A Future to Hold
Gillian F. Taylor
Wedge Antilles pulled back the edge of the curtain and looked out over Coronet City. He was surprised to see that it was dark outside, having lost all track of time. Seeing the Sun again had been one of the best things about returning to Corellia. Not any sun, a sun he thought of by the star's astronomical name, but just 'the sun' of his native system. The Sun, Corel, was exactly the right colour in the way that no other sun could be to him. The gravity he felt now was exactly right too. This was home, at last, and would be for a few more glorious weeks.
Wedge found himself yawning, and rubbed his hand over his face, feeling the stubble on his jaw. He needed a shave, and a shower too, and sleep, though he didn't yet feel as tired as he knew he was. Letting the curtain drop back, he turned and looked across the quiet, softly-lit room to his wife's bed. Iella was asleep, the long braid of her light-brown hair snaking across the plain pillow. To Wedge, she looked more beautiful than ever, though her face still showed signs of exhaustion.
Beside the bed was a hospital crib, where their newly-born daughter also slept. Wedge padded across the room and looked down at the infant, barely three hours old. The light glinted softly on her fuzz of pale hair. She seemed so delicate and tiny that Wedge could hardly believe she existed as a separate being, and yet so large to have been within Iella's slender body just a few hours ago. As he looked at her, Wedge felt again that sense of awe that this was his daughter. The doctors had reassured him that she was fine and healthy: Wedge had held her and counted her fingers and toes himself, had heard her cry and seen her take a first, small drink from her mother. Cautiously, he reached into the crib and touched her tiny hand with one finger.
She responded, and clasped his finger with her whole hand as her eyes opened. Wedge felt a sudden rush of love for the precious child that had been gifted to him. Everything about her was so astonishing, from the dainty, perfect fingernails to the dusky blue eyes full of wonder. Her expression changed, and she began to make discontented noises. Wedge leaned over the the crib and made soothing, shushing sounds. The baby grizzled more loudly and waved her free hand about.
Wedge glanced at Iella, and was relieved to see she was still asleep. He looked back at his daughter, summoned the courage that had seen him through numerous battles, and picked her up. The first moments were close to panic, as he made the effort to recall what he'd been taught about supporting baby's head properly, then he found himself cradling her against his chest and everything seemed right. She was warm and solid and very real, looking up and trying to focus on his face. Wedge smiled and whispered her name.
She relaxed and stopped grizzling, lying trustingly in her father's arms. Wedge blinked back tears, thinking of the sister, Syal, once almost found again, but lost to the vagarities of war. Wedge had no idea whether his sister still lived, or whether she had children of her own. Did she know that he too, lived, in spite of the odds against him ? It was some seventeen years since he had chosen to join the struggling Rebellion, choosing to risk his own life in the fight to bring about a better life for the innumerable beings in the Empire. Through those years, he'd fought many enemies, for many reasons, but he'd always known in his heart that his ultimate desire was to bring about peace and security for ordinary people to lead ordinary lives without fear.
Sometimes he'd envied those unknown people, who had lives where they could fall in love and raise children surrounded by family and friends. As Rogue Leader, he wouldn't have been able to do his duty to both his pilots and to a family, so he'd chosen to use his skills where they could do the most good for the most people. He'd accepted that this would most likely lead to his death, and had been satisfied with his decision for a long time.
But he hadn't died, and Wedge had gradually become aware that something was missing from his life: his future. As a child he'd thought about his future, perhaps building up the family chain of refueling depots, or becoming an architect or an engineer. He'd put his future aside when joining the Rebellion, chosing to live in the uncertain present.
As time had passed, the gap in his life had grown larger. He'd once thought that Qwi Xux would fill that gap, but both had come to realize that they had no future together. A few weeks after their split, he'd met Iella again, had known in his heart that she was the one who would fill that gap and had refused to be turned away.
Wedge gazed at the infant he held, a life he had helped bring into being. Delicately, he stroked her soft cheek with the tip of his finger, brushing against her pink lips. Syal's mouth opened, and she reflexively sucked on his finger for a moment before falling asleep again. Wedge felt a greater sense of contentment than he'd ever known. He hoped that he would have a place in this baby's future. He wanted to see her grow up, to guide and encourage her. Wedge valued the love and support his parents had given him, and wanted to pass that on to his own child in turn.
That might not happen, though. He was a soldier, and even a general could still die in combat, like any other soldier. Wedge knew that he might not live to be part of his daughter's future, but he would make the most of every moment he had with her. After all the years of risking his life for the sake of others, he now had someone uniquely of his own he was willing to give his life for. He would, and sometimes had, endangered himself for his friends and colleagues, and would gladly step in front of a blaster bolt for Iella's sake, but Syal was different. She was his child, a part of him; a future he could hold, and see, and hear. If he should be killed in battle, he would take with him the knowledge that he had been more than just a soldier. He was a father, and even if either or both of them should die, nothing could change that fact. Wedge gazed at his daughter, rocking her gently.
He looked up to see Iella watching him, smiling softly.
"I can see the stars in your eyes," she said.
Wedge smiled back and cleared his throat.
"Syal was grizzling," he said, a little huskily. "So I picked her up and she stopped fussing." Wedge looked down at the miracle dozing in his arms. "She responded to me. She knows who her Daddy is."
Iella sighed in resignation. "That baby's going to get so spoiled."
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