I Am A Rock

This is why I can’t let myself get too close.

Wedge sat alone in the quarters assigned to him on Isard’s base. The small suite of rooms was well-appointed, suitable for a general in war-time conditions, but impersonal. Like all X-wing pilots, Wedge routinely carried a basic kit in the cargo compartment of his fighter, but the change of clothes, data pad, cards and toiletries were thinly scattered in the starkly decorated rooms. Not that Wedge much cared.

He was sitting on the floor in front of the two-seater sofa of brilliant, white nerf-hide. After their arrival earlier in the day, Wedge had inspected all the quarters allocated to his pilots, reassuring himself that all seven had suitable accommodation.

Seven, when there should have been eleven. Lyyr, Slee, Asyr. Wes.

Meeting Isard had been a shock, maybe more so than he’d realized at the time. For some two years he’d believed her dead. Zsinj and Thrawn had risen and fallen in the meanwhile, diverting his attention elsewhere. The thought of working with her, being effectively her prisoner, sickened Wedge to the back teeth. He knew though, that it had to be worse for the two men who had actually been her prisoner on Lusankya. He could barely begin to understand how Tycho and Corran must be feeling. So far neither of them had encountered the white-haired woman, but it was surely a matter of time.

Tycho had been shocked by the news at first,, an emotion visible only to those who knew him as well as Wedge did. Later, he’d had a look of strained determination. While Corran was more open about his feelings, Wedge knew that Tycho’s emotions ran just as deep. Both men, but Tycho especially, needed the support of a strong leader right now, as well as a their friends.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

Wedge had to be a rock for them, for all of them. He had to be the officer with ice water in his veins.

Wedge swallowed hard, closing his eyes. The pain was there, a hard lump in his chest he couldn’t ignore, even though he’d pretended to do so since those blips had vanished from his sensor screen at Distna. Two beings he hadn’t known very well, one he liked and admired, and one he’d known longer than anyone else in the Rebellion: a man he’d considered his brother.

I’ve built walls,

A fortress deep and mighty,

That none may penetrate.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

That hard lump was why he’d tried not to get close to the new recruits. He cared for all his pilots, of course, doing his best to keep them alive for as long as possible. Ten years as a starfighter pilot had taught him the impossibility of keeping them all alive in every battle. But the deaths never stopped hurting.

If I stopped caring about individuals, I’d be no better than Isard.

Wedge deliberately conjured up an image of Lyyr Zatok, the female Quarren. He forced himself to remember the admiring, slightly awe-struck way she’d looked at Nrin the first time they’d been introduced. That look at been one of the things that had broken through the distance he’d tried to keep, just as he’d tried to keep himself from getting too friendly with Khe-Jeen Slee. Wedge had never flown with an Issori before, and getting to understand the non-human’s thoughts and reflexes has been fascinating. Both young pilots had become personalities: people who might have gone on to be friends like Hobbie and Nrin.

A long sigh escaped him. Wedge knew why he was thinking so deeply about Slee and Lyyr. It was to avoid thinking about Asyr and Wes. Wes most of all.

I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.

Its laughter and its loving I disdain.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

Gavin would be mourning too. His love for Asyr was worn openly and unashamed. Wedge was sure he would go on functioning, but a piece of him would always be missing. It was a grief Wedge knew himself only too well. The support of Booster and Mirax had got him through the dark times after his parents’ deaths, and he knew Gavin would get similar support from his family and the squadron.

If I never loved, I never would have cried.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

But Asyr’s death hadn’t been necessary. Wedge shoved his fingers through his dark hair, ruffling it carelessly. The lump of pain grew harder, filling his chest as anger built inside him. If he hadn’t fallen for the trap, if he hadn’t believed in the Pulsar Station, Rogue Squadron would never been at Distna to get ambushed. He had been pushing to find out what had happened to the Lusankya prisoners, keen to find out who had made the oblique threat against Rogue Squadron and, he admitted to himself, happy to have the chance to work with Iella.

And it had got him four dead friends, and a suite of rooms on Isard’s base. Wedge’s jaw tightened at the thought of owing his life, and that of his squadron, to Ysanne Isard. He trusted her less far than he could throw a Wookiee, but their lives were subject to her whims. They were on the same base, and tomorrow he would have to face her again.

Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.

I touch no one and no one touches me.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

Tears stung at his eyes as a sense of failure temporarily overwhelmed him. He’d failed his pilots by leading them into a trap, just as he’d failed Biggs, Porkins and the others at Yarvin. Those deaths had brought back all the feelings of failure from not being able to help his parents.

A choking sob escaped from him but further sounds were forced back. Wedge rubbed his eyes then brought his knees up and folded his arms around them, pulling himself into a tight ball.

I touch no one and no one touches me.

I am a rock,

I am an island.

I am a rock

He mouthed the words silently to himself, repeating them, rocking gently back and forth. Minutes passed as Wedge did little more than breathe steadily. Slowly, he quieted his mind and his troubled soul. The taut muscles began to relax as he forced calm upon himself. Thoughts of tomorrow, of duty and grief, were suppressed. Eventually Wedge released his hold around his knees, and stretched his legs. He stood slowly, feeling the tingle of blood flowing freely around his body again. Moving easily, Wedge headed for the bedroom. Only the shadows in his eyes betrayed any discomfort.

And a rock feels no pain;

And an island never cries.

He slept dreamlessly.

Lyrics to 'I am a Rock' by Paul Simon.

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