Disclaimer: I'm only writing this once, so hear ye, hear ye, all lawyers! I am not, and never will, make money off of this story. Thus, she has spoken.
A/N: This story has been adopted from ColtKit's. I've put it under the same title, so anyone can find it. I decided to start from the very beginning. It called to me. I hope it lives up to everyone's expectations.
Warning! Warning!: This will having spanking in it, as per the original idea. If that offends, leave now. Flames will do nothing to change it.
When the orders from Starfleet Command come through, Will's actually sitting in the Captain's Waiting Room.
It's private, the captain's room, which is something Will needs. Every crew member's looking to him for what to do next. Where should they go? Are they still going forward with their two-year mission? What should they do with their newest addition of children? Do they treat them as adults still, or normal pre-teens?
What do we do, sir?
Will runs a hand through his hair for what seems like the thousandths time. It's all a bit much, this leaning of everyone on him. He's used to the quick decisions of away missions, not the steady thrum of day-to-day life demands. The sound of bubbling water from the fish tank helps calm his nerves however– probably why Picard had it installed in the first place. Will's going over some of the daily reports, thankful Picard has such an organized system, when his door chimes.
"Come," he says, frowning at Geordi's remark about new warp coils being needed in the next few months. Hadn't they just gotten new ones a few weeks ago? At Starbase 57?
"There's a message from Starfleet Command, sir" a soft, warm voice tells him as the door slides open.
He glances up at his communication's officer. The door hisses close. "Private or common channels?"
The woman's Bajoran features are smoothed, which can only mean a bad thing. Ensign Jiwuhl Chueyrasi only ever hides her emotions when she's really worried – strategic tactic leftover, he's sure, from the Cardassian Occupation of her home world.
Plus, she came personally to replay the message, instead of opting to give it over the coms. His gut says it's going to be bad news.
She adjusts to a parade attention, feet spread apart, hands behind her back. "Priority One Message, sir."
His gut's right, then. "Put it through here."
"Thank you, Lieutenant."
She nods as she leaves.
His computer turns on a few seconds later, and he focuses all he's got on the older man on the screen. He sits straighter. "Admiral Wayler."
The title sends a ripple of fear down Will's spine. "Acting Captain, actually, sir."
"Not anymore." The bald man sighs. "We've cancelled all tests. As of now, Captain Picard is relieved of duty. You are Captain of the Enterprise."
It's a bit of a surprise – it shouldn't be, but it is. Last month, there was a transporter malfunction and four crew members got an unexpected chance to relive their teenage years. One of the affected is Captain Picard, Star Fleet's 'golden boy'. Will had thought – hoped – they'd spend more time, more resources, trying to get Picard back, as well as the others.
"It's only been a month, sir, why give up?" he presses.
Wayler's eyes narrow. "It's been deemed too risky an attempt. 70% of all the simulations ended in death, or serious physical conditions that couldn't be repaired."
That's a high number. High enough to certainly make Starfleet Command think twice.
"And Mr. Crusher's input didn't help those numbers?"
"Not even a little."
Will resists the urge to groan. Dr. Crusher will not be pleased to know her son experimented on himself for nothing. The walloping Westley received from his mother for aging himself to eleven, as well as the Gold Award from the Fleet, is something the young man will probably not forget anytime soon.
"And Picard, sir?"
"The Vulcan ship, Arev (desert wind), will rendezvous with you in one week to pick him up." Wayler leans forward. "No one wanted this, Riker, but…Congratulations on your new command."
"Thank you, sir," is what automatically comes out his mouth, even though what's going through his mind is something less polite and more panicked. He's not ready for captaincy yet. A few years from now, maybe…but now? He feels as if he's barely keeping his head afloat.
However, instead of voicing all this, Will settles on the only thing he can change. "Sir, with all due respect, I thought I was the legal guardian of Picard."
"That was on a temporary basis, Captain."
"He seemed very adamant not to go back to his brother, sir." Will folds his hands on the desk. "I doubt he's changed his mind."
"Again, that was all based on a temporary arrangement."
"Is there some reason Starfleet Command wants him earthbound?" Will tries not to sound suspicious, but is pretty sure he fails spectacularly.
Wayler's eyes narrow again. "Are you implying something, Captain?"
"No, sir, of course not." Will swallows his urge to shout. "With your permission, sir, I'd like to discuss it with Picard. If he still wishes to stay aboard, I'd like to request a re-hearing for guardianship."
Wayler's lips twitch. "His brother thought you might."
Robert Picard. Will's hands clench without him meaning to. It's a well-known fact the two Picard men get along about as well as Vulcans and Romulans – that is to say, poorly, at best. Will wonders what trouble the elder brother has thrown at Jean-Luc this time. Perhaps some hitherto unheard-of sub clause about family rights over children, or maybe a promise cashed in from some Admiral.
"He told me to tell you," Wayler says, "that he'll allow Picard to stay on the Enterprise on one condition."
Will restrains his relief. "And that is?"
"He wants a test period of two months, with weekly calls, so he can check on his brother."
A trickle of mirth runs through Will. So, the elder brother is feeling protective again, is he? It's actually nice to hear. If Robert had just washed his hands of Jean-Luc, Will might've had to make an emergency trip to earth to pound some sense into the man. But, it's also good news that Robert is willing to let Jean-Luc stay on-board the Enterprise.
This ship means everything to Picard.
It might be that Jean-Luc decides, later, to return home to earth, but Will would rather it be on Jean-Luc's term, not because he was forced to do so. Nothing ever came from trying to force the Captain…no, Jean-Luc's not captain anymore, is he? Will's the captain now.
And won't that take some time getting used to?
"Thank you, sir," Will says. "I'll brief him tomorrow on the situation."
"Very well, Captain. And, again, congratulations."
The screen goes black before Will can answer. He releases the tight hold he's kept in himself and slides back in the chair. What a day. How is he going to break this to them all?
Guinan won't care – she seems to be reveling in her newfound youth.
Ro…Ro is doing better. Especially since she and Keiko left for earth a few days ago – or so Captain Emily says. O'Brien couldn't handle the oddity and stress of having a twelve-year-old wife. Keiko said she felt it best if she went back to her parents too.
No, Will has to be honest with himself, it's Picard that has him worried.
Jean-Luc won't like this loss of control. He never does. Jean-Luc is a man – child, now – who keeps a tight lid on his emotions, his actions, his everything. But this time, he's twelve and the law states he has to give that control over to someone else, until he's sixteen.
Will only hopes Jean-Luc trusts him enough to let him help.
And thus ends the first chapter. I hope you all liked it. I've about five chapters (of 25) written. My plan is to post one a week, and hopefully write two a week. Not sure if I'll succeed, so please be patient with me if you end up waiting a long time in-between updates.