A La Q
|Star Trek TNG Fanfiction|
|Title:||A La Q (or "You Want Fries With That?")|
|Author(s):||Kellie Matthews and Julia Kosatka|
|Date(s):||August 30, 1993|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: The Next Generation|
|External Links:||was at The Story Page of The Starfleet Ladies Auxiliary and Embroidery/Baking Society, |
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A La Q is a novel-length het fanfiction story (44,000 words) in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fandom. Jean-Luc Picard finds himself transported back to September 10, 1991, by Q. He has to make his way somehow, and ends up working as a short-order cook for a roadside diner owner by original character Rena Taylor, with whom he eventually forms a romantic relationship.
One notable feature of the story is that the Star Trek (and Next Generation) television series do exist (and are apparently accurate) in the universe.
Reactions and Reviews
In spite of it's title, "A la Q," is not a Q story. Rather, Q serves as a deus-ex-machina to get Picard into unfamiliar territory. Well, the territory is unfamiliar to Picard, but not to us, as Q drops the Captain (properly attired in jeans, a shirt and sneakers) onto a highway in the middle of Texas in 1991. Picard is rescued by a friendly trucker, who drops him off at a diner, with the recommendation that Picard ask the diner's owner for a job. Of course the diner's owner, Rena Taylor, is a lovely, interesting woman, but there's a lot more going on here than a mere Mary Sue story. Rena is a complex, fascinating character, a sculptor stuck running a diner in a tiny Texas town because she feels obliged to carry on her parent's business. Far from being perfect, she has doubts and self-esteem problems that make her *real* to the reader. As Jean-Luc gets to know her, we can't help but understand his attraction to her and approve of it.
Q's intended lesson for Picard is to point out how lucky Picard is to live and work in the 24th century and life as a short order cook is a good way of doing just that. We watch as Jean-Luc goes from fascination with his surroundings to an understanding of just how hard the day in, day out grind is to live with. Discovering that Rena is an artist, and a good one, he is appalled that she wastes her life struggling to keep the diner afloat. His questioning of her reasons leads Rena to look at herself and her life through a stranger's eyes. And we get to look too, including a look at what happens late one night when Picard catches Rena watching Star Trek. Out in "the boonies" in 1991, all she gets are TOS reruns and it comes as quite a shock to the current Captain of the USS Enterprise to view his predecessor's exploits on the small screen.
Kellie and Julia have Picard down perfectly. It is absolutely no trouble at all to imagine Patrick Stewart as this Jean-Luc, losing his patience and beating up a local tough guy who beats up on the diner's pregnant waitress arguing with Q on the couple of occasions that Q shows up, discussing World War II with a lonely vet, working as hard as he can to learn the complex business of short order cooking, and being incredibly modest and surprised when Rena wants him to pose for her. In fact I know a number of people (including myself) who have been influenced by the self-deprecating modesty with which Picard responds to Rena's request. While it's not canon that Picard is unaware of the effect of his appearance (unlike Stewart, who *knows* he looks good), it is a TrekSmut convention to write him as someone who doesn't believe compliments from a lover.
And, of course, Rena and Jean-Luc become lovers, but even here this is not a normal story. Picard, knowing that Q can snatch him back at any moment, tries to be gallant and Rena shows a wonderful determination to get what fun she can out of this encounter with a drifter who may wander off any day. The sex is more hinted at than shown (see the end of the review for more about the sex); if I had to rate this story, I'd give it a PG-13. The sex isn't necessary to the story however, it's the feelings that Rena and Jean-Luc have are important, as both of them know that this can never be a permanent thing. Indeed, all good vacations must come to an end, and the end in "A la Q" is a climactic one. A hurricane descends on the town and as far as the residents know, Picard dies heroically (nope, you gotta read it). Rena alone knows better, although she doubts her eyes when she sees Picard and another man vanish in a flash of light. How she discovers the truth and what becomes of her, I'll leave up to you to find out.
This is a wonderful story, it's one of the best characterizations of Picard that I've read (far better than any of the so-called pro novelists) and it's full of the kind of fun details that fanfic lends itself to. As I said above, Rena is a wonderful character, and she's real enough that I found myself wondering (for reasons I'll leave you to discover) if she was in the audience with Atara, Alara and I as we watched Patrick Stewart in "The Tempest." So, here you have a great story with wonderful characters; what are you waiting for?Note: There is an NC-17 rated version of the sex scene for those that wish to track it down at the SFLAE/BS site (see top of review for URL). I'd recommend it if you're interested in some lovely lovemaking a la Picard. 
- review by Ruth Gifford, September 30, 1997 at alt.startrek.creative