Come What May
by Angela Jade
Part eight - directly before the Battle of Endor
"The Emperor has made a critical error, and the time for our attack has come."
This is it. The big one. The battle that could finish the war and defeat the Empire.
Wish you were here with me, Luke, flying on my wing. But maybe itís better youíre not - I donít suppose weíll all be coming home after this mission. I have no idea where you are right now, but I hope you realize Iím thinking of you.
Leia told me what you did, how you rescued Han and escaped the Hutt. She said you were magnificent. What I wouldnít have given to see you in action.
Of course, now Han and Leia have taken on the most difficult, fool-hardy, near-suicidal... vital mission in the whole plan; taking out the shield generator. Donít give them much chance of living through it, but hopefully theyíll be able to get it down long enough for us to blast that Death Star and the Emperor back to whatever hell they sprang from.
But at least youíre safe. At least youíre not...
Like Rebel pilot quarters the galaxy over, the room was about as sparsely furnished as possible. Two beds (one unused), two storage lockers, an information workstation - barely enough to call it home. Occupants shipped in and then shipped out again, their worldly possessions strictly limited depending on their mode of transport.
Wedge sat stiffly on the perfectly made spare bed and glared at Lukeís black-clad form. "You canít be serious. Youíre the last Jedi in the entire galaxy - youíre too valuable to risk on a mission like this."
Luke paused in unpacking his carryall, his back still towards Wedge. "Iím going where Iím needed."
"Needed?" Wedge leapt to his feet, concern and anger and fear churning inside him, turning his feelings into an emotional soup. And yet, professionalism and logic won through. "We need pilots, Commander. Especially pilots whoíve been up against a Death Star before."
An empty ration box bounced forcefully off the bed. "That was a low blow, Wedge."
"Itís the truth. That DS might not be complete, but you can bet your last credit itíll have a whole bunch of TIEs on board. And way too many of our fighters and bombers are piloted by raw recruits who have no idea what theyíre getting into." Wedge reached out and brushed his fingertips over Lukeís back. "Please, Luke, come with me..."
"I canít," whispered Luke, turning around and fixing Wedge with a determined look. "I have to go with Leia."
"You have to go with Leia? Leia has Han now - she doesnít need you acting like some kind of bodyguard any more."
Lukeís gaze dropped to the floor. "Itís... more complicated than you know."
"So enlighten me."
"I donít want to fight, Wedge. Not now. Please..."
"Donít fight me, then. Get your ass into that X-wing of yours and come with me."
"No. I have to go to Endor, to help Han and Leia and the others..."
Wedgeís last scraps of patience deserted him. "Itís suicide, Luke!"
"No, itís not. Thereís a very good chance..."
"Oh, please! Youíll be quoting me the odds next!"
"Sith! What is your problem, Antilles?" Luke glared angrily. "Itís war - life and death situations are our stock in trade!"
"I donít want you to go!" It wasnít until the echoes died down that Wedge realized heíd been shouting.
"Why the hell not?"
"Because I... I love you." His head dropped dejectedly and he fought the tears that threatened to spill down his cheeks. "I love you, dammit, and I donít want to lose you." Without waiting for a reply, he turned on his heel and left.
Sitting in the cockpit of his X-wing, Wedge could almost convince himself it hadnít happened. Had he really just told the one person he couldnít have that he loved him? Maybe Luke would forget, maybe he hadnít even heard the words... Wedge hit his head off the back of the seat a few times in frustration. Of course heíd heard. And right now Luke was probably trying to figure out what in the galaxy heíd done to deserve the infatuation of a dumb pilot he was too busy to spend time with.
Blowing out a sigh, he picked at a loose fleck of paint on the helmet cradled in his lap. It didnít really matter. They were probably all going to be dead soon anyway.
"Red Leader." The squawk of the comm jolted him out of his reverie and almost out of his seat, his helmet thunking off the stick. A glance at the console showed the call originated from another Rebel ship. "Red Leader, report."
Puzzled, Wedge flicked the comm switch. Most of the pilots were still in their quarters making last minute preparations before they were called. No one knew Wedge was in his fighter. "This is Red Leader."
There was a short, static-filled pause. "Wedge, itís Luke."
Shit, shit, shit.
Wedgeís finger hovered over the cutoff switch; he didnít think he could take any more embarrassment.
"Iím sorry, Wedge."
Youíre sorry? "What for?"
"For treating you like crap. For not being around. For not telling you... everything."
"Luke, you donít have to do this. Iím sorry about what I said earlier - it wasnít fair..."
"I love you, too, Wedge."
Stunned, Wedge gripped his helmet tightly and stared at the console, hardly daring to believe his ears.
"I think Iíve always loved you," Luke continued quietly. "I thought you knew."
"No." Relief and happiness intertwined, fusing and expanding to become soaring exhilaration as the words Wedge hadnít realized heíd been longing to hear continued to echo in his head. ...love you...
Lukeís sigh hissed over the comm channel. "You mean after all this time, after all weíve been through, you didnít know that I loved you?"
Wedge swallowed; suddenly the cockpit seemed to contain a lot less oxygen than it usually did. "You never said."
"Iím from Tatooine. Weíre not big on sentimentality."
"Oh." Thoughts tumbled over one another in Wedgeís brain as his heart pummeled against his ribs. I love you. Weíre going to die. I have to see you... "Luke, where are you?"
"Hanger 57. Iím in the Imperial shuttle, warming up the engines. Iíll... Iíll be leaving when Han and the others arrive in a few minutes."
No time. There was never enough time. "Be careful, Luke. Be very, very careful."
"I will." A pause. "May the Force be with you, Wedge."
"And you. Always with you."
Continued in Part Nine