Fandom: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Genre: Drama, Angst
Characters: Wesley, Beverly
Setting: Set immediately after the wedding scene in "Nemesis".
Disclaimers: I don't own Star Trek. I'm not making any money.
Notes: This story takes into account Wesley's deleted scene from Star Trek: Nemesis, which is now available for your viewing pleasure on It does not follow the events in the "A Time to…" books.
As I wrote this I thought of the person Wesley had become when we saw him in "The First Duty" and "Journey's End". I saw a little bit of volatility and lot of potential in that character. I hope that other writers (and their readers) can find that too.
Apologies: The Star Trek universe is a complicated place. Please forgive any timeline mistakes. Also, I'm human. Please forgive any grammar or spelling mistakes.
It came down to this: he was no god.
Will Riker's wedding to Deanna Troi was a happy occasion. Wesley Crusher smiled when he saw his old friends. At the reception he laughed at the Captain's jokes. He flirted with a pretty dark-haired girl whose name he instantly forgot. He talked to Captain Picard and his mother briefly, and acted too thrilled to be working the night shift in engineering on the Titan. When he congratulated the bride and groom, Wesley felt his chest tighten as he looked Deanna Troi in the eye.
The sun had set by the time the wedded couple left and the band had packed away their instruments. Wesley took a flute of champagne outside of the gauzy temporary structure that had been erected for the wedding reception. The stars in the cloudless sky were as bright on the planet as they were from the window of a starship. In the high altitude the temperature had dropped quickly after the light disappeared. Wesley was grateful for the quilted fabric of his dress uniform. When he had been a Traveler, he never gave a second thought to the weather.
Beverly Crusher found her son sitting on the grass, staring at the distant mountains which were now just a black silhouette against the night sky. She lowered herself beside him. The Dancing Doctor: he knew that she still practiced in her off-duty hours. It showed in the way she moved and how her joints did not protest the strain of sitting cross-legged on the bare ground.
His mother had a champagne flute of her own. She set it down gently on the turf, spilling only a little. She took her son's free hand in both of hers. Her blue-eyed gaze was an open wound, his fault and he knew it.
"It was a beautiful wedding," she said.
"Yes, it was," he agreed. "I almost didn't make it," he confided in her.
"I'm glad you did," she said with a smile. "I would have missed you…more than I usually do."
"Commander Riker…Captain Riker-" Wesley corrected himself "-is about to become my commanding officer. I would have had a tough time explaining it to him."
"He would have understood."
No, he wouldn't have, Wesley thought.
To Wesley they would always be Commander Riker and Counselor Troi, never Will and Deanna. Even at nearly thirty years old Wesley still felt like a gawky sixteen-year-old around them. He was still reeling from the warm and generous way they had welcomed him back as if he'd never left. Even after ten years…
"You talked to the Captain, didn't you?" Wesley asked quietly. They both knew he wasn't talking about Riker.
Beverly Crusher nodded. "I just told him to give you some time. Was I wrong?"
"No, you weren't."
Beverly Crusher knew better than to rush the healing process. She picked up her glass and stood, brushing imaginary grass stains from her uniform. She was trying to give him space, he knew, but she was also stalling. She was giving him a chance to call her back.
He took it. As he heard her footsteps begin to retreat, he called out to her, "Mom," and heard her stop. "What I did to you wasn't fair."
Beverly regarded her son with quiet patience. She waited a long moment before he spoke again.
"I didn't mean to keep you in the dark. I had some things to sort out. I know that you could have helped me but I needed to do it myself."
Beverly Crusher crossed her arms to protect her from the chilly night air. "You don't have to tell me if you're not ready."
Wesley stared into his glass as if it held the words he needed to say. He had steered clear of the Romulan ale at the reception, but he had put away enough French champagne to loosen his tongue.
Wesley patted the grass beside him, "You may want to sit down. This could take a while."
Beverly Crusher sat beside her son in the cold mountain air while he explained how his life as a Traveler had fallen apart, and the things he'd gone through to put himself back together:
In the end, he was too human. The first member of his species to become a Traveler, Wesley had found himself to be a disruption to the Travelers' harmonious existence. Like a pebble thrown into a still pond, it did not take long for the ripples of disquiet he created to reach every Traveler in the universe.
As a human Wesley was emotionally connected to the suffering and the joys of all life in the universe. As a Traveler he would be forever isolated from changing the course of events, at least in the ways he wanted to. His mentor advised him again and again that longing to do so would not only destroy him, but the other Travelers as well, and all that they had built.
As the years passed and it became increasingly obvious that the human Traveler was an anomaly in their well-ordered existence, Wesley found himself more and more isolated. One by one the Travelers withdrew their support until eventually, as a herd will drive away one of their own species to preserve a natural balance, he too was driven out of the fold.
This was how Wesley Crusher explained his departure from the Traveler's company to his mother. The reality of his culling, however, had been much more devastating than he was willing or able to explain. Each Traveler was like an atom, joined together to form an amazingly complex molecule. Each individual Traveler was the sum of all the others, and all of their wisdom, experiences, strengths and talents were shared amongst the group. As each Traveler withdrew from Wesley they took those things away from him, leaving him maimed, incomplete.
Wesley had once known a fellow cadet who had contracted phal torra, a terrible disease that ate away at the brain, killing one sense at a time. The condition had left the cadet alive for weeks blind, deaf and mute, with no sense of touch or smell. Wesley had felt as if the same thing were happening to him, except he knew that he would not die from it.
The Traveler from Tau Ceti, the man who had been his mentor from the day he left the Enterprise for Dorvan 5, was the last to withdraw from his human protégé. Wesley had shared his thoughts and knew that their Travels together were nearing an end. Wesley accepted this as a man accepts the loss of a limb to an infection, except that he knew he was the limb, not the body that must be saved.
Wesley could have chosen any place or time to end his Travels. He could have gone a hundred or a thousand years into the past or future. He could have lived out his life as part of a species that hadn't existed for millennia, or in a civilization that had not yet been born. Instead he chose to return to the species that had destroyed his future as a Traveler before his journey had even begun. He returned to Earth, to his flawed and primitive fellow humans. He returned to the only other life that he had ever known:
He returned to Starfleet. He returned home.
Wesley did not know whether he made the choice to re-enter the Academy out of fear of the unknown or out of the longing for the familiar. Familiar and comfortable it certainly wasn't. When Wesley Crusher finally graduated from Starfleet Academy he was twenty-seven years old, half a decade older than the majority of his classmates. It had not been easy to convince the Academy to take him back. Officially he was a dropout. His once-exemplary record had been tarnished by the Nova Squadron accident and by failing grades during his fourth year. Despite all of that there were several professors who remembered the brilliant young man who had come to them from the Enterprise D. Through their recommendations Wesley was grudgingly, and under very strict provisions, allowed to finish up his remaining credits.
Wesley's longing for the familiar did not extend to his friends and family. He did not tell his mother that he had returned. As he struggled to be re-admitted to the Academy he did not seek out his old shipmates on the Enterprise or his old Academy friends for support. This was something he had to do alone. Wesley only wished he was being dramatic when he told his mother it was the darkest and most difficult time of his life. As he immersed himself in his final semester, he was fighting two battles: to complete his studies, and to survive in normal, unaltered space and time.
As a Traveler time had been a wonderfully malleable thing, a flow of water that could be reversed, redirected or frozen entirely. Now every second crawled by, interminably slow, grinding him to dust as Wesley tried to re-establish himself in a culture that he had nearly forgotten. Surrounded by members of his own species for the first time in six years, he had been completely alone.
Once he had cleared his first hurdle and been re-instated as a Starfleet officer, Wesley's Academy record and his re-admittance psych test results conspired against him to keep him off of a starship for nearly two years. He was still an undeniably brilliant engineer, however. That fact alone saved him from shuffling papers at a desk at Starfleet Headquarters. Wesley was instead sent to the shipyards on Utopia Planetia to lead a sub-warp technology development team. There he languished, immersing himself in impulse theory around a drafting table by day and re-learning the intricacies of human interaction around a poker table by night.
Time passed. Wesley began to heal, but still could not make himself face his mother and his friends. He knew that Starfleet was not as vast an organization as it seemed, and even at his unremarkable post, he would encounter a familiar face sooner or later. Day after day he promised himself that he would make the first call.
Wesley never got that chance. When he returned to his quarters one evening he found two letters on his desk: one from his mother and one from Commander LaForge. It took him two hours and as many glasses of synthehol to work up enough courage to look at them.
Wesley read Geordi's letter first. It was a request for the latest information on his team's progress with a few personal asides. Wesley correctly interpreted it as a tentative step towards re-establishing their friendship. Geordi had closed his letter with an invitation to discuss warp engine theory on a subspace channel, should Wesley be able to find the time.
Beverly Crusher's letter was more personal and also more informative. Through her letter Wesley discovered Commander Riker and Deanna Troi's engagement. He also found out how his return to Starfleet had been discovered by the Enterprise crew. Unsurprisingly, Data was at the bottom of it:
One of Data's many duties included seeking out qualified candidates to fill open positions aboard the Enterprise. When he could not fill posts with officers who were already onboard or who were requesting a transfer to the ship, Data would resort to the lists of recent Starfleet Academy graduates.
Data had discovered Wesley's name amongst the list of Academy graduates. He had also noted that Wesley had already received his assignment. Data registered the news, dismissed Wesley as a potential candidate, and assumed that Beverly Crusher knew of her son's activities. Data had then stored that piece of information in his memory banks until, during a senior staff meeting eighteen months later, Geordi had mentioned needing input from a sub-warp design team to complete a refit of the impulse engines.At that point Data had casually chimed in, advising Geordi to contact Wesley Crusher's team at Utopia Planetia. They had been responsible for several recent breakthroughs in impulse technology and would undoubtedly have invaluable information to share.
All conversation around the table had immediately ceased.
In her letter Beverly Crusher quoted Data with barely disguised amusement: "From the doctor's expression and the abrupt silence I deduce that none of you were aware of Mister Crusher's current assignment."
Beverly Crusher had been forced to answer simply, "No."
To which Data had responded, "Is it not customary for humans to share their whereabouts and activities with immediate family members?"
Beverly had been obligated to answer, "Yes."
She spared him the rest of the conversation. As Wesley read the exchange he realized that this was as close to a scolding as his mother was going to give him.
Inside, Wesley had been cringing. Beverly Crusher was a high-ranking medical officer. As such she had nearly unrestricted access to all Starfleet personnel files. In addition to his assignment on Utopia Planetia she knew things about him that he was not comfortable having her know, including the unsatisfactory psych profile that had helped land him there in the first place.
In her letter, his mother was candid. She was hurt that he had not gone to her for support, but she understood that he must have a good reason for his decision. She wanted to see him. She loved him.
Wesley had poured himself another glass of synthehol and then taken a long walk. When he returned to his cramped quarters he replied immediately…to Geordi's letter. He was familiar with the Enterprise E's impulse engines only through schematics, but he was able to answer his old friend's questions and provide a few suggestions of his own. He didn't mail the letter right away, but waited a few days until he could compose himself enough to write to his mother as well.
In a brief message, Wesley held his mother at arms-length. He missed her. He missed the Captain and his friends on the Enterprise. He wasn't ready to talk about what had happened, and honestly didn't know when or if he ever would. He loved her too. He would talk to her soon. Please understand.
With a numb sort of trepidation he sent the letters off and waited for a response. He didn't have to wait long, and eventually each of his old shipmates made tentative overtures toward him. The Captain sent him a formal letter commending his work. Geordi wrote him back and, in enthusiastic detail, described how Wesley's input had helped him eliminate a recurring fluctuation problem in the E's impulse engines. His mother wrote him too, telling him what he had been waiting to hear: she understood, and she would be in touch.
Wesley began communicating with his old shipmates more regularly. His most frequent exchanges were with his mother and with Geordi and Data. Even Worf sent him a letter. It was as friendly as the Klingon could manage, consisting of two sentences: one expressing that he was pleased Wesley had chosen to return to Starfleet, the second advising him to try the Alluvian hot springs on Mars. They were most…relaxing.
The most surprising and welcome exchange Wesley had was with Counselor Troi. The half-Betazoid paid him a personal visit on her way to a psychiatric conference on Earth. Wesley's dread of a chance encounter with one of his old shipmates melted away instantly when he saw her.
Once they had exchanged pleasantries and retired to a quiet corner of the junior officers' mess, Deanna Troi broke the news that Commander Riker had finally accepted a promotion to Captain. He would be taking command of the Titan in a few months. Counselor Troi would be going with him.
Wesley greeted the news with mixed feelings: disappointment that the crew of the Enterprise would finally be split up and elation that Riker had finally accepted the long-overdue promotion. Once Wesley had digested that first piece of information, Counselor Troi told him that she and Commander Riker had set a date for their wedding. They wanted Wesley to attend. Reading his obvious reluctance she told him she didn't need an answer right away. But unlike the wedding invitation, she did need a response to her next question:
Was Wesley Crusher ready to serve on a starship again?
"And the answer was 'yes'," Beverly Crusher guessed.
"Well, she didn't exactly have to drag me kicking and screaming away from the shipyards," Wesley said with a wry little smile, "Even if it was for the night shift in engineering."
The contents of his champagne flute were gone. With the story told out he felt just like the crystal vessel, not hollow and empty, but light.
"The position on the Titan was already open. All Counselor Troi had to do was review my psych profile and check the 'sane' box."
His mother shifted uncomfortably as he told her that last part. Wesley took her hand and looked her in the eye.
"I am alright, you know," he assured her.
"I know," she said with a sad smile. He was pretty sure she'd had to examine his most recent psych review several times before convincing herself he truly was alright.
"I mean, there are good days and there are bad days," he confessed. "Lately there are more good days than bad. Someday I may even be able to look at a static warp bubble without having a panic attack –I'm just kidding!" Wesley amended, seeing the wide-eyed expression on his mother's face.
Beverly Crusher shared a nervous laugh with her son. They hadn't had a candid conversation like this in years. It made Wesley feel normal again, human. For the first time in a long time, the word "human" didn't hurt.
"Wesley, no matter what, you can always come home," she said sincerely.
He smiled at her. "I know, Mom. That's why I did."
They sat together and talked for a while of smaller things, about old acquaintances and the new Enterprise. Beverly mused that the wedding made her realize how old she really was. Wesley reminded her that he knew at least one man who didn't seem to think so. He was rewarded for that remark when his mother flushed like a teenage girl. Her eyes widened as she suddenly remembered something, "We were going to meet for a nightcap after the wedding. I'm sure he's returned to the ship without me."
"I bet he's waiting for you," Wesley said. He seemed oddly sure of himself.
Beverly didn't think so, but as he urged her to go she didn't share her misgivings. Wesley wanted to enjoy the view a little longer, so they said their goodbyes. Beverly embraced her son, hoping that they would share many more moments like this one.
Inside the tent, chairs were being stacked and tablecloths folded for transport. Although most of the guests had departed she found Captain Picard having an amicable conversation with Doctor Selar near the dais.
Beverly couldn't deny the spark of genuine delight in the Captain's eye when he saw her approaching. Doctor Selar conveniently noticed an old acquaintance on the far side of the tent and excused herself discreetly.
"Ah, Beverly, you haven't changed your mind about tea this evening, have you?"
"You mean 'this morning'," she told him with a tired little smile.
He offered her his arm. "Nonsense, the night is still young."
Beverly glanced at her chronometer. It showed the time to be just after 2200. She looked back toward the tent flap, where the faint light of dawn should have been creeping in, but saw only darkness. Strange, she and Wesley had talked for a very long time, hours…
A slight frown creased Jean-Luc Picard's brow, "Is everything alright?"
Beverly shook herself out of her daze. "Everything is just fine," she assured him. "Yes," she said with more conviction, "I think everything is going to be just fine."
"Oh?" the Captain asked, a bit puzzled by her secret smile.
"I'll tell you about it over tea…"
Together the Doctor and the Captain walked arm-in-arm into the still night air.
Thank you for reading. Feedback is welcome.