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Two Hundred Degrees

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“A job?” Leia asks suspiciously, cradling the dozing Ben in her arms, “what sort of job?”

“Nothing big,” he reassures her, and tries his most winning smile. The one that’s always tended to get things going his way. Of course it’s Leia, so her eyes only narrow at him all the further, but he likes to think that it’s the thought that counts, “just an old fashioned smuggling run, in and out before you know it. Really, Princess, I considered not telling you about it. I’ll only be gone a day...”

“If you hadn’t told me about it I would’ve made you change Ben’s nappies for the next few years,” Leia informs him sweetly, and gives her most princessly smile as he shudders at the prospect, “what will you be smuggling?”

“Oh, you know, the usual stuff,” he shifts innocently on his feet, tries not to look like he’s still inwardly wincing at the thought of those nappies, “food, clean water, medical supplies...”

“Medical supplies?” Leia stares at him narrow eyed. Ben, about as prone to shows of temper as his mother, stirs against her and makes a threatening hiccupping sound, “and where will you be smuggling these medical supplies to exactly, dear husband of mine? Somewhere peaceful and green and with ample bars?”

And he could lie, he really could, but the thing about Leia is that she always sees through them in about five seconds flat, “a little place called Taris, actually. You probably haven’t-“

Taris?” Leia snaps, so loudly that Ben actually wakes up in her arms and starts peering around with his little forehead ominously wrinkled. Again, just like his mother before she starts shooting things and bringing hell down on anybody dumb enough to get in her way, “Han Solo, you are aware that that planet is still held by the lingering Empire forces? And is potentially inhabited by remnants of the Sith? And, beyond both of those things, is a wretched hive of scum and villainy where a horrible death is almost guaranteed?”

“Look,” he growls in reply, finally losing his own temper. Not that that’s ever hard when Leia is involved, considering that he’s the passive tinder and she’s the uncontrollable wildfire. Or she’s the tinder and he’s the wildfire. Or they’re both the wildfire and nobody is the tinder and he’s never really been that good at metaphors, “I wasn’t asking for your permission, okay? I’m a general of the goddamned resistance and I can go to any wretched hives of scum and villainy I like!”

“You scruffy-!” Leia starts to yell. But Ben, proving himself his true son, chooses exactly that moment to start screaming at the top of his lungs. And he takes the opportunity to make his hasty escape with all due relief.

 

--

 

He carefully avoids Leia for the next day or so, and by the time he’s due to get on the Falcon he’s almost lulled himself into a false sense of security. He’ll go and do this job, get the reward easily as ever and by the time he returns home Leia will have forgiven him and everything will be back to normal. It’ll be great, fine, simple.

When he gets to the Falcon, as bright eyed and bushy tailed as he ever is, Leia is standing on the steps. Smirking at him in her most worrying way.

“Oh,” he says, and attempts a smile. It’s supposed to look casual and carefree, he has the feeling that it actually looks like he’s attempting to push his jaw out through his mouth, “you came to see me off, that’s... Lovely.”

“Don’t be an idiot,” Leia informs him brightly, smiles at Chewie besides him. Wonderful, whenever those two get together there’s bound to be trouble with him right at the very centre of it, “I’m not here to dutifully wish you goodbye and instruct you to have fun getting yourself killed. I’m here because I’m coming with you.”

“But... It’ll be dangerous,” he splutters, and knows the moment he says it that it’s a mistake. Leia isn’t the type to be put off by danger. She is, instead, the type to run towards it as fast as she possibly can, “and what about Ben? What about the new republic, for that matter?”

“I’ve left Ben with Luke, they can get in some good bonding time together,” Leia informs him, smiling like a challenge. It’s one of the things he loves best about her, and also one of the things that never really fails to be a thorn right in the most tender part of his side, “and as for the new republic... Well, I think they can avoid imploding without me for at least a week.”

He stares speechlessly, horrified and reluctantly impressed all at once.

“Besides, I’ve been needing a holiday for a while,” Leia informs him blithely, and smiles the smile of a truly evil woman. Turns, and makes her way up the steps like she belongs there – queen of the Falcon, princess of the resistance, eternal and undeniable thorn right in his side, “come on, lover boy, it’ll be fun!”

He glances slowly at Chewie. Chewie stares innocently back at him, and makes a low rumbling sound that suggests not only that he agrees with Leia completely but that anybody who doesn’t is kind of an idiot.

Typical. He sighs, and follows in the wake of his wife.

 

--

 

“Okay,” he says, after manoeuvring the Falcon into orbit around Taris, “now this job should be fairly easy, but might just have some unexpected complications along the way. I suggest that you just follow my lead and let me do all the talking while we’re down there. Alright?”

Leia gives him an incredulous look. He doesn’t really blame her. The moment he heard those words coming out of his mouth, saw Chewie’s horrified expression out of the corner of his eye, he kind of wanted to go find a mirror to stare incredulously at himself, “let you, a flea bitten smuggler, do all the talking over me, an experienced member of the galactic senate?”

“I’m not that bad at talking,” he offers defensively, forces his hands to remain casually by his sides as opposed to shooting up into a desperately awkward surrender, “I talked you into marrying me, didn’t I?”

“I chose to marry you, Han Solo,” Leia starts angrily, and then pauses. Gets a briefly thoughtful expression on her face, the kind that always reminds him of how beautiful she is, “and, to be fair, I haven’t regretted it ever since. You truly believe that this is the best course of action?”

He nods, faintly relieved. He honestly loves their arguing most of the time, loves how Leia will cheerfully stand up to him in a way that so few people do, but it does tend to get in the way of things. Like smuggling missions, or rebuilding the republic, or an in any way peaceful life, “you said it yourself, Taris is a scummy place. And I know you can handle yourself, princess, but-“

“Escalating situations is one of the things I do best,” Leia says thoughtfully. And, before he can even give her a smile, turns to Chewbacca – who has been watching over the both of them with his customary weary fondness, “what do you think?”

...He blinks. Chewbacca smiles, and rumbles his piece without any further delay.

“Always direct and to the point,” Leia chuckles, and spins back to him in a businesslike manner. Before he even has time to start spluttering over how she apparently trusts his best friend’s opinion over his, “alright, Han, I’ll follow your lead on this. For now.”

 

--

 

“I can’t put into words how grateful I am,” Viette, the Twi’lek nominally in charge of the orphanage that is the destination for their supplies, says. Her hands twisted in front of her, lip bitten and eyes tired even as they set down the last box, “without this all the children were at risk, now... Well, we actually have a chance. I can’t thank you enough.”

“There’s no need for it,” he says as gruffly as he can. Which is nowhere near as gruffly as he’d like. Curse Leia and Luke, they’ve actually performed the trick of almost making him into an acceptable person, “I was just doing my job, ma’am. And now that I’ve done it we can be on our way.”

“You said that all the children were at risk,” Leia starts, so smoothly and innocently that it takes him a moment to grasp the utter and complete flouting of his directions, “why?”

“I would’ve thought that you’d-“ Viette sighs, shakes her head, glances up and actually starts addressing Leia like she’s the authoritative one here. It’s the senate meetings all over again, all he can do is fade into the background and gawp, “but, then, news never really got out of Taris even when the empire was intact. There’s been a reoccurrence of the Rakghoul problem, the plague that’s troubled this planet for centuries. Like most diseases, it tends to hit the young and the elderly the hardest.”

“So these supplies are vaccines, against the illness?” Leia muses, and doesn’t even glance in his direction as she hushes his burgeoning protest. Always nice to know that you’re appreciated, “forgive me for saying so, but shouldn’t you have already had some to hand? I mean, if this is a reoccurring problem...”

“We did!” Viette says, a touch defensively, and then sighs again. A shot of unwelcome sympathy goes through him at that. He’s seen that look on far too many faces in this galaxy, the trodden down masses who have entirely stopped believing in anything better because it’s never going to come along, “but... Well, there are so many gangs in town. They came just when the plague was starting, and raided our stores completely. There was nothing we could do. They had guns, and there are so few of us left that-“

“Gangsters,” Leia interrupts speculatively, and glances over at him. He can only stare back helplessly, already knowing where this is going at breakneck speed.

 

--

 

He last went into the underbelly of Taris about fifteen years ago, a young snot-faced smuggler with a lot to prove. He's both oddly relieved and understandably disgusted to find that it hasn't actually changed all that much since. The only differences being perhaps a little more grime encrusted on the walls, a few more people nervously crowding the ramshackle streets.

...Lovely.

Leia strides through it all with her head held high, her eyes narrow. She looks kind of out of place, but more in the manner of a goddess than an interloper. It's moments like this that make him love her all the more, the times when any normal person would hang back to think about things and she just surges forwards instead. Because Leia isn't normal. Leia is a goddess, a beautiful princess who truly possesses all the determination needed to rip up the universe and-

And he really should've been paying attention, as opposed to mooning over her. Before he can do more than blink Leia has stopped at a particularly busy intersection. She glances across the masses with a thoughtful expression in her eye, then purses her lips and lets out a piercing whistle.

"Leia," he hisses, as every eye in the intersection turns to stare at her.

"I hear that there's recently been a Rakghoul problem on Taris," Leia, of course, ignores him. Looks across the assembled masses, all caught in her thrall, with head held high and determination in her eyes, "I also hear that, as a result, people have been taking medicine and supplies from orphanages up above. Can anybody tell me about either of those things?"

A long pause, as everybody in the intersection shiftily glances at each other. And then, before he can grab his wife and politely suggest the virtues of moving off as soon as possible, a hulking Rattataki male steps from the crowd. Fixes them both with a hostile glare, and spits on the floor, "yeah, we've been taking supplies from up above. You got any problems with this?"

"One or two," Leia informs him. And, although the Rattataki towers over her, stands firm in the manner of somebody who faced down Darth Vader on multiple occasions and happily lived to tell the tale, "why did you take them?"

"Because we wanted to."

"That was obvious," Leia says dryly, and he narrowly resists the urge to properly grab her arm and start dragging her towards the nearest exit. He knows very well that it wouldn't go well, and that he'd probably lose his hand in the process, "but why did you want to? Is there a supply problem down here? Don't you have enough to take care of your own?"

"We're doing just fine," the Rattataki snorts, though with the kind of expression on his face like he's slightly intimidated by Leia's refusal to back down. He entirely understands that, dealing with his wife is sometimes depressingly like running repeatedly into a wall, "but we can always use more supplies, especially when the Rakghoul are involved. And if those above are too weak to keep them..."

"They're children," Leia snaps, her eyes narrowing in a way that he knows very well means danger ahead, "you're telling me that you took supplies from children not because you needed to, but because you could?"

"I-" the Rattataki stumbles for a moment, and then narrows his eyes. Tries to draw himself up a little, so he towers even higher above the tiny-looking Leia, "look, that's just how Taris works. The tough survive, the weak are left behind and the entire planet is the better for it. Really, when we took their stuff we did them a favour. A favour that I, at least, am entirely happy to do them again."

"You did the children you abandoned up there a favour?" Leia asks shrewdly, and tilts her head in much the manner of a snake about to strike, "you did the children whose parents you probably killed a favour, by exposing them to a plague that could potentially turn them all into ravenous monsters?"

"Look, lady," the Rattataki starts defensively, still holding himself up but quite obviously only by the very skin of his teeth, "if you have a problem with how we do things here-"

He glances at Leia. Leia glances back at him, with the faintest smile.

...And that's how Leia Organa-Solo ends up punching a Rattataki twice her size right in the nose, and starting a vicious gang war in the process.

 

--

 

The wall explodes by his head and he dodges the shrapnel only narrowly, scrambling to the side as the beam fizzles away to nothing and the loud yelling increases in the background. For disappointingly not the first time in his life he’s glad for his past experiences, avoiding a horrible death is always far easier when you're expecting loud yelling and insistent shooting as a matter of course.

Leia is standing behind the wall across from him, a small smile quirking her lips and gun firmly in hand. As he watches she peers quickly around the wall, takes aim and squeezes off a shot. A loud yelp of pain echoes, quickly followed by a brief cessation of the yelling.

...Well. He supposes, if nothing else, that at least it'll be good for the noise pollution levels around here. He slowly gets down into a crouch, crab crawls over to where his wife is calmly standing and preparing another shot, "you have to admit, this did not go exactly as planned. Can we get back to the ship now? Please?"

"What do you mean?" She frowns down at him briefly, pops out around the wall to fire off another shot before he can do more than open his mouth, "this is going well. I mean, perhaps it went a little off plan. But that's hardly the worst thing that could happen!"

"Leia," he snaps, trying to make his tone as level and sensible as possible, "people are shooting at us."

"I am aware," she purrs, and casually leans down to tug him out of the way of another laser bolt. Another laser bolt that would've probably done him severe damage, if not killed him outright, "but, again, I prefer to see that as a positive. If they're shooting at us they're troubled by us, and if they're troubled by us that means that they acknowledge that we have a point."

"...I'm pretty sure that's not at all how that works."

"That's because you never experienced the Galactic Senate under the control of Darth Vader," Leia informs him cheerfully, and yanks him up to his feet. Shoves him insistently in front of her, as she turns to squeeze off another devastatingly accurate shot, "most change begins with action, Han. You can either cower at the violence of it, or work with it as a feature. And I'm pretty sure which one I prefer."

...He's married into insanity. He rolls his eyes, draws out his own pistol and dedicates himself to working his way through it.

 

--

 

“Well, that went badly.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Leia says cheerfully, and drops into the co-pilots seat. Taking advantage of Chewie’s, who has taken the cowards way out and fled to do some obscure engineering work in the bowels of the ship, absence in the most teeth-grindingly annoying of ways, “Viette was pleased, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, but-“

“And the situation was fixed. Those gangsters are most certainly going to think before they target any innocents in the future.”

“Yes, but-“

“And so everything is resolved, everybody is happy and everyone has the perfect level of supplies for their situation,” Leia gives him her very smuggest smile, the one she always tends to wear after she’s rearranged the universe to her own liking, “really, Han, I’m pretty sure that went about as well as it’s possible for a situation to go.”

“...Leia,” he says, marvelling as ever at her level of confidence, “you are aware that you almost started a bloody gang war .”

“So?”

“No, not so!” he snaps, and plants his hands on his hips. Somehow, for reasons that he simply can’t imagine, his wife always manages to bring out their stubborn side. It’s been a feature of their relationship from its very earliest days, a bug that he can never quite seem to squash, “you almost started a gang war, you almost got us embroiled in the middle of that gang war and then you almost got us killed! It was not only a bad idea, but foolish and reckless, and-“

Leia is smiling, he realizes belatedly. The same old, mischievous smile that has always had him racing right into trouble without even a thought, “just like old days, huh?”

He stares at her for a second, stunned.

...He groans, and bends down to give her an exasperated kiss on the lips, “how do you always manage to make me nostalgic for being shot at by Stormtroopers?”

“The force moves in mysterious ways,” Leia smiles innocently, and kisses him back.

 

--

 

When they walk off the ship several days later, arm in arm, they’re immediately greeted by Luke. Hollow eyed, paler than before and holding a screaming Ben close to his chest. The moment he sees them his face cracks in relief, and he practically jogs forward to greet them, “I’m so glad that you’re finally back, I can barely put it into words.”

“We’re glad to be back,” Leia offers, takes their seemingly permanently bratty son into her arms with only the slightest frown. She’s always been impressive, has his Leia, “did everything go well, while we were away?”

“Ben wouldn’t stop screaming,” Luke informs them, a slightly frenzied light coming to his eyes as Ben decides to support his point and violently increases the volume, “I fed him, and he wouldn’t stop. I changed his diapers, and he wouldn’t stop. I put him to bed, and he wouldn’t stop. I even tried singing to him, but he just wouldn’t-“

“Well, you’ve always had a terrible voice so that explains it,” Leia informs him breezily, switches Ben to her other shoulder and bounces him until he splutters to an offended and scowling halt, “what about everything else, Luke, what about the senate?”

“Uh, well,” Luke stares for a second at his sister, annoyed and stunned in equal measure. Only gets going again when she pointedly arches an eyebrow, “I wasn’t able to pay much attention to them, due to Ben-“

“But...?” Leia probes, still pointed.

“But I think they’re debating whether to dissolve the republic’s army, and become a truly peace seeking organization,” Luke swallows, weakly. Glances dazedly in his direction, as if seeking support, “in fact, I think they’re voting on the proposals right-“

What?” Leia snaps. And, before he can do more than offer up the slightest sympathetic shrug, Ben is being shoved into his arms. His wife stepping away from the Falcon, and storming off in the direction of the Senate chambers with fury in her eyes, “those idiots! What were they thinking? Can’t they see, beyond their own overwhelming idiocy, that disbanding the army will-!”

“...So,” Luke starts eventually, optimistically as Leia’s angry ranting fades into the distance, “did you have a nice holiday, Han?”

“Well, I did get to smuggle several things,” he says philosophically, and tentatively tries to bounce Ben as the kid starts to warningly whimper yet again, “Help a few orphans, dismantle part of a corrupt society – all the good stuff, you know! We did almost get embroiled in a gang war, though. And we got shot at. And your sister punched a gangster in the face, and shot several others in even more delicate parts. So, overall a mixed bag!”

Luke stares at him flatly for a long few moments, eyes somehow going even more hollow in his head “...what?”

And, as Ben starts to scream in his arms, he reflects fondly yet again on how this is his life now.