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Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head

Wes stared out the window, chin resting in both hands, settled in for some serious moping. Sometimes the universe wasn't fair, it really wasn't. Finally, a couple of days leave; finally they'd gotten off that blasted ship--even the biggest cruisers seemed to get progressively smaller the longer you had to live on board, and the Rogues had been on board quite long enough, thank you very much. But here they were: Doranu, a pretty world by nearly any standard, ready for some relaxation, very ready to get outside and enjoy un-recycled air, real sunlight, open space...

... and it was raining. Not just a little rain, that wouldn't have stopped him for a second. Pounding, torrential downpours, flowing endlessly out of sullen gray sky, accompanied by the occasional faint rumble of thunder. Going outside in that would probably require gills just to breathe, Wes thought mournfully to himself. And ship-crazy as he was, he wasn't quite ship-crazy enough to brave the severe elements on the other side of the glass. He sighed extravagantly.

"Wes, there's no use pouting. You're not gonna make the rain stop sooner by staring at it." Hobbie sprawled on his bed, across the room from Wes. One arm was propped behind his head; the other was holding his datapad up, hiding his face. "Wedge and Tycho were going to set up a game of sabaac, why don't you go ask them to deal you in."

"We've been playing sabaac for weeks." Wes stared out the window again, blue eyes fixed longingly on the wavery world outside.

Hobbie covered a faint sigh. "Then find something else to do. Entertain yourself," he suggested. The last thing he wanted was a miserable Wes moping around. Eventually Hobbie would end up miserable too.

Wes still stared at the window for a second, but suddenly straightened in his chair. His eyes glinted, and a slow grin spread across his face. Jumping up, he strode across the room, suddenly all energy. "Yeah, you're right, Hobbs, no use moping around. I'll catch you later." Just that quick, he was out the door and gone.

Hobbie raised an eyebrow, eyeing the door behind his friend, wondering at the sudden change in mood. Once Wes was moping, it usually took longer than that for him to... Hobbie's eyes suddenly widened, realizing what he'd done. 'Entertain yourself,' he'd said. To a ship-crazy Wes, trapped inside, with the rest of the squadron similarly trapped close by.

Hobbie groaned. Dropping his datapad, he pulled the pillow out from behind him and buried his head under it. You idiot. You've doomed us all.

* * * * * *

"You're just teasing me, aren't you?"

Tycho waggled his eyebrows at Wedge, a faint smirk folding lines around his mouth. "Maybe I was just leading you on all these years, and I'm actually better than you think. You have no idea what you've been missing."

Wedge raised one of his own dark eyebrows. "I think I'd rather believe you're teasing, instead of pretending to be an awful player for the last ten years."

"Have it your way, then," Tycho replied with a shrug and a grin, collecting the small amount of credits at the center of the table. This was the third sabaac hand in a row he'd won. He couldn't remember the last time he'd won two in a row, never mind three! Maybe his luck was changing for the better after all...

Tycho saw Myn move out the corner of his eye, and turned towards one of the other Corellians at the table. "Something the matter, Myn?" he asked as the other pilot leaned down to look underneath.

"Oh, not really... Just looking to see if you had any cards stuck to the underside of the table or something." The usually serious man broke out into a smug grin.

Heh. He's just sore that there are three Corellians at the table and none of them have won a hand in over an hour.

"Hey, are you gonna deal, or what?" Inyri asked irritably from the other side of the table, one finger poking at the smooth surface. "I'd like to win at least some of my creds back before I retire."

"At ease, Forge," Wedge said with a chuckle. "You'll get your chance. I've never seen Tycho win more than three hands in an entire game... Our turn will come."

"Unless he's cheating," Myn added with a snort.

"What do you think, Corran? Any insight?" Inyri asked, turning towards the shorter man.

Corran leaned back, his arms crossed over his chest. "Well... I've seen a lot of bad sabaac cheaters over the years, but Tycho hasn't given off any obvious clues."

Inyri rolled her eyes, then elbowed Corran in the ribs. "That's not what I meant, Horn."

Corran flinched, dropping an icy glare on her as he rubbed his side. "My abilities don't work like that, Inyri, and you know it. But even if they did, they'd never see through the ego."

"Hey, I object to this defamation of character!" Tycho piped in, picking up the cards from the randomizer.

"There's an obvious comment there, but I won't say it." Wedge chuckled to himself.

"You mean, like you need to have a character in order for it to be defamed?" Myn chimed in.

"Give that man a raise," Wedge said, pointing to Myn.

"I'm getting too old for this," Tycho mused as he dealt out the cards.

* * * * * *

Wes lugged his load of odds and ends out of the hangar as inconspicuously as he could. He didn't have time for a really elaborate prank, but this would at least keep him busy... if his day was being ruined by water, then water could help entertain him in turn. It was only fair.

Tiptoeing down the hallway, he bumped the release button of the door he was aiming for with his elbow, his hands occupied with the stuff he'd scrounged. When the door closed behind him, he breathed a sigh of relief; if anyone had picked that moment to come out of the door across the hall, it would have all been over before it began. Laying out his materials, he studied them for a few seconds, and then set to work.

* * * * * *

"You are NOT going to win another hand. It simply can't happen," Inyri declared, scowling at her cards. "The universe doesn't work that way. You don't have this kind of luck, Celchu, not at sabaac. Not going to happen."

Tycho smirked back at her, though he admitted at least to himself that part of him agreed with her. A lot of him, really. He'd never been good at sabaac, his skills ran more to games of logic than chance... but here he was, four winning hands under his belt, and the fifth being dealt in front of him right now. He could feel it. "Think again, Forge. Like it or not, this is my lucky day."

Corran raised an eyebrow, leaning back in his chair as Wedge dealt the next hand. "Dangerous words, Tych. Luck has a way of turning on you when you least expect it--especially when you're counting on it to win at cards for you."

"Spoken like a true Corellian," Tycho answered expansively, his smirk still firmly in place. "But not today. I'm getting a little of mine back, and about time." Corran's slight shrug and enigmatic smile spoke eloquently of what he thought of Tycho's chances. But Tycho didn't care. He finally had his chance to win big, and nothing was going to stop him now. Wedge finished dealing, and Tycho's fingers twitched, almost tingling as he picked up his cards. Finally, my turn to gloat... my spot in the sun...

The door annunciator chimed. A couple of questioning glances flickered that way; the door wasn't locked, whoever it was could just come in. As the first card was laid, the door chimed again, causing slight frowns and curious looks. When it rang a third time, it was finally too much. Wedge laid down his hand and got up to see who was there, muttering under his breath as he punched the button to open the door...

With as little warning as he had, it was a wonder he reacted in time. But somehow he did, twisting out of the way of the double-fist-sized missiles that came hurtling into the room, directly at the table where four of his fellow unsuspecting pilots were sitting. One of them caught Tycho squarely in the back of the head, bursting apart and dousing him with water; the other two landed and broke on the table among cries of dismay and the squeaks of chair legs being hastily pushed back along the smooth floor.

Wedge blinked at the sudden soggy mess that had been a game of sabaac, and then peered cautiously around the edge of the door. Sitting across the hall, made out of what appeared to be starfighter parts and assorted hangar equipment, were three tiny catapults, attached to a laser-controlled motion sensor. His eyes followed the dim red beam of the laser back through the door, aimed directly beneath the legs of Tycho's chair and under the table; his eyes were drawn upward, finally meeting Tycho's intense gaze in a set face. The look would have been readily recognized by parents the galaxy over: They're YOUR children. Wedge tried hard to stifle his grin. He was partly successful.

"Your lucky day, huh, Tycho?" came Inyri's smug voice from the other side of the table.

* * * * * *

Tycho's hair was plastered to his head, his clothes soaked all the way down to his waist. "I'm gonna kill 'im. I've threatened it before, but this time I really mean it!" he growled, pushing up from his chair and moving towards the door.

Wedge's reflexes failed him this time, probably because he was shaking with repressed laughter, his hands on his thighs as he bent over. Tycho managed to press past him before Wedge could stop him, and stalked out into the hallway. The rest of the pilots sitting around the table, all splattered with water from the "bombs" that had landed on it, climbed to their feet at the same time, following Tycho. Hoping for a little action, more than likely, after a boring couple of days on leave.

Finally regaining some control, Wedge started off after the small group, hoping to calm Tycho down. "Tych, wait... It's only Wes being Wes!"

Inyri was the last of the group, trailing behind the others. She turned at Wedge's voice. "Face it, Wedge, Wes has had this coming for a loooong time." She walked backwards as she spoke, trying to keep up with the others. Wedge quickly caught her up.

"Do you have any idea how many forms I'd have to fill out if Tycho kills him? I'm on leave! I don't want to even look at my datapad!" He gave her a lopsided grin, moving past her to catch up with Tycho. He made it just as they rounded the first corner, almost walking straight into Wes.

Wes, of course, was killing himself laughing.

Tycho, of course, was not.

Grabbing Wes by the collar, Tycho dragged him along behind him as he headed back the way they had come. Wedge turned on his heel, following the group again. "Tycho! Tycho, don't leave any marks!"

Wes pulled and jerked, trying to loosen Tycho's hold and escape. "It was just a joke, Tych... Come on, you'd be wetter than this if you stepped outside... Lemme go!"

As the small fleet passed a door, it opened to reveal Hobbie, who rolled his eyes when he saw a soaked Tycho and a rambling Wes. "What has he done now?" he sighed as Wedge passed the blonde pilot.

"It was a good one... but I don't think Tych's terribly happy about it." Wedge's voice trailed off down the hallway as he continued on.

Hobbie was torn. Should he follow and watch Wes get his just desserts? Or should he just pretend that nothing had happened, that he hadn't spurred Wes on and was therefore partly responsible, and go back to reading his book?

Curiosity got the better of him, and he set off after Wedge.

* * * * * *

The corridor-doors of the hangar ground open, and Tycho swept through, a struggling Wes in hand and several Rogues in his wake. Glancing around, he snagged a coil of tough, flexible conduit off a storage unit. A delicate moment followed, when he had to loop the end; Wes almost escaped, except Corran just happened to be right in his way. A moment later, Tycho had thrown a loop of the conduit around Wes's hands. Wes just had time to throw a dark glare over his shoulder at Corran before Tycho's hand landed on his collar again, dragging him across the hangar. Corran smirked back at him with a little wave, trailing along behind.

"Come on, Tych... What's a little water between friends? Uhh, I mean, um, just some good clean fun, right?" Tycho didn't respond, and Wes's customary grin was starting to look a little desperate. "You wouldn't hurt an old friend, would you? Huh? I mean, uhhh... this isn't the worst trick I've ever played, is it??" Wes winced at himself. Smart move, Janson, remind him of all the other things he has to get back at you for! Tycho smiled slowly, a tight, predatory smile, and Wes gulped.

Tycho stopped beside a small crane used to lift parts up to techs working on top of starfighters. A chain dangled from the long arm, with a large hook attached to the end. Wes struggled harder to break free, knowing his fate, whatever it would be, was near. But in a matter of moments, Tycho had looped the chain around his waist, snagging the hook in one of the links. Wes's bound hands fell to his waist, awkwardly trying to free himself; but Tycho was faster. Jumping to the controls, Tycho threw the lever to retract the chain--and very directly, Wes was wriggling a couple of meters above the hangar floor. "Tycho! All right, you've got me, I'm stuck... lemme down, huh? Tych?? Guys! Come on, someone get me down from here..." But Tycho was oblivious to Wes's pleas, and no one else seemed ready to risk Tycho's ire by getting in the way. Not to mention the rest of the Rogues were far too interested in seeing what the Alderaanian had in mind to interfere now.

Tycho paced across to the wall panel holding the controls for the huge flight doors. As soon as they cracked open, the hangar was filled with the muted roar of rain pounding the duracrete outside. Tycho didn't let them retract far, halting their progress when a two-meter gap had appeared between the heavy doors. Returning to the crane, he started it moving. Lining up with the gap in the doors, he paused for a second, looking up at Wes with a smug, self-satisfied expression, and let the crane drift forward, nosing out into the thunderous rain. Wes was instantly soaked to the skin and spluttering.

Letting the machine stop again, Tycho stepped toward the doors, standing just at the edge of where the wild rain slipped inside, and called out, raising his voice to be heard over the downpour. "You tell me, Wes--how wet would I have been if I'd stepped outside?" With another smug look, Tycho turned and strolled away.

* * * * * *

The crowd of Rogues parted for Tycho, but at the end of the small passage was Wedge, hands on hips. He had to try very, very hard to keep an amused smile from his face, so he let it hide just beneath his General Scowl. "Do you want to bring him back in now?"

"Not until he's learned his lesson," Tycho answered, an equally serious scowl on his face.

"Tycho--" Wedge started, but he was cut off by an outburst from his second.

"Wedge, I had a Therifin flush going! A flush! When was the last time I got a flush? Or when I won five hands in a row?? Do you know what he ruined?!" Tycho's eyes flashed as his arm jutted out backwards, pointing at the sodden figure hanging from the crane arm. Even from a distance, Wedge could tell how dejected Wes looked, his shoulders slumped, his head bowed against the storm.

"We'll go back to the game, Tycho. You can pick up another hand, keep your streak going." Wedge tried to keep his voice calm, seeing for the first time how much teasing Tycho about his sabaac skills had affected him. "We'll give you this one, okay? If you had a flush, you won."

"Fine," Tycho answered, his anger quickly evaporating. "I'll pull him back in."

"I'll do it. You guys go back to your game," a voice said from beside Wedge. He turned to see Hobbie, standing just beside Corran.

"All right. Come on, Tych." Wedge led his motley crew out of the hangar, leaving Hobbie to reel in his friend.

* * * * * * *

Hobbie watched the rest of the Rogues wander out of the hangar, then turned towards where Wes was suspended, awash in the elements. Climbing onto the crane, he studied the controls, then slowly backed the contraption away from the doors.

Wes's body swung slightly with the movement, water dripping off his booted feet in a constant flow. His head hung low, his eyes obscured by his soaking hair. He was the very picture of pathetic remorse.

As his feet hit the floor, Wes seemed to lose his balance, falling to his knees. Hobbie jogged quickly over to the public 'fresher nearby, grabbed some towel, and brought it back. With a couple of deft flicks, Wes was untied, and Hobbie handed him the towels. "We'd better get you dried off before you get sick. If this weather ever does break, you don't want to be flat on your back with a cold."

Wes just nodded, wiping his face with the paper towels. His hands fell into his lap, clutching at the wet towel. "I thought he could take a joke..."

"He's taken them for years, Wes. You just caught him at the wrong time. You have an unerring knack for doing that, you know."

"Yeah, I know," he replied quietly, more water running down his face from his hairline before he reached up to swipe at it.

Hobbie sighed, not looking forward to a sulking Wes for the rest of his shore leave. "Look at it this way, Wes. If you can live through the embarrassment of walking into a room naked with your squadmates looking on, then this is nothing."

Wes looked up at him, his face still shining with moisture. "You just had to bring that up, didn't you?"

"I didn't say it to make fun of you, Wes." Although I would've paid a lot to have seen the look on your face at the time. "Just to let you know that it could have been worse." Hobbie shrugged helplessly.

Taking a deep breath, Wes climbed back to his feet. There was a distinct squishing noise from his boots, and his clothes clung to his body. "Yeah, I guess so. He coulda hit me... Although I could take Tycho in a fair fight."

"Tycho doesn't fight fair, Wes, you know that. You wouldn't have stood a chance." Hobbie clapped him on the shoulder, then wiped his hand on his pants. "C'mon, we'll go back to our quarters, get you into a new outfit, then go for a drink. What do you say?"

Wes nodded as the doors parted for them. "All right. But you're buying."

"Deal," Hobbie answered as the doors slid closed behind them.

--The End--

 

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