The Talk: Take 2
Rating: PG

Everything belongs to Mr. Lucas, Mr. Allston, or Mr. Stackpole.


Her husband's shout echoed in the small apartment. Iella calmly set down the towel she had been folding and slipped her hand into the top drawer of the dresser. The cold weight of the small blaster felt comforting in her hand as she crept down the hall to answer her husband's panicked shout.

He sat on the couch, face pale and bloodless. Iella's gaze darted about the room but she could see no threat. "Wedge, what's wrong?"


Fear's icy fingers clutched Iella's heart. "Is she ...?"

Her husband turned to meet her frightened gaze. His brown eyes, eyes that had seen the terrifying moon-sized Death Stars and so many other horrific sights, were wide with fear. Hands that had guided his X-Wing into hundreds of battles shook. "She ..." His voice cracked. Licking his lips, he cleared his throat and continued. "She's going on a date. With Valin Horn."

Relief flooded Iella, followed closely by anger at her husband for scaring her. "Yes, you knew that weeks ago. She just left; I heard her yell 'Goodbye'."

Wedge's shaken posture didn't relax. "Our little girl is on a date."

Iella rolled her eyes. "Yes, she's perfectly old enough to date."

"But ... I know, and I gave her the blasters like we discussed and I know she can take care of herself but ..."

"But what?"

"Wes Janson."

Iella's hand went to her temples, massaging them slowly. "What does Janson have to do with Syal going on a date?"

"Wes ... you know ... and Valin and women and Syal's my little girl!"

Even after years of Intel training, Iella couldn't decipher her husband's incoherent babble, but she could guess the underlying cause for concern. "Wedge, you're going to have to trust her. You and I gave her the means and the information necessary to keep herself safe and make the right choices. We're going to have to let her fly solo." She added softly, "You can't protect her forever."

"I know, I know, but ..." Wedge began rubbing his own temples, ruffling the grey hair there.

Iella sighed. "If you think we missed something, if she needs one last pep talk before going into battle, fine, talk to her when she gets home. But I know you were never one for pep talks and she takes after you more than you realize. Trust her."

She returned to her laundry, muttering about husbands and children and how they weren't mutually exclusive.

* * *

Four steps to the sofa. Eight steps to the kitchen. Four steps to the coat rack. Another eight to the holoplate. Repeat. Wedge had considered Iella's words. She was right, she always was, but Wedge couldn't shake the feeling that there was one more thing he had to do, one more chance to get it right. He just hoped he wasn't too late. Wedge glanced at the wall chrono. Eight forty seven. Another hour and thirteen minutes.

* * *

"Mom, Daddy, I'm home!" Syal's voice rang out as she shot through the door. Her purse issued a soft thud as she tossed it in the corner of the living room, her shopping bag quickly following. She didn't want to be weighed down by her bags at the moment. Her heart was soaring without wings or engines and she was determined to enjoy every minute of it. Valin had kissed her. Just once. A tiny peck on the cheek as he said 'Good Night'. But that tiny microsecond had sent her heart soaring like nothing before. Nothing could ground her!

Except perhaps the look on her father's face.

He stood in the living room, rigid straight, a retired military officer to the core. Those same years of military service had given him an imposing, icy glare that could cut through duracrete. "Ten oh two."

Syal noted his hard tone and matched it. "Nine fifty seven. Your chrono is five minutes fast."

He father's gaze didn't waver. "Sit."

Syal bit her lip but didn't argue, it would have been pointless. Over the years, she had discovered her father occasionally settled into the mood that had give Rogue Squadron its reputation for doing the impossible: pure, focused, stubborn obstinacy. Whining, complaining, or joking would be useless and only entrench him further. Uncle Janson had provided years worth of proof by example. No, there were only two ways to deal with him when he got like this.

The first was to out-stubborn him. Syal's mother was the only person she had ever seen pull that off with any measure of reliability and Syal dared not try it now, not when Valin had promised her another date next week. The second option Syal had learned from her Uncle Tycho; match him point for point, logical argument for logical argument, until her father ran out of ground to stand on. He'd crack, she was sure of it, but first she had to listen long enough to figure out what the battle field was. She waited, meeting her father's icy gaze unflinchingly.

After a few moments, he looked away. "Myri, come in her please. Sit next to your sister."

Syal's younger sister cautiously peered into the room and then took a running leap to land on the sofa on her sister's left. Before Syal had left, Myri had demanded a detailed report of her date and now she seemed happily oblivious of her father's bad mood, eager to hear the news.

"Alright," their father began softly, "Now, Syal, I know you had your first date tonight and you're excited and feeling grown up. I know Valin is nice and I've known him for years, but I also know that he is a Corellian and the son of a pilot. Most importantly, I know he's a young man."

"Yes, Daddy," Syal said, forcing herself to remain calm. Her knee bounced up and down. "Which is why you gave me the blasters, remember?" She patted the new blaster slung low on her hip. "I can take care of myself if he or anyone else tries any funny business."

"Funny business," he repeated, as if there were a bad taste in his mouth. "Yes, that's what I want to talk about. You probably went over this with your mother, but I wanted provide, shall I say, a refresher briefing."

Myri giggled and clamped her hands over her mouth. Syal and their father both glared at her.

"Daddy," Syal said slowly, hoping against hope he'd accept her logic. "If you like, I can talk with Mom again. She is perfectly qualified to give the briefing, being in Intel and having dated a few men herself."

"Yes, but she's of the opinion you know it all already."

"Good, in that case ..." Syal stood but sat back down at her father's look.

"But I want you to know the Wes Janson point of view. And having known him longer than your mother, I feel that it is my duty."

"But can't we just talk to Uncle Wes?" Myri asked.

"No!" He looked panicked a moment but then calmed visibly and clamped his hands behind his back. "No, just no. Okay, now, I need to give you the Talk."

Syal raised her brow.

"Okay, I mean the Other Talk," her father amended, remembering their conversation earlier that night.

Crossing her arms and settling back on the couch, Syal braced herself for the long haul. She had a bad feeling that this talk would not result in a pair of shiny new blasters nor would it be as quick and painless.

* * *

Wedge shifted uneasily as he tried to think of the best way to approach this. Starting simple would probably be best. "Right, you know your Uncle Wes."

Myri giggled again. "Of course we know Uncle Wes." She giggled again. Idly, Wedge wondered what had gotten into her tonight and whether he should be watching her sugar intake.

"Good. Okay, now, your Uncle Wes is a guy, correct? And he's a pilot."

Syal rolled her eyes. "And I'm a girl and I want be a pilot. Your point?"

Wedge frowned. "For this discussion, all boys are pilots, okay?"

His daughter remained unimpressed but didn't say a word although her leg bounced faster.

"Right," he continued. "Boys are pilots and have X-Wings." Myri giggled again but Wedge ignored her. "Girls are ..." He searched for the right example. "Girls are Death Stars."

"But I don't want to be a Death Star," Myri spoke up. "I want to be a spy like Mom."

Wedge glared at her until she surrendered, her lips extended in a pout. "Girls are Death Stars. Now, the goal of every X-Wing is to find a Death Star and fly down her reactor shaft and release his proton torpedoes." Wedge could feel his ears burn red. Syal flushed and Myri began to giggle again.

"Now, the X-Wing should never force its way into a reactor shaft. If any one ever tries to assault your Death Star without your permission, you shoot them, or have me shoot them, and call CorSec, okay?"

Myri and Syal both nodded, each still red in the face. At least he knew they were listening.

"Okay, now some Death Stars carry shields. Always wear your shields, understand? And the X-Wing should wear one, too, just in case."

Syal frowned. "Daddy, that makes no sense. Why can't you just say that we should use protection when we have se..."

"My little girls are not having sex, understood?" Wedge growled.

"But Daddy ..."

"No buts!"

"Daddy, you don't understand, I'm not saying I want to have sex. I mean, I want to eventually, but not right now. So why should I be on birth control when know I don't need it? There isn't going to be an X-Wing in my reactor shaft any time soon!"

Her father's mouth opened and then shut as he marshaled his thoughts. Finally, his jaw set. "I'm not saying that you should always wear a shield, just that you should always wear a shield when you're considering allowing an X-Wing get close to you. I don't want the X-Wing's torpedoes resulting in any, um, unexpected explosions. Not until you're ready."

This time, both girls giggled. "I'll try not to explode, Dad," Myri choked out.

"You know what I mean." He sighed. "Now, no explosions, no assaults, no X-Wings in your reactor shafts, not until you're of age and you're ready. Understood?"

The girls nodded.

"One more thing ..." His face finally softened. "If you find the right X-Wing and the right time, an assault can be a wonderful, near magical thing. More amazing that flying. But just like flying, you need to wait until you're ready, until you know your ship and you know the consequences and can handle yourself. If you're not ready, it can be a rather scary and disappointing time. I was very luck to find my Death Star and even luckier to have two terrific explosions. I trust you both to make the right decisions."

"Thanks, Daddy." Syal gave her father a hug as she got up to leave. As she hastily gathered her things, Wedge supposed that she was just glad to escape, but he hoped that she would take what he said to heart. No, he knew she would, she was a smart girl. They both were.

Wedge frowned as he realized Myri was still on the sofa, looking at him attentively. "What?"

"So just how many Death Stars did you assault? I don't mean the ones at Yavin and Endor and the Maw. Well, maybe the one at the Maw. Did you assault her?"

Wedge glared at his youngest. "I'm not answering that. I will happily tell you anything you want to know about X-Wings and Death Stars but we are not going into my battle record."

Myri rolled her eyes and followed her sister, muttering under her breath. "No one ever tells me anything. Syal, wait up! I want to hear about Valin."

Wedge collapsed onto the couch thinking he'd rather face another one of the Empire's Death Stars than have that talk again.

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