SHAD: Part 3
Rating: NC-17 / Slash
(This section Rating: R / Slash)
Gillian F. Taylor
Shad gazed at the holocube he was holding. It was set to cycle slowly through a series of still holos, each image fading out to be replaced by the next. He saw himself in several pictures, but not a self he knew. The man in the holos, usually wearing a garish orange flight suit, looked confident, relaxed, self-possessed. Most of the pictures were of celebrations, formal and informal. Here was Wedge Antilles, with his friends and comrades, at the moments important enough for him to keep these holos as reminders. Yet Shad felt as though he was looking at the life of a stranger.
Medical tests had initially confirmed that Shad was indeed this Wedge Antilles, then the New Republic's techs had gone through Moff Raworth's files and had found the records of his interrogation and breakdown. It seemed that everything that Moff Raworth had told him had been a lie. It was possible that these people were the liars, but Shad found it unlikely. Moff Raworth had kept him locked away, out of touch with the galaxy, and had, Shad reluctantly admitted to himself, taken advantage of him in every way possible. It hurt to know how his trust had been abused.
The New Republic people treated him in quite a different way. They'd brought him here to Crieffs Base and given him quarters near the psychiatric medcentre. He was free to go almost anywhere he liked on the base; he could visit the bar, the canteen, the gym and spa, the simulator room, the rec room or even the hangars. His workstation had full holonet access and he could watch any channels he liked on the holoproj. Wedge Antilles' belongings had been given to him, and although nothing jogged his memory, it was clear that the clothes, datachips, washkit, holos and other memorabilia represented a real person. Shad had gazed at the medals in awe, wondering what kind of person he'd been.
His musings were interrupted by a knock on his door. Shad started, then put the holocube on his desk and went to answer the door. It slid briskly aside to reveal a dark-haired man, no taller than himself but broader in the shoulders. The stranger's youthful face lit up in a bright smile.
"Wedge! Am I glad to see you again!"
The stranger swept him into a backslapping hug before Shad had time to realize what was happening. Shad panicked for a moment, his body tensing, then his brain caught up with his reflexes. This man was in many of the holos stored on the cube: this was one of his friends. Shad managed to relax just before the stranger released him. The newcomer stepped back, disappointment clear on his face as he looked at Shad.
"Wedge? You don't remember me? I thought I was unforgettable," he added, forcing a smile.
"It's J ... Janson, isn't it?" Shad shook his head as Janson started to smile again. "I'm sorry. I don't remember you; I don't remember knowing you. But I've got holos, Wedge's holos, and I've been told who the people in them are."
"Oh." Janson seemed to be at a loss.
Shad felt embarrassed, sorry to have disappointed someone who seemed to care about him. He moved back and gestured into the room.
"Please, come in."
"Thanks." Janson paused, and smiled. "I've got a better idea. There's got to be a bar round here somewhere. Let's go have a drink while we talk."
"Okay." Shad's stomach had tensed up, but he knew that this was something he needed to do.
As they walked through the residential block, Janson told him that he'd just arrived on Crieffs, being on leave from his work training new pilots.
"Me and Hobbie were so relieved when we were told that you'd been found. First you went missing, then Tycho went off on some secret mission, and we still don't know where he is. We needed some good news, and Kapp finding you was it. Of course we wanted to come and see you as soon as possible, and luckily the doctors think it's a good idea for you to meet people you used to know. General Salm said he could only spare one of us at a time though, so Hobbie and I tossed a cred for it." Janson grinned. "Someday, Hobbie will learn better than to let me be the one tossing the cred."
Shad couldn't help but smile at Janson's mischievous grin. He identified the names 'Hobbie' and 'Tycho' with faces in the holos he'd been looking at, but he had no sense of the people who had those names.
Janson continued talking as they walked, amusing Shad with stories of his escapades with the new pilots, and of life on Folor Base. As they left the residential block, and headed across to the social centre, Shad laughed less, his attention wandering as his pace slowed. Janson halted, studied him for a moment, and quietly asked.
Shad managed a faint smile. "When I was with Moff Raworth, I was confined just to his quarters and mine. Not being able to remember anything before arriving there, not even knowing what the rest of the building was like, that was frightening. I felt safe in our rooms. The longer I stayed in there, the more frightened I was of what lay outside. It was all unknown." He paused and took a slow breath to calm himself. "I'm still getting used to coping with the outside world again."
Janson looked sympathetic. "You feel vulnerable away from your room here?"
"We could go back there if you like?" Janson suggested.
"No. I can't get into the habit of avoiding everything that worries me. I'm all right once I've been to a place a few times. It's just that first step of entering the unknown."
"This is going to take some getting used to," Janson remarked. "You are Wedge, but you're not. Wedge was ... is ... pretty self-reliant and confident. I've seen him, you, give a briefing to a roomful of pilots then lead them into battle. Which you're not capable of doing at the moment. But the way you just spoke about facing up to your fear, that sounded like the Wedge I know ... knew. Blast it! I don't even know what tense to use, you walking paradox!"
Shad couldn't help laughing at Janson's indignant expression. "For the time being, call me Shad. You knew Wedge before, you know Shad now."
"I can make you laugh, whoever you are." Janson's expression was half proud, half indignant. He became more serious. "Sometimes I might forget who I'm talking to. If I say something like 'But don't you remember when..?', it's because I'm stupid, not because I'm trying to hurt or offend you."
Shad nodded. "I'll remember. There's nothing wrong with my short-term memory."
Janson grinned, and flung his around Shad's shoulder. "Let's go get those drinks."
At this time of the afternoon, the bar was quiet. With Janson's cheerful company, Shad found it less intimidating than he would have if he'd ventured here on his own. As they settled in a booth near the window, a serving droid appeared. It was a rather curious-looking object, apparently cobbled together from a collection of spare parts, and most of those well-used. The main body was an R2 unit painted yellow and black, with a tray attached to the top of its head, and a vocalizer unit welded to the barrel.
"Preferred drinks, gentlebeings?" Its voice was blatantly mechanical.
"My treat," Janson declared. "Lum for me and Corellian whiskey ... wait." He turned to Shad. "I'm sorry; I was ordering what Wedge likes."
"Whiskey sounds fine," Shad told him.
"Corellian whiskey, Whyren's Reserve if you've got it," Janson told the droid.
"Order accepted," it intoned, and whirred away.
Shad frowned. "Isn't Whyren's Reserve expensive?"
Janson put on an exasperated expression. "You never were a cheap date."
The phrase reminded Shad of one of the questions that had been haunting him. Did Wedge Antilles prefer men or women? Did Moff Raworth turn me into something I'm not? I'm sure Janson will know about Wedge. He cleared his throat.
"Um, speaking of dates, was I seeing anyone when I was captured?"
Janson shook his head. "You split up with Reina, Reina Falour, a month or so before you went off on your PR tour."
That sounds like a woman's name. "What happened?" Shad asked.
"Well, she's a gorgeous woman, and you two certainly had the hots for one another. Not that you're the sort to tell tales, but you always had a big grin on your face the morning after a date. Anyway, Reina has a wonderful figure, but she's rather too obsessed with keeping it that way," Janson confided, leaning over the table. "She always skipped lunch to exercise, and her idea of a date was to go swimming, or to the gym or for a run. Evenings, she liked to go out and socialize, preferably dancing. You'd be tired and stressed, wanting a quiet night in together, and she'd want to go out dancing. You took her out to a nice restaurant once, and she fussed about the salad dressing and the sauce and wouldn't eat a dessert. It lasted about three months before you'd had enough."
"I see. Thanks."
The droid returned with their drinks. Shad took his glass, as Janson swiped his credcard through the droid's payslot, and slowly inhaled the warm, woody scent of the whiskey. Taking a sip, he savoured the taste before swallowing. Catching Janson's eyes, he said.
"Some things haven't changed. I like this, thank you."
Janson lifted his own glass in a salute, which Shad returned. After taking another drink, Shad leaned back in his seat. He realized that he was enjoying Janson's company.
"Thank you for coming to visit me," he said.
"You'd have done the same," Janson replied.
Shad believed him. For the first time, he began to get a real sense of what he'd lost when he'd lost his identity as Wedge Antilles. Not just a name and a rank and medals, but friendship and loyalty. A sense of belonging somewhere. Shad became aware that Janson was watching him, and raised a smile.
"You look better than I expected," Janson remarked. "Healthier, I mean."
"The Imps looked after me physically, at least," Shad replied.
Janson nodded. "I'm going to risk being rude and ask what the doctors are doing to help you."
Shad took another sip of his whiskey. "I'm under the care of one of the psychiatrists here, Dr Jansz. She explained to me about dissociative amnesia, how it's a defence mechanism. I used it to escape the interrogation, and to protect the knowledge they wanted from me, by blocking it off. Dr Jansz has also been helping me cope with things like being scared of new people and places."
"What about the amnesia though? Can they cure it? Will it cure itself?"
"Dr Jansz says that being back in something like my old life will help," Shad explained. "I've got my old clothes, holos and so on; I've been studying the rebellion and learning about my past life. And meeting an old friend," he added, smiling.
"Old! I'm a year younger than you," Janson said indignantly.
Shad gave him a patient look. "Hopefully something will start to bring the memories back."
Janson looked thoughtfully at his glass of lum. "And if it doesn't?"
"Then Dr Jansz is going to try hypnotherapy. Apparently that's often successful in helping with dissociative amnesia."
"You're very difficult to hypnotize, Wedge ... Shad," Janson said. "There was a woman in Rogue Squadron, Lilia Torin, who used to hypnotize volunteers as a sort of party trick. She tried on you a couple of times, but you wouldn't go under. Still, a professional should have a much better chance," he added confidently.
"Maybe Shad's easier to hypnotise than Wedge," Shad commented.
Janson nodded. "That could be." He took another mouthful of lum and gazed around the bar. "It's good to have some unexpected leave. So, Shad; what's there to do round here?"
* * * * *
The three days of Janson's leave were spent exploring the base together. With Janson as company, Shad visited new places and found his self-confidence increasing. Janson treated everything as an adventure, looking for fun in new situations and laughing at their minor misfortunes. His attitude was infectious and Shad gradually became less self-conscious, and relaxed more. Shad was sorry when Janson's leave ended and the pilot had to return to duty.
The visit was on his mind the next day during his appointment with Dr Jansz.
"You were smiling when you arrived today," Dr Jansz commented. "I haven't seen you smiling much before. Tell me about Lt. Janson's visit."
Shad talked about the visit while Dr Jansz listened carefully. Her ability to really concentrate on her patients was one of the things Shad liked about his doctor. It was as reassuring as her plump figure and motherly air. She was dark-skinned and all comfortable curves from her round cheeks to her soft fingers. When he'd finished talking, she asked.
"Do you feel you learned more about who you were - about yourself as Wedge?"
Shad nodded slowly. "Janson told me a lot about what I'd done, what I liked to eat, that kind of thing." As he paused, she smiled encouragingly. "There was the way he talked about Wedge too. Janson really cared about him. And I think he respected him a lot too," Shad went on. "Just things he said now and again, like saying that General Crespin didn't know half as much about starfighter tactics as Wedge did, and how he and Hobbie like to use sims based on missions Wedge commanded for their trainees."
"How do you feel about that?" Dr Jansz asked.
Shad knotted his hands together. "It's strange to think of people looking up to me, respecting me. Wedge earned all of it, the rank, the medals. It's hard to believe he could break down and turn into me."
"It happened under extreme circumstances," Dr Jansz reminded him gently. "And in a way, you were still doing your duty. The amnesia protected the knowledge that the Imperials wanted from you. And 'Shad' may be a stronger character than you realize. Moff Raworth took advantage of your impressionable state to dominate you."
To dominate me, and twist me, Shad thought. He looked away from his doctor, staring at a holo of a waterfall instead. "I learned something else from Janson," he said quietly. "Wedge Antilles was heterosexual."
He didn't need to explain more. The New Republic techs had found Moff Raworth's recordings of his sexual activities with his body servant. Shad had been told about them, and knew that Dr Jansz had been given access to them.
"What about Shad?" the doctor asked. "You're free to choose your sexuality now you're away from the moff; do you know which gender you prefer?"
Shad shook his head, his gaze still fixed on the holo.
"Do you believe that homosexual relationships are wrong?"
"No," he answered. "I mean, not for people who are ... that way, who always have been. But Wedge isn't that way."
"Sexuality often isn't as fixed as many people think," Dr Jansz said. "Many individuals experiment for a while, or like something different now and again. Others are truly bisexual. Some fantasize but never take it any further. Janson may believe Wedge to be firmly heterosexual, but that doesn't make it true."
Shad frowned. "But how will Wedge's friends act if they know about me and Moff Raworth? They may not care what the moff did with other men, but Wedge? They respect him so much; they don't expect him to be letting an Imperial moff fuck him!"
"It was beyond your control, Shad," the doctor said gently. She leaned closer and put her hand over his. "You were manipulated by the moff when you were vulnerable. He abused you. No one can blame you for that."
Shad knew that Dr Jansz was right, that the moff had taken advantage of his ignorance about himself. But it's not that simple. I believed the moff when he said we'd slept together before, because I didn't remember otherwise. I had no reason not to believe him. But that doesn't explain why my body responded to him. Why I got hard when he stroked me. The times I begged him to make me come.
Wedge would hate to know what he became when he was Shad.
Shad couldn't find a way of expressing those thoughts to Dr Jansz, so he sat in a miserable silence.
Dr Jansz spoke again. "Don't forget that none of Wedge's friends know about what happened between Shad and Moff Raworth, unless you choose to tell them. The official story is that you were held prisoner at his residence. A few, like Lt. Janson, know that he made you his servant. Those in the New Republic who know the full truth will never divulge it, and Moff Raworth was killed in the assault, so he can't tell. You're worrying unnecessarily, Shad."
Shad wished he could believe her, but he didn't believe that any secret would remain so for ever. Sooner or later Janson, and Wedge's other friends, will find out what Moff Raworth turned their friend into. Their faith in him would be shattered. Shad was weak and na´ve; people feel sorry for what happened to him. Wedge Antilles is a hero, strong, brave. Heroes don't behave like Shad did.
Shad wished he didn't feel as though he'd betrayed Wedge Antilles.
* * * * *
Janson's brief visit and departure made Shad all too aware of how empty his life was. He had no friends on the base and nothing specific to do with his time. He didn't care much for working out in the gym - it reminded him too much of the training he did to please the moff. Instead, he spent time in the swimming pool. The downside to swimming was that he didn't know whether he preferred looking at the women in their swimsuits, or the men. He admitted as much to Dr Jansz, adding that he still felt as though he was drifting aimlessly, now he didn't have Moff Raworth making his decisions for him.
Dr Jansz suggested a part-time job, somewhere on Crieffs Base. Even the process of choosing something, and working out what skills he had to offer, gave Shad some sense of purpose. He found himself attracted to the vehicle hangars; the smell of the lubricants and fuel, and the whine of repulsor engines was somehow familiar and comforting. After proving his mechanical abilities, Shad began helping out as a vehicle technician.
While he was working, he was able to forget that he'd once been called Wedge Antilles. When Shad was concentrating on stripping out components, he wasn't feeling guilty for letting Moff Raworth seduce him. Although the chief technician knew about his past, the other techs accepted him simply as Shad. As the days passed, he settled into his new identity as a vehicle tech. The holocube with pictures of Wedge's life was switched off; Wedge's flightsuit, helmet and medals were hidden at the back of his closet.
Even while he felt himself developing as Shad, he wasn't allowed to completely forget that he was also Wedge. He visited Dr Jansz every week, and he had to cope with the visitors who came to see Wedge. The first was Mirax Terrik. She was delighted to see him, and Shad tried to respond to her enthusiasm. Mirax had brought more family and childhood holos but Shad only saw strangers. As she talked about their past, Shad grew more uncomfortable. He liked Mirax, he liked her straightforward nature and her warmth, but he didn't want to hear about Wedge's family and childhood. Mirax was too smart for him to fool. Sorrow gradually replaced the sparkle in her brown eyes as she looked at him. Shad felt relieved, but guilty when she said she had to leave. As she said her farewell, Shad hugged her and whispered.
Mirax blinked back tears and caressed his face. "I'm sorry too. You're a nice person, Shad, but you're not my big brother. I ..." She gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, and hurried away.
A few days after Mirax's visit, Hobbie Klivian arrived on leave. Again, Shad was greeted with a warmth and enthusiasm he couldn't respond to. He tried to distract Hobbie by visiting bars and asking about Hobbie's activities. Every time Hobbie started to talk about Wedge, Shad did his best to change the subject. Hobbie was disappointed and Shad grew irritable. Eventually, he lost his temper and snapped.
"I'm not Wedge; I'm Shad!"
The hurt expression on Hobbie's mournful face haunted him for days.
* * * * *
The change in climate would have told Princess Leia where she was even if she'd been blind and deaf. Most of the base was kept at the warm, dry conditions that humans and most mammalian species preferred, but the air in Admiral Ackbar's office was cooler and humid. In spite of the conditions, Leia liked Ackbar's office, decorated in calming blues and greens, and with bright fish swimming in a globe of water that hung in mid-air between two repulsors. She also liked and admired the Mon Calamari admiral who was sitting behind the curved desk.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything urgent," Leia said, seeing his display screen lit up. "I was hoping you could spare a few minutes to discuss the Coruscant agenda."
Ackbar opened his mouth in a Mon Cal smile, and gestured to a seat.
"You timing is fortuitous, Councillor," he said, in his gravely voice. "I will be pleased to discuss Coruscant, but I have just received a report that I know you will be interested in." He turned his display so that Leia could see it too. "It is the latest report from Dr Jansz concerning Commander Antilles."
"Wedge! Oh, yes, I want to know how he is."
Ackbar pressed a button and Dr Jansz's report started.
As she watched the holo-recording, Leia's sense of optimism faded. Wedge seemed no closer to recovering his memory, in spite of the visits from his friends. Dr Jansz's concern was clear, even through her professional tone.
"I felt it was time to try hypnotherapy, which can often be of value in treating cases of dissociative amnesia. Under hypnosis, the patient has access to memories which are not available to the conscious mind," Dr Jansz explained. "The first attempts at hypnotising Commander Antilles failed; approximately one in ten of the human population cannot be hypnotised. I suggested that in the next session, a drug be used to make the Commander more susceptible to hypnotic influence. He agreed, but he was evidently somewhat reluctant to make the attempt.
At the second session, I gave Commander Antilles a dose of egohexadride, which affects the conscious will and makes the patient more suggestible. I then attempted a standard hypnosis. Unfortunately, this proved even less successful than before. Commander Antilles was evidently apprehensive about the hypnosis, and the egohexadride inhibited his ability to control his anxiety. I believe that the situation unconsciously reminded him of his interrogation, with a drug being used to enable one person to exert their will over his. He became distressed, and I was forced to stop the attempt at hypnosis, and administered a mild sedative.
Hypnotherapy is clearly an unsuitable technique in this case. Even if Commander Antilles were willing to try again, I feel there is an unacceptable level of risk to his mental status. The 'Shad' personality is currently quite stable and capable of functioning normally within society. As the hypnotherapy essentially recreated the conditions which lead to the amnesia, further attempts could damage the 'Shad' personality."
Here, Dr Jansz paused, gathering her thoughts for the next part of the report.
"The conventional methods of treating dissociative amnesia have thus been ineffective in Commander Antilles' case. I believe that, consciously or otherwise, the failure is due to resistance on the part of Commander Antilles himself.
As 'Shad', he has developed an idealized image of 'Wedge Antilles'. Shad believes himself to be a weaker, less charismatic character, and fears that if he returns to being Wedge, then some part of the Shad persona will adversely affect the Wedge persona. Shad also cannot reconcile the image of the strong Wedge character with his knowledge of the person who was mentally and sexually dominated by Moff Raworth. In addition, Shad remains confused about his sexuality. There is no doubt that he gained pleasure from homosexual activities, but the fact that he was tricked into believing himself homosexual has left him uncertain about himself. He does, however, believe that Wedge Antilles is not homosexually inclined and this is another source of internal conflict.
My recommendations at this point are to continue therapy sessions with Commander Antilles but with a different approach. I believe that to continue to push for memory recovery at this stage would be detrimental. The internal conflicts must be resolved first. At present, Shad's insecurities are causing him to protect Wedge by continuing to block him off, just as he was blocked off to protect him from the interrogation. I need to work with Shad to resolve his insecurities. Only then will he take the risk of releasing his memories and exposing Wedge to the trauma of learning about his breakdown and his time as Shad."
Dr Jansz paused again here, leaving time for her listeners to absorb what she'd just said. In spite of her technical, formal language, the warmth in her eyes reassured Leia that she cared about the subject of her report. Wedge wasn't just a patient to Dr Jansz, but a confused and anxious person she was trying to help.
"It's difficult to estimate a timeframe for Commander Antilles' recovery. His experiences with Moff Raworth have made him suspicious of any attempt to influence his behaviour and beliefs, even when he knows the motives are good. It will take time to build up his trust in me, so he becomes receptive to my help and is willing to participate fully in psychotherapy. There's no way this process can be hurried.
It is unlikely that Commander Antilles will be fit for active service in less than six months. A full recovery could well take longer. I expect that he will recover his memory in time, but there is always the possibility that his experiences may make him unsuitable for combat duty. Careful assessment will be necessary."
Dr Jansz finished her report, and Admiral Ackbar switched off the display.
There was a silence, until Leia sighed. Ackbar rolled one eye in her direction.
"I, too, was hoping for better news," he said. "Every time I ordered Commander Antilles into battle, I was prepared for the fact that he might not survive. I have been prepared to mourn the loss of a good man, someone I admire very much. When he disappeared, I knew it was likely that the next news we would have of him, would be of his execution. I was ready to accept his death, but not for this kind of loss."
Leia blinked back sudden tears at the admiral's words. "I know what you mean," she answered. "It's painful knowing that Wedge is alive, but so ... damaged. If he's dead, he's dead; we learn to accept that and move on. But seeing him so hurt, and not knowing if or when he'll recover." She shook her head.
"He'll have the best medical care the New Republic has," Ackbar said.
"It's the least Wedge deserves," Leia said fiercely. "He's given so much over the years. We wouldn't be able to provide the kind of support he needs now if it wasn't for him and all those he's led and inspired."
Ackbar nodded slowly, copying the human gesture. "I sincerely hope that one day Wedge will be fit to return to command. I regret his incapacity at a personal level, but even more so as his commanding officer. We are still at the early stages of planning our move on Coruscant, but I wish I knew whether Commander Antilles would be available as part of my forces."
"From what Dr Jansz says, it would seem better to assume Wedge won't be fit to fight," Leia said, leaning back in her chair. "And with Tycho Celchu still missing, I don't know who we'd have to lead a re-formed Rogue Squadron." She sighed, and gazed across the office to the globe of water. "I had thought I might take a brief vacation and go visit Wedge, but it probably wouldn't help. I just wish there was some way to help him."
"I think we must put our trust in the specialists, like Dr Jansz," Ackbar replied. "She will find the right approach."
"She'll do as much as anyone can," Leia agreed. "If only she could reach into his mind and heal it like a surgeon can heal a damaged body." She paused, frowning, then her expression suddenly cleared. "Luke! Luke might be able to reach Wedge and bring him back."
"Through the Force, you mean?" Ackbar asked.
"Yes! There are some Jedi techniques for reading memories and he knows Wedge well." Leia was sitting bolt upright on the edge of her chair.
Ackbar was more cautious. "Luke may be able to help in ways that Dr Jansz can't, but there could be a risk to Commander Antilles. Your brother is not a trained psychologist. He could unintentionally make things worse, as Dr Jansz nearly did with the hypnotherapy."
Leia considered this. "Then we'll consult Dr Jansz. Luke can talk to her and take her advice on how to proceed."
Ackbar nodded. "I, too, am anxious to see Wedge well again. If Luke thinks he can help, I am willing for him to do so."
Leia smiled, a true, bright smile. "I'll find Luke and get him to Wedge as soon as possible," she promised.
To Part II | To Part III
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