Until the End of the World



Rated NC-17

E-mail:  astarte@uia.net

Pairing:  Picard/Q

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

Summary:  After the events in "First Contact," Picard and Q have to some really serious work on the power dynamics of their relationship.

Warning:  BDSM.

Note:  Unlike Douglas Adams, I cannot describe this as the fourth book in a trilogy, since it is, in fact, the third installment in a series, the first two parts being "She Moves in Mysterious Ways" and "With or Without You."  This story will make more sense if you've read the first two.  It takes place during and after the events in First Contact.  In this particular universe, Q's visits to Voyager never happened.

Until the End of the World
by atara
Copyright (c) 1997

Part 1 of 2

You led me on with those innocent eyes
And you know I love the element of surprise
In the garden I was playing the tart
I kissed your lips and broke your heart
You, you were acting like it was the end of the world
--U2, "Until the End of the World," Achtung Baby
(Island Records, 1991)

Imprisoned in the fiery core of a remote planet, the entity writhed in frustration.  He was not physically uncomfortable, as he had taken on the form of a flame himself.  He just wanted out!  His omniscience had not been fettered, so he could observe events anywhere in space and time; his power to remove himself from his situation, however, had been temporarily taken from him.  While a small inner voice reminded him that there was good reason for this, he didn't care.  His beloved was in danger, really serious danger, and he was forbidden to interfere.  As was his wont when trapped and helpless, he cursed fluently in every language ever spoken in the Milky Way galaxy as he watched the starship Enterprise (in her fifth incarnation) follow a Borg sphere back in time to the 21st century.

So far, Q was not surprised as events transpired.  That Jean-Luc would initially obey Starfleet's ludicrous orders to keep out of the battle was predictable, as was his decision not only to violate those orders but to take command of the fleet.  He knew Jean-Luc well enough to understand that he would never entirely recover from his assimilation by the Borg years earlier.  So much of what had constituted Picard's sense of himself, of his identity, of his capabilities, had been shattered--Jean-Luc had been raped to his very core, and the rage, the helplessness, and the guilt over his role in the battle of Wolf 359 would never entirely leave him.  Jean-Luc kept such a tight lock on his emotions, that when they did erupt, they erupted in volcanic fashion.  Even in his relationship with Q, he had burst into a rage on more than one occasion in reaction to Q's ability to get under his skin and search out his vulnerabilities.  Giving up control to Q was both exhilarating and terrifying for Jean-Luc; to have his control wrenched from him against his will was an experience that he would never really learn to live with.  Being handed the opportunity to pursue vengeance, Jean-Luc was likely to snap any minute.

As the Borg began establishing their collective in the Enterprise-E's engineering section, unbeknownst to the crew, Q seethed with helplessness.  It was his fault, all his fault that Jean-Luc had been chosen by the Borg in the first place.  Just as Picard did not easily lose control, Q did not readily feel guilt or regret for prior actions.  But when he did feel guilty, it overwhelmed him.  The Continuum knew he wouldn't be able to resist the desire to help his lover, and as soon as the Borg began their invasion, they had locked him up here, able to watch, but unable to act.  Jean-Luc was on his own and on the verge of a psychic meltdown, and there was nothing Q could do.

* * *

The dream again . . . he was part of the Borg collective . . . helpless, violated, furious . . . being turned into a machine, a tool . . . the continuous intrusive whispers, the subvocal chatter of the Borg collective . . . and her voice, sinuously wrapping itself around him, breathing, almost chanting, the name "Locutus" into his brain . . . he was a machine--he was used to betray his own, to kill his own people . . . and still her Siren voice luring him . . .  Later he would wonder where he had found the strength to resist her demands that he join her willingly--why could he steel himself against her but not against his forced betrayal of the Federation?  He seemingly woke from the dream, went to the sink to wash his face, looked in the mirror, and . . . a steely point burst out of his cheek.  The admiral's message that mercifully woke him was expected, but he cursed his absurd orders, pressing his fists to his eyes to push back the tears of frustration.

While the Enterprise languished uselessly near the Neutral Zone, he tried to numb himself with music loud enough to rattle the objects in his ready room.  It crashed around his ears, as he fought to keep himself under control.  Standing by the viewport, he felt terribly alone and terribly small and wondered where Q was.  He didn't know if Q would be allowed to help him or not, but even his sarcasm and mockery would be a comfort now.  The mirror Q held up to him was terrifying, and their encounters forced him to face his deepest fears and desires--giving up control to Q seemed unutterably dangerous yet strangely irresistable, for even at his most vulnerable moments with the entity, Jean-Luc felt an odd sense of security.  Q was a constant in the universe, and having a constant around would be really reassuring right about now.  Trying to block out his thoughts of the Borg, he mentally revisited Q's last visit to the Enterprise.  The games they had played had grown much more serious as the months passed, and Q had slid up behind Jean-Luc, slipping a pair of old-fashioned handcuffs on his wrists before he had time to react . . .

Picard did not hear the door chime or his first officer's entrance until Riker's reflected image appeared beside his in the viewport.  He switched off the music, noting that he had regained a good deal of his composure.  Underneath his sarcastic demeanor as he conversed with Riker, a hard kernel of determination was growing, and it was a welcome change from the earlier flood of helpless, fuming panic.

* * *

Q continued observing Picard's progress in trying to regain his ship from the Borg.  His attention was momentarily diverted by Data's encounter with the Borg Queen.  Q noted Data's flicker of temptation and his resolution to deceive his seductress.  You're a good man, Data, thought Q to himself.  A powerful burst of emotion flashed on Q's consciousness, and he writhed helplessly as he watched an out-of-control Picard gunning down the Borg drones on the holodeck.  Jean-Luc was howling all his rage as he pumped bullets into what was already a corpse.  He's lost it . . . totally lost it.  Jean-Luc, you've got to get your act together, murmured the entity silently.  Fortunately, the woman with him seemed to be a good influence on him.  Picard marshalled his self-control, methodically retrieving the chip which contained orders from the Borg collective from the body of former crewman.  Q didn't like Picard's apparent obliviousness to the horror of his task; it was almost more frightening than the loss of control minutes earlier.  Earlier, Picard had felt a helpless agony when he had to kill an injured crewman to prevent his assimilation.  There was no torment now, as if he had to dehumanize himself to combat this inhuman enemy.  Not a good sign, thought Q.

Later, when Lily burst into Picard's ready room to demand that he destroy the ship, Picard insisted that he was not pursuing revenge, that humans had evolved beyond that pursuit. Oh BULLSHIT Johnny!  Who the hell are you kidding? Q mentally exploded.  When Picard smashed his phaser rifle into the display case, Q flamed in frustration.  He needs me, you assholes, he moaned at his imprisoners.  Can't you see he needs me?  Q was mistaken.  With her dry refusal to be intimidated and her lack of awareness of the mystique that surrounded the Captain, Lily defused Picard's rage, allowing him to realize that his single-minded quest for vengeance was interfering with his judgment.  Picard emerged from the ready room and began the self-destruct sequence.

Q tried to calm himself, realizing that Picard had events under control.  When Picard headed off to Engineering to try to save Data, Q relaxed into a moderate smouldering burn, just enough to keep his own temperature equal to that of the planet's core.  He knew, where Picard did not, that Data had remained loyal to the Federation and, in fact, had a plan to trick the Borg Queen, thereby saving the Enterprise and protecting Zephrem Cochrane's warp flight.  While remaining mostly preoccupied with Picard, Q had kept part of his attention on Data, and he was fascinated by Data's response to the Borg Queen.  You really could do better, my professor of the humanities, thought Q to himself.

At this point, events played out along a predictable pattern.  Picard readily climbed away from the rushing plasma, while the Borg drones and their Queen had their flesh seared away agonizingly.  Q had no pity for the Borg; he was confident enough in Picard at this point that he could admire the man's muscular arms, as Picard pulled himself out of danger.  Yet even Q gave a mental shudder later when Picard, after inspecting the metallic spine of the Borg Queen, snapped it in a brief resurgence of fury.  He did enjoy that, mused Q, and that woman was right that he enjoyed killing the Borg in the holodeck as well.  Oh, Johnny, what have they done to you?  What have I done to you?  Q's guilt for initially introducing Picard to the Borg began once more to overwhelm him, as he ignored an inner voice that told him he really hadn't done the wrong thing.  Picard had told him the same thing, but Q insisted it was all his fault.  It had pained him terribly to see Picard's suffering at the hands of the Borg, but it pained him a great deal more to see Picard's transformation, however temporary.  He knew it was almost impossible to combat a great evil without taking on the characteristics of your enemy, but to see that chilling, ruthless, murderous determination in his Jean-Luc was horrifying, and it was all his fault.  He had begun to flame and writhe again, but he knew that the Continuum would not release him until the Enterprise returned to its own time.

Big fiddling deal, muttered Q to himself when the Vulcan ship landed in Montana.  All First Contact did was give humans a vastly inflated sense of themselves, without deserving it.  Now they think their precious Federation is essential to the existence of the galaxy, with all their silly rules and directives.  The first encounter between humans and Vulcans held no interest for him; he had observed such meetings on many, many planets, and frankly, they weren't nearly as momentous as the participants believed.  Q was rather more interested in Picard's affectionate fondness for that woman, Lily.  Under different circumstances, Q could see Picard being seriously attracted to her, and she certainly would have been better for him than that irritating Dr. C.

He had to admit he admired the way Lily had handled him; if Picard had needed anything during the crisis, it was someone who didn't automatically look up to him as some kind of deity incarnate.  Q almost had to laugh as he recalled Lily's deadpan response to Picard's display of temper:  "You broke your little ships."  You tell him, sister, thought Q to himself.  But he also had to admit that Lily had probably handled Picard much better than he himself would have had he been there.  She had said and done all the right things, and Q suspected he would have done just the opposite, inflaming Picard even more without even meaning to.  He watched Picard give Lily a quick kiss on the cheek before beaming up to the Enterprise and thought, dismally, He doesn't need me.  He can do fine without me.  And he certainly doesn't need someone who puts him in danger and turns him into a monster.  Someone like that Lily is what he needs, not me.  In his self-pity, Q inadvertently let his own energy simply drain away, until a flash of heat and pain from the fire in which he was imprisoned reminded him he had to protect himself, and he forced himself to flame up again.

* * *

In the aftermath of the Enterprise's return to its own time, Picard was too busy the first several weeks to stop and think.  And Q stayed away, alternating between blaming himself for what had happened, being jealous of Lily, and feeling like he was no longer needed.  In a massive sulk (something he had a particular talent for), he ignored Picard's periodic mental summons.  Picard meanwhile had to answer to a Board of Inquiry for his deliberate disobedience of orders, but since the originator of those orders was dead, and the results of Picard's disobedience spoke for themselves, he and his bridge crew were eventually both exonerated and commended.  Data was making regular visits with Troi to talk about his mixed feelings about the Borg Queen and her attempted seduction of him.  Both he and Picard couldn't help wondering if she still existed in some incarnation with the Borg in the Delta Quadrant.   Repairs were underway on the Enterprise and other ships, and Picard made a point of contacting personally or visiting the families of as many of his dead crewmembers as he could.  Many were awarded posthumous commendations, but knowing just what his people had suffered began to make Picard's anger at the Borg begin to boil up again more and more as he spoke to their families.

His meeting with Lieutenant Hawke's parents and partner was particularly difficult; this was a courageous and competent member of his crew who had nearly murdered him after infection by the Borg.  Worf had had to kill Hawke to save the Captain.  Tears had welled in Picard's eyes as he spoke of the young lieutenant to his family.  "I'm so sorry . . . " he had murmured, the horror coming back to him even more strongly.  "We don't blame you, Captain," Hawke's partner had said softly; "we knew the dangers, and so did he.  It's just hard to accept . . . that he's not coming back."

After Picard mercifully escaped that ordeal, he took a shuttle back to his ship, finally able to take some time for himself.  He had been granted a leave, but there really wasn't anywhere else he wanted to go.  During the shuttle trip, he kept a tight lock on his emotions, barely speaking to the young pilot, for fear of releasing all his anger and pain.  He made a quick check on the progress of the repairs, then fled to his quarters, still haunted by the image of Hawke turning into a monster before his eyes.  He paced his rooms for hours, angry all over again.  Killing the Borg who had invaded his ship was not enough.  He wished he could storm into the Delta Quadrant and incinerate them all, and he kept being haunted by the thought of what if they came back?  Finally, exhausted, his brain spinning in turmoil, he collapsed on his bed and sobbed aloud, "I want to kill them all!  Every fucking one of them!"

He fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, but was tortured with nightmares.  He was huge, trampling Borg cubes under his boots.  He was blowing away one Borg drone after another with a phaser rifle; their adjusting shields were ineffective, and he killed one after another with furious, unremitting glee, slicing off heads and limbs with cruel precision.  He led a fleet into the Delta Quadrant, destroying one Borg cube after another, the phasers and photon torpedoes firing and firing again.  Yet the violence did nothing to mitigate the furious rage,which kept boiling higher.  The Borg cubes began morphing into Romulan Birds-of-Prey and Cardassian warships and Ferengi vessels, and still the destructive binge went on . . .  And then her voice in his head, that Siren-voice, almost chanting, "Locuuutus, you're one of us.  You always were and always will be Locutus of Borg . . . "  Picard awoke, howling "NOOOOOO!" and woke up weeping.  After a shower he was able to pull himself together, but was grateful he had no really important responsibilities for a few weeks.

The nightmares came back every night, without fail.  Sometimes he was Locutus, leading a Borg invasion of the Federation; sometimes he was Picard destroying one Federation enemy after another.  Sometimes he watched helplessly as his crew and his friends, one after the other, morphed into Borg drones:  Data, Riker, Crusher, Troi, Worf, LaForge.  Sometimes Benjamin Sisko appeared, thrusting a picture of his dead wife into Picard's face.  And his dreams had a soundtrack of Q's mocking laughter, and a sentence circling in his head:  "The hall is rented, the orchestra engaged; it's now time to see if you can dance."  And each morning he woke up, taking less time to recover from the nightmares and becoming more and more adept at locking down his emotions when he had work to do, but invariably wondering, where was Q?

* * *

Where Q was was staying away.  He didn't know how to help Picard--being comforting was never his strong point--; he was sure he would only make things worse; he felt more and more guilty about his own role in what was happening to Picard; and he was gradually channelling both his guilt and his helplessness into an increasing anger that Picard didn't seem to need him.  He knew about the nightmares, and he heard Picard "calling" him, but he had convinced himself that Picard was better off without him.  At the same time, an insistently louder voice in Q's mind was saying, "How dare he?"  Acting on a suddenly irresistable impulse, Q decided it was time to make an impression.  Picard was reading that evening, trying to shield himself from the thoughts that inevitably pressed on him whenever he was alone, when he suddenly heard the sound of a pair of hands clapping slowly, sarcastically, one clap after the other.  And then a voice oozing a similar sarcasm:  "Well, well, hail the conquering hero!  Defeated the Big Bad Borg, did he?  Must have felt really good snapping her spine, after she was already dead, hmm?  What a brave man you are!  So you've evolved beyond revenge, have you, human?  You want to obliterate every Borg in the galaxy so bad you can just taste it, don't you?"

At this point, Q shimmered into sight, leaning against a wall, his arms folded across his chest, his eyes glittering preternaturally, as if a mere human form could not contain all his withering fury.  Picard had dropped his book the moment he heard the clapping, knowing the source immediately, but not understanding the tone.  During Q's brief tirade, Picard's face turned whiter and whiter.  He had been sure that Q would be the only one who would understand his torture, the only one who could help him.  And now he was crushed, hurt, his defenses shredded, tears welling dangerously behind his eyes.  He bit the inside of his lip savagely, and forced the tears back.  With every bit of control he had, he spoke in a voice of pure ice, without a quaver:  "You're a fine one to talk, Q.  At least I don't gloat over defeating inferior species with tricks and rigged challenges, and I don't waste my time playing games with insects, as you seem to consider us.  The survival of the Federation was at stake, and I did what I had to do."

"Federation, shmederation," sighed Q.  "If you were only concerned about your duty, you would have evacuated your ship and destroyed it the moment you learned that the Borg had beamed aboard.  You knew you couldn't win it back without losing large numbers of your crew.  But they were expendable, weren't they?  You'd expend the rest of them right now if you could destroy the entire Borg collective, wouldn't you?"

Picard fought back a flash of nausea; Q's words rang frighteningly true--what kind of monster was he, dreaming genocide and destruction?  He replied, however, in a flat voice, "A starship posting is, by definition, hazardous duty.  Much as we want to pursue peace, there are times when self-defense takes the highest priority.  That's the way it is with the Borg.  That's why you exposed us to them, isn't it?  To show us that there were dangers we were unprepared for."

Q blinked sharply at Picard's reminder of Q's role, fighting to keep from revealing his own sense of guilt.  He snapped, "Oh, don't mouth platitudes at me, human.  You know you'd do anything to wipe them out--why don't you start being honest with yourself?"

"What I might want emotionally and what I might do are two different things, Q.  I know I made mistakes during that last encounter.  I'm not being dishonest with myself.  I was hoping I might be able to work some of my feelings out by talking to you.  I was hoping you knew me well enough to understand I'd need some help.  But no.  I'm only interesting to you when you want a plaything, someone who's enough of a challenge for you to try to master.  Someone to play games with.  How entertaining--to get Jean-Luc Picard to admit his darkest desires, to persuade him to expose himself to your Godlike scrutiny . . .  But when I actually need some help, some support, then, where are you?"  Picard's voice began to waver dangerously.  "I trusted you . . .  A mistake apparently . . . I . . . thought you . . . understood . . . cared . . . Of course not . . . you can't . . . you don't . . . know how . . ." Picard trailed off, his voice dropping gradually almost to a whisper, as if he was talking to himself.  Picard shook his head, and turned around, trying to will the rising tears back inside their ducts.

Q kept his features frozen while Picard spoke.  Inside, however, he felt each phrase as a dagger twist.  As he so often did, Q swamped his surging hurt feelings with rage.  He spoke in an even, detached, almost bored tone, each word laced with the slightest layer of venom:  "You're right, of course, Picard.  Since I'm obviously no good for you, perhaps you'd be better off with someone who is."

As Picard disappeared from his own quarters with a burst of light, a realization struck him, Oh, so that's what's going on.  I should have known.

* * *

After the excitement of the first meeting with extraterrestials was being channeled into the real work of continuing space exploration, Lily Sloane was plenty busy.  But, still, at night, she wondered.  The meeting with the Vulcans had been almost anticlimactic for her, after her visit to the starship from the future and the terrifying encounters with the Borg.  The future looked simultaneously ominous and inviting.  The Enterprise had thrilled her with its unimaginable technology, and she had been impressed with the dedication of the crew.  And she had been pretty impressed with the Captain as well.  Oh, he certainly had the makings of a pompous and arrogant ass, but you couldn't deny his sheer courage and determination, and that smile of his and the touch of his hand radiated a warmth and genuine interest she had encountered in few men.  It's not as though men were usually her thing, but this time she could see the attraction.  It had been such a relief when he had transported down to the surface and reported that his ship and crew were safe and that he had found his friend.

On this night, like others, she stared out the window at the stars, ignoring her dinner, musing about Jean-Luc and about the future he represented.  And the damnedest thing was that he wasn't even born yet, not even close.  Then there was a flash of light in her room, which made her jump, startled, out of her chair.  And he was standing there, exclaiming, "Damn it, Q, don't do this!"

"Jean-Luc?" she queried, wonderingly.

"Lily."  His anger melted into a warm smile.  "I'm so sorry, Lily, I'm not supposed to be here, and this truly wasn't my doing."

"Well, I can't say I'm sorry to see you," she remarked with a grin.

"Ah, Lily, I'm not sorry to see you either," he replied, then paused, glancing skyward, before adding, "But someone is apparently sorry we ever met."

"I would have though you would have evolved beyond jealousy in the 24th century, Jean-Luc."

He grinned.  "I deserved that.  Jealously seems to be a constant . . . even among species that are supposedly much more advanced than we are!"  He spoke with emphasis, obviously addressing his remarks to an unseen listener.

"You said something to someone named . . . Q?"

"Yes.  He has the ability to travel through time effortlessly . . . and he seems to be trying to make a point, though what that point is, precisely, escapes me," snapped Picard dryly.

"Boyfriend?" asked Lily.

"Boyfriend?  Oh . . . ah . . . Q.  Yes, actually, although it's not the term I would have chosen.  And I seem to have seriously annoyed him--never a good idea with a lover who's nearly omnipotent."

"Your boyfriend is omnipotent?  There's a lot you didn't tell me about this future of yours, Jean-Luc.  The sex must incredible."

"Well, as a matter of fact . . . " replied Picard with an embarrassed grin.

Lily grinned back, imagining the possibilities.  "You're a lucky man, Jean-Luc, but it wouldn't at all surprise me that a god would be after you.  So why's he named Q?  Are his brothers P and R?"

"It's a long story . . . ," sighed Picard.  "On the other hand, I have no idea how long he intends to deposit me here."

"Where are my manners?" exclaimed Lily.  I was just sitting down to a fine meal of chips and salsa, accompanied by a vintage beer.  Care to join me?  But be careful--I like the hot stuff."

"That doesn't surprise me," laughed Jean-Luc.  "I'd love to join you."

After Lily opened a bottle of beer for her visitor and brought a bowl of tortilla chips and a bowl of salsa to the table, she asked, "So what's it like having an omnipotent boyfriend?  I mean, I've had girlfriends who thought they were the Goddess's gift to womankind, but that's not quite the same thing."

Picard laughed.  "No, nothing in my prior experience is quite the same thing as Q.  As you guessed, he can use his powers in some . . . very provocative ways.  I'm quite spoiled for anyone else."

Pity, thought Lily to herself, taking a swig of beer.

"He's also not exactly a he," Picard continued.  "His species don't have genders, or even separate names.  They're all called Q.  He first presented himself to us as a human male, quite a bit taller than I, on the assumption that he would be more intimidating that way.  But when he set out to seduce me, he appeared as a female."

"Kinky . . ." mused Lily, aloud.

"What?  Oh!  Well that too," stammered Picard, embarrassed again, as a memory of a recent visit of Q's came to mind.

* * *

He had come as Catherine, but in full dominatrix regalia, black leather bodysuit, stiletto-heeled boots, and with a riding crop and flogger dangling from her belt.  Picard had stood gaping, while feeling a stirring that told him just how great an impression Catherine was making.  She had snapped, "On your knees, boy!", and when he had complied so quickly he surprised himself, she had whisked away his clothing with a sweep of her hand, and proceeded to tug on and pinch his nipples with scarlet fingernails.

"Oh, you don't miss a trick, do you?" Picard had murmured, willing himself to resist.

"No, I don't, Johnny, and don't forget I can see right through you," she had said, circling around him.  She had then stopped in front of him, lightly grasped his chin with one hand, and delivered an explosive slap to his cheek.  It had been horrible; Picard was overcome simultaneously by a towering rage and by an overwhelming urge to submit completely.  He had felt that before--a terrifyingly compelling desire to lose himself in Q and an equally compelling need to defend himself.

Rage won out, and he had leapt to his feet.  His voice hoarse and tight, he gasped, "Q, don't you ever do that again!"

"Why not, Johnny?" taunted Q/Catherine.  "Because you liked it too much?"

"You! . . . I . . . " Picard had sputtered helplessly, his hands gripped tightly together, as if to stop himself from throttling his tormentor.

Catherine had walked up to him deliberately, again positioned his chin with one hand and slapped him again.  As soon as the slap cracked upon his cheek, a burst of light flashed, and he found himself standing bound to rings that had materialized in the floor of his quarters and chains suspended from the ceiling.  "Damn it, Q!"

Catherine had stood in front of him, lazily swinging her flogger.  "If you want me to leave, Johnny, I will.  Otherwise, my boy, it's time for you to shut up.  You wanted to be defeated, and you were.  Now can you take what I'm going to dish out?  Don't answer aloud--just nod, or shake your head.  If you shake your head, I'm out of here."

Picard had nodded, unable to resist the temptation to lose himself in Q/Catherine's mastery.  Once in restraints, he had begun to relax.  He learned very early on in his relationship with Q, back when Q used only his powers to immobilize him in a variety of humiliating and accessible positions, that at that point the game was over.  Q was going to have his way with Jean-Luc, and nothing would prevent him unless Jean-Luc asked him to stop.  It was never easy; as Q had begun with each visit to increase the explicitness of his bondage techniques--using physical restraints for show, as he obviously didn't need to use them--and had begun to increase the severity of the sensations he inflicted, Jean-Luc felt more and more compelled to resist Q's seizing of control.  But ultimately, he had to give in, with just the tiniest core of resistance still burning inside him.  He had realized early on just how free he felt in Q's restraints, and he learned eventually, too, that he had an avid taste for erotic pain.

While Q, in turn, had occasionally let Picard master him, both quickly tired of that particular game.  Picard would be moved by Q's submission, but he could never forget where the power really lay.  On the occasions when Jean-Luc had the upper hand, it was only because Q was allowing him to have it, and it began to feel artificial after a few months.  Resisting Q and being subdued by him felt much more natural and was much more enticing.  It also allowed Picard to avoid acknowledging how much he wanted everything Q did to him--until he was already so aroused that he had no choice but to acknowledge it.

That time with Catherine had been no different.  Secure in restraints and spread-eagled, Jean-Luc could let Q take over because, after all, Jean-Luc couldn't get away, and somehow the word "stop" never made it past his lips.  Now that he was helpless, Catherine had taken the opportunity to tease him all over with her fingernails, pinching his nipples, his thighs, and his ass, completely maddening Jean-Luc who couldn't help longing for the satisfying thud of the flogger, with its wide leather strips.  Catherine had come up in front of Jean-Luc and kissed him hard, sucking his bottom lip into her mouth so she could bite on it sharply, while her victim moaned.  She had then unhooked the flogger from her belt, swinging it lazily and playfully at Jean-Luc's thighs, so that a leather strip would occasionally caress his prominent and aching erection.  Still feeling humiliated from the slaps to his face, Jean-Luc had made the mistake of trying to assert himself once again, growling, "Will you just get on with it?" from between clenched teeth.

Catherine had laughed delightedly, remarking, "You are going to regret that, Johnny-boy.  Yes, I'll get on with it, but you'll be sorry later."  She had then taken a position behind him and had begun to flog him.  Thud after thud landed on his back, his ass, and his thighs.  Each one carried that intoxicating rush of heat that Picard had learned to crave from the first time Q had beat him--wrestling him to his knees after an unusually determined show of resistance, pinning his arms behind his back, and then materializing a hard leather paddle.  The first smack had sent a shock of desire through Jean-Luc's system--his own horribly humiliating dreams and fantasies had suggested to him that might have a masochistic streak, but it had taken actual experience for him to be forced to realize how extensively that masochism, combined with a desire to surrender control to someone more powerful, pervaded him.

As Catherine's flogger kept slapping at him, each blow reverberating straight through to his throbbing member, Picard had closed his eyes and revelled in the sensation.  There was something comforting in being mastered by Q, despite the humiliation--after all, who could withstand an omnipotent being?  That notion was enough to allow Jean-Luc to distance himself from his own desires--Q was infinitely more powerful, and Jean-Luc just couldn't help himself.  For some reason, the fact that he could tell Q to stop at any time just didn't seem to have any relevance . . .

The flogger had merely been a warm-up.  Catherine had then switched to the riding crop.  After the first few strokes slashed red streaks across his ass, Picard had been once again reminded that an omnipotent being could keep this up forever without tiring, as he felt the crop producing welts with every perfectly aimed stroke.  It hurt, of course, but pain was easier to take than humiliation for Picard, and he indulged a perverse pride in his own ability to withstand it.  Since he couldn't defeat Q in any way, his only real power was in being able to take whatever Q wanted to dish out, and he felt stronger and stronger as the severity of the strokes increased.

When it seemed that every square inch of his ass was covered with welts, Catherine had delivered a resounding smack on each cheek with her hand, then declared, "Now I'm really going to make you suffer, boy!"  In a flash, Jean-Luc found himself spread-eagled on his back on the floor, again secured to restraints that Catherine had materialized for the occasion.  While he squirmed because of the sensation of the carpet against his raw behind, she had then carefully buckled an elaborate cock ring on him with two leather straps snugly fastened around his balls.  Jean-Luc groaned with humiliation and agony.  He could barely stand the roughness of the carpet beneath him, and Catherine was pinching his genitals with her perfect scarlet fingernails in a way that was utterly agonizing.  She had then stood over him, slowly removing her clothes, while providing a pillow for his head that allowed him a better angle to watch her strip.

"Utter perfection," Jean-Luc had whispered, "that's what you are, my lady."

"Good boy," crooned Catherine in return.  "I will now grant you the privelege of pleasing me, but don't forget that you're still in trouble."  She had knelt over his face, and he had immediately gone to work.  Jean-Luc had a real gift in this area, and Q made a point of showing up in female form just so she/he could take advantage of Jean-Luc's talented tongue.  That tongue had been tracing a delicate path from just inside her cunt to her clit, back and forth.  With Picard, Q/Catherine delighted in exploiting the full resources of a human form, and greedily devoured every sensation.  His tongue had begun tightly circling her swelling clit, before he sucked it between his lips for the crowning touch.  He might have been spread-eagled on the floor, adorned with a cock ring, but he could give Catherine a thrashing climax, and he couldn't help exulting in his power to do so, as he inhaled the juices spreading over his face.

"Don't look so self-satisfied, Johnny," she snapped; "I'm not through with you."  She had moved down his body so she was straddling his hips, lowered herself onto his cock, and began slowly riding him, using him as an immobile object for her own pleasure.  Jean-Luc had been sure he would come almost as soon as her slick cunt tightened around him, but he quickly realized that she was using her powers to prevent him.  He cursed silently to himself, as she slid deliberately up and down, winding him up further, but allowing him no release.  She had ridden him faster and harder until she climaxed again, then had slid off, leaving him aching with need.  "That's what you get for talking back to me, Captain Picard!" she taunted.

"Oh please . . . " he moaned.

"Oh please, what?" she demanded.  "And it's 'Please, Mistress' boy!"

"Oh please, Mistress, let me come," he begged.  Q/Catherine had a knack for making Jean-Luc so truly desperate, that he utterly abandoned any pretense of dignity.

"Why should I?" mocked Catherine as she dressed herself again in skintight black leather.  She materialized a comfortable armchair between Jean-Luc's legs, sat down, and stretched out one leg, so the spiked heel of her boot just pressed between his buttocks, while she tapped at his erect cock with the boot's toe.  She reiterated, "What's in it for me?"

Given the choice between humiliating himself even further and remaining in this state of agonizing need and desire, Jean-Luc had had no choice.  Q/Catherine had done it again, as he/she always did--pushed him into a state of helpless, begging indignity.  "Please Mistress, I'll do anything," he almost whined, furious with himself for the desperate tone in voice, but unable to prevent it.

"Oh really, Johnny?" she triumphed.  "In that case, my bad, disobedient boy is going to have to entertain his Mistress and show her that he's capable of behaving himself."  She had released his hands with a snap of her fingers, tossed him an instantly-materialized tube of lubricant, and snapped, "Play with yourself boy, while I watch, but don't you dare come until I tell you to."  She had then leaned back in her chair, crossed her arms, and settled in to enjoy the show.

* * *

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