Tycho smiled to himself as he strolled along the corridor. Wedge had made a brief appearance in the canteen at lunchtime, eating a quick meal before returning to his office, but otherwise Tycho hadn’t seen or heard anything of him all day. Long knowledge of his friend gave him a shrewd idea of what to expect in his commander’s office. He paused outside the door, his hand by the buzzer, then curiosity got the better of him. Hitting the release button instead, he quietly stepped through.
Sure enough, Wedge was at his desk, so engrossed in reading his terminal that he hadn’t noticed anyone entering. Tycho half-smiled to himself, wondering how long it would be before Wedge realized it was the end of the workday. He stood still, enjoying the opportunity to simply look at Wedge. Late afternoon sunlight spilled into the office through the wide viewports. It splashed across Wedge, bringing a rich glow to his thick, dark hair. Golden light lit his face, giving his eyes a rare, luminous quality. Although his eyes seemed brown in low light, Tycho knew that they were mottled with green. Mostly, the colouring was subtle enough to produce an unusual, rather mysterious effect of not-quite-brown. Only in this kind of bright light was the true colour revealed, and Tycho simply stood for a minute to enjoy the fascination of the mingled green and brown.
The mixed colours of Wedge’s eyes seemed to represent the duality of his personality. Tycho had known him long enough to see both the careful, calculating engineer and officer, and the odds-defying Corellian. For all his sense of honour and duty, Wedge wasn’t so far removed from the weapons-smuggler he’d once been, and still only chose to respect authority on his own terms. Tycho felt he was the best officer a soldier could want, but there was always a potential for rebellion in Wedge. That hint of uncertainty and danger attracted Tycho, who found it so much harder to break with convention. His own way of thinking tended to be precise and mathematical, but could become formulaic. Wedge combined mathematical ability, intuition and simple contrariness in a wholly instinctive way that Tycho could only marvel at and envy.
At length, Tycho stirred himself, walking quietly up to Wedge’s desk. Throwing a salute, he barked out.
“Colonel Celchu reporting, sir !”
Wedge started back in his seat, his hand instinctively reaching to where his blaster usually was. Almost as quickly, he recognized the intruder and stopped the move. He glowered across the desk at his friend.
“Are you trying to give me heart failure ! And since when was it considered acceptable to barge into a superior’s office without knocking ?”
Tycho shrugged casually. “I used the buzzer,” he fibbed.
Wedge looked uncertain. “I’m sure I’d have noticed the door buzzer.”
“Have you noticed what time of day it is ?”
Wedge blinked, and looked about, noticing the colour of the daylight and the position of the shadows in the room. He checked his chrono and made a wry face. “OK, you’ve made your point.” He leaned back in his chair, extended his legs under the desk and grimaced at the pull of stiff muscles. “I’ve been sitting still for too long.”
“Come down the gym,” Tycho suggested.
Wedge stretched out his arms, then shook his head. “It’d probably do me good, but I don’t feel like working out. I’d rather relax.”
Tycho had a sudden idea. “I know. How about a soak in a hot tub, then maybe a swim afterwards ? Relaxation and exercise.”
Wedge’s face lit up. “That is the best thing I’ve heard all day.” He thought for a moment. “Shall we go now or do you want to eat first ?”
“Go now while others are eating,” Tycho said. “It’ll be quieter.”
Wedge nodded. “Let me just finish up here.” He quickly scanned through the file he’d been reading and made a few notes in his datapad. “Military and intelligence analysis of several Inner Core-based warlords,” he explained. “One of them will be our next target.” Closing everything down, he stood and stretched again before joining Tycho. “Let’s go.”
As Tycho had predicted, the senior officers’ recreation facility was relatively quiet at that time of the day. Both men kept a range of kit in their lockers, so there was no need to go back to quarters first. In a little over twenty minutes from leaving Wedge’s office, they were making their way to one of the small hot tubs in the wet facility.
Tycho let Wedge go first, then took his own turn under the shower spray. The warm needles of water massaged his skin, cleaning and refreshing him. Blinking water from his lashes, he could make out Wedge’s trim shape as he lowered himself into the tub. Tycho cautiously padded over the warm, textured floor and to sit on the edge and dangle his feet in the gently bubbling water. Wedge scooted across to make room for him.
“Come on in, the water’s fine,” he quipped.
Smiling back, Tycho eased himself down onto the bench seat moulded around the side of the tub. The hot water embraced him and lifted him. He bobbed about as he tried to settle, his legs bumping against Wedge’s. Wedge laughed as he tried to move away, almost going completely under. His hair was darkened to black by the water, plastered to his head with stray strands almost reaching to his eyes. He looked boyish in a way that tugged at Tycho’s heart as much as it did his loins.
“Isn’t this better than sitting in your office ?” Tycho asked, settling himself with his head resting back on the edge of the pool.
“Yes, but I probably wouldn’t get as much work done.”
“Right now, do you really care ?”
Tycho let himself float in the luxury of the water as he gazed at the star-dotted ceiling. This hot tub was their favourite, and appeared to have designed with pilots in mind. It was in a small room, with a smoked-glassteel door to the pool. The walls and ceiling were a deep blue and glittering points of light shone around them in a variety of constellations. Voice commands allowed users to choose constellations as seen from half a thousand planets, either staying with one or cycling slowly through many. Shooting stars might flare through, or a comet make its way slowly across walls and ceiling. If requested, an aurora of colours could flicker over the walls.
“Sky, northern Alderaan,” Wedge requested clearly.
The stars surrounding them rearranged themselves into the constellations Tycho had known through his childhood.
“Thank you,” he said softly. Floating in the water was like floating in the cockpit of his X-wing with the inertial compensator almost full on. He could almost imagine he was in geo-stationary orbit around his lost home.
Neither of them said anything for a few minutes. Tycho wasn’t disturbed by Wedge’s quiet: he knew his friend would be relaxing too, imagining himself out among the stars he loved so much. Tycho lost himself in thoughts and daydreams.
Wedge was the first to stir. He pulled himself up slightly and dialled up the force of the water jets.
“I need waking up a bit before I go in the main pool,” he explained.
“Sure.” A powerful stream of water pummelled Tycho’s ribs, pushing him sideways.
He bumped against Wedge, who was also being buffeted around. They apologised breathlessly to one another, both seeking handholds to anchor themselves. The water was getting lively, with jets coming from unexpected directions.
“Sorry,” Wedge sputtered, laughing. “I wasn’t looking what I was doing. I must have hit random.” He flailed out with one arm and kicked as he tried to get a foot against the other side of the tub to steady himself.
Tycho half-rolled under the force of the water pushing him. “And maximum too.”
As he got one foot on the floor of the tub, a new jet caught him unexpectedly in the small of the back and pressed him forwards. He collided splashily with Wedge’s chest, and instinctively grabbed hold of him to try and brace himself against the motion of the water. Wedge’s legs tangled with his as they rolled together, their thighs rubbing together. Pure lust soared through Tycho’s body. He planted his lips on the nearest piece of bare skin, which happened to be Wedge’s shoulder. Wedge moaned breathily.
The sounds make Tycho’s pulse race. He twisted, clinging to Wedge with both arms now as they bobbed about, and captured Wedge’s mouth with his own. Wedge’s sweet, wet mouth opened for him and for a few blissful moments Tycho was oblivious to the water splashing his face and his legs getting knocked against the side of the tub as they rolled in the hot water. All that mattered was that Wedge was in his arms, bare flesh against bare flesh. Bodies rubbed together as they twisted in the water, touching in places that had never been touched before. Tongues met, tasting and exploring as Wedge yielded to his demands.
Another sudden jet briefly ducked Tycho’s head, causing him to break off the kiss. He had to free one arm to save himself, and as he resurfaced, Wedge abruptly pushed him away. Tycho washed up against the far side of the tub, sending a wave of water over the edge. As he blinked water from his eyes, he saw Wedge stabbing at the controls. The powerful jets immediately shut off, though the lively water sloshed about still.
Wedge turned to look at him, but stayed on the other side of the tub.
“We can’t, Tycho. We mustn’t.”
Tycho’s swimwear was bulging with his erection and through the clear spa water, he could see that Wedge was in the same state. He clung to the side of the tub, breathing heavily, his heart and loins aching for the man almost within touching distance.
“I want you, Wedge,” Tycho pleaded, his voice hoarse. “I need you.”
Wedge swiped wet hair away from his face with an abrupt gesture and shook his head.
Lust flared into frustration and anger in Tycho’s heart.
“You want me as well, Wedge,” he cried. “It’s just like it was in your kitchen. We get close and we want to get closer. You can’t lie about the way you were kissing me.”
Wedge looked like a trapped animal. “My kisses aren’t lies, Tycho.” He took a deep breath. “I want the same thing you do, but there are good reasons why we can’t be together right now.”
“That damn regulation is not a good reason,” Tycho snapped. “Break it. Just once. Force knows how much I want to be with you, openly and fully, but if I can’t have that I must have something.”
Wedge stared back at him, his mouth slightly open, his eyes stormy with emotion. Then a stubborn look came to his face and he shook his head. “We have to wait.”
“No !” Tycho stood, surging from the water. “It’s been years, Wedge. Years of waiting and longing and getting so close. These moments hurt too much, Wedge, and I can’t go on with it. It’s better if we stop pretending just to be friends. If we can’t be lovers, we’ll have to be fellow officers - professionals - nothing more. Every time I leave you to walk back to my quarters alone, it’s like I’m cutting a part of myself off. There’s nothing left to remove now.” Scrambling from the tub, Tycho hurried towards the changing rooms.
“Ty – Tycho, please ! There is a good reason for us to wait.” Water splashed as Wedge turned to follow Tycho’s movements.
Tycho let the door to the tub room close behind himself. He didn’t look back, didn’t dare to look at, or even think of Wedge, naked except for his swimwear. His wet feet slapped on the hard floor as he nearly ran to the changing room, wanting only to get dressed and away. He didn’t know if it was tub water or tears that blurred his vision and stung as he reached his locker. All Tycho knew was that his heart felt as though the Death Star had fired a laser through it.
Wedge mooched around his kitchen, opening cupboard doors and looking at food without enthusiasm. Closing the last one, he sighed and leaned against the counter. He knew he needed to eat; his days were busy and lack of food would only make him more weary and low. It was just that right now, even a gourmet meal seemed about as appetizing as a ration bar. The only trouble was, he didn’t have any ration bars available, or he’d have simply eaten those.
The door-buzzer sounded and Wedge’s heart leapt. The slackness left him in an instant as he sprinted across to hit the entry button. The door slid across and everything froze as Wedge found himself looking at Wes Janson’s cheery face. Disappointment washed over him but after a moment, Wedge pulled himself together and managed a weak smile.
“Wes…I wasn’t expecting…” As his brain started to function again, Wedge saw Hobbie, Gavin and Myn standing behind Wes.
“To see someone so awesome,” Wes finished his sentence for him. “I can’t smell anything burning, so I’ve guess you’ve not had dinner yet ?”
“No.” Wedge shook his head, then belatedly realized he’d been insulted.
Nearly a week had passed since the unhappy incident in the spa. The memories were clear in Wedge’s mind, distracting him as he worked and filling his evenings. Tycho had kept himself strictly professional, only seeing Wedge when necessary for work and never relaxing into the familiarity of an old friend. Wedge missed him, missed his presence, his voice, the sharing of jokes, his face. He simply missed having Tycho as a part of his life outside the office. However, he let Tycho keep his distance without argument.
Nawara was working on drafting the wording for Wedge’s protest. He was doing his job thoroughly, researching the correct forms and protocols, and it all took time. As much as Wedge wanted to get things moving, he knew it was unfair to expect Nawara to give up all his free time to something he was doing as a favour. Wedge kept reminding himself to be patient. We’ve waited years: I can wait a while longer to make sure everything is done correctly to give us the best chance of killing this regulation now.
“Good,” Wes went on. “We’ve not seen much of you lately, so we figured it was time we dragged you out of your hole to enjoy yourself for an evening. Our strategy is for a meal first, and then a bar or two.”
Wedge shook his head. “I’m sorry…” he started.
“You missed the part where we said we wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Wes interrupted.
“We mean it,” Hobbie added.
“There’s more of us than you,” Myn pointed out.
“They overpowered me; I need back up,” Gavin pleaded.
Wedge found the corner of his mouth quirking up in a smile. These were his friends, people who meant a lot to him, and it was good to know they cared.
“I’ve not been very good company lately,” Wedge said.
“Not for years,” Hobbie asserted.
“He’s good for playing sabacc with though,” Myn said.
“Only because he keeps losing credits to me,” Wes finished.
Wedge gave him a mock-indignant look. “I won two hundred credits off you last time we played.”
“That was a fluke,” Wes insisted. “And anyway, that hundred cred chip I gave you was a fake.”
“I know. That’s why you all got paid in cash that month; I was giving Wes his dud credchip back.”
The laughter, and the look on Wes’s face was a much needed lift to Wedge’s spirits. Before long, he had a coat on and was heading out into Coruscant with his friends.
After some debate, Wedge and Myn convinced the others to try a Corellian restaurant close to a busy precinct. It was a typically unfussy place, serving decent meals at sensible prices. It seemed fairly busy, but the server that greeted them looked at Wedge with a sudden gasp of recognition and quickly made a few alterations to the schedules in her datapad.
“This way, sirs,” she said, almost bumping into a chair by looking at the pilots, rather than where she was going. She blushed and hurried ahead, leading them to a table by a holoscreen displaying views of Corellian beaches.
“The privileges of fame,” Wes teased as they sat down.
“It’s the real reason you asked me, isn’t it ?” Wedge replied, flicking the switch for the holomenu. “Wes Janson can’t get a table in a busy restaurant just by showing up.”
Hobbie turned to Wes. “I’d told you he’d figured it out.”
“He still came though, didn’t he ?” Wes replied. “And this is a Corellian restaurant. I’d be recognized in a Taanabian restaurant.”
“Recognised and refused entry,” Myn said.
The conversation continued in a similar manner as food was chosen and ordered. Wedge began to relax, but he often found himself expecting Tycho to be joining in. Each realization that Tycho wasn’t present, and the repeated memory of the reason for his absence, stabbed his heart anew. Wedge didn’t allow himself to dwell on the unhappiness. There was nothing he could do about regulation 117/A this evening so he might as well do his best to enjoy himself.
As Wedge had said earlier, he knew he hadn’t been good company recently and his friends had picked up on his low mood. He guessed that they must have spotted Tycho’s cool behaviour too, and wondered if they’d dragged him out somewhere, or was he next on the list ? Wedge’s conscience stirred uneasily.
If my pilots can tell my morale is low, how is it going to affect their morale ? Especially with my second being equally morose. I’m not doing anything to support the new pilots by being like this. The old Rogues know me well enough to trust me regardless, even if they’re not happy. The new ones are going to worry that there’s something wrong with the squadron, or our missions, if they think I’m worried. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hard to join in with the conversation and laughter as they ate.
While Wedge was waiting for his dessert, he glimpsed a short figure approaching from his left. He looked around to see a young female Sullustan approaching. She sped over the last couple of meters and stopped beside him with a bounce, that set her dark-brown braids swinging. Wedge automatically smiled; there was something about Sullustans, with their jowls, big black eyes and large ears, along with their lack of height, that always reminded him of cuddly toys made for children. He’d known and worked with many Sullustans over the years, and respected them as much as any other species, but his first reaction on meeting one was usually a moment of childlike pleasure.
The young female chittered something in her own language, too fast to Wedge to follow, then she stopped and started again in accented Basic.
“Sorry. Sorry, sir, General Antilles, to disturb you.”
“That’s all right,” Wedge replied kindly.
She smiled, revealing small, pointed teeth. “I am delightful to meet you. To meet so great pilot who is true friend to all.” She glanced at the other pilots at the table. “All New Republic soldiers much honoured but especial to meet General Antilles, leader of famous Rogue Squadron.”
“I’m flattered you feel that way,” Wedge answered. He always felt slightly guilty about being singled out above any of his pilots, but didn’t want to appear churlish to anyone who took the trouble to thank or admire him for his work.
She nodded. “You risk so much to make galaxy better for all species, not just human like yourself. Sullustans very grateful, General. We not forget how you defeated Isard and free bacta for galaxy. You help stop Krytos virus.”
“It took a lot of effort by a lot of people to defeat Isard and stop the Krytos virus,” Wedge answered sincerely.
“You are leader of those people; you are inspiration of them,” the Sullustan insisted. She glanced over at the table where she’d been sitting with two other Sullustans, who were watching the exchange avidly. Turning back to Wedge, she again bounced excitedly. “I would be much grateful to take a holo of you, General.” She held up a small holocam.
“Of course.” Wedge surreptitiously ran his tongue around his teeth, hoping he didn’t have any bits of his dinner stuck to them.
“Would you like me to take a holo of you with Wedge ?” Gavin offered.
The Sullustan bounced even more and turned her large eyes on Wedge.
“Sure,” Wedge agreed. “This is Captain Gavin Darklighter,” he added, gesturing towards the tall, young man.
The Sullustan gave her holocam to Gavin and came to stand next to Wedge. He stayed in his chair, which left them about the same height, and put his arm around her waist. With squeaks of excitement at her own daring, she put her arm around his shoulders. Wedge smiled, Gavin snapped the holo and the Sullustan scurried back to her own table, clutching her holocam.
Gavin turned to Wes. “You can’t say she wanted Wedge’s holo just because he’s a Corellian.”
Wes shrugged. “Some people like to get holos of anyone vaguely famous that they encounter. Just having your face on the news is enough for them. I doubt if she wanted a holo of Wedge because she fancies him.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Myn said. “Did you see the way she was looking at him.” He grinned across the table at Wedge. “I’d say you were onto a promise there.”
Wedge hesitated a moment before speaking. “I’m not interested, Myn. She’s the wrong gender.”
Myn blinked at him, confused.
“I’m gay,” Wedge explained simply.
He watched as Myn processed the new information, then just shrugged and smiled. Beside him, Gavin was nodding as though Wedge had just confirmed something he’d suspected.
Wedge felt suddenly lighter, as though he’d set down a burden. Their desserts were put in front of them and Wedge began to pick at his as he tried to analyse his feelings. Why did it seem so strange, and yet such a relief to tell Gavin and Myn of his true inclinations ? He’d known them for three, nearly four years, and yet he’d kept this fundamental aspect of himself hidden from them. I wasn’t always like this; Wes and Hobbie have known I’m gay all the time they’ve known me. I’ve not tried to hide it, but I’ve stopped being open about it. Why didn’t I didn’t realize my sexuality was becoming an uncomfortable secret ?
The answer was regulation 117/A, of course. Forbidden to have the relationship he wanted, his sexual self had been sidelined. If Tycho hadn’t been there, he would probably have flirted, have had some casual sexual encounters. It was possible to get away with that if you weren’t blatant about it, and all his friends would have known of his preference sooner or later. But with Tycho around, Wedge just wasn’t interested in finding anyone for casual sex. With no prospect of a real relationship and no interest in a casual one, it had been easier simply to never talk about sex or love.
117/A doesn’t apply to most people, so they forget about it. I got fed up of explaining it, and every time I did, it reminded me of what I wasn’t allowed to do. As Tycho and I…as he became more important to me, 117/A became more frustrating. It became too personal and painful to talk about, so I avoided the subject. I just let others assume I was like them, if they thought about it at all.
Wedge shook his head as he absently scooped up a spoonful of dessert. It frightened and angered him to realize how far he’d slipped into the habit of concealing his sexuality. From concealment, it was a short step to feeling shame. Wedge was not ashamed of his homosexuality but he’d already changed from openness to passive concealment, so it could have happened over time. Perhaps other soldiers had already made that progression and were hiding their true nature – too ashamed or frightened to admit to being homosexual.
That thought made Wedge genuinely angry. He’d joined the Rebellion to free others from tyranny and prejudice, only to become a victim himself. Swallowing his mouthful of dessert, Wedge took a deep breath and reminded himself that he was out for a pleasant evening with his friends. They were friends who didn’t care about his sexuality and who did care about his happiness. Wedge was sure they’d all support him when he went public with his proposal to remove 117/A, but right now wasn’t the time to be thinking about it.
We’ll go to a bar and Wes and Hobbie can chase unsuspecting females. But all I’ll do it talk to Gavin and Myn. I won’t be chasing anyone, because I only want Tycho. It’s him completely, or no one at all, for me.
Tycho halted in front of Wedge’s desk and saluted sharply. Wedge returned the salute more casually and gestured to a chair.
“Sit down,” he said.
Tycho obeyed, wondering what Wedge had summoned him to his office for. Wedge’s casual body language suggested the meeting wasn’t formal, but if Wedge wanted to talk about personal matters, surely he would do so off-duty ? They had not seen one another off-duty since Tycho had fled from the hot tub. The pain at their separation was less acute than how he felt when he was with Wedge and unable to touch him, but was just as persistent.
Right now, Tycho could see that Wedge was stressed – he was hiding it well, but Tycho knew the little signs, like the tension around his eyes and mouth. He wanted to ask what the matter was, to help and comfort, but instead Tycho pushed his own feelings down and kept his face still. Wedge was silent a moment longer, absently chewing on his lower lip, a sure sign he was thinking about something difficult or uncomfortable.
“This is going to going to sound odd, but I have a reason for asking,” Wedge began. “Have Wes and Hobbie dragged you off for a night out recently ?”
Tycho blinked and shook his head. “No.”
“It’ll be your turn tonight or tomorrow,” Wedge predicted. “They came for me yesterday.”
“Why…?” Tycho’s question faltered as he realized he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to ask.
“Morale,” Wedge answered. “They wanted to cheer me up.” He sighed. “I wanted to speak to you about it, partly to give you a warning, but also because they are right. We’re both…unhappy…right now.” Wedge paused and swallowed, his eyes on the desk top. “Our lack of morale is being noticed in the squadron. Wes and Hobbie can probably make a good guess at why and the rest…” He shrugged, then looked straight at Tycho. “Last night I told Gavin and Myn that I’m gay.”
Tycho straightened in his chair, vaguely disturbed, but unsure why.
“It was relevant to the conversation,” Wedge explained. “But I didn’t have to say it. I wanted to though.” His face took on a stubborn expression.
“You have the right to choose what you tell people about yourself,” Tycho said, keeping his voice neutral.
Wedge nodded. “I do. And I’ve had enough of feeling that it’s safer not to talk about some things. Gavin and Myn weren’t the slightest bit bothered to learn I’m gay; I should have told them years ago, but…” He stopped, took a deep breath, and shook his head as though trying to clear it. “I’m sorry, Tych. I’m getting off my point.”
Tycho hated to see him like this, distracted and upset, but he willed himself to stay in his chair and keep the desk as a safe barrier between them. Would it be better if I cut myself off completely; if I transferred to another squadron so we could forget about one another. That thought was shot down immediately. I could never truly learn to not love Wedge. Running away would hurt him so badly, and me too. I don’t have the strength to leave him altogether. Tycho forced his attention back to what Wedge was saying.
“You’re a good officer, Tycho. You know that the way we act affects the rest of the squadron. We’ve both let ourselves get too wrapped up in our own worries to pay much attention to anyone else. That’s never good in a commanding officer and with three new pilots in the squad, we really should be making an effort to bond as a unit. The Rogues have taken a battering recently. We – I – should be making more of an effort to get us ready for this next campaign.”
“The results in the training sims are good,” Tycho said.
Wedge nodded. “They are, but Rogue Squadron should be doing better than just ‘good’. Teamwork will get better with time and practice, but there’s more to building a team than practice in the sims. Putting them against outsiders will help: an exercise against another squadron, in sims or preferably in X-wings with targeting lasers. All the better if we can make it seem like someone’s issued a challenge to Rogue Squadron – that we’ve got soft following all the promotions.”
“I like that,” Tycho said.
Wedge looked apologetic. “I’ll need you to find another squadron leader and set it up. Pash’s Aces have just started training in X-wings for the campaign, so they’ll be keen to have a go at us. I’ve got so much to do, helping co-ordinate elements of the first stage of the Inner Core campaign.” He sighed. “Getting different elements of the military and the Provisional Council to all agree on something is like trying to herd Kowakian monkey-lizards. Half of them are more interested in trying to push their own interests than in actually winning the campaign.”
“And the rest are so keen to win that they don’t care how much it costs to do it ?”
“Not half, but a few of them,” Wedge admitted. He sighed again and leaned back in his chair, closing his eyes for a few moments.
Tycho studied him, troubled by seeing Wedge look so weary. He felt guilty, knowing that his decision to cut himself off from Wedge was part of the problem burdening his friend. I have to keep it professional though. We’ve been repressing our feelings for so long it’s becoming impossible to continue. The frustration’s too much. Even here, in his office, if I just put my hand on his shoulder I’d end up bending him backwards over his desk, and kissing him, and…
Tycho swallowed and hastily shut off that train of thought. Wedge opened his eyes again and glanced at his chrono.
“I’ve got a meeting in ten minutes,” he said. Sitting upright, he looked across the desk at Tycho. “After the next sim session, you and I will invite all the other pilots to join us in the officers’ mess for some drinks. We need to socialize, get everyone to know one another better as people, not just pilots. Start a few games of sabacc. Find an excuse to organize a dance. Encourage Wes to play pranks on them, even. And you and I need to join in and show that we’re part of this unit.” He grimaced slightly. “I can’t order you to be happy, Tycho, no more than I can order it for myself. But for the sake of Rogue Squadron, we have to be less self-absorbed and at least look like we’re happy to be around others.”
You can’t order me to be happy, Wedge, but you could make me very happy if things were different. I wish you could, but then if wishes were banthas then beggars would ride. Again, Tycho forced his mind away from his feelings for Wedge. He’d been doing it so often these last few days that he should be good at it by now, but it wasn’t getting easier yet. He needed to get away from Wedge before his feelings betrayed him. Tycho forced a cold expression onto his face.
“I’ll do my best,” he promised. “Will that be all. sir ?”
Hurt disappointment showed in Wedge’s eyes for a moment. Tycho clenched his jaw, sternly repressing his emotions. Wedge, too, forced a mask of control onto his face.
“Yes, Colonel Celchu. Dismissed.”
Tycho returned Wedge’s sharp salute with one of his own, and rose. He left quickly, hardly breathing with the effort of maintaining his self-control. Once outside, he all but fled back to his own office, to bury his face in his arms and sob silently until the pain gripping his heart began to ease a little.
The officers’ gym was fairly quiet when Hobbie arrived. He wandered through to the resistance machines, waving at an acquaintance from High Peaks Squadron who was wobbling about on a balance board. As he approached the area he wanted, he could hear one of the machines was in use. The rhythmic hiss and clunk of the repetitions were coming much faster than was usual. Hobbie moved around, on his way to a leg press, and saw that it was Wedge who was working out so hard. He stopped and watched as Wedge, concentrating fiercely, pulled down the weighted bar over and over. His skin gleamed with sweat and his face was flushed with exertion as his chest heaved for breath. Hobbie glanced at the machine’s display and was startled to see Wedge had already done over one hundred reps, apparently all at double speed.
“Hey, Wedge ! Have you lost count ?” he called.
Wedge blinked, losing his flow as Hobbie’s voice broke his concentration. The bar slipped from his hands and the weights clunked down heavily in back of the machine. Wedge leaned back, his arms trembling slightly, and glared at Hobbie, still gasping for breath.
“Is this some new squadron policy, that we all have to train at double speed ?” Hobbie asked. “Because if it is, I’m transferring elsewhere.”
To his relief, Wedge quirked a half-smile as he shook his head, still too breathless to speak.
“Too much caf ?” Hobbie inquired.
To Hobbie’s relief, Wedge’s breathing was beginning to slow and the flush of exertion was fading. He’d seen Wedge in similar moods before and knew it was a response to stress. How much was caused by Wedge’s new duties as a general, and how much by whatever was happening between him and Tycho, Hobbie didn’t know. He and Wes had speculated on it, of course. Years ago, they’d thought their friends were having a covert affair, but as time had passed, had come to the conclusion that Wedge and Tycho were obeying the regulation about same-sex relationships. All the same, it had been clear to them that the two senior officers were unusually close friends. Lately, the deep friendship had been replaced by a chilly, fraught tension.
Hobbie had thought things were picking up. The squadron’s outing to the bar after the sim session had been a success. Wedge and Tycho had even played in the same game of sabacc. Admittedly they’d spoken to almost anyone except one another, but both had made the effort to seem cheerful.
“I don’t mind meetings,” Hobbie said mournfully. “At least no one’s ever shot at me in a meeting. Yet,” he added.
As he’d hoped, Wedge smiled. “If anyone starts shooting at tomorrow’s meeting, it’ll probably be me,” he said.
“You should relax instead of wearing yourself out,” Hobbie suggested. “Why don’t you go for a soak in a hot tub ?”
“No !” Wedge shook his head vehemently. He paused, collecting himself, and offered a smile. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. You’re right; I should go to my quarters and try to relax.”
“Get an early night,” Hobbie suggested as Wedge stood.
“I might,” Wedge said, picking up his towel and rubbing himself briskly. “Thanks, Hobbie.”
“Take care, Wedge. Goodnight.”
Hobbie watched as Wedge strode away, still apparently burning with excess energy. He shook his head. Someone, somewhere, would find themselves in Wedge’s targeting lock before long and the result was likely to be explosive. He just hoped he’d be outside the blast radius when it happened.
Wedge roamed aimlessly around his quarters, crunching on a snapple. He barely tasted the crisp fruit, his mind as restless as his body. It was only the middle of the evening, too early, really, even for an early night. Besides, there was no sense in going to bed while he was in this mood; he’d never sleep. He wanted to call Nawara but there was no point. They’d spoken the night before and Nawara had told him that he’d completed the first draft of the proposal. Wedge had read it through and it all looked fine to him, but Nawara had asked for a few more days to make final checks on his wording, and the application process. It had been hard for Wedge to agree to a further delay but his head understood the logic of making the case as airtight as possible, even though his heart longed to get things underway.
There was a sudden, sour taste in his mouth. To his surprise, Wedge found he’d eaten the flesh of the fruit and bitten into the core. He tossed it into the kitchen disposal unit and returned to the living area. Dropping onto the sofa, he switched on the holo unit and flicked through the channels, searching for something to distract himself with. He found another edition of the entertainment show he’d watched on Tycho’s last visit. Team members attached to lengths of stout elastic struggled to run the wrong way along moving slidewalks to dump buckets of coloured water into tubes, while members from opposing teams threw foam balls at them. Water splashed everywhere as competitors fell and rolled around, but it wasn’t funny. All Wedge could think of was sitting beside Tycho, laughing together, and kissing him in the kitchen. For a moment, Wedge could even smell Tycho’s skin and feel the softness of his neck against his lips.
With a moan of frustration, Wedge switched off the holo unit. He stared across his living room, his heart pounding heavily. After a few moments of stillness, he leapt to his feet and ran to the door. He didn’t stop for his jacket, and barely even paused to lock the door after himself. Uncaring of who might see him, Wedge ran to Tycho’s quarters. Breathless, he hammered on the buzzer and waited impatiently for the door to open.
Tycho’s look of surprise when he opened the door was swiftly controlled into cool repression.
“What is it, Wedge ? If it’s official, you could have commed me. If it’s not, then it can wait until morning.”
Wedge stared at Tycho’s face, trying to read the real thoughts behind the crystal blue eyes. He was as nervous as he’d been before his first combat, but somehow his voice was almost as steady as usual.
“It can’t wait until morning,” he said. “There’s something I need to say to you.”
Tycho’s jaw tightened. “If it’s not official…”
“Please !” Wedge glanced up and down the corridor. “Please, Tycho,” he repeated, more quietly. “Let me in.”
Tycho hesitated, his eyes still fixed on Wedge’s. He took half a step back and Wedge followed, not giving him the chance to change his mind. They moved another half dozen paces, the door sliding closed behind Wedge. Wedge swallowed.
“I should have said this before; years ago.”
“Wedge…” Tycho’s voice was soft, weak. His hands were by his sides, clenched into fists.
“Tycho.” Wedge took a deep breath. “Tycho, I love you. I’ve loved you for years.”
Tycho shook his head. “Don’t ! We can’t…”
Wedge stepped closer. Tycho backed away and came up abruptly against the back of the sofa. Wedge followed, stopping a few inches away.
“We can, Tycho. I love you and I won’t let anyone tell me that I can’t, not any more.”
Closing the last few inches, so his body pressed against Tycho’s, Wedge slipped one hand to the back of Tycho’s neck, and held his head steady as he moved in for a kiss. Tycho’s body was rigid as Wedge put his other arm around him, but his lips were soft. Wedge didn’t know what would happen, but he didn’t care. He just wanted to hold and kiss Tycho once more, even if it meant getting physically thrown out of Tycho’s quarters.
Tycho’s lips moved slowly under his own. They opened, and suddenly Tycho’s body relaxed as his mouth yielded to Wedge’s touch. Strong arms circled Wedge, clinging to him as they pressed against one another, lost in the mystery of their kiss. When the kiss finally broke, Wedge was light-headed and held on to Tycho for support. Tycho was relying on the back of the sofa to keep them both upright. Neither said anything at first, then Wedge gradually straightened, though still keeping Tycho in his embrace.
“Kriff, Wedge, I…” Tycho swallowed. His eyes were wide, almost frightened. “I love you, Wedge, but I don’t want a secret love, with moments together snatched here and there. I want to be with you all the time, always, openly.”
“That’s what I want.”
“But the regulations !” Tycho said urgently.
Wedge shook his head and pulled himself free from Tycho’s embrace. Stepping back a pace, he tried to forget his racing pulse and organize his thoughts.
“I.. maybe I should have told you this sooner,” he started. As he spoke, he watched Tycho’s face anxiously. “We both know that 117/A is blatant discrimination. I’m going to submit a formal proposal to have it abolished. Nawara’s been working on it with me, to make sure it’s all done properly and can’t be rejected on technical grounds.” His words came faster, more freely as he opened his heart to the man who inspired him. “There’ve been attempts to amend or abolish it before, but Ackbar’s managed to sweep them aside and drop them. He told me that now was not the time to consider it, but unless I force him, he’ll never consider it. I’m a general now, I have enough rank I can’t be easily dismissed. I’ll do whatever I have to, use whatever influence I have and beg favours off Leia and Luke if I have to. The New Republic have worked hard to sell me and Rogue Squadron as heroes to the public, and I’ll use that for our own ends. A Sullustan came up to me the other night, delighted to meet me and have a holo taken. She thanked me for what I’d done to free people from the Empire. If we can get the beings like her to support our freedom, to love who we want, if we can get public support, Ackbar won’t be able to pretend my proposal doesn’t exist. We will be together, openly, Tycho.”
The flow of words came to a halt. Tycho was looking at him, his eyes full of emotion. Breathing seemed oddly difficult as Wedge waited for him to speak.
“Wedge…I… Force, I want your proposal to succeed !” Tycho exclaimed. “ I’ll support you; I’ll do whatever you need me to. You know I love you, whether the regulation’s abolished or not, but is now the right time for us to…”
Wedge silenced the doubt with another kiss. Their arms wrapped around one another as their bodies melted against one another. Everything became a bliss of sensation: Tycho’s arms, holding him, Tycho’s mouth and the taste of his tongue, the intimacy of feeling Tycho’s chest move as he breathed, the warm feeling in his groin that strengthened as they clung together.
He was breathless when their lips finally parted. His whole body was throbbing with need and Wedge felt more vitally alive than he had in a long time. Tycho’s eyes were wide and darkened with desire.
“Does that answer your question ?” Wedge asked, his voice husky.
Tycho swallowed. “Your proposal isn’t even submitted yet. What we want to do is against regs until 117/A is formally signed out of existence. If we get together now, we could be court-martialed. Your career…”
“I didn’t join the Rebel Alliance for a career,” Wedge interrupted. “I joined to fight for what I believed in, which was everyone’s right to certain freedoms. Now I’m going to fight for one of those freedoms for myself. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved. I’ve lived longer and accomplished more than I ever thought I would in the military. I’d like to keep flying with Rogue Squadron and have you as my love, but if they force me to choose, I’ll choose you. I’ve had over a decade of a military career: I’ve never had you as my lover.” Wedge paused, thinking for a moment.
“That’s my preference,” he went on. They were on the brink of changing their lives altogether, and he had to be as honest as possible. “You’d have to make the same choice if we were formally warned over our relationship. You did enter the military as a career, Tycho.” Wedge struggled to continue, not wanting to say what he had to say. “I don’t want to put you into a position where you’d have to choose between love or a career. I’m sorry.” His voice choked up and he had to clear his throat. “Maybe I should have waited. This is too soon.”
“It’s not soon enough,” Tycho said vehemently. “No one should have to choose between love and a career. I’ve waited years to hold you like this, and to tell you I love you. There’s no going back now. The last few days have been the most miserable of my life. I couldn’t bear to be without you, and I couldn’t bear to be around you and not acknowledge you as my love, now we’ve said the words. I can quit the military, but I can’t quit you, Wedge.”
This time it was Tycho who pulled Wedge into the kiss.
With words spoken and choices made, there were no more doubts. They kissed and touched, sometimes gently exploring and sometimes rough and demanding. Wedge wanted to touch Tycho everywhere. He wanted to stroke his hair, kiss this throat, taste his mouth, slide his hands down his back, cup his buttocks, nibble his earlobes, press his hand against Tycho’s flat stomach, stroke the fine hair on his chest, flick his tongue over his nipples and just feel Tycho’s body against his own. He wanted to drink in the smell of Tycho, to linger over the soft gasps and moans he made and to know every part of him by touch alone. The completion of his joy and lust was that Tycho was discovering him in the same way. Wedge wanted to take and to be taken. He wanted to explore Tycho’s body and needs and yet he wanted to melt blissfully into the sensations Tycho was creating in him at the same time.
At some point, they ended up in Tycho’s bedroom, leaving a trail of discarded clothing from the living room. On the bed, naked together at last, the exploration became more intimate. Wedge touched Tycho’s rigid cock with gentle reverence, letting the tips of his fingers glide over the fine, silky skin. Tycho’s moan was a deep sound that Wedge seemed to hear with his balls. Dizzy with excitement, he grasped Tycho’s cock firmly and took it into his mouth.
Wedge lingered over his first, intimate experience of Tycho. At first, he simply savoured the taste of him and the feel of his cock in his mouth. Slowly, Wedge caressed the hard flesh with his tongue, seeking out all the textures and tastes that were most personal to Tycho. He lowered his head, taking in as much as he could, then slowly withdrew, reluctantly letting the head of Tycho’s penis slip from between his lips. Very delicately, he licked away the clear fluid oozing from the tip.
Tycho let out a wordless exclamation of pleasure as his penis twitched and his body grew taut. Wedge bent his head again, caressing Tycho’s balls with one hand while he used mouth and the other hand to establish a rhythm on his cock. Tycho was gasping, his legs spreading wider as he began to tremble.
“Wedge. Wedge !”
Wedge paused at the urgent cry and turned to look. Tycho’s eyes were wide, his face flushed.
“I can’t hold on much longer,” Tycho panted.
Wedge grinned wickedly. “So ? We have all night to play. We have the rest of our lives,” he added with satisfaction. Taking Tycho into his mouth again, he got to work.
It didn’t take long before Tycho cried out, his back arching as spunk squirted into Wedge’s mouth. Wedge lifted his head, watching with satisfaction as Tycho came, more spunk jetting out onto his chest and stomach. He licked his lips and swallowed as Tycho began to relax, his chest still heaving from the exertion. A gentle squeeze of Tycho’s balls provoked a shudder and a gasp. Wedge chuckled and lay down next to his lover.
He put his arm over Tycho and gazed contentedly at his face. Tycho blinked hazily and turned to look directly at him. He opened his mouth, but couldn’t find anything to say. Wedge just pulled him closer and kissed him. They kissed softly for a few moments, then separated to look at one another again. Tycho slipped his free arm around Wedge and they lay together.
“Why did we have to wait so long for this ?” Tycho asked.
Wedge felt a flare of anger at the reminder of the hated regulation. He firmly stamped it down.
“Let’s not talk about that regulation any more tonight,” he said. “Tonight is special. It’s about us. Let’s just enjoy ourselves.” He sighed. “I love you, Tycho, and I love just being with you like this. I need you to balance me, to remind me there’s more to life than war and death. You fill a hole in my life.”
Tycho grinned, his blue eyes sparkling. He slid his hand along Wedge’s side, moving it lower.
“There’s another hole in you I’d like to fill,” he whispered.
Pure lust spiked through Wedge’s blood. Tycho’s hand reached his balls and caressed them. Wedge moaned then opened his mouth for a kiss, welcoming Tycho’s tongue. Tycho pushed him onto his back, then kissed him slowly from his throat, from one nipple to the other, down his tense stomach and finally, to his hard cock. Wedge whimpered as Tycho teased him with light, flickering touches of his tongue. He writhed on the bed, clutching at the crumpled cover.
“Oh, Force. Yes, Tycho, please !”
His body was hot, filled with a delicious tightness. When Tycho took him into his wet, warm mouth, Wedge shuddered and instinctively thrust with his hips. The sensation of Tycho’s tongue circling the head of his penis sent Wedge almost delirious with pleasure. He gasped and shuddered as Tycho sucked him, the tension building unbearably. Wedge cried out helplessly, then the explosion finally came. He came so hard that stars were going nova in front of his eyes. His body bucked and shook uncontrollably. Only when the last shivers were fading from his limp, heavy body, did he become aware of Tycho settling by his side and embracing him. It was too much effort to even open his eyes at first: all he could do was to smile weakly as Tycho snuggled close.
When his strength began to return, Wedge opened his eyes and rolled to face Tycho.
“’Thank you’ doesn’t seen adequate,” he remarked.
Tycho smiled. “You’d do the same for me.”
“I already did. With pleasure.” Wedge wrapped himself around Tycho and they lay together, simply holding one another.
Am I so happy because I had to wait so long for this ? Wedge wondered. If we had got together when we first wanted, would our passion have burned out by now ? Or has the wait given us the time to know ourselves and each other, and what we really want in a lover ? Right now, I don’t really care. I’m going to enjoy every moment of this.
For all his physical and mental contentment, Wedge couldn’t entirely forget the potential problems. If he was forced to, he was quite willing to leave the military, so long as he was with Tycho, but it wouldn’t be entirely without regrets. His work was stressful, but challenging and useful; he believed that what he did was worthwhile. Wedge had been in the military for almost all his adult life and it was a familiar environment; most of his friends were in the military. Leaving would mean starting his life over again. He’d done so before, after the death of his parents, and he was certain that Booster and Mirax would help out again. Quitting the military would be messy and painful, but with Tycho beside him, it would be bearable.
“What are you thinking ?” Tycho asked quietly.
“That being in the military, but without you as my lover, would be unbearable,” Wedge answered.
Tycho smiled. “Flatterer.” He kissed Wedge softly on the lips, then worked his way around Wedge’s jawline till he was nibbling gently on Wedge’s earlobe.
Wedge lay back with his eyes closed and his mouth slightly open. Tycho slowly and delicately covered his face and throat with kisses, sometimes licking sensitive spots. Wedge felt indulged and loved as he never had before as Tycho stroked and kissed his whole body. He lay with his legs apart and his arms outstretched, offering himself freely to Tycho’s view. Worries were forgotten in the haze of love and touch.
I didn’t know how much I’ve missed being touched. Ah ! And being touched there, and there, and…
Wedge drifted on warm currents of pleasure as Tycho caressed his body with hands and mouth. He seemed to be aware of every square centimetre of his skin. This was beyond mere physical pleasure: it was like plunging into a pool after a prolonged drought. Mind and body surrendered to the moment.
The waves of pleasure gradually became stronger. Wedge’s pulse and breathing increased as the touches became more intimate. Now his body was throbbing, his cock becoming stiff. He moaned as Tycho’s hand slipped between his legs, wanting stronger stimulation. A light kiss on his balls made him shudder.
“Oh, yes,” he said breathily, spreading his legs further apart.
“You want me to fill that hole ?” Tycho asked, his fingertips making Wedge squirm deliciously.
“You really need to ask ?” Wedge exclaimed.
Tycho chuckled. “I’d better see if the lube’s still good.”
He turned and rummaged at the back of his bedside cabinet, withdrawing a small pot.
“I bought it a while ago,” he admitted, shrugging. “But it’s never been opened and this stuff doesn’t exactly go off in a hurry.” He removed the lid, popped the seal and peered at the contents. “Looks good. How do you think it feels ?” he asked, a wicked sparkle in his eyes.
“I can’t tell if it’s still in the pot,” Wedge said impatiently.
“Now, now,” Tycho tickled Wedge’s stomach with his free hand.
Wedge squeaked and thrashed about. Tycho’s grin got even wider.
“I never realized you were ticklish !”
“Tycho !” Wedge grabbed for Tycho’s wrist. “Do you want to tickle me or fuck me ?”
“Can’t I do both ?”
Wedge lunged up, intending to grab Tycho and wrestle him to the mattress. Tycho used his longer arms to advantage, planting his palm on Wedge’s chest and shoving him back down. As Wedge wriggled, Tycho’s hand slid between his thighs and he felt a slippery finger searching for his arsehole. Wedge’s resistance instantly melted; his legs parted without need for conscious thought as lust took over. He whimpered with excitement as Tycho gently opened and stretched him. Tycho was careful, but Wedge was so roused and ready that he was very soon rubbing Wedge’s prostate. Deep thrills shot through Wedge’s body; he very nearly bit his tongue.
“Kriff, please, Tycho. Fuck me,” Wedge pleaded. “Fuck me, make me come.”
“Roll over then,” Tycho said, sliding his fingers out. “It’ll be a better angle for you.”
Wedge looked at Tycho for a moment, then shook his head. “I want to look at you and hold you. I’ll do fine.”
“OK.” Tycho changed position, arranging himself above Wedge, who brought his knees up.
Wedge reached up, hands either side of Tycho’s slim waist as he gazed into his lover’s face. His stiff cock was pressing against Tycho’s warm stomach. His heart was pounding and he felt oddly nervous as he took a deep breath. The head of Tycho’s cock pressed against his hole and Wedge slowly let his breath out as Tycho entered him.
“Are you all right ?” Tycho asked anxiously as he paused.
Wedge nodded. “Keep going.”
Again, the outflow of breath as Tycho filled him. Wedge’s mouth hung open, his body filled in a distantly familiar way. After the first few moments, the discomfort eased and Wedge relaxed. Tycho bent his head and kissed him softly. Wedge accepted his mouth, the kissing becoming more passionate. As Tycho lowered himself, Wedge’s penis was deliciously caught between their bodies. He wrapped his arms around Tycho, relishing the feel of his muscles and weight. Slowly, Tycho began thrusting.
The intimacy was almost too much for Wedge. Tycho was on top of him and inside him. Wedge could look into his face, so close, and see his expression change as he approached orgasm. Their bodies moved faster, harder. Tycho’s back was slippery with sweat under Wedge’s hands. Sweat lubricated Wedge’s penis as he thrust against the warm flesh of Tycho’s stomach. His head pressed back against the pillow, mouth open as he gasped for breath. He was going to come; going to come with Tycho, at last, their bodies joined together. It was too much.
Wedge came with a cry that seemed to start somewhere deep in his stomach. The orgasm radiated out from his balls through his body, from his toes to the crown of his head. He was aware of Tycho still thrusting, faster and deeper now, his breath warm on Wedge’s cheek. Wedge simply clung to him, shuddering uncontrollably and making inarticulate sounds. Tycho grunted, pounding into Wedge’s shivering body, then he came too.
At first, Wedge was incapable of coherent words or thoughts. He simply lay, welcoming Tycho’s warm weight on top of him. In his languid, breathless state, all he was really aware of was the intimacy of their embrace. This was the reality he’d dreamed of, his fantasies made real. He’d experienced the full physicality of Tycho: his skin, his weight, his scent, his mouth, his cock, his taste. And his love. Wedge’s vision blurred as tears stung his eyes.
“Are you all right ?” Tycho asked anxiously. “Did I hurt you ?”
Wedge shook his head and blinked. “Not at all. It’s just… I’ve never been that good with words…but, sharing this with you. Together, like this. It’s so…” He blinked again and felt a tear sliding across his cheek.
Tycho kissed the tear away. “I love you too,” he said simply.
He carefully withdrew himself from Wedge’s body and settled down beside him. Wedge rolled towards him and put his arm across Tycho’s chest. He just needed to hold him, to keep that closeness. As they rested, they spoke little with words, but plenty with their eyes and with touch. As the minutes passed, Wedge felt his energy returning. Bubbles of happiness kept welling up inside him.
I’m in bed with Tycho ! We just made love and it was great ! Kriff, this is just what I longed for. My dream has come true. I can touch him, smell him, kiss him – and fuck him !
He chuckled, a huge grin spreading itself across his face. Tycho laughed too, joy lighting his eyes.
“What time is it ?” Wedge asked.
Tycho twisted to look at the chrono beside the bed. “Not that late, only…oof !”
He was interrupted as Wedge launched himself on top of him.
“No need to go to sleep yet,” Wedge said. “Loser gets to make the bed after we’ve done messing it up.”
Giggling like teenagers, they wrestled, kissed and groped until Tycho cheated and tickled Wedge into breathless, wriggling submission. As Tycho whooped in triumph, Wedge rolled him over, pinned him down, and set about ravishing him to their mutual satisfaction. It was very late by the time Wedge straightened the bed and they collapsed in it, to sleep curled together like whisperkits.