Written for Muse Academy, for the prompts: "When have you sacrificed for something you really believe in?" and "If I had been the Virgin Mary, I would have said 'No.' - Margaret Smith"
Warnings/Disclaimers: Up through the phrase "cease fire", all of the dialogue comes verbatim from the script for "The Q and the Grey". Everything after that is original, as is all the explanatory text around the dialogue. This story will be continued in "War Stories" (which has not been published yet, largely because it hasn't been written yet", and followups appear in "Seventeen Things That Might Have Happened To Q" Chp. 15 and "A Doctor, A Q and a Baby."
"Oh, you're not going to have a child with me," Janeway said. "You're going to mate with that charming lady friend of yours that appeared on my ship."
Q blinked at her. "Mate with another Q? Ridiculous."
"It sounded to me like you and she had a very long term relationship."
"Yes, but it was never physical," Q said. "I mean, the Q are way beyond sex. It's never been done." He was lying, of course; it was just that the Q equivalent of sex didn't lead to reproduction. No matter how many times Q joined, a new life would never be created. Q and Q had figured out how to turn the act of copulation in mortal form into the creation of a Q child, but that still involved copulating in mortal form, and while Amanda's mother Q had fallen all over herself in soppy joy at the thought of a new life being created inside the mortal body she'd made for herself, somehow Q didn't think his best friend would be nearly so enthusiastic about the possibility of being a brood mare.
"Really? Then how exactly did the Q come into existence in the first place?"
Impatiently, Q said, "The Q didn't come into existence. The Q have always existed." Which wasn't true either, but close enough. Janeway plainly wasn't equipped to comprehend the concept of the creation of the Q as a collaborative effort of the entire Continuum. "Besides, I can only mate with a species capable of copulation, like you." That part, at least, was true.
"But I don't love you, Q," Janeway said.
Q stared at her as if she'd said "But the mice can't be allowed to take over the world with hot pants and corn syrup." "Yes, but what does that have to do with it?"
"Everything," Janeway said. "It's the foundation of a family. I could never have a child with someone I didn't love, much less give it up to the Continuum."
"Dearest Kathy, I would never dream of having you give it up. I mean, who would raise it? Who would look after it? I'm really not cut out to be a wet nurse."
"Oh, so you're not willing to do the hard work?" she said sharply.
"I'm an idea man. Hard work isn't my forte."
"I'd change specialties if I were you, because the kind of trouble you're in needs more than a quick fix. You can't just sprinkle a little human DNA into the Continuum and make everything all right."
"Those best qualities of humanity you talked about aren't a simple matter of genetics. Love, conscience, compassion."
She had a point, irrelevant though it may be. A Q raised in the Continuum by other Q would never have a chance to express such traits derived from humanity. "Ah."
Before he could observe that while her point was well taken it had nothing to do with anything, since he wanted the child to be raised by humans, she said, "They're attributes that mankind has developed over centuries. Values that have passed from one generation to the next, taught by parents to their children. Creating a new kind of Q is a noble idea, but it will take more than impregnating someone and walking away. If you want your offspring to embrace your ideals, you're going to have to teach them yourself."
Right. Like he himself knew anything about how to teach love or compassion. He wasn't even sure he could feel them, after billions of years of existence. He only knew that they were beautiful and he sought them out in mortals... usually didn't find them, but his two favorite humans were an exception. "Yes, but that's exactly why I want you here, to nourish and guide the little tyke. Think of the opportunities here in the Continuum. The entire universe would be our child's playground. Together the two of you could explore dimensions you've never even imagined. 'Fess up. Isn't it even slightly tempting?"
"I'd be lying if I said 'no'," she said. "What explorer wouldn't be intrigued by the idea of seeking out whole new dimensions? But I have other responsibilities, and I won't just abandon them."
"Ah, yes. The crew of the intrepid starship Voyager. Perhaps you'd be interested in sending them home."
"You've tempted me with that prospect before. But frankly, your credibility is more than a little suspect. My crew and I will get home. We're committed to that. But we're going to do it through hard work and determination. We are not looking for a quick fix."
Which, of course, was why they went diving for every wormhole and every opportunity to seek out advanced alien technology they could, but Q was more interested in pointing out why her idea wouldn't work than the hypocrisy of her statement. "Even if I wanted to mate, I wouldn't know how. It's totally unprecedented."
"You'll figure something out. You are omnipotent, after all."
"I need time to think about it," he said. Would it actually work, to have two Q create a new life? There would be advantages to doing it that way; the symbolic value, the representation of change as new life, would be all the more powerful that way.
"Time's up, Q. You've got to stop this war before it destroys the Continuum. Now I'm taking this white flag, and I'm going over to the enemy camp, and I'm going to tell them you're ready to talk about terms for a cease fire."
She started to get up. Q grabbed her and pulled her back down. Even injured, he was still far more powerful than a human; she nearly fell on top of him. "You are not."
"Q. Let go of my hand."
"You are under a vast misconception if you think that the enemy will bother to listen to a mere human."
"You listened to a mere human when I ruled that Quinn had the right to kill himself."
"The operative word there is 'you', meaning me. I listened to you, because I respect humanity, and at the time the Continuum was unified. I had the right to bind the Continuum to a decision made by a human on my own recognizance. Which is, I would like to point out, one of the reasons those beings out there want to kill me. And you're the human they'll blame for starting all this. Do you seriously think they'll see you as neutral? Would you negotiate with a cockroach who tried to mediate between you and the Cardassians or something?"
She took a deep breath. "I don't see another alternative."
"I do. Have my child."
"I am not going to have a child with a person I don't love, abandon my crew, and go haring off to an incomprehensible dimension full of people who think I'm a cockroach to raise that child."
"Not even to stop a war that you started?"
"There has to be another way! Why can't you figure out how to mate with the female Q who came after you on my ship? I know Q have managed to mate before; there was that girl aboard the Enterprise who was the child of two Q!"
"Yes, her. Why can't you and your Q friend do the same thing?"
"Can you honestly see Q agreeing to be pregnant? She doesn't even agree with this war. I mean, she's not on my side. She just isn't on the enemy side because she doesn't want to fight me."
"Well, then why don't you be pregnant?"
Q stared at Janeway again. "I'm going to pretend you didn't just say that, Kathy."
"Why not? You're omnipotent. You can be pregnant if you want to."
"And get fat?"
Janeway sighed so explosively it almost came out as a hiss. "Q, at some point you're going to have to make personal sacrifices if you're going to win this war."
"I have made personal sacrifices!" He sat up, ignoring the pain, and pointed at his injured manipulative functions, what she would see as his bleeding, bandaged arm. "I've been shot, Kathy. Do you think this doesn't hurt? Do you think it doesn't cause me any pain that my friends are dying for our beliefs? That I've had to kill my own kind? Do you truly think I'm so shallow that none of this matters to me? Or that I would be willing to risk my life -- a life, I would like to point out, that wouldn't inevitably end in decay given enough time anyway like yours would, a life that could last all eternity as long as I don't get myself killed, which I very well may -- if I wasn't willing to make sacrifices?"
"Then make them! Don't just make the sacrifices that make you look heroic! You want a baby? You carry it. You bear it in your body, you suffer whatever that costs you. You don't... you don't knock someone else up and run off!" She was almost shouting. "This isn't my war, Q, why should I have to pay all the costs of stopping it? Pregnancy is difficult, and it's not the job I signed on for. If I'd wanted a child, ever, I'd have one by now... but I wanted to be an explorer, and a commander, and now I have a hundred and forty lives depending on me. I can't deal with being pregnant now. I can't deal with being pregnant ever if I don't love the father of the child, and to be perfectly honest with you I'm very comfortable with the notion of never getting pregnant ever even if I do love the prospective father, because I don't want kids. You do. So go do the work yourself."
"I had no idea the thought of having the child of a god would be so offensive to you," Q snapped. "I thought your species spent two thousand years idolizing a woman who agreed to have a god's child before she'd ever even had sex."
"Yes, well, I'm an atheist and you're not my god, Q. I am not the Virgin Mary, and if the Christian God turned out to actually exist and showed up and asked me to bear the Second Coming of Jesus, I'd give Him the same answer I'm giving you. No, no, and no. Q loves you, and you're omnipotent shapeshifters. I'm sure you can change genders and copulate in mortal form if you want to."
"What does it matter what Q feels about me? Or what I feel about her, for that matter? I wanted to have a child with a human for a reason!" He got to his feet, painfully. "We're capable of love... I think... but we hide it from each other. We consider compassion a weakness. The kindest thing we'd do to a Q weaker than ourselves is torment them until they get strong enough to stand up to us. We need things to change. I don't know how to raise a kid and neither does Q and if Q and Q had it figured out we never had a chance to find out before we killed them and left Amanda to the tender mercies of humanity. I wanted a child because my opponents are terrified of change -- that's why they're trying to kill us, because we want change and freedom -- and having a child will prove that it's possible for change to be constructive and beneficial. But I wanted a child with a human because if we don't introduce new blood to the Continuum sooner or later the whole damn thing's going to happen again."
Janeway shook her head. "Not this human. Maybe you don't realize this, Q... you're not human, and I know you know our history but I don't know how well you understand it. I'm a woman. Up until maybe three hundred, four hundred years ago, human women were seen as existing primarily to have children. For men. Our sacrifice and our pain was just supposed to be our lot in life; we existed solely to have children to provide to men, who ruled over our and their lives. And there are still species, like the Kazon or the Ferengi, who see women that way. You are stepping in a historical minefield by demanding that a human woman give up her life and her career to have your child, for your benefit, while you run off and do whatever you like. It doesn't work like that. When humanity evolved, when we overcame all those dark places in our history, we did so by declaring that all humans are people, all humans have rights, and one of those rights is to live the life we choose and reproduce only if we want to."
"I understand that. I asked permission, after all. I could have snapped my fingers and impregnated you if I'd wanted to."
"Which would have made you a rapist. You don't get a medal for not being a rapist, Q. It's really a minimum standard of decent behavior, along with not murdering sentient beings for fun. I'm glad you're not a rapist, but I'm not going to fall to my knees in gratitude that you chose not to rape me."
"I wasn't saying I would have forced you to have sex with me... to be completely honest I don't need to copulate with a human to impregnate them. It's just more fun that way."
Janeway spoke in a tone of near-infinite patience running out, as if she were explaining something to a five year old. "If you had impregnated me against my will, whether through sex or not, that would have been rape."
Furious with her patronizing attitude, Q shouted, "Well, I picked you because you were capable of bearing a child and this war is your fault! If it weren't for your culpability in ruling in Quinn's favor and letting him kill himself, I would never have come to you!"
"Because this entire war wouldn't be happening."
"Yes, but that's beside the point. You aren't my first choice of human and you wouldn't have been my first choice of co-parent for my child if it weren't for the fact that this war is your fault."
"It's your fault too, Q. More your fault than mine, I'd think. Especially since you just admitted that you didn't have to abide by my decision; you chose to."
"Yes, and it's also Tuvok's fault but I didn't want a part Vulcan child."
"Look, just let go of this idea of whose fault it is! You want to end this war? You want to have a child with a human, because you think that's the only way? Take responsibility. Woo someone, get them to fall in love with you--"
"I don't have time for that. And you humans have a long history of choosing to have children to end wars, rather than out of love."
"Then pick a human who'll do that! And take responsibility! If you find a woman who's willing to have your child to end the war, stay with her! Help her with the child! If you find a human man who's willing to be the father of the child, do that, and deal with pregnancy yourself! The person who sacrifices the most should be the person who wants the outcome the most, and this is your war, your struggle for your ideals, your proposed solution. You need to be the one willing to sacrifice, Q."
Q considered. "I... admit the thought of approaching a man didn't occur to me. Do you think... if I agreed to be the one who carries the pregnancy... do you think I'd have any luck with a human man? In particular, a human man who makes a career out of stopping wars and arranging diplomatic agreements?"
"I don't know. It depends on the man. But if he's a diplomat... maybe that would work. As long as you explain that the point to this is to stop a war, not all those ridiculous excuses you used on me."
Q grinned. "Well, then, Kathy. Let's find somewhere I can send you back to Voyager from. Because I know exactly what to do, now."
She looked suddenly, deeply concerned. "Q? What, exactly, are you planning to do?"
His grin got bigger. "What do you think? I'm going to find Q and get her to help me, because the enemy's got my particular target blockaded and I'll need her help getting through. And then... I'm going to ask Jean-Luc Picard to father my child."