Disclaimer: I own Sarah. That's it.
Author's Note: Yes, I know, I had this story up before. It was horrible, though. I had to rewrite it. Hopefully I'll keep going this time. Anyway, it's just Q, Picard torture, and humor.
The Ten-Forward lounge of the Enterprise, despite its near fleet-wide fame, was just like most recreation areas during mid-shift: all but empty. Even so, Guinan kept track of everyone who came and went as she gave the bar some much-needed cleaning and maintenance (the last crowd had consisted of security trainees). She was wiping down the counter when she felt him. Q was there; she knew it. She turned to the other end of the bar, where she kept her comm. unit, but was stopped short by the sight of someone sitting on a stool – a curly-haired, freckled human girl, probably around six standard years old. The girl looked more surprised that Guinan to find herself there.
"I didn't see you come in," Guinan said cautiously. She would have seen anyone come in. The closer she got to the girl, the more the back of her neck tingled.
"I guess not," the girl said disinterestedly. "Where am I?"
"You're in the Ten-Forward lounge aboard the starship Enterprise." A horrible thought struck Guinan. "Are you with Q?"
The girl grinned brightly. "Yes! He told me to meet him on the bridge, only he didn't tell me where the bridge was…." She scrunched up her face in deep thought. "How am I supposed to teleport somewhere if I don't know where it is?"
Guinan had derived a very interesting bit of information from that. "He gave you powers?" she asked, not-quite-calmly.
The girl nodded, blissfully unaware of Guinan's groan. "Watch this!" Her brow furrowed in profound concentration, and with a barely audible pop, a glass filled with what seemed to be apple juice appeared on the counter. When she picked up the glass, however, apple juice flooded out all over the bar. "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to!" the girl said all at once, looking ashamed.
"That's fine, dear," Guinan sighed, retrieving her rag and mopping up the mess. She picked up the materialized glass and had to chuckle; the girl had forgotten to put a bottom on it. "Would you like some apple juice?" she asked without a trace of irony.
The girl, seeing that she was not in trouble, brightened up. "Yes!"
Guinan got her a glass – with a bottom to it, this time – and filled it with the promised beverage. The girl gulped down half of it before pausing to ask, "What's your name?"
"My name's Guinan."
"I'm Sarah. Do you want to be friends?"
Guinan thought of Q for a second, but the sincerity and trust in the child's face made it impossible to say no. "Of course we'll be friends."
Sarah grinned again and hopped off the stool. "I'm going to go find the bridge now. Q is probably looking for me. Bye, Guinan!"
Guinan watched the child walk almost to the door before she vanished. Shaking her head, she reached for the comm.
"I'm sorry, Captain," the Romulan on the viewscreen sneered. As the Romulan's face was about five times larger on the screen than in real life, the sneer was quite impressive. "These colonists have proved that they have no respect for our boundaries whatsoever. They must be dealt with."
Captain Jean-Luc Picard stood in the center of the bridge, the very picture of immovability. "Let the Federation deal with them," he said firmly. "They are our people, and we will punish them for whatever intentional transgression that might have occurred."
The Romulan hissed. "Surely you don't believe their pathetic story about navigational malfunctions?"
"It's possible," Picard said staunchly. "Now disperse this blockade! I assure you, the Federation will take care of it."
"Of course," the Romulan said softly, smirking. The viewscreen abruptly returned to the sight of the colony planet surrounded by Romulan vessels.
Picard turned resignedly back to his captain's chair, only to find that someone was already sitting in it. "Q," he spat, making the letter sound like the worst of curses. "Get off my ship!"
"What's this?" Q asked, offended. "No friendly, 'Hello? How've you been?'"
"I don't have time for any of your games. What's happened?"
Q leaned back, not even looking at the enraged Captain. "Honestly, Picard, do you always have to assume the negative?"
"I'm generally correct. What went wrong?"
"You humans are always going on about something. I'm here for purely social reasons."
"I know better than that, Q. If nothing is wrong yet, then what scheme…"
Q, who had been looking around expectantly for most of the conversation, suddenly interrupted him. "Actually, I have a question."
"Yes?" Picard snapped.
"My, aren't we grumpy today?"
"Q!" Picard yelled. "If you are going to ask a useful question, then do it and get off my ship!"
"All right! How you do go on – insufferable." He sighed dramatically. A vein in Picard's temple bulged. "Very well, then. Has anyone seen a girl about this high," he held a hand a little over a meter above the deck, "with curly hair and big brown eyes?"
Understandably, silence greeted this question. Finally, Worf spoke up. "On the bridge? Preposterous!" he rumbled.
"Why do you not know where she is, Q?" Data asked. "You have claimed to be omniscient on several occasions, the exact number being…"
"I know that, Data. What part of 'omniscient' is unclear to you?"
"Then how did you lose her?" Picard demanded.
Q's expression was carefully indifferent. "If you must know… I made her omnipotent."
"What?!" roared Picard.
"Well, after my failed experiment with Number Two, I decided to try the same idea with someone less stoic," Q explained, ignoring Picard's fuming and Riker's glare. "So, I got a younger subject."
"How much younger?" Riker asked.
Q made a great show of thinking hard about it. "Hmm… by your mere linear time… she's approximately six."
Picard seethed. "You gave… a six year old girl… unlimited powers?"
"Congratulations, Picard. You've grasped the situation."
Before Picard could begin ranting, the comm. on his chair beeped. He gestured furiously at Q, who rolled his eyes, but materialized elsewhere on the bridge. Picard sat down and pressed a button. "This is the Captain speaking."
"Captain, this is Guinan in Ten-Forward. A young girl just passed through here who claimed to know Q. Is he there?"
"Yes, he is. Do you know where the girl went?"
"I think she's trying to find the bridge."
"Thank you, Guinan. Picard out."
"Well isn't that useful? At least I know she made it to the ship." Q snapped his fingers and vanished.
Picard closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. Battles with Romulans were nothing; it was Q who was going to drive him insane. Someone tapped his shoulder, interrupting his morbid musings. "Captain…" Riker said softly. Picard looked up.
A small girl with curly brown hair was standing some distance in front of him, turning slowly in circles to take in the view. Finally, she noticed everyone looking at her. "Is this the bridge?" she asked.
"Yes, it is," Picard said cautiously. "Can we assume you are with Q?"
She nodded, back to looking at the bridge. Suddenly she pointed at the viewscreen. "Is that outside?" Picard nodded curtly. "Wow… what is it?" He looked helplessly at Riker, who took the hint and answered.
"That is a colony of Earth called Neris IV," he said. "The ships are Romulan."
"Oh," she said. "What's your name?"
Riker took a few seconds to catch up with the change in subject. "I'm Will Riker." He turned to gesture at Picard. "This is Captain Jean-Luc Picard." The girl waved. Picard lifted his hand in greeting rather unenthusiastically.
"I'm Sarah," she said.
"Hello, Sarah," both Troi and Data said politely. Everyone else on the bridge either waved or watched Picard for further signs of needing a brandy.
The girl peered at Data, wrinkling her nose. "Why do you look so funny?" she asked.
Everyone (but Data) winced; there was a tactful silence on the bridge. "I am an android," Data said, unperturbed. "I am not designed to look completely human."
"Oh. Okay. Hi." Sarah ran over to look at the various work stations, the crewmen at which tried to keep her from pressing any buttons.
"Take over, Number One. I'll be in my ready room," Picard said wearily. He made it there in record time and collapsed in the nearest chair. Within a few seconds, however, there was a flash of light, followed by the last person Picard wanted to see.
"I've looked everywhere, Picard!" Q exclaimed. "I've gone over every nook and cranny in your ship, and she is nowhere to be found!"
Picard looked up. "Perhaps you should try the bridge."
"I was just there! Don't tell me you've already forgotten our pleasant conversation two minutes ago." Picard rose and walked back to the bridge, closely followed by Q. "I know your cranium is severely limited, but I won't believe that."
As soon as they entered, Sarah impeded further progress. "Hi, Q! I found the bridge!"
"It's about time," Q muttered, but he looked a little mollified.
Picard needed answers, and he did not need them from a child – not that talking to Q was much better. "Miss Sarah," he asked stiffly, "do you have any… er… friends elsewhere on the ship that you could go visit?"
She twirled a curl around her finger in the difficult process of thought. "There was a man with weird glasses who told me how to get here."
Picard could only guess that that was Mr. La Forge. "Go on."
"Okay!" She disappeared.
Picard whirled around. "Q, I need to speak with you alone."
Q snapped his fingers and the two of them were back in the ready room. It was a sign of how preoccupied Picard was that he didn't even mention that Q was in his chair. "Q," he growled, "I thought you promised to stop interfering with humanity. I should have known that you would go back on a promise such as that. I demand…"
"Picard, stop lecturing me for once. I can't go back on something like that… yet. The Continuum wouldn't allow it."
"Then I demand to know why there is an omnipotent human girl running around my ship!"
Q waved a hand dismissively. "She's a special case."
"My, my, so full of questions today, aren't we? That particular piece of information is undoubtedly beyond your limited comprehension."
"Explain it in small words, then."
"Impossible." Q leaned back and put his feet on Picard's desk. "However, since she's already here, and she needs an environment to hone her powers…"
"Absolutely not, Q! Get off my ship, and take her with you!" Picard said in a loud, no-nonsense voice.
Predictably, this had no effect. "Picard, you're being obstinate again. Think – one of you weak, feeble humans, without having been brainwashed by your narrow-minded culture, granted with omnipotence! It's the chance of a lifetime!"
"Where have I heard that before?" Picard muttered. It was going to be a long day.
Review, please - even if you reviewed last time. Goodness knows you people got me back into this story.
P.S. - Thanks for pointing the Aspirin thing out, DarkLoad.