Tycho never expected the Rebels to be so rough; a coarse bag is thrust over his head, ties bound around his wrists. Tossed onto a speeder car, he tries to work out how fast they are going, what direction, anything that might give him pertinent information on where they’re taking him, but he has nothing. They come to a stop inside a building—at least he thinks they do—and he’s dragged to his feet. There’s solid ground beneath him, a clang of metal, and Tycho treads over wires. If he had to guess, he’s been taken into a starfighter hangar. The ground beneath him changes as they lead him out of there and along a twisting, winding corridor.
A gruff voice cuts through the silence: “You can take that off him now.” The hood is pulled from Tycho’s head, and he blinks as the light hits his eyes. After he adjusts, he notices that the light isn’t so bright after all. The corridor is dingy, non-descript; there’s nothing of note in it but the three people who stand before him. One is the soldier who brought him in. Another is an older man in rough fatigues, a weary look on his face: Tycho thinks he’s the one who spoke. Behind him is a man in a bright orange flightsuit, tall, fair-haired, and with features that Tycho swears are familiar.
“Latest defector,” the soldier says, pushing Tycho forward roughly. “This one claims to be Alderaanian. And that he trained in the same class as Biggs Darklighter at Prefsbelt.”
The older man turns his head to the pilot. “That right, Klivian?”
Tycho feels the pilots eyes sweep over him in keen assessment. He returns the gaze. The name is not a familiar one, but his face is. And armed with the context that he must have known him at Prefsbelt, Tycho suddenly realises who he is. Rake Lindy. He’d been one of the standout pilots in their graduating class, winning an esteemed placement on the Rand Ecliptic, along with Biggs Darklighter.
“Yes, sir,” Rake—or Klivian—says, with a nod in Tycho’s direction. “Lieutenant Tycho Celchu. One of the best pilots in our class. I considered him as a candidate for extraction, but his links to the Alderaanian elite meant he was also a risk. I would say he’d make an excellent asset to the Rebellion, General.”
So Klivian was with the Rebellion all along. Considering his behaviour—there had always been something about his background that never quite lined up—it’s not the shock it should be. And with him speaking up in Tycho’s favour, Tycho feels more confident that he might actually be accepted here.
“Dismissed, Klivian,” the General says, after a moments consideration. “Celchu, inside.” He keys open a door located in the recess a little along the corridor, and holds it open.
The General’s office is as dim as the outside corridor. Simple too; there’s a desk, a chair behind and in front of it. The desk has nothing on it, except a mug, and a toy X-Wing model, painted with blue markings which—Tycho assumes—didn’t originally belong to the General.
Tycho takes the chair in front of the desk. His hands remain bound, and the General makes no move to untie him. He simply takes a seat, unlocks a drawer, and brings a datapad out. His eyes glance over a document he brings up on it, before settling on Tycho.
“Do you know who I am, Lieutenant Celchu?”
Conjuring up every briefing he’s ever had on the leaders of the Rebellion, the man’s features remain stubbornly unfamiliar. “No.”
The General cracks a smile, just a slight one, that tugs at his lips. “Good. At least the Empire isn’t telling its foot soldiers who I am.” He folds his arms over the desk. “My name’s Draven. I head up Rebel Intelligence.”
Tycho doesn’t know what he expected to find when he found the Rebellion. Whatever it was, it wasn’t this. He’d expected a debrief—though not from the head of Rebel Intelligence. A verification that he was who he said he was. Some testing in the starfighter simulations, to ensure his piloting skills were up to scratch, which Tycho was sure he’d pass with flying colours. The Rebels were short on pilots, he knew they were, after everyone that they’d lost at the Battle of Scarif and the Battle of Yavin. He was the ideal recruit.
And yet, Draven doesn’t seem to think so.
“I’ll put it to you straight, Celchu. Currently, you have little to offer us by simply signing up. You have no significant information, you’re an average pilot—” Tycho clenches his fist, knowing that arguing the point is useless. “—and whilst we could always use more cannon fodder, isn’t that a waste of what you could do?”
Tycho sits up straight. “A waste?” he questions. He’s not sure, but it… it sounds like Draven has other plans for him.
“By your own account—and I’ve got people checking this—the Empire has no idea you are missing yet. You aren’t set to report for another week for your new assignment, and any officer would forgive an Alderaanian a week or two getting black out drunk on leave these days.”
Confusion colours Tycho’s face. “You want me to go back?”
“There’s one thing this Rebellion needs: information. We need inside men. There aren’t many of those left, after everything that’s happened in past months. A man like you, the perfect soldier, with a spotless record? You could be a real asset to Intelligence.”
Draven’s asking him to be a spy.
“Chancellor Mothma says that these assignments are volunteer only, so I can’t force you to take it up. But I would strongly advise you do so, Lieutenant.”
“And if I need some time to think about it?”
“That can be arranged. You are welcome to remain on base, but we will need an answer from you within twenty-four hours.”
Tycho looks down at his hands. They’re still bound, rope twisted around his wrists. He hadn’t thought about it when they tied his wrists, but now, he wonders why they haven’t used proper binders. Is it because they never truly considered him a threat, or is it lack of resources? How desperate is the Rebellion for people to aid it, how scared is it of the people who might come to tear it all down. And as much as he hates the thought of going back to the Empire—what sort of person would it make him, if he didn’t do what they needed of him.
Tycho looks back up, meeting Draven’s eyes, resolute. “You’ll have it,” he answers.
Over a plate of food—the first meal Tycho’s had in twenty-four hours—he contemplates the predicament he’s found himself in. The mess is small, staffed by a single droid, who doles out food that rates only just above ration packs. Still, Tycho is grateful for it. And the mess is quiet, so Tycho can think, think about what he’s gonna do with the matter at hand.
At least, it was quiet.
A squadron of pilots troops in, boots clattering on the ground, chattering away at each other a mile a minute. All in eye-searing orange flightsuits, so bright that Tycho brings a hand to his eyes to try and detract from it. They don’t seem to notice him in the corner. A round faced, dark haired young human starts joking with the droid, and the entire squadron’s attention is on him.
Tycho looks at the group. That’s the sort of group he’d be part of, if he rejects Draven’s offer. There’s a camaraderie there that Tycho never really found with the Empire; the only glimpse of it he’d ever had was in training, and after half his class were killed—or defected—the wider Corps had never had the same feeling. He looks at the way they’re joking with each other, and wonders if he could ever be a part of that.
If he takes Draven’s offer, he won’t.
“You look glum.” At the sound of someone taking the chair across from him, Tycho looks up, and finds Klivian settling in opposite him, setting his tray of food on the table. “What did Draven say to you?”
Tycho cocks his head. “I’m not sure I’m at liberty to say.”
Klivian contemplates this for a minute, then sighs. “Oh.” His fork scrapes jarringly across his plate of food. “That sucks.”
They sit in silence for a while. Tycho finishes his food. He thinks he should leave, but he doesn’t know where he’d go. Instead, he just pushes his tray aside, and sits in silence. He observes the other pilots, who have all settled into small groups across the mess, eating and chattering away. None of them have chosen to approach Tycho, or distract Klivian away.
“When we trained together—you were with the Rebellion? Undercover?” Tycho asks, because he can’t quite keep a lid on his curiosity. He wants to know what drove Klivian to make the choices he did, sign up to the Empire presumably just to help other cadets defect.
Hobbie pushes his tray aside, leaving his food half eaten. “Yes,” he says. “My real name is Hobbie Klivian. Well, Derek, technically, but everyone calls me Hobbie.”
“Why does everyone call me Hobbie? I’m not sure, you’d have to ask my folks.” Then Hobbie stops short. “Oh. Why was I in the Rebellion. Why was I undercover. That’s what you want to know.”
“If I can ask that.”
“You can.” Hobbie turns around to gesture at one of the pilots. He does it so quickly that Tycho isn’t entirely sure which one he pointed out. “Three years ago, that idiot decided he didn’t like the Empire, and I was foolish enough to agree with him. We were cadets at Skystrike at the time. Sabine Wren got us out. And then I decided I’d pay it forward, when we needed more pilots, more information—I hadn’t built the profile Wedge had, less chance of them noticing me. Clearly, I never made much of an impression, because I got away with half a class of defectors. Think I’m on the Empire’s radar now, though.”
“Would you do it again, if you weren’t?”
Hobbie considers for a moment. He twists his fingers together, fiddling. Tycho notices in that moment that one of his hands is a prosthetic—the skin is slightly off, in colour and texture. He wonders when Hobbie lost it. “Yes,” Hobbie says. “Because we needed those pilots, and that info. We need people on the inside. Or we’ll never win anything. We might have won a victory, but we lost so much at Yavin, at Scarif.” He hesitates. “That’s what Draven asked of you, isn’t it? To go back.”
Tycho doesn’t answer, but he doesn’t have to. His silence says enough.
“You’d do the Rebellion a service,” Hobbie says. “If you did.”
Tycho knows that. He knows in his head and his heart he came to the Rebellion to make the Empire pay, and that that is the way to do it. But the part of him that wanted a better life than the Empire was offering—the part of him that is still looking over at the pilots and wondering if he could be among their number—is still hesitant.
He catches the eyes of one of the pilots. A pair of beautiful hazel eyes, beneath dark brows, that are quiet and serious, just as focused on Tycho as Tycho is on him. Tycho wants to know the story behind those eyes, behind that steady gaze. But the pilots’ eyes are drawn away by the man sitting next to him; a man, who, when Tycho observes them fully, matches the same broad description; lithe, dark haired, sharp featured.
“I’ve got to go,” Hobbie says, chair scraping back. “Wedge is taking his temporary power all too seriously, and has us running drills all afternoon. I’ll see you about, maybe?”
Tycho nods. “It was good to see you again, Klivian.”
Hobbie deals with his plate first, then walks over to the pilot who caught Tycho’s eye—is he Wedge? Tycho doesn’t know. Maybe. He certainly seems to be the centre of the squadron, the one who everyone looks to.
Tycho feels a deep need then, something in him settling; his world might be dead, but this pilot—this entire squadron. They need to live.
“So,” Draven says, elbows on table, hands folded, fixing Tycho with a stern glare. “Have you come to a decision?”
Tycho clenches his hands into fists. He knows it’s the right choice. “Yes.” Draven looks curious. “Sign me up. Send me back to the Empire. I want to work for you.”
Tycho reports back to the Empire after he leaves the Rebellion, just as he’s been told to do. He slips back into his uniform, pins his rank badge back on his chest. He looks at himself in a mirror. Curious. He looks the same as he did before the Death Star, to all intents and purposes.
But now, he stands as a spy for the Rebellion. The uniform he wears is just a cover. In his heart, he fights for freedom.
And that changes everything.
Almost three years after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebels go quiet.
They’ve gone to ground; Tycho knows this. He’s having a hard time passing any information along, and what little he can get through is out of date before it can be of much use. He’s pushed his luck with minor acts of sabotage recently—ISB had run an investigation on the pilots and dragged some lackey off who was definitely guilty of some, if not all, of what he was blamed for—so the only thing he can do is wait and pray that the Rebellion is smart enough not to be found.
He’d not been at Derra IV to see the Rebels so thoroughly smashed—but half of the squad he now commands were. They earned promotions there that catapulted them into Captain Celchu’s elite squadron. Used by the Empire as a sharp dagger, with the precision that entails, Tycho’s pilots live longer lives than most. It’s a good posting.
That doesn’t mean Tycho likes them. He finds the list of the Rebel dead, comes face to face with the length of the list. It was a slaughter. He breathes a sigh of relief, and hates him for it, when he can’t find Hobbie or Wedge’s names on the list.
The Empire tries to track the Rebels, best they can. But the Rebels are good at hiding. They’ve got flexibility that the Empire hasn’t, to break up their fleet and stash it away in various uncharted places. They’ve done it before. Whatever search parties the Empire sends out, Tycho prays that they won’t find the Rebels.
Such prayers are wasted.
Tycho isn’t senior enough to be in the briefings, but he can read the troop mobilisations well enough; they’re preparing for a battle. The Rebels must have been spotted. There’s no one else currently who warrants this use of brute force. Tycho’s squadron is told to prepare for action.
Tycho wonders who he’ll fly against this time, who he might have to shoot down to keep his cover intact. His authorisation says that the information he passes is worth more than pilots’ lives, a fact that Tycho is deeply uncomfortable with. But Tycho can’t control who his pilots shoot down, so he tries to remember that the pilots are dead already, and there’s no point him sacrificing anything to save them.
“One more thing, Captain.” Tycho stands fast after a briefing that has been far too scant on actual details for his liking. “Cold weather gear has been advised for this mission. Inform your pilots.”
Cold weather gear? Tycho can count on one hand the number of missions he’s been deployed on where cold weather gear would have been required, and on none of them were they told to wear it. TIE pilot’s suits were insulated well enough, helmets providing oxygen, and there wasn’t any real chance of survival if you lost your ship; the Empire didn’t bother. It makes him all the more curious about where they are going.
“Incoming rebel transport, bearing two karem—”
Tycho ignores the sound of the communication’s officer in his headset, overriding the squadron channel to inform them that yet another Rebel transport is attempting to escape. As with the rest, this one is flanked by two fighters—light defences, but effective. Tycho’s squadron is down four pilots, between the Rebel fighters and their ion cannon. Privately, he’s delighted that they’re making such a good escape.
Publicly he has to spin a different story.
“SS-43, let’s see if we can get this one before it jumps to Hyperspace,” Tycho says, flicking to his wingman’s comm channel.
“On your wing, SS-25.”
Tycho weaves a pretty pattern between the wreckage and the immobilised ships that have been taken out by the ion canon. He keeps watch on the planet below as he does, wondering at what point the battle will turn. The Empire may be winning on the ground, but the Rebels seem to be holding them back just enough that they might get the bulk of their transports out of there.
They’ve got four through, so far, and lost one. That’s a decent success rate.
Watching his speed, Tycho yanks his ship to a hard right, placing himself in the ideal position to just miss the transport. “Fire, now!” Pressing the trigger, Tycho flies over and up, watching as green lasers streak over the plating of the hull. Just as intended, nothing hits home. Instead the Rebel Transport streaks away to Hyperspace, just as Tycho and his wingmate are turning around for a second pass.
“Better luck next time, SS-25,” SS-43 says.
“Keep moving,” Tycho orders, and flies onwards. Much as he wants the Rebels to win, he can’t afford to get caught in one of their blasts. A moment later, another shot of green passes up through the clouds of Hoth, striking another ship, frying their systems. The ion cannon is proving effective, and the Empire didn’t account for it.
Tycho grins privately to himself. Maybe they’ll all make it out after all.
Tycho is at home up in the wilds of space, aiding the Rebellion’s escape in the small ways he can. But he cannot refuse the official request that comes through for air support on the planet below. Gathering his squadron, Tycho begins their descent through the atmosphere, down to a planet coated in snow and ice, all white as far as the eye can see.
Tycho has no idea how long the Rebels have been here, but a chill runs down his spine at the thought; he could have been here, enduring the endless bleak landscape, the cold that he just knows would seep into your bones at a second’s notice and never leave.
He spots the trio of incoming X-Wing fighters just in time, and rolls out the way. SS-43, behind him, is not so lucky. One of their shots clips their wing, and their TIE fighter goes spiralling down to the planet below. Tycho winces, flipping his ship, trying to see if he can line up a shot that he doesn’t want to take on the Rebels. They have no interest in pursuing him or the rest of the squadron though, and keep flying on, intent on getting out of there.
“Carry on,” Tycho orders. That’s their sixth loss today. He wonders how many the Rebels have incurred.
When they reach the battlefield, snowspeeder wrecks crashed into down AT-ATs, he knows it’s a lot. They receive orders to blitz the trenches, dispose of any Rebels who may still be standing.
Tycho runs the numbers; any Rebel still left has no escape route. They are already dead, whether they die in the cold, or my a soldier’s blaster, or tortured for information on the ships above. Their deaths are certain. It makes no difference whether it comes at his hands, or another’s. This is action well within what he is sanctioned to take.
It doesn’t mean that pulling the trigger and causing the death of innocent men is any easier.
They sweep the trenches. Tycho sends half his remaining squadron—three fighters—further out, to see if any Rebels have fled into the snow. He keeps two with him to sweep the battleground.
They swoop low. Tycho doesn’t even know what he’s looking for. But he sees something. “SS-82, SS-56, continue to the main base,” he orders, as he does another sweep. His two shadows leave, obeying his orders without question. He finds a flat piece of ground to land his TIE fighter in, glad that he’d obeyed instructions to wear cold-weather gear, and hops out. There are still a few snowtroopers milling around, alongside AT-AT crews, probably trying to see what can be salvaged. They aren’t paying much attention to what one TIE pilot is doing.
He trudges through the snow, to where a snowspeeder is crashed into the ground alongside a downed AT-AT. He sees the glint of a reflection—there it goes again. Three repeated flashes in quick succession. An emergency signal. Doomed, but the pilot inside doesn’t know it.
Tycho doesn’t know why he’s down here. He’s not sure what he can do about it—put them out their misery? Give them the mercy of a quick death? He struggles with the smashed canopy, wrecked in such a way that the release switch doesn’t release it, until he can lift it up. The pilot’s body inside is mangled, one limb severed, no two, three—both his legs are cut off by a piece of metal. He should have bled out. But the hand that isn’t damaged is twitching, reaching for a service pistol, one last act of defiance against the Empire.
“Wait—!” Tycho says. He knows this pilot. “Hobbie, it’s me. Tycho Celchu. Don’t shoot!”
“Prove it,” Hobbie stutters. His voice is weak.
“Don’t be an idiot.” Tycho reaches into the cockpit, pulling the restraints off Hobbie. He remains wedged into the cockpit, and Tycho has no idea how he’s going to pull him successfully from the wreckage without hurting him further. “How many other TIE pilots do you know who’d spend the time trying to pull you out this ship?”
“Recognition codes,” Hobbie insists.
Tycho’s pretty certain that all the one’s he knows have been cracked. “Aurek-two-trill-osk, hey, did you hear that Chancellor Mon Mothma has a fondness for romance novels,” he reels off anyway, wondering who comes up with the darn things.
“That’ll do.” Hobbie grimaces. “Also, what did I call Wedge Antilles the last time I saw you?”
Tycho remembers that conversation, clear as day. “An idiot,” he says. “Could say the same about you. You got any ideas for getting out of here?”
“Gimme a sec.”
Hobbie’s prosthetics turn out to be what save him in the end. He manages to show Tycho how to flip the releases on them, and Tycho manages to pull Hobbie’s body from the ship. He’s lighter like this, maybe two-thirds of his full weight, and Tycho can lift him easily. Which is good, because Hobbie can’t walk like this.
They make an odd sight, Tycho is sure. But thankfully, no one is looking. He manages to get Hobbie to his ship, and for the first time in his life, is thankful that his ship is a TIE rather than an X-Wing. Two humans plausibly fit without coming into intimate close quarters in a TIE, and Tycho’s not even sure it would be possibly in an X-Wing.
“It is,” Hobbie chips in. He’s breathing a little steadier now, though Tycho is worried that it’s only a temporary recovery. “If you wanna get personal, that is. I’ve tried it.”
Tycho doesn’t ask who with, or why. He has a sneaking suspicion this isn’t the first time someone’s pulled Hobbie from a battlefield in bits. He and Hobbie get into the ship, a little awkwardly, and Tycho rises up, pressing the comm unit on his helmet back to life. Instantly, the chatter of dozens of soldiers fills his ears. Tycho flicks over from the general channel to his squadron channel, listening for a moment, before saying: “This is SS-25, I’m heading back to base.”
Tycho receives confirmation from his squadron mates, then switches to his private comm channel. He focuses on lifting his ship up into the atmosphere, then glances down at Hobbie.
“I sure as hell hope you’ve got a plan for what you’re going to do with me once you get me back to your ship,” Hobbie says, drawing his sole limb tight around his appendages. He’s sitting uncomfortably, ill at ease, and only part of it is caused by the situation is in; a large part of it is the fact that he clearly dislikes being without his prosthetics. “I’m a Rebel Pilot, I can’t walk, you’re gonna have a job hiding me.”
“I’ve survived three years under the Empire’s nose,” Tycho says, “I’ll think of something.”
“Great,” Hobbie mutters. “You’re just like Wedge used to be, always dashing to the rescue with no thought for the consequences. And we haven’t got Fulcrum watching our backs this time.”
“No.” Some backup would sure be nice right about now. But Tycho has never had any backup, and he won’t get any anytime soon. It’ll be up to him to keep Hobbie safe, and smuggle him out under the Empire’s nose. “But you’ve got me, and I promise you I’m gonna do whatever I can to get you back to the Rebellion.”
On a temperate, backwater planet, Tycho keeps a watchful eye on the street. He leans back against the front wall of where they are staying, attempting to look casual.
He managed to hide Hobbie, sneak him aboard ship with the Empire none the wiser. Managed to get a message out to the Rebels, that he had one of their pilots, alive. Could have just dropped Hobbie off, let them pick him up—it would probably have been safer to do so. But Tycho feels a duty of care, wants to make sure Hobbie is handed over to people who will take care of him. And he hasn’t been debriefed in over twelve months; he’s overdue for some contact with the Rebellion.
He’s as anxious as he’s ever been, standing on that street corner. There’s a small Imperial presence here, enough that Tycho could end up in trouble if he’s not careful. He used up every piece of goodwill, every favour he had, keeping Hobbie safe and smuggling him out.
If he gets caught doing anything even slightly shady now, the Empire will finally start looking at him closely, and his cover will be blown.
The sun is high in the sky; Tycho checks his chrono. It’s just ticked past midday. The team who have come to extract Hobbie should be here by now. Tycho taps his foot impatiently, wondering how long he should wait. He casts his eye over everyone walking down the street; locals going about their daily affairs, the odd tourist ambling down the street. There’s no one of note.
Tycho sees them. Two men, his age, both dark-haired. They might be in casual garb, but there’s a cut to their jackets, a particular weight of their step. They’re who he’s looking for. Both have kit bags slung across their shoulders. The bulkier of the pair is maybe half a step behind, casually overseeing the whole street, keeping a watchful eye. It’s subtle. He’s good.
He catches Tycho’s eye. Uses an elbow to attract his partner’s attention, a nod of the head to point out Tycho. Both of them step to the side of the street, out of the main traffic. Tycho leans to the side, pushes the door of the house they’re staying in open, and they all step inside.
“Where is he?”
“Upstairs.” It’s clear he’s referring to Hobbie. The urgency is unexpected; Tycho expected to be vetted first. He still remembers his first encounter with the Rebels, the bag pulled over his head. He didn’t expect anything that drastic, not this time. “You can see him, once you verify you are who you’re supposed to be.”
That causes a wry smile to grace the other man’s face. For the first time, Tycho actually looks properly at the two men who’ve come to meet him, and is surprised when a familiar set of features stares back at him. He could never forget those eyes. “Think we’re supposed to be doing that to you.”
“Get on with it, Wedge.”
Wedge Antilles—a man who has haunted Tycho’s dreams ever since he caught a glimpse of him all those years ago—is calm in the face of his friend’s impatience. He casts his eyes over Tycho. “Celchu, right? Your file says you had a fiancé—name and birthday, please.”
“Nyiestra, and hers was the third day of the Alderaanian spring. But if you’re looking at my file, well, the Imps screwed that one up: put my sister’s name in her place. Mia. That good enough?”
Wedge folds his arms. “Yeah.”
Tycho’s verification is interrupted, by Hobbie’s appearance at the landing above. And at the sound of his voice, Wes—Wedge’s companion—drops the bag he’s holding, and takes off in a sprint up the stairs. He crashes into Hobbie’s body, pushing him flat onto his back. Tycho looks on with no small amount of concern, but then he sees Hobbie’s arm curl around Wes’s back, and the soft murmurings he can’t quite catch are of a distinctly intimate tone.
“Come on,” Wedge says, reaching for Tycho’s arm. “You got somewhere else private I can debrief you, we can leave these two be?”
“Yeah,” Tycho says. “Follow me.”
“We thought Hobbie was dead, see,” Wedge explains. “The way he’d crashed his speeder like that, he knew he was going down, he was going to make it count. I saw the explosion. Wes tried to convince me to go after him, but—there was no way he should have survived a crash like that. And Commander Skywalker was EV, so I had the entire squadron to think about.”
“I shouldn’t have checked,” Tycho replies. “But I saw just the glint of his signal. And something told me that I needed to check it out. He shouldn’t have survived it. His legs were crushed—they’d probably have been severed. He’d have died from blood loss if they hadn’t already been artificial.”
“Thank the force you did.” Wedge smiles; it’s a soft smile. Tycho’s glad to have put it on his face. “It’s been hell without him. I was starting to wonder if I was gonna lose Wes to grief.”
“Partners,” Wedge says, like it’s obvious. “Don’t tell me you’ve fallen victim to the Empire’s whole ‘you can be gay but only in private’ dipshittery.”
“No!” Tycho puts his hands up, defensive. “Be a hypocrite if I was—not that that has ever stopped anyone. Just. Surprised that they’d be serving side by side.”
“They keep it quiet. The Rebellion doesn’t really give a toss about such things. And if we were supposed to report it, well, Luke and I just… forgot about that one.”
By all reports, Wedge Antilles is one of the Rebellion’s straight men; by the book, plays by the rules, and doesn’t muck around. Tycho is getting the feeling that isn’t an accurate report. The man in front of him sparkles with wit, seems to obey rules only when they suit him—this is the worst debrief Tycho’s ever had—and is, quite simply, the sort of man Tycho aspires to be.
Tycho knows who Wedge is referring to, of course he does; Luke Skywalker is a name every pilot in the Empire knows, every soldier knows, every person knows the size of the bounty on the man’s head, the lengths Darth Vader seems willing to go to to bring him in alive. What shocks him is the casual way Wedge refers to his superior officer, one of the saviours of the Rebellion.
“Commander Skywalker,” Wedge supplies, missing Tycho’s intent.
“I know,” Tycho says. “Just—”
“The Rebellion doesn’t stand on formality, you know.” There’s a smile in the way Wedge says that. “We aren’t the Empire. He was my commander, I was his XO, we were friends—been friends ever since he showed up at Yavin.”
“He’s missing,” Wedge says, drawing in on himself. “We got a lot of folks out, at Hoth—reckon you probably helped there, they ran the statistics and we got way more ships out than we should—but not everyone’s made it to the rendezvous.” Wedge worries at his hands, then looks up at Tycho, meeting his eyes. “The Princess is missing.”
Tycho’s eyes widen. Leia Organa, who survived the destruction of their planet, was the hope of every Alderaanian that someday they would be able to rebuild at least some of what they lost.
“Did she make it off the planet?”
Tycho’s chest goes tight at the thought that he might have left her there, to die in that frozen hellscape.
“Yeah,” Wedge reassures. “Last anyone heard, Captain Solo was going to fly her out on the Millennium Falcon. I saw that ship leave with my own eyes. She made it off. She just never made it to the rendezvous.” Wedge tilts his head. “Knowing the Falcon, something on the ship probably failed. They’ll turn up.” Wedge tightens his hand, and Tycho isn’t so sure if he’s talking about the Princess anymore. “They’ve got to have made it.”
Wes and Wedge had the foresight to bring replacement prosthetics with them, so smuggling Hobbie off planet with them and back to the Rebellion isn’t going to be the chore it’s been for Tycho, keeping him safe and hidden. They’ll leave in the morning. Wes and Hobbie have slipped off, probably to bed, though Tycho isn’t sure how much sleep they’ll be doing.
Wedge has found a bottle of something, potently alcoholic in quantity, and he and Tycho are both sipping from glasses. Tycho uses the quiet to study Wedge, compare the man in front of him to his memories, fantasies. He holds up. There’s a little more strain on his face these days, shadows under his eyes. Maybe a whisper of early grey at his temples, but Tycho knows he’s probably suffering that as well. It’s the strain. Wedge is still an attractive man, and those hazel eyes are going to haunt Tycho’s dreams for long after he leaves.
“You could always come with us.” The words slip out of Wedge’s mouth as he places his near empty glass on the side table. “I’m authorised to pull you out; I asked. You’ve served your time with the Empire. Come fly with me.”
It’s a tempting offer, and Tycho can feel the right-ness of it seeping into his bones; being Wedge’s wingman, flying with him, keeping him safe. Shooting down TIE fighters instead of X-Wings. Fighting for what he knows is right.
“I can’t,” Tycho replies. “The work I do; it’s important. You said it yourself, you wouldn’t have got all those ships out if I hadn’t been there.”
Wedge’s gaze fixes on Tycho. It’s intense. “Someone else can do that.”
“No, they can’t. No one else has a cover like mine. You can’t manufacture something like that.”
Wedge sits back. His eyes sweep over Tycho, and Tycho shudders under the scrutiny. He wonders if Wedge is a little drunk, but they’ve each only had a glass. It’s not enough, not enough to really affect his thinking.
“You’ll die there. One of us is going to end up shooting you down, or your cover will be blown, and you’ll be tortured.”
“It’s the right thing to do. You’d do the same, in my position.” Wedge nods his head slightly, agreeing. “Besides, I could die on the other side of the war just as easily.”
“You wouldn’t have to die alone though,” Wedge says. “You’d have companionship.”
“It’s part of the sacrifice. I knew what I was getting into. Being a spy… it’s a lonely life.”
“Doesn’t have to always be.”
Something in Wedge’s tone changes, and Tycho looks up at him, trying to work out what he means by that. Wedge’s eyes are dark—the low light could account for that—but Tycho thinks it might be something more.
“Are you offering?”
“Would you want that?” Wedge counters.
Tycho thinks. It’s a bad idea, in a lot of ways, to even think about it. He wonders if Wedge knows, if Wedge remembers, that he was there the day Tycho decided to be a spy; if he knows that Tycho went back to the Empire to keep pilots like him safe, to keep Wedge safe. Would he be able to leave Wedge behind if he knew him for just a night, turn his back, know that his mission was greater than what happened between the two of them?
In the end though, Tycho only has one answer, regarding whether he wants Wedge.
They go to bed together.
Tycho knows it’s not the smartest decision, he’s ever made, but he’s spent the past three years making smart decisions, ones that don’t get him killed. He’s allowed a lapse in judgement.
Besides, he defies anyone to say no to Wedge Antilles, not when Wedge is kissing them softly, tugging them off to bed with hands clutched in their shirt.
Something in Tycho says it should be hurried; a desperate act committed by two men who go back to opposite sides of the war in the morning. That it should be filled with haste, and passion, and be all consuming.
It isn’t. Wedge isn’t like that. He’s gentle—perhaps he knows this is the first time Tycho has slept with anyone since Nyiestra, since Alderaan died. Takes his time, lingers. His hands skim lightly over Tycho’s skin. Places soft kisses to sensitive spots.
Tycho feels adored.
When it’s done, Wedge wraps Tycho up in his arms, Tycho drawn back against Wedge’s chest. He falls asleep pretty quickly, content, whilst Tycho lies awake for a little while. He feels safe in Wedge’s arms, and he wants to savour it. Commit the feeling to memory, as something to draw on on lonely nights. He wishes he could stay here forever, that none of them have to leave this place, go back to the war.
For just a night, Tycho lets himself lie in the arms of someone he trusts, and forgets his responsibilities.
Tycho wishes he’d found out that the Empire was building a second Death Star before he did.
The very thought makes him sick. That the Empire would want to perpetuate the destruction they’d wrought on Alderaan isn’t a shock, but the idea that they’d be so blatant, so uncreative in their methods, is. He hopes the Rebellion knows. He hopes they’re coming to blow this thing to hell and back.
The waiting is the worst part. Tycho is aware that everything he did, smuggling Hobbie out, and the losses his squadron suffered on Hoth, mean he’s being watched closer than he ever has been before. He no longer has the same luxuries afforded by his previous commanding officer’s confidence in him. Now, he is just a regular old squadron leader. His life is drills, observations, and spending his days lurking in corridors hoping to catch a piece of information that might be helpful, if he could get it out.
He’s in the hangar when the alarm sounds. Rushes to action stations, jumping in his TIE and preparing for flight, briefing in his ears. The Rebels have found the Death Star. Tycho ignores the details; he’d rather see for himself.
They’ve sent a formidable fleet. Comprised of a half dozen capital ships, assisted by support ships, and a sizable snubfight contingent; X-Wings, A-Wings and B-Wings all fly in formation. If this were an ordinary day, the Rebels’ fleet against a standard imperial one, this would be a fair fight. They might stand a chance.
But it’s not. The Death Star is shielded, kept safe by the planet below. The Empire has a fleet of reinforcements hidden in the shadow of Endor’s ice moon. Those things will turn the odds in the Empire’s favour.
They’ve got to have a plan. They wouldn’t be here without one. Tycho hopes to hell it’s a good one. He has no wish to bear witness to a massacre today.
Tycho sets his squadron into formation, ahead of their home star destroyer. He keeps his ship steady. Watches the IFF codes dance across the screen. The Rebels are heading swiftly for the Death Star.
And then they break off their attack. They must know they’ve been caught.
Tycho hears the order to advance. He glances back at his screen. He wonders who he might have to shoot down today, who might shoot him down. He wonders if Wedge is here—he probably is. If the Force is kind, she’ll make it so they avoid each other.
Tycho leads his squadron into battle with no small amount of dread in his stomach.
Lasers blaze across Tycho’s screen. In the distance, he sees a Star Destroyer lose power, hurtling down towards the surface of the Death Star. It crashes, exploding, and Tycho doesn’t want to think about the number of lives that went with it. Even if they were Imperial.
The Rebels have been losing ships too. At least one had disintegrated under the Death Star’s functioning laser cannon. Others have been taken by the swarm of TIE fighters, or caught in the barrage of fire from the Star Destroyers.
Tycho doesn’t know how much longer they’ll hold out.
Some of the Rebels are inside the Death Star now. Members of Tycho’s squadron are in there too, chasing the Rebels through the tunnels of that giant thing. It’s a suicide mission to follow them, Tycho thinks, to do the tight flying required and not get shot down. He moves away from the Death Star, because the Rebels have succeeded in blowing at least one of these things up before, and Tycho wouldn’t want to bet against them now.
He picks up an X-Wing on his tail, and dodges and darts to shake it. He wonders who it is, whether it’s someone he knows. He wishes there was some way for them to tag him as a friendly, but that would involve broadcasting on an open channel; too dangerous in the heat of battle, when he has no idea who might emerge the victor. He just has to fly better than his opponent.
Staying alive would be easier if he was in a ship with shields, he thinks, as the X-Wing fires a laser barrage that only just misses him.
But Tycho hasn’t stayed alive this long out of just pure luck. He’s good at what he does. He spins his ship, kicking his engines up, darting up and over the X-Wing and out of their sights. This is the moment where, if he was a good Imperial soldier, he’d shoot the X-Wing down. But he isn’t, and he doesn’t have to, and so he just flies on.
He darts high, above the battle, out of the way of misfired lasers, and waits. Calculates in his head how long the Rebels should take, flying through the Death Star. And then he spots it; a single ship, exiting the labyrinth. It’s a Y-Wing. And then another, an A-Wing, on the opposite side. They must have been diversions.
Silently, he prays for the mission to succeed. The Rebels have come this far. They got the shield down. They survived long enough to send pilots into the heart of that thing. This is the closest they’ve ever come to taking the Empire down.
The explosion, when it comes, is fierce, sending a shockwave out that throws everyone off balance. It lights up Tycho’s vision, temporary blinding him with the brightness. When he can see again, the Death Star is no longer there.
They’ve done it.
The Rebels have done it.
The invitation to surrender is broadcast on an open channel, from the Rebels to all Imperial ships. Tycho wonders whether he should surrender quietly, retain some semblance of his cover. But it’s the end of the war. The Rebels’ victory here is decisive. There’s no more good he can do staying in the shadows.
“Home One, this is Captain Tycho Celchu,” he says, revelling in the name of the Rebel ship on his tongue, echoing across the open channel. “Tell your pilots I’m on their side.”
A blast of chatter, betrayal, comes in from Tycho’s pilots. He mutes that channel swiftly, switching his identify system to make the TIE pilots as foes, the Rebels as friends.
“Captain Celchu?” Even over the creaky rebel transmissions, that crackle and distort anyone’s voice, Tycho thinks he can recognise a familiar tone. “This is Red Leader. Glad to see you again. Fancy helping us mop up this rabble?”
It’s Wedge. He’s alive, and he’s here, they’re both here. They survived this.
“Red Leader,” Tycho replies. “It would be my pleasure.”
Tycho flies for a few hours, helping mop things out. Not just alongside Wedge—though the half-hour Tycho spends flying his wing feels like coming home, like this was where he is meant to be. It’s a relief after all these years to be flying with people he believes in.
He pulls into the hangar, aware of how his TIE fighter stands out. But he is guided into place, and pops the hatch, escaping the cockpit on his own. A technician offers a ladder awkwardly, but none of the Rebellion’s equipment is designed for Sienar ships. Tycho shakes his head at them, and jumps down on his own.
He’s lost his helmet already, but he feels awkward in his black flightsuit. The Rebels are a riot of colour; orange, blue, green and grey. A multitude of species is represented. It’s almost an assault, after the blandness of the Empire, but Tycho likes it.
Two men in orange make their way towards him, and it doesn’t take Tycho long to recognise them. Wes and Hobbie. Both of them, alive. Hobbie reaches him first, and pulls him into a back slapping embrace. “You should have heard the way Wedge shouted when we heard your voice,” he says. “Force, it’s a miracle you made it.”
“Can’t imagine the bollocking I’d have got from Wedge if I’d actually shot you down,” Wes says.
“That was you?” Tycho asks.
“Thanks for not vaping my ass when you pulled one over on me.” Wes is all smiles, his cheerful demeanour on full display. “Thought that was a bit odd, makes sense now.”
“Where is Wedge?” Tycho asks, looking round. He can’t see Wedge amongst the crowd, but it’s such a riot of people that Tycho could just be missing him.
“He headed straight for the surface,” Hobbie answers. “We’ve all got instructions to follow. We figured we might see if we could find something else for you to wear though, so you didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.”
Tycho glances down. Yeah, he wants to get out of these clothes. Wants to tear the sigil of the Empire off his shoulder, replace it with the Rebellion Starbird, the mark of allegiance where he truly belongs. “Sounds like a plan to me.”
Tycho climbs his way through the Ewoks’ strange structures, making his way past the revellers. Wedge was up at the main encampment, apparently. He and Wes and Hobbie had all set off to find him, but Tycho has lost the other pair to other well-wishers and friends.
Even clad now in a green flightsuit, Tycho is aware of the fact he doesn’t know anyone here but the three of them. He keeps going, guided by the light of the fires burning bright. Follows the chatter of jubilation towards the core of the party.
He spots a pilot in a orange flightsuit, standing a little apart from the main festivities. Dark hair, Wedge’s height. It’s too dim, and Tycho’s too far away to be sure. He heads in that direction anyway. Watches as the dark haired pilot is drawn into a hug by a man dressed in black, has his hair ruffled by a Wookiee.
It’s Wedge. Tycho is sure of it now. He speeds up his steps, weaving in and out of people. He doesn’t know if Wedge will recognise him, dressed the way he is, but he catches Wedge’s eye, and sees Wedge’s face light up with recognition, Wedge leave his self-assigned post to step determinedly towards Tycho.
They meet, almost crashing into each other. Tycho’s hands grip Wedge’s upper arms, Wedge’s fingers graze the edge of Tycho’s jaw. “Hey,” Tycho says, all the words falling out his mouth.
“Hey you,” is all Wedge says in response, before he tugs Tycho in for a kiss. It’s soft and comforting, and everything else falls away; there’s just Wedge, Wedge kissing him, like he’s kissed him a million times before.
When they draw apart, Tycho is aware they’re being heckled. “Who’s your friend, Antilles?” a tall man, confident swagger in the way he hold himself, asks. Behind him, the man in black Tycho saw before, alongside a short woman, also look on in fascination.
Wedge sighs, and Tycho is about to make excuses, draw away, apologise for his interruption of whatever this was, when Wedge’s arm tightens around his waist, grip just a little possessive. “I’d say it was none of your business, Han,” Wedge says. “But. This is Tycho. He’s the one who saved Hobbie.”
“He’s the one who you’ve been mooning over, all these months?” the man in black steps forward, giving Tycho an appraising look. Tycho would worry, but he’s got a smile on his face. “Nice to meet you Tycho. I’m Luke.”
Tycho shakes the offered hand. “Skywalker?” he asks, flicking his eyes back to Wedge, who’s smiling too. Both Wedge and Luke nod, and Tycho is a little awed in the presence of the Rebellion’s Jedi.
“Luke Skywalker, yeah. Han Solo’s our heckler. Can’t miss Chewbacca.” The Wookiee roars. “Lando–Lando, get over here,” Wedge calls to an attractive gentleman with a moustache. “Lando Calrissian, he led the attack on the Death Star. And—” Wedge turns to the small, dark haired woman, whose hair is falling over her shoulders. “I think you know—”
Tycho recognises her now. He doesn’t know how he didn’t before. She’s a little older than the girl he remembers from the royal family’s broadcasts, but her eyes and her smile are the same. He pulls away from Wedge, bows his head on instinct.
“You don’t have to do that,” Leia says, a lightness in her voice. “Any friend of Wedge is a friend of mine. And I know about everything you’ve done for us.” She reaches her hands out, taking both of Tycho’s. “You’ve made Alderaan proud,” she says, in a quiet and serious way.
“Thank you,” he says, because, somehow, hearing her say that; it makes the burden of all those past years ease.
He and Wedge sleep out under the stars that evening. Wedge finds them a quiet clearing, that somehow isn’t already full of people. For some, the party still goes on, but for them; they want the quiet. They lie down, side by side, hands clasped together, and stare upwards.
“I don’t remember the last time I saw a peaceful sky,” Tycho says.
“The war’s gone on a long time,” Wedge replies. “It’s been a while.”
“Do you think it’s over now?”
Tycho turns his head towards Wedge, so he can observe Wedge’s reaction. Wedge sighs. “I’d like to think so,” Wedge says. “But I have a feeling they’re gonna be stubborn bastards about it. But it’s a start.” Then Wedge turns his head. “You’re here. And you don’t have to go back to them. That’s as much of a victory as I need, for now.”
There’s a soft-spoken declaration in there, hidden between Wedge’s words. About how Wedge wants Tycho to stay. That there might be something to this thing between them.
But Tycho doesn’t want to press his luck, so instead he says: “I’m glad you made it out alive.”
“I never thought I would,” Wedge says. “From the moment the Empire enlisted me, I thought I knew I’d die in this war.” Wedge reaches out, using a hand to comb through Tycho’s hair, sweep it back behind his ear. “I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad I got to meet you.”
Tycho smiles softly, shuffling so that he’s closer to Wedge. He knows at some point he should say that Wedge was one of the reasons he fought this war, why he made the choices he made. He wonders what he can say in response, then realises that he doesn’t want to talk. He leans forward to kiss Wedge, pulling him in, tightens his fingers in Wedge’s hair, and breathes in.
Of course, the fact that the Emperor is dead, and Darth Vader too, and all number of senior admirals of the fleet, doesn’t stop the Empire. They’re still holding a lot of planets, with a lot of ships, and are capable of still inflicting a world of hurt on the Galaxy if they so choose.
So when Airen Cracken, the Rebellion’s new head of intelligence, asks Tycho for help taking them down, Tycho can hardly say no.
It means seeing goodbye to Wedge, but Wedge has work of his own to do. It’s hardly like the Rogues are a regular squadron, flying standard missions right now. Tycho can’t join them, can’t fly alongside Wedge the way he’d dreamed of doing. There is other work to do.
So Tycho goes off to try and do his bit to save the Galaxy once again.
When Tycho hears that Wedge has been gravely injured on what should have been a safe mission, he wrangles himself back to Chandrila. Sets up a meeting with the Chancellor just to get himself on planet. Mon Mothma, wry and all-knowing, tolerates his arguments about how the New Republic should be moving about the Imperial remnant for about fifteen minutes before she waves him off, telling him exactly where Wedge is.
Tycho scurries across Hanna City, from the political centre to the military hospital where Wedge is recovering. He follows the Chancellor’s instructions up to the third floor of the recovery wing, and finds Wedge’s name on the door.
He knocks. He’s unsure whether he’s supposed to wait, if barging straight in is acceptable. If he’s got the sort of relationship with Wedge that allows for bursting into a hospital room, full of concern. It’s only a moment though, before a woman’s voice says, “Come in.”
So Tycho enters. Wedge is lying in the hospital bed, a little pale, but well enough; Tycho had read the report, and he knew Wedge’s injuries were bad. A silver-haired woman is sitting besides him, in casual clothes. Tycho doesn’t recognise her. But then, he knows so little about Wedge that she could be his sister, or even his mother.
“Tycho!” Wedge says, sitting a little more upright in bed. A smile crosses his face. “I thought you were off in the Anoat Sector?”
“The Chancellor wanted to see me, so I came here,” Tycho says, even though it’s not entirely the truth. “And I heard you’d gotten into trouble. I thought you promised me you’d stay safe.”
“It’s not like getting tortured by the Empire was in the plan!” Wedge grumbles in protest, and Tycho has to hold back a laugh—there’s a pout on his face which is just adorable.
“No, but crashing your ship, that was intentional.” The silver-haired woman speaks up, levelling a glare at Wedge that he withers under. Tycho did know that, it was in the report, but it’s nice to hear someone else ream Wedge out for his stupid choices. “Norra Wexley,” she says, standing to introduce herself, offering Tycho a hand to shake. “You think you can look after this idiot for a bit?” she asks, gesturing to Wedge.
“I think I’ll manage,” Tycho replies, secretly glad he doesn’t have to ask her to leave them alone. She leaves, and Tycho takes up residence in the chair she was sitting in. He reaches across the bed to thread his fingers through Wedge’s, rubbing his thumb over the back of Wedge’s hand. “I thought Hobbie was supposed to be the reckless one,” Tycho says. “Or I’d have petitioned High Command to let me watch your back more.”
“Your work is important, Tych,” Wedge protests. He tightens his hand in Tycho’s. “I got unlucky. It happens to the best of us.”
Tycho doesn’t disagree. After Endor, all he wanted was to be with Wedge, in whatever capacity he could. But that hasn’t happened, because they both of them have found themselves with duties that have taken them to the other end of the Galaxy.
“Come here,” Wedge asks, tugging on Tycho’s hand. Tycho lets himself be drawn up, turns into Wedge’s left hand as it cradles his face. “You worry too much,” he says, before kissing Tycho softly.
“Can you blame me?” Tycho replies, in a gap between Wedge’s kisses, but it’s hard to be stern with Wedge when all Tycho really wants to do is enjoy being with him, for whatever time they can get.
“So, what’s going on with you and Wedge?” Hobbie asks, a couple of months later. He and Wes have been flying support for missions to liberate planets where the local imperials have struck out on their own, determined to keep the local regime intact. Tycho is still going wherever the Republic sends him, advising on tactics and Imperial strategy. Wedge is still based on Chandrila, away from the frontlines.
“Why are you asking?” Tycho replies. The truth is, he isn’t sure; doesn’t know what it is enough to explain to anyone else the connection he has with Wedge. It’s the sort of thing that defies explanation. A deep seated sense that he and Wedge were meant to go through life side by side, somehow.
Hobbie squirms. “He and Wexley seemed awfully friendly when we saw them last month,” Wes supplies. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say something was going on.”
Tycho furrows his brow. He remembers how he went to visit Wedge, and Norra Wexley was sitting at his bedside, and how she never seemed far from his side, that week he spent on Chandrila. He can see how someone would reach that conclusion. “Wedge is entitled to have friends,” Tycho says. “Or a relationship, if that’s what he wants. It’s not like we’ve made commitments to each other.”
“But you want to,” Hobbie says, and Tycho can’t really argue with that. He wants a lot of things. “You and Wedge belong together, anyone can see that.”
The next time Tycho is on Chandrila, he finds himself in Wedge’s apartment, sitting at Wedge’s kitchen counter, eating takeout—Tycho has been forewarned not to eat anything Wedge cooked, so he’d brought food with him—and reflecting in the odd domesticity of it.
They talk about what’s going on with their lives; Tycho, struggling with his responsibilities and the promotion that’s just come through, Wedge, training new pilots and aiding Norra where he can. Tycho had seen the pair of them, earlier, when he’d been in the military base, and he can see why Hobbie and Wes had had concerns. There’s definitely a spark between them, the sort of thing that could develop into a relationship—but it hasn’t yet.
Wedge is in the middle of some story about Norra’s son’s latest antics when Tycho blurts out what’s on his mind. “You know you don’t have to wait for me.”
Wedge stops short.
He furrows his brow in confusion, sets his fork down, pushes his plate aside. He looks at Tycho’s face, and seems so desperately confused. “What in the force do you mean by that?”
Rubbing the back of his neck, and avoiding Wedge’s eyes. “I’m hardly around a lot. If you meet someone else, you shouldn’t feel like you owe me anything.”
“There is no one else,” Wedge says. He cocks his head, taking a moment to think. “This is about Norra, isn’t it? Tycho, she’s married! And fifteen years older than me besides. And she’s not you.”
“I don’t know when my work is done. When I’ll be able to settle down. You deserve more, Wedge.”
“You’ll give me more, when you can.” Wedge is insistent in his response. “What about me, don’t I get to make my choices about whether I think you’re worth it? Because I do, Tycho Celchu. I think you’re worth waiting for.” Wedge gets to his feet, and pulls Tycho’s chair out and round so Tycho is forced to face Wedge directly. “I want you. I want us to be together.” Another moment of silence hangs between them. Then, Wedge drops his hold on Tycho’s chair and turns away. “Unless you don’t want that.”
There’s a quiet devastation in Wedge’s voice, and it forces Tycho to move forward, catching Wedge’s hands in his own, tugging Wedge back towards him.
“I want that,” Tycho says, quietly, rubbing circles into Wedge’s palms. “But I didn’t want to assume you wanted the same.”
Wedge uses his legs to nudge Tycho’s knees apart, stepping into the space. “I do. I’ve known since the first time I saw you, that you were going to be important to me. And I know now that I love you.”
“You’ve known since that backwater planet, where you interrogated me on my identity?”
Wedge chuckles softly, shaking his head. “Before. I saw you before. It was a Rebel base, just after Yavin. You were talking to Hobbie. I saw you and …. I could feel all the ways you’d fit into my life.”
“I said yes to intelligence because of you,” Tycho says, words falling out of his mouth in a rush, confessing just how much Wedge means. “I didn’t know what I was going to do, if going back to the Empire was the right choice. But I saw you and somehow I knew that I needed to keep you safe, and that going undercover was the best way to do that.” Tycho leans up, makes sure he looks Wedge straight in the eye. “I didn’t think you would remember me.”
Wedge reaches out, stroking his thumb across Tycho’s cheekbone. “Forget a face like yours? Not likely.” He leans in for a kiss, one that Tycho meets gladly. “I love you. I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life.”
Tycho wraps his hands around Wedge’s waist, pulling him even closer. “I love you too,” he says, voicing the words that he’d been too scared to admit to himself aloud.
“What are you going to do now?” Princess Leia asks Tycho, some time after the Battle of Jakku, after they’re sure that the Empire has really gone for good this time.
Tycho isn’t sure he knows what a life without the Empire means. It’s consumed his entire being for so long now. But he knows who he wants to spend it with. “Wedge is training new pilots on Hosnian Prime. I think I’m gonna join him.”