Well, since I'm new here I figured I'd reach into my fic archive and post something for ya'll. Next up I'll have to convince Nanci to post some of her awesome fic.
I've got an entirely unhealthy love of all things Rogue Squadron, and this fic plays right into that.
Title: Next of Kin
Rating: PG for violence and alcohol
Timeframe: 5 ABY, sometime in between the Rogue Squadron comics and the first X-Wing novel
Characters: Wedge Antilles, Tycho Celchu, Hobbie Klivian, Winter
Disclaimer: Don’t own Star Wars or the characters. Props to George Lucas and Michael Stackpole
Summary: The ten months Tycho Celchu went missing was one of the darkest periods of Wedge Antilles' life.
Author’s notes: The dates are presented in a Day-Month-Year format. Consider this a sort of fill-in-the-gap fic that addresses how Wedge dealt with Tycho's disappearance between the comics and the first X-Wing novel.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
New Republic MC80a Star Cruiser Odysseus
It sounded like some sort of sick, cruel, disgusting joke.
Wedge half expected someone to burst out of the supply cabinet opposite of him and yell “Gotcha!” He wanted to know who had put General Salm up to this. First, Wedge would pummel that nameless individual into a pulp. He would then buy them a drink and ask how they managed to get the hard-nosed General to play along with such a gag. One thing was certain though, this prank had yet to tickle his sense of humor.
“We’re doing what we can but it’s been thirty hours since we heard from Captain Celchu,” the heavyset General said from his seat on the other side of his desk, uncomfortably running his fingers through his thin hair.
Someone could jump out of the supply cabinet at any time now.
“I’m sorry Commander,” the General continued. “I know you two were close. That’s why I came down here in person, better you hear it from me than from second-hand chatter.”
“I …” Wedge covered his mouth with a closed fist for a moment before speaking up again. “Thank you, General.”
Salm stood and gave the young Corellian a sympathetic look. In their brief working relationship together they had never gotten along all that well, but Wedge could sense the sincerity behind the gesture. They had both been at this long enough to know that this kind of news was never pleasant to receive. A part of Wedge was honestly thankful that a man he had butted heads with so many times in such a short period could set aside his differences to relay this message. It was a subtle reminder that in the end, they were all on the same side.
“I need to go relay this news to someone else. Commander, if you need anything don’t hesitate to call.”
As Salm left, Wedge buried his face in his hands. What was he supposed to do now? How was he supposed to react to the news that his best friend from an admittedly small group of friends was missing? Tycho was either dead or, worse, in the hands of the Empire. Should he feel angry? Sad? The only thing he could identify was numbness. Salm had been in his office for nearly ten minutes explaining what happened but he barely remembered a word that was said after “It’s about Captain Celchu.” He remembered Salm mentioning vague reports from other agents that his TIE Fighter had been disabled and captured in the skies over Coruscant. Everything else uttered by the General had flown over his head.
He began to feel the numbness fading. It seemed to coincide with the realization that no one would be jumping out and proclaiming that this was all a gag at his expense. Slowly the first layer of emotion that had been hidden to that point bubbled to the surface: a feeling of utter illness.
Wedge fell out of his desk chair and doubled over, vomiting into the waste bin stored under his desk. After several long minutes he forced himself back onto his seat, wondering idly if he looked as sick as he felt. He found himself oddly focused on the foul taste in his mouth and the burning sensation in his throat. When was the last time some bit of news had caused him such physical distress? His mind quickly flashed back to his teenage years, sitting at a transparisteel viewport and watching the explosion that destroyed Gus Treta station.
Tycho was the closest thing to family he had. The thought of him being dead or thrown into some dank holding cell caused his stomach to lurch again. Taking a deep breath, Wedge leaned back in his seat and stared up at the ceiling. What now? He realized with a jolt that he had calls to make. Standing, he made his way to the ‘fresher adjacent to his office, pouring cold water into his hands and splashing it against his face. He looked in the mirror in an effort to compose himself before toweling off and returning to his desk.
He keyed in a few commands into the terminal. Moments later he was patched through to a New Republic training vessel several systems away.
“This is Frigate Penumbra,” a young-looking officer appeared on Wedge’s desk holodisplay. “Please identify yourself and state the nature of your call.”
“This is Commander Wedge Antilles,” he replied. “I need to speak to Lieutenants Klivian and Janson, priority clearance.”
Perhaps it was an abuse of his rank to issue a priority clearance for a call like this, but at that moment Wedge couldn’t be bothered to care. This was far more important than a list of holocommunications etiquette guidelines.
“Understood, patching you through,” the officer said. A holding image appeared on the display while the Lieutenants were tracked down
Wes Janson and Hobbie Klivian were former Rogues that had been part of the original pre-Hoth squadron. Several months earlier they had been reassigned to a starfighter academy to instruct young pilots, something Wedge still wasn’t pleased with. He had been trying for weeks to get them back and onto the potential Rogue Squadron reformation roster without success. Still, he knew that they were doing good work and that they were happy enough with their new calling.
The holding screen that had been on his display for several minutes vanished, revealing a grinning Wes and a significantly more even-keeled Hobbie.
“Long time no talk, Boss,” Wes said. “Now, if this is about the package of stuffed gizkas I sent you I swear I can explain.”
Wedge did his best to try and smile. A feeling of dread began to form in the pit of his stomach as he tried to formulate words. He had written more of the dreaded “Next of Kin” letters than he cared to remember and though they never became routine, he had at least gotten to the point where he could emotionally prepare himself to deliver bad news to the loved ones of a subordinate. This, however, was so much more personal. He was preparing to relay dreaded news to two individuals that were both close friends of Tycho and himself.
“Hobbie, Wes …” Wedge trailed off. How would he prefer to hear this news? Certainly not drawn out. He would want the messenger to get straight to the point.
“There’s no easy way to say this,” Wedge subconsciously shifted in his seat in a futile effort to calm his nerves. “I just got word that Tycho went missing over Coruscant yesterday. It’s been over thirty hours since last communication but…”
Hobbie’s face fell. “The reports aren’t good, are they?”
Wedge shook his head. “It doesn’t appear that Tycho made it off-world.”
There was an uncomfortable silence for a few moments. Though it was only a few seconds in reality, it felt like an excruciating eternity for Wedge before anyone spoke again.
“That’s not funny, Wedge,” Wes said quietly.
He wasn’t quite sure how to reply. Wedge could read it in the man’s eyes, Wes wasn’t going to admit that Tycho could be gone. If he were to be honest, Wedge wasn’t quite sure if he believed it either. This was Tycho Celchu, he’d gotten through plenty of rough scrapes while with Rogue Squadron. Surely he’d be able to find a way out of this mess.
“I really wish I had better news,” Wedge responded. “We’re going to get him back, though. It’s going to take more than an Imperial holding cell to keep him contained.”
He smiled, buying into his own foolish words. Wes seemed to appreciate the thought but Hobbie merely offered a half-hearted smile. He may have been the dour one, but he was also a realist. Just the expression on his face cut deep into Wedge.
“Does Winter know yet?” Hobbie asked.
“Winter …?” Wedge eyes shot wide open. How could he have forgotten? “I’ll- I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I need to …”
He didn’t bother finishing his thought, standing and terminating the call and running out of his office. Wedge swore at himself aloud for not thinking of her sooner. He knew that she was onboard the Odysseus, they were part of the same frelling New Republic-mandated propaganda tour. In hours he was supposed to be paraded in front of diplomatic leaders and she was supposed to play the role of Leia Organa’s body double. Had she heard yet?
General Salm’s words flashed back into his brain. He was going to meet with someone else to share the news about Tycho. This time Wedge let out an even louder, more scathing curse. Of course she knew. She was the person Salm needed to speak to. Wedge was absolutely furious with himself. That should have been the first thing he had done after finding out. He should have broken the news to her, not some General with which she was only faintly aquainted.
Wedge stopped in front of the door to Winter’s temporary quarters, keying the doorchime. After a few moments without an answer he pounded on the transparisteel door and shouted her name. Still no response. Gritting his teeth he ran his fingers over the control pad and committed his second abuse of senior officer privilege of the day, entering in his security bypass code and disarming the lock. The door slid open and he stepped in.
There on the living area floor was Winter.
In his mind's eye he always saw her as a woman who held herself up in a regal, supremely elegant manner. To see her collapsed on the ground, sobbing into her hands was nothing short of jarring. Once more Wedge was at a complete loss. The only thing he could think of was to sit down next to Winter, wrap an arm around her shoulders, and simply let her cry on his.
Right at that moment the numbness returned.
Somewhere in Hyperspace
Wedge muttered to himself as he watched the countdown meter mounted to the canopy railing count backwards towards zero. Thirty seconds until the reversion to realspace. He hardly realized how tense he was. Had he not been wearing a pair of black flight gloves he may have been able to see that his knuckles wrapped around the flightstick and hyperdrive lever had turned white. The moment the meter hit the 00:00:00 he deactivated the hyperdrive. The molten black and blue tunnel of hyperspace gave way to thousands of sharp, white needles before yielding to the sight of a starfield against a back backdrop.
Out in the distance was the EF76 Nebulon-B class frigate Redemption, the New Republic’s primary medical vessel. He reached for the communication panel of his X-Wing, trying to activate the subspace radio but instead flipping the switch that controlled the heating unit with an unsteady hand. Cursing, he took a calming breath and activated the correct switch. Easy, Antilles.
“Frigate Redemption this is New Republic X-Wing One-Three-Three-Seven requesting landing clearance,” Wedge said into his helmet-mounted microphone.
“Acknowledged, please transmit your security credentials,” A voice aboard the Redemption responded.
Wedge depressed a series of buttons on the flight console. “Transmitting security codes.”
After several agonizing moments the traffic officer authorized his approach to the hanger on the port-side of the ship. He set down on the designated landing circle, admittedly with a bit less precision than he usually expected from himself. Wasting no time he pulled off his gloves and helmet, keying for the canopy release. Once more he began to mutter to no one but himself as he waited for a deckhand to bring a ladder towards his ship.
After several minutes of waiting he had enough. Clumsily he undid the straps holding him into the flightseat and stood, launching himself over the edge of the cockpit and towards the ground. His ankle rolled under him as he landed, causing Wedge to wince in pain. The injury wasn’t enough to deter him as he half-ran, half-limped towards the hangar exit. It’s okay, I’m on a medical frigate. They can patch me up after I see him.
Hours earlier he had received a priority message indicating that Tycho had been found. The details were sketchy. From what he understood a Y-Wing patrol flight had stumbled upon a broken-down Imperial prisoner transport. After shaking off its escort, a military detail boarded the ship and liberated the prisoners onboard, many of which had been Rebellion Prisoners of War. They had immediately been transferred to the Redemption for treatment and precautionary evaluations.
Someone matching Tycho’s description had appeared in that group of recovered POWs. The instant Wedge had been told that he made a break for his X-Wing. Without bothering to clear his departure with his superiors, he managed to con a deck officer into granting him clearance to leave for the medical ship. One of these days he was going to get a demotion for abusing the powers his rank provided.
After scrambling to the primary medical desk he made his way towards the room where Tycho was. Shoving his way past a few guards and doctors, he burst into the recovery room that his friend had been assigned to recuperate in. He scanned the beds, ignoring the startled look some of the patients gave him. He was only dimly aware that he looked somewhat deranged, limping towards them while still clad in his flight gear.
Out of the corner of Wedge’s eyes he spotted him. A wide grin formed on his face as he stepped towards one of the beds, but the expression soon vanished as he took a good look at the patient. The dark blonde hair was a match and he had the frame of a starfighter pilot, but the man lying unconscious in that bed wasn’t Tycho. Wedge could see how the unknown former POW could have been mistaken for the Alderaanian but that did precious little to ease the sensation that he had just been punched in the stomach
He picked up the datapad hanging at the end of Not-Tycho’s bed. Just as he feared, the patient had been mistakenly identified. Any lingering hopes that he had simply been given the wrong room number to find his friend had been dashed. Most likely some poor duty officer that had been swamped with new arrivals had been forced to search through the Republic database to try and match faces to service record mug shots, leading to the false positive identification. With a heavy sigh, Wedge replaced the datapad and left the recovery room.
Before he left he made sure to inform a nearby physician that Not-Tycho needed to be re-identified. A medical tech tried to stop him on his way back to his X-Wing to treat his very clear limp, but Wedge would have none of that. He needed to get back to his post. Gritting his teeth through the pain, he climbed back into his starfighter and half-heartedly went through a memorized pre-flight checklist. When he pulled back on his flightstick slightly to pull off the duracrete hangar floor, his ship failed to lift.
Wedge wasn’t quite aware that he was shaking with anger as he yanked on the stick harder in a futile attempt to bring his ship off the ground. Just before he hit the end of his patience, Wedge realized that he had forgotten to activate the repulsorlift motivators. Taking a steadying breath, he reached under the orange visor of his helmet and rubbed his eyes, ordering himself to rein his emotions back in. He went through his checklist once more, making sure he hit everything. The second attempt to leave the hangar was successful.
The hyperspace leg back to the Odysseus felt markedly longer than the jump to the medical frigate. Wedge spent the nearly four hour trip with a single-minded focus on the pain he was feeling in his ankle. Better to lock in on that than reflect on yet another dead-end chase. How many groups of recovered Imperial prisoners had he scoured in hopes of finding him? Worse, how many more leads were left to follow?
It was 1930 standard time when Wedge found himself back in his office at sitting behind his desk. The moment he had touched down he was greeted by a superior officer who was all too eager to chew him out for leaving for the Redemption without proper clearance. He had gone into autopilot, offering a series of “yes, sirs” and “no, sirs,” at appropriately timed junctions while largely ignoring the verbal dress-down he was receiving. Wedge couldn’t be bothered to care about some sort of official reprimand that would appear on his service record. The moment his superior had finished chewing him out, Wedge retreated to his office.
For a long while he stared at the wall-mounted chronometer situated just above the door opposite of him. Forty-three minutes and twenty-one seconds after he sat down he reached for a locked drawer in his desk, entering in his passcode to release the seal. He slid it open and procured a half-empty bottle of Whyren’s Reserve and a shot glass. His hands were shaking once more. He poured the drink into the glass, though more of it landed on the desktop than where it should have gone.
He slammed the drink down and immediately filled the glass again, repeating the process. He wasn’t proud of what he was doing. Nor was he proud of how many bottles he had gone through over the last few months, but logic and reason had been tossed out an airlock hours earlier. After the fifth shot of Whyren’s he paused to look at the terminal on his desk. Still on the primary display was the message he had received that Tycho had been found. Wedge’s hands balled into fists as he read it over once more. Just another lead that had gone nowhere.
His fist suddenly landed on the keyed input of his terminal, shattering it and sending shards of material flying in all directions. Wedge sat very still for a long moment, his entire body trembling with rage. The shot glass and bottle of Whyren’s met his wrath next. Both were hurled into the door opposite of him. The loud shattering of glass filled the room and amber liquid trailed down the durasteel before forming a puddle on the floor below. He was standing now, hunched over his desk and glaring at nothing in particular.
Without any warning he overturned his lightweight, shoddily-constructed desk, causing the stacks of flimsy and various writing implements to crash onto the ground. He spun around and swiped at a stack of datacards on a shelf behind him, knocking them to the floor unceremoniously. Wedge grasped a model display X-Wing and threw it at the floor, the force of the impact scattering broken pieces away from the now broken ship. Just as he was about to pick up a holoframe a hand grabbed him by the wrist.
Turning on his heels he was surprised to see Hobbie Klivian standing on the other side of his upturned desk.
“Winter begged me to take some shore leave to check on you,” Hobbie said without being prompted.
Wedge snagged his hand away from his former subordinate. “I’m fine.”
“Really, Wedge?” Hobbie looked incredulous as he motioned at the scene of chaos surrounding them. “You expect me to believe that you’re fine? Look at yourself!”
“I said I’m fine,” Wedge repeated, putting as much edge in his tone as he could muster.
Hobbie walked around the desk, an accusatory finger in the air, “How many times are you going to fly out to the Redemption to personally sift through their new arrivals? How many times are you going to volunteer for a routine patrol just for a chance to see an Imperial prison transport to cross your path?”
“At least I’m trying to find him!” Wedge shot back.
“It’s been four months!” Hobbie threw his hands into the air in frustration. “If he hasn’t shown up on a transport by now he’s not going to. We don’t even know if he’s still alive!”
Wedge’s fists clenched once more. “Shut up, Klivian.”
“What are you going to do?” Hobbie demanded. “Get in your X-Wing and go all the way to Coruscant yourself to look for him?”
“You need to leave.”
“That’s about your only option left. Wedge, he’s gone. He’s gone and there’s nothing either of us can do anymore.”
Wedge was shaking again. How dare he? How dare Hobbie suggest that Tycho wasn’t coming home? He had gotten through worse. They all had managed to survive worse. Wedge took a step towards Hobbie. The man needed to leave his office at that moment. He was in no mood to deal with Hobbie’s dour outlook on the situation. If he wasn’t going to help find Tycho, that was fine. What Wedge wouldn’t stand for was Hobbie trying to project that hopelessness onto him.
“Get out,” Wedge ordered once more. “You may have given up on him, but I haven’t.”
Those words ignited a look of fury on Hobbie’s face that Wedge wasn’t sure if he had ever seen before.
“Don’t you dare put words in my mouth, Commander,” Hobbie responded quietly. “I will never-”
Before he could finish, Wedge reached back and landed a sharp right-hook squarely across Hobbie’s jaw. Just as he was about to raise an arm to strike again, Hobbie countered. An excruciating sense of pain flooded through his own jaw, mouth, and face as Hobbie struck back, clearly not attempting to withhold any strength. Wedge stumbled backwards, tripping over his chair and landing on the ground with a dull thud. His ears rang.
Looking up, he saw Hobbie standing over him with a sorrowful expression. “He was my friend too.”
Hobbie took a seat on the ground in front him, staring at the broken model X-Wing. Wedge looked away, his eyes locking on the holoframe that would have been destroyed had his friend not intervened. Contained within it was a holophoto of himself, Wes, Hobbie, and Tycho. It was a candid still image of the four of them in their flightsuits, gathered around the forward landing strut of a starfighter. Wes must have said something amusing just before it had been taken, for all of them had grins plastered on their faces.
Embarrassment and regret filled him. Wedge looked towards the man he had wronged and opened his mouth to speak, but before he could say anything Hobbie waved a hand dismissively.
The crushing, awkward hush that ensued was a mutual apology.
That still hadn’t quite settled in. It had been ten months to the day that Tycho had gone missing. Wedge was embarrassed to admit that had caught him off-guard. Had it really been that long? Winter had been the one who had brought it up earlier in the day while they sat on a stage in the sweltering sun. For a brief moment he forgot about the annoyance he felt for being dragged out to another propaganda event. Wedge felt guilty for having forgotten the significance of the date.
Tycho’s disappearance had consumed him for the first seven or so months and it had taken a clear toll on his work. His friends and superiors had noticed. He had heard rumors that General Salm was getting ready to intervene, coming within moments of issuing mandatory shore leave with a psychologist to get his act together. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t aware that others were concerned. Wedge simply couldn’t find it in himself to care.
It was the eighth month when things started to turn around for Wedge. Admiral Ackbar arrived in his office to be the latest senior officer to chew him out for his sloppy work. Rarely did he leave Home One. For Ackbar to be paying a personal visit was either a very good sign or a harbinger of terrible things to come. It didn’t surprise Wedge in the slightest when it turned out to be the latter of the two options.
The ultimatum was simple. If there wasn’t a turnaround and quickly, he was going to discharge Wedge and send him packing. The rest of the meeting was brief. Wedge was given one chance to show he was still up to the job: he had to deliver the names of four dozen pilots suitable for reforming Rogue Squadron.
He was suddenly terrified. Ten weeks was nowhere near enough time to do such a daunting task justice. Wedge pored over the New Republic pilot registry, combing simulator scores, instructor comments, and conducting informal interviews. If he were to be honest, he wasn’t sure if he was going to make it. It took numerous sleepless nights with a caf maker to create the finalized list, but two hours before the deadline he managed to hand-deliver it to Admiral Ackbar and General Salm.
That had been only a day earlier. He realized that devoting himself to that task had been just the distraction he needed to get his career - and life - back on track. Part of himself wondered if that had all been Ackbar's plan all along. The Mon Cal was a decidedly cunning tactician in the battlefield. Perhaps some of that skill translated to wrangling his subordinates into place as well. Later Wedge confronted him and posed that question point-blank. The admiral only offered a rough approximation of a grin before dismissing Wedge without an answer.
A chirping notification on his encrypted hotel room terminal jolted Wedge from his reverie. Blinking in surprise, he set down his fruit fizz on the desk and depressed a button on the keypad to activate the holocomm link.
“This is Commander Antilles,” he said.
He was greeted by the image of a young woman wearing what looked to be a New Republic medical officer’s uniform
“Good evening Commander, I’m Lieutenant Destora,” she said. “I do hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
“Not at all,” Wedge replied honestly. “What can I do for you?”
“We’ve just had a patient admitted with no next of kin listed. He…seems like he could use some company right now.”
He noticed that Destora looked somewhat nervous. Why was he being told such a vague story?
“I appreciate the concern for your patient,” Wedge said, “but as much as I'd like to greet every patient on board your ship I can’t exactly drop what I'm doing to fly out there.”
“I understand, Commander,” Destora said, “but please hear me out. I couldn't contact or locate any relatives, but his service record has you listed as his last commanding officer.”
“Sir, I wouldn’t ask unless I thought it was important.”
Wedge could sense the sincerity in her voice. Sighing to himself, he chose to play along.
“Very well. It looks like you’re only a few hours away so I’ll see what I can do. No promises though, understood?”
“Yes, sir,” the Lieutenant offered a weary smile. “Thank you.”
With that the holocomm call ended. The entire exchange had been confusing, but if anything it gave Wedge a reasonable excuse to get off-world for at least a few hours. Fishing his comlink out of his pocket, he placed a call in to General Salm requesting permission to ship out to the Redemption. When pressed as for a reason, he responded honestly. There was someone on board he needed to see. Wedge could tell that Salm was reluctant to give the go-ahead. After a few minutes of arguing Wedge managed to secure clearance to leave.
The hyperspace jump was relatively brief. Wedge did his best not to get his hopes up for ten months was an awfully long time for a prisoner of war to turn up. Military or not, the longer someone was missing the less likely they would ever be found again. Still, as the medical frigate grew larger in his forward viewport he couldn’t help but wonder. Could this really be it? One question seemed to spawn another.
If it was Tycho, should he have talked to Winter before leaving?
Should Wes and Hobbie know?
What would he say?
He shook his head and chastised himself for jumping so far ahead. Wedge had convinced himself that he was at peace with Tycho’s loss. Doubt began to form in his mind. Had he really come to terms with it, or had he just kept himself busy enough to keep from thinking of him? He did his best to push those thoughts out of his mind as he set down his X-Wing on the Redemption’s hangar floor. Tapping his fingers against his flightsuit, he waited several minutes for a deckhand to wheel a descent ladder to his ship. The moment he was on the ground he was greeted by the concerned Lieutenant who called him only hours earlier.
“I can’t thank you enough for arriving so quickly,” Destora said, leading him out of the hangar and towards a repulsorlift.
“Don’t mention it,” Wedge said quietly as the lift descended towards a level he had never been on.
“Again I apologize for the lack of transparency,” she continued. “I might be in some trouble for just contacting you, but…”
She trailed off as the lift opened. Wedge stepped into a hallway that was lined with armed guards, a pair standing outside each room. A sign above the hall indicated that they were in a secure wing. Now he wasn’t sure what to think. This section of the frigate was reserved for criminals and prisoners that were in need of medical treatment. Who could he possibly know here? Lieutenant Destora stopped in front of one of the rooms, flashing her identification credentials to the guards. Wedge did the same.
Destora motioned for Wedge to enter. Nervously he looked from her to the door before finally gathering up the courage to key for it to open and step inside.
The patient wasn’t in his bed. The blonde man was standing in the center of the room, staring at a cheap piece of art on the wall. The door sliding shut behind Wedge seemed to catch his attention. His gaze drifted away from the crudely painted image of a vase of flowers. Wedge suddenly realized that he really should have thought this through better.
He should have talked to Winter before leaving.
He should have let Wes and Hobbie know.
He should have figured out what to say.
Wedge stared at the man for a long while. His mind and heart were at odds with each other. While his head insisted that, yes, he wasn’t seeing things, his heart loudly proclaimed that this was some sort of sick, cruel, disgusting joke. Someone’s going to jump out of that supply cabinet, Antilles.
“Wedge …?” the man asked quietly.
Tycho was standing right in front of Wedge, clear as the twin Tatooine suns. He looked thin, ragged, and tired, but there was no mistaken identity this time. It was really him. Wedge walked forward on unsteady legs, silently looking over the Alderaanian for a moment before carefully placing his hands on Tycho’s shoulders.
His mind filled with questions. What happened? Where had he been? Was he feeling well? Why were there guards outside his room? Wedge watched as a look of relief flooded his friend’s entire being. Finally it hit him. Tycho was okay, his best friend had made it back. He was alive. Wedge desperately wanted to talk to him, to say anything but the second he tried he felt his throat and chest tighten. At that moment, Wedge did something he had not done since he was seventeen: he cried.
What began as a few stray tears quickly gave way to uncontrolled sobs. He embraced Tycho with all his strength, terrified that his friend would vanish into the unknown once again if he let go. Wedge wasn't sure how much time had passed before he realized that he wasn't going anywhere. It was then that ten months of heartache, fear, and anger were instantly replaced by overwhelming relief.
Tycho was home.