Tycho stumbled through the door to the bedroom, his lips locked on Wedge’s, hands pulling at Wedge’s uniform. They halted by the bed, arms tight around one another, Tycho’s mouth working its way down Wedge’s throat and onto the area of chest exposed by his half-open shirt.
“Mmm, yes, Tycho.” Wedge’s voice was husky with need.
Tycho straightened, grinned at Wedge for a moment, then pushed him backwards. Wedge fell across the wide bed and Tycho dropped on top of him, pinning him against the mattress. Wedge’s dark hair was still slightly damp from the post-flight shower, and his skin smelt deliciously of soap. Tycho yanked Wedge’s shirt all the way open and began kissing the tense muscles of his flat stomach. Wedge moaned, burying one hand in Tycho’s dark blond hair. The bulge in his trousers showed how much he needed release. Tycho wriggled off the bed, giving the bulge a squeeze in passing, and started stripping boots, socks and trousers from both of them.
Their lovemaking was so often like this after battle. Fast, urgent, sometimes rough. It was a very physical coming together, to reassure themselves that they were alive, intact. And after a fight like today’s, the need was even stronger.
Very quickly, Tycho had them both naked. He bent his head to Wedge’s stiff penis, savouring it as Wedge moaned.
“Ty, now. Please.”
Tycho would have liked to take longer, but he knew what Wedge needed at this moment. He spread himself full length over Wedge’s body for a few seconds, drinking in a deep kiss, then he picked up the lube from the bedside unit. Wedge spread his legs eagerly, drawing his knees up as Tycho reached down with slippery fingers. Tycho slid two fingers inside Wedge, drawing a louder moan of pleasure.
“Yes. Please, Tycho, fuck me !”
Wedge was open and ready, his eyes dark with desire. Tycho grabbed his hips and pushed himself deep inside.
Wedge’s body arched up against his as they lay face to face. Tycho grasped Wedge’s wrists and pinned his arms down as he started thrusting hard. Wedge’s mouth opened, begging attention, and Tycho filled it with his tongue. Hard and fast Tycho thrust into Wedge’s body as Wedge gasped, his hips moving in response. Their bodies synchronized, hips slamming together, lips and tongues meeting then breaking apart. Tycho bent his head against Wedge’s neck, his nostrils full of the scent of Wedge’s skin and sweat. He bit into the skin, tasting Wedge with his tongue. Wedge cried out and climaxed, his slender body spasming under Tycho’s weight. Moments later, Tycho was swept away in his own orgasm, thrusting, holding, biting.
They lay together afterwards, arms wrapped around one another to reassure and comfort. Tycho kissed Wedge tenderly and gazed at his face from a distance almost too close for him to focus properly. Wedge’s muscles were relaxed and heavy, but there was something distant lingering in his soft eyes that concerned his lover. Tycho rubbed one hand up and down Wedge’s spine.
“Did I hurt you ?” he asked.
Wedge shook his head. “No.”
There was a pause, then he let out a long sigh, and buried his face against Tycho’s shoulder, his hair brushing against Tycho’s skin. Tycho held him tightly, and wished there was more he could do. He and Wedge had been lovers for several years now, supporting one another through war and imprisonment and loss. In that time, Wedge had risen through the ranks from lieutenant to general, shouldering the burden of leading the New Republic’s most elite fighter squadron. Now, especially since Distna, Tycho sometimes felt that the burden was getting too heavy for Wedge.
“It was that fight today,” Wedge said, his voice muffled by Tycho’s shoulder. “When my shields failed, and the X-TIE had me lined up, I thought I was dead. I thought I was going to die there, all alone in my X-wing, with nothing but vacuum around me. I don’t want to die alone, and I will.”
Tycho thought for a moment.
“Command keeps trying to get you into a fleet position,” he said. “You wouldn’t be alone on the bridge of a Star Destroyer.”
Wedge raised his head and stared at Tycho with hungry eyes. “There’s no guarantee that Rogue Squadron would be assigned to me; we could be separated. Being here with you, like this, is the most important thing in my life.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Tycho whispered, both honoured and humbled that a man like Wedge Antilles should need him so badly.
Wedge sighed again, and rested his cheek against Tycho’s shoulder. “I should like to die here, like this. In your arms.”
“That wouldn’t be much fun for me,” Tycho replied.
“But I’d feel happy, and safe, and loved. I’m not immortal, I’m going to die some day, somehow; it’s natural. We both will. If I could choose, I’d choose to die with you holding me and keeping me safe as I went.”
Tycho thought about Wedge’s words. It was true, of course, that one day both of them would die, even if they did nothing more dangerous than stay in their quarters, eat and make love. And as professional soldiers, they both knew how suddenly death could come, with no chance to say goodbyes. As pilots, death might come swiftly in the strike of a laser that killed before you knew you’d been hit. Or it could be the result of vacuum exposure, hypothermia or oxygen deprivation. Tycho hated to think of Wedge ejecting from his X-wing and dying by inches as his body froze in the absolute chill of space.
He tightened his grip on the warm body that nestled against his.
“You won’t die out in space, Wedge. I won’t let you. I love you.”
“I love…” Wedge’s reply was cut off by Tycho’s kiss.
Lovemaking the next morning was gentle and intimate. They spooned together, Wedge filling Tycho and rocking him with slow thrusts as his hand caressed Tycho’s penis. Wedge closed his eyes and lost himself in dream and sensation. Tycho’s fine hair tickled his nose; his lean, strong body pressed against Wedge’s chest and belly; his hard penis filled Wedge’s hand and his arse was tight and good around Wedge’s cock. Their legs tangled together as breathing got faster and the leisurely pace gradually increased out of control. Then Tycho cried out, his penis jerking in Wedge’s hand and his muscles tightening exquisitely around his Wedge’s cock as he came. Wedge gasped as sensation swept him from head to toe, losing him, too, in the rapture of orgasm.
They lay joined for a minute, as they recovered, then Tycho eased himself from Wedge’s body and rolled over to face him. Today was a day off, with no urgency to get up. Wedge lay still and gazed at Tycho’s brilliant blue eyes.
“You’re beautiful,” he said softly.
Tycho slipped a hand behind Wedge’s neck and pulled him close for a kiss. “You’re wonderful.”
He let go, caressing Wedge’s hair, and smiled at him. Then the smile changed to a look of concern.
“Oh, Wedge. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” He gently touched a spot just above Wedge’s collar bone.
Wedge felt the slightest sting of a bruise, and the sweet touch of Tycho’s fingers on his skin. Although he twisted his head to look down, he couldn’t quite see what Tycho was referring to.
“What is it ?”
“I bit you last night. It’s left a mark.”
Wedge smiled reassuringly. “It doesn’t matter; it didn’t hurt,” he said, remembering the sensation of being pinioned under Tycho’s body and the blissful sting of the bite that had tipped him into orgasm. “It was good.”
Tycho relaxed again. “What do you want to do today ?”
“Lie here with you,” Wedge answered.
He wrapped his arms around Tycho and lay with his head on his lover’s chest, listening to the steady sound of Tycho’s heart beating.
“I could stay like this forever,” Wedge said softly.
Wedge could only lose himself in the security of Tycho’s arms for a little while, however. The next day he was back on duty, and the afternoon included a meeting with Admiral Ackbar. The Admiral’s office was humid, as always, mimicking the climate of his oceanic home world. Normally it never bothered Wedge, but today he found the atmosphere oppressive, dulling his mind.
After some talk about the political unrest that lingered after Grand Admiral Thrawn’s recent campaign, Ackbar rolled one large amber eye in Wedge’s direction.
“We need to send a task force out to patrol near Fondor. I had it in mind to put you in command.”
“What size of task force ?” Wedge asked.
“Two assault frigates, a carrier cruiser with four starfighter squadrons, and the Liberator as your flagship.”
The Liberator was a captured Impstar deuce, one of the largest ships in the galaxy. It carried a crew of just over 37,000 beings, with up to 10,000 troops. That ship alone would make nearly 50,000 lives his direct responsibility. Wedge did a rapid mental calculation, and realized that altogether, some 58,000 individuals would be under his command. 58,000 lives would depend on his ability to make the right decision at the right moment. He shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Admiral. I’m not ready for this.”
Ackbar turned his head and swivelled his other eye to stare at Wedge.
“You are an excellent commander, General Antilles. I am confident that your demonstrated ability with smaller vessels will transfer to command of capital ships.”
Wedge took a deep breath, drawing on his self-control to appear calm.
“I appreciate your faith in me, Admiral, and I’m honoured that you want me to lead this force. But please, not now. I’m not…ready,” he repeated.
Ackbar didn’t respond at once, continuing to stare at Wedge with his glassy eyes.
“I suppose you would rather remain in command of Rogue Squadron ?” he said eventually.
Wedge nodded. “Yes, sir.”
“I can afford to indulge you a little longer, General. I can tell the Council that you should stay with Rogue Squadron for the sake of continuity, as the new members, transferred in after your fight with Isard and her clone, finish their training. But really, there is no reason why Colonel Celchu should not take command.”
“I know that, sir,” Wedge answered. “Tycho will be an excellent commander for Rogue Squadron. I’m just… not quite ready to commit myself to a fleet position yet.”
“Noted,” Ackbar said. “Your reliability has been a great asset to the Rebellion, and the New Republic, General Antilles, and I shall continue to rely on your willingness to tackle new responsibilities.”
Wedge nodded, grateful that Ackbar still missed the finer nuances of human expressions and body language.
“I have another mission in mind for Rogue Squadron,” Ackbar said. “I’ll have the details forwarded to you.”
“Thank you, sir.” Wedge saluted, and took his leave.
The mission was to the remote Dubrillion system, close to where one of Thrawn’s generals had set himself up as a pirate-warlord. Rogue Squadron was installed in an old Rebellion-era base on an asteroid, with orders to harass General Edimon’s forces through hit-and-run attacks. The underground facility was somewhat basic: the corridors and larger spaces had walls of bare, grey rock that reflected sound back and forth, and the power system was prone to surges and sudden drop-offs. There were no viewports anywhere, just the solid walls of rock that seemed to cut them off from the rest of the galaxy.
Intelligence had planted agents in General Edimon’s command, and the Rogues acted on the information leaked to them. Even Wedge didn’t know who the agents were, or where they were based. The information they sent had to be taken on trust. In the first seven days after Rogue Squadron’s arrival at Dubrillion, they flew three missions, sustaining minor damage to two X-wings. By the third mission, it was clear that Edimon’s forces were fighting back harder and more effectively. They were expecting trouble now, and it wouldn’t be long before the general’s fleet would be actively searching for the Rogue’s base.
Wedge didn’t like the Dubrillion base. The bare rock walls depressed him, and the roar of engines reverberating in the hangar gave him headaches. He undertook his duties efficiently, and escaped to the quarters he shared with Tycho as often as possible. Their suite included a small living room with a kitchenette, and Wedge preferred to do his data work there, rather than in the bleak office allocated to him.
He was in their quarters, curled up on a shabby two-seat chair scavenged from the crew lounge of a freighter, when Tycho returned, with a rolled-up towel draped round his neck.
“You said you were going to join me in the gym,” Tycho reminded him.
Wedge felt his face warm with guilt. “I’m sorry.” He gestured with the datapad he was holding. “I guess I lost track of the time.”
Tycho smiled, and plucked the datapad from Wedge’s hand, hitting ‘save’ before setting it down on the kitchen counter.
“You need a break, General.”
Putting the towel beside the datapad, he sat down beside Wedge. Wedge turned to him as Tycho leaned close and kissed him. Tycho’s mouth was warm, soft and firm at the same time. His tongue pressed against Wedge’s lips, demanding entrance. Wedge opened his mouth to him, letting Tycho deepen the kiss. Tycho kept up the kiss till Wedge was almost dizzy, then moved his mouth lower, trailing kisses onto Wedge’s throat. Wedge let himself melt into Tycho’s hold, yielding to the sensations Tycho was creating.
Tycho had one hand on the back of Wedge’s neck, the other one on the small of his back, supporting him as Tycho’s kisses weakened him. Wedge felt wrapped in Tycho’s strength and love. Tycho lifted his head, his crystal blue eyes searching Wedge’s face.
“I surrender,” Wedge whispered.
Tycho stood, then bent and carefully lifted Wedge, cradling him against his chest. Wedge rested his head against Tycho’s shoulder and let himself be carried into the bedroom. Tycho laid him carefully on the bed, and took control. Wedge lay passively, his heart pounding with anticipation, as Tycho stripped both of them naked. He made no protest as Tycho produced the restraints and fitted them to Wedge’s wrists and ankles. When he was done, Wedge was spread-eagled on the bed, unable to resist whatever Tycho might wish to do to him. Wedge surrendered all control, all decisions, to Tycho, and with that came a tremendous sense of release.
Tycho climbed onto the bed and knelt astride Wedge’s torso. He kissed Wedge on the mouth again, then worked his way down Wedge’s throat and to his nipples. Wedge moaned as Tycho’s teeth nipped at the hard stubs. His body was already burning with need, and his penis was hot and rigid. Slowly, Tycho kissed his way down Wedge’s chest and belly, his sweet mouth coming tauntingly close to Wedge’s groin. Wedge lifted his head, watching, panting, as Tycho brought his mouth closer to the tip of his penis. Then the warm mouth closed over his penis and Wedge groaned with pleasure. Tycho caressed Wedge’s balls, and started to rhythmically suck him off. Wedge let his head drop back onto the pillow as he started to build towards climax.
The dizzying sensations stopped suddenly, and Wedge let out a moan of frustration. Tycho sat up and grinned at him.
“Not yet,” he said.
He opened the pot of lube and dipped his fingers in. Wedge watched impatiently as Tycho delicately licked his finger with the tip of his tongue. Slowly, Tycho lowered his hand between Wedge’s outstretched thighs. Wedge bit his lower lip as Tycho’s fingers slid inside him. Exquisite sensations shot through his body as Tycho expertly tickled his prostrate. Wedge writhed against the restraints as Tycho began working him towards climax again.
“Yes ! Oh, Ty. Mmmm… don’t stop. Don’t stop !”
The fingers pulled out and the tension of pre-orgasm slipped away for a second time. Wedge made a growling, frustrated sound, pulling at the restraints that held him helpless to Tycho’s whims.
“You’ll thank me later,” Tycho promised.
He stroked the inside of Wedge’s thighs, running his hands up to Wedge’s groin. His fingers lingered against the arsehole displayed for his pleasure.
“Fuck me,” Wedge begged. “Please, Tycho.”
Tycho slicked more lube onto his hard penis and pushed himself slowly inside Wedge’s body. Wedge’s erection dug into Tycho’s belly as the other man lay on top of him. Tycho kissed Wedge hard, and began thrusting. Wedge was swiftly lost in the intimacy of their union. He welcomed Tycho’s weight on him, the sensation of his lover on top of him and inside him. Skin to skin for the length of their torsos. The joy of giving ecstasy to Tycho with his body. He finally came in an orgasm that exploded through his body like a supernova.
When Tycho was done too, he hit the button that released the restraints. Wedge wrapped his arms and legs around Tycho and clung to him as they returned to the here and now.
“I’ve changed my mind,” Wedge whispered. “I want to die while you’re making love to me like that.”
Tycho blinked at him. “How could I make love to you if you were dying ?”
“It would be beautiful.” Wedge’s eyes shone. “How much better than dying of disease, or old age, or getting vaped ? Slipping from ecstasy into everlasting peace. Oh, Tycho, I want peace.”
Tycho kissed him. “We’re peaceful now, aren’t we ?”
“But for how long ?” Urgency flooded Wedge’s voice as he gazed at Tycho’s face. “Soon we’ll be back out fighting again, worrying about the rest of the squadron. I don’t have to think about any of that when I’m here with you, Tycho. I’m safe here; I want to be safe forever.”
Tycho frowned, thinking. “I don’t want to lose you. Wedge. Not to the Imperials, or disease, or…” His voice trailed off.
Wedge tightened his hold on Tycho, and kissed him avidly. “I love you,” he said, his mouth against Tycho’s. “I need you; I couldn’t function without you. I couldn’t bear it if you were killed.” Fear clawed his stomach at that thought.
Tycho sensed his panic, and stroked Wedge’s hair soothingly. “Then let’s not think about it. I’ll fetch something to eat, and then we’ll sleep. You’ll feel better when you’re refreshed.”
Wedge nodded acceptance, but he knew he’d feel the same in the morning.
The next few days were busy for the Rogues, with raids to plan and execute and ships to repair. Tycho welcomed the work as a distraction from his concerns about Wedge. The morning after that lovemaking session, he’d wondered whether Wedge was fit to continue his duties as commander of Rogue Squadron. But the Rogues were needed here, and if Wedge relinquished command, he’d have to return to Coruscant alone. Tycho knew how badly Wedge needed him, and hated the thought of being separated from him, especially when he was so vulnerable.
He was reassured by the calm, competent way Wedge went about his duties as Rogue Leader. His briefings were as clear as usual, his grasp of the datawork in the running of the squadron was good and his plans for the missions were as thorough as ever. When they went into combat, Wedge flew with his accustomed ability, issuing orders with a voice that betrayed nothing of his feelings. In the next three missions, they destroyed two of General Edimon’s starfighter bases, along with a squadron and a half of TIEs, and saved a pair of freighters from an ambush by the general’s ships. Myn and Inyri both garnered minor injuries in the fights, but both were back in action as soon as their X-wings were repaired. There was no doubt that the overall mission was going well.
Off-duty, things were different. Most of Tycho’s spare time was spent on the sofa in their quarters, holding Wedge. After the evening meal was done, Wedge would nestle up against Tycho and rest his head against his chest or shoulder. He said little, but simply sought refuge in his lover’s arms. Tycho filled some of the empty air, talking quietly, telling Wedge that they’d take a long vacation together when this job was done. Wedge sighed, a sound of emptiness that almost broke Tycho’s heart. He kissed the top of Wedge’s head and held him tighter, wondering how he could take the pain away.
“Tycho !” Wes’ voice reverberated around the rocky walls of the corridor.
Tycho turned and saw both Wes and Hobbie approaching. They were in the living quarters, and he’d been on his way back to his rooms. Tycho turned to face his two friends as they caught up to him.
“What is it ?”
Wes and Hobbie looked at one another; Tycho noticed that Wes’ face was uncommonly serious. Wes cleared his throat and spoke.
“Um…I know it’s none of our business, but is everything all right between you and Wedge ?”
Tycho tilted his head to one side, surprised by the question. “Why do you ask ?”
Wes glanced at Hobbie, who spoke.
“Wedge isn’t himself. You both seem stressed, but it’s Wedge…”
“He’s lost his sense of humour,” Wes interrupted. “I can’t remember the last time I saw him smile. If he’s not focussed on some work he seems…distant.”
Tycho thought frantically, unwilling to lie to his oldest friends, but unable to tell the truth. He should have realized that Hobbie and Wes would know when something was wrong.
“This is likely to be Wedge’s last mission with Rogue Squadron,” he said, finding a truth that fitted the situation. “Admiral Ackbar wants him to transfer to a fleet position, commanding a star destroyer.”
Hobbie looked doleful, while Wes’ eyes widened.
“But Wedge is Rogue Leader !” Wes protested. “He’s better at starfighter tactics than anyone else in the galaxy.”
“He’s a pilot,” Hobbie said simply.
Tycho shrugged. “That’s why Wedge isn’t happy. He’s a general now though, and Ackbar believes he’s got the potential to be a great capital ship commander too. You remember how well Wedge did commanding different ships and units to get Isard off Thyferra ? High Command want to see him doing more of that, especially after we lost other high-ranking officers during the Thrawn campaign.”
Wes made an exasperated sound, though Hobbie was nodding slowly, accepting the logic of Admiral Ackbar’s decision.
“Wedge will always be happiest in a starfighter,” Wes said resolutely.
Tycho thought of Wedge’s growing belief that he would die alone in his X-wing.
“I don’t know,” he said softly. “I don’t know.”
Isolated from the rest of the galaxy on their lonely base, living and working in close quarters, Tycho was drawn ever closer into Wedge’s illness. He sometimes woke in the night and would watch Wedge as he slept, thinking how peaceful he looked, eyes closed and body relaxed almost as if dead. When Wedge climbed out of his X-wing after a mission, Tycho saw a bleakness in his eyes, untempered by relief at surviving the mission. Only fierce, hard sex would break through the barrier, followed by sleep, wrapped in one another’s arms.
Tycho would remain awake after Wedge had gone to sleep, holding him safely. Lying there in the dark, the idea of ecstasy followed by the peace of eternal sleep no longer seemed so wrong. No responsibilities, no worry, no more fear. Wedge would be released from everything that burdened him. The last thing he would know would be love. Tears formed in Tycho’s eyes and trickled across his face to soak into Wedge’s hair.
New Republic Intelligence had identified a TIE fighter assembly plant on one of General Edimon’s planets. The date and time of a convoy of components intended for the factory was passed on to Rogue Squadron, and Wedge planned an ambush. When they came out of hyperspace, it was clear that the General had made sure his forces were ready for trouble. A squadron of TIE’s, and another of modified Z-95 Headhunters, swarmed around the blocky freighters of the convoy, with their carrier in the far distance.
“One, Two flights on the TIE’s. Three keep the Headhunters busy,” Wedge ordered, his voice calmly professional in Tycho’s helmet speakers.
Tycho followed Wedge as he hit his thrusters and accelerated towards the enemy. Their X-wings swooped and dived together, their battle-tested partnership enabling them to fly almost like two halves of one mind. In spite of the uneven odds, the numbers of TIE’s and Headhunters steadily fell. Wedge chased a TIE in front of Tycho’s guns, and Tycho nailed it with a single blast. As Wedge rose through the explosion, he torpedoed a surprised Imp who’d assumed the X-wings had been too busy to notice him. The battle zone gradually increased in area as the sets of fighters became engrossed in their own duels.
Wedge led Tycho to a knot of four TIEs, who apparently followed the belief of ‘safety in numbers’. Wedge’s first laser blast was a feint; it passed to port of the eyeballs, but the two nearest to his shot ducked away from it, and closer to their squad mates. Tycho’s paired missiles hit the group dead centre. Only one exploded, though the uneven flight of its singed neighbour suggested stabilizer damage. Wedge and Tycho looped away from one another, drawing the remaining eyeballs apart. With the group of four split up, the TIE pilots seemed less confident.
Reversing thrust and rolling back, Tycho made a pursuing TIE overshoot him. It jinked abruptly upwards as soon as it found itself in front, but Tycho was already bringing the nose of his fighter up. A single quad-linked blast illuminated the ball cockpit for a moment before it exploded. With that eyeball scratched, Tycho rolled to see what Wedge was doing. One TIE was diving at him from above, while the damaged TIE was trying to get at him from below. Wedge jinked hard starboard, almost getting the higher TIE to shoot the other. The damaged one tried to roll and whipped into an erratic spin, that almost made Tycho feel sorry for the pilot inside.
Wedge wrenched his X-wing around in a flat turn that pushed both ship and pilot to their physical limits. The diving TIE tried to pull up into a climb, in order to avoid passing in front of his cannons. The three ships were so close they showed almost as one signal on Tycho’s sensor board. The spinning TIE clipped the other, and both erupted in a brilliant explosion. The blast reached out to Wedge’s X-wing, snapping the slender fuselage.
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