She Moves In Mysterious Ways



Rated NC-17


Pairing:  Picard/?

Disclaimer:  The principal characters are the property of Paramount/Viacom. No copyright infringement is intended, and no financial profit is anticipated.

Summary:  Picard meets a mysterious woman during a stint teaching at Starfleet Academy.

Note:  Takes place after the events in Star Trek:   Generations.

Feedback encouraged and welcomed.

She Moves In Mysterious Ways
by atara
Copyright (c) 1995

Johnny take a dive
With your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things
You can't explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you want to kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel . . . (on your knees boy!)
U2, Achtung Baby (Island Records, 1991)

As Jean-Luc Picard strode down a hallway at Starfleet Academy, his attention was caught by something, or rather someone, he noticed in an open classroom.  That someone was the instructor.  She was arrestingly beautiful, sufficiently so to arrest his progress.  She had long, slightly wavy brown hair, piercing eyes, high cheekbones, and undeniably sensuous lips and wore an expression that was somehow both alert and slightly bored.  Standing and gaping openly at beautiful women was not one of Picard's usual propensities, but recently he had found it harder to maintain his usual steady composure and emotional control.  She was looking intently at a student, and he took the opportunity to watch; somehow she had utterly compelled his attention.  She was sitting behind her desk, with her fingertips lightly pressed together, tent-fashion, and legs crossed, one knee peeping over the edge of the desk.  From what he could see of her dress, it was very flattering and more than a little revealing.  Picard could well imagine the hormonal turmoil the male students must have been experiencing at the sight.  He smiled slightly to himself as he heard her answer a student's question.  The question was not the dumbest he had ever heard--he had certainly heard far worse--but the instructor's reply was utterly withering and theoretically dazzling to boot.  It must have whizzed right over the heads of all but one or two of the brightest students in the class.  As he listened to her answer and continued contemplating her pose, a full-blown inspiration burst forth in his brain, an inspiration shimmering with possibilities.  At this moment the instructor noticed the man standing outside her classroom door.  She smiled slightly and nodded, acknowledging his presence, and he had sufficient self-command to return her nod and smile before quickly moving off down the hall.

But why? he thought to himself as he continued toward his office.  He was surprised that the answer didn't really matter to him.  What did matter is that he felt more purposeful, more engaged than he had felt in weeks.  Picard was normally a master of self-discipline and emotional restraint, but the near-simultaneous death of his nephew, René, and his brother, Robert, in a fire and the loss of his ship had left him profoundly depressed.  He had spent a few days with his sister-in-law in France, helping her with legal and financial matters and trying to offer what consolation he could muster, but both had quickly concluded they could better deal with their grief separately.  The raw searing pain of both losses had dulled, but a numb, weary, unshakeable depression had set in and wouldn't quit.  His crew members were scattered all over the galaxy, either tending to family matters or taking on temporary assignments until their new ship was completed, a process which would take several months.  Picard was lonely as well as depressed, and the prospect of any sort of stimulation to rouse him out of his apathy held a certain appeal.  He knew that the particular stimulation he had in mind could prove emotionally dangerous for him, very much so in fact, but at this point he didn't care.  He desperately wanted to be jolted back to life, and he just felt reckless.  What more did he have to lose?

After his office hours ended, he made his way to a bar frequented by Academy instructors.  Finding a corner table, he stared musingly at his drink, imagining Guinan gliding up to him as she would were he aboard the Enterprise, intuitively discerning his state of mind, and gently offering blunt advice.  "If you're looking for a refresher course in astrophysics, Professor, you're welcome to sit in," drawled a voice behind him.  "You might actually learn a thing or two."

Picard leapt to his feet, turning toward the voice.  It was the instructor he had been observing before.  He worked hard at suppressing the smile that was rising to his lips, as he replied, "No doubt."  He extended his hand, introducing himself, "Jean-Luc Picard."

"The Jean-Luc Picard?" she asked, shaking his hand.

"I don't know of any other, Professor.  But I must say you have me at rather a disadvantage."

"Catherine Vye," she said briskly.  Neither had yet released the other's hand, and Picard wondered at the sensations her touch provoked in him.  He hadn't quite expected that.

"Pleased to meet you, Dr. Vye."

"My pleasure, Captain.  What brings you to Starfleet Academy this term?"

"Well, as you may have heard, I find myself temporarily in the position of being a Captain without a ship to command.  I thought that teaching a class might be a productive way of spending my time.  Would you care to join me?" he finished, gesturing toward a seat.

As she sat down, she said, "I had heard about your ship, and I'm sorry."  She paused, as if considering the right thing to say.  "That must be very difficult.  But I'm not sorry you chose to spend your time off with us."

"Thank-you," he said quietly.

After the waiter took Dr. Vye's drink order, she turned to Picard and asked, "So, how do you like teaching?"

Picard said thoughtfully, "I think I could get rather good at it, with practice, but the students are having a hard time getting over being intimidated by me.  I think they're quite a bit quieter than they might be with an instructor whom they'd heard less about."

"Oh, it's good for them to be intimidated," remarked Dr. Vye.  "Some of these kids think admission to the Academy means they know all there is to know already.  I make a point of disabusing them of that misconception very quickly."

"Somehow that doesn't surprise me," murmured Picard, half to himself.  Then he added, "After all, I've seen you in action."

She laughed.  "Well, you don't catch them dozing off in my class.  I keep them on their toes."

"That doesn't surprise me either.  Your class was one of the most alert I've seen yet.  But I don't think I can attribute that entirely to their instructor's pedagogical style.  I suspect there's another factor involved . . . the same factor that stopped me dead in my tracks as I passed your classroom."

"Oh very gallant, Captain.  I'll take that as a compliment."

"So you should, Doctor."  He watched half-hypnotized as she twirled her drink with her finger, then deliberately licked it off, her eyes locked firmly on his.  She finished her drink with another swallow, then started to get up.

"It's been an honor meeting you, Captain.  But I really must go--exams to grade, students to terrify.  You know, I've heard so much about you--I certainly hope I'll see you around.  I'm sure you must have such fascinating stories."

"Well, I'll be more than happy to inflict them on you, Dr. Vye," he said, standing up and bowing his head slightly.

"I'm looking forward to it," she said with an insolent smile as she deliberately brushed passed his arm on her way out of the room.  It took him a moment to remember he was supposed to sit down again or leave instead of just standing there gaping.  He quickly sat down; suddenly his drink commanded his full attention.

When he got back to his small apartment, he looked up Catherine Vye on his computer terminal.  He was not terribly surprised to see a string of published books and papers listed and an other evidence of an impressive research career.  This was her first term teaching at the Academy, her record noted, after several years of travelling the galaxy conducting research.  "Fascinating," thought Picard to himself.

* * *

It was almost a week before he saw his intriguing colleague again.  She had made it quite clear she was interested, but she was making it equally clear that whatever her intentions were, she was going to take her time executing them.  Picard was beginning to make some headway with getting his students to feel more at ease with him.  He enjoyed their eagerness and enthusiasm, and some of them really did show some promise.  But he was still preoccupied and listless much of the time.  One early afternoon, gathering up his materials after class, he glanced up as he heard someone walk in the open door.  "Well, hello, Dr. Vye," he said, hoping he didn't look excessively pleased to see her.

"Hello, Captain Picard.  I was on my way to lunch when I spotted you.  Care to join me?"

Picard took a moment, as if he was thinking about it.  "Yes, actually.  I don't have to be anywhere right now."

"So, about those stories of yours, Captain . . ." she suggested, after they ordered lunch.

He laughed, "Oh, I'll just start sounding like somebody's grandfather: 'Why, I remember the time when . . .'"

"Now, Captain," she said reproachfully, "with a career like yours, you must have some fascinating incidents with which to regale with me."

"Well, let's narrow this down.  What genre of fascinating incidents do you want to hear about?   There are entire categories to consider.  You have your thrilling battle sequences, your temporal distortions, your encounters with alien beings, your embarrassing diplomatic faux pas, your mystery viruses, your parallel universes.  What will it be, Doctor?"  Picard was hardly ever this flippant, but there was something about his companion that brought out the worst in him.

"It's so hard to choose.  But I'll take encounters with alien beings."  She paused.  "I had occasion to visit Deep Space Nine while conducting research, and when I was there, they were reeling from a visit by an entity known as . . . Q?  Apparently, it was a traumatic experience, but I gathered you've had several encounters with this being.  What's he? it? like?"

"Oh, Q," said Picard dismissively.  "Now there's a miserable excuse for an omnipotent being if you ever saw one.  God help us if that's where evolution is leading us.  Imagine this, Doctor.  He's supposed to be immortal, omnipotent, and all-knowing, and yet he has nothing better to do with his time than harrass us 'inferior' beings.  It's really absurd when you think about it."

"Why do you suppose he took the time to 'harrass' you, Captain?" she said.

"Well, he has no social skills to speak of.  Apparently he can't even get along with his own kind.  I think he mostly inflicts himself on us for lack of anything better to do.  He seems to need a captive audience, since he couldn't possibly get a willing one.  Do you know, one time he came to us stripped of his powers?  It was a disciplinary action apparently.  Doesn't surprise me.  Well, he was utterly pathetic.  It was almost embarrassing."

"Indeed.  I seem to remember Sisko mentioning something about that; he had been to a briefing about Q, if I recall.  You saved his life on that occasion, didn't you?  Sisko couldn't understand why."

"Sisko doesn't understand a lot about me," noted Picard drily, "but he does have a point there.  I just felt sorry for Q I suppose.  He's not entirely a bad sort when you get to know him a little, but what a waste!  It's a shame really.  But I really don't want to devote my entire lunch hour to talking about Q.  Why don't you tell me something about your current research?"

"I'd be delighted, Captain."

Picard was not entirely unversed in the latest research on astrophysics, but somehow he wasn't surprised that his companion's description of her work utterly transcended his ability to grasp it.  She was plainly showing off, explaining her theories in a casual tone, as if anyone with half a brain ought to be able to follow what she was saying.

"That's very impressive," noted Picard as he drank a last gulp of coffee.  "But I won't make a fool of myself by pretending I actually understood all the details."

"Wise choice, Captain.  I'm not very charitable toward those who pretend to know more than they actually do."

"I suspect that's an understatement, Doctor."

"You suspect right, Captain," she said with a wry smile.  "If, however, you would care to visit my lab, I could perhaps clarify some of my points with a visual demonstration."

"That sounds very intriguing, but I'll have to take you up on it another day.  Exams to grade, students to terrify--you know what it's like."  Two could play at this game, he thought to himself.

"I do indeed," she said coolly, but Picard noticed the slight sigh she was trying hard to repress.  "Until we meet again, Captain."

* * *

As the computer awoke him at 0600 hours, Picard noticed that he had thrown all the coverings off his bed.  He rolled over with a groan, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to recapture the dream that was slipping away from him.  Only fragments of images and sensations remained--the sensation of fingers roaming over his chest and stomach, the sensation of his tongue twirling a nipple in his mouth, the image of a face looking down at him from slightly above, the sensation of long brown hair tickling his neck.  As Picard reflected on the inevitability of always being woken in the middle of a good dream, he tried to remember where he was in this dream.  He concentrated on the images that had come back to him, trying to summon more.  Yes, he was sitting up in some kind of chair, Catherine was kneeling astride his lap.  He could feel his hands clasped behind her neck, his own clasped behind hers, as their mouths closed together for a prolonged kiss.  He was inside her, she was moving and . . . where was he?  He closed his eyes tighter trying to remember . . . then he almost wished he hadn't.  Even though he was alone, his face went pale with embarrassment as a final image from his dream flashed across his memory--the image of a field of stars streaking past on a viewscreen.  He seemed to hear a mocking voice at his ear, "Now haven't you always dreamt of doing it here, Captain?"

It had been a week since Picard's lunch with Catherine Vye.  He decided he had played hard-to-get long enough.  When her class was over, he was waiting outside the classroom door.  Picard watched as a small group of apparently masochistic young men gathered around their instructor after class.  No matter how lacerating her wit, they kept coming back for more punishment.  He also noticed that one student didn't receive quite the same treatment.  Picard overheard him asking a very intelligent question, which she answered without quite the same level of disdain with which she addressed the other students.  As the other young men drifted away, undoubtedly beset by their hyperactive glands, this particular student lingered a few moments longer before Vye playfully dismissed him with a "Now you run along, young man.  I believe you have a test to study for."

After the student left, Picard walked into the classroom.  "Teacher's pet?" he asked.

"More or less," returned Vye casually.  "He's brighter than the rest and . . ." here she emitted a low wolf whistle.  When Picard jokingly clucked reproachfully, she laughed.  "Looking is free, Captain.  So . . . what can I do for you?"

"I was in the neighborhood, and I thought I'd drop in," he said drily.  "Actually I have to be at a meeting soon, and I'm meeting a retired professor of mine for dinner.  I just wanted to say hello."

"I see."  She looked him up and down, nodding slightly in an approving fashion.  Picard had deftly stroked the ball into her court and was waiting to see what she would do next.  "Well, Captain, what are you doing after dinner?  I have some research results you might find interesting, perhaps even relevant when you resuming traipsing around the galaxy again.  And," she added, "a visual demonstration might be a little easier to follow."

Picard's eyebrows raised slightly; he really hated being patronized, but he could tell that this was his companion's way of flirting with him, not to mention needling him at the same time.  "I'm flattered, Dr. Vye, that you think so highly of me.  But I will take you up on your kind offer; I'm sure it will be very edifying."

"I'm glad you think so," she said smiling and softening slightly as she gathered up her materials.  "I'll try to make it worth your while.  And by the way, it's 'Catherine' to you, OK?"

"OK, but only if you stop calling me 'Captain' all the time."

"It's a deal, Jean-Luc."  After explaining where her lab was located and arranging a time to meet, they went their separate ways, Picard having to use a great deal of discipline to prevent himself from looking after her as she strode down the hall.

* * *

Although Picard's dinner companion was a favorite professor of his, he found himself rather impatiently waiting for the meal to be over.  On the surface, he was his usual self, but he felt a nervous tension twisting the inside of his stomach, and he was relieved when dinner was over, he had said good-bye to his companion, and he could finally make his way to Catherine's lab.  He paused for a moment outside the door, smiling to himself slightly, before pressing the door chime.  When the doors slid open, Picard was as impressed as he had been expecting to be.  She wore a low-cut purple dress of a material that shimmered and rippled softly with every movement.  When he found his voice again, Picard said, "Good evening, Catherine."

"Good evening to you, Jean-Luc.  Welcome to my lab.  Before we get to these . . . ah . . . research results, I have a nifty little piece of equipment to show you."  She led him to a circular domed structure in the middle of the room, surrounded by a railing on which was mounted a computer console.  Picard followed Catherine to the platform, and after she stepped up to the console, the lights in the lab suddenly went out.  A moment later Picard found himself surrounded by a three-dimensional holographic star field.  The stars were not only above and around him, but immediately in front, appearing much more tangible than anything he had ever seen in Stellar Cartography or on the holodeck.  "Watch this," invited Catherine.  She magnified the spherical image of a star immediately in front of him, showing how it would appear from a viewport of a starship.  Then she changed the view so that the outer surface became almost translucent, and Picard could witness the nuclear reactions continuously occurring within the star's core.  It was much more vivid and real-appearing than any computer simulation he had ever seen.

"That's very impressive," he murmured.  "I'd like one of these on my new ship."

"Just wait.  Ever seen a supernova close up?"

"Not this close up," said Picard in wonder as the star became brighter and brighter, its white heart pulsing with energy and dazzling light.  As Picard watched, transfixed, he became aware of something else--the sensation of a finger slowly tracing its way up and down his spine.  As it circled briefly at the base of his neck before travelling down his back again, he shivered slightly, then immediately began silently berating himself for overreacting.  He had more cause to berate himself as Catherine slipped a hand inside the wide V opening of his black shirt and began lightly twirling his chest hair and equally lightly grazing his chest with her fingernails.  A very sharp intake of breath gave Catherine all the information she was looking for.  Picard allowed the caresses to continue for a few moments, which was a mistake, as Catherine startled him by giving him a sharp pinch on the behind with the fingernails of her other hand.

He whirled around, demanding, "What do you have to say for yourself, young lady?"  Catherine was backing away from him playfully, but he grabbed her wrists, swiftly pulling them behind her back, thinking that if she wanted to play this particular game, he was more than willing to oblige.  "You may be writing the script for this encounter, Dr. Vye," he thought to himself, "but I'm a fast learner."

"I have a little problem with authority," she said mockingly.  "I always wanted to assault a starship captain."

"Well," replied Picard, trying to conceal how delighted he was at this turn of events, "that's a very serious offense, you know, very serious."  Keeping Catherine's arms pinned behind her back with one hand, Picard began exploring her face with the index finger of the other, tracing the line of her eyebrows, her cheekbones, behind her ear and along her jaw, while calmly remarking, "If we were on a starship, I'd have to toss you in the brig, of course."

"Well, we're not on board a starship, Captain, so what are you going to do about it?"

"Good question," he answered, continuing to explore Catherine's face with his finger, but occasionally, extending his explorations down to her neck and tracing the low-cut opening of her dress.  "Such a serious offense cannot go unpunished, you understand.  Since we have no detention facilities available, the offender will have to be remanded to the personal custody of the Captain, so he can exact an appropriate penalty."

Catherine was breathing more quickly in reaction to Picard's light one-fingered stroking of her neck and breasts as he kept reaching lower into her dress.  She gasped, "And what might that appropriate penalty be?"

"Mmm," mused Picard, "I would say an appropriate penalty would be for the offender to make amends to her victim by letting him have his way with her."  At this point, Picard combed through Catherine's hair with his fingers, then, his hand on the back of her head, pulled her toward him for a very quick kiss with his other hand still grasping her wrists behind her back.  He asked, "Does that sound fair?"

"Eminently fair, Captain."  She tilted her face up toward him, and he responded to the gesture with a long, deep, slow kiss.  He finally let go of her wrists, then pushed her against the railing, leaning her slighly backward over it, as his hand began roughly caressing her breasts through her dress.  His hand soon travelled downward, slowly pulling up her dress, as his fingers tracked a path along the outside of her leg.

Reaching her buttocks, he discovered that she had nothing on under the dress, and as his hand began exploring this unexpectedly accessible territory, Picard remarked, "You certainly had your agenda for this evening mapped out, Catherine."

"I like to be prepared," she noted before pulling his head down for another prolonged kiss.  "You, however, are wearing altogether too much," she noted, while stroking him through his pants.

"I have to agree," he murmured hoarsely.  While one of his increasingly wet hands was roaming under her dress, his lips and tongue fluttered on her neck.  She arched her back, still leaning on the railing, and Picard began moving down her body, kissing each nipple through her dress, then kneeling before her to deposit a kiss between her legs.  As his tongue began a tentative investigation, his hands simultaneously grasping her buttocks and holding up Catherine's dress, he felt a piercing stab of desire in his groin.  At the same time, he felt Catherine shiver at his ministrations.  Neither could wait any longer.  Picard stood up, and Catherine tugged at his pants, as he pulled the skirt of her dress up and out of the way.  In another moment they had wrapped their arms around each other, as their mouths joined, and he slipped easily inside her.

As if by mutual unspoken agreement, they both slowed down, finding a rhythm that would draw out their mutual pleasure as long as possible.  Coming up for air after a particularly lengthy kiss, Catherine whispered, "so far, this doesn't seem too onerous a penalty for assaulting you, Captain.  If you're going to maintain proper authority, you're going to have to do better than this."

"Oh, I had no intention of letting you off this easily," he replied, "but since you're so concerned, I'll execute the rest of your penalty now."  He withdrew suddenly, grasped Catherine's waist and turned her around.  "Put your hands on the railing," he ordered, and as she bent over, he delivered two sharp spanks to her posterior.  He had a more urgent agenda than executing further punishment though, and quickly entered her from behind.

"Oh, you really are merciless, aren't you, Captain?" mocked Catherine, while bracing herself on the railing, as her pelvis met each of his thrusts with one of her own, her muscles tightening and releasing around him with exquisite control.  Soon they were too absorbed to speak.  Picard felt the sudden shuddering of Catherine's body.  His climax followed soon upon hers, and as they both sank onto the ground, Catherine gasped, "You're an animal, Picard, and a good thing too."

"So," Picard asked, when their breathing had returned to normal, "Is this how you always share research results with your colleagues?"

"Actually, it depends on the research," answered Catherine.  "In this case the purpose of my experiment was to determine whether I could ensnare you, Jean-Luc.  Based on my preliminary findings, I would conclude that my hypothesis was correct."

"Well, I'm always glad to further the cause of science," said Picard as he stood up.  "But isn't it the case that preliminary findings must be confirmed with further experimentation?"

"For the results to have any validity, yes."

"And isn't it also the case," asked Picard, now helping Catherine to her feet, "that the results of certain experiments are even more valid if they also hold true outside a laboratory setting?"

"Captain, you have the makings of a true scientist."

"Well, then I suggest we pursue your research elsewhere.  My apartment is nearby."

"Excellent idea," said Catherine as they began to arrange their rumpled clothes into as near a semblance of their original appearance as possible for the short walk to Picard's apartment.

* * *

When they arrived at the apartment, a mirror in hallway revealed to both of them just how disheveled they looked.  "Good thing our students can't see us now," laughed Catherine.

"Mmmm . . . indeed," murmured Picard, as he pulled her into his arms for a long kiss.  "I'm not being a very good host," he noted as they pulled slightly apart.  "Can I offer you some wine?"

"I'd like that," said Catherine while kicking off her shoes.

When Picard returned with two glasses of wine, Catherine was sitting on the couch, looking perfectly at ease, and she was naked, so naked that she was completely naked.  Picard was quite comfortable with his own body; he knew he had nothing to be ashamed of in his physical appearance.  But he also knew he didn't project anything like Catherine's arrogant confidence.  Sitting on the couch, nude, she looked as completely in command as she was in the classroom, fully dressed.  Struck by an irresistable impulse, Picard put down the wineglasses and kneeled suddenly at Catherine's feet.  After kissing her hand, he declared, "You really are perfection, you know."

"I like to think so," she replied casually, running her fingers over his smooth head and along his neck.  As she traced his mouth with her finger, his lips parted, and he began sucking the fingertip she slid into his mouth, while he looked up at her, taking in every detail.  Catherine continued, in the same light tone, "You're pretty aesthetically pleasing yourself, Jean-Luc, at least what I can see."  Here she withdrew her finger from his mouth and began tracing the wide V opening of his shirt.

"Thank-you," he responded, "but again I seem to be overdressed."

"Indeed, Captain, I've been meaning to speak to you about that."

He deposited another kiss on Catherine's hand, stood up, and extended a hand to Catherine, asking, "Would you care to join me in the bedroom, Dr. Vye?"

"I thought you'd never ask," she returned, as Picard picked up the glasses of wine.

Picard gestured toward the inside of the bedroom and followed Catherine in.  He put the wineglasses down on the bedside table, then hastily removed his clothes, while Catherine silently admired the sight.  He picked up the glasses again, handing one to Catherine, and proposing a toast, "To the continuation of your research, Dr. Vye."

"I can drink to that," she replied.  "And to that end, have a seat," she said, indicating the bed.  Picard sat with his back against the headboard, his legs stretched in front of him.  Catherine straddled him kneeling, and they alternated sips of wine and wine-flavored kisses.  Picard felt an intoxicating rush as Catherine's lips and tongue repeatedly caressed his own, while with his free hand he cupped one of her breasts, circling her nipple with his thumb.  Catherine drew back slightly, with a mischievous smile, then dipped her fingers in her wineglass, only to rub them over his nipples.  He took in his breath sharply as she began sucking one.  After she had removed the last traces of wine from the other, she traced a line from his neck to his navel with a fingertip dipped in wine, a line which she then followed with her tongue.

"Wait," said Picard.  He put both wineglasses on the table, then rolled Catherine off him and onto her back.  "I take my responsibilities as host very seriously.  It's my job to satisfy your desires first."

"Very well, Jean-Luc, I accept your hospitality."  She settled herself on a pillow, as Picard straddled her and brought his mouth to hers.  He kissed each of her eyes, then the hollow of her throat, then began to pay serious attention to her breasts, stimulating her by alternately toying with each nipple with his tongue while exploring the other breast with his fingertips.  As Picard's mouth travelled slowly down her body, it was becoming harder for her to conceal the intensity of her responses.  She was, for the most part, successful at retaining the lightly sardonic smile on her face and the mocking gaze that emerged from her half-lidded eyes.  But her body would not lie for her; the barely suppressed sharp intakes of breath, the slight writhing she could not control, the involuntary parting of her legs which admitted his lubricated fingers farther inside all gave her away.  Much to Picard's satisfaction, a wide-eyed vulnerable look would occasionally flash across her face, but he pretended not to notice it, allowing her her illusion of control.  It was becoming harder for him to conceal his own satisfaction at her obvious desire for him, to repress the triumphant smiles that kept tugging at his mouth.  There was only one solution--to keep his mouth occupied where she couldn't see it.  He found her soft moans utterly intoxicating, and he determined to draw this out as long as possible.  At first he confined himself to mere whispers of kisses on her inner thighs and between her legs, his lips just barely coming in contact with her body.  Then he proceeded to light probing with the tip of his tongue only, but Catherine spread her legs wider, raising her pelvis, with an unmistakable urgency, to meet his mouth.  "Harder, please," she pleaded involuntarily.  Picard could not refuse to comply with such a request.  Slowly increasing the pressure and quickness of his thumb circling the entrance to her vagina and his tongue circling her clitoris he wound her up more and more tightly until he released a searing flood of rapture.

He raised himself back up along her body, looking down at her face, then lowering himself to kiss first one eye, then the other, pausing to trace the shape of each one with his tongue.  "Open them," he commanded gently.  She was ready for him though and had mustered her defenses.  The look she gave him was long and direct.

"I want you inside me now," she said roughly.

"The pleasure is all mine," replied Picard gallantly, complying with her demand.  He was happy to play along with her game.  Soon, however, they were both too swept up in their desire to maintain the nonchalant demeanor they had both assumed.  Much to Picard's surprise he found his need for her as strong as hers apparently was for him; the game was getting more serious by the moment.  His fingers were entwined in her damp hair, their mouths were locked hungrily together, and her legs were wrapped around his back, as she pulled them slightly higher with each mutual thrust.  A burst of liquid flame coursed through her groin as she climaxed, and her partner soon followed suit, delirious with ecstasy.  As she relaxed her legs, he buried his head into her neck, not wishing her to see how ridiculously happy he looked, and kissing her lightly while murmuring, "And tear our pleasures with rough strife / Through the iron gates of life . . ."

"Thus, though we cannot make our sun / Stand still, yet we will make him run," she finished for him, then twisted herself around to reach his mouth for a prolonged kiss.  Neither was willing to look at the other.  As Picard gently slid off her body and to the side, she curled up against him spoon fashion, reaching back to pull his arm around her breasts and to enfold it in her own, hugging him close.

Picard's heart was racing, and it was from more than sexual arousal and climax.  He had never expected to be feeling the way he did.  This was a flirtation, a game, perhaps even a contest; it was not meant by either party to be taken seriously.  Yet as he felt her body pressed against his, his hand cupping her breast, his tongue toying with a strand of her hair that had fallen across his mouth, he felt not only a temporarily satiated desire, but, God forbid, real affection for his seducer.  After a while she rolled more onto her stomach, one leg drawn up.  Anxious for the moment to avoid conversation, Picard strayed his hand lightly over her buttocks and between her legs.  As his light motions became more purposeful, his fingertips just barely slipping inside her or gently twining a curl of pubic hair, she moaned involuntarily, and her teeth sank into her pillow.  Suddenly, she rolled over, declaring with a mocking smile, "I'm not going to let you have all the fun, Captain."

As she pushed him onto his back, Picard clasped his hands behind his head and replied, "Fair enough.  Do whatever you want with me."  She grinned wickedly and proceeded to tickle him under his exposed arms.  Picard had lightning reflexes and had almost instantly imprisoned both her wrists in his hands.  "Whatever you want but that.  Understand?"

She nodded, laughing.  "The great Jean-Luc Picard ticklish.  What would your crew say?"

"Oh I'm sure that some of them suspect that under this godlike exterior lies a human being," he snapped sarcastically.  "I'm not releasing these hands until you promise to behave yourself."

"I will most certainly not promise to behave myself, but I do promise I won't tickle you."

"That will have to do," said Picard releasing her hands and settling himself down as before, but still regarding her suspiciously.

"You don't trust me, do you?" she asked.

"Not for a minute," he returned.  "Would you?"

"You've got a point there," she said, more to herself.  The conversation was taking a dangerous turn, and she ended it by straddling Picard's body and bending down to kiss him, her hair tumbling about his face.  Her teeth gently closed on his lower lip, then she drew back, traced his cheekbone and jawline with her index finger before inserting the tip of it in his mouth.  As his tongue circled her fingertip, a wave of desire surged through both of them, but she had every intention of taking her time.  She kissed him roughly, pushing his mouth open with an insistent tongue, then proceeded to tease him into a state of contained, exquisite agony, lightly drawing her fingernails in circles around his chest and stomach.  Crouching lower against his body, she began circling the hollow of his neck with her tongue as her thumb rotated around one of his nipples, and none too gently at that.  She then sucked hard on the other nipple, while still toying with the other one with her thumb.  Her mouth then wandered a roundabout path down to his navel, and his body quivered as she probed it with her tongue.  His arms ached to grab her, to pull her to him, as she slid down his body, but she wasn't finished tantalizing him yet.  He was already more than aroused before she took his penis into her mouth.  The maddeningly delicate up and down motions of her fingertips and the infuriatingly light circular strokes of her tongue nearly drove him beyond the point of self-control (and for Jean-Luc Picard that was saying a lot).  He was about to grab her and roll her over and plunge inside her, anything to bring this teasing agony to an end, when she raised herself up on her knees, lowered herself onto him, then raised herself almost all the way off, before slowly lowering her body again.  An involuntary growl escaped him as his hands slid up her body toward her breasts, as if trying to pull her down.  She laughed mercilessly at his torment, continuing to draw herself up and lower herself deliberately and with complete control.  At last, satisfied that her moaning partner really couldn't take any more, she pressed her body against his, moving her hips faster and faster in rhythm with his own, finally granting him the release he required.

"You're a devil, you know," he gasped afterward after she had settled herself on her side, with her head propped on her fist, watching him intently.

"Some have called me so," she said with a suddenly deadly earnestness.

Picard suddenly rolled on his own side, pulling the sheet up to their waists.  Taking his time, he combed her hair back with his fingers, reached forward to kiss her on the lips, then settled back down, his head resting on one outstretched arm, and idly twirling a tress of her hair with his free hand.  "When were you going to tell me?" he asked.

"Tell you what?" she asked languidly, but with an edge creeping into her voice.

"When were you going to make the grand revelation, watch my face fall with shock and dismay as you disparaged me for my obtuseness in not recognizing who you are?"

"What are you talking about, Captain?" she said with a forced nonchalance, but it was impossible for her to keep the tension out of her voice.

"Listen to me, Q," said Picard slowly and deliberately, "I've known it was you all along."


"I knew it was you all along, Q.  I knew it almost from the moment I saw you.  This . . ." here Picard tented his fingers in imitation of Q, "and the way you skinned that student alive gave you away.  It just hit me that it had to be you."

"You knew it was me all along?" she repeated incomprehendingly.

Picard laughed.  "Gender-bending doesn't seem to do much for your perspicacity, my all-knowing friend."

The truth sunk in, and it hit hard.  She rolled onto her back, covered her face with her hands, murmuring "Bloody . . . fucking . . . hell" to herself.  The last word was said in a notably deeper voice as Picard's bedmate shimmered into Q's usual male form.  "But why?" he asked, still not looking at Picard.

Picard reached over, pulled Q's hands away from his face, then shrugged, "Why not?  And that dress you were wearing was quite revealing . . ."

"Why not?!" interrupted Q.  "That's all you can say, after leading me on like this?"

"Leading you on?" asked Picard smiling.  He was enjoying himself thoroughly.  "You make a fine woman, by the way.  Very . . . ahh . . . responsive."

Q rolled back onto his side, his head propped on his fist as before.  He levelled a long look at Picard with narrowed eyes, "You were pretty responsive yourself, mon Capitaine, especially considering you knew who I was."

"Indeed," acknowledged Picard  "I'll admit I wasn't expecting that.  I was going to play along with your game, let you think I was fooled.  To be perfectly honest with you, the loss of the Enterprise and . . . well . . . some personal matters hit me harder than I expected.  I wanted . . . I don't know . . . something--a diversion, an adventure, some feeling other than numb grief.  But it was more than that too; when you helped me with the temporal paradox, it finally dawned on me, and I'll admit it took me a while, that you had some kind of feelings for me.  I still didn't know what they consisted of.  If you had appeared to me in female form a couple of years ago, I would never have trusted you.  I would have assumed you were just playing games with me and nothing more, that you were just trying, so to speak, to get a rise out of me--in more ways than one."

Q smiled, acknowledging the pun, and Picard continued, "But knowing you had helped me the way you did--on more than one occasion--I concluded that somehow you genuinely cared about me.  And I confess I was intrigued.  Being pursued by an omnipotent entity is immensely flattering, if nothing else.  When I realized that it was you in that classroom, and when you made it clear you were out to seduce me, I still assumed this was your idea of a perverse joke, that you were going to amuse yourself thoroughly and get a twisted pleasure out of revealing yourself to me.  But I also concluded you wouldn't be going to all this effort--particularly showing up every day to a class that must be boring you to tears--if there weren't some powerful feelings behind your desire to trick me, whether you were aware of them or not.  So I went along with you.  I wanted you to blink first, I wanted to show you that this was more than a game to you, that I meant more to you than a plaything or pet.  I may have learned a lot from you in our most recent encounters, Q, but I'm really tired of running through your mazes.  As soon as I recognized you and saw what you were up to, I decided that this was an unparalleled opportunity to teach you a lesson for a change.  I suspected you cared for me a lot more than you ever let on, and I intended to make you demonstrate it beyond a doubt.  And . . . " added Picard casually, "you were stunningly attractive.  What did I have to lose?"

"What you had to lose," said Q carefully, "was your own conviction that you were secretly in control of this little game.  Knowledge may be power, but it wasn't enough power to keep you on top.  You responded to moi a lot more than you anticipated, Jean-Luc."

"Yes," said the Captain quietly.  "I did.  Quite a bit more than I anticipated.  But let me ask you--you were planning on revealing yourself in a way that would humiliate me completely, weren't you?"

"Who me?" demanded Q with mock innocence.  "Well, let's just say that  I . . . ah . . . like to create spectacular effects, but you knew that already.  Yes, I did want to torture you for a while.  But I wasn't simply going to embarrass you thoroughly, then take off.  I was hoping to force you to realize you subconsciously did know it was me, since I completely expected your conscious mind to deny it.  I wanted you to acknowledge your feelings for me.  Does this sound familiar?"

"We both seem to have set a trap that captured the hunter instead of the prey," said Picard with a smile.  "I have a question, though.  Why didn't you read my mind?  I was sure you were going to do so and realize that I had recognized you."

"Well, I thought I was cheating enough by appearing as a woman, so I decided not to use my powers otherwise.  I know that amounts to saying I'd stack the deck, but I wouldn't peek at anyone else's cards, but there you have it.  After all, I could have simply brainwashed you into going to bed with me, but where's the challenge in that?  I thought I should at least give you a fighting chance--apparently a mistake on my part."

"Apparently," returned Picard with quiet satisfaction.

"The best laid plans . . . " murmured Q ruefully, "but I'm still amazed that you went through with it, knowing it was me.  That's so unlike you, Picard."

"Q, losing as much as I have recently engenders a certain recklessness.  I haven't exactly been feeling like myself lately."

"Actually, I was counting on that, Jean-Luc.  But I had no idea that you were capable of being this reckless; I'm impressed.  I will admit I saw this as an opportunity to get under your defenses.  Exploiting an opponent's weakness is one of my favorite strategies.  But I did intend to make it up to you."

"Really?" said Picard drily, "and how were you intending to do that?"

"I brought you some gifts which I intended would eventually soften the blow after I humiliated you completely.  I may be devious and perverse, but I'm not entirely insensitive.  I couldn't help you when you lost your ship, Jean-Luc; I'm not allowed to interfere on that scale.  But I retrieved a couple of your belongings for you.  I thought you might like to see these again."  In a flash two objects appeared on the bed.  One was a battered, singed, blackened leather-bound volume of Shakespeare's plays; the other was a small oblong case, similarly charred.

"Q!" gasped Picard wonderingly.  He picked up the Shakespeare volume carefully; it was both fire and water-damaged, but it was intact, the pages still clearly legible. "Thank you, Q, that was very thoughtful."  He stroked the cover of the book.  "I'm very grateful."

"You're welcome, Captain.  But keep it to yourself, please; I have an image to maintain."  Q gestured toward the book, "I can restore it to its original condition, but I thought somehow it would mean more to you as it is."

"That's right," said Picard thoughtfully.  "It's survived quite a bit over the centuries."  He then turned to the case, opening it slowly, and taking out a Ressikan flute.  It too was intact.  "This means a great deal to me, Q.  I didn't expect to see either of these again.  But why?  I didn't think sentimentality about objects was your style."

"It isn't.  Objects mean nothing to me.  I can create whatever I want whenever I want.  But I do find this human attachment to such things rather touching; it's just another example of what my omnipotence denies me."

"I don't entirely understand," said Picard.

"Allow me to demonstrate.  May I?" he gestured toward the flute and sat up straight in the bed.  Picard handed it to him.  Q began playing the flute, which produced a melody so haunting, so passionate, so mournful, so untterably beautiful that Picard's heart wrenched inside him.  The music filled the room and seemed to permeate every pore of his body.  Listening to it overwhelmed Picard with a simultaneous sorrow and rapture that was undescribable, and his eyes filled with tears.  Q glanced at him, discerning his reactions, then continued playing for a while.  His execution was simultaneously technically perfect and suffused with emotion.  When he stopped, Picard sighed wistfully.

"I could have listened to that forever.  It was beyond beautiful.  I have quite literally never heard anything like it."  Although he didn't mention this to Q, he had also had a startling epiphany; Q's music had spoken volumes to him about just how tortured, lonely, and unfulfilling Q's immeasurably long existence was.  Picard was deeply moved; he realized that beneath Q's carefully constructed surface lay depths of emotion and longing he hadn't begun to suspect.

Q nodded, gently replacing the flute in its case.  "I'm glad my playing gave you pleasure.  But it means nothing to me in itself.  I've never picked up one of those before.  It's like that with any instrument on any planet anywhere in the galaxy.  I can pick it up, and I instantly know how to play it, and without thought or effort, I create a melody that blows every listener away like they've never been blown away before.  So what?  There's no joy in that.  I can paint you a masterpiece, create a statue that museum directors would kill for, write poetry that will rip your heart out.  But what does it mean?  I don't have to practice, work, or study.  I get no feeling of accomplishment from artistic creation.  It just happens instantaneously, and I know I can do it all over again, effortlessly, at any time.  So, to make a long story short, I think I retrieved this out of the wreckage for you because I know it gives you a joy I can never have."  Q moved the book and the instrument case off the bed, then slid back down onto his side.

Picard reached over, gently running his fingers through his companion's dark hair.  "You may dismiss that music you just played, but it told me more about you than almost anything you've ever said or done.  You're a complicated creature, my friend."

"Yes, and I'm a complicated creature who has finally found something that is challenging, and that's you, Jean-Luc.  Dealing with you has never been effortless for me.  I suspect that's why you're so important to me."

"Well, challenging doesn't begin to describe what you are to me," laughed Picard, "but you've certainly captivated me in a way I never expected."

"So?" asked Q with a sigh.  "Where do we go from here with all this embarassingly revealing knowledge about each other?"

"I honestly don't know," said Picard gently.  "The implications of having a lover who can change genders at will are beginning to make my head spin now that I'm thinking about it."

"Oh, you'll get over that, Captain.  You've made a career of coping with the unusual and unexpected."

"True enough.  So . . . ," queried Picard, "I'm curious; when you're in human form, apparently, regardless of gender, you feel what any human would feel?"

"Precisely.  I'm anatomically identical.  I can choose, of course, to filter out certain stimuli, such as pain, or the sensations of hunger or thirst, or I can leave myself open to any sensory input a human would receive--as I did with you.  After all, if I was going to seduce you, I wanted the full experience.  And as I've discovered, much to my dismay, my physical responses to certain types of stimuli seem just as influenced by my feelings as a human's would.  What else do you want to know?  I don't have to eat.  I can, however, taste food or drink just as you can, but I don't have to digest it--I can just dematerialize anything I swallow, so I'm free from some of the more unpalable aspects of having a corporeal form.  I could be physically injured, but I could also repair the damage instantaneously.  When I'm in this form, I have a brain, but it has all my knowledge and capacities.  It processes sensory information as a human brain would, but my own mind is there too.  I can also feel more through my 'senses' than a human would if I choose; for instance, if I wanted to, I could experience everything you were feeling when we had sex as well as my own sensations.  But I haven't done so with you.  As I told you before, I was only going to cheat so much."

"Fascinating," mused Picard, impressed by Q's uncharacteristic seriousness, openness, and sincerity during their conversation.

At this Q shimmered back into female form.  "And I have wonderful massage skills, Captain--picked them up all over the galaxy."

"Is that an offer?" asked Picard.

"Roll over, and you'll find out."

Picard rolled over onto his stomach, and Q/Catherine straddled his back.  The sensation was exquisite as her deceptively delicate-looking fingers firmly massaged what seemed to be every muscle in his back and shoulders.  He sighed as the massage moved down his back, and she slid down along his legs.  Feeling her thumbs work their way into the muscles of his lower back, he felt completely relaxed, almost forgetting that it was Q, for God's sake.  He remembered soon enough though.  Just as he felt himself about to melt into the mattress, he felt a sharp, stinging slap on his buttocks, quickly followed by another before he had time to react.  "What was that for?" he demanded, as he rolled over, dislodging his tormentor, and grabbing her wrists.

"That was for insulting me when we had lunch the other day--to my own face, no less!"

Picard laughed, his eyes twinkling with amusement.  "Oh, but you were asking for it.  You're so damned egotistical," he said as he pushed her onto her back, still holding her wrists with one hand, and beginning to explore her body with the other.  "You just had to ask about yourself."  More seriously, he added, "I didn't mean most of it, but you just left yourself wide open.  Speaking of which . . ."  He sat up and began gently pushing her legs apart, then positioned himself so he was sitting cross-legged, with her legs spread and draped across his.  He lightly stroked the curve of each inner thigh with his fingertips.  Then she flung one arm across her eyes and moaned as Picard began to arouse her with both hands.  "Our puny human forms have their advantages, don't they?" demanded Picard.  "And you like this, don't you?" he remarked as the thumb of one hand plunged repeatedly inside her and the index finger of the other circled, stroked, and explored her clitoris and labia with a gradually-escalating intensity.

"Yes, I like it, Picard.  Of course, I like it," she gasped, "and you've got me completely at your mercy."  She uncovered her eyes and looked directly at him, "And you like that, don't you, mon Capitaine?"

"More than you can possibly imagine," he replied, and they lapsed into silence.  Picard understood that she didn't want to divert attention away from the sensations that were rocking her.  Picard smiled to himself.  Having a lover as fundamentally self-centered as Q was remarkably liberating.  He knew that when "Catherine" was endeavoring to please him, to draw out his pleasure as long as possible, she was revelling in her power over him, her ability to entice him into an utter (and utterly exhilarating) loss of his usual self-control.  And, at the same time, this knowledge allowed him to be uncharacteristically ruthless in pursuing his own gratification.  Picard definitely enjoyed forcing his omnipotent and misanthropic partner to surrender to him.  He couldn't imagine a more satisfying form of conquest than compelling Q to acknowledge his desire for Picard in such a human fashion.

Catherine cried out suddenly, and her body convulsed.  After a few moments, she murmured, "You certainly know how to give a girl a good time, Captain.  Come here."  He stretched out next to her, as she covered them both with the sheet, and she kissed him softly, teasing his lips and tongue with her own, until he pulled her closer, and their mouths joined in a protracted kiss.  As they kissed, he felt the strangest sensation.  Her lips and tongue were changing, as was her body; he felt himself being held by suddenly very muscular arms, and he knew when he opened his eyes he would be embracing, for the first time in his life, a nude man.  Picard wasn't as disconcerted as one might expect; given the fact that he was in bed with an omnipotent being who could rearrange the spatial and temporal structure of the universe with a snap of the finger, and considering the unexpectedly powerful feelings his companion had provoked in him, Q's gender (or genders) or lack thereof seemed a comparatively minor concern.  He took Q's tongue into his mouth as eagerly as he had kissed "her" before, one hand reaching around to grasp a handful of Q's hair.  "Sorry, Jean-Luc," noted Q as they drew apart, "but you know I love the element of surprise."

"Of course," acknowledged Picard, "and you also wanted to regain the initiative."

"Naturally.  And I have a lot more surprises in store," noted the entity.  "You have no idea how my powers can . . . shall we say . . . add another dimension (or several) to your sex life."

"Is that so?" asked Picard.

"Allow me to demonstrate."

Although Q was not physically touching him, Picard was suddenly overwhelmed by the most agonizingly exquisite convergence of sensations he had ever experienced.  He felt an exhilarating electric tingle ripple up and down his entire body just under the skin and wind around his nerves, while countless invisible fingertips, lips and tongues seemed to tantalize the entire surface of his skin.  His nipples were being roughly tugged erect by what what felt like lips and fingers simultanously, and he grew instantly hard from the maddening sensation of an invisible mouth sucking his penis hard while multiple invisible tongues seemed to roam up and down and around it at the same time.  It was wonderful, it was unendurable.  "Q, stop it," he gasped.

"Do you really want me to stop?" asked Q, his laughing eyes boring into Picard's.

"Yes . . . I . . . really . . . want . . . you . . . to . . . it's . . . too . . . much."  Picard's nerve endings were beginning to smoulder in a slow burn; they felt raw and unprotected, giving him a hypersensitivty to the excruciating ecstasy Q was inflicting on him.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes!"  The sensations abruptly stopped.  "No, no, I didn't mean it!" exclaimed Picard.  "Please continue, please," he begged.

"How the repressed have fallen," taunted Q.  "And I'll have to think about it.  As you well know, I'm a rather self-indulgent being.  If I continue, what's in it for me?"

"Anything you want," pleaded the helpless Captain as his entire body began to experience what felt like thousands of feathers lightly brushing him everywhere.  This was even worse than before, for this sensation, although enticing, offered no promise of release.

"Anything I want?" demanded Picard's merciless tormentor.

"Yes!  Damn it!"

"Well, Jean-Luc, I have rather a dilemma, or rather an unsolved question of scientific curiosity you could help me out with," remarked the entity casually, as he smiled at his victim.

"What's that?" asked Picard, his frustration growing.

"Well, my sexual history is less diverse than you might think.  Since you caught me so thoroughly off-guard, I might as well admit that this whole evening has been, absolutely, the best it has ever been for me . . . with a mortal, that is.  Now I have had sex with a variety of mortals, both male and female, but I've never done so in female form."

"Really?"  Picard suddenly gasped as the invisible feathers seemed to transform into innumerable fingernails, lightly grazing his back, his shoulders, his stomach, his buttocks, and his thighs.

"Really.  I've appeared as a female on occasion, when it has suited my purposes, but I've never done it as a female before.  You're the one who robbed me of my virtue, mon Capitaine."

Picard raised his eyebrows and emitted one of his trademark exasperated sighs.  "I'm . . . flattered . . . you . . . saved . . . yourself . . . for . . . me . . . , darling," he tried to snap sarcastically, but the moans and gasps escaping him were hindering his speech.  "What . . . is . . . it . . . you . . . want . . . , Q?"  Picard suddenly groaned in frustration as the sensations abruptly stopped again.

"Well, purely as a matter of scientific inquiry," Q explained, "what I'm curious about is whether my response was a result of anatomy or a result of my particular partner, that is, yourself."

Picard thought about it for a while, his body taut and trembling with desire, his mind reeling with an urgent craving.  "Far be it from me to discourage scientific inquiry," he murmured in a low, husky voice.  He then leaned over, kissed Q lingeringly on the lips, began slowly drawing back the sheet, and said, "Well, mon amour, there's only one way to find out."

The End.

Q to Picard in "Qpid":  "This human emotion, love, it's a dangerous thing, Picard, and obviously you're ill-equipped to handle it.  She's found a vulnerability in you, a vulnerability I've been looking for for years.  If I'd known sooner, I would have appeared as a female."

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