Mother May I?

By Akiela Xal

Copyright: The characters in this story belong to Paramount Pictures, the story, however is entirely from my imagination. It is for pure reading enjoyment, and not intended for profit or resale.

Violence/Subtext: Nope, none… sorry.

Teaser: Whatever happened to Q's baby?

Author's Note: This story takes place roughly ten months after the events depicted in the 3rd season episode "The Q and the Gray." This story was originally written and submitted for the Strange New Worlds contest in 2000 and made all but the final cut - the only reason it was cut was that they had too many Voyager stories for that edition. It was written prior to the seventh and final season of Voyager and predated the episode “Q2”.

Feedback: If you've got any, positive or negative, or if you'd like to see more to this story email me at:

His first thought was of an intense blinding light, then there was utter darkness. He didn't know how long the darkness lasted, but while in the void, he could hear voices, indistinguishable, muffled voices. After a time, there was again light, not as brilliant as before, but light nonetheless.

Now there were even more voices, still strange. Sometimes the voices were high pitched like the chattering of a chipmunk and sometimes they were very deep sounding as the waves of the ocean. These voices were frequently accompanied by large, indistinct shapes hovering over him.

Soon he began to see more clearly and was able to recognize those shapes, they were faces. The faces he saw most frequently were those of the one who called itself “Mother” and the other who called itself “Daddy.” These voices often spoke to him and in turn he responded. Mother and Daddy never seemed to react to his responses though. He would have to keep trying to get their attention.

He eventually discovered that by moving parts of his body, he could change his position. This was a new experience and he worked very hard at it. It even took precedence over trying to make Mother and Daddy understand him. Every day he grew more and more coordinated. Soon he was moving around his crib finding and touching new objects that caught his attention.

As he grew, he discovered the “window.” What a wonderful thing. The window showed him a whole new world. He desperately wanted to be out there. He stood up in his crib and peered out the window with all of his attention.

One day as he was studying what was outside, Mother came into the room and saw him, “Sorry, Honey,” she said, “you're too little to go out there just yet.” Too little , he thought, never ! He usually enjoyed the Mother visits, but right now he was experiencing something else entirely, anger. He didn't like how he felt, but couldn't make it stop.

Mother picked him up and rocked him, singing her favorite lullaby and stroking his back. He really liked it when Mother sang to him. It made him feel comfortable and happy. He thought that she should do it much more often. He liked it a lot better when she sang then when she and Daddy had really loud voices. After soothing her son, she put him back in the crib. He watched Mother leave and then sighed, looking after her wistfully. He really wanted Mother to stay and sing to him some more, but he couldn't make her come back.

A bright ray of sunshine fell upon him and drew his attention back to the window. He again wished with all his might that he could be outside. Suddenly, he was! He was outside, in the bright sunlight! What a wonderful feeling! He could feel the warmth of the sunshine on his face, and something else. What was that light touch on his cheek? Mother and Daddy were nowhere to be seen, but he could feel something. He would have to find out what it was, and what it was called.

As he was looking for the source of the wind, he saw something skittering across the ground. He began to follow it as fast as his short little legs would carry him. He tripped over something and began to crawl after the thing on the ground. The ground thing wasn't very fast, so he was able to keep up with it easily.

Suddenly, something swooped out of the air and picked up the insect. He was startled. What now? “Hey, where you goin'!” he cried, or at least that's what he meant to say, but no one else would have understood it. He really wanted to follow the air thing, but he could never crawl that fast. Then he had an idea. If he could wish himself outside, maybe he could wish himself to follow the air thing.

He sat down, stuck his thumb in his mouth, to help him concentrate, and thought really hard. He screwed up his little face in concentration. The next thing he knew, he was flying through the air after the air thing. “Whee!” he shouted. This is fun , he thought, I should have tried this sooner, it's easier than walking .

He followed the air thing over the ground and into some trees. When the air thing stopped at a tree, he was puzzled. Why would the air thing stop at this tree? He went a little closer and peered over the top of the air thing. Oh , he thought, it's got ‘Baby' too . In fact it had a nest full of chirping hungry babies, and the bug it had caught would only feed one of them.

When the air thing left, he got bored and started inspecting the tree. He had never been this close to one before. He touched the rough bark and felt the soft leaves. He followed the tree up and up and up. Then he was above the tree and could see a long, long way. Off in the distance was a really tall thing that looked like a mound of blankets. He flew toward it, but slower than when he had followed the air thing. He was in no hurry, he was enjoying himself.

Captain Janeway was the last to enter the briefing room for the weekly senior officer's meeting. Seated on one side of the table were Chakotay and Seven of Nine. On the other, Tom Paris, Harry Kim and B'Elanna Torres were deep in conversation about their upcoming hoverball tournament. Tuvok sat calmly consulting his PADD. At the end of the table, the Doctor and Neelix were discussing Norlaou psychology.

Captain Janeway walked across the blue-gray carpet and took her seat at the head of the long conference table. She picked up her PADD and looked it over. “OK, people, let's have it. How is Voyager holding up?” Janeway took a sip of her ever-present coffee while she waited for her crew.

“Captain,” said B'Elanna leaning her elbows on the table, “we need more deuterium. Our current supplies will last us a little while, but I wouldn't want to push them too far.”

“I would really like to pick up more food supplies, Captain,” said Neelix sitting up in his chair. “Between our stores and hydroponics, our food will last us quite a while before we have to resort to replicated food. If you can call that food, but I would like to add a little variety to spice things up.” At that both Harry and Tom groaned.

Captain Janeway smiled and said, “Understood, Mr. Neelix. We will look for more supplies as we go.” She took another sip of her coffee.

“I must insist, Captain, that the crew be given shore leave as soon as possible,” said the Doctor with some force. “It has been several months since most of the crew has even set foot on the surface of a planet. People are starting to go ‘stir crazy' as the old saying goes.”

Janeway almost choked on her coffee at the Doctor's remark. “Chakotay, Tuvok do you concur that we need to find a safe harbor for shore leave?” The Captain looked from one to the other. Chakotay merely smiled and nodded in reply.

Tuvok steepled his hands. “I do believe, Captain, that shore leave would be beneficial to the crew. As for supplies, we will either need to find them on a nearby planet or trade with others.”

Janeway looked at her crew. “If I didn't know any better, I'd think that you were all conspiring to get off the ship. Harry, start scanning for suitable planets. Tom, be prepared to change course shortly. Dismissed.” She sat back in her chair and sighed. It would be nice to get some shore leave.

He had reached the tall thing at sunset. It was fun being on the tall thing, but now, the sky was no longer blue. It was purple and growing darker. The little lights , what did mother call them - stars , yes the stars were coming out. Stars he thought . I wonder what stars are like . He once again stuck his thumb into his mouth and concentrated on the stars. He found that he really could concentrate much better when he was chewing on his thumb.

Soon, he was soaring among the stars. He thought that it was wonderful. It was better than anything that he had done yet. He watched stars flare and he even made one star dance. While he was playing, he noticed a very bright colorful spot not far from where he was playing. He went over to the bright dust and studied it. Something just didn't look right.

He pondered the dust. It was very pretty, but it was wrong. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Now, what's wrong with this? He stuck his finger into the dust and made it swirl. He concentrated on the swirling dust. Oh, it was supposed to be another star . He wandered over to the nearest star and studied it very carefully. He looked at the star from all angles and from the inside out. Then he went back to the brightly colored dust and started it swirling faster. He concentrated as hard as he could and made the dust swirl faster and faster, chewing on his thumb all the while. It was starting to condense, but it wasn't enough yet. He knew he had to do something else, but what? He thought and thought and finally he figured it out.

When he was done, he had a new star. Unfortunately, the star looked lonely. He went back to the nearby star and realized that it had company. Since there were still pockets of the swirling dust around his new star, he made them swirl faster and faster. These pockets weren't large enough to make another star, but he did end up with some new planets. The little scamp, had made a whole new solar system with six planets.

After surveying his new toy, he noticed quite a few patches of the brightly colored dust. One by one, he went to these dust pockets and started them swirling. On some of the planets in his new systems, he experimented with different combinations of elements. In all, he created five new solar systems. After the last system, he let out a big yawn. He realized that he was very tired, creating stars was hard work. He looked around and couldn't figure out how to get home. He was lost! He started to cry. He couldn't find Mother or Daddy. He cried a long time and finally he cried himself to sleep.

“What's that?” Ensign Harry Kim puzzled over his console. His brow furrowed in concentration as he tapped a few controls. He looked up and started to say, “Cap....”

“Seven of Nine to the Captain.”

“...tain,,” finished Harry quietly.

“Go ahead Seven,” said Captain Kathryn Janeway barely concealing her grin.

“Captain, long range sensors show unusual activity on bearing 149 mark 72,” said Seven over the intercom from her usual post in Astrometrics.

“What kind of activity,” asked Chakotay leaning forward in his chair. “Not more supernovae?” They had recently encountered another patch of supernovae, that Seven suspected was caused by the Q Civil War.

“No, Commander. In fact, new stars are forming at an unusual rate,” replied Seven. “I am unable to determine the cause at this time.”

“Captain,” suggested Tom Paris turning from the helm, “Would you like me to set course for the area? At warp eight we could be there in about six hours.” His hands were poised over the flight controls, waiting for the order.

“Five point eight nine hours to be exact,” said Tuvok from his post at Tactical without even thinking about it. He did not notice the look Tom shot at him.

“Captain, we could modify one of our long distance probes,” offered Harry Kim looking up from his console. “It just might give us better data than the long range sensors.”

“A most efficient idea, Ensign.” The high praise from Seven caused Harry to blush, but no one noticed.

“Harry, you and Seven modify one of our class nine probes,” said the Captain again concealing a grin. “Let's see what's causing all the ruckus.” Janeway leaned back into her chair and took a sip of coffee.

“Quinlan? Quinlan!” Where could he be, wondered Mother. She looked in the crib. She looked under the crib. She looked all around the room, even in the closet. He must have wandered out of his room. Mother looked all over the house and still couldn't find Quinlan. She went back to his room to see if maybe Quinlan had returned. Mother searched his entire room again. As she stood beside the crib a bird outside the window caught her eye. “The window!” cried Mother. Quinlan was looking out the window earlier, could he have found a way outside?

Mother popped outside and looked around. She searched and searched. Finally Mother found where Quinlan had fallen. She could find no other trace of him. In frustration she yelled, “Q!”

Captain Janeway surveyed her surroundings. The normal clicks and chirps of the bridge equipment were calming. The bridge lights were at “daylight” normal and helped her crew to remain alert. As she surveyed her crew, Janeway smiled and thought of how far they had all come together.

“Captain,” called Ensign Kim from OPS, “we are receiving preliminary data from the probe.”

“By all means, Ensign, report.” Captain Janeway settled back for the report and crossed her legs.

“According to the probe, the supernovae we encountered not too long ago are coalescing back into stars,” said Harry with a shake of his head. “I can't make out why, though.”

This made the Captain sit up with a start. Coalescing back into stars?!?

“Nor can I, Captain,” said Seven from the bridge's aft science station. “I will run the data through the Astrometrics lab to see if I can find anything conclusive,” she finished crossing toward the turbolift.

“Keep me appraised of your progress, Seven.” Janeway stood up and turned to face her. “I am just as curious about this as the rest of the crew. If, as I suspect, this has anything to do with Q I want to be prepared.” I just may turn the ship around to take a look anyway .

“Understood Captain, I am on my way to Astrometrics now. Request permission for Ensign Kim to assist me,” Seven said, pausing at the door to the turbolift. Harry jerked his head up from his console to look toward her.

“Granted, but why, Seven?” asked the Captain raising her eyebrows, “It's not as if you haven't done this before?” It was very unusual for Seven to ask for help with anything.

“As it was his idea to send the probe, I thought that it might be useful for Ensign Kim to assist me in sorting through the data. I have often noted that human ingenuity is a great tool in any scientific investigation.” This made Harry blush a deep crimson, but fortunately for him no one noticed.


Seven, showing compassion , reflected Janeway with a sideways glance at Chakotay . There is some definite growth here. We may just help her learn to be human yet . As Seven of Nine and Harry Kim left the bridge, Janeway turned to look out the main viewer. “What's out there,” she asked no one in particular.

“Captain, you're not going to believe this!” reported Harry Kim from Astrometrics. It was hard to keep the excitement from his voice.

“Try me,” quipped Janeway, “I've traveled more than 70,000 light years from home, made an alliance with the Borg and even dealt with Q, so I can probably believe just about anything.” She sat comfortably back in her chair and waited for the response.

“Well, Captain,” Harry said, “The probe data shows a baby is responsible for the new stars.”

“A WHAT!” cried Janeway. This she was not prepared to hear. Maybe it is time for my physical. I should have the Doctor check my ears.

“Captain,” interjected Seven, “as difficult as this information may be to believe, Ensign Kim is correct. The probe does show what appears to be a humanoid baby present at the star births. However, it is inconclusive whether it is actually the infant who is responsible for the anomalies. I strongly suspect some involvement from Q.”

“I agree,” said the Captain. “Can you put the data on the main screen? I'd like to take a look at this for myself.” The screen flickered and changed to show a different sector of space. A space filled with nebula and in the midst of it all a creature that to all appearances was a human infant.

“Tom, bring us about. Set a course bearing 149 mark 72 at best possible speed,” ordered Janeway. “I want to get a look at what's causing this phenomena.”

“Course already plotted and laid in, Captain,” said Tom Paris turning back to the helm with a grin. “Engaging Warp Nine now.”

“How long, Tom?” asked Captain Janeway, ignoring his impish grin.

“If we hold Warp Nine, about two and a half hours, Captain,” replied Tom.

“Exactly two point four five hours Captain,” offered Tuvok. The look Tom shot Tuvok would have frozen water on a Vulcan summer day. “If we maintain this speed. However, I doubt that B'Elanna Torres will appreciate the abuse to the engines.”

“Maintain course and speed, Tom,” said Janeway. “I want to get there as soon as possible. Q can't be allowed to get out of hand.” A baby, mused the Captain . Could it be Q's son, she wondered . No, it has to be Q himself, there just isn't any other explanation . “Janeway to Torres.”

“Torres here,” came B'Elanna's voice over the intercom.

“Prepare to be a little shaken up. I want continuous Warp Nine until further notice,” said Janeway, her tone indicating that she would brook no arguments.

“Aye - aye Captain. I'll do my best with the engines,” replied B'Elanna. She was too professional to ask questions with the Captain in this mood.

“That's all I ask,” said the Captain quietly, “that's all I ask.”

“Daddy's home!” called Q.

“There you are,” said Q “I've been looking everywhere for Quinlan, and he's nowhere to be found.”

“What,” cried Q, “you've lost my son? I've had such a long, trying day. I come home to my lovely wife and son, and you tell me you've lost him? What kind of a mother are you?”

“You have the audacity to blame me for this,” yelled the female Q. “It was your turn to watch him, but you just had to go off gallivanting and leave me all alone.”

“Well, why haven't you gone Out to find him,” asked Q.

“Out of the Continuum?” asked the female Q. “You've got to be kidding. You don't really think he could have gotten Out at his age do you?” Q can be so dense at times .

“Of course, he's my son isn't he?” replied Q. S ometimes she's just not very bright, he thought. “You keep searching the Continuum in case he comes back here and I'll start looking Outside.”

With a snap of his fingers, Q was gone, leaving Q to herself . Search the Continuum indeed . She had already done that twice. She had searched it from end to end to end, with no success in any of its manifestations. Q did have a point, drat him, Quinlan might yet turn up home any minute, so one of them should stay close.

As Voyager neared the anomaly all sensors were on full searching for the cause of the star births and for the mysterious infant. “Captain,” said Tuvok, “I have the infant on sensors. It is no longer moving.”

“Where is it, Tuvok?” asked Chakotay. He had a sinking feeling that he knew what would be the answer.

“The infant is 300 kilometers off the port bow, Commander,” replied Tuvok.

“In space?” asked Tom with disbelief. He just couldn't believe that any humanoid could survive in deep space.

“In space,” was the deadpan reply. The forward viewscreen changed to show an infant curled up in space.

“Life signs?” asked Captain Janeway, stifling a yawn. She had been on the bridge for twelve hours now and the strain was beginning to show.

“The child appears to be asleep, Captain,” said the ever calm Vulcan.

“Any sign of Q in the vicinity?” asked Chakotay sitting forward in his chair.

“I've scanned space as far as long range sensors will cover, Commander, and there is no sign of Q that I can detect,” interjected Harry. What are we in for now, he wondered.


Now what , thought Janeway . I can't just leave a helpless baby floating in space. Even if it is a Q child . “Harry, can you get a transporter lock on the infant?”

“Yes, Captain,” replied Harry snapping his head up with some surprise.

“Ensign, I want you to beam the infant to sickbay and tell the Doctor I'm on my way,” said Janeway. She stood from her command chair and strolled to the turbolift. The crew looked around at each other as the turbolift doors closed behind the Captain.

“I think it's going to be a bumpy ride,” muttered Tom under his breath.

The Doctor looked up as the doors to Sickbay whisked open. “Ah, Captain” he said. “The infant has just arrived.”

“How is it, Doctor?” asked Janeway striding into the room.

“He's just fine.” returned the Doctor. “He is sleeping peacefully. Which is something that you could use yourself, I might add Captain,” he said, running his tricorder over Janeway.

“Doctor,” Janeway rebuked, sometimes the Doctor could be insufferable . “Is this infant who I think it is?”

“If by that, you mean is it a Q, then you appear to be correct,” replied the Doctor, examining the infant with his tricorder. “I do not know if it is the prankster Q that seems to enjoy haunting Voyager , or if it is the female Q whom we encountered, but it is Q. While the outward appearances which they manifest are easily distinguishable, my scans find it virtually impossible to tell them apart.”

“Thank you Doctor,” said Janeway as she turned to depart.

“Wait, Captain,” the Doctor called, stopping Janeway in her tracks. “There is nothing wrong with this infant, you can't just leave him here. I am not equipped to take care of a child, especially a Q.”

“What are you suggesting, Doctor?” asked Janeway turning to face him.

“I thought that since the infant appears to be Q's son, and you are his Godmother, that you would like to spend some time with the baby,” replied the Doctor.

“Me? I'm a Captain, not a Mother,” quipped Janeway. I'm starting to sound like a cliché she thought. The Doctor crossed his arms and gave Janeway a hard stare. “All right,” she sighed, “I'm scheduled to be off duty soon. I'll take him with me then.” With that, she turned on her heel and left.

“Captain, I think that you would be a wonderful guardian for the infant while he's here,” said Chakotay, trying desperately to hide his grin. He strode over to the windows in Janeway's ready room to give himself time to recover. “After all, didn't Q first ask you to be the mother of his child?”

“This is nothing to laugh about, Commander ,” Janeway replied, emphasizing his rank. I know, I would find it hard to contain myself if the situation was reversed, but it's not. Janeway spread her hands on her desk. “I have other responsibilities, to this ship and this crew. I can't play nursemaid until Q decides to come claim his son.”

“Well, you could ask Ensign Wildman if she has time to take care of him. She seems to make a wonderful mother for Naomi,” said Chakotay turning to face the Captain once again.

“I already tried that. She and Naomi both have the Bromali flu,” replied a frustrated Captain Janeway. “I really wouldn't want to expose a baby to that, even if it is a Q child.”

“What about Neelix then?” queried Chakotay. “He is pretty good with Naomi, and really, he's just a child at heart himself. I'm sure he'd love to help with the child.”

“Would you really want me to subject a baby to Neelix and his cooking?” asked Janeway. “Q would probably destroy all of us for that. Besides, Neelix has been busy preparing for our meeting with the Norlaou delegation next week.”

“Already asked him, huh?” smirked Chakotay. “Well, you are always looking for ways to help Seven expand her horizons. What about her?”

“I hadn't thought of that,” muttered the Captain. “I knew there was a reason to discuss this with you.”

“Of course, the cargo bay isn't a very accommodating place for an infant either,” mused Chakotay as if he hadn't heard the Captain. He walked back across the room and gripped the back of the empty chair. “I don't think Q would appreciate that very much either.”

“We keep coming back to Q,” said Janeway settling back into her chair. She craned her neck to look up at the tall First Officer. “It all boils down to when Q will return looking for his son. I don't want to cower to him, but he is still a relatively unknown factor. We never know quite what to expect from him.”

“I think, Captain, that our best course would be to remain in the area and wait for Q to find us. We have no way to get back to the Continuum. Unless, you would like to take the ship on another ride through a supernova?”

Kathryn Janeway slowly got up from her chair and crossed to the door of her ready room ignoring his last remark. Chakotay turned as she neared the door. “Commander, I will be in my quarters. You have the bridge.”

The door swooshed closed behind her leaving Chakotay alone in the room. He could no longer contain himself and burst out laughing. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he returned to the bridge and sat in the Captain's Chair. “Tom, set a course for the nearest new star system so we can see what's been happening.”

Now that Q was by himself, he had no idea where to begin his search. Q tried going to the big bang, but no Quinlan. He went to the end of the Universe, but no Quinlan. He even tried most of the parallel time lines, but still no Quinlan. Where could that child be? He doesn't seem to like my favorite places. Who could he ask for help? Certainly not another Q , he thought. No, that would never do. Picard? That's it I'll go see what Jean-Luc has to say!

She sat up straight in her bed. Something had awakened her from a sound sleep. What was it , wondered Janeway? There it was again. It sounded like a cry from the other room. That's right! The baby Q.

She got out of bed, grabbing her robe in the process and hurried to the other room. She entered the baby's room, still tying her robe as she looked at him. So tiny, sitting there in the crib. Her heart went out to him. He must be frightened , she thought, waking up all alone in a strange place .

Janeway bent down and picked up the whimpering infant. She walked over to the chair holding him tightly and began to rock him, humming her favorite childhood lullaby. Slowly, the baby quieted his tears and began to cuddle close to Kathryn Janeway. She kept rocking him and eventually he fell back asleep. I had forgotten how good it feels to hold a sleeping baby. She leaned back in the chair, to rest her back, and let her mind wander. She wondered what it would have been like to have children of her own. As she was thinking these pleasant thoughts she drifted off to sleep herself.

“Tuvok to Captain Janeway,” the communicator chirped, startling the Captain from a sound sleep.

“Janeway,” she said sitting bolt upright startling the infant still in her arms. “What is it, Mr. Tuvok. This had better be good to wake me up.”

“My apologies, Captain,” replied Tuvok, “I was unaware that you would still be asleep at this hour. We have discovered something very interesting in one of the restored systems.”

“On my way, Tuvok,” Janeway said looking at her chronometer. 0900 ! I must be getting soft in my old age . She put the baby back in his crib for the moment. Turning away from him she placed her hands on her back to work out the kinks from sleeping in the chair all night. Janeway freshened up and threw on her uniform, running a quick hand through her hair. She surveyed her room and again saw the infant. A smile crept over her features. Well, little guy, what am I going to do with you today? I'll just have to take you with me for now.

Heads turned as the doors to the bridge whisked open. The crew was too well trained to comment about the young child riding on Janeway's hip, but that did not prevent some of them from smiling when they returned their gazes to their consoles. Captain Janeway felt the wisest course of action was to ignore the smirks. “Report,” she asked lowering herself into the command chair and rearranging the infant on her lap.

“We have moved from our previous position to the nearest regenerated star system. And have discovered some unusual readings,” said Tuvok. “This is the third such system that we have investigated. It appears as though not just the stars have been replaced, but the planets which orbited them.”

“Captain,” Harry interrupted, “the planets have mid-level life-forms on them! There are even primitive mammals, which, given enough time could develop sentience.”

“Your enthusiasm may be premature, Ensign,” ventured Tuvok. “The species he refers to does bear a resemblance, however, to the quintak of Deniva II in the Alpha Quadrant, which has developed a rudimentary form of sentience.”

“Gentlemen, are you telling me that there is life on these planets?” asked the Captain with some surprise. “Planets which did not even exist two days ago?” Janeway looked down at the smiling infant on her lap and couldn't help but marvel at what he appeared to have accomplished.

“Captain, I am not sure that the Q infant is the one responsible for the creation of these systems,” Tuvok said. “This may be some elaborate ploy of Q's to once again hinder Voyager. I recommend we go to Red Alert and prepare for his imminent arrival.”

“Point noted, Tuvok, but I disagree,” Janeway replied. “We must assume that Q will be returning to claim his child, but I do not think that Red Alert is warranted at this time. We will remain as we are until Q causes us problems.” A beat passed, then, “Tuvok, I would like you, Seven, and Ensign Kim to go to the planet's surface and take a look around.”

“Aye, Captain.”

“Aye, Captain, anything specific that you would like us to look for?”

“Just smell the roses, Ensign,” returned the Captain cryptically.

Q found himself on the Enterprise secondary hull. Now, what should I say to Picard? Hello, have you seen my son today? Q paced back and forth along the hull pondering his situation. No, he thought, Jean-Luc would help me, but would never let me live it down. Sisko? Yes, I'll try him.

The three Voyager crew members materialized on the new planet's surface. Tuvok already had his tricorder out and was scanning the surroundings. Harry took a deep breath. He had never smelled air quite so sweet and fresh. “Wow! This is beautiful,” he exclaimed, “and look at that view!”

“I too find this to be aesthetically pleasing,” replied Tuvok.

This from a Vulcan? thought Harry.

“There appears to be an abundant selection of flora and fauna to be found here.” Tuvok continued scanning the surrounding area and frowned.

Harry and Seven walked a little ways off and Harry bent down to have a closer look at one of the native flowers. “Well, I'll be,” he muttered. “This looks just like a Terran rose.” He broke off one of the delicate flowers at the stem and handed it to Seven.

“What is this for, Ensign?” asked Seven looking at the flower now in her hand.

“Well, the Captain told us to smell the roses,” said Kim, “so here's a rose for you. A rose by any other name...”

Seven looked at him with those penetrating eyes and he seemed to shrink away just a tad. “C'mon, Seven, it's just a flower, it won't hurt you.”

“On the contrary, Ensign, I believe that we should return to the ship immediately,” interjected Tuvok.

“Why,” asked Ensign Kim with confusion.

“I will answer that when we are back aboard,” replied Tuvok. “Voyager, three to beam up.”

“Wait, Tuvok, just let me get one more rose for the Captain ...”

Harry stopped dead in his tracks as he, Tuvok, and Seven entered the Captain's ready room. There were toys and blankets strewn everywhere and in the middle of it all, a laughing infant.

“I see motherhood agrees with you Captain ... but we have made an important discovery,” finished Tuvok before Janeway had a chance to reply.

Harry held the now wilted rose out to the Captain. “I picked this just prior to beaming up, Captain,” he said. “It now appears as if it had been picked several days ago. I should know, I have given enough roses to Libby to see them wilt like this.”

“What Ensign Kim is trying to say is that this planet appears to be accelerated. I believed that if we were to stay on the surface of the planet for any length of time we would begin to age more rapidly as well,” said Tuvok.

“So, Commander, you are suggesting that I cancel all shore leave requests?” asked Janeway. “Does this appear to be a permanent phenomena?”

“I have run a preliminary analysis on the planet, Captain,” said Seven. “Based on the amount of time which has lapsed since the planet's rebirth and the current state of evolution, I'd say that the planet is greatly accelerated, but it does appear to be slowing down. It will not coincide with our time stream for several months, however.”

“We don't have months to sit here and wait for the planet to slow down so that we can safely study it. I gather that if we were to remove any stores from the surface of the planet, they would end up just like the rose?” asked Janeway.

“I believe so, Captain,” replied Harry with a grimace. “Some of the plants I saw there strongly resembled plants from home. I guess I'll just have to resign myself to what Neelix calls food.”

Janeway shot him a frosty look at the last remark, but allowed it to slip into a smile. “All right, Seven, Harry, get as much data as you can about the planet while we wait for Q to show up. If he's not here by this time tomorrow, we are resuming course for Home. Dismissed. Oh, and Tuvok, I'll be in my quarters, you have the Bridge.”

Q found himself sitting on the central hub of Deep Space Nine. He crossed his legs and thought some more about his situation. Deep Space Nine slowly rotated on its axis giving Q a good view of the surrounding space. At that point there was a flash from the wormhole, but Q didn't seem to notice. No, Benny would laugh at me and tell me to solve my own problems. Of course, if Sisko didn't, that minx Major Kira would lay into me. OK, who's left? Janeway? Yes, that was it! Kathy would help me, after all, she has that maternal instinct, whatever that means. She could never let a helpless child stay lost.

Finishing the lullaby, Kathryn Janeway laid the now sleeping infant in the crib and turned to enter the main room of her quarters. She crossed the room and was about to sit on her sofa when she was interrupted.

“Kathy,” said Q as he materialized in Captain Janeway's sitting room. “I was hoping you would help me with a teeny, tiny, little problem.”

“What is it this time, Q?” asked the Captain placing her hands on her hips.

“Well, I thought that you might be able to help me find something,” replied Q with a slightly sheepish look on his face.

“What would I, a mere mortal, be able to help you find?” returned Janeway, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

Q didn't seem to notice her tone. “My son, you remember him, cute little fellow about yea high,” Q motioned with his hands. “Well, he seems to have wandered off,” he finished in a rush.

“Wandered off?” she asked, all innocence. “How could you let your son wander off?” I'm not going to let Q get away with this one so easily, thought Janeway.

“I left him with his mother, and well, you know Q...” Q started.

“Yes, I know Q,” interrupted the Captain her voice raising just a notch. “Both of you. You are the most irresponsible beings I have ever known. Don't you know what it means to be a parent? It means that that child should be the most important thing to you.”

In the other room, Quinlan could hear the raised voices and it woke him up. This time he remembered where he was and didn't cry out.

“Now, Kathy,” countered Q, “don't be upset with me. I'm innocent here. It was all Q's fault.”

Just then from the other room came a loud, distinct, “Da Da!” as Quinlan recognized Daddy's voice.

Both Q and the Captain turned at the sound. “I just put him down for his nap, Q, and you had to go and wake him.” Janeway chuckled as she walked into the bedroom to get the infant.

“Ah, there you are, my boy!” shouted a jubilant Q following the Captain. He held out his arms to his son.

The infant looked from Daddy to the Captain and back again. He stuck his thumb in his mouth and chewed on it in concentration, then held his arms out to Q.

“How's Daddy's little boy,” cooed Q, “You shouldn't go wandering off like that, you gave me quite a scare. Yes you did.”

This was a side of Q that Kathryn Janeway had never seen. It was actually rather endearing. “Well, Q, now that you have your son back, I suppose you'll be going?” hinted Janeway. “You know, he's quite a remarkable infant. When did you teach him to make stars?”

Q's head snapped up. “Make stars?” he asked with a blank look on his face. “I've never taught him to do that.”

“Hmm, he must have learned all on his own then,” said the Captain.

“Kathy, what are you talking about?” asked Q.

“Look around Q,” Janeway said. “Look at all the new stars around here. Your son created them from the supernovae which your little Civil War caused.”

“My son did that,” said Q looking down at his son nestled against his chest. “You must be joking.”

“No joke, Q. We actually have some of it in our sensor logs if you would like to see for yourself,” offered the Captain.

“I think I just want to get my son back to the Continuum.” Q looked down at the infant with the smile of a proud papa. “Say bye-bye to Kathy, Quinlan.”

The infant Q looked at Janeway and waved his chubby little hand as he said, “Bye, Ca'in.” Janeway looked at him in surprise. Then father and son were gone.

“That is an experience I will never forget,” said Janeway. She crossed to her desk and sat down. “Computer, Captain's log supplemental ...”

The Q infant, Quinlan, sat in his crib looking out the window. It was night and he was looking at the stars thinking about Ca'in. He missed her and thought that he would have to visit her again someday.



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