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I Hate to Wake You Up

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Wedge looks so peaceful when he sleeps. It's been that way as long as Luke as known him. Spread out in bed, unconsciousness draining his cares away, breathes slow and even.

Now, standing in the doorway with his shadow falling over Wedge's bed, Luke tries to take in some of that peace. He breathes deep and reaches out, tentatively touching the edge of his tranquil aura. Tries to absorb it into himself, to smooth over the grief and pain that fill his own mind.

It doesn't work, but Luke honestly hadn't expected it to.

He comes back to himself, blinks his eyes open, and spends another moment watching Wedge. His face is relaxed, his eyes shifting back and forth with his restful dreams. One hand loosely grips a corner of his pillow.

Luke almost smiles, aching with how innocent the moment is. Wedge has no idea what's happened in the outside world, the flames and destruction and death. The way it was Luke's fault. What he's about to do.

“You deserve better than me,” Luke finds himself murmuring. “You deserve better than a man who almost... Who's going to leave without even waking you up to say goodbye.”

“Luke?”

Luke flinches, and suddenly Wedge is half sitting up in bed, blinking at him blearily. There's a smile starting on his face, and it makes Luke's heart twist. “What are you doing here?”

Luke goes to him. How he can not go to him? He sits on the edge of the bed, frames Wedge's gentle face in his hands and guides him in for a kiss.

When they part, Wedge is frowning. “You smell like smoke.”

Luke closes his eyes for a long moment. “Something happened at the Academy.”

Wedge sits up straighter, blinking himself awake. “What–?”

“I can't,” Luke interrupts. It's all too fresh, too painful. He can't describe it, not even to Wedge. “I have to leave. I came to say goodbye.”

Wedge is starting to look genuinely alarmed. “Where are you going? Let me–” He casts his gaze around as if planning his next move.

“No.” Luke plants a hand on his chest, gently pushes him back to the bed. “You have to stay here, love. You're needed.”

“I don't understand.”

“And I can't promise that you will.” Luke sighs, biting his lip. “You deserve better,” he says again, and plows on when Wedge tries to interrupt. “By morning, everyone will know. I can't be here when that happens.”

Wedge just looks at him for a few moments, then repeats, “Where are you going?”

“I don't want to be followed. I'm sorry.”

Wedge nods, and Luke knows he doesn't like it, but he'll accept it for Luke's sake. “When will I see you again?” he asks.

The simple question is like a vibrobrade in Luke's chest. “I don't know.”

“Okay.” Wedge is blinking, eyes suddenly shiny. “I'm sorry, for whatever happened. I'm sorry you feel like you need to do this.”

“I'm sorry, too.” Luke kisses him again, sweet and lingering. He wishes he had time for a better goodbye. “Thank you. For trying to understand.”

“I love you,” Wedge tells him, clinging to his hand as Luke stands.

“I love you, too.” Luke squeezes back, gives him a final nod, then lets go and turns to the door. He doesn't let himself look back as he leaves.