Title: Dying Galaxies
Author: Galadrielle
Fandom: Star Trek The Next Generation

Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Jean-Luc Picard/Q

Summary: With the whole Milky Way in danger the origin of the Q is revealed. What happens when these origins not only threaten the federation but the whole Galaxy?

Warnings: pre-slash

Will Riker looked up from his beeping console to look over to the Enterprise's Captain, "Starfleet Command sent a message, Captain! High priority…"

Jean-Luc Picard looked up from his reports and ordered, "Put it on the screen, Number One."

#This is Starfleet Admiral Treork speaking. We are ordering all available ships back to earth. The sun's radiation has doubled and our scientist fear that the sun will soon turn into a supernova. The same has been happening to all suns in the whole Milky Way. We have to evacuate Earth and then all other habituated planets. Code red.#

Picard and Riker looked shocked at each other before springing into action. Practically running across the ready room they entered the bridge. When the personal present looked strangely at them Picard ordered, "Mr. Data, set course to Earth warp 9. Mr. LaForge, try to modify the cargo bay to fit as many people as possible!"

Dianna Troi's worried scream stopped him, "Captain!"

Looking at her Jean-Luc knew that she was able to feel his fear. Turning to the whole bridge crew he explained, "Somehow all suns in the Milky Way are turning into supernovas… even Earth's sun. We have to evacuate as many as possible…"

Data turned from the console to look questioningly at him, "Captain, my last calculations concluded that the suns should have been able to provide light and energy for another million years. It is highly unusual for all of them to turn into supernovae at once."

"I agree, Mr. Data. This is almost impossible…" Shaking hi head Jean-Luc activated his communicator, "This is Captain Picard, we're returning to Earth. Prepare the whole ship for mass transportations and new passengers. Many passengers… Squeeze as many as possible into the available quarters. The rest will have to stay in the freight rooms. Picard out."

************

"Captain the scanners registers strange energy readings near all systems we have passed so far. Now that we are near Earth we have found a foreign energy being in the sun's vicinity." Data pointed out a soft blue glowing sphere floating in space.

"Send messages on all channels! Maybe we can find out more about this sphere and what it's doing here."

"The only answer is a…hum…, Captain."

"A hum?" Picard raised his eyebrows.

"Yes, Sir. It seems as if it is unable to correspond with us."

Hoping he was doing the right thing Picard orders, "Ready the phaser, Mr Worf. Do not under any circumstances aim at the sphere. But shoot near it to make it acknowledge us!"

Looking irritated Worf replied, "Aye, Captain."

When the phaser shot through the space a shield flickered around the sphere and vanished with a sudden explosion. The sphere seemed to scream in pain as the whole space seemed to tremble.

"WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!" a flash of light signalled the arrival of the being Picard had silently been calling the whole time.

But upon turning around he saw that it wasn't Q, but another, a young boy.

"Who are you?" Picard asked.

"Q," the boy replied cheeky before fixing them with a glare. "Don't you have better things to do than hurting my father?"

"FATHER?!" The shouts were loud enough to make even Data jump in his seat.

"Yes, my father. You can't even leave him in peace now? After everything he's done for you?!" Q snarled at them before raising his hand to snap his fingers.

"Please, wait! We didn't intent to hit him. But what is he doing here anyway? Is he causing the sun's to turn into supernovas?" 'This is what a Q looks like in their natural form?' Picard was amazed. Never before had anyone seen a Q in anything other than what they wanted to appear as.

"Pft, sure you didn't. He told me that you can't stand him…Anyway, he isn't exactly causing them…"

Just as Q was about to answer a screech could be heard from the sphere. "Shit, Dad!" Snapping his fingers the sphere began to shrink and was then transported into the ship. The soft glow felt good and made them feel warm.

"Dad, it's okay. I created a shield. You told me I should handle this but I can't…" tears were trailing down the youth's face when suddenly the glow of the sphere dimmed and a hand pressed against the inside before breaking through.

"Junior…" the voice caused the Starfleet personal on the bridge to tense immediately.

"Q!" Picard exclaimed when he saw the familiar face of his not-enemy/not-friend. "What the hell are you doing here?"

The hoarse laugh shocked them into silence, "Well, Mon Capitain, it seems as if I am in the process of dying. And even that I can't do in peace…"

That caused the younger Q to cry more. "Junior, we talked about this. You have to do what I asked of you…"

Lifting the tear strained face Junior demanded, "Only if you explain it to them! They are loosing their whole galaxy and don't even know why!"

Sighing in defeat Q's form seemed to become more solid in the familiar Starfleet uniform he preferred before sinking to the floor when weakness hit him.

Jean-Luc looked at the pale and sweating face in front of him wanting to demand what Q had done this time to endanger them again when the look of defeat crossed the angular face.

"Guess this will be a history lesson for all of you then." After clearing his throat Q began, "We don't know what was there first, the universe or the Q…Same as with the egg and the chicken but on a greater scale, "when Picard prepared to admonish Q the being seemed to shake himself, "Anyway, the only thing we know is that when a new star is born these days a new Q comes into being. That hasn't always been like this. In the early days a whole galaxy had to be created to get enough energy together to create a Q. That is why each of the older Q has a birth galaxy while the newer generations have birth stars. We are bound to it by our very energy. If the Galaxy dies the Q dies, should the Q die the Galaxy will die with him/her. This is not the case with a violent death like in our war, there we prepared for it no older Q was killed. Those who died were younger and their stars exploded with them…"

"So you're saying that the Milky Way is dying because of you?!" Dr. Crusher exclaimed.

Growling in agitation Q snapped at her, "Don't you understand, woman?! Your galaxy and I are practically one being! If one dies the other follows, but not even the council wasn't able to determine the cause of this. We don't know if I'm dying because something happened to my Galaxy, or if it is dying because something happened to me!"

"And there is no way to stop it?" Picard felt sorrow creeping into him. While he had never admitted it even to himself he liked this Q. Even when he was a pest or endangering them to 'Test' them he had always been there. And to loose him now would mean to loose a part of himself…'Why am I feeling this despair? Is it because I feel more that friendship for him?'

Shaking his head Q replied, "No, Jean-Luc. I told Junior to transport all living beings to other habitable planets…"

"You are evacuating the whole Milky Way?" Riker asked disbelievingly.

Hurt filled those ageless eyes, "You don't have to sound that disbelieving! I saw the birth of all live in this galaxy and I am humanities protector! You don't really think that I will allow my death to destroy all I achieved, do you?!"

Suddenly he grew rigid, "Junior!" a sudden explosion caused the mortals to jump back and cover their eyes.

When the light dimmed again Q was lying on the floor, trembling and sweating.

"Q!" Picard tried to get to him but the shield Junior had created held. "Let me through!"

"No…his energy would fry you all within seconds…" Junior told him apologetic.

"Jean-Luc…it's okay…, I knew that this would happen…" Q sounded weaker.

"Q…"

"Captain, our sensors detected a sun eruption at the same time as Q lost a tremulous amount of his own energy. It seems they are telling the truth." Data confirmed.

"Junior, you promised…"

"Yeah, I know, Dad…"

"Go, I don't want you to see this. And take the Enterprise with you."

"NO! I won't go without you, Q!"

"Jean-Luc, I am dying. When the time comes the whole Milky Way will explode…"

"I will not leave!" Picard shouted at him.

Irritated Q shouted back, "I don't want you to die!"

"I don't want to live without you!"

Speechless both looked at each other before Q managed to overcome the surprise, "What? I don't understand…"

"You heard right, Q. I don't think I can live without you. I don't even want to try."

"Mon Capitain…"

"No, Q. It's my decision. I will only go if you don't want me at all."

Shamed Q looked at the floor, "I have always wanted you. But you seemed to hate me…"

"No, I never hated you." At Q's disbelieving look Picard amended, "Well at least not really. You were more of a pest…"Shaking his head he sighed, "Why did you do all this anyway?"

"For someone this clever you can be pretty slow, Jean-Luc." He sighed. "I did it because I wasn't able to stay away from you. I did it because ..." He paused, took a deep breath, and came out with it. "…because I love you." Now with the secret out in the open Q felt lighter than he had in a long time.

Picard grabbed helplessly at his chest when his heart seemed to leap in joy. "How long?" he asked unable to explain it more.

"A while. I can't tell you one moment when I woke up and decided that you were important to me! It grew over the whole time I've known you…I've cared for you." Sighing in regret Q continued, "And I care about you so much that I don't want you to die…So you'll let Junior transport you and your ship away!"

"Stop it, Q!" Picard commanded. "This isn't your choice to make."

Q's mouth snapped shout with an audible click at the forceful command. "Please, just let me go, Jean-Luc. It will be easier this way. All your problems will go away with me." Stopping short he continued, "Well and all Earths problems will go away when the galaxy blows up, but that is…"

Looking at Junior Picard asked him, "Can you transport your father and me on a shuttle and then take the Enterprise and all others away like your father asked you?"

Seeing the despairing look in his fathers eyes Junior looked away, "Sure. But are you certain about this? Once the explosion draws closer nobody will be able to come and get you…"

Smiling gently at the youth Jean-Luc nodded, "I'm quite sure. I want to be with him even if this is the end."

Just as the crew started protesting Junior snapped his fingers and Jean-Luc found himself standing in a shuttle with Q still encased by the shield.

"No, Jean-Luc, no…" Those ageless eyes began filling with tears just as another wave of energy exploded from Q.

The intervals seemed to draw closer together as this one left Q weaker than before. Barely able to lift his head Q looked at his Captain, "Soon, Jean-Luc."

Nodding in acceptance Picard sat down next to the shield and touched it with his outstretched hand, "I'm with you, all the way."

The shield flickered before collapsing, immediately the Computer started an alarm, #Warning, gamma radiation inside the shuttle has reached a critical point. Warni…#

"Computer, stop the alarm. Soundless warning only," Jean-Luc ordered while reaching for Q's hand.

At first Q tried to avoid touching him out of the fear of hurting him, but as soon as their hands touched warmth like he had never known flooded through him.

Instinctively Q tried to wrap himself in this warmth and in the process touched Jean-Luc's mind with his own.

*Jean-Luc?*

*Q?*

*Yeah*

*How is that possible? What is happening?*

*I seem to have bound our minds together… I'm sorry, I'll release it…*

*No!* Q flinched at Picard's exclamation. But instead of letting go, Jean-Luc used everything within him to pull Q closer. "I can feel you…your thoughts and feelings. Many things I can't even begin to understand, but I understand your love for me.*

Forcefully opening his eyes, he hadn't even been aware of closing them; he looked up at the glowing face of his friend.

Out loud Picard said, "I love you too, Q." Then he leaned in and kissed him gently.

Around them the universe seemed to explode as everything vanished into darkness.

******************

"I order you to take us back, now!" Will Riker screamed at the youth standing forlorn on the bridge. Around them there were so many ships they couldn't even begin to guess their numbers.

Before Junior could respond Data interrupted, "We are being hailed, Commander."

"On the screen, Mr. Data."

When the screen flickered on the woman staring back at them seemed just as surprised as the crew of the Enterprise was. "Will Riker?"

"Kathryn Janeway? How…" Turning to Junior Will asked, "Was that the favour Q asked of you?" Receiving a nod Will turned back to the still disbelieving Captain of the Voyager. "Kathryn, welcome back in the Alpha Quadrant."

Uncertainly she asked, "We are really back?"

"Yeah, Junior here brought you all the way here."

"Hey, Aunt Kathy." Junior waved at Janeway.

Dumbfounded Janeway hesitated before asking disbelievingly, "You are Q's son, aren't you?"

Tears filling his eyes again the youth nodded before finally breaking down, "Yeah, but he isn't here. He is back on Earth with Picard. And he is dying and I couldn't 'tknowwhattodoandheaskedmetoogetyoubackhereeventhoughtEarthisbeingdetsroyed…" Junior's words began to run together as he grew more and more emotional.

"Wait, wait, Earth is being destroyed? What the hell happened? And why are our sensors telling us that the planets surrounding this star suddenly turned into class M planets with many billion people on them?"

Biting his lip Riker explained it to Janeway.

"So you're saying that the elder Q's were born by the energy of born Galaxies, and that Q's, our Q's, home galaxy is the Milky Way, that's now dying because Q is dying?"

"That sums it up nicely, Kathryn."

"And Jean-Luc decided to stay with him why?"

Raising his eyebrow Will asked, "Can't you guess?" He looked pointedly at the Commander standing just behind Kathryn. When she blushed he grinned, "Thought so."

Shaking her head Janeway replied, "We can't just let him die…"

"There is nothing we can do, Kathryn. It was his wish."

"What if Q manipulated him to…" Before Kathryn could finish the question a flash of light interrupted her as she vanished from the screen and appeared on the bridge of the Enterprise.

"Junior! Don't do that!"

"She was accusing Dad of things he would never do! You don't understand the Q at all, so don't go around saying things like that! Dad did everything to prepare Humanity for the things that will come. He wanted to make you all stronger and how do you thank him? By hating and belittling him! We may not be really omnipotent but we can see things you can't even begin to imagine so leave my Dad alone!"

Looking contrite Kathryn knelt in front of Junior, "I am sorry, Junior, but he has caused us so much trouble in the past that we have come to expect things like this from him. You have to see it from our point of view."

Still angry Junior thought about all the female Captain had told him and felt his rage cool when he realised that she was right. While testing and preparing humanity his father had caused the humans to fear and hate him, whether intentionally or not.

When he looked up he saw the understanding face of his Aunt Kathy right in front of him and couldn't resist. Wrapping his arms around her he cried out all his grief.

Kathryn was surprised when the young Q hugged her, seeking comfort in a situation where no comfort would help him.

A flash of light made her tense.

"Junior, come here." Janeway knew that haughty voice. Lifting her head she saw the female Q standing there with an aloof expression on her face. Neither grief nor understanding was reflected in her cold eyes.

When Junior released her she was prepared to see him go to her, as she was his mother nonetheless. But when he snapped his fingers and produced a snow globe with her inside Kathryn was surprised.

"You did this to him! Your harping and jealousy destroyed him! He felt worthless every time you finished with him and didn't want to go back to you anymore, mother!" Junior's rage had found a new target. He remembered all the times his father had been kicked down by his mother's words, how none of the others would stand by him during difficult times.

"Pft, what this fool does is not my concern. So he made himself sick by feeling all those useless feelings, let him take the fall for reverting back instead of evolving!" The female Q freed herself with a snap of her fingers. Appearing in front of her son she snarled, "You'll come with me this instant, or I will denounce you as my son!"

Calm settled over Junior, "Then I will denounce you too, Q."

Flushing in rage she lifted her hand, bad intent evident in her gaze when suddenly a bright flash interrupter her.

"Stop this, Q." The female paled and tried to flee before chains appeared on her wrists. "Junior, calm down. Your father is well. The human came at the last possible second and resolved the matter."

Knees weakening Junior sank to the floor before Kathryn managed to catch him, "What? But I thought…"

The Head of the council members of the Q looked at him and explained, "So did we. Any other case like this burned out with their stars. But as Q is more powerful due to his experience and understanding of the living beings it would have even affected the Galaxies bordering on the Milky Way."

Producing a chair and sitting down he continued, "We weren't prepared for this outcome. Picard stabilized Q's state of mind and rescued not only Q but the whole Milky Way. Now we realise that those Q that burned out in the past were those in love with mortals."

"So you mean to tell us that Earth is safe again? And that Captain Picard saved it by admitting his love for Q?" Riker asked shocked.

"Yes, that would sum it all." The male Q nodded before snapping his fingers. When the light grew dimmer the crew on the bridge breathed in relieve when they saw Earth on the screen.

"Mr. Data, check the sensors if there are any life-signs showing," Riker ordered.

"I'm reading 30,000 thousand signs, make that 150,000. Sir, the numbers are rising!" Data replied.

Breathing a sigh of relieve Will sat down. Earth was safe as was their whole Galaxy.

Deanna interrupted his thoughts, "What about the Captain and Q?" She looked at Junior who concentrated for a moment before snapping his fingers.

On the floor Picard appeared holding an unconscious, naked Q.

Blinking at the bright light Jean-Luc saw his crew looking back at him, "Will?" His voice sounded hoarse and exhausted.

"Yes, Captain." Laughing at the look of shock crossing his Captain's face he leaned back.

"What the hell are you doing here, Commander? I ordered you out of here!"

"Jean…-Luc…" Looking down at the weak voice Picard soothed Q by running his fingers through the dark hair.

"Shh, Q, I am here." Turning his burning gaze back to his first officer Jean-Luc prepared to continue his tirade when a strong hold on his neck interrupted him by drawing him down into a gentle but demanding kiss.

"I know, Mon Capitaine, and so am I. I feel stronger already. I think somehow we survived and your crew came back for you. You should remember that before you decide to chew your Number One out." Already stronger Q slowly got his snaky attitude back.

Looking around him in confusion Picard realised that he was still sitting there with Q in his lap. Standing up slowly without dumping Q on the floor wasn't easy, so when a pair of helpful hand took hold of Q he squished the feelings of jealousy at the thought of another's hands on HIS Q and gratefully accepted Data's help.

"Mr. Data, I would appreciate it if you helped Q down to the infirmary." Picard knew that there wasn't much Doctor Crusher could do for Q but he would feel better about it.

When Data nodded in affirmation Q rolled his eyes, "Not that I'm not comfortable here, Jean-Luc, but I can walk on my own and I'm recovering my energy already."

"Are you strong enough to stand on your own yet, Q?" Stepping up to the being Picard ignored all curious looks they were receiving and leaned down to kiss the man. "Do it for me, you gave me quite the scare…"

Blushing and sulking Q backed down, "Okay, but only if you go to the infirmary, too! You were exposed to a high dosage of my very essence!"

Laughing at the pout Picard nodded, "I will follow you in a second. Just let me take care of some things than I'll be come to you."

When Data turned to the lift Q said seriously, "I will wait for you, Jean-Luc Picard."

Lovingly Jean-Luc stroked his soon-to-be-lover's face, "And I'll follow you to the end of the universe, Q."

The End