It’s over. The Death Star is gone. That doesn’t make Alderaan reappear, that doesn’t make up for their losses at Scarif, but it does mean that another planet will never be destroyed like that again. It’s over, and Wedge lived through it, one of two pilots from his squadron to survive. It’s over, and at the end of the night, when the celebration has died down, it’s just Luke and him alone in the Red Squadron barracks.
No one else came back. Wedge knew that. He thought he understood what that meant. But now, with all the empty beds, alone except for the new kid — the hero of Yavin, the Jedi — he feels lost. Luke looks just as bad.
Wedge wishes Biggs was here — Biggs would know what to say, he’d know how to make Luke smile. Wedge barely knows Luke at all, he’s just someone in Biggs’s stories, always an improbable figure, who improbably showed up here, who improbably might be the best thing to happen to the Rebellion in years. He’s a miracle.
Wedge just misses his friends.
It will get better — or no, not really, but it will stop hurting so urgently. He’s lived through enough battles where other people have died, he knows that the hurt fades with time. He’ll make new friends, and get new missions, and he’ll be able to think about other things too. But the list of people he’s lost, who are never coming back, just gets longer and longer.
This was Luke’s first battle. Wedge should say something to him. But fuck, when did he become the wise veteran? He isn’t old enough for that shit. It doesn’t make sense — it’s been so long that he doesn’t remember what the first time felt like, but he still doesn’t know what to do when the fighting is over and they don’t have new orders.
He sits on the bunk next to Luke, and puts his hand on Luke’s shoulder. Luke’s shaking — just a little bit. Long day, long week, adrenaline crash, it makes sense — or maybe he’s just shaking. Wedge doesn’t know what to say. He’s horrible at saying things. Give him a target to hit, something to shoot down, a route to calculate, he’ll probably figure it out. But say something? To this beautiful boy, the hero of Yavin, who’s sitting next to him and shaking? He’s got nothing.
He can just be here. Because he survived, and Luke survived, and that’s supposed to be a good thing. They’re supposed to feel good about themselves tonight, though Wedge doesn’t really understand the how or the why of that. The Death Star is gone. That’s a victory. If they get a lot more victories like this, then they’ll start to get somewhere, and maybe Wedge won’t feel so empty.
Luke’s hand is gripping the fabric of his shirt, holding on too tight around Wedge’s ribs, enough that it hurts, but Wedge might like that. It doesn’t feel fair that he is alive to sit here on a soft-ish bed, he could use more pain than just this. He lets Luke hold onto him, lets Luke pull him closer.
Closer, and closer, like he’s falling, like he’s crashing. This is the only thing that can happen, Luke drawing him in. Luke’s skin is so warm compared to the night air, which is humid but cool. This room is designed for the body heat of a dozen pilots in the hot jungle, but it’s just the two of them, shaking, sitting so close.
He bites his lip, because he doesn’t know what to say. If he opens his mouth the only thing that might come out is hysterical laughter. So he’ll just stay here with Luke, shaking in the silence.
They fall asleep eventually, collapsed into each other, pressed so close on a too-small bed, for the first time, but not the last. The mess is quiet that morning, too many hangovers, too many dead. Wedge watches as Luke takes his caf light with milk and sweet with sugar.
“So, what to do we now?” Luke asks, bright eyed, eager for the next challenge. Just looking at him makes Wedge tired, and exhilarated.
What they do now is head down to the hangar and see if there are any repairs they can help with. And after that, lunch, then a briefing, then dinner, sitting around talking in the mess until it gets late enough to head back to their barracks. Things have slowed for a moment, but there’s still a war to fight. Their squadron gets put back together with a new name. Hobbie gets out of the medbay. The base gets picked up to move. There are new defectors, and new recruits.
Yavin felt like a turning point as soon as it happened, but for everyone, not just the Rebellion, not just Wedge. In the days that follow, it gets used when comparing different planetary calendars. People talk about how many standard months it’s been since the battle of Yavin, then how many years.
It’s an odd thing, that they use the battle of Yavin, a victory, instead of the destruction of Alderaan, a much more significant loss. Maybe it’s people trying to be optimistic about the direction of the war, maybe that’s why Wedge doesn’t understand. Not that he doesn’t have hope, just that he doesn’t see how it’s ever going to end.
It’s terrifying, really, to know that this day was just as important to everyone else as it was to him. The Battle of Yavin marks when he met Luke, when he started to fall in love. That whole week was a tragedy, and a victory, and his life got a little bit brighter because it had Luke in it.
They’re still fighting, and he’s still losing friends, but this is probably the happiest he’s been since before his folks died. Young and in love, young and stupid, fighting a war isn’t the worst way to live, not when he believes in what they’re fighting for, not when he isn’t alone.
It’s all over. The Emperor is dead, Vader is dead, they’ve won. The Alliance will have turn into a real government, and that won’t be easy, but Wedge isn’t a politician. As far as he’s concerned, the hard part is done.
He lands on the moon to find there’s already a party going on. The Ewoks brew a syrupy sweet liquor that isn’t to his taste, but it’s strong, and they won, so he isn’t feeling picky. When Lando conjures up a bottle of good Corellian whiskey from somewhere on the Falcon, that’s even better.
“I was saving that for sometime special,” Han whines when he see them with it.
“Like you’re going to find a better day than this,” Lando shoots back. Wedge nods. It isn’t every day you win a war. The princess takes the bottle from Lando, and pours some into the lid of her canteen, and Han gets distracted by the line of her neck as she swallows.
They’re well into the bottle when Luke shows up, wandering out of the woods, maintaining his aura of mystery. Wedge knows that’s a load of bullshit.
He hugs Luke. He wonders how long it will be until he can convince Luke to slip away somewhere. Neither of them are much for parties, but this one’s special. You don’t bring down an Empire every day. Hopefully, they’ll never need to bring down an Empire again. Wedge doesn’t know what peace in the galaxy will feel like, but he’s ready to find out.
Tonight, it’s just the party. Wedge doesn’t like the music, doesn’t want to dance. He just wants to bask in what they’ve accomplished, before the cleanup starts in the morning. He likes seeing his friends so happy. It’s odd, but he likes it.
He knows that once the war is really over, there’ll be more to do than sit around and drink and smile, but he doesn’t know what else there will be. Happy things. Boring things. Peace and quiet. What an odd possible future. He isn’t sure he’s ready for that.
Not tonight. It isn’t hasn’t come to peace and quiet yet. Tonight is peace and loud laughter, shouting to be heard over the music, a firework display that he should probably stop before Wes blows himself up. He isn’t supposed to be worried about stuff like that right now. He isn’t supposed to be worried about anything. He doesn’t know the last time that was true. He’s starting to wonder whether he might not be very good at this whole sitting back and enjoying himself and not worrying thing.
Not tonight though. Tonight he sits on a log, watches the fire, watches his friends dance.
It’s getting towards dawn when Luke finds him, black clothes against a lighter sky, after the short Endorian night. Luke sits down next to him, leans against his shoulder. Luke does that — he’s very tactile, always putting his body next to Wedge’s body, searching for warmth.
They haven’t had a conversation about what they’re doing since Luke rejoined the fleet, haven’t made up, though it wasn’t exactly that they were fighting before. They’d never had a conversation about what they were doing before Hoth either. They never talked about it, just kept going, taking comfort in each other’s company.
Maybe they’ll talk about it, now that the war is over. They won’t just get assigned to share a room on a ship together, they’ll have to make plans if they want to be together. Wedge thinks that’s what he wants, if they can make it work.
Who knows what Luke will want to do next. He could have more mysterious Jedi buisness, and fall off the map entirely. He’s done that before. And Wedge wouldn’t hold it against him. Luke’s important to the galaxy. And whatever they’re doing isn’t even something they’ve taken the time to talk about.
Maybe that’s what they’ll do tomorrow — later today. Start the post-Imperial era by trying to talk about their feelings. That would be different. Wedge could tell Luke he loves him.
Which Luke should know, everyone should know, it should be obvious. But Wedge has never said it, because of the war, because of who he is, because of how he was raised, because Luke left without saying anything, and came back different, and never offered any explanation. It didn’t matter. Wedge still loved him. Luke came back different, and Wedge still loves him. He’s just never said it.
(The first time Luke said, “I love you,” they had known each other for two weeks, and it was because Wedge saved Luke one of the good rolls that always get taken right away when Luke got caught up in a meeting and missed the start of lunch. That’s just Luke — he just says things like that. Like it’s easy. Like he isn’t afraid.)
“I heard you had a room around here,” Wedge says.
Luke nods. “A real room, with a bed and everything. You wanna see it?”
Wedge nods. “That might be nice.”
A real bed, maybe even designed for two, or at least wider than a narrow ship’s berth. He follows Luke down a narrow path, up a winding staircase into the trees. The room isn’t much, and the bed is a just mess of blankets and cushions, but it’s private, and that’s good enough.
Luke uses the force to get all the latches on Wedge’s flightsuit, and together they strip Luke out of his blacks.
They’re too tired for anything fancy, but for once there’s no rush, no risk of interruption. They can go slow, enjoy the simple pleasure of touching each other. Wedge likes the feel of Luke’s skin, the feel of Luke’s soft-warm and hard-cold hands on him. Luke tastes familiar, and they both smell like woodsmoke, which is so much nicer than smelling like an explosion. They’re gentle with each other, peaceful, like the rest of the galaxy should be someday, now that they’ve won.
He wakes up with a dull headache, ameliorated by the pleasure of Luke’s body pressed against his own. There’s too much light coming through the window, and he can hear a ship passing overhead. He needs to get up and get his squadron in order, start asking what’s next.
He tries to slip out of bed without disturbing Luke, but he can’t pull it off. Luke blinks at him, blue blue eyes, only half aware, maybe less. Wedge goes still. Maybe Luke will just roll over and fall back to sleep.
But Luke reaches out, puts his hand on Wedges face, and smiles at him. “Hey,” Luke says, voice rough.
“I love you,” Wedge says. He doesn’t think about it, he just says it.
“I love you too,” Luke says, a murmur, clearly still half asleep. Luke loves him, even when mostly unconscious, without having to think about it, without having to struggle with the words.
“I have to go make sure my lot aren’t blowing anything up, but I’ll see you later?” Wedge says.
Luke half nods and mumbles back something incomprehensible. Wedge manages to extricate himself from the bed for real, and regrets it immediately. He pulls his flight suit back on, and steps into the cool forest air.
They’re both off Endor by lunch, the Rogues sent out to hopefully enforce some order, Luke following the Falcon with Han and the Princess, some sort of political errand that could use a Jedi escort.
Wedge hardly has time to think about the conversation they should be having, making plans for the future. Trying to sketch out what’s next for the two of them seems important compared to figuring out what’s next for the galaxy. They love each other, they’ll figure it out eventually, right?
Their paths cross often at first, but then less frequently. Luke manages to escape the political life and focus on mysterious Jedi business. When they both happen to be on Chandrila at the same time, there are things they’d rather do than sit down and talk. As the Alliance consolidates power, the Rogues get sent further afield, wherever they’re needed. Ackbar keeps on threatening Wedge with a promotion, a position that sticks him with the admiralty, and he keeps on dodging it. He just wants to keep flying. That’s how he winds up on a reconnaissance mission to Akiva, where everything goes to shit.
For a while, on the surface of Akiva, Wedge is certain he’s going to die. He doesn’t have many regrets; he’s proud of how he lived his life. He has half a thought, in the middle of the pain and the attempt to make his death useful, that it sure would have been nice if he could have said one last thing to Luke before dying here. He doesn’t have a clue what he’d have said, his mind too foggy, the situation around him too urgent, but he knows they had unfinished business that now seems likely to stay that way.
The battle of Jakku lasts for months before the dwindling Imperial forces give up. Wedge is responsible for Phantom squadron, and somehow in charge of coordinating all of the starfighter defense of capital ships, because somebody has to do it. When the word comes down that there’s been an official agreement he tells Snap not to wake him up unless the ceasefire breaks, and sleeps for thirteen hours.
It’s over. The war is done. Coruscant is theirs, the Imperial fleet has surrendered. There’s a remnant out there, on the edge of wild space, but it can’t threaten the Republic. Wedge will have to figure out something else to do with his life now that the war is over.
Settle down somewhere. Maybe teach. Remember that he isn’t actually old, he’s just been through a lot. Stop moving long enough to wonder what it is his actually wants to do with the rest of his life.
He’s stopped imaging that he’s going to be the type of person to make long term plans. Anytime he considered such things, it all went awry before he can reach whatever destination he had in mind. He’s spent this long living by his wits, following orders, rolling with the punches. It’s one way of living that he’s gotten really good at, and he isn’t so sure about figuring out anything else.
They offer him a week of leave before he has to report to the academy on Hosnia prime, but he turns it down. What would he do with a week on his own? Fly off somewhere, see the sights, press down his loneliness. No, he wants work and structure.
But when he gets there, he finds out that classes don’t start for another week and a half. They assign him an office and quarters to settle into. It’s boring. He has time to waste. He gets lunch with Norra. He thinks about getting an apartment off base. It’s been more than a decade since he lived somewhere that wasn’t a military institution of some sort. What would he even do with space of his own? Hang pictures? Buy hand towels? He’d need to get plates, and all of the other kitchen things he doesn’t understand. Better not to try. He’s been told he’s very brave —- foolishly brave — but there are still plenty of things that scare him.
After Jakku he had to buy civilian clothes again, his old collection having mostly fallen apart or gotten lost somewhere across the galaxy. So far he has two pairs of pants, two t-shirts, one jacket, and a scarf. He’s been told this is very sad. The war is over. He doesn’t need to keep everything his own in a dufflebag. Some say sad, he says practical. The war is over, but for how long? Forever? For real?
(He knows it’s sad. He’s working on it. Give him time. Accumulation takes time. Or so he’s been told. He’s spent too long losing things, people, optimism.)
He manages to pick up a pair of non-regulation shoes (sandals even!) before the semester starts, and feels inordinately proud of himself.
Luke shows up a week after midterms. No warning, no heads-up, no grand announcement that the great Jedi Master is going to be in Hosnia. It’s just another Tuesday, and Wedge walks up to his office after class, where he’s supposed to hold office hours, where someone might come to him for advice, though so far it’s just been him sitting there, and the one very anxious girl who decided to transfer to another track. There’s a figure dressed in black sitting on the floor in front of the door to Wedge’s office. Luke looks up from his book when Wedge clatters through the door at the end of the hallway. He has such blue eyes.
The last time Wedge saw Luke was…. Before Jakku. Before Akiva. Wedge doesn’t know how he’s going to mark the passage of time in his life if there aren’t going to be any more battles.
Wedge doesn’t know what to say, so he steps over Luke’s legs, and unlocks the door to his office.
He drops his bag on the ground, and sits in his chair. They gave him a very impressive chair — an admiral’s chair, high backed and rolling. He has a minute to sit and try to collect his thoughts. He thought he was done with useless pretty Jedi heroes wandering in and out of his life. He thought his life was going to be boring and normal now. He isn’t unhappy to be proved wrong, but he wasn’t prepared for this.
Here Luke is. Back from wherever, to sit in the hallway outside of Wedge’s office in the academy, instead of doing something more important. Wedge is sure there’s something more important Luke should be doing.
But Luke just sits there, like he’s waiting for Wedge to say something. Wedge knows he should say something, but what? I love you, where the fuck have you been, why are you here? But he doesn’t actually want to ask any of those questions, and Luke should know the other thing, Luke must know somehow.
If Luke didn’t know, then why would he be sitting so patiently in Wedge’s office while Wedge ignores him and tries to get some work done. He checks his messages. He makes some notes for next week, looks over the latest sim scores. Luke sits in the other chair, watching him, or maybe meditating with his eyes open, who the fuck knows. It’s distracting. It shouldn’t be, Luke is just sitting there, but it’s terribly distracting.
He gives up on the pretense of getting anything done, and stares back at Luke. His hair is longer now than it was during the war, but other than that, Luke looks about the same. It’s the eyes — Luke has such blue eyes. Bright, less guileless than when they met, unless he’s trying to fool somebody with the poor-innocent-farm-boy-schtick, but that doesn’t work on Wedge anymore.
Luke stares back at him. Doesn’t blink. Wedge looks away first, back down to his desk.
‘What are you doing here?” Wedge asks.
“I missed you,” Luke says.
“And there’s a Senate event Leia asked me to attend, so that’s why I’m on the planet. But I came here because I do miss you.”
Wedge doesn’t look up from his screen. He moves some files from one folder to another. He doesn’t want to lie, and he knows Luke would see right through it, but honesty makes him feel so small sometimes. But he owes it to Luke to try. “I’ve missed you too.”
He looks up, and Luke is smiling at him, his whole face lit up like Wedge has made his day, his year, like he really doesn’t have somewhere more important to be.
“Wanna get out of here?” Wedge asks.
Luke says yes — of course Luke says yes.
So they’re doing this. Wedge picks up his bag, and they walk out of the building, away from the academy, off base to the quiet cafe Wedge has taken a shine to. He likes having somewhere to sit that isn’t a part of a military installation, but part of the real world, and still quiet enough not to stress him out. Their simple menu doesn’t ask him to make a lot of choices, not offering all those fancy caf drinks he finds confusing.
He orders caf, black, and Luke gets hot cocoa, and they sit there. How many conversations have they had out of uniform, not on a ship, not on a base? Not many. Endor doesn’t count. Spying doesn’t count. He’s trying to think of something that does, and nothing’s coming to mind.
“What have you been up to?” Wedge asks. “Keeping busy?
Luke nods. There are plenty of leads for him to track down, and the archives in Coruscant to work his way though. “I dig through the Emperor’s things until it makes me feel ill, and then I’ll go off and chase after another rumor. Sometimes it doesn’t lead me anywhere useful, but it stops me from going stir-crazy.”
“It sounds like you’re doing well,” Wedge says. Luke wouldn’t have any problems adjusting to the new world, he’s always been quick to adapt.
“I am,” Luke says. How does he manage to sound so self possessed? He wasn’t always like this, it’s something he learned after Hoth, and it still catches Wedge off guard sometimes. “It gets lonely though.”
“Yeah,” Wedge says. “I know what you mean.”
He didn’t even realize what it was at first. He’d gotten so used to having a squadron around, to having the most import people in his life right there, all the time, that he hadn’t even thought to imagine what it would be like without them. Now they’re scattered across a dozen different planets, trying to lead so-called normal lives, and he misses his friends. He had forgotten what it’s like to miss someone who isn’t dead.
He misses Luke. He’s missed so much, for so long, and it’s never seemed like something he could change, but that isn’t true. Things could be different, if he can be brave. He thought he was done being brave with the war over, but he supposes this is worth it.
“There was a conversation we were supposed to have at some point,” Wedge says. “I’m not sure when we could have fit it in, and I’m still not sure what’s supposed to get said, but we were supposed to talk about what we wanted, instead of just…” Wedge shrugs.
He doesn’t know what this is. They didn’t decide anything, so they drifted apart without the centrifugal force of the war throwing them together.
“I want to be with you,” Luke says. “Whatever that means, whatever you want it to mean, that’s what I want.”
Like that, it almost sounds simple. It isn’t, it won’t be, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try.
Wedge stares at his hands, because he can’t say this and look at Luke at the same time.
“I’ve been thinking about getting an apartment off base,” Wedge says. “I figure, at some point I’m going to have to sort out how to live on my own, not just a part of the fleet. But I suppose, it wouldn’t have to be all by my own. If you wanted somewhere to come back to, that wasn’t the old palace, but actually something like…” Wedge hesitates. He wants this. He wants it so badly, it’s something he hasn’t let himself think about, hasn’t allowed himself to miss, except for on the very worst days. He wants it so badly it’s hard to say. He swallows. “Something like home.”
Luke’s non-mechanical hand folds over his on the table. Wedge looks up. Luke’s eyes are so blue, sparkling with delight. “I’d love that,” Luke says.
They sit like that, holding hands, smiling at each other, for a long moment.
It won’t be easy. But they’ve lived this long. They survived the war, and now there are peaceful days stretching out in front of them, and they’d be fools not to try to make a happy life in it, together.