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Mr.Picard

Written In The Stars (TNG)

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And the family line goes on. Glad to see Charles settled down and started a family. Not so good to see René fall ill though :(

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Yeah he has his own family (and continues the Picard family line, heh) indeed. Glad you approve! Yeah things aren't good for poor René...

**********

"Do you have a diagnosis, Doctor?" Charles asked and looked at his CMO.

"Yes I do," Dr. Gregory replied and took a deep breath - he dreaded what he had to say next. "Your son is suffering from an extreme form of claustrophobia."

"What? He never showed any symptoms before."

"That's because his brain has only now begun to develop it."

"Will it pass?"

"I'm afraid not, no."

"Can you treat it?"

"Not without risking severe damage to his brain. His body is still growing up - it would be more than just irresponsible to start messing around with his brain functions at this point. Besides, there is no real treatment for this extreme claustrophobia. The progress in medicine is quite remarkable, but there are still things we haven't been able to master yet."

"Then what can Ellen and I do?"

"Not much, I'm afraid. At least not on this starship. René needs wide open spaces, large windows and a lot of light."

"He can't live on the holodeck, Doctor."

"That's not what I'm suggesting anyway." The CMO folded his arms across his chest. "You need to take him to a planet - and he will have to remain there."

"Excuse me? I can't just leave him behind!"

Gregory sighed deeply. "Captain... you need to face the fact that your son will most likely never be able to set foot on a starship again. Maybe one day we will be able to treat even this extreme form of claustrophobia - but certainly not now and not when the patient is an eight year old boy. Do you understand? I am saying this as both your friend and your CMO - get the boy off this ship as soon as possible. It is the only way."

Charles rubbed his forehead and glanced at René, who was fast asleep on a nearby biobed. "Alright. I'll discuss this with my wife. We will find a solution. Somehow."

**********

"What are we supposed to do, Ellen?"

She sat down next to him and put her hand on his. "I think there's only one option - take René to LaBarre. It's the perfect place. A lot of light, open fields, the vineyard - and his huge room with the big windows. I'm sure John-Patrick and Q Junior will be delighted to have him there. They have barely even seen him ever since he was born."

"I don't know - Johnny has always said that he doesn't really want any children. I'm not sure if he'll agree to this. A child doesn't really fit into his life. He often forgets to take care of even himself when he's painting - how is he supposed to take care of an eight year old boy, then?"

"I'm not saying that we just dump René there and go on our merry way. Don't forget about Robert. He would never tolerate it if we separated him from his brother. They're twins, after all. And you cannot leave two young boys without parental guidance - as much as I trust your brother and Q Junior."

Charles looked at his wife in horror. "I can't leave Starfleet!"

"No, you can't. But I can."

"What?"

"You know that I'm not the happiest Starfleet officer ever - I only agreed to serve aboard the Stardust because it was necessary for the boys to have their father around. But I can always resign from Starfleet and work as a full time archaeologist on Earth. There's still plenty of stuff to be discovered there." She squeezed his hand. "I know it's going to be hard for all of us - but we have to consider René's well-being here - and another matter that I've been meaning to tell you."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm pregnant, Charles."

He gaped at her. "What?! For how long... how...?!"

"Remember the last injection we got? We were both late. Guess we were too late as well." She sighed. "I wanted to wait for a happier moment to tell you. I'm sorry."

"It's alright. I am very, very happy about this. What I'm not happy about is the fact that I won't be there to see my child grow up. I never wanted to be forced to leave my family behind so that I can do my Starfleet job. Such things are no longer necessary these days."

"They are necessary for us," Ellen said gently. "For René. He can't stay here."

"I know. I didn't mean to say that it's all his fault or something."

"At least it won't be forever. How old were you when your parents left you to stay with your brother?"

"I was thirteen. But I had asked for it - I wasn't forced to. In fact, my parents weren't happy at all about it. And I admit I had a pretty wild teenage life - Q Junior and I threw party after party for a while."

"But it didn't damage you in any way that your parents weren't there with you, did it?"

"No, not at all. They were there, though - Q Junior always made sure I could talk to them whenever I wanted to."

"Maybe he can do the same for us now? I mean let the boys talk to you whenever they want to."

"Perhaps." He stood up. "I'll send Johnny a message right now."

**********

Robert looked at his twin brother on the biobed in front of him. He was asleep and also rather pale, and even though Robert did not fully understand what had happened he knew that his brother was ill and that he needed help. It was a strange feeling to see him like this - Robert was used to René being strong, always calm and in charge of things.

Now, however, it was up to Robert to be the one in charge. He took René's hand, determined to do whatever would be necessary to protect him.

"Robert?"

He turned and saw his mother walking up to him.

"You're still here? Didn't Dr. Gregory tell you to go home to our quarters?"

Robert nodded but then looked back at René.

"You didn't want to leave your brother, hmm?"

Robert shook his head.

His mother sat down next to him. "René will be asleep until we have reached Earth."

"What is going to happen then?"

"We will take him - and you - to LaBarre. You remember LaBarre?"

"Yes."

"It is going to be your new home."

"The Stardust is our home."

"Your brother cannot live here anymore," Ellen said gently. "But if you want to stay here, you can do so. It's entirely up to you."

"I will go where René goes."

Ellen sighed inwardly - this was exactly the response she had been expecting. "Alright, then. You'll go with René."

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Blimey, he's got a twin brother, and another brother/sister on the way.

Tough choice, regardless of the fact they have a Q in the family to help with the logistics.

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Blimey, he's got a twin brother, and another brother/sister on the way.

Tough choice, regardless of the fact they have a Q in the family to help with the logistics.

I couldn't resist writing in twin brothers. It just fits somehow! I actually debated with myself whether to have Ellen ask Q Junior to cure René but decided against it. The answer would be the Q and their "no interference" policy anyway, I guess. Tragic, but still. :/

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Nice set of updates for me to catch up with here. :) I suspect it wasn't easy to figure out a woman for Charles to shack up with. :laugh:

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Is it that obvious? LOL! Nah, seriously, I knew that I wanted his wife to be strong and yet not as "dominant" as Sandra Picard is. (That would've been a bit TOO much, lol) Ellen is a bit more gentle and introverted, but hey, I think Charles actually NEEDS such a woman. I dunno why, I just think he does. He needs someone who'll calm him down when he freaks out.

- 2 -

The sun was shining brightly when the small shuttle broke through the clouds and flew straight towards the large vineyard.

Charles looked at Robert, who was sitting next to his sleeping brother. "Don't you want to take a look at the vineyard, Robbie?"

The boy looked away and Charles felt yet another pang of hurt. Ever since Ellen had told Robert that his father would not be staying with them in LaBarre he had refused to even talk to him. Of course Dr. Gregory had told him that this was a perfectly normal reaction and that Robert needed time in order to cope with everything - but it still hurt like hell.

"Come on, Robert. Take a look," Ellen urged.

The boy sighed, stood up, walked up to the small window and looked at the vineyard.

Grapes, grass, fields... sure, he had seen this place before - but never from this quite extraordinary perspective.

And he liked what he saw.

A lot.

**********

"Charlie!" John-Patrick exclaimed.

"Please, Johnny - don't call me that!"

"I can't help it. You can grow as many beards as you want - to me you'll always be my little brother."

"I know - just don't call me Charlie when my officers are around, okay?"

"Sure thing."

Charles looked back at the shuttle. "I'm sorry that we're arriving here on such short notice. You barely had three days to prepare for all this."

"Don't worry. It does have its advantages to have a husband who's a Q."

"Speaking of Q Junior - where is he?"

"Continuum business. A few nearby galaxies are causing trouble, apparently."

"Oh. Just an ordinary Q Continuum day then, huh?"

"Yup." John-Patrick looked at Ellen, who was just stepping out of the shuttle. "Hello, Ellen."

"Hello, John-Patrick."

"Have you woken up René yet?" Charles asked.

"I just gave him the hypospray. He should wake up in the next few minutes. Maybe you should carry him out of the shuttle before that, though."

"Of course." Charles walked back to the shuttle and vanished inside while Ellen walked up to John-Patrick. "It's good to see you again."

"Likewise. It's been a while."

"Uncle Johnny!"

"Robert! Hey!"

The boy ran out of the shuttle and up to his uncle. "Boy, you've grown quite a bit!" John-Patrick ruffled Robert's hair and then looked at Ellen. "By the way, congratulations. Charles told me that you're pregnant again...?"

"Yes. Thank you."

"Boy or girl?"

"A girl this time."

"A girl! Now that's good news! There hasn't been a girl in the Picard family in what, three generations?"

"Ellen? He's waking up." They both turned and looked at Charles, who was walking up to them with René in his arms.

The boy opened his eyes and groaned softly. "Pa... pa?"

"I'm here," Charles replied gently.

"Where... where am I?"

"You're in LaBarre. Uncle Johnny is here as well."

"Robert? Maman?"

"We're here, too."

"I'll carry him inside," John-Patrick said. "I'll show him his new room - Q Junior has made a few improvements."

"Can I come, too?" Robert asked.

"Yes, of course." John-Patrick took René from his brother and walked back to the house with Robert right next to him.

"Look at them. I think we've done the right thing," Ellen remarked.

"I agree."

"I just hope the boys won't disturb John-Patrick too much."

"Don't worry. He's quite good at finding peaceful and quiet places for his work."

"It's the perfect environment for Robert and René here. And I'll have plenty of time to relax, too." She looked at him. "I'm going to miss you terribly, though."

He looked back at her. "I'll miss you, too. I remember my father telling me about this choice and that it is one of the most difficult ones an officer can be forced to make."

"He never had to make it, right?"

"Not with my mother, no. They were always together."

"I can't imagine one without the other anyway. They're so close."

"They're inseparable, yes."

"I hope we'll be as inseparable as they are when we are as old as they are now."

He smiled at her. "Me, too."

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- 3 -

"Hello, son."

"Hello Papa," John-Patrick said and smiled at the man on the small screen in front of him.

"Grandpa!" Robert exclaimed from behind and ran up to the screen as well.

"Hello, Robert!" Jean-Luc beamed. "How -"

"Did you hear, Grandpa? The French national soccer team won the World Cup!"

"Yes, I saw the game as well. They deserved to win." He put his hands on the desk in front of him. "How are you?"

"I'm fine," the boy replied enthusiastically. "And René is fine, too!"

"Robert?" Ellen called from behind. "I thought you wanted to take a walk with me...?"

"Yes, Maman! - I gotta go, Grandpa!"

"That's fine, Robert."

"Bye!"

"Bye." Jean-Luc looked back at John-Patrick. "Is it true what Robert said? René is feeling better?"

"Yes. He's been here for two days now and he's almost back to being his former self again. Robert and he played soccer yesterday and broke one of the windows."

Jean-Luc chuckled. "I remember this happening more than once in my own childhood as well."

John-Patrick smiled. "I must admit it's quite thrilling to have the boys here. It's been rather quiet ever since my little brother left for Starfleet Academy. And if it gets too loud I still have my husband to take care of things."

"Just make sure he brings the boys back when he takes them away."

"Papa, please."

"Sorry."

"How's Maman?"

"She's fine. In fact, she sends greetings. We've been very worried about our grandson."

"I can well imagine. But really, he seems to be fine here, so, no more need to worry."

"I'm really relieved to hear this. I have to go now, however - ship's business. Call me if you need anything, alright? The Enterprise will be in the vicinity of Earth's solar system for a couple of days."

John-Patrick grinned. "Oh really? What a coincidence."

His father smiled innocently. "Remarkable, isn't it?"

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Final part of this chapter AND of this part of Written In The Stars AND of the story itself. The next part serves as a prequel to an epilogue. (A FINAL epilogue, mind, lol.)

**********

"So... this is goodbye, huh?" Charles asked.

"It is, yes."

They looked at each other.

"I hate myself for leaving you behind like this - especially now that you're pregnant."

"The child isn't due for another seven months."

"Still, there's a good chance that I'll miss my own daughter's birth." He rubbed his forehead. "I... I'm so sorry..."

Ellen quickly took his hand. "I told you it's alright. I know how torn you are between Starfleet and us."

"I'll send you a message every day, no matter where the Stardust is. I already spoke to Q Junior about this. He'll help."

"That wouldn't have been necessary..."

"It was necessary."

Ellen sighed inwardly - she knew that arguing was useless when her husband had made up his mind. "Alright. Just don't expect me to send a reply every day – the boys will be keeping me quite busy."

"I know." He leaned forward and kissed her gently.

"Ewww!"

The turned around - and found themselves looking at René.

"René? Aren't you supposed to be in bed?" Charles scolded. "We said goodbye an hour ago!"

"I couldn't sleep."

Charles sighed and knelt down. "Alright. Come here."

René walked up to him and stopped right in front of him. "Yes, Papa?"

Charles looked at his son and tried to hold back his tears. "I'll send you toys from time to time. And... when you look at the stars... don't..." he broke off and took a deep breath before he was able to continue, "...don't forget that Papa is up there somewhere, thinking of you. Promise me to think of me as well from time to time, okay?”

The boy nodded.

"And now I want you to get back into the house. It's cold out here at night and you're still a bit weak." He ruffled his son's hair. "Goodbye, René."

"Bye, Papa." The boy looked at him once more and then turned around and ran back into the house.

Charles stood up and turned back towards Ellen. "I guess Robert really means it with his 'won't talk to Papa' policy, huh?"

"He hasn't said goodbye to you?"

"No. I tried to talk to him but he wouldn't even listen."

Ellen sighed. "You know how stubborn he can be."

"Yes, I do. But I would still have liked to at least hug him one more time before I leave."

"I'm sure he'll regret his behavior sooner or later and start sending you messages." Ellen gently put her arms around her husband. "Promise me that you'll take care of yourself up there."

"I will."

They kissed once more, let go of each other and then Charles raised his hand in order to call the Stardust to beam him up.

"Papa! Wait! Don't go, please, don't go!"

Charles whirled around and saw Robert running towards him. He knelt down again and his son threw himself into his arms, almost knocking both of them over.

"Don't go!" Robert cried, tears streaming down his face.

Charles once again forced himself to hold back his own tears. "I have to go. I promise you that I'll come back."

"When?" the boy sobbed.

"I can't tell you that at this point. I wish I could."

"Why can't you stay here?"

"Because I'm a starship captain." He gently freed himself from his son's embrace and wiped away Robert's tears, once more glad that he was still managing not to cry himself. "I need you to do something for me, Robert. You think you're up to that?"

The boy stopped sobbing and nodded.

"I need you to keep an eye on your brother. You will go to school together here in LaBarre and René might have a few problems there. He might get sick again. He will need someone to take care of him and someone who protects him if the other children try to make fun of him or something. I want that someone to be you. Can you do that? Keep an eye on René, I mean?"

The boy looked at his father, fully aware of the fact that he was just being given a big responsibility. "Yes, Papa."

"Good. I'm counting on you." Charles put his hand on his son's shoulder. "Goodbye, Robert."

"Goodbye, Papa."

Charles took his hand away, stood up and looked once more at Ellen before he raised his hand and tapped his communicator. "Picard to Stardust - one to beam up."

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Yup, this is the end. Unfortunately. Written In The Stars was never actually meant to be written in the first place, lol, so, I think 10 parts are just fine. And they leave plenty of room for ficlets, heh. I deliberately made these huge time jumps in these last parts of the storyline. I haven't forgotten about the ficlets! Heh.

Title: "Written In The Stars X - Stay On These Roads"

Author: Mr.Picard

Language: English

Series: TNG/Unbreakable/Written In The Stars

Codes: P/f, m/m, m/f, m, f

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Paramount owns Star Trek. Kthxbai.

Author's Note: This story is set about six years after "Written In The Stars IX - Promises".

Summary: All good things must come to an end.

- 1 -

2444

Starfleet Academy

San Francisco

Jean-Luc peered once more through a small gap in the curtain. "I still don't fully understand why this whole ceremony is even necessary."

"It's necessary because it doesn't happen every day that the Federation's most successful commanding officer retires from active duty and becomes the Federation's most successful ambassador."

"How can you know that already?" he complained grumpily. "I haven't even begun to be an ambassador."

"I know that because you're a wonderful diplomat and because the Vulcans love you already."

"Seral would beg to differ."

"I doubt that. He would just have said it a little differently."

"It's useless to argue with you today, isn't it?"

"Quite so."

Jean-Luc stepped back from the curtain."I still think it's risky what Starfleet is doing."

"What do you mean?"

"Ever since it was announced that I would retire and become the Federation ambassador to Vulcan, Starfleet has avoided to give a clear response to the question of who is going to replace me. Surely they can't be thinking of promoting Seral to captain...?"

"Why not? He's been an excellent first officer so far. Data even told you that Seral would make a wonderful captain before he left in order to command the Sutherland, remember?"

"It's not going to be Seral. Rumor has it that an outsider will take over." Jean-Luc harrumphed and tugged his dress uniform into place. "I would have liked to at least have some say in this."

"To be blunt - it's none of your business anymore."

"None of my business? We're talking about the Enterprise!"

"I'm aware of that. I'm also aware of the fact that an era ends here and now and today. But seriously, you're now going to be an ambassador - all you will need starships for is to carry you from one diplomatic conference to another."

"Why does this sound so incredibly dull now?"

"Because I deliberately put it that way."

He shook his head. "It is still quite ridiculous that I don't even know to whom I will hand over command of my ship!"

"You'll have to simply wait and see."

He eyed her suspiciously. "You know something, don't you?"

"What makes you say that?"

"You'd be complaining along with me if you didn't know anything. Who is going to command my ship?"

"I can't tell you."

"Why not?"

"Because I promised not to. It's supposed to be a surprise."

He glared at her. "I don't like surprises."

"You'll like this one. Trust me."

**********

Admiral Gary Scully looked at the assembled audience and smiled broadly - he was still delighted that he had been chosen to perform this extraordinary ceremony. His gaze lingered on the first row of people in front of him which consisted of the senior staff of the Enterprise-G. Behind them were Jean-Luc Picard's immediate relatives - well, minus one of them who had left a few moments ago and was now hiding next to the stage.

Scully took a deep breath and cleared his throat. "Ladies and Gentleman - today marks the end of one hell of a service record. It also marks the end of a long and successful career in Starfleet - the longest we have ever had. It was filled with adventures - first the Cardassians, then diplomacy, then the Dominion War, and then diplomacy again. This career was also filled with hardship, however - the man I'm talking about was captured by the Borg and tortured by the Cardassians; and yet he prevailed. He stood up for what was right and he gave everything he could to protect the Federation from its enemies. He was then blessed with meeting not only his professional but also his personal happiness - he found his wife, or rather, his wife found him. And then, when he was close to retirement, Q showed up and enabled him to live through yet another lifetime of adventures that, in the end, once more placed him in the center chair of the bridge of a ship named Enterprise. But now his duty comes to an end - at his own request, I might add."

He paused and then went on. "We won't let him go just like that, of course - the Federation still needs his excellent diplomatic skills. Ladies and Gentlemen - please welcome Commodore Jean-Luc Picard!"

Jean-Luc walked onto the small stage and felt more than just uncomfortable when he realized that the entire audience had stood up from the seats and was applauding him enthusiastically - and yet he could not stop a few tears from forming in his eyes. Sure, he had indeed requested this whole thing himself, but still, his career had meant everything to him for so many years - the fact that it was now coming to an end was one that he still found difficult to grasp.

He walked up to Scully and managed to blink the tears away; no need for further embarrassment, after all.

Scully smiled, shook Jean-Luc's hand and clapped his shoulder while they were both waiting for the audience to calm down again.

"Commodore Picard," Scully said when everyone had sat down again, "I hereby relieve you of all Starfleet duties. Your rank of commodore is now an honorary one. No more command, no more orders - is that clear?"

"Yes, Admiral."

The audience chuckled.

Scully smiled. "And furthermore... I hereby appoint you Federation Ambassador to Vulcan with all the rights and privileges of that title." He took a Vulcan IDIC symbol from the small desk in front of him and pinned it on Jean-Luc's jacket.

The audience burst into cheers and applause again, and this time it took a lot longer for them to calm down.

When they had finally done so, Scully spoke again. "As you have no doubt already noticed, our legendary flagship is now without a commanding officer." He made one more dramatic pause. "I wish I could say now that Starfleet had to go through dozens of service records and had to speak to dozens of ambitious first officers or captains - but none of this was actually necessary. We knew who we wanted almost immediately - and when we offered him the position, his yell could probably be heard from here to Romulus."

The audience chuckled again.

"The Enterprise will be handed over to an experienced officer who has had his own ship for quite a few years now. He is an accomplished diplomat already, and yet he is also known for his bluntness and his uncanny way of dealing with problems. Such an officer is exactly what we need to lead our flagship into the unknown. Commodore Picard, I'm sure it will be a special honor for you to hand over command to this man - Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome the new captain of the Enterprise: Charles Xavier Picard!"

Jean-Luc's jaw dropped.

'Charles.'

'Mon Dieu, my son...'

It took him all he had to concentrate on the matter at hand - his mind was reeling and an intense feeling of pride was surging through him as he watched his son walk up to Scully and him.

Charles stopped in front of them - and father and son looked into each other's eyes, one seeing the past, one seeing the future.

Another Picard would command an Enterprise.

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This is the last "regular" chapter of Written In The Stars. An era ends. I guess. Somehow.

- 2 -

"Why did you not tell me that you were going to command my ship?!" Jean-Luc complained and slumped into the biggest chair in the living room.

Charles smiled innocently. "Because I wanted to prevent another endless speech of yours."

"Charles!" Sandra scolded. "Just because you're the new captain of the Enterprise doesn't mean that you can talk to your father in this manner!"

"Come on, Maman - you would have said exactly the same."

She grinned at him.

Jean-Luc rolled his eyes. "I'm surrounded by enemies!"

In that moment the door opened and John-Patrick and Q Junior walked in along with Robert and René.

"Robert?! René?!" Jean-Luc exclaimed. "What are you doing here? I thought you had to go to school this afternoon?"

"You didn't really believe that, did you?" John-Patrick asked.

Jean-Luc harrumphed. "Wonderful. Now you've gone from not telling me things to telling me lies."

"It wasn't exactly a lie, Grandpa," Robert said. "We really are supposed to be attending classes this afternoon." He glanced at Q Junior. "And we are doing so. At least that's what everyone at school is thinking."

Jean-Luc looked at Q Junior. "What have you done?"

"Nothing... just a small mind manipulation."

"Now, that is -"

"Aren't you happy that we're here?” René chimed in.

Jean-Luc sighed. "I am. I simply don't want you to miss important classes because of me."

"It'd have been just another lame painting class anyway," Robert muttered.

"Don't put it like that," John-Patrick scolded. "It still pains me that neither of you is interested in art. You are always out there looking at grapes while your brother is wiping off dust from artifacts."

"I am happy that neither of them seems to want to be an artist," Charles remarked. "It means they will at least not forget to eat and actually notice their surroundings."

"Don't count on that," John-Patrick retorted. "Archaeologists and vintners are as obsessed as painters – just in a different way."

The door suddenly opened again and a little girl came running in, followed by Ellen. "Grandpa!"

"Julie!" Jean-Luc exclaimed.

"Now don't start complaining again, we did tell you that she'd come," Sandra said quickly.

The little girl ran up to Jean-Luc, and he picked her up and put her on the armrest of his chair. "I made something for you, Grandpa!" She out pulled a piece of old-fashioned paper and handed it to Jean-Luc.

He unfolded it and smiled broadly when he saw what it was – the words CONGRATULATIONS, AMBASSADOR PICARD were written on it in rather crude-looking letters.

"She insisted on writing this for you," Ellen said. "That's why we're a bit late. It's incredible, actually - she can read entire sentences already and now she's beginning to write as well!"

"I think I know where she got that one from," Sandra remarked. "I started out quite early, too."

"Maybe we'll have another writer in the family," John-Patrick mused. "We sure could use a few more artists - right, Maman?"

"Damn right, son."

**********

Sandra stretched out on the huge bed. "What a day!"

Jean-Luc yawned and sat down next to her. "I agree. It was quite busy."

"You sure everyone's left? I hope we won't find a forgotten kid somewhere under a table or something."

"I'm sure. Q Junior is rather thorough."

"It was rather loud today, too. I hope our Vulcan neighbors don't already hate us."

"The next house is ten kilometers away, Sandra. Not even Vulcans can hear that far."

"I sure hope you're right." She looked around in the bedroom. "So, this is now our permanent home, huh? It feels weird to know that the Enterprise isn't going to come and pick us up again in a few days."

He stood up from the bed, walked up to the large window and looked out at the stars in the nightly Vulcan sky.

Sandra stood up as well, walked up to him, put her arms around him from behind and her chin on his shoulder.

"Sandra?"

"Hmm?"

"I never thought I would ever say this, but I think leaving the Enterprise at this point was the right decision."

"I agree." She gently kissed his neck. "Even you can't command until you fall out of the captain's chair. You were ready for something else. And besides, the Enterprise is in good hands now. Charles will keep her safe."

"I know." He smiled. "I can't even say how much it means to me that he was the one Starfleet chose." He turned around in her arms. "It's also quite wonderful to see our grandsons making their way already as well. René seems to want to be an archaeologist - and he can be that now that Starfleet Medical finally found a way to treat his claustrophobia - and Robert might take over the vineyard at some point."

"It's amazing indeed. And I really would love to see Julie becoming a writer."

"Maybe she will. She can be anything she wants." He gently kissed her lips. "And now... how about going to bed?"

Sandra smiled naughtily. "I'd like that very much."

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Okay, this is it... the final part. This WILL be the final part - there will be no sequel to the sequel, so to speak. The only thing I might write are ficlets, but not at this point.

I would like to thank all those who have stayed with this story until the end. Without your continued support I would never have written this. THANK YOU ALL!!!

EPILOGUE

Many years later

A low ring sounded when the old man who was standing at the head of the table gently tapped his glass with a spoon. The family members around the table immediately stopped talking and turned their heads towards him, curious as to what he would have to say.

The man smiled briefly and then tugged his uniform into place. Granted, he had retired from Starfleet quite a few years ago but his rank of captain had never actually been taken away from him, so he had gladly pulled out his old uniform for this special occasion.

"We've come here today to witness another beginning of the future," he said and looked around until his gaze finally settled on the young man who was standing next to him. "And this day marks another important day in the history of our family. When I was your age and had accomplished what you have accomplished today, my family did the same thing for me; there was a family dinner and a small celebration afterwards. Back then, however, we were only a handful of people. There were Maman, Papa and I - and there were you, brother."

He smiled briefly at an even older man who was sitting at the left side of the table, his husband next to him.

"Things have changed a lot since then, which is something I am immensely grateful for. My mother once told me that at some point my father had almost accepted the fact that the Picard family would die out. And indeed, he had been the last Picard - until he got to know my mother." He smiled sadly. "I'm sure they would approve of all this if they were still here to witness it. But now, enough of this - this is a happy occasion, after all."

He put his hand on the young man's shoulder. "As I said, this day is more than just a special day for you. You have a long way ahead of you - one that none of my children wanted to go." He glanced at the three adults who were sitting next to his brother, their respective partners and children next to them. "I have never blamed them for it because I know how hard this particular way can be - especially if one carries the name Picard."

He smiled once more.

"However, I don't want to discourage you in any way, and if I have, well, it was not my intention. You have every right to be proud of yourself - a few hours ago you graduated from Starfleet Academy and now carry the rank of ensign. Your career in Starfleet is about to begin the day after tomorrow, and I hope it will be as adventurous as my own was."

He paused and stroked his long beard twice before he continued.

"And here's a bit of advice: Stay true to your ideals. Do not let others talk you into decisions you do not wholeheartedly support. Protect the Prime Directive and obey your orders; but if you think they're wrong, do what my father and I did on quite a few occasions: Disobey them. Point out the flaws. Be a diplomat and a fighter - but, most of all, be an explorer."

He took a deep breath. "Jean-Luc... may you boldly go where no one has gone before."

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Quite a legacy for the latest ensign Picard to live up to. This has been a wonderful read (when I've been about to read anyway) Alex. Hats off to you. :)

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Aww thanks a lot Starblind! Yes, quite a legacy for that young Jean-Luc (who I envisioned to be gay, btw, lol - it was time for another gay guy in the family) indeed! I feel kinda lonely without the daily or weekly routine of editing this on my laptop!

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Ah, Mr. P, what a beautiful story. Touching all the way through, I've finally found time to read it all, and it was well worth the effort. From the beginning to the end, it has been a joy to see the story unfold. I look forward to seeing any ficlets you write in the future; you've created a very rich tapestry (TNG reference? Perhaps ;) ).

Awesome work, Mr. P. A joy to read.

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Aww thank you so much, trekfan! I'm really happy to hear that you enjoyed the story! Hehehe yes, the tapestry (*grin*) has a few holes here and there that I want to be "sealed" with ficlets, in a "what happened to this character" or "how did this come to be" or "let's meet the kids of the Picard grandkids, especially that young Jean-Luc" way. It's going to be a little tough since I've created so much "self-canon" that I'll have to be careful not to violate anything. I mean I hate it when the ones in charge of Trek don't bother with the official canon, so, I really don't want to make the same mistake with my own stuff and ignore my own canon, lol.

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