Come What May
by Angela Jade
Part four - three days before the Battle of Hoth
Fear. Pure, concentrated fear - not the fear of a pilot in battle, when there is at least a veneer of control and the distraction of activity, but the unadulterated fear that is only produced by death itself.
He’s out there. Alone. And the chances against his survival are astronomical.
The door announcer buzzed, jolting Wedge out of the morbidity that had had him speculatively eyeing his blaster for the past half-hour. "Yeah?"
"Wedge? Wedge Antilles?" A petite figure dressed all in white stepped slowly into the room. "I... I hope you don’t mind..."
Wedge leaped to his feet, surprise stinging him into action. "Princess Leia!"
She smiled, and could almost have pulled off ‘happy’ if it weren’t for the worry-lines creasing her brow and the unshed tears glistening in her eyes. "I... I’m sorry. I asked around - if there was anyone particularly close to Luke - and they told me you were..." She trailed off, her brown eyes searching his.
At the mention of his lover’s name, all the energy seemed to leave Wedge in a rush and he sat heavily on the edge of his bed. Their bed. "We’re friends..."
The princess moved silently until she stood directly in front of him, her gray boots dominating his vision. "Just friends?"
From anyone else, the words might have sounded accusatory; pilots in the same squadron were officially forbidden from forming intimate relationships with each other. Although Luke and Wedge had decided that this particular rule did not apply to the Rogues, they had also chosen not to publicize their affair.
"Just friends?" Leia’s reiteration was spoken in the same gentle tone of voice she’d used the first time.
Ah, well - the ranat had to escape the bag sometime. "More than friends. We’ve been sleeping together."
"Oh." She sat down beside him, her weight shifting the mattress only slightly, her hand warm on his shoulder. “I should have known, I suppose. Shouldn’t be so busy that I don’t notice when a friend has found someone...” She sighed heavily. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude. I just don’t want to be alone right now, and I guessed you might need some company...” He looked up at her then, and saw her gaze had settled on the blaster that lay on the perfectly made bed opposite. “I wasn’t going to shoot myself.”
"No?" For a moment, she reminded him of Luke - their eyes might be a different color, but both could produce a piercing stare that ripped lies and half-truths from the recipient’s brain and prompted the truth.
A shrug. "Not just yet, anyway. I was going to wait, to... to see...” His voice cracked, and he forced himself to breathe deeply, to fight back the tears. The pain was too much, too hard to bear. He could feel it inside his body, a solid block dragging him down, engulfing his heart and squeezing his lungs.
An arm slid around his shoulders. "He’ll be okay."
"How? How will he be ‘okay’?" Wedge forced the words out through clenched teeth. "If his comm or his transmitter were working, we’d have picked them up by now. He’s got no overnight gear with him - have you any idea how low the temperature gets out there?"
The princess’s arm tensed around him, her fingers digging into his upper arm. "He has the Force..."
"The Force? The Force gives him bad dreams and makes him feel inadequate. The Force isn’t going to save him..."
"...and he has Han."
He saw it then, saw something familiar in her expression. "Are you in love with Luke?"
"No." A smile accompanied her gentle denial. "I care about him, but..."
"Captain Solo, then?"
"Sorry. I just thought..." He plucked anxiously at the material of his flightsuit, teasing wrinkles into ridged peaks, worrying at the resilient fabric with a finger nail. "I’m his wingman. I should have been the one to go out after him."
"You were asleep," Leia reasoned quietly. "Han was right there in the hanger..."
"Someone should have woken me."
Her free hand slipped into his, his fingers automatically closing around hers. "Han will find him, Wedge. I know he will. He has to."
"I wish there was something I could do. I feel so helpless."
"The shield doors are closed. All we can do is wait."
He nodded wordlessly and was glad when the princess lapsed into silence beside him. Muffled echoes of distant activity bounced down the corridor outside, but he shut them out, concentrating on the hushed stillness of the room and the unmoving figure beside him. Waiting there all night wouldn’t be so difficult - certainly not as difficult as surviving the frozen wastes of Hoth. He’d try to remember the good times, and hope against all logic that they weren’t over forever...
The harsh, repetitive beep of a comlink startled both of them; with an embarrassed grin, Leia disentangled her hand from Wedge’s and pulled the offending device out of a pocket. "Organa."
"Princess, we’re having a little trouble in hanger four..." The metallic resonance of the comlink couldn’t disguise the speaker’s agitation. "We’re trying to get the snowspeeders working, but Captain Solo’s co-pilot is making the job... umm... difficult."
"I’ll be right there." Standing up, she pulled at Wedge’s arm until he, too, rose. "Come on. We’re not going to do each other much good sitting here. You might as well come and help me calm Chewbacca down."
"But I can’t speak Wookiee..."
She lifted her chin defiantly towards him. "You can help fix a speeder, can’t you?"
"Yes." They’d turned down his offer of help before, but with the princess by his side... "I can do that."
"Let’s go, then. As soon as it’s light and the temperature’s up, we can get those speeders out. We will find them."
"Of course we will."
Hang on, my love. Hang on.
To be Continued...
Continued in Part Five