Chapter 1: An Idea
This started as a goofy outline that was supposed to be full of tropes...
It is still pretty goofy and full of tropes, but somewhere along the way, we also caught EMOTIONS. I hope you enjoy :D
RogueShadows gets huge amounts of thanks on this one, as she helped me scream the outline into existence, hung out in my document and made excited noises, and then beta'd the first chapter. You are FANTASTIC.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Wedge finally found Luke sitting at one of the picnic tables tucked away at the far end of the field, still in his gear from lacrosse practice. He seemed distracted, head in his hands, staring at some paperwork. With an exasperated sigh, Wedge started jogging across the grass.
"There you are," Wedge called when he got closer. "Practice ended ages ago. I was waiting for you in the locker room. We were going to meet up after school, work on the presentation for Bio—oh shit."
Luke glanced up, quickly wiping the tears away from his eyes. "Oh, yeah, that's today," he said, trying and failing to sound normal. "Sorry. I…forgot. I'm just—just about ready to go."
Wedge shook his head, sliding into the table across from his normally sunshine-filled best friend. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Luke said, roughly, going to pick up the papers in front of him.
Wedge was faster, hand darting out and grabbing them first.
"Hey," Luke protested, too late.
Wedge's eyes widened. "Luke, you dork, this is an acceptance letter! You got into Yavin University! Pre-Med!" Wedge put down the papers with a little smile. "You said you weren't going to get in. Said it wasn't even worth applying. I told you you were smart enough."
"I know how to read, idiot. I know it's an acceptance letter." Luke's voice was harsh. "I'm not going."
"Why not?" Wedge studied Luke. Luke wanted to be a doctor, and Yavin's program was second to none. Wedge had bothered Luke for half a year to apply, insisting that yes, he was smart enough for those snobs.
Wedge was going to get the prestigious university handed to him, ushered in on legacy admissions and the promise of his parent's hefty donations. Well, handed to him, except for the small fact that his parents would run his life with absolutely no regard to what Wedge wanted for the rest of his days. Business as usual, really.
Luke, though, Luke actually wanted this, he had fought for this, and he was going to turn it down? "Why?"
"Next page." Luke grabbed the top paper and flipped it over. "There it is, average yearly tuition." Luke flattened his lips and looked up and away, Wedge could see the shine from the tears he was trying to not let escape.
"Come on. Financial aid?" Wedge bit his lip. He hated talking about money. Hated the fact that he had it and his friends didn't. Not for the first time, Wedge wished he could march up to his parents and shove Luke in front of them and go, 'Hey! Here's a guy who could actually use your goddamned money.'
Luke blinked, and a tear escaped anyway. He sighed and looked back to Wedge. "That's what I was just looking into. Owen and Beru make too much money, even though it's all going back into the shop. But the loans don't care about that. Neither does financial aid. According to them, it's my parents that should be paying for this, and that's that."
Luke let go of the paper, letting it fall onto the stack still in Wedge's hands. He crossed his arms and sank down onto the table, his chin resting on his forearms. Luke glanced up at Wedge, bright blue eyes through golden lashes, and looked determined. "And here's the thing, Wedge, if I go in there and say, 'Hey, I got into Yavin's pre-med program,' they're gonna be so proud of me, and they're going to figure out a way to make it happen, even if it means they lose the shop. I can't do that to them."
"Scholarships? You could accept, and then find scholarships!"
Luke sat up straight again, briefly angry, "No! Because there's no guarantee, and if I can't get the scholarships, it's back on them! I'm not risking putting that on them." Luke's shoulders slumped. "I'm going to throw the acceptance letter into the garbage can there, and then I'm going to go home and tell them Yavin didn't accept me, and I'll just be doing community college for a couple years. I might...there's probably a med school out there that will accept me, even if it takes a little while to get there."
Luke looked up, giving Wedge a sad smile. "At least, that's the plan, just as soon as I can bear to actually let go of it." He looked down at the papers, and his smile turned into something proud. "I actually did it. Got in. I never thought I would."
"You did." Wedge's hands tightened around the papers. "Let me keep them," he said impulsively. "Beru won't find them, but it'll give you some more time to think."
Luke paused, looking at the papers, then shook his head. "I'm done thinking. But...yeah, if you don't mind, hang onto them." Luke swallowed. "They deserve better than the trash."
Wedge's mind raced, not wanting to accept Luke's conclusion. He got in, that was supposed to be the hard part. It was supposed to work after this. Luke got in, and then he became a brilliant, compassionate doctor. And, selfishly, Wedge would be able to keep Luke with him a little while longer, keep some sort of a reminder that he was more than his parent's shining plans for him. "There has to be a way to...divorce your parents?"
"I'm eighteen. Legally, I'm an adult. It's just the student loans that don't see it that way." Luke sighed. "I can wait until I'm twenty-five. I could join the military and complete a term of service. I could get married. I could adopt a kid."
Luke fixed Wedge with a serious expression. "I'm not ready to be a dad, Wedge." Luke tried to smile, after that, a thin smile for his thin joke.
Wedge couldn't bring himself to laugh. It was...wrong. It shouldn't work this way. "The military?" he tried.
Luke shook his head. "That's your dream, not mine. Between the military and community college, I'll take community college."
The paper crinkled, and Wedge looked down, realizing his hands had clenched into fists. Wedge deliberately set the paper down and smoothed it out, his mind racing as he tried to find a solution.
It was wrong. It was just wrong. Luke was brilliant and kind and trapped. Oh, sure, Wedge was trapped too. He was getting his bachelors in business, then straight to Yavin's prestigious MBA program, then straight to his father's office, where he would work under his father until his father finally decided to retire. Probably when he was ninety. Which would give Wedge maybe ten years of freedom in his whole life before he kicked the bucket.
Not for the first time, Wedge dreamed of just...running off and doing his own thing. But really, what would he do?
No. The Air Force didn't take enlisted pilots. He'd have to make officer, which meant he needed his bachelors, which meant he needed his parents. And that meant that Wedge had to take the deal that was offered him, because there was no other way out. He was an Antilles. That meant something, his father insisted.
But Wedge was trapped because his family was terrible. Luke was trapped because his family was good. Wedge had grown all too used to the chains around his life, but Luke...Luke didn't deserve the ones wrapped around him.
Mind still scrambling for some sort of solution, Wedge asked, "Marriage? It's legal for you to get married."
"And thank God for that." Luke rolled his eyes. "I don't know if you've noticed, buddy, but supreme court decision aside, there's not a lot of options for gay guys around here. Besides, how does that pitch go, marry me for the student loan debt?"
"Marry me so I don't have to put my parents on the college application," Wedge tried to joke back.
Then he stopped, quietly stunned. They could do it. He could do it. If he got married he could just...cut his parents out. They'd disown him, sure, but Wedge really had trouble caring about that right now. He could do...whatever he wanted to do. Air Force ROTC, join up, get to fly.
"Marry me because our financial system is deeply and profoundly broken." Luke kept the joke rolling, oblivious to Wedge's shifting thoughts.
"Okay," Wedge responded.
Luke stopped, blinking at Wedge.
Wedge shook his head, talking fast, excitement making the words come faster. "No, really, marry me."
"Uh," was Luke's well-reasoned response.
"Really, I'll do it. I can marry you, and then we can both fund Yavin under our own names. The financial aid package is going to be really good. I'll bet we wouldn't even need to take out that many loans!"
"Uh. Wedge. You're not...um…"
"Yes," Wedge snapped, frustrated, "I know my parents can pay for my education, but if they do, they'll hold it over my head for the rest of my life. I just want to be free of them. Trust me, I want this as much as you do, Luke."
"...gay," Luke finished.
"Ah." Wedge snapped his mouth shut. "Well...no. My parents certainly wouldn't allow that." Wedge felt a smile creep across his face. It wasn't a nice smile. "They are going to be so pissed when they find out I've been bi all this time."
"You can't turn bi to get back at your parents." Luke folded his arms, looking uncomfortable.
"Watch me." Wedge stopped, then actually looked over at Luke, who was shifting uncomfortably. "No, Luke, I'm sorry, I'm not...I know it hasn't always been easy for you."
Luke shrugged. "I don't know why I'm so bothered. I mean, it's a lie that makes sense."
"Yeah," Wedge said. "Sorry I just...I got excited. I think it could actually work. Make both of us happy."
"That is the usual reason people get married," Luke said distantly. "The specifics are different in our case."
"Does that mean…?”
"No! It's so...dumb. We can't actually do it, right? Like, what about divorce? How do we get out of it again?"
They both stopped, looked at each other, then reached for their phones. Luke got there first, his resting by his elbow, while Wedge's needed to be pulled out of his bag.
"It looks like there's no-fault divorce."
"Costs five thousand dollars, though."
"That's lawyers fees, mostly," Luke said, scanning quickly through his phone. "If it's amicable, we can just go for it."
"Oh yeah." Wedge got to that page on his own phone. "As long as we don't own any real estate." Wedge put his phone down on the table. "Do you think we can avoid accidentally purchasing a plot of land?"
Luke chuckled. "You know, I feel like that's one pitfall of college life that we can manage to escape." He shook his head, looking at his phone, "Wedge, I can't...I think we might need to take some time to think."
Wedge chewed his lip. "Yeah, of course. But please," Wedge picked up the acceptance letter again and held it out, "don't tell Beru and Owen that you got a rejection letter. Not yet. Just think about it. I will too."
Luke nodded. "Okay."
The next day, Wedge made his way over to the Lars house, little ranch house tucked in the suburbs. Wedge loved it here, Beru and Owen managed to make a place that felt more like home than his parent's stuffy mansion, full of art older than both of them combined, ever did.
This time, though, he was nervous. Five minutes after leaving Luke at the school, deciding Biology could wait until the next day, he had to pull his car over to the side of the road. His breath was coming in panicked gasps, and all he could do was lean against the steering wheel, and remember how to breathe.
He couldn't do it. He couldn't tell his parents that he was suddenly bi, marrying Luke, and going to college without them. He couldn't. It would be like declaring war, and if his parents were bad now, they'd be even worse after. He couldn't. The whole thing was a mistake.
And yet, once he had suffered through the usual dinner and retreated up to his bedroom, he still curled around his laptop and quietly, desperately, looked up what you need to get a marriage license.
"A hundred and fifteen dollars. Ninety for the marriage license, twenty-five for the certificate. That's it. We can use our driver's licenses to get the certificate." Wedge swiveled back and forth in Luke's computer chair, looking at Luke, who lay sprawled across his bed, hands over his eyes.
"I looked it up last night. I wanted to know if it was something we could actually do. And it is. We would need a witness, but that's not an issue. Tycho will do it if I ask him."
"And then we'd be...married." Luke said the word carefully, like he was turning the word over in his mouth and checking how the angles tasted.
"We would." Wedge shifted, reluctant to tell Luke the other conclusion he had reached the night before, but unable to see any way out of it. "Here's the biggest problem. We'd have to pretend it was real. I don't know if the school would care, but my parents will. And if they get the slightest hint that we're doing this for the money, they will go after us. With lawyers." Wedge shuddered. "You'd be in their sights, Luke, and that's not a safe place to be."
Luke rolled over, propping a pillow up under his chest as he stared at Wedge. "They've never really liked me."
Wedge shook his head. "That was them ignoring you."
"Awfully...pointed, for ignoring." Luke wrinkled his nose.
"Yes." Wedge leaned back in his chair, staring at Luke's ceiling, glow-in the dark stars faintly green across the white. "It's not going to be nice for you, and that's the biggest argument against it, I think."
"You really want to get free of them, don't you," Luke said, his voice unbearably kind.
"Yes," Wedge said, again. "I wasn't kidding, Luke. I wouldn't have thought of it on my own, but I want it for myself."
"But we would be...pretending it's real." There was an odd note in Luke's voice, then, and Wedge tipped back down, looking at Luke. Luke was giving him an intense look. "That would mean you are committing to pretending to be bi for...four years? Get us through college? That comes with a lot of assholes with opinions."
"I can handle it."
"You don't know," Luke insisted.
Wedge folded his arms. "Then I should learn."
Luke didn't have a comeback for that one. After a minute he said, "That means no dating, too, doesn't it? Can't risk it getting back to your parents."
Wedge gave a reluctant nod. "I know that's a big one. People meet their spouses in college. I understand if you don't want to give it up."
Luke shook his head quickly, blond strands flying. "Oh! Um, no, that part didn't really bother me. I'll probably be focused on study anyway. I was...more worried about you."
Wedge reached forward, ruffling Luke's hair. "You're sweet, Luke. Honestly? There are about eight families that have about ten daughters my age. If I don't figure out how to get away, I'm marrying one of them, and producing proper little Antilles heirs. So I lose out on four years. I get the rest of my life back. I'll make that trade."
Luke buried his head in the pillow, a sigh moving through his body before he lifted his head back up again. "I don't think I realized just how...your life is really…"
Luke conceded the point. He hugged the pillow a little tighter underneath him. "So, a hundred and fifteen dollars and some picture I.D.s?"
"Should be harder, right?" Wedge said.
"Right! Like, otherwise, two dumb high school seniors are going to try to get married to be able to afford the college of their dreams."
Wedge grinned, something giddy building in him. "I can swing the money. All you need to do is bring your I.D."
"Well," Luke flashed Wedge a bright grin as he swung his feet off the side of the bed and stood up with a little bounce. "That's not all I need to do."
Luke walked up next to Wedge, and Wedge's stomach twisted, suddenly worried that Luke was going to…
What? What on Earth was Wedge worried about?
Whatever it was, it didn't happen, since all Luke did was lean past Wedge, and pull open the top drawer, stuffed with knick-knacks: rubber bands, old toy cars, keychains from past trips, and a flashlight, from what Wedge could see. Luke rummaged until he found something, and pulled it out with a triumphant hiss.
He turned back to Wedge, got down on one knee, and held up a toy ring that looked like it came from the arcade, cheap LED lights set in a metallic coated plastic. "Wedge Antilles," Luke said, over the top and smiling at him, "Will you fake marry me for real, so that we can pay for college?"
Wedge threw his hands over his mouth, "Yes!" he exclaimed, channelling every breathy proposal he had ever seen in movies.
Luke took his hand and Wedge shivered as he felt his future get...erased. The diligent, dutiful, miserable son he had always intended to be vanished. As Luke slowly slid the toy ring over Wedge's finger the future stretched out in front of him, vast and, for the first time, full of possibility.
Wedge had no idea what his future would hold, now. Aside from Luke. Luke, his bright, steadfast, loyal, utterly trustworthy best friend. Whatever the story of the next four years, he would write it with Luke, and that meant…
It was going to be a good story.
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Chapter 2: A Plan
Luke was pretty sure this wasn't the dumbest thing he'd ever done. He had done a lot of stupid things. He just...couldn't think of anything worse right now.
He was going to marry Wedge Antilles.
Wedge, with his silky dark hair and his serious face and his tragic eyes that melted into something heartbreakingly beautiful when he smiled. Luke had spent a lot of his time trying to get Wedge to smile.
Luke wasn't sure what love was. Luke had thought that he might be in love with Biggs, who he had known all his life. Biggs was his first...everything else, after all. But Biggs had moved away, and Luke was sad, but not devastated.
And then he had met Wedge, and suddenly, all the things Biggs hadn't been became crystal clear. Biggs hadn't been the person who made Luke's chest ache. Biggs hadn't been someone who made Luke feel desperate for his time. Biggs hadn't been the person who made Luke feel like the sun itself had decided to shine on him whenever he gave Luke the smallest grin.
But, most importantly, Biggs hadn't been straight.
And Wedge was.
So whatever this dizzy joy, this deep and abiding affection, this unbreakable trust between him and Wedge was, Luke really hoped it wasn't love. Because there was no way that was ending in anything but tragedy.
And now! Luke was going to marry him! Something that would absolutely go very well and not be a problem at all!
This...might be the dumbest thing he'd ever done.
But Wedge was smiling.
Luke got to his feet, and they grinned at each other, Wedge looking as happy as Luke had seen him in a long time. Luke knew, he knew it was because Wedge was excited to get away from his parents, but still, some rebellious little part of his heart wished that it could be for him. That Wedge was just happy because he wanted to be with Luke.
Don't do this, Skywalker.
It was going to be a lot harder not to do this for the four years he was married to Wedge what was he thinking?
Luke remembered telling his aunt about his first meetings with Wedge, his excitement about getting to talk to the serious new transfer student on the lacrosse team. She had teased him, affectionately, saying he was very interested in this young man, wasn't he? Luke had blushed (he always blushed), and mumbled something about how he didn't know if Wedge swung that way and please, could she leave it alone?
She had left it alone.
Luke's biological parents may have died too young for him to know them, but his aunt and uncle had never made him feel anything less than loved.
"Shit," Luke blurted out.
The joy, fell off of Wedge's face in an instant, much to Luke's dismay. "What?"
"We need to tell my parents it's fake."
Wedge looked at Luke, serious. "No! We can't. Tell me now if that's going to be an issue because we'll call it off, but if your parents know, and my parents find out, they will go after your parents too. And that would be worse than some student loans, so Luke, we can't—"
"Fine!" Luke threw up his hands. "But we're going to have to have a wedding. No eloping."
Wedge made a protesting noise. "Can't we just get it from the county clerk's office and then apologize?"
Luke darted forward, a hand on either handle of his desk chair, trapping Wedge in the chair. He loomed, his face inches from Wedge. "Wedge. Do you really want to be a widow at eighteen? They will murder me if I elope."
Wedge's eyes went wide. "It's just...going to be more complicated. I don't know how to plan a wedding."
"Do you know how to plan a funeral?" Luke pushed up off the chair, the force of it sending Wedge rolling back a few inches. "They'll help us out. Heck, they'll probably pay for the ceremony. But I'm their only kid, Wedge, it would break their hearts if they missed my wedding. Especially if I can't tell them I'm planning on having another one eventually."
"Fine. Fine." Wedge shook his head. "I guess we'll have a wedding."
Sooner or later. That was the question. The sooner they got married, the sooner they could submit their financial aid packages. But, as soon as they announced their engagement…
"They're going to disown me," Wedge said, matter-of-factly. "Obviously, I'll lose the trust, but I have a savings account that's only in my name, it should be enough to get me an apartment until we start school."
Luke gave Wedge a level look. "Right, because that's not going to look suspicious, you living in your own apartment while I live here. Wedge, keep your savings account. Just move in here with me."
Wedge's tiny smile was heartbreaking. "I'd rather keep your aunt and uncle on my good side. One of us should have a good relationship with the in-laws."
Luke rolled his eyes. "Okay, let's do this." He grabbed Wedge's wrist.
"What?" Wedge squawked as he was pulled to Luke's bedroom door.
Luke flashed a smile at Wedge. "We're gonna tell them. Gameface on...baby?"
"No," Wedge said.
"I am going to — "
"Darling." Luke was mortified at the soft way the word slipped from his mouth, no joking, entirely genuine.
Wedge turned a little pink. "Yeah. That works."
Luke swallowed, trying to get his hammering heart back under control again. "Okay! Well, darling, let's do this."
"Why now?" Wedge asked, a little desperately, as Luke opened the door.
Luke shifted his hand, from around Wedge's wrist to tangled in with his fingers. "Because you are going to be a big part of my life for the next four years, and you need to know how much my parents love you. Come on."
He dragged the softly protesting Wedge into the kitchen, where his uncle had something going in a pot on the stove, and his aunt was doing the dishes. For all his bluster, Luke felt his stomach tie in knots as he hesitantly cleared his throat.
They both looked up at him, and then as Luke watched they both looked down at where he and Wedge were holding hands.
"Oh, finally." Beru said, looking delighted as she shut the water off with her elbow and started looking for a towel. "We were beginning to get worried you wouldn't tell us."
Luke's confused words got cut off when Wedge stepped on his foot. Wedge cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. We should have told you sooner. But, my parents aren't…" Wedge grimaced and looked off to the side.
Luke tried not to let his mouth hang open too wide. That was a good lie. Wedge was really good at lying. That should probably not be as impressive as it was.
Owen gave an understanding grunt as Beru said, "Of course." She made her way over to them and stopped in front of Wedge. "Can I give you a hug?"
Wedge nodded slowly.
Beru cheerfully wrapped her arms around him, placing an enthusiastic kiss to the side of his head. Wedge let go of Luke's hands to tentatively hug her back, a few uncertain pats near her shoulder.
Beru pushed back, holding him out at arms length while she looked him over. "Thank you for trusting us with this."
Wedge gave a tiny stunned nod.
Luke took a breath. Better just to rip the bandaid off. "There's a reason we're telling you now." Beru and Owen both turned to look at him, and Luke winced when he said, "We're getting married."
Wedge's car backed out of their driveway, and Beru gave Owen a look. Owen gave a little nod and disappeared. Luke sighed. Time for a conversation.
"How about I make us some hot chocolate, dear?"
Luke reluctantly followed her into the kitchen.
Beru took her time moving through the motions of preparing the chocolate. She didn't try to talk. It wasn't until she laid the mug of hot chocolate in front of Luke that she gently said, "Marriage," opening the conversation.
"Yeah." Luke chewed his lip and fidgeted with his mug. He didn't have a plan for how to handle this particular discussion. He was briefly tempted to try forcing himself to throw up to get out of it, but that didn't work too well when he was eight, he didn't think it would go over any better at eighteen. Well, charging ahead had worked so far. "Sorry, I know it's out of the blue."
"It is. I hope you can see why that has me worried." Beru settled down next to him with her own mug. "I'd like to know what you're thinking."
"Um." Luke fidgeted with his mug, trying to find the bits of what they were doing that were true. "His parent's won't...they have this plan for his life. They won't be able to stand him being gay. If we're married, it's going to be a lot harder for them to break us up."
"Sweetheart." Beru laid her hand over Luke's. "That's a terrible reason to get married."
Luke glanced up, giving her a helpless look. Shit. How was he supposed to explain this?
Beru patted his hand. "You just need to explain to Wedge that he's welcome to stay here with us, with or without a ring. You know we'll look after him."
"I know." Luke gave a short emphatic nod. "I do! It's why I dragged Wedge in here to tell you guys. He thought he was going to have to get an apartment or something when his parents kicked him out. Even if we were married he didn't think you guys would—" Luke cut himself off, staring at the ceiling.
After a moment, he continued, "I've always been a little jealous of the money, you know?" He quickly looked over at Beru, alarmed, "Not that you have ever made me feel like I—"
Beru cut him off, "Your car is twenty years old and makes an alarming clanking noise, Wedge got a sports car for his sixteenth. I understand that."
Luke gave a rueful laugh. "Yeah, that. So. It sidetracked me, you know? But recently I feel like I found out just how miserable he is and I want to fix it."
"Luke, sweetheart, I love your generous soul, but that's still a terrible reason to get married."
"I know!" Luke protested. "I do. And I don't think getting married is going to fix that. And I know I can't really fix it at all! But...the idea that there's someone in his life who is going to be there no matter what, that there's someone who wants to be a part of his future...I don't think he's had that before. That's what I want to give him. I want to make him that promise."
Luke's heart was hammering, as he ran the words over in his head. It was true, it was too much, the feeling was too big, but every word was true.
Luke was so sidetracked by the thud of his pulse in his ears that he nearly missed Beru say, "That's...not such a terrible reason."
Luke wanted to promise to be there for Wedge. He wanted to do whatever he could, as long as he could, to help Wedge be happy. How long had he felt like this?
"But still," Beru continued, sounding deliberate, "forever is a lot to promise, when you're eighteen."
"It's not forever," Luke said without thinking. Quickly, he covered, "It's not about forever. Wedge is right for me right now. I don't just have my head in the clouds. I know we're really young. And maybe we won't make it."
Pretty much guaranteed.
"But that doesn't mean it isn't the right thing to do. This is a promise I'm ready to make him. Whether or not it lasts forever. I just...I really love him."
God damn it, it was true. It was all true.
Beru sniffed. Luke glanced up at her, alarmed. She reached over, eyes looking watery, and brushed some of his hair away from his eyes. "What happened to my little Luke?"
Luke ducked his head, looking embarrassed.
She leaned over and kissed his temple. "I...I still think this is too soon. But I also think your heart is in the right place."
"I'm sorry." Luke sighed. "I'm sorry that you found out we were together and then found out we were getting married just...like that. But Wedge is...he's been the person I've wanted to spend the rest of my life with for a while now. I just realized it recently."
Beru gave a slow nod. "Alright sweetheart, I can't give you my full approval, but you do have my blessing. And of course, your young man is welcome here either way, if things go south with his parents." Beru's face tightened. "Some people just need a good slapping."
"Please don't slap Wedge's parents. They have a lot of lawyers. Or so I've been told."
"I'll keep that in mind. Alright, Luke Skywalker, you intend to get married. We need to have a talk."
Luke glanced up, panicked. "Owen talked to me about sex forever ago please do not talk to me about sex," he blurted out in a rush.
Beru burst out laughing. "No, dear. I was going to talk to you about the ring. Don't think I missed that piece of garbage you put on Wedge's finger."
Luke flushed, unaccountably embarrassed. "Yeah, I...that's a...placeholder. I'm going to..."
Luke's mind went blank. He had no idea how to buy someone a ring.
"...google how to buy rings here, really soon."
Beru cleared her throat. "No. You and I will go down to the jewler...you've been doing a lot of work for us at the shop, and we've noticed. You deserve something for your hard work."
That thoughtful bit of love, on top of all the other emotions swirling around him, was enough to bring tears to his eyes. "I'd really like that." Luke leaned against her, tipping his forehead against her arm. "Thank you. I love you."
Beru kissed the top of his head. "I love you too, sweetheart. And I'm looking forward to loving Wedge, as well."
Owen and Beru are fantastic parents and you can't convince me otherwise. Enjoying the fic? Let me know, either here or on Tumblr!
Chapter 3: A Wedding
Wedge looked down at the crumpled paper in his hands, and then back over to Luke. Luke was tipped against the wall with his eyes shut, more pale than he should be, his breaths coming too fast. "You okay?"
Luke opened one eye and looked over at Wedge. "Hey. I don't know if you've heard, but I'm getting married today."
"Yeah." Wedge gave a choked laugh. "I seem to recall something about that."
Luke's smile was wan, but present nonetheless. "Last chance to change your mind. We could just run away."
"I feel like it's...a little late for that." Wedge looked down at his suit, over at Luke in his, then glanced down the hallway, where out in Beru and Owen's backyard guests were already milling around, faint sound of strings wafting in through the window.
"I know how to get the front room window open. We can be out of here in two minutes."
Wedge shook his head. "No. I'm good." He glanced down at the paper, smudged and wrinkled from overhandling. "Aside from the part where we're doing our own vows, why did we think that was a good idea?"
"It was either that or fight about who has to 'love, honor, and obey.' I don't think either of us are the particularly obedient types." Luke's grin was sharp.
Wedge offered his own toothy smile in return. "Still. There had to be some better pre-canned vows out there. We gave up too soon."
Luke shrugged. "Maybe. They were all pretty heavy on ''til death do us part.' I'm not really comfortable with saying that."
“You could always kill me after college.”
"I'll keep that in mind," Luke said, laughing, visibly shaking off his nerves. "No, ugh, this is going to be fine, we'll walk in together, spend some time repeating after the Reverend Îmwe, and then we read off of a paper. We can do all these things."
Wedge nodded. "We can." Wedge folded up the worn paper and tucked it into his pocket. Luke still looked miserable, faint sheen of sweat on his forehead and his breathing hitching oddly. Wedge reached over and took his hand.
It was almost familiar by this point, after pretending to be a couple around Owen and Beru. They didn't normally do it when they were alone, though. Still, Luke's hand fit easily in his, and Wedge gave it a brief, reassuring squeeze.
Luke glanced over at him, still looking like he was getting ready to go to his execution than his wedding. Wedge tugged him close and hugged him. "It's going to be okay."
Luke was stiff for a second, before slowly relaxing against Wedge. "Promise?" He asked, sounding young.
"You and me Luke, we've been through a lot." Wedge let his hand soothe between Luke's shoulder blades. "I'm glad this is you. There's no one else I'd rather be doing this with."
Luke swallowed. "Me too." He sounded so sincere, and Wedge felt something in him settle.
He was signing up to spend the next four years of his life tied at the hip to his best friend in the world. He was free of his parents, he was going to go off to college with Luke, and they were going to be happy. Fuck romance. This was better.
There was a polite cleared throat from down the hallway, and they pulled back to find Owen, his gruff face looking unmistakably fond. "Think they're nearly ready for you boys."
Owen walked over to them, and smoothed down Luke's lapels, stopping with his hands resting on Luke's shoulder. "I'm proud of you, son." He patted Luke and turned to Wedge.
Wedge was almost not surprised. He had been crashing on their couch for the last two months after his parents kicked him out, and they had been so consistently warm and welcoming. Wedge had been better parented in the last eight weeks than he had in the eighteen years prior to that.
But it was a few dozen days against a lifetime of learning, and so Owen's words still knocked him over like a sledgehammer.
"Proud of you too...son." Owen reached over to straighten Wedge's tie. "Might be jumping the gun a little bit, but it's just technicalities at this point."
Wedge didn't trust his voice, he just nodded. Owen gave him a sympathetic look. "Don't worry, this bit with the words, it's the worst part. Get through it, then figure everything else out as you go." Owen glanced down the hallway. "Alright, I'm going to go stand by the door, we'll wave when you should come down, okay?"
"We've got this." Luke muttered, reaching down to grab Wedge's hand.
"In the bag." Wedge squeezed it.
They waited together, tension in their grip, until they saw Owen wave.
"Here we go," Luke muttered, and they walked together toward the sunlight.
Wedge blinked at the sudden glare after the dark hallway, and then they stepped through the back sliding door, and Wedge took in the reality of the ceremony space.
Three rows of white folding chairs sat on either side of a small aisle. Twenty or so people were standing in the backyard, rustle of their clothes as they all stood and turned to face Luke and Wedge. At least fifteen were there for Luke, the family friends, various neighbors, and longtime customers that had watched him grow up and wanted to be there for this.
Wedge's parents were absent. Intentionally. Beru had mentioned, once, that they could at least be invited…
"They have disinherited me in hopes that it would keep me from marrying your son," Wedge said in the cold, deliberate tones that he had learned from his father. "I will not be inviting them to celebrate."
Beru didn't ask again.
There were the Rogues, a cluster of affectionately leering lacrosse players, Luke and Wedge's reprobate teammates almost looking respectable in their suits. They had teased Wedge and Luke mercilessly after hearing the news. None of them were particularly surprised. Wedge wasn't sure how he felt about that.
Still, they had all been invited, and they all came, Dak sporting an enthusiastic grin, Hobbie as solidly good natured as ever, Wes with a wicked curve of his mouth, and Tycho attempting to run herd on them all, considering the co-captains had the bad planning to go get married to each other. Wedge smiled to see them.
He hadn't wanted a wedding, the idea of all the fuss had made him feel faintly nauseated. And yet, now that he was here, Luke a steady presence at his side and all the people cheering them on, it felt exciting. It felt right.
Wedge figured he probably should have felt like a sham, all these people showing up to witness a commitment that was more about administration than adoration. But, stubbornly, he didn't. Wedge was claiming the life he wanted, and even if the trappings were a little off, he was ready to celebrate.
They made their way down the aisle, to where the cheerful figure of Reverend Îmwe waited by a small podium, under an arch adorned with sunflowers. The sunflowers were Luke's favorite. Of course they were. Wedge couldn't think of a flower that better fit Luke if he tried.
It didn't matter, Luke had insisted when they were in private, that yeah, sure, he had some...ideas...about how he wanted his wedding to go, but this was fake, it didn't need to be perfect.
Wedge, filled with a strange desire to spoil Luke, shook his head and figured out where to fit the sunflowers in anyway. It didn't matter that it was fake, Luke should still be happy. Practice run, he had said with a grin.
Now, looking from the cheerful arch to the smiling man next to him, Wedge knew it was a good call.
They reached the podium, just the two of them. No parents, for obvious reasons. No best men, because…
Well, Wedge's would have been Luke, and Luke was already up there with him.
Luke reached up and tapped the podium when they got to the front, a quiet signal to the blind reverend that they had arrived. Wedge suspected it was just a formality, Chirrut had always had an uncanny sense of wherever Wedge was during the handful of premarital counseling sessions Owen and Beru had bullied them into taking.
Chirrut smiled and cleared his throat. "Dearly beloved," he announced to the crowd, "We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of—ah, wait, is this the Johnson's house?"
The tension broke with a laugh, and the rest of the ceremony rolled along smoothly after that.
Too smoothly. Wedge would have appreciated a little more time before the vows. Unfortunately, Chirrut's benediction was witty and short, and all too soon Luke was pulling out a paper and giving Wedge an unsteady smile.
Luke cleared his throat. "Hi."
Wedge smiled, feeling impossibly full of affection. "Hey."
"Right, okay," Luke looked back down at the paper in front of him, and took a deep breath. "I didn't know what love was, until I met you. I know, it's cheesy, but it's true."
Wedge managed to keep from arching an eyebrow. Luke was really selling this. He ran through his own prepared vows, hoping they wouldn't look halfhearted compared to this.
Luke gave a nervous swallow, then continued, "You've taught me so much. How to be committed. How to care. How to trust someone. I like my life better, I like who I am better because of you."
Luke glanced up at him with a tiny smile, Wedge squeezed his hand, encouraging him to go on. This had to be awkward. Luke was doing great.
"Promises are hard, you know? I kept thinking about things I could promise, and there's so much I don't know. About the future, about who and where we're going to be. But I realized, that no matter what happens, I can promise this. Wedge, I am here for you. I promise to make your happiness my priority. I promise that as we grow and change, we will be doing it together. I don't know what the future holds, Wedge, but I want to spend it with you."
Luke punctuated the speech with a short nod, looking up nervously at Wedge. Wedge swallowed around a lump that had decided to take up residence in his throat. Wedge couldn't think of anyone in his life, other than Luke, who cared about whether or not he was happy.
Wedge considered the speech in his pocket, ruthlessly copied and pasted from five different 'Writing Your Own Vows!' websites. He left it there. Luke deserved better.
Wedge took a slow breath, let his jumbled thoughts fall into order as he looked at Luke. "I think it's everyone's dream, to marry their best friend, and I actually get to do it."
Luke's slightly nervous smile grew into something more genuine, dimples appearing by the curve of his mouth.
Wedge smiled back and continued. "I don't take that for granted. Luke, you're the best thing that's ever happened to me, and I intend to spend our marriage proving that to you. I promise to be loyal to you, I promise that whenever you need me, I will be there. As much as I can, as well as I am able, I will make you happy too. I promise to be as good of a husband as I can, and I promise to never stop learning how to be a better one. It's you and me, Luke Skywalker, and I promise, I won't give you a reason to regret saying yes to me."
Wedge could tell, from the sniffles in the audience next to him, that his words had found a good reception. But everyone else in the room could have hated his words, there was only one person whose reaction he cared about, and that person's face was strangely unreadable.
Luke shook his head, seemingly bringing himself back to the moment. He looked up at Wedge through shining eyes, and said, softly, "Thank you."
Wedge hoped that Luke could hear the truth of what he said, wrapped up in the trappings of the vows. The last two months had been the happiest of his life, and Wedge was filled with a determination to build on it. They would be happy together.
The rest of the ceremony passed by in a blur, Wedge repeating after Chirrut when he was supposed to, Luke doing the same. They slid gold bands onto each other's ring finger and it wasn't as oddly fake as Wedge had been worried it would be. He belonged with Luke, and that had been true for a long time already. Just more official, now.
"Wedge and Luke, as you have exchanged vows in the presence of your friends and family, I recognize your commitment to each other, and it is my pleasure to recognize you as united in marriage."
Chirrut paused, and Wedge smiled. It was done, he was married, and his future was his own. His and Luke's.
"You may kiss your husband."
He was going to have to kiss Luke. In front of witnesses. They hadn't kissed, they hadn't even talked about it. Wedge was too busy focusing on the pointless vows using to think about the kiss. He should have. Of course there was going to be a kiss, there was always a kiss, and somehow, Wedge had to make it look good.
Luke's hands tightened on his, and Wedge focused back on him. Luke ducked his head away from the audience and mouthed, 'trust me'. Wedge clung to that like a lifeline, giving Luke a tiny nod.
Luke smiled and reached up, gently slid his hands along Wedge's jaw, to the back of Wedge's neck. The movement of his fingers was electric, Wedge could feel the afterimages of his touch in the path they traced his skin.
Almost involuntarily, Wedge leaned in, and Luke twined his arms around the back of Wedge's neck and slowly but surely moved closer. He was about to be kissed, by Luke, and while his brain had given up entirely on processing that fact, his body reacted in overdrive, heart racing and his palms going clammy, his skin prickling with anticipation. He wanted the kiss desperately and was terrified of it at the same time, but it didn't really matter what he was feeling because Luke moved steadily closer and covered Wedge's lips with his.
Luke's lips were warm, and soft, and comfortable. That was a surprise, from the way Luke moved, the way he wound himself around Wedge's body, Wedge had expected something messy and passionate and open-mouthed. It was almost anticlimactic, Luke was being so careful to keep the kiss chaste.
It took Wedge a second to realize what a gift that was. The angle Luke had picked shielded most of the kiss from the audience. It looked good, Wedge could tell by the cheers from the audience and the hooting from the Rogues, but Luke was giving him an out, if he needed it.
Wedge blamed the adrenaline for what happened next.
A sort of determination stole over him, this sense that he didn't need coddling. They were married, for god's sake. They had to make this look good for the next four years. He couldn't just sit there and let Luke do all the work.
Wedge's hand fit to the small of Luke's back, his other came up framing the curve of Luke's jaw. He used the leverage and tipped them back, Luke going off balance with a shocked gasp. Wedge pressed in and kissed him again, feeling satisfied at the sound of the audience yelling even louder.
He could feel Luke smiling against his mouth, murmuring, 'Well, fine,' so softly only Wedge could hear. Luke's arms tightened around his neck and Luke moved against him with purpose, the kiss transforming into something sinuous and searing, and Wedge wanted to open his mouth, wanted to taste Luke, couldn't wait to get Luke alone and get him out of the suit—
That thought came to an abrupt halt, all the thoughts after it smashing into it in a pile-up of complicated lust and longing. It was enough to let Wedge stagger back to his sense, to help Luke upright again and turn to Chirrut for whatever words closed out the ceremony.
'Identity crisis later,' he told himself firmly.
Luke loosened his tie as the door swung shut behind them. "We made it," he said, sounding faintly exhausted. He pulled the tie over his head and loosened the top two buttons of his shirt, reaching behind to rub the back of his neck. He gave a slight groan as he rubbed, head tipping back, the long line of his throat revealed for Wedge. "Wasn't so bad, was it?"
"Neck," Wedge answered, blinking at the sight.
"What?" Luke tipped his head back up.
"Yes. I mean, no. It wasn't so bad." Wedge quickly walked further into the hotel room, a generous gift from Owen and Beru that they hadn't figured out how to turn down gracefully.
"Sorry about all the...um, kissing." Luke sounded awkward. "I had no idea that people would want to watch us kiss that...much."
"It's fine." Wedge managed to not sound too strangled.
It wasn't fine. It was the opposite of fine. It was either the best or worst thing that could have happened to him, and Wedge hadn't figured out which one yet. Wedge took a steady breath and tried to pull himself together as he turned back around to face Luke. "I probably should have been expecting it."
Luke gave a lopsided grin. "Yeah." Luke gave a tiny cough. "Um, just, for the record, you're good at that. Kissing. Just my...professional opinion."
Wedge wanted to die. Or die laughing. God, he just needed five minutes to himself to figure out what was going on, but instead he had been dragged from ceremony to reception without any break, people constantly clinking their silverware against their glasses, a demand for more kisses. They had kissed so much it was almost normal, Luke slotted up against him, the long presses and the teasing pecks, the affectionate little nuzzle of his nose.
It was fake.
Except Wedge's body didn't know that, Wedge's skin felt addicted to having Luke close, having an excuse to touch.
"You too," Wedge said, stumbling over the words, "You're...great. At, you know, that."
Not that Wedge had any standard of comparison.
And that was the problem, wasn't it? Wedge had spent his whole life avoiding the entire idea of romance. Of attraction. It was just another thing his parents had planned out for him, and the longer it seemed like he wasn't interested in anyone the longer Wedge could keep that part of his life out of their hands.
Luke, fortunately, seemed entirely oblivious to the screaming in Wedge's brain. He moved through the room, poking at the corners, shedding his jacket as he went. Luke completed the circle and turned toward the bed, his hands on his hips. "That's hilarious," he said, his voice utterly deadpan.
Wedge turned around, actually taking in the bed for the first time. It was deep maroon and vaguely nest-shaped, a huge circle with pillows lining the outside, clearly intended for cuddling. "I can take the couch," Wedge said, quickly.
"What couch?" Luke asked with a wry grin.
Wedge looked around the room. "Damn."
"I'm good sharing. You don't snore that much."
"I don't snore at all!"
"I have heard you sawing logs on our couch, buddy…" Luke paused. "Huh, guess we can't really justify you sleeping out there anymore, either. Probably for the best we get used to close quarters."
Wedge's mind latched on to the image of Luke stretched out next to him, to the idea of being able to roll over and wrap himself up in Luke's warmth, stealing lazy morning kisses. Wedge shoved that image away.
This was so stupid. What, his dumb heart was going to just trip and fall to pieces over the first person he felt even the slightest hint of attraction for?
"Oh. Oh my god. Wedge, Wedge look!" Luke's hand caught his wrist and whirled him around, putting him face to face with—
"I didn't think those actually existed." Wedge said, blinking at the bright red heart-shaped jacuzzi.
"We've gotta try it."
Luke was already reaching forward and twisting the handles. Once the water was flowing, he grabbed his bag and headed toward the bathroom. "Make sure it doesn't overflow," he called over his shoulder, leaving Wedge to stare worried between the tub and the bathroom door.
For the lack of anything better to do, Wedge sat on the side of the ostentatious tub and ran his fingers under the flow, letting the almost-too-hot water cascade over them. He watched the water catch on the gold band on his finger.
He was married. For all that it was fake it was also real, legal and binding and it tied Luke and him together. They had understood this. They were going to pretend to be a couple in public, and in private, back to being what they always were to each other. Solid. Dependable. Friends.
That was the deal. Wedge couldn't go changing the deal, now that it was set.
"Alright, your turn!" Luke said cheerfully, emerging from the bathroom dressed only in his swimsuit. Wedge hoped he wasn't too obvious, with the way he couldn't take his eyes off of Luke. All the skin that he had seen before, on trips to the lake and mid-change at the gym, seen without any particular trouble or interest, it was all suddenly captivating. Wedge's hands wanted to touch and his mouth wanted to taste, he wanted to draw Luke closer and strip the shorts off and just know everything.
Luke arrived in front of him and stopped. Wedge's eyes flew up to meet Luke's, to find Luke giving him a curious expression. Luke swayed a little closer, tongue darting over his lips, and Wedge almost drew him in for another kiss, based on a quickly-developing instinct.
But then Luke started and glanced away, shoving the bag at Wedge without comment. Wedge watched him. That was…
Did Luke want...?
Luke is gay, some traitorous part of his mind whispered. He hated it, instantly. Attraction to men didn't mean that Luke was on offer, it didn't mean that Wedge could just take what he wanted.
Wedge grabbed the bag and walked toward the bathroom.
But what if it was what Luke wanted, too? What if it wasn't just Wedge taking, what if he could give something to Luke, too?
That thought warmed him as he struggled out of his suit layers, the idea that he could go in there and lay himself down on top of Luke, the idea that Luke would want him there just as much as Wedge wanted to be there. It wasn't impossible. In fact, it felt so tangible that Wedge could imagine the shift of Luke underneath him, could almost feel Luke's lips on his again.
And then what?
A part of Wedge's brain was more than happy to supply that fantasy, spinning the scenario out even further, but Wedge stopped himself. For all his parents' sins, they had taught him how futile blind optimism was. Wedge was more at home with grim practicality.
Wedge had just gotten married to Luke, and no matter what their intentions were, a wedding ceremony was designed to create feelings of intimacy.
This was a dramatic time in general, Wedge's entire life was changing day by day.
Luke was the person he had the closest and healthiest connection to in his entire life.
Wedge had to be fucking careful.
This was all too new, too fresh. It was too dangerous. Wedge carefully packaged up the sudden attraction, the wistful desire, the longing for touch, and tucked it to the back of his mind. He wasn't going to do anything about it, he told himself firmly. Continue on like he always had.
And yet...he couldn't banish it entirely. He made a quiet promise to himself, as he pulled on his swim trunks, that he'd think about it. Maybe someday, if it didn't go away, he'd find a way to talk about it. But for now, he'd hold it like a precious secret, something for him and him alone.
That set, Wedge went back into the room. And immediately burst out laughing. "Luke?"
A wet blond head poked out of the massive pile of bubbles that now sat on top of the jacuzzi. "I think I used too much!" Luke sounded delighted.
Wedge considered the scene. He walked over to the small bubble mountain, lifted a handful of bubbles up, and blew them in Luke's face. As Luke batted the foam out of the way, laughing, Wedge grinned and said. "Seems like the right amount to me."
Luke shook his head, looked affronted, and then grabbed Wedge's shoulders, hauling him into the tub.
Wedge yelped as he went, landing with a splash. He surfaced, spluttering, trying and failing not to inhale bubbles. He splashed out in Luke's general direction, and a startled laugh let Wedge know that he had scored a hit. They fell into a laughing, splashing tangle of limbs.
It was fun, it was easy, and Wedge thanked god that whatever switch had been flipped in his brain hadn't ruined this.
They play-fought for a while, before relaxing back into the thankfully shrinking mountain of bubbles, talking through their day as the soft popping echoed around them.
They ordered room service, sat cross-legged on the ridiculous bed and ate fried chicken, flipping through the hotel's television channels to try to find something not-terrible. They settled on a wildlife documentary, narrating the fish as they swam by.
Wedge relaxed into the ease of it, of just being goofy with his best friend. He was enjoying himself. He'd get to enjoy life, just like this, for the next four years.
The awkwardness threatened to come back around bedtime, Luke managed to break the worst of it by saying, "Normally, I'd say I'm taking the right side, but I really don't know how to do that with a circle."
"It's not a very practical bed design," Wedge agreed.
They chuckled, and tried to figure out how to fit in the bed, finally settling like two parentheses, face to face, curving toward each other.
Luke yawned, and Wedge couldn't help an affectionate smile. He looked adorable.
Luke caught his expression and smiled back. "Hey Wedge?"
"I had fun today," Luke blinked, eyes staying shut a moment too long before he opened them again.
"Me too," Wedge said softly.
"Good. I just…" Luke yawned, his eyes sliding shut again. "Jus' wan..." Luke trailed off, and as Wedge watched his breathing turned deep and even.
"I had a really good time," Wedge whispered to Luke's now-sleeping form. He reached over, finding the blanket settled around Luke's waist and dragged it up, tucking Luke in.
As his hand ran over Luke's shoulder, Luke made a happy noise. Wedge couldn't help himself, he reached out under the blanket and touched Luke's shoulder again. He smiled when Luke repeated the same happy sigh, and let his hand linger there.
Lingered a little too long, apparently, as Luke grunted, and then rolled over, tucking himself against Wedge as a little spoon, Wedge's arm now draped over him, nearly cuddling.
Wedge froze, waited a double handful of heartbeats for Luke to wake up, to laugh, to brush it off as a joke. But Luke didn't do any of that, he just wiggled his way in closer. Slowly, hesitantly, Wedge let his arm drop, wrapping around Luke.
This was not a part of their deal.
But it was really nice.
Wedge had fuzzy memories of sneaking into his older sister's room after a nightmare, curling up next to Syal and being so grateful for her quiet soothing. That had ended when Syal gently told him to only come if it was really bad, they could both get into a lot of trouble, otherwise. Wedge had never crept down the hallway after that. He didn't want to be where he wasn't welcomed.
Wedge looked down at Luke. Luke had rolled against him. It didn't have to be a thing. Just something friends did. If it was unwanted, they could talk about it in the morning.
Wedge relaxed, giving up and giving in to the satisfaction of holding someone else close. Hungry for touch, he curled around Luke and held him tight. It felt good. It felt so good.
Feeling guilty despite his best rationalizations, Wedge sank into sleep.
That's right, the pining is now MUTUAL. Wedge is very confused. Additional thanks goes to RogueShadows again, for finding the most ridiculous pictures of honeymoon suites so we could really set the stage, here. :D
Feel free to hang out with me on Tumblr.
Note: Next weeks update will likely be skipped, due to spotty internet access. We'll be back 10/13 (maybe 14).
Chapter 4: Freshman Year: A Birthday
Luke woke up, utterly relaxed, a warm arm wrapped firmly around his chest and his calf trapped between a pair of strong legs. Luke held very still, kept his breathing steady and even, and let himself enjoy the feeling of being held.
Eight months since their wedding and he had almost stopped feeling guilty about it. Luke fell asleep on his side of the bed and woke up tucked against Wedge's chest. These soft morning moments before Wedge woke up were precious to Luke, quiet moments of feeling safe, cared for, held tight.
Sometimes, he even let himself believe it was real. That Wedge, when he woke up, would kiss the back of Luke's neck, would slide his hand under Luke's shirt, would say, 'Morning, love.'
He tried not to let himself think that way too often. It just hurt. It also felt ungrateful. Aside from the small fact that it was a complete sham, Luke thought that Wedge and he had a pretty good marriage.
Wedge stirred, next to him, yawn by Luke's ear. Wedge wiggled slightly and tugged Luke closer. Luke felt his toes curl in delight. It was going to be a good morning.
"Morning," Luke said softly.
"Mornin'." Wedge said, not letting him go. "Sleep okay?"
"Yeah." Luke pressed his luck, tipping his head slowly backward until it was brushing against Wedge's nose. He was rewarded by Wedge pressing his forehead against Luke's hair.
Most days, once Wedge realized Luke was awake, he uncurled quickly. Luke had gotten pretty good at hiding his dismay and rolling back over to his side of the bed. But lately, something had changed, Wedge had gotten lazier, or more used to the whole thing, and would stay cuddled up to Luke.
It wasn't exactly what Luke wanted, but it was more than he ever thought he would get.
"Oh," Wedge said, voice turning up like he had just remembered something, "happy birthday." Wedge nudged forward with his nose, an affectionate almost-nuzzle that was pretty much all the birthday gift Luke needed.
"Thanks." Luke gave a happy sigh. "And it's on the weekend. We get to sleep in, relax, whatever we want. I definitely want that birthday dinner you promised me."
"You sure you don't want a party?" Wedge asked, for about the hundredth time.
"I'm sure," Luke insisted. "College is a...lot."
"You've been studying like crazy. You deserve a break."
"So much biology," Luke said, sounding despairing. "I'm getting the break I want. I just want to hang out with you. Owen and Beru will be down next weekend. That's more than enough."
Wedge gave a dubious grunt but followed it with, "Alright."
Wedge stayed curled up next to him for another glorious half minute before he sighed and shifted, untangling from Luke. Luke barely managed to stifle a grumble. Wedge always sounded reluctant to let him go, which made Luke just want to beg him to stay.
"You stay there," Wedge said, giving his shoulder a squeeze. "I'll make you breakfast. Birthday treat."
"Not going to say no to that." Luke snuggled back into bed.
Luke drifted, half-awake, enjoying the sound of a pan on the oven and the scent of bacon filling the air. A major advantage to marriage that neither of them had considered was that married student housing actually came with a small kitchen. Apparently something about 'I do' made college administrators more likely to trust you with fire. They traded off cooking for each other. It was a good life skill.
Luke was still luxuriating in the lazy morning when there was a knock on the door. He sighed and lifted his head from the pillow, to see Wedge walking past. Wedge shook his head and gestured for Luke to lay back down.
Luke did, at least until he heard the door open and a familiar voice say, "Hey, I'm looking for—Wedge Antilles?"
Luke darted out of bed and started looking for his shirt. He found one of Wedge's first, grabbing it and tossing it over his head as he heard Wedge answer, "Leia?"
Luke glanced over at the mirror and gave up his bedhead as a lost cause. He slipped out of the bedroom just in time to hear Leia say, "What are you doing here?"
"I thought you were looking for m—"
Luke cut Wedge off as he shouldered past him. "Leia!"
Leia's face smoothed out of its suspicious wrinkle. Leia was too dignified to look confused, she always jumped straight for suspicious. Or angry. Luke admired that about her. He felt like he spent too much of his life confused.
Like now. "You know Leia?" Luke asked Wedge.
"Luke, you're here...why is—no! You married Wedge?"
Wedge turned to Luke, "You know Leia?"
Luke rubbed the bridge of his nose. He felt like this was something that probably should have come up before now. "Leia, meet my husband Wedge, Wedge, meet Leia, my twin sister."
Wedge spluttered. "I—ah...what?"
Luke gave a wry grin, "It's a long story." He turned to Leia. "Happy birthday, sis."
Leia, with one last suspicious glance at Wedge, stepped forward to give Luke a hug. "Happy birthday. Rock, paper, scissors for who has to explain first?"
Luke and Leia settled around the table while Wedge went back to his meal. After five rounds of throwing matching signs, Wedge muttering things about psychic twins, Luke gave up, laughing, "I'll just go first. Wedge and I went to the same high school. We were both on the lacrosse team."
"Oh…" Leia paused. "Wait, is this the guy you had a massive crush on?" she continues, because she apparently wants to kill Luke.
"Still has a crush, I hope," Wedge shoots from the kitchen, playing his part effortlessly.
Oh, god. His sister knew the crush was real and didn't know the marriage was fake. His husband knew the marriage was fake, and hopefully thought the crush was too.
This was messy.
"Um, yeah. I married him." Luke gave Leia a lopsided smile.
Leia's eyes narrowed.
"How do you know Wedge?" Luke asked, desperate for a redirection.
Leia pointed at Luke. "We are coming back to the marriage thing, by the way, I am not done discussing this with you."
"But," Leia tucked her hand back away, folding her arms and resting on them on the table, "My dad knows Wedge's dad. I think they golf at the same country club or something. Wedge and I have been at the same stuffy parties since we were like, six years old. He's one of the few tolerable kids our age."
"Tolerable, thanks," Wedge said, dryly.
"No offense, but I always thought you were a bit boring. Certainly never expected you to run away with your gay lover. I would have paid more attention to you if I had picked up those vibes."
Wedge hummed. "Fair enough. The marriage was a spontaneous thing. Luke rubbed off on me."
"I'll be he did." Leia winked.
Luke once again considered all the advantages of spontaneous combustion. There had been a distinct lack of rubbing in their marriage. Not that he could tell Leia that.
"Right," Wedge said, decidedly pink himself, "Um. Your turn. You have...different parents."
"So observant," Leia deadpanned.
Luke added, "Gold star."
They grinned at each other.
"You should take this one," Leia said, settling back in her chair. "I'm offended you haven't told your husband about me already."
"It doesn't really come up in casual conversation," Luke muttered. He shook his head, "But, sure. Leia's my biological twin sister. Owen and Beru adopted me, Owen is our dad's step-brother." Luke drew his fingers in an imaginary chart, connecting the lines between families.
"But they weren't supposed to," Leia cut in, her determination to have Luke explain not lasting long. "My mom and dad were our biological mom's best friends. They were supposed to take both of us. So you should have met Luke at those posh parties, and I should have grown up with a brother. But then Luke was a feeble infant."
"You say that like it's my fault!" Luke turned to Wedge, "Leia's terrifyingly high-powered parents had to like...go save the world or something, and I was stuck in the hospital because sometimes that just happens to babies."
"My parents took me, and Owen and Beru came and watched Luke. It was supposed to be temporary, but they fell in love with how frail and helpless he was, and then they kept him. For some reason. No accounting for taste." Leia stuck her tongue out at Luke. Luke retaliated with a soft kick under the table.
"So, actual sister," Wedge said, still trying to catch up.
"Yeah. We got to spend some summers together. We text a lot."
"I wouldn't say a lot." Leia shook her head. "You're terrible at replying."
"He is, isn't he." Wedge nodded.
Leia and Wedge shared a sympathetic look, and Luke realized he might be in trouble.
"...Did we forget to invite you to our wedding?" Wedge asked, looking suddenly nervous.
Leia smiled. "You didn't know I existed, you're off the hook. But no, Luke did send the invitation. By text," she said, glaring at him.
"She was in Australia."
"A fact which you knew when you scheduled your wedding!" Leia's glare gained a certain depth of character.
"It was…" Luke trailed off. He still didn't have a good answer.
"My fault," Wedge said, and if Luke hadn't already been in love with Wedge he would have fallen then and there. "I really wanted to be together when we went off to college."
"At our age, traditionally accomplished by dating." Leia arched an eyebrow.
Wedge went quiet. "Yeah. Well. My parents…"
"Oh, yeah." Leia shifted in her chair. "I heard. They didn't really…?"
"Oh, they did. You know, they still have their lawyer send me regular contracts that say that if I agree to begin divorce proceedings they'll write me back into the will." Wedge gave a feral smile. "Haven't felt inclined to take them up on it."
Leia glanced from Wedge to Luke, looking concerned. Luke shrugged and nodded. It was true.
"Owen and Beru have been really great about the whole thing," Luke offered as a consolation.
"Well, of course." Leia rolled her eyes. "Still…" She looked like she was on the verge of saying something, before she tucked it away again. "...I'm miffed you got married without me vetting your husband. Still, better late than never!"
She reached into her bag and pulled out an honest-to-god list of questions. Luke and Wedge exchanged a worried glance.
Breakfast was the most delicious interrogation Luke had ever experienced.
Wedge had outdone himself, pancakes and bacon and eggs fried in little hearts. Luke blinked down at the eggs. Huh. The heart shaped molds were one wedding gift Luke would have sworn wasn't going to be used.
Leia had also outdone herself, a list of questions more invasive and comprehensive than their premarital counselling sessions had been. How did they meet? What drew them to each other? What did Luke see in Wedge? What did Wedge see in Luke?
"What do you see your future looking like?" Leia asked.
Luke took a drink of orange juice to mask the sharp pain of that question. Wedge, blessed, solid, very good liar Wedge, stepped in smoothly to fill the gap. "I want to join the Air Force. Fly. So after college will be determined by that, for me. I might not get in, but I want to see. Luke's been supportive," he said in a gentle prompt.
"Of course!" This was easier ground. "You get so excited when you talk about flying. I want to help you get there. As for me, you know..." Luke's smile turned giddy.
Leia grinned in return, for the first time in the conversation unabashedly happy, "You got into the pre-med program!"
Luke was embarrassed by the giggle, an actual giggle, that snuck out of him. "I did. I never thought I'd get here."
"That's because you've never believed in yourself enough." Wedge was looking at him fondly. "You almost didn't even apply."
"Luke," Leia scolded him.
"Don't worry, Wedge talked me into it." Luke smiled. "He's been really supportive too."
"Well that's…good," Leia said, slowly, coming to the conclusion as she spoke. "What about kids?"
It was Wedge's turn to start coughing.
"No plans," Luke said, shaking his head, feeling comfortable taking that one.
"Guess it's not going to happen by accident." Leia smiled. "So...how has married life been?"
Feeling like he was on more stable ground, Luke opened his mouth to get there. But before he could, Wedge reached over and took his hand, saying earnestly, "It's been amazing."
Luke couldn't help the smile in return. It had been a great eight months, it was true. He couldn't put into words, how good it felt to hear Wedge say that.
"I get to spend every day with someone who wants the best for me. With someone who supports me and listens to me and laughs with me. I couldn't imagine a better relationship."
And there was the pain, always waiting alongside the joy. Luke could certainly imagine a better relationship. Their marriage was great, but it was, ultimately, a performance.
Wedge paused, seeming to do some considering of his own. "Well, no, that's a lie, you could be a bit better about grocery shopping. You always wait until we run out of something I need so then I have to go get it." He turned back to Leia, "But, really, I'm so much happier with Luke than I ever was without him."
"I'm happier too," Luke added. It wasn't a lie. However much this hurt, he'd make the same choice again, and again. Life was better with Wedge in it.
"Good," Leia said softly, glancing from one of them to the other. "I'm glad to hear it." She put her fork down neatly, paired together with the knife, along the top of her plate.
Luke chewed the inside of his cheek as he glanced over to Wedge's plate, silverware in the same position. Must have taken the same etiquette classes. He found himself wondering how much of Wedge had seemed familiar, because it reminded him of Leia first.
"What are your plans for the day?" Leia asked.
"Be lazy and spend it with Wedge. College is busy enough." Luke shuddered slightly, thinking of his homework schedule.
"It is. But I want sibling time. I'm going to steal you for a couple hours, but I promise, I'll have you back to Wedge in time for a late lunch."
Luke thought about protesting, then thought about the chance that those protests would have any impact on Leia, and went back to the bedroom to put real pants on.
He emerged in jeans and his own shirt, his hair managed into something almost respectable. Wedge and Leia were still around the table. They both stood up when Luke walked back into the room, Wedge crossing over to him.
"Have fun today, baby," Wedge said, before wrapping him up in a kiss.
Luke's breath hitched and his heart slammed against his ribs. He was no stranger to kissing Wedge. They'd walk to class and Wedge would give him a peck before they parted ways. They'd go out to the movies and Wedge would kiss Luke's shoulder before laying down on it. They'd steal longer kisses over their dinners out, hamburgers between them as they kissed across the table.
But it was always, always when someone could see. They didn't have people over, not really. Their little dorm apartment was their own, and it was the one place they didn't kiss. Except now, Leia was here, and Wedge was apparently keen to sell the bit.
Considering how many times Luke had dreamed about kissing Wedge in the threshold of their bedroom, Luke wasn't complaining. Though, he thought as he kissed back, this was going to make not kissing Wedge in the future even more difficult.
That was Future Luke's problem, Present Luke decided, as he sank into the kiss. Too soon (but it was always going to be too soon), Wedge pulled back, smile on his face and thumb running across Luke's cheek. "I'll miss you."
"Oh lord you two are ridiculous, I am only stealing him for a couple hours. Come on, lovebird." Leia grabbed Luke's wrist and hauled him off.
Luke went, rueful smile on his face as he waved goodbye to Wedge.
"You want it," Leia said.
"I shouldn't," Luke insisted. "There are more practical things."
"Right." Leia waited another four seconds. "So put the owl down and walk away."
"It's like hugging a cloud." Luke squeezed the owl tighter. "Like hugging a marshmallow that's not going to get sugar all over you. It's like hugging the platonic ideal of the concept of squish."
"You have been taking too many philosophy classes."
"Possibly." Luke buried his face in the teal stuffed animal. "I'm still right."
"Well, that's my birthday present to you sorted, then." Leia pried the owl out of Luke's arms and took it over to the cash register.
Owl safely tucked away in a shopping bag (that Luke only squeezed to his chest once), Leia took him through the mall, through the parking lot, to a quieter park across the street. Once they were there, Leia looked around and nodded to herself, like she liked what she saw.
"Okay. What do you know about Wedge's parents?" she asked, urgently.
Luke gave a rough exhale. That explained why she wanted the privacy. "They don't like me. They're rich. They've been terrible to Wedge. He's not interested in any further contact with them, and I've been respecting that."
"Rich." Leia tilted her head to the side. "Yeah, that's one way of putting it. They're also powerful. Wedge's dad is the CEO of Antilles Holdings, which is one of those businesses that mostly owns other businesses. Which means he's not only rich, but he's got a lot of rich people who owe him favors. And you stole his heir," Leia said, the facts sounding dire as she laid them out plainly.
"Wedge," Luke said, bristling with defensiveness, "is his own person."
"You don't know what you're doing. Luke, I love you, but this sort of maneuvering is outside your element."
"You're right. But it is Wedge's. He knows what he's doing, and I trust him." Luke paused. "At least, when it comes to the parents stuff. He has no idea the rest of the time."
Leia's gave a small obligatory smile, which quickly fell off of her face. "I'm just worried about you. Wedge could really screw you over if he decides to go back to his parents."
"He's not going back. He was so miserable there. My relationship with him aside, he is happier away from them."
Leia didn't respond right away. They started walking again, a meander down the path. "You must really love him."
"I do," Luke said, feeling something fierce and aching in his chest. "I really do."
"We're just so young!" Leia threw her hands up in the air. "Sorry, Luke you must get this from everyone, but no matter how much I loved someone, the idea of saying, yep, you and me, the rest of our lives, is just so foreign to me. How did you know? How on earth can you know that it's Wedge forever?"
"I don't," Luke whispered.
"Well you must think that you've got a halfway decent chance of making it! Why else would you get married?"
"Student loans," Luke blurted out, a heavy weight coming off of him finally saying the words out loud. "Owen and Beru couldn't have afforded it, and Wedge's parents never would have let him do anything other than business. Marriage lets us fund Yavin under our own names."
Leia stopped walking and stared at him, her eyes narrowed. "What?"
"You can't tell anyone. Not even Owen and Beru know. If Wedge's parents found out..."
"It's not a legal marriage?"
"It's legal! It's just not real." Luke deflated. "Wedge and I weren't even dating."
“But why all the...fluff? He kissed you! You kissed him! He made you heart shaped eggs!"
"Because of Wedge's parents!" Luke said, desperately. "They'd sue me for sure, and if Owen and Beru knew they'd sue them too. I probably shouldn't have told you, but I had to tell someone and — "
"And I understand that world. Of course you should tell me." Leia put her hands on her hips. "You should have told me sooner!"
"What, over text?" Luke arched his eyebrows. "I may be new to this whole world of intrigue, but even I know that's a bad idea."
Leia, looking furious, muttered, "Fine."
They walked in silence a little longer, before Leia rounded on him again. "My parents would have helped with college, you numbskull."
Luke chewed his lip. "I did think of that. Eventually. After we were fake-real-engaged, before we got fake-real-married. But Wedge needed the out too. He would have been even more stuck than I was."
Leia looked at him, and her tight anger faded into something slightly horrified. "Oh no, Luke, when you say you love him..."
Luke's hand tightened on the bag holding the owl. "Not lying about that bit." He gave her a sad smile. "He's a great husband, really. Aside from the fact that he's straight and faking it."
Leia blinked a few times. "I'm...not sure he's straight."
"I think I'd know." Luke arched an eyebrow.
"Really? Have you talked about it with him? Or have you just shoved your head deep in denial-land? Because I know Wedge, Luke. I've known him for years. And I have never seen him look at anyone the way he looks at you."
"You knew him in the world he hated. Of course he didn't go looking. Besides, he was putting on a show for you, he's not like that when we're alone."
Leia grumbled. "He was cooking you breakfast before I got there. That wasn't a show."
"We're still friends. Marriage didn't change that."
"Platonic friends don't usually cook each other breakfast in bed."
"Platonic friends aren't usually married to each other. There's a lack of opportunity."
"Uh huh. And the kissing? He kissed you like he meant it."
"He's good at faking it! He's just...used to it by this point."
"Luke," Leia shook her head, planting her hands on his shoulders, "nobody is that good of a liar. Especially not Wedge."
Luke could feel himself crumple. There were times, a handful of moments, when Wedge's eyes on him felt appreciative, when the way Wedge touched him felt like a prelude to something romantic. Where Luke could close his eyes and almost, nearly believe that what they had was real.
But it wasn't. It couldn't be.
"Leia, please." His words were nothing more than a begging whisper. "Hoping hurts too much."
"Luke." Leia pulled him in for a rough hug. "You shouldn't have married him. You're going to tear yourself apart."
"I couldn't. He needed me. Maybe not the way I want him to, but..." Luke pulled away, giving her a matter-of-fact smile. "There's no way I'm leaving him. Not until this is done."
"You noble idiot." Leia glared at him, then insistently pulled him in for another hug. "I'll be here to pick up the pieces. And call me if Wedge's parents get too...uppity. We might be able to help."
"Thanks." Luke sighed, and let himself lean a little more against her. "No, really, thanks. You're the only one...everyone else thinks the marriage is real, so of course the love is real. Wedge thinks the marriage is fake, he thinks I'm just selling the bit. It helps, having someone who knows."
"I still think you're dumb."
"But I've got your back."
"I know that too."
Wedge looked up when Luke walked back into the apartment. "Leia coming in?"
Luke shook his head. "She sent her regards along, but she's got to get going. Her school is like...seven hours away, and she just came down to see me." Luke shook his head. He looked up at Wedge with a sheepish smile. "So, I am really sorry that I never mentioned you were getting a sister-in-law."
"Any other hidden family members?" Wedge asked.
"If so, they're hidden to me too," Luke said with a lopsided grin.
"I still can't believe—" Wedge shook his head. "What are the chances?"
"I know, right? In another life we met when we were like, four, and I was one of those rich kids you couldn't stand."
"I'd always like you," Wedge said, simply and with conviction.
Luke's heart tripped over itself. Silly thing kept hearing promises in Wedge's words. But still, romantic or not, forever or not, what he had with Wedge was good.
"I'd have liked you too," Luke said.
He and Wedge shared a smile, it was intimate, it was warm, it was enough.
SURPRISE FAMILY MEMBERS. I am pretty chuffed at figuring out this modern parallel that explains why the twins got different parents, not gonna lie.
Also, Luke and Wedge should really work on their communication skills. A sister is a big thing to miss.
I’m on Tumblr! Come and chat, or just leave a comment here!
Chapter 5: Sophomore Year: An Argument
"Seriously?" Wedge muttered, glaring at Luke.
Luke jerked back over to look at him, for the first time in three minutes not blatantly ogling the two shirtless upperclassmen lazily tossing a frisbee back and forth on the quad lawn. He at least had the good grace to look a little pink. Luke shook his head and looked back down at his work.
For thirty seconds, at least, before his eyes snuck back over to where the long-haired one was stretching up to make a catch, shorts sliding down his hip bones. Wedge heard Luke give a quiet gasp.
"For fuck's sake." Humiliation seared through Wedge's gut, poisonous and twisting, dull heat on his cheeks and bile in the back of his throat. He was right here and Luke was just ignoring him. Fine. So he couldn't measure up to those two, all sinuous muscle and sharp jaws. Didn't mean he had to stick around. Wedge shoveled his work into his backpack. "I'm out of here."
"Ah, hey, no, Wedge!" Luke called after him. A few moments later Luke came jogging up next to him, open backpack over his shoulder and arms full of paper.
Wedge didn't slow down. "You don't have to leave. Go on. Enjoy the show."
"Wedge." Luke sounded hurt. "That's not fair. I—please, slow down—I was just looking."
"You were eyefucking them," Wedge hissed. "Two seconds away from shoving your hand down your pants and just going for it."
He regretted the words as soon as he said them, watching the way Luke's face shut down, his jaw twitching and something furious in his eyes.
"How dare you I—" Luke stopped, looking around at where they were. "I am not having this conversation with you in public." Luke shoved his laptop into his bag and yanked it shut, fumbling twice with the zipper in his anger. With one last furious glance at Wedge he sped off, leaving Wedge blinking after him.
Wedge tightened his hands into fists, viciously suppressing the urge to shout after Luke that running away was his idea, Luke should get his own. Wedge stalked his way back towards their apartment, fuming with every step.
Sure, he had been...sharp. But they had been in public. Luke was supposed to be his while they were in public. In private, they'd retreat to their friendship, their careful considered distance. Wedge would rein himself in, hands to himself and nothing more than friendly affection. But when they were out, when people might see, then he could hold Luke however he wanted. He could tangle their feet together under the table, he could steal kisses as he walked by, he could wind his arm around Luke's waist as they walked.
They had gotten so good at pretending that Wedge had forgotten it was fake. So it felt like a real betrayal, when Luke had looked at someone else with such obvious lust.
Wedge stopped walking, shoved his hands in his pockets. He didn't really have the right to rule who Luke looked at, did he? He had gotten so focused on what he didn't have, what he couldn't have, that he had taken for granted what Luke was already giving him. Attention. Affection. He had gotten greedy.
They weren't each other's romantic partners.
Wedge buried his head in his hands. He took a deep, shaky breath, straightened, then walked the rest of the way back to the apartment. Nothing for it now. He was wrong. He'd have to apologize.
And yet the way Luke's eyes slid over those fucking beautiful men still made him want to tear things apart.
Wedge took another careful breath. He wasn't his father, emotionless and cutting. He wasn't his mother, all overdone tears and guilt. He wasn't going to be them. He thought of his sister, of Owen, of Beru, of his favorite professors, of his friends, of every person who he had watched, learning better ways to be human. Of Luke.
He could do this.
He walked into the apartment and let the door close behind him. Luke was at the table, his head buried in his hands. Wedge was suddenly taken back to that fateful day two years ago, when he had found Luke crying, trying to let go of the future he wanted. That time, Wedge had been the solution.
This time he was the problem. Hopefully he could fix it too.
"Hey." Wedge's voice was rough, even to his own ears.
Luke flinched at Wedge's voice. "Here to insult me some more?"
Suddenly, the apology Wedge had thought he would need to rip free word by painful word pushed at his throat, desperate to get out. Luke almost looked afraid of him. He needed to fix it. "No. I'm sorry, Luke, I shouldn't have said that."
"You're right. You shouldn't have." Luke sighed rubbing the bridge of his nose. "I try...really hard to not make you uncomfortable, okay? No porn, I don't jerk off where you might walk in, I change in the bathroom."
Luke glanced up and looked over at Wedge, then gestured impatiently to the seat across from him. Wedge realized he had frozen in the entryway. He slowly made his way over to the table and sat down, feeling a little dizzy.
Watching Wedge closely, Luke continued, "You could argue that's just being a good roommate, but it's more than that. I don't talk to you about guys I find cute. I don't share my crushes, I don't talk about how I like this body or that ass or whatever." Luke took a breath, that wobbled on the intake, and when he tried to start talking again, "So when—"
The words choked off with a sob.
Wedge stood up quickly and Luke glared at him. "We are"—his breath hitched but he pressed through—"not done talking. Sit back down."
"I'm just getting you some water," Wedge said. Almost begging, he said, "Please, let me get you some water."
Luke gave a reluctant nod and Wedge numbly circled the counter into their kitchenette, grabbing the pitcher out of the fridge and filling up a glass. Somehow, he had managed to mess things up worse than he had ever imagined. He would fix it. He had to fix it.
Wedge set the cup down in front of Luke, sat down, ready to listen.
Luke reached forward and took a sip of the water. "Thanks," he said, softly.
"Of course." Wedge tried to make the words as conciliatory as possible.
"Right." Luke took a breath. "Okay, so when..." Luke's words got thick again, and he broke off, shaking his head. "It was the first time! The first fucking time I get sidetracked by some cute guy in public, you go out of your mind. Wedge, I try really hard to make sure you feel comfortable, but I'm gay. It's the way I'm wired! And—" Luke took a shaky breath. "Look, I know we're in a strange situation. But I can't be okay with needing to hide that part of me from you. I can't."
Wedge stared at Luke, confused furrow wrinkling between his eyes. "I know you're gay, Luke."
"Yeah, but you don't have to deal with it."
"You just did! You had to deal with the fact that I find men attractive, and you flipped out! You made the whole thing sound so dirty. All I was doing was watching cute guys play frisbee." Luke sounded defensive. "And you made it sound like I was doing something wrong. I wasn't."
"You weren't." Wedge said, emphatic. "I know that, Luke I swear, I have no problem with the fact that—"
Luke was having none of it. "You do have a problem! How else do you explain what just happened?"
"I was jealous!" Wedge blurted out.
A deafening silence fell in the room. Wedge fought the urge to curl up and hide. He hadn't meant to say that.
But he probably needed to.
Luke stared at him, flabbergasted. "...what?"
Wedge spread his palms on the table, the space between his fingers. His stomach twisted around as Wedge took the quiet secret he'd been carrying next to his heart since their wedding night, and nudged it a little closer to the surface. "It still wasn't right. Okay? I get that and I'm not trying to justify it. But...the problem isn't that I don't want you looking at guys. The problem is that I wanted you looking at me."
Wedge felt a shiver run through him as he said the words, keeping his eyes firmly fixed on his hands. This felt like a mistake. He shouldn't have said...
"I...you...what?" he heard Luke stammer. "I'm going to need a little more than that."
"I've gotten used to us being together when we're out in public. Romantically. And..." the words stuck in Wedge's throat, but he shoved them out. "I've really liked it."
If they were going to fight, they were going to fight about the right thing, damn it.
"Wedge." Luke's voice sounded like a warning.
"I know that it's fake!" Wedge said quickly, trying to stave off whatever it was lurking in Luke's voice. "But I let myself enjoy it. I let myself...rely on it, a bit. I'm sorry."
Wedge paused. He waited to see if Luke said anything, eyes still fixed on his hands. He had never been good at vulnerability.
When Luke didn't answer, Wedge kept talking. "In the future, I—I won't put it on you. But please, let me walk away. I can't stop myself from getting hurt, and that makes me angry, and I get stupid if I don't have time to calm down."
"Right, of course." Luke said distantly. "I can see how chasing you down made things worse. Um..."
Luke went quiet for a long time, and Wedge finally tore his gaze off of his hands to look up at Luke. Luke was staring at Wedge, looking more than a little lost.
Luke winced as he saw Wedge look at him, and said, very quietly and rushed, "I'm sorry, I know this isn't the point, but you're straight."
Wedge gave a bitter laugh. "I don't know what the fuck I am, but straight isn't it. I want you too much for that."
And there it was, out in the open. Wedge wanted to look away from Luke but he couldn't, he couldn't bear to not know how Luke reacted.
Luke's eyes slowly went wide. He didn't look horrified. He didn't look happy either. Wedge's nerves twisted and doubled over on themselves, and he forced himself to stay still. Forced himself to give Luke time.
"How long?" Luke whispered.
"Since our wedding."
Luke's eyes tightened, he looked away. Wedge watched as Luke's fingers curled around the water glass, gripping it so tightly Luke's knuckles started to turn white. "Why—" Luke's jaw tensed, the words seemed to catch in his throat. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"We were married."
"Yes!" Luke glared at him.
"No! It wasn't what you agreed to. It wasn't what we were doing. I wasn't going to trap you with it." Wedge slumped, finally looking away from Luke. "Besides, at the beginning…" He gripped the side of the table, half-afraid he'd crawl under it in embarrassment if he didn't hang on. "...you were my first kiss."
The noise Luke made could best be described as a squeak.
Wedge pressed on, worried that if he didn't get the words out now he never would. "It was like a light turned on. And after that I just...every kiss was electric. That whole day I just...wanted."
"And then, we were alone, in a honeymoon suite together. That seems like an ideal time to mention something!"
"Mention what?" Wedge snapped, glaring up at Luke, "'Oh, hey, you're legally married to me now let's have sex even though that was never on the table.' I wasn't going to do that to you! It was so new. For all I knew it was a stupid crush that was going to vanish the next day."
Luke softened, anger gentling into something more conflicted. "Did it?"
"We wouldn't be having this conversation if it did. No. I still want you. I have this whole time."
Luke gave a frustrated sigh. "God, this is so stupid."
Wedge flinched. "I know. And I took advantage. I got used to what we did have. Which is why I freaked out this morning. I'm sorry."
Luke groaned, falling to the table with a dramatic slump, his forehead against the wood as he muttered, "No."
Luke took a deep breath and lifted himself up again. Slowly, deliberately, he reached out and put his hand over where Wedge was still gripping the table. He let his fingers curl, dragging slowly over the back of Wedge's hand. The touch was light, barely there, yet Wedge could feel it in his bones.
"Wedge. I have been doing the. Exact. Same. Thing." Luke tapped his fingers against Wedge's hand with every deliberate pause, emphasizing the words.
Wedge looked over at Luke, not able to believe what he was hearing.
"You had to have known!" Luke pressed his fingers against Wedge's skin. "Wedge! I have had a crush on you since three days after you showed up at our school. I wanted to kiss you for ages, even before we got married. I just thought you were straight! Come on! I am not subtle!"
Wedge shook his head. "I didn't—I didn't know, I never…"
"Maybe. I…" Wedge shook his head. "You've never looked at me the way you looked at the guys this morning. I would have noticed that."
"Yeah." Luke rolled his eyes, shaking his head. "Not when you could see."
Wedge felt his mouth go dry. Luke patted Wedge's hand twice, then stood up. He walked over to Wedge.
Wedge shivered as Luke moved close. Luke stopped next to his chair and held out a hand. "Come on."
Wedge took his hand. Luke pulled him up, out of the chair, and twisted so he was pushing Wedge backwards. He walked across the room, guiding Wedge, until his calves hit their couch. Luke pushed again, softly insistent, and Wedge let himself fall down onto the couch.
Luke stayed standing and looked down at Wedge. And oh. Oh. He looked. Luke's eyes glittered as his gaze dragged over Wedge. It was almost tangible, shivering excitement dancing along his body as Luke took him in. Wedge squirmed under the intensity of that gaze, and Luke licked his lower lip, pink tongue darting out in a mesmerizing gesture.
Wedge paused, then shifted more deliberately, legs spread a little wider, stretching an arm over the back of the couch. He would have felt ridiculous, playing at a magazine cover pose, but it was impossible to feel that way when Luke's eyes went dark with want. Wedge licked his lips, an echo of Luke's unconscious gesture earlier, and Luke groaned softly.
"You're beautiful," Luke said, fingers twitching like he was desperate to grasp. "God, Wedge, you're gorgeous. You always have been. I've always wanted to look at you. You know how hard it's been, keeping this to myself?"
"Yes." Wedge's eyes fell shut and he shuddered, as each moment of barely restrained desire in the past two years ran through him at once. He opened his eyes again and looked at Luke, pleading, "Will you kiss me?"
Luke swayed, and for a moment, Wedge was worried he might faint. Instead he stepped forward, nudging Wedge's right leg back toward his left. Wedge closed his legs, confused for half a second before Luke let himself fall onto the couch, knees bracketing Wedge's thighs, hands landing on either side of Wedge's shoulders.
"Hi." Luke grinned.
Wedge's breath hitched with how close Luke suddenly was, over him and around him. "Hey," he managed in return.
"You know," Luke said as he leaned closer, "We've kissed a lot."
"Not here," Wedge said, his throat so tight the words were barely audible. "Not just for us."
"Oh I like that." Luke was so close now that his breath danced along Wedge's skin. "Just for us."
Luke kissed him.
It was a kiss like all the others. Wedge knew Luke's lips, knew the shape of them, knew how to tilt his head to line their noses up. He knew the pressure Luke liked, knew the dance of pushing forward and drawing back, the different steps that made a kiss fun, or teasing, or full of yearning heat.
It was a kiss like nothing else, because this time, Wedge knew that Luke wanted it just as much as he did, and that changed everything.
The kiss was like coming home, like sinking into a place that was perfectly familiar and perfectly shaped. The kiss was like an adventure, like throwing himself off an airplane, into the howling wind and trusting his parachute to catch him. It was flying, it was falling, it was being perfectly held and safe.
Wedge reached up, wrapping his arms around Luke and pulling him down, until Luke's beautiful body was flush against his, hip to hip and still not close enough.
Luke pulled back from the kiss with a soft groan, then sank back down and kissed Wedge's cheek. He rested his own cheek against Wedge's, lips nearly brushing against Wedge's ear as he said, "Years, Wedge. We could have been doing this for years."
"Sorry," Wedge said softly, wrapping his arm even tighter around Luke. "I'm sorry, you were just…" Wedge splayed his fingers along Luke's back, arching his own to try to slot them even closer together. "You were too important. I had to be sure."
"And are you sure?" Luke asked.
Before Wedge could answer Luke took his earlobe between his teeth, worrying at it, and Wedge lost the ability to speak.
He found it again, long minutes later, Luke now underneath him on the couch, his shirt rucked up and Wedge's hands along his ribs. Wedge's shirt had vanished, somewhere, there was an unfamiliar heat and ache along his neck, where Luke's mouth had been worrying. Luke's head was thrown back, he was gasping, and Wedge never, ever wanted to let him go. "Yes. I'm sure."
Luke smiled up at him, debauched and radiant. "Good." He reached up, tracing his fingers around the shell of Wedge's ear, impossibly gentle. "Good. How important are your classes tomorrow?"
Wedge blinked at the sudden change of topic. "Not...particularly. Why?"
"Because we are both severely overdue on claiming our marital rights, and I think we should fix that, don't you?"
Wedge's elbows nearly gave out. "I...yes." He leaned down to kiss Luke again. "God, yes."
"That's what I thought," Luke purred, lifting up into the kiss. "I don't think we're making it to class tomorrow. And depending on how things go, maybe not even the next day."
Wedge woke up curled around Luke, his arm tossed over Luke's waist, his nose brushing the back of Luke's neck. Like they always did.
The part where they were both naked was new, though. Luke's breathing was still steady and even, and Wedge watched him sleep, the intimacy of it at the same time routine and completely unexplored. Wedge let his hand play across the cut of Luke's hip, still having difficulty believing that they were here.
Luke woke up slowly, with a happy yawn, and then rolled over in Wedge's arms, winding up nose to nose with Wedge.
"Morning," Wedge said, and then leaned forward and kissed the tip of Luke's nose.
Luke's nose wrinkled adorably. He smiled over at Wedge. "Mornin'. How are you feeling?"
Wedge stretched. "A little achy. I'm pretty sure that I used muscles last night that I have never actually used before."
Luke's laugh was bright, but he was shaking his head as he continued. "I meant more...emotionally. Any regrets?"
"No!" Wedge said quickly, surprised by the question. "I'm...are you?"
"No, no," Luke quickly said, running a soothing arm along the outside of Wedge's shoulder. "None. But I just wanted to check, before I did this," Luke said, and slid next to Wedge, kissing him deeply.
Wedge wrapped himself around Luke and threw himself into the kiss. When they surfaced, Wedge nuzzled against Luke's shoulder, wondering if Luke could feel his impossible smile against Luke's skin. "Still sure," he whispered.
"Good. Nobody should have to deal with my morning breath if they're not sure."
"I was dealing with your morning breath before," Wedge felt obligated to point out.
"You were." Luke groaned, pushing back and flopping over onto his back. "Why did it take us this long? We're married."
Wedge curled on his side, propping himself up on an elbow and looking over at Luke. "I've heard I'm oblivious."
Luke snorted. "You are. And kind, and careful, and respectful. So I guess you're alright, all in all." Luke beamed at him.
Wedge started to reach for Luke again, Luke was half a foot away and it felt too far. He wanted Luke next to him, wrapped around him, together in every way they could be.
Still, he hesitated.
Luke caught his concern. "What's wrong?"
"I want to touch you."
"In a very convenient turn of events, I want you to touch me." Luke's eyes narrowed. "I thought we just went over this."
"I—yeah, but, all the time." Wedge went a little red. "What are the rules? If you don't want me to, I don't want to—" Wedge groaned. "This is why people date first."
Luke laughed, bright and delighted. He reached over and grabbed Wedge's hand. He pulled, tugging Wedge along until Wedge was settled on top of him. "I don't think we need rules. We're married."
"How about this," Luke said, reaching up and running his hands along Wedge's back. "Go until I say stop. And I'll do the same. Deal?"
Wedge swallowed. It couldn't be that easy. But then again, it was Luke. In Wedge's clouded world, Luke had always been clear.
"Deal," Wedge said, and kissed him again.
Progress! They're talking!
Come talk to me! I’m on Tumblr, and of course, comments are the lifeblood of any author's soul. :) Also I just like chatting with you all.
Chapter 6: Junior Year: A Dinner
"Bone resorption is triggered by parathyroid hormone (PTH) under conditions of low calcium. PTH binds to receptors on osteoblasts which upregulate the expression of the…"
Luke's eyes started to cross. He blinked, shook his head, then stared even more intently at his laptop. Osteoblasts. Right. Upregulate...parathyroid...
The key jangled in the lock and Luke looked up, desperate for a reason not to try to cram more information about bone disorders into his head. Wedge walked in, holding an envelope. It was thick orange, legal-sized, and envelopes just like had once struck terror into his soul.
Well, at least, they had for the first semester of their freshman year. After that it had become routine. "Again?"
"It's been awhile," Wedge said with a rueful smile, "Almost thought they had given up."
"It's almost like a Christmas newsletter at this point," Luke closed the laptop, sealing his study guide away for the moment. He folded his hands on top of it and smiled over at Wedge, "Hello, former son! How are you? We decided to take a break from being fanned and eating grapes to let you know that you are still disowned."
"My dad always hated grapes." Wedge said absentmindedly as he opened the envelope. "I think they were too proletarian for him."
Luke snorted, and tried again, "I was in the middle of watching my servants polish a vase worth five bazillion dollars when I remembered my biological child and needed to remind them that they are never going to..."
Wedge had gone a little pale, reading the letter.
Wedge walked over to Luke and tossed the letter, official-looking cream linen paper, in front of him. Luke picked it up and started scanning, expecting to see the usual overly-polite legal threats, "Due to unconscionable action on your part...." blah blah how dare you be bi "...stewardship of the estate shall not fall to you or any legal heirs..." blah blah no money from us "....unless prompt action is taken to mitigate..." blah blah divorce your gay husband and give us socially acceptable babies.
The first time Wedge and Luke had gotten one of those notices had been stressful, going over the document with a fine-tooth comb to figure out if they actually had something on their marriage. But no, it was all threats and the hope that Wedge would eventually want the money more than he wanted to be married to Luke.
Fat chance of that.
This letter, though, read a little differently. Luke tipped his head to the side. "I'm not great at legalese, but is this saying…?"
"I'm back in the will." Wedge sounded utterly confused. "I'm...re-inherited?" Wedge rested a hand on Luke's shoulder, leaning over him to point with the other one, finger falling on a line of text that made Luke think that all the staring at the computer really was making him go blind. "And so are you."
"But...why?" Luke ran his fingers through his hair.
"I don't know." Wedge sounded quietly worried. "They must want something."
"Maybe there was a change of heart?" Luke asked.
"Luke." Wedge's tone was affectionate and weary. He leaned down and kissed Luke's cheek. "That's not how they work."
"Maybe Syal talked them around?" Luke pressed. "She likes me."
"Of course she does. She's not entirely unreasonable. They are."
Luke sighed, running his finger over the unexpected text. "But...they're recognizing me as your husband? Why else would they do that?"
"I don't know." Wedge collapsed down on Luke's shoulder, and Luke absent-mindedly reached up and played with his hair. "It's not good, though."
"So we ignore it, then," Luke said decisively. "Like we do with the rest of the letters. No big deal."
After a beat, Luke felt Wedge relax.
"Yeah." Wedge said, and for a split second, Luke could have sworn he heard something like regret in his voice. It passed quickly, as Wedge straightened, squeezing Luke's shoulders and kissing the top of his head. "How's studying?"
"I hate the MCAT."
"I'm going to be a yoga instructor."
"I'll support you in whatever you want to do."
Luke stretched expansively in his chair. "What about supporting me getting ice cream?"
"Studying is going that badly, huh?"
"My head feels like it's about to explode. My brain is actually pulsing against my skull, trying to escape…" Luke paused, then sighed and added, "...otherwise known as intracranial hypertension. Common causes are—"
"Ice cream." Wedge grabbed Luke's wrist, hauling him out of the chair. "My parents are being weird and you are drowning in medical facts. We both need a break."
Luke lifted the ice cream cone up, trying to lick at the edges of the chocolate-caramel-swirl before it managed to melt all over his fingers.
"This is why I get a bowl," Wedge said, licking the chai ice cream off of his spoon.
"You have no joy in your soul," was Luke's answer, delivered with an affectionate smile.
"None at all. It's entirely composed of practicality and pessimism." Wedge returned the smile, it crinkled the corners of his eyes.
Luke loved that smile. One of the great joys of his life was how often he got to see it. "Uh huh," he responded. "My grumpy husband."
"That's me." Wedge turned back to the bowl, slight blush showing on his face. Luke looked over at him and felt terribly wistful. His husband.
For another year, at least.
Luke turned his attention back to the ice cream cone. He was a coward. That was really the only way of putting it. He loved Wedge, he was married to Wedge, he was living with Wedge, he was sleeping with Wedge (in every sense of the word). They were happy, they were together, and there was a conversation that Luke kept avoiding.
What happens after we graduate?
He wanted to stay with Wedge...well, forever. They worked together. Luke didn't want to give it up. In his mind, Wedge was his husband. End of story. But there was a difference between making an actual lifelong commitment, which Wedge hadn't agreed to and being...whatever they were now. Husbands with benefits.
If Luke were braver, he would force the conversation. But when it came to Wedge, he was craven every time. He loved what he had too much to risk it.
Wedge's fingers gripped his chin, bringing Luke's face around to meet him. Luke raised his eyebrows.
"Can I try some?" Wedge asked.
"Yeah, sure—" Luke started to offer the cone to Wedge when, suddenly, Wedge's lips were against his, his tongue in Luke's mouth, spiced vanilla dancing with chocolate caramel.
Wedge pulled back, eyes sparkling. "Delicious."
"I feel like there were more practical ways of doing that, darling." Luke said, swaying slightly on his feet.
"I was multitasking." Wedge smiled. "I wanted to kiss you too."
They walked on, gentle laughter in their back and forth, the sun and the ice cream combining with the company to lay a softly joyous mood on them both. As they circled around, approaching their apartment again, Wedge slowed down. He sighed absentmindedly as he fumbled for his keys.
"The letter," Wedge admitted as he fumbled past the mail key and the key that let them into the gym room, finally getting his fingers around their door key. "I know I should just ignore it but I don't understand it. I've never particularly liked my parents, but I thought I understood them."
Luke reached over and squeezed Wedge's shoulder. "People change? You haven't been around them much in the last few years."
"They couldn't have changed that much." Wedge said. He looked over, something hunted behind his eyes. "Nice as it would be."
Luke reached past Wedge and grabbed the keys. He bullied Wedge inside, sat down on their couch, and proceeded to pull Wedge down into his lap. Wedge curled against Luke, resting on Luke's shoulder, easy with the intimacy.
Luke kissed Wedge's forehead, so pleased that they had finally gotten to a place in their relationship where Wedge could accept comfort. "They don't know what they're missing," Luke insisted, holding Wedge close to him.
Luke emerged from his Principles of Bioethics class, mind swimming with the myriad of horrible ways the medical profession had not always practiced the principles of informed consent. Focused on that rather grim subject, it was somewhat understandable that the soft, "Luke," next to his ear made him jump nearly a foot in the air and spin to face the sudden interloper.
The interloper was a stunning blond woman—tall, with sky blue eyes and perfectly coiffed hair. She regarded him with an amused smile, reaching forward to lay a manicured hand on Luke's arm. "I'm terribly sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."
"Syal?" Luke stammered. Something about Wedge's perfectly poised sister always made him uneasy. He wasn't sure why. She had always been courteous to a fault, charming and warm in the handful of times she had stopped by to insist on taking him and Wedge out to the sort of lunch that neither of them could afford, these days.
Come to think of it, that's probably why he was uncomfortable. Who on earth could manage to be perpetually cordial?
"Wedge isn't around here. He's, um, in class." Luke finally managed to say.
"I know." Syal looked just barely chagrined. "I was hoping to speak to you, actually."
"Walk with me." Syal took his arm and started walking Luke down the path, toward the university gardens. Luke threw a wistful look in the direction of the cafeteria, but not finding any graceful way to extricate himself, allowed Syal to guide him onward.
After they strolled away from the majority of the students, Syal apologized. "I know this is terribly presumptuous, but I wanted the chance to speak with you."
"It is a little strange." Luke took a breath and stopped walking. "What is this about, Syal?"
Syal smoothly gestured them over to a nearby bench. "Please, sit."
Warily, Luke sat. Syal folded her hands in her lap before saying, "My parents let me know that they've finally changed their minds on their appalling treatment of you."
Luke's jaw tightened. "How they've treated Wedge is the larger concern."
Syal waved that off. "We both know that if it weren't for you, Wedge would still be living the neat and orderly life set out for him. Certainly, he's always...chafed more than I have with the dreams our parents had for our lives, but it wasn't until they asked him to give you up that he found something worth defying them for."
"That seems like an...oversimplification." Luke's forehead furrowed.
Syal placed her hand softly on Luke's knee. "Perhaps. But, Luke, I must admit, I was wary of you when Wedge announced his engagement. Families as powerful as ours must always be careful of those that want to drain us dry."
Luke grunted, indignantly.
Syal patted his knee and withdraw her hand. "Very quickly, of course, I saw how wrong I was. Wedge is profoundly happy around you. And now, you and Wedge have been on your own for years, never the slightest indication that you were trying for his trust fund, more than you were trying for his heart. Finally, it seems our parents see it that way too."
Luke wanted to believe that what Syal was saying was true. But Wedge's suspicions had worked their way too far inside his mind. "It's just out of the blue! They haven't spoken to us in three years and then all of a sudden we're supposed to be fine?"
Syal's voice turned cold. "No, of course not, and I would never attempt to justify their treatment of you." She visibly softened, before continuing, "And yet, I am concerned, that Wedge will insist on carrying a grudge."
"He'd have every right," Luke said, loyalty provoking anger.
"But would it really make him happy?" Syal shook her head, blond waves drifting as she looked profoundly sad. "I love Wedge dearly. I love our parents too. They're not monsters, you know. They want what's best for him. I just want…" Syal trailed off.
She tipped her head back, and Luke caught the shine of tears. She reached up and carefully dabbed them out of the corner of her eyes. Her voice wavered as she continued, "I want my family together...I got engaged, did you know that?"
"I...didn't. Congratulations?" Luke felt a little awkward congratulating someone while they were still pretending they weren't crying.
"Thank you." With one last sniff Syal seemed to compose herself. She smiled. "It's not particularly unexpected. We've been seeing each other for a while and our parents approve. None of the courage that your engagement required. Still, I love him very much, and it would make me happy if Wedge were at least on speaking terms with family by the time the wedding came around."
Luke gave a slow nod. "I can...see that."
"I like to imagine that they knew that, that's why they are making the overture to the two of you. I can't…obviously I can't say why they decided to change their minds, but I just want…if they reach out, Wedge will refuse them. Unless you talk him around."
Luke stood up, folding his arms, feeling uncomfortable. "I'm not lying to Wedge for his parents sake."
"No!" Syal stood too, hands open, "I'm not asking for that. Tell him I was here, tell him that you spoke with me, tell him about my engagement. Be open. I'm just asking that you consider trying to convince him to reconnect with his family."
Luke sighed, unfolding his arms. "No promises. I'll think about it."
"That's all I ask." Syal smiled. She stepped forward and hugged Luke, who stiffened before he slowly returned the hug. When Syal stepped back, she patted Luke on the cheek. "I'm glad Wedge is happy. He was always so grim, my baby brother. You're taking good care of him, Luke."
Syal hadn't wanted to stick around until dinnertime and tell Wedge about her engagement himself, so Luke had the distinctly dubious pleasure of serving as Wedge's family go-between. He was quickly learning he hated the job.
"Of course she did." Wedge sighed as he stabbed at the veggies on his plate. "She's been dating Fel for forever. The parents were getting impatient. He's a baron, you know." Wedge splayed his fingers against his chest and leaned in—a gossipy little gesture. "An honest-to god baron."
"Baron of what?"
"I don't know," Wedge said, rolling his eyes.
"So...what do you think about the rest of it? What will you do if your parents reach out?"
Wedge sighed and put down his fork. "They already have."
"Oh...really?" Luke shifted in his chair, something pricking and uncomfortable running up and down his spine. "I didn't—"
"I thought we had agreed we were ignoring them." Wedge was hunched, staring down at his plate.
"Yeah! I mean, that's fine. I just thought it was a hypothetical...you know...thing. I didn't realize…"
"It's just going to hurt, Luke." Wedge looked up, pleading. "I've tried, before. Tried to be that perfect son they were looking for. It was never enough. Nothing's changed. It's still not going to be enough."
Luke glanced down at his plate. "You would know."
The room was quiet for a minute, before Wedge said, "That's it? No argument?"
"No." Luke sighed. "I don't know them like you do. I get that. I know that I couldn't imagine life without Owen and Beru and Leia, but they're way different people than your family. You're the one who decides if they get a second chance. Not me."
They went silent for another moment. Luke halfheartedly pushed the vegetables around his plate. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Wedge pull out his phone. Wedge typed into it, sighed, pushed another button, then set it down on the table. He glared over at Luke. "You're coming too."
Luke's eyes widened. "Really? You're going to go?"
"We're going to go. I still think it's going to go poorly, but I owe Syal, might as well let her get a dinner in with the fiancée. And besides, once we go, maybe I'll understand a little better what their game is."
Luke glanced up at Wedge, deciding against saying something like, 'And maybe it'll just go well.'
Wedge looked over at Luke, wry smile on his face as he caught Luke's expression. "You optimist."
"I said nothing!"
"You didn't have to," Wedge's smile grew, melting the serious lines in his face. "Well, optimist, I will say this. This is, by far, the best meal I'm ever going to have with my family."
"You'll be there." Wedge winked at Luke, before returning to his dinner, his absent enthusiasm for the meal seemingly returned.
Luke let that statement warm him, as he returned to his own plate.
Wedge knocked on the door, then a taller Wedge opened it.
Well, not literally, but it might as well have been, for how much Wedge looked like his father. Wedge's father had more wrinkles around his eyes, a heavier set to his jaw and cheeks, but they were unmistakably matched. Luke noticed with some amusement, that Wedge's father's hair had less grey than Wedge did. Luke had spent more than one lazy morning picking his way through Wedge's hair, crowing at the handful of silver strands hiding in his near-black brown. Wedge's dad had the same hair, there was no way he didn't dye it.
They were tersely gestured in, effusively crowed over by Wedge's mother, who was the explanation for where Syal got her blond hair and more delicate features. Luke was relieved when they were passed off to Syal, who was much more grounded in her warm greeting, graciously introducing her fiance, the Baron Soontir Fel.
Luke managed a passable handshake. He could see why Wedge's parents liked this guy, broad shoulders and square jawed, he reeked money and class. Luke suspected the only thing he reeked of was test anxiety. Maybe formaldehyde. That smell never washed off entirely.
Still, introductions managed, and no major disasters.
Wedge was wound bowstring-tight, ill at ease in a way that Luke had never seen him. Luke reached over and laid his hand on Wedge's lower back, letting his fingers stroke along the edges of his waist. Wedge didn't relax, but he did lean into Luke's hand, and Luke decided that was enough of a win for today.
They went off to the front room, alcohol poured for everyone except Wedge and Luke, who were given soda water without any question of what they might want. Wedge bristled as he settled into the velvet couch next to Luke, and Luke winced internally. Wedge's twenty-first had come and gone, even if his parents weren't inclined to celebrate it, they could at least remember it. Owen and Beru had come down and taken Wedge out to a bar, Beru teaching him to shoot pool while Owen and Luke caught up over onion rings.
Luke, however, was privately glad of the soda water. He was pretty sure if he spilled anything that could stain on this couch, replacing it would bankrupt him.
Wedge's father spoke about the business, an innocuous, if boring topic. Apparently the investments were going well. Luke nodded along, feeling confident in that one.
"Eventually, of course, I hope to retire. I'll have to begin the tedious process of finding an adequate replacement."
Wedge's father shot an entirely unsubtle glare at Wedge. Wedge gave no outward response, but Luke imagined he could hear Wedge's teeth grinding.
"Ah, yes, what does that look like? I'm always so curious to learn how leaders of the industry manage their companies," Soontir asked, leaning in.
Wedge's father seemed slightly thrown off by a reasonable follow-up question. "Oh, ah...my board and I will prepare a list of appropriate qualities, experience, and a shortlist of candidates. I had hoped…" Wedge's father looked meaningfully over at Wedge. "That certain names would be on the list. Unfortunately, they no longer appear to be suitable candidates."
Luke sighed and looked down at his soda water. It was going to be a long dinner.
They eventually escaped the living room, moving into the dining room where the chef ('You have a chef?' Luke had asked Wedge years ago, Wedge turning red and changing the subject quickly) had prepared a...cold fruit soup of some kind. It was tasty, and that was the extent of Luke's culinary knowledge.
Soontir, after complimenting the watermelon gazpacho for its brightness of flavor, turned his attention to Luke and Wedge. "So, Syal's told me a bit about you, but I'm interested in knowing more. You're both at Yavin?"
Luke glanced at Wedge, who was glowering down at his soup, and decided to take this one. "Yes. Pre-med, I'm in the middle of MCAT prep at the moment and it's…a bit of a nightmare, I don't mind telling you."
Soontir raised his eyebrows, "That's a hard program, impressive."
"Yes, Luke dear, it's so fascinating that you're going to be a doctor!" Wedge's mom cut in, warbling her thoughts across the table like a vapid songbird.
Luke tried to smash that down and think charitable things. He was a guest. His parents had taught him better than this.
Luke's resolution to be a better human lasted about half a second, until Wedge's mother continued, "I do so wish Wedge were doing something safe instead of his dreadful plan to join the Air Force." Her mouth turned melodramatically downward.
Luke took another glance over at Wedge, glaring hard at his soup, knuckles white from how hard he was gripping his spoon.
"I think it's important that everyone has the chance to pursue their passions," Luke said, trying to sound cheerful but firm.
Wedge's mother gave a dramatic sniff. "We're just not built for that sort of...physicality. Our battles are better fought in boardrooms. We tried to give Wedge that life, but he never really appreciated it."
Nothing kind came to mind, and once again, Owen and Beru had taught him what to do. Luke flattened his lips together and said nothing.
The soup was replaced by a salad, which was theoretically delicious—lemony with a seared chicken on top. Luke was quickly losing his appetite, mostly just desperate to escape the never-quite-outright assault on Wedge.
What was worse was the way Wedge was reacting. He wasn't standing up for himself, or fighting back, he just glowered down at his food. This wasn't the Wedge that Luke knew, and for the first time, Luke could really understand why marriage and escape had held so much appeal.
"So, Syal, how are the wedding plans going?" Luke asked, in a desperate bid to steer the conversation away from Wedge and his apparent many failings.
He really, really should have seen it coming. Syal managed half a minute about her tentative wedding plans before Wedge's father cut across her description, "I trust we'll be invited, at least."
"Well, of course!" Syal answered. As soon as the words left her mouth she flushed slightly, shooting a glance at Wedge and Luke.
Wedge's father coughed. "At least you have some sense."
Luke viciously speared a strip of chicken.
"Of course...our guestlist is going to be in the hundreds. Everyone is going to be invited." Syal's recovery fell flat, but Luke appreciated the effort.
"I should hope you'd want your mother and I there, no matter the number."
Syal winced, but there was really no other answer than the one she gave. "Of course."
"I still can't believe—" Wedge's mother began dramatically, before she cut herself off with a hitching sob and reached for her water. Once she was finished drinking, she said, "You have no idea how hard it is when your child decides they don't want you in their life."
Luke considered himself to be a peaceful, loving human being. He tried hard to squash his worst impulses, to greet the world with an open heart and a sense that the things that were broken could be fixed. That irritations were an opportunity for growth and understanding.
And yet, he glanced down at his yet-unused steak knife, the only growth he felt was a growing understanding of just how easy it might be to stab someone.
"But, still, we're willing to overlook the hurtful impulsivity," Wedge's mother said, dripping with gracious indulgence. "After all, there's nothing more important than family."
Luke very carefully set his fork down and folded his hands in his lap.
The salad was cleared, steaks were brought out, and underneath the table, Wedge's hand covered both of his. There was a reassuring squeeze, before Wedge retreated again. Luke took a deep breath, and forced himself to settle.
Just in time for the next assault.
"Though, despite the...reckless nature of the event, it seems that Wedge picked a good partner, at least." Wedge's father said.
Luke blinked at his plate. He couldn't have heard that right.
"That's true!" Wedge's mother said enthusiastically. "Luke, dear, I do so look forward to getting to know you better!"
Luke gave a weak smile down the table, very, very confused by the sudden turn the conversation had taken.
"Imagine my surprise, Luke, when I learned that I knew your lovely mother!"
"You know Beru?" Luke asked. That seemed...unlikely.
"No, dear, your real mother. Padmé."
Luke blinked, his shock over hearing his long-dead biological mother's name overriding his offense that Beru could be considered anything less than his real mother.
Oblivious to Luke's surprise, Wedge's mother continued, "Such a tragedy, of course. The things that come out of impulsive marriages. Still, you and your sister seem to be doing alright."
"You have a sister?" Syal asked, sounding surprised.
"Of course! It wasn't common knowledge, but Padmé had twins!" Wedge's mother blathered on. "You know Luke's sister, it's little Leia Organa. She's about Wedge's age."
If Luke hadn't been watching her, he would have missed it, the way Syal's jaw tightened, then smoothed over again. "Oh," Syal said carefully. "How interesting. You didn't grow up together?'
"We've known the Organas forever, you know." Wedge's mother said, not giving Luke the chance to explain their odd sibling dynamic. "We used to work with Bail quite closely, but he made some...unfortunate political choices."
Luke didn't know a lot about Bail's political career, but he felt like any sort of decision that made the Antilles family angry was likely the right one. Good job, Bail.
"Still, politics can be forgiven, otherwise business would never get done." Wedge's father cut in, gruffly, "His wife has good sense, at least. Her start-up is doing well. Might even be tempted to offer them some capital."
Luke looked down at his steak, trying to stifle his indignation. He knew less about Breha's business than he did about Bail's politics, but from what he did understand, Breha's biotech company, Alderaan Biologics, wasn't a start-up. It was a massive, thriving company, and people were more likely to refer to Bail as "Breha's husband" than the other way around.
"Excuse me." Luke cleared his throat, looking a little embarrassed. "I'm afraid I need to use your restroom."
Once there was a locked door between him and Wedge's parents, Luke dug in his pocket for his phone. Luke had a suspicion. Something about this evening was off, he just needed to check to see if he was right.
Luke took a deep breath to steady himself, then walked back into the dining room. He gave the room a slight smile as he slid back into his seat. He glanced over at Wedge, who was statue-stiff in the seat next to him.
Luke leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Back."
Wedge gave him the barest hint of a smile in return.
"Did I miss anything?" Luke asked him.
Wedge shook his head. "Nothing important."
"We were just discussing the future. Wedge is going to have to give up the Air Force," Wedge's father said bluntly.
"I'm sorry, what?" Luke felt the ice creep into his voice.
"I know you're optimistic about it all working out, dear, but if you want to be a doctor, and a very sensible career that is, doctor, Wedge just can't be a pilot. He'll need a career that provides a bit more flexibility. You need to be free to take the hospital postings you want."
"With some modification to the position, we could easily accommodate him in a remote position at the company. Would need to change back into a business major, of course, but we're happy to fund it," Wedge's father said.
Luke gave Wedge's parents a blank look. Then he turned to Syal, and gave her a bright smile. "Syal, I'm terribly sorry about this."
Syal looked confused.
Wedge did not. "Luke…"
Luke stood up, looking down the table. "No."
"Luke, dear is something—" Wedge's mother began.
Luke held up his hand. "No. You do not get to do this. You do not get to use me, use our relationship, to try to control Wedge. Mrs. Antilles." Luke turned to Wedge's mother, taking that implacable fury within him and forging it down to something cool and contained, a tool that he could use. "You were not invited to our wedding because you disowned your son."
Wedge's mother began to protest something, but Luke silenced her with an outstretched hand, channeling everything he could remember of Leia's imperious bearing. "Mr. Antilles. Wedge has no interest in joining your company. Why you would persist in pursuing an employee that has so little interest in your vision is beyond me."
Luke glanced back and forth between them. "Neither of you are even remotely interested in learning who your son is. Your brilliant, responsible, caring, diligent, amazing son. Who I am proud to call my husband. And, frankly, that is your loss."
"We only want—" Wedge's father began.
"A twenty percent ownership investment in Alderaan Biologics prior to the public offering," Luke said.
The room was tomb-silent after that announcement.
Luke really hoped he was remembering the words Leia had texted him correctly.
"There is going to be a public offering," Wedge's father said, sounding angry and triumphant at the same time.
"I'm not on her board, I have no idea. I just know that's what you want. Oh, wait, I do have some insider information for you."
Luke pulled out his phone, deciding to read directly off the screen. "The fast-profit model of Antilles Holdings, combined with it's inadvisable disregard of long-term business growth, makes it a poor partner for Alderaan Biologics. And that is my professional opinion, setting aside the CEO's truly abysmal treatment of you two."
Luke's smile when he looked up was not particularly nice. "That would be myself and Wedge, for context."
Wedge's father was turning a mottled red that Luke found profoundly satisfying.
"It must have been so dismaying for you, to find out that the middle-class trash your son married had friends in such high places." Luke sighed. "It's really been an impressive amount of backpedaling. And it would have worked! I was ready to forgive you! But you are both utterly incapable of treating the man I love with any sort of respect or decency, so I find I have no desire or obligation to treat you with the same."
With that, Luke gave a decisive little nod. He looked down at Wedge, finally, a little worried about how that whole speech had landed.
Wedge was smiling up at him, a little stunned, but entirely happy.
Luke bit his lower lip. "Were you wanting to stick around for dessert?"
Wedge laughed. "Fuck no." He stood up, and gave his parents a little wave. "I look forward to receiving the re-disinheritance papers from your lawyer on Monday."
"It was nice to meet you, Soontir!" Luke called cheerfully, as Wedge grabbed his hand, and started towing him out of the dining room.
Luke waited until the heavy wood of the Antilles front door swung shut behind them before he gave a shaky laugh. "I can't believe I just did that."
Wedge's hand clapped his back as he started to steer Luke down the driveway. "I can't believe you did either. God, Luke, that was..."
"Ill-advised?" Luke furrowed his brow, as the adrenaline drained off and the worries set in. "Reckless? Ultimately damaging?"
"Amazing." Wedge's hand pressed a little more firmly against Luke's shoulder blades. "Luke, I...I don't even know how to say how much that meant."
"They're…terrible." Luke shook his head.
"Yeah." Wedge stopped them midway down the driveway, turning Luke so he faced him. "Luke, listen to me, I have never, never been defended in that house. Not by Syal, not by my grandparents, dad's business partners, nobody who came to visit cared how a businessman treated his son. What you said meant the world."
Luke reached for Wedge, and pulled him into a kiss. "Listen to me," Luke murmured, parting just far enough to make the words heard. "You're worth ten thousand of them. You're the best person I know. Wedge, I…"
Luke trailed off, feeling the press of everything Wedge was to him, and the desperation of everything he wanted Wedge to be.
Before the feelings found words, the door to the Antilles house opened again. Wedge tensed, a tightness to his shoulders as he broke away far enough to see who was coming. His shoulders went loose under Luke's hands again when they realized it was Syal, heading down the driveway toward him.
"Oh, good, you're still here."
Luke felt his indignation rise again. If she dared to try to talk them into going back inside…
"God, Wedge, I'm sorry." Syal said as she got close, her precise charm dropping into something more genuine as she ran her fingers through her hair. "I had no idea about the Organa thing. I just figured…"
"That it had become obvious I wasn't going to give up Luke to come crawling back, so it was time to take a new tactic."
Syal winced. "That's...not inaccurate. Still, I wouldn't have listened when they asked me to convince you to come back if I had known what they were up to."
"You were working for them?" Luke glared at Syal. "All that nonsense you said about your parents not being monsters and wanting your family together?"
"It's fine, Luke." Wedge took his hand. "This is the way it's always worked. Syal plays every angle."
Syal narrowed her eyes. "I prefer to think of it as keeping the peace."
Wedge arched his eyebrows. "Afraid that's out the window, tonight." Wedge paused, glancing away, then looking back to Syal. "This Fel guy, is he good to you?"
Syal's face relaxed, looking almost dreamy. "He really is, Wedge. I love him. We're happy."
"Good." Wedge smiled. He stepped forward and hugged her. "Imagine it's going to be a while before I see you again."
Syal shook her head as she wrapped her arms around Wedge. "Don't be ridiculous, baby brother. It's going to take more than one overdramatic dinner conclusion to get rid of me. As long as I haven't angered your husband badly enough that he doesn't want me coming around anymore."
"That's Wedge's call." Luke tucked his hands in his pockets. "I am angry, though. For the record."
Syal stepped back, putting her hands on Wedge's shoulders, looking back and forth from Wedge to Luke. "You've found a good partner," she said, giving his shoulders a little squeeze. "You've always been fighting the world on your own. It's good, that you've found someone who will fight some of it for you. Don't take that for granted."
"I don't." Wedge stepped back, letting Syal's hands fall from his shoulders.
"Good. You know, you're still invited to the wedding. It'll probably take a couple years to plan, but I expect to see you both."
We'll be there. That's what Luke should have said, light and easy, a neat end to the conversation.
But they wouldn't. Two years from now they'd both be done with their bachelors, and the convenient excuse that held their marriage together would fall apart.
"I'll be there," Wedge said, and Luke wondered if he was imagining a note of pain in Wedge's voice.
The drive home was quiet, Wedge's hand on Luke's knee as the street lights flowed over them. It was peaceful, which was a nice counterpoint to Luke's mind, turning in worried circles.
He should be the person with Wedge at Syal's wedding. He should be the person with Wedge forever. He wanted it, wanted it in a way he had wanted few other things in his life.
Wedge's mother's poisonous words chased around his head 'I know you're optimistic about it all working out, dear, but if you want to be a doctor…Wedge just can't be a pilot.' Piloting was Wedge's dream, there was no way Luke would ever ask him to change that.
The Air Force would control where Wedge lived, how he worked. And Luke would be stuck in medical school, then residency, the next decade or so of his life tied to his education and career.
More than once, Luke had imagined sitting down and having a serious conversation with Wedge about all this. All his wants, their future, how much better life was with Wedge in it. But he never figured out how to get past the first sentence. 'Hey, Wedge, what if I...don't become a doctor? Stay married to you instead.'
Luke knew how that conversation went. It involved Wedge very seriously staring at Luke and asking him, "What's going on? This is what you've always wanted."
And it was. He still wanted to be a doctor. He might be willing to give it up to stay with Wedge but he'd be miserable, and there was no way Wedge wouldn't see it. And as soon as Wedge saw it, he'd divorce Luke as quickly as he possibly could, because Wedge cared about Luke's future.
Luke sighed. Wedge squeezed his knee.
"Doing okay?" Wedge asked.
"Just a long day." Luke covered Wedge's hand with his own. "Glad I'm going home with you."
"Me too," Wedge's eyes were still on the road, but he was smiling.
He had Wedge now. He'd just...focus on that. He'd love Wedge as well as he could, as long as he could, and maybe, just maybe, the two of them could find some future where they fit.
Look at them! They're supporting each other! They're great with each other! They just...have this massive divergence of plans that threatens to drag them apart!
It'll be fine, I'm sure. Fiiiine.
Just a reminder, I’m on Tumblr!
Chapter 7: Senior Year: A Decision
Last chapter! I hope you've all enjoyed the read so far. One last word of thanks to both ANTchan and RogueShadows, who were the best cheerleaders person could ask for, and ten thousand thanks to RogueShadows for managing to beta in time with my posting schedule. You're the best, and this story wouldn't exist without you both.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
"Alright, I think that's everything we need right now. Your application is looking very promising," Captain Skerris said, standing up from the small café table and extending his hand to Wedge.
Wedge reached over and took it, giving it as firm of a shake as he could manage. He hoped he looked strong, decisive, like a future jet fighter pilot.
Captain Skerris inclined his head. "We'll be in touch. Just remember your physical training routine, want to make sure you're in top shape for your candidate school." The man straightened his cuffs, his crisp dress blues incongruous on the college campus. "This is the start of a difficult journey, but I have faith that you'll be a credit to your country."
"Thank you, sir," Wedge said, and shoved down the nerves rising in his chest.
He sat back down at the café table and watched Skerris' retreating form, his fingers worrying at the seam in his coffee cup's cardboard sleeve. He didn't feel like he'd be a credit to anything right now. He mostly just felt nervous.
The Air Force was one thing as a distant commitment, but as something looming and pressing over his future it was...different. Terrifying.
He’d always wanted to be a pilot. From the day his grandfather had taken Wedge up in his hobby plane, getting high in the air before letting Wedge take the control column. Wedge remembered his shaking hands gripping leather and the utter feeling of freedom. It was the first clear moment of joy he had ever known. He wanted to fly.
The coffee cup sleeve split apart in his hands, falling to the table. Wedge stared at it.
So why was he so fucking miserable?
"Wedge!" a cheerful voice called from the path in front of the café.
Wedge looked up to find one of his better professors. "Dr. Merrick, it's good to see you."
Dr. Merrick steered off the path and landed in front of Wedge's table, nodding to a chair. "Mind if I sit, or are you off somewhere?"
"No, I've got time. Is something wrong?"
Dr. Merrick shook his head. "Not at all. I got your schematics, it's neat work. You've got an eye for detail. I'd hire you." His cheerful eyes slid down the path, finding the now-distant form of Captain Skerris. "But you already have work planned, don't you?"
"I want to be a pilot," Wedge admitted. "Aeronautic engineering is a valuable degree for the Air Force."
"Out of curiosity…" Some of the cheer fell out of Dr. Merrick's eyes, as he looked seriously back over at Wedge. "Have you talked to anyone other than the Air Force recruiters?"
"The Navy recruiters. But I think the Air Force is a better fit."
Dr. Merrick shook his head. "Not quite what I'm getting at. Have you talked to anyone that's not a recruiter at all? They get a hefty bonus for signing an officer, you know. They're well trained in making you want it."
Wedge inclined his head. "I...I've done my research. Online, mostly. There's not really a lot of people I can talk to about it."
Dr. Merrick cleared his throat, holding out his hand. "Major Antoc Merrick, United States Air Force. Retired."
Wedge blinked. "Really?" He took Dr. Merrick's hand as an afterthought.
"Did my twenty and got out, but I spent quite a bit of time in the air. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. And possibly lend some advice, if you don't mind listening to an old airman ramble."
Wedge blinked over at his solidly middle-aged professor. "You're not old."
"Nice of you to say, whippersnapper." Dr. Merrick winked. "I've got some time now, but if you'd like to set up an appointment to meet later...?"
Wedge ran through his earlier indecision, taking a slow breath as he tried to sort his thoughts into order. "No, now is good."
"Alright, let me just grab some tea and I'll be right back."
Dr. Merrick returned with his own disposable cup and two cookies, one of which was firmly settled in front of Wedge, stern look to Dr. Merrick's face when Wedge considered protesting.
"Alright, Dr. Merrick, uh," Wedge ran though his circling concerns, trying to figure out where to start. "How bad is training going to be, really?"
Dr. Merrick leaned forward, elbows on the table. "Wedge? For this particular conversation, I'm Antoc, alright? I'm not here as your professor."
Wedge gave a slow nod.
"Good. That understood…" Antoc smiled over at him, mustache twitching with amusement. "It's fucking horrible."
Wedge laughed, some tension releasing, as he leaned in to listen.
Antoc was patient, well over two hours passed by in a back-and-forth of questions and stories. For the first time, Wedge felt like he could actually see what life in the Air Force might look like, not the demonized version his parents tried to sell, or the idealized dream of the recruiters.
Eventually the conversation died down and Wedge, glancing at the time on his phone, looked up guiltily. "Doc—Antoc, I'm really enjoying this conversation, but my husband gets out of class soon and I did promise him dinner."
Antoc looked at his watch. "Time flies. You're right." He looked over at Wedge, eyes lingering on Wedge's ring. "One more thing, before I go. Your husband...it's hard to be a military spouse."
Wedge flinched, that emotional blow coming out of nowhere. Luke wasn't going to be a military spouse. Their time together was almost up.
Antoc saw the flinch, but misinterpreted it. "When I was in, I stayed single. It was safer. Don't ask, don't tell isn't an issue anymore, thank God, but I still can't imagine trying to drag someone else through that rigamarole."
Wedge looked away.
"I take it from your expression that there's a conversation or two you need to be having." Antoc sighed. "I got lucky. Found someone on the other side. But not everyone does. If you've got something good now...think long and hard about how the military is going to change it."
"I don't...we have talked about it," Wedge stumbled over his words.
Talked about it and agreed to divorce. Their marriage had an expiration date. Except somewhere along the line his relationship with Luke had turned into something that felt as vital to his life as the air he breathed.
If the Air Force had any major advantage, it was this: he would be so busy he wouldn't waste away from missing Luke.
"Son, you look as miserable as anyone I've ever seen. I think maybe you should talk to him again."
Antoc stood up, patting Wedge on the shoulder. "Remember, things are never quite as black and white as they seem. The things you're looking for in the Air Force can be found elsewhere. Money? You'll make damn good money as an engineer."
"Flying?" Wedge said, only half-thinking about the conversation.
"Hell, I'll teach you. I've still got my licence."
Wedge blinked, looking up at Antoc, who gave him a fond smile. "Just take some time to think, okay? If it's right for you, it's right for you, but I don't want you to spend the next decade miserable because you thought you had no other options."
"I will," Wedge said gravely.
"And you cook that husband of yours something nice."
"I will," Wedge repeated, smile on his face as he got up from the café table.
Cooking was meditative. Wedge was grateful for that now, as he circled his spoon around the pot of chowder, letting his mind run free as he kept the milk from scorching. He tried to fit his future to a shape he could understand, but it always skittered away from him, nebulous and unknowable. His thoughts traced the same circles the soup did, whirling around on themselves.
A loud groan heralded Luke returning to the house. "I'm so tired," he said, before stumbling over to their couch and landing face first in the cushions. "Be a doctor, Luke," he mumbled against the ugly floral print. "It'll be fun. Meaningful. Rewarding."
"Clinical Immunology still kicking your ass?"
"Damn Clinical Immunology." Luke groaned again, rolling over, throwing his legs over the edge of the couch in a melodramatic sprawl. "I hate autoimmune disorders. It was complicated enough with outside things trying to kill a body. Now the body is trying to kill itself."
"People that have them aren't huge fans, either," Wedge said, ladling the soup into two bowls. "I made corn chowder."
"You are a benevolent soup angel." Luke didn't so much get off the couch as roll off of it, forming an exhausted puddle of student on the floor before he struggled to his feet.
"I try." Wedge brought the bowls over to the table. "What do you want to drink?"
"Just water." Luke collapsed down into the chair, fumbling for his spoon. After a few bites he seemed to grow more human, leaning back in the chair. "How are you? Did your schematic thing go well?"
"Haven't gotten the grade back on it yet, but I ran into Dr. Merrick. He said good things about it." Wedge sat down himself, sliding a glass of water in front of Luke.
"Well that's a good sign." Luke grabbed the glass and drank.
Wedge picked up his spoon and stared down at the bowl, worrying at his lower lip as he ran through the rest of the his and Antoc's conversation.
"Hey," Luke's hand found Wedge's elbow, "if he says it's good, it's good. You don't need to worry."
Wedge shook his head. "No, that's not…we talked about some other stuff, too."
"Everything okay?" Luke's hand stayed warm against him.
"Yeah." Wedge looked over at Luke. "He's retired Air Force. It was a good conversation."
"Oh." Luke's smile looked forced. "I guess your application is coming along, isn't it? He give you any good advice?"
"Quite a bit." Wedge took a breath, looked over at Luke, and just like they always did around Luke, thoughts that Wedge had trouble even thinking to himself came tumbling out as words. "I might withdraw my application."
Luke choked on his soup. "I'm sorry?"
"I might not join the Air Force."
Luke slowly put down his spoon, folding his hands on the table and leaning in intently. "I...don't know where this is coming from."
"It's new." He slowly stirred his soup. "I'm still sorting it out."
"Is it...parents stuff?" Luke asked uncertainly.
"No." Wedge paused, before asking quietly, "Why do you want to be a doctor?"
"I—um. Well, I always have? At least since junior high. I liked the idea of fixing people. Helping people be healthier." Luke gave Wedge an serious look. "You know this. You're the one who told me I actually could, that it wasn't a stupid dream."
"But now, with classes and applications and Damn Clinical Immunology"—Wedge and Luke shared a smile at that—"it's different, right? From what you thought?"
"Yeah, but I still want it. Just want it more, now." Luke looked away, his eyes fixed on something distant. "For all that it would make my life easier if I didn't."
"Less tests," Wedge said.
"Yeah…" Luke said, in a tone of voice that let Wedge know he hadn't really understood what Luke was getting at at all. Wedge considered chasing that meaning down, but decided to stay focused on the current conversation.
Luke would tell him, if it was important.
"I'm not sure flying is the same thing for me."
"But you said you loved it." Luke sounded concerned. "That it was the happiest you'd ever been, when your grandfather took you flying."
"That's true but—" Wedge cut himself off, laughing to himself. "I was fourteen and miserable. Now? When I think about it, really think about it, I've been just as happy sitting around this table with you, talking about our day."
"I—ah." Luke didn't seem to know what to say, looking down at his hands. Luke played with his ring, twisting it around his finger. "I'm happy too, with you. But that's not...exactly a career?"
"I know." Wedge gave a frustrated sigh, running his fingers through his hair. "And flying, I'd still probably really enjoy doing it. But the Air Force... I always thought of them together, you know? Flying, Air Force."
"So do you want to...fly for an airline?"
"I don't know!" Wedge burst out, frustrated. He stood up from the table and started pacing, not trying to get away from the conversation, but just needing to move. There was too much anxiety bound up in his limbs. "My whole life I thought I had to do what my parents planned and then you walked in and changed it! I could do what I wanted."
"You still can." Luke was using his soothing voice, still sitting, but one hand was laid out on the table, palm up, reaching for Wedge.
Wedge took a few more frustrated steps then slowed, his internal tether circling him back around toward Luke. He went back to the table, slowly coming to a stop next to Luke.
Luke glanced up at him, looking concerned.
"I know." Wedge reached over and tapped Luke's palm, a small gesture of reassurance. "But all this time I never let myself think that maybe the plan I had at eighteen—when I was still running scared and desperate to get away from my parents—might not be the right one for me at twenty-two. Or twenty-eight, or thirty…"
Luke's fingers curled around his. "I get the idea. Something is making the Air Force not feel like the right fit anymore. For your future." There was a waver in Luke's voice, words caught on a snarl of emotion that Luke wasn't showing yet.
Wedge flattened his palm against Luke's hand, letting his fingers trace over Luke's wrist. This conversation was upsetting Luke. Wedge could read it through the cracks. But Luke was holding it together, letting Wedge figure things out. If whatever was bothering Luke was still lurking when the conversation was over, Wedge would return the favor and help Luke sort things out.
They knew each other, heart and soul.
What the fuck was Wedge going to do when Luke left?
If he didn't join the Air Force...they would graduate, they would get divorced, Luke would go off and chase his calling. And Wedge would be left with nothing except a blank space where his future should be.
Wedge closed his eyes and breathed. He felt Luke's fingers brush his own wrist in return.
"You don't need to make a decision now," Luke said, his voice gentle. "You do better when you've had some time to think."
"You're right." Wedge hoped he managed to keep most of the pain out of his voice. It wasn't Luke's fault that Wedge had built the foundation of the future he wanted on the unstable ground of their marriage. "Think I've managed to scare away my appetite, though."
"Go for a run?" Luke suggested. "You always think better when you're moving. Maybe it'll help you sort things out. I'll put the chowder up for later."
"You're probably right," Wedge admitted.
Luke gave Wedge a crooked smile. "I know my husband."
Wedge tucked a finger under Luke's chin, leaned down, and kissed him, feeling a solid sense of gratitude. Luke was his level line in a crooked world. No matter how twisted up things got, Luke helped set them to rights. "I'll be back soon."
Wedge's feet pounded down the path, the world flying past him and his body set to a purpose. In the effort and exhaustion finally, finally, his mind quieted and let his thoughts line themselves up neatly.
Wedge thought about going through candidate school, individuality worked out of him in service of the nation. He thought about the ranks, the politics that Antoc had ruefully described, the sort of single-minded devotion needed to get a pilot slot.
It didn't feel worth it any longer.
The thing that he had convinced himself he needed, that was worth defying his parents, worth committing to the ridiculous scheme of marrying his best friend...that thing...wasn't important any longer?
When did that happen? Why did that happen?
Of course it was Luke. Or rather, it was his life with Luke. For the first time Wedge could breathe. Four years with Luke had given him the time and the space to see that there were more options than the plan that he had come up with at eighteen, stifled and terrified of his parents..
Wedge's parents were so powerful, such an overwhelming force in his life—in the world. And he was just Wedge. So he had needed something just as strong, just as powerful to think that he had a hope of escaping them. No matter how rich his parents were, they couldn't out-spend the military.
Just the reminder of being that terrified child made his breath hitch, his steady pace interrupted as he struggled to breathe. Wedge took a deep breath and found his rhythm again, keeping his body busy so his thoughts move freely.
In the past four years, Wedge had slowly realized that most of the power he thought his parents had over him was power he had granted. Wedge had taken his life back, with Luke's help, and they hadn't been able to do a damn thing about it.
But his time with Luke was almost up. If he didn't go to the Air Force, if he didn't have a plan, who would he be in that uncertainty? Would he just…fall back into that same scared kid, letting his parent's plan take over again?
He hated the fact that there was a part of himself that still thought of that as an option. He didn't want it. But who's to say he wouldn't…
Wedge twitched. He sped up, feet pushing harder, as if he could chase the thought out of his mind.
Wedge was better now. He was stronger now. And yes, Luke had helped build that but Luke wasn't essential to keeping it. He was not the same person who had let his parents run his life. He didn't need the Air Force.
He didn't need Luke.
But, God, Wedge wanted him. After spending four years loved and loved well, he didn't want that to end.
Wedge nearly tripped over his feet, stumbling past a pine tree before he managed to get his feet straight again and sink back into the rhythm.
Luke said it, of course. When other people were around. Not when they were alone. But Luke did love him. Wedge had survived his childhood on conditional affection, he knew in his bones how different Luke was.
Luke, who cuddled him, who made him laugh, who he could tell anything to, who was steadfast and stalwart. Luke, who lied to his family for Wedge's sake. Luke, who had stood between Wedge and his parents, condemning them for their treatment of Wedge.
Of course Luke loved him. He didn't ever need to say it.
He loved Luke too. That was hardly worth admitting. It had become the bedrock of who he was—he was someone that loved Luke.
Wedge wondered if it was as obvious to Luke as it was to him. It felt undeniable, but still, he should probably let Luke know. He had, at one point, had good reasons for staying silent. Their lives were going different directions. It felt like too much, like he was trying to tie Luke to himself in ways he didn't have a right to. They had a plan, and Wedge needed to honor it.
But now, with the plan unravelling in favor of uncertain possibility, Wedge wanted honesty.
He slowed to a jog, then stopped, turned his feet around and headed toward home.
Sweat still clinging to his skin, giving the coming evening's soft breeze an extra chill, Wedge opened the door and stepped into the soft warmth of their apartment.
Luke was curled on the couch, textbook on his lap, looking over quickly as Wedge entered the room. "Did it help?" Luke asked.
Wedge smiled at Luke, affection blooming so fierce inside him it stole his words. So he nodded, walking over to Luke and kissing him.
"Well, you certainly seem to be doing better." Luke wrinkled his nose as they parted, running an index finger along Wedge's hairline, through the sweat coming off his hair. "You're sopping. Go shower. Then we can talk about what you figured out?"
"Yes." Wedge turned toward the bathroom then paused, looking back to Luke, "I do need to talk to you. Don't let me go quiet."
Looking concerned, Luke nodded.
A little later, Wedge emerged from the bedroom in dark jeans and a button-down shirt, after staring at his closet for three minutes. Three minutes didn't sound like much, but it was a long time to stand naked, hands on hips, feeling faintly ridiculous. He hoped he hadn't overdone things, but this felt like the sort of conversation that deserved better than a t-shirt and gym shorts.
"Are you going somewhere?" Luke asked, head tipping to the side as he looked Wedge over.
He had overdone it.
"No, I wanted…" He shook his head. "Not important."
"You wanted to talk." Luke set the textbook on the ground and patted the couch next to him.
Wedge walked over to Luke, lowering himself onto the couch. "I figured some stuff out."
"Yeah?" Luke asked, leaning slightly toward Wedge.
Wedge looked at Luke, at the soft waves of his hair (growing out again after being cut short for graduate school interviews), the bright blue of his eyes (shadowed skin underneath the evidence that he hadn't been sleeping enough), the interested tilt of his head (he pointed himself at whatever he felt deserved his attention), the way his body was curled and folded over on itself (Luke never sat normally if he could help it, happiest when he was most contorted).
Wedge looked at Luke, and knew him, and loved him. He wished he had some kinder words, more elegant, more refined, but all he had was the truth, and he'd use it as well as he could.
"I love you," Wedge said, and meant it.
Luke's eyes widened, and he twitched toward Wedge. Wedge waited, expecting...something. Happiness, anger, whichever came. Neither seemed inclined, as Luke froze, stock-still, eyes fixed on Wedge.
Wedge twisted his hands in front of him, and, not sure what else to do with Luke's silence, kept talking. "I'm not joining the Air Force. It's not right for me any more. Part of the reason I figured it out was because of you, because of what we had together, and I just realized...I love you, and I thought that you should know."
Luke came unfrozen slowly, he licked his lips and pulled his arms back toward himself. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. Instead, he gazed intently at Wedge, looking almost hopeful.
Encouraged by that hint of hope, Wedge pressed on, needing to have everything laid bare. "I know you need to do med school, and if you—" Wedge's voice cracked, he swallowed and kept going, "I'll still divorce you. No problem. I'm not trying to trap you with anything."
"Wedge, I…" Luke started, whatever words he was going to say getting stuck. But he did reach over and lay a hand on Wedge's knee.
Wedge covered it with his own, grateful for the contact. "I don't know what's right for me right now. But I know in my bones that I don't want to lose you. You're so important to me. I was thinking...maybe we could date? Or something?"
Wedge's heart was in his throat as he looked at Luke, nerves churning with anxiety. Luke was distant, looking past Wedge more than looking at Wedge. Wedge patted Luke's hand and waited with all the patience he had to offer.
After fleeting eternity, Luke slowly focused back on Wedge. "I…I don't want to date you."
Something sharp and sour twisted around Wedge's heart. He pulled back his hand, trying to keep the heartbreak off of his face.
Luke reached out quickly, circling his hand around Wedge's wrist, tugging Wedge to face him. "No, wait, Wedge...I don't want to get divorced."
Now Wedge blinked slowly at Luke, not certain how to answer.
Luke's words came out in a rush, "I've never been pretending to be your husband. You are my husband. And I've always told myself I was going to be good, and I was going to enjoy the time I had with you, and I was going to let you go, but—"
Wedge surged toward Luke, helpless to do anything other than go to him, and he cut Luke's words off with a kiss. Luke gasped and used the hold on Wedge's wrist to pull him closer, Wedge let himself be pulled all the way into Luke's lap, wrapping his arms around Luke and holding him close. "Don't let me go," he whispered. "You have me, I'm yours."
"I won't," Luke promised, holding him closer. "Wedge, I have wanted to spend my life with you since the day we first got engaged. It hasn't changed. It's only grown. I'm yours." Luke nosed against Wedge's neck. "I'm not letting you go anywhere."
Wedge kissed whatever part of Luke was closest, his forehead, his temple, the soft strands of his hair. Luke's hand slid along Wedge's back, gentle reassuring strokes. They were tangled up in each other, molded together, inhaling and exhaling in unison.
Wedge pulled back, wanting to look at Luke, to see him, now, with their emotions laid bare. Luke beamed up at Wedge, radiating happiness, as perfect a picture of joy as Wedge had ever known.
Wedge brought his hand up to trace Luke's cheek. "Since the engagement? Really?" It felt like a lifetime ago.
Luke brought his hand up, covering Wedge's. He turned and laid a gentle kiss to the center of Wedge's palm. Luke turned his head back, tilting so he leaned into Wedge’s touch. "A little after, actually. You left, and Beru sat me down and tried to figure out why I was suddenly set on matrimony. I tried to lie to her...I failed."
Wedge's eyes widened. "She's known the whole time—?"
"No." Luke gave a rueful smile. "I told her I loved you. I told her I wanted to be there for you. I told her I was ready to promise that to you. I tried so hard to lie, and I just wound up telling the truth."
Wedge played his fingers along Luke's cheek, trailing the tips over Luke's cheekbone. "I'm sorry, Luke. I should have seen it sooner."
Luke shook his head, slowly enough that he didn't dislodge Wedge's hand. "I could have said. I didn't. I was happy for the time we had."
Wedge kissed him again, soft and certain, wondering if Luke could feel it too, the promise of thousands upon thousands of kisses like it in the future.
"How long have you known?" Luke asked softly, when they parted again. "Just now?"
Wedge swallowed. "Yes. And no. From the moment I wanted you, I wanted all of you. It took me this long to realize that it might be more than a selfish fantasy."
"Oblivious," Luke said affectionately.
"Entirely." Wedge smiled, a giddy affection surging up inside him. "Sure you want to be stuck with me?"
Luke laughed, bringing his hands up to frame Wedge's face. "Come on, I've put all this work into you. I'm not going to let you go now for someone else to benefit."
Wedge laced his fingers through Luke's. "I appreciate your hard work," he said as he pulled Luke's hands off his face, holding them joined between their bodies. He looked down at the light glinting off Luke's ring, the simple gold and platinum band he had bought, back when he had convinced himself it was just the finishing touch to their deception.
He had spent two hours agonizing over the damn thing. And he had always loved seeing it on Luke's finger. He really should have figured this out sooner.
Wedge reached for Luke's ring, starting to tug it off Luke's hand.
"Need to borrow this for a minute." Wedge shifted, wiggling off Luke's lap as he finally got the ring free of Luke's hand. "Promise, I'll give it right back."
"I didn't say you could—"
Luke's words choked off when Wedge got down on one knee in front of the couch.
"Oh," Luke said shakily.
Wedge smiled up at Luke. "Hi."
"Hey," Luke responded, biting his lip as he looked down at Wedge.
"Luke," Wedge began, feeling an echo of that warm day in early spring when he had promised Luke four years. "It's everyone's dream to marry their best friend, and I did it. It's the best decision I've ever made."
Wedge reached forward and took Luke's hand. It trembled slightly in his hold. "You are the best person I know, and the best thing to ever happen to me. I would not be who I am without you, and I want to learn who I'll become with you."
Luke's breath hitched, and his hand twitched in Wedge's hold.
"Luke I promise to love you as well as I can, and learn how to love you better, and I promise to do this so long as we both shall live." Wedge smiled at the shape of the formal words, feeling so right as they left his mouth. "Luke Skywalker, will you stay married to me?"
Luke's voice was thick with emotion as he responded, "Yes."
Wedge slid the ring back onto Luke's finger, right where it should be. Then he let himself get pulled back into Luke's arms. Right where he should be. Forever.
And that's that! Thank you all for reading along, and coming on this journey with me. I hope you enjoyed these two figuring things out as much as I did.
Thank you to all of you for your support, comments and screaming and excited chatter. You guys keep my passion for writing alive, and I so, SO appreciate it.
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