said angrily.

"I told you, Kathy, I just want you all to be happy." Q's curiosity wouldn't be deterred, though. He looked questioningly at John. "How could you tell it was fake?"

Danziger sighed and explained. "The feelings, the emotions, they were off. They weren't strong enough."

Q looked puzzled. "Are you sure? I thought that they were right."

Janeway thought for a moment and then nodded in agreement with Danziger. "He's right, the emotions were. . . stale somehow."

Q thought about it for a moment. "Hmm. I'll have to remember that for next time." Without warning, he vanished again. There was no time for any of them to react to Q's disappearance before Danziger vanished from the room as well.

---------------------------

With the flash of light, John hoped that Q had given up and was sending him back to G889, but no such luck, it looked like Q wasn't finished with him yet. However, Danziger materialized in a much nicer room than he had just left. It was a bright, airy room, with couches and chairs by the windows and a large banquet table with platters of food on it in the center of the room. At one end, five people were laughing and talking. John wasn't that surprised when he recognized Devon among them, it made sense if Janeway's guess about Q's motives was correct. Danziger started walking over to them. They were laughing about something or other, and they didn't even notice John's approach. He walked behind Devon, who was laughing the hardest of all of them, and he smiled and shook his head. "What's so funny?" he asked, getting everyone's attention.

Devon jumped and nearly fell out of her chair. "John!" she exclaimed. "How'd you get here?" she asked.

"The same way you did," John said, sitting down in a chair next to her. "Q."

"So Q did bring us here?" a man asked. John looked at him. He was clothed in a uniform like Janeway's and Beverly's and he had dark hair and a tattoo.

Danziger nodded. "Yep, he did. You're Chakotay, right?" he asked.

Chakotay nodded, looking curiously at Danziger. "That's right, how did you. . .?"

John interrupted him. "I met Kathryn Janeway," he explained. Chakotay looked surprised, but Danziger continued before he could speak. "I also met Beverly Crusher, Nathan Bridger, and Jareth," he said. "They'll probably be joining us before too long," he assured the rest of them. "What have you guys been doing?"

Devon shrugged. "Nothing much, we've been alone since we've got here. Chakotay was just telling us a story," she said.

"I'll just bet he was." Everyone looked up to see Janeway walk over and take a seat.

Chakotay greeted her with a smile. "Captain. Any idea what Q wants this time?"

"Unfortunately, yes," Janeway said, but she didn't want to explain any further, so she greeted Picard. "Hello, Captain, it's been a long time."

"Yes, it has, Kathryn. And call me Jean-Luc. We've known each other too long to be so formal." Picard shook his head and chuckled. "You have caused quite a stir in Starfleet, you know. First we find out that Voyager hadn't been destroyed as we had thought previously, and that you're in the Delta quadrant, of all places." Picard smiled at her. "Add to that the fact that you've managed to integrate the Maquis you were sent to capture into your crew, and, well, I'm afraid it was too much for some of the admiralty to cope with."

Kathryn's face grew serious. "What are Starfleet's feelings toward the Maquis?" she asked.

"Captain," Chakotay interrupted quietly. "It's a moot point, remember?" he said, referring to the destruction of the Maquis by the Dominion. She nodded and smiled in understanding at Chakotay.

Picard nodded as well. "Your Maquis crew has nothing to fear if – when – you return to the Alpha quadrant, Kathryn. Although many people are curious to find out how exactly you managed to convince them to work with you." Jean-Luc suppressed a wide smile, but couldn't keep it from shining through his eyes. "There are some interesting rumors going around."

From the look on Picard's face, Janeway could guess what kind of rumors he was talking about. She felt her face color involuntarily.

"What kind of rumors?" Chakotay asked. He feigned innocence, but Janeway knew him too well.

She glared at him. "Chakotay, drop it."

Chakotay suppressed a smile. "But Captain, shouldn't we find out as much about the situation in the Alpha quadrant as we can?"

Kathryn could see the others holding back their laughter. "Chakotay, drop it!" she said. Chakotay bit his lip to keep from laughing but kept his mouth shut. She sighed. "And you can drop the title too, we've got too many Captains here as it is." Chakotay nodded, still trying to contain his laughter and unable to speak.

Janeway glared at him again and then nodded at Danziger. "We wondered where Q sent you," she said.

Danziger nodded back. "Yeah. They've been luckier than us, Q's left them alone," he said.

Janeway mock-glared at her first officer. "Figures. Q always did like torturing me more." At Chakotay's concerned glance, Kathryn shook her head and smiled. "Figure of speech, Chakotay, figure of speech." The seven noticed another flash, and Nathan appeared.

Kristin smiled at him as he sat down. "Hello everyone," Nathan said. He looked around. "I suppose introductions are waiting until everyone gets here?" he asked. Then he looked around. "Actually. . . Devon Adair, Chakotay, Picard, and Sarah, right?" He pointed at each person as he called off their names and they all nodded. Nathan looked at Kristin then. "But I have no idea who you are," he joked.

Kristin glared at him. "Very funny, Nathan," she said.

Nathan smiled. "I try." Kristin just rolled her eyes and shook her head.

Chakotay turned to Kathryn. "What exactly have you been telling everyone about me, Kathryn?"

"I'd like to know that myself," Devon said, turning and looking at John suspiciously.

John smiled at her. "Devon, it's nothing worse than what you've told them about me, I'm sure," he replied.

"Uh-huh," Devon said. Danziger just smiled at her innocently.

"Well, now I'm worried," Chakotay announced.

Janeway looked at him curiously. "Why?"

"Because I know what I said about you," he replied, the amusement dancing in his eyes.

Kathryn whacked him on the arm. "I can't take you anywhere," she said, shaking her head. "Next time Q kidnaps me, I'm telling him to leave you behind."

Jareth appeared in a flash of light, and on noticing Sarah, he rushed over to her. "Sarah!" he said.

"Jareth?" Sarah asked. He was acting oddly, not at all the haughty ruler that had challenged her in the Labyrinth.

Jareth looked around, and then looked back to Sarah. "I need to speak with you, Sarah," he said, a hint of command creeping into his voice. He saw Sarah recoil from that tone, and made an effort to soften his voice. "I'd very much like to speak with you Sarah," he said.

"No, why should I go with you? I have nothing to say to you," Sarah said, anger in her voice, remembering her troubles in the Labyrinth.

Jareth glanced around the room and then back to her. "Sarah. . ." he began, but she cut him off.

"I have nothing to say to you," she repeated firmly. Even if Jareth wasn't quite the same, she still didn't want to have any conversations with him, after all the grief he had put her through.

"You will hear me out!" Jareth yelled, a touch of desperation in his voice.

Sarah glared at him stubbornly. "No, I will not," she said.

Jareth once more glanced around the room. Everyone was watching him curiously. Danziger, Bridger, and Janeway looked at him in understanding, but they stayed silent. Jareth took a deep breath. He had to get Sarah to listen to him, and he wasn't going to do that by yelling at her. With some effort, he got his temper under control and spoke to her again. "Sarah, I very much need to speak with you," he said calmly, looking at her and willing her to understand.

Sarah took a moment and looked into Jareth's eyes. They were so much less guarded than they were the last time they met. He was acting so differently. Sarah was surprised and curious about what brought this change about. But she was nervous because she couldn't identify the emotions she saw in his eyes. Or was that she didn't want to identify those emotions? Slowly she nodded at Jareth. What harm could listening to him do? "Alright, there are some rooms over here where we can speak privately." Sarah led Jareth over to one of the five bedrooms that had been discovered before.

The remaining seven were silent for a few moments after their departure, until an anxious Picard broke the silence. "You said Beverly was with you?"

Janeway nodded. "Yes, I'm sure she'll be here soon."

"What does Q want with us anyway?" Devon asked, looking at John.

Danziger looked at Kathryn and Nathan. "Well. . ." he began, but trailed off, not knowing how to put it. Kathryn looked tongue-tied as well.

Nathan was the one who finally answered. "Q thinks he's cupid," he said simply. It took a few moments for his meaning to sink in.

Kristin was the first to speak up. "You mean this is all to. . .?" Nathan nodded. Kristin looked toward the elaborately furnished bedrooms and saw Devon looking at them too. They caught each other's gazes and blushed.

Danziger noticed Devon's face color and asked, "What?"

"Never mind," Devon said, still blushing. Danziger looked at Bridger and the other man just shrugged.

"But that theory can't be right," Picard spoke up, looking confused.

"Why not?" Janeway asked.

"Because Jean-Luc and I started seeing each other 4 months ago," Beverly announced, having appeared in a flash of light just seconds ago.

Kathryn was surprised, but happy for them. "Why didn't you tell me?" she asked Beverly.

The other woman shrugged. "It didn't come up," she said. "I think Q made a mistake, though, he is trying to get all of us together."

"That would be something to remember," Chakotay said. "Q making a mistake." Kathryn, Beverly, and Picard nodded in agreement.

Then Q appeared, looking slightly embarrassed. He apologized to Jean-Luc and Beverly. "I'm sorry about this. I just never thought Jean-Luc had it in him. An easy mistake to make, of course. I'll send you back now." They both called for him to wait, but Q snapped his fingers and they were gone.

Bridger shook his head. "Can you do that with the rest of us now, please?" he asked.

Q looked at him and smiled. "But that would defeat the purpose of my bringing you here in the first place," he said.

Danziger covered his face with his hands and sighed. Devon shook her head and spoke up. "This isn't going to work, so just send us back now and save everyone a lot of grief."

Kristin spoke up as well. "She's right. You can't just put people together and expect them to declare their undying love for each other."

"I didn't just throw you together," Q protested. "Give me some credit, I did have a plan."

Kathryn rolled her eyes. "Q, give me a break. Giving us all fake 'visions' of our supposed love interest's dying in front of us and then revealing that they're still alive? You call that a plan?" she shook her head. "Do you know how many times he's gotten himself in trouble, been near death?" she said, pointing at Chakotay. "If it hadn't worked any of those times, why should it work now?"

Q was about to respond, and then he heard the mother of his child calling for him. Great, now he had to deal with her too. "Excuse me, I'll be right back," he said, and popped out of the room.

Devon looked at John, curious to know what he had seen, and a little worried. She saw Chakotay and Kristin doing the same with Kathryn and Nathan out of the corner of her eye. John shook his head and said, "It was nothing. A helluva lot less traumatic than what we've already been through."

Q popped back in the room. True to his word, he had been gone for less than a minute. Danziger rose to face him, his anger rising. "Look, Q, you're not going to help anything. People come together when the time is right for them. No amount of meddling will speed that up."

"But I was able to bring Sarah and Jareth together," Q gloated.

John shook his head. "If Jareth and Sarah get together, then that's because it was their time, *not* because of your pathetic efforts!" he yelled.

"Pathetic?" Q asked in disbelief, his anger growing. While to the people in this room he had been gone only for a few seconds, for Q it had seemed much longer. Q's mate had taken him to a dimension where time ran much slower than it did here, and to Q's perspective, he had been arguing with her for centuries. To make his mood worse, he lost the argument. And now he had to listen to this *man* lecture him.

Ignorant of the mood Q was in, Danziger continued on. "Yeah, pathetic would be a good word to describe it. Hell, even Bess is subtler than you. And what, did you honestly expect any of us to be convinced by those 'visions'?" Danziger laughed, and Q's face grew stormy.

Kathryn noticed Q's mood, although she had no idea what its cause was, and she tried to warn Danziger to back off. "John, maybe we should just. . ."

"No," Danziger interrupted her, looking back to Q. "Look, I have better things to do with my time than deal with some two-bit magician who isn't even *convincing*, and who thinks he knows what's best for me! Send us back Q, I don't want to waste my time anymore."

That was the last straw. Q's already short fuse blew, and he lashed out at Danziger. "Not convincing, am I?" he yelled. "See how this convinces you!" With that last threat, he snapped his fingers and vanished.

There was silence as everyone recovered from Q's outburst. Danziger looked around, a little troubled by Q's threat, but not really worried.

Nathan broke the silence. "Well, that was interesting," he said nervously. He recognized the air in the room; everyone was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then it did, and left most people in the room confused, at least at first. Danziger looked beside him, gasped, and knelt on the ground, seemingly cradling something that was invisible to the rest of them in his arms.

"Devon!" he called, staring intently at. . . the floor. Everyone in the room looked to Devon, who was as confused as the rest of them.

"John, what is it?" she asked, approaching him. When she got within a few meters, she bumped into something. "What the. . .?" she muttered, trying to push her way past the invisible barrier in front of her. Kathryn came up next to her and walked forward with no problem. She looked at Devon and shrugged.

Kathryn walked up and laid a hand on Danziger's shoulder. "What's the matter, John?" she asked quietly.

John whirled around and glared at her, with such an angry gaze that Kathryn actually took a step back. "Not funny," he said through clenched teeth. Then he whirled his gaze to Dr. Westphalen, but his angry gaze softened; now it was desperate, pleading. "You're a doctor, do something! Help her!"

Kristin looked at Nathan helplessly. He squeezed her arm reassuringly. They had all begun to realize what was going on, and Devon walked around to face John, getting as close as the barrier would allow. "John, that's not me!" she yelled. "I'm right here, I'm fine!" But he couldn't hear her. Devon looked at the rest of the observers helplessly.

Kathryn approached him again. "John," she said firmly, "that's not Devon, it's a trick of Q's, Devon's fine, she's right in front of you." He didn't respond. "John!" she said again, shaking his shoulder in frustration. He whirled around again.

"Look, if you're not going to help, then just back off!" he yelled, again shooting her an angry gaze.

Kathryn, not knowing what else to do, backed off. She went to stand by Chakotay, Nathan, and Kristin to witness whatever Q was doing to John. Devon stayed where she was, dropping down to her knees at the edge of the barrier which prevented her from going up to John and shaking him until he saw the truth. She watched him as he looked down at the floor with a concerned gaze, murmuring things that she couldn't make out.

Then his eyes widened. "Oh god," he whispered, "no, no, don't do this," he said, his voice growing louder as he seemed to check "Devon's" pulse. He must have found none, because his face grew frightened and he started performing CPR. "Come on, Devon, don't do this," he said between breaths. He glared at Westphalen as he compressed the empty air of the floor in front of him. "Damn you, Westphalen, why won't you help her?!"

Kristin felt incredibly guilty as she returned John's angry, confused, and painful gaze. Nathan sensed her discomfort and put his arm around her shoulders, offering her his silent support.

Chakotay watched John perform CPR over empty air, recalling the time when he had to do the same thing to save Kathryn's life. If John was feeling anything like Chakotay did at that time, then Q should be damned to several hells for doing this. Chakotay looked down as Kathryn slipped her hand into his, her gaze still focused on the scene before her. He squeezed her hand and focused on John once again.

Devon watched in shock as John frantically tried to bring what he thought was her back to life. She was captivated by the emotions playing across his face. Shock, anger, determination, helplessness, fear. . . these and many others passed across John's face, and she was unable to do anything but watch. It must have been minutes later that Devon noticed fatigue beginning to creep into John's expression. She finally realized the time that had passed and in a flash she understood that John wasn't going to give up until he collapsed or someone stopped him. Devon preferred the latter. "Someone, stop him, please," she pleaded, not removing her gaze from John's face.

Her words jolted everyone out of their thoughts. Chakotay and Bridger looked at each other and nodded. Chakotay removed a tablecloth off the large table while Bridger approached John. Nathan crouched next to Danziger and laid a hand on his shoulder. "John, stop this," he said, but Danziger roughly shrugged him off and didn't even look in his direction. "Stop it, John, it's over. You can't bring her back," Nathan continued, taking hold of John's arm to get his attention. "She's gone. I'm sorry."

John shoved Bridger away again. "I won't give up," he said.

Chakotay put the tablecloth down and came up and grasped John's shoulder firmly. "It's over," Chakotay said quietly. "There's nothing you can do." Danziger held Chakotay's gaze for a minute, and Chakotay could see John slowly accept the truth.

John nodded and looked down again, closing his eyes. "Just give me a minute," he said, his voice thick with emotion. Chakotay and Bridger nodded and stepped away.

Kathryn watched as Danziger hung his head over the empty space in front of him. His hair hid most of his face, but she could see his sorrow in the way he held himself. Then John leaned over and kissed the cheek or forehead of what he thought was Devon. John took the tablecloth and draped it over the spot where he saw Devon lying dead. Then he just stood there, looking down, until Nathan guided him to the table, where John sat down and supported his head with his hands, looking down at the tabletop. Kathryn felt tears stinging her eyes as Chakotay approached her again. He saw her tears and put his hands on her shoulders.

She shook her head and wiped her eyes. "When I get my hands on Q I'm going to kill him," she said angrily, not caring that killing Q was impossible. She would find a way. Chakotay nodded in silent agreement with her sentiment.

Kristin stayed away from John, not wanting to add to his pain, and approached Devon, who was still kneeling in the same place where she had watched the whole event unfold. "Devon," she started, but was unsure how to continue. Kristin knelt next to her and put a hand on her shoulder.

Devon shook her head. "I can't believe Q did that to him," she said quietly. She visibly pulled herself together and smiled half-heartedly at Westphalen. "I'm okay, really," she said.

"Are you sure?" Kristin asked.

Devon nodded and stood. Kristin stood as well. "I'm okay, but my God, John. . . he thinks I'm *dead*," Devon said. "What are we going to do?"

Kristin shook her head. "I don't know that we can do anything," she said sadly. "Except wait for Q to make an appearance and persuade him to undo what he did to John."

Devon's face grew stormy. "He better undo it, or I swear, I'll. . ."

Westphalen cut her off. "Getting Q angry wouldn't be the best idea, that's what started all this," she warned.

"I'm too upset," Devon said. "Q has no right to play with us like this. I'm going to have my say." With that she walked off towards where the others were watching over John.

No one knew what to do. John showed no signs of moving from his place at the table, and he didn't seem to notice or care when Bridger, Chakotay, or Kathryn sat down near him, or when they got up and walked around. He was lost in his own thoughts. Nathan alternated between Danziger and Kristin, who was on the other side of the room from Danziger and refused to go anywhere near him for fear of making John angry. Devon didn't know what to do either. Sometimes she sat down at the table near John, then she got up and paced the room, and then she would go sit with Kristin. A silence had settled over all of them. The only sound was the occasional whispered conversation.

Q viewed the silent group from a private place behind a black hole. //I see that convinced him, // he thought smugly, looking at John. He had figured out what he had done wrong with the previous visions. Before, Q had tried to manipulate each of their brains into believing something was happening to them. What Q didn't realize at the time was that the human brain was much too complicated to do that successfully; there were too many variables to worry about. It was much better and easier to just create the vision around the person and to not try and deal with their minds. Still, Q began to realize that he might have gone a little overboard with his latest stunt. He was not looking forward to reappearing in the room; Devon and Kathy looked like they would gladly kill him - if that were possible. Q sighed; he would have to undo what he did, which meant more manipulation of Danziger's mind. Q noticed Amanda join him with Q jr. in tow, but he didn't acknowledge their arrival until Amanda spoke up. "You certainly have done it this time," she said. "I hope you're planning on fixing this."

"And if I'm not?" Q asked.

"Then you'll find yourself another babysitter," Amanda said. "Q, you cannot leave this situation as it is. I won't allow it."

Q shook his head and held up a hand to stop her tirade. "No need to worry, I'll fix it."

"Good," Amanda said. "And here, take your son. Maybe they won't try and kill you in front of your own child." With that, she left, leaving Q and his son behind.

Q looked down at his child and picked him up with a sigh. "I guess I'd better go and face the music, as they say," Q said, and transported Q jr. and himself to the room where silence reigned until the moment Janeway and Devon noticed his presence.

-----------------------

Q jr. appeared in the room holding his dad's hand. When the other people noticed his dad was in the room, they all came over, and his dad let go of his hand. Two angry looking women with scary expressions on their faces were yelling at Q jr.'s dad, and he was trying to talk to them, but they kept yelling. Q jr. wandered away from the yelling and noticed a man sitting by himself, behind a curtain that his dad must have put up. Q jr. walked through the curtain and went over to the man.

John sat at the table, his thoughts in a whirl. //She's dead, oh God, she's dead. It's my fault, how could I be so stupid! Kathryn and Beverly *warned* me Q had a short fuse, but I went ahead and lost my temper anyway. And Q took it out on Devon, it's my fault, he killed her because of me, I got him mad. Why didn't I think? How am I going to explain this? How am I going to tell Uly? And Yale? And everyone else? // John's thoughts went on, much like this, until he noticed a small boy with dark brown hair and brown eyes looking curiously up at him. He looked down at the boy. "Where'd you come from?" John wondered aloud. The toddler saw that he had John's attention and proceeded to try and climb into John's lap, without much success. John sighed and picked the boy up, sitting him down and holding him securely.

Q jr. looked up at the man, wondering why he was so sad. His dad had showed him humans, and told him about feelings, and this man was sad. Q jr.'s face scrunched up in concentration. Sad wasn't good. What could he do to make the man happy again? Then it hit him, and Q jr.'s face lit up. A game! Playing a game always made him feel better. Hide and seek, that was his favorite. That would cheer the man up. Q jr. pouted for a moment, wishing he could 'port places like his dad did, that would make hide and seek much easier, but the toddler's frown soon evaporated and he squirmed, trying to get off John's lap.

John looked down at the struggling toddler in his arms. "Now what?" he asked the boy, not expecting an answer. John loosened his arms and let the boy jump to the ground. As soon as he was free, the toddler was off like a shot, running right towards the tablecloth on the ground, not knowing what was under it. "No!" John sprang up and ran after the small boy, but he wasn't fast enough to stop him from yanking away the tablecloth that covered Devon's still form. John froze when he saw Devon's body lying there. He couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't look away, all John could do was stand there and look at the once vibrant woman, now lying dead on the floor before him.

Q jr. noticed that something was wrong. He looked from the man to the lady lying on the floor. Was that what was making the man sad? And why did this lady look so much like the one that was arguing with his dad? Q jr. looked over to the others, and the lady was still over there. They seemed to have stopped arguing with his dad, and now everyone was looking at Q jr. and the sad man. Q jr. looked back to the sad man. The man turned away and sat on the floor. Q jr. stood in thought for a minute, and then went over to the man and crawled into his lap, wrapping his small arms around the man's neck and giving him a hug.

Devon looked at John and Q's son, then back to the adult Q. "Q. . ." she began, but he interrupted her.

"I know, I know," he said, and then sighed. "What would you like for me to do?" Q asked.

"Make him forget," Devon said. "Make him forget what you did to him." Q nodded his agreement and understanding.

"Are you sure you want him to do that?" Westphalen asked her. "He will have to tamper with John's mind, and Q hasn't exactly proven himself to be trustworthy."

Q bristled. Devon looked at him appraisingly. "You have my word," Q said. Devon glanced at Kathryn and then nodded. Q raised his hand and snapped his fingers. "It's done," he said.

Devon looked back at John. The change was so sudden, and so dramatic, that she had to stop and just stare at him. John was still sitting in the same place on the floor, and Q jr. was still sitting in his lap, but John's demeanor was vastly different. The air of sadness and despair that had hung over him like a cloak had vanished, and now John was smiling, playing with the toddler who was sitting in his lap. The little boy looked confused, noticing the change in John's mood. Then John stood, lifting Q jr. in his arms, and walked over to them.

"Hey," John said as he reached the group gathered around Q. "So who belongs to this guy, anyway?" he asked.

"He's my son," Q said.

John's eyebrows raised as he looked from father to son. "Poor kid." Q sighed and reached out, taking Q jr. from Danziger. John then turned to Devon, who was still looking at him strangely. "Devon, what is it?"

Devon shook herself out of her daze. "Nothing. Q was just going to send us home," she said.

Q looked up at this, slightly startled, but Kathryn spoke before he could protest. "That's right, he's going to send us all back right now," she said, looking sternly at Q.

"Including Jareth and Sarah," Nathan added.

Q sighed. "Alright, I'll send you all back," he said. Q raised his hand and snapped his fingers. Nathan, Kristin, Devon, Danziger, Kathryn, and Chakotay all disappeared in a flash of light. Q looked at his son. "Well, this little experiment was not successful," he said. Q shrugged off his disappointment and vanished from the room, his son in his arms.

---------------------------

At the flash of light, Jareth blearily opened his eyes and found himself in his chambers back in his castle. He felt his powers return to him and saw Sarah still sleeping peacefully in his arms. Jareth smiled and drifted off to sleep again.

------------------------

Nathan reappeared in his room, sitting at his desk, exactly where he had disappeared from. //Well, that was rude,// he thought, //Q didn't even let us say goodbye.// Nathan sighed and supposed there was nothing he could do about it. He looked at the clock and sighed. Almost 20 hours had passed. There was no way Kristin's and his disappearance would have gone unnoticed. Nathan called Kristin on the comm. "Dr. Westphalen?"

Kristin's voice greeted him. "Yes, Nathan, I'm back. My staff is quite curious as to where I've been all this time," she said, and he smiled when he heard the voices clamoring for attention in the background.

"Would you care to meet me in the briefing room? I'm sure Commander Ford will be wondering where we've been."

"I'll be right up," Kristin said, and broke the connection.

When Nathan called up to Ford on the bridge, the commander was understandably surprised. Nathan assured him that all of his questions would be answered. The meeting would take place in 15 minutes. Nathan sighed, prepared himself mentally for the onslaught of questions that would no doubt be forthcoming, and left for the briefing room.

------------------------

After the meeting ended, Nathan exited the room with Kristin and walked down the corridors with her. "You think they believed us?" he asked.

"No," she said simply, quickly. She smiled at Nathan and patted his arm. "I have a hard time believing everything that happened and I was there."

"Yes, you have a point," Nathan said, sighing. "I suppose I should be grateful that no one asked us why the two of us were taken."

Kristin shook her head. "Oh, yes, they would have great fun with that piece of information."

Nathan laughed. "Yes, can you imagine the rumors that would fly if they knew Q was trying to play cupid?" Kristin laughed at this and they both continued walking. Neither one noticed Lucas leaning against the corridor wall behind them, grinning widely.

---------------------

Devon and John were sent back to G889. They had been on a scouting trip, so luckily they didn't have to tell the others what had happened to them. Neither one of them wanted to try and explain Q. The rest of the group would have thought they had both lost it. So John and Devon quickly concocted a cover story about the dunerail breaking down and their gear sets malfunctioning before returning to camp. Devon could tell that some people were suspicious of their story, but that was better than having the rest of the group thinking they were completely nuts.

Later that night, Devon was lying in her cot listening to the sounds of Uly's even breathing, totally unable to drop into sleep. She kept thinking about what had happened to John earlier. He didn't seem to remember anything of what Q had shown him, but Devon didn't trust Q, no matter how contrite he had seemed. She was worried about John, but that wasn't all of it. She didn't know why, but she couldn't get what had happened out of her head. She kept seeing it over and over. Devon sighed. Maybe she should have asked Q to make her forget as well. Deciding she wasn't going to get any sleep, Devon slipped on her shoes and went outside. She took a slow walk around camp, nodding at Cameron, who was on guard this shift, and tried to clear her mind. As she walked past Danziger's tent, she paused for a second, remembering again. Then the voices of their very tired doctor and a worried little girl drew her attention. Devon turned and saw True dragging Julia towards her tent. Devon grew concerned. When Julia and True grew close enough, Devon asked, "What's wrong?"

Julia shrugged. "True says her dad's having a nightmare and she can't wake him up." True pulled Julia the rest of the way into the tent and Devon entered behind them. She saw John lying on his cot caught in the grips of a nightmare. Julia shook him and called his name, and then slapped him lightly. It didn't work; John stayed caught in the nightmare. Julia stood up and started for the entrance of the tent. "I'll be right back," she said.

Devon put her arm around True and watched John wrestle with his nightmare. She noticed that he was muttering softly, and got a little closer, to try and make out what he was saying. Julia re-entered the tent with her diaglove and scanned John.

"He's not having a Terrian dream," she announced. "And everything else reads as normal. As far as I can tell, there's nothing out of the ordinary here." Julia looked puzzled as she examined the readings from her diaglove. "Let me try a mild stimulant." Julia injected him with the stimulant, but nothing happened. Julia scanned him again and then shook her head and looked at Devon. "I don't understand it," she said in confusion.

"Why won't my dad wake up?" True asked, trying to hide her worry and failing miserably.

"I don't know, True," Julia was forced to admit.

Devon listened closely to John's mutterings, trying to figure out what he was dreaming about. She could only pick out a few words, " . . . no, no . . . don't . . . Westphalen, help . . ." Devon's eyes grew wide as she realized what John's nightmare was. Damn Q, damn him.

Julia was racking her brain, trying to think of something - anything - she could do, when Devon came up. "Let me try something," she said. Julia moved out of the way and Devon quickly knelt by the head of John's cot. Julia watched as Devon bent her head near John's and began whispering to him. She couldn't make out what Devon was saying, but after a minute, John seemed to slip out of his nightmare.

Julia looked at Devon curiously and scanned John with her diaglove. "He's not in REM sleep anymore," she announced. Julia reached up and shook John slightly. He woke almost instantly and saw True, Julia, and Devon all looking down at him.

John sat up and looked around. "What's wrong, what are you two doing here?" he asked.

"You were having a nightmare," Julia said. "We couldn't wake you up."

"I don't remember it," John said. "If you couldn't wake me up, then how. . .?"

Julia turned to Devon, who was being strangely quiet. "Devon talked you out of the nightmare," she said.

Devon stammered for a moment. "I, I just thought it might work, it sometimes did when Uly would have nightmares," she said, hoping she sounded convincing. "I'm going to go get some sleep now, I'll see you all in the morning," Devon said, wanting to get out of there so she could think. Devon slipped out of the tent and hurriedly walked back to her own.

Damn Q, he said John wouldn't remember. Well, he didn't remember, not really, but he was still having nightmares about it. She knew Q wasn't trustworthy. Now what was she going to do? She didn't think Q would be nice enough to drop by and fix this mess, and Devon knew there was no way she'd be lucky enough for John's nightmare to be a one time event. She lay down on her cot in frustration and wondered what she was going to do.

---------------------

Chakotay walked out of his bathroom, toweling his hair dry. He stopped short when he saw Beverly Crusher sitting on his couch. "Dr. Crusher?" he asked, stunned. "What are you doing here? Did Q. . .?" Chakotay stopped talking, realizing that Beverly was staring at him with barely contained amusement. Chakotay blushed and swore - running back into the bathroom for his robe. As he tied the sash firmly around his waist, he heard gales of laughter from the main room. Leaving the bathroom, he saw Beverly sitting on the couch, holding her sides and laughing with tears running down her cheeks. "I'm so glad you're amused," Chakotay said dryly, still very embarrassed.

"I'm sorry," Beverly said, getting her laughter under control. "I didn't mean to. . . I mean, I didn't know you would. . ." she gave up and stifled another laugh.

"Why are you here?" Chakotay asked, desperate to change the subject.

Beverly bit back a grin. "Well, Q came to the Enterprise to needle Jean-Luc. We managed to get him to agree to let us talk to you and Kathryn." Beverly shook her head. "Q seemed. . . almost apologetic, it was strange, I've never seen him like that before. It didn't seem like an act, either."

"Yes, well, you missed the good stuff," Chakotay said, the image of Danziger frantically trying to revive Devon coming unbidden to his mind.

"What happened?" Beverly asked, then interrupted him when he opened his mouth to explain. "Wait, I probably don't have a lot of time, I want to talk to you about something first."

"What is it?" Chakotay asked, curious.

"Do you love Kathryn?"

"Uh. . . yes, I do," he replied, surprised by the forthright question.

Beverly smiled. "Good. Now, have you told her this?"

"No, of course not, I don't want to push her," Chakotay said.

"You're a nitwit," Beverly said, sighing in frustration. "Has it occurred to you that she has no idea how you feel?"

"She knows how I feel about her," Chakotay replied. It was so obvious that anyone could see it. She had to know. . . right?

"One question," Beverly said, her blue eyes looking straight at Chakotay. "Do you know how she feels for you?" Chakotay just shook his head. "I rest my case," she said. "Look, if you want to move forward with her, you are going to have to tell her how you feel. No playing around, just straight out tell her you're in love with her."

"But what if she runs? Pulls farther away from me?" Chakotay protested.

"What if she doesn't?" Beverly countered. "Look, do you want to spend the next 50 years like you are now?"

"Well. . . no," Chakotay replied.

"Then you have to talk to her. Things aren't going to change for you; you have to change them yourself," Beverly said. "Take a chance, Chakotay, tell her how you feel. You can't gain anything if you don't risk anything," she said.

"But. . ." Chakotay started, and then was abruptly cut off when Beverly vanished from his room. "Great, just great. Q, we weren't finished here!" he yelled in frustration. He leaned forward and held his head in his hands. He sat in his room, feeling shell-shocked and not having one clue as to what to do next.

----------------------

Kathryn paced her room, feeling like a caged animal. She wanted to get out of her room, but outside, she would have to be the 'captain'. There was one thing she couldn't handle right now, and that was it. Scratch that - there were two things she couldn't handle. There was no way she could face *him* right now either. //Damn Jean-Luc, // Kathryn thought, //when I get back to the Alpha quadrant, I'm going to strangle him. Why did he have to do this to me? // He had taken away all of her excuses. It just wasn't fair; he had even put aside her worries about whether she could keep work and a relationship separate. "You already care too much," he had said. "If it hasn't been a problem before, it won't become one."

So Kathryn was left like this, no excuses, no barriers, no _safety net_. She groaned and sank down on the couch. //What in the world possessed you to say that anyway, // she thought to herself. Kathryn thought over Q's latest stunt. She remembered with crystal clarity that when John was seeing 'Devon' die Kathryn had slipped her hand into Chakotay's. Even now, she couldn't say why she had done that. To reassure herself that he was there? To reassure him? She couldn't say what made her do that simple little act. That was the scary part. Kathryn never even gave the action a thought; it was just . . . natural to join hands with him. Sighing, she got up and started pacing again. //Well, now what? I have to make a decision about this, I can't stall anymore.// she thought. Her door chime sounded and Kathryn froze in place, a fearful expression coming over her face. //Oh, no, // she realized, //if Jean-Luc came and talked to me, then Beverly must have. . .// The chime sounded again and she swallowed, reluctantly going and answering the door.

Sure enough, Chakotay was standing on the other side. "Kathryn, I have to talk to you," he said, a nervous but determined expression on his face.

"Of course, come in," Kathryn replied, trying to cover her own nervousness. "I think I'm going to have a cup of coffee," she said, walking over to the replicator. "Did you need anything?" she tossed the question over her shoulder.

"Just you."

Kathryn's stomach did flips. Her hands froze over the replicator controls and she decided she needed something a little stronger than coffee for this talk.

-----------------

John woke up and saw the early morning sunlight streaming into his tent. He glanced over to True's bunk, but it was empty. //She got up early this morning,// Danziger thought, realizing the time. He stretched, sat up, and froze when he saw Devon, sitting against a tent post, fast asleep. //Damn, I must have had another of those nightmares.// The stupid things made no sense. He couldn't remember them at all, and apparently he couldn't be woken up from them, either. The only solution seemed to be for Devon to talk him out of his nightmares. He didn't want to think about why only Devon could calm him down. Danziger shook off his thoughts, and then got out of bed and went to Devon. He debated waking her up, but then he decided she could probably use the sleep. After all, it was his fault she was losing sleep, he had gotten her up in the middle of the night for 3 nights in a row. John wasn't going to leave her to sleep in that uncomfortable position, though. Ever so gently, he picked her up in his strong arms, praying that she wouldn't wake up. She stirred, but she didn't wake. She settled against John's broad chest, her head resting against his shoulder and her hair brushing his neck. John held his breath as he carried her to his bed. He gently laid her down on the cot and pulled the blanket over her. This time, Devon did wake up slightly. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked at John, who was crouching by the cot and looking at Devon intently while his hand rested on Devon's shoulder. A faint smile came across her face and she drifted back into sleep. John removed his hand and stood up. He stared down at the sleeping woman for a minute while he tried to recover from that smile. John finally shook his head and hurriedly got ready for the day.

------------------

Devon rolled over in bed, mostly awake but not wanting to get up yet. After a few moments, she reluctantly opened her eyes. //This isn't my tent,// she realized. Then Devon remembered. John had another of Q's nightmares last night. She had sat down and watched John sleep after the nightmare had passed. //I must have fallen asleep,// Devon thought. //But then how did I end up here?// she wondered. Fuzzily, she seemed to remember seeing John standing above her, watching her. A slow smile spread across Devon's face. John must have seen her sitting there and moved her to his bed so she could get some real sleep. Devon shook her head and clutched at John's pillow, the smile still on her face. That was a sweet gesture. She stayed there in John's bed for awhile longer before Devon reluctantly rose and went to her tent to get ready for the day.

-----------------

Sarah woke up slowly. It took her a minute to realize that she wasn't sleeping in her own bed, and then she remembered what had happened. She smiled. Sarah sat up and realized they were no longer in Q's room, they were at Jareth's castle. //But where, exactly, is Jareth?// she wondered. She got out of bed and put on a robe and slippers that must have been left there for her, before she went to look for him. They had a lot to talk about.

She found him after only a little searching. Or rather, he found her. She was walking down a corridor and he was coming the other way.

"Sarah," he said when he spotted her. He came over to her and kissed her hand. "How are you this fine morning?" He didn't give her time to answer as he continued. "The plans for the wedding are going wonderfully," he said.

Sarah narrowed her eyes. "What wedding?"

"Our wedding, of course," Jareth said. "It will take place in the garden, and. . ."

Sarah cut him off. "Jareth, you've forgotten something very important," she said, taking her hand from his.

"You don't even know what I've planned, my dear," Jareth said.

"I don't need to know, Jareth. You've forgotten something," Sarah said.

Jareth stared at her for a moment in bewilderment. Then he nodded. "Ah, yes, you'd like to help plan the wedding. Sarah, whatever you wish for, just ask and it will be yours."

Sarah closed her eyes and shook her head. "Jareth, that's not what I was talking about." She opened her eyes again and looked straight at him. "You neglected to ask if I would be willing to marry you at all," she said, and then turned and walked back down the corridor.

Jareth ran after her and stopped her. "What are you talking about, of course you will marry me!"

"I will not be told what I will and will not do, Jareth," Sarah said, looking at him evenly.

Jareth looked at her with hurt eyes. "Why won't you marry me? I love you, Sarah."

Sarah closed her eyes for a brief moment. "I never said that I wouldn't, Jareth."

"But. . ."

Sarah cut him off. "What I said was that you never asked me. Jareth, I love you too, that hasn't changed since last night, but I will not marry you if you continue ordering me around like a servant. I won't live my life like that, Jareth."

Jareth met her gaze and they stayed like that for several minutes. Sarah lost hope that he would ask her the question and turned away, holding back her tears. Jareth's voice stopped her. "Sarah, will you marry me?"

Sarah smiled and turned back to him. "Yes," she said, and went to him and embraced him. After they parted, he took her arm and they walked down the corridor. "Now, tell me about those wedding plans," she said.

-----------------

"Captain! Hey, Captain," Lucas yelled after Bridger, running to catch up to him. Bridger stopped walking and waited for the young genius to catch up to him. "Captain, we're throwing a party to welcome you and Dr. Westphalen back, come to the mess at 2130 hours. I have to go, I have to help set up," Lucas said. "Oh, and wear something nice!" he yelled as he rushed off.

"Lucas, wait a second, come back here!" Bridger yelled after him, wanting an explanation. Lucas either didn't hear him or ignored him. Nathan shook his head and continued to the bridge. Everything there was running smoothly, nothing out of the ordinary was happening, for a change. Nathan couldn't shake the feeling that Lucas was up to something. He turned to Commander Ford and asked, "Ford, have you heard about a party Lucas is throwing tonight?"

"The party, sir?" Ford responded. He had *told* Lucas to keep him out of his bone-headed scheme. "Yes, I've heard about it," Ford said reluctantly. "It's at 2130 hours, isn't it?"

"What are you wearing, sir?" O'Neill piped in. He, unlike Ford, had volunteered to help Lucas tonight. In O'Neill's opinion, it was a worthy cause.

"I'm not sure yet," Bridger replied. He looked at Ford and O'Neill, considering. "Tell me, is Lucas planning anything?"

O'Neill and Ford adopted identical confused expressions. "Planning anything, sir?" Ford repeated. "Besides the party, you mean?"

Bridger narrowed his eyes. It was obvious that if Ford or O'Neill knew anything, they weren't talking. //Oh, well, I suppose I'll find out what's going on tonight,// he thought. Nathan shrugged it off and put the party out of his mind for now.

O'Neill and Ford exchanged glances, and then turned back to their own consoles, O'Neill suppressing a smile.

-----------------

Kristin made her way down to the mess. Lucas had insisted that she wear a dress, for some reason or another. She didn't know why the boy was going to so much trouble over this. When Kristin entered the mess, it was empty. She spotted Nathan and walked over to him. "Nathan? Where is everyone?"

"I don't know, I was wondering if I was early," Bridger replied.

"Lucas told me 2130, I'm sure he did," Kristin replied.

"That's what he told me, too," Nathan said. He smiled and looked at her. "In any case, you look very nice, Kristin."

"Thank you, Nathan," Kristin said. She smiled as she looked him over. In a simple pair of khaki's and a dark shirt, Nathan didn't look that bad himself. "You're looking very handsome yourself."

"Thank you," he said. "Lucas told me to dress up tonight."

"He told me the same thing," Kristin said.

"Hmm. . ." Nathan said, looking around at the empty room. "Kristin, do you get the feeling we've been set up?"

"The thought had crossed my mind," she replied dryly.

Nathan shook his head and walked over to the intercom and called Lucas. "Lucas, would you mind telling us what is going on?"

"Ah, hello Captain. I assume Dr. Westphalen is there with you?"

"Yes, she's right here," Bridger replied.

"Good," Lucas said. Kristin and Nathan exchanged worried glances. They could both hear the smile in the teenager's voice.

"Lucas, what are you up to?" Kristin asked firmly.

"Nothing much," Lucas said. "Just trying to help Q along a bit."

Kristin and Nathan looked at each other with wide eyes. Lucas knew. "Anyway," Lucas continued, "we figured you two needed some time together to get over your stubbornness. Dinner is waiting for you in the kitchen, along with a bottle of very nice wine that one of Dr. Westphalen's staff donated. And the doors are locked. You will be let out at 2400 hours."

"Lucas, you can't do that," Nathan said. "Open those doors right now, you cannot lock the captain up on his own boat!"

"If your worried about there being an emergency, I rigged it so that the doors will automatically open if we sound battle stations," Lucas said.

"Lucas. . ." Nathan began.

"Captain, Doctor, look, why don't you give it a chance? Everyone on this boat can see that you two could be really good for each other. In any case, stay there and enjoy dinner, and the company of a good friend. Have fun." Lucas broke the connection.

Nathan and Kristin let out identical sighs of frustration. Bridger tried calling the bridge next. "Hello?"

"Captain?" Ford's voice answered him. "How can I help you?"

"Ford? What are you doing on the bridge?" Nathan asked.

"I'm just finishing up, I stayed past my shift's end," Ford explained.

"Well, Commander, would you mind unlocking the mess doors? There seems to be a slight problem with them," Bridger said dryly.

"I see," Ford said. "Well, sir, if there's no emergency, most of the crew is off duty now, and the engineering crew is occupied with diagnostics at the moment. They'll be done in approximately 3 hours. Can it wait?"

Bridger glared at the intercom. His entire crew was conspiring against him. "I suppose it can, Commander."

"Alright, then, Captain. Have fun," Ford said, and quickly closed the channel.

Bridger shook his head. "I'll get them for this," he muttered.

Kristin just laughed. "You have to admit, Nathan, it is rather funny," she said.

"Funny? Locking the captain up is mutiny," Nathan said, but he had a smile on his face. "Since we seem to have a few hours, would you care to join me for dinner, Doctor?"

Kristin smiled. "I would be honored."

Dinner was very good, and the wine was better. After they finished dinner, Nathan and Kristin sat and talked, slowly working their way through the bottle of wine.

After a long stretch of silence, Kristin spoke up, bringing up the topic they had been avoiding all night. "First Q tries to bring us together, and then Lucas and the rest of the crew tries. You'd think they knew something we didn't," she said quietly.

Nathan sat there and looked at his wineglass for a long moment. "Well, maybe they do," he said, just as quietly. He looked up and met Kristin's eyes. After a long moment, she smiled and placed one of her hands on the table, palm up. Nathan smiled back and clasped her hand in his own.

----------------

Devon was shaken awake by a bleary-eyed True. "Hmn? True?" Devon said sleepily. "Oh, another nightmare?" True nodded. Devon sighed and got out of bed. "Here, sweetie," Devon said, guiding True to her cot. "Stay here for the rest of the night, I'll stay with your dad to make sure he's okay." True was too tired to argue. Devon left her tent and went over to John's tent. He was, of course, having another of Q's nightmares. //Q, I'm going to strangle you,// Devon thought as she knelt by John's cot. "Shh, John, it's okay," she whispered, stroking John's hair and gripping one of his hands. "I'm right here, I'm alright, you're just having a dream. It's okay." Devon continued talking softly to John until he finally slipped into regular sleep. When he did, Devon sighed and shook her head. This had to stop. Hoping that John would be all right for awhile, she left the tent and slipped out of camp.

"Q!" she said when she was a ways away from camp. "Get your sorry omnipotent butt over here right now, we have to talk." No Q. In her frustration, Devon let out a string of curses.

"Well, well," Q's voice came from behind her. Devon spun around to face him. "Such foul language from a lady of your class," he continued. "Pick that up from your mechanic?" Q smirked.

Devon grabbed Q by the collar of his ugly Hawaiian shirt – uglier than John's by far – and glared at him. "You said he wouldn't remember, you lying, no good. . ."

Devon stopped talking when Q disappeared from her grasp and reappeared in front of her, a few feet away. "I did not lie," Q said, returning her hard gaze. "He doesn't remember."

"What are the nightmares about, then?" Devon exclaimed.

"That's not my fault," Q said defensively. Devon just looked at him. "It's not," he protested again. Her expression didn't change. Q sighed and explained. "It's really not my fault. The human brain is just so mixed up it doesn't leave some memories alone."

"Q. . ." Devon warned.

"Alright, alright," Q acquiesced. "The human brain is, quite simply, the most twisted, backward thing in existence. For one, it never forgets anything you see, hear, or experience. You may not be able to recall it consciously, but it's there. Then you have the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the *normal* part of the human brain, it's susceptible to commands and suggestions like every other advanced mortal mind in the universe." Q adeptly ignored Devon's glare and continued. "When I 'suggest' that the conscious mind ignore a memory, it will. The subconscious mind, on the other hand. . ." Q shook his head. "Completely and totally unpredictable. Chaos, really. You can't control the damn thing at all, and believe me, I've tried."

"Q, what are you saying?" Devon asked, annoyed. "That he forgot, but he didn't forget? That you erased the memory, but you didn't? I thought you could do anything," she said sarcastically.

Q narrowed his eyes at her. "If I don't play by the rules, some of my fellow Q tend to get a bit upset with me. Now, since I seem to have to spell this out for you, Danziger's nightmares are happening because his subconscious mind stumbled upon the memory of you dying right in front of him, and it's decided to obsess over it. His conscious mind is listening to my suggestion and ignoring the fact that the memory is even there. Which is also why," Q continued talking over Devon's attempt to ask a question, "which is also why he won't wake up from the dreams. If he wakes up during the nightmare, then his conscious mind will remember at least part of it. Since that can't happen, he stays asleep."

Devon stayed silent for a moment. "So there's nothing you can do about the nightmares, is there?" Q shook his head no. "Why didn't you tell me all this before, when I asked you to make John forget?" she demanded.

"You weren't willing to listen to me at that point," Q said.

Devon glared at Q, but didn't pursue the subject. "Fine, whatever. What are you going to do about this?"

"Me?" Q asked.

"Yes, you, Q," Devon answered. "In case you've forgotten, this is all your fault. You have to fix it."

Q bristled. "I don't have to do anything."

"I think you do," Devon said, walking up to him. "Someone's making sure that you fix this mess you've created, aren't they? I know you're not doing this out of the goodness of your heart, believe me." Q looked at Devon, but didn't argue with that. Devon smirked, she knew she was right.

"You have 2 choices," Q said. "Leave things as they are or have John remember. There's nothing else I can do for you."

Devon bit the inside of her lip, considering. There was no way these nightmares could continue. She didn't want John to have to deal with what Q put him through, but there was no other choice. "All right. He'll have to remember."

"Fine," Q said. Remembering a suggestion from Amanda (that sounded suspiciously more like a threat than a suggestion), he continued. "And just to show that I'm not completely heartless, I'll even give you and him time to sort everything out, with no interruptions from anyone."

Devon looked at Q, confused. "Q, what are you talking. . ." a flash of light enveloped her and she found herself on a beach. "About," she finished, muttering to herself. John was sitting a few feet away from her, on the beach.

"What the. . ." John said, looking around. "Devon?" he asked, spotting her. He sighed. "Don't tell me Q's at it again."

"Not exactly," Devon said. Why hadn't John remembered yet?

"What?" John asked, wondering why Devon was staring at him.

"John? Do you remember what Q showed you?" Devon asked.

"What he showed me? You mean the fake visions?" John asked. He looked at Devon curiously.

"No, not that," Devon said. "I was talking about when he showed you my death," she continued quietly, looking intently at him.

John was initially still confused. "Your. . ." he started, and then it hit him. He remembered Devon collapsing, her death, trying to bring her back by performing CPR. . . It had all been another trick of Q's. "Oh. That."

Devon just looked at him for a moment. She had seen the moment that he had remembered, she had seen the emotions fly across his face, and then he got control of them and now this mask was in place. But she could still see the traces of emotions in his eyes. "I. . . I'm sorry, I thought it would be better if Q made you forget, but. . ."

Danziger interrupted her. "The nightmares," he said stonily.

Devon nodded. "He said he couldn't make them stop, so. . ."

"So you decided that I would have to remember," he said.

She nodded again, slowly. "Yes. John, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," he said, and they both knew he was lying. "I need to clear my head, I'm going for a walk."

"Do you want me to come along?" she offered.

"No," Danziger said. "No, I need to think, I'll be back later." With that, he quickly walked off, leaving her behind.

------------------

The sudden appearance of the house surprised Devon only for a few minutes. She supposed she was getting used to Q, though she didn't like that idea very much. The house was an old style, from the late 1900's, she guessed. The inside was furnished nicely, in a rustic, old-cabin-type style. The door opened to a hallway that led to a spacious living room with a few plush cushioned couches, coffee tables, and a few lamps around the room. There was a generously stocked kitchen off the living room with appliances that she recognized, for the most part, off the living room. There were two doors at the other end of the living room, one leading to the bathroom, and the other to the only bedroom. Thankfully, this one wasn't nearly as elaborate as the other one Q had created. After a time, she got hungry and decided that the food was safe to eat. She snacked on some unidentifiable fruits and vegetables while she wondered where John was. There didn't seem to be any clocks in the house, so she really had no idea how long he had been gone. But she knew that he had been gone longer than she liked. She ruled out going after him. He needed his space – she knew that. It didn't make the waiting any easier.

Devon waited, lounging on one of the couches, till after the sun had gone down. She finally heard the door creak open. Danziger walked in, looking around in interest. He spotted her on the couch and walked over, sitting at the end of the couch she was laying on. She sat up, drawing her feet under her. Devon searched her mind for something to say. She sensed that he wouldn't talk about Q showing him her death, not yet at least. "Did you have a good walk?" she finally asked him.

"Yeah, I did. There's a pretty nice cove a few hundred meters up the beach," John said.

Looking at him, Devon searched for any sign of what he was feeling. He was good at hiding his emotions, but she could read him pretty well, most of the time. Right now he looked better than he did when he first remembered, but she could still see a trace of hurt in his eyes. Aside from that, he looked like a man who had a lot on his mind, which was only natural. "Are you hungry?" Devon asked, standing up. "There's some food in the kitchen."

John stood up as well, moving towards the kitchen. "I'll go grab something, you don't need to bother."

"It's not, I'm hungry too," Devon said.

He turned around and looked at her. "You haven't eaten yet?"

Devon met his gaze. "I just snacked on some fruit. I was waiting for you."

"Oh," John said. "Well, let's see what we can find, then."

They made sandwiches for themselves and then sat on the stools and ate at the long counter that separated the kitchen and the dining room from the living room instead of sitting at the long oval table. They finished eating in silence. After dinner, they took their dishes to the sink. Danziger washed as Devon dried.

"So how long do you think Q will keep us here?" John asked as he handed a plate to Devon.

She took the plate and wiped it with the dishrag. "I'm not sure," she said. "It's up to him, I suppose."

"Yeah," John said. They finished the dishes and put them back where they had found them. "I think I'll get some sleep now, it is pretty late," he said.

"There's only one bedroom," Devon told him "You can take it if. . ."

"No, you go ahead, a couch will be fine for me," John said.

"Are you sure?" Devon asked. "I don't mind. . ."

"Devon, it's fine, the couches are still a whole lot more comfortable than what we usually have," he said, smiling at her.

She smiled back. "Alright. I'll get you some blankets." She went into the bedroom and brought back some blankets. They made up one of the couches together and then they stood there, looking at each other awkwardly. "I'll see you in the morning," Devon finally said.

"Night, Devon," John said.

Devon looked at him for a moment, and then said, "Goodnight, John," and turned and went into the bedroom.

----------------

The crash pulled Devon out of a very nice dream. She was initially disoriented, but then she remembered where she was and jumped out of bed and went to investigate. The source of the crash was sitting on the floor, rubbing his shoulder. "John, are you alright?" Devon asked, kneeling next to him and checking him over.

"I'm fine," John said.

It was then that Devon noticed his shakiness and his clenched fists. "You had a nightmare?"

John avoided her gaze. "Yeah, I did. I woke up and forgot where I was and. . . I fell off the couch."

Devon suppressed the urge to smile. "I can see that," she said. "Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," John said. "I'll deal with it." He swallowed, half hoping that Devon would leave so he could gather himself, half desperately hoping that she would stay until the feelings brought on by the nightmare left him.

The brush off hurt Devon, although she tried to hide that from John. He got up and sat on the couch; she joined him. She caught him staring at her as she settled onto the couch.

"What are you wearing?" he asked, seemingly unable to take his eyes off the place where her legs disappeared under the oversized dark green silk pajama top she was wearing. He didn't even notice her blushing.

"I, um, found it in the closet, the bottoms were too big for me," she said. She didn't add that the pajamas were probably meant for him, but she didn't think she had to. He was still looking at her. And she was still blushing. Damn. She drew her legs under her and swallowed to make sure her voice would be steady. "Are you sure you don't want to talk about it? I was there, John. I saw what you went through."

He looked up and caught her eyes. "Could you see. . . her?"

She shook her head. "No, none of us could. We caught onto what Q was pulling pretty quickly, though."

"So you all knew what was going on, huh," John said - a statement more than a question. He thought it over. It was hard enough to resolve the fact that what he saw wasn't real. To know that everyone saw it, and they knew what Q was doing to him. . . that was tougher. Especially knowing that Devon saw him - watched him as he . . . reacted to her death. He wondered what she thought of his reaction, but he couldn't ask.

"I wanted to kill Q for doing that to you," Devon broke the silence. She studied his expression. John stayed stone-faced and silent. Devon wanted to scream at him. Why wouldn't he let her in, let her help? She knew he was hurting, she could see it in his eyes despite that indifferent mask he wore. Damn him. //And why do you care so much that he's pushing you away, hmm? Why should he tell you everything he's feeling? // It's about me, I have a right to know! //That's not the real reason and you know it. // Devon shook herself. This was ridiculous, she needed to let John try and work it out for himself. She'd be here for him if he needed her, but she wouldn't push him. "Well, we should probably get back to sleep. You take the bed," Devon said.

"No, you take it, I'll be fine," John said.

"I have a better track record with these couches."

"You have no track record with these couches," he said, looking at her in semi-annoyance.

"Yes, and you've fallen off of them every time you've slept on one," Devon said. "Stop being so noble, John. Take the bed."

"Fine," John said, shaking his head and getting up. "I don't feel like arguing with you right now. I'll see you in the morning."

Devon caught his arm and squeezed his hand as he turned away, causing him to look down at her. "If you need to talk, John . . ." she let her offer trail off. John nodded and smiled slightly. She smiled in return. "Pleasant dreams, John," she said.

"Thanks, Dev," John said, giving her hand a final squeeze before disappearing into the bedroom.

Devon watched him go and lay down on the couch. Her eyes stayed open though, she couldn't get her mind to shut off. She finally gave up. She took one of the blankets, wrapped it around her shoulders, and went out on the porch. She stood there watching the waves crash on the sand with the solitary moon and the stars shining down at her. Looking up at the sky, she wondered where they were, exactly. It was then that the oddness of the situation really hit her. Here she was, standing on the porch of a house that was created by an omnipotent being (who wasn't very trustworthy). She was here with John, on a totally different *planet* than Uly and the rest of the group, and she couldn't stop thinking and worrying about John. She wasn't concerned that they were dependent on Q to get back, she was concerned that John was hurting. Devon had to sit down on the porch swing. She was more concerned about John right now than she was about being able to get back to her own son. *When* had that happened? When had John become as important to her as her own son? When did she start feeling so . . ? "Oh," Devon whispered, bringing a hand up to her mouth. //I'm in love with him. I love him.//

-------------------

Danziger lay on his back, staring up at the ceiling. //I am not going,// he told himself. //It is totally nuts. I'm not going out there.// He rolled over onto his side. Still the feeling wouldn't leave him. //This is crazy! Devon is asleep on the couch, I am not going out to check on her. It's just a stupid dream.// Danziger's reasoning wasn't working on his subconscious. He leaned on his elbow and punched the pillow. //I am not going out there. No way.//

The door barely creaked when Danziger opened it and stepped out of the bedroom. He stepped forward, just enough to catch sight of the couch. //There, see, Devon's. . . not asleep on the couch.// He stared at the empty couch for a minute. Wild ideas ran through his mind until his more reasonable side regained control. //Get a grip,// he told himself. //The blanket's gone, she's probably sitting outside or something.// John walked over by the window and looked out. //There, see, she's right there,// he told himself. //Now you can go back to sleep.// He didn't leave the window, though. He stood there, watching her sit on the motionless swing. //Ah, hell, I'm not going to get any sleep anyway,// he thought, walking to the door and stepping outside.

Devon looked up at him, startled by his appearance. "Um, hi," she said.

"Hi," he said, walking over to the porch swing and sitting down. "What are you doing out here?" he asked after a moment.

"Nothing much," Devon said, smiling briefly. "Stargazing, thinking." John just nodded and looked up at the sky. "What about you?" Devon asked.

He shrugged. "Couldn't sleep."

"Oh." Devon swallowed and looked away from John, back up to the sky. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "Do you. . . want to talk about it?"

John sighed and leaned back, causing the swing to rock gently back and forth. Devon didn't press him. She sat and watched the sky. The creaking of the swing blended with the crashing of the waves, while the wind through the trees added a soft counterpoint to the nighttime silence.

"It's different, you know?" he said. "It's not just some nightmare. It actually happened. I know it wasn't real, but. . . it's still. . . hard." Devon put a hand on his arm and John looked up. He held her gaze as he continued. "I remember every detail and I just can't manage to forget."

"It'll fade, John, it just needs time," Devon said softly.

He studied her face. The moon and stars shed only a faint light, and Devon's face was cast in shadows. Still he could pick out every feature, if only from memory. "I thought that putting you in cold sleep would be the worst. I figured if I got through that then I should be able to handle. . . everything else." John had to look away. "I was wrong. Seeing you. . . watching you die. . . it was worse. Much worse."

Devon tightened her grip on John's arm. She blinked at the moisture in her eyes and swallowed around the lump in her throat. "I'm not going anywhere, John."

He looked back up at her then. "You can't promise that," he said, but his eyes were hopeful, wanting to believe her words.

"No, I can't," she admitted. //Neither can you,// she added to herself.

John looked away, leaning back and setting the swing in motion again. Devon shifted closer to him and moved her hand down to grasp his. He didn't pull away. They sat with their hands clasped, looking out at the night.

"There's something I've been wanting to tell you," John said, breaking the silence. "I've been putting it off, but if I keep putting it off, I may not get the chance."

Devon's heart started beating faster and she felt like she wasn't getting enough air. "What is it, John?" she asked when he fell silent.

He turned and looked at her, studying her face. Devon gripped his hand tighter at the look in his eyes. John brought his other hand up and barely brushed Devon's hair. Then he let the hand drop to cover their joined hands, enfolding her hand in both of his. "I love you."

Devon's eyes watered and she smiled. "I love you too," she said.

FLASH!

Bright lights illuminated the night. Loud music and noise filled the air, and the peaceful silence fled in terror. As a shower of confetti and streamers rained down around them, Devon and John jumped up, setting the swing rocking furiously back and forth.

Q stood a few feet away, wearing a party hat and throwing more confetti into the air. "Congratulations!"

"Q!" Devon and John yelled in unison.

"Why there's no need to thank me," Q continued, "it was my pleasure!" He paused for a moment. "Well, not in the strictest sense of the word, but this has been an interesting diversion."

"What are you talking about?" Devon asked incredulously.

"Why, you're the last ones! Every one of the couples I chose have gotten together, thanks to me," Q said with a flourish. His satisfied expression faded as he noted Devon and John's lack of enthusiasm. "Haven't you been listening? Even Jean-Luc would crack a smile in this situation. I didn't think there could be anyone more serious than him in the cosmos."

Danziger just stared at the dense omnipotent being. "Q, go away."

The proverbial light bulb went off above Q's head. "Why of course," he said. A flash and the music, lights and confetti were gone, and Q stood slightly behind John, off to one side. "You want to be alone with her," he said in a low voice. "I understand. Good luck." Q glanced at Devon appreciatively, and before Danziger could do what he really wanted to, Q flashed out and the opportunity to strangle him was gone.

---------------------

"So what do you want for breakfast?" Devon asked, looking at the variety of food in the refrigerator.

"There's some oatmeal over here," John said, taking the container out of a cupboard.

Devon nodded and reached inside the fridge. "Okay, I'll cut up some of the melon in here."

"Why do I get the hard part?" John said as he got a pan out.

Devon looked over at him while she retrieved a knife from one of the drawers. "Oh, heating water and stirring in oatmeal is so very hard."

He raised an eyebrow at her. "It's harder than cutting up fruit."

"I have a knife, don't argue with me," she said, pointing said object in his direction.

John smirked and went over to the sink. "Yes boss."

"Watch it." Devon pointed the knife at him again, but she smiled. John smiled back and starting filling the pot with water.

"If you two don't mind, how about making a couple extra servings?"

The unexpected voice caused John to drop the pan, splattering water in the sink and onto the counter. When Devon turned to see who had spoken, she inadvertently brought the knife down on her finger. "Damn!" she swore, looking back to examine her injury.

"Dev, you okay?" John asked, going over to her.

"Nathan," Kristin chastised as she went around the counter separating the kitchen and the living room. She went over to Devon. "May I see?"

Devon held out her hand to her. "It's not bad," she said.

Kristin nodded in agreement. "It's just a small cut, it'll be fine." She glared at Nathan, who had joined them in the kitchen. "It could have been worse, though."

Nathan looked apologetic. Devon took the dishcloth John handed her and pressed it against her wound. "Oh, don't worry about it, I'm fine," she said, smiling at Nathan. "What are you two doing here?"

"Your guess is as good as mine. We went to sleep on SeaQuest, woke up here," Nathan said.

John glanced at Devon. "What is Q up to now?"

"Well, it looks like it involves all of us, what ever it is," Kristin noted. She nodded at Beverly and Jean-Luc. "Good morning."

"Morning," they answered.

"So has Q made his appearance yet?" Beverly inquired.

"Nope, we haven't seen him since last night," Danziger said. "And the longer he stays away, the better," he finished under his breath.

"Last night? How long have you two been here?" Bridger asked.

Devon and John exchanged a look. "Since yesterday . . . it's a long story," Devon said.

Chakotay and Kathryn joined the group. "I hope you all understand when I say I'm glad to see you but I wish I wasn't," Kathryn said, blearily taking a seat on one of the stools.

Chakotay leaned against the counter next to her. "So what's-"

"Q!" A scream came from the bedroom area, startling everyone in the kitchen.

"Jareth's here," Nathan said, recovering the fastest.

Jareth stormed into the kitchen area, Sarah trailing behind him. "Where is he?" he demanded. "Where is that. . ." Jareth trailed off into a string of expletives. Seeing that Q was not in the kitchen, Jareth went back to the living room. "Q, I demand that you show yourself!"

Sarah smiled apologetically at the group in the kitchen as Jareth continued swearing in the living room. "Q took his powers away again. Jareth's not taking it well." Danziger and Bridger both showed signs of amusement at Sarah's understatement.

"I suppose we should wait until he calms down to try and figure out what Q's up to now," Beverly said, watching Jareth's tirade. She sighed and shook her head when, after a minute, he showed no signs of stopping. She turned to John and Devon. "So do you need any help with breakfast?"

---------------------

Nathan sat on the couch next to Jean-Luc and watched Jareth. The irate Goblin King had stopped his tirade but was still pacing and mumbling under his breath. Nathan sighed and looked over to Danziger, who was trying to take apart a paperweight. It was an interesting paperweight, Nathan noted. It had a clear, smooth, spherical surface, with a pyramid inside that was made out of mirrors. There seemed to be some sort of internal light source that reflected off of the mirrors, but Nathan couldn't tell for sure from where he was sitting. Sighing, he turned to Jean-Luc. "So why are we sitting here again?"

"We're sitting here because there wasn't enough room in the kitchen for all of us," Jean-Luc said.

"And we can't go outside because . . .?"

"Because breakfast is almost ready," Jean-Luc said. "And because Sarah asked us to make sure Jareth didn't break anything."

"Ah, yes, Mr. Congeniality," Nathan said, looking at Jareth who was still pacing and mumbling angrily. "So how come we're stuck out here and not them?" he nodded toward the women in the kitchen.

"Because they're cooking," Jean-Luc said.

"We'd better hope Kathryn isn't cooking," Chakotay said. "Unless of course we plan on serving that dish to Q. Whenever he shows up."

"And tells us what he has planned for us this time," Nathan added.

"Ah, ah," Danziger broke into the conversation, "you know we're not supposed to discuss Q's reasons for bringing us all here until we're all together," he looked up at Jareth, "and capable of coherent discussion."

"Who's discussing?" Nathan protested. "I was just making a comment. Besides, who says we can't discuss it?"

"They do, remember?" Danziger said, indicating the kitchen full of women.

"They don't care if we talk about it," Nathan said, "and how would they even know?" Chakotay, Jean-Luc, and Danziger just looked at him. Nathan sighed. "So how's the weather around here?"

-----------------------

"So you two have been here for a while?" Beverly asked Devon and John.

Devon nodded. "Q sent us here yesterday." Devon glanced at John and he nodded. She gave a brief explanation about John's nightmares and what happened to bring them here.

Bridger glanced over at John. Sensing that the man really didn't want any questions about the memory he recently regained, Nathan asked, "So that explains why you're here, but what about the rest of us?"

"That's easy, he's gloating because he thinks he got all of us together," Danziger said.

Before anyone could even react to that, Q appeared with his customary flash of light. "I protest," he said, "I did not bring you all here to gloat."

"Why are we here, then?" Jean-Luc asked.

"I was just so happy that I decided to do something nice for all of you," Q said. "Is that so hard to believe?"

"Yes!" every person in the room answered in unison.

"And kidnapping is not considered a nice thing to do, Q," Kathryn added.

Jareth walked up to Q. "Give me back my magic."

Jareth's demand barely earned a glance from Q before he looked at Kathryn. "I did not kidnap you," he said.

"That's debatable." Q glared at Bridger for interrupting him and then continued.

"I'm giving you all a vacation," he said. "Two weeks, undisturbed."

"Q, I demand that you-" Jareth's demand was overlooked again as Chakotay interrupted.

"Undisturbed? You mean you're going to leave us alone for two weeks?" he said. No one except Sarah noticed Jareth stomp his foot in frustration.

"Q, we can't be away from Voyager for that long," Kathryn said, shooting a glance at Chakotay.

"Oh, lighten up, Kathy," Q said. "You won't be away at all. No time will pass in your universe while you're here. At least, not noticeable to humans."

"What's the catch?" Danziger said.

"There's no catch."

"Q," Jareth tried once again.

And failed. "Come on, Q," Chakotay said. Sarah looked over at him and wondered how he could be oblivious to the glare Jareth was aiming at him. "There's always a catch," Chakotay continued. "Just tell us what you're up to."

"I'm not up to anything," Q exclaimed. "You humans are so suspicious."

"I am not human and I demand you give me my magic back NOW!" Jareth yelled, drawing everyone's undivided attention. "Finally," he said under his breath.

"You're not getting your magic back," Q said.

"What?!" Jareth said.

"You're going to stay here for two weeks and enjoy yourself, and you are not going to have your magic," Q said, watching Jareth fume.

"That is unacceptable."

"I'll be on my way now," Q said, "Everyone, enjoy yourselves, I'll be back in two weeks."

"You will give me back my magic!"

"Nope," Q said.

"Q, if you're trying to do something nice, stranding us with him in his current mood" Kristin said, pointing to Jareth, "is not a good start."

Nathan nodded. "I second that."

"He'll only cause trouble if he has his magic," Q said.

"He won't cause any trouble, I promise," Sarah said, speaking before Jareth could say anything.

Q looked doubtful. "You can't use your magic to try to leave." Jareth nodded in agreement. "Or against anyone here."

"I give you my word, now return my magic," Jareth said through clenched teeth.

"Oh, all right," Q said. He waved his hand. "There, it's done. Everyone, enjoy your vacation." And in a flash of light, he left the room.