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The Storm

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Leia hunched over her desk and tried to focus on the hologram map of the supply route proposal, but the flickery light was exacerbating her incipient stress headache. She could hear Han's heavy footsteps as he packed his bags in their room upstairs. For three days, they had moved uneasily around each other, not speaking, this thing roiling between them.

The atmosphere in their quarters reminded Leia of the seasonal storms on Alderaan. She remembered how the clouds would gather at the horizon, first grey then the purple-black of an aging bruise before finally sliding into a sickly green, all while the air hummed with electricity.

Her breath caught in her throat, and she forced herself to relax all her muscles. Her father had told her once that the trees that moved with the winds were the trees that outlasted the storm. But she had a bad feeling that this storm would be the rare rain of destruction that brought no relief in its wake.

A curt knock at her office door broke her thoughts. “Yes?”

The door opened and Han stepped in as Chewie trailed uncertainly behind him.

“I'm leaving,” said Han.

“When will you be back?” Leia tried to keep her voice neutral.

His mouth twisted into a sad half-smile. “You tell me, Leia. When will I have something to come back to?”

His words were poison darts, and their aim was true. “What's that supposed to mean?”

“It means that I come home for my family. When will I have a family to come back to?”

And there it was. The bantha in the room. “Don't be ridiculous. You always have a family to come back to. Just because Ben is on Yavin, training with Luke, that changes nothing.”

Han pointed a finger at her, even though he knew how much that gesture irritated her. “You sent him away. You made that decision. Even though I've told you it's the wrong decision.”

“Your way wasn't working. You didn't see what happened at the school. The anger, the destruction. He was lucky that no one got hurt. You weren't here, so I had to do something.”

“So you're blaming me for not being here?” Han folded his arms, and Leia could see the anger coming off him, red swirling wisps that went straight to her neck. She fought the urge to rise and physically confront his anger.

Leia sat up straighter, squared her shoulders, and worked at using a calm voice. “This isn't about you. It's about our son. About trying to understand him. You think if we treat him like any other kid that he'll turn out just fine. You have no idea what it's like to live with, this thing, this force, inside of you. He needs more guidance and structure than we could ever hope to give him.”

Han leaned against the cabinet and looked at her. Leia let herself hope that the storm was going to subside.

“And you think that sending him away tells him that he's fine?”

Leia felt the ground shifting underneath her. “He knows it's not a punishment. I wasn't thrilled when my father sent me to boarding school, but I understood why I had to go.”

Han's laugh was short and cynical. “Your adoptive father sent you to a finishing school because you were a princess. Not even the same thing. And your real father slaughtered a whole school of younglings, so you're right, Leia, I don't know what it's like to live with evil in my blood.”

If Han's earlier words had been poison darts, these words were well-timed punches right to her heart. She felt her breath catch in her throat. She'd always understood the danger of being so close to another human being, that Han knew her weaknesses and her secret shames, but in all these years of being together, their arguments had always delicately stepped around the sore spots in their backgrounds.

Now that he'd tossed a neutron grenade into the middle of their relationship, she didn't feel particularly obligated to spare his feelings.

“Do what you do best,” she said, standing up and gesturing to the open door.

“I'll do that, your worship. I'm not just another citizen that you can impose your will on.”

Leia turned, refusing to watch him walk away. She heard the plaintive growl of a question from Chewie and Han's brusque response: “It'll be a cold day on Jakuu.”

The flippancy and willingness to throw everything away sent her anger to the boiling point. Her office door slammed shut, even though she hadn't moved at all. The bang echoed around the small room, a dull thudding in her head that matched the steady pulse of her anger.

She took a deep breath. Underneath her anger, she could already feel a trickle of regret. She could only hope that she'd been right about Ben and that Han would some day find his way back to them.