A Star Trek:TNG / Firefly crossover.

Captain Picard's bad day just got a lot worse, courtesy of Q. Which is nothing compared to the day Malcolm Reynolds is about to have when River starts babbling about the kindly t'ien lung and his curious bunny rabbit...

This takes place several months after the second season ST:TNG episode "Q Who?"and two days after the Firefly episode "Objects In Space". At least from the characters point of view...

It helps if you're familiar with Star Trek:TNG (who isn't?) and Firefly (If you aren't, go buy the series on DVD and the movie! Seriously! Good stuff.)

As for the Chinese used in the story, well, go look it up. :) That's what I did. Google the phrase "Firefly Pinyinary" for a good Firefly Chinese dictionary.

Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek (any of them, darn!), Firefly (double-darn!) or any of the characters, ships, or locations mentioned in this story. If I did do you think I'd be writing fan-fiction? :)

"Tea, Earl Gray, hot." His voice was tired; he could feel the ache creeping into his bones. "Computer, play Beethoven's Für Elise, pianissimo."

"There are 9,643 selections by that title. Please specify."

The computer's neutral female voice grated on his nerves. Between the spatial anomaly they had been tracking for three days (only to see it vanish as the probe left the launcher) and the preparations for the upcoming diplomatic conference between Andoria and Tellar Prime, he was exhausted and uncharacteristically short-tempered.

"It doesn't matter--pick one at random, just ensure it uses a real piano." He growled. The soothing music poured out of hidden speakers. Taking his tea he wandered over to the archaic bookshelf, running his eye along the comforting familiarity of books grown old before he was born. He chose Hamlet and set his tea on the side table, settling himself comfortably on the couch.

Alone in his ready room he let out a contented grunt he'd never allow himself in company, and began to read the ancient text. In his mind he could hear the chill wind whistling around them as the two huddled guards exchanged their watch.

Bernardo: 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.
Francisco: For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold. And I am sick at heart.

He could feel the muscles in his neck unknotting as he sank deeper into the familiar play. It was a rude shock when his com badge erupted unexpectedly. A stab of pain raced through his forehead.

"Captain Picard to the bridge immediately." Commander Riker's voice snarled angrily. A wave of annoyance flared but years of discipline took over and the only outward sign was a resigned sigh. Wincing as he rose from the couch he took a single sip of his untouched tea, unconsciously adjusted his uniform and strode toward the door.

"Yes, Number One, what is it?" He asked calmly as he entered the bridge. In his tiredness it took a moment to spot the problem. Commander Riker stood stiffly as he glared down at the person sitting in the command chair. Councilor Troi sat in her usual place, but was holding her head in both hands, her pose screaming defeated frustration. Data was at the helm, but had turned his chair to face the command chair. As always, his albino face betrayed no emotion.

"Jean-Luc, mon ami!" The tall dark-haired figure rose and spread his arms, a wide innocent grin plastered across his face.

Disciplined calm was suddenly drowned in cold deadly rage.

"Q." Venom dripped from the syllable. The thing walking toward him, which pretended to be a person--and used the Enterprise as its own personal chew toy--had the unmitigated gall to look hurt.

"Mon capitaine, are you still angry with me?" Q stopped and looked at Picard wide-eyed. "You said humans could handle anything. I was only taking you at your word! It's not my fault if your opinion of your abilities was ludicrously overblown."

"Eighteen people, Q. You murdered eighteen members of my crew and you expect me to welcome you with open arms? You expect us to be bosom companions? You are beneath contempt!"

"Yes, well get over your little temper-tantrum, Picard. It's really unbecoming you know."

"Do you have any compassion, Q? Any slightest trace of the milk of human kindness?"

Q cocked his head. "Noooo--no I don't think so. Wait--no. Not a drop, my dear captain."

"Get off my ship, Q. Now." Captain Picard advanced menacingly toward Q, part of him shocked at how much the rest of him wanted to pound the smirking alien into a red smear on the deck. He noticed Worf standing at his station, staring impassively at the back of Q's head. A phaser hung at the lieutenant's waist. He briefly entertained the fantasy of Q exploding under the fury of a level 16 phaser blast.

"You're so fierce when you're angry, Jean-Luc." Q said admiringly. "Like a yapping puppy--all fuzziness and ferocious, cuddly futility."

Q's face hardened. "You dare accuse me of lacking compassion, mon capitaine? As if a primitive savage species like yours understands the meaning of the word!"

"That calumny was old and tired the first time you trotted it out, Q. It wasn't true then and it isn't true now." The murderous rage was ebbing, Picard could feel his self-control reasserting itself even as the anger-fueled adrenaline slipped away, leaving him drained and exhausted. But he'd be damned if he'd show weakness before this thing. He stiffened his spine, willing himself to stare Q in the eye.

"Listen, Jean-Luc, I know how emotional you primitives can be when you don't get your beauty sleep. I've been terribly remiss, coming to visit and not bringing a present." Q stroked his chin, apparently deep in thought.

"I know!" He snapped his fingers and a large box appeared in Picard's command chair, with a pink ribbon and bow. He gestured toward the box. "Just make a wish, Jean-Luc, anything at all, and it shall be yours."

His bones were aching again, the long days, the adrenaline rush, and Q's arrogant disregard for sentient creatures. It was just too much.

"Fine. All right, Q. Anything I want, correct?" Q nodded, smiling. "Very well. Give me back my murdered crew members, you pathetic excuse for a would-be god!"

The world seemed to freeze. Even Data looked surprised. Q however, merely raised an eyebrow.

"I offer you anything in the universe and you ask for that? I'm disappointed, Jean-Luc. It's such a trivial request."

"Trivial, Q? Life is never trivial. If you were one tenth of what you pretend to be, you'd know that." Picard snorted. "But that's the one thing you can't give me, can you? It's beyond your power."

"Oh very well, if you insist. One miracle--as a peace offering." Q snapped his fingers. "Voila!"

The bridge was suddenly crowed with more people. Eighteen of them, most in uniform, some dressed for bed, and one unfortunate lady clad only in rivulets of water that rapidly made a puddle around her bare feet. She shrieked and crouched, trying to cover herself. The others looked around, confused.

Picard's mouth fell open. He recognized every one of them. He had agonized over each casualty notification to the families. He hadn't known the victims very well, which made the letters even harder to write. So he'd poured over everything ever recorded about them, as an inadequate final farewell. He knew their names, their faces, their dreams...

He'd also spent many sleepless nights replaying the nightmare of the Borg encounter, second-guessing each move on that fateful day, wondering what he could have done differently to spare them their tragic and meaningless deaths.

Only now, it appeared they hadn't died after all. He struggled with exhaustion and shock, trying to adapt to what Q had just done. Done so trivially, like throwing a dog a bone.

"No need to thank me, Jean-Luc." Q said, beaming. "I appear to have some compassion after all, do I not?" His face turned serious. "Now, mon ami, it's time to see how compassionate you humans really are. After all, miracles aren't free. There's always a price, mon capitaine."

Then Q vanished. And all hell broke loose.