"I don’t know what we're going to do."
Han sounds as lost as she's ever heard him, in these scant months since the Death Star, since Han has sort of, maybe, perhaps been part – no, adjacent to – the Rebel Alliance. Hauled cargo, run blasters, brought refugees, found them cheap ships to rebuild. Protesting all the way, but always coming back. He's squatting down next to the bed, rubbing a hand across his face and she can hear the beard stubble as he does. She's never seen him with a beard, but she might by the end of this.
Then again, Leia feels as lost as he does. They're stuck in the middle of some ridiculous almost pre-space flight town on a planet that trades only in certain areas. The Imperials are everywhere, hunting them, hunting someone, hunting. Armed patrols in the streets.
And they're in a rattletrap inn, kilometers from the port and a way out, huddled in one room, the pair of them.
Oh, and Luke, lying in a shivering, sweating mass under a blanket that Han declared he wouldn't use to wash down the Falcon. Sick with Ryshallen Fever, an illness she and Han had been vaccinated against as children, but they were from Core Worlds. An Outer Rim desert planet was always overlooked for the latest vaccines and its heat and lack of water would kill most germs. So a childhood illness had taken him down…and was only making him sicker by the moment.
She's sitting on the bed next to Luke. She'd tried to coax some water down his throat, bring him back, but he seems to be slipping further into a dream, muttering "not now, Aunt Beru." She settles for rubbing his shoulder, thinking there has to be something they can do. But like Han, she is running out of options.
"We need to get him out of here." She sighs, and Han meets her eyes.
"No, really, that was not on my list." He shakes his head, looking at her apologetically. "I'm thinking our best bet is for me to get us a speeder, we can bundle him in it, and haul ass for the port."
"But neither of us has enough credits to get a speeder."
"I wasn't thinking legally – "
"And if you steal one, the Imperials could be on to us."
"I'd considered that, sweetheart. I just don't know what else we can do. We can't wait for this to burn out, he's goin' under now. If we find a doctor around here, who knows if they won't just turn us over to the Imperials? That's our options. Hell, we don't even know if we take him to one, they'll know how to treat him. And the longer we stick around –"
"I know!" she snaps. "But you could go steal that speeder, get picked up by the Imperials and then where are we?"
"Well, they'd at least dose Luke up with something to stop the fever before they haul us all to Lord Vader," he says sourly.
Leia is ready to scream at him, but then he reaches out and strokes Luke's blond hair back from his forehead. "Poor kid. Next thing the Rebellion does, steal some damn vaccines. He might not be the only one."
"No." she says softly, amazed at the change in Han's expression, from hardened smuggler to what she and Luke call, behind his back of course, Han the Soft Touch. It sneaks out in tiny moments, but they'd taken to conspiratorially compiling them. She's heard him call Luke "kid" a thousand times at least, but this time… "He doesn't mind you calling him that, does he?"
Han is still looking at Luke and doesn't meet her eyes. "No. I'll probably call him that when we're both grey with grandchildren, he'll still be younger."
She doesn't dare derail his thought train – that they'll all ever be that old and still alive to be friends - but she can't resist. "You with grandchildren?"
He shoots her a grin. "Sure. Bound to happen someday, I guess. I could see myself with kids. I'd sure as hell treat 'em better than I ever got treated. And Luke? Hell, you know he'll have kids – he loves everyone…he'll have a pack of dreamers, like him." Han sits back on his heels, his hazel eyes at last finding hers. "What about you, Princess?"
"What about…children?" She's struck by the question at first, that Han would even think about it. She's thought in odd moments that if there ever is a peace, she wants children – what are they fighting for but for the future? And she wants a family – she needs one now that hers is lost. "First duty of a royal house is to have children. I was adopted, like Luke. My parents couldn't have children of their own, so they adopted me. I was a war orphan."
"But do you want them? I mean -" He winces as if he realizes again about Alderaan and she has to give him that much. There's a depth under that cynical layer or he wouldn't be here, with her and Luke, trying to find a way out for all of them. If he were really a mercenary, he'd've run long ago.
She meets his suddenly serious gaze. "Yes, I do. I want children – even if there's no more Alderaan to lead, it's in my memory and I will teach it to my children. But I want them to be born free – free of this Empire."
She wonders why they've taken this turn, into this ramble, with the Empire possibly closing in and Luke growing sicker by the moment. There's a vaccine for Ryshallen because it can kill. She knows that neither she nor Han will let that happen if it takes everything they have. She's still not sure what her feelings, really, are for either of them, if something more could develop for Han as he seems to want in the moments they aren't arguing, if she gives it a chance, or why the farmboy from the Outer Rim seems to have some part of her she can't identify. But she does know one thing under all the flirting and sniping from Han, the boundless optimism from Luke – something wove them together from the start. She has the sense that if they do all survive to having children – grandchildren – that they will be together. This war won't tear them apart. Han can protest all he wants about leaving, but he's not going. Luke's not going to die of some childhood illness that he should have been protected from if this galaxy had any justice beyond who has the most weapons and power.
She waits for Han to ruin the moment, as he often does, with a snarky joke. But this time, he doesn't. He simply nods, looks again at Luke. "Then we gotta start by getting us outa here. See if you can get him a least a little mobile, I'm gonna go steal us a ride." He gets wearily to his feet.
She can't resist. "Nothing flashy." She gives it a scolding tone, and as she expects – hopes - he rises to the bait.
"Look, Your Worship, I'm a smuggler – you think I'm gonna get us a flashy getaway ride?"
"Well, I don't know – "
"Would you two stop?"
And they both do at the mumble from Luke.
"Welcome back to the living," she says, looking at his eyes, half closed against even the dim light. "Feel any better?"
"No," he croaks and she reaches to bring him water. After a sip or two, he almost smiles. "But I will make it into whatever speeder you steal, Han."
She touches his forehead and maybe the fever has gone down a little. At least he knows who they are.
Han leans over to touch Luke's shoulder and manages a grin. "Good, Junior, I'm holding you to that." He straightens and heads for the door. "I'll comm you the second I get it runnin', you two be ready." His familiar crooked grin is for her, and he winks as he heads out the door.
This is her family now.