Triona's time on Vulcan, and Spock's decision to go to Romulus are dealt with in the story, The Long Road From Home, and the alien probe incident in Ancient Whispers.
Picard, Methos, Data, Spock, Sarek, the Romulans, Janette, and LaCroix (and anyone else I've forgotten) belong to their respective PTBs, and Triona, T'Rayla and Lucia belong to me.
Now that I've worked out an actual timeline, I can tell you this story takes place in 2379, a few weeks after the events in "Star Trek: Nemesis".
Thanks to Ninjababe for betareading, and thanks to all of you for reading! Please let me know if you enjoyed the story. Thanks!
A View From the Storm
She paused briefly on the path, silently observing the figure that stood ramrod straight. The snow fell ever heavier, momentarily obscuring him from view. Sighing, she made her way towards him, stopping just behind where he stood, gazing out at the snow and ice covered vines that covered the terraced fields before them.
"Jean-Luc", she said softly, not wanting to startle him. He didn't immediately acknowledge her presence. Triona placed the coat she was carrying over his shoulders. "The sun will be down soon. You shouldn't be out in the storm without a coat," she chided gently, as she drew to his side.
Picard glanced down at her, a slight smile touching his lips. "Yes, mother," he said wryly.
"Now, don't be snippy!" She laughed softly, pleased at his reaction.
"Thank you," he said sincerely. Picard pulled on the coat, gratefully letting its warmth enfold him. "I appreciate it, but I thought you were in a staff meeting?"
"I was. But Benjamin saw you out here." The winter weather on the Northern Continent was not something to be trifled with, so Methos' concern, and hers, was well justified. "He told me to tell you that he has a really lousy bedside manner, and that if you insist on standing out here in a blizzard catching your death of cold, and he has to treat you for pneumonia, that you have no one to blame but yourself." She took his arm in hers. "And he really does have a lousy bedside manner," Triona smiled up at him, trying to hide her worry, "so I'd suggest you and I go back inside."
Captain Jean Luc Picard had arrived a few days before, on Christmas, for his first real meeting with his five-year-old daughter, Lucia. But as happy an occasion as it was supposed to have been, his visit was coloured by recent tragedy. Only a few weeks before, he had been forced to kill Shinzon, the new Praetor of the Romulan Empire, who had also been Picard's clone. And Commander Data had been destroyed saving the Enterprise - and Earth - from the psychotic Shinzon's plans. On the surface, all seemed well, but Triona knew that all was not well with her dear friend, the father of her child, someone with whom she had shared so much. When Methos had interrupted her weekly staff meeting to inform her of Jean-Luc walking coatless in the snow, she'd been more than a little concerned.
He looked back up the path, towards the house, distant and barely visible. "I didn't realize I'd come so far," Picard said, somewhat startled. "I apologize for disrupting your duties..." he began.
"Nonsense!" Triona interrupted. "You disrupted nothing. My staff, as Benjamin is constantly telling me, is more than capable of dealing with things without me." She pulled a flask from her coat pocket. "Benjamin may have a lousy bedside manner, but my prescription is this, " she said, pulling off the cap and handing him the silver container. "Brandy made from the grapes grown in the field before you."
Picard sipped the strong liquor appreciatively. "I approve."
"I thought you might."
The snow continued to fall, the red light of Imladris' setting sun casting a crimson glow to the white flakes. Picard once more seemed lost in thought. "I wasn't expecting this," he said suddenly, quietly. "For this to feel like home."
Triona didn't reply, just waited for him to continue. She'd hoped he would open up to her at some point. Perhaps now, he would.
"I remember, as a boy in France, a winter much like this one. And as I stood here, looking out across the vineyard, I realized that I felt like I belonged here, and that realization confounded me."
"Is it so bad, to feel that way?"
He shook his head. "No, it's not. But Triona, you know me so well. I thought it was enough for me to know I had a child, a child that was happy and being raised in love. The few times I saw Lucia as an infant, before the Dominion War, I was able to leave; knowing that she was safe and loved. But now...."
"But now, you see yourself in her eyes, you see your family, Robert, and Rene', and you want to be a part of her life. With all you have lost, you know what truly matters." Triona took his hand, and lead him back up the path. The storm was intensifying, and she wanted to be inside before full dark fell. They walked in silence, the dark shadow of the house looming up in front of them.
"I wanted so much for Lucia to know Data," he finally said. "He was an android, but he taught me time and again what it truly meant to be human. His sacrifice is what has allowed me to be here now."
"And he would want you have a home, and a family."
He nodded. "You're right, of course. But this wasn't what we agreed to. You never expected to have me as a constant presence in Lucia's life, or yours."
"Jean-Luc, I told you before Lucia was born that you are always welcome here. I believe I said if you'd like to run our fleet, or the winery, or just sit on the porch and watch the grass grow." She smiled up at him. "My planet is your planet. Sound familiar?"
Smiling back, he nodded. "It does sound familiar."
Reaching a set of French doors, she opened one, leading Picard into her sitting room-cum-office. Gratefully, she allowed Picard to help her out of her coat as they both stood in front of the fireplace.
Taking his coat from him, she tossed it onto a nearby chair to join hers. "Those weren't just words, Jean-Luc. I meant it then, and I mean it now. You have always been welcome here; you have always been free to be Lucia's father. I just don't think you were ready to believe it till now."
"Perhaps you're right," he admitted. "But what about Lucia? Do I have a right to upend her life just because I've changed my mind?"
"Cia adores you! Believe me, she only drives into exhaustion those she cares about." The last few days, Lucia had monopolized her father's time, keeping him running in one non-stop stream of activity.
"I always thought I was quite fit until now," Jean-Luc admitted ruefully.
"Welcome to the club!" Picard smiled, but once again, seemed very far away. "What's wrong, Jean-Luc? Please tell me." Triona wanted so much to be able to help heal his mental wounds. She'd been at his side after the Borg, after his torture at the hands of the Cardassians. They had a bond that had existed through time and space in the centuries since Triona had met him that night of First Contact on an Earth so long ago.
"I have six weeks here, before the refit on the Enterprise is done. I don't know if I can spend that much time with her if I know I can't be a part of her life," he admitted.
"What will it take to make you believe me when I tell you that you can be?" How could she make him understand? "Are you worried that Benjamin will object? I swear he won't. He would never deny you or Lucia. He loves her and wants what's best for her. And we -- me, Benjamin, and Lucien - all agree that Lucia is better off with you in her life than without you."
Triona rubbed her hands together one more time in front of the fire before moving to the sideboard and the tea service that was waiting for her as it was every afternoon when she was in residence. Pouring tea for both of them, she handed a bone china cup, decorated in a traditional Blue Willow pattern, to her companion. Triona took a sip of her tea, her expression serious. "When we decided to have a child, you were dealing with the death of your brother and nephew, and I was still haunted by the loss of my," she shook her head sharply, "her baby."
Picard placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Triona," he began.
"No, Jean-Luc, please." What had happened when the alien probe had recreated a chapter of LaCroix's life in ancient Rome, casting Picard and Triona in that recreation had had far reaching effects. It had changed both their lives irrevocably. "Maybe neither of us were in a place where we should have been making such life altering decisions, but we did nonetheless."
"Yes, we did." Picard sighed. "But at the time, I didn't even let myself consider the choice I'd made logically. For once in my life, I went with my emotions."
Triona sank down onto the settee in front of the fireplace. "I'm not proud of how I behaved. I'd gotten used to having power, influence, the Defense Minister of the Imladrin Planetary Union. And when I decided I wanted a child, and discovered it was indeed possible, I fell into what had become all too familiar, arranging things the way I wanted them, not considering those who might be hurt along the way. And I did hurt Benjamin terribly; he didn't deserve that, no matter what problems we'd been having. But despite the tangled road that led to Lucia's creation, when I first held her in my arms nothing else mattered. She became everything to me. It was overwhelming, and at the same time, the most amazing thing I had ever experienced. That's what you're feeling now, Jean-Luc." She took his hand as he sat next to her. "Nothing from before matters."
Nodding, he squeezed her hand. "I look at her, and I realize she's my flesh and blood. Nothing in my experience has prepared me for how I feel when I look into her eyes," he admitted softly. "I can't tell you how many times I'd been asked over the years if I had children, and when I said no, I would be told that if I did, I'd understand. I think now, I do."
"And when you were on Romulus?" Triona asked. "Jean-Luc, I know what happened, I read your report, but maybe you'd like to tell me about it?"
Picard stood up, looking pensive. He walked over to the bookshelves behind Triona's desk, running a finger across the leather bound volumes, pulling one out. "'Morality and 24th Century Weaponry' by Admiral C. Pierson," he read aloud as he turned back to face Triona. "This was required reading in my senior year. In fact, Admiral Pierson lectured at Starfleet Academy in my freshman year, but I never had the pleasure of hearing her speak. I'd always hoped one day to have the opportunity of meeting her."
"Did you?" Triona kept her tone neutral.
"Yes, I'm a great admirer of hers. And this book... well you might say that what happened with Shinzon was a textbook example of what the Admiral was talking about. With our technologically advanced weaponry, even more depends on those who wield those weapons - their compassion, their decency, their morality. The 'human factor', you might call it. Shinzon was willing to wipe out the entire population of Earth, was determined to do so, and had the means to accomplish it. I saw myself as I might have been under different circumstances. He was me, my clone, my duplicate. The realization that I could conceivably ever choose to destroy an entire planet challenged everything I had ever believed about myself."
"We are all good and evil, rage and compassion..." Triona murmured. At Picard's quizzical look, she added, "Something someone said to me a very long time ago."
"The knife's edge," he said. "One misstep, one wrong choice, and we fall to our ruin."
"And we walk that edge every day of our lives." Triona put her cup down on the side table, joining Picard and taking the book he still held from his hands. "The reason Admiral Pierson never returned to lecture at the Academy was because I saw you in that first year of yours, walking across the esplanade. Oh, you were much younger than that man I bumped into the night of First Contact was, but I knew it was you. And I recognized that edge I was walking. In the end, I decided to return to Imladris, and here I stayed for many years."
"You're Claire Pierson?" Picard looked more than a little stunned at her revelation.
"I am, or was, may be again some day." She smiled impishly. "But I must say I'm thrilled to find you're a fan! Would you like me to autograph that for you?"
Picard raised an eyebrow. "Is there anyone else you might have been I should know about?"
"Can't think of anyone offhand," she replied lightly. "As you might guess, being famous or well known isn't something that necessarily goes well with immortality. It's easier now, than in the past, but it's still a hard habit to break - concealment, blending in. In fact, the paper that became this book would never have seen the light of day if not for Spock." She put the book back in its place on the shelf.
"Ambassador Spock of Vulcan?" He followed Triona as she walked over the grand piano in the far corner of the room. Its top was covered in framed photographs and holopics.
Triona picked up one of the small holopics, the image of a teenage Vulcan girl being projected from its small base. She was petite, her long black hair in multiple plaits braided together, dressed in Imladrin style clothing of jeans and a cable knit off-white sweater. "This is T'Rayla, whom I've spoken of, but you've never met. She's Spock's daughter, and my ward. She's been with us since her mother was killed and I've raised her since Spock took it into his head to go to Romulus eleven years ago."
He picked up a photo that had been sitting next to the holopic of T'Rayla. "I've seen this before," he murmured, his brow creased in puzzlement, as if trying to remember something.
Triona looked at the photo he was holding. "Your mind meld with Sarek. Yes, I know about that," she said in response to his look of surprise. "This was taken when Spock was five. That's me, Sarek, Spock's mother, Amanda, and of course, Spock." She pointed to the small Vulcan boy standing in front of the adults in the picture. "I am Spock's 'Pry'lyn'. It's sort of like being a godmother, and a spiritual guide," she explained. "Sarek and Amanda were dear friends; I even lived in their home on Vulcan for several years when Spock was a child. After T'Rayla's mother was killed, Spock brought her here. When he decided on his mission to Romulus, he made me her legal guardian. That decision caused a rift in my friendship with Sarek, one that was never healed before he died."
"I'm sorry, Triona," he said quietly.
"So am I," she said, her voice very sad and full of regret for what could never be mended. She had valued her friendship with Sarek, and she still mourned the rift that her becoming his granddaughter's guardian had caused. But Spock had been adamant in his desire for Triona to raise his child. After years of denying his human blood, he had decided that his daughter should have the chance to embrace her humanity, in part, to honour his late mother, Amanda. So for Amanda, and for Spock, whom she loved dearly, she had agreed.
Triona shook her head as if to clear away the sad memories. "As I was saying, Spock is the reason that the paper became public knowledge. He'd read it, and a few others, on one of his visits here and had passed them on to his former shipmate, and then head of Starfleet Academy, Admiral Sulu. Next thing I knew, I was being invited to lecture on the relationship between the Federation and Terran settled non-Federation worlds."
"I'm very glad he did." He took a sip of his tea.
"Afterwards, Admiral Sulu wanted me to stay on to teach a class on the philosophical and moral implications of energy weapons on warfare. But I'd already decided that I couldn't deal with the temporal ramifications that my presence in your life might cause." Triona laughed. "Of course, at that point, the cat was out of the bag, so I when I started writing books, I decided I may as well let them be published in the Federation as well as here." She placed the photo back on the piano.
"Is there anything you can't do, Triona?" Picard asked admiringly.
Triona snorted. "Oh, please, Jean-Luc, I'm 415 years old. I've had plenty of time to try my hand at many things. That's not anything special, just a logical use of my time. I know my strengths - and my weaknesses. Yes, I'm a dab hand at ship design, and I know my way around a warp engine, but I'll never be a Zephram Cochrane or a Leah Brahms. However, I do know one when I see one, so I've made it a habit to cultivate those minds. T'Rayla for example; she's going to accomplish great things."
"Perhaps you might like to try your hand at accepting compliments more gracefully at some point," he admonished gently.
"I'll take it under advisement." Her tone was stern, but her expression was one of amusement. She went back to the sideboard, but instead of pouring more tea, she picked up a decanter of red wine.
"Please," Jean-Luc replied to her unspoken question.
Pouring the wine, she handed a glass to her companion. "Aren't you glad you're inside?" she asked, looking out the windows. All that could be seen outside was a blur of white, and the sound of the wind howling around the eaves could be heard.
Picard accepted the change of subject. "I am indeed." He grinned. "And not the least due to Dr. Adam's dire warnings of his bedside manner!"
Triona laughed outright at that. "Despite that, he really is an excellent doctor. Benjamin takes up the practice of medicine every other century or so. He'd just completed his latest round of medical school not long before the war. He was the only doctor in the settlement for many years."
"Is he practicing now?"
"He's more into research at this juncture. He's combined archeology, translating texts from long dead races on other planets, with medical research. Benjamin has made some fascinating discoveries," she said with no small amount of pride in her voice.
"You love him very much. I can hear it in your voice."
"Benjamin is complicated, mercurial, and has the ability to make me absolutely crazy, but yes, I love him very much," she agreed.
In the distance, a clock could be heard striking six, and Triona looked at her watch in surprise. "I had no idea it was that time. No wonder I'm hungry! Would you care to join me tonight for dinner at Obsidian?" Obsidian was a nightclub on the Moria moon that was the brainchild of Janette and Triona. Though nightclub didn't quite do it justice. It was the flagship of what had become a very successful chain in both the Federation and the Imladrin Planetary Union. "Lucia is spending the evening with Benjamin and Lucien, as they're both leaving tomorrow."
"Oh? Will they be gone long?"
"Some weeks I expect. The Romulans have asked for our help in dealing with the aftermath of the Reman situation. And since it's been something we've been expecting, we've had a plan in place for a while now."
"You expected it?"
"Not the exact method, but that the Remans would eventually revolt? Yes. It's an eventuality I'd brought up many times with my contacts in the Empire. It was inevitable. I only wish they'd listened."
"I'm surprised you aren't going."
"I may at some point, but my place right now is here with Lucia. And Benjamin and Lucien have spent a great deal of time traveling together over the millennia, so this gives them a chance to do so again. Lucien has an excellent relationship with the Romulan High Command -- the Roman general he was understands them quite well. And Benjamin is well known to them. He is the reason after all that we have had an ongoing relationship with them over the years."
"I'm sure there's a story in that," Picard said, not trying to hide his curiosity.
Triona smiled. "There is indeed, and I shall tell it to you at dinner, if you'd care to escort me, Captain?"
He returned her smile, bowing slightly. "I'd be honoured, Minister."
"And we can discuss the future." She raised her glass.
Raising his glass in response, he said, "To the future."
She tapped her glass against his. "The future." And an interesting future it would be. Of that, she was sure.
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