Future Nostalgia

Original Title: I Can Give You the Starlight
Author: ExcentrykeMuse
Song: “I can give you the Starlight” by Ivor Novello
Fandoms: Star Trek: The Next Generation/post-Star Trek Generations and NCIS
Pairing: Jean-Luc Picard/Abby Sciuto
Notes: In DS9, soda is legal.  I imagine that it’s only on Earth that there’s a prohibition on it.
Summary: The Nexus had shown Picard just how much he wanted a family.  Little did he know how a time travelling Goth would be the one to give it to him

Warnings: Time Travel, Illegal Substances (Caffeine), Shameless Crossover

I.

Picard sighed as he looked at the holovid on the Farragut.  It was an old reel, one that he had seen many times before.  Before him stood a woman, a spider tattoo visible on her neck, dark lipstick, dyed black hair up in high pigtails, and wearing a lab coat.  Abby Sciuto.  She was declared a genius.  She had somehow managed, during Earth’s violent past nearly three centuries prior, to pick up a Starfleet signal regarding a criminal and how the evidence wasn’t matching up.  Now Lieutenant Commander Sciuto had been employed for an organization that was a violent precursor to Starfleet.  Somehow she had, in her spare time, devised a very specific form of time travel, transported herself to the needed time, and with her forensic expertise, stopped a criminal from hurting innocent children.

Commander Sciuto’s intention was to return back to the past, but a Starfleet court had ruled that she had seen too much and had ordered that she remain at the end of the twenty-third century, much to her displeasure.

This was her post-trial interview. 

 “No, I’m not happy, but there’s nothing that I can do but respect the court’s decision.  The question I have is why caffeine seems to be an illicit substance in this place?  I mean, it’s like prohibition, or something.”

That always brought a chuckle to Picard’s face.  No one but teenagers in dive bars drank caffeine.

What amazed him, however, is that she didn’t manage to slip through Starfleet’s slippery fingers and just return to her own time.  And, as if she were reading his mind, she answered just that.

 “Um, yeah.  Here’s the thing.  I looked up my biography.”  The Commander was ringing her hands together in her nervous.  More tattoos.  Picard imagined that to enter Starfleet, she had to have them surgically removed.  Also, her hair looked dyed.  That would have had to gone too.  Was she a brunette, he wondered despite himself, or a redhead?

Some reporter asked her what it said.

 “Well, basically I died in twenty-twelve from an explosion in my lab.  I expect that came from the time device I came up with.  I had to divert a lot of power, but, yah know, I thought it was a little important.”

Her lawyer then got involved and the Commander, in her prim black dress with red roses on it and black lace gloves of all things, was escorted away.

Picard shut off the holovid.  That interview must be a year and a half old by now.  That had been before Robert and René had died.  Part of him still couldn’t believe it had happened.  The crew still had shore leave on earth and he couldn’t bear to go back to France.  He knew he was the last Picard, and that thought was just painful.  So was the idea of marrying just for the sake of producing Picard children.  That seemed cruel to his potential wife.  The only woman he had a long, albeit only flirtatious, relationship with was Commander Beverly Crusher.  But he couldn’t marry her.  He’d never loved her and he knew that he never would, although she was undoubtedly a beautiful woman.

He sighed.  If he did manage to get married to someone he could love then she’d have to put up with him being a Starfleet Captain.  He refused to give that up.  He remembered what Jim had said—never give up that uniform.  It just wasn’t worth it.  Even for a woman.

However, was that true?

He remembered the happiness the Nexus showed him.  A loving wife, several doting children, contentment.  He’d even seen a picture of himself in nineteenth century clothing hanging in his study.  Still, he hadn’t seemed out of place in his Starfleet uniform.

Picard’s family had been absolutely perfect.  His wife had been named Marie.  His eldest son Jean-Michel.  His three beautiful daughters Claudette, Madeleine, and Florence.  Picard had always wanted daughters.  He hadn’t known it until then.  But now he knew, and he mourned their loss.

Somehow, Picard had just known their names.  He was in the room and he knew his family although they startled him with their presence.  It was surprising that René was there and not Robert, but he didn’t think about it too hard.  His vision had been one of his own contentment and of the future.  René was undoubtedly part of that future.  He was to be the next generation of the Picard line.  Now, though—now he was gone.

It was a little comical that they had all been dressed in period clothing.  Still, it had been everything, but he had walked away from it.  Perhaps it was time he walked toward it, instead.

Picard turned the holovid back on and watched clips of Lieutenant Commander Sciuto.  For some reason her time traveling abilities fascinated him.  This was an earlier video where she was fully dressed in what was known as “Goth” apparel.  Black stockings, a black poodle skirt from the 1950s he believed, a matching top, and a parasol.  “I’m forty three.  Jeez, don’t you know not to ask a woman her age?”

Hmm… she was just a decade younger than he was and she was the first person to discover time travel from a previous century.  He was beginning to feel a bit old.

Sciuto was speaking again.  “You know, it really wasn’t that hard.  I had to sign, like, a nondisclosure agreement, but I salvaged everything I needed.  I honestly don’t think it could be redone.  It’s not that I’m the genius they’re saying I am.  I’m just saying it’s pretty specific, which is all I can tell you.  Does bubblegum exist in this century?”

Picard laughed again.  She really was too funny.  He needed to laugh more.

He ended up in San Francisco for his shore leave.  Picard had planned on being there anyway albeit with his family, and Starfleet was a comfort to him.  It was nice, as well, to walk around in civilian clothing.  He had a small apartment that he kept which fortunately held most of his wardrobe in it, so Picard didn’t have to go shopping after the damage to the Enterprise.  That was a blessing.

One evening he found himself in a wine bar—he was French after all—and was tasting a particularly fine Bordeaux when she had walked in.  She was a stunning woman in a simple black dress, her deep blonde, almost golden, hair pulled back behind her ears.  She almost looked familiar.  She was looking around at the tables, which all had occupants, before she walked up to his, smiled, and asked, “May I join you?”  A smile lit her face.  “I’m afraid that I prefer to have company than to drink alone.”  The woman really was stunning.  She wasn’t beautiful in the typical sense.  Her features were too distinctive, though her beautiful hair framed her face nicely.

 “Of course,” Picard answered, gesturing toward the other chair.  “I must confess myself in need of company.”

“You find yourself alone?” she inquired, setting her sequins bag on the table.  She nervously pushed her golden hair behind her left ear.  Interesting.  The skin on her wrist looked a shade lighter than the rest of her hand, as if it had recently been regenerated.  He imagined that several hours ago it would have been quite pink.  Picard would have asked, but that would have been impolite.

 “My family—they—“

She looked at him earnestly.  Her eyes were open, showing a sadness and a need to belong somewhere.  They were eyes of loss, but it was carefully covered up with a superficial sadness, although Picard could detect that the walls were slowly dropping now that the woman was in a relaxed setting.

He smiled at her tightly.  “They were unable to make it during my shore leave.”

The woman nodded in understanding.  “I understand.  I’ve lost my entire family.”

Before Picard could answer, a waiter came by with a menu.  She waved it off.  “Champagne, please.  The closest you have to the earliest from the twenty-first century.  I don’t care if it’s French or Californian.”

Picard was startled.  “Do you come here often?”

She smiled sadly.  “A few times a year.  On a lost friend’s birthday.”

“An excellent tradition,” he commended, raising his glass to her.  “I suppose I’m doing the same, although it’s not a birthday.”

“Well, I’d drink a Caff-Pow but they seem to be illegal here.”

Picard nearly gagged on his drink.  “I beg your pardon.”  He was surprised that she would admit a love for caffeine.  Technically, she couldn’t be arrested if it wasn’t in her system in lethal dosages, but she could be detained for questioning.

 “Caff-Pow.  It’s a drink with a high level of caffeine.  What is it with this ban on caffeine?  I don’t understand it.  Can’t a girl get a Pepsi now and then?”

He had no idea what a Pepsi was, though Picard could hazard a guess.  “They over stimulate the mind and are considered a Class Four Intoxicant,” he responded.  Hopefully that would deter the woman.  She seemed to be in her late thirties or early forties and she appeared far too old to go to one of those teenage dive bars for the illegal substance.  Still, he heard that you could find people of all ages there.  He even knew of one that was quite nearby—if it hadn’t been shut down during his last mission.

She stared at him, her flute of champagne arrived.  “Isn’t that the lowest class?”

 “Yes.  It also claims a twentieth century drink called ‘Red Bull.’”

The woman picked up the glass and raised it to him.  “That stuff tastes disgusting.  To absent friends.”

He raised his own glass.  “To absent friends.”

Their glasses clicked and their eyes met.  Her brown eyes were shining.

After a long silence in which they contemplated the window beside their table and the lake beyond it, Picard turned to The Woman.  “Forgive me, but I never inquired as to your name.  It was most rude of me.  My mind, I’m afraid, has been on other things.”

The beautiful woman looked startled and then a wide smile spread across her face.

 “You really don’t know?”

He shook his head.  “I feel like I’ve seen you before,” he confessed, “but I don’t—“

Soft lips brushed against his as this stranger reached forward and pulled his head forward.  The kiss held promise and was more than mere spontaneity.

Picard had closed his eyes and opened them when the woman finally pulled away.  “Sorry.  It’s just—it’s been so long.  Lieutenant Commander Abby Sciuto.”

Picard smiled at her.  “Regulations?” he inquired, referencing her general appearance.

 “Regulations,” she agreed, sadly.  “And you are, now that I’ve kissed you?”

 “Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise.”

Abby’s eyes rose and she leaned back holding her empty flute.  “As my friend

Kate would have said, ‘I lucked out.’”

Before he could respond she was leaning across the table and looking into his blue eyes.

 “I tend to be forward,” she began, but he beat her to it.

 “Will you join me tomorrow night?  After dinner?  I think you’ll like where I’d like to take you.”

Abby blinked.  “Did you just ask me out?”

Picard looked at her confused.  “Pardon?”

 “As in, on a date?”

 “Yes, Commander,” he said, finishing his Bordeaux, “I most certainly did.”

 “Crikey.  Yes, then.”

 “Wear something casual,” he instructed.  “I’ll pick you up at twenty-two-hundred hours?”

 “You have the sexiest accent,” she stated before she shook her head as if to clear her mind.  “How are you going to know where I live?”

 “Why, Lieutenant Commander, I have every intention of walking you back to your place of residence, as any gentleman would.”

It turned out that Abby had quite a nice apartment that showed that her work was more classified than the average Lieutenant Commander’s. 

 “Yes, I know,” she commented at the door.  “I’m pretty sure they’re going to promote me soon.  They can’t do it quickly though but I did invent time travel.”  She shrugged.

It was this time that Picard kissed Abby, softly and with hands against the proruding doorframe so she could retreat if she wanted to.  She smiled at him happily before she actually skipped into her apartment.

II.

Picard’s apartment was far more modest but he didn’t really need it.  Now, about a day later, he was trying to figure out what to wear.  “You’re not seventeen,” he muttered to himself angrily, before grabbing a pair of black jeans, a band t-shirt his nephew had given him and a button up black shirt for good measure.

No one, though, was going to get him to change his shoes.  Also, he didn’t own anything else but his running shoes and he refused to wear those in public.  At all.

At precisely ten, he stood outside of Abby’s door, ringing the doorbell.  He could hear shoes thumbing down the stairway to meet him and he was startled for a moment.  Yes, it was obviously the same woman.  However, she was wearing cluncky black boots that tied up her calf, a black poodle skirt, a blouse to match it, dark eye shadow and her golden hair was in two high pigtails on her head.  She looked just like her initial interviews except without the black hair and tattoos.

 “You look startled.”

Picard, though, thought quickly.  “I didn’t know they made poodle skirts in black.”

 “Isn’t it just glam?” she asked excitedly, grabbing a coat and kissing him.  Picard couldn’t help but kiss back.  She may have an odd fashion sense but she was from a different century.   He would strangely accept her eccentricities.

He led her into the street and she looked over him.  “Is that a rock t-shirt?”

 “A gift, I assure you.”

She looked at him expectantly.

“From my nephew,” he offered Abby.

 “Oh,” she said.  “Always wanted one of those.  How old is he?”

 “He would have been nine,” Picard responded sadly and Abby squeezed his hand in sympathy.

They spent the next few moments in silence.  She leaned her head against Picard’s shoulder and he smiled to himself.  “Now.  I’ve never been here before and we might not be able to get in.”

 “Even though you’re a big famous Starfleet Captain?” she looked up at her through her lashes.

He chuckled.  “Especially because of that.”

 “Ooh,” she murmured, not removing her head.  “Now I’m interested.”

 “And you weren’t before?”

 “No, I was,” she agreed.  “But I didn’t know what to think.  We were at a wine bar and you said ‘casual.’  How was I supposed to know what that meant?”

They ended up at a shady door where Picard knocked exactly three times. 

“It’s like a secret society,” Abby whispered excitedly.  Her arms were still entwined with his, but he found himself more than pleased.  “Isn’t it a secret society?”

“Sort of,” he answered, just before the door opened a crack. “Ah, my good man.  I find myself rather thirsty and in need of some tea.”

The bouncer, who looked like he would have tried to take Worf on in a fight and would have probably lost, looked them over.  “Tea?”

“Earl grey.  Hot.”

“I have no idea what that means,” Abby muttered to herself.

The door was closing on them.  That wasn’t good.  “I’m trying to get you that Pepsi you were talking about last night.  Apparently I look too stately than their usual clientele.”

Abby hopped up and down for joy.  “Honest to God, Pepsi?  I would do anything for one.  It’s been over a year.  Do you know what it’s like to go over a year?”

The bouncer grunted but stepped away.  Abby smiled winningly at him and Picard followed her.  The bouncer stopped him with a hand on his shoulder.  “No funny business,” the man stated, giving him a long appraisal.  “Starfleet.”

“None,” Picard agreed, before catching up to his date, who grabbed his hand and wrapped it around her waist.

“This has got to be the best first date ever,” she shouted over the live band, which was playing something loud and horrendous.  Abby kissed him deeply before she pulled him toward the bar.

“Wasn’t last night our first ‘date’?” Picard couldn’t ask as they fought their way forward.

“It’s how we met,” Abby waved him off, looking avidly at the menu.

“You kissed me,” he stated imperiously, turning and looking at the teenagers on stage with too many piercings. 

“You kissed me back.”

“Semantics.”

The music buzzed in their ears until the barman finally made it to them.  “Three CocaColas,” Abby ordered.  She looked at Jean-Luc who immediately produced the required credits.  When the drinks appeared, she passed one over to him.  “Here, try one.”

“It’s a drug,” Picard protested.

“Not where I come from,” Abby answered, opening her first can.  She took her first sip and moaned in pleasure.  “Live a little.”

“I thought that’s I was doing, here with you,” he answered quietly, but somehow she heard him.  Abby kissed him again, and handed him her open Coke.

“For me?  Just a sip.”

Picard carefully put it to his lips and tasted the strange drink that was carbonated.  He shrugged.  “Not bad.  It’s not tea.”

“Of course not, silly,” she said, wrapping an arm around him when it seemed like some pierced idiot was heading in their direction.  “This is a Speak Easy.”

“I’ve read of such things in books,” Picard noted.  “Actual books,” he added.

Abby sighed.  “I miss actual books.  Tablets were just becoming en vogue when I left and now that’s all there is.”

Picard took another sip of his drink.  “I apologize for the shortcomings of my century.”

Abby opened up another can.  “Nothing to apologize for.  We’re both here in this moment, aren’t we?”

Then he kissed her deeply.  In this strange moment, with this intoxicant running through his system, this horrible noise in his ears, and Abby dressed as oddly as she was—everything was perfect.  She was in her element and she was beautiful.  He hoped the world would not take this away from him because she shone as brightly as any supernova.

Picard ended up finishing his Coke and feeling what Abby described as a “sugar rush.”  “You know,” she rambled.  “There are no nuns here.  I can’t find religion anywhere.  I mean, I’m a pretty devout Catholic and I’ve always been pretty close with the nuns.”

“We haven’t exactly had religion for centuries on earth.  They were thought to divide people,” Picard informed her.

“Well, that’s just stinky,” Abby replied.  “How am I supposed to bowl?  Oh, that’s a primitive earth recreational game.”  Her voice became higher pitched with her definition, as if she were quoting someone.

“A holodeck,” Picard answered seriously.  “Certainly you have enough credits—“

“But they’re just not the same.  And I can’t go to Mass on Sunday!”

On Sunday, Picard took Abby on a transport to a monastery in the Vatican.  She was dressed again, all in black, her head covered in lace, as well as her arms.  Abby looked the picture of gothic piety.

When they kneeled together in St Peter’s Cathedral, Abby squeezed his hand and murmured ‘thank you.’

Picard realized that somehow he was beginning to fall in love.

Luncheon in Venice was utterly divine.  Abby was able to scare up some Italian she had once learned.  “Standard is too close to English but different enough to be frightening,” she confided.

“How so?”

“Imspeak is an entirely different language.  I was good with computer shorthand but this was just—it’s an entirely different language.  I had to learn it when I arrived.  Granted, I had this Starfleet monkey showing me about and willing to help me with anything under the sun.”

Picard laughed.  “It’s a cloudy day.  You really do say the most delightful things at times.”

She smiled at him.  “That’s exactly what I’m talking about!  That phrase is no longer in the general consciousness.”

“Lieutenant Commander Sciuto,” Picard stated seriously, leaning forward  “My parents were purists.  I grew up speaking French.  Has it ever occurred to you that I just may not know that particular phrase?”

She leaned forward until their noses were almost brushing.  “I wish you’d stop calling me ‘Lieutenant Commander.’”

“Should I call you Abigail, then?  ‘My father is joy’?”

“Just Abby is fine.  I rather dislike my name,” she confessed, just as their meals arrived, ruining the moment.

Silence fell over the table as the two of them began to eat.  Abby was first to break the silence; Picard was happy to contemplate both her and the town in silence.  “So, your ship was rather badly manhandled.  Do you have another command post coming up?”

“Manhandled?  We had to separate our saucer after an altercation with a Klingon Warbird!”

Abby moved her fork around the air in circles.  “I was trying to be polite and not mention the Klingons.  So, command?”

“Yes, the Enterprise E.  The New Flagship.”

Abby put her elbows on the table, looking at him in interest.  “What’s it like, being among the stars?”

“Haven’t you ever been?” Picard asked, incredulous.

“No. I work in the criminal justice department.  Pretty Terran based.  That’s another thing.  When did Earth become Terra?”

“Since First Contact,” Picard answered distractedly.  “We went back to the old Roman name.  Humans are often called Terrans elsewhere in the Federation.”

“But why?”

“You don’t think the Vulcans from Vulcan call themselves that.  It’s an easier form of distinction among planets.”

“I guess I hadn’t really thought about it like that,” Abby admitted, sighing.  “I’ve never thought of myself as a Terran before.”

“But you’re a lovely Terran,” Picard complimented.

She smiled at him.  “I’m still getting used to having blonde hair.  Apparently dying one’s hair is against Regulation so they did this odd process to my hair and all of the color just ran out of it.  All that work to keep it healthy, and there it went down the drain after my hearing.”

“Well, I’m certain you’d rather not hear this, but it does suit you, Abby.”

“I still look like a stranger in the mirror.”

Picard laughed outright and Abby soon joined him, giggling and making Picard want to lean forward and kiss her.

“So,” he finally asked, “what are your hopes and dreams?”

“Well,” she stated, “I’m not sure about my job.  Starfleet is great but I’m tired of catching criminals.  I could do so much more.  I’m thinking of submitting my application for teaching at the Academy.  But, as I said, I want to see the stars, have a family back.”  She sighed.  “I didn’t realize how much I’d miss them all.  The nuns, my team.  They were my family.”  She shrugged.  “I haven’t found that here.”

“No,” Picard agreed.  “A crew is like your closest friends, but not your family.”

“What happened to yours?  You’re such an enigma sometimes.”  Abby took a sip of her white wine.

“About three months ago,” he said after hesitating.  “I received a communication that my brother Robert and his family died in a fire.”

“Oh, Jean-Luc.”

“Little René was our future—and now—“ he breathed out heavily and looked across the canal.

“When,” Abby asked quietly, “when was the last time you dated someone?”

“In this reality?” Abby’s eyes widened dramatically.  “Not for a long while.”

She stared at him for a long time.  “I feel—“ her husky voice began “—I think we’re looking for the same thing, in different ways.  But if there isn’t love—“

Picard looked away in embarrassment.  “I doubt that would be a problem on my part.”

Abby smiled.  “I don’t think it will be on mine either.”

III.

Three weeks into their relationship, Picard received a notification that the newly made Commander Sciuto had requested information on the Enterprise E.  The night before they had been at another rave where she had something known as a Root Beer.

The name defied reason and it sounded repulsive, but she loved it and it tasted tangy on her lips.

That day he was out of civilian clothing and back into his uniform.  When his doorbell rang, he hurried down the stairs, turning down the Puccini he was listening to, to see a smiling Abby in her surprising uniform.

Then again, he shouldn’t he surprised at all.

She was wearing a dress that went down to knees.  It was primarily black except for the fact that the top of it was gray with blue sticking out to show she was a scientist.  The sleeves were even three quarter lengths.  She was even wearing her clunky combat boots.

“They let me get away with a lot,” she said, smiling, her hair once again in a bun at the base of her neck.

“No white lab coat?” he asked, letting her in.

“No,” she answered.  “I’m taking a vakay.”  At his blank look, she amended, “vacation.”

“I saw that you requested information on the Enterprise,” he began as they walked into his tiny dining room where he was making her coffee. 

She breathed in appreciatively.

Abby bit her lip.  “Should I not have?  I just thought—since we—it won’t be ready for a few months and I was looking for a change—“

“No,” Picard soothed.  “It’s a wonderful idea.  What position were you thinking of applying for?”

“Chief Science Officer.  My focus is on Criminology but I’ve gotten up-to-date on Xenobotany.  Took a few classes and everything.”

“Well, the Enterprise would be lucky to have you.”

“But you think I’m rushing this.”

“I think,” Picard said, pouring her a cup of coffee, “that our future is so new.”

“Oh, don’t worry.  I’m planning on applying to a few other starships and to the Academy.  I’m not putting my eggs all in one basket.”

Picard looked at her in confusion.

“Twenty-first century lingo, lover-boy.  What are you anyway?  My gentleman caller?”

Picard took his own cup and sat down next to her.  “Yes,” he stated seriously and she began to giggle.  “What’s so funny?”

She leaned forward and kissed him deeply, tasting of coffee and milk.  Picard put his own cup down and took this incredible and eccentric woman into his arms.  When she pulled away, Abby was smiling.

“It’s so old fashioned.  Usually, back home, you’d be my boyfriend, but I think we’re too old for the boyfriend/girlfriend minefield, we’re too new to be partners and you live off-world, and, well, we’re not lovers.”  She shrugged.

“Does that bother you?” Picard inquired, picking up his mug.

“I find it strange.  I know you’re not gay, but I would be wondering in the twenty-first century.”  She gasped.  “You’re not a virgin, are you?”

He laughed heartily.  “No, just a gentleman.”

“Does that mean we have to be married first?”  She pouted.

Picard kissed her gently.  “Yes, Abby.”

“We’re going to have a very short engagement.”

He laughed.  “If that’s what you want.”

She gave him the slow once-over.  “That’s definitely what I want.”

The two were late arriving on the Enterprise.  “Ah, there you are,” Deanna Troi said when she met them, looking between them.

“Commander Sciuto, Commander Troi.”

Deanna smiled.  “A pleasure to meet you.  I’ve heard so much about you.  Are you thinking of transferring?”

“Something I’m playing with,” Abby answered, the two women stepping ahead.  “You only ever get truly horrendous crimes in this century.  It’s a bit tiring.”

Deanna stopped.  “Yes, I imagine it would be.”  She looked back at Picard and back at Sciuto.

“Commander Troi,” he began, “is part-Betazoid.”

“Really?” Abby exclaimed happily.  “Does that mean you can read my thoughts right now?  What number am I thinking of?”  She closed her eyes and scrunched up her eyes, making Picard want to twirl her around until she was laughing.

“Commander Troi can sense emotions, Commander Sciuto,” Picard corrected.

Abby looked more than a little disappointed.

Deanna didn’t look the least bit phased.  “May I just say, that neither of you have fraternal feelings for the other.  Far from it, in fact.  I take it that you’ve become—how shall we say—Miss Sciuto’s gentleman caller?”

“All right, that’s as weird as Imspeak,” Abby stated.  “That’s from, like, the early twentieth century.”

“Some things come back into style it would appear, Commander.”

“Commander.” Deanna rolled her eyes.  “I doubt she’s been Commander since the day you met, Captain.”

“I was actually Lieutenant Commander then,” Abby supplied helpfully, making Picard close his eyes.  Trust Abby to casually reveal that he had broken Starfleet Regulations by dating someone that was not his equal to or within one command post of his rank.  At least he hadn’t been her superior officer.

“Well, then.  Trust the Captain,” Deanna said with a smile, leading the two forward.  “The ship is structurally sound but still has electrical work to be done.  Geordi is down in Engineering.”

“Lead the way,” Picard allowed, but Deanna had already snapped up Abby.

“So tell me,” Deanna said loudly enough for him to hear, “is he a romantic?”

“He took me to the Vatican as I’m Catholic,” Abby allowed, fortunately not mentioning the many raves they had been to.  “Apparently religion isn’t that big of a thing here anymore.”

“No, not on earth.  The Vatican holds services every few months, so you were lucky with you timing, weren’t you, Captain?”

As much as Picard loved seeing the two of them getting along so easily, he was realizing how dangerous such a friendship could be.  If he did in fact marry Abby, she and Deanna could gossip all they wanted.  It was a bit frightening.  Still he would be married to Abby.

“Very lucky,” he finally answered.

“I wouldn’t have to give up my uniform, would I?  I’ve never been fond of pants.”

“I wore the regulation dress when I was first assigned to the Enterprise,” Deanna revealed as they walked into Engineering.

It was a mass of coils of sparks.

“Oh, Captain!” Geordi greeted.  “It’s still a bit of a mess in here.”

“That I can see, Lieutenant Commander.  Is everything on schedule?”

“Ahead of,” he responded, rubbing his hands together.  “I’m looking forward to the upgrades.”

“As are we all, I’m sure.”

Geordi was now looking between Picard and Abby.  Before Picard could say anything, Deanna leaned forward with a smile.  “Commander Sciuto.  We’re hoping to steal her away.  What position are you interested in?”

“Chief Science Officer.  A soil fragment, in my mind, could tell us just as much if not more than a piece of evidence.”

“Commander Sciuto is the lead criminologist at the Starfleet Courts,” Picard added.

“Well, Commander,” Geordi said, extending his hand, which was taken.  “Hopefully I’ll see you in two months.”

“I hope so, too.”  She managed not to look at Picard for which he was grateful.

As they left, Deanna leaned in to Picard.  “Beverly’s on board.”

“Oh, no.  It’s too soon for non-romances.”

“Oooh,” Abby said coming up.  “Sexual tension in the workplace.  Always fun for teasing.”

Deanna smiled.  “I can see you thinking that.”

“Still, the bridge, I think,” Picard decided, and a turbo lift later, they were there.  Abby looked around in awe and just walked around it in complete silence.  “Can I—Can I sit in the Captain’s chair?”

Picard shared a look with Deanna.  “Don’t get any ideas.”

“Hardly,” she agreed, “Mr. Gentleman Caller.”

She sat down in the chair and flexed her hands.  “Oooh, comfy.  It has the Sciuto stamp of approval.”

The turbo doors opened.  “And why should that matter?” Beverly Crusher asked.  “I got a com from Geordi that you’re on board.”

Picard tried not to let his shoulders tense too much.  “Commander Crusher, may I introduce Commander Sciuto?”

Abby sprang up from the chair and came forward, offering her hand.  “Hey,” she said.

Beverly looked like it was the last thing she wanted to do.  However, at least she took Abby’s hand.

“Captain, the medical facilities are more than adequate.” She brushed the hair by the side of her face away.  “In fact I’m quite pleased.”

“I’m glad to hear it.”  Picard turned back to Abby who was now at the helm.

“Don’t worry!  I promise not to touch anything,” she squealed happily.  “I can’t believe I’m actually on a spaceship.  I told you about how we just had tablets when I left twenty-twelve, but this, this is just, mind-boggling.  And it really flies through space?”

“That is the point,” Beverly responded dryly.

Picard shot her a look, but Deanna answered first.  “We are trying to woo the Commander, who is the lead Criminologist in the entire Federation, to the Enterprise, Beverly.”

“Ah,” she murmured, looking at the Captain.  “I understand.”

Picard thought she didn’t understand, but he’d leave her with her misconceptions. 

“How do you like the twenty-third century, Commander?” Crusher asked.

“Sometimes it’s sparkly, sometimes it’s not,” she responded with a shrug. 

Beverly looked at Deanna for help.  “Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn’t.”

“Did you leave family behind?”

“Isn’t that a bit much—“ Picard began to protest but Abby interrupted him.

“No, it’s fine,” she answered.  “I left one brother, but my whole team, who was like my family.  My boss, Gibbs, was like the father I never had.  And I was a daughter to love since he lost his.”

“Oh, I’m terribly sorry.”  Beverly didn’t seem it in the least.

“It’s not your problem,” Abby responded, getting up from the Comm and going to the tactical station.  “So, is this, like, where I’d fire weapons?”

“Yes, Commander,” Picard answered, using the excuse to get close to her.  “It is a rather dangerous station.”

“I’m assuming,” she teased, “that it’s all offline.”

Picard breathed in her natural scent.  “I have absolutely no idea.  The panel looks active though.”

“Shan’t touch anything then,” Abby promised, leaning in slightly to kiss him before remembering their audience.

Picard backed away and shared a look with Deanna.  He knew he was slightly less than subtle, but this was a date, after all.  They just accidentally had an audience.

She moved close to him and whispered, “I believe most of the primary crew has remained in and around San Francisco.  I heard from Commander Riker just last week that he saw you with a beautiful blonde having dinner.”

Picard tried to suppress a groan.  “Has anyone else heard these rumors?”

“Beverly has, certainly.  She was asking me about them this morning and then to have her here, in uniform, and blonde—well, she’s getting the picture.  You can’t take your eyes off of her.”

“You know she would only be here on the Enterprise if I—“

“—Yes.  Does this have anything to do with Robert and René?” she asked kindly.

“Perhaps with a sense of urgency but with nothing else.  I was enchanted with her as soon as she sat down at a Wine Bar I was drinking at and, well, I haven’t let go.  The twenty first century was certainly a different place.”  He looked at her thick boots that were certainly not Starfleet Regulation.

Deanna patted him on the back.  “She belongs to a subculture known as ‘Goth.’ She would have been eye catching even then.”

Well, she was certainly eye catching now.

Crusher was now turning toward him.  “I have reports to complete, Captain.  If you’ll excuse me.”

“Dismissed,” he said without thinking about it before turning back to Abby.  “So, you like the Enterprise, then?”

“She’s beautiful, Jean-Luc,” she whispered before she kissed him gently.  “You have a wonderful ship.  Knew you would.  It being the flagship and all.”

“Perhaps a trip to the science lab is in order?” Deanna suggested and Abby untangled herself and hopped through to the turbolift, a barely contained grin on Picard’s face.

IV.

Abby was trying to cook, trying being the operative word.  They had come down to lunch, Abby had grabbed Picard, and stated that lunch was on her.  “You think it would be simple,” she complained.  “But what with all these notches I always end up burning it!”

“I assure you, a replicated meal—“

“Is something you could get anywhere.  I’m cooking for you.  And you’ll eat it even if it’s horrible.”

Picard sat in his seat.  He was not going to go against the woman.

“So tell me about this Crusher woman,” Abby asked, as she pressed a few more buttons, giving Picard an excellent view of her backside.

He swallowed.  “What do you want to know?”

“Anything.  Everything.”  Her hair was now down and she seemed to be playing with some buttons.

“Well, I was good friends with her husband Jack Crusher,” Picard began, but Abby interrupted him.

“No, wait.  You were the best friend of the dead husband.  You need tell me no more.  How far did it go?”

Picard looked at his hands uncomfortably.  “We fell in love, but she wanted nothing to do with it, so we just pretended we felt nothing like we had before the unfortunate—revelation.”

“Problematic.  And now?” Abby turned to him, looking him straight in the eye, in an odd sideways kind of way she had.

“She may pretend, she may not.  I don’t know.”

“And you?”

“There’s nothing left to pretend.”

Abby smiled and leaned over the counter and kissed him.  “One more question.  You said you hadn’t dated in this reality, Jean-Luc.”

Picard shifted.  “I entered an alternate reality called the Nexus,” he admitted cautiously.  “It gave us what we wanted.  “I had a son and three little girls.  René was alive.  I had a wife.”

Abby stiffened.  “How long were you with them.” 

“Moments.  I spoke one sentence to Marie.”

Abby formed the word ‘Marie’ with her mouth before turning away.  “Did you love them?”

“They were my family.”  Abby’s shoulders remained tense.

“But you lost them.”

“Yes.  I chose to leave them.”

“And me?” she inquired, turning.  “Would you choose to leave me?”

“No,” Picard quietly admitted.  “You would be real.”  There was a long pause where the two just stared at each other.  “And what of you, Abby?”

“My old flame was Tim McGee,” she said after several long moments, pointing to one of the many pictures about the apartment.  “He was—we got together before he became a member of the lead taskforce.  We stayed together for awhile afterwards but he wanted more.”  She shrugged.

“More?” Picard inquired, leaning his head on his hand. 

“Love.  Marriage.  A family.  The usual.”  That sounded mildly worrying.

“And now?” 

“Now,” she sighed.  “Now it’s what I’m looking for.  I guess we missed each other in the dark.”  She was silent for several seconds.  “I don’t regret him.  It was so many years ago and, well, he worshiped me.  A girl wants to be adored but not worshiped.”

“I can see the finer points of the distinction,” Picard admitted.  “In this line one finds hero-worship quite easily, but actual and abiding love is difficult.”

“I will admit to not know who you were when I sat down at your table.”

“Or I you, though of course knew of you.”

Abby was now back at the stove.  “Naturally.  The famous Abby Sciuto.  I’ll be glad to give up that name.  Part of me thinks of just changing it legally to Gibbs or something.”

Picard tried not to cough.  “To Gibbs?  The man who was like a father to you.”

“Yeah,” she responded absent-mindedly.  “No one can really recognize me without the tats and the hair, but it would be nice to get away from it all.”

In the end, the pasta was a bit soft but not burned, for which Picard was thankful.  Every other night or so he would take Abby for dinner and often to a rave where she could get her caffeine fix, although with his help she had recently discovered a coffee maker.

“Is that guy looking over at us?” Abby asked as she was eating her rare steak one night.  She was actually wearing a dark blue for a change and had her hair curled around her face.  “Oh, now he’s coming over.”

Picard looked over and immediately smiled.  “It’s my first officer,” he confided, before he got up and greeted Riker. 

Abby just sat there politely.

“Will, it’s wonderful to see you.”

“And you.  I knew you would be in the area but I never thought I’d find you at such a fine restaurant.”  Picard looked over Riker’s shoulder to see a very fetching brunette sitting at their table.

“A Betazoid?”

“I have a weakness.”

“You always have, my friend.  May I introduce the enchanting Commander Abby Sciuto?  My first officer, Commander William Riker.”

Abby offered her hand and blushed when Riker kissed it.

“I wasn’t aware you two knew each other.”

“We didn’t until I stole his table one night,” Abby laughed, causing Picard to chuckle.

“I hope you haven’t been doing it often to poor unsuspecting souls since then,” Riker teased and Abby smiled.

“Hardly.  I already found my very own Starfleet Captain.”

“Oh-ho,” Riker looked at Picard.  “I think you have your hands full, Captain.”

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he declared, catching Abby’s eyes.  She tilted her head at him, showing that she was thinking hard about something.

“So the rumors going around the crew are real, I guess,” Riker was now saying.

“What are they?” Abby begged.  “Rumors are always interesting.”

“That our dear captain is smitten with another officer.”

“Well,” Picard stated. “I think that’s rather obvious.”

“There’s more, though,” Abby said perceptively.  “What aren’t you telling us, Commander?”

“It’s really not my place,” he replied, adjusting his collar.

“Now you have to say something,” Abby persisted, leaning forward.  “What is it? Scandalous?”

“Just that a certain member of the crew is a bit—angry—and that there may be plans of marriage between the two of you.”

Picard sighed, wanting to rest his head in his hand, but he knew he really shouldn’t give credence to the rumors.

“I’m genuinely sorry for the member of the crew,” Abby stated solemnly, “and Jean-Luc hasn’t popped the question.”

“Popped the question?” Picard asked in amusement.

“Asked me to marry you.”

“It has been only six weeks,” he argued.

“Six good weeks,” she argued back because she could.

“Do you usually get marriage proposals after six weeks?” he laughed.

She stopped, clearly thinking.  “Yes, but they’re all geeks.  You have read Moby Dick, though.”

“I’m a geek then?”  Picard looked between the two of them.

Riker bowed out.  “I think my date is getting a little restless.”  With final goodbyes he left Abby to her upcoming crème brulée.

“Six weeks?” Picard asked.

“Six is such a nice number,” Abby answered.

Picard thought that there was a conspiracy when he entered Abby’s criminology lab—white coat present—when he saw Data there.

“So this is what you do with your shore leave, Data?”

“I find it practical to be, well, useful.”

Picard nodded as Abby declared her happiness that her favorite captain and android already knew each other.  “It’s so sad when he has to go off to space.”

“It is on the Enterprise,” Picard reminded her.

“Yes, well, I’m important, too.  Ooh, come see my state-of-the-art technology.”

Data looked between the two of them and then shrugged before going back to whatever he was doing.

When the lab finally cleared, Picard kissed Abby, catching her bottom lip between both of his.  After several minutes she gasped, “I’ve wanted you to do that all day.”

“Oh, so have I,” he agreed, before kissing her deeply again.

Neither noticed when Data reentered the laboratory and quickly exited.

The final draw was the night when Picard meant to propose.  “Oh, no,” he sighed as they entered the high class bar, before going over to Lieutenant Commander Worf.   “Worf,  Good to see you.”

Worf put down his prune juice.

“Captain, it is an honor.  It is a privilege to also meet you, Miss Sciuto.”

“You’re the first Klingon I’ve met,” she responded.  “Forgive me if I seem a little awed.”

“Do you know of Miss Sciuto?” Picard asked as Abby looked at the ridges along Worf’s head without any subtlety.

He bowed.  “Naturally.  But I heard the rumors.”

“Drinks, anyone?” the waiter put in, looking at Abby a little too long in her black lacy gown and heavily shadowed eyes.

“I’ll have what he’s having,” Abby stated, nodding toward Worf.

“It’s prune juice,” he informed her, his eyebrow rising.

“Well, Commander, I’ll still have it.”

Picard smiled at the two of them actually getting along.  “Make that three.”  If they were going for solidarity, they might as well show it.  Picard also did not appreciate being the only one drinking at a party.  “Mr. Worf, how is Alexander?”

“My son,” Worf supplied for Abby.  “He’s quite well.  He had decided to go to a university instead of the Academy, but I can do nothing but support this decision.”

“Is he with his mother?” Abby asked.

“No.  With my adopted parents—in Russia.”

“Russia’s far away,” Abby noticed.  “You must love him very much.”

“More than I can say.  You don’t realize how much love you can hold until you hold your heir.”

Abby looked at him penetratingly.  “No, I imagine not.”

When their prune juices arrived Worf naturally asked the question.  “Do you want children, Commander?”

She blushed, taking a small sip.  “Doesn’t everyone?”

That night, Picard walked with her hand in hand down the street, and she smiled up at him.  “Seven weeks,” she remarked.

“Seven weeks,” he agreed.

“Either you’re stalking your crew or they’re stalking you,” she teased.

“I am choosing to believe it is entirely a matter of coincidence,” he stated, before coming to her door.  He pulled a paper manual out of his pocket.

“Rings aren’t part of Starfleet Regulations,” he murmured.

She gasped.  “This is an original of the manual for the first iPad.”

“I thought you’d like it.”

Abby threw her arms around him.  “Yes, I like it.  I love it.”  She paused, still holding him close.  “I love you.”

Picard held her closer and buried his face in her hair and breathed in the heavenly scent.  “Is that a yes then?”

She pulled back and looked him in the eye.  “On one condition.”

He waited for her to speak.

“Your family is gone and mine is—dead.  I’d like a wedding where it’s just the two of us.  In Victorian fare of course.”

Picard laughed in happiness.  “Consider it done, Commander Sciuto.”

Everyone on the Enterprise was surprised when the Captain arrived, two weeks later, humming under his breath to check on his new quarters.  Geordi followed him in as Picard appraised them.  “I need a double bed if not larger,” he ordered, “and much more shelving.  Oh, and a second dresser.”

“Captain, this sounds awful like the quarters for a married Ensign.”

“Oh.  Then add a living room.  I wouldn’t want my wife to live like an Ensign, now, would I?”

Geordi laughed and stated, “I can have all the usual specifications, with the added shelving.”

“Good,” Picard nodded.  “Abby does love her photographs.”

“Photographs.  Like, from the twenty-first century?”

“I think part of her realized she might not go back,” Picard sighed.  “I’ve read her preliminary file and she had her hair badly singed, her lab coat on fire, some stuffed hippo named ‘Frank’ entirely destroyed, but her Spectrometer and photographs survived the travel through time.”

“Sometimes, I think time truly knows what is important, Captain.”

“Somehow, I think you’re right.”  It had given her what she had needed, her family now they were gone and her Spectrometer, which she had used to solve the case.  Nothing else made it through the journey.

Picard received an official notice once his marriage to Commander Sciuto and her subsequent application and its acceptance to the Enterprise became known to Starfleet High Command.  They were now living in Abby’s apartment, where she often tried to cook dinner to only have him whisk her off to dinner elsewhere or for a Coke.

“She’s our best criminologist.”

“Commander Picard will undoubtedly be an asset to any assignment, and I believe it’s Starfleet’s prerogative never to separate married couples.”

One admiral laughed.  “Trust you to marry the best and the brightest in one field while being in the lead of your own.”

“Well, perhaps after this mission we’ll consider remaining on Earth where I can consider teaching while the Commander returns to her previous duties.”

“Why do I doubt that will happen?” the Admiral asked, flicking back her hair.

“I have no conceivable notion, Admirable.  None whatsoever.”

Epilogue

The Borg had been off the Enterprise-E for exactly 72 hours and Picard still couldn’t relax.  He sat back in his living room, a report on his knee, but he just couldn’t seem to concentrate.

Abby came and sat next to him.  “He won’t go down.  Hasn’t been able to since we took that Escape Pod ride.”

Picard reached out to her.  “I am truly sorry about that.”

She smiled sadly at him, cocking her head to the side.  “There was nothing you could do about it.  You were saving our lives.”

“While risking my own.”

Abby remained silent.

There was a squeal and Picard was up in a moment, toward the Moses Basket that held their first and only child.  “Anton, n’ai pas sommeil?”

He picked up his son and cradled him in his arms.

“Remind me why we didn’t name him Jethro,” Abby laughed. 

“You can’t translate it into French.  And Timothy McGee was your ex-boyfriend.”

“Which left Tony,” she replied as if they’d had this conversation many times before.  “Strange to think Gibbs married again.  And that his marriage to Dr. Ryan lasted until her death.”

“Love sometimes finds us when we least expect it,” Picard sing-songed, rocking the baby.

Abby leaned up and simply kissed him.

THE END.

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