Picard got out of bed.
"Who is there?" Picard asked.
Picard had been stirred awake by what sounded like a bell. He only awakened because Picard realized he didn't have any bells. The only bell musical instrument is in the musical deck where kids and adults practice their musical skills. Picard can see a shadow sitting down in a chair leaning against the arm rest. Picard narrowed his eyes after the strange figure.
"Show yourself," Picard said.
The figure stood up then approached Picard.
"Hell...Hello Jean Luc," Q said, quite shaken. His cheeks was covered in tears. "Don't you dare admit that to me before I ever die!" He put one hand on the foot rest appearing to be in distress at the shocked Captain. "I should have expected you to pull out a bomb just to make death a little more quicker."
"Q..." Picard said, half way out of bed. "You are dead."
"In the timelines I've encountered; so are you," Q said, wiping off his tears using his sleeve.
"Q?" Picard asked, concerned. "Are you all right?"
Q paced back and forth.
"This time," Q said. "You must not come after me. Nor should Data."
"What?" Picard asked.
"You are trapped in a nebula," Q said. "Only you and I remember it, Data...oh well...The time loop does not extend to him." Q wiped off another tear. "The nebula happened to be right below the shuttle." Picard got out of bed then approached the former Q. "Apparently I was not that far from the Enterprise."
Picard grabbed Q by the shoulders.
"Q," Picard said. "You are crying."
Q looked up to Picard.
"Jean Luc," Q said. "Remember this phrase; move on. Two words."
Picard is perplexed.
"Why?" Picard asked.
"Because I am not going to let the Captain of this ship die with me, for the seventh time," Q said, as another tear came down. Picard let go of Q's shoulder. Q turned away from Picard, ashamed, mostly for letting him die countless times. "I know you care. The second encounter where you admitted; we hugged. Second one we were kissing. The third one we were holding hands, and the two others we were talking about how much we cared for one another. The sixth...We were touching hands on a field."
"Me?" Picard repeated, raising a brow. "Kissing you?"
"Exactly," Q said, in between his fresh new tears. "I am sorry, I can't seem to control myself."
"What ending did you just come from?" Picard asked.
"You tell me..." Q said, turning around toward Picard.
"Data..." Picard said, recalling a event from the time loop. "I told him not to go."
"He didn't listen," Q said. "That was in the second timeline where you ordered Data not to go." He felt rather ashamed for letting Data die. "So I have chosen to do something that will prevent both of your deaths." Q rubbed his shoulder looking down toward the floor rather sadly. "Let it be this timeline where I die and you two don't." Q looked up toward Picard with begging eyes. "You will live a long life, Jean Luc."
"What about you?" Picard asked.
"I have done everything, Jean Luc," Q said, in a softened voice. "Older than Earth." Q sat down in a chair. "There's probably another me out there in a different time stream who hasn't died or got stuck in a time loop."
"Q..." Picard said. "Does it really have to end this way?"
Q sighed, with a slow nod.
"Yes," Q said. "It must."
Q looked otherwise exhausted and defeated, so unlike the omnipotent man Picard saw a long time ago.
"In the end, tomorrow, you will have a choice," Q said.
"What choice is that, Q?" Picard asked.
Q sighs, shakingly.
"To stand by and move on," Q said. "Or to die saving me."
At first Picard is dumbstruck by what Q had to say.
"How do I get out of this nebula and time loop?" Picard asked.
"Staying on your ship," Q said. "And back off from the Calamarains." Q taps his fingers together leaning to the side of the chair. "The Q continuum will return the shuttle along with my body shortly after it. Get to another location and the Q continuum will..Oh well...I pulled a few favors and that moon will be back in orbit." He looked down to his feet. "Not how I thought my end would be stretched out this much."
"Good night, Q," Picard said.
Q looked up, with one final defeated smile.
"Good night, Picard," Q said,and then Q vanished.