Hi everyone! First of all, a happy belated new year! I am sorry for not updating for so long, but Darth University is very influential and time- consuming ;-) Thank you very much for your reviews WestAero13 and TriGemini!
If you got the time and wish to read it, take a look at that long Hobbie story I've been telling you about for what, half a year?. The first chapter is now finally up and I've decided to publish it separately because it's really a stand-alone story, not a oneshot. You can find it in my profile; it's called "Peace of mind." But enough of the shameless story-promotion here :P
I hope you like this chapter :) It's quite different to the light-hearted one before to say the least. I was in a sadistic mood (-:
Hope you have a nice day and in a few days also a nice weekend!
What Dreams May Come
It all happened so horribly quickly in hindsight. Later he wouldn't be able to recall the details of the planet's lush vegetation, nor the way his heart beat against his ribcage or the singularly brutal way the twigs tore into his very being when he rushed frantically through the thicket of the jungle, hoarsely bellowing: "Hobbie! Hobbie!"
What he could recall, even decades later, was the twisted shape of the X-wing that was lying mangled and broken in the jungle thicket. Memories, sharp like holoshots: the missing S-foil, the shattered canopy, the twisted nose of the proud fighter.
Tears were starting to run down his face as he urgently and sharply cried: "Hobbie!" And again: "Hobbie!" past a harsh sob, already thinking the unthinkable.
Finally there was the weak reply of a voice he had come to know very well over the course of the years: "Here, Wes."
Wes's perception of the next moments was first sharp relief, followed by horror as he reached the cockpit. Hobbie was pinned down by a huge transparisteel shard, a leftover of the broken canopy, which left him unable to move and painted the frayed edges of his orange flightsuit around it an angry red.
"Wes," Hobbie coughed. After a moment's shock, Wes tugged at the shard that was deeply embedded in Hobbie's midriff, eliciting a pained scream from Hobbie.
"S-Sorry," Wes stuttered in paralysed terror. Hobbie weakly shook his head. He was terribly pale and bright blood was bubbling over his lips. "Are you trying to get me killed, Wes?" he joked, choking on something that sounded like a laugh or a sob.
"I am gonna get you out of here," Wes mumbled hoarsely through his crippling unnamable panic. "I will."
"Of course you will," Hobbie replied- another thing which Wes would always remember; that utter, unshakeable conviction in his friend's voice, that faith in him, Wes.
But only seconds later urgent beeping from Crash V interrupted their endeavour.
"He says that the fuel tank will explode in ten seconds," Hobbie choked out, paling even further.
Then, before Wes had a chance to react, an odd look of determination crossed Hobbie's pain-stricken features. "I am not gonna make it, Wes, and I refuse to take you with me," he stated grimly.
For a long moment the sounds of the jungle around them stilled. Wes's heart ceased beating in that wild, incredulous silence, then picked up again, thumping No No No No No NO!
"No," he screamed, "No, Hobbs!"
Hobbie's face was just inches away, the blue eyes startling wide in a face that seemed suddenly so young-
-"I love you like a brother, Wes. You are my best friend."
And then, there was an image that was forever frozen in Wes's mind: Hobbie's sandy hair, tousled, sticking up at odd angles around his face, mouth firmly set and a sorrowful yet loving look in those dark blue eyes-
-"Go, Wes!" And with a strength, that only desperation can give, Hobbie pushed Wes out of the way-
-Wes fell, Hobbie's desolate look seared in his mind.
A bright explosion hurtled him into darkness.
He awoke to the murmur of familiar voices. "…very lucky to have survived the explosion…report to Incom…fuel tank not supposed to explode that easily…"
Wes awoke with a gasp, staring uncomprehendingly up in the concerned faces of Wedge Antilles and Tycho Celchu.
"Wes-" That was Wedge.
"Hobbie?" Wes cut him off in a rough whisper.
"Wes," Tycho tried.
"No," he stated forcefully. The words hurt his chapped lips. "Hobbie?"
Tycho's face fell, tears were starting to gather in his normally so composed crystal blue eyes. Another pair of blue eyes, darker and filled with sorrow flashed through Wes's mind.
"No!" He sobbed. "Please no…"
But Wedge only wordlessly shook his head.
"No," Wes howled, "No! No!"
Wedge's and Tycho's face disappeared behind a veil of tears.
"No, No, No, No," he sobbed incoherently. "NO!"
The sedative, when it came, didn't even register with him anymore.
The next weeks were spent as if in a daze. After a month had passed by Wes was declared for light duty by a shrink who had clearly been blind for the mask Wes had worn had been one of his worst. Wes didn't care.
Wedge, after much contemplation, placed him on the active duty roster after another two months spent in apathy. Declarations of condolence came from all sides.
Wes was numb to it, them, everything. They pitied him. He stopped caring. He just existed.
Standing side by side, Tycho and Wedge surveyed Major Wes Janson who was working on his X-wing, assisted by some techs. "It might as well be a robot," Wedge commented bitterly. They had tried everything already. Nothing had worked. Wes didn't open up to any of them. His answers were polite, yet devoid of life. Just like a non-sentient machine.
"Ever since it happened," Wedge continued, choking slightly on the "it", "he has been acting as if he were dead, too."
Tycho nodded somberly. "It feels like it. Kriff," he whispered suddenly, "I miss Hobbie." After a moment's pause, he admitted helplessly: "I don't know what to do."
Wedge glanced sharply at his XO. Such an admission was rarely made by his second-in-command. He placed a hand on Tycho's shoulder and his reply came out much less certain than it had been intended: "It has to go on. We'll find a way."
It wasn't until a few weeks later that Wedge snapped. Wes had been doing well in the Sims, as he usually did as one of the Squadron's best pilots, but his comments might as well have been those of the bot who ran the simulations.
When Wes attempted to walk by him, Wedge grabbed his shoulders and forced him to look him in the eye. "Get yourself together, kriff it!" he yelled. Anger might not have been the best strategy, but helplessness dictated Wedge's actions in that moment.
Wes looked at him blankly. For some reason that made Wedge shake his shoulders harshly, for normally a witty Wes comeback should have been on the agenda now. Not this.
"I miss Hobbie too," Wedge intoned finally sorrowfully, his anger spent. His shoulders sagged.
Then Wes opened his mouth: "I don't care," he said emotionlessly.
Wedge let go of him in shock. "You-"he stuttered in shock. Then shock was replaced by fury.
"Get out of my sight, Major, "he ordered coldly. "I do not wish to see you until you are feeling more like yourself. I am also taking you off the active duty roster."
Without acknowledging anything Wedge had said, Wes turned around and walked away. Wedge was hard-pressed to stifle the sobs that rose in his throat.
Wes walked to his quarters on autopilot. He undressed. He lay down in his bed. He slept.
He dreamed- as he usually did- of Hobbie. But it wasn't like the usual nightmares of bloodied hands and reproachful blue eyes this time.
Instead, the Hobbie in his dream first thing fell over Lieutenant Kettch who was lying on the ground.
"Ow," he complained in his normal dour tone.
Wes stared at him.
Hobbie seemed delighted to see him once he had regained his footing.
"Wes!" he shouted out and hugged him warmly, then released him.
Wes stared at him.
"Are you a force ghost?" he ventured finally weakly.
Hobbie laughed out loud at this. "Force ghost? You actually think someone would give me a lightsabre? Or you for that matter?"
A shocked Wedge Antilles stumbled by in the background. "Wes and Hobbie with force powers? Oh my sweet Corellia!" he muttered darkly.
"What is Wedge doing here?" Hobbie asked in consternation.
"I don't know," Wes replied weakly.
"Well, it's your mind," Hobbie pointed out. "He is a figment of your imagination. Although," he added mournfully, "I can certainly see him reacting that way to the prospect of you with a lightsabre."
Wes stared at Wedge, who was now rummaging through some things in the background, then looked back at Hobbie.
"Are you a figment of my imagination, too?"
Hobbie pondered this for as long as a second. "No!" He replied in indignation. "This is your mind, Wes. If it was mine, I'd keep better order and wouldn't leave things lying around for my visitors to trip over!" He pointed accusingly at Lieutenant Kettch, who was suddenly sitting up and glaring at Hobbie, who scowled back.
"So you are real?" Wes gasped out and without waiting for a reply, launched himself at Hobbie. The tears he had denied himself for so long after that first fateful day of waking up, were suddenly coming strong and he couldn't stop them.
"You are really there," he sobbed into Hobbie's shoulder, who felt warm and real.
Hobbie stroked his back. "There, there," he soothed.
After a long while, Wes pulled back, though he kept his hand lying on Hobbie's shoulder, just to make sure.
"So you are no Force Ghost?"
"Nope," Hobbie confirmed with a broad smile.
"You have to be real," Wes muttered with a sigh and something akin to his former spirit. "Only you would come visit me and fall over something first hand."
"It's not my fault!" Hobbie complained. "You are the one with the mess in his head!"
"Kriff, Klivian, you are such a chaot!" Wes groused. A small smile made his way to his lips.
Hobbie smirked his infamous little smirk in reply. "Am not, Wes."
Then, suddenly, he became serious. "You have to let go of me, Wes. Stop behaving like C3PO. That's not you and we both know it."
He put a hand on Wes's arm and said somberly: "I am not real, Wes. Not in the normal world at least. I am gone. I am dead. And there is nothing you could have done to prevent that from happening."
Wes was silent. Then he eventually said in a small voice: "But I miss you, Hobbs. It's not the same without you around."
"As I miss you," Hobbie replied in kind. Then he pulled Wes into a fierce hug.
"You've got to go, don't you?" Wes asked.
"I do," Hobbie confirmed. "It'll be morning soon."
"I don't want you to go, please stay," Wes pleaded in a voice that made him sound as if he were decades younger.
"Wes, you've got to let me go," Hobbie mumbled sadly.
Wes kept his hands on Hobbie's shoulders for a long moment, then looked into those eyes that had haunted him every night. "Will I ever see you again?"
Hobbie laughed wryly. "There is nothing you can do against that," he chuckled.
Slowly he started to fade.
Wes held up a hand. "Bye, Hobbs."
"Bye, Wes. See you in a few." Slowly, Hobbie's lanky contours started to mesh with the background.
"And light up, will you?" Wes heard as his eyes slowly started to flutter open. "You are not me!"
Wes sat up. Slowly he reached up to touch his cheeks. They were wet.
"Bye," he whispered in the silence of his quarters. "Bye, Hobbie."
The first person Wes met when he came out his quarters that morning was Wedge, who looked at him in silence. Wes looked back uneasily.
"Wedge, I-" Wes began. He searched for words and then stood up straight. "General Antilles, I wish to apologise for my conduct."
Wedge measured him with those dark eyes of his and put a hand on his shoulder.
"Welcome back, Wes," he said warmly. "I am glad."
For a moment something pained Wes couldn't quite suppress hushed across his face and deep inside, he knew that he could never be the same. But maybe he could endeavour to come close to it.
"Thanks," he replied simply.
Wedge nodded. "You might want to help Tycho set up the sims for the newbies," he suggested.
"Will do," Wes said. Wedge was a few metres away, when Wes called: "Hey, Boss, did you hear about Lieutenant Kettch? He has got himself a lightsabre now!"
And with a small smile and a jaunty wave reminiscent of the Wes before, he rounded the corner. In a quiet corridor he stopped.
"It's still hard, Hobbs," he whispered, "but I am trying."
He gave a small salute to the thin air, then smiled tightly and walked away.
Decades later, a young trainee pilot asked an aging Colonel Janson:
"Sir, what would Major Klivian say now to send us on our way?"
The bunch of young pilots had been Colonel Janson's training squadron and was now ready to be released to the world of lasers and fire, or at least as ready as they could ever be. The other pilots stared wide-eyed at the one who had spoken.
Sure, Colonel Janson often told them of Major Hobbie Klivian, who had died so long ago yet was a legend as one of the "heroes of Yavin and Endor", but no one had dared to ask the Colonel outright about him before.
However, the Colonel simply nodded and smiled slightly. "Well, what do you think he'd say?"
"Maybe he'd wish us luck," the young pilot mumbled. "He seems to have been an impressive pilot from your tales, sir."
"Oh, that he was," the Colonel confirmed, "and the greatest friend you can think of." After a moment's pause he added: "But he wouldn't wish you luck."
A fine smile curled the corners of his lips. "I believe he would say that now you are definitely doomed."
They stared at him in bemused silence, but the Colonel merely smiled again and gave them a two-fingered salute: