The Q Files - part 4

In which a mysterious stranger returns...

Kathryn Janeway cradled her coffee cup and frowned, the aft sensor array was being, temperamental. B'Elanna and her Engineering team had spent most of the day trying to reconfigure it and she had spent the day travelling between the Bridge and Engineering, getting under her Chief Engineer's feet and snapping at anyone who couldn't provide her with the answers she wanted.

The report she was reading now seemed to indicate that the problem was solved, it didn't say for how long though. She could really do without another day like this one.

'Knock knock!' She'd called out,

'Come in,' before she realised that her door had a chime and wasn't made of any substance that sounded remotely like wood when you knocked on it.

David Q didn't walk through the door, that was far too easy. He just appeared sitting next to her on her sofa. At the same time two glasses of red wine blinked into existence on the table in front of them.

'It's a very good vintage,' her companion observed, 'and I now you've had a difficult day.'

'Thank you,' she couldn't think of a single reason to refuse and so took a small sip of the wine, savouring the depth of the flavour and the warmth that spread through her.

'I would have dropped by earlier, but I gathered you were busy. I didn't think you'd want to deal with me and the aft sensor array.'

'Are you going to be as much of a problem as that?'

'I hope not.'

'So do I. My Senior staff were rather bemused by your request, ' she said leaning back into the couch, turning her head so she could see his face. He sat back as well and sighed.

'They don't trust me.'

'No, they don't. I'm not sure that I do for that matter, but I'm prepared to give you the benefit of the doubt. There are some conditions.'

'Of course.' She looked up, exasperated at his tone, making fun of something she was taking very seriously.

'Don't mock me!'

'That's the very last thing I'm in danger of doing Captain...'

'The conditions are that you stay here - no more coming and going at the click of your fingers. We'll assign you quarters, which I expect you to use. If you want to find out about this crew I suggest you spend time with them, get to know them. This isn't a passenger ship - we all have roles and responsibilities.'

'Including me?'

'I'm not sure, I don't want to take advantage of your...'

'Omnipotence? I won't let that happen, and I won't interfere with any delicate systems that I shouldn't. I'd like to do things around people - it's a long time since I've had to do anything.' And that, she thought, was surely the problem with the Q Continuum. Too much wilfulness and not enough responsibility.

'If you're serious about this I would suggest you spend some time with Neelix, Naomi Wileman and Seven of Nine. They all have interesting perspectives about what life is like on board Voyager.'

'If I'm serious? I didn't realise you were such a sceptic Captain.'

'I've learned the hard way to be cautious.'

'Yes, I'm sure you have, forgive me. This isn't the kind of situation the average Starfleet Captain expects to find themselves in. Alone, without Starfleet to guide you. I suppose I'm interested in that as much as anything.'

'Why?' There was something there, something unspoken that passed between them, like a ripple on the ocean.

'Hasn't anyone told you recently how fascinating you are Captain? That's a great pity.' That was audacious yet his tone made the words sound far less serious than they might have. She laughed, delightedly and decided she was going to enjoy having him around, even though she didn't trust him.

'Let me show you around my ship.'