Brothers at Heart
Part One
by Commander Wedge

Wedge never heard Doctor Tanengle enter the room to draw Wes' blood or return later and speak with Wes, the sedative he had been administered earlier knocked him out cold; when he did finally stir he looked first at Wes, who had gone back to sleep, then at his wrist chrono - the time was only 0230. Sighing deeply, he rolled over and went back to sleep - this time his sleep was filled with nightmares as he relived watching his parents die before his eyes and him being unable to help them: Wedge still blamed himself for their deaths; if he had not been messing around at school - gotten into trouble - he would never have been sent to the Principal's office and he and Booster would have left for Gus Treta on time. Screaming in his sleep, Wedge woke himself up as his screams echoed through the Med Center and down the halls: he sat bolt up right, drenched in a cold sweat that ran between his shoulder blades and down his forehead from under his thick, dark hair and into his deep brown eyes which were wide with fear - his cries of anguish brought people running into the room from all directions not knowing what they would find there.

Wes stirred in his sleep when he heard screaming; sitting straight up in bed, he saw that it was Wedge that was the one doing the screaming: he struggled to get out of bed, but he was still partially restrained and the IV's were pulling out of his arm, "Wedge, wake up," he called to his friend - getting no response he began yelling, "Doc, get in here! Doc!"

Doctor Tanengle rushed into Wes' room, followed by several male attendants, fully expecting to find something wrong with the young Taanabian pilot only to find that it was the Corellian Lieutenant who was doing the screaming; directing the med techs to see to Wes, he strode over to the cot where Wedge was sitting up, his yells having died down somewhat: he grabbed the pilot by the shoulders and looked into his unseeing, fear-filled eyes, "Lieutenant Antilles, Antilles, wake up Antilles," he said forcefully to Wedge as he shook him gently to snap him out of his nightmare. Slowly, Wedge awoke from the nightmare; still shaking, he looked around the room, confusion on his face and in his eyes, "Is Wes ok," were the first words out of his mouth when he saw the doctor standing in front of him.

Wes looked over the shoulders of the attendants. "I'm fine, Wedge - really - feeling a bit nauseous however," he said wearily. "Are you ok; what happened - what was that all about," the blue-eyed Taanabian pilot demanded of the Corellian.

Wedge glanced over at his friend, dark circles under his eye; sighing, "I'm ok - I think - I just had a nightmare, a Sith of a nightmare."

Doctor Tanengle picked up a hypospray from the table near Wes' bed and strode over to wear Wedge was sitting on the edge of the cot - trembling, "Lieutenant, would you like me to give you something to relax, something to help you go back to sleep and rest," he asked, "You've only been sleeping for a few hours and you need to rest - you are bordering on the verge of exhaustion."

"No, no, that's ok," Wedge replied, weariness and stress coloring his voice: he tried to stand, his legs were shaky, his knees weak, threatening to give out on him; steadying himself by leaning heavily on the edge of the table, he crossed over to Wes' bed and sat down on the edge, "I'm ok now," he said.

"Wedge, are you sure you're ok because I am fine, doing better actually; you have duties in the squadron the need to be taken care of!" Wes sighed and lay back on the bed.

"Wes, I swore I would not leave your bedside until you were fit to fly - and I intend to keep my promise," Wedge said as his comlink buzzed.

Wedge reached up and thumbed his comlink on his collar, "Antilles here...But, but, Captain I can't?I'm with Wes, I mean Lieutenant Janson in Sick Bay and I promised him?Yes, sir?I am reporting immediately." He turned off his comlink, "Wes, I have to leave for a while - Biggs, Porkins and I have just been assigned to fill in for some other pilots from Blue Squadron who have come down with the same thing you have; we have to go out on patrol for the next eight hours," Wedge said as he stood, "I promise I will be back as soon as I can but until then listen to the Doctor, do what he says and get some rest."

Wes smiled weakly from his bed, "You got it, Antilles - save some fighting for me, you hear; and it's good to hear that I am not the only one in this boat - I hope those other guys pull through," he said, coughing lightly. The Doctor rested his hand on Wes' forehead, "Lieutenant, I'm going to mix you another antibiotic cocktail; it seems that your fever has returned - excuse me," he said, leaving the room. Wes sighed.

"Ok, buddy, go patrol space - keep an eye out for the Imps; I'll hold down the fort here," he said, laughing weakly and closing his eyes: one of the Med Techs laid a cool cloth on his forehead, Wes moaned softly.

Wedge left his friend's room and as soon as he hit the hallway he took off for the hanger bay at a dead run keying his comlink as he ran, "Bink, start the preflight on the bird," he called to his astromech, "I want her warmed up and ready to go; I am on my way and will be there in a few." He thumbed off the device after hearing an affirmative beep from his R2 unit: several minutes later, he skidded to a halt next to his X-Wing, almost colliding with his squadmates Biggs Darklighter and Jek Porkins who were on their way to their own ships, "Biggs, Piggy, what's up, the CO made it sound like this wasn't going to be a normal patrol for us; any ideas," the dark eyed Corellian asked his friends and roommates as they did their walk-around of the X-Wings.

"I've heard rumors," Piggy said between bites of the piece of fruit he was holding, "Lots of rumors have been circulating while you've been in the medical center with Wes - and none of them pretty, I assure you," he mumbled between bites.

"So have I," added Biggs, "We know that the Empire has captured Princess Leia Organa and her diplomatic ship as she was on her way home to Alderaan from her most recent diplomatic mission - but, and this just a rumor - that the Imps have destroyed Alderaan - again, it's just a rumor, Wedge, so don't say anything, not even to Wes."

Wedge looked crestfallen and shocked at the news; like most of the Rebel pilots his age, he had a secret crush on the Princess, "How," was all he managed to say as he looked back and forth between his two older friends.

"Relax Wedge, it's just a rumor, and besides, we all know the Princess can take care of herself in a tight spot," Biggs said. "Let's get this over with - eight hours up there on patrol is going to be long and boring ~ mount up boys."

The three pilots of Red Squadron scrambled up the ladders placed next to their respective X-Wings and clambered into their cockpits: Wedge pulled his crash webbing around him as he ran through the pre-flight list of things Bink could not do; hitting the switch to close his canopy with one hand, he hit his comlink with the other, "Control, this is Red Two - I have four in the green, at 99 percent and am good to go," he called out as he brought his ship up on its repulsor lifts and turned the ship around so that it was facing the hanger bay exit. He could hear Biggs and Porkins calling in their status as they also oriented the noses of their ships to the exit. "Red Two," a female voice came back over his comm, "You are clear to go - your exit vector is 189.63. Clear skies and happy hunting Red Two." Wedge clicked his comm in acknowledgement, kicked in his thrusters and exited the hanger heading up to the rendezvous point to meet with Piggy and Biggs to begin their patrol.

Continued in Part Two