Obviously, this owes a great deal (understatement of the century candidate) to George Lucas.
No copyright infringement is intended.
Wedge knocked on the door of Leia’s quarters.
“Who is it?” she called; when he identified himself, she said, “Come in, Wedge, do.”
He entered, the door shutting again behind him. She was sitting in near-dark, the only light falling from a desk lamp over her work and leaving most of the room in shadow. Her hair was down, gathered at the nape of her neck but otherwise unconfined, very different from the no-nonsense styles she usually favored. She was wearing a dark mauve tunic, with trousers darker still, and her face was pale in the dimness. A stack of datapads lay on her desk, and a stylus was in her hand.
“Am I interrupting?” he asked, hesitating.
“No,” she shook her head, laying the stylus down on the desk. “Not at all, Wedge.”
“You’re sure?” he said. “You’re not working on something important?”
“Nothing that can’t wait,” she said. “I’m glad to have someone to talk to... what’s that you’ve got?”
He held up the bottle. “I found this,” he said, feeling almost shy. “It’s Alderaanian plum brandy. I thought I remembered your father was fond of it.”
“How did you know that?” she sounded amazed.
Wedge shrugged. “You mentioned it once.”
“And you remember?”
“It’s the sort of thing you do remember, in my line... well, my former line of business,” he said. “I can’t say I was never on Alderaan, of course, but I can’t say I ever really visited, so I don’t know if I’m out of line-”
“I don’t think you could be,” she said, taking the dusty bottle from him and looking at it with glistening eyes.
He shrugged again and continued, “I don’t know what Alderaanians do. But where I come from, we drink and talk about those we love who we’ve lost.”
She looked up at him quickly, a flashing, dark glance that as quickly returned to the bottle of brandy.
“I liked your father,” he added, awkwardly. “I know he didn’t care much for me-”
“He liked you more than he let on,” she said, and then, “We do that too, on Alderaan; we might not be so willing to admit it, but we do.” She glanced around. “I don’t think I have any glasses..”
Wedge produced them from behind his back, and she smiled at him. “Are you always prepared?” she asked.
“Be prepared,” Wedge said, setting the glasses down and taking the bottle from her to wrestle the stopper out. “That’s one of Nix’s four minor rules for success.”
“Nix?” she asked.
“A lawyer,” Wedge said, “from Coronet, oh, I don’t know how many centuries ago. Well before the Diktat. He might even be just a legend. His five rules have been taken up by most Corellians, though, no matter what they do for a living... including smugglers, yes.”
“What are the others?” she asked.
“Be prepared, be sharp, be careful, and use words well. But you can forget all those unless you remember the first one: Get paid.” Wedge quoted as he poured.
She laughed. He couldn’t remember how many days it had been since he’d heard that. He handed her one of the glasses and took the other. “My father,” she said, holding up the glass. “Bail Organa, and my world, his world, Alderaan...”
“The prince and his people,” said Wedge, and drained his glass. Bail Organa’s favorite drink ran through him like fire, sharp compared to the silk of Montyrn. He refilled both glasses, but she only sipped hers reflectively, not speaking. After a moment’s silence had passed, he ventured, “I said, earlier, that I was sorry about your father. I am, more than I have words,” he said.
She shook her head. “I know, Wedge. But he was just one of billions ... I have to think of the whole world, and those who are left-”
“All the rest of us,” he said, “everyone who knew any one person on Alderaan, mourn them, mourn the whole planet in that one person. You Alderaanians, you’re expecting yourselves to believe something too monstrous to be believable. How can you ...” he paused, and then finished. “I don’t mean to tell you how to feel, but, Leia, you lost your world, your family, the place you grew up, and thought you’d grow old, in.”
“So did you,” she said softly.
“Mine was a lot smaller,” he said, “but, yes, I did. It hurts. I know it hurts. I know you hurt.”
“I can’t just think about him, Wedge,” she protested. “I have to look ahead, I have to-”
“Be the princess?”
“And the daughter?” he asked quietly. “The orphan? When does she get to mourn?”
Leia shook her head, her eyes bright with unshed tears. “She doesn’t,” she said. “She has to defer to the princess. She has to think about all the other orphans, and about the war, and about-”
He shook his own head and reached out and rested his hand on her arm. “He was your father, Leia,” he said softly, “he was your whole family.” Her free hand came up to cover his. “Of course you’re entitled to mourn him, by himself, a loss maybe not worse but certainly as bad, as ... as profound. I don’t know how many people lived on Alderaan, but you didn’t know more’n a handful, comparatively. It’s too big to be real; we all feel like that. But your father-”
Her hand convulsed on his.
“Maybe in public,” Wedge said softly, “the princess has to be in the front. But this isn’t public, Leia, this is just me, just a scruffy ex-merc snub jockey, but one who’s an orphan himself, and who knew your father, and respected his courage and resolution, and was proud to have earned his trust. It’s just Wedge, Leia, and I know, and I’ve got a shoulder for you if you want it-”
“I keep thinking,” she began, and he fell silent immediately. “It has to be a trick, somehow. Something Vader and Tarkin just did, just to fool me. They can’t be gone, Wedge. He can’t really be dead. Not just because they could, Wedge. Not for that, not all of them. And I keep coming back to it, that it is real, that it did happen, and I keep thinking of him, of Father... and I feel so guilty about it. So many people... and then I catch myself thinking, I’ll never see the Ashuran Forest again, or the Summer House is gone!, and I can’t believe I’m so selfish-”
She was crying now, and Wedge put down the nearly empty glass and took hers away. When he reached for her, she came into his arms and clutched him, sobbing. “Leia, sweetheart,” he said, holding her close, “you’re no Jedi priest, to master your emotions so, nor a moff or admiral, to put worlds ahead of family and the abstract before the known. Leia, of course you miss what you remember, and who you loved, more than what you don’t, or didn’t. It’s human. It’s probably sentient. It’s the way we’re made...”
“I miss him so much,” she said into his shoulder. “The last time I was home, we barely spoke, we were both so busy, I hardly saw him, I didn’t even tell him I loved him-”
“He knew, sweetheart, he knew,” Wedge said soothingly. “He always knew, you know he knew. That’s all right, that’s all right...”
She wept against him without words. He let her, bracing himself against the desk, taking her weight, stroking her neck with one hand while he simply held her with the other. He’d been taken by surprise, not by the emotion, but by the sudden breaking of what had to have been a strong wall. He’d never given much thought to how hard it must have been for Leia just to get through a day even before Yavin. Princess, Senator, Rebel, wearing a dozen masks and playing twice a dozen roles: who had she had to be herself with? Could she even have shown her father the weight she was carrying? Wedge remembered Bail, intelligent and certainly fond of his daughter, but frail with age and worn to the bone himself. No, Leia wouldn’t have added to his burdens; she’d have taken away as much as she could.
The same way she’d taken on his burdens, Wedge thought. Listening to his troubles, interceding with the Rebels for an untried pilot not even old enough to vote on her homeworld. Barely legal on mine, for that matter, uncultured though it is. Well, her Force had gotten rid of some of her burdens, even if at a terrible cost, and he could put a stop to that one. And something else he could do. He could be the one she could be Leia with. She needed that.
Even as he decided that, she pushed away from him, wiping her face. “I’m sorry, Wedge,” she said, “I didn’t mean to-”
“I did,” he said. “Why do you think I brought the brandy? You needed a push.”
She smiled at him, a little blearily it was true, but a smile anyway. “I should know better than to drink with a Corellian.”
“You call this drinking? We haven’t even started yet,” he said. “You can’t leave a bottle like this with anything left in it.” He handed her her glass and raised his. “Bail Organa: he not only let me take his daughter into danger, he let me do it in an Organian yacht.”
She laughed and drank.
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