For Better and For Worse Rating: PG-13
"This is great, Wedge," Luke was slurring his words, giggling as he quaffed the whiskey-enhanced lomin he was drinking a bit too quickly. It was his favorite drink, a combination that Luke's brother-in-law had taught the boy from Tatooine. Han Solo, who was married to Luke's sister, was the older brother Luke had always wanted; he had grown up as an only child and was so grateful to have someone like Han in his life. But tonight, Luke was showing the drink to someone else. "It's been ages since it's been just you and me, just shootin' the breeze!"
Wedge Antilles had been Luke's wingman when they first met -- many, many years before on Yavin IV -- and that relationship between them had always remained the same. The two were good, fast friends -- not the same type of relationship as the one between Luke and Han -- but full of respect and fondness, nonetheless. Though Luke had been Wedge's commander in the past, the younger man had aspired and was now a commander and General himself. Not bad for a man with no formal education after middle school. "No breeze in space!" Wedge giggled back, feeling comfortable in his silliness with the Jedi.
It was late, and the Ithorian bartender ignored them as he tidied up around them. A lot of military heroes came through this little tapcaf located near the old starfighter base, and he wasn't starry-eyed about any of them. As long as they didn't mess up the place and paid their tabs in full on demand, he treated them like he'd treat anyone else. Which is what the heroes of the New Republic loved about this place.
"I can't believe you're finally getting married, Luke ... I was losing faith!" Wedge slapped his friend on the back. "You have this habit of killing off the women you intend to -- oh! I didn't mean that. I didn't ..."
Luke waved a lomin mug at his wingman's face, "No problem, I swear. Not a problem. Tell ya the truth, Wedge ... I was losing faith, too. I mean, the best kiss I'd ever had till now was with my sist-- oop, I did NOT mean that ..."
"You kissed your sister, too???" Wedge stared at Luke, incredulous.
Luke was confused, "YOU kissed Leia, too??"
Wedge shook his head vigorously, "Never! How long do you think a guy of my size would've lasted against Solo and the wookiee? Ha!"
Luke tried thinking before speaking this time. He furrowed his brow trying to make sense of what Wedge was implying. "You kissed your sister? Wedge, you haven't seen Syal in ... you said since you were a kid! You don't have a sister you could've kissed like I kis--"
"Yes, I do! She's as real to me as Leia is to you, maybe even more so." Wedge took a long draught of his lomin, winking at Luke over the top of this stein. "At least I always knew she was my sister, we grew up together, not like you and Leia."
Luke laughed, "Hey, what do I know about siblings, eh? I'm an orphan after all, a leatherneck from an outer rim planet! For all I know it's normal or something."
Wedge hiccuped into his lomin, "Not that I know of, or at least not to talk about, heehee!"
"Heeheehee!" Luke giggled along, "So if it wasn't Syal, who was it?"
Wedge winked again, "Guess!"
"Um ..." Luke's mind wasn't behaving properly, but it didn't seem to be slow. It did move around in unexpected ways and kept circling back to the same woman. "N... No... No! It couldn't be ... Mirax?? And she didn't punch your teeth out???" Luke moved his fingers toward Wedge to poke at the younger man's teeth.
Wedge swatted Luke's hand away, "Do you still have all yours after you kissed the Princess? Yes! Mirax! Who else could be a woman I'd consider my sister!"
Luke looked at Wedge with an unexpected reverence, "Wow ... you kissed Booster's daughter!"
Wedge looked back at Luke, "Oooh, don't say it like that! Makes me sound like some kind of perve-- Hey, I just realized hahaha! ... you kissed Her Highness! Han Solo's wife!"
"Hey! She wasn't Han's wife at the time! And I didn't even know she was my sister! And SHE kissed ME!" Through the alcoholic fog in his head, Luke was beginning to realize how terrible this was sounding. How had they gotten onto this topic?
Wedge was enjoying ribbing his friend, and chanted over and over, "Sister-kisser! Sister-kisser!"
"You!" Luke rallied back, rather defensively, "You kissed Mirax and you actually considered her your sister at the time! You are a cad! What kind of dysfunctional perv--"
"You wanna hear about it, or should we be adults and pay the tab now and go home and pretend this discussio never happened?" Wedge was feeling rather merry and wasn't ready to go home.
"Oh yeah, was she good?" Luke leaned forward eagerly.
"Mmm ... yeah ... better than anyone ..."
* * * * *
Do you remember (narrated Wedge, as Luke sat attentively and sipped his fortified ale) when Tycho and Winter were getting married? You remember they decided they couldn't deal with Leia and the House of Organa's planning and all? It was a crazy time, even though everyone in Tycho's family was dead -- they were killed on Alderaan, remember? But he's from a good family, and Winter is semi-royalty after all, so it was a big blow-out. They decided it was all too much, enough was enough, and they decided to elope.
I got a com-hail from Tycho, telling me to meet him at the Coruscant Government Hall, at the Bureau of Marriages. I offered to take command of a ship and do the service for them, but he and Winter wouldn't hear of it; they didn't want me officially on-record as the officiant, in case Leia got wind of the surreptitious wedding. Tycho told me they were doing this for themselves, and would I be his witness? Well, was I going to say no to Tycho Celchu? That's like telling you no, you know?!
Anyway, it was going to be a quick ceremony, and Tych asked me not to tell Iella; she's high up in Intelligence and he and Winter didn't want the story to leak in that direction. That was okay because Iella was pregnant with our second child and in a really bad way with morning sickness, etc. so it was just as well she wasn't invited. The way she was feeling, she would have been pretty grumpy anyway. Besides, the ceremony would be over before she even noticed I was somewhere I shouldn't have been, so there was no need to let her even know she wasn't invited. So it was a no-brainer, I promised Tycho that I wouldn't tell my wife about the elopement.
I got there a bit earlier than Tycho and Winter, so I was just standing in the lobby staring at the ceiling when Mirax poked me in the ribs. "You're here as witness #2, I assume?" I was surprised to see her there; I didn't realize she and Winter were that close. Mirax explained that Winter knew she could keep a secret. It made sense to me, and I felt better about being on this mission because I wouldn't be alone.
Tycho arrived a few minutes later, a bundle of nerves. He was so jumpy about having enough time to read and fill out the forms and stuff that we opted not to wait for Winter to arrive and took the lift up to the designated floor, waited in some lines and spent quite a while filling out forms and showing ID. It wasn't as crowded as it could've been, since we were really early. I remember there were some heavy thunderstorms that might've dissuaded people from coming too early in the day. Anyway, so Tycho spent less time on line than he thought he would, and he ended up filling out all the forms and submitting them before Winter could get there. In fact, we had been given the ticket to wait in line for the ceremony, and she still hadn't shown up.
Tycho was getting nervous that he and Winter would be called up to stand before the officiant soon, and kept wondering where she was? After we got tired of trying to calm him down, Mirax offered to go find Winter. Just then Tycho's comlink sounded. Winter was at the security door downstairs and there was some confusion. I guess we should have waited for her in the lobby before coming up to the office, because now they weren't going to let her in. It seems the forms Tycho has filled out implied that she was already in the building. It was a simple bureaucratic mix-up, and Mirax thought she could sort it out and got up to go downstairs. But Tycho was so worked up, he jumped up, tossed everythign at us, and bolted out of the room! We yelled to him to come back and he hollered back to keep his place in the queue -- he didn't want to lose the chance to get married that day! He did have a point -- the place was filling up and if we left the line right then, we'd have to rejoin it at the back and it would probably take hours for them to get to the head of the line again.
So there were me and Mirax with Tycho and Winter's forms and line ticket, hoping they could get around the mess at the security gate quickly. We watched the other couples go into a room marked "chapel" and not come out again. It seemed the exit to the room must be elsewhere, probably to avoid congestion in the corridor.
We noticed that the couples at the start of the line would just get up and go into the chapel room, even though no one came out to call them in. We wondered how they knew it was their turn? Anyway, Mirax and I were trying to keep calm, chatting and looking around, hoping to see Tycho and Winter appear. We were edging closer to the front of the line and we discussed if we should let the couple behind us go in ahead of us.
We talked about this upcoming wedding and how eloping like this could cause a planetload of trouble when Leia found out. Then we got to talking about our own marriages ... about how Iella and I would fight over stupid things. About how my wife being pregnant with another girl was causing some anxiety, but not because I wanted a boy -- far from it! We had agreed that if we had a boy, Iella would get to name him, and if we had a girl, I'd name her. You know that I named my first daughter for my sister, Syal. I think she was miffed that we would not be having a little Diric, you remember Iella's first husband?
Then Mirax told me that Corran was a good man, but still really very narrow-minded and stubborn about things. She hated how he'd take a stance on something he didn't really know anything about, then defend his position even in the face of overwhelming evidence of his stupidity and wrongness. Those are her words, not mine; I think Corran is great, but I could see what she meant. He's like those nexu fighting cats when he thinks he's right, but we all know that. I just hadn't realized how much it upset Mirax.
We tried assuring one another, telling each other how really very lucky we were to have found people to share the galaxy with, especially considering our upbringing. I mean, I'm an orphan, my sister was a runaway and my parents were killed by careless pirates; Mirax was basically an orphan ... no mother, and her dad a smuggler and in prison during her formative years. We had each other and had stuck together as brother and sister, our own little family unit -- Wedge and Mirax versus the big, bad universe. Honestly, we didn't have anyone else. Even after we'd grown up and we weren't always physically together, we valued our connection. It made us honestly thankful; it could have been a whole lot worse.
I admit, while we were talking about the stuff we didn't like about our spouses, my mind wandered to some of the adolescent fantasies I used to have about her ... they were white knight type of fantasies, romantic drivel. I told you, she's more a sister than my real sister ever was to me, more than any blood relative. I could never make a romantic move on her, you know? Even when my teen hormones raging and bubbling, she was my sister, for crying out loud! It would have been so wrong, so repulsive! Not to mention, Booster might have killed me if I tried anyway -- he was in prison, but he wasn't dead!
As we were talking, Mirax started looking kind of morose and started to cry. She sniffled that she'd made a mistake running off to marry Corran, following her impulses. I felt kind of bad, since I'd introduced them and I'd even performed the ceremony that bound them as husband and wife. I put my arm around her at that point -- you would have done the same to Leia if she looked that sad! Her dad had never really warmed to him, and it put her in the middle of family strife all the time. She said it was getting to her; even after Valin was born, it bothered her that she might've made a mistake. By the way, they have a similar deal to mine and Iella's, but if it's a boy, Corran names him. If a girl, she does. Valin is named for Corran's dad. I assume if she has a girl next, she'll be named for Mirax's mom. Fair's fair, after all.
With my arm around her, I kissed her on the forehead, a brotherly kiss -- I swear. Okay, I tried to make it brotherly -- but I could feel my lips burning and tingling where they'd made contact with her skin! It was a very pleasant feeling, something I hadn't felt with Iella in a long time. I probably lingered too long, but the rush was making my blood throb and I didn't trust myself to move!
Before I knew it, Mirax was looking up at me. She asked me if I loved her unconditionally, if there was anything she could ever do to make me hate her. I told her not to be silly, I'd love her no matter what -- which is what "unconditional" means, I guess. The next moment, she had her eyes locked on mine and was moving her lips toward me. Time went suddenly slower and I watched those lips ... I wanted them so badly, Luke! They were pulling me in and I'm ashamed to say I moved forward to meet her halfway ... I couldn't help myself!
Our lips touched and I closed my eyes ... I could smell her, feel her. It felt so right ...
I don't know how long we might have been at it, but that ticket Tycho had given me to hold his place -- it must've had a beckoncall signal because it suddenly vibrated and jumped out of my hand! It startled me and I broke off the kiss. Mirax saw it too and we both got up to chase it. It went into the room everyone else had gone into, and a 'droid pushed us forward before a podium. So that was how they got people into the room without calling out to them!
The administrative staff member behind the podium congratulated us. We said, "Thank you," even though we had no idea why he was congratulating us.
The rest of it was like a blur, but in slow motion -- like being trapped underwater. But it was over before we knew it; the ceremony took like 34 seconds. I barely remember saying, "Yes," when he asked if I would love her for better and for worse. It was so curious -- Mirax had just sort of asked me that question. The staff person behind the podium smiled and told me to kiss Mirax. So, I did ... I kissed her again, before the officiant.
Then we were led out of the chamber through a back door and told to wait in another line to get our official documents and to be ID'd. I remember looking around for Tycho, wondering when he'd show up, and thinking he and Winter would have trouble getting married if they didn't come soon, and at the same time thinking they'd lost their chance!
I felt Mirax put her hand in mine as we stood on that line. She twined her fingers between my fingers and squeezed lightly. We didn't look at each other or say anything ... we both seemed to be rather content to just be there together ... now that I think about it, I'm surprised at how calm I felt at the time ...
Then with only one couple in front of us in this line, Tycho and Winter arrived, finally! They were breathless, telling us they'd spent the past few minutes running around the building looking for where we'd gone! They were apologizing and thanking us and asking questions all at the same time. It was very confusing, but at that moment the clerk called their names and they quickly stepped forward. The clerk took retinal scans for both of them, digitized their hand imprints and then handed them flimsi cards and a holo certificate. He congratulated them and said that was all, they were now officially married!
Married ... they were married! Right then, I realized then that I was still holding Mirax's hand and I extricated it as subtly as I could. She was talking to Winter at the time, I think she was congratulating her or something. Mirax gave my fingertips a squeeze again, just before our hands parted.
Walking out of the building, I slapped Tycho on the back and congratulated him, but he looked kind of unsatisfied, so I asked what was bothering him? "That was even less eventful than I thought it would be," Tycho whispered to me. When I looked at him I must've looked confused and he explained, "Getting married ... I thought I'd have to say 'yes' or 'I do' or something ... like in the holos. I didn't know it was just a matter of waiting in line and getting yourself scanned!"
The impact of what Tycho had said didn't hit me hard like you might imagine it should have. Rather, it slowly oozed it's way into my brain ... and I finally understood the significance of what had just happened to me and Mirax in the chapel ...
Of course, he was wrong. You DO say 'yes' when the celebrant asks if you take this woman to be your wife ... only Tycho hadn't had the chance to say it. *I* said it, and I said it when I was asked if I'd take Mirax ... the officiant asked me if I'd take her as my wife, for better or for worse ... And even though I might not have been exactly conscious of what was going on, I meant it when I delivered my response ... Just like I meant it when I told Mirax I would love her, no matter what ... for better ... AND for worse ...
* * * * *
Luke blinked at his old friend, "But Wedge ... at the time ... you were married to Iella!"
Wedge drained his mug and gestured to the barman for another round for both him and Luke, "And Mirax was married to Corran at the time, yes. The marriage between her and me wasn't legal -- polygamy is forbidden to humans in the core worlds. So for better or for worse, we didn't have to apply for an annulment or anything. Plus, if you go to the registry office and search, it's Tycho's and Winter's names in the database -- THEY got married that day, not Wedge Antilles and Mirax Terrik."
"Oh, so you're not married to Mirax," Luke thoughtfully blew the foam from the new mug of lomin before adding the jigger of whiskey to it, "but you want to be, Wedge!"
"Yes ... yes, I do ... I mean, I did." Wedge put his lomin stein down and sighed. "I may as well admit it since I know you can figure out my feelings on the matter -- having a friend who is a Jedi is rather difficult, Luke. Do you know how difficult it's been to avoid thinking about Mirax when I'm around Corran??"
Luke giggled, "THAT, I would not want to be around for! Hear, hear!" The two men clunked their mugs together in a salute. "Oh!" Luke's mug stopped short of his lips as his eyes lit up, "That's why your second daughter -- Miri -- she's named for Mirax! You named both daughters for your 'sisters'!"
"Shhh!" Wedge made an exaggerated gesture, "That's the official line! Hey, if they'd been boys --"
"I know," Luke winked at Wedge, "you'd be daddy to Little Diric and Little Corran!"
"So it's only fair, don't you think?" At the mention of his wife's baby name preferences, Wedge knew he should not have another ale after this one, "I mean, Iella slept with Diric ... at least I ... well ..."
Eyes bulging wide, Luke laughed out loud and held up his hand, "'nuff said, sailor! Time to go home!" The Jedi tossed some credits onto the table. The Ithorian barman watched the two men walk unsteadily out of the tapcaf, hoping they would behave like two nice, normal humans at least until they left the place, and not turn into a couple of egotistical jerks like some so-called heros.
Outside, it was raining lightly. The cool, dark wetness had a slightly sobering effect on the two men. They stopped and looked up at the sky, feeling the raindrops fall softly onto their faces.
"Luke," Wedge leaned against his friend for support, his knees suddenly going all liquidy, "am I a bad person? For sort-of marrying a woman who's more my sister than my blood-sister ... promising to love her for better or for worse ... and regretting only that it can't be? For thinking these thoughts, even now ...?" A tear, disguised as a raindrop, slid down Wedge's cheek.
The Jedi giggled again, leaning back against Wedge so that they could prop each other up, "Wedge ... for better -- as well as for worse -- I think you're asking the wrong person, don't you?"
With a crooked smile, Wedge propped up the Jedi, who suddenly wove in the wrong direction to keep upright, "Yeah ... well, your turn to tell me all about it next time we get trashed, eh?"
Luke was still giggling, "I can give you a little tease now ..." His voice faded away as the two men walked homeward, "You remember on Hoth ... after I was attacked by the wampa ...?"
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