Title: Red Five Characters: Luke Skywalker, OC, Leia Organa, Han Solo, Wedge Antilles Timeframe: 0 ABY - 34 ABY Summary: After the Battle of Yavin, Luke meets the only surviving member of the team who stole the Death Star plans. 0 ABY Luke had never seen so many people in his life. The Rebel Base on Yavin 4 was absolutely teeming with souls; ground crew and technicians swarming over the few ships and droids who had returned from the assault on the Death Star, officers racing to meetings and debriefs, and regular personnel cheering and hugging each other in the hallways. He’d slipped away with Leia, Han and Chewie, and the Princess had pulled some petty officer away from the celebrations and corralled them into organizing quarters for him. They’d not bothered before, with Luke changing from his farm clothes into a flightsuit, hopping straight into the X-Wing and flying off to war. Grimly, he realized that they probably had not expected him to survive. But he had survived. He’d won the whole damn thing, and Luke pushed aside the sadness at all he’d lost in the past few days in order to enjoy the sense of accomplishment. The adoration of his fellow rebels certainly didn’t hurt - as they traversed the hallways towards his new quarters they kept getting stopped with Luke being greeted, thanked, hugged, cried on and receiving every other kind of relieved and profuse thanks. Men and women twice his age grasped his hand and shook it firmly, and no one looked at him like he was just some dumb farm kid. No, he was the man who had saved their lives, and struck a great blow against the Empire. Later, he would dwell on the losses - not only of his aunt and uncle and Ben, but of his comrades and even the enemy that had been stationed on the Death Star, unable to anticipate that their lives would be ended in the blink of an eye. Later, he would find out the death count, and have to come to terms with his mass-murder and the price that he had paid so that others would live. Later, he would cry for Owen and Beru and blame himself, he would try and reach out to Ben in the ether for comfort and find nothing. Later, he would tire of the constant adoration and wish to become invisible again. But for the moment, it felt pretty damn good to be a hero. When they reached his new quarters the petty officer gave him some grey fatigues so he could change out of his flightsuit. The material was worn and soft, so different from the homespun he’d been wearing since birth, the fabric as coarse and durable as the sand. Fatigues were far from luxurious and yet they were the best thing he’d ever worn, and somehow in them he felt even more the farmboy. “They’ll do for now,” Leia said lightly as he stepped out of the ‘fresher in his new clothes. “We’ll need to find you something else for the ceremony tomorrow.” “Ceremony?” Leia smiled indulgently. “Of course - we’ll have to evacuate soon, but there will be a party tonight, and an official ceremony tomorrow. I’m sure that Alliance High Command will want to award you all with honors of some kind.” “That’s nice,” Han said, lounging back against the wall. “I hope there’s credits to go along with those honors.” Leia scowled and pierced Han with a glare. “I’m sure that could be arranged,” she said in a clipped voice. “You know, Captain Solo, I thought for a moment there was a sliver of generosity in you.” “There is!” Han insisted a little too forcefully, and to Luke it seemed his earlier interest in the princess had not all been in jest. “I came back, didn’t I, at great personal cost to myself I might add.” At his side, Chewbacca gave a small growl that seemed like a chuckle. “I saved the kid’s butt as well as yours, Princess.” Leia glanced over at Luke and they shared a small smile that made his heart feel warm. Ever since he’d seen her on the hologram, Luke had felt inexplicably drawn to her for reasons that he couldn’t quite explain. She was beautiful of course, headstrong and confident in a way that Luke admired, and he would never forget the way she’d comforted him in those brief moments on the Falcon after Ben had sacrificed himself. “…and I should be gone, out of here like a shot,” Han was still ranting. “But since I’m so generous, I’ll stick around for a bit. Not long, though - I’ve still got a debt to pay off.” Luke crossed the small quarters to take a seat next to Leia on the bunk, nudging her conspiratorially. “And I’m sure you don’t want to miss being the center of attention tomorrow and getting another reward, huh Han?” He scowled in response, crossing his arms over his chest and slouching further back against the wall. “Look who’s talking, Luke. You know, I was going to lend you some nice clothes so you wouldn’t look like such a ‘Rimscraper, but perhaps you’d like to get your honors in your farm rags?” Leia looked Han up and down with clear skepticism. “You have nice clothes? she asked. “Why aren’t you wearing them?” They continued in the vein for a while, but eventually the teasing gave way to more serious talk - of the Rebellion, of their own recent histories, their plans for the future. They skirted the serious topics of the destruction of Alderaan and the death of Luke’s aunt and uncle - he was sure that they would all confide in each other in the days to come, but for now the friendship was still too new. Leia did tell him what she knew of Ben - how he’d been a Jedi General during the Clone Wars along with Luke’s father. Apparently, he’d been a great hero, although Leia said with regret her father Bail had never talked about Anakin Skywalker much - Kenobi had been a closer friend. But Luke drank in the information, trying to reconcile his memories of Ben as a strange hermit and later wise master, with Leia’s tales of battles and bravery. Eventually the conversation petered off, and Leia excused herself saying she was required to assist with the evacuation plans. Han and Chewie stayed for a time after that, and some of Han’s bravado fell away as he told Luke, ruffling his hair, that he was glad he was okay. But soon they also took their leave to check the Falcon, with a promise they’d see him at the party that night. Finally by himself, Luke felt uneasy in the solitude - he’d spent too much of his life alone already. He wandered through the halls of the base, now less busy, until he found the pilot’s lounge where Wedge Antilles was having a quiet drink. “Luke!” Wedge called to him gratefully and poured him a generous glass of whiskey. “Glad you’re here, this place is dead. Literally.” He looked forlornly around at the almost empty bar, no doubt thinking of his comrades who had perished in the battle. Taking a seat and grasping the whiskey gratefully, Luke took an experimental sip. It was no less potent than Anchorhead moonshine, but infinitely better tasting; rich and pleasantly tingly on his tongue. “To our friends,” Wedge said, raising his glass, and Luke clinked his own against it, saying nothing. Other than Biggs, he’d barely known the other pilots who’d flown and died on his wing. “Guess we’re all that’s left, now,” Wedge continued, taking a long drink of whiskey and filling his glass up again. “Us, and Farlander,” he added on consideration, the surviving Y-Wing pilot of Gold Squadron Luke had met only briefly. “Oh yeah…and her.” “Who?” As far as Luke was aware, all of the female pilots had died in the assault. “You know how we got the plans to the Death Star in the first place?” Wedge asked, filling up Luke’s glass again. “Sure, they were stolen,” Luke nodded, taking another sip. The whiskey was giving him a light buzz, warm in his empty stomach. “And beamed them to Leia’s ship.” “They put together a strike team, most of them pilots,” Wedge said. “They said I was too young, not enough experience, and I guess I should be glad of that now, huh? They’re all dead except her.” “Who?” Luke asked again, slightly exasperated. Wedge waved a dismissive hand and drowned his whiskey. “Your predecessor,” he said as he filled up his glass again, and Luke put a hand over his own to stop Wedge from topping it up. “Red Five. Helluva fighter - only one of the strike team to survive, but she was half dead when they found her. Got blinded by a stray blaster bolt, or so they said.” Luke winced, not wanting to imagine the pain of such an injury. Ben had taught him to reach out with the Force when blind during the lightsaber exercises on the Falcon, but practice was one thing, and reality was another. “Is she here?” Luke asked, curious now about the woman whose callsign he’d taken. “What, you want to go see her?” Wedge snorted into his drink as if what he’d said was supremely funny. Surreptitiously, Luke moved the whiskey bottle out of his reach. “I thought I might,” Luke shrugged. “Pay my respects, you know.” Wedge threw his head back and laughed. “You’re a strange one, Luke,” he said between chuckles. “But yeah, go on,” he waved his hand again. “Give it your best shot - she’s in the medward, level six.” Luke drowned the last of his whiskey and stood, nodding to Wedge. “I’ll see you later.” He wanted to add don’t drink too much, but thought it wasn’t his place to tell anybody how to grieve. Wedge gave him a lazy salute. “Just be careful with that one, Luke,” he warned. “She’s, ah…prickly."