A couple of weeks later, the transport entered the jump to Yavin on the last leg of its current assignment.
Wedge exited the shower wrapping a thick robe around his still slightly damp body and nearly tripped over the small trunk that lay in the middle of the floor. He knew it hadn't been there earlier and he looked over at his roommate. Tycho was propped up on his bed, reading from his datapad.
Since the transport was currently over-staffed, Wedge and Tycho had agreed to share quarters so that none of the other Rogues would have to triple up. They had done it before and were comfortable with each other so it wasn't a problem even though their rank allowed them private quarters. Wedge knew from experience that while having one roommate could be cozy at times and mildly annoying at others, having to share close quarters with two others was just plain nerve-racking.
"What's this and where did it come from?" he asked, pointing at the case.
"That?" Tycho innocently indicated the trunk. When Wedge nodded, he continued, "It's a gift for Luke."
Wedge was immediately suspicious. Tycho was up to something. But what? "Again. What is it and where did it come from?"
"It's from Terra. It caught up with the transport while we were on Obroa-Skai and I had it sent here. It arrived while you were in the 'fresher."
"And why is Terra sending Luke presents? I hadn't thought they had met. Not to mention, how did she know that we were headed for Yavin?" Wedge was obviously intrigued.
Tycho decided to let him off the hook. "Turns out some of Terra's relatives were Jedi. She thought Luke might want to read some of their journals so she made copies for him." There was a definite twinkle in his eye. "So, how about it? Want to play messenger again?"
Wedge looked between Tycho and the trunk and shook his head. "She keeps this up and I'm going to start charging her."
Tycho grinned, "You enjoy her attention and you know it. Here," he picked up a datacard that was lying on top of the trunk and tossed it to Wedge. "She sent you a letter, too."
Wedge slipped the card into his datapad as he sat down on his bunk.
He began reading with a thoughtful expression on his face.
Tycho was immediately curious. "So... What does she say?"
If possible, Wedge looked even more thoughtful, "Tycho, do you mind if I ask you a rather personal question?"
"Since when do you ever need my permission for that?" Tycho's tone was playfully serious.
"Stop acting like Wes. I'm serious."
Tycho lifted his eyebrows, stung by the retort. "Wedge, you know you can ask me anything," he answered softly.
"Is Terra trying to recruit you for the Guardiens?"
Tycho laughed in relief. "Is that all?" He thought about it for a minute before he answered, "No, she knows that she doesn't have to; that if I ever decided I want to fly with the Guardiens again, I will. Why?"
"Seems that due to a schedule change for some of the Guardiens' transports, the squad that was supposed to join the Angels for a week in the Manari Mountains isn't able to. They booked the entire retreat and have to pay for it whether it gets used or not, so she wanted to know if the Rogues could join them instead. All expenses paid and significant others welcome."
"And you have a problem with this because.....?" Tycho prompted.
"And she's not trying to recruit anyone else?"
"Wedge, will you relax? If she is trying to recruit anyone, it's probably you. I think she likes you," Tycho teased his commanding officer. When he saw the genuine concern on Wedge's face, he reassured him. "She has always been kind of protective of me because I remind her so much of her brother. This is just her way of saying thank you to you and the rest of the Rogues for looking out for me when she couldn't. She feels guilty about not being there for me. That's all. Besides, you said yourself the retreat is already paid for whether they use it or not."
Wedge thought about what Tycho said. That's when it dawned on him, "What did you mean by fly with the Guardiens again? You went straight from the Empire to the Alliance, didn't you?"
"Not exactly. After Alder....." He stopped and chewed on his lower lip as he gathered his thoughts. "After I decided to leave the Empire, it was a month or so before I actually had the chance to get away. I decided to wait for my next shore leave and then just disappear once I was dirt side. I don't know what I was going to do; I guess I was hoping to find someone from the Alliance. I hadn't thought that far ahead. Fortunately, I didn't have to.
"When I landed and went through customs, Terra was waiting for me. She didn't say anything. She just hugged me and took me to a nearby hotel where she had a change of clothes and new IDs for me. After I had changed out of my uniform, we went to her yacht. We must have left within an hour or so of my arrival. I don't really remember; I went straight to her cabin and went to bed. I was asleep by the time we made hyperspace. To this day, I still don't even know what planet we were on. The next thing I remember was waking up with her beside me and she was crying. Her father was on Alderaan when..."
Tycho took a moment to regain some of his composure. "I spent almost a year with the Guardiens. We both needed the time to recover. It's a good thing I did, too. I probably would have turned into a lose cannon if I hadn't."
Wedge let this new information about his XO's past sink in. "How did she know where to find you?"
Tycho smiled. "She was always doing things like that. I didn't know about her family until a few weeks ago. She was afraid it would put me in danger if she told me. I guess I never really thought about it until after I spent time with Luke and Corran and I haven't seen her since I left the Guardiens."
"So, she's a Jedi?"
"No. She is sensitive in some ways, though. She has something of a mental bond with family and close friends."
"Close friends. Like you?"
Tycho's smile was heart-felt, "Yeah. Like me. She's used that link to find me on several occasions when I really needed her. And she can tell when certain people are nearby. She knew it was you at the door to her hotel room."
"Really?" Wedge was blushing now. "Why do you call her G.A.?"
Tycho looked at Wedge and said simply, "Because she is my Guardian Angel."
They sat in silence. The haunted look in Tycho's eyes made Wedge reluctant to pry. There was obviously a rather painful story behind it and he didn't want his friend to have to relive it needlessly. He knew his XO would tell him when and if he decided to share the experience.
It was several minutes before Tycho spoke. "Do you remember the slavers that were kidnapping children in the mid rim? You would have been about twelve or thirteen at the time."
"Tycho, you don't have to go into this if you don't want to." Wedge said softly.
The look Tycho gave him told him it was something the blond Rogue needed to get out. Needed to share with him.
"I remember something vaguely," Wedge replied. What Tycho didn't know was that thoughts of that particular slaving ring brought back memories Wedge himself did not particularly want to relive. He had lost a couple of friends under similar circumstances and he knew his parents feared his missing sister was among those taken.
"I'm still not sure why I let them convince me to go with them but I did. They said they were looking for prospective pilots. I realized they weren't friends the next day when I told them I had changed my mind. That's when the head slaver showed up. I was still kind of small for my age. He thought I was rather pretty...." He shrugged and took a deep breath before letting it out slowly.
Wedge thought he was going to throw up. He was angry and sick at the same time. He moved to sit on the bed next to his friend.
Tycho was staring into the past as he continued, "Terra walked in... before... I never want to see her that angry again."
Wedge nodded in agreement. "I can't even begin to imagine. She is not someone I would want mad at me, that's for sure."
Tycho continued as if Wedge hadn't said anything. The haunted expression in his eyes was now in his voice, "I had never seen a dead body before then, let alone someone killed in cold blood... She had a couple of assassin droids with her too but she didn't really need them. When she was finished, she left the droids there with orders to protect the other children until the authorities could arrive and she took me home. It was summer vacation and I told my parents I was going on a retreat with some friends so no one even knew I was missing."
Tycho was lost in thought. Terra was still covered in the slavers' blood as she led him back to her ship and headed to Alderaan. He was sleeping restlessly by the time she had cleaned up. She sat down on the bed and pulled his small frame into her arms where he finally felt safe and was able to sleep. In the years that followed, he often crawled into bed with her when he was upset. She would spoon behind him and put her arms around him protectively.
He didn't think anything of it until his mother walked in a few years later. His parents were concerned about their ages, obviously thinking they had become lovers. Terra reassured them that that was not the case but Tycho never really believed they were convinced. The only reason they didn't try to keep Terra and Tycho from seeing each other was that they knew she would never intentionally hurt him and would give her life to protect him, if neccesary.
Their relationship did remain platonic until he joined the Guardiens at 21. He could still remember that night like it was yesterday...but they both knew it couldn't last. The visit from Baron Fel confirmed his decision to join the Alliance. Terra's extensive contacts throughout the Alliance would allow them to keep in touch. If he had known about Ella or that it would be almost a decade before they would see each other again, would he have left the Guardiens?
"Your parents never knew?" Wedge asked softly.
Tycho realized Wedge was speaking. "Huh? No, not unless Terra told them. The only other person I've ever told was Winter. One of her class-mates..."
Wedge snorted, "One of these days we need to tell Booster." At Tycho's puzzled look, Wedge smiled and continued, "Don't ask me how, but Booster ended up with those droids. He used to try to send one with me whenever I went on runs by myself. I had a devil of a time trying to evade it."
Tycho smiled at the image of a teenage Wedge trying to avoid an over-protective assassin droid. "No one ever really knew who was responsible for putting the slavers out of business. The droids were probably sold at auction or on the black market as some kind of collector's item."
The long-time friends lapsed into a thoughtful silence. They were startled by a knock at the door. Tycho looked at Wedge and indicated his state of dress, "You want me to get that?"
Wedge had forgotten he was still wearing only his robe and winced. "Yeah, I think you better." He grabbed a flightsuit out of the closet and went into the 'fresher to change as Tycho answered the door.
Tycho was surprised to find the Chief of State in the hallway. "Princess," he greeted her. "Please, come in."
She looked at him sternly as she entered to room, "Tycho, how many times do I have to tell you to call me Leia?"
"Sorry, old habit. Wedge will be out in a moment," he said sheepishly.
"Actually, I'm here to see you. You're in trouble."
Wedge came out in time to hear this last comment. "Is there something I need to know about?" he asked, confused.
She turned to face Wedge. "Don't bother trying to defend him because you're in the same trouble he's in." She waited to watch their reactions before she rounded on Tycho. "Why didn't you tell me you knew Terra Sharlee?"
"Huh?" Wedge was really confused now. Why would Tycho be in trouble for knowing Terra?
Tycho chuckled, realizing she had been baiting them. "Because you never asked. Why the sudden interest?"
Leia smiled, too. "I've heard a lot about her over the years. Luke said she was a friend of some of the Rogues but he never told me which ones. I was on the flight deck and overheard Wes and Hobbie talking about how badly she had out flown them and realized they meant recently. So I asked them about it. I would like to meet her some day. She managed to help the Rebellion out a lot when no one else would."
Leia looked between the two pilots. "She transported supplies and personnel between bases. Not to mention all the munitions she funneled to us. I still haven't been able to figure out how she managed to keep it quiet."
It was Tycho's turn to speak up. "She's pretty good at reading people. She shuffled staff so that those sympathetic to the Rebellion were on the same ships. She always made sure she had deniability in order to protect the organization as a whole so she could insist they were neutral. She didn't want to place her people in any kind of danger they hadn't known about and agreed to."
Leia thought about that for a few minutes. "Sounds like something my fath... Bail Organa used to say." She decided it was a good time to change the subject. "The real reason I came by was to tell Tycho that Winter will be bringing the kids to Yavin. They should be there by the time we are." With a wink for Wedge, she left the room.
The silly grin that was on Tycho's face as they prepared for bed answered a question that had been floating around in Wedge's mind since he had had to retrieve Tycho from Terra's hotel room. The question being: what was the status of Tycho's relationship with Winter since Terra had shown back up?
Tycho must have read the train of Wedge's thoughts. "Terra and I are just close friends. Now. Anything else is in the past." There was what sounded like regret in his voice but he quickly recovered. "Besides, I think she's better suited for you."
Wedge looked at his XO with suspicion. "That's the third time tonight you've made a comment like that. Are you trying to play match-maker, or something?"
"Keeping track, are we? Admit it, Wedge. You're interested. You have been since before I met you. And I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual."
Wedge's cheeks colored a bright red. "Well, I have wanted to meet her for some time and I would like to get to know her. But..."
Tycho was incredulous. "But nothing. I could certainly use a week in the Manari Mountains and I'm sure the others could, too. You should be able to convince Command to let us have the down time. Especially when you make the case that we're still on-planet and close at hand if we're needed. And... It'll give you the chance to get to know Terra a little better. The worst that can happen is that you decide you really can't stand her and you spend the week avoiding each other." He grinned at his commander's discomfort.
"You're forgetting Wes and Hobbie will be there. There is a lot that can happen with those two around."
Tycho grinned wickedly. "I think Terra's Angels can take care of them."
Wedge ran his hands through his hair. "I guess you're right." He climbed into bed and laid down. "Maybe we should get some sleep. From what I've seen of our schedule, I don't think we'll be getting much sleep once we reach Yavin. And with Winter there, I'm sure you won't."
Tycho hoped he was able to hide his blush as he turned off the lights.
Continued in Part Four