Where the Corellian Ale came from, Grainne would never know. She suspected Lando had stored it on the Falcon, expecting to win. Either that or someone sneaked it aboard a Mon Cal battle cruiser, but Admiral Akbar would have had a fit. He certainly didnít seem opposed to it at the moment, Grainne noticed with a smirk. She leaned against a tree and watched as Chewbacca tried to dance with an Ewok, to the amusement of all assembled.
Everyone was happy...but despite their victory, Grainne couldnít help feeling a bit melancholy. Sheíd been with the strike team that took down the shields and, as always, the killing upset her. Theyíd lost good people, sheíd lost friends, and tomorrow they would keep fighting, just like after Yavin. Tonight we celebrate and tomorrow...itís business as usual. It was foolish to think that the remnants of the Empire would just give up. No doubt someone would step up to take the Emperorís place, and more friends would have to die.
On top of that, he was surrounded by females. He. The love of her life, light of her heart, yada yada. Great, Grainne. First youíre maudlin, now youíre just frickiní idiotic. Youíve been friends for five years now, if he were going to fall in love with you heíd have done it already.
"That frown," a voice from behind her said, "is unnatural. You need more booze."
Grainne started, then smiled as Wedge Antilles refilled her cup and handed it back to her. He couldnít have read her mind, so how...? She didnít care; she was just glad he was there. "Iím sorry, I donít know whatís wrong with me."
He sat down at her feet. "It gets to be too much, doesnít it? The death, the loss. You wish the fighting were over, but you know it isnít." He patted the ground and she sat beside him.
"How did you learn to read minds? Been taking lessons from Luke?"
"Nope. Just thinking the same thing." They shared a smile. "I have, after much pondering, found the answer." He paused, took a drink, watched the dancers.
"Well?" she poked him.
"Oh, you want to hear it? OK, tonight is tonight." He looked at there and raised his eyebrow. "You with me so far? And tomorrow will take care of itself."
Grainne shook her head. "Live for today? How Corellian."
"Sticks and stones...How come you arenít dancing? Thereís lots of guys around."
"Yes, but Iím waiting for someone special to come along." She didnít look at him. "Whereís your harem?"
Wedge rolled his eyes. "Theyíre about. Iíve escaped them and left Lando in their clutches." They sat in silence for a few minutes, watching the fireworks, relaxing in the comfort of old friendship. Grainne banished the turbulent thoughts to the back of her head and enjoyed just being near him. Who knows? Next time he might not make it back. I donít want to ruin it.
He looked over at her, a playful smile on his lips. "So, whoís the someone special?"
Oh, gods "No one. Just..." Grainne blushed.
"Who is it? Come on, you can tell me." She shook her head. "Is it someone I know?"
She thought for a moment. "Maybe," she teased.
Wedge groaned. "Weíve known each other since before Yavin, donít go getting coy with me now."
Grainne refused to meet his gaze. She cast about for a new topic of conversation and saw a tall, blonde woman approach, a seductive smile on her lips. "Ooh, look. Hereís one of your fan club." She smirked at him. "I guess thatís one of the perks of being a hero, huh? Easy..."
Wedge scrambled to his feet. "Gods be damned, I canít handle this. Címon." He grabbed Grainneís hand and tugged.
"Ow! Hey, youíre pulling my arm out of the socket!" She stumbled along after him onto a walkway. When theyíd gone several feet, Wedge pulled her into an embrace, his back to the gathering.
"Is she gone yet?" Grainne tried to control her racing pulse and peered around his shoulder at the now disappointed young woman.
"Nope. Sheís glaring daggers."
"Damn." He didnít loosen his hold. "Hey, you smell good."
"You smell like wet bantha." Under her cheek, Grainne felt laughter rumble in his chest.
"Thatís the price of saving the galaxy. How would you know what a wet bantha smells like anyway; youíve never been to Tatooine."
Grainne smiled and forced herself to look again. "Sheís gone." He didnít move. Is he holding me? Does he realize what heís doing to me? She pulled away and glared up at him. "That was just hopelessly rude, you know. She canít be that bad."
He stepped back and shrugged. "I canít get used to these...these groupies. I donít know how Luke and Han handled it. You know, I never met that woman before tonight, and she offered to...well never mind what she offered, but, oh gods...!"
Grainne laughed at his obvious discomfort. "You sound just like Luke after Yavin. But youíre no Tatooine farm boy, why are you so shocked?"
Wedge leaned against the railing. "I donít know. Itís just that she doesnít even know me, she thinks Iím a big hero and thatís all that matters to her." He turned to face Grainne. "Thatís not what I want. I want someone like you," he paused and Grainneís breath caught in her throat. "You know me, you know Iím just a guy. I wouldnít have to pretend with you."
She couldnít look at him, she gazed at the trees and smiled. "I think youíre pretty heroic. For a bantha."
"Thanks." Wedge looked back at the celebration. "Sorry, I forgot you were waiting for someone. We can go back."
"Thatís OK." She feined interest in a vine. "He probably wouldnít notice me anyway." She jumped at the feel of Wedgeís hand on her hair.
"Then heís a fool," he said softly.
She trembled. She didnít mean to, but she couldnít pretend he wasnít there, touching her, just one motion away from taking her in his arms and... He stepped back and his tone lightened.
"Do you remember when we met? On Malestare, when I got shot in the leg? I thought I was dead for sure, then your group came in and you blasted that trooper that was about to take me out. Sith, how old were you? 15? 16? I knew you were just a kid, but at that moment I thought you were the prettiest thing."
"I assume that was before you called me every name in the Huttese dictionary."
"You made me walk out!"
She grinned; theyíd had this argument before. "Well, I couldnít carry you."
"I said I was sorry," he grumbled. "Anyway, good as new."
"Three cheers for bacta."
"And for lucky shots."
Grainne snorted. "Wasnít luck, baby, it was pure skill. Imagine what I could do in an X-Wing."
Wedge covered his eyes. "The mind boggles." She shrieked and punched him playfully. He grabbed her around the waist and lifted her, kicking, into the air. "Donít make me turn you upside down, Grainne. You donít want dropped on your head again." He tried to pin her arms as she squirmed, but she swept a foot behind him and knocked them both over, landing on top of him. He flipped her over and pinned her wrists to the ground.
"OK! I give!" Grainne laughed, trying to ignore the warmth spreading through her body.
"Itís not that easy," Wedge grinned. "Tell me who you were waiting for."
She struggled in vain; he was much stronger than her and his weight kept her pinned. It was impossible to relax, too; this position figured too often in her dreams. "Donít be a jerk, Wedge, let me up. What if your harem sees us?"
"Tomorrow theyíll ask how I was."
"And Iíll say terrible, lasted 10 seconds, couldnít..." she laughed as Wedge hopped to his feet and hauled her up.
"If you only knew."
Oh, but I want to know. She watched as he sauntered back to the railing and peered over into the darkness below.
"Is it dangerous on the ground at night?"
She followed his gaze. "It wasnít last night. Thereís a ladder over here." She stepped down to the second rung. "Want to explore?"
The descent wasnít far, but the lights from the village above barely reached the forest floor. It was impossible to see more than a few feet. Who knows whatís lurking out there Grainne shivered.
"Are you cold?" Wedge put a protective arm around her.
"No, just hoping we cleared all the Imperials out."
"Fear not, fair maiden, the handsome, dashing hero will protect you."
"How do you fit that ego into your cockpit?" Grainne laughed, leaning against him ever so slightly. Maybe he wonít notice
"Itís a tight squeeze," Wedge acknowledged, laughing with her. They moved away from the ladder toward the outer edge of the light. She could hear music and laughter drifting down from above, as though it came from a ghost world, and they were truly alone. Grainne leaned against an ancient tree and wondered how the bark would feel against her bare skin, how it would feel to be pressed between it and the man who stood before her, and silently willed him to come to her. She was grateful for the dark; she knew her face was flushed.
Wedge looked to the sky at the spot where the Death Star had been destroyed. More X-Wings flew overhead in complicated patterns and every now and again someone would set off a series of fireworks that showered color onto the faces of observers. He turned back and held out his hand, and Grainne came forward timidly. She slid her small hand into the warmth of his larger one and felt his fingers tighten around hers. "Look, Grainne," he whispered, pointing to the sky. "We did it. The Emperor is gone and weíre going to win."
She nodded, unsure of what to say, and squeezed his hand in return. He looked down and smiled. "What would I do without you? I you hadnít gotten that shield down, if you hadnít been at Malestare, if you hadnít always been there when we needed you, when *I* needed you..." he broke off suddenly and looked away.
"I donít know when things changed. You were just a cute kid, then it got so the best part of coming back to base was seeing you." Grainne felt her heart pounding. Surely he could hear it, she had to tell him she felt the same, but he shook his head as if to stop her from saying the words she couldnít find. "Please, I have to say this. When I was up there today, and the shield wasnít down, I thought you... I thought..." he swallowed hard. "I canít go back to the way things were between us; itís tearing me apart. I know that Iím not who you want, but I need you to know that I... I love you."
Wedge had a death grip on her hand, but Grainne wasnít about to pull away. She raised her free hand and caressed his cheek. "You are who I want, Wedge. Youíre everything I want."
He stared as if in shock, then turned his face into her hand and kissed the palm. He ran both his hands over her shoulders and up her neck to frame her face, then placed tentative, chaste kisses on her eyelids, the tip of her nose, her mouth. Her lips parted and his tongue delved in, teasing hers and tasting the sweet flavor of her breath. Their tongues danced, then his retreated to allow hers to explore his mouth. His breathing grew ragged as she thrust into his mouth again and again in imitation of another act, one they both fervently hoped would follow.
His hands fell to the flare of her hips and pulled her against him. She gasped as she felt his erection hardening against her stomach. She ran a hand through his hair as the other trailed down his chest and traced the bulge in his pants. He broke away with a groan and laid his forehead against her shoulder.
"Are you sure?" he whispered.
Grainne nodded. He kissed her cheek and led her deeper into the forest, farther from the light. They found a spot cushioned with grass and leaves, illuminated by only the faintest light of a far-off star. He stood behind her, swept her hair to the side as her suckled her earlobe. His hands went to work unbuttoning her shirt, stroking her flesh as it was exposed. As the fourth button fell open, his hand slipped inside the cloth to fondle her breast. She moaned as he opened the front clasp of her bra and flicked his thumb across the nipple, then moved to the other breast to give it the same treatment.
Wedge finished with the buttons and slipped the shirt and bra off her shoulders, nipping and licking each inch of newly exposed flesh. He knelt behind her, one hand unfastening her pants as the other worked its way between her thighs, stroking her through the cloth. Grainneís knees trembled as he rested his hands on her hips and turned her around to face him. Warm, strong hands slid her pants and underwear to her knees, exposing her to his intense gaze. Suddenly she realized what she was doing; standing almost naked in front of a man, a position sheíd never found herself in before. Shyly, she tried to cover herself, but he took hold of her hands and moved them away. Looking up, he asked, "Have you ever...?" She shook her head, cheeks flaming.
"I want this. I do, but Iím..."
Wedge smiled gently and pressed a kiss to her stomach, his tongue darting into her navel. She cried out softly, all embarrassment forgotten. He unbuckled her boots and she stepped out of them and the remainder of her clothing. He stroked her legs from ankle to thigh, parting them gently, his mouth traveling lower until he came to her mound. Grainne hooked her leg over his shoulder as he ran his tongue along the folds of her lips. When she trembled, he held her hips tightly in his hands and began to flick his tongue against her nub. Her juices flowed freely and he tasted her with long, slow licks that almost, but not quite, penetrated her core. She writhed against him, begging for release as he brought her to the brink over and over but would not let her fall.
With maddening slowness, his tongue slipped into her core, tracing the edges so lightly that Grainne almost couldnít feel him, then he buried his face between her legs and stabbed his tongue into her, building the tempo until she shrieked in blissful agony and came, blood pounding, body shaking.
Wedge slipped her leg off his shoulder and lowered her body until she knelt facing him, shuddering. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his still-glistening lips, their tongues sharing her flavor. Her hands drifted to the top of his flight suit.
"I think we have a problem, Wedge."
He looked startled. "What is it?"
"You have entirely too much clothing on."Grainne unfastened his flight suit, spreading the fabric apart with her hands, feeling the play of muscle under his skin. She bent her head and nibbled at the tender flesh at the base of his neck, and thrilled to hear him gasp. Suddenly, she felt his hand on her face.
"Wait a second." Wedge sat down and tugged at his boots, tossing them to the side before he reached for her again. Grainne smiled slyly and placed a hand at the center of his chest, pushing him back until he lay propped on his elbows. She straddled his hips and opened the waist fastener. Her hands skimmed over the cloth, barely touching, driving him mad with light, teasing caresses. He moaned as her fingers disappeared under the waistband, stroking the hardened flesh beneath. His arms gave way and he fell back onto the forest floor, then shouted and rolled over, knocking Grainne to the ground unceremoniously.
He grimaced. "Tree root under the leaves. I fell right on it." He rubbed the small of his back ruefully as Grainne bit her lip and tried not to smile. "I can fly through hell without a scratch, but put me on the ground and Iím fair game for all plant life." He patted the ground near them, exaggeratedly looking for more hidden dangers. Grainne laughed and took his hand, pulling him to her.
Her blood rushed trough her veins and converged between her legs as she lay down before him. Her hands moved over his skin, feeling the strength in his arms and chest, then pushed his suit down over his hips and freed his erect member. His breath quickened as her small hand closed around him, stroking him tentatively at first, then with more confidence as he moaned in pleasure. She ran the tip of her finger around the head, spreading his wetness over the rest of his shaft. He thrust into her hand, coming closer to the edge, until he felt himself about to lose control.
He moved to cover her, resting his weight on his hands, and her legs parted eagerly for him. She guided him to her opening and he pressed the head against her folds, teasing her. Her hips bucked up to meet his and her hands cupped his ass, pulling him down to her. He took her lower lip between his and sucked, kissing her gently as he slid into her. Tears sprang from her eyes as her walls stretched to accommodate him. He held still for a long moment, kissing and murmuring into her ear until her body relaxed.
The initial pain was replaced by a new feeling, one that overshadowed all her previous desire. Grainne wrapped her legs around his narrow hips and thrust against him, matching his speed, feeling the pressure grow. She marveled at the feeling of him inside her, stroking her inner walls, penetrating deeper with every thrust until he was buried to the hilt and she cried out, feeling her body leap to a level sheíd never imagined. Every nerve converged and convulsed and transformed into a single flame that burned her soul. She heard him cry out her name and felt him spill inside her and they fell, spiraling through the center of the universe until they came to rest in each others arms.
They lay in the dark listening to the sound of each otherís hearts and the night music of the forest. Wedge stroked her hair and kissed her, then sat up. They dressed slowly, interrupting each other with frequent touches and quiet words. They rejoined the party, holding hands and sitting near their friends, enjoying the celebration. As the night wore on, Grainne leaned back against his chest and watched the stars rise, safe in the comfort of his arms.
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