Written for Where No Woman's Mother's Day fest. The prompt for this one was "Voyager, Female Q, Motherhood was not what she expected".
I don't know why, but about two years ago, maybe right around the time Where No Woman was launched and I became especially interested in telling the stories of women characters, I fell in love with my version of the female Q. There's so little canon about her, sadly, that I really have only my own work to read about her, because other people's takes on the character are often very different than mine - nothing in my version *contradicts* canon, but when a character appears in only one episode, fanon can be widely divergent. She's also just not a nice person, by our standards; I love her because she's fierce and prickly and driven and because she has so much internal pain that she won't even express as easily as her boyfriend does. (I get him to break down and confess to his problems on a regular basis; I haven't gotten her to do it *once* yet. Well, sort of, almost, to Janeway, one time, and then she made Janeway forget it.)
The character is widely... um, shall we say, not loved, in fandom. She's initially presented as Q's "ball and chain", a kind of shrewish and unpleasant person who's irrationally jealous of Janeway despite Janeway's lack of interest in Q. Then she has this baby with Q, and the next episode where Q appears, we found out she disowned Q and the kid for the kid's bad behavior, which really is pretty well guaranteed to make fans dislike a female character. In this fic, and many of the others I do about her, I try to explain her reasons for doing that, why she felt driven to do so, to make her more understandable and sympathetic, even if still not someone we can *like*. (I mean, I like her, but, well. She's Suzy Plakson. I have never *not* liked Suzy Plakson. Suzy Plakson can actually make me want to watch Worf having sex.)
So anyway. Probably nothing triggering here unless you once had a really, really, really bad experience giving birth. Notes about my sources at the end.
Motherhood was not what Q had expected.
To be honest, she wasn't sure what she hadexpected. If, in fact, she'd expected anything. She hadn't been the one who wanted the child in the first place; that had been her partner, her Q, who'd come up with the idea of having a child as an ideological victory over the forces of order and stasis. Change didn't have to mean death, he'd argued; change could mean birth, and he'd plotted to create a child in order to prove it.
Of course, the details of his plan had been incredibly stupid. He had wanted to have the child with a mortal. The stupidity of that was mind-boggling, and Q hadn't just thought so because she was jealous; okay, yes, she had been jealous, but that was a character flaw she was working on overcoming, and it hadn't affected her rationality any. The child could not be the child of a human and a Q, because the Continuum already hada child who was the child of two Q, but born in human form... and they'd killed her parents for it, and called her a contaminant, driving her to the side of change even though she'd originally been oriented more toward the side of order. Q remembered the Continuum's decision to kill that child's parents. The child's mother had been one of her best friends; the decision haunted her to this day. She knew it haunted her Q as well. He couldn't possibly be stupid enough to think that the child of a human would work when the child of two Q, born in human form, hadn't, could he? He was just being irrational, but she understood that. She had studied war for millions of years. Mortals became irrational when they were forced to fight and kill, or die, and especially in civil wars where the people they were killing were friends and family. It didn't appear to be different for the Q just because this was their first war ever.
So she'd brought to him a plan for creating a Q child within the Continuum. This had never been considered possible before, because a Q needed to have a firm, fully developed ego and personality, or the Continuum would subsume them. The existing child, Amanda, had been possible because her parents had anchored her nascent, undeveloped Q-self into a mortal body, a protective incubator that allowed her to fully develop her personality before joining the Continuum. But if they needed to produce a child who was notincubated in a mortal form, who was formed and raised in the Continuum, they couldn't use that shortcut. Instead Q had proposed a different plan, and her partner had accepted.
They'd joined, briefly, uniting energies and selves in a moment of unitary bliss. And then, between them, they'd created a psychescape, an incubating space that was simultaneously deep inside both of them, the kind of paradox that was only possible under the physics of the Q Continuum, and within that psychescape they had built their child. He came into existence as a random flux of the Continuum-space between the two of them, a fragment that would have been wiped out within the larger Continuum, but there in the space between his parents, he was protected from the pressure of the larger overmind as they built him into something that could withstand the Continuum. He would not be fully developed - that would miss the point, the Q had created such fully developed new individuals before and he had to be something new, a child, something that would grow and develop on his own. But there would be enough of him to afford him some protection, and what there was of him would be fully known to his parents, so they could protect him until he was able to protect himself.
He had been a glorious creation. A masterwork, an invention worthy of the greatest of Q masters, an artistic triumph to dwarf all others. It hadn't quite occurred to her that she was creating a sentient being until she felt him wake up.
A consciousness stirred inside her, the consciousness of a stranger, a Q she had not known before this moment, and it startled her. The consciousness "said", in Q thoughtforms, Mommy? Daddy? Here I am! I exist, I'm different from you!
To her this was startling. To her partner it was something else.
She felt, for a moment, memories flicker through his mind, an incident a billion years ago where a group of Q had invaded him and tried to overwrite his mind and frankly she'd thought he was over it aeons ago, but he panicked completely. A Q was inside him, all the way under his defenses, and in that nanosecond of panic he forgot that this was the baby he'd wanted, the child he had been working to create. It was a strange Q, invading him, a sentience he hadn't known was there, and he reacted out of sheer blind terror, dissociating himself from the child, cutting himself off and pulling away, flinging the child out of his psychespace and himself away from the connection with her.
The child responded just as mindlessly, just as instinctively, and latched into his only remaining source of energy and protective force, twining himself through his mother's essence and sucking hard at her life energies, fearful of being cut off from what he needed to come into independent existence. Q screamed, more in rage and pain than fear, and ripped at herself, trying to pull the infant out of her, but it wasn't the kind of operation any Q could perform on themselves, and it didn't help that the infant could sense her attempts to free herself of it and could maneuver to latch onto her even more tightly. Her partner, back to his senses, tried to help, but her rage at himfor abandoning her and allowing this to happen had hardened her shields against him, so he couldn't get inside to help. No one Q possibly could; in her frantic flailing to escape the parasitic Q infant inside her, she'd have ripped at and tried to consume any adult Q who tried to enter her to help her.
Fortunately for her, the war had forced the Q to invent medicine. Q doctors - who had not been doctors before the war, because the Q had never before needed doctors, but war was always the mother of invention took her in, held her down and performed emergency surgery on her as she screamed, struggled, and tried to eat them, or the infant, or both. They gutted her, reached inside and sliced tendril after tendril of her essence apart in order to pry the infant free, and when they had him loose they stitched her up more or less and left her to heal on her own, because a Q was always better off healing on their own if it was possible than being reconstructed by other Q.
When she woke up, her partner had presented their child to the Continuum as if it were all his idea and all his work, the child of destiny that the sides had agreed to call a cease-fire over. She couldn't blame him for that. He had a war to end. He could have done nothing for her by waiting for her, by tending her as she healed. She had no right to even expect that of him.
But she hated him, for having abandoned her during the child's creation, and precipitating the whole horrible incident. And she hated the child for turning into a parasite and trying to devour her. And she hated the Continuum, because while she'd slept her great achievement - the fact that she'd brought mortals into the Continuum, armed with Q-killing weapons they could actually use, in order to force the cease-fire long enough to let her and her partner make the child - had been made into the stuff of horror. She had empowered mortals to kill Q. It didn't matter that none of them actually had, that her modified weapons had never been used. She had still given mortals the ability to kill Q, and for that, the Continuum hated her. Even those who'd been on the side of change, the side that would have lost if not for her.
She would have kept hating them all, except that her partner brought her child to see her, and the child was a tiny reflection of herself and her partner both, and the great masterwork she had created. And then the baby reached out to her and said, Mommy, I'm sorry I hurt you. It was an accident, I didn't mean to. You didn't really mean to eat me, either, right, Mommy?
The Q were generally too proud to apologize. Hearing her baby say "sorry" to her undid most (though not quite all) of her rage, and she reached out and took him into her embrace. I never meant to hurt you, little one, she said, and in that moment, believed it to have been true. How could she ever have thought this adorable little baby was a parasite? She remembered, then, how she'd wanted him to exist, how she'd made him with defenses, and blocked out the memory of what it had felt like when those defenses had been turned on her.
The trouble was, she learned as time passed, that her son was very good at saying he was sorry, especially since he'd learned at such an early age that it worked. What he wasn't good at was not needing to say he was sorry in the first place.
He had been created with elements of both herself and her partner. But the wildness and rebelliousness and the sense of humor that she'd loved in her partner were much less attractive in her son, when she, not the Continuum, was responsible for his good behavior and would be held accountable for him. And her own ferocity, her love for violence, disturbed her when she saw it in her son, unmoderated by her own desire to be a respectable Q or her inherent sense of fair play.
She took him with her on role-playing games, where they'd take mortal forms and fight in mortal wars. And he cheated. He'd use his powers to avoid getting hurt, he'd kill mortals who had bested him fairly, he'd commit dishonorable acts and then claim that winning was the only honor. Her partner shared some of those beliefs, but even he was more likely to play fairly against mortals than that. He insisted the boy was just immature and high-strung, but Q was afraid. She saw her own dark side merged with her partner's, personified in their son, and traits she'd found wonderful and exciting in her partner were frightening or just infuriating in their child.
They took him into the matter-based universe, in the time periods before he'd come into existence to try to give him some sense of what the eternity of being meant to the Q, to raise him most of the time, because the Continuum wasn't the safest place for him and because his mother couldn't stand spending time there with all the Q talking nastily about her behind her back. He did things that made no sense, things that were too gauche for any other Q - such as eating stars; for some time they had to run around after him trying to keep him from stuffing random stars, some of which even had inhabited planets, into his mouth. The Q thought eating was rather disgusting anyway, and eating stars with inhabited planets was just horrible. Time after time, he'd say with total sincerity that he was sorry, he'd never do it again. Then he'd do it again. Generally with an excuse that was no excuse at all, such as "I forgot" (as if an omnipotent being could ever afford to forget something like that) or "It looked so tasty, I just couldn't help it".
Other times he'd dissect sentient beings because he wanted to see what they looked like inside, or show up on their planets as a god and demand tribute, or kidnap them and force them to play games with him. When she discovered that he'd taken a trading convoy of Ferengi as his toys, tried to get them to breed with each other (which hadn't worked, because, like most trading convoys of Ferengi, they'd had no females on board), and then kept them as his pets, making them grovel to him in exchange for outrageous material beneficence, until they'd all died of starvation because he didn't know how to make food that could actually sustain mortals, her partner had chuckled and asked her if she was really going to get upset over a bunch of Ferengi, and surely the universe was better off without some of the materialistic little trolls. When their son kidnapped a human starship captain, however, and almost killed the hapless fellow for trying to escape, then her partner was infuriated. Humans were his, and even his son was not permitted to interfere with them, and besides, the one their son had just almost killed happened to be important to the timeline, and neither of them wanted to run around repairing the timeline for the next hundred years or so.
But it didn't matter, because all the boy had to do was apologize, and her partner melted. He couldn't see through it. Not like she could.
She tried to discipline the boy. Her partner interfered. He hadn't liked being disciplined by the Continuum himself, and he didn't want to inflict such things on his son. They argued, and he had the Continuum behind him, so he won. She felt completely helpless. Wasn't she supposed to be an equal here? Hadn't she had the ideas that made this child? Hadn't she been the one who'd suffered agony, because he'd detached too soon and left the baby feeding on her alone? Didn't any of that make a difference? Apparently not. Her partner accused her of being cruel to the child, and perhaps she was - the Q had little pain endurance, except for her, and she'd found that pain was one of the few levers that could actually frighten the child enough that he'd behave, except that then he'd run to his father and complain that his mother was tormenting him, and they'd fight, again, and she'd lose, again. He wanted to use gentler methods, forgetting perhaps that gentler methods had never worked on him. Or perhaps he was enjoying his son's hell-raising too much. The war had made him one of the leaders of the Continuum, and he'd made no secret of the fact that being one of the folks in charge unnerved him, and he'd felt more comfortable being the rebellious outsider than being a leader. Maybe he was getting vicarious pleasure over the trouble his son was causing, because he couldn't afford to cause trouble himself anymore.
But at least their son was still, at heart, a sweet little boy, full of a sense of wonder. At least he still saw the universe with new and unjaded eyes, at least she could enjoy feeling her own lost youth, billions of years gone, as she taught him things that were old to her and wondrous to him.
And then that changed, too. Then he became just like all the other Q, jaded, sarcastic, putting on elaborate poses of boredom and being unaffected emotionally by anything. And perhaps her partner was right that he was just being an adolescent and acting out, but it didn't matter anymore. She wasn't going to tolerate it. The one trait he'd had that she'd still loved in him, and he'd done his best to suppress it.
She told him that he was a failure. Told him he was undisciplined, wild, that he'd never be a functional Q. Told her partner that he had ruined their son. And she disowned them both, declaring that she would have nothing more to do with either of them, ever.
And then she left the Continuum.
She flung herself into her games, trying to escape the pain of her memories, trying to shut out the little boy calling in her head Mommy, come back, I'm sorry!because he wasn't sorry, he was never sorry, and he was never going to change, and she was tired of hoping that he would. She played a Vulcan warrior in the days before Surak, a fierce defender of her clan. And then one day a little boy was injured, dying, in trying to help his clan fight off an invasion, and Q saw the boy's mother hold him tightly to herself and praise him, tell him she loved him and she was so very proud of him... and she crumpled, weeping. The Vulcans probably thought she was crying for the child, and let her be. She could have used her powers to stop herself from crying, and she probably should have, but she didn't want to. She didn't want to.
She used her powers to save the boy, and left the game. She couldn't handle being around mortal children, at least not mortal children in peril. Not now. Not until she could forget.
If there was any god the Q could pray to, she would have prayed, fervently, that someday she would forget.
Leaving had been supposed to make the hurting stop. It hadn't. But she knew better than to believe that things would get any better if she went back.
Her baby boy was turning into a monster, and she couldn't stop it, and even if she could, her partner wouldn't let her, and she hated him. She hated them both.
Mortals seemed to love their children, most of the time. She had never guessed, from what little she'd studied of mortal parents, that motherhood could make her wish she could die.
I strongly disagreed with about eight zillion things in the pro-published short story "Q'uandary" by Terri Osbourne in the New Frontier anthology "No Limits", to the point where that is one of the few bookverse stories featuring Q that I've excluded from my personal bookverse canon. One of the things I found most appalling was the notion that omnipotent genderless energy beings who can teleport would ever need to "give birth", like pregnant humanoids. This is a huge "aliens aren't humans" fail; on our own planet, even most other mortals don't have the problems with birthgiving that we humans do, and in the Star Trek universe, the mere mortals have transporters to aid with difficult births, so teleporting omnipotent beings having to scream in labor = Alara's brain breaks.
But I found the central idea, that there was a connection between the female Q and Selar, too good to resist. So when I tried to rewrite the story in my head for my bookverse fanon, I tried to figure out what could have been "really" going on that the metaphor Selar was using to see the Continuum interpreted as Suzy-Q in labor. And that's where the problem that leads mom and baby to try to kill each other in the middle of the story comes from.
Also, in my personal fanon, unless it's in a universe where it's not possible because Junior doesn't exist, Junior was Trelane. After I rewatched Squire of Gothos I became even more convinced of it. Because Q, for all his love of chaos, really isn't into war per se. But my fanon Suzy-Q, based largely on her throwaway comment about liking Klingons and her bravery in marching onto a battlefield to save her boyfriend accompanied only by beings she thought were inferior and close to worthless, is a war goddess. So Trelane actually appears to be a perfect combination of the traits of Q and the traits I'd attributed to Suzy-Q in my fanon. Also, I kind of needed Junior to have been raised in the past a lot, because in my universe, it does not take merely four years for an omnipotent being to go from infancy to adolescence, not when his father seemed to have spent five billion years being an adolescent. So yes, the incident referred to in the story *is* Kirk's run-in with Trelane.