Lovers and Angels

Hard to call this a slash story when it mostly deals with a man accepting the fact that his lover is actually a giant cloud of energy. :-) Has no sex and probably not much plot either. Just a vignette.

Lovers and Angels

Amazing, how the same experience can be both absurd and sublime.

Absurd- I am standing on the hull of the saucer section of my own ship, watching stars flash past as we sail through them at low warp. The subspace field around us distorts the stars, making them flow like streaks of liquid fire. I stand here, on the hull, warm and breathing in cold airless space, and I lift the glasses to my head, dark glasses etched with microcircuitry to display all the electromagnetic spectrum, similar to Geordi's VISOR.

Absurd, and sublime.

Ready, Semele?

the voice in my head asks, rich and dark, half-mocking, half indulgent.

That's hardly my name, Q. And you are no Zeus.

I was always more partial to Hermes, myself.

And the light... appears.

Not a flash of light, bright and then fading, but a cloud of light, a river of light, flanking the Enterprise and keeping pace with her easily. The cloud is an iridescent white glow, far larger than Enterprise, perhaps the length of a sun's diameter. Perhaps much larger. It's impossible to tell how far away the cloud is, impossible to tell scale in space. Rather than a spherical cloud, it is shaped vaguely like a giant ellipse, but irregular, attenuated in some places and bulging with density in others. With the glasses on, I can see what lies within the cloud- a tightly woven pattern, a tapestry made of lines of energy, shimmering and flexing within the cloud.

It is beautiful.

It is beyond beautiful.

I stare with shielded eyes into the heart of what might as well be a sun, at the pattern that dances and flickers within the cloud. A perverse sense of physical longing comes over me, a wish to fall into the center of that being and merge with it, be carried with it, melt into its fire and flow into and throughout it. The feeling isn't focused in my genitals, but has the intensity of a sexual desire, a hunger. I push the feeling aside as nonsensical, but in a sense it reassures me. I know desire for this being when it wears the form of my species, but the idea of loving an illusion- even an illusion as paradoxically real as Q's human form- galls me. I needed this. I needed to know that I could look at the true face of the alien I have come to care for, though I don't know if I would go so far as to call it love, and see sentient life there, let alone an object of beauty and desire. I don't know what I expected- a faceless glow, a sphere of light? This is different. As stunningly beautiful as a nebula or a star, but with a personality.

Part of the shimmering pattern within the cloud dances, and I hear laughter. Ah, Jean-Luc. You really know how to flatter an entity.

"Stop fishing for compliments by reading my mind. I'll tell you you're beautiful to your face... well, to whatever part of you I happen to be facing, anyway. What part am I facing, or is there a distinction?"

No distinction. What use would I have for a back side? I can see you from every part of my essence, Jean-Luc.

I think of the ancient Hebrew vision of the cherubim, a ball of wings and eyes. Rilke's "First Elegy" comes to mind-

"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?
and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying."

It seems very fitting, yet far more hopeless than my situation. Perhaps Rilke needed only to ask the angel nicely. Perhaps he should have told the angel he needed it.

So I'm an angel now? What an intriguing switch. Usually dualistic religions put me at the other end of the pantheon.

"Lucifer was the brightest of angels before he fell. And I like envisioning you as a bright ball of wings and eyes. Total freedom of movement, and all-seeing."

Careful, Jean-Luc. I don't want to make a convert here. The Church of Q was disbanded millennia ago for boring me.

"Q, I've seen you whining because you thought your clothes were an ugly color. Believe me, I'm in no danger of worshipping you," I reply acerbically. But the sight before me is too breathtaking, too awe-inspiring, for me to maintain such defenses very strongly. I can't stop smiling at the vision before me. "I merely think you're beautiful."

Oh. Well, that's all right, then.

Q rolls, turning sideways, elongating and contracting, and I laugh out loud. Q's preening, showing off Qself. The behavior is so very unlike what one might expect an ineffable cloud of incomprehensible energies to engage in, and so very much like Q. Absurd, and sublime.

I almost think Q might have been genuinely frightened that I would disapprove of what I saw, when I asked to see this. Little chance of that. This is something I needed to see, to know, before I proceeded any further with this relationship. The sneering, sardonic, dark-haired man I have come to know is not a reality. He's not exactly an illusion- I have some difficulty wrapping my brain around it, but Q explains that when he takes human form, he is human, just a human who's also Q. His people are simply among the best shapeshifters in existence, who can simultaneously be themselves and the species they choose to mimic. But I needed to see this, to see Q's true form.

You understand, this really isn't it either. You can't see the part of me that's connected to the Continuum, because it doesn't exist on this plane and can't be changed to a form that's visible here without some analogy, some translation going on. And normally, most of my essence isn't located in your universe, available to your perceptions, at all. I've manifested my full pattern and dopplered myself down to an energy frequency your eyes and those glasses I gave you can see, that's all.

"Of course. But this is the closest to your true form I'm capable of seeing, even with mechanical aid, isn't that right?"

Pretty much.

"I almost think I like you better this way. In human form you seem almost too human."

Do a human a big favor and immediately they start grossly insulting you. I should have blasted you like Semele, you know.

"Then who would you have to torment?"

Good point. There are plenty of other humans I could go pester, but none of them are quite so- so-

"Challenging? Infuriating? Intriguing?"

I was going to say bald, but those too.

I laugh again. "You are absurd."

And you're insufferable. I can hear your teeny tiny mortal mind gloating so loudly it's a wonder Troi doesn't become possessed and start chanting, "Neener neener neener, I have an angelic energy being the size of a solar system for a lover and yoooouuuu dooon't" at people.

"I should hope Deanna would be a bit better than that at blocking me out," I say, trying desperately not to laugh at the image. "You think I'm gloating, merely because I tell you you're glorious?"

Of course you are. What an arrogant little mortal you are, to stare into the heart of something ineffable and sublime, and think to yourself what a vastly superior little mortal you must be, because this essence of power, this force within the universe, cherishes you personally.

"Well." I shrug. "Guilty as charged, I fear, but it doesn't help that said sublime and ineffable entity really does cherish me personally. Or so I've been told, by a god, and I hear it's rude to doubt them."

The mental voice is accompanied by laughter. Very rude. You were wise.

And then Q vanishes, the glorious panorama of energy before me disappearing, and reappears behind me in human form, not-quite- illusory not-quite-real arms around me. "I'm tired of being ineffable and sublime," he says, almost whispering in my ear. "Flattering as the paeans to my glory might be, I've heard them all before. I almost prefer you to tell me to get off your ship."

"My feelings for you haven't changed simply because I've seen your true form," I protest. "I'm no Semele to be blasted by your glory, Q. But what would be the point to a relationship with a god if it doesn't force me to stretch my brain, to try to encompass as many contradictory multitudes as you can contain? If I can make sarcastic banter with the visage of a Rilke angel, perhaps I might be able to put up with the rest of your contradictions." I turn to look at him. "Isn't that one of the things you told me I was out here to explore? The capacities of the human mind?"

"You have me there." He smiles in that half-sardonic, half-embarrassed way he does when I win a round in one of our verbal sparring matches. "But I heard you fantasizing about merging with me, and frankly, you're not ready yet. Perhaps someday. In the meantime there's much to be said for simple human warmth."

Indeed he has a point, but it's strange to hear that particular point from this particular being. "I think if anyone had ever told me I'd hear such a thing from your lips in the early days of our interactions, I would have thought them mad."

"I think if anyone had told you any of this, you'd have thought them mad. And probably I would have, too." His human form, deliberately and annoyingly chosen to be significantly taller than mine, bends to kiss me on the top of the head. I find this annoying and patronizing, and pull him down.

"Get us inside, Q. The last thing I need is someone running hull diagnostics right now."

"And what if your oh-so-conscientious scientists inspect the scans Enterprise was making of me, and ask you what you know about it? Will you hide the truth from them?"

I'll tell them it was the angel that pressed me against his heart,

I think at him, smiling. "Why would I? If you ask me not to tell them, I shan't, but otherwise I see no problem with telling them that was you. Explaining you as a stellar phenomenon is considerably less difficult than explaining why I was kissing you on the hull."

"Whereas kissing me in your quarters is much easier to explain."

"Not really, no, but it's much more private. No one runs scans on my quarters."

And then the world disappears and reappears in a bright light. "Better, mon capitaine?"

"Much."

Notes:

The legend of Zeus and Semele: Semele was the mother of Dionysus. She was tricked by Hera into binding Zeus to a promise that he would appear to her in his full glory, and was blasted to ash by his power. Zeus rescued the unborn Dionysus from her ashes.

Rainer Maria Rilke's "Duino Elegies: The First Elegy" is translated from the German by Stephen Mitchell.

The central concept of this story was inspired by reading Lindsey Shelton's "Love At First Q", a fanzine published by Margaret Basta. I got the dark glasses from there as well. However, my vision of what Q really looks like is mine; everyone else seems to envision glowing balls of light a la every other Trek energy being.


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