“Ace flying there, Bey. You sure you’ve never flown before?”
A grin spread across her face at the sound of her Commander’s compliment over the comm. “Never anything smaller than a bulky, old hauler.”
“Keep that up and they’ll put you in some experimental fighter.” Called another voice, young. They were all so young.
“All right, nuggets. Everyone back to base.”
There was a smattering of “aye aye” and “roger that” as the mixed squadron of Y-Wings, X-Wings, and a couple B-Wings formed up together and headed back towards Orto Plutonia. It was an Outer Rim ice chip of a planet that was one of the Rebellion’s fallback bases after the Battle over the Yavin moon. It was mostly a training base with a fresh crop of new recruits arriving weekly. Young, eager, and high on the recent victories the Alliance had achieved.
The squadron settled into the cave-like hangar carved into a cliff of rock and ice. Shara ducked her head and tried to shake off the congratulatory punches to her shoulder. The rest of them were selling themselves short; she wasn’t any more skilled than the others. She had less flight time in a fighter, and no combat experience.
“Keep your chin up, Bey.” L’ulo, the green-skinned Duros who had been her wingman for the training exercise, stopped in front of her. “You’ll always see what’s coming.”
Shara looked up at him, over a head taller than her. His face was set with his mouth in a line, but there was a hint of a grin in his eyes. She stood up a bit straighter and squared her shoulders. “Yes, sir.”
She thought she almost caught him chuckle as he walked away, but Shara’s attention was drawn to the pack of soldiers rushing in from the other side of the hangar. Still in her flightsuit, with all its accessories attached, she walked quickly towards them. One of them was shouting for a medic while two others dragged in the fourth member of their team. It was hard to tell who they were, all bundled up in their cold-weather gear. Shara grabbed the other end of the repulsorlift stretcher as a Twi'lek woman maneuvered it out and helped her steer it towards the group.
“A spear caught him in the leg, and I think he’s got some frostbite,” a man’s voice said from behind a heavy scarf, but heavily accented. Not the one she was hoping to hear.
They pulled the injured person onto the stretcher and began trying to cut away some of the layers to get a good medical scan and a warm bacta drip.
“We were on our way back and got ambushed by some Talz. Guess they didn’t like us training on their tundra.” A woman’s voice this time. Still, not the one Shara wanted.
“Let’s get him to the infirmary. Try to save that leg.” The Twi’lek woman continued shouting orders as the two soldiers followed her and the stretcher deeper into the base. They hadn’t even taken his helmet off.
Shara started to follow after them, but a gloved hand caught one of the straps hanging off her belt. There was a thunk and clatter as a heavy helmet hit the floor of the hangar followed by a pair of goggles. “It’s me, babe.”
She turned quickly, his hand still caught in her belts causing her to nearly fall into him. His parka was wet with melting ice, but he had unzipped it and she found herself pulled close to the warm body inside. Other than the few times her hand had found his, or once or twice she had fallen asleep with her head on his shoulder, they orbited each other much the same as they had before the left her father’s ship and joined the Rebellion. Always so close and yet avoiding the intimacy of an embrace. Before, they had been playing a game, flirting and almost-touching, but the galaxy had changed suddenly and now their days were non-stop, pausing only to eat and sleep.
Now, they were so close she could smell the three days of roughing it in the snow on him. She could feel the scruff of his beard against her face, still with bits of frost stuck to it. Shara placed her hands against him and started to push away, trying not to think of how solid he felt even under the layers of clothing. She took a quick breath and raised an eyebrow at him, attempting to hide how flustered suddenly being so close to him had made her. “Kes, did you just call me ‘babe’?”
“No, I said ‘Bey.’ ‘It’s me, Bey.’ That’s what I said.” But the way the left side of his mouth curled upward, the slight crinkle in the corners of his eyes, it all betrayed him. “Were you worried?”
“Not for a second,” she lied. She had been terrified he was the one that was about to lose a leg, or worse. “Were you?”
“Only about you being up in that tin can out in the vacuum of space.” His arms curled around her shoulders and pulled her back in.
This time, Shara just gave in. Her arms slid inside his coat and wrapped around his waist, letting him pull her in and tuck her head just under his chin. Her fingers curled into the thick, ribbed shirt and held on, almost afraid to let go. She felt him hum, a rumble deep in his chest before he spoke. “I don’t know how this is all gonna go, but I don’t want to waste anymore time.”
Her head jerked slightly in a nod and she squeezed herself even closer into him. “Do you want to go check on your friend?”
“Yeah.” His arms enveloped her, firmly holding her in place, yet never stifling. It reminded Shara that she hadn’t left home, she had brought it with her. His chin nuzzled against the top of her head and let out a slow breath of air. “Later.”