Author's Note: Dedicated to Thyme, with thanks for all her editing help throughout the year!
“Put it back!” Picard didn’t wait to see
if Q obeyed; he simply slammed out of his private quarters. He trusted that Q’s
sometimes lacking sense of judgment would see that King Tut’s Sarcophagus would
be returned to the New Egypt Metropolitan Museum back on Earth where it was
currently on display.
“You’re really terribly difficult to shop
for,” he called after his irascible lover, knowing that his words would not
travel through the starship’s soundproof walls. With a blink of his omnipotent
eyes, the rejected Christmas present, which he had thought perfect for a man
with a love of all things archeological, was back where it…belonged. Ah, there
was the rub.
Pierced with an unwonted stab of
introspection, Q found himself in Ten Forward.
“Trouble in paradise, Q?” a dry voice
inquired. Q rolled his eyes. Oh how he hated that insufferable, all-knowing,
“Why, hello, Guinan. How are you this
fine…whatever it is, night, day? Who can tell out here?” Q slumped down on one
of the bar stools. Jean Luc insisted he be polite to the wretched creature and
since she was on much better terms with him than Q was most of the time, it
behooved him to comply. Though surely the two of them had never….Ewww.
She did look awfully smug. And awful was
how she looked when smug.
“I’m well, Q. Can’t say the same for you,
can I? In what way have you highlighted for Jean Luc how completely
inappropriate a companion you are for him this time?”
Q raised a bleary face to her. “Aren’t
bartenders supposed to be sympathetic listeners? Much less Listener bartenders?”
“I listen to those who have something to
say that I want to hear,” was her tart reply. “In your case, I can guess it all
without even trying. It’s almost Christmas and you undoubtedly tried to
overwhelm Jean Luc with some example of your omnipotence. Your alleged god-like
status.” Guinan sniffed.
“Who’s an alleged god?” Q asked
“You are. And worse, you aren’t even good
at being a fake one.” Before he was tempted to give a demonstration, she held up
her hand in a placating gesture. “But! What you can become better at is caring
for Jean Luc. Starting with this Christmas thing. That is, if you want to.”
Q frowned. He hated to accept help from
anyone, especially her, but he had to admit, he was a clueless Q when it came to
this Christmas thing. He already knew that he loved what Jean Luc was giving
him. A day. A whole day with no captain duties, to spend any way that Q
wanted…with the usual “no destroying life” type of caveat that Jean Luc insisted
should go without saying and then went on to make Q say it. Spoilsport.
Still, it was going to be lovely to spend
a day together. Just the two of them, and Jean Luc relaxed. He was really
looking forward to it, more than he had anything in a long time.
Q had forgotten Guinan was present until
she had to spoil the moment by speaking. She talked an awful lot for one of a
people known as Listeners, if you asked him.
“When you look like that, and I know
you’re thinking about him, I can almost believe you really care,” she said
“I really do care, you blight on the
universe,” Q snapped. “I care enough to hate that I have no clue what to give
him for a present, and if you care about him as much as he thinks you do, you
might unbend a bit and give me a hint. Or does that saucer like hat keep you
It was Guinan’s turn to roll her eyes. “I
won’t tell you what to do, but I will give you a suggestion. Read this.”
She handed Q an old, well-worn book, a
children’s book in fact.
“The Littlest Angel?”
Q read aloud. He looked back at Guinan. “What am I supposed to do with this?
Give Jean Luc an old used book? It isn’t even age appropriate.”
“You aren’t to give it to him, Q,” Guinan
answered impatiently. “You can’t. It’s already his. Read it, and it should give
you an idea of what you might want to give him.”
Without another word, she walked away and
left Q to his own devices.
Q wanted privacy so he took himself to an
M Class Planet in the Viridian Galaxy. Quite pleasant and blessedly devoid of
Al-Eurians. He stared at the book for quite a while before finally opening it.
The book was quite old, over four hundred years, but it had the look of a
treasured nursery favorite rather than a museum piece. The author, Charles
Tazewell, was unknown to Q; he wasn’t one of Jean Luc’s favorites from earlier
Earth history, such as that Charles Dickens person, or William Shakespeare. The
pictures were …Q searched his mind for a word…pretty. That was what they were,
pretty. The little angel in the story had chubby cheeks and dimpled knees and Q
found himself laughing as he read of the troubles the little boy angel got into
with the older angels. Rather reminded him of himself and his problems with the
Q Continuum. The homesick of the little boy — that struck an odd note.
A Q does not have a birth home to miss.
But an earthling does. A captain of a starship does. While a splendid gift such
as the sarcophagus of one of the great dead Kings of Earth’s history might not
be tempting — would the simple treasures of a boyhood in France?
Q sat and thought for a long time after
reading the final pages of the sweet children’s story. Then, he got up with a
new look of determination. He had some shopping to do!
Next stop, Earth. LeBarre, France, to be
exact. Circa forty years ago should do it, Q decided.
Christmas morning dawned much like any
other morning on a starship, Jean Luc had long since discovered. But not this
time. As he rolled over in bed and grumbled for the computer to silence the
wake-up announcement, he smelled the distinct smell of real coffee roasting.
A very different smell from replicated
coffee. And it was in his quarters. He sat up quickly, hoping he was not
dreaming, because he also could swear he smelled fresh croissants too.
“Felix Noel, mon Capitan!” Q walked into
the bedroom wearing nothing but a frilly apron. Jean Luc smiled. While he did
not like to cater to Q’s ego, he had to admit that the man had some parts that
certainly did border on god-like. At the moment, however, his attention was
quickly drawn from Q’s parts to the items on the tray he was carrying.
“Is that fresh, real, coffee I smell?”
Jean Luc asked hopefully.
“It is indeed, and croissants just the
way Mama used to make. Indeed, these are exactly the way your Mama made them. I
copied her recipe.”
“Q, you…you leave me speechless. This is
marvelous,” Jean Luc exclaimed, getting up on his knees and leaning forward to
kiss Q softly. “Thank you, this is a lovely Christmas surprise.”
“Oh, this is not your present, Jean Luc.
Or rather, it is only part of it. Eat up, eat up, and then I will give you the
“Dare I hope it rests beneath that
fetching apron?” Jean Luc teased, feeling mellow after a sip of the delicious
French roast coffee, and a taste of the buttery, melt in your mouth croissant.
When Q got something right, he was thinking, he really got it right.
Q batted his hands away. “Down, you
beast.” He grinned. “I always wanted to say that — I feel all Beverly Crusher
inside.” Then he shuddered. “On second thought, it’s a squickly feeling.” He
pulled off the apron and clambered into bed with Jean Luc, leaning forward to
return the kiss. “Eat up and then we will start our day, which you promised as
my present from you, and later I will give you my present to you. Agreeable?”
“Quite agreeable,” Jean Luc nodded, then
took another taste of croissant. It really did taste just as good as the ones he
remembered from his boyhood. “Remarkable,” he said again.
Their day together was wonderful. To Jean
Luc’s surprised delight, Q did not insist upon demonstrating his magnificent
power throughout the day. He did use it once to enable them to visit Bethlehem
circa 0 A.D., and they sat on a hilltop and watched a magnificent star shine
brightly in the night sky. Then, traveling back to LeBarre, they went hiking
through the forest, throwing snowballs at each other and sharing a picnic lunch
over a campfire which Q insisted Jean Luc had to make.
Finally, as night fell, they sat in the
village church and listened as a choir sang Ave Maria and Silent Night.
They held hands in the back row and sang along, their voices blending in perfect
harmony, Q forbearing to engage in any musical show-boating.
As they walked hand in hand through the
village, Q commented, “Odd how the stars look so different from here, isn’t it?
They seem so…insignificant, compared to the happenings in this little village,
such as whether that lad will manage to win a kiss from that maiden. However did
you manage to tear yourself away, Jean Luc? However did you know there was so
much more behind those lights than meets the eye from here?”
Jean Luc looked up at the night sky. “At
this moment, I cannot tell you, Q. I can only say that when I was young, I was
positive that nothing of import would ever happen here and all that was worthy,
all that was good, was occurring out among those stars, and I had to be a part
“Would you have gone if you’d known the
coffee would be so bad?” Q’s tone was serious but the tell-tale twinkle was back
in his eyes.
Jean Luc laughed. “It is perhaps
fortunate that I did not know of that hardship until it was too late to turn
A moment later, they were back in the
Captain’s quarters. A small wooden box sat on the low table in front of his
sofa. Seeing it, Jean Luc went to his private store of liquor and retrieved a
bottle of “real” wine, which his brother had sent to him many months ago,
telling him to save it for a “special occasion with someone special.”
This seemed to qualify.
“Will you join me in a glass of wine, Q?
It is real, I can promise you, and not synthehol.”
“Then I am pleased to accept,” Q said,
transforming his clothes into something suitable for lounging. He looked at Jean
Luc questioningly. He had learned — no more changing his lover’s apparel or
location without asking, even if only silently. When Jean Luc smiled and nodded,
he took that as assent, and garbed him in satin lounging pants and a velvet
smoking jacket that exposed his muscular chest.
Jean Luc handed him his glass, then
raised his own in a toast. “To a lovely day and a merry Christmas.”
“To the federation’s finest captain,” Q
added, causing a smile to break out over Jean Luc’s face.
They clinked glasses and then drank.
Sitting down, close together, thighs
brushing, Jean Luc looked at Q expectantly.
“So…now do I get to open my present?
Although I must say, my present of giving you a day to spend as you wish ended
up being as much a present to me as it was for you. I enjoyed today very much.
Thank you, Q.”
Q smiled. “Thank you. I believe I am
finally learning that I do not need to show off all I can do to make you happy —
rather the opposite, yes?”
Jean Luc sighed, a happy sigh of relief. “Yes, that is exactly it, yes!” He kissed Q, the kiss lasting several moments this time. Finally, Q lifted his head away reluctantly.
“If I want you to open this before
Christmas is over, I think we must pause those activities for a brief time. I
really do want to see what you think of your present. I must confess – after my
very disastrous attempt, I sought help.”
Jean Luc frowned. “You didn’t tell Deanna
“No!” Q looked insulted. “Why? Do you
think either of them knows you better than I do?”
Jean Luc smiled faintly and shook his
head. He was truly perplexed by the wooden box. Could Q have spoken to Work? Or
“Did you speak to ….”
“Guinan.” They said the name in unison.
Jean Luc laughed at the hangdog expression on Q’s face.
“You really did sacrifice for me.
Whatever it is, Q, that gesture alone makes it mean the world to me. May I open
it? I confess, you have me extremely curious.”
“Go ahead, but if that wretched….” He saw
Jean Luc frown so he changed his comment to “ delight of a woman steered me
wrong….well, I guess it would be my fault. So, open it already!”
Hiding his smile at Q’s attempt at
humility, Jean Luc did just that. Inside the box were the type of “treasures”
one would never find in King Tut’s tomb…but one would find in the treasure box
of a small boy in France who dreamed of the stars even as he studied the secrets
of the Earth. There were shiny rocks with interesting colors, a bit of
fossilized wood that showed the clear outline of a bird’s feather in it, a ball
from an old game of stickball long over but never forgotten due to the victory
over the odds it represented, and many other similar “treasures.” A boy’s life,
told in rocks and sticks and bits of this and that.
Jean Luc turned the items over in his
shaking fingers, his sight blurred for a minute or two.
“Did I do right?” Q asked anxiously.
“You did exactly right,” Jean Luc murmured, then wrapped his arms around his god-like Q and took him to heaven.
Once upon a time, a mortal boy went to
heaven, and there he was called upon to bring a gift to his infant God, who
would be King over all creation. And he chose the things that had been his
treasures when he lived his mortal life among God’s creations on Earth, and his
humble gift was deemed the best one of all for the baby who would be God, and
King of all.
For Q, the silly god-like creature who
loved a man, and sought to bring him a gift that would mark this special day, he
too chose the things that were among the man’s treasures on earth, before the
man traveled the stars, seeking new worlds and meeting god-like creatures. And
Q’s gift, given with new-found humility, was deemed the best gift he could have
given to his love who was not a god-like creature, but something better, a man
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