In the New Republic Starfighter Command’s main hangar, Leia Organa watches as Rogue Squadron lands in neat well practised formation. The ships bear no damage more serious than some laser scarring across the S-foils. Wherever they’ve been, it’s been a success.
At least something has gone right.
Up go the canopies of the X-Wings, and pilots, clad in their eye-searing distinctive orange, begin to emerge. Leia keeps her eyes peeled for Wedge. It’s him she wants to see; she has news for him, news she suspects he won’t be pleased to hear. It wasn’t meant to be her standing in this hangar to greet him; it should have been Luke. But two days ago, Leia received a transmission from Luke. His travels are going to keep him away from Hosnian Prime for another six months.
That’s all the information Leia has to give Wedge. There was another transmission that Leia received, encoded for Wedge’s eyes only. Maybe that’ll tell him more about whatever shenanigans Luke’s off to now.
Wedge will take it on the chin, as he always does. He’ll say that he and Luke haven’t made any promises, that the only commitment they’ve made is to try, when they’re both in the same place at the same time. That happens so rarely that it’s a wonder they’re together at all. Leia wishes they’d take things more seriously. Especially Luke. It’s visible in Wedge’s eyes, most days, how much he wants to settle down. But he tried, with someone who wasn’t Luke, and that didn’t exactly end well.
For her brother’s sake, Leia is eternally grateful for Wedge’s endless patience. As Wedge’s friend, she thinks he deserves a hell of a lot more.
“Morning Senator.” Wes Janson performs something that looks like it might be a salute, but could just be a wave of his hand, as he walks towards Leia.
“Knock it off Wes, I’m not here on official business.” Leia decides that she’s spent enough time waiting on the sidelines, and pushes into the fray of pilots.
“Wasn’t expecting to see you,” Hobbie Klivian comments. “Thought it would be your brother—” He breaks off, raising an eyebrow. “Shit. Luke hasn’t come home, has he?”
“He’s safe, but added another six months to his trip,” Leia confirms. She guesses it could be worse. There are far more horrible pieces of news to deliver.
“Could be a blessing in disguise.” Leia spins back to Wes, frowning at him. As far as she knows, Wes is a supporter of Luke and Wedge’s relationship. Or has he finally got sick of their nonsense?
Hobbie muses for a moment. “Might be indeed. Senator, you should go and see Wedge. You might be needed in your official capacity after all.”
Leia doesn’t bother enquiring further about the cryptic nature of their words. Wedge landed with the rest of them, so she can get her answers from him. His X-Wing sits behind the rest of them, and it doesn’t take her long to reach it. Wedge is only just descending the ladder. He’s holding himself oddly. He might be injured; he almost looks like he’s carrying something.
He halts when he hits the ground. He takes a moment to slowly peel his gloves and life-support off, one-handed, then hands them to the waiting tech. He’s definitely holding something, Leia thinks, but she can’t think what.
And then a sharp wail emits out of the fabric of Wedge’s flightsuit.
Leia knows that cry. It’s one she’s heard often, from the mouth of her son, when he was upset or hungry or sad, or didn’t get what he wanted. When Wedge turns around, rocking and whispering nothing to a bundle that’s tucked inside his flightsuit, heavy against his chest, Leia’s suspicions are confirmed.
“Wedge Antilles,” she says. He looks up at her in surprised. “Where in the nine Corellian hells did you acquire a baby?”
She’d been abandoned.
The Rogue’s latest mission had involved investigating an old Imperial Weapons cache, next to a small village on a secluded world. They’d come across a half-dozen TIE fighters defending it, but those were quickly disarmed. When the Rogues set down in the village, they’d discovered it empty. The entire place, vanished without a trace. All except one small baby.
There are those in Starfighter Command who would insist that Wedge has space-cold lubricant running through his veins, not blood. But at heart, he’s always been a softy with a weakness for small children. So he’d taken care of her, nursed her to the best of his ability, and then tucked her into his flightsuit to carry her home.
“I couldn’t leave her Leia.” Wedge has managed to calm her sobs, but the baby is still fussing as she rests against his chest. She’s in need of food, and clean clothes, and likely a full medical examination. From there, there are state-sanctioned services for war orphans, procedures to go through that will take care of her.
That is, if she can be wrestled from Wedge Antilles’ arms. He’s already fiercely protective of her. Entrusting the baby to his care won’t be a popular move in certain circles, but Leia’s not sure she can think of anyone who might love the little girl more. “Come on.” Leia reaches up to take his arm. “It’ll be alright. Let’s get her to the medcenter, and then we can see about getting her settled.”
In the medcenter, the baby’s sobs resumed full throttle when a doctor lifts her out of Wedge’s arms.
The doctor shakes his head, beckoning to a nurse for a bottle of formula. “You’ll feel better when you eat something,” the Doctor tells the baby. “You’ll feel better when we’ve done a lot of things.”
The baby is not impressed. Her wails grown considerably louder, and her flailing hands push the bottle away from her.
“She hasn’t had anything in almost eight hours.” Wedge’s voice is increasingly tense. His distress is echoing the baby’s. “And that was only some water mixed with the sustenance powder from my X-Wing’s survival kit. We figured it was better than nothing.”
The medic sighs. “You did your best with limited resources.” He tries to get the baby to take the bottle, but her face just goes even redder. “Nurse, go get her clean. Maybe then she’ll eat something.”
Leia takes Wedge’s hand in hers as the nurse takes the baby away. With every step, it seems like her cries get louder, though that shouldn’t be possible. Her shrieking is agonising, and Leia can feel the waves of discomfort rolling off her. Wedge twitches, hideously uncomfortable with the entire situation. He shifts his weight between his feet and then makes a split-second decision.
He dashes after the nurse. “Can I help?” he offers. The nurse gives him a swift once-over, and then unloads the baby into his arms.
She stops crying instantly.
The doctor does a double-take. Wedge looks shocked. The nurse just grabs Wedge’s arm and tugs him in the direction she was heading. “Maybe you’ll have better luck,” she says, and Wedge follows. The doctor goes too, intrigued by the entirely situation.
Leia is left alone.
She shakes her head. She’s got a couple of long nights ahead of her, calling in favours. She can feel the rightness of the match, even in her limited ability to read the force. That baby has chosen Wedge and he has chosen her, and it doesn’t matter if Leia has to take it straight to the Senate, she’ll ensure they end up together.
Wedge wakes to a sharp indignant cry, followed by soft laughter that echoes from another corner of the room. His neck is stiff and his back aches and he doesn’t know quite where he is. The wailing continues. A little hand punches his chest. He opens his eyes and in his arms is a baby.
He’d rescued her and brought her here. Medical had given her a mostly clean bill of health. They wanted to keep her overnight for observation, and she’d made it painfully clear what she thought of the idea of Wedge leaving her alone with all these strange people. So he’d stayed too. And had accidentally fallen asleep, cradling her in one of the hospital chairs, instead of the bed which would have been far better for his back.
“What do you want now?” Wedge rocks her up and down. She’d guzzled down the contents of the bottles that he’d fed her, taken a nap resting against his chest whilst Leia informed Wedge that he’d been entrusted with her care, and wailed in distress and sympathy when Leia had told Wedge that Luke wasn’t coming home just yet.
“I’d start with food, that’s the usual.” The source of the laughter Wedge had heard earlier turns out to be Norra Wexley, leaning nonchalantly against the doorjamb.
“Yeah.” It’s a start. “You want feeding, little one?” She just continues crying. Norra sighs and goes for the stash of supplies, sorting something out with the deftness of a mother’s touch. She hands a bottle to Wedge, and Wedge then offers it to the baby. She takes it eagerly, sucking with wild abandon. “Thanks,” Wedge says to Norra.
Norra settles on the empty bed in the room. “I know what it’s like. You’ll get used to it. For now, don’t worry about it.”
As the baby feeds happily, Wedge takes a proper look at Norra. She’s in her flightsuit, hair pulled back into a rough ponytail. She looks tired. Consulting his chrono, Wedge discovers that it’s the early hours of the morning. “Why are you here?”
It’s a good question. Norra is one of his closest friends these days, but that usually doesn’t result in past-midnight visitations. Well, not recently. Not since they realised how desperately unhappy their romantic relationship was making both of them, and decided to be friends instead.
“Was out on a training mission. Got back and Temmin and his friends were all gossipping about how you’d acquired a baby. I had to see if that was true.” She arches a wry eyebrow. “And here you are, babe in arms.”
Wedge glances down at the baby. She’s nestled safe in his arms, still sucking at her bottle contentedly. “I have no idea what I’m doing,” he confesses. “I just knew I couldn’t leave her there, and now she cries every time I leave her sight, and I don’t want to leave her either but I don’t know what to do with a baby, Norra.”
“Leia’s going to help me keep her,” he blurts. “She should go to the state, but I don’t want to do that. I can’t just let her go out of my life, but I don’t know where to start in actually looking after her. You picked a crummy person to be your dad, baby.” Wedge strokes a hand over a dark tuft of the baby’s hair.
“Stop that,” Norra instructs. Wedge drops his hand from the baby’s head, and Norra shakes her own. “No, not that, this ridiculous self deprecating nonsense. You want kids. I know you do.” It had been one of the reasons they’d broken up; Norra didn’t want another child. “You’ll be amazing. You clearly adore her, and she’s already fond of you. The rest comes with practice, and you’ve got friends to help you through it.”
The baby lets the bottle fall away from her mouth. Norra reaches over, brushing a finger across a little cheek. “She’s gorgeous, Wedge.”
She and Wedge even look a little alike, dark hair and dark eyes. The baby already has a determined set to her features. They make a good pair.
“You think so?”
“I know so.” Norra leans up from the baby to place a kiss on Wedge’s forehead, soft and tender. “Don’t worry so much. You’ll do fine.” She sits back on the bed. She watches as Wedge burps the baby over his shoulder, and smiles as the baby gurgles in delight when she discovers his hair. Wedge spends a couple of minutes untangling her grip.
“Norra…” His voice holds the hint of a question. “How do I do this on my own?”
She sighs. “You aren’t. You’ve got Luke—” Norra stops short as Wedge’s shoulders sink. Luke is another reason why they broke up, but Norra knows it hasn’t all been sunshine and rainbows. Maybe they’re having a rough patch. She moves on. “Leia’s in your corner. She’s done this recently. And I might have no interest in having another baby of my own, but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to muck in and help out with a friend’s. Also, I think several of the pilots are fascinated at the idea of a baby. You won’t be short spare hands.”
Wedge nods. He brings the baby tight to his chest, rocking her softly. He mutters something to her that Norra doesn’t catch. He looks like he would promise her the galaxy.
Norra kicks off her boots. It’s clear enough that she can’t leave Wedge alone like this, but she’s exhausted. So she lies down on the unoccupied bed, and falls into a doze, close by in case he needs her.
A blue light casts across the living room as Wedge sets the holo playing again. He’s seen it a hundred times now, but he still finds himself drawn to Luke’s words.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t be there,” Luke’s image says. “I had every intention of being back with you, Wedge, but I’ve found a lead that I must follow. The trail will be cold if I return later.”
Luke’s smile is unsteady, meant to be reassuring but can’t quite manage it. “I’ll be home in six months, I promise. Stay safe. I—” He hesitates, taking a deep breath to try and imbue his words with the sentiment they deserve. “I love you. May the Force be with you.”
The hologram holds for a moment on Luke’s smiling face, then flickers off. “Bah!” proclaims the baby, who has previously been watching Luke intently. She reaches her hands out to where Luke’s holo emanated, a little unsteady. Wedge hovers, ready to catch her when she inevitable topples over. Her hand clunks down on the right button with an almighty thud, and the holo starts to play again.
She looks back to it, wide-eyed and rapt. “Bera, don’t do that,” Wedge chides lightly. Holoplayers are not really designed for babies, but Wedge has taken to playing her Luke’s message. He wants her to know Luke. “I know your Pa isn’t here. I know it’s frustrating. I miss him too.” He always talks to Bera as if all his hopes will come true, as if Luke will come back and play along. Wedge hopes it will be the case.
Bera falls over to her side as she watches, onto a waiting cushion. The first time she’d moved like that, Wedge’s breath had gone out of his lungs in fright. Now, he’s getting used to it.
There’s been a lot to get used to in the past three months. Once the datawork for her care was formerly approved, Wedge was given six months of leave. Medical had given the baby a clean bull of health, and that was about all she had. She’d not even had a name. Wedge had taken a while to settle on one. And then came all the things she needed, and the realisation that it wasn’t all going to fit in the pokey civilian flat he and Luke called home. Leia had come to his rescue there, with an apartment two floors above the Organa-Solos, spacious and just right. It’s so ideal that Wedge wonders how long she’s planned this. The Rogues, along with Temmin and some of his friends, had helped in decorating the place and moving Wedge’s old furniture and building new ones. It had been a sight, watching all of them work, Bera passed from pilot to pilot and danced around as everything fell into place.
“I love you,” Luke repeats. The words haunt Wedge’s dreams. He hopes that Luke will still love him when he comes home and finds that everything has changed. Wedge is building this new life with a Luke shaped hole in it, and he can only hope that Luke might be willing to slot into it.
Wedge picks his squirming daughter up and scoops her into his lap. He holds her close and plays the message again, once more. “That’s Luke,” he whispers in her ear, reminding her. “And he says he loves me and I hope he’ll love you too, Bera, because I love you a whole lot. You might have two dads, someday, darling.” She bites at his sleeve, and Wedge guides her away, turning her around so that she’s facing him. “I hope you like that.”
She looks straight back at him, with utter sincerity, and then reaches her hand out to whack him on the cheek.
“Oi!” Wedge’s protest is in jest. She does it again. A bubble of spit forms at her mouth as she blows air in a baby giggle of excitement. He lifts her up under her armpits, holding her straight out in front of him. Her arms don’t reach that far. Instead, she kicks her legs every this way and that, almost like she’s trying to propel herself forward. “Oh no Bera, that won’t work,” Wedge teases.
He’s wearing a grin on his face, amazed at what his little girl can do. He blows a raspberry at her, which delights her endlessly. She tries to make the same sounds back at him, her little mouth not quite up to it yet. This continues for quite a while, Wedge making faces and noises at her, until she’s all tired out. Wedge sets her back down on the cushions, watching her little face scrunch up. He leaves her there for a moment, going to fetch himself a drink from the kitchen before settling her down in her crib.
He only reaches the door before he’s stopped by Bera’s heartbroken cries. When he turns back, there are tears streaming down Bera’s face. “Oh Bera.” She has severe separation anxiety; most babies encounter it at some point, but in Bera it’s extreme. They think it’s a consequence of her abandonment. Whatever it is, she never likes being far from Wedge’s side. It means they’re pretty joined at the hip these days. Wedge does straight back to her, lying on the floor alongside her, making sure she can see him clearly. “I’m here, can you see?” The flood of sobs subsides a little. Wedge grasps for one of her many toys, her favourite – a small cuddly Ewok that Wes Janson had bought her. There’s some dispute about whether sentient-eating Ewoks are really a suitable gift for small children, but Wes doesn’t care. Neither does Bera. When Wedge offers it to her, Bera clutches it close to her, encircling the toy and Wedge’s hand. “There there, Bera.” Wedge strokes her soft, dark hair. “Everything’s okay. I’m never going to leave you Bera. You’ll always have me.”
Wedge is still on his paternity leave – has another six weeks of it left – but he’d wilted under Snap’s begging and pleading and so today he is heading into military headquarters to give a talk to Snap’s squadron. Wedge was almost glad for it; he was getting a little antsy right now. He longed to fly again. This wasn’t flying, but it was something close enough to remind him of it. He still doesn’t know what he’ll do when his leave is up. Returning to the life he’d had before Bera, the demands his job put on him, seemed impossible. She was still too young for that, for him to leave her for weeks and months at a time.
What that meant for his career, Wedge isn’t sure of yet. But he has time to figure that out, another day.
He bundles Bera up in her carrier. He tosses in a couple of toys to keep her company; she throws them straight back out at him, her new favourite game. Wedge persists, until he gives up and shoves Kettch into his own bag for when she needs a toy to hold. He manages to tuck her blanket under her, so she might keep her booties on for more than five seconds, but she’ll lose those eventually too. Their apartment isn’t far from the base, and it’s a pleasant day, so Wedge decides to walk, carrying Bera in her basket.
He spots Hobbie and Janson, alongside some of the other Rogues, as he enters the hangar. The pair of them drop what they are doing and make their way over as Wedge wanders through to the briefing room where he’s supposed to meet Snap.
“You aren’t supposed to be back yet,” Hobbie comments as Wes crouches and pulls a series of ridiculous faces at Bera. She babbles and laughs back at him, slamming her hands together. It’s partially a clap, partially an attempt to grab Wes’s face.
“Just popping on for a visit. Snap wants to introduce his new squadron to the great Commander Antilles – his words,” Wedge tacks on, as Hobbie’s face pulls into a smile.
“And I bet they all want to get some time with this little angel.” Wes reaches in to rub Bera’s cheek, and gets his finger grabbed and then bitten for trying. “What’s Wedge been teaching you darling, it’s not nice to bite people.”
“She’s been teething, Wes, she’ll bite anyone and anything these days.” Wedge’s voice carries not an ounce of sympathy for Wes.
“Ouch. That sounds fun.”
It has not been an ounce of fun. Wedge has spent his past month awake most nights, trying to soothe her, distract her, do anything to help her through it. They’ve spent a lot of time watching the message Luke sent, enough that Wedge went digging for any others he had saved, and has asked Leia and Han for theirs as well. Wedge now has ten different messages to play Bera. She’ll watch endlessly, entranced by Luke. Wedge hopes it bodes well for the day he’ll have to introduce her to him.
The last few days have been a reprieve; Wedge thinks she might be over the worst of it.
“Eh.” Wedge shrugs. “Is Tycho about? I’d like to see him.”
“Meetings,” Hobbie replies. “I think he’s around this afternoon, we’ll let him know that you are about.”
Wedge moves on, before he’s late or Bera decides that she’s not actually happy in her carrier. When he enters the briefing room, there aren’t the twelve eager faces he was promised looking back up at him, but a number closer to thirty. At the lectern that Wedge himself has stood at many times, a long suffering Wing-Commander gives him a look, and Snap, besides them, shrugs apologetically. “Sorry, Commander Antilles. Word got out and well…”
“It’s okay, I know who’s fault it really is.” Wedge directs his ire at Snap. “It’s fine, just as long as it doesn’t overwhelm—” Right on cue, Bera bursts into tears. She’s not a fan of all the new faces staring down at her.
Snap swoops in, taking her carrier off Wedge. “Don’t worry. Come on Bera, it’s only Uncle Snap.” He takes her off to the edge of the room, unbuckling her from her carrier and resting her against his shoulder. Wedge cuts down the protest that rises in his throat. As things stand, Uncle Snap is her third favourite person in the galaxy. (Wedge is her favourite. Her second is Norra, who Snap has christened Grandma for her.) Snap should be able to soothe her as well as Wedge can. In a few minutes, all Wedge can hear is quiet snuffling.
He takes a breath, and looks up at all the pilots who are here to hear him talk about his expertise. Wedge guesses he better get started. “Well, you’ve all passed your piloting exams and have been granted a commission in the New Republic military, which means you’re better qualified for your jobs then I ever was.” A laugh echoes around the room, a couple of younger faces breaking out into smiles. Wedge only speaks the truth. He’d come in with startlingly little in the way of formal qualifications. “If you’re looking for some grand secret about how I survived the war, I can tell you that it doesn’t exist. Chance is all that’s kept me here, where it’s doomed hundreds of others. All I can do is tell you about some of the pilots I’ve known, and the best ways to increase your chances.” The room settles into quiet appreciation for Wedge’s words. “You’ve probably all heard about one ace pilot from Tatooine; let me start by telling you about the other.
Han watches the Beru’s Sunrise land. They’d only received word that Luke was in orbit three hours previously. Wedge had already left for the day, and was ignoring his comm, and Leia had a meeting with the Senate, so Han and little Ben are there to serve as Luke’s welcoming committee.
Luke’s back a little ahead of his amended schedule. Han hopes he’s found what he was looking for. He’d needed here. Wedge deserves to know whether he still has a partner, and little Bera deserves to know if she’ll get a second dad. Wedge is doing an admirable job, raising her by himself, but it doesn’t take a genius to see the longing on his face sometimes.
When the ship is fully docked, Han approaches. He holds Ben’s hand tight, to ensure that his son doesn’t wander off. Not that Ben has shown any interest in ships, but it would be easy for him to get lost here, distracted by a passing fancy. “Uncle Luke?” Ben asks, looking back and forth between the ship and his father.
“Yeah, we’re going to see Uncle Luke,” Han confirms. He squats, bringing himself down to Ben’s level. The ship’s gangway is lowering, and Han expects to see Luke any minute. But Luke does not emerge. He’s not even standing at the top of the ramp. “Yo Luke, we’re waiting out here!”
Ben adds his voice, as loud as he can muster. “Me too, Uncle Luke!”
“A moment, Han!” Luke’s words are followed by the sound of a crash, and then something too muffled for Han to catch, and then – was that the sound of a dog barking?
Apparently so, because a dog with a gold-brown coat of fur not dissimilar to Chewie’s comes barrelling out the ship, with a Twi’lek girl hot on their heels. “Mayla, wait!” Luke’s voice sounds exasperated.
The dog makes a beeline for Ben, and before Han can pick Ben up and out the way, the dog has knocked the toddler to the ground. The girl finally manages to catch her dog – Han presumes it’s her dog – and manages to pull him back, just enough so that Han can pull Ben free and settle the scared boy on his hip. “No, Pashven, bad dog, sit!” The girl puts her hands on her hips and her tone is indignant, and the dog obeys her, sitting on his hind legs and looking up at her with plaintive eyes.
Luke finally appears. In the months he’s been away, he appears to have lost his razor, because he’s grown a beard. It adds a few years to his face. It might even make him look distinguished, but to Han it just looks odd.
“Sorry, Master Luke,” the girl says. The dog whines in agreement.
Luke drops to the girl’s height, looking her in the eye. “It’s just Luke, Mayla. You don’t have to call me Master. And don’t worry too much, Pashven was just excited to see a new place. No harm done, right?”
Han feels Ben snuggle a little closer to his shoulder, a little shaky after his encounter with Pashven. Han doesn’t worry too much. Ben could do with a little more experience of the world. This girl and her dog could prove fine companions for his son.
Han tilts his head as he looks at the way Luke is with Mayla, how she wraps her arms around his neck for comfort, how he soothes her quietly. It’s almost… paternal.
Han bursts out into laughter. Wedge and Luke make a fine pair, both of them bringing back children on separate excursions.
“Something funny there, Han?” Luke asks.
“Absolutely hilarious, kid. Can’t tell you the joke, but you’ll get it soon enough.” It’s not Han’s tale to tell. But he is highly amused by the coincidence. “’S good to see you kid.” He claps a hand on Luke’s shoulder.
“Good to see you too. Hi Ben.” Ben finally tears himself from his father’s side to hold out his arms to his uncle. Luke takes him with a laugh, settling Ben onto his hip. “How’re you doing?”
“Don’t like dogs,” Ben proclaims.
Luke presses a kiss to the top of Ben’s hair. “Pashven’s a good dog. I’m sure you’ll get used to him in time.” Ben nods against Luke’s shoulder, and Luke realises he’s stuck with the boy. “Wedge? Leia?” Luke asks of Han.
“Both on planet. Leia’s at the Senate, she’ll see you this evening with any luck, Wedge is about – he’s busy this morning, but we might run into him this afternoon.”
Luke’s face doesn’t betray much emotion these days, but disappointment flickers across it. “Alright,” Luke says, not quite hiding his grimace. He wants to go find Wedge. But he had the opportunity to be there when Wedge got home five months ago, and he missed that. For what’s looking like it might have been a damn good reason, but still. “Okay, Mayla, lets get you sorted. Han, you coming with?”
Han thinks he might as well. He wants the tale of how Luke brought a Twi’lek girl and her dog back home with him. And then he wants to know what on earth he plans to do with them now.
Luke guides Mayla through the registration process required for her planetary arrival with all the patience of a parent. Even with his help, her administrative form is littered with holes. The official overseeing it gives the pair of them a disapproving look when they cast their eyes over it. “If there are any problems, please contact my wife, Senator Leia Organa,” Han says, before any objections can be raised. “She will be happy to answer any questions.”
The official scarpers, muttering something about abuses of power.
“Laying it on a little thick?” Luke raises an eyebrow.
“Just trying to help out.”
Luke then takes her to the nearest medical centre, which just happens to be on the military base. The same place Wedge brought Bera, all those months ago. At least Luke has more of a clue of who he’s dealing with; he’s known Mayla for three weeks. In that time, he’s learnt enough that he instructs the medics to do a full medical work up. Mayla’s been largely on her own for the last year, scavenging what she can, and it has to have taken its toll.
The medics aren’t exactly pleased with the number of people in the room, but when Ben starts fussing, they’ve had it. “Everyone not in need of medical attention needs to leave. Including you, Master Skywalker,” a medic adds, when only Han and Ben turn to go. “The dog can stay. I guess. We will send you a comm message when we are done.”
Sufficiently chastened, the three of them leave. Han and Luke pass Ben between them as they make their way through corridors, trying to calm the boy down. They aren’t heading anywhere in particular, but they find themselves being drawn to the hangar.
Luke immediately starts scouting the crowd of bright orange flightsuits for Wedge. Han is pretty certain that Wedge is in civilian clothing today, so Luke is looking in the wrong place. But it should make Wedge easier to spot.
Wedge is standing under the s-foil of an X-Wing, talking to a couple of pilots Han doesn’t recognise. He elbows Luke in the side, directing his gaze.
Luke makes a fond little gasp and hands Ben back to Han, taking off in Wedge’s direction the moment the toddler is out of his hands. It’s been nine months total since he last saw Wedge; seven months since they last spoke. Luke has missed him with an ardor that took him by surprise. Long nights spent wanting have provided Luke with a certainty about what he wants, and he wants Wedge. Knows with his heart and soul that he wants to spend the rest of his life with him. He only hopes Wedge feels the same way. He thinks Wedge might, or at least he did, once upon a time. But this separation has been hard on them, and the distance that was grown between them may have been too much.
When Luke had turned away five months ago, leaving only a message, was that the end of them?
Luke knows in his heart that he did what he had to do. He had to go after Mayla. He knows that was the right choice, he can feel it. But he wonders what it may have cost him.
“Wedge!” Luke gathers his pace as he closes the distance. Wedge lifts his face up, surprise glancing across his features, searching for the voice’s owner. His eyes settle on Luke and a smile crosses his face. He doesn’t move to meet Luke. He’s holding a large bulky object, with a handle of some kind. Luke guesses that it might be heavy? He draws to a halt a metre away from Wedge, not sure if he should greet Wedge the way he wants to, with an embrace and a kiss or not. “It’s good to see you.”
The pilots who were standing with Wedge both make hasty exits.
“It’s good to see you too.” There’s an uncertain edge to Wedge’s smile. “I didn’t expect you – you said you’d been gone another month.”
Maybe it’s just the surprised that has unsettled Wedge. “I found what I was looking for. So I thought I’d come home. To you.” The words spill out of his mouth before he has a chance to rein them in.
They are the right thing to say though, because Wedge seems to melt at the sound of them. “Oh Luke.” Wedge steps forward. He shifts whatever it is he’s holding to one hand, but the bulk of it still ends up clanging against Luke’s knee. But Luke is only focused on the feeling of Wedge’s left hand against his cheek, and then the way that Wedge’s lips brush against Luke’s in a kiss so sweet and needed it pulls a gasp from Luke’s throat. “I’ve missed you,” Wedge says, leaning against Luke, close enough that Luke can feel the words spoken against his own lips.
Luke tangles a hand in the hair at the nape of Wedge’s neck. “I’ve missed—”
His words are drowned out by a baby’s wail, sounding fierce and sharp and unexpected across the hangar. Luke’s first thought is of Ben, but it’s not him. It’s followed by a loud shout for Wedge. And all of a sudden, Wedge is stepping away from him, muttering curses under his breath. He thrusts whatever he was carrying at Luke, and then vanishes into the crowd of pilots.
Luke looks down at what he’s been handed.
It’s a baby’s carrier. Currently without a baby, though Luke suspects it goes with the one crying away right now. There’s a stuffed Ewok toy, and a blanket, covered in tiny X-Wings, tucked inside. Luke tries to see where Wedge has gone. He can’t see him. And Han is occupied, so Luke is just left there, wondering exactly what is going on.
Until Wedge comes back with a baby in his arms. She’s stopped crying. Currently, trying to grab whatever she can get her little hands on is far more fascinating; Wedge keeps battling her off, handling her with a deftness and ease Luke would never have suspected.
Luke looks at Wedge again.
He’s in civilian clothes; not his flightsuit, or even the dreaded dress uniform or duty fatigues. He doesn’t have a rank badge in sight. There’s a day’s growth of stubble on his face, which makes him look dashingly rakish, but doesn’t suit his usually clean military look. He’s not on active duty, Luke realises.
The baby is, if Luke’s experience with Ben is anything indicative of the average, about six months old. Luke’s been gone a long time, but not long enough for Wedge to have a baby with someone.
That is, assuming it is Wedge’s baby in the first place.
“Sorry for dashing off,” Wedge says. “Bera here decided that Uncle Snap wasn’t entertaining enough for her.”
At the mention of what must be her name, the baby looks up. She catches sight of Luke and lunges for him, hands outstretched. One of her little hands collides with Luke’s cheek.
Her expression furrows, as much as a baby’s can. She tries again, pushing her hand into Luke’s cheek.
And then bursts into tears. Horrific, wailing sobs, like her whole world is ending. Wedge draws her in quickly, curling her up on his shoulder, one hand rubbing her back. “Bera darling, it’s alright. It’s alright, come on, I’m here, nothing’s going to hurt you. What’s got you so upset, hey?”
Just a little despondent, Luke says, “I think she doesn’t like me.” It hurts. This baby is clearly an important part of Wedge’s life now, and although Luke knows that babies are often fickle, if she bursts into tears every time she sees Luke, then this isn’t going to work.
“That’s not it,” Wedge says, with a certainly that Luke is taken aback by. “Bera, darling, baby, come on. Dad’s here.”
“Dad?” It’s as bad as Luke feared. He knows his dread is showing in his voice.
Wedge also looks terrified. “Force, this is not the way I wanted this to go.” He bounces the baby up and down, and her sobs subside. “Luke, meet Bera. I found her,” he says, and Luke feels some of his fright lifting. “She was abandoned and alone and I brought her back to safety and somewhere along the way I became dad. Bera, meet Luke.” He turns Bera round so she’s facing Luke again. The baby’s eyes are red, and one of her hands is clasped tight in Wedge’s jacket. “Bera, you know Luke. C’mon.” Wedge talks to her softly, patiently. “You know your Pa. Just cause he looks a little different like this, doesn’t mean it isn’t him. This version of him is better.”
Wedge’s words don’t make a lot of sense. But Luke catches the sentiment, the desperate longing that is suddenly coming off Wedge in waves. Luke bends down a little, so that he can look the baby, Wedge’s baby, his baby, straight in the eye. “Hey Bera.” She sticks her hand out again. This time, it lands in his beard, and she seems fascinated by the sensation. Until she tightens her grip and suddenly it all hurts.
“Bwah!” Bera proclaims, as Luke grimaces.
Wedge coaxes her hand free. “Bera, we don’t grab things, especially not Pa’s beard.” Bera delights herself with catching one of Wedge’s fingers in her grasp instead. “Though when Pa decided a beard was a good idea, force only knows.”
Luke thinks he could get used to the name Pa. He stands back to his full height and rubs his jaw. There’s a lot to get used to, it seems. “You don’t like it?”
Wedge cocks his head. “I didn’t say that.”
Luke files that piece of information away. “It wasn’t intentional, I just got a little busy these past months.”
“I know the feeling.” Wedge settles Bera on his hip. “I didn’t— I thought I’d have time to work this out, another few weeks or so. I didn’t want to spring it on you. I didn’t expect any of this to work out how it did. But Bera’s mine, and I hope she might be yours as well, and that we can—” Wedge hesitates. Luke understands his meaning. He wants to have a family.
He brought back a child and only hoped that his partner would accept them as well.
And all of a sudden, Luke bursts into laughter, just as Han had done earlier.
“What’s so funny?” Wedge asks, utterly confused.
Luke takes a moment to quell enough of his hysterics to get the words out. “Stars, I’ve just got the joke.” Luke’s laughter is contagious; Bera dissolves into a fit of giggles. “Wedge.” Luke grasps his partner’s arms, heady with laughter and joy. “Oh force, we are a pair. I’ve spent my past six months tracking down a five-year old force sensitive girl. She’s with medical right now. They’re looking her over. And then they’ll release her back to my care. I brought home a kid too.” Luke descends back into laughter. “And she brought a dog.”
“And the fiery passionate sun shares her light,” Wedge sings soft and low, rocking Bera in his arms. “But there’s no lady gentle as stars.” It’s old and Corellian, and Wedge remembers his mother singing it to him in quiet moments. Bera loves it. She won’t settle tonight. Wedge guesses it’s all been too much for her. Luke’s in the spare bedroom, getting the Twi’lek girl Mayla and her dog settled for the evening.
When Wedge finishes the song, Bera seems quiet. Her eyes are scrunched closed and her breathing is even. Wedge holds her a little while longer – she’s getting big, and he wonders how long he’ll still be able to cradle her in his arms like this. He lays her down flat on her back in her crib, only for her to wake and start fussing again, grabbing onto the edge of his shirt and not letting go. “Oh Bera, Bera, come on, you know you need to sleep,” Wedge whispers to her. “You’re all cranky, come on darling.” Wedge manages to peel her hand off his sleeve cuff and lets her cling to his forefinger instead.
With his other hand, he reaches for the portable holounit next to her crib. He hits play and Luke’s image appears in front of them. It’s an old holo that was sent to Leia, a mission report of some kind. Bera probably doesn’t understand a word of it; Wedge can barely follow. But the content isn’t important. They help her.
They cycle through all the ones he has before Bera relaxes her grip on his finger and slowly drops away into sleep. Wedge pulls away slowly and turns the holounit off.
When he looks up, Luke is standing at the door, features wide in astonishment. Wedge wonders how long he’s been there for. He must have seen them watching the holos of him.
“She—” Luke breathes out in wonder. “You—”
Wedge goes to Luke’s side, tangling his fingers in Luke’s and drawing him away from the bedroom. “Luke.” There are so many things they need to talk about. “We’ll wake her if we stay here.”
Luke nods. “Mayla’s asleep too. Pashven’s settled on her bed. I don’t know if that’s really the best place for him, but he won’t be parted from her.”
Wedge flicks on the living room light, and closes the hallway door behind him. Beyond it, the kids sleep peacefully.
Last night, it was just Wedge and Bera in the apartment, and he’d spent the evening lying in bed with her on his chest. Which had been a pleasant way to spend an evening, but Wedge had found his gaze drifting to the empty half of the bed, wondering if there would ever be a day when Luke came back to fill it. Now he has. And he’s brought company. The once empty apartment now teems with life.
“I’m sure it’s fine.” Wedge turns so he’s facing Luke. He brushes a thumb over Luke’s cheekbone, fingertips brushing the bristle of Luke’s beard. “Force, Luke—”
Luke leans in to kiss Wedge; the welcome home kiss he’s wanted to give Wedge since he first saw him. It’s demanding and hasty and a little desperate, Luke’s hands gripping Wedge’s hips to bring him closer, kissing with the force of how much he’s missed Wedge. Wedge returns every ounce of passion. His hands thread in Luke’s hair, and they only part when they are both gasping for air.
“I missed you, I missed you, I missed you so much,” Luke says.
“It’s been a long time,” Wedge answers. Nine months isn’t the longest they’ve ever been parted, but this time has been the hardest, felt the longest. “I’ve missed you too.”
“I love you.” Luke kisses Wedge again.
They stay stood in the middle of the living room for quite some time, just kissing and holding each other and whispering all the feelings they’ve held close these past months to each other. Then, Wedge pushes Luke back onto the sofa and goes to fetch them something to drink.
He returns with two mugs of hot chocolate. “So…” Wedge says, a little nervous. “The kids.”
“How did we go from two people who weren’t even sure they had a relationship to having two kids and a dog?” Luke shrugs. “That’s a question for tomorrow, surely.”
It can certainly wait for the clear light of day. “Do you want to tell me a little about Mayla, then? She seems like a good kid.”
“She is.” Luke flexes his prosthetic hand over his knee as he searches for the right words. “I’ve been tracking her down for months. I felt someone calling out in the force. I had no idea it was a five year old child. I can only thank that she didn’t do it when the Empire was at its height. She’s been on her own for the last twelve months, running, with only Pashven to keep her safe. She’s strong. I’ll have to train her, help her, before she does something on instinct we’ll all regret.”
“And give her a home?”
“I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I knew I had to get her out of where she was. I knew that I was going to have to keep her close. I knew you were good with kids, that you wanted them, so…” Luke smiles a dopey smile. “I guess I probably was thinking about it in he back of my mind. The idea of a family.”
“We could be a family,” Wedge suggests.
“What about Bera? How’d she come to be entrusted to your care?”
“It’s a long story. I brought her back and I knew I’d have to give her up, but I got attached anyway. And then…” Wedge scrubs his face with his hand. “I meant to hand her over. But when the medics tried to examine her, she cried the moment she was taken away from me.”
“Babies don’t like change.”
“No, this was…” Wedge hasn’t allowed himself to think too much about the circumstances which brought Bera to his care. He’s been too busy. “It was eerie, Luke. Someone else would hold her, she’d burst into tears. In my arms, she was happiness personified. If I left the room there was endless wailing, but if I was within her sight her she was quite content. And…” Wedge rakes his hand back through his hair. “One of the medics looks a little like me. Enough to fool a baby; we tried it. But Bera wouldn’t stand for it. She knew.”
Luke considers this information. There are some children who are born with innate talent in the force. Mayla is one; Ben is another. In some ways, the younger they are the easier it is for them to access those powers. Maybe Bera is also sensitive to the force. Or maybe the trauma of her abandonment made her latch on hard to the first person to show her any kindness. “So, you took her because she was happy with no one else.”
“That’s about the sum of it. She’s getting better with people. She adores Norra, and Snap’s excellent with her. The Rogues all love her, but it depends on what sort of day she’s having if she loves them back. She bit Wes earlier.” Luke laughs. “She’ll like you in good time, once she gets accustomed to you. She adores you in holo. It shouldn’t take too long.”
“Do you think she doesn’t like me because I’m not actually blue and transparent?”
Wedge collapses into giggles. “I guess. She’s seven months old. Maybe it’s all a bit confusing for her.”
Luke lays his head on Wedge’s shoulder. “It’s sweet. That you play her those.”
Wedge brings up a hand to play with Luke’s hair. “It was all I had. I wanted to include you. I wanted it to be both of us. I didn’t know whether it would be, but I wanted it Luke. I wanted it will all my heart, for you to come home and be my partner and her father.”
Luke presses a kiss against Wedge’s skin. He slowly works up the courage to ask a question that has been on his mind ever since he heard her name. “Wedge. Did Bera come with her name, or did you give it to her?”
“I gave it to her,” Wedge answers. “I went through everything I could think of, common names of all descriptors, ones local to that planet, and she didn’t respond to any of them. So I picked something. It took a couple of weeks. It’s Corellian,” he explains. “Old-fashioned, but it suited her. And—” Wedge hesitates. Luke lifts his head, and Wedge looks bashful under his gaze. “I didn’t want to name her for anyone, not for the dead. I couldn’t give her a legacy like that. But I could name her in reminiscence. You’ve always spoken so fondly of your aunt.”
Luke kisses Wedge. “It’s perfect.”
“Oh shit Bera, what are you doing bab—” Wedge abandons his attempts at breakfast when he sees Bera scooting past the doorway. He dashes out into the hallway to find her determinedly crawling after Pashven. Pash – always excitable before his morning walk – is dashing every which way whilst Bera does her level best to keep up wit him.
Luckily, Bera’s mastery of crawling is still on the slow side, so Wedge catches her quickly and scoops her up to sit on his hip. “Bera, Bera darling, why are you not in your crib, what are you doing about?” Bera makes a happy babbling noise and sticks her hands in Wedge’s hair. She fluffs it out, then giggles some more. “Yes, daddy probably looks very silly right now, little mischief maker.” A sizzling sounds reminds Wedge that he was cooking, and he dashes back to the kitchen. He shuffles everything round the pan, and takes it off the heat, and breakfast will be fine. If a little burnt.
“Luke!” Wedge calls out, transferring Bera to his other hip as he dishes food onto plates. “Mayla, breakfast time! Come on, where are you two?”
Luke appears at the kitchen door as Wedge finishes speaking. He makes his way to Wedge, greeting his partner with a kiss, and then lifts a squirming Bera out of Wedge’s arms. “Morning, my loves,” he says. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Get Bera settled and find Mayla, this food is going to go cold if we aren’t careful!” Wedge moves plates to the dining table, three chairs and a high chair already in place, and then goes back for Bera’s food. Pash entangles himself in Wedge’s legs as he fills Bera’s bottle up. “Morning Pashven. Mayla—” Wedge raises his voice. “Where are you, sweetie?” Mayla appears in the kitchen in a rush, sweater on backwards, pulling Pashven away towards his bowl.
But it’s a chaos Wedge enjoys. He settles down to wolf his food down as quickly as he can, then turns his attentions to feeding Bera her breakfast. Luke scoops the dishes up and to the dishwasher. Mayla picks at her breakfast, whilst Pash is more interested in her feet than his food.
“Wedge—” Luke’s head jerks towards the clock. Wedge stands up abruptly; Bera cries out, but is soothed by a hand brushed over her head. “I’ll handle everything. Go finish getting ready.”
Wedge dashes off.
It’s his first day back at work today, after six months of leave. He’s not really sure what he’s doing. He’s not sure whether he even want this, to go back to the New Republic Starfighter corps, but he and Luke have been so busy settling themselves and the kids into their new life that they haven’t had a chance to discuss what their plans are for the future. Luke had done enough wandering that he knows he’ll stay home for a few months, happy to look after the kids.
After that, Wedge guesses that at least Bera will be old enough for nursery. Which could work, if Wedge swings a planetary assignment. They’ll cross that bridge when they come to it.
He wears his duty greys. He knows that today will mostly be full of administration, and checking his certifications are up to scratch. He fastens the cuffs on his shirt, straightens his jacket out, combs his hair into some sense of control. He takes a deep breath as he looks in the mirror.
Wedge finds that Luke is watching him from their bedroom doorway. “Thanks.” Wedge ducks his head in a blush. Luke walks toward him, runs his hands over the front of Wedge’s jacket, and then darts in for a quick kiss. “Are you sure about this?”
“I’m sure. We’ll be fine Wedge and if not, you are only a comm call away. The Rogues all know that this is going to be an adjustment.” Luke runs a hand over Wedge’s jaw. “Come on. You’ll be late.”
“Yeah.” Wedge allows Luke to tug him out the bedroom. He grabs his bag, pre-packed last night, and squats down in front on Mayla. “You be good for your Pa, okay? And be kind to your little sister. I think this might be rough for her.”
Mayla nods, sweet and serious. “I’ll take care of everyone, dad. And Pas will take care of me.”
“And have fun, okay?” She grins wide in response. “Excellent.”
He stands back up. Luke has retrieved Bera from her highchair, and she’s sitting quietly content in his arms. Privately, Wedge wonders how long that will last. Bera likes Luke plenty, but she’s still not fond of Wedge leaving her under any circumstances. “Come here, Bera.” Wedge takes her from Luke and lays her against his chest, cradling her close. “Dad’s going to be back before you know it, darling, and until then you have Papa and Mayla and Pash to keep you company, and it’s all going to be fine. You know your dad loves you very much. I love you Bera, you hear that?” Her little hands curl around his neck, and Wedge holds her for a little while longer. “I love you,” he whispers, dropping a kiss to her head.
Luke smiles at the image before him, the man he loves and the baby they both adore in his arms. But he can only let it linger a moment, before he’s stepping into Wedge’s space. “Okay, you best be going.”
“Yeah.” Wedge’s voice is heavy, weighed down with the weight of his emotions. “Love you Luke.” He kisses Luke, and holds him close. Luke takes Bera from Wedge as he draws away. “I’ll see you later,” Wedge chokes out. Luke waves goodbye, quietly encouraging Bera to do the same.
“Well you look miserable,” Norra comments as she drops into Wedge’s office.
Wedge looks up from the lunch he’d got from the mess hall and promptly retreated with, unable to face all the enquiries about his wellbeing, and groans.
Norra takes the seat across from his desk. “Separation anxiety? It gets us all, not just the kids. Especially at the start. And especially you and Bera, you’ve been attached at the hip since you rescued her.”
Wedge nods. “I think this is the longest I’ve been away from her in a good while,” he says, words a little shaky. “How am I supposed to do this? I know Luke’s trying his best, but right now he’s probably battling a crying fit or something.”
“Or maybe they are perfectly happy, sitting down to watch the latest Kap and Lothcat,” Norra suggests. “Stop moping. Also, sitting in your office is not the answer, let your boys distract you. That is what they are there for.”
“I rather think the military considers the men and women of Rogue Squadron to have duties far greater than distracting one mopey dad.”
“Yeah, but you’re forgetting the Rogues would do anything for you. So go.” Norra leans across and jabs him in the shoulder. “Come on, you.”
Wedge stands up after repeated jabs, and Norra hustles him out of his office. “Stars Norra, I’m not your kid, I’m going I’m going!” He allows himself to be pushed down the corridor to the Rogue’s rec room.
A baby’s giggling is the first thing he hears when he opens the door.
“Told you it would make you feel better,” Norra says, a little smug, as Wedge takes in the fact that Luke is sitting on one of the Rogue’s couches talking to Gavin, whilst Wes has Bera on his shoulders and is zooming her around the room. Pash is busy annoying Hobbie, nosing in his pockets for snacks that may or may not be there, and Mayla’s engaging in an intense conversation with Rhysati Ynr and Koyi Komad.
“Yeah.” Wedge takes a moment to remember how to breathe. He stands there unnoticed, until Bera suddenly shrieks with delight, and then everyone knows he’s there.
Wes jogs over, holding Bera steady – quite a feat considering she’s squirming every which way – and then ducks, allowing Wedge to lift Bera off him. “Hey boss,” Wes says with a smile. “I think she’s missed you.”
There’s no doubt about that. Bera affixes herself to the front of Wedge’s flightsuit, latching on, hands balled in the fabric, and Wedge cradles her close. “Hey baby,” Wedge whispers into her hair, inhaling the soft baby scent that still lingers about her. “Yeah. I’ve missed you too.”
He holds her out, looking into her dark serious eyes. She reaches her hand out, gums it on Wedge’s cheek and then says: “Dada.”
Wedge almost drops her in shock.
“Woah.” Norra steps in, helping Wedge support Bera. “What did you just say, little girl?”
“Bwah gah,” Bera proclaims, reverting back to the nonsense baby talk that’s been steady for a few months now.
“She just—” Wedge’s hands are still shaking. He’s astonished.
“Pretty sure she just said Dada,” Wes chimes in. “How about it Bera, think you can manage to say Uncle Wes?”
“Unnn baa daa,” she says to him. Wes nods, and responds in fiendish baby gobbledygook. Then, Bera turns back to Wedge and says, solemnly, “Dada,” once again.
“Yep,” Norra confirms. “She’s definitely doing it. And she knows who you are. She’ll be chattering away to you in no time at all. Won’t you Bera?” Norra strokes Bera under the chin, prompting more smiles, and the Bera reaches her arms out. “Ooh, you gonna come give Grandma Norra a hug?” Norra lifts Bera into her arms for a cuddle. “You’re getting big, girl.”
“She is.” Wedge is aware of the dopey smile that’s plastered onto his face. A year ago, he’d have been worried about being this vulnerable in front of the people he commands. Now, he knows that they’re the sort of people who just want to see him happy.
Across the room, Tycho sits next to Luke. “You made the right call, bringing the kids in.”
Luke tears his gaze away from Wedge. “You think so?”
“Well, no one will get any more work done today, but that’s no matter. Wedge needed it. Are you sure he’s ready to come back to us?”
“I don’t know.” But, Luke thinks, the more pertinent question is will Wedge stay?
There’s a party in full swing in Han and Leia’s apartment. Officially it’s a three-year wedding anniversary for them, but it’s just an excuse for a good bash. Music is playing and the Solo-Organa’s front room has had the furniture pushed to the wall to turn it into a dance floor. The adults have largely taken to it, in groupings of two and three. Wedge spots a few other Rogues in attendance; Tycho’s currently on the dance floor with Leia’s pale-haired companion, recently emerged from deep cover, and Wes is spinning Norra around in circles as she laughs.
Han and Leia are slow-dancing in their own little world, happy and content. Lando stops to offer them a drink, momentarily disrupting their flow, and he twirls them both under his arm before he moves on.
Chewbacca has the babies. Ben is sitting atop Chewie’s shoulders, and Bera is perched on Chewie’s knee, watching keenly. It won’t be long before she’s trying to scrabble out of Chewie’s grip to crawl and toddle about the dance floor herself, but Wedge knows she’ll come to no harm whilst in Chewie’s care.
Pash dashes about underfoot, chased by Mayla, until Hobbie manages to catch them both and sit them down, fetching Mayla a soft drink. Once again, Wedge smiles in delight at how much his friends have taken to this family he’s built for himself.
“You alright?” Luke suddenly appears at Wedge’s elbow with a pair of drinks in hand.
Wedge takes the one he’s offered. “Yeah. Just thinking.”
Luke entwines the fingers of his free hand with Wedge’s. “About anything in particular?” Wedge shakes his head. “Well in that case love, want to dance?”
Wedge is only too happy to oblige Luke. They find an empty surface to set their drinks on, and then step out together, in more of an embrace than any pretence at dancing. They do that until both of them are tugged away by other people and into the collective joy of the evening. Wedge dances with Norra, and takes a turn with all of his fellow pilots in attendance. He puts Mayla on his feet for a dance, though she’s already far better than him. At some point, someone retrieves little Bera and Ben from Chewie and both are passed around, various people swaying them in arms to the music. Bera’s peals of delight are a contrast compared to Ben’s sullen face. Later, Ben is returned to his mother and then he deigns to crack a smile.
A boisterous pop song that Wedge remembers from his youth on Corellia comes on just as he’s handed Bera, and he wedges her on his hip and grabs one of her little hands as he sings along to it. Someone whistles in appreciation, and when Wedge spins around to try and work out exactly who is was, he finds an entire line of people watching him in appreciation. “Looking good Antilles!” Lando yells, and Wedge just rolls his eyes before turning his attention back to Bera and the music.
Wedge and Luke are still there as the party dies down. Given that they live only two floors up, it makes sense for them to help with the clear up. Ben demands a bed time story from Uncle Luke, one for him and him alone. Leia and Han share a long-suffering glance, but Luke is happy to provide.
In the corner of the living room. Mayla lies half asleep over Pashven, and Bera sleeps soundly curled against his side. It’s adorable. Leia hand Wedge a holo-camera when she points it out to him.
“You look so happy,” Leia comments as Wedge snaps away, determined to capture the moment.
“It’s cause I am.”
“I’m glad.” Leia wraps an arm around Wedge’s waist, and he wraps an arm around her shoulders. She can’t believe that less than a year ago, she was worried about the inevitability of Wedge’s broken heart. It seemed impossible that he and Luke would ever make it work. Now, they are overflowing with happiness.
Once Luke has Ben settled, Wedge and Luke set to making their way upstairs. Bera is carried without waking, and Mayla only mildly grumbles in Luke’s arms. By unspoken agreement, Luke and Wedge part to put their children to bed. Bera’s crib is still in the main bedroom, but what was the office area is being transformed into a nursery for her. The spare room is now thoroughly Mayla’s. Wedge wonders if they’ll outgrow the apartment at one point. Maybe when the kids are a little bigger.
Wedge finishes first and collapses on the sofa. He loosens the cuffs on his shirt, and unbuttons the top buttons too. When Luke returns, he gives Wedge an appreciative once over. “Come here,” Wedge says, and a hand goes to a wrist and there’s a kiss that ends with Luke’s knee between Wedge’s thighs.
“Stars, I love you.” Luke stares into Wedge’s eyes and then falls against his for another kiss. Wedge pulls him down, and then pushes him back against the sofa, kissing him desperately.
Wedge presses kisses to Luke’s cheek, his jawline, his collar bone, before slowly easing and settling into Luke’s side, head resting on Luke’s shoulder. Luke cards his fingers through Wedge’s fine hair. “You make me so happy.” Wedge presses his fingers against Luke’s chest, reassured by the feel of Luke’s heartbeat. “I never thought I’d be this happy Luke. Never.”
“Same,” Luke replies, sleepy and content. “You, the kids, you mean everything to me love.” He places a kiss to Wedge’s hair.
The words slip out of Wedge’s mouth unbidden, but they don’t lack meaning for it.
“What—?” Luke is bleary with surprise. He blinks as Wedge pushes himself up to look Luke directly in the eye.
“Luke.” Wedge takes a deep breath. “Will you marry me?”
Luke reach up, brushing his thumb against Wedge’s cheekbone. Wedge is stiff, and half-flinches away under Luke’s touch, he’s that afraid of what Luke’s answer might not be.
“Yes.” Luke’s response is barely audible. He swallows his nerves and repeats it. “Yes Wedge. Yes. I’ll marry you.” He pushes himself up to meet Wedge’s mouth in a kiss. “Yes, yes, yes.”
Wedge laughs, giddy with delight and relief. He presses his forehead to Luke’s. “I love you, I love you.” A kiss is pressed to his lips, though Wedge is too busy smiling to return it properly. “I love you, husband.” Wedge tries the word out and smiles some more, overwhelmed with emotion.
“Not yet,” Luke says, leaning up to wipe tears from Wedge’s eyes. “Soon love, soon. Of course I’ll marry you. I love you so much. I want this. I want all of it.”
Wedge peers through a crack in a mostly closed doorway, watching Bera toddle up the aisle, tossing petals every which way she can. She’s in a pretty dress of her own choosing, and is all sunshine and smiles as she walks into Norra’s arms. Wedge smiles softly as Luke wraps him in an embrace. “She looks adorable.” Luke places a kiss to his husband-to-be’s cheek.
“Break it up you two!” Leia beckons Luke back to her side. “Plenty of time for that after the wedding.” Luke disentangles himself, and Wedge prepares himself.
There’s only a moment, and then the doors are opened. Wedge walks out first, on Tycho’s arm, into the crowd of their friends who have turned out for the occasion. The wedding is an intimate affair, but they’ve acquired more friends than they realised over the years, and they want to share the occasion with as many as they can.
Wedge and Tycho reach the raised dais, taking their respective places, and turning to wait for Luke. In Norra’s arms, Bera fusses, so Wedge reaches for his daughter, securing her on his hip as Luke walks out on his sister’s arm.
This is a family affair, more than anything. Han is sitting in the front row, with Ben on his lap, Chewbacca next to him. Threepio and Artoo both join them. On Wedge’s side, Hobbie and Wes are representing, with Mirax Terrik between them, flown in specially for the occasion. Mayla is standing besides Norra, with Pashven sat patiently next to her. Neither Wedge nor Luke have any parents left living, and their loss is felt today more keenly today than it is usually. But the people they have around them are their family, and they love them.
As Luke draws closer, Tycho takes a moment to whisper in Wedge’s ear. “You did good,” he says, as Leia passes Luke to Wedge and Wedge takes Luke’s hand in his. Mayla steps up to take Luke’s free hand, Bera sits happy on Wedge’s hip, and all Wedge can think is that yes. He did do good.
And now they have the rest of their lives together.