Lady Stardust
by Antigone


Cool air brushed his hair back from his forehead as he descended the ramp. General Wedge Antilles blinked into the bright sunlight, trying to pick out his contact from the crowd.

A human man in a pale suit stepped forward, stretching out his hand. "General Antilles, I am Trisk Vedan, ambassador to the New Republic. Welcome to Psynot."

His grip was firm, Wedge noted. The man was sure of himself and used to leading. Good. It would make his job easier.

"It is an honor to be here, Ambassador. Allow me to introduce my second-in-command, Colonel Tycho Celchu of Rogue Squadron." Vedan nodded at the blonde man and shook his hand.

Wedge was glad that Starfighter Command allowed Tycho to accompany him. He was still uncomfortable as a diplomat and wanted someone at his side; the Alderaanian had been his trusted wingman, and good friend, for years. Wedge would have liked his lover, Dr. Qwi Xux, to have joined him as well, but she was ensconced in some top-secret assembly with the New Republic Senate.

The ambassador was talking again. "I’m sure you are weary from your journey, General. I’ll show you to your quarters now. The Head of Council will meet you tonight at the Capitol."

Gratefully, Wedge settled into the back seat of the transport as it slid smoothly through the crowd toward the Embassy. He sighed and stared out the window.

"Something wrong, Wedge?" Tycho asked, amusement in his voice.

The Corellian glared at him. "I hate being paraded around. I hated it years ago, after Endor, and I hate it worse now. I have more important things to do than wear a dress uniform and swap war stories with politicians who’ve never seen a battle."

He grumpily shifted in his seat. "They don’t need me here. Psynot became a signatory weeks ago; I’m just here for entertainment."

The other man chuckled. "But you’re so much fun when you’re forced to be a diplomat, Wedge. You’re great entertainment."

"Traitor."

- - - - - - - -

"He’s on-planet, Colonel." The communications expert announced.

Colonel Xosu Emislaw nodded briskly, a tiny, satisfied smirk passing across his face. "Notify our man. ‘All necessary measures,’ and all that."

"Yes, sir."

"Emislaw turned back to the viewport, glancing sideways at the man beside him. “Yes, Captain?"

The other officer stood at attention, not betraying his nervousness. "Sir, are you certain this will work? It is, after all, and unsubstantiated rumor."

"Nonsense," the colonel snorted. "It’s a fact. A fact that has not yet been proven." He began ticking off on his fingers. "Antilles has not dated a human woman in years; hasn’t, in fact, shown any interest in them. He’s had the opportunity to enjoy several females of various species in his career; as far as we know, he has refused them all. He was reputedly quite jealous of Jedi Skywalker’s attentions to one of his pilots, that Corran Horn. As we all know, he was terribly attached to Baron Fel. And as for his ‘lover,’ the Omwati female, that is clearly a smokescreen. She is far too flighty to hold his attention."

"If you say so, sir."

"I do. Now shut up."

- - - - - - - -

The collar of his unitard was choking him. He managed to refrain from tugging at it, knowing how undignified it appeared. Wedge snorted, wondering how dignified it would be for a diplomat to turn blue and fall to the floor.

Blue. He sighed, thinking of Qwi’s blue skin, wishing she were with him. It might make this sillyness bearable. He stood with a circle of congresspersons, describing the taking of Thyferra to the admiring crowd. The Head of Council still hadn’t made his appearance, and the guests were starting to get restless.

Right on cue, the large double doors at the front of the chamber opened and everyone hushed. A tall, striking man, perhaps sixty standard years old, entered, followed closely by a slightly younger man. He nodded to several people as he moved further into the room, heading toward Wedge.

The man halted a few steps away and made a brief bow. "General Antilles, I am Buu Tremere, Head of Council for the glorious world of Psynot. I am most pleased that you have chosen to visit us."

Putting his best face on, Wedge returned the bow. " am honored to meet you, sir, and honored to be welcomed here on your beautiful world."

Tremere smiled and beckoned to the man at his side. "Please enjoy yourself, General," he said as he slipped his arm around the man’s waist. "We’ll have no formalities tonight." As Wedge watched in shock, Tremere lightly kissed the other man’s cheek and turned away.

His brain was still trying to reconcile what he’d seen with what he knew when a hand touched his arm. He turned to see Trisk Vedan standing beside him, a slight frown marring his features.

"Is something amiss, General?"

"No," Wedge assured him, then- "I thought the Head of Council was married."

"Oh, he is," Vedan nodded. "The other gentleman was merely his lover. Our first lady is here as well... yes, right over there." He pointed to a lovely, dignified woman with silver hair, speaking with a group of women. She turned to the dark-haired woman at her side and lifted her hand to her lips.

"Oh," was all Wedge could think to say. Actually, as he looked about, it seemed that everyone was with a person of the same gender.

Vedan was watching him with a concerned expression. "I’m sorry, General; you should have been informed sooner of our peculiar custom. You see," he took Wedge’s arm and pulled him gently away from the crowd, "while we do marry to propagate the species, we do not mate with our opposites for pleasure."

Wedge merely stared. "We believe that like must stay with like, you see," the ambassador continued. "Women, soft and fragile creatures that they are, could be damaged by continued contact with rough, virile men. And men, of course, can hardly take pleasure when they must be so cautious with their partners."

Wedge tried to cover his surprise. "Ah. Thank you for explaining this to me; I am not used to this arrangement."

Vedan smiled. "Yes, most of the galaxy is foolish enough to believe that men can only love women. I’ve even heard of places where our arrangement would be considered perversion."

Such as Corellia, Wedge thought, but he kept that to himself. It was not his place to judge these people, if their ways worked for them. The ambassador excused himself and left Wedge to observe the assembly, studying the freely expressed sexuality with interest.

And, buried so deeply that he was unaware of it, envy.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

--"People stared at the makeup on his face
laughed at his long black hair,
his animal grace..."-- Lady Stardust

"I assure you, General Antilles, that Brian Slade is one of the most popular and talented musicians around these days. He’s quite... unique." Trisk Vedan showed Wedge and Tycho to their seats right in front of the stage.

Wedge nodded absently, glancing around the crowded concert hall. This Slade must be quite popular indeed, he thought; the hall is packed with people. And Vedan said he plays to larger crowds than this all over the planet.

Tycho settled back in his seat and grinned. "C’mon, Wedge, relax a little. They’re obviously trying so hard. ‘If I take you to a really really fun show, will you be my best friend’?" he asked in a high, childish voice.

"You know, I expected you to have a maturing effect on Wes, not for him to have an immaturing effect on you."

"Well, I figured you missed him."

"Wrong."

"Liar," Tycho answered cheerfully. "Hey, sit down; it’s about to start."

The lights went down and the crowd cheered loudly. There was a rustling patter of feet as musicians ran onstage to grab their instruments. As they struck the first note, the stage lights began to raise, illuminating the band in red and purple.

The noise swelled, then there was a burst of pyrotechnics and a man appeared before Wedge. He was slightly taller than average, but that was the closest thing to ‘normal’ about him. His blue hair was long in the back, spiked on top, fine tendrils falling across his brow. His skin was too fair to be his natural complexion; it was obviously covered in the makeup that was put to such good use elsewhere on his face. His already prominent cheekbones were accentuated by too-dark blush; his eyes smeared with blue. And his lips...

Wedge felt that he ought to be put off by the man’s overblown persona. But as he watched this Brian Slade stalk about the stage like a great cat, sneering at the fans, then turning his mesmerizing eyes on Wedge, the Corellian knew that what he felt was far from disgust.

His voice rang out, the pulsing sensuality of it driving into Wedge’s veins, shooting straight to a place that had never been affected by a man.

The glittering costume clung to his lithe body, emphasizing every muscle, every intriguing bulge. Wedge sat back, trying to control his breathing, stunned at his reaction to this man. Slade sauntered toward the front of the stage, toward Wedge. His gaze drove into Wedge’s soul, then he licked his lips and turned away.

- - - - - - -

"I’m so pleased that you enjoyed the show, General. And you as well, Colonel Celchu." Vedan smiled proudly. "If you would like, Mr. Slade has invited you both to join him backstage."

Wedge looked at Tycho, who shrugged and nodded. "We’d like that, thank you," Wedge said nervously. He was unsure about meeting Slade; something about the man disturbed him. He couldn’t believe how he’d reacted to the erotic stage show, the overwhelming desire he’d felt. To be sure, Slade knew how to work a crowd; Wedge was sure he would have felt the same stirring of lust if he’d been female.

There was a crush of people waiting to get backstage; some with passes, most without but offering anything and everything to get one. The little group moved smoothly through them, past the guards, into a large room filled with holoshills and management types. Wedge and Tycho stood near the entrance, exchanging amused glances as the reporters inconspicuously tried to maneuver closer to them, to be in place should a photo op arise.

A great whoosh of air swept through the room as the back door opened. The reporters rushed forward, trying to catch the attention of the man who came striding through them, heading straight for the pilots. He stopped, took Wedge’s arm, and pulled him through the swarm without saying a word.

He still wore his tight, feathered costume. Wedge found himself staring at the muscles of the other man’s rear as he led them toward his dressing room. He swallowed hard and entered the sanctum, comforted by the presence of Tycho at his heels.

Slade dropped bonelessly onto a settee and motioned for them to sit as well. "Gods, lads. I’m sorry about that mess out there."

"It’s understandable," Tycho answered. "You’re quite popular."

"Umm, yes." The slender man stretched and gazed at Wedge, letting his eyes travel slowly over the General’s frame, openly admiring.

Dueling emotions tore him. He knew he should be offended, should make it known that he would not be involved in any debauchery, but his throat tightened and he couldn’t speak. The slow sensuality of this man took his breath away and that frightened him.

"Would you lovelies like a drink?" Slade snapped his fingers and a woman stepped forward. At least Wedge thought it was a woman; she appeared to have breasts, but her hair was cut short and she was dressed in a mannish silk suit.

"Whiskey, General?" her voice was soft, teasing. "We have an excellent Whyren’s Reserve, but the local wine is quite potent, if you prefer."

"Thank you, m-m- miss?" He tried not to make it a question, but her lips parted in a tiny laughing smile. "Wine sounds wonderful."

Vaguely, he heard Tycho say the same, and Slade nodded at the woman before turning back to the pilots. "I’m afraid things aren’t very interesting back here after the show. There’s a club a few blocks away; small, intimate, a perfect place to get to know each other."

Tycho must have heard the undercurrent of lust in the man’s voice. He accepted the wine that the woman presented to him and sipped slowly, then answered, "Regretfully, I cannot go with you. There is work to be done at the embassy, I’m afraid."

Liar, Wedge thought silently, feeling disappointed and relieved. Tycho had given them both a perfect out, not realizing that he now had Wedge in a tight spot. He could leave so easily, go back to the embassy, send a message to Qwi and maybe find some relief in his own touch. That would be honorable. But he wanted to go along with Slade, though doing so would practically scream out his desire.

The wine was delicious, full and fruity, with only the tiniest hint of alcohol under it. Wedge let it pool on his tongue, then swallowed, feeling a slight burning sensation as it trailed down his throat. He heard his own voice, loud in the still room, agreeing to join Slade at the club.

- - - - - - - - - - -

Potent, she said. Wedge shook his head, trying to clear it. The wine was more than potent, it was... debilitating. That was the only possible explanation for his behavior. He’d found himself pressed against a man on the dance floor of the club, someone bulkier and stronger than himself, someone who bent his head and nipped at Wedge’s ear while they danced.

It was that sudden shock, that tiny pain that brought Wedge back to his senses. He pulled away from the man and looked around, taking in the swirling lights that barely illuminated the dance floor and left the rest of the room in almost total darkness. Hands still gripped his forearms, a voice he didn’t know whispered words he couldn’t understand; something about a room nearby, a good time.

"Sorry, I... I have to go." What was going on? He fled the floor, looking for anyone he recognized; Tycho--no, Tycho was at the embassy; Slade--yes, there in the corner, watching him with an enigmatic smile on his lips. His luscious lips.

Wedge suppressed a shiver as Slade stared up at him, his teeth just slightly bared as if to say ‘Yes, I am a predator, and I will have you.’

"Tired, General?" He ran his tongue across his lower teeth. "I was hoping to steal you for just one dance. You move very well."

Was his voice this mesmerizing before? Wedge couldn’t recall; he only knew that hearing it now raised a startling pressure in his groin. Escape, he had to escape back to the embassy, back to his sanity, before he did something that could never be forgiven.

"I have to go." The sharpness of his voice was as much for himself as for Slade; he couldn’t let himself weaken even a bit.

"Certainly. Have another drink while I call my driver."

"Really, that isn’t ness-" Slade stood and gently cupped Wedge’s cheek in his hand.

"Sit down, love, I won’t be a moment."

The wine again. He knew better, told himself that if he drank any more, he wouldn’t make it home that night.

But the glass was cool against his hand and the wine turned to fire in his stomach.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

--"Don't fake it baby, lay the real thing on me
The church of man, love, is such a holy place to be"-- Moonage Daydream

He was in a room, almost dark, and not alone.

Pressure against his mouth, and he responded, parting his lips. Velvet softness flowed in, searching his orifice, gently tasting and testing, then plundering, twining with his tongue and stealing his breath.

The sweetness, the dark exquisite flavor seduced him, and he moaned, bringing his hand up to grip the other’s hair and pull him closer.

Him.

"No!" Wedge pushed the other man back. He raised his hand to his mouth, wiping away the feel of their kiss. In the half-light, he could see Slade’s chest rise and fall rapidly, see his hands reach out imploringly.

The Corellian knocked the man’s hands away from him. "I’m not drunk enough for that. Get away from me."

"No."

Slade’s voice was so soft Wedge couldn’t be certain he heard it. No matter, he was leaving. He started for the door.

Hands stopped him, the warm, strong hands that had led him to this place. They gripped his shoulders, turned him around against his will. "No," and the voice was softer still, then those firey lips touched his and his mind reeled. Why was this wrong? He couldn’t recall while his senses overflowed with this man’s touch. Something hard pushed against him and he pushed back.

Someone was moaning, whether the sound belonged to himself or to Slade, Wedge didn’t know. The sound broke his pleasured paralysis and he pulled back.

"I tell you, I’m not... I have a girlfriend."

The hands still held him firmly, the lips brushed his cheek. "And I have a wife. What have these women to do with us? They aren’t like us, Wedge," his accent curled around the name, made it a stinging caress.

"Let the women keep to their own, and we to our own. It’s a cruel perversion of nature that we must bed them to continue our blood... the gods never meant for us to lie with such weakness."

"It’s wrong." His own voice was feeble as he struggled to find the resolve he needed. Hands slid from his shoulders down his back, stroking him and squeezing his buttocks, pulling him against that insistent hardness.

Breath hot against his ear, making him shudder. "You’re deceived, my love," Slade tilted his head, running his tongue around the shell of Wedge’s ear. "It’s so... very... right." Tiny nips down the column of his neck matched the chills running down his spine.

With effort, he tried to step back, only to feel his back pressed against the wall; no escape now. He whimpered with frustration, with need, with fear. He, who had looked into the eyes of death and walked away, faltered in blissful terror of the desire he felt, the desire he could not, could not indulge.

Slowly, sinuously, the other man stepped back. His hips swayed as he moved, one step, two, three, then stood silent as a sand panther hunting its prey. Wedge felt his chest heaving, his sense of unreality mounting as his eyes traversed the other man’s lean frame, greedily drinking in the details of his long, slender legs, his bare, muscled chest, his dark eyes boring into his, and the curve of his mouth.

Slade’s lips, sweet as ryshcate, parted. "Tell me, how do you take her, Wedge? She is so frail, so easily hurt, must you always have a care for that?" His whiskey voice poured on, "Tell me you don’t desire someone as strong as you, to not temper your passion with tenderness, to not fear your own power over your lover... You hover over her," his voice was scornful now, "and long with every thrust for someone who can take you in all your vigor."

Out, I must get out, Wedge’s brain convulsed its warning as he watched Slade move again, further away, toward the bed. He stopped, spread his hands, and pierced Wedge with the hunger in his eyes.

"I will take you, my love, as you ache to be taken."

He was like a starving man being offered the most luxurious meal he could imagine, and as his mind screamed again, his feet carried him forward, and this time it was his hands that gripped and pulled their bodies together. His lips crushed against the other man’s and a fierce pleasure, acute as pain, shot through him.

Throbbing, needing, pulsing, the two fell together; then there was only one.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

--"I smiled sadly for a love I could not obey
Lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and dismay"-- Lady Stardust

In the still of the night, Wedge lay on his side gazing at the man next to him. His body was sore and sated, his soul was full of this wondrous discovery. All that had gone before--the women he’d tried to love, the rules he’d tried to follow--were gone from his mind as he watched Slade sleep peacefully, the moonlight turning his skin to silver.

The bed--who’s bed? Wedge wondered; he wasn’t certain where they were--shifted gently as the other man woke and turned toward him. He pressed his lips against Wedge’s neck, tasting the salty dried sweat, then ran his hands down Wedge’s back, kneading his buttocks.

"I can’t get enough of you," he murmured, pulling the Corellian closer, sending a shock of arousal through his lover’s being. The softness of his lips gave way to hard, insistent kisses, and Wedge gave up thought for a while more.

- - - - - - -

Sunlight drove through the windows and hurt his eyes. Wedge rolled over, pulled a pillow over his head, hoping to all the gods that his hangover would dissipate like morning fog. He’d never drink that wine again, no matter how much pleasure came of it. He smiled to himself. Hopefully he’d never need to.

The sound of water running told him that Slade was up and about. Wedge stretched lazily, not wanting to rise, sure that his lover could be persuaded to rejoin him in the bed. Drifting pleasantly in and out of sleep, he didn’t hear the door open, or the footfalls that quietly crossed the floor.

The sound of metal on leather registered in his shag-drunk brain and Wedge reflexively swung his arm in the direction of the noise. A sharp pain across his wrist and a startled cry told him that he’d knocked the weapon loosed even before his eyes could focus. He tried to leap out of the bed, but his foot caught in the sheets and he fell, hitting the carpet in a tangle of cloth and useless limbs.

A large black shape loomed before him; a boot, he realized, just before it connected with his ribs and sent him curling into the fetal position. A trimphant shout filled his ears as he rolled, trying to find something, anything that he could strike with. He wanted to shout, to warn Slade, but another kick sent the air hissing out of his lungs.

Wedge struck out with his foot, connected with someone, and heard a meaty thud as his attacker fell. In a second he was on his feet, grabbing for his boot and the vibroblade he kept tucked into it. He swung it at the massive figure in nondescript clothes, sending him back with a leap and a curse.

"Who are you?" he shouted, knowing that the name didn’t matter; the man was an Imperial assassin.

In response the hulking man came at him, unmindful of the humming vibroblade. He grabbed Wedge’s bare arm, rendering it useless, and wrapped his other arm around Wedge’s neck, aiming for a clean snap, no mess and no fuss.

Wedge tried to sweep his foot behind the man’s legs, but succeeded only in knocking them both to the floor and popping his shoulder out of place. Grimacing in pain, he switched the blade to his other hand, drove and twisted it into flesh until the larger man stopped screaming. Wedge started to rise and halted when he saw the blaster pointed at him.

It wouldn’t have been so bad, but the steady hands holding the blaster belonged to Slade.

"You have to make me do this, don’t you?" the other man tsked. "You couldn’t stay asleep just a bit longer? It would have been much easier."

"Why?" Of the thousands of words careening through his brain, that was the only one that would come out.

Slade smiled, parting those soft lips just slightly. "It’s what I do, love. Seduce and destroy. If it’s any consolation, you were quite entertaining. Pretending to fight that stubborn conscience of yours... I knew you would give in easily; you were so ripe for it."

"But I... I thought..." distract him, Antilles, keep him talking; don’t let your heart into this. You can take him down easily, then grieve.

"Not so fast, Wedge." Damn. Slade’s lovely dark eyes narrowed. "Stay very still and let me shoot you neatly. I hate a mess. If you'd just kept still long enough for Marick to snap your neck, we wouldn't have to go through all this."

Then Slade’s knees buckled, his eyes rolled back, and he fell to the floor, blood spreading over the fabric of his robe. Wedge felt his breath catch in release and anguish. He stared at the body, not bothering to look up at the person who’d just saved him until he felt a hand roughly grab his arm and yank him upright.

"Get dressed," Tycho’s voice hissed into his ear and Wedge struggled to understand why his friend was beside him, steadying him and pressing his shirt into his hands.

"We can tell them you passed out here," Tycho continued. "I hope they’ll believe it." He didn’t look at his friend and superior until Wedge was dressed and standing shocked in the middle of the room.

"How... how did you..."

"You didn’t come back," Tycho replied shortly. "I called Slade’s hotel; you weren’t there either. It wasn’t too difficult to find the club he took you to, and the bartender said you’d gone upstairs with some tart..." he risked a glance at the other man. "I didn’t believe it, but here you are."

"Here I am," Wedge said softly, then shuddered and dropped into a chair. "He wanted to kill me. I thought he..."

Tycho cut him off. "You’re a grown man and it’s none of my business." He peered out the door. "The police will be here soon. I told the bartender to wait five minutes before he called them, just in case."

He turned back to Wedge. "Does Qwi know about you?"

"Qwi, oh gods. She doesn’t know anything, Tycho; please don’t..."

"I won’t." For a long moment, both were silent. Tycho stared at the figure slumped in the chair, hands covering his eyes, and felt a surprising tenderness take him. His hand moved of its own will, covering the top of Wedge’s head, gently stroking his hair as though Wedge were a small boy and only needed a little kindness to make him smile again.

- - - - - - - -

The official report said that an assassin had drugged both General Antilles and Brian Slade, intending to murder them and make it appear to be the tragic result of too-rough sex play. They’d woken before he could finish the job, and he’d been forced to shoot Slade in the back. He’d then gone after the General, who managed to disarm and finally kill the assassin.

Qwi was waiting at the landing pad when the delegation returned. She ran to Wedge, wrapped her arms around him and whispered how frightened she’d been when she heard about his trouble. He buried his face in her feathery hair, inhaling her scent, wishing desperately that it was Slade’s scent; that her lips, soft and light, were his, hard and demanding.

He took her face in his hands and promised that he would always come back safely, that he would never do anything to hurt her. In his heart, he truly tried to keep that promise. She never knew that when she woke at night and found him sleeping restlessly, his cheeks damp, he was dreaming of a man made of stardust and fire.


Finis


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