A Thing of Beauty...

Author: jm
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Disclaimer: Oh, yes, I don't own the characters or the playground they play in. Paramount/Viacom does. I'm just borrowing them for a bit. Not for profit, of course.
Betas: Lyrastar, who was just awesome. Thank you for reeling me in! Sara, who went above and beyond the call of duty to manage beta'ing for me.--Hugs! Jen, great for pointing out the tricky P/Q bits. Julie, my Data beta. :-) Thanks guys!!
Notes: Part of the Kinky Valentine's challenge. Kindly archived, along with other kinky holiday gems, by Downdilly at: Holiday Slash This story is a sequel to "Brand New Day". Thank you to Lloyd Alexander, for bauble inspiration. I promise to take good care of it, Eilonwy, and return it the way I found it. A tip of the hat to Wilde, who is lightly sprinkled herein. Incidentally, "Je baiserai ta bouche" is from "Salomé", and means "I will kiss your mouth". The title is from Keats, of course. These ::: ::: are for someone's thoughts. Thanks to Kira for the challenge, and to Downdilly for the re-worded summary.



A THING OF BEAUTY


"And all that faith creates or love desires,
Terrible, strange, sublime and beauteous shapes."
--Percy Shelley, "Prometheus Unbound"



They had just finished wrapping up a meeting. Ever a perfectionist, he wanted, no, needed to be positive that they had covered all the bases. Picard had already sent in preliminary reports to Starfleet, but he wanted everyone's final thoughts before he sent in his last report on the goodwill mission to Regara II. Each side had been wary. Keeping the peace was all-important. The last day encompassed many intricate rituals involving love, courtship, and coming together. The crew tried to remember to do and say the right things. It had all been extremely exhausting. Even now he could feel the tension coiled inside his body.

A PADD lay in front of him, reflected in the shiny black surface of the table. Just as he was about to activate it, a slender hand reached out from behind him and placed itself over the screen. "Captain, may I suggest that you let that wait until later? I can feel that you need a break. This has been hard on all of us, but as the Federation's chief representative, it has been hardest on you. It has been a while since you have taken any time off. You might want to do that now." Troi carefully lifted her hand back off the PADD.

"Yes, I'll keep that in mind. Thank you," Picard answered absently. He went for the PADD again when another voice unexpectedly joined in.

"Sir, I must concur. You are showing signs that you are in need of recreation. Even without empathic abilities, I have come to notice these things in humans through my careful observation of human--"

"Of course, Mr. Data. You're quite right, I'm sure." Anything so they would leave and let him get back to work. Why they had lingered when everyone else had gone was beyond him.

"It would seem that you are merely 'humoring' us, Captain. Perhaps, if you desire to keep working, we could discuss the interesting roles that the inhabitants assign to gender in love and mating rituals. They appear to have a highly complex system arranged, by which emotional and physical aspects of intimate relationships are controlled." Data paused, seemingly content to sit and talk for a while.

Deanna gracefully bowed out with a brief smile for them both. She figured it wouldn't be long before the captain found an excuse to make an exit himself. Hopefully, he would be heading towards the holodeck or his quarters. It would probably be too much to ask that he appear in one of the more 'social' parts of the ship.

"Well, I suppose that we had better just consider ourselves lucky that they didn't demonstrate the more personal physical facets of their culture," Picard remarked.

"Yes, Sir. I suppose that is so." Data had the air of one trying to seek the 'proper' response to something. "However, I am still fascinated with what they did reveal to us, Captain. I am interested in the Regarin's ideas on the role of gender preference in matters of personal relationships. In this current time period, humans seem to take for granted that people will decide for themselves which gender they will choose to be intimate with, and leave it to them. However, the Regarins hold that a person misses out if one does not have the chance to experience such intimacies with both genders. They believe that this will allow one to find out which gender they will prefer."

"Yes, well, perhaps we will find that gender preference really does not matter as much as we think. That it is a matter of the time, the situation, and the person involved which dictates our choice of partner. I personally feel that one's sexuality is more complicated than that. That it lies beyond the confines any 'categories' can provide." He couldn't believe that he was discussing such things so casually. Perhaps it was because it was Data. After all, he usually didn't mind helping guide Data closer to humanity. And this should be no different. As long as it didn't get personal, certainly. Which he couldn't see happening anyway.

"Interesting. And yet, the Terran culture does rely on such distinctions. Said culture of which you are a part, Sir. I am always curious to learn more about what is considered the correct human response to all such things, of course," Data said.

"Right. And I wish I could be a better guide in such matters. But, I fear that my experiences have not been ones which I would like to hold up as a model, Data." Picard sighed. "I'm probably not explaining this very well. It's a complex subject with no easy answers. And cultural influences certainly play a part. We have encountered numerous different cultures in which the relations between people, whether physical, emotional, or some combination of the two, are defined in a variety of ways."

"Yes. Encountering new life forms is always a rather informative experience. And each time we are able to revisit a planet, it gives us a chance to gather additional information. I find these times are a good opportunity to understand what it is to be human. As a matter of fact, Captain, knowing your opinion on our recent mission would allow me to contrast your views with my own findings, thus affording me a greater understanding into the human experience." Data looked at Picard expectantly.

"Ah. Well. I'm not quite sure what you wish to know, Mr. Data."

"Oh come, Jean-Luc. Why so coy? You see, android, the man is quite reluctant to get to the point. Please do enlighten us, Captain. The professor of humanities is waiting. I would be delighted to hear your take on the 'definition' of our relationship." Q had appeared in one of the chairs facing Picard and Data. He was leaning back with his arms folded across his chest and a smirk on his face.

"Q." Data cocked his head at the alien lounging nearby. "I have found that some humans feel such matters are rather personal."

Jean-Luc Picard unconsciously straightened his uniform. The man was getting a most unpleasant feeling in the pit of his stomach. There was Data, who, despite his seeming insight just now, probably didn't realize how he was making the captain feel. And Q, who surely did, and appeared to be enjoying himself immensely. Picard was sure that somehow the conversation was going to turn rather uncomfortable quickly.

"I suppose you are right." Although Q was speaking to Data, he was looking at Picard out of the corner of his eye. The words he spoke sounded patently insincere. "I guess I could be persuaded to offer up some information, however. It would give you a unique opportunity to learn something from the Q perspective." The entity gave the android a falsely innocent smile.

Data lifted his eyebrows. "What an intriguing notion, Q. Especially since, as far as I can determine, the Q appear to have no specific assigned gender. This could add a whole new dimension to the equation."

Sometimes, Jean-Luc really hated it when he was right.

"You are correct, android." Q steepled his fingers together and looked straight at Picard with a faint look of relish.

"Q..." Picard's voice held a warning note.

"Oh! Captain, is this line of inquiry disturbing you?" Data looked quickly from the captain to Q and back.

Picard weighed his words carefully. "Data, I share your curiosity for learning about other life forms and their ways. After all, that's why I'm out here. And, asking questions is one of the best methods I can think of to attain information. But, ah, there are certain things that I am uncomfortable sharing with others. I am a rather private person, as you know. And this is a topic that I am not at ease discussing, on the whole."

"But Jean-Luc, it would be me discussing such things, if you will recall, not you." Q certainly managed to come off sounding quite reasonable.

What was he supposed to say to that? Giving Q a mental tongue-lashing came to mind, but Data would be expecting him to say something aloud. He really should know better than to let Q annoy him like this and back him into a verbal corner. Instead of defending himself, he ought to take the offensive position. "Q and I...my gender is obvious and, well, Q's..." Here he trailed off for a moment. But in that same few seconds he collected himself once more, his voice strengthening.

"I've always thought of him as a man, even if that is not strictly true. Frankly, I suppose our situation is a perfect example of how things can depend upon a great many factors besides the parameters set up by past relationships." There. He was rather proud of himself for managing that.

:::And you forgot to mention that I was hardly the first 'man' that you engaged in sexual congress with, Jean-Luc. There was that one time while you were at the academy--:::

:::Yes, yes. I hardly think it's appropriate to go over my sexual history with Data, however.:::

:::While the immortal ol' Q has hardly had the track record you can claim, despite the eons of time I've got on you...:::

:::Stop teasing, mon petit dieu. You won't make me ashamed of my past again. And what about the Q? Do you not have an equivalent to sex amongst each other? Any past relationships that I should know about?:::

:::'Sex', as you call it, between the Q far transcends anything humans can realize. And, of course, it is beyond any mere labels. I can't wait until our relationship has evolved to where we can try it, mon capitaine. There are no past relationships that you need concern yourself with now, Jean-Luc. It is you, and you alone, whom I love. I'll have you know that I am completely faithful.:::

:::And, I suppose that I will just have to take your word on that.:::

:::You wound me, Jean-Luc.:::

:::I've heard that one before.:::

Oblivious to the mental communion, Data spoke. "I appreciate your candor, sir. And, please, forgive me. It was not my intent to cause you any discomfort. I do not make it a habit to seek any knowledge of your personal relationship with Q. However, Q's bringing up that line of questioning led me to believe that you might not object to my asking him about himself. Apparently I was in error."

"Hmm? Oh yes, it was Q who brought that particular question up, wasn't it? Well, Q, what was it that you were going to offer up for Data's benefit?" Jean-Luc wondered briefly what he was getting himself into.

"My take on this is a simple one. Humans make things entirely too complicated. Companionship is a necessary evil. When we are in need of it, we seek it out. When things don't work out, we leave. Things often don't work out between the Q. We are entirely too combative for anything permanent. And so we roam the universe looking for amusements in other places, other times. If we're lucky, we can keep from being bored for the next millennium. If we are very lucky," here Q's voice dropped down rather low, "we find something far more precious."

Picard was finding out more about Q through this exchange than the entity probably realized. Ironically, while the being had clearly hoped to gain further insight into Picard, just the opposite was now taking place. It actually saddened him to think what existence must be like amongst the Q if the entity had such a cynical outlook on relationships. He hoped that he had helped change all that. It certainly seemed as if he had.

Data sat considering for a moment, slightly puzzled. "Q, are you referring to intimate personal relationships as 'amusements'? It has been my experience that humans wish, usually, to take them much more seriously."

"Oh please! Do you think that my only diversions are of the intimate kind? Relationships with the emotional weight you seem to be applying to them are possible with a Q; it's just that they tend to happen only very, very rarely. Anyway, I really have no interest in your evaluation of petty human social behavior," Q replied scornfully, waving a hand to emphasize his point.

"I find that somewhat odd, Q, considering you appear to be studying humans," Data spoke thoughtfully. "Besides, that seems to contradict your earlier statement--that you wished to hear the captain's answer on the subject."

"Not much gets past you, does it, android? Well, that was because it was Picard's answer, of course."

"Ah." Data sounded for a moment as if he understood.

"And why should I concentrate on merely being educated in human ways? I certainly think that there are places where a human could benefit from becoming more Q-like. Although, lucky me, I get to combine business with pleasure." A suggestive smile appeared on Q's face.

Picard frowned immediately, while Data looked merely puzzled. A brief silence settled over the room. Picard quickly made his expression blank. He wasn't about to give the being any advantage here. Picard was still slightly angry at Q. A thought, however unworthy, suddenly crossed his mind. Two could play this game. It would be Picard's turn to observe the entity's reactions. Data sat lost in thought. Q searched Picard's face for a hint at his thoughts. Often his promise to respect Jean-Luc's privacy was downright inconvenient.

Suddenly Data stood up. "If there is not anything else, Sir, I request permission to leave."

"Granted. As a matter of fact, we were just leaving as well." Picard looked over at Q. Data left the room.

"Were we?" Q made a move, preparing to snap.

"No!" Picard quickly held out a hand. "We'll walk."

"Very well."

Hmm, it seemed Q had attempted to become more accommodating. Perhaps it would be interesting to see where this would lead. And maybe he could do the unexpected himself. This is exactly where he would start to throw the being off. There would be plenty of time to discuss what had just taken place.

"Actually," the captain produced a smile for Q, "I don't think I'd mind terribly if we just went directly to my quarters." The only outward reaction to this was a raised eyebrow from Q. Then they were abruptly in the main room of Picard's living space.

----


"So, you decided to forgo the little tête à tête in the turbolift. Interesting. But now I suppose I'll hear all about it. I'm waiting, Captain." Q leaned against a wall and folded his arms across his chest.

Picard walked over to the replicator. "All about what, Q?

"Tea, Earl Grey, hot. Will you be having anything?" He deliberately kept his tone light. It clearly kept the entity off balance, and the captain loved every minute of it. This was working perfectly.

"No. If I were, it wouldn't be from those inferior little machines, anyway. Are you sure you wouldn't rather have me whip you something up, Jean-Luc?"

"I think I'll survive for tonight, thank you," he replied dryly. He placed an order. A small sandwich and salad materialized in the opening and Picard brought the plate to the table. "Are you comfortable over there, leaning against a wall, my love?" Jean-Luc let his voice ooze mocking sweetness.

"So nice to hear you're concerned, darling," Q shot right back. The alien threw himself into an extremely unusual, overstuffed armchair that hadn't been there a moment before.

"You don't find regulation Starfleet décor quite to your taste, Q?" It was amazing how just being close to the entity was lifting his spirits. Here he was, able to engage in casual banter, so shortly after the foul mood he had been in before. Even from the across the room, the presence of his lover was making his body hum with awareness and need.

"Oh, please! It's downright drab and utilitarian in here! I admit that you've made some attempt at personalizing the place a bit. But really, I could do so much more in here for you."

"You seem to be purposely forgetting, Q, that I've already seen the results of your 'enhancements'."

"Yes, and I can't imagine why you made me change most of it back. I still contend that this place would be vastly improved if you had let me leave things the way I had them."

"And a great deal more cluttered, as well. I do still have to live here, you know."

Q gave a theatrical, long suffering sigh. "Riding around in primitive fashion in this little tin can of yours, spending endless amounts of time on piddling, inconsequential pursuits..."

"Well, I'm so sorry I'm boring you, Q." Picard snapped sarcastically.

"You never bore me, Jean-Luc. There is an endless supply of wondrous possibilities for us, however. If only you would let me free you from this limited existence!"

"I believe I've already given my answer, Q. It may not have been clear-cut, but this is not a cut-and-dry issue for me. You yourself helped me see that. You will have me, for an eternity if may be--or not--but I have to be free to live out the mortal life that has been given to me. You are very important to me, but so is this life, my life. I don't know how I can make it any plainer than that." The power of his conviction showed clearly in his strong voice.

"No one's happier to hear that than I am, mon capitaine. It's just difficult to wait. It's hard being patient when you're omnipotent. Instant gratification and all that, don't you know." Q actually looked rueful.

"And, in the interim, you get to 'combine business with pleasure'." Jean-Luc was quoting Q from earlier. And they both knew it.

Q decided to try to feel his way. "I'm sure you are annoyed with me, Johnny, but--"

"You were seeing how far you could push? Enjoying my discomfort? Or trying to learn more about me without having to ask directly?"

"Being myself?" Q offered mildly with a raised eyebrow.

Picard sighed quietly and went to put his plate away. Turning, he walked slowly across the room to join Q in the wide chair. Their eyes were locked on to each other the entire time. Instead of swinging his legs off to the side, Q spread his legs to make a space for his lover. Without a moment's hesitation, Jean-Luc sat and leaned back into the broad chest behind him. "I wonder how much of all that is an act, Q."

"Wondering is good for you." The being's breath was doing incredible things to the nerve endings in his neck. He could feel that mouth poised right at his ear. Perhaps this familiar pose had been meant to be menacing at one time, but now there was certainly no denying the erotic overtones present. Warm, strong hands were moving up from behind to slide up over his shoulders and across his chest. A single finger of one hand slipped into the snug neckline of his undertunic, lightly tracing the skin underneath. "My, how inconsiderate of me! I haven't given you a chance to change out of your duty uniform yet. I can take care of that for you if you like."

The captain could already feel the beginnings of an erection occur just from this simple closeness. Picard had been planetside for several days now, and Q hadn't shown up during that time. Yes, he missed being like this, and pressing into him from behind was ample evidence that Q was also becoming aroused. But... "Q, what I really want right now is to talk."

He thought about the glowing blue object now at rest in a drawer of his nightstand. This might be a perfect opportunity to get Q to elaborate on its function. There always seemed to be something keeping them from exploring the subject before. And now there would be time to deal with all his questions. The anticipation of discovery was so enjoyable, he wanted to draw it out more.

"You misunderstand me, mon capitaine. I'm not suggesting that I completely remove our clothes...yet. But a little change in our attire surely wouldn't be amiss, hmm?"

"I suppose I don't have any objections to that," Picard answered agreeably.

"Good." And the being lifted his hand off the human's chest long enough to lazily snap his fingers before starting his tease anew. The shirt now covering Picard's chest helped in this area a great deal. It was sporting a very wide opening cut most of the way down his chest. Q's fingers brushed themselves across Picard's nipples as he said, "You wished to talk, remember?"

"Q, you are...so distracting." The skilled hands and lips of his lover set out to work their magic upon his body. A particularly sensitive spot well known to Q was targeted mercilessly with tongue and teeth. Instead of direct contact on bare flesh, Q switched to sliding over the top's fabric, allowing the course weave to abrade tender skin. Then Q had one warm hand moving lower, to brush the insides of his thighs. There was answering heat between his legs. He felt his mind warring with the baser instincts of his body. This would be easier to take if he felt that the entity was similarly losing control.

So Picard twisted around to reverse the situation. He was so close to Q's face now. He could feel a breath caress his features. An inner smile touched him at the thought of Q making himself human enough to breathe. He reached up and took hold of Q's head with both hands. A feeling of possessiveness seized him. He bit down on the chin in front of him, then stared at the deliciously lush mouth just centimeters from his own. "Mmm, mon amour. Je baiserai ta bouche, Q. Je baiserai ta bouche."

A single idea from Picard was directed straight at Q. :::Mine.::: The entity could pick up the difference and catch these thoughts without violating their arrangement. And then Picard was doing wonderful things to his partner's mouth. Just the tip of his tongue traced the full, yielding lips. Then firmer pressure as lips met lips, grinding the mental conflicts in the physical joining, disintegrating them into dust as their mouths crushed together in passion. Slow and thorough, Picard gave and then took in equal measure. As it went on he could feel Q struggle to dominate the encounter and then finally give in. When he pulled back he could plainly see the stunned reaction he had caused in Q's expression.

"You are not holding anything back from me now, I see. Good. If I must let go, I want to know you are as well. This makes things easier now," Picard said. The whole thing had strongly affected him too.

Q immediately turned them so they were back in their former positions. There could be many ways to interpret that remark. He didn't want to appear to be floundering. "You amaze me. Thank you, mon capitaine. I--needed that."

Picard fought himself for a moment, and then decided to give up a small confession too. "And you. Such a powerful mind and personality. The one thing I have never been able to do is ignore you." A pause. "I am trying to get back to our earlier conversation, however," he continued.

"I didn't set out to purposely annoy you. And it's not like I gave away anything truly personal to Data. He already knows about us anyway."

"Data, and the rest of my senior officers, knows about us because I felt that they should. But, I'm not about to make a shipwide announcement of our relationship." Not only was there no trace of anger or sarcasm as he spoke, but Picard could feel an irrepressible happiness surging up inside. How had he managed not to really notice how lonely he was before finally letting things come together between them? And he had held back at first even after he realized how much he needed the entity. "I was afraid," Picard quietly breathed out. In the next instant he realized that he had spoken aloud. There was nothing that could be done about it now, though.

"I'm glad to see some of that buried sense of humor coming out," Q remarked. Then he paused. "You were afraid...of us?"

"You know me so well, even when you're not reading my mind. How perfect." And the amazing thing was, the man meant it, completely.

"I had to work so hard to woo you. Stubborn human." There was nothing but fond affection there.

"Yes, I recall all the silly little clichés you resorted to. It was rather endearing how you tried to go with an almost textbook-like knowledge of seduction." Picard actually chuckled.

"I get a laugh! How wonderful. You know, there is vast gap between knowledge and experience. I tried my best with you, considering my complete lack of experience in such matters. And I still don't understand the point of giving dead foliage as a token of love. How silly humans are with all their convoluted ways of courtship!"

"'Dead foliage'? Oh, you must mean the cut flowers you gave me. I must say, I'd never thought of it in that way before. Quite an impressive bouquet, and it lasted for a rather long time."

"Ah, well, the flowers had some help, Jean-Luc."

"Of course. You tried that maneuver before, but never so directly. I was surprised. And you said, if I recall correctly, 'I'd court you with more grace, if I knew how.'"

"How embarrassingly ridiculous I was. Completely besotted over you." Q began to run his fingers over Picard's rib cage in a manner very close to tickling in order to distract the captain from what he said.

Jean-Luc grabbed the mischievous hand and held it. "Well, it ended up working, didn't it?"

"Yes. Let's engage in some silly courtship behavior right now. I'll take you somewhere fun and we'll do something deliciously kinky." A kiss to the side of the man's face punctuated this statement.

"Why is it that we have to leave the ship for this sort of thing? We've enjoyed each other right here with no problems before."

"Come on, Jean-Luc! You have a Q at your disposal! Now, wouldn't you like to take advantage of that? Besides, you used to run off to that trifling little holodeck often enough when you wanted an adventure. I can do so much better than that bit of machinery." He was back to whispering in the captain's ear in a lust-filled voice. "And, I can provide a place for us to be completely open about our relationship. Haven't you ever wanted to do it in public?" Picard sucked in his breath. "Of course you have. Everyone has. And you well know that wouldn't be possible on this ship. Imagine if Riker came upon us kissing in the halls?" Q laughed. "His jaw still tightens up at my mere appearance!"

"I don't want to imagine that, Q." But the captain was smiling at Q's teasing. He also had to admit to himself that the idea Q put forth was causing his blood to heat most powerfully. These little excursions had the most pleasant outcomes when he freely left everything up to the entity. Hmm, it surely wouldn't hurt to just let go and enjoy himself. This was one valuable lesson that Q had painstakingly taught his lover.

Or maybe it was because it was Q. There was something about the very nature of the alien that made it a little easier for him to give up a bit of control. Let him do things he wanted to do anyway. Was it the seeming power imbalance? Or was it the fact that the entity knew him so thoroughly, down to the last particle of his soul? He certainly hadn't asked to be examined so completely.

Besides, he felt that he would go mad if he didn't have Q soon. Picard desperately needed to touch and taste that body currently wrapped closely about him. To be able to bask in the reactions his lovemaking produced in his partner, and to be able to share his own feelings in return was pure bliss. Before Q, he had been used to not sharing himself with lovers, even during that most intimate act. But the being demanded it, pulled it from him, and it was better than he could ever imagine. If Q sex was far beyond even that, he wasn't sure he'd be able to survive it. But he trusted the entity to know when the time would be right for it.

Picard started to mentally chastise himself. So just say yes, Jean-Luc. Don't analyze it to death. Right. But I'm not sure exactly what he means by 'public' sex. There is a certain thrill in not knowing ahead of time, however. And the counselor did say something about taking a break. At this rather embarrassing turn of thought, the captain blushed furiously.

Q was ever observant. "Thinking about us, Johnny?" He was practically leering. This would be wonderful. Here was a chance to help Jean-Luc let go of some of that tightly held control. Something the man certainly needed. And wanted, though he could not easily ask for it directly. Q took it for granted that Picard would agree to the offer. Who knew that the disgusting little mortal act of sex would turn out to be so much fun? It certainly had seemed rather pointless from the Q perspective. And to think it took this one human to get him interested. But it wasn't all fun and games. His lover needed it. Even the buried thought that he had come to need it too, couldn't banish his smugness over his musings.

"So, are you ready?" Q tightened his arms around Picard.

"How did you know that I would go along with it?" The captain turned around to stare at his other half. For an answer, Q leaned in and kissed Jean-Luc's mouth as they flashed out.

----


They were standing now, but still locked in a kiss. A bright courtyard surrounded them. The mechanics of Q travel would probably forever confound Picard. Where had they traveled? Were they even in the same galaxy? These questions and more might have surfaced in his thoughts, except for the sweet, wet, deep kiss that was driving everything else from his mind.

As their lips slowly parted, Picard tried to center himself, but instead found his eyes drawn into the dark gaze of the being before him. "Q," he said unsteadily, feeling desire flood his body. Skilled, warm hands ran up Picard's trim flanks. Then up the sides of his face, and over his scalp, caressing it. Tenderly, thumbs slid over his dark brows.

"Yes," Q murmured, seemingly as lost in the man facing him as Picard was. "My plan is going to be perfect. Such is warranted for near perfection like this."

"Such flattery. Don't you think you're being a little excessive?"

"You haven't seen anything yet, Jean-Luc. Nothing succeeds like excess."

They were speaking in low voices, their faces practically touching one another. Picard pulled himself out a bit from the spell he was under. "Where are we, Q?"

"Don't concern yourself with it. I know what you're thinking. We won't run in to anyone you know. We're not even in the same quadrant. It's just us and our little anonymous audience, ready to admire and worship you." Q pressed even closer to Picard, their breath and body heat mingling.

"Ready to--audience?" Jean-Luc looked quickly around. They were on top of a small grid that looked as if it were made of concrete. In between the small squares, which covered the ground of the entire courtyard, grew tufts of something resembling grass. A few scattered openings in the grid gave room for trees to grow, which shaded the benches placed under them. The four walls that formed the courtyard had high arched doorways leading inside an impressive building. What appeared to be stained glass windows graced the walls at infrequent intervals. And, there were indeed a few people inside passing by those windows as he watched.

Before the words could leave his lips, the entity was ready with an answer. "A museum, mon capitaine, of sorts. The perfect place for something that is the living embodiment of beauty, wouldn't you say? Oh, yes, there is certainly no doubt that looking upon you would evoke a pleasurable response in the observer." Q was a master of seduction with just his voice. Somehow he managed to put in all the lust and wanting he felt in those few sentences. The tone more than the content mattered here, and it was making Picard's senses spin.

"And, I plan on making this an interactive exhibit, Jean-Luc." There was a glint in his eyes. A smile began to curve those lips. With a sudden flick of the being's wrist, Jean-Luc was standing there before him completely nude. "Ah, but I'm greedy," and a finger strangely slick with some substance ran down the man's bare, muscular chest. "I don't want to share you in quite that way, but they can watch. Who am I to deprive them of such glory?"

Watching that lovely mouth say such delightfully wicked things sent a shiver through Jean-Luc's body. Something freed up inside him, and he felt able to give up the power struggle for the moment. Q had the upper hand for now, but the man was confident he could take that position back. It was also causing reactions in other areas. His cock was hard, heavy, demanding attention in its own way. The end was already wet and pressing into the entity's still-clothed form.

"Mmm, very nice." Q grabbed him firmly at the base and moved a warm oily hand up his entire shaft, pinching him at the tip. A gasp from the captain accompanied this maneuver. "But, let's be fair here. First," a finger snap, "I don't think I'll be needing clothes either. Second, none of the other sculptures around this place move. Let's take care of that now."

:::Sculptures?::: That was Picard's only thought before an extremely odd feeling overtook his body. Q had raised both hands and slid them over Picard, touching every inch of him. Everywhere the hands landed, a sensation of solidity was left behind. He felt...different. Immobile, and stiff, yet...not. He was frozen, yet still able to feel everything in a bizarre, muted way.

Q stepped back and appraised Jean-Luc. In this moment of unreality, the man looked back at Q standing there so naturally without anything to cover him, and found that he very much enjoyed the sight. The entity looked just as wildly aroused as Jean-Luc felt, and so good even in the imperfections of the borrowed form he wore. :::Is this love, then? Oh, how absurd! I feel like I'm on display.:::

:::Exactly, Jean-Luc. Excuse me for reading your thoughts, but it's the only way we will be able to communicate for the time being. You can't talk, of course. Here, let me show you.:::

And an image was placed in his mind. It was like being able to see through Q's eyes. Slightly disorientating, like looking into a mirror one didn't expect to be there. :::Oh my. How amazing.::: Both echoed the thought simultaneously, for different reasons. Jean-Luc was a sculpture, a man in marble, nude and proud in the outdoor sun. And, of course, fully erect.

:::Why, Captain, I do believe you are the loveliest thing ever to grace this museum. You look like sex captured for all to admire. Allow me to show my appreciation.::: There was a split second for Picard to wonder how, before the being was doing it. Sinuously rubbing his body against the statue of his lover, throwing himself into it with complete abandon. And he did all this heedless of the people beginning to gather behind them.

It started with a few of the patrons wandering outside to relax and take a break between exhibit halls. What they saw threw them. There was a bold marble statue, in a form unfamiliar to them. Hmm, they thought, perhaps created by one of the enterprising new artists. Then there was this other thing. A living person. Yet, fantastic nevertheless, for he looked much like the sculpture. And as naked.

But it was more than that. The things he did to that statue! The native onlookers were making such incredulous noises that others inside couldn't help but hear and gather to see what was going on. A crowd of about fifteen eventually formed. Drawn in like staring at a traffic accident that you just can't look away from. And the sight strangely aroused some of them, though they might not have wanted to admit it.

The entity was doing as promised. Q demonstrated how much he adored the figure before him. He ran his hands over the solid smoothness of the muscles showing clearly in the arms and chest. Even the nipples were there in clear relief. He didn't spare them either. There was a mental sigh of pleasure from Picard, as he felt it in a strange, distorted way. But mostly Jean-Luc couldn't help responding lustfully to the very obvious enjoyment his partner was getting from this. Q was breathing heavily, his lips slightly parted, and his eyes half closed.

Only now was Picard beginning to realize the extent of this fabulous torture. He could feel everything in a fashion, and Q was giving him everything he was feeling too. Yes, very nice. Yet there could be no release for him in this form. It was marvelous and maddening at the same time.

And so Q continued his caresses. The arms wound about the compact form, embracing and touching everything. Traveling over the back, gliding down to that firm ass, cupping it. Letting the fingers find all the crevices and rub themselves along them. Going back up to the face, tracing an ear and the cleft in the chin. All the while the rest of Q's body was in on the action as well. It was busy undulating against his rock hard companion, his own fleshy cock immensely stimulated by the action. Aching, slightly leaking as he went up against that marble shaft and stomach.

Then that athletic, hot tongue came out to play. Licking the hollow of Picard's throat, tonguing the chest, including the even now sensitive nubs there. Dipping into the navel, then running down the marble line of hair--such fine detail--leading on to the stone cock. And was he--? Ah yes, the eager tongue swirled around the head of that cock, and then along the slit at the top. Some in the audience were breathing unsteadily now, all staring transfixed by the sight.

The tongue dragged its way along the rest of it, reaching the sac below and caressing it also in wet, thorough fashion. Until, yes, the enthusiastic tongue and mouth went down on the unyielding erection, sucking hard. The very nature of the cock was almost punishing, brutal on that live mouth. But Q didn't care, letting himself feel everything totally, shielding nothing.

Without warning, the out-of-control feelings experienced by both of them built to a peak. What with that strangely wonderful, weird feeling of Q sucking on his transformed cock, and Q freely offering up his reactions to everything he was doing, it was inevitable. The being slid his mouth off and stood, throwing his dark head back in an excess of emotion. Fierce passion took over, and he thrust up alongside his immobile lover, giving himself something slick to rub against. Several hard thrusts later, he came, silently, yet impressively shooting upon the still statue.

For Jean-Luc it had nearly reached the point of unbearable agony. Such a strange mixture of divine pleasure and pain. If only he could communicate this without having to plead for it. He was sure that he was about to be undone.

There was a collective, powerful exhalation from those watching. Q fell back on his focus of lust for a moment, and then lifted himself off the sculpted body and dropped to his knees. He then proceeded to lick every trace of his semen from the statue. Precise tongue bathing consumed all.

He rose again and stared right at his love. Taking a thumb and running it across Picard's lips, Q took a step back. It was only a matter of moments before Picard returned to his normal aspect. This practically froze the spectators in place from shock. And yet still they watched avidly.

"Ohhh." It came out as nearly a groan. Yet he held back from responding further.

Q sent a query back at him. :::What is it, Jean-Luc? Is there something you...need, perhaps?:::

The effort it took to keep from launching himself straight at his lover was tremendous.

:::My, my. You seem tense, strained. What could it be? Not this, surely?::: With those words Q took hold of Picard's erection. The man wanted to sob from the jolt that went through him at that. Mercifully, Q decided not to draw things out. With a few firm strokes he was able to attain exquisite relief at last.

"Q...what...I don't believe it. That was incredible. Improbable. I..." The captain drifted off, trying to process everything. The audience let out a sigh. The voice belonging to the former sculpture was just as amazing as the thing itself. Still they couldn't tear themselves away. Not yet.

Lost in each other, the people around them receded into nothingness. Jean-Luc had a random thought. The bauble. He was still curious. And now, after this strange occurrence, he couldn't help thinking about another one. Somehow, he had a notion that this object would help him reclaim his sense of control over the situation.

And so he demanded it now. :::Q, the bauble. Now.:::

The entity blinked in surprise. Jean-Luc was always keeping him on his toes, happily so. Q had a feeling this was going to be one of those times where things got...interesting. And so he produced the bauble, right in Jean-Luc's hand. Picard was not fazed. He had a second to register the fact that it was indeed what he had asked for. It was a cool, clear sphere about the size of a Terran orange, hard as a rock. Then it began to glow brightly with its blue light.

Picard mentally asked to know the nature of the object. What was its purpose? How did it work? He now had an overwhelming need to know. Q didn't hesitate. He wanted to see what Jean-Luc would do with it. And so Q explained, briefly. The quicker the explanation, the sooner he could observe the bauble and Jean-Luc.

:::It's, simply put, a conduit. Something used to channel all of those rare, bright, inner qualities which are so badly needed, yet so few individuals possess in any great amount. On the planet it came from, it is meant as a test as well as a useful tool. Those that possess the ability to make it work are respected and sought after. They usually occupy a position of influence on that world.

:::It interacts with the person holding it. The blue glow is a sign of that reaction. The brighter it glows, the stronger the reaction. You are channeling raw energy through it right now, so the effect may be somewhat erratic. But when you learn control, it will be more precise.:::

:::What effect? What reaction? Please explain more.:::

:::The effect varies with the individual, Jean-Luc. And it is reacting with your personality, your inner make-up, that force which makes up your sense of self. It senses certain things that it needs, and gathers them, releasing them in interesting ways. And, the only way you are going to learn is by doing.:::

As Q continued to talk, and Picard to listen, the sphere intensified its light. It bathed everything around in its blue brilliance. It had been picking up on Picard's escalating emotions, made more potent by the fact that they were so often kept under tight control.

The captain decided to try to let go. To open himself up to being whatever it needed him to be. When he did, the consequences were startling. The glow moved to a level several times beyond itself. It became like a flame, burning so very acutely now that anyone remaining would be forced to turn away, or be blinded by it.

Picard then suddenly felt like he became the light. That somehow the light now embodied his sense of self. As the light, he moved through the solid mortal construct created by his lover to appear to him. Then, wonderfully, he found something that could be described as Q's own essence. So he simply wished to enter it, and did.

:::Ahh.::: A joint reaction once more. That which was the space of mere moments felt like an eternity. They were joined, and then Picard let go, feeling shaken and yet fulfilled. Q was just as overwhelmed. It took them some time to completely come back to themselves. When that happened, the people were already gone, wondering if what they experienced was some strange higher power or a mass hallucination.

Q made the bauble disappear. Then they just stood there, alone with each other. :::What just happened, Q? Did I somehow turn into the light?:::

:::No, Jean-Luc. You were still yourself, but a part of your mental awareness was able to travel outside its normal confines and projected itself into the light. I'm explaining this very simply, you understand. Still very impressive, for a mortal.:::

Picard didn't really have anything to say to that, and so he opened up his arms, to hold and be held by his love. "Q," he spoke aloud at last, "some clothes would be nice."

"Done. Anything else?"

"Yes. Let's go back now." And once more they met in a kiss as Q snapped them away.


~finis~





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