My Month with the Gods
We were the first to arrive in Downtime and we staked out a large booth in the corner to await the others who began to show up in twoís and threeís. As the booth began to fill, I was acutely aware of how close Wedge was sitting and I had to fight the urge several times to snuggle up next to him.
I had to keep reminding myself I was a general, after all, and so was he; not to mention we were in a fairly public place surrounded by his squadron, the legendary Rogues. I knew from first-hand experience that public displays of affection (aka PDAs) were not always well received in most military settings, particularly while in uniform.
I was still trying to figure out where this urge was coming from. Wedge and I had been friends but had never really had the chance to become close. I assumed it was just because I was happy to see him again after more than a decade but deep down, I knew better.
It was on one of those occasions where I was just about to scoot up close to him when I noticed a group of pilots come in with a certain Colonel Loud-Mouth. His presence served to remind me just how well such an open display would be viewed. The look he gave Gavin and me was enough to melt bulkheads. We just smiled and nodded politely.
Wes noticed this exchange and suggested we ask the colonel to join us. I had the distinct impression he was more interested in one, or maybe two, of the lady pilots that were in the group. Hobbie looked over his shoulder at them and nixed that idea real quick. "Donít think I want to spend an afternoon with a bunch of A-wing pilots, even if some of them are rather pretty."
Wes pouted, "Hobbs, you really need to lighten up."I think if I had not been there he would have added, "get laid". I could tell he was thinking it when he looked meaningfully at his CO.
During the afternoon we did manage to divide into teams for the next weekís simulations. The squadron was currently one pilot shy of a full complement of twelve and Wedge had decided with my presence to put off replacing a pilot who had been recently transferred.
We had decided to keep it simple for the first week until Hobbie and Wes could bring me up to speed in an X-wing. I was to lead half the Rogues in TIEs against Wedge and the rest in X-wings. Tycho, being a graduate of the Imperial Academy would serve as my XO while Wedge got stuck with Wes acting as his second. Hobbie, Gavin, Corran Horn, and Inyri Forge would round out my half squad. Ooryl Qrygg, along with Myn Donos, Marnie Coleson and Mikuls Galleran would be serving with Wedge.
I found I was rather nervous since many of the groups I had flown with and against were not of the caliber of the Rogues. My own abilities would have placed me in contention for a position within the Rogues but I would not be the standout pilot I was used to being acknowledged as. The squads from Jovan were usually composed of two or three stellar pilots and then filled out with whoever was available. We never really had any one squadron composed entirely of elite pilots.
As the teams began the inevitable good-natured bantering, I took part hoping to hide the nervousness I felt. I quickly began to feel more at home and scored a few points as I was able to verbally defend myself rather admirably, even if I do say so myself.
After dinner, Wedge walked me back to my quarters. I looked around the hallway to be sure no one was around then opened the door and, with a devilish grin that would have made Wes proud, I grabbed Wedgeís wrist and drug him into my quarters where I palmed the light and quickly closed the door behind us. I turned to see his puzzled grin as my arms wrapped around him in a fierce embrace.
"Iíve been wanting to do this all day," I told him as he chuckled and put his arms around my shoulders. His presence was warm and comforting and I felt more relaxed than I had in years. I could get used to this, I told myself as we stood enjoying this moment of relative quiet.
He pulled back enough to look into my eyes before he answered, "I missed you, too. And to be honest, I almost did hug you the minute you walked into my office this morning."
"Considering I didnít recognize you right away, that could have been dangerous," I admitted with an evil grin.
He laughed as I laid my head on his shoulder and snuggled closer. "Yeah, I remember," he commented.
I felt a wave of emotions wash over me and my voice came out as a hoarse croak, "When you didnít come back... I thought..." I sighed heavily, "I donít know what I thought."
He tightened his arms around me reassuringly and I could feel his cheek on my forehead, "I thought about trying to send you a message but I didnít want to put you or your grandfather in danger if it was intercepted."
"You know, Iím kind of surprised my grandfather didnít try to talk you into sticking around on a permanent basis."
"Oh, he tried. Several times. I came close once or twice."
I was running my hand over his generalís insignia and various battle tabs when I again spoke, "Guess itís a good thing you didnít, huh?" Silence was his only answer.
We stood mutely for a few minutes as my long day began to catch up with me. I failed to stifle the third yawn, which drew a chuckle. "Guess it has been a long few days for you," he said.
Before I could answer he kissed me lightly on the forehead and with an, "Iíll see you in the morning," he was out the door.
I sighed heavily as I turned toward my bedchambers.
Continued in Part Six