Warning: fluff, and so sacharine it'll rot yer teeth. Q/picard, and wholly unashamed of the fact.
Do not own, and have never owned or thought to own. Just indulging a momentary urge. Enjoy.
A Far Distant Star
Picard sighed, placing his cup down gently before turning. So much for his tea-break. "What is it now, Q?" he started, before he turned fully and caught sight of the entity, standing by the window with an expression of almost panic on his face, and an unconscious Deanna Troi in his arms.
For what felt like an eternity, Jean-Luc just stared. What the devil ...? Then he snapped himself out of it, hand going automatically to his comm-badge. Q waved a frustrated hand and the thing blinked out of existence. "If your Doctor Crusher could help, Jean-Luc, I'd have gone straight there!" the panicked entity snarled, holding Troi one-armed in a way completely impossible to anyone bound by the laws of gravity. "Physically, she's fine. Dandy. Couldn't be better!"
"Q, calm down," Picard snapped, stepping forward to take his crewwoman from the alien's unresisting arms. He grunted under her weight, but laid her in his chair as gently as possible, checking her pulse to reassure himself that Q was telling the truth. Her heart beat steadily, her breathing even and calm beneath the veil of unconsciousness. Picard stared at her for a moment, before standing to confront the entity responsible.
"Q, I think you had better explain what has happened," he commanded softly, and the steel in his voice was unmistakable. Q met his eyes defiantly for a second, then looked away in shame.
"I never intended to hurt her. I was just visiting, discussing a few theories, giving her pointers on how to fool her mother's telepathic nose, the usual." Q's voice was sullen.
Jean-Luc blinked. "You do this often?" he asked, incredulous, and a little hurt that Q would come to the ship and not come to him. He brushed that aside furiously.
Q shook his head. "Not at all, mon capitaine. Only this once. She was frustrated, and I was ... sympathetic, I suppose. And curious. Can't an entity show up to do a friend a favour?" His voice went to its typical petulent register. Picard frowned.
"I didn't know you considered Counsellor Troi a friend. And if your favours end like this ..." He gestured pointedly to Deanna's prone form, and Q looked away. "What happened, Q? What's wrong with her, and why the hell haven't you fixed it!?"
The entity flinched from his tone, and looked at his feet. This display of shame was so very unlike Q that Picard began to feel very nervous. What could the entity possibly have done that would cause him to drop his oh-so-callous facade in front of Picard?
"It was an accident," Q muttered. "I'm used to dealing with minds far more powerful and robust than hers. I was just showing her how to raise a block, and lower it, and I forgot and lowered mine too far. And she ... saw."
"Saw what?!" Picard practically snarled in frustration. Then Q looked up at him, and the fear and regret in his eyes was so real that the captain paused.
"Me," Q whispered. "She saw me, or at least a glimpse of me. Of what I really am. And it almost destroyed her, almost crushed her mind entirely."
Picard paused, and tried to think his way around that. "Why didn't it?" he asked, reasonably enough, but Q didn't seem to think so. The entity whirled away to glare angrily out the window.
"Do you really think I'd let that happen, Jean-Luc!" he snapped. "It didn't destroy her because I didn't let it! I locked myself back away, and stole the memory of infinity before her mind could devour itself trying to encompass it. She won't die, and I fixed the brain damage immediately."
"Brain damage!" Picard burst out.
"Of course!" Q swung back to stare incredulously at him. "Organic minds aren't built to hold that kind of information! What would you expect?"
Picard waved that aside, after a shocked moment of realisation, that Deanna had almost died, unbeknowst to all of them, not minutes earlier. It hit him hard, though.
"If you fixed the damage, then what's wrong with her?"
Q looked away again. Picard was getting very tired of the entity avoiding his gaze, and fought down the urge to snap at him. "Well ... There are rules, you see. I could take away that knowledge, because of the physical and mental damage it did, but she did see through my blocks, fair and square, so she'd entitled to some of what she saw, and I'm forbidden to try and remove it, you see."
"Q, what the devil are you babbling about?!"
The entity's head shot up to glare at him in angry defiance. "She's an empath," he gritted out. "She feels emotions. The knowledge she took, I can take back with impunity, but the emotions she felt from me are hers now, and there's nothing I can do about it! She won them, same as any Q who broke my barriers would, and by our laws I can't take them back. And I think they're destroying her! Does that make it clear to you, mon capitaine!?"
There was a moment of silence, then Picard nodded. "Alright," he said calmly. "What do you need me to do?"
Q slumped slightly in relief. "It's simple really," he started. "She just needs someone to talk too, as soon as possible. It doesn't work that way with Q, but for you mortals, sharing the problem really does seem to lessen it. She just needs ... not to be alone. She needs a friend and you ..."
"Yes?" Jean-Luc asked, a bit bemused by Q's sudden apparent faith in his counselling abilities. The entity shifted nervously, a shadow of something fearful flitting over his face.
"She has to tell someone, and if she has to reveal what she felt from me to anyone, I'd ... I'd rather it was you, Jean-Luc. At least I can trust you." Seeing Picard's rather stunned pleasure at that statement, Q hurriedly waved a dismissive hand. "You're slightly more intelligent than the rest of these cretins, anyway."
Picard rapidly hid his smile, reminding himself sternly of the gravity of the situation. "Why is she asleep?"
Q frowned. "I put her into dreamless sleep until I could get her here, so it couldn't do any more damage than it already had. I can wake her up at any time."
Jean-Luc nodded. "Then lets get on with this."
There was no warning, no flash of light. Q was subdued. The only sign that anything had changed was the sigh as Deanna moved into consciousness. Picard moved instantly to her side, and she blinked up at him as everything that had happened caught up with her. Her gaze darted sideways to Q's defiant, worried face, then back to her captain. And before he could do anything at all, before he could really think, her face seemed to collapse into itself, and she was sobbing. Picard automatically reached out to hold her, and she buried her face in his chest.
Some time later, which Jean-Luc couldn't measure and had no interest in checking, she pulled herself together and sat back, wiping at her cheeks in angry, shaking jabs. He reached up to catch her hands and stop the motion, and she froze, staring at him.
"So," she murmured after a brief silence. "What now?"
Picard glanced at Q, who stared back impassively. "Well ..." he started, uncertainly, then abruptly decided to be frank. "Q thinks the best thing to do would be you telling me about it, and we see where we go from there."
Deanna looked at Q in shock. "But ... these are your secrets, Q! I couldn't ..."
"It's your mind!" he snapped back, harshly, and turned his back on them. "I won't be responsible for you going insane, or worse. I trust you and Jean-Luc enough to know you won't spread anything around. And if you do not tell him, and try to deal with it yourself, I will take it from you, and the Continuum be damned!"
Deanna stared helplessly at his angry back, and glanced at Picard for help. He shrugged. "If Q says he's willing to get in trouble with the Continuum again, I'd believe him. He doesn't usually have all that much respect for rules."
"It's more than a rule, captain," she said softly. "If the Q laws are like that of most telepathic cultures', then what he's suggesting would be viewed as something akin to rape, even if it is for my own good. If he were Betazoid, then he could be killed, or at least exiled. The Q, I think, would be far more imaginative."
"Then it is obviously in both our best interests that you tell Jean-Luc and not force the issue!" Q snapped, before Picard could say anything, and whirled around to glare at them, his arms crossed stiffly over his chest.
Picard shared a resigned glance with Deanna, who nodded slowly. She looked down at her knees for a long moment, steadying herself, while Jean-Luc sat back on the edge of his desk, close enough, he hoped, to be a comforting presence, while at the same time giving her space to calm herself. Q, conversely, strode over to stand by the window, distancing himself. Jean-Luc supposed he couldn't blame him. Finally, Deanna took a deep breath, and looked up.
"I don't know how to describe it, captain. It was for only a moment, because I collapsed under the force of it, and Q ... went away. Not physically, but mentally. I mean, he knew he'd done something to me, accidentally or not, and all he could think off was to get as far from me as possible and hope that it undid the damage. It wasn't that he was abandoning me, it was that he sensed that his presence was the thing doing the damage, and he left as fast as possible."
"I understand," Picard reassured her. "He doesn't usually understand when he's doing something hurtful, but once he does, he tries to fix it immediately." He shot a reproachful glance at Q, who looked away again. "You're probably lucky that he divined the cause of your distress correctly. I imagine that him trying to physically help you, or mentally for that matter, would not have ended well."
Deanna shuddered. "No. Just to think of it ... If he had touched me, the link would have been so strong, my mind would probably have fractured under the stress, or been obliterated entirely. He doesn't open himself as a telepath, and he acts so completely human in most respects, so I keep forgetting that underneath that, he is still for all intents and purposes a god."
Jean-Luc started at that. "I beg your pardon," he barked, not entirely intentionally. Q wasn't a god. In no way, shape or form could Q be God. He pointedly ignored the entity's rather gratified expression across the room.
"I'm sorry, captain," Deanna murmured soothingly. "That wasn't exactly what I meant. But however you look at it, Q has been alive for billions of years, has seen and done things we can't even begin to imagine, let alone comprehend at any level, and is used to casually wielding the kind of power that most mythological figures could only aspire to. His mind is ... immense, on all levels. But it's more than that. Even with all that knowledge crammed into one mind, it still should not be able to so completely overwhelm me. But his ... his identity does. His sense of self, his passion and will and instinct, are all intense on a scale to beggar meaning. His emotions, his personality, are billions of years old. I felt the edges of the universe in him, and more. It's ... incredibly, mind-destroyingly vast. And it's all him. It's not just his memory of things that big. He, the entity that is Q, is that big, that wide, that deep. And that only makes what I felt from him all the more terrible."
Jean-Luc leaned forward, frowning, and laid a hand gently on her arm. "I don't understand," he admitted softly.
Deanna looked up at him, and there was such a wealth of sadness in her eyes that Jean-Luc almost recoiled on instinct, and without fully understanding why, felt an incredible urge to find whoever had put it there and introduce them to the wrong side of an airlock.
"Do you believe in souls, captain?" she asked quietly. He was taken aback, but nodded, bemused. "To a Betazoid, the soul is a very real thing, captain. When we touch each others' minds, there is always a part, indefinable, that has nothing to do with emotion and knowledge, and everything to do with self. A part that is simply, irrevocably and incontrovertibly self. That is what we equate with the human idea of 'soul'. What Q's mind was almost destroyed my mind, but what he felt almost destroyed my soul."
"What was it?" Jean-Luc whispered. Deanna was staring off into the distance, eyes blind as she considered the memory of something beyond Jean-Luc's comprehension, and Q had turned away to glare at the darkness, obviously dreading what she needed to say. Then she turned back to him.
"I felt infinity and eternity," she said. "I felt five billion years stretching out behind me, and all the infinity of space stretching out around me, and all the rest of eternity stretching out before me, and I knew, soul-deep, I knew," and her voice throbbed with pain, "that nowhere, and nowhen, in all the vastness, was there a single person who cared. Not one."
Q's hand thudded softly into the wall, his head tucked resolutely into his chest so that Jean-Luc couldn't see his face, couldn't see his pain.
Tears slid unnoticed down her cheeks. "That was what he felt, in that fraction of an instant, captain, and that's what he's felt every moment of his life, so much that he barely noticed, the way we would feel a pang of old sorrow and shelve it. Can you imagine it, captain? Could you imagine knowing, feeling, and intimately understanding all of existence, and knowing that you had no meaningful place in it? At all? Can you imagine living under those conditions?"
Mutely, Jean-Luc shook his head, and his gaze softened as it rested on Q's rigidly taut shoulders. Deanna continued, obviously unable to halt the revelations pouring out of her. Touching this had wounded something deep inside her, and talking about was helping.
"It wasn't loneliness, captain. It was so much bigger ... We don't have a concept for what that feeling is. It crushed me. It's still crushing me. I keep wanting to run to everyone I know, everyone I care for, and pull them close to me, into me, whatever I can do to feel them there, feel them close to me, to reassure myself that I am known and loved and cared for. I want to make a small bright space for them and me, and never, ever let all that emptiness touch them. And that was from a fraction of a second, the barest glimpse of a feeling that wasn't even mine! How can he live with it? All the time? With no relief? With no-one to run to, ever?"
Her voice filled with anguished frustration, then stopped. She seemed to realise how uncharacteristically she was acting, and how deeply it was affecting the captain, and paused to calm herself, and pull herself together. It was unlike her to raise her voice, or to display so much of what she herself was feeling. It was obvious then to Jean-Luc just how truly she had meant what she said about the depth of the effect it had on her. He could see, just a little, how it had almost destroyed her.
"I want to help him, captain," she said softly, looking at her knees. "I want to help you, Q. I want to take that pain away, to find some way of making that knowledge a lie. But I don't know that I can. Any gesture I make seems so ... pointless, in the face of the sheer ... enormity of that loneliness. What can any mortal do, in the face of that?"
"You'd be surprised," a voice drawled softly from the window. Jean-Luc turned to frown at him as Q stepped catfooted into the room, and approached Deanna. He seemed to have gained control of his more obvious distress, replacing it not with the usual mask of flippant disinterest, but something undefinable. Whatever it was, he was not shielding it, because Deanna shied slightly in reaction, then paused in wonder.
Q knelt on the floor beside her chair, taking her hand in both of his with that casual intimacy that he refused to realise was inappropriate, an intent look in his eyes. Then he smiled, and flicked his eyes knowingly towards the window. Both Deanna and Jean-Luc followed the gesture.
"Look at it," Q whispered softly, almost proprietorially. "Look out there, and tell me what you see." He looked back, vaguely teasing. "Go on, don't be shy."
Deanna gave him a weak facsimile of a disapproving frown, then her face cleared, and she looked back outside. "Stars," she said. "I see the stars."
"Really?" Q drew the word out, making it a challenge. She turned, the frown back on her face.
"Yes. What else should I see?"
"You don't see the emptiness? You don't see the blackness between your precious stars?" Q mocked. Deanna flinched, a profound fear sliding into her eyes, twisting through her being. Jean-Luc started roughly forward, to pull Q away from her. Dammit, she'd only a minute ago said she wanted to help Q! He'd no call to hurt her!
But Deanna forstalled him. "Yes," she whispered. "I see it."
"Oh good," Q continued, caustically. "I should hate to think that you'd failed to realise its existence. You are, after all, sitting in a sea of it. Think about it. Right here, right now, you are surrounded on all sides by blackness." His voice changed, deepened into a purr of silken menace. "A void, cold and hungry, and so very, very empty. Can you feel it, waiting out there? When all that separates you from it is this flimsy shell of metal and energy. Because, really, that's all that shields you from the darkness, isn't it?" His voice was almost gentle, his hands soothing hers. Then he gripped them tightly, urgency and demand flooding his tone. "Isn't it?"
"Stop it, Q!" Jean-Luc couldn't contain himself, but Q was relentless.
"You know that. Every mortal who has ever trusted themselves to a spaceship has known that. Every single one of you has known, going up, that you walk in the void, that you are stepping out into the nothingness, that you are trusting yourselves to the waiting emptiness, and that if your flimsy shields fail you, you will be swallowed by it. You will die, alone and silent, minds howling into the empty darkness. You know it!"
Deanna was crying, tears sliding one after another down her cheeks, but she kept looking at Q, and there was something beyond the fear in her eyes, a kind of desperate sympathy, a desire to comfort, and Jean-Luc knew suddenly that she was touching Q, empathically, somewhere far beyond what he could understand. She nodded, defeated once again by the nameless feeling she touched in Q, the emptiness that nothing she had to offer could dent.
Suddenly, Q smiled, gently, reprovingly. He reached up to brush away her tears with a thumb, so he could rest his hand on her cheek. "And yet," he murmured, "knowing all that, when you look out there, the first things you see are still the stars."
She blinked down at him, confused, and Q threw his head back in exasperation, a sneaky smile counteracting the wry wisdom in his eyes. He shook his head. "I will never understand you people!" he sighed, and took his hand off her cheek to unfurl it in a dramatic gesture at the window. "You even have a name for the problem, yet you don't see it in yourselves. You 'can't see the woods for the trees'. You're so relentlessly focused on those tiny, individual specks of light, those insignificant little things, that you purposely blind yourselves to what they sit in. You can't see the darkness for the light, even when it is so obviously greater. It's the same with all humanoids. You're so focused on the prizes ahead that you completely miss the great big chasm at your feet."
He settled back on his haunches, shaking his head in bemused exasperation. "Oh, the stories I could tell you about that!" he chuckled. "You wouldn't believe the amount of idiots I've come across!" He indulged himself in a contemptuous snicker, then reigned himself in. "But where was I? Oh, yes." He sobered, staring up at her with every appearence of grave seriousness.
"That's what you people gave me, you know. I may be the laughing-stock of the Continuum, with my foolish obsession with you mortals, but in your idiocy you've given me something that all the knowledge and wisdom of the Q never could. You see, the Q don't have the ability to look out at the void and see stars. They just see what's in front of them, the chasm at their feet, not the prize at the end. They don't strive to bridge the gap. They don't have goals. If a Q wants something, they make it, and if they can't make it, they pretend they never wanted it. The Q," he concluded, "do not have the ability to hope."
Deanna raised her head, realisation dawning. Q nodded up at her. "I may be living in the void," he said softly. "I may have seen 5 billion years, and all of space, and have nothing to show for it. But you've shown me that, sooner or later, if I wait long enough, there will be a star." His gaze flickered ever so briefly to Jean-Luc. "Sooner or later, there will be someone in all that vastness who does care, no matter how briefly. If I just keep looking, there will be a light in the darkness, and it will be worth the finding, worth the wait. No matter how long it takes."
His head was bowed as his voice faded, bent under the enormity of what he proposed, the infinity that lay between him and his goal. But he had stated his intentions and, as he was so fond of saying, Q never went back on his word. Deanna stared at him for a long while, consideringly, then tugged her hands out from under his. Blinking, he looked up, and she caught his chin.
"Q," she said, in her most professional counsellor's voice, "I believe I know what your problem is. I should have seen it sooner." He raised his eyebrows, and she smiled. "You, Q, are a hopeless romantic." He straightened in affront. "There's nothing I can do for you, I'm afraid. You're too far gone. Before you know, other symptoms will emerge. Poetry. Flowers. The irrepressible urge to spread peace and goodwill."
Q pulled his chin free and stood up in a huff. "You try and help someone!" he huffed. "The thanks I get! I am the most underappreciated creature in the universe, I'll warrant!" But he was smiling as he helped her to her feet, and flashed a pristine white handkerchief into his hand so he could mop judiciously at her face. As Jean-Luc watched, the arrogant features softened, the swipes of the cloth became gentle, and something like regret slipped into the entity's eyes.
"I am sorry, you know," he said. "I never meant to show that to you. I never meant to harm you." His voice dropped, became almost inaudible. "Any of you."
She reached up to take his hands in hers, gently, as if she were afraid to hurt him. "Q," she said softly. "Maybe, once in a while, you should tell people you care. Maye you should let them know that you're lonely." She turned him gently to face Picard, who blinked in confusion even as Q tried to turn back in panic. But now Deanna was relentless, and though Q could have flashed himself away, or her, or any of a thousand other options, he didn't. Perhaps he felt he owed her. "All the power and games in the universe won't help you if you can't do that," she finished softly, backing away.
Q stared in panic at Jean-Luc, his hands fluttering in the air between them like agonised butterflies. "I didn't show you that!" he muttered. "I never told you that!"
Jean-Luc was too busy letting realisation hit him over the head to look at Deanna, but the laughter in her voice got through even to him. "Q, everyone on this ship with any perception at all has known that for ages! We all knew you cared about him. The only ones who didn't were the pair of you!"
Her voice softened, became just a little sad. "You're both too lonely for your own good. Q, if your loneliness alone was almost strong enough to break me, don't you think you should probably do something about it? Before it gets too big even for you to handle? And you, captain?"
Even as she tried to reason with them, her every word seemed to panic Q more, but Picard ignored the byplay. Realisation and determination were crystallising in his chest, and he suddenly felt more than a little stupid. An obtuse piece of evolutionary flotsam, indeed. Because in all the universe, you're the closest thing I have to a friend, Jean-Luc. If she has to reveal what she felt from me to anyone, I'd rather it was you, Jean-Luc. At least I can trust you.
Decision made, Picard straightened to look Q in the eye. The entity froze. "This, ah, may be a little late," Jean-Luc began, smiling ruefully, "but ... I love you too, Q. I think that's what our esteemed Counsellor is angling at." Q didn't move, didn't blink. For a ridiculous moment, Picard wondered if he'd turned himself into a statue. You could never tell with Q. But the all-powerful entity wasn't quite still, and it took Jean-Luc a few seconds to realise that Q was trembling ever so slightly. Deanna was silent, slipping unobtrusively to the door, but not quite leaving. Not yet.
"I ... Well, I ..." Never particularly eloquent when it came to emotions, Jean-Luc was floundering badly. Q, still wavering in front of him like a distressed mirage, was no help at all. "I mean, you'll be around forever, and I've got 50 years if I'm lucky, and that's not much to throw in front of what ... of what Deanna described, but ... I do. Care, that is. I do ... love you. Even if you are the most misanthropic, annoying and downright dangerous creature I've ever met."
Finally, a response. Q's ever-mobile mouth twitched into a faint smile, and, acting on a sudden impulse, Picard stepped up to him to lay a gentle, exploratory finger against those lips. Q's eyes widened, and Jean-Luc laughed suddenly. If saying those words could cause one of the single most powerful beings in the universe to tremble at his fingertip, then maybe there were perks to the horrible, uncomfortable mess he was about to get himself into. He leaned in, still meeting Q's eyes, until they were nose-to-nose. "Though you be next of kin to chaos," Jean-Luc murmured, full of dry humour, "I do love you. And I apologise for being too blind to see it."
Q stirred himself, affecting a cavalier shrug. "Well, you are ... only human, after all," he murmured back, uncertainly, and Picard saw with sudden clarity that this Q, at least, was indeed capable of feeling hope, and at the same time the terror of its loss. Loneliness to span a universe, and this one paltry human to stand against it, but he couldn't destroy that hope. A small thing, if you knew how to ask for it, but for people like him and Q ... next to impossible. Though he cursed himself for it, Picard was suddenly glad that Q had almost killed Deanna, and run to him in panic. How long would they have gone, without knowing? Would he have died first? In sudden desperation, Jean-Luc pulled Q against him.
Hesitantly, Q wrapped arms around him. Not quite human arms. Arms made by will and fantasy. A dream made real, come to haunt him. And he didn't care.
Q cleared his throat, and since his head was nestled against Q's collarbone, Picard felt him turn his head towards the door. "De ... Deanna. I do apologise for ignoring you, but I'm afraid your captain and I have some things to discuss. Elsewhere."
"Oh, I quite understand, Q," came the wry response. Jean-Luc didn't need to be empathic to know what she was feeling. He heard her retreat outside. "Oh, and Q? Poetry and peace on earth."
Q's chest rumbled with his laughter beneath Picard's ear. "Go!" he tossed back, feigning petulance. "Go find your hairy husband, and some chocolate, and a small bright place to take them inside you, you wanton wench!" And there was tenderness in the command, underneath the innuendo. Deanna laughed as she left.
"Come, mon capitaine," Q whispered.
"Where?" he murmured back.
"Why, Jean-Luc! Anywhere we wish, anywhen we choose. I'm not omnipotent for nothing, you know!" The cavalier bravado faded in moments, though. "Though if one next of kin to chaos may make a request ...?"
"Ask away, my misanthropic friend."
Q leaned down to place his lips by Jean-Luc's ear, a gesture that brought twin thrills of remembrance and anticipation, but his words called only a fierce protectiveness. "Out beyond the void, mon capitaine, to a far distant star?"
Jean-Luc sighed gently, and kissed him. After a few seconds of startlement, the world began to blur and whiten, filling with a worrying amount of inexplicable light, until Jean-Luc realised that the white was Q, and the body was Q, and the two were beginning to blur as Q lost control, bleeding into each other, and into him, and around them, until all the world was made of Q, and it was the most unique and glorious thing he'd ever experienced. Gravity stopped, Time stopped, the whole damned universe took a coffee-break, and Q wrapped him up and flooded him until a dam broke somewhere and the tide swept them completely out to sea. He forgot where his body was, he forgot what a body was, he forgot why the concept of body meant a damn thing anyway, part of the white of Q, until someone rapped a crystal glass the size of a planet, a single clean note, and Jean-Luc Picard woke up.
Or came back, or rejoined his body, or remembered to remember he had one, or whatever the hell it was he'd just done. Loneliness to span a universe, and a kiss to stop time. And, somehow, he'd managed to miss these things? He really was a blind human, after all.
Q, human arms still wrapped around him, was looking down at him uncertainly. "Mon capitaine?"
Jean-Luc sighed again, and sank into him. "Second star to the right, please, and straight on 'til morning." Q frowned in puzzlement, then smiled slowly, mischieviously.
"And are you my lost boy, Jean-Luc?"
"Who says you're Peter Pan? Maybe you're Tinkerbell."
Q threw back his head and laughed, even as they flashed out. But they didn't reappear at any destination. Rather, they floated in the void, the ship behind them, and Q unfurled one arm dramatically to point at a tiny scrap of light, barely visible to Jean-Luc, so far away was it. A far distant star. And Q looked down at him, the question heavy in his eyes, and Picard knew he should worry about consequences, place limits, say how far and when they should return, but this once, this first time, he threw the worry away. Let someone else be responsible. Damn it all, Q wasn't omnipotent for nothing.
"Lead on, MacDuff."