Lando needed a drink.
After the day he'd had at work, anyone would. He sighed as he glanced over at his comm; there were a conspicuously high number of calls, which beeped incessantly for his attention. Three urgent, seventeen total messages remaining, his comm chimed.
Lando ignored it in favor of perusing his collection of exotic liquors that he'd arranged out for company at his bar -- not that he had many, these days. The messages could wait. He'd long since learned that the executives on Hosnian Prime had a different idea of urgent than he did; ever since tensions with the First Order had spilled out into openly armed conflict, the Hosnian bigwigs couldn't get enough Tibinna to fuel their hyperdrives. People were paying a lot to keep mobile, and the cost – and production – of Tibinna had risen exponentially, as had Lando's headaches.
It ought to have been good times, Lando thought. Had it been like the old days on Bepsin, the first time he'd had this gig – he would have celebrated a price spike that was all but guaranteed to make him a very rich man.
But he was no longer a young man, and he recognized what his fortune was coming from: war.
Seemed like everybody was ready for an all-out war now, and he'd had to open three more chambers just to keep up with supplying the Republic. That wasn't even factoring in the gas he had personally ordered siphoned off the main lines in order to help fuel the Resistance. That special shipment wasn't without problems, either, considering that two of the five carbonite chambers had misfired today, damn near exploding the chamber and all but wiping out the Western wing of his largest facility for at least three days.
Three urgent, seventeen total messages remaining, his comm reminded him. Lando ignored it and turned his attention to more important matters.
It felt like a good excuse to use some of his finer liquors. Han had sent him a nice bottle of Port in a Storm after his team had won their first Championship – but the businessman in him refused to have anything too strong. The way things were going, he wasn't going to be able to take any time off the job to nurse a hangover.
He settled on a nice Nabian synthol – something from Leia, simple and utilitarian as her gifts tended to be. It was a bit basic, but it would do the job.
With a sigh, he flopped down into the most comfortable chair he owned. “Dim lights,” he groaned, and the holosuite he'd installed earned its keep by instantly slipping the lights down to something much more comfortable.
Incoming call from HAN SOLO…And three urgent messages, seventeen total messages remaining, his comm beeped.
“Alright, alright, enough with the messages.” He rubbed his temple for a moment before taking a quick sip of the synthol – it was nice, surprisingly smooth. He'd have to give Leia his compliments the next time he saw her...and perhaps share a glass or two, if there was time. “Send Han through.”
Han's grinning mug appeared on screen, and Lando couldn't help but smile in return. "Guess whose newest recruit just hit 15-0 on the Tarunda circuit?"
“Knew all those years running spice were going to be good for somethin'.” Lando chuckled. “Never figured it would be for coaching racers.”
“You better damn believe it.” Han grinned; age hadn't changed his swagger, not one bit, and Lando suspected it never would. “We're on the break, but the next stop is Anoat, and I better see you in the crowd. Know you can afford it.”
Lando laughed. “Not like you'll have much time to talk, you know.”
“We win the cup this year, I'll take you out. We're splurging on some of the best, Lando. Corellian whiskey – the good stuff.”
Lando stared down at his own synthol, which was perfectly serviceable but nothing compared to the smooth, full-bodied taste taste of aged Correllian whiskey. And Han was a master of finding the good stuff.
“Anyway...” Han coughed into his hand; that was a new thing, a sign they were all getting older. “Leia and I haven't been doing too good lately, so now that we're on the break, I thought me and Chewie would go looking for the Falcon again.”
“Oh no, what did you say this time?” He groaned. He'd long since learned to turn a blind eye to Han and Leia's spats – Han had been born with his foot stuck in his mouth, and the only thing that saved him from being the unluckiest son of a bitch in space was his ability to somehow always talk his way around the toes stuck between his teeth.
“It – it wasn't like that.” Han scratched his neck. “Just with...Ben...”
Lando sighed. “I guess some things never do get better.”
He'd never wanted to tie himself down like Han did. He'd learned in his smuggler days that the more you had to fear losing, the less you could sacrifice. That meant there were more risks you couldn't take, and more opportunities you had to let pass you by – something no businessman could abide. However, he had envied Han, at times, for his relationship with Leia – during the good days, at least. And certainly he'd been jealous of Han's relationship with his son.
It was hard to believe that the strange, thoughtful kid whose hair he'd once ruffled between his fingers was now a murderer.
“Yeah, so...” He coughed. “We've been...giving it time, you know. Just feels too raw. So you know, figured I'd try to track down my other girl.”
Lando raised an eyebrow. Neither of them had heard hide nor tail of the Falcon – not since Han lost her in a Sabaac game that a few too many bottles of Corellian whiskey. He'd had a tag out on it for years – and had paid for more than a couple bounty hunters to track it – but they'd never found any leads.
The trail had gone cold with the Rodesians who had stacked the deck against Han. He'd hoped they could find them, but it seemed like after their victory, they immediately fell into a black hole. At least that was what Lando had to conclude, judging by the fat lot of nothing he'd found.
In Lando's heart, he knew the old girl had most likely been scrappped years ago, but Han had refused to admit it.
“Don't give me that look.” Han scoffed. “I'll find her.”
“Yeah, I'm sure.” Lando nodded. They'd had that argument before, and he was too old to have it again. “You'll find her someday.”
“How's things on Bepsin?” Han seemed disinclined to argue as well -- another sign he was getting older, given how Han had once kept him up over twenty-four hours arguing whether or not moving a Rancor piece diagonally in chess was cheating or not.
“Ugh,” Lando put his hand over his face. “Let's not talk about it.”
“Business is bad, huh?” Han shook his head. “Sorry. You'll get around it though. Always do.”
That's not the problem. Business is booming just – “
“Too much?” Han sighed. “Should have guessed. Leia mentioned you'd been supplying.”
They were both quiet for a moment. Han looked down at his shoes; Lando took a sip of his synthol. It felt erie in the silent; too calm, like they were in the eye of a storm. Lando had never thought silence was a good sign – the best place to take advantage of a mark was always at a busy table, with lots of distractions. It felt like the entire galaxy was held on the tip of a knife, and Lando didn't know what way they were all going to fall. There was a bad feeling in the air, the sort that made any buyer apprehensive about committing to a big deal.
“You ever miss the rebellion?” Han asked; he looked wistful, his eyes not looking on Lando but on some far-gone event that Lando couldn't see. “It always seemed simpler back then. You and me and – “
“I don't miss being forced into making deals with Darth Vader. Or being choked by wookies.” Lando shook his head. Things had been simpler in those days; the lines between good and evil more clearly drawn. But it had still been terrifying.
“Hell, at least Vader made deals. This First Order…”
“Yeah. They're bad news.”
Han looked away; Lando didn't probe. He knew enough of Ben's struggles to know that the kid had wound up in bad company; he took after his father in finding trouble.
And he didn't have Han's mouth for getting out of it.
“He'll wise up, Han.” Lando said. He wasn't sure of it, but he'd long ago learned to tell Han what he wanted to hear. “Might be like his old man – just needs a few years.”
“Yeah, well.” Han said. Han never was good with the feelings talk – he was just about the only man in the galaxy who could get away with answering an I love you from his lady with I know – and Lando knew a dodge when he saw one. “I-- I gotta go. Chewie and I are going to lose the scent of this one if we don't hurry.”
“Be safe, Han,” Lando said, but he knew Han wouldn't. It had never been Han's style to do anything less than throw caution to the wind, but he felt obligated to remind Han to take care of himself. “Don't do anything risky. You're not as spry as you used to be.”
“Stop you're worrin.” Han rolled his eyes. “You're getting worse than Leia.”
“She's a good woman, Han. Would sure be a real pity if she became some gorgeous young widow in need of comforting.” He ran a hand through his hair, shooting a rakish grin at Solo. Maybe it would work – Han always had been more responsive to threats than flattery.
“Hey, don't joke about that.” Han pointed at him. There was an impatient roar in the background – garbled in the transmission, but it could only be Chewie. Han turned to face the unseen wrath of the wookie. “Okay, alright! I'm going already!”
“Take care, Lando.” Han didn't immediately wink out of Lando's holosuite; his image lingered for a moment, his hand still frozen in time on the switch. Lando couldn't help but notice all the shadows on Han's eyes; they were both getting older, and things were only getting more complicated.
He had a bad feeling about all this. For a moment he debated calling Han back – telling him to stop chasing the Falcon, to go home to Leia – but he didn't. Han wouldn't answer anyway. He was still as damn stubborn as he'd ever been, and Lando knew better, at this point, than to bother telling Han some advice that Han had no doubt disguarded after deciding that it didn't fit him.
Five urgent messages, twenty-eight total messages remaining, his comm chirped helpfully. Lando groaned.
“Play urgent messages,” he sighed.
He tried to banish the uneasy feeling that settled over him as he listened to senators and executives try, desperately, to push themselves up the time-table for Tibanna; it clung to him, and the synthol didn't help him shake it.
With a heavy heart he sighed and brought up the console for the Tibanna processing chambers, and switched another two over to the Resistance.
He had a feeling they were going to need it.