"You'll be pleased to know that half the squad will be on leave for this weekend," began Wedge, as the last of his pilots filed in to the briefing room. Cheers broke out, interrupting him, and he waved a hand for silence before continuing. "However, several of you will be on a short mission. It shouldn't be too much trouble."
"I hate when he says that," muttered Hobbie to his neighbour, Myn Donos.
"So I'd like to see Hobbie, Wes, Inyri, and," Wedge stopped and surveyed the faces of the assembled pilots. "Damn. With Rhysati gone, we're short a second female human pilot." He thought a moment. "Tycho, I'm sorry, I know you were due time off, but I'll have to ask you to tag along, too. I'll see you four in here. The rest of you, enjoy your leave!"
The rest of the pilots filed out, leaving the chosen five in the room. Wedge activated the security doors, and turned to his fellow pilots.
"We've got a short undercover mission. NRI want a couple of us to go along and pick up one of their operatives from Bery'ndal. We're supposed to be doing the pick-up at the city Faire - they have one of their big festivals on, so the place will be crawling with tourists, and honeymooners-"
"- and Imps," spoke up Wes Janson with a grin.
"Exactly," replied Wedge, and he'd barely opened his mouth to continue when he was interrupted again, this time by Hobbie.
"You said 'honeymooners'." The dour man's tone was accusing, and he'd made the obvious leap of logic. "Tell me we're not going undercover as honeymooners."
Inyri looked at Wes and winked. He grinned. Wedge ignored the both of them, and turned back to Hobbie.
"We're not going undercover as honeymooners."
Hobbie looked relieved.
For about a second.
Tycho grinned mischievously and spoke up for the first time. He'd been in Wedge's office when the communique had come in, and knew most of the details already. Besides, he knew how his CO's mind worked.
"It's worse than that."
"That's my line!" Hobbie cried indignantly. "Wait... what's worse than that?"
Wedge grinned. Wes grinned. Tycho grinned. Inyri out-and-out laughed.
Hobbie buried his face in his hands.
"Not women's clothing again?"
"But you looked so good the first time," said Inyri, grinning mercilessly.
"How would you know?" Hobbie asked through his hands.
"Wes brought back the holo footage..."
Hobbie's half-hearted attempt to unman his wingmate was foiled by Wedge clearing his throat, obviously trying to get what was s upposed to be a serious briefing back on track.
"I'll get you later," Hobbie whispered to Wes, before turning his attention back to his commander's speech.
The next day, Hobbie and Tycho, and Wes and Inyri stumbled off their shuttle, weaving slightly erratically, as would befit newly married couples who'd begun their celebration on board, and were hell-bent on continuing until the ground rose up to meet them. Or until they ran out of lomin-ale.
With a blond wig on his head, and a fringe in his eyes Hobbie made quite a credible woman - and, Wes thought privately, looked rather cute cuddled up to Tycho.
Wedge followed the others off the shuttle, playing fifth wheel, and the group headed towards the Faire site near the spaceport, laughing and talking loudly. As they walked, they kept up a loud discussion on the chances of the various smashball teams in the play offs on Coruscant, and the relative merits of the players involved. Well, the players' various anatomies, anyway... All the while, the five of them kept a sharp look out for anyone suspicious paying them too much attention.
Loud music and humming crowd noise - as well as a great increase in litter on the footpath - alerted them they were near the Faire, and Wedge took advantage of the clamour; the raucous yells and ambient sound caused when thousands of beings were crowded together and all tried to talk at once, and reminded the others to keep an eye out for their contact.
"I know you know this, but remember, we have to fit in. Act like lovesick couples. Look out for other people who don’t fit in, and when you’ve found our contact, take them back to the shuttle with you. Got it?"
At their nods, the pilots split off in different directions, each couple walking slowly in different directions, Wedge affecting an air of annoyance, as if he’d had enough of the other four and was after his own fun now.
He left the other four to stake out the rides - Wes might be able to scarf down limitless quantities of popcorn and still take five loop-the-loops on a rollercoaster, but Wedge preferred candy corn and the arcades. Besides, he did a lot better on the shooting games without Wes to show him up.
Wedge made his way slowly to one of the stalls on the concourse, not bothering to try and fight the crowd, simply moving with it. As he reached the first one, he noticed that it had a pink ticket counter. The orders from NRI had listed "pink counter" as a possible rendezvous for the operative they were supposed to pick up. He decided to hang around the area for a while, wait to see if anything turned up. He turned an indulgent eye onto the prizes hanging from the back wall. If the game wasn't fixed, he might even pick up a classy pink toy bantha for his troubles. Stifling a grin at what Wes would say about the garish stuffed animal that was the 'grand prize', Wedge passed a handful of creds to the man behind the counter, and picked up the lightweight air rifle provided.
He was only a couple of shots away from the pink bantha when he felt a disturbance in air pressure at his side, and a sweetly feminine voice broke into his reverie. He'd almost forgotten about the mission for the last couple of minutes, his competitive - some might say 'Corellian' - nature coming to the fore.
"You're doing very well there."
Wedge grinned and took a quick look at the figure beside him. She was tall, about his height, and had lovely red hair trailing down her back.
"Thank you," he replied, and took the last couple of shots, hitting the bullseye easily.
The man behind the counter reached up, and tugged down the radioactive pink bantha, handing it to Wedge. He surreptitiously stroked the soft fur for a moment, but, mindful of what Wes would say if he came back with it, turned back to the woman still standing beside him. This might be a good way to get rid of the thing, before it ended up haunting his bed-- and his cockpit-- and the showers-- He stopped the thought there, not wanting to give Wes any more ideas, even in absentia.
"Why don't you take this?"
She smiled, reminding Wedge for a split second of someone, he wasn't sure who, and took the toy from him, tucking it under her arm.
"Sure, and in return, why don't I buy you a drink?"
"Uh, well," Wedge stammered slightly, "I'm awfully sorry, but I'm seeing someone."
The woman took his arm, and tugged him a metre or so away from the booth.
"I'm sorry about that." She paused for a moment, and then gave him that smile again. "You're sure you don't even want to join me for a quick lomin-ale? Maybe with a mint liqueur?"
Wedge was about to decline politely once more, when his brain registered that those had been the code words. And that the voice speaking them had dipped lower, both in tone, and in volume, and had become more masculine. More familiar. He - it was definitely a 'he', regardless of how convincingly he was acting - was still speaking, and Wedge moved closer to hear him.
"And you should be damn glad you didn't take 'Ms Darillian' up on her offer for a drink, Wedge... Your lover might not have been very happy with that..."
Wedge grinned at the man before hugging him firmly, and then kissed him soundly. This meeting was unexpected, to say the least...
"No, he wouldn't have been, even if he is supposed to be parsecs away on Coruscant." Wedge paused for moment, grinning happily. "May I mention, 'Ms Darillian', what a lovely Face you have?"
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