Author's Note: This is for shalott, who wanted Picard/Q and carnality <g>. In spite of the theme, there's nothing in here I'd rate above PG-13. Mind you, the American ratings system confuses the hell out of me.

Carnal Pleasures

By Andraste

"Will you have sex with me?"

Captain Jean-Luc Picard prided himself on his ability to remain coherent in the face of Q's sharpest barbs, but unfortunately the direct approach proved the death of his eloquence.


Q leaned forward from his perch on ready room desk, making the most of their height difference, and repeated the question slowly in a tone that suggested Picard must have been stricken deaf or unable to understand English.

"Will you have sexual intercourse with me? I've tried to be circumspect in my advances, but it didn't seem to be working so I thought I might as well ask. I would say 'please' but I'm only required to do that when I want something. In this case I believe I would be doing you a favour."

Picard sighed. In spite of his initial skepticism, he had come to believe that Q - who had appeared stark naked on his bridge three months beforehand - had indeed been cast out by his own species and rendered mortal.

He had seen the entity alarmed by the functioning of his own physical form, although that had become less frequent over time. He had received Deanna's confirmation that she could sense his emotions, or a flawless imitation of such. He had heard the arrogant creature ask - with a brave attempt at politeness and more than a hint of desperation - to stay on the Enterprise on a trial basis after the initial drama surrounding his arrival concluded.

More to the point none of Q's games had ever continued for so long. The captain had trouble believing that the entity was capable of sustaining a charade for such an extended period without becoming bored.

"Q, why the devil are you asking me to ... go to bed with you?"

"You humans - we humans, I suppose - seem to enjoy sex. I'm running out of new things to try that you use to compensate for your pathetic mortal condition. As a raison d'etre chocolate lacks a certain something, and I fail to understand why anyone would voluntarily become drunk. Especially after the part with the vomiting, which is something I intend to never experience again."

Picard wondered idly if he could demote whoever had introduced Q to alcohol on general principles, before realising that it had probably been Guinan taking an oblique form of revenge.

The captain had only allowed Q to remain aboard after they had gotten rid of the Calamarain and saved Bre'el IV because he wanted to keep an eye on him. It hadn't escaped his attention that this was exactly what Q had demanded just before he set the Borg on them. Just before he became responsible for the deaths of eighteen of Picard's crew.

To his considerable irritation, he had found Q's extensive knowledge of the galaxy and its inhabitants useful so far. No more old enemies had turned up to endanger the ship, and Q had even become relatively well-behaved under Data's tutelage. He was still rude, arrogant and impatient but he had at least accepted that changing the gravitational constant of the universe wasn't a viable approach to problem-solving.

Moreover, Picard couldn't help but feel some sympathy for Q in his reduced circumstances. He had behaved abominably during his previous encounters with the Enterprise, but he seemed genuinely willing to help the crew now. His abilities, although merely mortal, were impressive. Q found some measure of solace in his continued intellectual superiority to Starfleet's finest, and once he had recovered somewhat from the initial shock he had gone back to treating Picard with a mixture of subtle menace and far from subtle flirtatiousness. Knowing that much of it was bravado now helped the captain to ignore this behaviour more successfully than he had in the past ... at least most of the time.

Which brought him back to the subject at hand.

"Actually, that wasn't what I meant. I quite understand that you have a human libido now, but why are you asking me?"

What he meant was: what have I done to deserve this?

"I have been experimenting on my own, but evidently there are more possibilities with two people. I asked Data, but he says he's not qualified. You certainly seem to be that, mon capitaine. I looked into your background while I was still omnipotent, so I know that you've had sex with several men and far more women. I also know that you have been celibate for some time now, and that you find this form attractive."

If he had been omnipotent himself, Picard would have chosen that moment to sink into the floor, or explode, or quietly cease to exists. Q knew - had always known - about Picard's entirely unwilling attraction to him. This was clearly at the back of all the teasing, something the captain had long dreaded ...

Then it occurred to him that he was not, in fact, being laughed at. He was being propositioned. By a former god, who had now been made mortal, helpless and virginal, causing him to throw himself upon Picard's mercy ... and this was in no way an appropriate thought. Even if Q couldn't read his mind anymore.

Apparently, though, he could read Picard's expression. He was sitting quietly, awaiting a response. He could simply point out that physical attraction wasn't the same as emotional attachment, of course, or explain that he'd actually enjoyed a dalliance with an attractive archeologist in the interval since Q had ceased to be all-knowing. Yet outright rejection might only make him more persistent.

"Q, it would not be right of me to take advantage of you ..."

"Oh, please, Picard. I expect you to come up with something better than that. I am not a member of Starfleet. I can also assure you that although I may be unfamiliar with how these things work for mortals, I happen to be several billion years old and more than able to look after myself."

Picard wondered if that was true at all now, remembering Q's admission that the captain was the nearest thing he had to a friend and protector. He hadn't made any similar declarations in the intervening months, but presumably that was why he had come to Picard with his request.

For his part ... he didn't even like Q, even if had found him bizarrely compelling since the moment they met. He had learned to tolerate him better over the past weeks and months, but if he was less dangerous than he used to be, he was no less vexing. Picard's emotions in regard to the entity continued to alternate between irritation, pity, intellectual fascination and reluctant lust. None of those provided a solid foundation for real friendship, let alone a sexual liaison.

But Q, it seemed, trusted him. He had no right to abuse that trust.

"It's not that I don't ..." he began.

And Q lent over the desk and kissed him on the mouth.

From any objective standpoint, it was a terrible kiss. Overly wet, punctuated by random stabs of Q's tongue, and conducted at an awkward angle due to the imposition of the desk. Picard hadn't been accosted so ineptly since he was a teenager. Yet in an odd way, that seemed appropriate. It was a very human thing to do.

"Well?" said Q expectantly, after he'd pulled away and wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.

Picard hesitated.

"I cannot help but be flattered by your enthusiasm, although your technique leaves much to be desired."

Q smiled triumphantly. "In that case, you can help me practice."

It wasn't until then Picard realised that he hadn't actually said no.

The End