Title: Per Aspera Ad Futurum

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Rating: T

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not.

Summary: "But didn't they tell you?" I said in an ostentatious tone. "The first rule of time travel is that you don't talk about the time travel." 2000 words.

Spoilers: Post-series for Dresden Files; post "Star Trek" (2009)

Notes: For jilltanith, for Day 22 in Wishlist 2013, DF/STXI, a follow-up to the previous three parts of this 'verse: "You never knew. They only lived a few centuries away. Maybe I would." The previous story was set pre-"Small Favor"; this one is obviously set in the future, and so contains very vague spoilers through "Skin Game" as well as some speculation on the rumors regarding the series' planned ending. Originally posted to LJ on 11/30/14.

The less said about the century immediately following my visit from a trio of time traveling spacemen, the better. It's not a very pretty period in history. Between the various predatory magical races surging out of the shadows to knock humanity back to the bottom of the food chain, the White Council's constant spasms of self-sabotage, the group we knew then as the Black Council stirring everything up from behind the scenes, and the magical arms race I was forced to participate in just to survive, we're very lucky the human race didn't follow the Red and Black Courts of vampires into extinction.

For all I'd occasionally worked with the likes of Gentleman John Marcone and other gray-ethical heavyweights when our aims converged against a more powerful foe, I'd never expected to actually hit the Godzilla Threshold in real life: that point when circumstances are so dire as to justify the use of any and every thing that might solve it, no matter how reckless, nonsensical, or horrific, regardless of cost. The cost, in that case, was what the mundane world called World War III: Gregor's so-called Oracle had proved right about that, in the end. The White Council had sat back while the world fell into another global war, temporarily knocking humanity back to the dark ages... because there'd been hardly any of us left at the time, and all of the alternatives would have resulted in even higher body counts.

I had been more than happy to withdraw to Demonreach by the end of it, licking my wounds and playing Warden to what inmates still remained after one of my more desperate gambits during the war. I didn't think much about my close encounter with the future during that time; I had much more important things on my mind. Like recovery. Reconstruction. Research. And adding to the library of journals that had come into my possession after my grandfather's passing. I might have unexpectedly survived the invasion of the Outsiders, but the Blackstaff had been in his third century even before it began.

I missed him. And everyone else the years had taken from me. But I did my best to honor their memories by making sure their names and actions would never be forgotten.

The decades passed there without much in the way of milestones, apart from the occasional visit from my surviving family and contemporaries. Mister and I didn't require much in the way of entertainment, and modern technology had been mostly beyond my ability to maintain regardless. There was a quietness to life on Demonreach; my cottage was cozy and snug against the weather spawned by Lake Michigan, the trees and wildlife flowed with the seasons to produce a constant soothing hum of natural energy, and the genius loci kept me informed when anything more momentous happened. Summer and Winter smoothly switched places in their endless dance, and another wizard far more qualified than I to play Merlin took care of the occasional problem that cropped up in the outside world.

It was most of a century before I caught a holonews broadcast on one of my rare trips off the island, and got my first proof that Spock, Scott, and their Captain- but particularly Spock- really had been what they said they were, and not just refugees from an alternate timeline, some isolated pocket of the Nevernever, or any of the other seemingly more plausible explanations for those long-ago events at Sutro Heights. First Contact had happened while I was dozing away the years: the Vulcans had finally arrived. Warp drive had been invented. And the first colony ship had been launched to a nearby world.

The first thing I did was to fire off a message to His Wizardly Majesticness. The head of the White Council had probably known long before I did, of course; but who else was I going to enthuse to, but the other wizard who'd been there when I'd heard the word 'Vulcan' for the first time?

Then I started looking into the industries supporting the expansion into space, and began the process of redevoting the resources I'd accumulated over the years. I was determined to be there when the tech bane problem was finally solved, even if it did take two centuries to get there. And when it did... I had a certain meeting to plan in San Francisco.

I hadn't thought to ask Captain Kirk what exact date he'd arrived from. So I couldn't know how long I'd have to wait. But I had plenty to keep me busy in the meantime, now that I'd started taking notice of the outside world again.

It was just as well; a number of other calendar systems cropped up in the years between the Eugenics Wars and the Earth-Romulan War, including a decimal form called a 'stardate' that made no sense whatsoever, mathematical or otherwise. I threw my growing influence hard against that one, and was gratified when they adopted instead a sort of hybrid using the ordinal date, with the Common Era year as the base number and the day of the year after the decimal point. (The year the Federation of Planets was founded, for example, my birthday was 2161.304.) But had I changed history by mucking around behind the scenes? Not knowing what system Kirk might have used left me in a guilt-free zone on that one: even the Gatekeeper couldn't accuse me of knowingly risking a paradox.

I suspect he'd say I got away with a lot of things in those years that I shouldn't have, following that logic.

My legend had faded enough by that point- largely due to outliving the tellers- that Harry Dresden was mostly thought of as a powerful but inoffensive eccentric, not the great and terrible demigod who'd once been the harbinger of apocalypse; so when I started making waves bridging the gap between magical folk and the increasingly high knowledge and technology curve of modern culture, it mostly went unremarked. Identity management was one of my most-requested services, as was reconnecting with lost friends, family, and heirlooms; my cards didn't say 'Wizard' anymore, but the business was surprisingly similar to my original operation, before I'd ever hooked up with Special Investigations and took down my first magical killer.

I kept my main residence on Demonreach, but I also bought an apartment and office in San Francisco, with specific weekly hours and an easily-accessible path through the Ways back to Chicago. I settled in to wait. And met, or made, several more legends along the way, though those are largely recounted in other volumes. I was gratified to see Starfleet Academy go up, incorporating the grounds of the former Sutro Heights, and to read about the construction of a succession of starships named Enterprise.

It was 2233.04 when I finally heard the name James T. Kirk again.

Ten years later, Dr. Richard Daystrom finally invented duotronics, and my business grew exponentially as wizards and technology finally made it onto the same page. Undoubtedly, it wouldn't be long before the expression of magic caused some other bizarre side-effect to set wizards apart, like the curdling of milk back in the Middle Ages; but for the time being, we'd finally been freed to 'slip the surly bonds of Earth' the way normal mortals had been able to for three centuries. The first wizard colony was soon founded; I had enough responsibilities to keep me anchored to Earth for a long time to come, but much of the White Council left, particularly those who still found interacting with mundane society difficult.

And finally, in 2258, the crew I'd been waiting so long for saved Earth from- of all the ironic foes- another time displaced bad guy. It was no wonder Captain Kirk had griped about it always being time travel. I smiled to myself, then went to the old park and set up a micro-veil where Gregor's heirs had lain in wait for us, keyed to the Captain and his companions: a tiny shield just large enough to shelter one of my cards.

Several months later, I looked up from my desk to see three familiar faces wearing uniform shirts in yellow, red, and blue, with four companions equally familiar from recent news casts. I closed my current space opera distraction around a bookmark- I'd finally stopped dropping them face down on desks, as real paper books had increased drastically in price over the years- and set it down, grinning at them.

"Captain Kirk," I said, then nodded to the others. "Spock, Mr. Scott. And I take it this is the rest of your crew? Which one's the infamous Bones?"

Another man in blue stiffened at that one; the grumpy doctor known to the rest of the world as- of all names- Leonard McCoy. It was hardly any wonder the man had had trouble with time travel himself, according to Kirk's long-ago anecdote; I was pretty certain he was a distant cousin of mine. Very minorly gifted, as far as I could tell, but with the usual helping of McCoy-Le Fay-Dresden-Mendoza luck.

"Damn it, Jim, what the hell have you been saying about me?" he objected.

That broke the ice; Kirk laughed, then introduced the others one by one. A young genius named Chekov; a pilot named Sulu with what looked like sword calluses on his hands; and a beautiful young woman named Uhura with the tingle of a minor gift of her own, the ship's communications officer. I didn't doubt that she had a very talented tongue.

"So what brings you to my humble premises?" I asked, doing my best inscrutable wizard impression when the exchange of handshakes was complete.

Kirk scoffed at that, dropping the card I'd left in the park onto my desk. "You know why we're here. The 'only logical conclusion', remember? Have you been here all this time?"

Amused, I lifted a finger to my lips and replied in an ostentatious monotone: "But didn't they tell you? The first rule of time travel is that you don't talk about the time travel."

"The Temporal Prime Directive applies to operatives traveling into the past," Spock replied, raising one of those impractically angled eyebrows at me. "The reverse would seem to be the case in this instance."

I had to laugh at that. "I've missed your encyclopedic conversation, Mr. Spock. Yes, I'm over two centuries old; no, I didn't establish my office here until, oh, 2162 or so? Officially rented by a series of similarly named fathers and sons, of course."

"Of course," Kirk snorted.

"But you didn't come here for a history lesson," I grinned back. "You came here to see magic."

"Can you blame us?" Mr. Scott asked enthusiastically; though the ones who hadn't met me before mostly looked skeptical. "I've been waiting months for this!"

I raised a hand and summoned a portal to the Nevernever, a window into a peaceful meadow located on the borderlands between Winter and Summer. "And I've been waiting centuries. So step into my parlor..."

"Said the spider to the fly," Uhura interrupted dryly, to my delight. But when Kirk tested the portal with a fingertip, then stepped through, she took a deep breath and linked her arm with Spock's; the half-Vulcan eyed me thoughtfully, but followed right after his Captain.

Chekov and Sulu watched warily until their friends appeared on the other side, then glanced at each other; then they bolted through at the same time. Scott shook his head, laughing as they nearly collided with their crewmates; he followed at a slower pace, wide-eyed with wonder at every shift of sensation.

McCoy hung back last, eyeing me suspiciously. "If this is some kind of ploy..." he began.

"Remind me sometime to tell you about my grandfather, Ebenezar McCoy," I replied, brightly. "You remind me of him."

I followed him through to the tune of his surprised spluttering, then sealed the portal behind us with a wave of my hand.