Disclaimer: Star Trek the Next Generation and Star Trek Voyager and their characters are the property of Paramount. They let pocket books have them and look what they did. I'm just cleaning up for them a little.
Spoilers: The majority of the relaunch novels (both TNG and VOY) and Kirsten Beyer's "Isabo's Shirt"
"Jean-Luc, really! I'm surprised at you. You don't call, you don't write, you don't send flowers..."
Jean-Luc Picard looked up from the PADD he was reading at the incessant droning of what was perhaps his least favorite immortal being, not that he hung out with many, "Q!"
"Oh, look! You do remember my name!"
"What do you want, Q?"
"Why do you always assume I want something, mon capitaine?"
"Because you always do."
"Touché," he had to concede that Picard did have a point. " Well, this time I have a deal to make with you."
"No, not a deal," Q said more to himself than to Picard. "Perhaps more of an exchange..."
"Well, no... a gift," again more to himself. "Yes, that's right, a gift!"
"You, have a gift? For me?"
"No thank you, Q" Picard went back to reading the PADD.
"But you don't even know what it is yet."
"That's right, and I want to keep it that way."
"Oh, but Jean-Luc... you'll like this one."
"I highly doubt that."
"But this is a really nice gift."
"Then why do you want to give it to me?"
"Well, I was ordered by the Continuum to 'get rid of it' "
"So, you figured you could leave it here." If he ever wanted to get rid of him, he'd just have to cave and let him tell him what it was, "All right, Q, what is it?"
"Oh, Jean-Luc, I knew you'd want to know! You'll really like it."
"Somehow I doubt that." Q, didn't seem to hear him and snapped his fingers, nothing appeared in the ready room. "Well?"
"Wait for it."
"Wait for what--"
*Crusher to Picard*
He glared at Q as he answered the hail, "Picard here, doctor."
*Captain, please come to sickbay--immediately*
Picard's concern for his wife was evident, "Beverly, are you all right?"
*I'm fine, but there's just been an unexpected arrival in sickbay that you'll have to see to believe.*
"I'm on my way." he closed the link and turned to Q, "What did you do? Who is in my sickbay?"
"You heard your wife... 'you'll have to see to believe.'"
"I'm not in the mood for games!"
"And I'm not playing them." Q snapped his fingers and they both appeared in sickbay.
"Captain," Beverly called as she made her way over to them, "Q--I should have known. That is the only logical explanation to this at any rate." She gestured for her husband to follow her to an unconscious form on a nearby biobed.
"Admiral Kathryn Janeway." Q stated smugly.
"But she was killed by the Borg."
"She was killed by the Borg when the Einstein was--"
"Oh, Jean-Luc... think outside that simple human brain of yours for a second," Q tapped Picard's skull and his hand was instantly slapped away. "Was a body ever recovered?"
"So you all just assumed she was dead?"
"There was no hope of recovering a body under the circumstances."
"Well, there would have been a body, no thanks to you had Q not interfered."
"Weren't you listening? Q, did."
"Q? Oh, your..."
"She couldn't very well let Junior's Godmother be eaten by a Borg floor now could she? So she brought her to the continuum."
"Aww, are you jealous, Jean-Luc? I had to ask Kathy first, considering she was originally going to be his mother. But don't let that sway your decision when choosing a godfather for this little guy," Q placed his hand on Beverly's ever growing midsection and instantly removed it as Beverly growled and the baby within kicked at the offending appendage. Conspiratorially he turned back to Picard, "Are you sure he's yours? If I didn't know better I'd say he's already inherited a certain Klingon's temper."
"Q! I'll--" Had Picard not taken a hold of Beverly's hands, she would have struck him.
"Never mind, he clearly gets that from his mother."
"Q, please continue with just how Admiral Kathryn Janeway came to be lying on a bed in my sickbay."
"Yes, well Junior saw what the Borg were doing to her and asked Q to save her. You know the Continuum's rule about interfering with the Borg, so she waited until just when the floor opened up and," he snapped his fingers, "snapped her out of there.... literally and figuratively."
"All of this time, you've had her? It's been over a year, Q. Why didn't you send her back in the beginning?"
"Yes, about that, Q didn't want to at first."
"She didn't want to?"
"She was still rather jealous that she was my first choice for procreation. Women, you understand," he noticed Beverly glaring at him so he took Picard by the arm and led him to the other side of the biobed. "She wanted to spend some time with her, to perhaps figure out what it was exactly that I saw in her."
"Q, I assume there's a point in this somewhere." Q nodded and Picard continued, "Please, get to it."
"Well truth be told, she got bored of her rather fast."
"So again, why not send her back sooner?"
"Time has a way of getting away from you in the Continuum. An eternity can be a second and a second an eternity. Any who, she's back now and happily ever after."
"You had mentioned the Continuum ordering you to get rid of it--her. Why?"
"Yes, well funny thing there. You know how sensitive the Continuum can be to someone trying to kill you day in day out."
Beverly stifled a laugh and Picard couldn't fault her. Good for Janeway, he thought. "Doctor, why is she unconscious?"
"Medically she's in perfect health. I'm not sure why she's unconscious."
"You try dealing with a pissed off Kathy! So much easier to deal with her this way." Q sat on the edge of the biobed and tenderly lifted Janeway's hand, "She'll wake up on her own in a bit. Please send her my regards when she does." Q dropped her hand back down and got up off the bed.
"You're leaving? Not going to wait for her to wake up and send them yourself?"
"You're funny, Picard." He snapped his fingers and with a flash of light, he was gone leaving the captain and doctor to marvel over the form of Janeway on the biobed.
"Starfleet isn't going to believe this one," Jean-Luc said breaking the silence. "I suppose I should make a call in. Are you sure she's really all right?"
"So far as I can tell, she's better than all right. There's no evidence that she was ever assimilated. No scars, no implants, nothing. Even the implants that her EMH was unable to remove back in her Voyager days seem to be gone. As I said before, she's in perfect health and I guess we just have to wait for her to wake up on her own."
"Any idea how long that will be?"
"At the moment I can't say, and I have no idea how she'll react when she does wake up."
"I should go make that call to Starfleet Command. The moment she--"
"The moment." Beverly nodded at him with a smile and after a quick glance around sickbay to make sure they were still alone, Picard quickly kissed her on the lips before making his way back to the bridge to place the call.
Picard placed the call from his ready room and was not at all surprised by Starfleet's reaction to the news that Admiral Janeway was in fact alive and currently asleep in sickbay aboard the Enterprise. They ordered the ship to return to Earth ASAP and he had helm lay in a course, but their eta was about two days away. He hoped that would give Kathryn Janeway a chance to readjust to life outside the Continuum before being thrust back into life on Earth and the questioning hands of HQ.
It wasn't long after he placed the call that Beverly had asked him back to sickbay where Janeway was finally rousing from sleep. He placed another quick comm-call and by the time he got down there, she was already sitting up on her biobed and in deep conversation with Beverly.
"Why Captain Jean-Luc Picard, what a pleasant surprise. I never expected to see you again."
"I can say the same. How are you feeling?"
"Alive." She smirked. "For the first time in I'm not sure how long, I feel alive."
"Has Doctor Crusher adequately caught you up to speed?"
"And then some," she shared a smile with the good doctor. "Congratulations. Marriage and impending fatherhood really suit you, Jean-Luc."
"I think I have you to thank for some of that."
"Me? How so?"
"Your supposed death made me realize just how precious life was. It was the catalyst for me finally coming to my senses and really letting Beverly into my life," he squeezed Beverly's shoulder. "I cannot thank you enough."
"So some good did come of everything, I suppose. I'm very happy for you, Jean-Luc -- for both of you."
"I've already placed a call in to Starfleet and they were going to tell your mother and sister that you are here, and then let your old crew know. Jean-Luc turned to Beverly, "Doctor, is she clear to leave sickbay?"
"Absolutely, I can't find any medical reason to keep her here any longer," she smiled at Kathryn.
"Thank you, doctor."
"Then let's set you up in some guest quarters," Picard suggested.
"That sounds like music to my ears. I'd kill for a hot bath and a real cup of coffee. Not in that order."
Picard could understand her desire for a cup of coffee, he'd often felt the need for a good cup of tea himself, "Then after your coffee, if you want, we'll get you a comm-line with Earth. I imagine there are a lot of people who would very much like to hear from you."
"There's one call in particular I do need to make. I'm about a year late for dinner and I hope I can be forgiven." Kathryn smiled and Picard offered her an arm and winked at his wife before escorting the Admiral from sickbay.
Kathryn slipped off her newly replicated robe and stepped into the steaming water. This tub wasn't as big as the one in her old quarters aboard Voyager but she could honestly say that this was the best bath she'd had in well over a year. The Q didn't have need for bathing. She'd learned rather quickly that they didn't have need for a lot of things. Apparently they also didn't have need for telling the truth. When she'd first been taken to the Continuum, Q (the mate of Q) had informed her that she could never go back, but promised her that she'd have all the coffee she could drink. There was no coffee, but then again that wasn't exactly a lie as she couldn't drink anything anyway. As to never going back, well, that was now obviously a lie too.
She'd been so bored in the Continuum. It was nothing at all like it had been in her first two visits and she spent her first few weeks there plotting ways to kill Q, not that she thought she could actually kill her, but the plotting gave her something to do. She had also spent some time wandering around the Continuum, that's when she found out that they had an entire facility filled with those big black hats they sometimes wore. Wall to wall hats, from floor to ceiling... not that she could see a ceiling but she imagined they had to end somewhere. Finding the hats and subsequently spending a week lost among them made her realize that she would never understand the Q and reaffirmed her belief in not even wanting to try.
She sank further into the water now also remembering the feelings she'd tried to bury early on. She knew they all thought she was dead, hell, she thought she was dead. And she had spent a great deal of time grieving for her family and friends, for her mother and sister, her crew, but mostly for Chakotay. The first thing she'd done once set up in her guest quarters, aside from ordering a cup of coffee before Picard had even left, was put in a few calls to Earth. She started with one to her mother, but a message service informed her that her mother was out and would forward the information for her to call her back when she returned. Then she had managed to speak to her sister, although not much talking was done as they had spent the bulk of the time just looking at each other over the line with tears in their eyes. And finally she'd called Chakotay, the call she was most looking forward to and most dreading. But like her mother, there was again no answer, but in Chakotay's case, not even a message. She remembered just a few weeks before she'd gone and gotten herself assimilated, ribbing him about their planned dinner in Venice. About all the things she'd do to him should he not show up, and here she was the one who went and missed it. She'd set it right now, set it right and hopefully pick up right where they had left off.
She slipped her head under the water, she was going to wash all thought of the Q away and begin her life anew when she stepped out of the tub.
"You are up to something, Jean-Luc." Beverly shook a breadstick at him from across the dinner table in their quarters.
"What makes you say that?"
"Gee, I don't know. Could it be the fact that you took a while longer than you should have to get down to sickbay this morning? Or that wink you gave me as you escorted Admiral Janeway out? Or perhaps the way you keep looking out the viewport for something?" Jean-Luc smiled, he knew when he was caught. "So what are we watching for?"
"Well, not just any shuttle, the Delta Flyer. I called in a little favor."
"Just a little favor? Wasn't Starfleet still looking it over and equipping it with a highly experimental advanced warp drive?"
"All right, a few favors."
"And just who is on that shuttle?"
"Janeway's former XO, the Captain I treated a few months back?"
Picard nodded his head, his mouth full.
"Jean-Luc, you are a hopeless romantic."
He couldn't help but smile at her, "The way I see it, we owe her one."
Chakotay's mind was a still in a virtual fog as he tried to process all that he'd been told. Kathryn wasn't dead. He'd spent the last year of his life mourning her and she wasn't dead, the Q had had her. He couldn't count how many times in his journey through the Delta Quadrant aboard Voyager that he'd wanted to strangle the immortal being. Strangle him, space him, blow him to tiny bits and now the thought of hugging him crossed his mind for the briefest of seconds. Maybe a firm, good natured handshake would suffice. For once in their miserable existence, the Q had done something that could almost be considered kindhearted, they'd saved Kathryn Janeway from imminent death. OK, so they'd forgotten to send her back right away , but she was safe, she was back and Chakotay was never going to let her get away from him again... granted he still had to fly what felt like the longest flight of his life to see her.
So here he sat manning the controls of the Delta Flyer on a course to rendezvous with the Enterprise in a few hours. He wasn't sure how Captain Picard had managed to get him the Delta Flyer with it's newly installed and advance warp drive, but the thought was fleeting for all that mattered was that he was going to see Kathryn. See her, hug her, smother her with kisses and show her just how much he had missed her.
He had packed light and in a hurry, what could he possibly need that couldn't be replicated? The only thing that he grabbed from his home before being transported onto the craft was the small box Kathryn had given him during their journey. He ran his finger along the carved lines remembering the little snafu they had gotten themselves into with the box. She had given it to him as a birthday present, representing their friendship, but the symbol she had mistakenly chosen had represented love. She did love him, but she couldn't be in love with him during that time and the presentation of the bonding box had led to some hurt feelings, some declarations and eventually a much needed and long avoided talk. He had returned the box to her with the symbol she'd originally intended, under the guise that he'd read it wrong himself and she was in fact right. She saw through it, he knew it, but neither spoke of it again. It wasn't until a few months after her death, when her mother, Gretchen, had asked him to come by for some tea that he was given the box back. Gretchen had been cleaning out Kathryn's San Francisco apartment and had come across her medicine bundle. She'd once asked her about it and had learned that it was something Chakotay had taught her about, so she decided that it would be an appropriate memento for him. It was inside it that he found the bonding box, changed back to sport the original symbol of love. He'd cried himself to sleep that night with the knowledge that she did love him and was ready to love him. Now, he had every intention of returning it to her. How many times had he had that dream? The one where he'd wake up next to Kathryn and the whole last year had all just been a nightmare. That Kathryn had met him in Venice and she had been the one to give him back the bonding box and they lived happily ever after. Sometimes they even had a dog. She always said she wanted to get another one and he'd always secretly hoped that she'd want to get one with him. He'd have that dream, then he'd wake up for real and the horrible truth would set back in and he'd feel more alone than he had before. If this was a dream, he didn't want to ever wake up.
He continued on his course for the Enterprise knowing his life was about to change for good and hopefully for the better.
"Captain Chakotay, it's so good to see you again," Jean-Luc shook the younger man's hand. He looked much better now than he had in their last encounter, right after the initial Borg attack in the Azure Nebula.
"Thank you, Captain Picard, but it's just plain old Chakotay now."
"Well, Chakotay, I imagine you have a lot of questions, but I think it may be best if we just let her tell you herself."
"She's really here?"
Picard wasn't sure if it was really a question or more of a statement for Chakotay's own benefit, but he reaffirmed it anyway, "She's here."
Chakotay looked to the doctor, "And she's really OK?"
"She's better than OK," Beverly smiled at him and added, "and I bet she'll be thrilled to see you."
"Does she know I'm here?"
"Then no offense, but what are we waiting for?" Had he known the way on his own, Jean-Luc and Beverly thought he might have run the whole way to Janeway's guest quarters.
Just outside her door, Picard and Crusher watched as Chakotay's excitement faded and nervousness took over. "For over a year, I've gone to sleep at night, lying to myself that this was all just some awful mistake, that she was really alive, but then I'd wake up and have to face the truth again. I'm almost afraid that ringing that chime will be like waking up and she won't really be in there."
Beverly took Chakotay's hand and gave it a reassuring squeeze, "She's really in there."
"Shall I?" Picard's hand hovered over the chime and at Chakotay's nod, he rang it. A few seconds later the doors swished open and Kathryn Janeway greeted Picard, she had tear stains on her cheeks, Chakotay and Crusher were just out of sight.
"Are you all right, Admiral?"
"Kathryn, please. I'm fine, I just got off the comm with my mother. It was just so good to hear her voice."
"I can only imagine. I didn't mean to disturb you--"
"No, no. Not in the least. It's so nice to have people to actually talk to again. Would you like to come in?"
"Actually, I brought a guest who you might be interested in catching up with."
"A guest?" Jean-Luc tilted his head to the side and Kathryn stepped out of her quarters enough now to see Beverly standing with a man. She stepped a little further out to make sure her eyes weren't deceiving her as to who that man was. In three more steps, Kathryn was tightly wrapped in Chakotay's arms and both were crying. Beverly moved to stand next to Jean-Luc and slid her hand into his.
"I'm so sorry I missed Venice," they heard Kathryn mumble into Chakotay's chest.
"We'll get there now," he replied into her hair. Jean-Luc was sure they would this time and he and Beverly began to make their exit down the corridor.
"We'll leave you to get caught up and I'll have quarters arranged for you, Chakotay."
"That won't be necessary!" Kathryn and Chakotay chorused and slipped into her guest quarters.
The recycled air was chilly against her naked back, she didn't mind it, in fact she reveled in it as it made her feel alive and was a nice contrast to the warm arms that held her securely. She ran her thumb over the small wooden box she had clenched in her fist. She was well sated, talked out and content to just be held for the rest of eternity, well, that was until his arms tightened around her and she felt him place a kiss in her hair.
"Mmmm, you're awake," Kathryn mumbled into Chakotay's chest.
"Afraid I'll go to sleep then wake up and this will all be another dream."
"I know the feeling. I keep waiting for Q to pop in and say 'gotcha' or something."
"He does that and I'll strangle him."
"Second week. Didn't do much good, but it sure felt good to try." Chakotay could feel her smirk against his chest.
"Exactly how many different ways did you try?"
"Am I that predictable, Chakotay?"
"Only to me. How many?"
"You have to understand, they lied to me about having coffee."
"Three hundred and forty-seven."
"It would have been more..."
"But," she replied a little sheepishly, "I spent a little time lost."
Chakotay couldn't help but laugh, he knew they'd now have the rest of their lives for her to tell him all about it. "Gods I've missed you," he kissed her and proceeded to show her for the third time that night, just how much.
It had been another long eventful day, they'd arrived back in orbit of Earth a little earlier than expected and arranged it so they could beam Janeway and Chakotay to Venice with instructions to report the following day to Head Quarters. No sense them having to delay that dinner even longer and what good was it to be considered a hero among Starfleet if he couldn't pull a few strings once in a while.
Picard picked a book up off his night table and settled into bed next to his already sound asleep wife, the sudden appearance of Q in the small space between them didn't come as much of a surprise. "Did you like your gift?"
"For once, Q, you seem to have done a completely selfless thing. Although I can't help waiting for the other shoe to drop."
"So cynical, mon capitaine."
"With just cause, Q. I know you."
"Pfft. It was nice of you to send for Chuckles. I can't figure out why, but Kathy does seem to really like him."
"I figured I owed her one. The whole quadrant does."
"Speaking of owing one--"
"No, you cannot be the godfather of our son."
"Yes, I know, " Q snarled his lips and looked down on the sleeping form of Beverly next to him on the bed, "Red, already asked the Big Oaf to fill that roll."
"Then what was it you wanted?"
"I was just thinking, Q Picard does have a nice ring to it, don't you think?" Picard raised a skeptical brow in response and Q continued, "No? How about Qubert? Quentin? Quincy? Quixote? Quirin? Quico? Queeg? Quinty? Questor? Queequeg? Quintus? Quinaro? Quinian? Quillan?"
Jean-Luc replaced his book on the night table, pulled up the covers and called for lights, "Good night, Q."
"Wait! I've got it! Jean-Q?"
A/N: This story falls into the same time frame as one of my previous stories, About Venice. So if you're interested in what Janeway and Chakotay might have done in their time there, I suggest you read it :)
And for kicks...
Janeway to Q: "You said there'd be COFFEE!"